This was supposed to be a quick little story about ghouls getting drunk but it ended up growing a backstory and reasons for why they're getting drunk. Yep, I have planned the entire fic out because it seems I tend to invest myself in just about everything. Ah well, enjoy! :)
A big thank you to yuuki24688 for taking the time to look through this!
As all eventful days starts out, the day begins normally. Nothing out of the ordinary, no surprise sneak attacks from a ninja clan or an invasion of flesh-eating parasites.
The sun is shining benignly, the wind is pleasant, wounding around Kaneki's cheeks and he is on his way to Anteiku for his work shift. The day seems never better.
Although...there seems to be something missing. Something like -
"Hey shithead, stop dawdling outside and get your sorry ass inside here already!" Touka snaps.
Ah, there it is. Nothing can beat a sunny good morning from the one and only Touka. Kaneki has more or less gotten used to the girl's brusque nature and if he is more confident, he would say that they are on fast tracks to becoming good friends. Friends that give each other death glares that threaten to set him on fire just by the intensity alone.
"Kaneki..." She growls, when he merely blinks at her like an idiot.
"We have some special customers today so pull yourself together and act like a competent person who can function in society already, shithead."
Ah, Touka. Ever the tactful young lady. But here's the irony of it all, between Touka and him? He's the more tactful one.
"Apologies, Touka-chan. Good morning to you too." He gives her a smile that is just short of blinding.
Slightly disoriented by Kaneki's (impeccable) manners, she remains silent as he brushes past her.
"Pardon me, but could you explain about the special guests today? I'm afraid I wasn't updated on that and I wish to perform my best today." Okay, so maybe he is laying it on a bit too thick but nothing can compare to the bewildered look on her face.
To him, this is just too amusing.
"Oh um." She blinks, composes herself. "The guests are journalists from a popular magazine and they're coming down to do a review on Anteiku."
"Oh, but I thought many journalists have come down to Anteiku before. Why is this any different?"
"We don't know who the journalists are, so we need to perform our best the whole day. They're compiling a list of top coffee shops in the whole of Japan. Over a 100 coffee shops have been selected and if we get into top 5, they're going to do a televised cast."
In terms of publicity, this is going to the best as it can get. Imagine being awarded the top 5, Kaneki can picture how their profits are going to make Wall Street jealous.
"Yeah, now please hurry up and change."
Did Touka just say 'please'? Holy snap, was the parasitic invasion really true? Has she been taken over by one and her face is going to split into half to reveal the parasite residing in her skull? He'd hate to have be its first victim and be grotesquely mutilated.
Touka must have guessed his train of thought because her eyes flash and she hisses, "Are you deaf? Get to work now."
Phew, close call. It's still Touka.
"Okay, sorry!" He ducks his head and heads to the backroom, greeting his colleagues as he meets them along the way.
Changing into his typical work attire that consists of a white shirt with a vest, black pants and a tie, he takes his place at the counter.
"Think we're going to land in the top 5 spots?" Enji asks, drying one of the cups.
Kaneki looks around the shop. A joyful atmosphere prevails, buoyed by the positivity of the workers and the customers. Even though it is crowded, the soothing murmur of conversations and clinking of cutlery is familiar to all the staff as they endeavour to hit the top 5 spot in the magazine. Throughout the whole time, the reviving scent of coffee and vanilla wafts around the cafe, drawing in new customers and reaffirming old customers on the timeless quality of its coffee.
Irimi is taking orders from a sandy hair man, Nishiki is taking down more coffee beans from the stockroom and Hinami has decided to chip in by wishing customers a good day with her typical cheerful smile. And Touka serving customers with a bright smile on her face.
Enji follows the line of his gaze and remarks, "Amazing what publicity can do to her, right? If we didn't know better, I would have thought that she was just a sweet and unassuming young lady. Too bad we know the truth." Enji's theatrical sigh is cut off when Touka walks over with murder in her eyes.
"I heard that, you stupid monkey." Touka hisses before turning around to take a customer's order. Like magic, her eyes take on a softer and warmer look and she smiles gently, "good morning, what would you like to order?"
