The movie theater is dark, and for a moment, the action sequences have died down. The copious explosions and screaming and shooting have all faded nearly to a mute—on screen, the gritty hero and brave heroine have found brief respite together.
Hinata loves stuff like this—he can't tear his eyes away from the screen, shoving popcorn into his mouth, waiting with bated breath to see what happens next. Even though it's a quiet moment, he's riveted. Most people might think a guy like him—a loud and excitable sports fanatic—wouldn't really be into these parts of films. The mushy parts.
But there's just something about them that he can't help but get totally into. There's always that awesome thrill when the two main characters click; that undercurrent of closeness, that unfailing bond of trust. They'd go to any lengths for each other, climb to the top of the world, and together, they're undefeatable. Hinata is just, like, really into that kind of thing, for some reason.
Casually, he leans over to take of sip of his drink and sneaks a look at his seatmate.
Kageyama is staring hard at the screen and the telltale wrinkle burrowing its way between his brows tips Hinata off to the fact that he is, unsurprisingly, not interested in this part. Truthfully, Kageyama has probably looked like that during the explodey parts as well, it's just that Hinata hadn't thought to check because those moments were too exciting, and too much was going on. But Kageyama's tastes generally run towards sports shows or battle anime with lots of inspirational shouting and absolutely no romantic plot threads whatsoever. Movies where the leads don't blatantly call upon the power of friendship and spend lots of time wooing one another tend to lose him fairly quickly, but it was Hinata's turn to pick what they saw, so here they are. At least Kageyama's not asleep.
Hinata sighs and faces forward again. He guesses it was too much to ask for, anyway—that Kageyama might show some interest in this stuff eventually. It's not like Hinata is holding out hope, but he'd thought maybe, if Kageyama had started to come around to it, he might also come around to other stuff as well. Like maybe…
Maybe Hinata might actually have a chance. At being someone Kageyama might not mind doing mushy stuff with.
But in the end, Hinata doesn't think that's in the cards at all. He doesn't even know if Kageyama likes anyone that way, let alone another guy, let alone Hinata, his rival turned partner turned something approximating a friend. Now, in their third year, Hinata is pretty confident they can be called friends. It's actually kind of amazing that Kageyama likes coming to the movies now with him so often, but he's been much more agreeable more often as of late. It's almost becoming kind of a regular thing.
He sits up straighter as the stillness of the movie scene is disrupted by an escalating argument between the two leads. She wants to fight, to save their people; he wants to run, live to see another day. Hinata's heart thuds in his chest, as he wonders who can possibly convince the other, when they're both blinded by their feelings.
As Brave Heroine gets fed up, and tries to leave, Gritty Hero snaps—he slams his hands against the wall on either side of her head, his voice broken as he says: "Then let them die. You're the only one who matters to me anymore!"
Hinata writhes around in his seat, beside himself. So good, ahhh, it's the best when they do these dramatic confessions. He's so gleeful he almost misses the actual kiss, the hero ducking his head to finally capture the heroine's mouth. She is still pinned back against the wall but seems perfectly happy where she is, flinging her arms around his neck now that the revelation has been made.
"Sit still," Kageyama mumbles, and Hinata grins into his hands.
"Sorry," he whispers, "I just love it when they do that!"
After the movie finishes and they step out of the theater into the too-bright sunlight, Hinata starts talking a mile a minute about what he liked (everything), what he didn't like (nothing), and what he'd definitely want to happen if they ever made any sequels. He talks all the way back to the bus stop, where he finally pauses for breath.
"What'd you think?" he asks Kageyama eagerly.
Kageyama nods. "I liked it.
"Yeah?" Hinata asks, happily. If Kageyama had not liked it, he would have said so, so that's a win.
"I told you it'd be good."
"I didn't say it wouldn't be good, dumbass."
"Okay, okay!" Hinata grins. "What was your favorite part?"
Kageyama thinks about this. "I liked that one fight scene on the bridge."
"Oooh, yes!" Hinata punches the air in his excitement. "With the helicopter and all the guys shooting and then the bad guy comes in with his sword—like fwing, kssss-shing!"
"Yeah, that was cool," Kageyama agrees. "It'd be cool to know how to swordfight."
Hinata contemplates him—he has a sudden vision of Badass Kageyama, wielding a katana and mowing enemies down with his trademark glare. It goes without saying that Hinata is also in this scene, and also being Badass—maybe he'd have two katanas, or maybe a bow and arrow, yeah—he nods to himself.
"What parts did you like?" Kageyama asks.
"Oh!" Hinata thinks. "I liked the bridge part, too! And that chase scene, the long one on the motorcycle… and the fight at the fancy party—"
"And you liked the kissing part," Kageyama reminds him.
Hinata blushes furiously. "I was happy for them!"
"You got more excited at that part than, like, any other part—" Kageyama says, instinctively blocking when Hinata tries to jab him in the side. He's grinning that evil "got you" grin of his.
"It was an important part!" Hinata insists. "It was like, gwaaah, they'd been through so much together and both of them didn't want to lose each other! And then when he finally tells her, there's a kabedon! Like, DON, Kageyama, you could hear it! My whole heart was like… fuh-shaaah…"
He trails off. Kageyama is staring at him.
