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Kiss With A Fist

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"It is about two people pushing each other to psychological extremes
because they are fighting
but they still love each other ...

Sometimes
the love two people have for each other is a destructive force.
But they can't have it any other way,
because it's what holds them together,
they enjoy the drama and pushing each other's buttons.

It was how joyful destruction can be, and how alluring it is to be in
a relationship so fiery."

-Florence Welch, Florence + the Machine


now

The spring sun held the promise of warmth to come as it shone down on the first years approaching the Karasuno Volleyball Gym for the first time. There were seven of them, the largest first year volleyball class in years. Though, that was to be expected, now that Karasuno was once again one of the powerhouse schools of the Miyagi Prefecture. The team's accomplishments over the past two years were displayed proudly above the gym's doors. The only thing missing was a national championship, and they were determined to get there.

The first years gripped their sports bags with anticipation, then walked along the path from the school building to the gym. They were a bit early and didn't expect their upperclassmen to be there yet, but they saw the doors were open and could hear voices. Their hearts began to beat faster.

Imamura Hideo, the boldest of the group, walked into the gym first. He looked around and spotted them: Kageyama Tobio and Hinata Shouyou. Every volleyball fan in all of Miyagi—and probably beyond—had heard of these two. They were already legends in the volleyball world, and they hadn't even graduated high school yet. Rumor had it Kageyama was being scouted for some of the top universities in Tokyo, and Hinata already had sponsorship offers from various athletic brands.

Yes, there they were: the first years' idols, the ones who'd flown Karasuno back into the spotlight, their upperclassmen…and they were fighting.

"…such a fucking idiot."

"Oh relax, Kageyama."

"Yamaguchi asked you to do one thing, Mr. Vice-Captain—"

"They're washed! I'll just bring them tomorrow!"

"Tomorrow isn't today."

"Wow. I had no clue. They should give you an award for this amazing scientific discovery."

"Shove a cactus up your ass."

"No, really, I'm going to contact the school board, arrange the award ceremony—"

"Oh my god, shut up."

"I'm being one hundred percent genuine, Yama."

"If you had even an ounce of genuineness in you it would be your whole body weight."

"Oh ha-di-ha, another 'Hinata's tiny' joke. Doesn't that every get old?"

"Just about as old as this does."

Suddenly Kageyama snatched the volleyball Hinata had been holding and lofted it above his head. Kageyama had to be somewhere over 180cm, and his arms were long. Hinata, on the other hand, was around 165cm, from what Hideo had read. That didn't seem to bother Hinata, though, as the spiker jumped on and began trying to shimmy his way up Kageyama's body. Kageyama used his other hand to try to push Hinata off as the shorter boy flailed. They soon lost their balance and fell to the ground, cursing each other as they landed in a heap of limbs. The ball bounced away, forgotten.

"Oh jeez, really?" someone said, and the first years parted to let the two other third years through.

Yamaguchi Tadashi and Tsukishima Kei stood before them. The first years recognized them from the volleyball table at the club fair. Their expressions, respectively, were concerned and bored as they watched the two stars of the team wrestle on the ground, kicking at each other and pulling their hair.

"Sorry about them," Yamaguchi said, turning to face the first years.

"Sh…shouldn't we stop them?" a first year named Tsubasa asked.

"No, they'll work it out," Yamaguchi replied.

"Are they fighting already?" asked one of the second years who'd just arrived.

"Looks like it," another answered.

"I thought—" Hideo stopped, gathering his words. He felt betrayed somehow. "The magazines all said they were best friends, but it looks like they don't even like each other!"

"Oh, they like each other," Tsukishima said dryly. "Just look."

Hideo and the others realized the sounds of fighting had quieted down, and as they turned to look at their upperclassmen, they were met with a surprising sight. Hinata was sitting on top of Kageyama, his hands fisted in his teammate's gym shirt, and Kageyama still had a tangle of Hinata's hair in his grasp, but they were now kissing. Passionately.

"Guys, you're scaring the first years!" Yamaguchi called, clapping his hands repeatedly to catch their attention.

Hinata broke away, and they both looked dazedly over at the group standing in the doorway. Realization filled their faces, and Kageyama blushed red and looked severely annoyed while Hinata shamelessly scrambled off of him and bounded over to his teammates.

"First years!" he exclaimed. "You're here! There's so many of you! I thought we'd maybe get five like last year, but seven?!"

The first years all smiled nervously. Hinata Shouyou was standing before them, and although he was the shortest person in the room, he held a commanding presence in their eyes, like a tiny giant.

"What were you fighting over?" Yamaguchi asked.

"Hinata forgot the practice jerseys," Kageyama replied, walking up to them.

"It's not a big deal!" Hinata said, rounding on Kageyama.

"You're so unreliable!"

"I'm reliable when it counts!"

"Tell that to your 73% aiming accuracy."

"Oh my—"

"Guys!" Yamaguchi snapped. "Can we just get ready for practice?"

They snapped to attention.

"Yes, sir, captain," Hinata said, giving a little salute. Kageyama grunted in response.

Yamaguchi led the group of first and second years into the gym just as the others arrived as well. Coach Ukai, Takeda-sensei, Yachi Hitoka-senpai sat everyone down, and Takeda launched into his first inspirational speech of the year. Hideo, however, was more preoccupied with the revelation that his idols were apparently together and could barely pay any attention to what was being said.

He stared at the pair in question, who were listening to Ukai as he talked about his expectations for the team in regards to diet, exercise, practice, etc. Then Hideo watched as Kageyama reached out toward Hinata and—was he going to pull his hair again?! But no, he just gently tucked the tag of Hinata's shirt in and patted his back for good measure. Hinata beamed at him like they hadn't been insulting each other moments earlier, and Hideo felt like he was experiencing whiplash for the first time.

"Do they fight like that often?" Hideo later whispered to one of the second years as they stretched and warmed up for their first practice.

Kageyama and Hinata were currently hissing insults to each other as they sat with their feet together and hands clasped, taking turns pulling each other forward to stretch their backs and legs.

"Oh, all the time," he—Hasegawa Eiji, a middle blocker—replied.

"You get used to it, don't worry," added Kiyabu Mamoru, a wing spiker.

"And they're dating?"

"Yeah, since last year."

"How did they even get together if they fight so much?"

Eiji sniggered a little. "You know what? I have no idea."

"Huh." A thought occurred to him. "They're not…abusive, are they?"

Mamoru's eyes widened. "Oh, god no."

"They shove each other around a lot, but it's just for fun," Eiji added. "Nobody actually gets hurt."

"Except for that time Hinata broke Kageyama's nose," Mamoru said with a grin.

"Dude, I forgot about that! I wish I'd been there."

"You weren't? Man, it was hilarious."

Shock filled Hideo, and he tuned out the rest of the second years' conversation. He looked over at his upperclassmen, expecting to see them arguing again, but they were just chatting pleasantly as Kageyama helped Hinata to his feet so they could help Yachi-senpai with the net. Quickly, Hinata pressed a kiss to Kageyama's lips, then danced away, expertly avoiding the swat Kageyama had aimed at the back of his head.

Hideo had never been more confused in his life.

/ \

then

Hinata wasn't known for being the most observant person in the world. Nuances and subtleties eluded him, and he didn't know how to be nonchalant or inconspicuous. So it only made sense, then, that it had taken him until almost the end of their first year to realize that his feelings of friendship toward Kageyama had morphed into something else entirely.

In a way, how Kageyama made him feel had never changed. It was just the underlying desire that had changed. From the very beginning, just being around Kageyama lit a fire in Hinata unlike anything he'd ever experienced. Something about the black-haired boy energized him, pushed all his buttons, and drove him to all extremes.

At first, it pushed him to a rivalry, instilling a desire to be better than Kageyama. Then, as they got to know each other and realized what their partnership could be, he desired to be better together. With Kageyama, he knew he could accomplish anything. But then, without warning, his desire shifted again. He wanted to be better for Kageyama. He wanted to be the partner that Kageyama deserved, because Kageyama deserved the world and more.

He'd said as much to his mother one night when he'd stayed up particularly late practicing in their yard.

"Honey, I think it's time to turn in," she said, stepping out onto the back porch, shivering in the February chill.

"Just ten more minutes," he replied, setting the ball up into the air and moving to receive it.

"You've been working extra hard lately," she remarked.

"I need to get better before next year."

"Why next year?"

"I want me and Kageyama to have a good start to second year."

"So this is all for Kageyama, huh?"

Hinata didn't hear the suggestion in her voice. "Yeah. He's already so good, and he just keeps getting better." That bastard. "I need to work extra hard to catch up to him. If I'm going to be his partner, I need to be on his level."

"It sounds like you care a lot about him."

"Yeah! Kageyama's the best." He caught the ball and stared at it, thinking of his friend. "He's so smart, Kaasan. I don't know how he thinks so quickly on the court, but he does. He can read everyone's moves and adjust to them. And he can be really nice when nobody else is around. And when we're playing together, it's—" Words failed to describe how it felt when they executed a perfect kill together, so he just squeezed the ball between his hands with all his might. "It's like wham, bam, whoosh!"

Hinata's mother waited a few moments before speaking again. "Shouyou, if there's anything you ever need to tell me, I'm here for you. You know that, right?"

He looked at her. "What do you mean?"

"Well, just if there's anything you're scared to tell me, I want you to know I love you no matter what."

Hinata just became more confused. She knew he wasn't good at understanding subtext, and she seemed to realize that he wasn't comprehending her implications.

"For example," she said slowly, "if you and Kageyama were…special friends. That would be okay."

Special friends? Of course they were special friends. They could practically read each other's minds on the court. They almost didn't need secret signals anymore. And off the court, they hung out several times a week and spent as much time together at school as they could. He'd never been this close to anybody in his life. What was more special than that?

Unless…unless she was talking about something else. Something he hadn't before considered.

"Are you asking if I have a crush on Kageyama?" Hinata asked, bewildered.

Her eyes softened. "Do you?"

Hinata had to think about it. About the way his heart raced whenever Kageyama was around, about how his entire day was better if he could get a genuine smile from Kageyama, about how whenever something good happened Kageyama was the first person he wanted to tell. Those things were all part of normal friendships, right?

But there were other things too. Like when he wanted to lay his head in Kageyama's lap as the boy talked, or when he wanted to touch Kageyama's hair but stopped himself because Kageyama didn't let anyone touch his hair. And when he noticed Kageyama was asleep on the team bus, and he wanted nothing more than to cuddle up and fall asleep against him. Were those normal?

"Shou?"

Hinata snapped out of his reverie, and the ball dropped out of his hands. He was so unobservant that he hadn't noticed the subtleties in his own emotions. "Yeah. I think I do."

And his heart sunk out of his chest, bouncing away with the ball.

/ \

now

"You need to be lighter on your toes!" Kageyama yelled, lobbing another ball over the net to the first years as they practiced receiving.

"Don't hesitate on the digs!" Kageyama hollered during a mock match.

"Keep your eyes on the ball!" Kageyama screamed when one of the first years had zoned out and missed a receive.

It had been a month since the year started, and the team was beginning to find its stride. They were all getting to know each other, learning each other's strengths and weaknesses, and figuring out how they all best fit together. The only teammate the first years weren't grooving with yet, though, was Kageyama.

They didn't even want to get to know him, either. From the news and the magazines, they knew he was mostly a loner, a prodigy setter a league above the rest. But they hadn't expected him to be so surly with his own team. In every practice, he had a domineering attitude that soured most everybody's moods. Even outside of practice he was almost constantly scowling, whether he was in the halls between class or getting meat buns with the team at Coach's store.

The first years weren't alone in feeling frustrated with Kageyama, either. Ukai frequently had to tell Kageyama to, "Shut up and let me coach my damn team!" And Yamaguchi had to remind him that he and Hinata were the captain and vice-captain. Kageyama almost always seemed angry, and it frightened the first years, bothered the second years, and annoyed the third years. Except for Hinata, that was.

"What the fuck was that?!" Kageyama exploded in the middle of a team practice match.

A chill came over the players in the gym as Kageyama rounded on Hinata. His threatening footsteps echoed through the gym. Hinata had just flubbed a spike, and pretty badly. He'd hit the side of the ball, causing it to spin and somehow fly backward, landing on his own side of the court.

"Did you forget how to hit the ball?" Kageyama asked, his voice dangerously low.

This was it, first year Umeda Yasuo thought. Kageyama was finally about to murder Hinata. He hoped that Ukai would interrupt them before it got that far, but nobody was moving. Everyone was frozen, watching the scene play out before them.

Hinata stared up at Kageyama, and at first he seemed as scared as Yasuo was. But then his face broke into a wide grin, and he laughed right in Kageyama's face.

"What's with that scary expression?" Hinata asked, reaching up and pinching Kageyama's cheeks, stretching them out. "You know, if you frown too much your face will eventually get stuck like that."

"Get off me," Kageyama groaned, pulling Hinata's hands away. "You're a walking pit stain."

"It was a mistake, Yama. Don't get your tighty whities in a bunch."

"You're such a dumbass," Kageyama grumbled. "Don't pull that shit in an actual game or I'll kill you."

"You wouldn't. You'd miss me too much," Hinata replied smugly.

"You wish."

Hinata smacked Kageyama's ass as the setter turned to go back to his spot. Kageyama blushed bright red, and then Ukai called for them all to get back into action.

Yasuo was stunned. The tension in the room had diffused immediately when Hinata laughed. Even Kageyama had relaxed when Hinata's laughter rang out through the gym, even though he'd been the one being laughed at. Had Hinata done that on purpose? Did he know just the thing to do to calm Kageyama down, or did he just genuinely find Kageyama's scary face funny? Yasuo had a feeling there was more to their relationship than met the eye.

"That was terrifying," Koga Tsubasa whispered. The first years were gathered around, drinking from their water bottles after Ukai had called for them to take a after the first set.

"He's really intense," Yasuo added.

"He's an asshole," spat Nakasone Ryogi.

Yasuo and the other first years stared at him in surprise. Ryogi tended to be the quietest of their group. He was primarily a setter and had been working pretty closely with Kageyama and Seiki Michio, the second year setter.

"How was he in your setter practice the other day?" Tsubasa asked.

"Insane," Ryogi replied. "He expects everybody to have the kind of precision he has. And he was going on and on about getting to know the spikers and what kind of sets they like, but I can't imagine him actually trying to get to know anyone. Nothing is ever good enough for him."

"I kinda hate him," Sato Hayate said softly.

"You feel that way?" asked another voice.

The first years' stomachs dropped out, and they turned to face the new voice. Hinata. Karasuno's ace and vice-captain and boyfriend of the guy they'd been shit talking was watching them with a sad expression. He looked away from them, then down at the water bottle in his hands.

"He's been really stressed lately, and I know he's taking out on the team," Hinata said softly. "I didn't realize it was affecting all of you so much. I'll talk to him."

"No—don't—" Hayate started.

"I won't name you guys," Hinata told them, smiling warmly, and just like that he eased all of their tension yet again. "But if I don't talk to him, who will?"

Hinata walked away then, toward Ukai. The two of them talked for a moment, and then Hinata approached Kageyama, and they stepped out of the gym. Ryogi half expected to hear a fight break out, but they didn't hear anything. Ukai cancelled the rest of the practice match and had them do a lap of diving drills and then practice their serves.

The first years had almost forgotten about Hinata and Kageyama until the pair came back in. The jovial atmosphere that had developed while Kageyama was out immediately fizzled when he reentered the space. Ukai called them all into a huddle, and Kageyama remained standing as they all took a seat on the floor.

"I have something to say," Kageyama began. His hands were in fists at his sides, and he stared down at his shoes, his hair forming a curtain in front of his face.

Hinata cleared his throat lightly, and that caused Kageyama to look up. His eyes look red-rimmed. Ryogi looked at his fellow first years and saw that they were all wondering the same thing. Had he been crying?

"I've been unfair to you all," Kageyama said. "Overstepping, and pushing too hard, and not being patient. All that. This is my last year on this team. My last year with…with my family, here, in this place that's become my home. I just…I know we can be the best. I really want to get us there. But I wasn't going about it the right way. I forgot everything I've learned over the past two years.

"I know I can be intense. I've been told I look angry when I'm just thinking, and I scowl when I'm embarrassed. I can't control my temper. I look for perfection where it can't exist. I'm terrible at giving compliments. But, I'm working on it. I hope you'll be patient with me, even when I wasn't with you."

