Alex checked his watch. 6:58. Perfect. The coffee shop he looked for was to the side of reception, past the escalators- it was more of a trolley than a shop, really, but it functioned as one. He queued up behind two businessmen, immediately standing out in his jeans and t-shirt. He couldn’t stop his heart from pounding, and his hands were sweating despite the cool air conditioning.
Play it cool, Gaskarth. You have no fucking reason to be this nervous for a temporary job. It’s not like you’re that unlikable if you try hard and put some effort into acting normal.
A young man with purple hair like the sunset and a grin that could only be described as mischievous popped out from behind the pastry display to greet him when it was his turn. “Hey, welcome to Lucky Beanies. What can I get you?”
“Hi, I’m Alex Gaskarth, I’m the temp guy you hired?”
“Oh, perfect, dude! You didn’t need to stand in line,” the barista said, laughing. “Come in through the gap next to the vending machine, it’s good that there’s no one behind you. We start getting busy at quarter past.” He looked back to the other barista as Alex walked around the machine into the shop. “Geoff, is Rian in today?” he called out.
The other barista, Geoff, had a good natured smile and messy brown hair, dressed in a black apron and jeans identical to Awsten’s. “No, but Jack should be in.” He switched off the steamer and set the coffee on the counter. “One flat white, thanks Patrick, have a good day!”
As the businessman nodded his thanks and grabbed the coffee, Geoff turned back to Alex and Awsten. “Good to meet you, I’m Geoff, this is Awsten. Alex, right?” He held out his hand and Alex shook it.
Alex smiled in return. “Good to meet you, man. Both of you, yeah, I’m Alex.” Awsten fist-bumped Alex, still with the same charming grin on.
“Cool. Welcome to Lucky Beanies, God’s favorite coffee shop, you’re lucky to have us here, blah blah blah. Our work environment is very chill, we’re all good friends and you seem just weird and fun enough to hang out with the rest of us.”
Alex laughed, nodding. “Yeah, sounds about right. So, what can I do to help? Is there a specific role?” They think you’re weird, weirdo. But they like weird, so you’re in luck.
“Not really, we just take orders as they come. You can just watch for now, because we’re going to deal with the rush of office people in-” Awsten looked at his watch- “six minutes.” He unfolded a stool propped up against the wall. “Have a seat.”
Alex took the seat, looking around the small trolley curiously. He’s never seen the inside of a coffee shop, and with everything fitted into a small space it was overwhelming to take in all the machines – the large espresso maker, the three coffee bean grinders, the giant grill. There was a fridge for ice cream. Why was there a fridge for ice cream?
“Hey, sorry I’m late, traffic and shit. Who’s this cutie?”
Alex whipped his head around to see another man walk through the entrance. This one was tall, with a streak of teal in his black hair. Good looking, too. Shut up, Alex, you don’t even know his name.
“I’m Alex, I’m hired here for two months? The temp guy?”
“Oh, yeah, you’re filling in for Otto, cool. I’m Jack, but you can call me anytime you like.” Jack winked and smirked at his own pick-up line.
Awsten rolled his eyes as he dusted the counter. “Less flirting with the new guy, more taking orders and making coffee, Jack.”
“So, that was the worst of the morning rush,” Geoff said, unfolding another stool and taking a seat. “Now we’ve got a few hours to chill until the lunch rush, that’s from noon to two,” he explained to Alex, who nodded. “You can work on making juice during then, since you don’t know how to make coffee yet.”
“Which we’re here to teach you about,” Jack said, as he grabbed the shot he just brewed. “40 seconds, not bad.” He took a sip and handed it to Alex. “Try this.”
Alex accepted the glass, took a sip and tried his hardest not to wince. Ugh, Jesus, gross. This shit is bitter. “Uh it’s- good? I can’t tell. I’m really more of a mocha-with-five-sugars guy.”
Awsten’s grin stretched wider. “Welcome to the world of black coffee.”
“Dude, I think you’re scaring the guy.” Jack nudged Awsten, who rolled his eyes. “Anyway, making juice just means following the recipes on the wall and tossing in whatever fruits required. Not hard. Also don’t let Awsten scare you, we’re really cool people.”
“I’m not scared,” Alex laughs. “You’re okay people. I can handle the juice, but I will have to ease into the black coffee. Suppose I’ll will since I chose to work at a coffee shop.”
“By the way, I’ve texted Rian to let him know you’re here.” Jack said, looking up from his phone. “Dude’s on the other side of town seeing Zack today. Zack’s the partner running the other Lucky Beanie there. He’s a cool guy.”
“You say cool a lot,” Alex observed. What the fuck, Gaskarth?
Jack patted his shoulder, “that’s because I’m very cool.”
The shop grew silent as they all focused on their phones for a while, without any customers or conversation.
Alex drummed his fingers on the phone as he looked up around the shop, always restless. “So, why did I need to fill in for this Otto guy?”
“Oh, he had some family problems. Dad with heart problems or something,” Geoff answered. “He only asked for six weeks off but uncle gave him two months just in case.”
“Uncle?” Alex threw a strange look at Geoff.
Awsten giggled. “Geoff, Otto and I call Rian uncle sometimes even though he’s our boss because we’re like family. It’s just a stupid joke that came out of nowhere, basically we’re just calling him old.”
“And I don’t do it because he’s my brother and that’s fucking weird,” Jack added.
“Rian’s your brother?”
“Yeah, half-brother, and my boss. Has its perks.”
Alex nodded. “I can see how that works.”
Awsten got up and stuffed his phone in his pocket, seeing a customer approach. “Hi Tay, what would you like? The usual?”
“Do you know all the customers?” Alex whispered to Geoff.
