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By Any Other Name

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The barista slouching behind the counter does not look enthused by the prospect of serving him.

In fact, that barista slouching behind the counter does not actually look all that enthused about being alive. He has the kind of mouth that curls down at the edges even when he’s not actively frowning, like his default expression is meant to act as a deterrent against human interaction.

“Can I take your order?” he says as Jim approaches. There’s a mid-day lull, and there’s no one else waiting in line.

“I don’t know—” Jim’s gaze flicks down to the man’s name tag, “—Leonard, can you?” He flashes a wide, toothy grin, and gets an utter lack of reaction. Damn.

“Since this is a coffee shop,” says Leonard drily, “you’ll find we’re equipped to serve you coffee, as well as provide you with an assortment of snacks, sandwiches, and calorie-laden desserts. We also make tea. So I’ll ask again: can I help you?”

Jim’s smile does not dim. He lets himself appreciate the way Leonard’s generous mouth curls disdainfully around his words when he speaks and spends a brief moment admiring his broad shoulders. Damn. “I’ll have a large café mocha, please.”

“Whip?” asks Leonard, seemingly relieved that Jim has decided to play ball and conform to standard coffee shop expectations. He punches the order into his till.

“And chocolate sauce,” says Jim, winking at Leonard.

Leonard’s jaw tics, like he’s restraining himself from saying something inappropriate. “Right,” he says again. “Name for the cup?”

“Captain Kirk,” says Jim brightly.

This time, Leonard rolls his eyes. Like he’s physically incapable of not producing this particular physiological reaction. Jim is thrilled to bits. “That’ll be $5.25,” says Leonard, calling out the order and handing the cup off.

Jim pays him, and stands off to the side by the bar. This, he decides, will be his new coffee place. It will be amazing.

 

oOo

“Captain Kirk,” greets Leonard the next day. “What can I get you?”

“You remembered!” says Jim, stupidly pleased. “I don’t know. What do you recommend?”

Leonard makes a face, clearly unused to dealing with customers that don’t know exactly what they want. “Well. The cookie dough latte is pretty good, if you go for that sort of thing.”

“That is not the most ringing endorsement,” says Jim, raising an eyebrow. Christ, this guy is adorable. In a completely-unaware-of-his-own-adorableness kind of way. “But I’ll take it. Large.”

“Whip?” asks Leonard.

“And sprinkles,” says Jim. He winks.

Leonard ignores him and rings through the transaction, picking up a cup and a sharpie. “Name for the cup?”

“Iron Man,” says Jim.

Leonard makes a noise that could be construed as a laugh if Jim is being generous in his classification. Spoiler alert: he is. “Right,” he says. “There you go, Tony Stark. It’ll be on the bar in a minute.”

“If I’m Tony Stark, does that make you—”

“Don’t finish that sentence,” says Leonard.

Jim throws up his hands, palms out, and backs away. “I didn’t say a word!”

“Let’s try to keep it that way,” says Leonard. His mouth curves upward, just a bit like a smirk.

Jim considers it a win.

 

oOo

 

“I’ll try the apple cinnamon cider, today,” says Jim, leaning on the counter and eyeing the menu.

“Large?” asks Leonard, raising an eyebrow.

“You know me so well.” Jim opens his wallet. “Can I have a cinnamon stick, too?”

“Who would I be to deny you?” drawls Leonard. Jim’s been trying to place his accent. It’s definitely Southern. And definitely sexy. “Name for the cup?” He sounds expectant. Jim’s been giving him a different one each day.

“Han Solo,” says Jim.

Leonard outright laughs and Jim does a mental cartwheel. “We don’t serve rebels here.”

“Imperial scum!” gasps Jim.

“Yeah, yeah,” says Leonard, rolling his eyes. “Get out of my face before the stormtroopers show up.”

“I always knew that you had a good heart, deep down. Buried under all the sarcasm and total disdain for my existence.”

“Don’t push it,” says Leonard warningly.

Jim grins. “I wouldn’t dream of it.”

 

oOo

“Name for the cup?”

“Jim.”

Leonard arches an eyebrow, looking up from the till to meet Jim’s eyes curiously. “Not really what I’ve come to expect. No points for effort, today.”

“What can I say?” says Jim, grinning at him as he hands over a ten dollar bill. “Sometimes you’ve just gotta be yourself.”

“Right,” says Leonard slowly. His gaze lingers on Jim and then he frowns as he scribbles on the cup and passes it over to the person working the espresso machine. “It’ll be up in a minute.”

When Jim picks up his drink, it doesn’t have his name written on it.

Just a phone number.

Jim beams.

Aw, yeah.