Hinata was squirming against his hold but Tobio had him in a vise-like grip.
"Ka-Kageyama! You’re hurting me! Let me go!"
"No." He's not letting him go. He's never letting him go again. His body tingled at the contact of his fingers on Hinata’s skin. It’s been so long since he’s able to touch him and his hold on him tightened, feeling a bit possessive.
Eventually, Hinata stopped struggling and just let Tobio dragged him until they stopped at the back of the gym and Tobio loosened his hold at Hinata’s arm but still tight enough to not let him get away.
"I'll let you go, but promise me you won't run away."
Hinata glared daggers at him despite his puffy eyes, then as if all the struggling earlier had drained him, he just sighed then nodded. "Fine. I won't."
Slowly, Tobio released his arm. There were red lines where his fingers had been and Hinata rubbed at it with his other hand. He was looking at his side, pointedly avoiding Tobio's general direction.
Tobio knew he needs to start talking but his throat closed up. No, not now. He understood what he had to do, knew what he had to say, but his mind and vocal chords can't seem to function at the same time. He took a deep breath.
"What do you want, Kageyama?" Hinata’s voice low and gruff, nothing like his usual chirping, vibrant voice. He's still not looking at Tobio; his eyes were trained on the ground as he scuffed his shoes against the dirt.
It took a moment for Tobio to start again, "Hinata, I—"
“If this is about morning practice, then I’m sorry. I—I know my timing was off. I promise it won’t happen again."
"Practice is about to start. We better go, the captain will probably be mad if we're late and—"
"Would you shut up for just a fucking second and let me talk?"
Tobio knew that's not how the way he should be talking right now, but as usual, his temper got the better of him. It’s times like that that he’s aware how much of a jerk he’s being, and the realization that he’s probably like this to Hinata most of the time was enough to drown him in guilt even further.
Hinata finally looked up at him and gave him a stare down. The stare down. The one he used when he got intense in court or when challenging other players. But this was different. Hinata’s pupils were like slits and the warm amber of his eyes was gone, replaced with something murky, like mud. They look lifeless—like all the warmth and energy was leached out of it—and his red-rimmed eyes only added a certain menace, sending shivers down Tobio’s spine.
Hinata’s expression was blank as he cocked his head sideways. "Talk? What is there to talk about? You sure as heck didn't let me yesterday."
"Hinata, please. Yesterday was—I'm—" Fuck. Why was it so hard to form coherent sentences of the things he wanted to say? This isn't going in the direction Tobio expected and the way Hinata was looking at him—vacant yet intimidating—was making his resolve weakened.
Hinata blinked and the look was gone, but his eyes remain cold and uninviting.
"Don't stress yourself out, Kageyama. I don't want to hear whatever reasons you have," he let out a long sigh then looked away again. "I figured it out anyway. Let's just go."
"Hinata, I'm—I'm sorry". Tobio winced inwardly. He hated how he sounds—disjointed and uncertain, the exact opposite of how he wanted the words to come out and he’s mentally cursing himself and his inability to express his emotions into words.
Hinata looked at him again, and he just stared at Tobio with those blank, glassy eyes. Then, a small smile crept on his face but it was far from happiness or even relief. If anything, he looked even more dejected than before. Well, no wonder—that apology was shitty as hell.
"Don't apologize. It doesn't suit you." Hinata turned around, then looked over at his shoulder, his voice small and brittle. "And don’t give me your pity. It’s the last thing I need from you.” Hinata started to walk away, his shoulders hunched and small hands fisted at his sides; he’s trembling like he’s going to cry again.
If words were going to be useless to get Hinata to listen to him, then he’ll have to do this with actions—a thing Tobio actually knew how to handle. With an irritated groan, he grabbed Hinata’s elbow and tugged him back towards him. Hinata yelped and let out a muffled 'ompff' as he crashed into Tobio's chest. He circled his arms around the smaller body, holding him tight, pouring all the affection he can muster in the embrace, and desperately hoping that Hinata got the message.
Apparently not, with the way Hinata was wriggling against him, trying to break free from Tobio's hold. "Wha—What are you doing? Let! Me! Go!" Each word was punctuated with a small fist pounding at Tobio’s chest.
He only squeezed him tighter, not an air of molecule between them. "No," his voice adamant. "Not until you listen to what I have to say."
