Blurb: Aziraphale is assigned his own personal herald to assist him in his angelic duties.
I confess it was odd to me that Aziraphale reported to Gabriel in the show. Gabriel, in my mind, is a messenger in charge of announcing very important conceptions and whatnot. The Hermes of angels, if you will. So why put a PR/communications guy over someone who is either a shepherd (guiding & protecting humanity) or a warrior (against an adversary)? If Zira is there to guard or fight, wouldn't he report to Michael? But maybe that organizational misalignment explains why Gabriel doesn't appreciate Zira.
For historical reference, wearing masks in public is now mandatory and `1k ppl are diagnosed with covid every day in my state.
Rated K+. Someone is seriously injured but no character death. No sexy, smoochy stuff written or implied. No profanity (as I count it). Define "good".
HERALD TO THE PRINCIPALITY
I am summoned to the Archangel Gabriel. Like any competent herald, I am there as soon as possible. I am not often in the company of an archangel and I feel a little awed by the experience.
Like Gabriel, I too am a herald, but I would not consider myself their equal by any means. They are an archangel while I am merely an angel. They talk directly with God while I simply carry messages from one corner of creation to the other. Being in their august company makes me feel very humble by comparison, yet I do feel slightly superior to other heralds who are not invited to their presence.
There isn't just a message waiting for me when I arrive; I am not summoned so that I can be immediately sent away. With a polite nod and beckoning wave of their hand, Gabriel greets me and draws me forward.
"Aziraphale," they say to another angel who is already with them, "this is Salindriphale, one of my heralds. Salindriphale, this is Aziraphale, Principality of Earth, formerly Guardian of the Eastern Gate."
The principality is very modest at the mention of their titles. "Let us not make a fuss," they demur. "Just 'Aziraphale' will do."
The self-deprecation warms me. How kind and gentle is this angel! Such noble condescension! Not that I don't love and respect hierarchy! An angel who doesn't respect the natural order of things is just a demon.
I am too tongue tied to reply coherently - a terrible weakness in a herald - but Gabriel is unfazed. This is not a time for my speeches.
"Aziraphale, I am assigning Salindriphale to you as your own personal herald," says the archangel.
The news nearly bowls me over. Herald to the Principality of Earth! I sound out the title in my head, quite pleased with the importance of it. Herald to the Principality.
The principality's modesty, however, transitions from tasteful to antisocial. They attempt to refuse, to claim they are not worthy of such notice, but the archangel is adamant.
"It is done, Aziraphale. I'll let the two of you sort out the details," said Gabriel, calling our attention to the door. The introduction is over; Gabriel's goal is achieved. We need to get out of their way so they can get back to pressing archangel business.
"Yes, well," sighs the principality when we are outside the archangel's office with the door firmly closed behind us, taking the dismissal in stride, "let's give it a try and see how it goes although I do worry that you will find it dreadfully dull, Salindriphale."
"I do not think that is possible," I say. Boredom sounds terribly demonic, and I am very much not a demon.
The principality smiles benevolently at my enthusiasm.
Earth does not quite live up to my expectations. Accustomed to the pristine beauty of Heaven, I am shocked to see how dirty the planet looks, how disorganized. The principality is unbothered by any of it so I emulate their actions as best as I can while I grow acclimated to the mundane.
We travel on our feet with our wings hidden except when the situation demands, and the principality is very clear that the situation never demands such a thing. Humans, they point out, do not have wings, so our wings would reveal our angelic nature to them. For some reason, it is important to the principality to blend in so well that we are mistaken for humans.
I remind them that we are messengers sent by God and conclude that we should not hide our origin or our message. They counter that God has given humanity free will and intends for them to make their own decisions, choose their own fate, and humans simply cannot do that objectively if we declare ourselves as mouthpieces of the Almighty and tell them what to think and do.
"This settlement," they explain as we near a collection of buildings, "is full of hardworking souls, but some of them need a little help. A touch of grace never hurt anyone." This is a common theme: humans need a little grace given secretly rather than the bold proclamations of divinity bestowed upon a captive audience. I see the nuance, but must be honest that my way is simpler.
They then indicate a pair of humans. One is as tall as the principality or me, with hair on top of its head and around its mouth. The other is much shorter, with any hair hidden beneath a headcovering.
