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Pretend For Me

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The look on Gabriel’s face was of thorough disgust and irritation. Michael was not much better, but they appeared to be more outright disturbed than annoyed. The two of them looked out of place in expensive, pristine suits in the middle of the night on the side of an empty dirt road.

Aziraphale couldn’t help but blurt out, “Now you show up? We were having a moment!” Out of all the bloody times they had outings together! But he should have known the archangels would be insufferable. He knew they couldn't resist making a show out of things, especially Gabriel.

“You’ve been having several moments,” Michael narrowed their eyes. “We told you we would be watching.”

Crowley got off the car and stood next to Aziraphale. “Leave him alone,” he growled.

Michael rolled their eyes. “Calm down, loverboy.”

Aziraphale put his hand on Crowley’s shoulder. “If you’ve only come here to insult my husband, then you should leave immediately.” He felt the slightest tensing of muscle under his hand.

“Ugh, you’re so defensive,” Gabriel said. “We get it, okay? You’re in a relationship.”

Aziraphale merely raised an eyebrow by a fraction, but inside he was jumping for joy. They did it. It worked! Their relationship was believed, so their body swap lie was safe. Could they now truly be free, without any future threats? Could they finally be left bloody well alone? “Oh? How kind of you to catch up,” he said dryly. “As Michael said, we’ve had many ‘moments’ going about our daily lives. Why didn’t you believe me earlier?” 

Gabriel squinted. “You two are...weird. We’ve been watching, but, we don’t know a lot about romantic relationships because we’re not rule-breaking degenerates, but you seemed awkward sometimes.”

“Like you were putting it on,” Michael said coolly. “We were shocked to see Crowley willing to,” they wrinkled their nose, “kiss you and hold your hand.” They shuddered briefly, like saying those words was like biting into a rotten fruit. “But sometimes, you both looked like you weren’t enjoying it. It was a bit puzzling, but then I thought, well, you two teamed up to thwart the Divine Plan, so why would you not devise a plan to fool us? You always have been friends, if our files are anything to go by. You slipped right under our noses for 6,000 years. A demon could be convinced to team up with an angel to stick it to Heaven.” They looked at Crowley. “Yes?”

Crowley shuffled on his feet. “Yeah, I would, but we’re married for real. Look,” he held up his hand. “We’ve got rings and everything. See?”

Aziraphale tried to keep calm and composed, but finding out that they truly did almost get caught was an extremely disconcerting thought. Their unease did not go unnoticed. Wouldn’t it have been the cruelest of twists, if their ruse had been discovered from their uncomfortable demeanors precisely because they loved each other so much? Despite what he and Crowley liked to believe, the archangels were not, in fact, wholly idiotic and incompetent. Every careful measure they had taken was necessary. As much as Aziraphale regretted keeping Crowley at arm’s length throughout the millennia, he never had another option. He was always right; they would have been killed.

“You told us that you two,” Gabriel started, and then stopped to grimace. He waved his hand with a revolted look on his face, like he was waving away a bothersome insect. “...Do it. But then you kissed like you hated it. What’s with that?” he shrugged.

The kissing was always the least convincing thing they did. If only they knew it was because they truly did love each other as husbands would. “We don’t like public displays of affection,” Aziraphale said, and urged himself not to fiddle with his hands nervously. He figured it was a believable enough lie. My, he certainly was lying a lot lately. “Sometimes...Sometimes we will be overcome by love and can’t contain ourselves, but it is a little out of our comfort zone.”

Michael and Gabriel recoiled at his mention of love.

Aziraphale looked at Crowley who, the poor dear, looked rather overwhelmed and lost at the moment. They desperately needed to talk, but they must be alone for that conversation. Aziraphale put his arm around Crowley’s shoulders. “I can assure you that in private, things are much different.”

Everyone erupted in a combination of splutters, coughs, and groans.

Aziraphale really hoped his face wasn’t flushed, or that the flush wasn’t visible in the moonlight. He felt incredibly awkward. It was easier to do this with Hastur, because Aziraphale didn’t spend most of his life afraid of him, and Crowley hadn’t been there. 

