Blaine glances at the clock.
He’s got five more minutes before he comes in. Blaine glances at the never-ending line of customers stretching down along the counter, past the pastry case and to the door. If he starts making the coffee now, it’ll get cold before he can get it. And there’s nothing Blaine wants to give him less than a lukewarm latte with a destroyed crema.
It’s been a week. One week since the first time the tall, beautiful young man with smooth, pale skin and arresting eyes pushed his way into Blaine’s bustling Starbucks on a Monday morning, arms full of notebooks and too many bags secured over his broad shoulders. His cheeks were flushed a pretty pink and he’d blinked anxiously at the line of customers in front of him, shifting impatiently from foot to foot as the line clearly moved too slowly for his liking.
Blaine had never seen him before.
He’d ordered a drink, reading the request off a slip of paper and had fumbled a little with a credit card to pay for it, struggling with his bags and notepads. Blaine had been on bar that morning, as he almost always is, and had spilled at least two shots of espresso and burnt a pitcher of milk trying to sneak little glances at the man who was dressed far, far too well to be a tourist.
From what Blaine could see over the espresso machine, the man was wearing a dark coat, tailored to his slim figure, with a light blue scarf draped around his neck, even though it was September and still warm. His hair was swept up and back, but still managed to look soft to the touch. Not that Blaine wanted to touch his hair. That would be weird, and inappropriate.
It took a few minutes for Blaine to get to the man’s drink, but when he did, he slowed down from his usual frenetic pace, oddly eager to make this drink as best as he knew how – and if he were perfectly honest, he knew how to make a damn good cup of coffee. He steamed the milk with care, annoyed, and not for the first time, with the automatic machines that took away the subtle skill necessary to create a really beautiful foam. But he managed, and the dollop he scooped across the drop of the drink (light foam), concealing the honey-golden crema, was silky smooth. Perfect.
Blaine hadn’t bothered to read the name on the cup until he called the drink out:
“I have a venti, nonfat, light foam, two Splenda latte for Mrs. Bradshaw.”
Blaine blinked in surprise at the name.
“That’s for me, thank you.” The young man with the perfect hair and beautiful clothes reached his hand out for the drink, but Blaine didn’t let go. Their fingers almost brushed against the paper cup.
“Mrs. Bradshaw?” Blaine had asked, stupidly.
The man had flushed prettily and bit his lip. “It’s for my boss,” he’d admitted, and Blaine shivered at the sweet tone of his voice. “It’s my first day. I didn’t know I was supposed to bring her coffee. No one told me.”
“Oh. Here it is.” Blaine finally let go at the drink and hoped his smile wasn’t as idiotic looking as it felt. He didn’t even notice the dirty looks the other customers were shooting them both as the orders began to pile up on his bar.
“Thank you. I hope it’s good,” the man nodded at the drink in his hand, and shrugged his bags back up his shoulder a bit. “I’ll be fired if it’s not.”
Blaine had felt the color drain from his face and gaped at the man, who looked altogether too serious, despite the mischievous twinkle in his stunning eyes. “What?”
The man grinned and rolled his eyes. “I’m joking, I’m joking. Your face was priceless though.”
Blaine had fumbled for something to say, something clever and witty and designed to make the other man laugh, but a cellphone had buzzed from somewhere in his coat and the man swore softly under his breath.
“Shit, shit,” he muttered. “I’m going to be so late. Thanks again.” And then he was gone, shouldering the door open and disappearing into the bustle of Times Square.
Blaine had watched him go through the large window. “I hope I don’t get you fired.”
The young man had come back the next morning, an hour earlier, and this time carrying nothing except a leather satchel. He’d look calmer, less anxious, and he stood still and impeccably dressed in the line until he’d reached the register and ordered the same drink as the day before.
“I see I didn’t get you fired,” Blaine said, when the man had reached the bar and his perfectly made drink was ready for him.
“And I thank you for that,” he’d replied, and his eyes were a slightly different shade of blue than they’d been the morning before. “I rather like this job, or at least I think I do. It’s only my second day. We’ll see if I can’t screw anything up in the next nine hours.”
“Well here’s hoping for a third.” Blaine was relieved he’d somehow managed to say something mildly not-dumb. His tongue, already not the quickest, felt heavy and slow in his mouth around this gorgeous, intriguing stranger.
