“Hi.” Hinata said, and the unimpressed eyebrow raise he received from his boyfriend came as no surprise.
This was, admittedly, not his best moment, lying as he was in the infirmary bed with no one to blame but his own recklessness. And he realized, belatedly, that he might just be making things worse simply by opening his mouth.
“Are you actually stupid?” Kageyama asked, and Hinata would’ve felt indignant at the genuinely wondering undertone in the setter’s voice if he weren’t currently so nervous for the no-doubt vicious talking-to he was about to be given. He tried to sit up a little as Kageyama carried on, “Or maybe there is a good reason why you suddenly decided to run yourself to the ground a week before a match?”
Any particular reason you decided to make yourself utterly useless to me, is what Hinata heard and a simmer of irritation began to form inside of him.
“Did coach tell you I was here?” he asked, and couldn’t help how snappy he sounded, how tired. Both him and Kageyama were notorious for having one track minds, but Hinata could also be very petty when hurt or cornered, and he’d been fixated on the idea of his inferiority to Kageyama for weeks now, old insecurities and fears clouding his better judgement. If Kageyama could feel the edge in his voice, he didn’t comment on it.
“No.” Kageyama answered, drawing the word out, and the Eyebrow Raise of Judgement was back. “I found out from Tsukishima, who stormed into the gym, panicked because he’d caught you fainting in the changing room. He was also the one who got you here.”
Hinata flushed with embarrassment. He and Tsukishima had grown pretty close over summer, and he didn’t want to think about what sort of explanation he’d have to give to appease the taller middle blocker for worrying everyone because of his recklessness. If anything he was glad the rest of the team hadn’t come barging in to check up on him yet – coach Ukai had stayed true to his word on holding everyone back for at least a while until Hinata was discharged. And he’d proved mostly successful but for the glowering boy at his bedside.
Hinata could feel a headache coming.
“Look, I’m fine, aren’t I?” Hinata said, trying for his best reasonable tone of voice, but probably sounding annoyed anyway. “Nothing serious happened. And there’s no need to make such a big deal out of this.”
Kageyama spluttered, incredulous.
“No need to – you really are an idiot!” Kageyama all but yelled before catching himself and where he was and reigning in his voice, “You do realize that Tsukishima wouldn’t have even come across you had he not decided to show up earlier than usual today, right? That you would’ve probably lied there for another half an hour before anyone came to practice? And I wouldn’t have even known because you wouldn’t answer your damn phone – “
“Well, I’m sorry, okay!?” Hinata yelled back and cringed inwardly as his voice echoed throughout the empty room, but at least Kageyama looked equally taken aback by his sudden outburst. Good. “I know I messed up but you don’t have to keep rubbing it in! It’s not like I meant to do it! And I’m gonna be back to normal soon so you don’t need to worry.”
“Of course I need to worry, you dumbass!” Kageyama all but hissed at him and Hinata was surprised to hear traces of hurt in his voice. But then again it wasn’t altogether surprising, Hinata thought. Volleyball meant everything to Kageyama after all. “How can I not worry when apparently my stupid boyfriend’s been skipping meals and overworking himself and blacking out in the middle of the day and I find out about all of this from Tsukishima of all people!”
Kageyama’s indignation could be understood, for unlike Hinata, his relationship with Tsukishima had grown to a level of mutual tolerance at worst and a begrudging partnership on the court at best. But even if Kageyama’s fury was somewhat justified, Hinata was so not up for it at the moment.
“Look,” Hinata started, begrudgingly trying for a more placating approach. “I really am fine. The nurse did say it’s nothing a full meal and a good night’s rest won’t fix. It’s not gonna affect my play next week, I promise. So you don’t need to make such a fuss over it.”
A beat of silence.
“What.” Kageyama said flatly, face blank.
“What?” Hinata echoed, confused.
“What are you talking about?” Kageyama burst, hands flailing around in utter exasperation, “Who said anything about the ma – what do you think I’m trying to say here, you dumbass!”
