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Day 7213

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MONDAY
DAY 1727

Make love -
Inside your bed - everybody get down make love
Get down make love

Well. That was about enough of that. Aziraphale went back inside the shop and continued his inventory. He’d only been at it a few more minutes when the door opened and a woman walked in.

“Oh. Good afternoon,” Aziraphale said around a grimace. He was already regretting opening early.

The woman smiled politely at him and then made her way into the stacks of his religious texts.

Aziraphale had moved onto his collection of romantic texts, keeping a wary eye on the browser who was running a finger along the spine of one of the books, when Crowley walked into the shop holding several bags and kicking the door shut with one booted foot.

“Hello, Crowley,” said Aziraphale, perking up immediately. “What have you got there?”

“Sushi from that place you like down the road,” Crowley answered. He turned and looked at the woman wandering around. “He’s closing for lunch.”

“So sorry,” Aziraphale told the woman, knowing he didn’t look it at all. Sushi sounded delightful. When she left, Crowley placed the bags on a table and locked the door.

“Eat up, angel.”

“Don’t mind if I do,” Aziraphale said happily, looking over at Crowley. He paused. “Crowley, are you feeling alright?”

“I’m fine,” Crowley said dismissively.

He didn’t look fine. In fact, he looked rather ragged. This was a very different Crowley from the one he’d see at the Ritz last night.

“Are you sure, my dear? It’s just, you look,” Aziraphale wasn’t quite sure how to end that sentence.

Crowley heaved a sigh. “Fine, I wanted to ask you something, but you won’t like it.”

“Oh, I’m sure that’s not--,” Aziraphale started to say, but Crowley interrupted him.

“I want more holy water.”

Oh. Crowley was right, Aziraphale did not like that. However. Crowley had wanted it for protection last time, and it had proved quite useful. Refusing him before had only resulted in an 80-year stint of not-speaking.

“So you don’t trust that they’ll leave us alone?” Aziraphale asked him after a slightly-too-long pause.

“No, I don’t.”

He didn’t like it, didn’t want Crowley to have holy water anywhere near his person, but he also recognized that the amount of anxiety Crowley had been dealing with prior to Armageddon wasn’t going to disappear overnight. If Crowley needed holy water to feel safe...

“You’re right, I don’t like it. However, I will get some for you anyway. Tomorrow?”

Crowley huffed something of a laugh, as if at a private joke that wasn’t funny, and said “Tomorrow’s fine, angel.”

MONDAY
DAY 1837

Ah, hello, Crowley. It’s me, Aziraphale. I was rather hoping you’d be around so that I could convince you to have lunch with me today, but it seems you had other things to do. Should you receive this soon enough, I’ll be at the sushi restaurant down the road from the shop, if you’d like to join me. Good bye.

MONDAY
DAY 1984

“Will you get me some holy water?”

“I don’t like it, but I will. Tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow’s fine, angel.”

MONDAY
DAY 3684

“Will you get me some holy water?”

“I don’t like it, but I will. Tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow’s fine, angel.”

MONDAY
DAY 4261

“Will you get me some holy water?”

“I don’t like it, but I will. Tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow’s fine, angel.”

MONDAY
DAY 5383

Ah, hello, Crowley. It’s me, Aziraphale. I was rather hoping you’d be around so that I could convince you to have lunch with me today, but it seems you had other things to do. Should you receive this soon enough, I’ll be at the sushi restaurant down the road from the shop, if you’d like to join me. Good bye.

MONDAY
DAY 7212

“Will you get me some holy water?”

“I don’t like it, but I will. Tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow’s fine, angel.”

MONDAY
DAY 7213

Make love -
Inside your bed - everybody get down make love
Get down make love

Well. That was about enough of that. Aziraphale went back inside the shop and continued his inventory. He’d only been at it a few more minutes when the door opened and a woman walked in.

“Oh. Good afternoon,” Aziraphale said around a grimace. He was already regretting opening early.

The woman smiled politely at him and then made her way into the stacks of his religious texts.

He kept a wary eye on her as he catalogued, but she left after half an hour, thankfully without getting ideas about buying things.

After a time, he started getting peckish and was about to reach for the phone to call Crowley when the woman burst back into his shop.

“What on earth?” he said, turning to look at her.

“Your friend is in trouble,” she said, and her voice sounded so familiar but he was distracted by the fact that he’d never seen her before today so how would she know anything about his friends?

“I beg your pardon?”

“He’s in a church and he’s very upset. I’m not sure how to help.” She wrung her hands.

“He’s in a church?!” All thoughts of how this woman knew anything about him flew out of his head at the thought of Crowley in a church. “Which one? Where is it?”

The woman led him to a large, old church about halfway between his shop and Crowley’s apartment in Mayfair. There was no one inside except for Crowley, who was leaning heavily on a pew about halfway down the aisle. He wasn’t hopping foot-to-foot the way he had in 1941, and Aziraphale thought he could smell something burning.

