This is my rewrite of Summer Memory's "Still There". I liked the story a lot, so I tried writing it. The plots mostly the same, but I hope you like it! :)
It was about a year ago that I transferred over from Baratie in West Blue to the famous Raftel Café in All Blue.
It was a sad parting—considering how I've worked there for four years—but they seemed eager for me to go. Of course, if I hadn't overheard the truth—that it was good for my future—I would've believed their charade. I felt moved that they tried so hard to make me go to All Blue to pursue my dream as becoming the best chef in the world, so I packed my bags and moved to All Blue, promising that I would be back to visit if I ever had the time to.
The first time I stepped into the All Blue Raftel Café, I was amazed. It was much bigger than the Café in West Blue, and much more luxurious. It was filled with blue, as the name states. Although there were many other colors present, such as the gold and silver to the tables and the greens to the plants, overall there was a marine and sea-life kind of feel.
The café was also much, much busier. Waiters and waitresses were rushing around taking and serving orders, and the chefs were cooking multiple dishes at a time. Big names could be found having personal and political meetings all over the Café.
At the moment, I knew my life was about to change. Perhaps for the better, but definitely for the busier.
For my first few weeks of work there, I had to start out as a waiter. Apparently, I had to get to know how things worked around there and the waiter's job, being the one to move around the most, was the most fitting for it. That was what Nami-san, my manager by the way, said anyways.
Ah…Nami-san…my goddess, the object of my affections, the love of my life…I fell in love at first sight. Of course, being the women-loving man I am, naturally I'd fall for a woman of her beauty. But by no means was this a chest tightening, heart fluttering kind of sappy romance. No way. I was never the kind of man for that. I am more a womanizer than anything. After all, I love women. I don't think I would ever settle for one.
My first few days were hectic. Too hectic to notice how there was a man always sitting in that corner of the café by the window, ordering the same order of two cups of cappuccino, one with less sugar. Too hectic to notice how he was always alone, sitting at that some spot for exactly four hours before leaving. Too hectic that I could only subconsciously take note of his presence and the same orders every day.
It was on a day with an extraordinarily bad weather that I first spoke to him. There was a thunderstorm outside, with big winds that flipped umbrellas, heavy rain that caused accidents and traffic jams. On days like that, even the famous Raftel Café would have next to no customers. But even on a day like that, that same man sat at the same seat, ordering the same order of two cappuccinos, one with less sugar.
I had a lot of free time due to the lack of customers, and I let my curiosity get the better of me. I walked up to the man and asked the same question that lingered in my mind for the past few days, "Who are you waiting for?"
The man looked up at me from his seat, confusion etched on his face. His unkempt black hair fell all around his face, his onyx orbs looked straight into my eyes. I noticed a scar below his left eye, and I wonder if it was always there, and how I didn't notice before.
After a few seconds of silence, a small smile graced his lips as he replied, "No one in particular." And I couldn't help but notice the sadness that flickered across his eyes for a moment. I raised my hand to point at the other cup of cappuccino, left untouched opposite of him.
"Then who's that for?" I ask, in a voice not of accusation but more of curiosity for a mysterious man who visits at the same time every day, ordering the same order. I once thought that maybe he wanted an extra cup for himself, but after clearing the same table every day left with one empty and one full cup of cappuccino, I realized that that clearly wasn't the case. It was just curiosity, really. Something interesting, mysterious…and intriguing. But when I saw his smile falter and hurt flash across his eyes, I instantly regretted the question I asked just to satisfy my curiosity.
But before I could say anything, his smile then came back full force, this time a little more forced than before, his eyes filled with just a little more sadness than before. I could see that he was straining to keep the smile on his face. Then he replied, "No one, really."
"You don't have to-" I was about to say 'force yourself' when I heard that angelic voice of my manager calling my name.
"Yes, Nami-saaaan~" Just like that, our first conversation ended.
After that day, I took even more notice of that raven man. He was like an enigma to me. Mysterious and intriguing. Any free time I had, I would observe him.
I know I should've respected his privacy and mind my own business, but I couldn't help it. I couldn't get the matter off my mind, so I resorted to asking Nami-san if she knew anything.
I set my resolve and called out to Nami-san. I was determined to get my answers so I could get my mind off him.
"Do you know that guy with the black hair, black eyes and scar under his eyes? The one that always visits the Café with same order?" I asked, trying my best to describe how he looks like.
