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the Mark on your Skin

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Music began to blare through the speakers in anticipation for the team arrivals, “And now, please welcome to the field, team New Zealand and team USA!”

A round of applause rang through the air as both teams ran out parallel to each other and headed for opposite sides of the center line.

Brock pulled himself to his feet as did many other people sitting around them, a ruckus of applause and cheering around him, Bucky already standing and yelling in eager excitement with cupped hands around his mouth. Brock chose to keep his arms folded over his chest but he was there in spirit. He scanned the players, his eyes roaming over the back ends of New Zealand’s team until he sharply drew in a small breath when he got to who he was looking for, #9 standing near the far end of the field.

“Please don’t tell me you’re already checking out Rollins when the crowd hasn’t even sat down yet, you traitor.”

Brock scoffed, tightening his arms across himself. “‘Course I ain’t. Jus lookin’ at what we’re up against and don’t call me no traitor. You know full well if Italy was in this shit there’s no fuckin’ way I’m cheerin’ fer Americans, even if Rogers is on the team now.”

He let his eyes trail over to the wing tattoo at Bucky’s wrist, the one that happily hummed in a soft blue glow just from the mere mention of Steve. It seemed to run on it’s own wave length and he looked down at his own bare wrist, a pang of something striking him before it dissipated.

“Don’t you act like you wouldn’t accept an invitation to spend some time with any of these teams in their locker room if they asked you to.” Bucky threw back. “You’ll cheer for anyone with a nice ass and a solid body.” For emphasis he did a great impression of giving the air a blow job before grinning smugly at him.

Brock hated him.

He shook his head and went back to watch the kick off and maybe appreciating a little too much at how snug some of the uniforms were over wide biceps and thick thighs. It wasn’t very long before New Zealand made run for it, #9 flanking in from the far side and catching a pass midair as he leaped over arms diving to grab at his waist for a tackle. The crowd was definitely home advantage but a wave of oh’s lifted through the stadium over the sheer athleticism of the action. The ball was passed over and with a sharp burst of speed the All Blacks were up by five points in the first 30 seconds of the game.

“You know they continually fight to knock us out of first place, stop making heart eyes at the enemy.”

Brock smirked. “Hey, ya gotta admit that was some move.”

“Fine, I’ll admit that if you admit that your crush on a guy you see live once a year is sad.”

“It ain’t sad, it’s jus- ” He shrugged helplessly because he really couldn’t explain it. The second he laid his eyes on Jack Rollins, he was just really attracted to him. He always pulled up Rollins’ team bio when he’d get home and stare at it, replaying how he performed out on the field like it was completely normal. In reality it was really sad, he knew, he’d been ogling from afar for three years and only for two days of each year when the teams came into town to play the tournament. The rest of the year he barely bat an eye to rugby except maybe to play when Steve was in town. When the Sevens come in though, Brock couldn’t help the feeling he had to see Jack, even if it was from afar. “It’s a feelin’, alright? Get off my dick.”

Bucky didn’t reply, his eyes glued to the game. With the conversation over and done with, Brock dropped back into his seat and kept his own eyes on that black #9 jersey.

It was the second fan intermission and Brock thought about grabbing a beer when Bucky elbowed him in the side, looking over from his phone. “Wanna meet your dream boat? Steve told us to come meet him downstairs at the locker rooms. USA isn’t playing for another hour and a half, he’s got some down time.”

Shrugging because Brock had no idea what that would entail or if he really did want to meet Rollins, he silently followed Bucky down a specific route to get through security without causing a massive issue. Steve was waiting for them, still in uniform and Bucky’s soulmark practically beamed. Steve’s did too, a red hue of a star at his wrist, it was nice that they figured it out early in their lives but it just sucked how much it reminded Brock he was pushing almost 30 and his mark had never appeared yet. Everyone’s opinion on the matter was that it would appear when it wanted to and that was that, it was just that he wanted some sort of sign it would actually happen instead of feeling like every year that passed was more evidence he wasn’t made for that sort of thing.

He shook it off when Steve turned his way with that expression he knew meant the man was plotting. They followed along, the echoed rumble of the crowd above them humming through the corridor and Brock peeked past some double open doors to spy a few players receiving massages in the trainers room. Guys from other teams wandered along, idly killing time before their own matches would come up, some lined along the wall doing routine stretches, some taking time out for themselves to tune out all the noise with music. Others got some food to eat, lined up at tables and engrossed in their own conversations.

Steve passed the USA locker room entirely and it wasn’t very long before Brock realized where they were headed, his gaze catching a handful of black long sleeved shirts emblazoned with silver ferns on them playing pass off to the side and talking amongst each other.

Jack was one of them because of course he was.

Steve grabbed a hold of his arm firmly before Brock could make any sort of excuse. “Let me introduce you.”

