After a shipwreck, Crowley runs into someone he dreads.
Crowley gripped the rough wooden rail desperately as he heaved once again over the side. This was much to the dismay of some dolphins that had been skimming along in the lilting ship's wake, blissfully ignorant of that vessel's recent nefarious past. He scowled. Served them right, bloody overgrown tuna. Eyes scrunched shut, he rested his head against his arms as he willed his stomach to back to calmness.
When the captain of the Red Greed had put out the notice for new crewmen on Tortuga, Crowley signed up on a lark. Pirates were right up there with religious fanatics in rates of sinning per hour; he could take care of a decade's worth of work in a couple of months. But after a successful raid of Trinidad port, weighed down with Spanish gold, they ran into a hurricane off the coast of Florida that fell upon them like, well, like the wrath of God. Lightning smote and rain lashed down as the ocean did its best to batter the ship into matchwood. Only Crowley's influence kept it from being utterly destroyed. As it was, the entire crew had been washed overboard, sacrificed to the angry sea for their greed. Well, Crowley thought, at least my nostrils will be spared the stench.
Stomach empty, he rested his head against the warped floor of the wreck, content for the moment to watch the glitter of the sun upon the turquoise sea. The water was clear and impossibly still; it was hard to believe that a few hours ago it had been a churning abyss of white foam and fathomless depths. After a few minutes of aimless drifting, he discerned a gray blur on the horizon. He squinted, his eyesight suddenly as acute as an eagle's, to verify that it was indeed land. More like a pathetic heap of sand dumped in a shallow part of the ocean but land, technically. It would do for now. He changed the wind's direction (an act that also served to bring droughts to parts of the eastern coast of Mexico in the coming months) to bring what was left of the Red Greed ashore. By the time he arrived, all that was left of the once proud vessel was the plank he was drifting in on. The rest had broken off to rest on the sandy bottom of the Caribbean or to drift sadly along behind him.
He splashed the last few yards to the beach and collapsed on hot, blindingly white sand. He sank into it gratefully and dozed, as he let the heat evaporate all the water from his body.
- - -
He woke up with a start to a surprisingly chilly dawn. Fog drifted down among the trees and even over the waves that listlessly lapped at the shore. A few dim stars shone overhead but in the east the horizon glowed faintly, a promise of future heat and light. He shivered and sat up, willing himself fully clothed and free of excess sand. He ran a hand through his unruly hair, and let out a little shriek as his hand dislodged the tiny crab that had sought shelter in his hair. It scamped down his back in alarm. He blushed, glad no one was around to hear him. Or so he thought.
"Hsssss-sssssss," snickered a sibilant voice. The sound came from one of the caves set in the rocky cliff about a quarter mile inland, carved ages ago by the patient action of the waves when the oceans were higher. "Little Crawly is afraid of a tiny hermit crab, how amusing."
Crowley jumped the the use of his old name. "It's Crowley now," he said coldly. "Not that I expect denizens of forsaken sandbars in the middle of nowhere to be up on current events. Show yourself."
A chill ran down his spine as a monstrous creature undulated out of the cave. It appeared to be vaguely serpent-like in shape, with bluish-purple scales and large, sickly green eyes. It stretched up, towering over Crowley, in order to look down upon him from its great height. It opened its mouth, revealing yellowed fangs dripping with poison that sizzled as it fell upon the sand. A ghastly tongue was visible, black and slick like an oil spill.
"Oh, it's only you, Levy," said Crowley, fear leaving in a surge that was quickly replaced by annoyance. Family reunions were always so tedious.
"It's /Leviathan/. As in Leviathan from a little book called the /Bible/?" snapped the great sea monster.
"Uh-huh, whatever. So how are the wife and kids?" he asked, examining his fingernails.
Levy snorted, a foul gust of sulfur-scented air that made everything stink of rotten eggs for several minutes. "The same as usual. The spawn are ungrateful brats who wouldn't know a good shipwreck from the capsizing of a child's toy boat in a rain gutter. They swam off to the Indian Ocean for a little sight-seeing, as they put it. Can you believe it?! Kids these days. Flora is off in Japan right now being worshiped as a sea goddess but her cult grows more obscure by the day. I think she's got about two worshipers left, both little bald old men who argue over whose turn it is to sacrifice the monthly goat and who has to clean the altar afterwards. Not like the old days. She used to get a royal virgin every year, bedecked in fine silks and pearls. Now it's just a mangy old goat and half the time it escapes!" Levy shook his head in sorrow and disgust.
