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Three Time's a Charm

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The first time Casanova came into that particular Starbucks, he was alone. Joseph wasn’t even working register that day—he was on bar, and when he was on bar, his coworkers liked to amuse him with name references on cups. Sometimes customers would give them dirty looks but most of the time they just laughed along.

 So, not only did he not ring up Casanova (whom he and his coworkers had so-dubbed the gorgeous foreigner) but he hadn’t seen his face either. Joseph thought by the name it was some old guy—he never got anyone named Caesar, but nope.

 “I have one whole milk latte for a Caesar Salad!” Joseph shouted, proud of his loud and dramatic voice. “Caesar Salad! Your whole milk latte is ready at the ba—“

 “Excuse me?”

 Joseph blinked, a little miffed by the interruption. The stranger in front of him was not an older guy, no, he was about Joseph’s age, maybe a little older, and his face was just… Breathtaking.

 “I take it that’s my drink, but I don’t know why you’re staring at me so hard.”

 Joseph couldn’t even deny that. He closed his mouth and set the drink on the table. Suddenly his face was warm and he couldn’t make eye contact.

 This never happened.

 “Um, y-yeah! Whole milk latte f-for Caesar…”

 “Oh? But it says here, Caesar Salad.

 “It was just a joke, I can get you a new cup if—“

 “I just want to make sure this is the correct drink I ordered, Signor…” He squinted at Joseph’s tiny nametag on his broad, left breast. “Signor Joseph.”

 Joseph raised a brow. He grabbed the cup again and glanced back and forth between it and the man.

 “Is your name Caesar?”

 “Yes, but—“

 “Did you order a whole milk latte?”

 “Yes.”

 “Then this is yours,” Joseph said flatly. By this point the shit-eating smirk on the man’s face was obvious and he felt silly for thinking that the foreigner was naïve enough to believe it wasn’t his drink because of one extra word. Of course he got the reference. Caesar salad, ha ha.

 “Well, I assure you my name isn’t Caesar Salad,” the man said, smiling. “Just Caesar.”

 Joseph swore he winked at him, too, but no one else was there to witness. His coworker just teased him with things like, “It’s just—just! A little thing, crush!” and he honestly wanted to punch her.

 But there were two important things he realized when Casanova came to visit the second time: one, Joseph was too obvious about his crush on him by the brightened look on his face that he definitelycouldn’t hide from his coworker, though he would never admit to it. Two, Joseph knew that if hiscoworker knew he was crushing hard on Casanova, she’d let him interact with him more—like take his order at the register and make his drink. And three—well, a three had to be added after the second time Casanova came into that particular Starbucks. Joseph only had two realizations up until he saw that Casanova came in the second time with a girl.

 Now, Joseph was pretty openly gay, and pretty damn hotheaded. This combination was absolutely horrible and his coworkers had seen firsthand what his bitter attitude looked like toward people that he just didn’t like in general. They didn’t know how much worse it’d be if unwarranted jealousy was involved.

 They were already worried when Caesar walked up with her arm in his, and instead of switching they kept Joseph at the bar. It’s not like he couldn’t see them, though. They spoke fluidly in their Italian language that Joseph didn’t understand at all, right by the counter, too! Like they were trying to get on his nerves. He called out Caesar’s name monotonously and didn’t make eye contact.

 Because if he started talking to him, Joseph knew his sarcastic tongue would bite back fairly hard.

 It’s not really fair to be so mean about it, he tried to tell himself. It’s not her fault. Well, but it is, though. She’s here and she came with him. Why are all the hot guys straight?

 He got so caught up in his thoughts he didn’t even hear Casanova say anything else.

 “Scusami, Signor Joseph.”

 Dammit, why did he have to go and be so Italian about it.

 “Yes?”

 “The lady wanted whipped cream. Do you mind…?”

 Why don’t you want whipped cream, Casanova? he asked in his head. Too bad Joseph couldn’t speak his thoughts.

 “Sure. Take your top off.”

 He reached down into the fridge to grab a canister of whipped cream. They were both just staring at him when he got back up, though, and the cup still had its lid on.

 “What? Oh—oh, no, I—“ God, that pink on Casanova’s cheeks was cute. The girl, not so much—plus her giggle made Joseph cringe. “I mean, take your lid off.”

 “O-oh.”

