There is a rumour among the demons. Every demon knows about it, although it cannot be confirmed. At least, that's what they think. Unbeknownst to them, there's a demon who knows the truth.
Angels fell from heaven long ago, when the concept of time was not yet invented. Those angels had their grace torn from them, their very essence shifted and changed, corrupted. They were ripped from the Almighty's Love. And without that, they lost the ability to sense love in the world around them. Because of this, the newly-fallen demons assumed they lost the ability to feel love as well. But that was not true. Instead, She gave them a different punishment. One heard in whispers throughout the bowels of Hell:
Any demon who falls in love will become deathly ill, unless they can prove themselves to be worthy to receive the love they give.
But of course, no demon would ever do something like that…
Then one day, on the wall of Eden, an angel lifts a wing and protects a demon from the first rain. And a demon falls in love. And that demon, knowing the Almighty's rumoured punishment, gazed at his new beloved and thought: maybe this will be worth it.
At first, nothing was amiss. The demon felt nothing more than the occasional momentary mild burning in the back of his throat. He'd cough once, and it was gone. Then he saw the angel again at Noah's Ark. He had to cough twice to get rid of the burning. He saw the angel again at Jesus' crucifixion. The burning got stronger, three coughs now. He saw the angel again in Rome, the kingdom of West Essex, the Globe Theater, and Paris, each time the burning and coughing increasing, before he truly understood what this illness entailed.
" Obviously ." Crowley mocked as Aziraphale stormed away, watching the little piece of paper burn. Of course he knew it was a risk for Aziraphale to get this for him, but surely no one would pay that much attention to a little missing holy wat-
His stomach burned like nothing before. Hot as it traveled upwards, practically boiling his esophagus. It traveled higher to his mouth, making him double over to hack and sputter harshly. A liter of dark, bloody water was expelled from his body. It flowed onto the bridge he stood on and trickled outwards, some adding to the river below.
For a few seconds he just stared. The agony in his throat and stomach drew him to one terrifying conclusion. He just threw up holy water. And somehow, he wasn't dead. It didn't take more than a splash of pure holy water to kill a demon. More if it was diluted, but still not much. This was… impossible.
Crowley went home in a daze.
After washing out his mouth and drinking a large portion of regular water, the burning faded to a bearable ache. So this was the Lord's punishment. Drown him- no, burn him from the inside out? As if he hadn't burned enough already? Only God herself could come up with such a thing. Such a terrible punishment for the already-damned.
How long would this take to kill him? He had no idea, but he had no choice but to find out.
Being with Aziraphale for the better part of 11 years to raise Warlock was simultaneously the best and worst years of his life. On one hand, he got to see his angel. See him smile and laugh with those ridiculous teeth and just be. On the other, he vomited holy water nearly every day, and the pain just got worse and worse. His body burned constantly now, like agony flowed through his veins. The only reason he could still move was because he was so used to it. But that didn't change the fact that he spent most nights with a new puddle of water on the floor, burning lips, and tears stinging in his eyes.
Then they found out it was the wrong boy. Crowley would rather forget that whole muck up, to be honest. The pure anguish of Aziraphale saying I don't even like you . I'm an angel, you're a demon. There is no our side. It's over! Listen to yourself! It took everything he had to walk away. He felt closer to death in those moments than he had anytime in the last 6,000 years. And then when the bookshop burned down- yep, definitely forgetting that torture. He could fill ten bathtubs with all the holy water he vomited.
Then, the world was saved by four children. Crowley and Aziraphale kind of helped, but they took all the blame for it, which was quite unfair. They switched faces- thankfully the pain followed Crowley and didn't stay in his body with Aziraphale, that would be difficult to explain- and tricked their former sides. They were free. For now.
As they celebrated at the Ritz, Aziraphale smiled that soft, heart-stopping smile and raised his glass to Crowley's. "To the world ."
