:: Sabina's Summer Mix track 1. Buy this album on sight - the rest of her songs are mixed with a touch of techno-ambient, not to mention in Portuguese, but melting and *oh* so summer-lovely. Official website here: bebelgilberto.com
:: CPOP version of perky Hinkel & Freudenthaler original (the folks responsible for "Lemon Tree")
:: Sabina's Summer Mix track 2. I like Gigi Leung's voice; it has a Lisa Loeb girlish clarity to it... The lyrics are a sadly accurate descriptor of my last relationship, which died due to my own self-indulgence and apathy. XD
Saturday, June 30, 2001 08:53 p.m.
I'm off to Quebec City until the fourth, for the imouto-chan's Canadian Music Competition final. Missing all the Jazzfest outside shows, bleh... both Bebel Gilberto and Diana Krall were in town. ;_; I really should clean out my inbox beforehand, especially the shioulmail I've been neglecting, but I don't know if I'll have the time tonight. I really want to get some ficcing done.
Lucked out at the Sphinx yesternight. Free-drinks-before-twelve is one of the more pleasing aspects of the feminine condition. The crowd composition is shifting again, but I'm beyond wondering at this point - Tan-chan's and my dogma being that young women dressed in black with high hemlines and higher heels get in anywhere. ^_^; At least it's a good place to go and *dance*, not a meat market like the Crescent clubs or pretentiously expensive like the St. Laurent ones. Although we'll have to do a hop through the latter one of these days... in order to pull pretentiously expensive older men. XD
Funny thing about the Sphinx: Schu always wakes up in there, because of the music. (Well. And the decor. It's not a... disco atmosphere.) I'm no good at anything but the most radio-friendly bands, so I'm lucky if I can identify one song out of fifteen - but when I do it's always something like Depeche Mode or the Cure, and the rest is in the same vein. The DJs only seem to leave the 80s behind in order to play German techno. Actually I met this (cute tall skinhead) dude named Louis who told me the names of his requests, (and bought me a vodka-and-lime and was too much of a sweetie to really try to cop a feel), so I'm trying to download some of the ones Schu liked for the Soundtrack. :p And if the fellow manages to email me, I might find out what these mythical *other* New-Wave places in Montreal are about. (I only give out my email nowadays, because 1- my phone line's invariably tied up 2- my parents are nosy and 3- a guy who can't or won't email me is obviously incompatible with my sensibilities anyway. XP)
Onto... um... other stuff. Mari - I'm not sure which post you're referring to, but IMO both superficial praise and useless nitpicking are preferable to the limitless silence of outer space, which is the norm for most writers most of the time. ^^; I do tend to get articulate, well-thought-out messages, which gives me incentive to respond to them. When they're left in my guestbook - which is a public forum - I respond in my weblog, which is also a public forum, although I don't know if that's good protocol. It's just a rule I made up for myself, along with all my other blogging rules. I haven't had complaints that I've been out of line, though.
And hey, you called me on Patricia McKillip. :P Name That Influence - should carry a prize or something.
Lastly, an update on the Watermelon Soup situation: obviously schlepping Schu around in my head since December has taught my brain waves to carry, because my mother went ahead and made the stuff today even though I never mentioned it to her. ^^v Canadian watermelons don't have nearly enough white part to them, though.
Thursday, June 28, 2001 12:03 a.m.
...if I ever read an entire Neil Gaiman novel before bed again. >.< I dreamt, and this is in no particular order, of being in Tokyo on July 28-29 when the comiket I wanted to attend was July 30-31; of a dwarfish college professor who used spinning bicycle gears to decapitate people; and of Kudou Youji [Weiss Kreuz] and Miyagi Ryota [Slam Dunk] dressed like ghetto rappers and exchanging top-secret files in an NYC alley. (It was a look, I must say, that worked better for Ryo-chan than for Yotan.) None of this had anything to do with the book factually, but I recognize an atmosphere when I see it.
