Author's note: If this chapter looks familiar, it is based on a 300 word fic I wrote for the tumblr drabble challenge on the topic of soulmates. The rest of the story is an expansion on that idea.
It had been this way since time immemorial. The first words your soulmate would say to you when they met you for the first time appeared shortly after birth. Jean's Script, like most women's, was in an elegant black cursive on the inside of her right wrist. On men it was usually the left. Many said that this must be a joke from the gods, much to the consternation of the church. The vast majority of soulmate quotes were variations on "Hello." As a result, no one really knew how many people found their true loves and many never bothered to look. The church made a fuss from time to time about how the devoted wait, but most people just went about their lives and marriages and the church knew better than to try to impede it.
Jean's was slightly different than the norm. "Do you mind?" was tattooed in neat, tight letters on her wrist. Her family often teased her that given her curious nature she would hear that often in life. It had led to confusion several times as a little girl as she trailed off after strangers in the street, convinced she was meeting her one true love only to be pushed back in the direction of her mother. One terrifying day in Year 3 those were the first words spoken to her by an ancient school marm who scowled as Jean rifled through her desk. After that Jean learned to be less eager.
By the time she met Cristopher, Jean had stopped running after every man and woman who uttered that phrase. As dedicated as she was to the church it was simply not practical. After she fell pregnant the question had become academic. Christopher would be her husband and they would make a life together. She worried more than once during their marriage if he really was her soulmate but there was no telling for sure. They had known each other since they were children and she could not recall what his first words were to her. Christopher's tattoo simply said "No," so it was entirely possible. Jean never broached the topic with him directly for fear of revealing her occasional doubts.
Many years had passed since Christopher's death and Jean no longer gave a second thought to the words. The Script was just another part of her body, like a freckle or an eyelash. She had been living for years with Dr. Thomas Blake, managing his home and medical practice. It was not the life she had dreamed of but it kept a roof over her head and a chance to put away a little money for the future. As his health had started to fail she had progressed from housekeeper to nurse and Jean worried for the future. While she knew in her heart he would never recover she insisted on maintaining the house and office to a professional standard, just in case he might have need of them. Despite keeping the office tidy a silence had invaded the space, as if the walls and furniture were aware of their disuse. It was on one of these futile days that Jean was in his surgery sorting through some medical supplies, when she was startled by an unfamiliar voice.
"Do you mind? I may need those."
She did not hear the door open. In fact she had swore it was locked. The man standing before her had a close cropped beard, piecing blue eyes, and an imperious demeanor. Jean was stunned by the arrogance of the stranger who let himself into the house without permission and thought he could boss her around.
"Who are you?" Jean did not ask so much as shout.
Before he could answer Jean proceeded to give the stranger a piece of her mind. The man backed down and was quick to offer his apologies. Apparently neither one had been informed of the other and each had made assumptions. Jean had sent a telegram weeks ago to Dr. Blake's estranged son. Knowing a little of their troubled history she did not expect a reply, let alone to see the man standing in front of her in the flesh. Once the initial confusion was sorted out Jean insisted on serving him tea and cake while she made up his room. He was hesitant to accept but Jean would take no argument. She all but ordered him to follow her into the kitchen.
Lucien Blake left the encounter a little shaken. Standing with his back to the wall outside the kitchen he unbuttoned his left shirt sleeve and glanced at the bold blue text, "Who are you?" that was emblazoned there. Lucien wondered about it and then quickly put the idea out of his mind. His father was dying, this wasn't the time to find out. Lucien buttoned his sleeve and joined Jean in the kitchen.