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Blood, Sweat, and (Idol) Tears

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Kageyama is making his way to the train station one random Thursday to find all of Central Street completely taken over.

There’s not one, not two, but four spanking brand new ads for the hit seven-piece pop group VEX’T around the station. They’re huge too, the sparkling faces of Kuroo, Bokuto, and Tanaka exuding their classic alpha charms so that the masses buy their new single.

Kageyama’s interested only on a surface level. Even he can enjoy the chiseled features of Akaashi and Iwaizumi (and the perfect stomach muscles aren’t anything to scoff at either). He’s not the stereotypical fanboy, but he’s definitely travelling with one.

“Oh. My. GOD!” Hinata screams, rushing over to rub his grubby little hands over what little of the giant poster he can reach. “I can’t believe VEX’T is having a comeback so soon! We have to buy the album as soon as it comes out!”

“We?” Kageyama deadpans, crossing his arms impassively still waiting near their terminal entrance. “I have no interest in idols. You can obsess without me thank you very much.”

Hinata turns away from whatever inappropriate daydreams he’s cooking up to waggle his eyebrows at Kageyama. “Oh? You sure about that? I think I’ve seen you drooling over Iwaizumi once or twice.”

Kageyama makes a face. “I’m only interested in an aesthetic sense. Who wouldn’t?” Against his will, Kageyama’s eyes are drawn upward. No really who could resist the chiseled featured, giant biceps, broad shoulders, all tapering into a slim waist? And shoutout to the stylist who decided to put them all in super fitted three-piece suits this comeback.

He’s realized that he’s trailed off a bit suspiciously and hurries to finish his thought. “B-But following all of those music shows and online voting that’s for borderline rabid fans.”

“Daydreaming about a member fucking your brains out doesn’t make you any less rabid, Kageyama-san.”

“Hey Hinata? Fall of a cliff.”

“You first, darling!” Hinata quips cheekily, too focused on taking nothing short of one hundred selfies with his beloved VEX’T poster.

Whatever equally pithy comment Kageyama has locked and loaded fades when he unlocks his phone, giant time display showing him they have exactly one minute before they are officially Late. Again.

Before Kageyama can scream in terror, Hinata beats him to it. “We’re late!” he all but shrieks, the people around them jumping in surprise. The shrimp grabs a hold of Kageyama’s wrist to drag him towards the trains. “Kageyamaaa! Hurry up! We have to go!”

“I don’t want to hear that from you!” Kageyama yells, nearly toppling over from the aggressive pulling. “It's your fault in the first place!”

“Can't hear you!” And then Hinata's running faster, full on sprinting down the steps towards the train platform. It's an unspoken challenge for a race, the same one Kageyama falls for every time. They don’t even have to be late to be seen creating their own (totally unsafe) two-man stampede towards the train.

By now the station’s employees are used to the antics. The sweet older lady at the ticket counter leans over to desk to call out a “Be careful boys!”, as they pass by, just two blurs of color.

Today’s race ends up being another tie--only because there’s already a sizeable crowd at their platform blocking the way to the agreed upon finish line. That’s good news for Hinata because Kageyama definitely had the lead (so he says). But bad news for the both of them: the train is late.

“Ukai’s gonna kill us,” Hinata laments even as he tries to catch his breath.

“No,” Kageyama says, similarly breathless. “He’s gonna break every bone in our body first. Then kill us.”


Xx


Believe it or not there was a point in time when Kageyama wasn’t chronically late to Ukai’s dance class, and it’s no coincidence that the increase in tardiness coincides with becoming friends with Hinata.

In fact, in the days before the orange shrimp, Kageyama was often the first to arrive and the last to leave. It didn’t take long before it became a running joke throughout the studio. Everyone knew that if Kageyama Tobio wasn’t there the place was either closed or he had broken both his legs...and all of his fingers and toes for good measure.

Kageyama didn’t mind the jokes. Dancing is the one thing he loves, right up there with his mother, food, and fucking around with cute boys. The last two fluctuate depending on the day, but that’s the short list. He was afraid that after his parents divorce and subsequent move, he’d never find another studio as good as the one he’d been enrolled in ever since he was five back in his hometown.

What he found in Ukai’s studio after school everyday, minus Wednesdays and Sundays, was just as good if not better. Classical ballet, contemporary dance, tap, and the occasional week spent on ballroom dancing, all of it leaving Kageyama with bruised toes and sore limbs, but a deep set sense of satisfaction as he hobbles home every evening.

No matter the shit that goes down in his life, he can always drown out any school troubles (and there’s plenty) as well as any pressing homework in favor of memorizing and practicing choreography. It’s that passion, dedication, and smidgen of fear of Ukai’s wrath that kept Kageyama prioritize his punctuality.

Not to mention that the studio has a policy that for every minute you’re late that’s another set of lunges you have to do across the studio--from one full body mirror to the other. And you can’t half ass them either. If your knee doesn’t touch the perfectly waxed wooden floor, that’s just another set added to your count.

It wasn’t always like that, but back when Kageyama was a first-year there was a string of second-years that thought they could waltz (no pun intended) into class thirty minutes late everyday, Starbucks in tow and face absolutely no consequences. Kageyama remembers watching one second-year lunge their way back and forth until the tremble in their knees turned seismic.

Kageyama never wanted that to be him. And it wasn’t. That is until Hinata wormed his way into his life and became a giant time-sucking black hole.

Miffed that his once perfect attendance is being sullied again, Kageyama glares daggers at Hinata standing next to him. They’re on the train now, crammed in like sardines near the handrails after ten minutes of waiting. It’ll be another fifteen minutes before they make it to their destination, and Kageyama is not looking forward to the torture his thighs are going to be put through soon.

