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x

 

Kageyama Tobio listens from inside the truck, freezers already whirring, air stale from the smell of shaved ice.

"It's a Karasuno High School alumni tradition," Coach Ukai explains again, patting the battered sides of his family's ice cream truck down, flicking off the worn stickers of ice cream selection's past. "I'll have you know that the little giant served ice cream out of this exact van."

Hinata Shouyou, wide-eyed and gleaming like he's still a first year in high school, waves his hands at his sides, flitting his fingers about in excited wiggling. He leaps up a couple of times, bounding despite the thickness of summer air soup, before settling himself on the ground, examining the truck, and tapping the bumper lightly with his foot. He recoils, frenzied, like it’s going to swallow him up before finding his excitement again.

"Are you serious? The little giant?" Hinata asks, beside himself.

"No."

"Oh."

Kageyama can't help but snicker, the sound of it lost under the running engine. 

"But it's nice to see how enthusiastic about this you are. I can tell you'll sell a lot of ice cream." Ukai grins, determined. "Set a milestone so the alumni after you will have a record to beat."

Kageyama peaks out through the back window, dangles the volleyball in his possession through the open window, and frowns deeply at the thought of spending his Golden Week selling ice cream, of all things. He doesn't even really have a favorite flavor (he'll honestly just eat whatever comes his way, minus the overly ridiculous and terribly sweet, and he usually orders the milk flavored kinds above anything else) and finds the whole endeavor a sure waste of time. Instinct tells him to refuse this stint, to go home and take a nap in the air conditioning, or go for a run alone so he doesn't waste any training time, but as he watches Hinata bounce, his squeak of eager low top shoes saying, 'I'm never gonna back down,' he smiles covertly, ducks behind the walls of the ice cream truck, and reemerges from the back to join the two of them.

"And I'll be able to eat all the ice cream I want, right? Right?" Hinata gapes. "That's gonna be the best part—" 

"No. You can't eat any of it. We're trying to get the team some transportation funds to practice with Nekoma within the month, and that means selling the maximum amount of ice cream." Ukai sighs. "Ah, what did Takeda say again? Oh yeah, selling around the prefecture will foster good relations and spread awareness about the Karasuno High School volleyball team.

Kageyama leans against the truck, tilts his head to the side, and frowns over the thought of being an ambassador. "Isn't that unnecessary though? We went to nationals, after all." He remarks.

"Not everyone is as volleyball minded as you. We could always use the good publicity," Ukai says. "Now, remember: you gotta be all smiles and sunshine when you're selling."

Reluctantly, Kageyama sneaks a peek at Hinata and thinks the latter will have no problem with that. Hinata snaps a look back at his setter, bearing down and on the verge of an outright glare before looking away with a pout. Kageyama rolls his eyes, wondering how Hinata could still be mad after one of their usual (and frankly inane) arguments on the bus ride back to Miyagi, and just relents with a tired, travel-worn sigh. He could go on yelling at him, something he still does quite often, actually, but he settles back into content nothingness and feels the tension roll off his back. Over the past couple of years, he’s learned the merits of deep breathing on and off the court, and it has helped him greatly with dealing with the likes of Hinata Shouyou, frustrations and fluster-spells alike.

“Well, I bet I can sell more ice cream than Kageyama!”

Kageyama snaps back. “What did you say to me, dumbass?

“Now, now you, too. Don’t make me get Tsukishima and Yamaguchi for this instead."

We won’t lose to them!” Kageyama and Hinata shout back in accidental unison, making Kageyama bite back on his tongue the moment the words leave his mouth. It’s always been like this, ever since their first year at Karasuno and more so as the deadly oddball duo in college, but it still comes as a surprise to Kageyama when this syncing happens off the court. He wonders if he's just noticed it more because of his current afflictions, tells himself to keep swallowing  the words back, his I like you’s, and be done with such thoughts.

“We’re gonna do our best for Karasuno.” Hinata breaks into a smile, almost menacing at the setter, carrying no traces of post-argument storm surge. With a smile of his own, one he doesn’t mean to let spread, Kageyama gets the hint, bows to Ukai lightly, and watches Hinata hop into the back of the truck with a bag rattling full of waffle cones, sprinkle jars, and spoons. Kageyama lifts himself up too, wanders into the driver’s seat, and tacitly accepts Hinata’s wordless challenge to drive the hell out this ice cream truck.

“If you crash my truck, you’re dead," Ukai tells the both of them as a final warning. “I’d like it back before ten everyday this week.”

“Got it," Kageyama tells his former coach, pressing his hands on the steering wheel. For someone who’s only recently gotten his license, Kageyama doesn’t consider himself too bad of a driver, even if road rage still gets the best of him sometimes. Rolling down the road and away from their former coach, he lets Hinata stumble into shotgun and slip on a pair of sunglasses from the collar of his shirt, ready for whatever might come their way.

They drive on, silent as the summer haze itself.

"Hey, Kageyama."

"What?"

"Don't eat all the milk bars. I know they're your favorite flavor, but you've gotta control yourself, okay?" Hinata smirks at him with a scoff-filled chuckle. His shades slip down the bridge of his nose, eyes peeking through in snideness, in brilliant clarity.

Kageyama rolls his eyes again and almost misses the red light in the process, coming to an abrupt stop at the crosswalk. Tempted to spew his usual obscenities at Hinata, he just slumps into his seat, lets his heart settle into something simmering, and peeks once more at Hinata. With his seatbelt neglected, his face has planted itself right in the dashboard and palms sprawled out on the window.

"Maybe you should let me drive," Hinata tells him, still in disarray. "The thought of milk bars is getting to your head."

"I'm gonna run you over with this truck," Kageyama says, with only half of his usual conviction.

 

(Because frankly, he's still flabbergasted that Hinata would remember his favorite flavor.)

 

x

 

"Listen, I'm telling you, kid, we don't have blue cherry popsicles. Those only come in red, all right?" Kageyama tells the grade schooler at the front of the line for the fifth time in a span of two minutes. Half out the window, Kageyama points over to a picture of a Tikachu novelty pop on the menu and offers an unintentional grimace. "How about this one, huh? It's lemon flavored, and it's got bubblegum eyes." 

