A ginger male let out a breath, wiping away the sweat before it had a chance to show. It had been a busy night with all the cold wind and stormy clouds. People had wanted to come in, but didn’t want to look suspicious in any way he guessed, so they had all ordered something. Even the children for Christ’s sake! They’d have a storm inside before the one outside was over.
But business is business. The steam rolled out of the brewing pot, filling the kitchen with hot air that only escaped through a small window in the wall, leaking into the dining area. Man, was he dying in here.
He’d have to kill Hellucard later. The asshole had left before the thunder had even started. He knew that he had left just in time. Now Matt just stood on sore feet, crossing his arms as he waited for the coffee to finish. He was the only one running the joint- besides Jon of course. But he tended to stay away from other people, shy and honestly put down.
Jon had tried to hit on the ladies, but they thought it was ‘gross’ since they thought he was a teenager. He had even tried guys out of desperation and gotten a similar reaction, other than the ‘I’m straight’ kind of junk. So he always stayed in a quiet corner, acting more of a janitor instead of the barista he had been hired to be.
Matt sighed, wiping his face again. He was honestly surprised that his makeup hadn’t started running. It was quite odd in a situation like this.
As soon as the pot was done, he filled it in a mug and placed it on a plate. Then he filled it with all the other extra stuff that the person had ordered. He placed it on a tray full of mugs and picked it up in this odd gracefulness that he had picked up over time in the food industry before transitioning over to just make coffee. Then he hurried out cautiously, taking sure steps and pushing the door open with his back, maneuvering the try around in a careful sort of fashion.
Matt was met with cheers as he showed up with the coffee, while he mentally celebrated the cooling air on his skin. It was such a relief to be out of there for a seco-
His heart dropped at that sound for a moment, not wanting to go back into the kitchen. But business is business. He walked over to the front desk and turned to the new customer with an overly cheerful smile, eyes squinted shut. “Hello! Welcome to Hot Shots Coffee Shop,” he greeted. He opened his eyes after a second. “How may I help… you…?” His voice died as he took in the other.
It was a slightly shorter male with chestnut brown hair and mid brown skin. His hair was slicked back by the rain and had a shaved checker pattern on the either side of his head. He wore a baggy blue hoodie that had quite a few patches in it- as well as places where it could use a couple more- along with ripped jeans and checkered sneakers. In other words, he was kind of hot to the ginger. But what got Matt so shocked was the fact that the guy wore shades, shades that completely covered his eyes. Almost like goggles, but we’re just goggles. But- anyway- sunglasses at ten’o’clock in the evening?
As soon as Matt went quiet, the guy pursed his lips and clasped his hands together gently, turning his head nervously. Intriguing. A bad boy with emotions.
Matt cleared his throat after a moment. “Pardon me. How may I help you?” he asked once more, clearer and not getting distracted this time… except for how he constantly checked the dude out ‘discreetly.’
“Oh- uh…” The other man was quiet for a moment as he looked at the board. He looked a little confused by the menu for whatever reason and then he shook his head a little. “Nothing please. I just needed a place to sit.”
The answer startled Matt a bit. “Really, nothing?” He asked, eyebrows raised dramatically. This caused the other man to become more nervous and swallow.
“I-I’m sorry, maybe I should just go to the tea place across the street.” He almost turned the knob before the ginger took him by the wrist and dragged him over to a corner table, the walls almost completely glass. He pulled a chair out for the male and plopped him on it. “Um… thank you?”
“You’re welcome!” Matt had no idea how startled and embarrassed the other was, everyone staring at him made his cheeks red. “I wouldn’t want to go to the tea place. Some of the people there can be awful nasty…” He clicked his tongue on the roof of his mouth in distaste. “My name’s Matt, by the way. I’m everyone’s server tonight. If you need anything, just call me!”
“Okay… thanks, Matt.”
For a moment, the ginger stared into his sunglasses, trying to see his eyes. But the lens was pretty thick he guessed, because he couldn’t see a thing through them. He huffed a little more, leaning against the wall. The other male looked slightly uncomfortable, swallowing nervously once again. So Matt decided to try and make small talk, maybe get to know a customer more. “So… I told you my name. What’s yours?”
The man with the shades looked at Matt for a second before sighing. “Y’know what? I think I would like coffee. Just black, please.” He looked away from the barista, staring out at the rain through the wet window. The ginger let a discouraged sigh slip. So much for being friendly.
