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Deal with a Devil

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Deal with a Devil

Methos watched Joe as he ran through his set, trying to figure out what was different. He could have sung the lyrics to most of the songs, so it wasn't the music. Joe was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and he still had his beard, so that wasn't what was making Joe seem off.

Taking a long swig of his beer, Methos kept his eyes on his friend. Same guitar, same musicians accompanying him, same brand of beer sitting next to him on the floor. As if he heard Methos' thoughts, Joe leaned down to pick up the beer to take a swig.

He didn't lose his balance. He didn't even hold on to anything to keep himself steady. Joe just leaned down and picked up his beer. Just that easy, like he didn't have two artificial legs that made everything a balancing act for him.

Methos' stomach churned. He wanted to be wrong. He really wanted to be wrong, because the type of shit someone did to suddenly go from no legs to two whole legs was bad shit. The type of bad shit that came with a steep price, and surely Joe wasn't that stupid.

Joe tried, Methos gave him that. He tried to look as if he still had fake legs. He held on to his cane when he stood, bowing a little in response to the applause when the set was done. He used the same odd gait to go down the stairs, but Methos would bet that no one watched Joe the way he did, constantly worrying about Joe's mortality, sadly watching as his body grew older and less robust.

As Joe came over to him there were other differences. That tight look around his eyes that always spoke to a constant pain was gone; and there was an air of confidence that Methos generally only saw when Joe was sitting down on his computer working on Watcher business.

"Hey, old man," Joe said as he attempted to look as if he was struggling to sit down across from Methos.

"What did you do?" Methos hissed at him, glancing around to make sure no one was approaching or was close enough to overhear.

"What?"

"Joe. What did you do? What was your plan? Were you going to just pack up and move? Go someplace where people don't know you have, or had, two fake legs?"

Joe's eyes opened wide. "How--" He closed his mouth, his lips tight, taking his own turn to glance around to ensure privacy. "God damn it."

Methos watched Joe carefully, knowing the man could actually bolt on him now if he wanted to. Methos would catch him, of course. Joe might be whole and healthy now, but Methos had been around for a very long time and knew way more tricks than Joe did. "What did you do?"

"None of your business." Joe looked mulish, and raised his hand to the bartender, asking for a drink.

"It is my business," Methos snapped. "You are my business, you and the few friends I have. And if you've done what I think you've done. Jesus, Joe." He shut up as one of the waitresses brought Joe his shot of whiskey as well as a new beer for Methos. Methos saluted her with the bottle, drawing a smile out of her. He waited until she was out of earshot. "What were the terms?"

Joe coughed on his whiskey, and he slammed his drink down.

Methos grabbed his hand. "I've been around a long time, and I've seen things. And I know no one gets two new legs for nothing. What were the terms? How long?"

Joe heaved out a long breath and then pursed his lips. "Ten years."

"Jesus fucking Christ," Methos muttered. "You think having no legs was tough?" he bit out, leaning forward. "Try fucking eternity in hell. How could you be so stupid?"

"Hey!" Joe snapped back.

"Seriously," Methos growled, completely unimpressed with Joe's ire. Too bad for him his idiotic plan got found out. "How?"

"You have no idea…" Joe started.

"Maybe I never lost my legs, but there is nothing under the sun I haven't gone through. Misery like nothing you could even imagine. For years, for decades, centuries." He leaned back, furious. "What were you thinking? That you'd get ten years of being able to dance around a dance floor? Maybe run a race or two? Jesus, Joe, don't you think we all loved you just the way you were?"

Joe's eyes grew bright, but his expression remained stubborn. "I was drunk, okay?"

"When did you do it?" Methos had last been in here a week ago. Obviously he'd needed to be coming more often.

"Last night."

"Where? Here?"

Joe shook his head, leaned back in his chair and then swigged a shot of whiskey down. "I know you'll think I'm crazy, but ten years…" He let out a mirthless laugh. "It seemed like forever last night."

Methos snapped his fingers. "It'll go by like that."

