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Painted Words

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It only takes a few seconds of frustrated shouting from some unknown person for Kageyama Tobio to stand up and stomp towards his open window.


He pokes his head out, glares at the sunlight that hits his face, glares at the bird that just flew by, and glares at the park right in front of his dorm. His navy blue eyes narrow even more as soon as they find the source of the ruckus- a boy is on all fours, numerous pieces of paper scattered around him.

Kageyama makes out what the guy is screaming, something like “I CAN’T WRITE I CAN’T WRITE I’M GOING TO FAIL THIS SUBJECT THEN I’LL HAVE TO RETAKE IT AND WHAT IF I FAIL AGAIN WHAT IF I’M STUCK IN AN ENDLESS LOOP WHAT IF-“ before he shuts his window. Ah. Better.

The momentary silence is broken by the ringing of his mobile phone and he’s ready to mute and throw it against the wall, maybe, until he sees that it’s Daichi who’s calling. He lies down on his bed, runs a hand through his disheveled hair as he grumbles a “Hello” into his phone.

“Kageyama.” Daichi’s voice is cheerful, enough to make a shiver run up Kageyama’s spine. “How are you holding up?”

Glancing back at where he sat before someone rudely interrupted him, Kageyama replies with an “Okay, I guess." It seems enough for Daichi, who only reminds him of the date, time, place, “Can you please not be late?” and then hangs up.

It’s that time of the year when the professors come up with genius ideas for another avenue for their students’ talents to flourish. The Art Department thought of the brilliant idea of having the students from various years to team up, and Kageyama has around two days left until their group’s week-long exhibit.

Each group is given one week to submit the list of their members, and after six days of either being avoided like the plague or tripping over his own “Excuse me can I please join your group,” Kageyama has pretty much assumed that he will be working alone. He’s in one of the art rooms, painting, and the final bell of the day has just rung, when he hears someone knocking on the window.

A man stands outside, a hand raised in greeting. He introduces himself as ‘Sawamura Daichi’ after Kageyama confusedly slides the window open, rubs his nape as he says that it must be awkward since it is the first time they've met. But it isn't, Kageyama’s seen his surprised face among the disappointed looks in the audience a month back. A surprised look that he must be imitating when he hears “I want you in my group,” come out of Daichi’s mouth.

Immediately, Kageyama shakes his head no. Yet he doesn’t want Daichi to misunderstand, so he says, “But, I’m Kageyama Tobio,” as if the simple sentence would suffice as an explanation.

Daichi looks at him as though he’s grown a second head. “…Yes? I know.”

Now it’s Kageyama’s turn to look at Daichi like he’s gone crazy. “I’m Kageyama Tobio. I’m-”

“I know.” Daichi’s eyes are strong, steady, as he cuts off Kageyama. “I know, Kageyama.”

There’s something in the look on his face that tells Kageyama that yes, he knows. That yes, he knows, and he still wants him on his team. Kageyama accepts, and his name is written down on a form that Daichi quickly submits to the head of the department.

He introduces him to Tsukishima Kei, a fellow first year, and Nishinoya Yuu, a second year. They both know about him, the former straight up poking at him, earning both (because Kageyama won’t just let him off the hook) of them ‘Don’t you dare start’ looks from Daichi, while the latter acts like it’s no big deal, like it’s no big deal to let down your own group.

Kageyama definitely doesn’t want the same thing to happen again. He doesn’t want to let everyone, including himself, down. With those thoughts in mind, he pushes himself off the bed, ready to work on one last painting for the exhibit. There’s the scratching of wood against wood as Kageyama pulls back the chair he was sitting on earlier.

As he sits down, he stares at the canvas in front of him, stares at all the white, all the space, hears the muffled shouting from outside, and picks up his paint brush.


Three hours later, Kageyama throws the brush up in the air, mimics the frustrated shouting he heard earlier that day, and only gets a paint brush hitting his head as a reply.





Kageyama’s Saturday starts with his alarm clock waking him up. It’s the crash that it makes after Kageyama slaps it off his bedside table, not its insistent ringing that wakes him up though, and it’s the thought of having to go to a cramped café that sends him running out of the door.