"This father, for instance," continues the principality, indicating the taller human, "is deeply concerned about leaving his daughter alone while he works, but he must earn money to provide her with food and shelter. She, on the other hand, worries that he will be injured and wishes he didn't have to work so hard."
"He?" I repeat. "She?"
The principality purses their lips. "Yes, humans are typically he or she rather than they; animals too. It's a variation in Her creation."
That is a new thought. But then again, there are different kinds of angels. "Like the difference between a herald and a soldier?"
"No. Not exactly. It relates to how they make more humans."
"They can make more of themselves?" I have not paid much attention to humans before being sent to Earth but just the thought makes me uneasy. That sort of power should rest with the Almighty.
"They are not immortal," says the principality. "If they do not make their own offspring, they will die out."
A thought occurs to me. "And when you are among the humans, do you pretend to be a he or a she?"
"A he," the principality answers. "Usually. One must be flexible as the situation demands."
I file this away. An angel is a they. A human is a he or she. And a demon is an it.
They make a little noise in their throat. "But, as I was saying, this father and daughter, they are all the family the other one has."
"What do you mean by family?" I puzzle. Gender is a new concept for me, but not family. However, the context feels wrong. "Humans all are of one family, are they not?" If God created the first humans in Her own image, and all other humans were created from them, they are all children of God.
The principality frowns as they try to figure out how to explain it. "I agree that there is one brotherhood of Man, yes, but humans can be very tribal or clannish. Just as you might feel greater congeniality with another herald, so humans prefer other humans that are similar to themselves. And the relationship between parent and child is stronger still. It is a powerful preference that one calls 'love.' It can be a very beautiful thing to observe when both are so eager to sacrifice their own comfort for the other."
"So those two prefer each other above all others," I nod in understanding. "Do you worry that they will love each other more than they love God? Shall I deliver a warning to them to temper their love?"
"No!" the principality quickly replies. "I do not believe that God would have created this family if She did not mean for them to love one another. And I think parental affection is a fitting metaphor for God's love of everyone. By loving his daughter, the father will come to better understand God's love for him."
"What will you do to them?" I ask after trying to understand the other's reasoning.
"A pair of small blessings," says the principality. "Something to keep the father safe at work, and the daughter in her pursuits."
"And what shall I do?"
"I don't know," they admit with some disappointment. "I am still getting used to the idea of having a herald. I need to come up with tasks that are suitable for you."
"Then I will continue to watch and learn for now."
The blessings are actually miracles. The principality saves the father from being injured at work. He adds more money to the daughter's purse when she goes to the market to purchase food. The small family has a celebratory feast that night in recognition of the father's escape from harm.
"Now I just need to write up my report for the miracles," the principality says when our observations are complete.
"Let me!" I volunteer, eager to be of use. "Spreading news is my purpose. I am sure that I will be excellent at report writing."
The principality acquiesces without protest, and I make short work of it.
Later, they read through the report before I take it to Heaven and praise me for my eloquence. They offer only a few suggestions, not really improvements but adjustments to keep the tone in line with previous reports.
"Let me change a few things," I say, already rewriting bits to match the principality's typical humility.
"Salindriphale, that is perfect!" they say when they read it a second time and I nearly glow from the commendation.
Full of satisfaction in my work, I fly to Heaven to deliver the report. I leave it in the appropriate bin outside Gabriel's office. As I turn to leave, I am hailed by a familiar voice.
It is Ashbethal, another herald. We greet each other warmly and ask about each other's current assignments. We spare no details in describing what we have been up to, because sharing news is what heralds do.
"Earth!" they exclaim with wide eyes when they hear that I now work for the Principality of Earth. "Oh, do be careful! I hear that there are demons and curses and all manner of dangers in that place."
"I have seen none of that," I say, feeling brave. "The principality is powerful and will not let me come to harm. Plus I also know how to protect myself." To prove my point, I brandish a holy dagger with some ferocity.
"Demons can take many forms," my friend warns me. "Have you never heard of the Serpent of Eden?"
"Of course I have!" I would be quite stupid if I had never heard of it. "But I know how to deal with a demon." With a few deft flicks of my wrist, my blessed blade dispatches the imaginary demon back to the depths of Hell. "Not that it will come to that," I add. "My principality would surely smite any demon that might come near."
My friend is impressed and congratulates me on my assignment before we part ways.
