Not just anyone could get Weiss’s coffee order right. After leaving Minstrel and Klein and moving a state away for college, Beacon, the heiress had trouble finding a latte up to her standards. She read reviews for all the local coffee shops, and even tried Starbucks, but nothing could compare to the sweet bitterness she craved. Every day, she would go to a new shop either before or after her nine am class. In between her school day, Weiss would write up little reviews of the places she visited and posted them on her blog.
It was not a large blog, only a couple thousand followers. Weiss began posting when she was twelve about the different recipes her and Klein would make in the Schnee family kitchen. As she posted more and more, her blog began to gain more traction from other coffee snobs. After many different themes and other odd points ( aka. The time she only posted black and white photos of her poor latte art), Weiss finally discovered a new way to make her blog fresh : finding the best cup of coffee in Vale.
In her quest for the perfect cup, Weiss met Blake. Blake was helping her parents run Faunus, a small hole in the wall in Menagerie, the lower area of Vale that was too covered street corner to street corner with different shops, where the two met. when Weiss walked in. The fall colors had just began to show in the trees outside as a cold breeze flooded in with the white-haired girl. Blake looked up from the book she was reading only to see Weiss studying the menu with more concentration that her parents when they took over Faunus.
Weiss ordered a piccolo latte, and although it was good, it was not the taste she desired. Blake saw the look of dismay when the girl took a sip and was going to ask her if she did not like the coffee, but Weiss had already left the store. Although normally Weiss would not return to a shop after realizing it was not the one, she did enjoy the atmosphere of Faunus. The next day, she came in with a laptop and her own tumbler of some green tea she made at home, and Weiss camped out for a couple of hours doing more research on the coffee shops in the area. In between reading reviews, she glanced around Faunus, taking in all of her surroundings.
The shop was designed like an old tea shop from China, which Weiss has visited last summer. Dark brown wood covered the counters, and scrolls decorated the walls.
Across the shop, Blake stood talking to her mom about some of their coffee supply not coming in on time. Her eyes began to wonder to see Weiss sitting on one of the small brown sofas with a tumbler and had not bought anything. She excused herself from the conversation she was having with her mom to kick out the rude customer; however, Blake saw what Weiss had open a word document and had different pictures of the shop on the page. The layout looked familiar. Too familiar.
“ You’re CoffeeDust”, Blake announced to Weiss. The blogger turned around with wide eyes to stare at Blake. The thing about Weiss’s blog is that she never had revealed her true identity. Weiss readied herself for a slew of questions and awkward ramblings, but Blake instead sat down beside her. She looked over the screen and read the small paragraph Weiss had written about Faunus. “If you are truly looking for a good picco, I think I might know a few places”, Blake said after a few minutes of silence.
After that day, Weiss’s journey alone added Blake. The two would talk and compare different drinks across the city. Even though they went to twenty more coffee shops and even started to do repeats just in case a different barista changed how good the cup was, Weiss still could not find what she craved. Today, they sat in Faunus scrolling through new places to go.
“How about the Qrowbar?” Blake asked from across the table.
“ Been there. Nothing new, except the guy kept trying to sell everyone Irish coffees”, Weiss replied. She layered a new picture onto her word document for a third review for Faunus. Ever since her first posting, business at the coffee shop has increased, transforming the quiet place more popular than the Starbucks down the street.
Blake rolled her eyes. “ Well then how about Blood Gulch? I hear they got a mean original drinks list.”
Weiss shook her head. “ I went there when I first came to Vale. The barista started arguing with the another employee in the middle of taking my order. Then, their manager came out and started yelling at them to ‘shape up’”, she said in quotation marks.” After ten minutes of listening to them bicker, some guy in the back, who I guess was the baker, came out and started talking about his feelings to me. They gave me some sort of red drink when I ordered my coffee black. Never again.” Blake let out a sigh and continued on her search for a coffee shop Weiss had not gone to.
“ Well, we could go to Xiao Long.” Weiss’s eyes looked up at Blake. She had not heard of Xiao Long. “ It just opened last week, and it is close to Signal Hall.” Signal Hall is on a small island on the outskirts of Vale called Patch, meaning the only way for them to get to the shop would be by ferry or the dreaded pedestrian bridge. It would have to be a weekend trip, and it was only Tuesday. Weiss could not wait.
