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28 Days of "I Love You"

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Lance couldn’t help but glance at the door for probably the millionth time that day, his nervous pacings increasing in the face of not a single customer not that prime hours were over.

“Keep walking like that and you’re gonna dig holes in the floor,” came an entertained voice from behind him and Lance looked back to see Hunk staring at him with a mix of both pity and amusement on his face.

“Look, I can’t help it!” he complained, slamming his fist against the counter. “It’s already past eight and he’s not here yet! He’s never been this late!”

“Wow, some people have better things to do than go to a small-time coffee shop at eight at night when it’s pouring rain outside, what a shock,” Pidge replied with a bored tone as she pressed a button on the espresso machine, waiting for the deep brown elixir to come spilling out into the mug she’d placed underneath it.

“Shut up! He always comes up at seven on Sundays, yet he’s over an hour late! What if something happened!” Hands flying to his hair, Lance quickly spun around again in agitation. “Oh God, what if he got mugged? What if he’s sick? What if he’s dying?!”

“Jesus Christ,” Pidge muttered at the same time Hunk rested a hand on Lance’s back, rubbing soothing circles into it. “Like I said, it’s fucking pouring. It’s practically a monsoon outside. You’re a complete dumbass if you think someone would come to get coffee when it’s like that. Now if you need me, I’m gonna be on my “break,” if you get my drift. Don’t waste my time with your pathetic love troubles and grow a pair, yeah?”

“Wha- you- I-... I hope you die from over-caffeination!” Lance shouted at her retreating back with a sharp glare. The brunette’s only response was a wave over her shoulder before rounding the corner and disappearing into the backroom for the employees, half the espresso in the mug already gone.

“She’s just tired,” Hunk said supportively. “You know she doesn’t mean that.”

“Yeah, well, I meant every word,” Lanced answered begrudgingly, shoving his hands into the pockets of his aprons as he stared at the door, still hoping he’d walk in despite it being less than ten minutes until closing.

It had been a little over four months since the Cuban had first seen the most beautiful person he’d ever seen before, who had walked in through the door of the coffee shop late one Sunday night in June with a confused expression on his face. Just one glance was all Lance had needed to fall head over heels for the handsome man.

That glossy raven-black hair that managed to look so soft in spite of the sharp expression that almost always crossed the man’s features, which, let Lance tell you, were absolutely flawless. A true Adonis among men, if you will. Perfect cheekbones, pale skin that practically glowed without a single imperfection save for a scar running down the right side of his face, which only added a rugged mysteriousness to the guy that Lance was positively digging the hell out of. And then those eyes, those gray-blue eyes that looked violet under the fluorescent lights of the store which seemed to hold some kind of secret story that Lance was just dying to learn.

And then he spoke and his slightly husky voice that had a certain rasp to it made Lance know that there was no one else for him right then and there, and now he was determined to prove it to the guy. The only problem was he only came every Sunday and only late at night. No big deal really, Lance just had to change his shifts a little, and soon enough, Sundays were his new favorite days.

Except the guy hadn’t shown today and it was the first time in four months that had happened and now Lance felt like he was gonna explode with worry- and hormones, but really, that had already happened so many times by now, he wasn’t that concerned.

No, he was much more focused on the absence of a certain Keith Kogane, not just from his life, but from the one time he got to see him a week.

Hunk, seeming to sense that there wasn’t really any getting through to Lance, just sighed and gave a shrug of his shoulders before clapping his friend on the back. “Buck up dude. There’s always next week. I’m gonna go check on the bathrooms before we close.”

With that, he headed away from the counter, leaving Lance to his all-too-harried thoughts that were quickly spiralling out of control. “Calm down,” he muttered to himself, slapping his cheeks lightly as he tried to focus on something, anything, else. “I’m sure he’s fine. Besides, who’d come in this rain? Pidge is right, I shouldn’t get my hopes up.”

He walked over to the door, taking a final glance out the long glass windows before sighing quietly and grabbing the “We’re Open!” sign hanging from the front door, switching it over to “Sorry, Closed For Now!” Once that was done, he grabbed the specials menu from its display by the front door and brought it back into the shop, erasing the chalkboard so it could be rewritten the next day. Setting it down behind the counter, he grabbed the key so he could lock the front door, heading back to the storefront to lock it.

