“Dude, this café,” Zelos gestured to the establishment, its curvy lettering on the sign, adorned with sparkles and pictures of cute wings over the name, “is the best café ever. Seriously.”
“Oh, that’s neat.” Lloyd looked over the sign that hung above the shop that was apparently called ‘Wings’. The lettering even seemed to change color when the sun hit it at certain angles, like a cool rainbow effect. “So the food they serve is really good? Like chicken wings?” It was called Wings, after all, so…
“Bud, that’s not the point of these!” Zelos sighed at his friend’s ignorance. “It’s a theme café! You know what those are, right?”
Lloyd stared at the sign, then back at Zelos. “So… the food isn’t good?”
“God damn, Lloyd. You’re not getting it. It’s the presentation here that’s important.”
Lloyd thought about what Zelos said for a good five seconds. “Ohhh, so like the food’s okay, but it looks cool, right?”
“Seriously, you need to stop thinking about your stomach for once in your life.” Zelos gestured again to the cafe, more vehemently this time, as if he was ready to bash Lloyd’s head in through one of the shop windows. “Theme café! You know, decorations, lighting, cute girls in costumes? They’re like angels, waiting hand and foot on you…”
“Costumes? Is it a holiday?”
“...Just-! Just get in here!” Zelos grumpily grabbed his best bud’s arm, shoving him through the door. Lloyd only had time to look through the windows to see people seated at small tables, sipping at drinks, but it didn’t look any different from any other café. The following delicate chime of the door clashed a bit discordantly with them both arguing.
“Gah! Stop pushing me already!” Lloyd shouted.
“Stop rejecting the good things in life!” Zelos countered back.
“Hello! Welcome to the Wings Café!” said someone else entirely. “Where we serve you… on wings!”
Lloyd had managed to get Zelos in a headlock so that the guy could stop pushing him when he finally noticed the person speaking to them. He raised his head, momentarily stunned. A girl with shining blonde hair stood before them in a frilly maid uniform, tinged a light green and a soft white. She even had a cap to match her dress, outfitted with red ribbons, and…
“Oh? Wings?” he said aloud.
He wasn’t talking about the name. A pair of literal wings extended from the girl’s back, dyed pink and all decorated in sparkles! They were so sparkly that some of the glitter drifted from those wings to flutter to the floor whenever the girl shifted a little. She was looking at him curiously ever since his little comment.
“Uh, hi!” Lloyd greeted. Huh, so this was what Zelos meant by cute girls in costumes… A choking sound reminded him about said Zelos was struggling in his grip. “Oh, sorry,” but his apology was half-hearted at best.
“The hell, Lloyd! Were you trying to knock me out?” Zelos complained.
“Wow, you two must be really good friends!” The girl said. “Did you need a table for two?”
“Oh, you’re new here!” Zelos crooned, winking at the girl, not at all mindful to how messy his hair looked now from him and Lloyd’s brief scuffle. “Have I died and gone to heaven now?”
“Oh, I hope not!” the girl helpfully added. “Does that mean you’re sick? I hope you feel better soon!”
That clearly hadn’t been the reaction that Zelos had expected, hesitating on his next pick-up line. Lloyd almost burst out in laughter at the expression on the guy’s face. “I was- I was just saying you looked nice-”
“Don’t listen to him. He says this every time he comes in here, which is already too damn much.”
A black-haired women walked up to the other, holding a platter full of dirty plates and mugs. Well, maybe not walked, she seemed to float to her almost? Which confused Lloyd for a bit. But she had wings on her back, too – smaller ones that were feathery looking and painted white. She made sure to give a wide berth around Zelos as she got ready to leave again, all while glaring daggers at him. “You try any funny business on her, I’m serving you out the door.”
Zelos smiled then, looking instantly right at home. “Heey, Sheena! My favorite maid! Missed you, too!”
Now that Lloyd looked around, it wasn’t just these two girls that had on wings – it looked like all the servers did! Women in serving outfits waited on tables, smiling as bright as the wings they wore behind them. Some wings were pure white, some were rich black, while others went for a multicolor effect. But none of them reached the shade of pink that the greeting girl had.
“Let me show you to your seats!” spoke said girl. She bowed politely, and in the process, nearly slipped. Lloyd reached out reflexively to catch her by the arms.
“Whoa! You okay?” he asked, looking down at the floor. Was it just slippery? Then he noticed the roller skates. Oh, that explained before…
“Ah, sorry! I… messed up, hehe. Thanks.” The girl smiled up at him, her own hands resting against his forearms as he held her. Eventually, she got up on her own and let go, and that was when he caught her nametag on her uniform. Colette, it said. Hm. “A-anyway, let me show you to a table!”
