The line from the counter to the door is about twenty people long, and there are much better things to do than to look to the end of it to see the impatient businessman that has just walked in the door. According to patterns of behavior, he's probably looked at the line, sighed angrily, looked to the ceiling to silently ask 'why do you hate me, oh supreme being of XX doctrine I follow', and then shifted his weight to go back to his oh so important business call on the cellphone practically glued to his face.
It's rush. That insane hour of the morning when there's always a line to the door of people in various states of irritation at how long it takes to get their morning coffee is typically referred to as 'morning rush'. It’s a shame it’s not referred to by it's more applicable name of 'the epitome of suffering at the threshold of Hell'. At least, that's how it feels to the people not waiting in line for their coffee orders. Those people are the people behind the counter, taking seven orders at a time, sweating through their clothes, and trying to smile and please these bitchy customers so they can get a tip for their slavery to this cheerfully time of the day labeled 'rush'.
To the guy that just walked in looking like nothing is as exasperating as this slight inconvenience to his busy busy day as a busy busy businessman, it's a minor thing. His day will go on after this brief moment of frustration. For the people behind the counter who have to be nice to every one of these impatient busy busy businessmen and women that step up to the counter with their negative view on existence, it's a Big Thing.
It's the daily torture that leaves them wasted for the rest of the day and has a running tally in the break room (courtesy of Hoseok) of all the nicknames they've given their clientele.
This one, the man that's just walked in, has been a personal favorite, and somehow always, every time, Jimin gets stuck with him.
"No," Jimin says immediately, turning to look at Hoseok who has taken that exact moment to step back and flag down Yoongi to take over for him at the machines. "No, I hate you."
"Have fun," Hoseok tells him with that sort of forced cheerfulness he adopts every morning to gloss over his internal dialogue of 'I may be plotting mass murder right this second'. When exactly that line of ‘smiling’ snaps, Jimin isn't sure, but he also doesn't ever want to be around when it happens. "Play nice with your friend. He looks so happy to see you."
Jimin doesn't groan. That's unprofessional, and if Ryeowook heard him Jimin would be stuck doing dishes and closing hours for the next month. Instead, Jimin internally screams as he politely, cheerfully, wonderfully, and courteously asks each customer for their temperamental order to be spat at him. On an average morning, Jimin hears about four hundred names pass through the doors and, out of that four hundred, ninety percent can't believe that he hasn't memorized them and their order by now.
Sometimes, on rare days, a customer will be nice and playful and tease him for not knowing their name. Jimin can tolerate these people, sometimes, mostly because at least they're not pissed at him for just trying to do his job and get them their coffee in a timely manner.
That's, essentially, is all he does. Coffee. Jimin, every morning, gets someone their caffeine fix for the day so they can socially interact like normal creatures after their withdrawal symptoms stop. After he sees them.
Of course, this means when they see him, they're on full out monster mode.
Especially the man who had just stepped in a few minutes ago, nineteen names and twenty four separate coffee orders before he arrived at the counter and Jimin's awaiting smile.
"Hi," Jimin says, cheerfully, watching as the businessman in front of him barely even looks at him. "What can I get for you today?"
The man looks almost exactly the same as he does every day. Perfectly crisp white button down held with a perfectly business boring straight black tie, a suit jacket that's either blue, gray, or black (today, it's a soft gray) with matching slacks, and a cellphone that Jimin is entirely sure has been physically attached to him. The only thing that doesn't match everyday is his hair, which is either styled back from his face in a dramatically gelled swoop or softly falls into his face and is still somehow more styled than Jimin can ever be bothered with for his own appearance.
Every day, every single day, this man comes in, orders a venti macchiato somewhere between long sentences to whoever he is on the phone with, and treats Jimin like he's the automated voice on an ATM he's personally offended to interact with.
And every day, without fail, Jimin smiles despite how much he wants to smack the asshole for being such a douche (seriously, everyone is busy, Jimin is so busy his brain is on fire with orders and panic). Everyday, Jimin smiles sweetly after getting the order and asks the man in the nicest, perkiest voice he possibly can; "and a name for that order?"
"Namjoon," the man says. Whether he's speaking to the guy he's talking to on the phone every time he tells Jimin or not, Jimin doesn't really give a shit.
"Great," Jimin says, scribbling 'NnmJo~_' on the cup because he doesn't have time for actual letters with the line now extending out the door. "We'll have that order up in just a second."
The man, ‘Namjoon’, rolls his eyes as if Jimin is wasting his time by breathing and getting him his coffee, before walking off and launching back into whatever ‘more important than anything’ conversation he's having.
This morning is just like every morning, where Jimin's eyes linger on Mr. Busy Busy Businessman Namjoon and he imagines Namjoon's hair bursting into flame. Just casually, normally, bursting into flame and awarding Jimin his vengeance.
"Are you trying to torture me or him with this shit?" Yoongi asks when Jimin hands him the cup with Namjoon's half-assed name and the order 'x'd out in the correct boxes on the side.
"I love you," Jimin frantically tells Yoongi. "I just-"
"Excuse me!" calls the woman at the register who has had to wait for a whole three seconds before Jimin can take her order. Yoongi doesn't even glare over, too busy making three drinks at once while Hoseok works on the other machines and Jimin turns back to the line of customers.
"Sorry, hi," Jimin says, trying not to snarl at the woman’s impatient face. "How can I help you?"
Out of the corner of Jimin's eye, he can see Namjoon get his coffee as he's dealing with another customer placing an order. He can see Mr. Busy Busy Namjoon glance at the name scrawled on the side of his cup, stop walking, frown, and glance over at him briefly.
In that moment, as Jimin almost misses the frantic secretary rambling off his list for his CEO's who may fire him if he comes back with the wrong order, Jimin's life changes.
The man, Namjoon, is offended by the fact that Jimin doesn't have time to write out his full name and have proper penmanship. Suddenly, as the secretary changes his order and Jimin has to turn away and try not to scream as he attempts to erase everything he'd just heard and written on five different coffee cups, he has a small ray of sunshine to ‘morning rush’.
"Why are you smiling?" Yoongi asks him when the line has dwindled down to a manageable ten people a little later.
"No reason," Jimin says, and realizes, with a strange sort of maliciousness he's never felt before, that he is actually smiling and it’s genuine.
Staring at the scribble of blank ink on the side of his venti macchiato coffee cup, Namjoon takes a brief moment to consider whether it's worth his time to say something about it.
"Namjoon, are you there?"
"Yeah," Namjoon tells the man on the other end of the call. "Yeah, sorry, my barista is just a jackass with a rudimentary grasp of word structure."
"Yeah, well," Seokjin sighs over the phone line in a metallic hum. "Think of the educational systems these days. None of them write anymore. They all type. They've lost those proper motor functions."
"Stop making excuses for them, Jin," Namjoon tells his partner. Turning, he pushes the incompetency of the incessantly smiling bubble of sunshine barista that Namjoon sees every morning to the back of his mind. Another day. He'll think about it another day. When he has time.
The irony of that thought is as strong as the sunshine Namjoon walks out into to start his morning.
"Is this going to ruin your day, or can we get back to talking about our current client?" Seokjin asks in his quiet 'I'm being patient right now' voice.
"It's not going to ruin my day," Namjoon tells Seokjin, trying not to frown. As he takes a drink of his coffee, Namjoon is at least comforted that it's made to perfection. It always is, which is why he returns to this coffee shop and it's overly happy baristas every morning.
"Are you sure?" Seokjin asks. His tone suggests that he's intentionally being annoying and smiling about it on the other end of the line.
"Yes, now tell me what the hell our client is scheduled to do with us this morning," Namjoon doesn't have time for Seokjin teasing him. He barely has time to get coffee in the morning with the number of files he has piling up on his desk. “What does he want?”
"They," Seokjin corrects and Namjoon groans.
