The Weekend Meme
The drawback of being all-knowing was that there was that little dash in between 'all' and 'knowing'. Crawford had long since decided that that little dash wasn't a hyphen but instead a minus sign. He saw everything without understanding anything. Perhaps if he could have a little all+knowing, it would make life easier. Rather, it would make his youngest teammate a lot easier to deal with. The power of a precognitive meant little against the sheer unpredictability of a teenager and Crawford probably should have just taken Schuldig's advice and never slept with the kid in the first place. Crawford had ignored him, and hindsight taught him that he shouldn't ignore a telepath's advice.
Still, Nagi had had to be the safest choice in Schwarz when it came to a sexual outlet. Crawford wasn't suicidal enough to sleep with Farfarello whether the man was chained or not and he didn't think sex was worth the war it would be to keep Schuldig as a bedmate. Just the thought of the power games and arguments was enough to give him a migraine.
Crawford had taken Nagi's age into consideration, of course, but he'd flicked it aside as irrelevant. The boy was on the young side but kids these days were having sex and getting pregnant at eleven years old. Besides, morals were for people who didn't have money and self-worth. Maybe Nagi was only fifteen, but he was also an assassin. He wasn't a child- except that he was, and Crawford hadn't seen that until too late. He'd considered the up-side of having a teenage lover, which was that teenage boys were horny from the basic act of breathing itself, and that had been a nice bonus. What he had failed to see was how mind-blowingly stupid teenagers could be, and how that stupidity and stubbornness could override every other basic instinct.
Today was turning out to be a perfect example of that.
"You didn't call," the telekinetic said, still refusing to look back at him.
Crawford looked past his dark head at the glowing computer screen. Nagi was supposed to be working on the files for tomorrow's meeting, but he was playing solitaire instead. His gift smacked the mouse around in rough jerks and the click of the buttons as they dragged and dropped cards was loud. The information Crawford had had Schuldig deliver was scattered all over the telekinetic's bed and just looking at the mess was enough to make Crawford twitch.
"You didn't call," Nagi said again when he realized Crawford wasn't going to apologize.
"Apparently you think I should have," Crawford said.
"You said you would be back last night," Nagi pointed out, slouching a little further in his chair. "You didn't come back until this morning. You didn't tell us."
"In case you have forgotten, Schwarz is a pyramid with you three at the bottom and myself as the top point," Crawford informed him. "I do not report down the lines to any of you; you report up to me. I asked you to have the files ready by the time I returned. Whether I came back last night or tonight doesn't matter; what matters is that you didn't do them."
Nagi closed his solitaire game with a click hard enough to break his mouse button and shoved himself to his feet. He whirled on Crawford, dark blue eyes snapping. The anger in those eyes surprised Crawford and for a staggering moment he thought Nagi was going to be so stupid as to challenge the Schwarz hierarchy. Schuldig had warned him that Nagi was going through a rebellious stage, but for him to go so far-
"We're having a spat," Nagi decided.
Crawford's mind heard the four-letter word, processed it, and rejected it as unfamiliar. "Come again?"
"We," Nagi said again, jerking his finger between them, "are having a spat. I know I answer to you, Crawford, so don't talk to me like I don't know how to do my job. What I'm mad about is that you said you were going to go with me last night to scope out the territory for the next run. You agreed! I had it all planned out, Crawford."
Crawford thought on that for a moment. "You're angry that I was doing my job instead of helping you do yours," he concluded.
"No!" Nagi said, and his leg jerked as if he wanted to stamp his foot but just barely caught it. "I had it planned out. We were going to check things out, we were going to have dinner, and we were going to find a hotel somewhere and have sex. A lot of sex, without that nosey bastard," a jab of his finger towards the wall indicated the telepath of their team, "around to chip in on what we're doing right or wrong or making stupid comments when we don't need him butting in. That's what I wanted, and you agreed to it, and then you were out with Takatori all night! I had the hotel room already, Crawford!"
