Pairing: Okamoto Keito / Yamada Ryosuke
Warnings: None in particular
Summary: Yamada Ryosuke has a good life. It stays 'good'. Until he finds out an eccentric guy drinking Macchiato on the corner of his sight.
Notes: This was my exchange fic, beta-ed by awesome the_fey_girl11 thank you W for being sooooooo loyal and helpful! Kudos ❤
If someone lives long enough in London, they know today isn’t the brightest day. Overcast skies, yet saying that rain will fall is a bit too soon because the weather forecast sometimes fails nowadays due to extreme climate change. But a thing like this won’t affect anything in the slightest as at a corner of a London suburb, three people are cheerfully starting the new day, not minding the chill air.
Nobody really comes to Takaki's coffee shop when it's 9 a.m., the time when usually Inoo and Yamada just finished with their cleaning session. It’ll take thirty minutes, at least, to have their first customer. But today is different. The slight tinkling of the bell is heard and a blond guy appears from the main door, five minutes right after Yamada flipped the sign to: WE ARE OPEN.
A new guest is the first thing that crossed Yamada’s mind. As he walks toward the counter, Yamada sees him full-on for the first time. Average height, small Asian eyes, muscular arms inside his short sleeve plain black shirt, and even though his look is just so British, yet the three of them immediately suspect he's Japanese.
"One Hot Espresso Macchiato, please"
"Oh, please wait a moment." Yamada replies just as polite.
The guy spreads a humble smile, proceeding to sit on a corner sofa, right beside the glass window where one can see pedestrians. While putting the beans into the maker, Yamada steals a glance at him. Truthfully speaking, even if Takaki built this shop with a mix of British and Japanese modern style, the Japanese themselves rarely show up at this place. Most of their customers are locals who desperately want to experience Japanese taste. And contrary to being in Japan, seeing someone with the same nationality as him feels like something new here.
Yamada handles the preparation while still eyeing his customer. The guy looks like a mystery. He doesn’t know exactly why, but it just feels like that. His smile was so friendly back then, yet there’s something strange at how he looks up to see such cloudy skies. Like there’s something magnetic about gloomy weather that he can’t resist.
"Hey boy," Takaki whispers on the chibi ear. “Observing someone secretly can be considered a crime. It’s spelled as s-t-a-l-k-i-n-g.”
"W-what?! You scared me!!" He cursed under his breath, immediately averting his eyes from the current sight.
"You can't fool me. I have this sixth sense to guess that you’re just falling in love."
"What?! You say what?! Falling in love, you baka! Who? Me? Huh?"
“Then why do you keep gazing at him? I know you aren’t the type who cares much about strangers.” Takaki tells, even if Yamada knows it himself.
“I’m just curious okay? We have 1:50 ratio that a Japanese will visit our place. So I’m just wondering. It’s not something as bullshit as falling in love. I don’t believe in love at the first sight in the first place. Don’t be such a romantic, you failed cupid.”
"Why not? You're just a desperate single. No partner ever since you came here, three years ago, like c'mon, life is too short to only masturbate with your hands."
"That's right." Inoo adds, bringing freshly baked cake from their kitchen, putting it on top of the display pantry. "Aside from healthy stuff, you should just find someone to hang out together, to take care of you." He slices the strawberry shortcake and shoves a piece in his own mouth.
“Oh Inoo thanks for your helpful advice.”
“I just want you to be with someone.” Inoo defends, sighing in frustration. “Or else you should say sorry to your parents because they gave you that handsome face yet you do nothing with it.”
"True. Goshhhh Yamachan, don't you know how irritating it was whenever you always follow me and Inoo?!" Takaki whined, slides his strong left arm around Inoo's shoulders. "We need some privacy!"
"Hey! I only messed up your date twice! And once because we accidentally met on the street!"
The brunet guy shrugs.
"You guys have privacy far more than enough."
"There there, a desperate ojiisan starts envying my love life." Yamada is ready to kick Takaki, but the sound of his coffee maker hints the preparation is done. So instead of wasting his time looking at Takaki who's currently lip-locking with Inoo (yes omg get a room), Yamada pours the order into one grande cup.
"Hit on him." Takaki cheered, quietly.
"Stupid!" He stomps down to the only customer's table.
