Yuuji is staring.
He doesn’t intend to, he’d glanced up out of habit when the little bell above the door jingled cheerily for another customer coming in and he hasn’t been able to look away since. He tries, obviously, because he’s not an idiot and knows staring is incredibly rude. But every time he jerks his head away to focus on something else, his gaze inevitably drags itself back across the shop to the new customer as if drawn by some invisible magnet.
The man is tall and well dressed, wearing charcoal slacks and a black turtleneck that fits his frame so nicely it’s clear both have been tailored especially for him. His dark leather shoes and silver watch appear just as lavish and are probably worth more than Yuuji’s entire apartment.
Which in hindsight probably isn’t an accurate comparison since his apartment is actually affiliate housing for the University and cheap, so it’s probably more appropriate to imagine the man’s shoes could likely pay for half of Yuuji’s accumulated student debt.
He’d walked across the café with a slow and steady grace, and Yuuji couldn’t help feeling a little put out as he watched him. Prone to clumsiness, Yuuji usually finds himself stumbling around like a newborn colt, tripping over his own feet and bumping into things as if it’s his sole objective in life to break his own neck. The handsome stranger has clearly never had the awkward experience of stepping on his own shoelaces and crashing to the ground in front of a crowd of people.
Yuuji’s grandad used to say it builds character.
Yuuji thinks his grandad was full of shit.
Also, despite the customer’s shock of white hair (swept into a purposefully carless style), he looks surprisingly young. Maybe older than Yuuji, but no more than by a handful of years at most. There’s an obvious sense of maturity about him that makes it seem as if he’s much older, though.
Yuuji had watched him take a seat by the window on the far side of the dining area away from the rest of the customers, and it wasn’t until then that he finally realized the cane and thick, nondescript sunglasses the man is wearing aren’t fashion accessories.
He hasn’t been able to look away since, catching himself every few seconds glancing over as the man fiddles with the menu and places an order with Nobara. Yuuji studies him from the corner of his eye as he stacks the pastry plates, both surprised and shamefully curious to see him turning his head this way and that as if observing the other customers.
Maybe Yuuji’s guess was wrong and he isn’t actually blind?
“Wow, that is really rude,” Nobara points out, hands on her hips and giving Yuuji a thoroughly unimpressed look as he twists around to face her.
“I wasn’t trying to be,” he explains quickly, guilt clear on his face at getting caught.
“What, blind people don’t exist in the boonies or something?”
He frowns and answers her slowly, “Um. Yes?”
She rolls her eyes. “You can’t stare at people like that, Yuuji. If I caught someone doing that to me I’d dropkick them through a wall.”
He believes her. He’s only worked at the shop a couple of weeks and just a few of those shifts with Nobara, but he learned early on not to mess with her; she has a disturbing fascination with violence.
“I wasn’t staring because he’s blind,” he insists, feeling himself blush a bit.
“Then what were you doing?”
He gestures both hands between them in some wild dance that vaguely translates into a general sense of ‘I don’t know’, face reddening even further. Now would be a good time for the floor to open up and swallow him whole, he thinks.
Nobara gives him a blank look in response and then suddenly snorts, lips lifting with a smirk. “Oh, you are too adorable.”
“Wait, what?” He blinks, startled at the sudden change as she shakes her head and turns away to pick something up from the counter.
“Here, go take him his coffee for me, will you? You need the practice. I’m going to take a smoke break.” She declares, handing him a saucer with a steaming cappuccino sitting on it. “See you in fifteen.”
“But you don’t smoke,” he says, baffled.
“Nope,” she agrees, laughing and already taking off her apron as she heads for the back door through the kitchen.
Yuuji gives the cup in his hands a bewildered look and wonders if she would dropkick him if he didn’t do as she says, to which he decides the answer is emphatically yes and he’d rather avoid having to pay for an ER visit just now if he can help it.
He looks over to where the man is sitting and takes in his profile, feeling his pulse jump slightly as he does. He sends up a silent prayer in the hopes that some mystical entity will keep him from making a fool of himself. Sighing through his nose, he carefully makes his way from behind the counter and across the shop, paying close attention to his feet and trying not to spill a single drop as he goes.
