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Stained Coffee

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Vildred wasn’t one to take these types of jobs. Yet here he was, in a cafe all alone by his lonesome self working the nightshift as a cafe barista. He was more of a tea person himself, but the pay was actually pretty decent. Besides, he needed the money to pay rent, split between him and his asshole roommate.

It also didn’t help the fact that he wasn’t that good with customers like his co-workers. Vildred let out a sigh. Iseria had already gone home, and Vildred was working overtime for some extra cash. It was a few more hours away from closing time, so he mentally prepared himself for another long shift, hoping that no one else would bother coming into the cafe at six in the evening.

(And of course, Diche just had to take that as an invitation.)

Vildred’s head shot up the moment he heard the bell chime, catching a glimpse of white strands of hair that moved with the outside air flowing into the cafe, “Welcome--”

And a loud thud instantly cut him off, securing all of Vildred’s attention onto his new customer (not that he wasn’t paying attention to the questionable newcomer he has never seen in the cafe before). The customer was now holding onto the wall as if his life depended on it. Lovely.

And to make matters worse, they made eye contact. Safe to say, Vildred’s heart definitely skipped a beat. “Aha, I’m very sorry! I’m not used to walking yet and I, uh, guess my legs just sort of gave out…” Not only did this stranger have beautiful, blue eyes, but also a really soothing voice that calmed Vildred’s nerves. Hopefully someone with such a soft appearance would not be so troubling to the point of where he gets fired? Maybe, who knows. Nice people hide so many secrets that’d he rather much not get involved at all. But of course, Vildred couldn’t just pretend that he didn’t exist so the next best course of action would be to help him out.

But there was a slight small problem: Vildred didn’t particularly like how his feet couldn’t move. So he resorted to talking instead.

“Um… Need help? This is the first time I’m dealing with a customer who’s not used to walking so--”, maybe he sounded too harsh? Yeah, he definitely sounded too harsh. Here he was mocking(?) a stranger for not being able to walk properly. Yeah, nice going Vildred, you’re definitely getting a raise.

But that train of thought was soon disrupted as that same soothing voice broke the delicate silence he put himself into, “Uh, if you don’t mind, that would be great!” And so he spent the next five minutes helping the customer get back up on his feet and moving him to a nearby table.

(Diche was definitely pushing his buttons.)

Vildred was really, really tired. He already had a rough day, especially since they had rush hour about twenty minutes ago, so adding an extra weight (literally) did not make him feel any better. What did make him feel better was that the other male was actually very soft and light.

And felt remarkably similar to a pillow.

Which made him feel a bit more comfortable since it reminded him that he just had a few more hours left before he could close shop and head home to the safety of his bed that was awaiting his return. Another thing that made him feel more relaxed was how little the other knew about coffee, which was adorable in Vildred’s opinion. It was like talking to a little kid. Did he even know what to order? Probably not. But Vildred didn’t mind spending his time of day teaching the shorter person what the basics of coffee were and as he did, he quickly discovered how much of a sweet tooth his new customer had.

“A friend recommended this place to me. I thought I’d go ahead and give the coffee here a try considering that she wouldn’t stop talking about how good it was here, ahaha…” It was already obvious that he was a newcomer to the cafe, but it was even more so obvious that this guy still had no idea what to order after Vildred’s quick lesson on cappuccinos, frappes, lattes, and other warm beverages ideal for winter and work.

Tapping his lower lip with his pen, he locked eyes with his ever-so strange customer and sighed. “Since you don’t have much tolerance for bitter things, how about a caramel macchiato,” Vildred paused, a bit flustered and surprised at himself. He didn’t actually think it through before blurting out the random suggestion, and wasn’t expecting himself to say that out loud either.

“Uh-- Black coffees are probably something you can’t handle yet, so for someone as uneducated as you on the art of coffee, a simple macchiato would most likely suit your tastes better.”

Did he just say that? Oh Diche, he just said that. Most people don't quite like his sense of humour which is why he’s the one making the orders, not taking them. God, he’s so going to get fired, Iseria is going to chew him out--

“Really? I mean, judging from what you said earlier when you were telling me about coffee, a caramel macchiato sounds nice! It’s the one with the milk and syrup on top of the espresso finished off with milk foam, right?”

The ivory haired male’s eyes shot up as he recalled what Vildred had told him earlier. To be honest, Vildred didn't really expect for his customer to actually listen to what he was rambling on about. It may or may not have caused the stoic barista’s heart to skip a beat and slightly lose his composure. Scratch that, he’s completely lost his composure. And he might even lose his job next. Actually, he probably already has lost his job.

At this point, Vildred was certain his heart wasn’t going to be able to take much more; so when you can’t remain calm, you escape the situation: which was exactly what Vildred had planned to do, “So I’m assuming you’d like a caramel macchiato? What size?”

“Uh… Medium?” Vildred chuckled at his customer’s uncertainty and repeated the order, “So one grande caramel macchiato. Is there anything else?” The shorter male shook his head.

