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crush culture || kendall knight

Chapter Text

❝ you make me feel like a
teenager in love, you make me
feel like i'll be forever young❞

KENDALL GROANED AS HE HEARD A CRASH FROM OUTSIDE HIS BEDROOM, throwing a throw pillow over his head to block out the noises and lights. He'd had to go into the studio yesterday for nearly twelve hours trying to fulfill one of Gustavo's checklists, and about halfway through, he'd started developing a migraine. He'd shrugged it off the night before and tried to sleep it off, but it had somehow gotten worse overnight.

Thankfully, he would have the day off, as he'd managed to get a few harmonies done the day before. He reached toward his navy blue curtains and pulled them over the sunlight leaking in through his window, laying still as he waited for the noise in the apartment to die down.

It was moments like this that he longed for his life in Minnesota. While he was thankful that he'd been given such a privileged life in California, he knew that if he hadn't gone to the auditions with James six months ago, he would've been at the ice rink at the moment, practicing for a hockey scholarship. He wouldn't have learned the meaning of 'stress migraine,' and he definitely wouldn't have had to leave his apartment to get a decent cup of coffee.

When he finally forced himself out of bed, he was met with an empty coffee machine and an empty bag of ground coffee. Kendall all but slammed his head into the kitchen pantry, throwing the bag into the garbage disposal and reaching for his phone. In truth, he wasn't even completely sure where the nearest cafe was, but he remembered his mom mentioning that there was a small one at the hippie grocery store on RosΓ©.

'God, that's such a Hollywood name,' Kendall thought to himself as he ordered his taxi. Once it confirmed, he quickly changed into a hoodie and jeans, sliding his keys into his back pocket. He headed for the taxi the moment he saw it drive into the parking lot, only giving slight nods to his friends as he rushed to get his coffee.

Thankfully, the driver hadn't tried to start any conversations, allowing him to sit in the backseat in silence. He leaned his head against the window, shutting his eyes as he tried to block out the sunlight. It felt as though direct sunlight would set fire to the back of his eyes.

As the driver pulled into the front of the grocery store, Kendall winced at the slight jerking movement of the vehicle as it came to a halt. He handed a fifty dollar bill to the driver and stepped out, pulling his hoodie over his head as he stared at the oddly hippie grocery store, complete with plants hanging outside the building and a green-painted sign with the name 'Williams' painted in white letters.

Kendall lightly rolled his eyes at the California culture, making his way into the store and heading for the cafe area towards the back. It was a completely different atmosphere from the coffee places and grocery stores they'd had in Minnesota, and while he likely would've figured that out sooner, he'd spent the majority of his time in California stuffed in a recording studio.

As he approached the cafe, he noticed a few bookshelves towards the wall, filled with journals and cooking books, and whatever else California people liked to read. He walked toward the counter and noticed a short girl sitting behind the register, a dazed look on her face as she rhythmically tapped her fingers.

"Uh, hey, could I get a cup of coffee?" Kendall asked, pulling his hoodie off his head. He'd made a slight effort to brush out his hair, but had given up after a while and shoved it ebenath a gray beanie.

The girl snapped out of her thoughts and turned to face him, allowing him to get a view of her name tag: Emory. She smiled happily, soft brown eyes lighting up when she noticed him. "Hi! Welcome to William's Coffee House. What can I get you?"

An involuntary smile came to his face when he heard her voice, but it quickly faded away when his eyes drifted to the menu. He fumbled with his words as he scanned the list of coffees, complete with lattes and espressos -- and what the hell was a macchiato? Kendall rubbed the back of his neck, confusion painted across his ivory features. "Uh... the coffee... kind?"

Emory bit back a laugh and went through the buttons on the register. "I'll just get you a small black coffee, and you can add cream and sugar if you want."

"Thank you," He sighed. He reached to grab a twenty dollar bill from his pocket, but she pushed his hand away quickly. Kendall looked u, dark eyebrows knitted together in confusion.

"Don't even worry about it. It's on the house," She explained lightly, standing to go prepare his coffee. "You look like you've had a rough day."

"Is it that obvious?" Kendall questioned, tugging at the edges of his beanie so they covered his temples. They felt like they were going to explode.

She hesitated, reaching out to hand his coffee cup to him. She pursed her lips together, as if she were searching for the best words to tell him that he looked like he just crawled out from the garbage disposal. Emory winced at her own words as she said, "You're still cute."

Kendall might've blushed if it weren't for the tightening feeling on the right side of his head.

As he reached up to press his palms against his eyes, Emory questioned, "Do you have a migraine? I have Excedrin in my bag, if you want some. They're not crazy drugs or whatever."

"Excedrin?" He pulled his hands away from his eyes to find her holding out a small bottle of acetaminophen. She smiled lightly and placed it next to her coffee. "Thanks."

"No problem. I carry them around 'cause my brother and I get migraines a lot. One or two should be good depending on how bad it is," Emory advised. Kendall ignored her and shook three pills out of the bottle. "I mean, or you could do that."

The corner of his mouth twitched into a smile as he went to take the three excedrins and swallow them down with the hot coffee. He winced at the taste, setting it down.

"Didn't you say you wanted cream and sugar?" Emory questioned, pointing at the cup.

Kendall deadpanned at the sight of the cream and sugar, throwing his hand onto the desk. Emory giggled and took the cup from him, shaking in a little bit of each ingredient. Her laugh was high-pitched, similar to a cartoon character's. He lifted his head slightly. "Cute laugh."

Emory dropped the sugar packet into the cup. Her eyes widened and she quickly began preparing another cup. "I'm Emory."

"Kendall," He responded. "That's a... unique name."

