latte.

dear donghae (i love you)
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latte. chapter one  

It’s a relatively slow Monday morning, the day Hyukjae meets the love of his life. The morning rush had ended just a little earlier than it normally does, with the number of customers bustling in the door seeking their much-needed caffeine begins to slow to nothing more than a trickle. Hyukjae is on drink making duty, with Yesung manning the till. Hyukjae’s mind had begun to drift off about three drinks back.

“That will be two-fifty,” Yesung says to the last customer in line, before passing the empty cup to Hyukjae. Hyukjae bites back a groan at the complicated order, with a very specific number of pumps of creamers and flavours. 

But Hyukjae is nothing if not good at his job, so even with the complicated specifications, he finishes the drink in no time at all. He calls out for the person to pick up the drink, offers the young woman a very customer service smile, and breathes a sigh of relief when she exits the cafe, leaving it empty.

Yesung heaves a sigh, his smile disappearing and replaced by a scowl.

“Do your cheek muscles hurt from all that fake smiling?” Hyukjae teases. Yesung scowls even deeper.

“ off,” he says. “If you weren’t so good at making the drinks, I would have convinced Sungmin to let me make the drinks and have you deal with people ages ago.”

“And yet,” Hyukjae says, wiping down the counter. “Here you are.” Yesung sends him an obscene gesture and Hyukjae cackles.

“One day,” Yesung says. “One day, I’ll be able to tell people where to shove it when they give me some ridiculous order with the most condescending voice known to man.”

Hyukjae is about to say something but is cut off when the bells above the door chime as the door swings open. Hyukjae wants to laugh at how quickly the scowl is wiped off Yesung's face and is replaced by a plastic smile.

"Welcome to the Junior Roast, how may I help you today?"

"Uh, a small latte, please," the man says. Hyukjae pushes off the counter and busies himself with preparing the espresso for the drink as Yesung punches in the order.

"That'll be two-fifty, please. For here or to go?"

"For here."

"Name?"

"Donghae," the man says softly.

Yesung places the small mug next to Hyukjae, with the name 'Donghae' scribbled on the side in washable marker. "Thanks," Hyukjae mumbles. He pours the espresso in, along with the steamed milk. He takes a bit of time since there weren't any customers waiting, to make a small heart in the milk foam.

When he finishes, he walks up to the counter and places the cup on it. The man who had ordered doesn't seem to realize, still looking down, one hand buried his hoodie packet and his attention focused solely on his phone.

"Donghae?"

The man jumps and looks up. When he meets Hyukjae's eyes, it seems like time slows down to a crawl, as cliché as it sounds.

Hyukjae is enraptured by the beauty and inexplicable glow that seems to surround the man in front of him. The man's eyes most of all, seem to glow with a sort of gentleness, a sort of vulnerability that adds to his beauty. Hyukjae's eyes trail over the man's straight, pointed nose, flawless skin, and sharp jawline.

Then he snaps himself out of his blatant ogling.

"Donghae?" he repeats.

The man nods and walks forward, grasping the cup in both hands.

"Thanks," he says. He then gives Hyukjae a small smile and Hyukjae's breath catches in his chest. If he thought the man was beautiful before, he's absolutely breathtaking now: the way his eyes crinkle ever so slightly and his eyes shine, giving Hyukjae a view of his teeth, where one is adorably slightly crooked.

That's it. Hyukjae's doomed.

Then Donghae turns and shuffles off into the corner of the cafe, taking a seat there. Hyukjae can't help but stare a little longer before Yesung's not-so-subtle nudging to his ribs snaps him out of it.

"You're starting to look like a creep," Yesung hisses. 

Hyukjae ducks his head.

"Yeah," he says.

"Haven't seen you like that since—"

"Ack," Hyukjae says and quickly places a finger on Yesung's lips, effectively shutting him up. "Stop, I don't need to be reminded of my poor romantic choices, okay? It's embarrassing."

"Mm, embarrassing is right, I was embarrassed watching you," Yesung says. "I'm embarrassed now, just thinking about it."

It had been Hyukjae's only real crush and then his only long term relationship. He had made quite the fool of himself trying to get her attention. And what was far more mortifying was when he dated her for a solid six months before realizing he liked her brother far more than he liked her. That had been awkward, to say the least.

Yesung had laughed until he cried and nearly peed himself when he found out. Hyukjae's face still turns red thinking about it.

Since then, Hyukjae had fallen into lust a lot. A whole lot. So often that most of the time it isn't worth mentioning. This was definitely lust, because damn what a man, but he’s pretty sure if he isn’t careful he could definitely see himself falling in love as well. 

"Well," Hyukjae says, shooting another glance at Donghae, who is still sitting quietly in the corner, crouched over what looks like a large textbook. "It's a good thing he's not coming back, then. So it won't happen again."

Yesung snorts, somewhat disbelievingly. Hyukjae grits his teeth, but then his eyes once again begin to drift towards the figure sitting in the back corner.

“God, you’re so obvious, please stop staring,” Yesung mutters. Hyukjae scowls at him before removing his apron. 

“Ring the bell if you need me, I’m going to finish up some readings,” he says because if he stays out here, he might combust.

“You’re sharing those notes with me, right?” Yesung calls after him and Hyukjae flips him off on his way into the back office. He always ends up sharing his notes with Yesung, regardless of what he wants. He pulls his textbook on clinical practices out of his bag. He’s doing pretty well in the anatomy portion of his medical school studies, but it’s the clinical portion, and the stress of it that always drags his assessments down. He knows Yesung is in the same boat—quite possibly even worse, given Yesung’s temper. 

He flips open his notebook and then to the chapter he needs to study and sinks into his work, his mind only occasionally wandering to the man with the pretty smile sitting just outside. 

He's almost finished the chapter when he hears Yesung ring the bell for him. He stands, stretching and revelling in the satisfying pops of his back, and then heads outside. Yesung hands him a large paper cup. 

"Large Americano," he says. Hyukjae nods and gets to work making the drink. When he's done, he calls out for the woman waiting and hands over her drinks. As she leaves, Hyukjae finds his gaze drifting back to the booth in the back corner of the cafe. Donghae is still there. His back is to Hyukjae, but from the angle that Hyukjae is standing, he can see the outline of his jaw and the straight angle of his nose, all backlit by the sun shining in through the windows. 

Hyukjae sighs.

What a sight.

“Ryeowook texted me,” Yesung says, snapping Hyukjae out of his reverie. “Asking us if we want to go to a bar tonight.”

Hyukjae raises an eyebrow.

“It’s Monday,” he says. Yesung rolls his eyes.

“When has that ever stopped us?”

“You. When has that ever stopped you,” Hyukjae says. “Unlike you, I drink responsibly.”

“Yes, yes,” Yesung says, waving a hand at him. “You only get blackout drunk on the weekends, my bad.”

“Yes, like a normal person.”

“Well, you can drink soda if that’s really what you’re so worried about. Ryeowook wants us to meet a friend he made so he’s inviting us out,” Yesung says.

“Excuse me?”

Hyukjae whirls around at the soun

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