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The Groovy Bean

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Frazzled students are nothing new to The Groovy Bean. Based on observations made during his time spent behind the register, Michael believes that without coffee shops the College Student would be an endangered species. Frankly, he’s a little concerned about the quantities of caffeine that some of the students consume, especially during the four exam seasons. Thank goodness he didn’t have to deal with that shit. College was overrated, and he’d much rather stick with his job at the coffee shop and his Youtube Gaming channel thank you very much.

But he gets paid to take orders, not judge, so that’s exactly what he’s doing when Cute & Frazzled appears for the first time. Cute & Frazzled received his title for being exactly that. He had short, slightly curly brown hair in a state of wild disarray, a blue cardigan only halfway on over a wrinkled stripe-y shirt, blue jeans, a backpack only partially zipped with textbooks an inch away from spilling out, and the look of someone who had just rolled out of bed and was ten minutes late to their first class. He was also, in Michael’s very gay opinion, incredibly hot. 

He had ordered a large iced coffee, and when Michael had asked for a name he had just muttered “Here,” which Michael was pretty sure was not actually his name, but oh well. He was also pretty sure he was blushing a little when he sent the order over to Rich, but when Rich raised his eyebrows suggestively he just flipped the barista off. Cute & Frazzled had grabbed his coffee and taken off before Michael had a chance to say anything else, and that had been that.

Until three days later when he had appeared again. He was in a similar state of disaster, one shoe barely tied, though this time he had managed to put on his cardigan all the way and properly zip his backpack. His order remained the same, as did the speed with which he vanished. Michael thought that was quite a shame. He would have liked to ask for his name. And hopefully his number. 

When he voiced this sentiment to Rich, Rich had made a rather lewd comment. This was shortly followed by a dramatic exclamation of betrayal as Michael stole his complimentary employee’s croissant. Michael just laughed at him. No one, not even Michael’s very asexual ass, was free from Rich’s dirty jokes, but he found ways to get the barista back. Being tall had its advantages.  

A similar pattern continued for the first three weeks of the fall semester. Every few days, they boy would come speeding into The Groovy Bean, uncomfortably order an iced coffee, and be off again like a whirlwind. The shop was busy enough that Michael never had a chance to talk to Cute & Frazzled, always having another customer awaiting their chance to consume more caffeine.

“Just scribble your number on his receipt or something dude!” Rich fancied himself a matchmaker, despite having never match-made someone before.

“What? No! I don’t even know if he likes guys! Hell, I don’t even know his name! I literally know two things about him: he likes iced coffee and Pac Man.” Michael had noticed the Pac Man keychain on Cute & Frazzled’s backpack the fourth time he had come in.

“Seriously man, look, here he comes. I’m begging you to please do something .” Rich returned to his place as Cute & Frazzled pulled the front door open. Except today he was only living up to the first half of his title. 

His hair was still a bit wild, but his backpack didn’t look crammed to bursting, and he didn’t look like he had dressed at top speed. He also wasn’t slightly out of breath, like he hadn’t sprinted from his dorm. Somehow this served to amplify the Cute part.

Michael took a deep breath and quickly rubbed the cord of the headphones around his neck for luck before putting on the usual smile. 

“Large iced coffee, right?” Was it weird that he had his order memorized? No, of course not, the boy came here pretty frequently, and his order was simple. He knew the orders of most of the regulars.

“Um.. yea. And can I get it for here this time? And ..uh.. I’d also like a chocolate muffin? Please?”

“No problem dude! That’s six bucks. No class to rush off to today?” He popped the register open and took the bill Cute & Not-So-Frazzled handed him.

“I.. uhh.. no, it got cancelled? Why did I say that as a question.”

Michael laughed lightly. “No worries, I do that sometimes.”

Cute & Not-So-Frazzled went pink.

Michael finished exchanging the ten.

“Here’s your change dude, four dollars. Nice keychain by the way, Pac Man is awesome.”

“Thanks, your patches are pretty cool too.”

At that moment another customer entered, and Cute & Not-So-Frazzled moved off to collect his order and tuck himself into a small corner table with his laptop and several large textbooks, where he remained for the next two hours. Michael spent half an hour grinning like a fool when the student waved at him on his way out. It wasn’t until they were about to close that it hit him.

“Fuck!” He dropped his head against the counter. “Dammit!”

Rich looked over from where he was cleaning the espresso machine with concern.

“What decaffeinated your coffee man?” 

“I forgot to ask his fucking name!”

