When Crowley knocks at the Motel door he has a quip on the end of his tongue, the King and Master of all Demons, Keeper of the Hellhounds, Gate Keeper to Hell. And he is stood in the concrete grave of a parking lot, outside a plywood door waiting for an embossed invitation. Even his long dormant Meat Suit twitches in annoyance.
The door mercifully opens; he opens his mouth to offer his witty rejoinder…
…And is greeted with a sneeze in the face.
His eyes snap shut on instinct but he feels the flecks of spittle sprayed over his face, spattering his cheeks and clinging in his hair.
"Sorry" a voice mumbles, it doesn't sound terribly apologetic.
With a snap of his arm Crowley whips out the handkerchief from his suit pocket and gently dabs at his skin, when he is fairly sure he is no danger of snot in the eyes he looks up to see the youngest Winchester staring back at him through bleary eyes.
"Charming," he mutters, pocketing his handkerchief. "If you wanted to take a rain check you could have called me. What's the saying? 'Say it, don't spray it'"
The hunter gives him what Crowley has learnt is lovingly called 'Bitch Face' (he means it in no way lovingly, but the name seems to fit) and nods him through.
If the charming greeting wasn't clue enough, the rainforest of used, germ ridden tissues littering the floor and surfaces would have been a big hint.
"You have to be kidding me."
Crowley has lived millennia in Hell, and squatted in the most unsavoury of hovels, but even he hesitates before stepping over the threshold. The heat coming from the stuttering room heater is stifling, as soon as the door shuts behind him Crowley misses the breeze, even if it carried the whiff of garbage.
Sam ignores him, as is expected these days. The longer it takes to find a way into Purgatory (namely the longer he is away from his brother) the less and less he talks. Not that Crowley cares overly much, but it isn't much fun poking a moose that won't even make a moose sound in response.
"You couldn't wait 24 hours until we dragged your brother back could you."
Sam hunches over to the furthest bed, dropping his overly large body onto the edge and leaning lethargically down to pick up a boat that he uses as a boot.
"Sorry if a few germs hurt your delicate sensibilities Crowley."
Sam's voice sound raw, like the souls on the rack that have spent months endlessly screaming. Or... Crowley's eyes divert to the pharmacy hanging out on the kitchenette counter… been up all night coughing.
It takes Crowley a few moments to notice what is going on, it isn't until Sam stumbles up from where he was tying up his laces and has to use the wall for balance that he catches up.
Crowley stares on disbelievingly "You can't think we are doing this today?"
"Why not?" Sam rasps, pushing sweaty bangs from his face. His skin is pale, almost grey and Crowley can smell his fever from here.
"Because I like my head attached thank you very much."
Sam rolls his eyes and rights himself, so now is standing under his own steam, if not totally upright. "I'm fi-"
A coughing fit cuts off that terrific lie. Crowley knows a thing or two about lying, and Sam is one of the most unaccomplished liars in the history of the earth. Even when he spent an entire year in a web of deceits it was only his brother's pig-headedness that gave him the illusion of competence in that arena.
Sam walks (perhaps it would be more suitable to call it a stumble) over to the kitchenette, his hand collapsing down onto a brown bottle of questionable liquid.
Crowley watches for a moment as shovel-hands attempt the devious plot of breaking the child seam, fumbling it several times before the bottle drops to the floor, rolling listlessly under the counter.
Sam shoulders slump, he really cuts such a pathetic figure, like that documentary Crowley watched one non-apocalyptic afternoon about baby Elephants.
"You can't handle a bottle of Cough Syrup yet you want me to allow you to crack open the back gate to Purgatory?" Crowley raises an imperious eyebrow. "Call me when you can stand straight."
He turns to leave, perhaps to find some poor sods soul to deal, or maybe see if that Elephant documentary is on again. Then there's a weight bouncing into his side.
Sam collides with his side, his hand clumsily grabbing at his thousand dollar suit. Crowley looks at the attachment with a sneer, thinking of his dry cleaning bill.
"I'm fine I swear. We can do it today, it has to be today."
The hunter looks worse close up, his eyes wide and glassy, the large bruises under his eyes melding with the flushed skin of his cheeks.
"I'm sorry to state the obvious Moose but you are not 'fine'. You are germ ridden and a liability. If you go anywhere today but a bed you'll get yourself killed."
"Didn't know you cared?"
"About you? No. About me? Oh yes. And if I am forced into assistance by a half giant I would appreciate a half giant that can shoot straight and recite enochian without…" he looks down at his suit, absently wiping at the remaining snot splashes in repulsion, "…interruptions."
Sam's snort turns into another coughing fit that doesn't seem to want to end, listing fully, muffling his coughs into Crowley's silk shirt. That's Crowley's limit right there. He shoves none too gently, sending the quivering mass towards the bed.
Sam falls backwards with an 'umph' and almost immediately turns his face to groan weakly into the pillow.
This; these ridiculous weaknesses, is why Crowley hates lowering himself to work /with/ humans.
A weak tug, this time on his trouser leg, stops his second attempt at flee. "Please"
Ah, these are those 'Puppy Dog Eyes' Crowley has heard countless Angels and Demons complain about, in various stages of bemusement and irritation. Crowley just scowls.
"Please… Dean - we have to go get him."
Crowley very purposefully removes the offending appendage from his person, brushing a hand down the pleat of his trousers.
"Purgatory will be there tomorrow, and the day after, and the next. Every day until the end of time. We have one shot at this and I am not losing my bid for Purgatory because of your co-dependency issues."
