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Sunset Ghost

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"Great job, Kageyama, but you're still throwing them a little too high. Let's do a few more before the sun sets."

Kageyama nodded at his team captain, going to retrieve a volleyball from the pile they'd set up by a nearby oak tree. He picked one up and paused a moment to stare out at the horizon, where the sun was hanging low in the sky. It would probably set completely in about twenty minutes: there wasn't much time.

"Kageyama, come on. We're wasting daylight!"

"Sorry." Kageyama lowered into the proper stance, tracking the captain's form with his eyes. As soon as he reached the highest point of his jump, Kageyama took a deep breath and set the ball. It struck his hand at an awkward angle, ricocheting off a tree—narrowly avoiding Kageyama's head—and bounced down the hill.

"Sorry! That was my bad."

"I'll go get it," Kageyama said quickly, sprinting after the stray ball to save his senpai the trouble.

It was nearing April, and rain from the previous night still lingered on the ground, the grass shining with dew. Little streams ran in curved rivulets down the sides of the street, carrying faded cherry blossom petals. The slickness didn't help stop the ball's momentum at all: in fact, it began to pick up speed until Kageyama couldn't keep up with it anymore.

The sun was beginning to set already. Its bright golden rays were blinding, making it even harder to grab the spirited ball. Kageyama didn't think he would be able to catch it. Oh well: it didn't really matter. It was just one volleyball. It wasn't like it was irreplaceable. He wasn't even entirely sure why he was still chasing it.

Out of nowhere, the sound of running feet splashed down the sidewalk from behind. There came a flash of bright orange that left Kageyama wide-eyed. A blur shot past him, so quickly he could barely blink before it was ahead of him. Feet skidded through water and in a flash, Kageyama found himself staring at someone: a short red headed boy who came out of nowhere.

Grabbing the volleyball securely with both hands, the boy straightened up while Kageyama stared at him in incomprehension. Everything stilled to slow motion around him. The sun was setting, and from the distance came the faint sound of a bird's call. Cherry blossoms floated down from above, landing in the dirty puddles that littered the road. The short boy stood in front of him with orange hair, bright eyes, and a wide smile. Who was he?

"Is this yours?" The boy held out the ball, nearly knocking Kageyama in the chest with it.

He blinked slowly, feeling as if he had just woken up or had pulled his head out of cold water. "Oh, um... yeah." He took the ball and tucked it safely under his arm, studying the redheaded kid warily. "How exactly... did you do that?"

The mystery boy blinked at him with a naïve smile. "Do what?"

"Catch the ball like that," Kageyama scoffed. "Duh."

"Oh. I guess I just..." The boy made a slicing movement with his arm. "I just went like voom! and then jumped and fwahh! grabbed it before it could roll away. It was pretty fun!" Ignoring Kageyama's look of complete confusion, the boy frowned, placing his hands on his slender hips. "Hey, wait a second... how come you can see me?"

"What?" Kageyama crossed his arms, unintentionally mirroring the shorter boy. The kid utterly perplexed him. "Of course I can see you, dumbass. You're literally standing right in front of me." 

How confusing... A whirlwind of a boy just ran by, saved his volleyball, and started asking weird questions. What the hell was going on?

The redhead stuck his tongue out at Kageyama petulantly. "Don't call me a dumbass, jerk. Most people can't see me, so I was just wondering why you can," he huffed. "Geez, you didn't even thank me for saving your volleyball. It took a lot of effort to grab it, y'know.”

"Are you a dumbass and lazy?" Kageyama deadpanned.

The boy whirled on him with an angry, scrunched-up expression that Kageyama would've found hilarious if he wasn't so lost. "I'm not lazy! It just takes a lot of energy to manifest enough to catch a volleyball, okay?"

"Manifest?" Kageyama snickered. "What are you, some kind of occultist?"

"You are so... GAH!" The boy let out a frustrated breath and threw his arms down. He crossed them restlessly a second later, brown eyes narrowing in annoyance. "This is what I get for being nice! Why can such a stupid jerk like you see me? Why not Kenma or Natsu?" He let out a breath, deflating like an old party balloon. "How unfair."

