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Black Dahlia

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Kageyama POV~

     Of all the ways he thought he might die, drowning wasn’t the worst option. Especially considering the life he led, the people he surrounded himself with, and the area in which he lived. He thought about his friends as he fell towards the water. Time moving slowly in his mind as their faces appeared in his memory. He thought about his new family, the one he’d made for himself- not the one that had birthed him, and abandoned him. The pain that should have been coursing through his limp body was muted as he fell. His fight was over.
     “Kageyama!” A voice cried out. He barely heard it.
     His eyes slid closed as the water broke his fall, enveloping him in a liquid hug, and pulling him along in it’s sweeping grasp.

---

     Was he dead? Had he passed on and found heaven? Or had his actions granted him a one way ticket down under? He could feel things though- shouldn’t he stop feeling pain after death? Was this some sick joke?
     His throat and lungs burned fiercely, and his chest felt like it was breaking down the middle. Heat pushed down his throat before hot liquid came bubbling up, rupturing from his mouth. Dark blue eyes shot open as he sucked in a ragged breath before being interrupted by heavy coughs.

     “O-oh, thank god.” The voice was male, and coming from his left. Kageyama turned his head as much as he could, each breath burning at his raw throat like sandpaper. A young man, appearing hardly older than seventeen sat on the ground next to him, dripping from head to toe. His orange hair stuck to his skin as he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, his clothes sticking to his heaving shoulders.

     Kageyama opened his mouth as if to say something, but only a croak escaped him. He could feel his energy sinking out of his body much like the heat under his skin.

     “Try to stay awake!” The stranger exclaimed brown eyes widening as he scurried back to the wounded man’s side. He pushed his small hands over Kageyama’s right side, eliciting a strangled cry from his raw throat. “S-sorry, have to stop the bleeding…” Bleeding- ah, so he was alive after all. From the look of things, the boy must have jumped into the water to save him… but where were they? Blue eyes lazily flicked around. They were under an overpass, rolling green hills curving up to the street above, framing the river below. He must have been carried out to the suburbs by the river… far enough from harm, or so he hoped. If the goons that jumped him had any brains between their ears they’d be following the river though.

     “G… got to get out… out of here…” He breathed, weakly reaching up to grab the side of the strangers wet shirt. “D-danger…”

     Large brown eyes blinked at him, before the boy nodded. The boy took Kageyama’s hand, and placed it over the wound in his side, before rising and crawling around to his other side. “This will probably be painful.” Was all the warning he gave. He lifted Kageyama’s free arm, sliding his head and shoulders under it, before lacing his own small arm underneath the wounded man. He’d been right. It did hurt. Kageyama groaned, his head lolling to the side as the young man lifted him from the ground. “Stay with me now, I can’t carry you unaided.” He began to half drag the taller boy up the hill, the only help he received being the slight shuffling of feet as the taller boy attempted to carry some of his own weight.

     It was nighttime, but he couldn’t tell how late. The streets were quiet as they finally reached the barrier protecting the sidewalk from the drop into the river. The stranger helped him over the barrier before bringing him over to a bike that was resting on it’s side. Setting Kageyama against the barrier, he righted the bike, before bringing it back to the injured party. “Here, get on, you can use me as support and I’ll roll you- or else we’ll be here all night. We’ll get you to a payphone and call an ambulance.”

     Kageyama reached out and grabbed onto the boy’s shirt, fisting the fabric over his chest. He looked half dead, but still managed an icy glare, “No. Hospitals.” That wasn’t a request.

      “A-alright, no hospital.” The boy helped him onto the bike, and within a few minutes, and a lot of wobbling, they were on their way. “I’m Hinata by the way- Hinata Shoyo” He looked up at the man who was sagging on his bike, holding onto his arm and the handles for dear life. Kageyama simply grunted in response, not offering his own name either from being stubborn, or being so out of it words were simply not an option.

     He didn’t know how long it took them to roll up to a rundown apartment building, but it felt like half a lifetime. It took more manoeuvring, but eventually Hinata got him into the elevator and up to the sixth floor. Once they were inside, Hinata sat him down in the entry, and took off both their shoes before calling out quietly- “I’m home!” Shit. He hadn’t thought about Hinata living with someone, he didn’t want to put more people in danger with his presence than necessary. A small sound came from within the apartment, and a young, early teenage girl appeared dressed for bed.

     “Oniisan?” She asked, rubbing her eyes before peering at the pair. Hinata was starting to shiver from the damp clothing, and Kageyama was all but unconscious again.

     “Natsu-chan, sorry to wake you up, were you sleeping?” His voice was soft, as he reached for his younger sister, ruffling her hair.

     “No, I was waiting for you to get home, it’s past midnight!” She scolded, her eyes set on Kageyama. “Who is…”

     “A- a friend. He’s not doing so well, so we’re going to have him stay with us for a few days, okay?” She scrunched her nose at her brother's words, before slowly nodding. “Natsu-chan, could you do us a favor? We fell in the river and are freezing, could you run a bath?” She nodded, and turned without any fuss, yawning as she head back into the apartment.

     “I- Sorry…” Kageyama croaked, “I don’t want to cause any trouble, you probably should have lef-”

     “None of that.” Hinata commanded, half lifting the stranger once more. He led Kageyama into the apartment, which was mostly bare save for a sofa and table, and a small kitchen. Three doors sat open, two of them darkened, and one shining with the only light. The sound of running water came from the illuminated door, and soon Natsu was exiting. “Go to bed, I’ll pull out a futon for him in my room.” She eyed Kageyama again, which made him glad he was wearing black, and was already soaking wet. It made the blood hard to see, especially in the dark. Once she’d retreated into one of the darkened rooms and shut the door, Hinata let out a slow breath. “Okay, let’s get you cleaned up.”

     Kageyama was easily embarrassed, and having a teenager strip you down and bathe you by hand with a cloth was enough to heat his cheeks with whatever blood was left for him to blush with. They’d patched up the wound in his side, which he’d refused to talk about how he received much to Hinata’s complaints. Before he’d been bathed though, Hinata had made a call to someone named Yachi, and by the time Hinata had gotten him into a pair of dry briefs, and shorts, and had gotten himself in some dry pajamas, there was a quiet knock on the door.

     Drying red hair bobbed down the hallway and opened the door. Kageyama had himself pressed to the wall, behind the bathroom door, holding his breath. Had they found him? Were they here to finish the job? His head spun, and he sagged against the floor, his chin resting on his chest. He was so, so very tired.

     Small hands shook him awake, before a light slap found his cheek. Blue eyes flickered open again to meet chestnut eyes staring back. “He’s bleeding through the bandaging.” A female voice stated, her tone scolding.

     Hinata moved a step away from Kageyama, revealing the guest. A short girl with dirty blonde hair stood in the doorway, looking down at him. She had with her a black case which she set on the floor before kneeling next to his limp form. He tried to shy away, but had none of the energy to do so.

     “It’s okay, this is Yachi-san- she’s a nursing student, and a friend.” Hinata assured, his voice taking on the soft tone he’d used with his sister. Kageyama relaxed some.

     “Can you tell me your name?” She asked, digging through her bag. He remained silent, chewing nervously on the inside of his cheek. She pulled out a small flashlight and gently touched his chin, tipping his face up to be level with hers. Her eyebrow rose as if to coax an answer from him. He flicked his eyes up at Hinata who was watching calmly from his perch on the side of the bath.

     “K-Kageyama, Tobio.” He felt his stomach back flip with nerves. Even though he was in a strange place, far away from the incident… he felt so vulnerable..

     “Okay Kageyama, I’m going to ask you a few simple questions, okay?” She spoke carefully, ask if trying to tame a wild animal, “Look straight ahead now.” He did as she instructed, and she shone a little light into his eyes. “Can you tell me your age?”

     He hesitated before breathing out, “Twenty-one.”

     Yachi flicked the light over to his other eye, “Date of birth?”

     “D-December twenty-second… what does this have-”

     “This is just in case I can’t do anything to help you and your condition worsens. If it comes down to having you die on Hinata-san’s bathroom floor, and getting you to an emergency room, I have to be able to tell them something other than, random guy of random age found in a random river.” She sighed, “Details we’ll keep to ourselves, play dumb… but I don’t want Hinata-san to get in trouble for helping you.”

     He hesitated, then relaxed. “O-okay”.

     She lowered the light and placed it in the case before bringing her gloved hands gently around his head, running her fingers over his scalp. It felt good for the most part, until she hit a spot behind his left ear, and suddenly the world was spinning, and his much earlier lunch was threatening reexposure. “Steady, steady… Hinata, could you support him?” He couldn’t keep his head up, and his body was sagging further. Suddenly a body was next to his, one arm looped around him while another held his shoulder. “Alright, you’ve got a head injury- could be from your dip in the river-” She was fishing for answers, and he was too dizzy to avoid his unorganized brain spitting out what she wanted.

      “T’sn’t.” he was going for it wasn’t, but some mumbling took it’s place, “they jumped me…” was all but a whisper.

     Hinata’s hand on his shoulders tightened. Yachi’s forehead was creased with concern as she lowered her gaze down his bare abdomen, already showing a rainbow of bruises. Gently she touched a few over the front of his chest. “CPR compressions?” The question confused Kageyama, however Hinata offered a response.

     “Yeah, I heard a crack too... “ He sounded ashamed.
     “That tends to happen.” She touched the bruising, causing an anguished groan to escape Kageyama’s throat. His head rolled on his neck, resting his temple against Hinata’s shoulder as he tried to keep conscious through the raw discomfort and pain. “You’re doing great, Kageyama-san.” She soothed, taking a moment to touch his arm over more bruising centred around his left elbow. His left hand was also quite discoloured around the wrist, and swollen. “Probably some fractures in the wrist, elbow and ribs. Best to keep him stationary for a few days. We’ll splint the arm and wrist.” She muttered more to herself than anyone else. She moved her hands lower to the rough bandaging, and slowly peeled it off.

     Kageyama yelped at the bandage pulling at his wound, pinching his eyes shut as he bit his bottom lip painfully.

     “He was stabbed?” Her response was immediate, her eyes wide as she dug through her case. In no time she was cleaning the wound, causing Kageyama to cry out in pain at the burning sensation. Hinata moved his hand to cover his mouth, before giving up and grabbing a hand towel. He rolled the towel and placed it in Kageyama’s mouth and hissed at him to bite down. Kageyama complied, his uninjured hand clenching onto anything he could grab- Hinata’s thigh, though the redhead hardly reacted to the painful squeeze.
     Yachi finished cleaning the wound, and quickly made work of examining it. She did her best to measure the depth of the wound, and the severity without causing more damage, but the pain was too much for the young man. He sagged completely, going limp as he fell unconscious.

 

---

     When he awoke, there was light shining on him, though it was soft, and coming from the window next to him. It took him a few minutes to figure out where he was, and although he wanted to get up and look around, his body wasn’t responding at all.
     “You’re awake.” Hinata sat next to him, looking exhausted. Next to Hinata was a smaller case, similar to Yachi’s, however the petite blonde was nowhere to be seen. Kageyama groaned in response. “You think you can handle some water? I’ve got some pain meds and vitamins you should take.” Kageyama thought about refusing, laying still felt not so terrible after all, however the lure of pain meds won him over. He managed a weak nod, allowing Hinata to help him sit up against a small mountain of pillows.
     Kageyama managed to choke back two painkillers, and some sort of Iron vitamin concoction horse-pill, before sagging weakly into the pillows. “T-thanks.” He croaked weakly.
     “No problem.” Hinata looked a bit nervous, his hands fidgeting as he all but squirmed on his spot next to the futon. “Uh-”
     Kageyama disliked the suspense, his brows furrowed in his telltale scowl, “What is it?”
     “Oh! Nothing bad- well, maybe. Yachi wanted me to clean and redress your wounds when you woke up.
     “Ah. Uh, do what you have to I guess… thanks again.” The raven haired man muttered, looking away. Hinata moved from his spot to open the small case and move closer to Kageyama’s side. He put on gloves, before gently reaching up to his patient's head, and unwrapping the bandage that wrapped around his head, above his eyebrows and behind his ears. It hurt when the bandage was pulled from the wound, the mixture of dried blood, and whatever ointment was added to it had caked onto the fabric, and nearly sealed it to his skin.
     “Sorry!” Hinata exclaimed when Kageyama hissed at the sensation. He took tweezers, and a cotton ball which he’d coated in alcohol, and began dabbing at the wound. It stung terribly, but was over quickly. Then he was applying an ointment again before wrapping the wound. Easy enough, not terribly painful. He could do this.

     His abdomen wound was much, much worse. Once the bandage was off, Kageyama could see the dark bruising around the wound, though was surprised to see a neat stitching job where the deep gash had once been. Hinata offered him a small nod to make sure he was ready before applying the alcohol solution. “Ah- S-shit!” Kageyama hissed, pressing his head back into the pillows while balling his fists in the blankets.

     “Almost there-” Hinata stated, his tongue sticking out between his lips in concentration as he carefully manoeuvred the cotton ball around the stitches as to not cause more pain than necessary. The ointment didn’t burn as much- in fact it had a cooling sensation, but it was still uncomfortable upon application. Within a few minutes, Hinata had him wrapped up and redressed. Finally able to breathe easy (save for the fractured rib which made breathing rather uncomfortable, of course), Kageyama took a look around. The room was pretty bare, a dresser, two futons including the one he was currently laying on taking up most of the space, a pile of folded clothing on top of the other, and a scattering of textbooks. He noticed a Waseda University sweater tossed in a corner and frowned.

     “Do you have an older brother or something?” Hinata followed his gaze to the sweater before shaking his head.

     “No, it’s just Natsu and I- the sweater’s mine, I’m a Sports Science Major at Waseda.” He was watching Kageyama as he spoke, his red brow slowly cocking at the expression the wounded party was giving him.

     “University? Did you graduate early from grade school or something?” Kageyama was staring intently back at the smaller boy, eyes roving all over him to look for some hint as to how a kid was a university student.

     “N-no? I turned twenty-two this past June.”

     “Come again?”

     “I’m twenty-two.”

     “Bullshit.”

     “...I get that a lot.” Hinata was pink in the face, looking down at his hands that rested in his lap.

     “You’re just so… small.”

     “Oi! Rude.”

     Kageyama found himself laughing, before immediately regretting it, hunching over his stomach in pain. “-laughing… ow, no laughing…” he heaved.

     “Ah, yeah. Sorry. Are you hungry at all?” Hinata was already standing, his own stomach grumbling as he moved. Pink painted his cheek at the sound of his hunger.

     “I should probably try, whether I've an appetite or not.” Kageyama admitted, “Sorry to impose further…”

     “Don’t be ridiculous.” The smile that Hinata flashed him was painful to look at, so clear and bright, devoid of any ulterior motive. Kageyama felt like he’d just looked at the sun after spending weeks in the dark. The smaller boy left the room, and soon sounds of the kitchen being used filled the open air of the apartment. Within forty minutes or so, they were both sitting in the room again, eating congee. It actually wasn’t half bad. “When mum died… ah, I had to learn to take care of Natsu. That happened during my first year of Uni, I’d just turned eighteen. I had to drop some courses and take classes part time while working, on top of being her guardian.” They’d begun chatting, getting to know one another to fill the silence as they ate.

     “I’m sorry to hear that…” Kageyama was never good when it came to family stuff, his experience in the matter was extremely lacking.

     “What about your family- oh! I bet they’re worried, not having heard from you!” The innocence of this boy was blowing his mind. How had he not figured out that Kageyama belonged to a world that was laced with shadows? He’d been beaten, stabbed, and left for dead in a river… and when he was saved, he demanded that he’d not be taken to a hospital. He had friends that would be worried sure, but no mother to cry over his absence.

     “Ah… I don’t have one.” Was his muttered response. Hinata’s face fell, his congee nearly spilling from his spoon, an inch from his mouth.

     “You don’t have anyone at all? Anyone who would notice you missing?”
     “I’ve got friends, they’re practically family… I’m sure they’ve got their ears to the pavement keeping track of any word that might come their way.” Kageyama admitted.

     Hinata put his bowl down and leaned closer, eyes bright, “Well?! Don’t you want to let them know you’re alive?”

     The raven-haired pushed back against his pillows at the sudden proximity of the boy, and offered a weak shrug before wincing at the motion. “I mean, yeah- but if I call them they’ll want to come get me… I don’t want you to get involved in that world.”

     The smaller boy’s eyes became very serious, “Were they the ones that did this to you?”

     “No! Of course not! It’s just… the type of people I hang around… they’re- no, we’re the type of people that make enemies. Enemies that do shit like this.” He gestured to his own body. “The guys that jumped me didn’t have a personal vendetta or anything, they’re after our crew- and if I send word of where I am… I know those guys, all reasonable thinking will fly out the window and they’ll roll up here on their bikes, not even worrying about being followed. That’ll put you and your sister in danger.”

     Hinata scowled for a moment, but seemed to accept this. “Alright, just… just get some rest, and we’ll get you back to them as soon as possible.”

 

---

     He slept restlessly that night. Sweat covered his skin, as he writhed in his sleep, unable to toss and turn due to his injuries. Cold hands felt like they were gripping onto him, dragging him down into the depths of the river, air failing to reach his lungs as he drowned…

     “Kageyama! Kageyama-san please wake up!” The cold hands were not death greeting him, but instead Hinata, trying to rouse him. Blue eyes flickered open, as he gasped desperately for air. Hinata helped him sit up, his hand rubbing soothing circles on his back as the taller boy heaved, trying to get his lungs functioning properly. “Nightmare?” Kageyama simply nodded, his head swirling with fatigue, and dizziness.

     “I-I feel like I’m drowning in that river every time I let myself sleep.” Hot tears were dotting his cheeks, surprising him.

     “Shhh, it’s okay.” The older boy said soothingly, using his free hand to feel Kageyama’s forehead. “You’ve got a fever.” He propped Kageyama up on the pillows again, and disappeared for water, and medicine. Once the injured party had taken those, he vanished and returned with a cool, damp cloth, helping Kageyama lay back, he rest the damp fabric over his brow.

     Kageyama could feel his heart still thrumming loudly in his chest, his body quivering with fear, and adrenaline from the dream. Hinata pushed his futon closer, closing the gap between theirs before laying back down. It was nighttime, and the boy looked exhausted. Getting comfortable, Hinata reached over and took Kageyama’s hand in his, stroking soothing circles along his palm with his thumb.

     “W-what are you-?”

     “Shh, go to sleep. You aren’t going to drown. I’ll make sure of it.” Hinata’s voice was already getting husky with sleep, his eyes closed as he stroked his guests hand.

     Kageyama gulped, trying to calm his heart. His face felt very, very warm. The soothing circles must have been helping however, because in no time he was already drifting off into dreamland.

Chapter Text

Hinata’s POV

     The sound of birds chirping roused the young man, his legs uncurling from his chest he pushed them out straight, getting a long stretch down his spine all the way to his toes. He tried to raise his arms overhead, however one of his hands was detained. Glancing over to his sleeping guest, he noticed their fingers were interlaced, Kageyama holding firm onto his hand, and pressing their grasp over his heart. It almost pained him to wriggle his hand free, the sight was so pure… but- wait, why were they holding hands in the first place? How did their futons get so close? Hell, he was half on Kageyama’s futon altogether! A deep flush covered his bare neck. Had Kageyama? No, there was no way he’d have the strength and mobility to move- so had… had Hinata moved himself over during the night? He couldn’t remember at all, he’d been half dead from sleep deprivation.

     “Oniisan?” A small voice called. Hinata pulled himself free of Kageyama’s hold, and the confinement of the blankets and tiptoed over his guest’s prone form. Opening the door he peered down at his sister- though he didn’t have far to look. She had just started high school that year, and was only an inch or two shorter than Hinata. She stood at his door, dressed for class, her eyes downcast. “Your work called…”

     “Ah… D-don’t mind that, it was just a part time gig- I can always find another!” He said cheerfully, rubbing the back of his sleep tousled head. “Let me worry about rent and bills- you focus on school to keep up that scholarship, kay?” He had missed work, having to stay home and take care of Kageyama… but he didn’t mind, most of the jobs he picked up were temporary- someone on vacation, someone in the hospital… limited time deals. He had become an expert at finding easy cash. Legally of course.

     “Kay.” He didn’t expect the hug she flung at him, but it was welcome nonetheless. He stroked her head lovingly before she pulled away. “I’m going to work hard!” She cried, throwing a fist out for him to pound with his own. He complied, and without any further conversation, she turned to leave.

     “Stay safe!” The door closed behind her wave, and the apartment was silent again, save for the little snore that resonated in the back of Kageyama’s throat.
     Hinata made quick work of readying more congee- not his favourite, but it would be the easiest for the taller boy to eat in his condition. While the food heated, he returned to the room, and replaced the cloth on Kageyama’s head for a new one. In between stirring the food, and checking on his patient, he checked their clothing on the balcony to see how much they had dried over the last day and night. Satisfied, he pulled them off the makeshift line.
     A small black rectangle fell out of Kageyama’s pocket, landing next to Hinata’s foot. He bent, and took it in his hands while checking it for any writing. It was faded and wrinkled from the river, but he could faintly make out the outline of a dark red flower.
     “What is…” The sound of sizzling broke his train of thought- “Ah! Congee!” He shouted, pocketing the paper and running back to the kitchen to rescue the rice dish.

     It took a few tries, but he managed to wake Kageyama, and get him seated against the mound of pillows. The young man still looked exhausted, so after he ate, and Hinata cleaned and redressed his wounds, he went back to sleep.
     While Kageyama slept, Hinata took another look at the black rectangle, checking for any faded writing. There was absolutely nothing, what the hell was it?
     “Ugh, this is frustrating.” He muttered to himself, arms crossed and eyes scrunched in thought. Giving up, he stuffed the card into a small pocket in his backpack before pulling out his textbook to study.

---

     The next day moved in a similar fashion, only this time Yachi arrived in the evening to take over nurse duty so Hinata could go to class. It was a welcome reprieve, but he could hardly focus on the content of the lecture. Kageyama had woken many times throughout the night, gasping for air and clawing at his blankets. He’d even managed to loosen the splint on his arm, causing him to wake with a shout of pain. The pair had managed to sleep through the morning though, but Hinata was still tired and worried. He’d asked the man what he was dreaming about each time, and the answer was always water. Dark suffocating depths pulling him deeper.

     “I remember thinking that drowning wasn’t a bad way to go… but now the thought of open water... “ Kageyama had shuddered. Hinata wasn’t well versed in psychology, he’d only ever taken an intro class in his first year, but the man’s frequent night terrors, and sudden fear sounded a bit like PTSD. Hinata shook his head. He’d tell the other man to talk to a therapist, but he’d witnessed Kageyama’s stubbornness over the last few days. Hinata wasn’t the right person to broach that subject with him.

     When the late night lecture ended, Hinata packed his belongings, and shouldered his bag, waving to the few other part timers he shared classes with before departing. He was about to leave campus when a thought passed him. The redhead made an about-turn and marched back into the depths of the school.
     Situated in the library (thankfully open late for night students), he made himself comfortable at a computer. Hinata shuffled through his bag and withdrew the black rectangle, setting it next to the keyboard.
     “Alright google… logos with red flowers.” Hinata muttered to himself, scrolling through images. Well, apparently his search wasn’t refined enough- there were a lot of red flower logos. He groaned and put his head down. Why was he searching so hard anyway? He would simply ask Kageyama, but he knew he’d just be blown off. The secrets were eating him up inside. What was he involved in to get stabbed and thrown into a river? Who were the people after his crew? Who even were his crew? Was he a hoodlum? A gangster? A convict?! Who even had crews?

     “Huh, didn’t know you were the type for host clubs.” A voice stated right behind Hinata. The redhead jumped, raising his head to look around. A fellow night class student had taken the seat next to him, looking at the small black card.

     “H-host club?”

     “Yeah, my roommate used to bartend at one, I saw a bunch of these kinds of cards laying around after he’d come back from a night out. Lots of clubs in the entertainment districts use icons instead of words to advertise. Not sure why. This looks like one I’ve seen before.”

     Hinata’s eyes sparkled, and he inched closer.

     “You’re a bit short to be a host, but worth a try man.” His face fell, as the other student lounged lazily in his chair, long legs stretched out before him, with both hands behind his head.

     “I’m not trying to be a host. I’m trying to help a friend.” Hinata could hear the dryness in his voice at his words, his expression very unimpressed.

     “Mmmmhm,” The other man sounded either uninterested, or unconvinced. Either way, he sat up again and looked at the card. “The kinds of places have names referring to their symbols. Looks like… some sort of red daisy. Try searching Red Daisy host club.”

     Hinata gave it a shot, then switched to images. The two young men shuddered.

     “The internet is a scary place sometimes.”

     “Y-yeah. Any other guesses?”

     “Uhh….. black daisy host club?”

     Hinata plugged in that option. Two logos appeared that looked promising. He quickly jotted down the addresses and thanked his classmate for his help.

     “Yeah, no problem dude… good luck, you know… for your friend.” The smirk was irritating, but Hinata offered a small bow either way and ran off with his bag, the card, and the information in hand.

     He got on the train next to the campus and head in the opposite direction of home. Kabukicho. Exiting the station at Tokyo’s most infamous red-light district, Hinata began looking at signs. The streets were crowded despite it being 11PM on a weeknight, every so often he got jostled, making him wrap his arms tighter around his bag. This district was bad news. Lots of crime, sex, and trouble to be had. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a few men standing outside of a gambling den smoking, their sleeves rolled up to flaunt affiliation tattoos. Hinata walked faster.

     As he walked he kept his eyes up at the bright neon signs, looking for his black daisy, or the associated street name, and number. Finally, after a lot of weaving between crowds, he found his target. Poisoned Flower Host Lounge. Hinata took a moment to prepare himself, taking a deep breath and squaring his shoulders before approaching the door. The large bouncer looked down on him and snorted.

     “Where do you think you’re going kid?”

     “A- ah, hi. I’m actually here looking…” Wait, what was he going to say? He didn’t know any names of Kageyama’s friends. Perhaps he could ask for Kageyama, and see what happens? “I’m looking for Kageyama-kun.”

     The bouncer looked down on him, not even trying to look menacing- though he did either way. He barked out a laugh, “Sorry kiddo, we don’t let grade schoolers in here, your friend ain’t around.

     “N-no, could you just ask around inside? I- I think he’s either a regular or he works here.”

     “Get lost kid, your friend ain’t here. Run home, it’s late.”

     “Okay- listen here, I’ve had about enough of this lately, I am not a child!” He dug through his bag and produced his government issued identification. The bouncer snorted at it, hardly looking.

     “Anyone can make a fake kiddo, get off our stoop before I acquaint you with the alleyway.” Hinata balled his fists and glared angrily.

