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14 March 2010 @ 08:09 pm
Full Five Fathoms Deep  
Title: Full Five Fathoms Deep
Recipient: clueless_psycho
Author: seraphim_grace
Rating: R
Summary: Aya, Crawford.
Warnings: Post-Gluhen, character death. Adult scenes and adult situations.
Notes: The novel Crawford reads and rereads is “The End of the Affair” by Graham Greene.

Aya saw the kid approach, these streets weren’t safe and there were kids like this all over. He knew what would happen, this happened after all, the kid would brush past him, possibly bump him, and his hand would sneak into Aya’s coat and liberate his wallet.

Aya had two, a mark for the pick pockets and the one where he actually kept his money, so when the kid reached for the obvious bulge he’d grab his hand, look him in the eye, a look that would suggest that he wasn’t to be messed with, and let him go. He had no interest in the petty crimes of this wicked city, or the children that perpetrated them.

The kid bumped him, looked him in the eye and quick as a fly stabbed him in the gut. He didn’t say anything, just dropped the knife and vanished back into the crowd. As he pressed his hand to the wound and stumbled on it occurred to Aya that the kid had a future in assassination - if he lived that long.

He wasn’t sure how far he had stepped, he needed to get into a safe building, his apartment was nearly ten blocks from here, he needed to inspect, disinfect and wrap the wound, it would probably need stitches. It hurt to breathe but he couldn’t taste blood which suggested it had nicked his diaphragm but not his lungs or stomach, clumsy, but the kid was green and it was a rookie mistake. If he got the bowel death would happen nastily from sepsis. If he got the lungs they’d fill with blood and drown the victim. There was a lot of blood which suggested he’d caught a vein, he could tell because it oozed and didn’t pulse. He focussed on the litany of injuries as he stumbled.

The post box offered a welcome moment of support and he collapsed against it. Perhaps one of the passersby would notice, he thought, and call an ambulance, because he was losing a lot of blood.

He loved the irony of it, that the feared and deadly Abyssinian was taken out by a kid on the street.

“Here,” a voice said and ripped open the sterile packet on a bandage. Aya looked at him, Crawford had changed since Koua, wearing a black polo neck and tailored trousers under a winter coat, with a noir style hat and some neatly framed glasses. His hair was cut neatly but still bone white.

Aya took the bandage, “why?” he asked though it was hard to talk.

“Because I can.” Crawford said, but he made no other move to help Aya just yet. “I’m going to offer you a choice,” he said, and pinched the bridge of his nose as if his glasses weighed too heavy upon it, “if you stay here you won’t die, you might pass out, nothing more. You’ll be taken in by a group of street kids and out of that wonderful sense of honour of yours you’ll get involved in their turf war. It will bring you to the attention of Kryptonbrand who work out of London and will recruit you to their team. You will become their servant just as you were Kritiker’s, and you will die an assassin. Or you can come with me.” His hand, when he offered it, was in a pristine black leather glove.

Aya knew that there would be no more questions, Crawford had done what Crawford did, he gave the answers that suited Crawford. Aya took his hand. Crawford nodded, his expression tight, and then bent down to wrap his arm around Aya’s back, “they’ll think you’re drunk,” he said, “I’m going to take you to a doctor.”

***

It was an underground clinic Crawford took him to and they were expecting him. He had no sooner got through the doors when he was on a gurney and wheeled into a back room as another of the doctors, wearing scrubs and a white coat, spoke to Crawford and pressed something into his hand, rather than the other way around.

As the doors closed Aya began to suspect that Crawford’s agenda might not be as simple as he had thought, and even then he knew it had been labyrinthine and complex. Crawford had his own reasons, and that was reason enough.


When Aya woke up from the surgery Crawford was sat in a busted chair reading an old hardback novel, his long wool coat was draped over the back of another chair. He looked up from the pages with his cockroach brown eyes, “the tragedy is striking, Crawford said, “that you of all people might let a kid with a knife that close to him.

“Thought he was a pick pocket, Aya answered, “was going to sprain his wrist and let him go. What are you reading?

“The End of the Affair.” He said stiffly, “I always meant to get around to reading it. It was my favourite book after all. There was a joke in that, “that’s the problem with seeing the future, you already love books you don’t need to read because you remember reading them though it hasn’t happened yet.

“Why did you do this?

Crawford’s smile was like a slash in his face, “Because I can, and that was answer enough. “We’re going to Nebraska, I have property there, He lowered his eyes back to his book. “Do you know, I thought I knew this book and yet I am thoroughly enjoying it. I recognise it, I know it almost line for line, but yet....

“A favourite book is a wonder, Aya agreed leaning back into the pillow, “perhaps the tragedy, he used Crawford’s word, “is that you’re only learning that at your age.