He looked slowly over the group, and offered them a tiny smile. It would've been more frightening than any other expression they'd seen on his face if it weren't for the shining of tears in his eyes.

"I hope you can forgive me, and I hope you can learn to trust me. This place means so much to me, and I want it to mean something to you too, and I don't want to get in the way of that. When I get to be too much again, just tell me, cause I know it'll happen. I just…I just don't want to let any of you down."

Kageyama's gaze returned to his shoes. "That's…that's it, I guess," he finished awkwardly.

"Thank you, Kageyama-kun," Takeda said quietly.

"We've got your back, Kageyama," Yamaguchi called and started clapping, and the second years joined in with other exclamations of encouragement. The first years half-heartedly clapped, unsure of what to make of this. The speech had been sincere if sloppy, but they'd have to see it Kageyama really try before they believed a word.

Kageyama took a seat next to Hinata and buried his face in the shorter boy's neck. Hinata put an arm over Kageyama's shoulder, fingers lightly pulling through Kageyama's black hair. They weren't usually so openly affectionate during practices, but it seemed like Kageyama was too exhausted by his speech to care, and nobody in the room was about to tell them to stop.

"Hinata got him to say all that?" Nishida Isamu whispered.

"Huh," was all Ryogi could muster.

"He really bared his soul there," Miyahara Katsuo said.

"Oh yeah," said a second year who overheard them: Shibata Sanji, their libero. "He did kind of the same thing last year, too. Got all perfectionist and King of the Court. Not as bad, though, cause Tanaka-san was there to kick him around. But anyway Hinata's the Kageyama whisperer. He always brings Bakageyama back down to earth."

The first years giggled at the nickname, but then Coach had started speaking again, and they tuned back into whatever announcements or plans were being discussed. They had a practice match against Nekoma coming up at the end of next week. As exciting as that was—their first match against another team!—Ryogi kept finding his attention drifting back to Kageyama and Hinata and the soft way that they were staring at each other, clearly lost in some wordless conversation.

The Kageyama whisperer, Ryogi thought to himself. No doubt.

/ \

then

For Kageyama, feelings were secondary, usually tertiary, in terms of what mattered to him. First and foremost was logic. Logic and practicality ruled everything he did. There was no reason to do something if it didn't make logical sense. Next was usually simplicity. He hated beating around the bush and making things more difficult than they had to be. One of his passions was analyzing a subject and breaking it down into simpler parts so he could cut away everything that was inefficient and extraneous.

There was only one thing in his life in which feelings tended to trump his solid logic and simplicity, and that was volleyball. Granted, logic and simplicity were still present. They were often what gave him the ability to stand above the rest, to come up with the plays and sets that he did. Other people were usually let their feelings get in the way, and that's why his team had turned on him that disastrous day in middle school.

But when it came to volleyball itself, Kageyama's feelings for the sport tended to overpower the other areas of his life. He would put off studying, cut early out of prep classes, and stay up late into the night just to practice more, watch more tape, analyze more plays. It made no logical sense. He couldn't play volleyball for the rest of his life, not like this. He needed his studies in order to advance and be successful, but he just couldn't control himself when it came to volleyball.

Yes, volleyball was the one thing which he allowed feelings to run free with. But slowly, without him realizing it, another thing got added to that small list. A thing with orange hair, warm eyes, and a smile like the sun.

Kageyama first began to notice it in the small urges he got to touch Hinata, to be close to the boy. He wanted to put his fingers through the curls at the nape of Hinata's neck. He wanted to trace the smile lines on Hinata's face when he laughed. He wanted to touch the expanse of skin at Hinata's waist when his shirt came untucked during practice.

It horrified him. It was completely illogical. These urges had nothing to do with volleyball, with helping Hinata improve, with getting their team to Nationals. They were nothing but a distraction. Yet, every time Kageyama resolved to end the urges, to push Hinata away, it just took one smile from Hinata and he was back where he started.

Things got worse when they started hanging out outside of volleyball. Somewhere along the way, they realized they no longer just tolerated each other and were actually friends and had decided to act like it once Nationals were over and they had some time to breathe.

Outside of the court, they started to do other things like play video games or watch movies or just talk. Volleyball was usually brought up at least once between them—it was their shared passion after all—but it was no longer the only thing that tied them together. And during these video game sessions or movie marathons or afternoons spent talking, Kageyama found himself indulging in his illogical feelings more and more.

He would press his side to Hinata's as they played games, despite there being plenty of room on the couch. He would let Hinata lay his head in Kageyama's lap while Kageyama played with his hair despite knowing this meant Hinata would fall asleep halfway through the movie and they'd have to start it over again the next time. He would hug Hinata when they said goodbye, despite the fact that his skin burned wherever Hinata touched it.

"…right Yama?" Hinata asked, his sleepy words coming slowly through Kageyama's headphones. He could almost imagine Hinata was there in his bedroom, whispering the words into his ears, causing goosebumps to raise along his arms.

"Mm," Kageyama replied, hardly listening. He couldn't even remember what they were talking about. Hinata was probably telling him more about his family vacation he was on, but Kageyama wouldn't have been able to remember details if his life depended on it.

"You're falling asleep," Hinata laughed, and it sounded as good as honey tasted.

"No 'm not," he mumbled, although he could barely keep his eyes open to continue staring at Hinata's contact photo on his phone. His head was resting on his arms, propped up on his pillow as he laid on his stomach on the bed. "You are," he said childishly.

"Idiot. It's past two."

"Okay."

"We should stop."

"You first."

Hinata laughed again, and Kageyama smiled stupidly. He wondered when he'd let himself get so soft. Part of him wanted to be angry about it—part of him wanted to be angry about everything he didn't understand—but he was too tired for it. He just wanted to enjoy this.

"Good night, Kageyama. Sweet dreams."

Kageyama hummed in response, opening his mouth to reply, but Hinata hung up first. His phone screen darkened, then locked. Kageyama stared at his moonlit reflection in the blank screen and could see the ridiculous, sappy expression on his face.

"What is wrong with me?" Kageyama asked himself. He'd never been like this before.

His phone lit up with a text from Hinata: I love talking to you. Kageyama's heart physically ached, and he imagined what the text would look like if the words "talking to" weren't there.

Oh.

Oh no.

His face burned, and he shoved it into his pillow, wondering if perhaps he could suffocate himself to death before he had to deal with the terrible realization that was overcoming him. He sent a quick, meaningless smiley face back to Hinata, then opened up his browser and began to search.

Several hours later, the sun began to rise as Kageyama sunk into despair. He'd taken thirteen quizzes, read twenty-seven articles about sexuality, and looked over eleven different wikiHows, and they all told him what he knew but didn't want to: he had a crush on Hinata Shouyou.

/ \

now

"That's it!" Kageyama called from the side when Ryogi executed a perfect set to Hinata. Hinata slammed the ball without hesitation, and it landed directly in front of Tsubasa, the outside hitter on the other side of the net. The ball had moved so quickly that Tsubasa didn't even have time to try to dig it up.

"Wahoo!" Hinata cheered, and the rest of the team yelled with him.

Ryogi stood stock still on the court, staring at his shoes, stunned. Kageyama had…complimented him. Well, barely, but he could hear the praise in the third year's voice. He lifted his hands and stared at his fingertips, trying to remember and memorize exactly what he'd done so he could do it again.

Things with Kageyama had markedly improved in the month since his apology speech. He'd taken his perfectionism down several notches, and the first years felt like they could actually joke around with him. Their practice game with the Karasuno Neighborhood Association had definitely helped, because several recent KMVB alumni had been able to make it. The first years were starstruck to meet some of these legendary alumni, and even more stunned to see them tease and rile up Kageyama the way they'd only seen Hinata do.

"I hear you've been scaring the first years," said Sawamura Daichi when he first rolled into the gym. He and Sugawara Koushi made a beeline straight for Kageyama, who looked terrified at their approach. It was a welcome change for the first years to see him scared for once instead of them.

"I thought I taught you better than that, Bakageyama," Sugawara teased, mercilessly ruffling Kageyama's hair once Sawamura got him into a headlock.

"Are we making fun of Kageyama?" Nishinoya Yuu asked, walking in with Tanaka Ryuunosuke and Ennoshita Chikara in tow.

"Yeah!" Hinata cheered, and Kageyama began cursing loudly, causing everyone in the gym to laugh.

Seeing Kageyama interact with his upperclassmen humanized him in a way nothing had before, and it broke down a lot of the walls Kageyama had put up at the beginning of the season. As the first years became more comfortable with him, he became more comfortable with them, and it was getting better. There were still the occasional hiccups, though.

"Focus up!" Ukai called, trying to regain control of his team after Hinata's spike.

Hinata was surrounded by first years, who were all showering praise on the spiker. They complimented his speed, his jumping power, his hitting accuracy. Hinata was acting humble, but really he was eating it up.

"Hinata!" Kageyama barked. "If you're done getting your ass kissed, we have a practice game to finish!"

"Kage-chan, are you jealous?" Hinata cooed.

"Of what?"

"That I look awesome without you!" Hinata taunted, then danced back to his position on the court as second year Ohara Satoshi served again.

Kageyama balled his hands into fists, and Hayate edged away from him on the bench they shared. Ukai had been benching Kageyama for a fair amount of their practice games, claiming the need to build up their second and first year setters, Michio and Ryogi. Ukai also said he valued Kageyama's analytical observations, which he could make better when he was on the side. Still, everyone could tell how much it bothered Kageyama to not be playing.

Most of the time Kageyama seemed fine with it. It allowed him to be the perfectionist he clearly wanted to be. Tonight, though, Kageyama was taking it more personally than ever before, and after Hinata's little remark he began specifically targeting every little thing Hinata did even slightly wrong.

"Hinata! Arch your back more!"

"Watch your footing!"

"Aim, goddammit! What are your eyes for?"

Hinata and Kageyama fighting wasn't an unusual occurrence at practice. They reminded Hayate of his older brothers, honestly, with the way they always got on each other's case about things. It made all the first years wonder how a dating relationship had even formed between them, if they acted like they couldn't stand each other most of the time. Everyone could tell that most of their fights were meaningless, though. But this fight was different. This fight seemed personal.

As practice continued, Kageyama's comments were beginning to affect Hinata's playing. He was getting flustered and losing focus, reacting just a hair too late to chance balls and hitting his spikes somewhat sloppily. Usually Hinata could laugh off his mistakes, but tonight they were just fodder for more of Kageyama's critiques. The normally bright-eyed ace had a dark expression now.

"Kageyama," Ukai said, quietly but firmly after Kageyama tore Hinata apart over another error he had apparently made but nobody else had seen. "Cool it."

Hayate saw Kageyama clench his jaw and furrow his brow, but he complied with Coach's instruction. For five minutes. Then Hinata caught a receive on his shoulder that he should've easily gotten with perfect form. The ball was sent whizzing toward Yachi on the sidelines. She expertly smacked it away before it hit her, so there was no damage done, but it caused Kageyama to lose it.

"Are you fucking serious?" Kageyama shouted, launching himself off the bench and over toward Hinata.

"Kageya—" Ukai started, but then Hinata was shouting too.

"Get off my back, Kageyama!" Hinata yelled, leaning up on his toes and getting right in Kageyama's face. "I can't carry you and the rest of the team!"

"Carry us? You can't carry anything, seeing as how you keep literally dropping the ball!"

"Well it's hard to focus when you keep yelling at me!"

"I wouldn't yell if you would just—"

"Be better! Yeah! Real helpful advice, Bakageyama!"

"This is all stuff you should know, you moron!"

"I do know it! I don't need you telling me! I don't need you at all!"

Kageyama took a step back, a look of genuine hurt passing over his face before it was quickly replaced by rage. "That's rich. You wouldn't be here right now if it weren't for me. You're nothing without me. You don't need me? No. I don't need you."

"Enough!" Ukai shouted, stepping between them and physically pushing them apart. But he was a moment too late. Kageyama had already taken it too far.

The silence in the gym was broken by a single sob, and everyone realized that Hinata was crying. Fat tears rolled down his cheeks, and the anger on Kageyama's face melted into an expression of horror.

"Fuck you, Tobio," Hinata hissed, then stomped out of the gym.

"Fix it," Ukai said, grabbing Kageyama by the back of his practice jersey and shoving him toward the gym doors. "And if I hear more yelling, so help me I will ban you from practice for a week. Maybe the rest of the year."

Kageyama fled, disappearing through the doorway into the dwindling twilight without a backward glance. Nobody moved. The atmosphere in the gym was heavy with shock. Were they about to break up? It sure seemed like it. How would the team function if their star players were suddenly exes? Then again, maybe it would be for the best. They sure did argue a lot.

"Take a water break," Ukai said, breaking the silence, and he went over to confer with Takeda and Yachi.

Hayate was about to get up to talk with his first year friends by the water bottles when he heard voices outside, and he realized it was Hinata and Kageyama. Their voices floated in from the ground floor windows he was sitting next to. Briefly, he wondered if he should move away to give them privacy, but curiosity rooted him to the spot.

"…na t-talk to you," he heard Hinata hiccup.

"Then don't talk. Just listen," Kageyama said softly, and it was such a marked difference in tone from two minutes earlier.

"What m-more could you h-h-have to s-say?" Hinata asked, a bitter tone in his voice. "You s-said it all."

"I didn't," Kageyama said. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean it. I only said it cause I knew it would hurt you. I…I was jealous. You know it kills me when I'm not out there playing, when I'm not with you. And tonight I saw you hitting all those great sets from Ryogi, and you were working so well together, and then you said you were awesome without me, and I…got upset."

Hinata scoffed derisively.

"Understatement, eh? I know. I lost my mind, and I took it out on you. That wasn't fair of me."

"You're a jerk," Hinata mumbled, and there as a muffled thump and Kageyama grunted. Hayate wondered if the shorter man had punched him. It seemed likely.

"I deserve that," Kageyama continued. "You know what I said isn't true. You know I don't believe that. You fly on your own wings, Hinata. I'm just lucky to be the wind beneath them sometimes."

Hinata let out a choked laugh. "Corny-yama."

"You were actually doing really well out there. I was making up half the shit I was criticizing you about."

"Ugh, I knew it! You asshole!"

Kageyama laughed. "I'm sorry. I really am. I won't do anything like that ever again."

"And?" Hinata prompted.

"And you can punch me again."

There was another soft thump followed by quiet laughter. "And?"

"And…and I'll buy you meat buns after practice."

"How many?"

"As many as you want."

"Promise?"

"Promise."

They were quiet for a long moment, and Hayate wondered if they'd walked away and were coming back to the gym now. But then he heard a wet smack and realized they were probably kissing. He blushed.

"It's you and me, Shouyou," Kageyama said quietly.

"You and me," Hinata said in confirmation.

"Ready to go back in there?"

"Yeah."

Hayate heard the rest of their conversation fade as they walked away from the window, and he heaved a sigh of relief. He was glad they didn't break up. The magazines and YouTube videos always made it seem like they worked perfectly and effortlessly together on the court. Once he'd met them, though, and seen them in action he saw that it actually took a lot of effort and conscious choice, which was even more admirable.

A couple years ago, when he was in middle school and all his classmates were discovering feelings and each other, Hayate had asked his mother what love was. She laughed and said most people thought it was butterflies and swooning and all the romantic stuff you see in movies.

"But the secret is," she'd said to him in conspiratorial voice, "it's actually none of those things. Love is hard work. It's choosing each other through good times and bad."

He thought she'd been spouting nonsense. But now, he admitted that maybe she had a point.

/ \

then

Hinata had expected the start of his second year to be the best yet. The team had gotten five new first years, Ennoshita and Tanaka were captain and vice-captain, Ukai had tons of plans for training regimens and such, and Hinata had a best friend with whom he could tackle anything.

Or so he'd thought.

After months of growing closer, things had suddenly hit a wall. Worse than that, they were regressing. Hinata had been upset when he'd realized his feelings for Kageyama, because he knew it could never happen. Kageyama barely liked people, and he was only friends with Hinata because Hinata hadn't given him another option. There was no way something romantic could happen between them. Still, he'd resolved to be happy with being friends, to be content with what he had, even if he'd always want more.

But now, Kageyama was pulling away from him, and Hinata couldn't figure out why. When Hinata and his family came back from their vacation, he'd expected to hang out with Kageyama every day until school started again the following week, but they didn't hang out at all.

