<b>Title:</b> With Extra Foam [S/A]
<b>Author:</b> <lj user="nearlyvelveteen">
<b>Rating:</b> PG-13 for swearing and some awkward!ryan that may or may not cause some douche bag!brendon.
<b>Pairing:</b> Ryan/Brendon (with hints of Jon/Spencer)
<b>POV:</b> Third. Brendon centric.
<b>Summary:</b> Brendon doesn’t want much out of life. All he’s asking for is a reasonable job to pay for college, a steady career once he graduates, and a couple good friends to get him through the rest of his days. What he isn’t asking for, is Ryan.
<b>Disclaimer:</b> If this was real, I wouldn’t be writing it. I would be in Starbucks 24/7 observing it. It’s not real.
<b>Beta:</b> <lj user="Santipathy">
<b>Author Notes:</b> Just another fluffy barista fic. A million bajillion thanks and hugs to <lj user="Santipathy"> for being the best beta/handholder ever. And to Meghan for laughing at the idea of Joe going to Prague.
<lj-cut text="Brendon‘s been working at Starbucks for four minutes and fifty two seconds">Brendon doesn’t want much out of life. All he’s asking for is a reasonable job to pay for college, a steady career once he graduates, and a couple good friends to get him through the rest of his days.
<center>What he isn’t asking for, is Ryan.</center>
Brendon’s been working at Starbucks for exactly four minutes and fifty two seconds when it happens. He’s sitting at his post behind the counter (alone, because no one else is stupid or desperate enough to take the 6 AM shift <I>voluntarily</I>) flicking through a magazine with a bored expression on his face. He hears the bells above the door chime as someone walks in, but he doesn’t look up, too distracted by Lindsey Lohan’s latest arrest to address the customer. This isn’t permanent, he assures himself as he scratches at his stupid green apron. He just has to pay off the rest of his grants, and then he’s home free.
When he notices that said customer hasn’t made any move to come to the front of the shop, Brendon looks up. The guy he sees looks like he’s had a rough night, to say the least. His full ensemble consists of black fuzzy slippers, blue and white plaid pajama pants, and a grey v-neck that hugs every non-existent curve in the guy’s body. If that wasn’t enough, his brown hair (which appears as if it could have been straightened at one point) is sticking up in just about every direction ever invented, adding to the ridiculousness. The icing on the cake, though, is the fact that the man’s bloodshot eyes are the widest that Brendon has ever seen in his life. Brendon raises his eyebrows. The guy flushes at being caught, and swallows, but continues to stare.
“Welcome to Starbucks,” Brendon greets, still puzzled. “How may I help you?”
The stranger opens his mouth wide, but immediately clamps it shut, quickly shaking his head.
Brendon’s brow furrows. “You know me taking your order and making it is going to require some speaking, right, sir?”
The man nods, visibly embarrassed. He takes a step closer while looking at the menu. Brendon notes that he really doesn’t look much older than himself, and suspects that he’s acting the way he is due to an all-night study session.
The guy looks confident in his selection, but when his lips part to order, and his gaze travels back to Brendon’s he becomes tight-lipped again. Brendon sighs.
“Alright, here,” he suggests. “Look at the menu, look at the number next to whatever you want, then show me that number with your fingers, got it?”
The other man nods bashfully and holds up seven freakishly long fingers. Brendon gives a small smile and gets to work on a peppermint mocha.
When the drink is finished, (and it’s pure fucking <I>perfection,</I> if Brendon says so himself) he sets it down on the counter, where the customer is waiting, his head half bent. Blushing again, he hands Brendon the money.
Brendon shows off his best Employee Smile (all teeth and sincerity; he’s been practicing for a week) and gives a hearty, “Have a good day!” The man offers another longing stare, this time at the annoying grin on Brendon’s face, before his own lips twitch and he nods, walking away with his coffee.
Brendon’s counting the money when he sees that-- hey. As good as the customer’s latte inevitably was, it was <I>not</I> worth $13.75.