Kageyama frowned, struggling to keep up with the strange conversation. "Wait... who are Natsu and Kenma?" His eyebrow twitched in annoyance. "And what's with this 'see me' crap, dumbass?"

"Stop calling me that." The boy stomped his foot, face reddening with his growing anger while Kageyama remained impassive—albeit incredibly puzzled. "Haven't you figured it out yet?" The redhead reared back a fist, aiming for his chest. Kageyama immediately held up a hand to block the blow, but none came. The hand went completely through his arm, leaving a cold sensation in its wake.

"What the hell..."

"I'm a ghost!" the boy exclaimed, pointing at the still-stunned Kageyama with a self-satisfied smile. "So ha, see: You're the dumbass, not me! So there!"

Kageyama didn't reply. He was still staring at his arm, which tingled with cold. His fist went right through me like I wasn't even there. What the hell is this?

"Hey, did you hear me?" The boy leaned closer to him with a scowl. "I said I'm a ghost, stupid. Don't look so shocked."

Kageyama snapped out of it to glare at him. He leaned down so they were eye-level with each other, squinting at the redhead dubiously. "Listen up, dumbass... If you're really a ghost, how can I see you?"

"THAT'S WHAT I WAS SAYING!" the boy howled in frustration, tearing his hands through his hair and messing up the spiked tangerine peaks even further. "There's only one person that's ever been able to see me before you.” He straightened suddenly, piercing Kageyama with a suspicious stare. "Hey... you're not a ghost, too, are you?"

Kageyama snorted. "Do I look like a ghost to you, dumbass?"

"Urgghhh." The redhead bared his teeth like a stray dog. He seemed to calm himself down after a while of heavy breathing and angry huffing noises and turned to Kageyama again, who had been watching him in amused silence. "So you're not a ghost: that must mean you're a psychic, like Yachi-san."

"No," Kageyama said immediately, "I'm not a psychic."

"You must be,” the boy protested. "That's the only explanation for—"

"Kageyama!" a voice shouted, cutting him off. The captain stood at the top of the hill, tapping his foot impatiently. "Kageyama, stop talking to yourself! If you have the ball, get back up here! It's getting dark!" He turned and disappeared from sight before Kageyama could answer: short-tempered, as usual.

Kageyama sighed. "I've got to go, but don't think that this conversation is over."

He turned and started back up the hill, but the mysterious redhead called out to him once more, "Hey, wait up a second!"

"What?" Kageyama turned around appeasingly. "Spit it out, dumbass."

The boy steamed at the insult but muttered, "What's your name?" anyway. The last remnants of the sun caught the edges of his figure. He almost looked like he was on fire. 

Kageyama gripped the volleyball tight enough to turn his knuckles white. He didn't have a reason to answer, but he somehow couldn't resist. "It's Kageyama. Kageyama Tobio."

"I'm Hinata Shōyō," the boy replied. His face broke into a wide, abrupt smile: the kind that spread throughout your whole face and caused your eyes to close from the cheerful force of it. Kageyama had only ever seen it in movies or in manga before. "I'll definitely see you around, Kageyama!"

Before he could say anything in response, the boy was gone, leaving only a faint wind and a stirring of leaves behind. After a long moment of wavering in the silence, Kageyama turned and started up the hill, glowering at the ground.

"Dumbass," he muttered, clutching the ball tighter. "I'm not a psychic, and I don't believe in ghosts."

*  *  *  *  *

The next morning, Kageyama rested his head on his desk while listening to the monotonous droning of his teacher, who was yammering on about some war that he could care less about. All that was on his mind was Hinata Shōyō. A cycle of words cycled through his mind, which he feebly tried to make sense of. Hinata; ghost; sunset; Hinata; ghost; volleyball; psychic; dumbass; Hinata; ghost?

He let out an annoyed breath and closed his eyes. As if he didn't already have enough to think about between studying and volleyball: now there was this crazy mess, too. A ghost? Really? Kageyama was certain he was the butt of a bad joke. But still... He remembered back to when Hinata's hand had gone right through his arm: the brush of ice cold against his skin, chilling to the core. That was real. And if that was real, then maybe...

