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They say the dreams allow you to get to know them. To feel closer. To open up your heart and soul, your very mind with all of its deepest secrets and desires, to that one person - your soulmate.

And for some, it is true. People dream of happiness, of their past lives, of how their destined partners came across them in different bodies and minds, but still visibly the same to their eyes. There would be brief pain as death or misfortune tore them apart, but soon, joy rejuvenated their hearts as once again they came together in a different time, in a different place.

The dreams continue, on and on, over and over again, unstoppable. When one cycle is finished, a new one starts, the tale of the two hearts beating together in sync never getting to end until the dreamer meets their other half, until the souls guided by the dreams were bound together once again, in the real world.

Some call it reincarnation, some call it fate, some call it magic.

Hinata Shouyou called it bullshit.

He was always exceptional when it came to this fishy thing. Usually people started dreaming at the age of ten - there was something about the brain activity and the processes of thinking that shaped up their consciousness at exactly that time. But Hinata was special, so of course the rule didn't apply to him.

He started dreaming - or having terrible nightmares, it depended on the point of view, he supposed - when he was no older than five. It was a gruesome scene, lasting barely ten minutes, but he has never forgotten about it. It stayed vibrant and clear in his mind for years, no matter how hard he wanted it gone...

The air smelled of rain and pine needles - or some other tree, he was never sure about this particular thing, and was definitely not curious enough to find out - and he could see a big bonfire not far away from where he stood. The sounds of laughter, brash and unpleasant, mixed with the screams of women and the cries of children. In the distance, in the black of the night, he could make out vague outlines of houses. There was a village there. Hinata didn't know why, but his heart filled with anger and pain at the sight, and a sudden thought hit him. The village was no more.

A hand tightened on his arm, hard and insistent, the hold painful, and Hinata struggled against it to no avail. His wrists were tied behind his back with a rough rope that burned his skin at every move. He didn't care. He wanted out. He wanted to escape, to kill his captor and run. Hinata bucked against the binds and the hand steering him away from the fire, but the only thing he succeeded in was getting a quick hit to the side of his head. His head spun and blood welled the wound, flowing richly down his face. Hinata blinked it out of his eyes, dazed by the blow, as his captor led him away from the fire, into the dark woods.

The voices coming from the camp died down when they stepped further into the forest. It was darker than before, so dark Hinata had to strain his eyes to see. They walked in silence, only the crunching of the fallen leaves under their feet any indication of their presence. Every now and then Hinata could feel the bite of a knife on his back, urging him forward when his pace slowed down.

He was scared. The adult, dream Hinata, and the small five-year-old boy, back at home, in his own bed, tossing in a feverish nightmare. They were scared.

Finally, dream-Hinata's feet breeched the tree-line as he walked out onto a small clearing. The moon gazed from behind the clouds just as a harsh kick to the back of his knees sent Hinata face down into the grass. He groaned in pain, but didn't have the time to get up on his own. A rough hand hoisted him up by his hair, pulling his head back and baring his throat. His neck protested, but Hinata didn't care. His heart sped up, adrenaline coursing through the veins faster than ever.

He knew. The blue, dark blue like a midnight sky, eyes of his captor and soon-to-be executioner spoke of it. His death.

Hinata took a shuddering breath of air, his last one, which tasted so sweet it brought tears to his eyes. Cold steel on his throat made him shiver, and all the hair on his body stood on edge. He expected pain, he expected suffering. But it didn't feel like much of either. There was a sharp sting as the blade slashed this throat, blood flowing freely, but there was no further pain.

He choked on his last breath, and the blood, and... He was gone.

Five-year-old Hinata woke up screaming in his wet bed.

His parents were 'oh, so proud' of him. "He started so early, I'm sure his connection with his soulmate is strong!" and "They will be such a wonderful pair, I'm sure!" and "You are so lucky, son. You will have even more time to get to know your chosen one." Hinata didn't understood them then, and he sure as hell didn't understand them later when he was older. What was so good about all of this? He was a child and he had just witnessed, more like felt on his own skin, his death by the hands of his soulmate. And they expected him to do what? Fall into their arms like a love-struck girl from one of these shoujo mangas?

But since his parents were 'oh, so proud', soon, their whole neighbourhood knew that Hinata has already started dreaming. People watched his every move, stared at him whenever he went, some even went so far as to point fingers at him, as if he was some sort of strange animal on display. After every such case, Hinata came home oddly quiet and immediately dropped down on his bed, seeking refuge in sleep. But that was, too, just his wishful thinking. Because the dreams didn't stop there.

