“Shit,” Sam said, holding up a half empty potion bottle from his spot at the register. Behind him was the door to the kitchen, and on the wall, herbs and various elements were displayed in mason jars on shelves decorated with coffee beans.
From the other side of the counter, Bucky stopped cleaning the glass and raised an eyebrow. “Shit?” he repeated, his microfiber cloth paused in mid-wipe. He tilted his head, trying to place the potion at a glance.
“Fuck.” Sam emphasized the word by holding the half empty potion bottle up higher, so that Bucky couldn’t miss the handwritten label.
Bucky’s eyes widened. “Fuck, indeed. My friend, why are you dealing in love potions? You know--”
“I’m not dealing in love potions,” Sam said with a scowl and a glance around the shop. They were in a rare mid-afternoon lull and just a few students sat at the tables. None of them seemed to notice Sam's outburst, and he kept his voice low. “I’m trying to figure out why there’s a love potion hanging out with my good luck charms!”
Bucky cocked his head, following Sam’s trail of thought. “Don’t look at me. I don’t touch those things. Nat, tell him I don’t mess around with Love.”
Natasha poked her head out from the back, staring down Sam and Bucky individually. “Bucky doesn’t mess around with it. What are we messing around with and what’s the problem?”
“The Problem,” Sam said, capitalizing the P in his frustration, “is that a certain super cute customer walked out of here this morning with a generous splash of a love potion in his coffee.
“Ooooooh.” A timer went off and Natasha disappeared into the back before she came back out with a tray of apple tarts, giving them to Sam to put in the case. “You mean…Steve?”
“He totally means Steve,” Bucky called. From where he was now purportedly wiping down the counter. “Look, he’s blushing.”
“I’m not blushing.” Sam wasn’t about to consult a mirror for confirmation; plausible deniability, after all. He grabbed the apple tarts and began stocking the front display. “But yes. Steve. He ordered his coffee with a good luck charm and I gave him a love potion and now I need to track him down and convince him to let me give him the antidote while he…” Sam trailed off. If he hadn’t been blushing before, the thought of Steve succumbing to the effects of the potion had him there for sure.
The thing was, Steve had been showing up at their little cafe for weeks now, and he always smiled in his straightforward way at Sam. Sam was enamored by Steve's black, tight , jeans and his messy undercut.
The bells on the door chimed as someone entered the cafe and Sam looked up. A familiar flash of blond hair and patched t-shirt was all Sam saw before he abandoned the rest of the tarts and dashed for the kitchen.
"No, it's cool," Bucky called after him. "I'll just abandon my super important cleaning job to take care of a customer for you."
Natasha was pulling a rack of brownies out of the oven. She didn't turn to look at Sam. "You know a single door is not going to do anything to deter the effects of a love potion, right?"
"I can't bring myself to start running," Sam sighed. "I need to get out there and own up to my mistake."
"That's the Sam I know and love," Natasha said, pushing the rack to the corner. She winked. "Platonically, and without any use of wayward magic."
Sam sighed again, but he couldn't help a little smile. "Thanks, Nat. You always know what to say."
With a deep breath, Sam braced himself for the range of possibilities awaiting him in the form of a spitfire named Steve. He walked through the swing door.
Steve wasn't there. The chime of the bell faded as the front door closed.
"He left?" Sam swept the room with a glance, tried to make sure Steve hadn't sat at a table. Natasha's words rang in his ears. A swinging door wouldn't stop a love potion.
"He asked if you were here and I said you were in the back," Bucky said with a shrug. "He thanked me and left. Are you, uh, sure you gave him a love potion?"
Sam pursed his lips and winced. "Positive. Maybe he's got fae blood?"
"He is surly enough," Natasha noted. "Now, I've got dishes in the sink and Bucky did them last time so..."
"Message received." With a last glance to the entrance, Sam headed into the back to get started on the sinkful of dishes.
He was elbows deep in warm sudsy water when a sudden tap at the window got his attention. Followed by another tap. Sam looked up to see Steve standing outside the window and waving.
The pan Sam was washing slipped from his fingers. He managed to catch it before it splashed into the soapy water. Was he imagining things now? Cautiously, he looked up again.
Steve was still out there with a smile on his gorgeous face, and Sam had to stop thinking about that smile. Steve waved again, pointing to the window.
Sam wasn't even sure the window could be opened. He didn't panic so much as he tossed the pan on the drying rack and crashed through the door to the front of the shop. A couple of customers glanced up at the noise.
“He’s outside. The window,” Sam hissed to Natasha, who was taking an order.
“Yes?” Natasha said, making change for the customer and pulling down a coffee cup to start making his drink. “I recall you saying something about a ‘love potion,’ correct?”
“What if he breaks the window?” Sam didn’t objectively think that Steve could break the window; he was cute but not built for window smashing. He could probably throw a decent sized rock though.
None of that mattered, really, because the next thing Sam knew, Steve was back inside the cafe (using the front door, probably because that was the easiest way to get inside the building, if Sam really wanted to stop and think about it).
