(((((I highly recommend reading Romance 101: Angel Edition by RealGuitarHero93 before reading this, as it is the prequel.)))))
I used to be a hunter. In fact, my best friend Kellie and I were one of the better hunting duos of the century. Then came the time we accidentally got tangled up with the Winchesters. I mean, the case got solved, Kellie got some angel ass, and I had one hell of a wild night with Dean, so all in all it was a good experience.
Except that we got attached.
And I ended up running away from my problems into a bottle a couple nights a week.
Yes, I was very good at running away. Mind you, I much preferred to fight. As Kellie had made note of on several occasions, I'm a "shoot (or stab)-first-ask-questions-later" kind of hunter, and I always refuse to go down without a fight; I may be skinny as a rail, but I'm deceptively tough. So after our little unexpected escapade with the Winchesters in Missouri, I tried to keep on functioning like I always had before. It's not the first time you've banged a hot dude Genna, I thought every time those brilliant emerald eyes snuck their way into my mind, and it sure as hell won't be the last. Just let it go.
But it was different.
He was different.
And it scared the living shit out of me.
I managed to push on for a little while after, Kellie and I travelling down to Texas to meet up with our friend Amanda, who never failed to come across jobs for us. But after a while, the pain got to be too much. Everywhere we went, there was something that reminded me of Dean. I think the final nail in the coffin was the time we were in Detroit and I noticed a guy at the Woodward Dream Cruise in a flannel shirt eating pie on the hood of an Impala.
I loved hunting, more than anyone should. The adrenaline, the danger, the kickback of a rifle firing a rock salt round, the feeling of burying a knife hilt-deep in the chest of a demon's vessel (yeah, I know there are better ways of getting rid of demons, but we typically didn't have the time for them). But I knew as long as I was a hunter, I'd never be able to heal. No amount of whiskey or bullets would ever change that. What were the odds of running into the Winchesters again, anyway? We always seemed to be on opposite ends of the country on the rare occasions that Kellie and I made use of Dean's cell number. Besides, Dean and I both had tendencies toward boozing and picking people up, so it was probably best to stop the whole thing before it really got started. As much as I loved hunting, I wanted my heart to heal even more.
I had to quit.
And with much resistance from my best friend and hunting partner, I did.
No one ever knew, however, how I had so quickly and easily set up a new life for myself as a demonologist masquerading as a starving artist in Michigan. Which was probably for the best.
We were somewhere in Virginia, I think, when I told Kellie I had to quit. At first she had laughed, not able to imagine me willingly giving up the thrill of the fray just to get over little old Dean. But she soon realized I was serious. I think that was the first real argument we had ever had in all the years we had known each other. There was a lot of shouting, and swearing, and name-calling, before I finally slung my AC/DC messenger bag and two oversized duffle bags over my shoulder, grabbed my enormous rolling suitcase, and stormed out of the motel into the crisp autumn night.
I walked for what seemed like an eternity, past suburb entrances and gas stations, bars and motels, even a lone 24-hour diner, until I found myself on a dirt road. The night was gorgeous, despite my crippling sorrow; the air smelled of leaves and rain, the stars shone like diamonds in the pitch-black sky, and a few fireflies flickered here and there, still somehow able to cope with the weather of early October. In certain areas, the full moon was strong enough to show faint hues of orange, red, and gold amidst the grayscale of the trees in the distance.
Tears were still pouring from my eyes, blurring my vision and making the cool night breeze hurt my face. Kellie had been my best friend since we were young teenagers, and had been the only consistent presence in my life since we left southeastern Michigan to become one of the more successful hunting duos out there. But now, I was pretty sure she hated my guts. She wasn't one for holding grudges (unless you happen to be a member of law enforcement), but I'm certain she could if she wanted to, and after the fight we had I clearly saw myself as the best possible candidate. I had lost enough family for one lifetime; I didn't need to add Kellie to that list.
But quitting hunting was something I had to do.
My feet finally tired of walking, and I plopped my bags down in the middle of the intersection I had just reached. I hadn't seen a car for miles, so I sat on top of my suitcase, drying my eyes with my black fingerless fishnet gloves, each decorated by a tiny metal pentacle. I reached for my phone in the pocket of my black skinny jeans, but thought better of it and instead dried my eyes some more. I wanted to reconcile with Kellie, tell her I didn't mean those things I said, but she probably hadn't completely cooled down...and there was that part of me that was afraid the feeling wasn't mutual. Besides, she'd probably try to convince me to stay, and that could spark another nasty fight. There was no going back. But there was also no going forward; I only had about $50 in my wallet, as Kellie handled most of the money...hardly enough to start a new life.
