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Five Proposals

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I can't believe you chose the Olympics over me.

Kageyama stares down at the message. It's ancient; he had to scroll through years of his text history with Hinata to find it. He's read it countless times over the years, can barely remember anymore when he first received it, but remembers assuming it was just a joke. How could it not be? Of course he had prioritized training for the fucking Olympics over sending Hinata off to the airport.

No, Kageyama recalls, not even to the airport—to the bus to the airport.

Still, little did Kageyama know that texting back "lol,” something he'd literally just learned a few days earlier, would continue to haunt him for many, many years to come.

***

The first time Kageyama proposes to Hinata, they're barely even friends.

They'd just suffered a heartbreaking loss to Seijoh. Earlier in the day, Hinata had tackled Kageyama to the ground, right in front of their teacher, for daring to imply it was wrong to trust him, to toss to him. They'd joined their teammates after that for a meeting and a meal, then promised to head home and rest.

There was never any doubt between them that when they had nodded, assuring everyone of this, that they were lying.

They were in the gym now, practicing late into the evening. Only the strong get to stand on the court, and they weren't strong enough yet. The entire Karasuno team claimed to want to win, but only Hinata was here, receiving toss after toss, until his arms were shaking with exhaustion.

"Again," Hinata hisses as soon as Kageyama pauses for even a moment.

"You're about to collapse, dumbass."

"I need to be stronger," Hinata shouts back, positioning himself into a half-squat, arms outstretched, ready to receive. "I want to win."

Kageyama doesn't even realize he's hesitating again, not until he hears Hinata growling from across the net. He just remembers staring at Hinata in that moment and feeling it for the first time. This person is special. This is someone unique, someone who wants to win at any cost, someone willing to work beyond hard. He might even be stronger than me.

"Another toss," Hinata calls. His eyes are narrowed, nose scrunched up; his patience is clearly wearing thin.

Kageyama isn't like Hinata, though. He isn't surrounded by friends and infused with effortless affability in the same way, or at all. So when all these emotions and feelings bubble up for the first time, when Kageyama looks at Hinata and sees someone he doesn't want to let go, he blurts out the first thing that comes to mind.

"Only if you marry me."

First, Hinata freezes. Then, the smallest of chuckles escapes as he hops up, out of his receiving position, arms dropping to his sides. His mouth quirks into something between a smile and a very nervous twitch. "Ka—Kageyama? Did you just make a joke?"

Kageyama averts his eyes, frowning, grateful for once that this is his default expression and won't betray that he's actually feeling quite rejected.

"Yes, dumbass," he mutters back.

"Ha!" Hinata unfreezes then, gets back some of his normal spunk. "Nice joke! Good spirit! See, we'll come back from this defeat and crush Seijoh at Spring Inter-High!"

"Right."

Kageyama should be grateful. Hinata is special, and Kageyama is lucky to get to spend any time at all warmed by his presence. He shouldn't be greedy, shouldn't desire any more than that. It was stupid to hope for more.

***

The second time Kageyama proposes, they're not necessarily dating, because they never exactly discussed it, but they're definitely something, wrapped up together in the utility closet after practice on a rainy Wednesday afternoon.

Kageyama has Hinata pinned against the wall, Hinata's legs wrapped tightly around Kagyama's waist. He knows he should probably slow down, or at least ask how Hinata is doing—those squeaky noises could mean a number of things, really—but he's finally gotten permission to touch and now can't seem to will himself to pause for even a second.

Hinata does pull away then, and Kageyama's heart freezes for two, three beats as he waits for the smaller boy to catch his breath.

"Wow, Kageyama," Hinata breaths, "You're really, like—"

Scary? Too intense? Bad at this?

"—Uwaah," Hinata finishes, unhelpfully, before diving back in.

They're walking back together hours later on wobbling knees, their relationship still wholly undefined. Kageyama wants to demand many things from Hinata in that moment, to set a long list of rules for him. No hugging, no touching, no first-name basis with anyone outside Karasuno, and certainly no smiling at other setters... but he knows he's just being greedy again. Instead, Kageyama reaches out and grabs a fistful of Hinata's hair, tugging Hinata against his side.

"I'm going to marry you someday," Kageyama announces.

Hinata falls against him with the tiniest of smiles. Kageyama watches as red bleeds into Hinata's face. He doesn't get an answer.

***

For many times after that, Kageyama has the desire to propose, but he finally puzzles together that one shouldn't go throwing around proposals like they're practice tosses in a scrimmage game. The urge is always there, though, like whenever Hinata flashes him an especially bright smile, or nails a particularly tricky spike. It's even stronger at other times, like when Hinata is on-call, texting Kageyama reassurances throughout his many away camps, or after they go all the way for the first time.

