Eddie had been working in the cafe for a little over two months the first time the guy came in. He ordered a chocolate macchiato with a triple shot of espresso, whipped cream, caramel sauce, and cookies and cream sprinkles, scowled at everyone behind the counter when he had to repeat his order and sat by himself at a corner table with a thick book.
He started coming in almost every day and while most of the staff hated him Eddie looked forward to his visit, he was easily the most interesting person in the café with his increasingly ridiculous orders. Eddie didn’t know how the guy didn’t go into a sugar coma.
“How long are you going to keep trying to impress that guy?” Chris asked as they were leaving after the end of their shift. “Have you even managed to get him to smile at you?”
Eddie shrugged. “Not yet but I think I’m starting to wear him down,” he said cheerfully.
Chris laughed. “Sure man. I think you need to be a little more proactive than just getting his sugary drink orders right. Shawn and I are going out tonight. Want to tag along and we can plot how to get you a date with your weirdo?”
“Nah I’ll stick with my coffee plan. Thanks though.”
“If you change your mind just let me know, I’m a master schemer.”
“See you Chris.” They parted ways, Eddie heading to the school arena to get some practice in. He didn’t have a lot of time between classes and working at the café but what he did have he spent on hockey. The college team was having tryouts soon and he desperately wanted to play.
Tuukka had gone into the café because it was close to school and he had been in desperate need of caffeine and more sugar than the human body was designed to handle. He told himself that those were the same reasons he kept coming back but in truth he was kind of enjoying trying to create a drink that the barista, whose name tag read Eddie, could not make. He had yet to find it. He also liked the fact that Eddie always drew a happy face on the paper cup though he would never have admitted it.
Eddie had been on shift every time he had gone in. It was a bit jarring when he went in this time and Eddie wasn’t on shift. The idiot replacing him couldn’t even get a simple order right and Tuukka turned around and left in disgust.
Eddie felt terrible. He had caught the flu somewhere and if it wasn’t bad enough that he was missing his classes, he was missing his shift at the café, Tuukka was going to think he had abandoned him. He was immensely pleased with himself that he had learned the guy’s name, it had been written on the front of a notebook that he had left lying on top of the table when Eddie had gone over to see if he needed a refill.
He was better by the weekend and back at work where his boss assured him that everything was fine. He’d had Jacob fill in for him.
Eddie cringed. Jacob was a great guy and everything but there was no way he was going to be able to make coffee the way that Tuukka liked.
“Don’t worry about your boyfriend,” Jacob said. “I don’t think he comes here for the coffee.”
“What do you mean?” Eddie asked.
Jacob laughed. “He actually looked disappointed when he saw someone else behind the counter. He left without his coffee.”
Eddie actually felt a little better about that. He was at work on Monday when Tuukka came in.
“You’re back,” Tuukka said.
“I had the flu,” Eddie said ignoring the pointed looks Chris was giving him from where he was busing a table behind Tuukka.
“Oh.” There was a weird awkward silence and then Tuukka ordered a raspberry truffle mochaccino with an extra shot of espresso, extra raspberry syrup, whipped cream, raspberry drizzle, and raspberry chocolate chips and disappeared to his corner table.
“Does your offer of help still stand?” Eddie asked as Chris came up to the counter.
Chris’ face broke into a grin. “I’ll call Shawn.” He hurried into the back room to use the phone.
Tuukka silently berated himself as he hid behind his text book, hoping he appeared studious instead of embarrassed. That had been the perfect opportunity to start up a conversation, maybe use some of the sensitive bedside manner stuff he was supposed to be learning in med-school, find out something about him that he didn’t learn from reading the guy’s name tag. Eddie probably thought he was a jerk. If he thought of him at all. Tuukka froze as the thought occurred to him. What if Eddie smiled and drew happy faces on all his customers’ cups? He groaned and dropped his head onto his book where it lay open on the table.
“You’re lucky I’ve got a free period,” Shawn joked as he came into the café and leaned against the counter. “So where is this guy that’s got Eddie all twitterpated?”
Eddie blushed. “I’m not—”
“You totally are,” Chris said throwing his arm over Eddie’s shoulders. “It’s the guy in the corner,” he said pointing him out to Shawn.
Shawn’s smile faded as he looked at the table where Tuukka was siting. “Please tell me you’re joking,” he said turning back to look at Eddie and Chris.
“Why?” Chris asked. “Do you know him?”
Shawn shook his head. “Know of him. We shared a couple of science classes last year. The guy’s intense, he threw a chair across the class room once; nearly got suspended.”
