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Saccharine (not even a whisper)

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It quickly became clear that this… crush, or fixation, or whatever it was he had on Aziraphale wasn't something that was going to simply 'pass.' Every meeting, every conversation, every damned look the angel threw his way turned the fluttering in his chest, into a bubbly feeling in his gut, and the bubbly feeling to a warmth that radiated from limb to limb and it was all so entirely undemonic to be going weak in the knees just because Aziraphale happened to smile at him, that beautiful, radiant, perfect smile-- and bless it all, he was doing it again. Every glance, every laugh, every touch that he won from Aziraphale got catalogued away in his mind as a moment that would replay over and over whenever he and Aziraphale were apart, which was more often than not. He even took up sleeping in an attempt to get a break from it all, but even then Aziraphale just haunted his dreams. How much longer was he expected to live like this?

A long time, apparently, as history moved them from Eden to Golgotha to Rome.

Crowley had tried every imaginable way to tell Aziraphale, speaking it left him choking on that same vile slick every time, writing it left his fingers burning and blistered. What was worse, Aziraphale seemed to know something was up, that there was something that Crowley was keeping close and hidden. Fortunately, he hadn’t seemed to link Crowley’s coughing fits with whatever his secret was and Crowley had never let him see the oil that replaced the words he wanted to say. He couldn't bear to see the look of disgust that would undoubtedly claim Aziraphale’s sweet features. It would only be a matter of time, though, if he kept this up, so it was with great reluctance that Crowley resigned himself to giving up even trying to say it.

But what had once been 'I think I might kind of, sort of love you' turned into 'I am so deeply, hopelessly, undeniably in love with you that I've forgotten what it was like to not love at all.' What was he even supposed to do with that? With no outlet, no way to express it?

He was, admittedly, sulking over that very thought and drowning his sorrows in alcohol when Aziraphale found him in the tavern in Rome. And when the angel proceeded to invite him to lunch, what else could he do but accept, worries about digging himself even deeper into this hole be damned?

They reclined together at the table in the restaurant, conversing easily with each other (easy, easy , and so right , and his love grew stronger, stronger ) until Aziraphale cut himself off with a delighted little ‘oh!’ and a happy wiggle as he spotted their food arriving. Crowley gazed skeptically at the plate that had been set before him, not quite sure what to make of these slimy little morsels still resting in their shells, but Aziraphale seemed to be enjoying them well-enough. He slurped them down with contented noises, his tongue darting out every so often to chase at the juice that dripped from his mouth and Crowley hurriedly picked up an oyster if for no other reason than to stop himself from thinking about how lovely, pink, and delectable that mouth looked.

He threw the shellfish back in the same way he would a shot of liquor and instantly regretted it. He didn’t like oysters, as it turned out, he found them far too salty and fishy for his tastes (he blamed the ark. He’d had enough of seafood then to last him a few millennia and then some. He hadn’t even touched a single fish since disembarking.) Then he made the mistake of chewing and the flavor only got worse.

Aziraphale must have noticed his disdain, because his brow furrowed and he asked in a concerned voice, “Crowley, what’s wrong?”

Crowley shook his head. “‘M sorry, I can’t,” he said with his mouth full, and he opened wide and stuck out his tongue, letting the half-chewed oyster fall back onto the plate.

“Crowley!” Aziraphale admonished, his lips curling up in disgust, and Crowley filed that face away for why he should never, ever, ever let the angel see the horrid love his lips produced.

“Sorry,” Crowley muttered, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. “Here, you can have mine.” He picked up one of the oysters and extended it towards Aziraphale.

Aziraphale looked between the oyster and Crowley, clearly torn between whether or not he should stay cross at the demon or accept the offering. His appetite seemed to win out, as it always did, and he parted his lips and let Crowley carefully tilt the delicacy into his waiting mouth. If Aziraphale found it odd that Crowley was feeding him by hand, he didn’t say so, his eyes fluttering shut as he savored the taste inside his mouth. So, Crowley picked up another oyster.

It was like a revelation. He may not have been able say ‘I love you,’ but this felt the same, gently pressing the rough shells to soft lips with all the care and devotion that Aziraphale showed to his scrolls and books. When some juice slipped out of the corner of Aziraphale’s mouth, he automatically raised his thumb to swipe it away. He froze, wondering where such sudden boldness had come from and Aziraphale took the opportunity to take his thumb into his mouth, licking the juice off of it with a pleased little hum.

