“Thanks for coming! Have a grand day!” Yona smiles as she hands the customer their coffee with a small note written on the side. ‘Have a brew-tiful day!’ She knows it’s just a quirky little pun but if it can brighten someone’s day, then she would be happy with just that, even if it’s just a small smile. Mornings can be rough for anyone who’s in a rush and in dire need of caffeine to jump start their day. So, Yona was resolved to make sure she added a kind note to each order when she worked.
The Dragon Cafe. Known for its stellar customer service and legendary coffee. The staff always knew how to keep their customers happy and coming back for more. A smile here, a kind gesture there, and to top it off, sweet notes written on their drinks. Yona looked over at the register area where Jae-Ha took the next order. His way of charming the customers always astonished her. He was a natural. The ladies loved him, the men admired him, and even some felt empowered by him. He always knew the right thing to say to a customer, no matter the situation. His self-confidence was one of the things Yona admired. She didn’t envy it, despite her own wishes to have a fraction of it, but it was just part of what made him who he is. And she wouldn’t change it for anything. Jae-Ha had become one of her closest friends working together at the cafe, despite all his charms and teasing he likes to save for Yona to make the girl flustered- a favorite past time of his much to her displeasure. But most of all, it was when he would visit the cafe that Jae-Ha liked to tease her even more. And today was going to be one of those days…
She sees him walk in with his usual buddy at his side. His dark, shaggy hair that nearly covers his bright, blue eyes she could easily pick out from a crowd. The serious look on his face that could freeze anyone in place, but not usually in the way he would hope. Today, he wears a blue V-neck shirt fitted around his long,muscular torso, the color complemented his eyes, and black jeans that were loose around his legs but snug around his hips. Yona couldn’t help but stare as he walks in, nearly forgetting the current latte she was supposed to be making as the pair get in line.
Jae-Ha was standing next to her, watching as she ogled at mister tall, dark, and handsome. A devious smile stretches his lips as he leaned over her shoulder. “Yona…” he kept his voice low but light in a sing-song voice to get her attention. “You’ll catch flies with your mouth open like that. Besides, I don’t think you can froth that much more, darling.” Yona gasped and turned it off, removing the cup before the contents spilled out to move onto the steaming wand. She could still feel him standing over her shoulder with that smug grin on his face, just waiting to tease her about it, but remained silent as she finished the order. The shorter the line gets and the closer the two men get to ordering, Yona can feel tiny pinpricks covering her body and her stomach tighten in knots. It was finally their turn and Yona greeted them with her usual smile.
“Welcome back! What can I get for you two today?” Yona asked cheerfully despite feeling like her body was shaking like a maraca.
“Yona! Don’t you look radiant today! Don’t you think, Hak?” His friend beamed while the dark-haired man tried to not look annoyed.
“Do you have to do this every time? Sorry, Yona, I know how busy you are. I couldn’t believe the line had already reached the door by the time we got here,” Hak said, offering an apologetic smile to her. The softness in his eyes made her feel as if she could melt into a puddle before them.
“Oh no, don’t worry about that. And thank you, Soo-won, you’re too kind as always. So, what shall it be? Trying something new again, today?” She asked looking between the two.
“Just a black coffee for me today, Yona. Make it the strongest you have,” Hak answered.
“And I would love a chai latte if you don’t mind, gorgeous.” Soo-won smiled.
Yona typed in their order trying to keep her eyes trained on the screen in front of her and print the tickets for both drinks. Soo-won was a lot like Jae-ha she had come to realize. Always a flirt. Although, Soo-won seemed more reserved for the ladies and wasn’t as straight forward or as boisterous as Jae-ha’s flair tended to have. The sentiment was sweet but it paled in the way Hak saying her name filled her stomach with butterflies. It was thick and smooth as honey with his tenor voice. Soo-won paid for them both since Hak paid the time before, the two always switching off on who covered their drinks instead of creating separate orders to save on time. Handing him their receipt, she hurried to the coffee bar to get started on their drinks while they walked over to the side to wait. With more coffee brewing and seamlessly moving around her other coworkers, she grabbed two cups and labeled them accordingly. Hak’s wouldn’t take nearly as long to prepare so she sets his next to the coffee pot with a coffee sleeve slid around it and went to work on Soo-won’s. While she prepared the latte, Jae-ha peeked at the order on the other cup and smirked. He pulled a marker from his apron pocket and quickly scribbled a little note, ‘Tall, dark, and strong just like you.’ He set the cup back down and continued on his way for the new orders coming in. Time to get the ball rolling, Yona-dear.
