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Leon had gained his love of coffee (well, it was more of a necessity, in those days) back when he was still Squall. It was the thing which had made it possible to fall out of bed at unreasonable hours, pick up a gunblade, and go and kill things for ... well, mostly for profit (it was only occasionally fun) for far too many hours of the day and weeks of the year. Or alternatively, to fall out of bed at unreasonable hours and spend far too many hours of the day attempting to hammer the bare basics of how to use a blade without slicing off either your own limbs, or those of your sparring partner, into the minds of reluctant children, before letting them loose in controlled groups against either the grats in the Training Area, or a carefully shepherded group of low-level bite bugs just outside Garden. The point was, SeeD positively ran on the stuff - there was a rumour there'd been a temporary shortage in Galbadia Garden at one stage, and the entire place had nearly rioted. They'd needed to import the beans from Trabia at about five times the normal cost.

Garden coffee was frightening to connoisseurs of the drink. Dark black, strong enough to hold a spoon upright, and containing more caffeine than any sane person should be willing to contemplate.

Cloud, meanwhile, had been trained up on the stuff labelled as coffee which was served to Radiant Garden's grunt troopers. To hear him describe it, the stuff was a horrifying cocktail of watery ink, old motor oil, battery acid and reactor waste which had been the side effect of one of the less successful experiments of either the Shinra biological science department, or Ansem's corps of apprentices. Its only virtue lay in the way it managed the process of booting a trooper from "dead to the world" to "fully functional" within the space of one cup; if only because the thought of imbibing a second was often too terrifying to consider. (Cid had confirmed Cloud hadn't been exaggerating. "Whyja think I prefer tea?" he asked, cocking an eyebrow in Leon's direction).

Then Cloud had been unwillingly handed the SOLDIER enhancements. These days, SeeD coffee was the only damn thing strong enough to penetrate the mako. Even Tifa's hardest and best "knock-'em-flat" cocktails barely made an impact on Cloud's overly buffed metabolism, but Leon's coffee could get Cloud from "comatose" through "zombified" to "working his way up the evolutionary chain toward vaguely human" by the end of the second cup. By the third cup, he could even hold a conversation (or at least, so Leon claimed, anyway).

Point being, when either Leon or Cloud made the coffee, the rest of the Restoration Committee knew to leave the pot alone. In fact, there had been strong demands made to ensure what they deemed sufficient warning of this eventuality.

So Yuffie already knew she was in trouble good and deep when Leon turned to her, and very calmly, very quietly asked her, "Yuffie, did you leave the lid off the coffee pot?"

"I might've done," she confessed, biting her lip.

Leon cast an eye over his shoulder, at the over-amped Gullwings who were busy flittering about in hyperactive patterns around the interior of Merlin's workshop. Every so often there was a crash, and depending on who it was who'd caused it, either a high-pitched giggle (Rikku), a very sincere-sounding apology (Yuna) or a rather sulfurous curse (Payne). Already the tea-set was in ruins, and Merlin was not going to be happy with the idea of removing the coffee-stained footprints (even if they were only fairy-sized) from the ceiling. Or the walls. Or the spines of his entire library, his bed linens, his spare clothes, most of the artwork on the walls, and the carpets. Leon turned back to Yuffie.

"You might have?"

"Just a little bit..."

Leon cast another look at the Gullwings. From the level of the coffee pot, they'd each drunk the equivalent of a normal, human-sized cup. Or drenched themselves in it. Possibly both.

"I'msorryLeonWedidn'tmeantoRikkuthoughtitwasteabecausewecouldliftthelid!" blurted Yuna as she skittered by at shoulder level.

Leon cocked an eyebrow in Yuffie's direction.

"Oops?" offered the ninja, looking penitent. She cringed slightly, waiting to hear what her punishment would be. There'd been an ancient ruler of Wutai whose motto had been all about making the punishment fit the crime, and at times, Yuffie swore Leon had been studying up on the guy.

"First, you get to catch the Gullwings, and get them washed off," Leon said.

A high-pitched snarl came from the vague area in the room Payne was presumably occupying.

"Then you get to clean up the mess," he added.

There was a cracking noise, followed by a giggle, as Rikku smashed into a window pane at full speed and bounced off.

"As well as fixing up the damage," Leon carried on regardless.

The final teacup from Merlin's teaset shattered. "Sosorry!" came Yuna's slightly dopplered apology.

Well, thought Yuffie, that didn't sound too bad. Sure, a caffeinated and irritated Payne could be worse than an angry hornet, but big puppy eyes in Aerith's direction ought to fix the puncture wounds. Fixing up the mess would be bothersome, but do-able, and repairing Merlin's tea set would be a chance to practice that repair spell she'd found in the library last month. She just about had it right, she was pretty sure.

"... then," Leon continued, "you get to explain to Cloud why the last of the coffee isn't drinkable."

Explain to Cloud... "Wait, what?" Yuffie asked. "What do you mean 'the last of the coffee'?"

"I mean," Leon said, still sounding thoroughly calm and thoroughly reasonable, "that we're waiting for a new shipment of beans in from Destiny Island, and Sora just sent a message he can't get here until the end of the week. Exams."

Oh crap. The only thing worse than Cloud with no coffee was...

"And you can finish up your punishment by explaining the same thing to Sephiroth."

Yuffie gulped. Well, look on the bright side, Yuffster, she thought to herself as she headed off to her doom. If he decides to go all Heartless Angel on you, at least his aim without coffee is less reliable...