Daylight, spent the night without you
But I've been dreamin' 'bout the lovin' you do
I'm over being angry 'bout the hell you put me through
Hey, man, bet you can treat me right
You just don't know what you was missin' last night
I wanna see you begging, say forget it just for spite
I think of you ev'ry night and day
You took my heart and you took my pride away
I hate myself for loving you
Can't break free from the the things that you do
I wanna walk but I run back to you
That's why I hate myself for loving you
Life in my little industrial studio was proving to be quite enjoyable. With help from my grandparents I had gathered plenty of furniture to make the modest, dusty space comfortable, and with the help of Stu Roberts I had executed a great deal of remodeling, brushed up on my photography skills, and managed to use his contacts in the local art scene to find buyers for some of my work. Therefore, I finally had a semi-steady income, and my worries were fading into the past. Kellie had hopped into her 1970 Corvette and tracked down the Winchesters, apparently, and was having a blast hunting with them (but I knew she was happiest about the fact that she got to be with Castiel again, and frankly I was happy for her). I had lost myself in my art, almost completely forgetting about my feelings for Dean, and finally being able to breathe again. I hadn't seen hide nor hair of Crowley for four months, since that night at the crossroads, and the guilt of my actions that night had receded into distant memory.
It was Valentine's Day, and despite being invited out by several old friends in valiant but vain attempts to distract me from the fact that I was single, I had decided it would be a good day to stay in the studio and attempt to draw a large charcoal portrait of Karl Urban for a Star Trek-themed art show in a few months. I had my music on full blast, which everyone on the third floor of the Russell Industrial Center knew meant to leave me alone with my work.
As the title track begin to play, however, the volume decreased dramatically.
Someone was in my studio.
"Who's there?" I called, turning away from my easel and rotating slowly in a circle, brandishing a sharpened piece of compressed charcoal as if it were a really tiny sword.
No one by the windows. Or the wall I devoted to displaying my weapons. Or the door. But as my eyes fell upon the bar, a figure of a man rose up from behind it.
"What, no whiskey? And you call this a bar?"
I didn't know if I was elated or infuriated to see the demon there, rifling through the various liquors under the mahogany counter and on the mirrored shelves behind it...or maybe it was because the bar was located under the lofted area that held my bed (which Stu had helped me build). Like it or not, though, he was there.
"You scared the hell out of me!" I shouted, chucking my charcoal angrily toward the easel, consequently giving Doctor McCoy a half-ass Hitler mustache.
"Well, I wouldn't say that," Crowley muttered, still searching my shelves. "Should I interpret that as a 'no'?"
"Fresh out, sorry," I said in a somewhat bitchy tone, walking over to my weapons wall and grabbing a cleaning rag from near the gun cabinet. Wiping the charcoal dust from my hands, I continued, "I might have drank it all to help me through a surrealism project...and a portrait of Aragorn."
He chuckled. "I suppose it's a good thing I brought you a housewarming gift then."
I turned in his general direction, intending to tell him to go away, to see that there was a bottle of Elijah Craig Bourbon sitting on the counter before him, along with two empty glasses.
Damn my love of whiskey.
I sighed in mild defeat. "Fine. Pour."
I heard him remove the stopper from the bottle as I returned to wiping my hands, followed by the sound of the bourbon flowing from the bottle into the glasses. As I set the cloth down, he approached me and held out one of the small glasses of amber liquid.
"I knew you'd see things my way," he commented with a smirk as I took the drink from him. Raising his own glass in a sort of casual toast, he said, "To your new life, my dear; may it continue to make you happier and happier every day."
My mood softening a bit, I looked up at him and replied, "Thank you Crowley...that was actually really sweet."
We clinked our glasses together and both drank, after which he cocked his head and probed, "When have I been anything other than kind to you, darling?"
I paused, trying to decide how I wanted to approach the situation. In all fairness, Crowley had never directly done anything unkind to me, so maybe I was being a tad unfair. However, the first couple months that I was in Detroit, I spent a great deal of time hating myself for the deal I had made; not that it cost me anything at that point in time, but I dreaded whatever it was he intended to ask of me in the future...not to mention how horrified I was of how Kellie and/or the Winchesters would react when they found out.
And then there was Christine.
"My car," I said, drinking some more of the bourbon. "You said she wasn't sentient."
"I did say she could still repair herself," he stated, raising a finger.
I set down my drink and leaned against the wall, carefully avoiding hitting my head against the handle of a battleaxe (no one suspected a thing about my past from the plethora of axes, maces, daggers, and swords I had hanging on that wall; they merely accepted it as one of my quirks). "That night at the crossroads, her headlights turned on all by themselves. When people walk in the middle of the street, I have to wrestle the steering wheel to stop her from running them down! She's absolutely batshit!"