For a time, the nightmare continued. Every time Hinata closed his eyes, he could feel the blunt blade at his throat, gliding softly to his death. Just like that, his happy until now childhood turned into a double led life. During the day, happy angel Shouyou whom everyone loved. And at night, a scared child plagued by something no force on Earth could protect him from.

There were other consequences of his early dreaming, too. For example, when one time parents took him camping in the mountains, he absolutely refused to step foot into the nearby forest. The smell of needles, he didn't know and didn't care if it were the same kind as in the dream - as he started calling it - he would not risk it, and cried his way out of it. His parents didn't understand him, it was only a dream, right? He was safe with them, right?

No, he wasn't. Not from the fear and the dreams. No one could guarantee him safety from that.

The next dream he had was years later, he was about seven at the time, and he almost managed to forget the horrors of the first experience with his soulmate. Maybe forget wasn't the right word. He just refused to think about it, and somehow it worked.

This dream wasn't like the other though, it was... strange. That's all Hinata could really say about it. It was all glimpses of sight and smell, no feelings, no thoughts. Later on Hinata deduced he was an animal, and by the growl rising up his throat every now and then, he decided he belonged - most probably - to the cat family.

His surroundings were like nothing he has seen thus far. The land stretched wide in every direction, only a lone few trees here and there. The ground was sandy and dry, but pale, washed-out grass kept rising from it in tufts. There was no one in sight, human or animal, and it might have been lonely, but animal-Hinata didn't feel anything. Only the sun scorching his back, and the hunger eating at his insides.

Suddenly, there was a movement in the grass to his right, and Hinata raised his ears, listening. He took a long sniff of the air. Ah yes, that was it. Dinner.

He sneaked closer, careful and quiet. The wind was blowing in his face, which added to his confidence, as he knew the pray would never get a whiff of him coming. And then he jumped out of his spot, intending to sink his fangs into deliciously full throat of a zebra, when a roar cut through the air and a lion cut past him and took his kill.

He was ready to jump and fight for his share, but the rumbling growl in his throat died down when the lion glanced up from his meal. Their eyes met, and - it was only real-Hinata's impression - he got permission to join. The lion moved slightly to the side and when still wary of a possible attack Hinata got closer, no glance was spared his way.

Without further ado, animal-Hinata bit into the meaty flesh on the zebra's thigh, satiating the burning hunger with thick muscle and still warm blood trickling down his throat.

Hinata awoke in his bed, shivering slightly in the chilled air of the room, and lay long into the night unable to fall back asleep. This dream wasn't like the last one, he didn't feel fear, he didn't feel much of anything. Only that last moment when he ate the raw meat... That was disgusting.

Seven-year-old Hinata's stomach churned.

Everyone always swooned over how good they came to know their soulmate through the dreams, but Hinata found it hard to believe.

In the first dream, he was killed by his soulmate.

And in the second, his soulmate interrupted his hunt and grabbed all the glory - not to mention the better meal - for himself.

So what did he learn about them? He or she, whoever they were, was simply an asshole. And somehow Hinata was sure they would never get along.

Ever since that dream, Hinata was much more a dog person than a cat person, unlike before. There was something about the felines that rubbed him the wrong way and reminded too much of the person he would have to spend his whole life with, wanting to or not.

To top it all, he acquired a strange aversion to raw meat.

By the time of the third dream, Hinata was wary and cautious of his 'destined' partner. But in this case, he should not have been. He was nine when he dreamed of being old, much older than he was now, maybe his father's age.

The day was quiet and sunny, and he was on his way home from work. Taking the familiar turn and entering the neighbourhood, Hinata noticed a newly blossomed flower shop. The windows were packed full of exotic looking flowers, garlands of them hanging off the ceiling inside the shop, and a myriad of colourful pots adoring the front steps invitingly. A small detour wouldn't hurt, he thought lightly, and smiling to himself, Hinata headed inside.

The smell of fresh flowers and compost hang in the humid air, stifling but also rejuvenating. It seemed as if no one was there, but when Hinata moved closer to the front desk, the door to the storage room opened and a boy of maybe twenty came through with arms full of pots.

"Welcome," he blinked at Hinata, somewhat surprised, but continued on his way to the desk. He crouched down next to it and carefully placed down the pots, after which he turned to Hinata again. "Can I help you with something?"

Hinata cocked his head to the side and hummed in thought. "I don't really know," he said. It wasn't like he had anyone to give flowers to, and he definitely didn't have the time to look after a potted plant himself, with his double shifts at work and everything. "Do you have something that can survive for a while without water?"

The shop assistant gave him a look, and now that Hinata thought about it, he must have sounded silly asking something like that. He opened his mouth to take back his words, but the other was quicker.