“Y-yeah!” Crowley recovered. “He’s a...uh…” He wrapped an arm around Aziraphale’s waist and placed a hand atop his soft stomach. “Quite the l-lover. Lots of energy when we’re alone.”

Gabriel groaned loudly and Michael said, “Please spare us the details.”

Aziraphale did feel like he was flushing now. “That’s enough, dear,” he gave him a look.

Crowley shrank away and put his hands in his pockets. “Sorry. Look, PDA is gross. Even we think that. But you’re the ones who decided to stalk us like weirdos, so you deserve it.”

“It’s going to take eons for that image to leave my head,” Gabriel bemoaned. “I thought you’d explode or something if you actually did it.”

“Soul-mixing, remember?” Crowley asked with a cocky raise of his eyebrow. “No exploding.”

“What a shame,” Michael said.

Aziraphale cleared his throat and folded his hands behind his back. “Right. Erm, what exactly convinced you we’re telling the truth, if our kissing did not?”

Gabriel sighed, as if what was about to come physically pained him. “We were conflicted. We didn’t think a demon would agree to all of that nonsense with an angel, but like Michael said, you two plotted against us before. We needed to be sure, so we continued watching. We kept going back and forth with whether or not you were lying to us. I thought that maybe you would be stupid enough to love a demon, Aziraphale, but that it was impossible for him to feel it back. Love isn’t supposed to be in a demon’s capabilities.”

“How wrong you are,” Aziraphale said, and he saw Crowley look down at the ground out of the corner of his eye.

“Apparently so,” Gabriel said unhappily. “I don’t know how he can feel something meant for us and the humans , but neither of you make any sense.”

“We’re ineffable,” Aziraphale smiled.

Gabriel made a pained sound. 

“What convinced you, then, that I…?” Crowley cleared his throat. “Well, you just heard me. I won’t repeat it.”

Aziraphale felt for him and the humiliation he must have felt, standing in front of him and the archangels, his love known by all of them and unrequited in his mind. Crowley was always so strong.

“Michael checked the files,” Gabriel looked at them expectantly.

“They’re our pictures of earth from Heaven, taken at different angles and distances starting when human civilization began to spread out,” they said. “I was going through them for filing purposes, but I noticed something odd throughout the centuries.” Michael looked to Gabriel. “You promised you’d be the one to show him.”

Aziraphale and Crowley looked at each other. “What are you talking about?” Aziraphale asked.

Gabriel looked like he wanted to be anywhere but there. “Aziraphale, come with me.”

“No!” Crowley said for him.

“Calm down,” Gabriel said tiredly. “I need to show him something.”

“Why can’t you show me the pictures?” Aziraphale asked. He trusted the archangels as far as he could throw them.

“It’s better if you see and feel it. We’re going to stay within earth’s atmosphere, I promise,” he said in an annoyingly placating tone. “We just need to fly up for a minute. Michael can stay here with Crowley.”

“No,” Crowley said. “We—we’re immune to your tricks, but he doesn’t have to go anywhere with you. I’m coming with him.”

“You can’t,” Michael said. “It’s your aura; you need to stay on earth to see it.”

“My aura?” he asked, raising an eyebrow. “I didn’t know I had an aura,” he said to himself.

This was a pickle, wasn’t it? They were supposed to be immune to any attacks on their lives. In theory, the archangels weren’t supposed to be able to hurt Crowley. They couldn’t act like they were in any real danger. If they resisted too much, that would undo all of the effort they put forth in their plan. “Crowley,” Aziraphale said, “I’ll be back.”

Crowley whipped around “What?”

“I’ll be fine, my dear,” he gave him a reassuring smile. It dropped and he turned to Michael. “But you are coming with us. I don’t trust you alone with him.”

Michael sighed in irritation. “Fine, just to get you to stop whining.”

“Make it quick,” Aziraphale said. 

Gabriel and Michael released their wings and flew high into the air. 

