Hinata was in the middle of a rare moment of peace when his world began to crumble. He was perched on the old tawny couch in his apartment, shoveling handfuls of pretzels into his face as he watched a rerun of some cartoon his sister had loved when she was little. Although the apartment walls were thin and Hinata could hear what was most definitely the sound of Bokuto crashing into something heavy next door, he found himself oddly calm. Maybe he should eat pretzels more often, it was rare for Hinata’s mind to feel this tranquil. His phone buzzed on the coffee table in front of him, but Hinata elected to ignore it in favor of the laughing blue flower on the TV. Shuffling back into the couch, Hinata grabbed more pretzels from the bowl beside him and grinned. Whoever it was could wait for a response, he was actually enjoying a quiet moment for once. But his phone buzzed again.
After the seventh consecutive buzz, Hinata relented. Muttering a bit grumpily, he turned off the TV and grabbed his phone. With a sigh, he sat back against the couch cushions and looked at his phone.
From: Manager, 4:03 PM
Hinata, please call me
From: Manager, 4:03 PM
Have you seen these articles?
From: Yachi Hitoka, 4:01 PM
From: Yachi Hitoka, 4:00 PM
From: Kozume Kenma, 3:58 PM
didn’t think that was your type, but i'm happy for you :)
Before Hinata could even comprehend the messages and notifications that began to flood his phone, his attention was grabbed by the bang of his front door opening. There was a blur and suddenly Hinata registered Atsumu Miya, fellow MSBY player, next door neighbor, and friend, standing in his living room with his phone outstretched proudly. Hinata met Atsumu’s eyes and to his surprise found none of his own alarm or confusion, but glee and something he couldn’t quite place. Atsumu grinned at Hinata’s lost look and shook the phone in his outstretched hand, its bright screen snapping Hinata out of his daze.
“Have you heard the news, Shoyo?” Atsumu smirked. “We’re dating!”
Hinata placed his phone down and took the one in Atsumu’s hand. He shakily began to read the article displayed, eyes glued to the screen. Atsumu plopped down besides Hinata, occasionally reading over his shoulder.
“Oh no,” Hinata muttered as he scrolled through the article displayed on Atsumu’s phone.
“Oh yes,” Atsumu replied. Hinata’s free hand ran through his fiery hair frantically, bottom lip secure between his teeth. His brow furrowed as he scrolled to the top of the page again, as if he had somehow misread the entire article.
“They can’t be serious,” Hinata whispered, voice slightly rising in pitch. “They can’t be!”
“It’s a three page piece Shou,” Atsumu snorted. “Sounds pretty serious to me.” Hinata’s grip on the phone tightened, fingers now seriously knotted into his hair. His shoulders instinctively curled towards his knees. The big, bold title on the small screen wouldn’t let him look away, almost as if it was mocking him.
“Jackals in Love? MSBY Setter Atsumu Miya and Newcomer Hinata Shoyo Secretly Dating”
Noticing that Hinata was in more distress than he had anticipated, Atsumu quickly eased his phone out of Hinata’s grip and put a comforting hand on his upper back, rubbing gently.
“Hey, it’s going to be-”
“They have photos, Atsumu,” Hinata groaned, his head in his hands. “Tons! Even from months ago!”
“Ok, yes. That’s a bit creepy, and we definitely should talk to someone about tha-”
“They’re all out of context!” Hinata exclaimed, throwing his arms up in the air and thumping back against the couch. His arms flopped back down to the couch, frustrated. Hinata took a deep breath. “At least it’s just one article, although I don’t see wh-”
“Hinata,” Atsumu gently interrupted the other. “This...is the first one.”
The room was silent except for the audible sound of Hinata’s jaw hitting the floor.
“...How many?” Hinata’s voice sounded small. He hated it.
“So far? Four.”
Hinata had never wished to melt into the floor more than this moment.
After a few minutes of embarrassed groaning and frantic ranting, Hinata finally seemed to be winding down.
“I just don’t know what to do,” he sighed, exasperated. “I should probably call my manager.” Slumped against the couch, Hinata found himself wanting to be one of the laughing blue flowers in the cartoon he was watching earlier. Or maybe an orange flower. Laughing orange flowers don’t have to deal with fake accusations of dating their friend.
“I had some ideas,” Atsumu said, uncharacteristically hesitant.
“Oh?” Hinata sat up and looked at Atsumu curiously, tilting his head.
“We could release a statement denying what the article says, or…”
“We could...pretend to date.”
Hinata made a face.
“Oh come on!” Atsumu huffed, face slightly pink. “I wouldn’t be that bad of a fake boyfriend. We do it for a few weeks, ‘break up’ because we’re better off as friends, and poof, no one’s interested anymore. Plus, we wouldn’t really have to change how we act.” Hinata was reminded of a strategically taken photo of Atsumu and him with their faces obscured, allowing the viewer to imagine, as the article suggested, the two kissing as opposed to the hug that had actually taken place. It would be easy to fake some romantic photos, maybe hold hands when they went out. And if push came to shove, Hinata honestly wouldn’t mind kissing Atsumu for a picture. They were good friends, and Atsumu wasn’t bad looking. Far from it, actually. Hinata had definitely caught himself staring at his biceps one too many times.
Hinata blinked twice, shaking himself out of his accidental daydream. He looked up at the man sitting on the couch next to him who was nervously fiddling with the hem of his sleeve, cheeks pink and decidedly looking anywhere but Hinata. Cute , he thought, and almost snorted. Who knew “cute” could be used to describe the setter next to him?
“Ok?” Atsumu looked almost shocked, but the second Hinata blinked his expression was back to its usual smirk.
“Yeah, let’s fake date.” Atsumu sprung up from the sofa, a glint in his eyes.
“Sweet! See you around, boyfriend.” With a smile and a wink, Atsumu was out of his apartment as quickly as he had entered. Hinata felt himself smile at his friend’s antics, but it quickly dissolved into a sigh as he dialed his manager to explain the situation. The peace he felt earlier was a distant memory, and he found himself feeling inexplicably weighed down. It wasn’t like he didn’t want to date someone. In fact, Hinata had been harboring feelings for-
Hinata was so overwhelmed with the crushing wave of information presented to him that he failed to consider a crucial detail when debating Atsumu’s proposal.
Hinata had a massive crush on Kageyama.