The final point in their last match of high school is, obviously, scored by Hinata. It might be Tobio that gave him the toss, but their partnership stopped being quite as one sided ages ago. No one doubted it would end like that, and no one is surprised it’s Hinata who’s feet touch the ground last, a fraction of a moment after the ball lands squarely in the center of the opposite court. It’s the last point of a long, long game, and everyone is soaked with sweat and heaving from desperate breaths. It’s barely a win.
But it’s still a win. Nobody moves, for what feels like forever. Tobio stares at Kindaichi on the other side, watches as he straightens and gives Tobio a short nod, watches him turn on his heel towards the rest of his own team. Tobio isn’t sure if he’s gone temporarily deaf, or if the stadium really is dead silent. He’s not sure why everything feels so frozen, and Hinata is still hunkered down from landing, and somewhere behind him Tobio can feel the eyes of their team, and why isn’t anyone cheering?
Of course it’s his fiery little captain that manages to break the spell. Ever the ball of energy, even after a game lasting twice as long as expected, Hinata raises his head and lets out his exuberant shout of triumph. And, of course, the entire stadium follows. Dead quiet turns into tumultuous chaos, and Tobio’s breath is knocked out of his chest when he feels Yamaguchi slam him on the back, when he feels Kohaku leap at the both of them, when suddenly Tsukishima is being dragged into the mess, and then everyone else is piling on top of them, but somehow Hinata isn’t in the heap? But Tobio is laughing, or something, and just lets everyone pile on.
Of course Hinata only joins in then, with a flying leap that sends everyone into a scramble to escape before he lands, and of course he lands on Tobio, because where else would he land?
But they have to get up, they have to shake hands with Aoba Johsai, and Tobio is smiling, even at Kindaichi, and then they’re both groaning because Hinata has ducked under the net and has jumped up to attach to Kindaichi in a weird hug, because somewhere along the line, after Tobio learned how to do the whole friendship thing, and Kindaichi finally stopped being an annoying asshole, Hinata managed to befriend him, and of course opposing captains had to have either friendship or rivalry, and Hinata chose friendship. Luckily, Yachi and Yamaguchi are there to drag Hinata off and pull him back to Karasuno’s side of the net.
Tobio just watches, still smiling.
The camera flashes catch his eye, and suddenly the team is being lined up for the cameras to eat up, flashes leaving colorful spots in Tobio’s vision. Sadly, they’re only able to stand still for so long before Hinata is, once again, shouting out his joy to the whole world and leaping up to get his arms around Tobio’s neck. Instinct or something kicks in, and Tobio turns so he can wrap his arms around the idiot’s waist and full on lift him, and Yamaguchi comes to his aid and they lift Hinata high up so he’s perched on their shoulders. Tsukishima is there too, hovering with one hand on Yamaguchi’s shoulder and another on Hinata’s back so he doesn’t fall.
Tobio is too busy looking up at Hinata to see the cameras flashing around them. He’s too busy caught up in the massive grin Hinata is wearing, and he’s mouthing something, something that looks like we did it but Tobio can’t really be sure. All he sees is flushed cheeks and determination and pure joy in Hinata’s big eyes, his hair an even worse mess than usual, sticking to his temples and forehead from sweat. Tobio is too lost in the single second their eyes lock. It’s similar to when they pull off their insane quick, except this is intentional, direct eye contact. This is what they’ve been fighting for, training for. This moment of victory.
Kohaku and Makoto and the rest of the second years interrupt their moment by yanking Hinata down and jumping around him, rubbing his head and screeching in excitement. The first years join in, and once again it’s a mess of sweaty, loud, celebratory boys all dancing around in excitement.
After a lot of celebrating, a few more pictures, and a garbled speech from Takeda-sensei, who’s still crying on Coach Ukai when they leave the gym, the team makes their way to the changing rooms. It’s getting late after all, and they have a long drive home from Tokyo.
Changing is fast, loud, and includes a few hurled shoes and shirts. Tobio catches Hinata pulling his sweatshirt on over his jersey shirt, which is gross, so Tobio thoroughly scolds him. Everyone is still full of adrenaline induced energy as they cram onto the small bus, barely big enough for the whole team.
