The first time he had been there, Kyoutani was very annoyed with the whole deal.
First of all, because he wasn’t a fucking errand boy.
Tanaka had asked him to go pick up some kind of pastry for Ennoshita, but he wasn’t a fucking errand boy .
He wanted to write this somewhere, preferably with characters high as a person and in fucking red spray paint. He might have thought about writing it on the wall in front of Tanaka’s apartment. It was also possible he even had the spray paint necessary to write it.
It was possible that if Tanaka hadn’t been a very dear friend of his, he might have written the thing on the wall, but they were friends and good ones too.
Hence why he was speed-walking under the rain without an umbrella - he had forgotten his own at work, fuck - toward the “ Magical Leafs ” tea room.
The place was hidden in a narrow alley, squished between two high buildings, but the entrance was nicely decorated, in a minimal kind of way. Just the hand-painted sign on the windowpane and a whiteboard in which the word “ Open ” made his appearance on the door.
He opened it in a cacophony of small, tingling bells, and the soft natural light and warmth of the tea room welcomed him.
It was such a harsh contrast compared to the cold rain from outside that he stood there in the middle of the entrance, dumbfounded, for a few moments, dripping water on the doormat.
Inside, small tables were placed here and there, around a high counter behind which several kettles were boiling and the most amazing display of pastries showed itself in all his sugary, chocolatey glory. It was what one would describe as a sugar-high festival.
All the kind of cookies one could desire were there. Cakes, rolls, and soft, baked goods left in the air that warm smell of home and warm and soft.
But above that, overwhelming, the scent of spices and herbs overpowered that of the sweets, without being nauseating, weirdly.
It was like stepping inside the cabinet of that weird, welcoming grandma of yours that always fed you herbal teas but made sure you had buttery shortbread cookies to sweeten it.
He was still deeply irritated with the whole situation, but the whole place made him feel less annoyed if that could be a thing.
A few people passed in between the tables, serving cups and pastries to the customers.
Kentarou wasn’t here to get tea, despite how tempting the idea was.
He went to the counter and after a few moments, a bartender appeared behind with a few steaming pots hovering in a neat line before himself.
With a quick movement of his left wrist, the lids came off. He lifted his right hand and one of the kettles lifted from the stove, pouring hot water in the pots. With another flick of his wrist, the empty kettle went on the counter, and the lids went back on each pot.
After that, the guy rearranged them neatly on a tray as if it was the most normal of things.
The most wonderful thing though was the expression on the guy’s face as he did all that.
Under the light bangs falling on his face, there was a soft smile, just that hint of lips quirked up that conveyed the utmost, relaxed disposition.
Warmth. That's what Kentarou felt looking at the bartender guy.
He seemed like the kind of person that could warm up a room just by smiling, but not an unpleasant kind of warmth. It was that warm feeling of covers cocooning you up in their embrace, the warmth of hot tea warming you from inside out, the warmth of a tight hug from your mother.
And he was kind of gorgeous too, which didn't hurt, of course.
Kyoutani felt kind of warm and starstruck. He probably looked very dumb too, but that was a fact he'd examine later.
Right now, looking at the guy seemed like a marvelous thing in itself. Talking to him seemed impossible, outrageous, how can one just talk to such a person? How did one talk honestly?
Anyway, he'd have to say something at some point. The guy was looking at him expectantly now that he had finished preparing all the teapots.
The guy smiled, probably with the intent to encourage him to talk.
When Kentarou just stayed silent, he just shrugged, walking with the tray full of teapots toward tables and customers.
He was leaving him to think about what he wanted.
On a conscious level, Kentarou knew this. It was normal behavior for a clerk. When your customers can't decide, give them some more time to think and get to work on something else.
On a very emotional level, he felt robbed of the presence of the guy.
He watched him as he set teapots on tables and chatted up customers with a warm, charming smile.
Kentarou felt a bit hot on his ears, flustered and bothered all at once.
He wanted to talk to the guy but also didn't want to really.
It was all Tanaka's fault in the end.
If he hadn't asked him to retrieve pastries for Ennoshita he'd never come in that place.
He took out his receipt with the name above the order and slammed it on the counter.
He did it in purpose.
The guy flashed him with an irritated look, and Kyoutani felt satisfaction wash over him.
Nice. Now they were on equal footing. He could work with irritation.
With the tray empty under his arm, the guy walked back to the counter, look at him in the eye, swept up the receipt in one movement and left again for the backdoor that presumably brought to the laboratory.
Nice. Fucking nice. No words. He didn't have to feel flustered if the good-looking guy was an asshole.
There was a voice that sounded annoyingly like Ennoshita's in his mind telling him that if he behaved like an asshole first he couldn't expect anything different from other people, but Kyoutani shut it out in a very petty way.
The bartender came back with a light green cardboard box, closed on top with a soft yellow velvety lace.
The guy set it on the counter with a bit too much strength but nothing out of the ordinary.
"Fucking finally," Kyoutani said at the same time that the clerk said, "It's already paid."
Suddenly, his shoulder felt unbelievably hot, scorching, as if someone had marked him with a heated metal rod. He flinched at the sensation at the same time the guy brought his arm toward his chest, a pained look on his face.
