So this has probably been done a billion times before, but I ended up writing a few lines for a Soriku coffee shop AU on Skype, and that eventually evolved into this extended drabble thing. Credit to my rl friends for motivating me to actually write this (and unofficially beta reading too!), and to my friend Mer (now shipping-lord on Tumblr) for the third and fourth sections of this fic. I definitely wouldn't have been able to turn this into an actual story without her making me crack up with her amazing ideas. You're the best Mer!
(also if you're a FE:A fan go read her version over on Tumblr, it's amazing)
Disclaimer: I do not own Kingdom Hearts and/or its characters.
"Hey Riku, can you do me a huuuuge favour?"
The silver-haired boy looks at his friend, Tidus, who is standing in front of his desk with his hands clasped in front of him. "What do I get in return?" he asks, raising an eyebrow.
"Hey, don't be like that!" Tidus pouts. "There's a new coffee shop on campus, and there's a really cute barista who works there. Could you go talk to her for me?"
Riku sighs. "As usual, I'm stuck doing the dirty work."
"I'll pay for all your coffee! And I'll do your homework for a week!"
A pause. Then, he says, "Deal."
After all, free coffee is pretty great.
When Riku enters the Sunset Café ("conveniently located in the West Block!" say the promotional pamphlets) he sees no sign of the girl Tidus had mentioned earlier. Instead, a spiky-haired brunet is operating the register, serving customers with a smile. Classes have already let out for the day, and so the café is not very crowded. Just the way he likes it.
He walks up to the counter and orders a black coffee. "Like my heart," he explains grimly to the boy behind the register.
The boy frowns, and when Riku finally gets his coffee five minutes later, it turns out to be a cappuccino with a clumsily-drawn heart drawn in the foam.
He glances up, confused, and sees the same boy watching him with a smile. "It doesn't suit you," he explains simply, and walks away, but not before reaching into his apron pocket and adding three packets of sugar to the concoction while Riku watches on in horror.
And so Riku doesn't leave a tip that day.
On his second visit to the café, it is significantly more crowded. Riku spots the boy from last time working at the counter, and looks around to see if any other registers are available, wanting as much as possible to avoid his previous experience. But to his dismay, none of them are occupied. 'Maybe that's why the line is so long.'
Grudgingly, he walks himself to the end of the line, shoving his hands inside his pockets. Five minutes later, he is standing in front of the register, and the boy is still there, watching him with an expectant smile.
"I'll just get…um…the chocolate mousse cake combo," he mutters. Having studied the menu from afar while waiting in line, he knows that each combo order comes with a black coffee on the side. And to his knowledge, the cake is made of dark chocolate, which means he should be able to avoid a second sugar overdose…just as long as his server doesn't act on impulse again.
"Coming right up," the boy declares, reaching into the display case with a pair of tongs to grab a slice of cake. He carefully places it on a plate, then whirls around and disappears into the back room for a minute. When he returns, he is holding a steaming cup of coffee wrapped in a napkin. Riku slyly peers into the mug as the boy rings up his order, and to his relief, it appears to be a standard black coffee.
Riku pays for his order and picks up his tray, looking around for a seat. The only free table is right in the middle of the crowded café, but seeing as he has no choice, he makes his way towards it and takes a seat. The "cute barista" is still nowhere to be seen, and he begins to wonder whether he really did end up getting the short end of the deal after all.
With a sigh, he unwraps his plastic spoon and uses it to take a bite out of the cake. As predicted, it is semi-sweet, and he leans back, satisfied. A few more spoonfuls later, he reaches for the napkin wrapped around his coffee and brings it up to his mouth-
-and stares at the words clumsily scrawled across its surface.
'Swaggity psy do not cry – oppa gangnam smile.'
Unable to control himself, he lets out a loud laugh. At once, he feels every pair of eyes in the café watching him, and he looks around to see a judgemental expression on every face that is turned in his direction.
Well, almost every face. Cappuccino Boy is looking at him from a counter, a grin plastered across his face. Embarrassed, Riku averts his gaze and covers his face with his hand.
But unbeknownst to everyone, he smiles into his palm.
