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the intern

Chapter Text

Hinata didn't like his co-intern. No, he definitely disliked him. When he was researching everything that went into an internship, nowhere did it mention a bad tempered, pretentious, judgey co-intern with black hair and a mean face that he'd have to deal with. And yet there he was, walking alongside Tanaka, their mentor, as he showed them around the office.

Already, Kageyama - a pretentious name, in Hinata's opinion - asked three questions about the working conditions without sparing Hinata a glance. and when Hinata tried to make conversation, Kageyama simply stared past him until he gave up and glowered in silence. If the guy wanted to be rivals from day one, Hinata would just need to learn how to tolerate it.

"And here's where you two will be working," Tanaka finished, gesturing to the cubicle in front of him. It contained a file cabinet, one desk, and two chairs. "They didn't tell me I was getting two interns, so you'll have to share the space. Sorry 'bout that. Don't worry, you guys are both small enough to fit." Tanaka laughed at his own joke, but neither Hinata nor Kageyama joined in. 

Then a thought occurred to Hinata. He raised his hand, causing Kageyama to roll his eyes, but he ignored him and waited to get Tanaka's attention.

"Yes, Hinata?"

"This is a paid internship, right? So if you didn't know that you'd be getting two interns, does that mean we'll have to split the pay that they set aside for us?"

Tanaka thought about it for a moment, glancing at his interns, who were standing as far apart as humanly possible. Finally, he said, "Uh, I didn't think about it before. But you know what? You're right. You probably will have to split the pay."

Hinata and Kageyama groaned in unison, each staring at the other out of the corners of their eyes. Hinata didn't know exactly how much he was supposed to get, but he definitely didn't want to split it with this guy. Whoever he was, he looked and sounded like he came from money anyway.

Tanaka continued, scratching his head. "But it wouldn't be fair if you guys had to split it evenly if one of you was doing more work. So I'll set up a system here, where whoever does more work gets paid the bigger portion each week. If you guys do more work than expected, the pot will raise, and you'll be able to earn more. Sound good?"

His words lit a fire in Hinata's eyes, and he turned to face Kageyama head on for the first time since they reached the cubicle. He could see a matching blaze deep inside of him as well. But however hungry Kageyama was to prove himself, he couldn't match up to Hinata. Because Hinata was starving for it.

More competition for me. Awesome.

 

"I'll leave you two to set up your things," Tanaka said quickly, sensing the tension in the air. Neither of them noticed that he left until minutes later, still locked in a staring contest of sorts. Finally, Kageyama looked away, placing his box of stuff on the desk next to the computer.

"You don't need to bother unpacking your things, because I'm obviously going to be better than you," he said before Hinata could do anything. It took Hinata a moment to recover from the shock of the statement, but once he shook it off, he was furious.

"Hey! Says who? I'm gonna do twice the amount of work that you do. I'll be so efficient, they won't even need a second intern!"

"Oh yeah? I'll do five times the amount of work that you do. You'll get pennies compared to what I earn."

"Don't be an idiot. I'll show you tomorrow just how hard I can beat you."

"We'll just have to see tomorrow, then. And don't call me an idiot, dumbass."

Hinata had a retort on the tip of his tongue when a new face entered the cubicle. He was tall, with brown hair and a kind face, although Hinata could see it getting stern pretty quickly. Whatever response he was thinking of died in his head.

"Tanaka told me to check in on you guys for him. I'm Sawamura Daichi, Tanaka's boss. This here's my intern, Tsukishima," the man said, shaking both of their hands. Hinata secretly took pride in the fact that he shook his hand first.

Another man walked into the cubicle, lacking the friendly air that Daichi carried with him. He was blond, with thick glasses wrapped around his face, and his sneer activated Hinata's fight or flight reflex. The contrast between Daichi's affability and Tsukishima's mocking air was almost jarring. Hinata hated him instantly, even more than Kageyama (if that was possible). And that was before he even opened his mouth.

"If they're Tanaka's interns, and you're Tanaka's boss, does that make me their boss?" Tsukishima asked, almost jeering. He was talking to Daichi, but Hinata could tell it was directed at them. "I'm sure I can make use of them somehow, even if they do seem a little bent out of shape. The King's here, after all. That has to count for something." He gestured to Kageyama, then did a little bow. The sneer on his face never faltered.

Hinata didn't know why he was calling Kageyama "the king", but he could see him bristling out of the corner of his eye. Hinata was on edge himself, so he couldn't focus on that detail at the moment, but he made a mental note to revisit it later.

Daichi seemed oblivious to the chill that appeared in the air, and apparently found the whole interaction amusing.

"Tsukishima, don't mess with them on their first day," he chuckled, slapping him on the shoulder lightly. He then turned to face the two of them and said, "Don't worry, he has no authority over you. In fact, you'll probably see him around a good amount while you're interning here."

Less comforting words have never been spoken.

Tsukishima scowled for a second, then his smirk returned. "Hopefully. I look forward to interacting with you again, King. You too, Shrimp." The two of them left with a wave, Daichi's nothing but sunshine and Tsukishima's dripping with contempt. Hinata didn't return it, which was highly out of character for him, but he was frozen in place.

He waited until they were out of eye shot before sinking down in one of the chairs, shivering. "Man, you know what? You're kind of hard to tolerate, Kageyama, but I really don't like that guy Tsukishima." 

"It's a weird feeling to agree with you on something, but I feel the exact same way," Kageyama agreed. The two of them basked in the weird glow of getting along for about two minutes before Hinata decided to ask the question weighing on his mind.

"So why did he call you the king? Did you dress as one for Halloween or something? It's sort of a weird thing to call someone you just met."

Kageyama's face tensed up again, and he almost flinched at the nickname. "Never call me that. Ever. I don't know where he learned it, but I'll kick his ass for it later."

"But why? What's it to you?" Hinata wasn't trying to aggravate him for once; he was just curious. Kageyama looked like he was going to blow a fuse, though, and absolutely furious was not a good look on him.

"I've known you for what, an hour? Two? Does it really make a difference if you drop the topic? I can't believe they stuck me with someone who doesn't seem to know  anything."

Now Hinata was angry too. He worked damn hard in college to get where he was, getting advice from anyone he could ask, and he wasn't going to be pushed down by some pretentious asshole who definitely didn't have any friends, for good reason, too.

"Hey! You don't have to lash out at me for something someone else did. Is this your first time talking to a human being? Show some decency, King. Unless this peasant is too far below you for you to acknowledge."

"You little-"

Of course, right at the climax of their fight, Tanaka entered again, holding two large stacks of files.

"These need to be alphabetized into your file cabinet," he said, and almost stumbled backwards when Kageyama and Hinata charged at him, grabbing the folders from his arms.

"First one to finish wins!" Hinata shouted, spreading them out on the floor. "Let's see who's really the best one here."

"I'm already ahead of you, dumbass," Kageyama responded, not looking up from his pile on the desk. "If this is what you learned in college, then you might as well not have gone."

"Prove it, idiot."

"Make me, stupid."

Tanaka saw himself out, snickering to himself. His new interns would provide a lot of entertainment, at least, even if they weren't that productive. And when they finished a few minutes later, begging him for more work, well, how could he deny them that joy?

 "Man, these new interns are wild!" he said later that night, nursing a beer at the bar with Daichi. "I swear, it looked like they wanted to eat each other alive."

Daichi nodded, grinning a little as he remembered his stop by their cubicle. "I still can't believe you told them they'd have to split their pay based on how much work they did. They really fell for that?"

"Yeah, plus it gets them to work harder. And that's the ultimate goal, right? They'll find out soon enough on payday."

"I guess so. You do what works for you. Just don't push them too hard."

Tanaka found that funniest of all. "Me? I don't push them at all! They push each other, and that's why they work so hard. They did a weeks worth of filing today between the two of them. As long as they motivate each other, I think I have the best interns in the office."

He only found out much later just how right he really was.

"Besides," he continued, taking a sip. "At least my interns aren't assholes like yours is."

"Tsukishima is a work in progress," Daichi admitted. "Still, I think he just has a couple of rough edges I can help him smooth out. Then he'll be perfect."

"Alright, cap, if you say so..."

"I know so. And don't call me cap!"

Tanaka laughed, finishing his beer. He would've ordered another one, but he decided it would be much more rational to deal with his two interns with a clear head. He'd need every ounce of concentration he had. 

 

Chapter Text

Contrary to Tanaka's previous beliefs, it took only 4 days for him to become annoyed with Kageyama and Hinata's bickering.

"Kageyama, please put the stapler down. You can't staple Hinata to a wall just for bothering you."

"Hinata, give Kageyama back his chair. I know you hid it somewhere."

"For the love of god, Kageyama, put Hinata down and get away from the window!" It felt like babysitting a couple of vindictive toddlers, and Tanaka never wanted kids less than in that moment. 

He had hoped that they would settle down with time, but evidently, it would take a bit of intervention. And for that, Tanaka had to call in some outside forces.

"You two! Listen up," Daichi said on Friday morning, standing before the two of them. Tanaka stood to the side, staring at his nails. Angry Daichi™ was scary - not that he'd admit it - even to a bystander. The two interns sat at their sides of the desk, separated by a curtain, courtesy of Tanaka's own inspiration. "You guys have to learn to work together."

"Why?" Kageyama asked, crossing his arms petulantly. "I'm doing my work perfectly well on my own."

"Ditto," Hinata said, copying his posture without even looking at him. For the five billionth time that week, Tanaka wanted to point out to them just how similar they really were. But he didn't want to start another argument, especially with Daichi in the room.

Daichi looked up at the ceiling, continuing his speech. "As you probably know, this building is owned by a larger company, which owns many businesses in the area. At the end of the year, they measure up how much raw work each building did throughout the year. And whichever building wins this sort of competition, gets a major bonus to every employee in the building. It's kind of a big deal here." 

He didn't miss the glow that entered both of their eyes when he said the word "competition". He continued talking before Hinata could raise his hand - as he was prone to doing - and unload a barrage of questions.

"At the rate that you guys are going at, you'll finish all of the building's file work today. Then will come harder projects, ones that require multiple people. I could split them up between the two of you, but it'll be a lot more efficient if you can work together without trying to throw someone out a window." He directed that one towards Kageyama, who barely managed to avoid rolling his eyes.

"Tanaka gave you many chances to get along, but you failed each one. Therefore, as his boss, and your mega boss, it's my responsibility to enforce our policies against workroom brawls. I'm going to give you a powerpoint assignment to do. You'll have all of next week to do it, but if you don't finish by Friday, you'll have to face the repercussions."

He paused for dramatic effect, waiting for someone to ask what the punishment was. Finally, Hinata gave in.

"What are the repercussions?"

"I'm glad you asked." Daichi smiled for a second before returning to his stern expression. "If the project isn't completed in time, then Kageyama will switch offices, and be forced to work with Tsukishima for the remainder of his time here."

"You've gotta be kidding me," Kageyama said immediately, while Hinata asked, "What about me?"

Daichi ignored Hinata and addressed the other intern head on. "When Oikawa sent you to work here, he told me specifically that you're unable to work with other people. I can't have someone like that working under me, even with all of your talent, so if you can't work with Hinata, you'll just have to learn to work with Tsukishima. And something tells me you wouldn't prefer that."

He turned to leave, then stopped in his tracks. "One more thing. I'll be assigning the same project to Tsukishima and another intern in the building you haven't met yet. Let's just say you want to be better than them. I'll be using the superior powerpoint in a presentation to my bosses, who are your ultra-mega bosses. People who you want to impress, in other words. Good luck."

On that ominous note, he left the room, whistling as he walked.

All three of them were stunned into silence, but Tanaka recovered first. "Ok, you heard him. I have to get back to my other work, but try to start planning out how you'll do this. If you need my help with something, you can just stop by and ask. I assume you'll behave a little better this afternoon, given the circumstances."

