Bodhi Rook has undoubtedly become a cliché. It’s one thing being a barista at a locally family owned coffeehouse, trying to earn his living and pay rent; it’s a whole other thing in its entirety to have a crush while on the job. On a customer, no less. A very handsome customer at that.
Truth be told, it’s not even necessarily Bodhi’s fault. The customer in question? Cassian. Bodhi has written his name enough to have the name echoed in the back of his mind every time he shows up. Dark eyes that hold more than he lets himself show with mussed hair, an almost permanent stoic expression on his face unless he’s thanking Bodhi for the coffee, and the way he holds himself confidently and with a sense of purpose, just happens to exactly be Bodhi’s type.
It’s made even worse that Cassian has come in nearly every day since Bodhi first got the job, sitting at a table that’s in a perfect line of vision from where Bodhi works behind the counter. It’s distracting, to put it lightly.
The same table Cassian happens to be currently sitting at right in the moment, headphones resting against his ears and blasting some sort of music, occasionally taking a sip from his coffee cup as he stares unblinking at the laptop screen before him. Multiple opened textbooks and loose-leaf papers litter around him as he taps it lightly against the wooden table. The life of a college student; Bodhi can sympathize, even if he is only part time.
His work ethic is admirable.
“You think Bodhi will actually say something to him this time?” Chirrut asks as he wipes along the counter, like Bodhi isn’t standing right next to him and hearing every single word that leaves past his lips. “He is still here, isn’t he? Cassian? I’m sure he is. Bodhi's been far too quiet over there.”
Bodhi clears his throat, making his presence known. He says, “I’m right here, you know.”
“Yeah, Cassian’s still here,” Baze says in response to Chirrut, ignoring Bodhi’s comment, too busy fixing one of the busted machines to give the conversation his full attention. “And I doubt Bodhi will do anything. He’ll just keep staring like he has been this entire week.”
Chirrut gives a tsk tsk, faux disappointment edging into his voice. “A shame.”
Chirrut and Baze, not much older than Bodhi himself, are two of the first friends he’s made here at the Rebel’s Coffeehouse (owned by the lovely Organa’s, created in response on their united hatred for corporations, something Bodhi can understand personally). Inseparable and desperately in love with each other, but Chirrut and Baze also happen to be two of the worst gossipers Bodhi’s ever known. All he’s grateful for is that Cassian can’t hear them from this distance, especially considering neither of them are making no effort to keep their chatter about Bodhi’s nonexistent love life quiet.
“I’m—I’m not staring at anyone,” Bodhi splutters, heat creeping up his ears as he tears his gaze away from Cassian and refocuses his attention back to counting up the money in the register. “It’s a slow day. It’s not too hard to believe that I’d just let my mind wander.”
“I may be blind, but I don’t need to see to know when someone’s pining,” Chirrut says, teasingly and knowingly all at once.
Bodhi is sure Chirrut has some secret all-knowing other worldly power that no one can prove, but his claims more often than not go unheard.
Perhaps the worst part is that they’re both actually right. All this time since Bodhi’s worked here, which arguably is not that long to begin with but still, and he hasn’t spoken to Cassian besides the greeting Chirrut had insisted he learned and taking Cassian’s order, let alone actually entertain the thought of making a move. There’s hardly any room for him to complain about the gossip if he doesn’t plan on doing something.
As he watches Cassian exit the shop, everything all packed, with a little ding of the bell from above the doorway, Bodhi figures it might be time to change that.
When Cassian walks in the next morning, shivering off the rain and cold from the downpour outside, already walking towards the counter with a sense of purpose and need for coffee, Bodhi figures now’s as good as any time to take that chance.
“Cassian,” Bodhi greets, trying desperately to hide any indication of nerves and to appear at least somewhat casual. Being able to clearly and efficiently deliver directions and communicate with customers was originally why he had been hired, but now, he feels himself struggling to even get simple words out. “Let me guess, you want a Vanilla Latte? Hot? Looks like it’s a bad one out there.”
The expression in Cassian’s face lights up when Bodhi mentions him by first name—the stoic, disgruntled expression from the cold melting away into a tiny smile that Bodhi realizes looks really good on him. “You know my name,” he says, a pleased edge to his voice. “But yeah, that’ll do. Make it an extra shot of caffeine? I… have a long day today.”
“Well, yeah. You’ve been in here practically every day, it’d be um—hard to forget,” Bodhi says, before he snorts at what Cassian had said. “And no problem. Hitting the books again?”
Cassian sighs, patting his backpack in resigned designation. “Yup. Life of a college student and all that,” he says, tone light—definitely something Bodhi hadn’t been expecting. There’s a brief pause, the corner of his mouth twitching into a half smile. “I couldn’t help but notice you didn’t do the greeting this time.”
