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“So, you’re still playing together.”

Kageyama’s water bottle almost collided with the side of Oikawa’s face in his haste to whip around. It had been almost two years since he’d last seen Oikawa outside of a television screen, but the ingrained dread he felt at the sound of Oikawa’s voice hadn’t faded with time.

“What?”

Oikawa leaned artfully against the gymnasium wall and smirked. “I just noticed that you two are still playing together. You and Shrimpy-chan, I mean.”

Kageyama frowned. “Of course we are.”

“Tobio-chan,” Oikawa said thoughtfully, “you know, I’m surprised by you! You’ve actually managed to become a respectable young man these past two years. You’ve changed completely since you were at Kitagawa. The brutal dictator has… lowered himself enough to share the throne.”

Kageyama was approximately two seconds away from ignoring Oikawa altogether. If he was just here to spout his usual nonsense, then he could do it while Kageyama finished his stretches and focused on the upcoming match.

Kageyama had found that it didn’t really matter if he was actually paying attention when Oikawa did things like this. Oikawa was more about the theatrical aspects of his threats/nonsense/gibberish (whatever he happened to harass Kageyama with that day) than with the reactions from the audience (namely, Kageyama).

Oikawa noted how Kageyama’s attention had moved inexorably away from him and back to carefully stretching his arms across his chest and behind his neck. Typical Tobio-chan. “So, are you worried?”
Kageyama knew he shouldn’t rise to Oikawa’s bait. “About what,” he bit out.

“I’m just wondering if you’re worried about how hard it’s going to be.”

Kageyama felt a flash of irritation.

“How hard what is going to be?”

“Well, I was just curious if you were going to be okay after you graduate.”

Kageyama snapped. “Just spit it out, Oikawa! You’re talking in circles!”

Oikawa clicked his tongue and shook his finger in Kageyama’s face. Kageyama had lasted longer than Oikawa had thought he would. Almost one whole minute, a new record. “Tobio-chan! That is no way to talk to your senior. Not when all I’m trying to do is give you some useful life advice!”

Kageyama glared.

“Okay, okay!” Oikawa laughed. “I just wanted to make sure you were going to be okay after you graduate. You just seem to depend on him an awful lot. It’s concerning to your former sempai, y’know.”

“Him?”

“Ah,” Oikawa smiled, eyes glittering like ice, “Shrimpy-chan. Hinata. You and him. The dynamic duo, the captain and vice-captain, the crows that helped Karasuno fly again, blah blah blah. You and the dweeb. Separated.” His smile did that thing where it seemed to ooze at the edges, like it was corroding from the venom he was spewing out. “You rely on him too much, Tobio-chan. I just worry about what you’ll do when you graduate.”

Kageyama narrowed his eyes. Intellectually he knew that whatever Oikawa said was 99% bullshit at all times, but still his heart had an odd kind of panicked beat at the suggestion of being separated from Hinata that did not bear examining too closely (at least at this moment). “What are you even talking about? Rely on him too much? Graduation? What do either of those things have to do with each other?”

Oikawa widened his eyes in faux surprise. “What do you mean? Haven’t you thought about it? Graduation, I mean.”

“Of course I have. Hinata and I are going to play volleyball in university.”

“At the same school, you mean? What if you don’t both get into the same school? What if you fail your final exams, and Hinata passes? What if they offer you a spot on the team, but not Hinata? What if Hinata is offered a place at a school, but you’re not? What will you do then, Tobio-chan?”

Kageyama said nothing.

Oikawa’s smile was slow and pleased. “I know after I leave you’re just going to dismiss everything I’ve said as the oh so cruel manipulations of that crazy Oikawa sempai, who’s hated you all these years. And, that’s true I suppose. I have hated you, and I might be saying this to hurt you. But,” he continued, his voice suddenly low and serious, “I do mean what I say. You rely on each other too much. You must realize that it’s impossible for the two of you to be on the same team forever. Especially if you intend to go pro, which I know you do.”

Oikawa paused to make sure his words had really sunk into Kageyama’s thick skull.

Kageyama just stood there, unblinking, face frozen.

