“Archangel Gabriel, I would like you to meet the Principality Aziraphale.”
While Gabriel had known of the Principality Aziraphale before their first meeting, they had never properly met face to face. It had been due to his brother, Raphael’s, influence that they were even meeting at all.
Aziraphale wasn’t quite like what he’d imagined a Principality to look like, a soft body with an even softer expression on his face. Principalities were said to be the future protectors of Her Creation, to be stationed there to keep everything in order, but until that time came, they were working where they were needed. Aziraphale had been assisting in the Garden.
The Principality certainly didn’t seem like a warrior in this shape, but when his eyes met Gabriel’s, there was a flicker of something hidden behind that kindness, a power that even Gabriel wouldn’t tempt.
Aziraphale and Raphael had met by chance in the Garden and ever since their first meeting, Raphael had spoken of nothing other than the angel with blonde hair and blue eyes. The other Archangels had quickly grown tired of Raphael’s new topic of interest, ignoring him in favor of keeping busy with their assigned tasks, but Gabriel had been more than willing to lend a listening ear to his brother’s excitement.
Raphael had always been the more enthusiastic, the most passionate of all of the Archangels, gifted with a mind that could think outside of a metaphorical box and create things that no one had ever considered creating before. Gabriel had seen this brother in his element, creating stars in the night sky for all of Creation to enjoy, but never had he seen him as happy as he had been since he’d met Aziraphale.
“It is an honor to meet you face to face, Archangel Gabriel.”
“Please, there is no need for that. Gabriel is just fine.” Gabriel gave him a quick once over, taking in his chosen form until his gaze fell upon the intertwined fingers of Raphael and Aziraphale, the knuckles white from how tightly they were holding onto one another. A quick glance at their faces confirmed what he’d been suspecting; Aziraphale and Raphael were nervous. “It is a pleasure to finally meet the angel my brother speaks so frequently of.”
Raphael let out a breath, the tension leaving his shoulders, and Aziraphale’s mouth lost its tightness, the corners curling up into the motion of a smile. It was as if they had been expecting him to say something negative, something that would be considered disapproving of their affections towards one another. Not that Gabriel could blame them; Michael had already expressed their feelings on the matter, stating that Creation was far more important than whatever it was the two of them had and this was merely a distraction from the Great Plan.
Gabriel, on the other hand, thought it was nice to see his brother so at peace.
“He speaks of me often?”
“Oh, constantly. So often I feel like this is not even our first meeting.”
Aziraphale raised an eyebrow, turning his gaze to the Archangel beside him.
Raphael looked between the two of them, mouth opening and closing several times as he struggled to find the words he needed to respond, but all that came out was:
“W-Well, I mean...Ngk?”
Gabriel watched as Aziraphale squeezed his hand, a delighted laugh escaping his lips and Raphael seemed to swoon at the sound, sinking against the angel’s side with a look on his face that Gabriel had only seen a few times on his brother’s face since the beginning of their existence. It was the same look Raphael had when he looked upon the stars or when he spoke of the Almighty…
“Well, I can only hope that he hasn’t told you anything negative about me.”
Gabriel laughed as Raphael continued to sputter out his words, looking to his brother for help.
“Only good things, I assure you.”
“A-As if I could say anything negative of you, Aziraphale, honestly.”
“Oh, well, that’s a relief.”
Aziraphale’s smile seemed to brighten when it was turned towards Raphael and Raphael’s smile spread wide over his face; both so bright that it was nearly blinding.
Two blinding rays of sunshine.
“I wouldn’t worry, sunshine. Raphael is very taken with you.”
“Where is Raphael?”
“I believe he is off in the stars somewhere.”
“With the Principality?”
“Gabriel, the Garden has to be done in time. Raphael shouldn’t be running around and catering to this silly affair with Aziraphale when there’s work to be done.”
“He’s done his work for the day, Michael. Both of them have. What’s so wrong with the time they spend together?”
“You’ve always been too soft on Raphael. He is an Archangel just as you and I are. He needs to start acting like one.”
It wasn’t until Raphael began to spend all of his time with Aziraphale that Gabriel realized just how much of his own he had spent with his brother. In Raphael’s absence, he found himself feeling rather lonely with no one else to share his company with.
He had his other siblings, of course, but the other Archangels were both incredibly focused on Creation, pushing themselves above and beyond their assigned tasks to complete as much as they could before tiring themselves out. In comparison, Gabriel would finish his work and wander about Heaven, peeking in on other angels and checking up on their projects. It was simple, but it was peaceful and it helped Gabriel feel a little more involved in the whole process of Creation.
It was on one of those outings that he met Fahriel.
Fahriel was a creator for the Garden, using their brilliant mind to craft the most beautiful flowers.
