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the (coffee) remains of my wasted youth

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Tori never really means to get a job in a coffee shop.

It’s just student loans are insane and she can’t exactly provide half of the rent every month without some source of income. It’s a steady enough source of cash, with enough left over for the upkeep of her surfing hobby, and the coffee shop is on the corner of her and Shane’s road, marking the halfway point between the shabby apartment and the beach. It looks peaceful from the outside, brimming inside with tons of options, vegan, gluten free and the like, and it means free caffeine so she figures why not.

She underestimated how much pain it would cause her.

Shane, ever the loving best friend, still thinks it’s hilarious.


The problem with being by the beach is the wind. It blows up from the shoreline, and down into all the houses, not to mention the constant humidity in the air, warping everything not made from metal. The wind is fine, if you’re prepped for it likeTori is, having lived In Blue Bay her whole life. But for some reason the early hour of the day (6.30am) has made her forget basics, like her windbreaker, and her beanie. It’s easy for her to hate Cam and Hunter for making her open shop on mornings like this one, because the desire to be in her warm bed sleeping, is huge, about as massive as her blonde hair blowing out and around in the wind.

It barely gets warmer as she finally gets the door open, stumbling in shivering. By the time she’s started up the machines Kapri has appeared and is babbling away about some reality show or something. The urge to facepalm the counter is overtaking her, instead she pulls her hair up into a loose ponytail with her trusty lucky blue scrunchie. Part of her thanking Cam for being adamant about having two baristas working at all times, it’s probably because Cam is aware the staff he has hired is more than ditzy at the best of times, especially his cousins, and if they didn’t double up on shifts the shop would probably end up burnt down or ruined at the end of every day. So, it’s a policy she praises silently. (Even though it normally goes to ruin and the shop ends up in a crazed state at the end of nearly every day, but at least Cam is trying, right)

Kapri is bouncing away, babbling next to Tori, who's grateful it’s not Marah on this shift, because that never ends well for anyone, especially not the poor espresso machine. Tori wonders how this early in the morning anyone can be this bubbly and happy. Cam’s cousins are a true enigma, very peppy enigmas.

Dustin’s the first to walk through the door when Tori finally gets up and flips the sign over from closed to open. He’s smiling as much as Kapri, and Tori’s sure she’s never seen him this early in the morning, because she’s sure that when Dustin isn’t out practicing Motocross or flirting with Shane, he’s sleeping (or looking at bikes on the internet). She loves Dustin truly, he makes up one third of the Blue Bay Ninja’s (he made up the name in elementary school, a week into the three of them knowing each other) and it is cute watching her and Shane’s relationship develop over the years. Dustin is the little wind child of the group, airhead, prefers crazy tricks flying over mounds on his bike, compared to Tori’s dependency on the water, or Shane’s on his skateboard, feet rooted firmly to the ground.

The gratefulness at seeing Dustin quickly fades the moment he opens his mouth to speak, because apparently this is ‘everyone be mean to Tori today even though its 7.30 in the morning and she really wants to be in her warm bed asleep’.

“You look terrible Tor’, seriously terrible dude”

Tori finds it in herself to glare through half lidded eyes, and gets to work making Dustin’s usual, her hands being stained green by the matcha powder. Dustin’s drink is the easiest to remember, two teaspoons of matcha with a shot of chocolate, which is gross, but acceptable on the list of weird things people ask for in their coffee. She hasn’t learnt all the names for the drinks yet, but she’s only been here less than a month, and some of them have complicated names, implausible to figure out unless you grew up in a coffee orientated culture, which she didn’t. (One of the multiple reasons Shane finds her job hilarious).

She does however, remember each and every name of the rotating cast of regulars, which is apparently an achievement that only she has unlocked, according to Hunter. There are a whole bunch of them, and it’s surprising she remembers their faces, let alone their names and orders.

“You should start dating someone Tori, give you some inspiration”

“Just because you and Shane are so happy,” she pokes her tongue out in a playful manner, “and anyways, there’s not anyone whose interested, or interesting you know.”

Dustin smiles, one of his beaming dorky things, the kind that has made her laugh since she was 6, its maybe enough to wake her up properly.

“Just think about it Tor’ for me, and leave Shane out of this, you’re just jealous I got there first.”

Tori can’t hate Dustin, he’s too cute. He also comes to every surfing competition she has ever participated in, but sometimes he wears her out thin with all the excitement threatening to bubble out of him.