"American Gods", it transpires, is Gaiman's "Lolita" - and if you think I meant that luridly, you need to read "Lolita". :P That is, it's a love poem from a European writer to his adopted land, enumerating everything about America that's tacky and energetic and abrasive and intimate-or-grand-scale beautiful. It's a road trip epic (motels, roadside attractions, small town diners, an endless succession of American-cars-with-character or - as Shadow puts it - piecesashit), in accordance with the school of thought that holds the road trip is the only true American epic there is. And in the end, it's an elegaic commentary on old worlds being outstripped by new. Nabokov presents his themes within the topos of a taboo love story; Gaiman uses his favored mode of urban fantasy. But in the end, they're very much the same type of book.
(The basic concept is one that Terry Pratchett had explored in *his* favored mode of wacked-out high fantasy, but I've had too much personal experience of writerly synchronicity to say that there was active borrowing. Gaiman's always been fascinated with the timelessness of old myths manifested as adaptation to a modern context - to wit, Sandman. "American Gods" is much more in the mode of his comics than any of his other novels, down to the what-are-for-all-intents-and-purposes short stories interspersed with the chapters comprising the main storyline.)
On a personal note, I identify greatly with road-trip epics, because I've been there. :) Criss-crossed the United States twice before the age of eight, riding shotgun in my parents' '85 Oldsmobile hatchback, may its soul rest in the Big Garage Up There - and if I ever find myself in a position of parental authority over a child, god forbid, that is how we'll be spending summer vacations. It's the sort of seminal experience that stands out like a flashing signpost in childhood memories, not to mention that it crops up continually in one's writing (the sole American in WK is currently being victimized XD). I think I've actually been to the spot where Gaiman sets his final confrontation. I, er, bought rocks there.
(I'd write more, but I'm being summoned to bed. XD (I've got to wean my friends off Dysfunctional Series before I start *answering* to 'Crawford'.) We just watched a brace of Hana Yori Dango tapes - man, I need to hang out with a gang of cute island-owning botchamas too. Or maybe I just need a vacation.)
Wednesday, June 27, 2001 12:30 p.m.
Lu-chan: Edward? Edward?! O_o We have to get you off that diet of psychopaths, it must be stunting your growth. Go read some Frances Hodgson Burnett or something.
(Ima ya no gaki-tachi...)
Tuesday, June 26, 2001 01:13 a.m.
Has anyone ever had this? It's kind of like wintermelon soup - a regular clear pork/shrimp/whatever broth with chunks of translucent white melon floating in it, like pumpkin but with a more delicate melty flavour. Except instead of using wintermelon, you take watermelon rinds after you've eaten all the way down to the pink part, and you cut off the green skin and chop the white part into chunks, and use that. (You have to simmer it until the light shines through, or it's not good to eat.) My Szechuanese grandmother makes it, although it's not a Szechuanese dish - I think she made it up. ^^; But it seems like such a good idea that I thought maybe other southern cultures have come up with it, or something.
(Why am I blogging so much these few days? I don't know. Maybe I just like looking at my new layout. :P)
It's been perfectly tropical all day, and the mercury's only likely to rise tomorrow. I thrive on this weather like an orchid, but it makes me nostalgic for a bowl of my gran's soup. ^_^ Ah well - think I'll go take a shower and expropriate my sister's sparkly grapefruit talcum powder.
Has anyone else had Neil Gaiman's new website crash their browser? >_<
Monday, June 25, 2001 07:01 p.m.
Um... slash recs? ^^;
This started out as a belated attempt to respond to D, who mentioned Good Omens slash. I *was* going to say that the only Good Omens slash story I knew of was torch's 8k vignette And When He Falls, which captures the novel's voice to letter perfection (oh, and it queers the canon, but with certain fanfics that's a secondary consideration). Then I did a search and found that - whaddya know - people do actually write Neil Gaiman slash. In spades. That is, not like say Highlander slash which they write in backhoe-fulls, but all the same I wasn't expecting to find even a *weblog* mention of Dream/Desire. (You can come out from under the table now, it's okay.) Said mention was Twilight, actually, to whom I used to send stupid fanmail in my newbie days before I grokked internet etiquette. She was goth, younger than me and ahead of her time: a weblog personality before there were weblogs. I'm sorta glad I found her again.
