“I got that coffee shop love;
makes me espresso many feelings.”
— Ryan Higa
Thomas loved Teresa. He really did. But last night, she might have started to irritate him to the point he would have shoved a pillow in her mouth to shut her up from talking if she weren’t his best friend.
Because Teresa kept him up all night, Thomas was drifting off at work in the morning. Sometimes he really questioned why he had Teresa as a best friend and a roommate. As if having her around in the apartment wasn’t enough already.
Thomas’s head was starting to drop until a horrendously loud voice disturbed his peace. “Mornin’, dickheaaaad!” the voice yelled as they entered the cafe, piercing through every layer of quietness.
“Ugh,” Thomas groaned in reply. “Min, what do you want?” He looked up and turned to look at the asian boy, who had a shit-eating grin plastered on his face. The brunet punched himself internally for he knew he wasn’t going to be getting any rest anytime soon.
Minho snorted, going behind the counter where Thomas was stood. “What got your panties in a twist?”
Thomas let out a deep breath. “It’s Teresa. She kept me up all night. Couldn’t get any sleep at all.” He huffed as he ran a hand through his dark hair.
Tilting his head, Minho looked confused for a mere second before realisation washed over him. “Oh! It’s today, yeah?” He looked at Thomas with an eyebrow raised as he grabbed an apron, tying it around his waist. “Her soulmate clock counts down to today?”
“Mhm,” Thomas confirmed as he massaged his temples, trying to ease the pounding in his head. “It was all she could talk about.”
Minho only shrugged. “Well, of course it was; it’s her soulmate after all. I wouldn’t blame her,” he said. Minho grabbed a white towel that was just lying around as he started to wipe the counter clean for coming customers.
Thomas laughed dryly. “Would you have blamed her if she kept you up until God knows what time rehearsing about what to say when she meets her soulmate?” He arched an eyebrow.
Minho stopped wiping the counter and looked at Thomas wistfully. “You know what you need, my little Tomkin?” Thomas shot him a dangerous glare at the use of the nickname, but Minho only slung an arm over his shoulder. “You —” Minho jabbed at his chest. “— need a break.”
Thomas scrunched up his face before his best friend continued speaking. “And that’s why you’re coming to my party tomorrow night. You didn’t forget, did you?”
“‘Course I remember.” Thomas rolled his eyes. “You never shut up about your awesome party and how it’s going to be awesome.”
Minho grinned. “Cool. You’re coming then?”
Thomas tapped a finger on his chin, feigning being thoughtful. “That depends, really. If you’re going to be there, I don’t think I would want to go,” he said.
It was only a matter of seconds before a white towel hit him on the face. “Dick,” the other boy commented with a laugh. “Plus, it’s my party. The party’ll suck without the host.” Minho jokingly scrunched up his face at Thomas.
Thomas snorted before he relaxed a bit. “Eh, well. You know I would love to be there, but I’m really beat, man,” he said, thinking of how much he’d really rather be sleeping. “Maybe next time?”
“Oh, come on!” Minho pouted, leaning towards the brunet. “It’ll be fun. I promise.”
Thomas shoved him on the chest lightly. “Stop with the puppy eyes. You’re a grown up. It’s creepy.” Minho let out a snort.
“So…,” Minho trailed off.
Thomas had almost forgotten to answer the asian about the party. Except he didn’t know how to. Thomas only looked at him with an unsure expression.
“I cross my heart it’ll be really fun,” Minho assured sternly, making a cross over his chest.
Thomas fought back the urge to roll his eyes again. It was a bad habit. “Fine. You owe me big time, though.” He snatched the white towel from Minho’s hand. “You and Teresa both actually,” he pointed out while he started finishing Minho’s job of wiping the counter. He knew well customers were going to start entering in a matter of time.
On most occasions, Thomas didn’t like customers who came to The Glade — the cafe he was currently working in — in the morning. They were ridiculously grumpy, sometimes rude, and worst of all… dull. Workers at The Glade started to call them Grievers. There would be the usual ‘Where’s my coffee?! I’ve been here forever!’ (You’ve literally only been here for ten minutes.) and sometimes ‘You’re causing me to be late for work, you snail. I’m going to report you if you don’t hurry up!’ (I’m sure you are.)
Thomas almost winced as the thought.
Of course, Thomas understood why Grievers acted the way they did. No one wants to be up at six in the morning. As dorky as it sounded, he was a huge believer of respect (and he also just really disliked rude people). Thomas liked to start days off with a bright smile and positivity. However, with the sleep he didn’t get the night before, he might be able to tolerate them for once as he felt like he was turning into a Griever himself.
