Opinions on Soulmate Gems varied from culture to culture, and nowadays, due to the connectivity of the internet and social media, opinions even more often varied from person to person.
There was one side of the spectrum, where someone would dedicate their whole life to ‘reading’ Soulmate Gems. Those who said they could predict the personality of your future soulmate, what they looked like, even in some cases, when you’d meet them.
On the other side, you had those who thought it all ridiculous hogwash- superstitious quackery. They said the gems were a simple genetic marker, no more consequential to your lover or future than the color of your eyes or hair.
Then, still more -a majority it seemed- fell somewhere in the middle. Looking up theory blogs online on what the colors of your Gems could mean, but ultimately just sitting back and waiting for when their match crossed their paths.
It was that third reasoning, that laidback, uncommitted medium, that left you without answers on your predicament for years. The first two decades of your life was nothing but questions, judgments and unwanted attention. “What’s wrong with your Gems?” “Oh, wow. You have extra? That’s...uh...cool.” “Gems on both arms, a symbol of great fortune, be thankful, my dear.”
Why were things different with your Soulmate Gems?
Your parent’s tried their best to give you a satisfactory answer, but they were one of those people who fell in the middle when it came to the superstition and belief in the strange jewels planted in the inside of one’s forearms. They only told you what most people would say about them: “The Gem on top, the one closest to your wrist, represented your soulmate. The one below it represented you. Their colors, shapes, cuts and shine quality were as unique as the qualities that make up a person’s face, and when you found someone who had matching gems only in reserved order on their arm, well, you just found your partner for life.”
The abnormality that came with you, was that you didn’t have gems solely on the left arm, where they were supposed to be. You didn’t even have the same gems on both arms. The two closest to your wrists were different, and under them both were the gems that were meant to represent you.
The one on the left, the only one you should have to symbolize your soulmate, was a gorgeous purple color somewhere between lilac petals and amethyst stone. Its shape was oval and the cuts to it had rounded edges, as if they had been buffered away to make its whole appearance more soft.
The one on your right arm was both a contrast and compliment to the first. Its color was a deep red that spoke of regality and strength, in the shape a triangle, though its cut made the shape more like a squat pyramid. Both had a brilliant shine quality, bright, with a glittering sparkle that you could stare at for hours.
You weren’t the only one who had two sets, it was not unheard of, but you still never got a straight answer as to what it meant! One side of the spectrum said it symbolized that you were one of the few who was gifted with the choice of two soulmates, destined for a romance worthy of Greek mythology. And still the other side said it was like a dog who had two different eye colors, a simple genetic mutation, nothing to worry about, move on.
The lack of answers was bad enough, but what really made your life…harder, was everything else that came with your extra Gems.
One’s first year of school was always awkward, but having something so visible that was so odd. Well…
“What’s wrong with your Gems?”
The first of the three girls crowding around your desk looked as though she was about to pull your right arm across the table for a better look. Still, you think you’d have preferred that over the strange sneers the other two were giving you.
“How are you supposed to find your Soulmate if you got that many?!”
Why was the second girl’s voice so…accusatory? As if it were a crime to have them on your other arm?
The third girl laughed. “She’s a freak if you ask me. Why would anyone want a soulmate who looks so weird?”
The other two laughed along with her, and you felt a swell of shame rise in your chest as you withdrew your arms from their sights and tucked them as close to your body as you could. You sniffled when you heard a couple other students sitting at the desks nearby join their laughter. No one felt the need to say anything to counter the remarks. Not even something as simple as: “At least your Gems are pretty!” Nothing.
High school was easier for a while, because by then you had filled your wardrobe with almost nothing but long sleeved shirts and jackets as far as tops were concerned. No one could mock you or ask invasive questions if they didn’t see what prompted them.
But then, there was Luka.
He was sweet. He smiled brightly when you two got paired for a class project. He was funny too, always cracking a joke between the studious moments. Not to mention he was cute, the way he blushed at your smile made you feel special.
He was sweet, and not everyone waited around for a Gem match, heck, not everyone even married a match.
“I know it may seem corny or stupid, but, you always wear jackets to school, so it’s got me really curious.”
A whole month of sweet, simple teenage dating passed before he asked.
“I just wanna see what your Gems look like, I bet they’re just as pretty as you.”