Oikawa leaned back suddenly, face beaming, his entire demeanor transformed. “Well, I’m glad we had this little chat Tobio-chan! I hope everything works out for you and Shrimpy-chan. Where is he, by the way? I don’t see anyone from Karasuno in here but you!” He made an exaggerated searching gesture and peered around the gym, eyes wide.

“Hinata always gives a speech before matches and then goes into the bathroom to throw up,” Kageyama explained. Kageyama had been able to skip out on the pre-game pep talk to come and do some extra stretching in the gym, due to a slight sprain a few weeks before. “The others are probably unloading our equipment from the bus right now.”

Oikawa threw his head back, laughing. “Some things really do not change! Well, just think about what I’ve said, kay? Have a good match! Bye bye, now!”

Kageyama watched as Oikawa flounced away and was almost immediately joined by another man wearing a similar outfit. Oikawa’s teammate? That would explain why Oikawa was there, perhaps looking at the upcoming crop of fresh volleyball hopefuls that would be applying to play at his university come the end of the school year.

Kageyama focused on Oikawa’s retreating back and felt his breathing stretch his lungs, harsh and ragged, and his pulse raged in his ears.

Despite his better instincts, Kageyama kept hearing Oikawa’s words ringing in his head. He’d known, intellectually, that he and Hinata might not be on the same team forever, that some things are out of your control. He’d known that. He had. Really.

There was a huge difference, however, in learning in his first year that just because you played together now didn't mean you would forever, and confronting that same reality in his third and final year of high school.

Playing without Hinata? Kageyama couldn't even imagine it.

Every game he played revolved around the dynamic he and Hinata had created together. Their combined attacks were the heart and soul of Karasuno's offense. Every time Kageyama stepped onto the volleyball court, it was with a hyper awareness of Hinata -- where he was on the court, what could Kageyama do to help him score, what kind of strategies he could think of that would help lead his and Hinata's team to victory.

And to have Oikawa come to him and so viciously remind him that all of that could be coming to an end?

Kageyama didn’t know what to do.

Why was he so affected by this? Why was he shaking? In his years at Karasuno, he'd learned that being on a team and working as a team was important. He'd come to respect his teammates, and even make, for the first time in his life, friends.

But that was no excuse for his shortness of breath, his heart pounding in his chest, the anxiety making it hard to even swallow. How had he let himself get this way? How had he become this dependent on another person that even the mere suggestion of separation was enough to make his body riot against it.

There was no place for this kind of weakness in volleyball. It would only hurt himself, and hurt the team.

Hinata, Kageyama wondered. How would Hinata feel about us not playing on the same team anymore? Separated.

He'd probably be ecstatic, Kageyama thought in a moment of spite. Hinata had consistently reminded Kageyama over the past three years that the only person who could beat Kageyama was Hinata, and that one day Hinata would take him down.

Kageyama knew he was being unfair. Hinata’s promise had actually turned from more of a threat into an inside joke between the two of them. The idea of Hinata on the other side of the court, an adversary instead of an ally, had become laughable.

But now Kageyama was coming to terms with the fact that it might just be his new reality once they graduated. They had never really talked about their post-graduation plans. Kageyama knew he wanted to play volleyball, and he knew Hinata wanted to play volleyball, and he had just assumed that he and Hinata would go to a school where they could do it together.

That had been his idea, at least.

What Hinata really wanted, he had no idea.

Kageyama groaned, and slapped his hand lightly against the side of his head. His thoughts were taking him nowhere. Calm down, calm down, calm down. Breathe. Think.

He knew for a fact that he was going to play volleyball after he graduated. He never doubted that for a second.

It was who he’d be playing with that had now come into doubt.

 

Hinata Shouyou wasn’t a person to overthink things. In fact, he was kind of famous for doing the exact opposite of over thinking.

His volleyball career had been based on that fact. He could never explain in words how he knew what to do when he played, much to everyone on the team’s chagrin (except Nishinoya who would just nod knowingly and flail his arms screaming ‘YES! FIRST, IT’S LIKE… THE WOOSH, THEN THE POW!’ in response). His academic career also, depressingly, reflected that he was by no means an “over thinker.” Maybe an “under-thinker” would be a more accurate description, he often thought sadly.

