Why do people build schools on hills?
Kageyama grumbled to himself and adjusted his half-frame, wayfarer glasses. This was one of the steepest hills he’s ever had to climb. And it being his first time trekking this path, he truly looked stupid huffing and working up a sweat while everyone around him climbed it with ease. He just wanted to turn back time so he could feel the smooth finish of his dad’s piano and soothe his mind with its sweet sound. The blistering sun, the slight burn in the back of his calves, and this sticky proximity to other people seemed to mock him—distant memories churned in his stomach like acid.
“This is Kageyama Tobio. Now that his father is working on a ship, he’s moved all the way from Yokosuka. Treat him well.”
Kageyama focused his gaze on one of the empty seats the teacher had pointed to near the back and swiftly moved through the class, trying his best to ignore the piercing eyes of his classmates. After switching schools more times than he could count with both hands, he had gotten used to this whole isolating procedure. He didn’t care. He had absolutely zero expectations.
The whispers were persistent.
…I heard he’s the nephew of the owner of JR Sendai Hospital! …He’s kind of cute but his glasses make him look like a nerd …
He had to be calm, unfazed by the murmuring voices, the snickers calling him a rich brat, and even the few innocently curious eyes; he was just fine on his own. Though this was easier said than done. The stress of the first day of class had always given him a migraine—probably some sort of defense mechanism his body had in order to fight against this forced façade of indifference he always put on. He needed air. Kageyama glanced up at the clock to the right of the room as he rubbed his temples and realized he only had to wait one more hour until he could sneak his way to the roof to have his lunch. That was his usual reprieve; the only place the fog in his mind dissipated and his lungs filled up with air again, free from the suffocating tension that came from being a transfer student.
“Is the roof up those stairs?” Kageyama asked as he approached a cute, blonde girl from his class in the hallway.
She nodded, the star-shaped hair accessory holding her side ponytail bobbing with the motion. “Yeah. But I wouldn’t advise going—”
“Thanks,” Kageyama interrupted and walked away.
He climbed the stairs two steps at a time, his lunchbox swinging in one hand, and sighed to himself when he reached the top. There was something draped with a white sheet blocking the entrance to the roof door. Kageyama pulled at the sheet, in hope of it being something light enough to move over and somewhat curious at what was under it, only to discover it was just a student sleeping in a row of chairs. The guy’s hair was a peculiar shade of orange that shimmered in the sunlight leaking from the roof doors. He had a small body to match his childish face, a tiny x-shaped scar right beneath his left eye, and a rebellious red and white shirt under his unbuttoned uniform.
“Mm...” The guy rustled, turning over to face Kageyama with squinted eyes and a tiny smile. He reached up to grab Kageyama’s hand, sliding palm against palm, and bringing him closer with a steel clutch. “Don’t go, Mom!”
Kageyama dropped the sheet to the floor, quietly looking down at the guy’s bruised warm hand and the stupid expression on his face, and he waited. The guy blinked a few times, realization slowly hitting him, and his gaze shifted from Kageyama’s face to their linked hands.
“Huh? Why are you holding my hand?” he mumbled.
“You’re the one who grabbed it,” Kageyama stated, tugging his hand away. “Also, can you move?”
The guy sat up. “Wait, who are you? I’ve never seen you before.”
“I just transferred today.”
“Oh, that makes sense. I’m Hinata, nice to meet you.”
Kageyama sighed. “Great. I’m Kageyama. Can you move? I want to eat my lunch on the roof.”
Hinata stood up and puffed his chest. “I’m sorry, but you can’t get through here.”
It was quite comical, really. Hinata’s display of bravado while being a good two heads shorter than Kageyama was amusing enough to make Kageyama smirk. “And why is that?” He took a step forward and leered down at Hinata, “Are you planning to stop me?”
“Well, I could. I am short but I put up a good fight,” Hinata said as he also stepped forward, arching an eyebrow. “But that’s not it. I’m waiting for the group of third years who stole the key from me. Without the key, you can’t get to the roof.”
“There’s no way a tiny second year like you could win against third years.”
“Just watch me.” Hinata flashed a wide grin and walked to the edge of the stairs’ landing. “So the thieves finally show up. I’ve been waiting ages.”
Three third years steadily climbed the stairs with smug expressions plastered on their faces. The one leading them laughed, “So this is the notorious Hinata. You sure are tiny.”
“So is a bullet. It’s still lethal, though.”
The leader walked past Hinata and Kageyama, shoved the chairs to the side, and opened the roof door. “Who’s your friend. Does he also want to join the rumble?”
Kageyama put his free hand up defensively. “No, I don't. I don't fight.” He couldn’t afford to hurt his hands for petty reasons like pride or whatever guys his age fought for.
“You heard him. Also, I’m enough for you guys,” Hinata declared with a grin.
The leader chuckled. “Oh, we’ll see about that.” And with that, all of them exited to the roof.
Kageyama sighed and sat down on one of the chairs facing the open roof door. He didn’t want to watch the fight because he found the whole situation unbelievably stupid, yet he couldn’t deny the tiny inkling of desire to know the outcome. Hinata was going to lose, hands down. But he might as well have his lunch here since there was no way they would be done before lunch was over. And, well, also to call the nurse or something if Hinata got too pummeled.
The rumble started with Hinata ducking a punch from the leader and squaring him in the jaw with an uppercut. But though he had quick reflexes, and the leader was thrown a few steps back from the punch, Hinata wasn’t powerful enough to take him out with one throw. The two lackeys came in for a joint attack, but Hinata jumped up to knee both of them in the face with a smug grin, and eyes sparked with tenacity. He was enjoying himself. There was a feral quality to the way he hopped and scurried around the three big guys, face filled with joy even when he was getting punched. Hinata could be some sort of masochist, that seemed to be the most logical conclusion Kageyama could come up with, but there was also the possibility that fighting gave the overactive midget an artificial sense of vitality. His boundless energy was intriguing, to say the least.
It didn’t take too long for the three upperclassmen to finally work together and land a crushing blow to Hinata’s stomach. The sounds of bone against bone and Hinata’s hacking made Kageyama rip his glance away to focus on his half-eaten lunch. Soon after he heard chuckling upperclassmen walk towards his direction and then past him, down the stairs. He set his lunch down on the chair and walked onto the roof, still contemplating in his head if it was a smart idea to involve himself any further.
“Hey, you alive?” Kageyama nudged Hinata’s leg with his foot. “Do you need a nurse?”
Hinata’s eyes popped open and he sat up. “No, I’m totally fine. I’m pretty good at taking a beating.”
“You don’t look fine. I told you that you weren’t going to win.”
Hinata stuck his tongue out as he swung a ring of keys around his finger. “Depends on what you consider winning . This was my plan from the beginning.”
“…” Kageyama squatted with a sigh. “You’re an idiot.”
“Hey, judging from how desperately you wanted to get onto the roof before, you should be happy.”
“I wasn’t desperate,” Kageyama grumbled.
Hinata chuckled and stood up, stretching his arms above his tiny body. “Hmm, I wonder if Hi-chan is going to be mad that I skipped class again…”
On a sticky, early summer day of the year 1966, instead of the usual thumping of his migraine, Kageyama could hear the humming of a rambunctious orange-haired boy.
The next day’s rain pushed the humidity in the air onto his skin like glue. It made every step Kageyama took up the horrid hill heavier, as if the very air was trying to pull him into the drainage system along with the rain. He was mentally counting the days until the autumn air made it easy to breathe again.
He wrapped his umbrella, dropped it into the umbrella rack, and slowly shuffled to his shoe locker to change into his school shoes. The hallways were filled with the usual morning buzz, ‘did you watch yesterday’s episode’ and ‘crap, I forgot to do the homework’ ringing in repetition. These mundane conversations were the same in every school he’s transferred to.
“Shou-chan! Are you okay? You have so many bruises.”
When Kageyama walked into the classroom, the blonde girl he had asked for directions yesterday was standing besides Hinata’s desk (which, Kageyama realized in horror, was right behind his own) and showering him with worried questions. Hinata just smiled and repeated over and over that he was fine, his eyes turning to Kageyama when he took his seat.
“No fair!” Hinata exclaimed, catching the attention from those who were in the classroom. “I can’t see anything if you sit in front of me. Switch!”
The classroom burst into laugher with comments like “yeah, Hinata is pretty short” and “just his luck that he got the back seat with that height”. Kageyama glanced around at his amused classmates and gathered that Hinata was pretty well liked—probably the comical nature of his short stature in combination with his loud personality.
Hinata tapped Kageyama on the shoulder. “Come on, let’s switch!”
The blonde girl pulled Hinata’s hand away, intervening with a shaky voice, “Shou-chan, ask Kageyama-kun nicely.”
“Okay, Hi-chan.” Hinata got up from his seat and walked to the side of Kageyama’s, a slight pout on his lips. “Can you please be kind enough as to switch with me?”
Kageyama sighed. “Fine. If it’ll get you to shut up then it’s worth it.” He gathered his books and dictionary and got out of his seat. “You can have it.”
“S-sorry Kageyama-kun. Thank you.” The blonde girl’s lips curved into a tiny smile. “I’m Yachi, by the way. Hinata and I are childhood friends.”
Hinata plopped down in his new spot and turned around, explaining, “We live next to each other! Our parents are close friends.”
“Huh…” Kageyama stuffed his books into his new desk and sat down. He was going to try to continue the conversation like a normal person would, but just as he was going to say his remark, the teacher walked in and ordered everyone to sit down. It was better that way, Kageyama decided. He lacked social skills, had a knack for offending people even if he didn't mean to, and was always too blunt. He figured those were things he had to work on little by little, but he really was in no rush.
Kageyama spent the next few class hours shifting between actually paying attention and watching Hinata doze off and wake up every time the teacher threw a piece of chalk at his forehead. His fluffy orange hair would move slightly as his head slid down from the hand that was cupping his face and then act as a pillow when his head landed on the desk. It was only a momentary bliss, because the teacher would quickly notice, throw the chalk, send the class into fits of laughter, and jerk Hinata from his slumber. Rise and repeat.