His companion seems to have no such fears. Hinata is holding onto the loose sleeve of Kageyama’s oversized t-shirt, stretching it out because he’s too short to reach a handrail. The descrecration of one of his favorite shirts featuring a recreation of Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” painting, but with Beyonce standing in the shell instead, just adds to Kageyama’s irritation that Hinata is standing there scrolling through Twitter without a care in the world.

“I know I’m sooooo attractive and all that,” Hinata says after Kageyama has glanced at him angrily enough times, not even bothering to look up from whatever stupid Twitter thread he’s been going through. “But that doesn’t mean you can keep staring at me like this. You’ll make me blush.”

Without even thinking Kageyama rolls his eyes so hard they might just pop out of his head. “Please. Everyone knows you were born without shame. Which is why you don’t mind being late all the damn time and dragging me down with you.”

He doesn’t even deign to touch the attractive bit. Hinata seems to take that as a victory of some sorts, because he’s smiling knowingly as he defends himself. “It isn’t completely my fault! Besides we’re Ukai’s favorites! You’ve been there the longest, and I’m the best at wiping down the mirrors! He’d never blow up at us.”

“We’re his what?” Kageyama squints at Hinata. Ukai’s not the type to have favorites. At best you’re someone he’ll force to jog two laps around the neighborhood instead of four. “Have you considered he doesn’t yell at me because I’m not disruptive all the time? And he doesn’t yell at you because, well….you just never listen.”

There’s no smartass comment, mainly because it’s true. Hinata kind of stares into the distance nodding to himself, “He did give up yelling at me a while ago, huh?”

Kageyama enjoys his victory, feeling a lot more vindicated even though banter doesn’t solve the problem that is how absolutely fucked they’re gonna be. “Why couldn’t I be cursed with a better, well-behaved friend?” Kageyama sighs.

A familiar, thin-fingered hand slides across Kageyama’s side to settle on his lower back. Hinata looks up at him with a faux sweetness that doesn’t quite reach his eyes, “I’m good where it counts, right?” he asks, his hand squeezing just slightly.

Kageyama’s toes curl at the implications. He hope it doesn’t show in his scent, because the last thing he needs is add to the shorter’s actually palpable aura of smugness. “S-shut up,” he grumbles when it’s clear that it does. Hinata’s already annoyingly wide smile, stretches even wider. Taunting. Mocking.

In retaliation, for the rest of the ride Kageyama purposefully hits Hinata with his exercise bag, nearly bowling him over more than once. Friends with benefits or not, he won’t tolerate humiliation in silence.


Xx


Kageyama pushes open the door to the studio juuuust enough to allow him and Hinata in. They inch their way inside to find that practice hasn’t even started yet. Everyone’s milling about, either stretching half-heartedly in groups or just sitting around and chatting.

The two of them stand in the doorway in shocked--but relieved--silence. Ukai’s standing at his usual spot near the fancy sound system that most are absolutely forbidden from using, touching, breathing near, or even standing too close to, having an animated conversation with a handsome stranger.

Mentally Kageyama blows a kiss to the stranger and to the universe that sent him before following Hinata into the changing area.

“Hinata-kun! Kageyama-kun!” They’re maybe two feet into the lounge that leads to the changing rooms when a chorus of eager voices are calling their names. Hinata has about a ten second warning before he’s being excitedly mauled by a dozen elementary school aged kiddos, pointe shoes already on.

Those that don’t stick to Hinata flock over to Kageyama, all of them babbling excitedly about the ballet routine they’re learning and admonishing the two of them for being late on a day when they have “special company”. Normally being surrounded by so many people, half his height or not, would make Kageyama skittish, but he’s familiar enough with the junior class to be as comfortable as he can be.

“Special company?” he echoes. “Is that who Ukai-sensei’s talking to?”

The flock of children nod in unison. Mina, who might be Kageyama’s favorite gremlin, tugs on one of his belt loops to get his attention. “The tall guy’s here from...from Catfish Entertainment!”

“I think she means Swordfish Entertainment,” Takeda corrects, standing up from where he was double checking someone’s pointe shoes. He’s smiling--as always--as he wades through the sea of excited children. “Keishin’s pretty close with some of the talent directors there so they come here occasionally to scout talent. I don’t know if you know this, but a member of VEX’T used to take lessons here!”

Hinata’s gasps so dramatically he nearly knocks himself over. “Did you say VEX’T? You’re telling me I’ve been breathing the same air as a member of VEX’T!? I need to sit down. I think I might faint. Why didn’t anyone tell me?”

“Uhh...you didn’t ask?” Takeda supplies a tad bit nervously, as Hinata curls desperate fingers in the collar of the other’s jacket. Kageyama doesn’t even bother to suppress a sigh as he watches Hinata bombard the soft spoken dance instructor with question after question.

It’s no secret that Ukai’s personally trained a few idols here and there. Even Kageyama, who has never had any real aspirations to be an idol, knows this. Ukai has never dropped the names of all the people he’s worked with, but most of everyone has an idea of a few thanks to the passed down gossip from previous upperclassmen.

When Kageyama was in his last year of middle school he remembers some second-year got scouted into an entertainment company and started taking dance lessons elsewhere. She had even debuted in a very short-lived group, disbanded after a year of half-baked singles.

But because Hinata Shöyö only has two brain cells, one for eating and the other for dancing, all information not directly related to the two literally cannot be retained in that bird brain of his. Kageyama takes a moment to lament just how much of an idiot his best friend is.

And with that thought he slinks off to his locker to get changed.