He exited the room, leaving just Hinata and Kageyama fuming in their places.

"Why're you angry?" Kageyama asked, curiosity eating at him despite his own rage. "You're not being punished. You don't have anything to lose."

"I don't like being ignored," Hinata huffed. "Why are you getting all of the attention? We're both just interns." He shoved the curtain to the side temporarily. He didn't like not being able to see the face of the person he was arguing with.

"I have more experience, so they value me more," he said without a second thought. "This is your first internship, right? Well I worked at this company before. Different building, though." 

Hinata was floored. "How can you just say it like that? We're supposed to be trying to get along! Do you want to go work with Tsukishima?"

"Hell no," Kageyama said automatically. "I'm not trying to pick a fight. I was just being honest." 

Hinata studied his face, then laughed in disbelief. "You're serious. How were you able to work in this company for a year without picking up any social skills? At least when I'm infuriating it's on purpose, King. Did they keep you in solitary confinement the whole time?"

He had taken to calling Kageyama "King" at basically any opportunity, which pissed Kageyama off double, since he didn't even know the reason he got the nickname in the first place. He was just trying to piss him off, and damn it, it was working. 

This time, though, Kageyama considered his future with the company. He didn't want to be kicked out of another VB-owned building. Something told him that wouldn't look good on his resume.

Instead of blowing up, Kageyama asked, "If I tell you the story of why they called me the King, do you swear not to call me that ever again?" Hinata's curiosity overcame his rage, and he nodded quickly. "Alright then. I'll begin."

Kageyama thought it would be hard to start the story, but the beginning wasn't the part that got to him. "In the Kitagawa building-"

"Oh, I've read about them! They're one of the most efficient buildings in the company, right?"

Kageyama glared at him for interrupting, but nodded. "As I was saying, when I interned there last year, my mentor was Oikawa. Everybody called him the Great King because he could bring out the best in everyone he worked with and maximized their efficiency. I idolized him, so naturally I kissed a lot of ass. When I worked with people, I used to boss them around, because no one worked as hard as I did, and it pissed me off. Some people called me a dictator, but most settled for a different nickname. The Little King, which later just shortened to the King."

Kageyama said all of this like it was nothing, but he still felt the sting of their glares and whispers just loud enough for him to hear. Who does he think he is, talking to us like that? No one will ever follow him like they follow Oikawa. He might as well just give up and crawl into a ditch. Nobody would care if he left.

"One day," he continued with a deep breath, "I took on a big project, too big for one person to handle. As the deadline approached, I asked around to see if anyone would help me complete it. It, uh, didn't work out. The project flopped, and Oikawa recommended that I transfer to a different building where 'my potential would be better reached'. And that brings us to now, I guess."

For once, Hinata was at a loss for words. Kageyama's expression stayed wistful for a second, then morphed into annoyance. "Stop looking at me like that. You're just as pitiable as I am."

"I... didn't know," Hinata said, opting to ignore his biting words. "I almost feel bad for fighting with you all the time."

"Almost?"

"Well, you are kind of an ass..."

"Now who's tactless?!"

Hinata stopped the arguing this time, standing up from his desk. "We're not allowed to fight anymore, remember? So let's work on this project, ace it, and then we can get back to seeing who's the best, ok?"

"If you say so." Kageyama turned on the computer with one swift motion, logging into his email. "How much do you know about making a powerpoint?"

"Oh, lots! I had to make a ton of them while I was in college." He showed him a couple of his best ones from Google Slides, but Kageyama didn't look impressed in the slightest.

"I mean an actual powerpoint. You know, Microsoft?" When Hinata stared at him blankly, he sighed. "I thought that was a requirement to get any business internship, but I guess not. I'll finish our project for us then, I suppose."

Hinata was furious. "The whole point of this project is so that we'll learn how to work together! You can't always do everything yourself."

"Then you better learn to be useful," Kageyama responded, looking him right in the eye. "Once you can reach my level, then you can help."

The words echoed around Hinata's head as he stomped out of the cubicle, beelining to Tanaka's workspace.

Reach his level? He really does have a royalty complex! Man, if we weren't under such scrutiny I'd-

"Hey, Hinata! What's with the grumpy face? You two fighting already?" Tanaka asked, spinning around in his chair. Hinata decided not to throw Kageyama under the bus for once.

"No, it's not that. I need to learn how to use Microsoft Powerpoint in order to help with our project. Do you think you could teach me?"

"No can do, buddy," he said, leaning back. "My workload is too backed up to help you. I do know someone else who can take you under their wing, though. Cubicle 26. Ask for Sugawara Koushi."

"Thank you, sir!" Hinata exclaimed, and Tanaka laughed.

"Nobody calls me sir. I kind of like it, though. Get to your work!" 

Hinata followed the cubicle numbers until he reached 26. He peered inside to see a man with ash grey hair squinting at a computer. Despite his hair color, he looked only a few years older than Hinata himself.

"Um, excuse me? Is Sugawara Koushi here?"

The man turned to face Hinata, and Hinata was surprised to see that he was grinning.

"That's me," he said, pointing to himself. "What can I do for you?"

"I need to learn how to use Microsoft Powerpoint by the end of next week. Do you think you can help me?"

Sugawara whistled low, eyes wide. "A week, huh? Usually the training courses take at least two to really master it."

"Alright then. Thank you for-"

"That means you'll have to work extra hard. Do you think you're up for it?" Sugawara couldn't have phrased it better.

"Definitely. Thank you, Sugawara-san."

"No problem. We'll start on Monday. And please, call me Suga."

 

Chapter Text

Hinata's Microsoft training montage wasn't nearly as exciting as he thought it would be.

"You mean I have to do all of that just to add an animation?" he asked Suga when they met during lunch on Monday. "It's ridiculous!"

"No one ever said it would be easy," Suga responded sagely. "You do want to work on this project with Kageyama, right? If it's too much for you, they can probably give you more paperwork to do."

"Of course! I want him to stop looking down on me. I just wish there was an easier way to accomplish that."

"Hate to break it to you, but when Daichi sets his mind to something, he's as stubborn as an ox about it."

"How do you know Daichi?"

"We work on projects together, so I'd say we're like you and Kageyama, except we don't jump at each others throats. He's my best bud! Also my coworker."

His expression said there was something more to that, but Hinata didn't call him out on it. He didn't want to pick a fight with everyone in the office.

"Oh, that makes sense," he opted to say, and he could've sworn that Suga's ears perked up.

"Why, did he mention me at some point?" he asked, feigning nonchalance. Hinata hesitated, then nodded. White lies never hurt anyone, right?

"Can you show me how to insert a link again?" Suga complied, pointing something out on the laptop, and Hinata tried to cram it all into his brain. If he wanted to be the best, he had a lot of stuff to do.

 

Kageyama, for the record, was not eavesdropping. That wasn't something up and coming business-people did. No, he just happened to stumble upon whatever Hinata and this other guy were doing while he was getting a drink from the vending machine.

And if he stuck around a little longer than necessary, who could blame him? Usually, he and Hinata ate their lunches together in silence back in the cubicle.

Evidently, that wouldn't be the case anymore, and Kageyama wasn't upset, exactly, but he was curious.

"You found the insert textbox part?" he heard the grey haired guy say, and Hinata responded, "Yeah, right here. I think this slide is done. Can you check it over?"

There's no way he's studying how to make a powerpoint now, Kageyama thought to himself. It's lunch. But lo and behold, when he peered around the corner - although peered made it sound like he was spying, which he was not - he found the two of them hunched over a computer.

Does he really want to work on the project that much? I told him I can finish it myself. Idiot.

Still, a warm feeling settled in Kageyama's stomach. No one had every actually wanted to work with him before.

He quietly made his way back to the building, sipping his milk. He wasn't going to ask Hinata about it, but he was a little intrigued to see how quickly he learned.

The next few days followed as such: Kageyama worked on the project while Hinata skulked around on his own laptop. During lunch, Hinata would disappear, and Kageyama would check on his when he went to the vending machine. Discreetly, of course; he didn't want Hinata to know that he was actually interested in something he did. And their afternoons were more of the same.

They didn't fight much, since they were both busy with their own tasks, but every so often Kageyama would tell him to shut up (Hinata was a loud typer and frequently muttered to himself as he wrote), or Hinata would ask Kageyama to help (which was always denied). Besides that, their interactions were few and far between.

Finally, on Friday morning, Hinata decided he was prepared enough to make a final request to help. Kageyama wasn't surprised, having heard something similar from the other guy the day before - Suga, he heard Hinata call him - but still objected to it.

"It's been a week. How much could you have improved?" he asked. He had yet to see any of the work that Hinata had been working so hard on.

"Just give me a section of the assignment and I'll show you how much I grew."

"That's not how I operate. I need concrete evidence that you know what you're doing. It's my ass on the line, not yours."

Hinata sulked, but pulled out his laptop, typing furiously. He swelled with pride as he pulled up his practice powerpoint, which he wrote about penguins (hey, Suga said he could make it on whatever he wanted).

Kageyama tried not to look shocked at how professional it appeared. There were a couple of errors, but nothing major jumped out at him.

"Pretty good," he said off-handedly, leaning back in his chair.

Hinata was torn between being proud of his work and outraged at Kageyama's reaction. "That's it?"

"Well, it's your first presentation. If you want, I can correct it for you and then tell you it's perfect."

"No, I'm good," Hinata scowled, sinking down in his chair. "Guess that means you're not gonna let me work on the project, huh."

This wasn't the rage filled determination that Kageyama knew. This was a dejected shell of Hinata's former self, and it made him weirdly uncomfortable.

"I never said that," he said, looking up at the ceiling. "If you want to work on this - which you shouldn't, by the way, it's completely taxing on your sanity - then I can find something small for you to do."

"Really? Whatever you give me, I'll ace it."

"Ok. Make sure all of the fonts are the same size. Thank you."

"What?! I could've done that last week! Give me something that needs a little bit of thought."

"Don't push it."

"Maybe I can do the transitions..."

"I didn't even think you knew what transitions were."

"You saw my powerpoint!"

In the end, they decided that Hinata would do fonts, transitions, and citations, since the bulk of the content was already finished. He was practically shaking with excitement as he typed.

A real assignment! I'm gonna blow Kageyama away.

Forty five minutes later, he rolled over to Kageyama's side, laptop in tow.

"Done with that. What else is there to do?"

Kageyama narrowed his eyes. "Let me see that. There's no way you did everything in less than an hour."

Hinata had full confidence that he did it properly, but allowed Kageyama to triple check his work.

"Anything wrong so far?" he asked innocently. "I didn't mess up the fonts, did I?"

"Not as far as I can tell," Kageyama sniffed, handing back his laptop. "I'll give you something else to do so you'll stop bouncing around like that. You're giving me anxiety."

Hinata didn't realize he was on the edge of his chair until he said that, and scooted backwards a few inches. "Whatever you have, send it over here."

Together, they finished the project by lunchtime. Kageyama went through it a few times, obsessively fact checking, but even he couldn't find any flaw in it. He looked up to find Hinata sitting next to him, lunch box in hand.

"You're eating lunch here today?" he asked, pretending to be intrigued. As far as Hinata knew, he had no clue where he went every break.

"Oh, right! I'll be back here for lunch from now on. I'm done with... what I was doing."

"Which was?"

"Nothing important, don't worry about it."

Hinata's cheeks were starting to redden, and Kageyama decided to spare him the grief of having to say that he spent every lunch break practicing his powerpoint-making skills.

"Whatever. Let's just eat."

Hinata got through half of his sandwich before a thought occurred to him. "Hey, does that mean you were eating alone here every day? That probably got lonely."

"Don't be an idiot. If I was lonely, I'd go out to eat. Besides, I got a lot of work done."

"Working through lunch? Man, you're such a workaholic."

