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tapioca teatime: perfect memory: i hate my colleagues

Chapter Text

Dagon: hei flappygrl. meet me at the usual I gotta unload some bureaucracy off my carapace

Uriel: For The Last Time Do Not Send Me Texts Requesting Audience Just Send Me A Google Calendar Invite

Dagon: for the last time i don’t give a shit about goggle calendars

Uriel: I Am In A Meeting Stop Texting Me

Dagon: asshole i need to Complain at somebody who understands my PAIN, the boss is back on zir bullshit fucking every angel in sight ze ain’t got any decency

Uriel: Sigh. I Will Be Down In Five.

Dagon: five what?

Dagon: five what, motherfucker?

Dagon: hey don’t leave me on READ i can fucking see your receipts

*

When they Fell, they forgot who they used to be. And those who remained, also forgot who the fallen used to be.

Except for Lucifer, a symbol, a figurehead. He'd always burned the brightest, and his memory was seared into their collective memory. But nearly all the rest of the fallen became shadows with no bodies. Smoke with no fire. Demons, once and always.

Except.

Uriel remembers them. All of them. She is the only one who remembers. She tells no one. This is her knowledge. It's her blessing and her curse to bear.

*

Uriel has tea with Dagon, quite regularly.

The locations and reasons for the teatimes are erratic. Recently there's been a bit of a fad amongst the humans in the West to put tapioca spheres and sugar in their tea, an imported indulgence from the East. When Uriel suggested they change things up and meet at a boba place, Dagon expressed her opinion that the fad was fleeting and stupid and a bastardization of Proper tea, only for Uriel to point out that tea as a beverage came from the East to begin with, so surely any tea-related innovations made in the East were worth a try. Sure enough, Dagon was soon addicted to the stuff.

It turned out that Uriel didn't really care for the tapioca spheres. They stuck to her teeth. Their texture was unpleasant to her palate. But Dagon liked to bite on them, her shark-serrated teeth gumming up with dark bulbs.

Dagon doesn't remember Uriel from before her Fall. Uriel never lets on that she remembers.

Dagon had been of the higher echelons. She'd been a warrior, and a singer of God's praises. Her weapon had been a flaming spear. Her voice had echoed through the halls of Heaven, powerful and clear and holy.

"Here's the forms," Dagon says, and her voice is nothing like it used to be. Clouded, murky. It sticks in her throat and gurgles out of her gullet. She pushes a stack of mildewy, spotted-ink printouts across the narrow aluminium table. The papers catch a sticky spot where someone spilled their tea and didn't properly wipe it up. When Uriel lays a hand upon them, the thin papers turn to heavy cream, clean and gilded at the corners with golden embellishments. The inked words are crisp and done in a perfect calligraphy.

Dagon slurps at her boba tea, leans back in her wobbly aluminium chair so that two of the legs come off the floor. She peels back the lid and fishes a hand into the sugar-sweet drink, withdraws it with a tapioca sphere speared onto the tip of each clawed finger.

Uriel tucks the forms away into her briefcase. She stares evenly across the table at Dagon, who is slurping messily at her hand.

She thinks of who Dagon used to be, golden-scaled and silver-eyed and singing. She feels sad, angelically. She feels disgusted, also angelically. Unlike humans, angels don't get desensitized to the feeling of disgust. When an angel sees a demon, they see themselves, twisted inside-out, shredded, wrong. The horror of it never fades.

"I know we've beat this horse dead and undying," Dagon is saying, "But by all the worms in the earth and flies in the sky I'm sick to death of Beelzebub's and zir clusterfuck. Do you know? Just yesterday I walked in on zem actually fucking the archangel fucking Gabriel into a physical pretzel."

Dagon closes her eyes, her face scrunched, her lips pulled back from her teeth. She has two tapioca spheres stuck in her mouth.

"And later ze comes to me, to threaten me with a dip in holy water if I tell anyone. Honestly! Can you even imagine the gall? Like, motherfucker. I want the holy water after what I've just seen. I want to be cleansed of the memory. I'll take death. I'll take it. This is the third time in three months I've walked in on this bullshit. I was this close to telling zir to get a room in the Ritz like everyone else does. But ze's my boss. I can't just say that shit."

"I'll talk to Gabriel," says Uriel, resignedly.

Dagon opens her eyes, rolls them. She sneers. "You've been talking to Gabriel. It doesn't matter one fluttering fuck what Gabriel does, I assure you. He's whipped in all senses of the word."

"I'll talk to Michael," says Uriel, reluctantly.

