Hinata’s ringtone was a welcome distraction from his paper. As much as he wished he could say otherwise, the past three hours had seen much more disgruntled muttering than actual progress.
Unknown Number, his screen announced. Huh, he thought eloquently, quickly thumbing through the memories of the past few days as he picked it up.
Maybe it was that cute girl at the bar over the weekend? They’d chatted it up like anything, but Hinata couldn’t remember if he’d given her his number or not...besides, wouldn’t she have called back sooner?
Whatever, he thought, swiping to accept the call. Any distraction, at this point, was a welcome one.
“Hello!” he said cheerily, leaning back and swinging his legs up to rest on the table. He accidentally jostled the small potted plant and scrambled up to catch it before it shattered on the floor.
“Yes, yes, sorry! I’m here! I almost just dropped my plant, haha!”
He sat back down with a sigh, eyeing his plant warily. The person on the other end of the call - a man, if the deep, grumbly voice was anything to go by - hesitated before speaking again.
“Hello. How are you.”
Hinata snorted a bit at the utter unenthusiasm lacing the greeting. “I’m great, thank you! How are you?”
“I...I’m good. Thanks. Good.”
Hinata tilted his head and stared at the wall curiously. “Yes...good.”
Who was this, again? He didn’t recognize the voice, or maybe he just didn’t remember. Oh, shit, was he supposed to remember who this is?
Before he could frantically voice his concerns, the caller said very matter-of-factly, “Good. I’m calling you because your IP address has been compromised. I’ll just need you to get in front of your computer so we can get your account fixed up.”
And Hinata stilled.
...this. This man. With the deep, rich voice. Was a scam caller. Hinata was being scammed.
He sighed deeply. He’d just been about to develop a crush on his voice, too, dammit.
Also, how dumb did this guy think he was? What the heck? Hinata was a very renowned scholar, thank you very much. Mr. Scam Guy was gonna have to try much harder to trip him up.
Well. Okay, then.
“Okay!” he said cheerily, gearing up for some fun. Man, this was turning out to be an even better distraction than he ever could have hoped for. “There is one thing I’m wondering, though.”
“What?” Mr. Scam Guy said. He sounded slightly put out. Hinata guessed that most of the time, his victims became too panicked and frazzled to happily ask him questions.
Hinata smirked. “You really couldn’t think of a better lie?”
Whatever soft rustling was coming through from the other end stopped abruptly. Hinata must have dumbfounded him. He internally cheered and kept talking.
“Like, ‘my IP address has been compromised’. How, exactly, does an IP address become ‘compromised’?”
Mr. Scam Guy did not speak. Hinata pulled his phone away from his face to make sure the guy was still actually there.
He was. He was just silent, scowling at his laptop, probably. Or maybe he was weeping quietly, bemoaning the demise of his carefully (shoddily, in Hinata’s opinion) constructed web of lies.
“I was just wondering, is all,” Hinata said happily, knowing full well that he was sporting an absolutely shit-eating grin.
“Why did you answer?” Oh shit, he sounded pissed.
Hinata sat there, utterly confused. Why did he answer? That’s...that’s what you do when someone calls you, isn’t it?
Mr. Scam Guy grumbled, “If you knew this wasn’t a legitimate call, then why did you answer?”
Oh. Well, he hadn’t known it wasn’t a legitimate call, is the thing, but he wasn’t about to let this guy know that. It would ruin his reputation as the Super Cool Too Smart To Be Scammed Guy! So he said breezily, “Oh, I just thought I’d have some fun at your expense.”
Well, that wasn’t entirely a lie! And unlike Mr. Scam Guy, Hinata disliked lies, tried to avoid them, and certainly did not build his whole career upon them.
The scam caller sighed a little, and Hinata was sure he was rolling his eyes. “What expense?” he said. “Talking is no expense to me.”
It wasn’t? Huh. This guy must have a really good phone plan. Hinata supposed that made sense, given that he probably spent hours each day calling and extorting hapless old grandmothers.
