((A.N.: Mainly strong language warnings, AU, and the overall idea wasn't mine, I just found it on tumblr and played with it to the best of my limited ability. Also, before anyone even asks, yes, yes it is Armin.))
As is usually the case with many bad ideas and embarrassing situations, it all started with a bet.
"Haah?" A tall girl with rather grumpy eyes and her black hair pulled back into a messy tail turned to her co-worker, who was just reaching for the skim milk."The hell you talking 'bout?" She grouched impatiently in all her freckle-faced glory, turning back to the next customer behind the counter.
Not turning away from the espresso machine, Jean gave a shrug, figuring he still had some room to maneuver before Ymir would tackle him against a wall. "What I'm saying is… You're actually scared of dating, ain'cha."
Admittedly, Jean wasn't the most pleasant co-worker to share a shift in the cafe with. If it hadn't been for a strong sense of work ethic, (read as a watchful boss) she would've written an outrageous wrong order on the cup she was holding and let him deal with the resulting customer complaints. "Shut up asshole" was all she quietly muttered while passing by him in the cramped work area.
All her hopes of him letting it go were blown into the chilly late-Autumn wind when they stepped out of the cafe back-door after work. While shifting her hoodie tighter around her neck, Jean caught up to her as if going after his next date victim. With a groan, she hoped dearly that he wasn't going to bring up their previous topic.
"So, you gonna prove me wrong or what."
"About what." Came a grunt with all the enthusiasm of a stagnant basement puddle.
"You're scared of dating."
The careful usage of a statement and not a question just made it much worse than Ymir had thought was humanly possible. Even for Jean's well established standards.
"You're a pain in the ass yanno that." She replied, giving up on pulling her hoodie any higher around her neck and promptly flipping the hood over her head. "No wonder all the chicks you date start avoiding you after a couple days."
Jean, for once before feeling undignified, caught her intention with a grin. "Oh come on don't give me that schtick." He smirked, trudging alongside his co-worker. "This isn't about me."
"For once eh, princess?"
"Shut up bitch."
They walked in silence, save for the howling of nighttime wind and the occasional expletive when stomping right into a puddle.
Jean glanced at his watch, attempting to look preoccupied. "So, you gonna talk about it?"
She turned to him with a murderous glare. "Hey, you're not my psychiatrist, fucktard."
Hands thrown in the air, Jean dramatically feigned shock. "Whoah, pissed enough to throw out bad names? That's low, even for you."
Head beginning to throb with the will to murder, Ymir sneered as the fork in their paths finally arrived. "Look who's talking." She threw out, swearing to herself that the customers be damned tomorrow, she was gonna write that wrong order. "I am not scared of dating, me being this open about being gay ought to prove that."
Apparently the low growl and irritated glare wasn't telling enough to Jean that one side of the conversation was intensely unwilling. "But you've never actually dated anyone."
She didn't know what urged her to reply. "It's better than having gone after that many girls with no one calling back."
His co-worker physically leaning in the direction of her route home didn't deter the conversation from continuing. "Hey man at least I try. It just seems you don't even wanna try. Why? You scared of rejection or something? Come on."
"I am NOT afraid of rejection." Ymir spat, the throbbing in her head intensifying as she sought all possible means of making the boy shut the hell up. "Just mind your own fucking business, before I introduce you to my friend here." She gestured to a nearby lamp-post.
Shrugging, unamused and apparently not threatened, Jean merely took a half-step back. "Pff, right, sure. Whatever you say, yanno? You won't even prove it."
"Look here." Ymir stopped in her tracks, turning on a heel and making a grab for Jean's collar; or at least attempting. With a dainty step back he quickly evaded capture. "If that's what it's gonna take for you to shut your trap, then fine, I'll prove it. Now would you please let me go home instead of listening to your bitch voice?"
Smirking down like the cat with the cream, Jean raised both hands in the air, finally satisfied. "You're so on."
The two parted ways, Ymir now trying to think of loopholes to dodge while retaining her dignity. Jean however flipped out his phone to look for the number of a new chick he'd hit on a couple days ago; a smart, demure little blonde girl with blue eyes and an adorable bob cut.
By the time Ymir's alarm went off the next morning, there was still no loophole in sight. Jean's challenge had been so vague, so rough, so badly thought out. So much so that in an odd way, it was far too straightforward, and anything Ymir could have pulled would immediately seem like she was trying too hard.
That was, however, till she stepped into the cafe and laid eyes on a cutesy little noticeboard sitting on the counter. Among workers, it had been affectionately named the 'board of shame'; the barista for the day would have to write their name on it, and a drink recommendation. Their boss had seen it online somewhere and thought it to be cute; among workers however, it was just about as grudgingly perpetuated as hygiene.