"I know. I know it," Joe growled when Methos let his angry skepticism show. "I was stupid. I know it. Jesus, I know it. But it's done. The deal's done."

"No," Methos said, standing. "It's only done until a better deal comes along."

Joe's eyes narrowed. "What are you doing?"

"Where was it? The crossroads by the old fairground?" That place had always had an eerie feel to it.

"Yeah, but what are you thinking of doing?" Joe grabbed at Methos' arm. "Methos, what are you… Don't you dare go do something stupid. I'm the idiot that made the deal. You do not have the right to go throw yourself on a funeral pyre for me. Forget it."

"You're not equipped to deal with hell. I am." Methos had been hell for a millennium.

"Forget it," Joe yelled, ignoring the startled looks. "Don't you do this!"

"I'm not letting you go to hell," Methos said angrily, although he lowered his voice. Fuck a damn duck. All he'd wanted was a drink.

He heard Joe try to follow him, but he really couldn't, not unless he wanted to give the game away. "Stop him!" Joe yelled, being sneaky, which weirdly made Methos feel good that Joe was doing his best to keep him safe.

A couple of people made half-hearted attempts to grab at Methos, but he was a familiar face and the assumption was made that Joe was fooling around, so Methos was out the door and running for his car before Joe could come up with another plan.

His phone started ringing immediately, and Methos ignored it. He needed some supplies, and then he had a demon to catch. He was part way out of the parking lot when he realized this plan wasn't going to work. Joe would just follow him out there. Methos thought about slashing his tires, or doing something else to Joe's vehicle to incapacitate it. By the time he'd dismissed that idea, Joe was pushing through the door of the bar. Methos sighed, but waited until Joe yanked open the passenger door and slid in. "You are not going without me," Joe insisted, pissed as hell.

*****

Methos studied the pentagram he'd painted on the ground with oil based paint, surrounding the crossroads intersection where he'd dug up Joe's little box of demon bait. He'd thrown the box in the back seat on top of Joe who was hog tied and gagged, and shooting lethal looks at Methos.

He meticulously covered up the pentagram, making sure none of it showed. He had his own box of goodies, and he put his in the same hole Joe had dug and covered it back up. Then he took a step outside the pentagram and waited.

Methos was a patient man, but even he was getting edgy when suddenly a beautiful dark-haired woman with demonic red eyes and wearing a little black dress was standing in front of him.

"Took your time," he complained.

She considered him. "Not the best attitude to take when you're here to ask a favor."

"Oh, I'm not here to ask you for a favor, sweetheart. I want your boss."

The woman laughed. "The boss doesn't come when people like you call."

Ignoring her, Methos started to intone. "Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus…"

She laughed again. "Ridiculous." She took a step forward and found that she couldn't. She grabbed for him, but he'd taken precautions and was out of her reach.

"Omnis satanic potestas, omnis incursion infernalis adversarii, omnis legio."

"You think this will save your friend?" she mocked him. "I'll kill him in front of you. Rip those legs right off of him."

"Omnis congretatio et secta diabolica."

"Fine." She paced in the circle. "Fine, we'll deal."

"No deal, not with you. I want your boss."

"He won't come," she screeched at him. "Not for me."

"Then I guess this isn't your day," Methos said calmly. "Ergo draco maledicte."

"I will come back and I will find you," she threatened. "And I'll look for you in hell."

"I'll look forward to it."

With that, her neck arched back and thick black smoke coiled from her mouth and spiraled into the air until it was out of sight. The woman fell to the ground, and Methos went down on one knee to see if she was still alive. When he couldn’t find a pulse, he sighed. He dragged her out of the pentagram to the side of the street, laying her out with care. Methos wondered who she'd been; how long she'd been playing host to this particular crossroad demon.

He moved back to the crossroads, dug up his box, and exchanged one set of identification with another. Normally this wouldn't work, but all of his identifications were genuine, as he really had been too many people to count in his lifetime. Covering it with dirt, he settled back to wait.

*****

Four hours later there were ten dead bodies by the side of the road. Methos had untied Joe's feet to give him a pee break, before tying him back up.

