Just the three of you.
When was there ever a promise to protect innocence?
When was there ever a promise to protect innocence?
From the time at the kindergarten, where you just happened to sullenly sit beside the bookworm, who was reading, and the tweety bird, who laughing beside him.
It was raining today, so you couldn't escape outside and be alone. The light showers graced the ground with an alluring song of beats, but the teacher with no taste in music scowled in disgust and ordered everyone to stay inside.
You sat quietly, listening to the tweety bird laugh at the prospect of the word 'love' in a horror story while the bookworm reddened bashfully. You laughed along with him, out of nowhere. Romantic tragedies were 'so 1590s' to you, apparently.
Not missing a beat, the bookworm abruptly rushed in to defend his favorite genre, louder than you've ever heard the normally-quiet boy; "Th-They are not! And you must like them a little if you know the year Romeo and Juliet was made in!"
"I-I never said I knew!"
While the yellow bird chortled at your blushing face, the bookworm smiled knowingly, introducing himself as Kaneki Ken. Not missing a beat, the loud bird said his name was Nagachika Hideyoshi. And your name was [Full Name], so you told them as much. And as you did, a hole that you didn't know you had began to fill up, and suddenly, you didn't feel so lonely.
It was then that them two became three, duo to trio, and you didn't mind at all.
"Did you know that Kaneki likes a girl?"
"Hah?!" Eyes-wide, you gaped at the startled boy, who nearly dropped his book as he shouted 'Hide!' in the middle of the coffee-shop, his eyes as wide as yours but also horrified. The quiet murmurs of the employees and the bustle of the customers stopped abruptly, and Kaneki found himself sinking into his seat.
You however, did no such thing, scooting your seat halfway around the table to pull him into a motherly hug.
"My baby's all grown up now!" Your dramatic sniff was barely heard through his mutter of 'I'm 19'.
Hide glanced across the shop and grinned, before nudging you discreetly. "You might not wanna do that, [Name], she's sitting right there."
"Where?!" you exclaimed, gripping your plastic tumbler of hot cappuccino more tightly.
Kaneki pushed you off of him quickly and quietly. "Shh! Don't be so close if you're going to be loud. She'll look over and think I'm taken!" He hissed, face a bright red color.
"And Touka-chan will notice that you brought your own drink to a coffee-shop," Hide added, standing his menu upright and letting it shield your drink. Anything to be in good grace with this pretty 'Touka-chan' that he loved to go on about.
"Honestly, why did you even bring that?" Kaneki quickly latched on to the change of subject.
Glancing at the counter, you noticing the waitress eyeing you with a twitching eyebrow.
You beamed back at her.
"Look, Kaneki's lover-girl is over there!" Though Hideyoshi only vaguely motioned in her general direction, it was impossible to miss Kaneki's ideal girl, sitting there in the middle of Anteiku. You swiveled around and almost started when you abruptly met her gaze.
Her hair was a brilliant fuchsia, and she was holding a copy of The Black Goat's Egg under her obviously smiling lips, her dark eyes twinkling. And under her glasses, a light pink tint adorned her pretty face as she glanced at all the faces involved in the commotion, before hurriedly looking back down at being caught staring.
You tittered, covering your laughing lips with a coy hand, and glanced at Hide, who simpered back at you, while Kaneki covered his bashful face with a book, his blood rush rising from the neck to the very tips of his ears.
"I can tell just by looking at her that she's a keeper!" You decided, scooting even closer to the bookworm. Hideyoshi rushed over, too, and it was the three of you looking like fools, hidden behind your menus and books, as you whispered and murmured to each other.
"She's perfect for him! Look at the book! Isn't that Dear Ken's favorite?"
"That's the first thing I noticed, too!"
Kaneki's hands tightened around his own book, trying to fortify the barrier that hid his burning face from the world outside your makeshift fortress. "C-Could you not decide my future for me?"
"It's not like you don't agree with us, eh, Kaneki?" Hide leaned closer, his grin ever brightening.
"So it's official: You have my support!"
While Hide clapped excitedly at your cheer, Kaneki offered a weak smile.
If only you knew you were feeding the worm to the spider.
The woman with the purple hair and the pretty glasses and the sensitive ears smiled, too.
Two weeks and a day passed before you saw him again.
You didn't attend the same college, and school work verses an accident of his that kept you from seeing him. No visits were allowed. You'd raised as much chaos in the hospital as possible before they dragged you out.
He was working at the shop, now. The coffee-shop, Anteiku.
You chose not to ask how he could bear to constantly be in the place where he met his first, now deceased, girlfriend. Maybe this was a coping mechanism to help him get by? If only you knew.
"I hope you didn't drop out of Kamii," you told him, tilting a porcelain, coffee-filled cup to your lips. When you swallowed your sip, you continued your chastisement. "Wasn't it a dream of yours to go there? Now Hide's been telling me even he barely sees you."
At the lack of an answer, you glanced up.
Kaneki... was drooling. He was looking at you strangely, and you doubted he even processed your words at first, before he took a step back and teared up a bit.
"K-Ken, are you crying? What's—"
He briefly mumbled something about needing money to pay the rent, before rushing off to the back.
You stared after him. "...He must be pretty stressed, huh?"
"That'll be 300 yen."
You glanced up at the kind waitress, overlooking the brief flash of pity in her eyes. Pulling a ¥300 from your pocket, you placed in on the table, reaching it over to her under the sunlight that shone upon your outstretched hand, as if passing a torch.
"Thank you," you mumbled, feeling dread. Feeling a hole rip open in your chest, as you fought against admission to the plain and simple fact that you felt lonely.
She only nodded with a tight smile, watching you walk out.
☯From Duo to Trio to Uno.
Kaneki and Hide, to the three of you, and now the each of you are alone, in life and in death and just hanging in the middle by a thread.
How did it all come to this? You stop your idle daydreaming at the calling of your name. It makes sense that she knows it, with all you'd been seeing of her back when he worked in the same place as her. Two years ago.
Kaneki Ken had long since been pronounced dead, after a year-long 'Missing' period.
Hideyoshi's been in a comatose state for the longest time. You have no clue how he landed there, and the doctors refused to tell you. 'CCG business', it was. You'd told him not to join them, but he went and applied anyway.
His only visitors have been you and his 'Touka-chan'.
"He'd be ecstatic," you once told her, happening to visit at the same time as her. You arranged your blue irises in the vase, down next to her gladiolus flowers. Touka-chan and you had become something like acquaintances over time, bound by a shared pain of loss and by loneliness, though you supposed she still had her white-haired brother to care for her.
You're sitting alone in the coffee-shop. It looks nothing like Anteiku, but the atmosphere is somewhat the same. A soft sigh escapes your lips.
The same taste, the same smell, the same waitress smiling pityingly at you as she asked to take up your order. You respond with the same smile.
"...I'll have a cappuccino."
She writes it down with her ballpoint pen, an aura of sadness shared between you two.
...That's it, then. You smile wryly, looking out the window as the rain showers the outside ground lightly, singing a depressed song. You're back where you started.
"You looked depresso, sitting all alone here." A man slides into the seat across from you, holding a plastic tumbler in his right hand as he smiles down at you. "So I thought I'd come along. Better latte than never, right?"
Slowly, you take one long glance at his soft face, strange dual-colored hair, and kind eyes, and you smile back at him. "...Should you really have brought your own drink to a coffee-shop?"