Kageyama was going to call him out on the irony of Hinata being the one to tell him that, but just then Daichi stuck his head into the cubicle.

"Making good progress on the presentation?" he asked, taking note of the missing curtain. "Your deadline's today, in case you forgot."

"We already finished," Hinata said proudly. "It's pretty great, in my opinion." He was practically bursting with enthusiasm, which was average Hinata, but even Kageyama looked pleased.

"Kageyama, what do you say?" Daichi asked, grinning a little. He hated to say it, but he wasn't positive that they'd be able to pull it off. He was glad that they proved him wrong.

"We can beat Tsukishima easily," he said confidently. "When will we find out whose was better?"

At that, Daichi's expression turned uncomfortable. "Yeah, about that... I didn't assign this project to Tsukishima."

"What?!" Hinata shouted before he could control himself. "Why?"

"I thought it would be counterproductive if I gave two groups of interns the same project," Daichi explained, rubbing the back of his neck. "Plus, I knew it would motivate you if I told you that you'd be going against him. Rest assured, I will still be showing your presentation to my boss. If it's as good as you say it is, you might even be commended for it. I have confidence in you both."

He gave them an easy smile, leaning on a wall. "Send me the presentation before you leave today. As for the rest of the afternoon, you're free to do what you wish, unless Tanaka has any more paperwork for you guys to do." He sent them a thumbs up, then left the office again.

Kageyama immediately went to the desktop, sharing the slides with Daichi's work email.

"What do we do now?" Hinata asked, already bored.

"I dunno. I guess we wait for Tanaka to give us more stuff to do."

"Hmm, I guess." Hinata had a better idea, though. "Can I use the desktop?"

"Sure. What for?" Kageyama asked, but he didn't answer until he was already on the website he was looking for.

"World's biggest pacman. It's basically a bunch of pacman boards with different designs stuck together. Me and my friends used to go on here constantly during high school when we were slacking off. It's been a while, but no one's ever beaten me."

Kageyama's eye twitched. A challenge.

"We'll see about that. Lend me your laptop."

"What? Why?"

"I'm gonna beat you. Obviously. Now hand it over."

Hinata complied without thinking of the logic of them trading computers, then turned back to his screen. "We'll start at the same time. Ready? Go!"

They clicked the start button at the same moment, instantly engrossed in the game. Kageyama never played on this particular site, but he was a quick learner, and soon had just as many lives as Hinata. Every so often one of them would curse under their breaths when they lost a life, but that was the extent of their interactions with each other and their surroundings. All eyes were on the game.

At one point, Tanaka walked in, carrying a stack of papers to be sorted in his hands, but he stopped at the doorway. 

"Damn kids," he said fondly under his breath, watching for a bit as they battled digital ghosts with their arrow keys. "I'll leave these for you to sort on Monday. Have a good weekend, guys."

Neither of them heard him, but he expected as much. They were just kids, after all. He'd let them play for now.

Chapter Text

Monday came, and with it a new load of work to do. The wonder duo - as both Tanaka and Daichi came to call them - continued to compete to see who could file the most paperwork, and it kept them occupied for a good while. It was only a matter of time, however, before even that couldn't mask the dullness of filing paperwork.

"I can't do this anymore," Hinata complained after getting his tenth paper cut. "I'm gonna bleed out. Besides, I wanna get up and do something. We've been sitting in these chairs for hours."

"We just got here an hour ago," Kageyama corrected him, neatening the stack in his hands. "I thought you like doing work."

"Yeah, but doing a project is so much better. Do you think they'll have another presentation for us to make?"

"I doubt it. Most interns just do grunt work like this for their whole time. If the work is really piling up for them, that's when they pass it down to us." He continued to work, not looking up. Hinata was still slightly ahead of him, but he wouldn't be for long if he didn't get back to sorting. 

"But I'm restless. There has to be something for us to do." Without waiting for Kageyama to respond, Hinata got to his feet, practically sprinting to Tanaka's cubicle. After a bit of deliberation, Kageyama followed, not wanting to be stuck with the papers in case there really was something else to do. Even he had a limit to how much paperwork he could do, and he was reaching it rapidly.

"Finished the work already, boys?" Tanaka asked, spinning around in his chair. "There's plenty more where that came from." He started reaching for a new stack of papers, but Hinata interrupted before he could.

"Please, sir, give me another job," he pleaded, showing off his mutilated fingers. "Anything that doesn't have to do with paper."

"We work in a paper company. Paper's what we do."

"Then something online. I just need a change of environment."

Tanaka thought his request over. "We used to have a coffee guy come in once a week, but he left a coupla months back. If you want, you can take everyone's orders and go down a few blocks to pick them up. The company will pay you back later today." He looked over his shoulder to where Kageyama was still standing in the back. "I assume you're gonna go with him?"

Kageyama was conflicted. On one hand, he didn't attend college and work his ass off in his previous internship to fetch coffee in this one. If he wanted to be a waiter, he would've interned at Starbucks. But on the other hand, he didn't want to be stuck inside with mountains of paperwork while Hinata got to go outside. Besides, he knew if he left Hinata alone with a job, he'd find a way to screw it up.

"Yeah, I'll go with him. Whose orders are we taking?"

Tanaka whipped out a post it note, scribbling a few names and cubicle numbers. "These people for sure, but anyone who stops you on the way too, since technically I'm not supposed to play favorites." He handed it to Hinata, who held it like it was the map to the lost city of gold. "My order's also written there, so don't forget it. Make me proud, interns."

"You got it, sir!" Hinata exclaimed, running out of the cubicle.

"Slow down, idiot," Kageyama called, chasing after him. 

Tanaka watched them go, wishing he had asked for a second cup. He'd need it. 

 

The first stop was Daichi's cubicle, which was right around the corner.

"Oh, you're the new office cart?" he asked, looking up from his computer. "Awesome. I'll have a medium hot black coffee, no sugar, with two shots of espresso." Hinata wrote this down furiously on a new post it note, nodding as he did. 

Suddenly, Tsukishima turned around from his desk area. "Oh, I didn't know you guys worked in the food service industry. I'll have-"

"Nope. Uh uh. You're not getting anything," Kageyama insisted.

Beside him, Hinata took out the original post it note, practically shoving it in his face. "Your name's not on here, see?" he said, leaving out the fact that they were supposed to get for whoever wanted. "Them's the rules, pal."

"Hmm, I suppose not," Tsukishima said almost mournfully, which was suspicious in and of itself. Tsukishima never backed down without a fight. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to real work. Enjoy waitering."

"It's typical intern work!" Kageyama fumed. "You're just jealous that you're stuck in this stuffy office all day."

Tsukishima actually chuckled at that. "Jealous? I knew what I was getting when I applied for this internship. If I wanted to be a waiter, I'd apply to Starbucks." Kageyama didn't mention that those were his thoughts exactly earlier on, but it just made him all the more angry. "Besides, it's raining outside. I wouldn't go out if you paid me."

"You little-"

Daichi stepped in before Hinata could try and do whatever damage his 5'5" body could accomplish. "Alright, back to work, Tsukishima. No time to antagonize Tanaka's interns, especially when they're doing me a favor." He turned to them with a smile. "Thank you again for this. Everyone in the office will appreciate it."

"No problem," Kageyama said tiredly, and they left before Hinata could change his mind about rearranging Tsukishima's face.

"Man I hate that guy," Hinata said as soon as they were out. 

"You say the same thing every time you see him," Kageyama pointed out, but he agreed with the sentiment. Man he hated that guy.

Hinata was happy to find that the next cubicle was Suga's, although he was surprised to find someone else in there with him.

"Suga-san, you didn't say that you had an intern," Hinata said, looking over at the meek boy with dark brown hair who was sitting at the corner of his desk. 

"Oh yeah, this is Yamaguchi," he said, looking over his shoulder. "He helps me out around here."

Yamaguchi waved to the two of them, and Hinata waved back, greatly relieved that he wasn't another Tsukishima type. He wasn't sure he could handle two of them.

"So what do you boys need?"

"Oh, we're taking coffee orders for the office! What would you like?" Hinata asked, whipping out his paper.

"Oh, that's nice of you. I'll take a small vanilla bean latte, extra sugar."

"So just milk and sugar for you, Suga-san?" 

Sugawara laughed. "I'm not really a coffee person, if you can tell." He looked over at his intern. "Yamaguchi, do you want something?"

"Um, sure. Can I get a small caramel macchiato please?"

"Sure thing!" Hinata said, writing it down as well. "See you around, Suga-san!" 

"Bye, Hinata. Keep working on those powerpoint skills."

"I will!"

As they walked out, Hinata explained, "He helped me learn the powerpoint stuff, for the project. That's where I know him from." Kageyama nodded like this was new to him, grateful not to have to say anything. He could deal with assholes like Tsukishima, but genuinely nice people were twice as hard for him to talk to.

"The next person is someone named Asahi Azumane. I wonder if he's like Daichi or Tanaka," Hinata wondered aloud, following the cubicle numbers. When he reached the right one, however, he stopped right outside, face paling.

"What is it?" Kageyama asked, looking over his shoulder. Inside sat a guy who was definitely in his thirties, at least, and twice Hinata's size.

"I'm not good at talking to older adults," Hinata whispered, trying to hand him the post it note. "Can you do this one?"

"I'm not good at talking, period," Kageyama shot back. "Come on, it'll be fine. Just talk to him like you'd address your professors."

"Um, Mr. Azumane, sir," Hinata started, and Kageyama fought the urge to roll his eyes. He was way too nervous for the situation.

Weirdly enough, the man looked just as nervous. "Oh, you're Tanaka's interns. He said he had a redhead and a grumpy looking one. Please, call me Asahi. You don't need to call me sir." He was tapping his foot on his chair, and Kageyama noticed he kept scratching the back of his neck. Weird. "What do you need?"

"Well, we're here taking coffee orders, so... what would you like, Mr.- I mean, Asahi." Hinata was obviously frazzled calling someone much older than him by their first name, and Asahi seemed to catch on.

"You know I'm the same age as Daichi and Suga, right?" he said, and Hinata and Kageyama pretended they did. "Coffee, huh? I don't really drink coffee, but I'll have a hot green tea, please. Thank you."

"Right! Thank you," Hinata said, and almost bolted from the room.

Kageyama found the situation funnier than he found most things. "Why did you say thank you at the end?" he asked, wheezing. Hinata's face flushed red, and he muttered, "For his time, I don't know. Next cubicle's right here, so shush."

The guy in this one was even shorter than Hinata, and had just as much energy.

"Wow, the interns that were causing Tanaka all this trouble," he said, laughing. Hinata and Kageyama exchanged a look. Tanaka really did get around. 

"I'm Nishinoya, but you can call me sir Nishinoya," he continued, and Hinata was greatly reminded of Tanaka yet again. 

"Right, uh, sir. We're taking coffee orders, so do you want anything?" Kageyama asked, stepping in for once. Talking to him would be like talking to Hinata, he reasoned. So it was good practice in being social. 

"Coffee? Huh, I don't drink a lot of coffee. Can I have a hot chocolate instead?" 

"Sure!" Hinata said, writing it down. "Anything else?"

"Nope! Thanks guys. Try not to make Tanaka go grey. He can't afford to lose any more hair." Nishinoya laughed at his own joke, and Hinata chuckled along, leaving with a quick wave. Kageyama followed closely behind. 

"This seems like more work than filing papers," he said, frowning. Hinata flicked him on the forehead.

"Cheer up, Kageyama. We're almost finished. Just a few more names to go."

They did four more people lightning quick, with Hinata talking and writing and Kageyama standing in for moral support. None of them were as memorable as Nishinoya or Asahi, but they apparently knew them from Tanaka, so they made conversation as best as they could.

Finally, they reached the end of their list, with one name remaining. 

