“Lou, are you coming? What is taking you so long?”
Tammy’s voice echoed through the loft up to Lou who was still stood in front of her bathroom mirror.
“I’ll be down in a second!”, she yelled back, annoyance slipping into her voice.
Why was everyone so fucking punctual in this thief family of theirs? She hurriedly applied a second layer of make up to the spot on her collarbone where the lines of her Mark were still slightly visible. With an exasperated huff she put down the make up and rinsed off her fingers, before pulling the collar of her suit back up. If you looked closely you could still make out the slightest trace of black ink in spite of all her cover up attempts, but it would do. Usually no one ever looked that closely.
Grabbing her wallet and phone Lou hurried downstairs to catch up with the others who were already in the car waiting.
It was their monthly clubbing night. It had originally been Daphne’s idea but somehow everyone was surprisingly into it and so it had become a regular thing for them to at least once a month hire a driver for the eight of them and spend hundreds of dollars on getting drunk on expensive alcohol in a fancy night club.
“Man this one’s seriously the best one yet!”, Constance yelled over the beat of the music as she let herself fall onto the leather couch in the VIP lounge that was theirs for the night, reaching for her ridiculously pink and sugary cocktail.
Lou nodded absentmindedly, nursing her whiskey. The club was nice indeed. They hadn’t been there before. As always it had been Daphne who came up with a new place to try. But right now Lou was too distracted to think about the pros and cons of this specific night club. From where she was currently sat she could easily overlook the dance floor and her eyes were glued to Debbie. Well to be fair, Lou’s eyes were glued to Debbie most of the time, but especially now as the brunette was effortlessly moving her body to the thumping rhythm of the music. The black dress she wore clung to her curves in all the right places, her hair cascading down her shoulders in shimmering dark waves. How could anyone not be mesmerized by her?
“Hellooo? Earth to Lou!”
Constance’s hand in front of her eyes made Lou jump and focus her attention on the younger woman in front of her.
“What?!”, she asked, harsher than she had intended to. But apparently Constance hadn’t even noticed her tone.
“I was asking if you’ve got a Mark yet?”
Lou just stared at Constance blankly but her hand flew up to her collarbone. Constance couldn’t have seen. Not in this lighting with make up and her outfit covering the black lines. But if she hadn’t then what on earth made her ask that question? It was way out of line for most casual conversation and especially so for this context. Marks and Soulmates were no topic to be yelled about over deafening music, even if that music played in the fanciest club in town.
Her face must have conveyed all of these thoughts rather effectively without any conscious effort because Constance quickly raised her hands in surrender.
“Woah there, no need to glare at me like that. Just saying. You know, the way you stare at Debbie I’d think any potential mate might have a hell of a hard time to even get your attention.”
With that she shrugged her shoulders, emptied her glass and disappeared back into the crowd.
Lou took a deep breath and then a huge gulp of her whiskey, letting her fingers trace just once over the well hidden Mark on her skin before dropping her hand back into her lap.
No, Constance definitely hadn’t seen. Still, that remark had Lou feeling on edge.
“Louuu! Come dance with us!”
Tammy, definitely already well past ‘tipsy’, stumbled her way into the lounge and reached for Lou’s hands pulling her up with more strength than anyone would have thought her capable of.
The blonde’s eyes were slightly clouded from alcohol but sparkling and alive nonetheless and Lou couldn’t help the smile spreading on her lips at the honest and only slightly alcohol induced happiness on Tammy’s face.
“Sure Tim-Tam.”, she replied and let herself be dragged down and onto the dance floor. Tammy had been the one protesting the idea of clubbing nights the most vehemently in the beginning but it had quickly become obvious that she was the one enjoying them most. It probably had to do with them being a way of getting away from the family every once in a while and with the way these nights reminded her of old times and treasured memories from 20 years ago. At least that’s what they did for Lou and Debbie, so it was only logical that Tammy felt the sentiment, too.
With Tammy’s hand still grasping hers tightly, swirling her around once they reached the dance floor, Lou decided to no longer dwell on that remark of Constances and when Debbie moved in behind her, pressing herself teasingly along the length of Lou’s body, she quickly forgot all about Marks and Soulmates for the night.
It was a generally mumbled sentiment as soon as the last one inside closed the loft’s door behind them when they got back at some early AM hour. Everyone quickly disappeared into their bed- and bathrooms, exhaustion taking over as soon as they had crossed the threshold to the house everyone still lovingly called home.
