At school the following Monday after their sleepover, after the long hours huddled together sharing heartbeats on the couch and after when they’d finally, if briefly, talked about what had happened by the gym and then spent a few fraught minutes kissing and barreling toward a precipice together… things are actually pretty good.
They didn’t meet up at the front gate in the morning, so Tobio’s first look at Hinata after saying goodbye on Sunday afternoon is of him sitting at his homeroom desk in his uniform jacket, legs crossed and tapping to a silent song as the light streams in through the windows and lights his hair up nice and gold-red. Tobio doesn’t read manga but Hinata does look like one of those heartthrob characters in their first scene, even if he’s a little too short and cheerful for the role. It works for Tobio, so whatever. By the time Tobio gets around to taking in his face—which is a long time for someone standing in the classroom doorway blocking the entrance—Hinata is looking at him. Just looking. Brown eyes piercing as he bites his lip with a peek of white teeth. The expression is full of… Tobio doesn’t know what it’s full of, but it’s doing something to his stomach.
Tobio shakes out of it and adjusts the strap of his messenger bag on his shoulder before he comes into the room and sits at his desk. Hinata continues to look at him all the while over his shoulder, until Tobio looks back, and then his bite-reddened lip twitches in a secret smile.
Tobio would like nothing more than to grab him and take him back home so they can make out some more and maybe even give each other orgasms until they pass out. Honestly even just leaving the classroom and like, trying to burp the alphabet together, would be better than sitting several desks away in Social Studies at eight in the morning… but Tobio is greedy.
He allows himself to think of Hinata Shouyou in his briefs and oversized t-shirt to get through the truly boring moments in classes, and he imagines Hinata is doing something similar, since his cheeks are in a sort of permanent state of blush every time he sees him.
A week passes like this—like peeks of teeth over lightly chapped lips just desks away—and then another, and they don’t have a ton of time to spend together except before and after practices and one very heated hour on Hinata’s couch before a terrible, terribly ill-timed interruption from his little sister, Natsu, who was supposed to be napping.
It’s almost mid-February when Tobio remembers Valentine’s Day. Well, he doesn’t exactly remember, since Noya brings it up when just the two of them are walking home from school another Monday.
“Ya have your eye on any girls, Kageyama?” Noya asks with his usual mischievous grin. He walks—no, struts—like he’s got something to brag about, and it’s unarguably cool. He’s short but he’s a third-year now and his bangs are no longer bleached but his haircut is as punkish as you can get without being suspended. He’s muscled. Almost more so than Tobio and the other much taller guys on the team, but maybe that’s just his confidence. He receives confessions at least once a month, maybe every three weeks, from some of the prettiest girls in school. And he’s good at chatting people up like Hinata, just… flirtier, maybe? He’s so far removed from Tobio’s stuttering existence it’s kind of like stepping into a parallel universe when talking to him. “Got any plans this week?”
Tobio looks away from him with a frown. “No, why would I?” He realizes his answer is a little odd as soon as it’s out of his mouth, but that’s nothing new.
Noya shakes his head. “Right, you only date volleyballs,” he jokes, and Tobio rolls his eyes. “Dude, it’s Valentine’s this week! Gotta get some action! The tall, tortured, mysterious thing only works if you use it. Find a hot chick and get to second base or something!”
Tobio scuffs his shoes on the pavement as they pass by a flickering streetlight, trying to remember which one second base is. He’s pretty sure he and Hinata are past that, right? “You got plans?” he asks.
“Me?” Noya runs a hand through his messy hair and winks. “I will by Thursday!”
Tobio thinks about this. Thursday. What have he and Hinata done for dates? Just… movies, actually. Now that he thinks about it, it seems kind of lame they haven’t done anything else. Hinata always plans their outings when they manage to go anywhere, always asks first except for the first time. Tobio’s only ever suggested they just sit on their asses at home. That, or play volleyball. He’s the least inventive person in the world, probably. “What do people do for dates?” Tobio finally asks.
Noya shrugs. “The third years are much better at the mushy stuff than I am,” he answers. “I’m just a sweet talker and girls like the bad-boy look, I guess.”
Tobio shakes his head. “You are a third-year.” He watches Noya wave his hand in a vague dismissal.
