There was a drawing on Aoi's arm when he woke up.
At first, he stared at the image, trying to make sense of the two circles connected to a squashed heart-shaped object by two curved lines. Then, as though he had been struck by lightning, his groggy mind connected the dots and realized what exactly he was staring at.
It's a penis.
A scream escaped his mouth and resounded throughout the room. He stared at the childish, yet graphic drawing on his bicep, mind frantically trying to make sense of the situation.
I didn't draw that. I'd never do that! And I'm certain nobody drew that on me! I was just at home alone watching dramas last night! He frantically rubbed at the dark lines, to no avail. The black ink continued to proudly display the appendage on his arm. Did my soulmate draw this? He whined and buried his face in his pillow in defeat. Why would they do that?! What happened to all those cute stars and fluffy dogs and the occasional sweet message..?!
After what felt like an eternity, Aoi pulled himself out of bed. He tugged open the drawer to his dresser and stared at its contents. It's too warm to put on a sweater, but I don't want people to see it. Maybe I should draw over it and turn it into something else? But the more he forced himself to think about the drawing, the more his stomach churned and cheeks flared with embarrassment.
Why is this happening to me?!
Arata was woken up abruptly to the sound of a loud crash. When he tried to sit up, he felt his arm slip and his body follow through with the motion, causing him to tumble face first onto something hard.
"Ow," Arata grunted as he sat up, rubbing his eyes. When the world finally came into focus, he realized he was lying on the floor beside a sofa, tangled in a thin blanket. "What..?"
"Did something else fall..? Oh, it's just Arata. Nothing to worry about."
"Goddammit," Arata mumbled. "What happened, Pink-head?"
Koi took a seat on the arm of the sofa. "You passed out in the middle of a race, that's what. You was making fun of you all night afterwards."
"Where is he?"
"Washing his face. He woke up like ten minutes ago."
"Ode to joy." Arata pushed against the sofa to haul himself to his feet. He winced when his head throbbed in protest. "Remind me to never drink with you ever again."
Koi stuck his tongue out. "That's my line! Now hurry up and get out of here already."
"You try operating like a normal human being when you're hungover."
"Already am. Now move!"
Yoru smiled when Aoi took a seat beside him. "Good morning," he greeted. "Sleep well?"
"Yeah." Aoi promptly collapsed, face buried in the desk.
"Aoi?!" Yoru yelped. "Are you okay? Do you feel unwell?!"
"Yoru, what am I going to do?" Aoi groaned.
Aoi lifted his head, blue eyes carefully examining their surroundings. When he confirmed that there were no onlookers, he pulled his jacket aside to reveal his upper arm to Yoru. Lapis eyes immediately widened upon spotting the black lines.
"W-why is there…? A…a thingy? That's a…thingy! W-why is…thingy..?!"
"I know, Yoru." Aoi covered the drawing again, cheeks dusted with pink. "I woke up and it was there. I guess my soulmate must've drawn it or something."
"I don't know!" Aoi folded his arms on the desk and buried his face between them. "I want to get rid of it, but I don't know how!"
"C-can't you just write a message asking your soulmate to, like, erase it?"
"…I didn't think about that."
Yoru sighed. "Aoi…"
"I was too frazzled!" Aoi lifted his head. "Do you…have a pen on you?"
Yoru sighed again as he reached into his bag. "You're lucky You likes it when I write to him."
"You're a lifesaver." Aoi rolled down his sleeve and scribbled a quick message on his forearm. "I hope they see it…"
"I'm sure there's a good reason why they decided to draw that…thingy on your arm," Yoru said as he took the pen back. "At least…I really, really hope there is."
They were half-way to the train station when You suddenly stopped Arata in his tracks. "I can't have you walking around in public like that."
"Like what?" Arata looked down at the t-shirt and jeans he was wearing. "I literally wore this last week and you had no problem with it."
"You haven't noticed?!"
You grabbed Arata's arm and held it up. "This thing!" He pointed at Arata's bicep. Gray eyes lazily followed the redhead's finger, finally falling upon the drawing etched into his skin.
"Oh. It's a dick."
"Cool. Did I draw that?"