In general, though, writing fanfiction for a good book is a different can of worms from writing fanfiction for a good TV series. You have the authorial voice to contend with, to such an extent sometimes that you have to go the pastiche route or none at all. Take, say, Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams... or P.G. Wodehouse. There was a discussion on AMLA geological eons ago, on the viability of literary slash couples, that led to the posting of a Wodehouse slash link. I'd advise you not to read it if you've never experienced Wodehouse - the impact would be lost - but all the aficionados of Jeeves and poor Bertie I've shown this to have been delighted, slash or no slash. It's just as funny as the originals, you see.
(britslash.co.uk is an interesting site to browse through in general. You'd likely traumatize yourselves several times over, but at least the merrie subjects of Bess Two display no lack of imagination, not to mention respect for their own institutions. ^^;)
The AMLA thread kept cropping up in ensuing months relative to all sorts of very wrong books, such as "The Wind In The Willows" (the funny thing is that *everyone* always has the same reaction - "Mole and Ratty, right?"), the "Chronicles of Narnia" or "Pride and Prejudice" (most people grok this after two minutes' consideration, then try to beat me up for putting the idea in their heads). And now I find during the same search that someone really *has* written Narnia slash. No link, though. If any of you actually go and look this up yourselves, then your curiosity is deserving. ^^;
Monday, June 25, 2001 04:06 a.m.
Song IV: Sudden Light
Going through my old notebooks. I used to keep a good notebook, with copies of poetry and quotes and graffiti and first drafts of all sorts of things. This by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, from "The House of Life":
I have been here before,
But when or how I cannot tell:
I know the grass beyond the door,
The sweet keen smell,
The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.
You have been mine before,--
How long ago I may not know:
But just when at that swallow's soar
Your neck turned so,
Some veil did fall, -- I knew it all of yore.
Has this been thus before?
And shall not thus time's eddying flight
Still with our lives our love restore
In death's despite,
And day and night yield one delight once more?
(Like one of Tenshi's reincarnation fics. ^^;) Christina's brother, ol'Dante Gabriel, and it shows. I love him most dearly, even if his perspective was iffy and he always painted barrels over parts of the picture he couldn't get to fit together. ^_^; I am in a Victorian mood, because of the A.S. Byatt. She pastiches the poetry and allegories and correspondence of the period to letter-perfection... Three more chapters tonight to soothe me, along with a glass of sherry, because it's a sherry sort of book. Except the sherry isn't agreeing with me. Had to drink the cheap stuff, because I haven't the nerve to open a new bottle of Bristol cream. Beurk.
(Erin, if you are reading this - I can't meet you tomorrow. Or, as it were, today. I'll try to wake up early enough to call you, but if I do not, call *me*. They will tell you I am asleep, but do not let that dissuade you. We have to discuss this SC bus thing.)
Christabel LaMotte, one of the mock-historical research subjects of Byatt's protagonists, had this to say about diaries, journals - and by implication weblogs: "If you can order your Thoughts and shape them into Art, good: if you can live in the obligations and affections of Daily Life, good. But do not get into the habit of morbid Self-examination. Nothing so unfits a woman for producing good work, or for living usefully. The Lord will take care of the second of these - opportunities will be found. The first is a matter of Will."
Art, a matter of Will. I like it. I believe it. ^_^ So I shall look to the Lord for opportunities of gainful employment, and exercise my Will in the meantime. No morbid Self-examination, no sir indeed. This means fanfic.
Gawd, I must be drunk. What awful sherry.
Monday, June 25, 2001 02:03 a.m.
Self-discipline? Moi? Surely you jest.
I had the third and supposedly final version of my story synopsis due today. I was, in fact, supposed to deliver it yesterday, but I mailed the list with a notice of delay. I didn't feel like working on the game. In fact, I felt so un-like working on the game it was very close to full-blown writer's block. Hated everything to do with it. This is the phase in which - had the project been one of my fanfics - I would have posted the preliminary version to the relevant mailing list, dropped it like a hot potato for two months and gone back for a final round of editing after I could bear the thought of looking at it again.