Damn. Bodhi had foolishly thought he’d have slid past that. He groans playfully, already ticketing in Cassian’s order. “Oh, yeah. That. They,” Bodhi points at Chirrut and Baze, who are too casually wiping down a few tables, acting as if they weren’t listening, “Thought it’d be funny to trick me, considering my last job.”
“Wasn’t me, it was all Chirrut’s idea,” Baze chimes in, just as Chirrut chuckles to himself. “Although it was pretty funny.”
Cassian glances at Chirrut and Baze, the latter giving the other a wave. He gives them a small shake of his head, but when he’s turning his attention back to Bodhi, he’s grinning, face lit up with amusement. “Ah, what was your last job?” And before Bodhi has the chance to overthink and wonder if the other was genuinely curious or just being polite, Cassian adds, “Oh no. Don’t tell me you’re going to stop with the greeting then. It was new for this place.”
“Imperials Coffee Inc. Another coffee gig, but with worse treatment and even worse pay,” Bodhi answers, before he shakes his head with a snort. Cassian crinkles his nose at the mention of the last job, and Bodhi can’t help but find the action in itself adorable. He has to collect himself. “And no, no. I had been embarrassing myself as the new guy long enough, there’s no way I’m doing it again.”
Amusement twinkles in Cassian’s eyes, betraying his very serious expression. “Not even for a friend, Bodhi?”
Maybe Bodhi’s weak for guys who say his name for the first time like it isn’t, or for the way that Cassian had single-handedly made his anxiety melt away just by talking to him like he’s a friend, or just because he finds him so handsome, or some combination of it all, but Bodhi can’t really deny a request like that.
Clearing his throat, Bodhi situates his nametag to make it appear more in order, just like how the old corporation had wanted him to, and straightens up his back at full attention. With his best customer service voice, he passes Cassian his drink, and Bodhi says, “Welcome to the Rebels Coffeehouse, where we fight against unreasonably priced drinks and capitalism, what can I get for you today?”
Cassian’s face breaks out into a full-fledged smile that makes Bodhi realize that all the other ones were barely there, half things that were barely comparable. This smile is downright infectious. It’s only become apparent of that fact when Bodhi realizes he’s smiling along with him, a breathless chuckle escaping him as he shakes his head.
He realizes that he wants to see that smile more and more, wants to be the cause of it.
It’s only been one conversation and Bodhi’s already weak.
Cassian takes his drink and pays for it, the infectious smile still on his face, and merely says, “Yeah, you don’t have to do that again,” Cassian says, an amused huff of a laugh escaping him. “But you did manage to somehow make it sound not so horrible. Very admirable.”
“Thanks,” Bodhi says, the familiar warmth creeping along his cheeks once again. “Means a lot, considering I’ve been saying it to everyone the past couple of days. Who knows how many people have laughed at the utter cheesiness?"
“It's not that cheesy. I’ll see you tomorrow, Bodhi,” Cassian says with a shake of his head, the small smile still on his face.
Before he turns and walks out the door, Cassian pulls a few dollars out of his wallet and places it into the tip jar, and before Bodhi can thank him or say anything worthwhile, Cassian is already out the door and gone.
And Bodhi does seem him again tomorrow, and the next day, and the following days after that. It’s an occurrence so common and customary that it’s strange if Cassian shows up a few hours later, and even stranger when he doesn’t show up at all that day. Bodhi always usually has an order made up for him, and they share conversation if the days are slow.
They talk. Cassian talks about being in the masters program for his communications degree, and Bodhi finds out just how much he has on his plate, and just how smart Cassian is. Bodhi tells Cassian about his family back home, about how he misses them daily and how he plans to visit them in the upcoming holidays. They become familiar with each other, learning big things and little things; anything from learning about each other’s favorite snacks or about a favorite movie. Cassian has so much too him that every thing Bodhi learns about him just leaves him wanting to know more about him.
It’s increasingly becoming Bodhi’s favorite part of his day, so much so that every time Cassian has to leave for his part time job or for class, he feels a sinking sense of disappointment deep within the pit of his stomach.
One day, Cassian isn’t alone when he comes in the shop. There’s a young kid, looking about the age of twelve bouncing alongside him, eagerly looking around the coffee shop with a sense of observation and light in their eyes. Cassian has a hand on the back of their neck, an obviously familiar gesture between the two of them, making sure the kid doesn’t wander off too far. They seem like the type.
“Cassian,” Bodhi greets familiarly, and he looks down at the younger kid once they reach the front of the counter. “And friend. Hi. What can I get you today?" Cassian is already opening his mouth to speak, but Bodhi cuts him off with a playful, "I already know what you want, Cassian.”
