[It was part of their society and something that people grew up hearing about their whole life. Soulmates weren't something of myth but rather they were a wonderful connection people felt when they were able to find the right person to connect with. A soulmate, by definition, was someone that one would share a marker with to draw them together for a lifetime of happiness.
Markers, though most people had them, were things that weren't commonly shared among your peers unless it was one of the more common ones that netted a chance of having more than one soulmate, or you were speaking with your soulmate themselves. For those with more common markers there presented the chance that they could connect multiple times. Less common markers were less likely to be able to connect to multiple people. And in some rare cases, two people would be born with two different markers, but they led right back to one another anyway. Those people...only had the one shot.
This is a story about two of those people.
Granted, John Egbert never realized that he was one of those people. As far as John knew, his marker made itself very clear around the time he was ten years old, the age that a lot of markers started to present themselves. His father had tried to give him a Fatherly Talk about the subject that he artfully dodged, and his Nanna tried to bake a cake for the occasion but that wasn't what John wanted either. What John wanted was to understand his marker and to meet the person on the other end.
John's unique marker was one that he found fascinating. Every morning from his tenth birthday forward he would wake up with a phrase or a word inked on his left forearm almost like a tattoo. The words never disappeared, but they changed every day. Somedays they were mundane things like "write new page of comic" or "feed birds in the park", but other days they were words that alarmed John in ways he couldn't quite fathom.
"Strife" popped up a lot, as did "fight for life", "starvation" and "test" over and over again. Other uncomfortable, unsettled words came up a lot and it slowly drove him insane. He didn't know what to make of this, but one thing was clear. His soulmate, whoever they were, weren't in a great position. Being young, he felt as though he should do something but there wasn't enough that could be done, not when he didn't know who it was. In his early years, only one person knew of his marker. Jade had been patient with him as he explained that he couldn't make the connection, though he didn't relay what, precisely, he was seeing. It was Jade who suggested that he be more proactive in his search.
So, at age 13, he began. The trials and errors of adolescence were made much harder, but John went along about as well as one would hope. He was often treated as the class clown and adored by his classmates, though he didn't have many strong connections that kept him away from home for long. It was all right though. He had friends online including Jade, and her friend, Rose.
It wasn't until one day when he was seventeen that he woke up and saw the most amazing words emblazoned on his forearm.
"Speak to soulmate."
Recently prior to that the words had melted into more benign, calming actions including "move" and "cat therapy." On that day, two things happened. First, he logged online to join a chat with his friends and met a boy named Dave Strider. And second, he stepped outside to go to the store for some candy and met a girl named Vriska Serket.
His relationships with the two of them were very different. Vriska was gorgeous and intimidating in all of the right ways, and John admired her bravery to show off the words written on her arm. The weirdest part of all was that she seemed to like him, too, and it didn't take long for them to become friends. Then again, John and Dave clicked right away as well and John found himself juggling online friendships and spending time with Vriska. But Vriska was his soulmate. That part John was for sure. He had never felt such an attraction, nor had he met anyone else whose partner's events appeared on a part of their body.
Senior year was a whirlwind of late-night chats with Dave, dates with Vriska, and plans made to stay together after high school and move in together in their dorm. John was leaving the state for school and Vriska didn't seem too torn up about it, though she was just like that. John couldn't help but be excited to be moving in with his best bro, though at the same time he was nervous. They'd never met in person, but he was confident it'd be fine.
But, of course, his fucking arm ruined that again.
...it was weird, of course. Vriska was his soulmate. He couldn't have lucked out at all, could he? Why would he wind up with more than one soulmate? It wasn't something he could put a lot of thought into at the time though. He focused more on getting settled on campus, unpacking, and meeting Dave for the first time.
Everything was about as he imagined and for the first few weeks, college was great. The only problem was the words on his arm continued to rotate, and much to his distress things weren't looking good for his current relationship. But how...does one broach that?
It's a few weeks later and John's laying on the floor of their room, a long-sleeved shirt on and his cell phone in hand as he holds it over his face to stare at the screen. While he could have written off that maybe it was just a fluke, he'd woken up that morning and the words were clear as day.
"Fall in love."
He refused to move. He couldn't move, laying flat and motionless and thoughtful. This is how Dave will find him on this day. Even when the door opens, John doesn't bother getting up or even turning his head. Instead, he stares at his phone blankly before speaking up.]
How was class? [This question seemed a lot easier than a really complex, personal question.]