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75% Sugar, No Ice

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One of the advantages of working at Seokjin’s coffee shop, besides the free coffee, was probably his leniency for letting his baristas study during the slow hours. Taehyung mentally thanks his boss as he flips another hair-thin page of his organic chemistry textbook. He supposed he had their clientele to thank as well, mostly university students whose main priorities were either receiving pretty latte art or getting jacked on as much caffeine as possible and couldn’t possibly care less about whether their baristas were cramming in the downtime at the counter.

 

“Is Jimin here?” a tentative voice cuts through his thoughts.

 

Taehyung looks up from his notes to the sight of a Cute Guy wedged halfway through the doorframe, concern cluttering his features. Taehyung’s heart skips a beat as Cute Guy runs a hand through his hair, revealing a pair of inquisitive eyes as he cautiously enters the shop, door snapping shut behind him. The bell Seokjin had proudly bought at a thrift store and meticulously tied around the door handle jangles from the impact as the guy shuffles towards the counter.

 

Taehyung shakes his head, “He’s out right now.”

 

“Really?” Cute Guy’s eyebrows disappear into his bangs into disbelief and he stops in his tracks. He fidgets with the hem of his white shirt. There’s a silver name tag on his shirt, his breast pocket obscuring his name, but Taehyung can still just barely make out faded lettering printed at the top (Brew-tea-ful, and Taehyung snorts).

 

“Yeah,” Taehyung scratches his nose. “Do you need anything from him? I can let him know when he comes back.”

 

“I’m just uh,” Cute Guy looks down at the boba cup nestled in his hand. “Delivering this for him.”

 

Oh, Taehyung thinks. That’s an interesting concept, a boba delivery service.

 

“You can put it over there,” Taehyung jabs his pencil at the corner of the counter. “I’ll let him know that you dropped it off when he gets back."

 

“Oh okay,” Cute Guy ambles over and slides the drink into place. He then proceeds to stand there, awkwardly clutching the edge of his shirt. He looks like he’s about to say something before thinking better of it and closing his mouth, and continuing to stand there, awkwardly. Eventually, Cute Guy takes out his phone, types something very quickly as his eyes flit towards Taehyung. The silence grows and weighs heavy over the atmosphere. And even though Taehyung's eyes are completely trained on the neatly scribed notes on the process of the preparation of polyvinyl alcohol, he can just feel Cute Guy's eyes boring into him and, well, that makes it a little hard to concentrate.

 

“Um,” Taehyung can’t take another second of this. “Do you need anything else? Like for me to sign off on the delivery or something?”

 

“No, w-well I was wondering if--” the Cute Guy starts, lifting a hand to rub the back of his neck.

 

“Oh, shoot, a tip!” Embarrassment hits him like a hammer and Taehyung begins hurriedly patting down every pocket on his body (there are four), finding nothing, before pulling his wallet out of his bag. He rifles through it, cursing at the fact that he only carries a card and a stack of crumpled receipts these days, and begins opening a series of drawers and taking out the two most valuable things he can find. At the end of it all, he sheepishly outstretches his hand, “The best I can do is a penny and a bent paper clip.”

 

“Wait what? I mean, it’s fine--” but the confused look on Cute Guy’s face says it all, and Taehyung cuts him off before he can get embarrassed again.

 

“No, I get it as a fellow service-industry worker, it’s not okay.” Taehyung grabs his phone. “Do you have venmo?”

 

“Well yes, but--”

 

“What’s your name?”

 

“Huh?”

 

“So I can find you on venmo,” Taehyung flips his phone around and jabs a finger at the screen. “Or your username, or whatever.”

 

“Oh, um, Jungkook, but don’t--”

 

“Oh, wait, right, this won’t work because you and your coworkers pool tips,” Taehyung hits his forehead with a hand. “Tell you what, I can have Jimin swing by when he gets back and drop off some change when he gets back? Does that work?”

 

“No I’m not a--”

 

“It’ll be like in 10 minutes,” Taehyung pleads, putting his hands together in apology.

 

“Uh,” Jungkook suddenly looks defeated and sighs. “Fine, yeah, sure.”

