Solus: The Pairing of Fate
“Hey, what’s wrong?”
I have rarely seen Ikuro being this ticked off. I was going to ask him jokingly about how it went with Madoka, but it didn’t seem like he would take it kindly right now.
“Those bitches, I swear I will destroy them if I had the chance…”
“Did something happen to Madoka?”
Apparently, Ikuro was heading off to bug Madoka again early this morning as usual. When he got into her class, most of the people were stealing glances at Madoka. Her right arm was bandaged from the elbow up and she was rather sullen, sitting at her desk.
He went towards her table asking what happened when he saw Madoka’s sisters walking past the class, giggling among themselves, and looking into the class.
“What?! Don’t they usually resort to verbal abuse at most? What changed?”
“You know how our families are right? With how rare it is to find their Solus partner, if one were to find one, they would be the most prized child. All the attention would be on them with the family sparing nothing to find the partner.”
“You don’t mean…”
“Madoka. She...might have found her Solus partner.”
It has been already 50 years since Solus became common knowledge. With how difficult it was to determine their Solus partners, hundreds of investors had poured their resources into funding for a way to search for Solus pairings.
20 years ago. A certain tool was developed. It helped to detect if they had recently experienced the shared pain sensation, between their Solus and if they were close by within their area of birth.
“From what I know, she was detected by the tool yesterday afternoon that her Solus pairing was nearby and it was noticed by her sisters before anything else.”
“So they gave her a hell of a time before their parents found out about the pairing.”
“You know how she is. She could have ratted out her siblings the moment her parents found out about the Solus and got proper payback.”
“But she didn’t.”
“She’s too softhearted for her own good! What’s the point in defending them?! Those aren’t sisters, they are devils.”
“...How are you feeling?”
“Pissed off at them.”
“I meant about the Solus.”
I meant to test his reaction about the Solus pairing and then perhaps inform him of what I knew about Mikase and him. Although I don’t think he would like hearing it right now. It would have been fine if the Solus pairing was only confirmed, but with it having determined that it's nearby within their country, it was almost guaranteed that she was going to be paired with the guy.
“I ain’t giving up…”
“That’s for sure.”
“It still is possible that they won’t be able to find her partner within these three years. The moment the threshold is over, I’m gunning for her.”
As I expected. Looking at things now, Ikuro’s possible Solus partner would be the last thing he would want to hear now. I decided to bury it in my mind, at least until we turn 18.
Having her Solus confirmed, Madoka would have more freedom for the current time as long as her partner was not found, it was an unspoken rule for them to have - essentially their last bit of freedom before being paired against their will.
A Cinderella kind of fantasy, fated partners, will never exist in this current world.
“Did Madoka say what she wanted to do?” Ikuro answered my question with a shake of his head.
“We should get her out of the house.”
“And where? She can’t possibly stay in a hotel for 3 years.”
As we one-sidedly thought about how to deal with the situation, Ikuro suddenly jumped up as if he thought of something.
“What about your place?”
“Well, my place is a no-go, my parents would never allow it. Didn’t you say your mom left for the US?”
“That doesn’t mean it’s ok to have a girl move in with me!”
“...I’m ok with it…”
“~What?~” We both turned our heads back towards the unknown voice.
“...If it means getting out of the house, I don’t mind staying at Izuya’s place. They can’t restrict me from it either.”
“M-M-Madoka! How long have you been here?!”
“...From when you declared you were not going to give up.” she answered straightly while staring into Ikuro’s eyes, her face void of anything emotion.
On the other hand, Ikuro’s embarrassment was on full display, with his red turning as red as a tomato. If Madoka was here back then, that means she heard us debating about what we should do about her situation, even I was starting to turn red at the thought of that.
“...but are you alright with it, Izuya?”
“Yeah. I mean, I did think of the idea, but it still depends on you.”
“Well...I’m pretty sure my parents would allow it...but are you ok with it Ikuro?”
“What do you mean?”
“Sigh, Madoka will be living at my house you know.”
“...” Ikuro seemed to have overlooked the fact that his crush would be staying at another guy’s house, even if the said guy was me.
“If it’s for her sake, I don’t mind.” He said while facing away from us.
“Although I would probably be going over most of the time then.”
“I’m already starting to regret it.”
As expected, a single phone call, and I was granted permission from my father himself for this little stay. My parents were rather free-willed and allowed for most stuff, though I don’t usually ask for anything.
There was some opposition from Madoka’s parents and relatives, but as per the rule in the family, her grandfather had given his permission. Madoka took only the bare necessities and moved into one of the multiple spare rooms I had in my house on the same day.
“Phew. Finally, some peace.”