“We have to go”, the heiress shouted, standing up from the table. Blake’s arm shot out, steadying the coffee cup that almost fell over. She began packing away her laptop and other items while Blake just watched her. The barista looked at the clock.
“ Weiss, you have a class in twenty minutes. We can go Saturday”, she tried to reason, but Weiss was not listening. She grabbed her white and grey cardigan from the back of her chair and slung her backpack over her shoulders. “Listen to me Weiss”, Blake pleaded. Weiss finally turned and looked directly at Blake. “ Go to class right now, and I will ask my dad if I can get off early tomorrow or come in late or whatever. Just go right now.” Weiss huffed at her friend but understood why Blake wanted Weiss to not get behind.
As Weiss walked back to Beacon, she began looking up reviews for Xiao Long, yet there was none. Not even a small review. Well that annoyed Weiss. She sat during her English class without actually paying attention, but instead, wondering about the small shop.
After class, she continued to try to research, but a text from Blake telling her to focus kept her on track. Blake had dropped out of college a semester before Weiss joined Beacon in order to help her parents run Faunus. Menagerie had become the new area for upper class people to move into and forcing the actual people of Menagerie to jack up their prices just to survive. Weiss remembered the look of sadness that crossed her friend’s eyes as she talked about the shop. The heiress had never had to worry about money due to her father owning the Schnee Coffee Company. That also fueled why she never wanted to reveal who she was on CoffeeDust. People would never trust the opinion of some prissy rich girl, but a young girl who loved coffee would get followers.
The next day, Weiss woke up and looked on her phone to see if there was any reviews for Xiao Long yet. There were none, sadly. Weiss sighed and went to class reluctantly. Her professor stopped talking about the Renaissance halfway through the lecture to go on a tangent about the time he fought a bear, which none of the kids actually believed. As soon as the clock struck ten, Weiss bolted out and ran towards Faunus. Blake stood outside the coffee shop in her black peacoat, which matched Weiss’s white one, on her phone. They greeted each other and ran towards the pedestrian bridge. Although the ferry would be a nicer view, the pedestrian bridge was a lot quicker. The cold winter air nipped at their faces as they walked across the river.
When they finally reached Patch, the streets changed from busy and crowded like Menagerie to almost barren. The two girls walked through the empty streets, and looked at the shops. An occasionally chain restaurant would show up every five streets, but otherwise, only family owned shops and apartments lined the streets “ Just a couple more streets”, Blake said. Weiss looked at her phone and saw they had only taken twenty minutes to get to the Xiao Long. That gave them ample time to enjoy the area.
Xiao Long is small, smaller than Faunus. It fit in with the neighborhood, yet it stood out due to its bright yellow awning. Rose murals covered the outside of the doors, and a dragon was the door handle. It honestly was odd and charming at the same time. They entered the shop, and a blast of warm air enveloped the two. A fireplace sat in the corner and was surrounded by worn couches. A blonde girl with her hair in a ponytail stood with her back turned to the door. Blake walked up to the counter to order while Weiss took some picture of the random nick nacks around the place.
Their conversation sounded aimable while Weiss tried getting a better photo of the line of golden roses along the mantel. It was honestly a cute store, but Weiss still needed to try the coffee in order to truly be impressed. Blake came over to her friend with a blush across her cheeks and a green tea in her hands. The mug looked like children had painted it, making it all more adorable. “ I got her phone number”, Blake whispered. She unfolded a small piece of paper to reveal a number and a messy signature. Yang Xiao Long. She must own the place.
Weiss turned to the counter and saw the blonde was nowhere in sight. She slowly approached the counter and stared at the menu. It was filled with handwritten drinks, mixing the classics with their own originals, such as a Crescent Rose and the Ember Celica. A small cough distracted Weiss from her deciding what she would order. A girl stood behind the counter, but she was not Yang. She had shoulder length black hair with slight red tips and the largest silver eyes Weiss had ever seen. She had a gentle smile on her face as she bounced on her feet.
