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coffee and unforeseen trysts

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The first time that Tine misspells his name, he swears it wasn't on purpose. It was solely the poor mix of unfortunate circumstances, his horde of wild fans, and Tine's sleep deprived grouchiness that was to be blamed.

 

Tine looks up from the Latte he's brewing to spare a glance at him. The said man sips on his Americano, leaning back against the seat, still oblivious to any and every kind of attention he's been drawing since he stepped into the cafe. For reasons unknown, Tine's displeasure grows within itself, if it was even possible. He's reminded yet again, of the mess that happened barely thirty minutes ago, that put them in their current predicament.

 

***

 

His shift had just begun and Tine was making his way with a large tray balancing 6 orders, to a group seated at a table at the back─though, he barely even started. He'd hardly taken two steps away from the counter, when someone bumped into him with quite a force, knocking the breath out of him. His reflexes kicked in even before he could collect himself- thank the gods- and Pear was beside him in a second to help him steady up and not drop the entire tray across the floor. When it once registered upon him, what was about to have happened, Tine whipped around to look for whosoever had been so blind to just walk into him.

And- oh. Swarmed up by a crowd of giggling girls, he leant against the counter, looking through the menu as if he couldn't be any less bothered about it. Almost as if they were invisible to him. A scowl etched itself on Tine's face. What an asshole. Then as if remembering he still had an order to serve, he shook his head and turned back around, lest anything else happened.

 

But oh, how wrong he was to think that his share of misfortunes for the day, would end right there.

 

Tine stared back at the man who looked at him with an aloof expression, waiting for him to take his order. His fans- Tine guessed that's what they were- had finally taken up seats near his table instead of following him around.

 

"One iced Americano, two Espressos."

 

"That'd be 105 baht for the Americano, 140 baht each for the Espressos," he replied in his practiced smooth barista voice, setting to work on the order. "Do you want any names on it?"

 

"Sarawat would be fine."

 

Tine hummed in response, deciding not to dignify him anymore with a proper answer or attention.

 

As luck would have it, ten minutes later, he found himself racking his brains for what name he'd given for the order. Blame his sleep deprivation and Uni requirements. After a few moments of fruitless efforts, he decided to fuck it- just because- and grabbed the tumbler and in a blink his slanting handwriting flowed across the top. Once satisfied with his handiwork, he looked up and called out,"Table 9!"

 

He was evidently unimpressed. The corners of his lips turned down slightly, that might've gone unnoticed if one hadn't been staring at him. "Why does my cup have Saraleo written on it?" Tine raised an eyebrow at the question, managing to keep his expression neutral. "Isn't that what you said?"

 

"My name can't obviously be asshole, you know," he countered with the same deadpan look on his face. Tine shrugged nonchalantly, "Oh, it definitely could be. It does suit you." He'd be lying, if he said wasn't a tiny bit amused right now.

 

He narrowed his eyes infinitesimally at this, yet still stared at Tine, unblinking. Never been one to back down, Tine refused to drop his gaze, feeling the unspoken challenge in his eyes. It might've been just seconds, or an eternity could've passed, when he suddenly leaned into his personal space, a bit too close for comfort and said in his deep voice, "Keep looking at me like that and I'll kiss you till you drop."

 

Tine blinked in surprise but the guy had already turned away, walking towards his table. That was so odd.

 

***

 

Once he's finished with the Latte, Tine slumps down on the stool behind the counter and looks around with a slightly disgruntled look. Two minutes later, Pear joins him, making out that they don't have any new customers to attend to. She locks her gaze on him with a vaguely worried expression. "Are you okay, Tine?"

 

Was he okay? Annoyed, drained, and definitely lacking sleep. He'd surely had better days. However, he returns her a small smile. "Don't worry about me, Pear. I'm fine." She doesn't look convinced but doesn't press further either, knowing she wouldn't get anything out of him.

 

***

 

The next time it happens, Tine has to admit he might've done it just to get under his skin and irk him.

