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Emissary’s Burden

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Emissary’s Burden

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Summary: Set after Gabriel’s demotion & banishment.  It has been a few years since Aziraphale, and Crowley have seen the disgrace Archangel that came into their home unannounced and left them with more questions then answers. Crowley and Warlock left for the day of fun, “take your kid to work day” leaving Aziraphale alone for the first time in months. Aziraphale’s day was interrupted by the arrival of the said Archangel.

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Chapter One: Return

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Aziraphale drank his hot coca as he walked through his bookshop with a smile. Crowley is out with Warlock in a one on one bonding day.  Crowley called it, ‘bring your kid to workday’ which Aziraphale didn’t know Crowley still work for Hell. Crowley rolled her eyes and said something about it being a figure of speech and left just a short hours ago at dawn.  Aziraphale grinned, he had the whole day to himself. Something that he didn’t know he missed after Crowley and he been living together since the Apocalypse-that-never-happened. Of course, Aziraphale enjoy them living together but sometimes he just want some me time. For weeks now Aziraphale been trying to get Crowley to follow her impulses to go out to tempt humans (apparently the feeling never left her even after not working for Hell anymore). Finally, Crowley saw too reason and took Warlock out with her.

What to do, what to do? Aziraphale wondered. It occurred to him that he doesn’t know what to do with himself anymore being alone. What did he do before Crowley moved in with him? Before Warlock started living with them permanently when Harriet asked them to care for her son so she could get help that she needed after leaving her husband?


Should he reorganize the books again? Should he curl himself in a blanket with a book on the couch and just read, drinking tea and his coca all day? Oh, what a splendid idea. But what to read?  Aziraphale has read so many of the books within his shop and have reread many of them. Perhaps he should read one of the new ones that Crowley have left on one of the side tables?   Aziraphale hummed as he went towards the stack of books, seeing that they are a series started by Dan Brown with Angels and Demons and The da Vinci Code [1]. Of course, Crowley would pick them up based on only their titles alone. Maybe not today, Aziraphale thought thinking about the time when Crowley brought him Twilight because it was funny (“come on Angel, vampires and werewolves! How funny is that?”) and the time she showed him Fifty Shades of Grey (“Angel, look what Dagon found! We been torturing the souls down below with it.  It’s a big hit!  It’s hilarious, angel! Just look! Dagon said Hell is planning to force the humans to make movies from it!”). 

 
Aziraphale almost felt sorry for the human souls, being forced to listen or even watch any of the Fifty Shades movies but found that he doesn’t, not really. Of what little Crowley have told him what else they do, the physical torture is for those of the most nasty souls. The souls are in the Hell for reason of course, it’s not like most of them are on the rack. Aziraphale sighed as he decided to go get one of his favorite books from a shelf when he saw something caught his eye as he saw a couple of books at the very bottom of the pile, ignoring the random books that he didn’t read what they were as he put them aside.  He picked one of the books which was warm at the touch which is very curious thing. The cover of the book read American Gods by Neil Gaiman [2] as well another book by the name of Good Omens by the same fellow along with a Terry Pratchett.   The names of the books sound so familiar, where have he heard of the books or the names of the authors?  

Aziraphale pondered by it as he was about to go his armchair that he enjoys reading to take the two books with him when he heard a knock at the door. Aziraphale, placed the books back on the table, making a neat pile of them all. “We are closed!” he yelled out, wondering if Crowley forgot to switch the sign or not. The knocking continued in his dismay.

Aziraphale sighed as he started walking up front of the bookshop and opened the door. There stood Gabriel leaning on the doorframe with his normal smile, his violet eyes stare at him in the early morning glow. The demoted Archangel looked vastly different then what he looked like as his boss and that from the Airbase. Instead of a grey suit and purple scarf; he wore denim trousers, a faded purple tee shirt and darker grey leather jacket with its collar up. His hair was another thing that was far different, as his hair was longer, and he kept the dark stubble on his face as before he was cleaned shaved.  In a way, the angel looked more human then Aziraphale never seen him. And it was much harder now the before from staring at him.


