Story Title: Want what you shouldn't
Character/Relationships: Crowley/Castiel
Rating: R
Warnings: Slash, language, fantasies of sex and violence, one-sided UST
AN: For spnlas

Crowley was comfortable with paradox.

And that's all good and evil were, he thought as he took in another mouthful of shiraz. A paradox, a riddle with two answers, a picture that becomes something else when upside down. Two opposites wrapped around each other, squirming like snakes. Or perhaps a double helix, to use the humans' new favorite image.

Paradox.

Case in point: if evil ever fully wins, the demons will get fucked over worst of all.

Destroyed by the one they thought would save them.

And besides, evil is about taking. But if there's nothing good left to take, what's the point of being evil?

Crowley had been thinking more and more about paradox since the end had begun.

He looked then at another paradox. The one seated across from him, drinking a bottle of rotgut whiskey, slumped over Bobby Singer's kitchen table.

The angel who wasn't an angel. Who disobeyed orders because he had faith that there are better orders out there. And someone better giving them.

Faith and obedience were supposed to go together, Crowley knew. Demons who believed in the big battle to come were happy to obey, to sacrifice themselves (which was ridiculous, Crowley knew, since the point of evil is certainly not giving).

And angels who rebelled were supposed to throw in their lot with evil, were supposed to think of humanity as mud to be cleaned.

Of course Castiel looked pretty human himself these days.

Not entirely. But getting there.

Not that he was one to talk. Crowley himself was ambitious and sly, but he always pursued the demonic work that would let him get up close and personal with humanity. With their bodies, and with their horribly, lusciously human weaknesses.

Maybe that's what he had in common with the angel. They both had mingled with the mud a little too deeply. Maybe that's why they had ended up doing something so pedestrian as drinking together at a splintery little table in a house that stunk of humanity.

Humanity and gunpowder, actually.

But then the angel noticed him watching. Frowned.

A chill went up Crowley's spine, and it wasn't entirely unpleasant.

Maybe he had a death wish after all, he thought, somewhat amused by the notion.

Crowley kept his ear to the ground, had heard about 'Cas' and his recent activities –he knew that even weakened, alone, and despondent, Cas had fended off attacks from his former brethren that could have easily destroyed entire armies of demons. It had to be much more than simple power that won those victories. Castiel thought differently than the other angels did, Crowley had concluded; he fought like only a traitor could, turning his training as a soldier into a blueprint of his former unit's weaknesses. Wild, rebellious thoughts giving him the edge when strength would not. It's the only explanation Crowley could think of, for why Castiel still lived.

He smiled at the angel, then. He tried not to make it look like a taunt, but he suspected it came off as one anyway. Castiel tilted his head then as he peered at Crowley. Like he was... curious. Like he wondered how Crowley worked.

The same blasted look he gave those insufferable idiot humans, Crowley noted with disappointment.

But Crowley wasn't one to give up easily. He smiled again, this time predatory, and got a glare out of Castiel, a look of 'betray us and the end of the world will be the least of your problems.'

It rather tickled Crowley.

But he said, "Relax, killer, I want the moron brothers to succeed as much as anyone. The world ending would ruin my vacation plans for this summer. And next summer too, I'd imagine."

Castiel stared at him, then returned to his bottle of bad whiskey.

"That was a joke," Crowley said, deciding to push a few buttons. "Are you able to understand jokes, now that you can't do angel things? Or are jokes on your list of things you don't get - right next to good taste in liquor, a decent outfit, and getting your little necklace to go all glowy?"

Castiel stared at him again, and Crowley could see his jaw tightening. It was different than with humans or demons; Crowley had always loved to provoke them, loved to see that delicious sheen of shame and fear and anger wash over them as he mocked them. As he exposed their failures, their very worst parts, culling them out like pale, naked strings.

But it was different with Castiel. Those same feelings, spilling across the vessel's face, but then beneath something more. Anger pure as fire, certainty like stone. Castiel may have lost the larger part of himself, but clearly he still loved to kill evil things.

Crowley could feel it: Thing.

Humans always forgot (until they tripped over a body and remembered); demons are things. And Crowley was proud to be a thing: an elegant, lethal thing.

But even if Cas fell and fell and fell, even if Crowley manipulated his way into being Cas' horrible comfort, Cas would never, ever stop thinking of him as a thing.

Crowley could almost taste it. Thing.

He barely resisted the urge to reach over the table and grab Cas by the hair, bite his lower lip until drops of blood blossomed. Even if it ended with him a smear of cinder on the floor.

What an image that would be….

But then the angel softened his look, said, "I understand jokes. But I was told that they are usually funny."

It took Crowley a moment to realize he was being mocked. And while he refused to laugh, he decided that if the world kept turning, Crowley would find Castiel. Maybe for one of those unlikely alliances that Crowley seemed to specialize in lately. Maybe to see if he could goad Castiel into doing something rash. Something beneath him. Some petty act of cruelty, some exquisite revenge on Crowley's flesh.