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Microtonal music wasn't something people expected Kosuke to enjoy, considering how many of his complaints had to do with mismanaged pitch- but, he had to admit, this album had been growing on him. He had to admit. Frequently. To most people who came up to his counter. Anything to make light conversation, as was typical- and anything to signal to regulars, to friends, that there were some things he'd much prefer to talk about over others.

It was another one of those days where he wasn't quite with it; pawning off most of his duties to the others on shift, and spending most of his time lounging behind the counter, getting up only to refill his coffee and change the record in the player. It was alright, though. His employees understood. It was hard, seeing him like this- they'd do anything they could to help get things back to normal. How kind of them.

It really was a shame.

His coffee was empty now. It had been emptied quite frequently today. Suppressing a sigh, Kosuke pushed himself up from the desk and walked over to the cafe, swirling the half-melted ice around the bottom of his cup as he walked.

"Remind me to bring a bigger cup next time, yeah?" He smiled to his employee, "Or, uh... invest in some bigger disposables for the cafe. I can't be the only one who needs this much coffee, right?"

The barista laughed.

This place was great. It was weird, but weird in a way that Mina kind of secretly liked. Maybe not so secretly, since she was in here like, at least once a month. She'd have been in here every day if she could, but even having a part time job wouldn't buy her that much music.

That and she didn't actually own a record player. Who even owned those these days? Obviously some people, because the store must have been selling some of the records to stay in business, right? Or maybe they just made their money off of coffee and the records were more of a display thing?

But they had the weirdest music. Stuff you couldn't find at the mall, that kind of thing. Mina listened to a lot of music - a lot of music - and there honestly wasn't much in the mall stores that she hadn't at least given a try. She'd been scouring the internet - which was a terrible place to go looking for anything, oof - and then at some point she'd been walking home on an alternate route (okay so she had been avoiding the intersection where she'd got hit by a car for a while, but that was fine, she was fine, she didn't even have a scar and she definitely didn't have nightmares about that guy screaming while her blood gremlins ate him, right, FINE, okay?) and uh-

-Where had that train of thought been going? Probably nowhere. That's where most of them ended up, anyway. Some little depot out in a field, all trains, no thoughts, shed empty.

Did trains go in sheds? Mina had no idea.

She should probably buy something but she didn't actually like coffee. A couple of people were over by the coffee bar - were they employees? She hated it when people asked if she worked somewhere - including when she was at her job where she actually worked, like, dude I am wearing the official t-shirt and walking around cleaning things do you think I do that for fun? weirdo, but, like, did they work here?

She wasn't going to ask.

She was going to ask something else, just in case. Mina approached, with all the confidence of a high schooler (not much). "Hey, um... Can either of you recommend something... I don't know, different? Sorry. I shouldn't have asked, sorry. I'll just, um, find something."
There was a new customer- a new customer. Young, by the looks of things, and nervous, by the sounds of them. It was hardly an uncommon sight, in a place like VULTURE- with staff like VULTURE's. The local-legend rockstar being the lamest person working there was a bad sign, showing everyone else was just too cool- or, at least, they acted as such. He greeted the customer with a smile and a nod, whereas Jordan, the barista, decided just a smile would suffice.

"Oh, I'd love to recommend different." Kosuke said, "Beats standin' here."

He handed his empty cup to Jordan, shooting him a look that said a thousand words (or, more likely, just eleven: "Fill this with cold brew and let me handle customer service"). Then, he pushed himself away from the counter, and strode into the open space before them, gesturing around to the rest of the shop.

"What sorta different are ya looking for?"
Oh, he wanted to recommend something. Good! That was good! Not that he didn't have to, if he didn't want to, but it did make it easier. For her. Which might not be for him and he wasn't really responsible for her-

Mina was just going to stop that one right there before it spiraled into one of those big things and she just stood there staring at the guy for five minutes and then squeaked out a "Sorry!" and ran away.

Not that she'd ever done that. Recently. Or anything.

Right. Different! She was going to ask about different. "Um... I guess mostly stuff that's good but like, not real popular? Because I've heard a lot of the popular stuff and I just... want something different. Not that there's anything wrong with the other stuff! But I guess it's like... I like hearing new things? Things I haven't heard before. I want to hear all the music. But I think that's impossible because I made a playlist once and it- You know, you don't need to hear that. Sorry. I will. Stop talking. I'm bad at that. So bad. Still talking. Right. So, um, listening to music usually gets me to shut up for a while, so like, suggestions would be great because otherwise I am absolutely just going to keep going here. Sorry."
Man, nervous didn't begin to cut it. She reminded Kosuke of someone he knew once, someone he knew a very long time ago- though, he could've been thinking of anyone. He could've been thinking of himself. He stood there and listenwd as she talked, allowing herself to run down as many verbal avenues as she wanted before she stopped. Given the mother of all monologues he would inevitably unload on her, it was the least he could do. Back at the counter, Jordan could be seen bracing himself.