Aziraphale bite his lip, wondering why the Archangel was at his shop. He knew having the whole day off by himself was too good to be true. “Come in.” he said. The Archangel grinned as he stepped inside without a word. Aziraphale looked out to make sure that Gabriel was alone, as he did not want anyone from Heaven in his shop other than Gabriel. He was enough, the idea of Sandalphon being in his shop, Aziraphale almost growled at the very idea. Another thing that is bizarre since the Airbase incident, Gabriel always seemed to have a partner, either Sandalphon or a random angel that needed some experience on Earth. Ever since Gabriel and Beelzebub coming to the airbase and his demotion, Gabriel been working alone as Aziraphale haven’t see anyone with Gabriel since.


Within moments Aziraphale found Gabriel in the first chamber area of his bookshop. Mostly where he keeps the register and where most customers stay so they won’t venture off deeper near his books and attempt to buy them. It was then Aziraphale noticed that Gabriel held the stack of papers and folders close to his chest and his messenger bag hang loosely at his side. Aziraphale haven’t seen the Archangel this nervous since the first time showing up at his bookshop a few months after his demotion. Gabriel looked as if wanting to tell him something but not knowing how which alarms Aziraphale of millions of things come to mind as of why.

“I need your help.” Gabriel said as he sighed in defeat when Aziraphale finally joined him.

“With what?” Aziraphale asked little baffled as of what Gabriel needs help with when he and Crowley made it perfectly clear that he is not welcomed when he first visited (unless it’s an emergency). What could he possibly do to help Gabriel and what would this emergency be? It’s not like Gabriel doesn’t know how to do miracles and if Gabriel was telling the truth from his last visit, he had a similar job as an earth agent until Gabriel was forced to be on permanent desk duty in Heaven for the past six hundred years after his twenty long year mission in Paris, France. [3]  It just took him a few years to remember how to blend in with the humans plus to get into the times as the thirteen century is vastly different then the twenty-first century.


Aziraphale never thought any of the Archangels stayed on earth for the long ever, a month tops if not a year in between long stretches of time like a few centuries. Aziraphale wondered how he never noticed Gabriel on Earth other than checking on him time to time or sending him assignments after all these years. This is the first time Gabriel stayed in Great Britain as Aziraphale always stayed in Europe which included Doggerland [4]  before the North Sea flooded the area and turned Great Britain into an island. The only time he ever left the area was during assignments from Heaven such as the desertification of the Sahara, the first crown King of Upper Egypt, Iry-Hor and when King Narmer united the Upper and Lower Egypt. The Great Flood; Israel during the crucifixion of Christ just to name a handful of assignments.  [5]

What does an Archangel need help with that made Gabriel come to his bookshop to begin with? Is it Hell or Heaven related?


“With what?” Aziraphale asked baffled.


“I have some reports that are due. I been neglecting on doing them because... well I’m unable to write them alone and those that have helped before are too busy and well you said I can’t come back unless it’s an emergency and… Michael isn’t too happy with me right now…”


This doesn’t make any sense. “What do you mean you can’t write them?” Gabriel should know how, for eons Aziraphale had to write them for Gabriel. Gabriel should know how to format the file properly, what is needed to be in in the reports and what details should or should not be added. Aziraphale despise doing it throughout the years of being an earth agent (writing the report is much better than going to Heaven in person to make the report) but surely Gabriel can go to Heaven if he’s too lazy to write one and orally give his reports.  With the help of Crowley, Aziraphale made it into an art form of writing reports that ends up just being nonsense, basically going on and on without having any meaning to them whatsoever.


Gabriel looked at him with a puzzled look. “Whatever I write it turns gibberish.” He said, as if this was common knowledge.


Aziraphale rolled his eyes.   “That’s normal. When there is hardly anything to report.”


“I know that.” Gabriel rolled his eyes in frustration, his leg started to fidget, remembering all the ones that Aziraphale has written that he had to read because it was his job. Saying nothing at all, going around in circles and reporting nothing. It gotten worse when the reports had to be a certain length or more other than writing one sentence reports. Gabriel still gets complaints from Beelzebub about Crowley’s own reports and had to read them when Beelzebub didn’t have the patience before his demotion. It was one of the reasons why they sent Ligur and Hastur over to Crowley’s flat for oral reports time to time. “I need you to write them for me. I say them, you write them!”

Aziraphale just stared. “Why can’t you write them?” Having his afternoon taken by his former boss while he glorifies himself about his great miracles isn’t what he had in mind of spending his day.