“Wait!” Brendon calls as the guy’s hand is touching the door. “This is ten bucks more than you owe me.”
The man doesn’t even turn around, just waves his hand in a dismissive manner and walks out.
Brendon shrugs, and remembers the guy. And it’s not because of his crazy appearance or lack of speaking abilities, but because, sweet. Ten extra bucks.
Three weeks later, the guy is still showing up. Sure he’s a little more carefully dressed, and he doesn’t stare at Brendon like he’s the messiah, but other than that nothing really changes. He still comes in at the same time every morning, still blushes too much for a normal person, and he still doesn’t talk. It’s become normal routine now. Brendon will fake grin at him, and he’ll give a cautious smile back as he holds up his seven fingers. Brendon will make him a latte fit for a king, the man will pay (Brendon makes sure that it really is only $3.75-- nothing more, nothing less) and that’s pretty much all that happens between them until the next morning, when the guy orders again.
Sometimes, in between double espresso shots and caramel frappes, Brendon wonders about the strange customer. During the first week, he thinks that the guy has the ability to speak, he just chooses not to. When the second week comes along, he wonders what the problem could possibly be. <I>Why</I> won’t the customer speak, even to order a coffee? And by the third week he’s come to accept the only logical conclusion: The mysterious regular is a mute.
When the customer comes in on the first day of the fourth week, Brendon has already started on his usual. Brendon doesn’t even try with conversation anymore. If the guy really is a mute, then Brendon doesn’t want to make the situation awkward for him. That’s why he really doesn’t expect what happens next when his back is turned, filling the last of the coffee cup with foamy milk.
He hears the guy inhale a sharp breath before saying “Hi,“ in a robotic monotone.
<center>Brendon drops the cup.</center>
He gapes at the customer in disbelief. “Um. I. Hi? I mean…You can talk?”
The man goes white at Brendon’s eyes on him and tucks his head into his chin.
“Well hey, that’s. Don’t be embarrassed. I just…I didn’t know--”
The man nods his head towards the coffee covering the floor behind the counter.
“Right,” says Brendon. “Let me make you a new one. On the house.”
He makes the mocha in record time, being sure not to slip on the mess of coffee everywhere and, fuck, he’s going to have to clean that up later. Goddammit.
And this time, when Brendon gives his normal blinding smile and his wish for the customer to have a good day, he swears he hears the guy whisper a thanks.
<center>Brendon mentally fist pumps.</center>
This goes on for a while, the little game they have. It’s a pretty boring game, actually. It probably wouldn’t make that much money as a product, and it would most likely have to be ages 10+ because little kids really can’t go that long without saying much. Anyways. The point is, it’s a game.
Each day the guy says hi to Brendon with more vigor and confidence than the first and, okay, Brendon gets it. He can <I>talk,</I> fine. Brendon’s never been the best at hypothesizing.
But soon it’s not just talking. The guy seems to want to hang around the shop more, and that’s just crossing the line. Brendon has a four step process for serving customers. Take the order, make the order, charge, kick out. He thinks it’s a great system, one not to be fucked with.
<center>This guy is fucking with the system.</center>
One day, after the man pays for his latte (step 3 out of 4 complete, check) instead of leaving, he clutches his cup and stares at his shoes. “Have a good day, sir,” Brendon says <I>again.</I> (He’s said this twice already. Apparently, this guy can’t take a hint.) The customer’s eyes are still on his shoes. Out of curiosity, Brendon leans over and looks at the guy’s shoes too. Nothing special, but the man backs up and blushes in embarrassment. Other than that, he still <I>doesn’t move.</I>
That’s enough, Brendon decides. It’s time to take some action. “You know, you can leave now. People are waiting.” It’s true. People are starting to form a line behind the guy’s awkward frame.
“I. Um,” the man begins. Brendon sighs and cocks his hip expectantly. The customer turns around swiftly (bumping into a few people) and nearly gallops out of the shop.
