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It Had To Be You

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According to what you're told growing up, everyone had a soulmate. 

It had been documented throughout history, as far back as you could go. No one was entirely sure how soulmates and soulmarks worked, or when they became part of us, but it was now a constant and normal part of life.

It meant that there was some random stranger, out there in the universe, who was a perfect fit for you.

A reflection of your own soul.

Whether or not you met that person was a different story.

Emmet found the sentiment rather romantic when he was young. His parents were lucky enough to be soulmates, and to have found each other rather early in their life. It was something he’d always hoped to have for himself as well, one day.

Each morning when he looked at his mark in the mirror, it gave him hope that today might be that day for him. The day he met his soulmate.

He believed that for twenty seven years, and found himself beginning to lose hope with each passing day.

Unbeknownst to him, he would find his soulmate in the most unlikely of places.

And sooner than he thought.

 

~o~o~o~o~o~

 

“Emmet?”

Rex stared at the man in front of him, standing at the doorway to their shared apartment. He was distressed, in a way Rex had never seen him before, in their years of knowing one another.

Something was seriously wrong for him to be in such a state.

Emmet tilted his head, meeting his gaze. He appeared distant, eyes red from crying, cheeks stained with tears. Rex had to fight every urge to pull him into a spine-crushing hug, to tell him it was all going to be okay-- but at this point, he wasn’t even sure what was wrong.

Instead, he placed a reassuring hand on the other’s shoulder. 

“You... okay?”

Rex wasn’t exactly asking for an answer, but he wasn’t sure what else to say.

The younger man took a single step towards him and buried his head in Rex’s chest, gripping at the sides of his vest.

He could feel his heart skip a beat in that instant, looking down at the other with an expression of disbelief. He suddenly felt frozen on the spot.

Okay, play it cool, man. Don’t freak out. He’s upset. Don’t make this about you. He needs you.

Both of his arms were awkwardly hanging by his sides, his mind still trying to catch up to the present. He did his best to return the gesture, pulling his friend into a comforting embrace.

The two of them remained there for what felt like an eternity to Rex. Yet he didn’t want it to end. He felt an internal battle of emotions in his mind. He tried his best not to get angry, to not wish pain against whoever it was that put Emmet in such a state.

“Hey-- it’s okay, kiddo,” Rex mumbled softly, rubbing a hand up and down his back in an attempt to make him feel better. He pulled back from the other, staring at Emmet with a sad smile. “Let’s get you inside.”

He guided Emmet to the couch, placing him there gently as he moved to the kitchen. He needed to do something for him, something that might help. Right now. Anything .

Shit, what should he do?

He knew there was something that Emmet loved, and would never say no to. Perhaps he could use that to cheer him up a bit.

A nice hot brew of coffee.

Maybe then, once he’d calmed down a little, he’d be able to figure out what the hell was happening.

 

~o~o~o~o~o~

 

The two of them had met in college. 

They’d been studying completely different courses at the time, but somehow managed to attend the same social events, hang out spots, and generally running into each other wherever they went.

As it turned out, they got along with each other really well, and had more in common than would be expected at face value.

Naturally, once they’d graduated, the two of them decided to rent an apartment together. Not only would it help them financially, but they’d be able to hang out with each other more often.

Which, for Rex, ended up being a problem that he hadn’t anticipated. 

Not because he didn’t like Emmet, but because he liked him too much .

Rex wasn’t entirely sure when it happened. He just realised it, one day, when the two of them were out together. Emmet had turned to look at him, and smiled. A brief, genuine smile. 

Somehow, from that moment, Rex knew he was in too deep-- that the feeling of friendship was something more-- as his heart skipped a beat.

By then they’d already been living together, so it wasn’t like he could distance himself. They were stuck together, seeing each other practically every day, causing a constant battle for Rex to stay sane and not destroy their friendship with his most-assuredly single-sided feelings for the other.

But that wasn’t the worst of it. 