"I told you, I don't want—"
"I thought you were cheating on me." Tobio let out a long sigh as he gripped the back of Hinata’s jacket. He didn’t realize how heavy those words were and finally letting it out feels like a huge weight was lifted off of him.
Hinata stopped struggling and shrieked, "Huh?! What are you talking about?"
It’s like all the things he wanted to say came rushing out like a broken dam and his voice can’t keep up, sounding a little whiny as he blurted the words out, "You were acting weird this whole week! You were avoiding me and didn't want to do extra practice with me! You even have a hickey and a bite mark!"
Hinata visibly gasped. "A hickey?! Wha—? Oh. That wasn't a hickey! And the bite mark isn't what you think!"
"Let me go first then I'll explain."
He only tightened his hold on Hinata and shook his head. "No."
"Geez. I won't run away! Its just—you're holding me really tight and it's getting hard to breathe..."
"Oh." He loosened his grip, slowly, but the space between them still nonexistent. If Tobio had his way, he'd rather talk with Hinata like this, pressed close against him, relishing in the warmth radiating from his small body. He sighed and muttered in his orange locks, "Promise you won't run?"
He could feel rather than see the roll of Hinata’s eyes as he nodded against his chest. "Yes, I promise, Bakageyama. Now let go."
Reluctantly, Tobio released his hold on Hinata, but his hands are still on his shoulders. He's afraid to let go completely, he's scared that the second the contact between them was gone, Hinata would run away despite his assurance. Tobio stared at his eyes, and he almost collapsed in relief to find that the color and life was back from those big orbs. They were again warm and amber, the afternoon sun reflecting the gold in his irises.
Hinata placed his hands over Tobio's own and gently removed them. "I won't run, Kageyama." He then took a step backward, inhaled deeply and let out a long drawn out breath, like he's preparing for a speech. Or maybe he was.
"I was babysitting our neighbor's five-year-old kid. That's why I didn't stay late for extra practice. Which was really hard for me, just so you know!" He emphasized his point with a pout, arms across his chest. He continued, "Ayu-chan is a rowdy kid and likes to rough house and one time he got a little carried away and he bit me!"
It took him a full ten seconds to process everything Hinata just said and the moment comprehension dawned on him, Tobio released a lungful of air he didn't know he was holding.
Hinata was just babysitting, not fooling around getting bite marks behind Tobio’s back. Instantly, his chest seems lighter and relief flooded throughout his body.
"Oh," he replied dumbly, the only sound he’s able to form at that moment. When the gears in his head settled, he continued, “Then what about the hickey?”
“I told you it wasn't a hickey!” Hinata puffed his cheeks and actually stomped his foot, clearly frustrated, and it’s annoying how, despite the situation they’re in, Tobio found it terribly cute. “He was playing with the vacuum and thought it would be funny to use it on me.”
“Oh.” That seemed to be his word for the day, goddammit.
“What about those texts and phone calls? And why were you babysitting anyway?”
As soon as the question left his mouth, Hinata started fidgeting and he averted his gaze away from Tobio. He pulled and twisted his jacket, and—and was that a blush creeping on his cheeks? Tobio had this weird feeling of déjà vu, like he’s seen this before, and he started to frown, and, oh—
It’s familiar because that’s how Hinata was acting yesterday when he called up to him after practice.
“Um, that's because—" Hinata let out a small frustrated whimper as he scrunched his eyes shut, then he deflated, quite literally, with his head lowered and shoulders slumping. Even his unruly hair seemed to wilt in resignation. Then he sighed, loud and heavy, and tried to straighten his body as he finally looked directly at Tobio.
“Okay, I might as well tell you since it wouldn't matter anyway."
“What wouldn't matter?”
“I was texting and calling Kenma and Kuroo-san for a favor. For, uhm, for—uhh—,” Hinata cut himself off as he pulled something out of the pocket of his jacket, two strips of paper with something printed on it. He held it out in front of him as he continued, “It was for this. And I took that babysitting job because the pay was good and my savings wasn’t enough to buy two. I just got them yesterday. Kenma mailed it to me and I waited for it to arrive yesterday morning. That's why I was late.” Hinata thrusted the pieces of paper forward, gesturing at Tobio to take it with a nod of his head.
