What had started out as a simple one-shot fic for someone's Valentine present had turned out into this. So I made it into a three-shot fic instead with a plan to post the last chapter on V-Day (if I don't procrastinate this time). Enjoy!
To beansprout- this is for you. Now stop bothering me and return my DS!
A Dose of Caffeine
Disclaimer- The World Ends With You does not belong to me. And Neku belongs to Joshua.
And if Square Enix ever decide to release TWEWY merchandise and Joshua plushies, then I can [finally!] say I own Joshua. [well...not really]
Summary- AU/ In order to pay off his college tuition, Neku gets a job at the WildKat Cafe. Now, if he could only hold off strangling his prissy, flirtatious co-worker until after graduation. If society doesn't destroy your life first, then the caffeine withdrawals will. NekuxJoshua
Chapter One- Coffee Beans and College Debt
It all started with a piece of paper.
Actually, it was more like a pile of papers and documents that were stuffed into more envelopes that all lay innocently on his kitchen counter.
But it was that one piece of paper that entangled Neku into a massive spider web of debt, misery and humiliation.
It was cream white, crisply folded into three perfect sections and smelt distinctively as if someone had taken the worst flowery perfume they could find and dosed the entire content of the bottle without a care in the world for all the sensitive noses. Neku grimaced, he inhaled too much of the disgusting scent when he had hyperventilated and seized at the letter. He silently reminded himself that if he ever wanted to get the stench out he'll have to wash his clothes. Twice.
Royal blue ink embossed the college's crest at top and black lines spelled out the school's motto, address, e-mail, fax number and contact information. It was regal, high-class and very formally presented. But Neku didn't care for any of that.
The most important thing was the printed line that stated that Neku Sakuraba has been accepted into Tokai University and will attend Yoyogi Campus, Shibuya starting this September.
Tokai fucking University.
One of the largest general education and research institute of Japan, not to mention it was also the biggest university of science and engineering located in all of Tokyo. The school of which so many well-known alumni graduated from, and the goal of thousands of overly ambitious high school students. The cause of much back-stabbing, test cheating and fierce competition of once childhood friends just so they can gain an edge and cross the gap between the geniuses and the hopefuls. It was the reason that Neku spent his last years of high school committed so many (long, painful) hours to his studies, and sweating it out when he took the entrance exams last spring.
Although his pride and lack of dancing coordination didn't show his feelings, inside Neku's inner thoughts he was flocking in a field of flowers of happiness and sunshine. And even then, his usual cold demeanor managed to finally break out a dazzling bright smile.
Nothing could break him from this euphoria high.
It was only later (much, much later) that Neku even bothered to look at the other envelopes. He was immediately overwhelmed by everything. There were important documents, forms that had to be copied, and papers that he needed to fill out and return. And instructions. Many instructions of what to do, what was important and what wasn't necessary, where to sign, how to reply, when this and that was happening- and there were so many rules that it made his head spin.
And then he found the college tuition letter.
Cat Street was located on the very outskirts of Shibuya; pass the sleeping hobos in Miyashita Park Underpass and far away from Scramble Crossing. It was rumored that the infamous creative designer, CAT, lived on this every street. Infamous due to fact that the graffiti painter extraordinaire has evaded any police's attempt to arrest him for 'illegal advertising' and 'vandalism of public property.' The entire public knew who CAT was, even when his true identity remained unknown.
Standing in front of the WildKat Cafe, Neku couldn't help but think that it was a very quiet place for CAT to live. He was relieved to see that there were no giant crowds or masses of people mindlessly taking up space. Neku had long learned to avoid the Crossing during rush hours unless he wished to get trampled by mobs of people too fixated on their own life.
Compared to that, Cat Street was relatively peaceful and quiet.
He walked into the quiet cafe. Neku had never step foot into the cafe before and it certainly wouldn't have been his first choice for a job, but he figured that, considering the circumstances, he'll have to start his job hunt at some place. The shop was filled with the aroma of coffee beans, melted chocolate and freshly baked pastries. It held an air of familiarity and the combination of comfy couches and bright, cheerful colors brought back nostalgic feelings of home.
It was also completely empty.
"Hello?" His only response was the constant air conditioner buzz and the steady drip of the coffee machine. Neku called out again. "Anyone here?"
"Hold on. Be with you in a sec."
A voice called out unexpectedly, making the young teen jump. Neku peered around the counter. Someone carrying a large pile of boxes in their arms emerged from the back room. He tried to balance the teetering boxes while walking to the front, being careful not to bump into anything breakable along the way. And, that person was almost successful with that plan. But eventually, the law of gravity came into effect and Neku could only watch as the man fall down, along with everything he held.
