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Spring Fic Exchange. Title: Even When I Lose, I Win For TheYmp. Art by Just_Ruth.



Title: Even When I Lose, I Win.
Author: [personal profile] candygramme
Recipient: [personal profile] theymp
Artwork: [personal profile] just_ruth
Original Prompts:
* From the POV of the Winchesters' newly-hired cleaner
* Dean's a neat-freak and Sam's kind of a slob
* Sam finds a grey hair

Rating: Gen
Word Count: ~2,850
Synopsis: Crowley needs a bolt hole while he heals. Where else would he go for help?
A/N: I really hope [personal profile] theymp doesn't mind that I didn't work the party in in the end. Maybe next time will be better. I owe my firstborn to [profile] spoonlessone, who did my beta with grace, style and commas. When she's finished with him, I will send him on to [personal profile] just_ruth, who did Crowley proud in the very beautiful cover art.







Prologue

Crowley had planned this meticulously. He’d studied arcane lore until he thought his eyeballs might boil. Although it went very much against the grain, he’d borrowed his mother’s grimoire, because what she didn’t know about magic could be written on a postage stamp. He knew that, because he’d written it on a postage stamp just to show her. She’d rolled her eyes and told him that his handwriting was illegible, but he knew that she’d been impressed really. It was Death and his two besties who had given him the idea in the end.

Anyway, to cut to the chase, he’d worked out how to get out of a situation that was becoming more and more distressingly boring every day. It seemed that his only solution was to pop his clogs. Nobody would look for him then, but how?

First, he needed to find himself a hapless and somewhat stupid demon. That wouldn’t be a problem, of course; they were all stupid and most of them were hapless, so pretty much any of ‘em would do.

Next, he needed to hypnotize his prey, and then get the halfwit into his body. That was the easy part. The dimwit would probably think it could become king of hell by masquerading as him. The tricky part would be maintaining the iron control over it from his convenient but flea ridden base in the rat. He figured that if he practiced for long enough it would become second nature.

Finally, he needed help to stage his grand exit, and who better to provide him with the backup he would need than the Winchesters, or as he liked to think of them, his very own Rocky and Bullwinkle. In the end, all his preparations paid off, and although he felt like he could sleep for a week after it was all done, he succeeded in killing himself very histrionically, and put an end to Mr. Crowley, King of Hell in such a way that he would be remembered as a hero. Well, for a little while, anyway.

While Bigfoot and Little Nell were bickering over Lucifer’s imminent fatherhood, he took possession of his favorite body again – a little dented this time – and scarpered. He felt mild regret as the angel bit the dust because, useless as he’d always been, he was really good at repairing wounds and stuff like that. Not that he was a slouch himself, it’s just that it took time to repair the kind of injuries his poor old meatsuit had sustained. Even longer at the moment, with a hole in his essence – if angels had Grace, he liked to think of what he had as Disgrace! Still, it would’ve been nice… Ah, well!

So, discretion being the better part of valor as far as he was concerned, Crowley legged it and went off to lie low somewhere while he healed.

At least, that was his intention, but it was amazing how bad he was at keeping a low profile. He was bored. There was nobody to talk to for a start, and he liked to talk. The scabs were only just beginning to itch when he’d had enough.

Act 1

He’d never learned to drive – why the hell (if you’ll pardon the expression) would he? However, owing to his injuries, his ability to translocate was, to put it bluntly, on the blink. He could do short hops – say fifty miles or so, but then he needed to recharge the batteries, and that took time. Way too much time if you asked him. Bottom line is, Crowley had to do a whole lot of walking – far more walking than he was happy with – and the distance from the Pacific Northwest to Kansas meant a lot of walking. A couple of times he’d manifested himself into the back of a truck after hearing the driver in the diner talking about going south, and that helped, but it still took him an almighty long time to reach his final destination.

And what a destination it was! Lebanon, Kansas, population 208, or possibly 210 if the MOL Bunker was within city limits. Crowley limped his way down the dusty street one late morning in June. Finally spotting the US Center Motel he decided that he should clean himself up a little before going visiting. Checking in, he busied himself showering off the grime from the journey.

The scabs itched more than ever, and he concentrated briefly, reaching for the demon power that would accelerate his healing and felt the tingle as it surged inside him, knitting flesh, patching lungs and… no! The magic was exhausted once again and now he was going to have to wait until tomorrow to make the jump into the bunker.

“Bollocks!” There was nothing to do now except spend the night, recuperate and then try again. Muttering to himself about ‘bloody Lucifer, and his bloody power trip, and his bloody attention seeking,’ he resigned himself to spending the night at the motel.