Crawford tried to figure out how the plans had gone from preparing for a job to what sounded suspiciously like a date. He spared it just a moment before brushing it aside as vaguely annoying and said the only thing that made sense to him: "We can still have sex," he pointed out.
Nagi faltered, a little of the supposed righteous anger taken out of him, and thought that over. Then his resolve hardened and he whirled away from Crawford. "No," he decided. "We're not having sex. We're spatting."
"And the two are connected," Crawford deduced.
"Everyone knows that," was the aggravated response.
Crawford thought about that for a moment, checked his visions, and realized that they'd taken a sharp swing from 'sex' to 'complete lack there-of'. In three years, Nagi was no longer going to have the power to change his visions on a whim. Three years was a long way away for people like them.
"Fine," he said.
Nagi gaped. "Fine?"
"Fine," Crawford said again, and he started for the bedroom door.
Nagi hurried after him there. "Fine?" he repeated. "Just like that?"
Crawford checked his visions again. "Just like that," he agreed. "Maybe tomorrow."
"Maybe-" Nagi started, but the rest of his echo got stuck somewhere in his throat. He just watched with wide eyes from his doorway as Crawford went down the hall to the den. The precognitive was just getting settled with a newspaper when Nagi peeked into the room. His face darkened when he saw the American getting absorbed in the lines of ink kanji and he stormed off back down the hall to his bedroom. Crawford heard the door slam.
It didn't take long for Schuldig to show up. Schuldig was at least twice as aggravating as Nagi could be, but the beautiful thing about Schuldig was that he worked like clockwork. It was rather ironic that the most unstable and whimsical of their team was the most predictable, but Crawford took it for granted whereas Schuldig was heavily offended by every reminder. Life was one train wreck after the other for Schuldig and the telepath just couldn't bear to keep his fingers out of every little mess that passed him by.
"That was beautiful," the two said in tune, and Crawford offered his newspaper a smirk at the way Schuldig's amusement evaporated. It was enough to make the evening a little better, even if it soured the edge of Schuldig's fun- or perhaps it was more a "because" than an "even if". It took the German a minute to decide whether or not to try and salvage whatever he could from the verbal taunting he'd hoped for, but he came in anyway just like Crawford thought he would.
"That's why no one likes you," Schuldig informed him. "Because you do nansy shit like that."
"Maybe you should learn to be a little more spontaneous," Crawford advised him.
Schuldig's smile gave a violent twitch on his face but he refused to give up just yet. "Maybe you should take your gift off me for a while and try and watch your doe-eyed brat a bit. I see you still can't track him well enough. The great Oracle wouldn't have gone into that bedroom if he'd known he was just going to get tossed back out on his ass by a fifteen-year old kid. Word on the street is that you're not getting any tonight."
"A small warning for you," Crawford said.
"I'm all ears," Schuldig answered, leaning forward with a mocking smile on his face.
Crawford lowered the newspaper and offered Schuldig his most chilling smile. "You're going to lose him."
It was funny just how quickly Schuldig's expression closed off. Eight out of ten times, Crawford won the fights between them. Five out of those eight, it was by a landslide of points. This was one of those times.
"What do I care?" the telepath asked, but he was getting to his feet even as he said it, unwilling to stick around for any more unwelcome advice from Crawford.
"You don't, of course," Crawford assured him easily, and he picked up his newspaper again. He didn't bother to watch as Schuldig left and he settled into his reading, but he only made it a page further before he realized he couldn't concentrate. His thoughts drifted back to Nagi's bedroom and the aborted plans for sex and he considered his newspaper without seeing the kanji on it. His arrangement with Nagi meant that he'd grown accustomed to sex on a regular basis, but if Nagi wasn't interested, he would have to look into alternative choices. It wouldn't be the first or last time Crawford would hire someone for an evening, but he'd specifically started looking at Schwarz as prospects as a cheaper and more convenient outlet. Gay clubs would be just as cheap as and a lot saner than his teammates, but Crawford wasn't entirely sure how well his precognition would work when it came to matters like sexually transmitted diseases. It was best not to take the risk.