Thomas’s thoughts were interrupted when the bell at the top of the cafe’s door chimed, indicating that someone had entered. He straightened his posture, preparing himself to come face-to-face with a Griever.
And with that, Thomas automatically returned to his sluggish posture as he looked to see Teresa smiling. He couldn’t help but groan.
“What’s up with him?” Teresa asked Minho, jerking a thumb towards Thomas. Teresa sat down on one of the stools just where the counter was.
“He’s going nuts with the lack of sleep apparently,” Minho said as he tapped his head.
Thomas made sure to send Minho a death glare before he shoved the white towel where no one would see; Teresa snorted.
Minho returned Thomas’ glare with a cheeky grin. “Love you, Tomkin,” he said in a disgustingly sweet voice.
Not wanting to take it any further, Thomas ignored the comment and rolled his eyes in reply before waving him off.
“Anyway.” Teresa propped an elbow on the counter. “Could you flash me a quick cup of coffee, please?” she asked, turning to Thomas. “You’re not the only one who didn’t get much sleep last night.”
Thomas snorted as he made his way to brew coffee. “I know. I was with you in case you forgot.” The smell of coffee started to float around the cafe. Thomas always liked the smell of coffee; it was nice, almost addicting.
“Yeah, yeah.” Teresa waved a hand. “Oh, and make sure to make it black. I need to look a little more alive today. Wouldn’t want my soulmate to think I’m some sort of — what do you call those again?” She tilted her head to the side.
“Grievers!” Minho piped in.
Teresa pointed at Minho. “Yep,” Teresa said. “That exactly.”
Minho walked out of the counter and sat down on the stool next to Teresa. “Speaking of soulmates, what is your clock down at?”
Thomas looked up at Teresa expectantly, who gave her wrist a quick glance. “A couple of hours.” She breathed nervously. “God, I’m actually so nervous, but excited nonetheless, you know?”
Minho slapped her back lightly for encouragement. “You’ll be fine, Tes. You’re one of the coolest people I know. You’ll kill it!” he cried out enthusiastically before he realised what he had just said. “Not literally, though. Like. Don’t kill your soulmate,” he added seriously.
Teresa laughed at the boy. “Thank you. You’re the best. I’m just a tad bit nervous.” She shrugged as if it was nothing. “That’s all.”
Thomas walked over to where his best friends were standing with a cup of black coffee in his hands. “Well, don’t be nervous. Min’s right. You’ll kill it.” Minho flipped Thomas off. “Anyway, here’s your coffee. I added a dose of cocoa powder in there, by the way. To give you a little boost.” Thomas slid the cup across the counter towards the dark-haired girl before it skidded to a stop just right in front of her.
Teresa grabbed the cup. “Thanks, Tom.” She smiled as she brought the warm container to her mouth, but paused before her lips could meet the cup. She stared at it with a look of mock suspicion.
Thomas raised an eyebrow. “What?”
“Is there milk in this?” Teresa asked as if she was testing their friendship. But of course, with something like that, Thomas would get away with it without any trouble.
“Skimmed,” he answered easily.
“A pinch and a half.”
Teresa flashed Thomas a grin. “You know me so well,” she said as she took a sip from her cup. Thomas replied with a salute.
Minho, who had been watching the two converse as if he was in a tennis match, shook his head and groaned. He dropped his head on his hands. “You both are fucking insane,” he grumbled. “You two know that, right?” He turned to his best friends.
Thomas grinned toothily at the boy. “You’re part of this squad too, Min,” he reminded him. “Call us insane—” He pointed at himself and Teresa. “—then you’re insane as well.”
Teresa nodded with a knowing smirk before she exchanged high fives with the brunet.
Minho scrunched up his nose. “You know, I feel like we’re going to scare your soulmate off.”
Thomas plopped his elbows on the counter and leaned on it, humming in agreement. “That’s probably true, actually,” he said before he turned to Minho. “Might even do it on purpose, right Min?” Thomas bit the inside of his cheeks to keep the urge to laugh inside.
“You betcha.” Minho winked at him before he had a sudden idea. “Hey, maybe we should invite him to the party.” He shrugged.
The next thing Thomas knew, Teresa was shooting daggers at the asian. “And what’s with the sudden idea?” she asked, her eyes narrowing. “I swear to God I’ll personally cut both of your legs off if you idiots do anything to scare him off,” she threatened. “With my nail file.”
Thomas couldn’t help it; he choked on a laugh. “Oh my God, she’s onto you.”
