“I got the job!” Sera squealed, taking a flying leap over the arm of the couch to land in Angela’s lap.
“That’s wonderful, my darling,” Angela said, chuckling as she wrapped her in a firm embrace. “What are we killing this time?”
“Ange, you know we haven’t gotten a real gig in ages,” she kissed Angela on the nose.
Angela tilted her head in confusion. “If we aren’t killing anything, then what sort of work is it?”
“I’m going to be a barista.”
“Barista? I have never heard of this. What type of armor does it require?”
“No armor? Are you at least going to carry a weapon?”
“Angela no. This is a straight job.”
“A straight job? My love, you are anything but straight…” Angela bent to plant kisses on Sera’s neck, as her hands crept under the hem of Sera’s blouse, seeking her warm skin.
“I just mean a regular job, with no kill—” Sera yelped as Angela’s fingers finally made contact. “Your hands are cold!” She pulled Angela’s roaming hands out from under her shirt, rubbing them between her palms. “There. Warm. You may continue.”
Angela did not need to be told twice, quickly divesting Sera of her shirt. “My darling, you look good enough to eat.”
“If you take me back to the bedroom I might just let you.”
Angela stood, hoisting a giggling Sera over her shoulder, determined to get her just desserts.
Sera awoke the next morning, naked and pinned to the bed by Angela, who was snoring heavily. The alarm clock on their nightstand read 8:40. Twenty minutes until she was supposed to be at her new job.
“Oh, fuck,” Sera groaned. “Angela, baby, wake up, you’re crushing me.” Sera tried to lift Angela’s surprisingly heavy limbs off of her, but to no avail.
Angela just grumbled and wrapped her arms tighter around Sera’s body.
“Angela Odinsdottir if you do not get off of me this instant I will turn you into a toad!”
Angela extricated herself rather quickly after hearing that. She sat back on the bed, yawning and rubbing her eyes against the sun that was filtering through the curtains. “Can you even do that?”
“I don’t know. But it got you to move, didn’t it?” Sera jumped out of bed and began rifling through her drawers for clothes. “I’m going to be late on my very first day. Ange will you go grab me the shirt and apron on the kitchen table?” She’d pulled on panties and a bra and was currently tripping over herself trying to get into a pair of black jeans.
“Yes, of course, my dear.” When she returned she asked, “So where is this place we are going? What is this place?”
“Yes. We. I just got you back from the depths of Hel. I’m not letting you out of my sight.”
Sera sighed. “Ok, you can come, but you have to be on your best behavior.”
Angela scoffed, looking insulted.
“That means human clothes. And NO ARMOR,” Sera said, wriggling into her t-shirt. “And discrete weapons, Angela. Discrete . No axes whatsoever.”
“I mean it. And please, please, keep your ribbons under wraps.”
“Sera, you know they like to be free.”
“Yes well humans don’t have psychic ribbons, so hide them under your coat or you can stay home.”
“Now get dressed.” Sera threw a t-shirt and jeans at her. “We have less than fifteen minutes.”
“Remember what I told you: good behavior. No weapons, no ribbons, and this is a coffee shop, not a mead hall, so keep your feet off the table.”
“I promise,” Angela said, trying not to smirk. “Scout’s honor.”
“Oh, gods,” Sera sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. “Who taught you to say that?”
“No one. I saw it on a television show. Are the Girl’s Scouts not an honorable band of warriors, as I have been led to believe?”
“Um… sure, very honorable.” Sera smoothed out her apron, tugging on the hem of her t-shirt. “Do I look ok?”
“You’re breathtaking, my love.”
Sera eyed her skeptically. “Ok, well, I’m late already.” She grabbed Angela by her human-made, unarmored, but still suitably intimidating leather jacket. “Remember what I said: sit down in the corner, order a beverage, read your book, and be good .”
While Angela desired to say, there is no bad and no good, only balance , she just said, “Of course, my love.”
“Now just wait here a couple minutes before you come in, ok?” Sera took a deep breath, opening the entrance door to the coffee shop and stepping inside.