Crawford looked up again, his glasses slipping down his nose and he looked at Aya over them, “I don’t know about you but I’ve always been too busy,

“So why now? It was a simple question on an inane topic but Aya didn’t expect a reply.

“Because I can. Crawford told him and then turned his page suggesting the conversation was over.

***

Nebraska was bland and snowy, it had a sort of midwestern freshness covered in white and people saying howdy to each other as they passed by. Aya immediately hated it. Crawford had said nothing in the car, a completely atypical SUV, and he left the radio off. To be fair Aya preferred that. He’d driven straight through with only a few breaks to eat and visit the bathroom. Aya in the back seat with Crawford’s old novel and Crawford minding his own business in the front. It was a full day’s drive but apart from topping up his hot cup in the diners they stopped in Crawford didn’t seem too bothered. All in all, with stops, it took nearly thirty hours, so when the small town arrived, proudly boasting it’s population of 319, Aya half expected him to just go to the house and sack out.

Instead they went to the market. He came out with paper bags full of food that he put into the trunk and then went to the house he owned on the outside of town, near the high school. It was a reasonable size, a sitting room, a dining room, an office, which was locked, a kitchen with downstairs utility room with a pantry going off it. Upstairs it had one and a half bath with three bedrooms, which, truth be told, was more than Aya expected from it’s size and location. It was also clearly quite old.

Aya stumbled in, with the old hardback novel pressed against his bandages, sure that his stitches had held, and then flopped down into the old couch, tired although he had slept in the car. Crawford carried in the groceries and brought them into the kitchen, which was open plan, next to the lounge.

He stacked jars into the cupboards, poured coffee from the tin into a designated jar and then poured himself a glass of water. He stood at the counter and looked over at where Aya sat. “Your bedroom is the one on the left. He said, then putting the glass down on the counter took out a small prescription bottle and shook two pills into his hand, swallowing them and washing them down with a mouthful of water. “It has the adjoining full bath.He drank more of the water. “Help yourself to anything here. I’m going to bed. There are two rules, one don’t go into my room, two don’t unlock locked doors.”

“And?” Aya said because he expected more.

“And?” Crawford continued.

“I thought there would be more.” He answered, cagey. “I thought you’d have a big list, I thought you’d have plans.”

“Oh I do,” he said, finishing off his water and then placing the glass top down in the sink, “but that’s not relevant. I’m going to bed.”

With that he went up the stairs, one hand on the rail, his hat left on the kitchen counter, and Aya pushed himself to his feet, taking the opportunity to investigate. He asked himself what kind of assassin he’d be if he didn’t take the opportunity.

There was an old roll top desk against the far wall, rolled open, and stacked high with books and old papers. There were drawers along both sides and an old polished chair in the knee hole. There was two book cases which went floor to ceiling packed with old hardback books with gold lettering, they were mostly cloth covered as opposed to the paper sleeves that new books had. They were all older novels, mostly from the eighteenth century and in a variety of languages.

The rug was old and the pattern complicated, he suspected it was much more expensive than it appeared. The floor was old parquet and the furniture, although old and worn but it looked like it was antique rather than just cheap. There was an original oil painting, although rather disturbing, of a stiff looking couple and a solemn eyed child that he suspected might be Crawford himself.

On the dining table, lying on the runner between the two candlesticks was an another old novel that was lying open, it’s spine broken but there was a gold clip marking the page regardless. He didn’t recognise the book because the entire text had been removed with razor blades so the old paper was much thinner than it should have been in the centre, but left in the centre top of the right page was a hand written verse,

“Full five fathoms deep,

bury me there,

where the mermaids sing

their lullabies to sailors they keep,

full five fathoms deep,

bury me there

where the where the urchins sway,

and the silver fish sleep,

bury me there,

full five fathoms deep.”

Aya suddenly felt like he had looked into something private and left the book with the strange verse lingering like a fog in his head. So he followed Crawford’s example and went to bed.

***

The next morning Aya found clothes in the wardrobe, old and worn but a fair approximation of his size and warm. There was also a duck down coat by the door. Crawford had left him coffee, just a cup, in the jug on the hotplate, with a mug beside it. The milk in the fridge was fresh and there was a few cereals and wholewheat bread for toast.

Whatever Crawford’s intention was Aya suspected he wouldn’t find it out this day. So before he explored the town he decided to search the house as much as he was able by abiding by Crawford’s simple rule. His stomach hurt from the long drive so he settled himself in the old arm chair beside the kitchen counter with his hand on his stomach. He hated how tired he was, how weak, and knew that he was still doing very well considering he had been almost disembowelled but he still hated that weakness in himself.

It took nearly half an hour to just climb the stairs.

Crawford must have understood, because he never offered to help.