Crowley surged to his feet so quickly that he nearly upended the entire table. “Well, that was nice!” he said hurriedly, slowly backing towards the entryway. “Thank you for inviting me, I had a great time, but oh, my! Look at the sundial, is that the time already? I really should be going, places to do, things to be, you know how it is, bye!” And then he was all but running out the door, cursing the way his heart thumped loudly in his chest and his thumb still tingled from where Aziraphale’s lips had been.

Whatever it was that was causing the words to die on his tongue, he needed to find a workaround, and fast.

---

He was in Hell, of all places, when he heard it, two demons howling in raucous laughter as one showed the other some new method they had devised to torment human souls. 

The other clapped their companion on the back in congratulations and said, “You did it, you brilliant bastard, you did it! Ah, this will make our jobs so much more fun, I fuckin’ love ya, ya beautiful son of a bitch! Ha ha!”

None of the other demons in the room paid the exchange any mind.

Crowley was no stranger to hearing the words thrown about casually; humans did it all the time. But the idea that a demon could do it, could even say the words, when he couldn't…? His blood ran cold. Maybe being a demon wasn't the problem. Maybe it was just him. Just another way in which he was flawed.

The moment he opened that door, it became impossible to close. Hateful thoughts swirled in his mind, berating him for everything he had ever done and everything he ever was. He was broken and useless. It was just him, it was his fault he couldn't tell Aziraphale. No, wait, not his fault, She made him like this. It wasn't fair, it wasn't fair! How dare She, how dare She?

He ran through the crowded halls, his sanity spiraling further and further away from him with every step. He didn't even realize where he was going until he found himself standing outside the door to Beelzebub's office.

Yes . A thought broke through the fog of his brain with sudden clarity. It was petty, it was spiteful, it was sadistic… it was the most properly demonic thought he'd had since his imagination had become plagued with reruns and play-by-plays of his time with Aziraphale.

If he was going to self-destruct, he wasn't going down alone. He would report what those demons had said to Beelzebub, he would make them pay, make them suffer for even daring to utter the words Crowley had so long needed to speak. His mind made up, he twisted the cold steel handle and burst through the door. On any other day, even considering such an action would have left him overcome with terror, but at the moment, his mind was too addled with fury to even try to be afraid.

The room was dark, with just a single desk lamp illuminating one of the few wide spaces that Hell had to offer. A steady shhhk, shhhk, shhhk echoed around the room, drowning out the ever-present background hum that always followed Beelzebub around.

Slowly, the winged back chair behind the desk swiveled around to reveal Beelzebub repeatedly dragging a blade over what appeared to be human femur to sharpen it. No, not sharpen it, Crowley realized. They were dulling it, so it would rip and tear at flesh instead of cleanly slicing through, and suddenly Crowley remembered just who he had barged in on completely unannounced and swallowed thickly, the anger that had been bolstering his confidence evaporating like water splashed into a hot pan.

If he had found anyone else using a bone as a blunting tool, he would have mocked them for being so cliche, but this was Beelzebub, Prince of Hell, a demon who would just as easily destroy him as look at him, depending on their mood.

“Crowley,” they said, drawing the name out slowly and giving the blade one last slow, pointed pass over the bone before setting them both down. “To what do I owe this… pleasure? ” Their lips twisted into a snarl and they spat the last word out like it had no business being in their mouth.

“Err…” Crowley’s frightened mind struggled to remember what had brought him here. Beelzebub’s expression was growing darker by the second, if he didn’t remember soon… “There are demons out there saying things they shouldn’t!” Ah. That was it.

Beelzebub slowly raised an eyebrow. “What things?” 

“You know…” Well, it wasn’t like he could say it. “Things!”

Beelzebub was scowling now. “ Crowley. ” It came out harsh, a warning.

“They said ‘I love you, you beautiful bastard,’ or something like that,” Crowley said hurriedly in an attempt to alleviate Beelzebub’s wrath. Then he blinked. The words. He had said the words. But how? It was impossible!

"Is that all?" they asked, apathetic to the internal upheaval currently mapping itself out across Crowley's features.

"Er…" Crowley swallowed. "Yes?"

Beelzebub sighed. "You're wasting my time," they said picking the knife back up, and for a brief, horrific moment, Crowley assumed it was meant for him.

But, apparently, Beelzebub was in one of their rare merciful moods, as they simply returned to the task of swiping the blade along the bone.

Unfortunately, Crowley had a nasty habit of pushing his luck. "B-but-" he stammered, "Demons aren't supposed to say that!"

