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Princess

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☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

 

You have arrived. Your destination is on your right hand side .” comes the automatic female voice out of the scrawny speakers of his phone. Hyunjin looks up, confused. It doesn’t look even remotely close to what Felix said when he described the café his boyfriend worked at. But then again, the way Felix perceives anything that has even the slightest connection to his boyfriend is always described a little like... seeing through heart shaped glasses. Anything Christopher does is absolutely fantastic and sparkling according to Felix. In real life, though, the small coffee shop is an understatement. The walls look like they used to be pink, but right now it has faded to a muted gray and the small outside seating area consists of two round tables with three flimsy folding chairs that look like they would fall if Hyunjin locks his gaze on them for too long. In a few pots that are poorly distributed around the area sits a cluster of sad looking flowers, beyond saving. One of the pots has fallen over and the dirt is spilling out onto the asphalt. The little sign over the glass door is a bit crooked, and the paint has rubbed off so if Hyunjin can’t really see what the name of the shop is.

“Ge- get coo- what?” he mutters and squints but it’s impossible to read. Especially when he is on the wrong side of the road. With a sigh, he drags his beanie further down his ears, shrugging in his big collar and pushes his hands deep into the pockets of his jacket while he waits for the sign to tell him he can safely cross the road. When he is in front of the shop, he tries again.

“Get cool- are they serious?” he cringes as he reads the full name. ‘ Get cool coffee ’. He cringes again, scrunching his face into a pout. Does he really have to work here? Well, he doesn’t have to, obviously. He can just say no. But he really needs the money. The door pushes open and Felix’s silver gray mullet bounces when he greets Hyunjin.

“Ay, mate! You made it!” he says in English, eyes invisible with the big grin he is sporting as he ushers Hyunjin inside. “It’s really slow today, so me and Channie are just chilling with a cup of coffee. Do you want some? It’s on the house.”

Felix acts like he also works here, but he spends more time here than in their actual apartment so Hyunjin guesses he feels right at home here. To be fair, his boyfriend works overtime a lot, and Felix is clingy so of course he will be wherever Christopher is.

“Yeah, please. An americano will be great.” Hyunjin accepts Felix’s offer and sits down on one of the armchairs by the table where all of Felix’s stuff is. His jacket lies thrown in a pile next to his seat, his bright yellow sweatshirt clings onto the back of the armchair. On the table sits Felix’s closed laptop dangerously close to a half full cup of cappucino, and textbooks lie scattered on the floor. He probably came here to study like he always says he will but never does because Christopher is here and the shop is pretty empty at any given time so there is plenty of time to chat and not enough time to study. If one goes by Felix’s priorities.

“Don’t spill it on your shirt, alright?” Felix teases, much too similar to the way Jisung teases Hyunjin about that very same incident. They have clearly been spending too much time together, Hyunjin should have known when he introduced them.

“It was one time!” he scowls, swatting at Felix’s hand when he has placed the drink down and goes for poking at Hyunjin’s cheek.

“It’s still funny as fuck. And the way you wailed, man I wish I had it recorded and set as my ringtone!”

“I’m glad my misery can make you smile. That shirt was my favorite.”

“Don’t be so dramatic, you’re acting like your mom didn’t manage to save it.” Felix snickers and sits down in his seat. They stay silent for a while, sipping their coffee and listening to the quiet background tune playing in a speaker behind the counter.

“Is only Chris working today?” Hyunjin asks after a few more minutes of peacefulness.

“As of now. Changbin has the closing shift so he is coming in later. But by then you and I will be out of here. We gotta get to the dinner reservations I made! Channie will catch up later, but we gotta hold the seats. It’s pretty fancy and it would suck to be too late.” Felix says with a bright smile, the kind that forces Hyunjin to smile too. It’s insanely contagious. “I can’t believe we actually got the apartment. It’s been such a crazy hunt, you know?”