"What the hell is a kabedon?" he asks.
Hinata's mouth falls open. "Are you serious?"
"Don't ask me if I'm serious when you know I'm being serious!" Kageyama says, swatting at him. "Just tell me!"
"How do you not know what a kabedon is?" Hinata can't get over this. "It's—it's exactly what it sounds like! There's a wall… and then…" He smacks his hands together. "Don!"
"Don," Kageyama repeats, blankly.
"That's the sound it makes, Kageyama," Hinata says impatiently. "When you hit the wall. It's cool and dramatic."
The bus pulls up and they line up to get on it. Kageyama shakes his head, looking totally unconvinced. "What's so great about it? Like, just trapping someone against a wall? Seems weird."
"Weird?" Hinata shakes his head. "Ugh, of course you don't get it."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Kageyama asks as they take their seats on the bus.
"It's romantic," Hinata says, with as much of an air of superiority as he can muster. "Something you would know nothing about."
He's met with silence, this time. When he looks over at Kageyama, his friend is glaring at the back of the seat in front of him, arms crossed. Hinata narrows his eyes at him.
"Why do you look angrier than normal?" he asks.
Kageyama whips his head around to glare at him instead of the seat. Hinata puts his arms up in karate chop defense position, just in case.
"If it's so cool and dramatic," he says, "prove it."
"Haah?" Hinata squawks. "How am I supposed to do that?"
"That's not my job to figure out," Kageyama says.
"Why's it my job, though?" Hinata asks.
"Because you're the one who thinks it's roman—you said I don't know anything about it," Kageyama says. "But maybe you just like… stupid things!"
"I do not like stupid things!" Hinata argues. "Fine! I'll prove it. And then you have to admit I was right."
Kageyama scoffs. "Like that'll ever happen."
But little does he know, Hinata is already planning his next move. "We'll see," he says ominously. "We'll see."
It's after a practice match at Karasuno that Hinata goes for it. After a game is really the only time that makes sense—at any other time, he doesn't know that he could do it. Sure, he talked big on the bus, but Kageyama has no idea that all Hinata's fascination with romance has a lot more to do with him that Hinata has let on.
Around game time is when he has the most stored up energy, the most adrenaline, the ability to overcome his nerves and his queasy stomach. But before a game, they're too focused on what's about to happen out on the court to think about much else. So it's after that Hinata chooses his moment to strike.
They end up losing the practice match, which isn't that surprising. Karasuno's track record for practices tends to run about fifty-fifty. They always try lots of new stuff, and sometimes it just doesn't work out. However, this gives Hinata an idea for how to make his attempt most effective.
There's only one place he can really do this without everyone seeing him do it, which is out of the question; his juniors would definitely laugh themselves sick and Tsukishima would never let him live it down. After the other team has left and they all hit the showers, Hinata whistles nonchalantly as he makes his way down the row. The sound of water blasting the floor fills the room; it's loud, which is exactly what he needs. Instead of taking an empty stall, he ducks into the very last one. It's occupied.
It's not Hinata's intent to be a weirdo—he's not there to ogle Kageyama, even though Kageyama's back is to him and he has his head down, water streaming over his broad shoulders and long torso. Hinata tears his gaze back upwards.
"Kageyama," he murmurs.
Kageyama wheels around so fast he slips; he manages to catch himself against the wall, but he still slides partway down it. Before he can yell, Hinata darts forward, slamming his hands against the tile on either side of Kageyama's shoulders. Kageyama hasn't straightened up fully yet, so Hinata doesn't even have to look that far up to stare him in the eye.
"Wh-what—" Kageyama tries to ask, looking somewhat panicked.
"I could tell you were doubting your toss today." Hinata says quietly, so he can't be overheard.
Kageyama blinks at him—he's blinking a lot, with all the water dripping from his hair, which hangs in his eyes like a black curtain, half blinding him. He presses his lips together and looks away. It's hard to tell, his skin is already pink from the hot water, but he might be blushing.
"Not doubting," he mumbles. "But I can do better."
"You can," Hinata agrees. "And you will. But either way, I'll always be there next to you."
Kageyama meets his gaze again; his eyes are dark and wide, and Hinata remembers that he's still got that little boy in the white and blue uniform somewhere inside him, always reminding him not to screw up, or else be left alone again.
He reaches out and brushes Kageyama's hair out of his face, and then peers at him scrutinizingly, so he can see the person he's grown into a little bit better.
"Don't worry so much," he tells Kageyama. Kageyama nods wordlessly.
For a moment, Hinata almost forgets why he's there, in such an awkward place and position and time. The water thunders down around them like rain, and Hinata knows it's just the shower temperature, but he swears he can feel the heat between them, from being so close. Kageyama is strangely indulgent nowadays, whenever Hinata wants to get in his personal space… this is closer than usual, though, and definitely… more naked than usual. Kageyama's lips are wet, water beading on his upper lip… Hinata could just lean forward, right now…
He pulls away.
"Looks like I proved it," he says casually, despite how fast his heart is beating.
