(Aziraphale and Crowley)Chance a New Beginning
Disclaimer 1: This is fanfic. That means I do not own any of it. I just borrow it to play with for a little while and let people see the pathetic
results if they really want to.
Disclaimer 2: I'm not making any money from it. It's just for fun.
Disclaimer 3: What isn't borrowed is all made up. None of this is real or most likely at all realistic. Please don't trust any of the information in here.
Most likely you know more about whatever I'm writing about than I do.
Disclaimer 4: Attitudes, views and opinions expressed by the characters or in the story are not necessarily those of the author. Even when writing Science
Fiction or Fantasy I do not tend to attempt to create perfect/better worlds in which everybody gets a happy end ... or whatever is best for them. Please
accept that some characters will have a bad ending or be unhappy.
Disclaimer 5: I intend no insult to anyone. If I offend anyone I'm very sorry. Please understand that it was an accident as I tend to be very clumsy in these
Disclaimer 6: If my characters' conversations seem odd or they appear to be talking past each other the latter might occasionally be intentional, but most
likely it is an accident and I'm not aware that they are. It's just my bad communication skills.
For GOE 2010. At first I didn't know what to do with this request. Then I tried to figure out why and put all the thoughts that came from that in here.
Title: Chance a New Beginning
Gift for: Prestissima
The bookshop was lonely, dark and empty. Well, that wasn’t quite true. The books and dust were still there, only the angel was missing.
Aziraphale had been inconveniently discorporated about two months earlier and was most likely at the moment standing in line in front of whatever Heavenly office was in charge of the handing out of new bodies. Or at least that was what Crowley supposed he must be doing. He didn’t know how exactly these things worked in Heaven. Prior experience had taught him not to expect his friend back anytime soon – and to make sure that Aziraphale’s bookshop remained in the same condition the angel had left it in – or at least as close to it as was possible. During an absence of several decades, sometimes modernisation was unavoidable.
So Crowley visited the shop about once a week, made sure that the books weren’t getting wet or gnawed on by mice, banished excess dust and took care of any bills that might arrive. Aziraphale might not have approved of causing a server crash to make his open electricity bill conveniently disappear, of course, but then he never asked for all the details and Crowley still had a job to do.
There wasn’t any mail at the front door this week, but when he entered the back room, Crowley noticed a gleaming white envelope lying on the desk, too gleaming white to be of Earthly origin, with a distinct Heavenly aura and a stamp marking it as very urgent.
“Don’t you know Aziraphale isn’t here?” he asked it, wondering at the stupidity of Heavenly management. They had to know Aziraphale was up there, right?
Crowley hesitated. The Heavenly aura was uncomfortable, but Heaven didn’t usually deliver very urgent letters when the recipient wasn’t there. Maybe it was an emergency. What if it announced another Flood or Apocalypse?
Most likely Aziraphale would want Heaven to be informed that their message didn’t arrive, he decided. He could do that much.
He picked up the letter, which was hot and painful against his demonic skin, and concentrated. “Hey, Metatron! There’s been a mistake! Your letter ...”
“The Metatron is busy. Please hold the line.”
Hold the line? The holy letter was burning his fingers! “Da... Ble... Oh, just pick up the stupid connection.” He didn’t actually need the Metatron, though. In fact, this was a message, so the problem probably fell under the authority of the messenger anyway. “Gabriel? This message ...”
“Gabriel’s office,” a Heavenly voice answered. “I’m afraid Gabriel is currently busy. Please hold ...”
“No, wait! I can’t hold the line. Can you forward a message?”
“I am a messenger, angel,” came the slightly hurt reply. “It is my function.”
“Demon,” Crowley corrected.
“I’m a demon,” Crowley explained hastily. The skin on the fingers touching the letter was beginning to look very red. “But never mind that. I found this very urgent letter you sent to your Earth operative Aziraphale. It didn’t arrive. Aziraphale’s been discorporated. You’ll have to ...”
“Very urgent letter? That can’t be. We always hand those over in person.”
“It is here and unopened. Aziraphale is up there,” Crowley ground out. His skin was beginning to blister now. “Pass on the message.”
“Hold on,” the angel said. “I’ll try to find out what this is about.”
Crowley dropped the letter, now smudged with demonic blood and inspected his damaged fingertips. He’d done his ... no, Aziraphale’s duty and informed Heaven. Surely nobody could expect him to do any more. Let that angel handle the matter from here.
