Tooru slumped over his register in the drive thru alcove, stifling an aggravated wail of boredom. The sky outside the window to his right was still a deep shade of indigo, just barely beginning to dust grey ahead of the sun’s eventual appearance.
He hated working the early shift. Not only was it entirely too early for him to be awake in the first place, but also it was so boring. There were hardly any customers before seven o’clock and the people on shift didn’t even try to make up for that by being interesting to talk to.
At least when he had to work the evening shift, the usuals that worked were fun to talk to. Really, he preferred midday, maximum time spent interacting with customers, never a dull moment, hardly a spare second to pee, and minimal cleaning tasks. Oikawa considered the sun hours shifts to be the best, but not every barista agreed with him.
The harsh tone signaling someone in the drive thru launched Tooru out of his miniature lament and he prodded at the button to activate his mic, trilling a sugary and entirely fake greeting, “What can I get started for you today?”
“Good Morning!” a high pitched -and entirely too loud- voice screeched through Oikawa’s headset, leaving him cringing. “I’ll have a vanilla bean frappuccino with 2 pumps of raspberry.”
Tooru hummed, absentmindedly asking the required questions. “Is whole milk and whipped cream all right?”
“Yes, please!” The voice hollered, pausing for a moment before adding, “And sprinkles!”
An amused chuckle breached his lips before he could choke it back, wondering how anyone could have so much energy so early in the morning. “You got it. Anything else for you?”
“Yeah, he’s gonna order something, hold on.”
A silence that was probably only a few seconds but felt like approximately three hours passed before a much rougher -although practically soft and pleasant, comparatively- voice stuttered through the speaker.
Dropping the façade that he’d put on despite no one actually being able to see him through the drive thru box, Tooru glowered temperamentally up at the clock and wondering if whoever he was, was planning to waste his entire shift picking out a drink.
“What sort of thing are you looking for? Something fancy like your friend, or more simple?” he chirped cheerfully, allowing himself a sarcastic eye roll at his overly entirely false customer service voice.
“Simple.” The reply was short, without hesitation.
At least he’d decided not to waste their time anymore, albeit without giving him much more to go on with suggesting a drink. Oikawa ran through the menu in his mind and a wicked little grin quirked the corner of his mouth when he decided he could allow himself to be just a little bit petty.
In his most confident and helpful tone, he purred into his mic, “Well, you can’t get more basic than an Americano. Do you want it hot or iced?”
The poor guy didn’t even question him -not that many people did. “Iced?” he replied, more as a question than an answer.
Tooru didn’t have the patience to argue with an unsure customer so early in the morning. “Iced it is. We’ll see you at the window,” he said, pouring one more dose of viscous charm into his voice.
A quick tap of a button on his headset connected him to the barista working the bar. “Make sure to run that Americano a little long, he asked for it bitter.” The answering confirmation left Oikawa feeling perhaps a little too smug about his imaginary and relatively harmless victory over the customer.
Did it make him a shitty person? Maybe. But he still hoped the guy hated every sip of that Americano.
It was understandably frustrating when Tooru encountered Vanilla-Frappuccino-With-2-Pumps-Of-Raspberry only a few days later -although without his friend's Simple-Iced Americano- and quickly realized that he’d taken his pettiness out on the wrong person.
It was hard not to recognize the entirely too loud and too ear-piercing voice and personality of the short redhead, who as it turned out, was incredibly obnoxious.
Although occasionally quite amusing, and since they only ever met while Oikawa was on the clock, he was obligated to be nice to the kid. Which is why when that human embodiment of chaos rolled into his store at top speed, nearly taking out three customers on his way to the counter, Tooru didn’t even blink.
“Well if it isn’t the loudest tangerine I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting,” he drawled, pasting on a dazzling smile that showed off just barely too many teeth to be comfortable. “What can I get started for you?”
Hinata, as usual, barely stopped for a breath before spitting his order loud enough to burst eardrums. “Can I get a chocolate pumpkin pie latte, iced with whole milk and extra whipped cream?”
“Branching out?” Tooru asked, feigning curiosity as he marked the cup and passed it along to his coworker at the bar.
“I got tired of the frappuccino,” Hinata shrugged, turning to wave at another guy making his way across the cafe in a more civilized fashion. “And just get my friend the same thing you suggested for him last time since he’s a SLOWPOKE.” The last word was shouted at full volume, with the clear intention of aggravating his friend.