Finally finished with the chai latte, Yona made a small note on the cup. ‘Thanks a latte!’ Since Soo-won paid this time around, it was his turn to get the note on his cup. She liked to make sure they both got one each time they came in so would take turns writing a note between them just as they took turns paying for their order. “Order up for Soo-won!” Yona called. She turned to grab the second drink behind her and held them both out as he met her at the pick-up counter. Soo-won grabbed the drinks from her hands and turned his around to see what note she had for him today.
“Why, thank you a latte as usual,” Soo-won smiled brightly with a wink and a light chuckle. Yona chuckled back and waved him off as he turned to give Hak his drink. “And one large black coffee to match your black soul.”
Hak rolled his eyes and took the drink, grateful to finally have the needed caffeine after a long shift and ignoring the urge to retort. “Let’s just hope this is strong enough to get me through the rest of the day.” He took a sip and sighed. “Perfect.”
Soo-won seemed distracted by something, staring at Hak as if there was something on his face. “What? Something wrong with your chai?”
Soo-won smirked then reached out towards Hak’s drink. He tried pulling it away from the man’s reach but Soo-won just rolled his eyes and tried turning it around in his hand. “Looks like someone gets an extra message now.” Hak stared at the words written on his cup. He never would’ve thought to look had Soo-won not shown him.
“She writes everyone a note.” Hak said plainly not wanting to think about the potential message behind the words. “She probably had a little more time to write one for both of us since we had a simpler order this time.”
Soo-won was unconvinced but decided to sip at his own drink instead of say otherwise. Hak tried to not think about it but his mind kept circling back to it. He’d be lying to himself if he said he hadn’t found the barista attractive. Her short and wavy, red hair framing a cute round face. Not to mention how short and tiny she is was a whole other level of cute. But, it was her smile and the way she went the extra mile to make other people smile that he noticed most and drew him towards her. He turned around just before they left the little cafe to see her taking the next order, her smile shining brighter than anyone else’s. See you tomorrow. He thought with a smile then turned back to follow Soo-won.
“Whew! What a day.” Yona wiped her brow with the back of her hand after finishing sweeping. The day had finally reached its end and the little cafe was now empty and quiet. It was strange to not see the normal hustle and bustle that filled the place but the workers took a little bit of peace from it nonetheless.
“Another grand day, you might say?” Jae-ha teased, leaning against the counter he had finished cleaning.
“I think it’s sweet that Yona takes the time to put some thought into her messages for the customers!” Kija countered coming to Yona’s defense.
“It’s alright, Kija. Jae-ha is just teasing,” she smiled at him. Always the sensitive one. Kija never cared for Jae-ha’s flirtatious games or how he enjoyed teasing Yona any chance he got.
“So, what are you going to write on lover boy’s cup tomorrow?” Jae-ha asked, ignoring Kija.
Yona looked over at Jae-ha confused. “Lover boy?” She inquired, trying to think who he could be talking about.
Innocent, sweet child… Jae-ha sighed. “You know, Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome.” A smirk creeped on his face as her face turned bright red.
The man just shrugged. “What? Anyone with eyes can see just how gorgeous that man is. And someone has an adorable crush on him.” He waggled his eyebrows at her. Anxiety started twisting her stomach into knots the more flustered she felt. Her body could be set on fire and she probably wouldn’t know the difference with how hot she felt.
“I-I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she turned away in hopes he would drop the subject but she should’ve known better.
“Mhmm… so what was he wearing today?”