Xx


Five minutes later and one pair of tight athletic leggings later, Kageyama’s making his way back to the main studio. To his surprise Ukai’s still chatting up the handsome stranger, the two of them talking over some kind of paperwork.

Curious, Kageyama stares as he makes his way to his section of the studio. The stranger really is handsome, looking to be in his mid-twenties at most. His gray hair is styled neatly, framing soft, friendly features.Top it off with a beauty mark under if left eye and Kageyama is definitely intrigued. If he were into older men that is.

When he turns back to mind his own business Kageyama finds Kindaichi, fellow third-year and holder of the most random and intense dislike of Kageyama, boring holes in his face.

“What?” Kageyama asks with a sigh, plopping down with the rest of the Advanced class to start his stretches. He's learned by now that ignoring Kindaichi does little to no good, and it’s just better to let him be as annoying as he wants before class starts so the both of them don’t end up doing disciplinary laps around the studio.

Like always, Kindaichi drops his eyes to look at anywhere but Kageyama as he grumbles out a, “Nothing.” He opts instead to glare angrily at his own sneakers as he bends forwards to do a round of seated toe touches, leaving whatever he wanted to say left unsaid.

Kageyama doesn't probe. Things have always been this way.

Well not really. There was a span of two or three months when Kindaichi had first started taking lessons where he'd paid Kageyama little to no attention.

And then Kindaichi had presented. Somewhere in the week he'd spent at home dealing with whatever in the hell alphas go through, he had decided to hate Kageyama's guts. They managed to go from interacting only when choreography forced them to do so, to nearly tearing each other's throats out at least once a week.

Kageyama refuses to take the blame for how things have turned out. Yeah he's got a hair trigger sometimes, but he's only giving as good as the gets. He's more than willing to go back to the complete ignoring of each other. What he's not willing to do is let an alpha step all over him like this is the 1800s. Alphas aren't anything special. Who cares if their dicks have special functions? So do ducks.

“Don't mind him,” a monotonous voice cuts in. Kageyama looks up from the center splits he’s easing himself into to lock eyes with Kunimi, Kindaichi’s friend and much needed interpreter. “He’s just worried about performing perfectly for the talent scout.”

“Oh, he’s actually here to scout someone?” Kageyama asks, much more relaxed now that he’s in Kunimi’s company. The two of them don’t talk much, but the beta’s dry humor and aloof behavior is refreshing in a way.

Kunimi drops his hands on Kindaichi’s shoulders, forcing the latter to stretch further with the extra weight, “I dunno for sure, but everyone’s assuming he is. See? Even the intermediate class is taking this seriously.”

And he’s right. Looking around, most of both the Advanced and Intermediate classes are stretching with the utmost seriousness. A few people are practicing pirouettes and other flashy tricks, glancing very obviously at Ukai and his guest.

“Huh.” Kageyama mutters. He never would’ve thought his dancemates would be so interested in potentially joining the idol life. Half of them barely do their homework. Kageyama says as much, pulling out of his splits to sit crossed legged. (Mainly because there’s a slight burning in the muscles of his hips, but also because Kindaichi has been openly staring at his thighs for the past minute).

At his words Kunimi smiles, well as much as he can. It’s more of a subtle upturning of his lips than anything else. “What? You don’t see the appeal in the idol life? I’m sure someone would love to have you on a poster on their wall.”

He pushes down Kindaichi pointedly as he says it, and no one is surprised when Kunimi’s being shaken off with an indignant huff.

“Ugh, I’ll pass,” Kageyama scrunches his face up in over exaggerated distaste. “I’m fine with not being someone’s masturbation material.” He likes sex sure, and he doesn’t mind being seen as attractive. But he can’t imagine reading filthy comments from fans about how much they want to suck his dick or anything.

Curiously, Kindaichi goes red at the mere mention of masturbation. Kageyama's eyebrows shoot up in devious glee. Though it is true Kindaichi antagonizes most of their tiffs, Kageyama can't pass up prime opportunities like this.

It is as he's debating if the resultant argument is worth the the satisfaction of goading Kindaichi about being a prude that Ukai brings them all to silence with a clap of his hands.

“Alright listen up you heathens,” he walks closer to where both classes are seated, loosely divided by class. Handsome stranger moves forward as well, smiling brightly at the unorthodox nickname they've been given. “I have an announcement and I’m only gonna say this once, so--”

Ukai cuts himself off to squint at the flock of students at his feet. He scans over all of their faces, counting quietly. The upper classes are a relatively small group--nineteen in total--so it doesn’t take long at all for Ukai to realize someone is missing. “Where’s Hinata?” he asks, looking at Kageyama for an answer.

“It’s not my job to keep up with that idiot,” Kageyama grumbles (even though it kinda is), just as Hinata himself comes rushing out onto the practice floor, shoes first.

Literally shoes first. His flashy red sneakers sail across the room to land at Ukai’s feet, before a sock clad Hinata comes rushing in to scoop them up. “Sorry I’m late!” He flashes both Ukai and the stranger a grin, hopping in place as he shoves his sneakers on. “My shoes disappeared out of my locker, and I had to hunt them down.”

There’s a sudden wave of amused snickering bounces around the studio, its origin the subset of the Advanced class already notorious for harassing whoever they could. This year, and for the past three years, Hinata has been their primary target.

Misplacing his shoes is remarkably mild, but it still makes Kageyama bristle with annoyance. Ukai narrows his eyes in similar suspicion before gesturing for Hinata to join the rest of them on the floor. “No need to apologize. It’d take at least three miracles to get you out here doing warmups on time.”

“Yeah, if you weren’t so good at cleaning the mirrors there would be no use for you being here,” Kindaichi deadpans up, not even trying to keep his voice down.