 Casanova took the lid off. Joseph, warm down to his neck, topped off the drink and then rushed to the back kitchen to do dishes or something else that would take his mind off of that just happening. It was more embarrassing on their part but had they actually believed Joseph wanted Casanova to take off his shirt!?

 …Not that Joseph would mind, really. The way that shirt stretched over his chest, Joseph could tell that he was muscular, but the sharp angles of his face and the care he took of his hair—it just all balanced out well in Joseph’s head, and indeed he wouldn’t mind if Casanova obliged and took his ‘top’ off.

 The worst however, was the third time Casanova came in. The same girl accompanied him, but this time, she hung back at one of the tables. She kept looking at Joseph and smiling for some reason but he just ignored it. They were busy anyway and he was on bar. He didn’t even notice Casanova’s name and order until he called it out and there he was, dressed ridiculously nice in a casual suit, right at the bar.

 “Do you have a minute?” he asked.

 Joseph’s heart thumped—he didn’t really have a minute, but for Casanova, he’d make one.

 “U-uh, sure,” he said. Attempt 1 to act casual: 0 points, because Joseph had no chill. “What’s up?”

 “My friend over there,” Casanova nodded toward the girl. She glanced up to see them looking and waved. “She thinks you’re cute and would like to know if you’d go on a date with her.”

 “…What?”

 Joseph couldn’t help snorting and had to cover his face to hide his laughter. Was he serious? Was it really not obvious how gay Joseph was? He guessed that maybe all the negative staring he’d done at her back from their last visit might’ve given her the wrong impression.

 “There’s no need to be rude,” Casanova said. “You could have just said no.”

 “I’m not laughing at her,” Joseph said. “Let’s just say you can tell your friend that I think her friend is gorgeous and would like to know if he’d be interested in going on a date with me, say, tonight at 8? But right now, I have to get back to work. See you later, Casanova.”

 Joseph hurried back to the cash register and whispered to his coworker. She looked back at Caesar and nodded, switching with him to do bar.

  The thing is, Joseph didn’t actually expect him to show up just outside the café at 8pm that night.

 “What the hell are you doing here?” he asked. He hadn’t forgotten what he said, but he chalked it up to being an analogy for his absolute gayness.

 “You said you wanted a date, didn’t you?” Caesar asked.

 “I… I thought you were dating her,” he said. “I mean, I guess that was proven wrong today, maybe… Maybe? B-but anyway, aren’t you straight?”

 “Why would you assume that?”

 “She was holding onto your arm…”

 “But she thought you were cute and sent me up there to say so, and you just said that was pro—“

 “Stop throwing my words back at me,” Joseph grumbled.

 “Haha… My apologies, Joseph.”

 His name rolled slowly off of Caesar’s tongue. He wasn’t used to hearing it in full like that, and normally as a barista, Joseph was the one calling out people’s names. It was oddly nice to hear his own name said without an order barked directly afterward.

 “So, where do you want to go?”

 “You’re actually serious?”

 “Yes. Unless you don’t think I’m gorgeous and all of that from today was—“

 “No, no! I meant it. I just… am clearly not prepared,” Joseph said, laughing as he gestured to his work clothes. A t-shirt, apron in hand, and syrup-stained pants.

 But it felt a little easier to be around Casanova—no, around Caesar now, without the bitter tension in his bones from thinking that he was completely straight and dating that girl.

 “It doesn’t matter,” Caesar said with a shrug. He held out his arm and gave Joseph a smile, a goddamn gorgeous smile with that crinkle in his eyes that were sparkling green—and Joseph realized he got lost in the beauty, shaking his head to snap out of it.

 He took the offered arm and grinned.

 “You never answered my question.”

 “Huh?”

 “Where would you like to eat?”

 “Hmm,” Joseph said, tapping his chin with a glint in his eyes. “I think I want Italian for dinner.”

 Caesar didn’t give the response he expected. No, that Casanova leaned in close, ‘til his lips were touching Joseph’s ear, and whispered, “That’s for dessert.

 
 And boy did Joseph get some Italian dessert later that night. They lay in his bed, cuddling, thin fingers combing through Joseph’s even-messier hair, when Caesar began talking.

 “Want to know something funny?” he asked.

 “Hm?”

 “It was all just a plan to get me to talk to you.”

 “What was?”

 “Suzie didn’t really want to go on a date with you.”

 “…What?!”