Upon first impressions, Fahriel seemed rather cold and distant with little to no interest in forming any kind of personal relationship with anyone. While Fahriel had been seen in the company of Lucifer, they seemed to mostly keep to themselves, working quietly on new creations for the Garden.
Fahriel toed the line between Michael’s severe work habits and Raphael’s sense of humor, both things that Gabriel had never really understood. However, the more time they spent with one another, the more Gabriel saw brief flashes of a softness that Fahriel very rarely showed to others and felt he could place his trust in this angel-like he once had with Raphael.
“I just want to make Her proud of me. I want to do everything in my power to make Creation go off without any issue."
Fahriel hummed thoughtfully, not looking up from the work they were doing, but letting Gabriel know they were actively listening. This was how most of Gabriel’s downtime was spent, watching Fahriel work on their latest creation for the Garden and talking about whatever came to mind.
“And how are you going to do that?”
“Well, by working hard, I suppose. I check on the status of the Garden, make sure everyone has a task, and is working on it as they should…”
“Sounds like a proper angel in charge.” Fahriel held up the flower they’d been working on, holding it out for Gabriel to observe. “Tell me what you think of this one.”
“I feel as if you are not giving me a compliment,” Gabriel said carefully, examining the flower thoughtfully, taking in the full, lush petals and the not so vibrant color. “I think it should be brighter, like the sun.”
“It is respectable to do all of that high and mighty Archangel work, but it’s hardly what you like doing, is it?” Fahriel asked, frowning down at the petals of the flower before snapping their fingers and observing as the petals turned a more golden color. “Hm. Well done.”
“I am happy to do what the Almighty asks of me and She asked me to help Creation along. I simply follow the example that Michael sets.”
“So you are being like Michael.”
Fahriel rolled their eyes, setting the newly made flower aside and starting on another.
“Then you are being foolish.”
“The Almighty Herself made us all different, did she not? It is an insult to try to be like Michael.”
“I do not understand,” Gabriel said slowly, tilting his head to the side curiously. “Michael is a prime example of what all Archangels should be. They are hard-working and always focused on Her Plan--”
“And that’s all good and well for Michael , but what about you?”
“Yes, you. What makes the Archangel Gabriel unique?” Fahriel asked, their eyes leaving the flower in their hands to instead fix their gaze on Gabriel. “Why did God create you? Certainly not to be like Michael.”
Gabriel opened his mouth to answer, but slowly closed it when no words immediately came to mind. He felt a bit embarrassed by his lack of answer; everyone seemed so confident in their role and Gabriel suddenly felt unsure about what his role in Heaven truly was.
“No one has ever asked me that before.”
“Well, think about it. When you figure it out, come see me again.”
Raphael, do you think I am...unique?
Of course! Why would you think otherwise?
Oh...I don’t know. I feel as if when the Almighty created me, She made a copy of Michael.
You? A copy of Michael? You are nothing like Michael.
I want to do everything I can for Creation. To make Her proud of me.
She is proud of you, Gabriel. You do so much for Creation already without being anything like Michael.
I am not so sure…
Well, we’re looking for things that define you? I think I know a few.
Gabriel, you are my brother. I think I know you at least a little.
"Come to the Garden with me."
Gabriel looked up from the scroll in his hands, looking at Fahriel curiously as they perched on a bench across from him.
"Because you have never been down to the Garden and I think you ought to see it in person."
"I'm needed up here, Fahriel. I don't have time to-"
"Don't you want to see it?"
Gabriel chuckled, shaking his head, the idea ridiculous. Of course, he wanted to see the Garden, the one thing they were all putting so much of themselves into, the one thing God Herself would use to place her precious Creations, but it wasn’t his place.
"Well, of course, but-"
"Just for a moment, Gabriel. They'll never know you were gone."
"I'm sure they'll notice-"
His objection died off in his throat and he stared up at Fahriel, who stared back at him intensely. He'd never left Heaven before; the idea of it was a bit unnerving. Angels left Heaven all the time to go to the Garden and while he had never been told explicitly that he couldn’t go, he knew Michael wouldn’t approve.
"Do you trust me?"
"Then come with me."
Fahriel offered a hand to him and Gabriel hesitated, giving a wary glance around the area, half expecting Michael to appear and berate him for even considering not working, but...Creation could spare a moment, couldn’t it?
He took Fahriel’s hand.
"Well, just one moment wouldn't hurt, I suppose."
In the end, the Garden was everything he expected it to be. Bright colors, wonderful smells, interesting animals; things he had heard about from those who were stationed there to perform their jobs but had never seen before with his own eyes.
“What do you think?”
