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The coffee shop was crowded. The chatter of the patrons sounded like a cacophony of birds gathered at a marsh. Schu was just finishing his coffee. He tapped the tiny spoon on the side of the bone white cup and let the voices flood in. So many were lost and in pain it was like drowning in honey. He could drown and get lost himself, except he was already lost. He'd been a shiny toy, picked up and played with, then put on a shelf. For YEARS. Without his markers, without Crawford or Aya, Schu didn't know who he was. He was already drowning. Schu pushed outward, pushing the vague, hopeless discontent of some of the people around him into anger. Several arguments erupted simultaneously. But if he was drowning, he was going to enjoy it. If he was going down, he wasn't going down alone.



Naoe's mind was quiet, controlled, and steady as he approached. Even if it wasn't one Schu knew, he probably would have stood out from the crowd. He glanced around at the arguments, trying to decide how similar the 'brothers' were. In Schuldig, this kind of thing was usually a bad sign.

"Are you done?" It could have meant the coffee, if anyone was listening. It could mean the trouble making. It could mean the emotional state behind the trouble making. Really it was a little of everything, and the words themselves lacked the concern that Naoe's mind wasn't trying to hide.

Hmm. Crawford Lite. Schu peered at Nagi as he finished his cup. The last was his favorite part. It was the sweetest. "With the coffee." He put the cup down and stood up. He pushed out a little more, and a plump woman across the room threw a punch at a random guy working on his laptop. Several fights broke out. Schu calmly made for the door.

Naoe walked with him, keeping pace. He was holding a bag on one shoulder with his laptop and a few other things in it. He didn't bother to stop any of the fights, just made sure no one bumped into him or Schu.

"I know you're not him, but if this is a point of similarity, there's a problem. Is it fixable?" Naoe was already thinking ahead, considering possible responses to multiple possible answers. His mental flow chart was sparser than he'd like; he didn't know Schu that well yet.

From Naoe's perspective, he and Schuldig were the outsiders to a complete team, not quite in sync with the rest. But that was fixable.

Schu took a deep breath of cool autumn air. The big glass window next to them thumped as Computer Guy was thrown against it. But it didn't break. Damn.

"Problem?" Schuldig sneered. He let himself really look at, and enjoy looking at, Naoe. "I'm just enjoying one of my rare days out. Lucky you. Looks like you get to enjoy it with me." Schuldig slid his arms around Naoe's neck and purred, "Whatever shall we do?"

That had not been on the flow chart. Well. The second half hadn't. Naoe didn't shove Schu off, but he didn't do anything else either for a long moment. He was trying to decide if Schu actually even meant what he was implying, and how Naoe felt about it if he wasn't just playing games.

He knew he didn't see Schuldig that way. But Naoe meant it when he said he knew Schu wasn't Schuldig. He wasn't sure if the answer was yes, but he could at least tell it wasn't a definite no.

"Hang-gliding?" he offered in a mild, unaffected tone.

Someone was banging Computer Guy's head against the glass.

"With your talents, we wouldn't even need a glider," Schu replied indulgently. "Of course, what fun would that be? No risk --" Schu's smile sharpened as he looked meaningfully into Naoe's eyes. "-- No fun."

"Am I the risk or the fun?" Naoe asked pointedly. The sound of head against glass got annoying quickly. Naoe's power spread hair thin cracks through the glass so the next one would break it.

Schu watched the spiderweb of cracks form then Computer Guy's head crash, bloody, through the glass. Schu smiled like a small child who'd been given candy, and looked back at Naoe with new appreciation. "You're both."



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