Rating: safe for kids
Summary: AU. David is a barista who finds himself oddly challenged by a particularly stoic customer.
A/N: I had this idea for an AU where Hatter worked in a coffee shop (I know, crazy, right!? You know it's an AU when Hatter prefers coffee over tea), and somehow that devolved into Hatter being an awkward barista named David, whom I kind of adore.
David encountered grouchy people every single day. It was a job hazard of working in a coffee shop, and over the last eight months he had become desensitized to their grumblings, their loud phone conversations, and the way none of them laughed at his jokes. So it didn’t make sense to him why his brain would single out only one of them above the rest.
She would come in every day around 9:30, with her black hair pulled up into a high ponytail and her hands shoved into the pockets of her black jacket, ordering a nonfat latte. She had bright blue eyes and a heart-shaped face, and she never smiled.
One day, when David was in a particularly boisterous mood, he set her drink on the counter and said, "Hey, cheer up, gorgeous! It's a beautiful day."
She gave him a very odd look over the rim of her coffee, made a beeline for the door and hustled away. David watched her go, shaking his head.
It wasn't nearly as fun a game to play with any of his other customers. But every day at 9:27, when he would make her nonfat latte, he would draw a picture in the foam.
The first day he drew a leaf. Pretty simple, not that complicated. He set it on the pickup counter, with the lid sitting next to it, watching the girl reach for it out of the corner of his eye. She grabbed the cup in one hand and the lid in the other, and David smirked to himself when he saw her do a double-take into the cup.
Her mouth didn't even twitch. She just shrugged, secured the cap onto her cup and bustled out the door.
Okay, Miss Stoic, David thought. I accept your challenge.
Over the next month, David drew every foam shape he knew, and even some that he didn't. Dogs, stars, clowns, elephants, trees, suns, even a heart one day when he was feeling particularly bold and her steel blue eyes looked especially bright against the gray backdrop of an October day. Still, no matter what he drew, he was never able to get more than a little smirk, and he was determined to see that face under the influence of a full-blown grin.
"Come on," he managed to say to her on Halloween morning. He had drawn a pumpkin for her that day. "Lighten up!" he said, popping the 'p' and giving her his most charming smile.
All he got in return was a pair of raised eyebrows. "Are you the one who keeps drawing in my latte?" she asked dryly.
David nodded, trying to ignore the slight nerves bubbling in his stomach. "Soul of an artist, this one," he joked, patting his chest and looking dramatically into the middle distance.
"Hmm," she said, capping her drink and walking away. David sighed and leaned against the counter, shaking his head and staring after her.
The question of whether or not he should continue this little game, after that lovely reaction, stayed on his mind for longer than he would have liked to admit. The next day he just made an ordinary latte, capped it, and set it on the pickup counter.
He turned away to start his next drink when he heard a clear, strong voice say, “What, no drawing today?”
David’s chest lightened in an unexpected wave of relief and he grinned, turning around with a comeback already on his tongue –
Only to see the black wave of her ponytail as it disappeared out the door.
Oh well, David thought, still grinning. I’ll tell her tomorrow.
The next day, David's hair would not cooperate, so he shoved it under one of his favorite hats -- a gray fedora. The customers seemed to really like it, so he was feeling especially confident when she walked in at 9:30 that day.
"We're out of foam," he said, the instant she stepped into the shop.
She looked at him, the picture of surprise and confusion. "What?"
Oh shit, David thought, eyes widening as he realized she had no idea what he was talking about. "No! I mean, yeah, of course we have foam today. That was my comeback for you... yesterday..." he could feel the heat rise in his face and his confidence drain out onto the floor. "I mean, you asked why I didn't draw you a picture, and..." (Oh dear lord.) "...I mean, today we have foam, of course, yeah...."
David was pretty sure you could have boiled water on his face by this point. He yanked at the brim of his fedora awkwardly, shrinking down a little bit to hide behind the coffee grounds and pretending to busy himself with the espresso machine. But just when he was wishing the floor would swallow him up, right along with his too-late comeback, he heard something entirely new to him.
He looked up, and she was laughing.
It was a high-pitched, full-bodied laugh, and she brought one hand up to cover her mouth so that the sound bubbled out from the sides. Dimples, David thought. She has dimples.
"You have a nice smile." The words left his mouth before he even realized he had opened it.
She looked at him oddly, her eyes still sparkling slightly and her expression more open than he had ever seen it. "You have a nice hat," she said.
As she walked away with her coffee, David thought it was quite possible that she had walked away with his heart, as well.
Her name was Alice, he found out the next day. He told her his name was David, but she always called him Hats (which was something he secretly liked). David had thus started to wear his hats every day to work -- he decided that he liked that particular addition to his wardrobe, because not only did the customers like it, but it meant he didn't have to control his wild cowlicks every morning. Sometimes he put odd things into the ribbon around the brim, like a picture, or a feather, or a leaf he found walking to work that morning.
He made her smile every day -- until the day he went to work, and the coffee shop was no longer there.