At first, Kageyama had claimed he was sick, so Hinata gave him space, and they just texted a little. But when school started, he said he was too busy with homework but that he didn't want to study together. He stopped responding to Hinata's texts and didn't answer any calls. He avoided Hinata in the halls at school and didn't make eye contact at practice. He made excuses to not walk home with Hinata to their halfway point like they'd been doing for months. He'd essentially abandoned Hinata, for no clear reason, and it was tearing Hinata apart.

The change in their relationship was affecting the team, too. Hinata was despondent in practice, missing easy hits and screwing up plays. Kageyama's sets were faulty, he hardly ever tossed to Hinata now, and he was constantly blowing up at the team. Not even Tanaka and Noya's wildest antics could make the pair smile, and nothing Ennoshita said got through to them. Nobody could make sense of what had changed. They'd been tight at the end of the year, but now they never looked at each other. They weren't even arguing like they used to. Ukai was about ready to tear his hair out.

"I don't know what's gotten into them," Ukai complained to Takeda after practice one night. He itched for a cigarette, but they were still on school property. "I thought maybe it was start of year jitters, but it's been weeks now."

"I'll try talking to them," Takeda told him. He'd sounded confident, but he was deeply unsure. How was he supposed to fix a friendship as volatile as Hinata and Kageyama's?

The next day, Takeda attempted talking to each of the boys about what was bothering them. Kageyama, true to form, had been surly and unresponsive. Perhaps it hadn't been Takeda's best idea to pull him from class for this conversation. Kageyama had stood there in the door of the teacher's lounge looking cagey and uncomfortable, denying any problems—at home, with the team, with Hinata—until Takeda finally sent him back to class.

Takeda then tried Hinata, but he did it after practice instead.

"Hinata-kun?" Takeda called. "Will you help me carry these to the club room?"

"Yes sir!" he responded, and Takeda saw him cast a look over his shoulder as Kageyama left the gym without a word to anyone.

"I've noticed you and Kageyama aren't getting along lately," Takeda said as they ascended the stairs, thinking the direct route was the easiest to take with Hinata.

"We've never gotten along," Hinata said, staring down at the bag of volleyballs he was carrying.

"Now, that's not true," Takeda replied. "Your friendship may be more prickly than most, but everyone can see that you care about each other."

"Not anymore," Hinata said softly.

"What does that mean?"

Tears formed in Hinata's eyes, and Takeda wished he'd been carrying a box of clean sweat rags instead of dirty ones. Hinata didn't seem to mind though, using the end of his sweatshirt sleeve to wipe at his eyes.

"K-Kageyama doesn't talk to me anymore," Hinata cried. "And I d-d-don't know what I d-did wrong!"

"It may not have been you," Takeda said, letting them into the clubroom and setting the box down on the shelf marked 'dirty.' "It may be something he's going through. Sometimes we push away the people we love because we're scared."

"That's stupid. Why would someone ever do that?" Hinata grumbled, tossing the bag of volleyballs into the corner, and Takeda laughed. Hinata certainly was the kind of person who wore his heart on his sleeve. The concept was completely foreign to him.

"Well, perhaps you just need to show Kageyama how much you care about him," Takeda said.

"I thought I was!" Hinata exploded. The tears falling down his cheeks were angry now. "We were hanging out every day! We had sleepovers and talked for hours! I have my mom buy rice milk just for him! I saved my allowance and bought the video game he's been wanting so we could play it together! I…I…"

Takeda watched as Hinata visibly deflated and returned to staring at his sneakers.

"Maybe it's me. Maybe I pushed him away. I can be too much for people," Hinata mumbled. His fingers picked at the wet tear stains on his cuff.

Takeda's heart broke a little. "You're perfect the way you are, Hinata. Everyone on the team values your energetic spirit."

Hinata smiled a bit, though it didn't reach his eyes. "Thanks, sensei."

"Have you tried talking to Kageyama?" Takeda asked.

"Not anymore. He just ignores me. What's the point?"

Takeda had never seen Hinata like this. The kid never backed down from a challenge. No matter how much bigger, faster, stronger, or more skilled an opponent was, Hinata faced it head on with a smile. Adversity usually thrilled him, but apparently not this kind.

"I'm surprised, Hinata-kun," Takeda said, smiling gently at him. "I've never thought of you as a quitter. If Kageama's putting up walls, you of all people should be able to jump over them."

Hinata inhaled sharply, and his shoulders stopped shaking. His hands clenched into fists, and he looked up at Takeda, a fire suddenly burning in his red-rimmed eyes.

"You're right," Hinata said. "I'll make him listen to me!"

Takeda felt a little apprehensive as he thought about what making Kageyama listen would look like, but if it was legal and nobody got hurt Takeda wasn't going to stop him.

"Go for it," he encouraged.

"Thanks, sensei!" Hinata called over his shoulder as he sped out of the clubroom.

Hinata's heart and thoughts raced as he collected his bike and raced down the road, taking the familiar route toward Kageyama's house. He'd get Kageyama to listen to him, somehow. They had to work things out. He was desperate to keep Kageyama in his life. And if Kageyama truly didn't want to be his friend anymore…

His throat burned at the thought of that, but he knew he'd have to accept it if that was the case. If they couldn't be friends, then they at least had to figure out how to be teammates. For the sake of the team.

He wobbled on his bike as he fished his phone out of his back pocket, then pressed on Kageyama's speed dial. Straight to voicemail.

"ANSWER THE PHONE BAKAGEYAMA!" Hinata screamed into the phone, then tried again and got sent to voicemail four more times.

Hinata turned the corner onto Kageyama's block and saw that there were no cars in the driveway, meaning if Kageyama was home then he was home alone. He practically fell off his bike as he clambered to the front door, abusing the doorbell. He could hear it going off repeatedly in the house, but he didn't hear any footsteps. Either Kageyama really wasn't home, or he was ignoring the door because he knew it was Hinata.

Fuming, Hinata went around the side of the house and stared up at what he knew was Kageyama's bedroom window. The window was closed, and the curtains were drawn. He looked down and was tempted to throw the decorative stones at Kageyama's window, but he would feel bad for ruining Mrs. Kageyama's immaculate yard. Then a brilliant idea came to him.

Thwack!

Kageyama startled, bringing his head out from under his pillow and pulling the headphones from his ears. He'd been wondering when this day would come, when Hinata would finally confront him about his coldness. And judging from the missed calls on his phone and the merciless doorbell-ringing, that day was today.

Thwack!

There was that strange sound again, coming from the side of the house. It almost sounded like…a volleyball?

Thwack!

Annoyance reared up in Kageyama as he climbed off his unmade bed, almost tripping over his sheets, and pulled open the curtains to see Hinata Shouyou about to throw a volleyball at his house. He threw open the window.

"What the fuck are you doing?!" Kageyama screamed, hanging his head and shoulders out.

Hinata turned slightly to look at him, mouth agape, already mid-swing and—

Thump!

The ball hit Kageyama square in the face and ricocheted over the fence into his neighbor's yard.

"Shit!" Hinata exclaimed, sprinting out of the side yard to fetch it with his signature speed.

Kageyama stumbled away from his window, hands over his stinging face. His stomach roiled with anger, and he turned to run out of his room.

After realizing his feelings for Hinata, Kageyama had been overcome by an anguish like nothing he'd ever experienced. He didn't leave his room for days, hardly ate anything his mother brought to him, and didn't even answer Hinata's phone calls. It hurt too much to talk to him, knowing they could never be together. Not the way Kageyama wanted them to be.

There was no chance, he knew. Hinata liked girls. He'd heard Hinata talk about girls, heard him and Tanaka and Noya go on and on about Kiyoko's beauty, heard him and the others compare girls on the covers of magazines. Hinata liked girls, and Kageyama wasn't a girl. Kageyama also wasn't likeable. Nobody had ever confessed to him, never given him an appraising look, but it hadn't bothered him. He'd never entertained thoughts of dating and relationships before. It just never interested him. He had volleyball, and that was enough.

But now he had Hinata. Hinata, who drove logic and simplicity out of his mind with a single smile. Kageyama was amazed he'd gotten this far without realizing his crush sooner. Looking back over the past few months, it was there clear as day: the skip in his heart when Hinata laughed, the tingle of his skin where Hinata touched it, the way he slept best when he fell asleep to Hinata's voice crackling through the phone.

Hinata was his first and only friend—his best friend—and he couldn't ruin that by letting his stupid, illogical feelings get in the way. So he'd resolved to get over Hinata by keeping him at a distance. Kageyama would limit the time they spent together in person, and he'd text instead of calling. It helped that Hinata was still on vacation when Kageyama had his revelation and they couldn't see each other. It gave Kageyama time to build up his walls.

But then Hinata was back, and even the thought of being near him, being able to touch him, burned Kageyama from the inside out. He knew he wouldn't be able to resist. So before Hinata could reject him, he rejected Hinata.

It hurt. It was like he could feel his heart breaking more and more every time he turned away from Hinata, avoided his gaze, ignored him in the hall, tossed the ball to someone else. And he could feel Hinata's eyes on him every time, could hear the pain and confusion in Hinata's unanswered texts. But he didn't trust himself to explain without confessing, so he just kept pushing Hinata farther away.

Kageyama wasn't stupid. He knew Hinata would get fed up eventually. Hinata wasn't the kind of person who wouldn't push back against resistance. He'd just hoped that he would be over his crush by the time Hinata finally confronted him so they could fight about it and go back to normal.

But there was no avoiding this now.

He thundered down the stairs and flew out his front door, finding Hinata sneaking out of his neighbor's yard with the volleyball in his hands.

"You dumpster-diving shit-stain!" Kageyama screamed as he stomped up to the shorter boy, looming menacingly over him. He was giving in to his anger more than he would usually, letting it drown out the ache he felt in his bones from being this close to Hinata. "You catastrophe of a human being! What the fuck were you thinking?"

"I didn't mean to hit you, but I had to get your attention, dumbass!" Hinata yelled back. "You weren't answering the phone or the door!"

"Because I don't want to talk to you!"

"Why not?"

"Because!"

"That's not an answer, Shitty-yama," Hinata spat. "Takeda says you might be pushing me away because you're scared. What are you scared of?"

"Nothing!" Kageyama yelled, cringing inwardly at Takeda's accurate assessment of him. "Takeda doesn't know shit about me, and neither do you!"

"That's not true! I know you, Kageyama Tobio!" Hinata howled. "I know you love cats, and that you're lactose intolerant."

"Shut up," Kageyama growled, feeling a blush starting to spread across his still stinging face.

Hinata somehow got louder. "I know you think you're a night person but you're actually morning person and you're just terrible at waking up. You secretly love romcoms. You want people to trust you, but you don't like trusting others. Your favorite color is brown, which is just so lame, you know?"

"Hinata—"

"And like, yeah, it's lame, but it's also so you I can't stand it," Hinata continued, his face going red from yelling so much. "You're always scowling except when it's just us. You probably need glasses but refuse to admit it. And you have a ridiculous nail care regimen—" Hinata reached for Kageyama's hand, probably to hold it up as proof. His fingers brushed along Kageyama's wrist, and Kageyama ripped away from him, staggering several steps back.

"Don't!" Kageyama yelped. "Stop it! Just…just stop it, okay?"

"Why?" Hinata pleaded. "I know you. You're my best friend, Ka—"

"It hurts," Kageyama said brokenly, his shoulders sagging. "It hurts too much."

Hinata's mind buzzed, trying to make sense of this all. "What do you mean? Talk to me."

"I can't do this. I can't be friends with you."

"Why the fuck not?!"

"Because I have a fucking crush on you!" Kageyama bellowed. "Because I lose my mind whenever you—and I l-look—and want—um—"

He stopped, realizing what he'd said. A cold fear flooded through him, and he wanted to run away but he was frozen to the spot. Hinata was frozen too. This was it. Hinata would hate him. This was the end of it. Kageyama stared at the sidewalk, willing himself not to cry.

Thoughts swirled around in Hinata's mind as he put all the pieces together. Kageyama had finally spelled it out for him, but even so his body had always been faster than his brain. All the tension in Hinata's body had to go somewhere, and as usual it pooled in his legs, so he did the only thing that had always come naturally to him: he jumped.

His arms were outstretched, both feet off the ground, and a moment later their heads crashed together. Kageyama stumbled, barely keeping them upright as his arms instinctively wrapped around Hinata's waist to hold him up. Their noses smooshed, their teeth scraped, and Hinata's arms came down hard on Kageyama's shoulders. It was hardly a kiss, more of a collision of mouths, but it matched the explosions in their hearts.

Hinata's feet found the ground again, and his hands went to the back of Kageyama's head, and they tried again, awkwardly trying to find the position in which they fit. It didn't take long. Hinata tilted his head to the side, Kageyama tilting the opposite way as he stooped over, and this time when their bruised lips met it felt like an answer to a question they hadn't realized they'd been asking.

"Wha—what—" Kageyama gasped as they pulled apart, arms still around each other and foreheads pressed together.

"I like you too, Bakageyama," Hinata whispered, fingers dancing through the short hairs at the base of Kageyama's neck. It gave him goosebumps, and he was sure this was a dream.

"You're…gay?" Kageyama asked.

"Bisexual," Hinata replied, and it was like a light flipped on inside of Kageyama. He'd read about all the different terms and identities—he always was a careful study—but in his despair and denial he'd told himself Hinata could only ever be straight. "And you?"

"Um, demi, I think," he answered. "Dunno. It's only ever been you."

Hinata's expression became pinched, and Kageyama worried that he'd said the wrong thing, but then Hinata screeched, "That's so fucking cheesy!"

Kageyama blushed furiously. "Shut up, you blowhard!"

"Oh my god." Hinata began to dissolve into a fit of laughter, and the sound nearly sent Kageyama into sensory overload. "Oh my god, we're so dumb."

"Speak for yourself," Kageyama grumbled.

"This whole time?" Hinata asked, eyes shining with hope and happiness.

"…the past couple months?" Kageyama shrugged. "I don't know exactly when it happened."

Hinata smiled, because that's how he felt too. Looking back, the progression of their friendship both seemed like a long haul and something that had happened all at once. He couldn't tell when they'd moved from one phase to another, just that they had. And here was a new phase.

"So, are you, like, my boyfriend now?" he asked.

Kageyama shuddered, and Hinata frowned.

"What's wrong?"

"Sayitagain."

"What?"

Kageyama glared at him, but there was no heat in it. "Sat it again."

Hinata's heart swelled. "You're my boyfriend now, right?"

"Y-Yeah," Kageyama stammered. "Yes. I guess. Right? Do you want that?"

"God you're dumb," Hinata sighed. "You're really fucking useless when it comes to people and feelings, aren't you? Are you sure you don't just have a volleyball pounding away in your chest instead of a heart?"

"Shut—"

"Yes, Tobio," Hinata interrupted, and Kageyama shivered. "We're boyfriends now."

This had to be a dream, Kageyama decided. But if he was dreaming, he was going to milk it for all it was worth. "That means I can kiss you whenever I want to, right?"

"Yeah," Hinata sighed, and his eyes drifted down to stare at Kageyama's lips, which thrilled Kageyama like nothing else. "But we should probably get out of the street."

He froze. He'd forgotten that they were in public. His face flushed scarlet as he remembered everything that had just transpired—Hinata shouting all his secrets, the fumbled first kiss, the confession—and he knew that all his neighbors had probably been watching them. What were they thinking? Would they tell his parents? What—

"Hey." Hinata tugged sharply at the lapels of Kageyama's jacket. "Don't do that."

"What?" Kageyama asked.

"Overthink."

"Easy for you to say," Kageyama retorted easily. "You've never overthought anything in your life. You don't have enough braincells."

"Hey—!" Hinata started, but Kageyama took his hand and tugged him toward the house.

"Come on in, you idiot," Kageyama said. "We have a movie to finish, don't we?"

A warmth began to bloom in Hinata's heart, filling him with a sort of indescribable, buzzing happiness. Kageyama's hand was big and warm and enveloped his perfectly, like they were made for this. And when Kageyama shut the door behind him and let go of his hand to put it on his cheek, bringing him in for another kiss, Hinata was sure he'd never been happier.

/ \

now

Excitement was in the air as the team gathered outside the gym. It was time for them to go to the legendary annual training camp in Tokyo. The team was high off their performance at the Interhigh, placing fourth in the Miyagi Prefecture, which set them up nicely for the Spring National qualifiers in a few months.