"Ennoshita?" Hinata read out loud, squinting. "Alright, let's finish this."

Ennoshita was a sad looking guy, who took a minute to look up when they entered the cubicle. Hinata was vaguely reminded of Kageyama, without all of the anger and determination. Kageyama was offended when he told him so. 

"Coffee cart?" Ennoshita asked after Hinata gave the whole introductory speech. "I appreciate the offer, but I'm not really sure why I was on the list. The office has done enough for me already. They don't need to get me coffee."

"So... that's a no for you?" Kageyama asked, since Hinata seemed to be at a loss for words. "Alright, thanks for your time. Come on, Hinata, let's go."

"Why's that?" Hinata asked him, apparently finding his voice. "Tanaka obviously values you, otherwise he wouldn't put you here."

"You wouldn't get it," he sighed. "No offense, it's not you. Just... nothing for me, please."

"Ok, if you say so..." Hinata said, inching out of the room. Neither of them looked back at him, but when they left the cubicle, the air felt almost warmer.

"That's that," Kageyama said. "Le's go back to our cubicle, get our umbrellas, and make haste. Nobody'll want coffee if we bring it by lunchtime."

"Sure thing," Hinata said, fidgeting with his hands. "Except... I forgot my umbrella at home."

"Your idioticy is the only thing constant about you," Kageyama said, shaking his head. "You can share mine."

"Really? Thanks!"

"Don't mention it."

It was a bit of a tight squeeze under Kageyama's umbrella, but they made do, each of them just getting a little wet around the edges. Kageyama had to hold it, since he was much taller, but he supposed it wasn't all bad. If Hinata walked too slow, he'd just leave him behind in the rain. Although it did mean they couldn't race, which was a shame since he was feeling extra fast that day.

When they reached the counter, Kageyama shook out his umbrella, while the girl in the front - short, blond, anxious looking - took their order. 

"Can you repeat that?" she asked for the second time, when Hinata went through all the orders. Instead of replying, he handed her the paper with all of the drinks. "Hmm. You're handwriting's kind of messy, but I think I can read it. Please wait a little while we prepare your drinks."

"What'd you say to her?" Kageyama asked when Hinata joined him at a table. "She looked like she was shaking."

"I just gave her the orders!" Hinata insisted. "Maybe she has a fear of coffee."

"If she had a fear of coffee, why would she work at a cafe, numbskull?"

"I don't know, maybe she specializes in pastries."

Kageyama, realizing too late what a dumb argument it was, clamped his mouth shut, instead looking around the cafe. It was a small place, nothing too fancy, but the smell of coffee was everywhere. 

When the orders were ready, she asked, "Is there anything else you want?"

"Yeah, actually, can I get a large caramel frappuccino please?" Hinata asked. Kageyama stared at him. "What? If everyone else is getting something, we should be allowed too. It's on the company's dime, anyway, so we have nothing to lose."

"I suppose." Kageyama squinted at the menu, reading through the fancy names. Usually he didn't drink coffee at all, and all of it looked very overpriced. Finally, he settled for a small black coffee, his head hurting from the decision.

"Your loss," Hinata said, grabbing the cups and walking outside. They had to split them among three trays, with Hinata holding two and Kageyama having a free hand for the umbrella. "Black coffee is gross."

"Your drink isn't even coffee," Kageyama retorted. "It's just a caramel milkshake that they call coffee so you don't feel bad ordering it."

"That's mean. I'm going ahead of you." Of course, he wasn't able to see the sidewalk clearly with all of those cups, and he almost tripped on the sidewalk. Kageyama grabbed the back of his jacket right before he fell and ruined all of their hard work. They didn't even have the paper with the orders anymore, having given it to the girl there.

"Thanks," Hinata said, sending a smile back to Kageyama. Of course, that made him almost trip again, since he wasn't looking ahead, but he caught himself this time. "I'll try not to fall this time."

"You better. We just got this job this morning, we can't screw it up already."

Distributing the drinks was a quick task, much quicker than getting the orders. Each person thanked them for the drink (except Tsukishima, of course, since he didn't get any, but somehow that was more satisfying). They were left with just their own drinks and carried them to the cubicle.

Kageyama took one sip of his coffee and almost spat it out. "Why do people like coffee, anyway? It tastes like dirt."

"How do you know what dirt tastes like?"

"It's an expression, ok!"

Hinata took a few sips of his frappuccino, then offered it to Kageyama. "Here, try this. Since you let me use your umbrella and all." When Kageyama hesitated, he added, "I'm not sick or anything! Don't be a hypochondriac."

Finally, Kageyama took the cup from him, taking the smallest of sips. Immediately there was an explosion of sugar in his mouth, and he gave it back. "I think that gave me a cavity," he said, wrinkling his nose. "How do you drink that stuff?"

"It's good! Here, try it again."

"No way. Early onset diabetes is not for me."

"Try it!"

In the end, Hinata got Kageyama to try it one more time. It was alright, he had to admit. Although he definitely wouldn't get himself one next time they went.

"Back to paperwork we go," Hinata said, but with the coffee surging through his veins, he thought he could handle it. Of course, Hinata on caffeine wasn't very handle-able himself, but Kageyama would make do. After all, he always did.

Chapter Text

Weeks passed, as weeks tend to do. Kageyama and Hinata got used to their routine, which now included getting coffee every Monday. Kageyama didn't get anything, claiming that coffee was ruined for him after the first week, but sometimes if Hinata was feeling generous, he'd share (read: force Kageyama to try) some of his own coffee. They rarely fought seriously - although they did continue to argue frequently - and were more or less settled. Kageyama reveled in the feeling of regularity.

So of course, Hinata had to go and screw it up.

"Man, I'm so bored," he complained one lunch, finishing off the last of his bento. He always finished at least twice as quickly as Kageyama, which was annoying as hell itself, but Hinata physically couldn't eat slower. It was his nature.

"Bored? It's lunch. We're not supposed be working," Kageyama said, puzzled.

"Yeah, but we do the same thing every day. We eat, we talk a little, and then we get back to work. It's so monotonous. Don't you get sick of it?"

Kageyama looked down at his lunch, which was the same as he brought every day, and was more than a little insulted. "No, not at all. What do you say we do during lunch, then?"

"I dunno. We could check out the rest of the building. I hear there's a cafeteria somewhere. Maybe we'll find something to do."

Kageyama wasn't going to try to explain the fact that lunch wasn't about trying new things, it was about eating lunch. He didn't think Hinata would get it, anyway. He spent every opportunity trying to find something "new and exciting" to do, in his words.

"We can go tomorrow," he finally acquiesced. "Don't expect to find anything crazy, though. This is an office building."

"Better than sitting cooped up in here with your lame ass," Hinata muttered under his breath.

"WHAT DID YOU SAY?"

 

Despite this, they still went hunting for the cafeteria the following day. Tanaka gave them directions which seemed simple at the time (down to the first floor, a left, and two rights) but as the two were soon to find out, they were awful with directions.

"Man, if only I could put this into google maps," Hinata moaned as they almost walked into yet another meeting room. How many meeting rooms could an office building possibly need?

"Maybe if you weren't such a dumbass and listened when I said the turn was before, we wouldn't be lost," Kageyama retorted, looking around. "We shouldn't have left the cubicle in the first place. I'm starving."

"You can save the 'I told you so's for when we make it back, alright?"

"Are... you two looking for the cafeteria?" a new voice asked, and they both looked up to see Yamaguchi standing in front of them, holding his wallet. "It's right down this hall, so just follow me."

The wonder duo followed numbly as Yamaguchi led them through the halls, stopping beside a door that said "Cafeteria" in large letters.

"Huh," Hinata said simply, following him inside. 

"Yeah," Kageyama replied, equally lacking in words to say. 

The three of them sat at a nearby table. While Yamaguchi bought himself lunch, they unpacked their own.

"Well, there was our adventure. Not looking forward to repeating it," Kageyama sniffed, unwrapping his sandwich.

"Don't be a baby. We made it here in the end, right? And now we can eat with Yamaguchi. He seems chill."

Yamaguchi returned with a salad, sitting across from them.

"Do you always eat here?" Hinata asked.

"Me? Yeah, every day. I usually sit with my friend, but he has to work longer today, so I was going to take my food upstairs. Then I saw you guys, so I figured, why not sit here with you?"

"I'm warning you, Hinata eats like a pig," Kageyama said without a hint of irony. "Watch out for that."

"Hey! Kageyama's the world's slowest eater, and he barely talks, so be careful not to fall asleep," Hinata shot back. 

Yamaguchi laughed lightly, opening his food. "I think I'll survive, thanks."

They actually had a rather nice lunch, with Yamaguchi filling in the conversation gaps that would otherwise remain unfilled. He didn't seem to mind Hinata's messiness nor Kageyama's stilted way of talking. By the end, they were both planning on coming back the following day and eating there again.

Then Yamaguchi said, "Oh, there's my friend now! You might've met him before, he's an intern like us."

Even before they turned around, Hinata and Kageyama got chills simultaneously.

"It can't be..." Hinata whispered, still refusing to look. "He's too nice to be friends with him."

"We'll never know if we don't look," Kageyama whispered back, and together they turned their necks to see the new guy. They were disappointed, but not surprised.

"Oh, it's you two," Tsukishima said with a smirk. "I didn't know you knew Yamaguchi."

At that moment, Kageyama and Hinata had a moment of telepathic connection, an entire conversation consisting just of eye contact. It went something like this:

Hinata: Oh crap oh crap oh crap what do we do?

Kageyama: Don't look at me! I hate him just as much as you do

Hinata: We can't let Yamaguchi know we hate him. That would be so awkward!

Kageyama: If we don't, we might be stuck eating with this guy

Hinata: Just follow my lead. We'll be fine

"Oh yeah, we've met," Hinata said, his face the picture of passivity. "You're Daichi's intern, right?"

Tsukishima looked confused, which was new for him, but it was only a second before he caught on. He looked between the two of them, smile widening. "Yeah, that's me. And you're Tanaka's interns, correct?"

"Uh, yeah," Kageyama, who was slower on the uptake, said. "You're Yamaguchi's friend?"

"Yes I am, and now we've asked every question necessary for the situation," Tsukishima answered quickly. "Come on, Tadashi, lunch is over."

"Right, Tsukki!" he answered, getting up. Then he addressed Hinata and Kageyama. "Um, thanks for sitting with me. If you want, you guys can come sit with us at lunch tomorrow."

The other three froze, exchanging a quick glance. They had never agreed on anything before, but they were all having the same thought at that moment: this isn't good. 

Tsukishima recovered first, of course, since he was a sadist and would readily suffer to make others suffer more. "That sounds like a great idea. We'll see you guys tomorrow, then?" His smile was all malice, and if there was any genuine happiness in there, it was only because Hinata and Kageyama were both uncomfortable. 

I have no clue what Yamaguchi sees in this guy, Hinata thought to himself, pursing his lips.

Kageyama stepped up to the plate for once, saying, "Sure. See you." He kept a neutral face until they left the cafeteria, then grimaced. 

"Hate that guy," they both said at the same time. 

"How are we supposed to get out of it now?" Hinata asked. "You just signed us up to be slaughtered."

"Maybe if you stood up to say something, I wouldn't be put on the spot like that!"

"You interrupted me before I could say anything!"

Kageyama massaged his temples with his fingertips. "This isn't getting us anywhere. Besides, Tsukishima's in the same situation as we are. We all need to pretend to like each other, so maybe he'll be nicer to us."

"A nice Tsukishima?" Hinata snorted. "When pigs fly, maybe."

"I'm serious. Obviously he has to be nice when Yamaguchi's around, otherwise why would he sit with him at lunch?"

"You have a good point..." Hinata stroked his chin with his fingers. "Ok. We will deal with this tomorrow!"

"Or die trying."

