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coffee, black

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“I think you might need some new pants,” Ben notes as Klaus rotates slowly in front of the mirror. 


“Oh, go play Casper the Friendly Ghost with someone else,” Klaus says, exhaling noisily and waving a hand in Ben’s direction. The button on his pants slides home and he sighs in relief. 


“They still fit,” he says without looking, because of course Ben didn’t leave. They’d discovered years ago that it was either a) go hang out in the void, which, no thanks, or b) be privy to whatever weird shit Klaus is up to. 


At this point, Ben’s read more books than Klaus knew existed, but he’s still always good for a pithy remark or two. Now that Klaus is sober, there are fewer disapproving statements, so that’s some progress, but he can always count on Ben to keep him honest- at least between the two of them. 


So he asks. 


“Do these pants make me look fat?” 


“Oh, so now you want to know what I think?” 


Klaus sighs, hands on hips. Which, yes, there might be a little more of lately. 




“Yeah,” Ben says casually. “But it looks good on you. You don’t look so much like you’re going to blow away. And you’re not fat; you’re just not disturbingly thin anymore.” 


“Hmph. It’s that new coffee place,” Klaus says, a little bit of a whine edging his voice. 


“You mean it’s the guy who runs the coffee place.” 


“Which guy?” Klaus smooths down his shirt, which still fits just fine, thank you very much. 


“Don’t pretend like you don’t know. I mean Dave , the one who’s always making eyes at you.” 


“He is not,” Klaus protests, but preens a little anyway. 


“I’ll watch this time,” Ben says, “And tell you if he is.” 


“You perv,” Klaus says, but there’s no heat behind it. He throws on a skinny scarf over the top of the rest of his outfit and calls it good. 




There’s something about the particular jingle of the coffeeshop door that makes Klaus happy. Maybe Ben’s right and it’s because he has a crush on Dave. 


He’s been coming here for the past few months, always getting a coffee and sometimes-- more often than not, recently-- a pastry and reading in one of the chairs by the front windows. 


Okay, sure, he and Dave have started to get a little friendly, but Klaus is sure there’s nothing really to it. Maybe there’s a little flirting, but Dave recently figured out who Klaus actually is, so Klaus doesn’t think that anything is going to come of it. 


“He’s totally checking you out,” Ben tells him as Klaus sits down with his donut and coffee. “I think he likes the pants.” 


Klaus takes a sip of coffee and talks to Ben under his breath. Sure, now Dave is aware of the whole ghost world thing, but Klaus still doesn’t like to be seen doing what looks like talking to himself in public. 


“It’s his fault the pants are too tight,” Klaus says. “The pastries at this bakery are stupidly good. And he’s not checking me out. He’s just a friendly person.” 


“Suuuuure.” Ben sits across from Klaus. “And that’s why he keeps looking over here.” 


“He keeps looking over here because it looks like I’m talking to myself and that’s not a cute look for his coffee shop.” Klaus picks a piece of donut apart and shoves it into his mouth. “Now shut up so I can read my book.” 


Ben shuts up. 




It takes Dave three weeks to get Klaus’ name. This isn’t a Starbucks; there aren’t ventis or grandes or names written on cups. 


It’s just been this enormously adorable guy with his own dress code who comes in every day or so and orders black coffee and nothing else. He always puts all of his change in the tip jar and then takes his coffee and reads a book by one of the windows. 


There’s something vaguely familiar about the guy, but Dave figures that he’d remember a face like that, for sure… and then one day he’s flipping through the channels on the communal coffee shop TV and it hits him. He pauses on a news show, one of those daily drama shindigs that’s always going on about who’s married to who and who’s leaving whom and who’s wearing what. Today they’re doing a “where are they now?” segment about the former Umbrella Academy kids, and that’s it. That’s where Dave knows him from. 


“Fuuuuuuck,” says the guy by the window, and Dave turns the volume up. If he tries really hard, maybe he can play this cool. 


“What?” Dave says. “Don’t like this show?” 


The guy-- Klaus Hargreeves -- scowls. He flaps a hand at the television, irritated. “Whatever. It’s just-- they never get the real story.” 


“So what is the real story?” Dave comes out from behind the counter. He shouldn’t be doing this; it’s against protocol. Although fuck protocol, this is his own coffee shop and if he wants to talk to a cute guy, then so be it. There’s no one in line and if someone needs an iced mocha frappuccino matcha shaken latte in the next five minutes, they can make it themselves. 


The guy holds out a hand when Dave comes over to the table. 


“Klaus,” he says, and Dave takes his hand and shakes it. 


“Nice tattoos,” he notes, and Klaus rolls his eyes. 


“Ironic, huh?” 


Dave shrugs. “I think they’re cool.” 


“Uh-huh. Sure.” 


