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Coffee Shop AU

on Thu Dec 13, 2018 12:03 pm


It’s early morning on the east coast.


The sun breaks through the clouds to shine bright on the pavement below, where people are already hurrying to their various jobs and responsibilities for the day. One truck, already headed back from its early morning task, putters along the pothole pocked roads towards where it’ll rest for the rest of the day. Looks like it needs it, honestly; the truck has a air like it’s seen the worst of hell twice over. Dirt crusts the underside of the truck while rust picks away at exposed corners of the dark green body. What’s left of its suspension creaks as tires about worn thin roll over the heat of blacktop.

The man driving doesn’t seem to mind the old creaks and groans of the truck, only reaches out one rough hand to turn the volume up on the radio. Worn, tinny speakers pluck out old bluegrass. If there were a passenger in the other seat, they might hear the man hum in time with the songs as he passes massive buildings of stone and concrete. He’d always hated the downtown structures: too big, too monolith, too square.

‘Just ain’t right,’ he thinks to himself as he drums a steady rhythm against the steering wheel. The stoplight turns green then and he turns the truck left towards the slightly quieter corner of town he did business in. Agnes should have opened by now, there’d be the few early customers that they got just milling about the space. Most their customers came a little later, ‘bout an hour or two. He’d be done by then to help with the rush. Delivery kid didn’t come till tomorrow, so that was a non-issue. Needed to do the books tonight though, that was certainly overdue, he thinks with a grimace. He hated finances, but it was his turn, Agnes had done it last time.

He groans as he pulls into the space in front of their building, throws the shift in park, and steps out of the driver’s side door. He’d been hoping for an easy end to the day, maybe hit his bed early. Get a run in after work with Sunshine. Y’know, fun things that weren’t the budget. Thick fingers reach underneath the latch on the trunk to pop it open before he reaches in and starts piling bags of coffee beans up to grab and haul over his broad shoulders. The last and smallest white paper bag is tucked between his teeth before he makes his way to the front door where his sister is already opening the door for him to step through; the little chime he had put up when they first moved in jingles its tinny song happily.

Agnes takes the paper bag from him and he thanks her with a quiet nod of the head, working his way around tables and customers towards the back of the store. Regulars part easy enough and after a moment, he’s behind the counter and in the backroom.


The soft smack of heavy burlap wrapped bags hitting the wooden floor echoes through the warm, coffee scented space.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


The coffee shop is old, older than the two of them by far. Agnes and her brother had only been on this earth for oh, maybe something around twenty-nine long years; this building could have seen them and their parents raised and grown. But, that was what they had loved about the place when they had been looking for a building. There had been a history inherent in the bricks, a deep story embedded in the scuffed wooden floors. It had honestly felt like a little slice of the home they had left behind when the two of them had moved out of their parent’s house.

It had taken some renovations, for sure. The building hadn’t been intended as a café, so they had to get that set up. Her brother had insisted on keeping as much of the original brick and wooden floors as they could, and she hadn’t seen a reason to disagree. They’d added a dark wooden counter to house the coffee makers and some neat shelves on the wall behind in the same sort of color. They were packed now with all sort of bottles of syrups and sweeteners. Stronger somethings were nestled between for the later hours when the worn down came searching for a little extra comfort in their coffee or the work weary just wanted to wind down after a long day. Those that really knew the shop tended to point towards any of the small mason jars on the higher shelves; their regulars had all caught sight of the copper still they kept in a back corner of the café.

Their ma and pa had helped with the renovation, and the little touches they had added are evident still to this day. The low ceilings had been rough for their pa somedays, given the man’s immense height, but their ma had loved spending time on top of a ladder painting the flat white canvas with a mural of glittering stars. Done with a touch of metallic paint, they seemed to sparkle late at night in the dim lights of the store. One of the walls had been done in much the same way, the stars melting behind a dark image of an ancient forest similar to the one the twins had run through as a child.

The furniture is half handmade, half salvaged from local thrift stores. Mismatched wooden chairs all done in similar dark green upholstery seats circle hand carved tables whose undersides look like the twisting bark of an old tree trunk. A lot of their patrons have favorite seats, with some of them preferring one of the tables near an outlet, others choosing a spot near the counter to be closer to refills of their drinks, and still others choosing a spot in front of one of the windows. There was a counter there and tall bar stools made in the same vein as the table; their legs look to be made of branches and their seats had been done in that same dark green fabric. Outlet plugs for laptops had been put in along the counter, just as a kindness to those who needed to work.

A favorite and much coveted spot for their regulars though, was the small nook in a far corner of the store butted against the stairs that led to the owners’ apartment. Old armchairs lovingly restored are set up and done in similar shades of green. Throw pillows embroidered in flowers, leaves, and the night sky have been tossed onto them. A few quilted pillows were made by the twins out of a couple of their pa’s old flannel shirts during one of their earlier nights in the store. No one had been in, so they had spent the rest of that night drinking and sewing. The stitches came out uneven and the stuffing was lumpy in a few spots, but people tended to like them, so they had stayed. A thick wool rug dyed in a deep green protects the floor here. A lamp is strung between the chairs from the starry ceiling and filled with a vintage style Edison bulb. Agnes had thought they looked cool.

Agnes got her Edison bulbs, and he had gotten his plants. Plants had been tucked into most nooks and corners, hung from the ceiling, placed on tables and shelves. They were an assortment: from hard to kill ivy and ferns to much more delicate orchids and roses to functional herbs and spices near the counter of the café. His personal favorite were the tiny pines that lined the shelf above the window counter. All of them were lovingly cared for and looked after incredibly carefully. People often asked him his secrets to such healthy plants, but he had always just shrugged. He just took care of them, watered them every so often. Maybe they just liked him.

The whole space is dotted with bookshelves for patrons to take a book or leave one for others to read. Self-published authors tended to leave a sample of their work in the store so after a while, a special bookshelf had been put in just for them. They were frequent guests in the café, seeing as how it was open both early in the morning and late in the day and had fantastic wifi. The coffee was good, the atmosphere quiet, and no one minded if someone took a nap in one of the armchairs. Hell, all the regulars had seen the owners there at least once or twice snoozing while the other ran shop for a bit.


It was a cozy space, and the twins were proud of it.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Tobi emerges from the back room a little while later, just as business was beginning to pick up. Rough hands grab at his apron behind the counter and he slings it on, tying the strings behind him with a routine ease. Agnes hands him his first paper cup of his day. The order and name are written on the side in Agnes’s sharp scrawl. Sharp grey eyes scan the order, hands raise to work the espresso maker, and he easily falls backing routine with a hiss and groan of steam and foam.

Patrons line up throughout the hour, each of them ordering something from the large chalkboard menu adorned with both his and Agnes’s handwriting. He recognizes a few of the regulars and gives them a small wave or nod, asks them about their day when he slides the coffee across the counter at them. When the line hits a lull about an hour later, Agnes shoos him away to the back again to grab a bag of beans to grind. He smacks her lightly back before walking into the back. He knows their routine, knows that when he comes back out there will be a cup of something bitter as a feud and dark as a stormy sky. He can already hear the hiss and pop of the espresso machine and the familiar clink of his own mug being pulled out from underneath the counter. The happy chime of the door opening goes unnoticed by him as he walks into the back.

“One minute,” Agnes drawls as she pulls three shots from the machine and dumps them all into the mug for her brother. She finishes it off just in time for him to walk back in with one of the large bags over his shoulder. It’s set next to him before he takes the mug, swirls it, and takes a long sip. He leans against the counter and takes a moment for himself as Agnes turns back to the waiting customer: a tall and willowy girl with large round glasses and looking maybe a little flustered. Must be new here then, she certainly doesn’t look like a regular.


“Get ya somethin’?” She asks the girl.
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Re: Coffee Shop AU

on Thu Dec 13, 2018 10:26 pm
It had been a particularly rough morning for Noelle Scott.

Mostly because sleep didn’t come easy the night before, much like every night in her adult life. A combination of late night caffeine, an upcoming deadline, and dread for the new day to start had left her tossing and turning in her small bed, in her small apartment. And yet, despite her constant insomnia and a restless wink of sleep, she still woke up late. The pesky ring of her alarm reminded her of this as she shot out of bed and gathered her things, without even really opening her eyes. In a fluid motion based on pure instinct, with the skill of any professional young woman who was running late for her day- she tossed her soft cotton pajamas in her wicker hamper, changing into a smart black skirt and chiffon white blouse with a Peter Pan collar that had been hanging on the back of her desk chair, meticulously chosen the night before. She quickly ties the bowknot and drags her maroon cardigan over her shoulders. The perfect outfit for a fluff writer for the local paper, the outfit was classy and understated, which was just what she wanted. She smoothed out the wrinkles from the skirt with her fingers, stopping at an invisible spot to pick with her manicured nails.

She looked at herself in the vanity mirror above her light-wood dresser. Looking back was a thin, wispy excuse of a woman- boy-chested, pencil-straight torso and hips, giraffe neck. Even without her glasses, she saw the imperfections through the blurry shapes presented, she knew where they were. But she didn’t really have time to worry about it right now- her long, spindly fingers reached for the circular wire frame glasses that laid in a patent leather case and put them on, making details much sharper in her reflection. The splay of freckles across her long nose, the thin and colorless lips, the dark, wide eyes looking back at her. The details of the room behind her swam into view- all functional furniture purchased at IKEA throughout her collegiate career that had been taken care, all various shades of white and grey. The messed up bed with the pale blue knit blanket strewn across the pillows, the folded duvet cover at the foot of the bed. The window next to it that looked down on the quiet, yet busy downtown street of her small hometown. Only a few pictures filled the walls- ones of her and her family, more still of her and her mother. A couple framed awards and letters, all arranged in a way that made analytical and proportioned sense to the pale wall behind it. The wood floors were dotted with woven rugs and short stacks of books of all subject. Thick encyclopedias, periodicals, tabloid magazines, young adult romances, paranormal fiction, biographies, memoirs, self-published masterpieces, classics, and yet so much more. These piles littered the floor in an organized fashion, but it was obvious where the favorites were kept- a low, long bookshelf at the foot of the bed with copies of old favorites: The Secret Garden, The Jungle Book, Tuck Everlasting. These books were worn and dog-eared and yellow-paged. They were used and old editions, found in her mother’s shop after scouring the shop and back of the store with boredom as determination and pluck. They were Noelle Scott’s treasures. And boy, did she treasure them. Just as she treasured the small pot of succulents on top of the squat bookcase- all well taken care of and vivid green, giving the room a much needed splash of color.

