Not Quite a Coffee Shop AU
From a suggestion from @wordsmith-storyweaver
3.8k words of something
Also on AO3
She needs a second job and The Library needs a barista. Who knew she would end up with more than free coffee…
The first time Emma Swan tastes coffee, she is six. Her foster mom leaves a cup unattended as she goes to answer the phone (one of those old kinds with the long, twirling cords that is attached to the wall). It’s bitter. And hot. It burns her tongue and she hates it.
When she is 14 it becomes cool to hang out at the coffee shop, drinking beverages that are more milk than anything else. She has a crush on the barista with the blue streak in his hair. He kisses her behind the store. He tastes like cigarettes. He asks her out on a date but doesn’t turn up at the fair.
She hates coffee again.
At 16, she meets Neal. He takes her to an empty fairground and buys her coffee. (The irony is not lost on her.) She sips and listens as he talks of home and wanting; she falls for him a little after only knowing him for a few hours. He’s real and vital and understands what it’s like: being alone. Feeling lost.
(She should have known it wouldn’t last. Then she’s alone again.)
Years later and it’s become her drug of choice on those cold nights where she needs to stay awake. Bail bonds isn’t glamorous, but it can be lucrative. It’s just unpredictable. Coffee… well, it isn’t. Even the instant kind that clings to the back of your throat has a strange kind of comfort when it’s 4 am and you’ve stared at the same door for six hours.