Hyunjin nods, Felix and Christopher have been searching for an apartment of their own for months with no luck. Until now. So of course, celebrations are in order. Hyunjin tries to not feel too sad that he will lose his roommate, because he is truly happy for Felix and the loving relationship he has finally found himself in after several horrible ones. If anyone deserves happiness, it’s Felix.

“Hi, Hyunjin. Did you find your way here alright? It wasn’t too much of a hassle?” Christopher asks when his red hair appears from the bar area. Hyunjin nods, it had been pretty easy once he actually got the address right in his phone. “Great. I can show you around in the bar area so you get a bit familiar with where we keep all the coffee and syrups and stuff? And baby, please try to study a little bit?”

At this, Felix pouts and whines childishly. Christopher sighs and pads over to give his boyfriend a small kiss to cheer him up.

“You got this. I’ll reward you later with a treat.” he whispers seductively to Felix, and Hyunjin tries to pretend he didn’t actually hear that, turning away when an impish smile decorates Felix’s features. Quickly, he gets up and follows Christopher back behind the counter.

“So this is where we keep the flavors, and they are all marked so it won’t be too tricky to find them. And you won’t be alone for your first few shifts, obviously. Either me or Changbin will be here to help you.” the redhead says as he opens a cabinet stocked with dozens of bottles filled with different colored liquids. “And over here we have the sauces, like chocolate sauce and caramel sauce!”

He takes Hyunjin through the whole bar area, showing where to find coffee beans, take away mugs, tea bags and everything one could ever need as a barista.

“Changbin will guide you through how to make espresso and all that coffee stuff. Such things are better to go through once you have your first shift rather than now.”

Hyunjin nods again, trying to take it all in and remember it for his first shift in two days. Christopher gives him a quick glance.

“You have to put your hair up though, it’s a bit too long. Do you have hair ties? In case you don’t, we have a few next to the register.”

“No, I have a lot of them!” Hyunjin assures, making a mental note to bring a few to keep in his work-duffel.

“Other than that, I think you’re good to go. I don’t mind the earrings being left in your ears, I know Mrs. Oh doesn’t mind either. So you can keep them in. As long as your pretty princess hair stays out of the way you’re all set.” Christopher says, accompanied with a dimpled grin. Hyunjin tries to focus on anything but the way his cheeks burn at being called Princess. Christopher probably didn’t mean it like that. Why would he, anyways? He is dating Felix, a literal angel. And Hyunjin is not interested in him in any other way than a friendship. But it’s been such a long time since anybody, aside from Felix, has called him by his favorite nickname, his body can’t help it.

“Great.” he manages to choke out. “Shall we get ready to leave?”

“Yeah, you do that. Changbin should be here any second, so I’ll catch up with you soon.”

“I’ll go help Felix pack his stuff up.” Hyunjin says quickly, still too embarrassed over how his heart is fluttering in his chest. He flees the scene and if Christopher notices Hyunjin’s pink cheeks, he doesn’t comment on it. Thank fuck.

 

Dinner is great, both Hyunjin and Felix are hammered on a few shots of soju too many, but it’s great. It has been a while since they just hung out the three of them outside of the coffee shop and Hyunjin lets himself enjoy the moment. Christopher is still on the sober side of the drunk scale, but he handles his liquor better than Hyunjin and Felix. The latter is half a buttcheek away from completely sitting in Christopher’s lap, seemingly unfazed by the fact that the restaurant is a pretty fancy one. He is talking animatedly about the new apartment, Hyunjin is barely listening because he has heard Felix ramble about this apartment while showing pictures for the last week. Christopher looks at Felix like he hung the moon in the sky, and it’s so sickeningly sweet that Hyunjin almost feels jealous. Not because he wants to be on the receiving end of Christopher’s heart eyes, but because he wants the same thing for himself.

All his previous relationships have been shit, just like Felix’s. It’s kinda how they became friends. Bonding over idiotic exes. A stable pillar to build a friendship on, in all honesty. But while Felix’s exes had been absolute dickheads, undeserving of Felix’s radiant sunshine and way of caring for everybody, even those who couldn’t appreciate him, Hyunjin’s exes were shit for another reason. And it was always the same. When it came to actually having sex, nothing ever clicked. Which would have been fine if Hyunjin didn’t care that much. The problem is that he does care. It is a deal breaker, because one can only be deprived for so long. And nobody has ever been able to tick all of the boxes.