“Crowley?” he called cautiously, walking toward him. He was half-aware of the woman following at a distance.

“‘Lo, ‘Ziraphale,” he answered without raising his head.

“What are you doing?”

“I wanted some holy water,” Crowley answered dully.

That was terrifying. Everything about the whole situation was terrifying, from what Crowley was doing to how he was reacting, but he was aware that something bigger was going on here. Crowley was reckless and sometimes a bit stupid, but he wasn’t...whatever was happening here. When he’d wanted holy water before, he’d asked for it and only schemed to get it himself when Aziraphale had refused. Aziraphale couldn’t think of anything happening in the last few days that would make Crowley do this instead of asking again. That could make Crowley sound the way he sounded right now.

“And you didn’t think I’d get you any?”

“No, I knew you’d get it; I’ve asked you before, but you always say ‘tomorrow’ and it’s never tomorrow.” Crowley looked at him then, “I just want it to be tomorrow,” he begged. “Please, I’ll do anything you want, please just let it be tomorrow.” A tear slipped down his cheek from under his glasses.

Aziraphale didn’t know what to do, didn’t understand what was happening. He’d never had any recent conversations about holy water, had never agreed to get it tomorrow, and he would definitely remember that.

“I don’t understand,” Aziraphale said, carefully reaching up to wipe the tear away. Crowley hadn’t even sounded this bad in the pub when he thought Aziraphale had been killed in the bookshop fire.

Crowley turned his face into Aziraphale’s hand. “I know.”

Out of the corner of his eye, Aziraphale saw the woman move, which made him remember that she was still here. He glanced at her and saw a very guilty expression on her face. The familiarity of her voice clicked into place in his brain and he suddenly knew exactly who she was. And whose fault this was.

It was difficult to keep his anger in check, but he didn’t want Crowley to know who was here that was much more likely to hurt rather than help. “Can you sit down for me, Crowley? I don’t think the pews are consecrated, and I’m worried about your feet.”

“But the holy water’s at the front,” Crowley replied, even as his body responded to Aziraphale’s guiding hands and sat down.

“I know, but I’ll fetch it for you,” he said as he lifted Crowley’s legs onto the pew.

“Tomorrow?” Crowley said dully.

“No, not tomorrow. In two hours.”

“Really?” he said, so hopefully it broke Aziraphale’s heart.

“Yes. I just need to talk to someone first. Why don’t you rest here for a bit.”

“‘Kay.” Crowley sounded so very tired.

Aziraphale ran his hand through Crowley’s hair and Crowley leaned into the touch again. “Why don’t you watch some videos on your mobile? You love the one with the rogue concrete buffer.”

That got something of a smile, so Aziraphale petted his hair again before turning to the woman. To Her.

Aziraphale walked very precisely over to Her and stopped, making sure he could see both Her and Crowley. He was so incandescently angry that he wasn’t quite sure how to begin unraveling what was going on. “What have You done?” he asked politely.

“I created a time loop,” She answered.

“A time loop. Am I to assume that Crowley was the only one aware?”

“Yes.”

“How long?”

She hesitated.

Aziraphale realized that he was about to shout at God. He could Fall for what he suspected he was about to do. He glanced at Crowley, absorbed in his mobile. It would be worth it.

“Answer me,” he demanded icily.

“Nineteen years.” She grimaced.

“So You’ve been...torturing him for 19 years,” Aziraphale said slowly. He didn’t realize it was possible to be this angry. “Why?”

“He’s been in love with you for 6,000 years and he needed to say so.”

“And You thought that putting him in a time loop that could only be broken by, what, confessing his love to me, would make him do it?” Aziraphale boggled at Her. “Have You met him? That was never going to work in a million years, particularly not if he worked out that You were behind it.”

She grimaced again, but didn’t say anything.

“If he wants to tell me that he loves me he gets to make that choice, not me and certainly not You. It’s like You’ve never heard of ‘free will'.” He paused. “Why are You telling me this?”

She looked away before turning back and answering. “If he destroyed himself I wasn’t positive the loop would reset.”

“...I beg Your pardon?”

“It resets if other people die, but given the nature of demons and holy water I couldn’t be sure the same would hold true for him.”

That didn’t bear thinking about, except. “How many times has he seen me die?”

“Only twice,” She said.

Aziraphale frowned. Twice in 19 years wasn’t terrible, but combined with the trauma of the whole thing it still wasn’t good. “Never, ever do this again.” He was nearly shaking. “And fix it. Make it stop,” he commanded Her.

“I can’t.”

“That is not acceptable.” Oh, he really is going to Fall for this.

“He has to tell you that he loves you, those are the rules of the time loop,” She said.

He managed to keep the “fuck your bloody rules” in, but only just. He suspected that She knew what he had wanted to say anyway. “Fine,” he said instead and marched over to Crowley.

Crowley had taken off his sunglasses and was playing listlessly with his mobile, but he didn’t look up until Aziraphale called his name softly.