“We try to. We know all the regulars by name and memorize their orders. Customer service is very important here, no matter what’s going on between ourselves we serve our customers with a smile.”
“That’s really good service, wow. You’re all trained pretty well huh?”
Geoff beamed. “We try our best.”
Alex was cleaning up the blender from the lunch rush and thinking to himself, wondering about the baristas he was working with. Were they just work friends? What do they wear outside work? What is their favorite candy? Do they smoke? What kind of food do they like? How much coffee do they usually drink on weekends, or are they sick of it since that’s what they make all day? Do they build up a tolerance to caffeine?
It was mostly to distract from the icky clumps of fruit waste that he was getting all over his hands, but part of him was more curious to learn about these guys. The good feeling he had about this job didn’t fail him, despite his anxiety enjoying shouting the opposite.
“Penny for your thoughts?” Jack asked.
“Oh, nothing, I’m just letting myself imagine what you guys are like,” Alex laughs. “I mean, I’d find out, but I like dreaming.”
“Man, that sounds hot, tell us about your fantasies,” Jack said. Alex went red.
Awsten giggled. “Don’t mind him, he’s a stupid flirt with everyone.”
“Not Geoff, or you’ll kick your sneaker so far up my ass that I’ll prolapse.”
“I don’t think you know how prolapse works.” Alex said, joining in the laughter. “Awsten, are you and Geoff a thing, then?”
“We might be.” Awsten winked.
“Might be what?” Geoff said, carrying a box of coffee beans from the storeroom.
“Oh, nothing, Jack was just talking some bullshit again.”
It was 4 in the afternoon and the tension was way too thick in the shop for Jack to stand. “Alex, want to go out for a walk?”
“Uh, we’re still supposed to work.” Alex pointed out.
“It’s okay, I can handle it with Awsten if you need a break,” said Geoff, who had been even quieter since he came back from the washroom. “There’s hardly any customers after three anyway.”
“Yeah, we can deal. Go,” Awsten said. Alex noticed that his eyes were puffy and red. Sadness didn’t look right on Awsten.
“Okay, then. As long as I won’t get in trouble.”
All three of the baristas laughed, even Awsten. “Dude, we’re all chill here. Come on.” Jack folded up his stool and motioned for Alex to come with him.
As soon as they got out through the backdoor, Alex couldn’t help asking, “What’s going on? What happened? Did I do something wrong?”
“Whoa, honey, chill.” Jack patted Alex’s back. “You didn’t do anything, you really gotta calm down a bit, we like you and you were very helpful during the lunch rush, trust me.” He sighed, running a hand through his hair. “Look, Awsten and Geoff are kind of…a thing, and sometimes they argue, okay? I don’t know if it’s a personal or work thing, but they know its fine as long as it doesn’t affect their service. I’m sorry you had to see it on your first days, it doesn’t really happen a lot. You don’t have to make conversation if it’s uncomfortable, which it clearly is when they’re like this, just text on your phone or something and wait till you’re done at work. They’ll be fine tomorrow.”
“Okay,” Alex said slowly, as they strolled around the building. “So this is not something I caused, and I should mind my business. I can do that. I just feel bad looking at them, and it’s weird seeing Awsten sad because he seemed like a happy dude.”
“He’s usually too happy. Guess things need to be balanced out somehow.” Jack shrugged. “You’ll get used to it.”
“I don’t think I could ever get used to seeing sad people.” I look at myself every day and it doesn’t get easier.
They strolled for a while longer, but Alex could never stand silence for too long. There was nothing interesting to look around either – just skyscrapers, and trees, and roads. The usual. “So, does it get weird being a third wheel all the time?”
“Not with you here, it’s a double date.” Jack winked. “Nah, usually Rian’s here for a while at least. He’ll like you, you’re hardworking. And I generally don’t mind the dudes being happy and cute, it’s nice to watch.”
“Tell me more about Rian?” Alex said. Best to know more about the boss, right?
“What do you want to know?”
“I don’t know, anything? Just want to know more about you guys in general, since we’re going to be working together.”
“Oh, well, I can tell you about myself then. I’m my favorite topic.” They both laughed at that.
“Well, tell me more about Jack then, Jack.” Alex grinned. Is this flirting? Am I flirting with the hot barista at work? Gaskarth, what the fuck are you doing?
Alex learned a lot about Jack. They strolled for half an hour before returning to the shop, Geoff still quiet and Awsten still sulky. Jack let him off at six since most of the cleanup was done and they didn’t need to take stock count that day, so Alex said goodbye and popped in his earphones as he waited for the bus home.
The guy loved dogs, and saltwater taffy, and had a weakness for microwaved food despite being a great cook. He hated Starbucks- of course, working in a local coffee shop he did. He was trained as a barista in Danes Institute in Australia, as were Awsten and Geoff. He watches Doctor Who, but never saw the appeal of British accents. Alex didn’t either, but that’s probably because he’s used to it. He likes Green Day more than Blink-182, which Alex thought was sacrilege. It was funny how much of an opinion Alex could form of Jack in half an hour, and he decided that they would be great friends.
He still had more questions. Not only about Jack, but about Rian, Awsten, Geoff. He was curious, and happy, and the workplace was less uptight and cold than he expected.
There’s another two months, Gaskarth. Stop rushing everything. Relax. The day went relatively well. Alex needed to remember not to overthink, but it wasn’t easy. Who let you have a crush on someone at work, on the first day? This day did not go well. You’re fucked and it’s going to get awkward.
Shut up, me.
He yawned as he got off the bus. He was also exhausted, and thinking was too much.