He frequents this particular coffee shop in the campus, a few blocks away from his dorm. He’s been here enough to know how the bell at the door dings when someone enters, how there’s always music softly flowing through the speakers, how Yamaguchi, the barista for the first half of the day, makes the best black coffee. Yamaguchi’s been the victim of Kageyama’s cranky morning attitude far too many times, and now knows to start preparing his drink as soon as he goes in.

Yes, Kageyama’s been here enough to know which table is the best for those who want to be alone, it’s in the corner of the shop and he’s always there every eight in the morning. Except now it’s already nine AM, and someone else is already occupying it.


Kageyama is already turning away when he sees the familiar orange, hears the very familiar frustrated shouting, and he knows that that’s the guy from yesterday. There’s somebody else with him who’s picking up crumpled paper balls and is that Sugawara?

It is. Kageyama’s seen him far too many times with Daichi to be wrong. The boy and Sugawara start talking when someone bumps Kageyama’s shoulder, making him realize that he’s been staring and should probably head out now. Making the mistake of looking back, Kageyama is greeted with the sight of Sugawara smirking at him. What?

As he voices out the question, he’s bumped yet again on the shoulder. But this time, instead of a “Sorry,” Kageyama gets a hissed “King.”

He turns towards the sound, but all he sees are the backs of people, and hears his mind cruelly reminding him that it shouldn't matter. After all, he should be used to it already.

It shouldn't matter, really.

He tells himself that over and over again as he rushes back to his dorm, racing up the stairs when the elevator takes too long. Kageyama’s steps are quick yet heavy, much like the thudding of his heart. He reaches the third floor, stops in front of his door for a few seconds as he fumbles with his keys.

The cup of coffee is set on his bedside table, his jacket is thrown carelessly on the floor, and Kageyama himself sits down in front of the blank canvas again. The brush is picked up and dipped in black paint as he closes his eyes. Darkness blinds him at the same time hundreds of whispers of king king king king deafen him. He blinks his eyes open, but unfortunately, they do not stop.

They continue even as Kageyama lifts his hand to paint, even as he’s starting to plot lines here and there, curving them, connecting them, a few drops here and there. He’s shut out most of the noises when he puts down the brush.

By the time he remembers his coffee, it’s already cold, and Kageyama doesn’t really like his coffee cold. But when he takes a sip as he stares at the finished painting, he feels this certain warmness an espresso would normally offer him. Kageyama savors the feeling, before it’s washed away by the cold, as always.

He’s done with all five paintings for the exhibit, even though he’ll only need one tomorrow. Kageyama continues to stare at the canvas on his easel until the last sip of his coffee.


Maybe he’ll bring it with him tomorrow.






It’s Monday and Kageyama arrives at the gallery at eight-thirty AM, thirty minutes before the opening. He looks around the medium-sized room, easily finding Daichi who’s hanging his work on the wall.

Daichi hears him approaching and turns to him with a smile. He glances at the canvas Kageyama has tucked under his arm and nods, making Kageyama breathe out in relief.

The other members of the group are there too, each tilting their own canvases a bit to the left, or maybe to the right, until it looks just right. They each get a ‘wall’ of the gallery for their works and since Daichi decided that they’ll each ‘unveil’ a painting every day for five days, the gallery still seems a bit bare.

Kageyama’s own wall is on the other side of the room, directly in front of the entrance. Walking towards it, he starts to take off the paper he loosely wrapped the canvas in. After he hangs the canvas on the wall, and adjusting it again and again and again until he hears Nishinoya shout, “It’s fine, Kageyama!”), he steps back and stares. Since the walls are pure white, the black lines on his work stand out even more. It looks like he’s painted on the wall.

"A crown?” Tsukishima steps next to him. “Very fitting for a King.”

“Yeah.” Kageyama presses down the sudden urge to smirk at the dumfounded look on Tsukishima’s face, and instead goes over to where Nishinoya is standing.   