It was uneventful, easy, and mundane.
And Kageyama stayed in that peaceful state between slight amusement and indifference until the English teacher called on him to read a passage. He had always hated English and was a stubborn believer that Japanese people should just speak Japanese. So he got up, sighing reflexively, and lifelessly worked his way through the passage.
…For a city boy his accent isn’t that great…
And that was another reason for his dislike of English. People around him always had such stupid expectations. Just because he had lived in the city a few times didn’t mean he was going to start speaking like some American.
He sat back down and in place of the orange bird nest he’d been staring at this whole time were two bright eyes staring at him. They watched him, but not in a way filled with judgment like those of his classmates, but with an edge of curiosity. And after a few seconds of this strange eye contact, Hinata gave him a silly smile and turned back around.
He was so strange…yet he made it easier to breathe. There was something reassuring about him.
“Where you going, Kageyama?”
Kageyama stopped at the doorway of the classroom, moving aside for the flock of students rushing to the cafeteria to nab the best lunch orders. He looked back at Hinata who was jogging up to him, lunchbox also in hand. “Are you going up to the roof?”
Kageyama resumed walking. “Yeah.”
“It’s raining, you know.”
“It’s not like I’m actually going on the roof, dumbass. I was planning to eat on the top landing.”
“Oh. You’re always so spaced out, I thought you hadn’t even noticed it was raining,” Hinata retorted, sticking his tongue out.
“You’re one to talk. Do you even sleep at night?”
“I do most of the time, it’s just that—“ Hinata scuffed his feet and looked down at the floor, “…I had a hard time falling asleep yesterday.”
Kageyama looked away, uncomfortable with the sullen tone the conversation had fallen into. “Is that so…. Anyway, why are you following me?”
“Isn’t it obvious? To eat lunch together, duh.”
Kageyama climbed the stairs two steps at a time. “And why would you even want to eat with me?”
“Because we’re friends!”
“Haah?” Kageyama glanced back. “Since when did we become friends?”
“Since yesterday. You don’t have any friends, anyhow. It’d be nice to have one, right?”
Kageyama reached the landing in front of the roof door and plopped down on a chair, digging his eyes into Hinata with a fixed glare. “I don’t want your pity. I’m fine being alone, so go to your other friends.”
Hinata set a chair across from him with a tiny grin. “I didn’t mean it like that. It’s not pity.” He unwrapped his lunch box and licked his lips. “You’re just more interesting than the other people I could be hanging out with.”
“Something’s wrong with your head, but whatever…”
“So how are you liking it here?” Hinata muffled through a mouthful of rice and pickled plum. “Is that rich uncle of yours nice?”
“…Who knows. I rarely see him, he’s always working.”
“Huh? Do you just take care of yourself?”
Kageyama paused in between sessions of shoveling food into his mouth. “No, his wife cooks. He also has a daughter.”
“Is it fun? You don't look you’re enjoying yourself.”
Kageyama shut his lunch box and sipped the last bit of his milk. “Stop asking so many questions. It’s annoying.”
Hinata pouted. “Well if I didn’t ask, you wouldn’t tell me, right?”
Hinata wrapped his lunchbox again and placed it on the empty chair besides him, a devious smile playing out on his face. “You’re so stiff. You need to loosen up a bit!” Hinata shot his hand out, nabbed Kageyama’s glasses, and ran onto the roof with them. “It’s only drizzling! It feels nice.”
“Give me back my glasses, idiot!” Kageyama hesitated by the door, his vision slightly blurry, but ultimately walked onto the roof and marched towards Hinata. “You’ll break them if you keep playing with them like that.”
“Come get them!” Hinata shouted as he ran away, a laugh lacing every word.
Kageyama chased after Hinata expecting to catch up to those short legs in no time, but the midget was extremely quick on his feet. It took a good five minutes of running around the roof for Kageyama to finally grab him, careful to avoid knocking into the hand that was gripping his glasses. Hinata wriggled like mad in his grip, a contagious laughter bubbling from his chest and filling the air around them. Kageyama started to lose his grip on him, but Hinata settled down when his energy was quite literally dampened by the now-pouring rain. They looked at each other—dripping slicked hair, blood rushing rosy cheeks, white shirts turned translucent from the rain—and shivered, the ghost image of their smiles mixing with their annoyed groans. Hinata returned Kageyama’s glasses and they tottered back inside, picking up their lunch boxes and trailing water all the way to the front of their classroom.
“W-why are you guys soaking wet?!” Yachi squeaked, pushing them away from the classroom before even hearing an answer. “T-the nurse’s office has towels! Go dry off while I get your gym uniforms.”
They slowly waddled to the nurse’s office downstairs and announced themselves as they slid the door open. The room was empty so they walked inside and peeled off their shirts, plopping them over the steel-barred frame of the resting bed to dry. Kageyama took off his glasses to wipe at his hair and face, and then placed the towel around his neck. Hinata paced around the room a few times while drying his torso, occasionally taking a peek at the documents on the desk and fiddling with the nurse’s figurines before sinking into her rolling chair. Kageyama’s slightly blurry gaze followed him—he wish it didn't but realized it was inevitable, Hinata had a kind of magnetism to him—and rested on him now, as if waiting for the ever-moving midget to do something. And he did. He reached across the table for two pencils and started tapping them while humming to himself.
Kageyama’s eyes widened a bit. “…Is that jazz?”
“Huh?” Hinata whipped around. “Do you like jazz too?!”
“Yeah, I play jazz piano. I mostly just like cool jazz and some swing…”
“You would like the more slow and controlled stuff,” Hinata murmured with a smug look on his face. “I play the drums. I’m all about bebop and hard bop; a lot of the other styles of jazz bore me.”
“Maybe if you could sit still for two seconds, you’d appreciate cool jazz a bit more.”
Hinata stood up, eyes sharpening. “Maybe if you weren’t so uptight you could see the fun in Bop.”
“You should stop being so close-minded.”
“The pot calling the kettle black!”
“Cool jazz is ten times better,” Kageyama growled and walked closer.
Hinata stood on his tippy toes. “No, bebop and hard bop are!”
“Don’t fight, you guys!” Yachi pleaded as she walked through the door, voice a bit muffled from the two little bags of gym clothes hiding her face. “You guys should be happy you both like jazz.”
“Who would be happy with that?” Kageyama strode to Yachi and took the bag with his name on it.
Yachi stared at him. “Your face is even more handsome without the glasses.”
Kageyama glanced at Yachi and then back to his bag. “Ah...”
“Really?” Hinata skipped towards them and inspected Kageyama’s face. “You’re right. But he also just looks angrier without the dorky glasses.”
Kageyama shoved Hinata’s face away. “Shut it.”
Yachi covered her eyes with her hands as the boys shamelessly begin to change their pants. “Are those glasses just for show, Kageyama-kun?”
“That would be stupid.” Kageyama pulled his gym shirt over his head. “Though I only really need them when trying to read the board or read music.”
Hinata tugged at the hem of his gym shirt. “Hi-chan, you should invite Kageyama over to your house today so I can show him that Bop is better.”
“Oh yeah!” Yachi clapped. “My family runs a record shop and downstairs we have this neat little studio. It even has an upright piano. You should come with us today!”
“Okay.” It had been a while since he actually played on a piano.
When they returned to the classroom they were assaulted by stares and murmurs. But strangely, Kageyama didn’t feel fazed. This wasn’t just his forced facade of indifference or his usual attempt to convince himself—he actually felt completely calm. And he had this nagging feeling that it wasn’t the rain that caused this ease but instead the beaming ball of energy beside him. There was something about Hinata’s vitality that spread like a shroud to those around him, giving everything a warm orange glow.
There was a slight radiance to Kageyama when his eyes, wide and excited, landed on the deep mahogany upright in the corner of the studio. He scurried to it and, as if in a trance, slowly traced his finger over it for a few moments. The thin, golden engravings, blocky gold pedals, and the smooth finish—it was so damn similar to his dad’s old piano. And that realization mixed with bitter nostalgia and a twinge of resentment in his stomach, taking his initial excitement down a few notches.
“Has it been a while since you played?” Hinata boomed, as if to wake Kageyama from his daydreaming.
Kageyama nodded. “My aunt hates noise. And it’s not like I would want to play anything on her shitty grand piano anyway.” Kageyama skated his fingers on a few of the keys. “It’s just crazy…this upright looks so similar to my old piano.”
“What happened to it?” Yachi chimed in, now standing to the other side of Kageyama.
“My dad gave it away when he shipped me over here.”
Hinata strolled over to the shiny red drums a few feet away from the piano and sat down. “Are you guys close? “
“As close as a son can be with a dad who’s never around…” Kageyama huffed. “But…I guess so. He taught me how to play.”
“What about your mom?”
Kageyama tensed up and gnawed on his bottom lip, unresponsive.
Yachi glanced at him and loudly clapped her hands. “Well, what is the first thing you guys are going to play?”
“Huh? Oh, bebop of course! Let’s start Groovin’ High !”
Hinata started banging on the drums as if he had the room to himself, making contact with the cymbal more times that he did the actual drums. The ringing echoed in the small room; it was aggressive and lacked any of the sensitivity of the cool jazz Kageyama was used to. But it was alive . Hinata’s enjoyment, that enchanting smile spreading across his face as he put every inch of his body into the music, captured Kageyama’s ears and eyes. He couldn’t stop looking at him. His fingers were itching to join him.