"How about a cactus?" he asked, and Hinata had a strange feeling he was being mocked.

He smiled pleasantly, knowing full well that if he was, it would unnerve the clerk. "Why not?"

The boy led him to a stand near the front door and pointed at the various cacti on display. He then continued to stand there, clearly waiting for him to pick, so in revenge Hinata took his time. He carefully looked over every single sample, some even twice, just to play with the kid. He could see the signs of impatience on the other's face, and deep down he cackled with glee. Oh, what a horrible old man he was.

Then, he finally decided it was enough fun for one day and pointed to a plain looking cactus in the front. "I'll take this one," he said with a smile. It was just a random pick, he honestly had no idea what criteria to apply while choosing cacti, but when the clerk nodded in approval, he realized he must have hit the jackpot.

"Do you want a bag for it?" the boy asked, heading back to the counter.

Hinata followed him, noticing the careful, caring way the other's hands held the plant. "Yes, please."

He paid and the bag with the cacti was handed over to him. Hinata grabbed the pot, and by accident his fingers softly brushed across the clerk's skin. The boy snapped back his hands, almost letting the pot drop in the process, and masked it with a quick bow.

"Please visit us again," he said without looking up at him, and Hinata was sure it was just a customary phrase offered to all the people that came by the shop, but nonetheless he smiled brightly.

"I just might," he said, and left the shop.

A useless plant and a memory of the light flush on the clerk's cheeks in hand.

It was morning when nine-year-old Hinata awakened from that dream, warm and cosy, and happy. For once, he bubbled down to the kitchen in giddy excitement, and told his mother of this new dream. She looked at him in silence for a long while, and Hinata couldn't really understand why she wasn't smiling. This was a good thing, right?

And then, for the first time, Hinata came across the term homosexual.

With the system such as soulmates at work, the governments all around the world had to accept homosexual relationships in the face of law, but they still weren't widely popular with people. His mother explained to him how two man could love each other, and that it was perfectly normal, even more so if it was his soulmate. Ever since his first dream, she suspected this might be the case, she said. But she still hoped it would turn out to be just her.

Yet now, in the face of such a blatant dream, she was sure. Hinata's soulmate was a man.

Hinata didn't really know what was the big deal about, so he left the problem at that. He didn't feel much sympathy towards his destined partner, no matter if it was a man or a woman, so he found no use in thinking about it at all.

But there was something different in his life each time he dreamed, some minor detail that entered without his permission, and entered to stay. He wondered what it would be now, until one day he stumbled upon a flower shop, and face glued to the window display, begged his mother to buy him a cactus. Unconsciously, or maybe not, he picked the exact one as his former self in the dream.

This started a weird change inside him, one that Hinata wasn't really aware of until he entered middle school. But slowly, step by step, dream by dream, his view of his soulmate started to shift.

The next one was only a push in the right direction.

It was winter, and Hinata huddled under the kotatsu in the living room, when he fell asleep watching TV. Winter break was in full bloom and Christmas spots on all channels took forever to end, so it was no wonder his consciousness slipped away at some point. He was slightly over eleven.

Hinata was sitting on the pavement, cold, cold ground, snow all around him, but he couldn't get up. He was hungry... So hungry... All the strength he had left was used to grasp tightly at the edges of his worn out coat. It provided no warmth and Hinata shivered with every gust of wind in the alley, but it was better than going bareback in the middle of winter.

Christmas lights blinked happily across the main street, but Hinata's sight blurred with tears of cold, exhaustion and hunger. He suspected that this winter, maybe even this month, will be the end for him. He would die there, on the streets. Homeless, loveless, unneeded.

He closed his eyes, huddling closer together to best protect himself from the sharp wind. He didn't even realize when, but he must have fallen asleep, for the next thing he knew, he was shaken awake by some stranger in a beautiful, rich cloak, such as Hinata has never seen in his whole life even on the window displays of tailor shops around the main street.

"Hey, can you hear me?" the man asked, but Hinata's tongue was tied with cold and hunger, so he only nodded.

"Good, you're alive. I feared you might have frozen to death."

The stranger looked relieved and Hinata wondered about him. Who was he? Why did he bother? The man was rich, clearly, so why was he in a back alley, talking to the piss-poor him?

"Here, eat this," a still hot meat bun was thrust into his hands.

Hinata's eyes widened at the feeling of warmth spreading from the food, and the smell... Oh, the smell!

He looked at the stranger again, and receiving a nod in permission, nearly swallowed the whole thing in one bite. It tasted like heaven, and Hinata was near to crying as he licked his fingers from the remnants of the juicy sauce, wishing the bun had lasted for more.