 

It's been 2 days since he'd stepped into the coffee shop with his friends for the first time, and they'd religiously dropped in every day since, at the same time during Tine's shift. However, after the first day, it'd been his friend Man, who'd come to order. That was not to say that he didn't bring with him his entire fanclub tagging along with them. Tine sighed defeatedly. He wasn't entirely happy with the whole charade of giggling girls taking over the place. They'd spend the entire time indiscreetly spying on him, never placing a single order and leaving the cafe only after they do. If he remembers it right, two of them did order two different drinks the previous day but for him, and he straight up refused and went back to blissfully ignoring the presence of anyone besides his group. Not that Tine cared about that in particular but- he fumed when he was reminded once again- they had the audacity to actually come back with the orders and try to talk him into taking it back. As if he would agree to that! Now, this whole shtick was pretty evidently bad for business and Tine did not like it one bit.

 

When he grumbled about it to Pear while they locked up before going home, she'd rolled her eyes at him, "Tine, you're way too worked up about this. And it's not like we can drive them out without a reason, just like that." That's right. He made a mental note to talk to their boss about adding a new policy- you buy something, only then you stay.

 

For a change, today, it is him who's come up to the counter once again.

 

"One Americano, two Decafs."

 

"Sure. Any names?" Tine purposefully starts on the brewing so he wouldn't have to look at his face.

 

There is a short pause before he hears the slightly stiff reply, "Sarawat. I hope you remember it." And he is gone before Tine could look up and answer with an affirmative. What's his deal anyway? This whole act of hot-and-cold behaviour, leeched onto his nerves, winded him up more than he'd like to admit. And he hates it.

 

Fuck, pull yourself together Tine, he reprimands himself belatedly, this is all his and his fans' fault anyways.

 

It predictably led them to staring at each other yet again, in cold confrontation. He fixes his eyes for a whole moment on his cup, before peering through his eyelashes- that were too pretty to be on any man, Tine concedes to himself- to glance at Tine, finally. "Salawad? Seriously?"

 

"Isn't that right?" He questions back at him innocently.

 

Narrowed eyes look back at him in carefully concealed exasperation. Tine feels pleased to know that he's able to get under his cold facade, to know he is capable of showing at least a tiny slip of emotion.

 

"Are you doing it on purpose?"

 

Careful enough to mask his face with nothing other than innocence, Tine answers, "You're telling me that the name you gave me isn't this?"

 

"You know what? I'll just take the Decafs, you can keep the Americano," he says as a reply.

 

Tine tries to contain his evident glee at his displeasure. Instead he tells him, "I'm sorry, we have a no return policy," and gives him a sickly sweet, insincere smile, which obviously betrays how he's so very not sorry at all.

 

***

 

They say, third time's the charm but it's clearly not his day.

 

"Again? Salaleo?" His voice reveals a tinge of vexation.

 

"This time with a 'L' instead of an 'R'," shrugs Tine, smug, openly giving himself away.

 

He looks at him through his lashes- oh god, not those lashes again- and says intently, "I'd thought you'd be more creative than this."

 

Tine pretends to ponder over what he said. "You're right… I could. But I didn't care enough to waste my time on it," and gives him one of his cheeky grins, that he knows gets on his friends' nerves whenever he does.

 

He places his palms down on the counter and leans forward, "What the heck do you want?"

 

Tine smirks and answers in a beat, "Hm, for starters, I want you to tell your fans to stop hoarding up seats, if they've got nothing to do here."

 

He pushes back and crosses his arms across his chest, while grumbling to himself. Tine raises his eyebrow at him in question. He sighs, "I'm not responsible for them. I didn't tell them to follow me around."

 

This earns him a skeptical look."Why? Don't you like them? Having girls who fawn themselves over you no matter where you are? Or do you not like girls-?" Tine bites his tongue at once when he notices his expression go cold again. Shit. He hadn't meant to say it like that. He internally facepalms himself and dares a glance back at him. "Nevermind. Thanks," comes an abrupt answer and in a blink, he's already walking away.

 

***

 

Unsurprisingly, for the rest of the week, it's his friends who pick up their drinks. Not that Tine cares, not really. Sometimes, Pear would find him glancing at their group, while they worked and look at him with a funny expression. He'd brush her off.

 

It's finally- finally!- Friday and honestly, Tine has never been more grateful about it. He relishes the thought of two days of break from Uni, two days of break from work, as he ties his apron around himself, shooting a small smile at Pear, which she returns back immediately. He'd turned up a little late for the shift- losing track of time while he'd been working on the final draft of the assignment report during his last class- but Pear seemed to have been managing just fine. Fridays weren't really super busy for them.