So yes, Hinata Shouyou wasn’t typically an over-thinker -- which is why he found himself conflicted during his third year of high school, waiting outside the gymnasium for Kageyama Tobio.

Hinata wasn’t sure yet, not 100%, but it seemed to him that maybe….maybe Kageyama had been ignoring him lately.

And not in the usual way that Kageyama would go silent and withdrawn sometimes after a fight. Those times usually lasted hours at the most, with Kageyama withdrawing his presence and attention from Hinata just long enough to be on the right side of punishing. Hinata would cry and push and wheedle and annoy until finally Kageyama would push him away with a swift jab to his shoulder and a loud “Dumbass!” and everything would be back to normal.

Except this time there had been no fight. There had been no shouting match on the court (their usual battleground) or issues in the club. There was simply no explanation for why Kageyama would not look at Hinata.

Oh, he would acknowledge him on the court and still dutifully made sure Hinata had his share of tosses. But outside of the gymnasium and their roles as captain and vice-captain, Kageyama had not bothered to approach Hinata in an entire week.

At least, Hinata thought it had only been a week. He was pretty thick headed, and this might have been going on for a while before he actually caught on, but he did know for a fact that it had been at least a week of Kageyama only speaking to him when he had to, of catching Kageyama giving him these strange considering glances when he thought Hinata wasn’t looking.

Hinata had thought up every possible excuse for Kageyama’s behavior. Maybe he was sick. Maybe he was angry because he was constipated. Maybe Hinata had been calling for too many tosses. Maybe something bad happened with his mom. Maybe he realized how much more awesome and charming Hinata was than him.

In the end, however, Hinata had to simply conclude that he had no fucking clue as to why Kageyama was angry.

He was only very sure that Kageyama’s silence had become intolerable, and Hinata Shouyou was not a person to sit around and wait for things to resolve themselves. He was a man of action.

At least that’s what he told himself while peering into the crack of the gym door to see if he could catch a glimpse of Kageyama. He had to steel himself for the confrontation. He had to have a plan of attack. He couldn’t let Kageyama bulldoze over him like he liked to do. He needed—

“What are you doing?”

Hinata froze.

“Why are you standing in the door? People walk here.”

Hinata couldn’t think of a polite way to say ‘I was spying on everyone in the gym because I thought you were there so I could force you to confront how fucking weird you’ve been to me lately’ so he just did the usual Hinata thing, and yelled angrily at Kageyama instead.

“Of course I know people walk here, stupid! Do you think I’m some kind of idiot?”

Hinata waited for the resounding YES that would normally follow, and maybe an impatient smack to the side of his head.

Instead all he got was—

“Do you think you could move?”

Hinata stared, mouth gaping and eyes wide. Kageyama stared back, face impassive, betraying nothing.

Hinata moved.

 

A few hours and several phone calls later, Hinata was far from comforted.

“Okay, let me get this straight,” Sugawara said. “For the past week, that you know of, Kageyama has been ignoring you.”

Hinata nodded frantically, even though Sugawara couldn’t see him.

“And you really can’t think of anything you might have done to upset him? You didn’t….steal his milk?”

“No!”

“Mess up a match?”

“Of course not!”

“Say something very unkind?”

“Never!”

“Hit him in the head with a volleyball?”

“That was one time!”

Sugawara sighed. “Hinata, if you can’t think of what you’ve done, then I really can’t help you apologize. Do you know what should do?”

“Of course not, that’s why I called you!”

Sugawara sighed. “All you have to do is talk to him.” Before Hinata could protest, Sugawara continued. “And I know you’ve been trying to do just that, but really Hinata, that’s the only advice I can give. Something is obviously wrong, and you know how Kageyama is. You’re going to have to force him to talk about it, otherwise you’re never going to figure out what’s wrong.”

Hinata sighed. “I know, I know, you’re right. It’s just so hard,” he whined pitifully.

Sugawara laughed. “Yeah, well, that’s what you get when you’re friends with Kageyama. That idiot is never going to make it easy.”