Hinata flushes in embarrassment, rushing to take his place at Kageyama’s side as the laughter picks up again.

De-escalation over retaliation Hinata tells Kageyama every time the other complains that his best friend is essentially playing doormat for a bunch of half-assed bullies. It sounds great on paper--all of that “turn the other cheek” shit--but Kageyama has never been good at holding his tongue.

Which is why right there in front of everyone, even God herself, he turns to Kindaichi with a chilly smile. “You’re one to talk, considering you had to cry your way into the upper classes after fucking up your routine.”

It’s a low blow, sure, but Kageyama doesn’t feel that bad about it. Instantly there’s a chorus of gasps: they all remember. Just as quickly, Kindaichi’s brows are forming the angriest “V” on his forehead imaginable, “What was that?”

“What part of that didn’t make sense?” Kageyama questions, he can feel Ukai’s rage gathering at the front of the room, but if he’s gonna fuck up, might as well go all the way. “I knew your dick was small, didn’t know your brain was too.”

“Enough.” Ukai interjects over the concerned mumbling of the class before things can get any more out of hand. “Say anything else and I’m kicking the both of you out of here for the rest of the week. And when you get back you’re on cleaning duty.”

That’s more than enough to shut Kageyama up. Kindaichi? Maybe not so much.  

If Kageyama thought Kindaichi couldn’t look any more pissed, he’s definitely being proved wrong now. The alpha is full on glaring, puffing up to make himself bigger, and trying his hardest to strangle Kageyama with his scent alone.

A classic intimidation technique. Kageyama isn’t affected; he’s said his part. What Kindaichi wants--or at least the instinctual part of him--is a clear sign of submission, for Kageyama to drop his eyes in defeat.

What he gets is the exact opposite. Kageyama holds his gaze, cooly and calmly like they’re discussing the weather. Which only irritates Kindaichi further.

“Kindaichi, I said enough,” Ukai warns again, because neither one of them are backing down. He’s even using that tone of voice that means Business, but it isn’t enough today to dissipate the tension in the room.

It’s enough for Kindaichi to tear his eyes from Kageyama towards Ukai, “He can’t talk to me like that! He’s just an--”

Kindaichi.” Ukai says, eyes steely, Despite having no real part in the confrontation, Hinata chokes a little in fear. The room goes so deathly silent that the sound of Kindaichi shutting his mouth with a click is as loud as a gunshot. “Are we going to have to take a couple of days to go over Primary and Secondary Gender Sensitivity Again?”

Ukai locks eyes with each and everyone of them, only satisfied when everyone shakes their head in dissention. After another round of listless apologizes from Kindaichi to Hinata and Kageyama as well as Kageyama to Kindaichi, Ukai is ready to get the class back on track.

He pats Handsome Stranger, who had been watching the whole thing go down like one might watch a trainwreck, amicably on the shoulder. “This here is Sugawara. We go a long ways back. He’s here from Swordfish Entertainment; they’re having some kind of audition early next month and for whatever reason he decided to come here to scout some of you goblins.”

“Don’t say that,” Sugawara admonishes gently, “We both know you teach some of the best talents in the city.” Ukai doesn’t say anything else, but looks proud all the same. Sugawara turns back to the class, looking way too nice to be a part of the entertainment business. “He is right though, there is an important audition coming up! I’ll just be here observing today’s class, and if there are any of you I think have a good shot, or if you want help preparing for the audition, I’ll be more than happy to help!”

Sugawara smiles at them, grinning so brightly and so friendly it drives all the remaining tension out of the room. Everyone sits up straighter, suddenly excited for the opportunity. Kageyama even finds himself in higher spirits, ready to impress.

So he blows another mental kiss to Sugawara-san, and gets ready to sweat.


Xx


Practice is a bit a mess at first. Half of the class is nervous to make a mistake in front of Sugawara (as if his cherubic features are anything to be terrified by), while the other half tries to be as Extra as possible.

One girl is nearly decapitated from someone else’s overdramatic--and off beat--high kick. It isn’t until after their first break when they all manage to put delusions of grandeur to the side and focus on their routine.

The second showcase of the year is coming up, and so is the summer competition season. As of right now they have the opportunity to take it easy. Today’s practice was mostly working out the kinks and timing, but in the next few months things will get busy.

But that’s a problem for later. Right now Kageyama throws himself on the floor, laying spread out on the floor, letting his body temperature return to normal. There’s a rush of people coming and going--mostly going, following behind Sugawara-san to ask him about the auditions, his job, if they can get autographs from idols, everything.

Kageyama’s genuinely surprised that he doesn’t hear Hinata’s voice asking questions a mile a minute. Before he can fully begin to wonder where his idiot beta is, he feels someone come and plop down next to him. From smell alone Kageyama can tell it’s Hinata.

Hinata likes to describe his scent as sunshine and summer, but regardless of the truth of the statement Kageyama refuses to feed his ego. This time beneath his usual warm scent is feelings of anxiety and despair. Which can only mean they’re about to have a talk about Feelings. And Kageyama is notoriously bad at Feelings.

Everyone knows this, but that doesn’t stop Hinata from having them. Nor does it stop him from coming to his best friend for a shoulder to lean on. So it’s safe to say that the Feelings Kageyama can handle best are Hinata’s and his own. In that order.

When he slits his eyes open Kageyama finds Hinata sitting near his hip, tense in every muscle. “You aren’t going to talk to Sugawara-san about the audition?” Kageyama asks, as he sits up. For Hinata to be so excited to see the talent scout only to be a bundle of miserable nerves two hours later is...strange.