After a quick brush of her long, mousey hair, she sat back on her bed and pulled on a pair of clean black tights, then snapping on her smart and sensible Mary Jane flats. Standing, she grabbed the deflated messenger bag at the foot of her bed that contained her laptop, pens, and other supplies, and slung it over her shoulder. In a flurry, she scooped one of the small hills of text on her floor in her arms, followed by an unassuming brown case. Without a second glance, she hurried out the door of her bedroom, past her kitchen, and out the door. She clambered down the stairs with quick and careful steps and stood right in front of the bike rack.

One day, she vowed that she would learn to drive, buy a used a car, and use that as her mode of transportation. She wouldn’t have to rely on the bus or a bike or her own two feet.

One day…

She thought about all this as she raced down the pavement on her robin’s egg blue beach bike. The handles were wide and dipped, making way for a basket that was filled to the brim with neatly stacked library books that were immaculately kept and clean, a number of moleskin journals that had tidy little tabs marking important passages and works, and, finally and most importantly, a well-worn caramel case that held her most valued item; an electric typewriter.

While Noelle did most of her work on the old laptop that was laid carefully in the messenger bag around her shoulders, the unrivaled thrill of the clickety-clack typewriter writer keys pulled her to write some of her best poetry, short stories and epics. It was a small black machine that shines with obvious care and attention. The keytops were all still glossy despite the constant use evident by the ’n’ and ‘p’ keys occasional sticking. The silver levers and buttons gleamed with pride when it escaped the case, almost as if the machine knew that it was being used with the utmost care and love for an outdated tool- It was her pride and joy. A piece of equipment that she lugged around with her since her seventh birthday when her mother uncovered it from a pastel pink box. It had seen her first story, her first college essay, her first love letter, her first poem. It had followed her from her childhood home to college to her too small apartment, her one constant companion. The passage of time could not be seen from wear and tear, but from the stickers on the underbelly- holographic smiley faces that had faded a decade prior, kittens hanging from trees that were slightly peeled at the edges, even a small Powerpuff Girls insignia from her younger sister who had gotten her hands on it. The case and its contents rarely left her sight- always tucked underneath the books and assignments for work,

Noelle pulled herself to a stop at the end of the block, waiting for her turn on the crosswalk. The soft breeze of the early morning caressed her face gently, mussing her hair out of place. A soft brrring of an incoming text rings in her ears. Carefully balancing herself with a foot on the ground, she carefully grabs her phone out of her pocket and slides her thumb across the screen as she opened a message marked Lillith.

Hey, just letting you know that H is asking about that garden piece. Did you finish it?

Shit.

Noelle spent the night working on a completely different project- a write up on a pop-up burger shop that had opened on the corner of Greenwich and Poppy. Noelle had visited the other day and done research on the owners and gathered any and all information available. This project was due at the end of the week. She neglected to finish the piece on the new community garden- the piece that was due today. To be fair, she wrote it earlier in the week but forgot to send it off to her editor. But her boss could give a flying flip about that- Mr. Hankler was a stickler for deadlines. In her four years with working for the paper, she had seen lesser men and women get chewed up and spit out for missing their due dates. She could have smacked herself for being so stupid- she was already fifteen minutes out from her own home, and her mom’s shop was another fifteen in the other direction. The nearest Starbucks was a no-go: her ex-boyfriend was a frequent customer and stopped there every day before work. Checking the time, she realized that if she found a place to stop right now, she could send off the article and still get to work on time. All she really needed was a strong wi-fi connection, a quiet place to focus, and maybe a really strong cup of tea.

When she had the right of way again, she slid her phone back into her bag and sat up on her seat, pedaling to a steady rhythm. She was entering the heart of downtown now as the familiar buildings passed; the florist, the bakery, the small grocery store she frequented, and… a coffee shop. It was an unassuming building, ancient in brick and mortar. Noelle had passed this building so many times on her commute and never really took notice of it. But she took notice now- she especially took notice to the stand-up chalkboard that promoted free wi-fi.

Noelle quickly dismounted her bike and locked it to a nearby rack. She readjusted her bag and grabbed her journals, books, and finally, the typewriter case. The bulk of everything made her seem even more wispy to any onlookers, but she didn’t really care at this point. She was a woman on a mission and she was going to send that article in before it’s deadline gosh darn it. One finally readjustment of weight and she marched into the squat building, feet climbing steps and opening the rickety door with the soft tingle of bells.

Inside, she found herself staring at the décor. The building was antique and the space was extremely warm and inviting. Richard wood tones and forest greens smoothed out any edges the quick pace of the morning, and the soft twang of banjos and guitars lulled her into an immediate sense of security. Noelle found herself scanning the room, pausing at the abundant and flourish flora that even she, with her limited knowledge on plant life, knew was offseason, the warm glow of Edison bulbs, and the bookshelves. Oh, the bookshelves. She felt her mouth practically water as she found herself scanning the spines for familiar art, colors, titles. She saw some old favorites and some new friends just waiting to be opened, waiting to be read. Fingers itched and she almost forgot the purpose of her visit to this strange new place. She spied a small nook in the far corner of the shop. Squeezed between stairs to who knows where was a comfy looking armchair and overstuffed pillow that reminded her of the crafts her mother made for her own little bookstore. And that wool rug? Noelle was sold. She took a step closer, but the smell hit her.

The bitter, rich scent of a dark roast wafted up into her nose and carried her to the counter. She had obviously skipped her morning cup of tea in her hurry to get back on schedule and, due to her late night, she found herself intoxicated with the hint of caffeine. She had time for one cup of something. She found herself up at the counter, shifting the books and journals in her arms to gaze at the menu. There is a woman behind the counter- muscular and thick, with arms that could rival pythons. A mess of curly hair rested in a mohawk, a look that Noelle admired but knew in her heart of hearts that she couldn’t pull off herself. The woman’s name tag read ‘AGNES’, an oddly gentle and archaic name for a girl that was obviously a spitfire. She opened her mouth to order but something… else took her attention.

He was tall. Broad. Thick. He held a huge bag of coffee beans over his shoulder, lifting it from the ground to pour its contents into a machine. And as he moved to his objective, his muscles rippled with him, scars stretching with him. Curly hair pushed back with a make-do green headband bushed out like a frizzy halo, revealing a dark face dotted with freckles and smile lines much too deep for his age. Sharp grey eyes that matched the woman across from her. A scruffy beard completed the rugged look as her heart stopped. Noelle found her self staring at his beefy figure, the broadness of his shoulders, the muscular back working with those arms.

“Get ya something?”

The mohawked woman passed the man a mug of something, which he looked eternally grateful for. Noelle watched as he swirled its contents and drinks, leaning against the counter, still holding the large bag of coffee beans over his shoulder. She caught his name tag: ‘TOBIAS’. But it doesn’t really register as she is quite distracted by the scruffy man. IT caught her by surprised- the few exes she had were all shorter than her and toned, the complete opposite of the man in front of her. Except for the height, the complete opposite of her. Strong. Sturdy. She was still staring at him but quickly caught herself as she stammered.

“That.”

Shit.

She flicked her eyes to the girl, and then to the menu, nodding at one of the last drinks. Something labeled ‘Tar’. Jesus, this wasn’t going to be a soft and warm taste of a nice herbal tea. Yet, her expression did not waver, despite the slight flush that stretched across her cheeks. She wasn’t backing down now, and her eyes challenged the girl across from her to point out anything different. Eyes still find their way back to him, to the scruffy, rough man that sipped his morning coffee. Lungs squeezed her breath at a quicker pace, but she ignored the tightness in her chest. Nope, no time. She had to send this stupid piece out and get to work. So, Noelle looked at the barista and said, in a quiet and gentle voice “To-go, please. Here. Keep the change. Thank you.”

And, with an odd amount of grace, she reached for her wallet in her bag with her full hands and flips out seven dollars, which flutter onto the counter. She finds herself stealing one more glance to the man before turning to the small little nook in the corner and walking over, head held high. Once she reached her destination, she carefully placed her stack of books at her feet, followed by the case, and, lastly, the leather messenger bag. Despite the breezy façade, her heart was still beating rapidly despite the distance she laid between her and the man. Choosing to ignore it, Noelle pulled out her laptop from her bag, opening it carefully, waiting for it to boot up.

Stupid.

She was suddenly hyper-aware of how her hair had been mussed by the bike ride, and hands quickly reach up to straighten it out, pulling down the frizz and straightening the part. She pulls down her bangs too, making sure that they were even despite the overdue need for a haircut. Her hands shake during this action, but the desire to pull herself together was much stronger than worrying about the nervous energy spilling out into her nerves. The laptop read with a lock screen of a black cat with large gold eyes laying sprawled across a pile of books. Noelle quickly inputs her password and connects to the internet, breathing much slower now.

Getting all flustered? Over a boy? A stranger? She was acting ridiculous.

Still.

