Schuldig's looking for his mind
Schuldig pulls his knees up, wraps his arms around them, leans forward to lock his chin on the far side of them. His neck hurts; spine complains. A beetle, shiny black carapace glistening in the cold sunlight coming through the grimy window, runs over his shoe. He watches it, watches it scuttle under the protective awning of his empty cigarette carton.
He's been here-- he looks down his cheeks, eyes straining, to see his watch-- for five hours. Long enough, by now, he thinks. But he doesn't move. His limbs have locked in position; lethargy and a water-steel will keeping them in place. He tells himself idly, from an oft-used and worn out corner of his brain, 'Just move, there really nothing stopping you'. It's like a hypnotist's enchantment, except that he's the hypnotist.
Finally he breaks the spell, gets to his feet, and glides outside. The broken glass door creaks as it slams shut behind him. The stairs are ancient; rickety and soft under his feet. To be nonconformist, he leaps down a few of them, just daring the old wood to cave.
The street is as he left it. Barren, grey, unkempt and homely. Bottle caps and joint butts and random refuse. He kicks half-heartedly at an old Dairy Queen container. The river is the only sparkling thing he comes across. A band of queasily sunlit silver winding through a towering panorama of concrete boxes and paths. He can't remember what city they're in, but he does remember the way home.
The house is so pretty; beige and muted yellow with white trimmings around the windows. There are no cars in the driveway. He walks across the lawn, ignoring the little boundary of purple flowers that he doesn't know the name of. They look sickly and tattered. In passing, he prods with his toe at the little square hole in the otherwise flawless lawn, where the For Sale sign had been. Crawford had pulled it out and tossed it in the dumpster an hour after signing.
He goes inside. When they had first arrived, there had been a little bell that rang every time the door opened. That had been the first to go. The second was the framed poem 'Footprints' that had hung in the hallway. Farfarello nearly had a conniption. There is a square patch of wall that is darker than the rest, now, in its place.
He leans against the living room doorjamb. Crawford doesn't look up from his newspaper, but he says from behind it, "Did you find what you wanted?"
He pushes a knuckle against his own mouth, nibbles at it a bit. "I thought you weren't here," he says. "The car..."
"Nagi took it."
"Oh." Hard to remember that Nagi is now old enough to legally drive. He looks at the ceiling, the patterns of reflected light that dance there, asymmetrical and flimsy as butterflies. "I'll just..." He trails off. Crawford h'mms. The newspaper crinkles. Schuldig stands there a few more seconds, feeling his stomach growling, the gnawing of fatigue behind his eyes.
Crawford's face finally appears from behind the paper, a mere sliver of hair, brows, glasses, eyes. "Did you find it?" he asks again, voice eerily disembodied.
Schuldig sort of whimpers without meaning to. He tosses hair from his face. Crawford's eyes are shining. Amusement, or something more sinister? Schuldig shakes his head, says, "No," half under his breath.
Crawford goes, "Mhm," twitches one brow at him, and recoils behind the paper once more.
Schuldig turns away, rests his forehead against the wall for an instant. And then he twirls off, hands cold and birdlike against the icy buttons of his coat, and vanishes down the hall in a cloud of euphoria and eau de despair.