(Did children still like bubblegum? Was Tikachu still popular? At this, Kageyama can't help but feel a thousand years old at nineteen.)

"My mom doesn't let me have bubblegum! And lemon is disgusting!" The little girl shouts back, indignant. "I want blue cherry."

"And I'm telling you, blue cherry doesn't exist." Kageyama holds his breath, knowing how red he's getting from trying not to lose his temper. He peers at the impatient line of children behind blue cherry girl, their feet tapping, their voices squealing, wonders if it'd be better to just to toss all the popsicles he has in the freezer, and drive off before completely blowing his pitiful excuse for a fuse. But before he does just that, Hinata squeezes his way through the window with a high-towered soft serve cone. Classic vanilla with electric blue sprinkles.

The girl gleams up with a childish sigh, eyes fluttering. "Mister, that's amazing." It's love at first sight.

"Whenever I can't find a flavor I like, I just ask for a vanilla cone with sprinkles. Can't go wrong with that, right? You get the pop, a bwaah of color with all the great flavor!" Hinata says with a strong nod. 

"Y-yeah!" The little girl bids excitedly. "Bwaah!" 

Hinata laughs and hands her the cone. His customer hands over ¥175 and glares once more at Kageyama before looking back at the second salesman.

"You should tell that grumpy guy over there to stick to driving the truck," she says innocently before skipping off to see her friends. Kageyama is too busy catching flies in his mouth to say anything back.

Hinata tries not to laugh and mashes his lips closed. Kageyama catches him anyway.

"Say anything and you're dead. Dead, dead, dead." Kageyama regains enough composure to say, watching Hinata sell another soft serve cone with blue sprinkles.

"Hey, kill me all you want, but the truth of the matter is that you've only sold three popsicles. You're really terrible at using the soft serve machine, too," Hinata muses. "You don't put enough ice cream in the cone and it ends up looking really sad. I think you made a kid cry because of that."

"Oh, shut up! It's not like you're doing much better than me," Kageyama says. "How much have you sold?"

Hinata sticks the money in the register and throws up a peace sign, scrunching his fingers like bunny ears. "With that last sale, fifty-seven. Or fifty-eight? I don't know." Patting Kageyama on the back, he grins and throws a red cherry pop out the window and takes another victory for himself. "Don't worry, Kageyama, we're nothing without our driver." 

"Don't give me your pity." 

"Then sell more popsicles," Hinata chirps back pleasantly, dodging one of Kageyama's chops on the head with his usual agility, handing another child a blue ice pop without missing a beat. 

'Well, I'll show you.' Feigning a smile, Kageyama shoves Hinata out of the way at the selling window, widens his attempt at a grin for the pre-schooler at the curb, and watches the girl instantly break into tears.

 

(On this particular afternoon, the Karasuno High School Alumni Ice Cream Truck ends up giving away five free popsicles to the children Kageyama made cry.)

(However, Kageyama still can’t help but feel ecstatic when he ends up selling a lopsided soft serve to a particularly shy toddler at the park, though he tries not to show any semblance of it. Hinata would never let him live it down.)

 

(Hinata knows, anyway.)

 

x

 

Kageyama is busy taking inventory at the end of the day when he realizes where Hinata’s gone.

"Hey—" 

Forming a bluster at the back of his throat, Kageyama stops himself from yelling at him to get back into the truck when he sees that Hinata’s somehow made himself the makeshift coach of a playground volleyball match down the park lane. He sets his clipboard down on the freezer, catches the end-of-day light in his eyes from the window, and leans over the ledge to watch the middle blocker take his turn on the court. Kageyama can’t help but let a little laugh pass through when Hinata nearly misses the serve (because it’s not like he’s gotten that much better at them in three years,) and allows himself to be heckled in the process with no hard feelings. Hinata points towards the sky next, shouting something Kageyama can’t hear from where he’s standing, but he’d like to think he knows the words nonetheless. 

‘Jump for the sky! You’ll reach it in no time.’ That’s something Hinata would say. The children look upon him like he’s just moved down from some place solar, like he’s come to bring a forever’s worth of summers. At this unwarranted thought, Kageyama catches the sunbeams on his face and wipes away the resulting redness.

Ya-hoo!

Kageyama scowls at the subsequent call of Tobio-chan and holds his ground at the selling window. 

“Surprise to catch you here.” Oikawa Tooru, fresh off a straight-set championship victory at his university’s prefectural tournament, holds up a couple of coins in the palm of his hand, gesturing for Kageyama to serve him ice cream. Kageyama glances over, back at Hinata. He hasn’t noticed the former Seijou captain yet, still engrossed with teaching the finer points of his straight-down spike, and it seems that he won’t anytime soon.

“Hello, Oikawa-san.” Kageyama frowns back at the other setter. “How can I...help you today?” The words taste bitter on his tongue, despite how pleasantly cordial they’ve been in the past couple of years, but Kageyama figures it just has to do with the extraneous amount of breeziness Oikawa always seems to carry, like a gale that’s just a bit too annoyingly nippy for his liking, a wind crossing over from winter to early spring.

Oikawa pouts, stuffing the money back into his pocket. “Your countenance is so not cute, Tobio-chan. Have you made children cry with that face of yours yet? I bet you have.”

Kageyama doesn’t entertain his question. “What you like today, Oikawa-san?” he just asks again. 

“Hmm,” he hums. “Well, to be honest, I’m just buying something for Iwa-chan because I think I made him mad again. He ran off in the park and I’m hoping to lure him out with ice cream. Didn’t think you’d be driving the alumni truck this year.” He lets his smile fade into something of a smirk, perhaps a bit of a frown, something he saves for old opponents and prodigy players. “You should give me a discount. The superior senpai sale.

“Cherry popsicles are one hundred and seventy-five yen,” Kageyama answers in a strained deadpan, but he is tempted to charge Oikawa Tooru twenty times the price. 

“You’re really no fun at any of this, are you?” Oikawa sighs. “I bet chibi-chan’s a natural.” He peers down at the court where Hinata’s still playing. “He seems to be the type, wouldn’t you say?” 

Shrugging, Kageyama hands Oikawa a soda ice pop from the freezer and absentmindedly takes his money in return. “Like I’d notice that sort of stuff,” he permits himself to say, although it doesn’t sound right rolling off his tongue.

