Jack’s soulmate is very… excitable. .. if the comets streaking down his arms is anything to go by. It’s different from feeling so hollow all the time, a feeling of content settles over him as he watches each comet tail disappear over the tips of his fingers. Even in the sterile room of the rehab facility, Jack feels like he’s basking in the sun, and he’s grateful for the galaxy painted on his body. Comets flood like hope, laughter, and that life can be happy, and that he could be happy. For the first time in a long time, Jack thinks of life outside of the game. It wouldn’t be perfect, it would be messy, but at least there was hope out there for him.
He flips the black light off, and though he can’t see them anymore, he can still feel the rush of comets under his skin.
The silver hedging around his galaxy had always trembled, pulsed, sometimes much faster than others. Sometimes the quivering was so small, Eric thought he’d imagined the movement under his skin. It disappears for such a long time, that he nearly collapses in the bathroom under the cosmetic black light features watching the silver leech out of his dusting, leaving large holes where his soulmate’s galaxy once resided. Mama had done her best to console him, completely perplexed as to what could have happened, but Eric watched for a sign. A sign that his soulmate hadn’t just faded away. His prayers are answered as silver slowly creeps up his hands, asking for forgiveness and offering an apology. He cries for a solid three hours in relief.
After the blackout , as Eric called it, he’d done as much research into the tremors as possible. Google produces article after article about soulmates with high anxiety levels can sometimes cause disturbances across and in dustings.
As a general rule, Eric Bittle does not think of the day he thought his soulmate died, while sitting under the black light placed above his desk and letting the various green and blue lights of his own galaxy brighten the room. But Lord forgive him, he can’t help but think of them today, as he packs up his things to move to Samwell. Sweet Mary, he’s nervous, but it’s new and it has to be better than where he is now.
His stomach cramps painfully and he squeezes his eyes shut, galaxy still glimmering behind his eyelids. Slowly, tentatively, a branch of silver winds its way up his arms, settling in like a fine dust and calming his nerves. It’s a slow hum under his skin telling him it is going to be okay, that he can make it through. It’s reassuring, to say the least.
He’s going to make it, he is going to be fine.
It starts with a check, Jack thinks, as he slowly skates towards Bittle. The doe eyed freshman shakes in front of him, but Jack doesn’t stop as he gently nudges Eric in to the wall. He doesn’t fall over or pass out, though his skin is sallow and drained of color as he pushes back. Jack crushes the swoop of joy that crests in his stomach and ignores the scattering of comets he can feel riding high up his neck. He’s glad that his soulmate is happy, wherever they are, and he wonders if this is happiness? A four am practice before peewee leagues take the ice, skittering into the side of his teammate that gets better with every passing glance, watching the sun rise on the rink.
Whatever it is, Jack knows he feels calm, he feels content.
“Coming at you hard, Bittle.”
It starts with a check , Jack thinks again, pushing against Eric, who’s skates dig into the ice. And ends with a shove. It’s tiny, not nearly enough to keep a player off of Eric, but enough to where Jack is scooted back a few centimeters.
Comets zip faster, lightning under his skin, and Jack smiles.
“Eh, s’all right. Need to work on your form.”
“Jack Zimmermann, how dare you chirp me this early.”
The Haus, very purposely, does not have any black lights installed anywhere. Eric thinks it has something to do with Locker Room rules, or maybe it has something to do with the way Shitty looks at Lardo but Lardo very pointedly doesn’t look back. But Eric hears things, things that maybe he shouldn’t hear and keeps trapped in his throat any time he sees Lardo’s pinky wrap around Shitty’s.
Demi, Ace, it doesn’t mean broken, Lards. You’re you, and that’s enough for me.
You’re you, and that’s enough for me.
It plays like an infinite loop in his mind for days. During check practices, when Jack has the tiniest proud smirk on his face before he chirps Eric into infinity. The loop continues when Jack jumps over a snow bank and offers to buy him coffee at Annie’s, cheeks red from the cold and his hair tucked under a Samwell beanie. For the first time since the blackout , Eric thinks about what is enough for him.
He thinks about the soulmate he’s never met, reads articles about how soulmates don’t always work out, that it’s not always love. His stomach clenches when reading those, some of the stories are unbearably sad. And the silver nebula branches hum low and steady, glowing brightly under the personal black light he’d velcroed above his desk, anchoring him in place. It’s steady, it’s comforting, but was it enough?
Could he be happy with someone who wasn’t his soulmate? Could that person be enough?
His eyes flicker to his open door and the closed one on the other side of the hall and knows the answer was yes.
Running in slacks was hell, Jack decided, as he raced across campus towards the Haus. Comets weren’t raining, but his own dusting was rising, pooling over at the realizations of his father’s words.
You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
He bounds up the steps three at a time, chest heaving as he halts in Eric’s room.
“Oh! Jack, I-” Comets zip fast under his skin unlike earlier, faster than they ever had before. He bumps into Eric in a rare show of clumsiness, and the personal black light in Bitty’s hand flickers to life. “Oh.”
It’s a soft whisper and even with the daylight pouring in from the window, Jack can see the silver outlines of his nebula on Eric’s face, can see the comets bouncing from his skin on to Jack’s and god is it beautiful .