Noticing that it was getting busier in the shop, Bernard immediately went behind the counter to help Teddy out. “I’ll prepare the coffee.”
Teddy glanced over at the man. “Are you sure you could handle it?”
“Of course.” Bernard smirked. “I’m a barista after all.”
“Alright.” Teddy went to snatch Bernard’s hiking backpack and put it in the back so that no one would take it. Once the morning crowd dispersed, Teddy breathed a sigh of relief.
“Do you usually tackle this all by yourself?” Bernard asked.
“No. My brother helps me out. He’ll be away for a week to run some errands, so I’m here alone.”
“I see. No worries. You have me now. I’ll bear half of your work.” Bernard’s cheerfulness lightened the heaviness in Teddy’s heart, and his blinding smile rivaled even the sunlight that was shining in through the windows.
“You really know your way around the coffee machines,” Teddy commented.
Bernard quickly went to whip up a cup of coffee for Teddy. “Since you made me a hot caramel macchiato earlier, I shall return the favor.” Bringing the cup over, he placed it down in front of Teddy. “Here. Have a taste.” When Teddy lifted the cup up to his mouth, Bernard warned. “Careful. It’s very hot.”
Cautiously taking a sip, Teddy darted his tongue out to lick the foam off his top lip.
“You got some…” Bernard reached over to wipe the leftover foam from Teddy’s lip and retracted his hand when the other jolted in surprise. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you. You missed a spot, so I…”
“I-It’s okay.” Teddy promptly used the back of his hand to make sure he didn’t leave any residue.
“Huh?” Teddy blinked confusedly at Bernard.
“How’s the coffee? Is it to your liking?”
“The coffee is perfect.” Teddy put down the cup and straightened up. “Since there aren’t any customers at the moment, I’ll show you around.”
“I placed your backpack over there.” Teddy pointed. “You could take it to my room and unpack.”
Bernard nodded and slung the backpack over his shoulder. Following Teddy for a short tour around the kitchen, they headed upstairs to the living quarter.
Teddy opened his closet and pushed his clothes to one side. “You could hang some of your clothes here. I’ll clear up some drawers for you tonight to put the rest of your stuff.”
“No one is watching the shop at the moment. I better go back.” Teddy turned and made his way downstairs.
“I’ll come with you.” Bernard trailed right behind him. They made their way through the kitchen and back to the shop.
“Don’t you have to unpack?”
“I could do that tonight. I don’t have much stuff anyway. I can’t let my boss overwork himself.” Bernard grinned, flashing his gorgeous dimples.
Teddy gazed at him with rounded eyes; the beautiful brown eyes that Bernard missed terribly. ‘Why is my heart beating so fast?’ Taking in a breath, Teddy grabbed a towel and wiped the counters.
“You could go shower first,” Teddy suggested as he unrolled the mat on the floor. “I’ll help you set up over here.”
“I could set it up myself,” Bernard said.
“It’s alright. It doesn’t take long. I’ll clear out some drawers for you to put your things.”
“Okay.” Bernard did a hand salute and headed out to the bathroom. Returning shortly, he walked in with a towel draped around his neck as he was drying his hair. “It’s your turn,” he chimed but immediately lowered his voice when he found the other sound asleep. Teddy was seated on the floor with his head leaning on the bed. ‘He looks so exhausted.’ Bernard crouched down in front of Teddy and gently swept the wisps of hair covering the lad’s eyes. ‘I’m sorry I came back to you so late, my love. I’m here now, and I’ll stay by your side. Everything will be okay. I promise to bring back that beautiful smile of yours.’
Bernard’s soft caress on Teddy’s face woke him from his slumber. Gradually opening his eyes, Teddy lifted his head off the mattress and tried to wake up. “You’re done with your shower?”
“Yes,” Bernard replied.
“I guess it’s my turn.” Teddy got up, covering his mouth with his hand as he yawned. “You could put your things in those two drawers. Don’t wait up for me. You could sleep first, if you’re tired.”
“Got it. Thanks!”
Teddy stumbled out of the room sleepily and nearly bumped into the doorframe. Luckily, Bernard ran over and blocked him from getting hurt. Their faces were so close, their lips almost touched. Teddy’s eyes widened in surprise and he promptly backed away. “S-Sorry,” he apologized.
“Maybe I should lead you to the bathroom,” Bernard offered.
“There’s no need. I think I’m awake now.” Teddy hurried off sheepishly.
Bernard unpacked his things and hung his clothes in the closet. Lying down on the floor, with his head resting on the pillow, he glanced around the room. ‘His room feels empty and a bit gloomy. It is lacking color and warmth. How have you been living this past year without me?’
“You’re still awake?” Teddy’s voice woke Bernard from his trance.
“I have to wake up early tomorrow morning to get the pastries ready, since my brother isn’t home. I’m going to turn in for the night,” Teddy informed and sat down on his bed.
“Wait.” Bernard used his towel to wipe Teddy’s hair. “Your hair is still wet. You’ll get a headache, if you don’t dry it.”
“You sound like my brother. He’s always nagging me like an auntie from those dramas on television.”
“Are you calling me your brother or your auntie?” Bernard chuckled as he rubbed his towel on Teddy’s hair.
“You’re nothing like my brother. He’s more reserved and less talkative.” Teddy responded with a straight face.
“I’m hoping that’s a compliment.”
“It is what you want it to be.”
“Oh, no,” Bernard blurted.
“There goes my manly image. How am I going to impress you now?”
“Since you don’t think of me as your brother, then you must see me as your auntie?”
Teddy took a couple seconds to realize what Bernard was saying. “I don’t see you as an auntie.”
“Thank goodness.” Bernard pretended to wipe the nonexistent sweat off his forehead. “I thought I had to begin dressing like a woman.”
Teddy gawked at Bernard with a dumbfounded expression. “Why? Are you a cross dresser?”
Bernard sighed in disbelief. “I was…kidding.”
“You were kidding about being my brother or being a cross dresser?”
“Aiyoh. Never mind.” Bernard furrowed his brows and proceeded to dry Teddy’s hair. ‘The old Teddy would have burst out in laughter by now. I’m going to have to work harder to make this current Teddy happy.’What Bernard didn’t know was that he had actually succeeded. There was a tiny smile on Teddy’s lips, but the towel blocked it from Bernard’s view.