 

“Cool,” Taehyung flashes a thumbs up. Persistence wins again in the end, “Thanks, Jungkook.”

 

“Yeah,” Jungkook shuffles to the door. He stops at the door, one hand on the handle before he twists around. “What’s yours?”

 

"My what?"

 

"Name."

 

“Taehyung.”

 

“Nice to meet you,” Jungkook nods, earrings swinging as he bobs his head.

 

“Same.”

 

At that, Jungkook makes a quick exit, the bell tinkling merrily as the door swings shut.  

 

Taehyung’s a bit sorry to see him go.

 

 

 

 

As advertised, Jimin returns ten minutes later, lugging a giant box of almond milk cartons over to an empty counter.

 

“Your boba came,” Taehyung nods over at the counter. “Can I take a sip?”

 

“Go for it,” Jimin grunts as he heaves the carton onto surface. “Anything interesting happen?”

 

Taehyung stabs the straw through the plastic surface of the cup with a little more gusto than necessary, the popping sound startling more than a few customers on the floor, “Well some guy came to deliver your drink.”

 

“And?”

 

“Who knew they did delivery?”

 

“What?” Jimin looks up, a hint of confusion is written across his face.

 

“Yeah,” Taehyung takes more than a large sip, draining effectively a fourth of the cup. “I was so caught off guard that I couldn’t find the change to tip him, poor guy.”

 

“Tip?” Jimin now looks completely confused.

 

“Yeah, I told him you’d stop to drop it off later.”

 

“Um,” Jimin’s expression clearly tells Taehyung something went completely wrong. “Did you at least get the guy’s name before he left?”

 

“Yeah,” Taehyung takes another slurp. “Jungkook, why?”

 

“No reason,” Jimin slips his phone out of his pocket and begins typing something. After a moment he sighs and slips a few coins out of his pocket and dumps them on the counter next to Taehyung. “Could you drop the off the tip for me?”

 

“I mean I can, but it’s your drink.” Taehyung chews through the pearls. “I think you should drop it off yourself.”

 

Jimin points at the now half-empty cup, “I think you’ve already made it yours.”

 

“Oops,” Taehyung glares at the offending beverage. “Sorry. I’ll pay you back later.”

 

“Don’t worry about it, think about it as an investment into your future.”

 

“My future? It’s just boba.”

 

Jimin shakes his head. “Just go soon, Jungkook’s shift’s ending in twenty minutes.”

 

“Okay, okay,” Taehyung scoops up the change, takes off his apron and heads towards the door. He pauses for a moment, “Wait how do you know when his shift ends?”

 

“Don’t worry about it.”

 

 

 

 

 

The guy at the register looks unimpressed with the world at large, and even less so with Taehyung as he sidles up to the front counter.

 

“How can I help you?” The guy regards Taehyung with half-lidded eyes, looking like the last place he wanted to be was here, behind the counter, helping Taehyung.

 

“I’m here to drop off the tip for the delivery we got earlier. For Jimin,” Taehyung’s hand, clutching the change, hovers over a mason jar with a faded label that reads “ Feed me! ” that he presumes is the tip jar.

 

“We don’t do deliveries,” the guy states plainly, watching Taehyung’s fist waver, drumming his fingers against the brushed steel counter impatiently.

 

“Wait really?” and for a second Taehyung thinks that maybe he has the wrong store, looking down at a menu on the counter to search for a name.

 

“Yeah, we don’t--oof,” and suddenly the cashier is stumbling into the cabinets and Jungkook’s standing in front of him, hand poised over the register like he had meant to be there in the first place.

 

“Sorry Namjoon!” Jungkook apologizes before turning to Taehyung and flashing a cute smile. He scratches the back of his head,  “It was a recent policy change. We totally do deliveries now. But anyways, hey, how can I help you?”

 

“Um,” Taehyung eyes Namjoon crouching on the ground, a hand over his back, clearly in agony. “Is he going to be okay?”

 

“Yeah,” Namjoon gets up with a groan and begins walking to the kitchen with a slight limp. “Just peachy, I’m going to hang out in the back for a while and help Yoongi, let me know when you’re done, Jungkook.”

