Crawford is lead to take the subway and ends up encountering Ken right before a botched robbery.
Author’s Notes: This is written for the 'FicTicTacToe' community on Live Journal. My competitor is my hubby, WingedPanther73. We're posting these to our Live Journal blogs. My prompt is #2: “Your heart will tear mine apart.”
Word Count = 2,327
July 25, 2010 8:58 pm
Ken examined the glossy card with unfamiliar English words on it. He tried puzzling it out, but several words made no sense. A driver's license of some sort, Ken figured. He wasn't sure which state Nebraska was, but it was odd to think of Crawford coming from a state that wasn't New York or California.
The license had an old photo of Crawford when he was twenty-three; Ken noticed it expired in September. There was also the passport with tons of stamps from all sorts of countries, even ones Ken had never heard of like Kazakhstan and Liberia.
The next items he removed were credit cards: Platinum Visa, Master Card, and Discover. Ken let the hard plastic slip through his fingers and opened the wallet again. He fished out a parking pass from New York and another from Chicago. There was also a library card from Virginia and another one from for Maryland. There was also a private club membership from Los Angeles. He shook his head, not able to piece together a story from the random items.
Ken never liked to think about targets having whole lives; it made things messy for him. The idea of a Schwarz member having a life, he liked even less. It made Crawford a little too human for Ken’s taste.
“Ken! Lunch!” Omi shouted. Ken jolted upright and crammed Crawford’s things under his pillow. His face flushed with guilt over his theft. He took a deep breath and told himself gaining information over an enemy wasn’t a bad thing. Youji used to make a living doing what he had done this morning.
He did feel guilty, in spite of his effort to justify his behavior. After all, Schuldig shouldn't have pissed him off by trying to kill him after the rescue from this morning's craziness. He had snatched Crawford's stuff on the way out of the warehouse to turn it over to Kritiker, but he had kept it instead; it was a blatant theft out of spite at this point. It was a wicked compulsion driven by curiosity.
“Ken! Didn’t you hear me?” Omi asked, knocking on Ken’s door.
“Yeah... yeah... I heard you,” Ken said, opening his door. Omi cast Ken a concerned look and shook his head.
“Are you sure you’re okay? That business with the subway hijackers this morning had to have been pretty terrible.” Omi said. “The police didn't question you for a long time.”
“Yeah, thanks to Manx. Some how she just showed up and took care of everything after I got to the police station to report the whole stupid thing. Listen, it was pretty terrible; I'm just not hungry. I just want to rest a few minutes and then take my shift,” Ken mumbled, itching to finish plundering through Crawford’s wallet.
“If you're sure? I can work for you,” Omi offered. “Or do you want to talk about it? You haven't said much. I mean, they're starting to report it on the TV.”
“What! What are they saying?” Ken was startled, picturing Crawford's name on the news next to his. That could lead to an awkward situation with Kritiker.
Omi gave him an analytical look. “Nothing. Are you sure you're okay? That situation would have even rattled Aya.”
“I’m fine! I promise! I'll be down for my shift in a minute. Just give me some space,” Ken insisted.
Omi nodded and left. Ken shut the door and flopped on the bed. He kept remembering random things from the morning. In particular, being pressed against Crawford in the subway. He was dismayed to realize Crawford’s spicy cologne had rubbed onto his tee-shirt. His face warmed with the vivid memory.
Ken cursed at the third vase he had knocked over and shattered on the tiled floor. He grabbed the broom as Yohji groaned and shook his head. Ken shot Yohji a dirty look as he swept. He glanced over to Aya, who was giving him an openly, irritated look.
“Take the trash out, since you're blowing our budget on vases,” Aya snapped.
Ken glared, but started gathering up the full trash bags. He slammed the door on his way out to the dumpster in the alleyway. He tossed the trash bags in and then emptied pockets of used candy wrappers and old receipts. His hand froze when a business card came to his fingertips.