A week earlier, Takeda had sent them all home with permission slips and packing lists, and everybody managed to pass all their classes and exams so nobody had to stay behind doing makeup work. Interestingly, the packing list had included "headphones" as required rather than recommended. The first years had assumed it was perhaps a typo, or maybe they would have to study plays on their phones during the bus ride.

They very quickly learned why headphones were required, and like many things on the Karasuno Men's Volleyball Team, it had to do with Hinata and Kageyama.

"Why would you eat a tuna sandwich before getting on a bus with all of us?" Kageyama yelled.

"I was hungry, and it was all we had in the pantry!" Hinata yelled back.

"You could've at least brushed your teeth!"

"I did!" Hinata exclaimed. "Wanna brush them for me next time?"

"Gross, no! Ugh—get off me, you reek!"

"Kageyamaaaa," Hinata whined as he climbed on top of Kageyama, breathing hard in his face. "Why don't you love meeee?"

"You're disgusting. You smell like the underside of your grandpa's balls."

Yasuo had to stifle a laugh at that. He and Ryogi were sitting right in front of the pair, and their headphones were doing nothing to block out the couple's arguing. A few minutes later, though the bus seemed quieter, and Yasuo took his headphones out.

He exchanged smiles of relief with Ryogi, then noticed Hideo and Tsubasa were turned around, blushing and staring in horror at something happening behind them. Filled with apprehension, Yasuo turned around and found the two star players were now making out instead of arguing.

Hinata was still in Kageyama's lap, and Kageyama clearly no longer cared about Hinata's breath, because he had one hand on the back of the spiker's head and one on his back, holding him in place. Hinata's hands were clasped on either side of Kageyama's face, and as they kissed he started making tiny little noises. Yasuo quickly put his headphones back in and whipped back around in his seat.

"Y-Yachi-senpai?" Isamu asked from where he sat across from the manager.

The manager took one of her earbuds out and turned to look at Hayate and Isamu, who were sitting across the aisle from her. Isamu caught a glimpse of her phone screen, which showed a text thread filled with heart emojis. He assumed she was texting with Seno Mizuki, her girlfriend and captain of the women's volleyball team.

"I-Is that allowed?" Hayate asked, pointing back at Kageyama and Hinata.

She turned around and sighed exasperatedly. "OI! Out of his lap, Hinata!" she shouted.

Hinata slid quickly back onto the bench, but he and Kageyama didn't stop kissing. The rest of the second and third years didn't react to this in the slightest, as if it were completely normal.

She turned back to the newer players. "Technically, no, the school would kill us if they found out. But as long as they're upright and all their clothes stay in place, we allow it. If it bothers you, we can ask them to stop."

"N-No, I…I can't, no way," Isamu replied, thinking of the fury Kageyama could unleash on them if they cockblocked him.

"I can," Tsukishima said from behind him, and the tall blond suddenly chucked one of Yamaguchi's gym shoes toward the couple.

"Tsukki—" Yamaguchi started in complaint, but he was drowned out by Tsukishima shouting toward the back of the bus.

"Hey perverts, cut it out!"

"Ugh, suck a dick Tsukishima!" Hinata shouted, pulling away from Kageyama. "Sucky-shima!" he crowed, eyes alight with the possibilities of this new nickname.

"Looks like you've already got that covered," Tsukishima retorted. Hinata laughed loudly as Kageyama blushed scarlet.

"Pipe down, sensei's trying to drive!" Ukai barked from the front seat.

"Sorry, coach!"

Isamu half-expected Hinata and Kageyama to start kissing again, but it seemed like they got the message. Hinata passed Yamaguchi's shoe forward, then threw his legs over Kageyama's lap and cuddled close to him on the bus seat. Kageyama offered Hinata an earbud then put his arm around Hinata's shoulders and they started watching something on Kageyama's phone screen.

"They're usually more chill than that," Yachi continued, rolling her eyes. "They just get really clingy before long trips like this, since they're not out in public."

"Not…out?" Isamu repeated. "But…" He reflected on the past several months. While the only times they'd ever been super public with their affection had been the first day at the gym and just now, it didn't seem like Hinata and Kageyama had ever worried about people knowing. They weren't exactly subtle.

"They'll explain before we get off the bus, but basically they're kind of an open secret," Yachi told them. "They're out at school and to our team, but outside of Karasuno only some of their friends know. That's why you've never read about it in sports mags or anything. So they're about to spend a week together yet apart."

Isamu looked back at the pair. Despite the wild dysfunctional state they seemed to constantly inhabit, they really seemed head over heels for each other. They'd just recently celebrated their first anniversary, after all. It made Isamu sad to know they felt they had to hide their relationship, but he was glad they were comfortable being themselves around the team—even if it made everyone else distinctly uncomfortable at times.

/ \

then

The shift in Hinata and Kageyama's dynamic had done a 180 overnight. They'd been surly and upset and disjointed one day, and the next it was like those weeks of tension had never happened. The pair were on fire once again, even more than before. Hinata's spikes were thunderous, his receives were sharp, and when he jumped it really looked like he was flying, if just for a moment. Kageyama was analytical and quick, but not overly aggressive and was actually getting along with the rest of the team. And, the two were arguing again, not in a bad way, but like it was their favorite thing to do. It somehow put a smile on everyone's face.

"Sensei, are you a magician?" Ukai said, watching as Kageyama and Hinata's quick attack scored them yet another point in their practice match against Aoba Johsai.

"Hardly," Takeda replied with a laugh. "I just spoke to them. They did all the work themselves."

"I'm buying every round for the rest of your life, man," Ukai said.

"Careful, I might just hold you to that."

"I don't care. I owe you. This is amazing."

Nobody knew what had changed in Hinata and Kageyama's friendship. They didn't know that when Hinata and Kageyama reached the halfway point on their way home from school, Kageyama would pull Hinata behind the corner market and kiss him, and Hinata would act surprised every time. They didn't know about the way Hinata blushed when Kageyama's long fingers explored the skin under Hinata's shirt when they were alone in his room. They didn't hear the affection as they screamed insults at each other in practice, or how "You're a goddamn moron" actually meant "You're my goddamn moron."

And that was what made it exciting at first. Stolen kisses full of fire and urgency. Meaningful glances from across the room. The electric shock when their hands lingered just slightly too long. Nobody noticed, and it was fun, like they'd started a secret club.

Hinata had a suspicion that some of them noticed, actually. There was the time that Yachi very loudly fumbled her keys outside the door when they'd been making out in the club room, or when Ennoshita wouldn't stop staring at them when they came back late after separating from the group on what was supposed to be a team run. And then, at the Tokyo training camp, he was pretty sure Takeda had seen them sneaking out of the room to make out by the vending machines.

He wasn't about to point any of this out to Kageyama, though. Kageyama was nervous enough about people finding out about them. He worried about what his parents would think, what Hinata's parents would think, about what the teachers and their classmates and their team would think—although Hinata thought that last one was really stupid since Daichi and Suga had come out about their own relationship at the end of last year and were met with nothing but love and acceptance.

Still, Hinata kind of enjoyed the secrecy and the sneaking around. Sometimes he pretended they were the stars in a cheesy forbidden romance movie, like they were enemy spies or on rival sports teams. Kageyama laughed at him when he told them this. But Hinata didn't care. It was fun, and he liked fun.

But the fun had to end eventually.

"Hinata, you sly bastard!" Tanaka shouted when Hinata approached the team bus where the rest of them were waiting. "What did she say?"

It was the end of the Interhigh, and Karasuno had placed second, narrowly losing to Shiratorizawa in a deuce. While the loss sucked, and they would definitely cry about it over dinner, it was such an improvement from last year that the second and third years were experiencing a strange combination of elation and disappointment.

When they'd been leaving the school to head home at the end of it—an intimidating crowd of boisterous players all shoving each other and messing around—Hinata had been approached by a girl. She asked if she could talk to him, and Hinata complied, as agreeable and kind as ever, and it was only when Tanaka and Noya catcalled them as they walked somewhere more private that Hinata realized what the situation was.

"You were really spectacular out there," she said, blushing and looking down. "My brother plays for Wakutani South. You beat them last year, and I remember you."

"Oh, thanks!" Hinata said, rubbing the back of his head awkwardly and wishing he hadn't gone with her. He wondered what Kageyama was thinking right now.

"Anyway, I…I wanted to give you this," she said and held out a piece of paper with numbers on it. "You can text me, and we can maybe hang out sometime?"

"I, uh, I'm…dating someone," Hinata replied.

Her hopeful expression turned mortified, and she crumpled the paper in her hand. "Oh! Oh, of course! I'm sorry!"

"It's okay!" Hinata said hurriedly. His stomach was squirming. "Thank you, though!"

"Yes, um…have a safe trip home!" she said, then departed quickly.

Hinata dragged his hands through his hair, feeling bad for hurting her and probably embarrassing her. He trudged back to the school, already dreading what the team was going to say.

"What'd she say, huh?" Tanaka asked, throwing an arm over Hinata's shoulders and poking his cheek. "Did she confess her undying love for you?"

"Did you get her number?" Noya asked eagerly.

"No," Hinata grumbled, trying and failing to shove his upperclassman off of him. "No, she just wanted to tell us good game."

"Please, you're just embarrassed!" Tanaka said. "It's okay, you can tell your senpais."

"I didn't get her number!" Hinata exclaimed, which was the truth.

"Dropped the ball, man," Tanaka said, shaking his head with disappointment.

"Why didn't you?" Noya questioned, then his eyes lit up. "Do you already have a crush on someone?"

Panic flared through Hinata. "I…I…" He glanced wildly around, trying to search for some escape, and his eyes caught on Kageyama's pinched and angry face. Kageyama looked away quickly, and Hinata felt like he was going to be sick.

Noya saw where his gaze landed, but he misread the situation. "Aw, don't worry about little Kageyama," he said. "I'm sure your girl will have a friend we can pair him with. Then you can double date!"

"Even if she doesn't, you could probably just stick a volleyball onto a mannequin and call it good!" Tanaka sniggered.

"Yeah, what about it Hinata?"

For the first time in his life, Hinata had nothing to say. All his words dried up inside him. He couldn't give the excuse of dating someone to his teammates like he had with the girl. He knew they wouldn't stop pestering him until he told them who it was, and he didn't want to lie and say it was some faceless girl. But he didn't know how to get them to drop it. And he didn't trust himself to not accidentally tell the truth and out them without talking to Kageyama about it first.

"Hey!" There was a loud metallic smack! and they turned to see that Yachi had hit the side of the bus, her eyes fierce and annoyed. "Leave him alone! He's clearly uncomfortable!"

Tanaka and Noya froze, then Tanaka's arm slid from Hinata's shoulders.

"Sorry about that, little bro," Tanaka said sincerely. "You don't have to do anything you don't want to."

"Yeah, we didn't mean to bug you about it," Noya added. "We're just jealous. No girl's ever tried to give us her number."

"Speak for yourself!" Tanaka exclaimed indignantly.

"She was trying to get you to give her number to Daichi, that doesn't count!" Noya retorted.

Tanaka yelled back, and with the attention off of him, Hinata felt his muscles relax. He managed to unclench his jaw and smiled gratefully at Yachi.

"Thanks," he told her. "That was really cool."

She shook her hand out. "Oh good. It felt cool. But man, remind me not to hit any more buses. Damn."

He laughed and felt a rush of affection for her. Yachi had grown a lot in her manager role over the past few months. She had a boundless energy that almost rivaled Hinata's, but she'd always been fairly timid and almost fragile. Seeing her in moments like this, where she was confident and took control, made him feel ridiculously proud.

Someone spotted Ukai was walking up to the group, game DVDs in hand, and then it was time to go. They boarded the bus, each taking their seats, and Hinata slid in next to Kageyama. Kageyama had himself pressed against the window, shoulders hunched, headphones in, looking as uninviting as possible.

Hinata's heart hurt. He didn't know what he'd done wrong. All he wanted to do was talk to Kageyama, because he wasn't good at reading between the lines. He needed Kageyama to tell him what was bothering him, but they were on a bus full of people who didn't know, and having a fight over a girl was not the way to come out to them.

So instead of talking, he decided to text.

Hinata: i didnt get that girls nmbr

He heard Kageyama's phone buzz, and the boy pulled out his phone. His blue eyes scanned the screen, then looked at Hinata next to him. Hinata looked back imploringly, begging him to text back. He couldn't wait to talk aloud in person. He couldn't handle the hours-long bus ride with this sitting between them the whole time.

Kageyama's fingers tapped out a response, and then Hinata's phone went off.

Kageyama: She still offered it tho
Kageyama: ?
Hinata: yea

Beside him, Kageyama huffed and set his phone back in his lap. Hinata's eyes burned.

Hinata: what did I do wrong????! Did u want me to take it?

Kageyama didn't reach for his phone.

Hinata: talk 2 me!!!!
Hinata: kageyama
Hinata: kageyama
Hinata: kageyama
Hinata: kage
Hinata: yama
Hinata: kageyama i stg i will blow up ur phone
Hinata: talk 2 me
Hinata: talk 2 me
Hinata: talk 1me
Hinata: *2
Hinata: hey
Hinata: hey
Hinata: hey
Hinata: k
Hinata: a
Hinata: g
Hinata: e
Hinata: y

With an incomprehensible grumble, Kageyama picked up his phone again. Hinata was partially disappointed that he didn't get to finish spelling out Kageyama's name, but he wasn't about to complain. He waited expectantly as Kageyama scrolled through the spam messages and then responded.

Kageyama: Did you want it?
Kageyama: Her number
Hinata: no!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kageyama huffed, and Hinata didn't understand how he could be angry about that.

Hinata: why r u mad at me?
Kageyama: Not you
Kageyama: Me
Hinata: ?????????
Hinata: ????
Hinata: ?????
Hinata: ??
Kageyama: Stop!
Kageyama: Later, k?
Hinata: fine
Hinata: only
Hinata: if u can be
Hinata: NORMAL
Hinata: now
Hinata: plz?

Kageyama didn't respond, and he didn't move. Hinata shifted closer to him on the bus seat, and Kageyama heaved a sigh. He stopped huddling himself against the window and sat like he usually did, with his side pressed against Hinata's. Hinata cautiously put his hand down between their legs, then curled his fingers into the fabric of Kageyama's athletic pants. Kageyama briefly brushed his fingers over Hinata's, then folded his hands in his lap.

It wasn't perfect, but Hinata would take it.

After the team dinner, where they all laughed through tears and told jokes and teased each other, Kageyama and Hinata began their trek home. They were silent at first, and Hinata thought Kageyama was just waiting until they had put more distance between them and the team, but then it became apparent that Kageyama was just stalling.

"Well?" Hinata prompted, far quieter than he'd normally be.

Kageyama grunted in response. He wasn't good at feelings. He knew this. Hinata knew this. Kageyama liked logic and simplicity, and what he was feeling pertained to none of those things. It wasn't Hinata's fault that a girl found him attractive, and he'd turned the girl down which had been the right thing to do. There wasn't any problem. So why was he so upset?

"You said you weren't mad at me, that you were mad at yourself," Hinata continued, speaking slowly as if Kageyama were a wild animal that could bolt at any moment. "Why's that?"

How was Hinata being more mature than him about this? It pissed him off, which of course was the immature reaction. Acknowledging that just made him angrier, though.

"What ticked you off?" Hinata asked, and his voice got less gentle as his patience wore out. Kageyama was surprised it lasted this long, honestly. "Was it the girl? Was it Tanaka and Noya? Was it me?"

"I don't…" Kageyama started. He swallowed. "Was she cute?"

"What?"

"The girl. Was she cute?"

Hinata was silent. Kageyama wished he hadn't asked that. He didn't want to know the answer.

"Yeah, I guess," Hinata replied.

"You guess?" Kageyama scoffed. "What, you didn't notice?"

"No, I was just thinking about you."

Kageyama blushed. "That's stupid."

"Yeah, well, so are you."

"I—" He turned to yell at Hinata, but the shorter boy had a finger in his face already.

"Don't you even start, you ass," Hinata snapped. "You've been in a bad mood for hours now and you claim it's not my fault but you're lashing out at me!"

He had no response to that. "Sorry." Okay, so he had one response.