“The third-years last year. Super romantic dweebs, all three of ‘em. I’d ask them, not me.”
“I mean, if you’re gonna ask someone,” Noya adds. His tone is a little sly.
Moments pass, and Tobio knows Noya’s still looking at him but he just keeps walking, relying on his usual stony exterior so Noya’ll get bored before prying.
“Okay, Kageyama,” Noya mutters after a while. “I won’t ask what’s going on in that volleyball head of yours, but I’m not an idiot.”
Instead of baiting him further, Tobio just thinks about who he should talk to. Daichi? Suga? Asahi?
Noya goes on to speculate about Tanaka’s shy attempts at asking Yachi out, and they debate whether it’s finally going to happen this week until Tobio turns toward home. (Noya worries in frustration that it might not happen, but Tobio thinks there’s a better chance. Tanaka and Yachi have become pretty close after taking that photography class together.) After he and Noya part ways at the usual spot—and he receives a friendly but painful punch on the arm from his friend as a parting shot—Tobio takes out his phone.
Asahi is out right off the bat, because he’s always been a huge scaredy-cat and worst case scenario kind of guy, even though he’s probably the nicest person Tobio’s met ever. Daichi is better, but Tobio feels slightly awkward asking him anything personal, like… like he’s a disappointed father figure scolding him for his life choices even before Tobio has the chance to say anything.
Kageyama: Hey Suga, how do I plan a date?
Sugawara: hello kageyama
Sugawara: why would i know how to do that!
Kageyama: Seemed like you’d have ideas. I don’t know what I’m doing.
Sugawara: oh gosh, kags.
Sugawara: who’s this for, huh? someone i know?
Kageyama jiggles his keys as he approaches his house, feeling those weird butterflies start flapping around in the pit of his stomach. He busies himself by taking out his homework and laying it out on his desk as the text conversation fades to black on his phone. He stares at his piles of papers for a while before another text comes through. Suga knows him well enough to read his awkwardness all the way to Tokyo.
Sugawara: hey so. okay.
Sugawara: i hear that flowers are a good start.
Sugawara: yeah! everyone likes flowers! or chocolates!
Kageyama: Okay. Yeah.
Sugawara: and you know, take them out for their favorite food. or their favorite activity. or something new?
Sugawara: or just the first one! haha
Kageyama: Yeah, probably shouldn’t overdo it?
Sugawara: well, if i think it’s for who i think it is… overdoing it isn’t in his vocabulary. but you should do what you’re comfortable with!
Kageyama: What? WHat do you mena?
Sugawara: it’s ok, kags! (:
Sugawara: i mean, i know where you’re coming from.
Sugawara: like, how you’re feeling right now. i think.
Kageyama: You do?
Sugawara: i fell in love with my best friend last year
Sugawara: we’re still together (:
Tobio stares at his phone screen for a while. He rereads Suga’s message, unsure if he’s making the right assumptions.
Sugawara: oh! daichi suggests getting a card or a maybe a small gift! if you can’t spend a ton on dinner or something special.
Sugawara: he says hello and good luck with hinata. be yourself!
Sugawara: whoops!!!!!! we’ve been out drinking, sorry!
Kageyama: You’re talking about me with Daichi?
Sugawara: talk again soon!
Tobio takes a deep breath. Tilts his head back at the ceiling before looking back down at his messages. How would Suga know about him? Does he know because he’s been where Tobio is now? Tobio takes another deep breath.
Kageyama: Thanks, Suga.
So, Tobio books a dinner at the dumpling place. Even though he and Hinata went there on their first date after the movies, and they haven’t been out too many times since it all started, he thinks it’ll make Hinata happy. Pork buns especially put a gleam in his eyes that Tobio is certain he will never be able to match. He hasn’t worked out all the details beyond dinner, but refers back to Suga’s texts for his tips and fights the temptation to ask Suga whether he meant Daichi when he’d said ‘best friend.’ He always assumed he and Hinata were the only ones who liked guys at school, let alone on the team.
Scoping out the flower shop near school seems like the next logical item on his to-do list instead of getting existential about exactly how gay everyone is. And anyway, he can maybe sneakily purchase a bouquet before he grabs Hinata for dinner on Thursday if he plans which flowers to get.