I found myself at an impasse.
"Hello, darling. Why the long face?"
The sound of the man's voice, tinged with a Scottish accent, sent not-so-unpleasant shivers down my spine. My heart raced, and for some reason I got the feeling everything was going to be alright.
Then I realized where I was, and about a dozen red flags went up.
Which meant the man in question wasn't really a man at all. He was a demon. As I slowly raised my head to look at him, I saw that he was incredibly well-dressed: shiny black dress shoes, a tailored ebony suit above a button-up shirt of the same color, and an intricate silver and black tie. When my gaze fell upon his face, his light brown eyes flickered crimson, and a name flashed in my mind...a name I had read in an email from Sam Winchester not even a month prior.
Crowley. The King of the Crossroads.
"Ah, so you've heard of me," he said in a somewhat pleased tone, smirking slightly and taking a few steps closer to me. "What's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?"
I rose to full height, a defiant glare plastered on my face.
"Seemed like a nice night for a walk," I replied as casually as possible.
"With four bags? Hardly the type of thing one takes on a leisurely stroll."
"A girl never knows when she'll need a change of clothes," I said coldly, crossing my arms over my chest.
"Is that so?" he responded, looking me over.
I nodded, unintentionally scratching at one of the Babylon 5 patches on the sleeve of my denim jacket nervously.
"It seems to me that you're running away, love."
I was about to give him the worst verbal bitch-slap of his miserable soul-stealing existence, but then I paused and analyzed the situation. True, making a deal with a demon wasn't exactly on my bucket list, but given the circumstances it seemed pretty appealing. There was no going back without my heartache continuing; there was no going forward due to my severe lack of cash.
"Alright, so maybe I am running away," I conceded, relaxing my posture a bit.
Crowley smiled, shifting his weight slightly from one foot to the other. "From what, may I ask?"
I looked down at my scuffed-up Ozzy Osbourne-print Converse hi-tops, contemplating the best way to go about doing this. It seemed to me like I would be asking quite a lot, and I was somewhat afraid of the price I'd have to pay.
"I want to leave my life behind," I said quietly, looking at the treeline with a thousand-mile stare. "There's some things...someone...I need to forget in order to be happy again." I felt the tears returning to my eyes, and I strained to hold them in; I wasn't about to let a fucking demon see me cry, no matter how strangely attractive I found him.
Crowley blinked slowly, then rolled his eyes and scoffed. "That has to be one of the more cryptic requests I've received. What life are you leaving behind, exactly?"
"No," I growled, my eyes piercing into his. "I'm not telling you that. I'm not putting anyone on your radar. No history, no names. Just the situation. That's all you're getting without parading through my mind like a bull in a china shop."
Much to my surprise, he held up his hands and said, "I had no intention of 'parading', my dear. Whatever you desire to divulge will be information enough."
I eyed him skeptically. "Bullshit."
He chuckled. "Just talk, love."
I exhaled slowly. "Okay. Well, a little while ago my friend and I got tangled up with a few guys, and I ultimately ended up having a fling with one of them...but it turns out I got attached. Really attached. With the life I lead now, it'd be impossible to forget him, so I want out. I got into a huge argument with my friend about it, and I grabbed my bags and stormed out and...well...here we are."
We were both silent, the night filled only with the sound of crickets.
"I want a new life. I want to forget."
After a few seconds, his eyes met mine. "No."
I cocked my head and narrowed my eyes. "Pardon?"
He slipped his hands into his pockets and addressed me seriously. "A new life, I can help you with. Anywhere you want to go, just name it, I'll arrange it. However, I won't help you forget this man of yours, love. That's something you'll have to do on your own. As for your friend, well, I doubt you really want to leave them behind on such bad terms."
I gave another gradual exhale. He was right. "She's my best friend. I don't want her out of my life, nor do I want her hating me."
He gave a sympathetic smile. "I can handle that. Now, where is it you want to go?"