Confused as to how those pieces of paper seem to be the answer to everything, Tobio took them from Hinata a bit hesitantly.
“And I was avoiding you because I was nervous and I wanted to surprise you and I thought you would figure out that I was planning something.”
Tobio finally looked at the two pieces of paper. They’re rectangular, a bit thicker than writing paper. He realized he’s looking at it backwards, and he fumbled to flip it over. He furrowed his brows as he scanned over what was written on the paper and his eyes widen as he finally got what these papers were.
For the millionth time that day, he’s lost for words, so he said stupidly, “This—these are tickets.”
“Duh. Yeah, they are,” Hinata said with a roll of his eyes. He continued, his mouth spewing the words as fast as their quick, “The national team is having a practice match next Saturday and they made it into a big event and Kenma told me about it and apparently Kuroo-san knows one of the organizers and I asked Kenma if he could get Kuroo-san to secure two tickets and I would pay him once we get there and I asked Tanaka-san if he could get Saeko-neesan to drive us to Sendai so we can ride the Shinkansen to Tokyo and she said yes and—”
Tobio was staring at him in shock as soon as the words ‘national team’ and ‘practice match’ left Hinata’s mouth. The rest of it sounds garbled in Tobio’s ear but it didn’t matter—he understood perfectly what Hinata was trying to say and how perfect the yammering idiot in front of him was.
If he let Hinata continue babbling, they’ll be here all afternoon. He pocketed the tickets before he took a step forward, pulled Hinata closer to him and wrapped his arms around his shoulder, the rest of his words muffled in Tobio’s sweater, effectively shutting him up. Tobio buried his head on the crook of Hinata’s neck, inhaling his sweet, summery scent, as he hugged him tighter. He could feel Hinata tensed but slowly relaxes into his hold, his arms hanging limply on his side.
“You—you, dumbass,” Tobio finally managed to say.
“I'm so stupid. So, so stupid.” He pressed his face further on the collar of Hinata’s jacket.
“Haaaa?!? Kageyama, are you all right? First, you apologized, now you're calling yourself stupid? That isn't like you.”
He let out a small chuckle at that. “I know. You make me do things I normally wouldn't."
Slowly, he unwrapped his arm around Hinata and pushed him gently by his shoulders. Tobio looked straight into Hinata’s eyes and held his gaze. It surprised Tobio, how relaxed and confident he felt as he said the words that had been stuck on his throat this whole time; how certain and sincere he sounded, and this time, he knew for sure, he won’t be misunderstood.
“I'm sorry. Really, really sorry. I assumed you were cheating on me because of how you were acting and—and when you wanted to talk after practice yesterday I thought you were going to break up with me and I couldn't bear to hear that from you so I went ahead of myself and broke up with you instead.”
Hinata looks stunned, his eyes widen as Tobio talks. His mouth started to open to say something, but Tobio isn't finished.
“And I know I must have been a real jerk to you and I really hurt you and I made you cry. And that's the last thing I want.”
"You constantly grind my head down and throw me across the room and always tell me how I suck at volleyball.”
It was Tobio’s turn to gape at him. He just bared his soul out and that’s his response? He could feel his fury rising, bubbling under his skin and he’s one second away from actually throwing Hinata across the yard when a small hand fisted the front of his sweater, directly over his heart. Hinata looked up at him, eyes wide and searching.
“Do you really mean that?” his voice small, almost like a whisper, golden gaze piercing—Tobio could see his reflection in Hinata’s eyes.
His response was immediate, no hesitation. “Yes, I mean it.”
Hinata laughed as he tackled Tobio back into a hug, slightly sending him off-balance but managed to steady them both before they crashed into the ground. Hinata’s arms were circled around his waist, his face buried in his chest. Tobio looped his arms around him, pulling him closer.
“You really hurt me you know.” Hinata’s voice is stifled by his sweater, but he could hear the pout in it.
“I know. I’m sorry. And—and I take it back…”
Hinata gasped, his arms around Tobio loosened and shoves him hard at his chest, his face scrunched in a mixture of confusion and anger. “What?! You said you mean it!”