Brendon raises his eyebrows, and shakes his head. Some dudes are just weird.
Three days later, Brendon learns his name.</center>
Since that day, the guy's been saying his usual hello to Brendon, but nothing more. Now, when Brendon places his latte on the counter, instead of handing him the money, he licks his lips and inhales with determination.
“My name’s Ryan,” he states and smiles like he’s proud of himself.
Brendon quirks a half-interested eyebrow at him. He drags a finger across his name tag and says simply, “Brendon.”
Ryan takes his coffee and stares at Brendon’s nametag with glazed hazel eyes and--okay. That’s getting a little creepy. <I>“Brendon,”</I> he hears him murmur, as if trying it out on his own lips.
Ryan clears his throat and blushes his usual crimson as he turns away. “Have a good day, Brendon,” he squeaks as he pads out the door.
And it’s then --and only then, because Brendon is slow with this kind of stuff, alright?-- that he figures out that he has an admirer (or a stalker, but at this point Brendon doesn’t know which is worse).
Weeks, months pass, and Ryan is getting less and less shy with every visit to Starbucks. Maybe someone, somewhere would consider this a good thing. Maybe in different circumstances a therapist some place would describe this as a breakthrough. But Ryan shedding his shy layer meant that he felt the need to talk to Brendon more and more. And sure, Brendon doesn’t mind conversation. Not with people he knows. People who he’s friends with. People who aren’t creepily, madly in love with him.
<center>It was kind of sweet at the beginning, okay. But now it’s just too much.</center>
Brendon’s been keeping track of all the weird things Ryan’s done. He’s made a fucking <I>list</I> because he’s pretty sure that if any of this gets freakier he’s got perfectly liable reasons to call the cops.
On January 22nd Ryan tells Brendon he’s writing a book about him. Brendon is a bit astounded (“Well that’s. Oh. I’ve never really had a book written about me before.”) Ryan seems to take that as a blessing.
On February 1st Ryan asks Brendon what type of music he likes. (“You know, pretty much everything. I love the Smashing Pumpkins, the Beatles, Third Eye Blind, Queen…”) Ryan’s eyes get glassy and Brendon swears he sees his hand come up to clutch at his heart. But to sooth his frightened conscience, he tells himself it was only a trick of the light.
On February 10th Ryan storms into the Starbucks in a fit of rage. He plops down on one of the stools near the counter and rants to Brendon about how he couldn’t sleep at all last night because some guys named Spencer and Jon (Brendon assumes they’re friends of Ryan’s) were “fucking each other’s brains out all night” (ew. Brendon <I>so</I> does not need that mental image) and were apparently “all over each other on the goddamn coffee table in the morning. I mean, shit, how the fuck am I supposed to eat with <I>that</I> going on in front of me, you know?” He looks at Brendon then with desperate, sleep deprived eyes. Since Brendon is feeling particularly poetic that day (he finished his book of Poe last night for English class) he responds with, “Well, maybe they were just lost in each other, you know? Maybe they were just so overpowered by the thrills of young and deep love that they couldn’t bring themselves into the reality of the outside world.” And he’s not even being sarcastic. Brendon is proud of himself. He is so, <I>so</I> getting an A in that class.
Ryan stares at Brendon for a moment, and his eyes are almost as wide as the first day he stepped into the coffee shop. “I hadn’t even…That’s.” There’s a pause, but it’s filled quickly by Ryan’s dreamy sigh. Brendon curses his boyish charms.
The last thing on the list is from February 14th. Brendon unlocks the Starbucks first thing on Friday morning to find a heart shaped box of chocolates behind his counter. He doesn’t know how they got here, he doesn’t know why, but what the hell, free chocolate. One half of the box is filled with white chocolate, the other dark. He takes one of each. The dark has a mocha filling, and the light a peppermint filling.
Brendon spits out the candy and throws the box away, grumbling angrily to himself.