“ Hi, my name is Ruby. Do you know what you want?” she asked. Her voice was high pitched yet not enough to be annoying. Weiss glanced back up at the menu to see if they served a picco, which they probably did. She was frozen though. What was happening?
“ I.. um . would like a …”, Weiss had no idea. She always knew what she wanted.
“ Well, if you are unsure, I would recommend the Crescent Rose. I came up with it all on my own”, Ruby said proudly. The girl made her own coffee drinks.
“ Sure, give me that”, Weiss was able to spit out. Ruby smiled and turned around to the espresso machine. Weiss watched with wide eyes as the girl moved so quickly between three different machines.
Ruby shifted her head around to look at Weiss. “ So, how did you hear about us?” She was just trying to be friendly.
“ We were looking at coffee shops in the city and saw you guys had just opened”, Blake said, saving Weiss from embarrassing herself. They both took a seat at the bar next to the ordering counter. Ruby giggled as she poured the steaming milk into a mug that looked like it had been broken many times and purely glued together. At any other place, Weiss would have demanded another cup, yet here, it seemed to fit in perfectly.
Ruby started walking around the space to another coffee machine, where she hit a few levers and watched as the coffee would come out. “ Yea, my dad finally got some money together and opened our place up. He was scared that we would not get much business since not many people come over to Patch. Most of the people already have their schedules and stick to them. I told him to wait until the concerts start again at Signal Hall. I said I would be willing to work late, but he replied ‘No! You need to get sleep’. But like, why would I need to sleep if I could just drink more coffee to stay awake. Am I rambling?” Ruby said, all without taking a breath. A spew of steam broke up their conversation. Ruby made a squealing sound before turning around and grabbing another shot of something. She mixed the espresso into the mug, added some more of whatever came from the front machine, and finally began pouring more milk into the mug. She wiggled the canister, probably making a leaf like every other barista.
What Weiss got shocked her. The mug was placed in front of her as Ruby looked at Weiss for a reaction. Before she would take a drink, she would have to take a photo. Ruby designed a full rose on the top of the coffee. No simple flower but it had details and a light pink tone to the drink. After the photo, Weiss raised the mug to her lips and tasted the Crescent Rose.
It was the sweetest drink Weiss had ever tasted. The bitterness came in as an after taste, but the sweetest came back. Rose water, chocolate infused coffee beans, skim milk, and something else. Cinnamon? But Weiss never saw the girl put anything else in the drink. How could she have created such a masterpiece?
“ Did you like it?” Ruby asked. She looked nervous but excited.
Weiss took a moment. She did not want to come off too forward but… “ This is the best coffee I have ever drank”, she said. Blake looked at her in shock before grabbing the mug. She took a quick sip before entering the same state as Weiss. They both sat at the counter in awe. Ruby just smiled back at them.
“Oh wow. Stop lying. It is my baby, but Dad was really weary about putting it on the menu”, she said. Ruby began to clean up while Weiss and Blake just looked at each other. That masterpiece could have never been on the menu. Yang came out of the back room to see the two girl at the counter in shock while her little sister washed some dishes. She strolled over to Blake and Weiss and saw the mug between them.
“ Was my tea not good enough for you Blake?” she asked with a joking tone. Blake broke from her trance and smiled.
“ I don’t know. I think I could make a better cup”, Blake teased. Yang looked amused.
“ You make tea?” she questioned.
“ One of the best in the city, but I am more of a coffee person”, Weiss replied. She finished off her coffee and wanted to buy another, but her phone alarm went off before she could reach her wallet. Weiss looked at her phone and saw she had a class in thirty minutes on the other side of town. Blake and Yang were talking about the best way to brew tea and whether brewing in milk or water tasted better ( it is milk by the way).
“ Well, I need to go”, Weiss said. Blake nodded, and the two got ready to leave.
“ You will be back?” Ruby asked from the sink. She had a faint blush on her cheeks as she asked.
