Rating: R (some references to the smut in the last chapter)
Disclaimer: Theirs. Not Mine. Don't Sue, etc.
Summary: Schuldig finally got what he wanted more than anything else. So why isn't he happy about it?
A/N: Continuing story between malfoymation and myself, as she misses playing Brad very very much, and I want to make it up to her, poor duckling.
Previous installments can be found here:
Instalment One: "A Bundle of Ifs and Twigs" by malfoymation
Instalment Two: "Untitled" by tempestreloaded
Instalment Three: "Choices" by malfoymation
Instalment Four: "Untitled" by tempestreloaded
Instalment Five: "Jigsaw" by malfoymation
Instalment Six: "To Possess" by malfoymation
Experiments that failed too many times
Transformations that were too hard to find
Poison's in my bloodstream, poison's in my pride
I'm after rebellion, I'll settle for lies.
~Flaming Telepaths - Blue Oyster Cult
It seems like hours before Crawford finally falls asleep, apparently assured that Schuldig isn't getting up afterwards and running away. His pride probably couldn't stand the blow that would inflict, and his jealousy would whisper in his ear that Fujimiya or the girl is to blame, and all sorts of Hell would be unleashed, wouldn't it?
Brad has never ceased to be a dangerous presence. And Schuldig nearly fears him now. He has reason to. After all, he is not entirely sure he has won the forgiveness of this vengeful spirit made flesh. He can no longer read him, not even as he watches the other's face relax and those tense muscles loosen as he drifts off against the sheets and the warmth of the redhead's arms. Schuldig tries to read this face, but it is, after all, a stranger's face, fastened there by the cruel mechanics that drive Rosenkreuz and their blasted experiments.
Once upon a time, he wanted this.
Now he feels nothing but cold, a bitterness in the back of his throat.
It was good, no question about that. For all the frigid airs Crawford had put on before the 'accident', he knew where to touch, what to say, how to coax that screaming white bliss that coiled in his stomach and flared up with enough intensity that, for a few moments of bliss, he was alone inside of his own head. No need to think or focus on anything but the slickness of skin against skin and the delicious ache between his thighs. It was one of the reasons the German loved sex as much as he did.
And he'd said what he'd meant to, that night. Before Fujimiya's blade had put an end to what might have been a turning point in their unhappy existances. Those uncomfortable squirmings, the resounding emptiness that had been left when they'd told him Brad was dead, that Eszet was taking the body, that they were sending a replacement, that life was moving on without even pausing. The regret.
I love you.
He'd said it once...twice. Three times, to reassure himself, to reassure Brad, but then the shields had come back up. The awkwardness of those words, even on his own tongue, and it wasn't that he didn't believe it. Love wasn't just about fuzzy bunnies and boxes of chocolate and fat naked babies sticking people in the arse with arrows. It was a painful, suffocating feeling that Schuldig HATED...that he made fun of in others, additional strings to dance his favorite puppets along on.
He never wanted to love Crawford. And now it was obvious just how much. The words echoed the emptiness of Brad's sudden absence from his life, and seeped through the cracks in the puzzle that, despite being put back together as best as they could, just didn't fit quite the same anymore. Almost a mocking mirror image of the way they'd pieced Crawford together now, this sharp-featured blond, and how he would have loved to see past that molding to what had once been.
But past was past. Lingering did no good at all, and it had never been his style to.
So he watches Brad sleeping there, propping himself up on an elbow, shaggy red hair pushed back and sticking slightly to the sweat of his skin. It's warm enough in the room, but inside is nothing but cold. I betrayed him, he thinks. I betray anyone who is fool enough to get close to me. I don't deserve this.
He never felt regret for fooling around with Fujimiya, who moved on as soon as he was able to recognize those feelings he'd been harboring for Kudoh, and while he was fun to play with now and again, really felt as detatched from the situation as Schuldig did. No threat of love there.
And the girl, who probably makes Brad feel the most threatened, because she has no alterior motive other than truly -loving- Schuldig, despite his inability to return the feelings...well, she's a comfort, true enough. She cleans the blood from his wounds and mothers him about, sometimes giving him a swift kick in the shins if he needs it to shape up, laughs with him and tries so very very hard to understand him. He doesn't have the heart to tell her that she can't, she hasn't seen what he has seen. He is...grateful for her. And damn if he's going to let Brad hurt her in his jealousy.
My toys. Let me play with them a while longer. They break soon enough. You know you're the only one I...
But of course they don't mean to him what Crawford means. Crawford has been there as long as he can remember, keeping him in check, from really doing something spectacularly foolish and getting burned for it. There's never been a doubt in his mind that Crawford loves him too. He wouldn't have bothered putting up with half of Schuldig's stunts and tantrums if he didn't. There is no comparison for what they've been through as students under Rosenkreuz, as agents of Eszet, as two people dreaming of their own ideals and a chance to make them a reality, to escape into the world and make their own destinies.
He wants to get up. Go and have a cigarette or maybe something stronger. He would if he didn't think it'd piss him right off again and, as much as he loved pissed Brad off, now just doesn't seem like the time to start up again. Things are still far too unsteady, a house of cards if ever there was one.
So instead he sighs, settles back against the pillow again, eyes cast towards the ceiling, the blue irises that Brad searched for tinged green around the edges, thanks to the extended use of Wraith's miracle drug, Chimera. Did you know that Brad? he wonders silently. Did they tell you I sank into yet another of my vices? All just to see your face again.
Brad sleeps on, oblivious in slumber, and the redhead sighs again.
To an extent, Schuldig understands his anger, his wish to destroy everything that locks Schuldig into the path he's taken thus far, and draw him back to that point all over again, that moment just before the illusion of the dream faded into the smoke and dissolved in the rain and ran trickling into the sewers with the blood and the gasoline. After all, how many people are given this chance? To reunite with a loved one, to start anew, to be given a chance to take that path and see where it might take them.
Brad Crawford is giving him that chance. That choice.
And whether he sees this as reward or punishment, it is no longer clear.