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Another Long Black

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Sugawara Koushi pat his pant pockets down, searching for the correct amount of change as the barista waited patiently.

“I’m really sorry.” He muttered. Usually he was really on top of things, but this interior architecture design project for University was absolutely killing him. He’d finally finished it in the early hours of the morning, and was on his way to hand it in. Honestly, the prospect of getting some sleep was at the very top of his wish list at the moment.

“That’s okay, take your time, Senpai.” Yamaguchi stood on the other side of the counter, lips curving into a sunny smile. “Although, are you sure you need this coffee? This is your fifth one this morning.” It was kind of true… although he’d actually been at the 24 hour café since seven p.m. the night before. And also the night before that, and maybe the night before yesterday as well. But Yamaguchi really didn’t need to know.

“No, no…” he almost groaned, “you really don’t understand, Yamaguchi-kun. I need this coffee.” He finally found the exact amount of change and handed it over. Koushi sighed – there went the last of his money.

The younger, freckled boy shrugged, “If you say so. Then, a long black is coming right up!”

“Thank you.” Koushi breathed. He probably seemed like a caffeine addict, but after pulling three all nights, the hit of stimulants was the only thing keeping him awake. He blinked, trying to keep his eyes open as he shuffled back to his table to clear everything up and pack his project into a large folder, alone with carefully place his handmade model into a shoe box. Faintly hearing his name being called, he went back over to the counter to collect his drink, slurring a ‘thanks’ as he took a sip.

He left quickly, juggling all of his belongings as he headed down the sidewalk toward Building B, where the Arts and Design firm was held. He sure hoped all those long nights were worth the project, as it could really make or break his chance at getting a top position in the internship the University offered. Deep within his thoughts, he barely noticed the paved walkway turning into the grass turf for the soccer field.

It all happened to quickly as he began to topple forwards; his project flew from its position clamped between his arm, and the coffee spilled out, scalding his hand before landing unceremoniously on the fresh grass. Damn, he was so sleep deprived.

Sitting up slowly, the events soon registered through his mind as he noted the coffee – lid popped open and the crushed cup lying so sullenly on the ground. Tears rushed to his eyes; because that seriously wasn’t just any coffee. It was the coffee. The coffee he’d spent the last of his change on. Oh no, no, no… this honestly couldn’t be happening right now. He didn’t even care for his burnt hand, or even his project – well he did a little – because nothing could compare to that stupid, freakishly, bitter-tasting cup of coffee that he didn’t even like, but would drink anyway.

And in that moment, everything in life just seemed to be against him, and it utterly sucked since he swore he deserved to have no such thing happen to him. So the only thing he could even think of doing was to cry. To blubber like a complete idiot sitting on the edge of a soccer field, mourning over a forsaken coffee because nothing could fit his situation any better than this.

 


 

Tears had been streaming down his face and snot had been running out of his nose in the most unappealing matter for at least ten minutes; but Sawamura Daichi didn’t care.

He knew he shouldn’t be looking, but it was really hard not to when you were sitting on a bench under a tree that was facing the field. In fact, it just occurred to him that if he had been staring for so long, he should have gone to help the other boy. But something stopped him from doing so. It wasn’t that he took amusement in this, but he felt as though the boy was obviously stressed and just needed some time alone to sort himself out. He really didn’t want to approach the silver-haired adult and embarrass him in his vulnerable state.

Daichi sat up higher in his chair, looking around to see if anyone else was watching; because grown men have their pride, and it wouldn’t be good if someone else was around laughing at the scene. Sighing in relief when he saw no one, he lifted his wrist to check the time. 8:42.

His own class would be starting soon. The raven-haired man was studying to be an engineer, however, his class was in Building B for his practical class, as they were learning how to fix manual gear boxes; and that building was the only place large enough to fit a workshop in – allowing them space to build and fix old cars.

Standing from his seat, he pulled his shoulder bag over his head and swiftly walked over to the still bawling male. Daichi couldn’t help but blush a bit, because close up, the man was kinda cute. Smooth pale skin glistened under the sheen of dry tears and the small beauty spot was scrunched up in an adorable way as he cried. Fishing a clean towel out of his bag (the workshop area could get really hot without an air-con), he placed it carefully beside the silver-haired boy and quietly placed the man’s belongings back into their rightful place.