Still, Kageyama resists. They're still only in high school and have goals to achieve and promises to keep. Besides, as far as Kageyama knows, marriage is just his own silly little dream and Hinata doesn't share it.

At the very least, by the end of their third year at Karasuno, they finally define their relationship. It follows years of secret rendezvous, many shared firsts, monogamy despite any established rules, and the biggest fight of their young lives.

"I just thought you'd move with me," Kageyama mumbles, each word becoming progressively softer.

They're in his room, sitting together on his bed. Graduation is just two weeks away. This is not at all how Kageyama saw this afternoon going.

Hinata is furious, eyes narrowed. "And what, become your housewife?"

Kageyama's eyes dart to the top drawer of his desk. He'd been planning another proposal, a real one this time, on their graduation day. He was going to ask Hinata to marry him and move with him to Tokyo. Hinata could keep training and attending try-outs. Kageyama could support him with his salary and sponsorship money.

"...No."

"I don't believe you," Hinata hisses, following Kageyama's line of sight as though he can read Kageyama's mind. "And anyway, it's been decided! You'll see. I can do just fine on my own."

"In Brazil?" Kageyama spits in disbelief.

"It's the best option for me!"

"And what about me?"

Hinata huffs, picks up a pillow and chunks it at Kageyama's head with an angry snarl. "This is to get away from you!"

Kageyama lets the thing hit his face and bounce off, too shocked to bother any defensive maneuvering. He slides from the bed and moves right for the desk. Realizing this, he hesitates, stops, and looks around, suddenly unsure where to go. The window? Just leave the room?

Is this what the next two years will feel like without Hinata around? Floating around, alone and unsure?

Kageyama tries to remember what his life was like before he knew Hinata and tears spring to his eyes before the memories can even surface. Cold, alone, misunderstood, feared—

"Wait! No, Tobio, no!" Hinata hops off the bed and bounds over to Kageyama, leaping onto him and clinging hard. "No, no, I didn't mean that!" He weighs Kageyama's torso down with his entire body, forcing their eyes to meet when Kageyama tries to jerk his head away.

"I mean," Hinata continues, sounding desperate, "I need to prove I can fly on my own without you, but it's for you, so I can keep my promise to you!"

Kageyama tries to calm himself down, breathing heavily through his nose. "For two years?"

"I'll text you every day!" Hinata insists, reaching up to dry the corner of Kageyama's eyes with his thumb.

"For two years."

"I'll never love another setter as long as I live!"

Kageyama stumbles the few feet back to his bed. He carries Hinata with him, who is still clinging very much like a small orange monkey. They fall with a heavy thud, wait for the mattress to stop bouncing, and resettle into more comfortable positions. Hinata is stretched across Kageyama's lap, their faces inches apart.

"Two years is a long time," Kageyama finally mutters, willing his heartbeat to slow down. "You never know who you might meet in Brazil."

"There's nobody I'd ever meet in Brazil, or anywhere, that I could love more than you!" Hinata insists, grabbing two fistfuls of Kageyama's hair and tugging his head forward for a kiss.

It's the hardest two years of their lives.

Despite this, though both are reluctant to admit it at first, Hinata's time in Brazil reveals itself to be an invaluable opportunity for growth. They start to communicate properly, finally. Kageyama learns to tamp down his possessiveness and jealousy and trust that Hinata can and will handle himself. Hinata discovers the value in becoming more vulnerable, slowly opening up about his homesickness and feelings of inadequacy. Kageyama, in return, details the nightmares he has in increasing frequency before the Rio Olympics, in which he brings shame upon the entire country of Japan by forgetting to wear shorts, or accidentally using a basketball, or forgetting the rules of volleyball altogether.

Even as they're physically apart, they grow closer, and after two years, they're a better couple for having gone through it all.

***

Kageyama had decided a few months into Hinata's Brazil adventure that he would propose as soon as Hinata returned. Kageyama was no longer angry with Hinata; if anything, he regretted not supporting him sooner. They had made a promise. That Hinata had taken the promise so seriously was just one of the many reasons Kageyama loved him.

Still, reading about Oikawa's drunken passes at Hinata in Rio weren't among Kageyama's favorite memories. He trusted Hinata. They'd laughed about it. But Kageyama had also messaged Yachi later that day for help with planning a proposal. It was suddenly no longer enough that he and Hinata knew they belonged to each other; certain other people needed to be made aware as well.

For a year and a half, Kageyama had daydreamed about how this might go. He'd plotted meticulously. It had to be the right day—after everyone had left Hinata's welcome-home party, which itself had to be at least a week after his actual return, lest he be too jet-lagged to make a proper decision. The ring had to be perfect—expensive, but not so much so that Hinata would bristle at the thought of Kageyama flaunting his successes; it had to be pretty, but not girly.

