Can I treat you to coffee?
Namikaze Minato spilled coffee over the waitress's long, red hair. Whether he was aware of it or not, it would be the greatest mistake he had ever made.
At the moment, however, they did not have a polite exchange.
He hardly had the chance to apologize before the woman stood up from the ground and yanked him by the collar of his hoodie.
"OI...YOU BASTARD. If you have something against my hair then we can take it outside..." She aggressively threatened.
Looking at the upturned, un-lidded coffee cup in his hand, he realized that it was reasonable that she for her to assume that he spilled it over her head on purpose. After all, she had been on the ground, trying to search for the pen she dropped. She couldn't have seen that it was actually his friend that knocked the drink into the air. He was the one who tried to catch it—and succeeded...only then he realized that he had caught it upside down over her kneeling body.
So now he was getting the death glare from a pair of teal eyes framed by coffee-soaked hair.
As with everything, he tried to handle the situation with an affable smile, putting up his hands in peace, "I can explain—
"You poured the goddamned stuff over my head, what is there to explain?!"
He thought that he would have been intentionally pummeled by someone for the first time—and a girl too—had a waiter not passed by and pulled her off him.
"Uzumaki-kun!" The man exclaimed, exasperated.
"WHAT?! The asshole drenched me with his fucking coffee!"
"I'm really sorry for this, sir." The waiter bowed in apology and then glared expectantly back at his female coworker, "We'll offer you a free coffee on the house next time for the inconvenience."
Instead of offering an apology, she snorted rather ungraciously, "Great. Tell me when you're coming then, I'll bring a fucking helmet and some coffee to pour over that blonde head of yours."
"It was an accident—
He started to try to explain what really happened again when young woman stormed off. While surrounded by the clamor of a busy café, they sat in silence, left in awe at some storm that passed.
"That was one crazy chick." His friend with black hair tied in a spiky ponytail finally said. He slung his arm casually over the back of the chair.
"This wouldn't have been a problem if you hadn't insisted on turning your coffee into a projectile, Nara." Another young man pointed out disapprovingly. His black side bangs slightly covered his face as he continued to study from his textbook laid on the table. Completing his appearance of a dedicated college student was the dark sweater over a white dress shirt.
"Shut it, Uchiha." The casual student in sweat pants and a T-shirt unchanged from basketball practice retorted to the side. Then he teased, "Man, did you see the look on her face? That's gotta be the first time anyone's actually been angry at Namikaze!" He elbowed his blonde friend, "Right?"
"Huh? Oh, uh, yeah." He absentmindedly answered.
"She even swore at him!" Nara Shikaku laughed.
"It certainly is proof that she's eccentric." Uchiha Fugaku agreed.
"Wait, what's wrong with that?" Minato asked with cluelessly blue eyes, "I've heard swears before."
"Yeah. People have sworn in front of you before. But never directly at you."
"Why?" Minato asked blankly.
"Because you never do anything wrong and your language is completely unsoiled." Fugaku answered without even a glance from his book, "Swearing in front of you feels like the equivalent of kicking a puppy and swearing at you would be like killing one."
Embarrassed, Minato said, "Come on guys, it's not really like that..."
"So basically that psycho bitch just killed like, five baby dogs."
Unintentionally proving his friends' point, Minato winced at the cuss in Shikaku's last comment. "I'm sure she had her reasons." He sheepishly smiled, "It was partially my fault too for catching the cup the wrong way."
"See? This is why nobody wants to swear in front of you. Do you hear yourself? You're defending the person who tried to pummel you." Shikaku exasperatedly reacted, "You aren't just like a Mr. Nice Guy. You are Mr. Nice Guy."
"I still think I should apologize..."
"But you tried, didn't you?" Fugaku rationally pointed out, "She just chose not to listen. So she's the one with the loss, right?"
"I guess." Minato finally replied with an uneasy tone.
But for some reason, he couldn't help but feel in a daze as his eyes continually fell back onto the curtain of red hair. Despite the fact that it was damp with coffee, the waitress's hair struck him as incredibly fiery as she indignantly argued with the coworker at the back of the counter.
He couldn't help it—he just really wanted a chance to apologize to her.
Café de Feuille was the kind of café in which the waitresses were expected to wear uniform, knee length black dresses with white aprons tied around their narrow waists (Shikaku was convinced that body measurements was part of the hiring process there). Their menu consisted of gourmet coffee and unpronounceable pastries. The majority of its frequent customers—like Fugaku—were sophisticated college students, private secondary school students, and scholarly adults.
So the next day, Minato opted out of his typical outfit consisting of a pullover hoodie and jeans, choosing instead to change into a gray sweater after basketball practice.
If things went the way he had planned, the nine minutes after he entered the door would go as follows:
T + 1:00 minute: Find a seat
T + 5:00 minutes: Try to read the menu
T + 6:00 minutes: Be greeted by the red-haired waitress. Ask for her suggestion on an order.