Yona looked up as if recalling but a soft smile returned to her face as she could see him as clear as day in her mind’s eye. “He was a bit more casual today than usual, don’t you think? But that blue shirt really brought out his eyes. Made them seem brighter even though he looked more tired today. Sounded like he had just got off from a long shift.” She could feel her face heating up again just thinking about the man but then her body turned stiff. Shoot! How did he- She turned around, her eyes wide as she faced Jae-ha again but his relaxed posture had not changed. It was then Shin-ah emerged from the back with a towel and his apron slung over his shoulder.
“The kitchen is clean,” he informed them before taking in the quiet scene. Yona glaring at Jae-ha who seemed much too relaxed while Kija kept his arms crossed looking a bit disgruntled. He imagined that was also Jae-ha’s doing so he turned his eyes towards the green-haired man.
“See you tomorrow, princess,” Jae-ha winked, pushing himself off the counter as turned to leave while the others finished closing up and ignoring their stares. Yona stood there gaping at him in disbelief that she had fallen into his trap. Tomorrow...she knew there would certainly be more in store for her then...and she wasn’t sure she was quite ready for it.
The next day came and they fell back into their normal routine. Occasionally, Yona would glance towards the door to see if a certain someone had arrived yet. The conversation with Jae-ha the day before plagued her mind.
So what if I like him? It’s like he said, anyone can see how handsome Hak is. It’s just a natural attraction… Yona tried convincing herself, but the knots and butterflies in her stomach told a different story. Then just as the lunch rush was coming in, he finally arrived. Yona felt her heart skip a beat as he walked in with Soo-won and a few of his work buddies, all still in their uniforms for the Kouka Fire Department. It wasn’t often she got to see him in his uniform- the button-down shirt neatly tucked into his pants and well-fitted to his muscular frame- hearing how much he hated the formal look it gives. However, she couldn’t help but love this look on him, too.
“Do I need to call them over here to put out a fire?” Jae-ha whispered in her ear, jolting her out of her trance.
“Jae-ha!” She hissed trying to not spill the drink in her hand as she put a lid on it and called out the name of the order. The girl grabbed the drink with a quick thanks then hurried out as Yona wheeled on her coworker. Her cheeks puffed out ready to give him a piece of her mind but he was already back at the register hitting on the next customer. She groaned inwardly and shook her head. With a deep breath to calm back down, she resolved herself and got back to work.
The line steadily moved as orders were taken. Hak and his crew creeped closer to the register to order, and Yona could feel a bead of sweat began to perspire on the back of her neck. Great! Now Jae-ha has me even more flustered! Ugh, just calm down! She tried telling herself, finishing an order of cold brews for a small group of students that came to study. Then, as usual, Jae-ha made sure the rotation of who was taking orders would make sure Yona was next to take Hak’s order.
“Good afternoon! What can I get for you today? I see you have the whole crew with you this time,” Yona smiled as she stood at the register, watching the tall, dark-haired man.
Hak sighed and ran a hand down his face. “Unfortunately… but pay them no mind, they just wanted to tag along. I doubt if they even actually order. Blame Soo-won, he’s kind of a pushover when it comes to letting people stick around to talk.” He gave her one of his rare smiles not knowing the effect it had on her.
Yona swallowed past the lump about to form in her throat and gave a light chuckle. “Oh, don’t worry about it! So, what shall it be today?”
He rattled off his and Soo-won’s order since the blond was too busy in deep conversation with one of the lady firefighters, insisting that she get a drink from here as well. Yona handed Hak his receipt after finishing the order with a sweet smile and couldn’t help but notice the way his fingers for a split second had brushed over hers when grabbing the receipt from her hand. The warmth sent tiny sparks through her fingers and made its way down her arm. With a small blush she kept hidden behind the wall of coffee blenders, makers, and other machines, she focused on the order at hand. She took Hak’s cup, wrote ‘Have a brew-tiful day!’ on the side, set it down, and turned to work on Soo-won’s. Jae-ha passed behind her to start on a mocha latte and glanced at the note she chose for Hak. Quickly, he made a couple of marks near the bottom of the cup and then continued with his task. Yona came back, finished both drinks then went to the pick up counter.
“Order up for Hak!” Even saying his name stirred the butterflies. He walked up to the counter and reached for both cups.
“Thanks, Yona,” he said with a smile. “Have a good one.”