Weiss looked down and smiled. “ Of course!” Her and Blake walked back onto the empty street and began their journey back to Menagerie for Blake and Beacon for Weiss. They both talked about the baristas and the coffee, but more importantly the baristas. Blake’s phone went off with a text from Yang asking her out for- of course- coffee. They both freaked out in the most civilized way of smiling at each other. After Blake got back to Faunus, she promised to text Weiss about what happens between her and Yang. Weiss said goodbye to her friend and went back to Beacon.
She sat down for a lecture in design about basics of layouts, which she already knew. She chose the seat in the back corner in order to work on her own website and would probably turn in an old version of her website for her final project. Weiss uploaded the pictures she took of Xiao Long to her laptop. She began dragging photos of the outside to the top corner, and the fireplace got a larger photo on the right. She wrote about the atmosphere before getting to the coffee. Everything she said was flowery and full of too many adjectives. Weiss grabbed the photo of her coffee and saw Ruby’s figure in the background on one of the photos, making the heiress grin. She could always go back for a second opinion on the shop.
Weiss did go back for a second time, a third, a fourth, and many more until she came into the shop daily. Sometimes, she would take the trek in the morning, but a blonde man, who she found out was Taiyang, Ruby’s father, working. He would be nice, but the shop did not feel right without Ruby or Yang. After her first class, Yang would be working. Yang had lost her forearm a couple of years back in a motorcycle accident. Weiss put that in her notes about the shop’s staff for the post. Ruby would always be working in the late afternoons, usually after Signal would let out.
Ruby told Weiss everything about herself over the course of a couple weeks. Ruby is a senior at Signal Academy with hopes of getting into Beacon as soon as she graduates. Although she loves making coffee, her dream is to become a teacher or help kids in some way. She had been making coffee since she could press the button on their old Mr.Coffee. Her mother went missing when she was younger, but Ruby did not let it affect her.
As the weather got colder and Christmas came around the corner, Weiss had basically become addicted to Xiao Long. Weiss and Blake walked over to Patch a week before Christmas. The walk had grown less troublesome and more comforting. They began to notice the people inside the little shops on the way. Tukson’s Book Trade was frequented by Blake when Yang was out with her dad getting things for Xiao Long, and the man who seemed to run every other shop on their way know knew the girls by name, even though they never asked him about his own.
Once they arrived, Blake immediately walked up to the barstools. Yang stood on the other side with a hot cup of tea waiting for her. The two had been trying to outdo each other with teas and alternated which shop to stay in. Blake was winning in Weiss’s mind, but she knew there was no true winner. Weiss waltzed around the room. The family had placed holiday decorations around the shop, keeping the homey feeling. Loose garland laid along the mantle, sewn through all the family photos that now sat on top of it. Ruby had placed a little Christmas tree on one of the tables to which Yang threw a menorah on another table out of spite. They then proceed to have a Hanukkah and Christmas battle throughout the store. Taiyang just sat back and accepted his daughters would never agree on a holiday to celebrate.
“ Weiss!” Ruby yelled from the back room. Weiss rolled her eyes and walked towards the door with an ‘employees only’ sign. Since the shop was not busy, like it usually was, Weiss could freely roam the entire store without anyone caring. Ruby stood on top of a small stool in the back room reaching for something on high shelf. She wore a santa hat and her red shawl, which Weiss learned was the last Christmas gift from her mother. She use to wear it around all the time but now reserved it only for the holiday season.
“ Do you need some help Ruby?” Weiss asked. Ruby nodded before handing Weiss a large amount of different greenery and some tape.
“ We need to finish decorating the outside, and you are going to help me”, Ruby said with no falter. Weiss rolled her eyes. Normally, she would have put up a fight but not with Ruby. Her small crush on the silver-eyed barista had flourished into something a lot more over her time going to the shop. It could have been her laugh that would make anyone smile, or the way she would move with grace while holding five different cups on her arms, or maybe it was the look in her eyes whenever she asked Weiss to try a new drink, but it was probably the feeling Weiss felt in her gut when she looked at Ruby that sealed every feeling of doubt towards her true feelings for Ruby away.
