In their third year, they win semi-finals like there was never a doubt in their minds.
Kageyama is exhausted, but when Hinata takes a running leap and jumps, Kageyama's arms are already open to catch him, locking underneath the other boy, his own smile smaller but no less real.
"You played…" he starts to say, and then licks his lips, pausing, because there aren't really any words for it. Hinata was a force, a gravitational pull, a cataclysm. Hinata is staring at him, eyes trained on his own, burning and fierce. Kageyama is lost. "No one could look away from you."
Hinata closes his eyes, at this, soaking up the words, drowning in them. "Including you," he murmurs, almost too quiet to be heard above the cheering.
Kageyama barely hears the crowd. He only hears Hinata. The lights of the stadium are dim, for all that he sees them, compared to the boy in his arms. He wants to breathe, but it's difficult.
There is a line, here, drawn in the sand between the two of them. Faint in their first year, bold in their second; now a chasm, a yawning divide that they had once been unaware of, now are steadfastly ignoring. Because there is so much riding on their shoulders. Yet they keep rising, above it all.
So Kageyama steps over.
"Especially me," he whispers, and Hinata's eyes fly open. "You were perfect."
Slim fingers tighten on his shoulders, and he drinks in every minute detail of Hinata's face, as his brow furrows and his mouth falls open, not an expression of surprise but… something else. Something much more private. Something Kageyama doesn't want anyone else to see, so he leans his forehead against Hinata's, tells him things that are meant only for him to hear.
For all that it seems like a lifetime, the few short sentences shared between them have spanned less than ten seconds, and no one is watching, the other team is still picking itself up, Karasuno is still coming together in a bear hug with the two of them standing apart, and for just another moment, Hinata is his.
"You were amazing," Kageyama breathes into the space between them. "You were incredible, you were flying—"
"I—" Hinata tries to say, his chest rising and falling rapidly, breathing faster than he had even in the midst of the game, "I matched you."
They can only play at full potential when they're together. That night, they had played at more than one hundred percent, had been more than flawless. They had matched each other.
"Hinata," Kageyama says, and they hear the call to Line up!
They jerk away from one another, panting. Over Hinata's head, Kageyama can see Tsukishima staring expectantly, Yamaguchi motioning for them to join. Shit. He doesn't care. He doesn't care about any of the rest of this, only Hinata.
The thought strikes him at the back of his mind, and some of the noise and lights cut through the fog as he realizes how strange that is. He is the captain of a celebrated volleyball team, they have just locked in their spot at Nationals—this is something he's always dreamed of doing, somewhere he's always wanted to be. But at the moment, it seems like just a distraction when compared to the boy in his arms, still warm from the adrenaline rush of the game, still small even at eighteen years old.
"We should…" Hinata murmurs, and Kageyama nods, letting him slide from his arms back to the floor. One small hand lingers against the front of his jersey, gripping tight, before Hinata turns, the blinding grin back on his face, as he runs toward the rest of the team, his back to Kageyama.
Kageyama follows him.
As he joins his team, some of the haze has filtered away. He's still overly aware of where Hinata is, at all times, and the way that, more often than not, he's right by Kageyama's side, at his elbow, the two of them in a perpetual state of almost touching. But this is manageable, a little tamer than whatever had overtaken him in the split second after the game, when everything was and had to be Hinata.
They don't get another chance to talk until after they're all back at Karasuno, after they've gone over the games, and the equipment is put away, and the rest of the team is starting to file out.
"Don't worry about it, we'll lock up," Hinata tells Yamaguchi. He doesn't need to tell Tsukishima, who nods in thanks and sets off, Yamaguchi waving goodbye as he hurries after him.
This leaves the two of them alone in the gym. They set about the task at hand, making sure the back door is locked, shutting all the windows—Hinata finishes his side first, and when Kageyama is done, he finds him sitting on the front steps with his arms hugging his knees, so he takes a seat next to him.