I sat back down on my suitcase, pondering my options. I'd always wanted to go to Ireland, or England, or anywhere in Europe really, but then I stood minimal chance of occasionally seeing the people I loved. I wanted to quit hunting, but I didn't want to abandon my friends. That left the continental United States. I could just stay in Virginia, I did love Busch Gardens after all...but the moths were the size of Hot Wheels. Werewolves I could handle; Mothra, not so much. And they just got bigger the further south you went; one time Kellie and I were in Florida and we saw a roach the size of a mouse. I wanted to be somewhere near water, but coastal states were either too cold, too far west for my liking, or had hellacious hurricane seasons. I also loved wooded areas, forests especially. Then I thought back to my childhood in Michigan. My family lived in Hamtramck, a two-square-mile town engulfed by Detroit, but they also had a small cottage up in Lexington, on a dirt road just off Lake Huron. My mother had long since moved with her boyfriend she met on RuneScape, and my father had disowned me when I told him I wanted to become a hunter. I was fairly certain, however, that my grandparents were still in Hamtramck. It would be wonderful to be with them again; some of my best memories centered around them.
"Detroit," I mumbled, still half in thought.
"Ah, Detroit Rock City," Crowley commented, more than likely in reference to the fact that I was wearing a Kiss t-shirt beneath my open jacket. He made his way over to where I sat and crouched down alongside me. "Any place in particular?"
Once or twice, Kellie and I would return to Michigan for a few months at a time. One of these times, I had the extra money and decided to take a photography course at some college in the ghetto that looked like Hogwarts. My professor was a middle-aged gentleman, but a free spirit with interests similar to mine, and we kept in touch long after the semester had ended. He had a studio that doubled as an apartment at the Russell Industrial Center, not far from the Detroit/Hamtramck border. I remembered how much I loved that building, and all the people in it: starving artists, not-so-starving artists, musicians, aspiring designers, all amiable and fun people. That was someplace I could feel at home.
"The Russell Industrial Center," I declared, a faint smirk on my lips.
Crowley's brow furrowed in confusion. "You honestly believe life as a starving artist is better than...whatever it is you do now?"
Don't get me wrong, I loved art and photography, and I was relatively good at them, but I had no intention of merely being a starving artist. I had compiled an archive of information on all sorts of demons during my career as a hunter; I sent it to Sam Winchester once, and he and Dean both agreed it held more information on certain demons than even they knew...and it just kept growing every month. I could retire from hunting and still be a demonologist, hiding away in a dusty industrial apartment with my hobbies to conceal my true occupation from those who need not know of it.
Turning to face him, I stated, "I'll manage."
"I see. How do you plan on getting from here to Detroit, pray tell?"
"Oh no you don't," I laughed sarcastically. "I see what you're trying to do, and I'm not going to play your little game, you filthy imp."
I was surprised that all he did in retaliation was glare at me.
I decided to push my luck, and elaborated, "You're trying to make me ask more of you, so that the only thing I could possibly give you in return would be my soul. I would think the King of the Crossroads would be a little less obvious with his manipulation techniques."
He sat next to me on my suitcase, and I thanked every deity that ever was (fictional or otherwise) that it was strong enough to support our combined weight; my laptop and weapons were in there.
"I'm not trying to manipulate you, darling," he soothed, reaching out and gently turning my chin towards him. "I'm merely offering my services. I won't indebt you for taking me up on an offer."
Don't believe him, you stupid shit. He's a demon. They're all liars. Sure, he's a suave fuck, but so is Joe Carroll.
Then, my best defense mechanism kicked in: smartass mode.
"Alright, fine then. You're offering me a set of wheels?"
"Any one I ask for?" I probed, arching an eyebrow doubtfully.
"Yes. Nothing is out of the question."
I leaned in close to him, no more than a mere three inches between us. "Then get me Christine."
Unwavering, he inquired, "The book or the movie incarnation?"
Giving a wry smile, I replied, "The book, of course. I want to see if you can do the impossible."
He moved so that there was barely an inch separating our faces, and looked intently into my eyes.
"Nothing is impossible with me, love," he whispered, in a ridiculously sultry tone.
I felt my temperature rise, and struggled to mask the tremor that shook my entire frame. I must not have done a very good job, because Crowley's lips twisted into a devilish smirk.
"With or without the sentience?"
"Without," I managed, still refusing to break eye contact with him. "I'd rather not have my car killing all my passengers. Or me."
