Flannelled Mousse

Summary: It was becoming common for Sam to stay up late researching old cases. Typical bloody Winchester, wearing himself out for no good reason, and getting on Crowley's nerves in the bargain. Set in the One of the Boys canon-divergent series, but can be read as a stand-alone fic. No pairings, complete.

A warm-up piece of fanfiction, before returning to my other work after a long hiatus.

Set in the One of the Boys canon-divergent series, in which Crowley shut the gates of Hell at the end of Season 12 and joined the boys.

This was becoming a bad habit on Sam's part, in Crowley's opinion.

Another late night, another cold case the younger Winchester brother insisted on solving on his own. Books spread across the library table, yellowed case file thoroughly riffled through, laptop open to the digitized newspaper archives, the furrowed brow of concentration belied by the slouching shoulders and drained mug of herbal tea.

Dean was long retired to his own room, likely fallen asleep nestled under the comforting blare of Metallica from noise-cancelling headphones. Cas had just headed out, to catch a midnight movie with the visiting Claire. The quiet slumber of the bunker settled over the library, and Crowley was keen on enjoying it. A glass of whiskey, a favorite book, a few hours without social engagement. Sam's presence was interrupting that stilled, dead-of-night hush with his headstrong and dogged pursuit of an answer to a case almost a century old.

"Leave off, Sam," Crowley said, making an attempt at an encouraging, concerned tone. "Whatever's there to find can wait until morning. No one's life is on the line tonight."

The hunter glanced sluggishly over at the demon, cleared his throat, shuffled slightly in his seat so he was sitting a half-hearted inch straighter. "Nah, I'm good. It's nice to work on something that doesn't involve the weight of the world hanging over our heads, you know? Besides," Sam tossed that book aside, reached for another with weary determination, "if I'm going to be a Man of Letters, I need to put in the work."

Typical bloody Winchester, wearing himself out for no good reason, and getting on Crowley's nerves in the bargain. As if constantly saving the world didn't afford him at least one good night's sleep.

Crowley rolled his eyes, pushed himself out of his comfortable chair in the library corner, and headed to the kitchen.

He made himself a cuppa before gathering the necessary ingredients and preheating the oven. His black chef's apron, with "King of the Kitchen" printed in white lettering across the front, was hanging on its hook, recently laundered, and Crowley smiled as he tied it over his henley and jeans. Rolling up his sleeves, he got to work.

Thankfully, he kept a fair amount of butter in a crock on the counter, soft and at the ready. The larder – both in the kitchen and elsewhere – was fully stocked. And there was always some amount of rum to be found in the bunker.

In little more than an hour's time, Crowley was generously dusting the final layer of cream on the top of a miniature tiramisu cake. The bottom layer was a thick, flourless chocolate cake, with a fudgy crumb and that rich chocolate ganache flavor. A smooth, heavy mascarpone cream lay between the bottom layer and an airy ring of sponge cake, which had been soaked in dark rum. More cream, and then the final layer of cake, a light chiffon infused with espresso. A last, thin layer of cream crowned the delicate cake, over which a sifting of cocoa powder now reigned.

Humming pleasantly to himself, Crowley wiped down the espresso machine – the boys had bought it for him as a surprise a few months ago – and frothed a cup of milk. He carefully poured a fresh shot of espresso and then the milk into a warmed, wide-mouthed mug, and delicately dribbling the last of the milk to form a shape resembling antlers in the foam.

Crowley brought the small plate bearing the sumptuous dessert, a fork, and the cappuccino in to Sam, gently setting them down on the table beside him.

Sam's gaze drifted from the page to the unexpected offering. He looked up at Crowley in mild surprise.

It said how far he had come – how far the two of them had come in their not-quite a friendship – that Sam's questioning look was completely lacking in suspicion.

"If you're going to work this hard," Crowley said, "there's got to be at least a few perks." He pushed the plate closer, encouragingly, and decided to infuse the moment with an added dose of familiar teasing. "I considered making chocolate mousse. But for all my culinary skills, I couldn't quite conceive of how to give whipped cream and egg whites a flannelled appearance."

It was a moment before Sam made the connection, but when he did, Crowley was rewarded with as genuine and sincere a smile as the reformed demon had ever gotten from the youngest Winchester brother. Sam huffed, and looked again at the cake and the cappuccino, this time appreciatively.

"Thanks, Crowley. I, uh – I needed this."

The demon considered culminating the moment between them by patting the hunter on the shoulder, but decided that was risking too much. Too obvious.

As Sam cut into the miniature layered cake, Crowley wandered back to his chair in the corner of the library, and with self-satisfaction, pretended to become once again engrossed in his own book. Over the well-worn spine, he watched Sam carefully stack all the layers of the piece of cake he'd cut onto the tines of the fork, clearly considerate of the time and effort Crowley had taken in its creation. The cappuccino appeared to also surpass all expectations.

For the next few minutes, the two sat in repose, Sam braced on his elbows over a book, eating cake. And Crowley, for once patient and content.

It only took a few bites, long enough to assure him that Sam indeed was enjoying the dessert. But then the hunter's chin slumped to his chest, and his towering torso began to bend towards the table.

Crowley rose from his chair, quietly moved the half-empty cup and crumb-littered plate out of the way, and guided Sam to well-earned rest atop a pillow of flannelled arms and dusty lore. That had worked better than he'd expected, to be honest. Even the caffeine from the cappuccino wasn't enough to counteract the sleep potion Crowley had hidden with the strong flavor of rum. The duplicity didn't perturb his semi-restored soul in the least. It just so happened that what Crowley wanted also benefited the worn-out moose.

"That's a good lad," Crowley muttered to the sleeping form. For the briefest of moments, he allowed a hand to rest on the boy's shoulder, give it a reassuring squeeze. "Get some sleep, Sam."

Glancing idly through the books and archives on the table, Crowley found the answer to Sam's cold case. Likely Sam had simply been too tired to see it. Crowley positioned the book, open to the requisite page, next to the hunter. Just crooked enough to suggest Sam himself had been reading it before dozing off.

Then he cleared away the plate and cake crumbs, settled back into his chair in the hush of the library, and sighed with self-satisfaction. The kitchen could wait until morning. Crowley had earned himself a rest.

For Thayer, who appreciates Crowley's skills in both the culinary arts and cunning (self) deception.

Maybe there will come a day when Crowley can do something nice for someone else without doing something highly unethical in the process.