Though no one knows how or why, at midnight on a person’s 16th birthday, they get writing on their wrist, almost like a tattoo. This writing, whatever it says, has something to do with your soulmate. It’s usually something like the first thing they say to you after it appears, or an inside joke you two will have, maybe a phrase they say a lot. Simply a push in the right direction, fate’s little nudge-nudge wink-wink about what future you have in store.
Tsukishima was very stubborn. He was well-aware of this fact, and even if he wasn’t, Hinata and Kageyama were sure to remind him at least once a day during practice when he would refuse to stay afterwards to practice extra with them, which always took way too long for him to even be remotely interested in. It had been like that since he was little. Because of this, before his sixteenth birthday, he wasn’t really sure what his soulmate would be like.
If he had one, he thought it would maybe be someone like Yamaguchi. Easily flexible, kind, and patient. Essentially, someone willing to put up with him. Thus far in his life, that was rather hard for him to find. But, the real surprise was when his sixteenth birthday finally arrived and he saw his tattoo for the first time. It was a pretty color - a light blue that reminded him of the afternoon sky on a perfect summer day. It gave off a feeling of calm, and the neat, curvy handwriting only added to its aura. What threw Tsukishima off were the words themselves, which were the complete opposite.
“I can be flexible. As long as everything is exactly the way I want it, I’m totally flexible.”
If his soulmate thought he would just roll over like some damn dog, then his soulmate was dead wrong. See, Tsukishima liked to give people what Yamaguchi politely called ‘a hard time’. This wasn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world, in fact, if you were the right kind of person then it made it all the more entertaining. But the fact that his soulmate was probably the exact same way spelled trouble, in his mind. After all, not all soulmate relationships worked out.
The tattoo was simply a guarantee that the person was the best possible match for you on this earth. Humans were still flawed, made mistakes, and messed up their relationships. As was their nature. So, soulmates could still be able to break up, or fight, or do anything that other couples or people in relationships could do. It wasn’t nearly as common, with soulmate relationships, but not impossible.
At the moment, Tsukishima thought that it was very possible. He didn’t put it past the universe’s lack of affection for him to give him a soulmate who he would fight with til the bitter end instead of the typical, rom-com couple. His brother told him not to be so pessimistic. The look on the younger’s face was asking him if he realized who he had just said that to.
Though, unlike most of his teammates, he hadn’t actually met his soulmate yet, which lead to speculation. What? He couldn’t help but be curious, even if his outlook on the whole ordeal was bleak at best. Part of him (grudgingly) considered Hinata or Kageyama, as he got along with neither of them, but they were already the other’s soulmates. A pair of idiots, perfectly matched. Besides, the two weren’t perfectionists. Suga could be if he wanted to be, and Tsukishima had no doubt that he could and would bite back if necessary, but he had already found his soulmate - Daichi. The rest of the team wasn’t nearly as meticulous to say such a phrase, so they were all ruled out.
It was almost frustrating to him that he hadn’t found anyone yet - not that he was looking forward to it, but that most of the people he knew had gotten theirs already. Yamaguchi told him that he knew that something was going to happen when his tattoo started to give this tingling, almost burning feeling. After some research, Tsukishima found that some people had this, some didn’t, it all depended on the nature of the soulmates, how long it had been since their birthdays, etcetera. So that didn’t help him much at all… until he felt it.
Of course it was in the middle of a damn volleyball game, when he felt a slight tingle on his wrist. It was their first practice match ever against Aoba Jousai, and apparently Kageyama had some sort of history with a few of the players. He didn’t care much about playing at that point, but that all changed when the pinpricks on his wrist grew stronger and he heard the gym doors open. Then, it sounded vaguely like a horror film where all of the females in it were being brutally slaughtered. Turning to see the source of the shrieking, he saw a guy enter with perfectly styled hair, a charming smile, and an aura that oozed confidence. Vaguely, he remembered Kageyama mentioning that he had a mentor, Oikawa something or other, and that he had his own fanclub. Given the ringing in his ears from the screeching, that was probably him.
Soon, the newcomer was subbed in as a server. He heard someone call the name Oikawa - so it was him. His aura was intimidating, to say the least. When he looked at Tsukishima, it was as if he could calculate every single move the blond could make. It was predator and prey, and Tsukishima hated that he was the prey. Shivers ran down his spine, and his wrist felt like it was on fire. He blamed it on the aura. The match was almost over, though, and they had to head home before either of them could speak. However, as he was boarding the bus, they locked eyes and he could have sworn he saw a flash of… something zoom those chocolate eyes, and a smirk followed on his face. It irked him. He irked him.
