Whenever mikan felt sad, she would trace over the words on the side of her neck. A name, soft sounding—nanami chiaki. She felt adoration at it, the sound of leaving her lips like a prayer, a swelling feeling in her chest that was just right.
Her mom, when she found the mark, snarled at her. The hand that was cleaning a bite mark stilled, the sting making mikan hold in a whimper.
"Nanami chiaki, huh?" Her face was twisted up in something angry, a look that made her flinch. She slammed the bottle of aniseptic down, trading in out for a bottle of alcohol, the smell sending a wave of jitters through her. "She wont love you, you know," she felt the sting of tears, "no one could love you."
It was bitter and angry, born from the scorn of her own failed marriage, a soulmate mark in erod.
"It's you that no one could love."
She whispers it, recognizing projection, almost to low for her mother to hear.
She slames into her, holding her by her throat, "What did you say?"
She kept quiet, choking on the lack of air. Her mom scoffed, "Clean yourself up, you ungrateful brat."
Mikan cleaned herself up.
(Next time it happens, her mom doesnt even bother helping. Mikan learns to tend to wounds herself.)
She mets her by chance, bumping into her and her date as they stroll around the town. Her hair is down, out of her signature ponytails, her outfit lowkey. She didn't want to be notice, tonight.
"I-I'm sorry!" Mikan trips over her own feet—her clumsiness a habit that started to give her excuses for the bruises, but has never went away since. The girl (goddess) before her catches her, steading her with her lithe hands. The boy next to her scoffs.
"Are you ok?" Mikan eyes met blue.
And she falls again.
Junkos hands trace her shoulder blades, her name inscribed there. A place mikan couldnt see, but she could feel the letters as junko traced along her skin. "I love matsuda," she says, after a pause—the guy that was with her the first night they met.
"M-maybe you have two soulmates," she fidgets, resisting the urge to reach out to her, to hold her, touch her. She hums, "Maybe."
Junko reaches out and kisses her.
Mikan leans into it, reciprocating desperately.
"J-junko," she started, "i-i dont know how to play."
Junko tugged her along, a smile on her face, as she pulls her along.
"I'll teach you, miki!" Mikan squeeks at the nickname, following along hurriedly.
She stops for a minute, as she sees a pink haired girl pulling a brown haired guy along, before shrugging, resuming following after junko like a lost puppy.
"I don't think you love me," Junko looks across to her, and she pauses her doodles. Shes at junkos place again, drawing idly in the notebook she got her. "I think you just love the protection i provide you."
"What?" Mikan looks at her, fear lacing her face, dawning horror.
"Youre my friend, mikan," junko sighs, "I want the best for you."
"You're whats best for me!" She feels panic rising in her chest, a heavy weight that makes it hard to breathe.
"No, I'm not."
"Y-you're my soulmate!"
"I'm not, mikan."
"H-how do you know?! Y-your names on my shoulder!" Theres a pleeding note in her voice, hysteria. Shes slipping through her fingers.
"I went to the doctor. I got a test." She paused, "It's a platonic soulmate."
The world is falling from under her, "H-how.."
"I'm not your soulmate, mikan," she repeats, "or at least not your romantic one."
"I love you, but not like that," she smiled sadly.
Junko stands up, and walks away, mikan staring helplessly after her.
Mikan passes the arcade again, one of the first places she and junko went on a date. She feels tears stinging her eyes, and she tries to hold them in.
Startling, she only halfway realizes when her arms go to catch whatever ran into her, stopping a girl with pink hair from falling.
She blinks, looking up from her game.
She keeps going to the arcade after that, sneaking glances at the girl whenever she was near, never getting her name. It wasn't love at first sight (infatuation) like with junko. It was gradual. It was in the way she smiled so slightly when she won a game, or she caught her glances, leaving the impression she was pleased. Sometimes, with the patience of a saint (but human, oh so human, different than the unreachable goddess that was junko, a softer love rather than worship) she'd walk over to mikan, gently inviting her to play a game against her. Mikan always lost, but somehow, she felt happy anyways.
One day, one day—when she was quietly playing a game, tapping away with vigor, her tongue sticking out just a bit, her jacket slipped.
On her collarbone was a boys name.
Mikan finds herself hating someone shes never met.
She brings him, one day, a smile on her lips as she introduces him.
He smiles and ruffles her hair and it feels like mikans heart is dying.
(she finally gets her name.)
(her mother was right her mother was right hermotherwasright–)
"You're in deep," junko says, and mikan startles, looking down. Shes been writting her name, over and over. "I-I guess..."
Junko hums, flipping around to face her from her bed, "You totally are. You love her."
Mikans eyebrows furrows. "She doesnt love me."
"Does she even know your name?"
Mikans silence is answer enough. Junko stares at her, incredulous.
"Youre kidding me, right? You've been playing games with her for almost a year—"
"E-eight months and ten days, actually."
Junko glares lightly, "As i was saying, you've known each other for so long and you haven't even given her your name?"
Mikan nods, chastised. Junko makes a noise in the back of her throat, inbetween a laugh and a scoff. "You're almost as bad as mukuro, you know that?"
"H-how is sh-she doing, by the way?"
Junko smiled, "Her and chihiro are still oblivious, but what else is new? But don't think you can change the subject, mikan. I know you, we dated for four months—you like her. A lot."
Mikan bit her lip. "Maybe."
"Tell her," before mikan can finish, junko continues, "at least your name. Trust me."
She nods, "I-I'll think about it."
"Hey," chiaki greets, lazily, before pausing to think, "I've never got your name, but I've known you for a long time."
(She knew that shed have to face it eventually, face that shes one of the unlucky souls that has a unrequited mark, like her mother. She didnt want to tell her, her name, didnt want her to confirm her fears, what she was sure she already knew.)
(But she hears junkos words in her head and gathers up her courage.)
"I-Its mikan. Mikan tsumiki."
Chiakis eyes widen, her mouth opening slightly. Her hand flew up to her stomach, subcontiously.
And then she smiled.
"What about hajime?" Mikan has lipstick stains on her neck, a pale pink instead of red, her hair disheveled and eyes slightly hazy.
"Hajime?" The girl drawls, "What about him?"
She figets, "Aren't, aren't you dating?"
Her eyes widen, before she laughs beautifully, a quiet thing (still so different from the loud loud loud of junko) smiling up at her reassuringly.
"Hajime and I aren't dating."
"H-huh..?" Mikan looks subcontiously at her collarbone. Chiaki notices her gaze, understanding coming to her.
"We're platonic soulmates, mikan."
Mikan feels like laughing in relief. She ends up crying, instead, chiakis worried eyes gazing down at her as she wipes away her tears, and mikan smiles and smiles and smiles.
"I think I love you." Chiaki looks at her dreamily.
"I know I love you." Mikan gazes at her intently.
Theres no stutter in her voice.
(Junko's the bridesmaid, at their wedding, laughing as she nuggled her and said, "Aren't you glad you listen to me?")
(Looking towards her wife, her love, her soulmate, mikan smiles, "Yeah. I think I am.")