It's raining. This isn’t so bad, as it usually means that there’s less people rushing in to get their coffee and instead deciding they can go without the risk of getting soaked for a caffeine fix. It means Jimin can breathe a bit more with less frantic heartbeats between coffee orders.
It also means there’s less distractions for him from his Plan.
“What are you smiling about?” Yoongi asks, looking up between coffee orders at the espresso machine. They’ve been on a constant run for the last forty minutes, taking and distributing orders. Hoseok is off today, meaning Jeongguk is at the register with Jimin and making more work for him, but he almost doesn’t mind.
Today, he has something to look forward to.
“It’s almost time,” Jimin says as he steps up to the other espresso machine, three orders in his head and reaching for the coffee. Looking up at the clock, he has about three minutes.
“I thought you hated this guy,” Yoongi says, glancing over at him as Jimin packs down the coffee grounds with a tamper.
“Hate is a strong word,” Jimin says, looking up at the line of people at the counter. “I don’t hate anyone.”
“I don’t think Jimin can legitimately hate anyone,” Jeongguk says, stepping back to grab a muffin from the bakery case. “He’s too nice.”
‘Nice’ is kind of a generous term, especially since Jimin suddenly feels a rush of excitement as a familiar figure steps into the coffee shop. Immediately a frown crosses that serious face at the length of the line, then eyes roll, and Jimin is so ready for this.
On cue, Jeongguk looks over at him in the most obvious way, making Jimin’s earlier reminder of ‘be subtle, though’ evaporate into nothing but coffee fumes. “Smooth,” mutters Yoongi from where he’s wrapping up a large order for the stressed looking coffee boy having a mini panic attack by the ‘pick up’ counter.
Two people from ‘Mr. Business’ and Jeongguk is stepping back, throwing Jimin another look that isn’t subtle at all. Yoongi shakes his head as Jimin steps up, familiar smile on his face, and feeling a growing crawl of ‘retribution’ in his gut.
Just as usual, Busy Busy Businessman has his phone plastered to the side of his face, looks annoyed at the fact that he has to breathe between sentences, and like he doesn't have time to even tell Jimin his order. Jimin smiles at him anyway, asking, “good morning, what can I get for you today?”
Just as usual, the man orders a venti macchiato, and tells Jimin his name when asked. This time, Jimin makes a legitimate effort to write his name, ignoring the way the man looks at him derisively and seems to be battling with whatever conflict is happening on his Important Phone Call.
The name on the side of the cup clearly reads ‘Nahmjun’ before he steps back to make the order, Jeongguk taking over for him. The look Yoongi gives him is nothing short of suffering amusement before he proceeds to make the venti macchiato, Jimin glancing at the next customer looking five minutes away from a temper tantrum.
“Namjoon,” Jimin calls when he puts the coffee out for pick up. Namjoon takes it with barely a look before he’s walking away. Watching as he walks back to the register, Jimin waits for him to notice. Today, Namjoon looks at the side of his cup, as if purposefully checking to make sure it’s his (which is stupid, no one else orders venti at 7:38 every morning). Today, Namjoon pauses again, frown tugging at his lips as he reads his obviously misspelled name, before he actually looks up at Jimin with a blatant accusatory look on his face.
It clearly is meant to convey Just who exactly do you think you are?
And, because that swelling feeling of justice is lacing through Jimin at finally getting something back after months of this man being a rude as sin piece of human to deal with, Jimin actually raises a hand and wiggles his fingers in a mini wave, smiling brightly.
The look on the man’s face has him coasting on a high for the rest of the day. That abject look of how dare he? and Jimin has never been so proud of himself.
“If I’d known all it took was pissing off a few customers to get you this happy, I’d have suggested it a month ago,” Yoongi says when they’re wiping down the counters later.
“I don’t like making them mad,” Jimin says, glancing up from cleaning out the steaming attachments on the espresso machine. “They’re already pissed enough. It’s just-“
“Whatever makes you happy, man,” Yoongi shrugs at him, tossing him a sort of amused smile as he steps around him, pushing around Jeongguk as he returns with fresh bags of coffee.
‘Happy’ doesn’t really explain the feeling Jimin has, but it’s something more like a definite sense of satisfaction at finally getting back at some of the ridiculously rude behavior he’s had to deal with for the last few months.
It’s about time he had his turn.
Today was going to be a good day.
It’s raining, meaning that the weather is perfect for clients to actually try to find something good about the day and negotiations over their conference table are less abrasive. It also means that there’s usually less people keeping Namjoon from his morning cup of coffee that is one of the only highlights of his mornings.
The afternoon coffees are also a highlight, especially since in the afternoon it’s the one break Namjoon has between bickering couples deteriorating into valid proof that romance is dead.
It was going to be a great day. The case that he and Seokjin had been working on was going to come to a close, the couple finally agreeing on terms of their divorce and signing the paperwork. It’s the little things in his week that Namjoon enjoys. Closing disputes between feuding couples with Seokjin at his side, listening to perfectly crafted music playlists that he spends his weekends working on, reading the enthusiastic post-it notes from his secretary after lunch, and his morning coffee, made just for him.
It’s also the little things that have Namjoon stumbling over his own feet, perfect stream of thought and routine crashing to a halt as he reads the perfectly written NahmjuN with a squiggle beside it. This isn’t just an incompetent barista who can’t be bothered to write names properly. This is intentional.
This is a personal attack and Namjoon knows it.
“What the heck?” Namjoon says aloud into the phone receiver, staring at the name even after he’s stepped back outside the café.
“Nothing,” Namjoon tells Seokjin. Outbursts like this over a cup of coffee aren’t what Namjoon should be spending his morning time with. There are far more important things he should be doing with his time, not acknowledging how his barista is a disrespectful child.
Who does he even think he is?.
“What’s your name today?” Seokjin asks, and Namjoon can hear the celebrated amusement on his partner’s voice.
“Shut up.” It doesn’t matter. Namjoon doesn’t care. He has his coffee, his incorrectly labeled coffee, but still his coffee.
There are more important things in life.
“Have you told him off yet?” Seokjin asks.
“We’re not talking about this,” Namjoon tells him firmly. There are much more important things in life, and Namjoon doesn’t have time to amuse Seokjin by getting annoyed at his café barista. He doesn’t.
It doesn’t matter. Namjoon isn’t annoyed. He’s too busy to be annoyed.
“Maybe you can spell your name for him next time,” Seokjin suggests, not even bothering to mask the laughter in his voice.
“Seokjin,” Namjoon tells his partner, slipping back into the driver’s seat of his car. “You’re not funny.”
“I’m kind of funny,” Seokjin tells him. Namjoon rolls his eyes, trying not to sigh into the phone. “You laugh at my jokes.”
“No one else does,” Namjoon points out. “Speaking of which, please don’t make any jokes in the meetings today. I know you’re trying to lighten the mood, but just don’t. I want to close this today, not tomorrow and not next week.”
“Fine,” Seokjin says, the humor fading from his voice. “Enjoy your coffee.”
The thing is, Namjoon does. He always does.
The problem isn’t that Jimin isn’t creative. He is. Jimin is incredibly creative. Granted, he may not be as creative as Yoongi, who spends more time on orders in the afternoon making latte art than he does making sure he has a customer’s order right. He may not be as creative as Jeongguk who is just here making extra pay while he works on his undergrad degree for… something to do with performance art that Jimin doesn’t entirely understand.
But Jimin is creative. He’s extremely creative. He spent an hour on a list of ways to spell Namjoon’s name that is over a page and a half.
The problem is that somehow, despite his efforts, the asshole has somehow gone from giving Jimin the satisfaction of seeing his busy busy expression that doesn’t have time for games contort upon seeing Jimin’s mastery to not reacting at all.