“I’ve heard this piece before,” he mumbled and sat down on the piano seat. He squeezed his eyes shut so he could listen more carefully. Then he leaped into the music, playing quietly as his fingers warmed up to the keys, ramping up to the piano part of the piece. There were a few stumbles and some necessary improvisation when he couldn’t remember what came next, yet his and Hinata’s sounds melded perfectly together. But it was something far from a passive cohesion—they challenged each other, Hinata charging forward with a chaotic, surging energy and Kageyama gracefully pulling him back with controlled, playful notes. And they didn’t stop at the end of the piece. Hinata dragged them into Salted Peanuts , another upbeat Gillespie song that even Kageyama had heard enough to know by heart, and the midget drew a few snorts and laughs from the rest of them with his attempts at singing. Kageyama couldn’t remember the last time playing felt this electrifying; his heartbeat was pounding in his ears and he was moving so fast through the notes that he was sweating. That anxiety and restlessness—he didn’t like bop before because he was always playing it alone. But now that was different.
“Gah, it’s hot!” Hinata lay down with his back to the floor and wiped some sweat from his forehead with his shirt. “The floor feels so good!”
Kageyama lay down next to him and stared at the weakly rotating ceiling fan. “We just played through five pieces straight.”
Hinata chuckled and turned on his side to face Kageyama. “You got really into it, didn’t you?”
“No I didn’t,” Kageyama grumbled and met Hinata’s eyes. “I was just trying to keep up with your maniac playing.”
“Liar.” Hinata stuck his tongue out. “You just suck at being truthful.”
“What about you? That last piece was cool jazz and it seemed like you enjoyed it.”
“Well, it was a good cool down…I guess in that context I like it well enough.”
“I brought barley tea!” Yachi announced as she walked down the stairs.
The two boys shot up from the floor, rushing to grab the ice cold drinks, and eagerly downing them in two gulps. They let out relieved sighs, vitality restored, and set the glasses back on the silver tray. The three of them made plans to go home together from now on and Kageyama gathered his things, explaining that his aunt would start nagging if he got home too late. He climbed the stairs and slightly bowed his head at Yachi’s father who was manning the register. As he walked home, the music from their session played in his head and made his body leap with every step.
Kageyama shaded his eyes from the beaming sunlight. “…I thought you guys said we were going to the library to do our summer homework?”
Yachi grinned. “Well, that was the plan. But you guys are always cooped up in the studio so Shou-chan and I thought it’d be better to enjoy such nice weather at the beach.”
“Also anything is better than doing summer homework.” Hinata grinned.
“So basically you just want to procrastinate?” Kageyama shrugged. “It’s not like I love school work either.”
“This is only for today,” Yachi said sternly. “We will work on our summer homework tomorrow.”
Hinata groaned. “Hi-chan, you’re always so serious about school work. But fine, let’s just try to get a boat and have fun today!”
Kageyama and Yachi went to the dock to borrow a boat while Hinata ran off the to the little stand a few feet away to get them some ice pops. After a little, he joined the rest of them on the boat, shoving the two strawberry flavored pops into Kageyama and Yachi’s mouths and picking up the oar. Kageyama mumbled around his popsicle that Hinata would probably get tired with that tiny frame of his. He offered to do it instead, but Hinata insisted that he had boundless energy. And truthfully, Kageyama couldn’t argue with that.
“Hey Kageyama, I’m hot. Give me a bite of your ice pop,” Hinata whined. His cheeks were a bit red from the sun and the exertion.
“You were the one so gung-ho about rowing, weren’t you?”
“Come on! Pretty please.”
“Fine,” Kageyama mumbled and moved over to Hinata so he could take a bite.
Hinata offered a quick smile before he sunk his teeth into a corner of the ice pop and licked his lips as he moved away. His lips, now tinted a glossy red, matched the shade of his cheeks, the top of his ears, and even the surface of his exposed shoulders.
Yachi giggled. “You guys have become so close.”
Was this considered close? Kageyama hadn’t made a close friend in quite a while, so he couldn’t really remember what it felt like. He had a general understanding of it—close friends spent a lot of time together and shared everything from advice to food—and yes, he could see that in the last few months he and Hinata had worked up to that…so was that the reason he was so aware of him? Kageyama shook his head and returned to his seat on the boat, nibbling on his ice pop as he stared at the blurry after-images of the fish in the water.
Hinata rowed the boat towards a tiny island, clumsily but safely making it past rocky waters near the bank. Kageyama helped Hinata lift the boat onto the bank so it didn't float away and then followed him and Yachi further into the tiny island. It seemed this whole event was a yearly activity, so Hinata walked with confidence, eagerly leading them up a slope of a rock that jutted out to provide a perfect spot to dive into the water. Once they reached the top, he immediately stepped out of his sandals and started stripping down to his boxers.
“Swimming! Swimming!” Hinata cheered and turned back to the others. “Come on! Strip.”
Kageyama stared at Hinata’s plaid boxers. “So you are saying we should swim in our underwear?”
“W-well…” Yachi took off her dress to reveal a floral one-piece. “Shou-chan always does this, so if you are worried about me, it’s okay.”
“Yeah, Kageyama! Don’t be shy.” Hinata jogged over to Kageyama and tugged at the waist of his pants. “I bet you have embarrassing underwear on!”
Kageyama shoved Hinata’s face away, “I don't, dumbass.” He threw off his shirt and pants and pointed to his black boxers, “They are perfectly normal.”
“Boo, boring.” Hinata walked to the edge. “Come on slow pokes! This is the end of summer, so we have to enjoy every minute of it!”
Yachi laughed and pushed Kageyama to one side of Hinata while she took the other. To Kageyama’s surprise, Hinata took both his and Yachi’s hands so that they could all jump together. Hinata’s hand was a small, rough, warm spot at the center of his palm, a kind of warmth that wasn’t uncomfortable even in this heat. It was pleasant. So pleasant that he only caught the last number in Hinata’s countdown and got the wind knocked out of him in the dive down to the water. When he came up for air, choking from the haphazard dive, Hinata was bubbling with contagious laughter at his expense. And of course Kageyama splashed him in the face, hard, acting in his usual sulky manner, yet all the while he couldn’t shake the warmth still tingling in his hand even in the cold water.
They jumped countless times. It varied—half the time Kageyama would team up with either Yachi or Hinata to throw the other off the edge, one time Hinata and Yachi worked together to push Kageyama off, but what happened most often was that peaceful, hand-in-hand dive they did at the beginning. By the time they had grown tired of diving, splashing, chasing, and swimming around each other, Kageyama’s palm had memorized the shape of Hinata’s hand.
The sleepy Hinata left Kageyama in charge of rowing this time around and took a nap next to Yachi for the duration of the boat ride back. Once they docked, they slowly made their way through the beach with the intention of going to the bus stop, but up ahead of them they spot two guys hassling a woman. Her white, wide-brim hat flew away in the wind and Yachi caught it, holding it to her chest while she shot Hinata and Kageyama a look. They both nodded and march towards the group ahead of them.
Hinata cleared his throat. “Hey guys. She isn’t interested.”
One of the guys turned around and laughed. “Where’s your mother? Are you lost?”
Kageyama stepped closer to Hinata. “You guys should stop harassing her and just go.”
The men looked at each other, clicking their tongues. “Whatever. This isn’t worth the effort.” They stormed off.
The woman turned to them and adjusted her pink glasses. “Thank you for coming to my rescue.”
But they were too awed to respond. Shoulder length, silky black hair and dark eyes, darker against her white dress: the woman was the epitome what all their grandmas would call a ‘Japanese beauty’.
Yachi was the first to break their daze. “U-uh…t-this is yours.” She walked up to the woman, face glowing a deep shade of red, and passed her the white hat. Her eyes swam up to the woman’s face and lingered, tracing, searching, until they finally reached her eyes. The two shared eye contact for a few moments—moments long enough for Kageyama to realize something.
The look in Yachi’s eyes felt familiar. A stare laced with so much curiosity and eagerness that it emanated into the space around them. It was a stare with a kind of tenderness to it.
He couldn’t place his finger on it. But when he looked away from Yachi and found himself staring straight into Hinata’s eyes, it all clicked.
“Sorry, I have art club today, so you guys can go ahead to the studio. I’ll see you later.” Yachi waved and disappeared into the crowd of students in the hallway.
Kageyama and Hinata had been spending a lot of time alone recently. It felt a bit odd, since they had gotten used to being a trio and Yachi was a great mediator. But she had taken on more responsibility in her art club because she was gunning to be president next year, and she also spent a lot of time with the beauty from the beach, who turned out to be a third-year at their school. Truthfully, it was a bit lonely; especially for Hinata, who had been attached to Yachi’s hip since he was a kid. But, whether for better or for worse, Hinata’s newfound loneliness made him stick to Kageyama like glue and Kageyama had gained enough self-awareness to call his clinginess cute, if only in his head.
Hinata adjusted his battered cap. “Ready to go?”
Kageyama wrapped a blue scarf around his neck. “Yeah.”
Although the days were pretty tame for mid-December, it was still cold enough to make Kageyama consider wearing a sweater under his school jacket. At first glance Hinata seemed to be perfectly comfortable with the cold, since he had no scarf and refused to button his jacket, but the way he always had his hands stuffed into his pockets and how close he walked to Kageyama, made it apparent that he was just bearing the cold.
“You’re being stupid,” Kageyama muttered.
“Why are you being rude out of nowhere?” Hinata sniffled. “How am I being stupid?”
“If you’re cold, you should button up your jacket and bring a scarf, or something.”
Hinata kicked a rock by his foot. “I’m fine.”
Kageyama sighed and took off his scarf, wrapping it around Hinata’s neck. “Here, stop being so stubborn.”
Hinata started to take it off. “I don't want—”
“I’ll punch you if you take it off.”
Hinata raised an eyebrow. “You wouldn’t.”
Kageyama met Hinata’s eyes. “I would.”
“Fine,” Hinata muffled into the sweater, looking away to hide the obvious blush on his cheeks. “If you’re going to be that pushy I’ll just let you freeze then.” Hinata started running down the hill, calling, “Race you to the shop!”
“Ugh, come back here,” Kageyama yelled while chasing after him. “I need you to stand next to me, dumbass!”