 

“Will do.”

 

“So I brought you your tip,” Taehyung proudly outstretches his hand, a pile of coins shining in the center of his palm.

 

“Oh, thanks,” Jungkook takes the change and dumps it into the mason jar. “Is that it?”

 

“Yeah, I think so,” Taehyung leans against the counter. He doesn’t want to leave just quite yet and so he launches the first small-talk question that comes to mind, “So how’s business?”

 

Shit, that was a boring question, and Taehyung kicks himself for asking it.

 

“Uh, it’s alright,” Jungkook shrugs. “Normal, for 3 pm on a Tuesday.”

 

“Nice.” Taehyung digs deep for an interesting question. “So what do you usually do around here?”

 

Well he tried.

 

“I make drinks and clean things,” Jungkook says simply. “What about you?”

 

“Same. Speaking of cleaning, I should probably get back to help close,” Taehyung checks his watch. Honestly, it was just time to cut his losses.

 

“Oh yeah, probably, and um, I know this is kind of sudden, but” Jungkook pauses for a moment before continuing. He suddenly looks pretty nervous, “My shift ends in 8 minutes. Do you wanna get a drink or something--”

 

There was probably a different way to interpret that statement, but given Taehyung’s context, where he was standing in a shop that sells drinks, the guy asking him was a cashier who looked just out of his league, and he was one convenient boba in debt to Jimin, he understands it as a helpful reminder.

 

“Oh, wait shit, yeah,” Taehyung slips his credit card out of his wallet. “Can I get one large taro milk tea, 75% sugar and no ice?”

 

 

 

“You’re an idiot,” Jimin looks up from his phone as Taehyung gently places the drink next to him.

 

“That’s a weird way to say ‘Thanks Taehyung, you’re the best,’” Taehyung scoffs, throwing the straw at Jimin. It bounces off his arm and onto the floor, “And you're welcome, by the way.”

 

“Thanks, but no, you’re still an idiot,” Jimin groans as he bends down to pick up the straw. “And Jungkook is too, I don’t get why I’m trying so hard. Wingmanning is hard.”

 

“Wingmanning?” Wait, a heartbeat passes, no way. Taehyung feels a blush starting to bloom across his face. “Wait what?”

 

“Here,” Jimin hands his phone to Taehyung, “It’s a lot easier if you just read this.”

 

Taehyung glances down at what looks like a message thread, and begins to read.

 

 

 

 

Jungkook

Active now


 

11:01AM

 

You comin to dance practice tonite

No, got a midterm

 Ok, i’ll tell hoseok

 K ty

  

1:05PM

 

Hey so whats ur coworker’s name again?

Who, Taehyung?

Um, I mean, iono, I’m asking you for his name.

The guy in your snap story.

 

Guy in the grey shirt?

Sounds right.

Taehyung

Why?

He’s hot, ngl.

Is he single?

 

Yea I think so

Is this going where I think it’s going

Can you introduce me? 

 

No, i’m good thx

 Why?

I haven’t known him long enough

to start setting him up with my friends

 Oh

He’s working with me rn tho

feel free to come whenever

I’ll pretend to not know you

It’ll be very organic

 That sounds awkward as fuck

It works since

Youre awkward as fuck

Ouch ):

Pls help?

I can bribe you

...

 :)

Maybe

It depends on what you have to offer

I’ll give you free boba

I’m listening

I’ll give you a large** boba

In fact I'll deliver it to you

Okay

Deal

 !!!!

Bring it by in like fifteen minutes

I can introduce yo uthen

You then**

 You’re the best

I try

 

 

1:20PM

 

Where you at??

Sorry, I’m out in the back

Almond milk dropoff happening.

You got this tho

Have fun!!

Wait NO

I’M NOT READYTO TALKT O HIM

WITHOUT AN INTRO

jiMIN

What do I SAY??

He’s a nice guy, don’t worry about it

Just wing it!

He loves that kind of stuff

Probably

At least hopefully

For your sake

You’re not helping

 

 

1:29PM

 

Please come back.

This is so fucking awkward.

I’m just standing here.

