I glanced toward the old lead windows, the frosty air of the February evening slipping in through the cracks. The sun was setting beyond the other buildings in the Russell complex, casting imposing industrial silhouettes across the floor of my studio, ghosts of an era long past. Since I had the brilliant idea to tell Stu that Crowley was my boyfriend, and Stu got the equally genius notion to tell my grandparents about him (and invite him to their house the following evening), Crowley and I had spent the rest of the day trying to find a feasible solution to our problem. However, it seemed the only solution was to get to know each other and try to convince my grandparents that we actually were a couple. This I knew to be impossible. I couldn't imagine any demon, let alone the King of the Crossroads, willingly divulging so much personal information about himself to anyone...let alone a woman he had just learned to be a former hunter. And if he wasn't going to tell me anything, I sure as hell wasn't going to share my life story with the likes of him.
So I was shocked beyond reason when he turned to me, asking sincerely, "What would you like to know?"
I stared at him blankly. "Are you serious?"
I took an uneasy sip of bourbon and eased into the corner of the couch. Looking at the glass in my hand, I said, "Thank you again for the bourbon...I could only dream of affording Craig."
"Don't mention it," Crowley replied. "Craig is all I'll drink. Except the scotch is much more to my taste, but you seemed like a bourbon girl to me."
"I like them both frankly, but scotch is much smoother."
A dense, awkward silence filled the studio.
"Look," Crowley began, leaning back and turning his body to face me, "I know you can't decide if you want to kill me or kiss me half the time, so I understand your apprehension."
You have no idea, I thought with a scoff.
"However, if you really want to convince your grandparents, you'll have to get over the whole 'shy-highschooler' complex and talk to me...haven't you outgrown that by now?"
"I outgrew that the moment I graduated, thank you," I muttered, glaring at him.
"Twelve years ago."
Crowley nearly spat out his bourbon. Regaining composure, he said calmly, "Wait...you mean to tell me that you're thirty?"
Giggling, I nodded.
"Well, you certainly don't look it, darling."
I smiled. Crowley wasn't the first to be surprised by my age; I hadn't aged much between the ages of fifteen and twenty, and by the time I was thirty I finally looked to be about twenty-five. It had proved to be both a blessing and a curse through the course of the years.
"What about you?" I asked, unlacing my Ozzy-print Converse and tossing them in the general direction of my wardrobe. "How old is the King of the Crossroads?"
Crowley inspected his hands intently. "Judging by wear and tear...early to mid-forties, I'd wager."
"Not your meatsuit," I groaned, curling my legs up on the couch. "You."
"Oh, I'm positively ancient, love," he stated matter-of-factly. "Old enough to be your great- great- great- great-something or other."
"Well, you don't look it either," I replied, smirking.
He eyed me curiously. "You seem...unfazed."
Looking at him as if he was stupid, I gestured toward myself. "Former hunter, remember? I've seen some shit, including my fair share of demons. Your age is no shock to me."
He shrugged, taking a sip of his drink. "True enough."
I draped an arm over the back of the couch and leaned in a little closer to him. Who knew how many chances I would have to learn so much about a demon on a semi-personal level? I mean, yes, the last decade or so of my life had been spent hunting and killing demons, but I didn't become a demonologist by simply killing them. I had to learn about them, too: how they became demons, what the different classifications of demons were, what made each one tick. And now, here I was, sharing a bottle of Craig with one of the most enigmatic demons of them all. Very little was known about Crowley, even the few people I had gathered information from knew little more than the fact that he was the King of the Crossroads. When would I be given another opportunity like this?
"So, McLeod," I began casually, deciding to take full advantage of what was before me. "Did you make that up on the fly, or...?"
"No, McLeod is my real name... well, before I became a demon."
"And your first name? Connor? Duncan?"
"Enough with the Highlander references," he growled, glaring at me momentarily. "Fergus."
I raised an eyebrow. "Fergus McLeod?"
