Nico isn’t a morning person.
She looks at the cup in her hands, hot but tolerable to touch, and sees the four letters scrawled on the surface, disdain written all over her features.
Niko. Niko. Nico with a K. Seriously?
She’s starting to believe the tweet she saw the day before yesterday, how the baristas always misspell names on the cups so the customers will come back in the hopes of another caffeine comfort and their names finally spelled correctly. Honestly, Nico thinks it was cute and all and a good marketing strategy, but right now, it’s annoying. And irritating. Nico’s name has gotta be up there on the easiest to spell names list, n-i-c-o, yet she gets three letters right and one letter wrong. Nico’s not the one to whine about small and irrelevant things— she’ll let it go the moment she picks it up. But a traffic-filled morning and a rushing client and a misspelled name on her coffee cup? Nico isn’t having any of it, not really.
Nico manages a small glare on the barista’s face, she notes how she almost should have made it bigger and meaner looking if the girl wasn’t so damn cute, her eyes flying to the cash register like she was avoiding the look on Nico’s face. Almost. But the girl looks sincerely apologetic and she seems like it’s her first day (it’s also the first time Nico sees a blonde barista in this coffee shop branch) so Nico lets it passes and tries to let it go. A small thing it is, and Nico’ll probably forget about it the moment she steps out of the coffee shop and into her busy life.
She sighs, a monotonous job was surely ahead of her— stacks of papers and ballpens that are almost out of ink and printers and whatnot. Nico was partly grateful that a misspelled name broke the usual boring morning routine she has.
“You have gotta be kidding me,” Nico mutters quietly under her breath, her other hand gripping her bag so tightly her knuckles look like it’s turning white any minute now. Nico struggles to maintain the very little energy she brought to the coffee shop today, having worked until three am to finish a damn paperwork her own boss couldn’t. She sees the perfect handwriting— she takes note of the spacing and the linings of the words— but she prepares to commit a crime the instance she sees the five letters.
Nikoh. The same name from yesterday, except an extra letter H was added neatly. It almost makes her grin a little, seeing the same barista’s same apologetic smile, but she notices the look of worry on the girl’s eyes.
“Please don’t call the manager,” the barista silently blurts out and clasps her shaking hands together. “I swear, I’m trying. I know it isn’t the hardest name to spell and I-“
“—can’t spell,” Nico finishes and crumples her receipt and exits the premises without another word.
She drinks the coffee nonetheless, drowning out her irritation and annoyance while catching a cab to work today. Nico was honestly in the mood to walk, but sleeping a little past three and waking up at exactly six, with yet another misspelled name and probably a lot more to go, she needs a break.
The blonde barista settles it on the counter, a hopeful smile graced on her features. Nico looks from the cup to the girl (Karolina, her nameplate reads, and it’s about damn time she knows the name of the person who’s been butchering her name for the past week now) and vice versa and sighs. Karolina does too, disappointment replaced her small grin and she looks at Nico like a kindergarten who broke her yellow crayon while she was coloring a cut-out of the sun.
“I’m so sorry,” she starts but Nico cuts her off, like she always does. But this time, there was no rude remark or a sarcastic good job, just an amused playful tone laced with her words.
“Nice work, Karolina,” Nico says and gets the cup with one hand. She watched the midnight black-haired girl exit and she mentally slaps her self. Karolina winces at the way Nico pronounced it, Karo-ly-na, Karo-damn-ly-na. Like the Harry Styles song her friend was blasting on the car just days ago. She was blushing so hard that the next customer had to snap her back to reality with an annoyed face and an impatient voice.
Nice work, Karolina, she thinks. Nice job indeed.
“So, Karolina, the same usual order,” Nico says, full-attention on the blonde that makes Karolina feel so awkward and pressured. “Thanks, Karolina,” she thinks for the fifth time this week that Nico’s doing it on purpose (she truly is, what else is the reason she goes here other than to get coffee and mispronounce Karolina’s name every morning?) and this time, it’s kind of adorable. The way her lips move and say Ka-re-lina, and Karolina secretly scolds herself that she shouldn’t be amused whenever Nico says Today’s Version of Karolina’s Mispronounced Name with a small smile on her face. She hopes it’s genuine, because honestly, Nico’s starting to be a little more than her customer— maybe an acquaintance, or a tiny bit crush.
The hot coffee spills on her hand when she gets surprised by her own thoughts and Karolina gasps loud to the point where Nico notices it and displays a look of concern on her usually impatient face. “Karolina? You okay?”
There is it. Nico’s pronounced it right.
“Yeah, yeah, I am,” she wipes with tissues on the part where Nico’s order burnt her hand. “I just— sorry, it’s a little bit of not the full amount anymore.”
Nico just laughs, and God, Karolina’s never been this excited to write her name on the cup with a blank ink and all too hopeful face with the black-haired girl waiting on the other side of the counter.
Nico, Karolina writes. N-i-c-o.
She places it on the counter and waits for Nico’s reaction, Karolina’s ready to flinch or wince and apologize. Karolina was so ready to see the look of anger on Nico’s face, for her to call the manager after the many days of Karolina’s mistake, for Nico to storm out and leave with the half-filled coffee cup, for Nico to flip her off and tell her to screw off.
Nico, however, did none of the above.
She leans forward and plants a small kiss on Karolina’s cheek, and when she pulls away to get ready to leave and take her cup, Karolina wishes she’ll— they’ll stay like this forever.
Nico eventually retrieves her cup (to the customers’ behind her’s relief, because damn, she kissed Karolina for what seemed like an eternity) and turns around to leave. “Nico, wait!”
“Hmm?” She hums, looking at Karolina’s ocean eyes and sipping her coffee absentmindedly while she waits for the girl to say whatever it is she wants to say.
“Coffee on me? Later afternoon? Maybe I can give back what I’ve spilled.”
Nico smiles and nods, and for a moment, she thinks, maybe mornings aren’t so bad after all.