Fic: Morning Coffee (Leon/Aeris) Title: Morning Coffee Authors:pegunicent and tripoverhercats Characters: Leon and Aeris Fandom: Kingdom Hearts Theme Set: LW4 Theme(s): Coffee Warnings and Notes: None, just coffee. Takes place during the early days of Traverse Town
Leon was a moderately light sleeper. That meant, in essence, that once flat he was out and he stayed that way until either his internal alarm went off or something woke him. He was also a paranoid sleeper so he was *more* dangerous unconscious than he was wide awake, because he'd react before checking the level of threat in his vicinity. Yuffie had taken to calling him 'Mr. Stabby' after trying to sneak past him a few too many times. Better to walk normally and let his instincts track you as a low level threat, then try and be quiet and set off all the alarm bells, because without a pot of coffee in his gut he was more beast than man.
Aeris was, if given a chance, a deep sleeper and snorer at heart. Since coming to Traverse Town she'd been sharing rooms with others, lately Yuffie and it hadn't taken the younger girl long to figure out that you had to poke Aeris to get her to turn over and stop snoring. Aeris for her part had become resigned to sleeping on her side, or waking up with little bruises on her hip from where Yuffie had thumped her. But she had developed an internal alarm clock that generally had her rolling out of bed at least five minutes before the little bell on the bedside clock went off, which she silenced out of long habit. Yuffie would just try to clobber the poor thing with a mumble of 'five more minutes' anyways.
Curled on his side under a threadbare quilt on Aeris's couch, he noted the sound of movement, marked it a low level priority, and remained unconscious. Cid had, for whatever sadistic reason, dropped him off at the woman's house again with the firm order to pass out on something resembling a soft surface, possibly with the ulterior motive of making sure the boy ate something. Granted, Leon hadn't put up anything like a fight over the arrangement, but he'd been too worn out from working sixteen straight hours on dry walling ceilings to care about where he passed out.
Aeris slipped into a dress and buttoned it up in front of her small dresser and snagged hairbrush and ribbon before leaving the bedroom, shutting the door and pausing at the small entryway into the kitchen, looking at the darkened main room and the lump still on the sofa. Still here, which meant he was probably at the 'sleep himself out' point. Considering how close they were to actually being able to spread out into more houses... and a chance at real privacy... well, she couldn't blame him for working all hours. She'd been putting in a few herself, though she was more of a 'here hold this' or 'sort that out' type than banging things into place. She slipped into the kitchen and checked the coffee canister... low but certainly enough to provide for a few more morning wake-ups. She set the carafe under the tap and shook out grounds into the percolator, (Cid kept promising a more modern maker, but the percolator was still usable) and sat down to get her hair in order before looking at the food stores.
Waking was a process, first accomplished by getting vertical which took a lot of prodding from the stomach and frontal lobe before he rose from the depths of sleep to achieve it. Once up he had to take stock of his surrounding environment, which he idly noted as Aeris's living room, and then ascertain the closest source of caffeine. Shambling over to source of life blood, he had to wake further to logically deduce the whereabouts of the cups, the necessity of putting down his boot knife in order to handle cup and percolator, and then the pouring of coffee into the cup without spillage. Once this was all done he could cradle the cup like a lost child and proceed to retain his humanity one slow sip at a time.
Aeris grinned and shook her head a bit at Leon as he half stumbled around the kitchen. There wasn't much use talking to him when he was sleep blurred. Or rather there wasn't much use trying to get coherent conversation out of the man, not until the caffeine had worked it's way into his system. Aeris had begun to learn how to interpret his vocalizations and stares though. She gave the morning oatmeal a stir and offered him a cheerful "Good morning, did you sleep well?"
He blinked at the voice, staring at her until the noises made a form of sense. "Hnn." He wasn't a morning person by nature, it was just that the morning was the earliest time to get up to get work done, and he was a work person. Leaning back wards against a wall he communed with his coffee and waited for the portions of his brain responsible for socialization to come back on line.
Raising a brow at the response, Aeris readjusted the breakfast menu a bit, he'd probably want some protein. She had a few eggs - hardboiled to last longer - left over, so she dug them out and added them next to the small fruit bowl on the table. "Well, that's good," she said to him, choosing to interpret the grumble as 'why, yes, I slept very well, thank you', "you're in luck, we have butter today and sugar." She gave the oatmeal a final stir before ladling out two bowls and covering the rest fro when Yuffie woke up.