He inhaled deeply. "Fergus Roderick McLeod."
"Fergus Roderick McLeod?"
"Yes, that's my name, do you have a bloody problem with it?"
I covered my mouth to mask my laughter; Crowley was fuming mad, but I just couldn't help myself.
"How much more fucking Scottish could you get?" I forced, keeping most of my laughter at bay.
"Yes, well, at least I'm not—whatever kind of last name is Collins, anyway?"
"Hell if I know," I answered, returning to my drink briefly. "Adopted it legally when I became a hunter, on a whim...well, a suggestion from Kellie. My father disowned me when I told him I was becoming a hunter, so I figured if he didn't want me in his life, why should I bother carrying around his name? It was just some Polish word that meant 'womanizer' anyway. Who really wants Womanizer for a last name?"
"Probably half the sleazy wannabe gangsters or what have you from here to Moscow," he replied evenly. "Your father disowned you?" he asked, sounding more interested than concerned. "In my experience, hunting is typically a family affair."
"Well, we can't all be the Winchesters," I responded sharply, shooting back the rest of my drink and thrusting the empty glass in my hand demandingly in his direction, almost punching his chest as I did so. "Hit me."
"If that's how you get your kicks," he commented after a moment, gently taking the glass from my grasp and refilling it. "I never said anything about the Winchesters." Replacing the stopper in the bottle and handing my glass back to me, he inquired, "So, darling...the reason you made that deal with me, that man you wanted to forget...who was he?"
I scowled, eyeing him disdainfully. "No, I'm not telling you that. You can ask me anything except that."
He shrugged. "Fair enough, but I will find out sooner or later."
I sipped my bourbon nervously. I was sure he would, and I almost dreaded the day...because if he found out about Dean, it wouldn't be long until Dean found out about him. Once word got out that I had made a deal with Crowley, no one would ever trust me again, despite the fact that I gave him nothing in return. Hell, they'd probably accuse me of fucking him or something...and more than likely wouldn't let me get a word in edgewise. Hunters were like that.
"Well then," came Crowley's voice, pulling me out of my trance, "in that case, tell me about yourself. Who is Genevieve 'Womanizer' Collins?"
In the increasingly-inebriated conversation that followed, I told Crowley about the current locations of my divorced parents, my twelve years of Catholic school, my grandparents, the few college courses I had taken, and gave him a brief summary of my hunting career with Kellie. I had learned that in life, Fergus McLeod was a "two-bit tailor" (and from what I gathered an incredibly reprehensible fellow) who sold his soul for three more inches added to his man parts.
What a dick.
Take that any way you want.
I had set up my small fire pit in front of the sofa partway through our conversation, since the room had grown too cold for me. With just a snap of his fingers, Crowley set a comforting fire ablaze within its brass basin. That was how I discovered that Crowley could control fire.
We had grown a little more comfortable with the entire situation the more we talked, and the more bourbon we consumed. By the time we finished revealing however much we wanted about ourselves, I was stretched out on the black leather couch, my head resting on Crowley's lap. It seemed strange to me that I was placing so much trust in a demon, and were I still stone sober, I probably would have been nowhere near so relaxed. We had sat there in silence for roughly five minutes, mesmerized by the flickering of the fire, before Crowley spoke.
"How did you gather so much information on demons? Surely you and Kellie couldn't have hunted that many."
I rolled onto my back so I could look up at him. "Partially from other hunters. If someone learns something unusual, they know to email me. But a good amount of it was first-hand, either through experience or research. Sometimes talking proves to be more fruitful than stabbing."
"Demons don't reveal the secrets of their race so easily, love. Did you have to torture them?"
I winced and made a sound of disgust. "I'm not going to answer that."
"Why? Because the thought of torture is so repulsive to you? ...or is it not repulsive at all?"
"Ugh, Crowley, shut up," I groaned, reaching up and lightly slapping his face. "Yes, I did have to torture some to find out what I wanted...and once I got my hands on one of those fancy demon-killing knives, I had to kill some too. Comes with the territory of being a hunter. Same with the information I've gathered on various creatures too. I'm no angel."