Not that I could do that, with the game.
So I gritted my teeth and repeated my newest mantra, which I got out of an interview at the back of one of the Five Star Story books. It is this: "the mark of a professional is not quality, but speed and the ability to keep to schedule." They meant mangaka, of course, but the blurb applies as well to my current position.
I am trying to be professional about this.
So I did my rewrite, and sent it out by one-thirty. And *now*, instead of my usual contentment after completing a project or a stage of a project, I'm sitting here feeling like a massive bundle of pure twitchy wrongness. I don't want a drink. I don't want to read fanfic. I don't want to play video games. I'm not sure what I'm going to have to do to soothe myself. Murder a few small rodents, maybe.
...I didn't mean that. I think.
Sunday, June 24, 2001 02:25 a.m.
Back to the millstone
More game mods, and yet another Chinese exam coming up. ^^; This is the last, thank goodness, and then I get to go adventuring in the jungly world of Perl hackdom for a while. (Erin insists it makes total sense, but from what I see of it it seems suspiciously un-kosher as a language.) I linked my translation of "Water Drop", and my partial favorite-books list. Go have a look, see if there's anything you recognize from your own - gives you a conversation starter if you ever meet me. :p I'll be down in NJ for Shoujocon in case anyone's interested, although I will not be driving. It transpires that one has to be 21 to rent a car in Montreal, and I fall short of the bar. The old faithful Greyhound it is, sigh... I foresee a certain number of taxis, but at least this means I can get some sleep in during travel time.
(And as for you, D - super, I'll be
seein' you. Along with the AS and my yaoi tapes. ^.~ *chu*)
Saturday, June 23, 2001 04:58 a.m.
And, as all things have a beginning
...Here is the beginning of "The Berchtesgaden Debriefing". Finally. ^^; (Why did I name my fic after a city even *I* can't spell?) There may be flow problems, since I spent today basically linking a lot of scattered paragraphs together, but in general this is a pretty settled draft. It's mostly Crawford doing Eurotrash James Bond vs. ELF-Aquitaine type stuff.
(Youji: Why can't I have a watch like that?
Sabina: Meep! O_o What are you doing in here?
Youji: Darling! You break my heart. You hired me in pre-production for the film, remember?
Youji: Besides, you adore me. *nikkori*
Shioul reg'r blogs I just discovered - Sarah and Charmian. ^_^ Also, a belated note for Mari: you have *got* to be my biggest fan. ^^; I'm going digging in my old notebooks for the beginning of the next part of "Troisième Ange"; I'll keep you posted on my progress.
“For the record, state your name. Please speak clearly.”
“Bradley Emmet Crawford.”
“Affiliation within the Organization?”
“Schwartz-neunzehn offensive unit, coordinating officer.”
“Describe your psi-classification under the Lowell-Sondeheim system.”
“The Institut identifies me as a tactical precognitive. My post-course psi-rating was level alpha prime.”
“Thank you; please be seated. Would you prefer that we conduct this session in English, herr Crawford?”
“It is very kind of you. But I am quite at ease in German.”
“Very well. Now. You have provided the Organization with memorandi detailing your discovery; I have them before me. Your technical observations are rigorous and to be commended. Our purpose today is to complete them with a transcript of the – accompanying chronology, as it were – in order that we may collate the statements of the subject with our knowledge of his past experience. In view of such I must ask you to be as complete as possible, and to respond to questions to the best of your ability.”
“Please proceed then. From the beginning.”
“My first contact with the subject occurred in October of 1988. My cover at the time was as junior attaché to former Deputy Ambassador Joseph Sutton. As such I had been assigned by the Organization to the investigation of a series of irregular monetary transactions. The corporations involved were – I believe still are – of strategic national importance, but I was given to understand that laundering was suspected beyond the endemic political bribery. I traced the middleman to the social circle of one Mara Eikener, an expensive call-girl and adventuress. I was able to arrange for Deputy Ambassador Sutton to be invited to one of her soirées; of course I attended as well.”
“This was in Munich.”
“Four years ago. You had only recently joined the Organization, had you not?”