Tilting his head to the side a bit he tried to muddle through why he would care about either of those products, as neither were supposed to be put in coffee. After a moment's consideration he relegated the subject to some nebulous region of his brain marked 'civilian things' and promptly ignored it, refilling his cup. Half way through the second dose of blessed mana he started in on the eggs, slicing one into irregular bites and adding it to the bowl of oatmeal presented to him. The food had to wait until he'd finished his coffee to gain any further attention.
Aeris swallowed a breath of laughter as she watched him dump one of the eggs into his oatmeal. "Well, that's not something I've ever tried before," she said as she dropped butter and a spoon of the dark sugar into her bowl. "I suppose that beats dunking them in your coffee though. Though that might be a hangover remedy... coffee with egg. Probably a raw egg..." she chatted at him, waiting to see when his brain finally clicked into gear. "... salt, maybe a dash of that hot sauce that takes a layer of your tongue off when you eat it..."
"You don't pollute coffee heathen." He muttered, sliding his cup away from her even though it was empty. Food was food, if it went down and stayed there it was good enough for him but coffee was *sacred*.
Aha, actual words! Though that might just be instinctive reflex. "Pollute? Here I thought you were just being thrifty with rationing," Aeris responded, giving her oatmeal a stir and taking a quick bite. "You don't put anything at all in? Cream, sugar, little cinnamon flakes?" Her mother had loved to grind bits of cinnamon into the coffee.
He blinked at her a few times and snorted. "No." he wasn't sure what cinnamon was but he was certain it didn't belong in coffee. The only thing that belonged in coffee was *coffee*. Digging into his own breakfast he barely noted the texture and the bland taste. There was the idle thought of hot sauce, but he was fairly sure they were out until the next supply shipment came in. "It's *coffee*." he said, as if it was obvious that nature had made the stuff absolutely perfect on it's own.
"Well, yes, it is coffee. So you're saying you've never brewed a pot triple strength (which she knew he did on a regular basis if she failed to beat him to the pot) and then poured it into a cup of boiling hot milk with swirls of caramel and peppermint and served in a teeny little glass with a doily? All the rage you know, I'm sure once the cafe here stops finally being a soup kitchen, it'll be serving them all the time!" Not that she thought they would, but the idea was amusing as anything.
He actually stopped chewing to grimace at her. Swallowing he stood, poured himself another cup, and gave her a steady glare. "*No*. That's not coffee, that's a polluted frouf drink made for civilians with weak stomachs afraid of acid reflux." Holding his cup to him he sat and started mechanically eating again, making sure to keep the coffee well out of the range of the mad woman.
"I like my stomach lining and tooth enamel though," Aeris teased. "And there's still coffee in there. You can even order it decaffeinated." She grinned at him and took another bite of her breakfast. Not that she'd ever do that to him, the prank value of switching out his coffee for decaf held some amusement, but she'd end being a very long time trying to recover his trust... no, hide the man's boots.... get him to run the punch bowl at a party... but she wasn't about to tamper with his coffee.
"...decaffeinated." he stared at her blankly, the neurons firing but failing to connect. "There's no *point*. It's... Civilians..." he nodded and firmly placed the whole, bizarre conversation over into the 'civilians are a special sort of insane' category. He would never understand them, he could only hope their madness wasn't contagious and try to keep them from self destructing from their own failings. He took a fortifying sip of his own coffee.
"Well, of course there's a point. People who like to drink coffee but don't like all the jitters. Or acid. Which is why they pour milk and sugar into it. So it's sweet, creamy and doesn't wake them up at all." She pointed out sweetly. "Though I use a nice relaxing tea instead. Saves on rations, not trying to get two kinds of coffee for the kitchen. Though if I manage to get cinnamon, you should try it. Doesn't hurt the coffee, and adds some nice flavor to it."
: He gave her a nonplussed look. "I'd rather have hot sauce." If they were going to ruin the coffee, they might as well just drink something else. Leave the poor coffee alone.
She wrinkled her nose at him, "That's for the hangover recipe, remember?" Aeris replied, scraping the bowl to get at the last bits of her breakfast. It was hard trying to figure out what Leon actually liked to eat (other than coffee, plain and black and strong as a chocobo's kick) and getting him to notice anything other than *food to be eaten* was a challenge. *Everybody* had something they liked, she just hadn't found it yet. "Well, I suppose if we get a tin of cocoa in the next shipment, we can try the cinnamon in that and see if you like it."