He arched an eyebrow. "Do you know anything about angels?"
I was taken slightly aback. "No."
He chuckled. "Obviously. Angels are arguably bigger wankers than demons."
I smirked. "Lucifer is an angel."
"Archangel," Crowley corrected, booping my nose. "He's rather insistent that people know the difference. And that just goes to prove my point: angels are essentially rats with wings."
"They can't all be bad," I said, setting my drink on the table. "I met one in Missouri a while back and he seemed alright...Kellie sure as hell got on with him fine."
"Yeah...I guess you could say she was touched by an angel," I forced, dissolving into a mad fit of giggles.
He scoffed doubtfully. "I can't think of many angels who would 'stoop so low as to surrender to sins of the flesh,'" he mocked. "Angelic purity and whatnot. Without their whole holier-than-thou shtick, what have they got really? A twenty-foot wingspan and a winning personality?"
I chuckled, sitting up and reaching for my drink. "There's bound to be a couple decent ones out there...what I would give to know anywhere near as much about angels as I do about demons."
"Ha, you and me both, darling," Crowley commented, draping an arm over the back of the couch behind my shoulders. "Much too little is known about them. It makes them much too dangerous. But, good luck finding one that will tell you anything, unless you're under the stupid impression that Kellie's fuckbuddy will talk to you. From my understanding, not even torture can make them betray the secrets of their race. Demons, not quite so much."
"He may talk to her, though," I replied somewhat wistfully, staring into my drink. "Torture and love are two very different things, Crowley."
He reached over and gently stroked my arm.
"Are they?" he inquired in a sultry tone, looking me over with interest.
Before I could stop myself, I trembled.
"That's what I thought," he said with a smirk, leaning closer and kissing my neck.
I inhaled slowly, for a moment letting myself enjoy the sensation. Then I pushed him away into the corner of the couch, standing up and taking my glass and the bottle of Craig back to the bar. "This, however, is only lust. Besides, it's late, and you and I have an awful lot of convincing to do in the evening. Demons might not need to sleep, but heaven knows I need my rest."
Crowley chuckled, leaving the couch and ambling in my direction. "Heaven just likes to think it knows everything. Truth be told, it's a real clusterfuck up there from what I've heard... all the angels trying to get Michael and Lucifer to have their little showdown, all to have their plans foiled by a couple renegades and the Winchesters."
I tried to repress a laugh; Crowley had no idea that I kept in constant contact with the Winchesters. Hell, he didn't even know that I personally knew the Winchesters at all. So he had no idea that I knew what was really going on. Zachariah and the other angels were playing all kinds of unfriendly cards, trying to get the boys to let Michael and Lucifer have their cosmic pillowfight, and nothing the boys were doing seemed to be helping much. I couldn't help but think that Crowley was referring to the Colt, which last I heard proved to be of less use than a watergun against Lucifer. And here Crowley was, acting like he was still King Shit.
I didn't repress my laugh very well, and it came out as one obnoxious guffaw.
Crowley cocked his head, eyes darkening with what may have been suspicion. "Care to share with the class, Genevieve?"
I had no choice but to at least partially come clean. Besides, after the half a dozen glasses of bourbon I had drank, I was too fargone to stop myself. "Zachariah and his army of flying assholes are doing their best to thwart them at every turn. And you think you're so smug with that Colt bullshit? The Colt didn't kill Lucifer! It barely even left a mark! You're just damn lucky Lucifer doesn't know you're the one who tipped them off about the Colt, or else you'd be hellhound chow by now."
For the first time sinceI had known him, Crowley was speechless. After a long, awkward silence, he managed, "How...how do you know all that?"
"I have my sources," I replied nonchalantly, placing the mostly-empty bottle of Craig on a shelf against the mirrored bar-wall.
"You know the Winchesters," he stated, leaning on the bar.