“Well then, your name?” Vildred was pretty grateful he worked as a barista in a coffee shop. It gave him an excuse to ask for names. Plus, he’s been talking to the guy for ages now and still didn’t know his name. And that thought probably just occurred to his customer as well, since he jumped at the word name.

“Oh right, uh Ras.” That’s an uncommon name but for some reason, Vildred feels like he’s almost heard that name before. Oh well, it was best not to ponder over such trivial matters-- he had work to do. “Alright, so one grande caramel macchiato for Ras, that’ll be $6.77.”

Ras took out his credit card, and Vildred internally freaked out. “Uh, I’ll be right back. Do you want your receipt?” Ras gave a small nod and popped his arm up for his head to lean on, giving Vildred a small smile. Vildred, however, could only awkwardly return the gesture before scrambling back to the cash register and away from the table.

After finally getting back behind the counter, Vildred swiped the card and also used this as an excuse to examine it. He was no crook, but he definitely recognized that particular credit card. And just as he suspected, he most certainly did recognize the thin plastic.

His asshole roommate’s name was on it.

Dearest Diche, our goddess of grace--

Vildred wanted to scream but he couldn’t, so he didn’t.

Like the good barista he was, he quietly refrained from making a ruckus and swiped the credit card into the cash register. After doing so, he waited for the receipt to print out before quickly returning back to the table at which Ras was sitting at. “Here you go. If you need anything else, let me know. I’ll get on your order now,” and with that, Vildred dashed off behind the counter, after returning the card (of course), to avoid further contact with said customer.

Now he was finally doing something he was actually good at doing: making the orders.

A caramel macchiato was a simple coffee beverage that Vildred could make with ease. However, like all good coffee, it requires time. So Vildred hopped to his feet and quickly started preparing the macchiato using the cafe’s espresso machine. The espresso usually takes a few minutes to start warming up, so Vildred busied himself with heating up the milk. As he waited for the milk to reach a certain temperature, Vildred let his mind wander off to other thoughts.

Sure, he enjoyed making coffee and all, but he was doing this for the income. He couldn’t afford to screw this one up either, even though he has never messed up an order before. However, the thought of his manager firing him made him anxious.

Ever since Ras came in, Vildred has been frantically trying to remain calm. He’s never been in a situation where the customer outright collapses onto the wall. What if he gets the cafe company sued? He’d be fired for sure!

Ras didn’t seem like the person who would complain to his manager though, but he was still pretty scared. If he lost his one part-time job now, how would he pay rent? His roommate has already been covering his side of the rent a few times now, so he would need to repay him back eventually. Not to mention, college already put him in a lot of debt.

God, he really needed to get his life back on track.

Snapping back to reality, the conflicted barista checked the milk’s temperature. After confirming that it was indeed warm enough, Vildred started whisking the milk until it began forming the milk foam. Now that Vildred thought about it, macchiatos were truly amazing. Not only were they simple to make, but also tasted good both hot and cold. Vildred was certain that the beginner coffee drinker would enjoy the bittersweet beverage he recommended.

His worries were beginning to dissolve.

Ras was practically eyeing the drink now. Actually, he’s been eyeing the drink for a very long time, and not just the drink.

The white-haired male didn’t have much to occupy himself with while the barista was busy preparing his drink. He tried looking out the window, but he eventually got bored of that after a while, so his eyes trailed around the cafe instead. Ras had to admit, the cafe was definitely lively even though he and the barista were the only two in it.

Now that he’s thought about it, Ras didn’t even know the said barista’s name. The barista knew his, of course, since the order and all, but it wasn’t vice versa for the new customer. And with that thought, Ras found something to occupy himself with yet again. He tried looking for the barista’s name tag on his apron, but he couldn’t find one. Maybe this cafe operated differently? Who can say, Ras didn’t know for sure. He was in a coma for two years at most, so what would he even know?

Though Ras was just planning on looking away after finding the barista’s name tag, he couldn’t help but also become entranced by the way he made coffee. He looked much more at ease while doing that than talking to Ras. Aha, perhaps he came off as a bit too bizarre? The cafe worker even said it himself, something along the lines of him never seeing a customer fall onto the wall before.

A few seconds of watching the barista work became a few minutes instead.

Ras couldn’t help but feel extremely excited when the barista came out from behind the counter with his order, greeting the said barista with an eager smile. “Hey, you’re acting like this is your first time trying coffee. It’s not, is it?” The barista asked lightheartedly. “Oh uh, no.” This earned a small chuckle from the barista. “It is my first time trying a caramel macchiato though”, Ras added, chuckling a bit as well. The barista gave a small smile and rolled his eyes, placing the order down when he finally reached his table.

“Mhm, well if that’s the case, then enjoy.”

And enjoy Ras certainly did. Actually, he might even become a new regular. Scratch that, he’s going to be a new regular.