Seeking the fine differences between luck, chance, destiny, and fate is awfully difficult for a few people, especially when they don't believe in them. Some people say fate is a dictator, and so they rely on chance. Some people say that chance is too unpredictable, and so they believe in destiny. Some people say that destiny is the same as fate, but some people believe it's not. Some people say that believing in luck guarantees better chance, but some people believe it's fate. Thousands and thousands of people all over the world form groups dedicated to these beliefs—all because of the one mark that appears on their tenth birthdays.
Sabo has convinced himself long ago that while all concepts do matter and work together in the strangest of ways, choice is a much better option. After all, he has a younger brother whose unpredictability caters odd groups of friends, a carefree life, and a protective lover whose trust and love in him never wavers. He himself has a wonderful lover whose reasoning matches his, and a large family as supportive as his own, no matter how disastrously quirky they all are. In all sentimentality, he claims that life is as perfect as it can be, except he has a lingering thought.
It started when Marco invited him to go eat at a café they haven't visited before.
"Heard there's a café near your foster mother's flower shop, Sab," said Marco when he was cleaning dishes after a nice dinner.
"Oh? How come we missed it? We never miss a restaurant," Sabo looked at him questioningly from the table, a kitchen cloth in hand.
"To be fair we haven't been going out lately just for money saving purposes… but Izo told me all about how nice it was there when he first visited," Marco shrugged and went back to his dishes.
"Well, okay then. How about we go there for that date you kept promising me about a week ago?"
A few days later finds the couple sitting themselves in a booth after a short visit to Sabo's foster mother Dadan at her flower shop. Needless to say the visit definitely did cause unintentional tousling on both ends, but the comical tears and more than obvious fondness shown through painful smacks on the head and a little show of ass kicking secured a future reunion. Sabo fixes his hair for the umpteenth time and Marco cannot help the little chuckle at his significant other's disgruntled expression.
"You are breathtaking, darling," Marco simply says with a smile, anchoring his chin on a propped hand.
Sabo pauses in his actions to stare at the other man's tender facial expression, causing a scarlet hue to blemish across his cheeks and nose. He huffs and looks away to stare at the menu in lieu.
"Stop it, you."
At that moment, someone approaches their table and flips open a notebook with a pen in hand. Sabo notices the person first and looks up. He can only describe the woman as fairly petite, wearing a comfortable black shirt, a midi-length denim skirt underneath a green apron, and a yellow bandanna tied around her crown of silky black hair, and the kindest of eyes that reminds him of someone he knew as a kid. He is immediately captivated by her sweet smile.
"Hello! Welcome to the Little Windmill! My name is Makino and I will be your server for today. Is there anything you guys want to start off to drink?"
"I'd like to try out your signature marocchino, please," Marco swiftly answers with a charming smile, glancing at Sabo with amused eyes. He pauses for a second, acknowledging the other's silence and continues. "I think both of us will share a toasty chocolate croissant for starters."
Makino quickly writes her notes down and turns to Sabo, showing a slightly puzzled expression. "And for you, sir?"
Sabo jolts out of his trance and blinks rapidly. "Huh? Oh! I'm sorry, I, oh, what," He quickly glances at Marco and then at the menu, "Oh jeez, sorry, I think I'll get café moulin à vent! That sounds good to me!"
He kicks Marco on the shins when he hears a quiet snort from the other side of the table.
"Good choice! It's a new brew that my main barista here made just a week ago, and it's gotten a lot of positive reviews about it too," the woman smiles warmly, and for a second Sabo swears he sees the interior lights highlight her facial features. "I will be back momentarily," With a small nod to both men, she turns around and heads behind the bar where a bulky man is busy working on the espresso machines, of which are doing a fantastic job at obscuring both their views. Sabo tries not to stare for too long and notices how Marco silently smiles at his behavior. He coughs, embarrassed.
"Sorry, it's just that.."
"Don't worry about it. I'm sure she found it amusing too," Marco winks and pushes his menu forward. Sabo glares at him.
"You're not helping, you know that right?" He takes the menu and tries to find something light to eat, hearing a breathy chuckle that gives him the same tingly feeling in his chest whenever Marco pulls him in for a random kiss.
"You mean I was supposed to?" Marco quips, reaching to lower the menu Sabo purposefully used to hide the growing redness on his cheeks.
"You love me."
Before he can answer with a smart reply, Makino comes back with a tray. She sets the steaming cups on the table with ease and quickly reaches for her pen after she set down the freshly baked croissant. "Both of you are so interesting to watch.. It's almost like watching my barista talk with one of his newer friends," she tries to soften her giggle by covering her lips, smiling at the couple afterwards. "That aside, have you decided on what to get other than these items?"
It didn't take long for them to exchange orders and for Makino to walk behind the bar once again. However, Sabo cannot help but try to look for the barista she talks about. Marco shares the same interest with a little more control compared to the other's. "I wonder who this guy is. She seems really fond of him," Marco comments lightly, taking a sip of his marocchino. He makes a small noise that gathers Sabo's attention back to him, only to see a pleasantly surprised face looking down at his cup. Sabo's lips quirk upwards when Marco glances back at him. "Baby, this is heavenly. Try it."
Sabo accepts the offer, after taking a small sip of water that came with their coffee. He carefully maneuvers the cup around and blows on it before sipping. Much like Marco's reaction, Sabo's eyes widen at the wonderful balance of coffee, milk, and chocolate mixed in the beverage. He groans, savoring the taste of the liquid as he gulps.
"Right?" Marco chuckles and takes his cup back.