He was really cute.
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Re: Coffee Shop AU

on Fri Dec 14, 2018 12:17 pm
Tobi reaches out with one hand to grab at the mug Agnes offers. It’s an old favorite; one of their original ones from when they had first opened the store and a gift from a supportive fan from their parent’s co-op, Lily. Lily’s mom made ceramics that she sold in the store and had gifted the two of them with a set of mugs when she had heard that the twins were planning to open their own café. There had been thirteen in that first set: twelve impeccable pieces that were still in use today, and one less than perfect addition made by Lily. Tiny children’s hands aren’t the best at turning on the wheel, and the whole thing was a bit too heavy and thick to use for the patrons, but it still found use by Tobi. He had ended up really liking the weight of the thing and the thickness of it just made it that much harder to break when he would eventually drop it.

He wonders how Lily’s doing. She was twelve maybe five years ago when she made it? She’d be seventeen now, and boy that thought alone carves the lines on his face a little deeper. The thought makes him feel ancient, years beyond twenty-nine.

He swirls the mix Agnes had poured to better blend it all together. Tar, as he had so lovingly named it, was rich, dark, and bitter in a way that worked wonders to wake him up in these early mornings after a long evening of not a whole lot of sleeping and a morning of too much lifting. A deep breath in fills his lungs with the rich aroma of the beans as he settles on the counter with the bag still draped over his solid shoulder. His mind is lost for a long moment just in this moment and in the coffee in the mug. It’s hard to explain, this familiar warmth, the achingly deep sense of peace and calm that he gets from just one good cup of coffee in this café that he and his sister founded.

Hard to explain, but he never needs to. The patrons knew. He knew they knew, saw it in the way they kept coming back, in the way that they never came through that wooden front door with a Starbucks cup in hand. (Granted, he had always glared at the few who did with a look that could wither paint.) Felt it in the way a new patron would tell him of a friend who had recommended the place. Saw it in the way some of them closed their eyes as they took that first hot sip, their hands wrapped around the curve of their mug in a move reminiscent almost of prayer. He wasn’t vain enough to consider the metaphor any farther than that, but it was nice for what it was.


Speaking of patrons now though…


His sharp grey eyes flick toward the newest one as Agnes takes her order. Those same grey eyes widen fractionally above the rim of the mug as he really gets a look at her. It was a woman, maybe a little younger than he was. Tall and slim, her figure was a dead ringer for the swaying willow trees that offered their draping shade in the summer. A black skirt, white breezy blouse, and dark red cardigan fit her firmly both in the richly shaded hues of the café and in the professional working world he knew she had to be a part of. Loaded down with what looked like, well, everything, it looked like she was either here to work for hours or on her way somewhere. Tobi put his hope in the former, but his money on the latter; their wifi tended to attract most of the professional types in the morning. They’d sit for a bit, drink a latte or some other fancy thing, and head back out. Maybe he’d see them again once or twice, but the only one that had ever stuck around was the white-haired man in the corner of the shop.


But, boy could he hope.


He hadn’t even known her more than a minute, but it’s all he can do to watch her nod at the chalkboard above the two of them with her wide, dark brown eyes. Agnes raises an eyebrow, but the woman just nods, pays, and walks away towards the little nook by the stairs. Hair all mussed, arms full of work materials, Tobi can’t help but think:


‘She’s awful cute.’


A long moment later, he blinks, and Agnes is there looking at him with a curious expression. It quickly morphs into something much slyer as Tobi realizes he’s in front of the espresso machine. He slides out of the way, setting his mug on the counter as he goes back to grinding the rest of the beans. His sister’s sharp smile follows him.

“I ain’t know what you grinnin’ ‘bout.” He mutters under his breath. The burlap sack is balled and thrown under the counter on top of some mugs; he’ll fish it out later. Agnes just hums in response.

“Nothin’ much.” Her hands reach for a mug from underneath the counter, but she pauses. Considers. “She say here or t’go?” Tobi shrugs. He hadn’t caught what she had said either, girl was too quiet. That, and he had been a tic distracted.

“Jus’ put it in a paper cup. Easy ‘nough.” Agnes nods and starts another one of her brother’s favorites for her brother’s new favorite, it seems. Her own keen eyes track the girl across the store setting up her little space. All the clutter she had brought in has been carefully set to the side in favor of a laptop, and she sits in the one chair Tobi sleeps in some afternoons. Coming in here all wide eyed and freckle faced, ordering one of the darkest coffees they brew, and sitting in Tobi’s favorite spot? Grey eyes glance sideways at the man who in turn is stealing little glances at the girl.


Boy never stood a chance.


She finishes the drink, slaps a lid on top, and slides it towards her brother who looks at it with a bit of confusion. Normally this would be where either of their voices, usually Agnes’s, would echo through the coffee shop to let the customer know that their order was ready. They didn’t exactly make a habit of table service. His eyes flick between Agnes and the drink until she finally explains, the ghost of a knowing smile pulling at the corners of her lips.


“She ain’t give a name.” She says before turning back and beginning to wipe down the espresso machine. “Go get ‘em, boy.” She finishes with a soft laugh.


Tobi could kill her. He really could, ain’t like it takes two to run this business, he thinks as his large hands wrap around the paper cup. All he’d have to do was swear off sleep entirely, which this being a coffee shop, might work? Could hide her body… somewhere. He ain’t sure about the details yet, but he’s got the walk between here and the stairs to figure it out.

She’s still there, typing away at her computer with an intense focus that just makes his heart flip flop in his chest. He’s never been more thankful for the soft glow of Agnes’s Edision lights as they throw a soft glow on the light curve of her cheeks and the easy smattering of freckles there as she works. Wide brown eyes the same color as the beans he had carried in this morning, long brown hair falling in a delicate curtain over her shoulder as she leans forward to better type. Still cute, he thinks.

He lets his boots hit the wooden floor a little heavier as he comes nearer, doesn’t want to startle her. One quick look back at Agnes at the counter. She shoots him a thumbs up before going back to making another coffee for a regular in line. Footsteps take him the rest of the way and he stops in front of the armchair he’s most familiar with.


“Coffee.” He says as rough hands hold the cup out towards her. “Y’ain’t give a name.” He shuts up then, just holds the dark grey coffee cup in front of himself. He doesn’t trust himself not to stutter or say something stupid.

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Re: Coffee Shop AU

on Fri Dec 14, 2018 9:36 pm
Fingers flew across the keyboard as she was granted access into her desktop. In mere seconds she had opened her document, scanned for any small typographical mistakes, opened her internet browser, and was writing up an email to her editor. She was going to make it work, she was determined and undeterred by the handsome stranger she had encountered. Handsome, and scruffy, she forcefully reminded herself. Noelle had bigger things she needed to focus on. Granted, it was a soul-crushing career as a column writer for the local paper, but still.

It’s not like she wanted to go into journalism- but, after college, it was the first and only job she could use her degree on. What Noelle really wanted to do was write children’s books. Stories of fantasy and whimsy were her specialty; she wanted to write books that took others to places that they needn’t worry about the mundane. And that was still what she wanted to do and drove her to write the stupid, frivolous stories about baby bunnies or wholesome local eateries. And the four long years spent working at the Daily wasn’t completely unbearable. She had made friends- Lillith, another avid bookworm and columnist. And Annette, a photographer with a flair for the dramatic. Noelle wouldn’t consider them super close or anything, but they were friendly enough and greeted her. Stopped by during breaks. Occasionally invited her out for happy hours at local haunts.

She leaned forward, pursing her lips at the screen, her glasses sliding to the end of her nose. Eyes comb through the email she just wrote up, checking for mistakes slowly and diligently. The space between her brow creases as she sinks further forward, as her concentration intensifies. Fingers hover over keys, itching to find and fix, but no fixing is needed to be done. Noelle quickly clicked over to the document, scanning it one more time. Once she is satisfied, she saves and drags the document over to the email. Relief washed over her as she checked the time; Noelle had a couple minutes to spare. A couple minutes to sip her thick as sin coffee and possibly read a couple pages of one of the library books on the floor that she needed to return.

She is just about to hit send when she heard the sound of heavy boots hitting the wooden floor. She assumed it was the woman that took her order earlier, so Noelle refrains to looking up. While waiting for the attachment to upload, she opens a couple emails. Some promotional, some personal. It looked like Annette was throwing some sort of awards show party. Everyone was allowed one guest, and the theme was… A night under the stars? A snort almost reaches her nose; Nettie was such a hopeless romantic. No doubt she would bring her latest fling, dressed in a matching suit and tie. And Lillith would definitely dress up with her longtime boyfriend and be clutching onto him all night. Ha. Even if Noelle wanted to go, the theme was so utterly ridiculous. She would much rather have a glass of white wine and use that award show for background noise as she wrote something much more interesting.

Her thoughts came to a halt when she heard the voice.

Low and rumbly and deep, with a thick accent, her eyes flick up to meet the gaze of its owner. Her heartbeat quickened once again as she saw it was the man from behind the counter. Except, now, her view was unobstructed. As if there was any doubt, his legs were just as muscular  as his arms, and the apron was snug around his middle. But the voice! It was almost hypnotic. It was at a bass level with a sweet-as-pie twang that shook her to her bones.

For once, her brain stopped working before her mouth did. Just as her eyes trailed from her computer screen, she sounded a soft “Hm?” before making eye contact. And when she did, her doe-like eyes widen fractionally, her mouth opening into a soft, round position.“Oh. Oh! Oh my gosh, I am so sorry.”

She blinked, suddenly aware of her slouch. In a moment, she sits back up, pushing her glasses up with three fingers, careful to avoid the lenses. The tightness in her neck and shoulders returned as she did so, the pain that accompianied the nights spent bent over her typewriter and the days working diligently at her desk. But still, eyes meet, and for a moment, it doesn’t matter. “I’m so sorry. It’s been a rough morning- I woke up late and realized that I..”

She trailed off, closing her mouth suddenly. Why would this man care about what she went through? He was here to drop off her coffee, nothing else. Doing his job. Nothing more. She couldn't get her hope up as she stared into those sharp grey eyes, examining the broadness of his shoulders, the freckles splayed on his cheeks and neck. And watching his hair move with him as his body stills from his walk over.

