ANTHONY J CROWLEY
Hell's Most Approachable Demon
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“Crowley had always known that he would be around when the world ended, because he was immortal and wouldn’t have any alternative. But he hoped it was a long way off.
Because he rather liked people. It was major failing in a demon.
Oh, he did his best to make their short lives miserable, because that was his job, but nothing he could think up was half as bad as the stuff they thought up themselves. They seemed to have a talent for it. It was built into the design, somehow. They were born into a world that was against them in a thousand little ways, and then devoted most of their energies to making it worse.
Over the years Crowley had found it increasingly difficult to find anything demonic to do which showed up against the natural background of generalized nastiness. There had been times, over the past millennium, when he’d felt like sending a message back Below saying, Look we may as well give up right now, we might as well shut down Dis and Pandemonium and everywhere and move up here, there’s nothing we can do to them that they don’t do to themselves and they do things we’ve never even thought of, often involving electrodes. They’ve got what we lack. They’ve got imagination. And electricity, of course. One of them had written it, hadn’t he…”Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.”
Crowley got a commendation for the Spanish Inquisition. He had been in Spain then, mainly hanging around cantinas in the nicer parts, and hadn’t even known about it until the commendation arrived.
He’d gone to have a look, and come back and got drunk for a week.”
Anthony J Crowley began his existence as ‘Crawly’, the eponymous temptation of Eve in the form of a snake in the Garden of Eden. It was some time before this that he ‘Fell’ from Heaven - though he prefers to say he ‘sauntered’, and he was the first to do it - not through any real wrongdoing of his own, but simply through hanging around with the wrong crowd. At the end of the day, in his opinion, there isn’t that much difference between Heaven and Hell anyway.
Before and after the first Temptation, and subsequent banishing of humanity from Eden, Crawly found himself spending time talking to the angel who had been set to guard the gates. This angel’s name was Aziraphale, and he was terribly preoccupied with the idea that he might have done the wrong thing by giving his sword away to Eve after seeing them living cold and miserable in the wasteland outside of Eden. Crawly, somewhat amused, wondered briefly if he had done the right thing and Aziraphale had done the wrong thing, and wouldn’t that be funny... before quickly deciding - with the angel in agreement - that no, it wouldn’t be funny at all.
Time moved on, as time is wont to do, and Crawly - who renamed himself ‘Crowley’ after deciding that it simply wasn’t him, slowly came to an Arrangement with Aziraphale that made so much mutual sense that it almost wasn’t worthy of the capital letter. It was the kind of arrangement in which pawns of opposing forces who by chance and circumstance spend a great deal of time in one another’s pockets come to realise that being in constant active conflict is simply exhausting, ultimately pointless, and (when the bosses aren’t really watching anyway) the same ends can be achieved simply by not really meddling in each others business.
Through this arrangement, an angel and a demon became what a human might call ‘friends’.
Crowley was fairly happy with this arrangement. He moved along with the world, finding new ways to tempt and twist humanity to sin, steadfastly trying to forget the fourteenth century (which many of his peers appeared to be trapped in) until The Time Came. One might have said it was inevitable. Aziraphale would have probably said it was ineffable, and Crowley would have hissed at him for it. The Time Came when Crowley was summoned, and handed a squalling baby in a wicker basket, with explicit instructions to take it to a nearby hospital and hand it to a group of Satanic Nuns named the Chattering Order of St. Beryl.
What happened after that, he didn’t really want to know about, though it would have saved a lot of trouble if he’d stuck around.
The demon had always been a fan of the Apocalypse as a general idea, but he had one major failing as a demon - he liked the world, and he liked people, and he would have liked to continue liking them for a good while longer. He liked how inventive they were, how creative, and how they would inevitably do worse things to themselves than anything any Prince of Hell could dream up. All it took was a little nudge, and sometimes not even that. Wonderful creatures.