"Well, you're in luck- good-but-niche covers most of our stock. It's kind of our..." He paused to find the words, "Mission statement, I suppose. 's what we're known for."

Well, niche, certainly. It was known among staff--and even some customers--that Kosuke was lying through his teeth half the time when he had to compliment people's choices. The records in the store had to strike a delicate balance between ones he personally liked, and ones he knew would sell. It was a business, after all; not just a personal collection, much to his chagrin. At least he was a good liar.

"And, honestly, I'm exactly the same- seriously, if there was a way to listen to every song ever played, I'd do anything for it. Closest I can get is working here and pretending I already have- whilst cramming albums on my ride in like it's homework."

He laughed. Then, he spoke a little quieter.

"Come to think of it, I'm the same when it comes to talking, as well." He smiled sheepishly, "Only difference is music just makes me talk more- I only shut up when I'm sleeping, and I don't do that as much as I should. It isn't much of a problem, though-the talk thing, not the sleep. You've just gotta find someone to listen."

He looked over to Jordan.

"Hey, and if you can get them to make you coffee as well, then that's both issues solved."

Jordan rolled his eyes and smiled, continuing to pour Kosuke his- god, he didn't know what number cold brew this was. He had been drinking a lot of them recently- moreso than usual. It was probably the stress. It couldn't have been good for the stress, but still.

"Right, right, recommendations." Kosuke nodded, "Well, a new hire recommended Millennium Mother back during her interview- one of the reasons she got hired, actually. I'd say that's certainly different- oh, but I'm not sure if it's left in stock."

He hadn't ordered many to begin with.

"The Worm is a good one as well, if you're into concept albums. We've had a lot of people ask about that one since it came out. Then, ah... there's Flying Microtonal Banana, that's what's playing now, there's The Call Within, if you want something instrumental. There's Land Animal, Jodeki, Life, My Beaufitul Twisted Nightmares in Aurora Rainbow Darkness, if you're feeling really weird, Hurtbrea-"

He paused, then laughed again- almost nervous, almost embarrassed.

"Sorry, sorry- these are all just words, aren't they? If any of those sounded interesting, I can show you where they are and play a couple songs on the speakers. Or, ah, if not, I could walk you to a couple more I find worthwhile."
Wow. He knew a lot about this. Like, that was a good thing, right? Because if he'd been working here and he didn't know anything that would be awkward and weird. Instead he knew everything, and that was also awkward and weird, but in a different way, and mostly for Mina, who was probably staring at him like an idiot. Or maybe she was just staring at him generally speaking? Or maybe she was an idiot all the time and the stare was not related to any idiocy of any persons herein. Was that how that was supposed to be said?

She wasn't even sure if he was listing bands or song titles or albums, and 'ummm.... okay?' didn't seem like the sort of response he was looking for, but after some talking - like a lot of talking, so much talking, oh my god is this how people feel when they're around me because I do that like all the time, oh my god levels of talking, he actually apologized, which was exactly what she would have done.

"Oh no you're me from the future." This was a horrified realization and also not helpful to the process of getting any songs she might like. "I'm so sorry. I mean, about the idea of being me. And, no, wait, for saying that. Yes. Sorry for saying that. You should be who you want to be. Even if it's future me. Who I definitely would not choose to be but - you know what, please just walk me to some of the music we like - I mean, you like - and then we can just go from there. Yeah."
As expected, his mindless ramble seemed to have sailed right over her head. Well, his excuse was that she was vague- if you ask for all the music, he's going to mention at least some of the music. It was a mistake many customers had made before, though most of them weren't so polite- restrained might be the word. They usually tried to interrupt him. He never let them.

"Hey, there are worse people to be future versions of."

He spoke a little quieter than before; the statement had given him pause, despite how light-hearted it all was. The smile returned, having faltered for a moment. Kosuke snapped his fingers and pointed to a shelf towards the back- more specifically, to a neon-green album cover sitting right in the centre.

"Well, I quite like math rock, so we can start with Jodeki- oh, Jordan?"

The barista looked up.

"Put on KAYOKO- track five, I believe."

Kosuke turned back to his customer.

"What sort of stuff do you normally listen to- uh, shit, sorry, I didn't catch your name..."