The next time, it was during their first official match with them, and he could feel that gaze on his back again. Oikawa Tooru, he learned since the previous match. Tall, charming, and a natural born leader was what he was described as by various articles in sports magazines. A challenge, was what Kageyama called him. A coy asshole, was what Tsukishima found to be the most fitting. The brunette was playing setter the whole game, this time, and he was an absolute monster on the court. Accurate, calculating, and wholly arrogant, he controlled the ball like he owned it, and passed it expertly to those around him. Tsukishima’s irritation must have been showing, because between the warm tingling on his wrist and the grin on Oikawa’s face only grew until their rotations matched up, and he was facing him from across the net.
“Be like water, flexibility and agility!” The Aoba Jousai coach called from the sidelines, most of the players nodding as a spiker whose name Tsukishima thought may be Iwa-something prepared to serve, though Oikawa looked straight at him when he spoke.
“I can be flexible. As long as everything is exactly the way I want it, I’m totally flexible.” Oikawa quipped with an almost knowing smile, his eyes flashing as he bent his knees and readied himself for the next rally. Golden eyes went wide as he flat-out-stared at the setter across from him, who immediately focused back onto the ball as it sailed over the net. His wrists felt like they were on fire, urging him to say something.
The ball hit the gym floor with a resonating thud as his fate was sealed.
His soulmate was Oikawa Tooru.
Rationally, his voice should have worked. He could have snapped back with one of his many sarcastic, witty retorts and have completed the interaction. He could have done that. He should have done that. But he came out of rotation at the newest point score, and Oikawa was busy high-fiving his teammates.
They lost, that day. And Tsukishima felt that he had lost something else, too, before he could even have it.
The next match they had was also the last that they would be having with Oikawa still on the team. Tsukishima knew this. But he saw that cunning smile, those cheering girls, and the look of anticipation on the faces of both teams, and he decided that the battle must be waged before the war.
His wrist felt like it was on fire, grimacing as it got hotter the closer the proximity. He had learned after a bit of prior research that this occurred when one soulmate spoke to the other, but got no response. When they were near each other, they began to play hot-and-cold to try and find the other. Oikawa was less than fifteen feet away from him, but they rotated, and he was now in the front row. A mere few paces away was Oikawa Tooru, his soulmate, and he could tell that the brunette was fully aware of what was happening.
He was making small talk with whoever was across the net from him, whether it be playful banter or taunting remarks. Oikawa was testing them, his eyes focused on their reaction. Afterwards, his brown eyes flicked to their wrists. At one point, the setter rubbed his own with a hiss. So he felt the pain, too... it was getting excruciating just to be near him.
If anything, Tsukishima would speak to him just to get rid of the fire burning on his wrists.
Curious brown eyes met gold.
“Ah, glasses, try your best to block our hits!” Oikawa cheered in a deceivingly sweet tone, but he could hear the give in his tone that implied that they were above him. As if he could be above him. The blond’s lips were pursed as he stared at him for a moment, but then the ball came over the net. Two pairs of diligent eyes followed the path, and soon, the set came.
By Tsukishima’s calculations and the patterns so far in-game, their ‘Mad Dog’ wasn’t in a good place - jumped too late to spike it. No place for Oikawa to dump it, either. But there was always one reliable place that the brunette seemed to set to. Oikawa’s gaze flicked over to the wing spiker, Iwaizumi- bingo. In a rush of footwork and perfect timing, Tsukishima jumped up as the ball hit the center of his palm, sending it down to the other side. One point for Karasuno, the referee called. His teammates cheered around him, but all he could manage to focus on was the fire on his wrists and the look of annoyance on Oikawa’s face.
“I think I can manage to block just fine, Grand King.” Tsukishima finally spoke with more than a hint of smug pride, his eyes zeroed in on Oikawa. The brunette’s face morphed into an unreadable mask for a moment, most likely absorbing the information. His lips then curved into something between a smile and a smirk as the hot feeling in his wrist faded.