Rich stared at him for a second, and burst into laughter. The bird Michael flipped him from on the counter only set him off harder.

Chapter Text

“I’m a mess. My life is suffering.” 

Rich and Michael were back in the apartment they shared, since working at a coffee shop wasn’t exactly a profitable career. Michael had most certainly not been moping over his failure the day before any time he hadn't been at work in the past twenty-four hours.

“Dude, I still can’t believe you.”

“I know, Rich..”

“Like, seriously, how is this even real?”

Shut up , Rich.”

“No way, this is too good.”

Michael should have known better than to try to garner sympathy from Rich. He still found the whole ordeal hilarious. His enthusiastic teasing had not diminished in the slightest in the face of Michael’s suffering.

Michael groaned. 

“I was distracted, ok? He has a stutter. It’s too cute. He has a stutter, and he likes Pac-man, and I swear that his wallet was retro themed!” He flipped onto his stomach and buried his face in the couch.

“Man, you really are gone, aren’t you!”

“Just… go on your date, leave me to suffer” Michael made a shooing motion with his hand. “I need to take care of all the wallowing I didn’t get to do at work today.”

“Fine dude, I’ll tell Jake you said hi.” Footsteps and then the sound of the door announced Rich’s exit. Michael lifted his head, groaned again, and dropped back down. Maybe if he stayed there long enough, he could become one with the upholstery.

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Unfortunately, the upholstery refused to absorb him, and he had to get up the next day and return to the place of his humiliation again. Michael knew he was being dramatic, but he was gay dammit! Dramatic was what he did. 

It had decided to be a stupidly humid day, and even with the AC in The Groovy Bean being set to sixty degrees, Michael was forced to abandon his hoodie. Students drooped in and out of the shop, red-faced and wilting in the heat. However despite everything, it seemed Cute & Frazzled, once again fitting both halves of his name, refused to part with his cardigan. 

Somehow, Michael thought, he managed to make “sweaty and overheated” look adorable. The girl who’s order Michael had just taken waved at Cute & Frazzled on her way out, and Michael watched as his face turned a uniquely brilliant shade of cherry and he almost tripped over his own feet trying to wave back. 

He finished ringing up the current customer, Jake, Rich’s boyfriend, who gave him a knowing look. Michael fixed him with his best death glare, aware that he was probably a little pink himself. Jake just shook his head and moved on down the counter to flirt with Rich while he made Jake’s drink.

“Hey, you look pretty hot.”

Holy shit that came out wrong. Michael was sure that if he were even a little paler, he would be the same color as Cute & Frazzled. Rich and Jake both sniggered, but Michael was not going to give them the satisfaction of a reaction. He tried to quickly repair the short in his brain and went into recovery mode.

“I mean, I don’t know how you can stand wearing a cardigan in this weather, I had to shed the hoodie, and now my look is incomplete!” Michael flapped his bare arms to emphasize.

“I guess I just, uh, am used to it. Um, I think you look good even without your hoodie. The… the tattoo is really nice.” He shifted back onto his heels a little, looking as nervous as ever. 

Michael was trying desperately not to start grinning like a lunatic because he looked good to this guy!

“Shit dude, that’s hardcore. And thanks, I got it when I turned sixteen. Without permission, so my moms were thrilled .” 

Cute & Frazzled laughed a little, and Michael did a mental fist-pump. He finished ringing up the iced coffee and sent the order down to Rich. Rich had already almost finished it, as he was easily able to hear what was being said at the register and had also memorized the order of every single regular. (Michael had no idea how, and didn’t particularly care to ask. Knowing Rich, it could be anything from good memory to ritual sacrifice.)

As Cute & Frazzled grabbed his cup and made for the door, Michael called out and did an awkward wave.

“See you around dude!”

“Um, yea. See you around…” Cute & Frazzled gave an equally awkward half-wave in return, and then he was gone and it was just Rich, Jake and Michael left in the coffee shop.

He didn’t even have to see Rich to know the look that was currently being directed at him.

“Don’t you say a fucking word.”

Chapter Text

The next time Cute & Frazzled had come in was three days later, and Michael thought it looked like he hadn’t slept in the whole time he had been gone.

“Shit dude, when was the last time you had a decent sleep?” Cute & Frazzled blinked owlishly and shook his head like he had zoned out.

