It don't mean a thing if you ain't got that... Crawford/Schuldig
Crawford had wanted someone fast-paced and ready. Someone easily played, like the strings of a cello or the keys of a piano. He had plans, after all, and the plans needed reliable power.
He'd put in his request with the Elders. After playing his cards for so many years-too many years, in all reality-he'd expected to get what he ordered. His classic right hand man, loyal and true. And he did to some extent; the loyal part at any rate.
It wasn't what he expected. But it was what he Saw.
"Not that I doubt your decision, madam, but why him? He has a record of...reckless behavior. I fear he may-"
"We know and understand your doubt, Crawford, but the choice has been made. If you can work with Guilty, you will soon find your team growing in numbers."
"How gracious." It could have been sarcastic, but the edge was lost before it left his mouth. "If I may take my leave now, I have arrangements to be made."
The old woman before him smiled. Crawford thought of a viper. "Of course. Enjoy your new teammate."
Bowing, the American turned and left the room, already rearranging the chessboard in his mind. He'd been thrown a wildcard. Instead of getting the violin he expected, he'd had a tommy-gun forced into his hands.
He was lounging lazily on a hard steel chair, one that wouldn't have been comfortable. He made it look like his kingdom's throne though. Unlit Cigarette his scepter and a crown of smoke curled around his head. Horribly, beautifully twisted king. The grinning man turned his head to the side so Crawford could see directly into cool blue eyes.
"Hey there, boss." Schuldig waved his hand in a lazy salute. Everything about him seemed lazy. "I can call you that, right?"
"As I am, technically, your boss I would assume so. I think it's too formal though." Crawford straightened his cufflinks and walked closer to the other man, footsteps echoing on the hard tiled floor. "I also think you're using it to mock me."
"Me? Never," Schuldig drawled. "I'm just trying to butter you up. So..." he stood as if it was a great production, smooth moves practiced over time. "What next, boss?"
"Now we get ready." Briskly, the American turned and started back the way he came from. If the German didn't follow, didn't keep up with the pace, Crawford would have to find himself a new subordinate.
A moment's pause, then a set of footsteps joined his. Hurried at first before they walked shoulder to shoulder. /Tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap/.
"Get ready for what?" Schuldig asked. /Tap tap tap/.
Glasses flashed as they passed under a light. "Your first mission. We'll be removing a thorn from one of Esset's top investors. Two thorns, actually. Our targets are a married couple; one a pyro, the other an empath."
"So they could feel each other burn. I like it."
Crawford ignored him. "They were in good graces until they stole a large amount of money-- too much to be ignored."
"No slap on the wrist for ol' Bonnie and Clyde, then?"
"They have since hired their own bodyguards, according to sources. We will be dealing with all of them. You think you're ready?"
Schuldig smirked and stretched his arms over his head before dropping them back to his sides. "I'm always ready to dance," he purred and Crawford felt it slide over him. "Whenever the music starts."
They were running, fast and hard, with blood rushing through their veins. Their feet pounded into the ground. Side by side into the throw-not a slow shadow job, not this one. This was loud, vibrant, and filled with explosions. Someone was yelling loudly, trying to shout orders over the din, but it was swallowed up. Someone was laughing and somehow Crawford could hear it. High, light, crisp, maniacal.
He could always hear everything the German said after so many years together.
Schuldig swung his arm around to the right, not quite in Crawford's way, and fired off a couple shots. His aim was true, he knew what he was doing, and bodies slumped down lifeless.
And he laughed more.
"Schuldig, left," Crawford barked out the order before taking more on the right.
"Sure thing, Oracle."
Crawford watched from the corner of his eye. Red hair turned with him, defying gravity for a moment before falling back on sharp shoulders. Perfectly timed so it wasn't in the way. The grin that split his face was anything but lazy. Fierce, maybe, but mostly excited. Enthralled. This was their element, their glory.
Blood pumping, air rushing by them, he could have spun around and not felt the difference. It was like being drunk.
He wondered if Schuldig was feeling it. Wondered if he was causing it.
Schuldig smirked. "I dig it."
tap tap tap tap tap tap
A barrel exploded, sending debris flying and people scattering. They kept running, skirting over junk and ducking low when wood whipped by their heads. No stopping them. Not now when the song was only halfway done.
Schuldig had a chain on his wallet tonight and when the German whirled around to aim again, it flashed red-white with a loud rattle. Like a warning, so Crawford pivoted a heartbeat later until they were back to back, firing in turns with loud banging sounds. Shot glasses hitting a bar.
Brief glimpse of a Vision made Crawford twist his head half around. "Schuldig, to your-"
Blue eyes widened. Too late, too late, they sang.
The man in black and blood stood, arms curling up with gun in hand. He chose his partner then took his turn. The telepath hissed a second later as a bullet scorched his arm, hissed a second time as anger sunk in.
Schuldig was laughing again and this time Crawford could hear it because everything else was quiet. The quiet before the storm. "It don't mean a thing if you ain't got that swing," the redhead sang, twirled the gun on his finger and blew on it for the finale.
They waited for the next song to begin.
Crawford tasted red sweetness on his tongue, laced with vodka and acid smoke. Moved his head and tasted salt over skin. It always tasted the same, that skin, even if its owner's voice-feelingseyesmovementsself-changed, more and more as years went. Cherry sweet, salted sex.
He relied on the taste and patterns skin and tongue. On the black and white showcase he saw now and then, the only thing he saw anymore. Struck blind was like being struck deaf too since so much of what Schuldig said was in every gesture or look.
There were no more runs together, with hell surrounding them and bodies falling at their feet. Too many risks for Crawford to take; both for his own life and his teams' life. He might miss a step and ruin in the dance. And it was the kind of dance where one step lost meant never catching up again.
They had this though, bodies racked together harshly and erratically, but comfortable. Known. Hands clasped sometimes as if the beat was about to turn slower before they rolled with the flow.
Being blind with Schuldig was like being deaf, but he could still hear his heart drum on. /Bum-ba-da-bum-ba-da-bum-ba-da/. He could play it on tune if he needed.
"I'm blind," he states again, for the hundredth time, as he can't quite believe his own words for once.
Schuldig shifts. Says nothing or maybe everything before rasping, "I'm a ruin."
"I'm like the Coliseum or fuckin Stone Hedge, all right? I fuckin am. Old and beaten down and but still fuckin standing." Tone changed, higher pitched, directed elsewhere. "Would you /shut up/?"
Faster faster Crawford could just see-
"And we're still here, you know? And this is fuckin.../fuckin/ but it isn't like duking it out with guns a blazing."
"I wanna make the big exit."
Crawford clawed his way into a pale arm, imagined seeing the bruises left. Red crescents blossoming. Schuldig hissed.
"One grand last stand before the lights go out..."
"You ready, boss?"