Hinata felt slightly better now that he’d been able to talk to a kindred spirit who knew just how terrible and stubborn Kageyama could be. “Well, thanks for the advice. I know you’re very busy with school and everything right now.”

“No problem. I’m always happy to make time for my favorite first year.”

“But I’m a third year now!” Hinata protested.

“Yes, but in my heart, you will always be a first year,” Sugawara said very solemnly.

After a few more minutes of Hinata’s furious protests (“I’m an adult noooow!”) and Sugawara’s laughing denials, the two exchanged goodbyes, with Hinata promising once more that he would try to talk to Kageyama.

Try being the operative word.

The next day at practice, however, things somehow managed to get worse. Of course.

Hinata was practicing hitting receives with one of the first years when he felt a soft tap on his back and turned to see Yamaguchi standing there, face pained and decidedly awkward.

“Um, Hinata, could I talk to you for a minute?”

Hinata nodded and grabbed a bored looking second year to take his place setting up the receives. He followed Yamaguchi into the equipment room.

“I really don’t know how to say this,” Yamaguchi started, biting his lip anxiously, “but a few minutes ago, Kageyama came up to me and told me that he didn’t think there was any reason for him to toss to you in practice anymore. Well actually, the word he used was ‘pointless.’ He said it was ‘pointless’ for him to toss to you anymore, and he asked me to take over from now on.”

Hinata didn’t understand.

“Pointless? He said it was pointless for him to toss to me anymore?”

“Y-yeah…that’s what he said.” Yamaguchi wouldn’t look at him.

“I….I asked him why, since you two always practice together, and how could it be all the sudden…p-pointless, and he just shrugged and told me to mind my own business.”

Hinata almost couldn’t even hear what Yamaguchi was saying. He was stuck on what Yamaguchi had told him, repeating it over and over in his mind.

Pointless. Pointless. Pointless.

One second Hinata was standing there in the equipment room, clenching his fists painfully and staring at the ground, angrily fighting the tears crowding in his eyes, and the next second he was sprinting into the gym, leaving a bewildered Yamaguchi behind.

“Kageyama!”

Kageyama was standing by the net, ball in hand. He didn’t look surprised at all. If Hinata had to choose a word for his expression it would be…resigned.

But he angrily shoved that thought away as he ran up to Kageyama, getting as much in his face as their disparate heights allowed.

“Outside. Now.”

Kageyama wordlessly handed the volleyball to a gaping mouthed first year and nodded.

Hinata turned on his heel and marched out the gym’s doors, not even looking behind to check if Kageyama was following him.

Hinata came to a stop when he reached the huge tree on the side of the gym. It was far enough away from everyone inside that whatever conversation they were about to have wouldn’t be overheard.

He listened as the footsteps behind him came to a stop.

He stood there for a few more seconds, thinking about everything that he’d been through the past week, and how this was it. Hinata couldn’t take it anymore.

“Pointless,” he whispered.

Kageyama said nothing.

“Pointless,” he said again, a little louder.

Kageyama remained silent.

Hinata burst into a flurry of rage, whipping around and screaming, “Pointless?! That’s what your tosses are to me now, Kageyama? Pointless?”

Kageyama’s expression didn’t falter for a second. He seemed to be staring at a point fixed just above Hinata’s head. When he spoke his voice was wooden and forced. “I didn’t say my tosses to you were pointless, I said that me tossing to you all the time at practice is pointless.”

Hinata faltered a little at that but he still felt the heavy thrum of anger vibrating underneath his skin.

“Why would you say that, Kageyama? Since when have any of your tosses to me ever been pointless?”

Hinata stared fixedly at Kageyama’s face, waiting for an answer.

Finally –

“Hinata I think…that we rely on each other too much.”

Hinata almost laughed he was so shocked. “What do you mean, we rely on each other too much? Of course we rely on each other, we’re teammates and frie— ”

“No,” Kageyama cut in, “I mean that I think we spend too much of our time together. We focus on each other too much in volleyball. It shouldn’t be that way. It’s not…. It’s not good.”

“Not…good…?” Hinata couldn’t understand what he was hearing at all. Spending time together? Playing volleyball together? Those things were suddenly not good?

