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“I don’t even like you.”

He waits.

The ghosts leave the bandstand, silencing the music. An angel and a demon part ways. The stars blink and they have tears in their eyes.

A bookshop burns and he burns himself inside out with alcohol. A phantom returns and he extinguishes himself and he waits.

The world doesn’t end and he waits.

“To the world,” happens and there is a clinking of glasses. There are glances softened in a way that has nothing to do with the golden hour sun that seems to follow them everywhere. There are touches with the potency of 6000 years of unspokens, and whiskey with the potency of a million lonely nights.

They swallow them all.

He waits, he hopes.

Fingertips brush over steaming mugs of cocoa, sonnets are contained within the bone-crack turning of antique pages under the dappled light of a sepia-edged room.

Reality frays at the edges, a status quo they hadn’t even known existed falls on its sword.

He waits, he hopes, he stays as still as he can.

He clenches his fists and tenses every muscle, casts himself in marble and suspends himself in snapshots of moments.

Not too fast, never too fast.

Aziraphale notices and irons out the knots in his shoulders. Takes up his chisel and carves the man back out of the statue. Reaches into the photographs and coxes out the motion.

Azirapahle notices and doesn’t understand that he’s still waiting, still hoping.

Silken bedcovers are lifted from two ends. Lights dim. Fingertips ghost over the bare skin stretched over his spine, like the echo of an apology.

He waits, he hopes.

A confession crawls out of the echo. The stars wipe their eyes.

“I love you.”

He stops waiting.