"Thanks," She chuckled. "My Pops chose it. It's supposed to mean 'brave' or 'powerful' or something. I'm neither of those, which is why I'm working in a nearly empty cafΓ© at eleven in the morning on a Friday."

"Three-day weekend," Kendall shrugged and took the cup from her. He smiled, his migraine already beginning to fade away.

She nodded and sat down in a stool behind the counter. Emory didn't have the nerve to tell him that her dads had named her other siblings 'Silas' and 'Andromeda.' She also didn't have the energy to explain that her dads had given her one mental health day per quarter, and she'd used it today so she could skip out on volleyball. She was only 5'2" which made serving the ball practically impossible.

For some reason, she'd wanted to impress him. She wasn't quite sure how to do that while she was sitting in a coffee apron, at the back of a grocery store, though. He was genuinely attractive -- the kind that you found on the cover of magazines and billboards. Complete with dirty blonde bangs, deep green eyes, and dimples. As dramatic as it sounded, Emory swore he would be the death of her.

Kendall stole glances at her as she cleaned up the suddenly messy counter, and pretended not to notice when she glanced back. He hadn't been able to meet a lot of people in Hollywood -- at least, no one outside of the Palm Woods. Gustavo and Kelly had kept him under lock and key in the studio. It had been somewhat justified, of course, considering they were working on an album; but there were times where he missed working at the grocery store in Minnesota. Times where he would've preferred to be playing hockey with his friends, as opposed to learning the same dance moves over and over again.

God, he felt privileged.

"So, skipping out on school, pretty boy?" Emory had said it without even glancing up, but he could hear the smile in her words.

"No, I, uh, have an off-day today," Kendall responded awkwardly. He wasn't sure how to explain that he'd completely forgotten about the essay he had to turn on by three o'clock today. "What about you?"

"My dads let me take the day off," Emory explained. She caught her words immediately and winced, waiting for the backlash or questions she would inevitably receive. Even in California, the LGBT capital of the world, there were somehow always questions.

"Dads, huh? What are their names?"

"Johan and Gerard," She said hesitantly. He would ask about her siblings now, or whether her mom had died, or where she was adopted from. She held her breath.

"That's cool."

'What the fuck?'

"Yeah, they're pretty great," Emory agreed, slightly confused but overall relieved by his reaction. He only gave her a calm look, implying that he was generally unbothered by the topic. She nodded in approval. "So, tell me about yourself, pretty boy."

"What do you wanna know?" Kendall asked, leaning back in his chair. "I'm from Minnesota; I really love hockey and music; and me and my sister Katie were raised by a single mom."

"What do you mean by 'you love music?'" Emory squinted her eyes lightly and sat down in the seat across from him, leaning forward. "Do you, like, play any instruments or are you one of those guys that listens to music and says they love it so they look really cool and pretentious?"

"I'm in a band with my best friends. I think I'm pretty into music," Kendall chuckled. "I play, like, the smallest amount of guitar; but I mostly sing."

"It's not a band of none of you play the instruments," Emory was quick to point out. "I'm in a small band with my foster sister, Evie. I play drums."

"You play drums?" Kendall snickered. "And that's not fair. We're mostly singers."

"Then you're a group, not a band," She shot back. "Yeah, I play drums. Is that hard to believe?"

"You're just so tiny," Kendall laughed. "I couldn't imagine that."

"Ever hears the phrase 'you're lucky you're cute?'" Emory questioned, to sing a sugar packet in his general direction. It hit the side of his flannel jacket, and she sighed internally. He was kind of making her eyes hurt at this point. She mentally went over all the reasons that it would be completely unethical for her to ask for his number, then all of the reasons that she would regret not asking for his number.

Unfortunately, she wasn't given the time to come to a balanced conclusion. Kendall's phone rang and he took it out of his pocket, sending Emory an apologetic look as he did so. The moment he answered it, his mood seemed to falter, and by the end of the call he'd practically slammed his head against the wooden counter.

"Uh, are you okay?" Emory questioned, lightly poking his shoulder as he hung up his phone.

"Nope. My producer is calling me into work today, after he promised me the day off yesterday!" He raised his voice and yelled at his phone, despite the fact that the caller had hung up already. He peeked at Emory from between his fingers. "I probably look really weird right now."

Emory nodded, her nose crinkling as she smiled down at him. "You do."

Kendall sighed and lifted his head, shoving his phone back into his pocket. He looked at Emory. "I should probably..."

"Yeah. I wouldn't want you to get fired or anything. A face like that deserves to have screaming girls chasing after it," Emory said. She regretted her words immediately, questioning whether she'd spoken proper English just then.

If Kendall noticed, he chose not to say anything about it. Instead, he went to stand and took a few paces away from the cafΓ©. "I'll uh... I'll see you around?"

'Ask for his number. Ask for his number. Ask for his number.'

"Uh, yeah! You should visit again. I'll give you a discount on your coffee next time," Emory responded with a smile.

"Yeah, I will. Uh... thanks, Emmy," Kendall nodded at her, before his phone went off in his pocket again. He groaned and pulled it out, practically yelling into the phone. "I'm coming!"

Once he was out of sight, Emory groaned and laid her head down on the counter, covering her blushing face. She felt a hand on her shoulder and looked up to see Gerard, who was covered in flour and baking ingredients.

She sighed. "How much of that did you see?"

Gerard rubbed his daughter's back comfortingly. "You'll get better eventually, Emmy."

Emory deadpanned, letting out a sigh. The next time she would see him was on the cover of a magazine, being proclaimed the new teen heartthrob.

If she knew she would get Silas' flirting skills by spending so much time around him, she might've tried to get him kicked out of the house sooner.