Solus: The Pairing of Fate
Today was the day. It has been almost three months since I last spoke to Mr.Helix in person before he flew back to Europe. I had only provided my experiences and information to him through phone calls for his research and he finally made time to come by here yet again to meet.
This time around, he would be bringing his few colleagues with him for a more personal interview with me. Apparently, they would also be bringing their own Solus initiator with them. An initiator was a tool that was designed to specifically heighten the Solus bond, allowing for one to identify their partner easier if nearby.
I was rather nervous when I first heard about it, I mean who wouldn’t be if they were about to find out who their fated partner that was decided by the gods would be. I wasn’t even able to sleep much last night considering I let my imagination run wild, thinking about what would happen if my Solus were to be with some famous celebrity or something.
I guess I was lucky that our usual weekend training session was canceled this week as Ikuro had something on. It did seem kind of suspicious seeing how he was avoiding any talk about the topic when he would usually blabber about everything to me despite my indifference.
I headed to the office building address that I was given. The building itself was a fair distance away being located in the middle of Shibuya, so I had to take a train there. Did they rent the place or bought it? Considering it was in Shibuya, it mustn’t have been cheap. Were they planning on staying here for a prolonged period? I walked into the building and up the lift, pressing on the doorbell of the office doors after arriving.
“Welcome! Our precious guinea - Collaborator!” Mr.Helix exclaimed as he spread his arms out wide in an attempt to hug me.
Did he just almost call me their Guinea Pig? Glancing around the room, the office seems to be rather new with some of the furniture left packed and mountains of documents piled on each other around the office. Around the coffee table behind him, there were four others seated down.
“Nice to meet you. The name’s Julie.” The lady in glasses who had her hair tied up in a bun spoke in English. She slowly approached me, staring straight into my eyes before pulling out a gun? Wait, no that is a Solusia. She grabbed my hands forcefully, starting the scan.
“W-what are you doing?”
After a short while, the device sounded out before emitting green light, and seconds after, a second beep accompanied by a yellow light. When the scan results appeared, I was met with looks of awe and gasps as the other three in the room got up from their seats and looked.
“My apologies, Izuya-kun. My colleagues were far too curious and didn’t really take my word into account unless they were able to see the results for themselves.”
I jerked my hand away from her hold, giving her a slightly annoyed look. She responded with a smile on her face as she kept the Solusia.
“They could have just asked. It wasn’t as if I was going to run away.”
“Aha, they were too eager for this day, I shall apologize in their stead. Let me introduce you to them. The black-haired one is Julia. The blonde lady you see over there is Roxanna. The bulky man here is John, my good friend, and partner in research.”
“Nice to meet you kid.” John spoke in perfect Japanese despite his very foreign-looking face. I was rather taken back when I heard him.
“Woah. He speaks fluently…”
“Of course, he used to study here in fact. And lastly, the stalk-looking guy here is Lewis.”
“I understood that, Helix. At least call me tall.” The person named Lewis replied with a scowl on his face. It seems that he managed to understand Helix’s remark about his thin-looking body despite saying it in a different language.
“So, Mr.Helix. What do I have to do here exactly?”
“Well, for starters, I would like to run some tests on you. We did bring all of our equipment after all.”
As Helix disappeared further into the office, the others guided me to a seat where they were all opposite of me. This wasn’t a normal situation no matter how I look at it. Where in the world would you find a high-schooler who looked to be involved in some shady experiment like this.
“I will translate for them, Hikaru-kun.”
“Oh. Alright, Mr.John.”
While Helix was gone, the other four began to ask me their own personal questions in the form of an interview. Simple questions such as my birthday, name to more invasive questions such as my recent actions or who I have dated in the past, not that I had dated anyone...sadly.
I felt rather awkward in answering the majority of their questions, but we did technically have a contract regarding my compliance in exchange for their assistance in researching how to break a Solus.
“Julie asks about how you feel, having two Solus, and what are your plans if you do find them both?”
“Well. It still feels surreal knowing the fact that I have two Solus pairings. I don’t belong to a strict family so I am not really concerned about it but I am curious who they are.”
Families that have heavy beliefs in Solus generally belonged to the elites. My father did meet my mother as a Solus pairing, but it was pure chance and fell in love. I wasn’t really restricted to a Solus pairing or whatsoever but anyone would be curious about who they were if they had one.
“As for plans...I don’t think I will take any action. Nothing would really change if I do find them, I would let nature run its course.”
“Alright, that’s enough questions.” Helix appeared after a while, lugging a rather peculiar device behind him.”
“Mr.Helix, is that the Solus indicator you told me about?”