"Who are those people?" Joe asked, aghast, as he noted the pile of bodies.

"Hosts. They were already dead, Joe. These demons don't care about maintaining the people whose bodies they take over."

Joe couldn't stop staring.

"Back in the car."

"No," Joe cried, taking a step back. "You can't keep doing this. I won't let you pay the price for my stupid mistake."

"Touching," a voice said behind them, and Methos spun around to see a man dressed in a black suit, hands in his pockets, watching them. His hairline was receding, but he was a handsome man, nonetheless, with a face that looked like it was no stranger to laughter. Methos, unexpectedly, even knowing he was a demon, found him compelling.

He stuffed the gag back in Joe's mouth and shoved him back in the car, none too gently, taking a moment to make sure he was bound securely. Methos ignored the panicked expression in Joe's eyes.

When he was done with Joe, he strode back over to where the demon stood in the pentagram. The man had cleared the gravel away in one spot to reveal the paint. "I hate these things," he said. Then, "I'm Crowley. I heard you were looking for me." He glanced over at the bodies and smirked at Methos.

"How do I know you're who I'm looking for?" Methos asked, although he was relatively certain he was. There was something too knowing, too confident about the man.

"You don't." Crowley snapped his fingers and a lounge chair appeared in the center of the pentagram. Crowley sat down and made himself comfortable. After another snap, he had a martini in his hand. "Want one?"

"I'm more a beer man myself," Methos told him.

A six-pack of Methos' favorite beer, one, in fact, that hadn't existed for about a hundred years, appeared at the inside edge of the pentagram. "I don't get a chair?" He reached into the circle and grabbed the six-pack, actually impressed that Crowley didn't even try to take advantage of the moment to reach for Methos and drag him inside the circle.

"While you've got this damn pentagram around me, I can't do anything outside of it." Crowley shrugged. "Sorry."

Methos sat down on the ground, and chose a bottle of beer. "Got a bottle opener?"

Crowley rolled his eyes but snapped his fingers again. He held it in his hand, waving it back and forth. "Next time you might want to come more prepared. Did you at least bring the chips?"

Methos found himself grinning, and it grew broader when Crowley threw the opener down until it, also, was at the very inside edge of the markings. Methos retrieved it, opened his beer, and took a very satisfying swallow. "Thank you. I've missed this brand."

Crowley waved a dismissive hand. "Think nothing of it."

*****

Crowley wasn't bored at all. In fact, he was enjoying himself. He wasn't exactly sure who, or more precisely, what the man sitting across the pentagram from him was, but Crowley could tell he wasn't quite human. He had balls, though, Crowley had to give him that. Reminded him a little bit of Dean Winchester, except classier. And British, which warmed the cockles of Crowley's heart, or at least it would have, if he still had one.

He was disappointed there were no chips, but another snap of his fingers took care of that. He opened the bag and held it out to the man. "Want some?"

He was pleased when the man had the temerity to reach out and grab some, even though it meant he was crossing the pentagram for the third time. Balls of steel. They sat there for a few minutes, eating chips, drinking their alcohol, and considered each other.

"Time for introductions," Crowley finally said. "Who is it that I'm dealing with?"

"Adam Pierson."

"Close, but no cigar."

"The name's Methos."

Crowley could feel the power in the name, but it didn't tell him what he wanted to know. "I'm assuming you're here about your whining friend in the car?"

"Yes."

Pursing his lips, Crowley studied Methos. "What's the deal you're putting on the table?"

"Me instead of him."

"How noble of you."

Methos shrugged. Crowley furrowed his brow trying to see what the catch was. One soul for another was not unheard of, and Crowley had been known, a time or two, to make a switch. For a price, of course. But there was something else going on. The man was too easy with the deal, as if he knew something Crowley didn't, something that would protect him, or leave Crowley looking like a fool. Crowley hated looking like a fool.

"You that eager to give up your soul?" Crowley finally asked.

"Don't think I have much of one left."

That sounded intriguing. "Tell me more."

"Will you make the deal?"

"I'll give you one year in place of his ten," Crowley offered.

