The sushi restaurant had been in business for over 30 years. They had been very successful years. The shops and businesses on each side had changed, sometimes multiple times a year. After all, London was a busy and bustling city. There was no place in the middle of London for a shop that didn’t do very well indeed.
It was a family business and the plan was that it was going to stay that way. The chef had taken over the business when his parents had retired and he’d married a very handsome sailor and adopted two children with him. Life was good.
They hadn’t changed opening hours and were always very careful to get the very best ingredients straight from the market. The only changes they had made had been subtle ones, like ordering new chairs when they became worn and adding a few more houseplants.
Mr. Aziraphale had been a frequent visitor since the day they had opened their sushi restaurant. His neat suit hadn’t changed or his blonde hair. In fact, he hadn’t aged at all.
“He’s back, is he?” his mother asked from the back, keeping a watchful eye on the rice cookers. “And you are serving him a selection of his favorites, correct?”
“Yes, mother,” the sushi chef replied, as she inspected the dish. She always did, when Mr. Aziraphale came to their restaurant. After all, it was an offering of sorts.
He didn’t know what kind of being Mr. Aziraphale was, but he was undoubtedly a benevolent one. Criminals had once showed up with guns and threats of arson and Mr. Aziraphale and his gentleman friend had simply stood up and told them to leave and never come back, and they never had.
Then Mr. Aziraphale and his stylish friend had sat back down and continued their conversation. They’d accepted the free sake his mother had poured for them with polite smiles.
The restaurant had never caught fire because a burner had malfunctioned.
A window had never been broken. The building never spray-painted.
They’d never even been robbed.
“Good,” his mother said, nodding at the plate and then at her son. “I’ve made him some tea.”
“Excellent,” he said, watching as his mother selected a very specific cup. Despite years of training, he’d never mastered the art of tea-making in the way that she had.
“Do you remember when those shady men with animals on their heads approached the children when Mr. Aziraphale was talking to your husband?” his mother asked, pouring the tea. “And the men were hit with lightning from a clear sky?”
“I do,” he said. “They turned to ash.”
“They did,” she replied, putting the kettle down. “The children were very impressed.”
“I’ll go show him to his seat,” he said. “Better not be late.”
“Indeed,” she said, watching him balance the plate and holding the teacup delicately in one hand.
After a few minutes, Mr. Aziraphale was happily eating his rolls and a deep calm had settled over the entire restaurant. Brewing arguments resolved themselves. Bottles of soy sauce and sake in the kitchen re-filled themselves. Even the pavement in front of the restaurant cleaned itself up.
By the time his gentleman friend showed up and asked for a cup of tea, all their silverware was gleaming and their candle supply bag was full to the brim.
“Let’s go to your place,” his gentleman friend was saying, leaving a sizable stack of money on top of the bill. “I found a stack of records I think you’d like at the back of a shop.”
“Did you leave them in your car overnight?” Mr. Aziraphale asked, standing up.
“No, I didn’t,” said the other one, glasses slipping down his nose to reveal snake eyes. “They are in the trunk right now.”
There was a demon in his restaurant.
Was there a protocol for this sort of thing?
Should he call a priest?
“Thank you for your hospitality,” Mr. Aziraphale said to the chef. “The food was delicious, as always.”
“Oh,” the sushi chef managed. “I’m glad you liked it. As you know, you are welcome anytime.”
“Come on, angel,” said the demon, adjusting his sunglasses and taking Mr. Aziraphale by the shoulders and pushing him towards the door. Mr. Aziraphale’s calm expression did not change much, only melted into fondness. “Let’s hurry up before you go overboard on the miracles.”
An angel among humans.
“The demon likes our sake,” his mother said as the door closed behind the pair, holding the wad of money. “He’s left us a note about it.”
“Let’s stick with this brand, then,” he said, watching the door as his mother counted the money with a pleased expression on her face and a car roared to life outside. “Better give him something he likes too if he’s going to accompany Mr. Aziraphale when he visits us.”
He wandered into the kitchen to find his fridges re-stocked and a brand-new knife set on the counter, one that was more expensive than the entire value of the restaurant combined. Pouring himself a cup of tea, he inspected the fresh fish that had appeared out of thin air as well as the stack of rice bags in a woven basket on the floor, with its tartan cloth.
He sipped his tea, breathing out.
Then he went back to making sushi, because there were always customers waiting.