Maybe Hyunjin is spoiled, maybe he is asking for way too much.

“Stop overthinking, I can smell the smoke from the cogs turning all the way over here.” Felix whines, but it’s with a loving glint in his eyes, because he knows what’s going on inside of Hyunjin’s mind. “Here, take another shot! And then we gotta leave. I’m starting to feel nauseous.”

Hyunjin downs his last shot and gathers his stuff, the room spinning a bit too much for his liking. He really could use a blowjob right now, but is too lazy to call any of his usual hookups. They won’t leave him satisfied anyways. He would ask Felix, but things between them have changed with Christopher in the picture and Hyunjin doesn’t wanna get in the way. He feels hands land on either of his shoulder blades, and the next thing he sees is Felix’s brown eyes searching his. He is so close that Hyunjin can count the freckles decorating his skin, it’s one of his favorite things about Felix.

“Are you okay?” Felix asks, stroking Hyunjin’s cheekbone with his small hand. Hyunjin nods, but it doesn’t convince anybody. Felix pats his cheek once more, turning towards Christopher to say something that Hyunjin can’t quite make out, and then he is being led towards the exit. How did he manage to spiral down this fast? It must be the alcohol mixed with the loneliness and seeing how in love Felix and Christopher are.

“I’ll sleep at home tonight, okay Princess?” Felix whispers in a low voice, and Hyunjin nods gratefully. Felix is the only friend who is allowed to call him Princess. Hyunjin isn’t really sure why. Maybe it’s from when they were kids, when people used to pick on Hyunjin and call him princess as something negative because he liked having his hair longer than the other boys, and Felix wanted to change that word into something that made Hyunjin feel loved and safe. And it worked, now being Hyunjin’s favorite nickname. It’s different when Felix says it, though. It feels more familiar than sexual when it comes from Felix.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, Channie. I love you.” Hyunjin hears Felix say to his boyfriend before he is gently pushed inside a cab to go home.

“I love you, take care of Jinnie.” is the last thing Christopher says, and then Hyunjin is dozed off on his friend’s shoulder.

 



He is buried in his beanie and oversized collar, completely incognito mode, when the bell announces his arrival. He walks up to the register to fetch the key to the back door so he can change into his work clothes.

“Welcome! What would you like to order?” comes a voice. A male with a flashy sidecut and silver streaked hair comes into view once Hyunjin actually peers over the edge of the collar of his sweater. He is a few inches shorter than Hyunjin, with broad shoulders and sharp eyes. He is so hot that Hyunjin has to swallow a whine that threatens to escape his tightly sealed lips. Despite looking small because of their height difference, he looks like he could snap Hyunjin in half with those thighs, and Hyunjin has to swallow before he can get his voice under control enough to answer.

“Hi. I’m working here. I mean I am new- I’m hired from today. Can I get the key to the back door?” he stutters out, and the shorter man smiles.

“Sure, here you go. I’m Changbin!” he says, handing Hyunjin a key with a slightly shaky hand.

“Hyunjin.”

 

☆☆

 

The bell dings at the front door, and Changbin turns around quickly to take the customer’s order. Finally some work. The morning has been crazy slow, he has only had a handful of guests and it’s already 11am. He is met by a tall man who is fidgeting with his sleeves. He looks out of place, eyes downcast and tips of blonde hair poking out under a gray beanie. His features are hidden behind a big collar and the beanie, but from what Changbin can see, he is cute.

“Welcome! What would you like to order?” he asks, and the other man peers over his collar to look at Changbin. His eyes are big and expressive, dark irises meeting Changbin’s own. It has him choking on air a little, Changbin is a sucker for pretty eyes. And this boy possesses one of the most beautiful pairs of eyes Changbin has ever seen.

