Red dust fluttered down onto the creamy, white peaks, steam rising around them and carrying the scent of cinnamon-tinted chocolate. Gabriel smiled with distinct satisfaction as he placed the canister on the sideboard, then balanced his muffin and hot chocolate as he grabbed a newspaper and made his way over to his favourite comfortable window-seat . He was about to sit on the plump brown cushion when--

GABRIEL

...sometimes he hated his job.

GABRIEL, YOU ARE RUNNING LATE

No, he really hated his job.

GABRIEL, PUT THE HOT COCOA DOWN AND ATTEND TO YOUR DUTIES

With a sigh, Gabriel set down his tantalising hot chocolate, newspaper, and muffin on the table next to the window seat, hoping that somebody would adopt the sweet snack. He wouldn't be back in time to eat it before it went all cold, and that would just be a waste. Casually, Gabriel began to head towards the restroom. He was taller than most, easily over six feet in height, and had neat blonde hair and eyes the dark blue of an ocean. Knowing how to accentuate his naturally pale looks, Gabriel tended to wear darker clothes. As the restroom door swung shut behind him, he smiled at the blank mirror, where his pale countenance, black turtleneck, and dark jeans should have been reflected, and strode easily into a stall.

No, of course he wasn't a vampire. His job was more annoying than that.

Wide, feathery-looking wings seemed to materialise out of nowhere, settling easily into the black turtleneck which faded to white as Gabriel gave a wry look heavenwards and vanished into thin air as the jeans also began to fade to a much lighter colour.

Being the Archangel was one hell of a job. And not in the good way. On the other hand, at least it wasn't in the fire-and-brimstone way either.

***

Or at least, that's what Gabe thought until he materialised in Hell. God kept his thermostat around fifty degrees Farenheit. Satan kept his thermostat at around eighty-five. They would have made a horrible married couple. As it was, the Archangel wished he had worn something a bit less cozy to this meeting. On the other hand, he probably would have had time to change if SOME ONE (he gave a much more exasperated glance upward) had given him more of a warning. Yes, Gabe knew that he was supposed to be conducting a job interview today. No, these were usually not literally held in the pits of hell.

IT'S CALLED HAVING A SENSE OF HUMOUR, GABRIEL.

It was probably a bad idea to tell the Supreme Being to shut up, but Gabriel was seriously considering it as he brushed his blonde hair aside and focused those unnerving blue eyes on the being before him. Or, more appropriately, the panel of beings. Oh no. Oh nonononono. Why was he going on a panel? Gabe hated panels. He hated—well, not people, he didn't often see those—but he hated beings, and he hated social-ness, and he most of all hated to have to work in a team.

The Archangel Gabriel didn't need a team, blessit. The Archangel Gabriel could blessed well interview potential angels by himself.

But apparently the guy upstairs thought differently, so Gabe took the empty seat in the middle. On his left was a slim, red-tinged demoness who was clearly native to their current location, or at least used to a similar climate. Why was this apparent? Because the demoness was scantily clad in what appeared to be very comfortable clothes for the temperature. Unlike Gabriel, who was doing his best to not appear hot, sweaty, and generally irritated. Archangels were supposed to be mighty and imposing, not irritable and sweat-soaked. Of course, if Gabe weren't currently wearing a turtleneck in Hell, that might've been an easier act to pull off.

On Gabe's right was a thoroughly insignificant representative from Purgatory. Since the Archangel couldn't have cared less about Purgatory, that feeling extended to its representatives. What sort of job interview involved a rep from each of the three levels of the Afterlife anyway? Not that the Archangel had ever experienced any sort of interview before he got his job (he called it Divine Intervention. Nobody laughed anymore. It had been a very long couple-million-years.), but he'd also never had to sit through a panel like this for a job interview.

All three beings ignored each other pointedly as they waited for the applicant to arrive. And he finally did, coming in rather anti-climactically through the door just as a grey file appeared in front of each member of the panel. Gabe prevented himself from thinking nasty thoughts in his boss's direction, focusing instead on the file. Assuming it was the usual drivel (saving puppies, kittens, innocents, great works of the faith-of-your-choice in life, etc), the Archangel set the folder aside, instead focusing his intimidating gaze on the newcomer and trying to avoid the vaguely prickly, sweaty feeling he was starting to get all over.

The prospective angel was a bit shorter than Gabe, but still over the six-foot mark. He had red hair and a somewhat nervous grin, and blue eyes that matched Gabriel's for intensity and colour. The Archangel blinked in surprise as his somewhat-purposefully intimidating gaze was met by a curiously friendly one. Now uncomfortable, Gabe busied himself with the folder, avoiding the applicant's gaze. Not that it was easy to avoid.

Gabe was the Archangel here, right? Sitting straighter, the being straightened his turtleneck and glanced coldly at the applicant, who the folder identified as Mitchell. Once in the afterlife, nobody bothered much with surnames. They were not only cumbersome, but largely unimportant. Particularly after one had reached prospective angel status.

The demoness began with the usual queries revolving around future riches, power, rewards, et cetera, et cetera. Not even the most thick sub-being would fall for those basic traps anymore. But more than not falling for them, Mitchell answered her with a level gaze and an even more level voice. Gabe was starting to think that he may have met someone who countered his own degree of self-control and intimidation.

The representative from Purgatory was next, with a myriad of questions that didn't really pertain to anything. Again, Mitchell answered with a level gaze and a level voice. In fact, that end of the interview process ended with the Purgatory rep blathering on about some social concern or other that nobody really cared about. Lawyers ended up in Hell, and politicians in Purgatory, as the saying went.

Who ended up in Heaven? Dull people that were, quite frankly, easy to intimidate. The Virgin Mary, for example, had ended up in Heaven. Gabe had her under his heel since day one, and it no longer entertained him to appear above her regularly and boom something about a virgin birth. Since she hadn't stayed quite that pure her entire life, the appearance usually made her flush a very amusing colour, but even that annoyed Gabe after a few centuries. He needed someone else to work with, a new challenge.

The silence in the room tipped him off—it had been his turn for awhile, hadn't it? The Archangel tipped his chin up and examined Mitchell with his deep blue eyes, trying to appear as unapproachable and intimidating as possible. The applicant gave Gabe as good as he got, blue eyes meeting blue eyes. The Purgatory rep shifted uncomfortably, clearly thinking he was about to see some sort of rendition of Holy Warfare right there in the interview room. Imbecile.

"Hired," Gabe boomed in the voice he reserved for occasions like this. The demoness and Purgatory representative stared at him as though he'd grown a tail and pitchfork. Or started sweating noticeably. Had that happened already? Bugger Hell and its stupid thermostat.

Without further ado, Gabriel strode out of the interview, assuming that Mitchell would follow him. He had some hot chocolate to get back to.