TRAPPED IN BORING MEETING STOP CANNOT GET OUT STOP BRAIN MELTING STOP MUST DO SOMETHING ELSE STOP HALP HALP HALP STOP
Disclaimer: Not mine. Otherwise, I'd put them in the movies, and be a pushy stage parent, and live off their earnings in the manner in which I'd like to become accustomed.
Title: Advanced Placement.
Rating: T. Because words.
Summary: It seemed like such a good idea: kidnap the Prophet, hold him as a bargaining chip in the Eternal War. But the best laid plans o' mice and men and the King Of Hell gang aft agley... what would happen if S7.23 had taken place in the Jimiverse.
Blame: It's a toss-up between a boring meeting and the Denizens who egg me on. I KNOW WHO YOU ARE.
This is story #42 for me. That has to be something significant, doesn't it, so soon after Carry Your Towel Day?
Crowley was practically whistling as he headed back to his office. Dick Roman was... dedicked, Dick Winchester and his pet flying dick were probably finding out about the catering in Purgatory about now, and Other Dick Winchester would be flapping his hair and ruffling his sideburns in concern. Meanwhile he, Crowley, King of Hell, had himself a nice juicy Prophet, and while Heaven was in absolute disarray they were in no condition to mount any sort of rescue mission to retrieve their walking Rosetta Stone. Life – or undeadness, anyway – was good.
"Um, hi, boss," Orgle the fiend greeted him as he took Crowley's coat to hang it up. Crowley was in such a good mood he didn't notice Orgle's slight nervousness.
"Goooood morning Orgle!" grinned the King of Hell, looking around for his pet Hellhound. "Where is she? Where is she? Where is Daddy's girl?"
A small and fluffy head popped up out of the porcelain pot of the 19th century rosewood French bidet on which Crowley liked to receive official guests (because it disturbed the crap out of even the most senior demons). Gedda the Hellpoodle jumped down from her favourite napping spot and trotted over to Crowley, tail wagging.
"Hello, Gedda, my darling," he crooned to the Hellpoodle, "Daddy has some wonderful news... what's that?" he changed tone as he noticed the... thingy on Gedda's collar. "What's this... thingy on her collar?"
"Um, you have a... visitor," Orgle told him, wringing a couple of his hands in anxiety, "He let himself in, and he, um, made that... thingy."
Crowley's face darkened. "Well, I'll tell him where he can shove his thingy," he stated, striding through the ante room to his office, where a figure sat bent over the desk. "Hey!" he snapped, "What the hell, if you'll pardon the pun, do you think you're..." his jaw dropped. "You!" he breathed, gawping, "What are you doing here?"
"Defragging," Kevin told him, not lifting his eyes from the screen. "This thing is so clogged up with spam it's barely running. Your anti-malware isn't so much inadequate as non-existent." He frowned at the screen. "And it's as slow as a wet week – you might not get broadband here, but you could do a lot better with ADSL, and it'd let you use your phones at the same time if you wanted to..."
"No, no, no!" snapped Crowley, "What are you doing here? In my office? You're supposed to be in one of the Lower Circles!"
"Oh, that," Kevin waved a hand. "Your security sucks. You really should coordinate your staff rosters. I thought I'd come to talk to you about it. Have you considered networking your system and running it all off a remote server? It would be more reliable, hard drives have a horrible habit of crashing when you least want them to, and you could back it up daily..."
"Hey!" Crowley interrupted, "You are not the Help Desk here, pal, you are my prisoner! You are a hostage! You are a squishy mortal pawn in the Great Scheme Of Things, the Eternal Struggle between Them Upstairs and Us Down Here! You can't just wander around Hell and waltz into the King of Hell's office!"
"I was bored," shrugged Kevin, tapping at the keyboard. "If I'm going to be incarcerated in the Pit, I might as well use the time constructively." He grinned. "Oh, man, there's a much better version of Minesweeper now, you really need to upgrade your operating system..."
"I do NOT need to upgrade anything!" Crowley barked. "What I need is for YOU to get OUT of my OFFICE and back to your cave!"
"The climate control wasn't working," Kevin informed him, "It was too hot. Hold this," he handed Crowley the end of a cable, and disappeared under the desk.