Over the following years, Crowley and his frienemy, Aziraphale, sent their respective agents to press their respective influences over the Antichrist, a young boy unfortunately named Warlock Dowling who showed no real promise at all in terms of demonic abilities until the age of eleven… when it turned out that he wasn’t the Antichrist after all. In a truly cosmic blunder, the real Antichrist had been accidentally given to a completely normal family, had been named ‘Adam’, and had grown up with absolutely no demonic or angelic influence on his life whatsoever. This didn’t necessarily keep him from being the Antichrist - Adam was capable of many things that he didn’t realise, including warping reality, but the loving environment in which he had been raised had turned those powers to something far more benevolent than Hell would have ever wanted, and Heaven could have ever expected.
Upon realising that something was certainly Not Right about Warlock Dowling (something that Crowley suspiciously referred to as ‘too normal’ and Aziraphale optimistically credited to good Heavenly influence), both Crowley and Aziraphale attended Warlock’s eleventh birthday party, at which he would definitely be receiving a special hellhound from Hell itself, to… lay waste to his enemy, and all that. Three in the afternoon came and went and the dog didn’t appear, and both Crowley and Aziraphale finally surmised that the past eleven years had been spent watching entirely the wrong child.
Crowley refused to be blamed for this, naturally - he hadn’t known there was a third baby mixed up in all the baby-swapping, and those nuns had been weird, it was really no wonder at all that they managed to mess it up. The angel and demon set out to find the child that they should have been watching, with Crowley painstakingly retracing his steps and muddy memory back to the small town of Lower Tadfield where he had first - reluctantly - set the first steps of the impending Apocalypse in motion. After getting lost and accidentally hitting a young witch by the name of Anathema Device (though he claimed that she, in fact, hit him), and escorting her home on Aziraphale’s insistence, the two find their way to the hospital where the Antichrist was born. There, as luck would have it, still resided one of the nuns of the Chattering Order, though they didn’t get into the place without incident.
In the time between when Crowley was last there and the present, the hospital had been abandoned by the order and turned into something a little more commercial. The first thing that happens when Aziraphale and Crowley step out of the demon’s Bentley is that they are both unceremoniously shot... with paintballs.
Having no patience for that kind of nonsense, given the current very weighty gravity of their situation, Crowley transformed into what is only described as ‘something terrible’ and gave their assailant such a fright that he fainted. Dire straits indeed, when Crowley simply hated taking such a form with the worry that one day he might just forget how to change back (and it can ruin a good suit). Aziraphale thought that the maggots were a bit much.
(While not essential to the story, it is important to make note of what Crowley does with the paintballing office workers after they enter the building. With all of their guns suddenly transformed into real guns, they quickly give in to their base desires (no doubt thanks to a gentle suggestion) and start shooting at each other. In the face of Aziraphale’s disapproval, Crowley admits that no one is actually going to get hurt, and they will all have miraculous escapes. The angel is cut short from saying that he thinks the demon isn’t all bad after all.)
They discovered the remaining nun - one Sister Loquacious - who informed them that all records from eleven years ago were destroyed in a fire (thanks Hestor). With very little to go on and the problematic fact that neither of them would be able to find the Antichrist on their own, thanks to certain cosmic protections on the child, they were forced to engage their local agents. As irony would have it, said agents happened to be the same people.
Events unfolded. Adam continued to shape reality to his imaginative whims, the Witchfinder Private Newt Pulsifer met the witch Anathema Device, and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse each received a particular package and began to make their way to the place where the Big One would take place.
Unbeknownst to Crowley, Aziraphale found a certain book of prophecies in the back of his Bentley - dropped there by the very witch that hit the car - and through it he very soon worked out the name, and even the exact address of the person they both were looking for. He struggled over who to tell first, and his nature won out, but it was in informing Heaven of his discoveries that he found that they didn’t really give much of a jot about stopping the Apocalypse at all. Shaken, he turned to the one person that he knew he could entirely trust - he turned to Crowley.
At that time, Crowley was unfortunately indisposed (and this was bad news for Aziraphale, who found himself inconveniently discorporealised moments later), and had very little time to listen to his friend when he called. At that time, Crowley was facing off with a Duke of Hell in the office of his exquisite London apartment, after sneakily disposing of another in a careful trap involving a bucket of holy water. After his attempts to trick Hestor went awry, he jumped into the phone line and - after a quick chase and much of Hestor screaming bloody hell at him - trapped the Duke in his telephone’s answering machine.