Brendon hates today. Brendon wishes he could kick today in the balls and make sure that it could never, <I>ever</I> reproduce another day like this one.
His contacts went missing, so he has to wear these stupid black framed glasses that make him look like a computer tech. He failed his science final yesterday. He <I>knows</I> he did. Besides that, he couldn’t sleep at all because his roommate Gabe decided it would be a good idea to have an all night blowout in their dorm, complete with blaringly loud music. And this morning, Pete just happened to call to tell Brendon that, hey, guess what? Joe is on vacation with his family in Prague, so Brendon has to cover his shift, which means he’ll be working from 6AM to 6PM. Brendon’s never liked Joe.
And it doesn’t help matters at all that today Ryan’s decided to sit and enjoy his peppermint mocha <I>inside</I> of the Starbucks <I>with</I> Brendon, laughing and smiling and talking about nothing and everything while Brendon glares into the distance.
“So,” Ryan says sincerely, sipping his drink. “Have you always wanted to be a barista?”
Brendon’s eyebrows scrunch together, and he tries at his best scowl. “No.”
“Oh.” Ryan smiles, despite Brendon’s obvious annoyance. “What’s your serious career plan?”
“I.” Brendon rubs at his eyes, because the last thing he wants to be doing is telling his future goals to some creepy coffeehouse regular. “Right now I’m taking courses online to get my music major. After that, I don’t know. I’d love to compose or score at some point.”
“That’s wonderful,” Ryan gushes like he actually means it. “I’m at UNLV right now. I’m an English major. I want to be an author someday.”
“You’d better be,” Brendon says absently as he scrubs at one of the coffee pots. “Or else how is that book about me going to get published?”
Ryan giggles, and Brendon swears he can <I>hear</I> him blush. “True.”
“I don’t get it,” Brendon continues, and seriously, <I>why</I> is he still talking? “I’m really not worth writing a book about. I’m not that interesting.”
He chances a glance back at Ryan, who looks as if the world has been ripped out from under him. “What are you <I>talking</I> about?” he murmurs in disbelief. All Brendon can do is shrug, because it’s true. He’s just an average guy living an average life earning average pay at an average job. There’s nothing exciting about it…But maybe that’s what Ryan finds so intriguing.
“You’re interesting to <I>me,</I>” Ryan whispers into his cup. Brendon pretends not to notice.
“Hey, don’t you have somewhere to be?” Brendon asks, because usually when people want coffee it’s because they need the energy to do something. (And, he kind of wants Ryan gone. A lot.)
“No,” is all Ryan says. Brendon doesn’t ask again.
Ryan finishes the rest of his drink in silence, and Brendon almost wants to thank him for the peace and quiet, until Ryan gets up to leave.
“Hey,” he starts, and Brendon turns around.
“What?” he pleads. “What could it possibly be, Ryan?”
Ryan licks his lips and bows his lead. “I just. Are those new glasses?”
Brendon touches the rim of his specks, confused. “No…They’re pretty old. Why?”
“I um.” Ryan clears his throat as he backs out of Starbucks. “It’s just. They look really good on you.”
Brendon tries not to let that make his day.
The shop is busy as fuck and Brendon has no idea why, especially at such a crazy hour. He’s taking order after order and when he finally gets to Ryan, every shred of patience he had at the beginning of his shift is absolutely gone.
He starts on Ryan’s usual, and is almost a little surprised not to hear him try to start up some small talk over the noise of the customers.
“What’s the matter?” Brendon snorts as he caps Ryan’s drink. “Talked yourself out?”
“No,” Ryan says, slow at first but then speeding up his words. “Will you marry me?”
This is the final straw. This is as much as Brendon can handle. <I>“What?”</I> He sighs in exasperation, rubbing his temples.
