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It was hard to believe that he had been living with Hanseol and his boyfriend for several months now, time seemed to move so fast since then and everything was new for Sunmin. He still kept to himself mostly but in the mornings he would catch the two of them eating their breakfast together, usually they'd insist that he eat something which he would protest because he didn't want to be a bother but one thing he had learned already was that it was hard to tell Han no. He spent most of his time away from the house though, it was their home and he didn't want to get in the way of their plans, he really only returned in the evenings to sleep. Sometimes he could tell Han wanted him to be around more but he was still figuring out this whole family thing.
To make it up to them for letting him stay, Sunmin had been doing odd jobs and using it to pay Hanseol rent, if the other male refused to take it he would find creative places to hide it to ensure that he got it at some point. He had also into the process of getting himself an official identity, which had taken months of back and forth and some help from the Celestial Wayfinder but about a week ago his passport had arrived. He was officially an American citizen. Things were good, as much as he hated to accept help he realized now how much he had needed it. And to his luck, last week he had been given a job offer to work in a little cafe across the city. He was sure the owner had taken pity on him but it was something, a start to figuring this whole member of society thing out.
He had been mailed the uniform which he was now wearing as he rode on the subway across the city, he hadn't told anything about the job because then he figured if it went horribly and he couldn't continue then he could just quit and no one would know. When the train stopped he hopped off of it before heading to the exit, he kept smoothing down the shirt he was wearing because it didn't feel like it suited him at all. He wouldn't say he was nervous but he was definitely curious to see how working here would go. Thankfully he was a pretty good learner and didn't think he would need long to be up to speed.
He made it to the cafe about 15 minutes before opening but the front door was locked, he frowned for a moment wondering if there was some kind of mistake but before long he noticed someone popping up from behind the counter here and there, looked like they were cleaning. He knocked lightly on the glass to alert them to the fact he was here, it wasn't until he caught her attention that he realized that he recognized that face all too well. His eyes widened for a moment and he looked around for a moment wondering if he should make a dash for it but before he could do anything she was already at the door.
There was nothing wrong with being kind, wanting to think the best in people before everything else. She told herself that while hearing him out, he said it so himself, people were different. Astraea realized that no matter how bad the world would stoop low, she would be there to hold out her hand for them to take because she couldn’t bear to leave them alone. Perhaps her head is only designed to see one way, but so long as she could find the light in them, she’ll keep on doing that. His answer didn’t surprise her, if anything, it made the Aurazin chuckle and blew a few stray strands of her dark locks away from her vision, she expected that kind of answer and honestly, it was refreshing to get this kind of input from someone else. No sugar-coating, no filter, nothing at all. Who had thought that she needed this view? Not her, that’s for sure. “You’re probably the first person who’s actually said this out loud to me directly, I don’t think others could do it because it’s only proving that they’re doing exactly what you said people are doing to me, or because they didn’t want to hurt my feelings.”
If you were told that you were a pushover who would do anything she was told to do, even that would hurt her feelings despite insisting that she wouldn’t even feel offended over traded insults. “It’s all that I know to do” she murmured, she couldn’t recall doing anything else aside from finding the good and redeeming quality in people. “I think I’ve encountered a few, they didn’t call my manager but they did make a scene. One time, I had to be sent home because one of them poured a smoothie on me because I didn’t add the yogurt enough…it was a very sticky situation” It still surprised her colleagues how she’s encountered a few bad apples while working here but still managed to put on a smile and act like another day is a new day. “Have you ever had those situations before? A Karen or Kristian acting up on you?” He did say he’s met a few but she wondered if he’s also suffered from that position of not being able to say another word.
The moment he implied she was probably lucky enough to never be on the receiving end, it made the Aurazin pursed her lips, maybe he was right, it wasn’t as if she was there physically visible to others for a very long time, “You know… I was kinda invisible most of the time. People don’t notice me, not really. So they never pay attention to me, and I just… go by. Maybe they think I’m harmless?” Astraea does look like a harmless penguin, in all senses, honestly. She was halfway beaming in delight when he said not to lose the positivity but the smile quickly faltered when he finished the sentence, not to be like him, “You’re more honest than ¾ of the people I’ve met. You don’t lie. You don’t let yourself be stepped on… I don’t see why you would say that. If we’re living in a dystopian world, you’d survive till the end of days and I’ll probably die while trying to make a difference in a day.”
