Dean woke in a sea of piercing ice.
Excruciating pins and needles flicked his senses back on until he could hardly stand being in his own skin anymore. The only thing that made it bearable was Crowley directly in front of him, opening and closing his mouth though Dean couldn’t make much of it out.
His hearing came back eventually and he noticed Crowley was talking to him slow and gentle-like, which the heartless demon wasn’t even supposed to be capable of. They were small, simple words that Dean could hardly follow but appreciated nonetheless. He listened until they started making more sense, those words being the only thing available other than the jarring pain to cling onto.
“I could strip,” Crowley almost teased. It was the almost part that freaked Dean out, because the look in his eyes relayed it as a serious consideration and Dean couldn’t deal with that. And where the hell is Sam anyway? How dare he ditch my ass and leave me with Crowley, if that’s what this is. No one could hear him though; Dean couldn’t get one word out with his teeth chattering as violently as they were. And it wasn’t like Crowley couldn’t sense his frustration and anger, but it was completely like him to not give a flying fuck about it.
Or use it to his advantage.
“It’d get you warmer much quicker, darling,” the demon elaborated, as if Dean had lost what was left of his brain cells when he stupidly slipped and fell in that lake in the middle of goddamn winter. He and Sam had split up to get the hunt they’d been working on for nearly a week the hell over with already, and in Dean’s nearly unconscious state he had believed Sam had caught up with him and pulled him out of the lake.
It was pretty damn obvious now that that wasn’t the case.
Dean had been pretty close to checking out after he was dropped down onto snow that was more slush than hard packed, but the flash of black in that white hellhole should have been a dead giveaway even while Dean was coughing and trying to get a decent breath down his throat.
And now he remembered even more… hands that definitely weren’t Sam’s brushing off his face, warm and dry hands that brushed the water clinging to his skin away; a beard scratching against his cheek, fire against the numbing cold; a mouth pumping air into his lungs and he had known somehow it wasn’t Sam’s; someone pulling him up off the ground with no effort at all, as if he weighed nothing. No rumbling of his baby echoing against his frozen cheek, no jerking from potholes or the sound of keys jangling in a lock that no doubt led to their current shitty motel room.
All the telltale signs that it was Sam… and not one of them.
It was beyond him why Crowley would care, that he had one considerate bone in his entire vessel once he had taken it over. And Crowley definitely wouldn’t go to this much trouble to acquire blackmail material. Shit, but Dean still tasted him even now: expensive scotch coating his tongue, the distinct taste of hellfire still pooling in his belly, working its magic.
He opened his eyes wider, as wide as they could go, and honed in on Crowley. He was hovering over him, hands seemingly everywhere at once, trying like hell to keep Dean alive. It was unbelievable, infuriating, everything he could do not to push Crowley away with that foreign look of concern in his dark eyes, peering at Dean as if he thought the hunter was too out of it to notice it.
It was then, when Crowley had looked away and was fiddling with his sleeves, that Dean realized with horror that the demon’s coat had been thrown over him, tucked under his locked arms to keep it in place. Dean thought about throwing it off, but reminded himself he could swallow his pride or suffer that much more.
“Make up your mind before I make it up for you.” Dean shook even harder at the reminder. If he kept his mouth shut he could feign his incapability to talk, which he pretty much doubted he could do anyway, and hopefully get warmer quicker. If he didn’t say anything, he’d never live it down.
“Fuck off, Crow…,” he succeeded, voice sounding like it had gone through a grater but miraculously still there. If Crowley thought he could take advantage of him while he was down, well, then he had another thing coming. And when Sam came he would kick his ass. But Sam isn’t here, and he didn’t just save your life. He couldn’t shake the realization that Crowley was a damn warm son of a bitch, pressed up tight against Dean as he was, soft, flawless hands - no callouses - running up and down Dean’s back and his limbs, naked save for the multitude of blankets he was wrapped up in. And not that Sam undressing him was much better, but he hoped to hell Crowley hadn’t done it.
He glanced up at Crowley, helpless when his mind started to phase out again and he couldn’t quite remember how to move his eyes to look at something else. The demon, damn him, took that as his cue to further undress within Dean’s limited eye-line of sight. Dean wanted to scream at him to stop, goddamn him, but the look on Crowley’s face relayed regretful determination and echoed Dean’s vulnerable misery. He wasn’t getting any joy out of this, and Dean let his eyes slide shut while he silently prayed for Crowley to hurry the hell up already before he took one final icy breath and croaked.
