Despite being a third year, Yuu is pretty used to being mistaken by a first year by now, or even a visiting middle school student on a bad day.
"Well, if you didn't carry around so many plush toys," Reiji says, polishing something dark and sticky off his glasses. Yuu frowns at him, and takes another sip of his caffè mocha. He really doesn't want to know.
"I like cute things," he says instead, and reaches to brush a stray fleck of dust off the Duke of Shropshire's nose. "Look at Mr. Shoofles here." Reiji glances over absently, then back at his tablets.
"Just don't complain when they think you're in middle school then," he says, and purses his lips at an equation, profusion of red curls tumbling down over his forehead. Yuu watches as the empty cup by his elbow slowly inches towards the edge of the table, reaching out to hook the delicate china cup back to safety. Reiji doesn't even notice.
"What are you grumbling about now?" Izumi asks, peering over his glasses. Yuu glances at the bottom of his cup, sadly visible.
"I finished my café bombón," he says, sighing, and rests his chin on a cupped hand. I left my plush toys at home, he thinks, but he's not about to say that.
"So get another one then," Izumi says, flipping through the textbook in front of him. "Did you finish your maths problem sets?" He's drinking a ristretto and Yuu makes a private face at it, imagining the acidity on his tongue.
"I can do it tomorrow," he says, and heads over the counter. It feels strange, walking around without Mr. Shoofles or Sir Chubbs and he's pretty sure it was a terrible idea, even if no one asked him why he wasn't in his own school today.
"Where's Mr. Shoofles?" the barista asks, shooting him a smile, and Yuu sighs. When he gets back to the table by the window, Izumi is already packing up his books.
"You're not going to stay to help me with my problem sets?" Yuu asks, shamelessly exploiting his pout, but Izumi just raises and eyebrow.
"I thought you were doing them tomorrow," he says, slinging his bag on his back and adjusting his glasses.
"Izumi-i-i-i. . ." Yuu draws the name out, makes it a request. The fresh café bombón he just set on the table in front of his seat smells wonderful.
"If you have questions you can message me tomorrow," Izumi says, unrepentant, and Yuu watches him walk out the door.
Despite everything, whether he's being mistaken for a middle schooler, neglected by Izumi who won't let him copy maths problem set answers, or trying to get Shun's attention away from his PSP, there's something about the coffee shop that makes everything better. Inside the four walls everything is calm, peaceful, warm with the rich scents of coffee, chocolate, and caramel.
And sometimes, once in while, Baa comes by.
Yuu knows that he's perhaps a little eccentric with his affection for cute things that extends to carrying around the occasional plush toy—as a matter of fact, most of the patrons of this particular coffee shop have their small peculiarities. No one, however, can hold a candle to Baa.
When he steps into the coffee shop that afternoon, Miss Cupcake tucked under his arm, Yuu glances around to see who's all there as usual. Reiji is sitting in the corner, sipping a latte, his lab coat covered in a particularly offensive shade of swampy green that Yuu doesn't want to know anything about. Ren is sleeping on the sofa, arms tangled with the cords from his headphones, and Touya is perched at the bar table along the bank of windows, taking advantage of the afternoon sunshine.
He almost misses Baa, steaming chocolat chaud in hand, when he spots the familiar white fur tucked in the corner behind a fern.
"Baa!" he exclaims, darting over while balancing his cup and almost dropping Miss Cupcake in the excitement. Thankfully, Baa is great with reflexes and snags her from mid-air before she hits the ground.
"You need to be more careful," he says, his voice muffled through the goat head. Yuu nods.
"How have you been?" he asks, since he hasn't seen Baa in a while. They go to the same school of course, and it's not hard to miss a flash of white in the cafeteria or between the library bookshelves ,or bobbing along in the hallway, but he's always been rushing to somewhere else.
"Just busy with this and that," Baa says, and his honey-brown eyes twinkle, voice smiling even if his goat-head doesn't move. "How are you?"
"I missed you," Yuu says, quite honestly, because he likes cute things like plush toys and Baa is, in some ways, the biggest plush toy he's ever seen. Shh, he tells himself, because even if Baa looks like a cute thing, he's still a person, and Yuu is pretty sure that just like he doesn't like being mistaken for a middle school student, Baa doesn't like being mistaken for a thing.
"You're too cute," Baa says, and pats Yuu's hand. His fingers are warm against Yuu's skin, for the brief moment that they rest there, and Yuu gives a tiny shiver when the warmth is gone. Baa doesn't seem to notice the lapse though, sipping a red symphony through a straw that pokes into the goat-head's mouth, and Yuu buries his fingers in Miss Cupcake's soft fur.
Sometimes Yuu wonders what Baa looks like, beneath the goat-head, but he doesn't ask. He knows the importance of his plush toys to himself, and how he feels when he pretends to be someone else.
So when he walks into the coffee shop one afternoon to see a new face, he only wonders what Baa is up to these days. It's been a week, after all. He's just paying for his caffè marocchino when he hears a voice that's oddly familiar.
"Yuu!" He snaps his head around, eyes searching for Baa, but there's only an unfamiliar boy sitting at the table behind the fern, black hair and warm honey-brown eyes that twinkle—
Yuu almost drops his cup in surprise, the porcelain rattling slightly against the saucer. He waits until he's sitting across from the boy, fingers wrapped tightly around his cup so that the hot surface is almost scorching.
"Baa?" he asks quietly. The boy across the table from him grins.
"My name is actually Akira," he says, and it's strange to hear his voice like this, unmuffled by the goat-head, but strange in a good way.
"Hi, Akira," Yuu says, and smiles.