“You’re such a terrible liar.” Oikawa leans against the side of the truck, unwrapping the ice cream he said he’d buy for Iwaizumi. “Noticing. Let’s be honest with ourselves, here. That’s one of the reasons you’ve become such a superb setter in the first place,” he admits with slight reluctance, but he almost seems proud in that same instance.

Kageyama wrinkles his nose. “What?” he asks. 

Watching over your attackers like the good setter you are, aren’t you, Tobio-chan?”

“Yeah?"

“Did anyone ever teach you how to flirt?”

“Please get to the point, Oikawa-san.”

“You've got eyes for your little giant.” Oikawa’s smile turns into something heinous, eyelashes fluttering, but Kageyama really doesn't understand what he's talking about. 

"Yeah, like you said, I'm his setter after all. It’d be irresponsible not to look after—” Kageyama begins to explain to Oikawa Tooru of all people, until he understands in full and horrified clarity. “—oh. Oh, no, you’ve got it all wrong.” He can feel himself turn as red as the cherry ice cream in Oikawa’s mouth, and at this his senpai just accepts a small win for himself.

“When are you going tell him, little turtledove?” Oikawa coos. 

Turtledove?”

“Lovebird doesn’t suit you. Not cute enough, kouhai.”

Kageyama shudders at both pet names and slumps down on the ledge of the window. "Am I that obvious?"

"Hm, I guess not, but when you were looking at chibi-chan before, I thought those sparkly eyes of yours were for the ball he was holding," Oikawa says. "Then I realized he didn't even have one in his hands." 

Oikawa Tooru, almost clairvoyant in the art of observation. Annoyingly so, to Kageyama. 

They both don’t say anything else on the matter, but he can sense Oikawa’s bemusement by the tenfold from just having him around. He finishes up his cherry popsicle, hands Kageyama another bunch of coins from his pocket, and asks for something melon-flavored as seconds. When Oikawa gets what he wants and goes on to brag about his team in university (“I’m telling you, I’d say at least six people on my team have been scouted professionally already!”) Kageyama drifts off into something peaceful, watches the last fight's worth of sunlight hit Hinata’s hair, and decides that he’s brighter than any golden hint of sunset. 

“A professional league in France contacted me last week, too! I told them though, Iwa-chan doesn’t like the hustle and bustle of big cities like Paris…” 

On the court, Hinata teaches a little girl how to serve, padding the ball gently with his already small, but sure hands.

“So I told them, I’d prefer to play where he plays…” 

Like a flare off the side of the sun itself, a line of a grin dashes across Hinata’s face, right back at the ice cream truck at the top of the hill. Kageyama meets his light with a momentary flinch, before letting himself find a semblance of something smiling, too. 

“Because, you know, it’s just better when we’re together, you know?”

Kageyama can’t help but think, ‘yeah, it is.’

 

(“Hey, Tobio-chan, are you still listening to me?”)

 

x


By the end of the second day on the Karasuno ice cream truck, Kageyama and Hinata are so exhausted that they’re content to just lie by the riverbank, not daring to move or think too hard about profits and remaining inventory. The moon rises over the row of houses across the ravine, casting something vaguely cool over the summer heat, and the crickets sing like a frazzled chorus over their rare silence, singing praises like they’re at the stands of some match Kageyama can’t see. He closes his eyes and pretends he’s on the hardwood again, a mix of every game he’s ever played at Karasuno and ones to come, visions of his past and future coalescencing to the fact that he just wants to play, and lets himself hold open palms up to the stars. 

“Are you setting to the sky?” Hinata asks him, catching him in the act. (Kageyama will not pretend he was being conspicuous, anyway.) He looks back, embarrassed, because this is something he usually does alone in his room, actual volleyball in tow and only going as far as the plaster on his ceiling, and lowers his arms from the air. Hinata opens his mouth to say something, almost like he doesn’t want him to stop what he's doing, hand raised and reaching out, just ever so slightly, and Kageyama wonders how he can even notice such slight motions.

Notices. He thinks about that word, such a bland piece of vernacular that’s just thrown around too often nonetheless—oh, I noticed how much better you’re doing on exams, Kageyama-kun, or, oh, I noticed that new shirt of yours, Kageyama-kun—and keeps it with the utmost gravity in his chest. He holds the highest pride in learning to notice. He hides the fact that he notices Hinata to the point of excessive lingering.

“Habit,” Kageyama says, to distract himself. Just a silly, well-formed habit.

Hinata shrugs. “Sometimes, I have these weird dreams where I’m hitting a tossed ball and it’s the sun itself. Isn’t that strange? Like—the real sun. It doesn’t burn, or hurt, or anything, but it’s this ball of light, and gwaah! It makes me feel like I can do anything.” Laughing, Hinata flips back up into standing position, energy regained from sheer will itself. He doesn’t jump, but he swats his hand through the air, fingers finding contact with an invisible ball and the mirage of a net beyond it.

“You can’t make a quick out of the sun.”

“Well, duh.” Hinata looks back, frowning and leaning forward over his setter. “Geez, Kageyama, I’m just trying to have fun with you. Don’t you ever talk about your dreams with anybody? Like, this other time, I got caught by a reeeeally huge lucifer dogfish, and he was hounding me to merge with him because he saw my awesome quick, but—” 

“Don’t start,” Kageyama tells him. He’s heard enough about the lucifer dogfish to last him another seven lifetimes, and he still damns Tsukishima to hell for ever bringing it up in the first place. He rolls over on his side, fishes his head for recent night visions, and realizes that his sleeps are more dreamless than not.

“Got any?” Hinata asks, hopping up and down on the grass.

“Hard to think of one, when you’re jumping around like that.”

“Fine.” Hinata settles to bob back and forth, from his heels to the tips of his toes. “Maybe you’re just the type that never remembers them.”

Kageyama sits up and feels his shirt stick to his back from the sweat. “I do, sometimes. They’re never anything special, though. I don’t dream about hitting the sun, like you do. Or weird fish.” 

“Oh? Then what? Are you paying taxes in your dreams?” Hinata teases. "Making pork curry for yourself?" 

“Um...oh, once in this dream, I ironed a dress shirt and I pressed too hard and burnt right through it.”

