Genre: gen, PG
Characters Brad Crawford, Schuldig
Summary: Crawford meets a part of his future.
Comments: Written for weissvsaiyuki week 2: Reunions. Beta by Rosaleendhu.
With consciousness came pain. Crawford opened his eyes to a dark blue sky and a large, dark, disgusting, unnatural mass of large teeth and claws bearing down on him, immediately letting him know that he wasn’t in physical reality. Unfortunately, he knew all too well that a psychic death would destroy him just as surely.
This rogue fed on pain, torture, and fear, while a precognitive didn’t have any weapons that could hurt a telepath on the psychic plane. Not that the professional and student telepaths Rosenkreuz had sent had done any better, especially not after the rogue had done something to the teams’ telekinetics’ minds that had turned them on their own team members. He never saw it coming. A lot of people had gotten knocked out or died in the onslaught, while the rogue had no doubt feasted and grown stronger on their pain.
Crawford’s talent hadn’t foretold his death today, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t die.
Instead of biting down on him, the mass’ maw opened wider in a shriek so loud and high-pitched that it made Crawford wince and cringe. It bucked and spun, and during one of the spins Crawford saw a human-shaped figure of yellow, red, and orange fire clamped onto it clawing the hell out of its back at high speed, hurting it. One of the telepaths had survived.
(A little help would be appreciated.) The telepathic voice speaking to him sounded softer and more diffuse than usual.
Crawford managed to replicate it. (Can he hear us?)
The telepath continued to claw their enemy as he spoke. (The whole point of speaking this way is that he doesn’t.)
(Can you call out for more help from Rosenkreuz?)
(He’s powerful enough to block that off. If we’re lucky, Rosenkreuz will send reinforcements when they don’t hear from us for a long enough time. If we’re not lucky, it’s just you and me. I can’t do this alone. You have some small telepathic talent, and he’s in your head. Let me in a little to help you weaponize it. You need to hit him at the same time as I do but in a different area to hurt and distract him. Otherwise, we’ll both die.)
Crawford really didn’t want any telepath rooting around in his mind but saw no other alternative. It hurt a little but mostly it felt odd and wrong. At the end of it he had a knife made of a steady blue light protruding from his right hand, not much of a weapon but not surprising given how weak a telepathic talent he had.
(Any suggestions?) Crawford asked.
(Only the obvious ones: Try not to let his claws and teeth get you, and don’t hit me.)
They fought the rogue together, with the telepath scrambling across the mass to claw the hell out of it and Crawford moving in to stab or slash whenever he found an opening. The battle went on and on, seemingly forever, all three of them eventually showing signs of fatigue but never giving up, knowing that the one who gave in first would die. Sometimes Crawford couldn’t avoid getting ripped by a tooth or claw but fought through the pain. Reinforcements never arrived.
(Fuck this,) his ally said before leaping into the rogue’s mouth. Before Crawford could even finish his thought of how stupid and suicidal that had been, a sword of fire stabbed up from inside and sliced. The rogue screamed, then everything went dark.
Crawford regained consciousness, although he hurt so much he almost resented being awake for it. Still, it meant he was alive. The bodies of the dead and injured lay on the rocky ground lay around him. As he sat up, he spat blood out of his mouth. One of the telekinetics, returned to sanity and self-control, held the body of a girl and cried.
~ She’s his girlfriend. He killed her. ~ The same voice as during the battle but sent to him in more standard telepathic speech. Looking for its source, Crawford saw a gangly boy with short faded blue hair kneeling beside a downed student. A student telepath, younger than him, had put on that impressive show and saved Crawford’s life. Blood trailed from his mouth and nose, and the way his left arm hung suggested that it had been broken.
The student telepath grabbed the communicator off his dead team leader’s belt and tossed it to Crawford. “We should probably check in. You do it, since you outrank me.”
As Crawford caught it, he wondered why Rosenkreuz hadn’t already tried to contact them, but when he looked at his watch he realized that only sixteen minutes had passed since the telekinetics had lost control of themselves. Had all of that really happened in such a short period of time?