He hesitates when he reaches the table, struck again by the man’s handsome features, which are much more obvious up close. He looks as if he’s just stepped off the cover of GQ.
He must sense Yuuji standing there because he tips his head to the side with a small friendly smile. “Something for me?” he teases, and Yuuji nearly bites through his tongue. Voices like that should be illegal.
He clears his throat and sets the saucer down, sliding it across the table until it touches the man’s (long, elegant) fingers. “Y-Yes,” he stammers. “Cappuccino?”
The man hums in the affirmative. “Thank you,” he says, sliding the tips of his fingers along the side of his cup, seeking the handle. “What happened to the other server?”
“She, uh, took a smoke break,” Yuuji stammers. Jesus, why is it so hard to talk suddenly? He feels as if his throat is starting to close up.
“She didn’t smell like a smoker.”
“Oh she isn’t,” Yuuji confirms, unable to stop himself from staring at the man’s jawline and feeling the strangest urge of wanting to bite it. Thoroughly distracted, he doesn’t elaborate further and the man’s eyebrows crawl toward his hairline.
“I hope I didn’t scare her off,” he says, gesturing toward the clunky glasses, insinuating his blindness somehow made Nobara uncomfortable enough to push him onto another coworker.
Yuuji snaps out of his daze. “No, no, it’s me,” he reassures quickly. “It’s because I need practice. Talking. With people.”
Fucking hell. The man smiles and Yuuji thinks he’s never seen anything so gorgeous.
“Is that so?”
“I mean as a server,” Yuuji clarifies, inwardly cringing. “I mostly work the counter but she’s been training me.”
“What’s your name?”
Yuuji startles at the unexpected question and rubs at the back of his neck, suddenly nervous. “Yuuji.”
The man nods graciously. “Yuuji.” A shiver crawls up his spine as he watches the man’s lips form the sounds of his name, absolutely riveted. “You’re doing very well,” the man continues. “Thank you for bringing my coffee.”
“You’re welcome,” Yuuji wheezes. “I’m, uh, just over there a little ways if you need anything. You can lift your hand, I’ll come over.”
“I will do that,” the man chuckles as he lifts his cup and takes a sip, smiling around the rim.
Yuuji turns and walks back to the counter as if in a trance.
Nobara divulges the man’s name is Gojo and that he’s a semi-regular. He typically comes on Thursdays, sometimes two or three times a month and usually during Megumi’s shift. She also explains that he is an absolute terror the entire time he’s here. Apparently Megumi is the only one who hasn’t lost his shit so far over the strange man’s insistent, mischievous behavior.
“Megumi has the patience of a saint, though,” Nobara shrugs, plating a scone and drizzling warm honey on top.
Yuuji shoots the man a worried glance. “So is he super mean or something?”
“No, just super fucking annoying.”
The accusation is so at odds with the man’s outward appearance that Yuuji can’t help feeling a little skeptical at first. Besides, Nobara thinks everyone is annoying, even the old lady next door who owns the flower shop. (“She insists on the whole flower language thing too much. If I get one more sympathy card when I buy black roses I will put salt in her soil.”) It isn’t until Yuuji starts to experience the aforementioned shenanigans himself that he suspects there might be some truth to what she’s saying.
He’s just finished wiping down some tables and heading toward the back when he hears someone call his name and, when he looks over, sees Gojo waving him over.
Gripping his damp rag a little tighter, he quickly makes his way to the table, trying (and failing) to ignore the thrill that zings down his spine as he sees Gojo’s lips curl into a roguish smile at hearing his approach.
“Did you need something?”
Gojo tilts his chin up slightly. “Ah, yes. I forgot to ask for sugar in this. Would you mind getting me a few packets?”
The request is innocent enough so Yuuji doesn’t think much of it as he agrees and leaves to fetch the sugar. He doesn’t notice Nobara snickering behind her hand, gleeful as she mans the counter. He returns shortly after and sets the packets next to Gojo’s half empty cup.
“On your left,” he says, tapping a finger lightly against the table, and nearly swallowing his tongue when Gojo effortlessly reaches out and rests his hand on top of Yuuji’s.