“Hi. I’m working here. I mean I am new- I’m hired from today. Can I get the key to the back door?”

Changbin wants to coo over him. The boy is utterly adorable. It also makes him nervous, because they are about to be colleagues. Changbin tries to ignore this, handing over the key to his new coworker.

“Sure, here you go. I’m Changbin!” he manages to say, and curses his hand for shaking a bit when he holds the key out.

“Hyunjin.” he offers with a half smile, rushing towards the door.

As soon as Hyunjin is out of sight, Changbin takes a deep breath, tasting the name on his tongue. He tries busying himself with making a cappucino for himself, but the milk comes out weird and the heart he tries making looks wobbly and gloomy.

“That’s very pretty.” Hyunjin says, looming over Changbin’s shoulder. Changbin is taken by surprise, jumping with a shriek, splashing half of the coffee on the floor and simultaneously knocking his head on Hyunjin’s chin.

“Shit, I’m so sorry. I didn’t hear you come in, holy fuck. I’m sorry, did I hurt you?” he begins to apologize profusely, turning around to say it to Hyunjin’s face. However, he is struck dumb when he faces the taller boy. The blonde hair is now tied up in a high half-ponytail, two strands framing his sculpted cheeks. Changbin can finally get a good look at Hyunjin, and his breath catches. He is stupidly handsome with his sharp eyes and plush lips. They look shiny and Changbin idly wonders what flavor the lipgloss is. “I-”

He is rendered mute, studying the boy in front of him a little too openly. Hyunjin’s cheeks are dusted with a subtle pink tint as he looks to the floor, a shy hand instantly flying to his nape.

“Do I have something on my face?” he asks, voice barely above a whisper and it snaps Changbin out of his haze. To his advantage, there are actually some splashes of the foamy milk from the cappucino splattered on his chin and lips.

“Uh- I- yes. Wait, I’ll grab a towel for you to wipe it off.” Changbin rushes to the back of the bar, snatching a clean towel from the rack and runs it under the tap for a second before handing it over to Hyunjin. “Once again, I’m sorry.”

“No, I’m sorry. I can be very quiet. It wasn’t my intention to sneak up behind you like a creep.”

They look at each other for a short second, before bursting into laughter. It makes the awkward tension evaporate instantly and they can finally breathe easier. Changbin makes the mistake of opening his eyes a bit too early though, catching a glimpse of Hyunjin’s crescented eyes, bunched up cheeks and big grin. Shit. He is stunning. Changbin is immediately back to not breathing, shutting up abruptly which causes Hyunjin to trail off and look at him with a small tilt of his head.

“Are you alright?” he asks, and Changbin nods back to reality. This will definitely be a problem.

“Here, let me help you.” he offers, cursing his brain out for coming up with such an idiotic thing. What the hell, brain? He should not be getting closer to Hyunjin, because that will make things worse. Fortunately, Hyunjin seems to realize this too, and shakes his head quickly.

“No, it’s fine! Thank you though. I got it.” he smiles, crouching down so he can see himself in the shiny reflection of the espresso machine. “See? All gone!”

Changbin nods along, trying to come up with something to say that isn’t ‘you are the most gorgeous person I’ve ever seen’ or ‘can I please also touch your face?’, but to no avail. Why is he completely incapable of normal human conversation around pretty people? Hyunjin must think he is an absolute twerp.

“So- uh. Chris told me that you would show me how to make espresso and how to foam the milk?” Hyunjin tries quietly, inching closer. “Should we start there?”

“Of course, how could I forget? I’m sorry. Yes, let us begin with the espresso!” he says a bit too loudly, and from the corners of his eye he is sure he sees Hyunjin’s lips twitch in a tiny smile. He takes the handle out from where it’s lodged safely in the machine from when he used it a few minutes ago. It grounds him, this is something he knows. Coffee. It can’t go wrong here.

“You first take this, the handle, out. Then you gotta get all the old espresso out from here, you see?” he explains, holding the handle out for Hyunjin to be able to make eye contact with the dark espresso cake nestled inside.