"Just fucking talk to me," Hinata demanded. "What's got you so pissed off?"

"I can't help thinking that you'd probably be better off with her than with me!" Kageyama said, the words coming out all in a rush.

Hinata gaped at him. "What?!"

"I'm difficult. I'm grumpy. I take my emotions out on others because I'm incapable of processing them myself," Kageyama said. "Being with her would be easier. And she's a girl, so you wouldn't have to come out, you could forget this stupid secret fling, and you could get married and have babies and live a normal life."

"I don't want—"

"You'll get bored of me, tired of me, sick of me," Kageyama continued. "And I can't blame you. Nobody would. It's just gonna be a matter of time, and you'll meet a nice girl and ditch me and start dating her. Maybe it'll even be Yachi, and—"

"Yachi?" Hinata snorted. "No, that'll never—"

"Why not? You get along, and she's cute, and you both get excited over stupid stuff," Kageyama said.

Hinata ground his teeth together. "I don't like Ya—"

"Yet! You could like her, or some other girl, and then you'll realize, and—"

"Stop telling me what I'll feel!" Hinata screamed, throwing his bike to the ground. "Fuck, Kageyama, do you even know me?"

Kageyama stopped walking and stared at him.

"I'll get bored of you?" Hinata repeated. "Tobio, you're the most fascinating person I've ever met. I can't get enough of you. The only time I'm sick of you is when you're being like this. I don't want a nice girl. I want you."

"You…" Kageyama swallowed. "What?"

"You know I'm serious about this, right?" Hinata asked. His shoulders drooped, and he suddenly looked sad instead of mad. "We've been dating for three months now, Kageyama. Have you felt like this the whole time?"

Not consciously, no. He wasn't good at feelings. But there had been a tension in his chest the whole time that he'd never had a name for until now. This thing with Hinata was too good to be true and had been from the start, like a dream he'd have to wake up from eventually. He'd never had something this precious in his life before, and he'd been subconsciously waiting for the other shoe to drop.

"Dummy," Hinata whispered, then swiped his hand over Kageyama's cheek.

He'd started crying without realizing it. "I'm…I'm sorry."

Hinata cupped Kageyama's face in his hands. "I don't want some nameless future girl, Kageyama. I don't want something easy. I want this. I want you."

"I want this too," Kageyama confessed brokenly, and he hated how vulnerable he felt. Every part of him wanted to run away screaming, to shut away his heart and never feel like this again. But he pushed back against that instinct and let himself melt into Hinata's arms, his head falling to Hinata's shoulder as Hinata petted his hair.

"So, now that we're serious about each other," Hinata said, a teasing note in his voice. "I think…I think we should tell the team."

Kageyama stiffened.

"We don't have to do it right away. We can think about it and decide together," Hinata said gently. "But I think it would be good. Especially if it proves to you that I'm not about to ditch you for some pretty girl."

"Okay," Kageyama said. "We'll think about it."

"It's you and me, Tobio," Hinata said.

In any other circumstance, Kageyama would've made fun of Hinata for being cheesy. He would've ruffled Hinata's hair, maybe with both hands, and Hinata would've responded by pulling his. They'd shove and kick at each other, laughing the whole time until one of them pulled the other into a kiss and their fists would be forgotten.

In this circumstance, however, it just so happened to be the thing Kageyama needed to hear.

"You and me," Kageyama repeated, and allowed himself to believe it.

/ \

now

Katsuo had expected the mood on the bus back from the Spring Nationals qualifiers to be electric. They'd just won, beating out Date Tech by three points in the last set. The screams and cheers in the gymnasium were deafening, and Katsuo had been frozen on the bench when the referee's last whistle sounded. He hadn't played in that game—he'd only been subbed in to serve once during their game with Johzenji the day before—but it was still their win.

They were going to Nationals.

He and his other teammates launched themselves off the bench and into the fray of the celebration. All four of the third years were hugging and crying, even Tsukishima, although he looked like he'd rather be anywhere but at the center of that hug.

They'd all been surprised that Tsukishima decided to continue with the team after the Interhigh in August instead of focusing on his studies. Tsukishima often seemed like the person who wanted to be there the least, though Yamaguchi secretly told them it was all a front. The tall blond said his reason for staying was that he didn't quit things he'd committed to, and they all let him believe that it wasn't because he actually loved them. And as it turned out, it was Tsukki who'd scored their final point, and they were all damn proud of him.

Katsuo was grabbed by Mamoru and Satoshi, the second years he'd grown close to, and they cried together. Yachi and Shibata Yua, their new manager-in-training were sobbing and holding each other on the sidelines. Ukai was crying into his sleeve as Takeda rubbed his back, tears streaming down his own face.

It was like nothing he'd ever experienced before, and Katsuo was never more grateful for that day in middle school when he'd been hit in the head with a volleyball and decided to check out the game.

After the high and the adrenaline and the congratulations at the gym, Katsuo thought it would continue on the bus, but once they were ten minutes in to the drive, the team crashed hard. Almost everyone was sleeping in one position or another—mouths open with heads tipped back, stretched out with their legs in the aisle, collapsed on each other—and those who were awake were close to drifting off.

The thing Katsuo was most surprised about was Kageyama and Hinata's silence. He'd expected them to be the loudest of them all, and at first they had been. When the final whistle blew, the first thing they did was turn to each other and scream, then Yamaguchi had pulled them into the group hug. They'd couldn't stop shouting even as they'd changed and met their families and friends outside the building. They were going to Nationals together again, and they wanted to scream it from the rooftops.

Now, though, they were silent. Katsuo frowned, suddenly suspicious. The only time they were silent on the bus was when…

He leaned forward in his seat and looked across the aisle, but they were asleep like most everyone else. Kageyama sat sideways with his back to the window with his legs up on the seat. Hinata sat between them, tucked against Kageyama's chest with his head under his chin, nose and forehead pressed to Kageyama's neck. Kageyama's arms were looped gently around him, and Katsuo saw one of Hinata's hands curled around the collar of Kageyama's shirt.

The first year blushed and looked away. Their relationship hadn't made sense to him at first. It still didn't make sense most of the time, honestly, but they somehow made it work, and it was when he glimpsed moment like these that he thought he understood. Sometimes it was like he was seeing a sixth love language being created right in front of him.

Over the past few months they'd really grown as leaders on the team. Hinata always seemed to know just what to say to get the team back on track, and Kageyama had finally learned how to give criticism without making it sound like a death threat. They were inhuman on the court, ridiculous everywhere else, and Katsuo was incredibly honored to know them.

/ \

then

"I'm going to vomit," Kageyama announced.

Hinata caught the ball instead of receiving it. "What?!"

"I think I'm gonna be sick," Kageyama clarified, which wasn't much of a clarification.

"Why?!"

Kageyama gave him a dry look, and Hinata understood. They'd resolved to tell the team today. Over the past couple weeks since their resolution to come out, they'd started small. Hinata texted Kenma, Bokuto, and a few other friends he'd made, and they each told their families. They also texted Daichi, Suga, Asahi, and Kiyoko, with the stipulation of them not telling the others yet.

So far, everybody had been positive. Kenma had texted back a measly, "Cool," but Hinata knew the quiet boy was happy for him. Bokuto immediately FaceTimed him after receiving the text and the two of them screamed together, and Akaashi texted him minutes later—having apparently already been told by Bokuto—promising he'd try to keep Bokuto's mouth shut about it. Their graduated upperclassmen were exceedingly kind and encouraging, as they'd expected them to be. Never before had Kageyama's phone been so full of heart emojis.

Their parents had also been supportive in their own respective ways: the Kageyamas were quietly confused but accepting, where the Hinatas had all cried and hugged each other. They were no longer allowed to have sleepovers or be in each other's room with the door closed, but it was a necessary sacrifice.

Still, even though they hadn't met any discrimination or resistance, that didn't mean it wasn't lurking around the corner. They didn't expect to find it with the team, of course, but once they were out in the world? It could be anywhere.

"We don't have to do it today," Hinata told him, sending the volleyball back up into the air.

Kageyama moved instinctively to set it, and Hinata received it. An easy silence punctuated by the thumps of the ball stretched between them.

"No, we shouldn't put it off," Kageyama said finally. "I'm just nervous."

The morning chill was all around them. Per usual, they'd gotten to the gym early in the morning to practice before having to go to class. Now that they were second years, Hinata and Kageyama actually had a set of keys, so they could've been inside, but they were used to cold mornings playing volleyball by now. It would've felt wrong to be in the gym.

"Well, if you're sure," Hinata replied, sounding the opposite himself.

It was unfair. Hinata wished non-heterosexual relationships weren't still so stigmatized. If they were a man and a woman, they could just announce they were dating and that would be it. For Kageyama and Hinata, though, it meant coming out as queer and in a relationship and dealing with being on the same sports team. He wished it didn't have to be a big thing.

Maybe it didn't.

"What if we don't tell them?"

Kageyama almost missed the ball, but he got under it just in time. "What?! But—but—"

"I mean," Hinata said, "what if we didn't make a big deal out of it? Like no fancy announcement. We just start acting like we're dating, because we are, and if they ask we just tell them."

"Just casual like that?" Kageyama asked. "Is that allowed?"

"Why not?" he said. "If we want to be treated like we're normal, maybe we just have to act like it."

Kageyama nodded slowly. "So does that mean…I can hold your hand?"

"Yeah." Hinata smiled. "And you can hug me. And, I dunno, just do all the stuff we normally do together."

His boyfriend raised his eyebrows suggestively, and Hinata blushed, remembering open-mouthed kisses on his collarbone and pressing his thumbs to the skin below Kageyama's waistband last night.

"Okay, not all the stuff, pervert," he said with a laugh.

Kageyama laughed too, and he caught the ball and walked toward him, shortening the distance. Hinata frowned petulantly. He didn't want to stop yet, they had plenty of time before class—but then he noticed the look in Kageyama's eyes, and his heart quickened.

Hinata tilted his head up in anticipation, his eyelids sliding closed. They'd figured out the perfect angle, the position in which nobody's necks or backs ached. Kageyama's fingers slid along his jaw to the back of his head, then pulled him up into a searing kiss. Their mouths slid together, opening up to each other with a practiced ease. It never failed to blow him away, though.

"Stuff like that?" Kageyama asked, his breath tickling Hinata's lips when he pulled away.

Hinata swallowed. "Y-Yeah, stuff like that."

It was a farce, though. They'd never be so bold as to make out in front of their teammates. The thought mortified them. So instead, they started small.

That first night, they'd acted as normal, not doing anything they hadn't been doing for the past few months. Then, at the team meeting at the end of practice, they tried something new. Kageyama was already sitting on the floor when Hinata approached him. He had one leg bent, arm resting on it, and the other was stretched out to the side. Hinata walked up, nudged the one leg over a bit more, and then took a seat between them, his back to Kageyama's chest.

Kageyama's heart was pounding. Hinata shifted so he was leaning back against Kageyama, and the setter froze for a moment. Just be normal, Kageyama told himself, so he did what he'd normally do and dropped his head so his chin to rest on Hinata's shoulder, listening as Ukai and Takeda talked.

His muscles were heavy with tension, and his skin crawled. He felt certain that everyone was staring at them, judging them, but then he felt Hinata's fingers wrap gently around his ankle, and he relaxed some. He still wondered why nobody was reacting. At one point he thought Ukai's eyes went a little squinty at them, but it passed after a second.

After the meeting, though, surely someone would say something. But they just kept chattering about school and volleyball and whatever else was on their minds, even as Hinata helped Kageyama to his feet and didn't let go of his hand.

Why aren't they saying anything?! Kageyama later screamed inside his head.

Weeks had passed of hand-holding, of flirty insults, of lingering hugs, unnecessary touches, and sitting with their arms around each other, and nobody had done more than bat an eye in their direction. It would've been comforting if it weren't so infuriating. This was what he'd wanted, wasn't it? For it to be no big deal? But right now, everyone was acting was like it wasn't a deal at all, big or small. It made him feel like they were the elephant in the room that nobody wanted to address.

It was definitely a mixed bag. On the one hand, they were more comfortable expressing affection for each other than they ever had been. They no longer felt like they had to overthink or second guess what their actions would read as. It had expanded outside of practice to school too, tangling their ankles together at lunchtime or holding hands in the hall.

Still, it didn't feel like the freedom he'd wanted it to. Hinata wasn't bothered, of course. He took it all in stride, with his easy-going smile and ever-eager attitude. But Kageyama couldn't help but feel like they were being whispered about, or stared at behind their backs, and it was making him crazy. He just didn't know how to fix it.

"It's so hooooot," Hinata complained.

The team was gathered outside the gym, waiting to board the bus to go to the Shiratorizawa Civic Gymnasium to watch the Spring National Qualifying Rounds. The August heat had arrived in full, and everyone had a sheen of sweat on their foreheads as they stood around in the sun.

"You wouldn't be so warm if you and Kageyama hadn't raced here," Kinoshita pointed out.

"Kageyama!" Hinata exclaimed, as if suddenly remembering that he was there. "Blow on my face to cool me down!"

"Ew, no," Kageyama said, planting his hand on Hinata's head to keep him at arm's length.

Hinata gave up surprisingly quickly—probably due to the heat—and began tugging at his shirt, waving it to and from his body in an effort to keep himself cool. That's when Kageyama saw it, and before he could tell Hinata to stop, of course Tanaka had seen it too.

"Is that a hickey?!" Tanaka screeched. And because the third year had never known how to have any chill, he immediately crowded Hinata against the bus, trying to lift his junior's shirt up. Noya joined him in half a second flat.

Kageyama blushed heavily, and he thought maybe Hinata did have a point about the heat. Okay, he and Hinata might have gotten a little carried away last night. But with Kageyama's parents away at work for the evening, they had to take their chances where they could. Kageyama hadn't meant to leave the hickey, but still, he'd thought that Hinata's hip would be an inconspicuous enough place.

Hinata, meanwhile, was half-crying with laughter, trying to keep his shirt down as Noya tickled him and Tanaka pulled at the fabric.

"It is a hickey!" Tanaka crowed. "Hinata, you tricky minx! You absolute dog!"

"It's dark, too!" Noya exclaimed in amazement.

"Stop sexually harassing Hinata!" Yachi called from afar as she, Ukai, and Takeda approached the waiting group.

"Nice work, Kageyama," Kinoshita laughed, clapping the setter on the back.

Tanaka and Noya froze in place, and a hush fell over the group. The elephant had finally been addressed.

"Wait, what?" Tanaka asked, turning around. His eyebrows were furrowed together.

"You can't be serious," Narita said to Tanaka. "You don't know?"

"Oh, shit," Kinoshita said, eyes widening. "I'm sorry. I thought—are you not—did I—"

"What's wrong?" Takeda asked, sensing the tension in the air when he arrived.

"Kageyama and Hinata are dating," Tsukishima said without looking up from his phone.

"Tsukki," Yamaguchi hissed.

"What? It's true."

"Oh, yeah," Yachi said matter-of-factly. "Wait. Were we not supposed to know?"

"You knew?" Noya asked.

"You didn't?" Ennoshita countered.

"No!" Tanaka exclaimed. "Who here knew?"

Everyone, including the first years and even Ukai, raised their hands. The only people who didn't were Tanaka and Noya, who looked flabbergasted, and Takeda, who was more focused on Kageyama and Hinata.

"Are you okay?" Takeda asked gently, and the group fell quiet. "Was it supposed to be secret?"

Kageyama was experiencing a tidal wave of conflicting emotions and couldn't quite speak, so Hinata piped up instead.

"I'm okay. And no, we decided weeks ago to stop hiding," Hinata said. "But nobody was saying anything, so we kinda thought none of you had noticed."

"You'd have to be pretty stupid not to notice," Tsukishima commented.

"Hey!" Tanaka and Noya chorused.

"I said what I said."

There was a heavy pause, and then Hinata spoke again. "We didn't want to make a big deal out of it. We just wanted to feel normal. I'm sorry if we made it weird."

"It's not weird!" Yachi exclaimed, passion coloring her cheeks pink. "I liked that you were casual about it! I just didn't know if it was okay to ask!"

"Yeah, and it's not like you guys changed that much," said Sanji, one of the first years. "You still argue like no other. You just argue while, like, holding hands too."

Hinata smiled, and Kageyama felt himself smile too. Their eyes met, and for a second it felt like it was just the two of them.