He blinked and cocked his head, a faint memory stirring. "Cocoa. Hot chocolate served with milk and marshmallows during the winter months." he vaguely recalled matron serving him and the other kids something like that, though he couldn't recall the taste or the feel of it. He'd been getting memories back slowly, a by-product of loosing his GF's, but many of the things he recalled were fragments. Facts more than sensations. Like looking at old photographs he could see what had been but couldn't place any emotion or context to the images. Most of the time he didn't bother to examine the memories too closely. He hadn't minded sacrificing them, he didn't particularly want them back now.
Aeris nodded, "Good for warming you up after a long day without dumping too many stimulants into you. I suppose it's a luxury item now," she replied. "I think I've got enough barter saved up for asking for some, it'd be a nice thing to unwind with." Now that she was thinking of it, she wondered why she hadn't asked before. Coffee and tea were of course on the head of the list for beverages, along with milk and juices, but she'd never thought to ask for cocoa to be added to the mix. "It's even good with a little splash of something... extra. For that very hard day." That she could rely on Cid to get, the man saved all his extra barter for cigarettes and a bottle or two of alcohol.
"Hn." he wasn't sure what she meant to add to the drink, but he hoped it wasn't whiskey. It didn't even sound right. Finishing up his bowl and taking it over to the sink to clean, he finished his coffee and rinsed the cup as well. "Tell me if you need anything." his own supplies were, well, sparse. What food he got usually came from someone else’s kitchen, or from the rations the King dropped off that no one else claimed. All the items and strange coins he gathered from the heartless he destroyed were either passed off to the moogles, or tossed in the town coffer, with a small cache hidden away in the sewers for emergencies. He had three sets of clothes, his weapons, and the only items he ever asked for on the supply drops were potions and ethers, both of which were divvied up between the townsfolk with the majority going to those with magical talents and the fighters. No matter how often the King reminded him he was allowed to ask for personal things, he just couldn't *think* of anything he needed or wanted. One bottle of whisky could last him a good few months the way he drank it.
Aeris smiled up at him, "I've pretty much got *needs* met." She told Leon. "It's the *wants* that are slowly starting to creep back in." Little things still, but Aeris wanted to acquire those little things that changed her life from 'just surviving' to ' moving ahead'. "I could probably come up with a list as long as your leg of things but... cocoa is a good start."
"Cocoa?" A still sleepy voice mumbled from the door as Yuffie looked in and blinked at the two adults. "Ya mean like real cocoa with fluffly stuff? Not that icky nasty mud that 'dolts drink?"
"That's adults, Yuffie," Aeris chided gently.
"S'what I said..."
He gave the child a glance, scooping out a bowl of oatmeal for her since he was standing right there and pocketing his boot knife while he was at it. "Here." Setting the bowl on the table he walked over to the couch and reclaimed his gunblade. "Thank you for breakfast." It was morning, he was officially awake, and things wouldn't get done on their own
"You're welcome Leon, anytime," Aeris replied, getting up to put her own bowl in the sink and giving Yuffie's hair a muss as the girl climbed up into her chair and proceeded to make faces at her breakfast. "Even if we don't end up getting cocoa, come back for coffee whenever you like."
"Eww... that's just gross." Though whether Yuffie was commenting on her breakfast, or the thought of drinking *icky nasty coffee* the girl didn't elaborate.
He nodded, slinging his blade over his shoulder and walking out the door, closing it behind him with a soft click. Yuffie sort of reminded him of Selphie sometimes, when she wasn't deliberately trying to annoy him. He'd be back, after all, this was his town now. Where else would he go?
Aeris turned after he left and gave Yuffie a smile and second hair tousling. "One day Yuffie, you won't find coffee so icky anymore."
The horrified look the little girl turned on Aeris made the woman grin. "Never! Coffee is the grossest thing ever!"
"Grosser than even boys?"
"Yes! No... wait! Um... "
"One day you might like them too." Really, it was too easy to tease Yuffie that way, Aeris thought as the girl made gagging noises over her oatmeal.
Coffee and boys... needs and wants... but she didn't think she had enough saved up yet for that...