He opened the door to his apartment, took a quick shower, and fell asleep as soon as he fell onto the bed
Here's the next chapter! I'm hoping I can keep up the weekly updates :)
As always, open to all feedback and comments xx
Alex was cleaning the blender the next day when a stranger walked into the shop. Tall, with radiant eyes, wearing jeans and a button-up. “Hi, uh, can I help you?”
“Hey, I’m Rian. Alex, right? We spoke over the phone, it’s good to meet you in person” Rian said, holding a hand out for Alex to shake. Alex set the blender down and washed his hands before doing so. “Sorry I wasn’t around yesterday, I had some business to deal with. I’m just here to drop off some fresh fruit, actually. I don’t really stay here much, but I trust the boys to be responsible in training you.”
“We’re the best, uncle, have we not been the most wonderful employees?” Awsten said, winking and blowing an air kiss at Rian. “Do you want a drink? Jack’s in the storeroom by the way.”
“Latte, please. And yes, you are, but I also know how mischievous you brats can be,” Rian emptied his bag of fruit into the storage box, and waved hi to Geoff, who just came back into the shop. “I’m afraid I can’t stay, Dallas has some sort of event she wants me to attend tonight.” He turned to Alex and explained, “Dallas is my girlfriend, she’s a model. She comes over here once in a while, you might get to meet her.”
Alex nodded. That’s right, keep your mouth shut Gaskarth. Everything you say makes you sound even stupider than you are, you moron.
“They’re super cute together,” said Geoff, scrolling through Rian’s Instagram on his phone and showing Alex a photo of the couple kissing.
Alex nodded politely – the smiling pair seemed to be two pieces of a perfect puzzle. “You two seem very sweet.”
Awsten handed the latte to Rian. “Have a good time with Dallas, dude. Send her our greetings!”
“Will do, thanks.”
Geoff and Alex both said their goodbyes to Rian, as he wore his coat and checked his hair in the reflection of the espresso machine.
“Bye, guys. Be nice to Alex!”
“Why won’t you trust us? We are! I feel betrayed.” Awsten yelled after him, Alex and Geoff laughing along.
They were closing up the shop when Alex finally asked the question that had been on his mind since he started working there. “Can I ask you guys something weird?”
“Yeah, shoot,” Awsten replied.
Alex stopped wiping the counter, turning to look at him. “Is Jack in a relationship? I mean- uh, it’s just because he flirts so much.” He turned back, furiously scrubbing the counter and willing the blush to fade from his face.
Awsten and Geoff both laugh. “No, he’s not in a relationship, as far as I know,” Geoff said.
“You never know with him though. He was with that Elle girl a few weeks ago, she was all over his snapchat.”
“Nah, last time I talked to Jack about her he went entirely silent. They’re definitely done.”
So he’s not the best person in relationships. You’d never be his type, your heart is too fragile already, it’s not fun enough for him to play with.
“So he’s a bit of a player?” Alex asked, trying to sound as casual as possible, still.
Awsten scrunches up his face. “No, it’s more like he doesn’t know what he’s doing when he’s drunk but he means well. He’s just a bit of an idiot, which is cool.”
“Also he’s been flirting with you a lot because you’re totally his type, just go along with it because he’s not going to stop. Even though he knows he’s insufferable sometimes,” Geoff added.
“He probably takes pride in it,” Alex joked along. I’m his type? What does that mean?
He didn’t think he would be Jack’s type, or anyone’s for the matter. He was too insecure, a tad awkward, and just generally undesirable. He’s lucky that he’s got friends. Geoff even suggesting that Jack might genuinely be into him made his face even hotter, and a million new questions popped up in his mind, but he refused to entertain any of them tonight.
“Alex, what about you? Have you got a lucky girl or boy?” Geoff asked, as they finished washing the last of the cutlery and started packing up to leave.
Alex shook his head. “Nah. I wish, but I haven’t met anyone that I really like yet.” Well, not up until a few days ago, but that’s just a stupid crush. It will pass and you will maintain a professional relationship with Jack.
“Well, you know, Jack’s there if you’re interested.” Awsten remarked, hanging his apron up.
“Where is Jack, actually? He’s taking ages in the storeroom.”
When they got to the storeroom, they found Jack propped up against some boxes, asleep, snoring and mumbling under his breath. “Mm…yeah, faster babe, yes, that’s perfect…”
All three of the guys guffawed upon hearing him, awaking Jack. “Huh? Wh- oh shit, sorry. I watched too much Doctor Who last night and forgot to sleep.” Jack yawned, rubbing his eyes. “What are you all laughing at?”
“You were talking in your sleep,” Alex explained. His face has gone red again.
Jack grimaced. “What did you hear, and how much?”
“Enough that I wish I took a video of it,” Awsten said. “C’mon, dude, we’re leaving. Get your coat and bag from the shop and we’re good to go.”
Alex wiped the sweat from his forehead as he unwrapped the burrito he brought from home. They were allowed lunch breaks, but none of the guys usually leave the shop for lunch, so Alex decided he would bring his lunches from home too, despite them having assured him many times that it was completely fine for him to take an hour off. Today’s lunch hour rush was especially hurried, with many businesspeople who came from the conference held on the eighth floor, desperate for the caffeine to stay awake.
“That was absolute hell,” Awsten said, opening his lunchbox.
“Yeah, I went a whole hour without taking Awsten’s hat, can you believe it?” Geoff said, as he grabbed Awsten’s cap and plopped it on his head, grinning at the purple-haired boy.
Alex laughed. “A true miracle,” he joked, as Awsten stuck his tongue out and grabbed the cap back.
“You two are so in love,” Jack said, rolling his eyes. Both Awsten and Geoff stiffened, Alex noticing the tension immediately. Jack reached for his bag, still oblivious. “Well, I’m gonna go. See you guys tomorrow!”