Crowley felt his heart swell. Until his body seized, his champagne glass shattering on the floor, and dread washed over him. He promptly vomited dark, watery blood all over the table. Someone near them screamed. Aziraphale's eyes widened in pure shock. The waitstaff froze in terror. Time seemed to stop. Then, in what felt like slow motion, Crowley slid from his chair and collapsed onto the pristine floor. His sunglasses skidded away. Shards of his glass embedded themselves into his skin, but he barely noticed them. Time started again. People began phoning ambulances. Crowley couldn't move. But he wouldn't, even if he could. The floor was cool, soothing against his boiling body.
"Crowley!" Aziraphale's champagne glass fell onto the table with a soft thud, somehow not shattering. The angel knelt down next to him, hands hovering over his skin, trembling. "Oh dear, oh, what's wrong? What do I do?"
Crowley almost smiled at Aziraphale's obvious concern, but ended up hacking out more watered-down blood instead. It pooled around him, touching his skin, and the soothing cold of the floor was replaced by more burning. He groaned in agony.
Aziraphale hesitated, then lifted Crowley up in his arms. In less than a second they were in the bookshop. Specifically, a room on the upper floor that served as Aziraphale's rarely-used bedroom. He set the demon down on the bed. "It's going to be alright, my dear."
"No, no…" Crowley mumbled back, somehow able to hear the angel's words through the blinding agony his body was in. This was it, he could feel it. It took 6,000 years, but he was finally going to die from this. He knew it.
"What? What's wrong?" Aziraphale asked as he miracled a bucket for Crowley, should he vomit again.
"A-angel…" Crowley reached out blindly, his hand quickly taken by Aziraphale's softer, cooler one. "I have to tell you s-something..."
"Save your strength, tell me after, you’re going to be fine, I-"
"No," He said softly, but Aziraphale immediately went quiet like he had shouted it. "I- I'm gonna die, and I'm not coming back. It's-"
He interrupted himself to throw up what looked like melted, bloody internal flesh into the bucket Aziraphale held up for him. "H-holy water…"
Aziraphale looked close to tears. "Holy… You can't die! We just- we're free . We're- who did this to you? Heaven? Hell?"
Crowley shook his head slowly.
"Then who did this to you?" Aziraphale was crying properly now, face contorted in despair.
His face should never look like that. He should be happy, smiling, always. Crowley didn't want the last thing he saw to be his angel's crying face. Although, that was probably unfair to ask.
"Y-you." Crowley planned on explaining further, but he couldn't get the words out. Everything hurt so much. He could feel his limbs shaking, his insides boiling, his vision getting fuzzy.
Aziraphale was quiet for a moment. "Me?"
"I-I have-" Crowley began, voice raspy. His blurry image of Aziraphale moved to hush him, to save his strength, but he shook his head minutely. He had to get this out, it was his last chance. "I h-have loved y-you, my angel, for s-six thousand years…"
His vision went completely black. Hands grabbed at him, shaking him gently. Harsh sobs echoed in his ears before he faded away completely, succumbing to the pain. For the second, and last, time, he fell into darkness.
Crowley didn't expect to wake up. But he did. There was a sharp ringing in his ears, an ache in his head, a stinging in his throat, and a terrible taste in his mouth. But other than that he felt… alive. Better than he had in centuries, in fact.
As the ringing went away, he realised someone was pressing him tightly to their chest. They were crying- no, wailing. It took him a second to realise there was only one person (well, angel) it could be. (He just died, his brain is slow, give him a break.) He opened his eyes, the light stinging his eyes for a moment before he saw the tan tartan coat rubbing right against his face.
"I love you, please don't go, you can't, I love you too, please, God, please give him back to me…" Aziraphale chanted between wretched sobs, gently rocking himself and Crowley's body on the floor next to the bed.
Crowley's hair was practically dripping with tears. He caught up to the fact that the angel was crying for him , begging him to come back, praying. It broke his heart to see his angel like that. He had to make it stop. "... 'ziraphale…"
Aziraphale froze. Slowly, as if not quite believing he heard correctly, he loosened his tight hold on Crowley, allowing his red-rimmed hazel eyes to meet half-lidded serpentine ones. "C-Crowley?"