The man had tipped his cup at Blaine and left with another smile.
He’d come back every morning that week, at the exact same time, and ordered the exact same drink. And Blaine still didn’t know his name.
Another Monday morning and Blaine is ready for him. He’s got a fresh milk pitcher waiting and clean shot glasses, just for the man’s drink. He’d made sure to keep his deployment on bar; it wasn’t difficult – everyone knows he made the best drinks in the store.
The clock ticks another minute and Blaine looks up just as the door pushes open and he sweeps in, tall and regal in his long coat and high boots.
The man’s eyes immediately find his through the crowd of customers and Blaine sketches a wave at him, thrilling down to his toes when the stranger smiles and wiggles his fingers (long, strong fingers) back at him.
Blaine ignores all of his Starbucks training and starts making the man’s drink, ahead of the other cups in line. He hears another drink get called out and sees a marked cup get set down next to him. He glances at it: grande nonfat, no whip mocha. The name scrawled at the top of the cup is “Kurt.” Blaine gets another pitcher of nonfat milk steaming and finishes off the venti latte with a clever little bit of foam art that Mrs. Bradshaw will never even notice, but it pleases Blaine to do anyway.
“Here’s your drink, Mrs. Bradshaw’s assistant,” he says, letting a bit of coyness slip into his voice. He had lovely couple of days off over the weekend, gotten all of his homework completed, it’s a beautiful Monday morning, and he’s feeling brave.
The man rolls his eyes at Blaine, but takes the cup. “You’re too good to me. I saw you start my drink before those other people. I can only imagine the rioting if they found out.”
“I have no idea what you mean.” Blaine is unduly impressed with himself that he’s managing to flirt, just a little, while making a mocha.
“Oh, of course not. My mistake.” The man bites at his bottom lip, and Blaine wants to know that feels like. He focuses on the drink in front of him, and not the breadth of the stranger’s shoulders, or the pale length of his neck, exposed by the low draping of his scarf.
“May I have a tray?” The man asks, tipping his head towards the stack of cardboard trays on the counter.
“For one drink?” Blaine asks, confused. It’s not the first time someone has asked for a tray for one little drink, but it’s the first time the stranger has asked for anything at all.
“Oh, that one’s mine too. I finally got something for myself. My boss yelled at me for neglecting a caffeine habit.” The man shrugs a little, clearly a little embarrassed, and yet pleased at the allowance of his boss. It must be his first real job, and he’s lucky his employer doesn’t seem like a jackass.
Blaine looks down at the drink he’s just putting a lid on.
The young man’s name is Kurt. He is no longer Mrs. Bradshaw’s assistant, he is Kurt.
“Kurt,” Blaine says, and flushes at his returning idiocy.
“Grande nonfat, no whip mocha.”
“Yep, that’s also me.”
Blaine hesitates to hand the man, Kurt, the drink. He’d made it by rote memory, no attention to detail, no finesse, - just practiced repetition. Not like the latte, which, even though he’d known it wasn’t for Kurt specifically, he’d still spent extra time crafting it.
“Let me remake this for you” he says, already halfway to dumping it out. The chocolate sauce probably isn’t well-incorporated into the milk and it’s probably clumped at the bottom of the cup. He can’t serve that to Kurt.
“What? No. I’m sure it’s fine.” Kurt reaches out and takes the cup from Blaine’s hand, and this time their fingers do brush. Blaine shivers, even though it’s always so warm behind the bar, with the espresso machines in front of him and the oven at his back. He hopes his cheeks aren’t as flushed as they feel.
“Nope.” Kurt jams the second drink into the carrier and picks it up. “If it’s no good I’ll just come back and have you fired.” He winks at Blaine, he fucking winks, and Blaine knows his face is red and his jaw is dropped.
“See you tomorrow, barista.” And then Kurt is gone; back out into the endless motion that is Times Square. Blaine tries to catch sight of him, tall in the crowd, to see where he goes after he leaves every morning, but Kurt turns the corner onto Broadway and is gone from sight.
Blaine knows Kurt will be back tomorrow morning, and he’s going to have the best goddamn nonfat mocha waiting for him.