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Himari’s soulmate sure was good at hiding their feelings. 

 

Or, at least, they tried to be good at it. 

 

Of course, it was hard to hide it entirely from someone you were linked to, but Himari was sure this person was rather convincing in an outward way. 

 

Whoever they were, they made a habit of bottling all their feelings up. They managed to keep those feelings from her as well. Himari would feel a flash of something for a moment before it was squashed and hidden away. She’d only been able to properly identify a few of those emotions before they were taken from her, and those were only the strongest when she was younger. 

 

Himari hadn’t ever really felt like it would be appropriate to ask her friends about what this might mean for her and her soulmate. It wasn’t really her place to go around telling other people about her soulmate’s problems, she figured. 

 

Of course, she would listen when her friends talked to her about their soulmates, but she never really offered much information of her own. Not that she had much of it anyway. The most she could tell was that her soulmate was either very neutral or very repressed; it was hard to say. 

 

Tsugumi’s soulmate was apparently very shy and got easily flustered. At least, those were the main emotions Tsugumi reported on; alongside much confusion and feeling dazed. They seemed clumsy and frantic, but Tsugumi reassured the group that her soulmate seemed warm and genuine from what she could feel through the link they shared. 

 

Ran’s soulmate was difficult to hear about, since Ran was so closed off with her own feelings as it were. However, when Afterglow heard anything, it appeared that Ran’s destined came off similar to Tsugumi’s own. But there was also a glittering sense of excitement when Ran talked about it; whoever her soulmate was had unbridled hope and courage that sometimes threatened to overflow with joy. Whenever they weren’t crying, that was. 

 

Tomoe’s soulmate was easily enamored. Himari’s best friend would be constantly annoyed with how smug and overconfident her soulmate was. However, there was that bit of sincerity that leaked through, that reminded Tomoe that her soulmate was kind and scared sometimes, putting them in a bit more of an endearing light. 

 

And… Moca’s soulmate… well, Moca was an interesting individual, anyway. Like Himari, she didn’t really talk much about her destined. It was hard to get anything out of her about it. 

 

Himari would offer what she could - “Oh, they’re feeling relaxed!” “Hmm… I guess they usually feel kind of joking? Maybe?” “They’re super in control of their emotions! Won’t let me feel a bit of them!” - but Moca wouldn’t say much of anything. She would just give them a vague, uncertain look before changing subjects. 

 

Himari thought this was pretty concerning, really. 

 

Usually they couldn’t pay Moca to shut up . But when it came to their soulmates, Moca was a locked and bolted vault. And darn it, Himari really wanted the key. Keeping secrets from her was only inviting trouble, after all. She was too curious for her own good, sometimes. 

 

“Hey Moca, what about you?” she’d tried, one day. 

 

“Oh, Hii-chan wants to know all about her adorable Moca-chan’s love life, now does she?” would be the type of teasing Himari could expect in return. And then Moca would change the subject and joke with her about one thing or another, making sure they wouldn’t talk about soul links anymore. 

 

Maybe Moca’s soulmate wasn’t a good person? That was super worrying! Maybe her soulmate was too expressive? Too little, like Himari’s own? Maybe… 

 

Himari blinked frustration away, considering that maybe Moca didn’t have a soulmate. 

 

It was rare - exceedingly so - but it wasn’t impossible. It happened, unfortunately. Thus, it was a possibility. It wasn’t entirely probable, but definitely not unheard of. 

 

She wanted to ask, so badly. God, did she want to ask! But she also wanted to respect her friend. Himari figured Moca would search them out when she was ready to talk about it. Or, maybe it would just be Ran. But at least Moca would be opening up to someone .

 

Himari never really expected for her to be the one Moca opened up to first. 

 

But there she was, sat across from her in Himari’s room, quietly munching on a rice cracker while her host fussed about, making sure everything was as it should be. 

 

“So, Moca, what can good old Himari do for ya today?” she joked around, trying to lighten the weirdly oppressive mood. 

 

“You have problems with your soulmate, don’t you?” Moca wasn’t pulling any punches, apparently. “You never talk about them.”