"Eh? Ahh…" She seemed to be thinking for a moment, "You must mean Luffy! He's a regular customer. Why?" She asked, a little suspicious. So his name is Luffy.
"Luffy…" I tested out, liking the way his name rolled off my tongue. "Ah, no, nothing. I was just wondering who he was waiting for." I wonder if that sounded weird.
"Perhaps his boyfriend? I don't really know. If I recall correctly, his boyfriend stopped visiting about…2 months ago. Why do you want to know?" She shrugged, and then furrowed her brows.
"Just curious," I played it off.
"Don't care too much about it," she advised as she walked away,
I tried not to flinch at the words 'his boyfriend' and thanked her before returning to my duties.
I wonder what happened to his boyfriend. Now I have another question on my hands. It didn't help at all.
The next day, at 6:00 pm as usual, he entered the café and ordered his usual order of two cups of cappuccino, one with less sugar, sitting in the usual seat.
That day, at around 9:20 pm when the customers get less and less as it approached the café's closing time, I struck a conversation with him again.
As I walked over to him, I notice that he was staring listlessly out of the window.
"Luffy, right?" He whipped his head around at this. It seems that I interrupted his thoughts.
"How do you-" He looked confused, and yet surprised.
I sat down in the seat opposite of him and offered a hand, "The name's Sanji," and smiled.
He shook my hand and smiled a smile much truer, and much less forced than any of the previous ones he smiled the other day. He looks much better while smiling.
"I asked my manager about you." I explained, and apologized, "Sorry if it offends you, but I was curious."
His smile then turned into one of understanding, as he said, "Nah. It's okay. It's normal to be curious about someone who comes everyday at the same timing, ne?"
I then proceeded to ask the questions I wanted the answers to. "What happened to him?"
He seemed confused.
"Your boyfriend, I mean." I explained.
"Ahh…" Realization showed on his face. "We…" he paused for a while before he choked out, "separated." And his smile turned sad. He seemed to be holding back his tears.
I wonder if it was harsh of me to continue asking him about his boyfriend, even though he was already close to crying. But I couldn't help myself. I wanted to know more…about him.
"Then why are you still waiting for him?"
"My boyfriend he…used to teach at the dojo right across the road." He said as he slowly lifted his finger to point to the dojo he mentioned. My eyes followed his finger to where it was pointing at, which indeed, was the building across the road. So it was a dojo.
He continued, "He had a really bad sense of direction, and used to get lost on his way back to our apartment all the time." He chuckled softly at this. At that time, I wondered, why had he used past tense? I didn't think too much about it at that time though, concentrating on our conversation instead.
"I used to wait here every day to pick him up." He continued to explain all the while still staring out the window.
"Then why are you still waiting? If you had already broken up, why are you still waiting here for him?" I was then even more confused. Little did I know that I had misunderstood his meaning of 'separation'.
"Force of habit, I guess. After doing the same thing every day for three years, it's weird to suddenly stop doing it. But I guess it has to stop someday, ne?" He smiled softly and sadly, turning his head to look at me.
I wonder if it really was just a habit.
After that day, Luffy and I had a few conversations here and there. You could say we became friends. I learnt more about his boyfriend. His name was Zoro, apparently, and he had green hair. I also found out that he disliked sweet things, and thus, the cup of cappuccino with less sugar was for him.
Every time we talked about Zoro, Luffy had this loving look in his eyes, and his cheeks would sport a light blush. And every time I saw it, I felt envious of this Zoro. He seemed to have grown more comfortable about talking about this 'Zoro'.
One day I noticed the necklace he wore. It was a ring, hung into a chain, and worn as a necklace.
He noticed my staring, so he removed his necklace and allowed me to take a look at it.
And I saw, there, engraved on the inside of the ring, were the words, "Luffy X Zoro". I felt a pang as I saw it. I wonder what it was. I handed the ring back to him, and he took it and wore it back as a necklace.
"We were engaged." He explained, "Zoro worked so hard and saved up for quite some time just to buy this ring." He had a distant look on his face, and there was that love that I always saw in his eyes again, and a light tint of a blush on his cheeks.
And then he whispered softly, "I wonder if we still are." Which I almost failed to catch.
Why did you break up? If you have already broken up, why is there still a question as to whether you are still engaged? Separation…or did you not break up? Did something happen?
I wanted to ask all these but I resorted to shorten it, "Why?"