Fuck, do I need to get my head pulled on straight.
This latest concussion was fucking with his head. Dean didn’t usually get migraines this intense, bad enough that he would push away Sam’s huge paws aiding him in his mother-henning, or cringe at his little brother’s voice if it was above and beyond a brief whisper. Fortunately, Sam knew to back off now.
It made no sense why Crowley’s soft, deep voice should prove a soothing balm.
“…leave it to the pros, Samantha. Dean here needs a deeper touch.”
Oh, fuck me. I am so not here right now. Why the hell did Sam call Crowley, of all damn…? A serious talk with Sam was needed when he could think straight again.
Dean was still on the floor where he had refused to move from, pressed up against a wall, though he wished he had thought better of it - not that he could think - because he was nothing but cornered now. Sam shifted as Crowley joined him, a hand joining Sam’s on the quickly melting bag of ice pressed to Dean’s forehead and then replacing it altogether.
Dean had whacked his head pretty damn hard against the refrigerator door, which didn’t do much to explain his current predicament. Crowley didn’t laugh at the absurdity of it all, and Dean closed his eyes and leaned back for a moment. He wasn’t even granted that, Crowley’s hand putting itself between Dean’s head and the wall. It felt better, and Dean had to grit his teeth to prevent himself from stupidly moving away.
Worse than all this?
The more Crowley talked, the more Dean seemed to come back to himself. Sure, there was still a raging pounding behind his eyes, and his head still felt like it was splitting into three - not simply two - pieces, but Crowley’s low, deep rumbling only betrayed Dean’s relief at simply having him there.
“You feeling better, De?” It felt like only a second later, but it might have been half an hour for all Dean was capable of grasping. His eyes were closed but he would know Sam’s smirk anywhere, grasped at his brother blindly before he could leave him alone with Crowley. Sam choked back a laugh at that, and Dean opened his eyes to realize he was grasping Crowley’s sleeve, the demon looking more amused than he had any right to be.
Damn them both.
Crowley plopped down on the end of the couch, which Dean was currently stretched out on. There were two nearby chairs, but Dean wasn’t in the mood to bring it up only to have the demon refuse him, so he rolled his eyes and kept them on the TV screen. He pulled his feet up but didn’t move other than that, giving Crowley some space, but that small motion seemed to offend the demon enough for him to immediately pick them up and place them in his lap. Dean didn’t pull his eyes from the screen, but he paid intense attention to what the hell Crowley thought he was doing.
The demon was supposed to be out somewhere finding the First Blade, not coming here to mercilessly tease Dean and flirt with him, trying to get some regrettable reaction out of him. Then again, Dean didn’t really want to think about the Mark right now, so he quickly got off the subject of Crowley’s priorities.
And then he got back to his feet in Crowley’s lap.
No more touching though: no massage, no devious tickling, nothing but the demon rudely balancing a bowl of popcorn on Dean’s ankle and avidly watching the bloody, tentacle-laden anime program Dean was only distractedly half-watching.
“Samantha around?” Crowley nonchalantly asked during the first commercial break.
Crowley knew. Of course he knew.
Dean shrugged. He left Sam alone since his whole spiel that they weren’t brothers anymore but strictly partners, downright hid from him after he gave Dean the whole wouldn’t save his life crap. He understood that Sam needed some space, he just wished he didn’t have to feel like hell on top of it. Dean took a swig of beer, hoping it would loosen up his parched throat and make it seem like he was perfectly capable of talking without cracking up.
He caught Crowley watching him and wanted to upend the bowl of popcorn over his head, wanted to tell him to mind his own damn business but subjected himself to another pull from the bottle instead. He pictured not being here right now and being on the road with Sam, in his baby, and when that didn’t work he imagined the tentacles oozing toxic green slime reaching out toward him, fit to strangle him.
“You do know I’m the king of distractions?” Dean jerked, scowled when Crowley reached for the remote and clicked the TV off. Whatever distractions Crowley had in mind he damn well wasn’t buying. “You’ll be alright,” the demon reassured, hand clasping Dean’s knee in a way that was way too intimate and Dean wasn’t nearly drunk enough for. And Dean still pretended that he was anywhere but here, though he still listened to Crowley somehow. “Moose just needs to sulk for a good long while, then you two’ll be getting on my bloody nerves again. It’s just what you do.” As if that was the explanation for everything.