"You can give me one minute, if you want." He took a long swallow of his beer and then raised it in salute. "How did you know it was my favorite?"

"It was in your mind, easy enough to pick out." As those words left his mouth, Crowley had a thought. "May I?" he asked, one hand out.

Methos handed him the beer willingly enough, crossing the pentagram line again.

Crowley studied it. He hadn't paid much attention to the type of beer; it had been the work of an instant to recreate it. "How is it possible that your favorite beer is from a company that no longer exists? In fact, from a country that no longer exists?"

"I read a lot of beer reviews," was Methos' answer.

Crowley laughed. "I like you."

"Thanks," Methos said, stretching out on the ground, looking quite comfortable, and very attractive. Crowley let his eyes roam over him from stem to stern. "Will you make the deal?" Methos asked.

"How old are you?"

"Old enough."

"How old?" Crowley demanded.

Methos didn't answer him.

"Can you die?"

"I can," Methos said.

"Have you died?" Crowley asked.

"Many times."

Crowley could sense that the man still had his soul, so there was something being put in as collateral, but he clearly wasn't afraid of dying. "You do understand that once you die…again…you'll go to hell, right?"

Methos nodded. "Your version of hell. I've been in a version of my own a time or two."

That was an intriguing answer. "And you do get that it's forever?"

"Oh, yes," Methos said. "Or at least until I get out. I'm very good at getting out of bad situations. You might say I'm a professional."

Crowley was being eaten alive by curiosity.

"And you do know you have to kiss me to seal the deal?"

"I’m looking forward to that part," Methos admitted with a grin.

Crowley was, too. He focused on Methos as hard as he could, trying to get more information, but there was something about the man that made him hard to get a good read on, other than surface information. "You do understand," Crowley finally said, "that if I find out you've tricked me, I'll kill your friend. If you renege on your part of the deal, the deal's off."

"Fair enough. When I die, you get my soul. I'm actually interested to see what happens."

Crowley's eyebrows rose. "What do you think's going to happen? You die, you go to hell."

"Possibly," Methos said.

Tapping his fingers in a syncopated rhythm on the arm of his chair, Crowley studied Methos. "You think you'll come back to life."

"I'm counting on it."

"But you're not sure what your soul will do."

"Nope, I'm not," Methos said. He took another swig of beer. "Can you walk around without a soul?"

Crowley nodded. "You won't care about your legged friend anymore, though."

Methos frowned, pursed his lips. "I'll take a chance while I do care. I'll make the deal."

"One year?"

"Like I said, one day, if you want. I'd hate to wait an entire year. I'm really curious to see if this works."

Crowley was too. Most people, in fact all people, tended to be apprehensive about death and going to hell. He wished he could read the man's mind beyond picking out a favorite beer.

"Will it be hell hounds?" Methos asked with a grimace.

That was the first facial expression that made sense to Crowley. The man had been entirely too cool up to now. "Don't like my puppies?"

"I'm not a big fan of getting shredded, no," Methos commented. He shrugged again, finished off his beer. "But it won't be the first time I've been eaten by wild animals, not by a long shot. So, whatever. And I get to keep the rest of this six-pack."

"I'll throw in a case," Crowley said, more and more intrigued, thinking he wouldn't even mind if this man was getting one over on him, because the whole thing was so different. Crowley didn't run into different very often any more. "Cut a hole in the pentagram."

Methos drew a small bottle out of his pocket and opened it. The strong odor of turpentine permeated the air. He poured some on one section of the symbol, and then used his booted foot to make a clear opening.

Crowley stayed seated, watching as Methos put the bottle away. He'd half expected to be splashed with holy water and was relieved Methos hadn't been so predictable. "Come and kiss me, darling." He stood and held out his arms.

Without a second's hesitation, Methos moved into them, his hands moving to cup Crowley's face as if this was to be a kiss between lovers, and not between a demon and his supplicant.