"Well, of course it was hot, you idiot!" Crowley snapped at him, mentally reminding himself to flay the black-eyed morons who were supposed to be guarding the Prophet, "This is Hell! We are in Hell! It's on the doormat! 'Welcome to Hell', it says! It's on the imps' collars! 'If lost, please return to Hell'! It's on the fiends' name tags!"
"It is, too," smiled Orgle, pointing to his own tag. "See? It says, 'Hi! My Name Is ORGLE! Welcome To Hell! How May I Torment You Today?'. See this little little gold skull?" he added proudly, "That means that I've been Indispensable Drudge Of The Month for my Circle three times in the one century!"
"Hey, that's really cool, Orgle," Kevin said from under the desk. "Okay, give me that cable."
"Look, clearly, what we have here is a failure to communicate," began Crowley through clenched teeth.
"No, what we have here is a failure to integrate," Kevin corrected him. "As well as failure to collate, update and reiterate." He popped up and plucked the cable from Crowley's bemused hold.
"I don't think you appreciate the situation here," Crowley tried again.
"Oh, I do, I do," Kevin reassured him, "I've seen this sort of disorganisation before, at four different schools. It's not surprising – the people in charge have been inside the system so long that the whole thing reaches a sort of stasis... there we are," he emerged, and tapped at the screen. "Much better. See?" He indicated the screen. "Now, if you'd had this patched in to your account to start with, you'd have been able to check up on me for yourself." In spite of his outrage, Crowley looked at the screen. The security footage clearly showed the demons who'd been assigned to guard Kevin waving their arms and shouting each other in between staring in disbelief at the empty cave. "Now, I've written a short routine that will let you check any of the security installations in Hell from here – it's password protected, so nobody can get into it except you..."
"Yes, yes, very nice," humphed Crowley, "But the point I'm trying to make is, you're meant to be a prisoner, not the hired geek!" Gedda trotted in behind him. "Look, what's that... thingy on Gedda's collar?"
"Oh, that?" Kevin waved a hand dismissively. "Just something I worked up for you. Orgle mentioned that you've had trouble with the Hellhounds getting in here and sitting on the furniture and leaving stains on the carpet, right? So, I rigged that small transmitter to put out a multi-dimensional wavelength signal that will let her, and only her, through the dog door. I call it a Discriminating Diabolical Ingress Creature Kenneller. The DDICK, for short."
"You... you stuck a DDICK on my dog," repeated Crowley.
"Uh-huh," Kevin nodded. "Oh, I nearly forgot." He handed over a small remote. "You can use this to call her from anywhere; it will put out a signal that only she will recognize, and respond to. It's password protected, so nobody can use it except you. She's really bright, she learned it with just a few repetitions." He patted the Hellpoodle, who licked at his hand and wagged her tail.
"Hey, hey, do not pet the Hellhound!" insisted Crowley, "Gedda is not just any old mutt, she is the whelp of Cerberus and Belisarius Jr., Alpha of the Infernal Pack and First Hound of Hell! She could tear you to pieces, feast on your entrails and rend your very soul from your..."
"She's adorable, is what she is," Kevin smiled, ruffling Gedda's ears.
"I don't believe this," muttered Crowley, "Orgle, get those idiots up here. And get me three more idiots, because I'm going to shred the first three idiots. Get me another three idiots as well, because I may just shred the second three idiots on general principle..."
"Orgle mentioned that you did a lot of that, shredding underlings," Kevin nodded, "So I wrote you an app for your phone. It'll keep track of your shreddings, maintain a 'To Shred' list, and sync with your email to remind you when you have a shredding appointment, then it'll send Orgle a notification to get the mop and bucket..."
"I need a drink," Crowley muttered as he made his way to his bar, and reached for a bottle of his favourite tipple, "A drink, and somebody to slap... LUCIFER'S BUM WHAT THE BLAZES IS THIS?"
"It's a storage cabinet," Kevin explained helpfully, "I noticed that you had your whisky just stored on the shelf under your bar. It's good stuff, you want to take care of it, so I modified that bar cabinet a bit. Orgle was great, he got me some parts from the IT department, and some sealant from Rack Maintenance. You need to store your bottles upright, keep them away from UV and heat, hence the cooling mechanism, and not let them get dry enough to affect the corks or let the volatile components evaporate, hence the humidifier. It's password protected, so you and only you can access your scotch."