“It’s...stunning. It’s one thing to hear about it, but to see it.” Gabriel marveled at the feeling of what was called dirt under his feet, fingers reaching out to trace the leaves of the nearby foliage that surrounded them. “Did you make these?”
“No. This isn’t my area.” Fahriel motioned down a nearby path, tilting their head curiously. “I can show you mine if you’d like.”
Gabriel turned his full attention to Fahriel once more, smiling wide. “That would be wonderful.” He followed the angel down the path laid out at their feet, eyes wide as he observed every plant and creature they happened across along the way. When his hand brushed against a very familiar-looking flower, his eyes widened. “Oh! Fahriel, this is one of yours!”
Fahriel turned to look back at him, a softness to their gaze that Gabriel was sure he had never seen on their face before. They simply nodded their head, motioning to the area around them.
“Yes, it is. All of these are mine.”
Gabriel could tell, for he recognized every single flower. In a way, he had helped create almost every flower here as well. He had never seen them like this , real living things, and he found himself walking the area, observing each one.
“It’s so different, seeing them here. It’s like seeing them all again for the first time.”
Fahriel hummed, still watching him with that soft look.
“Funny. I was about to say the same thing.”
Gabriel felt relaxed here; it was rather nice, being away from the constant pressure of Creation and Michael’s overbearing hovering. For just a few moments, he could simply exist. He moved down the line, admiring each flower he passed until he came to a flower with large white petals and a touch of yellow near the center.
“Oh, is this one new? I haven’t seen it before.”
“Yes.” Fahriel moved to his side, examining the flower before brushing a fingertip along its petal fondly. “I came up with it while you were off on Archangel duty. Do you like it?”
“It’s beautiful. The touch of yellow adds something to it, I think. What will you call it?”
Gabriel chuckled, the irony of the name not lost on him.
Fahriel studied the flower for a moment, nose scrunched up in some silent debate before they picked the flower from the plant and held it out towards him. “Here. Take it.”
Gabriel blinked, eyes widening as his hands reached out to take the flower gently by the stem, fingers just barely brushing Fahriel’s.
“It is nothing. More will grow.” Fahriel’s face was a touch redder than normal, actively avoiding Gabriel’s eyes as Gabriel stared at them, helplessly holding the flower in his hands as if it were the most precious thing he had ever received. “We should go back. I’m sure Michael is moments away from a fit.”
Gabriel nodded slowly, gaze flickering down to the flower, fingers tracing the edge of the petal delicately. He felt strange, a heavy weight in his chest at the thought of being there in the Garden, being with Fahriel amongst the flowers.
He simply couldn’t explain it.
“Yes. Of course.”
Where have you been, Gabriel?
Oh, Fahriel just took me down to the Garden. I saw the most amazing-
You and Fahriel have been spending a lot of time together as of late.
Yes, of course. Fahriel is my friend.
We already have Raphael off with Aziraphale, neglecting his work. Honestly, Gabriel, we can’t afford to have you doing the same.
“Well, well, well, what have we here? The Archangel Gabriel? Smiling?”
Gabriel blinked, dragging his gaze from where they’d been resting on the full white petals of the gardenia until they rested on the source of the voice, surprised to see his brother approaching him without Aziraphale at his side.
“But what has my brother smiling so wide, I wonder? A simple flower? No, it must be something else.”
Gabriel laughed, shaking his head as he waved his hand in his brother’s general direction to dismiss him.
“It’s nothing. ”
Raphael sat himself down beside Gabriel, squinting at his face curiously and Gabriel merely rolled his eyes, looking away sheepishly.
“Your face is all red. Your eyes are bright. You smell like...the Garden? Were you in the Garden? You have never been to the Garden.”
“Since when did you become so nosy?”
“Since the day I was Created. Now tell me what has you so happy.”
Gabriel looked down at the flower Fahriel had given him, stem gingerly pinched between his fingers as he twirled it around and around. He sighed, a chest full of warmth as his smile returned.
“I am...not sure.”
Raphael looked between Gabriel and the flower for a few moments before his eyes went wide.
“ Oh . Not a something, but a someone?” Gabriel's face felt warm all of a sudden and Raphael's smile grew impossibly wider. "It is someone! Gabriel!"
"Tell me who has made you so happy!"
Gabriel sighed, still twirling the flower this way and that, studying each petal and each detail.
"Do you...know who Fahriel is?"
"Fahriel from the Garden? Short dark hair? Kind of mean looking? That's who has become the source of your affection?”
"Honestly. Why do I tell you anything?"
"I already regret every moment of this conversation."
“ Hush . Brother, if Fahriel makes you so happy, then I am happy for you.”
Gabriel’s teeth toyed with his bottom lip, thoughtful for a moment. Perhaps Raphael would be able to help him sort out how he was feeling exactly; he had always been better in tune with his emotions, especially since he’d met Aziraphale.