“That’s a very you dream.”

“What is that even supposed to mean?”

“You got mad at your shirt and it paid the price," Hinata whispers, ominously. He steps back a couple of paces, holds his hands up in reflex to defend himself, but Kageyama just stares on, slightly miffed. The latter avoids looking at Hinata altogether, more embarrassed than anything, and rips a few thistles from the field between his fingers.

“Last time I tell you anything like that, then.”

“Aw, I’m kidding, Kageyama.” Hinata crouches down, closer to his teammate’s eye level. “aren’t you gonna try chopping me on the head? I promise I’ll dodge a second slower so you might have a chance of hitting me.” 

“I’m gonna kill you,” Kageyama tells him, reaching out, but he misses with his lack of energy. 

Hinata fumbles back on the grass, chuckling. “You know,” he muses, “this is the first time you’ve told me anything like that. Your dreams. It’s kinda nice.” Closing his eyes, he lets the breeze pick him up where he left off, leaving the two of them in something quiet again. Hinata peeks over at his setter again, expects him to say something, to mouth the expectant shut up or whatever, or get back to thinking about volleyball, but Kageyama does no such thing. It is one of those rare times volleyball takes no such precedence.

“I’m gonna kill you," he repeats because he can’t register any of the other words swirling in his head, but the call, the threat, is half-hearted. Soft, for someone like him. Kageyama trails off into a whisper, watches Hinata jump up with all the life in the world, face spread into something frantic and breathless, and hears him yell something about getting ice cream from the truck.   

“You want anything, Kageyama?” Hinata calls from up the hill.

“You’re not supposed to be eating the ice cream, dumbass!”

“Don’t be bitter because you can’t sell any!” He laughs.

Kageyama hears Hinata put on the radio Ukai’s left in the truck, one to blast when things get boring (though they never really do) and Kageyama lets himself get carried away by the beat of some English song he doesn’t quite understand. He raises his hands to the sky again, thinks of setting the ball like he’s got the sun in his hands, and lets himself dream of something solar.

He dreams of a boy in white volleyball shoes, feet small and tapping off the ground.

He dreams of half-scratched voices, a call of Kageyama, like he’s a turned his name into a rally cry itself.

He dreams of someone like the sun, all things warm and somehow shining. 

With hands held up, dozing off from exhaustion, Kageyama dreams of Hinata Shouyou.

 

(Here comes the sun,
Here comes the sun,
and I say, It's all right)

 

x

 

It takes Hinata thirty minutes to ride his bike over the mountain pass, a little more than an hour and a half if he’s walking with Kageyama, and a fraction of both those times when they’re riding in the truck. Hinata's got his shades on again, flipping them on and off to get a good look at the mountains ("you know, I was always so excited to get to school everyday that I ignored the view sometimes") and Kageyama eases on the gas pedal so he can let the sky meet the hills a bit longer.

On the third day of driving the Karasuno ice cream truck, they stop at a scenic overpass and sit outside the car altogether. Hinata draws his knees up to his chest and scoops the vanilla ice cream out of his cup.

"You can see my house from here." He points to a random part of the forest with the circling of his plastic spoon.

"No you can't." Kageyama leans over and gets a better look for himself, finding that he's never really had the chance to see this view, either. "It's just a bunch of trees. Are you trying to tell me you live like Taiwan?"

"What the hell is Taiwan? Do you mean the country?" 

"The guy from those western stories. Raised by monkeys in the wild. It would explain your jumping." 

"You mean...Tarzan?"

Kageyama goes red in the face for the umpteenth time. "Listen, it's not like I go around reading books, nonetheless English ones often, and—" 

Hinata takes the liberty of tapping Kageyama's nose with his spoon to effectively shut him up. The bottom of it is sticky and scented with vanilla.

"Hinata." Kageyama's eyes go wide. He must look ridiculous with a plastic spoon stuck to his nose, but Hinata looks like he's just seen the devil. Dropping his empty cup, Hinata gets up from his spot at the overpass, gets a head start down the road back towards Karasuno, and leaves Kageyama in the dust.

"You idiot! We can't just leave the truck here!" Kageyama calls after him, throwing the spoon down the cliffside, running back into the truck, and putting the key in the ignition. He doesn't have to drive too fast to catch up with Hinata, because he's not exactly making a mad dash away from him, but it must be a curious sight, chasing his crush of four years down the road in a rickety ice cream truck. 

"Hey! Hinata!" Kageyama yells, darting his gaze back and forth from the road. "Why are you running?"

"Because I've been bothering you a lot these past couple of days and you haven't exploded yet! I figured now was the time!" Hinata shouts and throws his head back, huffing over the heavy summer haze. 

"Who do you think I am?"

"Kageyama Tobio!" Hinata shouts out to the road ahead of him, and he can't help but laugh like something wild.

"Just get back in the truck!"

"I can't when it's still moving!"

"Then stop running!"

"You stop driving, then!"

They squabble on like this, road rolling under them, steps light on the half-melted tar when they hit the town where they first shared a team together. There are no signs welcoming them back into the neighborhood, no markers of any sort in sight, but Kageyama knows every weed thistle and stray cat, every familiar rooftop and cracked concrete piece; he knows the places he's run with Hinata a thousand times, and the places he'd like to run with him a bazillion times more.

Hinata is he one to stop first this time, wavering but not falling. With bent knees, sweat dripping off his forehead, he concedes defeat and watches Kageyama from the window.

"What's the count now?"

"For what?" Kageyama asks.

"My losses and wins. You know, the ones we used to keep track of."

"What?"

"From our first year, when we ran." 

"I'm in a truck, Hinata," Kageyama refutes. "I doubt that's fair." 

"Hey, it counts because I'm fast," Hinata jokes, prodding a proud thumb right into his heaving chest. "So I'll take my loss and work harder next time." 

Kageyama puts the parking brake on the truck, leans over the wheel, and shakes his head. "You know," he says, "I don't...actually remember where we left off. It's been a long time." 

"What, have you stopped competing seriously against me?" 

"No, it's not that." Kageyama knows it's not that. As much as he works with Hinata, works to make sure he's giving him the best tosses and hone his speed, his skill, he knows that they will never lose that competitive edge with each other. But that's the word: with. He can't even remember the last time it was anything like against.