“Yes thank you Dustin.” she says, maybe a bit to snarky, (she can blame being in near proximity to Cam for that one) and slams Dustin’s drink down on the counter, with a little more force than she maybe means to, spilling the green coloured tea slightly from the sides of the mug. After all she has to deal with Dustin and Shane separately and together mooning over one another, literally all the time. It’s a little unfair of him to attack her for not having a partner she feels.

Dustin gives her one of his concerned puppy dog faces as he takes his drink, patting her arm, pulling her into a semi sort of hug over the counter, and then shrugs as he turns away, “You should try and get some more sleep Tori.” sauntering away to the pastry counter and Kapri, for bouncy shiny happy people conversation at the early hour. Tori doesn’t even have time to fit in a protest before the next customer crops up at the counter and her stilled rage at Dustin, lack of romantic partner and the early hour disappears into the haze of coffee and long complicated orders.

By the time Dustin leaves, the morning rush has died down, the café goes quiet without his and Kapri’s incessant chatter pushing at her mind like a cloudy headache. But it now means Kapri’s back over next to her, body constantly jittering, itching to do something.

“Kapri, can you like uh stop, uh vibrating.”

Kapri does nothing but grin apologetically, before tapping her foot in some out of sync rhythm on the floor. Babbling out a “Yeah sure but I don’t want to.”.

Tori rolls her eyes. Kapri has had her eyes on one of the more infrequent customers, one that only appears once every few weeks, Kapri may of made a glitter sticker chart clocking her crushes appearances and today is one of the days they might appear.

“They come in so randomly Kapri, calm down, you’re gonna break something.”

Kapri’s reply is even more babble about object of her desire. Tori takes it as a good chance to retreat, hiding out in the storeroom for just a moment to herself. When she reappears Kapri offers her a steaming mug, and Tori can’t help but take it, even despite all of Kapri’s downfalls, she can still make a mean coffee, probably one of the best out of all the baristas that grace the coffee shop. Besides, coffee is always good, especially when it is free, and doesn’t taste like the earthy stuff that Shane produces (and blames on the ancient coffee machine in the apartment). It’s finally the thing that blows all the sleepiness out of her mind.

Mysterious object of Kapri’s desire, seems to reciprocate the attraction, or so Tori has heard from co-workers, she has yet to meet them. The door chimes gently and a customer before walks in, it’s a he, dorky looking, brunette wavy hair, black fingerless gloves. Striking up a conversation with Kapri that is full of 50 cent words and non-sequiturs on his part, giggles and baffling comments on Kapri’s.

“I see Bridge is back then.”

Tori squeals, turning on her heel and whacking the owner of the voice that has startled her from watching the car crash flirting that’s occurring over the counter. “Hunter seriously?” stress wearing her vocal cords thin. The blonde man just shrugs, smile toying at his lips. He pushes Kapri out from behind the counter, and puts her and Bridge at a table offering them refills and pastries. The morning rush is over and Tori doesn’t really need a second hand, but Hunter fills the time before lunch with a mutual chatter that is never overwhelming. The iPod dock hidden behind the counter, playing the lullabies that orchestrate the café day in day out, reads 11.24am. Tori’s eyes are focusing in on the red numbers, the sound of some hipster singer and Hunter’s deep voice merging over the sounds of the few customers typing away at laptops, or chattering amongst themselves. The door clangs open, bell making some catastrophic sound pulling Tori from her spaced-out way, a short Asian looking guy walks in, new and out of place and both unfamiliar and familiar all at once. Tori can’t help but think “Wow he’s hot.”

Hunter, a smile splitting his face open, bounds over to the man, who has a matching smile, they’re hugging squeezing each other tight, the thought crosses Tori’s mind that if she hadn’t of known that Hunter was married, and his husband her employer, she would of thought that the two embracing just inside the door were something more than friendly. Tori can’t help being intrigued, they don’t get a lot of people beside their regulars, especially ones that the normally quite aloof and broody Hunter greets with a bone crushing hug. She overhears Hunter say, “Come upstairs later, we can catch up.” and maybe a “bro” or two, which doesn’t indicate anything since her entire world is filled with guys who still call each other ‘bro’ and ‘dude’ despite being in relationships. Her mind is distracted on the though track about how many couples she knows that still use bro at each other and how weird that is, when suddenly the space she is staring into is occupied with cute guy Hunter has just been hugging, customer service Tori takes over, with a slight blush colouring her cheeks.