His smile and wink made you believe that for a minute, so, you caved.
“Oh, wow. You have extra? That’s...uh...cool.”
He was sweet, and you gave him plenty of credit for trying. Trying to pretend the almost startling mismatch in your Gem sets didn’t bother him, that he was okay with dating you despite the difference.
It didn’t last long before said mismatch started to feel like a barrier between you two, this impossible threshold that could never be crossed. He was sweet, but you could only handle his fake smile and awkward avoidances for a couple weeks.
Adulthood looked promising. You told yourself that as you matured, so would those around you. Besides, it’s not as if everyone isolated you, you had friends, good ones. Your extra Gems didn’t prohibit you from getting a job, or having a normal daily life. Those few negative instances cut you deep, but things could only get better with time, right?
Well, the thing that truly made you jaded in the whole ‘soulmate’ department came at age nineteen.
A warm summer day and a nice walk through town on your day off. You hadn’t expected to be stopped by an older lady, sitting in front of her apartment with a fan to cool herself. She looked familiar, though you couldn’t place her face.
“My dear, I sense such distress in you. Tell me, are you having troubles in regards to your soulmate?”
At first, you wanted to brush the woman off, why was she asking such strange things of a total stranger? Then her next words made you falter.
“I can give you answers. Answers that have eluded you your whole life, my dear. Give me a moment, and I’ll tell you all you need to know.”
Well, what was the harm in talking to a sweet old lady? She ushered you inside her home, the place obviously set up to receive guests often. Oh, she was one of those Gem Readers, someone who claimed that they knew the ‘language’ of the Soulmate Gems inside out. Well, you were opened minded enough to at least hear her out.
“Oh my my, I knew I sensed something different about you. Gems on both arms, a symbol of great fortune, be thankful, my dear.”
Her words sent excitement through you, maybe there was something to Gem Reading. But, the proverbial hammer fell quickly enough.
“Hm, it would take time to properly discern everything, you’d have to come back for several sessions, but, I can already tell that both of your soulmates are waiting for you.” She brushed wrinkled fingers over the shining specimens. “So very very special.”
You can’t believe you had almost handed over fifty dollars for the first ‘session’, before those last four words tripped something in your memory. The supermarket, not more than two weeks ago. It had been a particularly hot day, and you had rolled your sleeves up while shopping. Then an older lady came up to you and…
“You planned this?!” You didn’t mean to shout, but damn it you had almost fallen for her scheme. “You saw my Gems before today, and I walk down this street all the time, you didn’t sense anything from me, you were just trying to exploit my- my- abnormality!”
She stammered and faltered, making poor half excuse after poor half excuse. She was a bad liar, or at least, bad when she got caught in her lies. You stowed your cash back in your bag and when she made a grab for your arm as you turned to leave. You ended up toppling her trinket-laden table over before storming out with your fists white and teeth clenched.
That was the final nail. You had endured all the questions, all the judgment, all the unwanted attention for years, but, in a small way, you had always held hope that everything would be fine eventually. That you would find your answers, your soulmate, and it would all be worth it. That you could find your match and they’d be perfect for you, and you for them. You could be by each other’s sides and finally stick a middle finger up at the world because damn it, if one set of matching Gems meant you were soulmates, two sets meant that no one could question your match, right? Right?
You didn’t bother yourself with such things anymore. You moved on. Tired and disillusioned, that was all you felt you could do. Life was still fine. You had friends, wonderful friends who accepted you and your predicament without judgment. You had your career, and your day to day life was just fine. When a friend here or a coworker there met their matches, you were even happy for them. Things were just fine.
Long sleeves still being practically mandatory if you wanted any peace while out was a particular curse during the summer. You cursed the heat of the day as you walked the streets of Domino City. You were already itching to roll your sleeves up, the thin fabric not actually helping cool your body. “This won’t take long so just deal with it,” you told yourself. “Besides, I’m sure this game shop has air conditioning.”
You were currently not a resident of Domino, rather a visitor who was seriously thinking of taking a promotion at work that would move you here. One of your best friends from high school was attending a university here and was all too happy to talk the place up while you visited her. But today, she had asked a favor of you.