"Consider it done," he breathed, fully aware of the effect it had on me.
My heart started to race. "So...what's my end of the bargain?"
He leaned to the side, and let his lips brush against my ear.
"Nothing," he whispered, tenderly kissing my ear before standing and walking a few feet away from me.
Crowley, the King of the Crossroads, had just promised me a studio in Detroit, repaired friendships, and a car that couldn't possibly exist, and said I owed him nothing in return. Nothing. Not a goddamn thing.
My mouth gaped. "Nothing? Don't bullshit me, Crowley. I can't imagine leaving here with my soul after all you're doing for me. Hell, I know I wouldn't let me leave with my soul. Nothing?"
"Well," he began, facing the opposite side of the crossroads, "nothing just yet."
I rested my chin in my hand in borderline disgust. "Out with it, demon boy."
He turned to me and explained, "I ask nothing from you at this juncture. If we are to make more deals in the future, I may not ask anything of you then either. However, one day, when you discover the thing you want the most, the deal that everyone has been tempted to make at least once in their lives...then I may ask something of you in return."
I rose to my feet and cocked my head quizzically. "Why only then?"
His expression softened, only increasing my bewilderment.
"Because," he said gently, "your wants and mine may prove to be mutually beneficial."
Somewhat perplexed, I answered, "Now look who's being cryptic."
He shrugged in concession, then took a couple steps nearer to me. "Do we have a deal?"
You only go around once, and I get to keep my soul...
"Eh, what the hell," I said, tucking my thumbs into my belt loops. "Yes, Crowley, we have a deal. So how do we seal this? Handshake? Contract? Blood sacrifice?"
He chuckled and shook his head. "No, I assure you, nothing as sordid as that is required."
"Then...how do we do this?"
"We seal it with a kiss, my dear," he replied matter-of-factly.
I huffed quietly. I should have seen that coming. The fact that I had been preventing myself from kissing him with every fibre of my being should have been a dead giveaway that something like that was going to happen. Well, there was no point in fighting it anymore.
"Alright then," I said, approaching him and placing my hands on his shoulders. "Let's do this."
As I leaned in, attempting to close the space between us, he held up a hand. "Wait."
I froze. "What?"
"I know you don't want to give me any names or history," he said, slowly lowering his hand and meeting my gaze, "but I'd very much like to know your name before the deal is made. Just your name. That's all."
My entire body broke into a cold sweat, whether from fear or nerves I couldn't say.
"Genevieve," I whispered. "Genevieve Collins."
"Genevieve," he said softly, moving his hands to rest on my waist. "That's a beautiful name."
"Crowley," I breathed, standing on my tiptoes as he bridged the gap between us.
As our lips met, I wrapped my arms around his neck and pressed my body up against his. After a moment of what seemed to be surprise, he wrapped his own arms around my waist and pulled me tighter to him. My pulse raced, and I moved a hand to toy with his soft brown hair. After a while I broke away for air, only to shock him again by moving back in for another kiss. Sure, he was a demon, but I was really enjoying this and frankly didn't want it to end.
When we broke apart again, he still held me by the waist and my hands were still on his shoulders.
"You know," he said, an amused glint in his eyes, "that second kiss was completely unnecessary."
I giggled. "I know, but that doesn't mean it wasn't enjoyable."
Suddenly, a tinny recording of "Mr. Crowley" resounded from my thigh, causing me to jump out of Crowley's embrace. Crowley's eyes widened and he choked back a laugh.
"Shut up, I really like that stupid song," I grumbled, looking at the image of a girl wearing "sexy librarian" glasses on my caller ID.
"Hey Genna. Look, I may have overreacted earlier. You don't want to have that false hope that we'll run into the boys again, I get it. If you wanna quit, I won't stop you. Just promise me you'll keep in touch?"
I felt tears in my eyes again, but this time they were tears of joy and I let them flow freely; I was so relieved that my best friend was still my best friend.
"Yeah, you're not getting rid of me that easily," I laughed, wiping my eyes with my free hand. "You know I'll be bombarding you with texts daily."
She gave a faint giggle. "I wouldn't have it any other way, babe. See you around?"
I smiled. "See you around, gorgeous."
As I hung up, Crowley tilted his head and said, "Do you have any idea how gay that sounded?"
"Look at me not giving a shit. That's just how we are."
What went on in your head?
Oh Mister Crowley
Did you talk to the dead?
