Fill for my 30 theme challenge for Meetings, gift for Skyebyrd!
Warnings: Strange time jumps that I hope are clear, possible mistakes in editing (I caught a few re-reading it, but let me know if something sticks out as weird).
Disclaimer: I do not own Hetalia or any of the characters mentioned.
Thanks to SimplySalted for being my lovely beta reader!
The shop was quiet, with only a single customer reclining in one of the chairs in the back. Cleaning the counter, his gaze rose lazily towards the clock on the wall. 11:57 AM. His lips curved upwards, and he couldn't help but hum happily.
"It's almost noon, I see." A voice drifted from a little farther behind him, startling him enough into dropping his rag onto the ground as he spun around on his heels. The owner of the voice laughed, before coming to stand at his side.
"Emma, don't do that! You're going to give me a heart attack one day." The blonde chuckled, bumping her hip against Antonio's playfully. He pouted, gazing down at her as she merely grinned mischievously up at him.
When he had decided to invest in the little coffee shop in the small neighborhood of town, he hadn't been quite prepared for everything that went into maintaining it. Just as he felt like he was drowning, almost having to give up his dream by selling the store, Emma, his cousin from his mother's side, came to his rescue. She invested in the shop, 'Coffee 'Round the Clock', bringing to it the life that it once lacked through her special concoction of drinks and delicious treats.
With her appearance, the shop was given another chance and survived, becoming the most popular places to go to grab the most appetizing baked goods and best drinks. They quickly gathered a slew of regular customers, and a reputation with many new faces as well.
"He's coming today, isn't he?" Antonio looked away, attempting to hide his suddenly flushed face. The Belgian chortled at the display, reaching up to poke his cheek cheerfully. "See, I knew it! Look at how much you're blushing. And you laugh at him for how red he gets."
Antonio tried to protest, but was cut off when the door to the shop opened violently, nearly smashing against the wall from the force. The Spaniard's head snapped towards the sound so fast, he was sure he got whiplash. Speaking of regulars...
He felt Emma pat his back, and disappear into the back once more. Taking a deep breath to calm himself, Antonio couldn't help but smile brightly at the scowling customer in front of him.
"Welcome back, Lovino!"
The first time Lovino came into his shop, the scrutinizing look on his face had drawn Antonio's attention. His nose was crinkled upwards in what appeared to be disdain as he examined the bright yellow walls, before nearly scoffing as he examined the ruby red couches off in the corner. The black top tables and fold-out chairs seemed to be just as unimpressive as he rolled his eyes at them.
Antonio had never seen someone so open to show their apparent disgust for the shop and, frankly, it intrigued him. When he finally approached the counter, he coldly ordered the shop's special drink, a Café con Leche to go. Antonio tried his best to make idle chitchat, but he had been detached the entire time, tapping his foot angrily as he demanded Antonio finish making his drink and complained about how he'd never come back to such a tacky shop.
He paid for his drink and, before Antonio could even call out a farewell, the brunette was gone almost as quickly as he had arrived.
The Spaniard was sure he'd never see the other again, after the display he'd put on, but fate seemed to have a different plan in mind. Two days later, Antonio stood up from where he had been crouching behind the counter to see that grumpy face glowering at him once more.
It became a routine after a while for the bad-tempered Italian to appear two, sometimes three times a week, to buy himself the same beverage every time. On the fifth occasion, Antonio finally managed to discover that the young man, who was rapidly becoming his favorite customer, was named Lovino Vargas.
On the twentieth encounter, Lovino's usual tightly sealed lips loosened enough to let the Spaniard know that he was attending the art school down the street, attempting to become a professional photographer. When he handed him his cup of coffee, Antonio enthusiastically exclaimed that he should bring in some of his works to sell. Lovino scoffed, rolling his eyes as he paid, and claimed that it had been one of the stupidest ideas he'd ever heard.
The next time he appeared, Lovino had a bundle of framed photographs tucked under his arm, and a slightly embarrassed furrow in his eyebrows.