“Crowley?”

“Hmm?” Crowley blinked at him dully. “Did you change your mind?”

“No, dearest,” Aziraphale said, petting Crowley’s hair again. “I haven’t changed my mind, but it hasn’t been two hours yet. I need you to do something for me.”

“Whatever you like,” Crowley answered, closing his eyes and leaning into Aziraphale’s hand in his hair.

“Repeat after me, please. I.”

“I.”

“Love.”

“Love.”

“You.”

“You.” Crowley opened his eyes, and he looked so, so sad. “I do love you, Aziraphale. So much.”

“And I love you, Crowley. More than words could ever describe.” He petted Crowley’s hair again. “I’m almost done. Let me finish up, then I’ll get your holy water and we can go back to the bookshop?”

“Okay,” Crowley said, turning back to his mobile.

Aziraphale stalked back to Her. “Good enough?”

“Yes,” She said. “Do you want your memories of those days?”

“Would that be helpful?”

“I don’t know.”

“Then no,” Aziraphale said. “I think that would be more hindrance than help.”

“Very well,” She said and made to go.

“Why haven’t I Fallen?” Aziraphale asked before She could make it through the door.

“This was my doing,” She answered, waving a hand to indicate the situation. “Doesn’t seem fair to make you Fall for calling me on it.”

“I see,” he said. And he did. He also knew exactly what Crowley would say, were he in his right mind and listening to the conversation.

“Are you really going to give him holy water?” She asked curiously, hand on the door jamb.

“Oh yes.”

“Why? He’s still unwell.”

“Suicidal, You mean?” Aziraphale interrupted, calling Her out once more. “Yes, he is. But I’m going to see if I can’t convince him to wait until morning. Besides, the last time he asked for holy water and I refused, we didn’t speak for nearly a century. He’d only wanted it for protection that time, and was prepared to steal it. If I don’t give it to him this time, I have no doubt he would find a way to obtain it anyway and I guarantee he would use it. And I would have no chance to convince him otherwise.”

She nodded. “You take care, Aziraphale,” She said and left.

Aziraphale closed his eyes and took a deep breath in through his nose and let it out slowly. He released his anger for the moment, he had something much more important and precious to bring home to his bookshop. He miracled a small container with a waterproof, spillproof top and walked back to Crowley.

“Are you almost ready to go, my dear?” he asked.

“Yeah,” Crowley said.

“Let me just fill this up, then, and we’ll be on our way.”

“Okay.”

Aziraphale walked to the nave where there was a fount of holy water. He blessed it, because he was an angel of his word and if he was going to give Crowley holy water it was going to be the holiest holy water he could give him, and filled the container, wiping the rim on his sleeve and screwing the lid on tightly. As he turned around, he saw Crowley watching him, yellow eyes luminous.

“You’re really going to give that to me?” he asked when Aziraphale reached him. “You know I don’t want it for protection this time.”

“Yes. I would prefer to wait a bit, however, just in case the outside of the container is still damp. I miracled everything dry of course, but I still don’t trust it. I don’t want you accidentally destroying yourself.”

“Only on purpose,” Crowley said.

“I would prefer not that, either, but you get to make your own choices,” Aziraphale retorted.

Crowley stared at him. “You’d really let me do it.”

Aziraphale wiped his hands on his trousers and flapped them dry to ensure there was no lingering holy water on his hands before cradling Crowley’s upturned face.

“I very, very, very much do not want you to destroy yourself, but you are your own creature and you have free will, which means you get to make your own choices. I ask that you don’t, that you please believe me when I tell you that tomorrow will be Tuesday, but I would understand if you did.” Aziraphale wiped the tears leaking from Crowley’s eyes. “I think you are not at your best right now, and I beg you to wait until you’re feeling better to make that decision.”

“Will tomorrow really be Tuesday?” Crowley asked, voice cracking.

“Yes, I promise.”

TUESDAY

Aziraphale put his book down on the bedside table and slid down into a less-upright position as he noticed Crowley starting to stir. He’d miracled a bed upstairs from the bookshop (and a bedroom to contain it) the evening before, unwilling to let Crowley wake up in his own bed the next morning, just in case.

He watched as Crowley slowly woke up, as his breath hitched in a dry sob, and suddenly Aziraphale couldn’t let him think for one moment more that it might still be Monday.

“Crowley,” he said, gently.

Crowley whipped his head around to look at him, half-turning and pushing himself up on one arm. He got distracted looking around the room for a moment, realizing it wasn’t his own, before he looked back at Aziraphale in shock.

“Aziraphale,” he breathed. Stronger, he asked, “Aziraphale, what day is it? What day is it?!”

“It’s Tuesday, Crowley. I promise, it’s Tuesday.”

Crowley broke, then, collapsing into the pillows heaving great, wracking sobs. Aziraphale gathered him up, kissed his hair and let him cry into Aziraphale’s chest.

“It’ll be alright, my love. It will all be alright.”