Blood called to blood, but Setsuna F. Seiei and Marina Ismail were not related. Not in this world. Heart called to heart, but Setsuna and Marina were not lovers. Not in this world. But soul still called to soul. Even in this world, they would meet.
In another world, Setsuna and Marina were twins. Marina was older-by a few hours, because the task of bringing them both into this world was a difficult one that left their mother pale and worn for a long time to come. They were too much for their unprepared parents, so they raised each other. When Setsuna needed a mother to hold him, it was Marina who took on the role. She looked older from a young age; little things weighed heavily on her. They did not weigh on Setsuna. He simply took them in and did what had to be done.
They both received fine educations, but they went to different universities. They wrote letters to each other all the time. Distance could not separate them. When Setsuna did not know why he had to move forward with his studies, he looked to Marina and saw that although she struggled more than he did, she never stopped trying. When Marina felt exhausted by all her work, she saw Setsuna simply moving ahead, and her love for him gave her strength.
Setsuna studied robotics. Marina studied philosophy.
In time, Marina became a philosopher of bioethics. She wanted to help people who needed it, but the sight of actual blood was too much for her, and science was difficult for her to grasp. Setsuna wanted to make the world better, but he didn't really understand how to interact with people. So he invented a robot that made surgery much safer, easier, and cheaper. His design came into use in hospitals all over the world, especially the developing world, where its low cost was a godsend.
Whenever someone asked him how he'd come up with the idea for his invention, Setsuna responded that he'd read between the lines in Marina's letters. He did not say another truth, which was that he still went to her arms when he needed to be held.
In another world, Setsuna and Marina were lovers. They met fleeing from a repressive regime that had killed both their families, and they clung together like petals cling to the center of a flower. Neither was content to flee. Marina was afraid, but Setsuna made her feel brave again. Setsuna did not know what to do, but being with Marina reminded him that he had to do something.
Setsuna tinkered with mechanical things, his fingers fumbling but forthright, and eventually he made them a pirate radio station. Marina used it to guide refugees to new homes. She spread a message of hope because of the work of Setsuna's hands. Because of this, they were always on the run. They knew that someday they would be found and killed. There was no question of this happening to only one of them. They would go down together.
At night, they held each other. Setsuna loved to be held, and Marina loved to hold him. They stole time from their activism to make love, every time silently asking forgiveness from their gods for their selfishness. They wanted more time with each other and each other alone. They would never have gotten anywhere if they hadn't been together, and they needed that time together to remember that.
In the morning, they prayed. Setsuna confessed once that he did not know what he was praying to. He was not sure he believed in any gods. But he believed in Marina, and that was enough for both of them. In danger always, but helping to make a better world, they found happiness.
In this world, something went wrong. Setsuna was born with the wrong name, in a place that would transform him into someone broken. Marina was born in the halls of power, where she would never hold enough true power of her own. They grew up in the same land, but never met, separated by class and, even more irrevocably, by violence.
But no mistake in the fabric of the world could keep them apart forever. They met in this world too, in a country foreign to both of them. They knew, from the moment their eyes first met, that a common thread connected them.
They kept meeting, even when circumstances should have separated them forever. They kept living, even when their enemies and the entire world should have gunned them down. Above all, they dreamed of each other.
Setsuna dreamed of a woman who would hold him, when it had been forever since he had last been able to be held. If anyone else tried now, he would shake them off. But he wanted Marina's arms around him.
Marina dreamed of Setsuna's head on her lap, a smile on his face. She had always wanted people to be happy, but she had never wanted one specific person to be happy in the way she wanted Setsuna to be happy.
Marina hoped. Setsuna acted. It was because she hoped and he acted that they were able to do either one.
In other worlds, Setsuna had not fought. In this world, he fought to make it a place where Marina could rise from the ground like a flower.
In all worlds, Marina had wished. In this one, she struggled to turn wishes into action. But sometimes, when it was hardest of all, it was enough to know that Setsuna was out there, and that maybe someday he could do something other than fight.
Something was wrong with this world. It had been fragile, and now it was broken. Because something was wrong with this world, Setsuna and Marina were not together. But they still knew each other, and in their souls they still stood back to back, hoping and acting, wishing and fighting. Because they had met despite all the odds against them, there was hope for this world yet.