Who, Oikawa was quickly realizing, must be Simple-Iced-Americano himself.
He marked the cup but kept it rather than handing it over to the barista, his attention focused on the man who had finally arrived at the counter.
Based on the absolutely monstrous scowl, Tooru surmised that Hinata had been successful in his bid to irritate him, but he also found himself battling his own rising temper.
As it turned out, Simple-Iced-Americano was pretty.
Not as pretty as him, of course, but Tooru had to actually put work into looking quite as good as he did and this guy was apparently just blessed to walk around with perfectly straight, shiny hair and wide blue eyes that probably made people stop and take a second glance. It was unfair and absolutely infuriating.
But he was not jealous, because that would be pathetic.
“Y’know, you really do look like an Americano sort of guy with that scowl. Like you’re looking for any excuse to be angry with everyone.” Tooru purred in the kind of smooth drawl that kept people from immediately realizing he was insulting them.
He didn’t give Simple-Iced-Americano-san enough time to puzzle that out before he spun on his heel and began making the drink himself, grumbling about a lack of taste under his breath.
Really, in his opinion, people who drank Americanos had to be some kind of masochists to like drinking bitter water.
Tooru shifted on his heels and peeked over the top of the espresso machine to scrutinize him again, this time getting to watch Simple-Iced-Americano as he chewed out his entirely unperturbed midget of a friend.
Well, he was cute for a psychotic masochist.
Before he could think better of it, Tooru pulled a sharpie from his pocket and scrawled his phone number across the side of the cup.
Weeks slipped by and with every passing day Oikawa became more consumed by his own near rabid fury at being utterly slighted by the shorty’s ungrateful friend. The obnoxious brat didn’t even have the decency to not show his face at his cafe. He just kept showing up, trailing behind the little redhead and fixing that awkwardly piercing gaze on Tooru every damn time he did.
He decided somewhere around day 27 of no-texts-from-unknown-numbers that he actually hated the guy and if he never saw him again then it would be too soon.
So, of course, because the universe had some sort of grudge against Tooru Oikawa specifically, just as he was about to close up shop on day 28 of no-texts-from-unknown-numbers, the resting bitch faced man walked through the door.
Alone, for once.
The two of them stared at each other over the counter, the empty cafe silent and steadily clouding with tension as the silence dragged on.
Tooru pasted a flimsy imitation of a smile across his lips, the incredibly petty part of his brain hoping that it looked as fake as it felt, and quirked an eyebrow. “Let me guess. Americano, iced?” he asked in his flattest, most sarcastic sort of tone.
It didn’t even seem to phase the dark haired man, who simply ducked his head in confirmation and paid without either of them uttering a single word.
Oikawa stifled the urge to scream, because that would probably get him a write up at least , and spun on his heel to begin making the drink. Once again, he found himself peering over the espresso machine to somewhat subtly stare at him. His mood soured even further as he was forced to admit -to himself and exactly no one else, ever- that he was still attracted to the asshole who didn’t think he was worth texting.
Much to his own humiliation.
Perhaps it was pathetically petty of him, but Tooru allowed himself to stare at the espresso shots until they ran a bright golden yellow, almost twice as long as he should’ve let them pull, before finally dumping them in the ice water. The smile stretching his lips once more was almost dangerously sharp, and just as bitter as the Americano that he slid across the counter without a word.
The sharp satisfaction at how the man ducked his head, avoiding eye contact ever more awkwardly than usual, and snatched the coffee with a hasty, murmured thanks, almost tinged Oikawa’s own farewell with sincerity.
When the bell over the door jingled a few days later and Hinata barreled through at top speed -as usual-, Tooru found he was almost disappointed when his friend didn’t follow after him. He arched a perfectly tweezed eyebrow at the disheveled younger man when he came to a stop at the counter, still panting.
After watching him struggle to start a sentence for a solid thirty seconds, Oikawa resigned himself to assuming that the redhead had sprinted three miles to get there and decided to take mercy on him. “Let me guess, a gingerbread latte with whole milk, whipped cream and marshmallows, extra chocolate drizzle?”
A beaming smile and a frantic nod were his only reply.
Sighing, Tooru marked the cup and passed it over to his barista before ringing Hinata up for his latest sweet-tooth motivated obsession. “Did you lose your shadow?” he asked to fill the silence, cringing at himself when he realized what he'd asked.
