Even Crowley had to admit, that Rome was a beautiful place. He had been spending quite some time in Europe’s biggest city during the last 500 years. The 6th century had been off to a good start. As most world powers did, the Romans did more evil than Crowley could ever take credit for. Aziraphale had it worse. Crowley had kept an eye on the angel, obviously for demonic reasons, and was secretly impressed with the angel's hard work. Ever since Christianity had become Rome’s state religion, the Angel had to resolve misunderstandings. Making so called Christians advocate for hate had been one of hell’s better ideas.
The two of them were about to meet at the local Forum, a huge marketplace which was always crowded. They had made a custom out of meeting weekly to gossip about heaven and hell. Crowley spotted Aziraphale coming up to him with two cups of Posca, a soft drink, which had become quite popular lately. He took the drink, making a point out of not thanking the angel. Aziraphale ignored him and started rambling about modern literature while they walked along the street.
After a while they passed a store Crowley hadn’t seen before. It had beautiful jewelry showcased on the counter. He stopped to take a closer look.
Aziraphale walked up next to him. “This must be the new Jeweler” he said. The Angel picked up a necklace. “The work is really good” he said, “but I am afraid it might be a little too fancy for this neighborhood”.
Crowley made an agreeing noise. He walked down the counter looking for something he might like, when he noticed a small silver ring. An engagement ring, to be to be precise. Crowley secretly liked the way humans gave each other rings to promise everlasting love. Without thinking he picked it up, reading the inscription on the inside. “Quia amor vitae meae usque ad mortem”, he whispered under his breath.
“Quite romantic, don’t you think?” Aziraphale asked. Crowley hadn’t noticed him standing next to him. He almost dropped the ring rushing to put it back. Thank someone that his cold blood didn’t make him blush.
“I just thought this thing is quite strange,” he lied, “why put so much trouble into making an inscription on the inside? Nobody will see it anyway.”
The Angel shook his head. “You don’t wear it to show off!” he explained. “You are supposed to give it to the person you love. I think it’s a wonderful gesture.” He smiled at him.
“I still don’t get it” Crowley said. He did get it, but there was no way he could ever give the person he liked a ring. He turned away from the jewelry, hoping to change the topic, but Aziraphale still tried to explain it:
“Just imagine loving someone so dearly, that you wear a love note from them for the rest of eternity.”
Images of him and Aziraphale holding hands in a distant future, still together after all these years, came into Crowley’s mind uninvited. He shook his head and panicked.
“That’s probably the problem.” he heard himself saying. “Demons don’t love”
Crowley could have bitten off his own tongue as soon as he did. He couldn’t have told a more obvious lie. Angels and Demons were basically the same after all and he was pretty sure, that every being ever created was given the ability to love. He looked up to Aziraphale, expecting him to make fun of him, but the angel just looked really hurt. It made Crowley feel way worse about the whole thing. He would be upset if his friend lied to him as well.
“I guess I’ll stop bothering you then” Aziraphale said.
It was a Wednesday morning. Only a few weeks had passed since the almost-apocalypse. Crowley was slightly overwhelmed. He had not heard a tone from hell since he stood up for earth and the thought of spending eternity on earth, doing whatever he wanted to do, was as exciting as it was disturbing. Not knowing what to do with himself, he strolled to Aziraphale’s book store, as he had done so often lately. As he walked in he found Aziraphale sitting in his favorite armchair, his legs hanging over the armrest, reading book. The Angel held up a finger, signaling him to wait while he finished his page. Crowley tapped his foot impatient. He hated being ignored. Half a minute passed until the Angel placed his bookmark. He looked up at Crowley, and smiled at him.
“Is it morning already?” he asked yawning. Not needing sleep did not stop the angel from getting exhausted after sitting in the same position for hours.
“It’s almost noon” Crowley answered, pulling back the curtains of a small window. A few sunrays sparkled in the dusty air. “Have you been reading this all night?” He looked at the huge book raising a single eyebrow.
“I guess I did” Aziraphale said, sounding slightly surprised. “It turned out to be quite gripping”.
