"Hey Tsukishima, listen to this-", he tries not to be too loud, just in case the latter is busy but-
"Wait... B square minus 4ac into 2a, this would be..."
"..." -it's useless.
A lull in the flow of the conversation as one lightly murmurs and jots the solution down, certain of its accuracy. Hinata finds himself pouting, meme opened on his phone yet ignored by his companion, kicking his legs in the air while lying down on his stomach on the cool floor. 'Somehow, it always ends up like this', he thinks with a slight petulant edge.
There's no actual reason why two so dissimilar should be on call for hours- it just sort of happened one day.
He's never been the brightest when it came to math- or rather, he requires in depth explanations which no one's willing to offer half the time- but he could've always just gone to Yachi for help. The issue there, though, was that she suffered from severe call anxiety and that would rub off on Hinata and she'd end up laughing too shrilly and he'd end up speaking too loudly with squeaks at the end and, well, that was the end of that. Well, it took ages to actually properly 'end' it since he felt bad and she felt horrible and they both kept apologizing but anyway! A text here, a plea for help there and suddenly Hinata was getting aid with math homework from one of the stingiest people he currently knows which over time evolved to normal calls, which then evolved to Tsukishima doing homework on call with him. The early days were hard... Both on his mental sanity when it comes to math and his patience when it comes to Tsukishima's jabs. Often, calls would be ended with either or both screaming but for now there was peace and Hinata couldn't help the relief that took root in his heart and bloomed each time Tsukishima laughed or answered a question with the bare minimum of barbs in his voice.
Cupping his face in his hands, he's struck with a question and wonders if this, too, will be answered with what Yamaguchi has dubbed 'Tsukki Sweetness', which is 'basically replying normally with maybe an edge of sarcasm'.
"...Hey Tsukishima, do you call Yamaguchi for long hours too?"
"If it's 12, then... Hm? Well, sometimes I guess? Why, what's it to you?"
'It passed the Tsukki Sweetness test!', Hinata grinned widely before replying, "Nothing really, it's just that you guys have been friends for a long time right? I have old friends too and we chat sometimes but nowadays we're all busy and stuff, so..." Voice trailed off slightly with his smile growing more strained but he kept it up, for his own sake. He doesn't really get to miss his old friends that much usually, since he's always caught up in something but... Sometimes, looking at Tsukishima and Yamaguchi stings a bit.
The softness in his voice that Tsukishima reserves just for Yamaguchi. The sharp comments that reduce the latter to easy giggles, the looks they shoot each other as if passing telepathic messages. Looking at it from afaar feels like looking at a world from through a glass pane; something untouchable and precious, laden in depth and familiarity, like multiple strings tied over and over each other. Perhaps the edges got frayed at times, or strained and snapped loose but it stood the test of time and they came out stronger from it all; for Yamaguchi bears a hidden tenacity and Tsukishima doesn't want to let go. They're not the type to be rough with each other, both being more quiet types. Its all so different yet so nostalgic for him, even though he and his friends weren't nearly as close but. Still.
There's silence on the other end of the call and Hinata figures that the question must've been a bit complex, letting the conversation flow to an end as he scrolls mindlessly on his phone.
"...I see Yamaguchi everyday, so I don't really have to worry about calls usually", Tsukishima speaks up suddenly after around 2 minutes and Hinata jolts, headphones askew for a second as he's brought back to reality, "In your case, your friends are in a different school so logically, you'd want to be more caught up... But it can be hard."
His casual drawl as he comments on Hinata's situation provides an almost strange sort of comfort, although that might just be because he hadn't expected him to actually seriously consider it in the first place. He continues, the sound of pages being turned in the background, "I don't have as huge a social circle as you do either. Imagining how to maintain it is a headache, but isn't it fine?"
"H-Huh?", Completely lost and mystified over the flow of the conversation, Hinata couldn't stop his confusion from seeping out.
Tsukishima huffs slightly and for a moment Hinata is prepared for a biting response but instead, "I mean, the people around you understand that. They understand... you, to whatever extent, so they likely don't blame you when you crash land into their lives periodically, or however it is you go about your social life, I wouldn't know. If they still talk to you... Ah", the flipping of pages halts and the blond smiles absently with a tinge of something he himself doesn't register as 'fond' at the edges , "Then that implies they like your annoying chirping and loudness, right? Then isn't it fine?"