     “What’s this little Chibi-chan doing outside such an unsavory place?” The voice was like liquid running down his spine. Hinata’s senses shot into hyper activity, his hair standing on end as he turned slowly to find the source of the voice. An attractive man stood amidst a small collection of people. They dressed romantically, all whites and blacks, eyeliner, and soft lips. A few girls followed them like bees tracking honey.
The one who spoke had soft looking hair, sweeping across his brow, his body language was that of someone who could be completely at ease no matter his location. Next to him was a brooding character with a strong jaw and short spiky hair. The two other men were hardly paying attention to them, chatting with the women who were flocking around them. One man was around six feet, Hinata guessed, and had short, light brown hair that was cut above his brow line; the other was a fair bit taller- the tallest of the four-, and had a bored expression on his face, his dark hair flicking out at odd angles.

     “Chi-chi-, who are you callin’ chibi-chan? Huh?!” Hinata barked, his face flashing red. He’d been getting too much flack for his appearance this week.

     “Oh dear, I didn’t mean to offend, chibi-chan, did you come here to play?” The smooth-talker purred. Hinata seriously doubted the man wasn’t trying to offend. The other standing next to him rolled his eyes, and shook his head.

     “I’m looking for this place!” Hinata shouted at him, drawing the attention of the others in the party. He shoved the black card towards the stranger and scowled.

     “Mm, that’s Black Dahlia.” The tallest member of the group leaned down at peered at the paper.

     “Ah, so it is- you’ve got the wrong place kid.” That was the eye-roller next to the smooth-talker. “Oikawa, stop harassing the boy would you.” He scolded, elbowing Mr. smooth-talker.

     “Iwa-chaaaaaan” The first man whined, rubbing his side. Hinata ignored them and looked at his list from the library. Black Dahlia was the second club on his list.

     “You know how to get there kiddo?” It was Iwa who spoke this time, his dark eyes observing the redhead, completely ignoring his companion who was soaking up the sympathy of the women in the group.

     “U-uh, not really. I’ve never been to this district before.” Hinata admitted, looking around at any street signs he could see.

     “Okay, don’t worry. You guys go in with the ladies. I’ll take this kid to the Dahlia and meet you back here.

     “Y-you don’t have to do that!” Hinata exclaimed. Waving his hands out in front of him.

     “It’s nearly midnight, I’m not gonna ask why you’re out here, or why you’re going to the Dahlia, but if you go alone, you’ll get eaten alive. That I can guarantee. Kabukicho isn’t kind to cute strangers.” He spoke with a flat tone and a straight face, but his words made Hinata flush.

     “No faaaair Iwa-chaaaaan. I’m coming too. It’s decided.” Iwa rolled his eyes again as Oikawa clung to his arm and waved dramatically at the ladies who swooned and giggled.

     “Come on, this way.” Iwa grumbled, leading them back into the throng of the bustling crowd.

     “Y-you guys seem pretty popular.” Hinata stated, making small talk.

     “We’re hosts. That’s kinda our job.” Was the flat response. Hinata nodded slowly. He guessed that, based off of their appearance, but it was another thing altogether to hear it straight from their mouths.

     “Iwa-chan, don’t act like it’s a prison term! You were just gushing the other day about the gift a client gave you!” Oikawa sang happily, literally skipping down the walk.

     “I. Dont. Gush.” Hinata couldn’t help the giggle that escaped him at their married couple-esque banter.

     “Anyway… thanks, for helping me.” Hinata managed to say when Oikawa had calmed down a bit. “I’m Hinata.”

     “No problem. Iwaizumi.” Hinata shared a nod with the calmer man.

     “I’m Oikaw-”

     “He knows, idiot.”

     The smooth-talker pouted for the rest of the walk.

---

     Finally they arrived at their destination. It was on the outskirts of the district, surrounded by a number of izakaya houses, and a couple of love hotels. Hinata noticed how quiet it was- well, compared to the heart of the district, in reality it still was quite loud. As the Trio approached, Hinata noticed the black sign over the door. It was simple, only the neon outline of a maroon flower was illuminated. “So why is it called…” He drifted off.

     “That flower-” Iwaizumi began, pointing at the sign, “It’s called a black dahlia. In reality, the flower isn’t actually black, but a very dark red.”

     “Oooh, Iwa-chan, so smart.”

     “Ah.” As they approached the door, he could see english lettering on the metal portal. BLACK DAHLIA. This was it after all.

     Iwaizumi was the first to enter, with Oikawa hanging off his arm, and Hinata bringing up the rear. The lounge looked fairly classy, dim lighting, leather seating, polished wooden tables. A healthy number of tables were already filled, along with a few seats at the bar.

     “Oi- Mr. underage!” Hinata cowered under the formidable glare. A thuggish looking man with a shaved head and dangerous expression was leaning over him, muscular arms crossed over his chest. He wore all black. Bouncer.

     Hinata rummaged quickly in his bag. Suddenly multiple people in the lounge tensed. Hinata pulled out his identification again. “I promise it’s real, I’m just…”

     “Tiny.” Oikawa helped.

     Hinata scowled but nodded. The man glared down at the Identification, and gave it back before taunting, “I’ve got my eye on you carrot top!” Suddenly he doubled over in pain.

     “Tanaka-kun, don’t be rude to our customers.” The voice was light, and cheerful despite the scolding words and the karate chop that had been delivered to the bouncers side.

     “S-sorry S-Suga.” Tanaka groaned, falling back to his post at the door.

     “Table for three?” Suga asked, his smile bright and welcoming. Hinata could tell his hair was grey, despite the dim lighting giving it a slightly orange tint, and he had a beauty mark just below his eye. Overall he just had that kind of appearance that was friendly. Much like many of the workers in the lounge, this man wore a white dress shirt, the top button undone casually, with black slacks and a knee length black apron that tied at the waist and didn’t cover anything above that.

     “Ah, we aren’t staying- just playing escort.” Iwaizumi explained, offering Suga a small bow.

     “That’s a shame, you boys on duty tonight?”

     The pair nodded, one more excitedly than the other. “We have clients waiting, we should go. Make sure the kid doesn’t get into any trouble, hm?”

     “Looking after troublemakers as usual Iwa?” Another man had joined the conversation. Close cropped dark brown hair framed a square jaw that sat upon a very muscular build.

     “Ah! Daichi-san! You don’t usually work Monday’s do you?” Oikawa exclaimed, looking genuinely shocked to see him.

     “No, but we’ve got a staff member down with bad bug, so we’re taking turns covering.”

     “How sweet.”

     “Anything for family.”

     Hinata stood silently watching the transition, mildly amazed at the connections people made in the entertainment industries.

     “Who is this?” Daichi asked, looking down at Hinata.

     “Ah! This is Chib-” Iwa elbowed Oikawa painfully in the ribs. “H-Hinata-kun” Oikawa managed to croak.

     “He’s looking for a friend.” Iwa stated matter-of-factly. Hinata blinked at him, had he witnessed the entire conversation with the host club bouncer?

     Iwa nodded at him to speak. “Ah, yes. I’m looking for Kageyama Tobio.” The noise in the lounge suddenly died down, and Hinata could sense eyes on him.

     “Oh! You’re a friend! Why didn’t you say so earlier! Come on out back, we’ll get you comfortable!” Hinata was beyond confused at Suga’s exclamation. Clearly Iwa and Oikawa didn’t sense anything off because they were wishing him a safe journey home and soon they’d left. Daichi and Suga took the lead, allowing Hinata to follow them down a dark hallway into a back room behind a swinging door that read staff. Hinata didn’t make it down the hallway into the staff room however, a firm grip took hold of the back of his shirt and threw him against the wall hard enough to bruise. Before his two guides could fully react to the sudden excitement, Hinata was being pressed against the wall by a man hardly taller than he was- and most of that was probably hair.

     Dangerous eyes glared daggers at him, small but strong hands balled into fists around the front of his shirt, pressing him painfully against the cement wall. “Who sent you? Where the fuck is Kageyama!” The man was acting like a crazed animal, looking torn between getting answers and wanting to rip his head off.

     “Nishinoya! No!” That was Daichi, finally reacting as he came charging back down the hall to help Hinata. Someone else got to the short assailant first though, wrapping thick arms around him and yanking him off of the small redhead.

     “Let me go!” The firecracker shouted, squirming in the firm grasp that held him a few inches off the ground.

     “That’s enough Noya-san. Calm down.” The man holding him was a giant with a goatee, and long hair tied in a bun. He, just like Noya, was dressed as an employee, only his muscular forearms were on display. Hinata wasn’t sure if he rolled up his sleeves to keep them out of the way of his work, or to look intimidating- either way… it was intimidating.

     “Asahi, this ass knows something! They sent him!” The smaller man struggled still, however it was futile. Daichi put himself in between Hinata and Noya, while Suga came to Hinata’s side, wrapping a protective arm around his shoulder and carefully leading him into the staff room. Asahi literally carried Noya to the room and sat him down. Daichi followed closely, and took post next to Asahi, placing a firm hand on the small firecrackers shoulder as a warning. Asahi nodded in thanks, then disappeared again down the hallway, presumably to resume work.

     “Hinata… can you tell us how you know Kageyama?” Suga asked calmly, ignoring Nishinoya’s death glare.

     “Uh… yeah. B-but before I do, he was really worried about putting me in danger, so I need to know…. You guys… you’re his crew right? Whatever that even means.” Hinata had no idea what he’d gotten himself into but he didn’t want to tell the wrong people where Kageyama was.

     “I guess you could say that. You see, Kageyama works here, and rooms with some of the guys here. Most of us grew up together, as foster siblings, but Kageyama came to us a couple of years back, and became part of our… rag-tag family I guess you could say- the point is, we look out for our own, and now he’s been missing for days.” Sugawara looked extremely worried as he spoke, his hand resting gently on Hinata’s shoulder.

     “Not missing!” Noya all but screamed, “They fucking jumped us! Pulled a knife and everything! Last I saw he was floating face down in the damn river!” There were hot tears in his eyes as he told the tale.

     “Y-you were there when it happened?” Hinata asked directly to the emotional man.

     “Damn right I was, beat the shit out of those punks and sent them running home to their little rat holes.” His knuckles were white as he clenched his grasp on the edge of the table. It sounded like a threat, as if Hinata was next if he didn’t say the right things.

     “Noya…” Was the warning tone from Daichi.

     “H-he’s safe! I can promise you that,” Hinata was sweating with nerves, and his legs were shaking under the table. “I found him on my way home from class a couple of nights ago in the river, I pulled him out and got him breathing and to my home. I’ve got a friend that’s a nursing student, she patched him up- now he’s just laying low and recovering. I promise, he’s okay!” Hinata was near sobbing, his words coming out a jumbled mess between breaths.

     “It’s okay, we believe, you.” Suga soothed, rubbing circles on his upper back.

     “I want proof.” Noya seethed.

     “I-I can call, you can talk to him yourself.” Daichi nodded to Hinata’s offer, and Suga moved and brought a portable phone to him. Hinata dialed his home number and put the receiver to his ear. After two rings Yachi’s voice greeted him.

     “Hello, Hinata residence!” She sounded like her usual chipper self, despite it being about midnight.

     “Yachi-san? It’s me, Shoyo. Could you get Kageyama on the phone? It’s urgent.” His voice was shaking, he knew it.

     “Hinata-san… is everything alright?” Her worry was palpable, even over the line.

     “Yeah, just a bit rattled.” He answered after a breath. He needed to calm down.

     “O-okay then, just hold on a minute.” He could hear her arranging the telephone, and carrying it into the bedroom. He had managed to get an old model that still required a cord for a few bucks- the cordless, and cellular devices were just too far out of his price range when he could easily settle for cheaper if not a bit outdated. Within a few moments, he heard Kageyama’s voice, muffled before finally clear through the phone.

     “Hinata-san? Where are you? Is everything okay?”

     “Yeah, I’m good… but there’s someone here who’d very much like to speak with you.” He passed the phone across the table to Noya, who snatched it and pressed it against his ear.

     “Kageyama?” He almost sounded timid, as if afraid to hear the state of the voice on the other side. Hinata listened to the conversation, not being privy to the other half, “Oh thank… where are you? We’ll come get you. I-Idiot?! Why wouldn’t we- …. Oh, yeah, that makes sense. Are you sure you- how long then?” It was silent for a bit, while Noya visibly relaxed. “Ah… okay- just, hurry back okay? I’m not the only one that’s been worried man.” It warmed Hinata’s heart seeing people so passionate about their friends, their family. He felt like saying, see Kageyama… you do have a family, you aren’t alone.

     Once the line was cut, and the phone was returned, everyone sat in silence for a moment before Nishinoya slowly stood, no longer being held in place by the larger man. Turning to Hinata, he bowed, bending in half violently before nearly shouting, “Sorry for my rash behaviour, it won’t happen again!” and with that, he all but ran out of the room.

     “Oi! Noya-san! Don’t just run off after saying that!” Suga sighed deeply, shaking his head. “We’re all sorry about… well, everything really. You’ve gone out of your way to take care of one of ours, it’s a debt we hope to repay one day.” The man bowed slightly, causing Hinata to flush with embarrassment, waving his hands in dismissal.

     “D-don’t be ridiculous! I just did what anyone would do!” Daichi was shaking his head at Hinata’s words.

     “No, you went above and beyond, we truly are in your debt.”

---

     After many thank you’s and apologies, Hinata was finally allowed to go home, Sugawara even escorted him safely out of the district and to the train, wishing him well, and giving him some cash to take care of Kageyama’s expenses. Hinata attempted to refuse, but that went nowhere. The man was surprisingly pushy.

     Finally after a long train ride home, Hinata was in front of his apartment. Slow, tired steps carried him to his front door, his key turning the lock slowly as to not wake anyone inside. He didn’t bother turning on any lights, instead he waited a moment for his eyes to adjust before taking off his shoes and moving through the dark apartment. He entered the bathroom and felt around for his toothbrush. After taking care of his oral hygiene, drinking some water, and using the toilet, he was ready to pass out.
     Moving quietly he peeked into his sister's room, seeing Yachi curled up next to Natsu made him smile. He backed away and entered his own room, only to see a large mound of pillows with a dark silhouette sitting upright against them, arms crossed. Hinata winced, and closed the door.

     “What. The. Hell.” Was all Kageyama said as Hinata lowered his bag, and took off his autumn jacket. “How the hell did you find them? Or did they find you? You could have been tailed! Or attacked! Or worse!” Kageyama’s volume was increasing.

     Hinata practically ran to him, pressing his hand over the man’s mouth to quiet him. “Shh! They’re sleeping!” Hinata hissed, his free hand making a shushing motion, index finger against his mouth. Kageyama huffed against the barrier, and looked away.

     “You have no idea how worried you made me.” The voice was quiet, hardly audible over the sound of the light wind through the open window. Hinata blinked, and cocked his head slightly. He’d been… worried?

     “Why would you have been worried?” Was all he could say, “You’re friends made sure I left the district safe, and sure Noya-san, and Asahi-san were kinda scar-” He didn’t finish before Kageyama was grasping the back of his head with his uninjured hand. Hinata blinked at the contact, noticing that the man had tried to grab the back of his neck in a painful grip, but seemed to think better of it at the last minute. Now his hand was just resting against his fluffy mess of hair.

     “Don’t ever do something like that again. You could… you could have been killed.” Kageyama was looking at him this time, but in the poor lighting, Hinata couldn’t see his expression.

     “O-oh.” He didn’t know what to say. Suddenly Kageyama released him, and shoved against his shoulder.

     “Now get off me and go to bed, I’m tired and you look like you’re ready to collapse.” Hinata blinked at this. Get… off him? He looked down at their positions. He’d nearly mounted the man when he’d run over to cover his mouth, and when Kageyama had grabbed his head, he’d been pulled even closer, nearly sitting on the man’s lap. He felt his face get very hot, and immediately jumped to his feet, moving over to the closet. He felt self conscious suddenly, but he knew he had to get to bed. Next to Kageyama.
     Looking over his shoulder he saw that the man had managed to get back into a laying position on his own, and had his eyes closed. Some of the pressure left the smaller man. He felt less nervous to change into his sleepwear, pulling his clothing off and changing into a loose T-shirt and shorts before crawling into his futon.

     It took him some time to fall asleep. His thoughts were full of questions regarding Kageyama’s life, and the events that led him to the futon next to Hinata. When Kageyama began his nightly cycle of nightmares, Hinata was conscious enough to make the decision to scoot closer and hold his hand.

Chapter Text

Kageyama’s POV

     He was getting cabin fever. It had been a week since the attack, and he had yet to leave the confines of Hinata’s apartment. Sure, he was forever grateful, and in the smaller man’s debt… but damn if he didn’t get outside soon he was going to blow a gasket. His mood had been slowly deteriorating over the past couple days, and he’d noticed how Hinata was extra careful around him, as if he could sense the tension radiating off the injured man.

     “Alright, that’s it.” He finally grumbled, staring grumpily at the redhead who was reading his textbook in the corner of the room. “We’re going outside.”

     Hinata raised his head and blinked at him. “You nearly passed out walking to the bathroom three days ago.” His voice was even, and matter-of-fact.

     Kageyama sat in silence for a moment, “Worth the risk.” Was his final judgement. He had been sitting on top of the blankets, propped up against the small mountain of pillows; and now he was using that fluffy mound to force himself off the ground. He groaned loudly while he did so, feeling his stomach burning in pain with the strain. He wouldn’t give up though.

     Hinata was suddenly at his side, ducking his head under the man’s arm and assisting his standing process, “Bakayama, you’re going to tear your stitching, and Yachi-san will kill us both!” He scolded, shaking his head. Kageyama righted himself, allowing the smaller man to support him. Anything to get out of this room.

     They took it slowly, easing the injured man into shoes, and out the entry way. Hinata locked up behind them and acted as a support. A thought came to the tall man, pointing out what should have been obvious from the get go- “This would be easier with crutches.”

     “We can pick some up? Though, you can only use one with your arm like that.” Hinata nodded towards the splint that secured his wrist in place, a sling that Yachi had brought back from school was holding the arm across his chest. Kageyama nodded in simple agreement.

     When they got outside, Kageyama couldn’t help the sigh of relief that escaped him. He inhaled the early autumn air deeply, though instantly regretted it. His broken rib pained him greatly, and he ended up coughing. He felt the hand Hinata had thrown around him for support softly rubbing circles on his back while he coughed, and he felt his face heat up. If Hinata had noticed his flush, the smaller man didn’t mention it. Instead, Hinata began leading him slowly down the sidewalk, towards the taller, newer looking buildings.

     The pair walked in silence most of the way, Hinata being a steady support, and Kageyama enjoying this taste of sudden freedom he’d been longing for. He wanted desperately to go home, but he wasn’t quite well enough to head back into danger just yet- god only knew what might be waiting for him back there, and he was in no shape to defend himself. At least he was back in his own clothing again, Hinata had gone back to Black Dahlia the day before and picked up some of his belongings, thanks to Nishinoya-san. That little bit of familiarity was enough to calm him some- besides, none of Hinata’s clothing fit him.

     Hinata had been leading the pair to a pharmacy. “Here, rest for a bit while I go in- is there anything you want? There is a convenience store attached.” He lead Kageyama to a bench in front of the shop, and helped him sit. The taller man pondered for a moment, and then agreed to canned coffee.

     He sat, watching the redhead disappear inside the glass door. The sun reflected his own image back at him; dark circles under deep blue eyes, hair disheveled, arm bound to his chest in a sling, and generally looking like hell. At least his head wasn’t wrapped up anymore. He looked like less of a train wreck without the bandage peaking through his hair, but just barely.

     It didn’t take Hinata long to exit the store, carrying a bag, and one crutch. “They sell singles?”

     “Yeah! So handy!” Hinata approached, and set the crutch down next to Kageyama. He took a seat on the other side of the man and handed over the canned coffee before opening his own.

     “Thanks” Kageyama mumbled, struggling to open the can with one hand. Hinata made a little ‘oh!’ sound before turning and opening the can for him. The taller boy nodded his thanks again before taking a drink.

     They sat in silence for a while, watching the world go by before Hinata finally spoke, “I told myself when I found you that I didn’t need any answers, but it’s been eating me up inside.”

     Kageyama blinked at him over his coffee and scowled. He sighed heavily and shook his head. “I can’t promise you answers.” Hinata nodded at this, looking down at his feet. Kageyama was surprised at this acceptance, expecting the redhead to push harder. He noticed Hinata’s hands fidgeting on the can, realizing that he hadn’t really accepted the answer, he was just trying to contain his curiosity. With a deep sigh he finished his coffee and handed the can over to the other boy, before taking the crutch under one arm and standing. It definitely helped, but the process was still uncomfortable, and borderline painful. “Come on, we’ll talk while we walk.”

     Hinata nearly shot out of his seat as if the bench was suddenly lava. Quickly he finished his own coffee and recycled both cans before falling into slow step with his companion.

     “Ask, I’ll answer what I can.”

     Hinata walked in silence, pondering his question with the entirety of his attention. Kageyama had to stop him from walking into a lamp post twice along the way.

     “Black Dahlia. What’s the deal with that?”

     “What do you mean?”

     Hinata bit his bottom lip and rubbed the back of his head, “Well, I mean… some of them looked rather thuggish, and it’s not exactly in a safe part of town… Are they… you know?”

     “Affiliated?” Kageyama interjected, getting irritated at Hinata beating around the bush, “Yes and no. The owner Ukai, and his son are part of Sumiyoshi-kai… it’s a branch of the Yakuza, and a big one at that. A few others at the lounge are considered Ukai’s Kubon… but I’ve never shared sake. Most of us are just employees, but that isn’t to say we are completely uninvolved.” He trudged along slowly, his wounds feeling uncomfortable. Between him talking and Hinata’s pondering, they’d been walking for about ten minutes.

     They rounded a corner to an empty park, and Kageyama made his way to a spot of grass under the shade of a tree. He all but collapsed into the greenery with relief.

     “You look tired, perhaps we should-” Hinata began.

     “A little longer, just let me rest for a few minutes.” Kageyama sighed, laying back on the grass and closing his eyes.

     “Alright…” Silence fell between them once again, though it didn’t last for long, “So how does that work? You not being affiliated but working for the Yakuza.”

     “There’s a lot I can’t talk about- but, really I’m just like any other employee,” at first Kageyama was going to leave it at that, “Well, maybe not like any other employee- you see, I, uh… I was a street kid. Hell, most of us were.” He could feel Hinata staring at him, and it made his face feel hot with embarrassment or shame, he wasn’t sure which. “Ukai-sama… found me stealing a few years back, along with some of his Yakuza brothers. The others started beating me up, probably would have killed me had Ukai not stepped in and taken responsibility for me. He fed me, clothed me, and put me to work in his lounge as a dishwasher. That’s where I met everyone, back before it was the Dahlia. It was just some grungy gang hideout kitchen at the time.”
He twirled some grass between his fingers before continuing, “ I was sixteen then, practically feral. The other kids had been picked up by him and his foster-father over the years, they raised us all, taught us to read and count, then put us to work. It was a system that was beneficial for everyone. Eventually some joined up, the rest just moved on when their time came, or stayed with Ukai-sama, as I did. He’s the only father figure I’ve ever known.”

     Hinata was uncharacteristically silent. Kageyama opened his eyes and looked over at the man. He was sitting upright with his legs crossed, arms outstretched behind him to carry his weight. He looked relaxed, but his face was furrowed in a scowl.

     “Those guys back there, they’re my friends, the closest thing I’ve ever had to a family. We’d die for each other given the chance- which is a distinct possibility.” This got Hinata’s attention. His large eyes snapped down to stare at Kageyama, his face still screwed into a scowl.

     “Why? Why do you put yourself in danger?”

     “Why do you work too many jobs and exhaust yourself?”

     “Because Nats-”

     “Exactly,” Kageyama cut in, “Your family needs you. I’ve got people at Dahlia who can’t keep their nose out of trouble for more than a few days at a time, and we’ve got our own troubles we can’t exactly run away from. We put ourselves in danger for each other. So we can all wake up another day together.”

     There were unshed tears in Hinata’s eyes as he spoke, “Damn, I didn’t know you were the poetic type.”

     The pair sat in silence for a moment before chuckling, “Yeah, I kind of surprised myself there too.” He could feel his perpetual scowl melt away into a relaxed grin.

     Hinata stared at him, and whispered, “That’s nice.”

     Blue eyes blinked, “W-what is?”

     Flushing, Hinata looked back at the sky, avoiding eye contact, “Your smile, it’s the first time I’ve seen it.”

     “One in a million chance, consider yourself lucky.” Kageyama attempted humour to shed off the feeling of embarrassment that was creeping up his spine.

     They sat for a bit longer before Hinata helped the taller boy off the ground, and they set off towards the apartment.

---

     That night after the ritual sponge bath (which was still embarrassing despite it being a daily event), Hinata sat next to him on the futon and redressed his wounds. The bruising had lessened in the last week, and the stitches were more itchy than sensitive now.

     “So how did it happen?” Hinata let his fingers brush feather light over the skin next to the stab wound. Kageyama felt a cold chill run over his exposed flesh, making the hairs on his arms stand on end.

     “I was out with Nishinoya-san,” Hinata had figured as much based on his brief meeting with the short employee, “We were kicking around a hacky-sack he’d picked up in a small park by the river, and drinking beer. Night time, quiet, nobody around.”

     Hinata gently applied ointment to the stitching, pausing when Kageyama inhaled in discomfort, before continuing.

     “Not much of a problem since neither of us are affiliated, but tensions have been rising between families, and non-yakuza gangs. A group of guys, maybe six or seven came rolling up with some girls… most of them were drunk or high I think.” Kageyama watched Hinata work, his voice was even, and slightly sluggish from sleep- the sponge bath always made him this way. Despite the embarrassment, it did feel pretty damn good. Soaking in relaxation afterglow, he continued; “They didn’t like us being on their turf, Noya-san and I decided it wasn’t worth our trouble, so we grabbed our cans and started to leave. We’d gotten out of the park and were about to round the corner when one of the guys started hassling a girl. She was clearly not enjoying the advances and was being rather vocal about it.”

     Hinata continued his work making sure not to interrupt the strangely talkative man. Perhaps he needed to get this off his chest. He’d been talking more today than he had in the past week they’d been staying together.

     “Noya-san decided to be a white knight after one of the guys slugged the girl… sure I wanted to help but we were seriously outnumbered. Noya-san went running in, and I quickly called Daichi-san and let him know where we were and that we were in trouble, then I followed the idiot into the fray. By the time I got involved Noya-san had taken one guy down and most of the women had run off. That just made the brutes more angry. We fought, and got our asses handed to us- as to be expected. I think I at least hospitalised a few.” He sounded almost proud of that; “I didn’t see the last guy pull the knife though. He ran up with it concealed in his jacket, I felt it… but one of the other guys had grabbed something from the ground and bashed my head. I remember having a vague idea that I was bleeding, I could hear Noya-san shouting, and then other voices approaching- probably Daichi-san and the rest… I’ll have to ask when I see them.” He rubbed his head with his uninjured hand, thinking; “Everything after the blow to the head is kinda fuzzy. I must have stumbled near the water, and either fell into the river, or got pushed in. Not sure.”