Angela watched Sera through the glass for a few moments, as she ran around behind the counter, following her apparent boss’s orders. She was just so beautiful, so soft but so solid at the same time. Angela could see the wiry muscle in her arms even from here. The sight of her took Angela’s breath away. She’d lost her once, and conquered all of Hel to get her back— and she’d do it again, a thousand times over.
Sitting in a coffee shop all day? This would be pathetically simple. All she had to do was “be good” and act like a human for a few hours. Pieces of cake— no, that wasn’t right. Sera had corrected her about that saying before. (“But why would anyone want just one piece of cake, Sera?” ) Piece of cake.
She checked her reflection quickly in the glass of the storefront, smoothing back her unruly curls, making sure her knives were properly concealed and her ribbons were still well-hidden under her jacket.
Everything seeming in order, she entered, and approached the counter, standing stiffly and clearing her throat, ready to recite the order she’d practiced with Sera before they left the apartment.
“What can I get for you today?” Sera asked, praying that the transaction would go fairly smoothly. For someone as obsessed with exchange and balance and deal-making as Angela, she thought exchanging money for goods and services would come easy. No such luck.
“Good day, my lady—”
“I will have one… grande,” she looked at Sera for approval, who nodded, “latte...”
“Oh, and two chocolate croissants.” Angela nodded, pleased with herself.
“That’ll be $12.97.”
Angela just stood gazing at Sera lovingly.
“Dollars.” Sera cleared her throat. “ Ma’am .”
“Oh, yes, of course.” Angela made a show of pulling a twenty dollar bill out of the pocket of her jeans and presenting it to Sera. “In exchange for the nourishment, and the pleasure of your presence.”
Sera frowned, taking the twenty and putting it in the till. She gave Angela her change, and when Angela just looked confused and opened her mouth as if to speak, Sera curled Angela’s fingers around the money.
“Why don’t you go sit down and I’ll bring your coffee and pastries out to you when they’re ready.” She looked Angela in the eye, nodding and pushing her hand, still curled tightly around her change, away.
“Of course,” Angela said, with a dip of her head, if ever so slight. She turned and found a spot in the back corner of the room.
Sera pinched the bridge of her nose and took a deep breath.
“What’s with the Amazon?” Her new manager asked her.
“I honestly don’t know.” Sera shook her head.
“She’s… interesting, and, uh, tall.”
She was tall. Gods was she ever. Larger than life. She may as well have been wearing armor for the amount of space she took up, even in just a leather jacket and jeans. Sera looked over at her as she sat, leg stuck way out into the aisle (and god dammit she was wearing armored boots and not the ones she’d told her to put on earlier), doing a quite a terrible job at pretending to read her book, and couldn’t help but smile.
Angela. Her Angela, who’d rescued her first from the temple of the Anchorites, and then from Hel itself, and who was now ready to protect her from the perils of a Brooklyn coffee shop.
Sera made Angela her latte, and brought it and her pastries over to her. She looked down at Angela, who just smirked at her.
“Laying it on a little thick back there, don’t you think?”
“I was merely granting you the proper respect.”
“Angela you miladied me in front of my new boss, who I think has a crush on you now.”
Angela glanced back toward the counter before looking into Sera’s eyes. “My darling, you are the only one I could ever love.”
“I know, baby. I will never doubt that.” Sera longed to reach out and touch Angela, but instead she just sighed. “Look, you did really good for a first try, but when we get home we’re going to talk about everything that went wrong up there.”
“What are you talking about? I was perfect.”
“You were. You are. My perfect Angela,” Sera said, chuckling softly. “But right now I need you to be a little less perfect and a little more human.”
“Of course, my love.”
“Just sit tight and read your book. I’ll be back to check on you in a bit.” Sera took a couple of steps toward the counter before turning back and saying, “And don’t get into trouble.”
“I promise I won’t.” Angela batted her eyelashes. “I’ll be an angel the whole time.”