The principality and I work to find our rhythm. They perform miracles and I document them. Paperwork is quite meditative and pleasing to me, a natural task for a herald. The principality always reviews my work before I hand it in, making minor adjustments to make themself less impressive. "The point of the reports," they stress, "is to show the humans to advantage, not me. Show how deserving they are, how well they do when given encouragement, how the smallest aid can have such great effect."
I bow and make the recommended changes even though I do not agree with them. Humanity - indeed everything that God has created - is good, but humans cannot compare to angels. Still, I take the modified report in hand and dash away to Heaven.
We remain a little clumsy with each other. I do not quite understand humans, which means that I do not quite understand the principality's motivations. There are levels of nuance I do not perceive. But nevermind, the principality always explains whether I need it or not, and those explanations make their way into my reports. But I do wish that they do not have to explain the same thing multiple times. I am smart enough to recognize that I should understand better than I do.
We do not remain in a single location. After performing a few miracles, the principality likes to move before anyone figures out that we are angels. This sometimes means that they move to a new settlement while I am delivering a report to Heaven so that I must search for them when I return to Earth. Thankfully as a herald, I am naturally able to find who I am looking for.
When I finally spot them, it is from afar. I watch them interact with a human as I approach. The human is entirely too irreverent, in my opinion, standing far too close, leaning forward to whisper in their ear and tug on their sleeve. Of course, the human does not realize that he is speaking with an angel but I wish my principality held themself more aloof.
"Aziraphale!" I say to announce myself, omitting their title out of deference to their wishes.
The principality jerks to face me, their face turns a darker shade, and their mouth opens and closes noiselessly. Their companion looks at me with deeply suspicious yellow eyes.
I may be relatively new to this planet, yet I can recognize that this other creature is not a human like I thought!
"Demon!" I say. I am not a warrior so my instinct is to freeze or flee but I force my feet to advance closer. If I abandon the principality now, I will never overcome my shame.
The foul beast hisses in response and coils upon itself as if to strike but the principality steps in front of it.
"Now, Salindriphale, now, Crawly," they placate, "there is no need for conflict."
I start to circle the principality and think of my holy dagger, the one I have shown to Ashbethal. It is not so grand as a flaming sword, but its effect on a demon is just as final.
"Salindriphale!" repeats the principality in agitation when I do not retreat, "stand down. You are a herald, not a soldier."
The demon behind them jostles their shoulder to dart past them and I fear for the worst. I lunge forward, pulling my dagger from the celestial plane.
It all happens so fast. Far too fast.
The principality steps in front of the demon, their arms stretched out in protection just as my hand grips the now solid hilt of the dagger. The principality gasps in pain at the dagger materialized in their abdomen. We both look at each other in shock.
"Aziraphale?" The demon breathes in worry as it realizes what has happened. It is no longer snarling. It grabs the principality's shoulders and holds them upright as they begin to sag.
"I'm all right," the principality says hoarsely. "Just a little blood."
I look down. A stream of red is flowing out of the wound, soaking into their robes.
Before I can do anything, a clawed hand clamps around my own, holding the dagger tight in my grasp.
"Whatever you do, don't release that dagger," threatens the demon. "Not until he's ready."
"Who?" It's a stupid question, but genders are confusing and there is not a human around to be ready or not.
"Aziraphale!" The beast roars at me. "Not until Aziraphale is ready."
"Crawly, dear boy, you are shouting in my ear," the principality says. Even now with a blade embedded in their corporation, they are gentle. They are also pale and growing paler.
The demon calms itself at those words. "Can you heal yourself?" it asks.
The principality looks at me and nods. "Just go slowly. I don't think I will be able to handle all of it at once."
The two share a glance downward and the principality's face loses all color.
"That's a lot of blood," they gulp and start to sway on their feet.
The demon strengthens its hold on the principality. "Don't look down," it hisses then fails to take its own advice. "That is a lot of blood," it blanches. "Idiot must've hit an artery. We don't have much time before your corporation bleeds out. Tell me you're ready, Zira."
The principality puts a hand near the wound and grimaces. When the three of us see the area start to glow, the demon slowly pulls my hand away. I want to fight it - it is a demon after all - but I don't think it is trying to harm the principality further. After a few inches, the creature abandons the dagger completely and moves to fully support the principality. It whispers what passes among angels for comforting encouragement; who knows what it means among demons?