     Kageyama stayed silent after that, looking down at his hands while Hinata bandaged his wounds.

     “Th-that sounds terrifying.” The redhead finally spoke, sitting back to put away the medical equipment.

     “It certainly wasn’t fun, but I’ve always been a scrappy kid. First time for getting stabbed through.” Kageyama was so nonchalant about the ordeal, Hinata simply blinked at him.

     “W-what about the drowning? You didn’t have a nightmare last night I don’t think…”

     Kageyama hesitated, and chewed on his bottom lip, “The thought of being completely enveloped in water makes my lungs feel like they're filling, and like iron weights are attached to my legs…” His hands were shaking, and his chest felt tight even thinking about it. “I can’t remember if I dream ab-” his breath caught in his chest and his eyes went wide. Why couldn’t he breathe? His body was tense and his muscles felt like they were on fire.

     “K-kageyama? Kageyama!” Hinata was at his side again, gripping his shoulders, “Take a deep breath-”

     The taller boy gasped as if his life depended on it, his hands both grasped onto Hinata’s wrists as he heaved, hyperventilating. He ignored the splitting pain in his injured wrist, focused entirely on the feeling of being out of water and still feeling like he was drowning.

     Suddenly the redhead was wrapping his arms around him, his arm pulling free of Kageyama’s injured and weak grip to snake around behind him and rub circles on his back. Kageyama was tense like a wire, shaking in the embrace. “In through your nose- out through your mouth, fill your lungs completely.” Hinata’s voice had a quiver to it, but he spoke calmly. His other hand he managed to wrestle free, wrapping it around the panicked boy to hold the back of his head. He made calming shushing sounds, slowly rocking the man.

     Kageyama felt tears running down his cheeks, but he was focused now on Hinata’s words. He forced a ragged breath in… held it for a moment, and slowly let it escape. His body began to sag in Hinata’s arms, so the smaller boy began to adjust to the new weight distribution. Hinata sat back, and pulled on Kageyama to follow. “S-sorry, you’re too heavy for me to kneel like that.”

     Kageyama didn’t respond, he just kept trying to breathe, assisting with the movement as best he could. The goal was to get Kageyama in his lap- or so the taller boy assumed, but with their mismatched body sizes and weight, Hinata was pushed backwards further, until he was laying down with Kageyama resting his head on his chest. It… was actually very comforting, having the smaller boy rubbing his back and gently playing with his hair. Kageyama ignored the fact that they were essentially cuddling, and focused on stopping the panic attack. He closed his eyes and listened to the pounding sound beneath his ear, the soothing thrum of life beneath him.

     Hinata’s fingers were soft with their touches, his heart slowly calming down from the initial pounding. “S-sorry- I didn’t mean to cause…” His voice broke at that, his soothing strokes hesitating for a moment before continuing. Kageyama slowly nodded against his chest, his tears staining the shirt beneath him.

     “Mmhm, ‘s’okay,” He mumbled, not opening his eyes. “S’rry for crushing you.” His voice was raspy with fatigue, every ounce of energy had escaped him in the attack. Despite being calmed down, he still felt a pit of fear gnawing at his insides.

     “N-no! It’s alright, stay where you are as long as you want. I don’t mind.” The redhead exclaimed, sounding somewhat nervous.

     A few minutes later, with Hinata still playing with his hair and rubbing circles across his shoulder blades, the smaller man shifted. Panic rose in Kageyama suddenly, as if the flotation device he’d been depending on was suddenly getting away from him. He wrapped his arms around the boy, taking care not to hurt his arm any more, his legs taking one of Hinata’s hostage. Blue eyes opened to see Hinata reaching for a pillow with the hand that had been entangled in his hair. He pulled the pillow to him by the corner and stuffed it under the back of his head. The sky had grown darker in just the last thirty-minutes of his attack, the only light in the room coming from the dim lamp in the far corner. “Sorry, just needed this…” He explained, patting the pillow behind his head. His hand returned to the raven’s hair, and slowly but surely Kageyama drifted off to sleep.

---

     He was warm. Uncharacteristically so for mid October. He slowly opened his eyes, only to be greeted with the side of someone’s neck. He paused for a moment, waiting for the world to come into focus, and began to survey his surroundings. He was half laying on top of Hinata, with his face nuzzled into the side of the smaller man’s neck. He vaguely recalled getting into a similar position during the night when he’d had his panic attack, and based off of that knowledge he was able to deduce that in his sleep he’d managed to shimmy up the side of the smaller man to move his face from on top of his chest. During the process, he’d pulled Hinata’s shirt with him, his hand pressed against naked flesh… under his shirt. He stared down at his forearm, which disappeared under the fabric near his wrist. He lay there completely frozen, staring at their bodies moulded together. Something in his lower stomach suddenly ached- which was not his stab wound, he noticed-, and he felt his face heat up with burning embarrassment as another part of his body decided to wake up once he was greeted with the naked flesh of Hinata’s abdomen.

     Hinata stirred under him, mumbling something in his sleep. Kageyama prayed he wouldn’t wake up, his eyes flicking to the small digital clock next to the lamp which was for some reason off. Perhaps Natsu had come in to switch it off… then Natsu had seen them like this. How embarrassing, Kageyama internally groaned. His body reacted again to Hinata moving around in his sleep. He cursed his weak self control, and decided it would be best to move, whether it hurt or not.

     It was only five in the morning, hopefully that meant Hinata would be in a deep enough sleep not to be woken by Kageyama’s movement. The raven haired man shifted, using what little strength he had in his state, and rolled off of the redhead, onto his back.
He didn’t realise that while he’d been holding onto Hinata, Hinata had also been holding onto him, his arm that had been under Kageyama was laced and tangled through the taller man’s arm and was stuck. Kageyama’s movement must have hurt Hinata enough to cause the smaller man to groan. The sound went directly into Kageyama’s crotch. Dammit, how was he going to take care of this?

     Hinata shifted further in his sleep, rolling one way to try to get comfortable, before rolling back towards Kageyama. In the end, they ended up in reversed positions, with Hinata half on top of Kageyama, and Kageyama laying on his back trying his hardest to mentally force away the growing problem in his shorts.

     Hinata whimpered slightly in his sleep, drawing some curiosity from the raven-haired. He nuzzled his face against Kageyama’s chest, his arm tightening across Kageyama’s bare torso. This was not helping! Dammit, Dammit! Kageyama internally screamed. Hinata’s own shirt was still pulled up, nearly to his armpits, a pink nipple was exposed to the air. Kageyama pinched his eyes closed and pushed the back of his sore head against the floor, seeing as he didn’t have a pillow beneath him. He’d thought about men before, but he’d never actually done anything with one, yet all he could think about right then was how soft Hinata’s skin was, how pink his nipple had been, puckered to the sudden exposure of air.

     “K-kageyama…” Blue eyes shot open as he looked down at the smaller man. It had been all but a whisper, if not a whimper. A deep sigh escaped the small body, as he pressed his form against the injured man.

     Kageyama sighed and shut his eyes again, “Fuck.”

     He didn’t sleep any more that night.

Chapter Text

Hinata’s POV

     The pair hadn’t spoken much that morning. Rather, Kageyama had avoided conversation altogether. Hinata had tried multiple times to apologise for clinging onto him like some sort of sea creature, however Kageyama brushed him off, choosing to bury his nose in one of Hinata’s textbooks as a distraction. Despite the taller man’s attempts to block his face with the Biology text, Hinata often caught a glimpse of red ears. What on earth was the man so grumpy about? Was it that big of deal that they woke in such a position? To Hinata, it seemed like something worth laughing lightly over, before moving on… but he had to admit, he knew very little about the other man still, perhaps he’d really made him uncomfortable.

     The redhead squirmed in his seat, his own eyes drifting between the taller man, and his own text: Dynamics of Motor Skill Acquisition. Thrilling. With a sigh he tried to focus, however that focus was short lived as the shrill ringing of the phone pierced the silence. The sound jarred him enough for the textbook to slide off of his lap, adding to the noise. He jumped to his feet and ran to the phone, catching it on the third ring.

     “Hello?”

     There was no response. Hinata could faintly make out the sound of cars in the background, and some breathing.

     “Hello? Who is this?”

     The sound of breathing continued. Hinata could hear movement coming from his room, and soon a head popped around the corner, “Who is it? Noya-san?”

     The petite lounge staff member had taken to calling Hinata every so often to check on Kageyama, however Hinata doubted this was him. He shook his head at Kageyama, his brow furrowing. The breathing stopped for a moment at the sound of Kageyama’s voice, as it made it faintly through the receiver, then suddenly the line went dead.

     Hinata pulled the phone away from his ear as the dial tone rang out. “T-they hung up, without even saying anything.”

     Kageyama frowned. Suddenly he approached to stand next to the short redhead, “Is your number listed in the directory?” The directory was used primarily for businesses, but sometimes landlines were also listed. Hinata shook his head. “That’s good, probably just a misdial.”

     Hinata nodded, but something in his gut was feeling off- and it wasn’t their breakfast. That phone call had spooked him. Kageyama touched his shoulder, looking a bit worried, “It’s probably nothing Hinata-san.”

---

     Another week passed without incident, however five more calls were sent to Hinata’s home, each time no voice came through, just ambient city noise and breath. Yachi answered one of the calls as Hinata was in class, and she too found it very unsettling.

     Hinata sat on the floor, watching the small blonde check on Kageyama’s wounds. “How’s mobility?”

     “Not bad, I’m using the crutch less, and it doesn’t hurt to do things like bathe on my own, or sit up in bed.” Kageyama reported. Yachi nodded, checking his wrist and elbow.

     “So I’m not going to re-splint your arm, however I want you to take it easy, no getting into fights!” She scolded, handing over a small wrist brace. “Wear this for another week, and slowly cut down on wearing it and begin doing light stretching. Your wound is healing nicely- I’m impressed you didn’t get an infection, being in that river…”

     Kageyama nodded, looking down at the stitching that she was beginning to cover with bandages. “Let’s keep these stitches in for two more weeks. Keep putting on the ointment, and bandages.” With that she stood up and removed her gloves. “You should be alright to head home. Do you live with anyone who can make sure there are no complications?”

     Kageyama nodded, “I’ve got friends as neighbours.” His eyes met with Hinata’s, who looked like he wanted to know more, “Uh, Noya-san and Tanaka-san live on either side of me. The property is owned by Ukai-sama, so most of us live on it.” Hinata nodded slowly, trying to figure out which one of the men he saw at the lounge was Tanaka.

     Hinata thanked Yachi, and showed her out, but before she left she turned to Hinata and spoke in a quiet voice, trying to offer some privacy from Kageyama, “I hate to be a nag… have you, uh, had any luck looking for work? Natsu-chan was over again last night, she’s worried.” Hinata visibly deflated, rubbing the back of his head. “Not yet. The folks at the Dahlia have been supplying me with funds for now, so this month won’t be a problem, but I’ll need to find something immediately. She touched his shoulder and smiled, “If you need some burden taken off, Natsu-chan is welcome to stay with me as long as you both need.”

     “Thanks, you’ve been a lifesaver- literally.” Hinata chuckled, waving her goodbye. When he turned around, Kageyama was standing in the door, leaning against the frame with his arms crossed.

     “You haven’t been able to work because of me…” He muttered, looking down.

     “It’ll be alright, we’ve been worse off before, your health was more important, and we’ve got people looking out for us.” Hinata said, embarrassed.

     “I’m going to go back home tonight. The sooner our lives both go back to normal, the better.”

     That caught the redhead off guard. He blinked. He’d become so accustomed to the man being around, he could hardly imagine the apartment without him in it.

     “A-are you sure?”

     “Mm.” Kageyama turned and walked back into the room. His steps were still a little off, but he walked with a straight back again, and his speed was closer to normal. He slowly knelt and began to gather his belongings in the bag Noya had prepared for him.

     “Y-you don’t have to leave right away, it’s the evening- wouldn’t it be safer to go in the morning?”

     “You should use the morning to job hunt instead of babysitting me.” He grumbled. Once everything was in his bag, he shouldered it on his good side, pushing past the redhead to the door. Hinata watched him put on his shoes, almost in shock. Kageyama stood and opened the door, wincing at using the wrist in the brace.

     “H-here, let me walk you to the station.” He grabbed the crutch, and stepped forward.

     “Not necessary.” Kageyama declined, stepping out of the door. He paused, his ears red as he looked over his shoulder. “You- you’ve already done too much. I don’t know how I’m gonna repay you, but I swear, one day I will.” The promise rang through the air, and all Hinata could do was stand there in open mouthed silence. Then the door closed between them and Kageyama was gone.

     Hinata sat on the stoop for a while before finally standing. He needed to stop worrying about Kageyama. His hand clenched around the crutch- ah shit! He left the crutch! Hinata smacked his forehead with his palm. He had no idea how far Kageyama had gotten, through the stubborn man would probably reject the instrument out of principle. He was leaving, therefore he was fine. Stubborn bastard.

     The redhead moved to the phone, and quickly dialled the number given to him by Noya.

     “Hello?” The voice was familiar.

     “Ah, Nishinoya-san? It’s Hinata Shoyou.”

     There was a moment of silence before a deep breath, “I-is he okay?”

     “You’ll see soon for yourself- he’s headed home now.”

     Hinata had to pull the earpiece away from his head at the man’s shout of joy, “It’s about damn time!”

     “He’s still in rough shape though… so, uh, could someone go and check on him tonight?”

     “Oh, yeah, of course! Uh…. Thanks again, what you did… it was honestly amazing.”

     Hinata felt his face heat up, “N-no need for that. Just make sure he gets home in one piece, kay?”

     “Kay.”

     They ended the call after that, and suddenly Hinata felt very alone. The apartment was so quiet. It was uncomfortable.

---

     He’d received a call the next morning from Sugawara-san, reporting that not only had Kageyama made it home, but he was in high spirits. Hinata was glad, but a small part of him was sad that Kageyama was so happy to be out of his apartment, even though he had every right to be ecstatic. Kageyama was home. Hinata shook the thought away while he made his way to class. As he neared the train station he noticed a man in a hoodie on a cell phone, leaning against a lamp post. The man wasn’t saying anything, just blankly staring forward with the phone to his ear. Hinata ignored him and entered the station.

     As he approached the ticket gate, he felt a strange sensation of being watched. He peeked behind his shoulder and saw the man with the phone watching him. A chill ran down his spine, and he quickly made his way to the train without looking back again.

     Once he was off of the train, he all but ran to his campus. Class distracted him for the most part regarding the staring stranger, but once the lecture was over, he found himself frozen to his chair. Why on earth was he so afraid? The moment he’d seen the man he’d felt this sense of foreboding that he just couldn’t shake. Before he left campus, he found a payphone and quickly dialled home. Natsu’s voice greeted him warily.

     “H-hello?”

     “Natsu-chan?”

     “Oh thank goodness, oniisan! Someone keeps calling, but not saying anything! It’s been three times since I got home from school.” Hinata felt his stomach drop.

     “Natsu, I want you to pack some clothes for the next few days and go stay with Yachi-san, okay? I don’t know what’s going on, but I want you to stay there until we can get it figured out.”

     “Oniisan, I’m scared, you should stay with Yachi-neesan too.”

     “No, because if this is about Kageyama-san then they could have found our address by following me, and they’d be able to continue to follow me to you two. It’s safer if I stay alone, or go to Kageyama-san’s.” He could hear her voice shake when she spoke next,

     “Oniisan what is happening?”

     “I don’t know. Just hurry and go to Yachi-chan’s I’ll call you in the morning, okay?”

     “O-okay.”

     Next he phoned Yachi, and filled her in on what was happening. She agreed to look after Natsu, and also warned him to be safe. Once that was settled, he set off for home at a brisk pace. The faster he could get behind his locked door the better.

---

     In reality, a man staring at him at a station shouldn’t be enough to spook him, but with the Kageyama incident, along with the creepy phone calls… Hinata was well past spooked. He’d call the Dahlia the moment he got home.

     Strangely enough the streets were all but deserted in his neighbourhood. A quiet sleepy part of town. Brown eyes flicked this way and that, but there were no stalkers hiding in shadows to be seen. He let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding as he reached his building. Unlocking the door, he stepped inside and felt his body relax. Safe. Hinata moved further into the building and up to his floor before unlocking his door and stepping inside.

     As he had been walking, he’d been thinking about the events leading to now. Kageyama had mentioned gang tensions rising, however both he and Nishinoya-san were unaffiliated… had the attack simply been them getting involved where they shouldn’t have been? It seemed to convenient for gang members to show up in force to hassle the pair. Then there was the tension he’d felt at the Dahlia when he’d brought up Kageyama, as if they were expecting another attack… and now these phone calls. Was it random? Or had Kageyama and Noya been targeted? He closed the door behind him and flicked on the lights. The apartment remained dark.

     “What the…” Hinata muttered, not bothering to take off his shoes before taking a step into the apartment. He gently set down his backpack, and walked towards where the floor lamp should have been next to the sofa. Glass crunched underfoot, and a breeze brushed his cheek.

     Hinata’s stomach dropped again. He froze, and listened carefully. He could hear the outside distant sounds of the city, however he was sure he’d closed all of the windows before leaving, and there was no way Natsu would have been foolish enough to leave one open. Then there was the glass on the ground. Hinata took another step forward, his outstretched hand feeling nothing but air. There should have been a lamp there. He took a step to the right and felt his shin hit something. His hands lowered to find the sofa flipped onto it’s back. He gulped. He started to back away towards the front door again, slowly, quietly. He could try knocking on a neighbour's door, perhaps borrow a phone to call the cops, and a flashlight to see the damage.

     Before he could get to the door however, a sound came from the kitchen to his right. He turned blindly in the dark towards the sound and was greeted with a fist in his abdomen.

     Air exploded out of his mouth and nose, along with an unhealthy amount of saliva. He wheezed as he crumpled to the floor, his arms hugging himself tightly. Footsteps came from beside him, where the bedrooms were, and in front of him where the kitchen now was. Hinata pushed himself to his knees, and tried to make a break for the door. Fingers grabbed his hair and yanked him back onto the floor, his shoulder blades hitting painfully. A foot made contact with his side, causing him to cough noisily.

     “H-HELP!” He managed to cry out, his voice cracked and in pain. A large set of hands found his throat, and began squeezing, cutting off his voice.

     He clawed as if his life depended on it- hell, it just might have. His fingers first tried to claw at the hands strangling him, before he gave up and started swinging for the assailant’s face. A few times he made shallow contact before the perpetrator shook him. He was running out of air fast, and the world was spinning. His hearing was leaving him along with his strength to lift his arms. He gave a final attempt, kicking out towards the man with both feet.

     Contact. The hands released him as the assailant stumbled back. Hinata gasped for breath, and scrambled to where he thought the door was, only to crawl directly into the bathroom door. A hand grabbed his head and slammed it against the door, once, twice… the world was already black, but he was losing consciousness. He could feel the pull. Feet began to kick at his form as he slid down to the floor, limp, and without fight.

     Natsu. Had she gotten away in time?

---

     “Shoyou-chan! What on earth… you’re covered in dirt again!” He could see her silhouette, the lavender skirt covered partially by a worn apron. She had a basket of folded linen next to her, and the smell of fresh laundry, and a countryside summer filled the air. He couldn’t see her face though, the sun behind her was too bright.

     “I didn’t fight! I promise!” His voice was small, many years younger.

     She approached, and crouched with a damp cloth. Suddenly large brown eyes came into view, crow’s feet giving away her age to an otherwise young face. Gently she began to clean him, sighing as she did so. “What was it this time?”

     “They were making fun of me because I’m bad at sports! I showed them though! Their speed was nothing compared to mine!”

     Her laugh was like bells, floating through the warm breeze. “I must say, most people don’t win their battles by running, but I am glad my precious boy is smart enough to outwit those bullies!” She gently pinched his nose. He smiled fully and giggled. “Let me guess, you took them through the valley road shortcut trail?”

     “It’ll take them a couple of hours to get out of that one!”

     “They could get lost, or hurt you know…”

     "Serves them right!”

     “Shoyou!” She scolded, brows furrowing.

     He sighed, “I’m sorry.”

     “You’ll be saying that to their mothers if anything happens to those boys- bullies or not.”

     He nodded while pouting and received a pinch on the nose again. “I’ll make dinner once I collect the last bit of laundry. Go get cleaned up, and then help your sister.” He nodded again, and ran inside, looking over his shoulder once to see her slender form stand again to be silhouetted by the sunlight.

 

---

 

     Such a lovely dream, he didn’t want to wake. It had been so long since he’d dreamt of his mother, he was nearly brought to tears upon opening his eyes. The sense of loss ate at him as if he’d just lost her yesterday. Brown eyes opened slowly, sluggishly. They felt crusty and uncomfortable. He tried to raise his hands up to clear them, but found he was unable to. His arms were bound behind him with what felt like a zip-tie, the thin plastic biting painful cuts into his wrists. Hinata cried out in surprise, his voice muffled by the cloth gag pinching at the corners of his mouth. He was currently laying on his side on a basement floor, facing a cement wall. What the hell had happened? He’d been heading home… oh, right. They’d been in his apartment- whoever they were.

     The sound of a door opening behind him caused the small man to tense, trying to lay as still as possible. “It’s been hours, ‘ow ‘ard did you ‘it ‘em?” The voice sounded like it came from a heavier man, who smoked three packs a day, and his accent sounded like he wasn’t from the city.

     “He was fighting back, bastard nearly took my eyes out!” A young voice, probably no older than he, and judging by the words, probably the man who had done the majority of the beating and holding.

     “Idiot, you can’t ‘andle a little squirt? What do we pay you for?” A whump! Followed by some coughing filled the room, presumably the rougher sounding man had punched the other.

     Footsteps approached, and the redhead shut his eyes, pretending to be unconscious. A boot found prize in his side, pressing down on him until he dropped the facade, sobbing into the gag. “Mnnnph! Mmphh…” Hinata cried, trying to tell them to stop.

     The large man stepping on him chuckled deeply and applied more weight. Hinata screamed into the gag and nearly vomited at the pain. He was pretty sure the man was going to break a rib.

     The man alleviated the pressure by raising his foot for a moment, warranting a sigh from the small man laying on his side. Suddenly he slammed his foot back down in a stomping motion, successfully breaking a rib or two with a resulting snap!

     Everything went white for a moment, as Hinata’s ears rang painfully. It wasn’t until the ringing passed that he realised he’d been screaming. The men laughed. The big one crouched down and grabbed Hinata by the hair, lifting him partially off the floor, “Now kiddo- why don’t you be a good boy and tell me where the crow is hiding?”

     Hinata felt tears running down his face, pulling away flecks of blood that had dried around his eyes and cheeks from a wound on his forehead. The man smelled terrible of smoke, but now that his face was only inches away, Hinata was greeted with yellowing teeth, and rotten breath. He pulled off the gag to let the redhead speak… but Hinata remained silent. Who was the crow they were speaking of?

     “Where is the fucking crow!” The man shook him painfully by the hair.

     “If I go bald…” Hinata breathed, trying to speak through a ragged throat, “I’m going to kill you.”

     The two men were silent for a moment, before bursting out laughing. “Alright then kiddo, let’s ask you questions, nice and proper.” This was from the younger man, who Hinata could see was sporting a set of claw marks across his cheek, and neck. The man exited the room for a moment and returned with a chair, placing it in the middle of the room. The larger man lifted Hinata and moved him to the seat, placing him down with his arms behind the back of the chair. It was uncomfortable and made him feel vulnerable.

     “Let’s try this again, squirt- Where-” Mr. Smoker began, spacing out his question with pauses between every word, “Is. The. Damn. Crow.”

     “I don’t even-” Hinata coughed, straining against the bindings, “know who you’re talking about.”

     The older man grit his teeth and punched Hinata in the belly. “You think we’re fucking dumb? We ‘ad people at that scummy lounge when you showed up, you’re a friend of ‘is, right?” He spat to the side, “We know the rat bastard is alive, we ‘eard ‘is voice over your phone.” Spittle flew at that last word. Shit, so these were the men responsible for those wordless calls.

     The younger man walked up and slapped Hinata across the face, being none to careful with his nails. A shallow cut opened on top of Hinata’s cheekbone. “Where is that Dahlia brat? Hm?”

     Hinata paused, and then chuckled lightly, “Not that I find this situation funny-” He began, shoulders shaking out of both laughter, and fear, “but it’s a bit ironic. You guys call me for days, and days… and when you finally make your move, it’s the day after he’s left.” A fist collided with the side of his head, making his eyes roll back into his head, and his body momentarily fall limp as he wavered out of consciousness before managing to regain some sense of reality. Apparently they didn’t find it very amusing.

     “Where the fuck did he go then?” The younger one asked, snarling.

     “The one place you can’t touch him.” Hinata slurred groggily.

     “What, you think we can’t get him at the police station boy?”

     Hinata laughed again, and their faces fell as they realised what he was saying, “No, idiots- He’s back home. At the Dahlia.”

     Hinata expected another hit, but it never came. Instead, the two men walked to the door and began arguing in hushed voices. Hinata couldn’t catch all of what they were saying but he managed to pick up a few things; “Boss ain’t gonna be happy ‘bout this…”

     “Since we tracked the shrimps to the park, Ukai’s gang has closed ranks, it’s nearly impossible to get to them with their guard up, the stray crow was our one chance at drawing the old bastard out.”

     The pair lowered their voices further, and Hinata lost what they were saying. From the sounds of it, they were trying to use Kageyama to expose someone. Hinata deduced that the incident at the park was not random. They’d rolled up in a large number when two Dahlia members were alone, and had taunted them into making the first move by using the girl. He couldn’t guarantee his suspicions were accurate, but he’d be willing to bet they were.

     Before he could ponder further, the men were approaching again. One lifted him, and tossed him roughly on the floor while the other took the chair back. Hinata felt the air leave his chest at the impact and groaned. “Someone will be back to play with you later, boy.” The younger assailant taunted, leaving the room. To his partner he muttered, “I guess we have to report this…” He did not sound enthusiastic in the least.

 

---

     Hinata had no idea how long he’d been down there. Hours? Days? There was a small drain in the floor that Hinata had managed to crawl to after painfully squeezing his legs through the tight hole between his elbows, but finally his arms were in front of him. He used that drain to relieve himself, now able to work his fly with his hands forwards. From there he moved back to the wall, tucking himself in the dark corner. It was damp and cold, his wrists were rubbed raw and bloody and he was chilled and thirsty. Never before had he felt quite this uncomfortable.

     Over the hours he worked on tearing bits of fabric off of his shirt, stuffing it between the zip ties and his mangled wrists. He needed some sort of barrier. At some point he fell asleep.

When he woke he was so hungry that he began dry heaving, which only made his broken ribs hurt all the more. He was endlessly fatigued, thirsty, hungry, terrified… lonely. Tears welled up in his eyes as he sobbed quietly into the empty room, the sounds muffled by his knees which were pulled up to his chest.

     The door opened, and a small man with dark eyes and greasy hair entered, holding a small tray with him. He approached carefully and set it in the middle of the room before retreating.

