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Raguel doesn't like being this close to the Core if he can help it, but business has taken him there and he always follows business, even when it runs.

The location means he finds himself in the bar of a larger club than usual, trying to dig up some information on the particularly fleet-footed, paranoid target who'd jumped onto the nearest ship and fled for the Core. Raguel had watched the ship take off, then went to find something to eat before following. More interesting if you let them get a head start. But the chase that began with the border planets has led him to this dive, all sleek screens and dust-free furniture, and he's never been what you'd call comfortable with luxury.

He didn't bother wishing up any nicer clothes as he doesn't intend to be here long. He's in the middle of a nice chat with the shapely bartender about what she had for breakfast (he could almost see it, with a neckline that dipped that low) when he sees a still image of Crowley come up on the video newsfeed behind her.

He's already entertained some vague ideas about stopping off on Lavinia as long as he's in the neighborhood, so to speak, and if Crowley isn't at home then there's little point in him going by and scaring the Bentley employees. Besides the fun of it, of course.

He turns up the silent feed with a gesture, and the girl behind the bar disappears with some loud excuse about power fluctuations and nosy customers. Completely absorbed now, he doesn't notice.

"...ship's location is currently unknown," says the reporter, "but it is now feared that Bentley Aeronautics' flagship, as well as its CEO, have fallen prey to the very Reaver collective the group was following to Amesbury."

Five minutes later, he's waving Southdown Abbey.



After Aziraphael comes into the room, sits down, dismisses his messenger, fiddles with the reception, and can't reasonably occupy himself with other minutiae, the fact that Raguel hasn't actually said anything becomes much more conspicuous. When Aziraphael looks up, Raguel is watching him and twisting at the hem of his fraying shirt. Finally he leans in, anxious eyes searching the angel's face.

"Do you know?"

Date: 2008-09-05 10:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
There's little there to see, even for one who knows -- knew? -- knows him as well as does Raguel. And it's only those so very, very familiar with Aziraphael's face who might discern the faintest of raw, fragile edges to his closed expression; only those so very, very familiar with his voice who might hear something more than silence in the time (just a fraction of a second too long) it takes the angel to react to being spoken to.

"Do I know what, Raguel?"

He's not in the mood for obtuseness. Not now.

Date: 2008-09-05 11:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
Absurdly, ridiculously, Aziraphael finds himself feeling a little ashamed of himself. And if there's room for the feeling, it's perhaps because he has had this conversation so many times now -- because there are so many people to tell. By now, all the grief, and the shock, and the ragged, untidy emotions have been shut up somewhere in the back of Aziraphael's mind, acknowledged only when the angel is utterly alone. By now, when he summons up the will to sit down in front of this blasted, green-screened device and update yet another grieving branch of the family, it's through little but a cold, heavy weariness weighing down the hollow of his chest.

And now, of all things, he feels ashamed of speaking shortly.

"Yes," he says, and although the response seems rote, mechanical, his voice is nevertheless a little gentler. All other things aside -- this is Raguel. "I do."

Date: 2008-09-06 04:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com

There haven't been many that have asked. Whether they believe what they've read in the feeds or not, he's Uncle Ezra. He is what he is, even if their idea of it is a little nebulous, and they tend to accept what he tells them.

There haven't been many that have asked.

Aziraphael's throat bobs a little, beneath the stiff cloth of his shepherd's collar.

"What I know doesn't amount to much, I'm afraid," he says quietly. "I imagine you've seen what there is to see on the news?"

Date: 2008-09-06 05:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
"Yes," Aziraphael says again.

He looks away: first down at his hands, resting calmly and precisely on the edge of the rickety desk, then to the side, where the dusty light outside the window might be a late dawn or an early twilight. It paints the spartan room in blues and greys; the only splash of colour is the bright glow that picks out the angel's profile against the stone behind him.

And then finally, when there is nothing else with which to postpone the admission, Aziraphael looks back at the screen.

"They're not wrong. He was -- "



"He was shot, first."

Date: 2008-09-06 06:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
"Oh, for goodness'-- "

Aziraphael looks away again sharply, thumb rising quickly to swipe at the corner of an eye. He's managed well so far, but perhaps it's not so surprising that it's this, more than anything in days, that makes his ribs feel too tight to draw unnecessary breath.

"Yes -- "


He clears his throat, and tries again.

"Yes. They shot him. For which we might thank them, I suppose; he wasn't..."

This is more difficult than he'd imagined. There haven't been many that have asked. And Aziraphael hasn't been specific. But whatever Raguel is now, and however that might sit between them, Aziraphael owes him this, at least.

"It was quicker than it might have been otherwise."

Date: 2008-09-06 07:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
Aziraphael does, and needs abruptly to try and swallow down a feeling he can't quite put a name to: one part sudden, fierce desire to simply press whichever button it is that will end this, to walk away, to not have to watch this, to not have to think any more about what happened, to not be having this conversation -- and one part painful, treacherous longing for Raguel to be here, and not... not wherever he is.

(he does not want to be alone)

"Stop it." Flat; not quite harsh. "He'll be back."

Unspoken: they'll both be around when he does.

Date: 2008-09-06 05:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
I should have, Raguel says. Aziraphael has wondered sometimes whether -- or when -- they'd ever have common ground again. And now they do. Now they do, and the irony is so bitter and sharp that it's like a knife to the heart.

I should have.

A slight crack in Aziraphael's composure, his voice, when he replies, "I know."

Date: 2008-09-07 06:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
"Oh, my dear, that's really not necess-- "

It dies in his throat.



He's had this conversation so many times.

Date: 2008-09-07 06:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
"I'm really quite alright, Raguel," Aziraphael says, looking down at the desktop. And yet --

Raguel knows he's lying, of course. That's a given, and clear enough to both of them. What's important, what matters, is that Aziraphael no longer has the will nor the energy to lie with conviction.

Date: 2008-09-07 07:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
Aziraphael is an angel.

And if he ignores all else, if he pretends there is nothing else between them nor has there ever been, there is still this:

Aziraphael is an angel, and this is a cry for succour.



"Alright," he relents, face wan in the dying light.

(He does not want to have to pretend. He does not want to have to face the complicated and awkward and anxious dance that is every minute spent in Raguel's company. He is too tired to lie with any conviction.)

(But he is too tired to lie with any conviction.)

Date: 2008-09-08 04:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
"'A couple of days', my dear," Aziraphael says automatically.


And just like that, when the rest of the angel's brain catches up, something very like a smile flits across his face. Small, and wry, and a little sad -- but a smile (or something like it) all the same.

Date: 2008-09-09 03:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
"Do try not to do anything terribly illegal, Raguel," Aziraphael murmurs.

The angel yet looks drained, and sorrowful, but now that this, at least, has been decided, it's somehow a little easier to speak lightly of it.

Date: 2008-09-09 03:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
Aziraphael's small, sharp intake of breath is barely noticeable; so too the tiny flinch that escapes before the angel can stop it.

Date: 2008-09-09 04:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
His hand doesn't twitch towards the controls, but on the worn desktop, his fingertips show white for a moment with the effort.

"Do," he says.

Date: 2008-09-09 05:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
This time he does reach for the controls, and for the briefest of moments, the green tint fades and the screen shows true.

"Yes," Aziraphael says. "Crowley. Zài jiàn, Raguel."

The screen goes black.

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