“Fantastic,” he replies. “Now, would you be so kind?” His fingers slide smoothly down Yuuji’s hand to the packets. “I’d hate to leave a mess for you to clean up.”
Yuuji’s brain might have short circuited at the casual touch and it takes him a moment to come back online. “Right, sure,” he trips out, snatching up a packet. “No problem.”
“Thank you,” Gojo demurs.
He tears one open and sprinkles it into the still-warm coffee. “Just the one?”
Yuuji dutifully pours a second packet into the cup and glances around for the stirring spoon. It’s oddly absent even though Yuuji is fairly certain it had been on the saucer earlier when he’d brought the coffee over. He frowns, confused, and crumbles the empty packets in a fist.
“Hang on, you need something to stir it,” he apologizes. “I’ll be right back.”
Gojo nods and Yuuji quickly retreats back to the counter for a clean spoon. This time he catches Nobara’s knowing look as he passes her on his way back out.
“What?” he demands.
“Oh nothing,” she giggles. “Enjoying yourself?”
He starts to confess that yes, in fact, whatever is happening right now is quite enjoyable considering he hasn’t gotten this much attention from anyone in god knows how long. But he doesn’t, since admitting something like that feels a little too desperate, even for him.
Instead, he forces a bright grin on his face and shrugs a clueless shoulder. “What do you mean?”
Nobara waves him away, not the least bit convinced, and he makes his way back to Gojo’s table. The man has his chin propped in one hand, face angled in the direction Yuuji is coming from, and even with the glasses on he is looking far too pleased with himself.
“Sorry about that. Here, let me,” he offers, and stirs the (likely already dissolved) sugar around the cup. He taps the spoon once against the rim and places it back on the saucer. “How’s that?”
Gojo makes a pleased sound as he takes a sip, though his lips quickly form into an endearing pout as he replaces the cup. “Well that’s what I get for letting it sit for so long, right? It’s gotten cold.”
Yuuji fights a grin of his own. “No one likes cold coffee,” he agrees. “Let me get you a fresh one.”
One of Gojo’s eyebrows quirk upright, and it’s obvious he hears the amused tone coloring Yuuji’s voice. “I’d hate to be a bother,” he deflects, though he doesn’t look the least bit sorry as he visibly fights his own amusement.
“I don’t mind,” Yuuji answers as he picks up the plate and cup. “I’ll be right back.”
Nobara rolls her eyes so hard it’s a wonder they don’t roll backward into her skull when he bounces back up to the counter. “Seriously? You’re encouraging him, you know.”
Yuuji grins, barely able to restrain himself as he passes the dirty dishes over the counter. “Can you get me a fresh cappuccino? Two sugars.”
She mutters vague threats under her breath as she takes the dishes. “Megumi just ignores him,” she states, deftly pouring another cappuccino and adding two pumps of sweetener. “What you’re doing is making it worse.”
Yuuji flashes her a helpless smile. “I’m an enabler,” he admits, taking the fresh coffee with a quick ‘thank you’ and immediately turning to make his way back to Gojo’s table.
Gojo greets him before he can even say anything. “That was very nice of you.”
He sets the saucer down and angles the handle so it’s easier for the man to reach, feeling a hint of pride when Gojo does just that.
“Happy to do it,” he says, and means it.
Gojo considers him silently for a moment, a self-deprecating smile playing on his mouth as he lifts his cup for a sip. There’s a moment – a brief, fleeting instant – in which Yuuji wonders if Gojo will either feign it isn’t sweet enough, or perhaps too sweet, or even protest it’s the wrong flavor and send him on another pointless errand to the counter. He anticipates it, actually, leaning slightly forward on his toes and watching far too closely than is strictly necessary as Gojo tips his cup.
Each of these scenarios prove to be incorrect, however, as Yuuji sees the man flinch and hiss in pain, splashing some of the hot liquid over onto the table and a bit on himself in the process as he pulls it away.
Yuuji reacts without really thinking it through. He quickly but carefully takes the mostly-full cup from Gojo’s hands and places it back on the table, and then before either of them have a chance to react, presses a napkin to the side of Gojo’s mouth where some of the coffee had splashed out and burned him.