The way Steve’s whole face lit up when he saw Sam had him ready to jump back to the of the kitchen. He wanted to bask in Steve's radiant smile, but he couldn't. It wasn't really for him.
"Sam!" Steve infused the single word with joy and excitement.
"Hey, Steve." Sam swallowed the dry nerves at the back of his throat. If Steve didn't stop smiling at him, he was going to lose his ability to think clearly. He was pretty sure that wasn't how love potions worked. "How are you doing?"
"Never been better," Steve said with a grin.
Sam really, really wanted a do-over of the morning. But he didn't mess with love potions, and he especially didn't mess with Time.
Which mean he was left with the old fashioned methods. Talking it out. "I need to tell you something--"
Steve cut him off with a playful grin, a brilliant smile that he never gave to Bucky or Natasha. "Sam, will you go out with me?"
Somewhere behind him, Sam heard Bucky and Natasha take a few steps back to give them some semblance of privacy, but all Sam could truly focus on was Steve.
"Steve, I can't--"
Steve's face fell and so did Sam's stomach.
"Oh, god, I'm sorry," Steve started to apologize and Sam, despite his goddamn better judgement, reached over the counter and took Steve's hand.
An electrical current ran between them, Steve's hand all sharp edges and warmth under Sam's fingers. Sam didn't know if that was part of the love potion. In fact, he really needed to brush up on the side effects of love potions, because Steve wasn't behaving how he'd expect at all.
"Don't apologize," Sam murmured. "It's my fault. I can't say yes because I accidentally gave you a love potion."
Steve blinked, his blue eyes wide. "Oh my god, seriously? I--I don't know how to feel about this." He paused. "Oh my god. Is that why I still want to date you even though you just admitted to, uh, magically drugging me?"
Sam scrunched his eyes, rubbing at his temples. "One hundred percent, yes."
"So what do I do?" Steve asked. He hadn't let go of Sam's hand. Or was it Sam who hadn't let go of Steve's?
With a thick swallow, Sam nodded to the kitchen. "I can make an antidote for you."
"Can I watch?" Steve paused. "Sorry, I just--"
"Yeah, it's fine," Sam said. The afternoon rush hadn't started yet. "Nat, I'm taking my 15 minutes."
Natasha raised an eyebrow their way. "Are you sure 15 minutes will be enough?"
Steve blushed, and Sam tried not to think of the way the blush disappeared beneath Steve's shirt. Sam pulled up the counter divider for Steve to come through and then they went in the back, just the two of them.
"I really wanted to kiss you," Steve lamented as Sam gathered up his supplies from the various cabinets. He had perched himself on a stool in front of Natasha's favorite baking counter, and flour had somehow already dusted his shirt.
Sam had to bite his tongue so that he didn't tell Steve how much he wanted to kiss him . It wasn't fair to admit that to someone under the influence.
"But uh," Steve added, right as Sam was reaching for his personally gathered elderflower, "I wanted to kiss you for awhile now."
Sam froze, his fingers wrapped around the small glass container. "What?" He swallowed again. "Define awhile. I just made the mistake this morning. With your coffee."
Now it was Steve's turn to tilt his head and look at Sam as though he'd said something very odd. "I didn't have my coffee today. I spilled it."
"You spilled it?" Sam repeated, putting the vial down on the counter. His thoughts started to jumble together as he didn't drink it! and holy shit he actually wants to kiss me vied for attention.
"Yeah," Steve said slowly, as though maybe he was having similar thoughts. "I didn't have time to drink any of it before some asshole bumped into me on the sidewalk. The whole thing ended up on the street."
"So you didn't drink even a sip?" Sam asked, his headache hanging on Steve's response.
"Not even one goddamned drop," Steve said, and Sam realized how close his face was.
"So I could kiss you," Sam said, his voice barely above a whisper. "I could kiss you and it would be something you honestly, truly want."
Steve didn't say anything. He just leaned in and pressed his lips against Sam's. Fireworks splashed across the sky and Sam's heart leapt up to join them. Steve had a hand on the back of Sam's neck, guiding him closer. Their bodies met, Steve's wiry frame against Sam's and it felt like two lost puzzle pieces slotting together. Steve's tongue was on Sam's lips and Sam was sure someone must have spiked his own coffee with ten shots of luck.
Someone cleared their throat in the doorway to the kitchen, and Sam realized his luck had ran out.
"Samuel Wilson!" Natasha's voice was icy. "Are you making out with--"
"He spilled his coffee!" Sam said, unable to keep the grin off his face. "He spilled his coffee and he wants to kiss me!"
Steve was only blushing a minimal amount, really, for how intimidating Natasha was. But her face relaxed into a smile.
"Well, that's wonderful. You'll still have to swap spit after your shift is over." Natasha winked. "Health code violation otherwise, you know."
Sam's smile was a little more of a wince than he'd planned for, but honestly, he was floating up to the clouds. Steve wanted to kiss him; Steve had kissed him.
"Look, I get off late tonight," Sam admitted. "Maybe we could go out on Tuesday? After your classes?"
Steve smiled and put a hand on Sam's forearm. His fingers were calloused and firm.
"I'd love to."