Chrome hesitated in front of the lab door. Maybe he should just let it go. There was no point bothering Senku with something silly like this. It wasn’t a big deal or anything. As he was about to talk himself out of the whole thing, a little voice in the back of his mind spoke up, reminding him how nice it would be to finally have answers to the questions that had been following him his whole life.
He took a deep breath to calm his nerves and gently knocked on the door frame before entering the lab.
“Hey, Senku, are you busy?” Senku sat up from where he was lying on the ground in the middle of the lab, decidedly not busy, and raised an eyebrow in confusion.
“Not really, what’s up? I didn’t think you even knew how to knock.” Chrome took another deep breath and tried once again to calm his nerves a little. Apparently his lack of response to Senku’s joke was cause for concern as Senku stood up from the floor and watched him with a puzzled look. “For real though, I’m not busy. Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. I just… I have a question for you.”
“It’s… Uh… Well… It’s about…”
“Science?” Senku supplied, apparently taking it upon himself to try and guess the subject after a minute of Chrome’s nervous stalling.
“Girls?” Chrome felt his cheeks warm a little as he shook his head.
“Boys?” His blush burned a little hotter and he shook his head a little harder.
“Sex? Because honestly I’m really not qualifi-”
“NO! Just… No.”
“Okay well I’m running out of thi-”
“It’s about the words! The ones on your chest.” Chrome’s voice trailed off a little at the end, his burst of confidence not lasting longer than a millisecond. Senku raised his eyebrow and pulled his collar down a little to reveal the words written just below his collar bone.
“You mean my soulmate mark?” He asked. Chrome nodded weakly, unable to look Senku in the eye. “I mean I can’t really tell you much about it other than what I said a few days ago. I honestly don’t know much about soulmates. Why?” Chrome took a steadying breath and grabbed the hem of his shirt, rubbing it between his fingers a little in thought.
“Well… Actually… I was kind of wondering if you might know anything about… well about this.” He lifted the edge of his shirt just enough to reveal the small words that had been neatly printed right above his hip bone since birth.
Senku’s eyes widened as he processed this new information. After recovering from his initial shock, he leaned in closer to get a better look.
“How long have those been there?”
“My whole life. No one else in the village has them though, so my parents told me never to tell or show anyone and to keep it a secret. But then you had the same thing and it seemed important to you so I thought ‘hey, maybe this should be important to me, too’. Plus it seemed like a really good thing and not at all a weird thing. Except I still don’t get why I have them and no one else in Ishigami village does,” Chrome continued to ramble nervously, even after Senku had straightened up and stepped back and he had let his shirt fall back into place.
Senku hummed in thought as he sat back down on the floor. Chrome sat down opposite of him, waiting eagerly to hear the scientist’s theory.
“Well I don’t know a whole lot about how soulmates work except that there is zero logic or science behind it, so at this point I’m not sure why I’m even surprised by this. This may be far fetched, but the only thing I can think of is maybe your soulmate is someone from my time who also got petrified.”
“You think that could happen?” Senku shrugged in response.
“I’m not 100% sure, no. But that’s the best theory I have. Something like your soulmate had a soulmate mark like everyone else in our time and the universe or whatever decided that it wouldn’t be fair for just one of you to have a mark, so once you were born you got one too.” Senku paused in thought and suddenly burst into laughter. “God, that sounded more ridiculous the more I tried to make it make sense.”
“But if that’s true, and the soulmate thing works despite the fact that 3700 some odd years passed between when my soulmate got their mark and I got mine, doesn’t that mean there’s a good chance you’ll still find yours in the stone world?” Senku just shrugged again and gave Chrome a small smile.
“Like I said, it’s just a theory. There’s no telling until you actually meet your soulmate.” He stretched back out onto the floor and stared at the ceiling again. “No go away, I’m super busy.”
“With science, Chrome. With science.”
Could he really have a soulmate? Someone he was destined to love and to be with? Why would he, out of everyone in Ishigami village, be the one to have something like this? Was there really a chance it was someone from Senku’s time?
And what about Ruri? Obviously she wasn’t his soulmate, if he did in fact have one. But wasn’t he in love with her? Of course he thought the blonde priestess was stunningly beautiful, but he had never actually put much thought into the idea of having a real relationship with her. First of all, she was completely out of reach to him as the village priestess. Second, she was Kohaku’s older sister and the more he thought about it, the weirder that got.
He felt like he had 100 new questions every day, but according to Senku the only way he would get answers was to be patient and wait to eventually meet his supposed soulmate. But patience wasn’t one of Chrome’s strong suits and much to Senku’s chagrin he continued to pose every question that crossed his mind.
“How do you not have more questions about it Senku? That’s not very scientific of you,” Chrome asked one day after Senku had snapped at him to stop asking him questions about soulmates. Senku rolled his eyes and let out a heavy sigh.
“I had a lot of questions when I was a kid, but everyone always said I needed to just blindly trust the system, which, yes before you say anything I realize that’s what I’ve been telling you, but I think I understand why they said that now. It’s easier. Plus, I grew up in a society where we were surrounded by the idea of soulmates. You just learned about them and now apparently you’re the only person in your entire village to have one. I guess it makes sense that you’d have a lot of questions.”