It’s nine AM and it doesn’t surprise Kageyama that their first visitor is Sugawara. Planning to at least greet his senpai, he overhears them talking. Daichi seems to be asking about someone, to which Sugawara replies with a shake of his head and a sigh. They both brighten when they see Kageyama though, and when Sugawara peeks over his shoulder to catch a glance of Kageyama’s work, the smile on his face brightens even more.

As more people start to pile in, Kageyama excuses himself, that he’ll be looking around if they need him. He reaches Nishinoya’s first, and he knows that it’s his even before he sees the name below the canvas. Everything about it, every detail, every stroke of grass, every sunny smile on the children’s faces – they just scream Nishinoya. Kageyama can say the same about the turbulence within Tsukishima’s thunderstorm. He doesn’t even know where to begin with Daichi’s roses.

When he looks away from Daichi’s, he suddenly realizes that there are already a lot of people. With nothing else to do, he takes a seat on one of the benches in the middle of the room and yawns. He watches Nishinoya entertaining some of the people viewing his work, and feels really grateful that he wouldn’t have to do the same.

Even after much begging and persuading from Nishinoya, Sugawara and Daichi, Kageyama has decided not to display his name anywhere. In fact, he’s even asked not to include his name in any of the banners or flyers that they've stuck around the campus. They've simply marked him as a ‘guest’. Which is for the best, Kageyama thinks.

He’s about to fall asleep when he hears rushed footsteps, instantly waking him up. Groaning, he opens his eyes and sees a blur of orange suddenly pass by him, making its way towards Sugawara and Daichi. Kageyama squints, the boy is apparently asking for something, with the way he’s waving his arms around, and how Sugawara hands him a stack of Post-Its and hey that’s the same boy from before.

And then the boy’s running again, and he’s running towards his painting. Kageyama stands up, alarmed. It wouldn’t be good if some rabid (probably) little boy does shit to something that he worked on and then Kageyama’s running after him.

He skids to a stop when the boy suddenly halts, just a meter away from the canvas. Kageyama hears him suck in a deep breath, sees his right hand move, then he stops again. Then he’s looking up and down up and down and quickly sticks a Post-It next to his painting.

Kageyama’s about to call out to him because what the hell, when the boy starts running again. This time, he passes by Sugawara and Daichi, and heads straight out of the door.

Wasting no time at all, Kageyama hurriedly peels off the Post-It, already about to crumple it and to throw it in a garbage can like what he always does with random pieces of paper with the word “King” written on them that suddenly appear when he sees that no, no this is different. This is –


And even the mighty fall sometimes,

so they can see

what has always been theirs,

and what more they can be.

And even the mighty fall sometimes,

so the world can see

if they are going to stay overthrown,

if they are going to go back up,

or if they are going to soar higher

than they have ever flown.


This is different. The boy didn’t write “King”, the boy didn’t write anything of that sort and it leaves Kageyama rooted to the spot because no one’s ever told him that. No one’s ever bothered to say anything like that and he doesn't hear it among the many many “Kings” that he’s heard and he wonders if the kid even knows him.

When Kageyama feels someone’s hand on his shoulder, when he sees Daichi reading what’s written on the sticky note and when he sees Sugawara, with a look that’s similar to the one he wore when he first saw Kageyama’s submission, on his other side, something within Kageyama seems to overflow.

Kageyama needs a brush and a canvas. Now.

So he excuses himself, faintly hears Sugawara’s proud “See, Daichi? I told you this would be good for both of them,” and runs, runs outside. He’s bumped into someone and he hears it again.

He hears “King,” from the same voice from the café, but this time Kageyama stops running and he faces him and he bows down in apology. When Kageyama straightens, the look on the other’s face says that he knows Kageyama’s not only apologizing for bumping him. But Kageyama doesn’t wait for a reply, maybe he doesn’t need it, so he continues on his way.

As soon as he enters his room, he immediately brings out a canvas, sets it on the easel that’s permanently situated a few meters away from his window overlooking the park, and sticks the Post-It on the wall next to him before he sits down.

The brush is picked up and dipped in black before it is smeared across the canvas. There’s a flurry of lines and curves before they’re all joined together. They’re rough, they’re smooth, they’re gliding.

