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Not Just a Game

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Lucio was the one who asked if he wasn’t interested in seeing any indoor pro volleyball game. 

Hinata has been in Brazil for a while now and he had even managed to see a beach volleyball competition, but he had no time to even think about the indoor professional teams.

But of course he said yes - how could he possibly say no? He had never watched a lot of Brazilian games, because he tended to focus on watching Asian’ competitions, but from what he saw on worldwide championships, they were monsters. 

He had tried to hide how excited he was, but by Lucio’s amused glare, he didn’t succeed at all. 

Just by entering the gymnasium, he knew it would be an experience so different from what he had at home. Not only because they were more people watching than he had expected to be since it was a regular game in a national championship, but by the way they were loud. Also, most of them were using a t-shirt from the club that they were cheering for.  

They took their seats (Lucio guided them to the best ones still available) and they waited for the game to start. Hinata didn’t know much about any of the teams playing, so he decided to cheer for the one hosting, something called Sesc. 

“Hey, do you know who’s that?” Lucio asked to him, pointing out a middle-age coach.

Hinata looked confused to him, why should he know? The guy was a coach, so if he had played internationally it must have been years ago and he had to admit that he didn’t know much about old volleyball players (that had earned him so many fights with Kageyama). 

“Hum, no?” he tried. 

“I can’t believe it”, Lucio said, laughing. “You’re in front of the living legend and can’t recognize him?”

That grabbed Hinata’s entire curiosity. He knew that Brazil had a lot of amazing and famous players, so who was him? It better be good. 

“That”, Lucio smiled. “It’s Bernardinho, a truly genius”. 

Hinata stared at him entirely shocked. Of course he knew who the man was! Everyone knew. This man was no joke, being the most successful volleyball coach in the history. He won it all, gathering a silver at Olympics as a player and also 2 gold, 2 silvers and 2 bronze as coach just at Olympics. 

Hinata just never had expected to be able to stay so close to him, never once had the thought that maybe he would be able to see this man in action crossed his mind. He watched amazed as the man said something to one of his players. 

He then took his phone out and took a not-so-good picture of him, sending it to Kageyama, Tsukishima and Yamaguchi, knowing they would be dying of jealous that he got to see a game with Bernardinho as a coach (Tsukishima in special was his fan). 

Lucio explained to him some of qualifications of the team players, though honestly all Hinata heard was that someone called Mari was an Olympic champion and was playing for Bauru (so that was the name of the other team). He was still too busy staring at Bernardinho, only coming out of his trance when he saw that the game had started. 

He cheered loudly as he saw the first block of the game working out. As it was to be expected the game was a high-quality one, much more higher than he would usually be able to see on person. 

He held his breath when a really long rally happened, with the red team (Bauru) taking the point. Then he got sad when a woman tried to go after that ball but it was already too much gone, almost hitting the crowd.  

“Why there is no breaks?” he asked to Lucio, confused to see that they had passed the eight points but the game hadn’t stopped yet. 

“What do you mean?” 

“The Seri team reached 8 points, no?” Hinata explained unsure if he had been counting right. 

Sesc. Ah, the first technical time-out?” Lucio understood now. “We don’t have that anymore. I mean, we do when it comes to international championships, but the CBV removed them from the nationals competitions”. 

CBV, Hinata had learned before, was the official organization that deal with volleyball in Brazil. But this didn’t change how strange it was, he couldn’t think of playing without the technical time-out. 

Maybe he relayed on them too much, but he had got used to hear what coach Ukai had to say on those. It was great to gather the spirit to fight back when everything seemed lost. Though, that also meant that they could play without stopping so much, so maybe it was good thing too. 

He didn’t think too much about it, however, because he had already lost to see some points and refuse to lose more. The game continued at full intensity and he hoped it would stay that way until the end. 

He watched as Bernardinho stopped the game for the first time and hurriedly talked to his team. There was no way that Hinata could hope to understand what he was saying, being so far away and the other speaking so fast, yet he didn’t take his eyes of him. He didn’t seem very happy, though. 

Before he knew it, it was set point, Sesc with a great advantage, and Hinata felt more nervous than if he was the one playing, because he couldn’t do anything. 

The ball did drop, but on the opposite side of the court that he was hoping for. He thought it was curious to see how one of the players had tried to lift the ball with their feet (he had already seen Nishinoya do it in his first year but it was so rare). 

He barely could believe his eyes as he saw the other team reach the 23 points and wondered if it was this that Karasuno made people feel as they watched their games. It was so incredible, he could almost hear they all thinking that they wouldn’t give up. 

But the set was over with a fast attack that made him feel strangely proud, even if he knew he had literally done nothing to help them. 

He continued to watch the players who were gathered around the court as he talked with Lucio, sharing his first impressions of the game. 

Almost one hour and half later, the game had finished, with a crazy last set with 25-14 to Sesc. Hinata watched as the players congratulated themselves and the coaches exchanged a few words, with his own heart beating fast. 

Not even in Japan it was easy for him to watch a pro game, always without the time to do so, the money or being too far away. He hadn’t known how much he missed it, the thrill of watching so many talented players and wishing he could be like them. 

Today, in the most of the time, he truly didn’t know who would win, because really both of the team played well. One second he was cheering for Sesc, then before he knew it, he was celebrating a score by Bauru. 

This was the two best hours he had spent in Brazil so far and he loved it. The game had made him fall in love even more with volleyball, if that was possible. 

This was a reminder to him of what he would be facing as soon as he got back to Japan, of just what he was trying to compete against. It was no joke, but then again the training he had been put himself through wasn’t either - he could say that he had become so much better and he was ready to prove it. 

“Do you think we can talk to Bernardinho?” Hinata said, messing up a bit with the pronunciation of the name. 

“Today, I don’t think so”, Lucio explained, looking somewhat sad. “Because he has to go straight to his team to discuss the game and prepare for the next one, but I do think that I can talk to some people for you to meet him later. I don’t promise anything, though”, Lucio said.

Hinata smiled widely. Even if he had one second with him, he would make it count. He just knew that the man could help him to be even better.  

Lucio and him stopped to grab skewers (or espetinho, as he learned), and Hinata really loved the meat there, before they parted ways. 

Hinata thought he would be more calm by the time he got home, but he was still bustling with excitement from the game and even Pedoro noticed, asking what he had done. 

“...and the crowd screamed so much! They seemed very into it! And I think they understand a lot about the game too!” Hinata said, sharing his view of the amazing game. 

“Did you think this was loud?” Pedoro seemed amused by that. “I never thought that I would say this, but I have to take you to a football game”.

“Oh, that would be great”, Hinata agreed.

Even if there was no doubt to him that he would still prefer volleyball, he was kind of curious to watch the football game on the country that was know for it. And he just knew that Tanaka would kill him if he learned that he didn't watch a single game while he lived here. 

“Or, in second thought, I can arrange someone to take you”, Pedoro said, mumbling something about too many people.

Hinata caught his phone and saw that Tsukishima had reply his photo with a single I hate you. He smiled, imagining the other boy cursing him as he saw the photo and what he would say if he knew there was a possibility that he may even talk to the man. Hinata smiled, truly satisfied with his life. Though, even if he did end up not meeting Bernardinho, it was good enough to watch this game. His life was really incredible.