He pushes open the door, the bitter smell of coffee filling his nose and making his mouth waver. The door closes behind him with a thump, and the sound makes the barista turn to face him. The store’s tables are all empty today, as he made sure they would be. His feet stay planted to the ground, unmoving, as he stares up at the eyes fixed on him. A million thoughts wrestle themselves into his brain, and whatever speech he had practiced before coming completely dissipated from his mind. He watches her big eyes widen slightly, before they return to normal and scrunch up slightly as she smiles. He watches the bounce of her hair as she puts down the coffee pitcher and her body angles itself towards him. His eyes focus in on her hands, which are now clutched together in front of her as she bows slightly as a welcome. He watches as her mouth opens slightly, and she begins to speak.
“Welcome, Sasaki.” She pauses, looking around him. “Not with the squad today?”
He eyes her, and his lips quirk up in a small smile. “It’s been a while, Touka-chan.”
Kaneki watches as her calm exterior shifts immediately. Her eyes widen, her mouth drops slightly. She takes a shaky breath, and looks at him with a look that Kaneki didn’t know she could make.
“Kaneki..?” She whispers, sounding breathless and shaky. Her eyes travel over his face, and he can see her searching his expression for his reaction.
With her uttered words, he can feel the dam inside him break. All the emotions and feelings that he had kept shut and hidden inside himself for so long were creeping out tenfold. All the memories that were forgotten, every single word and action exchanged between them brimming after so long.
He forces his head to nod, and he can see the immediate tremor in her body. Her body heaves slightly as she takes a shaky breath, biting her lip as some tears escape the corner of her eye. Before he can even comprehend her next action, she’s running around the counter. Her loud footsteps and the coffee machines whirring are the only sounds heard in the shop as she jumps forward, her hands snaking themselves around his neck tightly. He holds back a startled cry as he wraps his arms around her in return, snuggling his head in her hair. He takes a deep breath, and her scent fills him. It’s been so long, but she still smells the same. It’s a sweet scent, so unlike Touka, but somewhat so like her at the same time.
A cry leaves her mouth, and she holds him tighter. “I missed you.”
Kaneki allows himself to smile, to be happy, and he tightens his grip as on her back simultaneously. “I missed you too, Touka.”
He pulls away softly, looking at her red eyes and finally getting a close look of her face after all this time. She had matured, her face having lost whatever was left of its baby fat. Her cheeks were rosy, her eyes painted with soft colours that brought them out immensely. He brought his thumb forward to brush away the tears still building up in her eyes. “Don’t cry.”
Touka, in her state, hiccups, and pushes away his hand as she wipes away at her face roughly. “Shut up, I wasn’t crying.”
He lets out a laugh, and mentally thinks of when it was that he last laughed like this, so genuine. “That’s more like the Touka I know.” He grins, and before she can make a remark back he envelops her in another hug.
“I won’t leave again, not like last time.”
Touka pressed her face into his chest, her arms gripping her back as if she’d never let go. “Promise?” She whispers, so lightly he barely hears it at all.
Kaneki brings one of his hand to her head, running it through her hair softly as he nods. “I promise.”
They stayed like that for what could’ve been hours or minutes. He told her everything, allowing himself to get lost and ramble as he watched her listen in complete fascination at everything that came out of his mouth.
And she listened.