It was late afternoon when Arthur decided to try out the cafe right around his new apartment. Moving was a really stressful and after unpacking literally trillions of boxes, putting together a dozen shelfs and carrying a sofa up the stairs, he just craved a sugar abomination with caffeine and the cafe seemed to be just the perfect place to look for one in the area. It was also just right around the corner, for which Arthur’s aching legs were eternally grateful.
He arrived at the cafe and found himself a nice and cozy corner, already trying to make himself familiar with the menu they offered. To his delight, they did allow customisations of drinks and every possible sugary thing he had craved was listed beneath. Just on time as he chose his order, the waiter arrived at his table. On first glance, he was gorgeous. Tall, kinda skinny but still defined arms (which were the only exposed body part that Arthur could see) and a blinding smile. After a second glance, Arthur realised that the man looked terribly tired. Dark circles accompanied his eyes and the smile and posture was forced and tense. Probably just a hard work day, which Arthur could absolutely sympathise with, after having done nothing but physical work for the last two days.
“Hey, what can I get you?”, the waiter asked politely.
Then Arthur started explaining his, admittedly very complicated and a little over the top, order to him and the man’s features fell. When Arthur finished, the waiter’s hand was still hovering over the notepad, not having written down one word. He just stood there and looked at Arthur as if he’d unleashed hell on him personally.
“Oh fuck off”, he said, wearing an annoyed expression that could rival that of his sister. Arthur was frozen, he had certainly not expected that kind of answer. What was he supposed to do? Surely he should be mad. No waiter should treat a customer like that and any other person would have probably flipped out, but Arthur really just was surprised. He kind of understood his annoyance.
However, the man’s coworker took over Arthur’s part of being mad.
“Merlin!”, he half-yelled over three tables. “You can’t say that to a customer!”
The waiter turned around to face his coworker. “Well I already did, and this is certainly too much. I am going on my break now. I can’t even remember a single thing of that complicated order - which means that no one should be able to order such an abomination of a drink. Take over for me, Lance?”
The coworker, Lance, sighed defeated and made his way over to Arthur’s table. His previous waiter, Merlin if he heard correctly, paid not one more second of attention to him, but instead disappeared behind the bar, into the back office.
“I am deeply sorry for the behaviour of my coworker, Sir. He is usually a very kind and understanding man, but today was a little rough on him, I hope you can forgive him. The drink will obviously be on the house, if you want to repeat your order to me?” Lance, another gorgeous man, Arthur realised, smiled and the apology was basically written on his face. Arthur was still a little overwhelmed by the situation, but more in a funny kind of way. Did he break a waiter’s will on his first day in the new cafe he’d surely be a regular at soon? He felt kind of bad.
“No need, I still want to pay for it myself. Everyone can have a rough day and I have to agree that it’s kind of an abomination. But everyone has a guilty pleasure, right?”, Arthur responded, meeting the stressed man with a smile and he visibly relaxed.
“Thank you, yes I get that. Merlin surely would, too, if it was any other day.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Arthur already liked the place. He repeated his order to the new waiter and Lance did look a little shocked, too, at the sheer amount of requests Arthur dared to make, but made no comment, just scribbled all down on the notepad. With a smile and a nod, he promised the drink would be ready in at most ten minutes, then left to tend to his other customers.
Arthur sat quietly by the window, his eyes travelling down the still quite unfamiliar streets of this new part of London and he found himself still thinking about the waiter named Merlin. For some unspeakable reason, Arthur thought that his leashing out had been so bold, that it already was attractive again. The man did not back down and immediately spoke his mind, Arthur liked that. Maybe Merlin would be willing to show him this part of London?
Before he could think about it too hard, he grabbed a paper towel from the table and a pen from his jacket and scribbled his number and address on it, together with a message. It read ‘rough day? Drown your sorrows in wine after your shift at my place? - Arthur’. When his drink arrived he asked Lance deliver it to Merlin and the man laughed, but of course obliged. Customer is king after all.
Arthur was still sipping on his drink, that tasted like candy cotton clouds and all that heaven was made of, though it probably gave him diabetes, too, when a figure boldly placed themselves on the chair across from his without asking. He looked up to see Merlin sitting there, studying Arthur from head to toe, as if he’s considering something.
“You alright there?”, Arthur asked, surprising himself with the newfound confidence.
“Absolutely, just feeling bewildered by the fact that I was as disrespecting as I could possibly be, but it still earned me a date with apparently a Greek god named Arthur”, Merlin replied cheekily and Arthur almost choked on his drink. Never in a million years had he thought that Merlin would accept the date offer and see it as such, too, and not only a friendly invite.
“Greek god is a little over the top, don’t you think?”, Arthur replied as soon as he found his voice again.
“Actually not, but I’ll let it slide, because you’re allowing me to empty your liquor cabinet and because you’re hot.”
“I recall offering you wine.”
“Yeah, but rough is a wildly mild term for the day I had and I need more than just wine.”
Arthur didn’t even try to suppress the laugh. “Alright then, I’ll be your host. I just moved here so I don’t have that much anyways.”
Merlin replied with a smile and Arthur was pleased to find that it wasn’t forced.
“What I actually wanted to say is thank you and my shift ends at 8:30.”
Arthur from then on was a regular at the cafe and Merlin a regular at his flat. Arthur was always greeted by everyone happily, whenever he came by the cafe, often receiving a donut or muffin on the house, which he then returned by tipping well. Merlin never accepted the tips and instead gave them to Lance, who for one needed them more and was also the one that made Arthur’s drinks. Merlin didn’t complain anymore about Arthur’s complicated drink order, he even memorised it and always went out of his way to serve Arthur’s table, even if usually one of his coworker would have, if just to greet him with either another thickly sweet term of endearment or a creative insult.
Soon though, he was always greeted with a kiss that was even sweeter than the drinks he ordered.