The decorations, too, had to be just right, fancy enough that Hinata wouldn't immediately dismiss this newest proposal as yet another impulsive request, but not so extravagant that Hinata would feel guilted into saying yes if he really wanted to say no.

Hinata wouldn't say no, though. They texted constantly, daily, about how excited they were to finally reunite. They were finally going to live together and never planned to separate ever again.

No, Hinata wouldn't reject him this time.

Kageyama is sure of this when he gets down onto one knee, just like in the stacks of movies Yachi had sent over for "research." His suit is pressed, shoes polished, and the ring is shiny and expensive, with a tiny volleyball engraved on the inside with the numbers nine and ten on either side. He paid extra for that. Kageyama's apartment, where Hinata is temporarily staying until they can find a new place together, is decked out to the nines with candles and flowers.

"Shoyo, will you marry me?"

Kageyama holds the tiny jewelry box up to Hinata, much like a peasant making an offering to their god.

Hinata, however, scoffs and turns away, clearly unimpressed.

"No."

Kageyama's face falls, his arms sinking just slightly, the tiny jewelry box shaking in his hands. "Why not?"

"Because," Hinata hisses, turning back to scowl at Kageyama. "You didn't see me off at the airport!"

Kageyama lets his arms fall all the way to the ground. The ring falls from the box with a tiny clatter, but despite its value, Kageyama doesn't bother to try and collect it. "That was," Kageyama finally manages to say, mumbling softly, "two years ago!"

"Well, I'm still pissed at you about it!"

Kageyama's mind races. So, Hinata didn't meet someone better in Brazil. He didn't lose interest in volleyball. They hadn't drifted apart over the two years of long-distance. This was about... how Kageyama had attended his mandatory Olympic training camp over seeing Hinata off the night before he left for Brazil. Brazil, which he hadn't even told Kageyama about until two weeks before he left. For two years.

"So," Kageyama finally says, his heart lost somewhere on the floor with the ring. "You won't marry me?"

"No."

"So... we're breaking up?"

"What?" Hinata leaps back, still as dramatic as ever. "No! I just won't marry you."

Kageyama swallows heavily, tasting bile and thinking he might cry. "Ever?"

"Hmm," Hinata rubs at his chin, oblivious to Kageyama's distress. "Maybe I will, once you find a way to make it up to me."

"Make it up... for not seeing you off at the bus?"

"Yes."

***

Kageyama can't take anymore rejection and puts the ring away in a box with his old volleyball trophies from elementary school. He doesn't propose on Hinata's next birthday or after their first game as professional rivals, and he isn't even tempted to ask during their 5th anniversary dinner. They have a good life together even if Hinata seems to have something against marriage. Kageyama mourns a little every time he has to call Hinata his boyfriend instead of his husband, but Kageyama would do almost anything to stay with Hinata, even give up this silly dream.

Time passes, and one day a package arrives in the mail. Two jerseys, smelling of fresh polyester, bright red with matching numbers, 9 and 10, shipped together because they live together, but addressed to their names separately, because they're still essentially just roommates in the eyes of Japanese law.

It's then that Kageyama knows it's finally time, his last chance, and even though the ring is buried under a stack of dusty boxes in some closet, he doesn't wait to collect it.

Hinata is holding up his jersey, flipping it forward and back, a bright beaming smile on his face as he eyes the little Japanese flag, the big white 10, the capital letters spelling out his name, HINATA. He pulls it over his head, admires himself for a moment, and then looks up, clearly expecting to see Kageyama going through similar motions. Instead, he finds Kageyama on one knee—again.

"Shoyo, will you marry me?"

Hinata sighs and throws up his hands, exasperated. "No!"

Kageyama's face falls. "Seriously?"

"You didn't see me off—"

"We're going to the Olympics together!" Kageyama growls, not letting him finish.

Hinata opens and closes his mouth, clearly not having much of a retort as he stands there in his bright red national team jersey. He doesn't say yes either, though.

Kageyama slowly stands, wavering between resentment and despondency. He makes a decision to lean into the anger, setting his mouth in a thin line.

"Fine," Kageyama huffs. "I'm not going to training with you. I'm going to the bus stop instead."

"What?" Hinata yelps, turning to grab Kageyama's jersey from the box. He holds it up, shaking it in front of Kageyama's grim face. "Are you insane? This is—it's my first Olympics! I trained my whole life to get here! World stage! Together! Our promise!"

Kageyama sighs, drops his head, shakes it, and then starts to laugh. He can't help it. He wants to stay mad, but Hinata is such an idiot. Why did he have to fall for Japan's smallest dumbass?

"What?" Hinata eyes him. When Kageyama looks up, still laughing, Hinata takes a step back and raises his fists. "You wanna fight?"

"You don't sense... any irony right now?"