My blood ran cold for a couple seconds, but I fought through the fear and explained, "They're only hunting acquaintances. Sam was impressed with my knowledge of demons, so I gave him my email address. He sends me whatever they learn, I consult for them when they need my help. So he also keeps me updated on this Lucifer business. That's how I knew who you were the night we met."
He mulled my response over for a moment. He must have found it plausible. "So...Kellie's fuckbuddy is Castiel then?"
I nodded quickly.
"So, that man you left hunting to forget...was it one of the Winchesters? Because if so I just may need to go gargle with Windex."
I felt my heart pounding in my chest like an overly-energetic drum. I was about to find out if all those years in Drama Club had actually paid off.
"Please, Crowley," I scoffed, turning on the tiny sink below the bar and washing my glass. "Do I look like I'd go after one of the Wonder Twins?"
He looked me over for a moment. "Fitted blue jeans, an Alice Cooper t-shirt, and a Led Zeppelin sweater jacket? Frankly darling, you're Dean Winchester's wet dream."
I rolled my eyes, shutting off the water and drying the glass.
"In fact...you two are incredibly similar in many ways," Crowley continued. "You both hate demons, you're impulsive, you have horrible eating habits, you drink like sailors, you sleep with almost anything that catches your eye—"
"Are you quite finished, Crowley?"
"No, I was about to add that you enjoy killing far more than anyone has a right to," he added with a hint of contempt. "You'd make a wonderful demon."
"That's not me anymore, Crowley," I said quietly, leaving the bar and sitting on the mahogany steps that led up to the bed-loft; Crowley strode over and leaned alongside me.
"Then why do you still have those on display?" he inquired, gesturing toward my wall of weapons. "If you truly wanted to leave everything about hunting behind, you'd have them locked up out of sight somewhere."
I stared at the weapons blankly: knives, swords, battleaxes, maces, guns...you name it, I had it. Those weapons and I had been through a lot together. I knew how to kill almost every creature in the book. Demons, witches, vampires, werewolves, nothing stood a chance against me. I was a juggernaut. And with Kellie as my partner, I was utterly unstoppable.
But I left that all behind.
Why, then, did I still have all those weapons displayed proudly in my studio?
Because part of me missed it. I missed the thrill of a new case, the feeling of a weapon in my hand, the adrenaline rush from being surrounded by dozens of bloodthirsty monsters, the satisfaction of slicing some abomination's head clean off its shoulders. I was content to collect and archive information on demons and other beasts, sure; but back when I was hunting, I also got to get in on the action. Now I was cooped up in my studio, playing the role of the hunter's librarian. I longed to feel that rush once more...but I wasn't about to let Crowley know that.
He smirked. "You miss it, don't you?"
"I think it's time for you to leave, Fergus," I said coldly, rising to my feet and walking up the steps.
Making a sound of disgust, Crowley muttered, "I knew I shouldn't have told you my name."
I chuckled sarcastically, stepping onto the lofted area and retrieving my pajamas from under my pillow. "Your mistake. Do me a favor and lock the door when you leave. Dinner is probably at six tomorrow evening."
"I'll be here at five, then," he called up to me.
"Why so early?" I asked, slipping out of my jeans and pulling on my Pirates of the Caribbean pajama pants. "They only live in Hamtramck, it's barely five minutes away."
"Well," he began nonchalantly, "that way we have enough time to get any bickering out of the way before we get there. I'd hate to have a lover's quarrel in front of your grandparents the first time I meet them."
I rolled my eyes, taking my bra off under my shirt and crawling under the covers. "Goodnight, Crowley."
"Sleep well, darling," Crowley's voice replied.
As I closed my eyes, the lights in my studio went out, and I heard the sound of the padlock on my studio door clicking shut.
Let's hope I don't go back to my old hunting habits tomorrow night, I thought as I drifted off to sleep. I'd hate to have to clean demon blood out of my grandparents' carpet.