Minho put a hand over his chest, acting as if he’d been offended. “I’m a lovely friend. I would never do something as extreme as scaring your soulmate off!” he opposed. All Thomas could do was snicker while Teresa rolled her eyes.
“Seriously though. Invite him to the party,” Minho said once the atmosphere was more relaxed. “Introduce him to the group.”
Thomas nodded. “Yeah, he’s right, actually. We’ve got quite a large group,” he added. “Maybe by bringing him to the party, he could get to know what sort of people we hang out with, you know? Could be interesting,” he said as he shifted to adjust his apron.
Teresa examined both of their faces; looking for any trace of jokes. “Well…” she trailed off. “I guess that could happen.” She sighed, giving in. Thomas and Minho exchanged grins but that was cut short when Teresa spoke up again. “Just make sure you both are in your best behaviour. I mean it.” She fixed a hard gaze on her face.
Minho and Thomas replied in sync. “Yes, captain.”
Teresa dismissed the two with a wave of a hand before she wrapped her hands around her cup of coffee to warm her hands. “Oh, right. That reminds me… Minho, aren’t you going to get some stuff for the party soon?”
“Yeah,” Minho confirmed with a nod. “Thomas is coming with me.”
Thomas’s attention snapped to the asian. “Wait, what?” he asked. He couldn't recall anything about what Teresa had just said.
Teresa snorted. “You two work that out. I don’t want to be here when you both bicker about buying party stuff again.” She shook her head. Thomas shot her a look, which she gleefully ignored. “Anyway, could you get a gift basket? Just a small one will do,” she added before she took a sip from her coffee again.
Minho looked impressed. “Tes, you haven’t even met the man yet and you’re already getting him stuff?” He nodded as if to show approval. “Nice.”
Thomas rolled his eyes at Minho, trying to resist the overwhelming urge to give him a light smack on the head. Just light. “I normally don’t agree with… this thing.” He jerked a thumb towards Minho. The asian leaned back, feigning hurt. “But yeah, isn’t it a bit too soon?”
It was silent for a matter of seconds. Teresa looked between Minho and Thomas with a blank expression plastered on her face before she let out a tired huff. “Oh God…” she said before she started massaging her temples. “Didn’t you see the boxes, Tom?”
Thomas scrunched up his face. Again, another bad habit. He was starting to think he should make a list of them, really, and name it List of Things You Should Really Avoid Doing. “Boxes?”
“Yes, dumbass. Right across our apartment?” she asked slowly, seeing if she could ring a bell in Thomas’s mind. However, Thomas’s confused look clearly stated that he hadn’t seen anything. “Someone moved across our apartment, Tom,” she said finally with an eyebrow raised that said ‘How could you have missed it?’.
Thomas was taken aback. He scratched the back of his neck before replying, “Really? Must have missed them then.” Teresa almost hit him for looking so sorry over a little thing. “I was just really tired, I guess,” he said but mostly to himself as if he was in disbelief for missing the boxes.
But before Teresa could tell him it didn’t matter, Minho interrupted her. “Aw, that sucks!” he whined, a pout landing on his lips.
Thomas and Teresa both deadpanned him at the same time. “You’re only saying that because you always crash in our place to play ridiculously loud songs. I’m surprised you’re doing fine with hearing us,” Teresa said dryly.
“Uptown Funk,” Thomas added with a look of disbelief. “Really, Min? Really?”
Minho grinned toothily at his best friends. “You guys love me, though.” He blew a kiss to both of them as Thomas broke into a small laugh, shoving his face away with a hand.
“Sadly.” Teresa snorted. “Anyway, could you go get that gift basket for me?” she asked. “For me and Tom actually since we share the apartment.” She glanced at Thomas when she mentioned him.
Thomas nodded. He didn’t think it was a bad idea. “Yeah, sure. I don’t see why we need to, though.”
“Please, Tom. If you were the one who had seen the boxes first, you’d be carrying tens of thousands of gift baskets right now.” Teresa rolled her eyes as Minho snickered in agreement.
“I’m not always sociable,” Thomas said in defence. Although, he didn’t really see why he needed to.
“Keep telling yourself that, love,” the girl said easily. “Anyway, please do get a gift basket. I have to head off now,” she announced. Teresa glanced at the clock just behind the counter as she checked the time. “I still have to work on the dress back at Uni.”
Minho looked amused. “Don’t you ever get tired of knitting and designing? Sounds like so much work.” His face scrunched up at the mention of work. Effort was never really his cup of tea.
“Not when you’re a student who’s taking a fashion degree, Minho.” She rolled her eyes with a knowing smile as she fluffed her dark hair a bit and fixed it in place.