“I...I don’t think I should,” Hinata confesses, making eye contact with the other briefly before dropping his gaze to the floor. “I mean what are the odds I even make it through the audition? I’m too old! And I don’t have the money for the training--I should just go to school for business or something! We barely have enough to send me to college in the first place, and if I got a degree in dance would I be be able to get a job? The restaurant is struggling enough as it is and with the extra expenses….I couldn’t--”

Kageyama cuts him off, reaching over to squeeze Hinata’s cheeks with one hand hard enough so that he can’t do anything but make gross rasping noises. “First of all, you’re not old. You’re not even twenty. Lots of idols debut at, like, twenty-three.”

“That doesn’t change the fact that I need to be helping at home. There’s no guarantee I’d debut.” Hinata gasps dramatically, eyes taking a faraway look. “Or worse. What if the group I was in flopped? Then I’d be broke and publicly shamed.”

“Now you’re just being melodramatic,” Kageyama can’t help but roll his eyes. This is beginning to turn out to be less about Feelings and more about Paranoid Delusions: Shöyö Edition.

Hinata blinks out of whatever fantastical daydreams he’d been cooking up only to look downcast yet again. Quietly--which is unusual in itself he mumbles, “I’ve already been selfish enough, slacking around here with Ukai instead of helping with the restaurant. I guess I--I shouldn’t even be here. I’m only here because Takeda-san took pity on me.”

“That’s bullshit,” Kageyama blurts out immediately. Not eloquent, and totally not helping but it’s the truth. Hinata Shöyö is loud, and dramatic, and way too much to handle most of the times, and 100% not the kind of person Kageyama would ever willing seek out and spend time with.

But it was the redhead’s unshakeable determination to get what he wants, as well as his irrefutable skill that convinced Kageyama to even give him the time of day. At least once a week Hinata will bring up how happy he was the day Kageyama shooed away the assholes bothering him in the changing room, and how ecstatic he was when Kageyama finally got tired of pretending he didn’t exist.

To this day Kageyama doesn’t think he did anything extraordinary. For whatever reason, well, for whatever reason beyond pointless elitism, a good fraction of the upper class had decided Hinata joining them despite his parents being unable to pay the full fees somehow deemed him unworthy.

Kageyama didn’t and still doesn’t care. The financial status of his new dancemate didn’t concern him in the slightest. How eerily fast he picked up choreography and how relentlessly loud he was did, however.

Present-day Hinata looks posed to argue, despite the suspicious watering of his eyes. “You’re here because you work harder than anyone else,” Kageyama continues.

“But--”

Shut up. I’m serious. The only reason Ukai even puts up with your chronic lateness is because you actually put in the work. Unlike half of these lazy, rich kids. Dancing makes you happy, right? Then it’s not a waste of time. Has your mom said anything about you needing to help around more?”

“No….” Hinata mumbles, shoulders beginning to slump in defeat.

“And has your other mom said anything?”

“No….”

With that final nail in the coffin, Kageyama sits back smug in his victory. “So will you cheer up and audition now? If you go home looking like shit Natsu’ll call me in tears again worried about her big brother.”

That gets a tiny smile out of Hinata. If anything could bring him out of doom and gloom it’s definitely his precious baby sister. “I shouldn’t have ever taught her how to use the phone. But you’re right. I just get so worried…”

“I understand,” Kageyama pats his friend on the head once, the gentle motion quite at an odds of their usual, borderline violent acts of skinship. He’s still not sure Hinata’s taking his words completely to heart, so it’s time to bring out the big guns. “You’ll audition now, right?” Kageyama asks again, doing his best to look sincere and using all of his Kageyaman (Hinata’s term, not his) charms to be as enticing and hard to deny as possible.

Usually the deadly pout plus gentle voice combo is used to get the beta to sneak over so they can fool around after Kageyama’s mom has already gone to bed. This is proof that he uses his powers for just as much good as he does evil.

And yet again, it works. Hinata stares at Kageyama’s openly pouting face and slowly, very slowly the tension visibly leaves his shoulders. “I’ll think about it. I promise.”

Satisfied--for now--Kageyama nods once. This is too big of a deal for it to be solved with just one impromptu discussion on the floor, but at least now his idiot of a best friend knows Kageyama knows he’s an idiot. A bigger idiot than usual.

“Now c’mon, let’s go. You owe me food.”

“Why do I owe you food,” Hinata counters immediately. He’s smiling though, and already jumping up to his feet so that he can go get changed.

“Consider it my fee for putting up with you,” Kageyama grins as he calls after his retreating friend. He gets a vulgar gesture in response, and just like that things that back to normal.



Xx



Kageyama doesn't bother changing; his dance tights are due for a washing anyways. Instead he takes his time heading outside. Before he can make his way outside into the warm early evening air, Ukai comes out of the longue.

"Oh good. I was hoping I could catch you before you left," he says. Kageyama can't help the way his shoulders sag with the impending doom of another lecture. Ukai doesn't sound mad, but disappointed Ukai is even worse than angry Ukai.

The dance instructor catches the defensive pout being thrown his way and laughs, ruffling Kageyama’s hair fondly. “I already apologized,” Kageyama mumbles dejectedly, “And I even kinda meant it this time.”

“This time?” Ukai repeats with a raised brow. It appears that he’s on the verge of making a comment, but wisely decides to save the discussion on remorse--or Kageyama’s lack thereof--for another time. “Never mind that. I wanted to talk to you one on one about what happened today. Hopefully you understand why I had to be strict on the both of you. I don’t approve of what Kindaichi said, and you had all the right to put him in his place. But I’d have half the parents of the kids here up my ass if I let you rip him a new one.”

