Eleven-thirty on a Tuesday, and business as usual at a certain café in Kichijouji. Which, as far as Maki was concerned, meant that the 'baito kids were being kept busy by slave-driver Tarou, the boss was probably cultivating more grey hairs while doing the accounts, Minagawa was lurking ominously somewhere, and Maki was doing what he did best: waiting tables. With style.

The cafe was fairly crowded, since it was the summer break; better yet, it was crowded with Maki's favourite section of their clientèle. With understated grace, he glided towards one such table and delivered their orders. Toku and Jun wouldn't have such finesse, of course: they wouldn't know the exact angle at which to bend the wrist when gently setting a plate down, the elegant little flourish with which to relinquish one's grip, the right tone of voice in which to speak -- light and almost sweet, like the taste of the chestnut purée that crowns a properly-made Mont Blanc.

"Sweets to the sweet, as they say." He offered a brilliant grin to the table of ladies, at least one of whom swooned appreciatively.


Maki twitched, remembered that one should never shriek when in the presence of ladies, and spared a few seconds to consider the likelihood of his working long enough in the café to eventually suffer a heart attack. "Yeah, Minagawa?"

Minagawa dusted himself off (Why had he been hiding under that empty table? Maki wondered, before realising that this was, after all, Minagawa) and gave a polite smile to their customers. One of them swooned again, and Maki decided that his earlier accomplishment had been nullified: clearly this table had questionable taste.

"Maki-chan... do you know the origin of that original English phrase?"

Maki glanced at the girls; they were staring expectantly at him. Oh well. Questionable taste or not, one had to keep up appearances. "Certainly. From England's greatest poet and playwright, surely?" He hoped that Minagawa wouldn't press the issue -- katakana transliterations were not his strong point.

"Ah." Unlike the 'baito kids, Minagawa had finesse -- Maki had to admit that much, though Minagawa's style was definitely not in the neighbourhood of charm, and lurked instead in the suburbs of creepy elegance. "But what about the context of the quote?"

Maki paused. Minagawa smiled again, and tossed a handful of decidedly unseasonal sakura petals over Maki's head. "You shouldn't speak of death before our customers, Maki-chan. I do hope there are no graves here."

And then he disappeared off in the direction of the kitchen, no doubt to hide in one of the cabinets or something. A low chorus of mock-scandalised whispers rose around the table, followed by nervous giggling. Maki laughed, made a mental note to use his own lines more often, and fled.

He made it three steps into the kitchen before an expertly-aimed bottle of detergent caught him across the back of his head. A few stray petals flitted down around him.