Yona returned the smile with a nod. “You too, Hak. See you next time!”
Hak felt his heart skip a beat as she smiled up at him. It was the same thing every day, yet… would it continue to stay that way? Before he made a bumbling fool of himself, he turned away to take Soo-won his drink. “Here.” He said holding the cup out to the blond.
“Oh, why thank you,” Soo-won grabbed the drink and took a sip, while eyeing his friend. “So… what message did you get today?” He smirked from behind his cup but his eyes hid nothing.
Hak rolled his eyes and lifted the cup to read the message. “‘Have a brew-tiful day,’ there you happy?” But his eyes noticed something more. Just below the message, a pen had marked through parts of the warning label on the cup. Careful,
the beverage you’re about to enjoy is extremely hot. His face warmed up and his hand immediately covered the message back up as he took a drink. He tried to play it off like nothing out of the norm had happened, not wanting to give Soo-won the satisfaction.
Soo-won was no fool. He knew Hak better than anyone, probably even better than the man knew himself. Despite being a normally quiet guy, he was acting a bit different and a little too quiet after he read the message on the cup. “Anything else?” Soo-won couldn’t help but ask. “Nothing to follow up from yesterday’s note, perhaps?”
Now, the rest of their group had their attention drawn to their conversation. Hak glanced at each one of them then rested back on Soo-won’s smug grin. That look was enough to help Hak compose himself. He straightened his shoulders and relaxed as he took another sip. “Nope. Looks like you were wrong, as much as you hate to hear it.” He said casually then proceeded to walk past him letting the rest follow behind. Despite his words being said to Soo-won, he couldn’t ignore the fact he was eating his own words. Don’t I want to be wrong, though?
Yona watched them as Hak leads the small crowd out the cafe doors while Jae-ha huffed behind her. She turned around seeing a rather agitated and perplexed look on his face. “Everything alright?” She asked the man.
He rubbed his chin, still looking at the front entrance while mumbling under his breath. “There’s no way he didn’t see it, so why didn’t he… Hmm…”
Yona couldn’t seem to get a proper response out of him and wasn’t sure what he was even mumbling about. She looked back at the door wondering what had Jae-ha so fixated, but it wasn’t long until her mind wandered back to a familiar face. If only things were different… maybe I’d have the courage to tell you how I really feel.
The next few days mirrored the same. Busy days at the Dragon Cafe, Yona taking Hak and Soo-won’s orders while Jae-ha continued with his plans to help unite the pining couple. His attempts seemed futile as neither said anything more to the other, namely Hak since Yona had been kept in the dark all this time. However, that all changed one day when Zeno’s shift changed with Kija’s. Zeno came in as cheery as ever tying the apron around his waist.
“Another brew-tiful day, yeah?!” He grinned with a chuckle. Walking past Yona and Jae-ha to man the drive-through window, he saw the next order sitting near the pick up counter. Reading the label, he noticed the note Jae-ha had already written. His eyes widened as he jumped up and bounced over to Yona. “The little miss finally did it?! You finally confessed?”
Yona freezed in her path and turned towards the small blond. “W-What? What are you talking about?!” She panicked and quickly moved over to him to see what she may have accidentally written. It’s supposed to be Soo-won’s turn, did I somehow write on Hak’s instead? But wait, why would Zeno think- Her eyes grew twice their size and looked around to see Jae-ha trying to act a little too casual. “Jae-ha…” she hissed trying to keep the blush from darkening her cheeks.
The culprit in question sighed and pushed his long green bangs out of his face before walking over to her. “Look, I just wanted to try to help. I thought he would’ve at least said something to you by now and make the next move but-”
“Jae-ha…” the color drained from her face, “what do you mean by that? Why would he…” The wheels in her head turned and she clutches her chest. “You mean this isn’t the first time?! How long have you been doing this?” Panic was setting in. Her breathing shallowed into quick short bursts. Jae-ha put his hands on her shoulders, forcing her to look at him.
“Yona.” His voice was direct but gentle as his eyes stared into hers. “It’s going to be okay. Look, if he didn’t feel the same way about you then he wouldn’t be in here every day like clockwork. And I see the way he looks at you. It’s the same way you look at him.” He paused to give her a small smile. “I just want you to be happy, dear.”
