There are three rules when it comes to Scotty’s:
No boys allowed. They can be talked about, or brought up via (minimal) text or Snapchat, but their physical presence will not be tolerated.
No mention of murder or any other illegal activity, unless it is specifically mentioned in a case being studied for class or work.
Scotty’s is a discrimination free zone. If I want a chocolate chip bagel with hazelnut cream cheese AND a cinnamon toast crunch bagel with strawberry cream cheese then I deserve to do so without fear of judgement. This pertains to non-bagel related matters as well.
The first time Laurel and Michaela hang out outside of class or work is kind of an accident.
Michaela is just about to leave her apartment when her phone buzzes, forcing her to stop in the doorway of her building.
“What do you want, Castillo?” Michaela huffs, attempting to balance her keys and her giant stack of files and hold the phone to her ear with her shoulder as she opens the door to her car .
“Do you have jumper cables?” asks Laurel, sounding equally annoyed on the other end.
“Uh, no. Why?”
“Oh, no reason, just that my car decided that the day of our first trial with Annalise was the perfect day to not start.”
“Ooh that sucks,” says Michaela with feigned sympathy as she buckles her seatbelt. “What are you gonna do?”
“Well…” Laurel starts, “I was kind of wondering if maybe you --”
“No, not happening,” Michaela cuts her off before she can finish. She worked with this witness for weeks; being late was not an option.
“Nope, that trophy is mine. Find another ride.”
“Michaela, please,” Laurel practically begs, “Wes doesn’t have a car and the others live all the way across town. It’ll literally take five minutes. I’ll buy you breakfast after or something.”
“Ugh fine,” says Michaela, a rare twinge of sympathy getting the best of her. She hears Laurel let out a sigh of relief. “But you’re buying breakfast. And if we’re late and Professor Keating gets pissed I will throw you under the bus so hard-- “
“It’ll all be my fault. Got it. Fine by me, just get here,” says Laurel. Michaela can practically hear her rolling her eyes through the phone. “See you in five minutes.”
The ride to the courthouse is quiet yet uneventful, and while they were not as early as Michaela would’ve liked, they were able to enter the courtroom with ten minutes to spare. They still managed to beat Asher, who slipped into his seat with exactly ten seconds to spare.
“You’re so busted,” Michaela whispers as he sits down beside her, not daring to take her eyes off the front of the room.
“Au contraire, mon amie,” says Asher, a smug grin on his face. “A little birdy told me the witness you were put in charge of hasn’t showed. If anyone is getting busted, it’s you.”
Michaela glares at him, causing him to shut up surprisingly fast.
Unfortunately, Asher is right; the witness never shows and Michaela is, in fact, busted; Annalise makes this abundantly clear when she all but yells at her on the courthouse steps. The boys are able to escape before she unleashes the worst of it, but seeing as Michaela is her ride home, Laurel gets stuck hearing the entire thing. She tries to stay a respectful distance away, to be the wallflower she’s constantly teased for, but even so she still can still hear snippets of the conversation.
“I expected more from you, Ms. Pratt,” says Annalise, glaring down at Michaela. “Now, at least, I know to lower my standards.”
As much as she hates Michaela, in that moment Laurel can’t help but feel sorry for her. She looks so vulnerable, almost fragile. So against her better judgment she takes a deep breath, puffing out her cheeks before walking over and taking Michaela by the arm. Michaela jumps before wiping her eyes.
“Come on,” Laurel says gently as she pulls the other girl away from the step she’s currently glued to. “You need a distraction.”
Michaela just nods, following Laurel back to the car. They walk in silence, and Michaela lets Laurel carry her bag and now tepid coffee, however she draws the line when she attempts to put her in the passenger seat (“I can still drive, thank you very much!”).
So instead Laurel rattles off instructions, leading Michaela to a small but relatively clean bakery just down the street from her place.
“I assume you like bagels?” Laurel asks as Michaela parks. Michaela lets out a sigh.
“Is that your magic trick to make me feel better? Carbs?” she asks, letting out a fake, drawn out gasp. “Don’t tell me Laurel Castillo is secretly just another basic bitch?”