"Proved… what?" Kageyama asks.
"I just kabedonned you," Hinata says. He flashes a peace sign. "Wasn't I cool?"
Realization dawns on Kageyama's face. He gapes in disbelief and Hinata cackles and runs away, sure he's about to explode.
Except, he doesn't.
They clear out of the showers and everyone grabs their stuff from the club room and they lock up and Kageyama still hasn't said anything. He hasn't called Hinata stupid or shoved him or grabbed his head. He is frowning harder than usual, but he goes along with Hinata as always to get his bike from the rack.
"Hinata," he says suddenly, as Hinata is unlocking his bike.
Hinata turns, bracing himself. Here it comes…
"I—I can admit when I lose, you know," Kageyama mutters, very reluctantly. "This means we're… fifty-six to fifty-four. You're ahead by two."
He looks like he's in pain. Hinata squints, trying to work out what he means. They hadn't even raced today.
"What are you…"
"It was cool!" Kageyama bursts out. "You were right!"
Hinata's mouth falls open. Then, he's laughing, so hard he doubles over, and Kageyama stalks forward, to try and put him in a headlock.
"I knew it," Hinata wheezes, struggling to escape. "I knew you were impressed—"
"I wasn't expecting it!" Kageyama says angrily.
"That's the point, Kageyama," Hinata says.
"I'll—I'm going to—" Kageyama gives up on trying to trap him. "Okay! Laugh now. But just wait… I won't lose to you."
"What," Hinata says, "like you're suddenly going to become a kabedon master?"
The idea itself is hilarious. Kageyama has all the timing and subtlety of a tyrannosaurus in a china shop. Hinata sees no reason to be wary.
"We'll see," Kageyama says darkly. "We'll see."
Hinata, in fact, sees the very next day.
He does his best to focus in class, though the days are turning warm and he sits right next to the window—the breeze blowing in from outside is billowy and cool in the sunny classroom. It's hard to concentrate on the lesson when all he can think about is summer approaching, which means Tokyo, and summer training camp.
The weeks of training camp are still probably Hinata's favorite time of year. Not only do they get to see all their Tokyo friends, but from sunup to sundown, they get to play volleyball non-stop. Someone has to tell Hinata to slow down or he'll puke every year, and even then he's still had some close calls. He wonders, now that they're the upperclassmen, who will tell him not to overwork himself. Probably Yachi. But maybe…
He chews on the end of his pencil idly. He doesn't want to get too hopeful, but maybe it'd be Kageyama. Not borne of worry, of course—they both know the principles of pacing themselves; it's just that they don't often want to. No, Kageyama would be concerned Hinata would wear himself out before they got an adequate amount of time to practice.
And that's fine! Hinata leans his chin on his hand and stares out the window (and wonders if he looks like a manga protagonist). It's fine if Kageyama is concerned for him only in very specific occasions. Just like the way Kageyama looked up at him in the shower yesterday was completely, utterly fine… he'd just thought the kabedon thing was cool…
Fukurodani, Hinata muses, lost in thought, has actual baths. Sometimes he and Kageyama are the last ones there, whether because they stayed late to practice or clean up or just talk too long about strategy while soaking in the warm water. Hinata likes the volleyball parts of camp, but, he also likes the being with Kageyama all the time parts of camp, too…
The sound of the bell chiming and the teacher announcing the end of class for the day jolts him out of his reverie. He stuffs his things hurriedly into his bag, wanting to get to practice as soon as he can, as usual.
He steps outside and takes about four steps from his classroom, when he hears it.
It starts like a low rumble, getting louder and louder with each passing second. He hears faint shrieks, gasps, a voice shouting, "Watch out—!"
Hinata turns, slowly, and sees it: a rising commotion at the distant end of the hallway. The student body parts down the middle, and right in the center of the path, a tall, dark-haired, terrifying-faced individual sprints toward Hinata at maximum speed.
"HIIINAAAATAAAAAAA!" Kageyama shouts at the top of his lungs when he spots him, probably deafening any unfortunate victims in a ten foot radius. Arms pumping, head down to reduce wind resistance, he flies down the hallway and then, before Hinata can make the decision to escape out a nearby window, he arrives. Hinata plasters himself against the wall behind him, wondering what he could have possibly done to deserve the hell descending upon him.
Hinata screams, eyes squeezing shut tight reflexively, arms covering his entire head. The sound of Kageyama pounding the wall behind him is a reverberating slam throughout the entire hallway.
For a long moment, Hinata cowers, expecting the shouting to follow. But it doesn't come. Very cautiously, he opens his eyes the barest crack, peering through the gap between his arms.
Kageyama is just standing there, boxing Hinata in with his arms, staring at him with a furious, unblinking stare. It's not mad-furious, though, but concentrating-furious; Hinata has learned to tell them apart. He lowers his arms, rapid breathing beginning to slow.
As soon as he makes confirmed eye contact with Kageyama, Kageyama draws back, and puts his hands on his knees, huffing and puffing. He must have sprinted from the other building.
"What is happening," Hinata says weakly.
"Well?" Kageyama pants. "How was that?" He straightens up and wipes his forehead.
