Dizzee gets his words when summer begins.
He’s lying in bed one night, reading some torn up sci-fi book that Ra-Ra must have checked out from the library, when he turns the page, eyes stopping at a distinct mark on his skin that makes his heart jump in surprise.
The book drops from his hands in an instant, and there’s a small voice in his head that says, if you broke the spine Ra’s gonna kill you, he’ll get his library card taken away, but he can’t focus on it. Not one bit. Instead he lets out a shocked breath of a laugh and runs his fingers over the words on the back of his right hand.
Here, take my hand.
It didn’t hurt. He didn’t even feel them come in. The skin around his words is slightly irritated, but that’s to be expected. When Crash got his words, his forearm had been raised in an angry red that surrounded “That’s a cool piece, man.”
Dizzee blinks a few times, raising his hand up to catch some more of the light from his dim bedside lamp. He’s been meaning to change out the bulb. The light’s muddy at best, but the milky black ink is bold and there and still visible even with this shitty lighting.
Here, take my hand.
He repeats it over and over in his head, then tests it in his own mouth.
“Here, take my hand.”
He never thought he’d get them this early, his words. His mom and dad said they got theirs when they were in their early twenties, and didn’t actually meet each other until their mid twenties. Yolanda hasn’t gotten hers yet, neither has Boo-Boo or Ra-Ra. Everyone always thought it would be Yolanda who got hers first because she’s always rambling on and on about how she swears she dreamt of them coming in soon.
Dizzee falls asleep that night wondering why someone would need to ask for his hand.
Dizzee wakes up to a gentle slap.
“You better be glad this shit didn’t fall apart, Diz.” Ra-Ra’s saying, his fingers gently rubbing at the cracked and worn spine of the book that was sucked into the mess of Dizzee’s floor last night. “Mrs. Williams would have straight up kicked my ass.”
He’s too tired to say anything, just groans and covers his face with one of his pillows. “It’s too early. It’s summer. Go.”
“Well maybe you shouldn’t have taken my book, give me a damn heart attack when I couldn’t f—Holy fuck.”
The change in Ra’s voice is enough for Dizzee to move the pillow from his face, squinting up at him with knitted eyebrows. “What’s wrong?”
“Your—Diz, your words,” He manages, tossing his book aside and knocking over a beer bottle in the process. Ra grabs his hand and moves it close to his face, a surprised laugh blocking any coherent sentence from coming out. “When? You…does mom know? When?”
Dizzee yanks his hand away with a smile and shakes his head, “Last night. Everyone was asleep.”
“We have to…tell everyone!” He says, half hysterical, pulling him up and nearly tripping on a piece of cardboard that Dizzee’s been painting on. He doesn’t even try to fight his brother, just lets himself get dragged into the kitchen where the smell of bacon is strong enough to make his stomach growl. “Ma! Mom, Dizzee, his hand!”
And then there’s a clanging of pots and everyone’s gathering around him, each taking turns to carefully inspect the words.
“Take my hand? How romantic,” Yolanda says, voice light and a hand on her heart. “I’m so happy for you, Diz.”
“This reminds me of the day I got mine,” his mom says, voice wavering and eyes tearing up. “I was sitting in the kitchen with my sister and suddenly she’s screaming at me to look in the mirror, and I just see, Hey beautiful, on my collarbone. Typical Winston.”
Everyone laughs around the table—especially Boo, with his mouth full of toast—and his dad swoops in to kiss her cheek. “You’re going to be so happy, Diz, when you meet them. It’s like…” he looks into her eyes, hand on her waist, “It’s like everything’s suddenly…worth it. To be with them.”
It all really hits Dizzee then, that somewhere out there, there’s someone who’s going to be the reason why he lives, breathes, wakes up every morning. He’s never really had someone who understands him. Crash, Daze, hell even Zeke, they never get him. He doesn’t miss the way they all call him weird because they can’t understand his train of thought or his artwork.
He hopes it’ll be a fresh breath of air when he meets his soulmate.
Dizzee shakes the can of Krylon and turns away from the star he’s filling in for a second, scanning the area around them. They can never be too careful nowadays, and he isn’t about to get locked up again.
Once he sees that no one’s there, he turns back, smiling to himself when the hiss of Krylon fills his ears and the star becomes a bold pink with each stroke of his hand. Crash and Daze are working on the far left and middle of the train, and with their teamwork it makes it so much easier for it to get finished tonight. He can’t wait to see this one, Forget Safety, Be Notorious.
He raises his arm, points the can to a star higher up on the train and starts spraying. He’s so concentrated on getting this perfect, no stray marks or trails. A bead of sweat runs down the back of his neck and trails slowly down his back. It’s hot and humid tonight. The air feels like it’s being sucked out of the Bronx.
“It’s the pigs!”
Dizzee turns to his left, sees Crash and Daze running away from the train already, cans and flashlights abandoned. “Shit,” he curses harshly, stepping down from the ladder as fast as he can manage.