Sam's whole body slumps then and he lets out a very suspicious sniffle into the pillows. That's most definitely Crowley's cue to leave.
When he gets to the door he opens it, the fresh(ish) air rushes into the musty room, he takes a step forward, to freedom his mind overzealously exclaims. And then stops. And looks up.
And let's out a very heartfelt groan.
"A devils trap! Really?"
A loud snore responds to him, he swirls back to find his captor fast asleep, face squished out of shape in the old mattress.
"Sam!" he barks, striding over to the slumbering Neanderthal and shoving at his meaty shoulder. "Let me out of here. Sam!"
Sam squirms and swats absently at Crowley's rough touch "Mph. Lee'me 'lone De'" and then rolls over and lets out a sound akin to a very large hibernating bear.
After that no moment of poking, prodding and yelling elicits even a stir.
The next time Sam stirs Crowley has positioned himself into front of the crappy TV, with a bottle of not absolutely awful whisky. One advantage Sam has over his brother, he muses, is superior taste (or just taste) in liquor.
Hunter's senses kicking in, Sam sense's an unfamiliar body in his room, sitting up as quickly as his failing body will allow. Crowley is soon met with the familiar welcome of a shotgun barrel.
"And good evening to you too" he mumbles before turning back to the TV. He actually found that documentary on Elephants when he hotwired the TV to get cable. The little ones were actually not totally detestable. Not that he would ever admit that to anyone… ever. He takes a large sip of whisky, revelling in the burn on the way down.
Sam's face does an amazing twitch that manages to look pissed and confused all at the same time. The kids face is quite the chameleon. "You're still here?"
"Yes. It seems you didn't want to let me go just yet. If you wanted to go steady, you only had to ask. I like a girl without these theatrics though."
Sam glances upwards to the ceiling, the large red devils trap circling the room and sighs before falling back into the bed. "Sorry. Give me a minute."
"No rush, please take your time."
There is a telling pause then: "Is that… are they elephants?"
Thankfully Crowley is saved the hassle of answering that by another coughing fit. It's a deep grating cough that sounds like it comes from the kid's feet. And loud, very loud. So loud he can't here the commentary any more.
Sighing, he shoves to his feet and returns from the kitchen with a bottle of water.
Sam's surprise at least stops the incessant coughing and he looks from the offered bottle to the demon and back again.
"It's just water," Crowley rolls his eyes. "Don't strain yourself."
"You were making a racket." Sam takes tentative sips, wary eyes still on Crowley as he retakes his perch on the opposite bed. "Well you look great" he quips.
Sam's hair is sticking up an a thousand different directions and there is dried drool on his chin. But his eyes are more focussed and the bruises beneath them less black.
"Shut up," he mumbles, pushing himself to unsteady feet. "I just need to," he waves at the drugs piled on the counter, "power up and I'll be good. We're doing this tonight."
Crowley watches Sam fiddle with another bottle, pills this time. Before sighing in frustration and snatching the offending article.
"How is this my life"
"I'll do it" Sam huffs trying to snatch it back but Crowley uses his highly advanced manoeuvring skills (he can walk in a straight line) to move out of the beast's way.
"No you won't, knowing my damned luck you'd brain yourself on the carpet. You just sit… I am the King of Hell I am sure I can work out how to open a bottle of pills"
Sam starts mumbling something about instructions. But Crowley /does not/ read instructions. Bleeding a very small amount of demon juice into the seal he gives it a final tug… Scattering little white pills everywhere.
"Bravo" Sam deadpans, punctuated with a cough.
"It's open isn't it?" Crowley snaps back. "Just pick one off the floor."
The rest of the paraphernalia lined up on the counter look just as complicated, apart from one small tube with just a screw top. Picking it up Crowley easily twists off the cap, giving himself a pleased grin until he gets a whiff of the contents.
"Oh god what is that?"
"It's vapour rub"
"Is it used to burn nostril hair?"
"No – you rub it, on your chest."
Crowley looks at the foul smelling gunk and then to the broad chest in front of him. "Yeah – you're on your own with that one."
… At least Sam catches the tub when Crowley throws it at him.
Sam, Crowley learns, finds it hard to find suits that fit him. He also hates beetroot and likes a nice long bath every now and then. Crowley also learns Sam is chatty when hopped up on cold medication.
He has to remind himself at least three times that he needs the overgrown ape so can't leave a bloody corpse behind. So, understandably, he is astoundingly thankful when the first thing they see through the swirling black hole into the eternal forests of Purgatory is the rough face of Dean Winchester, popping out from behind a tree.
"Sammy?" the hunter gets a little lined crease of confusion between his eyebrows. Really, it doesn't take much.
Sam's big body bounds past Crowley, almost upending him in a questionable pile of goo.
Then there is hugging, of course there is. Dean latches on to Sam's large shoulders, clinging one hand into Sam's unruly locks and Sam's hands are fisted tightly into the dirty material of Dean's shirt.
After a few brotherly loving moments Dean pulls back, the permanent frown on his face deepening
"Sammy? Are you sick?!"
"I'm fi-" Sam breaks off again to cough.
Then the frown morphs to a scowl and points Crowley's direction "You let him come down here sick!"
"You're welcome" Crowley huffs and turns to surveys his new domain.
It doesn't really look like much right now, but a bit of grunt work and TNT and wham in some state of the art torture racks; it will feel just like home.
He can still hear Dean fussing and muttering, leading a still spluttering Sam out through the portal back to the real world…
"Ewww – Sam!"
…Or perhaps he will just build himself a sanctuary, find every anti-Winchester charm he can and hole up there for eternity. It's sounding like a fine idea at the moment.