Yennefer exhales slowly through pursed lips as she pulls up to DeVries Farms, parking her car in the wide gravel lot. There are a few other vehicles here already: employees, she supposes, and the owner himself. T. DeVries had been 'happy to oblige' when she had asked for a tour of the farms, but the truth is she's always a little on edge when it comes to meeting new people, and she's got a LOT on her plate—no pun intended. There are the loans to finalise, the menus to organise, the furniture and decor to sort… She knew expanding the business from a solitary food truck to a brick and mortar location would take a lot of work, and she's still undaunted by the task, but she's definitely looking forward to being done with it all. Hopefully in a few hours, she will be able to scratch 'Source produce' off the seemingly endless list of things she's scrambling madly to get done.
She steps out of the car and wanders over to the only human being in sight: a slight woman who appears to be using the panel of a small tractor as a writing surface. She's wearing work boots, her jeans appear to be comfortably worn in, and her blue and white plaid button-up is neatly tucked in. Her brown hair hangs down to her shoulder blades in a loose plait, and a wide-brimmed hat is angled back on her head.
The woman glances over at Yennefer as she finishes whatever it is she's doing, folding a sheet of paper to tuck it and the pen into her breast pocket as she moves a few steps in Yennefer's direction.
"Hi," Yennefer says lamely—very lamely, because now that the woman's facing her, it's plain to see she's stunning. Sharp cheekbones and a strong jaw belie the overall delicate look of her face. Strange. Her eyes are pale, her lips curled upward at the corners even though she's not smiling. The clefts at the tip of her chin and below her nose are devastatingly pronounced. "I'm, ah. Here for a tour?" she adds when she has gathered her wits about her.
The woman does smile now, a little subdued but damned if it couldn't still light up a room. She holds out her hand and Yennefer takes it. Her grip is strong, her hands rough with work.
"You must be Yennefer, then? Tissaia DeVries."
Wait. Wait. This is T. DeVries? Why is her voice so sexy? Why is she so sexy? Why isn't she a hulking brute of a middle-aged white man?
Is she sweating? Yennefer's pretty sure she's sweating.
Tissaia arches an eyebrow, her hand still in Yennefer's; Yen can't quite seem to bring herself to let go in her shock. "Something wrong?"
"Oh! No! Wow." Smooth. A second narrow brow rises to join the first. "I, uh, think I was expecting… you know. A very burly man."
There's a split second of silence, and then Tissaia laughs—quietly, nothing over the top, but the way it lights her face up makes Yennefer weak in the knees.
"I get that a lot."
"Well, it doesn't do you any justice," Yennefer says before she can bite her tongue. Fuck.
Tissaia has finally freed her hand from Yennefer's grip, and offers something rather like a smirk in reply. "People don't take women in my line of work as seriously as men. The anonymity can be useful. Shall we?"
Tissaia can show her every nook and cranny of this place if it takes three days for all Yennefer cares, as long as she gets to look and listen. Obviously this is not an option, but Yennefer takes what she can get.
Tissaia seems genuinely interested in her plans for the restaurant, and it's remarkably easy to spill ideas to her. It's all logistics, really: Tissaia nods along, informs Yennefer what ingredients she'll need to source elsewhere, and otherwise is as raptly attentive to Yennefer as Yennefer is to her.
A few hours later, Yennefer is indeed confident that she can check an item off her to-do list. But more importantly, she's quite sure this business arrangement is going to be an enjoyable one.
The day of the grand opening, Yennefer can't keep her mind from wandering through a mental checklist of the seasonal veg Tissaia had said would be coming in over the next couple of months. She's brainstorming recipes while she tosses freshly washed greens in an oversized bowl, and thinking about what she can rotate on and off of the menu while she slices radishes.
Gods, she's not even been open a day and she's already thinking about what to take off the menu!
Mostly though, she's thinking about Tissaia DeVries and how to go about getting another face to face meeting.
Tissaia prefers to handle the business side of things herself, and she prefers to do it over the phone.
Neither of these things is a problem for Yennefer, who suddenly also prefers to handle inventory herself, and not via email.
Only with DeVries Farms though, if she's calling a spade a spade. Tissaia's voice is just like that. A smooth alto with something thoroughly gravelly underneath, and on the occasion she speaks in her lower register Yennefer just about comes undone. Yes, like any good millennial she despises the phone, but she'd call Tissaia three times a day if she could find a reason to do so just to hear her voice.
The calls gradually grow longer—not all the time, but enough that there's a clear trend. Over the next few months, Yennefer learns that Tissaia not only runs her own farm, but has also spearheaded three urban farming initiatives in the area. She's passionate about it too, and she has a right to be. Such things tend to fly under the radar, but Yennefer does a little digging and finds the website is neatly organised and there are details on how to volunteer.
She visits all three locations, because why shouldn't she? They take donations of compost along with the more physical volunteer work, and Yen is impressed by how amazing the gardens look.
