I have an expensive coffee habit.
It's not that I can't make it at home, or that I think the coffee at that cafe is the best coffee in the world. See, it's the barista. I have developed a burning crush on this barista, who is the hottest person I have ever laid eyes on.
I come to this coffeehouse every day -- or at least I try to -- and order the same double shot red-eye with room I do every day, because I'm a pretentious asshole. Most mornings, I see the same barista. It's gotten to the point where I don't even have to order, he just smiles at me and hands me the cup.
None of the other baristas remember I want room for half-and-half. I always have to remind them, but not him. He always remembers.
He's shorter than I am, which I am totally okay with, and he's got the cutest haircut. Whenever he's making my drink, the blond hair obscures his eyes, but when he straightens up with that grin to hand me the coffee, it somehow always slides back into place, allowing me to enjoy those striking emerald green eyes.
illustration by Nebulosity Çiélon
Jesus, I am way too into this. I need to just ask him out already, because I can't just keep mooning over this barista without doing anything. I can't even remember his name. It'd be better to just get shot down at this rate.
So I go in this morning just like I do every morning, except today I plan to ask him out. I take my time before going in the door to work up the nerve to do it, but he's not there. I have to repeat my order at the counter three times before the girl behind the register finally understands what I'm getting at. How is it so hard to understand that I still want room in the cup for half-and-half?
I miss the cute barista.
I don't watch her make the drink, and I regret it when I get to work only to discover she's given me a double shot Americano instead. I decide I'm not going to order at the cafe anymore unless he's there. He's the only one who ever gets my order right. It's not even that complicated of an order.
That resolve doesn't last long. A few days go by, I'm running late for work, and I don't have any coffee in the house. It's either over-hyped corporate coffee shop or the little cafe, and I decide to go to the cafe. I can see through the window there's a girl working and I take a minute to brace myself for repeating my order multiple times before stepping inside.
I don't have to, though.
She smiles, and hands me my coffee. "Double shot red-eye with room for August."
There's something about her face, that smile, that's so familiar to me, and yet I can't put my finger on it. I take the coffee.
We stand there in silence for a few minutes. She stares at me, then finally speaks again. "So will that be cash, or...?"
I feel my cheeks grow so hot I might combust. "Oh, sorry." With the coffee on the counter again, I rummage through my pockets until I produce the money, and pay her.
I shove a five in the tip jar as apology.
It takes me a few more days of seeing her before I realize what's so familiar about her -- she looks so much like the cute barista. Maybe she's his sister or something. I decide I need to figure out what her name is next time I go get coffee.
But when I go the next time, the cute barista is back again. His name tag is in such an obvious place, I'm embarrassed I never read it before.
"Double shot red-eye with room for August." He smiles. His name is Cam.
"Thanks, Cam." I smile back, and hand him the money. Another five goes in the tip jar, because I've always hated when people read off my name tag at jobs where I had them.
So now I know his name, and I need to decide if I really want to take the next step forward. He's cute, and I think I'd enjoy his company, but I also don't know anything about him and don't want to be that creeper who asks too many questions at work.
Maybe I can ask him out for a drink. That'd be straightforward enough, I suppose.
He's not there the next morning, but his sister is. At least, I'm sure she's his sister, until I get close enough to read her name tag.
illustration by Nebulosity Çiélon
I must have a look of bewilderment matching the feeling I've got, because she says, "August, don't forget your coffee. What's wrong?"
"I thought... Cam was..."
She frowns. "You thought I was...?"
I grimace, suddenly feeling very, very stupid. "I thought he was your brother."
It takes a few seconds for the laugh to build, but she doubles over with arms crossed over her stomach. Once again my cheeks are on fire, and I'm really wishing this conversation could have happened in private so I could have saved myself the utter humiliation.
"You thought I was two people?" She straightens again, wiping the tears from her eyes. "I suppose I should be flattered that I pass so well, but I've never had someone think I was two people before."
"I thought maybe you were twins," I mutter.
"You're cute," she says in response.
I groan and pick up my coffee. "Okay, well, that's never a good phrase to hear, so I'm going to be on my way."
