- Eden’s snake
Crowley never signed up for this. He had played the bass for Heaven ever since he can remember but ever since Gabriel joined in as the main vocalist, everything had gone dipshit.
It all started when the Boss was spotted by a fancy label during one of their gigs. They weren’t interested in the band, but the main vocalist and lyricist could be a great asset for the company; she started her new career as a composer for Earth that same week. Needless to say, she never came around anymore to rehearsal or send them new lyrics, she was so busy with the big shots she had no time for the band she formed herself. Metatron sometimes called them with half assed excuses and big talk about a Great Plan but he was fooling no one, Boss had set her view into greener pastures and the old band could suck dick.
So the remaining members-Sandalphon, Uriel, Michael and Crowley himself- decided to hold auditions for a new lead. Gabriel came in with all the swagger and good looks of Don Draper if he were wearing leather pants and a crop top; he had a divine voice to top thus the decision was easy, they took him as the vocalist and lead. Big mistake.
In a month, he had composed two songs, both of them terribly dull and painfully similar to Jimmy Eats World circa 90’s. He had also demanded for the band to drop the old repertoire and use the new one during performances so they were forced to perform covers from other bands to fill the time slot. The cherry on top was probably the time he shouted at them for upsetting the tune he had just given them 30 minutes before. The singer was out of control and Crowley was not one to beat around the bush, so he stepped his foot on the ground and in no uncertain terms told him to fuck off. He wasn’t expecting the rest of the members to silently stare while Gabriel yelled at him not to come back. Michael, on the guitar, Uriel on the keyboard and Sandalphon on the drums; his partners for the last 15 years of his life, let him go like a shirt that had worn over the years and has become too thin to use anymore.
Some weeks later, he started to play with The Fallen. The lyrics were crude and raw, the music too loud and the solos too long but at least they gave him freedom on stage so Crowley thought it was better than nothing. He had to admit he first checked their ad for a new bass because he found certain irony in the fact he was just sacked from Heaven. The members of the group: Hastur on the electric guitar, Ligur on the drums, Dagon on the keyboard and Beelzebub as the singer, were as coarse as their music but that was fine, he wasn’t there to make friends.
They weren’t especially popular with the crowds, who usually found their music disruptive rather than revendicative. Crowley had pointed out multiple times that a chorus based on “MURDER CATS, EAT BRAINS, CREATE OUTRAGE” wasn’t going to attract much of a crowd but Beelzebub seemed especially fond of that particular song and disregarded his criticism easily. Still, it was better than singing covers of Panic at the Disco with Heaven.
That night, they were performing at one of the cities hot spots: the night club Eden. After their first part of the set including songs like “Leak my Wifi Julian Assange”, “Lord of the Flies is my Bitch” and “Maggots Ate Your Grandma”- the manager, Eve, didn’t seem happy with the patrons’ reaction, in fact, she rather they did not play the second part of their set and suggested to reframe the lyrics “more PG” if they ever called them back. They were quite bummed because they all regarded this gig as a vital step into their career but if Eden, whose main public was young punk, gothic and emo crowd didn’t get their message, maybe no one would.
The next band came up to the stage and Gabriel, the smug bastard, took the mike and reeled the crowd by introducing The Flaming Swords.
“What the fuck?” was the only reaction Crowley could muster at the moment. On the stage, his old band was still there: Michael, Uriel and Sandalphon were on the electric guitar, the keyboard and the drums as usual but in his place, there was a spiky dark haired and stocky bloke who held the bass, the tight skinny tartan pants and fitted T-shirt seemed somehow out of place and the tattoos on his arms glistened like new ink.
The new name was so idiotic that only Gabriel could have come up with it.
“FLAMING DORKS” Dagon complained loudly, snorting in the direction of the stage and sloshing his beer over their group mates. Crowley couldn’t contain his mirth and joined in the slandering the rest of his bandmates had started, shouting lewd names over the crowd and music.
The newbie stared at him unblinkingly when he jeered “fascist oafs” but Gabriel seemed to be enjoying the name calling and smirked directly at him while keeping on with his own redemption of “Wonderwall”.