At last the dagger is free. I release it and it vanishes from the earthly plane. The principality's healing miracle lasts a little longer, then the golden light fades and they lean back, resting limply against the demon.
"There, there, Zira," the demon tuts and lowers them both to the ground, into a puddle of blood. "No messy discorporation, no blasted paperwork."
The principality is healed, but they look unwell, glassy-eyed. In fact, those eyes are dropping shut. "I think I need a nap," they say.
"No," warns the demon, "not out here in the open." It taps the principality on their cheeks and I take umbridge on their behalf.
"Do not you dare touch them, foul beast!" I say.
The demon glares at me with its hateful, yellow eyes. "I'm not the one who stabbed him! Idiot! Did Gabriel send you down here to get him killed?"
I pull out my wings and look imposing. "I was sent to assist the Principality of Earth. Getting him killed is your job."
"Then we're both rubbish at what we do," it growled back at me. "Killing your boss, d'you think you can Fall for that?"
"I didn't kill them!" I protest. The thought of what I have done, how it was my blade guided by my hand, it makes me queasy. "Principality Aziraphale is alive and well -"
"No thanks to you!"
"Crawly," the principality says weakly. "Let it be. Just get me back to my rooms so I can rest."
The demon hisses at both of us but stops arguing. It places one of its shoulders under the principality's arms, heaves them to their feet, and miracles their robes clean and whole. Then it turns to me. "Lend a hand, idiot," it commands. "Help him walk."
After a brief pantomime, I understand what is being asked and shoulder the principality's other side so that they stand unsteadily between us. We three take a few tentative steps and I adjust my pace to better match what the principality can do.
We soon enter a settlement that is new to me and I have no idea where the principality has secured lodgings. But we walk through the narrow alleys made narrower still by the fact that three of us are walking abreast and they provide occasional direction. At last, the principality indicates a door and I open it. Inside is a modestly furnished dwelling.
"You can leave me here, Crawly," they say to the demon. "I just need to lie down and sleep for a while."
"I'm not leaving you alone with that stab-happy fool," it growls back. "You fall asleep around them, you may never wake up."
"Nonsense, Crawly," they gently chide. Too gently, in my opinion. "Salindriphale meant no harm to me, isn't that right?" they ask.
"Of course not!" I aver. "It was an accident."
The demon does this weird thing with its eyes to convey its disbelief.
"Crawly, don't be such a mother hen. I'll see you again soon, dear boy," the principality says and slips off its shoulder, transferring all of their weight onto me.
Thankfully, I am already tense from being around the infernal creature so I do not drop them. I pull them into the front room and push the door shut. It stops just a few inches shy of closing; the wretched demon has wedged its foot in the way.
"I won't be far, stupid angel, so watch yourself," the demon threatens me then backs away.
I close the door with a slam then lead the principality to a low couch. They are asleep before I lay them down.
The principality sleeps to recover from all the miraculous energy they expended to heal their injury. I should be able to fly back to Heaven for a quick report on what has happened, but I do not want to leave the principality alone and defenseless while a demon is very deliberately lurking nearby. So I sit and pace and stare and think.
I have attacked another angel. While the angel has survived, it is no thanks to me for stabbing them in the first place. And this is not just any angel, but the principality I have been assigned to support. How is injuring them helpful? The archangel cannot have expected me to do this when they gave me this assignment!
I would feel much better if this was the demon's fault.
The sun sets and rises again, and I burn with doubt. Angels should not doubt; that is work for demons. Likewise, it should be demons who attack angels. But the demon did not attack me; I attacked it. I tried to attack it after the principality showed no fear of it, no sign of perceived threat. And instead of defeating a demon, I nearly discorporated another angel.
I pull out a scroll and quill, and begin my final report as herald to the principality.
On the morning of the third day, there is a noise at the door. I answer it with the intention of sending away whoever might disturb the principality's rest. I open the door by the smallest fraction and the demon slithers in before I can stop it. By the time the door is shut and locked, the demon is already in the next room and hovering over the sleeping principality.
"Get away from them!" I shout, then remember to keep quiet. "Go away, demon."
"He's still sleeping," the demon grunts, completely ignoring me. "Good. That means he hasn't sent a report Upstairs yet. We need to get our stories straight first."
"Demon," I say firmly, "get thee behind me!" I don't raise my voice but I enunciate clearly.
It turns its cursed eyes to me. "That's probably the safest place where you're concerned."