Now this was just getting ridiculous and Hinata felt himself grow increasingly confused and frustrated by the second.
“That I should be more careful and make sure I’m in my best shape for the game?” Hinata offered matter of factly. “Cause if I’m not I won’t be essential to winning.”
And you won’t toss to me anymore, went unsaid but he might as well have shouted it, for Kageyama actually flinched back as if struck.
Hinata’s own emotional crisis was not enough to distract him from the obvious pain showing on his boyfriend’s face, and angry or not, Hinata was not some heartless monster. He felt his own heart ache at the distraught look on Kageyama’s face and it was enough to make him forget the pointless argument they’d been circling through forever. He grunted in effort as he sat up more properly in bed and leaned towards the other.
“Kageyama,” Hinata called tentatively but urgently, not quite sure if his touch would be welcome at the moment, “Kageyama, what’s wrong?”
The longer Kageyama stayed silent, the more worried Hinata grew. The dark haired boy had his head tipped down and the only indication that he was not completely spaced out were his trembling hands, clenched into tight fists on his legs and the equally hard clench of his jaw.
Hinata was about to call out for him once more when Kageyama spoke, voice strangely low.
“Do you truly think that’s how our partnership works?” he said, and Hinata had to strain his hearing to actually catch the setter’s words. “No, scratch that – do you think so little of our relationship? Of me? Would I ever do that to you? Do you truly believe I’d just – just abandon you?” Kageyama asked and Hinata was horrified to hear the words catch wetly in Kageyama’s throat in what could only be an indication of the beginning of tears. “I’ve been worrying myself stupid over you, because you just started disappearing during lunch and were so obsessed during practices. I thought you were just trying to warm up after summer break so I didn’t say anything, cause you would’ve taken it the wrong way anyway, but then today you wouldn’t answer your phone and no one knew where you were and then stupid Tsukishima found you –“ he trailed off with a choked sound that nearly sent Hinata toppling off the bed in his haste to reach and comfort his boyfriend. He had no clue how the conversation had come to this, but Hinata, even in his state of utter confusion, had begun to fill with the dreadful realization that he might’ve massively fucked up.
Really, massively fucked up.
And with it came another horrifying outburst as Kageyama choked out a sob, so loud and so suddenly as he jerked his head up and slapped a hand over his mouth to try and stop it. “It’s my fault you fainted, isn’t it? Because you felt like you had to – had to prove yourself. I – I shouldn’t have gouded you into working harder. I just – I thought we were similar in what motivated us – I thought it was our thing. I should’ve never said a-anything to start with, should’ve never been so stupid –“
And Hinata could take no more of it. He swiftly got out of bed, immediately sliding onto his boyfriend’s lap who was openly crying now and cupping his flushed face.
“Tobio, no. It’s not you – it’s all me.” Hinata assured, finally coming to realize just how badly he’d misunderstood everything. He moved his fingers gently along Kageyama’s cheeks in a futile attempt to wipe the falling tears. Kageyama was shaking in his hold and Hinata was sure a physical punch to the gut would’ve hurt less than being the cause for the other boy’s suffering. “I just – I don’t know what’s gotten into me. I’m an idiot, I was just being an idiot, please don’t cry –“
“I don’t think you’re an idiot!” Kageyama hissed at him and then hid his face in his hands in an effort to calm his breathing. And it was a testament of just how far gone Hinata was for him that even in his boyfriend’s current state, ragged breaths and snot and everything he was still the most endearing thing to Hinata. Despite everything he felt his face soften into a fond smile.
“Really? Cause you called me an idiot like ten times since you came in.” Hinata said, voice teasing and soft as he ran his fingers soothingly through Kageyama’s hair. And the taller boy leaned into his touch for a moment before seeming to catch himself and lifting his head up. His eyes were red rimmed and puffy but dead serious as he put his hand over Hinata’s where it was still cupping his face.
