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A Tree Full of Monkeys

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Many people meeting the King of Hell for the first time, formed three distinct impressions: that he was British (he never had been, if anything he'd been English at heart), that he was intelligent (he was, even though sometimes he could be so, so stupid), and that he was gayer than a tree full of monkeys on nitrous oxide (he wasn't, he would still have to make an effort for that).

 

Many people and other entities also thought that he had once been human and it had taken a bit of work to create the illusion that he, indeed, once had been. Luckily for him demons really are stupid and their paranoia can be used against them.

 

Once upon a time – not too long ago, actually – he had been an angel, though. He hadn't so much as fallen or sauntered vaguely downwards as taken a conscious step into the only direction that allowed him to feel like he was doing something.

 

There is an odd saying that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. It isn't. Speaking literally it is paved with door-to-door salesmen. Speaking metaphorically it is paved with selfish desires and actions.

 

Everyone thought he was a bastard. He was. Once he'd been just enough of one to be worth liking, but life and the universe and everything he had ever believed in had taken care of the worth-liking-part. They hadn't taken care of much else. So if they were bastards to him he'd show them just how much of a bastard he could be. Mostly, though, he was just a desperate man-shaped-being.

 

No one remembered the real Crowley. Except for him. He remembered every little detail. From the stylish sunglasses, even worn at night, to the leather boots that presumably were made of snake skin. He remembered. Especially the burned out corpse on the floor of a bookshop. A sacrifice for a friend.

 

The angels came one day to take care of a rogue element. They would have been successful if not for the one factor they didn't factor into their assault. Couldn't factor, because, you see, most angels are not capable of factoring love. They don't understand it. So they didn't expect a demon to step in front of an angel to protect him.

 

After that he doesn't remember much. He came to himself kneeling on the floor, cradling a head with black hair in his hands and eight scorchmarks of wings decorating the books on the walls. There was a sword next to him, still hot enough to glim.

 

For a while he used to have hope. Because nothing was finite in this universe and the death of a corporeal body did not mean the death of the incorporeal. He had studied every book available to him and when that hadn't been enough he had decided to take a more hands on approach.

 

The most sensible thing, after all, was to look for a missing demon in the place you expected a demon to be. There hadn't been any traces. None at all and that was the part that was unsettling. He had looked and had looked deeply into the depths of Hell and never quite looked back.

 

When hell hadn't gotten any answers he had sought them in another place. A place where monsters were supposed to go after their death. It hadn't yielded any answers either.

 

If along the way he had lost any scruples he had ever had and discovered how disturbingly good he was at not being good, well, it didn't matter, did it? After all who would know? Who was left to care? There was only one person who would have truly cared, who he would have gladly called his brother.

 

Hope was dwindling away into non-existence and one day he woke up and there wasn't much left of the person he had once been. He was Crowley, the King of Hell and the Crossroads and no one remembered the person he had been before either. He hardly ever did, too.

 

Then all the angels fell.

 

A small spark ignited in his mind. If the selfish decisions made out of love by an angel could turn said angel into the ruler of Hell, then what would the selfless sacrifice out of love turn a demon into?

 

The King of Hell who wasn't Crowley, but who still remembered the real one, coughed out a laugh and thought to himself: Maybe, maybe I've been looking in all the wrong places.