“Welcome to Blue Bay Café, what can I get you?”

Guy smiles a little, looking about as curious about Tori as she feels about him.

“Are you new of have I just never seen you before?”

Tori feels one of her small toothy smiles forming, and she can’t even school it into something more cute so it remains, and she might not be a hundred percent happy with the facial expression she is pulling but she can still make an impact with her reply. “No, Cam’s had me trapped in the back, typing out code for some weird secret coffee brewing project, this is the first time I’ve been allowed out.” she holds back the ‘lucky for me’ which is dying to escape (And another appraising eye roll she wants to run over that man).

Hunter snorts from somewhere behind her and retreats up the stairs back to the apartment above, leaving a knowing smile in his place directed at the man who is nothing but a stranger to Tori. The man who is rolling his eyes fondly at the both of them, smile ever present on his lips.

“So, I guess that means you work here.”

“Yeah, for about 4 months. I’m Tori.”

“Blake. So you must be the normal one then.” She pointedly ignores the sharp laugh that is Hunter’s, who clearly only made it up three steps before stopping to eavesdrop. “If he wasn’t my brother, I’d be mad you know.” He raises his eyebrows, and she lets out a breath she didn’t know she was holding.

“Oh dude that makes so much more sense, I wasn’t ready for a Cam and Hunter fallout this early in the morning” except it doesn’t really make much more sense since Blake and Hunter are clearly very different looking, but he thought she was normal and the world is already being so tilted and she really shouldn’t have gotten up so early. “We’re adopted and I’ll have just a black coffee please” is his next sentence, and things snap into slightly clearer focus, one that she should be working and two that them being adopted makes so much more sense. She turns to get the coffee started, and she can hear the bell chime, and Kapri start talking to Blake.

“What you been up to then my favourite cousin brother something in law?”

“Motocross championship ran a little longer than it should have, and then so did training.”

The conversation continues along that line, familial catch up that Tori feels left out of, how could she not have known Hunter had a brother, not even Kapri or Marah had dropped that bombshell ever, and both of them were more than talkative. She’s finished with the coffee and hands it over to Blake, who just gives her an intriguing smile that makes her stomach flip with butterflies.

“You are back for longer though right?” comes Cam’s voice, from somewhere behind the counter.

“Well I mean, can’t leave you with Hunter for too long, you might drive him insane with all your techno babble.”

“I think, Blake, you’ll find it’s the other way around,” Cam says tersely, and the air fills with something that feels like rage. But to those in the know is just Cam trying to intimidate and failing. And the hug that Blake pulls Cam in to reads playful and loving, even with a Cam who still looks confused by the concept of hugging. The two go to catch up, but Hunter appears again, giving Cam a look that Tori can’t quite read, that and a customer has cropped up in front of the counter, blocking her view of the family reunion. By the time the customer has been served and strolled away to a seat, she looks up and brown eyes meet hers. It’s a funny concept to have your stomach flip over in a match of butterflies and knots as a result of someone when you’ve only known that person for less than an hour, and whose existence should have been right under your nose but has never been mentioned.

“Hey thanks for the coffee, probably one of the best I’ve had in a while. Something about a proper brewed thing compared to the gas station rubbish I’ve experienced on tour.” He’s scratching the back of his head, looking both hopeful and endearing and all Tori want’s is for her stomach to settle.

“So you do motocross right?”

“Yeah, Blake Bradley motocross champion or something like that.” He’s unbearably cool in a humble way. “You do anything Tori? Or is it just all grinding coffee beans for life?”

Tori can’t help but laugh, “The coffee grinding is to pay for rent, and the rest goes on my board.”

“Don’t tell me, you skate?”

She laughs harder at that “As if!”

“Scooter, you’re a pro scooter person?”

“I surf Blake, I’m a Surfer, one of Blue Bay’s best thank you very much.”

“Oh a humble surfer, dude I like that.”

Their conversation just springs from there, bouncing from topic to topic, talking about the things they’ve seen in the world, how they should have met before really but never did. Talking around Tori serving the lunch crowd, all the way until her shift ends. Blake makes his excuses and leaves with a freshly made coffee in a to go cup, leaving a small smile on Tori’s face in his wake. It’s been a while since a conversation has made Tori feel that comfortable and at home.

