Aziraphale sipped from a fresh, steaming cup of tea, focused his attention for the fourth time on the page that had been laid open in front of him for half an hour, and tried to ignore the slowly tightening, twisting knot in the pit of his stomach. He glanced up from the book again, looking out the window and down the drive, willing himself to see the Bentley's headlights coming up the road.

His eyes met only darkness.

Crowley had been gone far too long.

Of course, he couldn't be sure of that, really, could he? Because Crowley hadn't told him where he was going, so how could he have any idea how long it was supposed to take?

But I know he was planning on spending the evening here, with me… and whatever his surprise may have been… Surely he'd have let me know if he intended to be gone for hours

They'd been left alone for several years now, by both Heaven and Hell - but Aziraphale knew better than to think that they'd been forgotten entirely. It was perhaps unlikely, but certainly within the realm of possibility that some demon or angel might have decided to make a move against them.

Against Crowley.

He reminded himself that Crowley would be deeply annoyed if he knew how much Aziraphale was worrying right now.

He was a grown demon, wasn't he? Perfectly capable of taking care of himself. He'd gotten out of plenty of scrapes without any assistance from Aziraphale, thanks ever so much, and gotten Aziraphale out of his fair share, too, for that matter, hadn't he?

I'm fine, angel, stop your fretting and drink your tea.

He could almost hear Crowley's voice, affectionately frustrated, warm despite his mildly caustic words.

He wished he could hear Crowley's voice - coming in the door right now, with cheerful, breathless explanations of how he'd been held up and what had taken so long.

He's been so happy lately… so at peace. We both have…

Aziraphale's stomach clenched painfully, a heavy sense of dread settling over him.

He'd be off guard… not expecting an attack… I certainly haven't been expecting one…

And wouldn't that be precisely the right time for an enemy to strike?

He walked to the phone and picked it up, dialing Crowley's cell phone, his heart sinking when he did indeed hear Crowley's voice - on his voicemail.

"Hello, darling, it's me," he sighed, stretching the telephone's cord to its limit so as to stare out the window into the darkness again. "Perhaps your errand is just… taking a bit longer than you expected? But - I thought you'd be home by now, and - I'm worried, Crowley. Please, just… call me back. Just to let me know you're all right…"

On the street outside the darkened, closed village bakery, on the seat of a locked but running vintage Bentley, a cell phone lit up… and rang, and rang, and rang, with no one to hear or answer it.

Once Pervy's spell had been successfully put in place, a single Latin word was all it took to invoke the pain that Crowley had felt when it'd first been activated - the all-consuming agony that sucked all the oxygen from Crowley's lungs and left him completely incapacitated with suffering, a hair's breadth from begging, just to make it end.

And a single Latin word stopped the pain, as well.

Of course… just to be sure it was working properly… the sadistic little bastard had to test it out a time or two. Or three.

Or thirty.

"Any time I want," he threatened, crouched down, as near to the barrier as he could get without quite touching it. "Are we clear on that, Crowley? I can bring you down in a split second, like that... " He snapped his fingers, and Crowley hated himself for flinching. "... if you cross me. Do you understand?"

The pain from the last time still lingered in Crowley's taut, aching limbs, his entire body braced for more - his mind certain that he couldn't take any more. His response was weary, sluggish, as he nodded slowly, still gasping for breath.

"Answer me," Pervy demanded, low and warning.

"Yes," Crowley hissed out, exhausted, casting a resentful glare in the boy's direction, taking a moment to try again to catch his breath before grinding out, "I understand." He turned his face away, adding, muttered under his breath, "Bastard."

"Good." The light, casual tone of the boy's voice was underlaid with a controlled, tense note of irritation. "We'll have to work on those manners of yours, won't we?"

Crowley braced himself as Pervy rose to his feet - but he didn't use the spell to punish Crowley again. Instead, he just moved back toward his work area, perusing his supplies.

"But for now… on to the next step."