The question earned Arata a smack upside the head.
"Owie. You-kun's so mean."
"I really hate that my-pace attitude of yours sometimes." You sighed into his hand. "I can't believe you're about to go to class like that even though you showered and changed and everything."
Arata scratched the back of his head. "To be fair, I didn't notice it was there until now."
"Whatever! Just…" You took off his jacket and threw it in Arata's direction. "Put this on. I'm not going to let you walk around in public like that after you got drunk and decided to draw a cock on your arm."
Arata snorted as he unfurled the jacket. "You-kun is so kind~"
"Can it." You shook his head. "That poor soulmate of yours, man…"
"Soulmate? What about them?" Arata looked down at his arm again. "Oh. Oh. Right. Well, I'm sure they've noticed by now."
"Can't you try to show a little more concern for the poor person who got stuck with you?"
"I'm sure they're fine." Arata blinked when he saw words suddenly form on his forearm. "See, look. They've already started alerting me about the situation."
You squinted at the words. "'Please remove the atrocity from our arms.'" He facepalmed. "Man, you are so dead whenever you two meet."
"I'm sure it'll be fine." Arata pulled on the jacket. "Anyways, your little moon going to get mad if you're late. So let's go~"
"Oi, Arata! Wait up!"
"Any reply yet?"
Aoi gazed at his arm mournfully. "No, unfortunately."
Yoru's eyes glimmered with sympathy. "Maybe they're asleep?"
"I dunno." Aoi pulled his sleeve down. "Is You coming?"
"He's probably late." Yoru leaned back on the bench. "I think he went to some party last night. Wouldn't be surprised if he overslept."
"Assuming he got any sleep at all." A smile spread across Aoi's face. "Well, then again, I'm sure he'd willingly get up so he can spend time with his soulmate."
"Stop it…" Yoru's ears were pink. "Oh, speaking of which..!"
Aoi followed Yoru's gaze down the sidewalk. Two boys—one red-haired, one raven-haired—were walking towards them, seemingly caught in some lively banter.
"You." Yoru stood to greet the redhead. "You look decent compared to that text you sent me last night."
"Oi. What's that supposed to mean?" You wrapped his arm around Yoru's shoulders regardless. "Hi, Aoi-chan. I'll leave this baggage to you."
"You-kun is so kind." Arata smiled in Aoi's direction. "Isn't he?"
"Sure." Aoi smiled wryly. Despite having known You and Arata ever since he started university, he regretfully was not as close to the two as people typically assumed.
"You, we'll be late for class." Yoru gently prodded You's side. "Come on."
"Okay, okay." You sighed, then waved at Aoi and Arata before heading down the sidewalk with Yoru glued to his side, talking softly to one another.
"It's amazing how lovey dovey You can be when Yoru's around."
Aoi turned to meet with Arata's blank expression.
"Yeah," Aoi agreed. "It is."
"If only he could be that docile when Yoru isn't stuck to his side." Arata flopped down on a nearby bench. "Come sit, Aoi-kun."
"We have class soon, you know?" Aoi joined Arata on the bench regardless.
"It doesn't start for a good while. We'll be fine." Arata leaned back. "Let's just enjoy the warm weather while it lasts."
Aoi chuckled softly. "Alright."
The two sat in silence for a moment, listening to the chatter of fellow students bustling about and the faint sound of downtown traffic in the distance.
Arata turned his head. "What's up?"
"Have you found your soulmate yet?"
Arata's eyes bored into Aoi's. "I am Mr. Lonely."
Silence. Then Aoi's shoulder began to shake with laughter.
"I'll take that as a no."
"Well, I know they exist," Arata said, leaning back against the bench. "But I don't know who they are."
"Have you asked them for a name?"
"Once, when I was a kid, but they wrote back saying they were too shy." Arata closed his eyes at the memory of the neat, child-like characters appearing on his forearm.
"Oh…" Aoi frowned. Why does that sound familiar..?
"I'm sure my soulmate is really cute though," Arata mused. "They seem to love it whenever I draw puppies and stuff on my hands."
That sounds like my soulmate and me. Aoi felt himself smiling at the thought. I wonder if my soulmate is someone like Arata…
"What about you, Aoi-kun?"