He finished his check-up of the bookshop and was about to leave when suddenly a beam of blue light appeared in the middle of the front room.
“Demon! Are you there?” From the sound of the voice it was probably the same angel as before.
“Unfortunately yes, angel.”
“Oh good,” the angel breathed relieved. “We need your help.”
“My help? I’m a demon, angel. I do not help angels.” Except for one very specific angel and he still made a token protest every single time that angel asked.
“You are Hell’s Earth operative, right?” the angel continued unperturbed.
“Yes, Hell’s being the operative word,” Crowley replied. “As in your enemy.”
“Ah, but this is an emergency, you see,” the angel explained sounding almost like Aziraphale begging Crowley for a ride. “How long have you been down there?”
“Since the Beginning,” Crowley said with pride.
“Oh good,” said the angel again. “You know your way around then. Now, you see, we’ve lost the Holy Grail.”
“You’ve lost the Holy Grail? That is your emergency? My dear angel, the world will not end just because you’ve been stupid enough to misplace one of the holiest objects on Earth. I’ll tell Aziraphale when he gets back in a century or so.” Crowley certainly wanted nothing to do with an object that was so holy it might actually be able to permanently discorporate him. Though, perhaps he would feel better if he knew where it was.
“Oh, but you don’t understand,” the angel said almost desperately. “We need it back. It must not fall into human hands.”
“It must not?” Didn’t Heaven usually want its sacred relics in the hands of its faithful?
“It is much too dangerous,” the angel confided. “It has great healing powers, you see, and the humans who found it have no idea what it is. They ... It was hidden under an Egyptian tomb, so if they discover its powers they will attribute them to some Egyptian god. We might see a revival of the cult of Seth, or worse, Isis! And they’d think they have irrefutable proof.”
“Well, I’m sure that’s all very alarming, but I am a demon. I’m supposed to tempt people into worshipping false gods, not prevent them from it. Why should I care?” So Isis was worse than Seth? Well, Heaven had a bad history with wise women.
“But if they stop believing in Heaven, they will stop believing in Hell as well,” the angel argued. “Besides, you know how much Aziraphale would care. You have helped him before.”
“I ... what?” Yes, he had on numerous occasions, but Heaven had never given any sign that they were aware of it. He’d become used to the idea that both he and Aziraphale had been forgotten by their superiors, that nobody knew or cared to know what they actually did.
“You would help him with this if he asked you, to,” the angel coaxed just like Aziraphale would. “Wouldn’t you, demon?”
“Look, angel ...” He should avoid that address. It reminded him of Aziraphale and if he started thinking of this angel as Aziraphale, he might actually give in and ... No! “I am a demon. I cannot even touch the Grail. How do you even expect me to retrieve it?”
“Oh, we don’t,” the angel promised. “We can do that ourselves once we know where it is, but our agents ... well, they don’t know where to start looking or how to approach humans without arousing suspicion. We need someone who understands their culture to find the Grail for us. Once you do all you have to do is report its location and we will send someone to retrieve it. To Heaven, I believe.”
This part actually sounded tempting. A dangerous object permanently removed from Earth without him having to endanger himself.
“If, very theoretically, I were to agree to do you this favour ...” he asked very slowly.
“Oh, we will make it worth your while,” the angel promised. “In fact, I’ll make you a once in eternity offer. Do this for us and we will welcome you back into Heaven.”
Crowley stared at the light in shock. Return to Heaven? It was unthinkable. Never in six millennia had Heaven made such an offer. To anyone. And Crowley, if he was completely honest, was absolutely nobody among the demonic ranks.
“You’d be free of Hell forever,” the angel coaxed. “No more getting tortured by your superiors, no more having to bow to self-important Dukes of Hell ...”
To be free of the cruelties of Lucifer, Dagon, Hastur and Ligur forever was tempting. Never to have to go back to Hell! Of course Heaven was a kind of torture in its own way with its boredom and bureaucracy, but it was never physically painful or deliberately cruel.
“I’ll have to think about it,” he said. “Now, just in case I do decide to help you, how exactly did you lose the Holy Grail and what do you know about the humans that took it?”
“Well, they were grave robbers. Your side probably knows more about them than we do.”
