Slaine glances at the wrist of his roommate for the third time that night, in which the action earns him a little laugh.
“You think too much about it, Slaine-sama.”
“You.. you don’t believe in it?” Slaine asks, meeting his roommate’s eyes after tearing his eyes from the thick bold fonts on his wrist. His roommate doesn’t answer and merely traces the words on his wrist. “Happy birthday, Slaine-sama,” Harklight says softly, giving him a small box wrapped in an aquamarine colour that’s too bright for Slaine’s eyes, but he’s thankful for it anyway. It’s 30 minutes to midnight, but Slaine understands Harklight wants to give him some privacy when midnight strikes.
They turn off the lights and retire to their respective beds.
And it comes. When the clock strikes twelve, Slaine turns twenty and the excruciating pain comes. The marks start to appear on his wrist. It starts out as unreadable lines filling in on his pale skin and he feels the terror creeping in. He sees red, blue, white and then orange. His head starts to ring in a frequency so high; he swears he could feel the blood rush up to his head. It takes almost everything to not scream out in pain and wake Harklight. It hurts, it burns. Slaine looks down at his wrist while trembling in pain, cold sweat trickling down his forehead as he watches the dark lines filling in the last alphabet.
And it’s done.
The pain stops and the feeling of happiness floods in.
He looks at his wrist and smiles at the joy that there is someone out there destined for someone like him. He isn’t fated to be alone, something that Slaine has nightmares about since he found out about the Soulmate marks that appear at the age of twenty. Slaine has never been a romantic. He’s seen married couples walking down the streets with names on their wrists that obviously aren’t their spouses. He’s seen teenage couples so in love even though the names on their wrists aren’t each other’s; but he’s seen it. He’s seen the way soulmates find one another; see the way their eyes sparkle and their smiles widen. He’s seen the way they love each other so hard that he knows it’s something he will never find.
Slaine really wishes he could find someone like that.
But time is a ticking bomb. He touches the last alphabet of the name on his wrist. Having a name is one thing, but having to find them is an entirely different issue. He kisses wrist softly because just having the name there is a comfort to Slaine. He didn’t need to find him, because the very fact that Slaine himself has a soulmate is salvation.
He takes out the wristband from the wrapped gift box and slips it on.
Kaizuka Inaho, he whispers before drifting off to a dream filled with blue skies and starry nights.
Harklight doesn't ask about it the next morning, doesn’t pry about the name and Slaine’s happy about that.
He’d like his soulmate to be a secret, something just for him to know and something just for him to find salvation in.
It is two nights later when Slaine looks at his wrist in horror.
The dark, black marks that spelled Kaizuka Inaho so dearly has started to fade to a lighter shade of grey. He starts to cry when he sees the ‘o’ in Inaho start to fade and it is the first time Slaine has truly tasted fear. Slaine may have gone through different types of bullying and hardships but Slaine has never felt fear for being alone for eternity. He holds his wrist and a sharp pain comes into his head. It’s so painful, so very painful that Slaine forgets about trying to keep quiet and he lets out a yelp while gripping his head.
It hurts, it burns and all he sees his red.
He doesn’t feel it when Harklight shakes him. He doesn’t see anything but the faded ‘o’ in his wrist.
Please, please be safe.
He wakes up the next morning, eyes swollen from crying and head throbbing from the pain. He looks at his wrist, the faded ‘o’ back in its glory and bold fonts back on his wrist. “He’s safe,” Slaine whispers in tears, “He’s safe.”
He watches Harklight fall in love.
He watches Harklight drop his books in the middle of the road and then it happens. His eyes sparkle and his world just freezes. Slaine watches Harklight’s line of sight and he comes to see a slightly older man, dressed in a trench coat and briefcase in one hand. His outfit screams ‘professor’ but Harklight stays completely still and then he watches the other man walk towards Harklight slowly, eyes never leaving him and he asks.
Harklight envelops him in a tight hug and Slaine decides it’s time to leave them alone as he hears Harklight whisper “Barouhcruz.”
