Crawford's Nasty Flu, part one

November 22, 2008

Summary: Crawford ends up getting a nasty case of the flu at the same time Eszett comes for a vacation. Schuldig, Farfarello, and Nagi all learn to appreciate Crawford more after this experience. Kissing Eszett's backside, schmoozing Schreient, and guarding Takatori's daughter about does the three of them in.

Warnings: None... just cute fun. I have to say. Well... maybe 'poor' sexually harassed Schuldig, but it's just plain silly.

Note: My husband wrote Crawford's expense report in part two. I had no idea math could be so funny!

Crawford entered Schwarz's high-rise apartment. What he saw when he slammed the door made him want to go back downstairs and never think about Schwarz again. He had left Schwarz for a mere three hours to meet with an Eszett agent named Janice Walker; in spite of his premonition, he had left the rest of Schwarz alone at the apartment. Normally, he would have taken one of the three to prevent the scene before him, but he was backed into a corner. He detested his gift when he could see the future, but was at its mercy.

His eyes drifted to poor Nagi who looked like he was to the point of tears as the loud techno beat filled the apartment. The teenage telekinetic was hunched over a calculus book and unfinished homework all sprawled out on the coffee table. Crawford knew from experience that Schuldig and Farfarello would just spread into Nagi's room if the teenager chose to retreat. It was just no use for Nagi to even try to move from the coffee table.

Crawford looked over to the easel in the center of the living room where Farfarello was indulging a new hobby: painting. Even Crawford found the forth coming oil revolting as Farfarello worked diligently. Crawford averted his gaze when it fell on a nun in the midst of a colony of horny, old men in a desert. Crawford acknowledged he was failing Nagi in two ways; he was not giving Nagi a chance to study and he wasn't keeping Nagi from Farfarello. Crawford's jaw clinched as Schuldig came bouncing out of the kitchen.

Crawford was about to his end with the techno music. Schuldig was in love with the endless beat and annoying looped music Crawford found distasteful. It had all started two weeks ago when Schuldig received a package from his cousins, Hans and Dieter. This particular band, Crawford used the term loosely, was all the rage in Germany. It only served to push Crawford over the edge.

"Would you turn that down," Crawford shouted at Schuldig who danced while he stirred chocolate batter in a bowl. Chocolate drops splattered all over Nagi's calculus book, Crawford's Chippendale end table, and Farfarello's artwork. The Irish assassin turned slowly to the oblivious redhead who now stood on Crawford's hand carved marble coffee table as he bopped around, leaving footprints on Nagi's homework papers.

Crawford stood back after he saw that Nagi, the truly kind and mild teenager, had finally been pushed too far. Schuldig was flung through the air towards a wall. The sheetrock crumpled as Schuldig sunk to the carpet. The bowl of chocolate batter was now smeared into the cream colored, deep piled carpeting as Schuldig stood up and shook off Nagi's telekinetic shove. Crawford had long ago given up the idea of seeing his deposit back for this apartment.

Now Farfarello, also pissed off that his artwork was destroyed, shoved a large paint brush with globs of blue paint up Schuldig's nose. Schuldig, angry that his personal rave was being imposed on, lunged at Farfarello and grabbed a handful of Nagi's hair. The three Schwarz assassins were now in a tangle of limbs, blades, and wrecked furniture.

Crawford turned and left the apartment as a throbbing headache took over. He was at his end. Nagi, the youngest, acted the most mature, but Farfarello and Schuldig had a prodigious talent for making the boy sink to their level. Besides, Farfarello and Schuldig where barely house trained. It was nothing but a lose-lose situation for Crawford. He found himself sitting on a bus stop bench three blocks away from his apartment building.

He sighed and leaned back trying to remember more pleasant times when he first was hired by Eszett. And then they came... one-by-one to make his life a living hell.

A cool drop of water caught his attention. He looked up as a clap of thunder boomed. He sneered at the sky and hunched his shoulders. He was too tired and too angry to move. After all, getting drenched by a rainstorm was the least of his problems.

