"You're not going to need that." Tsukishima shrugs at the deflated inner tube falling out of Hinata's bag.
"But we're at the beach." Hinata pushes his swim goggles up onto the top of his head. They slide back down his forehead.
"It's March," Yamaguchi says. "It's too cold to go in the water. Anyhow, it's raining." He consults his phone, wiping drops of water from the screen. "It's this building here."
"It will be bracing!" Hinata pushes the goggles up again. "Come on, we're swimming, right, Kageyama?"
Kageyama looks out over the ocean. The water is grey and rough, slapping at the shore, foaming up like acid. He shifts his pack on his back.
"We're here to train," Tsukishima says. "Or whatever."
Hinata grabs Kageyama's arm, just below the elbow. "You want to swim, right?"
Kageyama looks down at Hinata's hand, the fingers pale against his dark fleece. Then he pulls his arm away. "No," he says.
Hinata drops his pile of stuff in the middle of the room. "It will be dark soon, right? I couldn't get any fireworks but maybe they sell them here." The goggles slip again and Hinata yanks them down around his neck.
Tsukishima shoves past Kageyama from behind. "You're blocking the doorway."
"Asshole." Kageyama pushes Hinata's luggage into a corner and sets his bag in front of it. He sits down with his back against the wall. "The room is pretty small."
"It's only one night," Yamaguchi says. "Without the discount from Yachi-san's relative, we wouldn't have been able to come at all."
"How about a bonfire?" Hinata pulls a sweatshirt over his head and his hair haloes out with static.
"It's still raining." Yamaguchi draws aside the curtain and looks out into the twilight. "We could look at the recruitment strategy Yachi-san planned for us."
Tsukishima empties a shopping bag of snacks out onto the floor. "For all my little team mates."
"Wow!" Hinata grabs a package of shrimp crackers and sits down next to Kageyama. His hair waves out behind him, clinging to the wall. He tears open the bag and offers it, leaning in against Kageyama's arm.
Kageyama shakes his head.
Kageyama wakes up. The room is dark and stuffy and for a few moments, he's not sure where he is. His blanket is tangled around his legs and his heart is speeding like he's been running in a dream.
A chip bag crinkles near his head. Hinata snuffles and his back bumps against Kageyama's. Kageyama can feel Hinata's shoulder blades when they both inhale. Hinata shifts, and their backs press together, tight and nearly unbearably warm in the stifling room.
Kageyama takes shallow breaths, holds himself rigid, as still as he can. The rain drums against the roof and smacks against the windowpane. There's a flash of light, but it's inside the room, somebody's phone. A shape, Yamaguchi, stumbling to the bathroom.
Hinata snorts, like he's laughing, and rolls away.
Kageyama gets up and opens the window.
"It's just a drizzle," Yamaguchi says. "It will let up soon."
"What are we doing first?" Hinata shovels his breakfast into his mouth.
Tsukishima spreads his hands and turns to Yamaguchi. "Vice-captain?"
Yamaguchi consults his phone. "We're running."
"Why do you make him do all the work?" Kageyama rubs his eyes. They're full of sand and he hasn't even been to the beach yet. "Why are you even captain?"
"I'm a figurehead," Tsukishima says. "Long legs and a pretty face."
"Running in sand will build stamina," Yamaguchi says. "But maybe we should stay in for the morning. We don't want to get sick. We can talk about the roster." He flips open a notebook. "I know of three first-years from good schools that will be joining."
The table shakes as Hinata squirms in his chair. "I want to run." His knee bumps Kageyama's under the table.
"We're going running," Kageyama says.
They start off at an easy pace but Hinata speeds up and Kageyama follows him. Yamaguchi keeps up for a while, then drops back.
"Babysitting the figurehead," Hinata says and accelerates again.
Pushing off from sand is tiring and Kageyama can feel it in his shins. Damp seeps through the sides of his shoes. Rain flecks his face. The beach is nearly deserted, more gulls than people.
Hinata shoots him a grin and points to the foam-topped water. "It's not so bad. We should go wading."
"You'll get swept under by a wave."
"Those aren't waves."
The clouds open up and the rain becomes a downpour, beating on the sand, stinging Kageyama's skin like hail.