Thomas raised an eyebrow at Teresa for a moment. “Wait, you’re meeting your soulmate today, right?”
Teresa nodded as she slid off the stool she had been sitting on. “Yep,” she confirmed. “But it so happens to be that the time my countdown hits zero, I’m going to be in the studio working on the costumes the drama department asked for,” she said, unbothered.
Minho got off the stool he was sitting on as well; thinking that it wasn’t probably long before customers started coming in. “Oh, that sucks,” Minho commented. “Meeting your soulmate in campus? How romantic.” He sighed dreamily, mocking Teresa.
Teresa didn’t have to think twice when she walked over where Minho was stood and gave him a deserved smack on his head. “Watch it,” she warned. “Plus, I don’t think it sucks. At least I’m going to be meeting him in a place where I actually look like I’m doing something good with my life,” she said, almost flinching at how bad it sounded once the words left her lips.
Thomas bubbled in laughter. “That statement is the final confirmation that this so-called squad is just composed of losers.” He shook his head with a small smile lingering on his lips.
Teresa rolled her eyes. “Yeah, it is,” she replied. The corners of her mouth twitching upwards didn’t go unnoticed, though.
Minho rubbed the back of his head where Teresa had just hit him. “Could have been a little more gentle, Tes. I’m almost convinced you’re Frankenstein, you monster,” he muttered under his breath.
“Scientist,” Thomas interjected immediately as he corrected Minho. “Frankenstein is the mad scientist.”
Teresa looked between Minho and Thomas intently as if she was observing them. “I don’t remember why I love both of you but I do.” She shook her head to mock disappointment. Thomas and Minho exchanged grins as Teresa waved her hand. “Whatever. I’m going to go now. Bye, kids,” she said her farewell as she gave Thomas and Minho one last hug. And once she was done with the hugging, she let out a deep breath; her nerves slowly kicking in. She knew that once she stepped out of the cafe, she was going to be one step closer to meeting her soulmate.
Despite how tired Teresa had just made Thomas the night before, Thomas couldn’t help but feel his heart swell with happiness for his best friend. She had been waiting for so long for it. She truly deserves it, Thomas thought. He smiled at her and gave her two thumbs up for encouragement. “Kill it, Tes!”
Thomas thought he was going to earn a smack from Minho, but he only smiled at Teresa too. “Yeah, kill it.” Minho grinned. “Oh, and make sure to swing by the cafe with him later. Thomas and I will be right here.”
“Okay, yeah. I think that’ll be nice, actually,” she responded before laughing. “Plus, thanks for the advice. I’ll definitely kill it.” She waved goodbye to her two friends as she stepped out of the cafe, the bell on top of the door chiming as she did so.
Once Teresa had left, Minho walked behind the counter and turned to Thomas. “What time are you having your break today, by the way? Maybe we can head over to the supermarket then.”
Thomas stayed silent for a second as he tried to recall his schedule. His face dropped. “It’s Monday today,” he said in disappointment. “I don’t usually have breaks on Monday because it’s often our busiest day. Well, unless I’m lucky you know.” He shrugged as he walked to where the muffins were displayed, and grabbed one for himself.
“Really?” Minho tilted his head slightly. “Then why do I have breaks on Mondays?”
Thomas, who was chewing on his muffin, snorted. “Because I’m much more efficient than you are?” he guessed jokingly with his mouth full. Bingo. Another habit to add in the list.
But once the words left Thomas’ lips, Minho looked proper offended. The brunet was about to apologise for what he had just said when Minho spoke, “That’s not fair.” He pouted, frowning in the process.
Both Thomas and Minho jumped when a voice that belonged to neither of them spoke. “Actually, it’s because both of you never concentrate well when you’re together in the same room,” they said as the bell jingled.
Thomas and Minho looked up to see their boss walking in the cafe with Frypan, who was probably the best baker in their small town.
“Mornin’, Jorge. Mornin’, Fry.” Minho waved a hand as he greeted them. He stepped aside and made space for Frypan to make his way behind the counter.
Frypan was about to greet Minho back with a smile until his eyes landed on Thomas, who had a mouthful of one of the chocolate muffins he had baked the night before. Thomas visibly gulped. “Thomas.” Frypan narrowed his eyes as Minho tried his very best not to burst into laughter. “Did you take that from the fresh batch of pastries?”
Thomas stood frozen on the floor. He slowly licked his lips to hide the crumbs. Although, it wasn’t a really pretty idea since there was still a half-eaten muffin sitting on the palm of his hand. “Uh… no?” he said sheepishly.