It is only when Kageyama finishes when he realizes what he’s painted.


And he smirks.





It’s Tuesday when Kageyama wakes up and the first thing he notices as he sits up is that the painting from last night is missing. He panics and he panics even more when he sees that it’s already eight-fifty AM and Daichi is probably going to kill him for being late.

There’s no time for breakfast, obviously. Kageyama grabs a random canvas from the pile that he’s prepared for the exhibit, internally thanking the heavens that his dorm is close to the gallery as he runs. He’s not sure whether to be relieved or not when he bursts through the entrance and sees the missing painting next to his first one. There are more people than yesterday, but he still manages to spot Daichi, who seems to be talking to someone.

“Daichi-san!” Kageyama calls out.

 Daichi looks at him, excuses himself from his companion and jogs his way over to Kageyama.

“Um, Daichi-san,” Kageyama glances at Daichi then at his painting, “why is my – How did you…?”

Dachi follows his gaze and raises an eyebrow. “What? I went and brought your painting. I tried waking you up, but you wouldn't even budge.”

“You… did?”

“I also called you last night. Didn't you check your phone?”

“Ah. I woke up late – ”

“Yes, you did.”

“– I didn’t hear it ringing last night.”

Daichi sighed. “You know, you could’ve told me that you’re not done with your submissions yet.”

Kageyama shakes his head. “I am.”

“Huh? The paint looks pretty fresh to me.”

“It’s just something that I worked on yesterday,” Kageyama explains, showing the canvas that he brought along.

Daichi hums. “It doesn't seem like it’s just ‘something’.”

“It is.”

“Well then,” Daichi taps the edge of the canvas, “you can still switch them, if you want.”

Does he? No he doesn't, and Daichi hums a bit more pleasantly when he says so.

“'Just something’, huh?” Daichi smirks at him and claps him on the shoulder, telling him that he’s done a pretty good job on the painting, before heading out the gallery for his classes.

With a sigh, Kageyama walks across the room with his head down. To say that he’s surprised when he sees another Post-It on his area would be an understatement. How on earth could he have missed the boy when he’s been here the entire time? Kageyama is sure, perfectly sure, that there wasn't any yellow notes stuck on the wall while he’s been talking to Daichi.

Realizing that he’s probably spent a good minute standing there with his jaw dropped, Kageyama peels the sheet off the wall before anyone else could see it. He runs, realizes that he hasn't been running for quite awhile now, and realizes that he has missed this, missed the feel of the air against his skin and the way everything blurred as he passes by them as his breathing becomes labored.

And Kageyama realizes with a jolt that he’s been realizing a lot of things lately.

He’s just entered the building where his dorm is in but he absolutely cannot wait any longer, so he starts reading what’s on the paper as he goes up the stairs.


You are flying,

around and around.

A gush of wind,

makes its howling sound.

And your wings think

that you cannot hear,

every time they ask,

‘Where are we going from here?’


And Kageyama finds the answer to the question when he opens his window again, hearing the faint laughter of friends from the park, the cars, the feel of the sunlight on his face. He remembers the way Daichi knocked on the window, but he hears it again, another knock. And another. And he ducks just in time to evade a paper ball flying his way.

“What the-”

He sees the oranges, and they seem so familiar to him now, and he hears the frustrated shouting again but this time, this time he gets his answer and he leaves the window wide open as he sits in front of the canvas.

This time, he calls Daichi, he says that he’ll be bringing his work tonight, as he stares at the open balcony on his canvas. It’s black and white, but it’s open nonetheless.






It’s already nine AM when Kageyama walks out of the lesson hall, his backpack heavy with books. He passes by another room where Daichi is waiting for him. Apparently, their professor has extended their class to make up for the days they were excused to prepare for the exhibit, so “You can go ahead without us, Kageyama.”

Kageyama simply accepted. It’s okay, they don’t expect much people to be there in the morning. The Music Department is having some sort of mini concert (yet another brilliant suggestion by their professors), and even Nishinoya has told the group that he’ll be there to support his drummer friend, Tanaka.

And really, anywhere where there aren't much people, Kageyama’s in.