The story was, in Crowley’s opinion, one typical for Heavenly/Hellish incompetence. Heaven had been determined to hide the Grail out of human reach and therefore had buried it under a pyramid concluding that it was well out of reach of all humans – which had been true at the time, but human technology had advanced and the modern Egyptologists did not have the same respect for a pharaoh’s last resting place that the Ancient Egyptians had had. They’d dug down most of the way and a group of opportunistic grave robbers had done the rest and disappeared into the night. An angelic guard had watched from above and done nothing to stop them, because his orders had been to ‘watch the hiding place’.
Tracking them down seemed an easy enough task to Crowley and he wondered just how the angels had managed to mess it up, but then Hastur and Ligur would most likely not have done any better.
The difficult part was not finding the Grail, it was deciding whether or not he actually wanted the reward.
Of course he wanted to get away from Hell. Who didn’t? But did he want to return to Heaven? His memories of the place were so hazy he wasn’t even sure which were his own and what others had told him, but Aziraphale had repeatedly confirmed his impression that it was a very boring place. Everybody there was happy and nice and ... Well, that was another problem. Intellectually, Crowley knew that he hadn’t always been evil, but it felt very much a part of who he was now. As an angel he must have been all around good and nice and loving, a lot like Aziraphale, he supposed. Was that even the same person?
The angel’s name certainly hadn’t been Crowley, that he was sure of, but he had not even a hint of a memory what it might have been. There were vague memories of an angel that was loved and happy, but he wasn’t even sure that that had been himself.
What if he did become that angel again, regained all those memories and his old name, but in turn lost his personality? Was escaping Hell worth losing his identity?
Then again, there was a nasty streak in Aziraphale and much as he hated to admit it, some good in Crowley. Neither Heaven nor Hell had ever been able to erase that. Maybe that part was who they truly were. Maybe becoming an angel would just mean that the evil part of him would be less demanding, that he’d be able to control it, just like he was controlling his good part now. That couldn’t be entirely bad.
“And no more fear of being recalled to Hell and put on soul torture duty,” he reminded himself. “No burning whips, no lakes of lava ...”
Would he still be able to turn into a snake? Would he lose his reptile eyes?
“But that would be an advantage, wouldn’t it?” he asked the empty bookshop. “It’d be much easier to blend in among the humans. I wouldn’t need to wear my sunglasses anymore.”
There was no answer, of course. Oh, how he wished that Aziraphale were here. Who would know better what it was like to be an angel than an angel, after all?
Aziraphale rushed into Gabriel’s office only moments after the messenger had arrived himself. He’d had to shove rather rudely past several others waiting to see the archangel, but this was an emergency and on Earth even angels had to learn to sometimes use their elbows to get what they needed.
“Gabriel, I need your help!” he gasped completely ignoring the angel already sitting at Gabriel’s desk.
“Aziraphale!” Gabriel exclaimed in surprise. “What are you doing up here? We need you down there. The Holy Grail ...”
“Discorporated,” Aziraphale replied hastily. “And I heard. That’s why I need a new body now, but they tell me I have to get written approval from just about every office in Heaven and in the meantime the Grail might cause who knows how much trouble!”
The truth was that Aziraphale expected there to be very little trouble, if any. The modern, scientifically minded humans would either not believe in any miracle healings in the first place, or attribute them to some coincidence or autosuggestion. He was thoroughly bored of Heaven by now, though and the widespread concerns about the lost Grail offered a good excuse to speed up the application process for a new body.
“Well, you have to understand that I can’t just bend the rules for you,” Gabriel explained. “At least not again. It caused quite a fuss last time and ... well, I’m still on probation.”
“You ... oh,” Aziraphale had never considered the possibility that even someone as powerful as an archangel had superiors that could punish him for exerting his power without first filling in all the required forms in triplicate.
“I can inform the Metatron, or even Himself, though He will be awfully displeased at the interruption,” Gabriel offered.
“Actually, that won’t be necessary,” Chaverel, still sitting comfortably in Gabriel’s chair, inserted calmly. “I have the Grail situation under control. At least I think I do.”
“What?” said Aziraphale. “But how?” There went his best hope to return to Earth within this decade.
“You have located the Grail?” Gabriel asked surprised.
“No, but I’ve made contact with somebody who can. Well, actually he made contact with me and I offered him the assignment. I think he was rather ... tempted, though he hasn’t officially agreed yet.”
“But who?” Gabriel asked. “We don’t have any other angels that are qualified.”
Chaverel smiled as if at a private joke. “Aziraphale’s friend. He seemed quite worried about the matter and to him it’s just a small favour for a friend.”
