Logically Constance knew Aramis was hired to help her out, but if he didn’t move out of her way and stop flirting with all of the customers she was going to pour hot coffee on his arm as retribution.
She announced as such when the last ‘excuse me Aramis’ didn’t work.
Behind her someone was loudly guffawing; the kind that filled the whole coffee shop and while it was actually nice she still whirled around to glare in that person’s direction.
The scar that cross over his left eye was the first thing she noticed, followed by warm brown eyes filled with mirth; the man caught her glare and those eyes turned more apologetic, mouth turning up in a hesitate apology.
“Thought I might have to apologize to his new coworkers but didn’t think it’d be so soon.” The man’s voice was low rumble, he sheepishly scratched at his neck and glanced between Aramis and Constance.
“Porthos!” Aramis tore away from their customers to go greet his friend, awkwardly leaning over the counter to pull the man into a hug.
Constance rolled her eyes, just what she needed, another one like Aramis.
She turned to pour the coffee now that Aramis was out of the way and called out the name of who it belonged to before scurrying back over to the cash register to take the next order.
Thankfully the crowd was still pretty low as they hadn’t hit the dinner rush just yet and it moved along quickly until at the end of the line stood Porthos, with a grin that had her hiding a smile back.
“Sorry about him.” Porthos jerked his head towards Aramis.
“It’s fine,” She sighed, “Athos did warn me.”
Athos was the one who had suggested she hire Aramis, with warning of course but Constance had been desperate for help since Fleur had left for school again that she agreed, if only temporarily.
“He’s not always that bad I suppose.” She mused.
Porthos chuckled, “That’s how it starts.”
“And you?” She crossed her arms and looked at Porthos, “Are you that bad?”
Porthos shrugged, “Don’t think so.”
“Not unless he’s drunk.” Aramis yelled somewhere from the back and both Porthos and Constance shot a look in that direction.
“So can I get you anything or were you just here to distract my employee?”
“Coffee, black.” Porthos ordered after a moment and Constance turned to pour him a cup, pushing it his way across the counter.
When he reached for his wallet she shrugged it off.
“You did get Aramis out of my way, consider it on the house.”
There was the amusement in his eyes again, like there was something funny he wanted to share with Constance and Constance alone.
“What?” She blinked, confused what could be amusing. Maybe it was just how she looked with coffee grinds that she accidentally spilt on herself still flecks on her uniform and her hair sticking up under the visor she wore and the general mess she seemed to be just then.
He shrugged and then he walked away.
Aramis lasted another two weeks before they drove themselves too insane which was fine because Constance had gotten to hire Lucie and Jeanne to help her and the next few months had been smooth sailing in her shop.
She was in the back taking stock one day and keeping an ear out for any trouble at the front when she heard the bell ring and Lucie greet whoever had stepped in.
“Hello, welcome to Constant Cup- oh, Constance!” Lucie’s voice rose but it didn’t sound panicked, more sing song than anything else. “Someone’s here for you.”
Constance stepped out, a little tense with worry but relaxed when she just saw it was Porthos.
Today he wore one of his bandanas that covered his black curls completely and the brown shirt he wore was unbuttoned just enough that her gaze slipped down to follow it.
“Constance.” Porthos greeted, grinning as always.
“Porthos.” She inclined her head with a smile, “Coffee, black?”
He nodded and she poured him a cup, pushing it over his way and taking the bills he left on the counter.
“Have time to join me today?” Porthos asked, gesturing over to the table he usually sat at as he drank his coffee and read whatever book Samara had asked him to try that week.
It was amazing how much Aramis and Athos’ group of friends had situated themselves in her life. Through Porthos she came to meet Flea and Samara; the former who would point out when someone was stealing from the tip jar and the latter of whom she’d introduced to Ninon due to Samara enjoying a good debate.
She had also met d’Artagnan who’d been charming enough at their first meeting for her to agree to a date but she’d also seen the way Lucie watched him and ultimately felt that the two of them would work better.
There were so many people coming and going into her shop now she was having trouble keeping track, even Aramis would come back once a day to order something and flirt with Jeanne who dumped water on him for it, but by far her favourite repeat customer had to be Porthos.
He’d proven himself to be a wonderful conversationalist and when Constance complained about business it didn’t take long for him to catch on and sympathize with her. He had also helped her get her security system set up, being a rookie cop he knew more where to put it so there were few gaps.
“So what’s on the agenda today?” Constance asked, bringing over a plate with two muffins on them and setting it down in front of Porthos as she took her seat.
“I’ve got nightly patrol later with Athos.” Porthos shrugged, taking one of the muffins and breaking pieces off to eat.
“I suppose d’Artagnan’s patrolling with Aramis then?” Constance was a little surprised that Aramis had even chosen to do double jobs but she had heard he was trying to save up for something, “I should text him and tell him not to get pepper sprayed by Maria this time.”
