In the year 2136, Satori found himself in a park in Tokyo. They were rarer to find these days. Industrialisation had been intense and rapid, leaving very few natural spaces left on Earth. It made Satori feel sad, in that strange way he’d grown used to, like he was remembering something from a long time ago – or rather, like he was remembering someone.
He did have memories of Wakatoshi. Not from this lifetime, of course, but from a time nearly a century ago, when they had been athletes together. They’d been teammates, friends, and then, for sixty wonderful years, lovers.
But Satori was twenty now, over one hundred years later, and he couldn’t find Wakatoshi.
They weren’t soulmates, Satori knew. Soulmates didn’t exist. But perhaps they were kindred spirits, because something inside him had been reborn from the man he’d been before – and it was calling out for Wakatoshi.
Satori had tried to find him. Technology was more advanced, but it was not quite at the stage where he could search for someone from his past life. Satori had hoped that maybe he could find Wakatoshi through volleyball, or perhaps another sport, or something that made the news – because there was no way that Wakatoshi, powerful, immovable Wakatoshi, was just sitting behind a desk somewhere. That couldn’t be.
He’d looked, and looked, checking every vague thread of information he could find in the hopes that it may lead him back to Wakatoshi. A part of him, the part that was very much from the 22nd century and not fixated on memories of the 21st, wondered if it was even worth it. After all, there was no guarantee that Wakatoshi was even here. Maybe he’d skipped a reincarnation. And even if he was, there was still a chance that he wouldn’t even know who Satori was.
Still, his heart yearned for a glimpse of those familiar brown eyes, flecked with gold. He wondered, with the way language had evolved, if he could find new ways to tell Wakatoshi how they made him feel.
Satori was pulled from his musings by the sound of quick footsteps on the path in front of him, and when he turned to look, his heart just about stopped in his throat.
There was a child on the path, running after a dog with his mother further behind.
There was a child on the path, but that child was no stranger, though Satori had never actually seen him in person.
Wakatoshi was on the path.
Satori opened his mouth, but no sound came out, which was likely for the best. Because what on Earth could he say? This was not the Wakatoshi he had known. This Wakatoshi could only have been eight at most, and Satori could only recognise him because he had spent so many countless hours poring over Wakatoshi’s baby photos years ago – in another lifetime.
This child was both the man he had married and no one, all at once. Satori had to blink a few times to fight back a sudden rush of tears.
Wakatoshi slowed down as he approached Satori’s bench, finally managing to catch up to his dog. Satori was filled with a memory of the golden Labrador they’d had – which Satori had affectionately referred to as ‘Goshiki’, because of its endearing similarity to their kouhai. New Wakatoshi had a Border Collie, cute, but it felt wrong to see him like that. Satori swallowed down the lump in his throat.
Wakatoshi walked past the bench, his hand knotted in the fur of his dog. For a moment, he turned to look in Satori’s direction – the redhead forgot how to breathe. Wakatoshi looked exactly as he had before. While his face was something Satori had never seen in the flesh, full of baby fat and utterly fresh to the world, his eyes were like a road Satori had walked a million times before, achingly familiar. They took Satori back to a different time, a different Wakatoshi – but then the current Wakatoshi screwed up his stoic face into a frown, almost like he, too, recognised Satori.
It was only for a moment, just a brief snippet in the scheme of things, but Satori felt raw, exposed. Could Wakatoshi remember him too?
Yet Satori never got the time to dwell, or to do anything ridiculous like stand up and talk to Wakatoshi – his mother would surely escort her child away in a hurry if he tried that. And before he knew it, Wakatoshi was gone, off down the path, his back steadily disappearing from view.
Satori only relaxed when he could no longer see Wakatoshi at all; releasing the breath he’d been holding in a long stream.
That part of him that was still clinging on to the past was screaming, begging for him to chase the family down, befriend his mother, anything to get closer to Wakatoshi.
But Satori squashed those thoughts, and stood up from the bench, walking in the opposite direction. The age gap between them was too far. By the time Wakatoshi reached Satori’s age, Satori would be nearly forty. He couldn’t spend the better part of his adult life waiting for a child he may never be able to find again.