This means one of two things. Either Mr. Busy Busy has stopped caring at all about the fact that Jimin is fed up with his attitude and thus purposefully finding ways to be rude back to his ungrateful attitude or he knows and is now denying Jimin his satisfaction.
Both possibilities make Jimin annoyed, and he suffers another defeat this morning when Namjoon picks up his coffee with barely a glance at the name scrawled on the side before walking off. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
It leaves Jimin frustrated and wanting to run out the door after him and demand how he can ignore something like this.
Jimin even remembers exactly how he likes his coffee. So it’s obvious that he’s doing it on purpose.
What kind of prick is this man?
“Maybe next time you can just drop a shot of caramel in his drink?” Hoseok suggests as Jimin rubs down the milk steamer angrily, staring at the now closed door after Namjoon’s ungrateful back. “Or salt.”
“You’re missing the point,” Jimin sighs heavily, looking over at Hoseok. Seriously, this isn’t about tampering with Namjoon’s drink. It’s deeper than that. It’s personal.
Namjoon isn’t nearly as outwardly expressive when Yoongi sometimes takes his order because Jimin is too busy making an order of seven for a coffee boy and his six CEO’s.
“What is the point, then?” Yoongi asks, passing behind him on his way to the blender for another smoothie.
“One sided love,” Hoseok says and Jimin drops his portafilter.
“Gross,” Jimin says immediately, scrunching up his nose at Hoseok’s proudly grinning face. “Dude, no.”
“I can see it,” Yoongi hums, nodding slowly as if slowly unlocking the secrets of the world.
“No,” Jimin repeats, frowning. He sees this man every morning. He has to deal with his rude attitude and attire that constantly reminds Jimin of how, aside from his uniform, the majority of his wardrobe could be bought with just one of Namjoon’s suit jackets. Which is, in Jimin’s understanding of the world, entirely offensive. “That’s just weird. And wrong.”
“Wrong because it’s so right, or wrong because you won’t accept that it’s right?” Hoseok asks, shoulders bouncing as his eyebrows wiggle in suggestion. He’s smiling the same smile he gets every time he’s intentionally bothering someone. Like now, and when he knows he’s making the secretary coffee boy in the afternoon late to deliver his bosses their drinks.
“Just wrong,” Jimin says flatly.
“Are you saying there’s something wrong with the handsome businessman who you claimed?” Yoongi asks, one eyebrow raised lazily.
“I didn’t claim him.” Jimin isn’t here to be attacked like this. He’s just here for a paycheck and to get back at the rude customers that make his job harder than it needs to be.
“Yeah, okay,” Hoseok is laughing. “You just make sure that you serve him every morning so you can spell his name wrong to get him to notice you.”
It’s at this point that Jimin realizes if he tries to argue any more, it’s not going to do anything aside from dig a deeper hole for himself. Both Yoongi and Hoseok have a habit of knowing how to tease anyone within an inch of sanity, like now, and Jimin cannot win. He works with the tag team from Hell.
“Maybe you should spell his name correctly,” Hoseok suggests as one of their regulars walks in (ironically the secretary that comes in everyday to get his boss’s coffee and is always late because Hoseok won’t stop flirting).
“That’s just letting him win though,” Jimin protests. Hoseok isn’t listening though, already stepping up to the brightly smiling secretary with the too wide square smile that Hoseok says makes him so cute.
“I think you already lost,” Yoongi tells him, patting him on the shoulder absently as he passes.
Jimin won’t give up though. He won’t lose. He just needs to try harder to win, even if he’s not sure what winning really would look like. It’s a goal, and that’s pretty much all Jimin needs to get through the mornings.
On the side of his coffee cup, in perfectly written script, is written ‘No Jams’. It’s been two weeks, and still every day the barista with the nametag reading either ‘Jimin’, ‘Jeongguk’, or ‘HAPPY VIRUS’ has been intentionally writing his name in increasingly insulting ways. It started as just the wrong letters like ‘Namjun’ and ‘NanGoon’ and quickly descended into a downward spiral of rude.
Today is particularly insulting, at least in Namjoon’s opinion. It is so bad, in fact, that he had nearly broken his resolve that morning of ‘don’t let the shit get the satisfaction of your irritation’ as he’d nearly walked back to the counter and demanded an answer for this sass.
It’s been over a week and a half since Namjoon realized the little shit barista with the cute perky smile has been intentionally messing with him. It’s been exactly twelve days since Namjoon decided the best course of action was to completely ignore him (even more than he previously had done).
Today had been a test of his will not to go up to the smiling barista named who knows what and demanding why he’s making Namjoon’s life harder than it ever should be.
“Who does this kid think he is?” Namjoon is still not over this by the time he gets to the office and actually has to look Seokjin in the smirking know-it-all face.
“Your barista,” Seokjin says, looking thoroughly amused that Namjoon can’t deal with a café boy who smiles like he’s made of jelly beans. Actually taking Namjoon’s coffee from him, he checks the name that’s written today. “You know, I thought he’d run out of material, but I have to say I’m actually impressed.”
“I have plenty of jams,” Namjoon is saying. It’s horrible, because Namjoon shouldn’t even be talking about this right now. They have a couple that literally tries to strangle each other every time they’re here coming in a half hour, and yet Namjoon is still pissed about his barista problem. “What is this shit?”
“This is so much better than all of those clichés ever made it sound,” Seokjin is saying, laughing, because he always seems to enjoy when Namjoon is pushed over his proverbial line.
“What clichés?” Namjoon asks, taking an irritated busy no-nonsense sip of his coffee. His perfect coffee. It’s so stupid because his barista is absolute trash when it comes to spelling his name properly but still takes the time and effort to make his coffee perfectly.
“Has he ruined your coffee yet?” Seokjin asks, his pretty mouth quirked.
“No.” This conversation has to stop. Namjoon has it every morning.
“And yet he’s making a point to spell your name wrong so you notice it and, by extension, him,” Seokjin continues, with that look on his face suggesting Namjoon is being slow on purpose and, by extension, stubborn.
“Stop looking at me like that,” Namjoon says, taking the final sip of his coffee. He puts it on his desk, along with all the other coffee cups from the last few weeks with his name spelled wrong. He’s been meaning to throw them out; he just hasn’t had time. So there they are, lined up, mocking him.
“How am I looking at you exactly?” Seokjin asks, still smirking as he watches Namjoon with demon twinkle eyes. “Come on, you’re a smart man. Put the puzzle together.”
Namjoon pauses, turning to Seokjin as he catches the tone of his voice and frowning in an effort to dissuade him from continuing with this nonsense. “No,” Namjoon tells him firmly. “This isn’t your stupid weird romance fanfic I know you read on your phone during breaks. This is just a barista making my life hard.” Seokjin doesn’t appear at all deterred and Namjoon has to close his eyes so he doesn’t get more irritated by the look on his face. “Go pester Taehyung if you want your café romance come to life.”
“But Taehyung’s life is all actual clichés,” Seokjin reminds, leaning his hip against Namjoon’s desk. “We both know that his life is straight out of a movie somehow. The kid actually draws hearts on Taehyung’s cup.”
“And you know this how?” Namjoon asks, one eyebrow raised.
“Tae gave me his coffee accidentally the other day,” Seokjin shrugs. “Imagine my surprise when I had a bouquet of hearts and a phone number on my coffee cup from a guy I’d never met.”
“That must be so rare for you,” Namjoon drawls dryly, throwing a look his way before trying to focus. They need to be in the conference room in twenty minutes for their clients and he needs their paperwork, not Seokjin’s stupid theories on ‘love’.
They’re divorce lawyers. They know better than to believe that these stupid little romances actually mean something.
The barista down the street on Namjoon’s way to the café doesn’t have a weird backwards crush on Namjoon. He’s just annoying, and has somehow singled Namjoon out among his line of customers to irritate and try to get a rise out of and-
“Denial doesn’t look good on you,” Seokjin hums, stepping closer and plucking the folder Namjoon had been looking for from under a pile of papers. “It kind of makes the whole thing better, though I do have sympathy for your barista.”