Your lifestyle to me seemed so tragic
With the thrill of it all
You fooled all the people with magic
Yeah you waited on Satan's call
"What now?" I asked, pulling my phone back out of my pocket to see a name I hadn't read in ages.
Stu Roberts. My old photography professor.
"Stu?" I answered uncertainly.
"Genevieve!" he greeted happily. "I'm sorry I'm calling so late, did I wake you?"
"No, I'm just out for a walk. How've you been?"
"Oh, just fine. Hey, listen, you wouldn't happen to be looking for a studio, would you?"
"Actually, I just started looking. Why?"
"One a few doors down from mine has opened up, and I have the extra money to rent it out for the first month for you if you want it."
"Oh, thank you, that would be wonderful!" I replied in awe, before glancing up at Crowley and mouthing "How?"
"Great, I'll do that then. See you up here in a few days?"
"I'll be there," I said, hanging up.
I looked at Crowley and opened my mouth to speak, but was cut short by the sight of a blazing inferno springing up in the road a yard or so behind him. Though he was a mere silhouette against the bright orange flames, I could make out a satisfied smirk on his visage. When the flames died down, I fell to my knees in shock.
There, plain as day, stood an immaculate red and white four-door Plymouth Fury.
"You should see the surprise on your face," Crowley mused. "I made a few slight changes of course, for example she has one of those registered classic car plates so you can keep up the aesthetic and still be able to drive her legally. The radio looks exactly like one of the old ones, but there's a cassette and CD player in it. Oh, and I know you didn't want the sentience, but considering you have to practically sell your soul to get replacement parts for her, she can still repair herself. Oh, and I almost forgot..."
He stepped closer to me and handed me an envelope.
"Here are her papers."
I instantly took the papers out and rifled through them. There was no way that this car could exist. I scrutinized the registration as though my life depended on it.
The model year was, indeed, 1958.
"That's not possible," I said as if in a trance. "They didn't make four-door Furies in '58. It's impossible."
"Nothing is impossible with me, love," he said, helping me to my feet and placing the keys in my hand. "Now, get going. Detroit is a long drive from here. There's a full tank of gas and a thermos of coffee, plenty of fuel for both you and the car."
He started to back away, but I grabbed hold of his hand. He arched an eyebrow quizzically. "Am I forgetting something?"
Moving in closer to him, I looked up into his tawny eyes and said earnestly, "Thank you. For everything."
Somewhat taken aback behind that glaring confidence, he responded, "No need."
The corner of my mouth twitched.
"Nonetheless," I whispered, placing a hand on his cheek. "When the deal you mentioned before goes down, I'll gladly pay any price you ask."
With that, I placed a gracious kiss on his lips. When I stepped away, he was gone.
Walking over to the Fury and opening the driver's side rear door, I commented, "You could have at least helped me with my bags before you left."
I went to pick up my bags from the middle of the intersection, only to discover I was grabbing at air. Pivoting back to the car, my hand clapped over my mouth; my duffle bags and suitcase were neatly loaded into the backseat, and my messenger bag rested upon the passenger seat with a large thermos.
Climbing into the driver's seat, I murmured, "Huh. Who knew a demon could be such a gentleman?" I turned the keys in the ignition, and the engine purred. "Oh, you are a beautiful girl, aren't you, Christine?"
Without my help, the headlights flashed on.
I nearly shat myself.
Please don't let my car be homicidal.
Trying to breathe, I turned on the radio; "Crossroad Blues" came forth.
It was then that the gravity of what I had just done had finally hit me, like a bird flying full-speed into a window. True, I still had my soul, but who knew what Crowley would ask of me in the future. And things were patched up with Kellie for now, but she had this habit of always finding things out, and the things I wanted to hide from her were typically the things she figured out the quickest. And how did I honestly plan to pay for a studio when I had no source of income? Or be able to afford to keep filling Christine's tank? Fuck that, back to Kellie. Once she found out, she'd probably adopt my shoot-first philosophy, if I was lucky. If not, she'd definitely do her best to make me feel like I was less worthy of life than a maggot.
The impact was too much. The bird had broken its neck.
But there was no taking it back now. Until the time when Crowley chose to collect, my payment would be my own crippling guilt.
Silent tears cascading down my cheeks, I drove away from the crossroads, a cloud of dust billowing behind me.