Help me

pls

Sorry :/

I actually can’t

gotta sign off on this milk

It’s a valuable transaction

  

1:40PM

 

Oh my god

I think he thinks I’m a fucking delivery boy.

I’m leaving

I can’t do this

 

 1:50PM

 

LOOOOOOL RIP

I HEARD

HHAHA

),:

Let’s just roll with it

He still wants to tip you apparently

Wait no

Don’t let him

Srsly

It was a free drink 

I know

Itsk, i’ll give him some spare change

But I’ll send him over to you

This is going to go badly again 

Second time's a charm

Good luck!

I'm pretty sure it's third time is the charm

and thanks I’ll need it

 

 

2:51PM

 

I tried so hard

And got so far

And in the end

Are you quoting linkin park

It doesn’t even matter 

What happened

His deflection abilities are

Unreal

Maybe this is a sign

What happened??

 I asked him out for a drink

And he ordered you some boba

 

R

I

P

P

E

R

O

N

I

 

And then later i asked for his number

He gave me his receipt

Because it had the order number

HE WOULD LOL

Like I feel like at this point he’s just

Intentionally rejecting me 

Nah I can guarantee he’s not

He just doesn’t pick up on these things quickly

Sure

Cryin in the club rn

Morale low

I'm done

 

No wait don’t give up

I’m actually starting to think

You guys would be rly cute together

I give up 

Don’t give up

 

 

2:58PM

 

Jungkook??

 

3:03PM

 

Don’t let your dreams be dreams

  

3:05PM

 

Here I got you

I'll clear everything up

Goign to show this msg thread

To Taehyung

WHAT

NO  

It’ll work out

No wait don’t

srsly

And if it doesn’t

JIMIN

Hope you understand

IM NOT KIDDING

DON’T 

I’m doing this in the name of love

No

Hyung

NO

WHAT THE FUCK

STOP

 

3:07PM

 

Taehyung, if you’re reading this

It’s all lies, all of it

 


 

 

 

 

And in that moment, the Jungkook bursts through the door and rushes to the counter.

 

He and Taehyung stare at each other for a moment, until Jungkook glances down and spots Jimin’s phone in Taehyung’s hand. He lets out a strangled cry and sinks behind the ledge, crouching just out of view.

 

“So yeah,” Jimin takes his phone back and wipes it on his shirt. “That’s what I’ve been dealing with for the better part of the day.”

 

“I see,” Taehyung can feel the butterflies starting to flutter in his chest.

 

“And while we’re here,” Jimin begins pointing. “Jungkook this is Taehyung. Taehyung, this is Jungkook.”

 

“Kind of late, but nice to meet you. Again,” Jungkook raises a hand while keeping his head down and Taehyung awkwardly shakes it. “This is so embarrassing.”

 

“Yeah same,” oh man Taehyung’s cheeks feel ridiculously hot. “No, um, I thought it was all really cute, honestly.”

 

“Wait for real?” Jungkook’s eyes peer over the counter.

 

“Yeah, my bad for not getting the message, like three times.”

 

“It’s fine, understandable given the circumstances.”

 

“Was it really?” Jimin interjects.

 

Shut up Jimin,” Jungkook coughs.

 

They’re quiet for a moment, relative silence settling over the shop. There’s a nagging question at the back of Taehyung’s head, and the desire for to ask it grows over the minute until he can’t stand it anymore.

 

“Um, so about that offer for a drink--” Taehyung blurts.

 

“So uh, if you’re free later today--” Jungkook begins at the same moment.

 

They both stop talking mid-sentence and Jimin snickers somewhere in the background. And Taehyung looks down, a grin spreading across his face.

 

“Yeah, I’d be down for a date,” Taehyung tells his shoes. “I’m free in an hour.”

 

“Oh, cool,” Jungkook finally stands up again, adjusting the collar of his shirt, his face dusted with significantly more red than earlier. “I can pick you up from here. We can get dinner or, you know, something.”

 

“Yeah, that’d be great actually.”

 

“Sounds good,” Jungkook takes out his phone. “Also what’s your number? Like your phone number.”

 

And Taehyung gives him the right one this time.