T + 7:00 minutes: Order two of what she suggests so that he can treat her to one after she gets off shift.
T + 8:00 minutes: Explain that it was his form of an apology for yesterday
T + 9:00 minutes: Explain what actually happened yesterday
T + 10:00 minutes: She accepts and realizes that everything was a misunderstanding.
Not surprisingly, life hardly went according to plan. The café was incredibly busy and he was forced to sit near the back. After 30 minutes of waiting, he still wasn't asked for his order. But at that point, he considered it a good thing, since the only working employee had it rough. It would've been unfair of him to add on to the young woman's troubles.
"Oi. Guys, can't you at least pretend to do your goddamned jobs?" The red haired woman looked over her shoulder at the two waitresses who were sitting at a table with their high school peers.
The waitress with a perm waved her older coworker off, "But Uzumaki-kun, all this college exam prep is just so stressful, can't you give us some sympathy? You should understand—oh, wait. I'm sorry." A hand with neatly manicured nails flew to her mouth in forgetfulness, "I forgot that you never took them..."
Kushina—or so the waitress's name tag read—flashed a lightning-teal glare at the pair of waitresses. Right when she opened her mouth to speak (or perhaps yell), she remembered that she was in the middle of a balancing act, juggling three trays at once.
"Hey! Is my café au lait ready?" A customer called out in the background.
"This isn't what I ordered!"
Turning from the struggling, red-haired waitress, a girl in a high school uniform sitting at the table with her working friends asked, "Aren't you two going to get in trouble for this?"
"It's fine. It's fine." One of them replied, worriless.
"But aren't you worried that she might get all the tips or something?"
The two girls laughed.
"No way! Uzumaki-kun? She's a total klutz!"
"I heard the manager is planning to fire her soon anyway."
One of the waitress's mascara-long eye lashes fluttered open in interest, "Really, why?"
"It's obvious, isn't it? I mean, she never follows the dress code and always wears a waiter's clothes instead."
"But could you imagine her in a skirt? I think she's saving everyone's eyes by wearing pants instead. It would just be a whole bundle of awkward. Everything about her is so boyish and unclassy."
"Hmm...I guess you're right..." Their friend mused, "And she's pretty tall too. If she didn't have such long hair, she could pass for a guy."
Although it was against his principles to break the proper etiquette he was taught at a young age, Minato eavesdropped on the girls' conversation, finding himself unable to focus on the book before him.
"Guys, what if she's hermaphroditic?"
"No really, just think about it." The waitress excitedly hypothesized, "She never wears a skirt—don't you think she might be hiding something?!"
"Shh! She might hear you!"
"Oh whatever. It's not like she'll even know what a hermaphrodite is—
"No, I do not have a dick."
Minato cringed at her language; yet however vulgar and crude the red haired waitress was, he couldn't help but smile slightly when she slammed the trays onto the table. The high school girls jumped, startled by the sudden clatter of empty cups and plates.
One of them asked with an innocent expression, "What do you mean?"
"I mean that however awesome I am, I can't spawn little clones of myself through asexual reproduction." Kushina glared ruthlessly, "Oh, don't fuck with me. I graduated from high school. I'm not that dumb."
Her loud voice carried, causing some in the room to turn from their conversations and stare.
"My god, Uzumaki-kun. Why do you have to say the weirdest things?" The other waitress flipped her hair over a shoulder and stood up to leave. Her knee hit a table leg, causing a tall pile of plates to tip over and onto the ground.
The discordant crash silenced the entire room, and all eyes fell on the redheaded, young woman. His eyes, however, fell on the blood dripping from her left hand, in which two shards of glass punctured her skin.
"Isn't that the that waitress?—
"Why is her hair dyed so red..."
He could hear their mutters and judgments. If this was the case, then he was sure that she could as well. But it was hard to see what was going through her mind with her scarlet hair carpeting over her face as she stared at the shattered plates.
For a moment, he wished that he had the nerve to tell them all to mind their own business. Yet his prevailing conscience told him that doing so would be intruding too much into her personal affairs. Technically, they were perfect strangers—he probably didn't have a right to involve himself...
A well-groomed man in a dark suit approached the tall waitress, furious.
"Would you care to explain what happened here?!"
"It's not my fault—
He cut her off, heaving a sigh without hearing the rest of her explanation as he pinched the bridge of his nose in impatience, "I can't even the count the number times you've done this. Never mind the number of plates you've broken, are you aware of how many complaints I get about you?"
The other two waitresses snuck off and began taking orders. Gradually, conversation began to fill space again. Meanwhile, the employer continued to berate the woman. Minato tried to keep his eyes on his book.
"Your hair is an immense distraction...