I move to throw it out bodily but the principality stirs, drawing all our attention. For the next quarter hour, the demon and I hover over the waking angel. We ease them into a seated position and comment on how much healthier they look now.
I ask if they need anything. Before the principality can answer, the demon cuts in, "Angel, we need to talk."
"What's the problem, dear boy?" Principality Aziraphale asks. Apparently, they do not need anything right now.
"Your miracle was a bit much," the demon said, making itself comfortable on the couch like a stray. "My side caught wind of it and brought me down for questioning. That much healing all at once - either there was a tremendous, bloody battle or someone very important nearly got killed, so naturally Hell wanted to know what was going on. And while I was able to invent a very simple and satisfactory explanation, they kept me there for a few days and I only just now got topside. I wanted to make sure we all agree on what happened before you turn in your report - provided you haven't already - in case our sides ever compare notes."
"What did you tell them, dear boy?" the principality asks for both of us.
The demon shrugged casually. "That I did it. Said I had ambushed two feather brains, wrestled the weapon from the really stupid one of them and used it to stab the really unlucky one. Then the dagger got stuck so I had to run off before the first one could cause more trouble."
The principality gasps. "What? Why would you do that, Crawly?"
The demon does that dismissive gesture with its eyes again. "I haven't met my quotas recently, not evil enough to keep Downstairs happy. Hell was starting to get a little impatient with me. Don't worry, I'm back in their good books now - we, bad books, whatever. I got a commendation for this; the celebration was still going strong when I snuck away. But I need you to tell the same story in your reports Upstairs, so Hell doesn't figure unishout I've been lying to it and Heaven doesn't cast out your shadow for attacking you."
"Of course," the principality agrees after a moment's pause.
"No!" I cry. "Principality, you cannot lie to Heaven! I was the one who did this to you. I am the one who deserves to be punished."
The principality looks at both of us. I watch as their features grow weary, as if they are not fully recovered. I wait for them to rebuff the demon. Instead, the principality breathes a heavy sigh. "Salindriphale, may I see your report, please."
In confusion, I give them my report as well as my letter of resignation, and sit in silence as they read. "We will need to rewrite this, all of it," they say when they reach the end. "Crawly is right. If he's already taken credit for the accident, it won't do for me to turn in anything contradictory."
I am flabbergasted.
"But Heaven will know if we attempt to deceive them," I point out.
There is a weighty silence.
"Crawly," they say at last, "I need to have a few private words with Salindriphale."
The demon isn't expecting that. "Angel," it hisses.
"Why don't you head to the market and I'll meet you there for breakfast," they offer. "After healing and sleeping, I could use a good meal."
The demon doesn't want to go, but it does nonetheless.
Once we are alone again, the principality finally speaks to me. "No, Salindriphale, Heaven will not find out if we do not tell them," they say like someone who has experience on the topic. "And I must insist that you do not tell them."
I cannot understand.
"My dear," they saw patiently, "I must remind you that I was there; I was stabbed; I know what happened and I forgive you. You did not intend to do harm."
"Intentional or not, I did do that," I say. "I nearly discorporated you."
"And I forgive you," they say again. "And if I shall not hold it against you, what right do you have to dwell on it? I can feel your guilt radiating from your words, Salindriphale. It was an accident, a mistake of a heated moment, and I have already recovered from it. I do not know what Heaven would do to you officially, nor what other angels would do to you unofficially, but I do not wish for you to continue to suffer over such a foolish mistake."
I want to protest but before I can marshal my argument, they add, "And there is Crawly to consider as well."
"Crawly is a demon," I spit out the words with natural venom.
"Yes, Crawly is a demon," they agree, "but before he became a demon, he was an angel like you and I."
There is a pensive pause and in it I wonder what Crawly has done to deserve its fate, if the impetus was as unintentional as what I have just done. As that possibility stinks in, I feel a spark of sympathy for the demon. Maybe it never intended to be cast out? And if this little subterfuge can save us both, it is harder to resist.
"Crawly is a demon, but I do not think he is evil," they continue. "He is curious and mischievous and cynical and far too annoying at times, but he does not want to cause true suffering. His masters in Hell, on the other hand, expect him to inflict injury and pain upon this world, and he will be punished if he does not comply. But if he tells his masters that he was the one who stabbed me, they will favor him. He will have met some arbitrary quota of chaos and destruction and thus will not be required to do anything actually evil. Do you see: by letting him take responsibility for this accident, you are saving Crawly and whoever else he would have been forced to harm."