He watches Hinata for a little while, and he knows Hinata is aware. Finally, Hinata rests his cheek on his knees and looks at him, smiling.
"You got us to Nationals," he says.
Kageyama raises an eyebrow at him, before he fishes his cell phone from his pocket, training it on Hinata. "Ah, can you say that again? I wasn't recording."
Hinata shoves at his knee, laughing. "Shut up," he says.
Kageyama presses record anyway. "Hinata Shouyou, can you tell us how it feels to be going to Nationals with Karasuno for the third year in a row? As vice-captain?"
"Would've been better if I was captain," Hinata responds, sticking his tongue out.
Kageyama laughs at this. "And your captain, do you have anything to say about him?"
Hinata wipes his nose with the back of his hand before picking his head up to sit up straight. Kageyama watches through the lens of his cell phone camera as he leans closer, doesn't startle away when Hinata puts a hand on his own, steadying the phone in his hand.
"We couldn't have made it here without him," he says, looking straight into the camera. "And, I'm probably in love with him. I think."
Kageyama forgets to stop recording. He just stares at Hinata. Hinata looks at him, eyes tilting up past the frame in the video.
"You knew that already, though," he says to Kageyama. Not a question.
Kageyama nods. "Yeah."
"He's in love with me, too," Hinata says. Also not a question.
Kageyama makes sure to have Hinata's face perfectly framed when he replies, "Of course."
Hinata closes his eyes briefly, biting his lip as red flushes over his cheeks. "After the game…" he begins to say, and Kageyama lowers the phone.
"We should wait," he says, voice suddenly stilted, "until after Nationals."
Hinata opens his eyes. "Until…"
Kageyama swallows. "It's not that I don't… it's just that… we're the captains. We need to stay—"
"We have to stay focused," Hinata finishes for him.
Kageyama nods. "We're so close. We can do this, Hinata, we can win."
Hinata doesn't answer him for a long time, before he says, "I know."
They're quiet after that, until Kageyama pushes gently on his shoulder. "Are you okay?"
Hinata lets out a long breath. "Kageyama."
"What?" Kageyama asks, recognizing Hinata's don't be dumb tone.
"You really love me?" Hinata asks, turning to stare him down, expression clear and piercing.
The entire, great magnitude of what they just admitted surges up around Kageyama like a kind of tidal wave, meant to sweep him off his feet. But the water rushes around him, waves crash over him, and he stands firm. Because at this point, he's not surprised by it.
"Yeah, I really love you," he confirms. And then, because certain things never change, adds, "Dumbass."
Hinata stands and stretches his arms above his head, before looking down at him. "Then I'm okay. Stupid." Kageyama glares and he says, "Oh, by the way… last one to the gate has to buy dinner."
And he's off with a shout, racing under the evening sky. Kageyama swears and clambers to his feet, legs protesting as he takes off in pursuit. Halfway to the gate he remembers that he forgot to lock the front door of the gym. He will definitely be paying for dinner.
Kageyama had thought admitting to it—finally getting this thing there's always been between them out into the open—would make everything easier. Not that things hadn't been easy before. Things have always been easy between them, even when they're not. Even when they're fighting, even after they've just lost a game, even when Hinata dates a girl in his class during their second year for three whole weeks before she breaks up with him because he's "just not focused enough on their relationship".
Kageyama nearly doesn't survive this last one—he only makes it through because he knows which relationship Hinata is the most focused on, the one she doesn't mention. She doesn't have to.
"You were going to break up with her anyway," Kageyama tells him one evening after the fact, sounding like he's sure of himself, when what he actually wants to do is just ask Hinata, because he really needs to know, if Hinata would have kept going, kept laughing and smiling at that girl, kept standing with her in the hallways and bringing her to eat lunch with him and Kageyama, and—
"Yeah," Hinata says. "I just wasn't… we weren't…" He waves his hands around his head, vaguely.