He carefully closed the novel. The books cover was skillfully painted with flowers and even Crowley could tell, that it was some sort limited edition. He picked it up to get a better look at it, which was actually pretty brave of him, considering that Aziraphale once broke his hand for ripping a page in a Jane Austin novel. This book did not appear to be the same caliber as Jane Austin anyway, but Crowley knew, that for Aziraphale every cheesy teen novel was a masterpiece of literature.
“Spring in the woods”. Crowley read the title out loud, making his voice sound slightly sarcastic to tease his angel. Aziraphale blushed. He tried to get the book back but Crowley quickly walked a few steps backwards. He opened it, careful not to damage it. After all, he would not purposefully damage something Aziraphale cared about. He found the blurb and started to read it out loud:
“All her live Lexi had lived in New York. She is outraged when her parents decide to move to Sweden with her and her annoying little brother.” Crowley sighted theatrical, pretending to be an outraged teenage girl. Aziraphale tried to make a disapproving face, but it turned into a giggle. “Her whole live turns upside down when she meets the handsome Olithir (‘Ohhh Olithir’) in the woodlands close to her new home. The mysterious boy is more than he seems to be, and soon a powerful elf king plots to kill Lexi.” Crowley looked at Aziraphale over his sunglasses trying to keep a serious expression. “Angel, I don’t want to spoil this for you, but I believe this Olithir might be an elf” he said.
“Oh be Quiet” Aziraphale said, throwing a pillow at him. Crowley dodged it with demonic elegance.
“Come on! An evil elf king tries to kill a teenager? How can you like this stuff so much?” he asked.
“It’s really romantic!” the angel tried to defend himself.
“Romantic!” Crowley laughed. Aziraphale frowned.
“I just really like romance” he said sniffy.
“Romance, huh? I can see it! Lexi and Olithir, a love story for centuries!” Crowley just couldn’t let it rest.
“Oh what do I expect from a demon?” Aziraphale sighted. “You said the same thing about Romeo and Juliet.”
Crowley was about to argue about Romeo and Juliet not actually being a love story, but the way Aziraphale said demon made him hesitate.
“How would me being a demon play into this?” he asked, trying not to sound hurt.
“I am sorry” Aziraphale said, “but demons don’t feel love, do they?” He looked at Crowley with an apologetic smile.
“We don’t?” Crowley asked in surprise. “Why do you think I am-.” He stopped himself before he could finish the sentence with “-so obsessed with you”. He stopped, trying to collect his thoughts.
“No need to defend yourself, dear boy, I can respect that” Aziraphale said with a weak smile. “But maybe you should respect me and not make fun of my novel.” He snatched the book out of Crowley’s hand. The demon looked at him upset.
“Which absolute idiot told you, that demons can’t love?” he asked.
Aziraphale snorted. “That would have been you” he said, but the smile didn’t reach his eyes.
A faint memory of Rome unfolded in Crowley’s mind. He had tried to forget this awkward mess for the last centuries. Did the Angel actually believe him back then? 6000 years of him flirting and Aziraphale assumed he was not even capable of love. How could he mess this up so badly?
“Uh I believe I have to leave now,” he said slightly panicking, “you know, I need to water my plants.”
“Are you alright?” Aziraphale asked, but Crowley had already fled.
Crowley drove home even faster than he usually did, which almost caused a bunch of pedestrians to have a heart attack. He vaguely remembered leaving the Bentley at home that morning, but he had just expected it to be parked in its usual spot. If he had known, that he accidentally vanished the Mercedes of Aziraphale’s annoying neighbor in the process, it might have improved his mood. But the way things were he was too occupied with his own problems to find delight in other people’s troubles.
At home he let himself fall face-first into his couch. His sunglasses pressed uncomfortably into his face, so he vanished them with a though. This entire situation was just so stupid and he hated himself for being a coward. But how could he explain this situation to Aziraphale without telling him about his crush? He had missed his chance to laugh it off and just tell the Angel the truth. He had already made a big deal out of it. But Crowley hated the idea of just letting the misunderstanding be.