So maybe he didn't exactly hate the guy after all.
Hinata’s face scrunched up as he puzzled over Oikawa’s words, glancing over his shoulder at his literal shadow before eventually huffing out a confused, “Huh?”
Tooru decided he did still hate Hinata. A little bit.
“Your friend,” he elaborated in an exhausted deadpan.
“Oh, Kageyama?” Hinata chirped, bouncing on his toes and blinking up at him with wide brown eyes. “We’re meeting at the library cause our friend is helping us study.”
Most of the information slid in one of Oikawa’s ears and right back out the other as he latched onto the fascinating knowledge that Simple-Iced-Americano's name was Kageyama. Much like everything he found interesting, Tooru began dissecting that for more meaning than likely truly existed.
The kanji for ‘yama’ was consistent, always 山, always mountain.
The man was tall -probably taller than Tooru himself, which was nothing short of impertinent of him- but he didn’t have the sort of intimidating presence of a ‘mountain’ with the way he ducked his head and avoided Oikawa’s gaze.
Although, he had seen him sort of grow into himself at times, like when he was yelling at the shorty.
He shelved that idea and moved on to the ‘kage’, which came with options .
The most common was ‘影’, simply ‘shadow.’
Which made his earlier jab about him shadowing Hinata twice as funny and left Oikawa stifling a giggle as he pretended to be listening to what the younger man was saying. It wasn’t interesting, something about his class or his tutor.
A more unusual character would be ‘蔭’, which specifically meant ‘the shadow of the sun’.
His eyes flicked up to scrutinize the sunny redhead -who was still rambling inanely as if his life depended on it.
Now the irony was just annoying.
Tooru sniffed, the corner of his lips curling back in the hint of a sneer before he caught himself.
That left only one other kanji form for the first half of his elusive sort-of-crush-halfway-nemesis’ name: ‘景’, a ‘view’ or something to ‘admire’.
Well, Simple-Iced-Americano-Whose-Name-Was-Actually-Kageyama was unfortunately eye catching, with his infuriatingly too blue eyes and perfectly straight hair that glinted in the light. Which absolutely had to be natural and zero effort because he didn’t seem like the type to put effort into his style.
Snorting harshly before he could manage to keep himself in check, Oikawa finally checked back into his ‘conversation’ with Hinata, only to find him glowering up at him as if he’d just kicked his puppy. “I’m sorry, what?” he apologized half sincerely, arching a brow with the slightest air of condescension.
Hinata crossed his arms over his chest, huffing, “Why’ve you been mean to Kageyama lately?”
“What?” Oikawa choked around a harsh inhale, furrowing his brow together in the perfect picture of confusion. “I’m never anything less than polite, as required by my job.”
The statement was more or less true. Pettiness technically was not prohibited by the cafe’s code of conduct. And saying he was mean was simply an exaggeration.
There was a beat of silence as Hinata hesitated that gave Tooru just enough time to consider leaning across the counter to strangle him. “Yeah, I guess...It’s just-before? It seemed like you might have been interested in him but then you changed your mind overnight or something.”
It was deeply humiliating to discover he was apparently so blatantly obvious even to someone with hardly a single brain cell. But it was downright insulting to be accused of slighting Kageyama when he was the one who’d been rejected and then had to continue looking him in the eye for weeks.
“ I changed my mind?” Oikawa spat, bristling more than he should’ve since he was still technically serving a customer, but somehow unable to care about his job security at that moment. “He’s the one that never texted, go bother your friend instead of me, shorty.”
If he got fired cause of the stupid, pretty, resting-bitch-faced asshole, he might actually track him down and pick a fight with him.
Hinata yelped indignantly, sputtering over his words. “Hey! Who’re you-Wait...What do you mean?”
Tooru froze, the cafe around him sharpening into crystal clarity as his mistake knifed through him. The bright curiosity in Hinata’s round puppy eyes nearly guaranteed he wouldn’t be able to redirect his attention. A long suffering groan that was almost more a growl rumbled from his throat as he fixed him with the sharpest glare in his expansive arsenal.
“I wrote my number on his cup a while back, he never texted me, I assumed he didn’t want anything to do with me,” He replied, clipped and emotionless in his confession.
The longest silence Oikawa had ever experienced in Hinata’s presence hung between them as the shorter man stared at him, his jaw dropped to leave his mouth a perfect ‘oh’ of surprise.