"What?" Hinata asks. "How was… what?"
"My kabedon," Kageyama says, like this should be the most obvious thing in the world.
Hinata feels like he's in mourning. People around them are starting to point and whisper, and he hears some of them repeating, kabedon? to one another. He grabs Kageyama's arm and yanks him around the corner.
"That was," Hinata says, once they're alone, "terrible! What the hell—"
"What!" Kageyama looks affronted. "That was way better than your kabedon! It was more dramatic!"
"In what way?!" Hinata yelps. "I worked a shower scene into mine—"
"Mine was louder—"
"That's not the point!" Hinata tells him, unleashing a flurry of punches and smacks at Kageyama. Most of them don't connect or are blocked, and the ones that land feel distressingly ineffective when met with the implacable surface that is Kageyama's abs. Still, Hinata hopes Kageyama is very sorry.
"What is the point then?" Kageyama asks, trying to grab Hinata's hands with his own. "You said it yourself, it's best when you can hear it—"
"But there's other stuff, too!" Hinata says. "For it to be really dramatic, you can't just—just do it out of nowhere! There has to be a reason for it. A dramatic reason, you've got to time it—"
"Now I've got to time them?" Kageyama asks, sounding thoroughly aggravated.
"Yes—look." Hinata crosses his arms. "When I told you yesterday, it wasn't just a surprise because I did it suddenly, right? It was also because… I thought about how you felt. I can tell when you're being hard on yourself, sometimes, and I wanted to say something to make sure you weren't."
Kageyama's pout fades a fraction. "You… did?"
"Yeah, stupid," Hinata says. "Neither of us likes it when you doubt your tosses, yeah?"
Slowly, Kageyama nods. He bites his lip, and Hinata instantly averts his eyes. Kageyama's contemplative lip-biting has always been hard for him to handle; he has kind of a small mouth for how loud he yells, and his top lip is little and bow-shaped, and his bottom lip is round and plump. When he's grumpy, his mouth gets especially small, and it's stupid and cute. Hinata hates it.
"So…" Kageyama says, "I can't just make it a surprise by scaring you."
"No," Hinata sighs, "no, that's probably not the best way to go about it."
"I have to surprise you…" Kageyama is frowning hard, "emotionally, too."
Hinata snaps his fingers. "That's a good way of putting it."
"Okay…" Kageyama glares at him like somehow, the entire encounter was Hinata's fault. Actually, that might be true—Hinata isn't sure at this point. "This time didn't count. Next time, you better be ready."
"We're gonna keep doing this, huh," Hinata deadpans.
"Until I win," Kageyama confirms.
Being back at training camp feels different than all the years before it, but not in a bad way. Sure, it's weird, being the oldest; but it's also pretty awesome being the ones all the younger kids look up to. Sometimes even literally; Hinata is taller than some of the first year liberos this year.
The first few days of camp are blissful, a haze of sore muscles and winning scores and loser's penalties. It feels so much like home that it lulls Hinata into a false sense of security.
It's been a couple weeks since Kageyama's first ill-fated kabedon, and Hinata has started to think he's forgotten the whole thing entirely. Kageyama doesn't give up easily, especially not where beating Hinata at something is concerned. But he will, on occasion, just flat out forget about things if he isn't fully interested in them. It hadn't ever seemed like he was all that invested in the concept of kabedon, only winning; and so it seems likely that the thought may have ceased to exist inside his head, which only has room for so much—mainly volleyball, and yogurt.
On the third day of camp, Hinata discovers that he has once heavily underestimated Kageyama's passion for one-upping him. In Hinata's defense, he hasn't been entirely focused on their challenge. With both Nishinoya and Ennoshita gone there's more holes in their defense than ever before, so he's been trying to work on his receives. They have a new libero, a talented kid, but Noya's shoes were never going to be easy to fill, and as one of the third years, Hinata wants to help pick up the slack. So right now, that means splitting his time away from spiking more than ever before. It's rewarding when it pays off with save after solid save, but when it doesn't…
Fwweeeet! The whistle blows shrilly, signalling the end of the match.
Hinata slams his palm on the court in frustration. "Dammit!"
He'd connected with the ball that time, but it hadn't been clean. It had spun out of bounds, the winning point for Nekoma. A lot of their scored points that match had been off of Hinata's failed receives.
But he knows he's getting better all the time. He takes a deep breath and jumps to his feet, cupping his hands to his mouth to yell out, "Karasuno, two rounds of flying falls, thanks to yours truly! Line up!" He takes the first dive.
Even he's pretty exhausted by the time they get to take a brief breather. He guzzles water, already eager to work on his receives more in the next game.
"Oy," someone says. Hinata turns and almost jumps out of his skin as arms come shooting into his field of vision. And then he's pinned against the wall, staring up at a looming, serious Kageyama—Hinata hadn't even heard him approaching. Everyone on Karasuno is watching them, probably wondering if a fight is about to break out.