They sprint for a building down the beach. A shelter, roof and back, open at the sides. There's a bench, but Kageyama stands beside it. They're soaked, Kageyama is cold and clammy, and he pushes his sopping hair out of his eyes.
"I can hardly see the water." Hinata jumps up onto the bench.
All Kageyama can see is water, turning the air into a haze, sluicing off the roof of the shelter in sheets. He pulls his shirt away from his body but when he lets it go, it sticks to him again.
"Your hair has a funny bump in it." Hinata puts his hand on the top of Kageyama's head. "I never noticed it before."
It's a light touch, but Hinata leaves his hand there and Kageyama feels it growing heavier and heavier, pushing him down into the sand.
"You should have been captain." Hinata's fingers flex, like Kageyama's skull is a ball he's trying to pick up one-handed. "You're not a figurehead."
"Like I'd want to do all that work."
"Yeah, your job is supporting me." Hinata takes his hand away and for a moment, Kageyama can still feel it there, warm and strong. Then Hinata jumps onto his back.
Kageyama staggers. Hinata's arms go around his shoulders, his legs wrap around Kageyama's waist. Kageyama gets his arms up underneath Hinata's thighs, takes a step to right himself. Hinata's breath blows hot against his neck. When Kageyama breathes, Hinata's chest presses up against his back.
"Don't fucking nap up there." Kageyama hitches Hinata up a little and stares out at the dark sand.
"It's our last year." Hinata tightens his arms. He rests his head against Kageyama's head, his wet hair dripping into Kageyama's ear. "We have to win."
"It won't be my fault if we don't." Kageyama turns his head, just a bit, his temple sliding under Hinata's cheek. He shivers once, a spasm through his whole body, and blinks as water from his hair runs into his eyes.
"Are you cold?" Hinata asks.
"No," Kageyama says and dumps him onto the sand.
"Asshole." Hinata jumps to his feet. His face flushes. "Why are you always--" He balls his hands to fists.
Kageyama's gut twists and he settles his stance in case. But Hinata just pushes past him and runs out into the rain.
"What about the training schedules this afternoon?" Yamaguchi pushes away his empty plate. "We should have the first month ready at least."
"I saw a beach volleyball court." Hinata's hands are wrapped around his glass, he's staring at the empty bottom. "It's not raining so hard now."
"It's not raining at all in the arcade," Tsukishima says.
Kageyama looks out the window, between the drops collecting on the pane. A gull drags a wadded food wrapper along the sand, tries to shake it open.
Tsukishima shrugs. "Vice-captain, get a ball from the front desk."
Yamaguchi looks down at his clipboard. Hinata hooks an arm around his neck. "It's training!"
Kageyama shoves his chair back. His glass tips over and water splashes onto the table.
Tsukishima grabs a napkin. "I just got dry."
"Let's play," Kageyama says.
"You can't divide us up like this." Hinata glares through the net at Tsukishima. And Kageyama. A fat raindrop hits the side of his face and for a second, it looks like he's crying.
"Oh, I forgot," Tsukishima says. "Athletic competitions are always balanced to be completely fair."
"Of course we're going to beat you," Hinata says. "Right, Yamaguchi?"
"Um." Yamaguchi looks down at the ball in his hands.
"But--" Hinata's eyes meet Kageyama's, that intense stare that makes opponents flinch.
"It's what you always wanted, right?" Kageyama turns his back to the net. "I'll crush you."
"Our serve." Tsukishima targets Yamaguchi and Hinata stares at the ball coming his way off the receive, like he's never seen it before.
"You should at least know a basic toss by now," Kageyama calls and Hinata fumbles the ball into the air.
Yamaguchi tips it over but Tsukishima doesn't even have to dig for it. He passes it, Kageyama sets it, Tsukishima spikes it. The next two points are just the same.
"There's no rotation in beach volleyball, idiots," Kageyama yells. "You can stand where you want." But even when Hinata is receiving, he's clumsy. When he spikes, he's floundering, graceless, like a fish slapping in the bottom of a boat, his face twisting and his eyes growing dark.
"Too easy," Tsukishima says, after the first set. "Kageyama, you can be the vice-figurehead."
"Tsukki!" Yamaguchi calls.
"Don't worry," Tsukishima says. "You still get to do all the work."
Hinata is standing by the net, two steps away from Kageyama, hands clenched at his sides, damp hair straggling on his forehead. Goosebumps prick up on his arms.