He slipped away to the kitchen, dragging his feet across the floor lazily. It wasn’t long before he was back out with the coffee in his delicate hands. Then a short scream was heard, making him jump and drop the ceramic cup. He felt himself snap a bit and he was grumbling to himself.
Matt went over to the dining area, hands on his hips after a moment. “What was that all about?” he questioned in a frustrated tone. The air in the room seemed tense, the room divided with the stranger in the corner backed up against a wall and everyone else as far as they possibly could from the man. He was shaking as he hid his face from everyone, most importantly his eyes. His shades from before were now on the floor by a knocked over table. “What happe-“
“He has no eyes!” a random kid shouted, coming over his momentary shock. Matt was very confused. That didn’t make any sense. Everyone had eyes, and most people couldn’t live without them.
“So how does he see? He is clearly not blind,” Matt asked with a bewildered chuckle and look in his eye. “Everyone has eyes-“
“He doesn’t!” a woman argued, holding her child close in a protective hold. Matt just sighed and shook his head in frustration. “That man has no eyes!”
“He’s a freak!”
“He isn’t normal! He doesn’t belong here!”
The crowd kept spitting insults at the poor guy, causing him to shake more, Matt unable to defend him and growing angrier and angrier. Suddenly the man ran out of the building, bumping and tripping over things before he was gone, leaving Matt to deal with this on his own. Jon was in the back, looking very worried about all of the commotion, yet unable to do anything with his quiet, meek voice.
“Enough!” Everyone went silent at the normally fun-loving, cheerful barista to a dark, angry barista’s outburst. “He didn’t do anything to you! All you’re doing is treating a poor man like trash! Would you like it if I did that kind of thing to you?”
A man pursed his lips before saying, “Well, no, but-“
“But he isn’t like us.” Matt’s eye twitched from the statement, the tips of his ears burning with rage.
“Oh my god!” he exclaimed with an insane little laugh.
“Nobody is the same! All you people do is label and ruin people’s lives by tearing all their insecurities out and holding it in front of them like a bleeding heart. Why can’t you just accept that someone looks or is different?!” He growled under his breath. “Here’s a label for all of you: I’m gay. Now get out of my coffee shop this instant!”
It wasn’t long before everyone was out and back into the rain. Some of the children looked at him with wonder or fear, while the adults mostly just glared at him. Jon went over and put a hand to Matt’s back, rubbing it soothingly.
“Geez… you should probably go after him,” he mumbled quietly. Matt looked out the window before sighing and shaking his head. He remembered that the other hadn’t really wanted to talk to him to begin with.
“That… guy. He just needs some time to himself. If I see him again, then I’ll see him again. If not… oh well.” He closed the door to the shop and turned the sign over, cleaning up. After only a moment, something caught Matt’s attention.
It had been almost a week since that rainy day, a day off for Matt. He sighed as he tried to relax, his hands in his zip up lavender hoodie pockets. It was thick and had a bit of fluff on the inside of it, a winter jacket really. It wasn’t winter, but it was cold enough for a jacket.
Matt had been stuck thinking about that man from the rainy day; why he had covered his eyes and ran, why he had been wearing sunglasses during the evening, why he had even come in to the building. He had been thinking all week about this and none of it really made sense… well, except for the last thought. It was raining. A lot of people had been there. But the other two thoughts were driving him crazy. He wanted- almost needed- answers.
The ginger hummed to himself before a cold breeze went through, causing him to shiver. He paused a second to rub his arms before feeling a tiny something hit the top of his head. For a moment, he thought a pigeon had pooped on him and he was going to lose it. But then more hit the floor and he realized it was just rain.
Wait… more rain? Again?! Now he was going to have to be a victim and walk into a random place. As long as it wasn’t another coffee shop, then he would be fine. The smell of coffee always seemed to drop his mood now, as he was sick of it.
He looked around before seeing a place nearby, the rain beginning to fall harder. It was a pub and restaurant called ‘Spades.’ Just that with the symbol. It was odd, but it would have to do. Matt hurried over to it before he could get any more wet.
For a moment, he wrung his wet clothes. Then he started looking around. It looked like a place that most people could afford, so not too gross but not too snazzy either. It had this homey kind of feel, even with all the drunks. Matt stood still before hesitantly walking over to the bar to sit down. As soon as he sat on a stool, a slightly familiar voice greeted him.
“Welcome to Spades, bar and restaurant. What can I do for ya?” It was almost unprofessionally dull, sounding almost sad, yet warm and laid back.