Lou and Debbie had sat next to each other on the car ride back from the club and somewhere along the way their hands had found each other, fingers tightly laced together. Lou wasn’t exactly sure what to make of the fact that Debbie still hadn’t let go of her hand as they padded upstairs, but she was also too tired and too drunk to really care. A small and tired voice somewhere deep inside whispered that she probably should. That she should care a lot about what Debbie did or didn’t do and what they were and weren’t to each other because the last time they were anywhere close to having that defined was about six and a half years ago. But for tonight Lou successfully silenced that small voice and so it was without question that Debbie followed Lou into her bedroom, where she plopped down on the bed, only now letting go of Lou’s hand. She let herself fall backward onto the covers, sighing loudly, drawing her legs and making herself comfortable.
“You gonna sleep here?”, Lou asked, only slightly slurring her words, as she stood in front of her closet.
“Hmm.”, was the only answer Debbie gave.
Lou nodded and tossed an old tanktop to sleep in towards Debbie, who mumbled something that sounded a lot like “just wanna fall asleep in your arms” before grudgingly tugging off her dress and changing.
When they crawled under the covers some ten minutes later, after bathroom trips and some half-assed splashing of water in their faces, Debbie snuggled close to Lou’s chest, tucking her head under the blonde’s chin. They both fell asleep within minutes, none of them sparing one thought to the fact that this was the first night they shared a bed since Debbie had been released from prison. Since Debbie had been sent to prison. Since Debbie had left for shady asshole wannabe art dealer Claude Becker.
“What the HELL?!?”
Lou jolted awake, blinking rapidly against the bright room for a second before the pounding hangover headache set in and she screwed her eyes shut again, bringing her hands to her temples in an automated attempt to ease the piercing pain.
“Lou what the FUCK is that on your chest?!”
Debbie’s words, not a scream but loud and forceful enough to be absolutely uncharacteristic, brought her back to the situation at hand. Lou’s brain was still in standby mode though so early in the morning or whatever time of the day it was and it took way to long for the words to register in her brain. When they did eventually, her hand immediately flew to her chest. Shit. Drunk and tired she hadn’t really put much thought into what to wear to bed and the red flannel she had chosen now beautifully bares the Mark just below her collarbone. She forced her eyes open to meet Debbie’s, headache or no headache, this was important. So much so, possibly.
Debbie was staring at her from the other side of the bed, a fire burning in her chocolate eyes as she stared at the ink outlining a the form of a diamond on Lou’s skin.
Lou was finally wide awake.
“How long have you had it?”
Lou, for the first time in ages, couldn’t interpret the tone of Debbie’s voice. It was a mixture of anger, betrayal, fear but also surprise and hope? Lou shook her head to clear her thoughts and regretted the movement in the next second when piercing pain shot through her temples.
“Since you got out!” Lou replied, rubbing her temples but returning Debbie’s stare, “it’s been there ever since I picked you up from the cemetery.”
“And it didn’t cross your mind to tell me?”
“Well, it’s a diamond. It doesn’t exactly have your name written on it. How was I to know what it meant?”
“I told you about the MET plan that same night! About how we were going to steal diamonds?”
Lou ran her hands through her hair. Her heart was pounding, blood rushing in her ears, the headache pounding in rhythm with her pulse and she felt all around miserable. And now was the time Debbie wanted to talk about this! Lou took a deep breath and gave into the pain in her head for a moment, closing her eyes again.
“Of course I thought it meant you.”, she admitted quietly, “Hoped, couldn’t believe it... But how was I supposed to know for sure?”
The initial adrenaline rush of being woken up by the Debbie Ocean equivalent of being screamed at subsided slowly and exhaustion, exasperation and insecurity slipped into Lou’s voice as she kept rubbing at her temples.
“I just got you back from freaking 6 years in prison. We were still so good together. I wasn’t gonna- risk anything...”, she trailed off, unable to stop the loop of why do we have to do this now? in her mind. And anyway, why didn’t Debbie have a piercing headache? She had been drinking, too, and she had always, always been a lightweight when it came to alcohol!