When he said he was better at memorizing but lesser on the practical terms, he was not selling it short because the raven-haired female tilted her head to the side as her eyes followed his movements, including when he went over the sink to wash but flat out stopped doing anything afterwards, “I feel like I could almost hear your gears moving” she jested and took them from his hands and showed it to him again before handing it over, “One more time. We’ll move on to the next after this. Just try it” Her movements had been a lot slower so it wouldn’t confuse him.
Sunmin knew his direct approach to people wasn’t for everyone and he had gotten himself into a lot of altercations because people expected him to lie or to say the nice thing when it wasn’t true. He’d honestly prefer that than to feel ingenuine or feed people with compliments they didn’t deserve “Most people are probably afraid to hurt your feelings” he answered directly, she was a sweet and friendly person and so people wouldn’t want to upset her or make her cry “The opposite of me then” he never invalidated the way she behaved and she never invalidated the way he behaved, it was like they both had this understanding when it comes to one another that things weren’t always going to be straightforward and different people reacted to the same thing in different ways.
He wrinkled his nose a little at the thought of one of those entitled women throwing a drink over Astraea, he imagined that it must have been hard for her to handle as she seemed to be the type to want people to like her and someone doing something stupidly mean like that would upset her a lot “Not gonna lie, if someone did that to me, they’d have to hold me back while I throw myself at them” he grumbled it under his breath “What happened to common decency” though he had seen people do far worse things than that, to purposely publicly shame someone that way was simply cruel. “I used to work in a call center for a while” he grimaced, that was not fun “I don’t really take it personally when people insult me down the phone but there were definitely a few calls I was pretty close to throwing the receiver a the wall” but learning to take those calls did help him to get this job so that was something he supposed.
“You do seem pretty harmless” he pointed out and chuckled, she had this airy, happy aura around her which definitely didn’t give him the impression she was threatening or scary, people were probably more likely to think she needed protecting “You’d probably apologize to an ant you accidentally stepped on” in that respect, she reminded him a lot of his brother because Han was soft-hearted like that and couldn’t stand to see anyone in pain. “I’m also paranoid, cynical and generally spiteful so” he smirked slightly and made a sarcastic salute “While I may survive the zombie apocalypse I’d probably be alone in some farmhouse and while you’d die, you’d probably be having a tea party with all your friends” just more reasons to see how crazy different the two of them were he supposed.
He was determined to try and do well at this job because he felt the need to pay Hanseol back for the help he had given him, it was a principal of individuality for the younger star, he didn’t like owing anyone or feeling like he was a charity case. But he also promised that he wouldn’t go anywhere just yet, so finding a job seemed like the right balance. “There are a few cobwebs in there but it’ll move eventually” he commented when she mentioned how it seemed the cogs were whirring inside of his head, he watched as she did it again and realized his mistake before, this time he took it apart and then put it back correctly, though he was grimacing as though waiting for her to say it looked okay.
There were no expectations whatsoever, not everyone would have the same views and they certainly wouldn’t agree to everything. Though she likes to see the good in people and find their redeeming quality, she understood that humans are complex beings and given the person she once was before she even became an Aurazin, there wasn’t much Astraea could say without making it seem like she wasn’t a hypocrite. He was honest, brutally honest for sure, but still, there was something extremely refreshing about that. “I guess I should be flattered that people even cared enough to take care of my feelings” Even if she wished people would be more concerned about being honest, it does make her feel good. “Surprisingly, we are two very different people, I know we’re not supposed to be similar to one another or we may as well be robots but… I don’t think I’ve ever met someone so different, until now.” Was it a compliment? Perhaps. She was definitely intrigued by him.