 

Two hours later, the last customer walks out and Pear turns around to give him a high-five. "Let's close up, shall we?" she says with far more energy than Tine can imagine to muster, and then picking up the cloth wipe, continues, "I'll get the tables cleaned up, you can get the trash?" He nods and then rises up from the bar stool he'd settled on to help her- and all of a sudden, the world around him is spinning. Why is everything spinning? He barely has time to answer that for himself though, because the next thing he knows is Pear is holding him up and helping him back onto the stool.

 

"Tine! Are you okay?- no. That was stupid question. You're so not okay," she looks at him grimly, her brows creased.

 

He shakes his head. "I'm fine. I'm just tired. It'll be all good after a good night's sleep," he tries for a smile but it comes out more as a grimace. Pear bores her eyes into him, not even looking one bit convinced. There was no way he's getting out of this. He's avoided it a lot of times before, but he knew he won't be able to talk out of this one.  "Okay fine, I- I might've skipped lunch," he says quietly and looks down at his fingers playing at the hem of the apron.

 

"This isn't the first time, Tine." He doesn't need to look at Pear to know she's disappointed. He can feel her displeasure in each word she says. "I know." He does know.

 

"So what was it, this time? Late prep for debate club? Last minute extra credit assignment? Cheerleading practice? Or isn't being the Freshman representative on the Student Council enough, that you have some new gig lined up now that I don't know about?" Her tone is rebuking, yet laced with genuine worry. "I had to make some last minute changes on my article for the Uni newslet." He rubs the back of his neck, waiting for her to chew him out. She opens her mouth but then seems to change her mind and just sighs. "You don't have to...try so hard, Tine," he's about to protest, when she grabs his hand and continues, "I'm your friend and I care about you. And...you know you can tell me anything, right?" At this, she gives his hand a reassuring squeeze. He nods at her, feeling guilt creep up his chest. She masks the worry on her face with a smile, before letting go of his hand and getting back to cleaning up.

 

***

 

Monday, Tine feels his lips stretch into an undisguised glee as soon as he sets his eyes on the glass door. Right above the door knob, a sign has been put up that notifies customers about their change in policy : Anybody who wishes to spend any more 15 minutes inside the cafe, is required to order to stay in.

 

His good mood doesn't go unnoticed by Pear, who seemed to have arrived minutes before him and she grins at him.

 

"Sooo, you managed to convince boss, huh?" Pear nudges his arm with her shoulder and winks at him once they get started at the counter, "let it be known that Tine Teepakorn, of the Law faculty, was destined to be a lawyer!"

 

Tine rolls his eyes at her affectionately, "And you speak too highly of me, Pear. Some might get the impression that you're into me."

 

She pouts at him in mock offence and puts her palm on her heart. "Why, Tine? Are you that opposed to the thought of people getting the idea that we're together? Do you think I'm not worthy of you?"

 

Tine shakes his head at her gestures and then smirks,"Be honest, Pear, have you finally given into my charms and moved on from your girl crush guitarist?"

 

Pear's cheeks swiftly redden and she effectively shuts up. A moment later, she grumbles, "I'll get you back for this, Teepakorn." Before he could reply to her however, a certain familiar guy turns up in front of them.

 

He clears his throat. "Uhm, the usual." Tine nods in acknowledgement and is about to turn around to start on it when-

 

"And hey.. thanks." Now, that's odd. Why's he thanking Tine, of all people, suddenly? The expression on his face evidently conveys his thoughts to him, because then he lets out a big exhale and adds, "For putting up the new cafe policy. At least the entirety of them won't breathe down my neck here." Tine raises his eyebrows in a mixture of surprise and confusion. "Ah..but, how do you know it was me? It could be anyone, it could be- Pear." If stares could burn a hole through someone, Tine would've been lying in crumbs across the floor, with the way he's been looking right at him.

 

"I just do." Well, that is a very articulate answer. Tine rolls his eyes.

 

"Well, I didn't do it for you, obviously." He can feel Pear's eyes on him in his peripheral vision and he knows she's going to have something to say about this later.

 

"I know," he says with the same deadpan look, and turns around to walk away before Tine could formulate any reply to that.

 

Tine shakes his head, resignedly. Well, his name was definitely the least weird thing about him.

 

 

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