He watches Harklight fall in love in a split second, watches him smile and watches him sparkle.
Slaine wonders if he’ll ever meet Kaizuka Inaho.
He whispers words of love to his wrist that night, hoping that at least his feelings will reach Kaizuka Inaho even if they never meet in this lifetime. Harklight rarely comes back into the room ever since Barouhcruz, but Slaine’s okay with that. He’s not lonely.
Slaine gets used to the lonely dorm room but Harklight can tell he’s lonely. He shoves a ticket into Slaine’s hands and doesn’t let him refuse because ‘you’re a design student and you shouldn’t miss this chance.’ Harklight goes with Slaine, and to his surprise, without Barouhcruz. He listens Harklight talk about Barouhcruz (what kind of a name is Barouhcruz anyway, he throws his hands up in exasperation). He laughs along because he’s happy for Harklight and also slightly envious because he wants to feel that love and he wants to know that there will be someone there for him forever.
The designer show turns out to be amazing.
Slaine is so awed by the kind of fabrics and designs to the point he forgets about Kaizuka Inaho for a minute.
He goes home, feeling inspired and pours his soul for his graduation project.
He uses orange and red fabric because he sees it in dreams and hears it in whispers. He adds in a touch of blue because he dreams of the skies every now and then. He sits on his stool, thinks and sews as he whispers Kaizuka Inaho, Kaizuka Inaho, Kaizuka Inaho. He thinks the design turns out to be ridiculous but it’s fine, because it’s done with all his heart and Slaine thinks that it’s enough.
Graduation exhibition comes fast enough, Slaine feels a bit embarrassed to display his odd combination of fabrics out for the public to see. He starts to get busy, so busy that he doesn’t have the time to think about Kaizuka Inaho. He works day and night, runs back and forth from university to printing shops. Rinse and repeat. He gets so tired to the point he stops dreaming about orange colours and blue skies for a while.
But it’s the day before graduation exhibition and Slaine dreams of something different for the first time.
He dreams of a pair of eyes, they’re red and hot. And Slaine feels beautiful being watched by them.
It happens when Slaine least expects it. He sits in his chair, milk coffee in his hands and he sees him. He sees a boy looking at his graduation project with arms folded across his chest. He’s wearing a dark blue blazer; an eye patch but Slaine can’t see the colours of his eyes. He stands up, almost ready to call out but the boy unfolds his arms and walks away.
Slaine doesn’t move, he doesn’t know what to do and sinks back into his seat. Shoulder slumped and disappointment flooding in.
Maybe it isn’t Kaizuka Inaho, after all.
Slaine looks up from his coffee, and he looks into a pair of familiar eyes. He looks at the eye patch, but he knows. He’s seen the familiar shade of red before and he trembles. He puts the coffee down on the table, not wanting to spill it on any of the graduation works. He meets the eyes of the boys again, he knows. He can tell. He can feel it and he can feel the words on his wrist hot and pulling.
Inaho blinks, and then he smiles.
He’s really here.
He runs into Inaho’s arms, he smells the wonderful scent of oranges and feels the warm hand caressing his head. He cries into Inaho’s blazer, tears forming a darker shade of blue on his shoulders and all he does is whisper Inaho’s name. Over and over, engraving the name onto his tongue. Suddenly the world seems so much brighter, so much more vibrant. Slaine looks at Inaho, traces the outlines of his face, nose and mouth and tells himself. He’s here, Inaho is here.
The rest of the world doesn’t matter anymore when Inaho brushes Slaine’s fringe out of the way and leans in for a kiss. It’s warm, it tastes like a mixture of coffee and fruit juices but it’s sweet and it’s everything Slaine asks for. He feels the heat on his wrist and watches Inaho hold his wrist up. There it is, in a beautiful cursive font. There is the name Slaine Troyard. Inaho pulls in him for another embrace, so tight that Slaine almost chokes but that’s alright.
“I’m sorry for being late.”
Slaine experiences the bond of soulmates, experiences the sparkles in his eyes and experiences the love that he’s been waiting for. It’s something he finds and will never let go of.