Sure, Wakatoshi was there. But he could never have been further away.
They were lucky, once.
In the year 2280, Wakatoshi remembered.
He’d never recalled the memories last time, like Satori had, just a vague flash when he’d seen the redhead in the park. But this time, he could remember both reincarnations, and he was determined to find Satori. He had to make up for being so far behind last time.
But when he found Satori – had Satori crash into him, actually, on his hoverboard that he was using to do mid-air flips – he realised that he may have a problem he hadn’t considered.
Satori was there, alive and well and the same age as he was, but Satori also didn’t remember.
It was clear to Wakatoshi when all Satori did was apologise and try to pull him back to his feet, and all Wakatoshi could do was stare.
Satori was just as beautiful as he had been in their first lifetime together. His hair was still bright red, a firecracker on top of his head - his eyes were still wide and dark and full of careless mischief. And possibly Wakatoshi’s favourite – his smile was still there, just the same as it had been in their volleyball club. It promised friendship and adventure, and Wakatoshi wanted nothing more than to kiss him senseless. Two hundred years was a lot of time to make up for, after all.
But Satori didn’t know who he was.
Still, Satori had always been open-minded. He would be willing to go along with ideas that most people would scoff at. And so Wakatoshi took a deep breath, and reached for Satori’s hand. It would be a long story, and also a long shot. Satori might not believe him. Still, he had to try. His heart had been missing Satori for all of this life – he couldn’t let him get away now.
Fortunately for Wakatoshi, Satori had believed him without much hassle. There had been a lot of questions, but that was just in Satori’s nature, and it made Wakatoshi absurdly happy to know that it hadn’t changed, two centuries later.
They didn’t fall back into a relationship straight away, taking the time to relearn one another as the people they were now, not just the men they had been. Satori tried so hard, for Wakatoshi, to remember something from his past lives. Visual stimuli, the music they’d played at their wedding – Wakatoshi even took Satori back to where Shiratorizawa had once stood.
The school was gone now, but Wakatoshi described it in as vivid detail as he could, while Satori listened in wide-eyed wonder. Wakatoshi told him about their volleyball matches, and their old teammates. He explained in a soft, proud tone about the way Satori had perfected a unique blocking style – making a name for himself and providing their whole team with a defensive foundation that they would have been lost without. Satori had flushed then, certain that Wakatoshi had been exaggerating. But he smiled too, and suddenly Wakatoshi was lost, back in the 21st century, the words ”miracle boy Wakaaaaatoshi!!” ringing loud and clear in his head.
And when he kissed Satori – both for the first time and the thousandth – Satori didn’t protest. They became Ushijima Wakatoshi and Tendou Satori, not quite the same way they had been before, but that didn’t matter.
Satori was there. And he could be Wakatoshi’s, and Wakatoshi would take that, whatever way it came.
In the year 2510, Wakatoshi and Satori were living their fourth lifetimes.
Wakatoshi was in the fields of Spain, one of the few small corners of the world that still held onto the nature of Earth, not yet lost in the technological wave that had long since seized the rest of the globe. It was the best place he could be, Wakatoshi thought. He had always loved agriculture; nature had felt like a second home to him, in his first life, and in all three of the reincarnations that had followed. The labour was hard but honest, enough to keep Wakatoshi busy, enough to prevent him from being restless.
And yet, when he slept, he dreamt of a sleepy rural town in a country he had never been to. People spoke in a language he couldn’t recognise when he awoke again. In his dreams, Wakatoshi was not a simple farmer, but a dragon for other people to slay, an unstoppable force, a super ace.
And in his dreams, there was a boy, a teenager, a man. It always changed, but Wakatoshi knew it was the same person. He was a streak of red, a dash of bright colour in Wakatoshi’s sleep-addled mind. He was Satori, the ‘Gesu Monster’, and he was Wakatoshi’s everything. Sometimes, Wakatoshi would only have a brief flash of laughter, other times, he dreamt out full scenarios with ‘Satori’, kissing him and touching him – bodies learning each other as thoroughly as Wakatoshi learned his harvesting rituals.