They arrange for pickups and dropoffs of compostable scraps, and with Tissaia’s blessing have some posters made advertising that the used coffee grounds go straight to the urban farms for composting: 'Our grounds to your grounds.' People ask questions from time to time, and Yen keeps business cards with contact information for each of the farms as well as the website for just such occasions.
She keeps the menu rotating as the café gains traction, and watches her business grow from a small but popular food truck to a well-patronised shop with a delightful swath of regulars who are always happy to try the soup of the week.
Six months in, she gets a call from one of the smaller newspapers asking for an interview. Her success has gained media attention, and… well, what's she supposed to do? Say no? She's done a couple of brief q&a's before now, but nothing like this. This is too good an opportunity to pass up.
The interviewer asks questions about the business and Yennefer's background, then moves on to her passion for sustainability and clean eating; the cafe's foundation is organic, locally-grown and responsibly-sourced food, after all, and Yennefer would be pretty put off if they didn't highlight that fact. The coffee, tea, chocolate, quinoa, it's all fair trade, and she's even met a handful of the farmers in person; she likes to know who she's working with, always preferred a more boots on the ground approach to that aspect of her business.
"Our newest supplier is DeVries Farms," she tells the reporter while discussing the growth from roadside food truck with coffee, tea, smoothies, and pastries to a proper eatery with soups,salads, and sandwiches as well. "Pretty much all the veg comes from there. Honestly, the best tomatoes I've ever tasted. And Tissaia—er, the owner—she's a joy to work with and a truly phenomenal person. She laid the groundwork for three urban farming initiatives in the area, which, if you haven't heard of them you should definitely check them out. Her knowledge and expertise and support are helping provide access to fresh produce to under-served parts of the community and combating the local food deserts." Well, now she's talking about urban farming and she can't stop. Which. A good cause, but she keeps bringing Tissaia up as well, and does Tissaia even want to be in the spotlight like this? She didn't rehearse this! She just can't keep Tisaaia's name out of her mouth!
Better to ask forgiveness than permission?
"You seem to be quite a fan of Ms. DeVries' work," the interviewer asks wryly after several minutes.
The nervous laugh that leaves Yennefer in reply is foreign in her ears.
"She's erm. A smart woman. And she really looks out for people, you know? She's beautiful—I mean—" Fuck! "—Just this great, generous spirit, you know?" Nice save, Yennefer. "Anyway, that's why twenty percent of our profits at the café will be going to the urban farming initiative in future."
Yep, she's going to die now.
The article is run, thankfully with most of Yennefer’s more embarrassing blunders cut out, and she's pretty sure it doesn't read like she's just confessed her undying love for Tissaia DeVries, so that's good, right?
Unfortunately, she finds Triss and Jaskier—her friends and her original employees from the food truck days—laughing gleefully over the article and some of the phrasing. Granted, they've been teasing her for her extended chats with Tissaia for weeks, but like… rude, much?
Exactly one week after the article is published, Yen is building a sandwich in the back when a familiar voice asks for her by name.
Oh. Oh shit.
It's an open kitchen, though not always with the best view of the shop, and Yennefer doesn't spot Tissaia until she actually looks for her. Triss comes back with an absolutely giddy look and shoos Yennefer unceremoniously away from the sandwich to take over for her, sticking her tongue out at Yennefer as she dons a pair of gloves.
Triss has never seen Tissaia before, but she plainly has her suspicions. Is nothing private around here?
Tissaia isn't in her farm attire, but she still looks the part well enough. The knee-high boots have been exchanged for sleek brown booties, the work-stained, worn-in jeans for a set that hug her hips and backside more closely but look just as comfortably worn. The plaid button-up too is gone, in its place a crisp white shirt, still neatly tucked into her jeans, a dark brown belt neatly buckled at her waist.
Notably, her hair is down, framing her face in stunning chestnut waves that make all of her features that much softer.
So like, what would happen if Yennefer kissed her?
Of course she does not do this, because she knows what boundaries are. Instead, she greets Tissaia with a shy 'hi,' and hopes that her ogling isn't too obvious.
She's carrying a small sack, but Yen resists the temptation to ask what it is.
"What brings you here?"
The corner of Tissaia's mouth twitches upward; Yennefer swallows. "Well. I thought it was time I taste the fruits of my labour, so to speak. Besides, I have a gift for you."
Yennefer blinks in confusion as Tissaia places the small, but heavy looking sack on the counter. The low thud of glass on wood confirms her suspicion. "A… a gift?"
"I never congratulated you for your opening. But admittedly, it's mostly thanks for the positive attention for the urban farms." Oh. "People forget they exist, and without the community, all they are is patches of soil and weeds. You wouldn't believe the amount of community interest and support that's been pouring in since that article went out. If even a few families or individuals stick with it, it will have an enormous impact."
"Wow. Um, okay. I don't really know what to say." Smooth.