Focus.

“Thank you. For bringing it over.”

Silence. She reached over for the coffee, and for a moment, she holds her breath and her heart almost breaks from from her ribs.

Because her delicate fingertips brushed against his for a moment as the coffee was transferred. And even though it was less than a second, her brain fizzled and sparked as it memorized the kinesthetic feeling of his hands. How her dainty hands rubbed against rough finger tips, how she skimmed passed a callous probably made from years and years of hard work. How his deeply tanned skin was in stark contrast to her own milky white. Something inside her ignited, made her feel like her soul and heart and mind had been set ablaze as well and she somehow felt stronger than ever before.

But.

The warm paper cup was in her hands, only her hands. And just as fast, the feeling faded into oblivion and only the pale memory could be drawn upon. Every once of confidence leaves her except for the smallest trace of a smile on her lips. It’s soft and subtle; most people would not recognize it as a smile, but it was there. She brought the cup to her lips, the scent of the thick, dark roast hitting her senses, waking her up quicker than any cup of tea ever would. She sips, and considers.

It was rough.

She couldn’t deny that this not only scorched her mouth, but burned her senses from here to there. Yet, she was so grateful for the amount of caffeine that would hit her system soon, wake her up and help her get through this day. And while the taste was bitter and the texture was thick, the only thing that showed was the incremental scrunch of her nose and freckles. After her long sip, she carefully balanced the cup between her knees. And then, she rembered the sentence that he said.

Noelle almost smacked herself for the second time that day as she quickly added “It’s Noelle. Thank you, again. Really. And Sorry. Again.”

Her gaze steadies and focuses on him, letting the silence build again for a moment. While she knew how awkward her silence could be, the quiet that was shared between then was comfortable. Almost expected. And somehow, unexplicably, her heart slowed as the warm light of the lamp illuminated the space around them. The sound of the early morning in the coffeeshop faded into white noise as she shared a simple moment of silence with the man across from her.

Without knowing, she has settled back in the dark green arm chair, her hair sticking to the fabric ever so slightly. She could get used to this space, this small unknown coffee shop. She began to wonder if anyone from the Daily knew about it. I mean, they had to? It was only a block or two from the office. But why hadn’t she seen any dark grey cups on the desks of her co-workers? Was this rustic and recycled space really just a buried gem?

She was going to have to ask to do a write-up.

Maybe she would be able to interview the baristas.

Maybe over dinner.

This thought process didn’t cross her face, which still read with that barely-there smile and the softness in her eyes. The fanning out in her hair. The slight part of her lips. Noelle Scott was stuck in a moment that would soon be pulled away. But she was so, so happy to live in it for just a little bit longer. Until the very last second, where she would race out of the shop and fly with her bike down the street.
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Re: Coffee Shop AU

on Tue Dec 18, 2018 10:46 am
Tobi blinks as her own eyes track something on the screen, soft black and white text reflected in the lenses of her glasses. An email maybe, some sort of writing? Writer would make sense, she certainly seems the type: professional, precise, put together, and on some sort of tight schedule. Plus, that large case next to her looks about the same size and shape of the typewriter their ma used to keep around the house. None of them had ever used it, so it had sat for years as a stanch sentinel and occasional fun noise until they had finally up and donated it to some thrift store.

She makes a little hum of acknowledgement as his heavy boots still in front of her on the scuffed wooden floors, right before the thick wool rug. Her eyes meet his after a pause and he can feel his traitorous heart thud-skip at the sight of those deep brown eyes focused on him and the apologetic look on her face. She sits straight backed with a little wince and he wonders how many nights she had spent in that same slouch. Seems at least one too many, if the pained expression was anything to go by. ‘Workin' herself right inta a chiropractic office,’ he thinks.


His shoulder twinges then, and he reminds himself that he’s got no place to judge.


“I’m so sorry. It’s been a rough morning- I woke up late and realized that I-“


And she stops there, closing her mouth suddenly. He watches the uncertainty in her eyes, that little bit of doubt as she looks towards him holding her black as sin coffee. He doesn’t know how to fix her morning, and doubts that any sort of coffee could make her day more palatable from here on out. His weight shifts from one foot to the other as she reaches out for the cup and he holds it out to her, trying to meet her halfway. She thanks him, but he can’t think of anything to say, doesn’t want to give his stuttering drumbeat under his ribs away that easy. He knows any words will come out half swallowed and clunky in their delivery.

Her hair falls forward as she leans, pale, slender fingers reach out to just past the cup. Stars like the ones on the ceiling pop and fizzle across his mind because in that small moment, he can feel their hands brush. Small dainty fingertips brush his own dark and weathered skin coated in work callouses and sharp scars. Soft trails of skin on skin are memorized, committed over and over in vivid color and feeling, in fluttering pulse and the sharp, soft intake of breath. There’s not a time he can recall ever getting this worked up over… anyone, really. The last few relationships he’d had, he’d never been this nervous even talking to the person. But there’s something there, something almost electric in the space between her fingers and his skin that leaves him shaken to his core and a little untethered. The music above them switches to a different soft guitar as the warm cup switches ownership and he’s left with nothing to do with his hands.

Fingers fidget briefly before he folds his arms in front of him. The mass of them covers the logo on his green canvas apron. Hidden in the folds behind his elbows, his hands still pick at his fingernails.

She takes a sip of the coffee before speaking again, offering her name and apologies and really, he only needs one of those. ‘Noel, huh?’ he thinks, rolling the name around in his head. ‘Like Christmas,’ is his stupider, follow up thought. Really, it’s a lovely name. Soft, with easy syllables, it rolls off his tongue in that low drawl.

“Well, Noel.” He pulls the name out slow, committing it to memory. His head nods in a promise to himself. “I’ll ‘member it.”  Heartbeats slow in this space, his space, as he continues to stand in the warm lamplight and the dark shades they had chosen to decorate with. Noel’s got herself all settled in his armchair, her hair fanned out behind her and a little smile on her face, aimed towards him. She's relaxed, looks like she's just enjoying the space the two of them created. Her smile is just a tiny tug at the corner of her lips, but he can’t help but answer in the same.

The corners of his lips inch upwards in a way that pulls his smile lines into focus. They soften out any edges he might have had, any hardness to his expression in favor of something so much easier. He realizes then that while he’s never minded silence, he found that he could get used to this. One morning and he’s already hoping she comes back. Hope’s a funny feeling, one that flutters warm in his chest and reaches his grey eyes. He can see the line behind him though, feels Agnes’s eyes on him and he knows that he has to get back to the counter soon. But boy, if he doesn’t want to stay.


“I gotta, head back.” His head jerks towards the accumulating line. “Y’all let me know if y’need anythin’ else.” He nods at her before turning back, the small smile still on his face.


Back at the counter, he settles into that familiar rhythm that they’ve developed over the past five years and moving in a tandem. His hands may be a little clumsier, but they pull levers and grab cups just as well as they ever have. Agnes slides knowing smiles his way in between shouts of names and handing of cups. His dark red blush answers well enough and the glare that he sends her way the first chance he catches her eyes says the rest: to goddamn drop it. She laughs as she hands the next dark grey cup off with one of the pastries Jake had delivered that morning; something sweet, iced, and full of cherry something. Jake claimed to love them, had tried his best to get Tobi to try one in every morning despite his insistance he didn't like sweets. Still doesn't.

'But,' he thinks as his eyes flick towards the girl in the corner just briefly as he reaches towards the shelf behind him for the bottle of caramel sauce they kept there.


'Maybe I coul' get used to somethin' a little more sweet.'





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Re: Coffee Shop AU

on Thu Dec 20, 2018 1:44 pm
She nearly lost it when he said her name.

The way that the barista had drawled her name almost made her shiver, and he really seems to savor it as it slowly rolled off his tongue. Her hands tighten around the paper cup, to soak up the warmth and to stop her nervous hands from shaking. She felt a lightness in her stomach and chest that pulled them straighter than they had been in a while. Noelle had always been a nervous sort and anxiety-riddled the majority of her life. And while she had become acutely aware of how that agitated little demon could run with her thoughts, this fluttery and weightless nervousness was different. She felt light-headed but not cloudy, untethered but not disassociated. It was liberating in a way- she had never really felt like this before. She felt her smile grow fractionally, staring into those sharp grey eyes.

And then he smiled.

It was small, but that is what made it so much better. A subtle uptick of his lips and suddenly, everything was softer. His eyes, his face, his stance. He seemed relaxed with… something shining his eyes. Noelle’s overactive brain began to trail through the possibilities; amusement, maybe condescending, at ease, maybe even…

But.

He makes a comment that he has to leave. And to let him know if she needed anything. And he turned and walked away, and all the energy left her body. Sure, she had to watch him as he walked away. How his muscles rippled underneath his t-shirt, how his hair bounced slightly as he made his way back behind the counter. She sunk into the chair, looking up at the star painted ceiling. She knew it was silly, but she couldn’t help but feel disappointed. Logically, she knew that this man had to get to work, Tobias, from what his name tag read. That she wasn’t the only customer, that he had gone out of his way to delivery her coffee. But he left, and while there was a promise to tell him if she needed anything, there was no exchange of numbers, no real words of wanting to see each other again. Maybe everything she had felt had been one-sided. Maybe she only thought she saw that glimmer in his eye.

She sipped her coffee again, trying to imitate the warmth that she felt earlier. She felt as the thick drink flooded her system, making her toes curl and her heartbeat quicken. But she knew it was artificial and not the same high she had only moments earlier. It was a shame, she thought as she looked back down at her lap.