By the time Yachi’s cheerful voice rang from the top of the steps to the studio, Hinata and Kageyama had played through every bebop, hard bop, and cool jazz song they knew from the top of their heads and were now attempting to piece together something that resembled swing. Kageyama turned around to ask Yachi if she had any song requests but stopped himself, noticing someone unfamiliar behind her.
“This is Yamaguchi.” Yachi signaled to a tall, freckled kid next to her. “He’s the president of the art club, and he really likes jazz so I invited him over.”
The guy gave Hinata and Kageyama a nervous smile and nod. He had shoulder length, dark mossy brown hair gathered in a half-up half-down hairdo and a quiet, gentle aura. Yachi lead him to the corner of the studio to sit down and he did so without muttering a word. Yamaguchi was a bit shy, but he carried himself in a way that made his good upbringing obvious.
“Any requests Yamaguchi-senpai?” Hinata boomed.
“Um…” Yamaguchi mumbled, “I really like Chet Baker. Do you guys know But Not For Me ?”
“Of course we do! Let’s hit—”
“So you finally found yourself some friends, shorty.”
The whole room looked to the man standing midway down the stairs. He had short blonde hair, black, thick-framed glasses, and a mocking grin on his face. He sauntered down the stairs, carrying what seemed to be a trumpet case, and approached Hinata.
“You’re really just as tiny as ever.”
Hinata stood up, pouting. “I’ve grown since the last time I saw you, Kei-nii! You’re still a lamppost though. Do you ever stop growing?!”
Yachi rushed over to the man. “Kei! It’s been such a long time since we last saw you and the first thing you do is pick a fight with Shou-chan.”
“I’m just saying the truth.”
Yachi turned to the rest of the room, “This is my cousin, Tsukishima Kei. He goes to N University in the town over.” She then pointed at Kageyama. “Kei that is Kageyama Tobio in our grade,” then at Yamaguchi, “And that is my senior from art club, Yamaguchi Tadashi.”
Tsukishima nodded, eyes glancing at Yamaguchi for a quick second before he turned his attention back to Hinata. “What were you guys playing?”
“We were about to start But Not For Me. You should play with us!”
“So you finally worked on your limited palate of jazz,” Tsukishima sneered as he took out his trumpet from his case. “And just as long as we go at my pace. You’re always too hot-blooded.”
Hinata picked up his drum brush. “Yeah, yeah. Start us off.”
Tsukishima put the trumpet to his lips and hit a few warm up notes before starting the piece. His sound was smooth and classy, and kept your attention without trying too hard. It seemed so completely effortless. Kageyama and Hinata fell in, trying to match that poised sound without losing their own liveliness, or losing out to Tsukishima’s air of indifference. But no matter how hard they tried to compete, this piece was made for a leading trumpet, and Tsukishima won with ease. And when Kageyama thought he and Hinata could finally take over since the trumpet was supposed to drop out of the song, it turned out Tsukishima knew the words. His voice was low and unassuming, with enough range to hit most of Chet Baker’s notes in a pleasant enough way. Kageyama clicked his tongue—the guy was good with minimal effort and had completely captured the attention of their audience, especially Yamaguchi who looked so enchanted you would think the actual Chet Baker was standing in front of him.
Yachi clapped at the end of the piece. “Wow, Kei! You’re amazing as always. Right, Yamaguchi?”
Yamaguchi nodded, his cheeks the faintest of pinks. “Y-Yeah…you were great.”
Tsukishima shrugged. “These guys are easy to outshine.” He set his trumpet back in its case. “I should get going.”
“Wait a minute,” Yachi’s father said as he walked down the stairs, “I called you over because I have a proposition for you and these two boys.”
“A proposition?” Hinata echoed.
Yachi’s father displayed the envelope in his hand. “A good friend of mine asked me to play at his bar for a Christmas party. The bar is popular among American troops from the nearby base so if we’re going to do this, we have to be good. What do you guys say?”
“Yes!” Hinata and Kageyama said in unison, eyes shining with anticipation.
“That sounds like a lot of work,” Tsukishima muttered.
Yachi’s father patted Tsukishima on the back. “Come on, Kei. Do me the favor. I don’t know any other trumpet players.”
“Fine,” Tsukishima sighed. “I’ll pass by more often so we can get practice. I hope you haven’t lost your touch on the bass, uncle.”
“Of course not.”
Tsukishima picked up his trumpet, called “See ya,” and left as swiftly as he came in.
The following two weeks flew by. They spent most of it choosing the songs they were going to play and cramming in as many jam sessions as they could. They had a few late nights that resulted in Kageyama calling his aunt to tell her he would be staying at Hinata’s house. And every time he did he’d get a complaint from the other side of line that he never actually paid attention to, because he was too busy thinking about how comfortable sleeping next to Hinata felt, or the way Hinata’s fluffy hair tickled his skin when he snuggled too close in his sleep.
For the most part the band was cohesive, but there were times that Tsukishima would comment on Kageyama’s stiff adlibs and Kageyama would spit back that Tsukishima’s trumpet lacked life during their bebop songs. And if it wasn’t Tsukishima and Kageyama arguing, it was usually Tsukishima telling Hinata to stop rushing ahead of the rest of the band. But all in all, by the night of the party, they had a solid performance ready.
Kageyama took off his jacket and adjusted his black tie, “This place is smaller than I expected.”
The bar had a small stage near the front, an elaborately decorated tree by the bar counter, and few tables covered in red tablecloth scattered around. Pale, red icicle lights hung across the ceiling, giving the room a cozy atmosphere.
Hinata followed Yachi’s father onto the stage and set his coat behind his drums. “Where’s Tsukishima?”
“He went to go get some things,” Yachi’s father stated as he took out his bass from its case. “Start setting up. The party is going to start soon.”
Yachi came rushing through the door with cheeks rosy from the cold, “Shou-chan, you dummy. Your forgot your drum sticks and brush!” She walked over the Hinata and passed the items to him. “Good thing I checked the studio before coming over.”
Kageyama looked over at Yachi. “I thought Yamaguchi was giving you a ride? What happened to him?”
“The young master is right here,” Tsukishima answered as he held the door for Yamaguchi who was smiling nervously and waving at everyone in the room. Yamaguchi walked over to Yachi, again glancing at Tsukishima when he got to her side.
Kageyama shook his head—based on what he had noticed recently it would seem as if cupid was starting up his workload two months early. He wondered if cupid saved an arrow for his sake.
The room was filling up with customers. Tsukishima set his coat to the side, took out his trumpet, and passed the microphone to Yachi’s father. The older man cleared his throat and walked to the front of the stage, “Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the Yachi Quartet. Please enjoy.”
He turned around to face them and whispered, “Just do it like we did in practice.”
They started the night with the steady, medium-paced Bag’s Groove to get the audience’s feet tapping. Once the audience was all warmed up they moved to Blowin’ the Blues Away to heat things up a bit. This was where the competition for attention really started. Hinata’s drums were booming, but neither Kageyama nor Tsukishima would let him get an easy win; they played tug-of-war with the melodies, giving the song that extra edge of swing that got all their hearts racing. And that set the tone for the rest of the night. The band kept hitting each song with their all, Hinata leading the way with his boundless energy and Tsukishima and Kageyama being pulled along because of their hatred of losing, and of course Yachi’s father keeping them all anchored with his bass. The room was roaring with laughter and the crowd was dancing, and if that wasn’t invigorating enough, whenever Kageyama looked over at Hinata he was absolutely glowing, sporting a smile so wide Kageyama’s own cheeks hurt from just looking at it. The sight made Kageyama’s heart grow full, but he didn’t feel weighed down by the feeling. Instead he felt like he could take off and soar at any moment.
They finished Moanin’ with a room full of applause, and, now that the night was wrapping up, moved to their last two slow pieces. Tsukishima once again captured the audience with his pleasant rendition of But Not for Me , and they smoothly transitioned into their last song, Someday My Prince Will Come . It was a song of yearning and hope that brought the audience back into their seats, and voiced the hidden wishes of many of those in the room.
“I’m going to go visit Kiyoko-san at the café she works!” Yachi waved as she rushed out of the bar. “Good night!”
Kageyama picked up his jacket and joined the rest of their group by the door. Now that the party was over, the bar was pretty much empty aside from a few men getting drinks with Yachi’s father. Tsukishima walked towards the group waiting by the door, hands stuffed in his camel coat pockets, and face in what seemed to be a satisfied expression.
“Uncle says that he’ll be staying for a while, so we should go ahead.”
“Uh,” Hinata intercepted while scratching the back of his head, “Kageyama and I were planning on going somewhere after this.”
“Huh?” Kageyama blurted out. He didn’t remember them ever planning something…but this worked in his favor.
“So you should ask Yamaguchi-senpai to give you a ride back.” Hinata turned to Yamaguchi who was standing awkwardly a few inches away from them. “Is that okay?”
Yamaguchi nodded, “Yeah.”
Tsukishima shrugged, “Whatever. I’ll take you up on the offer, young master. Let’s go.”
After separating from the other two, Kageyama and Hinata walked in silence for a little while. Hinata was somewhat restless, and even though Kageyama was obviously staring down at him, the shorter boy looked everywhere but at him. Instead he scuffed his shoes as he walked and played with something in his pocket.
Kageyama sighed and looked around. “Where are we walking?”
“Oh.” Hinata looked up, “I actually have no idea.”
“Haah? Then why did you tell Tsukishima we had something planned then?” Kageyama retorted.
“Well!” Hinata looked at the floor, voice dropping. “Because I have something I want to give you.”
“Oh.” Kageyama’s head started to churn out a million possible scenarios. “Okay. Look, there’s a little park up ahead. Let’s sit on that bench or something.”
“Yeah, that sounds good.”
They walked into the empty park and sat close enough on the bench that their knees touched. Kageyama stared out into the street they had just come from and took a few breaths to calm his erratic heart. Then looked down at Hinata again. To his surprise, Hinata was looking at him.
“I have a present for you,” Hinata stated. “But I’m poor, so don’t expect too much.”