“Does that mean you’re going to be more understanding and answer them now?”
He watched as Senku showed his own, usually hidden, mark and the two of them seemed to reach a silent understanding, instantly gravitating towards each other and holding on to one another tightly
Chrome smiled at the scene, genuinely happy that his friend found his soulmate despite the fact that he had seemed so convinced it would be impossible. They both looked a little overwhelmed, but their excitement and joy was almost palpable in the air around them.
He smiled to himself and glanced down where he knew his own mark was hidden beneath his shirt. Maybe there really was something to this whole soulmate thing.
“Good morning, Chrome.”
“Hey Gen,” Chrome answered with a small wave and a smile. He still didn’t know him that well, especially since Senku had been monopolizing Gen’s time since his arrival, but from the little they had talked, he seemed nice enough. Plus, Senku trusted and liked him, so that had to count for something. “Senku isn’t here if that-”
“Believe it or not, I’m actually here to talk to you.” Gen stood across from Chrome at the lab table, eyeing the array of minerals he had spread out over it. Chrome raised an eyebrow in confusion.
“Well word on the street is that a certain villager has a soulmate mark and I got curious.”
“Wait people know about that?” Chrome felt a little bit of panic edge its way into his voice, still in the habit of feeling like he should keep it hidden. Gen shook his head and raised his hands in a placating gesture.
“No, sorry, wrong word choice I guess. I mean Senku told me and I got curious.” Relief flooded the sciencer and he let out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding.
“Oh, gotcha. What did you want to know, though? You probably know a lot more about soulmates than I do.”
“Exactly! See, the only person you’ve been able to talk to about all this has been Senku, and while Senku-chan is certainly very smart, he isn’t exactly winning any awards for his emotional intelligence. He told me that he spent most of his life trying to ignore the whole soulmate thing. So I thought you might want to talk to someone who actually likes the idea of soulmates.” Chrome mulled over the mentalists words for a minute.
“Actually, yeah, that would be nice.” He put the rock he had been holding down on the table and turned his full attention on Gen. “So how does it all work?”
“I don’t know.”
“I thought you said you were going to help me.”
“Yeah okay, well no one knows how it works. It just does!” Chrome narrowed his eyes and glared at Gen.
“You’re zero help.”
“Well I didn’t realize you were going to ask me to try and explain the workings of the universe,” Gen grumbled in response. Chrome gestured to their surroundings with a sweeping gesture of his arm.
“Hi, Gen, science lab. Science. Kingdom of science. Lots of science. Have you noticed all the science going on here? The whole asking questions about the universe thing kind of goes along with that.” Gen wrinkled his nose at the sciencer but his sour glare was ruined by the small fits of laughter that were escaping without his permission.
“You’ve been spending far too much time with Senku-chan.” Chrome snorted and turned back to what he had been working on before Gen had interrupted.
“Yeah, well, it’s because of all the science.” Gen huffed and threw his hands in the air dramatically.
“If you love science so much, maybe you should just marry it instead of worrying about your soulmate,” Gen mumbled.
“That’s not a bad idea.” They both turned at the unexpected sound of Senku’s voice from the doorway. He set down a basket of materials he’d taken from the store room on the table near Chrome with a small nod of greeting before reaching out to wrap his arm around Gen’s waist and pull him closer, pressing a quick kiss to the mentalist’s temple.
“Don’t encourage him, Senku-chan. You’ve already poisoned his mind beyond repair with all this science stuff.” Senku laughed and moved away from Gen to start unpacking the materials from the store room and help Chrome. Chrome observed as Gen watched Senku with a small smile on his lips, seemingly content to just watch the scientist go about his daily life.
“Hey Gen, I have a real question for you this time.”
“What’s that?” Chrome paused and tried to figure out the best way to ask.
“How does it feel? Once you’ve found your soulmate, I mean.” Gen didn’t look away from Senku, who was already too immersed in his work to pay attention to what the two of them were talking about.
“It’s like something you didn’t realize was out of place clicks into place and things you didn’t even know could get better do. You just want them to smile and be happy all the time, no matter what.” He looked over at Chrome for the first time since he had started talking, his eyes and smile soft and content. “It’s just an overwhelming sense of joy and… rightness.” Senku snorted and glanced over at his soulmate. Gen blushed a little upon realizing that Senku had been listening.
“Rightness? Such eloquent words from the ever charming mentalist.” His bright red blush dulled the taunt significantly.
“Oh, like you could describe it better, Senku-chan.” Senku stared at Gen for a minute before turning to look at Chrome.
“It feels perfect in a way science can’t even begin to explain.”
The first time the thought of soulmates crossed his mind since the mission had begun was .2 seconds too late when the blond archer - Ukyo - was untying the rope from around him.
“We don’t need these ropes anymore,” Ukyo said with a warm laugh.
“Why does it feel like I’ve heard that somewhere befor- OH GOD THE WORDS!” Chrome reached up to press his hand just above his hip bone, where he knew those exact words were written. Where those exact words had been written since he had been born.
