Ao no Exorcist © Kato Kazue

Summary: Shura catches a cold from one of the Exwires, Mephisto displays his usual panache, and random topics are discussed. Author's note at the bottom.


Mephisto Pheles yawned comfortably and finished stacking his unbelievably thick set of papers. Demons were supposed to enjoy the night, he thought, twirling his goatee and setting the stack of papers neatly beside the little Cerberus action figure on his desk. The miniature likes of the Minotaur, Basilisk, and Kraken were also carefully positioned in their respective places on his work table. Yet, Mephisto thought, the hour fatigued him. Well, that was what all the sweets were for. They helped his mood tremendously, since he was averaging about seven hours of sleep per week. Scheming against his father, duping the Vatican, and running a school all at the same time could take a lot out of anyone, human or demon alike.

At the moment, Mephisto absently played with the Rubik's cube by his monitor, more intrigued by his visitor and her appearance than the hour. Of course it was Shura Kirigakure's job to personally deliver the weekly reports on his cute little kids, but the first thing about her this evening that cued Mephisto in to something amiss was the fact that she was neither drunk nor hungover. And the fact that she had actually changed her wardrobe into something that didn't display 95 percent of her torso.

Mephisto took note of the moss green cardigan, baggy corduroys, and clogs on her feet. Her ginger hair was tied haphazardly at the nape of her neck as opposed to high above her head, which made her look older, somehow. Shura lied about her age on a daily basis (though it wasn't like she was the only one around here, Mephisto mused with a chuckle), and with her sartorial scantness she could actually pull it off. But not today.

"You're...leaking," he observed, green eyes surveying her with mild interest.

"Hello to you too," Kirigakura Shura grumbled, dropping the latest folder of reports onto his desk before plopping into the nearest of the three striped chairs. Of all the gimcrackery in Mephisto's office the chairs were the only things in it that resembled something even remotely normal. "And it's called a cold, Mephisto. One of those fucking Exwire brats is going to pay for this." With that she sneezed, wiped her nose with the sleeve of her cardigan, and groaned.

Mephisto looked thoughtful as he handed her an unopened box of tissues. The box, naturally, matched the lamp on the desk as it had cupcake patches sewn onto it. "You mean that little human illness? The bug?" he asked, stroking his chin with a look of disappointment. "I guess this means no drinking tonight."

Shura made a fantastic effort to both glower and cough at the same time, bitterly cursing the fact that her Branch Manager couldn't get sick. Or drunk. Or sick from being drunk. Yet, a nagging voice inside her claimed it was probably because of him alone that she had not gotten her Senior Inspector license confiscated for her propensity for...quaffing off and on the job.

"You know, I could have sworn I heard one of my students coughing the other day. Wasn't it Yukio? Or maybe it was Bon-bon..."

"Bloody hell. Can you please just kill them all for me?"

"That would help my budget, come to think of it..."

"Your budget doesn't need any-" Shura sneezed again, grabbing a tissue from the cupcake box and honking defiantly into it. Afterward she uttered a malediction of curses so colorful it even rivaled Mephisto's cravat.

"Careful, Miss Kirigakure," Mephisto chuckled, "you don't want to be summoning anything there."

"Ha fucking HA." Shura was about to add some other nameless profanity, but her eyes lost their focus and she quickly brought a hand to her face.

In anticipation, Mephisto reached over and pinched her nose shut before she could sneeze. Shura uttered a little sound of surprise. "Although I find the process of nasal relief rather amusing, my ferns beg to differ," he explained, and gestured toward the plants on the table and beside the desk. If you could really call them ferns; their pinkish hue suggested some sort of hideous Gehenna botanical decor. "They might get mad a third time, and I hate talking sense into them."

Shura looked perplexed (and a little outraged), as Mephisto still had her nose in his grasp. She spared another look at the ferns, unsure of whether to laugh or shout. By now she should have known that with Mephisto Pheles, anything was to be expected. Was it just her, or did those leaves look a trifle menacing? In the end Shura opted for a deep breath, as laughing might generate a coughing fit and shouting would undoubtedly hurt her already throbbing head.

With a smirk, Mephisto let go and settled back into his chair. His curlicue had started to droop in front of his eyes, so he swept it back with a hand. "I'd hate to report to the Vatican that they lost one of their best Meisters on the account of some irritable plants. Looks bad on my name, you know. So if you need to sneeze, Miss Kirigakure, please leave or stifle."

"Just look over the reports so I can leave," Shura snapped. The irremediable cold she had did little to improve her mood. She swiped a tissue under her nose, which made Mephisto curl up a lip in humored disgust.

"Although the mucus is something left to be desired."

"Shut up, Mephisto."

"I could turn into a schnauzer if it would make you feel better," he suggested offhandedly as he browsed through the reports. One hand rose to potentially snap for the transformation. "But the fleas, holy hell. And Blacky keeps chasing me."

"Why would turning into-and wait, Blacky...shouldn't it be the other way around?" Shura inquired despite her headache and chills. She was breathing slowly, through her mouth, as an effort to keep from coughing or sneezing.

"Don't girls like puppies and what not? And if you recall Blacky was Fujimoto's cat back in the day, so he remembers me," Mephisto shrugged. "Now, just one thing about this report. You say here that Okumura Yukio used his range weapon on Rin? Again?"

Shura sighed wearily. "Apparently Rin found one of the secret chambers under the boiler room and set the Gorgon loose," she replied.

"Ah. And while she's in hibernation, too."

"Why do we even have a Gorgon in this school?"

"Trust me, Miss Kirigakure, we have a lot worse."

Shura couldn't argue with that, so she merely sighed again. Those pink ferns seemed to be mocking her, daring her to make a sound. What she really wanted was to curl up with some brandy-laced tea, a battoujutsu magazine, and a double-dose of NyQuil. And possibly contemplate the slow and painful murder of whichever Exwire had given her this damn cold.