"You say enough," Tissaia says, eyes glittering with… mischief?
Yennefer blinks in surprise, but shakes herself back to her senses when Tissaia pushes the gift a bit closer to her.
She obediently reaches into the sack, carefully pulling out the heavy jar. And… it's honey, a dyed-teal raffia bow tied around the neck, a generous chunk of honeycomb settled at the bottom of the jar.
"Two of the farms have hives," Tissaia explains. Yennefer remembers seeing them, nods in understanding. "I hope local, urban honey appeals."
"Yes, absolutely!" Yennefer lifts the jar up to the light, admiring the colour, then slips back to the back for a couple of tasting spoons. "Here." She offers one out to Tissaia, who merely arches a brow at first.
"I've had it, Yennefer."
"Don't care. Partake with me." A waggle of her eyebrows makes Tissaia press her lips into a thin line to suppress a laugh.
Yennefer wrestles the jar open, and they dip the tips of their spoons into the smooth surface of the honey. And it tastes wonderful, of course, and Yennefer is thinking of all the things she can do with this honey. Have it in tea and over crumpets, make pastries…
Tissaia's eyes are still twinkling when she offers the spoon back to Yennefer, tongue and teeth chasing a bit of honey off her lower lip, and dear gods Yennefer could like, probably die happy in this moment.
"It's amazing," she manages to say when she wrenches her gaze away from Tisaaia's mouth. "Thank you."
"You're very welcome."
After that, Tissaia becomes a fixture around the shop, slipping in early in the morning for coffee and pain au chocolat, or in the evening for a bowl of soup or whatever Yennefer's latest creation is. She's one of the first taste-testers for the chicken sausage and kale soup Yen's been working on, and her eyes flutter shut while the spoon is still in her mouth.
"That's amazing," she says when she sees Yennefer’s look of mixed awe and inquiry. "Really."
Yennefer doesn't let Tissaia pay for her food. The problem is, Tissaia is insistent. It turns out, however, that that problem isn't really even a problem, because Tissaia simply drops the notes she would have spent on her food and drink of choice into the tip jar on the counter, which delights Triss and Jaskier and the other employees, so Yennefer isn't complaining.
Whenever she can, Yennefer steps out to speak to her for a few minutes, and over the weeks and months the visits become longer and more frequent, and the phone calls become more personal. Triss and Jaskier tease her ruthlessly and make ridiculous doe eyes when Tissaia enters the shop. At this point, they're going so far as to casually inform Yennefer that her girlfriend is here when they spot her outside. Which is ridiculous! They're not girlfriends! They're… business partners with, er, a healthy dose of blushing and veiled innuendo?
Okay, so maybe… maybe…
Tissaia has taken up her usual seat in the back corner of the dining area when Yennefer circles out of the kitchen and over to her side. Tissaia stands to greet her; Yennefer typically has a joke about chivalry for this ridiculous formality, but today… Today she can't stand it anymore, so she decides once again that it's better to ask forgiveness as she closes the distance between them and seals her lips over Tissaia's without a second thought.
Tissaia makes a quiet noise of surprise, but half a second later her fingertips are on Yennefer’s pulse point and she's kissing back, a sigh ghosting across Yennefer's lips.
"Oi! Get a room!"
She hasn't quite finished processing what Jaskier said, she's so caught up in the kiss, when a small projectile hits her painlessly in the arm, another in the hip.
"What—" Tissaia cuts herself off, glancing downward at the same time as Yennefer to see the generous handful of carrot tops scattered across the floor.
"Hey! Those are for broth, not target practice!" Distracted by the tomfoolery, Yen pulls away from Tissaia to make off after Jaskier—but a hand on her arm steadies her, dragging her back.
Yennefer turns obediently to see Tissaia moving half a step closer. And how can she say no to that? She closes the distance again, Tissaia's hands framing her face, and nibbles shamelessly at Tissaia's lower lip in this empty corner of the shop until Tissaia rises up on her toes to deepen the kiss.
When Tissaia withdraws again, they're both a little breathless, and Yennefer realises they have gravitated all the closer to each other, bodies pressed almost flush. Tissaia is wonderfully soft and strong in her arms, and it's all Yennefer can do not to let her hands go roaming in ways they shouldn't. She rests one hand between Tissaia's shoulder blades, feeling the movement of her when she shifts, toying with a bit of Tissaia's impossibly soft hair with the other. A shiver runs all the way down Yennefer’s spine when Tissaia tilts her chin upward, a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth.
"I believe," she says, soft and low, her voice intoxicating in Yennefer's ears, "we may find... expanding our partnership to be mutually beneficial." She has her arms stretched out over Yennefer's shoulders now, body arched slightly against her, and Yennefer moves to hold her that much closer, relishing in the warmth of her body.
"You have a great deal of sense, Ms. DeVries," she growls, nudging her nose against Tissaia's with a grin. Oh she could get used to this. "I'm inclined to agree."