“Wait, where are you going?” Alex asked, confused.
“Oh, right. I work a half-day shift on Fridays so that I could get ready to party at night. Brendon will be here to cover my shift.”
“See you, then. Have fun partying!”
“Thanks, sweet cheeks. You should come sometime,” Jack said, winking at Alex.
“Now who’s in love?” Awsten said, slapping Jack’s butt.
Jack feigned surprise as Geoff and Alex both giggled. “Ow! I just got spanked last night, my butt’s still sore!”
He waved goodbye to the boys, as they hungrily devoured their lunches.
Awsten was running around the shop with a string of receipts, Geoff giggling at his antics with adoration. Alex looked at the two of them in amusement. Geoff has no idea how lovestruck he looks.
“I’m a rhythmic gymnast!” Awsten yelled, twirling and waving the receipts in the air like a ribbon.
Geoff shook his head and smiled fondly. “You’re the most talented rhythmic gymnast.”
Alex, still observing silently, turned his phone on and snapped a picture, Awsten making a peace sign and posing with one leg in the air for the camera.
“I thought I might find you doing something silly like this,” said an unfamiliar voice. Alex turned around to see a handsome man with plump lips and a sleeve of tattoos down his right arm. The man walked into the shop and shook his hand. “You must be the new guy substituting for Otto! I’m Brendon, I work at the other Lucky Beanies shop most days.”
“Hey, I’m Alex, nice to meet you. What’s it like at the other shop?” Alex knew there was another shop that Rian’s partner ran, but it never came up in conversation. He assumed it would be similar to theirs, but he wasn’t the best at small talk and this was all he could muster.
Brendon shrugged as he tossed his backpack on top of Awsten’s. “The usual. Quiet, business isn’t as great there, but it’s going okay. Lunch hour rush there is the equivalent of three in the afternoon, here, so it’s just me and Vic who work there.”
Alex nodded. “That’s…chill?”
“It’s alright. Honestly doesn’t really need me and Vic both there, but boss is nice enough to let us both stay. What with the unemployment rates and all, it’s hard to find a job.”
Awsten frowned, sitting down and throwing the receipts in the nearby bin. “Business still isn’t picking up there?”
“Yeah. The usual. Zack’s been a bit stressed about it lately but he assured us that we’re not going to get laid off.”
“Zack’s a good man, he won’t do that to you,” Geoff chimed in.
“I hope not. How’s Rian and Jack?”
“The usual. Rian’s always off with Dallas, Jack’s a giant flirt.”
“Jack’s flirting tons with Alex,” Awsten piped up.
Brendon raised his eyebrows. “Hm? Well Alex does seem like someone Jack would go for. No offense dude.”
“None taken.” What do they mean by that? “Uh, what kind of people do Jack go for?”
Awsten made a face. “Not sure you’d want to know that, dude. We don’t want to hurt your feelings.”
Shit shit shit. What the fuck do they mean by that??? Is it something bad about me that Jack likes? Is he into ugly people who have no idea what they’re doing in their life?
Alex shrugged. “Try me.”
“Well, he likes guys who are, you know, handsome. But also shy, nerdy, and a good bit quieter than he is,” Geoff explained. “And brunette. He hit on me quite a bit when I first came here too, but I never really went along with his flirting.”
“At least it wasn’t just me, then,” Alex said chuckling. “But I don’t mind it, I think it’s cute. He seems like a pretty nice person.”
“He’s an absolute man-child, but he’s kind,” Brendon said. “You can imagine how much of a party animal he is though- he takes Friday afternoons off just to get in the mood.”
“We should go have a drink sometime!” Awsten suggested. “All of us, Alex too, and Jack and Rian. Zack and Vic too, the whole fucking crew… and I’m rhyming for no good reason. Fuck.”
“And Otto,” Geoff added. “He’s still in the hospital most days to look after his dad but I’m sure he can spare a day or two. Or we can do it after his break.”
At least they like me here. At college, he had no friends. Part of him dreads going back in September – a million awkward silences with the guys here seemed better than a soul-sucking lecture. Just one week in and Alex already feels like he can trust them. But maybe you’re being too gullible again, Gaskarth. Want to get you heart broken so desperately?
“Sounds good,” Alex agreed. “Thanks for including me.”
“Dude, you’re a part of our family now,” Awsten patted his shoulder.
“Here,” Alex passed the third sandwich to Geoff, immediately grabbing the butter and spreading it onto another slice of bread for the fourth. Morning rush was hell, and his hands could only move so fast.
“Cheese and ham sandwich and latte for Pete!” Geoff called out. One of the businessmen grabbed the food, thanking the barista.
As Alex handed the next sandwich to Awsten, he noticed the man, Pete, walking back to Lucky Beanies.
“Hey man, what the fuck? I asked for cheese and ham, this is peanut butter and ham. Ugh. What the fuck?” Pete shouted.
“I’m very sorry Pete, we might have had a mix up, we can make you another one free of charge as soon as possible,” Awsten responded calmly. “Alex, can you make a cheese and ham sandwich for Pete please?”
“Y, I’m sorry!” Alex stammered, pushing the current sandwich he was making aside and starting on Pete’s.
Hey, you’re really good for nothing huh. You can’t even make a sandwich that a six-year-old could. You’re not fit to work here, or anywhere. Go back to kindergarten, Gaskarth. You fucking idiot. They probably all think you’re dumb now.
He makes the sandwich, correctly this time, but Jack, Awsten and Geoff all tried to keep an eye on him for the remainder of the morning rush, just in case.
“Hey, you doing okay?” Jack asked Alex. It was 3pm so there weren’t many customers, and both Awsten and Geoff were in the storeroom taking stock counts, so it was just the two of them left at the shop. “You seemed a bit out of it today. I hope Pete didn’t upset you, he’s usually chill but maybe it’s just a bad day for him.”