Kageyama knows what they weren't. No one is with Hinata, not the way Kageyama is. Oh, okay… possessive? Yeah, he probably needs to chill, a bit. He thinks this, and then literally not four seconds later, asks,
"So… did you… ki—"
"No!" Hinata shouts into the air, not looking in his direction. Then he looks thoughtful. "She wanted to, though. Don't tell Tanaka or Nishinoya that."
Kageyama snorts, and nods. He doesn't ask why Hinata didn't take the opportunity. He seems like the kind of person who would like to kiss someone, at some point.
Looking back, he thinks they were already both becoming sure of the answer. They just went about arriving at it in different ways.
It's good now, though, to know. To be really, really sure.
(Hinata likes him. Cue periodic amounts of boisterous internal yelling. His face stays expressionless.)
It makes it a little easier to control the nearly constant distraction of wanting to be near, around, alone with Hinata, too. Before, every moment together was like a pocket of affirmation, all the little shared glances, the way they'd let their hands and knees brush, the affection underneath all the arguing. But it had never been quite enough, because he hadn't known, not for sure (he'd been pretty sure). Now these things are all just as special, but there's no waiting, no wondering.
Of course, there is still the matter of The Moment after semi-finals. But, like they agreed to, they can be patient.
At least, that's what Kageyama had thought.
What he failed to take into account is the fact that Hinata has the patience of an eight year old. As the days tick by and Nationals gets closer, and closer, Hinata seems to be having a harder and harder time staying focused. His play during practice has been inconsistent, nothing short of a miracle some times, and frustratingly out of sync at others.
They're three weeks out, and Kageyama is wondering if he should start to worry. The thing is that Hinata has always come through—with his play, for the team, for Kageyama—and so he's never actually had the experience of worrying, before. There are some things that are just constant, and Hinata Shouyou blowing everyone's expectations out of the water is one of them.
So he's not worried, not exactly, when he passes by the open door of Hinata's classroom and sees a single figure still inside, sitting at the edge of one of the desks, staring out the windows. Their classes usually empty out pretty quick, as half of the students hurry to cram school to try and save their usually poor grades, while the other half leave early because they just flat out don't care. Normally, the room would be empty, because Hinata would already be on his way to the gym.
But today, he's not. He sits on the desk and he looks out at the sky.
Kageyama enters the room quietly, but can tell by the tilt of Hinata's head that he has heard him approaching. He doesn't turn around, which means he knows who the footsteps belong to already.
"Hey," he says, without looking.
"Hey," Kageyama replies, coming to stand in front of him. "Going for the cool late appearance thing?"
Hinata snorts. "No. Sorry, I was just… I was thinking."
"Shit," Kageyama says gravely, and Hinata glares at him briefly before laughing. "What about?"
"Mmm, I don't really know," Hinata says, sounding much more like himself. "Nationals seems really far away. But then, other times, it doesn't."
Kageyama leans his hip against the desk. "That makes no sense."
"It does!" Hinata says defensively. "Like, I'm excited, so… gwaaaah, excited. But then at the same time… sometimes I think a lot about afterwards. When I should be looking at what's right in front of me."
Kageyama turns to him, and sees Hinata is staring at him, openly. Neither of them looks away.
"What do you mean?" Kageyama prompts, wondering if this is about what he thinks it's about. He's fairly sure it is.
"I just wish I could be more—focused!" Hinata says, sounding frustrated. "Like… I don't know, how you are."
"You're focused," Kageyama reassures him. "No one practices as hard as you do."
"Yeah, except for the entire rest of the team," Hinata scoffs.
"No," Kageyama says, shifting so that he's standing directly in front of Hinata. "You think I don't watch you? No one else practices like you do."
He realizes that he's now standing in between Hinata's legs, his hands braced on either side of Hinata's slim hips on the desk. Hinata is right at eye level this way, and they're so close.
Hinata's eyes drag downwards to focus on his mouth, lashes open and closing in a flurry when Kageyama can't help but run his tongue over his lips. "You practice like I do," Hinata says softly.