Kageyama nodded, cheeks growing a bit warmer. “I’m fine with anything.”
“Okay!” Hinata whispered, as if he was encouraging himself, and pulled a small, flat box from his pocket. “Here you go. Natsu taught me how to make it.”
Kageyama took off the top of the box and pulled out a dark-and-light-blue knitted bracelet from inside, “…This is the first time I’ve gotten a present like this.”
Hinata chewed on his bottom lip. “Do you like it?”
Kageyama nodded. “Yeah. Can you put it on?”
Hinata grabbed the bracelet and held it against Kageyama’s extended left wrist, face close to the spot so he could see more clearly. Kageyama could feel Hinata’s warm breath on his skin and the way his fingers were trembling from the cold…or nerves. Kageyama was still trying to decide if he was deluding himself or if he could actually put his chips on his gut feeling.
He cleared his throat when Hinata was done, reaching for a long box in his inner pocket. “…I actually also got you something. I never buy gifts, so you better be happy.”
Hinata’s face lit up. “I will be.”
“Don’t say that without even opening the present.” Kageyama muttered and watched Hinata’s reaction.
Hinata excitedly opened the box. His face went from its usual cheerfulness to something different, more earnest, and moving, and…beautiful than any expression he’d had ever seen on Hinata’s face. “This is amazing.” Hinata traced the shape of the brand new drumsticks with childlike fascination.
Kageyama looked off to the side. “Truthfully, it was Yachi who gave me the idea. So she deserves half the credit.”
Hinata chuckled and grabbed Kageyama’s hand, intertwining their fingers, “…I think I like you, Kageyama. Are you grossed out?”
Kageyama could feel his ears burning up. “Why would I let you hold my hand if I felt grossed out, dumbass.”
“Your ears look like tomatoes, you know.” Hinata snickered.
Kageyama met his eyes, “T-they’re probably not as red as your cheeks right now. Even in this shitty lighting I can see how much you’re blushing.”
Hinata grinned. “You’re stuttering a bit there. Are you feeling embarrassed?”
“I am,” Kageyama huffed. “I mean…don’t you think we’re weird?”
“We are…” Hinata rested his head on Kageyama’s shoulder. “But I’m okay with that as long as you are.”
Kageyama sighed. “I am. It’s just confusing.”
“I’ve decided to just ride the wave.”
“That’s your ideology with everything, idiot.”
“It worked, didn’t it?”
Kageyama squeezed Hinata’s hand. “…I’m going to ask you a strange question.”
“The first time we met, when I found you sleeping in front of the rooftop doors, you held my hand and said ‘don’t go, mom’. That’s been in the back of my mind ever since. What was that about?”
Hinata took a deep breath, “…Didn’t you notice? Natsu and I look very different from our parents and the rest of our siblings.”
“Oh…now that you mention it, you do.”
“That’s because we aren’t my parents real children.”
Hinata’s voice was starting to get a bit shaky so Kageyama rubbed the back of his hand with his thumb. “You guys are adopted?”
“Yeah. My actual mother lived with an American soldier from a nearby base for a few years and had both my little sister and me. But when my dad had to return to America, they abandoned us at our grandmother’s house.” Hinata forced a laugh, “But my grandmother hated the foreign blood in us so much, my uncle and his wife took us in soon after.”
Kageyama sighed and bent down to place a soft kiss on Hinata’s forehead. “I’m in a similar boat.”
Hinata looked up. “You are?”
“My mom left my dad and I when I was very small. I don't remember what she looks like. And now that my dad is barely around, I feel like I’ve lost a place to belong.” Kageyama ruffled Hinata’s hair with his free hand. “Well, that was before you barged into my life.”
“Hey!” Hinata laughed. “Don’t make me sound so rude.”
“You are, though.”
“Well, you are worse!”
Hinata mimicked Kageyama’s voice, “I am a hypocrite.”
Kageyama flicked Hinata on the forehead. “Your impersonation sucks.”
“Ow!” Hinata let go of Kageyama’s hand to rub the spot. “That hurt, Bakageyama!”
Kageyama bit back a grin and stood up. “Come on, we should head home. It’s getting late.”
Hinata walked a few steps ahead of Kageyama and turned around, holding out his hand. “Can we hold hands on our way home?”
“Only when we are on empty roads.”
“Cheap,” Hinata muttered.
Hinata reached up to put an index finger to Kageyama’s eyebrow. “You’re furrowing them. Are you angry about something?”
Hinata laying his head on Kageyama’s lap had now become commonplace. They usually only became this intimate in the comfort of their own rooms, where no one could see them and point out how strange they were acting, but the March winds were warming up just enough to allow them to hide in their own little corner of the roof as well. After eating, Kageyama would lie back against the fence of the roof, legs extended in front of him, and Hinata would gleefully lay his head on Kageyama’s legs. Sometimes they would talk about class, a TV show, or any new jazz songs that had come out, but mostly they spent the blissful time in silence. Kageyama always carded his hand through Hinata’s fluffy bird’s nest, especially loving the moment when Hinata’s body would relax and sink further into his lap. They’d absentmindedly stare at each other, visually tracing each other’s features, and when realization finally hit them they would make silly faces at each other, looking away with red stained cheeks.
“I’m not angry…”
“Then what is it?” Hinata pressed on.
Kageyama sighed and reached into his back pocket, “My dad returned a few days ago, and he told me this letter came from my old housekeeper. It turns out she ran into my mother while visiting family in a town near here. My dad had lost contact with my mom since she left us, but he called the number in the letter and talked things over with her. He said I should visit after school today since it’s the weekend and maybe even stay the night.”
“What?! That's so lucky!” Hinata squeezed Kageyama’s cheek. “So why are you so grouchy?”
“Because it’s weird to meet up with her after all these years.”
“Yeah sure, it’ll be awkward…especially because you are super awkward.” Hinata smirked.
“I am n—”
“You are. Just accept it. It’s one of your charms.”
“Don’t be a coward. Just march up to her, scream ‘Mom, I love you’, and it will all be fine.”
“Come with me.”
“Huh? You know that’s impossible,” Hinata mumbled. “I can’t afford a ticket.”
Kageyama reached into the envelope and pulled out two tickets. “I asked my dad to get tickets for me and a friend. He also gave me enough money to buy food and two return tickets.”
Hinata grinned. “Your dad is awesome.”
“We’ll go right after school ends.”
“What about a change of clothes? Don’t we need anything?”
“It’s fine. I don’t think we’ll be staying the night.”
“Are you nervous?”
Kageyama twirled a tuft of hair around his index finger. “Yeah.”
“It’ll work out! I promise.”
The two of them spent the hour train ride napping. At the beginning of the ride, Kageyama had stared at the scenery zooming past them while Hinata leaned on his shoulder, their hands interlaced, but the way Hinata’s finger rubbed the back of his hand made him sleepy. They woke up to the conductor’s shrill announcement of the town name and scrambled to get out before the doors closed again. On their way out of the station, Kageyama pulled out the letter with the address on it and asked one of the station managers to point them in the right direction. The manager mentioned it wasn’t too far of a walk, just about 15 to 20 minutes.
This town was just like their own town. It had its useful station, places to buy food every few kilometers, a few music shops, the occasional boutique, and all the little quirks that make a quaint town—it was that weird mix of suburban and urban, something that never quite kept you busy but also didn’t completely bore you. Ten minutes into their walk, it started drizzling so they sped up their pace, hoping that their final destination could shelter them from the coming rain. They had to ask a few more people to point them in the right direction, but they found the address soon enough, though they had to triple check that it was the right one since it would mean his mother worked in a hostess club.
“Country of Dreams…?” Hinata stared at the sign. “What an unexpected workplace.”
Kageyama looked around. “Yeah. Let’s just wait here. My dad told her we would be meeting her at her job today, so she will probably meet us after her shift or something.”
Hinata leaned against the far wall of the business, next to Kageyama. “Do you remember what she looks like?”
“No, really.” Kageyama took off his wet glasses and put them into his shirt pocket. “We only have an old photo.”
“What’s her name?”
Kageyama ran his hand through his hair since the rain was making it interfere with his vision. “Her family name was Miyamoto before she married my dad. Miyamoto Haruka.”
“What a pretty name.” Hinata looked down at his shirt. “The rain is getting heavy.”
Kageyama reached into his bag and took out his gym jersey. He pulled Hinata closer and draped it above both of them. “You better not get a cold.”
“I haven’t gotten a cold since elementary school!”
Kageyama smirked. “They do say idiots don't catch colds.”
“Hey!” Hinata elbowed him in the side. “Then that means you also haven’t had a cold, since you’re as much of an idiot as I am.”
“You’re more of an idiot.”
“Prove it! I bet I got a better English grade than you. You suck at that subject.”
“Japanese people are meant to speak Jap—”
“Tobio?” A woman with a neck-length black hair and a bright red umbrella approached them. “…are you Tobio?”
Kageyama froze. “Y-yeah.”
“You idiot!” she yelled and passed Kageyama her umbrella. “You shouldn’t be standing out here in this pouring rain. Hurry up and follow me!”
They ran to a diner a few doors down and Kageyama’s mom asked for three of her usual meal, as well as a few towels so they could dry off. She had an air of authority and was quite a looker, the light blue matching jacket and skirt amplifying her beauty even more. After drying off, they settled into a booth in the back of the diner. Kageyama sat across his mother, keeping his eyes on the curry rice set in front of him. Hinata sat next to him, possibly getting whiplash because he kept staring at Kageyama’s face and then his mother’s. It was very obvious Kageyama got most of his looks from his mother—the silky black hair and deep blue eyes were proof of that.
“You can start eating.” Miyamoto encouraged, her voice was husky and warm. “I’m sure you’re hungry.”
“Thank you for treating me, Miyamoto-san,” Hinata said as he brought a spoonful of rice and curry to his mouth.
“My pleasure. What’s your name?”
“What a cute name.” She smiled and turned her attention to Kageyama, who was silently eating. “Is he a friend from school?”