“Well? Tell me about them.”
“Fahriel is...a bit closed off, harsh sometimes, but they’re so creative and...and funny? We went to the Garden today and it was stunning and they told me everything that had a name. They make the flowers in the Garden, did you know that, and...they gave me this one. A gardenia, I believe they called it.”
Raphael tilted his head to the side, giving the flower a once over before humming as if he saw something there that Gabriel just didn’t see.
“It is, isn’t it?” Gabriel sighed, the feeling in his chest shifting into more of a dull ache as he thought of Fahriel’s face when they presented him with this flower. “Raphael, what is this feeling I am feeling? I’ve never felt it before.”
Raphael smiled knowingly.
“I believe the Almighty calls it Love.”
“Love…This is Love?”
“Yes. And it looks like you’ve got a lot of it.”
Got this for you.
Hm? What is it?
It is called a violet. I thought you would like it.
It is a beautiful color, Fahriel. Thank you.
It’s the same color as your eyes, you know.
How interesting! Perhaps whoever created it used my eyes as inspiration?
Yes...Perhaps they did.
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
Gabriel blinked, having not realized that he’d been staring at Fahriel in silence for however long they’d been sitting together. Fahriel was looking at him from the corner of their eye, their newest creation held poised in their hand.
“Oh, I wasn’t--I mean, I wasn’t staring , I was thinking.”
Fahriel’s lips curled a bit at one corner, lifting their lips into a smile that even Gabriel rarely saw.
“Oh? About me?”
“Actually, yes,” Gabriel admitted, running a nervous hand through his hair. “I was. Thinking about you, that is.”
Fahriel’s fingers paused against the petals of the flower, eyes widening just a fraction before they turned their attention towards him fully. “What about me exactly?”
“Well, you have been taking me to the Garden a lot lately, showing me what you’ve created. I thought that maybe...I could take you somewhere and show you what I’ve created.”
“Take me somewhere,” Fahriel repeated softly, shifting their body towards him completely and lifting their hand to tuck the flower stem carefully behind his ear. “And where would you like to take me, Gabriel?”
Before Fahriel could withdraw their hand, Gabriel caught it with his own and brought it to his lips, brushing his lips against the knuckles affectionately. Fahriel rolled their eyes in what seemed like annoyance, but their cheeks were dusted with a faint shade of pink.
Raphael had once told him of a time he had taken Aziraphale to the stars, not long after they met and not much longer after Raphael realized the Principality was so special to him. At the start of Creation, when God created the Sun and the Moon, Gabriel and Raphael had worked together to craft many of the stars that now glowed above them in the sky.
Gabriel wanted to share that with Fahriel, the angel who had become so special to him, and he didn’t want to wait any longer.
“To the stars.”
"The stars," Fahriel repeated. "You want to take me to the stars."
"If you'll let me."
"Of course." Fahriel's lips curled just so at the corners and squeezed the hand in his own. "Lead on, my flower."
It had never occurred to Gabriel that Fahriel had never been amongst the stars before, so it was a bit of a surprise for him to see the look of absolute wonder on the angel's face upon their arrival in the night sky.
"Fahriel? Are you alright?"
"I have...never seen the stars so close before." Fahriel murmured, stretching out a hand towards a star, not quite touching, but close enough to feel the warmth rolling off of it. "I thought Raphael created all of the stars."
"He created most of them. I created the rest." Gabriel supplied, tilting his head back so he could gaze up at the endless amount of stars. "I taught him the basics and he carried on from there."
"Show me. I want to see the ones you made." Fahriel said, lowering their hand only to stretch out their fingers towards Gabriel, a rare, genuine smile on their face. "I want to see them all."
Gabriel stared at the outstretched hand for a moment before smiling faintly. "You do?" He asked, reaching out and taking the offered hand, sliding their fingers together with ease.
"More than anything."
Gabriel, do you ever wonder why God is Creating Humanity?
What do you mean?
I mean, doesn’t it seem odd that She is creating Humanity and only setting them up to fail? Lucifer says-
Don’t take lessons from Lucifer, Raphael. He will only get you into trouble.
"Why do you suppose the Almighty is asking this of you?"
Asking questions was Fahriel’s new thing and while Gabriel was fairly used to answering questions, it was uncanny timing since Raphael had begun asking questions regarding the Almighty recently as well. Questions were fine, but the idea of questioning the Almighty made him incredibly uneasy.
"My job is to follow the Almighty, Fahriel, not to question Her."
"What's so wrong with asking questions?"
Gabriel's entire body tensed, the same words once spoken by Lucifer and not long ago Raphael echoed in his head and something inside him, something ugly, twisted painfully.