So, maybe this Klaus guy has a bit of a chip on his shoulder. And maybe that chip is the size of Kansas. But after they’re introduced, he starts lingering at the counter a little longer. He starts to order pastries after Dave recommends the lemon blueberry donuts, and sometimes he even chats a little. 


He’s still guarded, wary, like he thinks Dave is going to call the paparazzi and tell them-- what? That Klaus Hargreeves ate a pistachio donut and seemed to enjoy it?-- to come on down and get some good candids, but that dissipates gradually over time. 


Two months in, Dave has learned several things about Klaus Hargreeves: one, he has a serious sweet tooth, and two, he never gets any less cute. 


Sometimes he seems to mutter to himself over in his chair by the window, but Dave finds that charming, too. 


Like now, for instance, Klaus is hissing something over his shoulder, looking annoyed, when Dave stops by his table to bus his plate. 


“Having a spat?” He asks mildly, and Klaus jumps a little. 


“As if you don’t know.” 


“No,” Dave says. “I really don’t. I never got into all that Umbrella Academy stuff. Always seemed kind of manipulative of your dad. No offense.” 


Klaus briefly looks delighted. “It’s impossible to offend me on the subject of my dearly… well, my departed , at least… dad.” 


“So what’s up with that?” Dave gestures at Klaus, at the space between them, where Dave can’t see anything but Klaus clearly can. 


Klaus sighs. “I see dead people.” 


“What, like Haley Joel Osment?” 


“No, like specifically my dead brother. And a lot of other people I don’t know. But mostly my brother, who is a giant pain in the-- OW .” 


Dave doesn’t let his face crack into a smile. “So now you’re going to tell me your dead brother’s ghost pinched you.” 


Klaus gives him a long-suffering look and doesn’t respond. 


“Anyway,” Dave says after the silence goes on for an awkward amount of time, “Let me know if you want another donut. On the house.” 


Klaus considers for a moment, face scrunching up in concentration, and Jesus H Christ if that isn’t the most adorable thing Dave’s ever seen. 


“All right. As long as it’s on the house.” 




Dave isn’t working that weekend, and Monday morning he’s looking forward to seeing Klaus. Of course, he has other regulars he enjoys chit-chatting with and hearing about their days and their pets and kids and cross-stitch or whatnot, but if he’s honest with himself, Klaus is the highlight. The shining star in the constellation. 


Dave has fallen really, really hard. He knows it’s a bad idea from the start- Klaus is a bona fide former celebrity and it sounds like he had a pretty fucked-up childhood. That doesn’t bode well for relationship stability, at least as far as Dave can tell from the tabloids he peruses while in line at the grocery store. 


Something tells him that Klaus is different, though, so he keeps carrying the torch like he’s gunning for the Olympic flame. All morning, he startles when the door jingles, but every time it’s not Klaus his heart sinks. 


Finally, around 11 a.m., when the before-work crowd has already moved on and it’s generally a slow time, the door jingles and Klaus comes through the door. 


Dave’s so excited that he starts getting a donut on a plate and a black coffee together before Klaus says anything, but when he looks up from that, Klaus is just standing there in front of the counter, looking dazed. 


“Actually, could I get an herbal tea?” 


Dave blanches involuntarily just at the sound of his voice- scraped raw, effortful. 


Klaus’ mouth curls up a bit and then he turns his head to the side to sneeze into his shoulder. 


“Sorry,” he says. “I’m just”-- he pauses to sneeze again, and this time the sound is exhausted. “Ugh. I’ve just got this cold.” He sniffles. 

Dave hands him a fresh napkin over the counter to blow his nose and Klaus nods in thanks. 


“You sound terrible,” Dave says. “What are you doing out of bed?” 


Klaus just shrugs, and sniffles again. Conversing seems to take too much effort. “I don’t know,” he says eventually. All of his consonants are muted, and Dave doesn’t know why but it’s fucking adorable. “I guess…” he searches for what he wants to say, and he looks so out of it, like a little lost puppy, and all Dave wants to do is bundle him in a thousand blankets. 


Klaus clears his throat, starting over. It sounds painful and he winces. “I guess… my therapist said it’s good for me to get out of the house. So I come here. I didn’t want to break the routine. I do better if I stick to the routine.” 


God, he’s so cute. His cheeks and nose are all flushed and he keeps muffling little coughs into his collar like he’s not going to let any irritation in his throat get the best of him. 


“That’s good,” Dave tells him. “A routine is good.” 


Klaus doesn’t say anything. There’s only one other customer in the shop, an Instagrammer who’s always rearranging her coffee and pastries and standing on chairs to take pictures of them, so Dave doesn’t feel too badly about going for it. 


“Hey,” he says. “Listen. I live just upstairs and it sounds like you could use some soup or something. Do you want to… come up and I could make you some?” 


There’s a beat of silence, and then Klaus sniffles again. 


“Yeah,” he says. “Sure. Why not?”