"That's because I can't let you surpass me," Kageyama says.
"What if… what if I don't want…" Hinata exhales a quiet, shaky breath. "What if I want something else, now?"
Kageyama knows what they agreed to. He knows. But he can't help leaning forward, bringing his face in even closer, until they're both looking down through lidded eyes, cheeks red, breath catching. "What do you want?"
Hinata reaches out to close the non-existent space between them, his fingers playing with the buttons on Kageyama's uniform shirt self-consciously. "What if I want to be beside you, instead?"
Kageyama lurches forward the tiniest bit. "Hinata—" This is useless, it's stupid, he wants him—
"What if I want that all the time?" Hinata continues. "What if I'm—what if it's too hard to—"
"Is this…" Kageyama asks, tentative. "Is this about what I said? About… waiting—"
"No!" Hinata says loudly, and Kageyama pulls back. "No, you were right. You're right. Nationals is it, Kageyama, it's everything we've worked for. The two of us."
Kageyama's throat feels tight. "Yeah."
Hinata looks up at him, and Kageyama could reach forward, could have him in his arms so fast, so easily. He is thinking, and analyzing, and regretting. Because Hinata is right. Nationals is theirs, they got there together. It's what they want, both of them—so why can't they have each other, too? Wouldn't that make it even better, maybe?
"It's just three weeks," Hinata murmurs, as he drops his head to Kageyama's shoulder.
"We're gonna win," Kageyama says, firmly. "And then…"
Hinata tilts his head to look up at him. "Then?"
Kageyama shrugs. "Then, whatever. Whatever you want."
Hinata nods. "Okay. Yeah."
After that, there's nothing but to vacate the classroom or both be late, and Kageyama thinks that's the end of it. But practice tells a different story.
They're out of sync from start to finish, and Hinata plays almost like he's back in first year. He fumbles receives, hits serves into the net, misses Kageyama's tosses. That isn't something that happens anymore. Kageyama is concerned.
Are Hinata's nerves back? Has the thought of going to Nationals in their third year affected him that much? Kageyama feels a pang of—not guilt, exactly, and not apprehension. But Hinata is meant to trust. In the team, in himself, in Kageyama. He should know he has nothing to worry about, by now.
"Oy, Hinata," Kageyama calls, after practice. Everyone else is preoccupied, so he wants to say something now—he doesn't want Hinata to feel singled out or overthink everything. Kageyama may not be the most perceptive person in the world, yet—but he understands Hinata far better than he used to. Better than he's ever understood anyone.
"What is it?" Hinata asks, jogging over to him. He sounds resigned.
"You haven't forgotten, right?" Kageyama asks him. "What we promised?"
Hinata blinks. "You mean…" He glances around the gym. "After Nationals?"
"After everything." Kageyama crosses his arms and looks at him. "The world stage. With me, against me, didn't you say we'd get there together? No matter how long it took?"
Hinata looks utterly surprised. "I… what's that have to do with—"
"What doesn't that have to do with it?" Kageyama fires back. "If we want to get there, we have to focus now. We're ready for Nationals."
"I know we are!" Hinata says, voice rising in challenge. "Karasuno is ready."
"And you and me?" Kageyama pushes. "We're ready, too."
For a moment, Hinata doesn't respond, he just stares at Kageyama. Then he nods. "Right."
"Good," Kageyama says. "Go home, get some rest." He touches his hand to Hinata's shoulder, briefly, before letting it drop. Contact between him and Hinata has never been easier, but right now, it's difficult. Now that he knows there's so much more they both want. "Tomorrow, I'll toss to you until you pass out."
Hinata smiles at him. "Sounds good."
Kageyama thinks he looks, and sounds, tired. But of course he does, they've just finished practice.
He should have known to push at that false smile a little harder, but in the end, it isn't long before the dam crumbles anyway. In fact, it happens the very next morning.
