The tiny sound of the bell ringing filled the silence. You stepped through the grimy door, your eyes widening at the cornucopia of books that stretched across the room. Stacks of books were in each and every corner of the little shop, tables overflowing with them. Shelves went all the up to the ceiling, books of all shapes and sizes adorning them.
This was the sort of place you were looking for, the quiet type of paradise that until now had eluded you. Except, the place was filthy.
Dust cloaked the wooden shelves, hell even the air was thick with it. You had to watch your feet carefully, to make sure your nose wouldn't meet the floor anytime soon.
"Hello?" You said, scanning the room for a sentient life form. "Hello? Is there anyone here?" Your voice got louder as you tried again. After managing to stumble closer to the only table with a cash machine, you rang the bell that was settled on the desk.
A groan emitted from behind the doorway, which was covered by strands of fabric, in an attempt to give the room behind some privacy.
A man appeared, leaning against the wall, looking absolutely exhausted. Alarmed, you reached forward to help him, but he merely waved you off.
"What can I help you with?" He asked unenthusiastically. "We-well, I'm looking for a job you see, so when I saw the notice in the window-"
"What?! Who put that there?" He sighed agitatedly, running a hand through his dishevelled hair. "Must've been Yao...." After sighing again, he glanced at you, taking you in.
"It's true I've needed a helping hand. But honestly not enough people come in here anymore, so it doesn't really matter...."
You snorted derisively. "Well, I'm not surprised, this place is a mess." He shot a glance around the room. "It can't see what wrong with it. I can find whatever I need fine. Besides, I like it when it's quiet. I just want to be left alone."
"Then why open a shop in the first place?" You told him, frowning. "I love reading, I like books. So go figure, I opened a bookshop where I can read all I want."
You threw your hands up in the air. "This place could look really nice! Hire me. For a week or so and I promise I'll make the place look good and get people in." He stared at you quizzically, repeating what he'd said. "I just like being left alone."
This man presented a challenge for you. And you would definitely win. "Screw it. I don't care if you hire me now. If I can get ten people in that buy a book by the end of the week, then you can consider me hired. If not, I'll just leave you alone forever."
He smirked, he liked the sound of you leaving. Besides there was no way, you could get anyone to come in. "Deal."
The next day you returned, carrying bags filled to the brink with cleaning equipment. You decided to start on the windows, hopefully once they were clean and open, you could see the mess that awaited you a bit better.
You flipped the closed sign that was hanging in the door. But when you turned it around again and again, you realised both sides had 'CLOSED' printed on it. Sighing, you raised your eyebrow, but left it as it was.
You heard a clink as the man you now knew as Kiku set down a mug of coffee on his cluttered. He propped his feet up as he settled down to read a dusty novel, wrapped in a blanket. As you'd managed to creak the windows open, it had become quite cold inside.
But already the place looked a lot fresher, the old stuffy air having disappeared outside. After half an hour of swiping the grime away from the window panes, you deemed them clean enough and you smiled, happy you'd gotten one thing done.
But your spirits fell as you turned and witnessed the onslaught of books. This should take more than a week to do, at least, but you were determined not to lose face.
Kiku watched with an amused smile over the rim of his coffee cup as you set about removing the books from the shelves, putting them in orderly piles on the dusty floor.
First you made sure to clean each shelf, careful not to lose your footing on the rickety stepladder and knock over the books.
It wasn't that hard, but it was very satisfying when after several hours you looked at the gleaming wood you'd polished meticulously.
By this time Kiku had fallen asleep the book lying over his face. You took that moment to have a proper look at him. He was rather small and the black hair framing his face was disarrayed. You caught the book as it slid of his face, not wanting to wake him.
He looked quite sweet as he snored gently, it was when he started talking that it irritated you. If only he could be this nice when he was awake, you thought as you left the book on his desk.
You placed a ribbon on the page he was at, placing a small stone on top of it, so the spine would be back to normal when he started reading again.
You plopped down on the Chesterfield sofa you'd uncovered during your cleaning. After clearing some books from your side, you picked one up and leafed through it. You sighed as you glanced across the amount of books you'd have to classify, alphabetise and put back on the shelves after cleaning each one.
But that would have to be a chore for the next day. After another look around the cosy room, you smiled, waved at Kiku even though he was asleep and left. When he heard the telltale chime of the bell, Kiku opened his eyes and shyly returned your wave.
Truth was, though he was irritated someone was invading his private space, he was happy. Happy someone was interested enough in his shop that they'd go to such lengths. Kiku's brown eyes scanned the piles of books, enjoying the warmth of the setting sun on his face as it streamed through the clean glass.
"Morning!" you greeted, swinging into the shop with ease, smiling as Kiku nodded at you. You grinned as you saw what you still had left. The stack of books waiting for you was still quite large, but as all you had to do was alphabetise it, it was simple.
Kiku's eyes didn't leave you, save only when you looked at him, then they'd flick back to his book. Looked like he was going to lose. Not that he'd really lose anything except his personal space. Besides the smile that you had plastered on your face was making his heart flip.
After the last book found its place on the shelf, you stood back, hands on your hips as you chuckled. "It's done!" You sang, cheering as you did a victory dance. All that was left was to sweep the floor and get the customers.
Kiku's book was snapped shut by him and he stood up to inspect. After making a quick tour round the room, he nodded and muttered something to himself. Then he sat down on the sofa next to you.
"I don't even need those ten people to come in. You're hired." He told you as he sat back and closed his eyes. Your own (e/c) eyes widened. "Really?! Thank you so much!" You hugged him closely and you could feel the heat steaming from his cheeks.
When you released him, he coughed over his embarrassment. "Yes, well, when I see you working so hard, it wouldn't be fair not to give you the job." He clarified, glancing away from you. Your eyes met his and he seemed about to say something when the bell rang.
The two of you jumped in shock as you saw a couple of people sidle in, looking around and scanning the spines of the books.
You grinned and held your hand out to him, standing up. "C'mon. I suggest you take a shower, wouldn't want you to be the only thing here that wasn't presentable." You said with a wink. He took hold of your hand and hauled himself up.
"Alright. Also," He murmured as he turned to the door, "I'm leaving the customers to you." He kissed your cheek and vanished into the lurking darkness behind the doorway.