Her eyes found the clock on the bottom right corner of her laptop screen and her eyes widen. She had to go now. In the same flurry of movement from earlier that day she gathers her things; the laptop goes into her bag, the typewriter case is scooped into her arms,  and the small pile of library books finishes the look of a harried writer on their way to work. She gives one last glance at the man behind the counter, hoping to offer a small smile, a promise that maybe, on a less stressful day, she would be back. Hopefully. And without any other flourish, she hurried out the door, the soft tingling of bells filling the air.

But.

Just at the last second, a thin hardback poetry book falls from the top of her massive pile of stuff in her arms. It slips from the stack and lands title up on the ground with a soft smack, a tag on the spine identifying it as a library book. The cover was simple- a royal purple background with faded gold lettering that read Romantic Poems of the 19th Century. There is a pale green knitted bookmark that is worn and frayed at the tail. It lays on the hardwood floor, forgotten at the moment by the frantic owner.
--
“Oh my God, shut up!”

Noelle stared at her computer screen, her eyes burning from reading the same article for the past four hours. Her small cubicle was cuboidal and grey with high walls that were not nearly as tall as it’s inhabitant. Her dark red cardigan was neatly laid across the back of the black office chair, which faced the monitor of the black desktop computer. Besides the cardigan, the only source of color was the framed pictures of Noelle with her younger sister and mother, and one with her father completing the family unit. There was a dry-erase calendar on one wall that laid out deadlines, birthdays, library returns and other important moments in the woman’s life. There were two corkboards hanging on the opposite walls- one with angular placements of articles and copies of other forms of research. The other had more pictures of her family, of the small used bookstore that her mother owned, to pictures of a small black cat laying in piles of books and asleep in pockets on sunshine. The pile of stuff that had weighed her down in the coffee shop was stacked neatly at the far corner of her desk.

Sitting on her L shaped desk was a girl just a tad shorter than the one staring at the computer. With mocha colored skin, long raven hair, and luscious curves, she was the gorgeous opposite of Noelle. She wore high waisted black slacks and a brightly patterned teal shirt. Her hair was pulled half back and revealing high cheekbones, a jawline that could cut stone, and piercing almost-black eyes that flickered with Spitfire, all of which enhanced by fashionable but bold makeup. Her thick lips are drawn to a sly smile and brightly manicured fingers patter on the top of the desk. Noelle had just relayed her morning adventure to the small coffee shop to the other woman, who was immediately vicariously living through the sparse interaction.

“So, you’re going back tomorrow, right? Like, you’d be dumb not to.”

“I don’t know, Annette.” Noelle lifted her glasses and rubbed the space between her eyes, a habit that she developed. After arriving to work, she had decided that the barista was just an interesting dot on her life, but not a lasting one. She had decided that, yes, it was a small glimmer of light on her frantic morning, but it wouldn’t lead to anything. He probably didn’t even like her. She had forced him to deliver her coffee like Noelle was some kind of elitist diva that needed to be waited on by hand and foot. So it wouldn’t lead to anything. It was easier to compartmentalize her life that way.

“Well, I think he sounds hunky. And rugged. And it would be good for you! I mean, you haven’t really gone out with anyone since Evan, and that was, like, a year ago.”
“Hey. What did I say about talking about him?”

Evan Richardson had been Noelle’s ex-boyfriend, has been with him for a year and a half. He worked at a local accounting firm and was charming, blonde, and, at first, very sweet. He took her to extravagant dinners, the ballet, and, once, a vacation home on the beach. It had all been perfect until, about eight months in, he began to show patterns of possessiveness and anger management issues. The littlest thing like a canceled dinner or even hanging out with her few friends would set her off. Noelle drew the line when he grabbed her one night, having stepped out on him and breaking up. But it was all still tender for her and she refused to talk about it.

Still, Annette pursed her lips, leaning against the thin wall. “Well. Excuse me for wanting you to live your best life. With a rough around the edges mountain man.”

Noelle snorted a laugh and turned her attention back to the computer, highlighting a passage and copying it for later. “Listen, I’m not saying I wasn’t attracted to him-“

“Ha! Told you-”

“OR,” Noelle interrupted Annette’s gloating “That we didn’t have a moment. But… Listen, even if he wanted to pursue it or I wanted to, I don’t know if I can. I have carved out this life and it works and I just don’t know if I could devote time to someone else, you know?”

“I have no idea what you are talking about.”

Annette was a serial dater. The number of girls and boys that she held to her hide changed by the week sometimes but they all had something in common. They were gorgeous, free-spirited, and interesting. But still, she would get bored and dump them. Her longest stint was 3 months and most of that time was spent on a Caribbean Cruise. She always had time for something on the side. But it wasn’t really a lifestyle that interested Noelle.

Annette opened her mouth to speak again, but someone else entered the small space. She was average height but looked small next to the darker woman. She was also pale and with shoulder-length chestnut hair that had a slight wave. There was a braid framing her cute, heart-shaped face, which was young and fresh. Her skin was dewy and free of makeup, and honestly, she didn’t need anything. While Annette was bold with her style, this girl was completely organic and down to earth. She wore a thick brown sweater and a dark pair of jeans with cute ankle booties. Her upturned eyes were a sparkly hazel that shined with her ever-present smile.

“Hey, guys. What’s going on?”

Even her voice was breezy and carefree. Noelle secretly envied Lilith’s ability to stay calm in the face of anything. Annette turned to her and flashed her own charming grin “Oh, you know. Noelle met a man.”

Noelle rolled her eyes “I stopped into a coffee shop on the way into work. There was a barista. We shared 4 sentences. It was nothing.”

Lilith laughed softly and turned her gaze to Noelle, eyes laughing with her “Well. You didn’t speak more than four words to me until a year after knowing each other. You should go for it, Noe.”

“Drop it,” Noelle warned, sitting back in her seat, finally turning to them. She loved these two, as distant as she could be, but she really was starting to feel uncomfortable. Because, at the moment, she was convinced that the barista had a girlfriend or a fiancée or maybe just didn’t like… her.

“Okay… By the way, do you still have that book of poetry? I wanted to copy a passage for a quote. I’m writing something about a 65-year marriage.”

Noelle’s eyes brightened, excited to be changing the subject. She turns and rolls to the other end of her desk at the stack of library books that would be returned later that day. But then she frowned. She pawed through them, lifting, looking under each and everything. She looks under her desk and then turns to the two girls that filled her space. Annette’s lips curl into a satisfied smile.

“Well. It looks like you are going to see your hunky barista tonight.”
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Re: Coffee Shop AU

on Tue Dec 25, 2018 10:07 pm
It was a couple minutes later that Tobi noticed the book.


Well, he didn’t notice it, someone else had and brought it up to the counter saying they had noticed a girl drop it as she had left. He takes it after a moment to worry his hands between the soft sides of a towel; he doesn’t want to get any sort of caramel of other coffee junk on the books cover or pages. If this really was hers, he wants to return it in just the same condition as he left it. Rough hands hold the purple hardback in them for a moment, just inspecting the title and the elegant gold lettering.

“Romantic poems a’ tha’ nineteeth century, huh?” he murmurs to himself. The worn strands of a knitted bookmark hang out the side of the book, the rest of the thing concealed neatly between the pages. He slips a finger underneath the cover to nudge it open, before his sister’s voice interrupts.

“Quit moonin’ an’ get o’er here.” She shoots him an annoyed look. Her hands move skillfully over the machines: pouring, blending, mixing all sorts of different drinks. Sweet to bitter, smooth to Tobi’s rougher favorites, the drinks come together with only a few sure motions from the woman. Tobi blushes, dark red spreading like something spilled over his cheeks before stuffing the book underneath the counter, grabbing the cup nearest him, and starting work on the order.

A regular, his order was always pretty easy. Refill anyway, just a simple macchiato with enough espresso packed inside to kill a lesser man. Tobi takes the ceramic mug, makes the drink, and hands it back to the pale hand waiting across the counter with a gruff ‘McKay’.

Thin fingers wrap around the handle of the mug. Tobi’s own pale grey eyes raise to meet the man’s blue, still too bright for his age. Loosely styled platinum white hair bobs as he nods in polite courtesy to the barista, though when their eyes catch again, there’s a knowing look behind the silver rimmed frames of the man’s glasses.

There’s always been something about the older man that keeps Tobi quiet instead of telling him to shove off like he would his sister, but there’s nothing in him that stops from rolling his eyes before returning to his work. He can hear McKay turn with a quietly amused huff, though it had taken Tobi a long while to learn what the man’s amusement sounded like. Had a face that could melt stone, that one. The two of them hadn’t gotten a read on whether he even liked the coffee or not until he had left a twenty in the tip jar at the end of his first visit. McKay had come back soon after with a leather satchel full of books, binders, and a laptop and had made a habit of the coffee shop soon after.

All his stuff was stacked in his corner today, a lot like the load the girl -Noel, he corrects himself- had brought in. Cute the way she looked all prepared for anything, cute the way she got so engrossed in her work, he thinks as he reaches for another mug. The little hardback book shifts to the side as he grabs one of the mugs underneath it.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


A little while later during a slow period, he pulls the book out again. Freshly washed and dried fingers pull the cover open and gently flip through the pages. A few pages in, he settles on a passage and reaches for his reading glasses that he keeps… somewhere. Soft thumps echo in the quiet space of the café as his hand searches the shelves behind the bar for those warm, gold rimmed frames he knows are up here. He had them yesterday, they should be nearby.

There. He finally feels them pushed all the way to the back of the cabinets, smushed behind some of the taller glass bottles full of coffee syrups. Thank god. Those were expensive. A sharp motion flips them open, and a moment more he has them secure on the bridge of his nose. A soft creak escapes the wooden counter as he leans against it and buries himself in the small hardcover and words of love and loss, soft adorations and soaring declarations of that sweetest feeling.

Agnes startles him when she comes in next, shooing him away for his break.