"Or die trying."

 

The next day, they took just as long to reach the cafeteria. Not because they got lost again - although they almost did - but because Hinata was dragging his heels the whole time.

"Come on! Don't make me drag you," Kageyama complained, pushing Hinata from the back.

"I can't help it! It's like my body overrode my brain to stop me from making this dumb decision."

"We don't have time for self preservation. This is strong people hours."

By the time they reached the room, they could see Tsukishima and Yamaguchi already at the table. From the way it looked, they were having a pleasant conversation.

"See? He's not chewing his head off," Hinata said, more to encourage himself than anything. "We'll be fine."

"Then why are your heels still dragging?"

"Shut it!"

When they reached the table, they both fell silent, although it didn't seem malicious. Not in Yamaguchi's case, at least. 

"You guys came," he exclaimed, grinning. "Tsukki was just telling me about something Daichi said to him yesterday."

"Tsukki?" Hinata whispered under his breath, and Kageyama shrugged slightly. Some things were better left unsaid. 

"It's unimportant," Tsukishima said smoothly. "How was your morning?"

Kageyama had no idea how he could fill such pleasant pleasantries with such spite, but Tsukishima managed it anyway. If Kageyama tried to respond the same way, he'd come off as pure evil. There really was no justice in the world.

"Oh, it was great!" Hinata said with forced energy. "Got a lot of paperwork done."

"Is that all you do all day? What happened to being baristas" Tsukishima asked, snickering, and Hinata bunched his shoulders up. Obviously someone didn't want to play nice. Yamaguchi was also laughing, though, so it probably just looked like teasing. Hinata decided to retaliate with a little bit of his own.

"Is that all you're eating?" he asked, looking at Tsukishima's plate. It only had two rice balls on it, no sides. "I didn't know you were a bird."

"Some people don't need to eat so much to grow. You, obviously, don't eat enough, although I have no clue how you could eat any more. Your plate is overflowing."

Normally, at this point in their interaction, Hinata would lunge at him and probably get caught by Kageyama before he could do any damage. This time, however, Yamaguchi intervened with a chuckle.

"He has a point, Hinata," he said. "But Hinata's also right, you do eat like a bird."

"Says the person eating a salad. What are you, a rabbit?" Kageyama said without thinking. He looked like he regretted it, but Yamaguchi thought that was hilarious, and after a while, the rest of them started laughing too. Even Tsukishima looked a little less annoyed than usual.

"Are you on a diet or something?" Hinata asked. "You don't look like you need one."

"No, it's not that. I've just had a weak stomach ever since I was a little kid," Yamaguchi explained.

"That sounds like it sucks. I'd starve if I had to have just a salad every day."

"You'd shrink," Tsukishima offered, and Hinata glared at him, but the atmosphere was different. Even if they were only pretending to like each other, it made a significant difference in their interactions.

"See you tomorrow," Yamaguchi called as they left the table later, and Hinata and Kageyama didn't hesitate to say it back.

For the rest of the week, they continued to join Tsukishima and Yamaguchi at the lunch table. Tsukishima was the same amount of spiteful as he always was, and maybe it was just Yamaguchi-induced rose colored glasses, but he seemed like he was joking more than anything. Mean jokes, but jokes.

Even Kageyama was more out of his shell, compared to how he usually was with new people. Hinata was surprised, since he didn't want to leave their cubicle in the first place, but pleased. It also put him in a better mood later on, which saved Hinata a lot of pain. It all seemed to be going well.

On Monday, when they returned to the office with their coffee orders, they were surprised to see Yamaguchi not in Suga's office. They were even more surprised when he wanted to talk to them.

"He just stepped out to drop off some files for me, you can put his coffee on his desk," Suga said, taking his own order. "Can you guys spare a minute?"

"Uh, sure," Hinata said, sitting on Yamaguchi's desk. "What's up, Suga?"

"Yamaguchi told me you eat lunch with him and Tsukishima now," he said, looking almost embarrassed to say it. "He looks... happier now?"

"No... problem?" Kageyama said, at the same time that Hinata asked, "Didn't he have Tsukishima too before?"

"Yeah, but it's a lonely existence to have just one friend, especially," he lowered his voice, looking around, "if it's Tsukishima. So just... thanks. For his sake."

"Our pleasure," Hinata said, as if he intended from day one to sit with Yamaguchi. "He's a nice guy."

Just then, Yamaguchi walked in, pausing when he saw the strange scene: Hinata on his desk, Kageyama and Sugawara standing in front of him. "What am I walking into?" he asked, grabbing his coffee from the table.

"Suga just wanted to tell us to get him more sugar next time," Hinata said quickly. 

"What can I say? I like my coffee sweet," Suga added, and they both waited for Yamaguchi's reaction. Kageyama wisely stayed silent.

When he didn't call their bluff, Hinata jumped from the desk, grabbing Kageyama by the arm. "Well, we gotta go back to work, but nice seeing you guys!" he said, practically running out. Kageyama was dragged along with him.

"That was weird," Kageyama whispered when they were back in their cubicle. "I feel kind of bad for pretending to tolerate Tsukishima this whole time. We shouldn't lie to him if it actually means something to him."

"Yeah, but what if it hurts his feelings?" Hinata countered. "Tsukishima was his friend first. He might not want us to sit there if we tell him."

"I think Yamaguchi's more fair than that. We'll tell him tomorrow, and continue from there, depending on his reaction. He won't just kick us out of the lunch table."

"Hmph. Fine. I hate it when you're right."

"I'm always right."

"Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh ok."

"And here I was thinking we were getting along today!"

 

The next day's lunch was tense, at least for Kageyama and Hinata. The other two didn't seem to notice how Hinata was fidgeting more than usual, or how Kageyama barely spoke a word, lock jawed. 

"We'll do it tomorrow," Hinata said as quietly as he could to Kageyama at the end of lunch, but just then, their opportunity came. Tsukishima had to leave early, leaving just the three of them at the table. The timing couldn't be more perfect, and it was eating Hinata up.

"Yamaguchi, we want to speak to you about something," Kageyama said, since it was obvious Hinata wasn't going to take initiative. "We hope you won't think less of us for it."

"Did you murder someone?" Yamaguchi asked, feigning seriousness. "Because I might not want you to sit here if you did."

"No, not murder-"

"Blackmailing? Bribery? Pyramid scheming? Give me something, here." Yamaguchi was obviously joking, but Kageyama was dead serious, as always.

"No, nothing that bad. We just... we haven't been completely honest about our feelings towards Tsukishima."

Yamaguchi seemed confused at this, so Hinata added, "We hate him. Like a lot. And he hates us too. Ever since we met him on our first day." 

The two of them were prepared for a number of reactions. Anger that they were pretending the whole time, betrayal, sadness. They didn't know if Yamaguchi was a crier, but they prepared tissues just in case. 

Instead, Yamaguchi laughed. "Yeah, I know," he said once he caught his breath.

"You... know?"

"Of course! Tsukki told me on the first day, once we finished eating. He told me he only said yes to torture you guys, and that it was my decision whether to actually keep inviting you guys over. It was pretty funny to see all three of you acting nice to each other."

He probably realized how weird this sounded and added, "But I also invited you guys because you're fun to be around, and you liven up the conversation. So really, it's your choice now whether you want to keep coming or not. I like it, and Tsukki doesn't mind as much as he makes it seem like he does. He likes arguing with people, if you can believe it."

Kageyama nodded, because of course he could believe it, but Hinata was still stuck on a key detail.

"So you let us suffer the whole time?!" he shouted, eyes wide. "That's so evil!"

"Were you suffering this whole time?" Yamaguchi asked, genuinely curious, and perhaps a touch guilty.

"Well... not anymore, but definitely at first," Hinata gave in. Yamaguchi shot him a smile.

"See? All's well that ends well. See you tomorrow at lunch, wonder duo."

As he left, Hinata and Kageyama both muttered, "So that's why they're friends. They're both evil."

"Makes more sense now," Kageyama added, and Hinata nodded along. "So... are we still going to lunch with them?"

"Are you kidding? Now that I don't need to hold back from instigating Tsukishima, I can try calling him Tsukki! I want to see his reaction."

"You'll die."

"Of satisfaction."

"Of stab wounds." 

"Same difference."

Thus, the evil quartet continued to meet for lunch, and no one was worse for it.

Chapter Text

Hinata and Tsukishima didn't know what they were doing in Daichi's office that Friday, summoned from their lunch break early. They were so unnerved, they didn't even argue about the fact that Hinata had stolen a piece of chicken from Tsukishima just moments prior.

"Welcome, my favorite interns," Daichi said from behind his desk, crossing and uncrossing his fingers. "I hope I haven't inconvenienced you with this meeting, but it is essential."

"Uh, sir, if you don't mind me asking, what is this meeting, exactly?" Hinata asked, shifting on his feet. He assumed he wasn't being called in for bad behavior - him and Tsukishima had been basically model citizens over the past weeks, compared to when they first met - but he couldn't think of a different reason why they'd both be chosen for something.

"I'm glad you asked, Hinata." Daichi stood up, grabbing his phone from behind him. "I received an email from the Nekoma building boss earlier this week. There's a conference slash training session happening over in Tokyo, and he asked me to send over my two best speaking interns. That would be you guys.

"I didn't know if you'd be up for going together, but since you seem to have worked out your differences-" Tsukishima snorted at that. "-I don't think it'll be a problem. It's optional, of course, but if you choose to go, the hotel will be paid for. You'd leave on Monday, come back Thursday night, and be in for work on Friday." 

Before he could ask if there were any questions, Hinata asked, "Why couldn't we tell Kageyama or Yamaguchi? Is it a secret conference or something?"

"No, of course not. I just didn't want them to feel less special. Rest assured, I'll have them work on a project of their own while you guys are gone."

"Are we getting paid extra for this?" Tsukishima asked, already thinking monetarily.

"No, but consider it like a paid vacation. You don't have to come to work, and the conferences are pretty casual." He looked up at each of them individually. "Can I take it that you two are going?"

"Yes!" Hinata exclaimed immediately, while Tsukishima shrugged and said, "Why not? I just hope the people are less annoying in Tokyo than they are here. Excluding you of course, sir."

"Hey!" 

They were dismissed back to their cubicles after signing a few forms, and neither of them brought it up to Kageyama or Yamaguchi. Hinata knew that if he dared mention that he was better than Kageyama in some way, he'd pay for it for sure. It was at least a month since he was last almost thrown out a window. He intended to keep it that way.

 

On Monday morning, Hinata and Tsukishima came to work slightly early. Neither intended on going in the building, but Tsukishima refused to tell Hinata where he lived, so they were driving together from the building as a compromise. Tsukishima also insisted on driving, which was absurd since it was Hinata's car, but somehow he found himself in the passenger seat nonetheless.

"Uh uh uh, driver's pick," Tsukishima said, swatting Hinata's hand away when he reached for the radio.

"What about car owner's pick?" Hinata countered, reaching past him to turn on his favorite station. Immediately, upbeat pop music filled the car, and Hinata settled down in his chair, satisfied for the moment.

Of course, the moment was ruined when Tsukishima swiftly changed the station to some grungy hard rock. Hinata couldn't understand how anyone could listen to something so depressing on a road trip, and elbowed the station back.

This led to a brief shoving match, in which Tsukishima almost crashed the car into a pole, but ultimately they settled on a third station that neither of them minded. Hinata felt himself being lulled to sleep by the motion of the car, and the last thing he heard before he drifted off was Tsukishima chuckling, "Idiots. They really can fall asleep anywhere." Hinata was too out of it to be offended.

He slept the whole car ride, which was a great relief, since he got car sick as easily as breathing, and for some reason he felt that Tsukishima wouldn't tolerate that. When he finally opened his eyes, they were a few minutes away from the hotel, and he leaned his head against the window, letting the vibrations numb his brain into a stupor.