“C’mon Rogers, he ain’t standin’ around waitin’ fer someone to talk to ‘im. He’s busy and I don’t wanna be pesterin’ no one- ”

“It’s fine.” Steve grinned, making a beeline to the group of New Zealanders. “He’s really nice, trust me.”

Jack looked much handsomer up close, Brock’s hand absently scratching at his inner wrist. He really wished the ground would open up beneath him right then and swallow him fucking whole.

*****

Jack hadn’t meant to lose track of his surroundings while trying to keep to a small area. They’d been waiting until they were cleared to practice on the field and he tuned everyone going by out, but Johnson threw it too high and he went after it instead of watching where it went only because he was trying to avoid it hitting someone. Instead of catching the ball he felt a jolting spark of something, a burn or sear despite no pain coming from his wrist, Steve Rogers’ face popping up at the corner of his vision just before connecting into another person.

He tried his best to avoid it, but it was like a bad accident he couldn’t stop from unfolding. Within seconds, Jack saw a few faces shift from smiles to horror, the strange searing feeling tingling at his wrist and the ball bouncing off a couple of fingers and down the hall, his body colliding into another and a sharp shoulder digging into his chest, knocking the wind out of him.

Hands roughly grabbed at his arms and Jack quickly pulled himself up, glad he was conditioned for quick recovery. He was pulled back by the back of his shirt and hastily got up to his feet, automatically grabbing the hand on him to help them up, the man’s face still tucked downwards. “Sorry, mate. Didn’t see ya ‘til it was too late.”

“You knocked the fuck outta him!”

He frowned Johnson’s way, the man’s friend trying to bring his head up. “Hey, you alright?”

“Brock, you okay?” The brunette next to him asked, concern etched across his face.

Looking up, the man lifted his arm, exposing his wrist to show a silver fern etched to his skin, his eyes wide and clearly in shock. Instinct called Jack to reach out, his fingers lightly tracing the mark, the silver glow blossoming at each area he touched until the entire thing was lit up.

Reaching for his own sleeve, that ongoing seering sensation thrumming along, Jack tugged the fabric upwards to find a white skull and crossbones outlined in black at his wrist. He wasn’t sure why it was that, but right now he didn’t care..he finally found who he was linked to in this world.

Jack looked back over, to who he assumed was Brock, to gauge his soulmate’s reaction. “..Brock?”

Their eyes met for a brief moment before his arm was abruptly snatched and fingertips brushed across the skull in a strange awe. Everyone seemed to go quiet around them and Jack really couldn’t be bothered to see just how many people had stopped when his soulmate was right in front of him.

“It’s real..shit it’s fuckin’ real. Jesus Christ.”

Jack opened his mouth to say something but then Brock smiled wide at him and he suddenly lost all concept of words. He couldn’t help smiling back, still in a little bit of a disbelief that their moment was happening here, in a completely different country. He always thought it would be someone back home, not in the States inside a locker room corridor under the stands and seating within a stadium. Meeting your one was more important than any cup or trophy but he was grateful to finally get here, especially since it seemed like a fluke that Brock just happened to be a random fan that had the luck of knowing someone.

A whistle blew behind them, their coach wading in through the cluster of various players from other teams vying to see what was going on. “Let’s go, let’s go! We’re up on the field for warm ups! Change into your jerseys and get moving!”

Jack had to think fast, not wanting to lose his chance. “Will you come back and meet me here after our games are over?” He momentarily glanced over at his coach who was giving him the look to get moving but he had to know before left.

“Uh, yeah. I can do that as long as they let me back down ‘ere.” Jack couldn’t help notice the way he seemed breathless, it felt almost the same way for him.

Rogers steps in closer, a hand patting at Brock’s shoulder. “Go ahead and warm up, I’ll make sure to get him a pass.”

“Thank you.” Jack’s hand grasped at the one Brock still had pressed to his wrist, never wanting it leaving him. “I’m Jack.”

“I know.. I’ve been- ” Brock shook his head and gave a helpless shrug. “M’Brock, I- ”

There was a sensation of helplessness washing over him and it seemed to be coming entirely from Brock, though he knew the feeling well. Eyes were still on them and it was hard to think. He gave Brock’s hand a squeeze hoping it would be enough until they could find somewhere private and really have a chat. “We’ll talk soon, yeah?”

“Yeah, soon.” Brock repeated, clearly in some daze. There was a game coming up though and he had to get his head back into it for his team. He cupped his free hand over the one he was holding Brock’s hand with and nodded.

“I promise.”

Finally slipping his hand away, Brock nodded, more aware of their surroundings and turning his head to Rogers and their friend before looking back at him. “Me too.”

It was all Jack needed before he headed outside, glancing back one last time before he forced himself to move faster and focus on what he was here for originally, to win.

It definitely wasn’t how Jack ever expected meeting his soulmate, but considering his life, he wasn’t all that surprised.