Hinata, meanwhile, is very self-conscious about the way he probably still has water on his chin from drinking too fast. His face is probably red, and he also probably smells terrible; it stands to reason that Kageyama would be in the same state, but somehow, no. This close, Hinata can smell him—sweaty, for sure, but in a nice way. Hinata doesn't really know how someone can be nicely sweaty, but Kageyama has managed it, he always does. Disheveled and musky, with his damp white T-shirt clinging to him, he looks strong and determinedly athletic.
"Yes?" Hinata asks, voice high-pitched.
"Your receives still need a ton of work," Kageyama growls.
"I—" Hinata grits his teeth. "I know that, I don't need you to tell me—"
"Just hurry up, so I can toss for you again soon."
Hinata trails away mid-sentence. "Huh?"
"We'll pick up the slack so you can focus on what you need to do," Kageyama says. "At least you don't suck like you used to. You're getting better."
"Th-thank you?" Hinata splutters. His heart has forgotten to beat a couple times, now.
Kageyama nods and steps back. Hinata watches as he clenches one of his big hands into a fist and whispers, quietly, "Yus."
"Why are you 'yus'-ing?" Hinata asks, because this is what Kageyama usually does when he is promised food or wins a bet.
"That was better," Kageyama says. "It was surprising, I knew you were upset about the game, I said a cool line—"
Hinata puts his face in his hands and groans. "This is still the kabedon thing."
"What else would it be?" Kageyama asks blankly.
"What if I just… say you won?" Hinata asks. He doesn't know that he can take much more of this. Firstly, Kageyama seems determined to attempt it in as many public venues as is possible, which is sure to make people ask questions, and Hinata will be forced to explain everything—and that might be the tipping point, it might make Kageyama realize, that Hinata has this stupid crush.
Secondly, it just isn't good for Hinata's health, or his conviction not to spill the truth, when Kageyama keeps getting so close to him like that, looms over him like that, looks at him so intensely.
"I don't want you to give me the win," Kageyama says sourly, and Hinata curses inwardly, because of course Kageyama doesn't. The taller boy glares at him suspiciously.
"What's that look for?" Hinata asks.
"It's an unfair advantage," Kageyama says.
"The whole challenge!" Kageyama puts a hand on his hip. "You can't challenge me to something and be the judge of it. This is rigged!"
"Maybe that means we just have to think of a new challenge—" Hinata tries, but Kageyama isn't having it.
"No, no," he says, "this isn't over." Dramatically, he turns and storms away across the court.
"That can't be good…" Hinata sighs.
It's later that evening that Hinata discovers Kageyama has taken a different approach to his attempts—namely, he seems to be actually trying to learn what to do instead of just wildly guessing, which was always doomed to failure.
Hinata is walking back from the toilet to the room they're all sharing when he hears voices. Normally he wouldn't give it a second thought—but then he hears Kageyama's voice, followed by Tsukishima's. That is definitely unusual, and he immediately creeps quietly to the corner to peep around it.
His two classmates are standing there—with Kuroo Tetsurou, of all people. Kuroo-san still comes back fairly frequently during camps; he says it's because they're short-staffed in summer, but Hinata has overheard Tsukishima saying it's because Kuroo is a mother hen who can't stand to leave his eggs unattended before they hatch. Personally, Hinata thinks there is one very tall, glasses-wearing egg in particular that Kuroo is concerned with, but he is wise enough (scared enough of Tsukishima's wrath) to keep these opinions to himself.
"So that's what that was, earlier?" Kuroo asks, rubbing at his chin earnestly.
"Yeah." Kageyama shrugs. "I don't know what I'm doing wrong, but—I know it's something."
"How do you figure that?" Kuroo asks.
"Because I can—" Kageyama grits his teeth, clamping down on his words for a second.
"Spit it out, Kageyama, we don't have all—" Tsukishima starts to say.
"I can tell when his heart is pounding!" Kageyama says loudly and abruptly. Kuroo and Tsukishima both stare at him.
Around the corner, Hinata claps his hands to his mouth to stop the tiny "Eep!" he makes from reaching their ears. He has a brief moment of panic. Kageyama can tell?! Does that mean Kageyama can tell right now—
"He just, gets this look on his face," Kageyama continues.
Oh, Hinata thinks, breathing out a quiet sigh of relief.
"His eyes get all wide and his cheeks get red and he, like, forgets how to close his mouth?" Kageyama tells them. "I don't… know how else to explain it, except I can tell, and I think that's what a kabedon is supposed to do, only I don't know how to do it."
Tsukishima opens his mouth to say something, but Kuroo holds up a hand, and he falls silent, looking deeply irritable.
"Alright," Kuroo says, "in order to assess you properly, I'm going to need a demonstration."
"You'll help me?" Kageyama asks excitedly.
"I could never turn away someone in pursuit of noble victory," Kuroo says, a hand over his heart. "Okay, first things first—what are your intentions, when you're setting up the play."
"The play… you can't be serious," Tsukishima repeats, incredulously. He is ignored.
"Surprise him," Kageyama says. "Catch him off guard."
Kuroo nods contemplatively. "I see where you're coming from, but I don't think that's gonna cut it." He leans back against the wall. "Here, okay, give me your best effort."