"Kageyama. Psst, Kageyama. Ka-ge-ya-ma!"

Kageyama whipped his head up so fast he heard his neck crack. He jerked backward a second later, finding Hinata's nose inexplicably inches from his face, and nearly fell out of his chair. "What the hell?" he hissed, glancing around warily. If someone saw, they'd think he was nuts. "What are you doing here? How did you find me?!"

Hinata smiled and bounced up and down on the balls of his feet. "Well, I was talking to Yachi-san and she said she knew what class you were in! What a crazy coincidence that you guys are both psychics and go to the same school and everything. How cool!"

"I told you already, I'm not a psychic," Kageyama hissed. "Now go away, before someone notices!"

Hinata ignored him, flopping down on the ground with his legs spread out like a child, watching the teacher at the board intently. "Ooh, I haven't been to a classroom in so long. It's just like I remember."

"Hinata," Kageyama growled through gritted teeth, trying not to lose his temper, "you need to go. Now."

"Kageyamaaaa," he whined in protest, "I really want to stay! This is fun. I never get to go anywhere and nobody can see me, so they don't talk to me..." He trailed off and drew lazy circles on the ground with his pinkie. "It gets boring all by myself."

Kageyama sighed. He might've felt sorry for him, if he wasn't so annoying—and if he weren't acting like they were old friends when they'd known each other for barely a day. "Hinata, we just met yesterday. You can't show up and hang around my class all day. Why don't you go hang out with this... this Yachi-san, or whoever."

Hinata hugged his knees to his chest dejectedly. "Yachi-san said I can't talk to her during school because it makes her look weird."

"Well, imagine how I look," Kageyama muttered with an annoyed click of the tongue. He sighed despairingly when the ginger continued brooding, picking at minuscule molecules of dust on the floor. "Look, I'll tell you what: you can hang around until lunch time, but then you have to go, okay?"

Hinata brightened visibly and nodded several times, so enthusiastically that Kageyama was afraid his head would fly clean off his tiny shoulders. "Yes! Thank you, Kageyama! I'll be good: I swear." He straightened and crossed his legs, staring at the board with steadfast determination. "I'll just sit here and be quiet!"

Kageyama sighed and turned his attention back to the front. He could already tell that Hinata Shōyō was going to be a major handful.

* * * * *

"Yay, yay, yay, yay, yaaaay!" Hinata bounced around like an excited kangaroo, making Kageyama roll his eyes. He ran from place to place, arms rotating from being clenched at his sides, raised in the air, tangled in the front of his shirt, and pointing at random things. His eyes were wide and a happy smile brightened his pale face. "Uwah, this is so cool! School looks exactly like I remember!"

"Stop jumping around, dumbass," Kageyama ordered, stopping in front of a vending machine and frowning down at the drink selection. Hinata flopped to a rough stop beside him obediently and clasped his hands behind his back, leaning forward with a curious look, as if he'd never seen a drink machine before.

"What are you doing?"

"Buying milk," Kageyama responded shortly, pressing a button and swiping the box from the delivery slot. He popped the straw through the top and sipped it. He settled under the large tree in the center of the courtyard. Kageyama tried his best not to squeeze the box to the point of explosion when Hinata flopped down beside him, grinning like an idiot—and frankly starting to piss Kageyama off. "Oi, dumbass, quit smiling so much. You're ticking me off."

Hinata stuck his tongue out at him in juvenile response. "Shut up, Bakageyama! Smiling is good for you, y'know."

Kageyama nearly spit out his milk. "What did you just call me, you ghost bastard?"

Conveniently ignoring him, Hinata's eyes scanned the courtyard until they landed on someone across the lawn. His mouth formed a little 'o' before he jumped to his feet and waved his arms enthusiastically. "Yachi-san! Helloooo, Yachi-san!" Kageyama followed the excited boy's eyes and found a petite blonde girl waving back at Hinata with a small smile.

As he ran over to her, Kageyama rolled his eyes and took another sip of milk. He really is going to be a nuisance.