I wasn't going to put this up because I thought it needed a lot of context before it made any sense, but Lap and Feurox's reactions reminded me to trust the reader. If you want to find out more about kissaten, third places or golden filters for drip coffee then you are perfectly capable of doing so. And if you don't, well I hope you enjoy the story anyway.
I nod to the owner, a familiar ritual. The water swirls delicately and drips, the Tokyo bustle forgotten as the transmutation proceeds at its own pace. The toast is perfect: thick, crisp, and fluffy. She walks past as she always does, intent on her day, excluding all around her. It would be wrong to say I'm here just for this moment, but also not wrong.
A new day, another faultless encounter with gold and brown: filter and coffee, butter and toast. A crash from the kitchen captures her attention as she draws near. Our eyes meet; she looks but does not see. My heart stops, she continues. My heart follows suit after an agonising moment.
Morning again. A different hand pours, the patterns alien and jarring. An unfamiliar taste, a new brand. Unknown crowds on universal pavements. I am out of place.
Spring arrives. I nod to the owner, whose raised eyebrow is the only comment on my absence. Comfortable familiarity soothes me, hardens my resolve. Today? Ye...no.
The blossom has nearly gone, the pressure has become unbearable. I see her and abandon my toast and coffee for her golden hair and brown eyes.
"Hisao?" Naomi laughs as she takes my hand. "It's been so
long! Where did you spring from?"
"Ah, I always have my breakfast here." I gesture at the kissaten behind me.
" 'Always' eh?" Her eyes twinkle knowingly but she is too kind to say more. "Well if it's good enough to bring you back day after day, perhaps I'll join you. Not today though, my meetings won't wait. Tomorrow?"
"That would be wonderful," I reply with a foolish, eager grin. Gold and brown, brown and gold. Was there ever a more blessed combination than gold and brown?