Kageyama nods and then, after psyching himself up for a moment, suddenly pitches forward, slamming his hands on either side of Kuroo's head. Kuroo literally jumps. Tsukishima bursts out laughing.
"What," Kageyama asks, turning to face him. "What?"
"Ah, okay," Kuroo says. "So, Kageyama… I think maybe your entry there is a bit too… dynamic."
"But it's supposed to make the noise," Kageyama says. "It has to be loud."
"I think that can be a secondary goal," Kuroo tells him, a bit gently. "And you don't have to necessarily slap the wall, either."
"How else am I supposed to do it?" Kageyama asks.
"Switch places with me," Kuroo tells him, so Kageyama obliges, leaning against the wall. "Okay, so, Hinata-kun will also be looking up at you when you do this, but you can come in a bit more slowly, alright? Something like this…"
Instead of abusing the poor, innocent wall, Kuroo foregoes the slam. He leans forward, and presses his palm to the wall a little bit above Kageyama's head, smirking at him slightly. His other hand, he rests lower, near Kageyama's hip. The net result is that Kageyama isn't as boxed in by the straight on attempt he usually tries; it's less confrontational and more relaxed. Kageyama looks a little skeptical.
"He's right," Tsukishima speaks up, unexpectedly. "You don't want to terrify him, he's already easily scared."
Hinata sniffs. This is not untrue but he will still make Tsukishima pay for that later.
"You do want to surprise him," Kuroo agrees. "But you don't want to make him run away. The most successful kabedon is one the object of the kabedon… kinda likes."
Kageyama frowns. "How can I make him like it, though?"
"Maybe, instead of thinking about it like you're trapping him, it's like, you're shielding him, instead?" Kuroo suggests.
This seems to click with Kageyama, who nods. "He hides behind me when he's scared of things, sometimes."
"Exactly—wait, are you serious?" Kuroo asks, pressing his hands to his cheeks in disbelief. "That's adorable—"
As Hinata wishes he could cease to exist, Tsukishima clears his throat loudly, and Kuroo refocuses.
"Right, okay!" he says encouragingly. "Next—what are you saying to him, exactly? Looked, uh… a little intense, from where I was standing."
"He told me to target his emotions," Kageyama confirms. "So, I was trying to remind him that, even when his shitty receives lose us games, the rest of the team will always be at his back."
Kuroo's expression is that of a man who has realized that, not only has he just stepped in a monumental pile of shit on his lawn, but he also forgot to wear shoes when he left the house. Tsukishima shrugs.
"This is what I deal with every day," he says.
"Okay!" Kuroo says, recovering heroically. "That's—it's a start."
"Is it?" Tsukishima wonders.
"But maybe," Kuroo speaks over him, "instead, you could make it a bit more personal? Something that's more between just the two of you, that he'd like."
He motions for Kageyama to try again, and Kageyama leans in, mimicking the way Kuroo had positioned his arms before.
"Hinata…" he says, as Kuroo appears to wait with bated breath, "...nice receive."
"No!" Kuroo yells, putting a hand over his mouth to quiet himself while Tsukishima snake-eyes him. "No—something more special, maybe that's a better word for it."
"That would be special to Hinata," Kageyama insists, and Hinata honestly has to agree.
"You're probably right, but, I'm thinking something more… in-intimate?" Kuroo tries.
Oh, god, Hinata thinks.
"Intimate…" Kageyama repeats, looking angry about the very concept.
"Okay, Kageyama," Kuroo says, massaging his temples. "What's something you'd only say to Hinata, that no one else would say to him? Something… meaningful. To both of you."
Kageyama stares at the floor for a good long while, before looking up at Kuroo. "I've got something."
They take up their positions again and Kuroo nods gamely. Kageyama takes a deep breath.
"I want," he says, "to make you invincible."
Hinata pulls back around the corner, his hand pressed to his chest. His heart is definitely hammering, right now, thudding so loudly inside his body he's sure they'll be able to hear it. Kageyama would only ever say those words to him? And he thinks they're meaningful… On some level, Hinata had known, that that promise of theirs had always been special. But they'd never really acknowledged it out loud, before. Not like that.
Tsukishima is saying something Hinata doesn't really catch, in his distraction, but then Kageyama says, "What do you mean it's lame?" and Hinata pokes his head back around the corner. He wants to run over to them, to hug Kageyama, to tell stupid Tsukishima that it isn't lame, it's the best thing ever, but he doesn't want to give himself away. Instead, he just watches.
"Not lame to you, I'm sure," Tsukishima says. "Come on, King, you know us commoners just don't share your very fine taste."
Kageyama's eyes narrow—he might not hate being called that as much anymore, and honestly, given how Tsukishima is, the nickname is more affectionate than anything else at this point. But they all know Kageyama is the worst at handling being teased.
"You haven't been any help this whole time," he accuses Tsukishima, who blinks at him.
"Who, at any point during all this, said I wanted to help?" he asks.
"Like I'd need your help, anyway," Kageyama says scathingly, "you're probably even worse than I am."
"Oooh," Kuroo goads.