Crowley settled into a half-sitting, half-kneeling position on the floor, drawing in deep breaths, closing his eyes for a moment as he tried to recover. At last he replied in weary resignation. "Which is?"

Pervy smiled at him. "You're gonna like this part. Expanding the borders of that trap, so that you can move around in the house. So that you can guard my house when I'm not here."

Crowley glanced over toward the girl, who was calmer now, as it'd been a good hour at least since Pervy had gone anywhere near her. She was quiet, watching with wide, wary eyes; he could see the intelligence in her face, knew that she was listening closely to everything that was happening around her - even if most of it certainly had to be challenging everything she'd ever thought she knew of reality.

"You can't just endlessly sit in that circle." Pervy nodded toward the girl. "And she can't stay tied up all the time. That way lies loss of circulation and gangrene and limbs falling off, and…" He shook his head with a little grimace. "I didn't sign up for that level of gross."

"Just the creepy rapist level of gross, then," Crowley remarked, staring down at the markings etched into the floor beneath him. "Well, if that's all…"

Pervy looked up at him again with a tense, tolerant smile, but there was a trace of anger in his eyes.


His tone remained mild, casual - but carried enough warning to send a little shiver down Crowley's spine.

He went quiet, waiting - thinking - as Pervy explained what he was doing, in an infuriatingly patronizing tone, as if he was speaking to a particularly stupid child.

"When I'm finished, you'll be able to move throughout the house freely." He paused, amending, "Relatively freely. Certain rooms are off limits. To you, and to her. The spell will keep you inside this house, and out of the off-limits areas." He cast a malicious grin at Crowley. "You'll keep her inside the house and out of the off-limits areas. If you know what's good for you. You both belong to me - and there's nothing you can do about that. So don't even try."

Crowley fairly burned with frustrated anger. He was no one's trained guard dog - no matter how much he might have wanted to rip the boy's throat out with his teeth.

And he wanted no part of whatever violation Pervy intended to inflict on his female captive.

He stayed silent in the center of the circle, watching closely as his captor performed this new spell - watching, and waiting. Because the one fact that stood out to him among Pervy's super-villain monologuing was that when this spell was complete, when the barrier was extended… the boy would be within his reach.

He was going to have a chance.

Crowley remained on his knees, quiet and non-threatening, even as he felt the constant electric crackle of energy, the tension of the barrier around him, begin to ease as it shifted outward. When Pervy finished the Latin and gave him an expectant look, nodding to indicate that he should test his new limits, Crowley climbed carefully to his feet. He stretched his limbs slowly, then edged toward the former limits of the barrier. Carefully, he reached out to touch nothing where it had been… took a single, cautious step out of the circle, looking down at it for a long moment.

Then he lifted his eyes, glowing with menace, and gave the boy a slow, dangerous smile.

With a snarl, fangs extended, he lunged for his throat.

Crowley's attack was repelled, just before he would have touched his target, the breath driven from his body by a powerful force, like slamming into a brick wall - if said brick wall was somehow electrified, sending a tremendous jolt of agony through his body on impact. Crowley crumpled to the floor, gasping as the pain faded out, nearly as swiftly as it had hit.

"Well, that was stupid," Pervy glared down at him, smug, perhaps a bit amused despite his anger. "You think I'd give you this much freedom of movement without taking some protective precautions?"

His smile vanished.

A single word of Latin passed his lips, for the thirty-first time.

He let the pain go on far longer than he had yet, watching Crowley with cold, impassive eyes as Crowley's entire body seized up, choked cries of helpless suffering wrenched from his lips as the searing agony coursed through him.

Finally, he spoke the word to end the punishment.

He crouched down to face Crowley while Crowley struggled to regain his composure, to catch his breath. His vision was swimming, his stomach churning. He flinched as Pervy reached for him, catching a handful of his hair and jerking him in closer.

"You can't leave," he reiterated, quiet and emphatic. "You can't hurt me. If you try - that's what happens." He paused, smiling as he added, "I can hurt you, though. And I can hurt her."