Sauntering out into the heat of the afternoon, he made his way down the main street to what passed as a mall and purchased some essentials, namely a couple of bottles of Johnny Walker Blue Label. If he had to rough it, he was going to make the best of things. He was just strolling back out into the sunlight with a couple of cigars, also essential, when he passed a notice board in the window of the tobacconist. He wasn’t sure quite what had caught his eye at first. There were handwritten ads for items for sale, landscaping, taxes done cheap, and there, down in the bottom left hand corner, a help wanted ad.

‘Cleaner wanted
Call Dean, 785-555-1234’

Interesting. Very interesting. A brief gesture of his right hand put the card into it and then into his pocket. Nodding to himself, he returned to the Center Motel with a spring in his step that had been missing since his ‘suicide.’

Act 2

The following morning, dapper as if he hadn’t died horribly by his own hand, he was knocking on the door of the bunker, smiling inwardly at the idea of his new plan.

It was Dean who pulled the door open. Dean, dressed in a green bathrobe, bare shins, feet stuffed into down-at-heels slippers, and his hair standing in tufts. Crowley watched as Dean’s face turned through half a dozen expressions from vaguely sleepy through astonishment to distaste.

“Hello, Squirrel.” Crowley took advantage of the pause while Dean decided whether to invite him in or choke the shit out of him. “I’m here to apply for the job.”

Sam, equally disheveled, had appeared behind Dean, and the pair stood gaping as Crowley seized the moment and sauntered past them both and down the stairs to the main room.

The place was a disgrace. Cups, glasses, empty liquor bottles and dirty plates littered the map table. There were books all over the floor and clothes littered the room. Something sticky had obviously been spilled on the floor under the table, and hadn’t been wiped up, and one of Dean’s Busty Asian Beauties magazines had fallen into it and seemed to have welded itself to the floor.

“Well, boys, you certainly seem to need me,” he said, looking around at the chaos. “How about it?”

“But… but I saw you die.” That was Sam, wildly rumpled, egg-stains on his T-shirt and a pair of jeans that appeared to be two weeks past a good wash.

“And die I did, much good it did anyone,” nodded Crowley. “And yet here I am. Large as life and twice as useful. Fact of the matter, boys, is that I need somewhere to lie low until I’m sure that other demons think I’m gone for good, so I figured you’d appreciate my particular brand of cleaning up for a while.”

“Are you serious?” Dean had found his voice at last. “You want to be our maid?”

“I prefer to think of myself as a butler.” Crowley winced a little at the mental image of a little white apron and a feather duster. “But I can see that you need someone effective and efficient. That would be me.”

Dean glared at him through narrowed eyes, and he could tell that Dean was trying to figure out his angle. Sam – who was now close enough that Crowley wished he could dunk Sam in soapy water and scrub him clean – was the one who finally voiced the question. “What’s in it for you?” he asked, folding his arms across his chest.

“It’s quite simple, Moose,” said the newly abdicated King of Hell. “No hidden strings. I’m what you might call rusticating. Like I told you before, the whole fissure to another world thing happened and I’m sick and tired of Hell. I’m fed up with demons and backbiting and subterfuge, and I’ve resigned. Now they all think I’ve popped my clogs, and I’ve been at great pains to have them believe that. Still putting that into effect has taken its toll on the old bod, and I need somewhere quiet to recuperate. I don’t want demons challenging me right now, while I’m repairing myself. A quarter of my essence went into that little lightshow I staged for Lucifer, and it’s going to take some time to grow it back. Besides, while I could probably take most of ‘em out quite happily, it’s bloody boring, and I’ve had enough. Besides, it just might be Lucifer who comes calling. I figured that you two jackasses could probably use my help, so here I am.” He looked around himself with a shudder. “Looks like I hit the nail on the head, didn’t I?”

Dean was still looking suspicious, so Crowley fixed Sam with his saddest gaze. “It wasn’t all flogging and juicy entrails, you know, Moose. I had to deal with politics.” He shuddered, and Sam’s face showed that he was weakening. “It was absolute hell, you know?”

Sam was the first to crack as Crowley knew he would be. “Look, Dean, we do need someone, and now that Cass is gone we don’t really know anyone that…”

“Sonofabitch,” grumbled Dean.

“You can say that again,” smirked Crowley, and finally Dean quirked an unwilling smile.

“God help me, I think I’m insane, but okay.” Get this place clean and tidy and the job is yours.” Dean pinched the bridge of his nose for a minute and then turned to head down the stairs. “I mean, look at this mess. It used to be so nice, but man, I tell you, I’m so sick of cleaning up after Sammy. We really need a trash compacter and a backhoe to cope with him. I’ve tried, but I give up. He’s too much for one man.”