"Has she tried killing you or anyone you've driven?"
He shrugged. "Then it seems to me she's responsive to your emotions toward people. You're angry at the people walking in the already hazardous snowy streets, and Christine feels your hatred. You like the people in the car with you, so she lets them live."
My stare hardened, and I began to inch my hand toward a twisted dagger mounted near my waist. "What happens if I'm suddenly angry at myself?"
"Well, then, you might die," he conceded, masking a chuckle with a sip of bourbon.
That was it. All of my hunter instincts rushed back to me with a vengeance.
I grasped hold of the golden handle of the dagger and tore it from the wall, slamming Crowley against the gun cabinet and pinning him there with my entire body, holding the blade of the dagger up against his throat.
"Hey, hey, easy on the bourbon!" he shouted, as I pushed the arm that was holding his drink forcefully against the cabinet. Amazingly, he didn't spill a single drop.
"What would happen if I took you for a ride, you filthy fucking demon?" I hissed, moving my face close to his.
The corner of his mouth twitched slightly. "What kind of ride are you referring to, love?"
I'm ashamed to admit that I felt my temperature rise as he said that, and it wasn't entirely from anger. But I wasn't going to give him the satisfaction of knowing that. Not this time.
"You know damn well what kind," I replied, pressing the blade against his neck a trifle harder, the cool steel flirting with the skin near his jugular.
His smile only grew. "I wonder."
I ignored the flutter in my chest and asked just as sternly, "What happens if I'm driving someone I like, but had a fight with? What if it's someone from my past?"
"Why would you care about that? If our deal was the only way you could leave your old life, your friends from back then must not be worth keeping."
"Don't you dare talk about Kellie like that, you sonuvabitch!" I roared, nicking his throat in frustration. Crowley barely winced as a slow trickle of scarlet trailed down from the cut. "She was my partner, and thanks to you I betrayed her! Don't you dare talk like you know her!"
"Oh," he said in a whisper, a hint of revelation in his stare. "I understand now...those beautiful hazel eyes of yours have been keeping secrets, haven't they darling?"
"Yes...the weapons, the reflexes, the apparent hatred of demons...it all makes sense now."
I failed to hide the fear in my eyes, and Crowley grinned like a child who just solved his first multiplication problem. Meeting my gaze, he spoke slowly.
"You're a hunter."
"I was a hunter," I corrected, not backing down. "But just because I'm out of the game doesn't mean I forgot how to dispose of scum like you."
"Once a hunter, always a hunter," Crowley argued. "It stays in your blood. Really though, now you're calling me scum? Forgive me, but aren't you the woman who kissed me three times at the crossroads for one deal?"
"I wasn't thinking clearly," I grumbled, toying with the idea of cutting him again. "I was trying to forget a guy, I had just had that huge fight with Kellie, I was tired, I was emotional...and you, you just showed up out of nowhere and dropped a sexual frustration bomb on top of everything!"
He seemed flattered. "I'm sexually frustrating to you?"
"Watch it," I warned, adjusting my grip on the weapon. "I could still slit your vessel's throat."
"I could easily overpower you, Genevieve," he reminded me, "hunter or not."
I arched an eyebrow somewhat doubtfully, even though I knew he was right. "Then why haven't you?"
"Why haven't you?"
I paused, letting my guard down briefly. If he were any other demon, I would have followed through with my threat right then just to prove him wrong. Hell, if he were any other demon, I probably wouldn't have made a deal with him in the first place. What was so damn special about the King of the Crossroads that my bloodlust quelled around him? There was something about him...something in his eyes, his demeanor, his voice...something about the fact that he let me keep my soul. I had considered that it was merely my outward attraction to him, but then the look in his eyes when he spoke of the future deal crept back into my mind: soft, almost yearning, which from the data I gathered about him since from other sources was extremely uncharacteristic. Which meant that not only was he an exception to me, but I was an exception to him. It intrigued me. He intrigued me.
A gust of frigid February wind knocked one of the old lead windows open and shot through the studio, cutting through me and making me shake violently.
Crowley saw his chance, and he took it.
The instant my guard had dropped enough, he snatched the dagger from my hand, picked me up, and switched places with me, pinning me in much the same manner. Downing the rest of his drink, he tossed the glass aside, causing it to shatter against the cold concrete floor. He moved so his mouth was near my ear, his lips ever so lightly brushing against it.
