[ISSUE I] Coeur De Café by Nowa

manip by Nowa

Hannibal was in a hurry. It was Monday morning, it was pouring rain and he was cold, so all he wanted was some strong, hot coffee to warm his hands and hopefully feel more awake after the caffeine spike. As he entered the coffee shop he spotted the new barista immediately.

That was just his luck. Antony already knew exactly how Hannibal preferred his coffee, but he seemed absent. Hannibal was in desperate need of a coffee though, so he went to the counter and ordered his usual Americano, extra strong, no sugar, no cream. And pronto, per favore!

The barista, his name was Will according to his nameplate, asked for Hannibal’s name. What for, Hannibal couldn’t say, for he was the only customer present. But Will was new, so Hannibal took pity on him. After what felt like an eternity, Will put his ‘coffee to go’ on the counter and smiled. Hannibal smiled back, but then he noticed that Will had misspelled his name and scowled. “My name is Hannibal,” he informed the barista, “not Hanibel.” Will apologized and smiled again, albeit reluctantly. Hannibal didn’t care as long as he got his coffee, so he turned to leave.

But as he greedily took his first sip, he nearly spit it out. “What the-?” Hannibal grumbled. “I ordered a coffee; black, no sugar, no cream. Are you trying to poison me?” Will blushed slightly. “No, sir. I didn’t poison you. I wouldn’t do that to the 𝑐𝑜𝑓𝑓𝑒𝑒.”

Hannibal was impressed by this young man. Will was rude, no question, but there was also something fascinating about him. “I took the liberty of adding some honey to your coffee, and a dash of milk.” “Why?” “It’s cold and wet outside. The honey can prevent a cold.” Hannibal was baffled. He felt irritated, but then he thanked Will and left the shop.

All day long his mind drifted to this new barista. Hannibal was loath to admit it, but the coffee didn’t taste awful, after he got used to it. And his slight sore throat had also gotten better. That’s why he walked into the coffee shop the next morning and couldn’t hide his grin as he spotted Will behind the counter. “Good morning,” Will greeted him with a smile. “What would you like to order?” Hannibal wanted nothing more than his usual Americano.

But then he changed his mind. “Since you seem to know best what’s good for me,” Hannibal said with a flirtatious undertone, “I want you to surprise me.” Will immediately went to work. The smell of freshly brewed coffee went straight to Hannibal’s nose and he nearly moaned.

Will poured the coffee into a cup, then turned around and tilted the coffee, as he slowly started pouring frothed milk. While pouring, he tried to swing his hand with quick movements, but instead of creating some latte art, he spilled the coffee. Embarrassed, he turned away.

Hannibal tried to tell him that it doesn’t matter, but Will didn’t listen. Soon after he put a ‘coffee to go’ on the counter and assured Hannibal that it was a normal Americano, without further additives. Hannibal nearly felt disappointed, but then he saw the name Will had scribbled on the paper cup and grinned. His name was, once again, misspelled: Hennibell.

When Hannibal entered the coffee shop the next morning, Will wasn’t there. Hannibal felt a flash of panic, but then he spotted Will’s unruly mob of hair in the far corner and he exhaled, relieved. “I practiced,” Will told him, when he came towards Hannibal and beamed. He went to work and poured a coffee, then started pouring frothed milk.

Hannibal watched with bated breath. He didn’t want Will to fail this time. And Will didn’t. What a remarkable boy, Hannibal thought. And then all thoughts left him, because Will handed him a perfectly brewed coffee with a heart of milk foam on top. “I know you prefer your coffee black,” Will said shyly. Hannibal laughed, a genuine laugh, when he took the cup from Will and their fingers brushed.

“I’m starting to rethink my coffee priorities and preferences,” Hannibal told him. “But I’m sorry, Will. Although I’d like to go out on a date with you, I can’t.” Will looked crestfallen. Hannibal hid his amusement. “First, I need to make sure you know how to spell my name.”

You can find Nowa on Twitter @wish_addict.

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