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Customer Connections

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Clock in: 5:30 am.


This is not how his morning was supposed to go. Akechi never walked into work expecting an easy day, but this was beyond any bad day he could’ve ever imagined. 


There were three call outs. On a Saturday morning. 


Goro Akechi was not one to back down from a fight, even one where he would surely lose but he wanted to sprint and leap through the drive through windows when Ann had told him the situation. Sleep in her eyes and strained false hope in her voice that said this Saturday wouldn’t be as busy as others.


(It was.)


Down six hands, and tickets being printed left and right, Akechi couldn’t hear himself think. But he could hear the top pop playlist cycle through the same 10 songs and he thought maybe he died in his sleep and now he was in hell. 


He brought his cap lower on his face to avoid all the stares of annoyed morning customers wondering where their drink was exactly 3 seconds after ordering it, and tied his hair tighter in a bun.


 He hated Saturday mornings. 

Break: 9:30 am


Akechi ate his turkey panini in the back room, savoring the burn on his tongue. Impatiently waiting for his food to cool down was the only thing keeping him awake. 


Break End: 9:40 am


After 17 Iced caramel Macchiatos, 8 mobile orders, and a ten minute break that felt like two.


He was slowly losing it.


He would give himself a pat on the back for his impressively slow descent into madness in the face of chaos if his hands weren’t busy. 


Another ticket printed.


Akechi’s eye twitched and he cursed everyone who called out that morning because of lack of responsibility and respect and he could go on but he had three frappes to make and he was out of mocha syrup. 


His hands moved quickly through the motions of making each drink, calling out the name and wishing the customer a wonderful day through a smile so fake it deserved an award. 


Orders were coming in and going out in a steady flow. The steady white noise of the drive through headset letting him lose himself to the repeated rhythm of completing drinks. He was so focused the world could burn around him and he wouldn’t notice. 


Literally. As at the other end of the bar a cookie parchment paper caught fire yet again for the fifth time that week. 


“We really need to get different baking paper.” Ann’s voice came through the headset. Drive through had been fairly quiet. It was a miracle that Akechi was thanking every god he could think of for. 


“I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t even get workers comp if we got burned.” She continued as she poured water over the rapidly burning cookie, sounding more exasperated than actually afraid. 


Akechi turned his head to look at her, standing in front of the ovens, where an equally long stretch of tickets printed in front of her. She was waving the oven tongs in the air to rid the area of smoke and rolling her eyes in annoyance at him. 


“I’m pretty sure Okumura could fully drop an oven on my head and we wouldn’t get workers comp.” He replied cynically, sending her a sympathetic smile before returning to his many waiting drinks. 


“I almost wish he would,” Ann laughed. “Put me out of my misery.” 


“Petition for Okumura to drop an oven on our heads to relinquish us from this hell, link in the description thank you, amen.” He answered back, earning a loud laugh from Ann. 


“I’m going to be the one bashing your head in if you don’t let me hear this ladies order.” Makoto’s voice cut through the speaker and Akechi didn’t have to turn to know she was glaring daggers at them, he could feel them. 


“Sorry Mako,” Ann whispered into the speaker, as she crouched down and reached into the fridge, searching for a sandwich. Akechi was pretty sure she was just trying to hide from Makoto’s stare. 

Eventually the morning rush died down, allowing Akechi to wipe down the bar and wash his hands free of all the residue syrup that manages to miss the cup completely. 


“God i’m going to strangle Ryuji.” Ann’s voice came from behind him, he turned to see her balancing stacks of cups and lids she brought to restock him. Only her pigtails visible behind the mountain of cups. He reached up and grabbed enough to expose her face, a grateful smile thrown his way. 


“I’ll go for his legs, knock him down, you strangle him.” He added as they moved around each other, working in sync. 


“Perfect plan,” She winked playfully at him before continuing.  “I just can’t believe him! He didn’t answer his phone either. If I wasn’t so pissed I’d be worried. It’s not like him to not give warning when he calls out.” Ann gnawed her lip with her teeth, lost in thought, thinking of what could’ve happened to him. 


“Hm you’re right. Maybe he overslept but I’m sure he’s fine.” He said, trying to ease her worries. 