Cassian merely grins.
“I’m not Cassian’s friend, I’m his little sibling,” the kid says, direct and to the point. They rest their elbows on the counter, doing their best imitation at being a grown-up, and if it weren’t for the fact that they were obviously lifting themselves on their tippy toes, Bodhi would have been very convinced. “And I want a coffee with lots of caffeine in it. Can I get whipped cream on that too? And not a little bit of whipped cream, but—”
“I’m guessing you want a lot of whipped cream on that too, huh?” Bodhi asks, a grin on his face.
The kid nods once, firm. “Affirmative.”
Cassian snorts, amused at the sight before him. “I’m in the Big Brother Program,” he explains, and Bodhi makes an Ah noise in realization. Just another thing to add on the ever-growing list of things Bodhi is learning about Cassian, and onto the separate list of things that makes Bodhi admire him even more. “This one’s name is Kay. And, please, no caffeine for them, they’ll never be able to settle down for the rest of the day. Hot chocolate will do.”
Kay pouts, crossing their arms over their chest. “Says you.”
“Hey,” Bodhi says to Kay, just as he slides the ticket order to Baze for their drinks. “I’ll be sure to ask Baze to add in so much whip cream for you. Maybe even some chocolate drizzle—it'll blow your mind. How does that sound, huh?”
“Thanks,” Kay says with a grin that shows missing teeth. They turn to Cassian, looking up at him and tugs firmly on his coat once. “I like him Cassian. Is this the same guy you said you liked too?”
Bodhi chokes on air, a terrible hacking sound that makes it way too apparent that he’s very strongly affected by what Kay had just said. There has to be some sort of misunderstanding.
When he glances up, however, he can see the way Cassian’s face has flushed a darker color, head pressed into his hand, completely aware of the fact that he’s blushing and actively trying to hide it. His gaze is avoiding Bodhi’s completely. It’s enough of a reaction for Bodhi to confirm: yes, he didn’t misunderstand, and yes, it was about him.
With a sharp clang, Baze sets down the two drinks; a barely there smile exposing just how amused he really is. No doubt that Chirrut will hear about this within the minute, and then Bodhi will never hear the end of this for the rest of his work life.
Finally, Cassian manages to utter a dry, “Um, yeah. That’s him. Thanks for that, Kay.”
“Thank you for the hot chocolate, Cassian,” Kay says, completely oblivious to the why Cassian and Bodhi had reacted so strongly in the first place, content with holding their drink. “I don’t know why you’re upset I told him. You obviously weren’t going to do it.”
Or maybe not so oblivious.
Kay walks off near the front entrance, easily joining in on a conversation with Chirrut who’s been sweeping the floors since the drop of the like-bomb. Kay points at both Bodhi and Cassian, and Chirrut erupts into a fit of laughter. Heat creeps along Bodhi’s cheeks, his throat suddenly far too dry, and turns his attention to Cassian who’s already passing him a twenty-dollar bill across the counter.
“Uh, you really don’t have to do that, it’s way too much, even for just a tip,” Bodhi says, his words coming out far too jumbled even to his own ears. He wants to say more, wants to bring up— “So… What Kay had said about you liking me…?”
Cassian’s blush deepens, barely noticeable unless someone was paying attention. Bodhi happens to be that person—reading into every twitch of his mouth or the way he shakes his head, trying to get some sort of read on him. Anything. Cassian opens his mouth, about to speak and answer Bodhi, but the familiar ding of the bell from the doorway goes off; Bodhi and Cassian snap their heads to see Kay has already walked outside of the coffeehouse, careless and full of abandon with hot chocolate in hand.
“Oh no, no. Damn it, Kay not again,” Cassian mutters, already grabbing his drink from the counter and walking backwards towards the door in a rush, facing Bodhi as he does. “Keep the money. We’ll talk later, I have to—“ He trails off, giving a vague hand gesture at the empty space where Kay once was.
“I understand,” Bodhi says, receiving a nod from the Cassian before he turns and is out the door. “See you tomorrow,” he says to himself, just as he sees Cassian out of sight through the windows.
Except Bodhi doesn’t see him tomorrow.
In fact, Bodhi doesn’t see him for the next several days afterwards. At first Bodhi doesn’t think too much of it, figuring the first day he misses Cassian is due to some type of emergency or something equally important. (It only makes him wish he had his number, only to make sure that everything’s okay.) Once it reaches day number four, however, he’s beginning to have an aching suspicion that something must have happened—that something had made Cassian want to change their usual schedule.
Bodhi doesn’t want to say it out loud, but he fears that whatever back and forth between the both of them they had is over.