"Oh? Is that so?" Now they just sounded bored. "And what kind of place would Hell be if we punished demons for the things they said?"

Crowley's eyes automatically drifted upwards. They both knew what kind of place.

"If that's all…" Beelzebub spun their chair back around leaving Crowley with more questions than answers. Not that he had expected Beelzebub of all people to provide any. He just counted his lucky stars that he was able to escape unscathed.

Or so he thought.

He was turning to leave when Beelzebub spoke again. “It’s not the words.”

A chill ran down Crowley's spine, and he looked over his shoulder to find that they still had their back to him. “What?”

“It’s not the words,” they repeated. “It’s the sentiment.” They finally turned back to face him and set down the knife and bone once again. Their gaze, when it landed on him, was stoic and uncaring at first glance, but upon closer inspection revealed something deeper lurking just below the surface. Crowley remembered the rumors that had floated around shortly after the Fall, the rumors that Beelzebub themself had been quick to squash with violence and fire and threats. Crowley hadn’t given the gossip any stock, then, but now, as he looked at them, really looked at them and saw something broken and clumsily put back together just beneath the surface, he began to rethink his stance

They had been involved with someone in heaven, long before the war. They had had someone special, someone they adored… someone who remained Up There while they plummeted into pits of sulphur.

“The idiots out there,” they began to explain with a slight nod toward the door, “They can say that shit because to them, it’s just meaningless, empty words. But when it’s no longer ‘ just words, ’ when the sentiment is true, they will curdle in your throat until you’re left choking on bile. You will not be able to express it, no matter how hard you try.”

The corner of their lip quirked up in a smirk, but there was no humor in that expression, just the tired embers of the fire of a fight that had long since gone out.

“Contrary to popular belief, demons can feel love,” they said, their tone becoming bitter and mocking as they rose for their chair and began to take slow, calculated steps around Crowley, like a beast circling their prey. “They just can’t tell.”

Crowley swallowed thickly, fear rising in his throat as Beelzebub’s eyes narrowed, scrutinizing him. The low hum of the room grew in intensity, until Crowley suddenly realized that it wasn’t in the room at all, but somehow in his own head.

“Of course,” they continued, their lips stretching and twisting impossibly in a mask of maliciousness as their eyes grew cold and faceted like a fly’s, making Crowley feel uncomfortably exposed and studied from every angle. “For a demon to even feel love would be a complete disgrace.” They grew closer and the hum in Crowley's head shifted in frequency until it finally focused and became clear so that it wasn’t a hum at all-- it was a buzz, shrill and constant, like a swarm of a thousand flies. Beelzebub’s head cocked to the side, just a bit too far to be natural as they inspected him. “You’re not implying that you feel love... are you, Crowley?”

Crowley shook his head, not trusting his voice not to break. 

Suddenly, Beelzebub stopped their circling and in two quick strides, they were in front of Crowley. He squeaked in surprise and it took all of his willpower not to take a step back as they leaned in close, pressing into his personal space, their breath hot and putrid with the smell of decay as it hit his face. The buzzing in his ears grew to a deafening roar, a shrieking cacophony that echoed around his skull, drowning out all sense of coherent thought. Though Crowley practically towered over them in height, there was no question as to the power dynamic at play here as Crowley shrunk in on his own body, feeling completely helpless.

For a moment Crowley was afraid they would keep questioning him, poking and prodding at his faults until he broke, but instead they gave him a slow, knowing smile and raised a cold hand to pat his cheek, their touch holding the threat of pain despite its lightness. 

“Very good,” they said, their tone once again bored as they stalked back to their desk and settled into their winged-back chair, the buzzing in Crowley's head diminishing with their retreat. “I would so hate for you to be a problem .” 

They set back to work dulling their knife, giving it a few long strokes against the bone before looking up at Crowley from under the shadow of their brow. “ Why are you still here? ” they asked through gritted teeth, voice low and seething.

Crowley didn’t need to be told twice. He bolted out of the room. Later, once the bone chilling terror stopped seizing his chest, he would contemplate their words and realize the futility of his situation. As long as his feelings were real, he wouldn't be able to tell the angel.

Which meant he never could because God, yes , God help him , he loved Aziraphale with his whole wretched heart.

---

In light of this new information, his efforts to make Aziraphale understand that he loved him increased tenfold. His thoughts kept drifting back to that time with the oysters, to how nice it had felt to act out his affections, and he thought that maybe, just maybe , if he did it enough Aziraphale might begin to take notice.