"Hm?" Aoi snapped out of his thoughts. "Oh. No, I haven't."
"So even the prince hasn't found his destined match yet."
Aoi snickered. "Who are you calling a prince?"
"Everyone in class says it." Arata cleared his throat, then said in a high pitched-voice, "Aoi-kun is so handsome! A gentle sparkling prince! I wanna be matched to someone like him!"
"Arata!" Aoi gently smacked Arata's arm, but he was laughing regardless.
"Well, they're not wrong. Aoi-kun is kind and handsome like an angel prince."
"I'm not an angel or a prince." He bowed his head. "I'm just Aoi."
Arata pursed his lips when he heard Aoi's voice falter. The blonde's eyes had darkened and even the little wings atop his head had begun to droop.
"Okay, Just Aoi."
Aoi glared at the dark-haired boy. "Arata."
"Ooo, a predatorial glare from Aoi-kun! A rare sight indeed!"
Aoi stared at Arata for a moment, then buried his face in his hands. "How are you the same quiet, sleepy Arata-kun from math class at the start of uni?"
"You just didn't get to see my other sides until later is all." Arata gently prodded Aoi's cheek. "Come on, Aoi-kun. I'm not that bad, am I?"
Aoi lowered his hands. "No." He sighed. "Sorry, I've just been out of it today."
At first, Aoi pursed his lips and said nothing. Then, "Something…unsightly was drawn on my soulmate, so it showed up on me as well. I wrote to them asking about it, but I haven't gotten a response yet…"
Arata's mind instantly went to the drawing on his bicep. "What was the unsightly thing? Lemme see!"
Aoi's ears flared red in an instant. "I don't want to show it."
"Oh come on," Arata urged. "It can't be as bad as what I drew on myself last night."
Aoi stared at Arata for a long moment. Finally, he let out a sigh, then took off his jacket.
Arata stared at the cartoonish drawing on Aoi's left bicep.
That looks exactly like…
"Aoi-kun, don't freak out, okay?"
"Because," Arata pulled his jacket aside. "I drew that last night."
Aoi's eyes bulged when he saw the drawing on Arata's arm.
"But that..! You..? That means..?! Wait!" Aoi grabbed Arata's arm and rolled up his sleeve. Sure enough, he found familiar characters scrawled across the other's forearm. "Oh my god."
"I guess that makes me the lucky one." Arata's smile was subtle, but it was soft and gentle all the same. "I'm all yours, Aoi-kun."
Normally, in romantic comedies and dramas, soulmates were confirm their acceptance of one another with sappy lines such as "I'm glad it was you" and equally sappy gestures such as hand holding and hugging. But instead of a hug or a tearful "I'm happy" from Aoi, Arata received a slap to the face.
"Why did you draw that?!" Aoi wailed. "That wasn't how I wanted to find out who I'm matched to!"
"Hey, calm down! It's not that bad."
"You drew a p-p…! On your—my—arm!"
"At least it wasn't on my face?"
"B-but..!" Aoi flailed his arms, unable to find the proper words to convey his feelings.
"I'm sorry, Aoi-kun," Arata said. "I'll get rid of it soon. I just need to figure out how to remove permanent marker from skin—"
"It's in permanent marker?"
"Well, I was drunk and Pink-head thought it'd be hilarious so—" Arata was cut off by Aoi falling forward and burying his face in his chest. "Oh. Okay."
"You promise to try and get rid of it?"
Arata patted Aoi's back. "Of course."
"Can you…draw a puppy for me?"
Arata chuckled at the request. "Of course." He smiled down at the blonde. "I'm glad I was right."
Aoi lifted his head. "About what?"
Arata pinched Aoi's cheek. "My soulmate being cute and stuff."
Aoi's words died in his throat, causing him to emit a surprised squeak.
"So cute." Arata laughed. "But I'll take care of that problem on your arm. No worries."
"But hey," Arata began. "You know, since you're my soulmate and all, you're free to look at the real thing instead of that doodle anytime you want."
His cheek stung with pain from the slap, but seeing Aoi's blush made it all the more worthwhile.