“Yeah. We play jazz together.” Kageyama took a sip of water. “He’s a drummer and I play piano.”
“Oh, you play the piano! Your dad must have taught you, then. You used to love hearing your dad play when you were a baby,” Miyamoto exclaimed. Voice growing a little softer, she added, “That was the happiest time of my life.”
“…I didn’t know that.” Kageyama set his spoon down and made eye contact with Miyamoto, “Dad has never talked about what happened.”
“Oh.” Miyamoto pushed around her food with her spoon. “So he’s never talked about me?”
“No.” Kageyama sighed. “…Mom, why did you leave? Did you hate us?”
“No!” Miyamoto’s voice jumped, “It’s not—”
“Then why didn’t you get in touch? At least write a stupid letter!” Kageyama yelled, his voice cracking near the end.
“I can’t!” Miyamoto huffed, voice shaky. “...I can’t read nor write. And I also felt like I was in no position to try to contact you.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“I come from a very poor farming family. In order for your grandparents to allow us to get married, your dad and I hid my upbringing because it would be shameful for the Kageyama name. Everything was blissful at first…but then a maid spread the truth about my upbringing, right around the time your dad started working on the ships. I was left alone with just you in a house that hated me. Everyone, including your grandmother, told me to leave countless times and when I tried to tell your father about it, he said it was our fault for hiding the truth.”
“So you left?”
Miyamoto nodded. “But initially I took you with me. I got as far as the station until your grandfather, who loved you dearly, tracked me down and took you from me. I chased his car all the way back to the house and that’s when I realized…I had nothing to offer you. I knew you would live a tough life since my only skill was field laboring. I couldn’t have that happen. I wanted the best future for you, even if I wasn’t in it.”
Kageyama reached under the table in search for Hinata’s hand and took a deep breath once he found it. “Now that I understand what happened, we can start over.”
“You’ll forgive me?”
“It was never about forgiving you or not…I just didn’t know anything. I was confused all these years.”
Miyamoto nodded. “Will you fill me in on all the years I missed?”
“Just as long as you tell me things about your life.”
Miyamoto laughed, in an airy and cheerful manner that felt much like spring. “Deal.”
They talked way past their sodas getting watery from the melted ice, the store owners occasionally looking over at them with interest, wondering what they were still doing there. To appease them somewhat, Miyamoto order a coffee and some dessert, but they continued talking even past the time the polite gesture allowed them. They went through important events chronologically, and though Kageyama usually hated talking nonstop, his mother had a charm that drew the words out with ease. It turned out his mother had been working at the hostess club for quite a few years and now helped manage it.
By the time they ran out of things to say it was dark outside and Hinata had dozed off on Kageyama’s shoulder, a bit of drool pooling at the corner of his lips. Kageyama shook him awake and they gathered their things, following Miyamoto back to her apartment since they had missed the last train. She lived in a cozy studio with a bedroom, bathroom, and a kitchen that connected to the living room. It was stylishly decorated, keeping to a white, black, and red color palette, and gave off the faint smell of Miyamoto’s perfume. The three of them pushed the furniture in the living room out of the way to make space for the guest futon. She apologized for only having one but Kageyama and Hinata insisted it was totally fine. Surely, if she had noted the way each of the boy’s cheeks grew a shade redder and the somewhat excited edge to their voice she would have realized it was more than fine.
“Your mom is super pretty and nice,” Hinata whispered as he and Kageyama lay under the light covers, faces just a few centimeters away from each other.
“She is,” Kageyama admitted.
Hinata patted around the futon until he found Kageyama’s hand and slotted his fingers between Kageyama’s comfortably. “Aren’t you happy I convinced you to come?”
“Yeah.” Kageyama squeezed Hinata’s hand, eyes locked with his. “And thanks for coming.”
“It was fun.” Hinata said with a wide smile, the white of his teeth glowing in the dark.
“Hey, Hinata…” Kageyama started, his thumb rubbing the back of Hinata’s hand nervously. “Can I kiss you?”
Hinata’s eyes widened just slightly and he nodded, moving his face just forward enough so that their noses touched. “You don't even need to ask, dummy.”
Kageyama closed the distance slowly, as if he was using his lips to feel through the hot air between them until finally, his lips rested on Hinata’s. He didn’t have his eyes closed. He feared that in this darkness he would have missed Hinata’s lips, and he was almost glad he was staring so hard at Hinata’s face because when their lips met, he could almost see the nervous furrow of Hinata’s eyebrows dissolve. The kiss could barely count as a kiss at first—their lips, just slightly wet from the quick swipe of the tongue they each did when closing the distance, faintly grazed each other, softly, ghost-light. Their lips moved together while pressing against each other, the inexperience and clumsiness being lost in the fondness of it all. Hinata started laughing in the middle of it and Kageyama withdrew his lips with a sigh, kissing Hinata’s cheeks and eyelids while grumbling.
“You just ruined the mood, dumbass.”
Hinata hummed. “I couldn’t hold it back. We’re really awkward.”
“Speak for yourself.” Kageyama shifted his body a bit up on the bed and brought Hinata into an embrace, resting his chin on top of Hinata’s fluffy head. “I’m sleepy.”
Hinata nuzzled closer to Kageyama, bringing their interlocked hands up towards their chests. “You should be. It’s been a long day and we’re getting up early tomorrow to catch the train. Nighty night.”
“I like you…a lot.”
Kageyama cleared his throat and let out a breath while whispering, “I like you more.”
Flower petals blew around them, landing on every surface and head that they pleased. The warm, sun-kissed air was filled with the chattering voices of students standing in front of the class assignment board. Kageyama and Yachi shuffled a bit in front of the board, Yachi politely expressing happiness over being in the same class again, and then they walked over to tree nearby where Hinata was squatting down with his cheeks puffed out.
“It’s not fair,” he whined, eyes glued to his dirty white canvas shoes.
Kageyama bent down in front of him and rustled the accumulated petals from his hair. “It’s not that big of a deal. I’ll just go pick you up for lunch.”
“You don't get it,” Hinata muttered.
Yachi bent down besides Kageyama and patted Hinata’s shoulder. “It’s the first time Shou-chan is in a different class from his friends, right? But you’ll be okay, Shou-chan. I’m sure everyone will love you and we can still have lunch together.”
“Hi-chan, you’re only saying that now that you can’t spend every moment with Kiyoko-san. Plus you’ll still be busy with the art club because Yama-chan also graduated.”
Kageyama flicked Hinata on the forehead. “Stop lashing out because you’re sulking.”
Yachi pouted. “I couldn’t help spending so much time with Shimizu-san. Those were her last few months in school. Also, you guys are so lovey-dovey I’ve been wanting to give you space.”
“We are not lovey-dovey,” Kageyama choked out, looking off to the distance.
Hinata sighed and looked up at Yachi. “You’re right, Hi-chan. Sorry for lashing out…it’s just annoying.”
Yachi stood up and reached a hand out to Hinata. “It’s fine, I understand. I promise to hang around you guys more.”
Kageyama held Hinata’s other hand, “Yeah, stop being so dramatic, dumbass. Our classes are right next to each other.”
Hinata let them pull him up and stuck out his tongue. “You say that now but you’re going to be lonely.”
“I will not.”
Hinata chuckled. “Yes you will. But I’ll let you deny it.” Hinata turned to Yachi. “Anyway, you never stop talking about Kiyoko so I know how she’s doing, but have you heard back from Yama-chan? I haven’t seen him since their graduation. Didn’t he go against his parent’s wishes by enrolling in Kei-nii’s university?”
Kageyama stuffed his hands in his pockets. “That was unexpected. What the heck does Yamaguchi see in that jerk?”
“Says Mr. Grumpy over here,” Hinata mocked. “But though I agree with you…it seems like it’s actually mutual.”
Yachi nodded. “Yama sent me a letter saying everything is going well and that Kei is more affectionate than he seems. I’m not too surprised since he used to be nice to me when I was younger, so I’ve always known that.”
“Then why has he picked on me since we were young?” Hinata exclaimed.
Kageyama smirked. “He probably finds your reactions amusing.”
The bell rang and Yachi jumped a bit, pulling both of them along. “Walk faster or we’ll be late! ”
Class was more boring than usual now that he couldn’t stare at Hinata nodding off to sleep and the comedic repercussions he faced for that. The only positive thing that had come out of this new seating arrangement was that he had a window seat so when he really needed a distraction, he could just look outside. It wasn’t the same though. As the class period continued and he watched the people around him grow friendly, familiar, he realized that Hinata was right: he was lonely. Hinata was the only true friend he ever made, and though Yachi was also in his class, she had her own friends. He still sucked at making friends, just like he did the first day he transferred, and that realization made him miss Hinata all the more. All this sentimentality was stupid, though. All he had to do was tough it out during class and just spend time with Hinata during lunch. It wasn’t a big deal.
Once the lunch bell rang, he grabbed his lunch and walked over to Hinata’s classroom, taking a peek inside before calling his name. He expected Hinata to already be at the door waiting for him, since he used to always be the one to make them rush up to the roof the second the bell rang. But, Hinata was sitting at his desk and talking to a guy with blonde, spiky hair behind him. Kageyama stayed silent for a few moments, watching them continue talking and laughing about something stupid, probably. Maybe something that happened in class. Something he had no idea about. For some reason it made him a bit irritated, so he loudly called out Hinata’s name. It definitely came out more aggressively than he had hoped.
The moment Hinata looked over to see who was calling his name, his face lit up, and that eased the tightness in Kageyama’s heart. Hinata waved goodbye to the blonde guy and jogged over to Kageyama, lips in a wide smile.
“Hey! How was class without me?”
Kageyama looked away. “Fine. I got a window seat so at least it’s more interesting than staring at the back of your head.”
“Meanie.” Hinata shrugged. “Well whatever, my class isn’t that bad either. There are some cool people there.”
“Like that blonde guy? Kageyama blurted, mentally cursing immediately after.