In October of 1988, he was a slender, earnest-looking young man in glasses a bit wide for his face. His papers gave him out to be a few years older than he actually was, but not so much that he didn’t look it. Nepotism being received in diplomatic circles as a matter of course, his credentials did not arouse much curiosity. He was capable in a sober, Ivy-League way, not so keen that he trod on any toes. In a common room he would stand somewhere out of the way, unnoticed, watchful. His eyes were an arresting gold behind the lenses, and sometimes they would go too far away to follow.
He stood by the bay window of Mara Eikener’s salon with a campari in his hand, unnoticed, watchful.
“We have an agreement." Muffled footsteps on carpet, the sound of liquid gurgling from a crystal bottleneck. The voice was that of a senior board member of a recently-privatized energy corporation. “One that will not hold if the present import-control policy continues. You must understand that this has become a matter for concern to the entire governing body.”
“The changes have been drafted - ratification is merely a formality." Crawford adjusted the tiny receptor in his ear, a gesture much like brushing hair from his face. It was another speaker now, one that he could not identify, but the accent was pure Bavaria. "Oppenheim will lean on the caucus a little, and it will go through.”
“However, the Italian angle...”
“Not problematical. Allow me to reassure you on that front.”
Crawford smiled to himself faintly. "The Italian angle," he repeated under his breath. A flash of vision; he had forty-five seconds before the end of the impromptu conference. He drained his glass and slipped into the throng, making for the other side of the room.
The movement passed unremarked - most of the party's attention was for the owner of the house. She was beautiful, this Mara Eikener: perfect long-limbed blondness in a gossamer-rose evening gown. She moved from guest to guest, letting witty words and playful glances drop in her path like pearls from a broken choker, making sure glasses stayed three-quarters filled. Quite the perfect hostess. Most of the men were prominent in the business world, some were writers or musicians to complete the party, and nearly all were in love with her to some extent. Wistfully, flirtatiously, adoringly, hopelessly... By two in the morning they would be gently encouraged to take their leave, and the luckiest from among them would be allowed to pay for her undivided attention. Crawford had yet to see who she would choose that night.
It was all very charming, in an old-fashioned sort of way. Crawford thought of the Japanese and their geisha dolls. At least Sutton seemed to be enjoying himself: Crawford could hear him holding forth on his choyé Mahler from beside the mantelpiece, cigar no doubt in hand. Such a discussion could last the ambassador hours.
He passed the two men at the door to the salon.
The energy corporation board member gave him an absent smile of greeting, acknowledging recognition. "Herr Crawford." Crawford inclined his head in return. As the second man brushed past him he shifted the watch on his left wrist, apparently as an adjustment. (One of the pins that held the strap was pressure-sensitive; a quick shutter gave him two three-quarter views and a profile for the SS database to collate.) Then he was in the dimness of the corridor, and away from the crowd.
The dining room lay around the corner; across the corridor from the stairs was a small study, furnished in Art Deco style. Crawford had been in this room not forty minutes ago, when his talent had informed him of the interest of the scene about to occur. He stepped around a wooden Japanese folding screen, felt along the bottom edge of the desk that adjoined it – and his fingertips encountered the minitape deck and microphone he had previously taped there, still recording soundlessly.
He smiled again as he detached the deck from the gilded wood. The tape it contained would be enough for a criminal conviction. Of course, there would be no trials, unless one of the officials involved proved obdurate. Then the evidence in his hand might very well find its way into police custody. But SS’s interest lay in subtle leverage and arcane influence, in power too diffuse to pinpoint and too pervasive to escape. The moves it made were riddles; the deaths it caused, enigma. Crawford carried a gun under SS’s aegis even then, and did not question its use. No, there would be no trials.
There might be assassinations, however.
He slipped from behind the screen, settling his evening-dress jacket on his shoulders, and stepped out of the study.
That was when-
A rustling of papers. “You mean that you shield yourself as a matter of course?”
“To a basic extent, yes. It serves to reinforce my training. The exercise of my talent is dependent upon rigorous control if it is to be of appreciable use.”
“I see. But this still must have been unexpected.”
