It had been another ordinary day, wherein I open the café as simply as flipping the plastic signboard form ‘Sorry We’re Closed’ to ‘Welcome! We’re Open’ then I stand behind the counter or island where the cash register sits on a small corner, carefully camouflaged by the wide screen monitor and a corkboard at the other end. I sat there silently, and occasionally move about of course, like arrange a few of the pens that had gone off or play around with the push pins making shapes or letters.
Few minutes later, I heard the door chime rang, I wasn’t so alarmed. It was too early for any customers, and when I saw that familiar dark blonde stick out from the door and out of that navy blue hoodie that he so loves to wear, immediately I spat out orders. He groaned, whined that it was too early, too serious and too me as he names it to order him around when he has just arrived, and when there’s just the two of us.
“I’m not paying you to complain Jung Daehyun, now go do as you’re told,” I jest.
He scowled and bit that supple lower lip of his from agitation as he trudge towards the sink.
I smiled toothily, triumphantly. I always enjoyed mocking and playing with a moody Jung Daehyun, my part-time barista and partner in this petite but cozy café.
“Stop staring into space, and do something sir,” he talked back from the sink-slash-kitchen. I chuckled from where I was sitting. He must’ve sneak a glance while I was looking away.
“I’m thinking of a novelty idea to add-up to the café so shush up and do as your job description says.”
Daehyun replied with a throaty, displeased groan that would almost closely resemble that of an angered dog’s growl. But his idea of a threat didn’t faze me, we’ve worked and been we’d each other for quite some time now that I know how his mood would swing. I sit back and scan over the hundreds, probably, of post-it notes stuck on almost every nook and cranny of the bookshelves alone.
Each one of them the same but totally different as well, not one can be left alone, nor can any stand out far too much. Different shades of pink, blue, green, yellow, orange – pastel or blindingly fluorescent, I can’t help but smile.
To think it all started with one person saying suddenly, “God, I’m so tired already,” in a whiny, nearly-depressed voice while he sinks into his pad of multi-colored notes and rainbow variation pens and highlighters, oh, and books and notes as well, where would he use the supplies, right?
Thinking about it, my eyes started searching for that specific note, I pivot from my chair and slowly scanned the walls and tables and the little open cupboard where I had a few magazines – local and international, lain out.
“Someone’s coming,” Daehyun mumbled from the counter, calling me out of my happy place. I stood up languidly and went for the main computer but before I could sit or log in the door chime rang and I greeted with a wide, welcoming, practiced smile our first customer for the day.
“Good morning,” Daehyun and I greeted in unison with a respectful bow.
The young lady fixed her hair, brushing it up and out of her face before greeting us with a shy smile too and with a ‘good morning’ though I thought it was silly, Ji-eun was after all one of our regular customers, when her classes permit her.
“Nice bag,” Daehyun said as he gives the makeshift menu to Ji-eun, his half-sister, while she takes her seat in her usual spot by the wall-sized window or probably the wall that is the window, and did I mention it was almost filled with the same notes too? Yes, it is, like every place in the café.
“Bag?” Ji-eun asked, confused, and shrugged the bag she still had over her shoulder before placing it down on the table, conveniently, strategically placed against the wall-window, window-wall-of-post-its-and-emotions, whatever.
“Your eye bags,” Daehyun smirked.
Ji-eun’s mouth fell wide open from hurt, like the kind of open wherein you want to say something but couldn’t and all she could do was hit Daehyun as hard but not too hard as she can by the arm closest to her. Hit that arm again and again and again. I think, she’s venting out her frustrations now.
“Ji-eun don’t mind Daehyun, all you need is some sleep,” I said reassuringly.
“I know, Yongguk-oppa,” Ji-eun said but still and finally ended her torture on Daehyun with a pinch that would leave a mark for days on. “And again, call me IU. I – U, as in the letters ‘I’ and ‘U’. Ji-eun’s such a common name.”
“Okay, okay,” I said in resignation and called out her preferred name for once to brush off that pout on her lips, although she was still cute with it. “Will you have the usual?” I asked to change topic.
She smiled widely and said as sweetly as she normally does, “Yes please.”
It was one of those days, when the café barely had any soul that breathed within it, save for Daehyun and I that everything had probably started, when Time had permitted for such things to start moving and maybe because everything started or went on as they normally do that none of us especially the people involved noticed. Wow, I sound like a poet or a romanticist or something of the like.
The chime had rung a couple more times and had welcomed a couple or a group of friends and even a single customer a few times and saw them out a couple more before he entered.
It had suddenly rained, I mean, suddenly rained in a way that people weren’t given much of a second to run or brisk walk to take shelter. The door chime rang again and Daehyun greeted the customer automatically. The brunette was busy brushing off, uselessly I dare say, beads of raindrops from his hair and Capri jacket before he replied Daehyun’s greeting with a swift bow. It wasn’t really necessary but I guess his parents brought him up pretty well to be still courteous in such a mess.