Maybe Zelos had a point about this place.
Lloyd, in his entire life, had never heard of an angel themed café before. Or… a themed anything, actually.
“Man, you are just so sad.” Zelos shook his head at his friend’s misfortunes. “Good thing you have me along to teach you some class!”
“You really gotta though?” He got a closer look at all the people working here, still waiting on people’s tables as their wings fluttered behind them. Some of them even had halos! And then some had like four wings or more which was kind of weird.
He hadn’t seen the girl named Colette ever since she brought them to their table, and then essentially skated away. Or ‘floated away’? That seemed to be the effect of the skates anyway. He kept watching out for her..
“Anyway, what did I tell ya? This is the best place!” Zelos leaned back on his chair, looking intensely proud of himself. “I can tell you like it too!”
“Uh, yeah I guess.”
“So which one would you say is your favorite? I always rank Sheena as the best with that rack, but last time she undercooked my omelet which gave me a stomachache, so I’m bumping her down a few points-”
Lloyd wasn’t listening. He caught sight of Colette again, carrying a platter in her hands, topped with the coffee drinks they ordered. She was still in her skates, looking around in obvious confusion around the café. “Hey! Colette!” He waved, so that Colette could see him. And she did!
Though in her turn, she nearly upended the platter full of drinks, but caught herself just in time, balancing herself shakily on her rolling footwear. She went over to them. “Hello! How did you know my name?”
“Yeah, how did you know?” Zelos asked his friend with the deepest of suspicions.
“Oh, your nametag.” It was right there, after all. “I’m Lloyd, by the way!”
“What? Who reads those?” No one answered Zelos still.
Colette smiled back at Lloyd, her eyes bright and cheery as she placed Lloyd’s coffee on the table. “It’s really nice to meet you, Lloyd!” She stood up straight again, her wings catching the sunlight through the windows, shimmering with a myriad of pink shades. “If you want to eat too, we have a special on blueberry pancakes today!”
While food sounded good to Lloyd, he was still really caught up in those wings, eyes drawn to its structure, to its sparkling features, to the very difference of its shape compared to the other maids’ wings. He placed his chin in his hand, so preoccupied with his stare. Actually… “How come yours looks different from everyone’s?”
“Your wings, I mean.”
Colette craned her head a little to look at her wings, her expression brightening even more at his curiosity. “Oh! Well, most of the others’ wings came with their uniforms. But I decided to make my own! I used this special cardboard for arts and crafts, and tried to come up with my own design! Though… some of the customers complain I used too much glitter…”
“No way, the glitter is really cool! Like, you’re supposed to be this magic angel, yeah? It fits!”
“Ah, you really think so?” Colette’s expression was as radiant as her wings. “Thank you!”
“I- I was just about to say the same thing!” spoke Zelos, who continued being ignored.
“It looks really complicated, too. But it must be a hassle when you need to change your clothes or something. Did you have to make holes in your uniform?”
If anyone even knew that Zelos existed, they might have noticed his look of pure befuddlement on his face.
To Colette, however, such questions made a lot of sense. “It’s actually really easy to put on! Look!” She pointed to a hidden little string that was hanging by the side of her uniform. “I use these to make them flutter, but I can put them away, too! See?” Colette pulled at the string then, and shwip! The wings folded inside themselves, all neatly against her back so that she was just a regular serving girl instead of an angel maid.
“Whoa!” Lloyd was clearly impressed. Her wings had practically vanished! “How’d you come up with that? It must have taken a while to make!”
Zelos remained in the background, frowning as hard as he could. “Dude… you are missing the whole point of this place…”
“I just worked on it a lot!” She pulled at the string once more, revealing her wings in a shower of falling sparkles. Lloyd thought it looked amazing! A customer behind Colette flinched instead, muttering about there being ‘glitter in my soup…’
Colette then raised her head up, looking towards the kitchen. “Oh, sorry I have to go now! I’ll be right back and – ah! Sorry, but did you want anything to eat?”
“Hm… those blueberry pancakes sound really good!” Lloyd said, watching the way her wings seemed to flutter on their own accord.
“Okay! I’ll be right back with your order!” Colette turned instantly, another shower of sparkles getting everywhere in the air at Zelos’ direction. He coughed and sputtered as some of the sparkles got in his throat. “Gah! Oh god there’s so much…”
Lloyd just watched all that glitter dance in the air, trailing after Colette as she skated away. “That’s so cool…”
“Hey, she still has my coffee!” Zelos whined. “Ugh, sorry, bud, but I’m gonna have to rank little miss angel a bit low.”