Saturday, June 23, 2001 12:04 a.m.
Petronia ni youkoso! ^_^
Finally, a real layout! All my archive pages and frequently-visited blogs are now up where I can get at them easily, and *you* no longer need to search for the sign-guestbook link. ^_^ *hint* If you've only been to NnY, the CCS layout will prolly strike you as uncharacteristically cute, but it's in the vein of my EDP-site layouts. I've expanded my profile (some of the info isn't linked up yet) and added a mini-MP3 section, for those times when I feel a need to share my fanfiction soundtracks. And that's all.
It feels a lot more homey now. This is the closest thing to a *real* personal page I've got.
Friday, June 22, 2001 12:17 a.m.
"Cherche ma constellation au téléscope"
Remi sent me, a while back, a photocopied Russian novel in traducio, telling me I'd like it; I promptly lost it in my room and have only now gotten around to the reading thereof. It's about 220 pages long and took me three hours. I'm in a state of nervous exhaustion. ^^; I want nothing more than a drink, when you get down to it, but certain books produce a calm-in-the-center-of-the-storm feel in me that manifests itself as inertia. I'm not about to physically make my way to the liquor cabinet, let alone upstairs to find out how *exactly* one spells the authors' name, so you have Google to thank that you now know the tome in question is called "Hard To Be A God" by Arkady and Boris Strugatski. Yay technology. In fact... god*damn*... you have Google to thank that you are now going to read this book. ^_^ It's science-fiction, written in 1964 - which, for the daughter and granddaughter of Chinese intellectuals who spent the '70s on the mainland, gives it a recurrent feel of the prophetic. There are many passages of great beauty... that derive their power from the horrors described therein, and I think that accounts for much of my emotional prostration. The rest is due to the fact that it actually takes one of *my* favorite intellectual games as major theme (have you ever wondered how you'd handle being plunked down in a seat at the gladiatorial games in Ancient Rome?), and deals with it in a devastatingly sober manner. Suffice it to say that the title is well-chosen.
And, of course, it's all for humanism, and who can resist that? Not a fashionable theme for novels, not anymore, not even in fantasy. (Or perhaps you'll just tell me I'm reading the wrong sort of fantasy again?) Only *Terry Pratchett*, oddly enough, gives me something of the same vibe. Of course Pratchett deals in metaphors and happy ends, but there's a personal philosophy lurking in the background of his books, and it is not dissimilar to that of the Strugatskis' futuristic-Soviet-historian-cum-mediaeval-aristocratic-lout. (Read the book, you'll get it.)
On a different front, I'm going to stretch one of my own rules and respond to other folks' blogging. D wrote a villanelle: since a good friend of mine in pre-med tells me "the human mind is such that three instances will serve in lieu of a rule," I will infer that villanelles are a product if not pre-rec of a certain "kekkai.org" mentality. Of course, to say that llamajoy and D and I (and nearly everyone else on kekkai) have written Final Fantasy smut fanfiction would probably be more *indicative*, but hey - that's why there's that old line about statistics and the devil.
(Final Fantasy smut fanfiction. I've just damned myself in Google's eyes, haven't I?)
Also a word to Tenshi (I have not livejournal): my sister and I fantasize about the free skate version of Eyes On Me. There, it's said. You see there is worse still. ^^; I'm a bigger fan of Squall and Rinoa apart than together, but it has to do with what the two of them were wearing on prom night. They *are* figure-skating costumes. You wouldn't even have to modify the cut.
(And warm fuzzy-sparkly vibes of positivity on the job-search, although I should change that to 'empathy'. No one wants me to work for them either, or at any rate to pay me for it. Unpaid work I have in reams. ^^;)
And as for the fic snippet of the last post, BTW... I think it's too cute to actually make it into the finished storyline comme tel, intact. It's like I'm not writing Weiss characters, I'm writing Tan-chan's ideal boyfriend and *my* ideal boy-toy. Mind you, that's what I said about the Nagi bit in VoT too, so I should probably just keep mum.