He opened his mouth, possibly to tell him to fuck off now that he’d thoroughly humiliated himself -which would really be the nail in the coffin for this job.
But Hinata didn’t give him the chance. Lunging forward to lean over the counter and far far too into Tooru’s personal space, hissing in an excited whisper. “Bakayama is stupid as shit! He probably didn’t even notice. I don’t know why he orders these things cause he barely drinks any of them, just holds it while he drinks his milkbox and throws it away after a while-”
Tooru realized abruptly that he hadn’t even considered the possibility that Kageyama had somehow missed his number on the cup. The idea was somehow both better and worse.
“-Besides, he has a huge crush on you and now he’s convinced you hate him for no reason and that’s making him act like a jackass so you guys should fix that probably.” Hinata was practically vibrating by the time he finished his impassioned speech, beaming another of his classic toothy grins.
A full thirty seconds passed while Oikawa processed the range of information that the redhead had dumped on him, his thoughts skidding to a complete halt when what he’d said finally clicked. Heat spread across his cheekbones, as if to really complete his utter humiliation. “Oh,” he finally forced out, in a raspy, high pitched squeak.
Hinata’s grin managed to widen past what should’ve been humanly possible as he spun on his heel and sprinted out of the cafe, shouting over his shoulder at the still paralyzed barista. “I’ll make him pick up coffees next time!”
Over the course of six separate shifts, Oikawa managed to pick up an anxious habit of aggressively reorganizing things that didn’t need to be reorganized whenever he had a spare moment.
Because spare moments left him entirely with too much time to think about iced Americanos and awkwards guys named Kageyama that may or may not have a crush on him. Which led to him on his hands and knees, half buried in the cabinet under the register to aggressively scrub at dust and unidentified stains that he hoped were just coffee.
A soft cough startled him into jerking up, smacking his head on the top of the cabinet and letting out a pained yelp. He slumped back onto his heels and prodded at the tender and already swelling knot on the back of his head; a pout twisted his lips into a dramatic pucker at his misfortune.
Heaving himself upright, Tooru fixed a pearly grin on his face, only to have it waver when he met the midnight blue gaze that had been haunting him for weeks now. “Kageyama-kun,” he said, as neutrally as he could manage.
To his satisfaction, Kageyama visibly startled, blinking at him like a startled deer in the headlights of a car. ”How did you find out my name?”
Oikawa didn’t answer, tilting his head to the side and dragging his gaze over the younger man heavily enough to make him squirm. “Americano?” he eventually purred casually, brushing aside his question.
Kageyama’s jaw visibly clenched, but he didn’t press further, merely replying with a short nod.
Pressing his lips together and humming cheerfully to himself to hide the wicked smirk threatening to twist his smile, Tooru swept the espresso transfer pitchers aside and selected a milk pitcher instead.
He filled it and nudged the steam wand into the liquid before spinning the knob and allowing the milk to bubble and hiss for a few seconds. After settling the pitcher on the bar to wait while it reached the right temperature, Oikawa leaned back to indulge in what had apparently become a habit of studying Kageyama over the espresso machine.
Ordinarily the idiot didn’t even seem to notice his gaze. But this time when he looked up, he found him already staring back.
“Do you actually even like coffee?” Tooru blurted, awkwardly enough to make himself cringe.
Of course, Kageyama managed to make him look smooth in comparison by gaping like a choking fish and stuttering out, “I-uh-What?”
The genuine smile threatening to break onto his face at the flustered man’s display compelled him to twist his face away and busy himself with pulling a cut free from the stack next to the bar and scribbling on the side of it.
Oikawa made a point of focusing very intently on pumping syrup into the cup and pouring the milk in after it with a brisk stir, keeping his voice nonchalant as he replied. “I was talking to Shorty and he was telling me, among other things, that you don’t actually drink the Americanos that I so carefully and lovingly craft for you with every ounce of my skill. So I’ll ask again, do you even like coffee?”
Glancing up gifted him the sight of Kageyama once again blinking at him with too wide, too blue eyes, looking as if he were five years old and had just gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Tooru popped a lid onto the cup and slid it across the counter toward him.
“Um, this isn’t my drink,” Kageyama objected, looking as though the words were actually painful for him to get out.
