it is amazing what one ray of sunshine can do for a man
― fyodor dostoyevsky
Kenma's always been a creature of habit. He likes the monotony of routines. It keeps him from having to exert extra effort. He can drift along, knowing where he has to go and what he has to do without needing to spend too much time thinking or worrying about it. Every day he wakes up, gets dressed, and walks down to the bus stop. He takes one bus to the train, then the train to the campus of his university. And every morning before he goes to his first class, he stops by the Sunshine Café.
He's been in there so often, that by now they have his order memorized. He's greeted with a smile and a "Good morning, Kozume-san!" by the chipper barista with silvery hair and beauty mark. He takes his coffee and his muffin and goes to class. At lunch he stays on campus, eating the cafeteria food and playing his PSP. Then he continues his classes until it's time to take the train and bus home.
It's his daily routine (save for Saturdays and Sundays), and it works for him. Life is peaceful.
That is until he walks into Sunshine Café one morning to a cheerful yet unfamiliar, "Good morning! How can I help you?"
Tearing his gaze away from his phone, Kenma stares blankly at a face he doesn't recognize. The barista is short, shorter than him even, with fiery orange hair that's sticking up all over the place like flares from the sun. His smile is bright, the brightest Kenma's probably ever seen. There's a sprinkling of freckles across his nose, and his brown eyes twinkle at Kenma warmly.
Kenma continues to stare, not sure if he's taken aback more by the fact that this is a change in his normal routine or by the fact that this guy is much too alert for this hour in the morning.
"Um, hello?" the barista (a quick glance at his name badge reveals his family name to be Hinata) waves his hand in front of Kenma's face. "Are you going to order?"
Kenma parts his lips, but his mind is blank. It's been so long since he's had to order for himself. He can't remember how he did it before. A slow heat is crawling up his neck, self-consciousness causing his shoulders to curl inward. He lowers his gaze to his phone, biting his lip. He's making a fool of himself in front of this adorable barista, and he kind of wants to bolt out the door or melt into the floor.
Kenma looks up, and Hinata turns around, as the silvery-haired barista (Suga his name badge says), steps to the front of the counter. He places his hand on Hinata's shoulder, leaning over him to tap at the screen of the register.
"Kozume-san comes in here every weekday," he explains to Hinata. "This is what he always gets. Think you can remember it?"
"Yes!" Hinata chirps.
Suga pats him on the shoulder before releasing him. He gives Kenma a wink then.
"Don't worry. We'll have him trained soon. He's a good boy."
Hinata blushes, the red contrasting rather comically with his orange hair. Suga steps away toward the pastry rack, waving over his shoulder.
"And give him the employee discount."
Hinata's eyebrows furrow over his nose, as he goes through the steps on the screen in front of him. His nose scrunches slightly, as he concentrates, and Kenma feels his stomach flip strangely. Hinata looks up then, almost as if he heard it, but he only grins and gives Kenma his total.
Kenma fumbles with his wallet for a moment, feeling more warmth burn across the back of his neck and up to heat his ears. He hands the money over quickly, and Hinata gives him his change with another smile.
"It'll be right out!" he says.
Kenma mumbles a thanks and quickly steps to the side, allowing those behind him to place their orders. He walks to the end of the counter where Suga has his muffin ready and is finishing his drink. As he hands these to Kenma, he glances over at Hinata before giving Kenma a knowing smile.
"Cute, isn't he?"
Kenma's entire face burns, and he quickly takes his drink and muffin with a small bow and leaves the café as quickly as he can. His heart is pounding much too fast, and as a result he can only sip at the coffee in his hand until it grows lukewarm, and he has to throw it away. His stomach is churning too much to eat, so he stuffs the muffin into his bag. If this is going to be his new routine, he hopes he'll get used to it quickly.
It's just panic from the change in routine. That's all.
But he can't get the sight of Hinata's smile out of his mind for the rest of the day.
He does get used to this new routine . . . sort of.
At least, the subsequent visits to the café aren't awkward in the same way it was when Kenma first saw Hinata. It's awkward in a different way. Kenma finds himself still affected by Hinata's sunshine-y smile and chipper "Good morning, Kozume-san!" Although Kenma knows that the guy probably smiles at everyone who walks into the café, his eyes always seem to light up especially for Kenma.
