For Lux, whoever Lux is (email me! email me! I love you!), as you are my one constant and faithful reviewer for all my Schwarz fics, and that means so much to me, to know people out there are reading my crap. Thank you. Enjoy!





Cave Canem

Lest if he confront me I be forced to say what is in no wise true:
That he is welcome; that I am unoccupied;
And forced to sit while the potted roses wilt in the crate or the sonnet cools
Bending a respectful nose above such dried philosophies
As have hung in wreaths from the rafters of my house since I was a child.

Some trace of kindliness in this, no doubt,
There may be.
But not enough to keep a bird alive.

-Cave Canem, Edna St. Vincent Millay



"Phone."

"Got it." Schuldig rolls over, snatches the phone off the receiver, and holds it to his ear as he flops back onto his stomach. "Yo," he said, "what the fuck do you want?"

"Charming, Schuldig, absolutely charming." Crawford's voice, from the other end, sounds weary, amused, and ever in control. Schuldig grins a little, but only to himself. After all, Crawford's on the phone, for Christ's sake, he can't see it.

"Who is it?" Nagi asks, around an Oreo.

"It's Crawford, shut up for a second." Schuldig waves his hand in Nagi's direction. He moves onto his side, his back turned to Nagi, who's sprawled out next to him on his bed. "And turn down the volume on the TV, I can't fucking hear a thing." Nagi sighs, but does as he was asked. "So, Crawford," Schuldig says, once he's sure he can hear Crawford breathing at the other end of the line, "what the fuck do you want?" Schuldig can hear Crawford chuckle after that, the sound muted.

"Wonderful, Schuldig, just wonderful. I was calling to see if you'd done something irredeemably stupid yet; but, it seems, you're still alive, and that is all I had wanted to know." Schuldig snorts.

"Thanks. It's good to know you care, and all that shit. You coming back soon, or are you fucking eloping with some stick-up-the-ass businesswoman you've met in Fuckaho, America, and giving us all the big break?"

"You put things so eloquently, I almost wish they were true," Crawford returns, crisp, bemused, "but no. It's Tuckahoe, and it is rather amusing, isn't it? I'm taking a plane back tomorrow in the very early morning. I should be in by noon on Friday. Do you think you can handle that, or should I wait while you get a pen and write it down on your forehead?"

"Fuck you, Crawford, that doesn't ever work, unless you spend the time writing it backwards. Otherwise you can't fucking read it in the mirror. Bite me," Schuldig adds, toying absently with the telephone cord. "Noon Friday?" For Nagi's benefit, mostly, so the kid will know what the fuck all is going on, and why Crawford is calling.

"Yes," Crawford reiterates, "noon Friday."

"I'll try to keep it in mind," Schuldig drawls. "Kill anybody interesting?"

"I will later tonight, actually."

"And then it's back on the plane, catch a little nap, back to business as usual? You're one fucking crazy bastard. Was there any shit I was supposed to do? I can't remember."

"No, fortunately. Go back to watching your movie, I have to go."

"Crawford?"

"Mm?"

"What fucking movie is it?"

"I don't know, I didn't pay attention. Something with a comet, though; death; pain; destruction; nothing you haven't seen before, in more interesting formats."

"It's Deep fucking Impact, fuck you, too."

"Really? Is the fucking part of the title?"

"No, it's a part of my fucking life. Go get some sleep or something. Eat a little something, you know how you can't blow a guy's head open on an empty stomach." Schuldig laughs, the sound pinched.

"Of course, mother."

"Fuck you, you're the daddy, remember? Shit, you're the old one."

"Goodbye, Schuldig."

"Yeah, whatever, goodbye, asshole." Schuldig waits for the click on the other end, and then he turns over, holding the phone out to Nagi. "Hang it up?" Nagi sighs again, rolling his eyes, but again, does as he was asked. Schuldig stretches like a cat, grabbing an Oreo out of the bag sitting before him. "Okay," Schuldig says cracking his knuckles, and then slowly twisting the two halves of the cookie apart. "Who the fuck died while I was on the phone with his highness?"

"The girl's parents, I think," Nagi says. He turns up the volume again, presses himself in against Schuldig's side.