“We’re about to graduate, and we’re going to have to go our separate ways, so I think this distance is good for us.”

“But, I had thought…”

Kageyama kept speaking as if Hinata hadn’t said anything. “So that’s why I think tossing to you in practice is pointless. I honestly don’t think there’s been a real reason for it for a while. We’ve just been playing games. Acting like children. I need to take volleyball seriously now, and spending valuable practice time throwing you tosses for no reason other than you think it’s fun is just,” Kageyama paused, but there was no hesitance in his voice when he said, “not a priority.”

For perhaps the first time in his life, Hinata had no words.

“So, if that’s the only reason you dragged me out here, then I’m going back inside the gym now.”

With that, Hinata watched Kageyama’s retreating form return to the gym, the door slamming closed behind him.

Kageyama hadn’t looked at him once.

 

The next day was, thank god, the weekend, so Hinata didn’t have to face the awkwardness that would be practice with Kageyama from now on.

After the disastrous confrontation with Kageyama the day before, Hinata had hurriedly left with some half assed apology to Yamaguchi before speeding home on his bike in a daze, Kageyama’s words ringing in his ears.

That Saturday afternoon, Hinata lay on his bed, staring at the ceiling despondently.

His phone on the nightstand lit up, and his heart raced (Idiot, he chastised himself, of course it won’t be him), before he saw the name.

The message was from Tanaka and consisted solely of three glasses of beer emojis.

Hinata frowned and texted back: ???

The next message appeared almost immediately.

Tanaka: asahi bought a few packs of beer and has been coerced into distributing it to minors if u wanna come over

Following the text was a picture of a shamefaced Asahi and a gleeful Nishinoya with beers in both hands.

Hinata rolled off of his bed and started slipping on his shoes with one hand while he awkwardly texted Tanaka back with the other.

Hinata: be there in 30

Tanaka texted back a picture of a wildly grinning Nishinoya who was now proudly displaying an upside down beer can and giving a triumphant thumbs up while Asahi waved sadly in the background.

Hinata’s mood was considerably improved by the time he reached Tanaka’s apartment. The prospect of spending the afternoon with people who actually wanted to be around him was definitely a welcomed change.

As soon as Hinata rang the doorbell to Tanaka’s apartment, he heard a furious clamor of voices inside, followed by several loud thumps. A few moments later, an apologetic Asahi pulled open the door.
Behind him, Hinata could see Tanaka and Nishinoya both delicately cradling their heads and making pained noises.

“They both wanted to be the one to open the door, and they knocked into each other pretty hard,” Asahi explained.

Hinata grinned. He had missed this.

Asahi looked behind Hinata expectantly.

“Oh? Where’s Kageyama? I thought the two of you would be coming together.”

Hinata’s heart leapt. “Did….did you invite Kageyama, too?”

“Of course! Why wouldn’t we?”

By this point Tanaka and Nishinoya had recovered from their accidental headbutt and were looking at Hinata curiously.

Hinata backed away from the door, holding his hands in front of him apologetically. “I um, I have to go. I forgot I have to do something. My… mom will get mad if she knows I’ve been drinking. I have… a test to study for.” The excuses kept pouring out of his mouth in his haste to find some way to escape.

Nishinoya and Tanaka looked at him like he’d grown two heads, and Asahi just looked confused.

Hinata gave a small bow as he kept backing away. “So sorry, so sorry. Have a good time without me. I’ll see you later. Bye!”

He turned on his heel and, knowing how crazy his actions must seem, ran as quickly as he could down the stairs to where he had locked his bike. His head was pounding with embarrassment, but he knew that it was much better to feel embarrassed that he had acted strange in front of Nishinoya, Tanaka, and Asahi than to feel the awkwardness and embarrassment that he would have to feel if he’d been there when Kageyama came.

He couldn’t even imagine having to sit there, pretending with Kageyama to their former teammates that everything was okay between them when it wasn’t, it was awful and since when had there been so many damn stairs Hinata thought furiously as he bounded down the last set of steps, straight out the doors, and he only had a split second to register black hair, Karasuno jacket, Kageyama ,before he collided into him and fell onto the hard ground.