Crowley's stomach dropped, but he swallowed slowly, staring at the floor between them - unwilling to show his captor how effective the threat was.

Pervy used his grip on Crowley's hair to tilt his head back, insisting on eye contact, and Crowley's jaw clenched against the searing pain in his scalp as the boy leaned in closer, his words clipped and measured.

"So you're going to behave yourself. Aren't you?"

Crowley glared up at him, his chest heaving as he still struggled to regain his breath, but remained stubbornly defiant.

Crowley's gaze followed the boy's hand as he reached down to pick up the cattle prod from the floor at his feet. He tensed and braced himself - but then, Pervy cast his gaze slowly, meaningfully, toward the girl across the room. Crowley's back was turned to her, but he could hear her reaction, heard the choked little sound of terror she made in her throat as she understood the threat. Pervy waited until Crowley met his gaze again, his eyebrows raised expectantly.

"Yes," Crowley hissed, resentful but defeated. "Yes, fine, all right…"

The young man studied Crowley for a long, tense moment, eyes narrowed and speculative. Finally, seemingly satisfied, Pervy released his grip on Crowley's hair and stood up, leaving him there on his knees. "Good."

Then, he turned and started toward the girl with swift, purposeful steps.

Crowley's stomach lurched. "I said yes, all right?" he protested. "Leave her alone!"

He got quickly to his feet, as the girl scrambled back into the corner, trying uselessly to put some distance between herself and Pervy before he reached her. With a snap of his fingers, Crowley was across the room and standing between them. Pervy stopped, disbelief on his face, his fist flexing around the handle of the cattle prod.

Crowley glanced down at it for a moment, swallowing hard, and then met the boy's eyes, his voice low and warning.

"I said leave her alone."

'Yeah, you did." There was a disarming note of amusement in Pervy's voice, but a malicious light in his eyes. "Twice." He jabbed the prod at Crowley, but Crowley caught it, blocking it.

Immediately the searing pain of the spell overcame him, and Crowley dropped like a stone to the floor, his arm wrapped across his torso, his entire body shaking. Pervy crouched down next to him, the prod resting across his knees.

"And then," he continued speaking, his casual tone utterly unchanged, "you had the nerve to attack me."

The pain was fading, but Crowley was still too slow to avoid it when the boy pressed the cattle prod into his ribs, right where he'd struck before. He held it there for a few seconds before withdrawing it, giving Crowley a minute to recover - so that he could feel it when he did it a second time, this time putting the weapon to the side of Crowley's neck.

When the stars faded from before Crowley's eyes and his vision came back into focus, he found that he'd collapsed with his face to the floor. Each breath felt like inhaling shards of glass into aching lungs. With an effort he pushed himself back up to his knees, to see Pervy waiting with a patient smile. When at last he met the boy's eyes with a bitter glare, Pervy raised two fingers between them.

"That's one for trying to hurt me," he explained, quiet and calm. "And that's one for thinking you can tell me what to do." He drew in a sharp little breath as if just remembering something he'd forgotten, and then raised a third finger. "And one more," he declared, standing up straight over Crowley's kneeling form. "For trying to keep me from what's mine."

Crowley cringed as he took a step forward - but he didn't shock Crowley again. Instead, he stepped past him, closing in on the girl.

"No," Crowley gasped out, though he lacked the strength to try to get between them again. His limbs felt numb and heavy, and wouldn't respond to his brain's frantic demands that he do something, anything to stop him!

Pervy held the cattle prod against the girl's arm, and she let out a plaintive, muffled scream.

"Stop it!" Crowley protested, the words anguished and quaking, and not even the slightest bit intimidating. "Leave her alone!"

"Or you'll what?" Pervy snapped, though as he spoke he finally withdrew the weapon and turned to face Crowley again, towering over him.