It was true, Ryuji always gave warning and always looked for coverage, not wanting to leave them understaffed knowing how hard that was on the rest of them. Ryuji’s usual thoughtfulness the only reason why Akechi was only going to strangle him and not fully kill him. 


“Akira on the other hand,” Akechi started, “I’m going to murder him.” 


“Take a number and get in line.” Makoto chuckled darkly behind him, she had come back from counting the inventory, she was the fastest and most accurate shift manager in the whole store, often getting her work done early and assisting in the front. It’s the reason why she was Akechi's favorite shift manager although he'd die before admitting it to her. “I know for a fact he overslept. How he manages to sleep through twelve set alarms and a cat with a better sleep schedule than him? I'll never know.” Makoto sighed and leaned against the register, adjusting the gift cards in an orderly fashion. 


“It’s honestly a talent how deeply he sleeps.” Ann pitched in. 


“The greatest talent, to go into a damn coma for several hours each night.” Akechi shook his head. 


“Well at least Yusuke gave a reason. Even if that reason made me want to slaughter him.” Makoto said bitterly, remembering the text received in their work chat from Yusuke. 


6:00 AM

Kitagawa Yusuke : I apologize I won’t be able to make it today, I simply have better things to do. 


Akechi commended Makoto's control as she didn’t snap her own phone in two when she read that. 


Ah yes, he was also on Akechi’s shit list. 


He snuck a glance at his phone, checking the time and letting out a sigh of relief. He was clocking out in 15 minutes. Right below the time was a buzzing notification of one missed call and 12 unread text messages. Akechi thought that was a cause for alarm until he read the contact name.


12:15 PM

Missed call from Akira. 



Akira: ok so don’t be mad

Akira: ok so i know ur mad but like DONT BE MAD MAD 

Akira: before u put my head on a spike, he scheduled me for a closing and then an opening at 5 am

Akira: like oh i only need 5 hours of sleep? after an 8 hour shift? UHHHH MR. OKUMURA THAT'S NOT HOW THE HUMAN BODY WORKS 

Akira: I hope it’s not too bad 

Akira: it’s prolly bad, i’m sowwy 

Akira:  <3  


Akechi couldn’t help but laugh at the series of texts, before frowning. Okumura has been doing that lately, scheduling people with too little time in between shifts. Akechi himself falling victim to double scheduled shifts and not enough breaks.


Akechi: choke and die Kurusu 


As much as he felt bad for Akira, he wasn’t going to let him off that easy. Especially as his headset dinged loudly in his ear again. 


The rest of his unread text messages were 


Y Mishima (work): HEYYY!! Would you mind covering my closing this thursday? I’ll work your morning!!

Y Mishima (work): I have my last final and he scheduled me right in the middle :/ 

Y Mishima (work): it’s cool if not! I know u don’t like closing but i just need coverage! THANKS! 


He was pulled from twiddling his fingers over the keyboard to respond by a very loud, very blonde and very late Ryuji Sakamoto. 


Several confused greetings went up at once as Ryuji basically jumped the counter to reach them. 


“I thought you had overslept?” Ann said as she bagged another breakfast sandwich. 


“I did! But I wasn’t scheduled today! So imagine my surprise when I wake up to 24 voicemails from you talking about I was supposed to open today!” Ryuji's voice came muffled but no less pissed as he struggled to slip his tangled apron over his head. 


“You didn’t know you were scheduled today?” Goro asked, side eyeing Ryuji’s struggle with his apron from where he leaned on the bar.


“How could you not know you were going to open today idiot?” Ann smacked Ryuji’s arm as she helped him untangle the strings that he somehow got caught around his neck and bicep. 


“I’m literally never scheduled to open! When the fuck have you ever seen my name next to a shift that says A.M?!” Ryuji exclaimed.


Now that Goro’s head wasn’t clouded with sleep and annoyance, Ryuji did have a point.


Ryuji often worked mid day shifts. Seeing his name on the schedule for morning should’ve raised some alarms but in his defense he was almost completely asleep. 


“Plus he changed the schedule! The one I have, I don’t come in!” 


Ah, well that explained it.


“That bastard.” Goro all but groaned into his hands. 


He was so tired. 


“God that’s annoying. He changed the schedule and didn’t even tell you?” Ann now rubbed the arm she has slapped in sympathy, a contrast to the killing look in her eyes. 