“I understand. And there are no hard feelings. Against you.” Kageyama tacks on the last part with a huff. He really doesn’t have anything against Ukai. He’s a good instructor, fair and a lot softer than the bleach blonde punk look would lead one to believe .

Kindaichi though. Kindaichi can kiss his ass.

That thought must broadcast clearly across Kageyama’s face because Ukai’s shaking his head with an exasperated, but fond, kind of smile that comes standard issue with any job including melodramatic young adults. “Don’t be too hard on him. Alpha hormones are hard to deal with when you’re trying to woo someone for the first time.”

“What does that have to do with anything?”

Ukai sputters and stares at Kageyama. It’s the same look Kageyama’s father gave him when he asked why he was divorcing his mom. That same moment of Oh shit I’m an adult how do I explain this complicated and uncomfortable situation to a child?

Except Ukai looks more uncomfortable than guilty. Not to mention Kageyama actually likes Ukai.

“Oh, well. Don't...don't worry about it then,” Ukai rubs the back of his neck, clearly uncomfortable even as Kageyama continues to blink wide eyes in confusion.

Confusion turns into irritation when Hinata appears out of thin air to throw himself onto Kageyama's back. “Ugh, you're wasting your time trying to explain it to this idiot,” he remarks, bony knees digging into the taller's back. Kageyama only barely suppresses the urge to suplex Hinata and send them both to the floor.

“Who's an idiot, idiot?” Kageyama growls, trying his best to wriggle out of Hinata's hold.

“You're the idiot if you can't figure out what Kindaichi's problem really is!” Hinata argues back. Yelling in Kageyama's ear may not have been the smartest idea because Hinata suddenly finds himself being flipped over Kageyama’s head to land--relatively gently--on his feet.

Kageyama could’ve sent him flying with no problem, and they both know it. “Why would I care about what is problem is?” he says, able to stand at his full height now that he’s not burdened with Hinata’s extra weight.

“Just admit that you’re dense!”

“I’m what?”

“Dense!”

Ukai, now forgotten, watches his bickering students with an expression reserved solely for the neverending madness that is the Hinata/Kageyama duo. “Get out of my studio,” he deadpans.


Xx


The two of them leave, still bickering about who’s the bigger idiot. They pass by half of the upper classes, crowded around Sugawara-san still in the hallway leading to the other recreation studios in the building.

Kageyama spares them all a cursory glance, (he still can’t quite believe so many of his dancemates are so seduced by the idea of stardom) briefly catching the gaze of Sugawara as he does so. For a silver of a second it appears as if the other was going to call out to the two of them, but then someone else is forcibly getting Sugawara’s attention and the moment is gone.

“Kageyama!” Hinata calls, yelling yet again. “Are you listening to me?”

“No.” He gets an elbow to the side for his honesty.

Hinata looks up at Kageyama with a smile that couldn’t be described any way other than smarmy. “You were checking out Sugawara-san, huh? I thought you weren’t into older guys!”

“I’m not,” the taller cuts an annoyed glance at his friend. “I was just looking. There’s no harm in that.”

“True,” Hinata’s smarmy smile takes a definite shit-eating edge, “But looking leads to touching.” He even goes as far as to wiggle his eyebrows as he says it. Except he’s kinda shit at it so it just looks like he’s lost control of his facial muscles.

The point, the incredibly stupid point, still gets across. “See if I ever let you touch me again,” Kageyama mutters, trying his best to not look at Hinata. Which is harder than it should be because the shrimp is pointedly walking in front of Kageyama, doing his best to stay in his line of sight and getting in the way of literally everyone else on the sidewalk.

“You don’t mean that, Kageyama-kun!”

Kageyama really hates that he doesn’t mean it.



Xx


Most days dance practice is a draining affair. In a good way--the best way. Other times, when everyone seems to be hitting the right steps, catching each and every beat, it has the opposite effect and leaves them all with excess energy to burn.

On days like those Hinata and Kageyama head to the old mall in town. Its smaller than the new snazzy one built a few years ago, but it has a nice cozy arcade that doesn’t mind it (much) when the two of them get too rowdy on the DDR machine.

It might have something to do with one of the workers having the most obvious puppy dog crush on Hinata, going so far as to teach them her trick on getting the machines to give them back their yen coins. She’s cute, and relentlessly sweet.

She’s also saved them both a small fortune over the past year and half. Kageyama insists that’s a luxury that few can find. Hence, the mall, and the arcade in particular, have become his and Hinata’s usual haunt whenever they have excess energy to burn.

Today is no different, only with the added event of cheering Hinata up. With that in mind Kageyama lets him win in air hockey, but then resolves to kick his ass in DDR when Hinata rubs his victory in. And what Kageyama Tobio puts his mind to, he achieves.

Three near perfect songs later, Kageyama stands off to the side nursing a kinda disgusting smoothie from the food court as Hinata does his best to teach Puppy Crush the moves to a Vaporwave remix of Plastic Love. It’s disgustingly cute, and Kageyama finds immense joy in heckling Hinata when his attempts to be suave get glaringly obvious.

“Kageyama,” Hinata manages between heavy breathing--who’s idea was it to pick such a upbeat song on the hardest level? “Could you be anymore annoying?”

The person in question pulls his drink away from his mouth, expression exaggeratedly sweet. “Yup!” Kageyama chirps and then reaches out with his food to tap firmly at the back of Hinata’s knee, smile growing with the other’s knee buckles for just a second. It’s more than enough for 5 or so steps pass by unattended.

Hinata spares his best friend an irritated look over his shoulder, though it tempers some at the sight of Kageyama’s pleased smile. “You’re lucky we have such an unbreakable bond of friendship,” he grumbles under his breath.