His stomach gave a little lurch at the thought. What kind of monster was he on the phone with? What kind of person would willingly extort hapless old grandmothers?
“Well,” Hinata said tartly, “you’re currently not accomplishing your goal.”
And he had the audacity to sound genuinely confused! Hinata’s jaw dropped.
“Your goal of scamming my elderly grandmother,” Hinata said, his voice laced with duh. “You’re not accomplishing that. I’d call that an expense.”
Mr. Scam Guy seemed to realize that Hinata was making sense. “Oh,” he muttered, sounding like he was gathering his thoughts. “Well, can I scam you?”
Hinata’s jaw, the poor thing, dropped once again, and quite violently this time. He replayed what the guy just said, the words processing once, twice, and then he wheezed.
“Did you- did you just ask if you can scam me?”
His potted plant, if it had a face, would probably look just as baffled as he currently felt.
“Yes,” Mr. Scam Guy said, very seriously. “Can I scam you?”
“Sure, you can try,” he said, wondering once again who the hell he was on the phone with. What kind of scam caller-
“You need to get in front of your computer.”
Hinata snorted. Straight to the point, this one.
He already was in front of his computer, his neglected paper sitting sadly on the screen and practically begging him to work on it. He huffed and looked pointedly away from it, his eyes landing on the kitchen at the other end of his apartment.
Ah, food! The perfect excuse.
Looking at the bag of tater tots he’d left on the counter, he said, “Yeah, that’s still a problem. I’m eating tater tots right now and I really don’t feel like getting up.”
The guy sighed again, his web of lies falling from the ceiling and entangling him in its sad, sticky mess. Hinata grinned gleefully at the vision.
“Okay. I will call you tomorrow morning, then.”
...what the fuck.
“I- okay? I might not answer. My grandma definitely won’t.”
“You answered today,” he said. Hinata’s face dropped.
“Touché,” he grumbled, picking irritably at the lint of his sweatpants. Dammit, he had him there.
“I will call you tomorrow,” the scam caller said, as if confirming plans for a lunch meetup. “Have a good day.”
He hung up before Hinata could reply. He was left holding his phone up to his ear, listening to the silence and wondering for perhaps the tenth time, what the fuck?
As promised, Mr. Scam Guy called the next morning. At 10 AM sharp, Hinata’s phone rang, pulling him from his exhausted sleep. He’d been up for hours chipping away at that paper. By the time he finally decided to call it a day, his eyes had been throbbing, but he’d also made it 2000 words closer to the end.
Unknown Number, his screen announced. Huh, he thought eloquently.
“Hello?” he said, and then split his jaw with a yawn.
The caller didn’t speak for a moment. When he did, he sounded hesitant. “...hello? Is this the same person I called yesterday?”
Hinata rubbed at his eyes with his free hand, sitting up. He could feel his hair swaying slightly, sticking up in its terrible bedheaded glory. “Yeah, it’s me. Hi, Mr. Scam Guy.”
“You sound disappointed.”
“You sound different.”
Hinata resisted the urge to roll his eyes. “I just woke up, Mr. Scam Guy. Give me a few minutes to defrost.”
Silence stretched across the line, comfortable for Hinata as he blinked the sleep slowly out of his eyes, but probably terribly awkward for the scammer. The guy could be heard shuffling a bit as he waited for Hinata to speak again.
“So, you’re gonna scam me again?”
Mr. Scam Guy replied with relief evident in his words. “Yes. I need you to get in front of your computer.”
Hinata was still too sleepy to smartmouth him. He hummed (groaned, more like) as he rolled out of bed and stumbled towards the desk he’d just left a couple of hours ago.
“Okay, I’m at my computer,” he said when he sat down. “Now what?”
“You’re much more subdued today,” the caller replied. “Are you sure you’re the same guy?”
Hinata sighed. “Are you gonna scam me or not?”