“Oh, this? This is a new and improved Solusia. It’s the newest one that isn’t even known to the public yet! It could determine the general location of one’s Solus. By that, I meant the country the person resides in, and if they were in the same state, it would turn blue.”
Helix began his explanation on the device as he started patting on it. Roxanna and Lewis began to set up the machine while that happened and booted it up.
“Again? It’s already been tested twice.”
“Bear with it young man, this test is necessary in order to use the Solus Indicator.”
The process of the new Solusia was much more complex compared to its predecessor. It took much longer than usual for starters, but I guess that was expected considering the result they would give.
The machine showed the same result as earlier on, with two beeps and orange and green lights. This time around, however, after both scans were done, the machine showed a blue light indicator.
If I recall, didn’t Helix mention that a blue light meant that my Solus was in the same state? Wait, wouldn’t that mean it was a high possibility that I might have already met my Solus partner?! But who?
In a state of shock, I had completely forgotten. Even if it was in the same state, the area was huge and I might still not have met her yet. I got ahead of myself at the possibility of already having a chance to meet with my partner.
“Izuya...What does he mean? You have a Solus too?” A familiar voice rang out behind me.
I looked behind me, following the voice I heard. By the door, Ikuro was standing there, his face was in shock as he continued walking towards me. Following behind him I saw Madoka trotting along, both of them dressed in rather fashionable wear as if they went out on a date.
“Ikuro? W-What are you doing all the way here?” I fumbled as I tried to find the words to say.
“That should be our question instead, didn’t you say that you would be at work today?” Madoka chimed in as she stepped past Ikuro.”
“This is...work as well.”
“Izuya, are these your friends?” Helix questioned.
I was too occupied with thinking about what to say to both of them that I didn’t realize that everyone else was still sitting behind me...with the Solusia booted up.
“Who are these people, Izuya. They don’t seem like your average person.”
“Ikuro. These are...researchers.”
“Researchers?” Madoka’s eyes seemed to frown as she pressed on the question.
“Oh! Are these the friends whose Solus you were working to break?” Julie snapped his fingers as he hit the nail on the head.
“Break the Solus? You mean you were finding ways by yourself on how to break Madoka’s Solus.”
Ikuro seemed to understand what Julie said about our research in breaking Solus. His face seems to relax a little after the statement before shaking his head.
“What? That’s what it was? You could have told us, dude. I could have helped or gotten my family to help even.”
“That…” There was no way I could simply ask Ikuro or Madoka to help. With their help, - Or should I say, funding - the research would no doubt be sped up and we could have seen the results. But if I do tell them, that would mean Ikuro would find out he has a Solus as well. And if the Amagami household does get involved in this project, they would eventually figure out Ikuro’s Solus, making the whole thing meaningless.
“I see, that’s the two different pairings huh? The girl’s pairing and the guys’, with the actual sample we would definitely be able to speed things up.” Alex had exclaimed.
“Wait, two pairings? Izuya, are you planning on breaking your pairing as well? What’s going on?” Ikuro grabbed my shoulder as he shook me.
“Of course not, Izuya here is simply allowing us to conduct our research on his Solus,”
“Wait, Mr. Helix, Stop!”
“In exchange for breaking your Solus and the Solus of the girl over there.”
Oh no. He let the cat out of the bag. I looked to Ikuro and Madoka in a panic, wanting to offer some sort of excuse but it was of no use. Ikuro’s face twisted into one of disbelief and Madoka gasped with her hands over her mouth.
“Ikuro! I can explain…”
“I...have a Solus? Izuya...is that true?”
Although I could never be absolutely sure about it, judging on the recent occurrences, with Suzuha’s family determining that she had a Solus nearby, it was almost definite.
“I’M ASKING YOU IF IT IS TRUE!” Ikuro stared me straight into the eye. His eyes were flustered and his face was in frustration.
“...I can’t be sure without a test...but yes.”
Ikuro stepped backward after my sentence as if he had just heard the worst news of his life. He looked as if he was going to collapse before bumping into Madoka.
“Ikuro…” Madoka tried to find words to console him but wasn’t successful.
“Oh no...Should I have not said anything?” Helix seemed to be genuinely concerned about the current situation, with the rest of Julie and the others having looks of awkwardness, not knowing how to interject in the current situation.
“Well, now that we have settled down, let’s introduce ourselves, shall we?” Helix spoke as Roxanna placed three cups of tea in front of Madoka, Ikuro, and me.
“Here you go.” Roxanna beamed us a smile as she clasped the metal tray in her arms.
“Thank you.” I responded. I looked at Ikuro and Madoka, who both had a sullen look on their faces.