Puppy Crush looks between the two of them, no doubt marvelling at how well Hinata treats his friends. What a pure soul. Too bad Hinata's a serial dater, rarely ever taking things too seriously. But that’s none of Kageyama’s business.

What is his business are the very pointed looks Puppy Crush is sending him. She keeps glancing over her shoulder, looking for all intents and purposes like she wants Kageyama’s drink to explode all over him so he can have some reason to go far, far away

After the third or fourth time, Kageyama can no longer hide his amusement at her not so subtle desire to be alone with Hinata. “Um, I think I need to go...to the bathroom?” The statement comes out more as a question, but Puppy Crush nods encouragingly so Kageyama figures he’s done a good enough job.

Hinata’s still engrossed on beating his high score, so he just waves in acknowledgment over his shoulder. Hopefully this time can be used for either Puppy Crush to confess her feelings so they can have their thirty-one days of bliss, or for Hinata to finally rebuff her for good.

Not wanting to stick around to watch the two of them blunder, Kageyama heads out of the arcade in the direction of the food court. As he’s leaving a flood of middle-school aged girls are coming in, chatting and giggling--totally not caring that they’re in the way.

Which is why the moment he emerges from the throng of people he bumps chest first into someone. The green, nasty-looking smoothie Kageyama’s been nursing for the past twenty minutes actually does explode, sloshing all over the floor.

At least it didn’t explode all over his face or clothes like Puppy Crush probably originally intended it to.

“Well, shit,” Kageyama mutters to himself, more out of shock than anything else. The person he bumped into steps closer with a smile Kageyama doesn’t really care for.

“None of it got on you did it?” the guy asks. Kageyama thinks he should be more worried about his oddly fancy looking shoes. It clicks then. The dress shoes. The dark colored blazer and crest on the lapel. This guy attends one of the most prestigious schools in the precinct (the very one Kageyama applied to when he first moved in hopes of joining their dance team, and was rejected from due to the fact that he hasn’t been getting top scores since he was conceived).

All things considered, it’s more of a wonder why the guy hasn’t started yelling yet. Aren’t the rich types all supposed to be bratty?

Rich guy reaches out to touch Kageyama’s elbow when the other doesn’t immediately respond. “I wasn’t watching where I was going, are you okay? Do you want me to get you another one?”

“It tasted bad,” Kageyama mumbles, uncomfortable with the persistent attention. Not for the first time he wishes there was a polite way to say “Get your fucking hands off of me.”

Oblivious to Kageyama’s unease, the other begins to lay it on even thicker. “I’ve never seen you around before. I wish I had. You’re...you’re really pretty,” he breathes, and something in Kageyama’s stomach drops.

This shit. You’d think his height and the resting bitch face Kageyama takes so much pride in would be more than enough to deter any of these encounters from happening, but alas.

Kageyama forces himself to say thank you. Moreso in the interest of ending the interaction as peacefully and quickly as possible rather than politeness. His unease is apparently mistaken for bashful appreciation, that or this guy is just shit at reading the mood.

Unwilling to stick around and find out the answer, he pulls away with a, “Um, I have to go.” Kageyama doesn’t yet have a destination in mind, but he is certain that if he keeps being looked at like he’s a juicy piece a meat he might snap.

“Oh, so you’re playing hard to get,” the guy laughs, drags Kageyama closer by the arm. “I like that.”

“I am not playing ,” Kageyama insists as he wrenches his arm free none too gently. His strength, and firm rebuttal seem to take the other off guard. But instead of taking all the signs for what they’re worth, Mr. Rich and Utterly Dumb comes closer yet again with a smirk a few degrees short of salacious.

Before Kageyama can be insulted any further, another person is sliding up to them. “Sorry I’m late!” the newcomer says, voice full of cheer. Kageyama assumes the greeting isn’t meant for him, so he startles some when a gentle yet firm arm winds around his shoulder and pulls him close. “My evening class ended late. I didn’t keep you waiting for too long did I?”

He’s doubly surprised to look down and find Sugawara-san smiling brightly up at him. Sugawara nods pointedly, and eventually it finally clicks that Kageyama is meant to play along. “You did,” Kageyama says without thinking. “I mean--It was a long time, but that’s okay.”

The twitching of Sugawara’s lips are born of genuine amusement at Kageyama’s blundering. “Aww, my boyfriend is so sweet,” he coos, before turning to the, now totally dumbfounded, rich idiot. “So who’s your friend?”

His words are friendly, but his gaze is anything but. Based on appearances alone, Kageyama had assumed there wasn’t a threatening bone in Sugawara’s body. But now...

“I was just--leaving.” Rich Stranger says hurriedly. He bows to Sugawara in an apology for bothering his “boyfriend”. No such apology is given to Kageyama , the person who was actually harassed.

Kageyama watches the creep leave, a familiar anger growing in his gut. A giant part of him wants to throw Sugawara’s hand off of him and chase the guy down and berate him, maybe body slam him for good measure. He hates this. Hates that assholes like that will only leave him alone once they’re under the impression that he already “belongs” to someone else. Like his opinions and feelings don’t matter.

“It’s okay,” Sugawara says, voice calm as he shuffles around to stand in front of Kageyama. “It’s frustrating to deal with people like that, I know.”

Usually Kageyama would find even more irritation in such blanket statements. He doesn’t want to be placated, he wants to knock the teeth out of the person who decided omegas were somehow beneath everyone else. There’s something honest and trustworthy about Sugawara, his calming aura making it impossible for Kageyama to misplace his anger for too long.

Closing his eyes, Kageyama heaves a deep sigh. “I just hate...that alphas only leave me alone when they think I’m already claimed.”