Kageyama reaches the gallery at around nine-forty-five AM. He’s about to step inside when someone almost collides with his chest. He looks down and sees orange that speeds off, not even waiting for Kageyama’s reply after he shouts a quick apology over his shoulder.

(And it’s not Kageyama’s fault that he wasn’t able to reply with an irritated “Watch where you’re going, dumbass.” No, it’s definitely the way his stupid heart seemed to go off as fast as that little boy ran that made him swallow his words. Maybe he’s been running around too much.)

Kageyama thinks that the boy must be late for class or must have a strict professor. His thoughts are confirmed when he hears him shouting, “UKAI-SENSEI IS GOING TO KILL ME!” He sympathetically shakes his head as he enters the gallery. Ukai’s never given him a moment of peace ever since he fell asleep during one of his lectures.


(It’s dark it’s dark why isn’t anyone turning back it’s dark it’s dark I can’t see – BAM.

“Well now that Kageyama’s finally awake, let’s ask him to solve this problem on the board.”)


He walks over to his wall and as expected, there is already a Post-It stuck on. The thought of the boy risking being late to Ukai’s class just to do this makes his heart do this irritating little thing and it also kinda makes him want to smack him on the head because you dumbass.


When the door closes,

do not turn away,

do not start screaming,

do not knock furiously on the wood.

When the door closes,

learn to stay,

learn to press your ear to the cold surface,

learn to listen to their sobbing,

even if it kills you right where you stood.


But wait, there’s something at the bottom –

’What’s your name?’

And of course, of course it’s Tsukishima.

“What the hell do you want?” Kageyama sneers, crumpling the paper in his grip.

Tsukishima, the cocky bastard, smirks. “Oh nothing. I didn’t think that there would be anyone who’s interested in art that wouldn't know about you, King.”

Kageyama tightens his fist when he sees Tsukishima’s eyes travel to his hand. “But I guess I was wrong.”

And he’s close, this close to punching something (or someone), because this is Kageyama’s, this is something that hasn't been tainted by the disgust of many. And Tsukishima can poke at him all he wants but just this once don’t –

“That’s good, I suppose.”

Kageyama needs to get his ears checked, he thinks. But the look on Tsukishima’s face, like he wants to take back what he said, tells him that he’s heard him well. They stand together in silence for a moment, until Tsukishima turns and exits without another word.

Smoothing out the worn-out note in his hand, Kageyama rereads what the boy has written, especially the last line.

“Those look really awesome, Kageyama.”

Kageyama all but rips the tiny paper when he hears someone beside him talk.

“N-Nishinoya-san,” he stutters, silently hoping that the other didn’t see the note that he’s currently stuffing in his pocket, “what are you doing here?”

“Ryuu’s group won’t be performing for at least another thirty minutes,” Nishinoya replies, his eyes never leaving the paintings on Kageyama’s wall.

“Great job, Kageyama. These are really great,” Nishinoya says, his voice full of pride as he flashes him a smile and a thumbs up.

Never having been complimented so earnestly, Kageyama flushes red, his words a jumble of “Thank you no it’s not that great I mean yours are so much better thank you Nishinoya-senpai.”

Nishinoya, obviously delighted at being called a senpai, beams even more.



“What’s your name?”

The simple question haunts Kageyama for the rest of the day. It echoes in his thoughts, in his lines, in his waves, in his splashes and crashes. It echoes in his ocean.

He doesn't hear the word “King” anywhere at all.






It’s Wednesday and Kageyama only has one class, from eleven-thirty AM to three PM. He decides to hang around in the gallery for the entire morning, waiting for the orange haired boy to arrive.

He doesn’t.

But when Kageyama gets back at three-thirty PM, a Post-It is already there.


‘The calm before the storm,’

they say.

It frightens people,

the idea of something coming.

But what terrifies me,

is what will happen after it goes away.


And there it is again, “What’s your name?” scrawled at the bottom.

But this time is different, because this time, he gets a name. He gets ‘Hinata Shouyou’, and it scares Kageyama.