“Because he’s clearly trying so hard,” Seokjin says, looking almost pitying as he reaches up and gently pokes Namjoon’s cheek. “No Jams.”
The pleased smile on Seokjin’s face at his own jest is enough to give Namjoon the full motivation he needs to drop the whole thing. It doesn’t bother him. There are worse things in life he could be dealing with than a cute barista making a point to be annoying. Next time, he’ll just send Taehyung to get his morning coffee so he never has to see the barista and get agitated like this again.
Of course, it’s half way through the meeting with their belligerent clients that Namjoon realizes just as the wife begins screaming over her husband’s collection of action figures that ‘he always loved more than her’ that he would actually miss his morning coffee routine if he sent Taehyung instead.
In that moment, Namjoon realizes that the best part of his day is going into a café to get his morning venti macchiato from a barista that insults him daily. This is as thought provoking as it is vaguely masochistic, and something that Seokjin cannot, at any cost, ever find out.
It’s been three days. Three days of waking up with a head that feels heavier than a bag of marbles, unable to breathe out of his nose, and Jimin tries to talk and realizes he has the same vocal quality of his temperamental radiator in winter.
Being sick is one thing, but being too sick to even get up and shower for work without feeling dizzy is another.
If Jimin had a different job, like a cashier job where he wasn't handling food, he might suck it up, take a ton of cold medicine, and go to work. However, Jimin works with food, handing people their breakfast and coffee every day, and that’s different.
For the last three days, Jimin has held his breath while making every order (which had been dangerous, he’ll admit), washed his hands obsessively, and drugged himself with multiple cold medicines.
Today, though, it appears the virus has won, and he’s not about to go into work to just get his coworkers sick. Or his customers.
It takes only two rings before Hoseok picks up his phone, answering in a half moaned “nnyeah” that tells Jimin he’d been asleep.
“Shit,” Hoseok says, which is hardly reassuring. “Yo, you sound awful.”
“Thanks,” Jimin tries to say but it comes out more like angry rasping.
“Please tell me you called Ryeowook and aren’t coming in. I don’t want to get sick. I have a life to live, goals to be achieved, people to-“
“I’m staying home,” Jimin cuts him off, not needing Hoseok to elaborate. “I’m going to call Ryeowook in just a second, but I needed to ask you-“
“You’re going to ask me to take care of your orders,” Hoseok says, ever perceptive.
“Yoongi won’t if I ask him, and Jeongguk-“
“Of course Yoongi won’t. A customer could spit on him and he’d make sure his revenge was slow and swift, not obvious and easily confused with bad flirting.”
“It’s not-“ Jimin doesn’t need this. They’ve talked about this. “I’m not-“
“Whatever you tell yourself so you can touch yourself at night without worries,” Hoseok consoles in a lazy sleepy hum. “So, what do I need to do? Apologize for your absence?”
“No,” Jimin shouldn’t have called Hoseok. Now he knows he’s just gonna get shit but at the same time, there hasn’t been a day that he’s missed so far. “I need you to do it for me.”
“Awkwardly flirt with Ninja Jelly?”
“It’s not-“ Jimin breaks into a coughing fit, his throat cutting him off as it burns and he lies back when it’s over, exhausted. “I’m not- whatever, can you just write ‘Nut Job’ on his coffee this morning for me?”
“Do you want me to deliver a personal note as well?” Hoseok asks him in an amused drawl. “Perhaps an apology that you’re not there? A explanation of how much you miss him? Or is just ‘Nut Job’ enough of a confession for you?”
“I hate you,” Jimin says, voice sounding like nails in a blender. “Just do it?”
Hoseok is laughing, and Jimin’s sinus congestion and slowly increasing headache can’t really cope with how loud it sounds over the phone. “I’m sure he can handle one day without you.”
“But-!” Jimin rolls over, scrunching up his face, discouraged as he burrows into bed. He should just give up, but then that’d mean he admits defeat. He’s still not sure how he wins but he knows giving up now is defeat. “I covered for you when that secretary guy came in and you were having an allergic reaction!”
“That’s different,” Hoseok protests. “He actually knows I like him. At least I think he does. I can’t tell because I think he thinks I’m joking, which makes me think I’m joking except I’m not, you know?”
“You owe me,” Jimin reminds.
“Tell you what,” Hoseok says, and a rustle of fabric tells Jimin he’s finally getting out of bed. “I’ll cover for you, and tell Nut Job that you’re sorry you can’t be there, but not to lose hope.”
“Hoseok-!” No. No, no, no, that is not what Jimin wants Hoseok to do.
“Feel better, Jiminnie!” The sudden end of the call has Jimin bolting upright in his pile of a bed, staring horrified at his phone. That’s not what he meant. He doesn’t want Hoseok to do that. Of course, when Jimin tries to call him, Hoseok doesn’t answer, instead sending him a cute text message reading go rest kiddo, you sound like an angry lawn mower in a cement plant. Rest up for No Jams so you can see his handsome face again tomorrow and insult him personally with your affections~*!
They’re not affections! Jimin texts back angrily, calling Ryeowook while he’s still able to think through his headache to tell him he’s not coming in.
Ending the call, Jimin finds a follow up from Hoseok.
You keep telling yourself that XD XD.
This is wrong. It’s so wrong, in fact, that Namjoon has stopped listening to Seokjin talking to him over the phone to just stand at the front of the line and stare at the barista smiling at him.
The barista, not his barista.
“Morning!” says the man labeled ‘HAPPY VIRUS’ with a brilliant grin. “Venti Macchiato as usual?”
Shaking himself from his momentary stupor, Namjoon clears his throat, nodding curtly twice and saying, “yes, thank you” as the barista scribbles the order on the side of a white to-go cup.
It’s wrong because…
“Did your barista boy actually remember you for once?” teases into Namjoon’s ear through the phone, Seokjin sounding entirely full of himself.
“He’s not here,” Namjoon says. It’s like reality has given up. Namjoon has a routine. He comes in every morning on his way to work, orders his coffee from his barista, his barista looks frantic and perpetually happy, and Namjoon’s name is spelled wrong intentionally.
But not today. Today, the world stops making sense as Namjoon goes to get his coffee and reads the perfectly legible ‘Namjoon~*’ written on the side. He didn’t even tell the barista his name, and Namjoon can’t walk away from the counter because it’s all just so wrong.
“Where is he?” Namjoon is asking before he can stop himself, looking around behind the counter. One of the baristas, his hair bleached pale under his work cap, glances up at him with an almost lazy expression.
“Who?” he asks, deep voice drawing out the words over the sound of the coffee machines and morning chatter.
“My-“ My barista sounds very strange. Namjoon clears his throat. “I usually have the same barista every day, and he’s-“
“Oh,” the barista actually pauses, straightening up as he looks at Namjoon curiously. “Jimin? Yeah, he’s out sick today.”
That makes sense.
“I see,” Namjoon says, knowing he should walk away right now before he does something stupid, like ask more questions about this so called ‘Jimin’ (at least the rotating Name tag mystery is solved now). It might make him late for being early to work.
“Do you want me to pass on a message?” the barista asks, and something about the line of his mouth almost looks smug.
“No,” Namjoon says, stepping back and shaking his head, laughing even if there is absolutely nothing funny about the situation. “No, it’s fine. Thank you.”
“I’ll tell him you asked about him,” the barista says with the hint of a smile.
“No, that’s fine,” Namjoon continues. He’s going to be late. He has to go. He’s completely forgotten about his phone call with Seokjin. He didn’t even realize he’d lowered his phone from his ear, thrown because Jimin is out sick. “You don’t have to.”