Not them too.
"Honestly. Why even bother creating the Humans if she just intends to keep them locked up and hidden away-"
"Fahriel, please ."
Fahriel looked at him in surprise when they heard the desperation in his tone, eyebrows raising just a fraction out of curiosity as they studied his face. Their smaller hand slid into his own, fingers very gently squeezing reassuringly.
"Are you...frightened, Gabriel?"
Gabriel averted his eyes, embarrassed to admit it. He was frightened.
There was something so uncertain about asking and curiosity; Lucifer had started it all, asking why and how until he poisoned the minds of other angels around them including their youngest brother, Raphael. Gabriel believed that whatever the Almighty needed them to know, She would reveal to them in time, but it appeared like everyone closest to him didn't feel the same way.
"Absolutely not. I just don't think that you should be questioning the Almighty."
"And why not?"
"Because you're starting to sound like Lucifer."
"And what is wrong with that?"
"Fahriel, we should never question the Almighty."
The other angel frowned, the hand that had been holding Gabriel's slowly withdrew as they took a step back away from him. Fahriel had withdrawn from him; the knot inside him twisted violently.
The next words nearly knocked the wind from him.
"Perhaps we should ."
"What's so wrong with wanting answers? We know what She plans to do, but not why?"
Gabriel's hands were shaking as he raised them as if to placate the angel who's voice only grew louder with anger. He only hoped the Almighty wasn't listening, that Fahriel would be spared any repercussions.
"Fahriel, stop. She may hear you-"
"I hope that She does! I hope She hears me as I demand to know why She tells us nothing!"
" Fahriel- "
There was a tickle on the back of Gabriel's neck and an awareness touching his mind that replaced his fear with an intense need to protect .
They were being watched.
"I want to know! It's not fair that She is doing-"
Gabriel moved forward in an instant, crowding Fahriel up against the nearest wall and placing a finger against their lips to silence them. His wings drew up around the two of them, effectively hiding Fahriel completely from view.
"Stop, stop, please…"
Fahriel stared up at him with wide green eyes, noticing the way his hands shook and how his eyes flickered nervously from side to side as if anticipating something to happen as he towered protectively over them.
The anger that had been building slowly dissipated and Fahriel reached up to curl their fingers around the hand Gabriel was using to cover their mouth and lowered it slowly.
"Why are you so afraid, my flower?”
The words were whispered, so softly, a tone and a name Fahriel reserved for Gabriel and Gabriel alone, and the Archangel squeezed Fahriel's hand even tighter in his own.
How could he tell them that he feared what the Almighty would do if questioned?
How could he admit that while he never wanted to believe that the Almighty would harm them, he just wasn't sure?
No words would come and he found himself staring down at Fahriel, opening and closing his mouth repeatedly.
He had never had a problem with being honest with Fahriel; what was stopping him now?
"Gabriel?" The Archangel closed his eyes, bending to press his face into Fahriel's neck and hide from their gaze. Fahriel hesitated for only a moment, hand hovering uncertainly before it found its place on the back of Gabriel's neck, cradling him in their embrace. "Steady, steady. I've got you."
There was silence for a long time; the feeling of being watched gradually faded and with it went the tension in Gabriel's body.
Everything was fine.
But if Gabriel started holding onto Fahriel a bit tighter from that day forward, neither of them mentioned it.
Aziraphale, may I ask you something?
Of course, Gabriel. Is something wrong?
Has Raphael been asking...questions?
Isn’t he always?
I mean, different questions. About the Almighty and her Plan.
Mm...Now and then, yes. I believe he’s been spending some time with Lucifer.
As I thought.
Gabriel, what’s wrong?
I’m worried that Lucifer may be up to something...
The image of Lucifer plummeting from the skies was something that permanently burned itself into his memory.
The way his wings had suddenly been engulfed in flame and he fell, screaming in agony, his hand outstretched for help from Michael who could only watch, stunned, as their brother fell.
They'd all watched the clouds he'd disappeared beneath, secretly hoping their fallen brother would reemerge, announcing it all as a simple joke.
But he never did.
Michael slowly descended from the skies, coming to rest on the same cloud as Gabriel and Uriel, obviously shaken by the event.
Gabriel stared at them in disbelief, his own hands shaking as he stared at his eldest sibling.
"Michael, what have you done?"
Michael shook their head frantically, eyes wide.
"That wasn't my doing, I swear! He just...He just fell!"
Gabriel opened his mouth to argue that Michael must have done something , but a sharp pain suddenly ripped through his chest, a pain so intense that it nearly brought him to his knees and all that left his lips was a pained whimper.