"I…I hope it's okay," Hinata said. "If it bothers you guys, we can—"

"Don't even start," Ennoshita said. "It's okay. We love you guys."

"Yeah!" Noya said, throwing his arms around Hinata. "We're happy for you!"

Yamaguchi walked over and draped an arm over Kageyama's shoulders, squeezing them and giving him a smile. Kageyama tensed up immediately, but he could sense the kindness in the gesture and forced his hackles to go down.

"I'm glad you guys feel comfortable with us," Yamaguchi said.

"Sorry we teased you," Tanaka said, rubbing the back of his head and sounding regretful.

"It's fine," Hinata laughed, patting Noya's head as the third year buried his face in Hinata's chest and squeezed with all his might. "You wouldn't be you if you didn't."

Tanaka looked like he was about to cry, then put his arms over both Hinata and Noya and picked them up in a rib-crushing hug.

"Group hug!" Ennoshita called.

He, Yamaguchi, and Kinoshita rounded all of them up—Tsukishima and Kageyama cursing the whole time—and they stood with their arms around each other in an awkward assembly of elbows in ribs and stepping on feet. The air filled with laughter, and Takeda and Ukai looked on with pride in their eyes.

As they broke apart, still laughing, Takeda unlocked the bus, and they all began to board.

"Um," Yachi said, gripping her bag tightly as she queued up with the others to get on the bus. "I'm gay too. Like, really gay. Just…if anyone wanted to know. I don't have a girlfriend or anything yet, but girls are just so…so…" She seemed to realize she was babbling and stopped talking.

Tanaka, who was in front of her, whipped around and shoved a finger in her face. She squeaked in fear, her whole body going rigid.

"Boobs," he said with a dramatically serious expression. "Big or small?"

"All boobs are good boobs," she replied, her voice even and sincere.

A grin cracked his face. "Good answer."

Hinata took Kageyama's hand as they waited at the back of the line. He squeezed Kageyama's hand, and the taller boy looked down at him. "Okay?" he asked quietly.

Kageyama nodded, his features relaxing slightly. "Okay."

They found a spot together on the bus, and they had just settled into their usual position with their arms and legs pressed together when Hinata realized they didn't have to sit like that anymore. He turned toward Kageyama, lifted his boyfriend's arm, and then put it over his shoulders. Kageyama looked down at him, and then Hinata tilted his head up. Kageyama recognized the angle—their angle—and he leaned down and kissed Hinata before he could think too much about it.

When they pulled apart, Kageyama tensed himself, waiting for someone to make some dumb comment, but there was none. He looked around and saw Tanaka and Noya were sitting in front of Yachi, leaning over the back of their seat to talk to her about girls. Her face was bright pink, and she looked a little overwhelmed but also exceedingly happy.

"Did you know?" Kageyama asked, nodding at their manager. He remembered when Hinata had laughed at Kageyama's suggestion that Hinata and Yachi might end up dating.

"Oh, yeah," Hinata said. "She told me at the Tokyo camp. I told her I was bi, but not about you and me. We both cried."

"Sounds right," he said as he glanced around the rest of the bus.

Ennoshita and Narita were sitting quietly together, listening to music on their headphones. Kinoshita and Yamaguchi discussed jump float techniques while Tsukishima stretched out on the bench across from them, his long legs spanning the aisle and resting in Yamaguchi's lap. The first years were all doing their own thing as well, making jokes and laughing and showing each other memes.

Kageyama and Hinata sat quietly in the middle of it all—for the first time in their lives, probably—and just took it all in. Nobody was looking at them, making comments, or teasing them, but it no longer felt like they were a secret shame nobody could make eye contact with. They just felt normal.

Feeling emboldened, Hinata slid his hands into Kageyama's hair, and Kageyama's arm tightened around his boyfriend's narrow shoulders. His face burned with embarrassment, but they weren't going to be affectionate with each other at all at the tournament, so he figured he should get his fill. Neither of them wanted to be out in the volleyball world yet. That was too much for them. They wanted the public to focus on their skills, not their relationship.

"Hey! Save it for later, horndogs!" Tanaka called.

They broke apart, blushing. "You're just jealous!" Hinata teased.

"You're right," Tanaka deadpanned. "Kageyama, please kiss me with your scary frowny face. I've wanted it all this time."

"Why would you want to kiss Kageyama?" Noya asked, sounding incredulous. "I'd kiss Hinata."

"What—" Kageyama started.

"Who would you guys choose?" Noya asked, turning to Yamaguchi and Kinoshita.

"Hinata," they answered simultaneously.

"Tsukki?" Yamaguchi asked.

"Pass."

"You can't pass!"

"Hinata then."

Noya then started asking everyone else on the bus, and the general consensus was that they'd all prefer to kiss Hinata. Kageyama's volcano of emotions reached its boiling point, and he was ready to explode.

"Can you all stop talking about kissing my boyfriend?!" he snapped.

Suddenly the bus was filled with diminutive cooing over their innocence and young love. Hinata could feel Kageyama's anger coming off of him in waves, but he knew Kageyama wasn't actually all that mad, just embarrassed and trying to cover it up. Ukai had to yell several times for them to "shut the hell up" or Takeda would "turn this bus around," which caused more teasing, now about Ukai becoming a mom.

Hinata laughed the whole time. His sides hurt from it all, but he didn't ever want to stop, even as his cheeks began to strain and his eyes couldn't stop leaking. He couldn't remember ever feeling this happy. Their friends would probably tease and make fun of them for the rest of their lives, but not in a bad way, and he knew that was just part of being in a public relationship. And with Kageyama's fingers interlaced with his, he decided it was a sacrifice he could live with.

/ \

now

Their breaths were heavy, legs leaden. Exhaustion pounded through every nerve ending in their bodies. Sweat dripped into their eyes, down their backs, flying off them in little showers. Everything seemed like it was happening in slow motion, their minds so worn out that information was taking longer than normal to process.

The Karasuno players weren't the only ones feeling this way, though. Their opponents—Nekoma—were also showing signs of wear. When the match began, it had felt a little strange, facing a team they'd trained and practiced with so much. They were more familiar with each other's strengths and weaknesses than they would've been with other teams.

But just because they were friendly didn't mean they were going easy on each other. Both teams understood the stakes, and they were giving everything they had. Anything less would've been disrespectful. It was the final round of the Spring High National Tournament, after all. If they didn't leave it all on the court now, they wouldn't have another chance. When the final ball hit the ground, one team would be champions.

They were in a deuce on the fifth set, climbing toward twenty points now with the score tied at 18-18. It was Karasuno's ball, and Yamaguchi was serving. Nekoma was a strong defensive team, and Yamaguchi's jump float was often the best weapon they had at the start of a volley.

The ball went up, over, and Nekoma's libero Shibayama got under it just in time. Tsubasa tensed, trying to anticipate where the ball would come from next. The most obvious answer was Lev, Nekoma's ace, but they couldn't count the other powerful spikers out either. Teshiro set the ball, and sure enough Lev was the one who got to hit it over.

It smacked past Tsukishima and Hinata's block, but Sanji, Karasuno's libero, managed to save the ball from hitting the floor with a spectacular dive that Tsubasa was sure Nishinoya-san would be going crazy over in the stands. His landing was a little off, though, and it sent the ball careening toward the sidelines. Hinata was already on top of it though, flying through the air with his fist outstretched, and he sent it back to his teammates.

The ball was wild and out of control in its trajectory. They only had one hit left. It wasn't going to be pretty, but it didn't need to be. It just needed to stay in the air. Miraculously, Tsukishima leapt into the air, his long arm swinging powerfully, and he smacked it back to Nekoma's side of the court.

The volley continued, each team pulling out all the stops to try to get that next point. Tsubasa could hear Hinata's voice in his head, pushing him to keep going. It was the same thing he told them before each game and during each practice.

"Keep the ball in the air!" Hinata would say, a fire in his bright brown eyes. "It's not over until it hits the floor! As long as the ball's in the air, we still have a shot!"

Karasuno had possession of the ball again. Exhaustion be damned, they still had a shot. Hinata received it easily, aiming to Kageyama, who got ready for the set. Hinata and Tsukishima ran forward to get the spike, but Tsubasa knew it wasn't going to either of them.

He surged forward from the back, leapt with all his might the way Hinata had showed him, and swung. The ball met his hand with a resounding thwap and went toward the far court line, just like Tsubasa had wanted it to. He could see the confusion on Nekoma's faces. Will it go out? Will it stay in? Do we receive it or do we let it go? Shibayama started moving for it just a hair too late. The ball hit the floor just outside the line and just beyond Shibayama's fingertips. The whistle blew, and the point went to Karasuno.

Tsubasa was trembling with joy. Now they just had to it one more time. As they returned to their positions, he could feel eyes on him, and he turned to see Kageyama staring at him with a fierce expression. At the beginning of the year, this probably would've made him shit his pants. But he'd learned how to read Kageyama, and he could see the pride in those narrowed blue eyes.

Hinata took his spot in the front line, his body tense and face disturbingly neutral. The spiker got like this toward the end of matches. It was like he stopped being a player and started being a surgical instrument wielded by Kageyama to strike quickly and accurately at their opponents. This side of him never failed to frighten Tsubasa and the other first years. They were so used to seeing joyful, bubbly Hinata, but serious, analytical Hinata was a different beast altogether.

The referee blew his whistle, and Yamaguchi served again. Both teams worked hard despite the fatigue that clouded their every move. This volley was lasting even longer than the last one, both teams determined to win it, but it couldn't last forever.

And then finally, the opportunity came to them.

Tsukishima's latest spike had Nekoma scrambling. They couldn't get enough control on the ball for a proper attack, so it came over to Karasuno as a chance ball. Yamaguchi caught the receive, and it lobbed through the air toward Kageyama's waiting hands. Then the team moved forward, all five players reacting as one in Karasuno's famous full court synchronized attack. Nobody except Kageyama knew where the ball would go.

The ball left Kageyama's fingertips, sent exactly to where Hinata could hit it best. Tsubasa looked to the side and saw his upperclassman soaring up to meet it. He'd heard Hinata talk about how time slowed down for him when he went in for a spike, how he could see everything happening on the court in those split seconds. It had never made sense to Tsubasa, until now.

Everything slowed to a crawl, and the noise in the gym faded out. All he could hear was the blood rushing in his ears as he watched Hinata's eyes hurriedly scan the court. Tsubasa saw the moment Hinata made his decision, and then he saw them: midnight black wings, stretching out from between the ace's shoulder blades. He was really flying—no, soaring—as he cut through the air higher than any of them despite being the shortest member of their team.

Nekoma hurried to assemble a two-person block in front of the ace, but they weren't quick enough. Hinata brought his arm down with all the force he could muster, and the ball shot like a bullet almost straight down between the blockers. Their opponents tripped over each other, practically dogpiling in their desperation to get to the ball, but it hit the court with a satisfying thud.

Silence hung in the air, five seconds that stretched into an hour in their minds, and then the whistle chirped.

Tsubasa hit his knees, tears forming in his eyes as the rest of their team surged onto the court from the sidelines. Katsuo reached him first, tackling him to the ground, and then Isamu was on top of them too. Someone was screaming at the top of their lungs, and Tsubasa saw with surprise that it was Tsukishima. Yamaguchi and two of the second years wrapped him up in a group hug, and Tsukishima wasn't even trying to push them away.

Through his tears, Tsubasa then caught sight of Kageyama and Hinata. The pair were standing close to the net. No, that wasn't right. Kageyama was standing close to the net. Hinata clung to him, legs wrapped around the setter's waist and arms wound around his neck. Kageyama had one arm gripping Hinata's back, one hand to his head, and they were kissing as they cried.

The image of his upperclassmen kissing wasn't surprising. Over the past year, he'd witnessed it more times than he'd cared to count. No, what was surprising was that they were doing it here, in public, with all eyes on them as high school volleyball champions.

They pulled apart, and their lips were moving, but Tsubasa couldn't hear or make out what they were saying. He didn't want to, anyway. For that moment, they existed in a private bubble, and he wanted it to stay that way as long as possible. They deserved it.

Tsubasa couldn't quite remember what happened after. The whole event was a blur, and he's pretty sure he was half passed out for the rest of it. Memories came to him in flashes and feelings: the weight of the medal around his neck, the way Yamaguchi's hands shook as he accepted the trophy and then immediately passed it to Hinata, the quavering voice of former captain Sawamura Daichi as he hugged all of the third years, saying, "You did it, you really did it."

This was the first national volleyball championship Karasuno had won in over a decade. Somewhere inside him, Tsubasa knew it likely wouldn't happen again next year, or even the year after that. Volleyball was so competitive, and all the other teams were also constantly working to improve and get better. This would probably be the peak of his volleyball career. Still, Tsubasa knew he wouldn't give up. He'd chase this high for the next two years of his life. He owed it to his upperclassmen who'd shown him the way.

Following the championship game, the newspapers and blogs and magazines went wild with the story. Headlines screamed about the drama of it all, the years-long journey, the hard work of generations of students leading to this exact moment. It really was a tale for the ages.

Less screamed about was the reveal of Kageyama and Hinata's relationship. It was reported on, to be sure, and pictures of that epic kiss were splattered across the news, but the championship story turned out to be the more interesting one. Tsubasa wondered if the pair had known that would be the case, if that's why they chose that moment. But knowing them, it had probably just been instinct and dumb luck.

When asked about the relationship by reporters, the entire team and all of Kageyama and Hinata's friends declined to give any comments about it, which also helped to minimize the story in the press. It was hard to write about something people refused to give you information on. After a few weeks though, when the hubbub had died down some, Kageyama and Hinata gave one exclusive interview to a relatively minor LGBTQ+ sports blog.

Tsubasa scrolled through a transcription of the interview, which was gaining traction in the digital world, reading the quotes about their relationship and their journey toward becoming champions, most of which he already knew.

Interviewer: And finally, what message would you like to give to all of the young LGBTQ+ athletes out there?

Hinata: Don't be afraid!

Kageyama: Don't say that, that's stupid.

Hinata: Are you saying they should be afraid? That's a terrible message!

Kageyama: Oh my god no, just…just that there's a lot to be afraid of. You all probably know that. I think it'll be a very long time before people like us get to be normal, when we no longer have to come out or feel that fear. But you're not alone. There's more of us than you know. Find your support, find your family, and hold on to them. True strength comes from the people we love, and that overpowers all prejudice. I think that's what I've learned the most over the past couple years.

Interviewer: Hinata-san, do you have anything else you'd like to add?

Hinata: Holy s*** no, that was amazing. Kageyama, when the f*** did you come up with that? Did you practice in the mirror, you little—

Interviewer: We'll end it here, thank you very much.

Tsubasa laughed out loud. Of course Kageyama and Hinata couldn't last a thirty-minute interview without dissolving into one of their teasing arguments. He'd never seen people who function like they did: always getting on each other's nerves and trying to have the last word. When he first saw witnessed it, he was sure they'd break up within a couple weeks. Now he wanted them to stay together forever.

He wasn't ignorant. He knew the couple had a lot of challenges coming their way, not to mention the fact that high school relationships rarely lasted. But he'd seen firsthand how stubborn they were, how much love and respect they had for each other, and had faith they could make it through.

/ \

then

It was early January, and the air was frigid. As usual whenever they had spare time, Hinata and Kageyama were tossing a ball back and forth, but they weren't outside this time. They'd made use of their set of keys and the empty gym for once.

The gym was silent except for the sounds of the ball as it flew back and forth between them like an upside down pendulum. Officially, practice was only supposed to be every other night, but almost everyone showed up every evening anyway. Almost, because the third years showed up only sporadically, when they were able to be away from their studies. There was no point for them to be there consistently. There hadn't been since October.

There was still a dull ache when Hinata thought about their performance at the Spring Nationals Qualifying Rounds and where they should be right now. They'd gone into their match with confidence, buoyed by placing second at the Interhigh in June and by getting so close to the championship the year before. Perhaps that had given them a false sense of security, like they would get through just because they deserved to. Or perhaps it was one of any number of "mitigating factors," as Kageyama called them: lack of lead up games, practicing the wrong skills, other teams working harder, or just dumb luck. The list went on.

Regardless of the reason, their dreams were dashed. They'd lost in their first game. They weren't going to Nationals this year. Date Tech would be representing Miyagi Prefecture in Tokyo. Their third years would graduate without experiencing a national championship win. The captaincy would be passed on—a rumor had Yamaguchi and Hinata up for it; not Kageyama. They would become the upperclassmen. And then the cycle would begin again.

