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House Blend

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“…and then you top it off with some whipped cream. Typically, the customers that order this one can be real picky, but they also tip well because it’s one of our more expensive drinks. You’ve officially been working here for a week as of today, so you get to start making it. Got all that?”

Weiss nodded towards Coco, although this was a silent lie. Unfortunately, she hadn’t gotten all of it. In fact, she had barely gotten any of it, mostly due to the fact that she’d been staring across the café for the past two minutes instead of at the seasonal drink that Coco was teaching her how to make. How could she be expected to pay attention to a pumpkin spice latte when Ruby was chatting with a customer like they were…together?!

The girl that Ruby was talking to had orange hair the same shade as Nora’s, although it was styled differently. She wore a cream blouse with a green overall skirt, plus black stockings. It was a rather strange outfit, all things considered. However, the only thought going through Weiss’s head was that Ruby seemed extremely comfortable with her. As in, they hugged when she’d walked through the door. Sure, Ruby hugged everyone, but that didn’t make Weiss any less nervous about this new visitor.

Coco followed Weiss’s eyes and caught sight of Ruby. Smirking, she snapped her fingers as if she’d remembered something. “Ah, Weiss, could you send Ruby over here for me? I need to talk to her about this Thursday.”

Broken out of her trance, Weiss quickly acknowledged Coco’s request and stepped around the bar and walked towards the two girls. As she approached them, Weiss heard Ruby say, “I swear, the two of us have spent so many nights together in the past few weeks I think I’ve lost count.”

Weiss felt her eyebrow twitch. That could mean a lot of things. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they are a couple.

“Yes, Friend Ruby. I have enjoyed our time together.”

Lots of people say those sorts of things to each other. Friends, coworkers, classmates…

“It’s been pretty crazy so far, yeah? I still have burn marks from last night!”

Unfortunately, Weiss arrived at the table at the exact moment Ruby made this statement, and as such was caught off guard, unable to form a sentence. It wasn’t until she noticed both Ruby and her friend staring at her that she composed herself and made her reason for arriving known. “…Ruby, Coco wants to see you. Something about this Thursday?”

Ruby quickly stood up. “Oh, I’d asked if I could get an extra shift! I’m saving up to buy some extra RAM for Crescent Rose next week.” She turned to the mysterious girl she was chatting with. “Back in a sec, Penny!”

Weiss watched Ruby dash off towards the counter, blushing as she caught a hint of Ruby’s rose-scented perfume. She was about to follow her when she felt a finger tap her shoulder. Turning around, she noticed Ruby’s friend greeting her, an inquisitive look in her green eyes as she spoke. “Sal-u-tations, miss! What is your name, if I may ask?”

Weiss was taken aback by the girl’s manner of speech. It reminded her of her parents, although much more…structured. “My name’s Weiss. I’m a friend of Ruby’s. You are?”

“It is very nice to meet you, Friend Weiss. Any friend of Ruby’s is a friend of mine. My name is Penny. I am also a friend of Ruby’s.”

Weiss hesitated before answering, thoughts whirring through her head. Most people wouldn’t just introduce themselves as Ruby’s friend if they were something more to her. However, what could the two of them possibly be doing together at night?  “It’s nice to meet you. How do you know Ruby?”

“We are in school together. My parents are doctors from Atlas that work on neural interfaces. I wanted to work with them, so I came to school here for computer engineering. Me and Friend Ruby are partners in all our classes! We work together quite well, although our projects have a propensity for overheating. Friend Ruby and I have both sustained many injuries from our devices malfunctioning. “

“I’m from Atlas as well, it’s nice to meet someone else from there,” Weiss replied in relief, noting that Penny appeared to be referring to Ruby like a close coworker, as opposed to a significant other. She then recalled where she had heard Penny’s name before – she was on the phone with Ruby when they had first met, discussing their school project. That must be why they spend so much time together. Good, she probably isn’t her girlfriend then. She noticed Penny staring at her closely. “Is something the matter?”

“Friend Weiss, your pupils appeared to dilate when you look at Friend Ruby. And your skin appeared somewhat flushed when she walked past you. I believe that those are signs of…”

Oh no – she said her parents are doctors, so she probably knows those are signs of attraction. She must have figured out that I like Ruby-

“…using methamphetamine. I believe that is illegal here in Vale?”

What?!?!

Weiss hastily cleared her throat, thinking of a possible reason for her current Ruby-induced state. “No, I’ve never used any drugs of the sort. As for my condition, I’m…feeling somewhat under the weather today, perhaps that could cause what you’re seeing?”

Penny paused for a second before her face lit up, as if she’d solved a complicated puzzle. “Yes! That must be it. Redness of skin can be caused by an allergic reaction, and the medications typically prescribed to treat allergies, antihistamines, can cause pupil dilatation. In this fall season, it is not uncommon to have allergies. The fact that you are not breaking the law is simply sen-sational!” She pumped her fist in delight.

Weiss exhaled as she watched the girl in front of her celebrate her deduction. Penny had an awfully…unique way of thinking – maybe it had to do with growing up in a medical family. Hearing footsteps behind her, she turned to see Ruby dashing past her with a bright smile, holding up her hand to Penny, who promptly hi-fived it. She held her other hand up to Weiss, who followed suit tentatively.

“I got my shift on Thursday! Since it’ll be short-staffed, it pays extra, so I’ll be able to upgrade Crescent Rose this weekend instead! Oh, Weiss, Coco wants to see you. She says you’ll be working on Thursday with me. It’s gonna be so much fun!”

Weiss reviewed her schedule mentally. That’s strange, I don’t remember getting a shift on Thursday. Turning to Coco, she saw the owner waving her over. As she arrived at the counter, Coco grinned. “I take it Ruby told you about your newly scheduled shift?”

“Yes, when was this posted? I must have missed it.”

Coco’s grin got even wider. “Just now. It seems like you’ve been spacing out a bit while I’ve been teaching you, so I assume you don’t find making any of the drinks difficult. As such, I figured that you would be ready to handle a short-staffed shift. After all, I think the rest of the team could use a Thursday night off, including me and Velvet.”

“It just so happens that Ruby wanted to work on Thursday, so I put the two of you the same shift. During short-staffed shifts, there’s only two people covering the whole café, so you’ll be spending all shift together. Since you keep staring at her, I take it you two get along well?” She smirked at Weiss, who was fighting to keep the blush off her cheeks at the thought of spending a whole evening working with just Ruby. “That’s what I thought. Aren’t I a great boss?” Chuckling to herself, she turned and walked towards the back office.

Weiss fought to keep down her internal panic. She had no clue how she was going to handle a whole night alone with Ruby. Well, there will be other customers here, so we won’t be totally alone. Her musing was interrupted by Coco, who had turned around while holding the door to her office open. “I also forgot to mention – there’s a big sporting event at Beacon on Thursday, and some students have early midterms, so I don’t think we’ll get much business that day. The two of you will probably be alone the whole time. Have fun!” She let the door swing closed, with the last sight Weiss had of her being her teasing grin.