Author's Note – A short character study, and nothing more.
Disclaimer – I've been writing fanfiction for how long? Two years? Nope, MBS still doesn't belong to me. Imagine!
Crawlings looked bleakly through the bars of his cell at the white-washed brick wall. Dinner was late, and he was very hungry. The prison was very nearly silent, too – no approaching footsteps, no muted chatter, no quiet weeping from the fellow in the adjacent cell. A drip of water fell from an unseen tap, and the noise was deafening in the quiet. Crawlings heard, and waited.
The wait was far longer than it should have been – fifteen minutes, maybe? It felt like an hour, but by now the brawny prisoner knew better than to trust his senses, especially not on an empty stomach. Finally, though, he heard the brief exchange of voices that marked dinner's arrival, followed by loud footsteps and, at long last, the welcome appearance of Chuck.
Chuck, without looking up, slid a bowl of thin soup into Crawlings' cell.
"Here," Chuck said. And then he moved on.
Crawlings surged forward and began devouring the soup with gusto. It was tastier than usual, flavored with some sort of spice. He liked it. It gave him something to think about.
The Ten Man had already been in prison for a year. Mr. Benedict and the others had seen to it that he and the others wouldn't see the light of day for the next decade, and it terrified Crawlings. It scared him more than he liked to admit. In ten years he would be nearly fifty, with most of his life behind him and not much left in front. In ten years, most of his friends would hardly recognize him, and his enemies would grow even more formidable.
The worst part was that he barely even knew why he was in jail. Yes, yes, the judges could throw all the "assault and battery" and "child abduction" and "illegal weaponry possession" that they wanted at him. He knew that these were crimes, and he knew that they were punishable. But at the time, they were a game. They were fun. It was light-hearted humor to him, almost like playing 'Cops and Robbers' in the playground. Only now the cops were real, and he was the robber.
In the back of his mind, he had always known that what he was doing was wrong, but it had never really sunk in. Taking the duckies for a ride had been just that, not a vicious kidnapping. Trying to whip a defenseless boy with a necktie? Just rough play – never a true threat.
In fact, it never really sank until five hours before his arrest. He had reported to McCracken for orders, and McCracken, wiping blood from the corner of his mouth as he kicked an unconscious Moocho out of his way, had said, "Why don't you be a chap and kill Milligan and his mini. It would save me an awful lot of bother."
"That sound quite lovely," Crawling had responded. "I'll do my best." But then it began to dawn on him: he didn't want to kill anyone. So far, he had gone along with whatever Curtain said because it had been easy fun. But killing? Killing children? That was a line that he had never crossed.
He hadn't crossed it, either. Only two hours after he'd received orders to kill, Crawlings had been patrolling the second floor when he saw Kate Wetherall sprinting across the grounds. She was fast, but a well-placed pencil could easily fell her. But he hadn't thrown anything. If she had truly died, he wasn't sure he could live with it.
And then he had been arrested and Curtain had been killed and all the other Ten Men had been imprisoned as well, and part of Crawling felt that maybe he deserved to be locked up for years. Another part could never understand.
Author's Note – Well. I must say, it feels good to be writing fanfiction again. I've taken an extended break from writing of any sort, and I might have to take another break soon, but I just had to write this.
The inspiration here actually came from a Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode (season six, Dead Things) where the Big Bads don't realize what they're doing is a crime until someone calls them out on it. That stewed around in my head for a bit, and eventually ended up as this. I don't honestly think that this is what it was like for Crawlings, but it's certainly an interesting concept that I wanted to explore.
Reviews are always nice.