The hand was back on his shoulder, making him look up at the stranger in new light. He still looked filthy rich, but now there was a light in Hinata's eyes, a light that marked the stranger as a friend. As his saviour. An angel sent to him from heaven.

"Now, let's get you out of here," the man helped him up and led him through the back alley to a carriage waiting there.

"W-why?" Hinata managed to ask, stupefied by the kindness. He didn't know people like this could still exist in the world.

"Why?" The stranger turned to him with a small, and somehow lonely, smile. "Because no one should be alone on Christmas," he said.

And Hinata didn't know if he meant him, who nearly died in that alley, or himself, who had all the riches, but was still missing something in life. But if that something was company, Hinata was glad to give it to him. For another bun or two.

When eleven-year-old Hinata blinked his sleepy eyes open, he was still under the kotatsu. And he was warm, so warm it was getting uncomfortable, but he didn't want to move. One of the sources of this warmth was his chest, and he lay there, gazing at the moving images on the TV screen, unseeingly.

His soulmate... Maybe he wasn't so bad after all... It was the second time that he shared his food with Hinata, and it was, well - Hinata thought, blushing - it was kind of endearing. His mother chimed in that maybe it was a promise of stability, that he would always be able to provide for Hinata, and that again awoke the warmth in his chest.

But that guy, whoever he was, still killed him. So no, Hinata would not be a love-struck girl any time soon. That's what he decided.

His mother only chuckled at him, and pet his head until he was smiling again. The next day, she brought home a bag full of meat buns, and Hinata couldn't help stuffing his face full. It was yet another thing he inherited from his countless previous lives.

Since the last two dreams were so pleasant, Hinata has expected the next one to fall in with the pattern. He couldn't be more wrong though.

There was fire, wild and deadly, all around him. He smelled the scorched bodies of his fallen comrades, and heard the screams of those still dying, burnt alive, in the air that choked his breath away. He clenched his hand on the harsh steel he held, and gathered all his courage.

He had to do it, he had to fight it.

For them.

He rushed out of hiding, leaving the safety of one of the big rocks that littered around the cave and ran quick as the wind. As if the hellhounds were after him. And as a matter of speech, they were. But in a different form: one with wings and a head big enough to swallow him whole, claws and teeth sharp as their swords, and a breath of fire that could burn a grown man to a pile of dust on the spot.

A dragon.

Hinata roared, charging at the creature, but he missed his chance when his sword broke in two on the hardened scales. He should have sneaked towards it instead. Gotten closer, under the softer belly. But now, now it was too late.

One vile, yellow, slit eye with a double eyelid blinked evilly at him when the dragon turned its head in his direction.

But it was too late to stop, too. Too many comrades fallen to retreat.

Hinata screamed again to give himself some courage and stabbed the caricature of a sword he still held onto right into that eye. A ground-shaking roar of pain made him stumble as the dragon shook its head blinded by the blow. Before Hinata knew it, its body was falling down.

But down at him. At where he stood. He would never make it, he knew. So he stayed, and he just hoped the rest of their party would use this chance to kill it.

He kept his end of the deal.

Young Hinata started awake in his bed. A dragon. A MOTHER- he tried to calm himself, but his heart continued to pound in his chest -EFFING DRAGON!

Wow...

His mind was unable to grasp what he had just seen. And what of his soulmate? He didn't really see anyone that could be him, so... the dragon? Hinata laughed. There was no way his soulmate could be the dragon. People couldn't be animals...

The dream of the lion stood clear in his mind. Could he really...?

Then if he was, it was the second time Hinata was killed by him. He frowned. Weren't soulmates supposed to love each other? Cherish and protect from harm? Yet from what Hinata has seen, it was his soulmate who brought him harm instead.

He easily shrugged off the worry the next day. He was twelve and had a whole life in front of him, one little dream couldn't change that. Even if it was one of the dreams.

But somehow, slowly, at the same shelf the lone cactus stood for years appeared a tiny figure of a dragon. And then another. And soon Hinata's room was full of these mythical creatures, some bigger than others, though he would never admit it was influenced by the feeling of proximity with his soulmate. He just happened to like them. That was all.

At thirteen, Hinata was slightly more prepared to see death and when another dream manifested, he thought he was ready. As it turned out, he might have been ready for his own death, but he sure as hell wasn't for his soulmate's.

There was blood, so much blood on his hands and the floor, and still bubbling out of the gush on his lover's chest. He tried to stop it, desperately, but couldn't. Fat tears rolled down his cheeks, blurring his vision and stealing the last glances he exchanged with the men he loved.

They were in a tunnel, somewhere underground, the only source of light the torches on the walls.

"Run, you fool," the voice was weak, choked, but the eyes glared strongly at him, urgently. "Leave me, save yourself."