Alex sighed. “I don’t think I’m cut out for working here. I can’t even make a proper sandwich order. He didn’t upset me that much, but I’m disappointed in myself.”
Jack frowned, moving his stool next to Alex and putting an arm on his shoulder. “Dude, you can’t think like that. We all make mistakes, you made all the other sandwiches correctly. We mess up coffee orders all the time, we just apologize and smile and make new ones. Don’t let this one mistake trip you up. You’re still new, and you’re already quite good at adjusting to our rhythm.”
Alex smiled weakly at Jack. “Thanks, I really appreciate that. I just tend to be quite hard on myself.”
“It’s not healthy to be like that. Not to your degree. Now myself, I know that I’m the opposite, and I’m too relaxed, but isn’t it tiring to beat yourself up all the time?”
“I don’t think about it like that. It’s just a natural part of me.”
“We’re all here to talk about it, if you need to. Look, I may be a huge flirt- especially with someone that has a cute face like yours- but I can be a great friend if you need me to.”
“Thanks, Jack.” And friends- that’s all we should be. Don’t go into dangerous territory.
“How about we go for drinks? Are you free on Saturday?”
“Sure! I’m free most days.” An event? With a friend?
Alex’s face almost had a trace of a smile.
As always, critique and feedback welcome :)
I've also made a playlist for this fic here! https://open.spotify.com/user/1290274212/playlist/53zRw0EDE9cEHuz1VAX07v
Terminology - portafilter is a tool where the coffee grounds are put in for the coffee machine, and a tamp is the tool used to compact the coffee grounds into the portafilter so that the water trickling through (to make coffee) will go through slower and thus have a stronger flavor.
“Alex, do you want a drink?” Geoff asked. It was eleven in the morning, and they were just chilling on their phones as Taylor Swift played in the background.
Alex looked up from the vine compilation he was watching. “Hm, no thanks.”
“How about I teach you to make coffee? You are working in a coffee shop after all, we should teach you the basics,” Jack offered.
Alex shrugged and smiled, putting his phone down and folding up his stool. “Sure, that sounds cool!”
“And gives you more time to flirt too,” Awsten called in the background. Jack flipped him off.
“Here, so you have the coffee grounds in the portafilter and the tamper,” Jack hands Alex the tools, and guided Alex through the steps to making an espresso shot.
Alex listened carefully and followed Jack’s instructions, nervous of doing something wrong, or worse, breaking something in the shop.
“Push harder. Like you’re a woman giving birth. But not too hard- it takes some time to form a pattern and know how much to tamp,” Jack explained.
Alex tried his best, pushing the metal tool with his arm into the coffee grounds. “Sorry, I’m not a very strong person,” he apologized.
“It’s fine, we’ve all been through that stage in training. Do you do any kind of exercise? Building up some sort of muscle helps.”
“Uh, I’m afraid I don’t really do anything of the sort,” Alex blushed, embarrassed, as he shoved the portafilter into the espresso machine. He rarely exercised, unless his family organized a hiking trip or Kellin had a sports event where he couldn’t ask someone else to go with him. “Is that more your type of guy? Jacked dudes?”
“Is that your way of saying you’d work out just to fit my type?” Jack teased. “But no, my type is you, cutie. Innocent and shy.”
Awsten and Alex laughed. “I’m probably not half as innocent as you’d think. Just because I’m younger than you doesn’t mean I’m like 12 dude,” Alex mumbled.
Jack grimaced. “Fuck no, kids aren’t my thing. But it’s a compliment, after all, who wouldn’t want a gorgeous man such as myself flirting with them?”
“What happened to the humble Jack I knew?” Geoff said, looking up from his phone and chuckling.
“Never existed,” Jack said dismissively. He grabbed the espresso shot from the machine. “Come on, it’s your own handmade coffee! 32 seconds isn’t bad for a beginner too, but we try to hit 38 perfectly for the right balance of coffee.” He raised the glass to Alex’s lips, watching as he took a sip of the coffee.
Fuck this stuff is so gross. Alex tried his hardest not to spit the espresso out.
Jack let him off after a sip, taking one himself. “A bit sour, but not too bad.”
“How do you stomach that? It tastes repulsive!”
All three baristas erupted into laughter. “It’s an acquired taste, sure, but when you taste the sweetness through the bitterness it’s all balanced out,” Geoff said. “Although I did feel the same way at first, I don’t blame you.”
“Jack’s an acquired taste too, he’ll become less insufferable and the coffee will taste better to you the longer you work here,” Awsten added, sticking his tongue out at Jack.
“Hey, fuck you, stop trying to make me look bad! It’s not my fault you don’t see my allure,” Jack said. “Right, Alex?”
“Well, you are very handsome and charming,” Alex admitted, then added, “from an objective standpoint.” Why did you say that? Now they all think you like him.
But you do like him, Gaskarth. Too much. Try not to be so eager.
“Love is in the air,” Geoff sang. Awsten frowned.
Friday nights were date nights for Geoff and Awsten. Tonight, they went to Geoff’s favorite 50’s styled diner, where they split a large basket of cheesy fries and a milkshake. With two straws, of course, not only for them but the perfect Instagram photo as well.
They chatted a while about the Netflix shows they were watching – Geoff finished Stranger Things, Awsten just got started on second season of the Good Place, before eating in silence for a bit.
“You know, this place really suits you,” said Awsten, between mouthfuls of fries.
“It’s all happy and bright, just like your smile.”
Geoff can’t help smiling bashfully, looking down. “You’re too cute. And too smooth for your own good.”
“Smooth is my middle name.”