Crowley nodded, clapped Dean on the shoulder as he walked past and smirked. “Nothing I can’t handle.” He gave Dean a smiling nod as he passed. “Leave it all to your dear old Uncle Crowley,” he murmured with a smug grin. “Even the Moose over there. This is going to be fun.”

Act 3

Setting the place to rights was no ordinary task. He’d enjoyed taking a hose to Sam until the muscle-bound twit cried uncle and started to keep himself clean again. Good thing too, because he’d begun to smell like a ferret. He shook his head at the inventive places the two Winchesters had managed to leave dirty crockery. Fortunately, although not up to carrying him far, his translocation skills were sufficient to get crusty plates and glasses to the kitchen, which, thankfully, was Dean’s domain and therefore pristine. The bathroom, however, was a different matter.

Sam had discovered grey hairs in his flowing mane, and instantly gone out to buy a pack of Feria Dark Iridescent Brown, and, while Crowley could see that the aforementioned mane was now indeed dark, iridescent and altogether magnificent, the towels were stained, the tiles were stained, the linoleum was stained and so were Sam’s ears. Everything Sam had touched was a bizarre shade of orange that offended Crowley’s professional reputation.

Demon magic didn’t touch it, no matter how hard he tried, and Crowley had to resort to sending away for a tube of DiDi 7 from a questionable shopping channel infomercial. It had taken days to arrive, by which time the demon ex-king was so frustrated he’d almost exploded Sam. It was only the thought that he’d have to clear up the mess that made that prevented him. Fortunately the DiDi 7 worked, but Crowley was still not amused.

It was time for an intervention.

His first attempt proved to be a failure. Asking Sam nicely resulted in the big, boneheaded moose oozing sincerity, as he promised to clean up his act and then carrying on exactly as before. So much for Plan A.

Plan B required some careful setup. First of all he would have to catch Moose when Squirrel wasn’t around to intervene. Secondly, he needed help. His essence was knitting together, but he still wasn’t capable of everything he’d been able to do back when he was still king. He sighed and shook his head. He’d taken so much for granted back then.

So he would need help, and he knew exactly how to get it. His first move was a summoning. With all that had previously gone down with the Winchesters. He wasn’t sure how he would manage it, but in fact, it proved easy. The personnel he was trying to reach had apparently been waiting just for this moment and were quite ready to play along.

He knew that Dean wouldn’t approve of his plan, so first of all he had to get Dean out of the way.
That was easy. He put together a shopping list that would keep Dean out of the bunker for an hour or two and sent him off in his beloved Impala to fetch the groceries. The next thing he needed, of course, was Sam.

He found Sam in the library, books spread over every flat surface, and one or two that weren’t quite so flat. There must have been something in Crowley’s eyes that gave away his mood, because Sam took one look at him and turned to run. It was with great pleasure that Crowley flung out his arm and pinned Sam up against the wall – a fly in amber imprisoned for all to admire.

“We’re going to have a full and frank discussion, Moose,” growled Crowley, striding up to where Sam hung, immobile and at his mercy. “From now on you’re going to clean up your own messes, aren’t you?”

Sam nodded frantically, but Crowley had been this route before.

“Oddly enough, I don’t believe you, so I’m going to make it easier for you to remember.” He waved through the open door to beckon in the beings he’d summoned. Death, somber in his black coat, led the group, and he was followed by Billie and Tessa. All three were wearing rather nasty smiles. “First of all, my good friends here are going to take you and show you the Empty. Bear in mind that there isn’t anything there for you to stain, fill with clutter or leave lying about. Second, allow me to introduce you to my faithful companion, Growley. He snapped his fingers and watched Sam blanch as his pet hellhound made its presence felt by putting its forelegs onto Sam’s shoulders and huffing fetid breath into Sam’s face. “Now, I’ve told Growley to watch over you for the next little while. He’s very anxious to get started, because I’ve told him that each time you drop something on the floor, or make a mess, or leave things less than you found them, he’s going to count them, and keep a tally. I’ve told him that once you reach the magic number, he can rip out your throat.”

“What’s the magic number?” quavered Sam.

“Not going to tell you,” smirked Crowley. “Could be one or it could be none, but you’d probably do as well to treat it as zero, just to be on the safe side, because once you hit that target, Bob’s your uncle.” He made a suggestive gesture with his finger across his throat, and producing a very realistic growl from somewhere deep in his abdomen. “Do we have agreement?”

Sam swallowed and nodded, and heaved a visible sigh of relief when Growley dropped down.

By the time Dean came back, Death and the two reapers were sitting with Crowley in the war room, sipping fine cognac and eating one of Dean’s recently baked pies at the beautifully polished table. Sam? Oh, he was serving them, and making sure that everything remained meticulously tidy, and if some of the bones Dean was saving for soup had disappeared from the fridge, well, where they went must forever remain a mystery.

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