“No, actually. You sound really out of it. I’d feel too guilty.”
Indignation flared up in him. He scowled at his plant, the poor thing. It seemed to wilt a little under his fiery gaze.
“I woke up just so that you can scam me, so you better get to it,” he huffed. He could almost feel the guy roll his eyes at him. “And besides,” he continued, “what the heck do you mean guilty? You are aware of what your job is, right?”
The man huffs. “I have a conscience, idiot. Those who allow themselves to get scammed deserved it, if they fell for it.”
Hinata’s jaw dropped. It seemed to be doing that a lot, whenever this guy got involved.
“Wow, you’re an asshole,” he observed. “Okay, then, don’t scam me. But, uh, can you look over my paper for me?”
Hinata paused, just now registering how weird his request was. He scrambled to explain himself, accidentally blabbering in the process.
“Oh, uh, I was working on a paper for one of my classes last night and I was up really late so I don’t know if it really makes sense but like, it still needs to be good so once I finish it can you read it over for me and see if it’s alright?”
That. That was a lot of words. He suddenly fervently wished for a black hole to swallow him up. Or, like, for his phone to die.
Mr. Scam Guy was silent, as to be expected when the person you attempted to extort money from is now asking you to review his academic work. “Uh. Are you sure.”
Hinata swallowed. No. “Yep! Please? O- only if it isn’t a bother to you!”
“What’s it about?”
“Oh, uh, the exhumation and reburial of King Richard III of England.”
Hinata smiled. So Mr. Scam Guy wasn’t a history person, then. “Old English king.”
“Ah. Uh, I’m not really a history person...or an academic person at all. But I can try.”
His smile shifted into a beam. “Really? Thanks! It’s only about 8000 words, so it shouldn’t take all that long. I don’t really need you to edit it, just make sure it makes sense from an outside perspective.”
He seemed to be having trouble breathing. “Only 8000 words?” he wheezed. “And how long did it take you to write this?”
Hinata tapped his chin and leaned back, much the same way he did yesterday. “Let’s see, I started it last night and I think I spent about 10 hours on it?”
Mr. Scam Guy wheezed again.
“But I’ve still got another 1000 words or so left to do,” Hinata continued casually, as if busting out 1000 words of a research paper was no big deal.
“Jesus Christ,” the scammer breathed out, the noise rushing into the microphone and directly into the centre of Hinata’s brain, it felt like. He winced slightly. “Yeah, sure, I’ll read it for you.”
“Thanks! Can I have your email so I can send it to you?”
Hinata paused, his phone sandwiched uncomfortably between his cheek and his shoulder and his fingers poised and ready over the keyboard. “Yeah?”
“Uh, my email has my name.”
“Yeah, so does my paper. On every page of it. MLA formatting, baby.”
“God, I haven’t had to think about MLA for so long. Okay, fine, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. No underscores or anything.”
Hinata tapped it in and hit ‘share’, mulling over the name. Tobio, huh. It almost sounded too delicate for the guy. Too...nice. But maybe he was just being mean and judgy.
“Okay, I sent it.”
A pause, and then: “Got it. Jesus, that’s a lot of words.”
Hinata laughed. “Yeah, this guy did a lot of shit in his life. Went through a lot, too. It only makes sense that his death would be just as tumultuous.”
“Big words, Hinata Shouyou.”
He ignored the slight thrill that rushed up his spine at the sound of his name in the scammer’s deep voice. “Of course, K. Tobio. I am a scholar, after all.”
And there went all of Hinata’s breath. God, the Tobio was kind of cute but the Kageyama just made it sound sexy. Fuck. A sexy name for a sexy voice. If Mr. Scam Guy ended up having a sexy face, too, Hinata would start a riot.
“Okay, Mr. Scam Guy-”
“-I’ve got a class in 45 minutes so I need to get myself ready. Thanks again for agreeing to this! And, uh. Not scamming me. That’s also pretty great.”
