Warnings: Possible violence, dark themes and sex in later chapters.
Pairing: Crawford x Schuldig.
Summary: A self-professed boy genius invites himself onto a high-profile murder case and is drawn to the darker world he discovers.
Notes: This was inspired by wk_fic_finds and the discussions of fanon vs canon. I started wondering, based on my rather different view of Schuldig, what his backstory could be if it didn't involve prostitution. It became a completely different fic, but one that could slot nicely into canon continuity.
Professional // Chapter One
Klaus Wichmann had heard all about nineteen year-old Alexander Wolfe and it made him ill. He was one of those bratty children you sometimes heard about on the news who had entered university as soon as they were able to talk. They glided effortlessly through, gaining full marks in every subject they so much as looked at and walked away with a first class degree, no social skills whatsoever and unprepared for the outside world. There was no way that a child like this could ever become a criminal psychologist, a profession that was out of the range of most of the regular police force, even with years of experience. And yet the police service had actively sought to recruit this boy. It was beyond Wichmann. Truly beyond him. Bureaucracy gone mad.
Wolfe stood before him. His short red hair was slicked back in a style reminiscent of Wichmann's own son. His manner of dress, too, was very much like the style he enforced amongst his family when they appeared at events attended by the press. Plain black jacket, matching trousers, white shirt and a tie that was ordinary enough not to attract comment. He was damn-near perfect, except for the kid's age.
The boy had sharp blue eyes that pierced Wichmann's soul.
Despite himself, a feeling of reassurance washed over him. He looked like a good kid. Trustworthy, like his son. He would be promoted quickly, he was certain of it. The more he looked at him, the quicker his doubts vanished. What had he been thinking? Age had no bearing on ability in this profession!
Wichmann shifted in his seat and gave him the news that he hadn't previously understood until he'd met the boy in question.
"You'll go straight into active duty, as we don't foresee a need for a training period."
"Really?" Wolfe's eyes lit up and his smile broadened. "That sure is an honour, sir."
"You deserve it," said the Inspekteur with a nod, although he wasn't quite sure what Wolfe had done for that to be the case.
Soft warmth gripped him deep down and told him this was a genuine boy genius who had worked hard throughout university and beyond.
"That is all. You're expected in the lab in about half an hour. Be early."
Wolfe bowed and left the office. His eyes glinted in excitement and his fists clenched at pulling off such an incredible feat. When he was out of sight, he allowed himself a small leap into the air.
But hardly a challenge to someone like himself.
A trace of cigarette smoke hung in the air as Wolfe walked down the mahogany-panelled corridor. He took in the touches that made it an elegant building rather than mere pretensions towards elegance. The dark red roses were neither plastic nor wilting. The brushstrokes on the oil paintings were clearly visible and the artist a professional.
And not a spider plant in sight.
He paused before he pushed open the heavy doors at the end of the corridor and wondered how he would play this. When he cracked case after case, as would surely happen, he wanted it to be due to his own, raw talent. Well then, he would only push for acceptance and no further.
He entered and was struck by how like an ordinary office it was. He'd been expecting white walls and microscopes from the name, even though this wasn't the forensics branch. A group of three men and one woman stood around at the far end of the room, all of whom looked up as he came in.
He felt like a boy on his first day at school, wanting to be invited to play with the big kids. Automatically, he dredged up their names from their own minds.
"Ah, Alexander Wolfe?"
This was a man Wolfe already knew to be Edward Monaghan and he made it seem as if even acknowledging the boy's existence was a trial. Edward was much older than him, with two white stripes either sides of his temples, which made Wolfe think of a badger. The lines on his face told of some of the cases he'd witnessed, his eyes even more.
His eyes stared somewhere beyond Wolfe, then suddenly snapped into focus and seemingly softened.
"I'm Monaghan. Around the table we have Wagner, Schmitt and Hahn."
Wolfe bestowed upon them a thin smile. Surnames? They weren't going to be on a first-name basis from the beginning? In any other place, this would be a foolish slip of the mind. In a place that specialised in psychological profiling, it had to be malicious. If he had to snap and break a few things to flip this man's mindset to 'acceptance', he wouldn't be too upset.
Sometimes, when he went into another person's consciousness, he could physically hear the neurons snap and crackle as viscerally as if they were real wood and plastic. People's minds were a lot like old televisions; if they didn't do what you want the first time, a good punch or kick usually sorted out the problem. You didn't necessarily have to be an expert.
He put his favourite theory into practice and breathed in time with Monaghan.
"This is the case you'll be working on." Monaghan's face was flushed and his breathing irregular. He held a file out towards Wolfe, and then withdrew it. "What was I saying? What on earth was I saying...? My dear boy, you should be on our most disturbing case! It's the only one fit for your intellect."
Wolfe nodded in complete understanding and then swallowed sharply as an unintended hush fell across the room. He'd gone too far. Or rather, he'd worked his magic on only one mind. He touched his forehead lightly, feeling the developing migraine.
"You should be shadowing Hahn on the Potsdamer Platz murder case."
The migraine was vanishing almost as quickly as it had arrived. This was the big one. The biggest case to ever hit Germany. Not for the number murdered, for there had been only one. And not for the age or social status of the murdered man, for he'd been an ordinary twenty-six year-old office worker. No, the notoriety lay in the details.
"I've read about it. Is it very different from what's in the newspaper?"
"Not at all. That's the problem. It's exactly as sensational as the media's making out."
Wolfe nodded a lie. He'd already confirmed that for himself in the man's own mind just now.