He scanned the café, looking for a seat. He had a backpack in one arm, and his cap clutch on the other hand. His small eyes lit up simultaneously with his smile when he noticed someone wave up to him. Probably surprised too, not expecting to find someone in a city filled with different coffee shops. He walked towards the person, “Studying out?” he asked immediately as he brought his pack down on the vacant seat, Ji-eun, I mean, IU, nodded. “Oh, can I sit here?” he asked, realizing again that he had just immediately took possession of a seat without asking. IU giggled and patted the seat his bag has currently sat in, telling him that he was welcomed.
Daehyun went over to their table with the menu on cue, and thank God, with a smile. I swear, if our dads weren’t almost like blood-brothers and we aren’t of almost the same relationship and his father hasn’t helped me with the capital for this business I would’ve fired him for his nearly pessimistic attitude. But for what Daehyun’s worth, he’s one good barista and he brings in the people if he’s forced to.
The young man named Jongup, which I heard IU blurt out while calling and waving at him, scrunched his nose, choosing his drink. Not too long later he looked at IU asking what she’d recommend and after careful narrowing down Jongup had decided on a Caramel Machiatto.
“Hot or cold?”
Jongup glanced up for a minute, to think about it, that or its just his mannerism, “Hot.”
Daehyun nodded and took the menu and was about to bow, customarily. “Shouldn’t I pay?”
“You can pay later if you like,” Daehyun answered. Jongup nodded, jutting his lower lip thoughtfully, like what Daehyun said was some important information that he has to take note of.
Remember, IU said she was studying out well, she does have the props for it, but for most of the one hour and thirty minutes that had passed shall I say it’s ninety percent talking and gossiping, ten percent actual studying.
“Ji-eun, if your books are just props might as well go home, the rain’s died down by now,” Daehyun said coldly from the sink-slash-kitchen-slash counter or island with the cash register.
IU scoffed and glared at Daehyun’s direction. “Oh just shut up and mind your own business. And it’s IU. I-U.”
Daehyun smirks, being nonchalant as he normally was. “I am minding my own business you insensitive fool.”
IU made a hurt sound from disbelief and loss of words. “Aren’t you describing yourself?”
Daehyun went out from the counter and sat on one of the stools, leaned on the table propped and stuck on the wall to pair up with the stools, to face the person he was having fun annoying.
“Last time I check your friend here came to study, looks like he can’t cause you keep blabbering nonsense which I think you should think through well, I mean you’re not bright and you’re fantasizing on becoming a doctor. You don’t even understand half of what you’re reading, as you claim.”
IU’s fuse was about to run out.
“Ummm… you seem pretty close?” Jongup almost squeaked, his voice was too meek. But if it weren’t for him things could’ve gone pretty bad and thankfully every other customer had left too. I could just pinch those innocent-looking cheeks of his and let’s see what happens to those little eyes.
IU and Daehyun’s attention were fully diverted. IU’s anger dissipated and Daehyun stifled a smirk.
“It’s… complicated,” Daehyun says with a shrug.
Jongup, with eyes wide with curiosity and surprise looked at IU, asking for a better explanation.
“He’s my older brother by a few months.” And before Jongup could say another word, “Half,” IU said with a shrug.
The rest of the afternoon went on quietly, with both of them finally studying and a mellow background music playing behind. After a good five hour IU kept her things and left. Another two hours later, Jongup started keeping his things as he stretched up his tired limbs of aching back in the middle of the chore.
“Thank you for coming,” Daehyun said mechanically when Jongup placed his chair back.
Jongup smiled, “Thank you,” he mumbled.
“And,” Jongup stopped curious as to what Daehyun would say, well he barely moved anyway. “Sorry about how I acted a while ago hope it wouldn’t give the café a bad image on you.”
“Oh that,” Jongup said nonchalantly shifting his backpack on a shoulder. “No of course not and well, it can’t be helped, siblings fight, right?” he finished with a slightly shy but bright smile.
Daehyun sighed heavily, “Can you tell that too Yongguk next time, he wouldn’t believe me if I say it myself.” Jongup chuckled lightly but nodded.
“Okay, next time I come I’ll tell him. Where is he anyway?” he said, as he stretched his neck and looking behind Daehyun, where the counter-slash-kitchen was.
“Some business he said.”
“Ah, I see. Anyway, goodbye,” Jongup said enthusiastically and Daehyun hummed and smiled a half less.
a/n: hi! wow. thank you to anyone who've found this interesting. and sorry the first chapter is kinda bleh~ this won't be too long though, i think and i hope. and thank you to everyone who had wished me luck too. and i hope you'll enjoy the first read nonetheless.