Reining him in is like riding chaos.
There is something deadly about this one, the man known as Crawford muses, that even Farfarello in all his insanity did not possess. Schuldich is the dragon, bringing fire and mayhem, and with all his unpredictability came the razor's edge of animal cunning as well as a genuine kind of genius. He had his own kind of madness, as well.
All these things made Schuldich difficult to control, inasmuch anyone could control the deadly telepath. Brad Crawford found he enjoyed the challenge.
"Are you quite finished?" he demanded of his colleague and partner, leaning back in the creaking embrace of lacquered wood and putting a hint of sneer in his voice.
Schuldich's fingers were still tense around the woman's throat, though she had stopped her kicking and thrashing some minutes before and had gone limp face down into the remnants of the telepath's pomme-frites and steak. There was a manic gleam as he looked up, then it vanished in the poison-green of his eyes as he dropped her onto the table and straightened the lines of his casual suit.
Her hand was still wrapped around a ketchup bottle, Crawford noted, standing as well. She had never gotten to use it.
"This kind of excess is hardly going to keep our whereabouts hidden from our enemies," Crawford said sharply.
Schuldich gave an annoyed flick of his shoulders, angry eyes still fixed on the corpse. "It's not as if I made her head explode," he replied in the same tongue, English. "The police here will assume that her pimp or her drug pusher rolled her for the money she'd been holding back."
"Oh, you can see it so clearly, can you?" Crawford prodded. He wasn't precisely angry, for he'd come to expect random acts of violence from Schuldich -- though this was by far the most unprecedented.
"I could see her mind," Schuldich said, raspy and nasal. His intense eyes fixed on Crawford now. "You shouldn't have brought me to France." With a shake of his head he stepped toward the door of the restaurant, skirting the body.
Crawford scowled. They had been the restaurant's only customers on this narrow little by-street, but there was no room for error when one was on the run. "Don't do that again," he warned darkly. No matter what you are to me, I won't hesitate to eliminate you if you become a liability.
He knew Schuldich would be more than capable of plucking that thought from the floating drifts of surface thought. Yet the telepath acknowledged nothing, and did not turn around. He stalked up the dirty cramped alley like an avenging god, wrathful aura drawn around him.
Crawford was annoyed by this and he despised unnecessary waste, though if what Schuldich had said of the waitress was true, it might not have been much of a waste indeed.
"What's wrong with Paris?" Crawford demanded, although he had an inkling in the crazed skeins of time that swirled around him, contorting the next few moments and hours.
Prescience wasn't always like this for Crawford. Generally, he only received this kind of distorted and variable feedback when he was around a particularly disruptive and unpredictable locus. Schuldich was that, for him.
"The city of love?" Schuldich lifted a hand; let it drop as he continued up the alley. "The city of romance? Nothing, of course, everything is the same as it ever was here." He paused, turned his head, and an eye glittered over one shoulder at Crawford.
Crawford growled deep in his throat and caught up with his partner in a couple of swift strides, grabbing one shoulder and spinning him to a confrontation. "It's important." This much he knew.
Schuldich grinned at him, or rather bared his teeth. "Are you going to hit me?" he inquired, and his poison-green eyes were inviting, his words a challenge flung into Crawford's face. He was flush with action.
With a frown, Crawford levered him against the wall by handfuls of fine suit fabric. *I know what you really want...this close after the kill, this close to me...*
The other man closed his eyes and stretched like a cat, rubbing his face against Crawford's jawline. His body was humming with tension drawn along the lines of his body and centering in his groin and this he rubbed against Crawford as well. His hands sought Crawford's spine under expensive Armani and splayed over planes of broad back.
He was aggravated every bit as much as he was enflamed. That summed Schuldich neatly for him. Crawford was unobliging because of this and skirted his partner's mouth, biting at his jaw instead, releasing his suit and passing down his body.
Schuldich groaned, pushing up into Crawford's seeking hands, fingers gouging into his buttocks. *Let's go, then.* His voice was a steel bolt in Crawford's mind.
At last Crawford assented to the kiss and covered his mouth with force, pushing him against the brick of the alley. He unzipped Schuldich's pants hastily and swore as he nearly snagged the pin in delicate silk. The excitement was transmitting to him, or perhaps it was his own now. He wanted to climb down Schuldich from the mouth down and eat him alive.
"Oh, yes, eat me," Schuldich whispered, German now, ragged with lust. "By all means."
"I'm not that obliging," Crawford murmured back, taking hold of Schuldich's cock through his underwear and stroking him out upright. "And we're out in the open and if you want to be fucked against a brick wall, you don't get leisure time."
"Mmm," Schuldich responded, writhing against him.
