Public Relations for the Socially Challenged
The fact that Schuldich was expected to behave like a civilized human being (Crawford's words) and play nice with a room full of fake, sycophantic upper-class assholes had put the telepath in a decidedly testy mood.
Because not only was he being forced to deal with the scum of society, but Crawford had insisted (commanded) that they both attend the function, paying no attention whatsoever to the date so helpfully circled, highlighted, and underlined on the calendar displayed right over the apartment's coffee maker.
Or he knew exactly what day it was and had chosen to not give a shit.
Which meant Schuldich felt entirely justified in his secret plotting to bring unbearable pain and humiliation to the American before the end of the night. The idea of public humiliation had a certain charm to it.
But for now he would hold his tongue, keep a frozen smile on his face, and offer a nod of interest every time the three horridly-dressed women who had cornered him paused for breath.
Schuldich, of course, had no idea whatsoever what was being discussed. There was quite a bit of girlish giggling on the old hags' parts, and a lot of fluttering hand movements, but Schuldich's mind was not on the conversation at hand. His eyes subtly shifted about, seeking out a familiar cream suit in a sea of prim and proper tight-asses in gucci and armani. It took him a few minutes to locate the Precog; partly because there were a few other men in light-colored suits...
And partly because Crawford fit in uncannily well in this environment.
Which was a very depressing thought as far as Schuldich was concerned.
"And what about you, Shuduru-san?"
It was the horrible butchering of his name that yanked his attention back to his three smiling captors. "Huh?" he asked intelligently, barely managing to keep the syllable congenial.
"Where is your date? Don't tell me a handsome young man like you is flying solo tonight?"
Schuldich forced a thin smile, but before he could think of an answer, one of the other women gave a gasp of affront, placing a hand to the side of her mouth for secrecy and lowering her voice to a hiss. The other two leaned in close to hear the gossip.
"Don't look now, but Yamaguchi-san is having one too many bourbans if you ask me. Look at him, he can barely stand up! His wife must be so embarrassed."
Schuldich used the distraction to take a quick peek at his watch. Half past eleven. The day was nearly over.
He almost jumped out of his skin when a well-manicured hand wrapped around his elbow. He turned his head to offer a threat and nearly bumped noses with Crawford, who was leaning forward slightly to speak to the startled wives.
"Excuse me, my associate and I have another appointment. I'm afraid I'm going to have to steal him from you."
Instant forgiveness, Schuldich thought firmly as he offered the disappointed women a quick smile before following the older man towards the door.
Instant but temporary.
As soon as they were in the parking lot, he wrenched his arm free and hit Crawford in the shoulder, none too gently.
Schuldich was unsympathetic to the dispassionate protest. "That's two hours of my life I'm never gonna get back," he spat. "The next time you get invited to one of these goddamn stupid dinner parties, leave me the hell out of it."
Crawford dug his car keys out of his pocket, unperturbed as he led the way to the car. "A little culture won't kill you, Schuldich."
Schuldich snorted loudly, shoving his hands deep in his pockets and slouching. "Culture, HAH!"
"It's not like you had anything better to do besides rot your brain in front of the television or download porn," Crawford noted mildly as they slid into the car and he started the engine.
Schuldich offered him an angry stare, then at the last minute decided not to bother with a correction. He glared out of the window, fuming, and refused to speak the whole way home.
He stomped up the stairs ahead of the older man, nearly broke the key in the apartment door's lock, and stomped some more as he went inside, kicking off his uncomfortable dress shoes as he went so that one thumped against the wall and the other skittered across the floor.
"Stop throwing a temper tantrum, Schuldich," Crawford admonished, unimpressed as he turned on the lights and tugged at his tie. "You're acting like a child."
"Go fuck yourself with a rake," Schuldich snarled over his shoulder, throwing himself onto the couch and rooting for the remote. He began channel surfing viciously, a look of murder on his face.
Crawford watched him for a moment, expressionless, then retreated to his bedroom.
Schuldich managed to stay silent and fuming for all of ten minutes (he was secretly proud of his self-control) before his patience and temper gave out on him. He tossed the remote aside and stamped to the other man's bedroom, intent on finding a wire hanger and strangling the American with it.
"How fucking hard is it to remember ONE DAY out of the whole fucking year??" he snapped as he booted the bedroom door open. "I know your miniscule brain can only process so much data at a time, but--" And there his rant ended with a rather undignified gurgle, because Crawford had taken off his expensive three-piece suit.
And hadn't bothered to change into anything else.
He turned slightly from where he was hanging the suit up in his closet, arching a brow in query. His boxers had already been tucked into the laundry basket in the corner.
"Shut your mouth, you look ridiculous."
Schuldich realized his jaw was practically unhinged and snapped it shut audibly. After a moment he hastily reached behind himself and pulled the door shut. "Uhhh..." His eyes raked the older man from head to foot, greedily taking in the sight that had visited him only in particularly vivid wet dreams. "I like the outfit."
"I thought you might." Crawford closed the closet door calmly and removed his glasses, placing them on the bedside table. "I didn't forget, Schuldich; and even if I had, your grafitti on the calendar would have made it impossible to--Mmph," he protested.
Schuldich only kissed him harder, forcing his tongue past slack teeth and running his hands roughly down a well-toned body to clutch fiercely at the other man's hips.
Crawford tried to say something around the tongue in his mouth, then gave up and resorted to dragging Schuldich's clothes off piece by piece.
"So are we ever gonna bump uglies or what?" Schuldich had demanded with a suggestive leer, days before the fateful final face-off with Weiß. "You know you want this."
Crawford had not even bothered to look up from his Wall Street Journal to appreciate the freshly showered body displayed in the bathroom doorway. "Next year, June eighteenth," he intoned.
Schuldich hesitated, squinting suspiciously.
Crawford took a sip of his coffee.
"Wait. Are you serious? Did you just use your brain to see when you're finally gonna cave?"
"Go get dressed before Nagi sees you."
"Hey, are you serious?"
Schuldich's wide mouth split in a grin of predatory delight. "Oh ho, don't think I'm gonna forget this, Oracle. You better keep your word."
Finally Crawford's eyes lifted to meet his gaze, face composed. "Don't I always?"