Security came in looking for the troublemakers, thankfully, Crowley and the rest were smart enough to scatter and blend with the dancing crowd, stopping their assault enough for the guards to feel vindicated. The set had finished by the time those bouncers came back to their posts. Crowley smiled and shook his head absently seconds before feeling a hand on his shoulder and the next thing he knew; he was roughly pushed against a wall backwards.
“Who the hell do you think you are to shout like that during a performance?” the sturdy bloke who subbed for him inquired. Crowley quirked an eyebrow half surprised and half amused by the much shorter man who barely looked menacing at all and whose right arm was tensed for a punch but also shaky and wavering.
“Oh, C’mon, do take the piss! You were performing the worst cover of Wonderwall I’ve ever heard. Also, Nirvana? Great choice, no one has ever covered them before” the other man dropped his arms to the side but didn’t recoil. Looking at him from up close, the guy was kind of endearing in a clueless and earnest sort of way. His eyes were light and the black eyeliner was heavily applied, his lips were plump but tightly shut in a grimace, the spike choker around his neck looked too loose-almost a necklace- and his left arm tattoo was slightly peeling from the bottom half. Crowley felt like laughing at the fact that he tried to look menacing, but from his height -his spiky hair barely reached the other's nose up close- it just looked like an overgrown pup trying to pick a fight. He was clearly out his depth, maybe a bit drunk and had acted in the spur of the moment, but he wasn’t bucking down. Instead, he pressed Crowley closer to the wall.
“I’m not here to take your piss you shithead, it may not be original but at least we never sang about blending babies’ legs for breakfast. Did you parents raise you in a barn and never told you to shut your hole when someone else is performing?” Crowley stifled a cuckle. This guy had no idea who he was and completely misunderstood the whole situation; it was time to set things straight.
“I was raised in Heaven babe, but believe me, I rather be with the Fallen than spending one more day with those turncoats and shallow bastards” he crouched himself slightly on the wall and took away his sunglasses to look directly into his eyes. The other guy blinked twice, blushing slightly while retreating and leaving Crowley some space.
“You are the infamous Crowley?” he asked, and this time Crowley could feel the heat behind his words.
“Now that we’re getting acquainted, may I learn the name of the jerk who is replacing me?” oh, the look he was sending him - like he wanted to murder him but didn’t know where to find his courage- was so much fun. Almost like a corgi snarling at a wolf.
“Aziraphale” he gritted through clenched teeth.
“Well, Zira, let me tell you something you might not know: I was there when Heaven was the opening act for Muse, I was there when Boss was signed for Earth and started to write shit for motherfucking Avril Lavigne, and I was there when your dear ol’ chap Gabriel fucked over the band I dedicated half my life to. Don’t you tell me what I can or can’t call that arrogant arsehole” the rage was pouring out of him in every sentence and the shorter man did back up a little more.
“You…” he started to say slowly before he was interrupted by Uriel shooting daggers in their direction and signaling with her head it was time to come back to the stage.
“Later love” Crowley shouted half jokingly on his retreat. He looked for Beelzebub and Dagon, who had gone from tipsy catcallers to sullen drunks during the last two rounds without him.
“The worst part is, they eat it up! Look at that! How many times do they have to hear some bland version of Highway to Hell before they realize it’s the same old shit! They don’t have a single original song and yet, we are the ones that get booted off the stage. Tasteless shitheads” Beelzebub sneered in the general direction of the crowd enjoying the Flaming Swords.
“So, you were able to placate that shorty by yourself, I’m impressed Crowley” Dagon sounded anything but impressed. Crowley asked for a drink rather than engaging in conversation. Hastur and Ligur reappeared through the back door, giggling and shushing each other in childish kind of way.
“I hope they like my shit” Ligur cackled under his breath. Hastur started to laugh loudly. It dawned on the rest on them.
“Are you seriously telling me you took a dump in their van?” Crowley asked in between astonishment and chuckling. They both nodded.
“We need to get out of here quickly” Beelzebub urged them. The bass player, Aziraphale, kept looking at Crowley with a stern gaze, like he was judging him.
“Your boyfriend is staring” Dagon pointed out.
“Fraternizing is off limits” Hastur said dryly “they might infiltrate and try to steal our songs” Crowley didn’t comment on that; he rather not anger Hastur remarking their songs may be what it took for Flaming Swords to break down completely.