Chapter 1 – The Coffeehouse
Ghouls. They have the same physical appearance as humans and the same intelligence. However, their physical biology is different. Ghouls have a higher capability than humans, with strength about five times that of an average human's, incredible regenerative abilities, heightened senses and much tougher bodies. In addition to this, each has a kagune: a muscle-like protrusion which varies between ghouls and can be used as a deadly weapon.
Some consider them to be an evolution of humanity, but many disagree due to their diet. Human food has the potential to kill or weaken a ghoul and it tastes foul to them. Instead they can only feed on human or ghoul flesh. Due to this they are prosecuted and hunted by the CCG (Commission of Counter Ghoul) and its Ghoul Investigators.
Most interestingly though, ghouls can digest one type of human food:
"Yo Kuroko!" The tall red head called to his friend as he walked into the café.
The coffee shop was of an average size, consisting of near a dozen wooden tables and five seats at the serving counter. There were a few customers sat at tables and a couple at the counter getting served by an energetic blond.
Kuroko looked up from his book to greet his friend who was approaching his table by the window, "Hello Kagami-kun." Kuroko was already settled at the table, sipping a vanilla coffee. He set down the book he was reading. "How was your day?"
"Ah, the usual really, just dealt with some minor fires and hung out at the station. Yours?"
"It's a Saturday so I brought the kids' workbooks here to mark. I just finished and decided to start reading my new book." Kuroko gestured to the book on the table. Kuroko had been a kindergarten teacher for about a year now, having graduated university the year before. Marking the kids' workbooks didn't take long and wasn't particularly difficult, but Kuroko made sure to leave helpful and positive comments in them to help the children improve further.
"You sure have been coming here a lot recently Kuroko," Kagami said thoughtfully. "Why do you like it so much?"
"It has a calm atmosphere and its usually quiet here so it's a good place for me to get work done in." Kuroko replied blankly.
"You sure you're not taking a liking to any of the baristas here?" The fireman smirked.
Before Kuroko had the chance to decline Kagami's ridiculous question, a young, dark-skinned barista walked up to the table. He was wearing an untucked white dress shirt and ebony trousers with a black apron and burgundy tie.
"What can I get you Bakagami?" he asked rudely.
"I'll have a cappuccino Ahomine." Kagami replied in annoyance.
"What'd you call me you bastard?!"
"You heard me idiot."
Kagami and Aomine started butting heads as usual. Kuroko reflected how little they had changed since high school as he watched their interaction. Forever a pair of idiots. He thought. Kuroko was about to politely ask them to stop when a warning voice interrupted their squabbling.
"Daiki," Kuroko noticed that Aomine immediately straightened up at the voice and turned to the man who was speaking to him. "I have told you before, I do not expect you to speak to customers in such a rude manner. Now get back to work." Kuroko recognised him as the manager of the coffee shop. He wore the same outfit as Aomine, but he had kept it much neater than the dark-blue haired barista, actually making the effort to tuck in his shirt and straighten his tie and apron. The manager was noticeably shorter than Aomine and Kagami, but stood about two inches taller than Kuroko himself. The features which struck Kuroko most however were his blood red hair and eyes.
Aomine walked back to the counter to fill Kagami's order whilst the red headed manager walked up to Kagami and Kuroko's table. "I apologise for his rudeness and loudness, I will make sure this does not happen again." he stated professionally with a bow.
"Thanks, but it's cool, we've been friends with that moron since high school." Kagami explained.
A look of recognition crossed the red haired man's face. "Ah, you wouldn't happen to be Kagami and Kuroko would you? My name is Akashi Seijuro. Daiki and I were both adopted into the same family so I have heard of you both frequently. He seems rather fond of both of you." Akashi smiled softly at both of them. After a short moment of silence he continued "I shall leave you in peace now and get back to work. Enjoy your evening." And after a slight bow the short red head walked out to the back of the shop.
A few minutes later, Aomine arrived with Kagami's drink. The navy head shifted uncomfortably before speaking to Kagami "My apologies for being so rude earlier…s-sir."
Kagami cracked up laughing at Aomine's faked politeness. Aomine tensed and had to bite his tongue to stop himself from retorting about what an idiot Kagami is, knowing that if he did Akashi would surely notice and have cause to reprimand him for poor behaviour.
"Kagami-kun, you said you wanted to speak to the two of us. What was it about?" Kuroko spoke up, bringing Kagami out of his laughing fit. Aomine relaxed a bit and pulled up a seat next to Kuroko at the table.
"Yeah, what did you want to say to us?"
"Ah, about that…well my dad called yesterday and apparently my cousin over in America invited me to her wedding. I thought it would be a good time to go back to America for a bit and see the family. I'm flying over there Friday morning and I'll be gone for five weeks."
"You're only telling us about this now?" Kuroko said.
"W-well, it seems dad forgot to tell me about the wedding until two days ago. Anyway, I thought it would be nice if the three of us went out for dinner or something before I go." Kagami said shyly.
Kuroko smiled at Kagami's proposal. "That would be nice Kagami-kun, where were you thinking we should go?"
"That new steak joint that opened up recently is apparently really good. I made a reservation for 7pm Thursday night if that's good for you guys."
