Character/Pairing: Lance, Shiro, Shance
Prompt: Mistakes; Person A finds Person B sleeping under the table of the cafe they work at
Date Written: 09/09/2017
There was something monotonous about working at a local coffee shop. It didn’t usually have the long line of customers with especially picky orders. Local pretty much translated to been here for years and the people you saw every day were usually familiar faces. They were folks that you knew from your neighbourhood, saw in the grocery store and, for Lance, the first people he saw every morning. It was nice, in its own way. It felt like an extension of his own home and the cafe always had a steady stream of people he knew on sight, knew their grand kids names and even what they used to do when they were young.
Every so often, however, something out of the ordinary happened… but usually it wasn’t this out of the ordinary.
It was a crisp morning, early Autumn when the leaves were just starting to gain hints of yellow and the sun had begun to grow sluggish with its rising hour. Lance rubbed at his eyes, trying to will himself awake before he was able to get that first cup of coffee he so desperately needed. The early opening hour was something that Lance was never fully able to get used to but it paid the bills and sometimes you needed to make some sacrifices; he just wished it wasn’t at the expense of his sleep. Lance pulled the keys from his pocket, the soft jingle seeming loud out in a world that hadn’t quite woken up yet. Flipping to the familiar store key, he yawned loudly as he went to place the key into the lock…. when an odd reflection caught his eyes in the store window. He blinked a couple times, thinking perhaps his sleepy gaze was playing tricks on him but nope. Still there.
Turning his head, he startled slightly.
The patio in front of the store was small, a few tables set out and chairs stacked neatly on the side. Usually, it was void of anything else until Lance set it up but it seemed today, he had a visitor.
An unconscious one, for sleeping underneath one of the tables was a man. A rather neatly dressed man. Professionally pressed dress pants and well kept blazers weren’t generally an attire you found on the homeless, which only furthered the mystery of why the hell a man was sleeping underneath one of the cafe tables at 5 am on a weekday. At least he was clearly breathing; that was a good sign, right? Lance glanced around, as if somehow he would find the source of this mystery down the street and someone else could deal with this matter at this early hour.
No such luck.
Glancing back over, Lance tilted his head to try and get a better look at him. At first glance, he spotted a tuft of white hair peeking out from the arm thrown over the stranger’s face but a couple more steps forward proved him not elderly but… young. ‘Masculine’, Lance observed silently, at least what he could tell from the sharp curve of his jawline and what he could see of his lips and nose. He waved a hand out in front of him, as if somehow the man would notice that through the arm blocking his gaze before he stood tall once more.
“… too early for this…” Lance mumbled, staring down at the sleeping patron for a long moment before he sighed and pulled out his keys once more. Stepping into the shop, he hoped the soft chime of the bells above the door would be enough but one look out the front window proved the stranger a relatively heavy sleeper.
Lance groaned, turning on his heels and decided to simply start his usual routine of getting the cafe ready for customers. He hoped that if he left the stranger alone, perhaps he’d wake up on his own, realise how incredibly awkward this situation was and leave before Lance had to deal with him. He didn’t seem injured when he’d looked at him, he was breathing and judging by how peacefully he was sleeping on the concrete, it didn’t seem a dire necessity to wake him.
At least, not without some coffee.
Eventually, with a fresh batch brewed, Lance poured some into a cup and secured a lid. Grabbing the broom meant for the outdoors, Lance wandered back out the front door with a familiar chime. The door shut itself behind him. The stranger did not stir.
Setting the broom to lean up against the store wall, Lance moved back over to him. Crouching down, cup in one hand, he tilted his head again. Should he just say something? What if that doesn’t wake him up? Maybe he should just shake him… but maybe that would startle him too much? Ahh, man. This was awkward…
“Hey, you alive there, buddy?” Lance asked aloud, holding his breath for some sort of acknowledgment…. but there was no movement. The corner of his mouth tightened. “Buddy.” He repeated, reaching a hand over to his arm and giving him a slight shake. Nothing. Impatience filled him. “Hey! Wake up!!” He shouted beside him and no sooner did those words leave his mouth than did the stranger suddenly jolt.
Right up into the leg of the table.
“Son of a-!”