It's unusual that the two of them don't meet in the road on their way to school; they have each other's schedules fairly memorized. They usually race from their meeting point to the gym, but the morning following the oddness at school the previous day, Kageyama doesn't run into Hinata. He continues on to the gym, wondering if he should call Hinata—what if he's sick? What if that was the reason for how weird he was acting the day before? But something in him whispers that that isn't it, and as he nears the gym, he hears the telltale squeak of sneakers and the continuous drumming rhythm of a volleyball slamming off the floor of the court.
Hinata is already there—has clearly been there awhile, judging by the amount of balls strewn about the court, or still slowly rolling in motion. He hasn't noticed Kageyama yet—Kageyama watches as he throws a ball against the opposite wall, takes a leap, sends it slamming across the gym with the force of his spike.
He's working hard, but all alone—like he had in middle school. He hasn't had to practice alone in years. All he needs to do is ask Kageyama.
He tosses the balls so quickly, one after the other, throw—leap—spike—repeat; he's out of breath, and getting sloppy, not watching properly, and Kageyama shouts out, just in time to warn Hinata, who manages to avoid landing nearly on a stray ball as it rolls along the floor near him. He still almost loses his footing, but steadies himself, wiping his sweaty face on his t-shirt. He doesn't turn to face Kageyama.
"Morning," Kageyama says carefully. He knows well enough now when to exercise caution.
"Hey," Hinata says. Before Kageyama can say anything else, he asks, "Wanna toss to me?"
They gather up some of the balls and start as usual—Hinata slams down the first one on the other side of the court, but is shaky on the next. He tips the third, and the fourth, misses entirely. Kageyama's tosses have been pinpoint, as usual.
"Want some water?" Kageyama asks. "Let's sit, I just barely walked in."
"You go ahead," Hinata says, ducking under the net to collect the scattered volleyballs again.
"What time did you get here?" Kageyama asks.
Hinata shrugs. "Don't know. Maybe an hour, hour and a half before you?"
Kageyama stares at him. "An hour?"
"Yeah, I just wanted," Hinata waves his hand, "wanted to get in some extra practice. I was off yesterday."
"You're off now," Kageyama says bluntly.
Hinata sort of freezes in place, where he'd been about to pick up one of the volleyballs on the floor. He straightens slowly, and then turns, and Kageyama steels himself, ready to be caught in the fury of that blank-eyed stare, ready to stand his ground. Hinata is off, and they have to do something about it, before it's too late.
Hinata turns, and instead of blankness, his face is a map of confusion and hurt. "I—know," he says, his voice cracking, and Kageyama's will to stand strong is dashed into fragments along with it.
"Shouyou," he says, "tell me what's wrong."
"I—" Hinata stares at him from the other side of the court, eyes wide and upset. "I can't focus. Nationals is—it's here, Kageyama, we have barely any time left, and I can't focus on it, not like—"
"Not like what?" Kageyama asks, bewildered. He's never known anyone to focus, to fixate on this, like Hinata.
"Not like you!" Hinata exclaims, and it sounds like the answer to a different question entirely. Kageyama isn't sure what; he's still having trouble wrapping his head around the fact that Hinata just conceded he was better at something involving volleyball.
"What—I mean—how do you even—" he sputters, but Hinata isn't done.
"Whatever you want," he says.
"You told me, after Nationals, we—" Hinata screws up his face in some mixture of embarrassment and distress that Kageyama can't decipher. "You said, 'whatever you want'. But I can't—I can't stop wanting whatever I want right now! But you—"
"What do you want right now?" Kageyama asks, heart pounding, but Hinata doesn't listen.