"I'm not going to leave you!" Hinata screamed, his hands clutching at the other desperately. "You're the fool if you think I could ever do that!"

The man laughed, and red welled in the corners of his mouth, making him cough. Hinata's hands trembled as he leaned in and cupped his lover's face. The sounds of the chase were getting louder and closer with each passing minute, but he didn't care. If he died now, Hinata would die with him.

He leaned their foreheads together and started humming, the melody of the song that his mother used to sing to him, and which he later taught to his lover. It was their song, the symbol of their feelings. But now it was merely a caricature, hushed and wavering, trembling along with his voice.

Cold fingers touched his wet cheek, and Hinata's breathing broke, a choked sob echoing in the tunnel.

"Don't cry for me," his lover said, smiling softly. Through a curtain of tears, Hinata could see the light fading from his eyes. "We'll be together... again... you'll... see..."

Hinata could almost feel the moment the last breath left the man, and he cradled his motionless body to his chest, tears suddenly stopping. His heart was crying, but his eyes no longer could. He clenched them shut and rocked both their bodies, the song rising in his throat once again.

And Hinata sang.

Slow, painful melody, that reminded him of the past happiness. Of what he had, but now has lost. His voice was strangely clear and calm, as if he believed in his dying lover's last words. They will be together again. If not in this life, then in another.

And that's how they found him. Singing over a dead body in his arms.

It took only one shot, and then Hinata was free to follow in his lover's footsteps.

Thirteen-year-old Hinata didn't know what it really meant to lose a soulmate before. But now he did. And just like his dream self did, he cried, for long hours, none of his mother's words even close to soothing the pain in his heart. He was numb all over in the morning, face, body, heart and mind. There was only one thing he knew for sure.

He never wanted to feel that again.

Suddenly, his soulmate has become indispensible, someone Hinata would not be able to function properly without, and somehow... His heart started longing to see him. To have a face to put all these feelings to. It was a completely new thought, one that has never crossed Hinata's mind until now. But he has found himself rather liking the idea of actually meeting his soulmate face to face. He was about to start middle school, so maybe... maybe then...

Yet when the new semester has turned around the corner and he familiarized himself with all the new faces at the school, he was left disappointed. His soulmate wasn't there.

Growing impatient month by month, Hinata waited. And while he did, the dreams started to pick up the pace, too.

It was right before his fourteenth birthday when things started to get really complicated.

He was.. at a party, or was it a ball?, surrounded by people in masks. Some danced on the spacious dance floor, dresses sweeping the floor, boots and heels clicking to the sound of gentle string music. Hinata walked down the aisles, women and men alike bowing to him as they spotted his figure. They must have known his identity, even though he held up a mask of his own to obscure his face. A feeling of accomplishment and dark enjoyment welled in his chest.

"Ah, I was not expecting your presence tonight, Your Grace," came a voice from behind his back and Hinata turned swiftly in its direction, lowering his mask.

There were two men standing there, one looking like a personification of royalty - rich, devilishly handsome and arrogant; the other, an aristocrat no doubt, but lacking the chic and glamour of higher standing, held no candle to his companion. Hinata spared him only one glance, before a smirk overcame his features, eyes gleaming mischievously in dim candlelight, and he bowed slightly to the one that called him over.

"I was not expecting it either, my Prince," Hinata answered, spreading his hands wide in wonder and smiling, what he knew to be a mysterious way. "And yet, here I am."

The moment he referred to the man as 'his', Hinata knew he had him. The man's lips stretched in a pleased smile.

"Leave us, good sir, I wish to speak with the Duke alone," the regal one waved a hand at his companion, and the man left without a word, glaring daggers at Hinata, who only smiled at him mockingly. Oh, how he loved this feeling of power.

"Have you given any thought to my proposal?" the Prince asked as soon as the other man was out of sight.

Hinata hummed, not really looking at him, seemingly focused on the pairs swirling in a bout of waltz. He did think about it, but he was far from making a decision. Especially when a certain Earl was involved right in-between...

The Prince moved closer and now they stood in each other's personal space, their shoulders brushing from time to time. A corner of Hinata's mouth twitched in amusement. If that's how you want to play, he thought, then I'll be happy to oblige.

He glanced up at the man, and he knew it was well received by the darkening of brown eyes. With purposefully slow movements, Hinata raised his hand and plucked the glass of champagne from the Prince's fingers, raising it to his lips. He tilted his head back and let the liquid fill his mouth, all the while not breaking the eye contact. He swallowed, once, twice, and he knew he won their silent battle, as he the other's eyes locked on his throat and bobbing Adam's apple.