Witnessing the transformation itself, Kaneki can only nod to Enji, who has turned a few shades paler.
"I just hope I won't get murdered in my sleep."
Normally, that sentence is usually meant as a joke but they're ghouls and this is Touka they're dealing with. Kaneki decides not to answer to that comment and puts in extra hard work to ensure the countertop is as clean as possible and fulfils the entire customer's order meticulously. No point risking Touka's wrath.
Besides, he's looking forward to the arrival of the journalists. He wonders how they look like, if they will like Anteiku's coffee and whether if their high level of customer service standard can be maintained all day. He certainly hopes so. Touka certainly looked like she wants to kill somebody when he saw her walking to the back room during her break.
Sitting on the couch, she'd leaned back and muttered darkly to herself. Something about 'bloody customers' who 'can't make up their bloody minds' and how some of them are 'rude and obnoxious' and she wished she could simply 'punch their faces into the next dimension' or 'rip them to shreds and make them the next meal'.
He thinks it is best not to mention that the customers that she is getting so worked up over could be the special guests they have heard about. From the way those customers were sipping their coffee and scrawling into their notebooks, Kaneki suspects that they were the special guests. They had even snuck out their phones to snap a few pictures before proceeding to order almost everything on their menu. If that isn't a sign, Kaneki doesn't know what is.
Still, he keeps his thoughts to himself, thinking it best not to disturb Touka. He's fond of his body parts being in one piece, thank you very much.
Whether by sheer luck or the work of some obscure greater power, the day ends with no broken cutlery and most importantly, no dead bodies. What a relief.
Even better, they exceeded their sales target by over 420%. Kaneki bets Yoshimura would be rolling in money now if he were the type to do so. What he completely doesn't expect is Yoshimura beaming proudly at the (bedraggled) assembled casts of Anteiku and declaring a celebration.
"Huh?" Touka blinks.
"A celebration for all your hard work today," Yoshimura replies smoothly.
"Awesome! It's been a long time since I've been to a party and let me tell you, back in my days, parties are intense," Enji boasts.
"When are we having our party?" Irimi tilts her head quizzically.
With a gleam in his eye, Yoshimura says, "Today."
"That's barely enough time to prepare anything!" Nishiki protests.
"Yes there is," Yoshimura replies firmly, "Meet us at Itori's bar in one hour. In the mean time, go home, change out of your work clothes and wear something nice."
Amidst a muttering of voices, Kaneki calls out, "Sir, what kind of party is it anyway?"
"Ah, the best kind of party, of course," Yoshimura chuckles, "The one with alcohol involved."
Kaneki does not like the sound of it, and he most certainly does not like how the rest of the ghouls exchange knowing glances and grins, as if they know something that he doesn't.
"Relax, Kaneki. Ghoul alcohol parties are the best." Enji declares, clapping the half-ghoul on the back.
At risk of sounding like a total inept fool in the world of parties, Kaneki pretends to understand and nods his head. "Yeah, the best," he says unconvincingly.
He doesn't want to spoil the fun, though. The other ghouls look ecstatic at the prospect of a celebration. When was the last time they had a party? Or even a day to relax and let loose?
Considering that his ghoul friends have been working hard to build up Anteiku and their human reputation, Kaneki muses that they haven't had a day off for a long time. Thinking back on how relaxed and easygoing his human life was, it sends a prick of guilt in his chest. The ghouls deserve this celebration; they've earned it with their hard work and resilience. In fact, Kaneki cannot think of anyone more deserving of this than the ghouls he surrounded himself with.
It isn't until hours later, when the party gets into full swing that Kaneki finally realises why ghouls don't party often. Especially one with alcohol involved.
Lots of it.
There's a phrase to describe how it went and it summed up Kaneki's experience accurately: shit is going to go down.
But until the nightmare begins, Kaneki is still bright-eyed and looking forward to how parties are celebrated - ghoul style.
Little does he know that it's going to be the biggest regret of his life.
Random life lesson: If life gives you lemons, squeeze them into other people' eyes.