Aziraphale flashed a quick smile to Crowley. “I’ll be back in a moment. I promise.” He released his wings.

Crowley did not look confident, but he nodded. “Holler if you need me, and I’ll be by your side in a second.”

“I know.”

Aziraphale followed Gabriel and Michael at high speed until they were higher than the airplanes in the sky. The wind in his hair and through his feathers was an invigorating, refreshing bliss. It had been such a long time since he’d flown anywhere, and he was out of breath by the time he reached the archangels. His large, white wings flapped to keep him hovering. Stretching them out was wonderful. He should do this more often. The last time he released his wings was when Crowley stopped time. It was weird seeing other angels’ wings, though. He couldn’t remember the last time he saw an archangel’s wings, which had tints of gold at the tips and were slightly larger than his. Angels weren’t supposed to be vain and groom their wings often, but of course, their wings were as pristine as the suits they wore.

“What do you need to show me?” he asked impatiently.

Gabriel pointed down. “Around the United Kingdom. Look.”

Aziraphale looked down.

A large, glowing, fuschia aura surrounded the land. It shone brilliantly in the night, brighter than the spots of light from electricity that illuminated the continents.

Aziraphale blinked rapidly. “What in the world is this? Do humans know about this?”

“No, dummy, only we can see auras,” Gabriel sighed heavily, like he was talking to the stupidest angel in existence. “Go on. Reach out your energy and feel it.”

Aziraphale was skeptical, but intensely curious. He extended his power, and the aura was so strong that it met him halfway. Instantly, a warm, intense, all-encompassing surge of love shot through Aziraphale’s essence, causing him to gasp and stagger backwards. He had to flap his wings faster to stay in the air. It was far stronger than Adam’s flashes of love in Tadfield. “It’s love,” he gasped. “It’s the most intense love I’ve ever felt in my life!” It, oh, dare he say it? It fit so perfectly inside of his essence that it rivaled the Almighty’s love in his soul. This felt far more personal, far more—unconditional.

“It’s Crowley’s,” Michael muttered miserably. “We wanted to know what this was, and we were able to trace it back to him. Throughout history, the aura moved around the world, and he was the only variable.”

Aziraphale stared down in wonder at the aura, which filled his being with pure, unadulterated joy. “It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. I never knew. I haven’t been in the air in a terribly long time. He never said…”

“I don’t care,” Gabriel whined. “It’s gross! That’s how we knew you weren’t lying.” He shuddered. “Blegh, I’m still trying to shake off the feeling. Demon love. Now I know why humans like showering so much. I think I need one.”

Aziraphale was barely listening. “How long has this…? When did this first appear on the files?”

“It became large enough to be observable from this height around 1,020,” Michael said. “But it was probably smaller before that.”

1,020 was when they agreed to the Arrangement. Oh, dear Lord. Oh, Crowley. Aziraphale gazed down in awe. The circle was large enough so that Aziraphale was always in the eye of the storm. That must have been why he never felt Crowley’s love.

Gabriel rolled his eyes. “Freaking gross.” He began to fly back down to earth, muttering to himself about why God allowed this and, more importantly, this wasn’t part of his job description.

Michael looked at Aziraphale. “You would have been a wonderful asset to Heaven,” they said. “You’re the only angel in existence to have made a demon devoted to an agent of the Lord.”

“I didn’t make him do anything,” he said, staring wide-eyed at the gorgeous aura. “He did it all on his own.” He swallowed thickly.

Michael shook their head. “What a waste.” They flew down.

Aziraphale remained in the air, never feeling so loved in his life. And yet, this was merely the celestial way he felt Crowley’s love; he had been feeling the human way for a long time, and that was ever so slightly sweeter than the gorgeous aura before his eyes. Nevertheless, Aziraphale miracled an old polaroid camera into his hands and snapped a picture, wondering if this would work. Because he imagined it would, it did. The picture slid out of the slot on the camera. Aziraphale took it and shook it, and then an image of the aura surrounding the United Kingdom appeared. Alone in the sky, he wiped a tear away, and nestled the picture safely into his pocket. He miracled the camera away and returned to the ground. He wanted to stare longer, but he needed to go back. Crowley needed him.

