Title: Rota Fortunae
Author: Sybil Rowan
Pairing(s)/Characters: No pairings, Brad Crawford
Summary: Crawford's thoughts on working for Takatori and biding his time with Eszett. It's while he escorts Takatori to a Human Chess match.
Author's Notes: This is just an idea from the second episode. Title comes from the tenth card in the tarot deck, the Wheel of Fortune. This one was submitted to a contest; that's why the 'unsavory' theme. Thanks to the WK_Squee livejournal community.
Disclaimer: Weiss Kreuz, its names and characters belong to Koyasu Takehito, Project Weiss, Marine Entertainment and Animate Film.
Beta Reader: My totally awesome, and totally picky, husband WingedPanther73!
December 16, 2008/ Word Count= 1,549
Unsavory. It was the word that came to Crawford's mind as he walked behind Reiji Takatori. He hated imprecise definitions, but he found that unsavory was an apt term. He used to always apply the word to food or the sense of taste where he could use it accurately.
Just lately, though, he realized why people used imprecise definitions. It was to carry a whole sentiment about a situation. For example, Crawford found his current lot in life offensive, unpleasant, and disagreeable. What wrapped these three words up into unsavory was the distasteful task Takatori was having him do right now.
When he had first agreed to come to Japan for Eszett, he knew this was the opportunity he had been waiting for. It was time to slowly gather strength, far away from Eszett's eyes. After all, Eszett's powers only extended so far. He and the other Schwarz members had realized a long time ago that they had more raw ability than the three elderly patrons. That, and Schwarz had youth.
Crawford found the situation in Japan was easy enough to control. Takatori was impressed enough with Schwarz, and Crawford had always been a master at flattery. It wasn't long before Crawford had manipulated Takatori into depending on Schwarz exclusively to carry out his dirty work while he concentrated on keeping a clean political image.
The American assassin never minded dirty work so long as it advanced his purposes; what he did mind was being used like a tawdry Ouija board at a tacky carnival sideshow. He did realize sometimes laying low and waiting for the appropriate moment was also moving forward, in its own way. If it meant degrading himself a few times to trick Takatori into thinking he was loyal, so be it. Convincing Schuldig of this principal was another matter altogether, but Schuldig had his pride.
He shook his head to clear out the background buzzing, but he knew it took a lot more to get rid of Schuldig. He had to admit that there was now a certain reassurance that came with that incessant buzzing in his head during inane tasks for Takatori. This task was particularly inane. Crawford didn't mind the body guarding duties, it was the other things Takatori asked of him that he found unsavory.
"Crawford," Takatori snapped. Crawford glanced around; they were at Takatori's table, high above an arena where humans beings, desperate men, would fight each other to the death. It was called Human Chess. "This is a great night for this. I was told that they have a fresh new batch."
Crawford fought hard not to pull a sour expression; instead, he gave Takatori a lopsided smile and sat down at the table. On the table was a card with statistics. He picked up the card after Takatori hailed a waitress and made his drink order. Crawford easily saw the flaws riddled throughout the actuarial table on the card.
The mathematics was flawed because it didn't take into account human desperation and despair. They were very powerful motivations to overcoming impossible odds. Crawford let the card slip through his fingers, having more faith in his gift than flawed math printed on a card. Again, he applied the word unsavory to the sloppy calculations. Mathematics was a precise art with a beauty all its own.
"So who do you like, Crawford?" Takatori asked. Here it was. This was the unsavory part of the task, being used like a vulgar walking tarot deck so Takatori could line his pockets. Crawford had tried to explain that his clairvoyance didn't work the way Takatori wanted it to. The man wouldn't listen, so Crawford had to push.
To Takatori, Brad Crawford was nothing more than a goose that laid golden eggs. Actually, Crawford was grateful the man saw him that way. It meant that his greed and ambition would blind him to anything Schwarz was doing behind his back.
Still, being used like this never set well with Crawford. This was why he always found gambling an unsavory pastime; it seemed so repulsive to use a special gift for something so base as cheating odds.
Crawford turned his eyes to the electric score board above the arena and concentrated. Most of the time he coaxed out petty visions, but they had their limits. Three images flashed in his head with brilliance. Each looked like a photo negative as they flared, taking over his eyesight.
"Black wins twice, then white. It was all I could see for now," Crawford whispered.
"Wonderful. We'll start there," Takatori said. He hailed the pit boss and placed an obscenely large wager on the first three matches: black in the first two, white in the third. Crawford took off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose.
The problem with coaxing visions was that it gave him a headache after a while, whereas the natural ones that came to him never caused discomfort. He knew better than to hope Takatori would stop at three bets. It was the same every Thursday. Takatori would bring Crawford along under the auspice of body guard, but then it would quickly degrade to Crawford acting as his betting consultant.
"You know what's odd about you, Crawford. All these months we've come here and you never once placed a bet for yourself. You could be a wealthy man by now." Takatori made the comment before taking a sip of his scotch. Crawford nodded.
"I have no taste for gambling," Crawford said numbly. Takatori chuckled.
"You don't gamble, drink, or chase women. Are all Americans as drab as you?" Takatori asked. Crawford shook his head. Takatori gave a hardy laugh. "I guess Eszett picks all their men to be colorless."
Crawford was grateful to the loud bell that interrupted further conversation about his personal habits. He leaned back in his chair and stared at the candle in the center of the table. After all, why bother watching the brutality below when he knew the outcome?
Crawford's mind turned to analyzing Takatori. He was greedy and bloated on power. He had gained his influence through illegal and immoral means. Men like Takatori thought they had a right to feed off society and use people for their amusement or advancement. It was the same concept of Divine Right that kept people enslaved for most of human history.
The problem, as Crawford saw it, was that Takatori was no more special than the street thugs that fought on the black and white floor below them. It was almost time to upset the old order with chaos. Once that chaos was unleashed, people with extraordinary talents could take rule and shape humanity.
That should be the natural order of things. Crawford had always resented being used by men like Takatori. They were so limited and narrow in the scope of their plans and dreams. He had finally found others like him that shared his dreams of throwing off the oppression of greedy men. Finally, he and the rest of Schwarz wouldn't have to be feared any longer. They wouldn't need to hide what they really were. No more loneliness or rejection.
Crawford's determination hardened to a fine tip like a diamond under heat and pressure. All of Schwarz was like that, hardened through the harsh conditions they had been subjected to. Nagi's face came to Crawford's mind, in particular. How that boy suffered at the hands of ignorant, fearful parents who should have felt blessed to have such a son.
Also Farfarello, who had been lied too and was unstable from his inability to feel. People sometimes made the mistake of plying Farfarello with pity. Mostly, humanity looked on the Irish assassin with disgust instead of appropriate appreciation of his ability to withstand pain.
Schuldig also had his own discomfort; people always held him in suspicion. That's what drove Schuldig to extreme mind games. People thought Schuldig would violate their minds anyway so why not embrace it and enjoy it? And as far as Crawford went, he was tired of people using him for tasks unworthy of his gift.
Schwarz would gain strength when all of humanity was tearing each other apart. Crawford knew it would be a dangerous game. After Takatori was under control there would be Eszett to destroy. Those plans for Eszett would be implemented soon, and that would be something Brad Crawford would truly savor. After all, Eszett and Takatori shared one fatal flaw: greed.
"Crawford, who do you like in the last match?" Takatori asked. Crawford stared at the scoreboard and smiled slyly as the photo negative image flashed before his eyes. He did believe in omens.
"I like black," Crawford said.