Fahriel's voice echoed in his head, their fear resonating through his entire being. Gabriel placed his hand over his chest, breathing deeply as he searched the skies but he couldn't find the angel he was searching for, the one reaching out to him.
The silence that answered him was deafening, suffocating, and his anxiety swelled up in his throat, threatening to choke him.
There was a horrified scream from nearby and Gabriel watched as another angel plummeted from the sky in flames in a similar fashion to Lucifer.
Then another. Then another.
"Gabriel, what is happening?"
Uriel's voice was unsteady, hands tugging at his arm frantically, desperate for something , for some kind of answer.
"I...I don't know."
A scream echoed across the skies of Heaven, no, not a scream, a wail. One that sent chills down their spines and shook them down to their cores.
That was a terrible sound, never had they heard such a sound that indicated such loss , such anguish. It was a familiar voice, but an unfamiliar tone; he had never heard this voice in this way before.
Gabriel's eyes went wide.
Gabriel had taken to the skies before he had even realized what he was doing, flying towards the source of the noise; Aziraphale was in trouble.
The three Archangels followed the sounds, sounds that soon became words, frantic and desperate before dissolving into hysterical sobs.
"No, no, no...come back…"
Gabriel was the first to touch down, standing just behind Aziraphale who was on his knees, hunched over and curled in on himself. His fingers were digging uselessly into the cloud underneath him, becoming more frantic as time went on.
The Archangel took a hesitant step forward, reaching out to cautiously touch the Principality’s shoulder. When his hand made contact, Aziraphale twisted around and slapped his hand away, eyes wide and manic, glowing furiously with barely contained Principality power. His cheeks were stained with tears, making him look the most unraveled that Gabriel had ever seen.
“ Don’t touch me!”
Gabriel held up his hands in a calming gesture, walking backward until Aziraphale’s attention seemed to drift back to the space he’d been digging through before and resumed his actions, whispering to himself still even after Michael and Uriel joined them.
“What is he looking for?”
“I-I don’t know.”
Aziraphale sobbed, shoulders shaking as he buried his face into his hands, curling further into himself. It was almost too painful to observe, watching an angel fall apart like this, an angel that he knew and cared so much about.
"Lord, please , please bring him back to me…"
And it was then that Gabriel realized:
Raphael. Where was Raphael?
Gabriel looked around frantically, knowing that if Aziraphale were in this much pain, Raphael would already be here and if he wasn't...
Aziraphale wailed .
Raphael was gone.
You don’t have to do this alone, you know.
If I pray enough, maybe the Almighty will reconsider. Perhaps she will bring Raphael home and forgive him for what he’s done.
If She were going to bring him home, She would have done it by now.
But if I just--
Uriel, enough. You need to rest.
I don’t need rest. I need my brother back.
The time following the event that came to be known as the Fall was all a blur for Gabriel; the world moved on, but Gabriel found it hard to do so.
He took on the responsibility of taking care of Aziraphale while Michael took charge of piecing Heaven back together which weren’t easy tasks for either of them, considering Aziraphale’s current state of mind and the current state of Heaven.
Aziraphale wasn't himself anymore; he never smiled, never laughed, he would sit for long periods and stare, only rousing himself from his daze to occasionally ask where Raphael was and shutting back down when Gabriel would remind him very gently that he was gone.
Raphael wouldn't want Aziraphale to waste away alone, so Gabriel took it upon himself to look after him, hoping that maybe it would be enough, that maybe one day Aziraphale would suddenly just...return and go back to normal.
But he wasn’t enough and Aziraphale was still lost; Gabriel wasn't Raphael and therefore was never going to be what Aziraphale needed.
Gabriel probably wasn't faring much better, honestly. While he wasn't exactly a shell of who he used to be, he still wasn't handling it well at all. Losing two brothers was hard enough, but he felt the loss of Fahriel a lot more than he anticipated and it left him shattered in the aftermath of the Fall.
There was an emptiness in his chest that he couldn't shake, a dark void where he once felt his love for Fahriel swell and grow with each passing moment they'd spent together.
He was angry at himself for not stopping the Fall in time, angry at Lucifer for causing the angels to question, and perhaps...perhaps he was a little angry at the Almighty for allowing it all to happen which only made his anger at himself worse.
Creation was shoved aside in favor of his grief, his anger; he spent more time alone or sitting with Aziraphale than he did managing the angels who were still able to function, even if just barely.
He hadn't once looked at anything regarding the Garden, he couldn’t.
"Honestly, Gabriel, you need to pull yourself together. You can't expect me to do this on my own."
Michael was getting tired of doing all of this work on their own, having had all of it dropped into their lap since all of the other Archangels had collapsed under their grief, and Gabriel knew, but he just could not bring himself to care.
Gabriel was tired too and he would much rather be left alone.