As soon as they were parked, Tsukishima tossed him the keys, hopping out of the car. After a brief argument with the front desk ("Yes, we're here for the business conference." "Kids? We're in our twenties." "No you listen up.") they each got a key to their room. 

"Man, this place is huge!" Hinata shouted, throwing his suitcase onto one of the beds. "There are two couches! And a mini fridge! And a stove!"

"Have you never been to a hotel before?" Tsukishima asked, beginning to unpack his things. "Mini fridges are also like twenty bucks. You can buy one online."

"I know. I've just never been anywhere with one before." He started looking through it, grabbing a bottle of water before Tsukishima yanked it from his hands. "What was that for?"

"You never touch anything in a hotel mini-fridge," Tsukishima said, as if it were obvious. He put it back in carefully, like it was made of glass. "They'll charge you like ten dollars a bottle. You'll make the company go broke."

"But I'm thirsty..."

Tsukishima reached into his bag and chucked a water bottle at Hinata. "There. Now shut up and stop whining."

"Thanks!" Hinata exclaimed, settling on one of the couches. He reached for the TV remote, scrolling through the channels for a while. It took only a minute for him to find fault in that as well. The magic of the hotel was fading quickly.

"There's nothing to watch here," he complained, like Tsukishima had any control over that. What an idiot.

"Yet another hotel staple: not having anything good to watch." Tsukishima took out his headphones, fastening them around his head. "You do whatever, but if I hear anything through these, you're sleeping on the balcony."

"There's a balcony?"

Tsukishima went to sleep early that night, claiming he needed extra rest after spending so much time with him, but Hinata couldn't fall asleep on the hotel bed's scratchy sheets. He paced the room for a bit, taking inventory of all of the free things available in the bathroom, and ultimately settled on the couch with his phone.

He wondered what Kageyama was doing back home. Probably sleeping, but who knew? He had the sudden urge to call him, just to hear a familiar voice, but he squashed it quickly. Normal daytime Kageyama was already pretty grumpy. How much more so would woken-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night Kageyama be?

At some point he drifted off on the couch, phone still on his chest, and the room was peaceful. For a few hours, at least.

"Hinata, for fuck's sake, get up," Tsukishima called, tossing a shoe at him from across the room.

Hinata groaned, rubbing at his eyes. "What time is it?" he asked, feeling around for his phone.

"8:45. Breakfast is over, and the meeting starts in fifteen minutes. I suggest you hurry up, unless you want to be a failure in yet another way."

"What?!"

Hinata wasn't a slow dresser - he wasn't slow at anything - but he tripped over his pants at least twice in his rush to brush his teeth, get dressed into his suit, make himself coffee (disgusting black stuff, but it did the job), and get downstairs. Tsukishima was kind enough to wait for exactly two seconds before leaving him behind, saying he didn't want to be late. Hinata set a mental reminder to himself to throw Tsukishima's headphones off the balcony when he had the chance.

As luck may have it, Tsukishima also took the paper that said where the conference was being held. Hinata knew he should've taken a picture or something, but he was sleep deprived and aching all over and didn't think about it when he had the chance. He'd text Tsukishima, but a) he didn't have his number and b) he probably wouldn't respond anyway. 

Not wanting to deal with the front desk lady again, Hinata wandered throughout the bottom floor of the hotel, hunting down the conference. It was nice to do some sightseeing, and everything there was beautiful, but it didn't change the fact that he'd probably be fired if he missed the whole conference he was sent to attend. 

At some point, he sat down next to some weird minimalist statue, already planning out his excuses to Daichi. Tsukishima is an asshole, the hotel was too big, the conference was too far away, I lost a limb. In his worst case scenario, he'd bite off his arm or something, but he hoped it wouldn't come to that. 

Then he noticed a guy sitting a few feet away from him, also wearing a suit. He was about his height, with dyed blond hair and a bored expression. AKA, probably a business-person.

"Excuse me," he said, getting the guy's attention. "Do you know where the conference is?"

"Oh yeah, right down the hall," he said softly. He pointed a finger in the right direction, and Hinata almost made a dash for it when he remembered his manners.

"I'm Hinata Shoyo from the Karasuno building. What's your name?"

"Kenma Kozume. I'm from the Nekoma building."

"Ohhhh, so your company made this conference, right?" 

"I guess." The guy somehow managed not to make eye contact the entire time they were speaking. "You're an intern, I assume. Full time workers don't usually have this kind of energy."

Hinata snorted at that, shrugging. "This is all the hotel coffee speaking. I'm absolutely wired." He looked down the hall to where the conference presumably was. "My co-intern's probably making me look horrible right now, so I'm gonna head over there. You coming?"

Kenma looked like he'd rather stay on the bench all day, but eventually pushed himself to his feet. "Sure. My boss is probably waiting for me, anyway. I'm an intern too, minus the energy."

"Ha! You're pretty funny."

"Thanks, I guess, but I wasn't joking."

Together, they stepped into the room, which was much bigger on the inside than the outside. There were at least a hundred people milling around, interacting and socializing about business. Hinata stood on his tippy toes to try and find Tsukishima, but to no avail. What was the point of being friends with someone who was six foot four if you couldn't find them in a crowd?

"Hey, Kenma, there you are!" a voice boomed behind him, and they both turned to see a tall guy with spiky black hair making his way towards him. He seemed to regard Kenma as a friend, and a flicker of recognition passed through Kenma's face.

"That's Kuroo. He's my boss," he explained under his breath, and Hinata straightened himself up. According to Daichi, this was one of the main guys he was supposed to kiss up to. He hoped he made a good impression thus far, despite the fact that he was ten minutes late.

"Hello sir, I'm-" Hinata started, but Kuroo cut him off.

"I know who you are. Hinata Shoyo, Karasuno building. Tsukishima was just telling me about someone short, red-headed, and loud." He laughed a little at this, and Hinata tried to laugh along, even though he was nervous.

Too late, he saw Tsukishima standing a few feet down, talking to a different guy with silver and black hair, gelled straight up like a horned owl. They made eye contact for a second, and Tsukishima raised an eyebrow at Hinata before going back to his conversation, pretending he didn't even see him. Damn that guy. 

"I'm sure you're knew to this, so I'll give you a bit of a run-down of how this works," Kuroo said, smoothing his hair back. "Think of this as more of a training seminar than anything. You'll be paired up with someone from a different building, and they'll teach you about whatever their specialty is. Hopefully you'll leave here knowing a little more about business than you did before. Questions?"

Of course Hinata had one straight away. "Do you know who I'm paired up with, by any chance?"

Kuroo checked on his phone, then chuckled under his breath. "You see that man over there, talking to Tsukishima? That's your guy, Bokuto. For the next three days, he's a god to you. From what Tsukishima said about you, it'll be a good fit."

"Tsukishima's an asshole," Hinata said flippantly, then froze, remembering who he was talking to. "I mean-"

"Nah, it's alright," Kuroo said, grinning. "I got that sense too. Luckily, so am I, so it'll be a good match."

He checked his watch, then said, "We're going to start now. Kenma, you know where you're going. Hinata, you can join Bokuto as well." He cupped his hands around his mouth. "Hey, Tsukki! Get over here."

While Tsukishima walked over to Kuroo, looking like he had weights tied to his shoes, Hinata took his place by Bokuto's side. The man was huge, looking like he should be a professional weight lifter rather than a businessman, but he still had a friendly demeanor to him.

"Hey hey hey! You must be Hinata, my intern for now. Tsukishima told me a little about you."

"Please disregard anything he said about me," Hinata said emphatically. How did he have time to tell everyone awful stuff about me? That kind of evil takes dedication.

"Fair enough," he chuckled. "I'm Bokuto Kotaro, and I'll be your guide to the business world, at least for the next three days. You ready to have your mind blown?"

Hinata had never been more ready for anything in his life, Tsukishima forgotten. "Yes sir!" 

"Great. Let's get started. We're gonna start with... the magic of public speaking."

Chapter Text

"Follow me, boy, and we'll start right away."

Hinata followed Bokuto to a room down the hall, where he promptly slammed the door and turned on the lights. He was startled to find another intern already there, scrolling through his phone. He put it down right away when Bokuto walked in, jumping to his feet. 

"Bokuto-san, you're here!" he exclaimed, towering over both of them. Hinata felt instantly threatened by his height alone, although his attitude seemed more like a golden retriever. "Kuroo-san said that I had to wait here for you to get me because I'd just get lost."

"I also got lost this morning!" Hinata shouted, all harsh feelings aside. He felt a special bond towards anyone as bad at navigating as he was. "I'm Hinata Shoyo."

"Haiba Lev," the giant proclaimed, pointing a thumb at his chest. "Are you Bokuto-san's nephew or something? What grade are you in?"

"What?! How dare you!?" Hinata squawked. Special bond: cancelled. "I'm from Karasuno. I'm an intern like you."

"Really?" Lev looked down at him - literally - and squinted. "Nope, can't see it. But maybe you'll prove me wrong."

"Enough chattering, children." Bokuto had apparently grown tired of their squabbling. "Since I am so amazing, they gave me two interns to guide instead of the usual one. So you guys have to make me look good, you hear?"

"Yes sir!" Hinata and Lev said simultaneously, turning back to him. "We won't let you down!"

"Great! Now to actually get to the lesson part." Bokuto reached into his bag, pulling out two sheets of paper. "These are going to be your speeches. By the end of this conference, I want you to be able to present them perfectly."

Hinata took a sheet of paper from him, his forehead wrinkling. It seemed to all be basic business jargon, nothing special. "Um, sir? Don't we already know how to present these?"

"I'm so glad you asked!" Bokuto punctuated everything he said with an exclamation point, Hinata noticed. "You may know how to read it, but presenting it is a whole 'nother matter. Try presenting it to me, right now."

"Um, ok." Hinata read a couple of lines, stumbling over a word or two. Bokuto openly stared at him, a grin forming on his face.

"Now Lev, you try reading it." Lev also read a couple of lines, squinting at the words on the paper. "Good. Now you both kinda suck right now, but that's not what we're going to focus on. I want you both to be confident in your words."

He pointed a finger right at Hinata, who jumped a little at the sudden attention. "You? You're like four feet tall. How do you expect me to hear you all the way down there?"

"Hey, I'm not-"

"I don't care how tall you actually are," Bokuto interrupted. "I don't want the audience to care either. If I close my eyes, I want to imagine that you're ten feet tall, just by the confidence in your voice."

He turned his attention to Lev, who was laughing under his breath. "And you! You have the height, so why does it sound like this is the first time you're ever looking at this paper? Amateur hour!"

"Because it is the first time I'm looking at this paper," Lev answered, confused. 

"Yeah, but I don't want to know that. You need to sound like a professional, even if you're improvising. We'll work on that too. For now, I'm going to split you up to practice. Hinata, follow me."

He led him to the other side of the room, pulling out a chair. "I want you to practice saying your speech while standing on this. Pretend you're looking down on your audience, like you're a king addressing his subjects. You're the star of the show. When you think you're ready, call me over and maybe you can try without the chair."

He left to go help Lev, leaving Hinata feeling a little foolish, standing on a chair and reading to himself. He never thought he had a problem with confidence. If anything, he was always told that he had too much of it for someone his size. He gritted his teeth, staring back down at the speech. He'd be the best presenter in the entire building, bar none.

With every time he read through, his voice grew stronger, his determination steelier. When he felt himself wavering, he imagined Kageyama standing beneath him, trying to intimidate him. This is my presentation, Bakageyama. Back off! It usually did the trick, although if he needed extra reinforcement, he added Tsukishima there too.

"Bokuto-san! I'm ready!" he called, standing on his tippy toes. Bokuto walked over, hands on his hips.

"Show me what you got, dude." 