Monaghan smiled benevolently, causing Wolfe's hands to curl into fists without his realising. They had intended to give him a lesser case but his own intervention gave them two conflicting instructions; they now wanted simultaneously to spare him the gruesome imagery and give him the nastiest one. The migraine returned.
"Here," Hahn handed him her own collection of notes. In her high heels, she was a little taller than Wolfe and with long, slightly curly blonde hair that he longed to run his fingers through. He rubbed his mind up across hers in a smooth action and took her inside himself. She was strong-minded and extremely intelligent – of course, she had to be to get this high up in the police force. He hadn't noticed any other women around.
Telepaths traded on psychic impressions more than appearance and he liked what he saw of Sonja. Sonja Hahn. He savoured the information that hadn't been offered to him yet.
There was also Maximilian Schmitt. Behind huge, plastic-rimmed glasses that went out of fashion about five years ago, there was a handsome face with keen eyes. His mousy-brown hair framed his face perfectly. Once again, Wolfe dived in. He was intelligent, sure, but in Hahn's shadow most of the time. He wanted to hurt her. He wanted to violate her so she'd never dismiss his ideas in public ever again.
Wolfe spat him out, the taste disappointing him. Why did the prettiest ones taste so vile?
He was, of course, supposed to be looking through Hahn's notes. He visibly gave them his undivided attention, although he was thinking more about his own expression. Should he look interested? Disgusted?
A jolt of cold electricity ran down his spine as he saw photographs and police reports that had never been seen in the newspapers. Despite himself, he was charged up at the thought of working on such a case. He couldn't help it.
Potsdamer Platz was one of the busiest intersections in Berlin. It was a monument to the success of the reunification of the east and west sides and filled with enough curved and wedge-shaped architecture to brand it a modern tourist centre.
At about eleven forty-five, Kevin Mueller had left his desk and walked to Sony Center in Potsdamer Platz and arrived at around two minutes to midday. He stood in the centre of the plaza, looking up at the circular roof far above him with its spokes that radiated outwards. He'd stood directly below and held his arms aloft. Without being able to say why, people from the surrounding cafes had left their coffees and gone to look for themselves. Some would later say that they couldn't even hear or see anything unusual. They'd just felt compelled.
By midday, Kevin Mueller had attracted a small crowd. Then, his lips twitched and curled. His whole body peeled outwards from his mouth, leaving behind skin, flesh and bones in a pool of blood. "Like a banana," one of the passersby had said, laughing and crying and gagging at the same time.
Hahn interrupted Wolfe's thoughts. "We think that our man loves planning and showmanship. He thought about the effect he wanted to achieve first and figured out how to do it second."
Wolfe was relieved that she had said something different from what he had been thinking. Otherwise she would have got her idea in first. A neat trick. "Could it not be an elaborate suicide?"
"That was my thought," said Schmitt, pushing his ugly glasses further up the ridge of his nose. "Of course, Mueller wouldn't have done it alone. Suicide victims generally want to disappear with ease. He would have to have had a friend who persuaded him to do it a different way."
"Could be some kind of fetishist," Monaghan suggested. "You get all kinds in that place."
"Are we certain it was done with Mueller's consent in some way?" That was Wagner.
Monaghan spoke again. "Not at all, although he didn't appear drugged, according to his coworkers. We're still waiting on autopsy results and it looks like there were no obvious devices attached to his body."
"I'm going to consult members of Germany's Magic Circle. Finding out how to achieve such an effect would be a good first step," Hahn told them. Her eyelids flickered as her mind changed against her will. "Wolfe, you're welcome to come along, but it isn't necessary."
"I'm going..." Schmitt stopped and he looked around the room in confusion. "I'm going... I'm going to Mueller's office."
"And I'm going to Sony Center," Wolfe told them, taking Schmitt's intended location.
If he could read and change minds, then there were other people out there that could do the same and the thought terrified him.
Areas of Sony Center were still cordoned off. A few people stood around looking forlorn and a number had brought flowers. Wolfe remembered that Mueller had few friends outside of work and wondered what had caused these people to bring flowers to the murder site of a stranger.
Fear of the unknown, their minds replied.
He could also see religious groups had camped out on the edge of plaza, outside of the shelter of Sony Center. Some chanted, some prayed, some held placards welcoming visitors from outer space. He didn't need to look into their minds to see they thought this was the work of some unacknowledged force in the universe. He'd laugh at them if he didn't agree with this assessment.
Wolfe loitered on the outskirts and didn't use his newly-acquired ID to enter the restricted area. There was no point, after all. He wanted to stay in the area where the murderer could go too.
On the other side, he could see another man watching. Something about his face told Wolfe he wasn't German. His style of dress still seemed vaguely European, though perhaps English. He was basing this on the suit he wore, which he had combined with a brown waistcoat. An aristocratic look indeed.
Wolfe walked hurriedly around to look closer at him. The stranger's eyes reminded him of Monaghan's -- they looked far into the distance rather than at anything directly in front. His glasses were classic, metal-rimmed and unlike the ones Schmitt wore. They gave an impression of intelligence and hidden beauty that Wolfe appreciated as much as he had Hahn.
Of course, he must be police. Perhaps an expert they had drafted in from another country. His bearing clearly indicated he was supposed to be here. But on the other hand, he couldn't be much older than Wolfe himself. Maybe a couple of years and five at most.
The stranger's head turned in Wolfe's direction and his eyes narrowed. Wolfe knew in that split second that he'd been wrong. This man wasn't police. In fact, after only a couple of hours in this job, he was certain had found his man.
And more than anything else, he longed to talk to him.