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"Come on, pretty thing, come on." Jon was caressing the cappuccino maker again. Mikey would have made fun of him, but machinery responded to Jon with roughly the same enthusiasm as every single last customer who came through the door of The Queen Bean. It was disheartening. Jon smacked lightly at the side of the machine and, sure enough, she poured the shot right into the cup he was holding out. He said, "Thank you, Pansy."

Frank was always naming all the machines, and Jon was always letting him get away with it by actually using the names. Then again, Mikey spoiled Frank that way, too. Frank was fucking impossible not to spoil. Jon gave the customer his drink, joked with him a little bit and turned away so that he could leave a tip, which he did, a whole dollar. Frank and Jon were always getting dollars. It made Mikey feel bad splitting the take. Mikey's customers tended toward quarters. It wasn't that Mikey was bad with customers, he just wasn't good with them. He made up for it by always being on time and the fact that he knew coffee better than anyone in the place, including Brian, it's owner. Brian liked to drink coffee, and was awesome with the business end of things, but it was Mikey who generally knew what beans to order, how best to create the blends, what sort of lineup would work best in what season.

Jon said, "Morning, Mikeyway. Are we going to have a special blend today?"

In exchange for often having really spot-on instincts about how much of what bean to order, Brian spoiled Mikey a little, let him make one custom blend per day, something that generally only true coffee aficianados would appreciate. So, really, Mikey, Brian, and possibly (although probably not) Jon and Frank, depending on the day. Mikey's blends almost never sold. It had been depressing at first, but Brian went through about four or five cups of the stuff per day, so Mikey could only feel so unloved by the world at large.

Mikey shrugged. "Brian's out of town. Really no point."

"What, my entertainment is unimportant to you? You're hurting my feelings."

Mikey scowled. It wasn't so dorky, liking coffee. It wasn't like Gerard's comic book thing, which Mikey in no way, shape or form shared, at all. At all. Jon said, "Oh, hey, no, I meant-- I like watching you make them."

Mikey blinked at Jon. Jon said, "You know, because you smell all the beans first and then you sort of talk to yourself about where they come from and the properties and all this information that I don't even know how you remember. I have a hard enough time with our menu and how to make all the drinks. And then you're all careful when you grind them, and you measure them out so neatly and perfectly and, I just," Jon shrugged. "It's like the best part of the day, watching you make your blend. I wish I had, what do they call it...a more adventurous palette."

Softly, Mikey offered, "I could make a more mild blend. You'd like it, um, probably. You could at least try, see."

Jon smiled his full smile, the one that made his eyes crinkle. "My very own blend, huh?"

Mikey laughed. "We can call it Jonny Boy."

Jon rolled his eyes, then clapped his hands together. "Well, get to."

"Fine, but you get the customer."

Jon went to the counter and chatted the girl up, made her her Berry Merry Christmaccino, and then came over and asked, "What did I miss?"

Mikey opened the canisters he had already picked out and sniffed at the first one again. Then he held it out to Jon who also took a breath. "Mm, coffee always smells so nice. That was sort of why I applied for this job. The smell from this place always made me happy."

Mikey kind of thought Jon was the sort of guy who was made happy by just about anything, but he agreed, "It's the best smell in the world."

Mikey measured the beans carefully, maybe even moreso that usual, now that he knew Jon was watching. He grinded until the consistency felt right between his fingers and then measured again, pouring the correct amount into the filter and setting the machine to drip. Mikey grabbed the customer who came in while they were waiting, and even ended up earning himself a dollar tip. He wasn't sure why, but he had a feeling he was smiling more than he normally did.

The machine clicked softly to the warm setting and Mikey poured each of them a cup. He put a dollop of cream--real cream--into Jon's and said, "There, try that."

Jon took a sip and closed his eyes. "You made the perfect cup of coffee, Mikeyway."

It was a little too mild for Mikey, not quite as layered as he normally liked, but it was nice, smooth, he would give it that. "I can give you the mixes, the measurements. It's your blend."

"Mm, but what will I give you in return?"

"You don't--" Mikey blushed. "I just--"

"Would a kiss be acceptable? It's a small token, I grant, for a brand new, all-mine coffee blend, but--"

Mikey ducked in to take the offer before it was rescinded. The girl who walked in while they were kissing tipped Mikey a whole two dollars and he watched--she filled her whole cup with the Jonny Boy blend.

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Skin by egelantier, photo by microbophile