For a brief moment Hinata prayed frantically that he’d been wrong, it hadn’t been Kageyama he’d just run into and knocked down, please god I think he’ll actually kill me, and he kept up this frenzied train of thought until—

“Hinata, you moron! Do you ever, and I mean ever, watch where you’re going? Do you have actual thoughts in that empty head of yours, or is it just a volleyball in there instead of a brain!?”

“Maybe if you weren’t such a creepy lurker and didn’t move like an old man I wouldn’t have run into you!” Hinata replied, springing up from where he’d been lying prone on the sidewalk to glare at Kageyama.

“Me?! Run like an old man! I have beaten you in 257 out of our 639 races!”

“So that means…” Hinata screwed up his face in concentration, trying to do the math, before quickly giving up. “That means I’ve still beaten you more times than you’ve beaten me!”

“Dumbass!”

“Moron!”

“Idiot!”

“Stupid!”

“Hey!” a loud voice boomed overhead. “You’re both idiots! Shut up!” They heard the sound of a door being slammed.

It was like someone had dowsed them in cold water. All the sudden, the events from yesterday came rushing back and Hinata remembered why he had rushed away so quickly from Tanaka’s apartment.

He had been avoiding this exact situation. Seeing Kageyama was just too…painful.

It had been so easy to slip back into their old rhythm, Hinata thought despairingly. The insults, the competitiveness, the friendship. But not it was like sitting with a stranger. The Kageyama in front of him was one
who had made it clear what he thought of his relationship with Hinata, and it was that he didn’t think anything of it at all.

Hinata swallowed painfully and looked anywhere but at Kageyama.

“I am very sorry that I ran into you,” he said formally. He stood up and quickly dusted himself off, still not daring to look even in Kageyama’s direction.

“It’s okay,” Kageyama said, voice sounding oddly strained.

Hinata, not knowing what else to do or say, ignored the tiny part of his brain that was telling him to stay and try to talk things out with Kageyama, and listened instead to the majority of his brain that was simply screaming RUN AWAY AVOID AVOID AVOID.

Hinata turned, relieved to see that his bike was only a few feet away and that escape was imminent. Now if he could just find his damn key, he thought, searching his pockets frantically.

A hand appeared in front of his downturned face, dangling the key there awkwardly.

Hinata snatched it away. “Thanks,” he mumbled.

Would it be ungrateful if I just unlocked my bike now and rode away as quickly as possible, Hinata wondered.

Kageyama was standing next to him now and Hinata could feel him looking at him, and it was like some kind of tractor beam from one of those stupid space movies Tsukishima had made him watch. He was frozen in place, with the weight of Kageyama’s gaze pinning him there.

“Why are you leaving?” Kageyama asked.

“I have stuff I forgot I had to do,” Hinata said, his excuse sounding lame even to his own ears.

The silence stretched for a moment before –

“It’s because you found out I was coming, isn’t it?” Kageyama said quietly.

Hinata’s face betrayed him immediately.

“No,” Hinata lied quickly. “I really…had stuff to do.”

“What stuff?”

“Club stuff.”

“Oh, really? Like what? As your co-captain, I feel like I’d know about any extra ‘club stuff’ you’d have to do on the weekend.”

“Okay, okay, I was leaving so I wouldn’t have to see you! You got me! Why do you even care if I’m leaving, Kageyama? I thought you’d be happy. That way you wouldn’t have to deal with seeing me and dealing with our pointless friendship.” With that, he quickly unlocked his bike from the rack and was about to speed away, because fuck Kageyama Tobio and his stupid questions and his stupid insults.

Until—

“I don’t… I don’t think our friendship is pointless.”

And even that might not have been enough to make Hinata turn around, not with how angry he was feeling, except, “Are you crying?”

“No!” Kageyama replied angrily, wiping away the tears that were slowly falling from his eyes. It’s true that there weren’t many, and he was doing a good job of stopping them, but the fact remained that Kageyama was crying.

Kageyama, who in their second year had fallen during practice and twisted his ankle so badly the doctor was surprised he hadn’t blacked out from the pain. Kageyama, whose mother had once drunkenly told him one night that he was the reason his father had left. Kageyama who, in all the years Hinata had known him, had never really cried. With the exception of volleyball losses, of course, but those didn’t count because everyone cried.