Hinata took a deep breath, then started reading. "In 2017, statistics were shown that..." The words themselves couldn't matter less to him, but he emphasized them anyway, making it sound like he was the leading expert on them. Think about Kageyama. Think about Kageyama. Think about-

"That was great!" Bokuto said, snapping Hinata out of his head. He didn't even realize he made it to the end of the page. "Try not to look so angry, maybe, but your energy's definitely there. Now get off the chair and do it again."

"Bokuto-san, with all due respect, I don't think the chair-"

"Just do it, little man."

"Wait, am I still taller than you while you're on the chair?" Lev shouted from across the room. "Hold on, I wanna see!"

"Go home, Lev!"

_________________________________

Meanwhile, somewhere down the hall, Tsukishima was getting an earful from Kuroo.

"You can't just tell a customer to get lost," he said, amused and infuriated at once, which made for a pretty interesting facial expression. Tsukishima, by contrast, was perfectly stoic.

"They asked me where they can buy a computer. We don't even sell computers," he said. "I was doing them a favor by telling them to go away." He was glad he was off the phone with the rando; another minute or so and he'd probably just hang up.

"I'm sure they didn't see it that way," Kuroo muttered. He took a deep breath, pasting on a calm face. "Ok! New plan: how do you usually deal with people who piss you off?"

Tsukishima thought of Hinata instinctively, then Kageyama. "I try to make their lives a living hell, and if it doesn't work, I drown them out," he shrugged. "I try not to interact with people who piss me off, as a general rule."

"Well sometimes you gotta. And I'm gonna teach you how." He sat across from Tsukishima, picking up a pen. He tapped on it a few times, then put it to his ear. "I'm going to pretend to be a customer. You have to try and sell to me."

"Kuroo, how is this-"

"That's Kuroo-san to you, firstly. And this way, you'll be able to practice without losing me business! Now pick up the damn phone and sell me some paper!" He nudged another pen towards Tsukishima, who stared at it like it was an extraterrestrial. 

"Can't I at least use a normal phone?"

"Do you want to succeed in life? The pen, Tsukki."

"Don't call me that," Tsukishima muttered, pushing the pen to his ear. "Are you happy now?"

"Very!" Kuroo smirked, quickly snapping a picture of himself with Tsukishima in the background. "Look how professional you look."

"If I jump out of the window, at least this miserable exchange will be over," Tsukishima mused, sending a couple of longing glances towards the window.

"One: the window is sealed shut, so you can't get out of here if you tried. Two: we're on the first floor, so even if you could get out, you wouldn't get anything more than a sprained toe. And three," Kuroo shot him a wide smile, "I'll see you in hell anyway. It could either be now or later. Your choice."

"Hello? Is this a valued customer?" Tsukishima said into the pen, his face not reflecting his customer-friendly voice at all. 

"Why yes it is," Kuroo said, looking far too pleased with himself. "Is this where I order computers?"

Tsukishima rolled his eyes for ten seconds straight. "No, this is a paper company. Would you like to buy some paper?"

"Hmmmmmmmmm. Maybe! Do you have any blue paper?"

"...you mean like construction paper?"

"Precisely. I'm trying to make myself a beautiful paper castle, and I'm going to need lots and lots of blue paper in order to make it."

"Sorry sir, we only sell printer paper. You might want to stop by a craft store or something." Tsukishima's voice was losing energy by the second. Kuroo was practically beaming.

"But you're a paper company! Surely you must have enough paper for my paper castle."

"I already told you, wrong type of paper." Tsukishima bit his tongue from saying you literally thought we sold computers five seconds ago.

"I want to speak to your manager! I cannot believe this fine company would withhold its construction paper from a valued customer. Bring him to me!"

Tsukishima looked at the pen, then back up at Kuroo. "What am I supposed to answer to that?" he asked, staring hard at the window. Maybe if he ran at it, he'd be able to break through. Or at least, knock himself out in the process. Both seemed preferable to whatever this was.

"I'll take it from here." He took his pen from Tsukishima, putting his own to the side. "Oh, Mr. Valued Customer! What brings you to our wonderful phone line?" He waited a couple of seconds, nodding intensely. "You say that Tsukishima didn't offer you a single ream of construction paper? How absurd! I'll deal with him promptly."

He sent Tsukishima a stern glare. "Look what you did! You've upset our biggest client. Now how are we supposed to sell our construction paper stock?"

"Sir, we don't sell construction paper."

"We do for him," he said, jerking a thumb towards the pen. "We specially order it for him every year, so he can build his construction paper castle in honor of his dead wife. Do you have a soul, Tsukishima?"

"If I did, it just died," he responded seriously. 

"There's no time for that now. We have an angry billionaire on the line."

"Since when is he a billionaire?"

"Since forever. You just never took the time to ask. He also has three dogs. Did you ask about that?"

"Why would I ask about his three dogs?!" Tsukishima practically shouted. "Why would I ask about any of this? How will any of it help me do business? This whole damn trip was a waste of time."

Even Tsukishima had a breaking point when it came to his patience, and Kuroo just broke through it. He pushed himself to his feet, grabbing his phone from the table.

"Hey, Tsukki, come back," Kuroo called, staying in his seat. "I was just messing, you don't have to get so worked up."

"If you could mess on someone else's time, I'd appreciate it," Tsukishima said sourly, but he stopped by the door. "If I'm going to be stuck in this dumb conference with Hinata of all people, I should at least get something out of it."

"And you will," Kuroo said, uncharacteristically serious. "That was only a warm-up. There are dozens of different types of annoying customers that you'll have to deal with. Probably not as bad as the one I just role-played, but definitely up there. By the end of this meeting on Thursday, I want you to be able to take on any of them without snapping. Does that make sense to you?"

"I suppose," Tsukishima sighed, trudging back to his seat. "Does that mean I get to go back to using the phone?"

"Don't be ridiculous, Tsukki. You're not off the hook yet."

"Bummer. And don't call me Tsukki."

 

They made it through the rest of the day with Tsukishima only almost storming out twice. Kuroo considered that a win. 

Chapter Text

Something is wrong.

That was Kageyama's first thought when he walked into the cubicle and found it empty. Hinata was always there early, since he was a kiss ass try-hard, but today the room was bare. 

"Hinata..." Kageyama called, just in case he was hiding in the corner or something to scare him. It wasn't April Fool's Day, but he wouldn't put it past him. Nobody responded to his call.

"Huh," he said to himself, putting his stuff away. "That's weird."

"Talking to yourself already, intern?" Tanaka asked, walking into the cubicle. Kageyama stiffened, embarrassed at having been witnessed talking to himself like a loon. "I swear, one minute without Shorty and you're already crazy."

"So you knew he's not coming in today?" Kageyama asked, the question coming out more accusatory than he'd intended. 

"Nope! Him and Tsukishima are at some fancy-ass conference in Tokyo. They won't be back until Friday, and probably tired as hell."

Kageyama took the news about as well as Daichi had expected, which was not well at all. He fought not to yell at Tanaka, who was just the messenger, instead taking his anger out on a pencil left on his desk.

"So Hinata and Tsukishima got chosen to go to this thing?" he asked.

"Yepppp. Daichi told them on Friday."

"How nice for them." He snapped the pencil in half briskly, throwing the pieces in the trash with a swift toss. "Very well. What will I be doing this whole week while they're representing the company to our higher ups in Tokyo?" He picked up another pencil, tossing it between hands.

Tanaka eyed the movement nervously. "Well for starters, you'll still be getting coffee today. If you can do it without breaking all of our pencil inventory, of course." Kageyama guiltily threw the second pencil, now in pieces, into the trash. "Yamaguchi can help you carry them, since he's also here. After that, I'll give you an assignment to do. Something you can do yourself."

"I can do everything myself. Hinata's more of a weight than a help."

He sent Kageyama a sympathetic look. "Don't worry, this week will pass before you know it."

"I'm not worried! Or jealous! Just- ugh, whatever. I'll get the damn coffee."

"Fantastic! Extra sugar for me today. I'm in a good mood."

"That makes one of us."

 

He found Yamaguchi in Suga's cubicle, stapling together papers.

"Guess you found out they're gone too, right?" he asked, taking in Kageyama's scowl. 

"I'm pretending they don't exist. Come with me to get the coffee, since Hi- since someone's not here today."

Yamaguchi smiled consolingly. "Harder than it seems, right? I'll come with you. I could use the fresh air."

The walk to the cafe is a lot more peaceful than it usually is. There's no racing, no bickering, nothing. It's like walking next to an actual human being, he thinks amusedly.

Needless to say, it's terribly boring.

When the coffee orders are being prepared, Yamaguchi turns to his phone. Kageyama wished he had done the same, because now he had no choice but to either stare out the window, watch the barista make the coffee, or watch whatever Yamaguchi's doing. He opted for the third option, discreetly watching his screen out of the corner of his eye. It doesn't last long.

"Kageyama, do you know who this is?" Yamaguchi asks, passing him his phone screen. He's on Snapchat, and the picture on the screen shows two people. One is very obviously Tsukishima, trademark scowl and all, and the other person is a complete mystery.

Kageyama stared at the picture for a while, then finally said, "Probably a manager like Tanaka or Suga, by the looks of it. Guess he's hanging out with Tsukishima, not that I'd recommend it."

"Shush. Look at the way his hand is on his shoulder. How do you think Tsukki feels about that?"

"I dunno. His face looks pretty much the same as it always does." Kageyama was getting confused by this line of questioning. "Why do you care?"

"I don't!" Yamaguchi is quick to say. "I just didn't think Tsukki liked hanging out with other people. He's always really bitter towards everyone except me and now you and Hinata. It's out of character for him. Maybe he's kidnapping him or something!"

Kageyama might've been stupid, but he wasn't completely oblivious. He knew a lovesick face when he saw one. "Yamaguchi, do you... have feelings for Tsukishima?" The words felt like slime in his mouth - who in their right mind would want to date him? - but he got them out anyway.

Yamaguchi instantly reddened, more or less confirming it. "What? Why would you say that?" He laughed nervously, quickly shutting off his phone. 

"You didn't say no," Kageyama was quick to point out.

"Well I meant to! It's just- ah, you know what? Fine. Yes. Happy?" Yamaguchi was practically hyperventilating by the end, and Kageyama was almost starting to miss the dullness of the walk there. He didn't think he could deal with a fainting college student on his hands.

"You have weird taste," he said bluntly. "I just want to know why."

Yamaguchi's face brightened instantly, as it always did when he talked about Tsukishima. "Oh, he's a genius. He double majored in Chemistry and Business, then minored in Archaeology just for the fun of it. He always gets this look in his eyes whenever he talks about something he's passionate about, like he can save the world with this new dinosaur fact. He's funny, and he can be nice when he wants to be." He paused, taking a few breaths. "Also he helped me get over my fear of confrontation long enough to get this internship, so I owe him a lot."

"Wait, you knew him before this?" And you still decided to come here?

"Course. We went to high school together. It was the two of us against the world." From the looks of it, Yamaguchi had been pining for a while. Kageyama didn't call him out on it because he did have a heart, screw you Hinata.

"So what're you gonna do about this?" Kageyama asked, pointing to Yamaguchi's phone.

"I don't know! Do I have to do something about it?"

He thought back to every shitty rom com his mom made him watch as a teen. "Well, if he's making you jealous, you have to make him jealous back," Kageyama said semi-confidently.

"Make him jealous? With who?" Yamaguchi asked, looking around the room. "No offense, Kageyama, but taking a picture with you won't exactly do the trick."

Just then, their order got rung up. The two of them went to the counter to pay, and it was then that Kageyama noticed the cashier, short and blonde as always. 

"She's cute," he said, because it was an undeniable fact, even if Kageyama wasn't into girls. "Why don't you ask her?"