It was Brad Crawford’s two-sided business card. He had carried one with him after finishing his exploration of the rest of Crawford's wallet. A perverse thought of stalking Crawford this weekend had crossed his mind. Now another thought crossed his mind.
He glanced over his shoulder and took his cell phone out of his apron pocket. His thumb froze before he hit the send button. His hands trembled, his stomach fluttered. He kept his eyes glued to the alleyway entrance when his thumb pressed the button.
After three rings he heard Crawford say tartly, "You ended up with my wallet. I'd recommend you return it."
It took Ken off guard, breaking his illusion that he was pulling one over on Crawford. He launched his mind backwards to figure out how he got in this bizarre situation.
Ken shrugged off the hijacker's hand and glared. After a small police chase, several van changes, and a lot of shoving, the three hijackers had brought them to an abandoned fish cannery warehouse. They dragged Ken and Crawford to the back where they put them in an icy, walk-in cooler.
He explored the small, chilly room. The five racks were empty and the refrigeration unit above Ken’s head was silent. The small room had no windows and the thick door had no handle. It was, naturally, locked.
“This sucks!” Ken shouted and kicked the door. He turned to watch Crawford, who walked to the back of the room and sat on the floor.
“Aren't you going to help me figure out how to get out of here?” Ken snapped after he stalked over and stood in front of Crawford.
“I’d be more successful if you kept your juvenile temper tantrums under control,” Crawford snapped back. Ken felt himself taken off guard for the second time today by the American assassin, the first was when Crawford had caught him from falling on the subway.
“I guess you’re trying to call them,” Ken said, feeling more nervous at the idea of being rescued by Schuldig and Farfarello than staying at the mercy of some street hoods.
“You say that like I’m using a Ouija board,” Crawford said, wearing a disproving, yet superior, expression. There was something Crawford didn't like about what Ken had said; the man seemed offended by something. Ken didn't understand, and he really didn't have time to figure it out. He knelt down in front of Crawford and looked into his light, brown eyes.
“Why did you save me back there? Not that I’m ungrateful, but I thought you would have let them kill me” Ken said.
“It was self preservation. If I wouldn’t have saved you, I would have been beaten to death,” Crawford said. “I figured you’d be somewhat useful.”
“Gee, thanks,” Ken said, ill-concealing his sarcasm. Just as he thought, Crawford was focused on self-preservation, not any type of nobility. Ken shifted and sat three feet from Crawford’s right. He said, “Let me know when you get a hold of Schuldig. Okay?”
Ken looked over, but it was as if Crawford was in a deep trance. Those light, brown eyes were out of focus once again. “Great! What else could go wrong?” Ken asked the ceiling.
Schuldig was irritated that Crawford had nothing lined up for the next five days. He was getting so bored hauling Nagi to school and babysitting Farfarello. He was flipping the TV absently when a news report caught his attention.
“It was horrible! The three gunmen just grabbed those two men and left,” a sobbing, elderly woman explained, clenching a small, weeping girl to her chest. A male reporter flashed on the television screen.
“Two men were taken hostage by the three unidentified gunmen on the South Line's 7:30 run. Police are searching...” Schuldig turned the television off with the remote and hurled it against the wall hard enough for it to shatter. That was Brad's subway.
“Those three idiots will wish they were never born when we find them,” Schuldig mumbled. He shut his eyes and reached out his mind. :Brad! Where are you?:
:Finally. I guess you saw the news? I must tell you the Siberian was with me and is being held here as well. This ironic situation has lost all of it charm, so I’d appreciate it if you would hurry along.: Crawford thought back.
:Don’t worry about it. I’m bring Farfarello too.: Schuldig thought. He then bellowed for the Irish assassin.
The pale man appeared. Schuldig then ordered, “Get your things. We need to rescue Crawford and kill off an obnoxious Weiss trouble maker.”
“Sounds like it’ll be a fun afternoon,” Farfarello said with a toothy smile.
Crawford jolted back to consciousness and looked over to Ken Hidaka, who was watching him intently. The Weiss assassin’s chin rested on his knees while his tanned arms were wrapped around his legs.