“Go. Start dinner.” She says as she throws her apron back on and ties the strings behind her. She must have left for her break and he hadn’t even noticed. A sigh escapes him, and he sets the book back down underneath the counter but not before sliding a torn napkin between the pages where he had stopped. He had been careful not to disturb the little knitted bookmark or her place in the book.


“It’s under there.” He warns Agnes as he slides off his own apron. Her elbows slide forward on the espresso machine she’s leaning on as her eyes roll at him.


“I ain’t gonna trash it, calm y’self.” She smiles, something soft but highly entertained. “Now git. ‘M gettin’ hungry.”


“Calm y’tits, I’m goin’, I’m goin.” He mutters even as he walks the short distance to the stairs in the corner of the shop. Loud creaks call across the space as he ascends, and is soon out of sight.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


When he comes down next, he’s holding two plates loaded down with food: two bowls filled to the brim with a hearty stew made with whatever they had left in the refrigerator and the potatoes in the cabinet, torn chunks of bread from the crunchy loaf Jake had brought for them a few days ago, and some fruit he had sliced and thrown against the side of the bowls on their plates. One of them had to make sure they didn’t get scurvy, and it sure as hell wasn’t gonna be Agnes.

His sister sets a small ‘on break’ sign on the counter, pulls of her apron, and pours two glasses of water before coming over to join him at one of the smaller tables.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


The sun is setting when he returns to the counter. Agnes takes the empty plates back upstairs to clean both them and the kitchen while he mans the counter. It’s the slow period between their dinner and the evening rush and the few customers they have loitering in store all seem taken care of.

‘What the hell,’ he thinks with a roll of his broad shoulders. He makes himself something a little easier to swallow, some sort of spicy tea thing he had googled a while ago, settles in against the counter once more, and pulls the book back out from where he had left it. His little paper napkin turned bookmark is still there, along with the little knitted one, it’s tassel hanging loose out the side and over the pages. It swings cheerfully as he opens the cover again to where he had left off.

The gold rimmed glasses find their way back to the bridge of his nose and fall further down the longer he reads. They’re thin frames, filled with rectangular lenses; he had gotten them a while back after one of his past partners had noticed him squinting at the menu the few times they had gone out. Agnes had then nagged him about it until he had caved and bought a nice pair secondhand. Still been too expensive though, he thinks.

He stays like that for a good while. With the shop low on customers, he’s uninterrupted, free to skim over dainty passages and swirling, flowery language in the dim light of the shop. His neck remains bowed over the book, the curve of it fading out into strong shoulders and sturdy arms, his weathered hands wrapped carefully around the faded purple of the small hardcover. Curly hair sweeps low on the nape of his neck, forced back by the wide, green headband. Occasionally he reaches for his mug.

One passage though, he gets stuck on, reading it over and over, bouncing the cadence around in his mind. He’s loving the way the words flow and sound as he rolls them around. Absently, he hums them low under his breath, just to hear how they would sound out loud, tasting them as he tries them out. His fingers still around the mug as he tries to commit the passage to memory, or at least the name of it to look up later.

He’s there at the counter muttering quiet words under his breath, one hand stilled around the circumference of a warm ceramic mug with its contents slowly seeping savory spices into the still air, gold rimmed glasses slung low on his nose, when the soft tinkling of a bell announces the arrival of a new customer. They remain unnoticed though as he reads in the warm, diffused light of the shop. Above, twangy guitar fills the space, and the light flickers off the metallic paint of the stars speckled across the ceiling in a similar pattern to the freckles set in a swathe against Tobi’s cheeks. If one were close enough, they might hear easy words uttered in that low drawl.


“… y’little heart, where bashful flow’rs blow, an blushin’ birds g’down t’drink, an’ shadows tremble so?”


Rough fingers tap a beat to the words against the sides of the ceramic, the noise just a small little thud, barely noticeable. Cars pass by outside just as unnoticed as the new patron comes to stand at the counter.
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Re: Coffee Shop AU

on Wed Dec 26, 2018 1:01 am
She was definitely a night owl.

Truly, she didn’t sleep much anyways, but something about the quiet evenings, the yellowing streetlamps casting a soft glow on the pavement, her shadow casting ghostly, inky impressions against the brick buildings. The sun had begun to set a while ago, leaving a brilliant orange and pink sky, Noelle silhouetted against it in stark contrast. In a while, the sky would be scattered with the few constellations Noelle could point out from the downtown lights. It made her wistful for the days when her father had taken her out to some clearing miles out from the small town and pointed out planets, stars, and satellites. He spoke of ancient epics, stories of old, of heroes and monsters and gods. It was before the divorce before life became messy and tangled with itself. He always promised to take her back, the starlight glimmering in his eyes. But, years past. And more years after that. And she found herself, strangely, lingering on this moment frozen in her memory and the emptiness that followed.

But her heart fluttered after a moment. A reminder of her mission.

Her direction was clear- after work (with much prompting from Annette and, eventually, Lilith), she stopped at the library and returned her books, renewing one specifically. She wasted time in that old, brownstone building, pushing off the inevitable that was making her gut twist in an oddly pleasant and thrilling way. She had made sure to greet each of the librarians, asking them about their day, their families, the new arrivals. She had helped sort shelves for a little while, and she even found herself wandering the aisles marked with folklore and fairytales, as she often did. Hell, she had spent hours sitting in that aisle, wedged between two anthologies, ever since she was old enough to read. Or sitting in the back corner, by a window that looked out at a community garden that had grown from a few vines from her childhood to bushes and even a thick lemon tree that grew with fervor each year, providing food for anyone who happened by. Or even sitting in the children’s section, on top an arboreal structure, looking down at the families that pass by in the later hours of the evening. In that spot, one she had claimed for herself through carving her initials at age six on an etched out branch on the wall, pale light poured through a faux stained glass window, always hitting the letters and pages just right. But tonight wasn’t a night that she could afford that. Research showed that her ultimate destination was only opened so late, and she was wasting time as it was.

Of course, that didn’t stop her from checking out a couple more books. Some intense looking encyclopedias of psychology, worn and dusty with age, neglected really. The spines had sighed when she placed them in her basket, perhaps excited to be used again. Next were novels- all fiction and fantasy save one with a book jacket of brazen red and gold, proclaiming it the ‘Most Thrilling Story of Our Time!’. Noelle saw the tagline and huffed, deciding off-handedly that she would be the judge of that. And, of course, more books of poetry. She didn’t know what it was, but lately, she had found herself stuck in the 1800s, reading whatever she could get her hands on. Poe, Keats, Whitman, Browning, Dickenson; they filled her mind with flowing language that stopped and started with ease. To her mother’s recommendation, she read a poem each night before going to bed. And while she was not always faithful to that due to her ability to fall asleep in the middle of some composition, she found that rolling those words around in her head gave her comfort that she desperately needed these days.

Once her stop at the library had been completed, she secured her items in her basket and shouldered her messenger bag, making her wince slightly. Work had been hard, doubled with a night with poor sleep and a long history of bad posture and desk work, Noelle was desperate for a massage. Or even just her sister stepping on her back- scratch that. With Joy’s attitude lately, it was not the best idea to allow her to possibly paralyze her sister. Noelle laughed at the thought as she flipped her kickstand and started pedaling to her next destination. She passed her mother’s bookstore- closed for the evening, the windows dark but still filled with stacks and stacks of books and magazines from era’s past. Then the bakery that she, truthfully, had never tried but had received rave reviews from her mother and sister. Smaller shops still pass by, a few low rise apartments and office buildings peppered in. On the other side of the street, she whizzed by a park with ancient trees from centuries ago, marking the spot historical and relevant still. And as Noelle inched closer to that small coffee shop, she found her heart thundering against her chest, her head filling with air, making everything seem ethereal and light. She wanted to stop herself from acting so foolishly, to turn off that part of herself, reminding herself that this was an exchange, nothing else.

But her body didn’t listen.

She felt as if she had stepped out of herself altogether when she parked herself outside. Hands shake as they fiddle with the bicycle lock, the excess energy from her anxious core releasing in the most frustrating ways. Finally, once she finishes, she stands up, straightening out her hair, her clothes, her multitude of items in her arms. She carries the messenger bag, the typewriter, and the new library books, careful not to lose any in the few steps in. Then, one foot after the other, she climbs up the steps and crosses the threshold.

The soft tinkling of bells alerts her to the familiar yet different surroundings. The evening really did change the space- the soft, amber lights bounced off of ceiling, making stars that laid dormant early in the morning sparkle and shine in a way that makes Noelle stop and stare for just a moment. The space was even cozier than she remembered- dark, rich colors that somehow slowed her heartbeat into something more comforting. She longed to sit in that armchair she found that morning- perhaps she could find herself over there before the night ends…

Her eyes met the purple book and was slightly surprised to see that is was being held by someone. She blinked, her eyes adjusting to the reader and… oh.

It was the barista from the morning. Now wearing glasses and the work of the day sinking subtly into his shoulders. His eyes track the page, his hands drumming on a steaming mug full of something that smelled intoxicating from her spot, feet away. It made her mouth water, her shoulders untense, and it was suddenly something she could almost taste on her tongue. Perhaps a tea wasn’t out of the question at this point- she was curious to hear this man’s thought on the words and stanzas that filled her own mind with such imagery. She was curious. So curious, in fact, that she stepped towards him on quiet feet. Once she reached the counter, opposite of him, she leaned forward against the top, the soft smile from hours earlier playing on her lips.

She listens.

Dickenson. Figures- judging on the décor, art, and aesthetic of the café, the man was a sucker for nature. And Dickenson’s language lent itself to beautiful imagery of babbling brooks and plentiful bushes of flowering fruit. Her eyes flick to the pile of books and nonsense that laid in her arms, another small hardback book, emerald green. Maybe her dallying at the library would pay off for something… She watched as his fingers thrum against his mug, tapping out a beat that she understands, that she appreciates. Her head tilts as she speaks in a soft, but not too quiet voice “Thank you. For taking care of my book.”

