A chill ran up Crawford's spine as he sat working. Looking over his shoulder, he observed the empty room with some suspicion. Nothing out of order, that he noticed, and so work continued on.
Dido played serenely on the stereo. Blueprints were spread over his pristine mahogany desk, notes and plans jotted down on yellow-lined paper. His daily quota of Diet Dr. Pepper was waiting to quench his thirst in a moments notice.
Crawford couldn't have been happier.
Then the hair on the back of his neck rose and Dido was overrun by the theme from Jaws, which someone found it's way into Crawford's mind.
But nothing was notably amiss.
Shaking his head, the black-haired man took a sip of his tonic and snuck a cherry cordial out of the box he kept in the second drawer to his right. The drawer no one ever thought to look in.
This, he thought, was his /paradise/.
Humming along to the music, the oracle continued his work. Schwarz's latest employer was willing to pay big time for information and sabotage of a rival's main headquarters. It was a good move for the business, all things considered. Dirty, underhanded, opportunistic--
"Aww, thinking about me, Braddles?"
"Always," Crawford stated dryly, silently grateful that he had thought to close his desk drawer before the telepath's arrival. "And never."
Schuldig grinned and plopped down on the desk, inches away from the very important notes the leader had numbered and highlighted by teammate assignment and importance. He was wearing scrubs, of all things, with a black tank top, haired pulled back and up in a ponytail that made him look disturbingly like a surfer.
The redhead eyes the bottle of Dr. Pepper and grimaced.
Brad raised an eyebrow, having resigned himself to tolerating the other man for the time being. Nothing would be accomplished until Schuldig decided to wander away and they both knew it. "You'll cheer Farfarello on while he's playing Dracula yet this is disgusting?"
"Yeah. Who knew I had better taste than you?" Schuldig wondered, bemused.
"At least it's not one of those drinks with tapioca balls in it..."
They fell silent and Crawford took the opportunity to glance at the target's security listings. There would be more, undoubtedly, but nothing that a telepath and prodigy couldn't deal with. He'd have to send them in within the next couple of days to start working on-
"What are you doing?" Schuldig asked.
Another stretch of time, only this one was interrupted by Schuldig reaching into the second draw and nabbing two pieces of sweet goodness. Crawford considered investing in a new safe.
"Jeez, Brad, what the hell kind of music is this?" muttered around a mouthful of stolen candy, given all the air of a bored chipmunk. A German surfer chipmunk that could make you kill yourself with a single thought.
It sounded like a Sci-Fi channel mini-series.
"Was there something you wanted, O telepath of mine?" It wasn't really a question. More a thinly veiled threat, really. His glass of tonic was going flat as they spoke. In defiance, the oracle grabbed it and indulged.
Schuldig fidgeted, crossing his arms then uncrossing them and tapping a quick rhythm on the desk with calloused fingers. There were scars on his hands, on his arms and collarbone and hidden away by cheap material. Years in the business-in life-did that to a person and Crawford knew they all had similar lines crossed into their skin. Schuldig simply made it look natural.
That in its self should have seemed wrong.
"So, Braddles, buddy, fearless leader, cher, mein..."
"Notice that we don't really have sex anymore?"
And there went the good Dr., sprayed out over careful plans.
Story of my life, Crawford thought mournfully.
Schuldig winced, scratching his head. "Okay, bad timing. Even I'll admit that."
"I simply don't know what you're talking about," Brad stated. "We have sex. Plenty of it. A perfectly healthy and normal amount and I feel incredibly awkward having this conversation and that I willingly admit that has to speak levels, even to your addled brain."
"But not like we used to," Schuldig pressed, ignoring the rest of his leader's tirade. Hopping down from his perch, the telepath paced the office, bare feet occasionally squeaking on the hardwood floor. "And it can't possibly be me. So it must be you."
Crawford was eyeing his stapler with interest.
The redhead stopped and glared. "Try it and you'll be spitting out staples for a month."
"Nice. Very nice."
"Is it your age?" Schuldig asked, eyes widening in assumed realization and latching onto the idea like a dog with a bone. "Because you are getting old. Not that there's anything wrong with that, I mean, you look good for your age. Barely a wrinkle or a grey hair."
Crawford calculated whether he'd be needing a stapler any time soon.
"And you're good for your age, really, but hey. I understand. I've seen commercials about this type of thing. None of us are getting younger and let's face it, you're slowly crawling over that hill and into a tumbling spiral of ancientness."
The stapler was possibly one of the loveliest things the oracle had ever seen.
"Like one of those really old tall trees and..." the telepath stopped, eyebrows raising. "You need to stop thinking about office supplies that way, Braddles."
"They don't talk. Therefore, they are good." Crawford sighed and rubbed his eyes, knocking his glasses slightly askew. "For the last time, I don't want to talk about this. There is no problem. Now go harass Nagi or trip a nun or whatever it is you do in your free time."
"I used to have sex during my free time," Schuldig sniffed, brushing invisible dirt off of his scrub pants.
Brad smirked. "So why don't you, once-rebellious one?"
"..." said Schuldig, who felt he was quickly losing ground.
"You'll eventually snap out of this...whatever it is and stop complaining about nothing. It's not your fault. Your kind can't help but be moody." Swiveling his chair back to his work, the oracle picked up a pen, satisfied.
"My kind? What do you mean 'my kind', you relic?"
"Take your pick," Crawford drawled. "Telepaths, redheads, Germans, divas."
The throw pillow hit his head with a dull /thud/.
"Schuldig..." he said in a strained voice, glaring over this shoulder. His glasses flashed.
"Sorry, my hand slipped. Just can't keep a hold onthings like I used to, you know?"
"Ah. Perhaps that's the problem then."
And that was that.
With a huff and a toss of his ponytail, the German stomped out of the room and down the hall, probably with the vague hope of finding someone to push down the stairs.
Bring the handcuffs tonight, Crawford sent to this telepath and received a mental one finger salute with a quickly following agreement.
This, he thought as he drank fizzy sweetness straight from the bottle, was his paradise.
Sign up to rate and review this story