Frypan walked over to where Thomas was stood and grabbed the muffin from the brunet’s hand. He shook his head. “Thomas, you’ve got to stop doing that. This is strike two,” he threatened. “Strike three and you’re out.”
Jorge reacted to the scene with only a short snort. “Ah well, hermanos. I will be back later to check on you children. Try to do your best today, alright?” He looked at them expectantly.
The three of them nodded obediently. “Yes, sir.”
A smile broke onto the man’s face. “Good,” he said. “Harriet and Aris will be here some time soon, I think. Just make sure you’re all ready to greet the customers.” He nodded mostly to himself.
“Grievers,” Minho blurted.
Jorge turned to Minho with a confused look. Minho wasn’t going to lie; he was a bit intimidated by the old man. He fidgeted uncomfortably, almost regretting that he had spoken up in the first place. “The, uh. The customers. We call them Grievers.” Thomas had to hide his snicker with a fake cough as he watched Minho turn into a baby shade of pink.
Jorge took a step towards Minho with his eyes narrowed. He examined the asian for a second, making Minho more uncomfortable than ever. It wasn’t long before the man shook his head. “You kids with your imaginations,” he muttered under his breath before he disappeared into his office.
Once Jorge was out of sight, Minho visibly relaxed. He let out a sigh of relief. “That old man scares me sometimes.”
Thomas laughed as he walked over to the thermostat to adjust the temperature a bit. He liked it warm, really. “Maybe you shouldn’t have blurted that out in the first place then,” he said with his back turned to Minho as he carefully turned the thermostat. “Don’t worry though. Man’s really kind. He won’t do anything.” He stepped back once he was satisfied with the temperature.
Frypan nodded in agreement as he stepped around Minho to grab his apron and tied it around his waist. “That’s true…” he trailed off. Frypan looked like he was in deep thought. “Huh. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him snap. Ever.”
Minho looked up at Frypan. “Oh, that reminds me. Is it alright if you cover Thomas’ shift this afternoon for a bit?” he asked.
The baker washed his hands in the small sink nearby as he raised an eyebrow at Minho. “You’re asking me to cover the shift of the idiot who always eats my muffins in the morning and tries to convince me he hadn’t eaten anything despite the visible crumbs on his face?” he asked.
Minho snorted as Thomas quickly brought a hand to his mouth and wiped away whatever crumbs there were. “I do not have crumbs on my face!” Thomas cried out.
“Gotcha.” Frypan grinned triumphantly.
Minho rolled his eyes at his best friend before turning his attention back to Frypan, who was drying his hands with a towel. “Please? We’re going to the supermarket later to get stuff for the party,” Minho filled him in.
“Oh. The one you’re holding not too long from now, yeah?” Frypan recalled.
Minho grinned and nodded in confirmation. “Yep. And I’ll need Tomkin here to buy the groceries with me.”
Frypan leaned on the counter and thought about it for a second. “Fine.” He waved his hand. “But,” he continued just as Minho was about to fist bump the air, “in one condition.”
Minho studied the baker for a moment. “What is it?”
From the back, Thomas groaned loudly. “I think I know what it is.” He walked back to where Minho and Frypan were stood. “Seriously, Fry. It was just once!”
Minho turned to Thomas in confusion. “I don’t get it. What is it?” he asked the brunet, who looked just the slightest offended.
Frypan smirked. “Tell him.”
Thomas rolled his eyes before finally letting Minho in on the secret condition. “He doesn’t want me to eat his muffins anymore,” he deadpanned.
And almost immediately, both Frypan and Thomas got an earful. “That’s easy, man!” Minho exclaimed a little too loud.
“Right?” Frypan walked over to the oven with a smile to turn it on, giving it time to heat before he could start baking.
It wasn’t long before the cafe was starting to smell of warm pastry with a dash of coffee. Thomas always thought that it wouldn’t be a surprise if people came to The Glade just to have a sniff of the aroma.
Thomas gave up. “Yeah, alright. I won’t take your muffins again,” he promised. “It’s not my fault they’re good, though!”
Minho nodded as Frypan grinned. “S’alright. I’ll cover your shift this afternoon,” he said as he started kneading the paste. “Just don’t take too long. I doubt I’ll last long when the school kids arrive.” He sounded almost mortified that Thomas chuckled.
Minho immediately jumped up from his seat and crashed Frypan with a big hug. “Thank you!” the asian shrieked.
The corner of Thomas’ lips twitched upwards as he watched the scene unfolding before him in amusement. Frypan almost fell, and laughed about it. “Whatever, Minho. Just get off me now. I think I see a Griever approaching the cafe.”