Hinata drops his arms. "No."

"No hypocrisy?"

"Nope."

"So then," Kageyama says, smiling sweetly. "Do you want to see me off to the bus stop? And miss your first Olympic training?"

Something finally clicks in Hinata's head and he narrows his eyes, challenging. "Yup."

"Great. I'll go buy my ticket to Narita airport."

Kageyama wonders how long it'll take Hinata to call his bluff. He walks over to their shared desk, in their tiny corner office, and pops open the lid to their laptop. He types in their joint password and clicks open the internet browser all before Hinata finally appears behind him.

"Maybe... I'm ready to forgive you," Hinata mumbles. "For the bus thing."

"Does that mean you'll marry me?"

"Maybe," Hinata says, and Kageyama frowns. He swivels in the computer chair so Hinata can clearly see this. "Yes," Hinata quickly amends. "But I'm going to need you to prove I'm your top priority."

"I just offered to skip an Olympic training for you," Kageyama reminds him.

"That's not good enough! And it's not your first Olympics!"

"Shoyo, do you have something against marriage?"

"No!"

"You sure seem to," Kageyama mutters, resentment creeping back in.

"What makes you say that?"

Kageyama just stares, trying not to look too bitter.

"Okay, okay! Maybe I... but I do want to marry you, but..."

Hinata fidgets where he stands. Kageyama watches as he twists his hands together and glances side to side, as though spies might be eavesdropping on this conversation.

"But what? Shoyo. I'd do anything."

"I want people to know you're mine," Hinata finally mumbles, flushing.

"Isn't that the point of marriage?"

"No, then people might think I'm yours."

"You will be," Kageyama growls, immediately thinking of Oikawa, and Atsumu, and Hoshiumi, and—well, everyone to ever meet Hinata, it feels like, sometimes.

"Right, yes, and I am," Hinata says, stepping forward to pat the flat of his palms against Kageyama's chest. "But," he suddenly fists the fabric of Kageyama's shirt, yanking him in close. "You're mine. That's... more important."

"Spit it out," Kageyama mutters, resisting the urge to check and see if they have time for a quickie before making it to practice. He knows they don't.

Hinata falls forward, stuffing his face into Kageyama's chest, his words muffled. "Iwantyoutotakemyname."

"I can't hear you, dumbass."

"I want you to take my name," Hinata repeats, slower, his voice still muffled and his face still hidden.

Kageyama looks down, can see only the top of Hinata's head, the mess of his bright orange hair. He bumps into him, trying to get Hinata to look up and meet his eyes, wants him to see his smile, but Hinata won't budge.

"Oi, dumbass, look at me."

Hinata finally does, reluctantly peering up, his face bright red.

"You want me to be Hinata Tobio? That's it?"

Hinata nods.

"That would make me... really happy," Kageyama murmurs, brushing a stray piece of hair behind Hinata's ear.

"Yah?"

"You have to ask me officially though."

Hinata huffs. "Are you serious?"

"Yes."

"I don't have a ring—"

"I might have one you can borrow," Kageyama says, smiling.

"No," Hinata mumbles petulantly. "If you want me to do it, I'm doing it my way."

"Tch. Fine."

***

"Kageyama Tobio," Hinata says, stepping over to Kageyama's twin bed. They're in their shared room at the Olympic Village in Tokyo, still exhausted from their most recent game. "I made a promise to you that we'd play together on the world stage. Now that I've kept that promise, I've earned your hand in marriage, so you don't really get to say no."

Kageyama tries to keep his expression stoic, but his face betrays him, the corners of his lips quirking up. Clearly, Hinata has never seen a chick flick. Yachi would be appalled.

"Anyway, so, the next time we're here, I want you in this," Hinata says, hurling a jersey at Kageyama's face. Kageyama slowly unfurls it; it's Hinata's national jersey, still damp with sweat.

"This isn't going to fit me," Kageyama says, looking up with a smirk.

"I mean the Hinata part, stupid!"

Kageyama knows, of course, and he's too happy to really keep up the act for long. He chucks the jersey aside—it smells quite badly, to be honest—and extends his arms to Hinata, who pouts for only a second before falling into them.

"Are you asking me to marry you?"

"What do you think?" Hinata hisses, shoving Kageyama.

"You have to say it."

"Fine!"

"Fine, what?"

Hinata sighs, bumping his head into Kageyama's chest. "Will you marry me?"

Kageyama briefly toys with the idea of saying "No". Hinata did turn him down many times before, after all. Hinata also left for Brazil for two years, almost without saying a word. Banter is their thing, and they could keep this going for a while longer, but Kageyama is too pleased, too relieved, to have finally gotten his yes. Besides, Kageyama has the rest of his life to tease Hinata—his stupid, stubborn husband.

"Yes."