"Hinata," Kageyama said, and to anyone else it would've sounded sharp and angry, but Hinata heard the silent phrase that followed it: Don't dwell on it, dummy. Hinata wasn't good at nuances, but he was getting good at Kageyama's nuances. He could read between those lines.

"It'll be our last chance," Hinata replied, bumping the ball back to him.

"I know."

"Are you worried?"

"No point being worried right now," he replied. "Set this one."

Hinata scowled as Kageyama sent the ball up high. Lately, Kageyama had been pressuring him to practice setting. Since they weren't actively preparing for competition, the team was able to relax slightly and develop skills that weren't yet in their wheelhouse so they were more well-rounded for next year. Hinata didn't mind working on new skills—he loved it—but Kageyama tended to be extra critical when he practiced setting.

His fingertips touched the ball and sent it up, up, up—and it fell short of Kageyama by about a foot.

Kageyama could tell Hinata expected to be berated, but Kageyama just scooped the ball up and set it back to Hinata. He could see relief in Hinata's face in the way his eyebrows relaxed just slightly and the crinkles in his eyes went away. Kageyama wasn't good at emotions, but he was getting good at Hinata's emotions and his own in kind. He knew Hinata didn't need critiques right now.

They returned to easy silence and sending the ball back and forth. Hinata thought about their relationship and the ways it had changed over the past year and a half, and the ways it could change in another year and a half. He imagined what it would be like, this time next year, if they were national champions, and his heart swelled with wanting.

He wanted to be there beside Kageyama as the confetti rained down around them. If they ever got there, they would get there together. There was no other way. They had started this journey together, and they would end it together.

That thought caused a hitch in his chest. They would end it together. He didn't want it to end. High school volleyball would end, yes, but would he and Kageyama end with it? The idea brought tears into his eyes.

"Kageyama?" Hinata said, bringing his hands up to set the ball as it arced toward him. "I think…I think I love you."

That's what it was, wasn't it? He tried to sort through the nuances of his emotions as best he could. Nobody knew or understood him like Kageyama did, and vice versa. He never felt stupid or immature around Kageyama. Okay, well, maybe he did, and Kageyama did tease him pretty ruthlessly, but Kageyama never made him feel like it was a bad thing, like he had to change. He felt safe when Kageyama was around. They shared passions, they shared secrets, they shared fears and hopes and desires, and he never wanted to stop. Maybe that was naïve, but he didn't care.

"Yeah." He sent the ball back toward Kageyama—toward the boy he loved—and closed his eyes for a moment to revel in the feeling. "I definitely love you."

Hinata expected to hear Kageyama bump the ball back, but instead it hit the court and bounced away. He opened his eyes and saw Kageyama staring at him with a stupid, slack jawed expression. He blushed and wondered if he shouldn't have said anything, if he should've kept his mouth shut, if it was too soon—

"What the fuck?!" Kageyama exploded suddenly, and his voice echoed around the gym.

Hinata just stared at him, feeling confusion and annoyance rise up in him.

"I never—I thought—can't—shit, Hinata." And then Kageyama was laughing, and Hinata frowned.

"What?" he whined, definitely annoyed now.

"I can't believe you said it like that!"

"Well how else am I supposed to say it, dumbass?"

Kageyama was still laughing. "I don't know. I thought you'd say, 'You make me feel the way volleyball does,' or something stupid like that."

"Well…you do," Hinata mumbled, and that got Kageyama roaring with laughter again. It didn't seem like Kageyama would stop laughing any time soon, and the embarrassment was starting to set in. "Shut up! I'm sorry I said it wrong. I'll never say it again, will that make you happy?"

He turned on his heel and began stomping away.

"Wait—"

"No, clearly I did wrong even though I did it the only way people do it," Hinata ranted.

"Please, I didn't—"

He threw open the gym doors and marched into the cold. "No! I've changed my mind! I made a mistake!"

"Hinata—"

"Shut up! I'm mad at you!"

"Shouyou."

That made him stop in his tracks. He could feel Kageyama behind him, but he didn't turn around. He didn't want to give the bastard the satisfaction.

"I'm sorry," Kageyama said softly. "You surprised me is all."

Hinata sniffed indignantly. "You're a jerk."

"I know," Kageyama replied. "And yet…you love me."

He didn't say anything.

"I love you too, you know," Kageyama whispered, like he was afraid of breaking the words if he spoke them too loud.

Hinata finally turned around, and he could feel tears in his eyes.

"It's true," Kageyama said earnestly. Hinata could see the strain in him, could tell that every instinct in his boyfriend's body was telling him to run away from this show of vulnerability. He didn't, though, and Hinata loved him all the more for it. "I love you."

Hinata wanted very badly to kiss him. He wanted to kiss Kageyama in the way that made him breathless, and he wanted to pull Kageyama into the club room and jerk him until he couldn't speak, and he wanted to do a great many things with this boy that he loved, but first he wanted to kiss him.

However, Hinata was spinning with emotions and adrenaline, which caused his mind to go absolutely blank. So when Hinata tipped forward to kiss him and Kageyama leaned down accommodatingly, Hinata promptly lost control of his body and headbutted Kageyama with all his might.

"I'm sorry!" Hinata squealed as Kageyama staggered back from him, hands over his nose and mouth.

"Fuck!" Kageyama yelled.

"I'm so sorry!" Hinata's voice got even shriller.

"Oh my fucking god, I think you broke my nose," Kageyama said. He pulled his hands back, and there was blood coming out of his left nostril.

Hinata began screaming unintelligibly as Kageyama continued cursing, and all the noise quickly attracted attention.

"Kageyama? Hinata? What's wrong?"

Hinata recognized Yachi's voice but found he couldn't stop screaming long enough to explain. Instead, he just pointed to Kageyama's bloody face, and Yachi started screaming too. Then she turned and ran—to find a teacher, Hinata hoped.

Sure enough, she arrived minutes later with Takeda in tow…and several other members of their volleyball team. Somewhere in his mind, Hinata knew it had to be close to the time they normally started practice. That was why Yachi had been there in the first place.

"What happened?" Takeda asked, gently removing Kageyama's hands from his face to inspect the damage.

"We said I love you," Hinata answered numbly. At the sight of a real adult, he'd finally stopped screaming, and apparently this was the point his mind decided to get stuck on.

"Whoa for real?" Noya said, eyes going round. "Bro, that's huge!"

"Yeah," Kageyama grumbled. "And then he punched me in the face."

"What?!" everyone in the vicinity except Takeda screeched.

"No, that's not—I…I headbutted him," Hinata mumbled, shamefaced.

Hysterical laughter started up. Hinata heard three laughs louder than all the others: Tanaka, Noya, and…Tsukishima? The tall blond was doubled over, wheezing with overwhelming joy, smiling like a child on Christmas. Tanaka leaned heavily against Tsukishima, clutching his sides with tears in his eyes, and Noya was slapping his thighs as he cackled. The others who'd gathered—Ennoshita, Narita, and a couple first years—were also laughing, although Ennoshita at least had the grace to be trying to hide it.

"It was on accident!" Hinata cried, but that only made them laugh louder. Of course this would be one of the practices that most of the third years had decided to show up to.

"You need to go to the nurse," Takeda announced.

"Wait, can I—"

"I think you've done enough, Hinata," Takeda said, gently as he could, as he took Kageyama's elbow and began leading him back toward the school. "Ukai should be here shortly to begin practice."

Tears burned in Hinata's eyes.

"No," Kageyama grunted. "He can come."

Takeda paused, then smiled. "If you're sure."

Hinata bounded up beside them. He wanted to take Kageyama's hand, the one that wasn't pinching his bleeding nose shut of course, but Kageyama probably didn't want to be touched right now. And anyway Hinata didn't really trust himself not to accidentally sock Kageyama in the side after what had just happened, so he jammed his hands in his sweatshirt pockets.

Kageyama's nose had stopped bleeding by the time they arrived at the infirmary, which was good. The nurse quickly cleaned and assessed Kageyama's nose and declared it to not actually be broken. Hinata had just hit it hard enough to burst some capillaries.

The nurse wanted Kageyama to stay in the infirmary for the next hour in case it started back up again. Kageyama had to sit up and forward to prevent swallowing blood, and he was instructed to breathe out his mouth in order to not irritate the nasal membranes. If he was still feeling well after an hour, he could go home, but he would have to keep his nose above the level of his heart for the next forty-eight hours, meaning he'd have to sleep sitting up. He was also banned from playing volleyball for the rest of the week.

"I'm sorry," Hinata said, speaking for the first time since they'd left for the nurse. They were alone now. The nurse was doing paperwork in his office, and Takeda had left to go supervise practice.

Kageyama looked up at him, and he wanted to feel annoyed—his nose hurt like hell, goddammit—but all he felt was an infuriating twinge of affection. That was love, he guessed. It was illogical and silly, and his middle school self would never forgive him for this, but he felt it all the same.

"'S fine," he mumbled.

"Do…" Hinata blushed, and Kageyama smiled. "Do you still love me?"

Kageyama snorted, then winced because that hurt. "Yeah, you idiot. I still love you."

"Oh good!" Hinata said cheerfully. "Because I still love you too."

"Why would you not?"

"Well cause you were an assface and laughed at me," Hinata said, jutting his lip out and looking like a child. "But it's okay, cause we're even now!"

Kageyama laughed dryly, a sharp ha ha that had no mirth in it. "No way. We are so far from even. You headbutted me and broke my nose—"

"It's not broken!"

"Yeah, good luck trying to tell the team that," Kageyama said with an evil little grin.

Hinata's heart sunk, and he pulled lightly on his hair out of stress. The team would never let him live it down. He would forever be known as the guy who'd broken his boyfriend's nose after they said "I love you" for the first time, even if it was never actually broken.

"Anyway, my point is you owe me a million fucking favors after this," Kageyama said.

"Nooooo," Hinata protested, but he was smiling. Then he realized he never got his kiss. Granted, it was his fault, but he still felt robbed. "Hey, Yamayama, can I kiss you?"

Kageyama eyed him suspiciously.

"I won't headbutt you again! I promise!" Hinata said offering up his pinky.

Heaving a sigh of defeat, Kageyama linked his pinky with Hinata's. "Be careful of my nose."

"Yeah, yeah," Hinata said flippantly, but Kageyama could tell he was taking it seriously.

Hinata leaned forward, tilting his head far to the side so their noses wouldn't touch. Then their lips met, and it was soft and gentle and everything Hinata had wanted and ruined outside of the gym. He pulled back regretfully after just a moment because Kageyama had stopped breathing, and he couldn't breathe out of his mouth like he was supposed to with Hinata pressed against it.

"I love you," Hinata said again.

"I love you too."

"I love you."

Kageyama laughed. "Are you ever going to stop saying it?"

"Yeah," Hinata replied. "When it stops sounding magical."

A blush colored Kageyama's cheeks, and he looked away. The statement, as cheesy as it was, made him ridiculously happy, but he couldn't let Hinata see that. He had a feeling Hinata could tell anyway, though. That boy could read him like a book. It was frightening, being known that well, but he'd learned that the best things in life were found beyond fear.

"Stupid," Kageyama muttered when he regained control of his face. To anyone else, it would've sounded gruff and harsh. They would probably wonder why Hinata was with him. But it didn't have that effect on Hinata. Instead, he smiled widely, because he could hear the I love you underneath.

/ \

now

Sunlight filtered in through the blinds of Hinata's bedroom window. It was quiet and peaceful. The loudest sound Hinata could hear was Kageyama's heartbeat where it was pressed to his ear. Kageyama's fingers pulled lightly through Hinata's hair, and Hinata sighed in contentment.

It was almost spring, and their graduation was just a couple weeks away. Ahead of them lay many important decisions and life changes and pathways they could take. It both thrilled and terrified him. And what he was most terrified of was losing this, right here.

"Kageyama?" Hinata asked, sitting up.

Kageyama looked up at him. His black hair had been getting longer lately, and it fanned out slightly on Hinata's pillow.

"Do you think we'll last?"

"What do you mean?"

"You know what I mean."

Kageyama was silent. He did know what Hinata meant. They'd been courted with a lot of offers in the months since becoming national champions: international teams, top athletic universities, scholarships and sponsorships alike. It was a lot to take in. They had their pick of the lot, but it was clear that their paths were likely going to lead away from each other. While they both had a plethora of offers, very few of them overlapped.

"I want us to," Kageyama said. "It'll be difficult, though."

"Do you think we'll ever play on the same team again?"

"I'll always be on your team."

Hinata laughed, which had been Kageyama's goal. "That's cheesy."

"Shut up. You liked it."

"Do you think we'll play against each other?" Hinata asked.

"If we do, my team will win."

Hinata gasped. "Will not!"

Kageyama surged up into a sitting position and grabbed Hinata's arms, then shoved him down onto the bed. Hinata's shirt flew up, and Kageyama attacked, pressing his mouth to the soft skin and blowing a very loud, very wet raspberry. Hinata squealed, wriggling and kicking and pulling his hair to get him to stop. Finally, Kageyama ceased his assault and let himself be pulled up into a kiss.

Hinata's lips smiled beneath his, and it made his heart soar. He would do anything to see Hinata smile. It wasn't difficult most times. Hinata's philosophy was that time spent not being happy was time wasted. Lately, though, there had been a lot on their minds, and Hinata had been more pensive than usual, thinking about what their futures held. Kageyama wasn't stupid. He knew they'd have to talk about it. He just wanted to avoid it as long as possible.

Their lips slotted together with ease, then Hinata's mouth opened to him, and the mood shifted. They began to kiss with more urgency, heat pooling in their stomachs. Kageyama put one leg between Hinata's and shifted his hips rhythmically, rubbing Hinata's growing bulge with his thigh and his own groin on Hinata's hip.

Hinata moaned, turning his head away from Kageyama, and Kageyama took the opportunity to kiss Hinata's neck. He lightly sucked just below Hinata's earlobe and Hinata let out a loud cry of pleasure like he always did when Kageyama focused on that spot. He felt impatient hands pushing his shirt up to his armpits, so he sat up and tossed it away from them.

Hinata's hands pressed to Kageyama's chest, preventing him from immediately bending down again, and the gentle fingers traced invisible patterns across his skin. He always felt embarrassed when Hinata did this, studied him like he was something precious, but the heated look in Hinata's brown eyes drove his reservations away.

Kageyama dove down again, stooping to bestow kisses to Hinata's exposed stomach, pushing Hinata's shirt up as he went. He paused and licked his lips, but Hinata guessed his intentions before he could make good on them.

"Don't you dare," Hinata said sharply.

He laughed. No more raspberries for now. Instead, he settled for licking a stripe up toward Hinata's ribcage. His hands then slid to Hinata's back, lifting him up, and Hinata took the clue to remove his own shirt.

Hinata's hands found Kageyama's face and brought him in for more kisses. Their hips rocked together, and they moaned, loud and unabashed. They were the only ones in the house, and they would be for the rest of the night. Hinata's mother was on a work trip and Natsu was sleeping over with a friend. There was no need to stifle themselves tonight.

"What," Kageyama started, then had to find his voice again. "What do you want?"

"I want to be on top," Hinata said.

Kageyama blushed. They'd switched fairly often since they started having penetrative sex several months ago, although Hinata usually preferred to receive, but that wasn't the source of his embarrassment. He would just never get used to how forward Hinata could be with his sexual desires. The ginger always just said them outright, only remembering to be shy afterwards.

"S-Sure," Kageyama said. "Let me—"

"No, wait," Hinata said. "On top of you while you…" He trailed off, his bashfulness arriving right on cue.

"Oh," he croaked. They hadn't done that position yet. "R-Right."

Hinata smiled, and it somehow looked both innocent and devilish—just like Hinata himself, Kageyama supposed—and he leaned down and kissed Hinata forcefully, their foreheads pressing together almost to the point of pain. He rolled his hips sharply, earning breathy little gasps from Hinata, but his boyfriend wasn't the only one feeling it. The pleasure was beginning to make the edges of his mind fuzzy.

He felt Hinata's hands beginning to fumble impatiently at the button of his jeans. Kageyama groaned, then got up off the bed, unbuttoning his pants and kicking them off. He would've left himself like that, but Hinata had flopped onto his belly and hooked his fingers around the band of Kageyama's underwear, already pushing them down. Heat burned through him as Hinata pulled him forward by his hips, then pressed his lips to the top of Kageyama's erection.

