Bobby's no expert on how Hell works.
Maybe he's always been too focused on the literary aspect for a visual aid, but he didn't expect the scenic view of a corporate fat cat's office when imagining the one and only.
A three-tier, swivel desk chair heavily padded in black, expensive Italian leather sitting behind a sleek, glass-topped office desk with several cabinets. It matches the theme of more black, and was laid out with pristine, untouched office items — two binders, a laminator, a plugged in shredder, a stainless steel desk lamp with a silk shade and a large, dewdrop, mother-of-pearl pendant, and miniature, metal-coated ceramic vases. The rugs against the polished, stone floor and rest of the furniture in the room were the color of congealed blood, even the 50' flat screen on the eggshell white wall (every channel was the documentary of Hitler's rise to power). To break the illusion, perhaps just a little, was the lacquered, oak veneer bookcase situated behind the desk.
Bobby discovered many of the books he shifted through, for hours and hours at a time, to be written in either Latin or perhaps a bit more demonic with sigils, rites, pentagrams, and odd symbols like the iron cross associated with the Kingdom of Prussia and others that had no immediate meaning to him but just itched to be translated, to be examined.
In a way, it's not like this is such bad fix. He gathers all the knowledge he wants topside and down below, keeps his distance from any towns he's too familiar with let alone people, and Bobby never really expected to be sent to Heaven straight after one in the melon. The grumpy, drunk of a man who prospered on the land he slain his father (not that Ed Singer didn't deserve to be buried behind the woodshed) — but it's not exactly a Nobel Prize winner on the list of reasons to enjoy a cozy afterlife, though the chairs downstairs were layered in soft suede and pretty darn plush, in his humble opinion.
Somehow, he knows the reigning King of Hell is close by when the gleaming, cherrywood grandfather clock gives a loud chime and then ceases to tick. Bobby doesn't look up from the open, dusty textbook when Crowley appears out of thin air, skimming his fingers along the hair on his temples and leaning back slowly against the edge of his own desk.
"Your boys are well on their way to annihilating Dick Roman, just as planned," he murmurs, and Bobby can sense the keen gaze — probably an added bonus to tying himself to the demon. "I have to say," Crowley speaks up again, fingertips and manicured nails reaching towards one of the office's potted plants — lily-of-the-valley, poisonous as a rattler if ingested, if Bobby remembers correctly (and he usually was of a mind to be). "I rather like the choice of your meatsuit." Harvest gold eyes slide appreciatively over the length of Bobby's muscular, tattoo-winding arms, over his high cheekbones and the stony expression. "Still gruff and surly like the good old days, but attractively masculine, even."
Bobby grunts loudly, looking down at the ancient text but not really concentrating — wasn't easy, stealing a body to live in. Not on the conscious. It was the freshest cadaver at the morgue he had been led to (34-year-old bachelor, lived in North Port, Florida, registered lifeguard, died from sudden anaphylactic shock from multiple bee stings) and he refused to abduct some poor living soul for a centuries-old joyride, even if his 'maker'' insisted that it was nothing alarmingly new.
"Can the sweet nothings, princess."
An eyebrow raise at the sarcastic, darkening tone. "Oo~h, not in the mood for romancing tonight, love?"
When Bobby says nothing, refusing to play along with him, the other demon sighs, as if tired of having to play around in the first place. "I gave you what you wanted, Robert. I upheld my end and turned you into a powerful demon, instead of letting you waste away as a useless spirit." Bobby's back still facing in Crowley's direction stiffens up as he shoves the dusty book back into his proper, alphabetized slot. A physical motion sending out vibes like don't remind me, idjit.
Crowley's voice does not go above the level of a softened murmur. "There are death warrants on the heads of any well-known demon that so much touched a single strand of Winchester hair, and you're still not satisfied?"
A split-second of blaring silence — another — and he finds himself pushed back roughly against the bookcase, Crowley's gray, cashmere-suited forearm crushing his windpipe. The priceless artifacts on the shelves above rattle slightly from the impact. If Bobby had been human, he would have been alarmed how quickly this all happened.
Crowley's round, pale face, mere inches from his, did not reveal any indication of anger but a form of benign displeasure.
"What… exactly do you want?"
"Nothin' you can offer," curtly passes Bobby's lips. Nothing could make up for his decision. To become this. Something he once hunted without remorse or sympathy.
He rubs at his bare, tattooed neck as Crowley releases him.
"Pity." Crowley eyes him, smirking for a moment pleasantly. "Because there's another one on the table for you."
