Coffeeshop Meet Cute

I felt like writing. Here's some randomness.

Also yes, this isn't technically a Meet Cute. So sue me.

(This is a mirror of a random work from cohost)

"Alex? Is that you?!"

It takes me a second to realize the voice is addressing me. I haven't gone by 'Alex' in years. I turn away from the counter toward the source of the voice to see a man, looking at me with a cautiously happy expression. His smile grows bigger as I look at him and his eyes light up.

"Oh my god! It is you!"

The man looks familiar, but I can't quite place him. Still, based on the way he's addressing me, he had to have been a high school acquaintance. Or maybe someone from my first year of college before I transferred...

"I'm sorry. Do I know you?" I ask as he makes his way over and stands next to me. It's perhaps not the most polite response, but it's early, and I hadn't had my coffee yet. I can't be expected to do polite under those circumstances.

The man laughs. "I'm not surprised you don't recognize me. It's Tyler! We went to high school together!"

I freeze at the name. Tyler had been a typical high school "nerd", always buried in notebooks and textbooks. He'd tutored me in math and his guidance -- and my resulting improved grades -- had kept me from losing my place on the soccer team.

He'd been the first guy I'd ever had a crush on, back when I hadn't really accepted yet that I liked guys.

"Oh!" I say, my voice clearly as shocked as I feel. "You look... different."

He laughs again, flexing his arm for me, and I really don't like the way it makes me feel. "Good different, I hope! I had a bit of a heart scare a few years back, and that convinced me to take better care of myself. I started running and swimming, and picked up some weight routines as well."

I nod. "Yeah. Definitely, uh... good different."

He smiles, eyes focused my way, but clearly looking through me. "This is the sign I was looking for," he says, seemingly to himself, before he shakes his head and meets my gaze again. "Sorry. Hi! It's great to see you again."

"Sign?" I ask, my brain still on the first comment. Where's my coffee, dammit?

"Oh." He looks a bit sheepish. "I was in town visiting my parents, and long story short, things haven't been going so well for me out in Boston. I was heading to the airport and wondering whether I should just move back here, and told myself that if I saw a sign, I'd do it." He shrugs. "You're that sign."

"I think seeing a high school classmate in your hometown hardly qualifies as a sign," I respond, glancing back toward the barista behind the counter. She's holding a drink topped with a large amount of whipped cream that clearly isn't mine. Who drinks that much sugar this early, anyway?

He bites his lip for a second, and it brings a memory racing back. Sitting next to him at a desk in the library, him leaning over me as he shades in part of a graph for me in my notebook, so close that I could feel his breath on my neck. I'd glanced over at him, and he'd bitten his lip, just like that.

It had been the first time I'd realized I had feelings for him.

I shake the memory out of my head, and it takes my sluggish mind a second to realize Tyler hadn't responded. "Sorry," I say, needing to fill the silence, even though we're in a busy coffee shop surrounded by people chattering on their bluetooth headsets. "I didn't mean to..."

"I had the biggest crush on you," he blurts out, then immediately blushes at the admission.

"What did you say?" My mind is sure it'd heard incorrectly, and the words come out harsher than I'd intended.

Tyler immediately looks guilty, or upset, or maybe scared. "I'm sorry. That was inappropriate. I... I should go."

"No!" I object, grabbing his arm so he can't leave. "I didn't..."

"Vince!" the barista calls, and I turn toward the sound of my voice. She's holding a drink out in my direction.

I grab it, not realizing until it's too late that I'd dragged Tyler to the counter with me. I immediately release his arm. "Oh, sorry! I didn't mean to..."

He smiles and shakes his head. Something about the interaction seems to have calmed him down anyway. "It's okay. It's early. You haven't had your coffee. I understand." He seems to pause, then looks amused. "'Vince', huh? Alexander Vincent Lewis, if I remember correctly. 'Vince' is a nice change."

I don't like the way my name on his lips makes me feel, and ignore that part, finding it easier. "I had a crush on you, too," I say instead, staring into his eyes and watching as the words hit him, even though I'm blocking access to the counter and really should be heading out the door to work.

"Oh." Tyler doesn't seem to know what to say to that. I'm pretty sure that me reciprocating his feelings hadn't been on his list of possible scenarios.

"Excuse me," a woman says next to us, pushing past me to grab her drink from the counter. I break eye contact with Tyler and head to a table in the corner. I don't need to look back to know he's following me.

I sit at the table, sipping my coffee and staring at the cup, not looking up even as Tyler sits down across from me and waits for me to speak.

"I didn't know back then," I say, feeling like I need to explain, even though I'm sure he understands. "Maybe I should have."

"I still have a crush on you," Tyler says, and I finally do look up at him at that. He's smiling, softly, and it's all I can to do keep from grabbing him across the table and kissing him.

I sip my coffee instead, a response sticking in my throat even though it shouldn't. It'd been years since I'd come to terms with my sexuality. I'd dated -- and fucked -- plenty of guys in the meantime.

"Me too," I finally manage, staring down at the table again, and hating how much it's true. How much his smile had brought all of the feelings flooding back from all those years ago.

I watch as he lays his hand on the table, flat, in front of me.

I take it and squeeze.

It feels like a beginning.