     Hinata waited until he was gone, and slowly crawled forward with what little strength he had. The tray was covered, so he carefully pulled off the black cloth. Underneath was a small bowl, quarter filled with miso soup, and a small bowl of rice. A water canteen accompanied the food. There were no utensils. Hinata dug in without second thought. Using his dirty fingers to shovel the rice into his mouth, washing it down with a swig of the nearly cold soup. The meal took no time to finish, and Hinata immediately wished he’d savoured it.

     It wasn’t five minutes before his body began rejecting the food due to the speed in which he ate on a very empty stomach. He vomited into the drain and began sobbing. How long would he be trapped down here? He was starving, dehydrated, and injured. Would he be left down here to rot as their prisoner forever? Or… he thought about the door swinging open, the sound of fighting filling the air behind it as Kageyama ran through, straight to him, throwing his arms around his shaking form. He could almost feel the man’s warmth wrapped around him as he lay on his side on the cold floor. The smell that came from their shared shampoo washing over him with the imaginary tickle of glossy black hair. Deep blue eyes would blink at him in worry, gentle hands running over his body to check for injuries. He’d carry him out of there, after wrapping him in a sweater, and let him sleep for days, curled up together.

     Tears streaked down his face, clearing grime from his skin. He sobbed loudly this time. He wanted Kageyama at his side. At least he knew he and Natsu were safe.

---

     The next time he woke, it was the man with food again. This time, he ate slowly, and took breaks, making sure to savour everything, and digest properly. He did dry heave a bit, but he kept everything down. Again, later the man returned to retrieve the dishes.

     He slept more, before again being awoken by the door. This time a group of men entered, the light from the open door hurting his eyes which had become accustomed to the darkness of the cell. The man in the front was dressed in a classic kimono style with a cane, and a haori jacket hanging loosely over his shoulders. He was young, despite his dress, and brought with him an entourage of men wearing a mixture of common hoodlum fashion, and black suits.

     “Apologies that it has taken me so long to greet my guest.” His voice was like silk as he spoke, standing a few feet away from Hinata, and looking down upon his shivering form. “You smell terrible, I can’t have you entering my compound in such a state.”

     With that he turned away, and retreated out of the room. The men dressed in street clothes approached and picked Hinata up by his armpits and dragged him out of the room. Hinata cried out in pain at both his ribs and his eyes burning from the exposure to fluorescent lights.

     They dragged him up out of the basement, his ankles and knees banging roughly against each step. At the top of the stairs they took a right down a hall. Finally they arrived in another room with small windows, barred and near the ceiling. Attached to the room was a tile covered bathroom. They dragged him in, and cut off the zip ties with a knife. One man held that blade to his throat and seethed, “Try anything boy, and you’ll get this in your windpipe.”

     Hinata gulped, his adam’s apple running across the blade and opening a shallow cut. The blade was put away, and he slowly nodded. Even with the ties off, there were still lots of thuggish men in the next room, and two in the bathroom with him. On top of that, he had no strength to fight back in his current state. The two men pulled off his dirty clothes, stained with blood, bodily fluids, and grime. One gagged at the smell that Hinata could no longer notice after days of sitting in his own filth.

     “Get in.” Hinata tried to stand, but his knees wouldn’t support him. He hadn’t really visibly lost weight, which made him think he’d only been down there for a few days, five at most. Naked, and with some assistance, he stepped into the tile basin, using the wall for support as the two men used the shower head to spray him down. “Hand.” The man commanded. Hinata held out his hand, the water stinging his open wounds terribly. His wrists were a bloody mess. There was no way they wouldn’t scar. Whoever had put on the zip ties hadn’t wanted to take any chances and had put them on way to tight.

     The man squirted body gel into his hand, while the other moved the water stream off of his body. Hinata weakly, and carefully began to wash his body, dark brown water pooling in the basin before running down the drain. Once his body was covered, the man pointed the shower head at him again to rinse. They did this three times for his body, and twice for his hair. By the time he was finished, his already damaged skin felt raw.

     They roughly towel dried him before helping him into new clothes. They almost looked like hospital pyjamas, pale green pants with no pockets, or strings, and a white t-shirt, and slip on shoes. Nothing he could use to escape, or harm himself. Upon exiting the bathroom, he noticed the man in kimono had returned to the room.

     He was tall, easily 196cm. He had broad shoulders, and long auburn hair, tied back in a traditional style tail. His face was narrow and elegant, with a straight nose, and emerald eyes. In any other situation, Hinata would have described him as being beautiful, but all Hinata could see was horrible. This man was in charge of these thugs. He was responsible for what Kageyama went through, what he was going through.

     “Much better.” The man said, looking Hinata up and down as if judging the worth of a prize horse. “Tell me boy, what is your name.” Hinata remained silent. A thug stepped closer, fist raised, Hinata felt his knees buckle as he collapsed to them on the floor, his shaking arms raising to cover his head. “Now, now… none of that. The velvety voice cooed. Feet stepped into Hinata’s limited view, before the man crouched before him. Slender fingers reached under his protective arms, and touched his chin, lifting it with little force to make eye contact. Hinata lowered his arms, his whole body quivering. “Bad things need not happen to you, so long as you do as you’re told.”

     Hinata gulped again, deciding to remain silent.

     The man tilted his head, a strand of hair that wasn’t contained in the hair tie rested on his cheek, “Come now boy, your name… I do hate to be kept waiting.”

     Despite his soft voice and smile, there was a coldness in his eyes that scared Hinata more than the threat of a raised fist. “H-Hinata Shoyou.”

     “Hmmm, Hinata-kun. Very good.” He released his chin and pet his head for a moment before standing.

     “Is it not polite to offer yours in exchange?” Hinata mouthed, immediately regretting his loose tongue. Now he’d done it…

     The room was dead silent as everyone froze for a moment. The tall man looked down on him with cold eyes before smiling brightly, a musical laugh bubbling out of him, “How horrible I’ve been, to take and not receive! I am Igarashi Tatsuo.” He offered a very slight bow of his head, his bright smile morphing into one of a smirk, “However, you may only refer to me as Igarashi-dono.”

     Hinata stared blankly at him as he turned away, and walked towards the door, “Get our guest ready for transport.”

     The moment he was out of sight, there were hands on him, holding his arms to his side as they lifted him off the ground. They carried him roughly through the building and out a door into what appeared to be a garage, or small warehouse Hinata didn’t even attempt to squirm, knowing full well that only pain would come of it. They opened up what appeared to be a small shipping container, and tossed him in. Pain erupted through his body again as he hit and rolled against the metal encasement. “Bastards…” He breathed, looking back at them. Suddenly his heart started pounding, as he saw them closing the door on the container. He started screaming, half dragging his body to the entrance as the darkness began to close in around him. Fear gripped at him painfully as he shrieked in terror. He didn’t want to be enclosed in a small dark space again, please, anything but that. He’d be good, he’d do whatever they asked, just please… not… that. The door slammed shut, and past the small man’s echoing screams he could hear a large chain and lock clink into place. He made it to the door and began clawing at it, screaming and sobbing until his voice stopped working, and his tears ran out. His fingers bled and his nails broke as he tried to dig his way through the metal door. Darkness embraced him as he hyperventilated in the small space, wishing to whatever god was listening that Kageyama was there to cradle him during his panic attack just as he had for the raven haired man.

     It didn’t take long for him to fall unconscious, and every time he woke up, surrounded by darkness, and echoing metal he’d panic again, and pass out.

     “Ka..kage….ya...ma…” A raspy voice breathed between attacks before again he slipped away.

Chapter Text

     Kageyama POV

      It was dark when he arrived. Slowly he worked his way up to the second floor exterior catwalk, one step at a time. Along the way he’d taken multiple rests, and now that he was at the apartments, he wanted nothing more than to collapse into bed. Reaching the top of the stairs he could see it, his door, second from the end unit, number 205. In the dim yellow light coming from the wall lamps, he could see a small figure sitting beside his door, knees bunched up to his chest and chin resting on top of the kneecaps. The small man’s hair wasn’t styled, his brunette locks falling lazily past his ears, while a blonde tuft sat stubbornly between his eyes.

      The small man looked up at the sound of Kageyama reaching the top step, and nearly flew out of his seat in excitement. He sprinted over with bubbling energy, and nearly tackled the man with a hug. Kageyama coughed at the sudden impact, and wobbled on his feet. “THANK GOODNESS!” Nishinoya shouted, burrowing his face in the man’s chest.

     Kageyama set a hand on his head and pat him twice, before coughing out, “I’m home…. Uh Noya-san… thanks for welcoming me… but… cough… can’t breathe.” Noya released him with a startled, oh! Allowing Kageyama to take a deep breath. His ribs still hurt him, but at least breathing was easier.

      Noya was fast to take the bag from Kageyama, and then his spare keys which Noya had sent with Hinata (his original pair currently resided in the riverbed somewhere). He worked the lock, flicked on the lights and the pair was hit with a smell. “Ugh… one of us should have thought to come here earlier and clean. You’ve been gone for a while…” He closed the door and laughed. “Here, stay the night at my place, and I’ll get Tanaka-san tomorrow and we’ll do a clean of yours, yeah?”

      “Mmm”, Kageyama was too tired to argue. He was beginning to sway on his feet, so Nishinoya took him by his arm, and led him next door to apartment 204. Unlocking the door, Noya led him inside. “Thanks…”

      “Do you want to bathe first? You look about ready to pass out.” Kageyama nodded at Noya’s words, and even allowed the smaller man to assist in removing some of his clothing. “There’s already warm water ready, go ahead and use the spare towel on the rack.”

      Noya’s small apartment was a mirror image of his own, as was almost every unit except the corner suites. One small bedroom took up the rear of the apartment, with a small bathroom directly off of the open kitchen that led into a dinning, and sitting area. It was a tight space, only meant for one person to live in, but Noya always had things such as dishes, towels, and pillows set out for two. Nobody questioned why- after all he and Asahi had been trying so hard to keep their relationship a secret, so everyone just played oblivious.

      The raven haired man removed the last bit of clothing, and stepped carefully into the warm bath. Noya’s hair had mostly dried by the time Kageyama had arrived, so the water was cooler than completely comfortable, however it kept him from passing out in the tub. He scrubbed his body gently, and was out in no time. The towel that was set aside was twice as large as Noya’s, and extremely fluffy; it was probably just washed that same day, but there was no doubt that this was usually Asahi’s towel. The giant never would have fit one of Noya’s regular towels. After drying himself off, he opened the bag that Noya had left inside the bathroom for him so he’d have clothes to change into. Underneath the clothing was a small medical kit, courtesy of Yachi-chan. He applied the ointment as instructed, and bandaged the stitching before slipping into a clean pair of briefs, shorts, and a t-shirt.

      Noya had set blankets out on the sofa while he was in the bath, and was already lounging on top of them. “Oh! Good, I was beginning to worry that you may have fallen asleep in there.”

      “Ah, no… um, thanks again.” Kageyama mumbled before losing a battle against a yawn.

      “Here, take my bed tonight, go get some rest. We’ll have your place cleaned up before you’ve even woken up tomorrow!” Kageyama bowed slightly and offered his thanks before entering the dark room and immediately collapsing onto the mattress to sleep.

     ---

      He’d dreamt about drowning again that night, writhing and panting in his sleep. Around two in the morning, his eyes had shot open from the usual nightmare, his hands feeling around in a panic for the comforting grasp of Hinata’s hand. The space next to him on the narrow bed was empty. He wasn’t at Hinata’s anymore, the lack of the smaller man’s scent was enough evidence of that. Kageyama covered his eyes with his forearm and breathed slowly, trying to calm down. Why is it that when he was scared, he instinctively reached for the man? He felt lost at sea, and Hinata was a life raft that he’d fight to reach. Even in the darkness, he could tell his face was red.

      It took him a while to go back to sleep, and even then the only thing that helped him drift off once more, was his imagination. He used Noya’s second pillow like a body, wrapping himself around it. In his mind’s-eye, his cheek was pressed to the redhead’s chest, his arms wrapped around his too-narrow waist. Slowly, he managed to drift off to sleep again.

     ---

     He woke earlier than expected, looking at the clock he noted that it was about ten in the morning. Slowly, he untangled himself from the pillow and blankets, rising from the mattress. Remembering that he was not in his own apartment, he made the bed, and quickly got changed; throwing on a pair of loose jeans and an white t-shirt, he exited the room. The apartment was empty, however the front door was propped open. The day was warm and none of the units came with air conditioners unless the tenants decided to install them on their own. Both Kageyama and Noya had failed to do that, so when the pair were around it was common to see their doors open on one end, and the windows open on the other to allow for a cross breeze. The familiar sight, and breeze immediately lifted the man’s spirits. He was finally home.

     Kageyama exited the apartment, taking a peek to the left to see a short, busty woman leaning over the railing looking out at the small apartment yard. She had a cigarette in one hand and a white bandana tied around her cropped bleached hair. As if she could sense him, she turned around and offered him a huge grin. “Tobio! Here I thought I could finally snag an apartment of my own!” Her voice was happy, however her eyes looked a bit damp, either from dust or relief that he was home in mostly one piece.

     Saeko may have been Tanaka-san’s biological sister, but to the folks at Black Dahlia, she was everyone’s sister. Both her and her brother Ryu shared the second floor corner suite, one of the four two bedrooms available in the two-story apartment complex. Despite being Kageyama’s neighbour, he didn’t get to see her often, as she was often out on assignment. Unlike Nishinoya, and Kageyama, she was an affiliated member of the Yakuza, under Ukai Ikkei.

     Kageyama walked towards her with a brisk pace, and stood next to her, hands at his side. He’d been like this when they’d found him too, many years ago. Silently needy, but unable to voice, nor act upon his more subtle emotions. He’d missed them all, he’d been worried about them all; he was so relieved to see them unharmed and healthy.

     Saeko offered a soft knowing smile, and flicked out the cigarette, blowing smoke away from the man, before closing the space and hugging him. Not gently mind you. If there was one thing to say about the Tanaka siblings, gentle wasn’t a word often used to describe them. Strong? Yes, protective? Yes, caring? Yes, times ten. Gentle…. Not so much. The 155cm woman lifted Kageyama’s 180cm form at least a couple of inches off of the ground as she squeezed him. He coughed, and she laughed before lowering him, offering a heavy pat on the back. Despite the ache she’d awoken in his spine, and ribs he couldn’t help but smile. “I’m home nee-san.”

     “KAGEYAMA!!!!!” oh god. The raven-haired man braced himself, and closed his eyes. Another set of arms enclosed him, and again he was lifted off of the ground. He could feel his shoulder getting damp as the man blubbered with tears. Once he was lowered, Kageyama opened his blue eyes again, his face wincing as the repetitive squeezing actually started to bother his injuries some. “I… sniff… I was so worried…sniff” Tanaka Ryu was a mess of tears as he stepped back from the younger man.

     “Baka, you’re making a fool of yourself.” His sister cackled, leaving the pair to talk. She straightened the bandana up over her hair again and went back into his apartment.

     Ryu rubbed at his eyes with his arm, as he tried to calm himself. “When that shrimp came by and told us you were alive… I was so relieved…” He stated, his voice wet with emotion. He looked back up to Kageyama and let his eyes run over the man’s form, “Are you okay though? I expected much worse- to be honest.”

     Kageyama pat his shoulder and offered a small smile, “I’m much better now that I’m home with everyone.” Those words set Tanaka off again, hugging (less forcefully now), and crying once more.

     “Oh! He’s awake!” Nishinoya’s voice found them, approaching from the stairs. Next to him walked the large bartender, his hair up in a loose bun as the pair carried coffees and food from a nearby cafe. Kageyama felt his stomach grumble at the sight. Tanaka pried himself off of the younger man to allow the others a chance to welcome him home. Nishinoya asked him a few questions regarding his health before entering his apartment to set out food for everyone, while Asahi returned from inside now with empty hands.

     “It’s good to have you back, Kageyama-kun,” His smile was soft despite his appearance, as was the large hand he’d set on the smaller man’s shoulder. Kageyama shared a nod with him, before allowing him to lead the small group inside to partake in breakfast. Saeko was called in, along with another man who Kageyama hadn’t seen in quite some time. Apparently he’d been inside assisting with the cleaning while the greetings had been happening.

     Blonde hair with dark roots was pulled back by a headband, leaving a set of piercings in one ear visible in the daylight. Kageyama stood up straighter as he approached the group, paper plates already being filled with pastries and jam.

     “Here I was worrying for nothin’.” The man was wearing a red t-shirt, a black outline of a flower stitched over his heart. His arms crossed over his chest as he looked Kageyama over for debilitating injuries. “How bad?” The room grew quiet. So far everyone had avoided asking specifics, to save Kageyama the discomfort of discussing the trauma, but this man held no punches.

     “Boss! Uh, oh… not bad. Nothing to worry about…” Kageyama stumbled over his words, looking at the man’s chest instead of his face.

     “Is that so? You can carry a tray then? Having one of our servers out of commission hurt business pretty bad. Short staffing weekend nights never goes well.” The man scolded.

     The room was quiet, Kageyama remained tense. Suddenly The blonde man cried out in pain. Saeko had kicked the back of his knee hard enough to make him stumble. “Don’t be an ass to cover up your worrying, freaking mother hen.”

     A blush covered his ears as he blinked at her, a few snickers sounded throughout the room. Kageyama couldn’t help the small smile that threatened his composure. He held Ukai, and his grandfather with the utmost respect, after all it was them who had saved him from a life on the streets… but he always forgot that despite the position he held as a young boss of a business, and a yakuza lieutenant under his grandfather, he still was one of them; one of the ramshackle family they’d pulled together.

     Ukai sighed, and rubbed the back of his head. “Seriously, I’m glad you’re alright… but after you eat, and relax a bit, we do need to have a discussion about your health and where that leaves us.” Kageyama nodded at that, it was a reasonable request, “Alright, enough of the doom and gloom, give me some coffee.”

     ---

     It took the rest of the morning to finish eating, and catching up, and then the better part of the afternoon to finish cleaning. Throughout the day, a few others stopped by to say hello before everyone had to depart for work. Once everyone except Ukai and Kageyama had left, the younger man recounted the experiences of the last few weeks for the blonde.

     “Huh, this Yachi girl sounds promising, might have to keep an eye on her career.” Ukai mused, smoking a cigarette.

      “I’d… rather they not get involved.” Ukai turned to look at Kageyama, who was leaning against the railing of the catwalk.

      “Understandable. It’s just hard to come by reliable folks nowadays, and skilled ones at that.” He mused, taking a long drag of nicotine.

      “I’m honestly a bit surprised to see you.” The younger man admitted after a few moments of silence.

      “What, you expected me to stay up north when one of our own gets jumped, presumably killed?” Ukai’s voice was flat as he spoke, his expression shadowed by the roofing over their lounging spot. The sun was setting, and it was making the man’s expression difficult to read.

      “Well… I mean… I don’t know. I’m not a sworn member, and you were up there for an important meeting with… them.” He didn’t know the specifics regarding Ukai’s trip to Hokkaido, however he knew that a number of lieutenants from families within Sumiyoshi-kai were meeting to discuss some of their Tokyo business ventures.

      Ukai sighed, and tapped out his dying cigarette, “Listen kid, it doesn’t matter that you aren’t Yakuza. You work in my lounge, which is an affiliated business. You not only are family, but you are also an employee of that business. As far as I’m concerned, those punks attacked the Ukai name, not just you as an individual. Those suits up north have been worrying about the escalating violence in Tokyo lately too, they didn’t even bat an eye when I left- though that isn’t to say I didn’t offend the shit out of them by doing so.” He took a step towards Kageyama and placed his hand on his shoulder, “If you think any of us are going to let this go just because you’re safe, you’re wrong. You aren’t the first person to be attacked in Sumiyoshi-kai territory, whilst being under our protection. We’re going to stop this so you will have been the last.”

      Kageyama blinked up at him, looking rather shocked. He was taking this far more seriously than he’d expected. “Why such a serious response? It was a fight that Noya and I started to begin with…”

      “The punks that you fought with, you think it’s normal for them to just roll up in numbers in a random park at night? Why not hit a club, or something? Why a park?” Ukai asked, removing his hand from Kageyama’s shoulder.

      The younger man pondered for a moment, and shook his head, “They were dressed well enough to have been going out, and had women with them… not exactly normal for hanging out in a park.”

      “Noya-kun saw some tat’s on them too. They’re affiliated.”

      Kageyama’s eyes widened, “What? To who?”

      Ukai pulled out his cell phone and swiped to open his camera. A few more swipes and he had a poor quality picture of a tattoo on his screen. Chinese characters decorated a delicate blade, which was stabbed through a black and white koi fish on a man’s bicep. “Not local, that’s for sure.”

      “I-I don’t understand.”

      “How much do you know about organized crime?”

      “Not as much as I probably should, living in this world.”

      Ukai lit another cigarette, “Well, judging by the characters, we’re dealing with a foreign cell. Could be Yakuza operating outside of Japan, however it’s highly unlikely. More likely we could be dealing with a Mainland China criminal organization, or even Triad.”

      That word rang familiar with Kageyama, who stuttered, “T-triad?”

      “Yeah. I’ve got some connections in Hong Kong who are looking into the tattoo, along with some connections here. It’s been a couple of days since we snapped this picture, and sent word out, but hopefully something will turn up.”

      “Where was this taken?” The lighting in the picture was warm, and a soft brown leather seat was visible in the corner.

      “At the Dahlia.”

      “They were there?” He shouted, back straightening, “How long have they been attending?”

      Ukai nodded, and took a drag, “They started showing up a day or two after your disappearance. I arrived the day after your friend came by. Yamaguchi-kun managed to get this picture while bussing the nearby table.” Kageyama gulped. There was no way the fight was random then. For them to show up in force in a park nearby their homes, then to show up repetitively at the Dahlia… they were circling like sharks.

      “What are they aft-” He paused mid thought. They’d been at the Dahlia repetitively since his disappearance. They’d probably been there when Hinata… “Hinata!”

      Ukai blinked at him as Kageyama all but ran to his apartment, leaving the door open to look for his cell phone. He nearly slapped himself, remembering that his phone was living in the bottom of a river now. Ukai had tossed his cigarette and entered the apartment, “The kid’s fine. Sugawara-kun called him this morning to touch base. We’ll keep in contact with him every so often to make sure nothing’s happened, okay?”

      Kageyama exhaled a breath he didn’t know he’d been holding. His ribs hurt from that small run, and panic. “G-good.” Suddenly something was being handed to him. He looked down to Ukai’s hand to see a small silver mobile phone.

      “It’s a cheap one, just use it until you get one you like. Can’t have you running around without the ability to call for backup, yeah?” Kageyama nodded at him and took it. “Also, until things cool off, none of you are to be wandering about alone. Go in sets of three if possible, but no less than two. I’ll be heading to the Dahlia once Ennoshita-kun and Kinoshita-kun arrive.”

      Kageyama nodded again, and smiled a bit. He’d yet to see his two senpai’s since arriving home, as they worked the day shifts at Black Dahlia. The two of them shared one of the two bedroom apartments on the first floor, along with Narita. While they were all workers at the Dahlia, Narita often worked nights as a Line cook, giving them opposing schedules.

      As if on cue, the sound of car doors slamming caught the pair’s attention. Ukai sighed, “That’d be Saeko. Pray for me, would ya?” Kageyama chuckled and saw the man out. Sure enough a black sedan was parked haphazardly on the curb, and two men were approaching the compound. They saw Kageyama and waved, jogging to reach the pair faster. “Alright you three, you don’t have to sleep together or anything, but keep your phones handy, and your attention peeled for trouble. If anything seems off, congregate in one of your apartments.” The three all responded in unison, and offered the man a small bow. Saeko honked the horn, and Ukai rolled his eyes.

      “Why is she the dedicated driver again?”

      “It’s almost more dangerous than the threat of an attack…”

      “I regret my life choices.” That one was Ukai, as he waved goodbye and head for the car.

      The three of them hung out at Kageyama’s for a bit, the two older men drinking beer, while Kageyama stuck to tea as to not mix alcohol with his pain meds which he was still taking, though measurably less.

      ---

     Three days passed with relative peace, however again, Kageyama was going stir crazy. “Why don’t you just come to the Dahlia and help out a bit if you’re so anxious to do something?” Noya asked, tying his shoes outside the apartment so he could talk to Kageyama.

     “Ukai doesn’t want me straining myself for another week… That and I can’t really carry any trays yet.” He held up his wrist which was still wrapped in the brace.

     “I’m sure if you showed up he’d find you something non strenuous to do.” Narita had approached behind them, car keys in one hand. “Those two will be fine here on there own.” He motioned to the compound below where Ennoshita and Kinoshita were tying up trash bags.

     “You sure?” Kageyama asked, looking down at them, Ukai had said stick in threes…

     “I’m sure. Go get dressed or we’ll be late.”

     ---

     He was glad he’d come out. Being back at the Dahlia was nice, and had everyone pretty weepy, seeing him back at work. Ukai had him change roles with Sugawara that night, acting as a host, while Suga served tables. He mostly stayed near the front booth which they’d set up with a stool for him to sit on while people approached to pay, and he would seat them as they entered. By the end of the night Ukai had agreed to let him take on his usual shifts this way until he was given a clean bill of health. Finally things were getting back to normal.

     What wasn’t normal was that nobody had heard from a certain red head since the last time Suga called. Kageyama asked about it, but Sugawara had simply responded that it really wasn’t that odd, he’d only ever called once or twice in the past, it was primarily Nishinoya who’d done the calling.

     Kageyama sighed, but accepted that truth. Still, something sat odd with him about the silence. Perhaps Hinata really had only helped him, and was simply moving on with his life as if nothing had ever happened. It wasn’t like they were friends or anything…

     

     ---

     Three more days passed. Rain poured down the window as Kageyama sat on his bed, looking out at the damp world. It was a Monday on a holiday, and the lounge was closed for scheduled maintenance. Whether that was true or just a cover for underworld doings, he didn’t know. However, it made the compound a busy place. He could hear people conversing through the fairly thin walls, and the gang had proposed a potluck at Tanaka’s place that night. Yeah, despite the rain, everyone was at full energy. Except Kageyama. While he looked out the window he held onto a soup can, and began exercising his wrist, rotating it around slowly. It was uncomfortable, and borderline painful, but he was improving.

     Why hadn’t he heard from Hinata? Had anyone tried to contact him? Ukai had said they’d check on him now and then, how often was that supposed to be?
He opened his phone and text Sugawara, “Hey, do you have Hinata’s number? I think I should che”... He hesitated, then erased the message. “Hey, send me Hinata’s number- might invite him to the potluck tonight. You know, as a thank you.” He hit send. He didn’t want to come off as a worry-wort.

     An hour went by as he continued his slow exercises, making sure to work on a mixture of muscle groups while still being careful of injuries.

     Finally his cell beeped, alerting him to a text message, “Hey! Sorry, was out shopping, here it is! # *** *** ****. I thought you didn’t want him involved?”