The third time Riku runs into the boy, it is not in the café. The convenience store on campus does not sell the brand of dish detergent he likes, and on his way into town, he spots a familiar spiky-haired brunet in the distance. Upon closer inspection, he finds that it is indeed Cappuccino Boy, now surrounded by a small army of no less than five dogs. They are playing with his shoes while he helplessly holds on to their leashes.
Riku lets out a snort of amusement at the sight, and the boy looks up, acknowledging his presence with a sheepish smile.
"Out walking dogs?" he asks, even though the answer is obvious. The brunet nods and tugs on the leashes for the umpteenth time, but to no avail.
"Yeah, or I'm trying to, anyway," the boy admits. "I need to have them home soon – I've got another shift to take care of at the café, and another bunch of dogs to walk."
Riku raises an eyebrow. "Do you really need the money that badly?"
"Not really," he replies. "But I just can't say no, y'know?"
Those words are all it takes for Riku to understand the world that Cappuccino Boy lives in. Unable to refuse his friends and acquaintances, he is constantly stuck in a loop of odd jobs and favours. His is a simple mindset, and one that Riku cannot relate to. And yet, there is something about it that he finds admirable.
"Well, I should probably get going," the boy says, cutting into his thoughts. It could be Riku's imagination, but he can see his cheeks reddening as he adds, "Maybe I'll see you at the Sunset Café again one of these days?"
'I still have to find Tidus' mystery girl…I guess it couldn't hurt.' And although he will never say it out loud, he has found himself growing fond of this strange boy who has taken a similar interest in him.
"Alright, see you there."
"So…I never did ask you for your name," Cappuccino Boy calls from behind the counter, where he is cleaning up one of the displays. It is the end of the day, and he is closing up shop while Riku waits at one of the empty tables. The Sunset Café is completely deserted, and most of the chairs have been placed atop their respective tables, giving the place an uncharacteristic deserted vibe.
"It's Riku," he replies. Then, he hastily adds, "And yours?" knowing that he cannot call him Cappuccino Boy forever.
Sora. It is a name as wide and as bright as the morning sky, and Riku cannot think of a name that suits him better.
When he is done, Sora walks over to his table with two cups of coffee in hand. "Here," he says, placing a cup of black coffee in front of Riku. "On the house." He then sits down across from him and grabs five packets of sugar from the small container beside them, adding them to his own cup. Riku grimaces at the sight.
They sit there in amicable silence for a while, drinking their coffee, until Riku feels his phone buzzing in his pocket. He takes it out only to see a new text message from Tidus, which says, 'have u found her yet? gonna go broke payin for all ur coffee haha'
With a start, Riku realises that he has paid two visits to the café without even taking a passing interest in his actual "mission". Suddenly feeling guilty, he decides to ask Sora for help.
"Hey, um, I've been meaning to ask you something," he begins hesitantly. Sora places his cup on the table and looks up at him expectantly. Riku takes this as a sign to continue.
"There's…a girl who works at this café."
The boy's grin falters, and Riku distantly wonders whether he has said something unusual. But despite his mind's protests, he goes on.
"I've been coming here to try to talk to her, but I haven't seen her around at all. Do you know where she could be?"
With every word that comes out of his mouth, he sees the sparkle leaving Sora's eyes, even though his usual smile remains plastered on his face. 'Something's wrong.'
Sora looks down at his cup. "A girl, huh?" He smiles wistfully. "You must be talking about Kairi – she works here on weekends. I-I could give you her number if you'd like!"
The last few words sound forced. Realisation dawns upon Riku, and he says, "You don't have to if you don't want to." After a moment's hesitation, he adds, "You like her, don't you?"
"Huh? Kairi?" The boy looks up and smiles sincerely. "No, she's just a friend."
Riku says nothing in response. The silence between them, now uncomfortable, stretches on and on until Sora suddenly stands up. "I-I should get going," he says, still smiling, though it seems more strained now. "More dogs to walk…the usual."
It sounds like a legitimate excuse, but Riku is unconvinced. As Sora rushes over to the counter all-too-quickly to grab his things, it slowly begins to dawn upon him that his question could have been interpreted in several ways.