He has no idea how girls coordinate buying chocolates and gifts for all their friends and crushes every year because looking at the front window selection alone makes him cross-eyed. And when the florist asks if he needs help choosing something special he nearly runs away after she fires off a list of scary-sounding names.
He just wants something orange, maybe, like Hinata’s hair. He decides it’ll be best to come back later when he’s had time to think about it.
On the Wednesday before Valentine’s, though, Tobio wakes up with a sore throat. By the time he’s home from afternoon practice, waving off his concerned teammates as he wobbles down the lane to his house, he has chills, his neck is swollen and it hurts to blink, let alone coordinate a date with his… with Hinata. Or do homework. Or do anything other than curl up on the couch in the fetal position.
He can’t even watch TV at a normal volume and the lights are too bright even when they’re off!
“Son, are you alright?” his dad asks when he gets home early from work. He brushes the back of his hand over Tobio’s forehead and Tobio watches his expression contort into the scary thinking face before he speaks again. “You’re running hot. Soup, then bed. We’ll call the doctor in the morning.”
“No,” Tobio says softly, but his dad just passes a hand through his hair and retreats into the kitchen to get dinner started.
The next morning is almost worse. His mother hauls him to the doctor who writes him a note for school, and then he’s back in bed drifting in and out until the afternoon when he wanders, delirious and clammy, into the living room just for a change of scenery. He falls asleep watching some old TV marathon, nursing tea and gathering a mountain of tissues at the base of the couch.
He only remembers it’s Valentine’s Day when he gets a text from Hinata.
Hinata: hey <3
Hinata: heard u were sick!!! (-﹏-。)
Hinata: what y??? how r u feeling??
Tobio wants to say, “I wanted to see you today.” Wants to tell him he’d tried to do something special. He imagines Hinata’s face eating dumplings over winter break, his starry eyes as he chewed contentedly, and sighs. Or tries to, but it’s hard to do that when one of your nostrils is blocked up. He knows he gets sad and whiny when he’s sick, but feeling nostalgic about Hinata gorging himself on pork buns seems overboard. Tobio takes a few deep breaths through his mouth.
Kageyama: I feel like shit.
Hinata: aww (´;︵;`)
Tobio squints at his phone, pouting (although there are no witnesses).
Hinata: can u make itto your door? im coming by with somthing 4 u
Kageyama: Mom can get the door.
Hinata: omg tobio
Kageyama: I’m sick!
Hinata: ok ok big baby
The doorbell rings only a few minutes later, and Tobio watches over the edge of the couch as his mom heads down the hall to greet their mysterious guest.
“Hinata, dear!” he hears her exclaim, and sinks down into his pile of pillows, shimmying until he’s under his blankets again while his mom terrorizes Hinata. (Or Hinata terrorizes his mom - it’s a crapshoot.) He’s gone all day in either a state of absolute sub-zero chills or sweating spells, so he probably looks like death warmed over in his tangled blankets, but he resigns himself to his embarrassed fate as their voices drift closer. “Tobio, looks who’s here! Hinata brought you something!”
Tobio snakes a hand out of his cocoon and waves it vaguely.
“He’s got the flu, so don’t stay too long! We don’t want you getting sick too,” his mom says, and Tobio can hear the indulgent note in her voice. She might like Hinata even more than Tobio, to be honest.
“Thanks Mrs. Kageyama! I won’t be long.”
“You’re so sweet, Hinata. Thanks for looking out for Tobio.”
When she leaves them in the living room, Tobio looks out from the blankets. Hinata is in his uniform and white sweatshirt, backpack straps still on and grin in place as he stands there in his mismatched socks. He’s got a bag full of heavy things on one arm, judging by the straining plastic handles that his forearm is looped through, and at the end of the other arm he’s holding his mobile phone. The tiny volleyball charm attached to the corner clinks as he tips the phone to get a good angle of Tobio’s one, bleary eye peeking out of his cocoon.
The shutter goes off and Tobio whines a little. He’s too tired to fight but he’s reserves the right to be grumpy about it.
“Hey, Kageyama,” Hinata says, smile widening when Tobio rustles around on the couch in consternation.
“What are you doing here?” Tobio asks, and yes, he knows he’s being a shit.