"Oh, don't even get me started on Michael," says Dagon. She leans forward, the legs of her chair slamming back down on the floor. "I swear to fuck Beelzebub has a straight up angel fetish. Just last week I walked in on Michael and Beelzebub and Gabriel and Ligur performing the most acrobatic fucking sexual configuration I've ever seen in my life. They must’ve choreographed it. I'm traumatized. I've got PTSD. I’d rather Fall all over again than have seen those five seconds of THAT. I'd go to HR, if only we had one, and not just a rotting bucket full of dog-shit labeled Complaints. Why do they always have to fuck each other in Hell? You'd think they'd at least branch out to other locations."

"They don't just fuck in Hell," says Uriel darkly. She swirls her plastic glass of sweetened tea (tapioca free) and then takes a sip.

Dagon is staring at her. "No. Really?"

"Just last month, I went to get a stapler out of the supply closet," says Uriel, stonily. Her face feels stony, at least. "It was just Michael and Beelzebub this time. Beelzebub was face-deep between Michael’s legs, and Michael looked me straight in the eye and told me it's standard procedure to submit a requisition form for supplies and that I'm not exempt from that rule just because I'm an archangel."

"Fuck," breathes Dagon. She is grinning, shoulders twitching. "Why haven't you told me this shit happens up there too?"

"Speaking it aloud makes it too real. I try to forget it as soon as possible," says Uriel. "Unfortunately for me, I have an impeccable, infallible, and photographic memory."

The two of them sip their teas in silent commiseration for a while.

"What I don't understand," says Dagon, "Is why they all keep trying to pretend like nobody knows about it. Like, Hastur. We know you're fucking Ligur. Ligur. We know you're fucking Michael. Michael. We fucking know you're fucking Beelz- "

"Please," interrupts Uriel. She can feel her insides collapsing into a pile of dispair. "Dagon. Stop. This has gone from venting to just reliving. I do not want to relive."

"They're gotten worse, ever since the garbage Armageddon didn't go off," Dagon complains, "It's like they're all trying to compensate by getting each other off - "

"Dagon.” There is a bite to Uriel’s voice. A venom. A holy sizzle. "I said please stop."

"Fine, fine," says Dagon, and then slurps at her boba tea, loudly. She sets the cup down, raps her claws against the table, emitting a softly cacophonous sort of clattering sound. "So, if you wouldn’t mind me going on a tangentially related topic. Are we all just going to pretend that it's fine and normal, what happend to Ligur?"

"He's not Ligur, anymore," says Uriel, quietly, "Not since Armageddon, not since he somehow came back from the Holy Water."

"Yeah, yeah, but it's not like any of us remember what his name used to be - "

"Lagrimael," says Uriel, "He used to be Lagrimael, before he was Ligur. Angel of colors and sorrow."

"Colors... and sorrow?" Dagon repeats, distractedly. "How do those things even relate... Wait." She turns her gaze back to Uriel. "How do you know that? How do you know what he was before he Fell?"

Uriel shrugs neatly, takes another sip of tea. Dagon's eyes bore into her. "I did some digging, when he came back," she lies, "I found him listed deep in the old registrars, the ones where the Fallen had been struck from. He was back on record, as though he'd never Fallen in the first place."

Dagon was tapping on the table again, making that irritating clackity-clackity-clackity sound.

"Do you suppose," she says slowly, "That Holy Water turns demons back to angels? That Hellfire turns angels to demons?"

Uriel shrugs again, a clean and articulated gesture. "It definitely didn't used to, but maybe things have changed since Armageddon. I'm not testing it, personally. Are you?"

"Hell no," says Dagon, "I wouldn't even do it if I knew for sure that I'd come out of the bath all fresh-faced and angelic and back in God’s good graces."

Uriel looks at her, curiously. She studies Dagon's face for any hint of expression. She notes that Dagon's face is studiously sincere. Calculatedly calm. Uriel could clearly picture how Dagon had looked before the fall, when she'd been beautiful, fierce, fiery. She still is, in a certain sort of way. But she is also corrupted, damaged, distorted, warped. Looking at Dagon now, remembering how she used to be, it is an exercise in nausea. A living memory of what happens when you defy the will of God. When you question the Ineffable Plan. But how can you question Ineffability, or defy it, for that matter? It’s ineffable. It’s inevitable. It’s destiny. Only God and humanity possess Free Will. The rest of them are just props for the stage of their world. "...You wouldn't?"

"I wouldn't be who I am, would I?" Dagon responds, "Practically the same as dying, isn't it?"

"I suppose so," says Uriel quietly. In some ineffable way, the demons are all exactly who they’d been as angels. Uriel knows this better than anyone, except perhaps God. "But I think I'd like you well enough either way."

This is another lie. She’s always liked Dagon. She supposes she always will.

Dagon grins at her with tapioca-studded shark teeth, and kicks Uriel’s shin under the table. It hurts.