He was then unable to get hold of Aziraphale through usual means - amazing things, telephones - so drove to his book shop, arriving to find it on fire. Dodging a dozen fire fighters and half the curious population of Soho, he ducked into the burning store desperately searching for help, but found nothing but the Book. After he discovered a note from Aziraphale in the back and realised that the angel was certainly no longer in the equation (for now), he set off for Lower Tadfield, entirely brutalising his until then pristine vintage Bentley in the process.
The Apocalypse was well underway, and the M25 ringroad (bless it) had become the dark sigil Odegra. Crowley never regretted his hand in it more than that moment, and though crossing it would certainly not do him any harm, the same couldn’t be said for his car. He made it across to the M40 by sheer force of will, with the rest of the journey taken up with convincing the car that its rapidly disintegrating form was still capable of running, and making sure that he remembered not to breathe. The effort of holding a car together like that plays hell with a demon inside a mortal body, with the biospatial feedback casting an eerie red glow from behind his shades, and when he finally arrived at Lower Tadfield Airbase he felt just a bit unwell.
Much to his muted surprise, Aziraphale was already there, the angel having possessed the body of a middle aged woman and co-opted the assistance of the Witchfinder Shadwell to make his way to the airbase. While they tried to persuade the guard on duty to let them in, Adam and his three friends arrived and the gate lifted to let them through. Aziraphale, at the end of his own considerable patience, ‘moved’ the guard to ‘somewhere else’ and cleared the way for them to follow. In a classic scenario of everything coming together as it should, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse were right on time as well, but they did not find things as they expected.
Adam, you see, had no interest in continuing the Apocalypse at all. He liked his family, he liked his friends, and he liked the planet for all of its faults. He made his choice, and the Horsemen vanished… save for one, who simply left.
Crowley and Aziraphale were finally able to meet Adam - who realised very quickly that the angel should really not be inside that poor woman’s body and put him back into his own - but the peace didn’t last very long. The highest agents of Heaven and Hell - the Metatron and Beelzebub - appeared to convince Adam that the Grand Plan cannot be deviated from. The end of the world must come… but the question was - why?
The demon was almost entirely unable to contain his glee as, in the face of Adam’s astute arguments, neither agent were really able to say why what was happening must happen at all. In a few simple phrases the Antichrist saved the world (bravo, take a half day)… but there was yet another problem to solve. The rather more personal one of Satan himself attempting to rise and discipline his errant son. Crowley, seeing himself with nothing more to lose, armed himself with a tyre iron while Aziraphale picked up his (War’s) sword and wreathed it with flame. The angel and demon, wings spread, walk into battle side by side.
Only for Adam to twist reality once again.
Instead of a vengeful and angry Satan, the father who showed up in instead an angry Mr Young, who took Adam home and grounded him.
Crowley and Aziraphale shared a bottle of wine.
The following day, a demon and an angel took a walk in St James’ Park. Amidst the clandestine agents and occasional parents chasing after a young child, they discussed the Inevitable Lack of Inevitability in the Divine Plan, then decided to go to the Ritz for lunch. It was a Sunday, and it was the first day of the rest of their lives.
+ Manipulation of… pretty much everything. Crowley is show to be able to manipulate matter from simply turning off the lights of his Bentley or driving it for decades without petrol, to outright warping reality (to an extent).
+ Can turn into a large snake (but doesn’t really like to).
+ Can turn into ‘something terrible’ (but really doesn’t like to).
+ Can turn into other things (there's a pattern here).
+ Can bring out the worst in people. Literally. He had a personal hand in the creation of radio, television, Manchester, and the M25 London Circular (of which he is particularly proud).
+ Can terrify plants into growing.
+ Doesn’t need to sleep/eat/drink, but likes to.
+ Can make himself sober in seconds.
+ As a demon, is actually - rather than metaphorically - immortal.
+ Can manifest wings - white ones.
EYES: Gold/yellow, slitted pupils
MIND READING: Y
KILLING: You can try
( efficio )