Crowley had kissed more humans than anyone ever had. Sometimes he enjoyed it. Well, that wasn't true, he always enjoyed it, always enjoyed the taste of victory as another fool traded their soul away for something transient, most often for material goods of one version or another. He rarely enjoyed it as a sexual thing. He'd felt a zing of chemistry every now and then, but he ignored it; no point getting involved with someone who had already proven themselves to be abysmally stupid.

He was accustomed to the emotions he felt through the kisses. Fear almost always, revulsion toward him, a sense of victory, and always, always a sense of guilt. Crowley especially loved the guilt.

Kissing Methos made every one of those kisses evaporate. The emotions from Methos were unbelievable and Crowley pulled him closer, thrust his tongue in Methos' mouth. Guilt and anger and frustration and death, oh the death, the mutilation, the torture, both given and gotten, and glorious pain; physical, mental, emotional. Regret eating away at him, guilt, guilt, guilt, a Mount Vesuvius of Guilt, deadly lava flowing and destroying everything in its path, and years, decades, centuries, a millennium of life and death, and losing loved ones, killing loved ones, anger and rage and fury like a tsunami, and it all rolled over Crowley like the world's best champagne.

It felt like hours until he came back to himself, although if he never did, that would have been okay. He and Methos were wrapped around each other and, unless he was mistaken, which he rarely was, they'd both come in their pants like teenagers. That was a first.

He reluctantly unfisted the fingers of one hand from the soft brown hair, and drew the other away from Methos' ass. Methos, on the other hand, did not let go of Crowley.

"Does that always happen?" Methos asked, sounding stunned. "If so, I'm surprised everyone isn't selling their soul."

That surprised a laugh out of Crowley. He opened his eyes to see Methos staring at him, his eyes cloudy with a sex-haze but bright with unexpected humor. "No. If it did, I'd never get any work done."

Methos smirked at him. "So, the deal's done?"

Crowley shook his head. "You really think that's the only time we're doing that?"

Methos frowned at him. "What's that supposed to mean?" His eyes shot toward the car his friend was tied up in.

"Oh, don't worry, he can keep his legs and his soul, although," Crowley admonished with a finger of shame pointing at Methos, "you foolishly didn't even include his legs in our deal. If I wasn't full of afterglow, I could make you pay for that."

"Shit," Methos admitted with a self-deprecating wince. "That was truly stupid of me."

Crowley was inclined to be magnanimous. "You had other things on your mind. It's my job to take advantage of that sort of thing." He snapped his fingers and the mess from their orgasms was gone, and they were both sitting on a deep leather couch.

"Handy," Methos commented in appreciation. "So the deal?" He inched closer to Crowley, until only a few inches separated them.

"Forget about it. Why would I want you in hell? Somehow I think you'd be bucking for my job in no time."

Methos grinned, and Crowley noticed he didn't contradict him. "Only if you were doing a rubbish job of it," Methos said.

"I'm spectacular at whatever I do," Crowley said primly.

"That you are," Methos agreed, and he pulled Crowley to him and kissed him again.

"Let him go!" a voice yelled out from behind the couch.

"Curb your dog before I do something you might regret," Crowley suggested with some heat.

"Joe," Methos said, peeking over the tall back of the couch, "how the hell did you untie those knots? And if you were paying closer attention, you'd see that I was the one kissing him and, if you would be kind enough to leave, I would like to get back to it."

"You are not making a deal on my behalf, buddy," Joe snarled. "So both of you, get off the couch."

Crowley reached out his hand, and the gun Joe had been holding flew into it. "This won't work on either of us, so stop the posturing, sweetheart."

"Who the hell are you?"

"I'm the King of Hell, baby, but I still moonlight as King of the Crossroads," Crowley said lazily. Humans were so boring. He glanced at Methos. Most of them, anyway. He didn't think he'd ever get bored with this one.

"Methos! What have you done?"

Joe looked half furious, half terrified, and Crowley supposed he got some points for it being on Methos' behalf. He'd become inordinately fond of the man in the last few minutes.

"Tell me you didn't do it," Joe begged.

"I didn't do it," Methos answered.

That took the wind out of Joe's sails, much to Crowley's amusement.

"Surprise!" Crowley said to Joe.