Wakatoshi would cast the images aside as just dreams, but he knew that dreams had to be based on something the mind had seen before.
And as he remembered himself in all of his previous lives, he figured that Satori must have been a part of them too. Wakatoshi would cast his mind around, as he worked each day, trying to latch on to a firm memory of Satori, but it was all in vain. This time around, it seemed, he remembered himself, the little things about his personality that made him who he was – but he’d lost his memories of others. Satori was nothing more than a phantom in the back of his subconscious, a figure that haunted his mind but never quite revealed itself properly. Wakatoshi resigned himself to never knowing who Satori was, never seeing if he was here again now, and tried to convince himself that he was content with that.
Satori was in New York, a loud and bustling city – one of the forefronts of modern technology. And though a part of Satori’s spirit was old, centuries out of place in his surroundings, Satori knew that there was nowhere else he could’ve been. He was a walking ball of energy, and he had always been that way. He tried to bring life and laughter wherever he went, and he remembered three lifetimes before, when he had been exactly the same.
And yet a part of Satori’s mind was not content. It moved at a slower pace than his busy city life, stuck somewhere else and refusing to move. Satori would remember only small things, a countryside that left him feeling strangely peaceful, the sound of balls hitting wood that kept time with the bass of his favourite nightclub here in the city. It was strange, feeling like he was living several lives all at once inside one body.
But the part that stood out the most was the fleeting flashes of Wakatoshi. Satori often struggled to get a clear picture of the man in his head – often, he would dream about him clearly, only to wake up with nothing more than a blur in his mind. Other times, he would catch himself in a daydream about Wakatoshi’s hands, or the sharp angle of his jaw, and with the small pieces of a much larger jigsaw puzzle, Satori would try to use people around him with similar body features – attempting to recreate Wakatoshi before his mind grew hazy again.
He was rarely successful.
But Satori was determined. He’d placed the unusual language in his mind – no, his memories - as Japanese, and Satori was not the type to let a small barrier like speech stop him. So he studied Japanese at school, practiced over and over again until he was fluent, resolute in his desire to find that countryside town and see what had become of it, centuries later. He had a hope that maybe, once he was there, he may even be able to find Wakatoshi.
It was six years before Satori managed to make his way to Japan, all the way out into the Miyagi prefecture, which he’d identified from old photographs. Satori was excited when he arrived, but over time, the joy lost its edge. No matter where Satori searched, Wakatoshi was nowhere to be found. And eventually, Satori gave up and returned home to New York. It seemed that in this lifetime, it just wasn’t meant to be.
In the year 2510, Wakatoshi and Satori were on Earth together, but their spirits were far apart.
In the year 2700, Wakatoshi and Satori were not on Earth.
The human race had evolved, moved beyond living on just one planet. Galactic empires existed now, almost all humans able to pilot spacecraft.
And yet, even in their new domain, some human instincts, some parts of human history, would never change.
Wakatoshi was the leader of an entire planet system, the general of an intergalactic army. He stood tall and proud at the head of his regiments, governed his people kindly but sternly – as strong as he had been on the court, nearly six centuries before. In this lifetime, Wakatoshi remembered all of his past lives clearly, no hazy dreams, no confusion in who he had once been.
Humans had come further in understanding reincarnation and the patterns imprinted on a spirit, and Wakatoshi was no longer unsure. He remembered Satori, every wonderful detail, the wiry build of his body, the small smattering of freckles on his face, the sharp pink shape of his tongue. Wakatoshi remembered it all.
He missed Satori more than he could ever hope to express, but this time, he had other duties to occupy his mind. This time, he had distractions, ways to avoid and suppress the yearning he felt when he remembered that bubbling laughter, or that shock of red hair.
Satori was a space pirate, a rogue bounty hunter. He had never found a place where he felt like he fit in. Even with countless new planets, and an entire galaxy to explore, Satori still felt like he was alone. He would often think back to his first life, the way he’d been shunned and ridiculed until he’d gone to Shiratorizawa – until he’d found Wakatoshi.