Geoff bit his lip and raised his head. “Awsten, can we please talk about it now?”
“You know. It. You keep avoiding the conversation and it feels weird and uneasy when anyone even fucking whispers the word ‘love’ at work, and I want our relationship to have open and honest communication. I’ll say it again Awsten, I love you, and I want this relationship to work.”
Awsten sighed. “Geoff, I– I just don’t know whether I’m ready to say that. I really really like you, I do, but it’s a big commitment, and I’m not used to commitment, okay? You’re the first serious relationship I’ve had, and it’s a bit tough and I’m really just going with it, and I’m insecure about it. So give me some time, okay?”
It was Geoff’s turn to sigh. “I know it’s a lot. I guess I was just hurt, you know, because you didn’t say it back – it feels like the relationship doesn’t mean as much to you. It’s a big deal to me, you know?”
Awsten took Geoff’s hands in his. “Geoff, I promise it means so much to me. I will say it someday when I’m ready, please just give me time and bear with me? I know I act stupid sometimes, but I really care about you and I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
Geoff kissed Awsten’s forehead. “I really care about you too. I know you didn’t mean to, it’s okay, take your time. I forget that this is new to you.”
Saturday came quicker than Alex thought it would. He looked at himself in the mirror. I can do this. It is possible to have a crush on someone, maintain a professional workplace relationship with them and go out for drinks as friends.
They decided to meet at a bar down the road that Alex was familiar with. Alex tried not to get too nervous as he walked to the bar, but his hands itched to text Jack and back out, knowing that he’d be much more content in his bed with Netflix and a tub of ice cream. Get it together. You’ve gone out once in the past month, at least try to be a decent functioning human. Maybe get drunk a bit more often and I’ll shut up more often.
Alex would really like that voice to shut up more often, so he went into the bar.
“Alex, over here. First drink’s on me,” Jack said, waving him over. He swung an arm around Alex as the younger man took a seat.
They both asked for their drinks, toasting each other when the bartender served them. “Cheers to new friends,” Alex said, taking a sip of his margarita.
“And cheers to maybe more than friends,” Jack replied, chugging his vodka.
“So, uh, how’ve you been lately?” Alex asked awkwardly. You really need lessons on how to socialize, don’t you?
“I’m good, dude. Work’s been cool and all that, nothing much. Could use a warm body to spoon at night though.”
Alex tried to keep his tone as casual as possible. “You’re not going out with anyone?”
Jack laughed. “No, honey, you’d know if I was. But I am interested in a handsome young man who just started working at the coffee shop two weeks ago. You think I’ll have any luck with him?”
Gaskarth, don’t fuck this up. Let him down gently. “Do you really genuinely like the young man in question or are you just flirting and playing around with him?”
“Seriously? This was what you were worrying about, Alex? Of course I’m being real.”
Alex shrugged, taking a swig of his second margarita. “You’re kind of an enigma, you know. It’s hard to tell.”
Jack leaned in, grabbed Alex by the shoulders and kissed him. He’s a good kisser, I’ll give you that. But you fucked up royally. He tasted like vodka, of course. As they separated, Jack looked into Alex’s eyes. “I really like you, Alex.”
“I really like you too, Jack. But-“
“But?” Jack raised his eyebrows.
“But it’s complicated, you know, since we’re working together and all.”
“Awsten and Geoff make it work,” Jack countered. “We could too.”
“Speaking of Awsten and Geoff, are they dating? They seem to be a couple, but they get all tense when people point it out.”
“They just need to figure it out themselves.”
After a few more drinks and more conversation, Alex felt the nasty voice in his head finally shutting up.
“You know, you said you weren’t as innocent as I thought, so why don’t you show me?” Jack said, stumbling into Alex’s apartment.
Alex pushed him against the wall and kissed him, one of his hands palming Jack’s hard cock through his jeans. “I’ll show you, all right.”
He left Jack to undress, heading into the bathroom to prepare himself. When he came out, he stopped for a moment at the door, stunned by Jack’s beautiful naked body. Then he snapped back to reality, pressing a kiss to Jack’s lips before he went down on his knees, pushing Jack down on the bed. He took Jack’s cock into his mouth, bobbing his head up and down whilst keeping eye contact with Jack. Jack pushed Alex’s head down further as Alex’s fingers played with his balls, until Alex’s eyes watered from the lack of breath and he was choking on Jack’s dick.
“Sorry, did I take it too far?” Jack asked, concerned.
Alex shook his head vigorously. “No, I love it,” he replied, and turned his attention back to Jack’s cock, swirling his tongue around the sensitive head, Jack’s moans like music to his ears. His fingers worked their magic until he felt Jack’s dick harden, taking it into his mouth again as he felt Jack come down his throat.
Jack looked down at him, breathless, when he was finally done. “Best blowjob of my life.” He tasted himself on Alex’s tongue as Alex kissed him.
“Jack, fuck me, please, I need you.” Alex’s cock was hard as he scrambled onto the bed, getting on all fours while Jack stroked himself until he got hard again and put on a condom.
He entered Alex at an agonizingly slow pace, trying to go gentle on him, until Alex finally pleaded for him to go faster. “Please, Jack, just go rough on me, I can take it, I just need you inside me.”
Jack grunts as he quickened his pace, eventually slamming into Alex, whose eyes were rolling back in pleasure as he moaned and whimpered. He reached around to stroke Alex’s cock as he felt himself close to coming. “I’m close, Alex.”
Alex only whimpered in response as Jack quickened his grip on Alex’s dick, and the most brilliant orgasm washed over him. He let out a loud moan as he came, still pumping in and out of Alex, until a few seconds later when Alex reached orgasm, his eyes glazing over in pleasure.