"You want what you always want, don't you? You want volleyball," Hinata says. "I'm—I understand that better than anyone, Kageyama. I really wish I could feel that way, too, but I get it—"
"Of course I want volleyball!" Kageyama says, striding up to the net to stare Hinata down through it. He grabs it, twists his fingers in it angrily—how could Hinata not understand? Dimly, he's aware of having been here before—standing on opposite sides of the court, the net snagged in his fingers, words steeped in anger, because sometimes he just doesn't understand Hinata. "I'll always want volleyball, that's never going to change! But two years ago, it's all I had! It's all I cared about, because I didn't have anything else."
Of course he loves volleyball more than anything else. But more than anyone else? He's not stupid. Hinata isn't a thing, a sport, a concept.
Hinata is the most important focus Kageyama's ever had in his life.
"But now I have you!" he yells, furious. Belatedly, he realizes that his tone and the words don't match, which is something he's always been historically bad at. But Hinata knows that.
Hinata drops the ball he's holding. He takes a step forward, then another—then suddenly he's running, and he crashes into the other side of the net where Kageyama holds on so tightly, fingers pushing through the gaps to intertwine with Kageyama's own—and then they're kissing, right through the net, unsteady and desperate and longing. Hinata's mouth is warm, his hands are warm.
Kageyama doesn't know anymore why he wanted to wait for this—except he understands, maybe, how it could become impossible to want anything but this, to focus on something that's not Hinata.
Hinata is the first to break the kiss; he gasps and starts to pull back, but Kageyama does the only thing he can, curls and clamps his hands around Hinata's, so he can't pull away. Hinata starts babbling.
"I—crap, I didn't mean—you don't have to try and make it better, Kageyama," he says. "But I just—I can't stop thinking about this, how I—I want you. It's—my play is getting worse, and everyone else is so focused… you're so focused, you're being a real captain, not like me. I know you're right, I know I'm—an idiot for getting this distracted, but trying to wait is killing me, I'm sorry—"
Kageyama surges forward, presses against the net again to clumsily land his mouth against Hinata's, and Hinata shuts up.
"Why didn't you say anything if you didn't agree?" Kageyama demands, voice still a low whisper. Even he can't bring himself to shout at Hinata, just then.
"I thought you'd be mad," Hinata says, and before Kageyama can say that that's never mattered before, "I thought you'd say I shouldn't play, when everyone else is working so hard. That you didn't want… to play with me."
Kageyama shakes his head emphatically. "I would never say that." He can't comprehend what it would feel like to be afraid of that; to have to imagine Hinata saying those words to him, after everything. "I couldn't play if you weren't next to me. I wouldn't want to."
He watches as understanding dawns in Hinata's eyes. Kageyama is a terrible liar, and he's far from joking now. Volleyball genius, setter soul, king of the court—he doesn't want to be any of those things, if he doesn't have his partner with him.
He ducks, finally, under the net, as Hinata's legs wobble and then give way, and he sinks to his knees on the hard wood of the court in equal parts relief and exhaustion. That won't do—Kageyama is going to force him to take it easy in practice that day, Nationals be damned. Hinata can't play if he wears himself out anyway, but more than that, Kageyama would never risk him getting hurt over something as stupid as these unbiased fears.
"Lie down," he orders.
Hinata looks up at him and shakes his head blearily. "I'm okay."
"You're exhausted," Kageyama huffs. He's irritated, but he means no harm. It's out of worry. "Did you sleep at all last night?"
"I… I'm okay," Hinata says again, which means no, he didn't. Kageyama knows how he gets when he's worked up. He'll just have to take matters into his own hands.
He gets to his knees and scoots forward. Hinata watches him with wide eyes, as he crawls closer, brackets Hinata's shaky knees between his arms so he can lean into him, as close as he can get.
"Lie down," he says again, this time with his lips pressed to Hinata's ear, soft and coaxing. Hinata doesn't argue. He lies back against the gym floor, staring docilely up at Kageyama.
They always arrive early, to get in extra practice, but also just to be alone in the gym, just the two of them. It will be a long while yet before anyone else arrives, which means Kageyama has some time.