Yes. Yamada admits that maybe he is different. No, it isn't maybe. He is different. And that's what makes him friends with Takaki and Inoo. Because they share the same interests. The same fates that only few people understand. However, it doesn't mean that he's someone who easily falls in love at first sight. He even doesn't believe in such myth. Not at all. Some of their previous guests even made a move on him, but he refused to exchange more than a couple of sentences with them. He isn't someone who'll spread his arms just because they're good looking.
"Here's your order. One Hot Espresso Macchiato."
The guy breaks his eyes from the sky view, looking at Yamada, smiling. "Thank you."
The clouds slowly break apart, and the sunshine slants yellow through the window beside them, reflecting on the customer's fair skin, caught on his brown hair. So transparent. Thus Yamada identifies small freckles on the guy’s neck.
"This is delicious. You brewed them just right."
“Ah sorry, you’re Japanese, right?” Yamada apologized due to his reflex speaking Japanese.
The guy stares at Yamada for a while, and giggles. “I was surprised you guess it right. But, well, that must be because you’re also Japanese. It’s very nice to finally be able to speak my mother language here. There's nobody from Japan in my campus.”
Yamada shrugs like it isn’t a big deal. And even though he is supposed to stand behind the counter, he stays there.
“This place is cozy, though. Are you the owner?”
“Nope.” Yamada shakes his head. “That Amber-haired guy is the owner.” He points out to Takaki, and both of them look back to the counter. And, damnit. Why should Takaki and Inoo act all flirty right now? Having coffee from the same cup? C’mon. They aren’t even teenagers anymore even though Takaki’s mindset is an actual five year old kid. And worse, it flips their small conversation into an awkward tension.
“Oh, they’re pretty much enjoying their world.” The customer snorts, sarcasm in between. “I quite envy them.”
“Why? Because they remind you of your girlfriend?”
He looks up at Yamada, making a face. “I came here because of a broken heart. So you can say that I’m single now.”
“Seriously, though, you don’t have to.” He bursts out laughing. It’s interesting the way he changes dynamic on current circumstance. “I feel stupid for being so melodramatic. Who’ll escape to another city to heal their brokenheart. It’s a shame.”
“Well…” Yamada says, apparently concerned about this. “I did.”
“The very same as you. But it’s an old story. Could be enough time has passed that it doesn’t feel like a big deal anymore.” He confessed, feeling suddenly embarrassed.
“Really? So we both are those who understand about being deleted.”
“We’re not deleted. We’re just part of people's lives that actually just crossed away.” Yamada said, mostly to convince himself. “They can do what they want. And all we have to do is try to tell ourselves it didn’t matter. Nothing can’t be healed by time and fire.”
“Oh… that’s a pretty nice argument. I’m impressed.”
“Well, maybe you’re just surprised because this slipped out from a barista.”
“No, really, I’m amazed. It was like, one of the best moral supports I have received. From a barista.”
“That’s an honor.”
“And if your purpose is to make me feel better, please welcome me to the club.”
“Welcome to the club.”
Their smiles crept smoothly. It’s always been better for Yamada to speak Japanese with someone who understands rather than having a conversation with someone in English despite the fact that he’d already mastered it. He can go deeper, even though he admits that talking about heartbroken stuffs when they just met is a bit crossing line.
“You can sit there,” The guy gestures at the sofa across him. “It’s hard to go back to your place for now, right? I think your boss won’t like it. Better to leave them alone or you can be sort of dying over there.”
Yamada glances first, before finally accepting the offer. They are so close occasionally, making Yamada smell cedarwood permeating his senses, coming from the guy.
“Thanks for being a savior. I may sound like a bad employee but sometimes they really are annoying, y’know.”
“Well, all those hunny-bunny things.”
“Oh! I’ll tell that to him! Hey boss actually your employee right here—“
“Stop it!!!” Yamada quickly pulls at the customer’s wrist to stop him from talking. Takaki is clearly frowning, and to handle that, Yamada glues his thumb and index, shows him an ok sign. “Everything is okay, Takaki!”
The customer snorts and sips his coffee in triumph.
“I could lose my job because of you!” Yamada warned.
This time, the guy laughs louder, like seeing Yamada in trouble is fascinating. “You should treat me so I won’t tell.”
“What? Are you an extortionist? Damn. You look friendly but an actual meanie.”
“C’mon. A cup of coffee won’t hurt. Count it to make me forget about my terrible love story.”
“Shameless. Next time I should be careful of such guest.”
“What’s recommended here?”