Shortly after they’d first met, before Rex had had this particular appifanny , Emmet had met someone else.

Lucy.

The two of them had been dating since then, which would probably put it at about… five or so years that they’d been together by now. 

Seeing the two of them together, what they shared-- Rex knew he had no chance. 

But that brought him back to the situation at hand. 

He still couldn’t quite wrap his head around how upset Emmet was. He’d never seen him like this. In fact, Rex was sure that the only thing that would make him this upset, would be if--

He paused, thoughts screeching to a halt.

Oh, shit.

There were two possibilities. 

Regardless of which it was, he knew they both ended with Emmet breaking up with his partner. Considering the severity of the state he was in, it could only mean one thing.

Lucy must have found her soulmate.

Poor kid.

This was… going to be difficult.

Rex gripped the countertop in front of him, watching the coffee swirl in the mugs before him. He took a deep breath, preparing himself for the night ahead, and heading back over to his roommate, making sure not to forget to add all the sugar and cream that he knew he enjoyed.

Just the way Emmet liked it.

“You... don’t need to say anything if you don’t want to,” Rex told him, handing him the mug of coffee. “But this might help.”

Emmet gave him a small, sad, but appreciative smile, as he accepted the gesture.

It just about broke Rex’s heart, seeing him like that.

He took a seat next to the younger man, making sure to be close, but not too close. There if he needed a shoulder to lean on. A friend to talk to. That’s what he needed to be right now.

Without another word, he turned on the television in front of them, flicking the channel over to whatever movie he could find. Thankfully, it was an action flick. A nice, mindless time-waster. 

Something to break the silence in the air. Get their mind off things. Let the tension settle down for a bit.

Then, out of nowhere-- Rex had an idea.

“How about this--” the older man started, placing his empty mug on the coffee table. “Tomorrow, we’ll head down the coast for the day. Or the weekend. Grab some beer, sit by the ocean, maybe go for a swim, and just… chill.”

Emmet sniffled, managing to get out a smile. 

“That sounds nice.”

 

~o~o~o~o~o~

 

Emmet was so glad that he had someone like Rex in his life. He felt positively spoiled right now.

He could tell Rex was trying his best to cheer him up, after he just wandered home, throwing his emotionally unstable self on his friend.

Regardless of what happened today, between him and Lucy… he still loved her. He always would, in one way or another.

Both of them knew from the beginning of their relationships that they might meet their respective soulmate one day. They’d agreed that they’d remain friends, if possible, if such a situation presented itself.

Emmet thought he was ready. But it all happened so quickly. Imagining the situation turned out to be completely different to the reality of it actually occurring.

The two of them had been at a music concert. It was one of Lucy’s favourite bands. She was especially fond of the lead singer-- he couldn’t quite remember her name, but she was tall, with colourful hair-- and was absolutely gorgeous .

Which made him even more surprised when she turned out to be a death-metal singer, considering her appearance. 

Regardless, but the two of them still enjoyed their time at the concert.

That was, until the encore. 

The singer had removed her leather jacket, and in the process-- whether it was intentional or not-- displayed her soulmark for the entire crowd to see.

Emmet recognised it immediately-- sitting upon her bicep, and intricate pattern of intersecting flowers, a mix of blue and pink.

His heart sank.

As soon as she locked eyes with Lucy, he knew what was to come. He didn’t want to get in their way.

He needed to leave. He needed fresh air.

Lucy tried to stop him from going, but he needed to be alone. He was sure she and her soulmate had much to discuss.

The two of them could deal with their relationship-- or lack thereof-- later.

And now, sitting back in his apartment, he wondered… Would he be lucky enough to find his soulmate soon as well? Or would he be destined to be alone, or hopping from one relationship to another, only to have his heart broken again and again?

No. He was sure they were out there, somewhere. He couldn’t give up hope yet. There was someone with his same, exact, mark-- a rather cute mark at that, if he’d say so himself-- out there, waiting for him.

