The time left on his wrist read. Koh's stomach churned as he gazed down at his wrist and looked toward the boy that he had knocked into. It couldn't be. This had to be a joke. This had to be a sick joke.
The boy before him seemed to have a similar reaction, gazing down at his wrist in utter shock. However, an excited grin was rapidly forming on the younger's face before he looked up to meet Koh's eyes.
"You're my-," he paused and frowned as he examined Koh's worried features. His own small dropped. "You're disappointed?" The hurt in his eyes caused Koh's heart to twist in guilt at the pain that he had caused the young boy.
Yes. Young boy. Koh had met his soulmate in the market place. But this boy was young. Twelve at most. Somebody had to messing with Koh. It had to be a joke.
"How old are you?" Koh asked softly.
"Eleven..." replied the boy, kicking up dust from beneath his feet in an attempt to look away from Koh's ever-frowning expression. Koh winced at the reveal of his soulmate's age. His suspcions were very much confirmed.
"Towa?!" A tall, dark figure pushed his way through the busy crowd and towards the brunette. "So this is where you have been?" He demanded. "What gave you the idea that you could leave my side? I specifically asked you to keep beside me!"
"Bamba," the boy, now known as Towa sniffed as he pointed towards Koh, tears threatening to spill from his eyes. Koh felt an urge to stop his crying, he desperately wanted to. But as his soulmate leaned into 'Bamba's,' touch, he realized that he had no place.
"What?" Bamba frowned, turning towards Koh, his gaze hardening. "What did you do?"
Koh flinched as Bamba grabbed his wrist.
"Nothing!" Koh swore. "I didn't hurt him! I'd never hurt the kid,"
Bamba's eyes wandered down towards Koh's expose wrist where the tattooed time limit of 00:00 caught his attention. His eyes narrowed as he let go of Koh and turned towards the boy that stood behind him.
"Towa. Let me see your timer," Bamba ordered, pacing back over to the brunette.
Towa hesitated momentarily before lifting up his sleeve to let his brother examine his timer. A frown was plastered over the boy's expression.
"That's impossible," Bamba growled in frustration. "I checked your timer yesterday! You still had six years left, Towa. What did you do?!"
"Nothing!" Towa swore, his eyes wide. "M-my timer just started going down really really fast all of a sudden! W-When I looked back up, y-you were gone!" Bamba turned back towards Koh, his gaze still narrowed and cautious.
"And what about you?" He demanded. "Was your timer acting up?"
"Y-yeah. It was," Koh whispered, taking a step back from Bamba and Towa due to Bamba's intimidating gaze. Towa was still frowning, fighting back tears as it looked like his soulmate had rejected him.
"Bamba! You found him?" An familiar man with blue hair called out as he raced to Bamba and Towa's side. His expression was full of frantic worry. The man cautiously turned towards Koh, confusion washing over him.
"Uhh...who is this? He doesn't seem familiar," he asked, tipping his head to one side to further emphasise his confusion. After a moment, the man's eyes widened in recognition.
"Koh?!" He blurted out.
"You know him?" Bamba asked suspiciously, holding Towa to his side in an effort to protect the younger boy.
"We went to school together," Melt explained pleasantly with a nastolgic smile. "Listen. Whatever you think Koh has done, I can tell you with certainty that it was an accident. He never means to hurt anyone. Back in school, he was a complete clown,"
"He's Towa's Soulmate," Bamba muttered.
Koh felt tense as Melt turned to look at him. Melt was staring at him for a long moment, a thoughtful expression on his face.
"You saw his timer yesterday," Bamba continued. "Six years, it said,"
"I am sure that it was," Melt insisted. "My calculations are always correct,"
While the couple tried to decipher the meaning of Towa's timer suddenly reaching zero, Koh began to back away, feeling extremely awkward at the situation at hand. He just wanted to go back and find Master Red at this point.
He didn't make it very far from the conversation though, as a smaller hand than his caught onto him. It felt like a small spark travelled up his body causing him to shudder. So, this was what a soulmate's touch could do.
"Don't go," Towa pleaded.
Koh found himself unable to deny Towa his request. He nodded quietly and allowed Towa to lead him back towards Melt and Bamba. Bamba was watching them cautiously while Melt was mumbling calculations to himself to see where he had gone wrong.
"What now?" Koh sighed.
"Melt moved in with us when he and my big brother, Bamba found out they were soulmates!" Towa suggested. "Maybe Koh can move in too!"
"Absolutely not," Bamba snapped, causing Towa to flinch into Koh's side.
"I have to agree with Bamba," Melt agreed, folding his arms. "We can't just expect Koh to drop everything to come and live with you,"
Towa looked up to Koh with a hopeful gaze and Koh badly wanted to agree to be with the young brunette. However, he knew that Master Red was expecting him back soon. With a sigh, he shook his head.
"I'm sorry, Towa," he mumbled.
"B-but- you're my soulmate," Towa whispered, voice cracking wih emotion.
"I know," he assured, sinking down onto his knees so he could keep eye contact with Towa. "I know. But I can barely look after myself. And you, you belong with your brother until you grow older,"
"Y-You're not going to leave me though?" Towa hiccupped. Koh sighed, shaking his head, willing himself to tell the young boy the truth.
"I have to go now," he muttered. "I need to get home to Master Red and pay my rent otherwise I'll lose my room,"
"But you can just stay with us!" Towa insisted, grabbing Koh's hand. "Y-you don't need to go!" The desperation in Towa's voice just caused the guilt to grow within Koh.
"You just don't like me!" Towa deduced, the very notion causing tears to streak down his face.
"No!" Koh promised. "I like you, I like you a lot. Just, I need to sort myself out first. I don't want to let anyone down, especially you. I just need to sort myself out first,"
"M-Maybe, we can meet tomorrow," Melt suggested. "And discuss this properly? What do you say Bamba?" Bamba was quiet for a moment, thinking this offer over.
"He can come over to our house," Melt went on. "Tomorrow at 12:00 when Towa has finished his chores. Will you come, Koh?" Koh hesitated, turning to Towa, who was gazing at him hopefully through teary eyes.
"Alright," Koh agreed. "Give me the address and I'll be there tomorrow," he promised. Once Melt had written out their address and given it to him, Koh rose to his feet and turned to begin his walk him. Once again, Towa caught his hand.
"You promise?" Towa begged.
Koh watched Towa for a moment before leaning down and ruffling his hair.