Tsukishima smiles thinly. Then, without warning, while Kuroo is still hovering between the two of them making showdown noises, he turns—planting a hand on Kuroo's chest and forcefully pushing him up against the wall again. In the span of blinking, he has his knee wedged between Kuroo's legs, his forearm resting on the wall above the former team captain's head. He trails lazy, disinterested fingers up Kuroo's sternum, before settling underneath his chin, tipping Kuroo's head upward with the barest press of one long finger.
Kuroo's mouth hangs open as he stares at Tsukishima, absolutely stunned.
"That's it!" Kageyama says excitedly, forgetting his and Tsukishima's eternal feud for the moment. He points at Kuroo. "That's the look! His heart is pounding!"
"Oh, definitely," Tsukishima says, his smirk turning downright evil. He doesn't take his eyes away from Kuroo's. "I can tell just like you can, Kageyama."
Hinata can see the gears in Kageyama's head whirring into overdrive. He is, Hinata thinks, probably royally screwed.
"One more thing," Tsukishima says, nonchalantly turning away from Kuroo, who looks like he needs some time to pull himself together. "Try not to keep doing this stuff in public."
"Okay, but why not?" Kageyama asks.
"Because I don't want to have to see it—"
Kuroo quickly cuts Tsukishima off. "Because results will be better one-on-one!"
"Understood," Kageyama says, as Hinata silently thanks Tsukishima for actually being helpful for once, even if he was about to be an asshole about it.
"Well." Kuroo clears his throat. "Thank you, Kageyama-kun."
"Yes, thank you," Tsukishima agrees.
"Why are you both thanking me?" Kageyama asks. "I'm the one who needed help."
Tsukishima pushes his glasses up on his nose smugly. "Oh, no reason. Ah, but if you talk to Yamaguchi when you get back, tell him I'm cat-sitting. He'll know what it means."
Kageyama looks very perplexed, but nods agreeably. "Okay."
Tsukishima and Kuroo leave him standing in the hallway, and Hinata watches a little while longer, as Kageyama shakes out his shoulders, and then…
He starts to practice, against the empty wall, bracing his hands against it at different heights, in different formations; he even tries the forearm lean like Tsukishima had, before shaking his head and changing positions again. Hinata hides again, slumping back against the wall.
He has no idea what to do. He should just figure out a way to put a stop to all this—but Kageyama won't stop until he feels like he's proved himself, and anyway… it's not entirely like Hinata wants him to stop. The whole thing is funny, and silly, and stupid, but Kageyama is clearly determined as hell. It's not hurting anyone.
Except, for the parts of Hinata that die a little every time Kageyama gets close to him and tries to make his heart beat faster.
He sighs. Then, he starts whistling loudly, counting to five before skipping around the corner. As expected, Kageyama is standing there, though he looks very stiff, as though he's just been caught doing something embarrassing. Which he almost was.
"Oh, hey!" Hinata says brightly. "What are you still doing out here?"
"I was…" Kageyama says, "I was just headed to the room."
Hinata fakes a huge yawn. "Let's go, then. I'm so sleepy!"
They fall into step together down the hallway. Kageyama feels fidgety, at Hinata's side, and Hinata peers up at him, wondering what to say.
"About this whole kabedon thing…"
Kageyama shakes his head. "I told you already, I'm working on it! I always give you time to work on volleyball stuff, so—"
"I swear I'll judge you fairly," Hinata tells him. Kageyama pauses mid-word.
"Oh," he says, instead of whatever rant he'd been about to go on.
"You trust me, right?" Hinata asks.
Kageyama shoots him a look. "Of course I do, dumbass."
"Good," Hinata says. "So just… keep trying, okay?
After a moment, Kageyama smiles to himself. "I will, then."
The thing Hinata has learned is that when Kageyama sets his mind to something, he usually manages to do it. This has held true even for math, and that one memorable time in second year when Hinata bet him that he couldn't go two weeks without consuming dairy products.
So it's not really out of the question that Kageyama would, inevitably, figure out how to kabedon. It's just that Hinata is vastly underprepared.
It happens in stages. There's still more awkward, ineffective half-attempts along the path that Hinata can shake off almost as easily as though he were never affected in the first place.
But then comes an afternoon where they're both sitting in their usual lunch spot outside the gym, so they can get in some practice if they finish eating in time. Hinata has pork curry with an egg on top that day, and Kageyama has a stuffed bread roll he's trying to get Hinata to trade him. Hinata staunchly refuses.
"You're so annoying," Kageyama growls, as Hinata scoops up as much curry and rice as he can, wafting the chopsticks under Kageyama's face while giggling.
"It's my food, Kageyama," he says, bringing it to his own mouth.
Hinata gasps slightly, as Kageyama shifts forward onto his knees, and thuds one hand against the wall near Hinata's head. With his other hand, he grabs Hinata's wrist, holding it in place as he ducks his head, and eats the morsel of food straight from Hinata's chopsticks, where they hover near Hinata's open mouth.
Kageyama licks his lips, before darting his eyes up to look through his bangs at Hinata.
"Tastes good," he confirms, and Hinata nearly drops his chopsticks.