Laurel narrows her eyes at her before opening the passenger door. “I already owe you breakfast, and after Annalise’s little stunt I figured the least I could do is let you in on the best kept secret in Philly. Now shut up before I change my mind.”
“Alright, but you do know it’s New York that’s known for bagels, right?”
“That’s why this is a secret,” says Laurel as she walks to the entrance and opens the door.
“Welcome to Scotty’s,” she says, gesturing around as they make their way to the counter. “Home of the world’s best bagels. However, it’s also open 24/7, there are plenty of outlets and comfy chairs for studying, AND it’s just far enough away from campus that you never have to deal with undergrads slowing down the wifi.” Laurel pauses at the “Order here!” sign, gazing over to see Michaela still looking around at the mostly empty cafe. “You’re free to use it, too. But if you tell the others I will have to kill you.”
Michaela nods, before bringing her gaze back to Laurel.
“Why are you showing me this?” she asks cautiously. “We’re not friends.”
“Because,” Laurel says with a shrug, “You just had a two bagel kind of day.”
“A what?” Michaela scoffs.
“A day that only multiple bagels can make better,” says Laurel, as if it’s obvious. “Now what are you gonna get?”
(Michaela panics and gets two plain bagels with regular cream cheese, Laurel gets one cinnamon toast crunch and one blueberry, and the two of them spend the next hour ranting about Annalise and how she isn't even that good of a lawyer anyway.)
Two weeks after the Trial-That-Must-Not-Be-Named Laurel is packing away her laptop after a particularly dull crim class when she looks up to see Michaela towering over her.
“Uh hello,” Laurel says, her voice laced with confusion. The two of them hadn’t talked outside of class since The Incident.
“We should study together for the torts exam,” Michaela says in greeting.
Laurel narrows her eyes in suspicion. “Why?” she asks, standing up and throwing her bag over her shoulder. “You said it yourself, we’re not friends.”
“You’re the second smartest person in our year,” Michaela replies simply.
“Second smartest?” Laurel shakes her head as she begins to walk up the stairs. But she’s cut off before she can finish.
“And I know you have Kan’s old outlines. They’re legendary.”
Laurel juts out her bottom lip and furrows her eyebrows as she turns to back to face Michaela, who’s now a step below her.
“Right. That’s why you need to study with me,” Laurel says slowly. This is amazing. Michaela Pratt is coming to her for help. Of course she’s gonna milk it for all it’s worth. “But why should I study with you?” she asks, looking down at Michaela with a playful glint in her eye.
“What?” Michaela asks, genuinely confused.
“You said it yourself. I’m the smartest in our year—“
“The smartest in our year,” Laurel repeats, ignoring the interruption, “and I have Kan’s old outlines and last year’s exams.”
Michaela gasps. “Seriously?”
Laurel nods with a smirk. It’s probably sad how much she’s enjoying this.
“Seriously. So honestly I’m set,” she replies with a shrug. “Why should I share all of that with someone who constantly talks over me and acts like a raging bitch unless she needs my help?”
Michaela quickly shut her mouth, and with that Laurel knew she won; she could practically see the cogs reeling behind Michaela’s eyes, trying desperately to figure out how to win back the upper hand. The two of them continue to stand there, Laurel waiting expectantly as Michaela continues to think, twisting her engagement as she does so.
After a good thirty seconds of this Laurel can’t take it anymore.
“Oh my god, okay, I’ll help you,” she blurts out. A laugh escapes her mouth before she can stop herself when she sees Michaela’s eyes widen. “Just relax, I beg you.”
“Wait really?” Michaela asks, clearly surprised.
“Yeah, better you than Connor,” she says, adjusting her bag. “He’s been bugging me all week. And if I’m gonna share with anyone, it’s not gonna be another rich little white boy.”
“Ugh, right?” says Michaela in agreement as she makes to catch up to Laurel. The two walk side by side up the auditorium stairs as Michaela regains her composure. “I’m so sick of him sleeping his way into Professor Keating’s good graces. Like we couldn’t do that if we wanted to.”
“Exactly,” says Laurel. They reach the front of the building, both pushing the doors open before walking out into the quad. “We should probably start tonight. We could meet at my place after class?”