***

It was on the fourth day, just after Crawford removed Aya’s stitches that he found the box of morphine. It wasn't hidden, just tucked away under a side table, a little metal case with it's small bottles and ampoules. These were military issue, Aya knew, not an addict’s collection.

Aya made a point to keep an eye on Crawford after that, to watch the box, to catalogue it's contents. He knew that one didn't leave a box of morphine around where people could find it, especially not Crawford. Crawford did nothing without a reason.

When he arrived later, looking more gray than usual, and tired, he had take out in a paper bag and put it on the counter. It was a large bucket of fried chicken, but he put out two plates. "I could have cooked," Aya said bluntly.

“I wanted chicken," Crawford shrugged.

“I found your morphine." Aya said.

Crawford just pulled out his stool, his hand in his hair, “I’m surprised it took you that long," he said. “Coleslaw?” He pushed the small carton over.

“What are you doing, Crawford, why play this game?”

Crawford pushed his glasses up his nose, but his expression was even. “Because I can.”

On the fifth day Crawford was sick, and spent most of the day in his private bathroom. Aya broached the rule about entering his bedroom and brought him saltine crackers, iced water, handkerchiefs and a compress for his neck. They never said anything throughout the exchange, Aya asked no questions and Crawford offered no answers.

The sixth day Crawford kept mostly to his bed, and Aya wondered why Crawford was so sick when he himself wasn’t. Nevertheless bowls of plain noodles and tea found their way to Crawford’s bedside and Aya told himself it was his way of making reparations for what Crawford had done for him.

But Crawford looked human in the bed with it's navy comforter, he was pale and sweaty, his glasses to the side and his neck flushed. He slept uneasily, still weak from the sickness.

He also rose, several times, Aya watching warily from the chair with one eye cracked slightly open, to go to the bathroom and vomit. Aya offered him no help. Crawford wouldn't have wanted it.

The seventh day Crawford got up and showered. If he noticed Aya watching the way he leant with one hand against the wall to support himself he said nothing. If Crawford appreciated the clothes laid out for him on the bed, he said nothing.

One thing Aya was sure of was this wasn't morphine withdrawal.

Crawford spent the next two days in the house, but there was no conversation between them.

On what Aya counted as the tenth day since he had come to Nebraska Crawford put on a pair of boots and turned to him, “are you coming?” he asked. Aya slipped on his shoes and coat and struggled to follow.

The house Crawford had brought them to was at the edge of town so it was not far to walk, even through the light snow which exhausted Aya, to his destination perhaps a mile and a half outside of town. “There was a mill here." Crawford said as he looked out over the pond, great chunks of ice floated across it's surface like icebergs. There were trees twisted into the water, fallen and broken, and the water was a murky brown green. “Maybe a hundred years ago, it cut lumber, not ground grain." He stopped, and his eyes for a moment were the same milky colour as the sky. “I used to play here as a child. My parents told me not to go near the water, but I never listened. The water is too dangerous for swimming." Then he turned his back to it, “it's over five fathoms deep, what's that, thirty, thirty five feet, and straight down. Good place for fishing,” he said finally.

“Why are you doing this?” Aya asked for what felt like the hundredth time, “because I can.” was the only answer he got though.

After that life went on at a quiet pace, Aya got stronger and wandered through the town, still wary that the people there were friendly. Crawford did whatever it was that he did and paid Aya no mind. The car was there if he needed it. Mose days Crawford wandered out to the old mill pond and returned near dark with no hint as to why he had done so, just the snow caked on his boots to tell the story.

The girl in the diner, Candy, always smiled when Aya came in, she wore a pastel pink uniform and had her blonde hair in a pony. She brought him a cup and poured it with coffee before he asked. She chewed gum and moved lips of a glossy red, “ya’okay, hun?” she asked, “you staying in the ole’ Crawford house.”

Aya agreed. “Crawford and I are old business associates.”

“That so?" she said, doodling on her order pad so it looked like she was taking his order. “Aint seen Crawfords in these part since the accident,” she shrugged, “went to school with their kid, I mean before he went off to that fancy academy, god that was over twenty years ago, now you wanting food, hun, or just the coffee?” Aya just took the coffee.

When he got back to the house he looked at the oil painting of the solemn golden eyed boy and his parents, he saw the warmth with which the woman smiled and the pride in the man's eyes. He took in details of the hand on the boy’s shoulder and the distant quiet look in those golden eyes, and considered what the waitress, Candy, had said. Crawford had gone to a fancy academy and his parents died in an accident. Aya knew what that meant, Rosenkreuz were like Kritiker- they didn't like loose ends.

It had been two months, at least, maybe more, when Crawford stood next to Crawford and asked him to join him at the mill pond. He wore his old white suit which hung heavily on his frame, far too large for him now. He laid his old gun down on a tree stump and looked at Aya in the spring light. “You keep asking me why I brought you out here." He said. “This is why." He said. “The water wasn’t ready before.”

