Lucho and Sergio are downstairs, probably wondering about their next course of action, but Juliana and Valentina have sequestered themselves in Valentina’s room and frankly, Juliana doesn’t care what they do as long as they stay away. She doesn’t even feel bad about it, because they aren’t supposed to be here in the first place.
“I was expecting fireworks, but… nothing!”
Valentina is in the process of telling her all about her adventures in Canada, moving on to her disappointing experiences with boyfriends, and Juliana listens with wide eyes.
Valentina shrugs. “I don’t know how it was for you, but for me…” she shakes her head and makes a little face before sighing and musing, “Maybe it’s just me.”
Then she’s watching Juliana expectantly, and Juliana doesn’t know what she’s waiting for, laughing a little bit at the absurdness of it all. “What?”
“Tell me!” Valentina laughs, nudging her gently, “What do you think?”
Juliana can feel herself blushing and ducks her head, grateful when her hair hangs down to hide her face, even if for a second.
“No?” Valentina moves with her, trying to hold her gaze as she giggles, and Juliana can feel her flush getting worse.
“Nothing, just – nothing!”
“What do you mean, nothing?” Valentina laughs, tone curious but still kind, and surprisingly Juliana doesn’t feel any sort of judgment coming from her.
“Well, no – I’ve just… I’ve never – no,” she tries to figure out a way to tell her she’s never had sex without embarrassing herself, but her mind is drawing a blank and Valentina is still watching her with those crazy blue eyes, and this would be hard enough under normal circumstances.
There’s a pause, and then Valentina grabs her right hand and squeezes tight, face lighting up. “What? You – ”
“No, stop it,” Juliana protests halfheartedly, and given the way Valentina just continues without pause, it’s completely ineffective.
“Are you a virgin?” she asks gleefully, practically bouncing in her seat, and Juliana drops her head.
“…Yes! Fine, yeah, yes.”
Valentina bursts into peals of laughter, falling sideways onto the bed, and Juliana huffs and rolls her eyes before pulling her up.
“Val, enough,” she pouts, “Don’t make fun of me!”
“No, I’m not making fun of you!” she keeps laughing, but Juliana can tell she’s putting effort into stopping. “Juls! You have a whole world of possibilities to explore!”
Juliana looks away and brings her hand up to scratch the side of her nose, taking a moment to try controlling herself, and doesn’t expect to see the affectionate smile Valentina has on her face.
“This is incredible!” she continues, waving her hands around, “It’s the best news of the day!”
Hesitating, Juliana smiles back before dropping her head to stare at her left wrist, playing with a loose thread of one of her bracelets as Valentina takes a deep breath and seems to compose herself a bit more, pressing both hands to her mouth before she holds them out for Juliana again.
“You’re not missing anything,” she promises, eyes shining sincerely, and Juliana doesn’t know if she believes her. Her soulmark starts to tingle insistently, feeling slowly getting more noticeable, and Juliana presses it against her leg.
“You’ve never been in love?” she asks curiously, hating how childish the question comes out. That finally seems to give Valentina pause, and Juliana watches as her smile turns rueful when she hesitates.
“No.” She shrugs one shoulder, pushing her hair behind her ear, “I don’t believe in it.”
“Don’t… believe in love?” Juliana repeats in confusion, and Valentina nods.
“It’s just something made up for silly people,” she says nonchalantly, eyes crinkling playfully, “So they can celebrate on September… 14th… wait, February! See, I don’t even know the date!”
She bursts into laughter again, and it’s contagious the way her face is alight with mirth. Juliana can’t remember when it’s ever been so easy for her to laugh like this, but she thinks it must have started when she met Valentina.
They calm after a second, laughter still hanging between them, and Juliana feels her left wrist tingle again.
“Then what about soulmarks?” she asks before she can think better of it, and she flushes when Valentina looks up at her, eyes widening slightly in surprise. “I mean, that’s their whole purpose, right? To help you find love?”
Valentina quiets, the cheer slowly fading from her face as she begins to curl into herself. “I mean… with mine anyways, I don’t really… I don’t know. It’s – I just expected a little bit more, you know?”