Alex couldn’t sleep. He can’t do anything but think about Jack after what happened yesterday. He spent the whole day staring at a textbook without reading the words, after he woke up to a note beside him that said ‘Last night was glorious. See you at work, I’ll get out of your hair while you spend the day recovering ;) text me!’
Now you’ve gone and fucked it all up. What happened to just staying professional work friends? What are you going to do when you go back to work? Now that he’s fucked you so easily, he’s probably going to move on to some other young thing whose heart he can play with. You’re probably just some common whore to him.
Alex screamed, tears running down his cheeks. He was doing so well, and now the voice in his head is louder than ever, berating him constantly for everything he does.
Fuck, it was going so well, wasn’t it?
He sighed and wiped his tears away. He knows he’ll have to face Jack at work, but he doesn’t know what to do, he’ll probably just have to ignore Jack for the remaining weeks he has at work. He hates that he let himself lose control so easily, he shouldn’t have had that fourth margarita, and he definitely shouldn’t have slept with Jack. Jack was probably saying all those nice things just to get him in bed, or as he puts it, to have a warm body to spoon at night.
There’s no way Jack would like a loser like you. Get over it Gaskarth, just go to sleep and go to work and try to be a normal human being instead of a childish moron for once in your life.
He cried himself to sleep, the voice in his head singing a cruel lullaby.
Sorry for such a long gap between updates! This one is a shorter chapter - a bitch to write but also very fun, I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I do!
Shoutout to Sugar, who introduced me to the bandom and who I'm gonna meet tomorrow :D it has nothing to do with the chapter itelf but she's to thank for giving me inspiration to write :)
All comments, feedback and critique appreciated xx
It was past noon when Jack showed up to work on Monday. Alex was making sandwiches, consciously avoiding him when he came in.
“Where the fuck were you?” Rian asked, frowning.
Jack ran a hand through his hair. “Overslept, sorry.”
“Jack, you missed both the morning and afternoon rush. We really could have used the extra hand.”
“Look, I’m here now, okay? God, chill, dude,” Jack muttered, grabbing his apron off the hook.
Rian crossed his arms. “I’ve got to go now, but we’re not done with this. If your weekend parties are going to make you this out of shape at work you might want to consider partying a bit less and growing up a bit more.”
“This is one time! What the fuck, Rian, who peed in your cheerios?”
Rian huffed. “Look, Jack, you know you’re like a brother to me but this kind of behavior is unacceptable.”
Jack crossed his arms. “What are you going to do, fire me?”
Rian heard Alex’s sharp intake of breath from behind him. He looked away from Jack. “Don’t be silly. Just get to work, I’m leaving to get more fruit from the grocer’s.”
As soon as Rian was out of the building, Jack looked at Awsten. “What did you do to piss him off?”
“What? Why are you assuming I did anything? You’re the one who’s seven hours late to work!” Awsten cried.
“Geoff and Alex are both too good to piss him off, and I wasn’t here.”
“Well for the record, he wasn’t mad before you got here. So it’s definitely you,” Awsten said, running up to the counter as a customer approached. “Welcome to Lucky Beanies. What can I get you?”
Jack turned to Geoff. “Was what he said true?”
“Yeah, dude. Are you okay? Partied a bit too hard?” Geoff teased, but concern seeped through his tone.
Jack nodded. “I’m good, man. A bit tired is all. Didn’t party, actually, I spent last night at home with some Franzia.”
“Bit too much maybe,” Awsten interjected. He pulled up a chair next to Alex and nudged him. “What’s up? You’re so quiet today.”
Alex shrugged. “Just a bit tired.”
“Well you and Jack over there can go nap together in the storeroom,” Awsten teased. “Geoff and I can handle the shop.”
Alex forced a laugh, his eyes still glued to his phone. Just don’t look Jack in the eye and act like a normal fucking human being. Professional co-workers, remember.
“Dude, what the fuck is going on? You’ve been acting weird all day.” Awsten confronted Jack after sending Alex home early, since they didn’t have many customers that day. Geoff left with him, having a wedding to attend.
Jack slammed the grill down. “Nothing, okay? Jesus fucking Christ.” Alex has been avoiding him all day, barely exchanging more than greetings and mumbled ‘excuse me’s.
“You’ve not even flirted with Alex at all,” Awsten pointed out. “You’re not yourself. Come on, Jack, I’ve known you for so long and you’ve never been like this. I’m asking you as a friend, not a co-worker.”
Jack buried his head in his hands. “Look, I did something stupid, okay? But I’m fine, I’ll figure it out, I just need some time to clear my head. This has nothing to do with whether I party or not.”
Awsten nodded. “Just let me know if you want to talk or some shit okay? I’m a good friend for messing around with but I’m also here to listen.”
Jack looked up. “Okay, fine.” He took a deep breath. “No judgement, ‘kay?”
“Yes, of course not.”
“I slept with Alex.”
Awsten’s hands flew to his mouth, his eyes wide.
“You said you won’t judge me.”
“Fuck, you slept with Alex? Dude. I’m not judging you but- Alex, dude.”
Jack’s expression hardens. “I know. I know how much I fucked up, okay? And I’m kind of shit with relationships and I don’t even know if he really likes me. But I really like him and I know I’ve gone and screwed it up. Go ahead, yell at me about how foolish it is to sleep with someone I work with.”
Awsten’s voice had a hint of amusement to it. “I should be the last person qualified to tell you that. Even though I haven’t slept with Geoff.” He put a hand on Jack’s shoulder. “Look, that’s the most sincere I’ve seen you talk. I will say, you did both kinda fuck shit up by sleeping. With your colleagues,” Awsten grimaced. “But you two should talk, sort it out, chat about your feelings towards each other and whatnot. It’s what Geoff and I do.”