“Alright,” the barista shrugs, but looks way too smug about something that makes Namjoon’s stomach twist in curious irritation. “Have a nice day.” He smiles, lips pulled back to flash a smile that makes Namjoon think of a squirrel as his eyes crease into nothing. He’s cute as he waves off Namjoon in a sort of tempestuous manner.
Not as cute as Namjoon’s barista, but-
“Thank God, I thought you died,” Seokjin says when Namjoon places the phone back to his ear. “What happened?”
“Nothing,” Namjoon says, shaking himself from his brief stint with unreality. “It’s fine. Everything is fine.” Namjoon takes a sip of his venti macchiato and immediately grimaces.
It’s not bad, per se, it’s just-
“How is your barista?” Seokjin asks, voice needling.
“Not here today,” Namjoon says, frowning at his coffee. It’s not a bad coffee, but it’s like the coffee Taehyung brings in the afternoon sometimes, which never tastes as good as the coffee his barista makes. Jimin makes.
“How tragic,” Seokjin sympathizes. “I’m sorry your romantic saga had to come to a crushing end.”
“Shut up,” Namjoon says, not sure if he’s telling Seokjin or his thoughts though as he walks outside the café feeling agitated and unsteady. “It’s not over.”
The sound of Seokjin’s laughter is so loud Namjoon does the smartest thing he’s done in weeks and hangs up on him.
It takes two days for Jimin’s cold to be manageable enough that he can leave his house for work and eat solid foods. It’s two days of Jimin getting random texts from Hoseok, Yoongi, and Jeongguk during their downtime at work and sleeping, trying to get better.
On the third day, Jimin is both eager to get back to work, and dreading it. He’s still slightly stuffy, but for the most part his outward symptoms are gone. The contagious phase has passed.
“He missed you,” Yoongi tells him when he gets into the café that morning for set up.
“Who?” Jimin asks, ignoring the way his chest fills with anticipation because that’s stupid.
“Your businessman,” Hoseok sing-songs.
“What?” Jimin hides his shock in a fit of coughing, face buried behind his sleeve.
“He asked about you,” Yoongi tells him with a soft of amused smile as he begins warming up the machines for their earlier customers. “I think it’s the first time I’ve ever seen him look connected to the real world.”
On one hand, this is reassuring information. On the other, now it has Jimin waiting and on edge for most of the morning, Hoseok and Yoongi casting him amused looks as he takes orders from irritated and busy busy people trying to get their coffee faster than everyone else in a rush. Jimin is practically levitating, bouncing all around the counters on the tips of his toes, making coffees, getting muffins, taking orders, and smiling nicely the whole time.
In fact, Jimin is so busy doing everything he can to keep himself from thinking about things that he shouldn’t be thinking about because they don’t mean anything, he almost misses the door opening and a familiar figure walking in.
It’s three people from the front when Jimin realizes Namjoon is here, phone against his ears as per usual and the small look of persistent hard-tasked on his face as he looks into space. The difference today is that Namjoon’s hair is just a little bit more styled to look like a gentle mess on his head, a new tawny color that actually looks rather nice on him. The difference today is that he’s wearing a loose scarf around his neck because of the autumn winds outside that had Jimin sneezing when he left his apartment.
The difference is that when Namjoon steps up to the counter, he puts his phone down and actually looks at Jimin, paying attention to him as he waits to give his order.
Not once in the entire time that Jimin has been making Namjoon’s coffee has Namjoon actually looked him in the face when he gets to the counter. It’s… alarming.
“Morning,” Jimin says anyway, pushing on a smile as his nerves buzz. “What can I get for you?”
The corner of Namjoon’s lips twitch, almost like he’s not annoyed to not have his coffee instantly ready, and instead of just throwing Jimin his order as per usual, he pauses before asking for his drink. It’s exactly the same as every morning, and Jimin, on autopilot, asks for his name and tells him to wait please.
Just as every other morning (albeit feeling much more self conscious because Namjoon is just standing there and not on his phone, which is downright abnormal), Jimin makes him his coffee and writes his name on the side of the cup incorrectly.
Just like every other morning, Namjoon takes the coffee when Jimin puts it on the counter. Unlike every other morning, Namjoon doesn’t just walk away looking harried. Instead, he pauses, makes eye contact, and then turns away, without his phone and his typical ‘too busy for anyone but myself’ attitude.
“Wow,” Yoongi says, eyebrows raised and looking realistically impressed. “That was something.”
“What just happened?” Jimin asks, still watching as Namjoon walks towards the exit of the café, already having taken a sip of his coffee. He hasn’t even looked at his name.
Granted, today was a bit half-assed. Jimin is running out of good names, which means they’re a bit-
Suddenly, right by the door, Namjoon stops.
“What did you label his coffee today?” Yoongi asks as Jimin scurries back to the register and the next customer. Yoongi watches with interest as Jimin begins to panic slightly, not used to Namjoon actually walking back to the counter now that he has his order.
What if he wants to talk to him? What if he’s finally managed to get under his skin with his name butchering? Jimin wasn’t ready for this, suddenly realizing that perhaps, in all respects, this is winning whatever game he’d been playing with Namjoon.
Suddenly, Jimin doesn’t want to play, just perhaps hide behind Hoseok until Namjoon goes away.
“Excuse me,” Mr. Businessman Namjoon says as Jimin hops behind one of the espresso machines with a woman’s order scribbled all over the side of a to-go cup. “Jimin?”
Stay calm, says a voice that sounds obnoxiously like Yoongi’s in the back of his head as Jimin looks up, trying to smile and look easy to work with. “Yes?” How the Hell does Namjoon know his name? “Is everything alright? Is there something wrong with your coffee?”
“No,” Namjoon says, and presses his lips together as he looks at Jimin over the counter. Jimin realizes Namjoon is quite tall, able to see over the espresso machine to look at him where Jimin has to lean up to see him. Why is he here?. Why is Namjoon talking to him in a nice person voice rather than irritated and annoyed and yet Jimin still feels an odd sense of satisfaction because - “No, my coffee is fine, it’s just-“
Jimin, in a fit of panic as something in his too slow mind finally clicks, turns on the espresso machine before Namjoon can finish talking.
’New Jersey’ is what is written on the side of the coffee cup. If there was ever a question of where the limit was, Namjoon has just found it.
What is surprising is that unlike the earlier moments when Namjoon couldn’t be bothered to deal with his shit head of a barista who kept rudely spelling his name wrong, now, he’s basically amused. Though really, he’s just more invested in how ‘New Jersey’ is a complete stretch, even to the best of imaginations.
Jimin can do better than this (or at least Namjoon has somehow convinced himself of this in the span of time that he’s known Jimin. Which is actually no time at all, considering they technically don’t know each other. Semantics).
It had been a nice start. Namjoon hadn’t even called Seokjin this morning and Seokjin, for one of the rare new trends he’s developed, hadn’t called him either. It meant a completely different morning for Namjoon, where he could head to work and not already feel rushed because of a client that had done something stupid or changed a document or hit their spouse with a pipe over a ‘dispute’.
For once, Namjoon walks out in the pleasant autumn weather, and actually has faith in humanity and people in general. It just keeps being a nice day, from walking into the welcoming scent of coffee and seeing his barista behind the counter with the other two baristas (Hoseok and Yoongi. Namjoon had discovered their names while Jimin was sick) work on the espresso machines. Jimin’s cheeks are a little flushed, and he practically bounces around behind the counter, smiling at every customer he meets as he takes their order.
Most of the customers, Namjoon realizes, are rude assholes. There is also the fact that he realizes, while standing in line and listening to a woman two ahead of him rambling to her secretary (presumably) authoritatively, that he used to also be exactly like these assholes. Today is different though. Today is a new day.
Today, Namjoon isn’t on his phone with Seokjin updating him on how marriage and romance are dead (with the only exception being whatever is going on between their secretary and Hoseok).
