Tatsuya sighs and stretches over the bar, leaning like a cat in a sunbeam—Taiga’s almost surprised his nails don’t dig deep into the edge and slash through the finish and the wood itself, but they don’t; Tatsuya flexes his fingers before blinking up at Taiga. That pose should definitely be illegal this close to opening, the way Tatsuya’s limbs are extended and the curve of his waist and ass in that uniform (damn).
Tatsuya straightens up. “We’ve gotten three more reservations canceled.”
“Really?” Taiga frowns.
With the amount of business they normally do, they can afford a few misses here and there. Still, three at a time is never a good sign.
Tatsuya waves a hand at the window. “It’s cloudy. There are supposed to be thunderstorms later. It’s Sunday. Besides, we’ve been doing extra all week.”
They couldn’t refuse their best waitress time off to see her sick mother and they’re probably understaffed on the best of days, but somehow they’ve managed to make do; somehow the rest of the wait staff doesn’t seem to mind too terribly adding in extra shifts here and there (although it can’t hurt that it’s Tatsuya doing the schedule rearrangement) and Tatsuya fills in on wait duty himself when the bar’s not too busy. Even in the kitchen, though, Taiga’s felt like there’s no stopping, like he has to accelerate the pace (not that he can’t work fast but there’s a certain point where he starts to make sloppy mistakes and certain things he can’t look away from for more than a few seconds at a time and he can’t work with too many of those at once) or else the work is going to pile on top of him like dishes in the sink when the dishwasher’s gone out for an extra long cigarette break only worse because it’s not like a part of him is out of commission and can come back and work at five times the speed to reduce the backup to nothing. Sometimes Taiga’s worried that he might break, that he might really mess things up and have to start everything over and push it all back even further.
Maybe a slow day today will be good.
Tatsuya leans over the counter again, propped up on his elbows this time. His eyes are half-lidded, sparkling, and Taiga knows exactly what he’s going for. He doesn’t know if he should be annoyed or not that it’s working, so he just leans in and kisses Tatsuya deep and slow, biting down on the softness of Tatsuya’s lower lip. There’s a slight hitch in Tatsuya’s breath that Taiga only catches because he’s trying to hear and feel it.
And then Tatsuya ducks away before Taiga can pull him back, strolls to the end of the bar and lets himself out. Taiga’s about to reach over to him when Tatsuya puts up a hand.
“We’re opening in a minute. There are people waiting outside.”
Taiga glances through the dark windowpanes. He’s right, of course. There aren’t many, but they’re there. He makes his way back to the kitchen grumbling about how there’s never any time for anything under his breath, although now, before Tatsuya takes their orders, he’ll have a few minutes free to do any last-minute kitchen prep before the orders start coming.
As they’d hoped, it’s a slow day. Tatsuya doesn’t open the bar until two, when one of the regular waiters arrives, but until then it’s just the two of them and a few customers here and there. It’s kind of like when they were first starting out, a bit younger with a plan still rough around the edges that they’d clung to anyway like a ledge with the steep cliff side crumbling beneath them. They’d managed to claw themselves up, Taiga keeping Tatsuya from wallowing in pessimism and giving up when he’d really wanted to and Tatsuya reining Taiga in when he’d gotten too far from the ground. They’d hired a full time wait staff and expanded the menu and the hours as business exploded, and even though they’re making good money and buying efficiently it seems like there’s less and less time for the two of them to really be together.
And in and of itself, that’s ridiculous. They’re separated by one door or less almost constantly, within shouting distance of each other all the time. They make each other meals and work together and go home to the same apartment and sleep in the same bed and yet they so rarely make time for each other.
But today they get to make up for that lost time; Tatsuya delivers the orders and his fingers brush Taiga’s all too non-casually and Taiga checks the frying pan and then lands a kiss on the side of Tatsuya’s neck before the door swings open, and sometimes he glances back to the oven and then before he can even properly turn Tatsuya’s hand is cupping his cheek and his other hand has somehow snaked its way into Taiga’s back pocket and his mouth is quirking upward and then he kisses Taiga for longer than he really should considering the meat needs to be turned and there are probably people waiting to be seated.
And then he disappears and the next person to come back in is the waiter (Taiga tries, not very hard, not to look disappointed). He must have opened up the bar and it’ll be a while before he comes back, not that Taiga has time to really think about it because the mid-afternoon crowd is always bustling (even today is no exception).
Taiga glances up from the simmering pasta sauce to find Tatsuya leaning against the doorframe. It’s pointless to ask how long he’s been watching; he never gives a straight answer. Taiga holds out the wooden spoon and Tatsuya licks the end. He frowns at it and then looks at Taiga.
“Needs more garlic.”
“Really?” says Taiga. He’d already added what he thought was more than enough, but Tatsuya throws a pointed glance at the clove on the cutting board.
“Yeah. It’s way too mild.” Tatsuya says, stepping closer.
Taiga’s tongue feels numb already. “Let me…check,” he breathes.
Tatsuya does taste mild—slightly bittersweet beneath the cheese and traces of herbs still on his tongue. Not that Taiga would complain about that.