“Hello, Mr. Espresso.” Hyunjin snickers, and Changbin is about to drop the whole damn handle alongside his sanity. That has to be the cutest shit he has ever heard. He clears his throat to cover up himself cooing over this boy once more, forcing his mind to go back to coffee.

“And now, bye Mr. Espresso.” he plays along, dunking the handle against the knockbox to get the espresso out. Hyunjin giggles again. Changbin explains every step of the way of making a perfect espresso, from the amount of coffee needed to how long it should take for the espresso to be brewed. Hyunjin listens intently the whole time, nodding along.

“And this. This . This is a perfect espresso.” Changbin breathes out as he puts the tiny cup of impeccable espresso down on the counter. He leans closer and Hyunjin follows. “You can see here how the quality of the beans pay off, the créma is rich and evenly distributed. And, not to forget, it smells amazing.”

They both breathe in, and Changbin can’t help but notice the subtle cologne Hyunjin is wearing. It’s sweet and light, drawing him in.

“It does smell fantastic. How did you learn all this?” Hyunjin asks, eyes big and amazed.

“Long story. I’m self taught and very interested. I’ll teach you everything I know if you want to?”

Hyunjin nods eagerly. It makes Changbin’s heart swell.

 

 

“Guys, we have after work this Friday. It’s our first one with Jinnie in the team!” Felix says loudly as he enters the shop on a cloudy Wednesday, Hyunjin in tow behind him. Christopher laughs from behind Changbin while he makes a latte for one of their regulars. “It’s gonna be so much fun, it will be the first time we are five people!”

“Here you go, Sir. Enjoy!” Christopher offers with a smile as he hands the drink to the man, before turning towards Felix and Hyunjin. “You are not even working here, baby.”

Felix pouts at the fake scolding, rushing up to the counter to steal a kiss.

“But I’m always here and I’m always invited to after work!” he whines, and Christopher takes his boyfriend’s face in his hands and gives him another kiss.

“That’s true, angel.”

They are so openly loving, it makes Changbin a bit shy. How should he greet Hyunjin? A handshake seems way too formal now that they have been working a few shifts together, but a hug might be too close? Hyunjin steps closer to the register, and Changbin, awkward as he is, holds his hand out. Hyunjin looks at it for a short while, before beaming softly and reaching his own hand out to shake Changbin’s. Hyunjin’s hands are warm and slightly smaller than Changbin’s own and it feels kind of nice. Until Felix barks out a loud sound that might be a laugh.

“What kind of stale greeting was that?” he says, laughing at their still interlocked hands. He holds Christopher’s hand in a teasing manner. “Pleasure.” he says in English.

Hyunjin rolls his eyes and shoves at Felix’s shoulder harshly.

“Stop being an idiot.” he mutters, but it’s not very intimidating.

“Pleasure indeed.” Felix stage whispers to Hyunjin with an exaggerated Aussie accent, definitely aware that Changbin can hear him. At this, Hyunjin looks like he wants to be swallowed whole. Changbin can’t help but feel a bit sorry for him, Felix is truly a man of few boundaries.

“Where should the after work take place this time?” he interjects, trying to save them from the trainwreck that Felix looks eager to put them through. Changbin has no idea what Hyunjin has told Felix, and it creates a nervous flutter inside his belly.

“We thought that we could start with some drinks here, like last time. And then Felix had a place he wanted us to try out!” Christopher says, helping Changbin to steer them away from Felix’s agenda.

“Yeah, I’ve heard it’s dope. You’re gonna love it.” Felix mumbles, a devilish glint in his eyes when he locks his gaze on Changbin. Hyunjin shrieks, interrupting the one sided staring contest.

“Felix! Oh my gosh!” he wheezes out with a nervous laughter.

“But I just wanna-”

Not that place, Lix.” Christopher sighs, flicking his boyfriend’s nose. “It’s up to Hyunjin to decide if we ever go there.”

Felix rubs his nose, but stays silent. Changbin’s mind is racing. What the hell was that?

 

☆☆