"You should be careful not to drink so fast," the Prince said, trying to sound amused, but Hinata could detect the hints of huskiness in his voice. "It would be such a shame if your wits were marred by alcohol."

The man reached out a hand and swiped some of the liquid from a corner of Hinata's mouth. A thrill of excitement run down Hinata's back at the contact, and he knew they were even. Back to square one, as it always was with the two of them.

"About my proposal...?" brown eyes glistened down at him inquiringly, not losing any of ther sharpness at the same time, and Hinata was opening his mouth to answer, when his eye caught something that attracted his attention more than the man at his side.

Suddenly, over the Prince's shoulder he spotted the figure he spent all night chasing. His eyes narrowed for a brief moment when the man, tall, dark and oozing mysteriousness, looked his way, and then Hinata turned back to his companion. The Earl could wait. Hinata chased after him for so long, maybe it was time to sit back and watch the Earl do all the work.

He smiled secretly to himself, gazing up at the Prince and placing a hand on his arm.

"I find great pleasure in your company tonight, Your Highness," he said in a hushed voice that made the man lean towards him to catch it. "Let's talk some more."

Hinata noticed the Earls glare, and his heart swelled with triumph. Let the games begin.

It was the end of the dream and when fourteen-year-old Hinata woke up, he was very confused. That man, the prince, or whoever he really was, wasn't his soulmate. He knew it for sure, he felt it. The earl though, the earl - that was him. So why would his past self flirt with men other than the one destined for them? Was it... Could it...

The next morning, during breakfast, as he poked around in his eggs, Hinata asked his mother.

"Is it possible to choose someone else over your soulmate?"

Although surprised by the question, his mother quickly answered, that yes, it was possible, and quite widely practiced, too. Hinata frowned the whole time she tried to explain how people fell in love, just like in the older days when no one even knew about the existence of soulmates, and how they could fall in love the same way even now.

But, she said, it was a very difficult thing to endure. The bond between the soulmates was strong, and for some people, the pull to join their destined partner was impossible to resist, which resulted in them leaving the people they once loved to start a new life. Sometimes it even broke families apart, she added sadly.

So people still ended up with their soulmate in the end, Hinata thought, his frown never disappearing. Wasn't it like cheating, though? They were in love before, and then suddenly - not. Or even worse, they were suddenly in love with someone else.

That was the day when Hinata, at the age of barely fourteen, decided he would never fall in love. He didn't want to suffer, he didn't want to repeat his past lives, and he didn't want to hurt other people like this. So he vowed to himself that the only one for him, ever, would be his soulmate. And if that guy turned out to be unacceptable... Well, he'll cross that bridge when he gets there.

At the same time as this promise, Hinata found himself struggling fiercely against it. Because into his life, violent like a murder of crows, entered volleyball, and Hinata immediately fell in love with it.

He trained in secret, practiced outdoors, tried his best on his own with the pitiful resources his middle school could provide. He even succeeded in assembling a team. They were all mediocre at best, no talent, no drive, but to Hinata they were the best team in the world and he did his best to keep them together.

During that struggle, he had another one of the dreams. In all the gore, blood and death Hinata has witnessed so far, this one was absolutely the strangest, weirdest and most disturbing one.

He. was. a. woman.

A woman!

With long hair, tumbling down over his - her - shoulders down to the small of her back. She was wearing a kimono, red and painted with colourful threads, birds rising to fly. It slipped down slightly, her shoulders bare, the skin glowing gold in the light of the lone of a lamp. She was lying on a bed of pillows, on the floor, legs comfortably stretched, long and bare, picking out of the material of the kimono.

She had a book in her slim fingers, reading, when a knock interrupted the quiet of her space.

"You have a client," some man popped his head into the room and she put her book down, regally waving a hand at him.

"Send him in."

She rose off the pillows a little, readjusted her hair and pushed up her breasts, lowering the kimono to keep the shape. She threw the material off her legs, leaving them invitingly in plain sight and propped herself on the pillows once again. The door opened then and a familiar figure stepped through.

"It's you," she breathed in surprise.

Quickly rising up to her feet, she threw herself at him, and he embraced her tightly. He reeked of gunpowder and smoke, some of it dimmed by sweat and the smell of his horse. But she didn't care. It was him. It was him.

"Do you have it?" he asked, looking her deep in the eyes, fingers stroking her face gently.

"Yes," she nodded and left him to rummage through one of the drawers of the nearby wardrobe. She pulled out a stack of letters, but hesitated in giving it to him. "Are you sure this is a good idea?"

He came closer to her, putting his hands on her shoulders and making her look into his calm, confident eyes. "I'm sure," he said with conviction. "I'll hand these to the general and soon you'll be free. And then you'll be my wife."