 

“Ah…” So that’s where this is going. “Well, sure. They don’t really feel much. I mean, wait. That’s not super true. They feel stuff, but I don’t really feel much of what they feel. It’s almost like they turn the link off sometimes, which is… I don’t know what to think about that, really,” she confessed. 

 

Moca sucked in a sharp breath and nodded. 

 

“Is… yours the same way?” Himari dared to ask. 

 

“No,” came Moca’s immediate answer. “They’re not. They feel so many things so strongly all the time, I wish they would just stop sometimes.”

 

“O-oh?” she glanced over, nervous, as she poured them some juice. “Do they seem like-”

 

“They seem like a mess.” Moca blinked, wearily. “Like, they don’t seem depressed or angry or like a bad person or anything like that. They just… they’re a lot sometimes and I don’t think they realize it. They feel way too personally and get attached to things too quickly.”

 

Himari simply sat there, letting Moca get this all off her chest for possibly the first time ever since they’d met. 

 

“They get giddy at the drop of a hat. They cry when things don’t go their way. They put too much effort into things only to be disappointed when their hard work goes unnoticed or unappreciated.”

 

“Sounds… complicated, since you’re not really like that,” Himari offered. 

 

Moca looked at her, her expression somewhat cryptic. “No, I’m not.”

 

“Do you have any idea of who they might be?” she asked.

 

“Well… even if I did, I’d be kind of… nervous to figure out their reaction to me. I doubt I’m what they want.” She ignored Himari’s offended gasp. “They… feel confused, I think. It makes me scared of them. It’s a self-hating kind of confusion. I don’t entirely know what causes it, but it’s too familiar for me to ignore it.”

 

“Familiar…? So you’ve felt that?”

 

“I haven’t, not really. But…” Moca hesitated. 

 

“But what?”

 

“But you have.”

 

Himari’s breath caught in her throat. “M-me?”

 

“Yeah. You… Himari, you think you like boys.”

 

The breath that got stuck threatened to choke her. “I… you… what? What are you talking about, Moca?”

 

Moca huffed, seemingly irritated with her. Himari felt another flash of irritation inside of her that swiftly got ripped away from her, too, as Moca tapped against the table. 

 

“You go on and on and on about liking boys. But then you fawn over people like Tomoe and Kaoru-senpai. That’s not... You’re not-”

 

“Moca!” Himari snapped. “What does my orientation have to do with your soulmate, anyway?” 

 

Moca leaned back a bit, taking a steadying breath. “Yeah. That. I think they’re feeling something along those lines there. So, I figured you were the person to talk to.”

 

Himari captured her bottom lip between her teeth, distraught. She didn’t need an existential crisis on top of her friend’s crisis right at the moment. 

 

“Look, Moca, even if I did like girls-” 

 

She felt a surge of annoyance from her link, and she nearly doubled over from how strong it was. And this wasn’t going away. She gagged. 

 

“Himari?” 

 

She barely registered Moca’s worried voice calling her by her full name as a wave of nausea hit her along with the distress that wasn’t quite hers. 

 

“It’s-”

 

“Your link?”

 

“Mmhmm…” she managed. “I’ve… holy shit, it’s never been like this before.”

 

“Here, breathe with me,” Moca commanded, grabbing her hands. “In for four seconds, and hold it before releasing.”

 

Himari breathed with her, and she felt her own panic - as well as her soulmate’s - begin to dissipate. 

 

“Thank you, Moca,” Himari looked up at her friend.

 

Moca was leaning back into a more casual position, though she was closer. “Yeah, no problemo.”

 

“Anyway, what were we talking about? Oh, right, even if-”

 

“It’s fine,” Moca cut her off. “If it’s gonna cause you to react like that -”

 

“Moca, stop,” Himari pleaded. “I want to know what’s wrong. You never tell any of us when something is happening or if you’re struggling and I really want to be there for you right now. So if you would just stop changing the subject for two seconds so I can be a good friend and listen to you, that would be great.”

 

Moca swallowed, her eyes darting away from Himari’s. 

 

“Yeah…” She took a shaky breath. “Yeah, alright.”

 

They sat there in silence for a bit while Moca collected her thoughts or whatever was going on in her usually floaty little head. 

 

“Hii-chan… you’re,” Moca licked her lips nervously, “you’re really important to me, okay?”

