Michele was immediately hit with the sweet scent of his freshly baked croissants and he hummed appreciatively as he took them out of the oven. He didn't need to taste them to know that they were perfect and just smiled with satisfaction. The last batch was out of the oven. Today was going to be a good day.
It was a Saturday morning one of Michele's favorite days to open the bakery shop he co-owned with his twin sister. He opened up shop around noon meaning that he had plenty of time to sleep in and come in well rested.
The doorbells chimed over the door signaling the arrival of the first customer of the day. Michele stood at attention at the counter with his usual neutral expression. He hated faking smiles for the sake of sales so he never did. He let his pastries talk for themselves and judging by his steady flow of customers he'd say that they're doing pretty great so far.
He silently watched as a young man made his way towards the counter panting heavily as though had been running and felt a sudden feeling of deja vu. He got the eerie feeling that he had met before. But where he couldn't remember.
He was very handsome first of all with his light brown hair and neatly trimmed beard. But there was something awfully familiar about the way his blue eyes narrowed as his eyes roamed over the pastries on display. And the way he scratched his beard just sent a ripple recognition like he had seen it all before. But Michele knew for a fact he hadn't because he had a ridiculous good memory when it came to recognizing faces especially when they were so this handsome. Michele blinked. Did he just think that?
"Um hi hello," the young man greeted running his hand sheepishly through his messy hair. "I'm here to buy some pastry for someone who I'm sure is pretty mad at me for being late to soften the blow of their inevitable rage. Do you think you can help me out?"
Michele frowned as he tried to fight back a smile. Usually people didn't provide this much information when they were buying pastries from him. "Sure. What's the name of their favorite pastry?"
The guy scratched his neck sheepishly. "Well you see that's sorta the problem. I don't exactly remember what it's called." Michele must have pulled a face because the guy was suddenly flailing his hands. "Bu-but wait! I'm pretty sure I recall what it looked like! Give me a few minutes around the shop and I'm sure I'll pick it out right away," he said confidently.
Michele highly doubted it conducted the amount of pastries that shared high resemblance but tasted completely different. But who was he to tell him he was wrong? As they say the customers are always right. Besides he was interested in seeing how disastrously this go wrong. "Please go ahead."
"Thank you!" The guy beamed at him a brilliant smile that Michele couldn't help but think that he had seen countless times before. He rubbed his temples.
Michele watched as the guy ducked down so he was eye level with the displays and seriously looked around as he searched for the pastry he was looking for. He kept humming under his breath a familiar tune that Michele couldn't quite catch as he swept his eyes around the shop and Michele got that feeling again like he had met before. Michele determinedly shook it off.
For someone who was supposedly late he didn't seem to be in a hurry and just carefully surveyed the displays in deep thought as he rubbed his beard. It took him quite some time to find the pastry he was looking for. A couple of customers come and went giving the weird man squatting besides the displays a wide berth and weird looks. But he finally settled on one triumphantly pointing at it as he called Michele over. "It's this one! I'm sure of it!"
Michele gave him a skeptical look. "Are you? Not a lot of people like that them. The only reason we keep selling them is because my sister really likes them."
"Yes I'm," he insisted but then he hesitated. "But just in case can I get a sample? Just so I can be sure it's the right one?"
"Of course," Michele replied getting him one. Be my guest.
The guy took the sample from Michele's hands the brush of their hands sending a jolt of electricity through his body and they froze for a moment staring into each other's eyes. And Michele wondered what it was about the color blue that made it so mesmerizing. "Here you go," he said his lips suddenly dry.
The guy startled snapping out of his sudden daze and smiled. "Thank you," he replied earnestly in a whisper like they were sharing a secret. He kept smiling as he held eye contact and bit into his sample and chewed only to immediately double over and pant. "Hot! Oh its hot! So hOT!"
Now a lesser person would have just laughed and just watched him burn but Michele just snickered not so subtly under his breath and went and fetched him a glass of water which the guy immediately downed before saying with a croaked voice and tears in his eyes. "I forgot they were so hot. That's definitely them. Two to go please."
That just made Michele laugh harder. He couldn't help it. There was just something really funny about the way he said it he couldn't stop laughing.
"I'm happy that my pain amuses you," but there was no venom in his voice. He was just genuinely smiling as he watched Michele double over with laughter and waited for him to finish and start bagging his order. "You have a nice laugh."
Michele abruptly stopped and stared at him blushing hard. He had heard those exact words before. There was just no mistaking. He didn't when and by whom but he was certain with every fiber in his being that he had heard those exact words before. They had met before but why couldn't he remember exactly when? Could he really have just forgotten? He needed to know.
Before Michele had a chance to ask the guy glanced at the clock and let a gasp. "Bože! She's gonna kill me!" He gave Michele a frantic look. "I'm sorry but could you hurry up with the order because I'm afraid if I stay here another minute I'm going to be a dead man."
"Of course," Michele replied and hastily bagged his order as the guy slammed way too much money on the counter.
