Title: Over Coffee

Rating: K+

Warning(s): None

Note(s): Like the summary suggests, this just going to be a collection of drabbles about Mikage, Ushio, and Kazama. There really be no coherent plot. Just them being great. This particular drabble is a sequel of sorts to Let's Get One Thing Straight, I'm Not. So this will not make any sense at all if you haven't read that. Other drabbles will also reference Incompetence (Kaede and Juro show up quite a bit, for your entertainment) and Rules - just a heads up.

"Almost all my middle-aged and elderly acquaintances, including me, feel about 25, unless we haven't had our coffee, in which case we feel 107."

Martha Beck

Mikage used to hate coffee; it tasted bitter and was, if made poorly (which it usually was), disgustingly grainy. Yet, just a few short months after being promoted to head of the special investigations sector, it had become her life line. She had been able to handle the early mornings and late nights on her own for awhile, but eventually, she had to rely on the caffeinated drink to get her through the day.

Tonight, however, Mikage had been especially dependent on it. She and Ushio had not been home for the past couple of days, save a couple two-hour visits to shower and change. The reason? A mysterious duelist, aptly named "Ghost" because he seemed to disappear without a trace before Security could ever reach the scene, was forcing random D-Wheelers into a duel that typically resulted in a violent crash. There had (thankfully) been no fatalities yet, but the Ghost case was still their first priority - even above the Riding Roid prototype that had gone missing a month or so earlier. Yet, even after several all-nighters, she and Ushio still had no leads.

Mikage yawned, pouring what had to be her twentieth cup that weekend. Her typically gold irises were glazed over, and were now a more yellowish, sickly color. Dark bags were painted under eyes, and her hair was slightly disheveled. She sighed as she brought the rim of the warm mug to her lips, quietly sipping her addiction. She made a face and placed the hot drink down; even now, she hated the taste.

"Yeah, I don't like coffee myself much, either."

Mikage looked up in surprise, not expecting anyone else to be around at this late hour. Or early hour. Actually, she had lost track of time yesterday (or was it today?)

"Kazama-san," she regarded politely. Kazama had only recently joined Special Investigations; he had previously been a patrol officer (once even being partners with Ushio), until a certain incident occurred and Mikage thought it wise to have him moved into her department. So far, she had not regretted her decision. He was friendly enough, and worked harder than most of the members of Special Investigations (Kaede and Juro immediately came to mind). The young male officer grinned.

"Hey, chief," he replied, also pouring himself a cup. Mikage's eyelids fell slightly.

"If you don't like it, then why are you drinking it?" she asked dryly.

"Same reason you are, I guess," he said with a shrug. "Anyway. You look like you haven't slept in days. Still nothing on Ghost?"

"No," she replied flatly. "Ushio and I have been re-visting the scenes over and over again, going through records of hundred of former criminals and still... nothing." Kazama nodded in understanding.

"Yeah, I haven't had much luck with finding anything on the missing Riding Roid since you and Ushio passed the case on to me, either." He paused and look of shame crossed his eyes for a brief moment. "Speaking of which, where is Ushio?"

"Sleeping in my office," she replied. "He's been awake for 24 hours, at least. I insisted he take a nap."

"I see," he said, amused. "And when was the last time you slept?"

"I... " She looked dumbfounded. She pursed her lips in thought, cradling her mug in her delicate hands. "I don't know, honestly. I feel like I've been running on nothing but this God-awful stuff for weeks." Kazama chuckled.

"Cheers to that," he said, holding his mug up toward her. She couldn't help but crack a smile. She held up her mug, too, and the two ceramic pieces clicked together. The sound was hollow in the empty lounge.

"And to another week of not sleeping," she replied sounding, for the first time in a long time, playful.

Comment(s): Mikage and Kazama just need to be best friends, OK?