Five minutes into the ride, and half the team is already asleep. Yachi and Suzu are talking quietly in the front of the bus, both girls holding notebooks and obviously planning something. The first and second years are all dead to the world, the Okamura twins are each taking up an entire seat to themselves, the stuck up idiots. Even Tsukishima appears to be asleep, head tilted up at an awkward angle to lean against the back of the seat. A bit of Yamaguchi’s hair is visible where he’s fallen against Tsukishima’s chest. Even Hinata has fallen asleep, head tilted to lean against Tobio’s shoulder. Tobio is exhausted like the rest of them, but he doesn’t want to sleep. Instead, he turns his gaze to the countryside scenery.
The sky is dark and filling with stars and they must be nearly back at Karasuno when Tobio feels movement at his shoulder, he looks over to see Hinata rubbing the drool off his mouth and sitting up.
“We’re not there yet. Go back to sleep,” Tobio mumbles.
Hinata instead stretches and makes a weird squeaking noise, and Tobio is squished to the window when Hinata’s stretching gets in his space. He watches in amusement as Hinata blinks slowly and then settles back against Tobio’s shoulder, wrapping around his arm and cuddling against Tobio’s side.
“Idiot,” says Tobio, voice barely more than a whisper.
“‘M not,” comes the sleepy reply. So Hinata is awake enough to be responding to Tobio’s insults.
“Sure you are,” Tobio says. Despite his words, he lets Hinata wiggle around until he’s comfortable, with Tobio’s arm pulled over and held close to his chest.
“‘M not an idiot. Scored the, ah–” Hinata’s words are broken by a yawn. “The winning point. And we won. With my point. Meee… Won.”
Tobio has to use all his self-control not to laugh at Hinata’s sleepy mumblings. The bus is asleep, and he would like to keep it that way. “That’s right. Next time we play in an official match will be for university.”
Hinata just nods slowly, and then drifts off back to sleep.
The rest of the ride is uneventful, other than a brief moment where one of the second years falls off his seat while sleeping, and takes three bags and a water bottle with him. But other than that, the ride is dull, and Tobio is nearly asleep by the time they reach Karasuno.
Everyone is slow to get off the bus, and there are many yawns and quite a bit of shuffling as everyone locates their stuff and gives tired waves. Nobody has the energy for their usual after-match meetings. Besides, they scheduled one for first thing tomorrow. Plus, their captain doesn’t even have his eyes open. Hinata is just holding onto Tobio’s sleeve, while Tobio has both of their bags slung over his shoulders. He’s the one to say goodbye to Coach Ukai and Takeda-sensei and make sure everyone is on their way before he finally leads Hinata home. Well, since Hinata’s house is so far away, they head to Tobio’s. This has become a tradition between them, even when games don’t run late.
After a long walk that includes actually grabbing Hinata’s shirt and bodily dragging him up the steps of his house, Tobio is finally home. He knows his parents are asleep, so the house is dark, so he has some difficulties getting his and Hinata’s shoes off. He abandons their bags at the door of his room.
There’s a futon set up next to his bed. Tobio’s mom must’ve done that, knowing Hinata would be with him. So Tobio strips down to just his boxers and t-shirt, and tries to get Hinata to do the same, but he feels sort of weird, so he leaves Hinata to his own devices and instead crawls into his own bed. The light is off, so all he has to do is curl onto his side and finally let himself start to fall asleep.
A pair of small hands poking at him make Tobio flip over, only to be greeted with the sight of a near naked Hinata, wearing only bright green briefs and a sleepy expression.
“What the he–“ Tobio doesn’t get to finish his sentence, because Hinata is pushing him against the wall and climbing into bed with him. And yeah, they’re close, the physical gap between them melted away during the summer between second and third year without either of them acknowledging it, and they lean against each other on the bus, but they’ve never shared a bed. Tobio can do nothing but let Hinata wriggle up close to him, hair tickling Tobio’s chin, and one small hand grabbing at the front of his shirt.
“Jus’ let me, ’n don’t think too hard, kay?” Hinata’s voice is small and soft, and it makes something in Tobio’s chest just melt. The feeling is familiar, Tobio knows what it is, and he knows they’ve never addressed it. He’s pretty sure Hinata gets the feeling too, sometimes, if the way his usually hard gaze softens sometimes when Tobio does something nice, or it’s just the two of them and the walk home is bathed in the sunset and they’re walking close enough to brush knuckles.