'He was upset when I mentioned the girl, but not because he likes her…so does that mean…?'
It is a ridiculous solution to a problem that he is probably blowing out of proportion, and yet, the possibility continues to nag at Riku's mind. He leans across the table to examine Sora's mug of coffee, and sees that it is still half-full.
'He didn't even finish it…'
A pang of guilt runs through him, and he is filled with the inexplicable urge to explain things to Sora; to stop him from leaving the café. Before he knows it, he finds himself striding across the room and grabbing the boy by the arm just as he is about to walk out the door.
Hesitantly, the brunet turns around. "Something wrong?" he asks, and his crestfallen expression clenches at Riku's heart. He lets go of the boy's arm, only to grab his hand instead, lacing their fingers together lightly.
"Do-do you get lunch breaks?" he blurts out, deciding to take a chance on his theory. "Can we meet up this Sunday? For coffee?"
He has never been good with words, but somehow, his question causes the smile to return to Sora's eyes. "Sure," the brunet replies, grinning widely again.
His theory is confirmed. And this time, Riku cannot help but smile back.
When Sunday rolls around, the two boys find themselves sitting at a table again, but this time, they are surrounded by people. The midday rush is even greater than usual – after all, students like to socialize on their days off, and there is no better place to do so than at a café. Although Riku normally finds this tedious, he supposes he can make an exception this time around.
Because, for once, he is socializing, too. With a specific person, no less. A word that defines this type of interaction comes to mind, but he quickly pushes the thought away with a blush.
"Hey, Sora," he chooses to say instead, causing the boy across from him to look up from his menu.
"What is it, Riku?" he asks simply, and Riku searches for the words he wants to say, despite knowing that they are at the tip of his tongue. But before he can open his mouth to speak, a girl walks up to their table and places a cup of coffee in front of each of them.
A knowing smile stretches across her lips as she looks between the two of them. "Here's your coffee. Would you two like anything to eat?"
Riku shakes his head, and Sora does the same. "We're good – thanks a lot, Kairi."
"No problem," she replies with a wink in Sora's direction. The boy blushes as she turns around and walks back towards the counter. Riku stares after her, surprised.
'So that's Kairi, huh? She doesn't really look like Tidus' type...'
"You were saying?" Sora's voice snaps him out of his thoughts, and he looks back at his expectant companion. Suddenly feeling uncomfortable, he places a hand behind his head.
"I was just wondering…when I…asked you out, and you said yes…did you do it because you couldn't say no?"
The question makes Sora frown slightly. "To be honest…I asked myself the same thing on my way here today," he admits. Riku's face falls.
"But then," he continues, "I realised that, for once, I didn't accept because I felt like I had to. I did because I wanted to be here with you, Riku."
His cheeks turn pink slightly when he says, "I guess it's because…I really like you."
His answer takes Riku by surprise, and he nearly falls off his chair, causing Sora to lean across his table to grab him by the arm and keep him from falling backwards. He pulls himself upright and covers his reddening face with one hand, reaching for a sugar packet with the other. The spiky-haired boy watches in surprise as he single-handedly rips the packet open with some difficulty, and then pours it into his mug of steaming black coffee.
"In that case…" He finally uncovers half of his face so he can look Sora in the eye. And the small smile on his lips and the pink tinge in his cheeks are clearly visible when he says, "I guess I really like you, too."
"There's…this guy I think I like."
Tidus gawks at his friend. "You're serious? A guy?!"
Sora grins sheepishly. "You can't choose who you like, right?" He places his hand on his chest. "Your heart chooses for you."
The blond-haired boy rolls his eyes. "Typical Sora," he sighs. "So. What can I do to help?"
"Y-you mean it?" Sora stands up suddenly, his chair falling to the ground behind him. "I just…want to meet him. Just once is enough."
"That can be arranged," Tidus says confidently, puffing out his chest. "But you're gonna have to reimburse me."
Sora tilts his head, confused. "I don't get it."
An all-knowing grin stretches across Tidus' face as he crosses his arms with confidence. "Coffee isn't cheap, y'know."