And.

After a moment.

“I love Dickenson. And that poem in particular. It’s just so… filled. With longing.”

The sentences, though simple, are directed towards him, her wide brown eyes softening as she waits for a response. A slight flush reaches her cheeks, tinging them with a soft pink that glows brighter in the low light. But her smile doesn’t falter, nor her eyes. They are fixed on their subject with the same intensity that she placed on her work, only tinged with a soft fondness. She found herself hoping, praying, wishing that she had done enough right in the world to be graced with a small, meaningful conversation with the man. Noelle craved something more than the quick exchange of words found in the morning, finding that the wear and tear of the day, along with the sudden appreciation of the way that he had cared for her book enough that he actually cracked it open to read making her inherent shyness disappear. If only for a moment.
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Re: Coffee Shop AU

on Fri Jan 18, 2019 12:42 am
The voice startles him. To be totally honest, he had forgotten for a moment that he was still leaned against the dark wooden counter of the coffee bar and wearing the dark green apron with his shop’s logo on it. He had forgotten that he was still on the clock and still on the hook for serving patrons, sparse as they may be this time of night. Most that came in this late were either students looking to work on papers due that night, authors working through a slump, or regulars ordering one of Agnes’s late night mixes. They’d take their mug of coffee and a little extra somethin’ slipped inside and slink away to some dark spot, letting the drink and the space melt the stresses and worries of the day from their frame.

Tobi slowly looks up from the pages of the book, careful to keep his thumb dipped in the pages to keep his spot. It’s s good thing too, as the customer that stands… “Well, leans,” he thinks. ...Leans in front of him is the same woman that threw his easy work rhythm off that morning.


And boy, she’s sure throwing it off again now.


Any response he had prepared dies on his lips as he faces her fully. She’s there, Noelle’s there in front of him and leaning on the counter in front of him. A soft smile tilts the corners of her lips just slightly as she looks over at him and the book. Not for the first time, he thanks the lighting of this shop as it throws its soft glow on her pale features and arms full of books. She's there in soft detail in front of him and looking like she belongs in the rich dark wood around her. If there were ever a customer he wants to stay, well.

It takes him a little beat to notice that she’s spoken. Something about a DIckenson? He’s pretty sure that’s a writer, enough of the the authors that have passed through have tried to talk to him about her. Was this poem hers? His hand tilts the book up so that he can see the printed name of the author at the top of the passage. Sure enough, it’s her.

“Huh. Di’n’t realize it were her.” he hums in the quiet space between them. “You’d think I’d know by now which were which.” Thin wire frames fall down the bridge of his nose as he speaks; he pulls them off and tucks them a little past his hairline. They smoosh down some hair not caught by the headband, the light glinting off of them every now and again.

“What with all the books n’all.” THe hand not holding the book comes up to motion towards the walls of bookcases around them. It settles back on the small purple hardback in his hands, hsi thumb now slipped from out between the pages. “Got caught on the, what’a’ya call it…? The cadence a’ the thing. The feelins a’it. Longin’ I guess is the right word.” Strong shoulders roll as he shrugs. It had been a while since he had gone to visit his parent’s house, he misses his own little slice of what Dickenson had been writing about. His own massive oaks and elms, the easy chittering calls of the birds above, the small streams that ran through the property. How in the fall the leaves would burst into fiery color and burn slow until there would be nothing left save bare branches?

“Yeah, I guess longin’s right.”

There’s a short pause as he lets the conversation lapse. One finger runs along the length of the hardcover’s spine before he realizes that oh, she’s waiting for him to return the book. It’s turned over once in his hand before he holds it out to her and her stack of similar books.


“Promise I di’n’t spill nothin’on it.”


He wishes he knew what to say beyond that, wishes he knew a little more about Dickenson and poetry to comment further than just saying that he liked the words. He wishes he could get a little less lost in the soft curve of her smile and the something warm that he thinks he sees in her eyes. He’d like to talk a little more, get ot know her past her name and her lost book, but all that he can come up in the moment is his standby, his fallback, the one thing that he does know a little bit about.

“Get you a coffee? On me, to celebrate the safe return of y’ book.” And then, in a fit of courage spurred by hope and a little bit of faith, “Could maybe tell me a bit more about some of the poems, ‘bout Dickenson.” Hell, he’d let her talk about anything if it got her to stay a little longer. Could talk about finances or paint dryin’ or grass growin and he’d be there, hanging on to every word. Would refill her glass plenty times over with whatever she wanted and lawd, he thinks. Lawd, Agnes was right.

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Re: Coffee Shop AU

on Fri Jan 18, 2019 11:03 pm
Her eyes only soften as he begins to speak. It was something about the slow lull of the drawl and the simple cadence of his words that filled her heart like a well and made it overflow with warmth and light. It was comforting after a frazzled morning and an equally frazzled afternoon. And while she felt heavy thumping in her chest. She found it hard to focus on the words, instead of letting the sounds fill her mind with images of a roaring campfire and blinking fireflies with the twinkling stars as a backdrop. She usually could focus on anything if she put her mind to it but he was making it really hard.

Her eyes drop from his as he adjusts his glasses, moving down to his hands. Scarred and calloused, marred with a life she assumed carried hard labor and deep memories. They were deeply tanned and square shaped, the perfect contrast of her own slender fingers and moon-pale skin. And yet, holding that small hardback looked as natural as her own. He still spoke with that drawl, talking about the poem that she had correctly assumed he was reading, how he was caught on the nostalgic pull of the natural world. It didn’t take a detective to see that the blueprint, the essence of this very building had been designed by someone who loved the rich environment of some secluded spot in the world. A world with those rich, overflowing rivers that Dickinson had so lovingly described. Thick fingers drift over the spine that is gently faded from years of use. For a second, they flick over the library label. Her eyes drift back up to his. And he reaches forward, book in hand.

Almost like a peace offering.

“Promise I di’n’t spill nothin’on it.”

Her smile grows incrementally, turning into something even warmer than the yellowing lights that framed her angular features. In truth, she renewed the book earlier that evening with the intent of taking it home and re-rereading it herself. Just sitting, all cozied up in her bed with a warm drink, the pale light of her desk lamp? Perfect. And totally, utterly appropriate and needed after a hurried day.

But.

Seeing this man clearly enjoying some flowery poetry? This burly, mountain of a man was enjoying the soft words of a woman long dead, her words ringing off the page. He had taken great care to make sure that the small book was returned in the same condition that it left. And Noelle didn’t want to see that end just yet- she hoped that he saw something in the words that she did every time she read anything. Something intangible, something important.

So, she didn’t reach for the book. Instead, she placed her stack of books on the counter, followed by the gentle placement of the typewriter case next to them. And, in one solid but graceful motion born from years of settling from place to place, she shrugged off her messenger bag and placed it at her feet. She slides into a stool, subconsciously crossing her legs, her gaze fixed on him. Her smile is still there, but less so. Yet, the warmth doesn’t leave her dark brown eyes. It stays there, sweet as the sticky buns that sit in the display next to them. Noelle takes a moment to study his grey eyes as he offers coffee, debating whether or not to take him up on the offer. On one hand, she did want to go home and spend some time reading some of her all-time favorites, and spend even more time on the newest chapter that she had begun only a couple nights before. And her excursion to get her book back had already taken so much time, way more time than she planned. On the other hand? He was so cute. And unassuming. And she wanted to know something about him. And this was the perfect opportunity for that. Plus, Annette would murder her dead if she found out that she had passed up this chance to talk to her “hunky barista”. Those words almost made her laugh.

Almost.

Instead, Noelle opened her mouth, place one hand on her chin, her shoulders slumping as she leaned over again “Coffee sounds nice. Talking sounds nice….”

God, she was bad at this. She really was out of practice. She took the couple moments of standstill conversation to refocus on keeping it going.

“I mean. I love how words can make people feel. And not by dictating that emotion. And, in that poem, you were reading? I feel like Dickinson captured that perfectly… She doesn’t need to tell us what she is feeling, what she is directly asking her subject. But you just… feel it. And I find that-“

Noelle’s quiet voice grows stronger as she speaks, louder and more confident, but breaks off for a moment as a soft strand of hair unloops from her ear and into her face. She falters before pushing it back behind, her nimble fingers brushing the wire of her own glasses. It’s not visible in the warm light, but she blushes. But after the hair is placed back, she focuses back on him “Fascinating. I find it fascinating… It’s one of the reasons I go back to poetry so often. It almost… opens my mind. Makes me see things… differently.

Her lips part in a silent word as she searches for her question to give him a slice of the conversation. Her thin lips curve and reveal teeth that are like the rest of her- thin and narrow, straight lines. A warm breath passes between them, a soft sigh of fondness for the words and longing. She hopes that one day, maybe at this very café, someone would speak of her writing the way that she spoke of the words that let her soar without wings, that gave her a voice. Gave her something that made sense of the mad world that often surrounded her. She wondered…

“I mean, that’s how I see it. But… what do you think?”
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Re: Coffee Shop AU

on Sat Jan 19, 2019 12:35 am

“Talking do sound nice.” he hums in agreement.


His expression shifts only minutely, just a quiet tic of the lips, a barely there deepening of the smile lines around his eyes, a soft flaring warmth to his features that seems to echo the dark wood and cozy corners of the coffee shop. He’s hardly just an occupant of the store; he and his sister are the heart and soul of the place. Stars like freckles across the ceiling, weathered wood from years of hard use under their feet, this building beats with nearly the same blood as those who threw theirs into the restoration. Tobi’s always loved this building. He’s always thought it perfect, arranged just the way he likes it. Every plant, every plank of wood, every chair and rug and pillow added and arranged until everything had felt just right.


Well. Until now.