How the hell had Crowley managed to survive in their lives this damn long?
The question couldn’t be more pertinent when the demon had the audacity to steal his last bottle of beer, and then had the balls to complain. Dean let him get away with it, but only because Crowley’s tenderness - which Dean definitely didn’t plan on calling it - had struck a chord in him, one that rippled within his chest and stole his breath.
And he hoped that Crowley was right about just this one thing.
Dean couldn’t deny it was a beautiful day, and the only thing that would have made it better was if Sam was beside him pouting about the volume of the music. Instead it was Crowley, who usually complained exaggeratedly about the company, but recently only complained when Dean wasn’t lightening up like he thought he should. Sam and Castiel were checking out the last of five suspected warehouses, which left Dean and Crowley to interview their remaining witnesses. Crowley had insisted on going with Dean, which would have been weird enough without completely tolerating Dean’s music choices to boot.
Until someone in an abused pickup truck - who clearly had no respect for himself if he didn’t have it for his ride - with guns blazing ambushed them on the road.
Crowley kept up a steady, if at times obnoxious litany of demands while Dean focused primarily on driving, and somewhat on the Metallica blaring from the speakers. Shouts like ‘they’re gaining on us!’ and ‘put your bloody foot down harder on that bloody pedal, Winchester!’ and maybe Dean’s favorite after dodging a third bullet: ‘You and I are spending a week in a bar after this!’
A man - okay, demon - after Dean’s own heart.
One could almost think that Crowley had never been in a car chase before; regardless, Dean was too busy driving at the moment to ask. Dean Winchester himself bringing excitement and danger into Crowley’s centuries old existence, who would’ve thought?
“To the left, to the left!” Crowley swore, though it was a good thing he didn’t put his hand on the steering wheel, unless he wanted Dean to hack it off. “Bloody hell, I can’t watch…” Dean smirked as he caught the demon shielding his face out of the corner of his eye, amused when he swung a hard right and the truck behind them hit a tree Dean had just purposely narrowly avoided, which caused Crowley to stare speechlessly behind them for a long minute before laughing uproariously until he was wiping tears out of his eyes. Dean didn’t miss how pale the guy looked, almost as if he were on the verge of a heart attack, and with a completely unwanted pang he missed his summer as a demon with Crowley. They hadn’t had this specific brand of fun, but they had had something: weightlessness, glorious freedom, some fucked up sort of connection… whatever the hell you wanted to call it. It amazed him how alive he could feel with Crowley as his partner in crime. “You’re going to be the death of me, Dean Winchester.”
“You’re starting to grow on me too, Boris.” And it felt genuine, that comment, because he was freaked out by how human the demon could seem at times, at how often he boasted of their bromance as if in all his centuries he had nothing else better to talk about. He shouldn’t give a damn, but he felt light laughing right along with Crowley, and he hadn’t felt that in such a long time, barring his time as a demon, that he didn’t know what to do with it. He turned around, backtracking, a smile pulling at his lips effortlessly: a mirror of Crowley’s own.
But he sure as hell wasn’t taking directions from Crowley or letting him drive Baby while he was still above ground.
Dean figured that Crowley’s need to always know where he was would come in handy someday.
Because Dean had been bested and held in some freak show’s ratty circus tent for a week, and the demon decided to come looking. Sam had no freaking clue where he was, but Crowley was resourceful at best and downright scary at worst.
Dean choked out the demon’s name, only the first half exiting his bloodied mouth, a pathetic “Crow…,” when he glanced down and caught sight of a familiar black coat. Damn that coat, but it was becoming more familiar to him now than Cas’ own tan one. He could hug the demon as he put a finger up to his lips, quietly shushing him, and Dean finally finally allowed himself to slump in his shackles - ever-grating against his torn skin - in astonished relief.
It was pretty damn satisfying hearing Crowley tear the freak a new asshole, screams as drawn out as Dean’s own had been and exuding every bit of agony Dean had been forced to endure, as he had been cut into with a dull blade. He opened his eyes after a minute, wanting to see Crowley drenched in blood, fists pounding, fingernails - and teeth? - tearing, and he got every ounce and more of his wish, a satisfied smile painfully stretching his bruised mouth before his eyes slid shut again. The silence was as slippery as Dean’s blood was, interspersed with pleas and whimpers that weren’t Dean’s own.