Aziraphale’s high spirits were destroyed when he saw Hastur and another demon standing across from Crowley. Hastur must have been listening in.

“So you lied to me,” Hastur accused. “You’re not trying to make that angel Fall at all.”

“No,” Michael smiled coldly. “He loves him. We have proof.”

Crowley was standing in the middle of the circle created by Hastur, the other demon (he must have been the one Crowley didn’t recognize), and the archangels. “Uhmm. So?!” he threw up his arms in exasperation. “Of course I lied to you, Hastur! Demons lie. Good job for falling for it, sucker.”

Aziraphale strode over to Crowley and held his hand tightly. “Get out of here,” he told Hastur.

His chuckle was deep and unpleasant to the ears. “No. I told you yesterday, Crowley, that I can still hurt that body of yours.”

“There’s a thought,” Michael said with growing excitement. 

“You don’t want me down in Hell,” Crowley said. “Discorporating me would just put me down there. I’d bother you every minute until you’d give me a new body. You hate me as much as I hate you.”

“Yeah,” Hastur admitted easily, “but keeping you in a cycle of discorporation would take you away from your little lover, wouldn’t it?” he asked with gruff delight.

“Huh,” Gabriel said. “Never thought of that.”

The other demon suddenly had a baseball bat in his hands, and he smiled at the archangels. “Look, I know you’re scum and all, but it’d be fun if we teamed up for one night and beat ‘em up, yeah?”

Michael hummed thoughtfully. “Normally, we don’t like to get our hands dirty, but these two are rather exceptional. We may be able to make an example out of you yet, Aziraphale.”

Obeying orders (to a certain degree) for 6,000 years had an endpoint. Living in fear for millennia would break anyone eventually. Really, Aziraphale could not be blamed for snapping. Anyone in his position, especially with the love of their life looking as trapped and hopeless as Crowley did, would do the same thing. What did 6,000 years of obedience get him? His own kind tried to murder him. He didn’t owe anyone anything. He wasn’t scared of Michael, or for his own safety, but he was worried about Crowley. He spent so much of his existence cautious and stuttering around his superiors only to find out they were more than happy to kill him in cold blood. He understood, on an intellectual level, why they wanted revenge after he helped stop Armageddon, but to hurt him simply for loving another? For Hell to hurt Crowley for his beautiful, good love? That was different. This was personal. He and Crowley deserved a bloody, fucking break.

Angels were beings of love. Angels were warriors. These two traits did not have to contradict.

Aziraphale let go of Crowley and felt fury constrict his heart and engulf it in flames. He was so furious that he felt like his glare could literally shoot daggers. 6,025 years of being petrified. Not anymore. “Hastur, I warned you.” His hands twitched, his patches of skin morphing into eyelids, and suddenly in the palm of his right hand, there was his flaming sword.

“Woah!” Crowley’s eyebrows leapt to the top of his forehead. “Where the Heaven did that come from?”

Hastur’s black eyes widened and he stepped back. “Oi, watch it!”

The demon with the baseball bat stepped back, too.

Aziraphale’s skin itched all over, and then his many piercing blue eyes burst open rapidly, zeroing in on Hastur and the demon. He glowered at them in rage. Crowley finally admitted to the all-encompassing, beautiful love he felt, and he was to be punished? No. Not anymore. Aziraphale had not yet put away his wings, and they swooped upwards in an offensive stance. 

“Aziraphale,” Gabriel said from behind him, a little unsettled. “Take it easy, would you?”

An archangel was defending the Duke of Hell. Aziraphale should have never been so loyal to Heaven when they were so willing to work with the “enemy” as long as it supported their cause. He ignored them. 

“‘Take it easy’?” Crowley repeated incredulously. “You are threatening us, you know.”