They both freeze, Yuuji’s wide eyes fixed on Gojo’s expressionless black glasses and the man himself immovable under Yuuji’s hands. His lips are slightly parted, glistening and looking far too tempting. As Yuuji watches, a sly, pink tongue darts out to swipe against his bottom lip as Gojo gives him a subtle, devious grin.
With a shaky breath, Yuuji slowly pulls away and starts dabbing up the small spill on the table. “I’m so sorry,” he stutters, face flaming. “I didn’t mean to –”
He cuts himself off, unsure of what excuse he was planning to give since he most definitely meant to. He was in full control of his faculties just then when he reached out to touch Gojo, and trying to pretend otherwise would just be stupid. He bites his lip, hard, and tries to think of an escape.
But then Gojo laughs.
It’s a quiet, charming sound, muffled on an exhale of breath and meant as a delightful secret between the two of them.
Yuuji stares at him, stunned.
“Yuuji,” Gojo positively purrs, and the coy tone of voice sends shivers down Yuuji’s spine. “Walk me to my car, will you?”
“Of course,” Yuuji replies helplessly, still a little thrown as he takes the proffered credit card and makes his way to the counter for Nobara to run it through.
“Are you high?” she asks, taking in his dumbfounded expression as she swipes the card and prints the receipt. Yuuji blinks a few times and shakes his head.
“I don’t think so?” he responds, not entirely sure himself. Is it possible to get high from someone’s presence? He isn’t really sure. “I’m going to walk him to his car.”
Nobara hands him back the card and receipt and doesn’t get a chance to tell him Gojo has not once asked for an escort back to his car before Yuuji is suddenly gone again. She watches them leave the shop together with a mixture of speechless hilarity.
Outside, Yuuji sticks close to Gojo’s side, ready to steer him out of harm’s way if necessary and mentally trying to stave off a budding panic attack at being so close to someone so obviously out of his league. He very nearly has a heart attack when Gojo purposefully loops their arms together and walks confidently down the sidewalk away from the café.
“I like you, Yuuji,” he proclaims, voice light and dancing with amusement. He tightens his grip as Yuuji stumbles at his side, almost tripping into traffic. “Oh, careful. I got you.”
Yuuji gapes up (and up and up, freaking hell, how tall is this man?) at Gojo like a fish out of water. “I – you what? ”
Gojo hums appreciatively. “Are you free tomorrow evening? I hear they are doing a Christmas light show in the park with a full orchestra. I can pick you up at seven. How’s that sound?”
Yuuji blinks dumbly, ears and cheeks flushing bright red as Gojo angles his face down expectantly. “S-Sure,” he hears himself say, stomach catapulting with nerves. “Seven is good.”
“Perfect,” Gojo declares, bringing the both of them to a sudden halt. It’s only then that Yuuji notices they are standing next to a very sleek, very expensive looking car with windows tinted so darkly there’s no possible way they are within code. “Give your address to Ichiji. He will ensure we are there on the dot. Won’t you, Ichiji?”
A thin man with glasses appears as if from nowhere and opens the car’s back door. He nods amicably at the two of them. “Of course, sir,” he agrees.
Gojo grins, pleased with the response. He releases Yuuji’s arm and turns so they are standing toe to toe, and Yuuji has to tip his chin up so he isn’t staring at Gojo’s (very attractive) clavicles.
“I look forward to spending more time with you, Yuuji.”
Yuuji gulps, half convinced this is some kind of dream. “So do I,” he agrees, and doesn’t flinch away when Gojo reaches up to hold his chin and presses their mouths together in a chaste kiss.
It takes a concentrated amount of willpower not to surge up on his toes and deepen it into something more. Gojo straightens too quickly, a mischievous quirk to his lips, and brushes his fingers teasingly along Yuuji’s jaw as he pulls away.
“See you tomorrow?”
Yuuji quickly grabs him by the hand before he can retreat completely and squeezes their hands together, thrilled by the delighted grin that lights up Gojo’s face.
“Tomorrow,” he agrees.