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Fanfic / Just a Normal Coffee Shop

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Just a Normal Coffee Shop is a Steven Universe fanfic written by airamcg, Completely Different, CoreyWW, and FourFaces. It can be found on Archive of Our Own right here and on right here.


The plot relies heavily on the mystery of what exactly makes the Coffee Shop NOT normal, so much that it would be difficult to list any of the tropes appearing in the work without discussing spoilers for the later chapters.


Just Some Normal Trope Examples:

  • A Glitch in the Matrix: While many of the characters had begun noticing a serious sense of deja-vu, the things which really trigger Steven to realize what's wrong is a) most of his photographs having pitch-black backgrounds and b) discovering that Peridot and Lapis have inhuman skin-colours and giant gems embedded in their bodies, helping him remember they're not human.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Technically, the Room is only doing what it's told: Create a coffee shop where they could reenact scenes from Lapis's favorite show Buddies. The Room is also supposed to make everyone happy.
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  • Amnesia Loop: Every time the room resets, it resets the characters' memories too. However, it gets less effective each time, with people gradually recalling more.
  • Amnesiac Resonance: Despite the Room's influence, the true nature of the Gems sometimes slips into their words and actions.
  • Arc Words: "It was Monday, June 19th."
    • Everything Is Fine
  • Author Appeal: Since a good portion of the writers are tropers, some of their favorite tropes are bound to pop up.
    • The fic explores a variety of ships since most of the authors are multishippers
    • The detailed descriptions about the food and drinks
    • Hidden and/or coded messages in Chapter 15 and 21
  • Cargo Ship: Amethyst and Peridot's inanimate gem (since Peridot had been poofed in the previous chapter)
  • Chekhov's Gun: Steven's cellphone, Connie's training dufflebag
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  • College AU: plus Coffee Shop AU is how the story starts out. Spoiler: It's not really an AU.
  • Deconstruction Fic: of the Fridge Horror of Rose's Room (both the episode and the room itself)
  • Déjà Vu: Everyone gradually gets the feeling they've done all this before.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: In the Lapis chapter, the name of the coffee shop is The Coffee Shop.
  • Evolving Story Tags: On AO3, new tags are added to reflect the latest update.
    • Most notable is "Not Actually an AU", which was added with the flashback chapter revealing what was really going on.
  • Fake Memories: Everyone has false memories of human lives, which nonetheless have a lot of inconsistencies. Garnet, Ruby and Sapphire get hit the worst, with the exact relationship they have to each other constantly shifting since the room can't find a proper human equivalent to "fused into a single being".
  • Food Porn: Given that the setting is supposedly a coffee shop, some of the descriptions can get very detailed.
    • Steven's hot chocolate in Chapter 1: Sweet, rich, creamy, with a delicious drizzling of syrup and cinnamon on top
    • Pearl's cinnamon tea and apple pie in Chapter 3
      As the dark steaming liquid swirled inside the porcelain, the fragrance of cinnamon wafted to her nose. Mixed with the sweet aroma of apple pie, it was simply divine and Pearl couldn't help the dreamy, almost obscene sigh that left her lips. She then grabbed her fork, carefully stabbing the tip of the pie. It was a delight to hear the crust crunch as the tines sank into it, and then watch the filling ooze out as she brought the fork further down, breaking a piece off. Ah, such decadence!
  • Foreshadowing: The various inconsistencies in the early chapters hint that things are not quite what they seem in this Coffee Shop AU way before the reveal:
    • The confusion whether Greg is Steven's dad or roommate.
    • Steven enrolling in college at 12 years old.
    • Fancy drinks cost only 25 cents.
    • The time changing on Steven's phone is the earliest hint that the "loops" happening are not quite time loops
    • Steven's "usual order" changing every loop, but he is always given hot chocolate
    • The weather is always different, and gets very strange considering it's supposed to be June in Delmarva. Special mentions go to snowfall, a typhoon, and rapid flip-flopping between ice cold and sweltering heat.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: Or 'Woodchuck Day Loop', as Peridot calls it.
  • Hive Mind: Any fusions in the simulation form one with their components, such as Garnet/Ruby/Sapphire and Steven/Connie/Stevonnie.
  • Idiosyncratic Chapter Naming: They're named after drinks or somehow related to drinks and drinking. The few exceptions are notable for having major reveals, such as the flashback chapter being simply titled, "Sunday, June 18th".
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: With all the characters suffering from repeating memory loss, and trapped somewhere that actively alters their perception of reality, it can be tricky to figure out what's happening.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Lapis in particular has the more painful traumas actively wiped from her memories in the room's attempt to keep her happy.
  • Local Hangout: The titular Coffee Shop, which has a different name every loop
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: Peridot's modifications to Rose's Room turned it into a variation of this
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Pearl's attempt to eat pie, due to the Room's influence. She stops herself in time, but is left very confused about the whole ordeal.
    • At the beginning, Connie is very passive, never asking questions, and has no real opinions of her own. Turns out she was a Cloud Connie. She disappears when the real Connie shows up later in the fic.
  • Mood Whiplash: A good portion of the chapters start out cute and fluffy but end with some unsettling reveals.
    • Chai Tea (chapter 5) starts with some sweet Pearlmethyst only to end up with Pearl seriously hurting Amethyst's feelings to the point Amethyst yells and walks out on her.
    • Most of Chapter 15 has Amethyst awkwardly trying to flirt and ask Peridot out, which would have been cute except 1) Peridot was poofed last chapter so Ame is flirting with an inanimate gemstone; 2) The Room keeps glitching in and out of the simulation; 3) We get a glimpse of what happens whenever a loop resets, and it's not pretty.
  • Painting the Fourth Wall: Any thoughts directly inserted by the room are shown in pink, and have a different font.
  • Pun:
    • Some of the names of the Coffee Shop: "Bean There, Done That", "Central Perk", "Deja Brew"
    • The cheesy pick up lines Ruby and Sapphire exchange in one chapter also count
    • At one point, Steven is said to be taking up a Doctorate in Punology
  • Shout-Out
  • Signature Style: It's possible to know who was the main writer of a chapter based on writing style.
  • Switching P.O.V.: Except for Chapter 2 (which switches mid-chapter), every chapter is told from a different character's POV
  • Unreliable Narrator: with some shades of Unreliable Expositor, given that every POV is under the Room's influence