The taste of precum was salty on Hinata's tongue, but he didn't mind. He lapped around the head, focusing all his attention on that one sensitive part, earning frustrated moans from his boyfriend until Kageyama's hand grabbed his hair and gently guided his mouth so it took more of Kageyama's cock.

Hinata loved teasing Kageyama. It was no secret that teasing was one of the hallmarks of their relationship. But he especially loved teasing Kageyama in bed. The setter was normally so calculated and in control of himself, and Hinata got great pleasure in dismantling that cool exterior by toeing the edge of what Kageyama wanted until Kageyama broke and demanded it.

He pulled off Kageyama's dick and used his hand to pump while he looked up at Kageyama's reactions. Kageyama had his head tilted back, one hand tightening in Hinata's hair, the other grasping nothing but air as his legs shook underneath him. Smiling, Hinata moved his hand and licked up Kageyama's erection before taking it back in his mouth.

There was a little desperation in the way Hinata sucked him. Hinata wondered if Kageyama could tell. If he was in his right mind, he would definitely be able to, but distracted as he was at the moment, Hinata doubted his observational skills. And that's what Hinata wanted to be too: distracted.

He wanted to be distracted from thoughts of the future, of their differing journeys, of their possible separation. It was like he could hear a clock ticking down their remaining time together but couldn't see it, couldn't calculate the minutes left he had with this incredible man before him. So he wanted to distract himself and make the most of each other while they could.

As if sensing this somehow, Hinata felt Kageyama's free hand trail down his side and slip under the fabric of his sweatpants, palming Hinata's ass. Desire flooded through him as he pictured the position he'd suggested. He shifted forward on the bed, curling slightly so he could still pleasure Kageyama while giving his boyfriend a better angle. Unfortunately, this meant he could no longer hump the bed, and his unattended erection strained painfully against his sweatpants.

Kageyama pulled his hand back, licked his finger, and then went back, easily finding Hinata's entrance. Hinata tensed slightly, then relaxed when Kageyama pulled on his hair more. Kageyama pressed inside just slightly. Hinata knew Kageyama wasn't actually trying to open him up like this. They would need more lube and a better position, but it was enough to give Hinata some pleasure and to relax him.

After several more minutes, and once Kageyama was two knuckles in, Hinata was almost in tears. His dick still hadn't been actually touched, he wasn't any closer to getting fucked, and his mouth was beginning to get very tired. Kageyama pulled away just at the right moment, though, lifting Hinata's chin so they could look eye to eye.

"Turn over and face me," Kageyama instructed softly.

Feeling thrilled—Kageyama rarely took such direct charge like this—Hinata flipped to his back and moved so he was sitting on the edge of the bed and facing Kageyama. His boyfriend grabbed Hinata's pillow, then gently pushed him down so he was laying comfortably on his back. Kageyama lifted his hips and removed his sweatpants in one smooth movement, freeing Hinata's dick.

With wide eyes, Hinata watched as Kageyama pulled the spare blanket off the foot of the bed and set it on the floor before kneeling on it and spreading Hinata's legs. Hinata found himself blushing, then forgot all feelings of modesty when Kageyama bent and took Hinata's neglected cock into his mouth. He arched his back up, pressing his head into the pillow as he cried out in pleasure.

Kageyama worked slowly up and down, and dimly Hinata could hear movement and rustling. There were no hands touching him, so Kageyama must have been getting something while blowing Hinata. He probably should've felt annoyed, like Kageyama was only half-focused on him, but Kageyama multitasking actually turned him on.

He was rewarded for not being annoyed when Kageyama lifted Hinata's legs and draped them over his shoulders, then pressed a finger to Hinata's hole again. The wet heat of Kageyama's mouth combined with the pressure of Kageyama's finger entering had him reeling. Hinata was a loud person in general, and that didn't change during sex. In fact, it only got worse.

Conscious thoughts left his mind as senseless babble left his mouth, and his goal was achieved. He could officially not focus on anything except the here and now. Kageyama, as precise in this as he was with volleyball, worked him open carefully, being sure to brush against his prostate only sometimes so that Hinata would last long enough to fulfil his requested position.

Once Kageyama was three fingers in, twisting and pushing and pulling easily, Hinata could no longer make any sound and was just gasping wordlessly. Kageyama removed his fingers and his mouth, and Hinata felt suddenly cold and empty, but then he heard the telltale crinkle of a condom wrapper, and his body tensed with anticipation.

"Do you still…?" Kageyama asked when Hinata hadn't moved.

"Yes. Yeah. Let me—"

With a groan, Hinata turned and shifted himself so he was on his knees on the wall side of the bed. Kageyama climbed back on to the bed, handed Hinata the condom, then grabbed Hinata's pillow back so he could lay on it as he stretched himself out along the length of the bed.

Hinata moved so he was straddling Kageyama's legs, bending his head to place open kisses on Kageyama's cock where it lay stiff against his stomach. Hinata's erection skimmed the covers below him, and the rough fabric on the sensitive head had him curling his toes as he sucked on Kageyama once more.

"Shouyou…" Kageyama groaned, hands finding Hinata's hair once more, a warning note in his voice.

"Say it," Hinata said, then slid his mouth along the side of Kageyama's erection.

Kageyama's eyelids cracked open, and he glared at Hinata.

"You can do it," Hinata encourage diminutively as he opened the condom wrapper and pulled out the piece of latex.

"Fuck you."

"Almost right."

Kageyama moaned loudly as Hinata took him in again, this time letting his teeth gently scrape the stimulated skin. His boyfriend's hips thrusted gently into his mouth, which Hinata didn't mind.

"Say it," Hinata said again after pulling off Kageyama's dick with a loud, wet pop!

"I can't fucking stand you," Kageyama hissed.

Hinata hummed thoughtfully, beginning to roll the condom down him. "No, not quite right."

Kageyama grumbled under his breath as Hinata sat back on Kageyama's shins and stroked him lazily with one hand. "Please, let me fuck you," he said gruffly.

"That's it," Hinata said, feeling exceedingly pleased with himself for succeeding in teasing Kageyama once again. He crawled forward over Kageyama's body, kissing the handsome torso as he went and sucking lightly on each nipple.

"Fuck yourself on me," Kageyama instructed as Hinata moved, his voice throaty. "Take me. I want to be inside you. I want to feel you on top of me."

Hinata smiled. Kageyama wasn't inclined to dirty talk, but once Hinata got him going it was hard to get him to be quiet again. His knees pressed into the bed on either side of Kageyama's ribcage, smiling down at Kageyama as the man spoke nonsense about how pretty Hinata looked, how good he'll feel, how he wanted to make Hinata cum on his stomach.

"Does it excite you?" Hinata asked, reaching for the lube that Kageyama left on the bedside table. "To know that I'll be in control?"

Kageyama nodded, opening his mouth to speak, but his words were lost when Hinata reached behind him and took Kageyama's cock in hand, moving it out of the way so he could sit against Kageyama's hips. He could feel his boyfriend's length nestle against his backside, and he smiled down at the frustrated man beneath him.

"I love you, Tobio," he said.

Like magic, Kageyama's sour expression melted, and he smiled up at Hinata. "I love you too."

Hinata leaned down and kissed him softly, then sat back up, his heart thrumming in anticipation. He squirted more lube into his hand and stroked Kageyama a few times, then fingered himself a little. Kageyama's eyes were filled with heat and wanting as he watched Hinata finish the preparations.

Finally ready, he lifted a leg and shifted his hips up and back, positioning them so the head of Kageyama's cock brushed against the ring of muscle. Kageyama let out a shaky breath, and Hinata's extended leg began to shake. He took in a deep breath, and on the exhale he began to press down.

A low rugged groan came out of Kageyama as Hinata lowered himself ever so slowly, taking Kageyama inch by inch until he was once again sitting on Kageyama's hips. He stayed there, trembling as he got used to the feeling of fullness. Kageyama's hands stroked his hips and sides, murmuring gentle encouragements and exuding patience until Hinata was ready to move.

He lifted himself up experimentally, and it was thrilling to know that he was the one in charge of the pace. Kageyama's pleasure was now his to control. It made him feel powerful in a different way than when Kageyama was the one to receive.

Hinata lifted his other leg and placed his hands on Kageyama's chest for balance so he was crouching over the man. The position felt a little awkward, and it definitely wasn't the most attractive, but neither were complaining since it allowed Hinata greater control over his movements.

"Oh, fuck, Shou," Kageyama groaned. "You feel so good."

Overcome with pleasure, Kageyama's hips started to thrust up a little, and Hinata sat firmly on them to still him, effectively ending the rhythm.

"I'm in charge, remember?" Hinata said sternly.

Kageyama nodded as he tried not to squirm underneath him. Hinata could see the desire to be good in his blue eyes, and it sent a thrill up his spine. His thighs had started cramping, so he went back to being on his knees and rewarded Kageyama's good behavior by starting the movements up again. On his knees, he couldn't lift nearly as high up, but he could roll his hips, and that was just as good. They were both moaning loudly when Hinata felt a hand close around his erection.

"C-Can I?" Kageyama asked.

Hinata nodded, throwing his head back in pleasure, and Kageyama was certain he had never seen anything more beautiful. Well, there was one thing that could beat this sight, and the photographic evidence of that moment was pinned to the wall above Hinata's desk. Kageyama could see it from here: the front page of the local newspaper, the entire thing taken up by a picture of Hinata mid-air during the last spike in their championship game.

It wasn't a backshot like they used in the fundraising posters their first year. This one was from the side, granting the viewer a look at Hinata's perfect posture, the muscles in his legs as they curled behind him, his right arm poised for the game-winning hit.

What Kageyama liked to look at, though, was Hinata's face. It was partially obscured by his left arm as it came down to counterbalance his spike, but you could still see the light and determination in his eyes, and if Kageyama squinted it was like he could see wings coming out of Hinata's back in the grainy background of the photo.

Right now there were no wings, no volleyball, no points to win. It was just him and Hinata. Him and this beautiful boy spearing himself on Kageyama's dick. Him and the object of all his love and desire. There was nothing he wouldn't do for Hinata, he knew. He'd been such a fool to ever try to deny it.

Hinata's breaths were getting short and shallow and his fingernails dragged angry red lines down from Kageyama's pecs to his stomach. He wasn't lifting himself anymore but was grinding back and forth, sliding around on Kageyama's hips as Kageyama jerked him. With a sharp cry, he suddenly fell forward, landing with his forearms on either side of Kageyama's head as he began to rock forward and back. Kageyama just had to hold his in the right position and Hinata's movement did all the work, fucking himself into Kageyama's hand and on his dick at the same time.

Kageyama used his other hand to pet Hinata's hair. He could tell Hinata was getting close, and he whispered praise and encouragement into the ginger's ear. Hinata's arms trembled, and his fingers curled into the pillowcase beneath Kageyama's head. He started swearing under his breath, and then it began. His movements stopped as his abdomen convulsed sporadically, and Kageyama stroked him through it the way Hinata liked. He could feel the warmth of Hinata's cum on his stomach, and even though it would be disgusting to him in a few minutes, right now it turned him on.

"You did so good, Shouyou," Kageyama whispered, pressing his lips to Hinata's ear.

Hinata hummed happily and collapsed on top of him, sliding his legs up so he was in a mockery of child's pose. Kageyama was doing his best to be patient as Hinata recovered, but his cock was starting to ache just sitting inside of Hinata.

"Your turn," Hinata said softly, pressing his face to Kageyama's neck. "Take control."

"You're still good?" Kageyama asked, not wanting to overuse him.

"Do it," Hinata huffed. "Fuck me."

That was all the encouragement Kageyama needed. He bent his legs slightly, digging his heels into the mattress as he lifted Hinata's hips and began to fuck up into him. Hinata cried out in pleasure, his muscles clenching around Kageyama, and he lightly bit Kageyama's shoulder. The pain sent endorphins rushing through Kageyama, and he increased his rhythm.

Kageyama wasn't far off. All the buildup of before plus being in control now and feeling the spent weight of Hinata on top of him had stars encroaching on his vision. All he could hear were Hinata's breathy moans, the wet slapping of their sweaty flesh, and his own mindless mumbles. Hinata shifted above him, and their mouths met, and when Hinata's tongue slipped against his, that was enough to push him over the edge.

He cried out, gasping into Hinata's mouth as he thrusted the last few times. Now Hinata was the one murmuring encouragement, although Kageyama couldn't make out a single word he was saying. As he came down from the clouds, Hinata gently eased himself off of Kageyama, then went to get a towel to clean them up. Kageyama was dimly aware of Hinata removing the condom, tying it off, and tossing it in the trash can. He felt a cloth wipe his stomach clean, and then Hinata was once again lying next to him.

Hinata laid so his head was next to Kageyama's on the pillow instead of on his chest. They were face to face, just watching each other with happy expressions. Hinata placed a hand between them, and Kageyama covered it with his own, linking their fingers together, then lifted it so he could place a kiss to Hinata's palm. Outside, the light had changed, and the sun was beginning to set.

In a few minutes, they would both get hungry and they'd get dressed and wander downstairs for something to eat. They'd probably argue over what was in the pantry and end up ordering takeout, and then they'd bicker about what movie to watch. The movie choice wouldn't end up mattering, because in all likelihood they'd abandon it to have sex again, and then they'd eventually go to sleep. Kageyama found comfort in that, in knowing the shape of his and Hinata's routines and the ways in which they loved each other.

He knew, from an outside perspective, that their relationship was bizarre. They'd started out as sworn rivals, after all. In a way they still were, because they still challenged each other and inspired the other to grow and get better. They fought almost constantly, arguing over the littlest thing and slinging out insults without a second thought, and Kageyama knew that wasn't normal. Kageyama knew that people thought they were constantly on the edge of breaking up, that they'd never last for the long haul.

But those people didn't see the way Hinata's eyes lit up when he looked at Kageyama. They didn't see the trust and love he and Hinata had for one another. They didn't feel the way the couple's heartbeats synced up when they laid together, just quietly enjoying each other's presence. They weren't there for the little moments, the important moments, the nothing moments. And they didn't hear the desperation in their voices after they won the championship, staring into each other's eyes and vowing, "It's you and me," as the confetti came down.

"I love you," Hinata murmured.

"I love you too."

"Let's go eat!" he exclaimed, suddenly no longer tired. He sat up and rolled off the bed, gathering his shirt from the floor.

"You forgot your pants," Kageyama said, nudging them with his toe as he sat up on the edge of the bed.

"Ew, no." Hinata wrinkled his nose. "The crotch is all messy now."

Kageyama's eyes lit up, and he reached for them, balling the fabric up in his hands, and threw it at Hinata. He screeched comically, dodging out of the way just as he pulled a pair of boxers from his underwear drawer.

"Two can play at that game, Yamayama!" he said deviously, pulling the cloth from earlier out of the hamper.

"No!" Kageyama narrowly avoided the crusty towel, and Hinata laughed as he jumped into his boxers.

Kageyama quickly pulled on his shirt and underwear, then grabbed the offending towel and ran after Hinata. Hinata squealed and tore out of the room, thundering down the stairs as Kageyama laughed and chased after him. Hinata slipped on the hallway rug, and Kageyama tackled him to the floor, rubbing the cum-stained cloth in Hinata's face.

"Ew, ew, ew!" Hinata screamed, but he was laughing just the same.

"What's wrong? It's your jizz!" Kageyama teased.

Hinata got hold of the towel and threw it away from them, then twisted around so they were chest to chest. He stared up at him, breathing heavily, and Kageyama felt a sharp stab of desire course through him. Maybe they'd skip dinner tonight. But just as he leaned down to kiss his boyfriend, Hinata stuck his tongue out and licked from Kageyama's jaw to his cheekbone.

"Gah!" Kageyama exclaimed, sitting up and wiping the slobber from his face.

Cackling, Hinata scrambled out from underneath him and ran to the living room and the landline phone. "I'm ordering curry rice, what do you want? Don't get something with beans or you're sleeping on the floor tonight!"

Kageyama stayed there kneeling on the floor, reveling in the love and affection he felt for the ridiculous man. They had an uphill battle ahead of them, but Kageyama knew, as surely as they'd continue to fight with each other, they would also continue to fight for each other.