Truth be told, Crawford was impatient more than leery of being caught in flagrante delicto. He gave Schuldich a few more rough strokes, palm and fingers, then probed beyond his balls. "Turn around," he demanded.
Schuldich's eyes flashed up at him, meek as a jade dragon, then he was twisting in Crawford's grip. He set himself against the wall, red hair spilling over his shoulder, arching his back to give best advantage to his rear.
Crawford slid his hand into Schuldich's flimsy jacket pocket and found what he expected; he withdrew it with a sense of anticipation. *You want to play games? You'll see who gets screwed.*
Preparation took a matter of moments; all Schuldich wanted was fast and brutal and that was all Crawford was ready to spare. He dropped the oil back where he'd found it and fitted himself securely to Schuldich's backside, aiming between the buttocks.
"Ahhh," Schuldich sighed as Crawford slid home with a ruthless thrust.
They stayed motionless for a long moment, both quivering with effort, then Crawford strained closer and mouthed his neck, ghosting over the bruises of love-bites past. With a lunge of his hips he set them in motion and Schuldich groaned, humping back, hands scrabbling against brick, asking for more with each upward buck but helpless in Crawford's thrall.
"You may hate Paris," Crawford grated, thrusting up and up, "but you'll take this just fine."
Braced against the brick, one green eye sought him out from beneath the fringe of redsilk hair. "You improve her dirty streets for me," he muttered, then shuddered and pushed back to meet him again.
Crawford didn't want him to talk, only to receive, more and more until the taut thread snapped, coiling its warmth around the both of them. He reached around Schuldich's tense stomach and found him hard and full, jutting forward and bobbing with each demanding thrust. With each one Crawford felt he penetrated deeper, if not in body then in mind. It was an illusion; their deepest thoughts were and always had been veiled to one another.
"Unnnh..." Schuldich keened, seesawing between the rhythm of his hips and the steady pull of his hand. "More, come on, damn you, come on, fuck me..." And more in German, hasty and harsh.
It loosed him of constraint. The first onslaught of slow glide and back and forth had been for his benefit as much as Schuldich's, but now so deeply buried, feeling the sweet slide of his cock pushed flush into Schuldich's tight rear the niceties were dispensed with and the fucking could commence.
So he pushed him against the brick with a hand against his neck and his body pinning the rest of him, ruining two pairs of expensive slacks as he pounded him with jackhammer urgency. Schuldich cried out, as receptive to this as everything that had gone before. The violence only excited him and charged the air between them. Crawford felt his expression twist into cruel lines as he overtook him, as Schuldich panted, as the flesh in his hand jerked and the body beneath him reared back, sweet heat clamping around him in the most superlative of vises.
They were out in the open. Crawford could feel the gritty brick beneath his palms as he leaned over Schuldich and made his last, almost languorous thrusts, claiming him with the last seal between them.
"So hot," Schuldich mumbled as Crawford withdrew from his sticky embrace. "So impulsive, Crawford. I didn't know you had it in you."
"Paris," Crawford said shortly, drawing back, adjusting his crooked glasses before he even took care of disheveled clothing. "Pull your pants up."
"When I'm good and ready," Schuldich tossed back at him, but he was already groping for his trousers. They had slid to rest around his ankles while they were engaged. He rummaged in his jacket for a smoke.
Crawford had palmed his lighter.
When Schuldich's search intensified, an irritated scowl drawing down his face, he jammed an unlit cigarette the corner of his mouth, one of his dark sweet clove cigarettes. Crawford leaned forward and flipped the lighter open for him.
"Thank you," Schuldich said, with a hint of something neither thankful nor amiable in the quirk of his generous mouth.
"Any time," Crawford replied, to his intent rather than the actual words. He leaned a little further and dipped his hand into Schuldich's pocket, replacing the lighter.
The telepath leaned back and blew smoke in his eyes.
Crawford retreated, frowning. "Don't think you can change the subject," he said, returning with dogged pursuit to the one point around which the next few hours were hinged. "What did you see in that girl's mind?" *What made you want to kill her?*
Schuldich regarded him thoughtfully for a long moment, as if he were considering withholding. He sucked in a long drag and let the exhaled smoke dribble from his mouth, wisping into the air.
"Absinthe," Schuldich replied, eyes unfathomable. Then he turned on his heel and walked away.
Crawford drew a breath. "Ahh..." It only made sense. The seer's drug. If Schuldich had spent any large amounts of time in Paris, it would have pushed his already keen gift to new heights of observation, of gross intimacy. He wondered if Schuldich, too, had been drawn to the dealer, again and again, desperate for a drug that violated him so.
He quickened his step, for he would have to catch up to Schuldich again. As that last piece fell into place, he knew that his partner was going to kill again.
This time, he might do more than watch.