Hunter is looking at her all intuitively, like he totally knows that Tori’s already stupid for her brother even though they’ve just met. Tori can’t help but throw half the muffin she was eating at Hunter’s table, and goes to hide in the bathroom until her blush has gone down so she can make it out of her shift without anyone seeing the bright red that has stretched its way across her pale skin.


 

Tori comes home to the smell of slightly burnt pizza, New Found Glory coming through the sound system and a very pleased Shane. The traces of Dustin left around the apartment.

“You just missed Dustin, but there’s still pizza!” Shane sounds so buzzed, Tori can start to hear the cheerful strains of Mario Kart over the trashy pop punk.

Tori makes it to the kitchen, plates of half eaten pizza on the sides. “We tried to make our own,” is Shane’s only explanation. “We’re ordering Domino’s next time” is Shane’s form of apology. She forgives him almost immediately once she picks up a slice and puts it in her mouth, because while it is slightly burnt on the bottom, whatever ingredients and magic they put into it make it taste like heaven. She can’t help but moan, it tastes amazing especially after her long day and the stale taste of pastries she has left in her mouth from lunch.

Once she’s finished, she can’t help but ask. “Did you know Hunter had a brother?”

“Who Blake? Motocross hero Blake Bradley? Yeah of course.”

And Tori can’t help but feel left out of the loop, and the weird feeling it leaves lingering in her stomach.


 

Tori had watched the relationship of Cam Watanabe and Hunter Bradley unfold. Cam, a family friend of old had gone to University for some crazy degree in some computer wizardry, and had come back more sunken into himself. Then one day, out of nowhere, this blonde scruffy guy, looking barely 20 appears, kissing Cam and holding the rights to a storefront and the flat above it. Three months later they were married and owned a coffee shop. Hunter had become part of their found family without really realising it. Kapri and Marah had come to the wedding, Cam introducing them as cousins despite the lack of familial resemblance, and they had ended up staying on, making themselves useful in the shop. Shane, Dustin and Tori had been the other witnesses to the wedding, and had made it clear they were forever friends with Cam despite their many many differences. Essentially all of Cam’s relationships where with the most unlikely of people, yet he seemed to put up with it and love them equally back, in the sort of love that’s masked in sarcasm and weariness.  

Tori hadn’t even wanted to work at the coffee shop, but money and the fact Kapri and Marah weren’t quite cutting it anymore. Marah and Dustin had a relationship that lasted a blip of a second, and had triggered Shane into realising his undying love for Dustin. Kapri was clearly smitten with this Bridge guy. All the regulars seemed to have partners. It was hard for Tori to not feel left out, but suddenly with Blake there, they became ‘left out’s’ together. It still puzzled her why she had never heard of Blake before, considering how close he was with his brother, but that resentment started to fade, when she realised she was happy to find out about him for herself. Never mind the weird eyes Hunter would sometimes give them when he caught them talking, the kind of eyes that seemed happy and smug at the same time.

Tori and Blake talk about anything and everything, surfing, motocross, music, films, Blake has an irrational fear of popcorn that makes Tori laugh so hard when she finds out she snorts coffee through her nose. Its settling into the kind of friendship that Tori hasn’t had in a long time, different to the one she keeps with Dustin and Shane, tinged in something else that might be love or lust.

Blake’s friends from some crazy start up city called New Tech appear, searching out Tori’s intentions with Blake, they appear to know Bridge as well. It ends with Cam taking the initiative and closing the café early. The power happens to go out, and suddenly there’s a group of them sat in a candle lit café trading stories, and in the case of Cam and a peculiar woman named Kat, technology tid-bits. It’s one of the best evenings Tori has had in a long time, to see her friends so happy, and the fact that Blake is pressed close to her, rubbing his hand up her arm. She’s nodding at something a blonde girl, Syd, is saying, that she realises it’s been two weeks since her and Blake met, and that the funny feeling in her stomach that flutters about every time Blake speaks or she thinks about him hasn’t gone away. It’s just faded into the background, constantly there thrumming, catching her and taking her breath away when she’s looking at the softness of his face in the candlelight. It’s the fact that that night, she lets the feelings take over, and stops caring or being self-conscious.

The next day she goes to the beach, its early, the sounds of the waves crashing against the shore already clearing her mind. Surfing has that effect, and she gets lost in it easily, lost enough that when she makes it back to where she’s dropped her towel and bag, she doesn’t notice the other footprints and dent in the sand where someone has clearly been sitting.