Hinata had no idea what to do.

“Kageyama, why are you crying? Please stop, I’m sorry, whatever I did, I’m sorry!”

Kageyama was still furiously rubbing his eyes. “You didn’t do anything, you total dipshit.”

“Hey! Why are you being mean to me when all I’m doing is trying to comfort you?” Hinata yelled indignantly.

Kageyama ignored him. “You didn’t do anything,” he repeated. “It was me.”

“Wait,” Hinata said, shocked at the admission. “Are you actually saying that you did something wrong?”

“Yes!” Kageyama roared suddenly, smacking Hinata upside the head. “Now shut up and let me apologize to your properly!”

“Okay, okay! You don’t have to hit me!”

“Dumbass!”

“Idiot!”

“Moron!”

“If I have to come out here again and tell the two of you to shut up, it’s going to be with the police!”

Hinata and Kageyama both froze, mid-scream, and then visibly deflated as their anger drained out of them.

Kageyama was doing the non-eye contact thing he’d perfected lately, but this time it felt more nervous than cold. “Do you think we could go somewhere around here and talk?” he asked.

Hinata tilted his head thoughtfully. “Hmmm, I remember that there’s a park nearby. Tanaka and I went there a few weekends ago to practice volleyball with some of his friends from school.”

Kageyama nodded and then gestured for Hinata to lead the way. Hinata pulled his bike fully out of the rack and started pushing it in the direction of the park. Normally he would just ride there and offer Kageyama a spot on the back, but things felt too unsettled right then for that. There was still too much unspoken from what had been happening lately for Hinata to just fall back so quickly into old habits, their screaming matches notwithstanding.

When they arrived at the park, Hinata gently leaned his bike against a tree and turned to face Kageyama expectantly.

“You’re going to think it’s stupid,” Kageyama said in a rush.

“What’s stupid?”

“The reason for…everything that’s been happening.”

“Try me.”

Kageyama inhaled sharply and then pushed his breath out slowly. “Do you remember how I had that light sprain in my ankle, about a month ago?”

Hinata nodded.

“And how for a few matches after that, I didn’t have to listen to your pep talk in the bus because I needed the extra time to stretch, right?”

Hinata nodded again.

“Well, a few weeks ago while you were giving your speech to everyone and then throwing up, or whatever it is you do in the bathroom, I was in the gym stretching and…Oikawa was there. And he came and talked to me.”

Hinata did not like where this was going.

“He was there scouting, I think, and he must have seen me and decided to come mess with me. You know, the kind of twisted shit he considers fun. And I know I should have ignored him, and I know it was stupid, but he said some….stuff. Some stuff that really messed me up.”

Hinata felt cold. “What kind of stuff did he say?”

“He said that we…depend on each other too much. That once we graduate we’re going to have to separate and go to different schools because in the pros there’s no guarantee we’ll still be together and he talked about how painful it was going to be and how terrible I’d probably feel once it happened and it’s true Hinata, the idea of us not playing together is so awful and I can’t stand to think about it and I tried to make it happen, I tried to make it not hurt, for us to not depend on each other so much so that when we did have to separate it wouldn’t feel like someone was cutting off my arm, but then I only felt worse and now I realize that even if we can’t play together in the future we still have now because honestly, the idea of you hating me, and walking away from me and me only getting to see you on the other side of the court makes something inside me feel like it’s dying. I can’t do that. I can’t pretend like it doesn’t bother me anymore. Oikawa doesn’t know anything.”

Hinata didn’t even need to think about how to respond.

“You’re right. That is probably the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”

Kageyama face crumpled, and he nodded.

“Yeah, that’s what I thought you’d say.”

When Hinata spoke, it was very calm and measured. It showed nothing of the simmering anger that was lurking right below the surface. “Kageyama Tobio, you are, without a doubt, the dumbest person I have ever met. And this is coming from a person who struggles to multiply anything higher than five.”

Kageyama simply nodded again, face downturned.

“How could you think,” Hinata said, voice rising, “how could you think for one second that I would let you leave me?”