Sera shook her head as she walked back up to the front. She didn’t doubt that was true, which left her mildly concerned to say the least.
Everything was fine for a couple of hours. Sera made drink orders and rang people up. Angela switched back and forth between pretending to read her book and staring at Sera like a lovesick puppy, but when anyone, especially a man, interacted with Sera, Angela’s face would go stony, her body would stiffen like a coiled spring.
It was a recipe for disaster.
The first time Angela intervened on Sera’s behalf was relatively minor and was played off as an accident. She tripped a man as he was getting up from his table to walk back up to the counter. Luckily no one besides Sera saw, and the man himself believed he’d just tripped over his own shoes.
As soon as she could Sera went back to Angela’s table, practically fuming. “What the hell, Ange?”
“These humans are awfully clumsy.”
“I saw you trip him with your ribbons. You promised you’d keep them put up.”
“I didn’t like the way he was looking at you.”
“Angela, you can’t just go after every single man who ogles me.”
“I can and I will.”
“You’d never have a moment’s rest.”
“Then so be it. “
“Ok, let’s take a step back here and just focus on making it to the end of my shift. You sit here. DO NOT move. Read your book. NO RIBBONS.”
And everything was fine again. Until some asshole had to come in and get aggressive with Sera because he claimed she overcharged him. He had to yell at her. He had to slam his fist on the counter. He had to raise his hand in the air.
And then he had to be pinned against the front window with a large dagger at his throat.
Sera slowly approached Angela, laying a hand on her shoulder. “Angela, babe, put him down. We need to leave, RIGHT NOW.” She cast a quick glance around to the rest of the coffee shop. “Everyone is staring.”
“He raised his voice to you! He was going to strike you! He must pay for his disrespect!” Angela pushed the man harder against the window, causing him to whimper.
“Angela.” She dug her fingers into Angela’s shoulder as she spoke. “Put. Him. Down. Now .”
She released him immediately, sheathing her dagger and letting the man drop to the floor, coughing and sputtering. “Sera, I—”
“Save it for when we are the fuck out of here, baby. Everything’s going to be fine.” She touched Angela’s cheek, and then turned to address the humans in the coffee shop. “Hey, folks. So sorry about that little interruption. But don’t worry you won’t remember a thing!”
Sera cast a quick spell that would erase Sera and Angela from everyone’s memory (being a witch definitely had its perks), and they ran. So much for that job.
Sera entered their apartment, unceremoniously dropping her things on the kitchen table. She plopped herself on the couch next to a pouting Angela, leaning into her.
“What’s wrong, my sweet Strawberry Tallcake?”
“I’m sorry I’m not better at being a human.” Angela pulled Sera into her lap.
Sera took Angela's face in her hands. “You are perfect, just the way you are. And I never ever want you to change.” She kissed her softly. “But we have to learn how to blend in while we’re here.”
“I know, my darling. I am trying to understand these humans, but they are so silly.”
“They are. It’s just something that’s going to take time.”
Angela frowned. “You still need a job though, and I ruined your last one.”
Sera grinned. “Well, I may have solved our little employment problem.”
“Pray tell me how, my love.”
“I got us both jobs at a lesbian bar!” Sera exclaimed. “On a probationary basis, for now, but I’ll be tending bar and you’ll be a bouncer.”
“Like a guard, baby. All you have to do is keep men out, break up fights GENTLY, and protect me and the other bartenders. Oh, and wear a tank top that shows off your guns.” Sera squeezed Angela’s bicep, giggling as she felt her muscles flex beneath her fingertips.
Angela stood, scooping Sera up with her. “This sounds like cause for celebration!” She kissed her way down Sera’s neck as she carried her off to their bedroom. “Wait, though,” she stopped, standing stock still. “What time do we start?”
Angela arched an eyebrow, “Then I don’t have to worry about keeping you up too late like last time, do I?”
“No you don’t, babycakes.” Sera laughed. “Do your worst.”
Angela gently tossed Sera onto their bed, and crawled over top of her. “I certainly will.”