She wanted to believe him, desperately, so she inclined her head and handed him the letters. He tucked them safely in a pocket of his coat, and turned, as if to leave. She stopped him, grabbing his arm.

"You can't leave so fast," she whispered urgently. "They'll start suspecting there's something going on." He nodded at her, but she noticed the nervous twitch of his eyebrow. Thinking quickly, she found the best solution. She placed a hand on his chest, through the material feeling for his beating heart. "How about you show me how you'd care for me when I'm your wife?"

She smiled up at him when she noticed his hesitation. He only shook his head, half-amused.

"How can you even think about things like that in this situation?" he asked, but she knew he meant no real harm and was only teasing.

"It's my job to think of these things," she replied in the same tone.

"Not for much longer," he leaned in and kissed her, hand coming up to cup her cheek, the other loosening the obi on her waist.

Soon, she'll be free. Soon, they'll be together.

Hinata felt strange when he opened his eyes that morning. There was something out of place, something different. It took him half an hour of usual preparations for school to notice. 

He dreamt of being a girl, and now he was a guy. His body felt awkward, somehow too hard, too big, too… manly.

He frowned at his reflection in the mirror and angrily splashed his face with cold water.

You stop that, Shouyou, he told himself. You're a man, a manly man, and that dream was just one of your past lives - it has nothing to do with you. More than that, countless. Countless past lives. So what if in one of them you were a girl? Now you're a man so keep it together, damn it!

He rubbed his face vigorously with a towel, but his mind unconsciously kept going back to what he had seen. Because not only was he was woman, he - or she, or whatever - was a prostitute.

As shocking as this revelation was, Hinata didn't mind it much. What he was more concerned with, was the kiss. Obviously, he himself was never kissed before, since he promised to only ever allow that to his soulmate, but… He remembered the dreamy feeling, it was a bit wet, and hard, and then soft and smooth. And he was really curious if it'd feel like that in reality.

As he went down the stairs for breakfast and his mother asked if he dreamt of anything that night, Hinata decided that some dreams were better off if it was only him knowing about them.

At the time, he did not know how right he was, but a few weeks later, he came to realize that.

His parents were out with Natsu, leaving him alone in the house, and Hinata planned everything. He was going to take a nap right when he got back from school, and then watch some TV and play games till morning. Maybe read some manga when he got bored. But as soon as his face touched the fluffy pillow and the covers warmed up his body, he slipped into deep sleep, all the plans forgotten.

And he dreamed, but what he dreamed about, he was sure he would never, ever, tell his parents.

Hinata was lying flat on his stomach on a soft bed, naked, satin brushing his skin with every move, teasing it gently. He was hot, every single one of his nerves on edge, senses screaming. Strong, calloused hands glided down his back, his hips, then stopped at his ass, kneading the flesh. Hinata closed his eyes, breathing shakily.

Then he felt warm liquid trickle down his legs and the hands massaged it into his thighs and ass, which made his belly warm with an inner fire, and then something - a finger, he supposed - was inserted into his asshole, moving in and out, pushing relentlessly past the tight ring of muscles. Hinata gasped at the sensation, clutching at the satin sheets beneath him. But it didn't hurt, quite the contrary. After the first shock, he voluntarily raised his hips to meet the slow thrusts, and soon a short moan of pleasure left his mouth.

"On your knees," came a command from behind his back, and Hinata hurried to get up.

Another digit was added, and the pressure increased, but the movement did not stop, and to this, too, Hinata adapted. The feeling was slightly different than the one before, it was fuller, more intense, and Hinata didn't realize when he groaned for more. And yes, there was a third finger, and this time his moans were louder and more urgent, but his lover took his time.

A second hand reached down to his cock, stroking it slowly, slower than the rhythm of the thrusts. It was making him mad, the uneven pace and the tightening feeling in his gut.

"P-please," he moaned out, pushing his ass back onto the fingers. It wasn't enough.

There was only a rough laughter from behind him and the fingers retracted. Hinata whined at the loss, but carnal, sticky anticipation settled deep in his stomach. And when the hands grabbed his hips to steady him and something hot pushed past his loosened asshole, Hinata couldn't help a scream, part pleasure, part pain, part gratitude at finally getting his wish.

Their movements were slow, almost lazy, luxurious in their thoroughness. Deep, deep thrusts and full pullouts, and Hinata was wreathing on the bed, barely supporting himself with his elbows tangled in the satin sheets. The fingers on his hips slipped every now and then, but quickly found their rightful place, guided by some strange force that kept both of them moving.