Debbie’s voice had lost all anger and accusation, being suddenly almost soft as she now quietly said Lou’s name. Lou opened her eyes again slowly, unsure what to expect with that sudden change of emotion. Her heart skipped a beat when her tired eyes focused. Debbie had turned standing now with her back to Lou, hair gathered together over one shoulder. She had tugged down her sleep shirt to reveal black ink on her left shoulder blade. Black ink outlining a record player. Lou actually gasped out loud and her eyes flew from the Mark on Debbie’s skin to the shelf in the right corner of the room on which that exact record player sat. Her record player.
“Deb...”, she whispered unbelieving, headache forgotten over the amount of emotions suddenly flooding her system.
Debbie had turned back around and moved to sit back on the bed, reaching for Lou’s hand, intertwining their fingers. Lou could only stare at their joined hands as her mind worked through everything she was suddenly feeling all at once.
She wanted to laugh, to cry and scream, to hit something, to shake her head at her stupidity, her insecurity. Most of all she wanted to kiss Debbie. Which she did eventually.
Their lips still fit together like they did all those years ago. Lou lost herself in the kiss, in the feeling of Debbie’s lips moving so perfectly against hers. When they parted, their eyes locked and Lou could see, maybe for the first time, a sort of sheepishness in Debbie’s expression. She was clearly as overwhelmed by this whole thing as Lou was. They just looked at each other for the longest moment, both lost in their own thoughts of what this discovery was going to mean.
Eventually though Lou couldn’t hold back a laugh as her thoughts kept circling back to the ink on Debbie’s skin.
“A record player.”
That was really what the Gods believed depicted her most defining feature best.
“Well it is fitting.”, Debbie replied smiling, brushing her thumb over the back of Lou’s hand where they were still laced together, “You live and breathe music, Lou.”
Lou shrugged, although she could feel a blush creeping up her cheeks.
Debbie’s eyes fell to Lou’s chest, to her Mark and Lou nodded slowly. Gently Debbie traced a finger over the dark lines in the skin. She followed the outline of the diamond that very fittingly captured Debbie’s personality and then she also traced the newly appeared lines of the record player: proof that the both of them were indeed Soulmates, indeed two parts of the same whole.
“For human nature was originally one and we were a whole and now our pursuit of wholeness, our desire to be complete is called Love.”, Debbie whispered the ancient words and a shudder ran down Lou’s spine.
They learned about all of this in school, of course. Learned about humanity’s sin and fall from grace. Learned how the Gods were so irate with humanity’s attempts at grasping for divine powers that as punishment they ripped every human being in two- doomed to forever search and long for their other half. The only mercy they were offered were the Marks. Physical marks, like tattoos, that appeared on your body when you met your Soulmate- provided the Gods believed the time to be right. The marks were the only guidance in finding the other part of yourself.
It was not exactly rare for two people to find their soulmate in their lifetime, but it was definitely no certainty either. Lou had only ever known two people who had that kind of luck.
But now, as she was looking into Debbie’s eyes, heard Debbie’s voice say those words she had never ever expected to be aimed at her, Lou felt herself somehow one with the universe.
“Do you... do you feel that?”, she asked in a whisper, unable to actually locate her voice, unsure if the sudden shift in her self perception was merely an image in her mind or something more substantial.
When Debbie squeezed their interlaced hands tightly and nodded, holding Lou’s gaze with eyes both intensely fixed on Lou and yet somehow still focused on something far away, the knowledge settled in Lou that everything had indeed shifted. Not much. Not outwardly anyway. But permanently nonetheless.
None of them would be able to tell how much time passed while they simply stared at each other, adjusting to and reassessing their new place in the natural order of the world. Eventually though, Lou felt herself return to her body and could sense Debbie experiencing the same.
“incredible.”, Debbie finished her sentence and Lou only nodded.
The movement brought back the piercing headache from earlier and she winced, letting go of Debbie’s hand to press fingers back against her temples.
“All that soul-shifting epiphany and yet it doesn’t cure a fucking headache.”, Lou groaned and then blinked at Debbie with a frown, “Why aren’t you hungover?”
Debbie smiled apologetically.
“I took a painkiller when I went to pee a few hours ago.”
Lou made a disapproving noise in the back of her throat.
“That’s not fair. And then you wake me up like that and we have this epiphany when I’m not even really awake yet. You’re not playing fair, Deborah Ocean!”
Debbie’s smiled widened into a grin, but when she leaned forward she placed the gentlest kiss on Lou’s cheek and ran a hand carefully through her Soulmate’s hair.