Lance flinched at the cracking sound as the stranger put his hands against his face, groaning loudly at what he could only assume was a sudden splitting headache. He groaned in dismay and Lance remained there crouching, only giving him a look of sympathy. “Well, what do you expect sleeping under a table like that?”
“Table..?” The stranger questioned, an even cadence to each syllable as reality seemed to slowly sink in for him.
“Yeah, like the one you’re currently under.” Lance replied. “Come on, man. I’ve gotta open shop here and my boss will kill me if she finds out I let someone crash out on the patio.”
The stranger slowly seemed to find himself, sitting up much more carefully this time but still touching fingers to the bruise that would surely be forming in the future. There was a scowl on his face as he looked up but as he took in the surroundings, the annoyance faded for a genuinely look of complete uncertainty. “Where am I?”
‘Handsome’, Lance thought quietly now that he was getting a proper look at his face. That knee jerk reaction to flirt with a pretty face bubbled to the surface but even he couldn’t pull out a line in a situation this awkward.
“Uhh, in front of the Arus Cafe. You okay, man? You’re lookin a little…. rough.” Lance spoke, raising an eyebrow. He looked pretty damn good for somebody who was sleeping outside but now that he was sitting up, the dirt and various debris clung obviously to his white dress shirt.
“Feelin’ a little rough…” The man seemed to finally look over at him, genuinely take in his existence before he brought his hand back up to press against his face. “Ugh, my head is killing me…”
“Here.” Lance spoke, offering him the coffee in his hand with an amused smile. “I find everything feels better once you’ve had a cup of joe. It’s just black, though. Hope that’s okay.”
The man pulled his hand away, looking between him and the cup a moment before he huffed a laugh. “… Thanks.” He replied, happily accepting the cup and taking a tentative sip of it.
“So…” Lance drawled, looking around them a moment before back at the stranger. “What’s your name?”
“It’s, uh, Shiro.” He replied, running a hand through his hair. “Arus Cafe, you said?”
“The one and only.” Lance replied, gesturing up at the sign that hung above the door behind him. “So, Shiro. Mind telling me what I can only assume is a great story on how a – let me guess, corporate sales guy – wound up passed out under one of my tables?”
Shiro let out a single laugh, staring down at his coffee cup a moment before he looked back up at him. “Mind if I get off the ground first?”
“Oh!” Lance startled, getting up quickly and reaching a hand out to him. “Uh, sorry. Here.”
“Thanks.” He replied, grabbing his hand firmly and slowly getting to his feet.
As he stood, Lance was slightly in awe of his height before he shook his head, promptly letting go of his hand. “No problem. You need me to call you a cab or something?”
“No, I uh… I…” Shiro started, reaching a hand into his pocket…. And then his other pocket and a few more moments of patting down clothing occurred before he sighed heavily. “Never mind. Apparently, I left my phone behind.” He gave Lance a smile, one that he found far too charming for this situation and was honestly a little annoyed over it. “You mind if I just use your phone?”
“Yeah, sure. Come in. We’re not open for another ten minutes, though, so no funny business.” Lance warned, gesturing for him to follow before leading him into the store.
“Considering how you found me, I think I’ve met my quota.” Shiro replied as he followed, shutting the door behind himself and taking another sip of the coffee. “… You make this?”
“Mm?” Lance questioning, rounding the counter and grabbing the cordless phone from behind the register. “Yeah, it’s the house blend. Family secret, or so the owner likes to claim.”
“It’s good.” Shiro replied, moving over to the register as Lance held the phone out to him. “Thanks.”
“I still wanna hear that story.” Lance replied, leaning against the counter.
Shiro chuckled again, setting the cup down on the counter and punching a few numbers into the number pad. “Don’t get your hopes up; it’s not that interesting.” Holding the phone up to his ear, he gave Lance a coy smile. “Give me a sec.”
“Sure thing.” Lance replied, watching Shiro hold the phone up to his ear with his shoulder and roll up the sleeve of his shirt in a meticulously neat fashion. The muscle it revealed was far too distracting. Lance promptly busied himself with pretending to clean the bar.