He started off with just a few small gestures here and there, bringing delicious treats when he met with the angel, a miracle for Hamlet, longing stares that he wasn't even sure Aziraphale noticed.

When they dined together, Crowley would watch Aziraphale intently, making note of every pleased look, every happy sound and pretending they were all for him. But he did more than that. He had learned to read the tiny, nuanced expressions on the angel’s face and strove to provide whatever Aziraphale wanted before he even realized he wanted it. He’d flag down the waiter for a dessert menu as Aziraphale was still scraping up the last bites of his meal, he’d have them coming with more drinks the moment Aziraphale even looked thirsty. He was always at the ready with a napkin, conjured from who-knows-where and presented with a flourish whenever Aziraphale made that slightly puckered look that indicated he wanted to delicately dab the crumbs away from his lips. Aziraphale would always smile at him and accept the favor with a grateful 'thank you, dear boy' and Crowley would add another grain of sand to the steadily growing pile that was his displays of love, and just hope that Aziraphale was adding them all up, too, so he could eventually see the elegant castle of his devotion that Crowley was slowly but diligently building him.

Over time, these gestures became grander and grander, until he was pulling off daring rescues, saving Aziraphale's books from a bombing, suggesting that they stop the bloody apocalypse together, just so they could stay here, together in their cozy little world. His heart, which had only started beating for Aziraphale in the first place, pumped pure adoration through his veins in place of blood.

But, still, Aziraphale never seemed to see, too strong was his commitment to heaven.

When Aziraphale refuted the existence of 'their side' at the bandstand, Crowley wanted to scream, he wanted to grab Aziraphale by the shoulders and shake him. If he weren't such a coward he would have yelled the words, crying out 'I love you, you idiot, I love you,' paying no mind to the crap that would drip from his tongue as he struggled to say them until Aziraphale understood or until his throat was burned raw from the effort.

But he didn't. He just walked away in defeat. A decision he would regret when he ran into a burning bookshop to find Aziraphale gone, he thought, for good.

With nothing left for him, what else could he do but give in to despair?

But then Aziraphale returned to him and soon enough, things went back to normal. Their plans to avert armageddon had, well, not succeeded , really, they had mostly just been there when the apocalypse hadn't happened, but still-- the world kept turning and that was good enough for them.

Except things weren't quite back to the way they had been, and Crowley didn't realize it until he was walking back to his flat after leaving Aziraphale at his bookshop after their lunch at the Ritz. At first, he shrugged it off, chalking it up to shock that everything had worked out well for them, for once, but the feeling lingered, long after the celebration of their triumph over their trials had ended.

There was a kind of stillness that hung around whenever they were together, like they were each holding their breath, just waiting to see what happened next. And it wasn't because they were waiting for heaven or hell to make a move, as the longer it dragged on, the clearer it became that it wasn't going to happen, yet the feeling persisted and Crowley realized that the air also hummed with expectation or possibility.

One of them was waiting for the other to make a move.

But it couldn't be Crowley. That simply wasn't possible. He'd just have to wait until Aziraphale figured things out for himself, which could take a while, as the angel probably hadn't even realized what he was doing in the first place. But that was okay. Crowley had already waited six thousand years, he could, and would , wait six thousand years more if necessary. They had nothing but time on their side, after all.

Luckily, he didn’t have to wait that long.

"Crowley!" He wasn't surprised in the least to hear Aziraphale's voice when he picked up the phone. Who else ever called him? "Thank goodness I caught you!"

"Nowhere else I'd be, Angel," Crowley pointed out. "Not really receiving assignments anymore."

"Ah. No. I mean yes! Of course! You're absolutely right, how silly of me!" Aziraphale sounded nervous, which in itself wasn't unusual as one tended to be nervous when they had a higher power aleays looking over their shoulder. But Crowley had never made Aziraphale nervous before. His proximity under the eyes of heaven had, sure, but never Crowley himself.

"Everything alright, Angel?" he asked with concern.

"Oh, no! I mean yes! Yes, everything's absolutely tickety-boo! Tip-top! Jolly good!" 

Well, that was clearly a lie, but he didn't sound like he was in danger, so Crowley decided not to press any further, at least for now. "Oookaaayyy… Did you need something, or-"

"Ah! Right! Yes! I was wondering if you might stop by the shop sometime today?"

He had been planning to anyway, but now that he had been invited, he decided not to reveal that fact. "Yeah, sure," he drawled with just a hair too much forced casualness. "When were you thinking?"