Sugawara makes a sympathetic noise. “Tell me about it. I spent the first year at my job trying to fend off this one guy. He was convinced I wasn’t a beta--what? Like I don’t know my own fucking body. Wasn’t until another new guy stepped in and pretended we were...together that he stopped.”

By now Sugawara’s has subtly begun to steer Kageyama towards the food court with the intention of sitting down and calming down fully. The younger allows himself to be towed, much more interested in the telltale flush of embarrassment spreading across Sugawara’s cheeks at the mention of this coworker.

The gossip in Kageyama is intrigued…



Xx



“I can’t believe you ditched me!” Hinata yells twenty minutes later, stomping his way towards Kageyama’s table. He looks about as dangerous as a rampaging Pomeranian. “You’ve been gone for-- Huh?”

Standing there mouth agape, Hinata glances from his best friend to Sugawara no less than twenty times.

Kageyama rolls his eyes. What a drama queen.

“Hi?” Sugawara tries, pulling out a seat so that Hinata can plop down. “Good to see you again.”

The shrimp continues to gape. “So….you two know each other?”

“No. Sugawara-san he. He uh, helped me earlier. Some creep was getting too handsy and he helped get rid of ‘em. Don’t!” Here Kageyama has to practically leap across the table to prevent Hinata from jumping up and running off to maul said creep.

“Fine. Fine. Have it your way,” Hinata sighs as he sits back down, pretending to be a lot more soothed than he actually is. Sugawara pats him on the shoulder placatingly. “So you’ve been here the whole time? Making new friends for the first time in forever and leaving me at the hands of Puppy Crush?”

It’s obvious by the tone of Hinata’s voice and the panicked look he sends over his shoulder back in the direction of the arcade, that things did not go well. Both Kageyama and Sugawara sigh, despondent.

“So her confession didn’t go over well,” Sugawara muses, rubbing his chin thoughtfully while Kageyama shakes his head with exaggerated disappointment. He hopes Hinata at least had the decency to let the girl down easily; to lose their favorite hangout spot due to awkwardness would really put a dent in things.

Hinata sighs like some wounded 19th century maiden with besmirched honor, arm slung over his eyes as he exaggeratedly slumps back in his chair. “It didn’t go well at all ,” he moans, wisely ignoring how Kageyama has oh-so-obviously spilled the Puppy Crush beans to Sugawara. “We can’t come back here for as long as we live.”

“You’re the most melodramatic person on the planet,” Kageyama says with another roll of his eyes.

“You can’t even spell melodramatic, Bakageyama!”

As relatively new Sugawara is to the chaos that is Kageyama and Hinata’s friendship, he’s seen more than enough to know that another hour long bickering match is on the way. “Before you fight may I say something?” he interjects with his hand raised. “I have an evening meeting in a few hours and I don’t want to be late.”  

The other two glance at each briefly in confusion, glancing away just as quickly to nod in agreement.

Sugawara steeples his fingers, looking suddenly serious. “Honestly, it wasn’t just a coincidence that I ended up here to help you, Kageyama-kun. I actually wanted to scout you. Both of you.”

“Scout?” Hinata parrots. “Like Boy Scouts.” Kageyama very audibly facepalms.

“Not exactly...How do I explain it? Well, we uselessly acquire talent in two ways: either through the open auditions or one of us hard working talent scouts will discover hopeful talent in the city and recruit them that way.”

Kageyama can’t help but to sneak a glance at Hinata, who has finally begun to understand the opportunity potentially being offered to him. His eyes are gleaming with the sort of excitement that’s normally reserved for Natsu or the rare moments when Kageyama is nice to him.

“Of course it’s totally possible to become an idol through an open audition,” Sugawara continues to explain. “But things are a bit easier when you’re backed by a recommendation of a scout or trusted advisor.” He smiles. “You should thank Ukai. He had nothing but good things to say about your skills.”

“Ukai did?” Hinata sputters in disbelief. “He barely ever gives us compliments during class. It’s just stuff like ‘You need to be more diligent with your form! There’s no room for sloppy dancing here!’.”

The surprisingly passable imitation of Ukai has Sugawara laughing just a bit. “Yeah he can be pretty strict but he cares a lot more than he lets on. So what do you say? You’ll still have to formally audition, but--”

Hinata can no longer hold his tongue, leaping to his feet as he yells. “Okay! I mean--yes. I mean…? Yes.” A coherent answer doesn’t actually leave his mouth, but the way Hinata’s thrown himself onto the table to thank Sugawara over and over again get his point across.

“What about you, Kageyama-kun? You in?”

Immediately Hinata’s head is whipping around to stare at him, eyes ablaze. Kageyama pauses for a moment. It’s only just now dawning on him that when Sugawara said both of them he meant both of them.

Blinking, Kageyama realizes that he’s being stared at, both Hinata and Sugawara waiting with anticipation on his answer. “I-I’ve never thought about being an idol honestly,” he admits eventually.

It feels weird. Being presented with a once in a lifetime opportunity and not knowing how to feel about it. How many other people would kill to be in his place right now? What if--

“It’s okay,” Sugawara says with another gentle smile. He’s echoing the reassurance he gave Kageyama earlier, and for the second time Kageyama wonders how someone so kindhearted ended up in the entertainment business. “You don’t have to make your decision right now! Auditions aren’t for another month so everyone can get their routines together. Here’s my business card you can call me when you’re ready.”

A blue laminated business card is being slid into his hands, and for a moment Kageyama just stares at it. The weight of what this could bring slowly settling in on him. “I think I need to talk to my mom,” he deadpans after a moment.

“What a momma’s boy,” Hinata sneers with faux disgust.

“Shut up, Shōyō.”