He strolls back around his glass-top desk and switches on his flat screen, thumb posing over the volume control of his remote control as a black-and-white Hitler declares statements of uniting forces existing in the Labor Front — if declare meant screaming in German towards the crowd of onlookers. Crowley fondly watches the wildly controversial politician for a moment or two before lowering the volume through ceiling speakers, dimming the brightness scale to the screen.
"Hell is like an enterprise and a monarchy all rolled up into a vastly complex, bloody package," he explains. Bobby's hooded, clear blue eyes narrow. "Sometimes, a king finds himself requiring… a companion."
"Didn't turn up roses for Hitler, now did it?" Bobby snorts, jerking his chin to the flat screen and it goes black.
Ignoring him, Crowley adds, "There's not much left between us to strike a bargain of sorts," still pleasantly smirking, "if you are, currently, unwilling to accept, then at least allow me the opportunity to persuade you. Of your own free will."
A slight hand-wave. "We can call it a date, if that floats your boat."
"Call it a gutless hunch, but I think you're in this to save your own hide," Bobby drawls out, his close-mouthed smirk mimics the sudden, obvious cruelty of Crowley's widening, spreading across his features.
"…I do enjoy self-preservation," the well-coiffed demon admits. "But I have mentioned before that I do like you, Robert."
"Yur payin' then."
Stepping out from flooding daylight and into the rosy, low-light, a skinny, young thing combs her fingers through her windswept mess of blonde hair, eyeing the occupants of the tavern uneasily before sitting down alone by a square table.
Across from her, another square table of two female demons in gaudy, short dresses peek over their shoulders at the human girl and giggle muffled into their hands. Because no one was stupid enough to mistake this decrepit building as a fully-functioning establishment — at least, not by its outside appearance. Because if any humans knew about its existence, they knew what it meant to cross the threshold, and what they would have to gamble to get what they desired.
In the past few hours, Bobby had witnessed at least three 'casual' summonings and about two of them were astoundingly successful with the smiling demons and nervous humans sharing at least one drink with each other before cordially going on their way. The last one, however, ended with a frantic, bespectacled man trying to back out of his deal three minutes in and his demon on the verge of losing his patience before another demon hearing the ruckus 'accidentally' took care of the problem, snickering at the new, drying gore-stains on the woodwork walls.
"Still not up for striking up a crossroads deal?" Crowley pours himself another glass of some fancy European cognac, gently clinking the crystal decanter onto the bar surface. A disapproving look. "You don't know what you're missing."
Bobby takes a swallow of his own glass, top shelf whiskey. No point being stingy if he ain't buying the alcohol. "I've been on the receivin' end," he mutters. Crowley's lips quirk into a familiar, bragging smirk. "So, yeah, I'd know."
"But never the winning side. There's a difference."
A snap of meaty fingers and Bobby's empty hand lying on his thigh cradles a thick, unlit cigar. The other demon grasps down for it, brushing tattered, denim material with an inhumanly quick sweep of fingers — sending a quick flash of heat through Bobby's nerves. He half-suspects that Crowley's unaware of the reaction as older demon pulls out a cigar cutter from a designer coat pocket, clipping an end.
Crowley's pocket brightens a blue glow. The demon's Apple IPhone buzzes with a new message.
"Oops, time to collect a debt," Crowley declares suddenly, holding up his opposite arm and snapping his fingers again. A flash-flare of orange flame towards the clipped end. "It will only be a moment. Enjoy the cigar." As Bobby takes it back, the leveled bar stool to his right noiselessly clears of his companion. A slight drag of the smoky, heavy tobacco. From across the tavern, the skinny, blonde thing — without the track marks running along her arms, without the illness to her face and around her yellowing eyes, he may have compared her physical appearance to Karen — glances towards him, hopefully.
He didn't so much lift a finger for her, as sorry as he may have felt for her. A demon in a three-piece blazer and a cocky, bold swagger took a seat down next to her, touching her sunburned, olive-skinned shoulder with mock-concern. An intense gaze passing between them and so started their friendly conversation. Another innocent soul for Crowley.
Crowley always wins.
(And he would feel less sorry for her when she would outright make the decision to sell her soul.)
"What did I tell you?" Crowley says to his right, gulping a mouthful of his drink. "Cut and dry, another soul after ten years."
Bobby glances away from the girl, not protesting as the other demon gestures for the cigar, lips wrapping around it.
"What's the verdict on the new souls as the head honcho?" he asks.
A humored, stifled noise at the serious question.
Crowley puffs out his drag. "The usual: excruciating torture. Got bored of the lines. But there's an art to the specification — see, I like a systematic efficiency to my business," he explains. "We assess situational judgment and aptitude to determine an individual's worst nightmares and their irrational fears, data-checking and memory-checking and removing the unnecessary factors in the equation that resemble anything remotely… optimistic."