There was that guffaw again, loud but filling Constance’s belly with warmth at just hearing it.
“He’ll learn. Someday. Probably end up being the best of us.”
“I love him,” Constance looked away with a smile and missed Porthos’ wince, “But he has a long way to go. Besides.” She reached over the table and rested her hand on his wrist, “I think I have the best one right in front of me.”
It never failed to amuse her to see the blush that rose on Porthos’ cheeks when she complimented him.
“Think you best look in a mirror for that.” Porthos said, shifting in his chair just a bit but the genuine sincerity in his voice made her heart quicken.
“I’m not a cop in training Porthos.”
“You could be.” Porthos grinned, no doubt thinking of the time that Jacques had stormed into her coffee shop. Her previous boyfriend had claimed she had no head for money so when she set up shop right across from him as a victory he had remained soured over it.
She had decked him when he had marched in and had not only insulted her business but Porthos sitting right next to her.
He must have assumed they were dating then, Constance wasn’t sure, she and Porthos had to be pulled away in both their anger at his insults; Porthos’ for his slight against her thriving business and Constance for his slight against Porthos.
It was nice to have someone standing up alongside her.
“Constance?” Porthos’ voice shook her from her memories, watching her with concerned eyes.
Her hand was still on his wrist and she flushed when she realized how she must have been staring at him.
“I should get back to work.” She mumbled, standing up and Porthos stood as well, reaching out to her and then stopping and pulling back.
“Thanks for stopping by Porthos.” She leaned up and pressed a kiss to his cheek, barely feeling the soft bristles of his beard as she did.
Porthos nodded, watching her head back to work without a word.
“You know he’s possibly in love with you, coming in here every day and looking at you like you’re the sun.” Flea’s acerbic tone never faltered and Constance rolled her eyes.
“Are you ordering or not?”
“Depends, will I get free food on the house like he does?”
“Out of my shop, Flea.”
“You have to tell her,” Aramis declared loudly as he and Porthos entered that day and then seemed to catch on that it was too loud, smoothing his moustache down and waving people off.
Constance furrowed her brow, trying to catch Porthos’ eyes to ask him what was going on.
He avoided her gaze the whole time and took the coffee to go.
She swallowed the disappointment down at that and told Lucie to watch the front, stepping towards the back and wondering if something had gone wrong.
“Porthos!” It was rare to see Constance outside of her shop but the sight of her in red and purple summer dress made Porthos smile all the same.
“Constance, off today?”
“I figured Lucie and Jeanne could watch the shop, plus Fleur’s back for vacation.” Constance stepped up next to Porthos, digging into the bag she was carrying, “I fixed your bandana by the way, you left it on the counter when you left in a hurry the other day and I saw it was ripped.”
Awkwardly she held it out to him, taking a deep breath, “Is everything all right Porthos? I haven’t seen you around lately, or at least not for more than a minute at a time.”
“We’ve been busy.” Porthos was shifting slightly again, tugging on his shirt and it was the telltale sign something was making him uncomfortable and that something was probably her.
“Porthos.” Constance put her hands on her hips, the bandana still clenched in her hand, “What on earth is going on?”
“Constance,” He sighed her name out, looking away like he was about to tell her a lie and that just made her angrier.
“Don’t ‘Constance’ me, Porthos.” She stepped up into his personal space, so close he’d have to look at her. “I want to know what’s going on and I want to know now.”
The problem with Porthos is that he wanted to he could be stubborn; the problem with that was that Constance could outlast him in that regards and he knew it.
She could see the fight on his face and the struggle with what to tell her and softened her gaze, reaching up to rest one hand on his cheek.
“Why don’t we talk about this over coffee?”
Porthos relaxed only a little, nodding and turning towards her shop down the street but she caught his arm.
“Maybe coffee out of town. Elsewhere, with dinner.” She slid her fingers down until they rested against his. “And I think for all this not talking you owe me a movie now too.”
“You sure you wouldn’t want to with d’Artagnan? He’s free…” The thing about Porthos was that even if he was a little jealous all he wanted was the people around him to be happy so there was nothing but sincerity in his voice and Constance shook her head, looking down.
“Yes but he’s not the one I’m hoping will take me home tonight.”
She held her breath waiting for Porthos to answer and when she peeked a look upwards she nearly sighed in relief to see the amusement in his eyes again instead of the storm cloud that had been brewing there the last few weeks.
“You’re not on shift tonight.” She pointed out, “I checked.”
Porthos was grinning now and Constance slowly grinned back, reaching up to wind her arms around his neck.
“Pothos du Vallon if you don’t kiss me and take me out on a date right now I’ll be forced to never serve you a cup of coffee again.”So he did; soft and tentative at first and it was new territory after all, but they’d stumble through it together.