Most soul marks took the shape of intricate patterns or shapes, sometimes intertwining to create brilliant imagery. But for Emmet, he had a complete, realistic picture-- a small, orange, monarch butterfly.

It was, well-- it certainly wasn’t the most masculine design for a soul mark. But he’d say it suited him. It would definitely look cute on a girl, which is why he’d always assumed that his soulmate would be someone of that gender.

Not that gender was a particular deal-breaker to him. He had always been optimistic and open-minded, and sure that he’d accept his soulmate for exactly the person they were, regardless of looks, age, or any other defining trait. 

Emmet looked down at the mug between his hands, the smell and warmth of the coffee becoming a lovely distraction. It was one of his favourite things, and could cheer him up even in a time like this.

It would still take time, though, for his heart to heal.

Plus, the holiday Rex pitched to him sounded like a great idea. Exactly the kind of diversion he needed.

 

~o~o~o~o~o~

 

Emmet couldn’t quite remember when he’d fallen asleep, or when he’d gotten himself to bed, but he was sure he already knew the answer. It wouldn’t be the first time that he’d fallen asleep while they were watching movies together, only for Rex carry him to his bed. He had a bad habit of being a heavy sleeper.

The two of them had packed their bags and headed off rather early the next morning. Road trips were always great with Rex-- mostly because he would insist on doing all the driving, as well as being great company.

The closest beach was a few hours away, giving Emmet plenty of time to think about what had transpired the previous day. Too much time. To be honest, he was rather sick of thinking about it now. In fact, this short trip with Rex was exactly what he needed to relax and stop thinking about his past. He had so many options for his future now. So many options that he could barely get his thoughts in a straight line. 

Emmet turned his gaze away from the lovely view out the window, seeing Rex staring intently at the road ahead. They’d been enjoying the silence of the road and the beautiful landscapes around them. It was rather calming.

The one aspect of Rex that he couldn’t understand was how long he’d been single. In fact, in the five or so years that they’d known one another, he’d never seen him with someone. In either a serious or casual way. Not even once.

He didn’t seem to be interested in anyone.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. He could just not be interested in relationships or romance altogether. 

But anyone could look at Rex and agree that he was ridiculously attractive. 

Even Emmet could admit that he’d always had a just a bit of a crush on his friend.

“How are you still single?”

The words tumbled out of his mouth without him thinking. He couldn’t quite believe himself, stunned by his own words. That really wasn’t the best way he could have phrased that.

“I--I mean--”

The older man waved a dismissive hand. “No, it’s okay,” he replied, glancing at Emmet for a moment. “I just… haven’t found the right person yet.”

Emmet was amazed at how he could possibly be that patient. It sounded so… lonely. 

His reply could mean a multitude of things, but Emmet didn’t want to pry any further. There was always the possibility that he was waiting for his soulmate. But even he knew that’s a one in a million chance. 

Emmet couldn’t help but feel there was more to Rex, under the surface. There was a kind of… sadness, to the way he spoke when he gave his reply.

It was probably nothing...

He just wanted Rex to be happy.

 

~o~o~o~o~o~

 

Emmet had never been a big fan of the beach. 

In pictures, and from a distance, it was beautiful-- but up close, he’ll admit that it scared him. Just a little. The ocean was such a wide, deep expanse-- it was easy to find it intimidating.

The sun had never been a friend of his either. He’d always burn within minutes of going outside, which is why he’d always opted to wearing long-sleeve shirts every time he visited. 

That, and so people didn’t see his soulmark. 

It just seemed weird to him-- other people, seeing his mark, that weren’t his soulmate. He was just thankful that it was easy enough to hide under a shirt.

The ocean was the other factor-- a huge, vast body of water, with who knows what inside of it, ready to engulf him. He’d never been a strong swimmer, which didn’t help his confidence in going near it.

The way he looked at it, it was always safer to stay back and watch from a distance.