Today, Namjoon smiles when he finally gets to the counter and gets Jimin’s bright attention on him. Today, Namjoon notices how Jimin listens to him, how he does the same thing he does every day and Namjoon realizes he missed him.
It’s a strange feeling to realize that he’s oddly possessive and protective of a barista he’s never technically met aside from being separated by a counter.
It’s even stranger when Namjoon wants to linger, to pause and just say something more than “thanks” to Jimin after getting his perfectly made venti macchiato.
Then he looks at his coffee cup, reads ‘New Jersey’, and is turning around before he realizes it. It almost feels like it’s going well, seeing as Namjoon can finally get to the bottom of this and clear things up so that he can go back to the office and Seokjin’s anticipatory face and tell him no, café romances only exist in fanfic and in the strange warped reality their secretary somehow manages to live in.
Then Jimin’s face does something, and as Namjoon tries to say “it’s just the fact that you wrote my name as New Jersey and that’s seriously pushing it”, Jimin cranks up the espresso machine with cheeks bright red.
“I’m sorry,” Jimin says once the machine turns off, looking away with jerky movements. “What were you saying?”
Namjoon takes a breath to keep himself calm and proceeds with his quiet reprimand. “I was just going to say that you wrote my –“
The espresso machine screams back into life, this time steaming milk and Jimin’s face goes pink, looking over the espresso machine he is operating with the kind of expression saying ‘wow, what a nasty coincidence I turned this on at the exact same moment you were trying to communicate with me. How unfortunate.’
“I did what?” Jimin asks, looking up with a sort of innocence that Namjoon isn’t quite so convinced of anymore. In fact, it’s deteriorating quickly, despite how Jimin’s cheeks are either a suggestion of him blushing (to prove Seokjin’s theory) or indication of a horrific fever.
“You wrote my-“
“Tall triple shot soy caramel macchiato with cinnamon!” Jimin shouts, suddenly jerking over to the ‘pick up’ counter with the coffee he’d just made and leaving Namjoon extremely ruffled.
He’s going to be late. He has things to do this morning and if only Jimin would just-
“Can you just-“
“I’m sorry, what were you saying?” Jimin asks, accepting a to-go cup from Hoseok as he’s given another order. “Something about names?”
The espresso machine roars to life along with Namjoon’s temper. Who does this Jimin barista think he is? Namjoon has things to do this morning! Meetings to go to, people to keep from strangling each other in their mediation sessions, Seokjin to scold for reading fanfic instead of doing his damn job and-
“Excuse me!” Namjoon calls over the scream of the steamer attachment as Jimin focuses on coffee and not Namjoon.
“I’m sorry, what?” Jimin asks, looking half guilty, and half pleased. This little shit. “We’re a bit busy this morning.”
“Yes, well, I’m busy as well-“
The steamer screams back on and suddenly, as Namjoon waits and feels his irritation crawl into his stomach, he catches the vaguely pleased look on Jimin’s face and realizes this, all of this, is on purpose.
As soon as the machine turns off, Namjoon doesn’t bother to be polite about anything and instead just loudly states, “my name isn’t New Jersey.”
“I know,” Jimin says, his smile positively radiant as he looks up at Namjoon with his eyes dancing right before he turns on the espresso machine again. It turns off as Namjoon stares in indignant shock and irritation. “It’s Namjoon.”
“Then why can’t you just-“
“I’m sorry,” calls Jimin as he rushes off to deliver his order, hopping behind a register as Yoongi slides to take his place at the machine. “Very busy today!”
It had started out as a nice day, and yet Namjoon just stands and stares at his barista in indignation as Yoongi watches him with a sort of lazy interest, fixing a few green tea lattes.
“He has a break during lunch,” Yoongi says amid Namjoon’s internal dialogue of how dare he?.
“What?” Namjoon asks, snapping irritably to the present and looking at Yoongi with a small frown.
“Jimin,” Yoongi says, nodding over to the barista smiling cheerful at disgruntled customers. “We’re usually less maxed out then.” The look Yoongi gives him looks pointed and eerily similar to something Seokjin might direct at him. Except Namjoon might usually ignore Seokjin whereas Yoongi’s look has him walking out the door, planning to come back later.
Seokjin actually takes his coffee from his hands this morning, turning the cup until New Jersey is visible at which point he laughs directly in Namjoon’s face, loudly enough that Taehyung starts laughing too despite how he has no idea what’s so funny.
“We’re getting lunch at that café today,” Namjoon tells Seokjin.
“Can I come?” Taehyung asks, perking up with eyes that are too eager and happy for the real world and a divorce lawyer’s firm.
“Sure,” Namjoon sighs, shaking his head and pulling his scarf off. Catching Seokjin’s smug look, he rolls his eyes. “Stop.”
“I didn’t say anything,” Seokjin laughs.
The problem is, Seokjin didn’t have to for the words I told you so to travel along the contours of Namjoon’s brain.
Yoongi is the devil. For all his cute smiles and ways of charming even the nastiest customers, Jimin, in this moment, understands that Yoongi is nothing more than a demonic envoy sent to ruin his life.
Yoongi, incidentally, looks completely unashamed of his behavior. “I just figured it’d be easier for him to have an awkward conversation with you about nomenclature if it weren’t morning rush,” Yoongi says, shrugging in that ‘I don't care, I never care, man,’ way. “Lunch works.”
“But!” Jimin isn’t even sure how to continue, and therefore just stares pointedly at Yoongi after his exclamation.
“Consider it a chance for your love to finally grow,” Hoseok tries to soothe, though it ends up feeling more like being slimed as he slinks his way to Jimin’s side. “Now you can finally talk to your hot crush.”
“Why do I know you people?” Jimin whimpers, a hand over his face to symbolize the hardship of his life.
It gets worse, Yoongi taking break exactly when the door opens and Jimin looks up to see Namjoon walking into the café with two other men. One of them he knows, actually kind of likes to see. A smiling guy who laughs at everything even if it’s not funny (and even in silences, making them simultaneously less and more awkward).
As if magnetic, Namjoon’s eyes find him, and Yoongi just shrugs in the ‘I can do absolutely nothing about this now but I’m not sorry about my actions at all’ manner as he slips out back for his own lunch break. Hoseok makes a point of organizing the sandwich and food display case, meaning Jimin is the one at the counter when Namjoon walks up to place the orders for his friends and himself.
Jimin smiles, pushing down the nerves of not having a line to hide behind. This morning had been nice, where his panic had quickly dissolved into realizing that he still liked to push Namjoon’s buttons because it made his ears and cheeks turn pink.
Of course, he didn’t tell anyone that, but somehow Hoseok figured it out anyway and then told Yoongi about it with embellished story elements (like Jimin giggling, which absolutely didn’t happen even a little bit).
“Hi,” Namjoon says, stepping up to the counter and speaking before Jimin can rattle off his usual greeting.
“Hi,” Jimin replies. “What can I get for you?”
“An answer,” Namjoon says, which is definitely not on their menu.
“What?” Shit. Shit, hell, damn, crap, oh snap.
“What kind of sloppy misspelling is New Jersey?” Namjoon asks, even grimacing at how crap it was. “That doesn’t even make sense.”
“It kind of makes sense,” Jimin protests, even if he kind of agrees. It was him grabbing at straws, but he has no idea if Hoseok used ‘Nut Job’ while he was gone and-
“Not really,” Namjoon tells him, talking like they know each other. Like they’re friends or something. It’s strange because Jimin has never actually had a conversation with Mr. Busy Busy Cell Phone Businessman Namjoon before, just made his coffee every morning and known how his hair is always styled up when he’s late because… “It’s barely even close to my name.”
“I was taking artistic liberty,” Jimin tells him.
“No Jams was better,” Namjoon answers.