Joe wasn't sure who to believe as his gaze flipped back and forth between Methos and Crowley, his fingers grasping as if still holding the gun.

Methos retrieved the gun from Crowley and gave it back to Joe. "He's right. This won't work on either of us."

"Why the hell were you still kissing him?" Joe asked in confusion, his gaze occasionally darting to the dead bodies on the side of the road.

"He," Methos said with a frown, as if offended on Crowley's behalf, "is the guy who's letting you out of the deal. It might behoove you to be polite."

"Wrong," Crowley countered, pleased when Methos didn't bat an eye at that. "Well, not the polite part, feel free, but it was your friend here who sexed me out of the deal."

Methos beamed at him. "I think the sexing was mutual."

"Argh," Joe said, with a hand covering his eyes. "I do not want to hear this. Are you telling me that you had sex with a demon to get me out of my deal?"

"In a manner of speaking," Crowley said.

"I like him," Methos said. "I think I'm keeping him."

"Hey," Crowley complained, "that's my line. I get to keep you."

"I don't understand," Joe said, his hand still covering his eyes as if he'd turn into a pillar of salt if he looked at them.

"Joe," Methos said, standing and putting his hands on Joe's shoulders. "It's been a long week. Go home, go to sleep, and we'll talk later. Everything is fine. You have your legs, Crowley will put a whammy or something on everyone you know so that people won't notice your new legs." To Crowley he said, "You can do that, right?"

"For a price," Crowley said.

"Which I'll be delighted to pay," Methos retorted with a delicious wag of eyebrows in Crowley's direction. "So you've got your legs and your soul is intact, so count your blessings, take my car, and go home." Methos dug his keys out and dropped them in Joe's hand after yanking one away from his face.

Crowley snapped his fingers. "Done."

"I adore you," Methos told him. "Seriously."

"Argh," Joe said again. "I don't want to hear you sweet talking a demon, Methos."

"Too late." He closed Joe's hands over the keys. "Consider yourself lucky that we all got a happy ending after you did something so stupendously stupid. And if I ever hear of you doing something like that again, I will strangle you."

Joe winced. "I guess I deserve that."

Crowley was just glad he hadn't had to kiss Joe.

Methos turned Joe around and gave him a hearty shove toward the car. "I can do this now that I don't have to worry about you falling flat on your face."

"I'm going, I'm going. Jeez, old man, don't get carried away."

Crowley frowned at Joe's retreating back.

Methos sent a narrow-eyed warning Crowley's way. "Leave him alone. He's out of bounds for you. And can you do something with them?" He pointed at all the dead women.

Crowley snapped his fingers. "An anonymous call was just placed to the police and," he snapped his fingers again and the couch and any possible evidence disappeared, "and no one will tie this to you or the legged wonder."

"That man has saved my life quite a few times," Methos said with narrowed eyes.

Crowley bit back a retort, and waited until Joe got in the car and drove away, not without several long looks in the rear mirror. "He'll try to make trouble, you know."

"It's his middle name," Methos said with a grin. "Nothing but trouble."

"Speaking of trouble," Crowley said, "what exactly are you?"

"You can't tell?" Methos looked honestly surprised.

Crowley sniffed. "No, and it's very annoying. I can always tell."

"I'm an Immortal."

Crowley could hear the capital I. "And what is that?"

"It means what it says, that we can't die."

"You're lying." That Crowley could tell. Always.

"Not lying as much as withholding. Doesn't seem wise to just blurt out the one way we can die when we've just met." Methos smirked at him.

Crowley ran his mind over all those delicious memories he'd tasted as he and Methos had kissed. Now that he was looking for it, it was easy to figure it out. "Beheadings." He'd have to find some sort of spell to protect Methos' neck. There had to be something.

Methos tipped his head in acknowledgement that Crowley had guessed correctly.

"So how long have you been alive?" Crowley knew it was a very, very long time. Maybe as long as Crowley had been around.

"My memories give out about 5000 years ago," Methos admitted. "Not exactly sure how old I am."