"Well, thank you, MacGuyver, thank you so much," Crowley grimaced, "What a resourceful individual you are. I don't suppose that while you're here, you'd care to automate the furnaces to give the fiends more leisure time? Set up a database to keep track of the issue and return of pitchforks? I know, why don't we get you to design a better rack? The ones we're using have been in service for millennia, surely wireless technology could enable us to do it better, you know, torture smarter, not harder?"
Kevin looked thoughtful. "Maybe you could consider barcoding pitchforks, and using a prox card reader system to assign them to individual demons and fiends," he said slowly, "And your racks really could do with an overhaul. Well, a complete redesign, really, I noticed several kinaesthesic difficulties your demons were having, with repetitive movements that might lead to connective tissue injury if not addressed, but I'm not sure if I'm the best person for the job, I only studied mechanical engineering for a couple of semesters in junior high..."
"What?" gasped Crowley theatrically, "You mean... there's something you can't do?"
Kevin looked sheepish. "Well, it was continue with that, or pick up quantum computing," he explained, "And that sounded interesting. It was useful, too, because it let me get a handle on the whole concept of the multi-wavelength radiation of diabolical intent in the Infernal spectrum, without which I wouldn't have been able to give your dog a DDICK..."
"Stop, just... stop. Stop. Right. There." Crowley sighed. Heavy lay the head that wore the Infernal crown. "Look," he said, "I understand that this is all very new and confusing for you, but you're a bright lad, and I have every confidence that you can pick it up as we go along." He took a deep breath. "You are a Prophet, a Chosen One of Heaven. You have been fingered by Them Upstairs to interpret and translate the Word Of God, and bring it to the rest of humanity. You are one more unwitting conscript in the eternal war between Heaven, that's God and His angels, and Hell, which is me, and my demons."
Kevin looked dubious. "So... you're Satan? Lucifer? The Devil?" he queried.
"Not exactly," Crowley grinned. "I am Crowley, King of Hell, Upper Management and All Around Boss Of Perdition! One nasty customer, whom you do not want to cross. So, we, that is, Team Hell, have taken you prisoner, and..."
"What about Lucifer?" Kevin interrupted. "He's supposed to be the one who was Cast Out, to become Lord of Hell."
"Yes, well, there's been a slight technical hitch," Crowley replied impatiently, "And I am standing in for him. So, as I was saying, we've abducted you..."
"Slight technical hitch?" Kevin looked nonplussed. "What sort of slight technical hitch lets somebody stand in for Lucifer? You're making this up."
"I am not!" Crowley almost stamped his foot. "Look, it's a long story. Rocky and Bullwinkle Winchester screwed about with The Grand Plan and averted the Apocalypse by shoving Lucifer and Michael into a containment dimension that we refer to as The Cage, and..."
"Michael? You mean, as, in, the Archangel Michael?" Kevin asked.
"The very same," Crowley confirmed, "So, while those two are busy annoying each other for eternity..."
"Would you like me to have a look at this Cage?" Kevin offered, "It might just be a simple case of determining the quantum state, then..."
"NO!" yelped Crowley. "NO! Don't you dare! It's just... take my word for it, we are ALL better off with both those flying dicks locked away where they can't annihilate any planets while pulling each others pigtails."
"Why should I believe you if you're the King of Hell, and Father of Lies?" prodded Kevin.
"No, no, no, the Father of Lies is Lucifer," Crowley clarified, "I'm Crowley, self-made demon and self-appointed King of Hell, risen to power by the graft and corruption of my own self."
Kevin cocked his head. "You don't look very regal," he pondered.
"What?" Crowley stared at him. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Well, I'd have thought that the boss of Hell would be more, you know," Kevin waved his hands about, "Taller. Less balding. Less chubby. More... imposing. Not so... cuddly."
"Chubby?" echoed Crowley in disbelief. "Cuddly? !"
"Well, yeah," Kevin shrugged. "You asked," he defended himself as Crowley glared. "Have you ever thought about doing something about that?" he went on.
"Kevin," Crowley said in a calm voice, "If you offer to perform liposuction or a hair transplant on me, so help me I will make you eat your own DDICK."