Zelos was really just background noise to Lloyd at this point. Those wings were so neat! Could he… huh…
“What the hell are you grinning about now?” Zelos said, grumpy that the angel café today was not exactly being the best to him right now.
“Eh, nothing, don’t worry about it,” Lloyd said, sipping at his coffee. Did he order this hot or cold? He couldn’t really remember. Oh well, not like it mattered anyway. He liked both!
“We got a new recruit coming in!”
Colette had only been working at the café for a couple of weeks, and though she had mixed up a few orders and spread her wing’s glitter wherever she went, people were so overwhelmingly fond of her. They could even forgive her tripping over her skates and breaking some tables in the process! Although when that happened, it came out of her paycheck…
So she was instantly curious when she heard she wouldn’t be the only newbie anymore! Sheena’s voice called out as the veteran waitress opened the door to the back, where Colette was putting away all the plates and cups. “Hey, Colette. Think you can help train this guy?”
“Oh?” But she was a bit new herself, and she had dropped so much silverware the past week, too. “Is that really ok-” She stopped, realizing who it was she was going to train. He stood behind Sheena, his face instantly familiar. “Lloyd?”
“Hi, Colette!” Lloyd greeted enthusiastically. He was grinning wide at her, as he did on the day she first met him. He was already wearing a serving uniform, too! A black serving apron over a white long-sleeved shirt, complete with a black bowtie! He wore it well!
She couldn’t help the smile forming on her face. “H-hi! It’s so nice to – wah!” Still carrying one of the plates, the wings she still wore snagged onto a nearby cabinet, offsetting her balance. Oh no, she was going to break something else again…
Arms enveloped her, keeping her steady and safe. “You alright?” She looked up to see Lloyd over her, getting a much better look at his outfit this time.
Sheena, standing behind them both, sighed. “Yeah… that’s one reason why I thought you two should start working together.”
Even though she was a bit embarrassed, she was glad for the boy’s arms around her. “Hehe, yeah… sorry, I keep messing up a lot.”
“Wearing those skates must be really tricky though,” Lloyd said, no blame at all in his tone. He helped her stand, hands remaining steady on her arms. “Well, I can catch you then from now on!”
“Oh? You’d do that?” Colette was a bit overwhelmed by the wealth of information happening. This time, Sheena came to her rescue for that.
“We really don’t get enough guy workers here that don’t just hole themselves up in the kitchen. Think they’re put off by the costumes. So Lloyd here is a lifesaver! It’s actually pretty lucky we already had the right size for his uniform.”
“Wow, I didn’t know you wanted to work here that much!” Colette commented.
Lloyd was looking quite excited for his new job, standing tall and proud in his server uniform. “Yeah! Hope that isn’t too weird though.”
“Not at all!” Colette had just been wondering when the nice Lloyd person would come back…
“Well, today’s your first day, so get started!” Sheena announced, already passing them by to leave them to their training. But not before she leaned down to whisper to Colette. “You know, he specifically asked for you.”
“Huh?” Colette wondered aloud, but Sheena had already gone, grabbing up a (non-broken) plate, filled with prepared pastries and drinks, and going outside.
Also, something about what her friend mentioned had made her feel so light, and even more so when she turned back to Lloyd, his smile so bright and his hair so neatly styled and yet a little ruffled looking at the same time.
“That’s really cool that you get to wear your wings all the time,” Lloyd said once they were alone. “Think I can earn mine soon?”
“Oh, you also want…” There were only maids working on the floor, but since Lloyd joined, maybe it would be different? “Wings would look cool on you! But you’d have to make them yourself!”
“Ah, I see… Then I should get started on that right now!”
“Wait, but um, you’re right that you have to earn them!” Her eyes darted to a nearby sink. “So, you’ll have to help me clean these dishes! And not break them!” Well, only she ever broke them anyway…
“Oh, that’s easy!” Lloyd said, rolling up his sleeves. “So this is part of the training?”
Maybe it was? She’d never trained anybody before, and she’d only worked here for a little while… Still, she nodded at him. “Yeah! And you have to do it fast, too!” Why did she feel so competitive suddenly?
But Lloyd only grinned, his eyes bright with eagerness. Their auburn brown matched with his hair, so open and honest. “You got it!”
Also, it was nice what he said before, about being there to catch her. Hopefully they’d work the same shifts for the most part.