"Wait," she says. "I didn't mean that... Not in that way. I really do think you're cute."
God, I wish I could turn my cheeks off. "Really? I mean-- Thank you."
She laughs again, and I feel like an asshole for saying that.
"You should pick me up for dinner," Cam says with a grin.
"Uh," I say. I really thought I was more eloquent than that.
Cam laughs again, then rips off a strip of receipt tape and scribbles down some numbers. She lays it carefully on top of the lid on the cup in my hand with a wink. "The coffee's on me today. Give me a call later... I get off work at four."
I can't even focus at work with that phone number burning a hole in my coat pocket. The hours tick by so painfully slow, it's as though the universe is taunting me. Cute gu-- gir-- person wants to go out with you, but I won't let it happen, I imagine Father Time whispering.
That thought reminds me that I have no idea how to refer to Cam.
It also reminds me that I have no idea how to ask that tactfully.
I call the number as soon as I can after work, and Cam picks up quickly. "Hey! I'm glad you called."
I'm relieved Cam didn't give me a false number. "I'm glad I did, too."
"So you're going to pick me up for dinner, right?"
Oh God, Cam was serious? "Tonight?"
"I expect you at my place in twenty minutes. I assume you live close to the cafe?"
I stammer for a few seconds. "A-actually, I live about thirty minutes away from it. It's closer to my work."
"I'm going to text you an address. I expect you here in thirty-five minutes, then."
I grimace again, raking a hand through my hair. "Can I ask why you're being so... final about this?"
Cam laughs on the other end of the line. "Because, August, if I've gathered anything about you in the months you've been coming to the cafe, it's that you can't make any major decisions. You lock up. Just come pick me up for dinner."
Cam is right, of course. The first time I went to that cafe I practically shut down from all the coffee choices and just said the first order that came to mind -- the double shot red-eye, something one of my friends had mentioned once in passing and sounded just badass and pretentious-hipster enough to hopefully impress the barista. To impress Cam.
We hang up, and a couple of minutes later, my phone chimes with a text message. Cam lives only around the block from the cafe, and it won't be difficult to find.
When I'm about halfway there, I realize I have no idea where we're going for dinner. I'm sure Cam has that planned out, too.
Cam is waiting for me when I pull up. Cam isn't looking very feminine, but not very masculine, either. I can't come up with a good word for it -- androgynous, maybe. I unlock the doors and Cam climbs into the front passenger seat.
"I hope you like pizza and beer," Cam says.
I laugh. "My favorite."
Cam gives me directions as I drive. Turn here, watch out for the speed trap there. Cam's a good navigator, but something's bothering me. I blurt out, "I have no earthly idea how to talk about you. You're sometimes a boy and sometimes a girl, and I think you're great either way, but I can't just keep flipping between 'he' and 'she' in my head."
Cam blinks at me, mouth open, then with a soft voice says, "Turn left up at the next intersection."
For a second I wonder if I've fucked up, but then Cam speaks again. "I don't think anyone's actually asked about that before, not on a first date. Then again, I don't think anyone's been aware of it on the first date."
"Aware of what?" I ask, my eyes glued to the road for fear of missing the place.
Gender identity isn't something I would call myself educated on. I've got the basic understanding that it isn't a binary, but it looks like Cam is about to expand my horizons. I'm cool with that.
"I'm genderfluid," Cam says. "Sometimes I feel like a guy, and I dress to reflect that. Sometimes I feel like a girl, and I dress like that instead."
I nod. "That makes sense. It can't be easy to have to dress one way when you feel like it's totally wrong."
"Just imagine if someone made you grow your hair out long," Cam says, raking fingertips against my undercut, "and wear dresses and makeup."
I make a face. I don't have too long to contemplate how much that would suck before Cam speaks up again. "It's up ahead on your right."
It's easier than I expect to find a parking spot, and I shut off the engine as Cam speaks.
"I prefer they," Cam says.
"I don't want to be called he, or she. I prefer they." Cam glances over at me, hand on the door handle as though ready to run back home as fast as possible.
