Chapter One

The waitress led Genesis and Angeal to a seat by the window. Window seats were Genesis' preference, as long as they gave him a view of the sky; Angeal couldn't care less one way or another.

Handing them each a menu, she said, "Would you gentlemen like a cup of coffee?"

"No thanks," Angeal replied. Coffee made him jittery, and he didn't like the feeling. "A glass of water would be great, though."

"I'll have one," Genesis nodded. "And could you brew it strong?"

"Of course, sir," the waitress replied with a smile.

Genesis nodded. Strong coffee…he needed that. He was never much of a morning person. He could get up in the morning and do what needed to be done, sure as any soldier, but he had no love of it. But, coffee, that beautiful, bitter elixir of life, was what got him through most mornings.

"I hope you're going to drink something other than coffee today," Angeal commented after the waitress had gone.

Genesis frowned. "What does that mean?" he asked. He knew the answer, of course. Some days, he'd drink little besides coffee…and so he often found himself severely dehydrated. His friends routinely teased him about this, but he laughed it off. It was goofy, of course, but it just seemed like he never had enough time to drink the coffee he needed and anything else besides.

Angeal opted not to respond, except by shaking his head as he perused his menu. "Waffles," he read aloud. "That sounds good."

Genesis rolled his eyes. When Angeal said "waffles", he knew that he meant a soup of syrup and sugar seasoned with waffles. "How about something that you can't drown in syrup?" he suggested.

It was Angeal's turn to frown. "I happen to like waffles," he replied. "And I don't drown them in syrup…they just need to achieve the right level of sweetness."

Genesis rolled his eyes again. If Genesis got his energy from caffeine, Angeal got his from sugar; the two were like addicts, but addicted to different substances. "Well," he said, "I think I'm going to get the biscuits and gravy."

Angeal shuddered. "Those things look like throw-up," he observed. "I couldn't imagine eating them first thing in the morning." Genesis turned an annoyed expression toward his friend, and Angeal shrugged abashed. "Sorry," he apologized, "but, seriously, every time I choked down a mouthful, I'd be thinking of choking down a mouthful of –"

"Yes, thank you for that lovely mental picture!" Genesis interrupted. "Why don't I go with eggs and a muffin instead, as I'm not going to be able to eat gravy and biscuits either, at least not after that wonderful description?"

Angeal colored a little, as he really hadn't meant to ruin his friend's breakfast. But, before he could further put his foot in his mouth, the waitress returned with a pot of coffee for Genesis and a glass of water for Angeal.

"Ahhh," Genesis sighed, breathing in the rising steam as he poured a mug of black liquid. "Coffee…"

Angeal rolled his eyes, but said nothing. Genesis brought the coffee to his lips, blew a few times to cool it down, and then took a sip. His contented expression froze, and then morphed into a grotesque and yet hysterical expression of disgust. Clearly forcing himself to swallow the mouthful, he loosed a hiss of repulsion. "What in gods' name did I just imbibe?!" he exclaimed.

"Shh!" Angeal hushed, glancing around. He didn't want his friend to create a scene over one lousy cup of coffee.

Genesis was clearly not about to be hushed, though. "I thought you said this was a great restaurant?" he hissed at his friend, albeit in a lower tone. "I don't think I've had a worse cup of coffee in my life!"

"It is a great restaurant," Angeal spoke, his voice low and somewhat embarrassed. "But it's a sort of Mom and Pop place…their coffee is just…you know…"

"Shit?" Genesis replied, pushing the offending cup away.

At that moment, the waitress returned. "Are you gentlemen ready to order now?" she asked.

"Yes," Angeal answered hurriedly, hoping his friend would behave politely. If there was one subject to get Genesis fired up, it was a bad cup of coffee. "I'll have the berries & cream waffles, please."

"Of course," the waitress smiled. "And you, sir?" she asked Genesis.

Mustering every bit of civility he could for his friend's sake – Angeal loved this little dive, for gods knew what reason – he said, "Yes, I'll have eggs and a muffin please."

The waitress nodded, and with a smile and assurance that it would be right up, left. Angeal was clearly relieved, and Genesis was clearly disgusted. "Why even offer people coffee," he asked, not really expecting an answer, "if all you're going to serve is brown piss?"

Angeal grimaced, but decided to change the subject. "So, what do you think today's big meeting is going to be about?" he asked.

"Who knows," Genesis answered ill humouredly. "But we're going to have to get some coffee – real coffee, I mean – before we head back."

* * *

Genesis had wolfed down his eggs and muffin, and was watching with a bemused mixture of interest and horror as Angeal ate his waffles. The waffles, covered in crushed purple and red berries, sprinkled with powdered sugar, and then topped with a heaping dab of overly sweetened whipped cream looked just about sweet enough to make Genesis sick to his stomach. Angeal, however, clearly thought they were lacking in sweetness, for he was at the moment pouring alternating streams of maple syrup and strawberry pancake syrup over them. Finishing when his waffles seemed to be floating in a sea of swirling, intertwining red, purple and brown, he began to eat anew.

"Gods!" Genesis exclaimed, feeling very nauseous, "It looks like something died and is bleeding out on your plate, Angeal!"

Angeal froze, mid-mouthful. "What?" he asked. Though the word was almost incomprehensible, his tone, muffled though it was, conveyed the meaning.

"Look at that!" Genesis declared, still disgusted. "The gobs of red and purple, and the little rivulets of red and rust…it looks you've gutted some poor animal on your plate, and you're eating its entrails!"

Angeal stared at his friend, food still in place.

At that moment, at a table near them, a baby started to cry. Maybe it had been Genesis' tone that set him off, but something clearly had, for all at once he was crying loudly and adamantly.

"Oh gods," Genesis groaned. "Why do they even let those whiny, obnoxious things into public? Just so they can ruin other people's meals?"

Finally calling up the courage to swallow his mouthful after his friend's rather colorful description of his food, Angeal commented sarcastically, "Gee, I donno. Why would they let whiny things who ruin people's meals into public?"

Genesis shot him a dirty look. "I'm serious!" he complained. "Listen to that!" The baby's screams were now quite loud.

Angeal sighed. "Well, there could be any number of reasons the poor thing is crying," he explained. "He might be hungry…he might need his diaper changed…he might be afraid…"

Genesis stared at his friend, in a manner so expressive of disapproval that it was almost feline in nature. Angeal, from his long years minding his younger siblings, knew an inordinate amount about human young. In fact, Genesis thought, he knew so much that it was almost scary. "Angeal's parents," he mused, toying with his earring, "were almost criminal in forcing him into so unnatural a position…really, it's very demeaning, and, well, feminine for a man to know so much about children."

"Don't toy with the earring," Angeal sighed. "We can go."

"What?" Genesis asked, breaking from his reflections.

"You're toying with the earring and glaring at me…I get it…we can just go…"

"But…you're not done eating," Genesis replied. As much as the baby's screaming grated on his nerves – and it did – he didn't want to ruin his friend's meal.

"That's ok," Angeal answered. "I don't think I'm in the mood for animal entrails this morning anyway…"