"It's natural! How many times do I have to tell you people—
"...Your language is obscene. You never dress appropriately for your gender. I originally hired you because you seemed serious about taking this job. But at this point, you are practically detrimental for business."
She bit her lip in attempted to hold back a retort as her teal eyes flashed in challenge.
"This is your last warning. The next time something like this happens, consider yourself fired."
"Right." She replied in a low voice. Noticing his expectant, condescending expression, she added, "Thank you, sir."
He looked up just as she walked briskly by. Their eyes met and he almost asked her if she needed help. But the steely glare pushed him away, leaving him in hesitation, wondering whether he should go after her. Although he really had nothing to do with her, he just couldn't shake off the feeling of guilt.
His blue eyes stared at long strand of red hair on the ground between his seat and the back door from which she left. Perhaps he should've at least helped her with her wound.
Maybe he would ask her about it next time.
"Are you sure, Minato?" Fugaku asked over the phone.
The blonde college walked down a relatively quiet street, pressing the cell phone to his ear in order to hear his friend's voice over the busy background noise from his end.
"Yeah. It's okay, I don't want to interrupt your time with Mikoto-chan." Minato smiled.
"Actually, that's already been done. Nara and Hyuuga are here. You might as well join us for the festival too—practically everyone else in the city is here at the shrine. We can wait for you at the entrance."
Amid the buzzing and snippets of other conversation on the other end of the phone line, Minato thought he heard Shikaku yell in slightly slurred speech, "Hey Namikaze, join me in my hobby of third-wheeling!"
But by then, Minato had already noticed the lights filling the café shop, as opposed to the other businesses that were closed early in celebration of the annual winter festival.
"Sorry, guys. I'm kind of tired from the exam I took today. I'm going to skip on this one." He apologized.
He felt bad after hanging up, because if he really were tired, he'd be at home. Instead, he walked across the street towards the only lighted window with a book in his hand.
The shopkeeper's bell rung in the empty café. He seated himself at a round table near the front window and wondered if anyone was actually working. Suddenly, he found himself staring at a cup of steaming coffee on the tabletop.
"Sorry. Expresso's the only thing I really know how to make."
He almost didn't recognize the waitress. She wore a standard black skirt and tied her brown hair into a neat ponytail. She could've passed for any other working woman in the city. Except the way the light hit her hair from his angle allowed him to notice the bright scarlet sheen that could not be hidden by hair dye.
It took him aback. He almost forgot to reply. The truth was, he wasn't planning on ordering any type of caffeine (since obviously it was not good to consume at night). Actually, this time, this moment, with the waitress in front of him so unlike how he typically pictured her, he was plan-less.
He started, "Thanks—
But the shopkeeper's bell cut him off. Three gangly high school students entered and sat at the booth next to his table.
"Can I take your order?"
Her voice seemed as stiff as the way she approached them, standing awkwardly in heels, uncomfortable in a skirt.
Something about this café really made him forget his manners. Minato looked over the page of his book, feeling his lips curve in a slight frown. It really wasn't really his business, but the way the guys looked at her and then grinned at each other just didn't sit right with him.
"Shit." One whistled, "Nice get up."
She ignored their snickers and repeated in a steely voice, "Your orders?"
"Man, how much did they have to pay you to get you into that?"
"You know, I thought that wearing a guy's shirt was hiding your tits. But you legit don't have any."
Her knuckles whitened as she gripped the notepad with tense arms.
Minato kept telling himself that he wasn't supposed to be observing. In reality, she was probably the last person in the world who would ever need anyone's concern. But then there was that red-tainted-brown hair of hers...
It wasn't hard to tell that the three were incredibly intoxicated. He could practically smell the alcohol the moment he heard their slurred, heavy speech.
"I'll come back when you guys are ready to order, then." She gritted, clearly trying to remain on her best behavior as she turned to walk away.
One of them reached out to grab her arm, "Hey, rumor has it that you're a lesbo—
Her teal eyes flashed as she whipped around with a ready fist. But before she could retaliate, she was stopped in surprise by the figure who suddenly came in between her and the drunk men.
The next thing Minato knew, he was standing in front of the waitress with an empty cup in his hand. His blue eyes blinked in surprise at his own actions as he stared at the three students who were drenched in coffee.
"HOLY SHIT!" The high school student reached for his face, scalded by the hot drink, "What's your problem?!"
"If you're not planning on actually ordering anything, then please leave." Minato smiled, "Otherwise, I'm we can sort this out somewhere else."
The three glowered at the blonde man, with their hair dripping in scorching coffee.
"Fuck you, man."
One finally grumbled and left with his companions. The door slammed shut after the ring of a bell.
The stiff smile on Minato's face fell with a sigh of relief.
"You're not getting another free coffee for that." The waitress beside him said rather indifferently.