“Pretty please pick up his gift from the game store!” she had pleaded, referring to her boyfriend who was having a birthday soon. “I got called in for the late shift and don’t have time, besides, I think you’ll really like the store! It’s cute, and you can add it to one of the perks of moving here!”
So here you were, following the directions on your phone to this “Kame Game Shop” place. You nearly passed it completely if it hadn’t been for the little ding on your phone telling that you were here. It was indeed cute, small, but cute. A little classic bell even rung overhead when you opened the door, how sweet.
“Hello! Welcome to Kame Game, if you need anything just let me know!”
The chipper voice immediately drew your attention to the front counter. The young man behind it was greeting you the cutest smile as he opened up a display box of Duel Monster cards. Okay, not just his smile was cute, though you may just have to put him under handsome instead of simply adorable. Stylish too, his lilac colored long sleeved button-up and purple vest complimented his large, sweet eyes wonderfully.
Realizing that you hadn’t answered him yet, you cleared your throat. “Actually, I’m here to pick up something, a special order for Jen?”
“Oh, that’s right! She called me a bit ago and said her friend would be picking up the decks.” He walked over to the cash register and opened up a couple of drawers as you approached the counter. “Here ya go, three custom-built decks!”
He slid a box across the glass top over to you, and inside were three stacks of Duel Monster cards neatly placed. “She got him cards? And here I thought he owned cases and cases of these,” you mused with a giggle.
“Well, these are kind of special. She built them herself based on decks he’s always wanted and liked. We just had to order the individual cards for her.” The young man waited a beat, while you looked over the descriptions of the top cards, then asked, “Do you play?”
“No, not really. Always seemed interesting, but I never liked the idea of running into those jerk, elite gamer types.”
He let out a chuckle that made you blush a bit for some reason. “I can relate to that. It’s okay to be passionate about the game, but most don’t realize the best part is just having fun.”
“I wouldn’t mind playing if it was someone like you.” The words came out before you even knew you wanted to say them. You were glad you were still facing the cards, maybe the increasing redness of your face would go unnoticed.
Even just out of the corner of your eye, you saw him perk up. “Really? Well, I have some decks laying around, and today’s been pretty slow business-wise, if you’d like to play.” When a second passed and you didn’t answer or look up, he quickly added, “Only if you want to, of course, you don’t have to.”
“Actually,” you straightened up and looked at him with a smile of your own, “I’d like that.”
At that, he was smiling again. Okay, you would definitely have to put him in the handsome category, especially with the way his eyes seemed to sparkle. He held his hand out to you, “I’m Yugi, by the way.”
As it turns out, Yugi was not only a wonderful opponent but a wonderful teacher as well. There was still some aspects of the game you were fuzzy on, and he answered all your questions with delight, that smile of his never wavering. He was good at the game too, and beat you easily each time, but it never made you feel discouraged or…well, beaten at all really. Though it was bringing out a more playful competitive side to you.
“Alright, Yugi, it’s on now! I’ve gotten the hang of my strategy so I’m totally taking you down this time!” To accentuate your claim you even rolled up your sleeves, clapping your hands together in excitement.
He chuckled, “Oh yeah? Well, don’t think I’ll go easy on you just because you’re a beginner! I want both of us…to…” His voice trailed off as his eyes landed on your forearms. Your now exposed forearms.
You sighed inwardly, he didn’t have to make his staring that obvious. His lips were slightly parted in shock, eyes wide in surprise. Well, better address it head-on.
“Weird right? The percentage of people with multiples Soulmate Gems is pretty low, but, here I am.” You waved your arms in what you’d hope would be a cute motion, but it only seemed awkward in the silence. You opened your mouth to say something else, but suddenly, Yugi seemed to regain himself.
“Oh! Oh man, I’m sorry for staring but I just- Well I mean-” he let out a shaky breath “I can’t believe it!”
“Hey, it’s not that weird,” your tone was lightly scolding, honestly you were about two minutes away from leaving.
“No- no! That’s not what I meant!” He put his hands up, looking a bit panicked at your defensiveness. “It’s just that you’re-!” Apparently at a loss and looking more ecstatic by the moment, he forgot words entirely and settled for action.
That action, was to roll up the sleeves of his button-up with hasty, shaking hands- and reveal his Gems to you. His multiple Gems.