I do see, but it is hard to keep it in focus. "But Heaven -" I begin.
"If Heaven already knew what happened, do you think you would still be here unmolested?" the principality asks gently. "Heaven will know what we tell them, which is why you need to rewrite this," they say, indicating the report, "and destroy this," they say, indicating my resignation.
I want to obey, I do. But I know what really happened and I always will.
"I must resign, Principality," I tell them. "You may have forgiven me, but my faith in myself is shaken. I have had three days to think of this while you slept. I am resigning. I do not understand this world, not like Heaven. I do not think I ever will. You are patient with me, Principality, but I am reckless. And if I do not harm you again, I fear I will still expose you to harm from others."
"Salindriphale," they protest, "my dear, you are too hard on yourself. You must not let this one incident define your existence. Even if you let Crawly claim responsibility for the unfortunate incident, if you still resign, what will Gabriel think?"
If the archangel thinks me foolish and unworthy, it will be only a small portion of what I deserve but I keep my thoughts to myself, pressing my lips into a thin, uncompromising line. I am determined to resign, and will suffer whatever just punishment comes my way. I wait for the principality to accept this.
"If you must resign," they capitulate, realizing that I shall not be swayed in this, "at least let us pretend that Crowley was the one who did the deed. It will give him some honor in Hell, and will spare you at the same time. Let us salvage what we can from this. You didn't mean for this to happen, my dear. Heaven is very good, and full of love, yet it is not very forgiving of mistakes."
They squeeze my hands for good measure. I have seen them do this gesture with humans many times, and they have explained that it is intended to give comfort. Now, at last, I understand that.
"And I know you are clever enough to rewrite both the report and your letter without explicitly lying and yet still matching Crowley's version of events," they smile at me.
I frown. I would have to be very clever indeed, but I can see how it could be done.
"But I will know," I say mournfully. "I will always know what happened. Whatever I write, I will always know the truth. I will always know that I willingly deceived Heaven and that my motivations were fear and shame. I do not know if I can bear that burden."
When demons were first cast out for their rebellion, the memory of the fallen was struck from our minds. It was intended to be merciful, to give us peace, and it did. If only the principality could do the same for me now!
"If only I could forget what I have done," I say, thinking of that blessed memory loss.
They look at me, sad and commanding, realizing better than I what I am asking. "Write the report. Write your letter. And let me bear the burden of the truth."
I bow my head in acceptance. "As you wish," I say. "I will rewrite everything to back the demon's claim. Let me get to work and I will let you review everything before, before I go."
The principality gives my hands another squeeze. "Thank you, my dear."
"No, Principality, thank you."
Archangel Gabriel looks up from the scroll on their desk. They are clearly displeased. "Salindriphale, may I remind you that you're an angel? We don't actually resign."
"Principality Aziraphale has already attempted to dissuade me, and failed," I say. "I do not feel that I am suited for Earth assignments. When I saw the demon, I panicked and drew my dagger. Had I obeyed the principality and kept calm, none of this would have come to pass. The demon would not have grabbed the dagger, and Principality Aziraphale would not have been stabbed! While it was not my intention to hurt them, it was my negligence that caused their injury. I would feel better to stay in Heaven where my lack of experience will not put others at risk."
"I don't understand how Aziraphale got into this situation," the archangel complains. "Why didn't they smite the demon as soon as it appeared?"
"It was not the principality's fault," I try to explain, but everything happened so quickly that the details are blurred in my memories. Unfortunately, the archangel will come to their own conclusions.
"Thank you, Salindriphale," they say curtly. "As Aziraphale has already accepted your resignation, I have no choice but to do the same. You are released from your responsibilities to them and Earth. Go in peace."
I bow and depart.
This was a bit of Zira intentionally going against Heaven in a small way. He's been around long enough to see more than black and white. He's still good, still acting with better intentions, but it's getting a little gray. It's also a small precursor to the eventual Arrangement in which the angel must figure out a way to do morally dark things, or at least convince humans to do them, partly to spare Crowley from having to do bad things (which is a much better interpretation than just being too lazy to travel).
And! Getting another angel to quit their assigned role is one more reason for Gabriel to dislike Aziraphale.
Let me know what you think. Or keep lurking safely.