Fueled by the current (as opposed to the past) existential crisis (let’s call it EC for short) I present, ten drabbles of EXACTLY ONE HUNDRED WORDS EACH (it felt like burning, and one drabble just wouldn’t do, but I did it!) in which Schwarz ponders the meaning of existence. Most of this has been done, but let’s do it again, shall we? One day Farfarello might join us. I promise,ahpookishere , when I can wrap myself around anatomical references, I LOVE YOU will be yours. Until then, have these drabbles.
Title: Existential Crises
Fandom: Weiss Kreuz
Characters: Crawford / Schuldig, Nagi
Notes: Ten brief encounters that might all go together in some way.
The wine was thick, sweet like cough syrup. It coated Schuldig’s throat, landed like oil in his stomach. Bathroom to the left; wrong turn. He stumble-sprawled onto Crawford’s bed.
“Do I need to post signs in the hallway?” Crawford asked. “If you puke here, I’ll leave you to lie in it.”
Schuldig shoved himself up onto his elbows and peered through sticky strands of hair. “What are we doing here?”
With that, Crawford’s existential crisis promptly passed out in a heap of jet lag. Which was a shame, really, because Schuldig finally asked a question he could answer.
Schuldig’s eyes were filled with ash. “I think I ate sand,” he said, experimentally, pleased to find his throat worked. He dusted himself off, took stock of his limbs and poked around in the smoke for Crawford.
Explosives are a useful cure for hangover.
“And hearing,” Schuldig said aloud, and pressed his palms to his ears. On. Off. Good, still there. “What are we doing here?”
“Timing our fortune.” Crawford fired across Schuldig’s right shoulder, through the murk and debris, and brought down the last target.
“Fortunate timing,” Schuldig said, and pressed his hand to his ear again.
“What are we doing here?” Schuldig’s voice echoed against the curved underside of the bridge before the gunmetal sluice of the river swallowed it up.
“Waiting.” Crawford’s hands rested in his trouser pockets as he peered into the line of the water edge.
Schuldig paced. “For what?
“For this. Fetch it out.”
“I don’t fetch.” But he came to where Crawford stood and bent down for a closer look.
The water-bloated, long-dead fist clutched something tightly.
“How important is . . .”
Schuldig sighed and started prying fingers apart. “I wish you’d see yourself doing these things.”
They boarded the first available flight to Vienna. Schuldig pressed his knees into the seat in front of him. Waited. Listened. Felt the fellow passenger, a Swiss man in his sixties, almost drift off in sleep before Schuldig pressed again, harder.
“He’s going to turn around and punch you in ten minutes.” Crawford stared into the plastic cup of hot tea and grimaced.
“I might let him. What are we doing here?”
“Business class was booked.”
“I could have arranged something.”
“Hardship breeds possibility.”
“Yeah, right.” Schuldig watched Crawford take a sip of tea before he pressed his knees harder.
Carry-on baggage clutched closely to their sides, Schuldig and Crawford stared up at the looming building front where the taxi had dropped them past the front gates of Rosenkreuz.
“What are we doing here?” Crawford said to himself.
Schuldig glanced at him anxiously. “You said we needed to pick someone up.”
“I was being rhetorical. Let’s get on with it.”
“Good,” Schuldig said, and followed Crawford up the wide steps, past the mouths of stony, yawning lions, forward into the past. If he kept his sight on the clipped motion of Crawford’s heels the sound would beat out the silence.
“What are we doing here?” The manager of the east wing used absent-mindedness for slow, calculated advantage. “Oh, yes. A recent acquisition. We haven’t had time to put him through the usual tests, but you have a way with the outcasts, don’t you Crawford?”
The manager glanced toward Schuldig, who smiled, winningly.
The door opened and the boy looked up.
“I like to buy low,” Crawford said.
“Nagi, Na – whatever, take your things, you’re being transferred.” The manager said, and disappeared down the hall.
Schuldig watched him go and grabbed Nagi’s wrist, pulling him along. “Let’s be quick,” he said.
Schuldig kept his knees to himself on the return flight. He leaned against Crawford’s shoulder and pretended to be asleep. When he sensed the kid drift off and Crawford’s watchful wakefulness falter, Schuldig climbed carefully over knees and wandered to the bathroom.
He swayed with the motion of the plane and stared at himself in the mirror. He always expected to see someone else. Cupping his hands, he filled them with water and tossed the cold liquid onto his face. The water tasted like chlorine and mercury.
He watched the water drip from his chin.
“What are we doing here?”
Schuldig flicked ash out the window and watched the rain plaster it back against the glass. The alley below was filled with rushing water, a grimy, swirling canal.
He heard Crawford come up behind him, a vacuum of soundlessness. Schuldig had to focus harder to catch the end of the kid’s confusing thoughts in the next room.
“Quit distracting me.”
“What are we doing?” Crawford pushed Schuldig’s hair aside and bit the back of his neck. “Here?”
Schuldig pressed his forehead to the glass. “Yes,” he whispered, “there.”
Crawford reached around, took the cigarette, and tossed it out the window.
Nagi closed the fridge, turned around, and gasped. The overhead light flickered dully. Schuldig’s hair was a mess, the rest . . .too much bone and height and watchfulness, propped against the counter. Nagi was trapped in a horror movie with talkative ghosts.
“That’s sweet!” Schuldig said.
“What are you doing here?”
“What are you doing here? Crawford asked if you’d died in your room. I told him your little brain was still clicking.”
“There’s nothing to eat.”
“Food comes from restaurants.”
Schuldig sighed. “Give me a minute.”
Nagi sat on the couch and waited for Schuldig to get dressed.
Crawford met them outside the building. Schuldig gestured with his hands, a manic flourish that matched his expression, meaning he’d seen carnage on a greater scale than usual. Nagi trailed behind Schuldig.
“And then he . . . I don’t know what he did, but they walked into the restaurant, all four of them and they were all like, Where have you been? And they came straight over – why the fuck did you not tell me we’d see them? – and then the kid stepped in front of me and they were all like, What are we doing here? And then BAM, they’re all dead.” Schuldig paused to catch his breath.
“I didn’t have a chance to eat,” Nagi reminded.
Crawford looked back and forth between them. Really looked. And then he smiled. “I’ve packed our things, let’s go.”
Schuldig’s eyes were huge. Nagi’s mouth was a thin, unbroken line.
Everything made more sense now.
(Okay – so I lied. All exactly one hundred words until the last one, but Schuldig was all, “Let me talk! Let me talk!” And Nagi was all, “No, I’m leaving.” And Crawford was too busy trying to figure out what came next and then . . .)