That makes him nervous.
He still hasn't said a word to him either. He walks in, nods at Hinata's greeting, pays for his drink and muffin, then meets Suga down at the end of the counter to pick them up. Suga knows him to be quiet, so he never questions it, but sometimes Kenma catches him watching him and Hinata at the register, a contemplative look in his eyes.
That also makes him nervous.
Still, seeing Hinata before class every morning always seems to make the day feel brighter somehow. That smile, the sound of Kenma's name in Hinata's cheerful voice, sustains him throughout the tedium of his classes. And where he used to drag his feet in the mornings, he now finds himself getting up quickly; not wanting to miss his bus or train that will take him to the café and Hinata's smile.
Honestly, it's pathetic, but Kenma figures if he's not hurting anyone what does it matter? And if it improves his mood . . . then it's okay, right? He's allowed to be selfish in this way. It's not like he's encouraging anything that he can't reciprocate.
He just . . . likes Hinata's smile.
Then one day, two months after his world was thrown off its axle, something changes again. He steps into the café, eyes immediately seeking out Hinata. But instead of the manifestation of sunlight itself, Suga is standing at the register. His heart dropping into his stomach, Kenma approaches slowly, not sure what to make of this. Suga gives him a smile, but it's subdued.
"Hinata's sick," he says. "Might be out for a few days. He tried to come into work anyway, but I sent him home."
"Oh," Kenma says, his voice small. He tries to hide his disappointment, but he's sure Suga can see it anyway.
"Here," Suga says, holding a napkin out to Kenma.
Kenma takes it slowly, blinking down at the numbers written on it. When he looks back up at Suga, the man winks at him.
"His number," he explains.
Kenma blushes, quickly stuffing the napkin into his pocket. He pays for his drink and muffin, not meeting Suga's gaze, as he picks them up from the end of the counter before hurrying out the door. The napkin feels hot against his thigh, burning through the material of his jeans. He tries to ignore it. He tries to concentrate on his classes, on lunch, on his PSP on the ride home, but his mind keeps going back to it, drawn like a mosquito to water.
Finally, once he's safe at home, he sits cross-legged on his bed in his pajamas and pulls out the napkin and his phone, punching the numbers in.
Then he freezes.
What should I say?
It's not like he's ever spoken to Hinata before. Wouldn't it be weird for him to call out of the blue like this? Hinata never gave him his number directly . . . so does he even want Kenma to call or text him? Growling under his breath in frustration, Kenma drops his phone and the napkin onto his bed, turning to bury his face into his pillow.
This is getting ridiculous.
Two days pass with no Hinata at the café, and Kenma tries his hardest to work up the courage to call or just text. But each greeting he types out he immediately erases, thinking it dumb or just awkward.
What can he say? He's never been good with words. He doesn't know how to tell Hinata how much he looks forward to seeing his smile each morning, how often he thinks of that smile, and the way Hinata's eyes brighten when they catch Kenma's gaze. He doesn't know if it's wrong or not to feel this way toward someone he's never even spoken to. This sort of thing only happens in the movies. He's going to make a fool out of himself, and his throat tightens, his chest squeezes at that prospect.
Kenma's tense, as he walks into the café Monday morning. He inhales sharply, as he sees Hinata standing behind the register. He looks less shiny than usual. His face is pale, freckles standing out sharply. There are circles under his eyes, which hold a tired glaze. He's still smiling, but it doesn't hold the same sparkle. Kenma's gut clenches with concern.
"Should you be working if you're still feeling weak?" he asks, as he approaches the register.
Hinata's eyes widen so much they seem to bulge. Kenma's bewildered by the expression until he realizes that this is the first time he's spoken to him. He purses his lips, resisting the urge to duck his head to hide behind his hair.
"You can talk!" Hinata squawks, some of his normal vitality returning in his shock.
Kenma tugs at the ends of his sweater sleeves, fidgeting. "Of course I can talk," he mutters, glancing to the side.
"But you've never talked before!"