      Kageyama mentally face palmed before texting back, “Well, I’d rather he avoided the Lounge, but it should be fine here. It’s not like I’ll force him to come.”

     A few moments passed before, “Ah, yes, right then! ;P”

     Kageyama stared at the text, visualizing perfectly Suga’s face winking with the tongue out. His face got red, was he being teased? He shook the thought away and dialled the number given.

     Click, “The number you have dialled is not available in this region, please phone an operator for assistance. The number you have dialled is not available in this…” He blinked, letting the automated message wash over him at least a dozen times before hanging up. He double checked the number Sugawara had given him. Quickly he shot a text to Nishinoya, asking the same thing. The number he received was identical. Why… His heart sunk into his stomach. Something had to have been wrong.

     Quickly he shot up from his bed and exited the apartment, ignoring his bare feet. His fist rose as he knocked on the neighbouring apartment door. It took a moment, and he could hear scuffling inside, but soon Noya appeared, his hair tousled and his cheeks red. “Ah! Sorry, was just uh, practising some grappling, you know in case those punks show up again!” Behind him Kageyama could see Asahi in the shadows throwing on a shirt.

     Kageyama brushed all of that aside, even forgoing joking about the horrible excuse. “Noya-san I think something’s wrong.”

     His brow rose, as he looked the taller man over, “With…. Your health?”

     “No, with Hinata-san.” He held out his phone and put it on speaker, then redialled the number. The automated voice sang out once more.

     Noya frowned and looked a the phone, before pulling his own out of his pocket. He too dialled the number. Same outcome. “I don’t... “

     “Before I left, something felt off. Hinata-san kept getting random phone calls during the day but then nobody would respond, they’d just breathe into the phone. It had spooked him pretty bad, but I hadn’t really thought much about it at the time. His number isn’t publicly listed or anything.”

     Asahi approached and stood behind Noya, frowning. “That does sound fishy. Anything else happen?”

     Kageyama shrugged, “It’s possible the tattooed guy was at the lounge when Hinata came by, they could have seen his face.”

     “He’d used your name out in the open that day too…” Noya mused, he was chewing his lip in thought. Quickly he used his phone again, dialing a number. “Hey Suga-san, yeah. Could you round up everyone a bit earlier than planned? We might have a problem. I’d like to get everyone together to discuss. Meet at the Compound asap.”

     With that he hung up and directed Asahi and Kageyama to get everyone out of their apartments who lived in the compound and have everyone go to Tanaka’s.

     It didn’t take long to round up the locals, Saeko, and Ryu started making room for everyone immediately; Kageyama arrived with Ennoshita, Kinoshita, and Narita in tow; while Noya and Asahi retrieved Tsukishima from his first floor apartment. A frown was creased on his face as he grumbled about meeting up early being a drag. They chatted lightly about any sightings of the tattooed brutes, or any weird happenings to take note of, and fairly soon the rest began to arrive. Ukai, Daichi, and Sugawara arrived together, and Yamaguchi arrived with two of the Dahlia kitchen staff, Takinoue, and Shimada. The apartment was noisy with chatter, and once everyone was settled, Ukai cleared his throat and clapped his hands.

     Slowly silence fell, save for the small sounds of people sipping drinks. “Alright, as you all may well know, members of this family have been targeted by a foreign entity. We don’t have any news regarding who they are or what they are really after, but we have reason to believe they are behind the near fatal attack on Kageyama-kun.” He paused for effect, “that being said, the individual who rescued Kageyama might be in a spot of trouble.” He sat down, motioning to the raven haired man to pick up where he left off.

     Kageyama slowly stood, feeling uncomfortable with all of their eyes trained on him. He gulped. “Before I returned, Hinata-san received a number of strange phone calls. The person on the line never said anything. His number isn’t listed anywhere, so I don’t know who has been calling him, or how they got his number. On top of this, we attempted to make contact with him earlier today, but his line has been disconnected.” Kageyama felt his hands shaking, so he pushed them into his pockets, “this isn’t just about his safety. He’s got a younger sister in high school too.” His eyes travelled over their faces, every expression was serious and alert, even Tsukishima was leaning forward in his seat, hands clasped tightly.

     Kageyama slowly sat again, unsure of what to say. The room was quiet as everyone pondered. Finally Sugawara stood, looking stern; “Kageyama-kun, can you think of any place Hinata may be?”

     Kageyama thought for a moment, “He has a friend who is a nursing student, but I don’t know how to contact her outside of contacting him… other than that, I know he’s a sports science student at Waseda University.”

     “That’s a good place to start. Okay. I think we should break into teams. Some of us go check on Hinata’s home, some of us follow the Waseda lead.” Suga was planning as if a disaster had just struck.

     “That sounds like a solid plan. Ennoshita, Kinoshita, and Narita you three will stay here and keep in contact with the multiple teams, and keep us up to date and organized,” Ukai stood and began formulating the details, “Sugawara, Daichi, Tsukishima, and Yamaguchi, you four are on Waseda.” The four of them nodded, Daichi pulling his car keys out of his pocket. “Saeko, take Takinoue, and Shimada with you and go to the police-” her face looked like a mixture of offence, and disgust, “check for missing person reports. You don’t have any active warrants on you right?”

     “Just some speeding tickets,” someone whispered, before receiving a death glare from her.

     “Alright. Kageyama, Asahi, Nishinoya, Tanaka. You’re with me. We’re going to check out the apartment.” Ukai stated. They were going to get to the bottom of this.

     

     ---

     Kageyama managed to direct the group to the apartment in just under an hour. They found parking a few blocks away in a sheltered lot, inconspicuous, and out of the rain. The four of them had changed before leaving, donning disguises to make them appear like respectable people. Ukai wore a long-sleeve beneath a rain jacket to cover his affiliation tattoos, as did Tanaka, who had been sworn in earlier that year. Asahi wore a hat and a zippered sweater, while Noya, and Kageyama dressed as they’d assume college students would. Jeans, sneakers, t-shirts with bad band logos on the fronts, and cozy sweaters. Everything they wore was easy to move in, though if it came down to it, Kageyama knew he wasn’t yet up for a fight.

     They approached the apartment and did a quick look around the exterior of the building. Asahi was quick to find something, and he waved them towards the rear of the building. A metal door leading into the basement was partially open, the handle having been broken off. “So glad to see he lives in an upstanding part of town…” Nishinoya half joked, though his voice was nervous.

     They opened the door to find it led into a small storage room. Another door sat across from it which also had a broken lock. The group carried on inside, passing through that door to find service stairs leading up to the main floor. This wasn’t looking good. They moved quietly through the halls, and upstairs until they were on Hinata’s floor. Some sounds of life came from a number of suites, but overall the building felt deserted. Kageyama stepped in front of the door and knocked.

     Nothing. He knocked again. Still nothing. Frowning, he tried the door handle. The portal opened with ease. That door should have been locked. He pushed it the rest of the way open and was greeted with dark, diffused light and the smell of a place that hadn’t been touched in awhile.

     Ukai pulled on his shoulder, getting him out of the doorway and against a wall. He nodded at Asahi, who took his place holding onto a shocked Kageyama. “Keep him safe.” The blonde mouthed silently.

     Ukai entered first, carefully. From under his jacket he drew a gun, but he kept it at his side. Next was Tanaka who had a blade in hand, and the Nishinoya who was shaking slightly. A few minutes of quiet went by before Ukai’s voice reached them, “All clear.”

     Asahi placed his hand on Kageyama’s shoulder and led him inside the dark apartment. Immediately he knew his suspicions had been correct. For one, there was no power, for two, the apartment was in a horrible state of disarray, and for three… the bathroom door had dried blood all over the bottom half.

     Kageyama felt faint, his knees wobbled, and thankfully Asahi was there to support him as he teetered, his breath coming fast. Ukai was suddenly at his side, holding his chin, “Kageyama calm down, we’re going to figure out what happened, okay?” Tanaka worked together with Noya to flip over the couch, and together Ukai and Asahi got Kageyama seated on the cushions. “Just focus on breathing.”

     While he focused on calming down, the others began to take in the damage. “I don’t think all of this was done in a fight, the kid is quite small… they probably ransacked the place to make it look like a robbery.” That was Asahi, as he observed the broken lamp.

     “This blood, it’s been dried out for a while, a few days at least.” Noya stated, sounding scared to voice this news out loud.

     “They could have climbed through the window, but I figure they actually came in the same way we did.” Kageyama looked up at Tanaka who was gazing out the broken window, his feet standing in a puddle caused by the rain.

     Ukai finally sighed, “Kageyama, do you know of any where Hinata-kun may have held contact information for this Yachi-chan?”

     Kageyama felt useless, he shook his head.

     “Alright. Let’s get out of here then, I’d rather not find out if they’re still watching the place.”

     ---

     They reported via cell phone back to Ennoshita before making the trek back. Everyone was quiet on the way home. A call came in and soon Ukai was turning the car around. “What is it?” Kageyama asked, looking confused.

     “That call was Narita, apparently they’ve located Hinata’s friend, and sister.”

     They pulled up at a police station soon after, and hopped out of the car. Ukai and Tanaka stayed behind, and left to drive around the block. The three others ran inside, only to find Saeko’s team talking to a small blonde girl and young redhead. The young high school girl flung herself at Kageyama immediately and started punching his chest as she cried, “It’s all your fault! Oniisan would be safe if you hadn’t showed up!”

     Yachi quickly took action and pulled the young sister off of him, covering her mouth with one hand. “Natsu-chan! That’s enough!”

     “It’s… she’s right.” Kageyama stated quietly. Everyone looked at him.

     “Don’t you dare say that.” Yachi’s voice dropped, she had tears in her eyes, “You didn’t ask to be injured like that! It’s nobody’s fault but those who are behind this!”

     Natsu had given up her attack in favour of quietly sobbing. Saeko approached and put her hand on Yachi’s shoulder, facing the men, “What did you find?”

     “T-the place was trashed… we don’t know how long ago, there was blood…” Noya’s voice shook. Yachi’s eyes flicked to him, fear apparent. Natsu sobbed harder.

     “He was supposed to-” She hiccuped, “call me in the morning… That was five days ago! We’ve been coming here every day asking for news...”

     Kageyama went white. He’d been missing for that long? It must have happened just after he’d left.

     “The strange calls had happened a lot right after you left Kageyama-san, but Hinata had been at school… He’d called before heading home and told Natsu to pack her things and come stay with me because he felt like something was going to happen.” Yachi offered, hugging Natsu fiercely.

     Kageyama pressed his palms against his face, and muttered “It’s all my fault…”

     “The cops aren’t being of much help either,” Shimada offered, shooting a disgusted look at the desk sergeant, “They said that they don’t have enough man-power to look for every missing person out there, but I doubt they’ve even considered putting in any effort.” It was well known that not only was the local police force understaffed, but they were fairly untrustworthy to boot. They’d play fetch if someone made it worth their while. Shimada pointed silently to a large cork-board filled with missing persons posters. Hinata’s was the newest, his orange hair and bright smile catching the eye.

     “Should we take them to the compound? It might be safer?” Saeko offered, her hand still resting on Yachi’s shoulder, a comforting weight.

     “Honestly I’m not sure, that might just put them in more danger…”

     “Whoever is behind this might be after them next, we could at least protect them if we’re near by…”

     “Phone Ukai, get his take.”

     The group debated for a short while before finally deciding to bring the two girls back with them.

     ---

     Once they returned, Kageyama set the pair up in his apartment, seeing as it had received a thorough leaning the most recently, and was positioned between two Dahlia employees. He sat outside the apartment door with his face buried in his arms which rest on his knees.

     The Waseda group had returned with some unsettling information. All they had to do was ask for Hinata’s number because a family member had been in an accident, and the university staff had readily handed over not only his phone number, but they also had access to his address. They’d asked who else had received this number, and apparently an uncle had requested it some time ago. On top of that, their office had been broken into about five days ago, and some files had been moved around, including Hinata’s.

     They’d found him through his university. He’d gone to the Dahlia straight from school, he probably had something with the logo on it on his clothing or bag. Kageyama groaned into his arms. Why hadn't he predicted this?

     A shadow crossed him as someone stood in front of the wall lamp, “Come inside, we’ve got news.”

     Asahi helped him stand, and led him indoors. A map was laid out on the kitchen table and everyone was pouring over it. “We’ve got some good news, cameras at the school picked up the identity of our dear uncle.” Takinoue began, a small frown on his face, “His name is Maki Hiroto- he’s a well known bruiser for a Lieutenant of Inagawa-kai branch.” A few faces fell at the sound of that. It was one thing for a no-name gang to come after them, and another for a Yakuza of the same branch to mess with them… but this was another family to which they might not have good connections with.

     Ukai took over, “Our dear Lieutenant is Igarashi Tatsuo, a shipping tycoon that has his fingers in a lot of business.” He tapped a port dock in the southern part of Tokyo Harbour, “Igarashi owns a number of shipping docks and warehouses here, and also some warehouses north of the city. If I were a betting man, I’d say he’s making use of the docks, but the docks naturally would be primed with a heavier guard. Lots of illegal shipments come through here, so it’s not a stroll in the park. However, let’s be glad we’ve got friends in high places, yes?”

     “Ukai-san, we got the green light from Nekomata-sama,” Shimada supplied, approaching the table, stuffing a cellphone in his pocket. A few eyebrows rose.

     “Those cats actually agreed to get their hands dirty?” Saeko asked, looking quite surprised.

     “We need people who are experts at being places they shouldn’t be. Nekomata-sama has a number of talented youngsters under his wing who know the city like the back of their hands.” Was Ukai’s simple response, “With their help we’ll be able to cover more ground.”

     “He said he’d send over a couple of his boys to coordinate with us. They should arrive within the hour.”

     “Thank you Shimada. I’m sure we’re going to develop quite a debt with that old man.” Ukai grumbled, “Any news on our boys in blue?”

     “You’re going to involve the cops? That’s dirty business!” Saeko snapped, slamming her fist on the table, “Those fucking pigs don’t differentiate friend from foe! Once they help us, we’ll be next on the menu!”

     “Saeko…” Ukai warned, “You think I haven’t thought this through?” She huffed, but let him speak, “We aren’t involving the police on official business, but a few of those boys owe me. I’m cashing in. All they’re going to do is give Igarashi a bit of a hard time, get him out of the way.”

     “You better hope they don’t decide they’d rather a promotion than a settled score…” She muttered, looking royally pissed.

     “I’m not going to lie, there is a lot at risk for this plan, and it is to save someone who isn’t one of our own. I’m going to give each and every one of you who isn’t a sworn member the chance to back out. This could get dangerous, and it could bring down a lot of heat on our heads.” Not a single person moved from the table.

     “With all due respect, Boss, Hinata-kun is one of ours” Noya stated over the silence. Kageyama gulped back some rising emotion, looking between all of the faces of his family. They had always been fiercely loyal. He wanted so much to be able to get a message to Hinata. We’re coming for you.

Chapter Text

Hinata POV

      Eyes opened slowly, itchy from crusted tears. He didn’t move, instead he slid his eyes across his surroundings, noticing first that he was no longer in the dark. The building he was in was similar to the one they’d left, however it looked newer, less run down. High ceilings were lined with metallic rigs used for lifting boxes onto trucks, large bay doors were closed, and the small windows were painted black to dissuade anyone from peeking in. He sat on the cold cement floor beneath a set of metal stairs that led to a second story catwalk; an old metal lamp, the bulb aged and dim shone down upon him. He was seated with his back against the wall, his arms lifted slightly across his body. Handcuffs were locked around his wrists, keeping him bound to a metal Pipe in the shape of a sideways U that jutted out from the wall. There was evidence of dried blood beneath him- Hinata was able to deduce that this spot was used frequently for… unsavoury guests.

      The cool bite of handcuffs was extremely uncomfortable on his raw wrists, the skin badly damaged from the zip-ties. He hurt all over, his head, wrists, ribs, stomach, well… essentially everything was a ball of ache.

      Footsteps sounded on the catwalk overhead, causing Hinata’s pulse to spike. He began frantically looking around for something, anything to use to defend himself. Nothing, he was completely at a loss. By the time the feet became visible to the young man as someone descended down the stairs, he was shaking so much that his teeth were clattering,

      “Ah, so you’re awake.” Was the velvet voice of his captor. Igarashi crouched down next to the smaller man, reaching out and lightly running his finger across Hinata’s cheek. Hinata could not physically push himself further against the wall as he shied away from the man. “With looks like yours, I’m sure I could get a pretty penny…” He mused, biting his lower lip. A small squeak of fear escaped Hinata’s throat at the thought of being sold off on the sex market.

      “P-please, I haven’t done anything! Why are you doing this?” The words tumbled out of his mouth before he’d even considered speaking.

      Glinting emerald eyes smiled as he moved his finger off of Hinata’s cheek to ruffle his hair, “Haven’t done anything? Oh child, you sealed your fate the moment you became involved with the Black Dahlia. Did the baby crow explain nothing to you?”

      “So you make a habit of kidnapping and beating every Patron that enters the establishment?” Hinata spat, glaring daggers at the auburn haired man, “It’s a miracle they’re still operating then.”

      Suddenly Igarashi clenched his fist in Hinata’s hair, pulling his face close. Hinata yelped at the painful sting of his scalp, but didn’t drop his glare, “I’m afraid my underlings acted rashly, you after all we're not our target.”

      Hinata had figured as much, after all, what information could they hope to gain from someone unaffiliated to the yakuza or the lounge? “K-Kageyama?”

      “Bingo,” Igarashi sang, releasing his hold on Hinata’s hair, “It appears we were too late. However I’m sure there is some sort of information we could pry out, so it may not be a complete loss..”

      As if on queue, a number of men exited a room off to the side, one of them was rolling a cart covered in strange tools. Hinata, began hyperventilating. Muffled cries sounded along with the sounds of shuffling and struggling, and suddenly another form was revealed, bound and gagged, being dragged from the neighbouring room. He was a short man, much like Hinata, with light brown hair, and brown eyes. They bound him with handcuffs behind his back, a support beam for the stairs resting against his spine holding him in place. He was fairly roughed up, blood visible on the cloth gag, and in his hair. Igarashi stood between them, a disgusting grin on his face as he looked between his two “guests”.

      “This was the punk that was sniffing around the dock warehouses, boss,” One man in a suit stated, bowing his head slightly as he spoke to the auburn haired man.

     “Interesting… Increase the number of guards at the docks…” He mused, tapping his chin. Igarashi reached into his haori and drew a small blade, crouching before the newcomer. He hooked the blade into the collar of the man’s black shirt and yanked, cutting the fabric with ease. He cut until the shirt peeled away, revealing the man’s chest and shoulder. A black and white tattooed image of a cat stalking a snake was revealed, taking up the better part of the man’s peck and shoulder. Igarashi made a number of tsk sounds, shaking his head. “Now, now, what could old Nekomata-sama have up his sleeve to send one of his precious kitties out into the snake’s nest?” The man bound to the post remained silent, simply glaring at the man.

      One brute reached down and removed the man’s gag, however instead of speaking, the man simply spat a gob of blood onto his captor’s feet.

     Igarashi wasted no time, lifting his wooden sandal to push against the man’s throat. A gargling strangled sound erupted from the maw of the bound man, as he writhed in his bindings. “How rude, this all could have been taken care of in a civil manner you know…”

     The man gurgled more, apparently trying to speak this time. Igarashi released his foot, his arms folded within the draping sleeves of his kimono. “You’ve never-” The man burst into hacking coughs as he tried to clear his throat of blood and fluids, “been one to act with civility Igarashi-san.”

     Their captor laughed, deep and in his chest, his back arching slightly with the action. “Hmm, I’m sure my dear Nekomata-sama has regaled you with countless tales of my youth- I did after all make quite a name for myself and my family.”

     Hinata felt at a loss- he had no idea who this Nekomata was, or what it was exactly they were talking about.

     “My underlings blunder has turned out to be rather fortuitous indeed!” He mused in a singsong voice, “To think, a sly cat would wander so quietly into my domain so soon after our dear Hinata-kun goes missing? Coincidence? I think not!” The bastard was enjoying this, and it made Hinata’s skin crawl.

     “The kid’s got nothing to do with the Yakuza, why bother keep him?” The bound man asked, his eyes now looking over the small redhead, pale, bruised, and shaking.

     “Hmm? Well, it’s fairly simple kitty-kun, have you ever gone fishing?” The man crouched in front of Nekomata’s pupil, who remained silent. “You see, sometimes you need to catch a little fish, to draw in the big one.” He used his hands as puppets to demonstrate a small fish getting tailed by a larger one. Hinata was confused by this man, at times he seemed like a scary, calm, composed Yakuza leader… and others, it was like he mentally snapped along the way, treating everything like a game. It made him rather unpredictable, and even more frightening, “He wasn’t the little fish we were hoping for, but he seems to be doing the trick, all the same.”

     “So you kept him as bait? Too bad all you got was a hungry cat then.” The man grumbled.

     Their captor sighed heavily, “Kitty-kun… no, what’s your name?”

     The bound man hesitated, simply staring at Igarashi, “Yaku.”

     “Well, Yaku-kun, I’m not idiotic enough to believe that Nekomata has any real interest in our bait, unless for some reason someone else involved him.” He began reaching forward, poking Yaku with a long finger. Every so often he’d find some spot that was extra tender, which would cause the small man to flinch or gasp in pain. “No, I’ll wait for the crows to come get their shiny object.” He mused, looking over his shoulder at Hinata.

     Igarashi stood, and approached one of the brutes, “Is everything prepared?” the nameless man nodded, “Good. No point in wasting an opportunity. If the main prize doesn’t show up with the rest of the flock, we need to know where he’s hiding. Get what you can from them.” The man bowed as Igarashi began heading towards the stairs once more.

     “Sir!” Another man barked, entering from a door that appeared to lead outside. “You’ve just received a call, apparently one of the ships scheduled to leave for Hong Kong has been detained by two members of the special gang task force.” Igarashi halted, and scowled, turning to walk towards the man.

     “Interesting development. Alright, I’ll handle this. You lot be on guard, an attack could happen at any time.” Igarashi changed directions and headed towards the man with the phone, wagging his fingers to request that he was to hand the phone over. Hinata didn’t get a chance to listen into the conversation however, as some of the men in suits began taking off their jackets and rolling up their shirt sleeves.

     A mixture of tattoos surrounded them, some of them had Japanese characters, while some looked foreign, with chinese lettering, and a different style of tattoo design. Yaku was staring at Hinata, his body visibly shaking, however his face remained stoic. “Don’t worry Hinata-kun. It’s going to be oka-” One of the men brought his boot down over Yaku’s knee, meeting the joint with a sickening crack!

     Hinata blanched as Yaku wailed in pain, his eyes wide and watering as he cried out until he ran out of breath, sagging in his bindings. One man with chinese tattoos crouched down next to the man with a hooked blade in hand. Another began to speak in Japanese, “Where is the head of the Ukai branch?” Yaku sobbed, but said nothing. The man with the blade moved slightly, so he was closer to Yaku’s back. Yaku still didn’t respond. The man with the blade shifted behind the bound man, but Hinata couldn’t see what he was doing. Yaku began screaming again, his voice harsh and torn from strain. Hinata was feeling faint. He closed his eyes and sagged in his bindings.

     The two gang members proceeded to cut into their captive, and ask questions, however after nearly half an hour, Yaku was close to unconsciousness, and they’d gotten nothing from him. A third man stepped forward, thin and tall compared to the two brutes. “Change of tactics. Bind his wounds, don’t let him pass out.” His japanese was rough, with a hint of an accent, however he wasn’t showing off his tattoos. Instead he remained dressed in his suit jacket, hands in his pockets.

     The two brutes followed his command, and roughly stopped the captives bleeding before splashing water on his face to rouse him. Yaku coughed, and rolled his head, trying to focus on his surroundings. The tall man nodded towards Hinata, and like obedient dogs the two brutes closed in on the redhead. “Tell me Yaku-kun, where have the Sumiyoshi-kai Lieutenants been meeting?” Yaku blinked lazily, trying to focus. “Where have they been meeting?” The man’s voice was even, and controlled. When Yaku remained silent, the man nodded once.

     Hinata was staring at Yaku with wide eyes as the two brutes closed in on him. Suddenly there was something around Hinata’s throat, a rough rope pulled tight, hooking up underneath his jaw and cutting off his ability to breathe. Hinata immediately reacted, squirming, and kicking as he gasped for air which never came. In that moment he suddenly thought of Kageyama, writhing in his sleep, gasping for air as he dreamt of drowning. He thought about how he’d reached over in the night, and held onto Kageyama’s hand, running his thumb in soothing circles over his sharp knuckles. Hinata stopped thrashing, however his body remained tense as he focused on the memory. Suddenly the rope was removed, and he was able to draw in a burning breath.

     “Let’s try that again. Where do the Lieutenants meet?” Yaku looked more alert now, his eyes wide with rage and pain as he glared between the three gangsters. Still nothing, “When did the meetings start?”

     Hinata was shaking as he stared up at the brute with the rope in his hand, his heart pounding so loudly in his ears he could hardly hear the taller man speak.

     “You do realize, we don’t need the boy alive yes? When we found you, you revealed to us that the rest are soon to follow. They’ll show up whether he’s dead or alive.” Yaku’s eyes widened slightly at that realization. The tall man nodded again. The moment the brute with the rope began to move, Hinata began kicking again, crying out any insult he could muster, however most of it came out as a mess of sobs.

     The air cut off from the young boy as the man pulled tight on the rope. Hinata could hear his heart pumping blood, rushing through his body and overtaking his auditory senses. He could taste bile on the back of his tongue, and was slowly losing feeling in his extremities. Blackness started ebbing into his vision, as the pounding in his ears slowly turned to ringing as he lost control of his thrashing limbs. As his eyes slowly began to flutter, he could barely see Yaku, shouting something though the sound never reached his ears.

     Then the rope was gone. Hinata felt it, and yet there was no instantaneous breath of air. He sagged against the wall, unmoving, the darkness creeping in closer and closer. The brute with the rope knelt and leaned Hinata forward, pounding his flat hand across his back. Hinata coughed roughly, suddenly inhaling. The ringing in his ears doubled as he began coughing once more, sneaking breaths where he could. His body was a twitching mess, and his throat felt like hell. But he was breathing again.

     “Hokkaido? Is it just the lieutenants at these meetings? Or are there heads of family there as well?” The tall man purred, his accent muddling his words.

     Yaku bit his lip, glaring daggers at the man, “I’m not privy to that information.”

     Hinata heard a sob escape his damaged throat, he could imagine the man with the rope inching closer again. “P-please…. No…”

     The rope closed in around his throat once more.

 

----

     He was on his way home from class, yawning as he leisurely peddled his bike along the path. Course selection for the following semester was coming up, which meant he’d need to start thinking about how to pay for the semester ahead. He was already working two part time jobs, but perhaps he could take up a third. As it was, he was at least a year behind everyone else, if not more because he couldn’t afford to take a full course load. His degree was going to take twice as long as usual due to his scheduling and funding. That wasn’t to say it was completely uncommon, he had a few acquaintances in similar situations, so he found solace in that unfortunate comradery.

