“Sorry, gentleman. I’m just not feeling particular talkative.”
Crowley watched the double set of boots pace around the edge of the devil's trap through his hair. From his position bound and bloodied against a metal chair, there was little room to crane his neck and look at anything else. By now, he had memorized every crack in the floor.
One of his captors- a man with long legs- tutted. “After we spent all of two days together? C’mon, at least give us a name.”
The first thing they had done was stomp on Crowley's glasses. Then ring on his finger had been pocketed. Then his hair was haphazardly clipped. All presumably just to rile him up. Not knowing that forcing him to miss his dinner reservations had already sealed his lips.
Needless to say, Crowley wasn't feeling any more generous when they moved onto torture.
Crowley rolled his neck. The satisfying pop offered a semblance of relief from his pain. Open wounds- inflicted by a knife only heaven’s side could have created- decorated the spaces between his ribs. Blood kept Crowley’s hair slicked down better than the gel he had sweated off had.
“Anthony J. Crowley,” he rasped, stretching against his chains.
Crowley had given his name away freely in the past. Hell had far simpler means of locating him than by word of mouth. After all, two flannel-wearing loons had been able to pull him from his car and stuff him into a trunk. A little crude for even hell, Crowley had figured, but it was crude for hell to work with humans?
Then again, hell didn't have holy blades to spare.
Something akin to amusement passed between his two captors. “Crowley?” the other man, the more squared of the two, scoffed. “Can’t you get in trouble for that sort of thing?”
Crowley licked his cracked lips. “I’ve changed my name a few times over six thousand years. No one important cares.” He had kept the Anthony bit from Aziraphale for four hundred years out of fear of disapproval. Crowley owed nothing to two judgemental men in a fucking basement.
The tall man cleared his throat. “Anything else you want to tell us, Anthony?”
“It’s Crowley to you,” Crowley said, inspecting the trapping circle. He had an excellent view of the symbols underfoot. A bead of sweat traced the line of his cheekbone. “If you want to call me Anthony, buy me a drink first.”
“Maybe a drink will make him talk, Sam,” the squared man said coyly.
“I think you’re right, Dean.”
Crowley’s captors revealed their names like a concealed gun. Logically, that signaled that they had some weight to them. Crowley, though he knew a threat when he heard one, couldn’t place a name to save his life. Or his evening with Aziraphale.
He was aware of the angrier captor, Dean, yanking his head forward by his hair. Much to Crowley’s annoyance, it remussed what blood had kept down. Dean brought his face down over a bucket of crystalline water. Water that smelled like an angel’s tears.
“Holy water?” Crowley sneered despite himself. “You won’t get anything out of me if I’m a puddle of goo.”
“None of our kinder tactics loosened your tongue,” Dean grunted.
“Hm.” Crowley stared down at his reflection- the gaunt face of certain death stared back at him. He would have to come up with something clever if he wanted to see what he fought for again.
“Last chance,” Sam warned.
“My assssociates won’t be too keen on this, you know.”
“We can deal with the real Crowley’s tantrum later," Sam said. "We have in the past.”
“‘Real Crowley?’” Crowley echoed. “Mate, I'm the only bloody Crowley there is."
"Oh, surely you're not stupid enough to not know the king of hell," Dean sneered. "The dumbass act only goes so far, buddy."
"I'm well acquainted with Sssatan, but I didn't think we'd be ssharing a name."
Dean's grip on his hair slackened for a heartbeat. "He's delusional. Let's just put him down so I can keep his car."
"I want to at least know who he works for," Sam said. He set the bucket down at the edge of the circle, just far away enough that Crowley couldn't kick it over. "He might give us a lead on the kid."
"That'll be a freebie," Crowley sneered. "I work for mysself. No side but my own, boys."
Sam muttered something to Dean too quietly to hear. Their feet and legs twitched as hushed conversation passed between them. Overhead, the single fluorescent light bulb fizzled.
"Oh, you're in for it now," Crowley said, and the door burst open.