He tried not to gaze for too long, but the layout designs and the actual model held so many perfect details he couldn’t help but admire it for the next few seconds. It didn’t seem like anything was badly damaged – save for a few grass stains and dirt on the model. He brushed most of it off and placed it carefully back into the box, stacking it on top of the folder.

It was then when he noticed the angry-red hand that seemed to have started to blister. Well, that changed his plans quite drastically. Whipping out his phone, he dialled in a number and pressed the device to his ear. “Hello, Asahi? Yeah, I’m going to be late to the workshop today, could you tell the Prof? … It’s just a medical emergency... Hah? Not me! Someone else… I’m hanging up now… Bye.”

Turning back to the poor guy, he shook his head with a sigh. “Let’s get you to the nurse.” He spoke beneath his breath, before announcing himself a little louder, “Excuse me.”

“W-What?” The boy suddenly opened his eyes – more tears spilling out as his cheeks flushed red.

“Look, we need to get you cleaned up, you’ve burnt yourself.”

“What?” He repeated, completely out of it.

Almost face-palming, he decided there was no other option but to take matters into his own hands. Literally. He picked up his towel and wiped the other’s face clean of tears and snot, picking up the project and tucking the folder into own bag. He then placed the shoe box into the man’s uninjured arm and picked him up in a swift manner. The latter yelped softly, slowly coming to his senses as Daichi began to walk away.

“B-But the coffee…” The pale-skinned male weakly cried out. However, he didn’t make a move to pull away. In fact, as Daichi continued to walk, his eyes began to droop as he drifted off into a light sleep.

Looking down at the sleeping boy, he shook his head once again with a faint smile. “Such a child.”

 


 

"Ennoshita-san! It was so embarrassing! I'm never going back to University again!" Koushi wailed. The boy was curled up on his dorm bed, crying to his roommate — depressed. He'd finally gotten a good night's sleep and had woken up the next afternoon, reliving the moments of yesterday. "He even went off to hand my project in for me! And he was hot! And really strong! He lifted me like I was nothing!"

The other boy only laughed, spinning on the desk chair he sat upon, "Koushi, are you sure you aren't in love with him?"

"What? No!" He looked horrified for a moment while he paused, "Oh no... What if I did something stupid whilst he was with me? What if I kissed him?! He'd think I'm totally gay!"

"Koushi, you are gay." Ennoshita stated blatantly. "Do you remember what he looks like?"

A soft blush rose up his neck as he though back to the moment he was nestled within strong arms. "Short, cropped raven hair... a strong jaw... a cheesy little smile." Koushi sighed wistfully, "All that and I just had to be in such an embarrassing state. Tell me Ennoshita-san, who in the world would cry over a coffee?"

"I can think of someone."

"Who?" Koushi's head popped up from underneath the doona.

"You." He watched the silver-haired man pout and chuckled again, "I'm only kidding, I've seen Noya cry over his spilled drink."

"Only because Asahi made it for him." The older boy countered. "And I was there too, remember?"

Ennoshita sighed, "If you feel so embarrassed about what happened, then maybe you should try and apologise — lift the weight off your shoulders."

Koushi blinked at the suggestion, considering the idea, "That's probably the most reasonable thing you've said today."

"Hey!"

"No, you're right though. I should go and apologise; I mean, I caused him so much trouble." The covers were suddenly thrown off, sending a small breeze through the room. Koushi stood from his bed and rushed to his door, hurriedly pulling on his shoes. “I’m gonna go find him.”

“Whoa, be careful!” Ennoshita warned, “Your hand is still injured and those bandages could come undone at any moment.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll fix them up later!” Koushi called back, already halfway down the dorm corridor.

“Oi! I have class in half an hour and you forgot… your… key…” the other boy trailed off, knowing it was no use as his friend could no longer hear him. “Ahh, I’ll just tell the dorm lady to get the spare key prepared.”

 


 

“… It was cute.” Daichi scratched the back of his neck, explaining the unusual event that occurred in the previous day. Asahi and Nishinoya sat opposite him, as they lovingly shared a basket of fries together.

“Then, are you going to try find him again?” Asahi questioned, “I’m sure he wants to thank you.”