"What were you doing sitting out in the rain like that anyway, don't you have enough sense to come out of the rain?" Schuldig asked Crawford. The American's biting remark was prevented by the thermometer under his tongue. Sitting for half an hour in a torrential downpour ended up being a huge problem for Crawford. He was now bundled under a pile of quilts with the rest of Schwarz hovering above him.

"Here's some soup," Nagi said, placing the bowl on Crawford's nightstand.

"Who made it?" he asked.

"I did," Farfarello answered.

"No thanks," Crawford said before a coughing fit took him.

"Don't spread your germs!" Schuldig said.

"Then don't be in here!" Crawford shouted back. He clinched his eyes shut and laid his head back on the pillow. His head throbbed all the way through and every joint ached.

"You sure do get in a bad mood when you get sick, Brad," Schuldig said.

"And when he's well too" Nagi whispered over to Farfarello who snickered.

"This morning! Oh no. Get me my day planner," Crawford snapped.

"Not that day planner! I hate that stinking piece of...." Schuldig started off.

"I'll get it!" Nagi offered and scrambled to the door. Farfarello tackled the teenager.

"No! I'll get it," Farfarello shouted, drawing a knife.

"Enough! I know about that stupid bet the three of you made behind my back," Crawford said.

"What bet?" the three of them asked, getting mock expressions of innocence.

"The one where the first to vandalize my day planner gets a thousand dollars," Crawford answered, fighting off a chill.

"Well it isn't easy with your abilities keeping it safe. You've busted us every time we tried to touched the thing," Schuldig griped. He stalked off and left Nagi and Farfarello to glare at each other.

Schuldig reappeared with the the leather-bound, Franklin Covey day planner. He thrust it at Crawford with a glare. Crawford flipped it open to the day and smiled.

"Good! Those Eszett prunes aren't due for another two days. I can rest before I have to deal with them." Crawford said. He was seized by a coughing fit as his cell phone rang. He tossed it at Schuldig, flopped back on his bed, and buried his head under his pillows.

"This is Schuldig," the redheaded German answered. "Hello, Janice Walker. No, Mister Crawford is pretty sick.... Early? How Early?... An hour?... I'll tell him. Thanks." Schuldig clicked the phone off and and yanked the pillow off Crawford's head. "Bad news, Brad. Those old prunes you were talking about will be at the Tokyo airport in a about an hour."

"What? Those crazy old Eszett geezers can't even stick to a schedule. Those little... I've got to go get them. Must make a good impression!" Crawford said. He got out of his bed only to land flat at Schuldig's feet. Schuldig and Farfarello picked him up and put him back in bed.

"You're in no shape. I'll go pick up the geezers and deal with them," Schuldig offered.

"But they have to be handled with diplomacy. I'm trying to get more money out the old tightwads," Crawford said. "I was trying to convince them we need the money to take down Weiss."

"You don't think I can do some shmoozing for money? You're not the only smooth talker around here. I can get them eating out of my hand," Schuldig bragged. Nagi and Farfarello snickered and shook their heads.

"Yes, I keep forgetting how charming your can be," Crawford said in ill-disguised sarcasm.

"I bet I could do it," Schuldig said.

"I never gamble," Crawford snapped. He groaned and covered his head with the pillow again.

"Looks like you have no choice," Schuldig gloated. "Really, Brad, you act as if your job is so hard. You really need to toughen up." Crawford gave Schuldig an obscene gesture and wrapped back under the covers as his phone rang again.

"Schuldig here.... No, he's sick and what do you want, Schone?" Schuldig snapped. "Why should we come over there and deal with a few mice?... Well then you women should call an exterminator and not us!" Schuldig was quiet for half a minute. "I don't give a rat's tail about what Masafumi Takatori said! He can kiss my big, Teutonic..."

Nagi suddenly lunged for the phone and snatched it away from Schuldig. He held it up to his ear and said, "Miss Schone? Hello, this is Nagi. Did you need some help?... Sure, I'd love to come over and take care of a few mice. That's very easy.... so is Tot going to be there?"