Either way, with such a long job tomorrow, some release would be useful. His mind made up, Crawford folded up his newspaper and left.
He made the call from his cell phone on his drive back into the city, arranging an unfamiliar face with a familiar company. He made it to his hotel of choice first and paid for a room for the night. His escort would be able to find him through the front desk, so he made his way over to the elevators. He didn't expect to be waiting long. Crawford didn't believe in having to wait on anything unless he actively chose to, so he had chosen the nicest hotel that was close to the escort business.
His room was on the tenth floor, one left turn from the elevators and six doors down. It was a small place, spacious by Japanese standards but a pisshole to Crawford's idea of space and comfort, but the only thing that mattered was the bed. He set his coat down neatly over the back of a chair and folded his tie up on the tiny desk, and was just undoing the buttons on his cuff when someone slammed into his door. He heard laughter and swearing through the thin wood and his gift offered him a questionable bit of a heads-up just before he turned the knob.
Apparently his gift was still functioning, because Weiss's Balinese was flat against the far wall, tugging an obviously drunk man away from Crawford's door. Neither seemed to notice their audience just yet, too drunk and too amused by each other, and Crawford just watched as mouths met and hands raked hungrily over disheveled clothes.
Kudou spotted Crawford first and the precog had the distinct pleasure of seeing green eyes fly open wide. Crawford tried to remember when the last time was that he'd seen the other assassin without his sunglasses on to hide his face and came up blank, but there were other more unusual things about this scene than the missing shades. For starters, the fact that Kudou was tangled up with another man who hadn't yet clued in to Kudou's shock.
Footsteps in the hall broke through the stranger's foggy mind and the two fell apart. Kudou's faceless lover was giggling at Kudou in his drunken glory, apparently thinking that they were being stealthy. Any idiot with working eyes could see something was going on, judging by their swollen lips and half-buttoned clothes. Kudou didn't seem as amused, probably because he was still staring Crawford down.
The new arrival came to a stop by Crawford's elbow and offered him a smile that spoke of a lot of promise- expected, of course, considering what he cost. He said nothing, not wanting to be indiscrete in front of strangers, and Crawford stayed in the doorway to keep him from slipping into the room. Gold-brown eyes took in the escort with a considering look before turning back towards Kudou, and he didn't miss the way the Balinese's jaw had dropped at the head-to-toe Crawford had just given.
"Crawford?" Kudou said uncertainly. Sober, he might not have said anything, just stared and wondered and stared some more- before beating a hasty exit. Drunk, he was a little bolder, a little more obviously bewildered. Drunk Kudou had some potential, perhaps. Maybe it was the green eyes. Those were certainly interesting.
Crawford checked his gift, looked from the escort to Kudou, and offered the drunken Weiss a thin smile. "Is he coming or going?" he asked, tilting his head at Kudou's companion.
It took the shorter man a minute for the question to click and Crawford was sure he heard his jaw pop as it dropped wider open. Shock wasn't enough to stop Kudou from flicking his eyes down and up Crawford's form, trying to reevaluate his image of the American in light of this new accidental meeting. Kudou looked over at his giggling companion, over at the escort, and back at Crawford.
"Going?" he said, but it sounded like a question.
Crawford looked over at the escort. "I cancel," he said.
The escort glanced over at Kudou, shrugged, and left again. Kudou watched him go before eyeing Crawford. At last he reached out, offering his companion a small push. "Hey," he said, and Crawford listened to his words slur together. "You can make it to the elevators? I'm going to stick around here a bit longer."
"Of course," the man said, stumbling past Kudou. "I'm not that drunk."
"And I'm not drunk enough," Kudou said, but it was more directed at Crawford than his companion.
