Crowley looks bleakly around his empty, fucking empty throne room, and shifts slightly on the throne. The grey stone walls echo the silence back to him, while the fires from the candles scattered throughout seem an ineffective counter to the constant shadows.
Why did I break that lance? He contemplates his hands with a twisted grimace. Why am I putting myself on the line and throwing away valuable weapons for people who will never truly accept me?
He shoves away the memory of Dean’s stricken face, of Castiel blood-covered and fading, of his own sudden overwhelming impulse to keep them safe from harm. When did I start to care?
But when a demon slips into the room and looks at him, guarded, Crowley finds himself going carefully blank at the sight of Dean striding in behind. He could almost miss the fact that Castiel is silently shadowing Dean; but no, of course Feathers is there.
“Hey.” Dean stops in front of him, considering him carefully.
“To what do I owe the pleasure?” Crowley leans back in attempted nonchalance. “Something else you need from me? Since that is when I tend to hear from you.”
“I, um, wanted to thank you,” Dean looks unexpectedly awkward. “For saving Cas. We couldn’t have survived without your help, and, well, we owe you.” A hint of color stains his cheeks, but he meets Crowley’s eyes squarely.
Crowley reaches for a quick response, and fails to find one. He darts a look at Castiel, whose eyes are too knowingly sympathetic. He coughs, focuses on Dean, and manages, “Well, I should hope so. Priceless weapon like that, I think you might owe me more than one.” His smooth face hides the twisting in his gut, the small voice whispering stop antagonizing them, fool. “Anything else to say to me?”
A flash of something flits across Dean’s face, gone in an instant. Too quickly for Crowley to identify. “Naw,” Dean says. “Just—you know how to find us.” Dean turns to leave, but is stopped by Castiel’s hand on his sleeve.
Castiel holds Dean’s gaze for a moment, then turns and steps up to the throne and holds out his hand. Crowley looks at Castiel’s hand blankly then slowly reaches out to clasp it. Castiel tightens his hold and leans in, regarding Crowley with the weight of ageless knowledge in his eyes.
“Thank you.” The words are soft, but fill the room, press against Crowley. “I will not forget your sacrifice.” Castiel puts a breath more force into their grip, then releases and steps back. “You may count me as an ally, Crowley; use it wisely.”
Crowley stares at him. For a moment he cannot think, then summons his default smirk and replies, “Of course Feathers, wouldn’t dream of doing otherwise.”
Castiel tilts his head briefly, eyes narrowed, then nods and moves back to Dean, grabbing Dean’s hand and turning towards the door.
“Oh, we can go now?” Dean says dryly, flicking a glance back at Crowley. “Okay then. See you around.”
They walk out the door, hands still clasped together. Crowley watches their backs, overcoat and plaid, receding; and carefully doesn’t look at their hands, doesn’t remember Castiel’s hand in his, doesn’t remember the flash of Dean’s eyes or the time they spent together when Dean was a demon.
“That went well,” he says, as the shadows creep back up towards the candles, and then the quiet descends again.