Schuldig and Farfarello made kissy faces at Nagi who blushed furiously. Nagi hung up the phone and threw it at Schuldig's head.

"I'm going to go spy on Masafumi Takatori so we can have some leverage over Schreient. I'll be putting my time to good use," Nagi said.

"Yeah... right.... just don't spend all day trying to chase mice out of Tot's room," Schuldig teased. Nagi eyes blazed with anger while the phone rang again. Schuldig answered it.

"Schuldig here. Yes, Mr. Takatori, Crawford is pretty sick today.... No, I think he won't be able to do that... Your son and some mice?.... Yes, well I've already decided to send Nagi to go investigate," Schuldig said. This earned a glare and another obscene gesture, only this time from Nagi. "What was that? This afternoon? A party?... We'll I don't know?... You mean to tell me if Crawford doesn't show up he'll be fired?"

"What?" Crawford bolted up right and snatched the phone. "What is it, sir?... Sure, but... but.... Okay... You want me to spy on Schreient and bodyguard your daughter this afternoon at a pool party?... Schwarz will manage it somehow.... You want me to go? But, I'm running a temperature of 103 F with body chills and congestion.... No, sir... I really can't stand without vomiting... I really can't go.... Yes, sir, I'll send someone... Thank you," Crawford said and hung up his phone. He clenched it in his fist and glared at it. "Yeah, I'd love to take you to a pool party and hold your head under water for about ten minutes you son-of-a..."

"Remember diplomacy, Bradley," Schuldig sang out with a large grin when he saw Crawford get frustrated easier than normal.

"Okay. Nagi, you go and find out about what Masafumi is up too. Snoop everywhere. Farfarello, I hate to do this to you, but we still have to make Reiji Takatori think we're still loyally working for him. I need you to escort his daughter to some swimming pool party she was invited to this afternoon. Just behave and don't interact with the party guests. As far as you go, Schuldig, if you can milk more money out of those old Eszett goats, I'll let you have ten minutes to deface my day planner. Now just leave me alone to die!" Crawford snapped before another coughing fit took a hold of him.

"Yeah... yeah... yeah... just lay back and let us handle your job for you, Brad," Schuldig said in a mock tone. Schuldig, Farfarello, and Nagi all smirked at each other as they headed to the door.

"Oh, Schuldig," Crawford called out before they left his bedroom. The German turned and looked over at Crawford's smirk. "Remember to not turn your back to the old lady." Schuldig rolled his eyes and gave Crawford a dismissive wave.

Schuldig spotted the three elderly leaders of Eszett and walked over to them. Crawford had never given Schuldig their names; he didn't think Crawford knew their proper names. He, Nagi and Farfarello nicked-named Baldy, Squint, and Hag. They never let Crawford in on the joke because they figured he'd be too uptight to enjoy it. Yes, he raged about them with a temperature of 103 F, but Schuldig know Crawford would never be that vocally disparaging of Eszett in his right mind.

"Where's Crawford? He didn't get our call?" Baldy asked.

"He's very ill with the flu. He sent me instead to escort you and negotiate his most recent financial request," Schuldig said, giving them one of his lop-sided smiles.

"Oh, phooey! This is a pleasure trip! We want to go to tour Japanese amusement parks," Squint said. Schuldig realized that indeed the old men of Eszett were dressed like Hawaiian tourists: loud orange and yellow floral prints, green Bermuda shorts, and white socks under Birkenstocks. The Hag wore a mu mu with loud neon green flowers against a garish, blood-red background. Schuldig's smile got wider. He'd get these old folk in a good, relaxed mood and then they'd be eating out of his hand by the end of the day.

"Well, get our bags, boy, and lets go," Baldy snapped. Schuldig nodded and lead them to the baggage carousel. He picked out the luggage that had the symbol of the German double 's' letter on it. He leaned over to retrieve a bag when he felt someone grab his backside with two hands. He yelped, jumped forward, and almost landed on the conveyor belt. He swirled around with a flushed face to see the Hag leering at him while the two old goats snickered.