"Should I take offense to that remark?" Crawford asked.
"Shit," Kudou said. Crawford arched an eyebrow at him. "Shit."
He stumbled across the hall into Crawford's room, and Crawford locked the door behind them.
Schwarz's day started at seven the next morning so they could be ready and out of the house in time to rendezvous with Takatori at his big conference. Crawford came back at seven on the dot to find the other three of his team wide awake and already moving, and he took great satisfaction in that for the two seconds it took Schuldig to figure out where he'd been last night. Schuldig had known when he'd left where he was going, but the hotel was out of range of the telepath's mental powers.
The look on Schuldig's face when Crawford stepped into the kitchen said the telepath was already readying some crude remark about Crawford's performance last night. As little as Crawford cared to let Schuldig into his affairs, there was something distinctly amusing at watching Schuldig's face when it clicked. It was much like watching a light switch be flipped; Schuldig went from lazy amusement to floored in a nanosecond.
Of course, Schuldig never had learned to keep his mouth shut, and his first method of dealing with unwelcome surprises was to voice them aloud. Bulging blue eyes came hand in hand with "You fucked KUDOU?", and that was enough to grind the entire team to a halt. Even Farfarello went still where he was messing with a bag of bagels at the counter, and Crawford glanced briefly at the perfectly blank look on Nagi's face.
Schuldig was the first to recover, of course, and the change was just as instantaneous. He burst into laughter that was just as startled as it was amused and Crawford could hear him choking on his coffee as he struggled to drink it. He didn't make it more than a few swallows before he gave up and pointed at Crawford.
"You, our meticulous and esteemed leader, fucked Weiss," he said. It should have come across as an accusation, but it fell short of the mark when it was so amused.
There was no reason to deny it and Crawford knew from experience that brushing Schuldig aside would just encourage him further. He simply said "Yes" and went for the coffee pot. Farfarello was eyeing him as he approached the counter and Crawford tuned Schuldig out where he was laughing and gasping out "Oh God, my sideó" at the table.
"Schuldig fucked me last night," Nagi spoke up.
Crawford's hand went still against the cabinet. He echoed the words in his mind and lined them up with the speaker. Absurd, really. He turned around to face the table and Nagi offered him his best defiant look. "Schuldig?" Crawford asked.
Schuldig's smile had that malicious edge again. "You didn't see it coming?" he asked. "I guess Nagi really does fuck up that sight of yours. You did tell me to be more spontaneous, you know. You should have known I'd take it as a challenge."
Nagi scowled at Crawford. "I wanted sex," he said, and his scowl deepened at the way Crawford quirked an eyebrow at him. "But not with you when you refused to understand why I was mad. We were having a spat. I told you that people don't sleep together when they're spatting."
"You could try it sometime," Schuldig suggested. "A little blood and hate just make things more interesting."
"I didn't want blood and hate," Nagi said flatly, "but I didn't think he was going to go sleep with Weiss."
"Hey, it was free," Schuldig pointed out. "I wonder if you're going to be another conquest story in his book, Crawford."
"Shut up, Schuldig," Nagi warned him.
"This doesn't require your input," Crawford added.
"Nagi needed my input last night," Schuldig drawled. "Right, Nagi?"
"Schuldig, I am going to count to three, and then I am going to shoot you." Schuldig didn't look at all intimidated. Crawford pulled his gun out and flicked the safety off. Nagi's dark expression immediately smoothed out- not relaxing into the horror or concern that would twist across a normal person's face, but lighting up in eager anticipation of a fight. Crawford rethought his decision to send the boy to therapy. "One. Two. Thr-"
"Two and a half," Schuldig said helpfully.
By the time Crawford pulled the trigger, Schuldig was already gone, but the sight of the bullet going through his after-image was enough. One of these days, he told himself. One of these days.
"Let's go," he said, putting his gun away. "We've got a long day ahead of us."
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