When the boy turned his bright but pain-filled blue eyes in Crawford’s direction, Crawford had a precognitive flash of those eyes, mischievous and smug, in an adult face turned his way as the telepath talked about their current mission. Their mission, with Crawford as team leader. This telepath would be his future teammate. Maybe a teammate who would go along with his ultimate plan? They’d already proven they could work well together.
Despite his excitement, Crawford would have to bide his time until he could bring that future to pass.
His telepath now, Schuldig, looked openly unhappy as he walked into the room and kept that expression when he stopped in front of Crawford’s desk, making sure he noticed. Given the acting job his files suggested he’d done for most of his time at Rosenkreuz, Schuldig could have hidden it if he wanted to. It didn’t bode well, but Crawford would turn it around. He no longer looked as gangly as he did two years ago, and his shoulder-length hair was currently a bright strawberry blond, its natural hue but as gaudy as a fake.
“You don’t want me for your team,” Schuldig said. “I’m a troublemaker.”
“According to your files, you were a troublemaker for your first five months here until you, and I quote, ‘smartened up and realized everything Rosenkreuz could do for me.’ Your file doesn’t have many infractions after that, just enough trouble so people wouldn’t think you were too much of an asskisser,” Crawford answered.
“Maybe I just became better at hiding my involvement.”
Crawford didn’t doubt that at all. “You do realize that as your team leader I could execute you if I wanted.”
“You’re ambitious--you burn with it--and the Elders see you as their golden boy, part of some grand destiny they don’t tell us underlings much about, so they keep a close eye on you. I figure that I’ll get killed one way or another, and at least this way I get to tell someone off before I die.”
Interesting. “I’ve studied up on telepathy since we last met. Not many telepaths of your supposed skill set and power level of that time could’ve done what you did.”
“I guess that explains why you requested me,” Schuldig said sourly.
“You’re carefully just a little above average in everything you do here. Too carefully. You’re not living up to your potential, and I intend to change that.”
“If you’ve stalked me as thoroughly as it sounds like you have, you have to know that I don’t find that argument appealing in the slightest.”
“Too bad, because you’re in my team now no matter how you feel about it. I’ll accept a little bit of your disrespect in private but not in public, and you will obey me. There are other punishments than death, and you’re not getting away from me that easily.”
“Of course. I’ll try to feign enthusiasm in the future. You know, all the credit you gave me in your report about that day really screwed me over.”
That might explain Schuldig’s resentment. “I didn’t know at the time that you were trying to hide yourself.” Though it might not have made a difference even if he had known.
“Hmph. The team leader you stole me from is petty, vicious, and sneaky, so you might want to watch your back.”
“How upset is he?” Crawford asked, not concerned but wanting some idea of what he could expect. “Does he have a... personal interest in you?” Schuldig’s file suggested his old team leader didn’t, but students sometimes hid these things from their minders for a while.
“He doesn’t value me as a talent, a team member, or a person, but he sees his team as his property, which makes you a thief.”
“Good to know.” That could be dealt with easier than a man who wanted a lover back. He’d have to gauge how much Eszett valued the man before he decided on a plan of action, because not even a “golden boy” could get away with killing someone the Elders wanted alive, especially not when he’d be the prime suspect. Speaking of.... “You killed your team leader that day, didn’t you?”
Schuldig’s facial expression didn’t even flicker. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. He was another of the rogue’s casualties.”
“I looked into it. He could have survived his injuries. You made sure he didn’t.”
“That’s an interesting conclusion. If anyone else shared it I would’ve been brought up on charges and punished.”
“You can admit it to me. It could even serve as a threat of what you might try to do to me if you ever felt I crossed you too much. I’m sure you had your reasons.”
“It would be stupid to admit to something I didn’t do,” Schuldig answered breezily.
Schuldig’s acting abilities would be an asset to Crawford’s plans. “All right.”
It would take time for Crawford to fully judge Schuldig and decide to tell him what he really intended to do with his team. Although Schuldig didn’t appear to feel any attachment to his old team, his older team leader, or Rosenkreuz, that didn’t automatically mean Schuldig would become attached to him. Schuldig feeling loyalty to him would make many things much easier, but he would have to earn that somehow.
He couldn’t help feeling some disappointment and resentment that Schuldig felt so unenthused about the reunion he’d worked toward and looked forward to.