Warning: Vague spoilers for the manga, but nothing that's a dead giveaway (past chapter 30, at least).

Coffee Being

Actually, the rush isn't what attracts him so much as the feeling – he stills falls dead asleep after downing two mugs full, legs sticking up over the edge of the sofa and paperwork underneath his head and across his face. His assistants tell him that, surprisingly, he does not snore too loudly; its his sleeping at all that bothers them more, because they've been up all night typing out reports that he only needs to sign, and even that he runs away from. He fakes tears as he reaches for his stamp. "Why, any innocent man wouldn't agree to torture!"

Sometimes it is a wonder to all of them how exactly he came to be Supervisor.

Komui knows the answer, of course, lurking somewhere behind his crooked smile and tiptilted hat; if anyone asks, he throws his arms theatrically up into the air and says, "But of course I had to follow my darling baby sister, she's so cute everyone would be falling for her, and then she might get secretly married, and that would break her poor brother's heart!" If Rinali is present, there stands a good chance that he will be kicked in the behind; but recently the tease has stopped bothering her, and all she does is roll her eyes before pouring him another round of coffee.

There is some truth to the statement, beneath all the dramatics – he joined the Black Priests for her sake more than anything else, studying the horrors of the world's dark past late into the night, until he was so tired not even the nightmares could come. It wasn't easy getting to that position – he smiled too much and looked too young, could he handle the bulk of the workload (well, that was a problem, but he wouldn't admit it), what were his real motives, anyway?

"A world without terror," he answered carefully, like a simpering beauty pageant contest, but in truth all he could think about was Rinali, what are they doing to her, can I get to her in time? They talked about things like a future wherein one could sleep and not have to worry about facing oblivion tomorrow; they talked of prestige and fighting the good fight; all he wanted was to protect what was left of his family, because that was all he had.

It broke his heart to see her on that cold iron bed, with scratches all over face and bandages wrapped too tightly around both wrists; her eyes were closed and leaking all the while, rimmed with a fatigue children should not have to know. "Let me go home," she whispered, but without any real conviction – as if the words had been stitched onto her tongue, as if they had lost all meaning and definition.

He felt his insides freeze, turn into steel, scream at him for being so horribly incompetent – why couldn't I have been the exorcist, why couldn't I have this fate instead? - but there is no questioning God. He put a hesitant hand against a face he has not felt in years, trying not to cry himself. "This is your home. Mine now, too. We can live together again, Rinali." He smoothed out her hair. "Sorry I'm late."

"Brother...Komui?" She looked at him disbelievingly, teardrops catching on her lashes and cascading down her roughened cheeks, and he removed the restraints they have put on her, pulled her into his lap and rocked her until she hiccupped herself to sleep.

She grew less and less gloomy afterwards, until at last she could smile the way she used to. He was happy just being by her side, although he wasn't exactly sure he approved of how they dressed her – sometimes the clothes had more netting and frills than he thought appropriate, or maybe he was just being sentimental and missing the cheongsams she wore back in China.

Back in China, but they weren't there anymore, because then they always had tea, and English tea is nothing like the jasmine and oolong he remembers from home. Coffee is different. Coffee has none of the relaxing properties and all of the jitters – coffee makes the ends of his hair curl and his throat burn and sometimes, when he forgets to add in sugar and cream, makes his tongue stick out because it tastes so bitter, it doesn't taste good, not really. But it's a lot less risky than wine, and a lot more important-seeming than juice or water, and he's an addict already.

Laughter is another thing he is addicted to – not on purpose, exactly, but he knows that children laugh a hundred times more than adults, and if it's the only thing he can do to stay a kid, then he'll do it (because no one ever appreciates his Komrin or his experiments or his playacting of doctor doctor, and even Rinali has started telling him to grow the heck up, recently). He knows how to keep a smile on his face even when the world is crumbling, although it gets a little harder everyday, especially now that the Earl is making his move.

He doesn't want to send her off on the mission to find General Cross – not right after her trip to the Rewinding Town (because her nerve ends are blasted and she's wearing a shredded Victorian dress; it reminds him too much of that first time he saw her in the organization). He doesn't want to send her back into hell while he returns to the safe, paperwork-ridden confines of headquarters. He'd give anything to fight in her place, to face the invincible demons on the frontline and take all her cuts and bruises and wounds for her; to cry all her tears; but he isn't a chosen one, he isn't compatible, he goes back to headquarters feeling heavy as a boulder.

"You look down, commander," Reever says, although he looks sheepish after he does, as if it was a stupid thing to say.

Komui strikes a pose. "Down? Never!"

Then, more seriously, he sighs and lifts up his head and settles awkwardly into his chair, reclining laboriously. "I only look forward."

Because if he doesn't, the only thing he'll see is the growing number of casualties, the finders crying through their bandages and asking him for wishes he has never had any power to grant; the heightening doubt and depression, with Akuma lurking behind every wall; his sister and Allen and Kanda and all the other exorcists fighting a bloody war (and they're all still children, why couldn't they be any older?); papers and experiments and studies and the slowly waning belief that it isn't all in vain.

"Shed no tears until seeing the coffin." He whispers the proverb to himself while pretending to sleep, because he is tired and desperate and would rather feign laziness than show anyone weakness. "Shed no tears."

It's nothing like tea, but the coffee keeps the ache away sometimes, making him stretch that smile just a little bit wider, putting the laughter back into his throat – "M-o-o-ore," he wheedles, clicking his mug against the coffeepot (Rinali gave him the bunny-printed pink thing when he was twenty-five, and he has not used any other since). "More! I want to be awake when they return." If they return. No, they will definitely return.

It doesn't work, and he falls asleep afterwards, spread out like a starfish on an unbelievably messy floor, drooling and muttering on about 'you didn't tell me' and 'don't get married'. 65 comes by and drapes a blanket over him, and in the haze of dreaming he pictures a tomorrow with the sun shining and the world free of monsters – his sister safe and sound, the tears locked away somewhere dead and forgotten, the paperwork diminished to coffee stains and freshly brewed tea.


A/N: I have a soft spot for Komui, however silly he is. D: I guess coffee didn't actually play such a big role in this piece, but it was fun to write, somehow. Comments and suggestions are all greatly appreciated. :D