"Why did you falter, I wonder?" he breathed, trailing the tip of the dagger from just behind my other ear, tracing my jawline before redirecting its route downward to rest on my jugular; the sensation was both terrifying and exhilarating.
My mind was spinning.
Should I tell him? No, fucking idiot...even though I really want to. He does seem to treat me differently than other demons have, but he's the King of the Crossroads. Doesn't that automatically make him worse than the others?
"I think you know," I forced, trying to keep my voice as steady as possible. I wanted to deny it, but it was exceedingly difficult to ignore those unnatural urges when he had me pinned up against a cabinet, my legs practically around his waist.
"Do you have any idea how dangerous it is to threaten me, darling?" he whispered almost menacingly, pressing the blade against the side of my throat. "Even the vaguest notion?"
"Please," I whined, struggling to move my ear away from his mouth without cutting the opposite side of my neck; I have incredibly sensitive ears, and sometimes all it takes is someone breathing on them to arouse me.
He gave a dark chuckle, making my entire body break out into goosebumps.
"Please, what? Do you really think begging for mercy is going to save you?" he inquired, nibbling on my earlobe.
"Crowley," I moaned weakly, my breath hitching sharply as his lips abandoned my ear for my equally-sensitive neck, kissing it tenderly, yet savagely. I tried to resist, reluctantly tried to jerk my head away, but he moved his hand to grasp at my long brown hair, letting the dagger clatter to the ground.
Moving so that he could look me in the eyes, he purred, "If I didn't know better...I'd say you were enjoying this."
I smirked. "Maybe I am...ahh!"
Crowley had begun to ravage my neck again, this time discovering an exceptionally sensitive spot just below my ear. I gasped loudly, my back arching and my legs completely wrapping around his waist.
"You're definitely enjoying this," he mused, allowing me to free my arms and run my hands through his hair.
"Yes, but so are you," I countered, as he playfully bit down on the base of my neck, making me accidentally scratch his scalp.
He leaned back to face me again. "You sound awfully certain of that."
I giggled, before moving my mouth to his ear and whispering, "You think I can't feel that, sweetheart?"
He gave me a devious smile, wrapping his arms around me and lifting me off the cabinet, carrying me over to my dining table and laying me down on it, sending a pewter candelabra and several cups crashing deafeningly to the floor.
"Oh, can you now, love?" he said, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a rather sizable, ornate butterfly knife. Leaning over me, he flipped it open in a blur of marbleized crimson and onyx, reaching down to hold its steel blade against my throat. "Not exactly the hard shaft you were expecting, is it?"
I reached for his tie, pulling him down closer to me. Our noses nearly touching, I replied, "No, but it'll do."
"Good." He closed the knife and placed it in the hand that wasn't gripping his tie. "Because it's yours."
I arched an eyebrow.
"It would make a lovely addition to your expansive weapons collection, and just think, you can use this one to threaten my life next time," he smirked. "Happy Valentine's Day, darling."
I gave a breathy laugh, tugging at his tie to bring his face even closer to mine. I kissed him slowly and gingerly, savoring the faint flavor of whiskey that still clung to his lips.
"Genevieve, is everything oka—WOAH WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?"
My eyes snapped open at the voice, and I pushed Crowley off of me to the floor amongst the assorted tableware, sitting bolt upright.
"Stu!" I exclaimed, as my gaze fell on my old photography professor, standing in the narrow entrance hallway of my studio. Sliding off the edge of the table and standing to face him, I asked, "What brings you over here?"
"I heard glass breaking, and then I heard a lot of crashing, and I just wanted to make sure you were alright," he explained, redirecting his topaz-blue eyes to Crowley, who had just risen to his feet. Interest (and more than a hint of suspicion) overtaking his initial embarrassment, he inquired, "And who is this?"
Stu was one of the few people I could be frank with, but he had no idea I was a hunter. Beat-up sneakers, old blue jeans, Detroit pride tee, and curly silver hair tied back in a ponytail...he had traveled the world numerous times, and yet probably didn't even know what a hunter was. I couldn't very well tell him that Crowley was a crossroads demon, especially considering that he had walked in on him lying on top of me. There was really only one answer I could give.
I could feel Crowley's shocked expression burning into the back of my neck. Stu didn't notice, however, primarily because his expression mirrored Crowley's.
"Your boyfriend?" Stu repeated, slowly recovering. "I thought you weren't seeing anyone. What's his name?"
"Crowley," I answered without thinking.
Fuck, I thought, cringing. Of course, normal people have last names.