"Sounds good to me." Aomine said.
"I am also free that night, I look forward to it Kagami-kun." Kuroko stated.
"Great! It's a date then! Wait…I mean…um…."
Aomine laughed at him. "Look you're getting all flustered Baka-….*ahem* Kagami-san."
Suddenly a green haired man appeared from behind Aomine and started yanking on his ear. "You don't get paid for gossiping with customers Aomine, even if they are your friends, now go help Kise behind the counter."
"Hey that hurts! Midorima, you bastard let go!" Aomine shouted as Midorima dragged him away from the table.
Kagami smirked as Aomine was taken away by Midorima. He then turned to his teal haired friend. "We best be going home now, it's starting to get dark out so I'll drive you."
"Thank you Kagami-kun." Kuroko said as he packed away his books into his shoulder bag. The blue haired man then put on his navy duffel coat, knowing that the cold winter air would be waiting outside. Though, it was now mid-February and the bitter temperatures were beginning to recede.
The duo walked out of the shop and down the street to where Kagami had parked his car. The coffeehouse was not far from Kuroko's house but ever since the increase in ghoul attacks in the area Kagami insisted that Kuroko only walks around at night when absolutely necessary. Kagami happily chauffeured his friend around on the rare occasions he needed to go out at night, comforted by the knowledge that his friend would be safe.
A few minutes later, Kagami pulled up by Kuroko's house. "Thank you very much Kagami-kun, I shall see you soon."
"You're welcome Kuroko. Don't forget, I'll be here to pick you up around 6:50pm Thursday night."
"See you then." Kuroko said as he got out of the car and walked towards his house with a smile and quick wave to his friend.
And with that Kagami drove home.
Entering his house, Kuroko closed the door before setting down his bag and taking off his jacket. He heard an excited 'Arf!' coming from the kitchen before an eager Nigou came running out to greet his master.
"Hello Nigou, how was your day?" he asked the dog as he began to pet him.
"Arf, arf!" Nigou barked energetically, his tail wagging furiously.
The Alaskan malamute had definitely grown since Kuroko found him back in high-school. He was now just shy of being two feet tall, however he was still just as intelligent and kind-hearted as he had always been. Kuroko smiled at his dog before standing up and moving to the kitchen. He started preparing his own dinner before feeding Nigou and moving into the joined living room.
The kindergarten teacher's house was not particularly large and had minimal furniture, but it was modern and comfortable. He switched on the TV and sat on his two-seater sofa to watch the news. There had been yet another ghoul attack in the area. Apparently the CCG had classed this ghoul as an S rated and had nick-named him 'the binge eater' due to his large amount of killings over the past few weeks. His feedings were grotesque, often leaving nothing but a bloody mess and bones. The presenters were providing tips on how to stay safe from ghouls and recommending that people stay in highly populated areas and well lit pathways when walking about at night. Kuroko was not stupid and knew of the dangers of ghouls. Unlike Aomine, he paid attention to ghoul safety notices.
"Aka-chin, what's wrong?" Murasakibara asked.
Six men were sat in the living room of the upstairs apartment of the coffee shop. Akashi had called a meeting with the café workers, but his agitated body language made it clear this was not simply a customer service review.
"This so called 'binge eater' is drawing far too much attention to the area. The amount of ghoul investigators has already started increasing. Not to mention I completely disagree with his ethics. I cannot let him continue acting in this manner." The red haired manager said.
"I assume you have a plan then." Midorima stated.
"Of course. I have asked Satsuki to analyse his attack patterns and where he is likely to attack next. Atushi, I would like you to contact Himuro-san. Seeing as he is a mask-maker he meets a lot of ghouls. Ask him if he knows anything about the binge eater or if he's heard any rumours. Once we have some information gathered I shall go looking for him. I'll give him a chance to stop and leave the area. If he refuses I will dispose of him."
"In the meantime, Ryouta and Kazunari, you two go on the food run tonight. We're running low. Make sure you are unnoticed, and be respectful to the bodies."
"Yes sir!" Kise and Takao replied in unison with a mock salute, before getting up and exiting the room.
Turning to Aomine, Akashi continued. "Daiki, I suggest you keep an eye on your human friends if you wish to keep them safe. The most recent attacks were not far from here." He said seriously.
"Of course. I hope you catch this son of a bitch before he kills too many more." Aomine couldn't bear to think about what he'd do if that asshole attacked Tetsu or Kagami. He knew Akashi would do his best to eliminate the threat. Whilst they themselves may be monsters, they hated killing humans. Generally, they collected food from the bottom of a cliff outside of the city. As sad as it is, it's a popular suicide spot and at least that way the humans can choose to die and the coffee shop ghouls can eat, preventing the mind numbing hunger taking over. Aomine had experienced it once before when he was younger and he prayed he'd never experience it again.
They acknowledged that other ghouls had to kill in order to feed, but this binge-eater was taking far more than was necessary to survive. Not to mention his activities were beginning to bring more CCG members to the area, creating trouble for all the ghouls in the 14th ward.
"You are all dismissed for the evening. Goodnight." And with that, Akashi stood up from his seat and walked out.
END OF CHAPTER