“Thanks, Awsten. I’m not good at the whole talking feelings out shit. Or the whole relationship deal, I don’t know if I’m down with that. I’m not scared of commitment, I just- I just don’t want my feelings to be messed with, okay? I’m really not down with that. It’s just easier flirting, and only flirting, with everyone.”
Awsten shook his head. “That’s not right, dude. That’s not healthy. Look, tell me if I’m crossing a line, but you might want to think about why that is–”
“I know why,” Jack cut him off. “It’s personal.”
“Just saying, you might want to try working on it, is all. And talk to Alex, okay?” Awsten patted Jack’s shoulder before standing up, slinging his backpack over his shoulder. “I’ll see you tomorrow. Set an alarm.”
“Thanks, dude. I’ll think about your advice and stuff.”
Jack dragged himself off the stool, too many thoughts swimming in his head as he left the shop.
Alex still couldn’t get his mind off Jack by Wednesday night. He was trying to read the news, catch up on the world around him that he so often neglected, but his head and heart pounded in tandem screaming jackjackjackjack. He clenched his fists, gritted his teeth and willed his mind to concentrate with all his energy.
His phone buzzed with a new text message.
Jack: Hey, can we talk?
He paused, looking at the message. What did Jack want?
Jack: I know you’ve been avoiding me and shit and I don’t really blame you. I’ve been avoiding you too.
Jack: But it’s not right to tiptoe around each other for another six weeks.
Alex picked up the phone, typing very slowly and second-guessing each letter.
Alex: Hi. Yeah, sorry. I’m not good at this. What do you want to talk about?
Jack: Can we not be weird at work anymore?
Alex: Yeah. Sorry about that. I’m just so sorry.
Jack: No dude, stop apologizing. I just want us to be cool, okay? You’re a great person and I like being your friend.
Jack: And let me know if I’m flirting subconsciously or some shit so I can stop
Alex bit his lip. He so wanted to tell Jack that it’s okay to flirt with him. That Jack was more than welcome to smile at him and say sweet things. That he wanted to say them back and pull Jack into the biggest hug and kiss his beautiful lips.
But none of it was okay.
“Hey, Alex, you said you had a friend coming over?” Awsten asked. They just handed coffees out to the last of the queue that piled up at lunchtime, and everyone was taking their own lunches out.
“Yeah, my friend Kellin said he wants to stop by and check out the shop, since he’s in the area,” Alex replied. Kellin was his roommate for his first year in college and even though they don’t live together anymore, they regularly meet up for coffee or a movie.
“Is he shy like you?” Geoff asked curiously.
Alex shook his head. “He’s a good bit louder. Besides, I’m not really that shy.”
Geoff chuckled. “I’ve been called shy and I don’t think I am either, I’m just soft spoken. But I would say you’re definitely more than a slight bit timid. It’s not always a bad thing, Alex.”
“Yeah, maybe.” Alex went back to his lunch, taking a bite out of his peanut butter sandwich. It has lost most of its appeal after he had spent the whole morning making sandwiches nonstop, but it filled him up, so he was content with it.
“Hi, welcome to Lucky Beanies, what can I get you?” Jack went up to greet an approaching customer. The customer in question had shoulder-length black hair and was dressed in black from head to toe, complete with leather jacket.
“I want him,” the customer said grinning, pointing to Alex, “to make me a cup of coffee.”
Awsten laughed. “You don’t.”
Geoff added, “You really don’t.”
Alex flipped both of them off and walked up to the counter. “Kellin, dude, what can I get you?”
“I would like a kiss, open mouthed and with tongue, please.” Kellin winked as Alex laughed. Jack felt his fists clench up as he rolled his eyes. Who does this guy think he is to flirt with Alex, his Alex?
Oh, right, he was Alex’s friend. Does everyone flirt with Alex?
Kellin looked at the menu, humming. “Okay, fine, no kiss. I’ll have a hazelnut latte please.” Jack nodded, his face expressionless as he worked the till.
When Jack got to making Kellin’s coffee, he couldn’t help but wonder if he has competition. This is all uncharted territory for him – he has never slept with someone without a clear understanding of how the relationship, or lack thereof, stood between them, and Kellin just made it more complex.
He drizzled the hazelnut syrup on and placed the cup on the counter. “Hazelnut latte for Alex’s friend,” he said in his coldest, most unfriendliest tone possible.
“Have a nice day!” Awsten added, turning his back so that neither Jack nor Kellin could see his frown. He didn’t know if Jack had any history with Kellin, but the man should understand by now that customer service was vital in their industry and personal affairs should not affect work.
As soon as Kellin was out of earshot, a furious Alex grabbed Jack by his shirt collar. “What the fuck was that?”
“What was what?”
“You were being so rude to Kellin! He’s my friend, do you know how embarrassing this is? Besides, I thought you valued customer service more than that.”
“You and I both know this has nothing to do with fucking customer service! Why is he allowed to flirt with you and I’m not?”
“Because he’s my friend and he knows I don’t have a fucking crush on him, okay?”
Jack’s eyes widened. “What?”
“What?” Alex seemed just as shocked with what he said. “Fuck, what I meant was–“
“Shh. I like you too, stupid,” Jack pulled the younger boy in for a kiss, and Alex’s body leaned willingly into his, their arms wrapping around each other. Jack traced his tongue along Alex’s smile, and Alex savored the taste of Jack’s mouth.
Awsten grinned at the two as Geoff looked on in a combination of surprise and amusement.
As they heard someone clearing their throat, Jack and Alex stopped, separating from each other.
Rian was looking at them in anger and confusion. “What the fuck is going on here on this day?”