“We’ve finally found you!” Yugi sounded near tears with how happy he was, but your attention was too focused on both of his arms.
On his left wrist, was a triangular shaped Gem of a rich red. Below it, the one that represented Yugi was a rounded, soft looking purple Gem. Those, and the one on his right wrist, the one that matched your personal Gem perfectly, were all jewels you knew too well.
You were too stunned to do, well, much of anything, besides cover your mouth with your hand. Yugi took your state into consideration, because he let you take it all in, to hang in the shock for a moment, but not too long. He covered the hand that was still on the counter with his own, a joyful tear actually escaping his eye.
“We’ve been waiting for so long, I can’t believe you’re finally here.”
“W- We?” you managed to choke out.
His eyes widened again, as if remembering something, “Right, there’s someone I want you to meet. Someone you need to meet.” He bit his lip as he looked over at the wall clock. “Do you mind waiting here?”
Not for the first time since meeting Yugi you found words pouring from your mouth before you even knew to say them. “Of course.”
Apparently the shop doubled as a home, because Yugi quickly ushered you to an unmistakably residential part of the building. As you sat down on the couch he seemed a bit scatterbrained, looking about the room and casting glances back to the store.
“Uh, I still have to watch the shop, can you wait here for a bit?”
“Oh, uh, yeah that’s fine.”
Yugi’s smile was back in place and he reached down to give your hands a gentle squeeze, his eyes raking over your Gems again as he said, “I know you probably have a lot of question, but I promise we’ll talk soon, we just need someone else here too.”
For a moment he looked as though he wanted to do something else before parting, maybe he wanted to hug you or give you a kiss on the cheek. But if he did he must have decided the act was too fast too soon, because he did part without any of that, leaving you alone in his living room.
You let out a shaky breath in his absence, still trying to wrap your mind around all of this. Yugi was your soulmate. Or at least, that was the only thing you could assume given your matching sets. But, what of the red pyramid Gem? You had heard from several soulmate theorists that it meant you had the pick of two soulmates, while still others said it was just an aberration that meant when you found your match, it was undoubtedly your match because you had more than two Gems to compare.
As you sat in the quiet, alone in your thoughts, your fingers curled into fists on top of your lap. A moment later you found yourself hastily pulling your sleeves back down to your wrists, finding comfort in the cover. Things were still so uncertain. Yugi however, Yugi seemed to have answers. Maybe this other person he wanted you to meet was some expert on soulmates and gave him answers long ago. In spite of that, you felt oddly...panicked. You had spent so long with so many people who imposed their opinions on you, both positive and negative. Hadn’t you been content with the idea of never meeting your match? Of resigning yourself to never getting a definite answer? Yes? No? Maybe?!
You rose to your feet, you needed air, you needed to clear your mind. There was a back door between the living room and kitchen. You’d just step out for a minute, Yugi wouldn’t mind, you’d come back soon, you just need to-
The door you had just grabbed the handle of opened from the other side and the wood smacked you hard on the forehead. You didn’t fall to the ground, thankfully, but you did stumble back, rubbing your head and hissing in pain.
“I’m so sorry, are you alright?”
The voice that called out to you was deep, almost innately husky even when just apologizing. You looked up, and your breath, as well as words, seemed to catch in your throat.
The man before you placed a hand on your shoulder, looking concerned as his eyes looked over your face for signs of injury. He was tan, with eyes and hair that looked similar to Yugi’s, though there were hints of red in both. He was wearing a simple light tan tee-shirt, with several necklaces to style it up. One pendant was an eye symbol of some sort, another bearing hieroglyphs and the third being an ankh. Was he Egyptian? Well, he obviously liked jewelry, because to compliment his necklaces he was wearing gold metal bands that covered almost all of both his forearms.
Yugi, you had first thought cute, then handsome a moment later. This man was the opposite. The word handsome hit one in the face like a hammer when laying eyes on him. From the serious shape of his ruby eyes to the more sharp features of his face. But then, when looking closer, some things spoke of a gentler nature, things that said his smile and laugh made him look sweet and soft for a moment.
Oh, you had been staring. Staring way too long because he was now looking at you with a confused kind of concern. “Yeah, I’m fine, you just startled me is all.”