He looked at me while chuckling, which turned into laughter. I wonder what he was laughing at, nothing was funny.
His laugh sounded really desperate and strained. Like he had to laugh, forced, or something bad will happen. His laughter sounded choked, and I realized that he would have cried if he hadn't laughed.
"You don't have to hold back. You can cry if you want to." I voiced out before I could stop myself. I didn't want to see him like this.
His laughter died down after that, and he looked downwards at his cup of cappuccino, and stared. His long fringe shadowed his eyes, so I couldn't make out his expression.
"Are you-" before I could finish my question, I saw a tear trickle down his face and drop onto the table, which was soon followed by another tear, and another. He was crying.
When I came to that realization, I panicked. I didn't know how to comfort someone. So I just did what popped into my mind, I stood up, walked over to him and hugged him, while patting his head. It was the best I could do.
I could feel a part of my shirt become damp, the part where his head was resting on. He started sobbing into my shirt as I continued to pat his head. I looked around and noticed that there were less and less customers left in the café as more and more people left. It was approaching the café's closing time, which was 10 pm.
I checked my watch for the timing, and noticed that it was 9:38 pm. He cries and sobs died down at around 9:57 pm.
"I'm sorry," He sniffed and wiped his face, "for breaking down like that, and having you to comfort me."
"No…it was no problem at all. So…I'm sorry for asking, but why?" I still haven't gotten my answer.
"Because…after all, you can't be engaged to a dead man," the revelation came with a bitter smile.
"Sanji! It's time to pack up!" I hear Nami-san's voice. And for the first time, I was hesitant to go straight to her.
"Hai, Nami-swan~!" I replied. "I'm sorry, but I have to go…pack up, you know." I explained to him.
"It's quite alright. I have to go too. After all, it's the café's closing time, isn't it?" He smiled, this time with gratefulness.
As soon as he picked up his bag, I cleared his table of two cappuccinos, one cup empty, and the other cup full. I turned around and was about to walk away when I heard him say, "Thank you."
I replied while smiling, "You're welcome."
After walking three steps away, I heard his voice again, this time a parting, "Goodbye."
I turned around to look at him, and I saw a sight that I would never forget-on his face was a serene smile, and dare I say, the most beautiful smile I have ever seen.
"Goodbye." I replied, bowing my head a little, and as he started walking towards the exit, I, too, started walking away.
After that day, I never saw Luffy again. He hasn't visited the café for two months now.
It has been five months since Luffy started waiting here for Zoro knowing that he would not be coming, and three months since I started working here and since I met Luffy.
It has been two months since Luffy stopped waiting for Zoro, and I wonder if I should be happy that he has finally stopped waiting, or sad that I would never see Luffy again.
It has been two months since I last saw Luffy, and had all those questions answered. But now I have new questions lingering in my mind, like, "Where is he now?", "What is he doing now?", "How is he?" and, "Has he forgotten about Zoro?", "Does he remember me?"
I have been promoted to assistant chef recently, and I wonder if it would make those people back in Baratie proud. I should probably visit them soon.
More often than not, I find myself staring at the seat at that same corner of the café where Luffy usually sits; that same spot where Luffy waited all alone for Zoro for three months.
This longing feeling… I wonder if I miss him. I barely even knew him. All I knew was his name, and that he had a boyfriend named Zoro. But I feel as if I have an indescribable bond with him. Something special. I wonder if he feels it too. It was strange, how he was constantly on my mind.
I regret not asking for at least his number. Then, I could at least still contact him, or hear his voice. But then, I wouldn't have a reason to call.
Sometimes when I am free, I would sit in that seat he used to sit in, and stare out the window like he used to, like I am today. The first time I sat in that seat and stared out the window, I realized that all this time, he was staring at the dojo. Figures.
"Sanji?" I hear Nami-san's sweet voice.
"Hai, Nami-swan?" I asked in a soft tone, all the while staring out the window.
"What are you doing?" She asked, not in an angry tone, but more of concern and curiosity.
I smiled sheepishly while rubbing the back of my neck, replying, "Waiting."
She frowned at my answer, worry and concern showed on her face, and I feel bad for worrying her.
"For whom?" She asks.
"Ahhh..." I run a hand through my hair, and wonder if I had the answer to that myself, "No one. No one in particular."
Soooo...how was it? :D Good? Bad? Leave a review to tell me what you think!