"It fucking pisses me off," Schuldig says, snorting. He offers the half with the all the filling to Nagi for a lick. "I mean, first of all, she's fucking crazy, but just look at how mindless they are. I want the world to fucking end just so I can see people act like fucking assholes, like this. And I mean, this movie sucks, 'cause all it does is focus on a fucking blonde bitch and this lucky-as-shit asshole kid, and who the fuck cares? The whole world is going to hell in a handbasket and we're supposed to give a shit about some star's big blue eyes?" Schuldig bites into his cookie vehemently, and goes back to watching the movie intently. Nagi shrugs.

"Hey," he says, "you're the one who rented it."

"I thought I was going to care," Schuldig explains, "not hate every single self-centered shithead in the damn thing."

"Oh well," Nagi says. "Sorry."

"Yeah, whatever," Schuldig mutters, "it's hitting fucking America. I wonder if Tucka-fucking-hoe is under water, or what."

~*~

Nights are very black in small apartments.

The phone rings. Nagi, asleep against Schuldig's chest, shifts, and murmurs.

"Phone," he mumbles, and falls back asleep. Schuldig pries himself out from underneath the kid as the phone finishes ringing for the second time. Wincing and hissing, Schuldig grabs the phone off the receiver in one hand, and his cigarettes and lighter in the other.

"It's fuck all late," Schuldig snaps into the phone, "who the fuck is it?" The floor is cold beneath Schuldig's feet. Outside, it looks like it might be snowing. Schuldig nudges the bay window open, lights his cigarette.

"It's Crawford."

"Yeah, fuck you, Crawford." Schuldig takes a long drag of his cigarette. "What the fuck do you want? I'm tired." Schuldig brings the cigarette to his lips and takes a long drag. The cut on his lip has healed enough now so even that doesn't hurt. He's been chainsmoking since Crawford left to do whatever the fuck it was he left to do, make some transactions, kill a guy, have some nice American food, what the fuck ever. Schuldig hadn't been paying attention, he'd been waiting for Crawford to get the fuck out of the house so he could start chainsmoking to make up for lost time.

"How are you feeling?"

"What, you're calling me at fucking," Schuldig pauses, looks at the clock on his bedside table, takes another drag of the cigarette, "fucking three in the morning, and you want to know how I'm feeling? I'm fucking tired, that's how I'm feeling."

"I'm serious, Schuldig."

"I'm okay," Schuldig mutters, "fuck you, all right, I'm okay."

"Headaches?"

"Better."

"How many packs of cigarettes have you smoked the past three days?" Damn, but Crawford is good. It pisses Schuldig the fuck off, but Crawford is good.

"Three and a half," Schuldig says. He's too tired to lie, or at least to lie properly.

"Hn," Crawford says. "You're smoking now."

"Yeah, and you're fucking crazy, what else do you want from me?"

"Something's up," Crawford says, "that's all. I don't know why you have to be such an asshole every time I call." Schuldig snorts a little, finds himself laughing. It's cold. He's shivering now, the air coming in through the window freezing cold.

"What do you mean, something's up?" he asks, distracting himself from the chill creeping over his skin.

"I don't know yet," Crawford admits. "I will, soon."

"I just don't get you."

"And I don't get you," Crawford retorts, "so it's all right. Schuldig, are you cold?"

"How the fuck do you do that?"

"Don't stand in front of open windows. I want you to be useful when I get back, not a mess." Schuldig snorts again, looking out into the dark night. It's more blue than black, sort of like a thumb smudge of ink, or the color of a bruise. The sky is heavy with clouds and he can't see the moon. He stubs his cigarette butt out on the windowsill without really thinking about it, and then leans himself against the chill of the glass, breathing against it. He likes the little spots of condensation, like the clouds in the sky.

"So how the fuck are you?" Schuldig asks.

"I'm fine."

"You fucking sure?"

"Yes, I'm sure. I had steak, I killed two people, I slept for a little while, and now I'm talking with you."

"Headaches?" Schuldig asks. A smile, which looks foreign and crooked on his features, plays over his lips.

"Better," Crawford returns simply.

"Yeah, okay. Just making sure, you know."

"Mm. Of course."

"Well you never fucking take care of yourself, anyway," Schuldig protests.

"Neither do you."

"Fuck this, Crawford, I can't take long distance relationships." Schuldig laughs a little, drumming his fingers on the windowsill. "It's snowing here."

"Is it?"

"I thought you'd know that."

"I'm not paying attention to that sort of thing," Crawford answers truthfully. Schuldig imagines how he is sitting, on one of those uncomfortable hotel-room armchairs. His tie is a little loosened, his shirt not wrinkled, but hanging comfortably on him. Schuldig grins.