Even though it was the perfect weather for swimming and surfing, he still enjoyed relaxing and watching other people in the water-- especially Rex, who was a much better surfer than he had been led to believe. It was exhilarating, in a way, watching him catch the waves. Like an art form.

He nearly panicked, at one point, as he watched his roommate fall off his board and disappear into the water. But just as fast as it happened, he was on his board again, giving him a thumbs-up from a distance.

“Hey.” 

Emmet startled, turning his head towards the sudden voice. There was someone standing next to him. 

He held his hand in front of him, blocking out the sun to try to improve his vision. Definitely not someone he recognised.

“You here by yourself?” The stranger asked, in a manner that made him instantly uncomfortable. He wasn’t sure why, it just made the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end.

He wasn’t sure how to respond.

The man in front of him gestured towards a large group of people, similar in age to him. “C’mon, you should come along and--”

A sudden shadow loomed over them both, cutting the conversation short.

“There a problem here?” 

Rex was gritting his teeth, looking positively pissed. If he was attempting to act friendly, he was failing miserably.

“N-no, not at all,” they responded quickly, before clambering to their feet and retreating into the distance.

Emmet watched, concerned, as he stared up at Rex. He’d never seen him look so angry before. Had he… done something wrong ?

His expression changed completely when he turned to Emmet, acting cheery as ever.

“Are you alright? Looked like he was bothering you.”

“Yeah, thanks,” Emmet replied nervously. “I wasn’t sure what to say.”

Rex turned, staring back out to the deep blue sea behind them. 

“Come on, let’s go for a swim,” The older man offered a hand, and pulled him up with ease.

Emmet was taken aback by the sudden suggestion. 

Rex’s confidence was something he had always been jealous of. That, and the fact that he looked damn good in a wetsuit, if he could say so himself. On the other hand, he was still rather… chubby, and not build for beach activities. He was sure he wouldn’t even float in water if he tried.

“I’m really not that strong of a swimmer,” Emmet protested weakly. 

It was true, and the thought of going in there was scary to him. Last thing he wanted was to get hurt or make an idiot of himself splashing about like a child. At least he wasn’t going to be alone.

“Don’t worry about it,” Rex was still holding onto his hand, and had remained like that even though Emmet was now on his feet. “I’ve got you.”

He was pulled along as they headed to the water. He looked down at their joined hands, and couldn’t help but blush. Did Rex realise what he was doing? Isn’t it… weird ?

He shivered as they entered the shallow water. It was much colder than he had anticipated, with the weather being as warm as it was. Hopefully he'd be able to adjust to it soon.

Emmet hesitated the further they went, feeling the water creep higher and higher. Thankfully, Rex finally seemed to notice his condition.

“Here-- hold onto this,” He moved the board between them, using it as a make-shift raft of sorts. “It’ll help you balance. We won’t go far.”

“T-thanks,” he stuttered, mostly from the cold, and not because of how nervous he was. At least that’s what he’d keep telling himself.

Sure, water, and the ocean in general, made him anxious. But this-- here, alone with Rex, his best friend-- who was smiling at him, with his wet hair and dashing good looks-- was causing his heart to flutter in the most unfamiliar kind of way.

It’s just a simple crush, nothing more. Snap out of it.

But they were having fun. He was having fun, and he felt his broken heart beginning to mend. Just a little, but he could feel it there-- a small piece of warmth in his chest.

They ended up hanging on to either end of Rex’s surfboard, staring at some of the other surfers and swimmers, and cracking jokes. He’d always been good at making Emmet laugh-- he just had that type of humour that worked for him.

Time always managed to get away from him when they would hang out like this.

Unfortunately, for both of them, they were too caught up in each other’s company that they didn’t notice the rather large wave sneaking up behind them, seemingly appearing out of nowhere.

Emmet’s eyes went wide, but his reflexes were as poor as ever.

Rex --!”

The words barely left his lips before the strong current pulled him under.