“Just go to sleep, dumbass,” Tobio mumbles. He has to adjust a bit to be comfortable, and they end up with one arm each around the other, Hinata’s head pillowed somewhere between his chest and shoulder, and Hinata’s leg stuck between his. This is a lot of contact, even for them.
Hinata shifts, and it sort of feels like he looks up, but Tobio can’t tell. He’s resolutely keeping his eyes shut. Even in the dark, he doesn’t know if he can look at Hinata right now.
“We actually won,” Hinata whispers. He sounds more awake now. “We won, Tobio.”
Now that gets Tobio’s attention. They’ve only used each other’s given names once or twice. Once last year, when Hinata got ahold of some cheap beer from his parent’s fridge, just enough to make them flushed and clumsy, and maybe after last year’s particularly sharp loss, when they didn’t sleep the entire night. But never like this.
“I know we did,” is all he can say.
“And we’re going to university together. We have more years on the court. Together.”
Tobio nods, hoping Hinata can feel it.
“We’re amazing together.” Hinata is definitely more awake now, and he’s lightly clenching and unclenching his hand on Tobio’s chest, somewhere a little to the right of his heart. “Aren’t we?”
Of course Tobio agrees. “Yeah, we are. We’re damn good.”
Hinata’s fingers tighten in his shirt, and there’s pressure where Hinata uses his hand to push himself up, so he’s almost above Tobio, who’s eyes are now open and looking at Hinata in the dark. Even in the dark, Hinata’s hair is bright. Even his eyes are glimmering with the fire Tobio cannot draw away from.
Hinata is just staring at him, the same way he stares at a new court right before a match. He’s calculating something; a decision, maybe. Tobio can’t say exactly what he’s calculating, but he can feel Hinata’s intense focus like a pinpoint of sun through a magnifying glass, and it’s directed straight at him.
“To the top of the world, together. Got it?”
Again, Tobio nods.
“And then higher. And further. As far as we can go, we’ll go together. The rest of forever.”
They’ve always just talked about getting to the top together, so this is also new. But Tobio agrees, because Hinata is what he sees in his future.
Tobio’s words seem to spark something in Hinata, because he suddenly leans to press his forehead to Tobio’s. Hard. It almost hurts, but Tobio presses back, and the hand previously wresting on Hinata’s side is firmly gripping his bare hip. There’s an exchange of something, Tobio can’t say what, exactly, but he feels it.
Something tangible has changed between them when Hinata lies back down, head on Tobio’s shoulder, his sharp little nose pressing into Tobio’s neck and his fingers spread over his heart, almost as if the pulsing organ is his, and not Tobio’s. (Which, when Tobio thinks about it, is sort of accurate.)
Wrapped around each other, the high of a win still thrumming through their veins, the comfort of one another held close, and a promise for the future hanging between them, Tobio falls asleep with Hinata in his arms.
In the morning, they’ll see an email link from their friends, linking to an article about Karasuno’s win. It’ll be full of details they’ll replay with their teammates. Tobio will save it to his phone so he can print it at home, every page to tape to his wall, and he knows Hinata will do the same.
There will be footage to go over, techniques to discuss. There will be awkward moments that include initiating holding hands and more sleeping together, in more ways than the literal sense.
A week later, a sports magazine will wind up in Tobio’s hands, and while the cover shows a picture of their final match, an angle that includes the back of Kindaichi’s head and a full view of their delayed attack, that’s not what will catch Tobio’s eye.
Page three, full color, filling the entire piece of shiny paper, will be a picture of a sweaty, flushed, overjoyed setter lifting his captain up into the air, and the picture will be cropped so it’s just the two of them, looking at each other with such intense fire it’s no wonder some photographer focused in on those two. Sure, the article beside the picture all about “The Freak Duo of Karasuno High” will be interesting, but not as captivating as the picture.
Their final high school match ended with a single point born from hours of struggle. Their high school volleyball career might have ended, but Tobio knows, he knows with every fiber of his being, that he and Hinata have more than three years together.
They’re the freak duo, after all. And like Hinata said, they’ll stay together for the rest of forever.