“Actually, it is.” He didn’t bother to hide his smile this time, letting it play at the corner of his lips and slowly spread. “See, after your tangerine of a friend told me that you throw away your drinks after barely even sipping on it, I realized two things. I’d ask if you’d like to know what they are but I’m going to tell you anyway so I’ll save us both some time.”
Although he'd never admit it aloud, it was entirely possible that Oikawa had rehearsed what he might say in this situation and he had no intention of letting Kageyama derail his script, so he plowed on with his speech.
“The first is that if you’re not sucking down every last drop of the immaculate beverages I’m preparing for you, then you obviously don’t actually like them. And I do have questions about why you chose to keep ordering it but we can come back to that. Second, your observation skills are apparently somewhat lacking, as confirmed by little Sho-chan.”
Kageyama opened his mouth, brow furrowed and clearly on the brink of objecting.
Not that he’d actually get the chance.
“ So- ” Oikawa purred, swallowing the intoxicating surge of petty satisfaction at the audible click of his jaw clamping shut at the interruption. “I am solving all of our problems with one very easy solution. This is your new drink and it is hot, sweet, contains no coffee, and most importantly, it is in a white paper cup so this time you can’t possibly miss the black sharpie I wrote my number in.” He beamed a curling smirk at Kageyama, making no effort to conceal his smug glee when wide blue eyes flicked away from his gaze, down to stare blankly at the cup.
Kageyama met his eyes again, and Tooru wondered distantly if it would be tragically pathetic to compare them to the ocean or the night sky. It was easier to push that aside and answer the question that the awkward man was never going to ask, nudging the drink closer to him. “Yes, I’m serious. Now try it.”
Tooru relished in watching Kageyama eye the drink as if it were poisoned or somehow might come to life and eat him alive. But that trepidation melted away from his features as he raised the cup to his lips -which were not perfectly rose pink, thank you very much- and took a brief hesitant sip.
Followed by a second, much longer, sip.
The satisfaction warming his chest was no longer venomous and spiteful, instead twisting and squeezing almost pleasantly. “Ah good,” Oikawa hummed, “you like it then. If you’d mentioned earlier that you preferred milk then I wouldn’t have tortured you for months with what is objectively the worst drink on the menu.”
Sputtering into his drink, Kageyama’s head whipped up to gape at him. “Then why did you suggest it?” he yelped.
Tooru heaved a casual shrug of his shoulders, waving his hands about dismissively. “I’m petty. I like to razz the customers, you’re the one who kept ordering it!"
Leaning forward, he plunked his hands on his hips and winked. “Shorty told me you liked strawberry, so that’s a strawberry steamer, made special just for you.”
Told might not have been strictly accurate to say when it was more like manipulated into confessing, but that was neither here nor there and Kageyama didn’t need to know how much effort he’d put into this. As it was, only the slight air of condescension seeping into his words made him bold enough to actually, dare he say it, flirt with the guy.
Who was revealing himself to be even denser by the moment.
Still, the seconds that passed before the bright, rosy blush spread across the bridge of Kageyama’s nose -dusting his cheekbones in an entirely too adorable glow- were well worth the wait. The sight sent a flush of heat rising in his own face.
Oikawa pushed himself back upright from where he’d been leaning against the counter, and brushed his hands over his apron, suddenly aware of his palms, sticky with sweat. “Anyway, now that you’re a satisfied customer I’ve fulfilled my duty as an employee of this establishment and I should get back to work.” He hesitated, but eventually forced out the rest of his thoughts before he could chicken out, “But you can text me! Or, uh, I’m off in ten minutes, if you want to hang around.”
Turning and half sprinting into the kitchen -where he could already see his coworker laughing at his expense- Tooru couldn’t resist glancing over his shoulder once more. He wasn’t at all disappointed to find Kageyama standing exactly where he left him, eyes focused on the drink in his hands, and the most awkward crooked smile breaking across his face.
He’d never actually seen him smile before -it was absolutely imperfect and just as attractive to him as everything else about the ridiculous man who’d apparently committed to a terrible drink for months on end because of him. That thought was pure speculation, of course, but still enough to make him falter, toe catching an imperfection in the tiled floor and sending him staggering over his own feet, crashing into a shelf.
Groaning, Tooru let himself sprawl on the floor, taking comfort in the fact that he was far enough in the kitchen that he hadn’t actually embarrassed himself in front of the Kageyama. Maybe he did have a perfectly humiliating crush on him, after all.