“I volunteered to bring you your homework—”
“Hinata,” Tobio cries, trying to sit up. Homework!?
“—but I also picked up some pho on the way from school.”
Tobio strains to push himself upright and frowns at Hinata who continues to chatter as he sits gingerly on the very edge of the couch and sets the take-out bag on the coffee table. His smile softens into a bit of a pout when Kageyama struggles to unwrap himself.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen your hair that messy,” he says. Tobio smacks his palm over his hair and receives a jarring throb through his temples for his trouble. “Aw,” Hinata continues, shuffling closer. “You’re kinda pathetic when you’re ill.”
“Shut up, Hinata,” Tobio grumbles, and then, “thanks for getting me soup.” He watches Hinata’s smile come back for a moment before trying to pat his hair down a little more. Gently.
“It always makes me feel loads better when I’m sick, so I thought…” At this, he blushes. Tobio should’ve kept a tally of blushes, but he’d probably run out of paper doing that. He’s obviously delirious from his medicine, because who thinks that kind of thing? “Thought I should get some before I came over. Here, I’ll set it up for you—”
“I’ve had pho before, dumbass,” Tobio says absently.
Hinata rolls his eyes. “I know!” he sighs. “Just let me do it anyway.”
“Okay,” Tobio replies, quiet, and watches Hinata push the plastic away and pull the broth and noodles and mix-ins out. “Okay, I’ll be back—gotta pee…”
He stands, but as soon as he’s up he wobbles precariously, losing balance and feeling spinny. He feels Hinata’s arm wrap around him before he registers his “Gwaaah, be careful sneezy-yama!”
“I’m fine, I’m fine.”
“Uh-huh,” says Hinata. Tobio imagines his expression is dubious. “I’m still walking with you to the bathroom.”
They take several steps, and even though Tobio is alright now, he indulges himself in Hinata’s warmth. “You’re not watching me pee,” he grumbles.
“Tch. You’re such a perv!”
“No, you are,” Tobio replies, cleverly.
Hinata lets go of him only once they’ve reached the door to the toilet just down the hall from Tobio’s room, and chirps to “call if you need me!” through the door once it snaps closed.
When Tobio shuffles back into the living room, Hinata’s found a big bowl to pour the soup into and some of the fancier utensils Tobio’s mom keeps for special occasions, including a spoon from the set his grandma gave him for Christmas—the spoons that kind of started everything. He supposes he should have thanked his grandma for a lot more than her weird senile gift this year.
Tobio sits and allows Hinata to drape a blanket over his shoulders before handing him the bowl.
“Eat your soup, it’s from the good place,” Hinata says.
They sit quietly as Tobio slurps at the delicious broth, curious about Hinata’s almost nervous, expectant look. Tobio can see his twisting fingers out of the corner of his eye and remembers that Hinata could have been laughing and blushing and kissing him tonight. And instead, he had to buy Tobio soup and watch him snot all over everything and breathe out of his mouth.
Even though the soup is really good and he’s happy he gets to see Hinata today, his mood darkens until he doesn’t really want to eat anymore. He’s tired. And he really would have liked it if his body didn’t ruin his attempts to be normal—his attempts to show that he doesn’t just… date volleyballs, or whatever Noya said.
“Don’t want to get sick, do you? You should go,” Tobio says after a while.
“I will,” Hinata replies. He takes the bowl from Tobio’s hands and scoots it across the glass of the table before patting at his leg. “You should get into bed. C’mon.”
“Don’t worry about it! Just give me my homework and stop breathing my germs.”
Hinata gives him an exasperated look, but reaches for him anyway. “Are you usually this angry when you’re sick? You seem even grumpier than normal!”
Tobio looks up at Hinata, who’s rubbing his hand back and forth up Tobio’s arm. He wants to wrap him up in his blankets and fall asleep with him, but that would not be wise.
“No,” Tobio admits eventually in a hushed tone. “I planned something for Valentine’s.”
Hinata’s hand stills. “Yeah?”
“I was gonna… I was gonna take you out for dinner and stuff and now I’m sick.”
Hinata squeezes his arm and starts petting him again, and Tobio can see his pink smile out of the corner of his eye. “Valentine’s Day is for girls, dummy,” Hinata jokes. “And anyway, we can reschedule.”
