“Come on, Bas!” Hunter needles, smirking as Sebastian hurries away, following behind with Jeff, Nick, David, and Trent on his heels. “Show us the tattoo.”
“No,” Sebastian grumbles, lifting his gear bag strap higher onto his shoulder and making a beeline for the bathroom.
“Why not?” Trent asks, running to keep up with the group.
“First of all, I don’t have to,” Sebastian says. “Second of all, it’s rude of you assholes to ask. Third of all, just no.”
“But you’re the only one who’s never shown theirs,” Jeff points out.
“Yeah, and it’s going to stay that way.” Sebastian storms into the bathroom and immediately locks the door behind him.
“Dude!” David yells, slamming on the door. “It’s a public bathroom.”
“Yeah,” Nick calls through the crack in the door jamb. “We have to use the toilet, too!”
“Too bad,” Sebastian says, kicking the door hard. “Go find another one.”
“Fuck, man,” he hears Jeff say as the boys abandon the bathroom door and head for another bathroom somewhere on campus, “I really have to take a wazz.”
“You really have to jack-off, you mean,” David teases. Sebastian hears a slap and David yell, “Ow!” but David laughs, and the other boys laugh with him.
Sebastian throws down his gear bag and groans.
Fucking soulmate tattoo.
That’s what this is about. That’s what it’s always about. Now his friends are going to a different bathroom to change into their lacrosse gear and joke around and shoot the shit, and Sebastian, as always, gets left alone.
Sebastian hates his soulmate tattoo. Most people develop a small tattoo-like mark on their wrist or their hip, something that indicates their soulmate’s passions or pursuits in life, usually in a spot that’s easy to conceal. Jeff’s soulmate tattoo is a pair of jazz dance shoes on the inner bend of his elbow – discreet, relatively out of the way, easy to hide, and, if Sebastian has to admit it, somewhat cool. Jeff found out last year that that tattoo belonged to Nick, on the first day Nick transferred to Dalton to start his sophomore year. The tattoo Nick has, on the back of his neck, is a bass guitar – Jeff’s first love.
Also kind of cool.
They were introduced, they shook hands, and bang. They knew. There’s apparently something about the touch of the hands that seals the deal.
Because of that, Sebastian often avoids shaking hands with anyone.
Hunter, who hasn’t met his soulmate yet, has a tattoo of a Rolls Royce Wraith on his flank.
He’s beyond thrilled.
Sebastian always thought that pairing up soulmates by the things they loved the most was an interesting way for nature to sort this out – until he turned thirteen and started to develop his own soulmate tattoo.
A piece of sheet music for the song I’m The Greatest Star.
A show tune. A motherfucking show tune. It couldn’t have been a classical piece of music, like a violin concerto by Vivaldi (Sebastian kind of has a thing for the violin), or a kick-ass hard rock song by AC-DC. No. He got stuck with a song sung by Barbra Streisand in the musical Funny Girl.
And the worst part? It takes up his entire back, and from what he can see, it’s growing. It used to go from his shoulder blades to right above his hips. Now it’s started to creep down to his ass. Sebastian wonders how far it’s going to go. Will it branch down both legs until it reaches his ankles? Invade the soles of his feet, then continue up the front?
Sebastian doesn’t object to the idea of soulmates, just to having one that has the song I’m The Greatest Star as one of their life’s pursuits.
What if he ends up with a woman? It’s been known to happen, for boys or girls who identify sexually one way to end up with a soulmate that doesn’t fit their preferred parameters. It’s rare, but it happens.
It would suck if that happened to him.
Sometimes he has dreams of his soulmate licking over the notes, humming the tune as they kiss down his back, and those are kind of hot, but otherwise his tattoo is a huge bummer. He never takes his shirt off anymore – not at the pool or the lake. He got a special note from his dermatologist excusing him indefinitely from being a skin during gym class. After lacrosse practice, he can’t shower in the locker room with the rest of the team.