“Bud?! I take you to my perfect angel paradise and this is the thanks I get?”
“So… you don’t want the frappucino then?” Lloyd asked Zelos with sincere curiosity, pen and notebook in hand.
Lloyd had only been working for a few days and was already a star server – almost as big a star as Colette, but minus the accidents. Actually, even Colette had minus the accidents herself! Lloyd was true to his word when he said he’d catch her. Customers soon couldn’t separate the pair, watching in awe as Lloyd expertly caught Colette by the waist before a plate full of cakes could tip over. Though, not everyone appreciated this heavenly combo.
“Lloyd, you just don’t fit the theme at all ,” Zelos grumbled.
“Hey, I’m working on it!” True, he kind of stood out among all the angel maids that worked there, one aspect that Zelos had definitely noticed and only grew more and more suspicious of. “Soon you’re going to see how I’ll fit right in here!”
“…Nah, I see how it is. To think, you’re not just some dumb country boy, after all…” Zelos’ expression grew quite serious, his eyes shadowed away from the slanting sunlight through the window. “Getting a job where you get to be surrounded by beautiful girls all day… why didn’t I think of that?”
Lloyd hadn’t exactly heard the last part. Zelos tended to mumble a lot when he tried to look all mysterious like that. “Okay, are you getting the frappucino or what? I have to get back to Colette to help fix up stuff.”
“See? There’s cunning underneath that hick charm! And to think I fell for it!”
Off near the other side of the café behind the counter, Sheena was busy brewing the hot drinks with Colette, and all too clearly hearing at least Zelos’ side of the conversation. “I wasn’t kidding when I said Lloyd was a lifesaver. I don’t think that redhead noticed me once today, thank goodness.”
“Well, they’re friends, so they’re both just catching up maybe!” She didn’t find Zelos to be so bad, just sometimes he laughed a bit too loudly. It always startled her enough to drop her platter, although Lloyd was usually near her to save her (and the orders).
Lloyd finally came back up to them, already moving expertly on his skates, his server apron flowing behind him in his rush. “Sorry! That took a little longer than I meant to…”
Sheena waved away his apology. “Nah, don’t worry. I already got that guy’s order ready in the meantime!”
Colette looked at the plate that Sheena now held in her hands. “Oh! I was wondering why you asked the chef for the octopus sushi.”
“Oh, but…” Lloyd looked at his notepad. “He told me he wanted the caramel frappucino.”
“Trust me, he’ll be happy with this.” Sheena smirked, the feathery wings behind her lilting along with her as she quietly snickered. It didn’t seem all that angelic. “See ya guys later!”
Once Sheena left Colette behind the counter, Lloyd placed his elbows over the wooden surface as he leaned on it, letting out a deep sigh. “Man, it’s really busy today! I could go for coffee myself…”
“Well, I could make you some!” Colette offered. “Oh, but then you would have to pay for it. Sorry.”
“I don’t really get why you’re apologizing… Oh, Colette!” Lloyd raised his head up to her excitedly. “I almost forgot. I got something to show you! You said I needed to earn my wings, right?”
“Huh? Oh! Y-yeah!” Colette felt a bit bad about that now. Lloyd could have worn wings anytime he wanted, but she liked it when they served together, or cleaned up during the closing hours, or even hung out in the back, putting away the plates and silverware. She may have been keeping him to herself a bit much…
“It’s in the back! Come on!” Lloyd was so eager that he even leaped over the counter, with skates and all, already gesturing her towards the door that led to calmer part of the kitchen. There would be no one to take charge of the counter to take up orders… but Lloyd really wanted to show her something! She couldn’t just not follow him, and before she knew it, she dashed after him, the momentum of her skates nearly making her tumble into him (he caught her just in time), and then the edge of her wings catching themselves in the doorway (which he rescued her from that too).
Eventually, they both made it behind the doors, Lloyd picking up something from the side. “I didn’t have to make holes in my shirt luckily…” he said, fitting whatever object on him like a backpack. She didn’t see what it was exactly, but she caught sight of a string hanging by the side of his uniform, jogging a familiar memory. Lloyd stood before her with his hands on his hips, clearly excited.
“Check it out!” He then pulled the handy string by his side. In a burst of azure, long wings suddenly flew up from his back. With them came a flurry of dazzling sparkles, floating through the air all around Colette and Lloyd, like starlight.
Colette gasped in surprise and wonder! “Wow! You made those?” The way the light shone made them seem so translucent, their shape strongly emulating a bird’s wings. But he didn’t stick feathers to his wings like the other servers did. They really were their own thing. “Those are beautiful!”