“Hinata,” Kageyama said, sounding raspy and winded, “It’s not conditional. Us – what we have is not conditional. I would never.” He said and that foreign wounded thing was back in his voice, making Hinata realize that Kageyama’d never even been angry with him in the first place. That all of the frustration towards the whole situation had only ever been directed towards himself.
Hinata’s eyes began to sting all of a sudden, because of – because of, well, everything. The realization that he’d read his partner so wrong and inadvertently ended up hurting him. The relief of having his old doubts, the murky thoughts at the back of his mind, be soothed by Kageyama’s words. The shame of ever assuming that Kageyama of all people would’ve been capable of such cruelty. As if Tobio himself had not gone through the trauma of being left behind in the most painful way possible. As if he wasn’t struggling with the fear of accidentally driving the people that meant most to him away to this day.
“I know.” Hinata croaked out. “Gosh, Tobio, I know. I don’t actually think that, I promise. I just worked myself up over nothing and before I knew it I was back in first year with all those stupid insecurities.”
“I don’t think they’re stupid.” Kageyama interrupted, voice soft and this time he was the one to squeeze Hinata’s hands in a gesture of comfort. And he didn’t let go. “I’m – I’m sorry I wasn’t a more supportive partner back then. But even at my worst, I never meant any of those jabs at you. You must know that. I would’ve never left you behind.”
And it was as if an invisible weight had been lifted off Hinata’s chest and he could finally breathe freely again.
“What are you talking about,” Hinata said with a laugh even as tears started rolling down his face. “You’ve always been the best partner. I would’ve never got this far without you.”
Hinata didn’t miss the frantic look on Kageyama’s face as now he was the one attempting to wipe his boyfriend’s tears away. Hinata couldn’t help but laugh again and Kageyama only seemed to grow more panicked because of his reaction.
“That’s not true. You’re a hard-worker and stubborn as fuck. You would’ve figured it out without me.” Kageyama said seriously even as he was busy rubbing Hinata’s tears away with the sleeves of his own hoodie. “But I’m glad you didn’t. Because I have the most fun when I’m playing volleyball with you.”
Hinata beamed at him around another loud sniffle. Kageyama pulled a face but Hinata didn’t pay him any mind. “Really?”
“Yes, really.” Tobio said, drawing the smaller boy into his arms and if he felt Hinata sniffle against his shoulder again, he didn’t seem to mind much.
“Me too.” Hinata said, allowing himself to sag against Kageyama and for the first time truly feeling the exhaustion of the day catch up to him.
“Good.” Kageyama mumbled against his hair. “Cause we have a lot more growing to do. To the very top together, remember?”
“Yeah.” Hinata said quietly on a breath that felt punched out of him.
“You really needed to hear this, didn’t you?”
“Yeah.” Hinata said again and felt Kageyama sigh and tighten his arms around his waist protectively, pulling them even closer to each other.
“Seriously.” Tobio huffed and the relief and amusement were audible in his voice. “Gee, next time just talk to me when something is bothering you instead of landing yourself in the infirmary and getting help from Tsukishima of all people.”
And that surprised another fit of laughter out of him. Hinata knew his boyfriend well enough to know that he’d said the last bit on purpose to lighten the mood, but Hinata wouldn’t be Hinata if he didn’t wring the satisfaction of teasing Kageyama some more when the perfect opportunity presented itself.
“Say Kageyama-kun.” Hinata said lightly, throwing his arms around Kageyama’s neck, a move that immediately made the other boy blush. Gosh was he cute. And so, so easy to rile up. “You’re really annoyed about this, aren’t you? That Tsukishima was there to help me first, instead of you. Are you, by any chance, jealous?”
Hinata could barely hold back his smirk as the embarrassment on Kageyama’s face was immediately replaced with indignation.
“Jealous?” Kageyama spat the word, disgusted. “Why would I be jealous of that sneaky, no -good – mmph!”
And Hinata didn’t let him finish the rest of his furious rant as he swiftly tugged Kageyama to him and stole the rest of his words with his lips.