“Actually,” says Michaela, turning to face Laurel, “I was thinking we could go to that bagel place.”
Laurel’s eyebrows shoot up. “Scotty’s?”
“Yeah, I’ve sort of become obsessed with the place since you showed it to me.”
“Really?” Laurel asks. Michaela nods. “Well okay. Yeah. Scotty’s it is.”
Surprisingly enough, Michaela is actually a really good study partner. She already had an outline of her own, so between that and Kan’s old papers they have everything covered. And, it turns out they have almost identical study habits. They take turns quizzing each other, and then talking through the parts they don’t understand.
However while their mutual stubborness is an admirable quality in the courtroom, after six hours of being huddled in a corner booth that stubborness is more hindering than it is useful.
They’re each munching on their second bagel (asiago for Michaela, blueberry for Laurel) as they attempt to quiz each other for the fifth time that night, and it’s not going well. Both are clearly distracted but neither wants to stop, their competitive edges getting the best of them.
But finally, after Michaela accidentally reads the same question three times in a row, Laurel calls for a break.
“That’s it. My brain is officially mush.”
“No, we have to keep going. Repetition is the best way to—“
“Fifteen minutes,” says Laurel, cutting her off. “For fifteen minutes let’s do something besides study for this stupid exam. Then we can go right back to the outline and you can ask me all the quiz questions your heart desires.”
Michaela begrudgingly puts down the quiz, grumbling something about “smartest in our year” as she does so.
They sit in silence for a moment, both quickly updating themselves on the outside world on their phones as they finish the last of their food. Laurel immediately felt a twinge of nerves; she’s never quite sure what to do in these situations. Should she start a conversation? Ask a question? Stick to the safety of her phone? There’s a reason why she’s considered one of the quiet ones.
But it turns out she doesn’t need to worry, because before she can even begin to think of something to say Michaela speaks up.
“So why bagels?”
Laurel looks up in surprise. “What do you mean?”
“They’re your comfort food, right? Why?”
Laurel can’t help but be surprised. She never would’ve guessed that Michaela would ask her something so personal, or that she’d even notice something like that. She takes her time setting down her phone, not sure how to answer.
“My dad,” she replies after a beat. “When we moved to Miami from Mexico, we had literally nothing. We left so fast he didn’t have enough time to find us a place. We lived in a hotel for a while, so we had to eat out a lot. The three of us, my dad, Adrian, and I, we probably tried every single restaurant within a five mile radius of that hotel, but our favorite by far was this little bakery right down the street called The Honeybee. They made other food but we only ever got bagels. We’d never had them at home and we were OBSESSED. Those first few weeks, before we were in school, we probably went four times a week. Dad would always have us order, made us practice our English with the owner. I’m pretty sure my first complete English sentence was ‘I would like a bagel with strawberry cream cheese, please.’”
She hears Michaela let out a small laugh. Laurel herself smiles at the memory, running her hand through her hair as she does so.
“Adrian was eight, I was only six, but the three of us, we were in it together that first month or so. It was the closest we’ve ever been,” Laurel pauses. “That’s pretty much the only happy memory I have of my dad.”
She looks up to see Michaela giving her a look she’d never seen before; if Laurel didn’t know better she’d think Michaela actually cares about her. Laurel gives her an awkward smile, jutting out her chin a bit as she does so.
“So yeah,” she says, promptly looking away, “That’s where the bagel obsession came from.”
Michaela returns her small smile. “Makes sense. You guys aren’t close anyone?”
“Oh no,” says Laurel, letting out a dark laugh as she takes a sip of coffee, “My father is…” she trails off, trying to find the right words, “Well let’s just say there’s a lot of reasons why I left Miami, but he’s by far the biggest one.”
There’s a tone of finality in her voice, and thankfully Michaela doesn’t push her. Instead, she merely nods as she pulls out a new set of flashcards.
Laurel nods, thankful for the change of subject. “You’re on.”
(They study everyday for the next week, and the two of them end up with the highest Torts grades in their year.)
(Michaela’s only slightly bitter about the fact that Laurel beats her by two measly points.)