Closing the slight distance between them, he grabbed Crowley's hair and yanked his head back with one hand, holding the cattle prod a bare inch from Crowley's throat. Crowley weakly snapped his fingers, willing himself across the room and out of the boy's grasp - but nothing happened. He swallowed convulsively, unable to move, unable to look away from the blue sparks of electric light as Pervy pressed the button… just barely too far from Crowley's skin to burn him.

"Yeah… you've still got access to a few tricks," the boy conceded softly with a cruel smirk. "What would be the point of a pet demon otherwise? But that spell I put on you… it's connected to my will." Crowley's heart sank as he continued, and he began to understand the truth of the circumstances in which he'd found himself. "Here's the rock solid, carved-in-stone rules: You can't use your powers to get out of here. You can't use them to hurt me. Or to stop me. You so much as touch me - and you go down."

He released the button on the prod, allowing the electric sparks to fade away, and pressed the hot metal tip of the weapon to Crowley's throat. Crowley hissed a little at the heat - just enough to be unpleasant, without really hurting him - his body tense, his heart lurching as the boy trailed it slowly up until it rested against Crowley's face, just below his eye.

"Anything else you do I don't like… anything at all," Pervy continued with a cold smile. "All it takes is a single word, and that spell will make you wish for this thing instead - for death instead." He paused. "Or just maybe… I take it out on her instead. Is that what you want?"

Crowley swallowed slowly, closing his eyes, his heart sinking. Defeated, he shook his head as much as the boy's tight grip on his hair would allow. "No," he whispered. He hesitated a moment, wrestling with his own pride, before adding softly, "Please. No."

That seemed to please Pervy, because finally, he pulled the cattle prod away, easing his grip on Crowley's hair, and then releasing him entirely.

"Better," he remarked with a satisfied nod.

And then he moved toward the girl again.

"Please don't," Crowley choked out, raising his voice as much as he could - but he remained where he was, on his knees next to the mattress, feeling helpless and useless. His throat ached, his body weak and ravaged from the multiple shocks he had taken in the past few hours. "Don't hurt her…"

"I will if I want to," Pervy declared, his voice low and hard. "Try and stop me. You'll only make things worse. For you and her."

It was true. Crowley knew it was.

He could only watch as Pervy closed in on the girl, again, despite her desperate efforts to avoid him, succeeding only in backing herself into the corner. The boy shushed her, his voice and hands disturbingly gentle as he reached out to stroke her hair. She flinched, but had no room to move any further away, and instead went very still.

"See? This is better," Pervy said softly. "Much better… good girl…"

Crowley felt sick - and desperately ashamed.

To his surprise, and relief, Pervy didn't hurt the girl again - not right then, anyway. Instead, he just reached behind her head to carefully untie the gag. As he set it aside, Crowley noted a bit absently that it was a scarf, color coordinated to the girl's outfit - probably one she'd been wearing when he'd taken her.

Once her mouth was free, the girl flexed her jaw a little, wincing as if it hurt. She glanced at Crowley, and then past him to the door, swallowing slowly.

"You can scream if you want," Pervy informed her. "This whole house is supernaturally soundproofed. No one can hear anything from outside." He glanced back toward the book on the floor. "All kinds of cool things in that book. I've taken my whole property and like… well, basically it's supernaturally - like, everything-proofed. If you're outside the house, you wouldn't even know it existed. So, yeah. Scream all you like. No one will hear you."

He rose to his feet, looking between his two captives with satisfaction.

"I've got to get ready for work," he informed them. He waved a hand idly across the space that separated them. "Go ahead, get to know each other. You're going to be spending a lot of time together."

Crowley watched him warily, surprised when he actually left the room, disappearing into a room off to the side, and closing the door behind him.

The first thing Crowley did was to go to the front door and try opening it - with predictably painful results. Once he'd recovered from the shock and picked himself up off the floor, he began looking around the room for anything that might be useful. There didn't seem to be any phones or computers or any other electronics they could have used to get help… nothing sharp or heavy that he might have used as a weapon.