He stopped for a long moment, neither of them moving for the gun. “There’s things you should know. Your family, I planted the explosion. I killed your old team, Siberian, Balinese and Persia, and your sister, I found her in Tokyo, pretty little thing, so tight.”

That was all Crawford got to say before Aya lifted the gun and fired. The shot took out the back of his head and Crawford looked smug in death. As if it was the only thing that made sense. Aya didn't bother with that, he just dumped the body in the pond, tied to rocks to weigh it down, five fathoms deep, just like Crawford kept repeating.

When he got back to the house he went to the locked door and opened it for the first time. He had expected a weapon's cache. Instead were family photos, some of the boy Prodigy whose name Aya had never known, but against one wall were medical scans, x rays and other things. They were of someone’s head and even Aya could tell that there was something hideously wrong with them. In each of them a large blot obscured the picture.

On the desk beneath them were bottles of prescription medicine with long capable medical words like inoperable, terminal, and palliative.

Aya sat back on the wooden chair and laughed, “you son of a bitch," he said looking at the things spread before him as everything made sense, “you son of a bitch.” Because that had been why Crawford had brought him here, that had been why Crawford saved him, so he would save Crawford. “You son of a bitch,” he repeated, “you could have just asked.”
 
 
 
two_point: brad/schuldigtwo_point on March 15th, 2010 01:41 pm (UTC)
This is wonderful. Layered and dark and perfect, it's exactly why I like WK when it's done well and it's been a really long time since I've read a story that made me this happy -- in a twisted psychological way, but happy none the less. You've caught my head canon Crawford, and I loved how his cockroach eyes (excellent image)turned to golden eyed by the end. If Aya and Crawford are going to be together (in the same room for starters) it has to be like this. Bravo!
The Devil's handmaiden: crawford speechless from bndseraphim_grace on March 29th, 2010 02:52 pm (UTC)
thank you
Crawford gets what he wanted, and manipulates everyone to get it, even if Aya doesn't understand that to the very end
duckie-chan: crawfordclueless_psycho on March 16th, 2010 07:31 am (UTC)
hi, sorry for the delayed comment. This is awesome... I'm just speechless... so thank you thank you thank you *kisses your hands*
The Devil's handmaiden: muse crawford from spiritawayseraphim_grace on March 29th, 2010 02:53 pm (UTC)
thank you
I'm so glad you liked it
madisuzy: AYAmadisuzy on March 16th, 2010 09:14 am (UTC)
Fantastic! I was completely engrossed from the beginning to the end. Wonderfully dark and you captured both characters perfectly.
The Devil's handmaiden: stuart townsendseraphim_grace on March 29th, 2010 02:54 pm (UTC)
thank you
(and now I've run out of Crawford icons)
Elf Lady: Aya elflady_2001 on March 30th, 2010 04:21 am (UTC)
You know, you just write the best Crawford and Aya stories. Crawford is such an enigmatic figure in this (which I suppose is perfect for an Oracle!). Aya is left to wonder what the heck Crawford wants with him and he's got it all wrong. :)

Crawford knows Aya and knows how to push his buttons. He knows how to manipulate like no one else to get what he wants...because he can. Just perfect.
The Devil's handmaiden: Anything iconseraphim_grace on March 30th, 2010 02:00 pm (UTC)
i like this story, it came from a vision when i was listening to the deftones of all things - "take the gun, blow me away" was the lyric and i thought about it for years actually, just let it slowly simmer
what is interesting about the story is you expect it to be a relationship, Crawford opens up so much of himself but keeps that one locked door, and Aya's own need to care give is there but they're both too proud to admit weakness which is why Crawford manipulates him so carefully, even if he ultimately reveals more than he wanted to
layla_xdlayla_xd on April 11th, 2010 03:26 pm (UTC)
Oh thank you so much for writing this! Your Crawford/Aya stories are always so very wonderful.
This specific one was very impressive because it was so dark, although it had its bright spots at the same time. There is this undertone of what could be, because Crawford and Aya treat each other with respect, they do care in some strange way. But they would never do anything to really get to know each other closer...
I really love the ending. It fits the story and it´s typical Crawford, manipulating Aya into shooting him.
Great story!
The Devil's handmaidenseraphim_grace on April 11th, 2010 11:51 pm (UTC)
thank you
i did do it for weissday
there is some sort of wierd rule that i do all my best work for weiss day
go figure
in the years it's been running i haven't turned out one stoy i thought was subpar, i'm really proud of all of them
kinsugikinsugi on February 8th, 2012 04:54 pm (UTC)
And I'm going to go read them all. This was just... wow. Perfect Crawford, perfect Aya. So good.