She nodded and waddle out the storeroom into the center of the shop with Ruby following right behind her. Yang and Blake glanced at the two before returning to their conversation now in a hushed tone. Weiss knew they were talking about them. Blake told Weiss a month ago that her and Ruby need to hurry up and date. Before Weiss could react, Blake added quotations marks and said from Yang. Instead of saying anything, Weiss gave the two her signature glare before walking to the front of the shop.
Ruby took some of the garland and began stringing it around the door with the roses. Twinkling lights already decorated the outside of Xiao Long and every other shop along the street. A light snow had begun to fall outside, causing small flakes to get caught on Weiss’s coat and in Ruby’s hair. Weiss would get distracted at looking at Ruby and forget to hand her more of the branches. The last bit of greenery was a small bushel of some leaves with white berries.
Ruby pushed Weiss inside the door while she stood outside. “ Lift me up, so I can hang this up.” Weiss nodded and turned around. Ruby jumped on her back and placed the bushel on the top of the door frame. The raven-haired barista slid down off Weiss’s back and back outside. Weiss turned around to see Ruby’s cheeks were more red than they were from the cold earlier. “ Hey Weiss. Guess what?”
“ Well, we are under the mistletoe. You know what that means”, Ruby said. Before Weiss could react, Ruby shot forward and kissed Weiss. Her lips were soft and sweet, just like her coffee but no bitterness ever came. A soft pressure nudged Weiss to kiss her back. Ruby lifted a hand to caress the side of Weiss’s face as Weiss wrapped an arm around Ruby’s waist. They would have continued if a wolf whistle had not came from behind them. They both turned to look at Yang and Blake, who was snickering.
“If you two are done, I think you might be scaring away customers”, Yang joked, then getting back to cleaning. Ruby and Weiss then began to laugh. Ruby held Weiss close as they closed the door behind them. After that day, Ruby asked Weiss if they could become girlfriends. Weiss immediately said yes.
The Xiao Long post on CoffeeDust was the longest post Weiss had done to date. It was at least ten pages of photos followed by commentary on the staff, atmosphere, and even more on every drink on the menu, including parts of the secret menu Yang and Ruby had explained to Weiss and Blake one afternoon. Weiss proclaimed she found the greatest coffee in Vale. The response from her followers was amazing.
The next morning after posting, Christmas Eve, Weiss stopped by the shop to see a line outside. She was able to weasel her way into by saying she worked there. All three Xiao Long and Rose family members were behind the counter and even the guy who ran the Qrowbar was helping take orders. Ruby noticed Weiss and gave her a small wave before getting back to making multiple coffees in one go. Weiss waved back and moved into the storeroom, where it was quieter. The supplies in the room had been well stocked the day before, but now, every bag was open in some way, shape, or form. Weiss smiled. There would be no more slow days for the family. That was for sure.
After ten minutes of sitting on her laptop, Weiss noticed Ruby walked into the storeroom. The barista made her way over to where Weiss was sat and plopped down beside her. She then grabbed Weiss’s face and kissed her. Weiss could feel the exhaustion in the kiss, but Ruby still tried to give it her all. After a couple of minutes of lazy kissing, Ruby broke it apart. “ When were you going to tell me?” she asked.
Weiss blushed. “ I don’t know what you are talking about”, Weiss replied.
Ruby stared at her. “ You are CoffeeDust, and you never told me.”
“ I didn’t want you to be mad at me”, Weiss replied.
Confusion swept across Ruby’s face. “ I am not mad”, she stated plainly.
Relief flooded Weiss. “You aren’t?”
“Never”, Ruby said with a smile. She then leaned in for another kiss. “ I would like to thank my beautiful, coffee-loving girlfriend for giving the saving grace to my father’s dream.” Weiss went in for another peck before Ruby pushed her back. “ Before you can get anymore kisses, I would like to know, do you have any other major secrets that I need to know? Murdered a guy? Really hate dogs? Secret millionaire?” Ruby said the last one with a laugh.
“ Well, more like billionaire”, Weiss said casually. Ruby turned her body fully towards her girlfriend.
“ You are kidding me”, she said. Weiss then realized Ruby had never connected the fact that Weiss was Weiss Schnee.
“ You ever head of Schnee Coffee Company?”