The corner of his lip lifted into something between a smile and a smirk. “Sorry about that. Are you a friend of Yugi’s?” he asked as he shut the door behind him and made for the kitchen counter to set down the takeout bags he was carrying.
“Uh, yeah, I guess you could say that. He’s still watching the store and apparently there’s someone he wants me to meet.”
The man looked a bit confused for a moment but seemed to brush it off quickly. He turned to face you fully again, leaning back against the kitchen counter. “Well, allow me to introduce myself, I’m Atem.” He held his hand out for you to shake.
You did and offered your own name in return. “So do you live here with Yugi or something?” you asked, indicating the food he had brought.
“Well, Yugi and I do live together, but we have our own apartment. Right now we’re simply watching over the house and store while his Grandfather is away.”
With a quiet ‘oh’ as your only response silence was sure to settle between you two. For some reason you didn’t want that to happen, you wanted to know more about him, just as you did Yugi. Before you could think of anything, and thankfully before silence settled, Atem spoke.
“So, did Yugi say who he wanted to introduce you too?”
“No, he was actually pretty vague, but I assume it’s someone who knows something about Soulmate Gems.”
He raised an eyebrow, “Really, Soulmate Gems you say?”
“Well, I think so. While we were talking we discovered that we have the same…abnormality?” Since your words were even unsure to yourself, to make him understand you pulled your sleeves back. “See? We both have too many Gems.”
Later, much much later, you would think yourself quite stupid for not having made the connection sooner, but, realization dawned on you when he looked down at your arms- and had the same reaction as Yugi. His eyes went wide, his lips slightly parted, unable to speak or take his eyes off you.
Silence did fall then, and your mind finally started to connect the dots as the door to the game shop opened again.
“Atem, there you are! Did you leave your phone here again? I’ve been trying to get ahold of you!”
Yugi paused his advanced into the room when he saw you and Atem standing not far apart, with your Gems bared to him. He gave an awkward but pleased laugh as he stepped beside Atem and met your eyes.
“This is who I wanted you to meet. He…well…” Yugi looked to Atem for help in explaining and, much like Yugi had, Atem chose action over words.
The man turned towards the counter and started removing his wristbands. He paused for only a moment before facing you again. The red triangle whose cut looked so much like a pyramid was present on both his arms, and above them, on his wrists, were the Gems of you and Yugi.
Although your mind had been connecting everything even before that, the visual, physical evidence still sent waves of…something through your core. Shock? Relief? Hope? Happiness? Maybe it was all that in one, but whether it was all that or more it made your knees buckle as a sob broke through. Later you might feel stupid, who fell to the ground in tears when meeting their soulmates? Plural. You had two soulmates, and they were each other’s as well. Why hadn’t that been the obvious answer?
Yugi and Atem called out your name as they joined you on the floor, Yugi taking your hand, Atem placing his on your arms, both looking beyond concerned. At least Yugi looked close to tears as well, Atem’s hands also shook, maybe they felt this as much as you.
“I- I’m sorry, I just-” a sniffle broke your words as you tried to regain yourself, “I just spent so long not knowing. I was told I was a freak, that I was special, and everything in between. I- I just, I’m just so…so…”
You didn’t need to finish. Both of them pulled you in, wrapping their arms around you in the most wonderful hug you could have ever imagined. Atem was running fingers through your hair, saying that it was okay, that you didn’t need to explain it to them. Yugi’s hands rubbed soothing circles up and down your back, murmuring agreements, assuring that you didn’t have to apologize for being overwhelmed.
“We’re together now, everything’s going to be okay now.”
Kneeling there with them, words from some time ago, from an opportunistic old woman came floating back. “I can already tell that both of your soulmates are waiting for you.” Who knew part of her scheme had been right? You might owe her an apology.
Time passed but it didn’t matter, tears and shaking had settled by the time all of you were finally ready to break from the hug. Yugi gave a watery smile as he brushed his fingers over your cheek. Atem was practically beaming as he cupped your hand in his and moved to stand, pulling you with him.
“We have a lot of catching up to do,” Yugi said as he rose as well.
“It’s a good thing I bought extra takeout,” Atem chuckled as they led you to the kitchen table. “Shall we consider this our first date together?”
You couldn’t help but laugh, a warm, happy, hopeful laugh. “I’d really really like that.”