He could practically hear Aziraphale fretting on the other side of the phone. "Er, I was thinking maybe… now?"

That caught Crowley off-guard. " Now ?" he repeated.

"If- if that doesn't work, then of course whenever is good for you would be fine-"

"No, no, no," Crowley rushed to reassure him. "Now's good. I'll just, er- I'll see you in a bit, yeah?"

"Oh, marvelous !" Aziraphale gushed happily. "I'll see you soon, then. Ta!"

The line was dead before Crowley even had a chance to say goodbye, leaving him staring at the receiver in his hand in utter bafflement.

---

When he arrived at the bookshop, the sign showed it was closed, not that it had ever mattered to Crowley. He was still reaching for the handle when the door swung open and Aziraphale pulled him inside before shutting and locking it again. He was quickly ushered into the backroom, where Aziraphale gestured for him to sit on the couch. 

Aziraphale himself remained standing while Crowley made himself comfortable. He was wringing his hands together, which only made Crowley grow more concerned.

"I- I have something to tell you," Aziraphale declared finally, but didn't elaborate further.

"....Yes?" Crowley urged.

"Er… Oh, dear. Crowley, do you think you could perhaps- I- I mean, er, if you wouldn't mind terribly might you possibly be willing to- ah- take them off?"

Crowley looked at him in confusion and was about to ask for clarification, but Aziraphale beat him to it.

"You- your sunglasses, that is. Could you- could you please remove them?"

Crowley shrugged casually and complied, folding them and holding them in his lap.

"Oh, heavens." Aziraphale regarded him while leaning his face into his hand thoughtfully. "Oh, you are dreadfully expressive, aren't you, dear? I can practically see your every thought, it's so distracting. Put them back on, please."

Crowley raised an eyebrow, but, again, did as he was asked.

Aziraphale let out a soft, disappointed whine. "Oh, bother, but now I can't see your lovely eyes. Off it is, then."

Crowley sighed, growing annoyed with the proceedings. "Do you want them on or off, Angel? Decide now."

Aziraphale hemmed and hawed to himself for a solid seven minutes before he finally spoke again. "Off? Off. Definitely off."

Crowley once again removed the glasses, this time setting them far away from him on the coffee table to indicate he wouldn't be picking them up again.

Aziraphale stared at him for a good, long moment. "On second thought-"

" Aziraphale! "

"Right, right! I'm so sorry, I'm just so terribly nervous. It's just, what I have to tell you is awfully important and I'm not really sure how to go about- well, I guess I should just come out and say it, shouldn't I?"

Aziraphale sat next to Crowley on the couch. He regarded the space between them thoughtfully, then scooched just a little bit closer. Then closer still, and again, until he was satisfied. He looked up at Crowley and took a deep breath, his hands still wringing together in his lap. "Crowley," he began, his voice heavy with determination, "I love you."

Crowley could do nothing else but stare at him.

When Aziraphale said the words-- when Aziraphale said the blessed words -- he made it look so easy. They floated off his tongue like flower petals in the breeze, twirling and dancing through the air between them, their presence seeming to fill the room with warmth and light. Crowley breathed them in and he could feel them featherlight on his tongue, their taste sweet like honey. He wanted to breathe them out, to send them back into the world towards Aziraphale, just as he had watched him do so effortlessly, but the moment he even considered it, the words turned, becoming rancid and awful. 

His lips remained firmly closed, keeping the acrid flavor in his mouth contained as he swallowed it down.

But Aziraphale was still staring at him uncertainly, waiting for a response.

Crowley tried for a simple 'me, too' but he hadn't even gotten the words halfway out before they soured on his tongue, and he recalled Beelzebub's words as he swallowed them down. It's the sentiment.

He sat there miserably, wondering how he was going to give Aziraphale the answer that he needed.

Luckily, by some act of mercy, Aziraphale seemed to sense his difficulties and began speaking for him. "I hope- I mean, I believe if the past six thousand years have been any indication that the feeling is mutual, and I just thought, perhaps, now that our head offices are no longer checking in, we could finally be… together? Properly?"

In that moment, he forgot all about his curse, all about the things he could never say. His heart was too full. This was everything he had ever wanted.

"Or…" Aziraphale faltered. "Or have I entirely misjudged the situation?"

Crowley shook his head frantically. No, no there was no misjudgment 

Aziraphale's face brightened. "Then you do love me?" he asked hopefully.

Crowley nodded, nearly sobbing in relief when he was allowed this basic gesture, this small expression of his feelings.