     He picked up the pace a bit before slowing down as he reached the river. It was dark out, no need to take risks by pushing his speed next to the water. Brown eyes quickly glanced down the hill to the dark waters before he continued his travel.

      Suddenly he slammed his bike to a halt, his eyes returning to the water. Had… had he just seen something move down there? Hinata dismounted his bike and set it against the barricade, not worried at this hour about theft, or strangers wandering by. He looked down again at the water, squinting.

     Sure enough a dark shape bobbed down the river, every so often the moon catching a flash of something pale like skin. Hinata had jumped the barricade before even deciding that he was going to investigate. He threw his backpack next to his bike before sprinting down the grassy slope. The body was floating further away from him. He reached the edge of the grass and squinted at the retreating figure. He couldn’t tell if the person was alive or not, but it was definitely a person.

     Hinata jumped into the water towards the body, surfacing after a moment to move himself towards the floater. He thought back to his mother’s teachings, getting an arm around the person's shoulders, and flipping them over so their head rested on his own shoulder before swimming to the nearest edge. Hinata was a fair bit smaller than this person, and their clothing was heavily waterlogged. He struggled to pull the man to the edge, swallowing a fair amount of water himself before managing the trek. Finally he got there, pulling the two of them onto the grass. He heaved and coughed before quickly turning his attention to the prone figure.

     Brown eyes watched the man’s still chest. He pressed his ear to the man’s chest, hearing a very faint, buh-bump, buh-bump…

     That was all of the motivation he needed. He tipped the man’s head back, and opened his mouth clearing his airways before kneeling next to his chest. He stacked his own hands on top of one another, placing them in the center of the man’s chest, he began to push. One, two, three, four, five… he pressed hard maintaining a fast rhythm. After thirty compression's, he moved to the man’s mouth, tilting the chin again and looking into his mouth. Nothing. He pinched the man’s nose, and brought their lips together.

     The man’s skin was cold. Hinata locked his mouth against the strangers and pushed air into him. Once, twice, three times. He watched as the man’s chest barely moved with each breath. Quickly he returned to chest compression's. He continued this back and forth until his arms burnt, and a resounding crack sounded as a number of ribs fractured under the pressure. More breaths, then back to compression's. On the third time around, there was finally a response. The man began coughing and choking.

      Hinata helped him tilt his body to the side a bit so he could cough out the water. Pretty soon he was breathing somewhat normally on his own, his dark blue eyes, like the depths of the ocean slowly opening.

     Kageyama...

---

      Water splashed over his face. Hinata blinked and sputtered, his throat feeling wrecked. He didn’t know if he could even speak with the amount of pain his throat was in.

      “Has Nekomata-sama and Ukai-sama met in the last month?”

     “I DON’T KNOW!” Yaku wailed. Hinata could see him straining against his bindings as tears streaked down his face, “STOP IT! HE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS! I DON’T HAVE ACCESS TO THE INFORMATION YOU WANT!”

      “Then we have no use for him.”

      “DON’T YOU FUCKING DARE! I’LL KILL YOU ALL IF YOU TOUCH HIM!”

     “Such big words for a man incapable of doing… well, anything.” The tall man nodded again.

     Hinata didn’t have any energy to struggle. He stared straight ahead at Yaku with eyes that displayed defeat.

     This was it. This was how he’d die. Strangulation in some off the map warehouse, surrounded by strangers at the hands of the Yakuza.

      The brute crouched again, this time with an elegant looking blade in his hand. He lowered the blade to Hinata’s thigh and sliced deep. Hinata’s eyes grew wide, but he made no sound other than a high pitched, inhuman sounding whine in the back of his throat. He hardly felt the cut, but the sight of blood bubbling so thickly out of the wound had him transfixed.

     “I wonder, how long will it take for a boy that size to bleed out? He doesn’t look like he’s been eating or drinking much lately either…”

     “Son of a bitch, when they come for me, and they will… I’m going to cut you open and display your corpse.”

     “Ohh, such colourful threats!” The tall foreigner mused, “Where is Ukai-sama.”

      “Listen! I’m not some cold hearted gangster that can just sit back and watch some innocent kid bite it! I’d fucking tell you if I knew!” Yaku growled, dangerously.

     The man nodded again. This time the blade opened a long cut down Hinata’s left side, running against his ribs, down to his hip. Hinata’s head rolled on his neck as the burning heat that accompanied splitting flesh found his senses.

     “What is Sumiyoshi-kai planning with the recent acquisition of the floating vessel Hiroshi, and the north eastern docks?”

     Yaku’s eyes were wide despite his own fatigue, flicking rapidly between Hinata who was slowly growing more pale, and the tall man. He was stuck, even Hinata could tell he was holding back on information now, silently measuring the worth of the information in comparison to Hinata’s life.

     The man nodded again, “You’re running out of time, Yaku-kun.”

     The knife cut diagonally across Hinata’ chest, the man having to reach through the younger’s arms to gain access to the fleshy spot. Blood began to dye his shirt in a dark bloom.

     Fading. He could feel himself growing colder by the second.

     Yaku closed his eyes, and looked to Hinata. “I-I can’t… I don’t…”

     Gunfire erupted outside the building, and everyone sprang to action. Weapons were drawn from within jackets as the men all dispersed to find the culprits, leaving Yaku and Hinata alone with the tall foreigner. He took a step towards Hinata, and tilted his head, his dark hair pushed back from his face, to reveal his mock saddened expression. “A pity, your friends got so close, only to lose you anywa-” The left side of the man’s head exploded violently. The gunshot echoed noisily through the building, leaving Hinata’s ears ringing once again. His body was all but dead weight, as he basically hung by his wrists. His limp body trying as hard as it could to be horizontal on the floor.

     “K...yma….k...ym..” Hinata croaked desperately.

Chapter Text

     Kageyama’s POV

      He sat in silence as members of the Dahlia began preparing themselves in any way possible. In the kitchen Nishinoya was comforting Asahi who looked about ready to vomit, while the sworn Yakuza members of the group congregated near one of the two bedrooms. Kageyama watched as Ukai began checking their weapons, and Saeko passed out ammunition from her hidden stash. Tanaka, Daichi and Sugawara began securing the spare ammo to holsters which they had pulled on over their shirts. They were complicated looking rigs that crossed their backs with an X, the guns sitting snug on the ribcage under their arms. Of everyone there, there were only six members of the Yakuza. The three youngsters, plus Saeko, Ukai, and Takinoue. Ukai and Taninoue had brought their own weapons with them, and were ready to go. Tsukishima quietly approached the group, looking stern.

      “I know I’m not sworn or anything, but there is no way I’m walking in there unarmed.” The Lanky blonde stated, crossing his arms.

      “Kid, I don’t want to hand you a gun if you don’t know how to use it.” Ukai stated simply, not even looking at Tsukishima as he checked his own weapon before holstering it.

      “So what, we’re just going to walk in, act as cannon fodder?”

      Ukai looked genuinely offended; “Tsukishima-kun, in what world could you possibly imagine me sending you into the heat of this unarmed?” He straightened, his handgun now secure in his shoulder rig, “Every person who will be accompanying us into combat will be armed with a blade, and paired with someone with a gun. Those of us with ballistics will act as cover, and guard, while those of you with knives will be in charge of navigation, communication and retrieval.” Ukai spoke loud enough this time for everyone to hear. Tsukishima looked at his feet, a scowl covering his face. “Listen, I know a lot of you are scared-” He paused, and reworded his statement after receiving Tsukki’s glare, “or a bit nervous… but we aren’t sending anyone in there without a plan.”

      A shadow blocked a portion of natural daylight as a large man stood in the doorway, his hair grazing the frame. “Gettin’ started with out us, oh?” All eyes turned to the newcomer, a smug looking man with his shoulders slouched, and hands in his pockets. Half hidden behind his tall frame was a shorter man with a soft looking face and outgrown bleached hair. His eyes were down, attention engrossed in a handheld tablet of some sort.

      “Kuroo-san, why are you-” Tsukishima began, but was cut off when Ukai strode forward, extending his hand to shake. The taller man dubbed Kuroo met the man in the middle as they clasped forearms.

      “Figured the old man would send you two.” Ukai mused, looking down at the petite tech wizard, “Kenma-kun, where would you like to set up?”

      Gold eyes flicked away from the tablet to slowly drift around the room. His gaze settled on a corner of the main living space that had an outlet and a lamp. He extended his finger to the spot, and mumbled, “That should be fine.”

      The Tanaka siblings got to work immediately, bringing a collapsible desk from Ryuu’s room along with a chair to set up in the corner. They also dug out a number of extension cords, and outlet extenders so Kenma could have multiple electronics plugged in. Kageyama mentally noted how smoothly this all went, they’d probably worked together with this Kenma guy before. Kageyama had met the two men before, but never really spoke to them. Kuroo was often seen hanging around Tsukishima, and Kenma was usually acting as the taller man’s shadow.

      The quieter man stepped out from behind Kuroo and shrugged off a backpack that looked to be nearly as big as he was, or at least as heavy. He lowered it carefully to the floor, and began to unpack two laptops and a series of electronics that Kageyama couldn’t even attempt to identify. They had lots of small lights and dials on them, and one even had a screen that reminded him of an old radar. Kuroo lowered his own pack and pulled out an entire radio set, complete with discreet earpieces, and lightweight battery packs.

      It took about an hour for the two men to set everything up, but when they were done, they’d turned the corner of the living space into a tech junkie's wet dream. Kenma sat at the helm of the computer system, headphones dwarfing his small crown, while Kuroo an Sugawara tested the radios and earpieces.

      Kageyama was growing impatient. He tapped his index finger restlessly on the floor next to him as he observed everyone. He felt pretty useless, not having any idea how to use the tech, or any knowledge in firearms. He had to wait to be tasked with something from Ukai.

      “Ukai-Sama…” Kuroo suddenly called out, scowling at his phone. The blonde Yakuza Lieutenant approached the tall younger man, “Nekomata-sama sent three of our comrades out into the field as a preemptive scouting party- two have reported back, but we haven’t been able to connect with the third.”

      Ukai scowled, tapping his chin. “Where were your comrades located?”

      “Nobuyuki-san took the northern warehouse district, Taketora-kun tailed the pigs you sent to disturb Igarashi, and Yaku took the docks. It’s Yaku-san we can’t get a hold of.” Kuroo stated, his expression and voice flat, which only made it more obvious to Kageyama that he was trying to hide his worry.

      “What did the other two report?”

      “Nobu-san reported that there was a fair amount of movement, however hasn’t seen anything specific to indicate Hinata’s presence. A number of vehicles have been seen coming and going, including trucks carrying shipping containers. Before we lost contact with Yaku, he reported the same.” Kuroo informed, “Taketora-kun has confirmed Igarashi’s presence on the docks that hold one of his international shipping vessels, along with two anti-gang members, Junsa Kenjiro Shirabu, and Junsa Tsutomu Goshiki.”

      “Alright, have all updates go through Kenma, and keep us updated.” Kuroo nodded, and approached Kenma to fill the young man in, “the rest of you, it’s time to get going.”

     

     ---

      His stomach was a mess of nerves, fear, and excitement as he sat in the back of the nondescript white van. The road was bumpy, and the group of people around him remained silent. They’d been split into pairs- ballistics, and navigation; then grouped into two teams. One would go to the docks, the other to the northern warehouses. Shimada was at the helm, taking them through a route set out for them by Kenma who was acting as their angelic eye while the Dahlia’s cook kept them moving behind the wheel. Ryuu sat quietly in the front passenger seat, his knuckles white as he clenched his hands together in his lap, though his face remained calm save for the light sweat that had broken out on his brow.

      “Do you think he’ll help us?” Sugawara asked quietly, looking across at Ukai. The back of the van was set up with two bench seats, facing each other on either side of the vehicle. Kageyama had seen them use this van for loading kegs, and other crates, but he’d never travelled in it before. The raven haired man looked between the two older men, eyes curious.

     “I hope so, it’ll be up to Kinoshita-kun to convince Takeda-sensei to help us again. He’s been avoiding me since the last time.” Kageyama raised his brow at this, last time? He knew Takeda-sensei as a young family practitioner who sometimes came to the Dahlia to drink with some of his friends from med school, but what did he have to do with this?

     “Last time?” Kageyama asked, had Takeda-sensei seen to one of the Dahlia members as a patient?

     “Ah, right you wouldn’t know. After the incident at the park, Nishinoya-kun was in rough shape, and Daichi and Sugawara had collected some minor injuries of their own during the scuffle after you’d gone for a swim… we took them to Takeda-sensei. He helped of course, but he told us never to bother him again.”

     “Shouldn’t doctors help people?” Kageyama was shocked, the man had seemed so caring and reasonable.

     “He’s not dumb, he knew exactly what kind of business we are generally involved in, and he’s smart enough to keep himself far away from it. I just hope he’s willing to look in the opposite direction once more if there are any injuries tonight.” Ukai sighed and looked around at the group of people gathered in the van, “wishful thinking, but hopefully none of us will need to put the good Doctor in such a difficult spot.”

     Kageyama looked at his own clenched hands and nodded slowly. He’d seen the blood at Hinata’s place, the redhead would need some medical attention for sure, but how much? Would a family doctor be enough? He’d rather the man go to a proper hospital.

     “We just got a message from Yamaguchi-” Tanaka stated, looking down at his mobile. Next to Kageyama the tall brooding blonde twitched at the name. Behind his glasses he was scowling deeper than usual.

     Before they’d left, Kageyama had overheard the blonde talking to the shorter freckled man in the kitchen;

     “You’re not coming.” It had been a command, not a request or a question.

     “What do you mean I’m not coming, of course I am!” Yamaguchi had exclaimed, looking both flustered and irritated.

     “No. You’re not. You’re going to stay here and look after Hinata-chan, Kenma-san, and Yachi-san.” Again Tsukishima wasn’t allowing for any other option.

     “Kenma-san is more than capable of handling himself, and Kinoshita-san is here!”

     “Dammit idiot! I don’t want you out there!”

     The pair had grown quiet as Tsuki’s shoulders sat tensed. “W-why would you say that?” Yamaguchi had taken a step towards his childhood friend, his head tilting to get a better look at the blonde’s face as Tsukishima looked down, his frames hiding much of his expression.

     “I can’t go out there and focus on saving this kid, if I’m too busy worrying about you.” Tsukishima’s fists clenched as he looked back at the shorter man. Suddenly his hands loosened, while one was brought up to rest on top of Yamaguchi’s head. “Please… sit this one out?”

     Yamaguchi’s eyes were wide as he looked up at his friend, “Tsukki…”

     Again, softly, the blonde asked this time,”Please stay here and stay safe. Wait for me?”

     Kageyama felt it was time for him to stop intruding on their moment and leave the apartment, his cheeks red at witnessing that moment of softness from the usually stern man. It was another five minutes before Tsukishima emerged into the compound, his face looking more relaxed, however his ears were slightly pink. Kuroo seemed curious, but managed to avoid prodding while the plan was being fleshed out.

     Now the blonde sat next to him in the van, silently brooding over the event to come, “The Dock team has reported in, they are in position and awaiting the green light.” Tanaka reported, his head tilted to send his voice to the group in the back.

     “Shimada-san, what’s our ETA?” Ukai asked, looking down at his watch.

     “Twenty minutes out.”

     “Alright, everyone get your radios on, we’re using channel seven. Boys, weapons at the ready.”

     Everyone began moving at once except for Shimada. Tanaka had the man’s radio in his lap and got it set up for him. After that the Yakuza members prepared their guns, leaving the safety’s on. “Ready.” Sugawara stated, looking more serious than Kageyama had ever seen him.

     “You all know your assignments yes?” Everyone nodded or gave a grunt of approval. They were as ready as they were going to be.

     Kageyama mentally thought back to the plan, the dock teams were Kuroo and Asahi, Taninoue and Narita, Saeko and Nishinoya, and finally Daichi and Ennoshita. They’d gotten one extra team because of Yaku’s situation. Kageyama wanted so badly to be on the dock team, logically that’s where Hinata would have been if one of the scouts had disappeared. Ukai had forbade it though. He still wasn’t at one-hundred percent. He could either have stayed home like Ukai had wanted, or gone with the northern team, where they had a lower chance at conflict.

     Kageyama double checked the nine and a half inch fixed blade strapped to his hip as he tried to control his breathing. This was it.

     ---

     They pulled up next to a dark warehouse on the same stretch as the ones owned by Igarashi, but far enough away to avoid detection. Everyone got out of the van, and waited while Shimada got his radio set up. “Stay safe,” Ukai breathed, clasping forearms with each and every one of them before sending them off.

     “Let’s go.” Tanaka stated, his hands lightly shaking on his gun as he nodded towards the west alley towards the outskirts of the target warehouses.
They snuck close into a flanking position, but before they could make it to their designated relay point, a guard came into view at the end of the alley. Kageyama reacted quickly, pulling Tanaka behind a set of crates. They hid, completely still for a few moments, listening carefully for footsteps.

     “Team Ryuu report.” Yamaguchi’s voice came over the radio. He’d been tasked with keeping their team organized once they had boots on the ground, while Kenma organized the dock team.

     The two remained silent, their breathing shallow as the sound of footsteps approached. Tanaka slowly holstered his gun much to Kageyama’s disbelief. Within seconds the guard was next to them, eyes searching for whatever movement he’d spotted down the dark alley. Tanaka was a blur of speed and muscle as he clamped one hand over the man’s mouth, his other grabbing the man’s shoulder opposite to his hand, his forearm crossing the man’s throat. He pushed the man against the sheet metal wall of the warehouse and increased the pressure on the man’s adams apple. The guard struggled, clawing at Tanaka, but that momentary hesitation due to the surprise attack had sealed his fate. His oxygen ran out, his eyes slowly rolling up into his head. He began to sag against the wall, but Tanaka didn’t release him. He held the man’t throat for one, two, three, four seconds before slowly lowering him to the ground. Before they moved on, he checked the man’s pulse. He nodded to Kageyama who looked panicked. “He’s alive, but he’ll have a nasty headache in a few hours.”

     “Where the hell did you learn that?”

     “Shimada actually. He’s not a tough guy, but he’s all about technique. You should ask him for lessons.” Tanaka stated, looking smug.

     “Team Ryuu… report?”

     “Oh! Yes, we came across some trouble, but it’s been dealt with, heading to relay point now.”

     “Roger that.”

     The pair got moving again after hiding the unconscious guard behind the crates, arriving at their point after two more turns through the alleys. “Alright, Team Ryuu is in pos-” gunfire erupted through the compound. The pair jumped and quickly hid behind the nearest barrel. No shots came down their alley. With wide eyes Ryuu spoke into his earpiece again, “Shots fired! Report! Where did that come from?”

     “We need-” crackling came over the radio, heavy interference couldn’t muffle the gunshots that rang out through the radio and the air around them. “Team Sugawara needs backup!”

     Kageyama’s stomach felt like it hit the ground. “Team Ryuu is coming!” Tanaka hissed into the radio, taking off at a sprint to where Sugawara’s team was supposed to be.

      He could feel his heart trying to break through his chest, the thin alleys making him feel like he had tunnel vision as he ran after Tanaka. He wanted to shout at the man to be careful, that they might run into opposition, but that didn’t seem to be much of a problem. The few guards they came across were running in the same direction they were.

      “Updated report- Hinata-san and Yaku-san are not at the docks- the dock team is awaiting orders!”

      Kageyama wasn’t sure if that made him feel better or worse now. He didn’t want Hinata around all of this violence. Dammit! Why couldn’t they just leave him out of all of this! He could feel his eyes watering as he ran, feet pounding the cement with haste. A loud sound echoed off the metal walls around him, then a hiss past his left ear.

      Blue eyes grew wide as Tanaka dove to the side, a man in a suit stood at the end of the Alley, gun extended towards them. Three more pops shouted towards him, but he couldn’t make his body move.

      Force struck his side, sending him sprawling into the wall. Tanaka hissed against his chest. He’d tackled the younger man out of the way just in time. Blood blossomed on his arm where he got grazed. “T-tana-” Kageyama stammered. Tanaka moved with the quickness of adrenaline, ignoring his wound he raised his gun and fired off some rounds of his own. Suddenly it was quiet in their alley, save for the nearby sounds of battle. Kageyama peeked down the row and saw a prone form sprawled in a growing pool of blood. Tanaka had killed someone. The young yakuza member was shaking, his eyes wide with shock. “C-come on. We don’t have time to consider all of this.” Tanaka nodded, and allowed Kageyama to help him up.

      The pair set off again towards the fight, more cautiously this time. When they finally reached Sugawara’s position, they found their friend pinned down behind a truck riddled with bullet holes. Every so often a set of hands would peak out, and fire a handgun at the enemies. From their vantage point, Kageyama couldn’t see who it was, but judging by the height and the use of a gun he was able to deduce it was Sugawara. That reminded Kageyama, it had been Sugawara’s voice over the radio, not Tsukishima who was supposed to be handling his team’s navigation and radio chatter. Where was Tsukishima then?

     Tanaka positioned himself behind a barrel carefully and whispered, “Get yourself behind that warehouse. It’s about to get very noisy.”

     Their position was fortuitous, managing to flank the main horde of enemies. Tanaka had most of their backs to him, with enough of an angle to the truck not to worry about hitting Sugawara. He didn’t wait for this opportunity to disappear. “Suga-san, I’m in the alley at your two o’clock, on the other side of the truck. Hold your fire until their backs turn to you. Keep yourself covered.” Then he open fired.

     Bodies fell fast, while others dove for better cover, turning their weapons on the younger man. The barrier protecting Tanaka shook, and dented, sparks flying as bullets hit the metal and ricochet.

     Kageyama covered his body with the wall as best he could, trying to avoid catching a stray bullet. He heard another round of gunfire coming from a different direction, which made him want to duck in case they were also being flanked.

     “Foun- shhhhhhhhhhht - inata and yaku - shhhhhht- warehou-” These metal buildings were wreaking havoc on their radios. Kageyama activated his own radio and looked at Tanaka who was pinned down under the gunfire.

     “They found them!” His blue eyes were wide. Tanaka glared at him and shook his head. They weren’t leaving Sugawara and Tsukishima here.

     Kageyama didn’t want to leave their comrades pinned down either but… “There was gunfire in the direction of Ukai’s team-”

     “We aren’t leaving.” This time Tanaka didn’t use his radio. He simply shouted angrily. Kageyama slowly nodded, looking ashamed.

     Gunfire rang out again while the goons were reloading. Sugawara got his payback. Suddenly it was silent. The two men peeked out from their alley to see black and red strewn about.

     “Move fast, be careful, we can’t guarantee they’re all actually out.” Suga instructed over the radio. “Tanaka-san, stay there, cover Kageyama. I’m going to need help with Tsukishima-kun.” The two shared worried looks before Tanaka raised his weapon after reloading and giving Kageyama a nod. The raven haired man ducked out of the alley and sprinted to the truck, terrified that any of the prone forms might be playing dead.

     When he rounded the vehicle he saw Sugawara crouched next to Tsukishima who was sitting behind one of the large tires for protection. There was blood on his thigh, which the blonde was applying pressure to while Suga hastily tied a bandage around it. “That’ll do for now. Kageyama get under one of his arms.” Kageyama did as he was told, and the pair of them half dragged Tsukki out into the open. They were halfway to the alley when a gangster sat up with his gun raised. A shot fired and a new hole was introduced to the enemy’s sternum. “Thanks Tanaka-kun.” Sugawara breathed as they reached the man, Kageyama was both frightened and impressed by his friend. He knew his friend was tough and had been training a bit since becoming a sworn member, but he didn’t know he was that good of a shot. Tanaka must have recognized the expression on his face, resulting in a shrug.

     “Saeko’s been taking me shooting for a few years.”

     “No time for chit chat. We’ll take Tsukki to the van, Tanaka-san please go assist Uk-”

     “I’m not going to the van, I’m sorry… Hinata’s in this mess because of me, hell… we’re all in this mess because of me. I need to see this through, I need to be there.” His voice was shaking, along with his body. Tsukishima groggily lifted his arm from Kageyama’s shoulder, and shoved him away before putting some weight on his one good leg.

     “I’m not completely useless you know. Tanaka can’t go without backup.” The blonde grumbled. Suga blinked at him, as if asking if it was really okay. Tsukki nodded, and touched his earpiece. “Team Sugawara is heading back to the extraction point. Team Ryuu is heading in to provide backup for team Ukai.”

     There was a pause, then a relieved sounding voice on the line, “Roger that. The dock teams have been recruited to your location for extraction, eta forty minutes.”

     Kageyama felt some relief at that, Kenma must be doing a gods work to get the team to the warehouses in forty minutes. He absently wondered if the man had hacked into the traffic grid to manipulate traffic in their favour. He’d remind himself to ask if they made it through this.

     “Stay safe.” Suga mentioned over his shoulder as he helped Tsukki away from the others.

     “You too.”

     The pair set off at a run again towards Ukai’s location, and reached it in under a minute. It was eerily quiet after all of the gunfire. Ryuu had his weapon at the ready as they neared a large bay door with blacked out windows. They crept along the building, listening for any sounds. Nothing. Where had the gunfire come from? There were so many buildings… A crash sounded from inside, paired with some scuffling. The two ran along the side of the warehouse looking for any other entrance. On the back side there were stairs leading to another door which sat slightly ajar. The pair double timed it up the stairs and crashed through the portal. They were in a room which looked like any kind of shipping office, only messier. There had definitely been a struggle. Two loud bangs alerted them to further gunfire.

     “You… you rat bastard…” Ukai’s voice came to them through another door. They approached carefully, keeping low as they exited onto a catwalk.

     “What, you thought the leadership of the Yakuza could change hands without some bloodshed and power grabs? I know you’re young, but you can’t be that foolish.”

     They looked down into the room below and saw Ukai disarmed, back against a box, and his hands clutched to his side.

     “Ukai-kun…” The man who stood over him with a gun trained to his chest sang, His kimono a mess of dirt and blood, “I’ve only got a few years on you, but I’ve been at this game far longer than you have. If you think your grandfather and the other leaders under Sumiyoshi-kai can maintain power over Tokyo, you are sorely mistaken.”

     Ukai coughed, the sound echoing through the room, “don’t count us out yet Igarashi-san.”

     Tanaka didn’t wait any longer. He’d been setting up his shot during the conversation, and he was ready. Gunfire sounded once more, raining down upon the tall auburn haired man. He dove with unnatural grace out of the range of bullets, however he didn’t exit unscathed. Force exploded into his shoulder and he stumbled back into the bay door, Ryuu was forced to reload, and the man took that chance to fire off three shots to make the two younger men duck for cover before running off under the catwalk where they couldn’t see him. The sound of a door slamming offered them evidence to his departure.

     “Bastard got away…” They heard Ukai mutter. The two men stood quickly and ran down the catwalk. Tanaka went straight for Ukai while Kageyama looked frantically for the small redhead.