Kageyama holds out the ball. But Hinata reaches out and grabs Kageyama's wrist. His fingers are cold as ice against Kageyama's skin and just as hard. "We're switching," he says, and yanks Kageyama under the net.
Kageyama looks past Hinata, out to the tide pools filling up with rain, to the ocean licking at the shore. The cold from Hinata's fingers spreads up his arm, down to his fingertips. He wrenches his hand away. "I'll serve."
Tsukishima can't touch the first ball, but Yamaguchi gets an arm under the second serve and sends it back. Hinata bumps and Kageyama sets it to him, like he's done a hundred thousand times before.
Hinata barely gets his hand on it and Tsukishima slaps it down. "Concentrate," Kageyama yells. But he can feel it in his hands, the toss was wrong. So is the next one.
The ball is larger, softer than he's used to. But it's not the ball, it's not the rain in his eyes. He tosses again and Hinata misses entirely.
Hinata whirls and darts and shoves Kageyama down onto the sand before he can even take a step to brace himself. "What's the matter with you?" Hinata kicks the ball, he kicks the sand, and he runs, stumbling, away.
Kageyama finds Hinata far down the beach, by the shelter, standing just where the water is rolling in. His hands are in the pocket of his hoodie and he's staring down at the foam that swirls around his feet.
Kageyama's chest squeezes, his stomach clenches. "What's wrong with you?" he yells.
"What's wrong with you?" Hinata scoops up a stone from the sand and hurls it into the water.
"Nothing!" Kageyama's hands itch, he wants to take Hinata's shoulders, he wants to shake him and shake him.
Hinata throws another stone. "Why don't you want to play with me?"
"I--" Kageyama's guts burn, his vision narrows. "Shit!" he yells, so loudly it hurts his throat. And he runs straight into the ocean.
His shoes fill with water and the sea drags at every step. By the time it's up to his knees, he's walking, doggedly, shaking with the cold and the frustration.
"What are you doing?" Hinata calls.
Kageyama wonders if another stone is coming, straight for the back of his head. "I don't know!" He's up to his thighs now, the swell of the waves rocking him, the rain falling all around him. "I don't fucking know!"
There's a splash behind him and he turns. Hinata is wading toward him, arms held out as he pushes against the water, face red and glaring.
"No." Hinata is up to his waist, the waves lapping higher. "Not until you tell me."
Kageyama's heart thuds in his chest, in his head, in his eyes and ears and hands. Hinata is still advancing, floundering, scowling. A wave slaps Kageyama's back, smacks into Hinata's chest. "Just stop!" Kageyama holds out his arms, like he can fend Hinata off. "You're going to drown."
The look on Hinata's face slices Kageyama, cuts him nearly into two. And it cuts something free inside of him.
He staggers forward, grabs Hinata by the shoulders, yells in his face. "I like you, okay?" He shakes Hinata, shakes him and shakes him. "I fucking like you."
Hinata wrenches free. He stares at Kageyama, his mouth hanging open, his face shining with the rain. Then he surges from the water, a bright fish leaping through the air, and knocks Kageyama backwards.
They plunge into the sea, Hinata's weight driving Kageyama under the water, they clutch and roll, and break the surface, gasping.
And then they're kissing. Hinata's legs are wrapped around Kageyama's waist, his chest tight against Kageyama's ribs, his arms nearly choking around Kageyama's neck. Kageyama can hardly feel his arms and legs, his skin is burning with the cold, but Hinata's mouth is warm and, deep inside, Kageyama is warm too.
"Okay, so that's settled." Hinata says and rubs his nose against Kageyama's cheek. "But if we don't get out of the water, we're going to die."
Rain spatters against the window of the train. Hinata peers out into the twilight. Kageyama shifts in his seat.
"We didn't get anything planned," Yamaguchi says behind them. If Tsukishima answers, Kageyama doesn't hear him.
"The weather was horrible," Kageyama says.
Hinata turns and leans his head on Kageyama's shoulder. His hair still smells like the beach, brackish and a little damp.
"Don't nap." Kageyama leans in a little himself.
"We should go swimming again." Hinata scoots closer and puts his hand in Kageyama's fleece pocket.
"Just at the pool," Kageyama says and slides his fingers between Hinata's.