 

Himari’s heart swelled and she blinked back tears. “Y-yeah, Moca. You’re very important to me too.”

 

“Yeah… I don’t want things to be weird, between us.”

 

“Never!” Himari swore. “Best buds forever.”

 

Himari noticed the brief flash of pain in those blue gray eyes and couldn’t really ignore that same flash of pain she felt within herself. Whether it came from her own heart or an outside source, she couldn’t entirely tell. 

 

“Hii-chan, you’re my soulmate.”

 

“W-what?”

 

Himari felt like the rug was pulled out from underneath her. What the hell was Moca talking about? Them being soulmates? How in the world had she come to that crazy conclusion?

 

“You’re my soulmate. I wasn’t super sure about it when I first walked in, but…”

 

“What… why are you?” Himari’s head was spinning, making it nigh impossible to formulate words that made sense. “You’re… no… but wait-”

 

“I know it doesn’t sound like it makes a whole lot of sense, but I promise it actually does.”

 

“Moca, wait-”

 

It was too late. The floodgates were wide open. 

 

“You’re always saying how your soulmate keeps in total control of your bond, only slipping up sometimes. They don’t have large fluctuations in emotions. You’re worried about your sexuality and so is my soulmate. My soulmate feels so strongly, and so do you. You’re happy whenever ‘they’re’ happy. Disappointed and vulnerable whenever ‘they’ are. I’ve felt it for a little bit, now, and I had a hunch, but-”

 

“Moca!” Himari slammed her hands down on the table, silencing her friend. “I don’t get it! You don’t tell us about your soulmate for the literal years we’ve all known you, and then you come in here telling me that I’m… them?”

 

“I know,” Moca groaned. “I know, I get it. I’m sure you’re not interested, but-”

 

“It’s not a matter if I’m not interested, it’s a matter of you never fricking told me, doofus!”

 

And then Moca dared to get that teasing, sly, smug ass smirk on her face in that exact moment. “So… you’re saying you’re interested?”

 

But Himari felt it. The immense doubt. The dread. The playing it off as a joke so “Hii-chan won’t get mad at me” kind of feeling. 

 

Himari wilted a bit. “Oh, Moca…”

 

“Wh-what?” Moca laughed, though that shield was cracked and rusty and the two of them both knew it. “No need to pity me or anything, I get it-”

 

“You literally don’t, so shut up and listen to me.”

 

Moca’s mouth shut quicker than Himari had ever seen before. 

 

“You’ve got no right going around telling me how I’m feeling… hiding your emotions from me our whole lives. I don’t even know why you bottle away your emotions like that. You don’t share them with anyone, not even yourself… Not even me.” Himari sucked in another breath. “But I don’t want you to be alone anymore, okay? We’ll figure this out.”

 

“Hii-chan…” Moca’s lip quivered and Himari dove in, wrapping her arms around her, before she could see any tears. For her sake and Moca’s. “Thank you…”

 

“I’m still mad at you.”

 

She heard a watered down chuckle - felt it against her chest - as Moca gripped her tighter. “I’m sure… you always are.”

 

“You know that’s not true.”

 

“I know…”

 

“Im usually never mad at you…”

 

“I know.”

 

Himari smiled. “I can’t say ‘I love you’ yet,” she winced a bit at Moca’s soft gasp, “but I’m glad you told me. Maybe I’ll be able to say it, romantically, some day. I… I need time.”

 

“I know…”

 

She offered Moca a wet smile. Moca looked no better herself. 

 

“It’ll get better.”

 

“Mmhmm…” Ah, it seemed like all those strong emotions tuckered Moca right out. She leaned more and more of her weight into Himari, who didn’t really seem to mind much. They simply rested there for some time, before Himari shifted to look at an already sleeping moca. The face of the one she was supposed to be destined for. 

 

She looked at Moca’s wispy, cloud-colored hair. Her round cheeks and her unforgivably long eyelashes. The slightest of bags under her eyes and the teeniest dusting of freckles on her nose. Moca’s breathing was soft and light, steady in it’s rhythmic pace. Himari took in the sight of a playful devil in the disguise of a soft looking angel. 

 

“Some day…” Himari murmured to her. “Maybe I can tell you it, some day.”