Oh shit, that came out wrong. “No!” he exclaimed, his voice a bit high-pitched. He cleared his throat. “I mean, yes. I do mean it. What I'm trying to say is–I—uhh—yesterday—”
Now he’s nervous. Not of the prospect of him admitting that he’s wrong—his pride was already brutally murdered and buried about fifteen minutes ago anyway—but at the possibility that Hinata wouldn’t even want Tobio back. He did hurt him, made him feel insecure, and though his apology was acknowledged, that didn’t mean that all of that would simply go away.
But Tobio had always been selfish anyway, so he took a deep breath, and allowed himself to be selfish, allowed his ‘kingly’ personality to take over, to take what he wanted, because goddammit, he wanted this so bad.
“I take back what I said yesterday."
“You said a lot of things yesterday, how was I supposed to know exactly what?” Hinata huffed, his hands on his hips as he glared at Tobio.
“You're really making this difficult.” He exhaled, his breath drawled out, as he composed himself before saying his next words, “I take back when I said I'm breaking up with you.”
Hinata just stared at him for what seems like a century, his head tilted to the side, his brows furrowed and lips pursed, like he’s thinking hard about something.
“So, I'm not just a repellant from all the girls harassing you?”
Tobio bristled, “No! How can you even think that? Do you really think I would do that to you? Am I really that a horrible person that you think I would use you like that?”
“I—I don't know! I was going out of my mind thinking of all the various reasons why you would break up with me and that's the most likely one I could think of,” Hinata whined, then pointed an accusatory finger at Tobio, right under his nose, “And you're one to talk! I can't believe you think I'm cheating on you of all things!”
Tobio slapped his finger away with an irritated click of his tongue, “What would you think if you saw a hickey and bite mark on me?”
“I would ask first, idiot! Maybe you were babysitting and the kid is a little devil who likes to inflict pain!”
“Are you fucking serious right now?” Tobio retorted as he inched his face closer to Hinata, “We both know that's not what you would be thinking if you were in my shoes!”
“W-well y-your shoe size is two times bigger than mine, so my foot wouldn't even fit—”
The rest of Hinata’s words are swallowed when Tobio crashed their lips together, both of his hands holding Hinata’s cheeks to lift his face upward. His lips are puckered against Tobio, firm and unmoving, or maybe because he’s squishing Hinata’s cheeks a bit too hard. He loosened his hold, and Hinata’s lips relaxed and a second later, his lips are moving gently against Tobio’s.
Then, as quickly as he responded, Hinata pulled away, and Tobio chased after him, his hands still on his cheeks. Hinata pushed against his chest lightly, stopping him from getting closer.
An avalanche of stone dropped in his stomach and his heart clenched. There it was. That was a clear rejection. Tobio was about to pull his hand away from Hinata’s cheeks, and his mouth started to mumble out an apology, when Hinata placed his own hand over Tobio’s, cradling it against his cheek. He looked up at him, a bit bashful, his honey eyes soft and gleaming.
“So does this mean we're still, you know, together?”
Tobio’s chest felt like bursting, whether from relief or happiness, or a mixture of both, he really didn’t care. A small laugh burst out of him and Hinata gawked at him like he’s grown an extra head. He stared back at those annoyingly big (irresistible) puppy eyes for a moment then he closed the gap between them once again.
Their lips met gentler this time. Hinata’s lips are warm and soft, and so very pliant against Tobio’s. They move slow, savoring the feel of each other and it hit Tobio that he hadn’t kiss Hinata for almost a week. The realization flipped a switch and he’s filled with an overwhelming desire and need—a sudden desperation. His one hand moved from Hinata’s cheeks to the back of his head, tangling his fingers in the soft curls, his other hand lowering to circle at his back, pulling him closer, deepening the kiss. Hinata let out a small whimper but not of protest, not by the way his hands move to rest on Tobio’s shoulders for support. He took that as permission to run his tongue on Hinata’s bottom lip, gently prodding, and almost instantly, Hinata was parting his lips and Tobio wasted no time to flick his tongue inside. The moment their tongues made contact, electricity ran down Tobio’s spine—like every nerve on his body came alive all at once.
More. He tilted his head, pushing harder, slipping his tongue further, and when Hinata moaned, soft and breathy, Tobio answered with a low, husky sound of his own. He poured everything into the kiss— all the things he didn’t or couldn’t say, all the affections he wanted to show but couldn’t, all the love he felt for his best friend.