"That's alright." He turned to her and grinned sheepishly, "I won't need another one anymore, since they left." He noticed her confused expression and then explained, "I've uh...actually never actually been in a fight before...so..."
"What the hell? And you thought you could take those guys on? Are you stupid?" She stared at him, incredulous while she spoke in an edgy voice, "It was none of your business anyway. I didn't need any help."
"Oh, I didn't do it because I thought you needed help. I did that because I wanted to."
She blinked, caught off guard by his easy smile.
"You seem pretty capable of holding your own, but I just thought it'd be nice to support you—no, that's not what I mean...It's just that, I've watched you—no, not like that, but I..." He trailed off, as if at lost for an explanation.
She didn't quite understand what he was getting at, but she sighed and sat on a chair, leaving the dark puddle as it was. "Whatever. I won't have to deal with the assholes here anymore, since those three are going to complain about me and get me fired."
"Oh, here." He handed over a few bills. After seeing the confused look on her face, he added, "It's for coffee."
"Okay. Number one, I just told you that I'm not going to work here anymore. And number two, that coffee I gave you was free. Don't tell me you already forgot about the time you poured the damned coffee over my head, 'cuz that'll just piss me off."
"I know. I'm paying for another one."
"It's fucking 10 at night. Shouldn't normal people be asking for alcohol instead?"
But once again, she found herself slightly taken aback when he replied affably:
"It's not for me. It's for you."
"Would you like a cup of coffee?"
It was a gesture that was entirely new to her, despite having worked in the café for nearly a year. "Let me get this right," She slowly started, "You're asking me, if I want coffee. Me. The waitress."
"Well, you just told me you're an ex-waitress now, right? And yes. My treat."
So she accepted and went to the machine behind to counter to make herself one of those cold drinks she remembered was really popular with all the customers her age. He watched her return with a tall cup and take a sip from the straw.
She immediately spewed the drink back out.
"What the—oh god, this is gross. People actually drink this crap? It's so bitter!"
He couldn't help but laugh as she wiped her tongue with a napkin to rid the aftertaste. Surprisingly enough, he found her somewhat naive, despite her above-average height and atypical demeanor.
"You've never had coffee before?"
"What? Hell no." She replied with a slight lisp as she continued to wipe down her tongue, "What's so funny?"
He couldn't really find the exact words to explain that what brought a smile to his face was her surprised teal eyes behind the white napkin stuck to her tongue. "Nothing. It's just that, you work at a café—
"Yeah. But I've never actually tried the stuff I serve. Why do you actually drink this?!"
"I'm actually not a fan of coffee either," Minato admitted.
"Then what the hell are you doing here? Isn't everybody else at the festival right now?"
"Well, not everyone."
"What?" She blinked in confusion and looked around at the empty room.
"Well, you're here, aren't you?"
That smile of his baffled her even more. It was a kind of friendliness that seemed new to her, causing her to think that maybe it was okay to lower her guard a bit.
"I'm Kushina. Uzumaki Kushina." She blurted, remembering to extend her hand.
"Namikaze Minato. Nice to meet you." He accepted her hand with another amiable smile.
Since handshakes were only meant to be temporary, they fell back to another moment of awkward silence. Until finally, Minato couldn't help but ask:
"Are you planning to turn your hair red again?"
She looked at him quizzically for the atypical question. But she shrugged nonchalantly, "Nah."
"I still have to get another job anyway. It'll probably be easier if I keep it brown like this. Although," She pulled a strand of hair into her eyesight in annoyance, "this dye was cheap as fuck and does a shitty job of doing what I bought it for. But my hair is fucking obnoxious."
"I think you should keep your natural hair color."
Her teal eyes flew to his thoughtful expression, but before she could ask him why, he pointed out the window.
She turned to the window and noticed tiny streams of white light soar over the buildings before bursting into color.
"The view is really nice from here."
Blue pops and green fizzles lit the night sky before she replied, "The blue ones were pretty awesome."
"Really? Because I really like the ones that are red."
She watched scarlet showers of light reflect then dissipate in his clear blue eyes, and thought that maybe coffee didn't taste so bad after all.
A/N: I've always been a MinaKushi fan, especially after having Uzumaki family feels. So this is the product of my love for the family—a MinaKushi story set in modern day.
As I mentioned, there are side pairings in here as well and some of the Naruto parents will be featured.
Another side note: Feuille= leaf in french (I'm a spanish student actually, so my french-student sister could be screwing with me and if that's the case, curse her). I figured that it made a nice tie in to the Village of the Leaf or something. If anything, I'll just privately enjoy the connection.
Unlike most of my stories so far, this one is more slice-of-life. Oh, and my characters are a lot more vulgar here...(well, at least Kushina) than in my HitsuHina fics. But of course, the relationships here take on a different dynamic that I'm excited to explore.
Anyways, thanks for reading and please review!