"Yeah, well, if you were, you'd know I'm naked, right fucking now."

"You're not naked right now, Schuldig, and if you were, I would tell you again, get away from the damn window. I'm not taking you to the hospital again. Stop being stupid."

"Fine," Schuldig mutters, "I'm not fucking naked, but would you like it if I were?"

"I wouldn't care either way," Crawford returns smoothly, "so long as you weren't sitting in front of the fucking window. I've had a long day, Schuldig, humor me."

"Nagi's in the bed," Schuldig says, "fuck you, not like that, in the bed, and I'm not naked, and I was having a smoke so I was sitting in front of the window, because you tell me all the time not to make the apartment smell like fucking cigarettes, okay? Okay? Fuck you, Crawford."

"I've had a long day, Schuldig," Crawford repeats, "ease up."

"What the fuck's wrong?" Schuldig scowls at the snow and lights himself another cigarette.

"Don't smoke that."

"Fuck you."

"Nothing's wrong," Crawford says, after a pause, "something's up. That's all I said. Things are happening. Don't you feel it? Close your eyes. If you thought for two seconds, you'd feel it." Schuldig pauses, cigarette between his lips. He closes his eyes. He thinks, listens, feels. Darkness, phones ringing, people having sex, someone dying two houses down, a cat looking through a trash can, someone counting money in the dead of night, someone looking at porno on the internet. (Good idea, Schuldig's gotta do that sometime.) A buzz, a hum, expectant. Somewhere out there. Somewhere. Something's going on, like the world changing, set on a wrong axis, changing. The clouds can feel it. They cry, they cry cold things. The clouds can feel it, Schuldig can feel it. "Can you swim, Schuldig?" Crawford asks, sudden. Schuldig almost drops his cigarette.

"No," Schuldig says, wary. "What? No. I've never fucking needed to."

"Hm."

"What's up?"

"I need to go," Crawford says.

"Crawford?"

"I need to go, Schuldig," Crawford says again.

"Don't do anything stupid."

"If you don't," Crawford warns.

"Fine, then I fucking won't. I'll see you soon?"

"Yes. There's extra Motrin in the third drawer down, in my dresser, the one by the bed. If you need it. It's going to be long," Crawford muses, "the time is going to pass slowly. I'll see you soon, Schuldig." Schuldig waits for that click. It doesn't come. Schuldig pauses. Schuldig never hangs up first.

"Crawford?"

"Mm."

"What the fuck do you mean, can I swim?"

"Nothing. Get some sleep."

"Crawford?"

"Yes?" Schuldig fumbles with his lighter.

"Can we fuck when you get back?"

"Can I bathe first?"

"Hotel showers are the fucking worst," Schuldig commiserates, "sure, you can bathe first. I don't fuck the unclean."

"Mm. We'll see."

"You sound like you need it."

"Perhaps. Goodbye, Schuldig."

"Fuck you too, Crawford." There it is: click. Schuldig frowns at the phone in his hand and feels like throwing it against the wall, only that would wake Nagi up, and things would get complicated. "Fuck," Schuldig mutters. He crushes out his half-finished cigarette and, aware of the sudden cold, closes the window quickly. If he had any fucking alcohol he'd get drunk; he feels like getting drunk, now, like he needs it. Maybe, he feels like getting back into bed and curling up around Nagi, but he can't pretend Nagi's Crawford, so maybe he doesn't feel like that after all.

"Schuldig?" Nagi.

"Fuck, you're awake?"

"Maybe you should hang up the phone." Schuldig scowls and moves to do so. He slams it down in it's receiver, because fuck, Nagi's awake already, anyway.

"How long?"

"Just now, actually." Nagi yawns. "Crawford called?"

"Yeah."

"Anything wrong?"

"No. Listen. Can you feel the world fucking moving wrong? I can feel it." Silence. Nagi listens. Silence.

"Yeah," Nagi says, "I can. What's up?"

"I don't know. Crawford doesn't know. Let's get some fucking sleep." Schuldig crawls into bed, curls up around Nagi, who leans into him. "Shit," Schuldig says, "I hate it when he fucking calls me." They both know it isn't true. Schuldig hates it when Crawford hangs up, that's what Schuldig hates. But Schuldig's never cared to be honest enough or articulate enough to explain it that far.

"Sure," Nagi says, and he kisses Schuldig's chin. Ten minutes later they're both asleep, waiting, in their dreams, for morning to come.