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Learning About the One You Love

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"To the world." Aziraphale agreed with an emphasis on the word 'world', trying to convey what he realized in 1941, but what he's felt for the past six thousand years. What he was now free to feel. After they allowed their glasses to ring after clinking against each other, he took a sip, and with a newfound excitement, put his glass down and immediately looked to Crowley. "So, what do you think we should do now?"

"What do you mean?" Crowley asked with a curious brow.

"Well, I mean, we're both free now. You've made Heaven terrified of me, and Hell thinks you're their worst nightmare. So, what now?"

"I still don't quite understand, I guess. Is there something YOU want to do?" He asked before taking another sip of his champagne.

"Well, for one, I don't think I want to live in London anymore." At that, Crowley choked on his drink. "Oh! Oh, my Dear, are you all right?"

"You what!?" He asked once he was able to form words. "You want to move!?"

"W-Well..." Aziraphale gave a shrug, unsure of the idea now from Crowley's reaction.

"Angel, I'm for it, before you start getting notions that I'm against it, but...you've lived in the same place for decades...CENTURIES even. Not only that, but I know more than anyone that you despise change more than you despise having customers in your shop. For someone's sake, you've worn the same coat for a hundred and eighty years!"

"I-I'm glad you're for it." Aziraphale nodded with a slight flush to his face, NOT caused by alcohol. "I just...well...the way Heaven saw my bookshop was how they originally saw my place at the Eastern Gate. It was where they could reach me. It was my post. It was where I was to be if I wasn't out preforming miracles. I...I don't want to live there anymore, and besides, what good is a bookshop when we both know I won't sell a single book?"

"Right, you have a point there. All right, well..." Crowley pursed his lips slightly while Aziraphale was waiting for further response. "...I suppose somewhere near the sea."

"Oh! That would be lovely, but Dear...why the sea?" His chest felt warmer than it had in a very long time, and he knew it was the love he had for Crowley. What he didn't know is why it was seemingly growing more and more when he thought it impossible. He thought he had loved Crowley to his limit, but his heart had other plans.

Crowley gave him a soft smile, softer than Aziraphale had ever seen or been privileged to see, and it nearly took his breath away. "Do you want me to give you the sappy honest answer, or just the simple version?"

"Oh, the sappy version, I believe." He grinned with a mischievous look in his eyes that he hadn't meant to give off, but he rarely heard Crowley be, as he would say, sappy.

"Right, well, I love the smell of the ocean, it relaxes me, and sometimes, I like to walk along the beach at night, moonlit night or no, and I like to look up at the sky. To the stars. The sound of the ocean in my ears and possibly wind in the trees, I think I could be truly content living near such a place. I'd like to go swimming in the ocean, rest on the warm sand, and the rain that comes from the ocean is always the best. I love rain and thunderstorms."

"Wait, you love?" He blinked a few times, as if his eyes would help determine what he heard with his ears.

"Yes, I love." Crowley stated simply, and if Aziraphale didn't know any better, he would say there was a hint of bitterness in the tone, which told him that perhaps he DIDN'T know better.

"Sorry, it's just...I..."

"No, I understand. I do. It's just...never mind." He shook his head and as he did so, a pang of guilt shot through Aziraphale's heart, but the love still remained. "Anyway, yes, I'd love to live near the Ocean. Perhaps somewhere there's some trees too."

"Oh! Yes!" Aziraphale chimed. "And perhaps some land. Enough for you to have your Garden. Your own mini Eden."

"Yes!" Crowley laughed out. "That'll be something, wouldn't it? The former Guardian of the Eastern Gate of Eden and the original tempter living together with a mini Eden! Oh, that would be...that...would...be..." Crowley slowed down as a look of realization dawned on him. "W-Wait...did we both just assume that we'd live together?"

Aziraphale spluttered incoherent noises for a few seconds before letting out a shaky breath. "Y-Yes, I...I supposed we did."

"Right then." Crowley said before downing the rest of his champagne, seemingly regretting it, but also seemingly not caring. "Is that...is that something you want to do? Live together? With me?"