They both looked at each other with a horrified expression.
Kyoutani grabbed the box and bolted out of the shop. He didn't stop running for a good while, terrified and excited at the same time.
When Tanaka came back from work, Kyoutani was sprawled on the sofa, an immovable object with eyes fixed on the ceiling.
The box of pastries was on the counter though, so the situation wasn't that hopeless in Tanaka's point of view.
He slipped off his shoes and left his bag in the entrance.
"So? What has you so beaten up?"
Kyoutani still had his eyes fixed on the ceiling, apparently not having heard anything about what Tanaka said.
He decided that maybe asking so directly wouldn't work.
He sauntered toward the kitchen counter, opening the box of pastries that sat proudly on it.
Inside, a feast of biscuits, petite patisserie, and all sorts of baked goods was shining as if inwardly lit with whatever good and pure and warm was in the world.
He felt his mouth watering at the idea of the pastries but quickly shut the box closed.
"Ahhhh! These look amazing, man! Thank you so much for picking them up, Chikara is gonna love the—"
" YOU AND YOUR FUCKING PASTRIES !"
Kyoutani jumped up from the couch and in two long steps cornered Tanaka against the kitchen counter, ready for murder.
"What the fuck, man?! You could have just said no if it bothered you so much—"
"It's not the pastries you shithead!" Kyoutani rumbled, but his anger so up close seemed more like irritation. If anything, he seemed a bit distressed to Tanaka.
"What if not the pastries then?" Tanaka asked, genuinely curious now.
He could have accepted some irritation for the actual hassle of going to the café, waiting in line, picking up the pastries and so on, but if not those, what was the problem?
Kyoutani groaned, stomping back to the living room and throwing himself back on the sofa.
Tanaka looked at him, even more puzzled than before, if possible.
It didn’t make sense at all. His best friend had never behaved like that.
He sighed. Time for some emotional chit-chat, he guessed, taking out of the fridge two beers they kept especially for occasions like these.
(Because Kentarou wasn’t much of a drinker, to be honest. He preferred cold water and tea. Beer was reserved for especially low moments of his life. Tanaka had deemed it his special treat for “whatever might ail his poor heart”. Kyoutani had knocked him off with one fo the sofa’s cushions when he’d said him that.)
He popped the lids off and walked back inside the living room, where Kyotuani kept glaring at the ceiling without saying anything at all.
Tanaka plopped down on the floor next to the sofa and grinned at him cheerily “Okay. No bullshit time! What’s shaken you up so much?”
Kyoutani still sulked in silence.
“Come on! I know it’s not the pastries, but you’d better tell me before I have to start guessing.”
Still no answer.
“Kentaro what’s happened?” He asked in a more serious tone, putting the beers on the floor “You are having me worried here, man. I’ve never seen you so shaken by anyt-”
“I met my soulmate”.
That shut Tanaka up right away.
“Are you… Are you sure?”
If looks could kill he’d be already a little sad puddle of ashes on the floor by now, judging from how Kyoutani stared him down.
“Okay, okay, calm down. I mean, it can’t be that terrible. If you found them out today at least they are not a murderer, I suppose, aren’t they?”
A non-committal sound came from Kyoutani, but nothing else.
“I mean it doesn’t really have to be that kind of relationship, you know? There’s a lot of people who know who their soulmate is but choose to not have them in their life and that’s okay too. It doesn’t have to be like me and Chikara -”
“You are not helping.”
“Well, you are not talking so I don’t know how I can help you.” He said back quietly.
“If you don’t explain to me, I don’t know how to help. Let me in,” he added with a smile.
The truth was… Kyoutani wanted to die of shame.
“It’s the cafè guy. The one with really good hair.” Kyoutani murmured, his ears slowly growing pinker and pinker.
“I was pissed off at you for treating me like a fucking errand boy and… I don’t know. I stormed in and the whole place was just… so calm, you know? And he was there, preparing teapots and serving tea to the customers.” Kyoutani shrugged, “He looked like the most peaceful guy in the world and I don’t know, I panicked. I was an asshole and the first words I said to him were ‘Fucking finally!’, Tanaka, I said to him ‘Fucking finally’.”
Kyoutani glanced at him with a weird mix of frustration, shame and what could only be described as interest.
Tanaka laughed hard, rolling back on the floor. “You actually told him that?!” He couldn’t help snickering, even if he was trying to keep himself from doing so, “You told Shigeru that ?”
Kyoutani was on him in a second, eyes big with surprise, “You know him ?!”
“Get off!” Tanaka exclaimed with a smile, pushing Kyoutani back so that he sat on the floor with him.
“Of course I know him, he’s one of Chikara’s best friend. Actually, it’s kind of surprising you’ve never met before.”
“Actually,” Tanaka glanced at him with a smug grin on his face, “I might even help you with him.”
“I don’t want you to set me up with my soulmate…”
“Me? No, don’t worry about me” the other said, an even bigger grin on his face, “Just wait until Chikara will hear about this.”
Kentarou groaned, falling back on the floor.
He was fucked.