“Rise and shine, Matt.” Shiro spoke into the phone, his smile growing. “…. I should have guessed that. Do you ever sleep? …. Well, funny you should ask. I need a pick up. ….. No, apparently I’m at the Arus Cafe. …. I don’t actually know what neighbourhood– hang on.” Shiro held a hand over the phone before looking over at Lance. “What’s the address here?”
“35 Garrison St. Tell em it’s a few blocks west of Angola Park.” Lance replied.
Shiro raised an eyebrow. “Seriously?” He questioned, before mumbling under his breath. “How the hell did I get over here…?” Lifting his hand from the phone, he spoke normally once more. “35 Garrison St; apparently it’s by Keith’s old place …. Yeah, I’m still trying to figure that out myself … Nah, pretty sure I left my keys and phone at her place … I don’t know, man, she challenge me to a drinking contest, one thing lead to another and– …. Yeah and I’ve got the headache to prove that now. So you gonna come get me or what? I’ll have a coffee waiting for you.” Shiro flashed Lance another quick smile before he seemed to grin at whomever he was talking to. “You’re the best, Matt. I owe you one. See you soon.” He chuckled before ending the call and handing the phone back to him. “Thanks.”
Lance smiled, taking it and setting it back on its charging station before leaning against the counter once more. “So…. Matt. Boyfriend?” He tried, apparently unable to fully suppress that flirting itch.
Shiro blinked before shaking his head, smile still present. Well, he didn’t get immediately defensive; that was always a good sign. Lance felt that bit of hope swell inside him before reminding himself that even if the stranger was handsome, he was still the weirdo he caught sleeping outside the shop. Answers first, possible date options later. “Nah, old college buddy but we’ve known each other for years.”
“College, huh?” Lance repeated, leaning his chin against his palm as he watched him with an amused smile. “College educated and yet still sleeping on concrete?”
Shiro waved a hand, smile never wavering as he leaned forward to grab his coffee off the counter once more. “Yeah, yeah, okay look. I wish I could tell you a way better story than what actually happened but I assume you want the truth.”
“Preferably. I did give you free coffee.” Lance smirked.
“And it is excellent coffee, by the way.” Shiro adds.
“Mhmm.” Lance hums, raising an eyebrow. “I’m waiting, big guy.”
“Right. Okay, so, Matt. He’s got this younger sister. Her name is Katie, but we call her Pidge. Nickname; long story. Anyway,” He rambles, taking a sip of the coffee before continuing. “Kid’s a genius. She officially completed her phD in robotics last month and I promised her that when she did, I’d take her out to celebrate. Unfortunately, the day we planned to do so, she was still wrapped up in her latest research project so we wound up just drinking at her place. Long story short, she challenged me to a drinking contest and I figured it’d be a walk in the park…”
“Let me guess.” Lance grinned, fanning his fingers out before himself. “Ms. PhD turned out to be a secret tank and one too many wound up with you gracing my front step with your morning after regret.”
“…More or less.” Shiro replied, coy smile in place as he ran a hand through his hair. “Matt told me she could hold her liquor but I figured he was just being nice. She drank me under the table.”
“Literally.” Lance grinned widely, unable to resist pointing out the obvious parallel.
The smile fell from his face finally but the way he rolled his eyes gave way that he wasn’t particularly offended. “Let’s… just keep that little detail between you and me, alright? It’d be bad for my practice if that got out.”
“Your secrets are safe with me, provided you come back and pay for your next coffee.” Lance smiled, crossing his arms against the counter and leaning against them.
Shiro stared at him a moment… before an amused smile broke across his face with a short laugh. “I guess that’s fair.”
Lance couldn’t help but light up a little further. “So, practice, you said? You a doctor or something?”
“Nah, don’t got the brains for that sort of stuff. I’m a lawyer. Criminal prosecutor.” Shiro takes another sip of the coffee. “I put bad guys away for a living.”
“Wow..” Lance spoke, nodding his head absently and trying not to think about how this guy was steadily growing more and more out of his league. “That… sounds like a lot of paperwork.”
“It is; believe me. I’ve got piles of em back at the office.” Shiro replied, a quiet smile. “But it’s better than what I used to do. I like this; feels like I can actually do more this way.”