"Where is Uriel?"
"It won't work."
"She hasn't said a word since the Fall. Why would She start now?"
“Your faith is wavering.”
“And yours isn’t?”
Michael said nothing, staring at Gabriel as if he were a stranger, as if they simply didn’t recognize the angel in front of them. Maybe it was bold to start asking questions so soon, not after Raphael, not after Fahriel, but he couldn’t help but wonder if Fahriel had been right all along.
Why would She allow this to happen and then ignore their cries for answers?
"Getting worse. He's plucking feathers now."
Michael sighed heavily, pinching the bridge of their nose between their fingers.
"There are others just like him: not speaking, agitated, only asking for Fallen ones, plucking feathers."
"They're grieving, Michael."
"We all are."
"Not all of us grieve in the same way."
"Can Creation not spare a moment? We are suffering. "
Michael took a step back, taken aback by the harsh tone he’d used with them, not used to Gabriel being anything but calm and collected.
“Gabriel, you are not yourself. You need to leave this room, stretch your wings.”
“I’m fine .”
“I know you’re grieving your losses-”
“I said I’m fine!” Michael fell silent, stunned, and Gabriel sighed heavily, shoulders sagging. “Michael...I apologize. I’m just not too keen on the idea of working right now.”
"Brother, please ...I cannot do all of this on my own."
Gabriel ran a hand over his face, feeling so much more tired than he ever had in his entire existence. But he was an Archangel and as such, he had to be the strong one despite how he never wanted to move ever again.
“Alright, alright.” He rose from his seat, limbs heavy with exhaustion as he made his way to the doorway. "I will come with you. Perhaps there is something I can do to help."
Michael placed a hand on his arm, stopping him from moving any further as they gave him a once over with their eyes. Their hands moved to straighten out his robes, freeing them of any wrinkles before running their fingers through his hair to bring some life back to it.
He allowed it, of course. He couldn't look a mess when trying to show support for those who were suffering.
"I appreciate it, Gabriel. Once we get everyone back on track, we can finally move forward with Creation and-- oh ."
Gabriel blinked, noting how Michael was looking behind him and he followed their gaze in confusion, not seeing what they were so concerned about.
"What is it, Michael?"
"Gabriel...You're missing feathers."
Gabriel should have been more alarmed by that statement, but he felt nothing as he lifted the wing Michael's gaze was fixated on and gave it a once over himself. He was missing quite a few feathers in several places, he noticed, but there were some areas where he was missing clumps as if someone had torn them out of his wings with their hands.
Odd...He wondered when that had happened.
"That's funny...I don't remember losing any."
Michael certainly didn't find it funny, gaze flickering between Gabriel's face and then his wings, realization crossing their features before softening into barely visible anguish.
"Oh, Gabriel . Not you too."
"I don't understand."
Gabriel was at a loss as Michael leaned in a bit closer, staring straight into his eyes and he took a step back uncertainly, honestly feeling a bit uncomfortable under their gaze.
"How are you feeling, Gabriel?"
"Me? I'm fine. Why?"
They continued to study him, not quite believing his words, but seemed to think better about pushing their questioning. Michael was hiding something from him, but he wasn’t sure what it could be.
"Come along then. Getting out of this room will probably be good for you."
Michael took his arm with a gentle hand and led him out of the space he'd made a home of since the Fall. They visited different angels, all of them suffering from the same ailments as Aziraphale, all of them as equally helpless, but Gabriel did what he could to assist.
Though as the day went on, Gabriel started to notice Michael's lingering gaze from the corner of his eye, could feel their concern for him, though he wasn't sure what it was for.
He thought best to not ask.
The Fallen seem to have moved further underground; Lucifer was at the helm.
And Raphael? F-Fahriel? Are they…?
No word, Gabriel, I’m sorry. At this time, we’re unsure if they even survived.
Time ticked on.
Some of the suffering angels made a slow, but sure recovery, returning to their day to day tasks to prepare for Creation, much to Michael’s delight. Others were not so lucky, their dwindling doubt in God and Her actions causing them to Fall from grace like the ones before them.
Gabriel fell back to more of a supportive role in Creation, allowing Michael to take hold of the reins and get things back on track, while he got himself back on his feet and continued to check in on Aziraphale.
Though, time was short as was Michael’s patience. Aziraphale was one of the few who showed no sure signs of recovery from the trauma that was Raphael’s Fall, still sitting where Gabriel had left him, still staring at nothing, eyes empty and blank, the only sure sign that he was even still in there was the occasional slow blink.
Things had to change, Michael said, even if by force.
What do you suggest we do, Michael?
I think we should take the memories from every angel about every Fallen.
If they cannot remember what they’ve lost, they will not remember their grief.
