Aziraphale had the strangest sensation that he was falling, even while he sat entirely still. He’d emptied another glass of champagne and Crowley, who was ordering another bottle, seemed to be glowing around the edges. Aziraphale blinked slowly, as if he thought the golden aura he saw around the fallen angel might dissipate. But it was still there, like a beacon, guiding him in.
“You’ve got a funny look on your face, angel,” Crowley said, leaning towards him. “What is it?”
“I… I don’t know,” Aziraphale said honesty. “I think… I think I might be ill.”
“We’ve only had one bottle of champagne. It can’t be that, can it?”
“No. It’s not that. It’s… well, it’s the strangest thing. I don’t know how to explain it.”
Aziraphale gulped. It was all catching up with him at once. How did he explain that there hadn’t been a day in the last six thousand or so years when he hadn’t thought of Crowley? He could explain the joy he’d felt at stumbling across the demon in Rome or finding that the Black Knight had actually been him. He could try to summarize what it felt like when, chained and bound for the guillotine in Revolutionary France, Crowley had appeared to free him. It might be worth mentioning the fluttering feeling that spasmed through his chest and stomach, the flushed feeling in his cheeks, the dizziness in his mind. It might be important to mention that night at the church in the 1940s when, thinking his most precious books were lost in the explosion that Crowley bent down and handed him the bag, their fingers just brushing, and Aziraphale felt a euphoric rush the like of which he’d never experienced before.
There were countless moments over the millennia that Aziraphale might mention in the hopes of describing whatever had made its way into body - or was it heart? His soul? His very existence? - and all of it fell flat. Love was such a human term. It could last days or years or even decades. But the sort of feeling he had that stretched over entire epochs… what could he possibly say to describe it? “Hello, yes, Crowley, I’ve realized I might have been a little in love with you since you teased me about the flaming sword at the Garden of Eden.” That simply wouldn’t do. These feelings had grown around the very opposition of Heaven and Hell, the way that a tree grew tall around a boulder. It had survived long distances and cold silences (Aziraphale squirmed to think of the argument they’d had in the 1800s. It was such a shame. He’d rather enjoyed the 1800s and would have enjoyed it more if he’d seen more of Crowley then). It had survived the very end of the world. And now… after all of this, after facing the Apocalypse itself, Aziraphale felt more than a little out of sorts. It was not shocking to realize that he loved Crowley - he had known this long ago. What was shocking was how much he loved Crowley - how large the feelings had become. The multitudes they encompassed. The generations it spanned, the vibrant colors it shone with. It was so much more than Aziraphale could ever possibly put human words to. It was ineffable.
Aziraphale reached out and took Crowley’s hand in his. He paused a moment, taking it what it was like to feel warm skin against his, the grip of his own fingers wrapped around Crowley’s. “I do hope,” he said softly, “in the weeks to come I see more of you. So much more of you.”
Crowley’s cheeks flushed. “I… er… I do too, angel.”
“There’s nothing that stands between us now, you know,” Aziraphale continued. “And I rather think I have been warring with myself as much as I have been against the end of the world. I… I’m rather fond of you, my dear, and I… I’m afraid I haven’t been as honest with you as much as I wish I had. Had… had the circumstances been different, I would have liked nothing better than to go to Alpha Centauri with you.”
Crowley’s cheeks burned brighter than his hair. “Is that right?”
“Yes. But I’m rather glad I refused. Wouldn’t have an Earth here otherwise, I suppose.”
“No. I expect not.” Crowley studied him. His eyes lingered on Aziraphale’s bluish-grey ones and traced down the sides of his cheeks, his throat, his perfectly pressed coat and shirt. “We could still go, you know. We deserve a proper holiday after all of that.”
“I agree,” Aziraphale smiled. “A nice little retreat to the stars.”
“Or perhaps… we could find a quiet little B and B on the North sea and just… sit and watch the sun set.”
“I rather like that. Perhaps a nice walk along the beach with a cup of cocoa. And maybe this.”
Aziraphale placed his palm against Crowley’s cheek, tucking his fingers around the demon’s jaw. Aziraphale leaned in and kissed him, lightly, tenderly. With his lips, he told him, “I love you. I have loved you for thousands of years. I have waited so long to tell you and this is the only way I can tell you. Words are not enough for someone who is so much more.”
The angel pulled away, one hand still resting on Crowley’s cheek, the other wrapped in his hand. Crowley did not say anything at first. He didn’t move. He didn’t blink.
“Crowley - are you alright?”
“Angel,” Crowley gasped. “The next time you do that, warn me first? I think you gave me a heart attack.” Crowley slumped, his head heavy on Aziraphale’s hand and the angel pulled him in so that the demon’s head was resting on his shoulder.
“I’m sorry, my dear. I thought… well, you were always so assertive and physical -”
“Yes. But that was different. I… I... When it comes to emotions other than anger I’m…” He muttered something indistinguishable.
“What was that?”
“I’m shy.” Crowley gritted his teeth. “I can while and beguile you all day but the faintest bit of tenderness and I’m a mess.”
“I see that,” Aziraphale stifled a laugh. “Look at you, a big bad demon turned to mush.”
“Don’t tease me,” Crowley wailed. “I’ve been hopelessly pining for centuries. And now… what am I going to do with all of these feelings?”
“Share them with me, I rather imagine,” Aziraphale gently kissed his brow. “You know, only moments ago I had no idea how to explain what I was feeling… I still don’t with words, but at least I have some grasp now. I fear you’ve found yourself in just the opposite position.”
“Yeah. Something like that. I mean… it’s funny how slow things can be, how long it can take, and then how fast it all can change. If you’d told me yesterday I’d be here right now, I wouldn’t have believed you. Though yesterday I thought the world was going to end, so there’s that.”
“Yes. I do believe you’re babbling, Crowley. You don’t have to talk.”
“I want to talk. All I want to do is talk. I want to tell you every single thought I’d ever had in my head. All things I didn’t say those years ago when we were playing that wretched Arrangement game. All the things I don’t know how to say. All the… the things - “
He pressed his lips against Aziraphale’s and with this kiss, he told the angel, “Stay with me. Always. Share this world with me. Share the cosmos with me. All of it. Always.”
Aziraphale savored this for a moment, keeping his eyes closed long after the kiss had ended. “Perhaps we should go back to the bookshop. Open a bottle of wine. I believe we have a great deal to tell each other.”
Crowley squeezed his hand an a sly smile crossed his lips. “We do indeed, angel. I have all the passions in the universe to tell you.”