Wakatoshi had become the star of Satori’s entire universe, the redhead filled with fond memories of the lifetimes they had shared together – and the bitter feeling tainting the lifetimes they hadn’t. He’d been searching the galaxy ever since he’d been old enough to fly spacecraft on his own, hoping, foolishly hoping that maybe he could find Wakatoshi again. With nothing else to occupy his mind, Satori would lose himself reminiscing, and dreaming about the life they could maybe share together this time.
And perhaps it was this distraction that worked in his favour, or maybe there truly was a higher force at work.
Because Satori had been careless on a raid, lost in thought about a man with dark hair and gold-flecked eyes, and he had been caught.
He cursed and fought as the system’s guards dragged him aboard their own ship, helpless to do anything but watch as they shut down his spacecraft. That was his only hope in being able to find Wakatoshi. Even if he managed to charm his way out of a prison sentence, if he didn’t have a way to travel, he had nothing.
Satori struggled with his bindings the entire way back to the main base for the system, even though he knew it was hopeless. They weren’t the handcuffs that had existed in the 21st century. There was no way he could break free from these.
Satori kicked even as the guards hauled him off and into the large building ahead of him. He knew raiding was a serious crime, had known it as soon as he’d set out, but he had to find money to fund his searches somehow. A steady job in one place would never take him back to Wakatoshi.
But apparently, being arrested would.
Satori skidded to an abrupt halt, going entirely still in the guards’ hold when he walked into the atrium, and realised who he was seeing. It had been so long, Satori realised, as he took in the broad shoulders and heavy build of Wakatoshi. Hundreds of years, his spirit had been waiting for this moment.
And when Wakatoshi looked up and met his eyes, Satori knew he was feeling the same thing.
Nearly six hundred years of searching, and finally, they had reached a lifetime when they had both been reincarnated at the same age, and they both remembered.
Satori didn’t realise he was crying until he heard the sob wrench its way out of his throat, and even then, he couldn’t find it within himself to feel any kind of shame. Wakatoshi was right there, Wakatoshi knew who he was. Finally, finally-
Neither man could tell who closed the distance between them. Maybe it was Satori, wrenching his way out of his captors’ grip, or maybe it was Wakatoshi, free to move and so hopelessly in love with the man in front of him that he couldn’t care less for protocols. Either way, the pair fell together, Wakatoshi’s arms wrapping around Satori’s shoulders, Satori surging up onto his toes, and then they were kissing.
Satori remembered the way he used to try and tell Wakatoshi stories when they were kissing, using only the pressure of his lips, and he tried that again now, willing Wakatoshi to understand just how much this moment meant to him. From the way Wakatoshi’s tears dripped onto Satori’s face, he guessed he got the message, and he pulled away, laughter bubbling bright and happy out of his throat in a way it hadn’t for many years.
Wakatoshi smiled, one of his big, genuine smiles, and Satori knew he was feeling the same rush of adrenaline. But then Wakatoshi seemed to remember that they were surrounded by others, Wakatoshi’s own army, most likely, and he pulled away, gaze searching for the ones who had brought Satori in.
“I’m not sure why he’s here,” Wakatoshi started, and Satori could have cried all over again at the sound. It was so heartbreakingly familiar, still deep and sure, and Satori wanted to hear his name in that voice over and over again, a hundred repetitions for every lifetime. “But you’ll release him immediately. He’s with me.”
If Wakatoshi’s guards were surprised, they didn’t show it. A part of Satori worried that Wakatoshi could face an uprising after this, but then his arms were free, and the thought fell away. Wakatoshi slipped an arm around his waist, and Satori latched onto his chest, clinging to the body he could never forget.
“If you’ll excuse us,” Wakatoshi continued, with a smile down at Satori. His eyes were full of affection, and Satori was sure he must have looked like the sappiest man alive just then – but then, that made two of them.
“We have a lot of catching up to do,” Satori finished, feeling his lips pull upwards into a grin.
In the year 2700, Wakatoshi and Satori were not on Earth. But they found each other again regardless – two kindred spirits bound together in every lifetime.