“Heh, yeah they’re pretty cool, huh?” He turned, and one wingtip edged along the kitchen shelf, knocking down a small pot to the floor with a clang. But it did so through a shower of glitter, so at least when it fell, it looked neat doing so! “Uh, sorry.”
Then it got her curious, all that glitter. “Do you like you using glitter too? I thought I was the only one.”
At that Lloyd grinned wide, once again showing off his equally wide wings. “I was thinking about your wings a lot when I made this! I really wanted to see if I could make something like yours! Though I guess maybe they’re a little too long, hm.” He had to sidle a bit to the right, letting one chef get by him, and not passing by unscathed, remnants of sparkles already on their sleeves.
“Something like mine?” She felt those wings of hers hang onto her uniform, where no amount of washing would ever get rid of those pink glitters that stuck to the material. They would be the same way for Lloyd’s uniform, too. “Are you sure you want something like that? Sometimes the customers complain…”
Lloyd angled his head, blinking. “Do you think I shouldn’t? I can put them away like you though! See?” He pulled at the string again, though only one wing folded back in on itself, the other still staying out. “Um, I can fix that.” Still, he looked to Colette like a happy kid in a candy shop. “I wanted to make it so we can match maybe!”
“We…” she started to say, then grew even happier at the mention once she realized. “Oh! We… we do match!”
“Hehe, yeah, that’s why I wanted to work here in the first place!” Lloyd said.
“Oh, you mean to make these wings for the café?”
“…Ah, yeah! Pretty much, yeah.” Lloyd coughed to the side, then tried pulling his string again, unhooking that one folded wing. “Think we can go out there together then? I think it’s almost lunchtime.”
“Yeah!” His unearthed wing brought forth another array of sparkles, some of them catching onto her uniform, so that it decorated her in sparkling pink and blue. She was happy, more happy than she expected herself to be. Lloyd, in his wings, smiled at her so kindly. She hoped he would stay on, and not get bored of working here… “Let’s go! I think Sheena might be- ah!”
Another trip, and another catch with Lloyd’s arms. His wings fanned out around her, letting her see that before Lloyd’s face as she turned around in his hold. “It’s too bad these wings can’t help you float,” he said, but his smile still kind.
It was strange, because she already felt so light suddenly.
“Hello! Welcome to the Wings Café!”
Genis stared blankly at the angelic duo, who had both simultaneously greeted him barely a second after he walked in. “Wow, I didn’t think Zelos was serious.”
Colette’s wings splayed out behind her in a display of pink brilliance. Her smile matched that same brightness. For the past few days, Colette felt like she was walking on air, like she really was flying high. Lloyd, standing next to her in greeting, was also smiling wide, his own wings spread out before him in several shades of blue and white.
“Genis!” Lloyd said excitedly. “So you know about this place, too? Oh yeah, this is Colette!”
“Hi! It’s nice to meet you!”
Genis also had a certain look, one that he flicked over to Lloyd and then to Colette, the shine of their wings reflecting in his eyes. “Haha, okay, I was wondering why Lloyd actually went out and got a job of all things.”
Still with that server friendly smile, Lloyd sidled up to Genis and gave him a playful tap on the head. “Shut it.”
“Ack! Okay, geez.”
Colette didn’t totally understand what this Genis person meant but she felt happy knowing another friend of Lloyd’s all the same.
“Oh yeah, there’s a free table over here-” Lloyd then turned, his wings swishing along with him. One wing slapped the back of Genis’ head in a flurry of blue sparkles.
“Oops. Didn’t mean it that time!”
The two had already been fairly popular among the customers before, but with Lloyd’s new addition of his wings, they were a hit. More customers had started flooding the Wings Café lately, curious about the clumsy pink-winged girl that would always be caught by the blue-winged boy beside her. It didn’t matter if sometimes Lloyd and Colette would mess up an order, or accidentally serve an iced coffee instead of hot – it was hard to stay mad at either of them.
Although hearing about the only guy server in the café also brought out some troublemakers, too.
“We’ve been waiting to be served for more than ten minutes already!”
Colette turned towards the far right of the café, blinking at a pair seated. Ah right, it was the couple that had come by earlier while Lloyd had been busy helping someone. She remembered the girl hadn’t looked too happy at her greeting… Also, there was a strange, but very strong smell coming from that section. She noted quite a few tables around the two were empty. “Oh! I’m sorry, I’ll be right there!”