As Madoka went home to get her belongings, Ikuro and I were busy cleaning up the room and arranging the furniture. Although it was a little scary how Ikuro knew Madoka’s preference for her room and such, it came in handy.
“Izuyaaa. So what’s going on between you and Mikase?”
“Mikase...you mean Mikase Suzuha?”
“Yeah. Izuya here, went on a date with her just yesterday.”
“It wasn’t a date.” I firmly retorted as I down the remainder of my drink.”
“...Do you know Suzuha well?” Madoka had questioned me about her while using her first name.
“Not really, I only knew her from the entrance ceremony. Although...She did ask if I remembered her at the cafe yesterday.”
“You knew her from before?”
“That’s the thing, I don’t even recall meeting her.”
“...Middle school, second year. The gala ball.” Madoka softly mentioned an event of our past.
The 8th grade. That year, there was a gala ball for the elites of the country whereby Ikuro also received an invitation. The invitation allowed a ‘plus one’ and he immediately dragged me along with him. Wearing a tuxedo, I felt super out of place in the stiff atmosphere, not knowing what to do.
“The girl you danced with, remember?!”
During the reception, I tried to stand in a secluded corner of the hall, not attracting attention to myself. As I was glancing around the room, I felt a presence behind me. Turning around I saw a small figure, hair down to her shoulders with glasses on. She was clad in a pure white dress with minimal accessories.
I was wondering why she had suddenly hid behind me when I saw that multiple boys around my age were looking around for someone. The gala music was on and the people began to pair up to dance, allowing me to deduce what she was doing.
As much as I wanted to continue assisting her. Standing in a corner while people were dancing would make us stick out like a sore thumb. Recalling Ikuro’s words - When the gala starts, just find someone that doesn’t have a partner and ask for a dance. Just don’t step on her feet though.
Ikuro found himself dancing with Madoka after following her around the hall. I steeled myself and turned around, facing the small figure behind me.
“If you could, would you like to dance?” I said as I tried my best to smile and not embarrass myself.
Hesitantly, the girl slowly accepted the hand I had put out and we started to dance. I wasn’t the best dancer, but I wasn’t the worst either. Although I never attended a ball like this, I had practiced for one with Ikuro and Madoka before. Doing both the male and female parts regretfully.
“I apologize if I make a mistake, I don’t usually attend these things you see?” I tried to reason with her as we danced along with the crowd.
I managed to spot the few boys that were running around earlier. They had caught sight of the two of us and were looking at us with displeased eyes. My eyes followed them as they left for other partners, and in that instance, I made the grave mistake of stepping on her shoe.
Now I have done it… I had thought that she would have fallen or gotten angry. Surprisingly enough, she continued along until the music stopped. As the dance ended, she quickly left the area and never looked back.
“So Ikuya. Who was that you were dancing with?”
“That...I don’t really know myself.”
The figure I had danced with had pure black hair only down to her shoulders. During the dance, I caught sight of her blue eye that was hidden behind her glasses.
“How could you not remember that you danced with her?!”
“How the heck would I know that was her?! She didn’t even look like she did today.”
“Three years...She grew.”
“Yeah. Anyone would have grown in a span of three years. You should have recognized her from her hair and eyes.”
“Well, pardon me for not recognizing someone I only shared a dance with for a brief while and never got a name.”
Usually, I would have brushed the whole situation off as Ikuro was talking about it. However, I knew he was dragging this topic on to avoid speaking about Madoka’s situation, hoping to make her feel more comfortable, so I played along.
Before long, Ikuro headed off before leaving me a text: Don’t do anything funny. Www. He knew that I wouldn’t even have the guts to do anything and was poking at me. After Ikuro left, it felt rather awkward to be sitting in the same living room as Madoka alone at night.
Ever since we started middle school and Madoka distanced herself from us, we had rarely talked to each other. The most we had interacted with would have been when Ikuro went to find her after school with me in tow.
“What is it?”
“...Thank you for not asking questions and letting me stay.”
“Ah...well, friends have to stick by each other, no matter what. Right?”
“Ikuro didn’t tell you everything, did he?”
As we were in the living room, Madoka opened up more and told me about her situation at home. Her sibling’s jealousy started when she was in the 5th grade. At first, it began with just verbal abuse, then it gradually moved on to isolating her and such. As middle school started, and she started to look more like their mother, her sisters began doing petty things such as ruining her clothes, breaking her belongings, and more.
Her parents and relatives had pretended as if they didn’t see anything. It was only when the Solus was confirmed did they even bother to pay attention to her.
“Why didn’t you tell us back then?”
“If I had told you both...Ikuro may have done something stupid.”
