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heat beneath your winter

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AJ would have to be blind not to notice the looks one of her regular baristas shoots her when she thinks AJ isn’t looking. She hasn’t interacted with the woman beyond ordering and collecting drinks and only knows her name – Paige – from looking at her nametag, but it still hurts her heart a little to see Paige looking sullen as she takes orders and hands out change.

Well. AJ thinks moody might just be Paige’s natural state, but today she seems especially gloomy. Maybe AJ can do something about that.

“And here I thought baristas were supposed to be cheerful,” she says once Paige has taken her order, an edge to her voice, but then she softens it. “Rough shift, huh?”

“You could say that,” Paige tells her, but already, there’s a small smile on her face. It only widens when AJ dumps some of the coins she was given as change into the tip jar on the counter.

(When AJ collects her coffee, there’s a phone number on the side of her cup. She can’t help the smirk as she leaves the shop: she knows what she’ll be doing this evening, then.)