Mr. Scam Guy - Kageyama Tobio - chuckled. “Yeah, you got a pretty good deal out of this, huh.”
Hinata smiled shyly, and then berated himself for acting like a lovestruck fool. “Yep!” he yelled much too loudly, trying to scrap together his dignity, if only for himself.
“Bye,” Kageyama said, no fanfare and no-frills. He hung up, and Hinata was left standing at his desk with a huge chunk of Times New Roman staring at him, and a little blue and yellow icon of a volleyball on the top of the document.
“Shit,” he breathed out. “I’ve got a crush on this bastard’s voice.”
He managed to hold in his scream of agony until he’d stuffed his face back into his pillow. And bless his heart, Yamaguchi didn’t bother asking him why he ran into the lecture seven minutes late looking like he’d dropped his brain off somewhere in rural Nevada.
He returned home that afternoon and sat at his desk breathlessly, opening up his laptop to see if Kageyama had gone through his paper yet. A part of him acknowledged that being this excited to see if a scam caller he’d had a grand total of two conversations with had edited his homework was, quite frankly, weird, but a larger part of him was way too excited to see if a scam caller he’d had a grand total of two conversations with had edited his homework to care.
He had. Littered across the document were words and phrases highlighted in yellow, leading to a whole assortment of comments left by his new editor. He clicked the first one, holding his breath and then letting it out in a laugh.
wow u weren’t kidding when u said he was a dick
“I sure wasn’t!” he replied out loud, scrolling down to see the next one. Hardly any of the comments seemed to be actual constructive criticism. It seemed like Kageyama had just made his way through the essay and left his reactions in the comments for Hinata to find later.
The last word of the essay had a comment on it, too. Hinata clicked it and read, that was p good, i’m impressed that u managed to get me interested in history. i’ll make grammar edits n stuff after u finish the essay
Embarrassingly, Hinata squealed.
Three days later, he found himself sprawled on his bed with his laptop quietly humming in front of him and his shoulders bunched up uncomfortably around his ears. His eyes were blurring slightly with the effort to keep them open, but he was almost there, he knew it. Just one last look-through…
He groaned and stretched out, almost knocking the computer to the floor. “Fuck it,” he announced, picking up his phone and scrolling through the recent calls. Mr. Scam Guy’s number sat waiting in black and white. Hinata sat staring at it in...apprehension? Excitement? Bone-deep tiredness?
“Fuck it,” he said again, and called Kageyama.
Midway through the second ring, he picked up. Hinata kicked his feet back into the pillows and smiled tiredly.
“Hello?” Kageyama said. There was the sound of something sizzling in the background.
“Hi,” Hinata said. Then he yawned.
“What do you want.”
“Sleep, mostly, but also, I finished that paper so can you look over it again? Later, though, you sound like you’re busy right now.”
“I- what? How do you know I’m busy? Are you watching me? Is this a FaceTime call?”
Hinata groaned, resisting the urge to smash his face into the blanket solely because he had his glasses on right now and didn’t feel like smudging them. “No, Bakayama, I can hear shit sizzling so I’m assuming you’re cooking something.”
He rolled his eyes. “Yeah. Oh.”
“Don’t call me Bakayama.” The sound of the stovetop turning off filtered across the line.
“Okay, Mr. Scam Guy.”
“Don’t call me Mr. Scam Guy.”
Kageyama sighed deeply. “Stupid. Wait, let me just move this into a bowl and I’ll look at your stupid paper.”
Even though he knew it didn’t mean anything, the jab at his paper had him flaring up. “Oi! I shed my blood, sweat, and tears for this paper! Don’t call it stupid, stupid!”
Silence. Well, not exactly. He could hear chopsticks clinking and the quiet slide of food from pot to plate. He scowled at his laptop, waiting.
“Sorry,” Kageyama said a few moments later. “It’s not stupid, you are.”