He stretched his telepathy out to read her mind, :I'm so glad that uptight, prude Crawford isn't along. This one has such a nice...: Schuldig slammed his telepathy off in horror and proceeded to get the other bags while he kept the old woman's hands in plain sight.

He lead them out of the airport, arms full of luggage, but he felt hands on his backside once again. His arms were too full to do anything except try to slow up and get the Hag to walk in front of him. She only slowed up more. The two old men were no help as they prodded Schuldig towards the glass doors and taxis.

He set the luggage down and arranged for a limousine. He kept his eyes on them the whole time and was relieved when the long black car showed up. He let the old folks in and got in after them. He placed Squint in between him and the Hag. Unfortunately, Squint and the Hag traded places. She smacked her hand down on Schuldig's knee and looked up at him with a wide, predatory smile.

"So, Schuldig, how about the hotel Crawford arranged for us," she asked, her hand sliding up Schuldig's leg. He gasped out loud and pushed her hand back.

"Yes... well... yes... I'll make sure it's nice," Schuldig said, feeling his mind go blank. He felt her hand edge again to his crotch as the limo took off. He pushed her hand back feeling sick to his stomach.

"Hello, Miss Schone," Nagi said with a smile. Shone's face looked haggard and terrorized. She gabbed the front of Nagi's shirt and yanked him in. She slammed the front door and dragged him in, with no preamble, to Masafumi's study. He wondered what exactly was going on. He noticed the whole mansion was dim, including the study. Hell, Neu, Tot, and Masafumi stood on his large oak desk. All of them carried high-gage shotguns and wore thick leather boots.

"Nagi!" Tot shouted and leaped into his arms. He hugged her tightly enjoying, what he thought, was excitement to see him. "Tot is glad you are here to take care of Daddy's mice."

He felt a little disappointed that silly, little mice were on Tot's mind and not him, but this was an opportunity to get in her good graces. He hoped after he killed the few mice, she would be so grateful he would have a chance to ask her out an a real date.

"Nagi. You're just the Schwarz member we wanted to see," Masafumi said. To Nagi's annoyance, Masafumi untangled Tot from his arms and thrust a shotgun in his hands. "You'll need this."

"But I've never touched a gun in my life. I wouldn't know how to use this. Besides, isn't this overkill for mice?" Nagi asked.

"Shush. They can hear you," Hell whispered. Nagi fell trepidation at the fear in her eyes.

"Just tell me where they are and I'll go kill them for you," Nagi said.

"No! I must have them back alive!" Masafumi said with fist in the air and a wild, wide-eyed gleam in his eyes.

"Okay. Alive. Just tell me were they are," Nagi said.

"There are two in there," Hell said, pointing to the closet at the far end of the room. Nagi walked over and yanked the door open. He wasn't prepared for the pair of seventeen pound, balding rats with over-sized tusks and foaming mouths. He screamed and slammed the door shut. Nagi sunk to the floor with his back to the door. His hands clenched the rifle's muzzle.

"What the heck are those things?" Nagi shouted with a glare at Masafumi.

"Those are my mice I was experimenting on. They seem to have gotten loose. Don't worry. They're only big as a cat and have hides as thick as rhinos. The problem is that I gave them all razor sharp fangs and rabies," Masafumi said, waving his hand in the air as if to dismiss Nagi's shock. "It would seem that shotguns aren't even hurting them though."

"Don't worry! Nagi will get all of Daddy's mice. Please, for Tot," the girl said, joining Schreient on the desk. Nagi sighed and nodded. He just couldn't say no to anything Tot asked him, even if it meant facing down a couple of rabid, mutant rats.

"Okay, Tot. How many of them are there?" Nagi asked.

"Daddy only made fifty-three of them," she said. Nagi felt his face clench in agitation at Masafumi. He kept picturing taking Tot to the movies as he felt the monster rats scratch and buck against the door to his back. He took a deep breath and tossed aside the shotgun. This was going to take a lot of concentration.