There's silence on the other end of the line. Tsukishima sighs, unregistered smile melting away.
He doesn't know where these words are coming from, so uncensored from his usual snark. Something about that troublesome boy sounding lonely, of all things, felt wrong is all. Surrounded by all sorts of characters and charming nearly everyone with his single-minded simplicity, its all something worlds' apart from Tsukishima's own natural disposition; it's unimaginable. To hear someone like that sound hesitant and almost... Envious, is...
"...So annoying...", he mutters glaring at the page in front of him.
"BWAH?", is the choked up sound he receives.
"Oh, so that managed to shock you out of whatever dumb thing you were thinking about?", he says without much heat, reclining back in his chair as he narrows his eyes in slight annoyance.
"I-I wasn't...! What do you mean dumb!? You're the one who talked so much!"
Irritation spikes suddenly and Tsukishima snaps, adopting a mocking tone in reflex, "And? You're the one who brought it up in the first place! What's up with that, is someone insecure about his relationships or something?"
Immediately, he knows he shouldn't have said that. Guilt rises unbidden but he pushes it down stubbornly, throwing aside what he knows to be the right way of doing things as his friendship with Yamaguchi has so helpfully ingrained into his very being.
That most certainly does not include patronizing the very person you were attempting to comfort when functioning on autopilot while doing math. And Hinata isn't Yamaguchi, who Tsukishima is now aware of how to deal with when he hurts him accidentally, when the reinforced threads that tie them together are cut through easily by his harsh words and frigid walls, before he has to let them down so that they can mend them together. Tsukishima always thought that 'forever' held no meaning for him but to imagine a life without Yamaguchi to yell at him and joke around isn't frightening, just... cold. In a way he could never grow accustomed to, not after having experienced this warmth once.
Again, Hinata grows silent. Tsukishima's pencil lay forgotten on his desk, he stares at his ceiling, unused to this sort of quiet between them and unnerved as a result. Seconds tick by.
When the redhead finally speaks again, he feels a chill go through him, "So what if I am? It's not like it means anything to you." The tone is low and dangerous, which should have felt laughable coming from this type of person if the strange mood hadn't grabbed hold of Tsukishima the way it had. He furrows his eyebrows, perplexed and miffed, "What's that supposed to mean?"
The quiet grows and Hinata's expression hardens, "Nothing."
"...", Tsukishima's aggravation grows but he chooses not to act on it, since it'd just leave him at the same level of His Highness. Instead, running a hand through his hair while sighing loudly he says, "I don't know where you got that idea from. I mean, I'm still here right?"
Quiet and then a confused voice reaches him, "What do you-"
"I mean", he cuts him off, feeling a bit hot in the face and blaming it on his displeasure at the current situation, "If it didn't matter to me I wouldn't be here. On call. And stuff." He desperately struggles not to travel more along this train of thought, grimacing and huffing as he folds his arms, too aware of how it must look. 'Thank goodness we're just on call and not face to face', he grumbles mentally, 'He'd get a kick out of this, I know.'
This time, Hinata blanks out for a couple of seconds as he struggles to comprehend the meaning behind these vaguely uttered words. As slow realization sets in, a "...Huh?" escapes his open mouth.
"I won't repeat what I said, I'm already behind on my homework", Tsukishima mutters, swiftly taking up his pencil and going over the page of questions as if to run away from the topic at hand but Hinata, relentless in his pursuit, starts yelling as if rising from his shocked stupor.
"TSUKISHIMA, NO TELL ME WHAT YOU MEANT-"
"AHHHH, LOWER YOUR VOLUME! MY EARS-"
"NOT UNTIL YOU TELL ME, STINGYSHIMAAAA!-"
Unnoticed by both of them are their respective flushed cheeks, the laughter that bubbles from Hinata loudly and brightly amidst his and Tsukishima's screams, and the smile that creeps up the latter's face even as he winces in pain and rips his headphones off to put him on speaker and save his ears. Somewhere between the words left unspoken and the paths left untouched, something gentle begins to sway.