Aziraphale charged blindly with the malpractice of a soldier charged with desertion. Even yet, he swung his sword with enough resolve to send Crowley's captors crashing against a wall. "You fiendish Americans!" Aziraphale cried. A halo of yellow light from the hall spilled out behind him. "Unhand him at once!"
Crowley smiled, unable to hold back a happy hiss. "Right here, angel."
Aziraphale rushed to him, hands combing Crowley's hair out of his eyes with his steady fingers. The ire in his eyes burned hot enough to chill Crowley, but he knew it was directed at the men who had inflicted his wounds.
"I'm fine now, angel," Crowley reassured. He wanted it to prolong Aziraphale’s relief. "I'm fine."
Crowley was freed from his restraints by the flick of a sword. He fell gracelessly forward into his angel's arms, tattered dress shirt drifting behind him like bat wings. Aziraphale's lip trembled as he brought their foreheads together. It was impossible for him not to feel the way Crowley winced.
Inevitably, Sam and Dean recovered and found their way to their feat. Dean brandished his own holy blade fiercely. "You didn't tell us your associate was one of those winged dicks!"
Aziraphale turned upon them with all the wrath of an avenging angel. A ghastly offended angel. "Excuse you, sir!" he exclaimed. "You kidnap my demon, torture him, and then go around demanding answers! Do you have any idea how rude that is?"
My demon. Crowley felt a twinge of satisfaction. Bewilderment appeared so similarly on Sam and Dean that he assumed them brothers. "Let's just get out of here, angel. I want to bloody sleep."
"No until they apologize for torturing you!" Aziraphale's gesture wildly with his sword, cutting the air and gloom of the basement with the crackle of fire. The paint of the devil's trap beneath his feet was wise enough to chip.
"Angel with a flaming sword…" Sam's eyes searched the angel before him with startled curiosity. "Aziraphale?"
Aziraphale turned his nose to the air. In another dimension, his wings had flared up. "And you are?"
"The Winchesters," Dean grunted, hand still clenched around his blade. Crowley couldn't blame him. Surely angels rescuing demons wasn't an everyday occurrence for them
"Sam and Dean," Sam clarified.
"Well, Dean Wichester," Aziraphale said to Sam, "if it's all the same to you, Crowley and I will be leaving. After that apology"
Pain shot through Crowley's limbs as he attempted to stand. His muscles seized, sending him stumbling against Aziraphale. Aziraphale jumped in alarm, dropping his sword to the ground to catch crowley. They fell together to their knees.
"Don't you move!" Aziraphale cried, barbed fury lashing out at the Winchester brothers. He cradled Crowley closely.
Crowley wheezed in response. Blood dribbled down his lips. "Sssorry, love. Headrush."
"You're not going anywhere until you tell us why an angel and a demon would work together," Dean warned.
Aziraphale was too preoccupied keeping Crowley still and glaring at Dean to reach for his sword. "How is that any of your business?"
"Dean," Sam said, "Let's just let them go."
Dean looked at his brother with indignant disbelief. "I told you we can't let every case that makes your heart bleed off the hook, or we'll be out of a career."
"I really don't think these two are much of a threat unless we continue to piss them off," Sam insisted.
Crowley was blearily aware of a new figure filling in the doorway. "What's going on in here? I can hear you from the-"
"Castiel?" Aziraphale whispered.
An unfamiliar angel looked from Crowley, to the Winchesters, to the broken devil's trap, and then back to Crowley. "Aziraphale of the East Gate?"
Ah, so Crowley had been right about heaven's involvement.
"Tell me… Tell me these aren't humans you came to me for advice about," Aziraphale whispered.
"Tell me how I didn't notice that your shop smelled of sulphur," Castiel countered softly.
"You two know each other?" Dean's indignance rose enough to bring him a few steps closer. Yet a single look from Castiel was enough to make him halt.
Aziraphale did not miss the detail. He pressed Crowley against his chest. Together they were a bundle wreaking of sulphur, dust, and blood. "That isn't the human you…"
Castiel drew in a slow breath. "This has all just been a simple misunderstanding."