“Yes,” Aziraphale said, voice dividing and splitting into multiple echoes. “I’m bloody well sick of the forces of Above and Below sticking their noses where they don’t belong.” The heat of the flaming sword could be felt on the side of his face, and then a blue light was cast upon Hastur. He was glowing now, but it was far different from the glow when he kissed Crowley. This was divine fury. His voice remained quiet, but had the eerie echo of a dozen whispers. “Must I reiterate my earlier threats?” he asked Hastur. 

Hastur was clearly afraid, but demons were stubborn when it came to admitting defeat to angels. “You won’t actually use that sword.”

“Try me,” he narrowed all of his eyes. The thought of Hastur continuously killing Crowley’s body and separating them thoroughly infuriated him, and he felt warm blood trickle out of his eyes. Long ago, he believed he was being a servant of the Lord by battling the rebelling angels. Was he right to participate in the war? He didn’t know, but he knew his righteous fury now was warranted. His senses were heightened even more now, and he was vaguely aware of two other faces sprouting from him.

“Aziraphale!” Michael chided. “You’ve gone too far! You’ll start a war, and it’s not time another one yet.”

The other demon’s jaw dropped and his eyes widened. But then he shook his head with a scowl. “I don’t care.” He raised the bat and glared wildly at Crowley. “A nice smack to the head should discorporate you!”

In the back of his mind, Aziraphale was glad that demons could be so dreadfully stupid sometimes. His sword was impaled through the demon’s torso quicker than a flash of lightning. The demon’s face grew as pale as a sheet and the life was drained from his features, his eyes turning dull. Aziraphale removed his sword from the body, unmoved by the black blood coating the blade, and by Hastur’s screech.

“The Lord bestowed a flaming sword upon me for a reason,” he repeated what he told Hastur earlier, blinking all of his eyes and making fresh waves of blood spill over the lids. If he had more awareness, he would have seen Crowley gaping at him in utter bewilderment.

The discorporated body vanished with a pop.

“What the fuck?!” Gabriel exclaimed.

“That’s it!” Michael reached out a hand; whether it was to grab Aziraphale by the shoulder or take the sword away, no one knew, because then Crowley stepped in.

“It goes both ways,” Crowley hissed lowly, and his black wings burst out behind him, along with a long, scaly tail. Black claws shot from his fingers and his fangs grew long enough to almost reach his chin. “You’re not allowed to threaten him anymore either,” he warned them, his eyes completely yellow, the black slits narrow as ever. Black and red scales were blooming over the tops of his hands and his cheeks. Deep orange flames ignited in between his scales, an opposite to Aziraphale’s eerie blue glow.

Aziraphale would have been captivated by his form if he wasn’t consumed with loathing. There was a reason why he tried so very hard to suppress this side of him. This was the side that wept blood and sliced through treacherous angels as they rebelled against Heaven. He was ashamed of his actions then, but there was nothing shameful about defending Crowley. His grip on the sword tightened, but a small part of him felt very proud and pleased with Crowley right now.

“We’re fucking archangels,” Gabriel snarled. “We can take you.”

Bright, angry, orange hellfire ignited in Crowley’s palms, causing the archangels to stagger backwards. “Try me,” he dared them. “Where’d you think Aziraphale learned that little trick?” he taunted.

“What trick?” Michael demanded.

Crowley roared a great burst of hellfire at them, the sound hissing and guttural. 

Gabriel and Michael gasped and stumbled backwards, their faces full of fear.

Aziraphale blinked all of his eyes at Hastur, more blood running down his body and onto the ground. “This is your last warning,” his echoing voice said sternly. “We will not bother you if you leave us alone, as we said you should two years ago. Our souls are one. We are immune to your ways.”

“And if you discorporate us,” Crowley hissed, “we’ll make your lives miserable in Heaven and Hell until we get new bodies. We could get some other angels and demons to rebel, don’t you think?”

Hastur, Gabriel, and Michael shared a concerned look.

“That’s at best,” Crowley hissed. “At worst? You see what we can do.” The fire still burned furiously in his palms. “If you harm my angel, I’ll start a war between all the forces of Heaven and Hell and you won’t stop me. I’ll kick your arses.”