“I just…” Ryan begins. “You make me feel…not like myself. I don’t know why, though. And I don’t know how to…I don’t even <I>like</I> coffee that much….But I think I keep coming in here because I lo--”
“Ryan,” Brendon cries, raising his voice. “I’m just a <I>barista.”</I> He is. And he even flails his arms at their surroundings for effect. “I’m not perfect, I’m not a godsend, I’m no fucking <I>angel from above,</I> okay? I’m just a nineteen year old kid working for minimum wage in a shitty coffee place. And you know what else? <I>I didn’t ask for this.</I> I don’t want somebody like…like <I>that</I> in my life, not now, maybe not ever. All I want is a good job, and a nice house. I don’t think that’s much to ask for, do you?”
<center>It’s a rhetorical question, but Ryan still vigorously shakes his head.</center>
“Good,” Brendon says, yelling now. “So just…just get out. Get your coffee, get out, and <I>leave me alone!”</I>
Brendon pants and looks around. The shop is completely silent. Every eye is on him. He looks to Ryan. All of the color is gone from his face. All of the light his eyes once held has disappeared. He looks like he’s about to break down and cry, and Brendon ignores the drop he feels in his stomach.
“Okay,” Ryan croaks. He sounds so small and insignificant. Brendon ignores that too. “I understand. I’ll go.”
<center>And he does.</center>
Still, no one in the Starbucks speaks. Brendon swallows the lump sliding up his throat and calls out a, “Next.”
Ryan doesn’t show up for an entire week. He’ll never admit to it out loud, but Brendon’s seriously starting to worry.
The guilt hasn’t been able to leave him. He sees Ryan’s stupid sad face everywhere. And in his head he keeps hearing his meek voice telling Brendon that he understood, that it was okay, even though Brendon knows it totally wasn’t.
On Friday morning Brendon is staring blankly into space when he sees Ryan across the street, making his way to the coffee shop at a grand speed of ½ mile per hour.
Without even thinking about it, Brendon springs into action. He’s been practicing his latte art during the free time he’s had since Ryan’s been gone, and he hopes that it hasn’t been for nothing. Brendon busies himself by making the best peppermint mocha latte he’s ever made in his entire Starbucks career, and is in the middle of manipulating the milk foam in the exact way he wants it when he hears the bells chime on the door.
Brendon snaps his head around to see Ryan looking guilty as he meanders into the shop. “Ryan. Hey--”
“I’m not here to annoy you,” Ryan assures in a glum voice that almost breaks Brendon. Almost, but not quite. “I‘ve just got a huge test today, and I really need some coffee.”
“No worries, dude.” Brendon spins around, grabbing a cap but making sure to hand it to Ryan separate from the drink. “Here. I made your usual. Enjoy.”
Brendon slides the uncovered drink and its cap over to Ryan, who gives him nothing but a quirked eyebrow in return. But then he looks down at the latte, and then.
<center>Oh, and then.</center>
Ryan freezes. All Brendon can do is watch as every sign of happiness and life floods back into Ryan’s eyes at once, and he can almost <I>see</I> the gears turning in Ryan’s brain, can almost see his heart jolt and stutter back into sync. Ryan bites his lip and gulps and stares at the coffee cup as if it holds everything near and dear to him in the world. All because Brendon made a big and beautiful heart out of the excessive amounts of foam in Ryan’s latte.
“Listen,” Brendon begins. His own heart is starting to feel like the foam one, bubbly and warm. “About what I said…I’m so sorry, Ryan. I was frustrated and tired and…Maybe I’m not…No, I’m <I>definitely</I> not ready for that kind of commitment yet. Who knows if I ever will be.”
<center>He sees Ryan flinch, and it stings, just a little bit.</center>
“But maybe we could work our way up there. You know, start small? Like maybe if you’re not doing anything later we could…get dinner or something?”
Brendon watches as the words sink in. Ryan’s lips part and he slowly raises his head to reach Brendon’s eyes, looking as if he’s just won the lottery.
“Dinner?” He squeaks out. And it’s the happiest, most irritating thing Brendon’s ever heard in his life.
<center>He groans and his head collides with the counter.