Every summer since Dominick "Sonny" Carisi Jr. was eight years old, his parents dropped him off at a summer camp. It was on the northern side of Staten Island and along the water. The drop-off went the same every time. His mom would get out and hug him, and his dad would honk the horn as they drove off. A counselor would be there to help Sonny to his cabin where a second counselor would be waiting. That counselor is the cabins counselor and would be the person Carisi would be stuck with for the next week and a half. They would greet him with the same smile every time (because they knew him so well.) They would all say, "hey, Sonny! Ready for this summer?"
He would smile and say "you know it." He was known around the camp as the kid who didn't have a soulmate. Which was fine by him, he didn't really mind. That just meant he could have long talks about his soulmate-less life with his counselors and fellow cabin mates. Everyone knew that even if you don't get a soulmark at birth, it has a possibility of slowly developing as you get older.
"What do you imagine they're like?" They ask.
"Are they a girl or a boy?" It doesn't matter which.
"What do you imagine your first meeting to be like?" Carisi imagined it to be a normal afternoon, then bam! he has a soulmate.
He remembers when two counselors found out they were each others soulmate at camp. He was obviously unable to hear the conversation leading up to it, but suddenly everybody started clapping at the counselor named Alex was kissing the other named Robin. Sonny's heart soared as he watched the two sway in each other's arms. All he could think was, I hope that can be me.
Then came Sonny's age-out year. He was sixteen years old and in his last year at camp. All the counselors were looking forward to him coming on staff. Gracie walked him to his cabin as she made small talk regarding school and such. She wished him a good time at camp as she turned the other direction and Sonny walked into the cabin. The bunkbeds were empty thus far, but that's usual since his parents drop him off early. The counselor glances up at him from his bracelet-making. "Hey," he nods in Carisi's direction. Sonny puts up a hand as a "hello" and he tries to decide which bed to take. He steals a look towards the counselor. He looks older than Sonny, well, older than most counselors at camp. Most likely around twenty, twenty-one? He has styled brown hair that was kept off his face. His eyes reflect an emerald green as the sun hits them just right. Sonny swallows. The counselor is stunning.
Sonny turns and goes to throw his suitcase on the nearest top bunk, he hates being on the bottom. As he does so the wood below creaks, Sonny curses, and the whole top bed frame collapses.
"Well that didn't fucking go as planned."
Rafael freezes when the words spill from the campers mouth. His throat goes dry and his breathing turns shallow. He hears the words again in his head as he imagines the sentence scrawled out in messy writing on the back of his left shoulder. It could be a phantom pain, but his arm starts burning. He shakes the feeling away and goes to help.
"Don't worry about it, all the stuff here is super old. It was just a matter of time before something broke." Rafael said and reached into the mess to grab out the suitcase. The camper, his soulmate, thanked him and bit his bottom lip.
"Sorry, I didn't mean-"
Rafael smiled, "you're fine I'll contact the handy-man and get him to fix it up by afternoon. I'm counselor Rafael Barba, and you?"
"Dominick Carisi Jr., but everyone calls me Sonny."
Rafael smiled wider, cute, he thought. His Staten Island accent so thick it intertwined with every word he spoke. Every cell in Barba's body was telling him to reach up and kiss the sixteen-year-old in front of him and tell him that he was absolutely everything he had imagined and more. Something was holding him back. He wasn't sure if it was his own dilemma that being he wanted to be the one to choose his soulmate, not the other way around. But there was something else, something that felt as if he was physically being blocked from the camper in front of him.
Turns out, since the camp is loosing stamina with campers, it would just be Rafael and Sonny in the cabin. Sonny didn't really have any objections, why would he? Rafael, on the other hand, wasn't so sure about it in the beginning. It was relatively awkward, but Sonny had a very extroverted personality and who could resist those blue eyes and dimples?
It was difficult avoiding the subject of soulmates when Rafael was watching his from across the table. All of a sudden Sonny asked, "you have a soulmate, counselor?"
Rafael swallowed, finishing up the line on his bracelet before answering, "I do, I mean...I have a mark but I don't have anyone waiting at home for me." He finished with a smile.
"What about you?"
Sonny shrugged, "I was born without a soulmark. I'm not sure if it'll ever form or not. I've done some research on it and found that it is extremely rare for people to be born without them and still have it not form later on in life. If I go past my twentieth birthday without any mark, it'll be official. I won't have one." Sonny gave a weak smile.
Rafael felt like fainting, like passing out. They weren't soulmates? Or were they just not tied to each other yet? It was like the feeling from before had just multiplied. The room started to sway back and forth as he got up and excused himself to the bathroom. Sonny watched him leave, wondering if he had said something to upset him.
Moments passed and Rafael didn't come back out. Sonny glanced at his watch and decided if he doesn't come out in the next minute he'd go check. The minute passed, and then the next. Sonny cursed and walked towards the bathrooms. "Rafael?" He called out.
There was a flushing of a toilet and the door swung open to the first stall. There Barba stood looking like all the blood drained from his face. "Sorry, I..." He trailed off and his eyes rolled back into his head. Sonny reached out and caught the counselor, just then realizing how small Rafael really was. "My...shoulder," he croaked, "it burns."
Sonny's stomach dropped and checked underneath the shirt to find the counselor's soulmark. What Sonny saw terrified him. It was burning a hot red and there ran a thick line, still forming, through the center of the soulmark. He had only heard of a few instances of this happening:
1) The person's soulmate died.
2) The person was mislabeled for a soulmate and actually did not have one.
3) They met their soulmate and...it didn't work out.
The third option has always been the scariest to Sonny. It happened to one of his sisters when she was in high school. They had met each other and the guy said "this is it? I'm supposed to spend my life with this tramp?" The guy had then turned and walked away. His sister had been in bed for the next week, pain and heartache slowly killing her.
"Counselor? Stay with me okay?" Sonny said and began to bring the counselor back to the main cabin. Then something really strange happened, a new soulmark began to form, one right below the old soulmark. A new soulmate? Sonny could't believe it. He began to read it, Am I right, counselor?
A shooting pain followed by a tingling feeling which shot up Sonny's right leg. He grunted into the pain, trying his hardest to keep them both upright. He battled against the darkness that was surrounding his peripheral vision. Soon enough, darkness overcame his vision completely.
Sonny woke up in a hospital with one thought in his mind, guess summer camp is a no-go this year. He laughed at his remark in his head and tried to sit up but a blinding pain shot through his right leg which forced him back down. He furrowed his brow and tried to remember what had happened prior. He had gotten to the camp and met a counselor...what was his name again? Sonny's eyes shot open as everything came flooding back to him. The counselor had passed out due to a pain of...what exactly? The pain of getting a new soulmate? Sonny fainted too because...why did he faint?
He remembered his leg going numb...
Sonny rubbed his temple's as he felt a migraine coming on. He remembered..a shooting pain, and then he fainted. He rubbed at his leg and found it was extremely tender right below his boxer line. Sonny glanced around before lifting up the blankets and sheets to reveal a single word. Sonny grinned. No, beamed. It was only one word, but it was still a soulmark. It was his soulmark. He read it upside down over and over again. Seldom.
That's when he noticed a slip of paper folded nicely and resting easily on the nightstand. Sonny picked it up and flipped it open, it read:
Rafael Barba #: 333--------
Hope you are okay, text/call me when you can.