“Oh, uh… probably two days ago? It’s tech week for the first production of the semester. Nobody’s getting any sleep. I’ve been running on 5-Hour Energy and Mountain Dew for the last forty-eight hours, between homework and classes and rehearsals, and this is my first big role, so I’ve been stressing out so much I can’t sleep even when I have the time and sorry, I’ve been told that I overshare when I’m tired or nervous and since I’m both right now...” He trailed off awkwardly.

“Holy sheep, how are you even alive right now?!”

“That’s a valid question. I don’t know. I think it’s pure willpower at this point. No way am I dying before I get to be Jared Kleinman. Also I wouldn’t want to disappoint Christine, her “i’m-not-just-disappointed-i’m-also-very-angry” face is terrifying and also kind of heartbreaking at the same time. Oh yea, I also lose any and all filter when tired.”

“Fair. I honestly have no idea who anyone you mentioned is, but good luck. And just take your coffee on the house, I think you need it.” Michael also gave him a muffin, so that he wouldn’t keel over and die.

It was now 10 pm, opening night of the play, and Michael was contemplating what could be worse than forgetting to ask your crush’s name during your first real interaction. He was quite certain it was forgetting to ask it during the second interaction. And the third. And the fourth, on the last day of tech week. To be fair though, Cute & Frazzled had hardly been coherent for that conversation. 

And now here he was, drinking coffee with Cute & Frazzled, and in too deep to ask his name. 

Cute & Frazzled had come in just as they were getting ready to close, and looked rather dead on his feet. Michael, true to his status as a Weak Gay tm , had made him a hot chocolate (no way was he giving him caffeine), gotten a reject muffin, and sat him down at a table before grabbing a drink for himself.

“So, how’d opening night go?” They had been sipping their drinks and Cute & Frazzled had been consuming his muffin, picking small bits off to eat, for the last ten minutes.

“I.. uh.. I think it went well. The crowd seemed to like it...And I didn’t forget any lines, so, uh, that’s good.”

“Nice! Hopefully I’ll be able to catch one of the shows, if I can get an evening off.”

The conversation died from there, Michael not quite sure where to go from there, and Cute & Frazzled probably too tired to keep the conversation running on his own. Rich left, tossing Michael the key so he could lock up when they left, and also shooting him an exaggerated wink to which Michael did not dain to respond.

It was nearly 10:45 when they were finally ready to leave. 

“Hey, do you need a ride?” Michael didn’t see any cars in the lot beside his, and it was late on a Saturday. The prime time to find drunk idiots wandering the streets.

“Oh, uh, I wouldn’t want you to like, go out of your way or anything.”

“It’s no trouble, really.”

“If, uh, if you’re sure, thanks.”

Michael grinned. 

“Let me introduce you to my pride and joy.” He led Cute & Frazzled over to the silver retro PT Cruiser that sat in one of the Employees Only parking spaces. 

“Meet the Michael-mobile!”

Cute & Frazzled nearly choked laughing at that

“Man, you’re such a geek!” Then a look of panic crossed his face. “Not that that’s a bad thing, I mean! I am too!”

Michael took an exaggerated bow.

“Why thank you for noticing, what tipped you off? It was the glasses, right?”

Cute & Frazzled relaxed, and Michael unlocked the car.

“Climb in! And you’re going to have to direct me to your dorm. I don’t trust google maps for shit since they got me lost in the middle of nowhere trying to get me to turn onto roads that didn’t exist.”

“By the way, what are you studying? You’re always at the coffee shop, and I never see you on campus.” 

Michael shrugged. 

“I’m not actually in college. I just work at The Groovy Bean. And I run a gaming channel, but that’s not really a money-maker when you’ve only got like 3000 subscribers. But college just isn’t for me. I’d much rather stick to what I’m doing. No exams in a coffee shop!”

“That’s neat, oh, turn left at that light, I love video games, but I don’t have the time to make a channel. What’s yours called?”

“RadRetroGaymer, spelled g-a-y-mer. I had to make the pun.”

“So, that’s why you’ve got the pride patch?”

“Yup! My moms bought it for me, as if I didn’t give off enough gay vibes already.”

“That’s cool."

There were about five minutes of awkward silence punctuated only by Cute & Frazzled’s directions, before they reached his building.

“Thanks for the ride. See ya around I guess. I hope you make it to one of our shows.”

“Yup! See ya! Break a leg tomorrow, or whatever the saying is!” Michael gave one last wave and made sure Cute & Frazzled made it into the building before pulling out into the street, ready to go home and hope Rich wasn’t still up and ready to find humor in the disaster that was Michael’s love life.