He might as well have Elephant Man’s disease. He feels like a total freak.
Sebastian starts to change into his lacrosse uniform, lost in the world of his own self-pity, not paying attention to anything beyond folding up his blazer and rolling up his tie, then shedding his button-down shirt and his tee. He doesn’t hear one of the stall doors creak open, or the soft gasp that comes from the boy who steps out and catches Sebastian undressing. Sebastian starts unbuttoning his slacks when the boy clears his throat.
Sebastian stops. He looks up and sees the boy standing there, shocked and slightly agog, blushing a deep pink high on his cheeks.
“Uh, hi,” Sebastian says, buttoning his slacks back up.
“Hi. Did you…lock the door?” the boy asks with a wary look in his blue eyes.
“Yeah,” Sebastian says. “Sorry. My friends kind of chased me in here. I didn’t know anyone else was here.”
The boy nods. “Do you go to school here?” he asks. “I’m here for a choir competition, and I’m trying to find the auditorium.”
“No,” Sebastian says. “I’m here for a scrimmage.”
“Oh,” the boy says. “I didn’t know there was one.”
“Yeah, well…there is.”
The boy nods again. Sebastian nods, trying not to roll his eyes. Great conversationalist. Probably goes to public school. As Sebastian watches, waiting to see what the boy’s going to do next, his eyes become bigger, rounder, and he rushes forward, smiling bright.
“Oh my God!” he says, reaching out a hand Sebastian’s way. “I love that song!”
Sebastian knows right away what the boy is talking about, and he looks over his shoulder with cold dread crowding his chest. He’s been standing in front of a mirror, and the boy caught a glimpse of his tattoo in the reflection.
“Really?” Sebastian mutters with a grimace on his face, taking a step to the side to conceal the tattoo, and to get away from the over-excited boy.
“Yeah,” the boy says, walking behind Sebastian to get a better look at it. “And…oh my God! It’s written in my key.”
The dread in Sebastian’s chest turns rock solid, dragging him down. Sebastian feels like he needs to sit before he falls.
“No…” Sebastian says.
“Yes!” the boy answers, looking at the notes, his breath curling over them as he hums the tune, making Sebastian’s toes curl whether he likes it or not.
But Sebastian kind of likes it.
“You’re so lucky,” the boy says with a sigh. “My soulmate tattoo is some weird stick.” The boy walks back in front of Sebastian, probably remembering it’s rude to stare at someone else’s soulmate tattoo without permission. “It takes up most of my inner arm.” The boy looks down at his right arm, his soulmate tattoo hidden beneath a blue sleeve buttoned tight at the wrist. “I can’t tell if it’s some kind of sports thing, or if it’s made for picking apples. It’s got a basket-thing on the end.”
Sebastian leans against the wall, his head following, knocking against the tile.
“It’s a lacrosse stick,” he says, swallowing hard.
“Really?” the boy says, undoing his cuff and rolling up his sleeve, amazed that Sebastian would know without seeing it. Not until his sleeve is rolled up to his elbow does it hit him, and his fingers shake. “How…how do you know?”
“My name is Sebastian,” Sebastian says, the next few words weighing down his tongue, “and I think I’m your soulmate.”
“My…my name is Kurt,” the boy answers, looking from the stick tattoo on his arm back to the boy leaning against the bathroom wall in front of him. “Are you sure?”
“There’s only one way to find out,” Sebastian says. He isn’t exactly looking forward to it, but the two of them can’t deny destiny. If they’re meant to be, they’re meant to be. Unpleasant things happen to people who shirk their soulmate. Horrible illnesses sometimes. Even death.
Sebastian reaches out quickly and takes Kurt’s hand, the telltale tingling of two soulmates touching growing in the center of their joined palms and surging up their arms. Kurt cries out, pulling at his hand, but Sebastian doesn’t let go.
“Yeah,” Sebastian says with a sarcastic laugh. “Pretty sure.”