Ruby sighed, idly rotating the teaspoon in her cup in imperfect circles. The latte - or was it? She was barely paying attention when she poured herself some - had long since gone cold, but the cup was still filled to the top. She observed the scene that was unfolding in one of the booths through a narrow crevice between the back room door and the frame.
"They smell delicious, Granny," Belle's voice resonated in her head like an incurable migraine, as much as she didn't want it to. Probably because she wasn't really trying to not want it to at all.
"They are delicious. Didn't take any dark magic, either."
Regina entered and the place went quiet, reduced to whispers and shushs. Ruby only noticed the change in atmosphere when an onyx suit clouded her view of the local librarian. She bristled and her brows dug a deep canyon in her otherwise calm expression. This was the woman who had held Belle captive for the past twenty eight years. Ruby's fingers itched, begging for an opportunity to rip flesh apart at the first sign of trouble.
One short and particularly disheartening exchange of words later, the danger subsided, and Ruby allowed herself to breathe again before mentally kicking herself for even getting involved, albeit in a very non-getting involved way.
"Ruby isn't serving today?" Belle asked.
"She took a sick day. Down with a mild fever, nothing too serious."
"Oh, I see. Will you tell her to get well soon?"
Ruby hated lying to Belle. Even though it technically wasn't her lips spilling the lies, it was her heart producing them, and to what end? She set the cup aside and pulled the collar of her sweater over her mouth to hide her undeserving self from the rest of the world, trying to focus on anything but the bitter reminder of the last time she resorted to an act of such nature, the first time she met the young brunette librarian in fate's chains.
Granny interrupted her morning-ish session of self-hatred and repentance, nonchalantly addressing her granddaughter on her way to get more bacon from the freezer. "They're gone. You might as well get back to work now. Also, Belle wanted me to tell—"
"I heard," Ruby snapped, waving the matter aside with a resigning shake of her head. Granny didn't even flinch; still Ruby felt a pang of regret as soon as the words left her mouth. Why did it have to be so hard? She could have been out there, having adventures with lemurs. Instead she was stuck in Storybrooke's one and only bed and breakfast with her librarian and some prick who wouldn't see Belle for what she was if she hit him in the face, all because of Regina's stupid curse and her stupid revenge and everyone's stupid god-forsaken everything, all of which sucked. Ruby allowed herself this moment of self-pity. Why not? She wouldn't be getting any more anytime soon. She would go out there and do what she does best; smile and wave and ask people how their families or pets are, and get hurt when some people leave upon noticing that she's still employed here, and she would let them go and take that next order. "You didn't have to do that. The burger retort thing. I know you meant well, but she didn't deserve that."
"Oh, it's not Belle I have a problem with, hon," Granny said, digging through the boxes for some more plates because a couple of immature kids (whose parents needed a good pep talk) had started a food fight earlier and broken a few. "It's the imp I don't approve of in my diner, scaring my customers and hitting on my girl's girl."
Ruby's lips curled upward. Granny's efforts to raise one's spirits weren't always efficient, but Ruby knew that no matter how detached she seemed, Gran went out of her way to make Ruby feel better. And, she noted with a melancholic giggle, the less eye contact she was making, the more worried Granny was. Which at this point meant a bloody lot, seeing as she hadn't looked Ruby in the eye since the morning.
"Granny, I'm twenty six. I can deal with one broken heart," the brunette said, a smile that never quite reached her eyes grazing her face, and she walked upstairs to change, wiping tears into the wooly sleeve of her sweater.