Hinata Shouyou is a daily challenge, a game of cat and mouse, but not someone to fight against. 

"I just don't remember the count." Kageyama shrugs. "Things change, I guess," he admits and Hinata goes along with it. He stands upright, stretches out the kinks in his back, and closes his eyes in a contented sigh. It doesn't take him that much longer to get back in the truck, but he doesn't dare at Kageyama too much for the next twenty minutes either. As they drive back up over the mountain pass, Hinata keeps his eyes glued out the open window and laughs intermittently, silent and happy at something Kageyama dares not to ask about, and wonders if it's okay to make speculations.

'Do you like me too, Hinata?'

It takes ten minutes to drive over the mountains at regular speed, but Kageyama slows down to let Hinata catch the sight of something wonderful outside.

 

(Though with eyes mostly on the road, Kageyama doesn't realize just how many glances Hinata steals of his favorite setter.)

 

x

 

Ukai counts the cash, gives a begrudging look of approval, and pats Kageyama and Hinata on the shoulder.

"I'm surprised."

"Surprised?" Kageyama asks, biting into another milk-flavored popsicle, the tenth he’s had in a span of four days.

"Thought you would've run the truck into a river by now." Ukai says. "I'm glad you didn't."

"Well, Kageyama did chase me with it yesterday. Almost ran me right over on the road," Hinata whispers, frankly smug. "Change his name to speed demon Kageyama."

"Don't tell lies, Hinata!" Kageyama chastises him, turning back to Ukai in the next instant. "I swear I didn't! He ran alongside the road! I swear I wasn't speeding!" 

"Hm, that's not a bad idea for a training regimen...get a bunch of the slacker second years to run while I drive the truck. I'd pick the worst hills in the prefecture," Ukai snickers. “But seriously, don’t fool around on the streets. Especially with the a moving vehicle—it’s a sure way to get yourselves killed.”

Kageyama scowls over at Hinata, receiving a stuck-out tongue in response.

"So, what's for tomorrow?" Hinata asks. "How much do we need to sell?”

"Actually, you two are doing such a great job that we can probably stop selling ahead of schedule," Ukai says, dipping back into his cigarette for a ten-thirty puff. “Takeda-sensei’s already got the bus booked and the team’s getting all rowdy about getting to play Nekoma, and there’s actually quite a bit for food expenses, too…”

“Wait, so we don’t have to drive the truck anymore?” Hinata asks abruptly and Kageyama feels the weight in his chest drop to his shoes. He pretends he didn’t want to spend any more time with Hinata anyway, but he can’t help but secretly admit that he was looking forward to the next three days of being cooped up in their small truck. But peeking up at Hinata, Kageyama finds that there’s none of the middle blocker’s usual brand of relief splashed across his face, and that he must be imagining things, because Hinata actually looks disappointed. Hinata wrinkles his nose a couple of times, peeks a few glances back at the truck, but refuses to admit anything about wanting to keep selling ice cream.

“Nope, you’re free to go. Thanks for all your hard work—”

“We should keep going!” Kageyama blurts out, and he almost doesn’t believe himself. He bites his bottom lip, stares straight ahead, and feels Hinata bore wide eyes into him, anyway.

“Really?” Ukai asks, incredulous. “I figured you’d want to be more efficient, like hit the quota and go.”

“Karasuno wants to aim for the top, so we should keep helping them!” Kageyama clenches his fists, because he knows this isn’t the only reason he wants to keep driving the ice cream truck, and it feels vaguely selfish, spending time with Hinata under the guise of helping the team, but he’s not lying completely, either. He found Hinata through Karasuno. As much as he hates to admit it, he’s thankful for everything Karasuno has ever brought him, from that first serve in the gym to his last match as a third year, and he hopes Hinata feels the same way.

No, he doesn’t have to wonder about such things. He knows Hinata does. 

“Well, look at you,” Ukai says. “How do you feel about this, Hinata?”

Hinata brightens up, blinking in rapid fire at Kageyama. The latter just offers something of a smile, one too conscious of what it’s trying to do, and lets it fall apart in a flustered frown.

“Y-yeah!” Hinata shouts back. “I want to keep selling ice cream with Kageyama!” He offers a single, short nod at his setter. Kageyama just nods back. 

“Well, I guess a few extra funds don’t hurt, right?” 

Kageyama shakes his head. “They definitely don’t.”

 

(A little extra time with Hinata wouldn’t hurt, either.)

 

x

 


Kageyama learns a bunch of new things in the truck.

First off, Daichi doesn’t like sprinkles because they grit his teeth, and Sugawara will only have his soft serve on the crunchiest of waffle cones. Tanaka enjoys the Tikachu novelty pops, if only to make fun of how sunken and awful they look unwrapped, and Yamaguchi likes a little salt to go with his sweet, so he always opts for the sea-salt caramel drizzle on his sundaes. Ennoshita despises anything cherry flavored, but is particular to any other flavored sorbets or generally anything topping-less. Narita, for all of his general seriousness, enjoys the passion fruit Kitty-chan gelato series.

Kageyama is also reminded of things he already knows. Kinoshita likes odd tastes like ginger, but usually settles for raspberry. Nishinoya is particularly attached to the blue soda ice candy he already gets from the foothill store, while Tsukishima will never part from a particular strawberry shortcake flavor that he’s lucky the truck carries. Asahi has a hard time picking whenever he’s up on the line, but he always ends up with a chocolate soft serve in a cup, something he finds less messy to eat than with a waffle cone.

“Oh, and Yachi-san said we should have more lemon-flavored things tomorrow, because she said Shimizu-senpai likes the sour taste and we never have enough of that," Hinata says, sitting atop the freezer and bobbing his head along to music on the radio. “Yachi-san wants more milk bars, though, even if she’s too shy to ask about them. I guess you guys have that in common, but she probably thinks you eat all of them anyway.” 

Kageyama nods in approval, spying on Hinata as he slides the freezer open and picks a popsicle for himself, but he can’t make out flavor he’s chosen. “She’s got the right idea,” he says as casually as possible, but his mind has been occupied with trying to figure out Hinata’s favorite flavor before the end of the day. With that quickly approaching, Kageyama scolds himself for not hitting anything close to a discovery, and resigns himself to another bitter, Hinata-related loss.