“Truth is, I’m not really a huge fan of the real coffee. So, if you ask about my recommendation, it’ll be Latte Macchiato.”
“Creamy choice. Ok, I’ll take away.”
The guy hums in excitement, much more different from when he just stared at the clouds. They sit there like old friends, talking about trivial matters, and the conversation flows smoothly. Until Takaki calls Yamada since their shop starts getting crowded. And when the clock hits thirty minutes later, the customer walks to the counter.
“Ah, here’s your take away.” Yamada offered a brown paper cup. “One Latte Macchiato.”
“Thanks.” The guy offers his Pounds coins.
“I thought you said this is my treat?”
“I was kidding. Here’s the money. And the coffee, it’s for you.”
“Thanks for boosting my self-esteem. It helps in some way.”
Just like that, the guy leaves Yamada gaping, awestruck by his good fortune. He stands there for a full minute, not knowing what to do with the coffee in his hand. There’s another emotion melting inside him, something he hasn’t really expected. It has been a long time since he felt this way. Felt like… like he just figured out a new song and comfy with it. Felt like… click.
But the thing about being a coffee shop employee is, you can’t guarantee if the customer is loyal enough to visit you, again.
Yamada has managed it well enough to finally reach his flat. Today is unexpectedly hectic. An old granny came to their shop, brought her two grandsons who caked the floor. It took a long time to clean the mess, while pretending it was a casual thing. Of course, because they’re their customers. But still the soreness he got from that never left him. Backbone and shoulders. Damn. He really needs a good massage.
“Oh…” He looked up to his front door. Another name below his. “The landlord said my flat-mate will arrive today.”
His name is Okamoto.
Why has he found two Japanese in one day all of a sudden?
It’s peacefully odd inside as Yamada stepped in. A new lively aura fills the space on his supposed-to-be-lone dining table. Low fat milk. Apples and grapes. Crackers. He could guess his new flat mate loves snacking around. Most of the stuffs are healthy-life choices. So this one guy must care too much about his appearance.
On the floor, near his beige-colored sofa, there’s a guitar case. A guitarist, he thought to himself. Or at least, the new guy is able to play guitar. And at the moment, Yamada slowly creates a list of the songs he possibly comes up with.
“Oh, hi… I’m the new person.”
His eyes go wider when they finally catch each other’s eyes. And Yamada can tell it isn’t only him. The guy also shows the same surprised hint on his handsome face.
“Wait wait… you’re my flatmate?” Yamada tried to confirm.
“Yes. Oh my damn. I don’t know you live here. That must be a great coincidence.”
“Well of course, this is ridiculous. I mean, how is it possible?”
“Are we casting in a movie?” he laughs, the sound echoing in their shared house, cracking up. “But seriously, I feel happy because you’re the flat-mate. At least we won’t be as awkward as people who’d just met. And add to that, you exactly know the reason why I moved on.”
“Oh good. I don’t have to start with where I’m working and what time I’ll escape and back in weekdays. Now we just have to write down dos and donts lists to have mutual understanding.”
“Deal.” The guy offered his hand, asking for a shake. “I’m Okamoto. Okamoto Keito. You can just call me Keito btw.”
Yamada reached out, and their distance slowly melts. Hand-in-hand, wet after shower. Takaki told him, that the skin is probably the largest part of your body. Of course such theory wasn’t deducted by Takaki himself. He got it from a book. And that time Yamada thought it was silly, not proven. But maybe, maybe, his friend is right. Because when he has his first skinship with Keito right now, something stings him. From the palm, runs to the brain, to the tip of his toes. And when he inhales air, somewhere under the newly dust and dry wind, he can tell Keito’s previous cedarwood scent mostly fades away, replaced by the smell of fresh menthol shampoo.
“Yamada Ryosuke. If you want to ask something, just ask. But I won’t promise if I can help you to forget your past love that fast. Well I’ll try, but it depends on yourself.”
“Oh slow down. Now you cross the boundary too far. Let’s start with basics.”
“I fancy that.”
“But maybe some advices will do.”
Keito’s smile looks so crunchy.
He suddenly remembers Takaki’s words all at once. At one point, Yamada takes a proper look at Keito’s face, all sharp angles. He curves a smile, too. Feeling a new beginning starts surrounding them. But this time, if he’s really the rightest choice, then Yamada promises he won’t be in a rush. He just wants to be right, and let it be the loose start.