Like I had thought, Ikuro’s one-sided crush wasn’t actually so one-sided after all. Being around them all the time, I could tell that Madoka was also interested in Ikuro. I had always felt somewhat like a third wheel between them, not that I had pointed it out.
“My Solus, it was detected as my sisters were pulling my hair, threatening to cut it. I don’t even know if I should be glad that it happened at the time, saving me from them or saddened by the thought of my freedom being taken away.”
She continued on with the story of how her Grandfather was delighted at the news of the discovery of her Solus pairing and how her sisters treated her. As for the details, it was more or less similar to what Ikuro had told me.
“Don’t tell Ikuro about everything...He would do something rash.”
“Don’t worry, I probably know him better than you.”
It was as Madoka said, if Ikuro knew the whole story, he would probably act out against her siblings, possibly even bringing his family’s influence in it. It would have resulted in more trouble than needed and could even ruin their chances of ever getting together in the future.
Seeing that it was getting rather late, I sent her to her room and went to sleep.
“Madoka-sama. I am here to pick you up for school.”
As we opened the doors and were ready to head towards school, a luxury car was parked right outside, waiting for us. The Nanaho's servant was waiting for Madoka, taking her bags and opening the doors for her.
“Get on Izuya, I will give you a lift.” Madoka had urged me to get in the car as she placed her hand out.
“With all due respect, miss. We will only be driving you to the school.”
“What’s the problem with another passenger?”
“It is the will of Kenji-sama.”
“It’s fine Madoka. I’m used to taking the train, it would feel weirder to take a car all of a sudden. Thanks for the offer though.”
Without waiting for her response, I slipped past the car and headed towards the station without looking back, afraid that she would insist on it if I had stayed longer.
Walking into class, Ikuro immediately came to my seat.
“You didn’t come with Madoka to school?”
“I was chased off by a guard dog.”
Simply saying that allowed Ikuro to understand what transpired earlier this morning. Although I did do it for the sake of not escalating the situation. She is probably going to be rather angry later on.
“I will take the scolding with you later.”
“Sure, you just want an excuse to visit her again.”
“Was I too obvious?”
Looking to the side, I noticed Mikase was glancing over, presumably due to the noise we were making. The groupies around her were looking with eyes full of disdain towards me. They probably wanted to berate me but they couldn’t afford to anger the heir to the Amagami Group.
Recalling what we talked about yesterday, I decided I needed to talk to Mikase again. I reached into my bag and took out another spare key. One I had given to Madoka and the other one was lying here in my bag.
“Ikuro, take this and head home with Madoka after school. I have something on later this afternoon, and work at night.”
I made sure to speak softly, ensuring no one would know that I just passed a key to my house and mentioned that Madoka would be there. It was only then that I saw, around the corner of my eyes, that Mikase’s face darkened a little.
Did she hear what I said?
I wanted to ask her out this afternoon, to talk more about meeting her three years ago and why she asked. But it seems that it may be difficult with the group of girls surrounding her. I took out my phone and texted Madoka.
‘Do you have Mikase Suzuha’s number?’
‘One cup of Haagen’
In response to that, I received an attachment contact. Adding the number to my phone, I casually texted her, introducing myself and if she wanted to meet after school again at the cafe.
As I placed my phone down, a message instantly came back. It was from Mikase - Fast! How did she even text back so fast while talking to the other girls? Regardless, I had made plans with her and placed my phone back in my bag.
Looking up, I faced a grinning Ikuro.
“Who were you texting?” His face made it seem as if he knew but was still asking.
“No one specifically, just one of my relatives.”
“Oh really. I didn’t know one of your relatives started with this name.” Ikuro pulled his phone to my face. On the screen was an image of my chat with Madoka, and her attaching Mikase’s contact.
“So that’s your plans this afternoon, huh? Well, not that I should care.”
“You should work on yours and Madoka’s before anything else.”
I purposely arranged a later time after school to meet Mikase as I wanted to head home and change before going out, seeing that I have work, at the office later on in the evening, I needed to get a change of clothes.
As I changed out of my uniform after a quick shower, I packed the items needed for work later and set off. The house was currently empty as Madoka was out for dinner with Ikuro, having been informed via text earlier on. I could almost see Madoka trying to have dinner alone at home but Ikuro was trailing behind her with a key of his own.
I’m probably going to be lectured when I head home later.
Entering the cafe, I noticed that Mikase was already seated down. Rushing over, I apologized for being late as I sat down.
“So, what did you call me here for?”
“The thing is, yesterday as I was talking with Ikuro…”
Bracing myself, I placed my hands on my lap and lowered my head to the table.
Mikase seemed rather surprised by my sudden action as she stood up and urged me to lift my head up, attracting the other visitors' attention.