Schuldig didn't consider himself fragmented or inauthentic, he didn't consider the problem of his telepathically adopted likes and dislikes to be much of a problem at all. But then he was never in a position to process the consequences, and that was the problem; always moving on to the next focus, the next consideration, the next response to sensation, curious and sampling, tempted and restless. What he likes, what he wants, what he's thinking of or remembered having, all these things that make up his surface constantly sampled from elsewhere and roiling around his center. Choosing food, clothes, personal possessions, daily hygiene rituals; all problematic despite rigorous programming received at Rosenkreuz, directly addressed in their foundation training for telepaths. A similar course was given to team-leaders, "the eclectic surface personalities and core persona of sensitives." (*)
However, Schuldig has been fickle and dissatisfied for several days and is now truly hungry. His inability to shop effectively frustrates him, there's never exactly what he wants in their quarters when he wants it, sometimes by the time a meal is delivered he's just not that into what he's ordered anymore, and he dislikes dining-in at restaurants because he has to concentrate while remaining in place and waiting while dozens of minds review dozens of choices. Unable to find something satisfying, not willing to fill up on something just for the sake of nutrition, he's irritable, energy flagging, looking for a place to settle down and rest when not immediately tasked. The weaker he becomes the less able he is to focus on satisfying his hunger, and the cycle seems to be converting into a spiral toward the floor.
Crawford doesn't need (or receive) a glimpse of the future to know that this shouldn't be allowed to continue, but doesn't think he can solve Schuldig's lack of appetite with a weapon. On their way home from yet another thrilling day at the Takatori office tower, Schuldig merely watches the scenery change, waiting for the ride to end. He doesn't notice the detour toward the flashing lights and waiving flags of a street closure, a colorful summer matsuri. The festival is teeming with people, bustle, noisy minds and activities, and as Crawford parks and hops out Schuldig narrows his eyes and sinks low in his seat.
Forty minutes later Crawford returns and gets a reaction when he fits several skewered furankufuruto into the cupholder between their seats and the stink of cheap oily meat fills the car. "Foods of nostalgia, supposed to help with appetite." Schuldig's side-eye is accompanied and undermined by a quiet internal gurgle, and he pushes himself into a more upright position. Crawford continues, dropping napkins in Schuldig's lap, "immersion in the interest of the crowd in seasonal junk-food should-" he's interrupted.
"Ja. Hai. Yes. Okay? It's a good plan," he's already picking one up, turning it and considering the garish 'meat' on a stick, breaking the skin with his fingernails to hear it snap.
"Look, I know this is crap, but it's got the crowd effect going for it. Mm, what a smell. I'm almost interested. Fuck it, I'll suck on one if you eat two," trying to convince the telepath, Crawford is apparently going all-in. Schuldig quirks a brow and begins cautiously applying his teeth to the festive meatstick.
"Karumeyaki when you're done with that. Lots of energy in sugar. Takoyaki for Naoe, have one if you want, there's a surprise inside each one." Crawford tucks a container of bready looking balls and a waxed paper package on the floor at Schuldig's feet and jams the key in the ignition. "Lets get home before they get too.. whatever."
Schuldig nudges the box with his foot, and pokes his first skewer stick out the window. "One," he announces, licking his fingers clean.
(*) Crawford once confided this training failed to actually propose a means to cope beyond maintaining a separate credit line for telepathic/empathic team members personal expenses, similar to the recommendation of additional medical and property insurance for teams which included kinetics. Crawford had *not* confided that this credit line could be monitored for excessive out-of-pattern purchases which might indicate a crisis of self and desperate search for identity, but Schuldig had gleaned that tidbit late one night as his sleepy team-leader reviewed their monthly expense reports, thoughts unguarded.(**)
(**) The spending spree which followed resulted in a calm discussion of limits, expectations, disclosure, and trust. At gunpoint. There was no doubt on two points following this discussion: that Schuldig had a very solid, confident, and opinionated core personality indeed, and that Crawford was adept at demonstrating a direct-line effect understood and retained by his team sensitive. This resolution owed credit more to the Rosenkreuz combat instructors than their counterparts in psychology.