How to Hide Your Feelings (for 6,000 years) @raichel
Method 3: PANIC

Aziraphale jolted at Crowley’s comment, having been absolutely lost in his own thoughts.

“Wrong?” he echoed, “No, no. Nothing’s wrong. Everything is just fine, my dear. So sorry.” He waved the comment away, and for a moment more they sat in silence. Crowley never looked away from Aziraphale, trying to read him. It didn’t help that the angel wouldn’t make eye contact. “Have you ever been in love?” Aziraphale finally asked, still not looking straight at him.

Crowley hesitated. He was becoming worse at lying to Aziraphale by the day, but he couldn’t be that honest. 

Crowley hesitated. He was becoming worse at lying to Aziraphale by the day, but he couldn’t be that honest. 

“Well, ah… I suppose so,” was the answer he landed on.

“Oh,” was the angel’s simple response, and he seemed somehow downcast, though Crowley couldn’t imagine why. “Are— are you in love with someone now?” Aziraphale asked, cautiously meeting Crowley’s eyes.

This one definitely he couldn’t answer truthfully. But it wasn't like he could just not answer. His mouth opened and closed several times, and various guttural sounds bordering on vowels made it out of his throat as he tried to form a suitable answer. He was not successful.

“You are, then,” Aziraphale read him dead to rights. “I see.”

“W-why do you ask?” Crowley finally managed.

“Simply a curiosity my dear,” was the only answer he got. “shall we go?”

“O-of course,” Crowley stammered, still quite shaken. He followed Aziraphale in getting up from the table. “where can I take you?”

“I’ll be fine,” Aziraphale told him as they stepped out of the building.

“Anywhere you want to go, Angel,” he insisted.

“I can’t trouble you like that.”

“It’s no trouble,” he said, one hand on the Bentley’s door handle now, “you know that by now.”

“Just let me go, dear boy.”

Crowley knew better than to push it. He settled for asking, “See you soon?”

Aziraphale only nodded, already walking away.

Crowley gave it a week. Since armageddon’t they had seen each other roughly once a week, if not more, and it seemed smart to let Aziraphale make the first move. Only he didn’t. He tried to give the angel a call then, but got no answer, and the old phone in the shop had no answering machine. After nearly two weeks and at least five calls the demon’s patience had run out.

He stepped carefully into the bookshop, not wanting to startle the angel. When Aziraphale looked up Crowley couldn’t parse out the mess of emotions that crossed his face in barely a second.

“Hello, Angel,” Crowley said, throwing on a grin and sauntering over to him, “care for some lunch? I happened to be in the area, and—“

“Not today, dear,” Aziraphale responded with a half-hearted smile, turning back to shelving books.

“What about sushi?” Crowley pressed, taking the long way round to circle the angel and look him in the face again. “My treat.”

“I appreciate it, but I’m taking some time for myself right now.” was all he said before shuffling away again. Crowley followed after him.

“Angel, I’m sorry. Whatever I did to upset you, I’ll make it up to you, anything you want—“

“It’s not your fault dear boy,” Aziraphale assured him, giving him that smile again. But it wasn’t the right smile. Not the unbridled sunshine that could overtake the angel’s face, but closer to light filtering through rainclouds, once the rain’s stopped but the pavement’s still damp. 

“Perhaps I can try and cheer you up, then, if I can’t apologize? Or we could drown our sorrows in alcohol?” he offered, reaching desperately for a foothold. He couldn’t say the words “I miss you,” but perhaps he was a bad enough actor that they were painted all over his face.

“I’m perfectly content here. You’re free to go off and do whatever you like.”

“I’ve got nowhere else to be.”

“Surely you have other things you could be doing,” Aziraphale said, “you could spend time with your love?” there was no ice in the angel’s tone. The words sounded as kind as when he spoke highly of someone or admired the ducks, but that hint of sadness in his eyes turned the words into knives that drove deep into Crowley’s heart. He watched Aziraphale continue to putter around the shop. He was rooted to the spot, frozen in that comment. 

‘Stuck between a rock and a hard place’ would not be a bad way to describe his current position. Did Aziraphale know? Had he shown one too many emotions and ruined everything? No, wait, that didn’t make sense. Aziraphale didn’t seem to think he was Crowley’s “love,” as he’d put it. So why all the fuss? Had he crossed the line, turned against nature, as a demon feeling love? Was he still a demon in Aziraphale’s eyes, first and foremost? Why had this fucked everything up, and, more importantly: could he fix it?

Crowley spluttered, and returned to motion, slinking back up beside Aziraphale,

“S-sorry, what was that?”

“I’m sure your love can occupy you until I’m feeling more up to socializing,” Aziraphale reiterated, tone and smile still kind as ever. He meant it, and that was almost worse than if he was being petty. But that was it, his face had given it away. He was upset, somehow, about Crowley being in love.

“H-he— Y— they won’t talk to me at the moment,” Crowley said, and he wasn’t quite lying.

“They’ll come around in time,” Aziraphale hummed, finding passing tasks to busy himself with.

“I’m not sure. There seems to have been, um, a bit of a misunderstanding.”

“Communication is key in relationships. But perhaps Madame Tracy would better know what to—“

“I’m trying to work it out myself,” Crowley muttered, still studying the angel. He had to go for it, see if his suspicion was right. Baby steps. “Angel, you’re not jealous, are you?”

Aziraphale flinched, just barely, and stammered, fumbling for an answer.