He walked into his kitchen, hoping that eating would help him clear his mind. Usually whatever he wanted to eat just appeared inside his fridge, but this time it stayed empty. He opened and closed it again, tying to concentrate, but nothing changed. Apparently he didn’t want to eat after all. He was tempted by the bottle of wine, which was standing on his counter, but drinking would only leave him more of an emotional mess than he already was. He left his kitchen even more stressed out than before. He tried to play some music, but every single cd he owned already annoyed him when he looked at the cover. Restless he sat down on his couch again. Maybe he should just go back and solve the misunderstanding, he decided. He could think of something clever to explain himself while he was driving.
A few minutes later Crowley was standing in front of Aziraphale’s door, still not knowing what to say. He rang the doorbell trying not to panic. The Angel opened the door, holding his book open with one hand. Crowley assumed he went back to reading right after Crowley had left.
“Ah I wasn’t sure if you wanted to come back”, the Aziraphale said. “How are your plants doing?”
“My wh-? Oh my Plants! They are doing great!” Crowley replied, trying hard to make normal conversation. “How is your Book going?” he asked, as he followed the Angel inside.
Aziraphale rambled about a confusing plot line, which involved Lexi’s brother being kidnapped by woodland spirits, while he made some tea for the two of them. Crowley sat back on the couch and relaxed a little. He could have listened to the Angel for hours. He came back with two cups of tea and sat down next to Crowley.
They sat in silence for a few moments, each caught up in their thoughts. After a while Crowley said: “I lied to you, you know?”
Aziraphale looked up in surprise and Crowley realized that he had forgotten to re-materialize his sunglasses when the angel looked him straight into the eyes.
“Are you apologizing for something?”
“No. Well maybe yes, but I kind of just want you to know the truth” he said. “I do love.”
Aziraphale blushed and Crowley’s heard did a little jump. “You do?” he asked.
“I do” he said, and in a sudden rush of adrenaline he added: “and I have been loving for the last 6000 years”.
The angel pulled him into a kiss. Crowley flinched back in surprise, dropping his teacup on the floor. Aziraphale looked at him in horror. “I am sorry, I-“. He stuttered. But Crowley didn’t want him to apologize. He wrapped his arms around the Angel and kissed him. He could feel Aziraphale relax in his arms as he leaned into the kiss. After what felt like an eternity Aziraphale pulled back, trying to catch a breath he didn’t need. Crowley rested his head on his chest. “Let’s stay like this forever” he said.
A few days later Aziraphale and Crowley were sitting on Crowley’s expensive couch. They had a dinner reservation later that night in a restaurant down the street. Aziraphale had decided to drop by early and Crowley did not mind at all. Currently he was trying to work out a plan on how to get into the angel's lap without making it awkward, when Aziraphale asked: “Why did you lie to me about feeling love?”
Crowley flinched at the embarrassing memory. “Oh no! Don’t ask!” he said, burying his face in a pillow. Aziraphale moved closer, slowly pulling the pillow down until he looked into Crowley’s eyes.
“I really want to know” he said. Crowley noticed how close their face were. He gave the Angel a quick kiss, trying to change the topic, but Aziraphale stayed persistent.
“It really doesn’t matter” Crowley said.
“Then why don’t you tell me?” the Angel asked.
“It was stupid!” he answered.
“It obviously was!”
Crowley blushed. “I just felt like gushing over a wedding ring was not very demonic” he admitted. “You know, I have a reputation to lose”. Crowley hesitated before adding: “Also I did not want you to know, that the ring made me think of you.”
Aziraphale frowned. “My dear, this is really cute, but also… I don’t know how to put this… Are you fucking kidding me?” he asked.
Hearing the Angel swear almost made Crowley fall of the couch. A weak “Mind your language” escaped him before he could hold it back. Apparently he really did make himself look like a nerd today.
Aziraphale took a deep breath trying to calm down. “I am sorry, dear” he said, “but you really did make me think I had the worst case of an unrequired crush in the entire history of creation for what? 1500 years? Because you wanted to look cool?” Aziraphale leaned back shaking his head. “And I still believe it is charming” he said.
“You do?” Crowley asked.