Matt turned to the voice and saw the man from last week, not looking up from a dish he was cleaning. He was wearing a black button up with black dress pants and a black apron over it. The apron had a white spade on it and a name tag that gave the bartender’s name. The guy wore a pair of shades that didn’t really go with the rest of his outfit, causing the ginger to hum in thought.
“Oh, I just needed a place to stay away from the rain,” Matt said, looking around still. The other perked up and looked at the ginger for a moment, raising an eyebrow.
“... Do I… do I know you?” he asked. He put a hand up before Matt could say anything. “Wait… you’re Matt from… from Hot Shots, right?” He looked nervous as the ginger nodded. “Oh, god- I’m so sorry about Saturday! I didn’t mean to cause so much trouble!” He looked so worried.
“Woah, calm down!” Matt said, giving him a warm, comforting smile. “It wasn’t you that caused any problems. People just… I’m sorry about how my customers treated you.”
“It’s… a normal reaction.” He fiddled with his name tag a little, looking down to the counter as he pursed his lips. “I was born with a… a-a ‘medical condition’ I guess you could… you could say.” He sighed. “Anyway… is there anything I can do for you?” he asked, looking back to the other, forcing on a smile.
Matt hummed a little, curious about this one. He couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow before smiling and nodding. “Can you meet me at Hot Shots after you’re done working? It’s closed today and I kinda wanna… speak more.”
The other looked at the ginger with surprise written all over his features. Then he nodded. “Alright… I will,” he agreed, the corner of his mouth quirking up a little in the hint of a real smile. Matt was intrigued by the thought of seeing a smile- a real, genuine smile- on the usually dull-looking man’s face, more for one that he put there. It had his heart skipping for a moment before the barista took a breath to calm himself, not wanting the bartender or anyone else, for that matter, to hear it.
Matt nodded with a bright smile. “Good. Now, where can I get a lemonade?”
The rain had stopped after about half an hour, Matt and Tom- having learned his name- had chat the time away and Matt had left, excited to see Tom again. The ginger repeated that name in his head, not wanting to forget it. He hurried to Hot Shots to wait for Tom, who would be coming in the next half hour. He hummed as he sat on a seat of a metal table underneath the cloth umbrella that had been set there.
He watched as water dripped from the leaves that had gotten caught in the rain, the wood of the trunk darker. The sky was still rather gloomy, but the sun shone down a bit to let the drops practically glow in the small time they were in the open. He sighed, calm and content, pulling something from his hoodie pocket that he had been fiddling with for a while.
It was the shades Tom had been wearing a week ago, the ones that could match anything he wore, the ones that hid his eyes more. Matt was still thinking about what Tom’s eyes could possibly look like. Did he have a glass eye? Was he hiding a nasty scar? … Did he really not have any eyes? He shoved the thought away, still finding that absolutely ridiculous.
Matt continued to examine the shades, turning them around in his grasp. They looked relatively old, worn a lot, some of the coloring fading from the sides. There were a couple of tiny scratches on the dark lenses, though they still looked rather well-kept, taken care of with a lot of care. With more looking, he found a pineapple drawing and a signature that he couldn’t read carved into and painted on in gold. He raised his eyebrows in curiosity.
The ginger sighed, clipping the glasses over the collar of his shirt, hiding them once more with his thick hoodie, an awkward lump. For the remaining waiting time, he flicked through social media, humming softly. Then he finally heard footsteps coming in the relatively empty area, echoing softly. Matt looked over and smiled again.
“Hey, Tom!” he greeted, standing from his seat and pocketing his phone again.
“Hey,” he responded in a softer voice, though there was a grin. Oh, how Matt wanted to see him smile like he was a ray of sunshine, to know that he was happy and day-to-day life wasn’t so hard. His heartbeat picked up again, making him pause to take calming breaths. Why were these thoughts always doing this to him- “So… what did you want to talk to me about?”
Matt blinked. Oh, right. He had asked Tom to come here to talk. He giggled in his anxious behavior. “Sorry, almost forgot. Let’s head inside first.” He took out the key and opened the door for the other male, smiling brightly to try and get Tom to smile too. Just a little. But he only received another half-hearted grin. Matt sighed silently and closed the door behind him. “Okay… well, I just wanted to talk about what happened on Saturday-“
Tom looked worried again. “I’m still sorry about that. Is there anything I can do for you? I will literally do anything- just please don’t sue me!” He looked desperate and Matt couldn’t help but laugh a little.
“Calm down, Tom,” he said between giggling. “It’s not anything bad. You’re not in trouble,” he added in a coo, treating him like a child. Tom pouted a little, but he physically relaxed a bit.