Juliana nods but stays quiet, sensing the way she’s trying to gather her thoughts. Soulmarks are personal, and it’s rare that people share them. She has no doubt that Valentina isn’t going to –
“It’s water. A water droplet,” Valentina says in a rush, voice only the slightest bit unsure, and Juliana widens her eyes, mouth dropping open in surprise. She stays quiet, and Valentina shifts, raising one shoulder and giving her another rueful smile. Her eyes are so expressive, and Juliana feels like she can see every bit of her. She wonders how people ever miss it. “A tiny, little... water drop.”
Juliana stares, trying to wrap her head around the fact that she’s been given this knowledge so freely. This is personal, this is intimate, this is special information people don’t go around sharing with anyone.
And yet Valentina is sharing it with her.
“A water drop?”
Valentina hesitates, and then she’s turning her head away and pulling her hair over her shoulder, exposing the back of her neck to Juliana. Tilting her head, she taps at her right ear before setting her hand in her lap. It’s a lot to take in, and Juliana tries not to let herself get distracted by the smooth expanse of skin.
It’s so quiet in the room, and Juliana finds herself holding her breath as she leans closer to get a better look at the splash of ink behind her ear.
“Like rain,” Valentina murmurs quietly, dipping her head a bit more. “…Or a tear.”
Entranced, Juliana reaches forward, almost brushing the tips of her fingers against soft skin but stopping herself before she makes contact. She hears a quiet intake of breath from the other girl and quickly retracts her hand, folding them one over the other in her lap.
“It’s beautiful, Val,” she says honestly, “Really.”
Valentina lets her hair fall back and turns to face her, shrugging bashfully. “Every one I’ve seen has been cooler, so I don’t know.” She sighs and then shakes her head, visibly conflicted. “Are you… happy with yours?”
Her tone is tentative as she meets Juliana’s eyes this time, and Juliana can feel her heart beating throughout her entire body.
“It’s… here,” she lifts her left wrist and hovers her right hand before tugging at her bracelets, twisting her wrist to move them and slowly uncover her own soulmark. Staring hard, she bites her lip as she waits for a response.
She’s never had any issues with her soulmark before, but looking at it now she’s hit with a sudden wave of insecurity. She hasn’t really seen anyone’s mark aside from her parents, and she definitely isn’t going to be basing any impressions off of them – they didn’t wind up setting the best example, thanks to her father ruining everything. But what if hers is weird, or laughably unimpressive?
But when she looks up, her fears are put to rest. Valentina is staring with awe, leaning forwards and angling her head towards it, and when she slowly brings both her hands up, Juliana lets her cradle her wrist.
“Beautiful,” she murmurs, fingers moving against her skin, and Juliana should probably be putting more effort into keeping her breathing steady. Valentina hesitates, biting her lip and looking up to meet Juliana’s eyes with an unspoken question on her face, and Juliana inclines her head, unable to keep the smile from spreading across her face.
Valentina gives her a happy look in return before leaning over her once again, a lock of hair slipping over her shoulder, and the ends trail down to brush against their hands.
The touch of her fingers on her mark is almost electric, completely in contrast with the soothing sort of shock that rushes through Juliana at it, and that feeling sinks in, spreading through her veins until it reaches her chest. Valentina finishes tracing the flower and stills so her hand is just resting on top of Juliana’s, but the feeling doesn’t fade.
Juliana doesn’t know what to say, doesn’t know what to do, but even stranger, she doesn’t feel the need to figure it out. Using the thumb of her right hand that’s still holding her bracelets out of the way, Juliana absentmindedly rubs at the side of Valentina’s fingers and doesn’t truly register the touch until Valentina looks up through her lashes with a shy sort of joy radiating from her. Her gaze is soft and warming, and Juliana knows without a doubt that she could get lost in it. If she didn’t know better, she’d say that Valentina was watching her with something akin to wonder on her face.
Valentina blinks at her, eyes shining blue in the sunlight filtering through the window, and then she lets out a laugh. Juliana wants to settle in this moment, maybe stay here forever, and then Valentina surprises her again by pulling her forward using the grip on her hand and wrapping her in a hug. She nuzzles her head into Juliana’s neck, and Juliana automatically sinks into her, bringing her free hand up to Valentina’s back and returning the hug.
Of course, they’re interrupted again, both of them pulling away from each other abruptly as something screeches to a halt, but that doesn’t stop the feeling of Valentina’s fingers tracing her soulmark, imprinting itself into her mind like it was always meant to be there.