Hinata humphed. “Just edit the paper, please.”
“I’ll thank you after you actually do it.”
He’d bet money that Kageyama rolled his eyes at that. Another few seconds passed, and that volleyball icon was back on the document.
“Shit, there’re even more words now.”
Hinata chuckled mirthlessly. He rolled over onto his back and closed the laptop and his eyes, still holding the phone to his ear. “Yeah. I’ll come back onto it after you’re done, okay? Just gonna...rest my eyes for a bit.”
“Thanks for this, by the way.”
Kageyama didn’t reply, but Hinata could hear him alternately picking up food with his chopsticks and typing things. He kept his eyes closed and let himself relax, falling into a nap before he realized it.
“Hey...hey, you there? Hinata...dumbass, wake up.”
Hinata blinked awake, life coming back to him in small bits. The awkward squish of his nose into his duvet. The absolute frigidity of the backs of his legs. The screensaver on his laptop and his phone inches away from his face.
He squinted at it and rolled over onto his back. “Kageyama?”
“Yeah, hi. I finished reading it over.”
He paused, as if mulling over what to say next. Hinata stifled a yawn and reached over to turn his laptop back on. “And?”
Kageyama huffed quietly, the traces of a smile just barely evident in the edges of it. “It was really good. You weren’t kidding about being a ‘very renowned scholar’, were you?”
Hinata blushed slightly at the praise, scrolling slowly down the document and letting his eyes drift over the innumerable comments and suggestions Kageyama had left in his wake. “Eh, I’m moderately well-known,” he said, reading through the grammar suggestions. The bottom half of the essay was rife with them- no surprise there, he’d basically been on a different astral plane while writing that. He began accepting them languidly, eyes half-closed. “History circles around here aren’t too big, so being well-known here isn’t that big of a deal.”
“Oh, don’t sell yourself short. I just willingly read through 10,000 words on some dead British guy, and enjoyed it. That’s talent, Hinata, to get someone to do that.”
By now, Hinata’s face had ruddied considerably. He shoved his fist to his mouth, desperate not to let his flustered giggles out. Kageyama’s cursor blinked up to the top of the document. Hinata followed it, not knowing what else he could do.
Talk, he supposed. He didn’t want this to end.
“So, Mr. Scam Guy-”
“-what do you do when you’re not extorting honest people out of their hard-earned cash?”
The man scoffed, deep voice rumbling across cyberspace. “Glad to know you think so highly of me.”
“No, dumbass, it isn’t.” Hinata would be worried about the fate of this conversation if he couldn’t hear Kageyama’s obvious smile. “I’m an athletic trainer. I work for the men’s volleyball team.”
“Oh! That’s cool! Which team is it? A university one?”
He closed the tab and shut his laptop, deciding that the paper could wait. A quick glance at the clock told him it was 10:42 PM.
“The national team.”
Hinata’s inhale got stuck somewhere between his throat and lungs. He hacked it out in a cough, eyes wide and unbelieving. “You- you coach the national team?”
“I’m not a coach, I’m a-”
“Holy shit! That’s so cool!”
He’d leapt up and started prancing around the room, grabbing small items at random and setting them back down again. Mr. Scam Guy! Was someone sporty and famous! Someone super talented!
Mr. Scam Guy was someone sporty, famous, and super talented.
...why, exactly, was he a Mr. Scam Guy then?
“I started it in university for the extra cash and never really dropped it. It’s helpful to have a second source of income,” he explained a few minutes later, once Hinata had calmed down enough to stop dodging the question and just ask him outright. “Being an athletic trainer doesn’t actually pay that much either, even for the national team.”
“Oh,” he said, shifting slightly to get more comfortable. He’d ended up on the ground, leaning back against the leg of his desk. His fingers fiddled with the cords of his laptop charger and desk lamp and whatever else he’d plugged in around his desk. There really was too much stuff here. It could get dangerous. “That makes two of us, I guess. Historians don’t exactly roll in cash.”