“Talk to me after the game.” Oikawa said, and though he was fighting not to show it, the setter was clearly intrigued. Tsukishima… hadn’t expected him to say that, if he was honest. He had expected the frown to deepen, for his anger to be fueled, but for him to want to talk to him…? Maybe it was to formally reject him? He wasn’t too sure, but the blond nodded anyway. Closure would be nice.
Karasuno won in overtime, and as satisfying as it was to see the third-year’s faces light up and the team to huddle together with so much energy and joy that Tsukishima couldn’t help but smile, he looked over to the Seijoh side and felt a tug of something at his chest. He saw the look of utter defeat on Oikawa’s face as he looked at his team, the pure devastation. Oikawa turned to him, and before he could even say anything, the blond cut him off.
“Go. They need you more than I do.” Tsukishima said simply. His petty worries and stupid rejection could be held off. Seijoh had just lost their chance at Nationals because of Karasuno, it wouldn’t exactly be the best time to figure whatever they would be. Besides, the team needed their captain… and the captain would need them just as much. Oikawa’s lips pursed and he gave a curt nod.
“You’re better kick Shiratorizawa’s ass.” Oikawa threatened, but his tone was wobbly. For once, Tsukishima didn’t have a single urge to be mean about it. He nodded as well, and they turned away to walk towards glory and resignation.
“You’re distracted.” Iwaizumi hummed, his green eyes flickering back and forth to the court below as their two old rivals face off against each other. Oikawa visibly stiffened in his seat, his lips screwing up defiantly.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Oikawa huffed, but both of them knew better. Oikawa was focused on the game, all right, but his eyes weren’t always on the ball, which was abnormal for him.
“You know, you were acting weird yesterday, during the game. More chatty with Karasuno.” Iwaizumi continued nonetheless, his eyes now on Oikawa as Karasuno called a time-out. Oikawa’s stayed glued on the court.
“It was strategy, Iwa-chan! To distract them, get them off their game.” Oikawa defended immediately, though he seemed a little unfocused even still.
“You looked like you were in pain.” Iwaizumi pointed out.
“I landed on my knee.” Oikawa hissed, finally snapping and turning to look at Iwaizumi, but his eyes told the truth. It wasn’t shame, or guilt, or sadness that shimmered in them. It was uncertainty and hesitance. Besides, Iwaizumi knew that it must be something large if he was legitimately using his knee as an excuse.
“Tooru.” Iwaizumi said softly, his tone much gentler than normal, and it was as if an invisible string holding up the brunette snapped. He sighed and slumped back into his chair, his eyes turning back to the court. Silence consumed them momentarily.
“The blond one, from Karasuno. The middle blocker. He’s my soulmate.” Oikawa murmured softly, his breath a little hitched as his eyes locked onto that long, lanky figure below them.
“He said something to you during the game?” Iwaizumi replied, apparently unphased by this.
“Yeah.” Oikawa shrugged, pushing up his glasses on his face. “We didn’t get the chance to talk, though… y’know, after the game.”
Iwaizumi hummed in understanding, his lips pressed into a thin line as memories of tears and frustration bubbled up. “Well, he’s right there. Go up to him after the game and get his number, or something.”
“I can’t.” The brunette said in a hushed, defeated whisper, and Iwaizumi slowly turned to look at him as if he had told him that he was an alien.
“Since when have you ever given up on something?” Iwaizumi asked incredulously, and Oikawa flinched. He remembered all of the determined pouts, the hours upon hours of practice without breaks, he remembered the passionate calls for the ball to fly up into the air once more. Where had that determination gone?
“He looked at me like I was the scum of the earth, Iwa-chan!” Oikawa whined, burying his face in his hands. “You know how I get when I’m competitive, I get all bitchy! I probably rubbed him the wrong way!” He bemoaned.
“That doesn’t mean that you should just not talk to him.” Iwaizumi replied immediately.
“And even if I did, how would I even start? I don’t know how to flirt with guys, with their stupid smirks and long legs and pretty hair-” Oikawa complained before he stopped himself, blinking. Iwaizumi grinned.
“You think he’s pretty?” Iwaizumi asked, a little teasing lilt to his tone, and the brunette let out an indignant squawk.
“Shut up!” Oikawa yelped, and neither of them could tell if the faint pink on his cheeks was from embarrassment or the realization itself.
“Don’t you think that you both at least should talk to each other before you overthink everything, Oikawa? It’s not just you who’s affected by this, you know.” Iwaizumi reprimanded after his chuckles faded into the air, and the brunette paused for a moment. He had only been thinking about it from his perspective, but from the blond’s… A soulmate who told him to kick some ass and then never talked to him again. Regardless of how they felt, that was a shitty thing to do.