“Really?” Chris said starting to look worried. “Eddie maybe you shouldn’t—”
“But…” Eddie said looking at Tuukka who was sitting quietly with his nose in a book as usual. “Maybe he was just having a bad day?”
“Maybe,” Shawn agreed. “Give him a chance if you think he’s worth it, just please be careful. I’ve got to get going. See you later?” He kissed Chris quickly and left.
“I’m sorry Eddie,” Chris said.
The lull in people needing coffee ended and they were kept busy for the rest of their shifts.
Eddie started avoiding being at the register at the times when he knew Tuukka would be in, just until he could figure out what to do about what Shawn had told him, but after a week he was running out of excuses to be elsewhere.
“Relax Eddie,” Jacob told him as he stammered out an excuse not to cover the register when they were short staffed. “Your guy hasn’t been in for the last three days, guess he can take a hint.”
“Oh,” Eddie said heading to the register and trying not to let his disappointment show.
The rest of the week flew by with tryouts at the end of it. Eddie got to the arena and was relieved to see that there were only two other guys trying out for goalie though there were quite a few forwards and defensemen. It didn’t help his nerves at all when he realized that the guys already on the team were going to be taking shots at him but he thought he did all right, only letting in one goal that made a sneaky hop over his glove.
It was a nerve wracking three days before he got a call from the coach telling him that he made the team and they wanted him to come to practice that afternoon.
“Sorry,” he said looking around the library sheepishly as the other people trying to study glared at him for his excited shout. He tossed his books into his bag and ran out of the library to go get his hockey bag.
“You’re Eddie right?” an intimidating looking guy demanded skating up to him as Eddie headed out onto the ice.
A wide grin split the guys face. “Cool I’m Derek. Feel like getting hit with some pucks? Our starter hasn’t shown up yet.”
Eddie nodded eagerly. “Okay, just let me warm up a bit.”
He’d been in net for nearly fifteen minutes when he heard on of the other skaters shout “Tuukks! We were beginning to think you were chopped up and used in some sort of medical experiment!”
Eddie looked over and stared at the guy who had just come out onto the ice in goalie gear.
“Ha ha Looch,” Tuukka said rolling his eyes. “Sorry I’m late.” He looked towards the goal and his eyes narrowed. “Who’s that?”
“Your new backup,” Derek said throwing his arm around Eddie’s shoulders. “Try not to scare this one off hey?”
“Um hi,” Eddie said taking his mask off as Tuukka skated up to him.
Tuukka froze, his hand held out in front of him. What was Eddie doing here?
“So you play hockey?” Eddie was saying awkwardly.
Tuukka realized the rest of the team were watching them curiously and he could feel a flush rising up his neck. He wished he could blame it on exertion but given that he had just come onto the ice no one was going to believe that. “Yeah.” He lowered his hand, picking at the tape on the end of his stick instead.
“You haven’t been to the café at your usual times,” Eddie said. “Not that I’ve been watching…not that I’ve been avoiding you…sort of—”
“Wait, this is coffee shop guy?” Lucic interrupted Eddie who looked relieved. “You’re coffee shop guy?”
“Does this mean you can’t ask him out now?” Dorsett asked.
Tuukka glared at them. “Don’t you two have something else to be doing?”
“Nope,” Lucic said cheerfully.
“I think we’ll just go over here,” Dorsett said pushing Lucic along in spite of his objections.
“You were going to ask me out?” Eddie asked following Tuukka as he skated further away from the rest of the team.
Tuukka stopped next to the boards and turned to face Eddie. “Yeah,” he smiled ruefully. “As soon as I worked up the nerve. I wasn’t sure you were interested though.”
“I was! I mean I am!”
“So why were you sort of not avoiding me?”
A flush stained Eddie’s cheeks and Tuukka found himself staring at the colour instead of listening to the stammered response. The words “heard some things about you” caught his attention. “What?” he asked and the blush on Eddie’s cheeks grew deeper.
“About you throwing a chair in class and then I had to decide whether that mattered because I liked—like—you but that was the only thing I knew about you except for how you like your coffee and that you read really thick books and maybe I should just go.”
It took Tuukka a second to switch from Eddie’s adorable rambling to the fact that he was leaving.
“Do you want to get coffee sometime?” Tuukka called after him.
Eddie turned around. “Really?” he asked hopefully.
Tuukka nodded. “You know how I take my coffee; it’s only fair that I learn how you take yours.”