"Well, I was going to suggest maybe growing horns, or something," Kevin replied. "You know, look the part. There are things you can do with subdermal prosthetics, or saline-filled implants."
Crowley sat down heavily. It had sounded like such a good idea: grab the Prophet, deny Heaven the use of his... prophetability, consolidate power. There really wasn't supposed to be electronics, quantum or DDICK involvement. It really wasn't fair. Humans as a whole had a capacity to be mind-bogglingly stupid, and he had to go and get lumbered with an Advanced Placement geek. They'd probably done it on purpose.
It just was NOT fair.
Just when he thought his day couldn't get any more aggravating, his cell rang. He looked at the screen and groaned.
"What do you want, Castiel," he winced.
"Hello, Crowley," the angel intoned in a voice completely devoid of amusement, "I thought you would like to know, Dean and I are back from Purgatory. We were not impressed."
"No?" asked Crowley.
"No," Castiel confirmed. "The postcard I sent to you, which will no doubt take several more weeks to arrive, will detail the nature of our grievances." He paused. "I did reword some of Dean's more... robust critique."
"Ah. Yes. Well, the boy does tend towards... colourful in his expressions when he's... emphatic about something," Crowley agreed. "I'd say I was sorry, except really I'm not..."
"However, I would really like to make it up to you!" he went on cheerfully.
"I have difficulty in believing that," Castiel growled accusingly.
"No, no, seriously," chirped Crowley, "I really do want to make amends. And to show you that I mean it, I'm going to... send the Prophet back to you!"
"The Prophet?" Castiel repeated. "Kevin Tran?"
"The very same!" Crowley practically sang. "In fact, he's right here with me, and I'm sure he's just dying to be reunited with the Winchesters, they'll have so much to talk about! Right Kevin?"
Kevin looked confused. "But, the rack redesign... your IT network... the Cage... your image makeover..."
"It will be a blow," Crowley gave him a brave wobbly little smile, "But we'll manage without you, somehow, we'll dry our tears, and every time I look at your DDICK, I'll think of our brief time together. Beam him up, Castiel!"
Before he could say another thing, Kevin was whisked away, presumably via a quantum variant of a multi-dimensional wavelength of celestial intent.
Crowley let out a sigh of relief. "You know, Orgle," he mused, "There are days when I wonder, having clawed my way to the top of the pile of shit just long enough to stand upright and piss on everyone else - I am still in Hell. Does this constitute being punished for my sins after all?"
"We all have our little burdens to bear, Mr Crowley," Orgle said consolingly. "Some days you're the pigeon; other days, you're the statue. It's just built into the fabric of Creation."
Crowley eyed the fiend. "You know, Orgle," he said, "For somebody the size of a Kodiak bear, with as many arms and mouths and as much stinking tangled pelt matted with blood as you, you have hidden depths.
Orgle looked down at his claws, embarrassed. "I think I just have a simpler perspective, Mr Crowley," he suggested. "The further up the ladder you are, the further you can see, and the more problems you have oversight of."
"You really should write some of this down," Crowley instructed, "We'll send it Topside, call it Fiendish Wisdom, and make it into the Next Big Thing in Self-Help books. Or maybe winkle it into the corporate world – unleash yet another PowerPoint presentation onto unsuspecting humanity."
"Oh, that reminds me," Orgle fished a small device out of his pelt, "I mentioned to Kevin how much you hate sitting through PowerPoint presentations, and he made this. You carry it in your pocket, hit this button, and it temporarily disables any projector within a radius of fifty feet, thereby terminating the presentation. It might come in handy next time Asmodean from Accounting wants to do a presentation."
Crowley stared at the small device. "That boy's brain is a frightening thing," he said eventually, "It's probably just as well we don't have it Down Here; sooner or later, some upstart demon would try to use it against me." He smiled. "Every Prophet has a silver lining, eh?"
Orgle smiled, then left to be about his duties.
"Well, Gedda, my darling, I think we need to have a little rethink of plan," Crowley confided to the little dog, "One that does NOT involve too many neurons banging together. All that intelligence in one person, you can't tell me it's mentally healthy. I mean, look at Moose Winchester." He returned to his bar, and reached for a bottle of scotch.
"Aaaaaaaargh!" he yowled to an uncaring universe, "That miserable geek didn't give me my password!"
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