“I think I would have to hold you back if something like that happens again, this time with you being on the receiving end” she quipped humorously, yeah he did seem like he wouldn’t take it well, no one actually would, Astraea only stayed silent because she didn’t want to upset anyone else aside from her own self. Much like what was expected, the Aurazin was upset that day, but she didn’t cry. As opposed to others’ beliefs, it wasn’t as easy to make her cry. “You’re gonna have to control that urge once you start working as a waiter, we may have a lot more of those people coming in the future” It was inevitable, unfortunately. “Back where I was from, people held that ‘belief’ for a while, they have a whole hierarchy system still going on, it’s a bit absurd” Her neighbourhood was a bit more peaceful compared to the rest of the city, because of their supernatural understanding and small community but she couldn’t say the same when she went to the capital to run errands. “Superiority complex is always going to exist in the generation before you and the next, I guess.” Shocking but not surprising.
Astraea couldn’t help but cringe at the story, she hasn’t had the opportunity to try those customer service things even though she’s a good talker, and judging from how he had described his experience, maybe she’ll stay where she is now. “That doesn’t sound pleasant… I imagine hearing strangers cursing and mocking you from the other line for something you’re not supposed to even be held responsible for, would be a test to your patience.” A chuckle escaped her when he affirmed that she did look harmless, “I don’t think anybody’s ever felt intimidated by me. Except when I’m playing the rubik’s cube because I won’t slack just to wait for you to pick up your pace and catch up.” She could recall hearing Damarco complaining because she wouldn’t slow down to help him. “I do like to think that it’s better to look harmless, then nobody would see you as a threat.” She only wanted to live a low-profiled life while being here until they could go back home. Two different people in one similar setting, what could go wrong? “You have no idea how scarily on point you are with that, tea parties seemed to be something I’d do if we’re not weighed by the responsibilities of this world” Literally. “Besides, I make a better tea than coffee” Considering she’s been working in a coffee shop for two months, then her teas are really something.
“Fast learner” she exclaimed and went over the espresso machine with the portafilter in her hand, before long, she had already filled the coffee grounds and tamped it down neatly before removing any excess of it, “Remember to remove the excess so it won’t be messy, you can use your fingers or a cloth, whichever you prefer.” She placed it in the grouphead slowly so he could see how it was done, “Anti-clockwise, one round would be enough, you’ll hear a click, it’ll be tight and you’re set.” The Aurazin tapped the buttons, “Here, we have single shot, double shot, single long and double long. Sometimes you’re not sure if they’ve been tested or set so I like to be safe by using the free pour button. Single shot can take about 15 to 20 seconds, double shot 20 to 25 and it continues. There’s a timer displayed on this screen so you’ll know. I’ll be nice and set the shot buttons for you so you won’t need to resort to free pour, but try to study it through when you can, it's valuable information.” Once the shot was finished, she took out the portafilter and dumped the remaining coffee grounds into the knock box, “Remember to throw these out and rinse it after you’ve done your shot, or else it’ll warp the portafilter. Do you think you can do what I just did? Go ahead and prepare a single shot” She had taken out the other portafilter and handed it to him.
Somehow she seemed to find a plus side to anything and he would likely find it annoying if it wasn’t the fact she was so casual and matter of fact about it “I rarely find that having people avoid the truth with me leads to good things” he responded and shrugged his shoulders slightly, trying to protect someone’s feelings usually only went so far. He raised his brow when she pointed out how different the two of them were and then shrugged slightly “Life does that” he responded, nodding his head thoughtfully. He sighed slightly as he imagined that he might get himself in trouble with customers “Technically what she did was assault, you could have got her ass arrested” he knew she wouldn’t though, if anything the customer was probably allowed to get away with it and would do it to some poor person again.
“It’s fine, I’ll just be getting my revenge in my head while staring into space” he was actually pretty good at ignoring what was going on around him and completely zoning out, it was the easiest way not to feel hard done by the world and move forward sometimes. She made a good point about people thinking the world owes them everything though, you’d think people would be capable of some empathy and understand but it seemed as soon as someone didn’t get their way they wanted to speak to the manager. “People tend to be even worse when they can get away with saying whatever they want and not having to see the person they direct those words at” which was why you really could see the worst of people over the phone or on the internet where people didn’t really have to face the consequences of their actions.