“Why’d you choose history?”
Hinata smiled, stretching himself out. This, he could talk about for hours. The leaves of his plant cast shadows on the rug.
“Do you want the long explanation or the short one?” he asked, smirking.
“Short one, please, it’s pretty late already. Though, I’d love to hear the long one sometime...face to face, maybe?”
He froze, feeling the smile drop off his face in favour of his heart rate kicking up three gears. Oh, boy, here comes the blush again. Thank goodness this wasn’t a FaceTime call.
Oh my God, he wanted it to be a FaceTime call, though. But like, not a call. Just Face. Kageyama wanted that.
Kageyama wanted that too. It wasn’t just Hinata.
He could absolutely squeal right about now.
“Oh, yes, sorry, I’m here! Yes! Hello.”
Hinata sat there, legs sticking out straight in front of him and left hand trembling in his lap. He instructed himself to breathe in. And out. And in. And out. Slowly.
Did he actually want to meet Kageyama face-to-face? Did he want to learn the face behind the voice? Did he want Kageyama to know what he looked like?
He poked at his toes, listening to the nervous silence on the line. Kageyama seemed to be holding his breath, which was fine and all, except it’d been almost a full minute already and one of them should better say something before he passed out.
Fuck yeah, he wants to meet Kageyama face-to-face. Maybe even kiss that face, if he’d let him.
He sucked in a breath. “Yes. Oh gosh, yes.”
Kageyama finally exhaled in a great whoosh of relief. “Great. Yes. Good.”
Hinata beamed. “Fantastic, even.”
“Yeah! Fantastic! Wonderful, you could say.”
He let himself laugh out loud, the giddiness spreading through him like champagne bubbles, warm and bright. “Where do you wanna meet? And when? I know this really nice cafe near 47th and Willow, it’s called Quartermaine? We could go there for lunch tomorrow?”
He could almost see Kageyama’s bright grin. It should have clashed with the smooth deepness of his voice, but they went together like dark chocolate and oranges. “Sure thing. I’ll meet you there at around 2 PM?”
Hinata gripped his big toe, feeling like he could explode. “Yeah!”
“Oh God, oh God, oh God, this was such a bad idea, oh God, oh hell, oh fuck, oh-”
His phone vibrated in his hand, shocking him so badly that he was yanked right out of his spiral into oblivion. He stared at it like it was a nuclear button, glowing bright and ominous. Kageyama, it announced. almost there! it proclaimed.
I’m going to puke, Hinata wanted to declare.
see you soon!!! :D is what he sent instead. Oh no, was that too many exclamation points? Dammit, he’d already seen the message though, he couldn’t unsend it now.
Hinata forced himself to look up from his phone and watch the street instead. It was a gorgeous day, bright and sunny but still cold enough for him to wear that new jacket he’d gotten a week ago. Yachi said it complemented his eyes. He sure hoped so.
Couples and friend groups strolled by, laughing and enjoying food. He wondered what Kageyama looked like. Recognizing each other wouldn’t be a problem, Hinata had stated exactly where he was, but still, what if there was a mixup anyway? What if-
“Excuse me, are you Hinata Shouyou?”
He froze. That voice.
Robotically, he turned to face the man standing to his right. But- does Kageyama not have a face? Why is a chest filling the entirety of Hinata’s vision?
Slowly, he craned his neck.
Oh. He’s tall. And he’s so handsome.
The scam caller smiled, the tiny crescent shape threatening to light up his entire (chiselled-by-the-gods) face. Blue, blue eyes were fixed directly on him.
“Hey,” he said.
Hinata thought, I might just pass out right here and now.
Instead, miraculously, he managed to extend his hand and beam at him. “Let’s go in! It’s cold out here.”
Kageyama’s larger hand was very soft and very warm in his. His smile as he held open the door for Hinata made him feel like he’d just made a series of wonderful decisions.