“Oh, shut up,” Tom chuckled. “So… what about Saturday?”
Matt seemed to grow hesitant, knowing this was a touchy subject for Tom. “I was… I was curious about your eyes.” The other physically tensed again and his expression dropped, making the ginger feel so guilty. “Some of the customers said you didn’t have eyes that day and I wasn’t… I wasn’t fortunate to see this. I was wondering if that was even true and I-“
“You would think I’m not normal,” Tom mumbled, interrupting him as he looked down with a sad frown. “You would say I’m an abomination, something that shouldn’t have lived… I’ve heard everything, Matt. All the things people tell me or say about me. There’s nothing I haven’t heard. You could say I’m used to it… so why would I want to show you?” The atmosphere was suddenly cold and distant, and Matt wanted to fix that. He didn’t like this, how everything didn’t seem worth it. He should’ve just kept his mouth shut.
But Matt kept going. “... and I wanted to see them for myself. I don’t judge people like that, Tom.” He looked at the other, who seemed to grow more upset.
“Like I said; I’ve heard it all before. So many people have said the same thing… and they all ran away. But you know what? I’m willing to lose another person, so let’s just get this over with.” Tom took his shades off and reluctantly looked at Matt, clenching his teeth tightly as the ginger’s expression switched in an instant.
Matt was noticeably shocked about this, seeing no eyes. Like that one fairytale someone had told him once when he had been a child, about those black-eyed children in those myths. As a child, he had been terrified of the tale… but as an adult, seeing this man before him, one that really didn’t want to hurt anyone, looking almost ready to cry… it was fascinating.
“You think this part of me is awful, don’t you? You just want to run, but you’re frozen…” Tom moved to put his glasses back before Matt poked him in the eye, causing him to slap his hand away as he helped in pain and held his eye. “Ow! You really do hate me, don’t you-“
“You do have eyes!” Matt exclaimed, smiling with glee as his mismatched eyes sparkled. “They’re just so different and unique!”
Tom raised an eyebrow in confusion as he rubbed his eye, looking at the other. “What?”
“If you truly didn’t have eyes, then I wouldn’t have felt anything there. But I did! Plus, you felt the pain… so there is an eyeball there, but it’s completely black. You’re different, but I say it’s a cool difference!” Tom was still confused, but he didn’t deny it, looking as if he was thinking about it.
“I… I guess.” He was so taken aback. He thought he had heard everything, but Matt had definitely proved him wrong. He’d never heard this before. “Aren’t you… a-aren’t you freaked out?”
Matt shook his head. “Why should I be? You’re as much of a human as I am.” Tom stared at him, causing the ginger to feel a little nervous. Soon though, he was snapped out of it as the bartender pulled him forward by the shirt and buried his face into the barista’s chest. “Tom, are you okay?” he asked, a little worried now as he held Tom close, his heartbeat faster from feeling the warmth Tom gave him. Did he trust him?
“You’re so different from everyone else,” Tom mumbled shakily, tightly wrapping his arms around Matt’s middle. “You trust people so easily and don’t question someone about their appearance. You make me feel free to be myself… I haven’t felt like that in so long.” Matt couldn’t help but grin softly, resting his chin on the other’s head.
“It’s all I can do to help you,” the ginger responded quietly.
They stayed in the hug for a while longer, taking in each other’s warmth while Tom slowly calmed down. He wasn’t going to cry. There was no reason to… He leaned closer into Matt’s warmth, greedily eating it up as he listened to his heartbeat. The ginger was here. He was real. He wasn’t a figment of his imagination. He was here.
“O-oh, and uh… I found these,” Matt mumbled reaching under his hoodie where the collar was. Tom looked up with his ebony eyes before practically lighting up and smiling like… The ginger paused. That was the smile he had wanted to see. That real and genuine smile that said everything was okay. His cheeks flushed a pink and he cracked a smile.
“You found them!” Tom exclaimed joyously, taking them from Matt and putting them on his face swiftly and carefully. “I thought I lost them! Thank goodness- thank you! I don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t have these back.” He seemed so happy, yet Matt wanted to see his eyes again. They suit him.
The barista reached over and carefully flipped the glasses to stay on Tom’s forehead, combing through his hair once. Tom looked up at him with surprise in those magnificent orbs. “I like seeing you happy,” Matt mumbled. “It really suits you.” Tom blushed red but couldn’t help but smile a little more.
“Thank you for everything…”