“I’ll get you a painkiller.”
Lou gladly took the pill and glass of water Debbie brought back and drank with a sigh of relieve.
“Lou, why didn’t you say something when your Mark appeared?”, Debbie asked carefully, settling in next to Lou, running fingers down her arm in a gentle caress that was so uncharacteristic yet so real it made Lou’s heart ache.
“Why didn’t you?”
Debbie sighed, her eyes closing in avoidance.
“I was afraid.”, Lou quickly answered herself before Debbie had to, because Lou knew exactly how much Debbie hated to admit fear.
“I’ve missed you so much.” The words were a voiceless whisper from Debbie’s lips, but they surprised Lou and strung a chord in her that made her bite back tears. She raised her palm to Debbie’s cheek and caressed the soft skin while her heart tried to figure out an adequate reaction to this sudden confession. She didn’t expect Debbie to go on, but she did, leaning into the touch ever so slightly.
“I never should have gone with Claude. I should have listened to you. But I was an idiot, a stubborn, competitive Ocean-idiot. It took 5 years, 8 months and 12 days in prison to understand that. I think it’s why we didn’t get the Marks back then. Because the Gods knew I needed to learn this lesson first.”
“Deb-“, Lou tried to interrupt, because No! nothing in the world justified Debbie being put into prison but Debbie wouldn’t let her, reaching up to brush sleep-tangled blonde hair out of her face.
“No, it’s okay. I did. I wish it wouldn’t have been in prison, but I did have to learn to not take you for granted and to put you first. And I did.” She paused, brown eyes sparkling with love and honesty, before she continued, a little more lightheartedly, “But maybe, for the past months, we were both just a bit too wary around each other.”
A smile tugged at her lips and Lou shook her head slightly, smiling with her at the memory of the lengths they had gone to to keep distance between them where neither had really wanted it.
“Yeah. Yeah. I think you could say that.”
“We’ve never been good at talking about us, have we?”
Debbie ran her hands through Lou’s hair again and along the side of her jaw, down her neck, the motion eliciting goosebumps all over Lou’s skin.
“Maybe we’ll be now?”, she offered as Debbie’s fingers once again paused on the Mark on her chest.
“I was afraid you’d hate me after Claude.” Debbie admitted, “Mark or no Mark, I couldn’t understand how you’d ever forgive me for leaving you for him. But you have, haven’t you? Months ago.”
Lou nodded, placing her hand over Debbie’s at her chest.
“Yes, I have.” Lou had made her peace with that. For a long time she had wanted to stay angry at Debbie, had wanted to keep blaming her for those miserable months after she was sentenced. But she simply couldn’t. Too great had been her longing for her- a longing, as she now understood, much more substantial than the mere missing of an old lover.
“Also, Debbie,” she continued carefully, needing to say these next words but unsure how Debbie would take them, “you never left for Becker. You left for Danny. For Danny and for your father and because you thought bigger, better, riskier jobs were the way to prove yourself.”
Now it was Debbie who bit her lip hard against the upwelling of tears. Lou could see her bottom lip quiver and gently ran her thumb over it. This was something Lou had understood, deep down at least, the second Debbie had walked out of their apartment 6 years ago, proclaiming “Claude is who I need to be with right now!”. Her hurt and betrayal had successfully covered it up for the longest time, but deep down she had always known and she didn’t need to be Debbie’s soulmate to understand. Family did something to you, it always had a way to get to you. Lou knew that all too well and she couldn’t not forgive Debbie for it because that would mean never forgiving herself for her own mistakes either.
“Can we stop with the emotional confessions?”, Debbie asked into that train of thought, voice breaking halfway through the question, making a rather helpless hand gesture instead. It drew a genuine smile from Lou, although it was accompanied by a relieved nod.
“Yes. Absolutely!” Lou agreed.
And with that there had been enough talk about should’ve-s and could’ve-s and if only-s and they crashed their lips together once again. Years of pent up emotions seeped into that kiss. Shudders ran down Lou’s spine and she felt dizzy but she didn’t care, because Debbie’s lips on hers were all that mattered and would forever be the one thing that mattered most. Their lips and tongues dancing with each other soothed all scars and doubts and insecurities, mended what was broken and mended too their souls where they had centuries ago been ripped apart, returning them to their true form.