Daichi suddenly looked crestfallen, “That’s the thing though; he probably doesn’t want to see me. I carried him all the way to the nurse and I’m sure I’ve damaged his pride somehow.”

“You never know, Senpai.” Nishinoya cut in, a bright gleam in his eye, “Do you know his name? Maybe I know him?” Nishinoya’s friend base was much more expanded due to him being close with a variety of people throughout all the levels of University students. He was quite popular after all; being a barista of the most popular café on campus.

“No, but I remember what he looks like.” The older boy smiled a little at that.

“Ooh, so you like him? Is that why you’re worried about seeing him?” Nishinoya – ever so observant of others – clicked his fingers as he figured it out, “I know! You’re scared that the more you get to know him, you’ll actually fall in love, right?”

He visibly gulped and gave a subtle nod. Daichi didn’t fall in love with just boy wandering around, but when he did, he fell hard. “I’d probably scare him off if he found out.”

“Only Asahi could do that, he looks like a thug anyway.” The shorter boy joked before engulfing his boyfriend in a hug, “I’m kidding… Asahi is the nicest person I know.” He laughed, causing the latter to flush a tomato colour.

“Yuu, stop that… we’re in public.” Asahi whispered, gently pushing the smaller away. “Anyway, what will you do if he does end up finding you and trying to be friends?”

“That won’t happen, I’ll just avoid the Art and Design Building.” Daichi formulated. He didn’t know why he felt so adamant about avoiding the other boy, but he supposed the strange pull of attraction he’d felt spoke loud enough about it.

The tallest of the group grimaced as he sweat dropped, “T-That’s impossible, Sawamura. We have workshop there.” A heavy tension fell upon the table as Daichi clenched his fists, seemingly turning into a stone statue. The realisation was too much for him and he couldn’t think of any other way to avoid bumping into the boy. His only hope was that the other boy was so embarrassed they both tried to avoid each other.

The pregnant silence was soon broken when Nishinoya jumped up. “Wait! You never described who he was to me!” He pointed a finger toward Daichi in a demanding manner.

“Hah? You never asked me to. I just said I remembered his features.”

“So?” the young boy raised an eyebrow expectantly, ignoring Asahi’s chiding; telling him the calm down.

“Fine.” Daichi huffed, “He was pale – a bit like you, Nishinoya, but his skin was smoother than yours...”

“Whoa, he’s really going into detail isn’t he?” Nishinoya whispered to his lover.

The raven-haired boy frowned. “Are you listening or not?” With a confirmative nod, he continued, “He was about my height with a thinner frame, but he still seemed pretty muscular. His hair was silver – kind of long, but tousled like bed-hair. And he had this really cute beauty spot right next to his eye… right about… here.” He pointed to the spot he remembered it being.

The whole time, Asahi and Nishinoya were glancing at eachother knowingly. “So, you’re talking about Sugawara Koushi.” Nishinoya placed a calculating hand on his chin whilst nodding thoughtfully. “Ah, yes… he’s a very nice person. Very suitable for someone like Senpai.”

“Hold up, hold up… you know who I’m talking about?”

“Of course! Suga-senpai is always coming to the 24 hour café for drinks!” Nishinoya grinned, “Yesterday, Yamaguchi told me that Suga-senpai was there even before his shift started. And then, guess what? He bought five long blacks in the space of two hours! Suga-senpai doesn’t even like coffee!!”

“Um, okay?”

“Don’t worry Sawamura-senpai!” Nishinoya jumped up again, pulling Asahi along with him. “Seven o’clock at Nekoma Noodle Bar tonight! I’ll make sure it’s a date!”

And with that, Daichi was left with nothing but confusion. “What?”

 


 

Koushi didn’t know what to do. Nishinoya had asked him to go to the Noodle Bar for something important, but he didn’t expect to see him. He hadn’t even realised that this was the man he was actually waiting for until Nishinoya had messaged him a vague ‘good luck’.

They’d already suffered through half an hour of silence, waiting for their meals before digging in when it finally arrived. Both had yet to speak a word to each other and Koushi was so nervous he couldn’t find it in himself to do anything but stuff his mouth like a chipmunk. If anything, this was more embarrassing than the coffee incident.