“The same applies to me,” Aziraphale cut in, raising the sword threateningly. “Just let. Us. Be. That’s all we want.”

The archangels and Hastur looked at each other for a long moment.

Crowley’s breaths from his nose started to steam into the air, another ball of hellfire brewing in his mouth.

Michael cleared their throat and stood up straight. “Fine,” they muttered. “But if you ever decide to attack Heaven first, we would retaliate.”

“The same goes for if you attack Hell first,” Hastur said, although he sounded far less confident than he did two minutes ago. “You’d still be outnumbered.”

“But you’d be outmatched,” Crowley smirked, baring his fangs.

“Now leave us alone!” Aziraphale’s voices bellowed into the cold night air.

Hastur sank into the ground and the archangels disappeared with a crack of thunder and lightning.

They were gone, but Aziraphale was still on his guard, staring at the spot Hastur had stood. It was so hard to contain himself when he got like this. He was still so utterly furious with Heaven and Hell. How dare they torment them! How dare they stalk and harass them and—!

“Angel,” Crowley said softly. “They’re gone. You can put that thing away now.”

Aziraphale was breathing heavily, all of his eyes blinking, his faces taking in too many sensations at once. It was dizzying. “If they come back—“ his voices echoed.

Crowley walked and stood in front of him. He looked back to normal. “Aziraphale, calm down,” he said, voice gravelly. “They left. It’s just us. It’s just me.”

Aziraphale closed all of his eyes and breathed deeply, trying to get ahold of himself. It was over. The plan worked. They were alone. When he opened his eyes, he felt much more like himself. He had once face again and only two eyes. He looked down at the blood that ruined his clothes. “Oh,” he said, because he didn’t know what else to say. He wasn’t sure how to feel, either. A part of him was inclined to feel deeply ashamed of how he lost control, but it worked, didn’t it? It was worth it.

Crowley looked at his clothes, and then waved his hand. The blood disappeared.

“Thank you.” He cleared his throat.

Crowley shook his head. He put his hands in his pockets and looked down at the ground. He had a small, disbelieving smile on his lips. “Guess I should be glad you never decided to smite me, huh?”

Aziraphale did flush with shame now. “I would never.”

“I know,” he said. “It was just a joke. I’m just saying. I never saw you like that before.”

“You never gave me a reason to lose my temper to such a degree.”

He blew out a breath, and shook his head with a small laugh. “That was...fucking amazing.”

“It was?” he asked.

“We both saw Satan rise up out of the ground, and I still think you take the cake for the scariest shit I’ve ever seen in my life. Have you always had more than one face? Or cried blood?”

“Technically, yes,” he muttered.

“Wow. I’m impressed. Really.”

Aziraphale sighed. “I don’t like being that way, Crowley. I’d like to be...soft.”

He smiled, but it looked a little sad. “You are, don’t worry. If anyone deserved that treatment, it was those wankers.”

“Yes, I agree.” 

“You didn’t do anything wrong.”

Sometimes, Crowley really did know just what to say. “Thank you.” What an incredible whirlwind of a night. Aziraphale felt overwhelmed, but he knew they had a serious conversation in store. “But I would do it again if it meant protecting you.”

Crowley looked away. “Yeah. I know I don’t thank people, ever, but thanks for smiting that demon.”

“Of course. Thank you for standing up to Gabriel and Michael for me.”

“It wasn’t a problem. I’d do it again.” He winced. “But you probably knew that already.” He swallowed. “So. Um. They’re out of our hair now. That’s good. We should, um. Go home. Or you can go to your shop and. I dunno.” He walked past him and to the Bentley.

They were alone. They were believed. Crowley loved him. Aziraphale had a wrong to right. 

He walked to the car and grasped Crowley’s wrist before he could get inside. Crowley turned to him, and if he looked exhausted earlier, he looked completely resigned and dead on his feet now. “Don’t,” he pleaded softly. “Just don’t.”