Farfarello had decided he had defiantly slipped into one of the layers of Hell from Dante's Inferno, but had missed it in his reading. Yes, somewhere Dante must have described the part of Hell where one sat in a car beside a teenager girl while her mouth kept producing inane sound. He imagined this is what pain must feel like. Yes, or pretty close to it.

"… and then Daddy made me go because he said I should look into dating that Akira Kuzasama, but I don't see what's so special about him. I mean Omi is…"

Farfarello clinched his jaw and vowed to hunt down this Omi kid and kill him painfully. Every sentence out of the girl's mouth was 'Omi this' or 'Omi that.' Yes, Farfarello had developed a deep-seated hatred for the boy just for the sheer annoyance of hearing the name over and over.

"…and then Daddy said I should take Susami a bracelet for a gift, but I thought that's too personal. That's when I asked Omi what he thought I should bring. Omi said…"

Again, Farfarello's jaw tightened as he tried to tune out the girl. "…so then I asked Omi…" No, she wasn't done yet. He tried harder to block her yammering out of his mind.

His foot stomped the accelerator to Crawford's beloved Austin-Healy Rally. Farfarello had swiped the keys from Crawford; he hoped the man was too sick to have a premonition. Luck would have it that Crawford drank a third of a bottle of NyQuil and passed out on the floor of the kitchen before Farfarello left.

"…and that horrible Hitomi will be there! I can't stand her! She's always flirting with Omi and…"

Farfarello fantasized about what he would do to this Omi kid when ever he found him. Yes, it would be a slow, torturous death. Farfarello swerved in and out of traffic as the girl prattled on. He also began to plot a cold, hard revenge on Bradley Crawford for sending him on this hellish mission on behalf of Reiji Takatori.

"Look! I need a break," Schuldig begged as he sunk to the bench. The last four roller coaster rides he'd been subjected to had about sent him over the edge. His telepathy picked up nothing but one cacophonous mental shout the whole time. It was as if he had thirty people screaming in his frontal lobe at once for the whole ride.

"Nonsense! Now you're starting to sound like that old fuddy-duddy Crawford," Squint said, pounding Schuldig on the shoulder.

"Suck it up, boy!" Baldy said, consulting the theme park map for the next roller coaster.

"But we haven't even discussed Crawford's request for more funding," Schuldig said.

"We'll discus that in my hotel room, sexy little redhead," the Hag said, pinching Schuldig's cheek. A group of teenage boys walked by; all of them were pointing and giggling. Schuldig felt his face go red again.

"But I really will need to get back home to check on Crawford. He's pretty sick," Schuldig said.

"Aw forget him! He needs to get laid. It may help him get a personality," Squint said. Baldy and the Hag cackled. Schuldig glared. He'd said the exact same words to Nagi and Farfarello a million times, but Schuldig didn't like hearing those words from a group of old perverts who Crawford went out of his way to please. Something just didn't seem right about it.

"Okay! Fine! Whatever you guys want," Schuldig said. Maybe if he was more pliant than Crawford he'd get the money out of them. "More roller coasters?"

"No, I found the ride I want to go on," the Hag said. She grabbed Schuldig up by the wrist and dragged him over to a ride. He felt his heart sink to his feet when he read the words 'Tunnel of Love' over the dark entrance.

"But, I really don't think this is a good idea," Schuldig murmured. The Hag jumped in the cart. Baldy and Squint shoved Schuldig in after her. Schuldig's scream was muffled as his face smacked into her mushy chest. He bolted up and tried to jump out of the cart, but she held him in a vice-like grip as the cart lurched to the dark chasm.

"Why mutant rats?" Nagi screamed at Masafumi. Currently, they were both dangling from a chandelier in the main entrance way. Below five, rabid, rat creatures snarled and snapped at their feet. "They even growl and snarl like hyenas!"

"Nice touch, huh? I thought it would increase their intimidation factor," Masafumi said with that psychotic gleam coming to his eyes. Nagi would have kicked the man in the shin, but Tot looked on from the chandelier she hung onto with Neu and Schone. "Herd this batch up and then we'll go find the other pack."

