Schuldig and Crawford talk over a tower of coffee cups.
"You've been here for five hours." he said, and Schuldig deliberately ignored him. Brad sighed and folded his hands neatly together on the table. "You're mad at me." he acknowledged.
/Well duh/. Schuldig stuck his finger into the cup to sweep up the congealed sugar and licked it from his finger. Like a well timed clock the waitress came and placed another, his seventh, cup on the table. She left without saying anything, her face eerily blank, and Schuldig tried to feel a little pleasure at the distress she would inevitably feel when her shift ended and she became aware of the missing minutes in her memory. It didn't really work; he couldn't muster more than a vague dissatisfaction. She'd shrug them off anyway, and figure she was probably just having a bad day. No one ever appreciated the finer details of his work.
Brad watched him blow air over the surface of the coffee to cool it in silence for several minutes and Schuldig ignored him harder. Normally Brad was better at playing this particular game, but Schuldig was mad this time. Brad was going to have to apologize.
"You're acting like a child." Brad said, annoyance beginning to color his tone, and Schuldig ignored him. "You hate coffee." He tried and Schuldig ignored him. "Do you want me to say I'm sorry?"
"Yes!" Schuldig exploded. "Say you're fucking sorry."
Brad stared at Schuldig, angry now himself, and stood abruptly. "I'm sorry I thought you were adult enough to cope with having a choice to make." He slammed his hands onto the table, shaking Schuldig's tower precariously, and leaned forward. "I'm sorry I thought you'd appreciate having the freedom to choose. Is that enough? I'm sorry Eszet no longer dictates my every move. I'm sorry I worked so hard to get us all away from them. I'm fucking sorry, all right?"
Well, now Schuldig just felt like shit. He dropped his head to the table and groaned tiredly, waiting until Brad sat back down in the chair before lifting it. "Okay, I'm an asshole."
Brad ignored him. Brad ignored him. Schuldig ground his teeth together. He took a swig of his coffee and stared out of the window. "I'm sorry." He muttered finally, graceless to the last.
Brad sighed, sounding old and worn down and reached over to steal Schuldig's coffee. He sipped and made a face at the taste, but took a few more swallows and Schuldig didn't chuckle, and certainly not out loud. Brad snorted in amusement anyway. "Is it really so terrible," he asked, "being able to choose for yourself?"
Schuldig shrugged. "First my parents, then Rosenkreutz, then Eszet, then you, all my life I've had other people make my choices for me; the important ones at least."
"Do you want me to make this one?"
He looked over at his leader, more recently his friend, and considered the offer carefully. Brad had never done anything that wouldn't lead Schwarz to their eventual freedom. He'd taken their lives as his own and protected them fiercely, and Schuldig smiled at the sudden image of a lioness guarding her cubs. He shook his head, his smile turning wry.
"I have to grow up sometime." he said and Brad's lips twitched.
"You do." he agreed.
Schuldig stuck his tongue out childishly. "Then no, Dad, I'll make a decision. Just give me a bit of time, yeah?"
Crawford tipped his head back and downed the last of the coffee, then carefully placed the cup on its saucer, on top of Schuldig's tower. "One more cup." he said, "after that, it'll fall."
Schuldig watched Brad stand and leave the cafÃ©. Cryptic last words? He was never really sure with Brad.
He'd have another two cups of coffee anyway.