“Yeah! His name is Adachi. He plays the electric guitar! Isn’t that cool?” Hinata opened the roof door. “ He said that he’s really into this thing called Rock. Have you heard of it?”
Kageyama buried his hands in his pockets. “No, I haven’t.” That was a lie.
“Huh. So even you don't know about it…” Hinata sat down, “It’s probably American.”
Hinata looked up, “Hey, is something wrong? You’re super quiet.”
“…Okay. But sit down already, you standing over me makes me feel even shorter than usual.”
Kageyama sat next to him and started shoving food down his throat in silence. There was a nagging feeling in his gut and he thought that if he drowned it in food, it would go away.
But it didn’t.
It just got worse.
The tricky thing about jealousy is that it manifests itself in different ways. For Kageyama it quietly crept, wrapping his heart and mind in a haze that would come and go. Like at this very moment, as he was miserably failing to French kiss Hinata at the bottom of the stairwell to the studio. The kiss was abrupt, unskilled, and even a bit desperate, triggered by the name that recently made Kageyama scrunch his face in disgust.
Hinata placed his palm on Kageyama’s forehead and pushed his face away as he wiped his lips. “I can’t breathe! Why are you trying to suffocate me with your tongue?”
“It’s called a French kiss, dumbass,” Kageyama muttered as he walked to the piano seat and plopped down. “I just wanted to try it.”
Hinata rubbed his bottom lip with his finger. “…You’ve been so sulky recently. What’s up?”
“Nothing.” Kageyama averted his eyes and caught a glimpse of a record in the corner of the room. “Where did you get the rock record from?”
“Oh. Adachi basically shoved it in my bag. I haven’t listened to it yet.”
Kageyama dug his nails into the underside of the seat. “Are you planning to?”
“Yeah, why not?” Hinata shrugged.
Yachi’s father’s voice echoed from upstairs. “Hey Shouyou, can you come with me for a bit.”
“Okay!” Hinata glanced at Kageyama. “I’ll be right back.”
Kageyama nodded and swerved around to play on the piano while he waited. Letting himself get lost in the playing was the best way to get his thoughts in order and settle his feelings a bit. Up to this point, music had been therapeutic for him in one sense or another, but it wasn’t until he started playing with Hinata that music became a form of irreplaceable happiness. So who could blame him for the crippling fear he felt over losing this.
“Wow, this place is pretty cool.”
Kageyama whipped his head around at the sound of the unfamiliar voice and there was Adachi, coming down the steps, with his annoying, blonde, spiky hair catching the light. Kageyama stood up. “Why are you here?”
“Well, hey to you too, buddy.” Adachi smirked and walked towards Hinata’s drum set. “I wanted to check out Hinata’s playing.”
Kageyama took a few steps towards Adachi while glaring at him. “Did Hinata tell you about this place?”
Adachi arched his eyebrow. “And what if he did?”
There was no way he did. He had to be lying. “What do you want with him, anyway?”
“I want him to stop playing such an outdated genre. He has the perfect personality and skills for rock.”
“Hinata would never pick rock over jazz,” Kageyama growled.
“Why don’t I ask him myself?”
“You don’t need to,” Hinata stated from the stairwell, voice laced with irritation. “He knows me best.”
Adachi shoved his hands in his pockets and walked towards Hinata. “Is that so…”
“Leave,” Hinata snapped. “This is no place for someone who looks down on jazz.”
“Okay, okay. I’m leaving.” Adachi put up his hands defensively and climbed the stairs. “See you in class.”
Hinata sighed while roughly mussing his own hair and paced towards Kageyama. “No wonder he was being so damn persistent.” He glanced at Kageyama’s face and the irritation melted, turning into a wide, silly smile. He got really close to Kageyama, ducking under to get a good look at the deep blush he was trying to hide, and placed a hand on each cheek. He knows me best. The phrase that Hinata had said thoughtlessly still rang loudly in his ears. Kageyama bit back a smile and just froze, closing his eyes tightly to focus on calming down his heart. It was the first time anyone had said something like that about him. Knowing someone best took a lot of…effort, time, love, and the fact that he was not only getting acknowledgement for doing all of that, but also being the best at it, the best at loving Hinata, it stirred something inside him he never knew he had.
Hinata placed a chaste kiss on Kageyama’s lips and slowly pulled back, whispering, “Sorry. I didn’t realize he had ulterior motives.”
Kageyama opened his eyes and locked them with Hinata’s. “…it’s fine. I knew from the beginning that you’re an airhead.”
Hinata scrunched his nose. “Rude. Give me back my kiss, you jerk.”
Kageyama bent down and tenderly kissed Hinata again. “There you go.”
Hinata giggled and shoved his hand in Kageyama’s face. “Okay, you sap, we can’t just stand here making out. Let’s play something.”
Kageyama sat on the piano seat and ran his finger across the keys. “I’m in the mood for Moanin’ .”
Hinata grinned, drumsticks at hand. “Same.”
Hinata had been surprisingly pensive recently. When they would go up to the roof for lunch, they would talk and eat like usual, but by the time he had his head resting on Kageyama’s legs, he grew quiet. Kageyama just watched him silently, on one hand not wanting to pry, on the other burning to find out what was wrong with him. But his patience lasted only so long (the last three days this has been happening, to be exact) and he was determined to just ask him about it today.
“Ugh, it’s getting hot.” Kageyama pressed the two buttons labeled milk as he fanned himself. The vending machine never mistakenly gave out two milks, but the whole thing had become a habit.
Hinata nodded. “Maybe we should eat on the landing of the stairs to the roof from now on. I feel like even in the shade, the rooftop will be too hot.”
Kageyama grabbed his milk from slot and poked it with the straw, sipping slowly. “Hmm. True.”
They turned the corner from the vending machine and Kageyama reached to open the door to enter the school again, but Hinata stopped him. “Hey… before we go to the roof I need to talk to you about something.”
Kageyama didn’t like the serious tone in Hinata’s voice. “…Okay?” He let go of the door handle and took a few steps away from it, continuing to sip his milk as he stared at Hinata.
Hinata bit his lip, “Well, it’s about Adachi. I actually—”
“Hinata! I was searching for you.”
Hinata looked towards Adachi who was holding the building door open. “Oh, hey…what’s up?”
“I wanted to ask you in class, but you bolted the moment the bell rang. Did you like the record? Aren’t the Beatles awesome?”
“Yeah, they weren’t half bad.”
Adachi grinned excitedly, “So you’ll do it? You’ll join my band for the culture festival?”
Hinata rubbed the back of his neck and nodded. “Sure.”
“Awesome! I’ll talk to you after class! See ya.” And just as swiftly as he appeared, he left, leaving behind a brewing storm.
By the time Hinata and Adachi’s short interaction had finished, Kageyama’s milk box was empty and crushed in the fist of his hand. Furious, angry, livid—all of those words paled in comparison to what Kageyama felt. And then there was the root emotion and cause of his paranoia: betrayal. He had felt it countless times before, from his mother, all the different ‘friends’ he had made switching from school to school, his father, and each betrayal had a different hue and weight to it; but none hurt as much as this one. He knew he was getting ahead of himself, maybe there was a reasonable explanation to all of this and his jealousy was making him stubborn, but he didn’t want to hear it. He was afraid.
Hinata furrowed his eyebrows, reaching out for Kageyama’s fist, “I won’t be giving up jazz. I’m just helping Adachi out for a bit. He isn’t as bad as he seems. He told—”
Kageyama slapped his hand away. “I don’t care. Do what you want.”
“Wait! Listen to me.”
Kageyama opened the door, yelled “I don’t need you. Why don’t you go date Adachi while you’re at it?”, and slammed it behind him.
He stormed through the hallway, heels hot with anger that sizzled out with each step, ultimately leaving a hollow feeling. It hurt—this sense of having his breathing restricted, as if someone was crushing his windpipe and simultaneously putting all their weight on his chest. He wanted to do away with this burden, shove it off and breathe a deep sigh of relief even if it was a delusion. Kageyama wanted to convince himself that he didn’t need Hinata. He would just revert back to when he was fine being alone, back to his antisocial self, and back to when the only Jazz he knew was colored a cool blue. How did he even let himself fall this far? So far that he couldn’t tell if it was the heat of playing or Hinata’s heat that constantly ghosted over him, embedded in his palms and lips.
He knew how childish he was being. But even if he didn’t want to admit it, he was terrified of losing Hinata. The midget was popular and radiant; he could befriend anyone in the blink of an eye and have more fun hanging out with them than with a sulky guy with a shitty attitude. They were incompatible. And that knowledge made Kageyama insecure and jealous, which all together made him feel extremely pitiful.
Kageyama was beginning to hate the him who loved Hinata this much.
And so, he chose to end it himself.
It wasn’t easy. Hinata was persistent for a few days and would visit Kageyama’s desk during lunch to try to get him to give him the chance to explain, in private. Kageyama didn’t budge. He continued to sip his milk and eat his sandwiches, ignoring Hinata’s existence by focusing intently on anything outside the window. He let his eyes rest on some far off tree and maybe the sounds of the grass being mowed, anything to distract himself from the strained voice talking to him. Soon enough, Hinata gave up trying. He no longer visited his desk or tried to ambush him by the shoe lockers. He simply gave Kageyama a dejected, solemn look whenever they crossed paths, and busied himself with his new band mates—his new friends. Kageyama liked to torture himself, so his eyes would follow them when they walked by, heading off to practice their stupid rock songs for the stupid concert they were going to perform in the culture festival. They were always laughing, arms hung around Hinata as if they had known each other since childhood, as if they were the ones who knew Hinata best.