The other man had set down his chopsticks, taking a sip of water before clearing his throat. “So… your name is Sugawara-san, correct?” Koushi could only nod at the question. “I’m Sawamura Daichi.”

The silver-haired boy quickly swallowed. “I - uh, I see. Um. Yeah…” He trailed off awkwardly.

“Look, I’m sorry if I embarrassed you last time…” Daichi tried to reason.

“No!” Koushi quickly denied, waving his hands rapidly, “It wouldn’t have happened if I’d just have gotten some sleep. It was my fault! Oh, and thank you for helping me with my project; it was a really important one and I even started it three months ago. In the end, I still ran out of time, so I had to pull three all nights. And oh, gosh, I must have troubled you so much! I’m really sorry! Honestly, I was just so flustered and I hadn't showered in three days and I just felt like a complete failure. I must have looked like a complete mess, crying like an idiot with day-old clothes on and greasy hair.  Geez, and now I sound like such a prissy person! I mean, I am gay… but I'm not that prudish nor ostentatious! At least… I don’t think so...”

As Koushi sucked in another breath, Daichi burst out in a fit of laughter at the small rant the latter was having. “You must’ve had a lot on your mind…” Daichi laughed.

“I’m really, truly sorry. You caught me at a bad time.” Koushi bowed down, ashamed. He could feel his cheeks burning.

“It’s really okay, you were just stressed.” The raven-haired male smiled to try and comfort his companion. The boy was far too cute in both appearance and personality, that his heart was racing in anticipation – and it wasn’t every day that you found out that the man you might like was also gay themselves. “Anyway… you mentioned you were homosexual… right?”

“O-Oh, I did?” He was even more ashamed now. “You’re not disgusted, are you?”

“Me? Of course not. I’m not straight either.”

Koushi blinked, a blush rising once again. “R-Really? That’s good.” He paused, “I mean, in the sense that we can both relate to each other.” He quickly added on, in case his ‘date’ got the wrong idea… which technically wasn’t even wrong in the first place.

Daichi could practically feel the smile melt from his face. Maybe this attraction was going to be one-sided after all? As he began to frown at the thought, a waiter approached the two with a lazy grin. “Evenin' gentlemen. Would you like some tea or coffee to finish off your meal for today?” They held a metal jug in each hand; both steaming from the hot drinks.

“Tea, please.” Koushi immediately said, as Daichi asked for the same. As soon as the waiter left, Daichi turned toward the other boy.

“No coffee for today?” He asked in a joking manner.

Koushi chuckled in response, his voice only slightly above a whisper as he replied. “Actually, I don’t even like coffee… I just needed it to keep me awake. It's a lot stronger and more concentrated than tea, after all.”

“Then, what’s your favourite drink?”

Blinking, Koushi finally smiled properly. “Well, if I had to pick… I would say fruit-flavoured tea. Strawberry chamomile is one of my favourites.”

Daichi smiled back, “Next time, I’ll bring you to a tea house then.”

“Next time?” Koushi adopted a surprised, yet interested look.

“Yes.” He nodded, “Next time.”

 


 

「おまけ : omake

7 years later

A heavy thud resounded in the entrance hall of their apartment, and Daichi quickly rushed over. “Koushi, are you okay?”

A pair of watery eyes looked up at him, rimmed with pink and dark eye bags underneath it. “D-Daichi.” He sobbed, “The coffee.”

The darker haired boy glanced downward to see a pool of brown liquid spreading across the tiled area and seeping into his lover’s jeans. He’d have to wash those later. Sighing, he picked the boy up into his arms and dropped a kiss onto his cheek, “Who cares about the coffee? You don’t even like it.”

“You don’t understand Daichi. I need that coffee.”

“No you don’t. What you need is a good night’s sleep. Being the co-owner of your design firm doesn’t mean you have to suffer from sleep deprivation.” Daichi helped the thinner male strip from his stained clothing, tossing the items into the laundry basket before carrying his boyfriend into their bedroom.

He gently placed and already-dozing Koushi beneath the doona before turning away to clear up the mess in the entrance hall. But a vice-like grip wrapped around his wrist as he too was pulled onto the bed.

“Be my cuddle-buddy.” Koushi murmured, snuggling closer.

Daichi merely smiled at the sight. “Such a child.” He whispered back. Cleaning could wait.

「おわり : owari