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“Two words, Gabe: Shut. Up. Your tears won’t magically get that girl to go out with you.”

“B-b-but! She’s so perfect!! Why did she have to dump me before we even had a chance?!”

“Well, I know I don’t blame her…”

“Hey kid, wanna try some magic?”

“No way! What kind of gullible idiot—“

“Does this skirt make my ass look big?”

“DAMN IT, GABE!”

Booker's eyes snapped open and he launched upright. His brain gave him only a second to register his subsequent lack of balance before he slammed face-first onto the apartment floor.

“Whoa! Are you okay?” Gabe stared down from where he was still seated safely on the couch.

Booker got up, a hand to his head. “Ugh… I’m fine. I think.”

“Oh. That’s good, I guess.” His roommate frowned. “But why’d you yell at me? What did I do?”

“Want a list?” Booker slumped back onto the couch. He noted with relief that there was no talking golf ball in sight and that Gabe’s wrists were devoid of gaudy gold bangles. On the TV, the end credits were rolling for the ridiculous drama series that had put him to sleep in the first place.

“Hey!”

“Keep your skirt on. I just had a weird dream.”

“And I was in it?”

Booker grimaced as he felt the sudden urge for a strong dose of caffeine. He turned the TV off before going to grab his jacket. “Actually, it was more like a nightmare.”

“Yeah, well, that’s what you get for napping during the season finale. Just when they finally revealed who the long-lost twin brother was, too…”

He could practically hear the gears in Gabe's head clunking belatedly into place as he left the apartment. “Wait, did you say skirt?”

***

As Booker pushed open the door to his favorite coffee shop, he felt an inordinate wave of relief surge through him when he saw his favorite barista behind the counter.

“Welcome--Oh, Booker!” The barista’s face brightened, rivaling an angel’s heavenly glow. Some people thought gods wore togas, but now Booker knew for a fact that gods wore company-regulated aprons.

He felt his own face heat up. “Y-yes, it’s Bookler… Wait, you remember my name?”

“Of course I do. You want the usual, right?” He winked.

Booker felt his knees go weak. Those cute eyes… That cute smile… That cute ponytail… “Yeah. I want it…”

“Right away!"

Moments later, Booker’s favorite barista broke through his idle rumination weighing the pros of a beachfront ceremony as opposed to one in a forest clearing. “Here’s your order. Please, come again soon!”

“You too. I-I mean, thanks!” Booker almost knocked over the steaming Styrofoam cup as his brain jumped into overdrive planning a midnight escape overseas.

He barely saw the barista smile fondly as he rushed out the door in a haze of self-loathing. It wasn’t until he found himself in the nearby park that he stopped to take a sip from the cup and saw what was written on the cardboard sleeve.

“Careful! This coffee is hot. But you’re hotter! Call me. ❤ "

Below that, there was a number. A real phone number. Booker traced a trembling finger over it.

Then he immediately threw out his prior escape plans, resisting the urge to break into uncharacteristic dance.

***

“You have a date?”

“Yes, Gabe, I have a date.”

You have a date?

For once, even Gabe following him around the apartment whimpering in disbelief couldn’t dull Booker’s mood. He carefully drew a wet comb over his hair and turned slightly to check the results in the bathroom mirror.

“You. Booker? A date. AND I CAN’T EVEN SCORE WITH THE GIRL I’VE LIKED SINCE FOREVER.”

Booker pocketed his keys. “Have fun with your self-pity party. Oh, and don’t wait up.”

He closed the door gently behind him as Gabe dissolved into incomprehensible howling.

Adorably Hunky and Suddenly Attainable Barista was waiting outside. He perked up as Booker approached. “Hey!”

God, being so perfect should be illegal.

“Hey, yourself.” Booker smiled breezily back.

He suddenly wondered why he had ever fallen into stuttering the many previous times he’d spoken to Extremely Attractive Barista Who He Was Going On A Date With. Sure, the man was tall, hot, sweet, and the only barista at the coffee shop who always remembered Booker’s usual order. But that didn’t mean he was automatically out of Booker’s league.

In fact, if he didn’t know better, he’d think that Cute Barista Who’d Asked Him Out First was the shy one this evening.

“Shall we be off?” Booker started leading the way down the street at a relaxed gait, and his date fell into step beside him.

Everything that night was perfect. It was just as Booker had imagined countless times, staring up at his bedroom ceiling as Chopin’s Prelude, Op. 28, No. 15 serenaded him on repeat through his headphones. His awkward stammering and uncontrollable blushing were all in the past. Hot Barista Who Was Definitely Enjoying Their Date leaned towards him and laughed at all his jokes. During their stroll around the park as the sun dipped low in the sky, painting the city skyline gold, their fingers chanced to touch more than once.

Finally, Booker took Irresistibly Close And Amazing-Smelling Barista’s large, strong hand in his.

“I had a great time, but it’s getting late,” he murmured, the corner of his lips quirking upward as he gazed into his date’s eyes.

He saw that deliciously defined Adam’s apple bob up and down above a sculpted collarbone.

“Y-yeah…really late,” came the slightly breathy reply. “Y-your apartment’s kind of far from here, right? Well, uh, my place is nearby…and—“

“The streets can get dangerous at night. We don’t want to take any chances.” Booker reached up and traced spirals over Barista Who Very Apparently Worked Out And Ate A Healthy Balanced Diet’s chest, directly above his heart.

A hitch of breath. “…We really don’t.”

“And it’s always better to be safe than sorry, isn’t it?” Booker chuckled warmly. “Cute and smart. I knew I was drawn to you for a reason.”

Hand in hand, they started walking, their steps light and yet heavy with an unspoken promise…

“Booker,” Cute Barista breathed.

“Yeah,” Booker whispered back.

“…Booker.” Cute Barista smiled tenderly at him. “Oh, Booker…”

“Booker! Hey! Booker! Wake up, lazybones!”

“WHAT?!” Booker shot up with a yell, and once more found his face personally greeting the floor.

“Finally.” Gabe pouted down at him from where he was perched on the couch. “Movie’s over. Not like you noticed.”

“What... But…” Booker groggily picked himself up. “My date…”

“Must’ve been some dream you were having,” Hal said, slouching comfortably next to Gabe in his human form with a bowl of popcorn on his lap. Booker stared as horrible realization dawned on him.

“Yeah,” Gabe grumbled. “You even slept through the fight with the fake fiancé’s family. Which, by the way, was the best part.

“You had this huge grin on your face the whole time, though,” Hal said. “What was it about?”

He held out the popcorn. Booker just slumped back on the couch and buried his face in his hands.

“…It doesn’t matter,” he mumbled. “I knew it was too good to be true.”

Gabe and Hal exchanged a confused look.

Then the fairy shrugged and shoved some popcorn into his mouth.