But of course it wasn't just that. After my father made it clear he wanted nothing more to do with me, Stu took it upon himself to become the father figure in my life. And he had just walked into my studio to see broken glass and assorted dishes on the ground, and a man who looked much closer to his age than mine lying on top of me. In addition to that, I had just remembered the fresh wound on Crowley's neck. None of this exactly looked good.
"McLeod. Crowley McLeod," Crowley replied calmly. "And you are?"
I tilted my head, trying to hide my confusion; I hadn't expected Crowley to come to my aid after I had just held him at knifepoint.
"Stu Roberts, Genevieve's photography mentor," Stu answered, leery. "MacLeod? Like Highlander?"
Crowley chuckled, walking over to stand beside me. "Not quite; it's spelled differently."
"Ah, well, pleased to meet you!" Stu forced a grin, extending his hand, which Crowley shook.
"Likewise," Crowley answered with a smile.
"Your...your neck," Stu hesitated. "What exactly happened?"
I cringed. If he found out I cut him, he'd probably assume he was attacking me.
Crowley gestured in the direction of the broken glass on the floor. "Cut myself."
Stu arched an eyebrow, turning over one of the shards with the toe of his shoe. "How did you manage that?"
"It just shattered in his hand," I explained. "It's one of the ones from my grandparents. That's old glassware for ya."
Stu turned back to me. "So this is why you couldn't go out with Becca and I tonight."
Stu and his girlfriend, Rebecca, didn't believe that anyone should be alone on Valentine's Day; ergo they had invited me out to dinner with them. I had declined, mainly because I wanted to be left alone with my art for the day, though I did appreciate the offer.
"Oh, by the way," he continued, pushing up his full-framed gold glasses, "your grandmother called me. She wanted me to remind you about your grandfather's birthday dinner tomorrow."
"Oh hell," I said, my eyes growing wide. "I almost forgot."
Stu laughed, a phantom of his usual amiable attitude coming back. "You're welcome. Hey, you should probably bring your man with you; I'm sure they'd love to meet him."
I inhaled pensively through my teeth. "I don't think that's such a good—"
"–nonsense darling," Crowley interrupted, placing a hand on the small of my back. "I'd love to meet your grandparents."
I did my best to conceal the mixture of pain and terror that was threatening to take over my face at any moment. Just the thought of taking a demon home to my grandparents was enough to give me a small heart attack. Not to mention that at the moment I wanted to punch Stu for suggesting it. It was clear he didn't approve of Crowley, but I hadn't expected him to. My guess was that he wanted me to receive the same reaction from my grandparents just as a little extra "you done goofed".
"Then it's settled!" Stu exclaimed, clapping his hands together with a hint of finality. "Since it looks like you're pretty busy, I'll call your grandma for you and let her know, kay?"
"Sounds great," I said with as much forced enthusiasm as I could muster. "Have a good time, tell Becca I said hi."
"I will. Later!"
After Stu had ambled out of my studio, I pivoted sharply to Crowley.
"Meeting my grandparents? Are you crazy?"
"No crazier than you," he retorted. "Your boyfriend? You couldn't think of anything better? I thought you far more clever than that."
"Well what the hell else was I supposed to tell him?" I implored, throwing my arms out to the side and walking over to my black leather couch (none of my furniture exactly matched). Flopping down onto it pitifully, I added, "Given the circumstances, there weren't many other options... 'Hi Stu, this is my friend the crossroads demon!' Yeah, that would have gone over fuckin' beautifully. Besides, it's not that far of a stretch...when I was in Stu's photography class, there was a twenty-year-old girl dating a sixty-year-old."
He huffed, sitting alongside me. "Fair point."
We sat there in silence for a while, listening to the ambient bustle of traffic from I-75 floating in the still-open window. We found ourselves in quite the predicament.
"I suppose we have no choice but to sell it, my dear."
My mouth gaped. I couldn't believe he was actually willing to play along with this whole stupid charade for my sake.
"Wait, what?" I asked, as he got up and walked over to the bar.
"You heard me quite clearly," he stated, grabbing two unbroken glasses from above the counter and reopening the bottle of Craig. "Your grandparents are expecting you to show up with your boyfriend tomorrow, who is apparently me. It would be best not to disappoint them."
I scoffed, rolling my eyes. "And how exactly are we supposed to do that? I know absolutely nothing about you, and unless you've invaded my mind without my knowledge, you know very little about me. We can't just keep making shit up as we go along."
"I agree wholeheartedly," he said, taking his place next to me once more and handing me one of the glasses.
He said nothing.
"Well...? What are we going to do?"
Crowley took a long sip of bourbon, leaned forward, and then directed his brown eyes toward mine.
"What would you like to know?"