“I fucking told you! Whenever I try to write anything, it’s all turns into this mess of nothing. Let me show you.” Gabriel said as took a pen from Aziraphale’s desk that was nearby (Gabriel ignored Aziraphale glaring at him from touching anything from his desk), as he took a discard paper that was laying on the floor as he started to write, or at least attempt to write something.

As Aziraphale watch, Gabriel wrote words that mean…nothing!  Some may look like hieroglyphs if you turn the paper to its side or upside down, as other letters were a mix of dialects languages from Earth, some Aziraphale knew as others he hasn’t seen in ages as the language died out long ago. As Gabriel continued down the page the letters just started to be scribbles as if a 2-year-old took the pen and went at it on paper. Aziraphale watched confused between what was written on paper and back at Gabriel’s hand watching and mentally coping of how the pen strokes and what he observes between of how Gabriel holds the pen doesn’t match what is on paper.

“I don’t understand.” Aziraphale said slowly as Gabriel finished and handed the paper to Aziraphale who took it.  The angel looked at the page, not knowing what to think of it. If he based on the letters alone, Gabriel has decent handwriting.  The loops and straight edges of the letters was sigil like much like Crowley’s own handwriting if Aziraphale had to compare it with someone he knew.  His on the other hand was all in capitalized letters, messy and each letter was very close to each other.   [6]  Aziraphale will admit that he purposely writes like that as a form of making the effort to make it clean but not really. Making the font annoying to humans to read.

“I am a Messenger of the Gods.” Gabriel said, surely Aziraphale knew this? “It’s... messengers during the War, it was agreed that we weren’t allowed to learn how to read and write, those that already knew before the First War like me, the ability was forgotten or blocked. It was a safety measure during the War, Aziraphale. Don’t you remember? We deliver only word of paper or word of mouth. If we were captured or killed in battle, we wouldn’t be able to tell the other side any secrets as well the papers we had would be nothing but blank pages if stolen.”

“You’re illiterate.” Aziraphale just stare at Gabriel in disbelief. All this time? How did Gabriel read his reports all these years? The idea of being forced to forget how to read was a horrifying thought. Aziraphale doesn’t know how he would live without ever reading another book.

“Not by choice.” Gabriel said stiffly, not liking the word illiterate, he isn’t stupid. He had been called that many times living among humans and from the other angels that look down upon him as it was high value to be gifted of the ability to read. Being the supervisor of Earth Agents and being the Archangel of the Messengers isn’t the most high-end departments in Heaven nor viewed as important as other departments of the Archangels.

Nowadays it’s getting harder and harder to make up excuses about not able to read or write when one of his miracle targets or anyone really that wants him to read something or yell at him of not reading signs. He can speck many languages, knows how to do complex maths, able to do almost any task given to him and was able to travel through the planes of realities in great speed much like the Anemoni.

His life would have much harder if he wasn’t the Archangel of Revelation or an Archangel to begin with. Gabriel knew things without being told, so half the reason for reading books is irrelevant from the knowledge in books. But for pleasure? Reading a story that if it wasn’t written down; would have been forgotten because the word of mouth broke its line because humans’ minds are fickle, or someone died before they could pass on the stories?

It was one of the things Gabriel finds himself jealous of Aziraphale, his love for books (and that of food). Gabriel is unable to enjoy them and watch someone else do it while he’s unable... the longing somehow turned into anger and jealousy. Aziraphale have done many things that he saw many angels Fall for or be reprogrammed and yet Aziraphale never been punished by being unable to eat or have his mind wiped to not know the words on paper. In many ways; Gabriel find himself envious of Aziraphale, how free he is from Heaven.  Gabriel had always wondered what Aziraphale have done to be God Touch and favorited by Her.

Aziraphale started pacing in front of Gabriel, the archangel hasn’t seen him this flustered since that day at the park right before Armageddon’t.  The angel stopped to look at him. “But how? Why? The war been over—"

Gabriel sighed. “Yes, the war is over. However, we been planning the war for over six thousand years.”

“But how?” Aziraphale repeated.  “Have you ever read my reports or any of the others all this time? Who been doing that for you? When you been—”


“The sigil doesn’t work in my office.” Gabriel snapped, knowing that Aziraphale was going to say that word again. “But I don’t have that anymore after my demotion—”  if he had an office, he would have gone straight up to Heaven to write up all his reports but it’s now off limits to him and given to someone else to take over his duties that he had for the past six thousand years.