“You have one of those faces which always looks happy, I think you’d actually have to try to look angry and even then it might come across like a pouting child” she looked pretty young and he imagined her scowling would look a lot like someone throwing a tantrum. Her story about being able to complete Rubik’s cubes made him arch his brow though because that was the second time she had mentioned them “I get the feeling you might be a fan of Rubik’s cube” he commented with an amused chuckle. The way she pointed out that his vision of her having a tea party made him shake his head in amusement “Well at least you’d die full of tiny sandwiches and interesting flavored teas” he commented with a grin.
Sunmin had to admit that he wasn’t expecting the process of making coffee to be so difficult but she was a pretty good teacher, she explained as she went along and took it slowly enough that he could watch what she was doing over her shoulder, she was small so it was easy to get a good view. He nodded thoughtfully as he took it in, essentially fill the thing with coffee, flatten it down, put it in and pull the lever to put it in place. Then you just needed to press the correct button unless you were doing it manually, in which case you needed to time it yourself. He looked down at the portafilter she passed him with a slightly overwhelmed expression but took a deep breath and went over to the coffee grounds before filling it and then swiping his finger over the top to flatten the top. He went back over to her and pressed his lips together before she pointed out where he was supposed to put it and he placed it inside, at first he tried to move it clockwise but that didn’t work so he quickly remembered to move it the other way until it clicked. He gave a sigh of relief “It’s not quite as scary when you focus on the smaller steps” he noted.
Even though he made it sound as if he would get annoyed at everything living, surprisingly he still has yet to snap at her asking her to shut up despite how incessant she could be at times, which only made the Aurazin bit her lip to refrain herself from pulling a wide grin. “I prefer honesty, it’s always best to hit people with that, even when you think telling a white lie would be far better” A white lie may sound slightly ‘noble’ but it was still a lie, at the end of the day. She could understand where they were coming from though, sometimes the truth hurts and the temptation to protect those you care and love could be stronger. “Even so… I feel like that would just prolong things for me and as you can see, I don’t like to get myself into unnecessary trouble” She really didn’t, his entire purpose was to steer clear from it, that’s the first thing she promised herself when they finally decided to make their temporary stay here in the eternal city. “I do wish I could make her reflect on her actions though…” But alas, things weren’t about to change just because she made that one simple gesture.
“You? Staring into space? I find it hard to picture that ever happening” she jested, there were times when he looked as if he could glare someone to death, and there were times when she’d be able to witness him laughing, which was actually quite nice. If she didn’t know he'd refute her compliment, she would’ve told him he had a nice laugh and smile to match. When he said that, she understood why people always resorted to being keyboard warriors or cyberbullying some poor souls from behind the screen on the internet. It was one of the things she didn’t like about social media. “Is that bad? To have a happy face? I don’t think you’d like me all that well if I’m to be mean, not that I think I could pass off as one… I couldn’t even remember the last time I got pissed off” Annoyed? Yes, sure. But as usual, it wouldn’t last longer than a few minutes with Astraea. A pouting child? “You know… you don’t seem to be any older than I am, I think I might even be older than you” Technically? She is. But hey, they’re not counting numbers.
“Playing the cube is fun” when she first discovered it, she couldn’t stop playing with it for hours long, Arcadia actually had to take it away from her hands because she didn’t hear what she was telling her. “You should join one of those tea parties, I promise I don’t bite” she teased, anything is better than being alone, right? She had gone over the sink to rinse the previous portafilter she used and was halfway cleaning it with a cloth when she peeked over to see how he was doing, he sure was taking his time and that was fine. Eventually, he managed to get it, “Next step, steaming the milk. I know you shouldn’t be wasting milk, but do not steam the milk twice, the taste will dull away, just try to put the right amount of milk instead.” She took a cup and placed it on the counter, “Put ⅔ of cold milk to measure and I think that should be fine” Most of the measurement when it comes to steamed milk were similar.
Astraea placed the pitcher underneath and pulled the lever slowly, “Once the pitcher feels warm enough, you can stop. See, it wasn’t so hard, when you’re done, you should clean the steam wand using a cloth or else you’ll scald your hands and we can’t have that, can we? After you’re done doing this, you only need to assemble them altogether in one cup, if you’re creative and artistic, maybe your foam will turn out pretty” Before she could say another word, the bells ringing from the entrance door rang, two more people emerged, their co-workers for the shift. “Say hi” she nudged.