“You never drink it. Too bitter, right?”
True. You'd never lifted a cup of the stuff with any eagerness. Even though Kaneki tried time and time again to convince you that Anteiku had it down pat, you weren't so inclined to believe him.
Under shaggy black hair, a fabric eyepatch was barely concealed. The guy had never really dared go into the details of the accident, but if you had to guess, it must have been brutal. Since then he'd tried to return to his chipper self, assuring you that he was fine.
Such a lie though. He liked to spin it out longer and longer just to keep you smiling, prevent your own heart from falling into worry, but he'd have been as well cutting it off long ago. No point dragging out what you already knew to be false.
“Kaneki I promise you, I really do appreciate the invite but there's no point. If they mainly serve those kinds of drinks there then I can't see myself enjoying it.”
For some reason he was adamant. Like he really really wanted you to come to this new cafe he was working at. You were certainly happy he had managed to find work after he got out of the hospital, but you would have much preferred going to an establishment with sweeter offerings.
“If you want we can put sugar in it for you. You don't have to drink it black.”
It was on your usual walk home from college that he had brought it up with you. All you had been intending for the evening was to knuckle down with studies and maybe catch up on a few extra chapters of the folklore book you were reading, little more.
“I mean…like I said I do appreciate it, but it's just not my thing. I'm happy to go somewhere else with you this evening though-" you attempted to compromise, “Maybe to the park or the movies? You're off work anyway so let's not go there.”
Kaneki's expression was a little tragic. He could barely hide how glum he was about it, how sunken he felt. Seeing this, of course you felt bad. If he was really so desperate then…perhaps it was worth just going along with it.
Just this once.
“…Okay, fine. I'll come, since you really want me to.”
It was like a switch got flipped. All of a sudden his face lit up and the joy bled freely back into his eyes again.
“Oh good! I'm glad, [Y/N]. Shall I show you the way? Come on~”
His pale skinned hand took your wrist in a soft grip and he pulled you along. The sudden gesture took you so off guard that you barely even thought to protest, even if it seemed a bit bold for your friend to act like this out in the open.
His form sprinted slightly ahead of you but never let go for even the briefest minute. He only cared to keep you with him, always, as the two of you traversed the winding back streets and eventually reached the ‘Anteiku’ he'd been talking about.
Already you could smell it in the air, so strongly that it brought with it a touch of nausea too. It wasn't something you ever readily wanted to admit to Kaneki but he seemed to read the stress on your face, pursing his own lips in thought before popping them apart again;
“Don't worry [Y/N], they have plenty of other drinks here!”
“Right that's…that's good…”
You never liked the bitterness of it, nor the clammy feeling in your mouth. When you drank that tar it felt like holding a weight between your teeth. Something lighter and sweeter was more your taste, it was even true of alcohol.
The ebony-haired boy escorted you inside, smiling so much you wondered if he had ever been so happy before in his life. Only when you got there did his expression waver, as you were greeted with an empty place. That scent in the air was nothing but a lingering note, all else was dead.
“That's...weird. I thought it was open today…”
His brow furrowed and his hand slipped away, disappearing to the back room while you took a tentative seat and laid your hands neatly in your lap.
…He was gone for a long time.
Rising slowly from your seat, you walked towards the door that still hung ajar and took a tentative peek inside. The room only returned a pitch black sight, with no sign of anything notable within. That was until you stepped closer and called out, vision gradually adjusting as you did so...
“Kaneki? Are you in here?”
You swore you could see something turning. A figure, swiveling around at a syrupy pace until it faced you. Only then did light pierce the shadow, in two blotches of quivering red. Your own heart seized inside your ribcage, turning to stone while your body staggered back.
The instinct was there but you fought it. Fought it because you knew whose eyes those were, even if you could scarcely believe it. It almost seemed to go beyond all reason but...it was him. He came through more clearly, looking just the same as always besides that frightening gaze...and how he had his teeth grit in such a feral manner.
A cold sweat ran down your back. It felt like an invisible hand had come to clamp itself around your throat and choke away any life you had. As he slowly advanced, you could see his maw twisting into a far more malicious smile.
“...You have no idea how long I've waited for this. No idea. How many nights I lay awake in the hospital just thinking about sinking my teeth into you...” Kaneki seemed almost fit to salivate over it, especially seeing the way you were shrinking back with fear, “I bided my time but I got sick of you always denying my invites. Finally though, you accepted...”
“Wh-why are you doing this!?” you blurted out as if there would be any answer. In response, Kaneki just let out a sharp cackle and tilted his head far too sharply to the side.
“Why? Because I'm hungry.”
No ignoring it now, you had to. There was no reasoning with this sort of madness, and no seeking kindness within it either. You turned on your heel rapidly and attempted to leave the room, only for something equally scarlet as those orbs to come thundering past your head, slamming into the wood and sealing it shut.
As you fell against what had now become a barrier, you quickly looked around in a panic, seeing him still standing there with a sickening grin. Only this time his slender figure was surrounded by tendrils that curved and swayed ominously, crimson veined with black.
“It's called a Kagune. I'm pretty good at using it now, gotta thank Rize for that too. She's been a good teacher for me.” he practically purred, while you only struggled to process what he was saying.
“R-Rize is dead...” you whimpered out, pressing your spine flat against the door behind you as he only paced towards you faster, “Y...you told me that. You told me that she died in the accident...”
“That's technically true I guess, hah~” Kaneki chuckled and glanced at his own hand, cracking his knuckles, bending his fingers inhumanly before allowing his attention to turn back to you fully again. With little space left between you, he rushed to close the gap, his hands abruptly impacting the wall either side of you and making you squeak.
“...Thing is...she wanted me to rush this...and in a way I wanted to as well...” he leaned in closer and closer. Now that you thought about it, you were certain you could smell blood on his breath. Whoever had fallen to him before...
“-Other victims just weren't making the cut for me. It's not the same when they aren't you. Even just your scent alone is better than all of their bodies combined. I'm glad I waited it out anyway...it makes it so much more satisfying that I get to do this to you now-”
Without warning his hand shot to your neck and squeezed it, jerking your head aside. All you could do was gasp with wide eyes, bewildered. His lips met your skin and kissed it tenderly, but soon you felt them part and slip around it, his teeth grazing your vulnerable flesh.
As he bit down and the warm droplets trickled to your collar, you heard a pleasured moan and stared blankly into the rest of the room.
Into the darkness.
Black as coffee.