Ari and Cameron had coffee together every day together for about a week before Ari started to open up a bit.
They sat at the same table and enjoyed the quiet for a few moments before Cameron started gently prodding Ari to speak a bit more, not insistently but patient enough that Ari felt comfortable talking.
It turned out Ari was nonbinary but used he/him pronouns. He didn’t want to be confined to things like gender when he was so much more than that as a person and Cameron could respect that. Cameron was curious about his reasoning and they once spent a whole day at their small table discussing gender and social constructs until Ari had to run realizing had an evening class he had almost been late for. It was one of Cameron’s favorite days because he’d been able to see the way Ari’s eyes grew darker and depthless as the sun stopped shining in them, and saw the way he lit up with his passion for talking about gender and societal structures.
One thing Cameron found was that Ari was brilliant.
He was working on a Ph.D. for linguistics at the private university downtown and he could speak at least three languages. He spoke Spanish, French, and admitted his Arabic was still a bit rusty.
Cameron thought the sheepish smile that graced his face was the most adorable thing he’d seen in a while.
Ari had thin, gold wire glasses that seemed almost too big for his delicate androgynous face. Lashes that were thick and long framed his forest green and there was a mole beneath his right eye. A light sprinkling of freckles and unruly ginger hair made Ari himself the most beautiful and cute person Cameron had ever spoken to.
Cameron admitted to himself the third time he caught himself staring at Ari as he sipped his coffee that he was smitten.
They spoke about almost everything in the course of the next couple of months, slowly learning about each other until they shared inside jokes and a unique blend of Ari’s dry humor and Cameron’s fondness for puns. They learned each other’s favorite pastry and that Ari was allergic to peanuts.
As the sky got darker quicker the closer they got to the winter months, their little corner of the coffee shop turned too cold. They moved to a booth at the back of the shop where they seemed to cut off from the rest of the open space.
Cameron found he liked having Ari to himself, even more, with all the small smiles and the cute way he giggled with little snorts hidden behind his hand. His favorite was the bright red blush that colored his cheeks inevitable every time afterward when Ari realized he’d snorted in front of the kind barista.
Yeah, Cameron was definitely smitten.