“That’s okay, Colette. I got it!” Lloyd quickly skated past her, his long wings somehow avoiding her, except with a small brush of the wingtip, gentle as he passed. “Colette can help you, Genis!”
“Yeah, I don’t think she’ll knock me out with her wings,” Genis muttered, trying to shake blue glitter from his long hair.
Still, Colette worried a bit. Those customers didn’t have the nicest of expressions. But Lloyd would be okay, and she wouldn’t be too far anyway.
“Decus! Ugh, stop trying to hold my hand and order me my parfait already!”
“Yes, of course! Alice, my dear, I’ll order up every parfait this dinky little café has to offer.”
“Oh, now you’re trying to get me fat? You idiot.”
They talked loud too, just another reason why some of the other customers had pointedly moved their seats further away, some even leaving early. Lloyd wasn’t getting any good vibes from these two (and the guy’s cologne was so strong it nearly stung his eyes), but he’d still give them good service. Colette had taught him that a server needed to always be cheerful for their customers! She also taught him the right way to arrange a fruit platter, and how to give a dog the perfect name… which the last one had nothing to do with the café really, but that was when they had been on their break, watching some leashed dogs pass by the windows. They had been having some left-over coffee from the morning batch, Lloyd thinking it had especially tasted nice that day.
…Anyway, where had he been going with these thoughts? Oh yeah! He had to be a good server! So, holding in his breath to try to withstand that cologne, he rolled towards them.
“Hey, sorry for the wait! What can I get ya?” He put on his smile, and puffed out his chest a little, showing off the wings he was proud of. He had worked on these for a whole night, too! Luckily, he had only fallen asleep standing on his skates once or twice that following day.
The Decus person angled his head towards Lloyd, narrowing his eyes underneath a fringe of dark violet hair. He had on a jacket whose fur collar nearly hid his mouth – but not enough. Lloyd could see his deep frown.
“You can get us our time back! Any longer and my Alice would have died from starvation!”
“Stop calling me fat!” Alice yelled, before turning to Lloyd with a sneer. “Oh, so you’re the new hot server everyone’s raving about? I expected a little more…”
“Is it too warm in here?” Lloyd inquired helpfully. “I guess I can tell them to turn down the heat.”
Alice kept smiling, unkind in all its curves. “Oh, that’s cute.”
This didn’t make Decus happy at all. “Hey buddy, you better keep your eyes off her! Guys like you… thinking you can get anyone at anytime!”
Was this guy a friend of Zelos or something? “Er, okay. You sound kinda hoarse there. Did you need some water first?”
Alice was not just smiling but laughing at this point. “Decus, I’m sure you too could make some crayon drawings of wings if you tried!”
Lloyd wasn’t really liking their tone here… Also, were they making fun of his wings now?
“Those wings are not my style, Alice! I mean, unless you want me to wear them? Do… do you want me to? I’ll wear anything for you!”
“Haha! You’re such a loser, Decus!”
Yeah, he was getting a bad vibe from these two for sure. But he had to keep on smiling! “Hey, so, did you guys want to order something? I’ll get it for you fast!”
Alice turned to him with another of those weird smiles of her own. “Hm, don’t we get a discount though? For making us wait for so long?”
“Um, well, I’d have to ask my manager about that…” But he knew Sheena was busy right now, so...
“Just going to make us wait longer then? What terrible service!” Decus was talking really loudly again, swishing back his ponytail, and with that motion, a waft of his cologne went straight into Lloyd’s face. He had to turn to the side and cough. Okay, that scent was awful.
“And he’s sick, too!” Decus yelled. “I’m calling the health inspector! Don’t you dare get my Alice sick!”
What? “I’m not sick!” he said back, inwardly wincing at his tone. He had only been working here for about a week and was already bringing trouble to the café. Although he was already aware of how bad these guys were… “I’ll get you a discount then. Just let me know what you want.” Usually getting orders didn’t take this long.
Meanwhile, said Alice leaned back in her chair, crossing her arms with a pout. “I think we should get our drinks for free. Sick on the job, late on getting to our table, and yelling at my boyfriend?” She took out her phone, tapping away at the screen. “If not, I’ll have to leave a bad review on this place…”
Decus turned to her with wide and happy eyes. “B-boyfriend? So that means you-!”
“Oh my god, Decus, shut up.”
Gah, now he was going to lower their star rating too? Lloyd felt helpless, annoyed, and frankly, a little angry. “Okay! I’ll get you stuff for free, just tell me what you want.” Guess he was going to be paying their tab...