She goes with Shane and Dustin for their weekly meal at one of their parent’s houses, an age-old tradition dictated when they moved out. And neither of the boys make any comment on how every other thing Tori mentions is about Blake.


 

The way Hunter looks at her and Blake every time they talk is starting to get borderline creepy, like she’s missing out on something, but then she overhears Hunter say to Marah “Man my brother's so far gone”, and it doesn’t quite click in Tori’s head, but something definitely starts to shift in her world. And she gives Hunter this weird quirk of a smile, a sort of thank you even though she’s not quite sure of what she is thanking Hunter for. He just smiles back and retreats up the stairs.


 

Everything goes to hell on Thursday, when it stops hurting to look back on what a terrible day it turned into, Tori can think clearly about what went wrong.

It’s kinda, totally, a hundred percent, but totally indirectly Bridge’s fault. He’s too odd for himself at the best of times. He probably didn’t mean to break Kapri’s heart with a sentence but he did. Tori’s world shifts into both fast and slow mo at the same time, Bridge is running out the door, all apologies, as Kapri is crying loudly, Tori’s the only other worker on shift, and she can do nothing but pray Hunter or Cam hears the commotion and comes to save the day, but they don’t. The moment Bridge is out the door customers come streaming in, Tori glances a final look at the clock, realising it’s exactly schools out time, and that’s the last coherent thought she has. 10 minutes later she’s smelling smoke and chaos unfolds. Kapri has a burn on her hand because the espresso machine has caught fire. It’s just like a wave has crashed over Tori’s head, she comes up to gasp for air, grabbing the fire extinguisher, putting out the machine. Running over to grab Kapri, forcing the burnt hand under a cold tap, ignoring the aggressive beeping of the fire alarm. She turns around to survey the chaos, and there’s a man in a sharp suit at the counter looking grumpy as hell.

“I would like to see the owner of this establishment please” He says sternly.

The panic that wasn’t quite rising in Tori quickly bubbles up, because she realises Cam is out of town, and all they’ve got is a Hunter. Who by grace of whatever higher being has finally decided to come investigate the drama. It becomes clear quickly that grumpy as hell man is actually an inspector, and any goodness Thursday could bring is long gone down the drain.

Hunter actually turns out to be reasonably diplomatic, and as Tori helps get Kapri all bandaged up, she can’t help but overhear dramatic things like “Close the shop” and “Health and safety violations”. Hunter nodding and making short simple replies like yes and no. And once the man in the suit has gone, he just starts to push chairs in solemnly, shooing the two lingering wide-eyed customers who remained despite the chaos. It turns out an angry Hunter is just an even broodier Hunter, all dark eyes and quiet rage. He’s pushing a stool at the counter in hard enough that its squeaking its protest in some kind of discordant squeal of pain, appropriate for the situation, and for Hunter to start talking. In that moment Tori understands how measured his anger is, and how good Cam is at keeping his husbands anger at bay.

“Are you two okay?”

Kapri squeaks out a yes, Tori manages what she considers a level-headed reply in the face of the situation. “She’s got a first-degree burn, just a low tolerance for pain right Kapri?”

“Okay. Right. Go home girls. I’m gonna close up and call Cam alright. This will all work out and be fine."

Tori doesn’t believe him, she’s sure he knows she doesn’t believe him, but she smiles and leaves.


 

She’s curled up on the sofa inbetween Shane and Dustin, all warm and cozy, they're watching Point Break. It’s good, its distracting her from whatever went down at work, in fact its working so well it keeps her mind of things the whole evening. They all fall asleep on the sofa, to the sounds of Keanu Reeves, and the lapping of waves against the shore.

What wakes her up is a steady tapping at the front door. It’s hard to manoeuvre her way out of Dustin’s death grip cuddles, but she manages, placing him back down onto his boyfriend. Making her way to the front door, to find an apologetic looking Cam, whose glow in the dark watch is giving away the time as just gone 1am. He’s blurry eyed, clearly having driven the whole night just to get back to Blue Bay. And as always, he gets straight to the point.

“We’re shutting down, it’s too much money to replace the machines.” And then something changes in his eyes, and Tori finds herself at 1am on the receiving end of some pure honesty from someone she thought could only talk in snarks. “I’d let Hunter do anything you know, he was really proud of his little coffee shop. Just for somewhere for the students to go or whatever.” He pauses, managing a “Sorry Tor.” before turning on his heel and disappearing into the street light lit night.