He did find a box of tissues on the coffee table.

With a soft sigh, he picked it up and carried it across the room to where the girl sat on her thin, plastic mattress. She had carefully watched his reconnaissance of the room with wide, tearful blue eyes, but had said nothing the entire time. He sat down next to her, and she shifted away just a little, seeming uneasy, but not truly afraid of him.

"I'd untie you," he whispered, "but I think it's best we wait 'til he leaves, yeah?"

She considered a moment, and then nodded, a slow swallow visible in her throat.

Crowley opened the box of tissues and held one up for a moment, before tentatively reaching toward her face, pausing and waiting for her permission to go on. When she nodded again, he used it to gently brush the tears from her face.

"Y-your eyes," she whispered at last, her voice hoarse and breaking.

"Yeah," he drawled, tossing the damp tissue aside and settling in beside her. "Demon thing."

"You're… actually a demon." She blinked, visibly processing.

"And still not the scariest guy in the room. Go figure." He offered her a rueful smile - hoping to draw one from her in return.

She just stared.

Crowley lowered his gaze, swallowing against the knot in his throat. "I - I'm sorry," he whispered. The words felt thick and clumsy and useless.

She was quiet for a moment, before responding in a voice hushed with resignation, "You tried."

Not hard enough… not good enough…

Crowley ventured to glance up at her again. "What's your name?" he asked her.

Her lips parted automatically to answer - and then she stopped, frowning as she glanced at him uncertainly. "There's - power in a name, right?" she echoed his earlier words. "Maybe - I shouldn't…"

Crowley took that in, mildly surprised, and then let out an appreciative little huff of laughter. "Smart girl," he sighed sadly.

Her face fell, her eyes welling with fresh tears. "Not too smart," she muttered, sniffling. "Should have been watching… shouldn't have… let him…" Her voice broke, and her shoulders shook with quiet sobs.

"Aww, come now, love, it's not your fault," Crowley soothed her, taking out a clean tissue and gently brushing it across her cheek. "'S all right." She gave him a baleful glare before looking away, and he grimaced, shaking his head. "Well, it's not. I know it's not." He ducked his head to catch her gaze again, waiting until she met his eyes to smile and whisper, "But it will be."

At last, he saw a spark of something besides terror and despair in her eyes - perhaps hope… or perhaps simply the beginning traces of connection, of camaraderie in the face of their rather hopeless-seeming shared dilemma.

The door to the room where Pervy had gone creaked open, and the girl visibly tensed, instinctively shifting a little closer to Crowley. He sat up a little straighter, squaring his shoulders, feeling oddly protective - though he knew there was little he could do if their captor decided to hurt her - not without potentially making things much, much worse, anyway.

Pervy had changed clothes, so Crowley concluded that the room he'd gone into must have been his bedroom. He was now wearing some sort of dark brown uniform. Crowley swiftly scanned it for a name tag, or a business name, or some identifying feature, but found nothing of any use.

"I'm off to work," Pervy announced. "Night shift. I'll be back in the morning." He winked at the girl, who shuddered and averted her eyes. "And then we'll have some fun."

Crowley felt sick.

The front door closed and locked behind the boy with an audible click - and Crowley immediately turned toward the girl, gesturing with one hand for her to turn her back to him. She swiftly complied, and he untied her wrists, then rose to his feet and held out a hand to help her up. She picked up her scarf from where it lay beside her and tucked it into her pocket. Together they moved to the door.

Crowley winced a little in anticipation of pain, as he hesitantly reached out a faltering hand to try the handle again.

The girl held up her own hand in a halting gesture. "Let me try it," she offered. "He said there's no spell keeping me here. At least trying won't hurt me."

Crowley appreciated that she'd noticed - and cared - what happened to him when he'd tried it earlier. And, well - he couldn't argue with her logic.

He waved his hand toward the door with a little flourish, taking a step back and allowing her to take his place. The door was indeed locked, as they'd expected. She pounded at it, yanked the handle, even kicked it - with no success.