When they pulled apart, their chest was heaving as they filled their lungs with air (if oxygen wasn’t necessary, Tobio would never have stopped), their foreheads resting against each other. Tobio peered at Hinata—his eyes are closed. When his lids fluttered open, his eyes are hazy, his pupils blown wide, then he stared straight at Tobio, and smiled tenderly. Tobio could feel his heart melt into a puddle, but he still managed a small smirk.
“Was that enough confirmation for you?"
Hinata giggled and the sound was music to his ears, like angels singing.
“Yeah, it was.”
It was Tobio’s turn to smile, a real genuine one, because his whole body was exploding with pure ecstasy and his mouth seemed to have a mind of its own as it formed a physical manifestation of what he felt inside.
He started to lean forward and Hinata was meeting him halfway when a loud cough emanated from behind them. They whipped their heads in unison towards the sound and Sugawara-san was standing a few meters from them, a small smile on his lips, his eyes sparkling with amusement.
“Hinata, Kageyama, practice is about to start.”
They scrambled away from each other so fast there are at least two meters of distance between them when a second ago they were practically sharing the same space. Tobio’s insides churned with embarrassment. His face was burning, he could literally feel the heat radiating and when he glanced at Hinata, his neck and face was the same color as his hair. He tried to say something, anything, but his tongue felt like it's made of lead and seeing Hinata flustered, trying to hide his blushing face in the collar of his jacket, only added to the mortification slowly eating Tobio alive.
Sugawara-san chuckled with a slow shake of his head. “Seriously, you two. I’m glad you sort things out and I love to leave you alone to…sort more things out,” he paused to wink obnoxiously (Tobio was dead at this point) before continuing, “but Daichi is gonna blow a fuse if our genius setter and ultimate decoy missed practice.”
That last statement seemed to have woken Hinata from his squirming, his face now only tinge with pink around his cheeks. He straightened up, flashing a wide grin at Sugawara-san then turned to Tobio, not quite looking at his face.
“R-right! Practice! L-let's get going, Kageyama!”
His movements were mechanical as he nodded multiple times, making his head hurt, and managed to get his tongue to work again, “Uh, right. Practice.”
They started to walk towards Sugawara-san, and with a satisfied nod and another knowing smirk, their senpai turned to make his way back to the gym.
Hinata jogged to keep up with their vice-captain, Tobio trailing behind him. Then Hinata stopped walking abruptly; he almost ran into him.
“Oi, what are you doing, dumbass?”
He looked back up at Tobio, grinning. “Toss to me?”
Tobio gazed back at brown eyes burning with passion and fiery determination, and realized for the first time how grateful he was to have met those eyes, to have that look trained on him, the very thing he yearned to see from his previous teammates, and how lucky he was that everything he ever wished and hoped for, and a little bit of more, have been embodied into someone by the name of Hinata Shouyou.
Maybe someday, he’ll be able to say all the things he wanted to say—all the things he’s thankful for, without reducing himself into a mumbling mess. Maybe someday, he’ll be able to unabashedly show his affections without getting nervous. Maybe someday he’ll be able to hold a proper conversation, baring his soul as he did earlier, without the need for misunderstandings and hearts being broken.
Maybe someday he’ll be able to tell him how much he loves him.
But for now, he settled for this.
“Dumbass. I always do.”
“We’re still going to Tokyo next Saturday right? To watch the practice match?”
“Of course, dumbass. Do you think I’m going to pass that opportunity? Andyouwentthroughallthattrouble.”
“N-nothing! Where are the tickets anyway?”
“Huh? I gave them to you didn’t I?”
“What? But I don’t have them.”
“Bakageyama, that’s not funny.”
“No seriously, I don’t have them!”
“I swear to god, Kageyama. Don’t screw with me right now. That was a week worth of hellish babysitting and about half of my life savings!”
“Uhhh. Let me check my pockets. It’s not here. It’s not in my bag either.”
“I think I’m gonna faint. Check again.”
“They’re really not here. Oh.”
“What? What? Did you find them?”
“I might’ve stuffed them in the pockets of my uniform pants when I changed after practice. Let me check.”
“Please be there please be there please be there—”
“Ha! They’re here! Although it’s a little bit crumpled now. I found it dumbass, now let’s—Hinata? Oi, Hinata! Wake up, idiot! We’re in the middle of the street!”