"Why can't I just kill them?" Nagi asked.

"Because they're wonderful! I have big, big plans for these little darlings," Masafumi said. Nagi sighed and shook his head. He mentally scooped up the five wriggling mutant rats and guided them through the air to a waiting cage. He latched the cage with his telekinesis and dropped down from the chandelier.

"That was wonderful," Tot squealed and ran to hug Nagi. Seconds before she hugged him, Masafumi stepped in between them and looked down at Nagi expectantly. Nagi gave Masafumi a dirty look and crossed his arms.

"I'm tired and this is so stupid! I'm not doing any more," Nagi said.

"What? Don't you sass me! You do as I say and fetch me my other thirty-two mice!" Masafumi yelled at Nagi.

"Those are rats and I don't work for you!" Nagi shouted back. It wasn't like him to be so angry and argumentative, but this situation was getting worse and worse. Plus, he hadn't had five seconds alone with Tot. It was more than his raging teenage hormones could handle.

"You do what I say or I'll complain to Crawford about your attitude," Masafumi threatened.

"I'll dial," Nagi said, getting out his cell phone and hit the speed dial button for Crawford's phone. Masafumi snatched the phone and waited.

"Yes, Crawford! I want to talk about Nagi's negative attitude…. No! I'm not your mother!... Are you drunk or something?... No!... My father would…. Wait… you know? Nagi? Yes, that's right! Nagi…. What do you mean 'whose Nagi,' you twit?... Or never mind you stuffy, addle minded jerk!" Masafumi screamed and flung Nagi's phone on the floor. Nagi then telekineticly flung Masafumi into a wall across the entrance way.

"Don't you call Crawford names again!" Nagi said, clenching his fists. A sharp pain struck Nagi across the top of his head. "Ow!"

"You hurt Daddy, you big meany! Tot doesn't like Nagi any more," Tot screamed, raising her parasol for another attack on Nagi's head.

"No! I'm so sorry, Tot! Please, don't hate me! I'll get Masafumi's mice… just please don't hit me again," Nagi pleaded. He felt his chance of getting a first date slipping away. Panic set in as he raised his arms to defend himself. Tot pouted.

"Tot will like Nagi again if he picks up all of Daddy's mice!" Tot said and lowed her parasol. Nagi's shoulders slumped in defeat.

"Okay, Tot! I promise," Nagi said. Nagi turned to Masafumi, who rubbed the back of his head and glared. "Where are the rest of your mice, Sir?"

If Farfarello thought the car ride was hellish, the party was worst. Teenagers as far as the eye could see. Giggling, shrieking, and splashing everywhere. He sat under a tree and kept his eye on Ouka as she buzzed around the swimming pool with the other party guests.

Things seemed to be going smoothly until he saw a tall teenage boy threw his arm around Ouka's shoulders. She pushed him away, but the boy persisted in pressing up against Ouka. She finally glared at the teen boy and shoved him. He wouldn't let go. Farfarello sighed and stood up.

He stalked over to the boy, clenched him around the neck, and dragged him towards the edge of the pool. He shoved the boy's head under the water and counted slowly to ten seconds. He yanked the boy's head up and shoved him aside.

"Don't make me get up again," Farfarello warned. He walked back as several stunned teenagers stared at him. He settled back down and glared at them until they gradually started their party again. He didn't miss Ouka's gaping jaw as she gave him a murderous glare. As far as Farfarello was concerned, he was there to keep Ouka safe, not happy.

She stalked up to Farfarello and leaned over him. He leaned back on his elbows and waited to hear his tongue lashing. She waved a finger at him as she fought off tears.

"Don't embarrass me again! I'll tell my father and he'll make Crawford fire you!" she threatened. He would roll his eye and laugh at her outright, but it wasn't worth his effort. "Crawford always finds a way to ruin my fun when he's around. You're even worse!"

He finally sighed when she stalked off. He was just counting the minutes until he could get back to the apartment and start a new painting. Something depicting Reiji Takatori being eaten by a pack of jackals.

To be continued.