The photographs, which consisted of sceneries, landscapes, and candid portraits of multiple people around the city, soon lined the walls, replacing the old pieces of artwork bought by Emma in an attempt to 'liven up this place!' They were a huge hit, especially any of the portraits of a young man, light brown hair, squinted golden eyes and carefree smile. When Antonio casually brought up how cute the person was while giving Lovino his drink, the other bluntly frowned, before turning heel and habitually storming out of the shop wordlessly
After that incident, Lovino spent the next three visits reverted into his old tradition of ignoring any attempts at conversation the shopkeeper tried to hold. But the fourth time, he finally spoke to Antonio, after the Spaniard had quietly asked if he'd done something to offend him. He let out an irritated snort of laughter, rolling his eyes and called Antonio a fool.
Antonio never brought up the boy again (though he'd managed to squeeze out of the other that the portrait was of his little brother, still trudging along through high school), and Lovino never returned with another picture to sell of him.
Antonio soon became frighteningly aware of just how much he looked forward to the feisty Italian's visits. On the days the other would usually come strolling through the door, almost always at exactly noon, he couldn't help but have an extra spring in his step. Emma would always tease him, giggling at how adorable it was that he'd started to crush on the person who, without a doubt, was their most abrasive customer. Antonio denied it, calling her insane every time she brought it up. The red tint that flushed his cheeks at each accusation, however, told the truth.
He didn't realize it himself, however, until almost half a year had passed since Lovino had first stepped through the doors. For a whole week, in the middle of winter, Lovino never stepped foot into the shop. The first time he failed to appear, Antonio simply assumed he had been too busy to come. When he didn't show up the other two days, however Antonio grew fearful that something had happened to him. Just as he was starting to reach the point of going to the school Lovino attended just to find him, the Italian once again walked through the door.
Instantly, Antonio was by his side, pulling him into a hug while Lovino burst into a fit of explosive swears, attempting to wiggle free from his grasp. Eventually, after letting the flustered Italian go, Antonio managed to discover just where the other had disappeared to.
It turned out that Lovino had caught a nasty bout of the flu, and had been bed ridden until he'd felt better. He still looked ill, too. His nose was a deep red, noticeably chapped around the edges. Each intake of breath sent him sniffling slightly in an attempt to clear his nose. Any doubts that Lovino had been lying were easily cast away.
Feeling bad for the other, who looked as though he could faint at any moment, Antonio acted quickly. Shoving him into a chair with a command to stay put, he all but vaulted himself over the counter. Working rapidly, he returned back to Lovino's side, a cup of warm tea in hand, which was quickly forced into the faintly confused Italian's hands.
They chatted idly while he drank his tea, a tint of bewilderment and something else that Antonio couldn't quite make out reflected within guarded eyes. When it was time for Lovino to once more face the cold, he made a reach for his wallet, in an attempt to pay for the tea that he hadn't exactly ordered. He was stopped, however, by a hand over his own, and green eyes sparkling with warmth as Antonio clarified that drink was on the house.
Voice crackling slightly when he tried protesting, Lovino refused to accept the offer, arguing fiercely with Antonio until he was reminded by the cheerful Spaniard that he was going to be late to class. Cursing vehemently, he begrudgingly left the shop, claiming he wouldn't be some taken as charity case. Watching him leave in a furious huff, Antonio couldn't help but think just how cute Lovino had been acting.
That observation alone was enough to make his heart skip a beat, and all thoughts to come to a screeching halt.
Months later, Antonio was staring at Lovino once more, feeling his emotions spin wildly out of control when he locked gazes with him. Even after the realization that he might have a little crush on the other, he had done nothing to change their relationship. Dealing with Lovino was almost akin to dealing with an open flame: treat it carefully, and it will stay calm, tame; but… make one wrong move, and it flared, wild and out of control, possibly to burn out completely, never to return. He decided it would just be better to tread carefully.
Grinning widely, he leaned against the counter, propping himself up on his elbows. "What can I get my favorite customer today~?" He teased, winking cheekily. Okay, so he decided a little flirting couldn't hurt. It was always worth the flushed face, and mumbled curses he got in response.
Today was no exception. Cheeks flared a brilliant red, Lovino let out a murmured expletive that sounded something like "bastard", before clearing his throat. "The usual. It's the only thing you can make somewhat decently." The spark of amusement that flickered into Lovino's hazel eyes revealed the truth. Antonio snorted with laughter as he started making the order.
"Well, how would you know that? Besides the Café con Leche, you haven't dared to try another one of our specialties! And you always get it warm, too! Why not try a Café con Leche fría? Or a Café con Miel?"
