You surround yourself with good people. That’s what you do. You find someone better than you because then, when you fail, you have to deal with their disappointment. And that’s what keeps you true. —Being Human (Season 3)
Aziraphale had tried to explain it to him once. The whole point, he’d said - this was somewhere around 1020, when they’d first reached their little Arrangement - the whole point was that when a human was good or bad it was because they wanted to be. Whereas people like Crowley and, of course, himself, were set in their ways right from the start. People couldn’t become truly holy, he said, unless they also had the opportunity to be definitively wicked.
Crowley had thought about this for some time and, around 1203, had said, Hang on, that only works, right, it you start everyone off equal, okay? You can’t start someone off in a muddy shack in the middle of a war zone and expect them to do as well as someone born in a castle.
Ah, Aziraphale had said, that’s the good bit. The lower you start, the more opportunities you have.
Crowley had said, That’s lunatic.
No, said Aziraphale, it’s ineffable.
Aziraphale. The Enemy, of course. But an enemy for six thousand years now, which made him sort of a friend.
“At first, Morevna had volunteers. People who wanted to protect their own as she did. She taught them, and they fought beside her to extract humans from the control of demons. And then—she began to make deals. She acquired a great deal of power over the years, a great deal of magic, and she would offer services or gifts in exchange for servitude. Some wanted power, some were afraid of death, some wanted loved ones protected.”
“Is it how she got you? Was there someone you needed to protect?” Her dark eyes were guileless, still wide, and saw far too much.
“Yes. There was—someone I cared for, someone I knew would die without otherworldly intervention. I prayed to God, but it was Morevna who answered. Mikhail Sergeivich Koltov, born in St. Petersburg 1879. Died in a snowy ditch 1918. I was the last Deathless she created. She’s gone now—leaving only to keep the rules she set.”
She made a small, distressed sound at the back of her throat. Her thumb swept over the curve of his bone, as if to soothe away an old ache he didn’t feel anymore. His fingers tightened over her wrist, and he was nearly surprised by his own reluctancy to release her.