The initial fuss settled down thanks to Helix soothing things over. We were then guided to the table where Madoka and Ikuro took a seat as well. I was still inner monologuing over how I was going to explain everything to them. Do I have to tell Ikuro who his Solus is? What if I was wrong, what if it was all just my assumption and I made a big fuss for nothing. The thought of that scared me and prompted me to keep my mouth shut.
“My name is Richard Helix, a researcher of Solus from Europe. These are my colleagues John, Lewis, Roxanna, and Julie.”
“...Nice to meet you.” Madoka quietly replied while Ikuro was still motionless.
“Still, to think the requested pairings from Izuya were children from the Amamagmis’ and Nanahos’. Now it all makes sense.”
“You know about them, Mr. Helix?” I asked, surprised that he knew of their families despite being from Europe.
“Why of course! They are famous even in Europe.”
Despite Mr.Helix trying to make small talk, the both of them were still rather down in spirits, not speaking a single word.
“Helix, I feel kind of bad that I mentioned it, should we run the scan for them as well?” John had casually said, his hand on his bald head, stroking it as if he had hair.
“~Eh?~” The three of us all shot up, looking towards Helix for his response.
Helix, seeing our reaction, closed his eyes and gave off a slight smile.
“I don’t see why not.”
John and the rest started setting up the machine again while Helix guided Madoka over to the machine.
“Shall we start with Ms.Nanaho?” Helix asked.
Madoka placed her hand on the Solusia. Her result was already determined from the start considering that her family had already done a scan on her. Helix had explained that their Solusia, which was fairly larger than the current one in the market, could produce more accurate results and even determine the state.
Madoka seemed to be nervous as her hands laid on the scanner. Looking closely, I could see that she was slightly trembling, sweat trickling down her face. When I did it, it wasn’t much of a deal for me, but for Madoka, this would be a life-changing result.
Beep. The Solusia sounded as expected with a green light. Madoka removed her hand in a hurry, seemingly relieved that it was all over when the Solusia emitted a blue light. Blue, that meant that her Solus partner was rather close by too.
“W-What does that light mean, Izuya?” Madoka sought me out for answers, a look of worry on her face.
“From what I know, that means your Solus partner is rather nearby. In the same city, in fact.”
I glanced back to see how Ikuro was handling the result but as expected, he clenched his fist so hard that it seemed as if it would start bleeding anytime. The three of us were rather shocked as well.
We knew that Madoka had a Solus partner somewhere in the world, but both Ikuro and Madoka had hoped that she would never meet him, allowing them to be free of their family’s reigns. But that blue light has diminished the hope they held onto ever so slightly.
If the partner was nearby, chances are they may or may not have met already. Either way, it would also make it easier for the Nanaho family to find the said partner, should they catch wind of it.
“Next we shall have Mr. Amagami, alright?”
With a gulp that could be heard by everyone in the room, Ikuro stepped forward. He was also shaking slightly, afraid of the result that would come. This was the moment where I would be able to confirm my assumptions. If the machine would to turn green, that would mean that I was right that Ikuro had already determined a Solus.
And if the light would turn blue...it was almost guaranteed that Suzuha was his partner…
The Solusia started up yet again. During Ikuro’s scan, the time it took was longer than both mine and Madokas’.
“Madoka, are you alright?” I asked as I handed her a napkin for her to wipe her hands and face.
“Eh. I’m fine.” She was replying to me now, but her attention was solely focused on the scan that was currently ongoing.
Beep. A green light had appeared. The faces around the room brightened up, having looks of admiration at the working machine and the fascination of there being three Solus pairings in the room. However, not everyone was happy about it. Ikuro and Madoka both looked at the light intensely, hoping that it was a mistake, alas, it was not. This proved my formal suspicions that Ikuro did have a Solus, now the problem was the second indicator afterward.
20 seconds had passed with no light indicator showing up. I let out a sigh of relief, thinking that I was wrong about his partner being Suzuha, before…A dim blue light began to shine.
“What?” Ikuro had seemed shocked about the fact that he has a Solus and that it was nearby in the same state even.
I had thought that I was wrong. I wanted it to be wrong. At this point, Ikuro was guaranteed to be the Solus partner that Suzuha’s family was looking for. I felt a slight discomfort in my heart, knowing that the pairing was confirmed.
Suzuha had confessed to me three months ago, and we had even gone on a date together secretly. Although Suzuha still didn’t know about this result, I still felt guilty about not saying anything about it...No, this feeling wasn’t one of guilt.
Am I...in love with Suzuha?