But Aziraphale rather liked not doing what he was told now. He gazed into the vulnerable, golden eyes of this demon, this sweetheart, and placed both hands gently on his chest, leaning Crowley against the Bentley. He leaned forward even as Crowley’s eyes widened, andpressed their lips together softly. He heard Crowley’s quiet gasp, and he let the warm, gentle glow shine from his chest. He smoothed one hand down Crowley’s chest to settle at his hip, and the other went up to cup the back of his neck. He deepened the kiss, parting his lips and pressing up against him, their stomachs and chests touching. There was no anxiety to this kiss—only relief and the deep, eternal love he felt for Crowley. He was glowing brighter, but he let it happen. Crowley began kissing back, his hands resting on Aziraphale’s waist. But then he pulled away.

Crowley’s face was raw with emotion, but finally, there was hope, too. He blinked a couple of times. “Oh,” he said in a small, hoarse voice. “So that’s why you glow.”

Aziraphale cupped his cheek, feeling his blush, his heart swelling and liquid warmth running through his veins. “I am so in love with you,” he finally, finally confessed. He felt light as a feather now. He exhaled shakily.

Crowley’s bottom lip quivered and he averted his gaze, but didn’t move his face away from Aziraphale’s soft palm. “Ah.” His voice was strained. He swallowed. “That’s,” his voice cracked.

Aziraphale then pulled him into an embrace, Crowley’s head on his shoulder, and his arms around his thin back. He glowed like a nightlight. His heart was beating hard with every ounce of love he held back for years, and he held him tightly. “I’m so sorry I didn’t know,” Aziraphale apologized sincerely. “You’ve always been showing me, all this time. You’ve always loved me so much.”

Crowley nodded and clung to him tighter, his fingers bunched into the fabric of his coat. “It’s coolio. Damn it, forget I said that. Um. It’s fine. Whatever.”

Aziraphale held back a giggle. He had more apologies to make, anyway. “I’m so sorry you’ve been hurting,” he whispered, running a hand up and down his back. “I wish we could have done this sooner, but we couldn’t have. I’m happy you’re safe, but not that this is the side effect. I’m still sorry I hurt you.”

Crowley shook his head mutely.

“No, I am. It was terrible of me to ever doubt what you feel.” He kissed his hair. “You were so brave, loving me despite what Hell would do to you.”

Crowley shook his head again, but he spoke this time. “I’m not,” he mumbled. “I’m not.”

“You are.” He grimaced thinking about his behavior in the past. All of those times he insisted they weren’t friends and lied, Crowley was in love with him. Lord, forgive me. “Thank you, for never giving up on me,” he said thickly, his throat feeling tight. “For always coming back.”

 He lifted his head, an aching tenderness in his eyes. “Don’t thank me for something so ridiculous. Above all, you’re my best friend. I’m supposed to be there for you.”

Aziraphale glowed brighter in the car. “Oh, love.”

Crowley looked down at his chest. “This,” he poked his chest, “when did this become a thing?”

Aziraphale looked down. “When we started kissing. It was very difficult to hide this, I must tell you.”

“Why didn’t you ever glow with humans?”

“I never loved humans, Crowley.”

Crowley’s face went through about four expressions. “Wait. When did you, um, you know, start feeling this way?”

“Truthfully? I can’t say, but I became aware of it in 1941.”

Crowley stiffened in his arms.

“Crowley?” Aziraphale cupped his cheek again.

Crowley stared at him. “1941.”

“Yes.” He bit his lip. “I’m sorry, I know it’s not as long as you--”

“So this whole time. With this ruse. You’ve loved me.”

Aziraphale lowered his hand. “Yes?”

“Uh huh. Okay. So. Lemme get this straight. I’ve been losing my mind trying to get you to fall in love with me and you’ve felt this way the whole time?”

“You’ve what?” Aziraphale squawked, taking a step back.

Crowley buried his face into his hands, and his shoulders started shaking with laughter.

“Crowley!” Aziraphale gasped. “No, wait. Are you serious?”

Crowley lifted his face and laughed loudly, the corner of his eyes crinkling. “I thought—!” he wheezed. “I thought this was a great opportunity t-to get you to fall for me,” he got out in between laughs.