Lance blinked, curiosity getting the better of him. “What’d you used to do?”
“Military; that’s how I could afford law school.” Shiro replied, a tightness to his smile that Lance could tell meant prying further was a delicate topic. Best to sidestep that one for now.
“Ahh, I gotcha. That’s really cool, though. Law school isn’t exactly known for being easy, you know. Sounds to me like you’re either selling yourself short or you’re just being humble. I’d be bragging about that. You know, handing out business cards to everyone I meet.” Lance gestures absently, mimicking as if he was pulling a card from a breast pocket and handing it over to an imaginary person standing next to him.
Shiro watched him a moment before he shook his head with a grin. Ahh, how was he supposed to resist flirting with a smile like that? “I’ll keep that in mind; I’m afraid I’m fresh out of cards at the moment.”
“That’s a pity; how else am I supposed to get your number?” The line fell from his lips before he could catch it and as he stared over at Shiro, who was sporting an increased look of surprise, he felt his face start to redden.
“That was–” Shiro began, before the sound of a blaring horn behind him caught his attention. As he glanced over his shoulder, Lance took the moment to let his own sink in dismay. “Wow, that was quick. My ride is here.”
“And you promised him a coffee, as I recall.” Lance pushed off the counter to fetch a cup with practiced ease, picking up the freshly brewed coffee pot in an attempt to hide his embarrassment.
Shiro glanced back and put up a hand. “Oh, you didn’t actually have to do that. I’ve already been way too much trouble.”
“It’s not a problem; it’s literally my job.” Lance replied, looking back up at him and giving him a hopeful smile. He searched his expression for any sign at all that maybe the fates were in his favour. Securing a lid over the cup, he placed it on the counter before Shiro. “Here you go, one coffee for the college buddy.”
“Well, thanks.” He replied, reaching into his blazer pocket and pulling out his wallet.
Lance raised a hand and waved him off. “Don’t worry about it. On the house.”
“Not a chance.” Shiro replied, pulling out a bill and handing it over to him. “I feel bad enough for the first one. Take it; I insist.”
Staring at the bill for a long moment, he glanced back up at Shiro before he snatched it. “Fine, let me grab you change–”
“No. No change needed. I’d say you’ve more than earned a decent tip at this point.” Shiro replied, grabbing the coffee off the counter and taking a few steps back as if to show that he wouldn’t accept any change Lance might try to give him back. “Thanks for letting me use your phone… and, you know, waking me up before I developed a reputation in this neighbourhood.”
Lance smiled, leaning back against the counter with the bill tucked between his fingers. “Sure thing. Maybe next time, try a hotel.”
Shiro chuckled, walking slowly back to the door. “Believe me, this will not be a repeated incident.” He gave a wave with a couple fingers holding the cup, stacking the two on top of each other so he could reach for the door handle.
Lance raised his hand, giving him a wave in return and about to wish him a good day before he suddenly turned and Lance’s words fell flat.
“Wait. I just realised I never asked your name.” Shiro stated.
Lance blinked, suddenly clearing his throat and standing up a little taller. “It’s- it’s Lance.”
“Lance.” Shiro repeated and he was suddenly acutely aware of the fact that his name had sounded incredibly dull until the moment this man had spoken it. “Thanks for the help, Lance.”
“Sure thing.” He replied, trying to play it cool and not act as giddy as he felt over the matter.
Shiro smiled, turning back to open the door. As he went to pass through, he spared one last look over at him. “By the way, I actually do take my coffee black. You know,” He smirked. “For next time.”
Lance’s heart leaped into his throat and he choked on whatever response he had as the bells above the door signaled his exit. He watched as Shiro made his way to the car parked out front, hopped in and passed off the coffee in hand to the driver. As he settled and reached for his seat belt, he looked back over to Lance who now looked akin to the truest epitome of shining energy. He gave a short wave and Lance could only manage to gesture a couple fingers back in his paralyzed excitement.
As the car finally drove off, Lance’s fingers curled around the money in his hand and suddenly trading off sleep for this morning shift didn’t seem like such a bad deal after all.
FIN ★ ☆ ★ Constructive critique always encouraged! You are welcome to leave a review below; no account required. I am eager to hear from each and every one of you!