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--for i am also we

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Compared to everything else that has happened since those first few weeks, the dreams would probably rank pretty low on anyone's list. After all, those night time stories can get pretty bizarre fairly quick, and it's not like anyone has any control over them.

Of course, when everyone starts dreaming about Mr Tall and Handsome, Isashiki decides enough is enough.


The problem, however, is that Miyuki  isn't talking to anyone.

"It's understandable," Chris is saying, to the background staccato of their footsteps, "that he'd be embarrassed. Broadcasting it is one thing, but the dreams are on an entirely different scale."

"Oh, come on," Isashiki pants; Chris doesn't even look out of breath, and Isashiki's soul withers a little with envy. "It's not like this is the first time it's happened."

Chris has the good grace to flush at this. "I did apologise."

Waving one hand in front of him, Isashiki grins. "I know, I know. Thank god Tetsu took it well."

That deepens the blush, and he ducks his head with a light cough. "Why don't we give it a few more nights? Let him have some time to figure things out. If it looks like he's still...having difficulties, then we'll ask him if he wants help."

"Tell you what," he says as they round a corner, sending ducks flying in a burst of flapping wings and indignant quacks, "since we all know that's not gonna happen, how about I just ask him the next time I see him?"

Frowning, Chris opens his mouth--

"You know it's true."

--and closes it, shaking his head. "You just want an excuse to set them up."

"He works at a bakery," he exclaims, "and the guy's practically a regular by now. How has it not happened yet?"

That earns him a laugh, a short tumbling sound in the early morning air; the next time Isashiki looks over, the only company he has is the woman perched on a bench some few feet away.

"Everything alright?" she asks, despite the way her fingers are gripping the edge of her seat.

"Yep!" Isashiki hollers back, and returns his attention to the footpath ahead of him, grinning. "Just peachy. Am I right?"

"About what?" Miyuki asks.

"What?" Kawakami echoes.

They blink at each other, two pairs of hands stilled on two different tasks. 

Kawakami sets down the chair he's holding, and tugs out his earphones. "Did you say something?"

"No, uh. I thought I heard you say something," he replies, ducking behind the counter to slot the last of the pastries into place. He straightens, just as the back of his neck explodes in goosebumps. Miyuki whirls around, tray raised,

At the closed kitchen door.

Fantastic, Miyuki thinks, lowering his arm as he turns to face his colleague.

Kawakami's concerned frown has deepened by several angles. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," Miyuki says, rubbing his free palm over his eyes. "I didn't sleep too well last night."

Kawakami's expression shifts into a sympathetic smile. "Bad dreams?"

"Yes," he coughs, steadfastly not thinking about said dreams. "Terrible stuff. Nightmares and--and things." He cringes.

Fortunately, Kawakami's too good-natured to take that at anything other than face value, and he returns his attention to the floor, the soft swish-swish of the broom filling the silence. Miyuki escapes to the back room.

Get it together, he tells himself, swallowing the rising bundle of nerves in his throat. It's just another day, another normal day at work, doing normal work things, around other normal people. Everything is fine. Everything is fine, he sends out, with every ounce of confidence he can muster.

The replies he get are a jumbled mess, but a string of amused disbelief rings out clearest, reverberating through his bones.

Miyuki grits his teeth, pushes everything to the back of his mind, and heads back out.

Soon enough, the morning rush starts pouring in. Kawakami's got the register today, so Miyuki dashes around making coffee after coffee after tea, occasionally sidestepping Kawakami as he grabs pastries from the display cases. With just the two of them at the shop today, the crowd gets to be quite a handful, and Miyuki is thankfully occupied for the next few hours.

By the time the crowd slows to a crawl, Miyuki has all but convinced himself he's completely forgotten about the dream, and the way he had twisted awake among the sheets, with a hammering heart (among other things). He's leaning against the counter in the back room, sipping his daily free coffee and fiddling with his phone, feeling a rare moment of blissful ease.

Which is--of course, in the way life tends to play out--the exact moment the bell rings again, and he hears Kawakami greet their latest customer.

Miyuki takes one last sip, sets his coffee down on the counter, and walks back out,

And freezes.

Their latest customer moves away, and Kawakami calls out the order, giving Miyuki a puzzled look when he doesn't respond.

Miyuki smiles in response, feeling his cheeks hurt from the effort of it. He plucks a cup from the stack nearby, grabbing the milk carton from the fridge and a small jar of green powder from the shelves--one matcha latte with whipped cream, coming right up, he can do this. Picking up a packet of blueberry tarts, he takes both pastry and half-made drink to the back, sliding the former onto a plate and popping them into the microwave. He rocks on the balls of his feet, picks up his drink, and takes a huge gulp from the cup.

