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a heart that will not ever go astray

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Everyone who has met him more than once knows that Arthur doesn't like crowded places.

It's not that he's not friendly, or that he doesn't like people. He does. He likes talking with them, likes meeting new people, likes spending time with the ones he already knows. There's just... something in big crowds that Arthur finds unnerving.

That's why he likes Hosea's coffee shop so much. It's a small place, cozy and quiet, with the best coffee in the whole town - and really good cookies, too.

It doesn't hurt that Hosea lets him often have coffee for free.

The perks of being his adoptive son. Well, perks of being his adoptive son, but not being John.

"You okay there, Arthur?" Sadie asks, from the seat at the same table. She's sipping on the darkest coffee Arthur has ever seen - he's not even sure that's what coffee should look like. Tar? Yes. Coffee? Not so much.

"Yeah, of course," Arthur replies absentmindedly, too busy trying to sketch the new horse Dutch bought a few weeks ago. There's nothing like a quiet afternoon at the coffee shop with his sketchbook. Well, Arthur would much prefer to be out in the open air, but it's been pouring for hours and that's not the best weather to go and draw stuff.

The tiny bell on the door rings happily and suddenly the sound of the rain fills the small room.

And there, right in front of the counter, with a tired look on his face and dripping wet, stands the most gorgeous man Arthur has ever seen in his entire, miserable life. He's wearing a tight pair of jeans and a blue shirt with a dotted white pattern, made almost transparent by the rain.

Arthur's throat feels like a goddamn desert, and he does his best to look away. Except his eyes have apparently stopped answering him, and he's still staring at the gorgeous man. Arthur can feel his face start to heat, and he's sure he's blushing.

Goddamn.

The man (and Arthur should really stop thinking about him as the gorgeous man)  chats for a few moments with Hosea, orders a coffee, and then looks around the room. His eyes meet Arthur's, and suddenly Arthur feels incredibly conscious about his crinkled clothes and his scruffy beard.

The other man looks at him for a few more seconds and then nods toward Sadie. When Hosea hands him the coffee, he nods again and then leaves.

“Sadie... who’s that feller?” Arthur asks when he finds his voice back, trying to ignore how Sadie snickers way too loudly at his question.

“That’s Charles Smith. Dutch says he’s good with the horses. He's helping out at the farm.”

Goddamn. Of course, he's also good with the horses. Why not.

“Why do you ask?”

“Shut it,” Arthur growls back and then proceeds to drown his embarrassment in the big ass cup of coffee that sits in front of him. "I was only wondering."

"Oh, that's called wondering now?"

Arthur can hear Hosea's laughter from the other side of the room.