"Oh!" Aziraphale's face broke into a delighted smile. "Oh, darling, I'm so glad!"

Crowley's heart soared. Darling !

"Oh, sweetheart!" Aziraphale was just overflowing with affection now, and Crowley was more than happy to soak it up.

Sweetheart!

"My dear Crowley!" Aziraphale grabbed his hand.

His dear Crowley!

"I love you so much!"

Crowley instantly came crashing down from his new high as he suddenly remembered.

Aziraphale noticed the change in his expression and his brow furrowed in concern. "Is that alright? Is it too much?"

No. No, it was never too much, would never be too much. "I- I can't." His voice came out raw and broken with emotion. "I can't-"

He couldn't say it. He couldn't .

Fuck it, he would try.

Maybe Aziraphale would leave, too repulsed with the wicked creature before him who couldn't speak such holy words. Regardless, Aziraphale needed to know. He needed to know that it wasn't that Crowley wouldn't say it, but that he couldn't and desperately wanted to.

"I lo-" That familiar cloying taste coated his tongue. He let the tainted words run past his lips, let Aziraphale see what Crowley had kept hidden for so long. He needed him to know, and even if he couldn't accept it, he needed him to understand. 

Aziraphale gasped, but it held none of the horror that Crowley had expected. Instead of pulling away, he drew closer, cupping Crowley's face with his hand. "Oh, heavens, Crowley, what's happening?! What's wrong, are you alright?"

Encouraged that Aziraphale hadn't fled yet, Crowley tried again. "I lov-" More of that overwhelmingly saccharine tar came bubbling up. It rolled down Crowley's chin and onto his neck. Oh, what a wretched sight he must have made.

"Oh, darling, here." Aziraphale miracled up a small metal basin and passed it to Crowley.

He took it gratefully and turned away to spit into it, determined not to let Aziraphale see this, at least. "Thanks," he muttered when he was finished. He turned back to Aziraphale, his hand trembling as he lowered the basin.

Aziraphale returned his hand to Crowley's face, rubbing his thumb over Crowley's cheek in slow, soothing circles. "Crowley, what is this? Talk to me, please."

Crowley cleared his throat. "Demons can't-" He struggled to find the right way to explain it. "We can't-" He needed to spit again and moved to turn away again, but Aziraphale refused to move the hand that was cradling his face.

"Crowley, it's fine! You can do it in front of me, I don't mind."

Warily, Crowley spit into the basin again, a string of that black filth stretching from his lips before landing with a plunk. Aziraphale gave him a small encouraging smile, and Crowley's lips tilted automatically upward in response.

"I can't say it," he said at last. "I can't say those words. Demons aren't-" He cleared his throat again. "It turns into this." He gestured at his face.

"Oh, Crowley." Aziraphale's face was anguished. "Crowley, that's alright, you don't need to say them. I already know."

"But, I want to!" Crowley cried, squeezing his eyes shut. They immediately flew open again as he felt a warm thumb swipe across his sticky lips, clearing some of the mess away. 

Crowley blinked. Aziraphale didn't seem disgusted at all .

"I know you do, dearest," Aziraphale said, miracling up a warm, wet cloth to begin cleaning Crowley's face in earnest. "Oh, you've been trying to tell me all this time, haven't you?" His eyes widened in realization. "All those coughing fits. Were they-"

Crowley nodded weakly. "Yeah," he admitted. "Well, no," he added thoughtfully. "There was that one time when I was just choking on my wine. But, in my defense, you did say the word 'cock,' so-"

" Crowley !" Aziraphale looked like he didn't know whether to laugh or cry. He placed a gentle kiss to the corner of his lips, even though Crowley was fairly certain they weren't entirely clean yet, then pulled back to look him in the eye. "Oh, my darling Crowley. Please don't worry yourself over this."

Crowley opened his mouth to object. "But-"

"I know you want to tell me, dearest, and I appreciate that, I really do," Aziraphale interrupted. "But I won't have you suffering for it, so promise me, please?"

Crowley nodded slowly. "Okay."

"And Crowley, I simply must tell you, I love you because of what you are, not in spite of it, so please don't go beating yourself up over it, okay?"

Crowley could have chuckled. Aziraphale knew him so well. "I'll try."

Aziraphale smiled and set the basin on the coffee table so that he could pull Crowley into an embrace. "You are enough, Crowley, please don't ever doubt that."

Crowley was thankful that Aziraphale didn't mention it when he began crying into his shoulder.