"I'm not strong enough," she admitted at last, dejected. "Maybe there's a back door?" She turned away as if to go explore the rest of the house.

"Wait." Crowley frowned critically at the door for a moment, his hand raised, and then snapped his fingers. When nothing happened, he lowered his hand - then raised it again, a smile lighting up his face as inspiration struck. He snapped his fingers once more, then nodded toward the door.

"Try it again."

"Try what again, exactly?" She frowned.

Crowley gave her a sly, mischievous grin, and a little shrug. "Anything, really. I just turned the bloody thing to cardboard."

She blinked in surprise. "So… that doesn't go against his, like, 'my will be done' spell, or whatever?"

"Apparently, spell's a bit on the specific side," Crowley observed. "I tried using my power to just… blast the door open, first. Nothing." He paused, his smile widening with satisfaction. "The spell won't let me - break it or burn it or otherwise open it - but turning it into something else entirely, is apparently not something our supreme overlord of wankers ever imagined."

She stared at him for a long moment, incredulous, before looking back toward the door. She pushed at the panel in the center cautiously - letting out a startled little squeak when it simply pushed out of the door completely and onto the ground outside. The rest of the formerly metal door fell away just as easily with minimal effort, and in moments they were staring out into the darkness.

Neither of them moved. Her gaze was lowered to the floor, and she bit the corner of her lip, finally looking up at him in anguished uncertainty. Though there was a sinking feeling in his stomach at the prospect of being left here alone, Crowley forced an encouraging smile, nodding toward the empty spot where the door had been.

"Go on, then," he urged her. "Get out of here."

She frowned, clearly troubled, though the longing in her eyes as she glanced toward freedom was unmistakable. She shook her head slowly. "I can't," she whispered. "When he comes back…"

"You'll have gotten help by then," Crowley cut her off firmly, moving in closer to her to take her arms in his hands and meet her eyes. "You've got to."

She glanced past him, back into the house. "Maybe there's a phone, or…"

"There isn't," Crowley insisted, quite certain. "I looked already, and he'd have locked them all up, surely. The only way either of us get out of here is if you get out of here, now." Her expressive blue eyes were anguished as she looked up at him, but he could see the swelling surrender there, knew her desperation for escape was winning out. "Go," he insisted. "While you can. And when you get out, please call my friend, Mr. Fell." He gave her Aziraphale's address and number, performing a quick little miracle to ensure she'd remember. "He can help. But you need to hurry..."

She hesitated just a moment longer, before her shoulders fell in acquiescence, and she leaned in to impulsively hug him. Startled, Crowley stood very still for a moment, just blinking in surprise - but then he softened, returning the hug.

"I'll get you out," she promised. "I won't leave you here."

"I know," he assured her. "Now go."

She went.

Crowley passed the unbearably quiet, lonely hours that followed by exploring what limited portion of the house he was allowed access to - which wasn't much. Pervy's bedroom door gave him a similar shock as the front door had done. There was no door leading into the kitchen, just an empty space - but Crowley found that impassable as well.

Too many potential weapons in there, most likely… couldn't have your helpless little sex slave fighting back, now could you? No, that might suggest you actually possess a pair of balls…

There was a staircase leading to the second floor, and one leading down to a cellar. Crowley found that the stairs were accessible to him, but the moment he reached the reached the floor to which they led, he was blocked.

How'd he expect me to keep that girl from going into off-limits areas, if I can't go in them myself? he wondered with irritation.

The answer occurred to him a moment later, dark and troubling.

Easy. He didn't think you'd have any problem with hurting her to stop her.

Eventually, Crowley settled back down on the mattress with a weary sigh.

Surely she must have reached civilization by now. Aziraphale would be here soon. Any time now, really. Pervy had said that his property was magically protected, yeah - but surely he wasn't prepared to deal with the power of angels. Aziraphale could certainly handle any half-assed human magic… see past whatever warding the boy had put in place… right?