"Tell me again, why didn't we ever notice this place?" Sabo grins and carefully rips a large part of the croissant. The innards release a plume of steam and the bits of chocolate within in slowly drips onto the plate. Sabo quickly blows some of the hotness off of the piece he holds in his hand before taking a bite. Immediately, his face contorts into a look of adoration and Marco laughs out loud, throwing his head back. "Shut up!" Sabo tries to say through a mouthful of still hot croissant, while blowing the steam out of his mouth. He inwardly admits that while he knows he looks ridiculous, he cannot care less with how Marco looks like he's having fun, although at his expense.
He gulps and takes a swig from his glass of water, fanning the inside of his mouth as if the devil dumped a load of burning charcoal in it. He beams when Marco wipes a tear off an eye, delighted to put a smile on his other's face. They banter for quite a while until someone interrupts them with a small cough. However, it wasn't Makino.
A man wearing a distractingly fit black shirt and a pair of dark denim jeans underneath a green apron approaches their table with a tray of food. Sabo notices how his chocolate brown eyes seem to reflect the noticeable freckles dusting his cheeks and nose like a tiny earthy galaxy. His smile grows lax as the man proceeds to put their respective foods in front of them, a bright smile lighting his features after he's done. He finds that he cannot tear his gaze from this man, the general noise from inside the café dulling as he enters into another trance. The man's animated chatter falls onto deaf ears, only a sharp focus on the man's rather handsome features and a growing feeling spreading in his chest. He doesn't know what it is, but he is positive that it makes him feel warm.
A few seconds into his apparent one-sided conversation, the man notices how Sabo keeps staring at him and looks at the other man sitting across the table only to see him doing the same thing. He coughs awkwardly, breaking eye contact, and murmurs, "Enjoy your meals." He swiftly turns around and leaves them alone.
For a moment, Sabo stares at the retreating back, dread replacing the warmth in his chest. He exhales and glances back at Marco, realizing the other is staring as well. His hand slowly clutches at his chest. "Did… did you feel that?"
Marco slowly directs his gaze to Sabo and nods quietly. He raises his hand to his own chest in bewilderment.
The rest of their meal is spent in silence, both too distracted thinking about their encounter with the barista who brought their food. They quietly share comments on how amazing the food is, but return to their thoughts. Once they're done with their dishes, Makino gathers their plates and gives them their receipt to be paid at the register on the bar. Sabo nods absently, thanking her for the food. He vaguely hears Marco say his own thanks and a promise to visit more frequently as he heads towards the register where a line of people stand to pay their tickets.
When he reaches his turn, he looks up from his daze to see the same man who brought their food to their booth. They both blink and don't say anything for a heartbeat. Then, Sabo shakes his head, about to apologize; however, the man beats him to it.
"Don’t worry about it. It's not the first time," the man cheekily smiles, albeit a small one. He grabs the receipt that is laid on the counter and quickly presses buttons on the register. Sabo is paying their tab when Marco walks up to them, seemingly collected than he was beforehand.
"Hello. I feel the need to apologize for our behavior earlier," Marco starts as he puts a hand on Sabo's back. "It's just that… you seem to be someone we know."
"Ah, well, I've gotten a lot of comments like that! Like I said, don't worry about it," the man is quick to assure them, handing the credit card back to Sabo, "Tons of people mistake me for someone else. It's kinda funny actually."
Marco smiles understandingly, pulling Sabo along with him. "I'm sure it is. It's been a pleasure eating here. Thank you so much for the food!"
The man waves at them, already helping another customer. "Hope to see you guys soon."
Sabo is led out of the restaurant, still in a half-trance. The feeling keeps beating at his chest… as if he just completely missed something important. It stuns him to silence, unable to form proper words. He stops walking when he realizes that Marco is gripping his wrist tightly. "Marc…"
Marco is startled by his whisper and whips around, letting go of his hand. The man apologizes, and they both settle into another silence, the crowd bustling around them, forgotten in the moment. Sabo exhales and quivers.
"You feel it too, don't you?"
"Yeah… Yeah…" Marco whispers. The man gently takes his wrist and kisses it, pulling him along once more. "Let's go home."
Sabo squeezes his hand in reply, letting Marco lead the way.
They walk side by side, hearts in sync, and their backs starting to warm up as if they were getting a tan. Sabo reaches behind his neck and touches a part of the mark intricately formed on his skin from twelve years ago. The moment he did, Marco's eyes flutter close and the grip on his hand tightens a bit more.
He knows that the mark, one that bound both him and Marco together, is their unique bond—one that pronounced them as soulmates through fate.
Once they get home, Sabo is quick to remove his shirt and stand in front of their bathroom mirror. He hears Marco following closely behind him, but turns around when the man's breath hitches. "Marc?"
"Sabo… Sabo… your mark…"
"Marc? You're scaring me, what is it?"
"The bottom half of your mark extended down to your waist…"
In that instance, Sabo feels his heart drop out of his chest and panicked. He turns around from the mirror and helps Marco take off his own shirt. Ordering the man to let him see his back, Sabo falters at the sight of the other's mark because Marco's mark doesn't only have a pattern of swirling clematis flowers around an iris flower. Hibiscus flowers and petals scatter themselves on his lower back, connected by vines and leaves coming from the other flowers. Sabo relays what he sees to Marco and gets an affirmation that he sees the same mark from the mirror.
His gaze blurs and he feels himself lean on the counter, a migraine pulsing in his head. Marco's voice is muffled, but he knows that the man is also receiving the same feeling. So, Sabo pulls the man to their bed, hoping to sleep the migraine away because he knows that when their heads stop throbbing in pain, the questions will start flowing in their minds.
The sudden wave of exhaustion allow them both to immediately fall asleep, inklings forming in their minds of what might have transpired in the café. However, Sabo's final thought before succumbing to slumber is that fate may or may not have had a hand in their situation, and he's not very sure if he's happy about it.