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And I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more

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The first soulwords Asahi ever sees appear when he is 6, giant blocky letters that simply say Hi Im nishinoya Yuu! on his left arm. The next few messages are also quite innocuous, basic soulmate formalities obviously guided by a teacher’s instructions.

Asahi scribbles back a quick Hi onto his hand, but is prevented from further communication with his soulmate due to the fact that he is currently under the watchful eye of his own teacher.

Once Asahi finally gets home, he properly introduces himself to Yuu (my naem is azumane asahI), prompting a cavalcade of sloppy smiley faces and greetings that are more enthusiastic than they are grammatically correct (not that Asahi knows nor cares that this is the case). They become fast friends.

Over the next few years, Asahi and Yuu chat back and forth through their soulwords, trading childish thoughts and observations such as I’m hungry or Do you think clouds taste like cotton candy? Asahi finds it a bit odd that Yuu keeps re-introducing himself every so often, but shrugs it off as a quirk of his.

When Asahi is 10, it starts to dawn on him that maybe something isn’t quite right when Yuu mentions how excited he is to finally hatch his dragon egg.

At first, Asahi thinks that Yuu is playing some sort of prank on him, but as Yuu continues to insist that Rei (the name he wants to give to his…dragon) is real and pesters Asahi for the name of his own dragon, Asahi’s irritation turns to worry about his soulmate’s grip on reality.

Eventually, head swirling with confusion and concern, he takes the coward’s way out, changing into a long-sleeved shirt and steadfastly ignoring the question marks that keep appearing all over his hands.

The next day, Yuu introduces himself cheerfully once again, peppering Asahi’s arms and legs with doodles of volleyballs and smiley faces. He tells Asahi he wants to become a setter for a professional volleyball team when he grows up. He doesn’t mention dragons at all, and Asahi doesn’t ask him about it.

Things go back to normal for a while, but eventually Asahi starts noticing that some things just aren’t adding up, no matter how Asahi tries to justify them as Yuu being Yuu. One day Yuu will mention how his little sister had kept him and his parents up all night with her crying, then later on in the week he’ll deny that he even has a sister when Asahi asks about her. Sometimes his parents will be together, sometimes he’ll offhandedly mention his stepfather or stepmother, and occasionally he’ll tell Asahi that he’s living with his friend Ryu’s family. He apparently plays soccer, tennis, baseball, basketball, and the clarinet, although he usually comes back to volleyball in the end.

Once, when Asahi asks Yuu how volleyball is going, his skin remains bare for several anxious days before a reply finally comes.

you know i can’t play anymore.

The next day, Yuu is regaling Asahi with tales of how he spiked the ball so hard, it bounced back up and got stuck in the ceiling of the gym.

By the time Yuu brings up the idea of meeting in person when Asahi is 14 and lists his address as ‘Quarter 17, Atlantis,’ Asahi is barely batting an eye anymore. Well, almost.

…Okay, so maybe he’d freaked out a little bit upon realizing that his soulmate was claiming to live in an almost certainly nonexistent underwater city, but. Well. He was allowed to be a little weirded out by all this, wasn’t he? No one else he knew had a soulmate whose life seemingly changed dramatically every few days.

He makes his excuses to Yuu, telling him that his parents are too protective of him to let him go visit someone they’ve never met, even if he is Asahi’s soulmate. Yuu tells him he understands and drops the subject. When he asks to meet again, 2 months later, he’s apparently living in Osaka, although Asahi can’t find the street he’s been given in any map he checks.

Asahi starts high school with no answers and many more questions about his soulmate, although he can never work up the nerve to ask any of them.

At Yuu’s urging, he joins Karasuno’s struggling volleyball team. Sugawara and Sawamura are good teammates, even when their upperclassmen…aren’t, really. Eventually, they become Suga and Daichi, and Asahi considers them his best friends. Even so, he never tells them about Yuu, not even when Daichi shows him the extremely detailed diagram of the male reproductive system his soulmate has drawn across his chest (“he had a biology test today, apparently”) and Suga complains that his soulmate keeps calling him Mr. Refreshing for some reason. Despite occasionally given the scrawlings all over his body (no matter what else changes, Yuu is always a prolific conversationalist) glances of obvious interest, neither of them bother him about it. He appreciates that.

He and Yuu keep conversing with one another. Asahi keeps putting up with Yuu’s wildly fluctuating life circumstances. At this point, Asahi realizes, Yuu could admit he that was a mutant squid in the Witness Protection Program this whole time and he would take it in stride. It doesn’t matter who he is. Yuu is Asahi’s soulmate. That’s enough for him.

This epiphany is mildly terrifying, but also strangely liberating.

Asahi stops worrying about his soulmate and starts worrying about his exams.

I’m thinking of going to Aoba Johsai next year, Yuu tells him one day, as he’s squinting at his math booklet in confusion and wishing he’d taken Suga up on his offer to tutor him. A high school located in the Miyagi prefecture. Despite himself, Asahi’s heart skips a beat.

A few weeks later Yuu informs him via leg-scribble that his family is moving to Los Angeles.

The end of first year and the summer go by in a flash. After the first day of second-year classes, Asahi heads toward the gym for volleyball practice. Apparently, quite a few first-years want to join the team, including a libero who’s been turning heads since middle school. Asahi is quite curious to meet them all.

In his peripheral vision, he notices words starting to appear on his left arm.

First high school volleyball practice today!!! :) :) :)

Asahi smiles and pulls out a marker. Yuu has been excited about volleyball practice all month. Apparently, after much searching (including outer space, if one message is to be believed), he’s finally found the perfect high school team.

Yeah, me too, he writes under the words.

I can’t wait t

There’s a brief pause before several exclamation marks are added over the extra t. Well, typos happen sometimes.

Asahi walks into the gym. There’s a group of unfamiliar students standing together and looking nervous, obviously the first-year hopefuls. As he looks around the gym for Suga and Daichi, he notices one of the first-years turning away from the rest of the group. When he spots Asahi, he smiles and heads towards him, much to Asahi’s confusion.

As the first-year approaches, he raises his left arm, which is covered in soulwords. For a brief moment, Asahi is convinced this kid is going to hit him.

That is, until he notices some of the words written on his arm.

-st day of high sc-

-h me too-

can’t wai-

Asahi stares in disbelief. Then, for the first time in his life, he looks into the eyes of his soulmate.

Nishinoya Yuu smiles up at him and holds out his hand for Asahi to shake.

“I finally found you,” he says.