Tobio turns and frowns up at Hinata, who brushes his mussed hair out of his face before sitting up a little more.
“That’s okay?” Tobio asks.
“Yeah!” Hinata laughs. “Today’s just a Thursday, Kageyama.”
“No,” Tobio protests, but Hinata just shushes him.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m really… I’m really happy you wanted to do something special.
“We can do our own thing when you’re better. I can even pretend to be surprised!”
Tobio blinks. “It wasn’t supposed to be a surprise. I just forgot to tell you,” he says.
Hinata rolls his eyes. “Whatever, it doesn’t matter.”
Tobio thinks it probably does, but he lets it go for now. They make their way down the hall to Tobio’s room, Hinata carrying whatever detritus Tobio manages to drop in his attempt to not leave his swathes of blankets and cushy pillows, and Tobio teetering a little into the walls like a slow-motion pinball. Once they’re in Tobio’s room, Hinata helps him into bed and props him up on his pillows so he’ll be able to breathe in his sleep.
“Thank you, Shou,” Tobio mumbles. He’s so tired, and he’s so disappointed. But, he’s glad he gets to see Hinata right now. He nearly rolls his eyes at his own sappiness. Even thinking about rolling his eyes makes his head throb, though. He pouts as he reaches for his nighttime meds (which are across the room on his desk), and Hinata giggles as he trots over and pours him a dose.
“Bwaah, I’d really like to kiss you, but you’re sick!” Hinata whines. Instead of kissing, he brushes a hand through Tobio’s hair and down his cheek after handing him the tiny cup of medicine. Tobio grimaces through the chemical, syrupy taste and lets Hinata tip a glass of water to his mouth.
“I wanted to do something for you,” Tobio continues when he’s done gulping half the glass, as if they never stopped talking about his thwarted date plans.
“I wanted t’not be a jerk f’r once,” he says, a little garbled as his eyes start to droop.
Hinata’s hand, now tracing over his ear, pauses. “You’re not a jerk, Tobio.”
Tobio cracks one eye open just to make sure Hinata knows how stupid he’s being.
“I mean, you’re a jerk, but you’re not a jerk, you know?” Hinata sighs when Tobio just keeps staring at him. “I think you’re my jerk, so. It’s okay. I like you. So it’s okay.”
Tobio sniffs. “...Okay,” he replies.
“Now get some sleep!” Hinata chirps, and smacks a kiss on the top of his head before he can protest. “I’ll clean up your soup.”
“Okay,” Tobio yawns.
“Good night, Kageyama!”
“Okay,” Tobio replies automatically and, at Hinata’s snort, adds, “G’night.”
The next day, Tobio isn’t much better, but he feels a little happier knowing Hinata isn’t disappointed with him. Although he could do without the teasing text messages all day about how ‘whiny-yama is the cutest’ and how Hinata ‘cant get over ur messy hair!!!!!!!!!’ (with that many exclamation points).
He makes Hinata apologize for his teasing by sending him tons of selfies, which he never asks for so he figures he can make up for lost time. They range from coy smiles and big doe eyes to the most unflattering angles, double-chins and silly expressions, and Tobio—even though it doesn’t make his eyes feel better—it makes him smile a little.
When he’s getting ready for bed on Friday night, another text comes in.
When Tobio unlocks his phone, he finds a video waiting for him in their conversation log.
Hinata is singing along to that new love song by the rock band that the guys like to play in the locker room showers. In fact, he’s walking home with a bunch of their team mates, and they’re all singing at the top of their lungs as they skip and jump around the street on their way somewhere. His eyes are squinty and he’s yelling breathlessly as Yamaguchi, Narita, Tanihara and a couple of the others bounce around behind him, the song blaring from Tsukishima’s phone. From the shaky background, it looks like they’re headed for a group dinner in Torono Town—maybe burgers.
“Something in the air is giving me bad ideas!” Hinata shouts in English, and then he’s laughing as he nearly drops his phone. Tanaka cusses really loudly, and then the video cuts out. Belatedly, Tobio notices a text below it, just before he’s about to hit replay.
Hinata: Get better so we can go on that date!
If Tobio had any doubt before… he’s pretty certain now. Tobio really, really, really likes Hinata. And he can’t wait to take him on another date.