Welcome to the first Caffeine fanfiction in existence (that I know of - the category wasn't even on this site until I requested it today, and I don't think there's one besides this on AO3, either!), and it's a crossover! If you're new to Caffeine, Tom is played by Mark Pellegrino (the same guy who plays Lucifer in Supernatural), so this is really just Balcifer except instead of Lucifer, it's Tom. Er, yeah.
He must have walked past that coffeehouse a thousand times on his way home from work. He doesn't know what possesses him to stop this time—it could be anything, really, from the sandwich-board sign reading Black Cat Café to the quirky little shops on either side of it—but something has him staring up into the windows of the second floor where the café is located. It might be interesting, he tells himself, and so, on the grandest whim he's ever known, he passes through the small atrium and up the stairs to find himself at the door of the Black Cat Café.
He doesn't see a sign that tells him to wait to be seated, so he just heads for an open table and sits down. Taking a glance around, he affords himself a small smile at the dozen or so people scattered at the other tables. There's a few older women who look like they wouldn't be out-of-place attempting to lead a séance, two men in their mid-thirties wearing business suits but still looking very at-home amid all the funky decoration, and various other offbeats talking quietly to each other. Compared to them, he looks positively normal with his black suede jacket and V-neck shirt. He feels himself relaxing automatically and smiles at one of the younger women. She giggles and smiles back before returning her attention to her friend. Not bad at all.
"Hello," a cheerful voice says to his right. He looks up and smiles at the girl with the black shirt and apron. She has heavy eye makeup and black hair with red streaks pulled back into a careless ponytail, and her look is one of overall punkishness. She's pretty and clearly knows it, but she isn't going to be rude about it. "I'm Vanessa." She hands him a menu. "You can look that over and someone will be 'round in a minute to take your order. Did you want some water?"
"Yes, thanks," he says, and she nods and hurries back to the kitchen. He settles back in his seat, beginning to look over the menu, and feels himself start to smile again. Already, he thinks he rather likes it here.
Vanessa collapses against the closest wall in the kitchen and mimes fanning herself off. "Jesus, Tom, you should get a look at the bloke who just sat down. Table eight. Tall, blond, fit as Hell." She lets out a soft whistle and grins at Tom, who smiles back politely but really can't be arsed to care. After Rachel left six months ago, handing him the keys to this place, his workload tripled. It was almost a relief when Dylan's agent called him back to tell him he was getting his novel published. After that, Dylan had quit and ended their torrid, illicit affair (which is something Vanessa and Charlie still don't know about, and they won't ever, if Tom has anything to say about it; and Anna, Dylan's replacement, will definitely never know, either), which freed up a considerable amount of Tom's time. He's in no rush to get involved with anyone again.
"He's all yours, then," Tom says easily, knowing Anna won't care. She's in a steady relationship with her girlfriend of two years, a young woman named Jo.
"Oh, please. A man who dresses in suede isn't looking for a woman's company," Vanessa jokes. This draws a mad cackle from Charlie who, after six months and Rachel's forgiveness, is now back in Vanessa's good books. "But can you at least take him his water? I have about four other tables I'm working on, and Anna's got her own set."
Tom sighs. Sometimes, he thinks he's too nice for his own good. If a friend asks him for something, he'll do it. And that's what they are—Vanessa and Charlie and Anna and Rachel, even though she doesn't work here anymore. They're his friends, more than they are his employees or, in Rachel's case, former boss. He's not sure what Dylan is anymore, but he doesn't work here either and they haven't spoken in four months, so he's pretty sure that relationship can be safely filed under "ex-lovers." But Vanessa asks him to bring this new customer his water and even though Tom is technically her boss now, he does it anyway. They're friends, after all.