"Keep the change!" The guy called as he started to walk away.
"Wait!" Michele called out after him despite himself panicked. The guy stopped with his hand on the door to stare back with a questioning look on his face. "Have we... met somewhere before?" Michele hesitantly asked.
The guy tilted his head to one side considering it his eyes sweeping over Michele. "Michele was it?" Michele nodded suddenly unable to breath under his intense stare. Some part of him utterly exposed and naked despite the fact that he was fully dressed standing behind a counter.
"No," he finally said and Michele was surprised at the sudden disappointment he felt. Like he was expecting him to feel it too. The disorienting feeling that they had met before.
Instead he just determinedly shook his head and said. "I definitely would have remembered meeting someone as beautiful as you."
Michele hadn't expected that and neither did he expect the dashing enticing smile that the stranger gave him and sent his heart racing. "I'm Emil by the way, nice to meet you. I feel like we'll become good friends. Wish me luck."
And then he opened the door without waiting for a reply and left. leaving a gaping Michele alone in the shop with a stuttering heart and blushing cheeks.
Michele leaned his head on the counter and whispered ever so quietly to himself. "What the fuck?"
After that Emil did everything in his power to ensure that they became the best of friends. He told Michele he felt a connection between them. Not the same connection Michele felt that's for sure. Especially considering that they were no more than friends. He had a beautiful girlfriend of five years Michele later learned. Her name was Mila and when Sara met her for the first time she became fast friends meaning that Michele had to hear a lot of her in both his personal and professional lives. It was unbearable. He had nothing against the woman. It was just that she had something that he could never have so he couldn't help but hate her no matter how unjust that hatred that was. And he hated himself from it.
"Mickey!" Emil exclaimed unabashedly as he draped his arm around Michele's shoulders. "I just closed this best deal for my company aren't you happy for me?"
They were at an impromptu party at the bakery Sara, his twin sister had decided to throw together for this deal Emil closed plus a new fashion line Mila, Emil's girlfriend, had recently launched. Why they were having this party at his shop he had no idea. Especially considering how heavily it was raining outside.
The party was drawing to a close and there were only five people left. Michele, Emil, Mila, Sara and her fiancé Leo. Michele feeling like the fifth wheel that he was had retreated to the kitchen in the hope of getting away from the disgusting couples especially how his sister and her fiancé were shamelessly making out right in front of him. But of course Emil just had to find him the person he least wanted to see.
"Good for you, congratulations," Michele said as he tried to get him off of him.
Emil was smiling but then it faded. "You aren't happy," he noted and his hold on Michele slackened. "Is there something wrong?"
"No," Yes. "Besides that doesn't matter. Tonight is your night. Only your happiness matters."
"My happiness, huh?" Emil slid to the floor and he suddenly fell silent lost in thought. Michele sat down beside him concerned and was about to ask himwhat was wrong when he suddenly opened his mouth and said. "Mickey do you ever think about commitments?"
Michele frowned puzzled. "Where did that come from?"
"Nowhere," Emil hesitated. "It's just something I've been thinking about lately... Mickey... do you ever have doubts and fears?"
When Michele met his gaze they were filled with so much emotions, the strongest of them being despair that he decided he answer him truthfully. "Yes, yes I do," Emil let out a shuddering breath raked with relief that clawed at his soul. But he wasn't finished. "Before I opened the shop I wasn't sure how it'd go. I doubted myself a lot and feared that I'd fail. It was a big commitment to make because I knew if I failed I could lose everything. But I still did it because I realized not trying was worse than failing. Because I'd be failing to lose my dream. So I tried because even if I failed I still would have managed to fulfill my dream even if just for a little while."
The despair had subsided from his gaze and they had gained their usual warm hue that Michele had come to love. "So you regret nothing?" He was smiling again and Michele loved that too.
That I didn't meet you sooner. "Not about this obviously," Michele mirrored his smile.
"You really have grown changed since I first met you," Emil laughed. "Now you actually know to give a heartfelt speech," he clasped Michele's cheek his eyes suddenly growing serious. "But really. Thank you. I really needed that."
Michele suddenly noticed how close they were and wondered if he was the only one feeling the spark of electricity that went between and how much the kitchen suddenly heated up. He was adamantly staring at Emil sky blue eyes that he was sure that the way they momentarily flickered towards his own lips was no illusion and his heart suddenly hammering in his chest and swell with just a tiny bit of hope.
But that hope was quickly shattered along with his heart when Mila stumbled drunkenly into kitchen looking for Emil. "Oh there you are, Boyfriend! Come on we need to go! It's getting late."
Right. He was her boyfriend. Not his to have. Michele got a bad taste in his mouth and was suddenly filled with shame as pushed Emil's hand off his face. He spared Emil a glance who had a look Michele couldn't quite decipher but it quickly vanished and was replaced by his usual goofy smile and hugged Michele goodbye and then he was gone.