"Sounds like your guy has a sweet tooth," Isashiki says.

Miyuki chokes on his coffee.

"Wouldn't have pegged him as the type," he continues, arms crossed as he peers at the microwave.

"Jun-san," Miyuki wheezes, in between attempts to cough up his lungs.

"Also, you should give him extra whipped cream, even though he might not even notice it."

"Jun-san," he repeats, and this time the words sound closer to his normal tone, "what are you doing here?"

Now Isahiki turns the full brunt of his glower onto Miyuki, straightening to his full height. "I'm here," he says, slow and deliberate, "to help."

Miyuki grins wide. "With what, exactly?"

"With this," he says, nodding at the microwave, just as it starts beeping loudly.

Taking a few steps forward, Miyuki tugs the plate of tarts onto a tray, and adds the finishing touches to the latte. "You want to help me do my job?"

"No, I want--extra! Give him extra!"

Miyuki pauses from where he's adding the finishing touches to the latte. When Isashiki's glare doesn't relent, Miyuki squeezes out an additional swirl of whipped cream.

Isashiki nods, satisfied, and continues. "I'm going to help you win his heart."

He stares.

The door swings open and Kawakami's head pops through the gap. "Miyuki? Is that order almost done?"

"Yep," he says, picking up the tray and whirling around. Kawakami holds the door open for him, and Miyuki strides out into the front, making his way over to the window seats, where one of their few customers is waiting. Isashiki follows closely behind; Miyuki's stomach twists around itself, and his whole body feels tense, every muscle coiled tight.

"Deep breaths," Isashiki says.

When they get close enough, Miyuki sees that the table is a mess of things--laptop and camera and wires in between, partly hidden by a notebook filled with scrawls, half of its pages drooping over the edge of the table. Clearing his throat, he says, "Excuse me."

He looks up, unfocused blue eyes meeting Miyuki's gaze.

Miyuki waits, breath lodged in his throat.

Neither of them move.

"Say something," Isashiki hisses.

Lips stretching in a wide smile, Miyuki asks, "One matcha latte, and a side order of blueberry tarts?"

He blinks, mouth shaping a small 'o.' Long fingers hastily begin clearing space on the crowded table, and Miyuki watches as he transfers the sleek, shiny camera to his lap.

Miyuki sets the order down, wary of the notebook. "Can I get you anything else?"

A small shake of the head, and then his attention is back on the laptop screen, fingers tapping against the keyboard.

Stomach dropping, Miyuki keeps his smile on, turns around, and begins making his way back to the counter.

"That's it?" Isashiki sputters.

"Yes," he mutters.

"No," he growls. "Say something else. Ask him about his day. Ask him what he's working on. Ask him about his camera."

"I'll be in the back," he nods to Kawakami.

"Oi, don't ignore me!"

Once the door swings close behind him, Miyuki levels Isashiki with his best 'I'm-dead-serious-here' expresssion. "Jun-san, he's just a customer."

"Who you think is really hot."

Miyuki smiles. "No, I don't."

He scoffs. "Yeah, right. You were dreaming about him just this morning."

Every thought in his mind screeches to a halt. "How did you know about that?"

"What do you mean, 'how?' Everyone--" Isashiki stops. "Oh. Oh shit."

Miyuki squeezes his eyes shut, and focuses on taking deep, steady breaths.

"Okay, look. This isn't that big a deal."

In and out, Miyuki tells himself. In, out.

"We understand. It happens to everyone, just another one of those weird things we gotta accept as normal now . No big deal."

In. Out.

"Miyuki. Oi, Miyuki!"

He opens his eyes, and when he smiles, it feels just a touch hysterical. "Yes."

"We've got your back, okay?" Isashiki says. "All of us. We're in this together as a group. As a cluster. Got it?"

"I don't need your help with anything," Miyuki tries again.

"Trust me, okay? I know what I'm doing."

"With what?" Miyuki asks, resisting the urge to back away with all his might. "What are you going to do?"

Isashiki puts his hands on his hips as he stares at the door, thoughtful. 

Despite his best effort, Miyuki finds himself backpedaling, but he hits the wall far too soon, and when he looks around for safe cover, Isashiki pins him with a determined look.

"Alright," he says, with a one last nod, "I'm going to get you his number."