"Mmm-hmm, yeah, how terrible. So uh, I've got things to do and people to tempt, so how about telling me where the nearest city is, eh?" said Crowley, when Levy looked like he was settling in for a nice, long rant. It was no use.
An hour later, Crowley was sitting on the beach, idly drawing figures in the sand with one hand as his cousin droned on and on about how life as a sea monster wasn't so great anymore. During prolonged pauses, Crowley would nod and say "mmm-hmm" or "how terrible", and Levy would continue, satisfied.
"And I'm not even on the maps anymore! They took me off the maps! I was famous. I was an icon!" said Levy, his eyes wide and full of indignation. "But those mermaid tarts still get to be on there. What do they got that I don't got, huh, Crowley?"
"Shell bras?" he suggested.
Levy wasn't listening. He stared sadly off into the distance, basking in memories of thrashing his tail upon a glorious wooden vessel with tall masts and white sails, splintering it in one blow. In his memory, he heard again the shrieks of the passengers and sighed wistfully.
"Ah, it's not like how it used to be," he whispered.
Crowley looked up. Levy seemed to have come to the end of his speech.
"Come on, Levy, it's not that bad. You just have to learn to adapt. You want to be back on the maps, you have to earn it! You're not going to get there by sitting around dank caves complaining to hermit crabs and anyone who happens to wash up. Go out there and smash up some ships! Unless you don't remember how to anymore," said Crowley, lifting an eyebrow.
"By Jove, Crawly, you're right! I've been sitting here feeling sorry for myself for too long now! I gotta go out there and strike fear into the hearts of men, just like the old days!" Levy lifted up his great, ugly head and scanned the horizon. "There's even a ship about twenty miles away!" Levy thrashed his tail in anticipation, like a dog about to go on a walk if the dog were actually a gigantic hideous sea monster.
"Want to come, Crowley? I can drop you off along the coast of Jamaica afterward," said Levy. Poison frothed from his mouth, he was so excited. Crowley winced.
"Uh, sure. Just watch the poison. I don't fancy having to regrow my skin right now."
"Of course, of course," said Levy. He lowered his head and Crowley gingerly perched himself on top between what might be ears or what might be horns, it was hard to tell.
The men of the HMS Discovery were not a disappointment. They screamed, wept, prayed, wet themselves, begged for mercy, everything Levy had dreamed about the last few decades. A few brave ones fired their muskets into his side but the little flecks of metal they projected bounced off his scales harmlessly. Levy stretched over the boat, savoring the moment. He lifted his tail high in the air, in preparation for the blow...
"What do you think you are doing?" said a stern voice.
With a great splash, Levy dropped his tail back into the water in surprise.
He stared at the little figure standing on the deck and shaking its head in disappointment. Levy felt terribly ashamed all of a sudden, like when he was a child and his mother caught him snacking on fish heads before supper.
The figure adjusted his wig and shook his finger at Levy. "Levy. And Crowley. This vessel is under my protection and I will not see you destroy it, understand?"
Levy shrank back. "Yes, sir. Sorry, sir," he added.
Crowley leapt off Levy's head and onto the deck. "Sorry, Aziraphale. Didn't know this was one of yours," he said, untroubled by Aziraphale's disapproval.
Aziraphale frowned at him but turned back to Levy. "Leviathan. I repeat, just what do you think you are doing?"
"Um, uh, destroying the ship, sir," said Levy in what was the closest thing to a whisper he could produce. The crew coughed as the smell overwhelmed them and they collapsed to the deck, unconscious.
"And why are you doing that?" continued Aziraphale.
"...so I could be famous again," said Levy, avoiding Aziraphale's gaze.
"Fame, is it?" Aziraphale's brow furrowed in thought. Then he smiled. "I believe I've thought up a compromise that will leave us both satisfied." A grin spread across Levy's face as Aziraphale explained.
"So Levy's going to fill in for the old Loch Ness monster, is he?" said Crowley skeptically.
"Yes, but instead of terrorizing the populace and getting himself killed by angry villagers, he's going to only appear in the mists for a few seconds so no one will be sure he exists at all. He'll become a mystery instead of a menance. People will love it," said Aziraphale firmly.
"If you say so," said Crowley, shrugging. He tugged at the hem of his fancy new uniform of the Royal Navy. "Shall we go? I know of this great little pub in Kingston, you'll love it."
They smiled and headed off the ship together.