The problem is, Hinata doesn’t seem to hate any flavor, much like how he handles people in general, and this just makes it harder to pinpoint the subject of favorites. If Hinata doesn’t have a favorite flavor, what were the chances he didn’t particularly have a favorite anyone in particular, too—

“Kageyama, you look really tense.” Hinata tilts his head to the side. “If you’re about to yell at me for stealing the ice cream, I paid for this one. Money’s in the register.”

Kageyama thinks he should just ask him, but that itself feels like a loss, too.

“What’s...what’s…” he starts, anyway. 

What?” Hinata asks, mouth full of something green. Was it lime? Did Hinata like lime?

"What...time is it?" Kageyama stammers out in a sudden bout of cowardice, retreating from the original question. He's lost track of time more often than not lately in spending all his time with Hinata anyway, and the night has already made itself well-known for the two of them.

Hinata doesn't wear a watch, but he balances the popsicle in his mouth to dig his phone out of his pocket. "Eleven fifty-seven."

"Almost midnight," Kageyama remarks. "Shit," he says, eyes going wide, "almost midnight."

"Yeah, sho?" Hinata asks with his mouth still full.

He lets the popsicle drop right onto the ground when he realizes the time. Kageyama stumbles away from the window and back into the driver's seat, pressing the key into the ignition and letting the engine jump awake. Although Kageyama hates being called a speed demon, he has no choice but to be at this point, and lets himself rush down the road.

"Slow down, Kageyama! The cones are toppling over!"

"Like hell I will! We're already two hours late!"

"You're gonna get us killed!"

"We're both dead anyway!"

It's 12:08AM when the ice cream truck breaks down on the side of the road, by the riverside ravine. Kageyama pounds a fist into the steering wheel and lets the horn beep mercilessly and repeatedly tries starting up the car again and again. It makes a few sickly attempts at reviving itself before dying altogether, and at this Hinata decides to call the mechanic listed in the dashboard booklet and lets it ring on speakerphone.

"Hello, you have reached Kokoro Bakery! Tomorrow's morning special will be melon bread! Looking forward to serving you! Please press one to hear our store hours."

A sweet jingle rings after that, and it just the leaves Kageyama feeling more insulted than anything.

"Hang up. Call Ukai-sensei." 

"I tried that while you were driving like a madman. He picked up, but I think he's out drinking with Takeda-sensei, so—" 

"Are you telling me we could've slowed down? I didn't have to rush?" Kageyama can feel his temple throb. "I bet Ukai-sensei doesn't even know we're still out!" 

"Hey, I know you better than that, Kageyama. Once you get in that head of yours, it's hard to get you out!" Hinata frowns, pressing his boisterous hair down to imitate his setter's fringe. "Look at me, I'm speed demon Kageyama, who cares about traffic violations, first I'm gonna run pooor Hinata over and then I'm gonna break down the truck—"

"I really am going to run you over if you don't shut the hell up!" Kageyama howls at him and Hinata just lets his hair bounce back to normal. "For the last time I am not a speed demon, and honestly, what are we going to do now? We can't just leave the truck here."

Hinata knocks on the wall of their rolling metal death trap. "I guess...we should try pushing it back to the store." 

"That...might be worth a shot." 

"Okay! Let's try this."

The truck hardly budges.

Kageyama learns something else by the time it hits 12:25 AM and they've barely moved the truck ten meters down the dirt—that despite extensive training regimens and time spent conditioning, they will inevitably lose against a dormant ice cream truck with every trying push and shove. Huffing and puffing against the back of it, Kageyama wipes his sweat off the hem of his t-shirt, gives the car another stumbling kick, and crouches down on the street. Hinata keeps trying before he realizes he can't win every battle concerning size (it's not like this behemoth is any sort of two meter player this time) and slumps down next to Kageyama in strange, garbled growls. 

"We can just...leave it. I doubt anyone will try to steal an ice cream truck," Hinata says. 

"Yeah, and just how are you gonna get home, dumbass?" Kageyama asks, still surprised that Hinata's well-being is the first thing that comes to his mind. Hinata seems taken aback at the sentiment too, from the way he just stops to blink up at his setter like the entire world's stopped moving. 

"It's not that late," Hinata tells him, voice quieter than his usual drawls.

"I don't want a dead middle blocker on my hands. I don't trust the wild animals." Scowling at the line of trees in the distance, Kageyama still hasn't found peace with the critters that generally tend to avoid him; he used to think they disliked him, but now he's sure they're plotting, and he'd hate for Hinata to get mixed up in that.

"Well...what do you think we should do, then?" Hinata asks. 

Kageyama casts a glance over at the bed of grass below them and feels his cheeks burn.

"Sleep on the grass...and I'll...stay here too, I guess."

Hinata doesn't refuse him, like Kageyama expects him to. He just bursts into something stuttering, looking everywhere but Kageyama's line of vision, and just slowly comes to a small nod. 

"It's too hot for blankets, anyway. The grass will be nice. Just fine." Just fine, Kageyama says, to distract from his own nervousness. Just fine, despite the way his heart thumps from manual labor and all things Hinata Shouyou. He's not even sure Hinata feels it too, if he's reading the signals wrong, if his efforts at noticing are for naught. 

"Just fine," he repeats to himself, finding no reassurance in the words. Thinking at a billion miles a second, Kageyama gets up and heads down the slope of grass, hands sweaty in his khaki pockets, and feels Hinata follow after him.

"We'll just call Ukai, first thing in the morning," Kageyama grumbles, rubbing at weary eyes and breathing out any anxious sighs.

This shouldn't be different from the times he's slept next to Hinata at summer camps or cramped hotel rooms, but it is, because they're alone and for once, volleyball isn't whirring through the forefront of his mind. Kageyama watches Hinata settle close to him, not touching, but still close all the same, and realizes how little space they're actually taking up on the wide expanse. Hinata glances up, almost like he's expecting Kageyama to tell him to move, to chide him and say, 'make more space,' but no such thing happens. Kageyama swears he's never felt more uncomfortable in his life, but he won't move. Because he can deal with this. Kageyama just considers it another a daily challenge, a change in the game they usually play.