"Simple misunderstanding?" It was Aziraphale's turn to be indignant. By the Almighty, Crowley had never seen Aziraphale lose his temper so many times in the same century. "Castiel, if Crowley and I are discorporated, it's over for us! We turned against heaven and hell. Being found is- is-"
Aziraphale lost himself, staring at the bucket of holy water. He could have easily knocked it over by mistake in the kerfuffle.
"Look," Sam said, "I understand if you don't want to be involved in it, but heaven and hell are looking for the Antichrist. We thought your... friend might have know where he was."
"That's- that what the hell all of this was about?" Crowley sat up against Aziraphale. Free from the trapping circle, his wounds had begun to pull themselves closed like invisible seamwork. "He was found a year ago when Armageddon was wished away!"
Disbelief passed from Dean to Sam, then over to Castiel. The angel kept his face painfully neutral as both of then turned to him for confirmation.
"I haven't had connections to other angels in some time…" Castiel admitted. "Aziraphale and I met six months ago, but he never said…"
"I thought you knew!"
"A year of wasted stress…" Dan Sam pinched the bridge of his nose. "I need a drink."
"So you killed it?" Dean asked, looking to be in much of the same state.
Crowley licked his stained teeth. "You could say that. We didn't really have to do much of anything ourselves."
Dean shoved his blade into the loop of his belt with excessive force. So much for composure. "Then who the hell did?" he snapped.
"I mean, given how many hunters there are, us stopping every disaster that conveniently falls in America is sort of… unrealistic," Sam said.
Aziraphale let out a deep breath, finally able to return his attention to Crowley. His eyes surveyed the pinkened scars healing over his body and landed on his swollen ring finger.
"That doesn't explain why these two are still teamed up!"
"Why don't we ask nicely. Maybe start by letting them out of our dungeon!"
"Can you give him his wedding ring back?"
Sam and Dean's mouths remained open, words dying in their throats. Aziraphale stared at them expectantly. "His wedding ring. Can you give it back?" he repeated. "I assume you took it off when you broke his fingers."
"We did that before, actually," Dean muttered, obviously looking at the golden ring Aziraphale wore. His trance was broken by a cough from Castiel. Dean fished through his pockets to and eventually produced a golden ring.
While his brother hesitantly passed the ring to Aziraphale, Sam moved the bucket of holy water away from where he cradled Crowley. Crowley offered Dean a smug curl of his lip as he backed away.
Aziraphale and Crowley found their feet together. If Crowley looped his arm around Aziraphale’s shoulders, it may have been more petty than necessary. “Think our reservations at the Russel are still open?”
Aziraphale gazed at him with a shade of naked affection. Crowley basked under his warmth. “It might take a bit of a miracle given we’d be two days late,” Aziraphale teased.
“I’m sorry about all of this,” Sam said, turning his brother’s head. “Uh, not much to do to make up for it, but we promise not to bother you again.”
“I should hope so,” Aziraphale said, without a doubt because he hadn’t noticed that one of Crowley’s molars was sitting by Castiel’s feet.
Sam swatted his brother’s arm. “Isn’t that right, Dean?”
Dean muttered something about demons and winged dicks. Crossing his arms, he barley made eye contact with either of them. Crowley hoped the shame came from realizing he had kidnapped a somewhat innocent demon on his way to dinner with his husband. “Sorry,” he eventually grumbled. “We usually don’t leave America if that’s... anything."
“Aziraphale usually doesn’t leave London, either,” Castiel said. He took the empty space beside Dean, and suddenly, Crowley’s former captor appeared significantly more apologetic. “He runs a lovely book shop.”
“Have a pet hellhound to guard it?” Dean asked dryly.
“Well, no, but a former hellhound was the ring bearer at our wedding,” Aziraphale chimed. Both brothers blanched.
“The plants had to sit in the back to know their place,” Crowley added. He leaned over and passed the fallen sword to his husband, knowing that they would have to make a stop at a post office in Tadfield on their way home.
Aziraphal and Crowley happily severed themselves from the awkward tension together. If Crowley spit on the devil’s trap on the way out, Aziraphale turned a blind eye. And if they used a flaming sword to key a car or two in the garage holding the Bently, Aziraphale may have been the more petty of the two of them.