Crowley's eyes fell on the book from which the boy had apparently taken all of his magical knowledge - and felt a sick, sinking sensation in the pit of his stomach.

It was a very powerful book.

Although it went against every instinct of self-preservation he had, Crowley very briefly considered attempting to use the book himself. That profoundly terrible idea was swiftly thwarted, however, when he found that attempting to touch the book had an effect very similar to attempting to open the front door.

Doesn't matter, Crowley reassured himself. He'll be here. Any time, now. Any minute.

Aziraphale will be here.

Where Aziraphale was, at that moment, was on the street outside the village bakery.

He was staring in dismay at the parked and running Bentley, its bright headlights the only light anywhere on the darkened street. He called Crowley's phone again - and his heart sank when through the window, he could see it light up where it lay on the passenger seat.

Aziraphale walked a little ways down the deserted sidewalk, focusing his energy and trying to reach out with his mind, his spirit, to try to find Crowley's and connect with it. Many times, they could feel when the other was near; if Crowley was anywhere close by, then perhaps Aziraphale would be able to feel his presence.

He couldn't.

"Crowley?" he called out, a note of panic building in his voice. "Crowley!"

His forceful, urgent cry broke off as he lost a balance a bit when he stepped on something far softer than the sidewalk. Aziraphale glanced around a little. Fairly certain that he was alone, he snapped his fingers.

"Let there be light!"

He backed up a little, bending down to see what it was that had nearly tripped him - and found a crumpled bakery box, still filled with food. His fears only grew stronger when he recognized the abandoned bakery order - a half dozen of his favorite lavender custard tarts.

Aziraphale stood up straight again, snapping his fingers to turn out the unnatural light again.

His heart was racing, a knot in his throat.

Crowley never would have left the sweets he'd come here to get for Aziraphale - and he'd never have left the Bentley, especially running, with the keys locked inside.

Not of his own free will, at any rate.

"Crowley, my love," he murmured, glancing around the empty streets. "What's happened to you? Where have you gone?"

At some point during the interminable waiting, Crowley drifted off to sleep, sitting up on the uncomfortable mattress.

He awakened to the sound of crumpling cardboard and heavy, forceful footsteps. His heart leapt up into his throat, even before he opened his eyes.


It wasn't.

Pervy stormed into the room, swiftly closing the distance between himself and Crowley. There wasn't even time for Crowley to stand to face him; he braced himself for the boy's rage - but he wasn't prepared when he tossed something down in front of Crowley. Wasn't prepared for the overwhelming sense of grief and guilt he felt as he slowly realized what it was that he was seeing, and what it meant.

The soft floral scarf he'd last seen when his fellow captive had tucked it into her pocket - now torn and stained dark with blood.

"Too bad," Pervy remarked, his words cold and hard as stone. "She almost made it."

"You…" Crowley shook his head in desperate denial. "Y-you…"

His lost, broken words were cut off when the boy grabbed his hair and yanked him up onto his knees, closer, leaning down to snarl into his ear, "Your fault."

The condemnation echoed in Crowley's mind, so forcefully that he almost didn't hear it when the boy spoke just one more word before letting him go.

The searing agony drove all conscious thought from his mind, overtaking even the guilty echo of his captor's words, until all Crowley could feel was the pain. Pervy stared down at him, cold and impassive for a long moment, before turning and walking into his bedroom and closing the door behind him, leaving Crowley alone with his suffering.

He had no idea how long it lasted. Long enough that he desperately tried to crawl through the empty space where the front door had been. Long enough that he found himself weakly pounding at the closed bedroom door, hoarsely pleading for the boy to come out and make it stop. Long enough that eventually, mercifully, he blacked out, and the pain faded into nothingness.

When he woke up, the pain was gone. Pervy was seated at his desk in the corner of the room, perusing his cursed book.

And there was a new girl, bound and gagged and huddled on the mattress - staring at Crowley with wide, terrified eyes.