"Yup. No prob." The man got up and dusted himself. "Don't worry about that." he said with a carefree wave of his hand when Neku got down to help. "Sorry for the inconvenience."
"Don't you have someone to help you?"
"My only worker called in on one of his hissy fits," at this he gave a roll of his eyes. "Didn't even know why he bothered in the first place- I could barely understand anything from his rants. He told me he was gonna be late due to something or the other."
"So you're the owner then?"
Neku was shocked at this piece of information. He had mistaken the adult as a person that worked at the cafe on his initial introduction. The man looked like he was only in his mid-twenties and Neku would have never pegged him to be the manager. His stubby chin, the dark circles under his eyes and five o'clock shadow were the only signs of his real age. The headphones wearing boy sighed, he didn't look like one of those strict or overbearing boss.
"That's me. Sanae Hanekoma, owner of the WildKat Café at your service." He gave a mock salute with his free hand. "What can I do for you?"
"I'm here about your ad in the newspaper. I hear there was a job offering he-"
"Finally!" the boxes dropped again. Only this time, Mr. Hanekoma ignored them and shook Neku's hand in an enthusiastic handshake. While the beaming smile blinded Neku's eyes, he felt as though his arm was going to fall off. "I never thought anyone would respond, 'specially since school just ended a week ago and no one wants to work in the summertime. And it's about time I get some actual help, since Josh never does any work. You got the job! When can you start?"
"Err..." Neku didn't know what to say. "I'm free right now..."
"Excellent! Just grab one of those boxes and bring them over here, Phones."
What was that about not needing my help? He thought as his hand reached to remove his headphones and he picked up the box filled of coffee beans. He was honesty surprised that he managed to get the owner to give him a job so easily. There had to be some sort of catch.
"It's Neku Sakuraba, Mr. Haneko-"
"Aww, no need to be so formal Phones-"
"It's Neku." he found himself repeating.
"Right. This is my cafe and there'll be none of that 'sir' or '-san' or whatever Japanese formality you wanna dish out. Just call me Mr. H."
"Err...right." Neku said hesitantly. "Aren't you supposed to interview me or something?"
"Look, kiddo." the headphones wearing boy frowned at the nickname. "Do you want this job or not?"
Didn't he say before that he needed someone else to work at this place? Neku thought, but prevented himself from saying anything aloud, lest he wanted to blow off this remarkable job opportunity. Of course, it's not like I could afford to mess up my chances of a good impression.
"I do! I really need this-"
"Then there's no problem at all!" Mr. H laughed. "Now grab a box and lend a hand."
"If you say so." Neku mumbled. "I don't even know the first thing about making coffee."
"Ehh..." Mr. H. shrugged absentmindedly. "You'll pick it up along the way."
"Uh-huh." he decided not to question the good nature of his boss. "Will I be working with anyone else?"
"I have another student who's about the same age as you. And I wish you the best of luck getting along with him. That's not to say Josh's a bad person, he's just a litt-"
Mr. H was cut off due to the slamming of the front door, with the force of the entrance causing the little bell to jingle nosily in the quiet cafe. Ash-silver hair rushed past them, and Neku had to look twice before realizing that it was (yes, that is definitely) a boy. Neku watched as the other person angrily stomps behind the counter and threw on an apron, all while ranting aloud with frantic hand motions. It seem like the boy didn't even notice that there were other people in the shop.
"-can't believe the nerve of som-" Some shuffling and something broke. "I mean- honestly you can'-"
"Well, speak of the devil." Mr. H murmured and then called out- "Hey Joshua! Come out and greet our new co-worker!"
The boy looked at little startled at first, perhaps even shocked that there was actually another figure standing in the comfortable, homely -empty- cafe. He blinked once, as though expecting them to be nothing but figurines of his imagination. But Joshua quickly replaced the look with a slowly growing smile. His previous violent temper seem to have suddenly disappeared. His violet eyes crinkled with delighted amusement as he walked over, leaning in way too close for Neku's liking. Neku suddenly discovered that his personal bubble was violated by the close presence of the unwanted intruder and he felt very uncomfortable as the stranger looked at him.
"And who is this?"
Neku blinked. He did not like this kid, at all.
"Ever heard of personal space?"
"Vaguely. Might have been mentioned before. Why? Do I bother you?"
The boy leaned in.
Neku stepped back.
"You have some serious issues."