He had never known there had been a piece missing. An absence had gone unnoticed for years under his watchful eyes, and he had never realized until now that, well. Pale grey eyes watch the woman in front of him as she talks, her lips moving as she lays out her thoughts on the poem that he had been reading. It’s a topic she feels strongly about, he thinks as her voice gains in confidence and volume, though he really should have figured. She was some sort of writer after all, judging by the books and typewriter and laptop from this morning. He knew the type well enough from just his years here, could spot one a mile away. And this woman, Noelle? Words were her blood just the same way that coffee was his.

His smile grows as he dips his head towards the machines at the bar. One calloused hand reaches below the bar to pull a mug, one that he thinks she might like. He had gotten them in a set from a local ceramics artist, each of the pieces unique and different. This one is a dark green with the imprint of a leaf pressed into the clay. A shallow impression that he can pick out just by touch. It pulls a small smile from him, the… what’s the word... the relevance of the thing to the conversation. It’s a cute mug too. Either way, he hopes she appreciates the choice. He pulls it out, sets it down on the counter, and begins her drink as she talks.


Still listening, of course. How could he not, with her explaining her thoughts so openly, so quietly passionate?


That being said though, he hadn’t asked her what she wanted. Like heck was he going to interrupt her though, so he decides on the last drink he had made: the spicy tea brew in the heavy mug next to him. Maybe she was the type to drink tea? Or at the very least, not hate it. Worst case scenario, he would just make it over. With that last thought, he sets to work.

It’s awful easy to get lost in the work and the familiar motions that come with it, but it’s only one drink with the added bonus of a very pretty girl in front of him. So only a few minutes later, he puts the finishing touches on the hot, spicy tea drink and sets it gently in front of her. The decent sized cup is full to nearly the rim of a savory, spicy mix of steamed milk and tea, more similar to a latte than anything else. It’s not too heavy, not too sweet, and just the right sort of thing to pull the ache from your bones after a hard day of work. Tobi should know.

In the top of the foam, though, he’s drawn the easy shape of a leaf. Drawing in latte foam had been something he had taught himself early through youtube tutorials and in slow hours, and it was a skill that most patrons found at least amusing. Here though, with Noelle? He hopes its impressive or at least charming. Charming would be nice. It’s been so long since he’s been anything to anyone, he’s feeling a little bit rusty. Latte art’s about all he can think to do right now.


“I think I agree,” he starts, letting a small pause fill the gap between where he ended and she began. “Bout the whole lettin’ y’feel things. It’s the point a most poetry, t’pull a feelin’ from ya, ain’t it?”


His arms fold in easily as he leans on the wide bar in front of him and her, thick arms crossing to tuck his hands in the folds behind his elbows. “I mean, I ain’t been where she been, obviously.” Shoulders dip as he closes his eyes and shrugs. “But it ain’t like I never been t’ that place, y’know?” Eyes open again, something in them faraway and fond. “She’s bringin’ me t’my parent’s house, t’where me an Agnes grew up. She’s givin’ me starry nights and dark forests lit only by th’moon an a whole mess a’ lightnin’ bugs. She’s givin’ me back the feelin’s a memories I ain’t dug up in a long while.” He scratches the back of his head. “If tha’ makes any sense.”

He can hear a creak of stair in the distance, one pair of feet then another answering trot behind them. Guess Agnes brought Sunshine down to close tonight. Tobi moves to the side as Agnes comes behind the bar for the rags they uses to wipe down tables. One hand reaches down to rubs behind the massive dog’s ears before folding back to where they were. Agnes leaves to start closing, Sunshine settles in front of the bar, and Tobi continues on.

“The poem brings out the feelin’, an’ the feelin’ brings back the memory, an’ the memory brings the emotion. That, or I’m jus’ missin’ home as of late.” He laughs, just a small huff of air. “Could be either, or it could just be I like how the words sound. One’a them options.”

He hopes it doesn't sound dumb. He hopes he at least sounds like someone who's read a book and taken a few classes at the local community college. Granted, they were business classes, but still. College is college when it comes to trying to talk to pretty girls.

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Re: Coffee Shop AU

on Sat Jan 19, 2019 3:34 pm
Noelle nearly glows when he places the drink in her space.

The cup is a deep, polished green and was obviously hand made. Noelle found that in the quality and glaze that the artist’s personality was present and living in this mug. And the color and patterns were completely on brand for the little café. She found herself picking up the mug in both of her hands, almost cradling it graciously. Her hands swept over the leaf pattern, and she smiled at the theme that the night was bringing, that maybe this man across from her was seeing it too. That this just might be more than small chit chat between customer and barista. She smiled and listen to him as he spoke, but not before breathing in the spicy smell of the warm, comforting drink. It was oh so good, reminding her of nights curled up by the ancient space heater in the cramped confines of the ancient bookshop her mother owned. A warm cup of tea that was passed mother to daughter and a small black cat curled up on her lap, the lightweight grounding her to the overstuffed armchair. How she was lost in phrases and words and paragraphs of adventures and quests. How her mother would laugh ever so quietly as she went to the door and flipped the sign revealing the spot open. It’d been a while, she realized. Time wasn’t infinite anymore and while she tried to see her family at least on the weekends, she hadn’t really seen the shop recently. Or her cat. That pulled at her heart like no other.

Longing.

She heard it in his voice too. The way he was talking about his sister, his parent, the night sky and wooded green? The tugging in her chest was mirrored by the look in his eyes- that far away and fond gaze that almost looked past her. But she didn’t mind. She understood. The fondness that he had for his sister, those woods, his family…. She knew she felt that same strong love for her own small family, her books, her cat, the small space only blocks away that they had created for themselves. While he thought of the scent of pine and wood, she felt a tickle of old paper and ink fill her nose. Noelle sighed and listened, being drawn into that world that he was describing, the limited things he was telling her giving so much clarity to the physical man in front of her.

It was odd, but she felt like she was somehow closer to him than just a relationship that was forged that morning over a quick cup and a lost book. And even more odd, she found herself craving something more than just small talk. No, not craving… She felt like they almost deserved more than small talk. Whether it was all this talk of longing or the fact that he had taken care to make sure that the small purple hardback, she felt a genuine connection that was much older in her feelings than in time. It was odd and something she had never felt with anyone else. It was more than attraction (although she did feel that, she chided herself with a slight blush), it was almost meeting an old friend that she hadn’t met. Noelle took another second to study him again. His dark green apron and shirt that fit his sturdy frame and strong arms, his frizzy curls that were pushed back double, the clear grey eyes that offset the warm, rich tones that were not only on his person but surrounding him. It almost felt like she was writing a story for the paper, and she was about to find something big. The hair on the back of her neck tingled, a sort of anxious but excited energy coarsed through her veins. The book, the words, the mug? It was fitting together in her mind in such a lovely way.

She was about to sip the strange but familiar drink. But her eyes flip down at the foam. And at the design. Her head tilts questioningly as it jiggled from the movement. But then, a soft contented noise between a hum and a sigh escapes her. Her light smile returns yet again as she carefully places the cup down and stares at the delicate leaf that moved in the cup ever so slightly with the soft “click” of the mug against the counter. She bit her lip and looked back at him

“Sorry, but you did that? It’s so….”

She couldn’t find the words. Cool? Fun? Unique? Perfect? This little leaf, simple in composition floated daintly in the tea- even if it was created from little effort, it was still an effort. Especially after what should have been a long day, he took some time to leave a personal mark on a drink that he already had given her free of charge. Her eyes flicked back to his, finally landing on something to stop the lapse in the conversation. “It’s so cute… Thank you…”

Another gap. Her face contorted for a second as she reached for the cup again, but her fingers stopped. A soft gasp of laughter escapes and she shakes her head, the loop of hair becoming undone. Quickly, her fingers reach up to fix it “Honestly, I almost don’t want to drink it now. Not because it doesn’t look delicious, but because… you know…”

You did that.

The words were unsaid, but could be gathered from the way she trailed off the way she met his eyes again. Even without a drink, warmth blossomed in her stomach and unfurled to each limb. And her shoulders relaxed, her head tilting again. She was at peace, in smooth stillness.

That was, until the twin sister and the dog came down the stairs.

Noelle liked to tell people that she wasn’t afraid of most things. But there was something about dogs, especially big ones, that always took her off her guard. Perhaps it was the slobbery, drooling Bloodhound that her father’s friend always had around. Or maybe it was the fact that when she was young, about five years old, a monster of a dog snapped from it’s chain and bit her arm so hard that it drew blood. Or maybe it was even just the fact that she felt an affinity towards cats rather than dogs. Whatever it was, even the gentle and fluffy creature that trotted down behind the counter made her jump a little, her eyes widen. Her legs stiffened and tightened as the dog made it’s way closer to her, the effort making her squeeze up tightly. Tobias scratched its ears and seemed not to worry, but still. Noelle wasn;t going to take any chances.

But she also knew how ridiculous she looked, so she straightened up and spoke in turn “I think that’s what’s beautiful about poetry. It can be all those things- the words bring out the feelings and so on and so forth, and you missing home, and you just liking the words. But it could be none of those things too for someone else.”

She pauses, finally unable to resist the scent of the drink. She lifts it gently to her lips and takes a sip, her face brightening even more. It was DELCIOUS. The flavor tapped on her tongue, and warmed her throat in a way that was utterly needed after a long day of sitting in a draft office. And the steamed milk gave it a creamy consistence that made it so easy to just wash over her, while also giving into her nostalgia of her father or mother bringing her warm milk during some late night storms. She went in for another sip, the froth sticking to the top of her lip, but she is caught up in the taste not to notice the faint white mustache. She found her new order when she was back.

When. She realized. No longer an if, but a when.

“But your home sounds lovely… Where are you from?”

Very gently, she places the cup down on the counter again, very excited to listen. The milk still clung to her lip, but she didn’t pay attention to that. Her focus was honed in on the man in front of her. And how her heart beat quickened as those steely greys met her dark browns.
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Re: Coffee Shop AU

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