Besides, his soulmate was hot, there was no denying that.
But he recalled the defiance and the challenge in his eyes. He recalled the snarky remark and the satisfied look on his face. He watched the game and saw every single timed block, and all the effort he put in. Oikawa was intrigued, drawn in by him.
The whistle was blown, the teams shuffled back onto the court, and Oikawa had made up his mind.
“You played well.” Tsukishima stopped as he heard a voice echo from behind him the next day. They had just won the match against Shiratorizawa, and to be honest, the adrenaline was still rushing through his veins. Now even more so as he turned to face the speaker.
Oikawa Tooru stood before him, looking strangely… human. Before, he didn’t really think about what his soulmate would actually be like, besides the fact he drilled it into his mind that they would hate each other. He assumed that they would perhaps be enemies, or have broken ties at best. He demonized them. But now, all he saw was a guy two years older than him, with puffy bags under his eyes from no doubt crying the previous night. He saw regular clothes instead of a volleyball uniform and glasses instead of contacts and a tapping at his thigh that he could only assume was a habit. He didn’t see the Grand King. He just saw Oikawa. And that was jarring.
“I didn’t want to disappoint.” Tsukishima replied carefully after a moment, turning fully to face him. A small smile danced across Oikawa’s features and he chuckled softly.
“With that performance, I don’t think I could have been disappointed,” Oikawa said easily, tapping his thigh. “I didn’t quite catch your name.”
“They announced it at the beginning. I saw you in the stands.” Tsukishima droned, catching how the tapping stopped. A sign of lying, or a habit, he wondered? Oikawa seemed taken aback before he smirked.
“Perceptive, I see. My fault for trying to be smooth, I suppose. Well, Tsukishima Kei, I’m Oikawa Tooru.” He replied as he stuck out his hand, and Tsukishima was about to reply with another biting remark and be on his way before he saw a flash of something in those warm brown eyes. Hope, perhaps? Something akin to it?
He looked him up and down, now asking himself why he was so insistent on hating Oikawa? Part of his brain immediately shot back with the fact that he could get hurt or visa versa, but another part of him knew that it was part of any relationship. Nothing was perfect, not even soulmates. They could fight, scream, and cry, but what made soulmates soulmates was that they could move past it. That person would be worth it, he vaguely recalled one teacher saying when he was younger, smiling as she touched her own tattoo. He sighed. He was going to do this, wasn’t he?
He took his hand, and the way that Oikawa brightened made his chest feel tight.
“I know,” Tsukishima started and immediately winced at the automatic biting tone he had. “You’ve spoken to me before.” He continued, more neutral as he let go of Oikawa’s hand and showed him his wrist.
“You have?” Oikawa asked in shock, grabbing his wrist and reading over the words. It was almost childlike in his actions, and he looked up at Tsukishima in confusion. “But you never spoke to me before yesterday. Why?”
“I was hell-bent on the idea that we would hate each other.” Tsukishima deadpanned, and instead of getting offended like the blond assumed he would be, Oikawa scoffed and rolled his eyes as he let go of his wrist.
“I think I get a say in that, don’t you?” Oikawa asked with a slight little pout, and okay, that was a fair point. But Tsukishima didn’t think about that at the time, he had become fixated on the idea that he wouldn’t have a soulmate… That he would end up alone? Perhaps he didn’t feel good enough? Maybe-
“You’re taller than me and I don’t like it.” Oikawa interrupted his downward spiral of thoughts, his pout having only worsened since then. Tsukishima blinked before a little half-smirk flitted across his features. Just because he was giving this a try didn’t mean that he wouldn’t fully be himself.
“Short.” Tsukishima snickered, his eyes dancing with amusement as mock offense and actual offense mixed in the brunette’s expression.
“Young, naive little Tsukishima. Tsuk-chan? No, that sounds ugly. Tsukki is the name your freckled friend calls you, can’t have that, it would be like someone calling Iwa-chan ‘Iwa-chan’, it’s like an unspoken rule to not do that-” Oikawa mused out loud, his lips screwing to one side in thought.
“Why can’t you just call me Tsukishima?” The blond asked incredulously, wondering where the hell this came from.