Have you completely lost your mind? You’re talking about wiping the minds of thousands of their loved ones! Who’s to say this will even work?
Then we must test it first. Where is Aziraphale?
I will not go through with this. I refuse, I won’t. Raphael wouldn’t--
Raphael isn’t here.
"You do it or I will, Gabriel."
"There must be something else we can do--"
"Gabriel, I mean it.”
Michael motioned to the Principality sitting in front of them, staring sadly down at his hands like he did most of the time since Raphael's Fall.
Gabriel found himself kneeling in front of Aziraphale after several steps forward on stiff legs, offering him a gentle smile when the angel raised his eyes to look at him. There was a flicker of recognition; Aziraphale's blue eyes cleared, a smile formed, and for a moment, he was all there.
"Hey, sunshine. How are you feeling?"
"Oh, just fine. Why do you ask?'
Aziraphale’s gaze flickered to just over Gabriel’s shoulder, smile faltering when his eyes found Michael and looked back to Gabriel with uncertainty.
"Don't mind Michael, sunshine. They're just visiting with me today."
But it was too late; Gabriel could already see the hesitance in Aziraphale's eyes and watched as the angel's hand unconsciously moved to the empty space beside him as if searching for another hand to hold, a hand that used to always be there.
"No, not at all. Everything is--" Aziraphale's gaze flickered to beside him and the coherence that had been bright behind his eyes began to grow dim and Gabriel knew he was losing him again. “Aziraphale, hey, stay with me-”
"Where is...Raphael?" Aziraphale's voice wavered, toeing the line of utter insanity as he looked around the entirety of the space for that one familiar face that he just couldn’t find. “Where...Where is he?”
Gabriel forced a smile forward despite how much it hurt him to see Aziraphale so distressed. The angel responded more positively to kindness during his episodes, it helped bring him back sooner, helped keep him grounded, but the longer this went on, the harder it was to bring him back.
"He's not here, sunshine. Remember?"
"Where is he?"
"No! Where is he?" The ferocity behind those words was startling, practically feral, and it was a tone that Aziraphale hadn’t ever used before losing Raphael. Now, it was a common occurrence, a common symptom plaguing all those who had suffered a loss after the Fall. The angel's eyes widened a fraction when he’d realized how he’d acted and his gaze flickered back to Gabriel's face, his eyes welling up and spilling over with tears of gold. "Oh, oh, I'm terribly sorry, I didn't mean--"
Gabriel brought his hands up and cupped Aziraphale's face in his palms, using his thumbs to gently wipe the tears from his cheeks. The angel sniffed, raising his own hands to clutch at Gabriel's wrists desperately as if trying to steady himself.
"Shh...Sunshine, it's alright."
None of this was alright; Aziraphale didn't deserve this, Raphael and Fahriel didn't deserve this.
None of them had deserved this.
" Gabriel ." Michael's tone was low, a warning, and Gabriel swallowed, still gently wiping the tears from Aziraphale's face.
"Gabriel? W-Where is my Raphael? Have you found him?"
Oh, if only he had the answers. If only he could tell Aziraphale where Raphael had gone, maybe it would bring him peace, but Gabriel himself didn't even know what had happened to the Fallen, if Raphael had even survived.
"He's gone, sunshine. I'm so sorry."
His hands moved from Aziraphale's cheeks, fingers slowly coming to cup the back of the Angel's head, thumbs just barely brushing against his temples. He just didn’t want Aziraphale to suffer like this anymore.
"G-Gabriel, what are you doing…?"
He stared up at the Archangel with damp blue eyes, eyes that his brother had created stars over, hands still clutching his wrists. The uncertainty was back, but this time it was directed at him . Aziraphale had never looked at him like that before, like he was afraid , and it made something twist in Gabriel's stomach.
I've never felt this way about anyone before, Gabriel.
It sounds serious.
What would Raphael think of this?
He was meant to be protecting him, keeping him safe, and yet Aziraphale was afraid of him.
What would the Almighty think of this?
This was wrong...There had to be another way.
So, you're being like Michael.
Well, then you're being foolish.
Fahriel's voice echoed in his head and Gabriel squeezed his eyes shut.
What would Fahriel think of him, if they could see him like this?
You have a big heart, my flower. Others will take advantage of that if you aren't careful.
His heart ached; if he weren't forcing himself to hold it together, he would be just like Aziraphale.
Remember the Plan, Gabriel. This is for the greater good, for Creation.
For Creation...For the Almighty…
The hands around his wrists tightened just a fraction, a lower lip trembled nervously.
He knew what he had to do.
"I'm so sorry, sunshine, but this is only going to help you."
With that, Gabriel channeled his divine energy and took.
Almighty, he was such a coward.