"Anniversary Blend, really?" Shishido asks, dumping a heaping double tablespoon into the coffee filter followed by another.
Yukimura reaches over and plucks the measuring tool out of his hand. He shakes his head, fills it precisely, and dumps it into the filter, then hands it back to Shishido.
"You have been here for how long?"
"Almost two years."
"Yes. And how do we make our coffee?"
"Perfect and precise just like Kachou wants," Shishido drones.
"Exactly," Yukimura says with a smile, patting Shishido on the shoulder. "I'd rather put out Sumatra or Tribute, but they are orders direct from corporate."
"Lame. We never run out of this stuff."
"That's why there is only one going out. Do pay attention."
It is nine AM and the first wave of customers filters through the door. They ignore the counter, heading straight for the coffee island. Yukimura smiles at them as they gather around at one of the coziest areas in the store and begin their daily catch up session. House Blend would be out by ten if they kept up this stream, so he squats down and pulls out another large bag of beans. The sound of coffee being ground echoes throughout the store until the entire bag is empty. Yukimura deposits the lot in front of Shishido, motioning him to make this next.
"What about the Anniversary blend?"
"Just finish that one and put out some bags for sale. It's not popular here and I'm not about to run off customers because of something corporate wants. We cater to our patrons, not to them."
Shishido smiles as he carries the blend out onto the floor. Yukimura sends Sakaki a text, apologising for going against orders. He feels justified when he receives one from the owner that says I trust your judgment. Itteyoshi! The manager smiles and tucks his phone away.
"Hey Kachou~," Kirihara says, appearing from the back. He tugs his apron over his head and ties it around his waist. "Where do you want me today?"
Yukimura chuckles. The sexual innuendo blatant but unrecognised by his coworker. "Up here with me," he says. "Marui and Jackal should be here soon, so I'd like you to load up the case."
Kirihara smiles. "I can totally do that. I'm awesome at it."
"I'm sure you are," Yukimura says."You man the counter with Shishido while I take care of some stuff in the back, okay?"
"So whipped," Shishido whispers as Yukimura passes him to go into the back.
The barista can't find argument with that. He is absolutely sure Kirihara would follow him to the ends of the Earth. It is endearing in a cute puppy sort of way. At least he is trainable. A rap on the back door catches his attention and he opens it to the bubble-blowing face of Marui.
"You're late. Again," Yukimura says, cocking an eyebrow.
Jackal bows in apology and jerks his thumb towards the redhead. "Blame him."
"Oi! I'm not the one that made us late. It was that old lady at the store in Harajuku," Marui exclaims. "Listen, Seiichi, that broad was trying to take what I save specifically for you. It took me a bit to get her to back the hell off of the goods."
"You know, there is always the option to come here first."
"Nah. I like seeing your face last before I go back to baking."
Yukimura smiles. "Kiss ass," he says, stepping past him to look inside the delivery van. It all looks very good. If he was someone like Marui, he doubted they would get delivered at all. He still wonders about it. "I think you should make two trips to me every day."
Jackal rubs the back of his head. "I don't know, Yukimura. That doesn't leave much time for baking."
"Oh, I meant you can come, Jackal. I only need to see Bunta once."
Marui's bubble pops prematurely. "What the fuck?! I thought we were bros. Is that old man turning you soft or something?"
"Quite the contrary," Yukimura deadpans.
"Oh. My. God. That's disgusting." Marui covers his ears and looks away.
Yukimura laughs loudly. "We go through quite a bit throughout the day. Limited stock means we run out. I'd rather not overstock pastries because of their shelf life."
"I understand," Jackal says, he pulls out the first tray and sets it on the cart. "Ten thousand for the lot."
Marui's hands fall to his sides. "Why do you always undercut my work?!"
"He's not taking it all, baka," Jackal returns. "Just the top. We'll go back to the store and sell the rest. Anyway, back around what? Two?"
"Two would be perfect. I really appreciate it." Yukimura wraps his arm around Marui's shoulder. "If you're a good little baker, you can come visit me again."
"I'd rather you answered your damn phone so we could go out."
"And interrupt my time with Sanada-san?"
"Yes. He doesn't live with you... oh, fuck, he better not."
"No, he doesn't. What kind of man do you take me for?" Yukimura asks in mock surprise.
"I was going to say a whore, but usually they don't keep guys at their place. OW! You didn't have to pinch me," Marui says, rubbing his arm furiously.
"You know I hate that word."
"Sorry. I mean it. Hey, take the tray for eight thousand. Discount because I was a jerk. That cool?"
Yukimura smiles. "Perfect. Eight thousand for my one this afternoon too?"
Marui's mouth opens in surprise, then he closes it and nods. "Yeah. That works."
"Wonderful. You're my favourite."
"So you'll go out with me and Masa tonight?"
"YES~! About damn time."
Jackal rolls his eyes. "Take them to the front?"
"Please. Kirihara is ready to put them away."
"So," Marui draws out after Jackal has disappeared into the store.
"You and the old man? It serious? You gonna meet his wife any time soon?"
Yukimura shrugs. "It's the most serious relationship I've been in, Bunta, but I'm not sitting here analysing it. We just go with it."
Marui's eyes go wide. "Masa was right."
"What did he say?" Yukimura crosses his arms and leans back slightly to make sure nothing has exploded in the store.
"That you're done messin' around and this guy has grounded you in a way that no one else could."
"What am I? Some wild stallion needing to be tamed?"
"When you put it that way..."
Yukimura laughs and smacks his arm playfully. "Maybe Masaharu is right, but he is most likely wrong. By the way, never drunk dial me in the middle of a threesome."
Marui's face turns as red as his hair. He sputters as Jackal returns from the back.
"Is he choking?" Jackal asks, worry written all over his face.
"Oh no," Yukimura says with a chuckle. "I just told him something utterly embarrassing about himself. Thank you for the delivery. I appreciate it." He writes a check for the amount (plus tip) and passes it over to Jackal. "I'll see you this afternoon."
Jackal nods and closes up the van, pushing Marui to get in. He waves as he pulls out of the back lot. Yukimura walks back inside and closes the door behind him.
"Hello, Shiraishi. Late night?" he asks, taking in the tired appearance of the shift manager.
"US Open finals. Tezuka insisted on watching live."
Yukimura suppresses a laugh. "Go back home and get some rest. I'll call in Niou early."
"Thanks. I really appreciate it," Shiraishi says, folding back up his apron and sticking it in his bag. He leaves through the back and Yukimura sends a text to both Yagyuu and Niou. Niou. Work now. Don't send Yagyuu. He puts his phone away and heads to the front.
"Kachou, kachou," Kirihara says when Yukimura reappears. "How's it look?"
"Just fine, Akaya. Good job." The barista ruffles fly away curls as Sanada walks through the door. The morning just got better.