A featherlight touch at his throat, another at the back of his knee, the immense weight of his body as he hung in place and then it was gone. No drop, no hard fall to the grass, just arms catching him, holding him for no more than a second and then putting him down so softly Dean didn’t even feel it. He tried to hold his head up despite being on the verge of passing out again, but a hand slipped under his chin and supported him.
“You’re a sight for sore eyes, darling.” That voice, god how Dean loved that voice, that snarky, flirtatious, brimstone packed voice. “Looks like I came just in time.”
Jesus, Crowley. I owe you one of those bottles of scotch you like so damn much.
He couldn’t quite open his eyes again, so he took comfort from Crowley’s voice - pitched infinitely low though Dean never had to strain once to hear it - while he could get it, and let Crowley check him over simultaneously because the demon deserved that much.
“I could torture him for a good few years, pet. Just give me the word.” Dean practically gulped, eyes shooting open in a flash, both astounded and incredibly turned on by Crowley’s willingness to get payback for him. But the mutilation and subsequent kill wouldn’t be denied Dean. He held out a hand for the demon knife, which Crowley placed in his palm without a mutter of protest reflecting Dean’s stupidity. His fingers were carefully curled around the handle. “I’ll be outside. Take your time.”
Because Crowley knew that Dean would find the strength he had left to stand, the energy enough to tear through skin and blood and bone until he was sated. Dean turned his head, pausing as he slowly tried to sit up, though the words died in his throat while Crowley pulled back the flap and stepped outside to the deserted fairground, the wide open space having fed off Dean’s pain for longer than he could bear thinking about.
Some things, he figured, couldn’t be voiced.
And better for them all that they weren’t.
Dean had given in.
Or maybe it wasn’t so much giving in as that the demon had been there more times than Dean could tally up in his head, and there was just too much to pinpoint about Crowley that he liked. Could he just check off everything? That voice was one thing: deep, husky, downright charming when he wanted it to be. Another: the weight of him, how he felt resting on top of Dean after making out slowly for the better part of an hour, how he felt pressed up behind Dean as they slept: plush, warm limbs and feeling every bit like memory foam pillows.
Okay, so Crowley could be pretty damn irresistible when he wanted to be, until Dean figured out that it was all the time.
He actually found himself getting concerned when Crowley started to talk about hell, stress lines indenting his forehead, and his thoughts always kept drifting to where Crowley was, especially if he didn’t know. It got Dean pretty pissed off at first, and then outright depressed and drowning it in a bottle when he realized he didn’t know how far Crowley’s bromance concept extended, and whether or not all those sexual jokes were just to rile Dean up rather than serve as promises to be cashed in at a later date… when Dean got his head out of his ass.
But it all worked out. It took some conniving from Sam and a few lectures from Cas, for both of them, but here they were.
“Would you bloody well pay attention!” Crowley demanded, hands successfully ridding Dean of his henley and pressing him hard down into the mattress. Dean tried to push up, not that he minded being the bottom but the demon had been getting on his damn nerves lately, but Crowley held him sure and fast. He usually didn’t abuse his strength unless Dean begged for it, but now he was really pissing Dean off. Until… “I’ll make it worth your while,” Crowley whispered filthily into his ear.
“Bet you a bottle of that stuff you’re nuts about if you do.” But it’s gonna have to be damn good, Crowley.
The demon pulled up at that, staring down at him in astonishment. “Darling, you couldn’t even afford me if I wasn’t so crazy about you. What makes you think you could afford a bottle of the illustrious Craig?”
“You?” Dean balked, almost stuttering if it wasn’t already completely obvious how Crowley felt. He had just… never said it before. “Crazy about me?”
“Mmm hmm,” Crowley answered, damn attractive beard scratching roughly against Dean’s cheek - just how he liked it - as the demon claimed his mouth like it was little more than a chew toy. He released Dean, but Dean didn’t push out from under him.
Dean didn’t say it; by the smile Crowley pressed not discreetly enough into the curve of Dean’s arm, he knew it well-enough.
He was kinda crazy about the guy too.