“I can’t use the same name twice though that’s-“ Jimin stops, blinking as he realizes “-did you just compliment-“
“I mean, it’s wrong,” Namjoon is saying, his ears turning a bit pink as he stands up a bit straighter, face turning slightly more serious. “I have jams. I have lots of jams. You don’t even know how many jams I have.”
And somehow, despite all the weeks of watching Namjoon walk into the café to look irritated at life and Jimin breathing near him without his coffee instantly materializing for him, Jimin finally understands. Namjoon, under all his professionalism and dickish manners, is cute.
It’s not the normal cute, like puppies or Jeongguk’s general existence, but cute in the way that he pouts when he’s on the phone talking to whoever it is he’s arguing with, and scrunches up his nose when he’s impatient. It’s the kind of cute that’s not obvious, except for now, when Jimin can finally see it.
“Was I supposed to know?” Jimin asks seriously, watching as Namjoon does an adult professional pout at him.
“No,” Namjoon admits. “But hell, even that was better than New Jersey.”
“I’ll try something different next time,” Jimin says, and is maybe smiling. So is Namjoon. It’s odd, but not really, just in the kind of way that Jimin isn’t sure should be happening but isn’t going to stop it anyway. Maybe this is winning. “Or now, considering you haven’t ordered yet.”
“Right,” Namjoon says, and clears his throat, face going suddenly serious as he looks back up at the menu. When Namjoon tells him his order this time, it’s not bitten out at him, not thrown across the counter, and for once Jimin actually doesn’t feel like he’s forcing his smile (admittedly, he hasn’t been forcing one since this morning, but that’s besides the point). Namjoon doesn’t just order either, he loiters by the counter, asking Jimin a few more simple questions and making comments like “it’s so quiet here in the afternoon” and “is your name really Jimin?”
“Anything else?” Jimin asks, putting the orders of lunch on a tray at the ‘pick up’ area. The coffee Namjoon had ordered, another venti macchiato, is labeled with a last minute bullshit name as the others are all correctly labeled according to what drink it is.
“No, I think I’m all set,” Namjoon says, and steps up to the counter. He doesn’t take the tray though, and Jimin, even if he kind of wants to laugh because he’s discovered over the last few minutes of preparing Namjoon’s order that he’s not only oddly cute under all of his serious busy businessman calls, he’s also awkward.
In a nice way.
The kind of way that Jimin doesn’t mind, not in the way that some people are that just makes him uncomfortable.
“Are you sure?” Jimin has to ask, he just does. “Nothing? We have some great cakes you might be interested in.”
“Or his phone number,” Hoseok calls over to them, passing by as he hauls a few gallons of milk from the back and grinning helpfully. The problem with Hoseok is that he’s got the worst (or best) timing in the world, meaning that Jimin now has to look back at Namjoon laughing like Hoseok is clearly joking because there’s-
“He’s doesn’t really-“
“Sure,” Namjoon says. The look on his face tells Jimin that he hadn’t meant to say that, is shocked that he said it, which is nice. It means both of them are mostly shocked, except Namjoon is trying to be subtle about it and Jimin doesn’t even think he can try. It’s also nice that Namjoon doesn’t try to take it back, laughing or dropping something along the lines of ‘ha ha your face just now’ and instead just pulls his bottom lip between his teeth and looks at least three times as awkward as before.
Perhaps it’s because for the last three weeks, Jimin has spend his time actually watching Namjoon to try to get a kind of rise out of him or because he’s feeling spontaneous today or because he kind of likes how awkward Namjoon looks, less ‘busy impatient more important than anyone else businessman’ and more ‘shit, shit, shit, my dignity is on fire but I have no water’. Perhaps it’s because maybe Hoseok was right and he does kind of think Namjoon is handsome and actually likes the attention (especially now it’s positive) but Jimin shrugs and steps back from the counter and says with a smile, “no.”
“No?” It’s funny because Namjoon almost drops the tray, looking vaguely destroyed and Jimin smiles with that rush of satisfaction that he’s found addictive when it comes to Namjoon.
“My shift ends at five,” Jimin says casually, even as he can feel his smile on his face. It’s so nice to smile again, to actually want to smile.
For a moment, Namjoon just stands there looking confused, and then, to Jimin’s suffering life (because of course life is like this), he just says, “okay” and walks back to his friends.
“Did he ask for your number?” Hoseok asks, looking eager and bright eyed. Jimin can almost see the puppy dog tail wagging behind him as he waits for Jimin to give him good news.
“No,” Jimin says, and glances back at the table where Namjoon and his friends are talking. The friends, especially the nice secretary, are looking as confused as Jimin feels. “I think I’m being trolled.”
“By who?” Hoseok’s face has morphed into the perfect tapestry of concern. “Namjoon?”
“Destiny,” Jimin answers and goes to take out the trash with a vague sense of disorientation.
The way Seokjin is looking at him should be outlawed for sanity preservation. “So?” Seokjin asks, a smile that asks for good answers and won’t accept anything but greeting Namjoon as he returns with their food. “How did it go?”
“I got our food, what does it look like?” Namjoon says, sitting down still with his frown on. “Now eat it before I change my mind about this.”
“Did something happen with you and Jimin?” Taehyung asks, leaning forward to get his sandwich and looking concerned, his big eyes and big mouth both wide in expectation. “It looked like it was going well. Hoseok even laughed and gave you a thumbs up.”
“What did you do?” Seokjin says, frowning at him in preemptive disappointment.
Namjoon is indignant. This isn’t even a thing. It’s not supposed to be a thing. He just was going to figure out why Jimin had stooped so low as to label him ‘New Jersey’ and instead got turned down for a phone number. “I didn't do anything!”
“That’s probably the problem,” Taehyung says, voice and gaze laced with sympathy. “You know, if you don't reach out for the things you want or love, they’ll fall away from you. Like leaves from a tree or a bad game of Jenga.”
“A horrible- what?” Of all times that Namjoon needs Taehyung to make sense, now would be one of them.
“Taehyung, honey, that doesn’t make sense,” Seokjin says in a soothing and patronizing voice, smiling in what Taehyung refers to as a ‘motherly way’. Then he turns to Namjoon and the expression vanishes into a look of pure abrasive judgment. “You could at least have asked for his number or something. You were up there fidgeting for a good ten minutes.”
“I did,” Namjoon defends himself. The look on Seokjin’s face it is worth the admission of his split second lapse in judgment, and the look on Taehyung’s face is priceless. The shame though, Namjoon could do without that.
“And?” Seokjin has never looked so urgent in Namjoon’s entire time of knowing him.
“He told me no,” Namjoon says, and smiles with the bitterness of his life. Exactly like his coffee, except without the milk. “Romance is dead.”
“He just told you no?” Taehyung asks, putting down his sandwich. It’s impressive really, how Namjoon’s failure of a life has managed to distract Taehyung from one of the few joys in his life; food. “That’s it?”
“Yeah,” Namjoon says, reaching for his coffee with the same bitter feeling in his gut he used to have every morning that started with a pessimistic phone call from Seokjin. “Just said no and told me he’s off work at five. Which is-“
“-completely irrelevant, I don’t even get done with work until-“
“Namjoon.” Seokjin looks so ready to smack him Namjoon actually leans back in his chair when he looks up. Breathing in to calm himself, Seokjin just nods at his venti macchiato. “Look at your coffee. Right. Now.”
Aware of self preservation and its immediate relevance when Seokjin’s temper is involved, Namjoon does as he’s told. There, in large black letters, are the words ‘Nice Jawline ~ :)’.
“Oh,” says Namjoon.
“You’re the most helpless human I have ever had to work with,” Seokjin tells him with a smile that doesn’t match his insults. “Go find that poor boy before his soul is crushed by your incompetence.”