Maybe what he had interpreted only a few days ago was totally wrong. Maybe Kay had been wrong about Cassian’s feelings for Bodhi, and in Cassian’s attempt at being a good person, he decided to quietly slip away instead of flat-out rejecting him. Bodhi isn’t sure why he had been so sure of Cassian’s feelings, but it’s beginning to seem more and more clear what had actually happened between the both of them the longer the silence continues.
In a very Chirrut fashion, he had placed a comforting hand on his shoulder and squeezed, only offering a vague, “These things have a way of working themselves out.”
Bodhi isn’t quite sure if he believes him, but Chirrut’s words manage to calm the buzzing in his nerves and the way he snaps his head up at every ding of the bell. It’s not much, but it’s significant enough to not make work feel absolutely dreadful and to actually keep Bodhi focused on the task at hand.
Which is why, he barely even notices when Cassian walks in on the fifth day and says, “I’m so sorry for not showing up.”
Bodhi, much to his dismay, actually gawks at him for a split moment at the fact that Cassian’s actually here and hadn’t chosen to purposefully avoid him. He’s quick to recover and rings up Cassian’s usual order though, not wanting to make it too weird between them. “It’s fine, it’s fine,” he says, even though he’s not exactly sure he believes himself. “I figured you weren’t coming back.”
“What?” Cassian asks, his brow creasing in the middle. “Why would you think that?”
Now Bodhi can handle a lot of things: he can handle rejection (albeit terribly, but he can deal with it) and he can handle people slipping quietly from his life (it’s not like he has much of a choice but to deal with it), but acting as if nothing is wrong, pretending nothing happened, he can’t deal with that. At least not lying on his back. There’s nothing more that makes him want to confront, to hell with the underlying anxiety he feels about the whole situation.
Bodhi would rather know where he stands than be guessing and living under some sort of false reality.
“You can’t tell me that you didn’t just avoid me practically the whole week,” Bodhi begins, occasionally glancing at the other’s confused face and the cash register. His hands are already beginning to sweat. “You know, I wouldn’t have minded much if you didn’t have feelings for me, but you don’t need to avoid and pretend nothing even happened in the first place. Don’t insult me like that, Cassian. I thought we were friends.”
Cassian seems to take a moment to take it all in, silent and merely looking back at Bodhi with those dark eyes. For a moment, Bodhi wonders if he’s going to say anything at all. Cassian does something unexpected: he breaks out into a smile. It takes Bodhi off guard, but not nearly as much as when Cassian’s shoulders begin to shake from quiet laughter.
Great. Now Bodhi’s the one feeling confused.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Cassian says, and his voice sounds light and amused, even though Bodhi can tell he’s trying to tamper it down for his sake. He eventually does, looking a little more composed than a few seconds previous. “I shouldn’t have laughed. I didn’t mean to make you feel that I was avoiding you, because I do like you.”
“Why else do you think I kept coming in here practically everyday? The chairs here are so uncomfortable.” There’s a small crooked smile on his face as he pulls his wallet out to pay. “I couldn’t come by after what happened with Kay because I had to apologize to their parents about letting them wander off. Then I realized, in the whole grand scheme of things, you distract me. And I had finals coming up, and everything just slipped. I was…” He trails off, a sheepish smile coming over his face. “I was actually about to ask you for your number, because after Kay said everything anyway, I figured I at least had a fifty-fifty shot.”
“But you ran out before you could,” Bodhi says, looking him over.
Cassian nods, looking at Bodhi with an apologetic look on his face. “Now I figure that shot is gone.” Another pause. “I really am sorry for not coming in and telling you this sooner.”
There’s a brief momentary pause between them. A bell dings from Baze, the signal that Cassian’s coffee is ready. Bodhi bites the inside of his cheek, before his face lights up, and he grabs the coffee and searches the counter for a pen, a marker, anything. After an intense thirty-second search, he scribbles numbers on the cup before handing it back to Cassian.
“Your number,” Cassian says, observing the messy scrawl on the to-go cup. There’s a light chuckle that escapes past his lips, a sound that hits Bodhi right in the chest, making him realize just how much he missed it. “Just like the movies.”
“My shift ends at five,” Bodhi says with a small smile. “Maybe we can do something after. Something fun? Whatever you wanna do, I don't care, I’ll be happy with whatever you choose.”
Great, the rambling had decided to make a reappearance. At least Cassian appears to be amused.
“Sounds great,” he says with a smile.
The moment Cassian leaves, Chirrut and Baze are quick to talk about it with no shame, but Bodhi doesn’t mind, even joining in with them after a while. It takes him a moment, but once he receives the text message he had been waiting for all day—the true indication his shift is over—he can’t help but feel this whole job? Worth it.