"Hey, angel," Crowley whispered with a small, tired smile. His voice was still a bit croaky, but not nearly as bad as before.
More tears immediately spilled down Aziraphale's cheeks, a choked sob escaping his lips. "Crowley, you- you're alive! Oh thank- I thought I lost you for good! You were dead , you were- For two hours, I thought..."
"Nah," Crowley shrugged weakly. Then, his eyes snapped open fully in surprise. He was okay. He was alive. That means… Aziraphale said he loved him, before. Did he really- he must, otherwise Crowley would still be dead. Holy fuck. Holy fuck. "Angel, you… You cured me."
"Cured you?" Aziraphale asked, eyebrows furrowed in confusion. Not a smile, but better than the despair from before in Crowley's opinion.
Crowley smiled. A true, soft smile filled with nothing but adoration for the angel above him. "You love me. You really love me.”
"Oh, I-... You heard that?" Aziraphale flushed in embarrassment, letting go of the demon completely so he could sit up himself.
Crowley, still smiling as he sat up slowly, nodded once.
“Wait… so, how did I cure you?”
“When demons fell, we lost love. We can still feel it, but God decided we shouldn’t. So apparently, when one of us falls in love, we throw up holy water until we die. Fun times." Crowley grimaced, but it quickly softened as he stared into Aziraphale's eyes. "But you love me back, so I’m cured.”
“You… were dying because you fell in love? With me ?” Aziraphale asked incredulously. At Crowley’s nod, he let out a heavy breath and gently cupped Crowley’s cheek. “My dear. Why didn’t you tell me?”
Crowley grabbed Aziraphale's hand and pressed the back of it to his lips. The angel's skin was soft and warm. He felt like life. Like light. Like home. He averted his eyes, looking at the carpeted floor he sat upon. "I never thought you’d feel the same. I thought it would be better to just wait it out, have all the time I could, until..."
Aziraphale looked torn between being furious and melting on the spot. "You- you're… You'd really just let yourself die just for me?!"
Crowley’s lips twitched into a smirk. "I wasn't exactly planning on it."
"On what? Dying?"
"On falling in love with the ridiculous angel who gave away their flaming sword."
Aziraphale's eyes softened, an involuntary blush taking over his cheeks. “Oh, well.”
Crowley chuckled softly before interrupting himself with a single cough. His throat still tingled from all that holy water. Not to mention, he was absolutely exhausted. "Angel, I think I'm gonna sleep for a while."
“Right! Of course.” Aziraphale stood up and snapped his fingers. The bed sheets miracled themselves clean, free of Crowley’s dried blood and thrown up holy water. He helped Crowley lay down. “I can take you to your flat if you’d rather be there.”
Crowley shook his head before letting out a yawn. His flat wasn't home. “Wanna stay with you. Stay?"
Crowley moved over a bit to allow Aziraphale to climb up next to him. His angel sat up against the pillows while he curled against his side with a content sigh.
“Mmhm…” Crowley hummed against Aziraphale’s soft stomach, nuzzling his face into him. Soft, warm angel. Perfect for snuggling (not that he was doing that, of course, a demon never snuggles ). After a moment, he raised his head up a bit, his face slightly pink. “Could you… kiss me?”
Aziraphale’s cheeks darkened to match his, but he smiled and hunched over a bit to lightly kiss Crowley’s forehead.
Crowley pouted and raised a finger pointedly to his lips.
“Not now, love,” Aziraphale chuckled amusedly, ignoring the demon’s huff. “Go to sleep, rest up, and then we’ll see.”
Crowley complied reluctantly, only because he was incredibly exhausted. Dying really takes it out of you, apparently. He pressed his face back into Aziraphale’s stomach and wrapped his arms around him. Once he was settled, soft fingers weaved through his hair and he let out another content sigh, relaxing further into his angel. Sleep came easily, and dreams were pleasant.
When Crowley woke up two days later, the first thing he did was raise himself up, pluck the book from Aziraphale’s hands, and press their lips together in a slow, tender kiss. It was welcomed with divine enthusiasm.