Title: Foam Hearts

Prompt: roque_clasique wanted: Sam comes into the stupid uptight coffee shop with the burgundy and gold furniture where I used to work this fall, and I make the most spectacular vanilla soy latte he's ever had -- foam like velvet, I swear. Cuddles happen.

Warnings: Holy crap, the SCHMOOP!

Wordcount: 611 (seriously, shortest thing I've written, ever that isn't a drabble)

Disclaimer: Sam isn't mine, and neither is roque_clasique. Both these things make me sad, because cuddles with them would be the most awesome thing ever.

Neurotic Author's Note: IDEK /o\ This is roque_clasique's fault. I wrote in the first person singular, for God's sake! That never happens!

Neurotic Author's Note #2: I wrote this off-the-cuff inside the comment box in the meme. I've never done that before. I cannot be held responsible for the quality of the prose.

Neurotic Author's Note #3: I have never worked in a coffee shop. I am totally making shit up, and had to Google how to make a vanilla soy latte. Yes, I researched for comment-fic. I know.

A barista's work is never done, but sometimes there are slow days, and that's the day he comes in, complete with laptop and kicked-puppy expression. He orders a vanilla soy latte, stands there fidgeting until I offer to bring it to him when I'm done.

I watch surreptitiously as he folds himself into one of the plush burgundy and gold chairs the boss insisted we get so the four and a half clients who can actually sit at one time here will be comfortable. Except, of course, they're designed for normal people, and he's taller even than me by a few inches, and I'm really pretty tall. He doesn't really fit with the decor, dressed in ratty jeans and too many layers, but he doesn't seem to notice the stares he's getting from the yuppie regulars. Or maybe he doesn't care.

I foam the milk first, because that's the secret to an awesome soy latte. Tap the bottom of the jug, until I know just from the feel that it's exactly right. While the milk settles I grind the beans, pour the vanilla syrup into the thick glass, just enough to cover the bottom —I'm guessing he doesn't like his overly sweet, by the looks of it— then pour the newly-made espresso into a tulip cup (double-shot, naturally). Double-shot goes on top of the vanilla, and over the years I have turned the pouring of frothed soy milk into highly complex performance art. I even manage a heart on top of the coffee.

He's tapping listlessly at keys of his laptop when I get there, latte and extra biscotti in hand, and I catch sight of an internet page opened to something with shadows and flame before he shoves it aside, looks up at me with big hazel eyes. He looks as though he expects me to spit in his latte. So I smile instead.

"On the house."

He starts. "Uh, sorry?"

I give a half-shrug, and put down the drink. "You look like you're having a shitty day."

"Thanks." He takes an experimental sip of the latte, almost timid, and the smile I get back after that is like watching the sun come out from behind the clouds. Goddamned blinding. "This is really good."

I blush a bit, which, you know weird. 'Cause baristas are meant to be unflappable. "I wield a mean steamer."

"No, really. It's like... I don't know, velvet or something," he insists.

He's choking up, of all things, eyes bright, and damn if there isn't a lump in my throat too, now, because how shitty does his life have to be that someone giving him a free (really awesome) latte is, like, the highlight of his year? The next thing I know the latte is forgotten on the table and he's on his feet, goddamned looming over me, and then I'm being enveloped in the most diffident hug in history, as if he's waiting for me to kick him in the nuts now he's vulnerable.

So I hug him back, and he tightens his hold, and it's a bit like being held by a really gentle bear, except his arms are really long. My cheek ends up somewhere near his collarbone, one hand at the small of his back, one rubbing between his shoulder blades, and it's nice and warm and he smells good, like leather and a hint of aftershave and something tangy I can't identify.

I don't know how long we spend like that, but eventually the spell breaks, and he pulls away, and I get another one of those smiles that makes me fear for my retinas.

"Seriously," he says, "thank you."