Alice thought for an increasingly long time, making Lloyd finding it a bit hard to stay still on his skates. “First, do something fun for us! Do a dance with those wings of yours!”
…Yeah, he was done with this. “No.”
Alice raised an eyebrow. “Oh? But you were being such a good servant boy!”
“Look, seriously. You guys need to order something if you’re going to be here.” He didn’t put up a smile anymore, and he hoped this wouldn’t mess up his chances with… “Also, your yelling is disturbing the other customers.” He knew why no one wanted to be near these two.
“Oh? Is that a problem?” Decus was sneering. “We’re not just bothering you, are we?”
“Maybe a little bit!” Lloyd said, losing his cool. Crap.
That was when a hand shot out to grab at him – or at his wing, actually! It nearly made him stumble on his skates, but he was able to keep his balance, if only slightly. “Hey! Let go!”
Decus only tightened his fist, enough to bend the wingtip and warp the shape. “What kind of guy wears these anyway?”
No one was nearby to hear his trouble, everyone already scared away by the cologne. Lloyd’s first instinct was to push the guy away… but he couldn’t do that to a customer. He’d get fired for sure! And if he got fired, then he wouldn’t be able to see-
“Lloyd! Is everything okay?”
At the familiar voice, he turned, finding Colette already skating towards him. She looked worried, her own wings fluttering behind her, even more glitter getting onto the floor. The floorboards were practically painted over with the stuff, reflecting pink and blue. She was rushing though, probably more than they were allowed to…
Also, she was carrying a plate full of drinks and cakes in her hands as she did so.
Lloyd already knew the outcome, but with the guy holding onto his wing, enough to tear the fabric a little, he couldn’t go to Colette to catch her. “Wait! Colette! You’re going to-“
The plate flew through the air, the drinks and cakes already past saving, seeming to go in slow-motion. Half of the Wings Café menu were quickly being delivered to the mean couple. At the very least, it got the Decus guy to finally let him go in order to try to save himself… even if it was in vain.
It was kind of a real mess afterwards.
“Agh! Decus, this is all your fault!”
Lloyd had rushed over to Colette, ignoring the fact that both Decus and Alice were trying to get frosting and caramel out of their hair. “You okay?”
Colette craned her head up, smiling with shame. “Ehehe… I messed up.”
The Wings Café never had a banned customer’s list before, but Lloyd felt some sense of relief when he helped post up both Alice and Decus’ pictures on the wall, showcasing other servers on who to never let in again. “Man, I’m really surprised I didn’t get in trouble for this…”
It was closing time right about now, and he and Colette were scheduled to help lock things up, and do any last-minute cleaning. Right now, Colette was quickly sweeping up the floors, free now of crumbs, lint, and a few extra sparkles, even though most sparkles were too impossible to ever get rid of. “When I told the boss about how they hurt your wings, he understood completely! He’s very nice.”
“You know, since I started working here, I don’t think I ever met our boss. You always make him sound like this perfect person…” Could Lloyd hope to be as cool as this mysterious man in charge?
“Oh, Mr. Kratos is very kind!” She came up to him, most of her sweeping now done. “He just has a serious face. He’d look nice in wings too if he wore them, I think.”
Something about that irritated Lloyd just a little. But a quick look at his wings, one of them now twisted at the end, the glitter having been swiped away, made him sigh. “Maybe I should stop wearing these things.”
“Oh… do you not like your wings anymore?” Colette fiddled with the broom handle, looking down. “You worked so hard on them.”
“Yeah, I did… but they keep getting in the way of people, don’t they? And then they can just be messed up easily like this…” He shook his head, looking to the floor, so messy now because of him. “Maybe those two were right though. They just look dumb on me.”
“I… I don’t think that’s true at all!”
Startled by the sudden emotion in Colette’s voice, Lloyd turned back to her. She had moved nearer, her blue eyes glinting with confidence.
“Lloyd, everyone has been happy ever since you started working here. And people love your wings! We get more and more customers coming by because of you.”
“People come by to see you too!” He argued, but she only continued.
“Your wings really do look great, Lloyd. And…the fact that you wanted to make them because of me, that made me very happy.” Her voice got quiet. “I’ve been so happy since you started working with me.”
With that, the reason why he applied for this job in the first place came back to him in full clarity.
“Hey, I’ve been meaning to ask-” He stepped forward, and felt himself slip, his skates catching on something unseen. Oh right, he was still wearing the skates…
Colette tried to keep him steady, she really did! Her arms reached out to wrap around his waist, but Lloyd was heavier than her, with longer legs that tripped hers. It was difficult keeping control of her own skates, and combined with Lloyd's didn’t make things much easier.