Hinata gasps, softly, when Kageyama lays more fully over him, so he can nuzzle his nose into Hinata's soft hair and against the warm skin behind his ear. Hinata thought he hadn't wanted this? He really is an idiot.
"What can I do?" Kageyama asks, nearly pleads. "Tell me."
"You… you really aren't mad? At all?" Hinata whispers, his voice utterly tiny.
To prove he isn't, Kageyama kisses him again, in a line down his jaw before saying, "I'm mad you made me worry."
"I'm sorry," Hinata says.
"It's okay, this time," Kageyama tells him. "And I am, too. I thought I was doing the best thing for you and me, not just—not just for the team. There's a lot to figure out, when you tell someone you love them."
Hinata finally laughs, quiet and soft, and Kageyama presses his face into his neck. "Do you wish I hadn't told you?"
"I'd be even dumber than you, if I wished that," Kageyama tells him, and Hinata turns, so they're looking at each other nose to nose. "I never thought someone as amazing as you would love me."
Hinata's eyes go wide. "Amazing—"
Kageyama kisses him again, presses their lips together to cut him off, turning his words into a muffled moan. "Yeah," he says, pulling back to pant against Hinata's lips, "amazing." Now it's Hinata, who pushes into him, needy, searching. Kageyama tangles a hand in his hair, pulling him closer.
Hinata shifts under him—a little bit, but the way they're lying together, he presses against Kageyama in all the best places, and they both let out twin exhalations of surprise and—oh.
Before Hinata can spiral again, about this new accident, Kageyama grabs his face with both hands. He wants this, too. "I don't want to wait anymore, either."
Hinata breathes shakily. His hands slide up the back of Kageyama's sweatshirt and then clench tightly. "You're okay with this…"
"Why wouldn't I be?" Kageyama asks. "I—I really want you. You're more than just amazing. You're—you're my spiker—"
Hinata squeezes him tighter, tilts his head to kiss him again—he swipes his tongue warm and soft against the corner of Kageyama's mouth, and Kageyama starts to really lose his head. It was stupid to try and act like he could just ignore these feelings until after Nationals, like they could ever be some kind of hindrance. Like touching Hinata, kissing Hinata—making Hinata feel wanted could ever be anything less than necessary.
He rocks his hips against Hinata, and feels him respond, arching off the floor. He doesn't want Hinata to exert himself further, though, so he shushes him, slides one hand down to rest against Hinata's hip. Hinata is hard, Kageyama can feel him through both pairs of shorts. The thought is dizzying.
"I'm your spiker," Hinata mumbles against his mouth, and Kageyama kisses him back bruisingly hard.
"You're my ace, stupid," he says. "I need you, more than anyone else."
Hinata shudders at his words. "You're—you aren't just saying that? Because you're worried I won't be able to play well—"
His doubt is like a knife twisting in Kageyama's heart. He feels like a complete failure. Because he's not just the team's captain, or even Hinata's captain—he's Hinata's best friend, Hinata loves him. Hinata told Kageyama he loves him, and Kageyama made him feel unwanted.
He'll do anything, anything to make this better.
"I don't have to worry about that," he reassures Hinata. "I know you'll play well—I know you'll be incredible, you always are." He thinks about all those games, the reactions from the entire crowd as Hinata blurs across the court, the stunned silence, the cheers, when he spikes. That's his. Hinata is his. "God, I love watching you."
Hinata groans, and rolls up into him, panting. "How come—you never say this stuff normally?"
"It'd go to your head," Kageyama says, kissing a trail down his nose, until he reaches the tip. He rests their foreheads together. "You—" He breaks off with a groan when Hinata circles his hips, rubbing insistently against Kageyama. "You make me feel so lucky. I don't… you're right, I should have told you that. After semi-finals. I feel so lucky you wanted me to be your partner—"
"I had n-no other choice," Hinata says, with a choked laugh; and that's true, but it's become something so much more between them.