"You know...I rather think it is." Aziraphale admitted to Crowley as much as he was admitting it to himself. "You would have your Garden, the sea, and I would have my own little library. Likely not in the house, but perhaps a small side building of some sorts."

"You could have a side building AND a room for your books if you want. Just put your favorite ones in the room in the house...or cottage."

"Oh, a cottage sounds lovely." He breathed out, his heart feeling a bit too tight for his chest as it seemed that it was something that Crowley wanted as well.

"Right then...so...maybe South Downs?"

"Really? You think so?" Aziraphale tilted his head, unable to stop the small smile appearing on his face.

"Only place that might have everything we want."

"Right...so..."

"When do we leave, Angel?" Crowley grinned and even though his glasses were still on, Aziraphale could still tell that there was something different in his eyes. He could just barely see it past the black tint, but it was there. A softness and something else. Something he's seen before, but it had been snuffed out too many times for him to give it a name. Now, he hope he might be able to try and name it.

"Well, we would have to find a cottage first, then we would have to apply for it, I believe, and then...well...we'll figure it out from there, but after all that, then we would pick colors, curtains, what not, and then we would move in. D-Does that sound...amenable to you?"

"You know..." Crowley let out an honest chuckle that held warmth, disbelief, mirth, joy, and that something else that was somehow in both the sound of the chuckle and in his eyes that Aziraphale just couldn't quite fathom yet. "...I think it does."

It was the following year that they applied for the cottage, and they did it that way so that Crowley could go swimming immediately after moving in, and they could enjoy the warm summer breeze coming off of the Ocean. The cottage they had picked was oddly perfect. There was plenty of land for a Garden and an extra small off to the side building as well as a greenhouse, and there was more than enough room for a Garden, some trees, and even enough room for Adam and the Them to play if they wanted to visit. The cottage wasn't too big, nor was it too small. It had three bedrooms, one bigger than the other two, which Aziraphale told Crowley if they got the cottage, that Crowley would be taking it, because he slept more. The cottage was also as Crowley wanted it, and it was within walking distance to the Ocean.

They had just finished deciding on colors and design when Crowley heard his phone going off, chiming with its e-mail notification tone. He opened up and read it once, twice, three times, then Aziraphale finally had enough. "What is it!?"

"We...we got the cottage." Crowley looked up at Aziraphale with a completely stunned expression. "We...this is real...isn't it? I'm not dreaming?"

"Of course it's real, my Dear. Why would you think it's a dream?"

Crowley looked back and forth from his phone to Aziraphale a couple of times before putting it in his pocket once more. "No reason." He quickly answered. "So...I suppose all we have left is to move in."

"I suppose so, my Dear. It'll take some time with my books, but will you be patient with me?"

"Always, Angel." Crowley answered, and because he didn't have his glasses on, Aziraphale could see that soft look in his eyes, but somehow, there was a twinge of sadness to them as well.

"Well..." He started as he pushed past the lump in his throat and the weight that look had on him as well as the mystery behind what it was, and he cleared his throat. "...we best get started then, shall we?"

"I'll go and pack my things at my place. Won't take long, and I'll get a moving truck and I'll come and help you pack everything we can in the first trip. We'll organize little by little and while we're doing that, I can build you the extra building for your other books."

"That sounds wonderful and logical, but um...Crowley...do you even know anything about carpentry or building a...well...building? It would be like a very small cottage for my books alone."

"Of course I know about carpentry. Jesus taught me."

"I'm sorry..." Aziraphale croaked out in pure astonishment. "...I must've heard you wrong. Did you say that JESUS...son of GOD taught you!?"

"Yes. It was before I was sent to tempt him. We became friends. He knew I was a demon, but he also knew who I was before I fell. One of his many gifts, I suppose."

"I...I didn't know." He whispered, holding a hand over his heart, to stop it's tragic heartfelt pounding. 'How must he have felt watching Jesus being Crucified, then?' He thought with an echoing sorrow.

"There's a lot you don't know about me, Angel, but now you might get to know. All right, I'll be back. Won't take long, like I said."

"O-Okay." He answered before watching Crowley leave the bookshop. 'Just how much do I not know...about the demon I'm in love with!?'