     There he was, a small ball, chained, unmoving. Kageyama felt his heart sink at the sight. Another man was sluggish, tied up across from Hinata.

     “Who… who’s there?” The stranger groaned, on the verge of unconsciousness. Kageyama ran to the redhead’s side, his hands reaching out to touch him. He hesitated. What if he was too late? What if he touched the man and felt nothing but a lifeless corpse?

     “Is he alive?” he heard Ukai call out.

     Kageyama snapped out of it and reached for the small man’s neck. He saw horrible bruising and rope burn across the pale flesh; rage bubbled in his gut. Long fingers felt gently around for a pulse. He felt something light, as if Hinata’s heartbeat was as fragile as a butterfly’s fluttering wing. Oceanic eyes flew over his form, taking in the injuries.

     Hinata was bleeding out from three large wounds. Kageyama quickly pulled off his sweater and unsheathed his knife. He made quick work, cutting thick strips and wrapping the wounds as best he could. Once Hinata’s chest, side and leg were bound, he started working on the chain.

     “That man… the one with the fucked up head… check ‘em for a key.” the other prisoner muttered, nodding towards the foreigner who’d had made friends with a bullet to the skull.

     Tanaka appeared, having left Ukai to help Kageyama. He searched the corpse and found a ring of small keys. One by one he tried the keys while the younger man supported the limp redhead. Finally the cuffs came undone, clattering to the ground. Tanaka moved to the other man, “I’m assuming you’re Yaku-san?” Kageyama heard a grunted affirmative, however his attention was elsewhere.

     Hinata shifted in his arms, it was hardly a noticeable movement, but he was sure that the smaller man had indeed moved. Kageyama touched the man’s cheek, turning his face towards his own to get a better look at the damage.

     Slowly brown eyes cracked open. “Kah…” The sound was breathy and dry, as if the young man had been trapped in a desert for a week- or strangled a few times.

     “Hinata-san, don’t try to speak…” Kageyama could hear his own voice shaking as he cradled the man’s cheek, his other arm wrapped securely around his former saviour’s thin body.

     “I don’t want to break up the touching reunion, but we do need to go.” Ukai warned. He’d stood up, his own hand applying pressure to the wound in his side. He was pale, with a thin sheen of sweat covering his dirty brow. “The plan’s gone sideways as it is, the least we can do is get out of here in as many pieces as we are currently in without losing more along the way.” He looked down to Tanaka and Yaku, “Is he movable?”

     Tanaka mimicked Sugawara and acted as a crutch for the exhausted and injured man. “Sort of, but it won’t be comfortable.”

     “I can deal with some discomfort, just get me out of this godforsaken place.” Yaku groaned, before adding, “please.”

     “Kageyama?”

     The man was working Hinata into his arms, trying not to jostle him too much. He seemed smaller than before, though it could have been his imagination. Kageyama lifted the petite man and felt his healing injuries protest. He could do this, he had to do this.

     A small hand clutched the collar of his shirt as Hinata pressed his cheek against Kageyama’s shoulder. The redhead took a ragged breath through his nose, inhaling the scent that clung to the raven haired man, before relaxing into the arms that held him. “Don’t you give up on me now.” Kageyama warned, turning to leave through the door Igarashi had escaped through.

     “Team Ryuu - shhhhhht- ort” As the group of five neared the exit, the radio began working again.

     “Team Ryuu please resp- shhhhhhht”

     They left the building and head towards the extraction point as fast as they could with the injuries they had. “This is Team Ryuu, with the Boss, Hinata-san, and Yaku-san in tow. We’re headed for the extraction point- do you read?”

     “Roger that! Shimada-san arrived with Team Sugawara, however there has been signs of increased activity between your last known point and the extraction point!”

     “Shit…” Ukai grumbled. “Would it be too much to ask for a pickup? We’ve got injured, and very little ammo.”

     There was a delay before a response came through, “This is Shimada- head for Team Ryuu’s original flanking point. We’ll come to you. Be prepared to jump into the van.”

     “Right.”

     They changed directions and head as quickly as possible to the flanking point. Kageyama’s arms were burning, but he refused to take a break. Every second was crucial.

     Finally they arrived, and hunkered down behind some cover.

     “We’re in position.”

     There was no need for a response. Soon screeching tires greeted them on the closest street to their alley. Further gunfire echoed around the buildings as the enemy reinforcements finally caught up to them. The back door was thrown open as the van skid to a halt. Sugawara leaned out with his arms extended, and immediately helped Tanaka and Yaku clamber into the vehicle. Ukai all but dove head first into the cover of the truck while bullets narrowly missed them. Kageyama gulped and ran out of the cover, turning his body to protect his friend from the spray of bullets.

     Hissing sounds flew by his ears, and he felt heat bite into the skin on the edge of his arm. He dove into the van sliding against the floor with Hinata on his chest until he slid into Ukai who grunted in discomfort. Suga slammed the doors shut encasing them in complete darkness as Shimada hit the gas. Suga was thrown roughly into the side of the vehicle as they sped away, taking sharp turns and swerving this way and that. Suga slid to the floor of the van to join the rest of them, arms reaching to hold onto one another for some form of modest safety.

     Finally the van straightened out, however the speed didn’t die down.

     “Alright! North team is out of the warehouses, and heading for the city, we’ve got a full load and need medical attention immediately.” Ukai barked into his earpiece.

     “Rendezvous with dock team at the Shimizu Private Clinic.”

Chapter Text

     Hinata’s POV

      He felt cold. The pain that coursed through his body completely lost to him as he floated in this semi-conscious state. He saw the side of the man’s head explode as the rest of his body crumpled in turn, the maroon stain adding further grime to the floor beneath. His breath was slow, heavy, like every inhale was coated in lead weighing the air down, and making it hard to swallow as the gore unfolded before him.

      “Hinata-kun!” An unfamiliar voice called out at the end of a dim tunnel, the noise reached him, however the meaning was lost on his waning attention. A man nearly threw himself down the stairs from the catwalk, running to kneel in front of the redheads crumpled form. He had blonde hair, and earrings, and in one hand there was a gun. Hinata wanted to struggle away from the stranger, kick and squirm until the threat was far away, however his limbs were unresponsive. The man holstered his weapon and looked over his shoulder at the other prisoner. “Yaku-kun, how are you holding up?”

      “Much better than he is, you got backup coming?”

      “I’ve called for some, my partner and I got separated on the way.” The stranger turned back to Hinata and gently touched his cheeks, his eyes looking over his wounds. “Hinata-kun, can you hear me? My name is Ukai Keishin, I came here with Kageyama and the rest of the Black Dahlia staff.”

      Hinata managed to weakly focus his eyes on the man, a soft whimper escaping his throat.

      “It’s going to be alright, we’re going to get you out of here.” Ukai assured, his attention moving to the cuffs locking his thin wrists to the wall.

      Sound erupted from behind Yaku, and chunks of wall flew past Hinata’s head. Hot blood splattered against his already tattered shirt as Ukai cried out in pain. The man didn’t let what had happened slow him down however. He quickly turned and drew his own weapon, firing off multiple rounds. Whoever had made the shot quickly dove behind some boxes out of sight.

      “I seem to recall hearing that you were occupied with some officers, Igarashi-san?”

      “You need to try better than that, Ukai-kun! You think I can’t see through a fake search warrant? You must have been pretty desperate to involve those poor junior officers.” The man’s voice echoed around the room, singing his taunt.

      “I was at least hoping it would distract you for a few hours…” Ukai sighed. Hinata was scared stiff at the sound of Igarashi’s voice. He did notice however the red bloom extending over his rescuer’s side.

      Ukai glanced quickly at the two bound men, and slowly moved away from them as to not get them caught in the crossfire. He inched towards Igarashi’s hiding spot, his back to the large crates. He was ready when the auburn haired man made his move. When the man’s arm extended into view to train onto his next victim, Ukai brought the butt of his own gun down on the man’s elbow, before smacking the weapon out of his hand. The gun clattered to the floor, far out of reach. Igarashi wasn’t finished however; he doubled over, taking Ukai in a rugby style tackle to the floor, knocking his gun away in the process as well.

      The two men grappled, a mess of limbs, bloody fabric, and dirty kimono. Igarashi was the scrappier of the two, with longer limbs and clothing that allow for freer movement. He snaked himself around Ukai’s back while Ukai was stuck on his knees. The auburn haired man locked his left arm around the Dahlia owner's neck, the left hand grabbing onto his own right bicep while his right hand pressed against the back of the blonde’s head, pushing it forward and constricting his breath.

      Ukai gasped, and clawed at the man’s arms, his eyes wide as he struggled. The blonde pushed his left foot out straight to his side, and brought his left hand up to push his palm upwards against Igarashi’s left elbow, his right hand grasping the left wrist which sat just next to his throat. Next Ukai sat, his lowered body weight slightly hindering his enemy’s balance, before he pushed his own right shoulder forwards towards the ground, tucking his head as if he was about to roll. The movement pulled Igarashi forward, tossing him over Ukai’s lowered shoulder and onto his back. Hinata had never seen a move like that, and had he been more in his right mind, he’d probably have been impressed.

      Ukai didn’t hesitate, he threw an elbow at the man’s face, making contact before Igarashi managed to roll away out of his reach. The man sputtered, his lip bleeding heavily as both men gasped for breath. The pause lasted no more than a second before they were diving at one another again, Ukai getting to his feet first managed to toss a few punches, though none of them made contact as the enemy dodged expertly. Igarashi faked a right hook before diving off to the side, rolling off of his shoulder and rising again.

      This time he had one of the discarded guns in his hand, which he picked up during his roll. He fired two rounds, causing Ukai to throw himself away from the projectiles. The blonde slammed into the crates, managing to avoid both shots. Igarashi approached calmly, his hand steady as he pointed the gun at Ukai’s head. The blonde looked spent, he was slumped against the crates, holding onto the wound in his side as he stared death in the face. “You… you rat bastard…” Ukai coughed out.

      Hinata felt doom weigh down upon him. He knew he was dying already, he’d lost so much blood, and he could hardly feel his own body anymore… and now his rescuer was about to bite it too. Who would take care of Natsu? He was sure Yachi would, but she shouldn’t have to- taking care of the young girl was his duty! He hadn’t gotten to see her graduate, hadn’t gotten to get his degree, never got to fall in love and start a family… he was so young, why did he have to die? Why did any of this have to happen? Why couldn’t he just got on living normally? His thoughts were spiralling as the two men held their own conversation, though through all of his depressive thoughts, the thought that this was all because of Kageyama never crossed his mind. He didn’t have the capacity in his heart to blame the man, because deep down, he knew this was not his fault. Bad things often befell good people. The world was unfair that way.

      Blackness closed in around him as he pictured the smiling face of his sister, then Yachi, his last memories of his parents, Kageyama… The gunfire that exploded around him didn’t register as he fell completely limp in his chains, waiting for heaven to take him.

     ---

      Warmth, like a soft blanket fresh from the laundry enveloped him, something hot and damp cupped his cheek. A hand? Was this a servant from the afterlife here to welcome him? He slowly opened his eyes, expecting to see blinding white angelic light, but instead he was greeted with the same dirty warehouse… and deep blue eyes.

      Kageyama… oh, thank… You found me, you came to get me…

      There was so much he wanted to say, but his voice wouldn’t work. A croaked “Kah…” come out, but nothing more.

     Then he was being held again, close to Kageyama’s body. The scent Hinata had been missing came flooding back along with the salty tang of sweat. Metal clattered noisily, and suddenly the cool pressure on his wrists was lifted. Kageyama held him close, and scooped him up as if he were some damsel in distress.

     Their bodies were flush together, however Hinata felt that it wasn’t enough. He wanted Kageyama’s scent to completely envelop him in a blanket of safety. Hinata buried his face in Kageyama’s shoulder, his hand clamping weakly to the fabric of his sweaty shirt. He hardly registered that there were others around them, or that they were moving again, until a white van dotted with bullet scars came peeling down the road next to them. The doors opened, and one by one they were diving into the safety of the vehicle.

      Kageyama squeezed him tight against his chest as he dove into the vehicle, strange hissing noises flashing past their senses. Then darkness. They had made it into the van, and they were off, speeding away from the horrors of that warehouse.

      Hinata could feel bodies, warm, and alive pressed against him- but he was also suddenly in cased in metal coated darkness once more. With what little strength he had he began to breathe faster, shaking like a dry leaf in a windstorm.

      “N...no…. No.. please let me out, please… I’ll be good, please don’t keep me in here…” His words were hardly discernible, the damage to his throat making the syllables garbled and broken.

      “Shhh, shhh… Hinata-san, it’s me, it’s Kageyama. You’re safe now.” As if on queue the van straightened out, and the speed increased as they made it onto the highway. Ukai spoke into the radio as Kageyama held the redhead close to his chest, one hand stroking the smaller man’s dirty hair for comfort.

      Hinata weakly sobbed, hardly noticing the comforting gesture as his fear engulfed him. In his mind he was no longer in the van with his saviours, rather he was still trapped in that shipping container, beating his knuckles bloody trying to escape.

     ---

     

      Hinata didn’t remember falling asleep, or more likely, passing out. However when he woke, he was laying down on a soft mattress, with wires sticking out of his shirt, tubes coming from his arm, and an oxygen mask over his nose and mouth.

      Beep…. Beep… Beepbeep…. Beep…

      The heart monitor next to him was the first thing he heard as his eyes slid open to glance cautiously around the room. He was alone. The room was small, private, with sterile white walls, and furniture.

      He thought about sitting up, but found that his body was still far to weak to move. He lay there silently, listening, waiting for any change in environment. Was he truly safe now?

      Something in him broke, he was in a strange limbo of feeling like he was ready to just die, and wanting so desperately to live. He’d been through hell, and no, he didn’t want a post card. Hot tears trickled down his cheeks as he silently sobbed, his hands clenching into weak fists in the sheets next to him.

      The door opened slowly, a head covered in dark raven hair poked through, however the man was looking down. He had his phone in one hand, and a coffee in the other, his brow furrowed deeply as he read the small illuminated screen. Kageyama sighed deeply, pushing the phone back into the pocket of his black hoodie before allowing his blue gaze to rise. Kageyama froze stiff at the sight of Hinata, eyes open, and crying.

      He didn’t stay frozen for long. Hinata watched through swollen eyes as the man nearly tossed the coffee on a small table before hurrying the rest of the way to the redhead’s side. Kageyama froze next to the bed, hands outstretched as if he wanted to do something, anything. Hinata released one of his fists from the blankets, and let his hand slowly rise towards Kageyama. The man instantly reacted, taking the small shaky hand in both of his own.

      “H-Hinata-san…” His voice was raspy, and he had dark circles under his eyes from lack of sleep. “A-are you in any pain?” The look on his face was a torrent of worry, blue eyes searching Hinata’s face for any indication of pain. Hinata shook his head slowly and continued to cry, tears staining the pillow on either side. “Ah… I-I’ll call the doctor, okay? I’ll be right back-” Kageyama began to release his hold on Hinata’s hand, his body turning away from the smaller man to head out of the room, however Hinata managed to squeeze onto one of Kageyama’s long digits.

      A whimper came from Hinata’s throat, as his eyes continued to spill tears. Kageyama stopped, and turned back to the redhead, his one free hand raising to wipe some tears off of his cheek. “P-please…” was all Hinata could manage to say through his damaged throat.

      “Okay, I won’t go anywhere.” Kageyama withdrew his hand from Hinata’s face, and grabbed his phone out of his pocket. “I’ll text one of the others to fetch the doctor.”

      While Kageyama worked his phone with one hand, Hinata slowly began to calm down, his eyes no longer completely clouded by tears he was able to look closely at his friend. Kageyama looked exhausted, his clothing wrinkled and his hair disheveled. On top of that, he had small scrapes and bruises on his hands, and face, though they didn’t look like they came from a fist fight, rather from flying debris.

      The taller man placed his phone in his pocket, before turning his body slightly to sit on the edge of the bed. “Hinata…” Kageyama said, his expression somber. Hinata blinked up at him, slightly startled that the man had spoken so familiarly. “I’m so sorry this happened… if I had left sooner, shown my face at the Dahlia- you could have remained separate from this world- OW!” Hinata had pinched Kageyama on the pressure point between his thumb and index finger quite hard.

      “No… not your-” Hinata croaked before coughing heavily into the mask, his breath heaving from the discomfort.

      Kageyama opened his mouth, his brow furrowed as if he was about to scold the man for talking, when the door opened. A man not much taller than Hinata entered, dressed professionally with a black tie, and lab coat. “Sorry for intruding,” He bowed his head, his unruly hair sticking up on odd angles, while the bow caused his large glasses to slide down his small nose. Hinata blinked at him, his hand still wrapped comfortably in Kageyama’s. “I’m Doctor Ittetsu Takeda.” Purposeful strides brought the doctor to the bedside, his smile warm as he looked upon the comforting scene.

      “Ah, Takeda-Sensei… I’ll get out of your way.” Kageyama released Hinata’s hand, his ears red with a flush that Hinata couldn’t understand.

      “Thank you-” The doctor began, however he saw the panicked look on the small man’s face as he outstretched his arm for his friend, “Unless Hinata-kun would prefer your presence? I’ll need to check your wounds, so you may prefer the privacy…” The doctor explained, Hinata shook his head to the best of his ability, still reaching for Kageyama. The taller man looked between his bedridden friend, and the doctor, not sure if he should stay like his heart was screaming at him to- or to leave the two in privacy.

      “St-stay…” Hinata croaked, eyes watery again.

     Kageyama looked back to the doctor for further permission, his fists clenched as he all but rocked on his heels to prevent himself from returning to the man’s side. “There is a stool in the corner, you can bring it along side Hinata-kun’s bed on the side closest to the window.” Takeda’s smile remained, and his voice was soft as he watched Kageyama spring to action. Within seconds the tall man was seated next to Hinata once more, his hand enveloping the others small palm. “Okay Hinata-kun, I’m going to take off the oxygen mask, and exchange it for this-” The doctor walked to a machine next to the bed, and held up a long clear tube with two small prongs extending from it. “It will rest on your upper lip below your nose, and I will secure it in place behind your ears.” Hinata slowly nodded, looking at the contraption with a slightly concerned expression. It didn’t sound very comfortable.

     The doctor carefully removed the mask from the young man’s face, taking care not to irritate any of the facial bruising present, before replacing it with the nasal cannula. It felt odd, the cool air blowing feather light up his nose. It tickled at first, but Hinata soon grew accustomed to it.

     “Alright, Hinata-kun, are you feeling any kind of pain anywhere?” Hinata frowned slightly, and thought about the dull ache that was pretty much everywhere. He wouldn’t call it pain, but it definitely wasn't comfortable. He lifted his free hand slightly and held it flat, horizontally before rocking it side to side in a “sort of” motion. Then he tapped his throat to indicate what was the worst. “To be expected. Okay, I’m going to up the dosage slightly on your painkillers. It may make you feel a bit more groggy than you do now.” Hinata nodded.

     The doctor focused on one of the machines next to the bed, and within a few minutes, a slight tingling sensation trickled through Hinata before the aches seeped away. He felt rather floaty, and his mouth felt quite dry. “W-water…” He croaked.

     Takeda turned back to him and nodded, “Let’s see if we can get you seated, and then I’ll get you something to drink.” It took some maneuvering, however with the aid of the electronic bed which moved into a sloped seated position, and the fluffy pillows placed around him by the doctor and Kageyama, Hinata was finally seated. A yellow sippy cup with a bright blue straw was handed to him, however his arms felt like noodles now that the pain meds were really working.

     “Here, dumba-” Kageyama grumbled, his cheeks flaring as he recalled his bedside manners, “Hinata-san” He took the cup from the redhead, and held it in front of his mouth, angling the straw for him. Hinata took a few slow sips, and sighed, settling back into the pillows. Kageyama was close to him, watching him carefully with his dark blue eyes that seemed to see right through him. It made Hinata’s stomach flip as he turned his face back to the doctor in a sudden flush of embarrassment.

     “T-thanks..” He mumbled.

     “Okay, I’ve got to run a few tests before checking your injuries, let me know if at any point you feel pain, okay?” Hinata nodded to the doctor who was holding out some sort of inflatable cuff. Takeda set it on the edge of the bed, and carefully pulled back Hinata’s blankets to his hips. Hinata was wearing a soft button down cotton top, however he could see the bulges beneath from the bandages. “I’m going to remove your shirt for now so I can access your injuries and your arm, alright?” Hinata slowly nodded.

     Takeda gently unbuttoned the shirt, exposing pale, bruised flesh patched like an old quilt with bandages. He looked horrible. Hinata felt his lip quiver as he gazed down at his marred flesh, wondering how bad it was under the large bandages that crossed his side, and his chest. He’d noticed the bandages that covered his wrists, and could feel a few more on his legs, and back, but the ones on his chest and side were the largest. Takeda carefully removed Hinata’s arm from the sleeve on the side closest to him, which was free from the wires and needles. The hand Kageyama carefully held was riddled with small bandages and tape holding the needles and such in place. Careful not to put pressure on the young man’s injured wrist, Takeda slipped the cuff up over Hinata’s bicep.

     “This may get uncomfortable as it inflates. It might be best to just focus on your friend there.” Takeda warned. Usually testing blood pressure wasn’t a terrible feat, however Hinata understood his mindset. He’d been chained up, held down and abused relentlessly for days- this simple test could set him off the deep end. Even in his exhausted state, Hinata was aware of how weak he was, physically and mentally. He turned his head back to Kageyama, and focused on his breathing, which thanks to the pain meds, was fairly easy despite the broken ribs.

     The doctor placed the stethoscope on the pulse point under the edge of the cuff, and then slowly began to inflate it. Tightness closed in around Hinata’s arm, before causing a tightening in his chest. He began to breathe faster, panic eating at his resolve. Kageyama began to stroke circles on Hinata’s palm to comfort him, which helped a little, but not nearly enough to stem the tide of this panic attack. Hinata’s eyes watered as his resolve threatened to shatter entirely. Suddenly he felt it- thumpthump… Thumpthump… Kageyama had brought Hinata’s hand to his own chest, allowing the small man to feel the steady beat of his heart. He slowly inhaled, and then exhaled, “Breathe with me.” Kageyama commanded softly. Hinata inhaled a shaky breath, copying Kageyama. They exhaled in unison. Hinata’s hand held over Kageyama’s heart as the pair took breath after breath as one. Beepbeep… beepbeep… Kageyama’s face grew pink as the heart monitor matched up with his own heartbeat. Hinata’s eyes were closed, his face relaxed as he focused on his breathing and Kageyama’s heart.

     “Okay Hinata-kun, stay just like that, I’m going to draw some blood for tests.”

     “Mm..” The man mumbled in return, completely relaxed.

     Without any struggle, or further panic, the doctor was able to extract a number of small vials full of the dark crimson liquid from Hinata’s arm.

     Cool metal was slid behind Hinata, “Take a deep breath... “ The doctor listened through the stethoscope as he pressed it against the patient’s ribcage. They did this a number of times in different spots before the stethoscope was removed. “Okay, I’m going to call in the nurse now to help with your wounds.”

     “Mm…” Hinata muttered again. The doctor retreated from the room, leaving the pair in privacy.

     “Are you okay?” Kageyama asked quietly.

     “Yeah… I am now.” Hinata sounded relaxed and groggy, though his voice still broke and rattled with strain.

     “Good, you’re doing great.” The complement caught Hinata off guard, causing his eyes to slowly open. As he did so, Kageyama lifted the Hinata’s hand from his chest, bringing his knuckles to his mouth. Lips grazed over the bruised fingers, feather light. Pink dusted Kageyama’s cheeks as he did this, while Hinata’s face attempted to match the colour of his hair. He felt like his brain short circuited, seeing Kageyama act so… cutely. The taller man opened his eyes, meeting his gaze with the wide brown eyes that sat frozen with shock. He appeared to realize what he’d done, quickly releasing the man’s hand in embarrassment as he looked away, the pink flush turning darker across his cheeks.

     “T-thanks…” Was all Hinata could say, his hand floating in mid air. Curious, he lowered it back to Kageyama’s chest, feeling the rapid thumping of Kageyama’s racing heart. He opened his mouth again to ask what that was all about, but the door opened, once more interrupting them. Takeda returned, this time with a young woman in tow. She was beautiful, all dark hair and soft angles. A small mole sat below her mouth, glasses resting on her elegant nose, framing her sharp eyes. The woman bowed politely, and excused her intrusion. “I am Kiyoko Shimizu, pleased to meet you.” Hinata and Kageyama tore themselves away from their own embarrassing situation to offer small nods to her, eyes wide at the sight of such a beauty.

     The two professionals approached them, wasting no time. The bandages on Hinata’s wrists were the first to get changed, revealing a horrid display of brutality. The skin had been rubbed raw, down several layers, and was coated in some sort of ointment that stung upon application. There was no way that these wounds wouldn’t scar. The other wounds were as expected, the large cuts down his chest and side had been stitched and cleaned while he slept. The bruising around the wounds looked far worse than the wounds themselves, but the doctor did mention that he may have scarring after those healed as well. It took some manoeuvring to change the small bandages on his legs, and the few on his back, but after just over an hour, he was redressed, and relaxing back against the pillows. The two excused themselves to check in on other patients, allowing the young men more privacy.

     “The man who found me… what happened to him… and Yaku-san! Are they-” his voice rasped before breaking into coughs.

     Kageyama watched him struggle to regain his breath, holding onto his shoulder with worry written all over his face, “You need to just focus on your own well being right now…” Hinata shook his head, stubbornly, wiping his mouth on his sleeve. With a sigh, Kageyama reported, “Ukai-sama is fine. He’s pretty banged up and on bed rest for a couple of weeks. That bastard Igarashi shot him in the side, but thankfully he didn’t hit anything vital.”

     Hinata muttered quietly, “That’s good at least.”

     “Yaku-san will be hospitalised for quite some time, and will have a lot of rehab to look forward to. There was a lot of damage to his bones, and muscles but the doc says a full recovery is within the realm of possibilities.” He chuckled, “Here I thought the Dahlia was rowdy… you should see the ruckus Yaku-san’s visitors are causing.”

     Hinata could only imagine, though he wanted to ask about Yaku and this Nekoma group he belonged to, it could wait for another time. “Ukai-sama mentioned that everyone from the Dahlia was involved? At least I think he did… I was kind of out of it…”

     “Yeah, everyone pitched in to come get you,” The soft smile on Kageyama’s lips was still quite foreign to Hinata, and caused him to stare, which of course caused Kageyama to scowl in turn. “Anyway, there were some injuries, but nothing serious. Tanaka-san and I got grazed-” He pointed to his bicep which was covered by his sweater.

     “You got shot?!” Hinata attempted to shout, more coughs resulting.

     “Easy! Take it easy! It’s nothing, hardly even made a mark. Tanaka-san’s was worse but not by much.”

     “Tanaka-san is…”

     “Oh, he’s a bouncer, I believe you crossed paths. Shaved head?”