“-Too long. Shima-chan is just weird…. Ah! Kei-chan.” Oikawa chirped with a pleased little smile decorating his features, and Tsukishima’s fate was sealed at that moment, because he found it to be such a mixture of obnoxious and endearing that he almost considered himself… fond.
“If you’re insisting on first names, then it’s only fair that I call you Tooru,” Tsukishima sighed after a moment. That bright smile returned, and maybe, just maybe… this would be nice. “And I was hoping that I could get your phone number.”
Oikawa was walking back to his car one night after a nice evening spent with Tsukishima - they had walked around town, peeking into little stores and going wherever the pavement took them. The blond in questioned had lagged behind to purchase a book that he liked, and Oikawa had agreed to go and warm up the car for them. He reached the vehicle soon enough, and was about to unlock it when he heard an obnoxious whistle.
“Oi, look at the ass on this one!” A male voice called, and a few others jeered in agreement. Oikawa rolled his eyes and turned to face the speakers - a group of three vaguely-attractive guys with coyote smirks and gleaming eyes that were illuminated by the streetlight.
“Bet he’s easy - look at his clothes, he’s gotta have a sugar daddy!”
“How much for all three of us?” They called and laughed and snickered, but Oikawa simply rolled his eyes and shifted his weight onto one leg with a coy little smile.
“Oh please,” Oikawa replied with a sickly sweet tone that he reserved especially for creeps like them. “I’m more than you all can afford. Besides-” He looked them up and down and wrinkled his nose for dramatic effect. “-I have standards.” The looks on their faces melted away into anger, and they slowly started to get up and stalk towards him.
“Looks like pretty boy’s got an attitude.” The ringleader of the trio growled lowly in a frankly pathetic attempt to frighten Oikawa (in his humble opinion), and he was about to tell them to go and shove their giant egos right up their asses, because maybe that’s the only thing that could satisfy them, but then he felt a familiar arm fall around his waist. Oikawa’s smile grew wider. Ah, now the fun could begin.
“Babe, why are we talking to strays?” Tsukishima droned, his tone lazy but his eyes flickering dangerously. The trio seemed to be taken aback by his backup, especially since they could now fully see how both Oikawa and Tsukishima towered over all of them, heightwise.
“They were saying something about how much I would cost, but I don’t recall being on sale.” Oikawa said sweetly, his brown eyes wide with faux innocence. Tsukishima caught on immediately.
“Hm, I don’t either. Trying so hard to get attention from others, so they revert to catcalling to feel better about themselves, how pathetic.” Tsukishima smirked, looking down at them smugly.
“And I mean really, I’m out of their league. Look at them. They think they look so cool with their saggy pants and slicked back hair, I wonder who they think they’re fooling?” Oikawa giggled, the venom easily spilling from his lips.
“I wonder if you could hit them as hard as you can serve?” Tsukishima asked lightly, and light flashed in Oikawa’s eyes.
“I don’t know if they want to find out,” Oikawa replied haughtily, and one of the two guys backing up the rear looked vaguely frightened - most likely due to recognition. Even those who weren’t in the volleyball circle have heard of the great Oikawa Tooru, Captain of the Olympic Volleyball team, who was as handsome as he was fearsome. “Hey, babe, isn’t there a street camera over there?” He continued innocently, turning directly to face a certain stoplight nearby.
“So there is. You know, facial recognition software has developed massively in the past few years. If someone assaulted the Captain of the Olympic Volleyball team and his fiancee, the partner to Karasuno Law Firms, I think the press would have a ball. Jail time for the assaulters, most likely, due to the publicity.” Tsukishima described, his eyes not leaving the three men for a second, who all now looked scared. One of them elbowed their leader, who sneered.
“Whatever, it’s not like we wanted a prissy bitch anyways.” He huffed, and they all scurried away as fast as they could. Oikawa sighed in relief and leaned into Tsukishima.
“Why must my beauty come with such vices?” Oikawa asked melodramatically, and the blond rolled his eyes.
“That was satisfying, though.” Tsukishima replied easily, and they both smirked at each other before moving to hop into the car and drive back to their apartment.
“You were so cool, Kei,” Oikawa cooed, laughing softly when a slight pink crept onto Tsukishima’s face and he focused on driving. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.” Tsukishima said with a gentle curve of a smile on his lips, and the two spent the rest of the evening cuddled up by the fire watching Sci-Fi movies.