"So instead of... 'He was at the cafe this morning,' you want me to say, 'They were at the cafe this morning.'" I make sure the doors are unlocked anyway, just for Cam's sense of security. I didn't want them to feel as though I was trying to trap them.
They smile in response. "Yeah, like that. Well... that was way easier than I expected it would be."
"I can't guarantee I won't fuck up," I say softly.
Cam's smile grows a little sad. "I can't promise I'll tolerate too much of that."
It takes a second for all the implications of that to sink in. "I swear I will do my best, Cam. Please tell me if I fuck up. I will fix it, I swear."
They still look a little doubtful, but Cam's smile relaxes again.
I want nothing more in that moment than to kiss them, but I'm afraid of overstepping boundaries. We'd just discussed some pretty heavy stuff, even if we did dance around it all. I lean across the car, slow enough so as to give them a way out, but Cam leans forward to meet me.
That first kiss is amazing. I shove a hand into Cam's hair and hold them close, our lips shoved together muffling our moans. The chemistry is palpable. I want Cam, and I'm quickly realizing they want me, too.
I feel Cam's hand grope over my thigh toward my crotch and I smother a groan against their lips. I feel around the base of my seat until I can unbuckle my seatbelt, then again until I can recline the seat.
Cam takes advantage of the change in angle, draping themselves over me, their hand working frantically to undo my belt, my button, my zipper. I writhe in my seat, helping in the endeavor as best as I can without letting go of Cam, without stopping the kisses. It doesn't take long before my cock is out and Cam's hand is wrapped around it. They stroke their hand along its length with a firm grasp and I can't even stop the groan that starts somewhere deep in my gut.
Cam laughs against my lips and kisses me one last time before moving down and swallowing my dick in one move.
Oh, Cam obviously enjoys this. I let my head fall back against the headrest and close my eyes, enjoying the movements of their lips along my dick, so hard in their mouth. Their fingers play over my sack, and behind them as best as they could with the jeans in the way, pressing against that part between my legs just behind my balls.
It's so easy to give myself over to the feeling. Cam has obviously had a lot of practice and it shows in their movements. They know all the best places without me even saying anything, and their tongue finds each of them in turn.
I start to lift my hips to meet their movements, my fingers tightening in their hair. I'm not going to last long and I say so, but Cam merely hums, driving themselves down even farther, sucking harder. I can't even keep my eyes open anymore at this rate and I shout when I come. The sound seems to echo inside my tiny car. It doesn't seem to bother Cam, who swallows every last drop I give up and grins at me when they straighten with a thumb wiping at the corner of their mouth.
"Good God," I gasp.
Cam is wearing the most smug smile I've ever seen. "Yeah, I've heard that a few times."
I carefully tuck myself back into my pants and zip the fly shut while looking out the windows. Nobody seems to have noticed, which I'm glad for; I really don't want to add talking to the police to my night. "Do you want me to--"
"No." Cam shakes their head. "Not here. Maybe later."
We sit in silence as my breathing slows down again. "What made you want to go out with me?" I ask, starting to feel awkward about this whole thing.
"I thought you were cute. Also that you were trying too hard."
I frown at Cam just the slightest bit. "What do you mean?"
They chuckle. "Your coffee order. You're just trying to be a badass."
"Well, I mean--" I say. I feel as though I'm spluttering, and I am. I'm trying to come up with a reason, an excuse, anything that isn't the truth.
"You do know it has less caffeine that way, right?"
They nod, that smug grin back on their face again. "Espresso actually has less caffeine than drip coffee. You're basically adding watered-down caffeine to less coffee, especially since you add half-and-half anyway."
That's a blow to my pride I didn't anticipate receiving right after such an awesome blow job. I grimace again, scrubbing my hand over my face.
Cam speaks again, their voice much gentler and more soft-spoken this time. "For what it's worth, I really thought that was cute. You were trying to impress me, weren't you?"
"It worked." They smile, placing a hand on my cheek to turn my face to theirs. "Somehow, the sight of you trying so hard worked very well." They press a small kiss to my lips. "Now, let's get some dinner, and then we'll go back to my place and I'll let you reciprocate all night long."