“Friend?” Aziraphale demanded. “What friend? I don’t have any friends. ... Well, close angelic friends,” he amended hastily. “What with being stationed down there and having so little chance to see them. Certainly none of them are qualified.”
“Your demon friend,” Chaverel supplied gently. “I’m not supposed to know, of course ...”
“Crowley?” Aziraphale and Gabriel exclaimed almost simultaneously.
“I promised we’d welcome him back among our ranks,” Chaverel explained. “I already made the offer, so Heaven can’t go back on it. He just has to accept and deliver the location of the Grail. We’ll be free of our Grail problem and you’ll be reunited in God.”
“Chaverel ...” Gabriel started, stopped, took a deep, unnecessary breath and started again. “Chaverel, I know you are the angel of friendship and I thank the Lord for it almost every day, but ... you just can’t do that. You don’t have the authority, it is against Heaven’s policy and ... Uriel will not like this at all.”
“He doesn’t have to like it,” Chaverel pointed out happily. “He just has to do it. I’ll make amends somehow. Maybe I can fix your friendship with him? I’ve been trying.”
“My argument with Uriel is ... a minor matter,” Gabriel declared, all hurt pride. “I can fix it myself just fine. Don’t bother.”
Chaverel shrugged. “Or I’ll find something else he needs help with. You should reprimand me, though, or we’ll both get in trouble and you are still on probation.”
Aziraphale hardly heard them. Crowley an angel? It shouldn’t have been such a strange thought. After all he had once been one and Aziraphale had spent millennia nurturing that spark of goodness inside him. Why had he done that, if not with the at least subconscious hope of redeeming the demon?
And yet, he couldn’t remember the thought ever actually occurring to him anymore than he hoped that it had occurred to Crowley to tempt Aziraphale into Falling.
Crowley had been a demon when Aziraphale had first met him, had been the very first demon Aziraphale had met, in fact, and perhaps because of that, Crowley personified his definition of the word demon. Of course he knew that other demons were supposed to be a lot less civilised and ... well, more evil, but then Crowley could put on a very good nasty act when he wanted to impress strangers and Aziraphale had never had the chance to really get to know another demon. Nor had any other demons had the chance to get to know an angel or humanity as well as Crowley had. Surely they weren’t all that different.
But if all demons had the same potential for goodness as Crowley, and Crowley was offered the chance to be redeemed, wasn’t it unfair to deny it to the others? And if all demons were redeemed, what would become of Hell and the souls that were supposed to go there? Or the ones already there? Could Earth function without Hell?
Humans sinned without being tempted. Crowley had remarked on their creativity in that respect often enough. So they would go on sinning even if there were no more demons – unless their free will were taken away. Then what would still make them different from angels? Would Earth become another Heaven?
But Aziraphale and Crowley didn’t have free will and yet Crowley had done enough good to be offered a chance at redemption – a chance Heaven had been tricked into by a single mischievous angel, but at least this one angel must have been convinced – and Aziraphale knew he himself had done ev... ba... not good.
Chaverel had opened quite a large can of worms and Aziraphale almost wished he could close it again, take back the offer ... but could he do that to Crowley? Did he want his friend to continue to suffer the worst punishment in creation? Shouldn’t he as an angel want even the vilest creature to find its way into Heaven? How then could he not want it for Crowley, whom he personally didn’t find vile at all?
In the end, the decision was out of his hands, though, had never been his to make. The offer had been made and it was up to Crowley to decide whether he would
take it and up to Him to decide on the consequences, if he did. Aziraphale decided to just wait, watch and trust in God. He was all-knowing, after all. He
could have stopped Chaverel, if He’d deemed it necessary.
Crowley never got around to making a decision. That evening, bored with nothing to do in the absence of his counterpart, he sat down at his computer and did some half-hearted research. All he meant to do was find out where Egyptian artefacts were usually sold and who was likely to buy them.
Googling Egyptian and grail didn’t bring a lot of results, Egyptian and cup mostly ones about football – so he tried Egyptian chalice instead and there it was. The Holy Grail was for sale on ebay and while it was quite expensive, it was still being sold far below its actual value. Besides, Crowley didn’t have to worry about money. He could simply miracle it.
A few mouse clicks and one minor miracle to end the auction a few days early later, and the Grail was bought and on its way to a certain bookshop in Soho. Only then did Crowley realise what he’d done.
