Far From Heaven
When he heard that the angel Raziel had returned from a mission on Earth, Aziraphale wavered and pondered and considered and decided to surreptitiously drop by for a visit. It wouldn’t be Crowley, but he was utterly sick of bland holiness and ethereality.
He found Raziel huddled over a sad pile of dough and sauce, sobbing. The angel’s wings were black—like Crowley’s, Aziraphale thought, with a slight pang—and slumped. He radiated idiotic misery.
“Raziel?” Aziraphale said uncertainly. He hadn’t expected the angel to be that homesi—Earthsick after such a short time dirtside.
Raziel blinked tearfully up at him. “Oh. Aziraphale, isn’t it? Hullo.”
“I just thought I’d stop by and welcome you back to Heaven,” said Aziraphale, a bit lamely. “I’m usually on Earth myself, and I thought I might be able to help you—adjust, as it were. Er. How are you doing?”
“I’m fine.” Raziel poked the tomato pastry morosely. A glop of sauce fell onto the table. “Just a bit, well.” He looked around anxiously and leaned forward, muttering, “I miss him.”
For one wild moment Aziraphale thought that Raziel had somehow met and befriended Crowley; after a few moments of astonishment he remembered that Raziel was a complete idiot. He couldn’t imagine that Crowley would tolerate the pile of soggy feathers in front of him. “Who?” he asked.
Raziel sniffled and wiped his nose. “Biff,” he said. “You know. His friend.”
“Oh. His friend,” said Aziraphale, nodding with polite incomprehension. Realization dawned. “Oh, Levi who is called Biff. Why do you miss— That is, er, I thought you weren’t very fond of him?”
“I wasn’t.” Raziel dragged a sodden sleeve across his nose.
“Is he nice, then?” Aziraphale hadn’t really gotten to know the man, but what he’d heard had hardly been complimentary. Even the Disciples had nothing nice to say about him. Especially the Disciple had nothing nice to say about him, and they’d known him for years.
“He’s an evil little bastard,” said Raziel, wretchedly. “But, you know. He was my evil little bastard. For a while.”
Aziraphale patted him consoling. “I know how you feel,” he offered without thinking, and was relieved when the angel didn’t seem to notice.
“I fed him, I cleaned up his ca—his room, I taught him about the world. Like miniature golf and stuff.” Raziel buried his face in his hands. “Humans have pets, did you know? They take animals and care for them and name them and the animals are so cute and even when they bite you can’t help getting a little fond of them. . . . I’ve never had a pet,” he added mournfully. “Not until they told me to take care of Biff while he wrote the new Gospel.”
Aziraphale made a strangled noise. A new Gospel? That would make collecting Bibles considerably more interesting. He wandered off down that train of thought, only half-listening to Raziel’s tearful monologue.
“They’re bloody annoying, humans, but they’re sort of endearing and, and, and little,” Raziel told him. “Fragile. I hope he doesn’t die,” he continued, tremulously. “That would make me very sad.”
“He’s already died,” said Aziraphale, vaguely. “He’s probably very good at it by now, I shouldn’t worry. About this new Gospel—”
“I’ve never had a pet before,” Raziel repeated. His eyes were dreamy. “It makes you feel nice, when they’re not being annoying. Big. Strong. Kind of like Go—” He stopped short. “Never mind. But here all we do is worship, you know? We’re angels. We don’t get to have pets. It was kind of nice being superior to somebody for once. And he was cute when he was angry, like a little yappy terrier. And I sort of got to feel sorry for him.”
Aziraphale looked at him closely, and sighed. “You’re drunk, aren’t you?”
“Not very,” said Raziel, sulkily.
“And what is that?” Aziraphale added, pointing to the platter in front of Raziel and the gloopy mess it held. It smelled familiar, like a mix of tomatoes and cheese, but he couldn’t place it.
“Pizza. At least it’s supposed to be.” Raziel’s lower lip wobbled. “They don’t have pizza here. Or professional wrestling. Or Spider Man. Or MTV.”
“Or books,” said Aziraphale, sighing wistfully. He thought MTV sounded familiar; Crowley had probably had a hand in it. “Or The Sound of Music. Or good wine. Or classical music.” Or Bentleys, he added silently.
They looked at each other, and Aziraphale felt a kind of desperate kinship. It wasn’t Crowley, but he supposed it was the next best thing.
“I miss it,” Raziel said simply. “And him. It’s not the same up here.”
Aziraphale examined his elegant nails. “I know how you feel.”