The next time Michele saw him was when he told him about his engagement and asked him to bake his wedding cake. That was coincidentally also when Michele learned what true heartbreak was.
"How do I look?" Sara asked as she twirled in front of a mirror her dress a swirling mess of green and white.
"Why does it matter?" Michele asked exasperated from where he was seated in a chair by the door wearing a tuxedo. "You aren't the bride. This isn't your wedding."
"I'm a bridesmaid," Sara huffed. "Which is almost just as important."
"You look exquisite," Leo reassured as he took her hands in his. His hair sleeked back and combed for the occasion and he too wore a tuxedo for the occasion. Sara smiled appreciatively at him and softly kissed and said. "Thank you, amore."
Michele gagged at their affections. "He's only saying that because he has to marry you."
Sara glared daggers but Michele just ignored it. He knew he was being a pain in the ass but that was the only way he could hide his pain. The last thing he needed was breaking down at his best friend's wedding. That would be humiliating not to mention unacceptable.
A little girl poked her head through the door staring pointedly at Sara. "The bride needs you."
"Well I need to go, behave yourself you two," Sara gave them both a look one that lingered on an especially long time on Michele before she went out.
"It's a happy occasion," Leo said. "You should be too."
"Yes it is," Michele lied and wondered if he'd be able to fake a smile.
He smiled at Leo and when he just grimaced back he thought maybe not.
When Emil had come to Michele asking him to be his best man he had strongly refused saying that he'd be too busy with the shop and baking the best cake ever for him to have time to be his best man. In truth he had just wanted to be the least affiliated with the wedding as possible. Emil of course hadn't taken it well but he had to respect Michele's wishes and backed off. In turn he had insisted that he sit closest to the front and Michele gladly took the offer so long he didn't have to stand beside the man he might love as he said his vows to another person.
What he didn't expect was to be grabbed by Emil when he was making his way to his seat and back into the hallway.
"Emil what are you doing?" Michele reprimanded as he ripped his hand out of Emil's grip feeling the familiar erratic beating whenever he was near accompanied by ache. "Your wedding is about to start."
"I know I know!" Emil said his voice an octave too high sounding anything but calm. "It's just I'm panicking. I feel like I'm making a mistake! Am I making a mistake Mickey? If I'm making a mistake now it's the time to tell me!"
"Emil," Michele said in his softest voice as he gently clasped Emil's cheek the same he did all those nights ago before his engagement. His chest fluttered with hope as he stared into his lovely eyes and wondered if this was god giving him one last time to admit to these feelings that has been buried in his chest for this long. But as much as he wanted to he couldn't be the one making this decision. Whether this wedding was happening or not. It was all up to Emil.
So he said in his best impression of a vague but wise book character. "Only you would know that. It's not for me to decide," he sounded stupid even in his own ears.
"Well certainly don't know now," Emil said annoyed obviously not buying his cheap book character impression not that Michele had had that much faith in it to begin with. "Otherwise I wouldn't be asking you."
So instead Michele asked something that he had wanted to ask ever since he met Mila. "Do you really love her?"
And in that moment any hope that Emil could have and would ever love him vanished from Michele's mind as he stared at the intensity of the love in Emil's eyes and the pieces of his shattered that he had so carefully reassembled shattered once more into even tinier pieces. They weren't meant to be. No matter how much he loved him and no matter how much he wished for him return those feelings it simply wasn't going to happen. They just weren't meant to be and they never would.
"Of course," Emil croaked.
"Then that's your answer," Michele said pushing past Emil refusing to show him the prickle of tears in his eyes.
He silently wiped his few tears and tried to find a seat.
He found one beside his future brother-in-law, Leo and sat down. It was then he suddenly remembered everything. It all just came flooding back. It was like until that moment there had been an invisible block in his brain keeping all the memories, keeping him from remembering and now it was gone and it was disastrous.
Michele Crispino? I have admired you for so long. It's very nice to finally meet you.
Is it okay if I call you Mickey too?
Mickey! You were wonderful!
Let's go to a club, Mickey!
Mickey, you were so good on the ice today as always! So tenacious and beautiful!
I love you Mickey
Wanna skate a duet together?
Michele Crispino, miláčku, láska, love of my life, will you marry me? Till death do us apart?
It was in that moment Michele realized that no they hadn't just met before. No they had met before in previous lives, both as renown figure skaters fallen in love, gotten engaged and then married. It was in that moment that Michele realized that they had been soulmates all along reincarnated former lovers once more as strangers. It was in that moment he realized that standing at that altar kissing another woman was the love of his life, his soulmate, and he could do absolutely nothing about. Because he could do nothing about it.
"Dude, are you crying?" Leo asked surprised as he stared at Michele with what seemed like horror.
"It's a happy occasion," Michele lied as he let his tears freely fall. "I'm just... happy."
He smiled his most brightest and fakest of smiles as he the teeny tiny bits of his already shattered heart disintegrate into nothing.