For one panicky moment he considered simply not informing Heaven and leaving it to Aziraphale to find and return the Grail when he returned. But either the package would be left outside the door of the bookshop, or more likely someone would have to fetch it from the post office. Crowley doubted that he could safely walk past, much less carry something that holy. He needed an angel to accept the delivery and since Aziraphale wasn’t likely to be back in time the only place he could find one was Heaven.
Well, he’d Fallen without meaning to, he might as well un-fall the same way.
There weren’t any holy objects in his flat and his fingers were still hurting after his last ‘phone call’. Besides, he did want a little grace period to come
to terms with the impending change. Crowley unfolded his neatly kept wings to fly up to Heaven and make his report in person.
Uriel was not a happy angel. His function was to punish angels that had betrayed The Lord, to severe them from His presence and plunge them from Heaven into the fiery pits of Hell. He didn’t enjoy it of course. No angel could ever sink so low as to enjoy the suffering of others, but he was deeply convinced of the rightness and necessity of what he did. The angels he was sent to Fell were irredeemable and had to be purged from Heaven before their dissenting opinions infected others.
Without that conviction he would not have been able to fulfil his duties. The guilt over the pain and loss he inflicted on his fellow angels would be too much to bear.
And now he’d been told to reinstate one of those irredeemables, to bring this filthy creature that had been exposed to all the evil and dissent that accumulated in Hell for millennia back into Heaven, to welcome it and allow it to make its home among those he was meant to protect from corruption.
He glared at Gabriel, even though apparently this was Chaverel’s doing, entirely behind Gabriel’s back. As far as Uriel was concerned, Gabriel was still responsible. He should have kept a closer eye on his staff and it was easier to be furious with Gabriel than with Chaverel. Nobody liked arguing with the angel of friendship.
“This is irresponsible, Messenger,” he informed Gabriel coldly. “The danger of corruption ...”
“He hasn’t corrupted Aziraphale,” Chaverel pointed out. “Despite the six millennia they’ve spent on Earth together.”
Uriel looked Aziraphale up and down coldly. It was true that the angel had never committed any Fallable offence, but he was still very far from what Uriel considered the ideal of an angel. How much of that was due to his long separation from Heaven and how much to the friendship with a demon was hard to tell.
“We cannot go back on our word,” Gabriel said. “Would you want it spread through all of Hell and Earth that Heaven lied to this demon?”
Uriel glanced at the foul creature. It looked back at him a little sheepishly and shrugged. It was hard to imagine any demon looking more harmless. It certainly didn’t seem to be as eager to be Raised as someone planning to corrupt the entire host would be, but it might just be a very good actor and even if it had no evil intentions - but what demon didn’t – it still held dangerous views and was likely to spread them just by innocently conversing with other angels. It only had to repeat something it remembered Lucifer saying, answer a question about what it was like to Fall - other angels were sure to be curious – and start an innocent angel on the spiralling downward path of doubt. Unless ...
Uriel had been granted a unique power, meant as a small mercy towards those he Felled, but well suited to protect his fellow angels in this horrible situation.
“Well, come on then,” he said angrily, but resolved to do his duty.
Crowley stepped forward a little hesitantly and knelt before the archangel and Uriel put his hands on the demon’s shoulders, closed his eyes and concentrated, concentrated on filling the being with the presence and love of God. But even as he pushed those precious gifts into Crowley he was calling harder than ever before on his other ability.
‘Forget,’ was the only thought on his mind as for the first time since before time began he was giving instead of taking. ‘Forget, forget, forget!’
And then it was done and he stepped back and Aziraphale rushed forward to welcome his friend home.
The newly created angel blinked his beautiful blue eyes at his fellow angel. He thought that this one’s name might be Aziraphale. There was a vague memory of a demon called Crowley to whom an angel called Aziraphale had been somehow important, but he couldn’t remember any details and it had nothing to do with him.
There was a wonderful, all-encompassing feeling of love and safety filling him. A feeling of warmth, of home, of belonging, that told him that everything was perfectly right with the world even though he couldn’t quite remember who he was or how he’d gotten here.
He looked around in wonder at the perfect beauty that surrounded him and his fellow angels who were looking at him so curiously. He ought to satisfy that curiosity somehow, but how could he explain what he didn’t know himself? Then again, maybe one of them already knew.
“Hello?” he asked the other angels shyly. “Could ... could one of you maybe ... tell me my name?”