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With a Thousand Faces

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Naturally, Crowley knew all the tricksters.

Not that they had a convention in Vegas every year, but being tricksters and on top of their respective games, they all kept tabs on each other. It paid to do so, especially since there was nothing more deliciously irresistible to a trickster than the opportunity to work his (or her) wiles on his (or her) own kind.

It was thus unsurprising that, on one not-so-special day towards the end of one not-so-special April, Crowley found himself on the end of what amounted to a professional practical joke. Or rather, a series of them. Someone convinced an unsuspecting fish merchant to fill the Bentley with mackerel, and while Crowley was perfectly capable of miracling them away, he suspected that he would need to get Aziraphale involved in order to exorcise the smell. Forced to walk, Crowley found himself herded south by a police barricade, a flock of runaway sheep, a ridiculously persistent lightning storm, and an entirely conspicuous swarm of mangy cats.

Crowley had never really liked cats. It had something to do with the wings and the feathers.

Rolling his eyes, he gave up on trying to get where he was going (a routine tempting downtown) and followed the yowling alleycats to a musty pub that the average pedestrian would generally walk right by. Crowley walked in and leaned a shoulder against the doorframe as he grinned at the only person at the deserted bar.

“Hello, kitten. What brings you to London Above?”

The Marquis, to his credit, didn’t bristle. “I have a name, you know.”

Crowley lifted an eyebrow and walked in to sit on the next stool.

“You requested an audience?”

“I need a favour.”

“I don’t do favours. Kitten.”

Carabas looked incredulous.

“Anymore. I don’t do favours anymore.”

“I need a new box.”

Crowley laughed. “Look, kid, I set you up with the first box because you showed promise. You used it, that’s tough, but it’s not my problem.”

“I’m nearly as old as you are, you two-bit anthropomorph, and it’s not for me.”

Another grin. “I know. That brand new shiny Warrior of yours, right? How adorable.”

“He’ll need a box if he’s going to make it Below, Crowley, you know that. He needs to know that he can die.”

“Carabas, there is a very good reason why I subcontract. I don’t want to have to deal with London Below. London Above keeps me busy enough as it is. And besides, it’s all sticky down there.”

The Marquis grimaced. “Please.” The word was rusty in his mouth.

Crowley sighed. “All right. But you’ll owe me. And this new guy had better keep Below on its toes. Don’t make me come down there.”

“What is it with you and rats, anyway?”

“Long story. I’ll talk to someone for you, get a box for your boy. Happy?”

“As ever.”

“Good.” Crowley rose to leave, then turned back.

“Oh, and one more thing.”

“Yes?” The Marquis looked wary.

“If you ever touch my car again, puss, you’ll find out how many ways there really are. I promise that it’s a lot more than one.”

Dangerous grin intact, Crowley exited with a flourish that even the Marquis could admire. A single iridescent feather remained behind him on the barstool. Carabas picked it up, toyed with it, smiled with a few too many teeth, and put it into his pocket for the next Market.

Crowley did, after all, look after his own.