"Whatever pleases your Highness." In theory, sarcasm is a good way to deter how the quality of the razor-sharp smile thrown in Bobby's direction fills his cock — how the danger of being so close to something so utterly corrupt, how Crowley must have always sensed how his enigmatic charm and the ridiculous amount of brashness ends up working in his favor — everything about him intoxicates and conflates, and Bobby wants to curse him and possibly slip a shot of holy water in his Euro-crap alcohol.
Dean and Sam better damn well kick Dick Roman's ass to Jupiter.
The hunters swarm in without warning.
One or two of them Bobby recognizes, who he had worked a case with — amateurs and pigheaded sons-of-bitches, but decent folk. Most of the demons that could use their brains got out before the exorcism chants blasted through megaphones, before any devil's traps were used, before the shotguns triggered.
Sons-of-bitches got smarter.
And he assumes Crowley would have been hightailed it minutes ago if Bobby hadn't gone between the shrieking, crouching blonde girl and one of the grizzly-looking hunters — holding his hands up in the universe sign of defenseless.
"Crutcher, leave her. She's human," Bobby tells him, keeping his tone calm. "There's no point shootin' her."
"…How the hell do you know me?" The shotgun raises a little, angling to the left side of Bobby's muscular chest. The girl still on the tavern floor whimpers. Crutcher snaps, eyes wild, "Who the hell are you?"
A bullet whizzes into the air.
Blood drizzles out the ragged hole in Bobby's dark, sleeveless shirt.
He grunts, blinking — eyes stoic and a bright shade of crimson. "Hell's a good way of putting it, boy."
Before the hunter can get another chance to shoot, Crowley materializes behind him, twisting his neck until it cracks soundly.
His perfect, white teeth grit together, like he's the one with a bullet embedded in his lung.
"And we're takin' her someplace safe," Bobby replies, staring down at the awestruck, paling girl — not anything like Karen.
A dusty, forked road right smack in Montana wasn't what Bobby had in mind for 'someplace safe' but — a pissed off King of Hell is running the show at the moment, and they're all lucky enough to be out of the line-of-fire. "Go get yurself cleaned up, missy," Bobby scowls at her, cupping at the healing chest wound. "And no more crossroad demons."
She spares him a frightened, open-mouthed look before retreating, open-toed sandals kicking up sand.
"Not even a proper thank you," Crowley mutters, finally acknowledging his companion after the tense spot of silence.
Bobby shrugs. "Didn't get one as a hunter neither," he confirms, monotone.
"Well, aren't you just a model citizen of integrity…" Harvest gold eyes roll in irritation. "If that prat would have killed you, you realize it would have killed me, too? I'm not sure what you were expecting but I didn't sign up for a suicide pact."
In the same monotone, those hooded, blue eyes — a stranger's dead eyes — still pinned to the sliver of reddish horizon provided by the setting sun, Bobby points out, "Good thing you were faster than him."
A loud growl. "You know what's infuriating about you, Singer? You're bloody well impossible to read."
Somehow, this tilts Bobby's lips up into a small smile. "With the demon mojo…?" he presses, side-eyeing at Crowley.
"No more easier," and it's a knotty, bitter response — and for once, Bobby suspects he may have the upper hand.
He celebrates by yanking Crowley's suit lapels towards him with both of his hands, and melding their mouths together in a mean, scratchy kiss — and there's no avoiding the permanent six o' clock shadow on Bobby's new face. Not that the other demon seems to be complaining when Crowley utters a throaty, hungry groan and slides his hands along the back of Bobby's rumpled, Velvet Underground band shirt, resting against a pair of shoulder blades. The second time they've ever swapped saliva tastes less malefic, less like sulfur, with less of a grimace, and more like olfactive, woody cologne oil.
A content, deep rumble. "My, you're fast," Crowley whispers, thin lips shining spit-slick. "I expected to ease you into this…"
Bobby's fingers tighten, crushing the gray suit-fiber. "No one likes a smartass."
"What do you call this then," a laugh. Penetrating. "A lapse of judgment, Robert? Or were you merely curious about what it meant for demons and their meatsuits when getting to know each other biblically?"
"Suppose…" Bobby tries to get out his muddling, agitated thoughts, voice gruff, "this is my answer to yur offer."
A hot burst of murmured breath against Bobby's cheek, against a texture of dark stubble.
"Glad you've decided to see things… our way."
Crowley always wins.
AFTER ALL THE REQUESTS FOR A SEQUEL, IT GETS DONE. C: This partly goes out to Vladbride for her birthday. HAPPY READING, EVERYONE~~