“…You are?” Crowley realized, voice getting small. His glasses had slipped down his nose just enough that he could see a bit over top of them. “What does it matter to you that I’m in love?” he pressed, taking a step closer to Aziraphale. He couldn’t say it, could barely even hope that maybe, just maybe…

“It doesn’t!” Aziraphale insisted, “It shouldn’t. Really, Crowley, if you would just leave me alone—!”

Aziraphale marched off to another wing of the shop, leaving Crowley with no idea what to do. He was as desperate to do whatever the angel wanted as to never leave the angel’s side. It was like telling a sheepdog to leave the herd to fend for itself. Aziraphale kept trapping him without any idea what he was doing.

“Forever?” Crowley asked, dashing after Aziraphale. A hint of desperation snuck into his voice.

“No, not forever!” Aziraphale huffed.

“But for a while?” Crowley asked. No answer, which told him, “Probably, yes,” and Crowley didn’t like that answer. “Wha-what if I drop the whole love thing? I’m not in love, I never was. Really!” 

“Don’t be ridiculous!” Aziraphale snapped, and Crowley flinched back. “I could never ask something like that of you. I wouldn’t dare!”

“You don’t have to ask, I’m volunteering—“

“No, absolutely not! I couldn’t stand it if you abandoned something so important on my account. You have to be with the one you love, Crowley.”

Again, a rock and a hard place. The angel had no idea. (Aziraphale was, in fact, heavily preoccupied by the terror of how painful it would be to be permanently separated from the one you love, and realizing again just how strong these feelings towards Crowley could be. Crowley also had no idea how much of an asshole he was being to the angel.) Crowley decided to take another approach entirely.

“Y-you know, I never turned the question back on you,” he said, after a moment of silence so tense it might snap under the weight of a pin. “Have you ever been in love?” he asked, quiet. The voice of a child, reprimanded for asking too many questions. Aziraphale hesitated. The silence between them was pulled even tighter.

“I'm an angel, Crowley, I feel love for all things.” he kept his hands busy, and his eyes on his task. He didn’t risk a look at Crowley.

“Surely not all things,” Crowley retorted, “but what about being in love? You know—“

“Yes, of course I know,” Aziraphale snipped at him. “it was hard to separate out for a long time. I— I think I have been, though,” he admitted.

Crowley hesitated. He was inching closer to a point of no return.

“A-and now? Are you, um, currently…?” As Crowley trailed off you could practically hear the space between them groan with the tension. Aziraphale took a deep breath, eyes darting around the room before zipping up to finally look Crowley in the face again. They darted back away again.

“Perhaps,” was the short answer. Crowley’s heart was steadily climbing into his throat.

“A-Aziraphale,” Crowley started, and, oh no, he couldn’t turn back now, “would it change anything if, er, if I l-loved…you?”

The tension in the room snapped like an abused rubber band, leaving Crowley and Aziraphale panicky messes. The absolute shock that took over Aziraphale’s face was quickly mirrored by terror on Crowley’s face.

“O-or not!” Crowley backtracked, “If that’s a bad thing, I—“

“What?! A-are you— Please, don’t lie to me about this,” Aziraphale pleaded, grabbing Crowley’s hands, trapping the demon again. 

The pair stilled, staring intently at each other. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, the demon had to commit. Crowley swallowed hard.

“I love you, Aziraphale.” It was such a strange thing to have it said so plainly. He was still filled to bursting with swirling terror, fear, anticipation, but an immense pressure was lifted. After so many millennia he hadn’t even realized how heavy it had become.

Aziraphale, on the other hand, found the nerves, sadness, fear, stress, every emotion in him suddenly shifted into pure, unadulterated love and affection. Not the angelic, holy kind, but the sweet exhilarating kind, laser-focussed on Crowley. He had to respond. The terror in the demon’s face was mounting by the second. Six thousand years’ doubts, limits, judgements, hesitations had all crumbled away. 

Aziraphale grabbed Crowley’s lapels and yanked him into a kiss, pressing himself into the demon and aiming to share every ounce of love in him. 

Crowley tensed under the unexpected display of affection. It took a second or two to sink in what was happening. It hadn’t all gone wrong. Aziraphale was still here. Even closer than ever before! He never could have dreamed of any of this. He also couldn’t let it pass him by. He took the angel’s head in his hands, fingers intermingling with hair, and returned Aziraphale’s boundless enthusiasm. Six thousand years of adoration, affection, devotion, resignation, overflowed into so much passion. 

It took a long time for them to break apart. Enough time that hands migrated here and there, resting on a neck here, grabbing at an arm there, desperate to keep the other close. When they finally broke apart Aziraphale’s hands had found their way up to Crowley’s head, and the demon’s had somehow made it down near the angel’s hips.

“I love you too,” Aziraphale added, as soon as he had the chance.

“I would hope so, after ssssuch a display,” Crowley retorted, sly grin painted across his face. He wasn’t even bothered to be hissing.

“Well, it’s been quite a while,” Aziraphale pointed out, getting a chuckle out of the demon.

“I’d say that’s an understatement. You know, I never pegged you as a jealous angel.”

Aziraphale blushed, looking away for a moment.

“It’s really Madame Tracy’s fault,” he insisted. “she insinuated you might somehow be spoken for, and I suppose my imagination got carried away with all the lovers you might’ve had—“

“Don’t worry, Angel,” Crowley said, leaning his forehead against Aziraphale’s, “there’s only you. There’s only ever been you.” 

Aziraphale broke back out into a smile. That right, beautiful, blinding smile that lit up Crowley’s life.

1. Method 1: Burying Feelings and Resignation 2834 0 0 2. Method 2: Pretend it Never Happened 2567 0 0 3. Method 3: PANIC 2118 0 0