Lovino scoffed, leaning against the counter while he watched his drink being made. "Well, sorry I like the good stuff, dumbass. How do I know you won't screw up another drink? I'll stick to what I know, thanks." Antonio just shook his head, ready to retort, but was cut off as Lovino continued. "Besides, are you really so stupid that you've forgotten I have had something else besides coffee here?"
Antonio handed him his cup to go, smiling crookedly at him. "Yes, I remember that quite well. And you said the next day, and I quote, 'You better not give me that shitty tea again, bastard!'"
"That's because it was some herbal shit, and tasted awful!" He made a gagging motion, before taking a sip of his drink. Drumming his fingers against the side of the cup for a few seconds, he hummed thoughtfully, before nodding to himself, as though deciding on something.
"You know," he began coolly, drawing Antonio's attention from the machine he was cleaning, "I still haven't paid you back for that crap you call tea."
Antonio's eyebrow arched in disbelief as he simply said, "Eh? But I told you, that was on the house. You were sick!" A fierce gaze was sent his way, and he tensed, afraid he'd set the other off. A moment passed before the fire cooled in his eyes, and Antonio visibly relaxed, knowing that the other wasn't going to storm out on him as he'd done before.
"And I said that I wouldn't just be a damned charity case for you to take pity on!" Lovino was practically hissing, but the anger in his voice didn't quite reach his eyes. He took a deep, calming breath, before continuing in a cooler voice. "Since you won't take my goddamned money for the tea… and if I pay, it would be considered even… maybe you'd like to go see a movie or something together tonight?" His face, which was slowly started to darken as he spoke, was now a bright shade of pink.
Antonio felt his heart jump into his throat. Swallowing it back down, he tried to keep his voice calm as he replied. "Oh? That sounds like an invitation for a date!" His heart was threatening to burst out of his chest as he positively scrutinized the other's face, looking for any hints of denial at his implication, and found it hard to maintain his composure when he found none.
Lovino hummed once more, before simply replying "If you want it to be."
He could hear Emma giggling in the back, but couldn't bring himself to care. Hand shaking with barely contained excitement, he offered it to Lovino, who gripped it back firmly in a handshake. "It's a date, then", he exclaimed, voice wavering slightly as he tried to appear calm.
Releasing his grasp, Lovino reached into his pocket before placing the money on the counter for his coffee. "I'll see you later." was all he said before he turned around and practically sprinted out of the shop in apparent embarrassment.
Antonio simply stared after him, before being struck with the realization that he had no idea how to contact Lovino. He was almost ready to run after him, before he noticed a small piece of paper placed innocently on top of the money left behind by the fleeing Italian. Picking it up, he couldn't help but grin at the digits scribbled hastily down.
He almost fell over when Emma tackled him from behind, positively squealing at how he'd finally gotten his date with the elusive Lovino. He couldn't help but hug her back, eyes still locked, however on the piece of paper resting in his hand. Tonight couldn't come fast enough.
Slowly working on my WIP fics. I promised Lexi (Skyebyrd) if she published a chapter to her fic one night, on time, I'd write her an ask box fic on tumblr. She did, and I wrote this instead and it was too long for an ask box.
I love Coffee Shop AUs. A lot. A lot a lot. There needs to be more of them in the world for Spamano. The title for the fic, and the shop, is thanks to my beta reader. It's a nifty play on the fact that this whole fic revolves around the passing of time and coffee!
All the coffee drinks mean basically, if my research was right, "Coffee with _", with Leche (which can be served warm, hot, and cold! Antonio was making a jab that Lovino wouldn't even try it in a different way) meaning milk, and miel meaning honey (Café con Miel is supposedly a very sweet drink, with honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. I wanna try it, and I hate coffee drinks!).
Also, Emma was eavesdropping the entire time. And for ages, because I failed to mention it, are: Antonio: 23, Lovino: 21, Emma: 24 (idk why I decided to make her a year older than Antonio. It just fits in my mind) and Feli: 17.
I have a request tumblr now. I take prompt requests, encourage them actually, because I've hit a writers block for three WIP fics and I need to break my slump. I also posted two fics on there that I didn't post here, so if you care to see them, they're there. Link is on profile if you're curious~! Send requests, and maybe I'll be able to fill it!
Reviews make me smile! See you next time!