Because ‘Hinata Shouyou’ is screaming a face in his mind, because ‘Hinata Shouyou’ is the boy that’s been leaving around notes for Kageyama, because ‘Hinata Shouyou’ is both the calm before the storm and the storm itself.

And because Hinata Shouyou wants to know who he is.





It’s Thursday, and Kageyama arrives at the gallery at nine-thirty AM.

It really, really surprises him when his submission for the day, a painting of an empty bottle, has a Post-It stuck beside it. He’s not expecting anything, really –


Today is the day

when I will breathe in the scent of you

for one last time.

But I cannot bring myself

to exhale.


Kageyama’s definitely not expecting the way his breathing hitches, the way his feet carry him around the gallery, the way his eyes scour the area for any sign of orange, the way he hopes hopes that he’ll see him. He expects it to be easy because his eyes have been so used to black and white and a sudden orange whirlwind in his life should be easy to spot.

He doesn’t stop until Daichi and Sugawara arrive and they ask him “Kageyama? Kageyama are you okay?” and he wonders what he looks like since they sound really worried. They don’t even believe him when he excuses himself, “I just need some fresh air.”

(And maybe that’s what he’s always needed.)

Only a couple of minutes have passed since Kageyama’s entered his dorm, but a mop of messy hair is already taking shape on his canvas. Kageyama reasons with himself that he’s doing this as a sign of gratitude, as a thank you for barging into my life kind of thing.

His hand stills, the brush stopping a few centimeters away from the canvas. There’s something wrong, Kageyama thinks. There’s his bird’s nest hair, his face, the outlines but –

Oh. It hits him.

Kageyama’s never really seen Hinata Shouyou’s face up close.

He tries, he tries to imagine. He’s ruined three canvases before Daichi calls. Kageyama apologizes for the delay, says that he’ll definitely bring his submission tomorrow.

It’s already three AM when he calls Daichi, waits until he ends his what are you doing calling me at this ungodly hour speech, before he says it.

“I don’t think I’ll be able to bring anything today,” Kageyama says, his voice tired.

“What?” Daichi’s awake now. “Didn’t you say you’ve finished all of your work?”

“I know.” Kageyama looks at the pile of canvases on his floor. “I’ve finished all of my work.”

It’s silent for a few seconds, and Kageyama’s starting to think that Daichi’s hang up on him, until Daichi says, “You’ve got until Saturday.”

The line goes dead.





It’s Friday, nine-twenty AM when Kageyama runs into the gallery and hears a very familiar voice.

“A little… late? Why?”

And sees very familiar orange.

Daichi’s looking at Hinata Shouyou worriedly. “I’m sure he’ll have one up tomorrow.”

“But,” Hinata Shouyou says, his voice shaky, “today’s the last day.”

(Today is the day)

Kageyama takes a step closer, making Daichi look up at him. He seems to have something to say, but Sugawara silences him with a quick glance at Hinata Shouyou.

(when I will breathe in)

Hinata Shouyou starts digging around in his bag, making Kageyama widen his eyes due to shock when he brings out his Post-Its and silently sticks a blank one on the wall, just where Kageyama’s last submission should’ve been.

(the scent of you)

And when he turns around, Kageyama finally finally sees him.

(for one last time.)

But it seems wrong, it seems very very wrong for him to have that expression on his face.

(But I cannot bring myself)

Kageyama doesn’t even realize that Hinata Shouyou has already walked out the door until Sugawara places a hand on his shoulder.


Slowly, Kageyama looks at Sugawara straight in the eyes. “Hinata… Shouyou?”

(to exhale.)

The moment Sugawara nods, Kageyama runs out of the door, his heart thudding wildly in his chest. He keeps running, running, but this time, this time he has somewhere to go to. He’s mentally going through the stuff he knows he has back at his dorm, but he’s sure that he’s missing something important.

He stops in front of the campus’ Art Supplies Store, and yanks the door open forcefully, making the part-time shop keeper look up in surprise.

“Oh, Kageyama!” Kuroo, a third year, stops trying to fix his bed head. “Out of black paint? We’ve actually got some new ones in stock –”

“Orange,” Kageyama breathes out.

Kuroo bolts up from his seat. “…What?”