"Yeah," Kageyama agrees. "I never thought—that I'd get to touch you like this.” It had been too much to even imagine. “Your hair, and your mouth—and your legs…"
He slides his hand tentatively against Hinata's thigh as he says it, and meets no resistance. Instead, Hinata whines approval beneath him, knees shifting up to grip Kageyama's waist.
"Y-yeah," Kageyama stammers. "You… Hinata, your thighs are perfect."
"Oh my god," Hinata gasps, part amusement, and more arousal.
"All of you is," Kageyama continues, relentlessly. Hinata keens, as the rocking of his hips quickens, becomes unsteady. Kageyama feels like he can barely get words out—it's more intense than he's ever felt, so much building pressure, so much heat, nestled deep inside him and fighting to get out. "You're so—after Nationals, I thought—I wanted—"
"Tell me," Hinata begs, and Kageyama dives for his mouth once more.
"I wanted to take you, after," Kageyama confesses against his lips, "I wanted to be inside of you, I wanted all of you to myself."
"Oh—" Hinata sobs, and then he seizes up, the hands at Kageyama's back, his legs tight at Kageyama's waist, his body below him—he goes rigid, and then shudders, over, and over, and over, crying out high and soft each time. It still echoes inside the gym. It's a perfect sound.
"Did you—" Kageyama starts to say, but Hinata suddenly pushes, rolls him over, and he finds himself on his back, staring up at Hinata as the sun starts to melt through the windows of the gym.
"You're amazing, too," Hinata tells him. He takes Kageyama's face in his hands, and kisses him, kisses him and rocks against him, steadily enough that the something inside Kageyama just builds, and builds, like Hinata is pulling it to the surface with every lingering kiss, until—
He loses his capacity for words when he comes. Hinata drops down on top of him to hug him, which is maybe a little too much pressure and weight for everything else he's feeling, but Kageyama clings, hugs back as hard as he can manage while the rest of his body shakes. It's weird, to feel so out of control and anchored, at the same time.
He trails his fingers up the backs of Hinata's bare thighs reverently, before finding Hinata's hand, the one he spikes with. Kageyama pulls it up to his mouth, so he can kiss Hinata's fingers, his knuckles, his palm. It's still red, from all the practice before Kageyama found him.
Hinata blushes over it. "You don't have to do that… I get it. You're not mad—"
"Be quiet," Kageyama tells him. "I want to. I've wanted to." These are the hands that spike his tosses. But more than that; these are the hands that reached out to him, when he needed it most.
"After Nationals," Hinata says, "I still get to have whatever I want?"
Kageyama digs his knuckles mostly gently into the top of Hinata's head. "There's no point in waiting, now."
Hinata beams at him. "Right now… I want to spike your tosses."
Kageyama realizes he's onto something—he wants to practice with Hinata, wants to feel their synergy on the court more than ever before. He doesn't feel distracted—he feels really, truly focused.
Then he grimaces. "First, we need to clean up."
"Maybe we should both just go commando for today," Hinata suggests, then laughs gleefully at the horrified look on Kageyama's face.
Kageyama considers telling him to shut up. He gets a better idea. "Oy, Hinata… you're pretty when you laugh."
Hinata gurgles, his face turning bright red. It's more effective than yelling at him has ever been, and Kageyama grins wickedly.
"K-Kageyama!" he sputters. "D-don't—"
Kageyama bear hugs him, refusing to let go as Hinata struggles futilely. "Oh, I will. Whenever you least expect it."
"You're the worst," Hinata informs him.
"You're the best," Kageyama replies, his evil smile widening at the screech Hinata lets out.
He really means it, and he'll tell Hinata again later, when it will be received better. But for now, he squashes Hinata's cheeks between his fingers, tilts his indignant face upward, and kisses it.
"Let's go win Nationals, dumbass."
Embarrassed or not, Hinata still wraps his arms around him, and kisses him back. "Let's go win everything."
Kageyama knows his confidence is back, and that's as good as winning already.