Order 1: Baristas shoot sugar cube projectiles
“However, your cocoa is something that will almost never improve,” said a childish looking girl with a frown on her face after she downed a cup of cocoa.
She was probably about thirteen years old. Her jet black hair was so long that it not only reached her waist but continued all the way down to her knees. Her almond shaped eyes were crimson and bewitching. She was probably two or three years younger than Toushirou; though she wore lip stick and was clad in a dark red dress that was worthy of someone in the high society.
The young girl’s name was Ageha.
It is hard to imagine that she was a young girl who looked like her actual age, and Toushirou did not know who she really was.
“Ageha-san, we are actually at a bar you know?” replied Toushirou with a sigh while silently cleaning the cups.
He had straight brown hair and black eyes with a tinge of blue. He wore a barista’s uniform; a classy vest over his shirt and a necktie, and on his chest was a badge with a three pronged road on it—the mark of Strada was sown on it. Although he trying to be resolute, he looked like someone with one too many anxieties.
This is the inside of the bar, “Strada”
A brass bell hangs from the amber colored door, and it would creak whenever someone would walk on the black oak floorboards. In this quiet shop where even music isn’t played, just leaning in and listening to that little sound is probably a form of entertainment in itself.
Antique looking shelves line the plaster wall, and in the shop were six table seats and four counter seats. Though it’d be nice to say that the shop is spacious, everyone conscientiously keeps it clean and one could tell that being small, it was a shop that values its homely atmosphere.
The three siphons1 that are on the counter rarely get their alcohol lamps lit, however.
Upon hearing Toushirou’s exhortation, a malicious smile crept onto Ageha’s face.
“Oh ho. I wonder if it’s okay for you to talk to your one and only regular customer like that.”
Contrary to its dignified interior, the shop receives very few customers and inside the shop, aside from Toushirou who’s the barista, Ageha was the only person there.
Toushirou replied with a sigh.
“Yes yes. The reason our shop has managed to stay open is all thanks to you, Ageha-san.”
“It isn’t something to look sad about. Though the cocoa here isn’t that great, I like the taste of the cups you have here.”
Probably because of the shop’s small size, that the cups used there were of different varieties. In it, the one Ageha was using was the only one that’s left, and it became her own personalized cup.
Playing around with an empty cup, Ageha looked down at what looks like a book full of pictures of sceneries from someplace. Below the pictures seem to be lines of detailed explanation.
“Ageha-san, what have you been reading just now?
“Hehe. It’s a collection of pictures taken in the Tokyo Ikai1.”
“Ehhh. These are well taken.”
As Toushirou took a peek, there were many pictures of scenery that he immediately recognized.
“Is our shop in there?”
“Nope. Doesn’t seem like it.”
“Oh. I see.”
Toushirou’s interest immediately faded.
Smiling wryly at his reaction, Ageha closed the book and showed him the front cover. Its title was merely “Photo collection of Tokyo Ikai”, and below it was the author’s name. Though it was written as Tanaka Yoshirou, Toushirou did not have the confidence to still be able to remember it the next day. It was probably something he wouldn’t die for.
“Well, the pictures are pretty mediocre, though the reporter’s comments were quite pleasant.”
“In what way?”
“Vibrant lights dancing in the night of the Other World. Magic users brought back into the current era.” The sad thing is that it seems like he isn’t blessed with any sort of literary talent.
Well, he couldn’t really deny the fact that it was sensationalistic on a tabloid level.
—Though one would also wonder about the person who saw something like this and called it pleasant.
Toushirou let out a wry smile and Ageha tapped her finger on the table.
“Toushirou. The cocoa’s run dry. It’s a cold day today. At least do it more conscientiously next time.”
It wasn’t so cold to the point where snow would fall, but it was already into December. Even those people walking along the main street were wearing thick thermal wear. It was not as if he did not understand her wanting to warm up with a cup of hot cocoa.
Even so, Toushirou could not help but sigh.
“Ordering some coffee once in a while would be good though…..”
Although it’s true that there are things like cocoa and red tea on the menu, those are part of no more than the side menu.
Ageha laughed at him admonishingly.
“You, even if it’s a side menu you should make it taste the best. Isn’t this what being first class is about?”
“If you’re going to say that, how about asking master to do it instead of a mere shop assistant such as myself?”
“Shuuya’s cocoa? Are you telling me to go and die?”
“Is what that guy makes really that bad?”
“It’s like someone threw sugar into tar. It isn’t something the digestive system of humans can handle.”
As Toushirou was filled with shock, Ageha wrapped her hands around her shoulders and shivered.
As if he happened to have overheard the conversation, a young man showed his face from behind the counter. Behind the counter lead to the pantry and the staff’s common room.
“Did someone call?”
He was about twenty. He had disheveled hair and wore a crinkled shirt. His collar was unbuttoned and he had unkempt stubble. Even though he was wearing the same uniform, he somehow looked very sloppy. Despite being dressed like this, he was the bar’s owner.
Seeing the young man’s face, she raised her voice lamentably.
“Listen up Shuuya. I was trying to deceive my throat with Toushirou’s amateur cocoa and he dared to tell me to drink the ones that you make.”
“Oi Toushirou, you trying to get our shop closed down? You know, even in this world, there are things that should and shouldn’t be sai— OUCH.”
As soon as Toushirou noticed Shuuya making a serious face— something that he rarely does, Toushirou hit him in the back of his head with a stainless steel tray.
“A complaint is somehow being lodged against me because of your disgusting cocoa you know!”
“What’s disgusting is disgusting. It can’t be helped. I can’t understand what sort of assistant would bring this up in front of a customer.”
“Do you have no desire to improve yourself what-so-ever ?”
“If you’re that unhappy about not improving, how bout’ you start putting in more effo—Oww.”
“This is why we don’t have any customers.”
After beating Shuuya’s head, Toushirou gently stroked the tray as if he was sympathizing with it.
—Damn it. Because of beating this idiot’s head this thing’s now bent.
Why is he working in such a place?
It has been three years since Toushirou started working at the shop. The minuscule number of customers, Ageha’s bad mouthing, and the useless adult Shuuya were all part of the never changing scenery.
That scenery was about to be suddenly shattered.
(1) A siphon is a tool used to brew coffee
(2) The literal translation would be the Tokyo from the other world, but I chose to leave it in its original form to keep the flow of the passage.