 

(Kageyama doesn't learn Hinata's favorite flavor tonight either, but he notices how long it actually takes the other boy to fall asleep. He is boundless excitement, quiet and fidgeting and staring up at the stars he'll be sure to reach at some point.)

 

 

x

 

"I guess our selling days are over, Kageyama," Hinata says in the mid-morning, watching their beleaguered friend tilt into the tow-truck's grasp, half-alive and certainly ailing. 

Kageyama nods, muscles still achy from sleeping in the rocks and dirt. "I guess so."

"We had a good run, didn't we?"

"You make it sound like we're never going to see each other again." Kageyama glares at him. "What am I, on a death sentence?"

"How do you just jump to death sentence like that? Dark." Hinata shakes his head in apparent shame, crossing his arms. "I'm just saying, we've been hanging out a lot lately. It was kinda cool." There goes Hinata's honesty again, always unexpected, always leaving Kageyama in the proverbial dust. Of all the things that have changed since their first lopsided match in middle school, Hinata's heart has never moved.

"Well, do you...not want to hang out for the rest of the break?" Kageyama counts just two days left in Golden Week.

"I didn't say that," Hinata shrugs. "I mean, do you want to?"

"I asked you first." 

"You sound five."

"Well, you're not answering the question, either." 

"Okay, how about this? We'll answer at the same time. On three."

"Sure." Kageyama shrugs to feign something less frantic, but he feels like he's at the starting line at a major race.

Hinata takes a deep breath. "One, two, three...

"Yes!" they both answer, both of them so loud and sure the crows below them fly up in a scared flutter. Hinata lets a smile spread across his face and Kageyama does too, a little more steady this time. Definitely not forced.

 

 

(For the rest of the day, Kageyama and Hinata decide to play a couple of practice sets with the other kids at Karasuno, hang out with the other alumni from their grade, and pay a visit to the truck at the mechanic's.)

 

(For the night though, Hinata suggests watching the fireworks, right on the riverbank, and Kageyama gets the sense that the rest of the world isn't invited.)

 

x

 

Wading his bare feet in the grass blades, Hinata gleams up at the fully-functioning ice cream truck behind him, realizes it just isn't the same, and goes back to picking at the weeds with Kageyama. A bunch of people have started assembling on the lawn for the post-sunset fireworks show, and the two of them have found themselves a nice little spot right by the water to take it in. For a day that started at midnight, pushing and prodding at their own ice cream truck, sleeping on a mattress of rocks and weeds, only to play volleyball all day until both their palms were sore, Kageyama feels oddly loose about things, like he's got someone telling him, 'you know, it's all gonna be okay,' that same invisible voice that calms him before his most serene of big-time matches.

'Ah. Maybe today is the day.'

"You know, that truck's got nothing on ours. Their jingle is ten thousand times more annoying

Kageyama frowns and listens more closely. "We have the same one, Hinata." 

"I know, but ours is just better somehow. It's one of those things you just can't explain, don't you think? When I think of the way our truck rolls up in the park, all jingles and jangles, I feel really proud for some reason. Like a pop in my chest." He pounds under his collarbones with a firm little fist, laughing at the end of it and staring ahead at the stream.

Kageyama steals a glance at him. "Yeah, I get that, I think."

They're in the middle of a comfortable silence when a couple cuts across them to find their seats for the show.

"You know, sun's just almost done setting. You think we should've eaten something before sitting down?"

"Nah, we should be fine. I just can't wait for show time."

"Hm." Kageyama looks over his shoulder, idea forming. "I'm gonna go get some ice cream from the truck. Want any?" 

Hinata pouts. "You're betraying the Karasuno ice cream truck?"

"Oh, shut it. I'm hungry." Kageyama casts something snide over Hinata, before softening. For the long day they've had, Kageyama can't believe he's forgotten to eat anything substantial, and frozen dessert might be a meager start to rectify this, but it's something. 

When he gets up, Hinata taps on his sneakers with the pads of his fingers.

"What, now?"

"What if you miss a part of the show?" The amount of real concern in Hinata's voice is unnerving, unwarranted, and fires up the already constant simmer at the pit of Kageyama's stomach.

'Shit.' 

"I won't." Kageyama scrunches up his face and takes a turn up at the hill without another word. Trudging up the hill, he opens and closes his fists over and over, realizes that he'll never be as calm as he thinks he is around Hinata, and comes to the line-less ice cream truck with the usual order in his head.

"Hi, what can I get you—" 

Kageyama blurts out milk bar before the driver can even ask him what he wants, and lets himself look back at Hinata's huddled form. For the growing they've both done since the beginning, Hinata will always be his little giant, not the first, the second, but his.

"Uh, hello?" Kageyama hears the crinkle of plastic wrapping, realizes he's neglecting his ice cream, and takes it into his shaking hands. He hands his money over when he thinks of Hinata again, sharing ice cream with him again, and spins to face the clerk again.

"Wait, can I get another one to go, too?" Kageyama asks. 

"Sure. What would you like?"

Kageyama smiles. The salesman grimaces at the gesture.

"Vanilla with blue sprinkles, please. In a waffle cone."

 

("Whenever I can't find a flavor I like, I just ask for a vanilla cone with sprinkles. Can't go wrong with that, right? You get the pop, a bwaah of color with all the great flavor!")

 

x

 

The fireworks come on in bursts of neon color, service aces made by bored summer gods. Hinata is entranced, predictably, because his town over the mountain pass is less inclined to have shows like this, and Kageyama is comfortable to take in the sight, too. He thinks about the last time his family took him to see the show (he must've been much younger, judging by the way the color illuminates his vision, too,) and how much has changed since then.

Half-melted vanilla cone still in his hands, Hinata points up and flashes a grin at Kageyama. His heart leaps in a way that fireworks could never, ever elicit. 

 

"You guessed my second favorite, Kageyama!" 

"Second?"

"Yeah, but you're getting closer. Do you just want me to tell you what it is?"

"No, let me keep guessing. I'll get it right one day."

"Alright, but I kinda hope that's soon."

“Why?" 

“Ah, no reason.”

 

Orange fills the sky next, leaping flares touching the edges of darkness and impressing fleeting light. Kageyama almost laughs, maybe he actually does, because it makes him think of their old uniforms, of Hinata's ball of mussed-up hair, of Hinata, a sure-fire sun, sitting right next to him, bodies so close they're almost touching, but not quite.

