The evening rain drummed against the window, mixing with the soft chatter around the café. Coco’s Café was well known amongst the student body for having the only affordable coffee within walking distance of Beacon Campus, as well as being one of the best bars in town after dark. As such, it was frequently packed with students of every kind, from carefree undergrads bonding with new friends, to stressed grad students looking for a quick respite before heading back to the lab. Today, there were slightly less patrons than usual, owing to the weather outside. Even so, the café was bustling with people enjoying the relative warmth inside the building.
Not that Weiss noticed any of this.
Headphones in, eyes intently fixed upon her laptop screen – she was the picture of productive concentration to any passerby, at least at a glance. However, if one looked closer, they might see a slight wrinkle of frustration crease her brow, along with the occasional rapping of her fingers softly against the table. And if one paid attention for any significant amount of time, they might notice that she didn’t seem to touch her keyboard or her mouse at all.
Truthfully, Weiss wasn’t paying attention to her laptop at all. She was thinking about a conversation she’d had a few weeks prior…
“Weiss, I am your father, and it is my duty to ensure that you do not throw away your future! Why are you so insistent on pursuing an education, if it can even be called that, at that worthless institution!”
“Father, I will be attending university on my own merit. I’ve kept my grades up through my studies, and I will not choose Atlas Academy just because it is what you and mother desire! This is my decision!”
“While that may be, that does not mean that you are not making a mistake! Your mother and I have worked tirelessly to ensure that you would have the option to attend the best university possible! Countless hours of effort have gone into providing the social network you would need to flourish at Atlas Academy!”
“That doesn’t mean you get to decide my future for me! I’m going to Beacon, and that’s final!”
“If that is the case, you will be attending on your own! Neither I nor your mother will be supporting you in your move, and your funds will be cut off!”
“So be it! I’ll do just fine on my own…”
Weiss was so lost in thought she almost didn’t notice the finger tapping her shoulder.
“Oh, sorry, can I help…” Weiss looked up from her laptop to find a young girl staring intently at her. The girl had shorter cropped hair, dark brown, with the fringes dyed scarlet. Her skin was quite pale, and she was rather short, although she did appear to be slightly taller than Weiss. However, Weiss’s focus was drawn to the girl’s striking eyes, which were the color of polished steel. It was almost as if she was staring into pools of silver…
Weiss then noticed the girl seemed to be waiting for something, and hurriedly took out her headphones, turning her eyes towards the brunette expectantly.
“Would you like to order something? You’ve been here for quite a while, and my manager is getting kind of antsy…” The girl gave an apologetic smile, followed by a sidelong glance towards the counter. Weiss followed her eyes, only to be met with an intense glare from a dark-haired girl wearing a beret, gazing over a pair of sunglasses. She quickly averted her eyes back towards the waitress.
Weiss fidgeted nervously in her seat, her eyes glancing downwards briefly. While she had secured a scholarship to attend Beacon, the funding was only enough to cover the essentials. This was not a result of her application having any notable weaknesses to speak of – rather, she’d been too late to apply for any of the more prestigious scholarships, as a result of needing to convince her father to let her attend. Unfortunately, she was still 17 at the time that she was applying, and as a result couldn’t send in an application on her own. She’d been quite lucky to end up with a scholarship at all, but her daily life had become much more frugal than she was used to.
“…have a small coffee.”
“Right away, miss!” The young girl nodded energetically and dashed off towards the counter, weaving through the tables and customers effortlessly, flashing Weiss a blinding smile as she went. Weiss watched her go before returning her gaze to the blank document on her computer, her eyes staring far past the dimly lit screen.
She let out a small sigh, her thoughts returning to her parents. She didn’t hate them – after all, they only wanted what they thought was best for her. However, she’d felt smothered all her life, and simply couldn’t stand the idea of staying with them in Atlas for another year, much less the quartet that it would take to complete her degree. Although she’d gotten her wish, it hadn’t been without frustrations – she’d reconciled with her parents, but they hadn’t offered to restore her finances, and she didn’t ask them to – her dignity wouldn’t allow it.
Weiss noticed another waitress walking towards her, approximately her age with long brown hair and matching eyes. She stopped beside her table and placed a steaming mug of coffee, with a polite “Here you go, miss.” Weiss softly thanked her and reached for her purse, already mentally calculating what kind of impact this would have on her monthly finances – she was already somewhat tight on Lien this month. However, when she looked up, the waitress didn’t appear to have any sort of checkbook with her.
“No worries miss, it’s covered. Enjoy the coffee.” The waitress gestured to a small, folded up napkin tucked underneath the base of the cup before leaving. Glancing towards the bar, she carefully extracted the napkin from beneath the mug, and gently opened it up, eyes skimming the text written inside.
“You seemed to be having a rough day, so I upgraded your small to a medium and covered it. Enjoy the coffee! It’s the house blend – I’m sure you’ll love it. I wanted to give this to you myself, but I had to leave early…stupid design project :( Hope your day gets better! --Ruby”
Weiss felt a faint warmth blossom in her chest and had to consciously stop herself from smiling. It hadn’t just been a rough day; the whole week hadn’t exactly gone her way. Freshman orientation hadn’t been a pleasant experience, as Weiss appeared to be the only student from Atlas in her entire year, and most of the Vale students had formed small groups almost immediately, presumably with friends from high school. Not exactly wanting to go out alone, she’d abstained from going out to any of the welcome week events, instead staying in her dorm room. She hadn’t seen her roommate yet; according to the housing office, she was from Menagerie, and would be arriving in a couple of days due to extenuating circumstances. In all honesty, Weiss wasn’t a big fan of “extenuating circumstances” – right now, she just wanted to meet someone that would be her friend without too much trouble. Which is why the napkin made her so happy.
Ruby…Weiss silently mouthed the name to herself, trying it out. It suited her. Not just in terms of color, but also with regard to her actions…shining like a gemstone, her gesture had served to brighten Weiss’s day considerably. With her vigor to be productive renewed, she turned back to her computer screen with a fiery resolve. Her economics case study wasn’t due until the end of the month, but Weiss would finish it by the end of the day – something about the cup of coffee had motivated her to be extra productive. While the house blend was quite good, as Ruby had promised, Weiss was relatively sure that it didn’t really have all that much to do with the coffee.