This could be the only explanation for my current feelings. Before I realized it, my hand was clenched in a fist as I gritted my teeth.
“Amazing! It’s so rare to see three pairs of Solus in the flesh.” Julie had exclaimed with the other researchers chiming in.
Wait. If the pairing was determined, why did Ikuro’s scan take much longer than Madoka and mine?
“Mr.Helix, is there a reason for the difference in the time it took to scan?”
“Right, I didn’t explain that part to you. This Solusia doesn’t just check on your Solus and if it is nearby. The longer it took to scan, the further away your partner is. And for the blue light, the brighter it was, the closer the partner. This new function would help us narrow down to the city and even find the Solus partners of people more efficiently. The only flaw currently is that it is too bulky to be portable.”
So the reason that Ikuro’s scan took longer than both Madoka and mine was that his partner was further away? It was just around a 20 seconds difference from the similar time it took for our scan.
If I recall, Suzuha mentioned that she would be going out with her friends for a movie in the cinema nearby the school so that would mean that was the distance that they could narrow it down to.
...Hold on. If 20 seconds was able to narrow down that distance then that would mean that both mine and Madokas’ result which was near-instantaneous was practically saying that our Solus partners were right around us somewhere.
I looked towards Ikuro and Helix, it seems that they had also worked out what I thought as well. The only difference was that one had a look of fascination while the other had one of despair.
No. It was rather obvious seeing the situation, but I didn’t want to admit it. I didn’t even want to think about it. The thought that...Madoka would be my Solus partner.
In the current times, there was no absolute way to determine a Solus pairing, even if the two were right in front of each other. This was solved by the new Solusia that we had just sat through. In the past, people would use pain as a test of sorts to determine it, seeing how Solus pairings would share the sensation of pain as well.
For the pain sensation test to work, it would require the pairings to have been determined for at least 1 year. Determined in this sense would be the start of vague pain sensations. One such case would be Ikuro and Suzuha, where they both felt and experienced the injury that Suzuha got back during the first week of school.
Only when a year has passed, can one fully determine if the pairing was indeed true. This was why families with beliefs in Solus would start looking for the partner at the age of 15, so as to allow time to pass during the search and they could determine it rather quickly once found.
Even without the pain sensation test. If what Helix had said about the function of the new Solusia was true, then the only possibility was that Madoka was my partner, seeing how we were right next to each other, with similar results and there weren’t any other people similar in age around us in the office.
“I-Izuya…”Madoka tugged at my sleeves, her eyes looking into mine, hoping that I could find any sort of reason - no, she was looking for an excuse - to deny our pairing.
I wasn’t able to get any words out either as I had never expected this situation. I looked towards Ikuro, slightly afraid of his reaction. Ikuro had unknowingly come here to find me, only to find out he has a Solus partner and the pairing between Madoka and me. I didn’t even want to think about how he was feeling right now.
“Izuya. Did you know about your pairing with Madoka..?” Ikuro had mentioned the one thing everyone had avoided.
“No way! I didn’t even know my Solus was this nearby!”
“...Then what about mine?” I flinched at the sudden question Ikuro had asked.
“Judging by your reaction...You know, don’t you?”
“Who is it?”
“Is it someone we know?”
I couldn’t. I can’t just say that Suzuha was Ikuro’s partner. It was already bad enough that Madoka’s partner had been found. If Ikuro were to know that his Solus was our classmate, it would absolutely crush his hopes of ever hiding the fact about his partner...if there was hope at all.
“Say...something…” Ikuro was grabbing me by the collar, although weakly. He was hitting me lightly on the chest, with his fist full of despair as a tear dripped down his face.
“Ok! How about we get rid of this gloomy atmosphere and settle down again kids. This mood is really taxing on us adults as well.” Helix had said as he walked over and place his arm across Ikuro and my shoulder.
“Besides, it isn’t guaranteed that the result for Izuya is accurate, seeing how he is probably the first in history to have two Solus partners.’
That was right, for all I know, Madoka’s partner might not be me. My situation is without precedent, so even the Helix wouldn’t know what to make of it. Perhaps due to me having two Solus partners, the blue light could be indicating that of the second partner but the machine couldn’t catch it, causing an error.
“Just in case you forgot, this is a high-rise building office. Perhaps your partners are simply on a different floor of the building. If that was the case, the blue light would still shine as bright as it did.”
There was still hope. Until we are able to use the pain sensation test one year from now, we can’t simply state that I am Madoka’s Solus partner. It could just be a freak coincidence that both our different partners were in this building somewhere.
“Now, how about we sit down again and talk?”
Helix pats us on the head as he gave off a comforting smile.