He’d barely made it back to the counter when he heard what sounded like a fist pounding against the glass, jumping as he swung around, expecting some kind of creep or drunkard to be outside the store.

His heart felt like it was gonna jump out of his chest when he recognized who it was, practically tripping over his own feet a billion times as he sprinted to the door at lightning speed, key still in hand as he unlocked the door and threw it open with such eager ferocity that the person looked a little confused before hesitantly stepping inside.

“I-Is this okay?” Keith asked him nervously, running a hand through his wet hair (which made Lance swoon, how was one guy so goddamn hot, it had to be illegal or something). “Aren’t you guys closed?”

“Manager isn’t here, I decide when we’re closed,” Lance replied immediately, ushering the man inside without a second thought. He’d get in trouble with Allura later, but really, what did he care? The only thing on his mind right now was Keith.

“Right… well, um, thanks I guess?” The gratitude was more of a question than an affirmation, but Lance more than accepted it anyway. “I was running late today; didn’t think I’d make it.”

“From where?” Lance couldn’t help but ask as he went around the side of the counter to grab a clean towel, tossing it at Keith. As the man caught it, Lance couldn’t help but appreciate the way his tank top showed off those biceps and lean, rippling arm muscles that he didn’t get to enjoy as much now that it was getting colder.

“The gym,” Keith explained, running the towel through his hair. Lance secretly resolved to never wash that towel and take it home with him. No one needed to know. “I go every Sunday after work. I’m a motorcycle mechanic.”

“That’s so hot- I-I mean, it must be hot, working out during summer and everything.” That was too close, Lance thought to himself, flushing red as he spun around and acted like he was busy cleaning one of the coffee machines.

“It’s a routine,” Keith answered. “You don’t notice the heat as much once you’re used to it. Besides, I get to come here after working out, so it’s perfect. I can’t come any other time you’re- um, any other time the store is open.”

Did he just-? No, no way. I must’ve been hearing things, Lance thought as he snuck a glance behind him. However, Keith seemed to be slightly redder than normal. Blue eyes widening, Lance quickly switched his gaze back to the espresso machine.

“...You don’t have any other free time for coffee than Sunday nights?” he asked slowly, careful to keep his tone calm without too much eagerness.

“No, um, I-I… it just doesn’t work out, okay? I’ve come on Tuesday and Thursday but…” Keith’s voice trailed off, sounding evasive and Lance was about to say something when he quickly added “Can I just have my coffee?”

Something tightened in Lance’s chest at his words, giving a quick nod and otherwise no response. As he moved to the cold brew press, preparing the one drink that he’d spent far too many hours perfecting in his free time, he mulled over everything Keith had just given away- which honestly wasn’t all that much, but surely it was enough for Lance to go off of.

Tuesday and Thursday? he thought, working deliberately slowly on prepping the drink. Those are two of the days I’m off, so I wouldn’t be here… And he definitely did say “you’re” earlier, there’s no way I’m hearing things.

As the machine dinged, signalling the drink was done, Lance grabbed the to-go cup with renewed determination and walked back over to Keith, holding out the drink. When the man reached out to take it, however, he quickly yanked it out of reach.

Keith’s brow furrowed in confusion. “Are you… going to give it to me?”

“Depends,” Lance replied, raising an eyebrow as a sly grin crossed his face. “How ‘bout you give me something first?”

“...My money?” Keith questioned, looking utterly lost as to where this was going.

Fortunately Lance was completely ready, hoping he was being as smooth as he thought it sounded in his mind.

“Nope, this one can be on the house. If,” he added, before Keith was able to say anything in response. “You give me your number?”

The man’s mouth fell open and, for a split second, Lance was scared he was going to reject him. Then Keith turned red, the expression on his face one of utter pleased embarrassment and his gaze flitted back up to meet Lance’s.

“That depends,” he said slowly, mimicking Lance’s earlier response with subdued amusement and pink cheeks. “Will you give me your name?”