"Lovely." At Methos skeptical look, Crowley grinned, and pulled Methos into a kiss. "Truly. I can't tell you how boring it is to talk about the Spanish Inquisition or the Crusades with someone who wasn't there."

That got a loud laugh out of Methos. "I see many very interesting conversations ahead of us then. Because if there was something intriguing going on in the world, I tried to be there."

"Me too."

"I'll bet," Methos said. "Causing the trouble, right?"

"Probably. But if memory serves, you were causing a few troubles of your own."

Methos' eyes darkened, and Crowley wasn't sure if it was arousal or pain. "I try not to cause it anymore," Methos said. "And I don't plan to change that for you." He studied Crowley intently. "I trust you, and I don't know why. Why do I trust you?"

Crowley shrugged. "I'm a very trustworthy guy."

"I'm serious," Methos said. He gently grabbed Crowley's chin and gazed at him. "I've met evil people. I've been one myself, and you don't feel evil to me."

"I think I'm offended."

"Don't be. If you were evil, I wouldn't…" Methos turned his head away, licked his lips, and turned back. "I can't do that again. I won't be that again. Is that what you'd expect of me?"

Crowley blinked, surprised at the seriousness in Methos' tone. This was ridiculous, what was happening here. The King of Hell didn't do relationships. But Methos, this amazing man, this Immortal, was putting the possibility of one on the table; Crowley was certain of it. As if Crowley were not a demon, destined to live alone, getting his jollies from other people's misery and stupidity.

He snapped his fingers and a contract appeared before him. He touched it and it burst into flame until it was nothing but ashes blowing away. "Your contract," he explained. "Consider it null and void." Now that that was done, Crowley waited for Methos to get up and walk away.

Instead Methos kissed him, and then leaned into him, resting his head on Crowley's shoulder. As if he really did trust him. As if he trusted that Crowley wouldn't destroy him. As if he knew something about Crowley that he, himself, didn't. It did something funny to Crowley's insides.

The problem, of course, was that he'd break this man into pieces eventually. It was his nature, after all. "Have you ever heard the story of the frog and the scorpion?" He couldn't see Methos' face but he felt him smile.

"You mean the one where the scorpion stings the frog after the frog carries him over the stream?"

"That's the one."

"And you think you're the scorpion in this scenario?" Methos inquired with a touch of sarcasm.

Crowley suddenly wasn't completely sure. "I'll never be one of the good guys," he finally said. And helping Dean and Sam didn't count. There was a point to that; Crowley liked the fine things Earth and humans had to offer. His goal hadn't been to be helpful; it was to keep the apocalypse from burning everything to the ground, and working with those bozos had been the only way to do it.

Methos snorted in wry amusement. "Trust me, I've got enough good guys in my life, and they're not always all they're cracked up to be." He pulled back and studied Crowley for a long moment. "I'm assuming you can't die, either?"

"I'm hard to kill," he admitted slowly. "But there are ways." Maybe it was time he dug up his bones and put them someplace safer. "There aren't many creatures who think about taking me on." He refused to think about the Winchesters. Fucking Winchesters. How the hell did they become such significant players in his life?

"We'll be talking about those ways," Methos said sternly, as if he planned on keeping Crowley around for a long time.

Crowley let a real smile curl his lips up. It was so sweet that someone was trying to protect him. The man was adorable. Adorable, and different, and dangerous, and angry and sad and guilty and yet so full of life and wit that Crowley felt drunk on him. "Let's go home."

Methos moved in close, wrapping an arm around his waist. "Just making sure you don't leave me behind by accident," he explained.

Filled with an inexplicable joy, coupled with complete bewilderment, he made a decision to try something brand new. "Watch out, everyone," he said, a little in jest, but mostly not, "the King of Hell has a consort."

"And fuck with the King of Hell," Methos said, "and you'll answer to me."

Crowley sizzled with the promise in those words, how they were laced with menace and the skill set to carry it through. He couldn't wait for someone to fuck with him, just to see what Methos did. Dean needed a good beating.

And it was definitely time to go home. Crowley lifted his hand and snapped his fingers.

The End.