The truly unnerving (sexy) part of this is that Kageyama makes no mention of this being a kabedon attempt. He just sits back and looks satisfied with himself, although that could also be because he has gotten exactly what he wanted, which is pork curry.
"That was a good one," Hinata says softly, looking down into his food. His heart is fluttering, just from Kageyama eating his food. He can feel himself blushing. "You've gotten, um, good…"
Suddenly, there's a hand on his face, strong fingers grasping his chin. He gasps, eyes widening, as Kageyama turns his head so he can see Hinata's expression, dark eyes peering into Hinata's own. He looks thoughtful.
"It was alright," he says decisively. "I can do better."
He goes back to his bread roll and Hinata is left speechless, wondering if he'll survive Kageyama's next few attempts.
He doesn't have to wait long to find out. The next weekend, Hinata stays at Kageyama's house so they can strategize for an upcoming game. These are, in Hinata's opinion, the best kind of weekends. There's the slow walk home in the evenings after they lock up the clubroom; the arguing over what to eat for dinner, whether they'll get something from the store or make food at the house; watching tapes of games from the other team and analyzing way too late into the night. Occasionally homework, interspersed with too much volleyball and goofing off.
They end up cooking ramen, and even though it's simple, it still tastes great after the hard fought battles over the stove for stirring privileges. They watch games and make plans that focus on what's right around the corner but that will keep them moving forward. Eventually, when it's long past the point they should have been sleeping, and they have to whisper all their ideas and arguments to each other, they decide to head to bed. Hinata is already asleep on his feet as they brush their teeth. And it's in the dark hallway outside Kageyama's room that Kageyama gets him.
"Hinata," he says in a low voice.
Hinata turns into him, and finds himself being pushed carefully back against the wall, so gently he thinks he might have just started dreaming standing up. Kageyama leans over him, pressing against him with his whole body rather than just catching Hinata between his arms. He's sleepy, too, and warm, and big, and Hinata freezes, staring up at him in the darkened hall, stunned.
"I like it when we get to be together," Kageyama murmurs, soft and slow from tiredness. "Just the two of us."
Hinata inhales sharply, his hand flying to his heart, as it skips and then jumps to overdrive. He can't help but remember what he'd overheard Kuroo saying at the camp: something meaningful. Something you'd only say to him.
"Oh," Kageyama whispers, "your heart. It's…"
Hinata pushes up onto his toes and kisses him.
Kageyama lets out a little noise of surprise and then sighs happily as Hinata pulls him closer, hands fisting in the front of his shirt to keep his balance as much as to hold onto Kageyama. He whimpers a bit on accident, when Kageyama moves to hold him properly, one hand at the small of his back, the other sliding to cup Hinata's cheek, thumb brushing over his skin.
Kageyama's mouth is warm, but feels like it should be cold, after they've just brushed their teeth and Hinata can taste too much mint. His lips still have moisture clinging to them, but it's swept away soon enough. He's awkward, they both are, but it doesn't matter, because Kageyama is letting Hinata kiss him without complaint; Kageyama seems to want to kiss him back.
"K-Kageyama," Hinata gasps, "did you know? This whole time?"
Kageyama blinks at him slowly. "Know what?"
"That I wanted to kiss you?" Hinata asks. "That I like you?"
"You do?" Kageyama asks. He looks shocked.
"Why else would I kiss you?!" Hinata hisses.
"That's what always happens, in movies!" Kageyama says. "You really like me?"
"Of course I do—" Hinata says, exasperated, and is cut off by Kageyama diving back down to kiss him again.
He presses Hinata up against the wall and grabs his face in his hands, and Hinata can only hang on for dear life as Kageyama kisses him frantically—lips pressed to Hinata's over and over in a manner that is not so much ravishing as it is desperately adorable. Each one makes Hinata's knees just a little bit weaker.
"I h-hoped," Kageyama finally says, in between kisses, "but I thought maybe, you just thought kabedon was cool—"
"It is cool," Hinata says, "but why do you think you make my heart pound?"
Kageyama drops his forehead to Hinata's, managing to look both frustrated and pleased at the same time. "Because you like me…"
Hinata flings his arms around his neck. "Yeah, I like you. Bakageyama." He grins. "Kabe-yama."
Kageyama groans. "I hate it."
"Good, it's what you deserve."
Kageyama kisses him again to wipe the smile off his face—but it only makes it wider.
"I was pretty cool, though," Kageyama mumbles sleepily some time later, after they've finally made it to the bed—Hinata skips the futon that night, climbing under the covers next to Kageyama and wedging himself as close to Kageyama as he can get.
"Yes, yes," Hinata agrees soothingly. "You were very cool and dramatic."
"And…" Kageyama yawns mightily, "romantic."
"And very romantic," Hinata says. Kageyama has been trying to create the perfect kabedon for Hinata for weeks and weeks, suffering his own crush in silence, and somehow managing to nearly miss Hinata's own glaringly obvious feelings for him in the process. It's idiotically romantic.
"So that means I won," Kageyama says.
Hinata is willing to give him this, especially after he worked so hard. Then he realizes that Kageyama has finally passed out, snoring softly away next to him.
"Call it a draw," he whispers.
They both won, he decides, in the end.