“Schuldig and Farfarello are on their way,” Crawford whispered. Ken’s face turned sour. “Fine. Stay with them. I don’t give a damn,” he said coolly.
“Last time I saw Farfarello he tried to smash my skull in,” Ken said dryly.
“Like I said, we have other projects that concern us more. You'll be free to leave after they get here,” Crawford said.
“Aren’t you suspicious that I was following you,” Ken asked.
“Not really. I know Weiss isn't that clumsy or dumb. It was merely coincidence,” Crawford said. Crawford smiled at the flush he cause on the young man's face.
“How long until they get here.”
It seemed like hours, but Crawford was absolutely correct on the time when the door sprang open. Ken got to his feet, wary at Schuldig's large smile.
“Well... well... well, Crawford! Making new friends?” Schuldig asked, walking over to where Crawford sat. Ken gave him a vexed look.
“Did Farfarello take care of my hosts?” Crawford asked, standing up and preening so he looked immaculate again in his suit.
“He’s introducing your hosts to his cutlery collection as we speak,” Schuldig replied.
Ken marched out of the cooler, leaving the two Schwarz to their own gloating.
“Where do you think you're going, Weiss,” Schuldig said, drawing a gun and leveling it at Ken. “I've been thinking about this for a long time.”
Ken froze, panicked and vulnerable. Then he smirked and swiftly kicked the thick, freezer door shut.
“Idiots!” Ken called out at the door. Before running off.
He quickly found Farfarello was busy punishing the hijackers so he snuck by as quietly as possible, but he noticed a table with his and Crawford's things on it. He scooped everything up and fled for the nearest taxi he could find.
Crawford loathed to resort to physical punishment like Takatori, but this was a special situation. His hand flew up and smacked the back of Schuldig’s head soundly. The German dropped his gun and swirled around.
“That hurt!” Schuldig protested.
“You could have waited until we were outside of this freezer before you pulled your gun. Didn’t I say to play everything straight?” Crawford snapped.
“Sorry. I’ll get Farfarello,” Schuldig mumbled, looking properly chagrined. Crawford started to pace a little. No, the Siberian wasn’t as dumb as he first thought. That made a potential game with the young man even more intriguing.
Minutes later the door swung open again. To Crawford's irritation, Farfarello could barely contain his mirth as he let his two teammates out. Schuldig gave Farfarello a pointless punch in the arm, which only set the Irishman off into full scale laughter.
Now, to top off this crazy day, Ken was waiting on the sidewalk outside of the casual, yet upscale restaurant. He had never eaten here, so he wasn't sure what to expect. Then again, his dinner host alone was blowing his mind. The dark thought that this could be a setup played at his mind.
His mind was yanked away from those thoughts at seeing a red Austin-Healey pull up and park on the side of the road. Crawford got out. He was smoothly dressed in charcoal slacks and a dark brown shirt. He slipped on his jacket and joined Ken on the sidewalk.
He was taken off guard when Crawford held out his hand. Ken startled and fished in his pocket.
“Here you go,” Ken said, handing over everything of Crawford's, alleviating his guilt. Ken was amazed that Crawford didn't check his things, but just tucked them away.
Crawford started walking towards the vine covered entrance of Belle Notra. He paused and looked over his shoulder to where Ken stared at him in astonishment. “I'm seriously hungry, so hurry up.”
Ken suppressed a nervous smirk and followed him inside the dim interior with a posh, Tuscan flair. He didn't admit to Crawford he had never really had Italian food outside of pizza, but the aroma was enticing. He broke his trance and prayed his rumbling stomach wasn't heard over a bubbling fountain.
Ken couldn't seem to get rid of the tension in his muscles or his roving eyes. He kept picturing Farfarello leaping out at him. Or worse, Manx.
“You can relax. No one we know is going to show up tonight,” Crawford said, picking up his menu. There was an eerie flash of candle light across those glasses. Ken started to absorb a paradox. Crawford wasn't trustworthy, but his premonitions were.
To be continued.