“I’m on break,” Jimin gruffs around his bite of egg salad sandwich, not bothering to look up at Hoseok’s tentatively caring voice. “Seriously, I only get two of these all day, can’t you just-“
“Okay, okay, calm down, it’s just No Jams wants to chat and I thought you might want to know,” Hoseok says blithely, hands up as he steps out of the back room. “You know, just in case he’s come to beg for peace with you so you don’t pour salt into his coffee tomorrow or-“
“I’m not going to pour salt into his coffee,” Jimin defends, turning to Hoseok. This is a trick. It’s probably is a lie. Hoseok has taken on the role of Destiny in his life and is trolling him.
“I think Yoongi would for you if you don’t want-“
“No,” Jimin says, frowning. “If anyone were going to pour salt into his coffee, it would be me, but I don’t want to pour salt into his- would you stop?” Hoseok doesn’t, continuing to grin amusedly at him as Jimin sighs, wipes his mouth, and stands up. “This is not taking out of my lunch break,” Jimin tells him.
“Not at all,” Hoseok says with a definite nod. “I wouldn't dream of questioning that. Lunch break is sacred.”
Behind the counter, holding his venti macchiato and looking vaguely anxious and reminiscent of the many mornings Jimin had watched him suffer through a coffee line, Namjoon is waiting. “Hello,” Jimin says, stepping up to the register and putting on a pleasant ‘I’m your barista and that’s about it’ smile. “How can I help you?”
“Five o’clock?” Namjoon says, eyebrows raised as if they’re the ones asking Jimin the question and not Namjoon.
“I’m sorry, we don’t have that on the menu,” Jimin answers.
“No,” Namjoon frowns in a mix between frustration and pouting. He sighs, fingers shifting around his coffee, before he fixes Jimin with a concentrated look. “I’m not ordering something.”
“Then what do you want?”
“To know if you really think I have a nice jawline.”
Jimin blinks at the unexpected request and the even more unexpected look of timid anticipation from Namjoon. Every morning Namjoon had walked into the café looking like he’d convinced himself and knew he was well on his way to convincing half the world that he was good looking.
“Maybe,” Jimin answers. “Why?”
“I was just wondering,” Namjoon tries to shrug off, but his ears turn pink and it’s still cute. “I was also wondering,” he continues as the door to the café opens. “If I came by at five, if you’d be here.”
Just like that, the business professionalism and cold cut frost superiority is gone and Namjoon is what Jimin has slowly been seeing over the last few weeks. An awkward, kind of cute, hesitant man who takes himself too seriously to believe anyone else ever would.
“No,” Jimin says, and smiles with a laugh as that satisfaction at Namjoon’s suddenly fallen face warms through him. It’s fun to watch Namjoon’s confusion, but it’s even more fun to watch that spark of reignited happiness and success when Jimin finishes, “I’d be on the other side of the counter by that time.”
For the first time since Jimin had seen Namjoon walk into the café, he sees him smile. Not just a small confused smile that wasn’t sure if it should be there or not, but a real smile, genuine and pleased.
That smile, that flash of teeth as the cocky attitude drops, Jimin likes that look the best on him.
“I’ll see you then,” Namjoon says, stepping back and looking extremely proud of himself.
“Don’t be late,” Jimin calls, and grins himself when Namjoon frowns at him briefly. “I’m a very busy person, New Jersey.”
This, this feeling of rushing satisfaction at Namjoon’s shocked face as his friends burst into laughter at the table behind him, this is victory. Jimin has finally figured out what winning is, and he can legitimately say he’s pleased with the result.
It’s a busy morning. Extremely busy. There is a line out the door of customers waiting for their coffee, all impatient, all busy, all worried they’re going to be late for this extremely important thing all because of the baristas who are ‘too slow’. It’s an insane morning, where apparently everyone is running late, including the baristas who were one crew missing until the peak of rush and have been playing catch up.
So by the time the man in the black slacks and plain white dress shirt steps up to the counter after a woman who had considered it an outrage that they were out of breakfast bananas, it’s a breath of fresh air.
“Oh, it’s you,” the slightly frantic looking barista says, his usually extra cheerful how are you today smile finally relaxing as he catches sight of his customer.
“Rough morning?” Namjoon asks, smiling in sympathy as Jimin grabs a to go cup and fills out the order without even pausing.
“Yoongi was late this morning,” Jimin says, brows furrowed in concentration as he punches in the drink order to the register. “I swear, us mingling friend groups? Worst decision ever.”
“I still maintain it was a good idea,” Namjoon says with a smile, stepping back as Jimin swaps with Jeongguk for an espresso machine, trying to move the line quickly. “They all get along well enough.”
“You just say that because it’s more convenient this way and you get a buffer from Seokjin’s nagging,” Jimin points out, but his smile is teasing, eyes softer and less panicked than when they’d looked up at Namjoon behind the register. “Do you want orders for them too?”
“Just me,” Namjoon answers, and passes his card over to Jeongguk as Jimin finishes up his drink. “Thank you,” Namjoon tells him sincerely, accepting the coffee and Jimin’s warm smile when it’s offered to him. “I’ll see you tonight?”
“If I’m still alive,” Jimin says with a laugh that has Namjoon smiling even as he watches him in sympathy.
“Excuse me,” says the young woman at the register, frowning as Jimin hops back on a register. “I’ve been waiting for the last ten minutes, can you please-“
“And they’ve been working hard to try to get to you as fast as they can,” Namjoon cuts in. It’s not his place (at least, probably not) and he knows Jimin is frowning at him (even if Namjoon knows he’s secretly grateful) but Namjoon can’t really help himself. “Does it look like they’re ignoring you? They’re just as busy, if not busier than you are.”
“I’m sorry, who are you?” the woman asks, looking at Namjoon sharply, leaning away in poorly repressed offence.
“A former asshole,” Namjoon tells her pleasantly. “The good news is, you can become one too.”
The woman looks so shocked, Namjoon considers his work well done as he steps away from the register and Jimin’s tightly pressed closed mouth to keep down his laughter. From one of the machines, he hears Hoseok give a soft whoop and raises his hand in a wave as he takes his leave.
“Good morning, No Jams,” Seokjin says, spinning in Namjoon’s chair at the office, a smile on his face that is too bright and smug for this early in the day. “How’s my favorite barista?”
“He was late to work because of you,” Namjoon tells him, kicking him out of his chair. “You owe Jimin a personal apology.”
“I trust you to convey my condolences,” Seokjin says with mock sincerity before he steps back with a laugh and a grin. “Ready for our first clients?”
Letting out a long sigh, Namjoon shakes his head and looks down at his desk, still strewn with papers, but less morbid and soul crushing than they had been a year ago. That’s the change that happens when you switch professions from a divorce lawyer to the legal representative to the local music company. Seokjin had latched onto the idea, and Taehyung had managed to actually snag a role among the production team with, incidentally, Hoseok (when he wasn’t working on coffee service).
It also lets Namjoon finally, finally do something with all his weekends spent in his private hobby as a music enthusiast, applying his know-how to the industry amid reviewing copyright laws and licensing.
It’s a better world, with less early morning phone calls that ruin Namjoon’s mood before it can establish itself.
And, of course, the perfect venti macchiato labeled correctly every time Namjoon goes at picks it up in the morning.
“I still can’t believe he actually writes ‘Rap Monster’ on your coffee every morning,” Seokjin says, stealing Namjoon’s coffee and taking a sip of it.
Shrugging, Namjoon steals back his coffee, smiling at the familiar handwriting displaying the nickname Yoongi had given him that one time they all decided to get very drunk and go to karaoke. “I like it,” Namjoon says, grinning at the small smiley face just below the nickname.
“Gross,” Seokjin informs him with a contradictory sweet smile. “Alright, I’m off to check up on recording. Enjoy your romantic coffee experience.”
“I shall,” Namjoon tells him, smiling as he takes a sip. He always does.
☆ ★ fin ★ ☆