The night comes crashing down around her, distorting whatever illusions of an equilibrium she had about the café being okay come to an immediate halt, sending her directly to bed, not even time to pass go and collect 200. It’s just like that, some bad Thursday that sends the world careening out of control. A week passes, Tori just getting up, attending classes. Coming home, watching films snuggled into the side of whichever best friend is in the apartment, or going out to surf at a stupid hour in the morning, or sometimes evening.

Blake calls, partly because Hunter gave him her number, and partly because he intuitively knows Tori won’t call or try and establish contact. She puts that down on the list of reasons her brain has time to form without work on why Blake Is perfect and she doesn’t deserve him, even though she doesn’t have him.

“Hey Tor,”

“Hi.”

Blake intake of breath is sharp over the phone, the kind of pause that is hard to fill because it’s so clearly an awkwardly loaded moment. She breaks it with a

“I was meant to call”

The “liar” he replies with doesn’t have any heat behind it. The laugh that she gives in a reply comes out more like a sob, so does the sorry.

“You okay Tori. Hunter told me what went down at the café, I’ve been on a press tour for the upcoming season”

Tori isn’t ready for the anxious pit in her stomach that’s been there since the fateful Thursday to morph back into the butterflies of previous. Tori was ready for Blake to be the kind of guy that would come, flirt with her and disappear in a whirlwind. She was not ready for the cute toothy smiles, the arms caked in mud, and the twisting of her stomach whenever Blake walks into a room because it’s something mind-blowing and new to her.

“You live near the café right?” Blake asks, and there’s a kind of determined hopeful edge to his voice, and Tori just wants to lap it all up.

“Yeah, just round the corner.”

“Do you have a car?”

“A van yeah”

“Oh a girl with a van, how about you get the van going, and come tell me what’s going on.”

Part of her wants to protest, crawl even further into her duvet and pyjamas and keep up the shtick that the world can run just fine without her, but something in the lilt of Blake’s voice has her fumbling for a pen as he gives out his address. She asks if she should hang up, but he doesn’t let her, and knowing someone else is there listening is more comforting that anything has been. He listens as she sneaks past Shane’s room, Shane snoring in the dorkiest manner finally brings a smile to her face in a way it hasn’t the past week. Blake listens to the sound of pen on paper as she scribbles a note “Went to Blake’s, have my phone, call me” leaving it on the fridge, the first-place Shane will go in the morning.

Blake’s still there on the other line as she steps outside, still there to hear the sharp intake of breath she makes as the wind chill from the beach hits her, cutting through her two coats and beanie like a knife. Never mind her pyjama bottoms flapping around her boots. She starts the van up, and wonders what the sound of the radio and the van steadily driving sounds like to Blake through the phone line. There’s no conversation, like an extended lull since he told her his address, it’s just sharing the same thought track, until Tori pulls up at the cheap flats on the edge of Blue Bay. The sight of Blake in a motocross jersey and boxer shorts waving at her from the front door of one of the second floor flats.

The beep that say’s he’s hung up doesn’t sting like it would in any other situation, instead sounding more like a hopeful promise of something. She makes it up to the flat door, Blake pulling her into a hug. It’s solid, unlike Shane and Dustin’s it speaks of more than friendship. And hey maybe this week is going to end up okay, because instead of the world turning and changing in a horrible way. Its changing for the better. The kiss he plants on her cheek does nothing but further symbolise that. Blake steps back to let her in the apartment, and she realises his jersey boxer combination is accompanied with a pair of very fetching bright electric blue socks, folded over each other, slipping down his legs. There probably the cutest thing she’s ever seen. Both very like and unlike Blake’s personality that she starts to reconsider everything she knows about him. He hands her a mug of what smells like ginger tea, and she sits down on his sofa. The way he’s moving around makes her feel like he hasn’t seen sleep in days, and it is past midnight but then she remembers Blake called her, so it must mean she was keeping Blake up.

He just lets her talk it all out, putting no pressure on her over the cups of herbal tea he keeps supplying. It settles into their normal conversation, just sleepier, and tinged in the story of the week, from her perspective. And then he drops this bombshell.

“I can fix things at the café you know.”

The smile she offers him is puzzled, questioning and urging him to go on.

“Hunter told me that the shop has a month to meet health and safety’s desires. I can pull some favours, well I’m owed some favours by the team.”

Tori’s next sentence bubbles from her without being quality control checked by her brain.