“ He knows me best ”—that distant phrase still echoed in Kageyama’s mind and stirred his stubborn, ridiculous determination. He wondered if Hinata would still say that now. Even after they hadn’t exchanged a word in all these weeks. Even after Kageyama refused to put Hinata above his pride, his bruised and jaded memories, and even his fear of rejection. Kageyama knew it was never really about the rock music; it probably was never even about the jazz. Kageyama just wanted someone to pick him, his company and everything that entailed, over everything else. He wanted to be prioritized, to be the very most important thing to someone. And he thought he found that in Hinata. Who knows, maybe he had, for that short time. But once he noticed how easily that could be taken away, he realized how much worse it felt to have a taste of the special treatment and then lose it. The fickleness of love, of friendship, of interests, and the dark, vast sea of the doubt and jealousy resulting from that fickleness, all piling inside of him, was just too much to handle.
It was easier to shut everything off.
It was easier to grow cold again.
And even if that made him a coward, at least during this moment of numbness, he could breathe normally.
But he had a habit of living in his head, which was disastrous since his mind always found a way of thinking of Hinata. He knew he needed a distraction. And though it wasn't a preferred distraction—truthfully it was more like a pain in the ass—he got what he wanted. In an almost unanimous vote, his merciless classmates voted him and Yachi to represent their class as committee members for the festival. They claimed it was because Yachi was so responsible and because Kageyama had no club activities.
“I’ll do it.”
It was a clear, serious answer. He could see the confusion in his classmates’ eyes; they were expecting the sulky Kageyama to complain and refuse. But he knew that being so busy that he didn’t have the time or energy to let himself fall into his depressing thoughts and warp of prideful self-pity was the best thing he could do for himself at the moment.
And oh man, was he fucking busy. Yachi, though responsible and ever-so-determined, couldn’t handle both her responsibilities as the art club president and a committee, so Kageyama ended up being the sole representative most of the time. She apologized every single time, handing him cookies during lunch while promising to try harder. Kageyama would just nod, mumbling that he didn't mind, and that the people in the committee were actually tolerable. Sometimes she would mention Hinata during their little talks and would assure Kageyama that after this crazy cultural festival was over, everything would go back to normal.
“The two of you will come back to Jazz again,” she said, voice sweet and quiet. Kageyama wanted to believe her. Yeah, in the back of his mind he was probably still clinging to that hope.
He missed him.
But he was able to endure it more every day. He worked through the tinge of pain and regret nestled in his chest, focusing on the workload that was increasing exponentially as the cultural festival approached. And naturally, time flew by.
“Kageyama! I brought more program pamphlets. We’ll need them for the final act.”
Kageyama leaned back on his chair. “…The stupid band Hinata’s in, right?”
“Yeah. They’ve gotten really popular.” Yachi sat down on the desk next to him and looked straight out towards the stage on the other side of the gym. The second-to-last act was a comedy skit that was doing a better job at boring people than actually being funny.
“My ears are ringing from all the annoying squealing of the girls.”
“Oh, they’re coming.” Yachi looked over towards the entrance where Hinata and his band marched through decked out in fancy, black, red, and gold military-style uniforms. Hoards of girls trailed behind them as they made their way to the stage to prepare for their closing act.
“…Hinata looks good,” Kageyama mumbled to himself while he gazed at Hinata—he was glowing, smile wide and cheeks red from the new-found attention. Did he ever look like that when they played jazz in that musty, hidden room?
Adachi danced to the front of the stage with a flashy, confident smile and ran his hand through his slicked back hair. “You ready, ladies?”
The crowed roared and Kageyama could feel a migraine piercing its way to the front of his head. But he stayed, eyes still glued to Hinata. Adachi pointed at Hinata, counting down in a steady beat, and they started to play their first song. It was upbeat, fast, and as expected, very popular. Adachi had a good voice and in a matter of seconds he had the whole crowd excitedly singing along. They emanated charisma that made them glimmer so brightly that Kageyama could feel his eyes stinging.
He sighed and put his head down on the desk, cradling his head with his arms. He was tired of it all. He just wanted the world to pause and turn completely quiet so he could let his mind catch up with the whirlpool of feelings trying to drown him.
And as if answering his prayers, the music cut off.
“Eh?” Yachi stood up, shaking Kageyama’s shoulder. “Kageyama, the sound stopped working.”
“Don’t say that. We need to do our jobs!” Yachi pulled Kageyama by the arm and they joined the group of other committee members huddling near the stage.
“Everyone, let’s split up to look for burnt out chords.”
Kageyama grabbed the flashlight Yachi passed to him and headed back stage right as the crowd started to become restless. The stage was small so from where he was behind the curtain he could clearly hear Adachi try to stall, asking the crowd if they wanted him to just sing something for them, or maybe even dance. Many of the girls giggled, cheering him on, but some of the very obviously jealous guys took the chance to talk smack.
“This is stupid. You guys can’t do anything without electricity and all you want to do is show off how wealthy you are.”
“You guys don’t know anything.” It was Hinata’s voice. “The instruments are borrowed and the clothes came from Ikeda. Okay, sure, Ikeda is pretty loaded, but both Adachi and I are poor. Adachi cares about this stuff, so shut up and watch the show.”
Kageyama bit his lip; of course Hinata was going to stand up for Adachi. He shook his head and pointed his flashlight at the floor, slowing walking across backstage while inspecting the wires. Once he got to the other side of the stage, the side closest to Hinata’s drums, he paused.
“Thanks for having my back, Hinata,” Adachi whispered. “The reason I told you about my dream to become a pop star and support my family was because I knew you would empathize…I was being a bit manipulative. But now I’m happy I told you, because I feel like you get me.”
Hinata sighed. “Yeah, I do get it.”
“So, you want to stay in the band? We still have one more year.”
“No,” Hinata stated sternly. “I just said this once. I still think jazz is a hundred times better than rock and…I’m keeping the person most important to me waiting.”
Kageyama gripped the curtains so tightly his knuckles turned white. His chest hurt, but this time it was because his heart felt so incredibly full.
Adachi chuckled. “So…uh, are you and Kageyama—wah! Kageyama?!”
Kageyama walked through the curtains and across the stage while taking off his uniform jacket. He hopped off to the side of the stage near where the school’s upright piano was placed. “All of you are a pain in my behind. This is why electric machines are useless,” he grumbled, sitting down on the piano seat.
The students in the crowd whispered amongst themselves and took a curious step closer. Kageyama just ignored them, stretching his fingers a bit before taking a deep breath. He had to be smart about it. Most students weren’t like him and Hinata, so he had to lure them into the music by playing something they would recognize. He began with the most popular song from the recent movie The Sound of Music, My Favorite Things . Yachi, Hinata, and he had gone to see it in the theater and spent a few sessions trying to play the song from memory. It was a bit off, maybe even in a completely different key, but it was their own. Kageyama glanced up at Hinata and met his eyes for the first time in many, many weeks. Hinata nodded, his lips forming a small grin as he joined in with ease, beyond comfortable and in sync with Kageyama’s playing. Already having known what it was like to play together, nothing could take that intimacy away from them. Could they go back to the time before this stupid fight? No, they probably couldn’t. So all they could do was move forward together.
Hinata drummed harder, upping the intensity of his beats as a challenge to Kageyama. He used improvisation to drift away from My Favorite Things and Kageyama chased behind, refusing to lose to the power of Hinata’s drums. Kageyama played along, improvising a bit to make it seem as if he was just following Hinata’s lead, but instead effortlessly transitioned into another of their favorites, Blowin’ the Blues Away . The song was fitting, especially in the impatient speed and intensity they played it at. They were anxious for each other’s company and excited from feeling once more that charged connection jazz sparked in them—it was like a high. Kageyama’s hands were cramping because it had been some time since he played the piano, but he barged ahead, lips pulled into a silly grin. He got up from his seat and rubbed his hands together, starting in the chorus of their most beloved Moanin’ . He closed his eyes and put every bit of his body into the keys, feeling, hearing, and breathing in the harmony of his and Hinata’s notes. Each was a bit too sharp, loud, and maybe even unrefined…but they were cohesive. Just like he and Hinata.
When Kageyama opened his eyes again, he looked around, not quite sure why he was standing. He wiped the sweat from his forehead with his sleeve and stared back at the crowd that was staring at him in awe. After just a second or two of silence, the crowd started clapping and whispering praises. Kageyama just stood there, gaze slowly turning back to Hinata, who was now striding towards him. He expected Hinata to stop in front of him to say something, maybe even hug him, but instead he grabbed a hold of Kageyama’s hand and pulled him, hard.
The ran out of the gym, leaving behind squealing girls, protesting band mates, and even Yachi—just so they could finally be alone. And they kept going until they were past the school gates, panting, and laughter bubbling out uncontrollably. They leaned against the walls of the school a few feet away from the gate and recovered their breaths in measured silence, hands still intertwined.
“I was being stupid,” Kageyama started. “I got jealous and stubborn, and whatever else that was.”
Hinata stood in front of Kageyama and squeezed his hand. “It’s also my fault. I should have told you about the Adachi thing way before. I just stopped trying to explain myself because I thought eventually you’d just start talking to me again.”
Kageyama sighed. “Yeah…we’re dumbasses.”
“We are, but that’s okay.” Hinata took a step closer to Kageyama. “I still like you very much.”
Kageyama groaned, slid his hand behind Hinata’s neck, and pulled him in for a kiss. He ghosted his lips over Hinata's, whispering, “I like you more,” before completely closing the distance. If they cared about being careful, they probably wouldn’t be making out so close to the school, on a street where anyone could pass by. But they seriously didn’t give a shit. They were completely lost in each other, hands softly gripping, caressing, and feathering over anything they could touch, breaths soft sighs of bliss, and whispered love challenges, because neither could tolerate being the one that loved the other less. They kissed, and hugged, and laughed, and sometimes did a combination of two or three, until they their lips felt sore and their feelings had come to a calm.
Hinata took a step back, lips in a mischievous grin. “I’ll race you to the studio!” He didn’t even wait for a reply before he was running down the hill.
Since the first day he met Hinata, he wondered what sight the midget saw in front of him that made him run so carelessly down the slope. But now he understood.
Because while chasing the waning sunlight and calling out Hinata’s name,
he felt like he could fly.