Mephisto seemed to pick up on the general idea of her thoughts. He had a curious way of doing that, and of making it look like your inner musings were the most obvious things in the world to him. "Ready to retire?" he asked, eyeing the tissue box. It was mostly empty. "I could walk you back."

"I don't need a chaperone," Shura glared, rubbing her temples. "I'm perfectly fine."

"Yes, yes, I know you still don't trust me. But the first rule of being perfectly fine is being able to say the word 'fine' correctly, am I wrong?" Mephisto teased jocosely, grabbing his top hat and gaudy white mantle from the coat rack behind him.

Shura didn't appreciate True Cross's principal making fun of her congestion. "You know I'm in the next building over, Mephisto."

Mephisto adjusted his hat and rose, dismissing the remark. "In all honesty, True Cross isn't as safe as it used to be," he admitted. "We can thank our new students for that. If something were to happen, with you as sick as you are-" his eyes fell to her loose shirt and pale features-"I doubt things would bode well. Eins, zwei, drei!"

Shura had only seen his schnauzer form a select few times. Some of the students occasionally wondered why a dog with a spotted bandanna was roaming the corridors, but thankfully most of them overlooked the Vatican patch on the pooch's collar. Hellhound indeed. It was undoubtedly cute; Shura had to remind herself that the little white dog was really a centuries-old demon spawn of Satan. Still, it was quite fluffy.

She squawked in surprise as the schnauzer bumped its nose against her hand and gave it a quick lap with its tongue.

"Consider yourself lucky," Mephisto told her as he hopped down from the desk and padded his way to the door. "I don't generally lick humans."

"Lucky me, I get to be blessed with dog spit."

"You don't get to be blessed with anything. I'm a demon."

She could never win. He was a smooth-talker, clever, and always the verbal victor when it came to banter. Shura draped her cardigan tighter around her torso and eased herself out of the chair. Almost as soon as they had left Mephisto's office, she started sneezing again.

Mephisto spared a glance up at her. "I'm guessing spring colds are rather unpleasant," he noted conversationally.

"You think?" Shura croaked, kicking a stone ruefully from her path.

"Yes. Fujimoto used to get them all the time."

Shura paused. "Shirou did?"

The schnauzer dipped its head. "At first I thought he'd gotten mashou, so I tried to give him the radish-onion and rock salt cure. Naturally, that didn't go very well."

Shura could only imagine. The beeswax, Vaseline, and lard was cringe-worthy even if you didn't have mashou. "You really are an idiot."

"Now now, that's no way to talk to your superior, is it?"

"It's hard to take you seriously when you look like that," she countered with a sniffle. A minute later Mephisto returned to his original form with a light poof, and Shura realized that they had arrived at her quarters.

"Thank you for delivering your report on time, Miss Kirigakure," Mephisto said with a bow, "and I sincerely hope that you are feeling better soon. Binge drinking with Amaimon is never any fun."

"That makes two of us then," Shura grumbled in response to his first statement. She dug around in her corduroy pants for her keys, longing for the warm welcome her bed would bestow upon her momentarily.

"And if I see any Exwire in the hospital with grave injuries, I'll know why," Mephisto added brightly. He took her hand and placed what felt like a candy into it. "Good night. Eins zwei, drei!"

Once in the comfort of her own quarters, Shura collapsed into her bed. She didn't even bother changing out of her clothes. Her hand was still curled around what the principal had given her, and, more tentatively than she would have liked to, she opened her fingers. It was a little mint lozenge of the sorts, although the wrapper looked like something you'd find at a candy stand rather than a pharmacy. There was a little cartoon face of Mephisto himself on the front. FAUSTEN EISBONBONS, the wrapper read. GOOD FOR THE THROAT!

Losing her family at an early age had spared Shura the "don't take candy from strangers" lesson, but nonetheless she tossed the mint into the trash bin (which was overflowing in a crumpled flood of used tissues) and went to go wash up.

That was the one thing about demons. Especially the ones of older and more powerful ilks who knew the ways of Assiah; you never knew if they were actually being genuine or just messing with you because they were insanely bored. They were gentlemanly, sure, but they were prevarication reincarnated; you could never tell their true intentions. Mephisto claimed to be using Rin as means of bringing peace to both Assiah and Gehenna, but there was also a little nagging voice in the back of Shura's mind that reminded her that demons always lie. In the stories, Faust wagered his soul against the Devil, but would Mephisto really do the same thing? Or was he just building up power to overthrow Satan and take the place of ruler himself?

Ah, it hurt her head too much to think about. Shura pulled a sweater over her head and tried not to imagine a world run by Mephisto. Images of Candyland and bankrupt dentists came to mind, which made her grimace. Yet this evening, despite all of the annoyances, he had distracted her from the cold. Even if it was for a little while.

Somewhere from outside, Shura thought she could hear a faint, "No, Blacky!" and she couldn't help but grin.


Author's note: First Ao no Exorcist fic! I just wanted to have Shura and Mephisto talk about random things; this was an experiment just to see what I could do with the characters since it's my first time writing them. As two of the most laid-back characters in the show aside from Fujimoto, and certainly two of the most playful in terms of personality, I find their interactions amusing. I don't ship them, but I can totally see them trying to mess with each other.

My descriptions and such are based on Ao no Exorcist Wiki, the anime, and the manga panels of Mephisto's office. Also, I'm having Shura speak normally. I know she's supposed to have some form of yakuza-like slang, but the vernacular the translations give her really annoys me. And yes, I'm having Mephisto refer to Bon as "bon-bon," since I thought it appropriate with his affinity for sweets.

For some reason the song Start Wearing Purple comes to mind when writing Mephisto...