“I could kiss you”, she stutters over the end when she realises what exactly she said, and the blush is evident on her pale skin.

“You could” Is Blake’s reply, said so hopefully and endearingly.

Blake’s kind of facing towards Tori on the sofa, in an awkward position, especially for kissing, but the feeling that both of them have wanted this since the first time they met, and Tori’s the one to break the stupor, leaning forward grabbing fistfuls of Blake’s big jersey and kissing him gently. Its good, would take Tori’s breath away except she hasn’t got time to breathe in between the push of Blake’s lips against hers. Tori immediately reconsiders, it’s better than good, its perfect, especially when Blake’s tongue is pressing against her lips, begging for entrance that she gives happily. Hands are tangled in hair, pressing against one another feeling their way around each other, adjusting to the new possibilities being presented. Tori feels like it has been somewhere between hours and no time at all that they’ve been pushed against each other just making out slowly. She pulls them apart, and Blake just gives a small smile, pulling a blanket from the side of the sofa and draping it over them. She falls asleep curled up on his chest, soft and content. 


Nothing is more pleasant than waking up to sunshine streaming through the windows, and the sound of a coffee machine gargling from somewhere. There’s a brief moment of panic as Tori takes in her surroundings, before she remembers the night before, smiling as she rises from the sofa, draping the blanket around herself.

Blake’s in the kitchen, sat up on the counter swinging his legs as the coffee drips down into the jug, he’s on the phone talking quietly but animatedly. Tori can’t help but smirk at how cute he looks still in his jersey and stupid blue socks, the smile doesn’t convey how cute she thinks he looks, but the kiss she plants on his cheek probably does.

He’s elusive about who was on the phone when she asks. Just some vague answer about how it’s the answers to all of his stupid brother’s problems. And in between the soft kisses they trade over coffee and toast, smiles and tells anecdotes about Cam and Hunter. He even drops the nugget that he was on tour in Asia for some championship when his brother got married, which clears up any questions she has about why he wasn’t there. The domestic bliss is interrupted by Tori’s shrill ringtone, Shane calling for her location. It rips them out of the haze that the morning has put on them, springing them into action. Blake watches fondly as Tori leaves, still in last night’s pyjamas and hoodie, just minus the beanie, down to her van. Tori pretends she doesn’t notice how Blake brings his fingers up to trace his lips and the goodbye kiss she had left there.


The next time Tori walks into the coffee shop is 4 hours after everything’s unfolded with Blake and she feels like bliss, the kind of feeling only surfing has previously given her. It doesn’t even phase her as she walks into the shop, which is packed, she just waltzes straight over to where the counter is. Or was. The distinct lack of counter snaps her back, reminds her the café has been closed, and the group of people in here aren’t customers but friends and some unfamiliar faces, all chipping in to help restore the café. Which apparently means some redecorating, judging from the giant blueprints that have suddenly appeared under her nose, held by a very cute Blake. It feels good to Tori, that she’s the only one that gets to see him in shirt and boxers, but also, she is the only one that gets this smile. The one that Blake reserves just for her.

It turns out Blake called in his promoter, Kelly, who greets Tori in a manner that could only be described as leaving Tori feeling like Kelly was one hundred percent a boss but also her new best friend. Kelly brings in new machines, because of course she used to dabble in coffee shops, and another new face in the form of a lady called Hayley, who actually did own a coffee shop. Between the two ladies, with a little input from Hunter, as after all it is his café, had in four hours organised something like a glimmer of hope. Working as a team, the shop is being quickly reformed into something better. The kisses that Blake sneaks from Tori every five seconds help time fly.

Then it all comes to a halt. Bridge walks in the door, apologetic look on his face, slightly crazy looking flowers in his hand, making a beeline towards Kapri. The rest of them, despite some protests from Dustin, make a sneaky exit out back for a while, until Bridge emerges and apologises to everyone for the trouble he indirectly caused, blaming it on some big misunderstanding, volunteering his help.

By the end of the first day the café is looking back to something resembling old, but very much feeling new. By the end of the week they're reopening. Tori’s life resorts back to stability, and she maybe stops hating the coffee shop job that bides her time. Because in the arms of Blake back at his apartment, cuddled in his jersey and boxers with a cup of herbal tea, she realises that everything has turned out exactly how it was meant to.

She realises how much she means the ‘I love you’ that slips out of her mouth. And how much the ‘I love you too’ that comes in reply means.