Under the noise, the emerging blooms of gold and blue and red, Kageyama calls after Hinata, three of the most frightening syllables he's ever, ever spoken, three of the same syllables he's been saying all along. 

"Hinata." When the name escapes Kageyama, the noise dissipates into a wheeze and the light falls out of the sky. It is a reprieve. It is time to tell Hinata Shouyou.

 

'Hinata! We have to keep practicing!'

'Hinata, come back here!'

'Hinata, we did it!'

 

Hinata flicks his gaze upward at him, still caught in reverie, a live firecracker softened into smolder. Kageyama almost loses all his resolve right then and there, because sometimes Hinata has a way of getting him to back down, just on looks alone, but he doesn't. Kageyama tells himself he's wasted too much time. He holds his breath before taking another one in, sure and deep and shaky, before letting go.

"I want to be with you, Hinata."

But as luck would have it, because Kageyama Tobio has had the same luck with errant soft serve machines, children, and ice cream trucks breaking down on the side of the road, his affections go unheard. Under the loudest crash of the evening, both of them stare on at each other, both muted, one mortified, and find each other without words.

 

(“Did you say something, Kageyama?”)

 

x

 

(Here comes the sun,
Here comes the sun,
and I say, It's all right)


One the last day of Golden Week break, Kageyama wakes up face-down in bed, blistered under closed eyes, grumbling, and still flushed in the face. The morning has arrived bright and clear, blue-skied and incessant, like Kageyama’s stumbled into some chirping version of what some might consider hell. He smacks himself on the side of the head a couple of times, eeks out a few more groans, and prepares himself to face the day, to muster the gall to even attempt telling Hinata again, but he finds nothing but static in his ears and a heavy weight on his back. 

Kageyama had chosen to tell Hinata at the precise timing of the show’s grand finale, as if that wasn’t enough indication of bad tidings. He wonders if that was his only chance at potentially perfect timing, his zero tempo as far as confessions were involved. An ‘I like you,’ under the fireworks. Yes, perfect, but impossibly so.

 

(Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter,
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here)

 

“Oh, shut up,” he tells himself, sinking his head further in the pillow. He knows there will be other chances, if he works at it. Kageyama just has a habit of taking things hard sometimes, and for this, he knows the only curative measure is getting more sleep. Or smacking a volleyball until his hand got numb, or running until he couldn’t feel his feet anymore, but running didn’t even really seem like an option this morning, because someone in the neighborhood has the audacity to play music at 7:13 in the morning, some English song Kageyama only understood a little and—

 

(Here comes the sun,
Here comes the sun,
and I say, It's all right)

 

“I’m gonna kill you," Kageyama mutters, half-smiling, when he sees a familiar ice cream truck parked outside the fence of his house, a familiar head of orange hair waving from the selling window. Kageyama can’t be sure, but he thinks Hinata is holding a milk bar of all things between his fingers, like that’s supposed to lure the setter out, but the spectacle of their truck is enough to send him out his pajamas and out the front gate, half-fuming, half-hoping, shoes barely on his frantic feet.

“Kageyama!” Hinata calls out, accidentally dropping his ice cream on the floor. He looks absolutely dazed, floating in mid-air, laughing even though none of this funny in the slightest. He stills himself, leaning out the window, and greets Kageyama with a more subdued wave of his hand.

“What the hell are you doing? Why are you driving the truck?” Kageyama asks, sure that driving without certifications is terribly illegal, if not dangerous.

“What?” Hinata frowns. “I have my license.”

Since when?” 

“Since...well, before you, actually. I’m older, remember? You baby.” Hinata teases.

 

(Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces,
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here)


Forgetting all of his morning aches, his half-dreamed regrets, Kageyama gets closer to Hinata by the window, realizes that their noses are almost touching, and decides not to care. “So you’re telling me,” he says, face still red, heart beating like he’s wasting through all the oxygen in his system, “that you’ve been making me drive the damn truck this entire time?” 

“What? It’s not like you ever complained about it.” Hinata laughs, unbothered. “Besides,” he says, “I have a good reason for coming here this morning, Kageyama.”

Kageyama lowers his defenses, lessens his frown into something less standoffish, and finds momentary peace. 

“Well, I wanted to tell you my favorite flavor," Hinata says a little more coyly, shrinking back away from the window, and at this, Kageyama almost reaches out to him to come back.

“What? No, I said I wanted to figure it out.” Kageyama tells him.

“Okay, then. Try and guess. I don’t think you’ll get it, though.” Hinata shrugs. “It’s only something I figured out recently. Something I should’ve figured out a looong time ago, and I was too chicken to say it yesterday.” He kind of laughs at this.

Milk? Do you like milk, too?” Kageyama asks, wide-eyed.

“No, that’s your thing. Next." 

“Orange?” 

“Blech.” Hinata sticks his tongue out.

“Cherry?”

“No.”

Chocolate?

“Well, that’s my fourth favorite, but—”

“I give up, Hinata,” Kageyama breathes out, shaking his head. “I really, really don’t know.” 

“Okay, I’ll tell you, then. But do you even know why this is so important?” 

Kageyama shakes his head.

“Because I realized, I want to be able to have this flavor all the time, especially when we go back to the city. Because, well, it’s my favorite. Do you understand yet?”

“No.”

Hinata sighs. “You really don’t?” 

“I don’t.”

“You’re my favorite, Kageyama.” Hinata smiles brighter than Kageyama’s ever, ever seen, shoulders raised in something shy, but sincere. In the next instance, his face goes cherry pop red, like he’s never going to let this down, shrinking away like he thinks he’s been the one to confess first, but Kageyama only wants Hinata closer despite it all. Reaching up at the selling window, Kageyama’s zero tempo takes over, conspiring for that perfect moment he couldn’t have yesterday, and lets him kiss Hinata first, right on the lips with something smiling of his own; and when they separate, Kageyama’s still smiling, and Hinata looks like he’s on the verge of tears, happy and a simultaneous mix of bashful.

(Here comes the sun,
Here comes the sun,
and I say, It's all right)
 

Kageyama just kisses him again. 

“You’re my favorite too, Hinata.”