Shin-ah came out from the kitchen to refill the pastry case only to see Yona in a panic with Jae-ha trying to comfort her. He set down the tray of baked goods and walked over to make sure everything was alright. Yona watched as Shin-ah approached with his quiet demeanor and then looked at Zeno who still smiled warmly. Then she looked back into Jae-ha’s eyes. The calm confidence they held mixed with his calm voice and seeing her friends to surround her in support helped ease Yona and brought her breathing to be more leveled again. She gulped a big breath of air and released it slowly, nodding to Jae-ha and the others she was alright now.
“We all want the little miss to be happy.” Zeno chirped in with a bright smile before setting the headset on his head and turning away from the pair. Shin-ah nodded in agreement and gave her one of his rare smiles then also retreated back to his duties, leaving her in Jae-ha’s capable hands. However, that didn’t last long either.
“Is everything alright?” A voice sounded from behind her. If she didn’t already know that voice so well, the look on Jae-ha’s face certainly gave it away. His smile turning slightly smug then gave her a wink before turning her around to face the source of the voice. Yona swallowed dryly but managed to give him a smile.
“Sorry, yes everything is fine. Um, oh! Here’s yours and Soo-won’s order.” She tried covering up the awkward situation by handing him the two to-go cups. Her eyes caught the message on Hak’s drink and felt her face warm up again. Hak reached for the cups but his eyes stayed trained on her, his expression concerned.
“Are you sure you’re alright?” He asked setting the cups down. “You don’t seem like you feel well.”
His concern for her warmed her heart and tightened the knots already formed in her stomach. She pressed her lips together, taking a deep breath through her nose as she looked up at him. Just do it. You can do it! Jae-ha’s right...right? No, forget about that. Focus!
“I like you a latte!” She blurted out to him then realized she just said the message Jae-ha had written on Hak’s cup rather than try to explain the current situation to the man before her. Her face turned two shades brighter red than her own hair as fear and embarrassment reflected through her eyes at him. His cheeks turned a bit red and she worried that she had just embarrassed him, too but then he covers his mouth with his hand. He mumbled something she couldn’t quite make out then he removed his hand revealing a sly grin she had yet to see on his face before. Liquid fire burned through her stomach and now she questioned herself if she really even had seen a blush on his face or not mere seconds ago.
“Are you always so articulate? I didn’t realize puns were more than just part of the job,” he teased her leaning against the counter between them. Her jaw dropped. She didn’t expect this kind of response and she didn’t know how to reply back. What was she doing again? Her thoughts short circuited as she stood there gaping at him. His hand reached out and a single finger tucked under her chin lifting her jaw up to close. The simple touch brought fire to the rest of her face. Maybe he needs to put out a fire after all, her mind couldn’t help but wander back to Jae-ha’s comment a few days ago. “Don’t tell me you’re a loss for words now. And here I thought we were finally making progress.” Hak winked at her, withdrawing his hand.
Yona felt as if her entire body turned into a blazing inferno. Her thoughts have turned to ash and her throat dried up, unable to do anything but silently scream on the inside.
“Why is this line so backed up?!” A voice rang out and the sound of a large door shutting close. “Yona!”
The woman squeaked and turned around to see Yun, their manager, standing at the end of the coffee bar on the other side of Jae-ha. “Sorry!” she apologized then quickly turned back to Hak handing the drinks back to him he had set down. With a smile and finally out of her daze, she found the lost words she needed. “I get off at 5.”
Hak grabbed the drinks from her once again but leans in close, dropping his voice. “I’ll be here,” he straightened back up and just before turning away, he added, “I hope you like ramen!”
Yona watched as he walked away and handed Soo-won his drink, the butterflies stirring crazy in her stomach. I...have a date!
“Yona!’ Yun called out to her again as Jae-ha tried to keep from laughing.
“Right! Coming!” She called back and hurried to the register to help the next customer. Her smile shining a little bit brighter for the rest of her shift and a happy bounce in her step. It certainly was a brew-tiful day.