Kageyama jerked his head upright, confused. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, did you actually think there’s anything on this planet that can keep me from playing volleyball with you? Did you actually think that there would be a scout stupid enough to only try to get one of us on a team? After seeing us play together, do you really think there would be someone that absolutely moronic that they would try to separate us? Did you actually think I would agree to that? Did you ever think that maybe instead of shutting me out, instead of being cruel to me, instead of lying to me, you could have, I don’t know, actually talked to me? Actually told me what was happening, instead of doing everything on your own! Don’t I matter? Don’t you think our relationship matters?”

Hinata could feel angry tears sliding down his face, but it wasn’t half as shocking as what Kageyama did next.

One second Kageyama was standing in front of Hinata, mouth hanging open in shock, and the next second his mouth was on Hinata’s, hot and wet and awkward but perfect, god, so perfect, and the last coherent thought Hinata had was just how had they not done this before?

Kageyama eventually pulled back, panting, eyes shining.

“It matters.”

Hinata’s brain felt scrambled. “What matters?”

“Our relationship, you idiot. It matters. To me.”

Kageyama looked at Hinata expectantly.

Hinata rolled his eyes. “Of course it matters to me, too. I just cried my eyes out and made out with you for ten minutes. I think it’s kind of obvious we’re on the same page right now.”

Kageyama smiled for the first time in weeks.

His smile did something to Hinata’s heart, something it had always done, but had just recently become a feeling Hinata could identify. The two of them stood there for a few more moments, not speaking, just looking at each other contentedly in light of the newest, inevitable development in their relationship.

Hinata was, of course, the first to break the silence.

“From now on, the first rule of our new relationship is this,” he said, holding up a finger. “Never, ever, ever, ever, EVER, make a decision without talking to me first about it, again.”

“Deal.”

“Second rule,” Hinata said, holding up another finger. “That kissing stuff we did just now? That was nice. We should have been doing that for years. Which is where useful rule number two comes in, which is that kissing me all the time is now mandatory.”

Kageyama nodded very seriously. “I approve of rule number two.”

As he spoke, Hinata grabbed Kageyama’s hand. “Rule number three is the most important of all of the rules, I think.”

“Alright, let’s hear it.”

“Rule number three,” Hinata said, holding up three of Kageyama’s fingers, “is that you must buy me at least two meat buns, every day.”

Kageyama snatched his hand away and whacked Hinata on the side of the head with it. “Are you seriously involving meat buns in this relationship?”

“Hey! If you want to be my boyfriend you’re going to have to buy me nice stuff, okay!” Hinata said, puffing up his cheeks indignantly.

“You consider meat buns to be ‘nice stuff’?” Kageyama asked incredulously before his brain caught up with what Hinata had just said. “Wait, boyfriends?”

Hinata toed the dirt of the park with his shoe, feeling very shy all of the sudden. “Well, isn’t that what you had in mind when we agreed to a new relationship?”

“Well, yeah, but –”

Hinata reclaimed Kageyama’s hand and pressed it between his two smaller ones. He looked up at Kageyama seriously and moved one hand to tenderly push back Kageyama’s hair from where it had fallen in his eyes. “Isn’t it really just us giving a name to this thing that’s been going on between us for years?”

Kageyama smiled again, and this time it was less ecstatic, and more slow and contented.

This was good, he thought. He could do this. He could have this, and volleyball. And if someone tried to stop them, then they’d just change the rules like they always had.

“You know sometimes, for a total imbecile, you’re actually pretty smart,” he said.

“Hey!” Hinata began to protest. “You’re just as st---mmf!” As he held Hinata’s face softly between his two palms and kissed him soundly, Kageyama gleefully added a new rule to their list.

Rule number four: any and all arguments, conversations, or meaningless fights can be ended at any time with a kiss.

He had a feeling Hinata would agree on this.

They’d have to have to have a longer discussion about rule number three, though.

Right after this kiss ends, Kageyama told himself.

The next day, Hinata, looking impossibly smug, sat on Kageyama’s lap (who looked as if he was both questioning all of his life decisions and also the happiest he’d ever been), as he enjoyed his second meat bun of the day.