"Hinata-kun, don't harass the customers," Suga calls over, though his voice is more playful than sharp.
Still, Hinata grimaces and gives Kenma an apologetic smile. "Sorry! I'm just surprised." He tilts his head then. "If you can talk, though, why didn't you call me? Suga-san told me he gave you my number."
Now it's Kenma's turn to reel in surprise. He takes a step back, feeling caught and exposed. His voice leaves him once more, and he shakes his head quickly, turning to leave the café. He can hear Hinata calling after him, but he ducks his head and moves faster, weaving in and out of the people on the sidewalk.
Kenma flinches. Did he follow me out here?
He feels a hand on his elbow, pulling him to a stop. He stares at the sidewalk, his pulse pounding in his ears.
Hinata ducks his head, peering up at Kenma from behind his hair. He smiles tentatively, and Kenma's heart flutters. Curling his fingers to hold the cuffs of his sweater sleeves, he keeps his gaze stubbornly on the ground.
"Suga-san told me he gave you my number on Wednesday," Hinata says. "I was really excited! I stayed up all night with my phone next to me waiting."
Kenma lifts his eyes slowly, frowning. "Why?" No wonder he looks so bad. He probably made himself sicker with lack of sleep.
Hinata laughs. "Because I wanted to talk to you! Duh!"
Kenma bites his lip to suppress a smile. He shakes his head. "You shouldn't have done that. You probably made yourself worse."
"Yeah," Hinata admits, tugging on a tuft of that bright orange hair. "My mom took away my phone and made me go to sleep. But I kept checking it afterward for a text or a call or something. So why didn't you?"
Kenma shrugs one shoulder, eyes flickering to the side. "I'm . . . not good with people. I don't like interacting with them."
"But you're interacting with me right now just fine!"
Kenma curls inward. "I didn't know what to say," he admits softly.
"Just say hi!"
Kenma has to fight another smile. Hesitantly, he reaches into his pocket and pulls out his phone. Exhaling shakily, he pulls up his messages and types one out slowly, trying to keep his fingers from trembling.
Hinata jumps, as his phone jingles in his pocket. He pulls it out and looks down at it, a wide grin spreading across his face. Kenma watches, his neck feeling warm, as Hinata sticks his tongue out the side of his mouth, his thumbs tapping away quickly on his own phone. Kenma's phone vibrates in his hand, and he looks down.
"I'm Hinata Shouyou," Hinata says then.
Shouyou. How fitting.
Kenma lifts his gaze to find Hinata grinning as brightly as he was the first day they met. The warmth on his neck spreads to his ears and then his face, and he grips his phone tightly in his hand.
"Oooooooh, Kenma! That's cute!" Hinata exclaims. "Can I call you that? Kenma? Or . . . sorry. That's probably too familiar, huh?"
Kenma's pretty sure his face is going to melt off his skull, as he shakes his head. "N-no. That's fine."
"Okay! You can call me Shouyou then. And you can call or text me at any time, okay? I always have my phone on me!"
Kenma raises an eyebrow, willing his cheeks to cool. "Even at work?"
"Yep!" Hinata appears unconcerned about this fact, and Kenma can't help but giggle, bringing his hand up to cover his mouth. Hinata's eyes widen again, and then, inexplicably, he blushes. He fidgets with his fingers for a moment, glancing back at the café.
"Ah, I have to go back to work! I don’t want Suga-san to get mad . . . but I have your number now too so, I can call you! Or you can call me! Or text! We should go out sometime!" He practically shouts this last sentence, and Kenma jumps in response, startled.
"Um . . ."
"I'M FREE SATURDAY!" Hinata clutches his phone in one hand, the other balled up in a fist at his side.
Kenma blinks. "I . . . okay?"
Hinata beams, eyes sparkling. He almost looks completely healthy again. Before Kenma can register what just happened, Hinata's gone, racing back toward the café.
Kenma stares after him, feeling something wet on his cheek. He reaches up to touch it, realizing that Hinata just kissed him before running off. Ducking his head, he hides his blush from the passers-by, but he's unable to stop the smile that tilts his lips.
A date with Hinata Shouyou.