“Nope. Not a fucking word.” Ryuji sighed, “Im sorry guys I didn’t mean to leave you high and dry.” 


Goro mentally crossed Ryuji’s name off his shit list, and bolded, underlined and italicized Okumura Kunikazu.


“Don’t stress it, it’s not your fault.” Goro pitched in, scowling at the slap of thanks Ryuji delivered on his shoulder. 


“Well, I'm here now you can go clock out dude. you look,” Ryuji have him a worried once over, “fucked up.”


Ann smacked him again. 


“You really have no tact do you?” She shook her head as Ryuji complained about the hit.


“I’m not wrong though!” Goro held up a hand to stop Ryuji from pointing out all the ways Goro looked like he caught the plague and was two steps from dying. 


“It’s been such a long fucking day.” He announced, not having the energy to fully commit to screeching about all the horrors of customer service. But after he went home and napped for two hours, he’d be back, and with a vengeance. 


Ryuji stood by him as he clocked out, he didn’t mention anything when Goro leaned his head against his arm as he punched his employee numbers in. He also didn’t remark on the two failed login attempts as Goro fucked up the numbers with his fatigued fingers. 


Goro was grateful for that. His bond with Ryuji was something he truly cherished, going from a minimal amount of acquaintances in school to having the human equivalent of a firecracker latched to your side was jarring, but it wasn’t unwelcome. 


His friendship with Ryuji had been anything but smooth at the beginning.  


Goro was the last person who could be considered an excellent trainer. Yet that’s exactly what he’d been saddled with one day, an overexcited blonde that could barely follow directions.


It ended with Goro getting a drink spilled all over him and Ryuji tripping over Akechi's foot. 


Akechi swore to this very day it was an accident. 


(It wasn’t.)


It took them a few months to fully get over their animosity towards each other. They bonded slowly over ridiculous, blood boiling experience with customers. 


They went  from long winded text messages and visiting during each other’s shifts to eventually hanging out outside of work and he was surprised by how much he genuinely enjoyed it.


They’d gone to the arcade. Ryuji boasted about all his high scores and his expert aim. Goro’s competitive nature reared its head during air hockey, making the puck fly off the table and right at an unsuspecting teenager nearby. It was hard to apologize over Ryuji’s boisterous laughter and through his own barely concealed giggles. 


At least he’d won that round.


When they were saying their goodbyes at the door a claw machine had caught a Akechi’s eye, more specifically, the stuffed mimikyu toy inside of it. 


“You wanna try getting it?” Ryuji's question pulled him out of his gaze, he shook his head in embarrassment at being caught staring at the small toy. 


“No it’s okay, let’s just go.” Despite the words Akechi’s feet remained planted on the floor. 


“Okayyyy, sure dude.” Ryuji said but Akechi’s eyes widened in surprise as he saw Ryuji pulling his wallet from his pocket. 


“Let’s go get that Mimikyu!” 


Akechi stares in shock for a good second at Ryuji animatedly shoving quarters into the machine before smiling and joining him. 


It took them another thirty minutes, all their combined tip money, and lots of yelling but Akechi walked away with a stuffed Mimikyu that day. 


When he went home, he placed the plush toy on his windowsill over his desk, along with an arcade ticket stub, that always brought a smile to his face whenever he was studying. 


Clock out 12:15 pm.


He waved his goodbyes, apron and hat in hand and rubbed away Ann’s glossy lipstick from his cheek after her kiss goodbye. Akechi’s hand was on the door when a customer approached him.


“Um do you know if this was made with sugar free vanilla?” Akechi didn’t know what to focus on first. The nasal tone of her voice, the over arched eyebrows, or the immense amount of stupidity radiating from the woman?


Couldn’t she see he was literally not working right now? That he hadn’t made a drink in the past ten minutes? Did she think he could X- ray vision the contents of her drink? 


He took a steadying breath. 


“I don’t know, but I'm sure if you ask anyone who is actually working right now they will be sure to let you know.” The words were bit out through gritted teeth and a smile that rivaled the sun before promptly turning and walking out the door. 


He collapsed into the front seat of his too hot car, letting his head hit the steering wheel as he let his body melt into the comfort of finally sitting down. 


God, he hated starbucks.