“SIGIL?” Aziraphale stare at Gabriel in horror, did Heaven marked him? The angel had seen humans do the same to their prisoners and their slaves through the ages of human history living on Earth. Aziraphale never liked the practice.

Gabriel looked almost pained as he pulled down his collar to reveal a crude black sigil on his neck. It was shaped like a triple moon that Aziraphale have seen many Wiccans and other occultists use but it was standing upright under Gabriel’s right ear going down his neck with a line running through it. The top crescent was bigger than the bottom one. Aziraphale almost went to touch it; to feel the magick woven within the sigil but kept his hands to himself not wanting to alarm the Archangel of touching the sigil. As well Aziraphale didn’t wish to harm Gabriel, even if he is an unpleasant person.  


Aziraphale has not seen this sigil since the First War, as he remembered helping a fellow angel carry another from a battlefield that had it on their own neck right before he was given the duty to guard the Eastern Gate. Aziraphale wondered if Gabriel had always had the sigil on his skin, as it would make sense as of why Gabriel always wore scarves and turtlenecks to cover it up whenever he was on Earth and in Heaven. Aziraphale doubts the sigil can come off as the sigil would be seared straight into Gabriel’s own soul, pass the earthly body.


Gabriel looked around; his hand was twitchy as he rubbed his neck. “Where is Crowley?” he asked.


“Out.” Aziraphale said, not wanting to give out any details, as well Crowley didn’t tell him any to begin with and didn’t want Gabriel to know.


“Ah. Demon impulse hunting.” Gabriel said grinning. Aziraphale side glanced at him curiously but kept on pacing. It was true that Crowley does have impulses to do her demonic duties and ignoring them never works, they get worse.  Aziraphale wonders how Gabriel would know about them but figured he has worked with demons before as he said he has during his last visit.  It was clear that Michael worked with Ligur with their back channels, it would make sense that Gabriel too would have demon connects.  Who is still a mystery between Crowley and Aziraphale, but they have theories and bets between them as of who?


Aziraphale knows he needs to help Gabriel. But doing so; this will happen again as depending how angry Heaven is with Gabriel, would want a report every month or once a year. How can he help him in the long run so his days he has the whole place to himself would not be interrupted by Gabriel coming back? Crowley would know, Aziraphale thought glanced at his home phone that was just down the hall.  Crowley would come straight here if he called, but no. Crowley and Warlock was so looking forward to this day and Aziraphale would hate to ruin it.  He won’t call Crowley (even though Crowley would be upset for him not doing so), when she is out having fun with Warlock in whatever they were doing. Aziraphale stopped his pacing, he can figure out after Crowley gets back and do it together.


“I’ll make us some pot of tea. I believe this is going to take a while.”


Gabriel grinned.

 

(End of Chapter)

Words: 3,666


 

 

 

 

[1] The Robert Langdon book series, by Dan Brown. Book and movies switch book 1 (Angels and Demons [2000]) and book 2 (the Da Vinci Code [2003]). The third movie skipped book 3 and did Inferno which the book 4 that came out in 2013.  I picked the two books because I figured Crowley would have seen the titles and just had to get them.

 

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (2005). Fifty Shades by E. L. James [Erika Mitchell] (2011).

[2] TV canon of Good Omens, that this book, American Gods by Neil Gaiman does exist in the Good Omens world as the soldier on the Airbase was seen reading it before Aziraphale poof him away, which means all of Neil Gaiman’s works as well Terry Pratchett’s works (and maybe them as well) exist in Good Omens universe. Terry Pratchett’s black hat was seen in Aziraphale’s bookshop. As well Neil Gaiman was seen in the theater with Crowley when Hastur visited him through the theater screen after meeting Warlock. I feel that much like in Supernatural, the writers are gods or prophets of their world.

[3] “Judge and Tempters” of the Dynasty of Hell series.

[4]   An area of land that is now submerge beneath North Sea, that connected Britain to the continental Europe. It believed it was flooded by rising sea levels around 6500-6200 BC (at lot earlier in Good Omens timeline however).

[5] Random parts of history that I felt that Aziraphale may have done or was around during the time to be part of as well what we saw in the tv series.

[6] Based it on the Aziraphale bookstore sign he has on the door of his shop.