The shop is doing well this morning, which is a relief. Tom had worried for the first few weeks that word about his takeover would cause a decline in their clientele. Rachel had always been popular, and the shop had belonged to her father before her. Tom couldn't help thinking that their customers wouldn't like his management style even though it really wasn't much different from Rachel's, but he needn't have worried. Their devoted customers returned and, since the day Rachel was first interviewed for her new job was the day that the whole shop had almost gone to Hell completely, business actually saw an uptick. It's an exciting place to be, apparently. He's just relieved no one had written a newspaper article on it.
Tom knows the layout of the tables so well by now that he could navigate them half-asleep (and has done so on several occasions). He makes it to table eight without incident and manages to set the glass down and pull out his pen and notepad before even looking at this customer who Vanessa described as "tall, blond, and fit." Well, damn. Vanessa has a tendency to exaggerate, but this time, her description is dead-on. Even sitting down, he's clearly about six feet tall, and his wavy blond hair lends him an almost cherubic appearance. Those huge blue eyes and absolutely heavenly-looking mouth don't hurt, either. Vanessa's right about the suede jacket, too, and it hugs this man's body just right, in a way that has the saliva pooling in his mouth. That gorgeous blue-eyed gaze fixed on him is just short of brain-melting. It's a testament to how long Tom's been doing his job that he can even speak right now. "Hello, I'm Tom," he manages to say. "Can I get you anything off the menu?"
The customer smiles back at him. It's stunning and Tom has to fight to stay focused. "Can I get a cup of tea and a turkey sandwich, please?" It's like he's completely unaware of what he's doing to him—or he is aware, and he finds the whole situation riotously funny.
"Yeah, of course," Tom stutters out, feeling angry with himself. You'd think he'd never seen an attractive man before. Get a grip! "White or wheat bread for your sandwich?" There. That sounds much more professional.
"Wheat, please." Tom is fairly sure the other man hasn't looked away from him once and he wonders what he's playing at. He also knows he hasn't looked away from this man either but it doesn't matter. He'll probably be able to remember his order a year from now. It's almost embarrassing. Even with the look this customer is giving him, he really can't bring himself to care.
"Absolutely. And what kind of tea did you want?"
"Whatever you want," the other man says. That smile of his, wide and open, is infectious. It seems like he's smiling just for Tom. "Surprise me."
Tom nods quick. "Alright. I'll have your tea out in just a minute." He quickly scribbles down this man's order so Charlie has something to go off. He starts to hurry away, hoping he's not turning red, when he hears his customer's voice following him.
He's definitely flushing red now. Tom has to suppress his groan as he nearly dashes back to the kitchen. As soon as he's sure he's out of earshot of the main sitting area, he rounds on Vanessa. She's taken up a spot on the counter, smirking in self-satisfaction. "I hope you're happy," he snaps. "I made a fool of myself."
"I told you!" she crows. "Fit as Hell! Absolutely gorgeous."
"Who is?" Anna asks, walking into the kitchen with two plates carefully balanced in each hand. She sets the plates in the sink and wipes her hands off on her apron, looking expectantly from Vanessa to Tom to Charlie. "What?" she asks at their incredulous faces. "Just because I'm not into men doesn't mean I can't acknowledge that they're attractive."
"Table eight," Tom sighs. "Tall, blond, fit as Hell. Absolute gentleman. He actually used my name." He runs his hands over his hair before tearing the sheet with said tall, blond, fit-as-Hell customer's order on it off the top of his notepad and attaching it to the little carousel above Charlie's workstation. "Why would you do this to me, Vanessa?"
"I think I know which one you're talking about," Anna says. "Black suede jacket? He's very cute. Not really my type, though. Although my type has tits," he adds, laughing.
Charlie bursts out laughing and Tom rolls his eyes, settling his gaze on a point on the wall high above their heads. He's the tallest of the group at six-foot-one and Charlie is the next-tallest at five-foot-nine, though, so really any point at his eye level is above their heads. After a moment, he tucks his notepad back into his apron pocket and busies himself with this customer's tea.