     “Oh!” Hinata managed to place his face to the name now, “I hope he recovers quickly.” Hinata quietly prayed.

     “Tsukishima’s hospitalised though, but he’ll be out in a few days. I don’t think you two met when you stopped by at the Dahlia. He’s a super tall bartender-”

     “Goatee?”

     Kageyama shook his head, “Nah, that’s Asahi-san, Tsukishima-san is blonde with glasses, and a perpetual scowl.”

     “Sounds familiar…” Hinata teased, the first hint of his old smile returning. Kageyama of course scowled.

     “Anyway, he got caught in some crossfire, leg injury.” Hinata winced. Why did so many people have to get injured because of him? “Oi, don’t you go blaming yourself dumbass.”

     Hinata nodded, his face formed into a pout. Kageyama sighed, and placed one elbow on the edge of the bed, his chin resting in the palm of his hand. Dark eyes looked up at Hinata, as if evaluating the state he was in. The gaze made Hinata want to squirm, it was so intense.

     “What am I going to do with you?”

     Hinata blinked,he could feel his heart skip a beat, which was betrayed by the monitor. What did he mean? “What do-”

     “There is clearly something going on between the families, and I doubt it’s just going to stop now that you’re safe.” Kageyama carried on as if he hadn’t heard Hinata speak, “what if they come after you again? I can’t keep an eye on you all the time, and you could be in danger, and then there’s your family…” He was right, Hinata and his family could be in danger now, not to mention his rent had been due in the time he was missing, and his place had been trashed… He couldn’t move back into a place he’d been assaulted in anyway, it just felt wrong. This time it was Hinata who was scowling. “Hey,” Kageyama said softly, still staring in that intense way, “don’t worry, we’ll figure something out okay?” Again, Hinata’s heart went for a backflip. Was he developing a murmur or something?

     His face slowly heated again the more he looked at Kageyama, so instead he tore his gaze away, looking at the door, “C-can I see Natsu-chan, and Yachi-san?”

     “They’ve been sleeping for the last few hours. We finally had to kick them out after the third day of nearly no rest. They were about to fall over. I can go wake them if you’d like?”

     Third day? How long had he been unconscious for? “It’s alright, let them sleep.”

     Kageyama nodded, “You should rest too.”

     “I’ve been asleep for long enough.”

     “You look horrible.” Kageyama stated flatly, poking Hinata in the cheek to force him to draw his attention back.

     Hinata reluctantly turned his flushing face back to Kageyama, who looked equally exhausted. “You’re one to talk.”

     “There’s a couch out there I intend to take advantage of.” The taller man stated simply, “Just try to get some actual sleep. You’re family will be here when you wake up.” Kageyama stood, and stretched. “Do you want me to stay here until you pass out?” Hinata chewed his lip for a moment, then slowly nodded. He remembered Kageyama’s first few nights after the attack, the nightmares that plagued his sleep. He was honestly scared to close his eyes right then. Kageyama twisted his back, resulting in a few quiet pops, before settling back onto the stool.

     They sat there in silence. Awkwardly. Hinata felt his stomach twist at the need to fill the near silence, the sounds of the machines grating on his nerves. The medication was doing it’s job making him sleepy, however the strange unexplainable nerves he was feeling having Kageyama there for him was stopping any kind of rest from claiming him.

     “Dumbass, get some sleep.” Hinata balked at the man, realizing that there was really nothing to be nervous about, this was the same, grump of a man he’d known before. That softness earlier was just a fluke. Kageyama reached out and took his hand again, slowly rubbing circles on his palm. It was like a tranquilizer. Hinata sagged into the pillows, watching through half lidded eyes as the man traced the intricate lines on his palm, his attention claimed entirely by the action, as if he was reading a map.

     Darkness ebbed into his vision, the beeping drifted away as he floated into the ocean of dreams.

Chapter Text

     Kageyama’s POV

      He never made it to the couch in the hallway. Sleep claimed him soon after Hinata’s breathing slowed, the beeping of the monitor and whirring of the machines offering a steady white noise that slowly lulled him into a state of unconsciousness.

      For the first time in a while Kageyama didn’t dream about the suffocating waters of the river. Rather, a single scenario replayed itself in his head.

     --- Kageyama’s dream/memory---

      The form in his arms was cold, Hinata’s shivering and panicking had stopped during the drive. The van screeched to a halt outside the the private hospital, and when the doors were pulled open, they were greeted by their friends and medical personnel. Ukai looked shocked at the number of nurses and doctors waiting to assist. “What is all of this?” He asked, sweat trickling down his forehead as he clutched his bloodied side.

      “Ukai-kun, if you expect my help for something this big, then you’re going to get all of the help you actually require.” A short man he recognized from the bar was at Ukai’s side with gauze, pressing it against the wound in the man’s side. Ukai groaned at the pain, and nodded, “Don’t worry about the police, those two junior officers you got involved felt bad that they couldn’t keep someone away or something… I didn’t get all the details, anyway, they’re concocting a story to keep this under wraps.”

      “T-thank you…. That’s a relief. Here, don’t worry about me, that kid there needs immediate attention, and there is two more in the van in worse shape.” Ukai pointed to Hinata who was limp in Kageyama’s arms as he stepped out of the van. Doctors immediately came to retrieve Hinata, but Kageyama held tightly onto him. “Kageyama-kun… you need to let go.” Ukai touched his shoulder. Reluctantly, he released the smaller man.

      He watched as doctors placed the pale form onto a stretcher and began feeling around for a pulse, already putting pressure on wounds. “Have a defibrillator on standby, his pulse is weak, let’s get some oxygen here!”

      “Doctor, we have an operating room prepped and ready.”

      Kageyama stood frozen as they started compressions on his friend, his body appearing unresponsive. Something warm was falling down his face, though it hardly registered. Beside him, doctors were getting Yaku onto a stretcher, his own consciousness waning. Next Tsukishima was helped onto a third stretcher, then Ukai on a forth. The four of them were wheeled into the emergency room, while nurses started to examine the rest.

      “Sir? Sir… you’re injured, if you could just come with me?” A gentle hand touched his shoulder, and only then did he realize that Hinata was gone and he’d been staring blankly at the doors. He could see his own reflection in the glass now, eyes red from tears, grime covering his clothing and skin, and blood soaking through the arm of his sweater. He nodded, and the woman placed a gentle hand on the small of his back, taking him by the elbow with her other hand and guiding him inside.

      The wound wasn’t terribly deep, just a graze, however he received a couple of stitches and some pain meds. By the time he was out of the ER, Hinata was well into his surgery. All he could do was wait. First he checked in on Tanaka and Tsukishima, who both were sleeping off the pain meds but were overall doing well. Saeko was standing guard over her brother with a stern expression, while next to Tsukishima’s bed was a weeping Yamaguchi. Kageyama approached and gently set a hand on the freckled boy’s shoulder. “He’s okay, don’t worry.” was all of the comfort he could give.

      Kageyama’s feet carried him down sterile halls to the operating theater waiting rooms. Chairs lined up along the walls, framing a large set of double doors. A red light was shining above them, alerting the staff that surgery was in progress. Sitting in the chairs closest to the door were two small forms bundled together as if it was the dead of winter. Natsu sat half on her own chair and half on Yachi’s lap, her face buried against the woman’s shoulder. Yachi turned her head to look at Kageyama, her expression severe, and her eyes stained red from tears. “You got him back…” Was all she managed to say. Kageyama couldn’t speak. He walked to the two young woman and knelt before them.

      In any other circumstance, Kageyama would never bow to anyone except Ukai-sama and his grandfather. However, in this situation, he broke his internal promise. Long, slender fingers were placed flat on the floor before him, middle fingers touching tips. He held back the tears that threatened his eyes and touched his forehead to his knuckles. “I humbly beg your forgiveness. Hinata-san is in this situation because of me.”

      The women were silent for a moment, save for some sniffling from Natsu. “But you brought him back.” Yachi stated sternly, “So long as he survives this, that’s all that matters.”

     Kageyama raised his head to look at her. A soft smile played upon her lips, contradicting the tears marking her cheeks. He quickly bowed once more, “Thank you.” Kageyama stood, and took the seat next to Natsu, who remained cowered against Yachi.

     Hours passed, and the man’s worry only festered. When he began to convince himself of the worst, the red light shut off, and moments later the doors opened. A number of doctors and nurses left through the doors, looking exhausted. “Kageyama-kun,” A familiar voice said. The man from the lounge approached, shrugging on his lab coat over his dress clothes. Kageyama stood, swaying a bit from his own exhaustion. “You two must be Hinata-kun’s family, you’ll all be happy to hear that Hinata-kun’s surgery went well.” A sigh filled the air from all three parties.

     “Can we see him?” Was the first thing out of Natsu’s mouth, her voice thick with emotion.

     “Not just yet. They’re getting him situated in a private room on the third floor, once everything is setup, family will be given access.”

     “What about Kageyama?” Yachi asked, looking between the two men, “He’s family.”

     Kageyama blinked at the woman, shocked by her words. He was sure that despite her forgiveness, she’d want him far away from her friend.

     “If you fill out the appropriate visitor paperwork, then yes.” The doctor smiled softly at the trio, and bowed. “If you could migrate into the main waiting rooms, a nurse will bring you to Hinata’s side once it is time.” The three offered small bows, after standing, and followed the small man outside of the operation wing. As they walked they passed by two more theater waiting rooms with groups huddled in chairs. Kageyama recognized some individuals who had grouped together as members of Nekoma, clearly there waiting to hear about Yaku’s condition.

     “Yaku-san is badly injured, however most of his wounds are non-life threatening. Due to the nature of his injuries his operation will take considerably more time.” Takeda explained, before they passed the other set of chairs. Takinoue, Shimada, Daichi, and Sugawara sat waiting for news, appearing as tired, and worried as everyone else. “Ukai-sama should be out of surgery soon provided there aren’t any complications. They started working on him about an hour ago.”

     Finally they exited the wing, approaching the few members not next to people’s beds, or theaters. Asahi, Nishinoya, Ennoshita, and his two roommates, Kinoshita and Narita stood at their approach. “How is he?”

     “Out of surgery, they’re moving him to a private room now.” Everyone visibly relaxed some, before sitting.

     The doctor disappeared for a moment before returning with a clipboard, handing it to Natsu. “Yachi-san is already on the list as Hinata-kun’s emergency contact, however as his only present family, you must be the one to sign over Kageyama’s right to enter the room as a visitor.” The doctor explained. “Once Hinata-kun wakes up, he will be able to give permission to others.”

     Natsu nodded, and took the form and pen. With that, Takeda ruffled her hair, and then retreated into the depths of the hospital. Within two hours they were given access to Hinata’s room, however they weren’t prepared for what they saw. Wires extended from the collar of his shirt, a tube taped in place over his open mouth, traveling down his throat. He was covered in bandages, his skin white as a ghost. Natsu had broken down into noisy sobs, turning to cling onto the person closest to her- which happened to be Kageyama. He held back his own turbulent emotions, focusing instead on comforting the highschooler.

     “Natsu-chan, do you want to leave the room for a moment?” He heard himself ask, his arms protectively wrapped around her as she buried her face against his chest. She nodded.

     “I’ll stay here with Hinata-san,” Yachi stated, her voice thready, “Could you keep her company?” Kageyama nodded, and led the young girl into the hallway. They occupied the couch, Natsu curling herself into a ball like a child on the tall man’s lap as he rubbed her back. Her tears churned his own emotions, and soon they were both crying.

     Hours past, the pair of them having cried themselves to sleep. Eventually Natsu shifted in his arms, waking him. “I want to see Oniisan…” She mumbled. He nodded, and straightened himself on the couch. She clung to his shirt, completely regressing into the attitude of a child. He lifted her off his lap and set her feet on the ground, before leading her to the hospital room again. Yachi was sitting on a stool, her head on the side of the bed as she slept.

     Kageyama touched Natsu’s shoulder and separated from her grasp before walking over to the young nursing student. Gently he shook her, resulting in a string of mumbles from the sleeping girl. “Yachi-san, there is a couch that will be much more comfortable out there…” He stated. Her eyes slowly inched open, and she offered a weak smile. The man helped her stand, leading her out into the hallway. As they approached the sofa, they saw Takeda approaching with a blanket and pillow.

     “Ah! Kageyama-kun! I was just coming back to get you and Natsu-chan a blanket… but it seems you’ve woken up.” The doctor looked absolutely exhausted.

     “Takeda-sensei, perhaps you should worry a bit about yourself?” Kageyama stated, smiling weakly.

     “Ah, do I look that rough?” The doctor’s eyes were dark circled, and the beginnings of stubble had appeared, his hair looking even more disheveled than usual. Kageyama offered a small shrug and a smile, before releasing his hand from Yachi’s shoulder so she could get comfortable on the sofa. The doctor handed him the blanket and pillow and smiled, “Perhaps I should get some shut eye now that the craziness of last night is over.” With that, he waved and walked down the hallway, his steps slow and unsteady.

     Kageyama handed the pillow to Yachi, before draping the blanket over her. “Get some rest. I’ll wake you if anything happens.” She nodded, and immediately closed her eyes.

     Kageyama returned to the room to find Natsu next to the bed on the stool, holding onto her brother’s limp hand. He approached silently, but he didn’t touch the man. Deep down, he felt he didn’t have the right to do so. Suddenly he felt awkward being there, intruding on Natsu as she watched over her only family. “Uh… Natsu-chan, are you hungry?” She shook her head, however her stomach betrayed her with a growl. “You need to eat, I’ll go get us something. Keep watch, okay?” Her eyes peeled away from the prone form of her brother to meet with Kageyama’s oceanic gaze. Slowly she nodded.

     He left the room and walked down the halls to find the elevator. As he travelled, he checked the panels beside the rooms for any names he recognized. Yaku had a room close to the elevator, however he didn’t see the names of the Dahlia staff. The hospital was quiet as he arrived on the main floor, the windows showing the first rays of sunlight. He’d been to clinics before, however being in a hospital was a new experience for him. The place was fairly vast- even though it was privately owned. He could only imagine what the large hospital in central Tokyo was like.

     “Kageyama-kun?” A tired sounding voice made him jump. Behind him Asahi was exiting the washroom, his face damp from splashing water.

     “Ah, Asahi-san, how is everyone? Sorry I didn’t stick around to find out how the surgeries went…” He felt terrible about that, however his mind had been so completely consumed by Hinata, it hadn’t even crossed his mind.

     “Resting. Yaku-san is still in bad shape, they’ve got him heavily sedated. Ukai-sama was awake shortly after his surgery, almost everyone else is asleep.”

     “That’s… that’s a relief.” Asahi nodded at that, rubbing the back of his neck.

     “How’s…” The bartender began to ask.

     “Stable. Unconscious. It’s-” He sighed heavily and rubbed his chin, feeling stubble. “It’s hard to be in there right now.” Asahi nodded slowly, understanding.

     The large man took a step towards Kageyama, and pulled him by the back of the head into a hug. Kageyama blinked, the fresh smell of clean clothes flooding over his senses. Asahi was warm, offering support and shelter. Before Kageyama could return the hug however, Asahi pulled away, his face red with embarrassment. “Ah, sorry- you looked like you needed-”

     “No- uh, thanks… I did.” the younger man assured. Asahi looked relieved at that. “Is everyone still here?”

     Asahi shook his head, “We sent some people home to rest. We’re going to take shifts watching over everyone.” Kageyama nodded. “The next group should be arriving in an hour or so. They’ll be bringing clothing and such with them for you and the girls.”

     “Oh, that’s good.” Kageyama sighed, he felt disgusting in his grimy clothing, and he was desperate for a shower. “Do you know if there is a cafe in here or anything?”

     “Yeah, but I’m not sure if it’s open. It’s only six in the morning, worth a check though.”

     The pair made their way to the main waiting rooms and found a Cafe. The old woman behind the counter was just setting up the displays as they approached. “Give me twenty minutes boys and you’ll be my first customers of the day.” They both offered her small bows as thanks and took a seat to wait.

     “You know… Things aren’t just going to calm down now that Hinata-kun is safe,” Asahi spoke quietly, looking sideways at his friend. “Even after all of this, he could still be targeted in the future. Same goes for his sister and Yachi-chan.”

     Kageyama chewed his bottom lip and nodded, “I don’t know what to do…” He replied honestly. Asahi lifted a large hand and ruffled the younger man’s hair.

     “Don’t try taking on all the problems we’ve gotten ourselves into on your own. You’ve got a family at your side, and we’ll all work together to figure this out. Nobody’s going to get left out in the cold- not you, not Hinata-kun, and not his family.” Asahi’s words brought moisture to the younger man’s eyes as he blinked them back, his hands twisted together tightly as he tried to reign in his emotions. He’d been alone on the streets, watching his own back for so many years… now he had others to watch it for him and he hadn’t gotten used to that security yet.

     “Alright loves, what can I get for you?” The woman asked, standing at the ready behind the counter.

     The two men rose and approached, ordering coffee’s for themselves, and a few others, along with muffins, porridge, and a few other breakfast pastries. Kageyama accompanied Asahi to the others rooms to check up on them. Seeing Tsukishima awake and trying to calm Yamaguchi was enough to calm some of the raven haired man’s nerves. They passed off coffee to Nishinoya, and Saeko, and tea to Yamaguchi before Kageyama offered to take the other beverages to Daichi and Shimada who were watching over Ukai. He offered a nod To Saeko who sat next to a sleeping Ryuu, before travelling down the hall back to the elevator.

     Ukai’s room was on the same floor as Hinata’s, however it was closer to the fire exit. Kageyama wondered absently if Takeda had planned for that, knowing that Ukai wasn’t exactly a low profile patient. With a small cardboard tray of drinks in one hand, and a bag of snacks in the other, Kageyama entered the private room. Daichi was immediately facing the door with his hand at his hip; if Kageyama hadn’t known Daichi was probably packing a weapon, it wouldn’t have caused him any alarm. The younger man raised his encumbered hands and quickly blurted out, “It’s just me!”

     Ukai was awake in his bed, but tired looking. He waved Kageyama in lazily. “I’m surprised you got past the nurses. Takeda-sensei has had them patrolling diligently.”

     “They must be doing a shift change, I only saw one on my way up here.” Kageyama stated, lowering his arms carefully. He began to hand out the drinks and some snacks. “Don’t give me that look, I don’t think the doctor would think kindly of me giving you coffee.” He scolded the bedridden blonde. Ukai huffed, his expression sour.

     “Thank you Kageyama-kun,” Daichi offered, taking a muffin before handing the bag to Shimada to choose something to eat.

     “Anything new happen? We haven’t been able to talk to the others yet.” The older man asked, taking a porridge.

     “Not really, Tsukishima-san is awake now, but Tanaka-san is out like a light. Asahi-san mentioned that the others should be arriving soon with clothing and such to relieve you guys.” Kageyama reported.

     “You should go home and sleep at some point too Kageyama-kun... “ Shimada warned softly, “The last thing Hinata-kun needs is for you to get sick while watching over him.”

     Kageyama scowled in his usual tell-tale way, “I slept on the couch, and the others are bringing me clothing and toiletries. I’ll be fine.” Shimada sighed, knowing full well that nothing would get through the younger man’s stubbornness

     “Anyway. It’s good to see you up- I’ve gotta get some food to Natsu-chan… I’ll stop by later if you’re feeling up to a talk.” Kageyama directed towards Ukai. The man simply nodded, rubbing his chin. Kageyama offered a small bow at the door, before retreating to Hinata’s room. Yachi was sleeping soundly on the sofa, looking like nothing could possibly wake her.

     He let his feet carry him to the door, sliding it open as best he could without spilling the remainder of the drinks. Upon seeing him struggling with the now unbalanced drink tray, Natsu rose and walked to meet him. He handed her the drinks and joined her next to the bed. “The one on the left is tea. I didn’t know what you preferred so I also picked up some milk and sugar.”

     “I’m happy with tea, thank you,” She offered him a weak smile, mixing in a single packet of sugar and a splash of milk before taking porridge from the bag. Kageyama added some milk to his coffee and sat back with a muffin.

     They ate in silence, sitting for what felt like years just watching Hinata’s chest rise and fall slowly as the machines regulated his breathing.

     As they sat, Kageyama watched the screens, not sure what the numbers meant, he didn’t react as they began to change. A nurse came into the room with a serious expression, hardly even speaking to the two sitting with their drinks. Kageyama watched her curiously as she began checking the machines, taking hurried notes on her clipboard. He began to worry however when she hit the nurse call button on the side of the bed. In no time, another nurse, and a doctor were in the room. “I’m sorry to ask this, however could the two of you wait either outside or on the far side of the room? We’re going to need to get in beside Hinata-kun’s bed.” One nurse asked. Natsu made a small sobbing sound as worry overcame her at the sudden presence of medical personnel.

     “Is something wrong?” Kageyama asked, hearing his own voice crack with strain. His heart was pounding in his ears, the muffin he’d just finished sitting uncomfortably in his stomach.

     “We just need to run some tests, please-” She indicated to a spot away from the bed and the machines. Kageyama stood and held out his hand for Natsu. She took it, her grip crushing as he led her away from the bed. Once they were out of the way, the nurses set to unbuttoning Hinata’s shirt. Under the fabric was a mess of bandages and bruising. Kageyama looked down at Natsu, who was now wrapped around him with her face buried against his chest.

     “I noticed on the monitors that his blood pressure was fluctuating over the past few minutes…” The first nurse explained to the doctor. The group around the bed began discussing Hinata’s condition in intricate medical terms that were completely lost on Kageyama, while checking the machines, and Hinata.

     “Blood pressure’s crashing!” One nurse called. The beeping of the heart monitor grew unsteady. The second nurse quickly turned and grabbed the phone on the wall, calling for a cart- whatever that meant. The first nurse folded down the railings of the bed, and took the pillow out from under Hinata’s head. Next she unscrewed the tube from the device coming from Hinata’s mouth, replacing it with a clear bubble that she began to squeeze to push air into his lungs. The nurse that had used the phone turned to Natsu and Kageyama and began hurrying them out of the door just as a doctor and another nurse arrived this time with some sort of machine on a cart. They let the professionals by before hurrying back to the door to look inside. During the ruckus, Yachi had woken, and joined the pair in the doorway.

     “Oh no…” She whispered, her eyes wide as she watched them start compression's on her childhood friend.

     The cart was moved beside the bed, and two paddles were prepared, and then placed against the small man’s bare chest. Kageyama flinched as electricity was pushed through the redhead’s body, his back arching off the bed before crumpling back down. They continued to work on him, hitting him again with the charge.

     He felt his chest compressing as panic set in. He was watching Hinata’s body fail, the doctors trying their damndest to save it.

     They were losing him. His back arched off of the table again, and the flat tone of the heart monitors rang through his ears.

     “Time of death- 8:24am”

     

     ----

     Kageyama woke with a start, sweat covering his brow as he breathed heavily through his clenched teeth.

     “Kageyama-san?” A voice like sandpaper greeted him. Blue eyes flicked up to meet a warm earthy gaze. Hinata was alive. That was right- it was just a dream. In reality, his heart had only stopped for a short time. They’d been able to revive him almost immediately. He was here. He was alive. Kageyama’s body moved on it’s own. His long fingers greeting the soft skin of Hinata’s cheeks. The redhead stared at his friend with wide, curious eyes as Kageyama continued to move. The taller man rested his forehead against Hinata’s trying to calm his breathing. He was shaking, his heart pounding in his ears. “K-kageyama-san? Are you okay?”

     He didn’t move, he just continued to stand there, his forehead pressed to Hinata’s, the man’s small head held between his hands. Cold fingers wrapped around one of Kageyama’s wrists, while Hinata’s other hand rose to cup Kageyama’s cheek.

     “It’s okay- we’re safe…” Hinata’s voice shook. He was trying to be supportive, but his own insecurity was betrayed in his voice.

     “I’m the one that should be telling you that,” Kageyama’s voice came out as a hushed whisper, only for their ears. “I keep feeling like every time I take my eyes off of you, I’m going to lose you forever.” His eyes were closed as he spoke, focusing entirely on calming down. When he opened his eyes and pulled back from Hinata’s face, he was surprised to see a vibrant flush covering the man’s face.

     “Kageyama…” Hinata said softly, one of his hands still grasping the taller man’s wrist. Kageyama felt heat over his ears at the usage of his name without honorifics. It made his heart skip a beat, which he thought was strange. His friends sometimes called him Kageyama, and his stomach never backflipped when they said it. “I’m n-”

     “Oniisan!” A shrill cry rang out. Whatever Hinata was about to say was lost, as the body of a high schooler all but flew across the room. “Thank goodness, I thought you’d never wake!” Tears streamed down her cheeks as she hiccuped, her arms flung around her brother, causing Kageyama to jump back or risk getting smacked.

     “Natsu-chan!” A stern voice barked, “Your brother is injured! Don’t be so rough!” Yachi walked calmly into the room, though she had a smile on her face that screamed relief.

     “I can’t believe you didn’t wake us, how could you- keeping oniisan all to yourself…” Natsu turned her head to glare at Kageyama. He gulped, rubbing the back of his neck. Hinata hugged his sister as best he could before working to pry her off. She released her crushing hold, but kept herself snuggled against him on the bed. Yachi arrived at their side, and placed a gentle kiss on Hinata’s forehead.

     “It’s good to see you awake, how do you feel?”

     “About as good as I look,” The man joked, offering a strained chuckle, “Pain meds are doing their job, but I’ve still got some aches.”

     She nodded in understanding, “Any nausea?”

     He sighed, “Yeah, I haven’t had anything but water though so it’s not like anything’s come up.” She turned her head to the small table and found the sippy cup. Carefully she brought it to him, and held it in place for him to drink.

     “You should have more water. Try to fight through the discomfort.”

     “Yes ma’am.” He took the straw in his mouth and drank.

     Yachi blushed and sighed, “Sorry, I don’t mean to nag-”

     Hinata finished drinking and shook his head, “Don’t be ridiculous. You’ve been like this since we were little, only now you actually know what to do. Thank you, all of you.”

     Kageyama felt awkward being there, a flush covering his cheeks. This felt like a family moment, which was his hint to leave. He stood, and head for the door, “Uh… Sorry- I’ll let you guys have some time. I’ve gotta talk to Ukai-sama anyway.”

     “Kageyama?” Hinata asked at his back, sounding confused for his sudden departure.

     Kageyama felt his stomach backflip again, hearing his name being spoken in such a familiar way. Absently, he wondered what the name Tobio would sound from those very same lips. His feet carried him down the hallway as he mentally scolded his mind for imagining something so ridiculous. Why would Hinata ever call him Tobio?

     Damn, he needed some fresh air. The whole hospital felt claustrophobic. He could feet the coolness that had accompanied Hinata’s touch. It clung to his wrist, to his cheek. A shiver ran down his spine as he heard Hinata’s voice, or his imagination of it- “Tobio…” Heat splashed over his face as he groaned. What the fuck was his brain trying to do to him?

     He was just tired… yeah, that’s it.