“You’re kidding me!” Aziraphale put a hand on his chest with a gasp. Crowley’s laughter was contagious, and then they were laughing beside the Bentley in the night. It was so nice to see Crowley laugh this hard. His words registered. “Were you truly trying to woo me, dear?”

Through his smile, he made a face. “Don’t use that word.”

“You’re avoiding the question.”

“I did. I got a bloody elaborate wedding ring made for you.”

Aziraphale wiggled his ring finger. “That you did,” he said happily. “Goodness, I’ve been quite dense.”

“I guess I was, too,” Crowley said.

Aziraphale’s cheeks hurt from smiling so much. “But we’re finally on the same page. We can be together, like the humans do. Who’s to say we’re not properly married already? We don’t need some silly certificate to make it official.”

Crowley looked like he was trying to frown.

Aziraphale tsk’d and put a hand on his shoulder, smoothing down his collar. “You know you don’t have to pretend to be a miserable bugger around me, yes?”

“Who says I’m pretending?” he said with a very put-on pout. “Besides, it’s part of my charm.”

Maybe he’d said it as a joke, because when Aziraphale sincerely told him it was part of his charm, Crowley’s pout went soft around the edges. Aziraphale couldn’t resist kissing that softness, because he was allowed to do it now. No one was going to stop him. This was real. Aziraphale had kissed humans before, but he hadn’t loved any of them. This was different, not in a grand, awe-inspiring way, but in a way that made him feel like a piece of him that was missing finally came home.

“Wait,” Crowley broke the kiss. “Why’d the angels want you to follow them? What did they show you?”

Aziraphale beamed and pulled the photo from his coat pocket. “Here!”

Crowley took the picture with a raised eyebrow, curious and confused. “Michael said it was about my ‘aura.’ Is this really it?” he asked, sounding a little disgusted.

“It’s love!” he explained happily. “I felt it in my very essence.”

Scarlet rose to Crowley’s cheekbones and he handed the photo back. “Shut up,” he said, and turned around and got into the car.

“Don’t run from me,” Aziraphale said, too giddy to roll his eyes. He got into the passenger side. “It’s so gorgeous, my darling,” he told him sincerely.

Crowley looked like he wanted to jump off a cliff. “Can we never mention it again?” he asked, voice strained.

“No!”

He whined.

“It’s what saved us, Crowley,” he said, smile fading. “They suspected us after all, but then they traced this magnificent aura back to you, and they knew your love for me is real.”

Crowley shut his eyes tightly. “So love saved the day. I’m gonna hurl.”

Aziraphale patted his pocket where the picture was safely inside. “You can’t act so put off by love anymore, sweetheart.”

Crowley groaned and turned the key, starting the car. Even in the sparse lighting from the moon in the car, the blush was clear from his neck to his ears. “Let’s just go the fuck home.”

The Bentley’s radio started up, and there was piano and Freddie Mercury’s confident voice:

 

Get down, make love.

Get down, make love!

 

Crowley turned off the car. He didn’t even look embarrassed anymore, only resigned. He laid his forehead against the steering wheel. “This fucking car,” he whispered miserably.

Aziraphale bit his lip hard to hold back a bubble of hysterical laughter, because Crowley was having a rough night. Besides, he wasn’t unopposed to that suggestion, and if the car played that song because Crowley was in a certain mood...that was a nice thought, indeed.

Aziraphale laid a hand on his shoulder. “I think this car wanted us to get together from the start, upon reflection.”

Crowley grumbled incoherently.

Aziraphale smoothed his hand down his arm. “We could take its advice, you know,” he suggested lowly.

Crowley turned his head slowly, his eyes glowing in the night. His expression was inscrutable. “You want to fuck because a car said so,” he said, deadpanned.

Aziraphale felt a little embarrassed and took his hand away. “Well, not only because—” But then he realized he was being teased. “Oh, you bugger.”

Crowley smiled and leaned over to kiss him soundly.