“Orange,” Kageyama repeats, “a lot of it.”



After much of Kuroo’s… help (“Say, what are you planning on painting?” “Kaaageeyaaamaaaaa” “Come on, number one customer, tell me” “You’re planning on painting a person? Kageyama, you never do that – wait. If you’re going to need a lot of orange… ohohoho? I see. I see.”), Kageyama sits in front of another canvas.

And he paints. He paints, like he’s never done so before. He’s brought out all of the colors he’s gotten as gifts from his parents, he’s brought out all of his brushes. His dorm’s a complete mess, but then again, so is he.

Kageyama is careful, careful yet free. He curls up the curves of Hinata Shouyou’s hair, he lights up his face with a smile. There are splashes of other colors among the oranges, and when Kageyama closes his eyes, when he closes his eyes, he’s delighted to see that they stay with him even then.






It’s Saturday and when Kageyama steps inside the gallery at two-fifty in the afternoon, he looks like he survived a train wreck.

He ignores the looks of the visitors and heads straight to his area, nervously hanging up the painting he has managed to finish. It’s a bit crooked to the side, and he’s about to fix it when Daichi beats him to it.

“So this is what Kuroo’s been talking about yesterday?” Daichi asks, a hint of amusement in his voice.

Kageyama’s about to reply when Sugawara joins in.

“So it seems,” He says, a proud look on his face.

“While I don’t care that you’re late,” great, even Tsukishima’s here now, “I do think that your taste in fashion is…” he trails off, cringing as he looks up and down Kageyama’s paint-splattered black overalls.

Kageyama tsk’s, completely forgetting about changing before leaving his dorm. Daichi suggests borrowing some of his, since he’s brought some to change into after the event, when Tsukishima cuts in.

“I don’t think the King has enough time,” Tsukishima raises an eyebrow at the glare Kageyama’s directing him, “The Queen’s here,” he says, glancing at the entrance.

And that’s all it takes for Kageyama to freeze up.

Suddenly, Nishinoya’s there, patting him on the back, telling him to “Get ready! I’ll stall Shouyou as long as I can!”

Kageyama only nods dumbly, moving when he sees Daichi and Sugawara approach Hinata Shouyou. He walks off to the side, his hand reaching into his pocket. He shakily pulls out the Post-Its, all of them, even the blank one, and tries to calm himself down by rereading them.

He thinks he’s doing a great job until he hears him, hears him say “Excuse me” and “Pardon me” for a great deal of people is gathered around his area. And oh god, oh god they know. They know because they’re looking at Kageyama, then at the painting, then at Hinata. They know.

And he knows that Hinata Shouyou knows, because he’s staring at the painting. He’s staring and then he raises a hand to touch his own orange hair. He knows that Hinata Shouyou knows, because he’s squinting at the background of the painting, and he turns around, and back and turns and back. He seems confused, he must be, since Kageyama tried his best to duplicate the wall directly across his, to use it as a background for his painting.

And Kageyama’s having trouble breathing, because it looks like everything has just clicked inside Hinata Shouyou’s head, and like the him in the painting, he’s slowly turning left. Kageyama tells himself to move, to move, to move and to not fuck this up.

He’s somehow fucked it up already, because Hinata Shouyou’s nose collides with his chest. And Hinata Shouyou’s glaring up at him, but he falters when they finally finally lock eyes.

Calm down calm down calm down, Kageyama thinks as Hinata Shouyou’s eyes travel from his face to his clothes, his eyes widening as he takes in the colors splattered all over his clothes, his mouth trembling when he sees the Post-Its in Kageyama’s shaking hand.

As Hinata Shouyou continues to stare, Kageyama tries to distract himself by wondering, ‘Does Hinata Shouyou smile the same way he does in my painting?’

He finds himself desperately wanting to know the answer when Kageyama realizes (again and again and again), he hasn’t even answered the one question that Hinata Shouyou’s been asking him this entire time.


So he breathes in, clears his throat, and extends a hand.



“Kageyama Tobio.”



And he finds that the answer to his question is ‘Yes, Hinata Shouyou does smile the same way he does in his painting.'