The skin slapped on skin, sound so sinuous that Hinata's ears and face reddened every time he heard it. His breathing was laboured and he moaned and groaned and gasped, adding to the cacophony of sounds, as shots of dark pleasure rippled through his body.

Then the thrusts quickened, the pace sending Hinata over the edge, and he came with a hoarse cry, his muscles tightening around the cock that was still working its way in and out of him. He could fall on the heavenly cold against his heated skin sheets any time, he knew, but the hands kept his ass up in the air, as his lover continued to slam into him. Hinata gasped and moaned as his insides grew more sensitive, and almost mewled in appreciation when his lover stilled with one last push, and hot seed filled him.

No longer being held up, Hinata's knees collapsed, and they both landed on the sheets. The other man rolled to the side and off of him, and Hinata felt semen trickle down his leg as he turned and let himself be embraced by strong arms. They both reeked of sex and sweat, but to him, it was the most wonderful smell in the world.

Hinata closed his eyes, with a satisfied smile. This was what happiness looked like.

But it definitely wasn't for a fourteen-year-old teenage boy who woke up from a nap, having an erection for the first time. Hinata was hot, stuffy and bothered. He didn't know what to do with this situation, so he did the only thing possible - he dealt with it.

Getting the inspiration from the dream, he started touching himself, slowly and with care. At first it felt weird, he blushed and squirmed, not really convinced about this idea. But when the heat peaked, he completely forgot about anything and everything, and went with his gut feeling, stroking and playing until his hand was splashed with warm come.

When his breathing returned to normal, Hinata just lay in bed, shock too strong to let him move. He just masturbated. To a wet dream. Of him getting fucked by his soulmate. If that was what people meant by 'teenage dreams', Hinata wasn't sure he was happy about this deal. A part of him, the hormonal one, wanted to fall asleep as soon as possible, just to get back to that blissful sensation of hands on his body. But another part, the more sensible one, was shocked and confused, and wanted nothing more than to finally find his soulmate and get these dreams over with.

But it still wasn't the right time, and for long months Hinata was plagued - or blessed, it really depended on his mood - by the images of him and his soulmate, tangled together in the throes of passion.

Almost half a year later, it was summer, and for the first time, Hinata's team, his volleyball team, was approved to take part in the upcoming tournament. He was excited, ecstatic even, bouncing up and down with joy. A tournament! A real tournament, with opponents!

Little did he know, that it would be the day his life changes forever.

They tumbled out of the bus, full of energy, bright smiles on their faces. The silly grins of delight were still there when they entered the gym, still there when they saw the court. But when Kitagawa Daiichi, with their professional, majestic air went past them, no one dared to smile anymore. Hinata wanted to give them some courage, to cheer them up, but before he could open his mouth, he saw him.

He was tagging after the whole team, alone, with the bag casually slung through his shoulder. And the moment Hinata's eyes zeroed in on him, the whole world went white, everything disappearing and there was only him and the guy - his soulmate.

Hinata's breath caught in his throat.

He was… He was… Gorgeous.

Tall and regal, his hair dark as the night, eyes blue as the ocean depths, skin pale as the moon. He vibrated strength and confidence, but also cold, and for a second Hinata wanted to reach out to him and disperse the frosty frown on his face with a kiss and a hug and warm words of never letting him go. But the moment passed and he was left there in the gym entrance, watching his soulmate's retreating back.

That…

That was the moment Hinata met Kageyama Tobio for the first time.

 

***

 

Twenty-two-year-old Hinata startled awake in his bed when an elbow solidly connected with his side, knocking the breath out of him. He groaned and turned his head to see Kageyama, blissfully asleep, and he lightly punched him in his bare shoulder in return. Clouded with sleep eyes blinked at him.

"Whaa-"

"Nothing," he interrupted, rolling his eyes, but he supposed the other couldn't see it in the darkness of their bedroom. "Go back to sleep, asshole. And stop moving."

Kageyama mumbled something Hinata couldn't, and didn't even want to decipher, and almost immediately fell back asleep. Hinata smiled softly at him, full of exasperated warmth and affection.

It was rare for him to dream of the past, but when he did, it always led him straight there. To Kageyama. To his soulmate.

Every time, without failure.

And maybe, maybe Hinata changed his mind and this whole thing wasn't such complete bullshit. Maybe it was true love, maybe it was magic, maybe it was fate, maybe it was reincarnation.

But as long as they were together, in this life and all the others, time and time again, he couldn't care less.

The only thing that was important was him.

Being with Kageyama Tobio.

Forever.

That was all that mattered.

Hinata snuggled closer to Kageyama, curling into his side, and smiling when the other unconsciously shifted to make him more comfortable.

And that was all he needed.