At least, up till that moment.
She grabbed the board and a chalk marker, sitting down with it, focusing on one thing and one thing only.
When Jean stepped into the workstation, still groggily tying his apron, he looked up to much sniggering and whispering among customers at the counter where Ymir was serving.
"Hell's going on?" He half yawned, somewhat surprised that Ymir didn't seem at all anguished by his challenge. "Yo, Ymir, whatcha..."
The words were shoved back into his mouth by the board of shame being pushed right up to his face. Brushing his co-worker's hands away, he grabbed the board, resulting in a long, hard stare.
In Ymir's unmistakable penmanship, with all the careful elegance of a writhing earthworm, was the following.
TODAY YOUR BARISTA IS:
1. Hella fucking gay.
2. Desperately single.
FOR YOUR DRINK TODAY I RECOMMEND:
You give me your number.
Jean stared and stared again, reading through it several times to make sure he didn't suddenly lose touch with linguistic proficiency.
"You're a crazy-ass mental, you know that?"
In one swift move Ymir had reclaimed the board and placed it right back where it had stood proudly; on the counter in plain view. For sure fucking certain, no one was going to give their number to someone this rough round the edges. Even if they did, all Ymir had to do was toss it and never have to deal with the person again.
The day more or less passed with her plan working to perfection. Several guys passed over their numbers for shits and giggles, making quick exits while Ymir nonchalantly shredded the napkins they were written on. As the end of her shift slowly crept closer, she started feeling pretty good about having definitively done Jean one better.
The door swung open, pushing a rustic sounding cowbell that conditioned the Pavlovian welcoming response from staff.
Ymir looked up, her hands more active than her mind was. "Welcome to… Holy crap."
An awkward stare from the customer she'd been serving prompted a hasty apology, and the barista looked away from the cutest, tiniest little blonde girl who'd just walked in.
Hell, even Jean, who wouldn't shut up about the blonde girl he'd just met, couldn't stop staring.
For that moment, Ymir just wanted desperately to keep the board of shame before the cherubim made it to the front of the line. For the first time that day, it regained its status as the board of shame, and not that of 'Ymir rubbing her magnificent non-existent balls of chromoly steel in Jean's bitch face'. She toyed with the idea, all she'd need to do was grab it, put it away for a second, then put it back on display once Maria Goretti left.
But, Jean was watching. She wasn't sure if he was watching the board, or the angel among mortals. But he was watching.
The board stayed in place, as the tanned girl stiffly attempted normal customer service.
Just as she wrote "vanilla latte" on the right sized paper cup, she turned back to Helen of Troy just long enough to realize she was chuckling at the, now incontestable, board of shame.
All the smug satisfaction of Jean's skirting around any mentions of the bet were instantly deflated.
That bastard was going to deal with that wrong order, full stop.
Speaking of whom, it seemed as if he was deliberately making a very, very slow vanilla latte. Every move he made seemed to be sluggish and clumsy, when in fact he was doing his job just as he would have any other day. Perhaps even a little faster in efforts to impress.
The drink was hastily snatched out of his hand the moment he lifted it up, and within the second it was placed (with a coffee collar, naturally) into the customer's hand.
She smiled her thanks; and merciful lord, that face lit up the shop and several blocks down to boot. Ymir distinctly heard the sound of a dropped fork.
She swallowed, mechanically allowing work ethic to take over. "That'll be $3.25."
The tiny girl, barely looking up over the counter, hastily stopped writing something before giving a quick nod, and reaching for her wallet. Hidden among the bills that Ymir eventually got though, was a small piece of notebook paper.
She stared at it with all the social grace of a paralysis victim. "... The hell is this?" She let slip, her mind catching up to her just before the girl looked up to speak.
"It's my number." She smiled, while Ymir read the name 'Christa' to herself over and over.
After releasing a sound oddly akin to a sea mammal dying ashore, Ymir found herself looking much less comfortable in her skin than the girl who had just handed over her phone number to a stranger.
Another smile and the girl dropped her change into the tip jar, leaving with the faintest of blushes on her face. As the door lazily swung shut, there was a pregnant moment of silence in the cafe before everyone realized they'd been holding their breaths, and resumed their activities.
The two baristas were, of course, somewhere between paralyzed and solidified after maximum exposure and actual, direct social contact. Ymir in particular felt a stiffness in her wrist from actually engaging her in conversation.
Work resumed upon sheepish prompting from the next customer in line. With an awkward cough, both of them got back to the tasks at hand. Jean thoughtfully scratched the side of his face. "... Hey, you think..."
"Just… Don't say anything." Ymir cut him off in a conditioned reflex, trying to stop remembering that she had Saint Agnes' number sitting in her pocket.