“Okay, stay calm. Senku seemed calm when Gen showed up, I can be calm now.” What was he supposed to do in this situation? Damn them for not telling him what to do when he actually met his soulmate. He glanced over at Ukyo out of the corner of his eye. “Oh god, he’s still talking. Pay attention! What if he’s saying something important!” Just then, Ukyo paused and looked at him expectantly, obviously waiting for some sort of response. Chrome panicked and laughed nervously.
“Oh, haha, you think so?”
“That’s all you’ve got? You think so? You weren’t even listening to what he said! Wait, crap! If this guy really is my soulmate, does that mean that’s what’s written on him?” Chrome snapped out of his internal panic long enough to look at Ukyo again.
The blond was standing frozen as if he’d been struck by lightning. He stared at Chrome in shock with his right hand pressed tightly against his neck. In the bright midday sun, Chrome was almost certain he could see tears gathering in the other’s eyes. After a few minutes of silence, during which Chrome only managed to panic more and give Ukyo an embarrassingly awkward smile, Chrome finally heard Ukyo whisper under his breath.
“There- There’s no way.” He took a step closer to Chrome without looking away from him for a second.
“There-” He cleared his throat and spoke a little louder. “Chrome, have you by any chance heard about the idea of soulmates?”
“Yeah, Senku and Gen are soulmates and explained it to me the best they could.”
“Senku and Gen- Oh that fucker has a lot of explaining to do,” Ukyo mumbled. He seemed distracted for a minute so Chrome steeled himself and took the next step.
“You don’t happen to have some stupid sounding words that say something like ‘you think so?’ somewhere, do you?” Ukyo looked back up at him with teary eyes and a shaky laugh. He slowly pulled down the high collar of his coat to bare the side of his neck. Chrome couldn’t help but think the dark black words contrasted nicely with the smooth, pale skin of Ukyo’s neck, taking a moment to take in the sight.
“This feels like a long shot, but you don’t happen to have some, what I’m now realizing are highly suggestive, words about rope somewhere, do you?” Chrome could hear the barely restrained hope in Ukyo’s voice at the end of the question and could see the same hopefulness reflected in his wide eyes. Chrome just nodded and pulled the edge of his shirt up to reveal his mark.
Upon seeing them, Ukyo sucked in a sharp breath and collapsed to his knees in front of Chrome as if all the strength had been sapped from him. He hesitantly reached out, glancing up at Chrome’s face as if asking permission before reaching out fully. Chrome bit his lower lip and gave an almost imperceptible nod. Within a second, Ukyo surged up and forward and wrapped one arm around Chrome’s waist to hold him still and reverently brushed his fingers over the words. Chrome stifled a small gasp at the new, pleasant sensation of someone’s skin against his own.
Ukyo tightened his grip around Chrome’s waist fractionally and leaned forward to press his forehead against the words. He took a few deep breaths before leaning back again. He stayed kneeling with one arm around Chrome and looked up at him. Ukyo smiled and let out a breathless laugh. Chrome felt his own breath catch in his throat at the sight of Ukyo’s gentle smile, the sunlight catching in his golden hair, and his bright blue eyes.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered, breath ghosting against Chrome’s skin, making the sciencer shiver slightly.
“For being weird and overly emotional about this. This has to be weird for you. It’s just… I’ve been waiting for this for thousands of years now technically. And you just learned about what this was in the past couple of years.” He paused and frowned a little. “You probably don’t even want a soulmate.”
“I want you,” Chrome snapped back before he could even register what he was saying.
“You don’t even know me, Chrome.”
“Well I know I want to see your smile every day,” Chrome said confidently as he reached down to press his palm against Ukyo’s cheek. Ukyo closed his eyes and leaned into the touch with a smile. “And honestly, that’s enough to make me think this whole soulmate thing might be the real deal.” Ukyo chuckled and tipped forward again to lean against Chrome, his lips just barely brushing against Chrome’s skin as he spoke quietly.
“I didn’t think I’d ever meet you.”
“And I didn’t know you existed.” Chrome tensed as Ukyo frowned and furrowed his brow in confusion.
“I don’t think that was as romantic as you think it was.”
“Nope, I had a few regrets there.” He nudged Ukyo’s shoulder and took a step back, holding out his hand for Ukyo to grab. “Let’s go before I have the chance to ruin this further.” Ukyo laughed brightly and grabbed Chrome’s hand.
Chrome pulled the blond to his feet and turned to start down the path without letting go of the other’s hand. Ukyo quickly fell into step next to him, adjusting his hand to intertwine their fingers more comfortably.
“Wait, Chrome.” Ukyo suddenly stopped walking and tugged gently at their linked hands to get the sciencer’s attention. Chrome stopped and turned back, ready to ask if something was wrong. Before he could get the words out though, Ukyo leaned forward and pressed his lips to Chrome’s in a quick, chaste kiss. “Okay,” he breathed out against Chrome’s lips, “now we can go.”
“Wait, no. This is much better than anything else we have to do today.” Ukyo laughed and started walking away, pulling a lagging Chrome behind him slightly by their joined hands.