The voice makes a shiver run down his spine with the sheer intensity of it. He tries not to listen, tries to tell himself that the voice sounded pretty far away so it’s perfectly okay to bend over and gather up his bag and flashlight. There’s no fucking way he’s leaving this behind. He picks up the flashlight after securing a hold on his bag, letting out a shuddering breath as he starts to make a run for it.
“Hold it right there!”
He doesn’t even have time to step back and admire the work they did, just rushes past it and lets the sound of rocks crunching under his shoes fill his ears instead of the pigs.
“Crash, Daze, and Rumi, right?”
And, fuck. That makes him pick up speed, makes him turn sharply into a tunnel that he’s tagged a million times before. It’s dark and he’s so fucking afraid that he’s going to be caught again. His heartbeat is in his ears, in his throat, he can feel it everywhere.
He hears the other footsteps fill the tunnel and in a panic, drops his can of Krylon and his flashlight, just hoping to God it’ll distract them or trip them or fucking something, anything to get them off his tracks.
“Goddamn punk ass good for nothings! It’s gonna be worse if you run, kid!”
Dizzee keeps going, lungs burning and eyes watering. He sees a dip in the curved wall and runs more to the right, makes a half-assed plan to hide on the other side even though they’ll probably see him. Maybe it’ll work.
“Here, take my hand!”
Dizzee doesn’t think, doesn’t wonder where the voice came from, just takes the hand he sees and gets pulled in.
He’s vaguely aware of a boy beside him. He instead focuses on his breathing and the way his lungs feel like they might give out.
“God damn it!”
He freezes at the voice, stomach flipping in fear. But then the yelling gets farther and farther away and he lets himself shrink against the cold wall, panting and holding his bag with a death grip. He turns to his left, watches as the boy peeks out and turns back to him with his mouth open slightly.
And then Dizzee drops his bag. He feels his stomach flip again, this time in an entirely different way. It’s them. It’s him. “It’s… you.”
The boy lets out a surprised, shaky breath, letting his head fall back. His long, blonde hair falls into his face but Dizzee can see the way his cheeks are suddenly pink. He’s beautiful, is all Dizzee can think. “It’s you,” he breathes back, his full lips curving into a smile. “It’s so soon? I just got them, like, a week ago.”
“Me too.” Dizzee says, holding up his right hand. Here, take my hand.
The boy smiles, a bright smile that makes Dizzee’s head spin, and holds up his right hand. Across the back, it reads: Thank you.
“You could have said something else, you know,” the boy says, letting his right hand drop to his side again. He’s smiling, still, and shit, he never wants to go a day without that smile again. “Everyone says thank you. I thought at least ten people were my soulmate this week, but turns out they just have proper manners.”
Dizzee laughs at that, and the boy joins in. His laugh is like music. “Sorry.”
The boy just shakes his head, then gestures to the tunnel. “It’s getting harder to hide. Wasn’t always this way.”
“Was for me,” Dizzee says, still a little out of breath. He can’t seem to wrap his head around the fact his soulmate is standing right in front of him. He’s here, they’re together. It’s a funny feeling, deep within him, a pull that makes him feel right at home. Like he never wants to be without him again. And it’s so weird, feeling like that, because he just met him.
“What do you write?”
Dizzee lets out a breath, shrugging and kicking at the strap of his bag on the ground. “You wouldn’t know. It’s called Rumi.”
Dizzee nods, “He’s this alien who always looks like he’s going to the opera, but he never gets there.” He pauses for a moment, only because the boy—he still doesn’t know his name, which is probably something he should ask for later, since, you know, they’re going to spend the rest of their lives together—is looking at him with such a look that he can’t really explain, arms crossed. “And he knows that as soon as he turns up to the opera, even if he has on a top hat and looks like a million bucks, it doesn’t matter, that he’s still gonna terrify everyone there. And that they’ll kill him.”
“You’re a fucking genius.” The boy says as soon as he’s done talking, like the words have been on his tongue ever since he started but he didn’t want to interrupt him. It wasn’t anything that Dizzee was expecting to hear. Crash and Daze had shrugged him off when he told them this, but… this boy, his soulmate. He understands. Dizzee takes a breath of fresh air.
“I can’t believe I’m soulmates with…the Rumi.”
Dizzee lets out a giddy laugh. “What do you write?”
“Me? I’m nobody.”
Dizzee wants to roll his eyes. You’re everything now, he wants to say. “Aw, come on.”
The boy fidgets for a few seconds before biting at his lip. “I write Thor.”
Dizzee’s stomach flips again for what seems like the millionth time that night. Thor. Of fucking course his soulmate is the boy behind Thor. His artwork is beautiful. Dizzee always takes extra time to study it, to feel it beneath his fingers when he sees it around. “Oh my…you’re Thor? Wow.”
All they can do is smile at each other.
He thinks back to what Crash told him, back when he met his soulmate. “Diz, I saw her…and it was a moment where I thought…Oh, there you are. Like something was always missing and I was finally whole. That sounds cheesy as fuck, dude, I know, but…when you meet them, you’ll feel like that, too.”
He does feel like that. “There you are,” he whispers, and Thor’s smile widens.
Dizzee doesn’t know how he lived this long without that smile in his life.
A little voice in his head says, you’ll never have to again.