"Well, if you excuse me." Violet eyes were twinkling in amusement. "You're the one acting all rude now."
"I'm not the person violating other people's personal space!"
The pretty haired boy raised a perfectly manicured eyebrow (Neku couldn't believe that he had actually thought that Joshua was pretty haired). Perhaps he was surprised at the snapping attitude in Neku's outburst, or the fact that the other boy had the nerve to yell at him. Whatever it was, he was immediately cut off.
"Now Joshua, no molesting the unsuspecting victim and certainly not on their first day on the job." Mr. H laughed breezily.
The cafe owner glared at his worker as he intervened into the situation and forced them apart. Neku was grateful when he was finally able to breathe freely. His future co-worker (did he have to work with this guy?) looked at his boss; a deep frown (Neku refused to say he was pouting, because boys do not pout) marring his pretty face.
"Even the really cute ones?"
"Especially the cute ones."
Joshua sighed, as though he was denied his fun and looked remotely disappointed at the turn of events. "Such a shame." He pouted (extremely girlishly), then he turned around and walked back to the counter. There was a slight skip in his walking that wasn't there when he had previously ran into the store in an angry rage. He busied himself with working the counter all while mourning the loss and lamentations that had befallen him.
"Sorry about that Phones. His idea of 'friendly behavior' is just borderline of 'obsessive stalker.'" Mr. H commented jokingly. Obviously, he was used to Joshua making unwanted advancements towards other people. Then he whispered softly so only Neku could hear, his voice dropped and turned serious.
"If you want document forms to sue him for emotional damages they're in the back."
He winked at the shocked teen.
Neku was at a complete loss for words. These were the people that he was forced to work with until he finished college and graduated? He had no idea what to make of this. Obviously, he had gotten himself into a troubling mess.
"Are you gonna stand there all day with your jaw hanging loose or shall I help you with that?"
He closed his mouth and glared at the boy behind the counter.
Joshua smiled and winked.
Neku knew he should have taken the summer tutor job instead.
Hoped you enjoyed the first chapter!
If not- then be nice when you release the Noise on me, okay? (haha, just kidding....I hope.)
You know you are obsessed with this game when in a month's time you're managed to log 100+ hours playing TWEWY. And you've started saying 'so zetta slow' or 'zetta sons of digits' when you're about to curse. And instead of 'OMG', it somehow turned into 'Oh My Josh!' or even 'Oh My Jesus Beam!'
There actually is a Tokai University and a Yoyogi Campus located in Shibuya, but any other part of the school's education system is entirely made up. Sorry, I was trying to make it fit into real-life Shibuya, but since it's fiction, I guess I can stretch the truth a little. I have another TWEWY fic planned where Neku and Joshua are both roommates at campus and they attempt to survive the school year with their sanity attached. It will probably be multi-chap so look for it in the future! (since I had the idea first- no stealing please.)
Well, that's all I'm gonna rant about this time.
Now I'm off! Later~!
"You stupid radians!" a finger jabbed at the chalk covered blackboard. "You're all zetta slow! Do you not comprehend what I'm pointing at?"
The students blinked. Some of them went cross-eyed staring at all the formulated equations, functional systems and numerical sequences spread out on the board in a giant chaotic mess. Others took one look at the board and were melting away in the hot classroom, drowning in a puddle of their brain fluids after their brains had spontaneously imploded on itself. The rest tried not to stare too hard that their tutor for the summer school program. Apparently, the school had very limited choices of tutors if this person was chosen to teach math.
One brave soul raised his shaking hand.
"But we haven't even covered basic pr-"
"CRUNCH! Then we'll add it to the heap of materials to cover then!"
"This is very advance math!" another unfortunate person cried out. "We're not even suppose to be looking at these functions unless we apply for AP classes or are considering taking a college mathematical course."
"Who gives a digit?" the tutor objected. "Then this class will be light-years ahead of the other factoring hectopascals by the end of summertime! Now all yoctograms better pay attention, otherwise I'll have you recite the first 156 digits of Pi!"
"We are doomed." whispered a wretched soul.
Sho Minamimoto stood at the front of the classroom glaring silently at everything. He suddenly clapped his hands and turned around to face his class. His face broke out in an evil smile that threatened to engulf the world in eternal darkness and damnation. A few students lost their souls looking into his eyes.
"Prepare to be iterated into the amazing realm of mathematics!"
One student groaned and banged his head on the desk, knocking over an empty coffee cup completely drained of its caffeinated contents.
He was gonna need more coffee to get through the summer.