Thursday, June 21, 2001 03:08 a.m.
tBD ficbit (part 2)
Tan-chan gave me a new notebook today; I started writing this on the second page thereof in the métro, came home after dining out on Chinatown calamari, picked up where I'd stopped and actually managed to complete the scene to my satisfaction. So I'm posting it. It's a scene from a bit further on, in part 2 which won't be completed for ages, but you could probably read it as a stand-alone vignette and understand. Less unusual mental cruelty than any of the "Demi" snippets would've been, anyway. :P
I'll be uploading a new (a *real*) weblog layout before this weekend.
For a moment as he woke, he thought it was still raining.
Crawford lay quietly, listening to the hiss of the shower running in the bathroom, his senses returning to him one by one. Not rain, true, but something about the quality of the light filtering through the drawn curtains spoke of early morning fog. Inestimable, this country... he had flung out an arm under the coverlet prior to waking, and the rumpled linen beside him was still pleasantly warm. Schuldich's recent presence hung in the air, boy-scent with that odd, bittersweet undertone of cinnamon. Crawford closed his eyes again, and not-sight welled up with groundspring ease. The next ten minutes might as well have been recent memory. He moved his lips soundlessly, trying out this phrase or another as response, drifting from future to future.
He found that he didn't want to get up.
The shower shut off with a gurgle-clank of serviceable old piping. Crawford sighed, sat up to retrieve his glasses and reached for the black telephone on the same bedside stand. He dialed for an outside line, and then a number from memory; after a brief exchange he wrote down three other numbers on the back of a hotel-issue envelope. Then he hung up and waited.
The bathroom door opened a few moments later, and Schuldich slipped out in a cloud of steam. He was dressed already, in the same black shirt and jeans – Crawford made a mental note that the boy needed supplementary clothing. He blinked to see Crawford awake, though his expression did not otherwise change.
"Early for you," Crawford said.
"I'm going out." Schuldich, indeed, held himself with a peculiar tension, as if impatient to take flight.
"I have to handle a few transactions in person at the office."
"House rules. You don't leave the suite unless I am physically accompanying you, or I say it's a mission and give specific instructions. In my absence, you stay in." He watched the shuttered green of Schuldich's eyes come into rage-filled focus.
"Don't fucking tell me what to do," Schuldich hissed. Crawford's eyes narrowed, but he didn't move from the bed. That way lay... he wanted to get the contest of wills over with.
"I'm not telling you what to do," he said softly. "I'm setting down the rules. So you know where you stand. If you break the rules, there will be consequences."
Schuldich's lip curled, and he took a step forward. Crawford was ready for the challenge this time, although it was not so much the same upfront attack as a steady menacing pressure. He kept the surface of his mind as unyielding and cold as black ice, let it seep into his eyes. An oddly lost expression flickered over Schuldich's face before it became angry defiance, and he glanced away.
"I have to go out," he said finally. The unnamed tension in his body had ratcheted tighter still. Even the set of his shoulders was like an over-wound spring. Crawford saw him clench his left hand rapidly, several times in succession, before he forced himself to relax; it reminded him of the previous night.
"You could call room service," he said.
Schuldich gave a sharp laugh, glancing up in contemptuous surprise – and paused. Crawford was holding out the envelope, blue ballpoint digits facing up and clear.
"Take it," he said, and Schuldich moved automatically. Then, "the first number is the one you use; the second one is a backup measure. They change lines every few weeks, keep yourself updated. The last number is the account you charge it to. The pin is the birthdate on your passport. They know the suite number already. Don't overestimate, the quality's higher than street – and make sure to get it out of sight before I get back." He paused. Schuldich was still staring down at the envelope in his hand. "Do you understand?"
"I thought you said this wasn't your forte," Schuldich said softly.
"I—" And then the boy was on him, straddling his lap for leverage and bright hair veiling his range of vision. He tasted wholesome for once, like mint tooth powder.
"Transactions," Schuldich whispered. "Can they wait?"
He was very warm. Crawford shivered a little and reached up to hook his hands in the top of Schuldich's jeans. He didn't think the fog had let up.
"Perhaps," he said.
(Guestbook for comments or if you find you need an explanation - but like I said, it's almost stand-alone. ^^)