The moment Tom dashes back into the kitchen, he lets out a ragged breath. Damn him. That man has blue eyes he can easily get lost in and the friendliest smile he's ever seen. Plus, he was looking at him like he was the only thing he ever wanted. That was distracting. He's never done something like asking for a random tea (that "surprise me" line had flown out of his mouth before he could stop it) and he wholly blames Tom for it. Damned if he doesn't want to pull the man into his lap, though.
Now he can see why this place is so popular on a Wednesday morning, though. Between Tom and Vanessa and the cute redheaded woman running around, the wait-staff is probably the primary draw for this crowd. He wonders why he never decided to stop in before. The food is probably good, too, and it's actually fairly cheap. He likes this place overall, but he wonders if coming in here almost every week like he initially planned is going to be worth the frustration of seeing Tom every time.
He reminds himself that Tom was probably just flirting with him to get a better tip. It's probably going to work, too, because he's a sucker for a smile like that. Well, what the Hell. He's obviously nice enough and certainly attractive. He decides he's going to flirt right back when Tom returns.
He gathers his thoughts and tries to figure out what to say when Tom reappears, carrying a tray with a cup of tea perched on it. He ignores the way his heart picks up its tempo and smiles coolly. Hopefully it's not too cool, though. He wants to appear relaxed without seeming detached and uninterested. Flirting is a complicated dance, one he's quite skilled at, but there's always the chance he could misstep or run into someone who's just a little bit better than him. A cursory glance would tell him that Tom is unlikely to fill that billet, but it could be a ruse. A very clever one. He has to give him a nod for that.
"Thanks, Tom," he says with a charming smile as the waiter sets his tea down on the table.
Tom seems to go a little pink but he smiles back in that endearing way. "You're welcome. I'll have your sandwich out in just a moment," he adds. Still blushing, he scurries off to another table.
At first, he thought the blush was just an act, but now he's pretty sure that it's genuine. Tom clearly isn't used to being flirted with. It's a mind-boggling notion to him, because he honestly expected that people threw themselves left and right at him. Apparently they're not, though, and that's something that just doesn't sit well with him.
"What did he say?" Vanessa asks the moment Tom is back in the kitchen. She's definitely in one of her better moods, because normally, she doesn't care at all about Tom and his life. Not that she doesn't care at all, because she does. She usually doesn't go out of her way to get details, though. (She's usually content to make baseless deductions, but this holds with all of her coworkers and not just Tom. Her comment to Charlie a few months ago was the main reason he was convinced Rachel and Dylan shagged in the office. Of course, she still doesn't know she was wrong about that.)
"Am I the only one actually working around here?" Anna asks before Tom can get in a word, though. She's joking—probably. She did see Tom checking on a few customers earlier, after all. She's probably pointedly referring to Vanessa, who's spent a grand total of ten minutes out at her tables.
Vanessa rolls her eyes and hops off the counter. She plucks two plates off the shelf that Charlie's just put them on. "I was waiting for these," she says, and whisks them out.
Tom thinks it may have been easier to hire a bloke to replace Dylan. Having another woman around clearly doesn't help Vanessa's mood much, especially when it's really just her and Anna. Tom's not even a waiter anymore—he's the manager. And it's not like they can't afford more help, either. He begins to entertain the notion of hiring one, maybe two more people. With a few extra hands, they can ease up on the scheduling a bit. Maybe they could get a new cook to help out Charlie, too. He decides to run that idea by them later on in the day.
In the meantime, Charlie's just finished making the sandwich for tall, blond, and fit, so Tom takes it and brings it out, steeling himself for the inevitable flirt-tacular that's about to take place. No matter. He doesn't mind the attention. Sure, he's not used to it, but it's nice to know that someone is at least pretending to be interested.
This is the first time in about a year that I've started a fanfiction with no real idea where it'll go. This'll probably only be about five chapters long and pretty fluffy...with a bit of smut later on.