With a clatter, both fell to the floor, a shower of blue and pink floating in the air around them, catching the light of the café’s lamps. He felt a little crunch behind him, his wings suffering another injury today. Ah man...
“I- I’m so sorry, Lloyd! Are you okay?”
A little dazed, but Lloyd recovered, already sitting up. He leaned just a bit on his side, his bulky skates getting in the way of any comfort. “Yeah, it’s okay, I’m fine-” He stopped when he realized her face was near his, looking so concerned, her eyes open with worry.
“You’re really not hurt? I tried to hold on… but I couldn’t. I’m such a klutz. I think I messed up your wings a little too… I’m so sorry.”
In her trip, she had fallen just a bit over him. She began to move away, the glitter getting into her hair, her legs also stretched out awkwardly due to her skates. Through it all, her wings stayed in shape, always seeming to flutter whenever she moved. But there was more to her than that, like the way she held a mug so carefully in both hands, trying to safeguard it from future falls, or how she could tease him back just as easily, though one would never guess at first. The times she stuck her tongue out at him when the soap suds from his dishwashing got into his hair had been numerous, and each one always got him laughing.
The reason why he wanted to be here still resounded in his head.
Before she could completely go, Lloyd reached for her hands. This made her pause, looking at their connection before raising them back to his face.
“Uh,” he started, suddenly drawing a complete blank until... “Hey, uh, did you want to get coffee later?”
Colette was clearly confused by his sudden question, but that didn’t stop her from answering him. “Oh, I can get us some now if you want! I think it might be kinda old after being in the machine all day though.”
“Ah, no, not that!” Lloyd looked again to the ground, the floor a sparkling mess of blue and pink, their own bodies sprawled on it. More glitter that would never come off would be on their uniforms, but that had never bothered him. He still felt her grip in his hands. “I mean, like… somewhere else? Or it can be here, too! But I mean, when we’re not working?”
Colette blinked, framed by her wings still, by her hair, by the uniform that was slightly ruffled. The silence stretched on, making Lloyd drastically rethink his life choices. The urge to move his legs was getting strong, but well, that was hard to do now.
“Sorry, never mind, we don’t need to-”
Lloyd hesitated. “…Okay, we don’t need to? Or… to the other thing?”
He felt her clasp their hands tighter. Somehow, glitter had gotten on their fingers, too! But Lloyd didn’t mind still. He felt Colette didn’t either. “To the other thing!”
He gripped her hands back, unable to stop smiling, his cheeks aching from the strain. But he didn’t want to stop.
“Um, well alright!” Those were lame words to her acceptance, but his happiness was indescribable now. “So maybe like… after we’re done here?”
Colette nodded her head. “Yeah, of course!” She looked around them, trying to pull her knees in with some slowness. “Um, just gotta figure out how to get up…”
“Oh yeah… well, we got time!” He straightened, hearing the flap of his left wing. It tilted a little, looking forlorn, though still shining bright. “Hm, though I’m going to need to fix up these wings later..”
He felt Colette’s thumb rub against his hand in thought. “Does that mean you’ll still wear them then?”
Lloyd gave her a grin. “Well, yeah. I have to keep these if I’m gonna be staying here, right? Or we wouldn’t match anymore.”
Colette giggled softly, more softer than usual. He liked that. “You’re right! And.. I’ll help, too! If that’s okay.”
At that moment, Lloyd really felt like he was on wings, more than ever before.
The door chimed. Both Lloyd and Colette turned, ready with their smiles. “Hello! Welcome to the Wings-“
“Hold on! Quiet for a sec! The Great Zelos is joining your staff!”
Lloyd kept on smiling, looking so perfectly cheerful. “No you’re not.”
Zelos was taken aback by his best bud’s assurance. “Y-yeah, I am! Look! I even made my own wings!” He pointed behind him at some third-rate cardboard version of what looked like Lloyd and Colette’s wings coming out of his back… kind of. The wings were cut out lazily, the angles all sharp and uneven. It was painted orange, and half of the glitter was already washed off after having not being coated with care.
“Get ready for angel Zelos, serving all the pretty ladies here!”
Colette smiled politely. “Um! Looks… okay!”
One wing fell to the floor in a heap with a loud rip. Zelos blinked at it, a little confused as to how this happened.
In the back, Sheena’s uproarious laughter could be heard.
“Oh, I guess someone told Sheena a really good joke,” Colette thought aloud.