"I can't just ask a girl to-"

"Ask a girl to what?" The cashier evidently overheard their conversation, and although she still looked timid, she was also intrigued. "Do you have to ask me something?"

"Um, you're really pretty, so-" 

"Oh! I'm sorry, I have a girlfriend," she said quickly, shooting him an apologetic smile. 

"Oh no, that's not what I wanted to ask!" Yamaguchi finally got a full sentence out, turning on his phone. "I'm trying to make my, uh, friend jealous, so if you don't mind can I take a really quick picture with you? Kageyama can be in it too, if that'll make it less weird. This whole situation is weird."

Between the two of them, the nervous energy was giving Kageyama chills. "Calm down, Yamaguchi. It's just a picture, you don't even need it-"

"I'll do it," the girl spoke up, looking like a woman on a mission. "I'll take the picture with you."

"Really? Thank you, I appreciate it," Yamaguchi said, oozing relief. He opened Snapchat, taking a quick selfie with the girl. "I'm Yamaguchi, by the way. That's Kageyama, but you probably see him a lot. I'm just a stand in for Hinata, who usually comes with him."

"Oh, I was wondering where the redhead was! I'm Yachi," she said. "Nice to meet you both officially."

"Uh, yeah, you too," Kageyama said, finally finding the opportunity to speak up. "I'm sorry to interrupt this, but I have the money for the coffee."

"Right, the coffee!" Yachi and Yamaguchi both said at the same time. Kageyama wondered how he hadn't seen how similar they were before. If Yachi didn't have a girlfriend, was bi, and Yamaguchi wasn't hung up on the worst human being alive, they'd make a nice couple.

The walk back was more interesting, to say the least, since every five seconds Yamaguchi would check to see if Tsukishima opened his snap. 

"He's probably not even looking at his phone," Kageyama finally sighed. "You're not getting anything out of this."

"Right, sorry!" 

 

They made it back to the office building, distributing the coffee to the workers. Yamaguchi was humming with nervous energy, but he looked more or less the same amount of happy as before. Kageyama felt a little better after that distraction, and went back to his cubicle to start working on the project.

Just as Tanaka had promised, it was something simple, something he could do himself. A couple of charts, a powerpoint, and a short speech about paper (what else?). He split the work up across the week, and went to work immediately. 

The feeling of wrongness returned when he paused in his key-clacking, finding the room silent. The room was never silent. Hinata was always humming, or fidgeting, or clicking a pen, or talking out loud to himself. There was never a moment of peace in the cubicle, and Kageyama had resented it, but now he had nothing but peace, and he wasn't enjoying it one bit. 

He thought about going to Sugawara's cubicle and working there, just so that he's be around other people, but he shoved the idea aside. He didn't need people thinking he was a codependent loon who couldn't spend an hour alone without going batshit. No, he'd have to deal with this on his own.

He couldn't deal with this on his own.

"Sir, do you have Hinata's number?" he asked, practically stomping into his office. 

"Uh, yeah, as part of his file. Why?"

"He organized the papers weirdly, and now I can't find the file I'm looking for," Kageyama lied. He didn't know why his brain was telling him to get the phone number, but if it could keep the insanity at bay, he'd listen.

"You don't have his phone number already? You've been working together for like two months!"

"I never felt like I needed it before." That part was true, although there were a couple of times when he might've used it. Like when Hinata left his coat in the office like a dumbass, or when he needed to be reminded to finish something over the weekend.

"Fair enough. Come take your digits, young one. You've earned them."

It felt weird to add Hinata's contact to his phone, since he only had a handful of others. His parents, his younger sister, his grandparents, the office number, and Oikawa, which he never got around to deleting. 

On the other hand, putting Hinata into his phone somehow felt right. He already had a profile picture ready, from when he stole his phone and took three hundred selfies with it. Kageyama had started to delete them, but got lazy and just left them. That meant he had one hundred and forty seven pictures to choose from. 

In the end, he chose one that wasn't too ugly, and also had a bit of himself in the background. He did all of this from the safety of his empty cubicle, not wanting Tanaka's judgement. He'd have a hundred wisecracks to make, and Kageyama didn't need any of them.

Then it was only a matter of actually making the call. Kageyama's finger hovered over the green button for what felt like hours, locked in indecision.

What're you doing, dumbass? You're distracted from your work, you're wasting time, and now you're calling dumbass #2 who will just distract you more. You should take advantage of this opportunity and actually get some work done. This voice sounded like himself, just angrier. Probably how he sounded when he talked to everyone else back at Oikawa's building.

You're not gonna do anything just standing like that, stupid. Make the call, talk for a bit, and you'll feel better afterwards. Be nicer to yourself, dumbass! This one sounded like Hinata, sunshine inflected in every syllable. 

It was no surprise when his finger slammed down on the button, all hesitation gone.

He held the ringing phone to his ear for centuries, millennia, eons upon eons it rang. He could sense the automated voice coming to tell him to leave a message or try again later. He probably wouldn't do either. This was a do or die mission.

But a miracle occurred. Instead of a monotonic female voice, it was Hinata's out of breath panting that he heard.

"Hello?" he asked, and Kageyama was silent for a second before he remembered that Hinata didn't know who it was.

"It's me, dumbass. Kageyama." He didn't know why he was calling him a dumbass, but it felt right in the moment.

"Kageyama? Why're you calling?" He didn't ask how he got his number, which was a relief because Kageyama really didn't feel like telling him that he went to Tanaka to get it. Lies spread lies spread lies, after all. 

"You randomly disappeared, dumbass. Why didn't you tell me you were going to a conference?" he asked, completely ignoring Hinata's question.

"I didn't want you to be jealous! You sound super pissed, by the way."

"I'm not pissed or jealous. This is my normal voice." It was, plus a little bit of extra ease, which he was glad didn't transfer over the phone lines. He didn't need Hinata knowing that he felt comfortable around him.

"Alright... why are you calling, then?" 

Kageyama thought about giving the same lie that he told Tanaka, but decided screw it, it's truth time. 

"It's too quiet in here. I need your loud, rambling voice as background noise." He expected silence, maybe for him to hang up, but instead Hinata started laughing.

"That's such a you thing to say, Bakageyama! Whoo, I missed your jerkness today. Everyone was really nice and nobody called me a dumbass at all. Except Tsukishima, but he sucks, you know that."

Kageyama nodded subconsciously, putting Hinata on speaker and setting his phone down on the table. "So what did you do in that fancy conference anyway today?"

"Oh, loads of stuff! I met Bokuto - he's my mentor - and he's really cool! He's teaching me how to do public speaking and be confident enough to draw the crowd in."

"I thought you're plenty confident already," Kageyama said, powering up his computer. He could feel the will to work returning to him. 

"I know, right? But he's teaching me to be even better so it's all good. And there's this guy named Lev who..."

Hinata continued talking for about twenty minutes, and Kageyama continued listening. In the meantime, he finished nearly all of the work he set for himself, doing it on autopilot while he listened to Hinata and made an affirmative noise every so often.

"Shoot, I have to go. We had a break for lunch, so I was in the middle of eating when you called, but I went to the hallway so we could talk. Now they're announcing that the buffet is closing, so I gotta run to finish up."

"Go, dumbass, enjoy your fancy buffet," Kageyama said without any of the malice he intended. "Eat some fancy hotel food for me."

"I will! Organize some papers for me."

"You little-"

Hinata started laughing again, and Kageyama let his temporary anger flow away. Even once he hung up the phone, his good mood lasted for the rest of the day. Tanaka commented on it multiple times, but he chalked it up to a productive day of work.

They both knew he was lying. 

Chapter Text

The next morning, Hinata woke up feeling pumped. He was still basking in the afterglow of Kageyama calling him - he would be able to hold that over him forever - and on top of that, he woke up in time for breakfast. Tsukishima looked a little annoyed at having to walk with him downstairs, but nothing could kill Hinata's vibe. 

"'Morning, Bokuto-san!" he shouted when he saw his mentor across the room. The man waved him over enthusiastically, and Hinata ran over, leaving Tsukishima alone by the buffet. He would invite him over to sit with them, but for some reason he felt that wouldn't be taken so well.

"Hey hey hey, Shrimpy, I see you got up early this time," Bokuto said when he sat down beside him, plate full.

"Yep! I slept a lot better last night."

Bokuto introduced him to the other people at the table. Besides Lev and Kuroo, who he was already familiar with, there was Yamamoto (Tanaka look-alike), Yaku (short and angry), Terushima (who was pierced a lot more times than Hinata thought was allowed), and Koganegawa (tall, loud, and blond). They were all friendly, and Hinata blended into their group instantly.

"Where's Kenma?" he asked Kuroo, stuffing a piece of toast into his mouth. "I haven't seen him since yesterday."

"Oh, he doesn't eat breakfast down here," Kuroo replied, waving a hand in the air. "Says it's too loud or something. I dunno, he likes the quiet."

"Huh. Sorta like Tsukishima, but he's not grumpy and mean and stuff."

"He's nothing like Tsukishima!"

"They're both blond."

"And???"

When breakfast was over, they returned to their respective conference rooms. Hinata followed Lev and Bokuto eagerly, swinging his arms as he walked. 

"Are we gonna do something new today?" he asked, trying to keep up with their long strides. 

"We'll see how you do today. Honestly, I didn't plan much," Bokuto admitted. "I can always improvise, though!"

"Yes! Improvisation! Amazing!"

"Geez, Hinata, even I have a limit to my energy at nine in the morning," Lev said, rubbing his head. 

Bokuto had them back on new speeches as soon as they got inside, and Hinata read his over religiously. He didn't want to be called out again, and he was eager to learn something new that day. Public speaking was so yesterday.

"Alright Hinata, if you're finished, lemme see what you got!" Bokuto said, clapping his hands together once. Lev also looked up from his paper, probably to learn from Hinata's mistakes. He wasn't planning on giving him any learning material.

Hinata took a deep breath, then began to read out loud. Even if he wasn't sure how a word was pronounced, he powered through it, eyes set in determination. He didn't bother looking up from his paper, not wanting Bokuto's face to throw him off, but he was hoping it was a positive reaction.

Once he finished, he snuck a look upwards. Lev looked impressed, and he patted him on the shoulder with a booming, "That was great!" Bokuto soon followed, giving him a double high five. 

"Nailed it, shorty!" he exclaimed. "I get all that power from listening to you. Look up a little more next time and you'll be golden. Lev, you're up!"

Towards the end of Lev's speech, a new figure walked through the door. He was medium height, with wavy black hair and a neutral expression. Nobody extraordinary. As soon as Bokuto saw him, however, he jumped up from his seat enthusiastically.

"Keiji! My love! My everything! What are you doing here?" he asked, squeezing him in a probably-bone-crushing hug and pecking him on the cheek. To his credit, the guy didn't do more than pat him on the head, blush a little, and struggle to breath.

"Koutarou, your interns are staring," he observed, still within Bokuto's clutches.

"Right! Sorry, I should introduce you. Hinata, Lev, this is Akaashi Keiji, my fiance, the best human being on the planet, my one true love-"

"Koutarou."

"Got it!" Bokuto finally released him, but dragged him by the hand to an empty chair near Hinata and Lev. "Here, sit and watch them present. I taught them everything they know."

"It's nice to meet you both," Akaashi said, finally addressing the two of them. Hinata shook his hand, a little bit in awe of him. Anyone who could handle Bokuto that calmly was obviously a force to be reckoned with.

"So why are you here?" Bokuto asked, now pacing in front of him. It seemed like just the sight of Akaashi filled him with adrenaline (well, more adrenaline than usual). "You slept in a bunch, too. I would've woken you up for breakfast, but you looked so comfortable."

"I'm here because they sent me to see how you were doing. My intern is doing computer work. And not that we should be talking about this in front of your interns, but you kick a lot in your sleep when you're in an unfamiliar bed," Akaashi said, half glaring at him. "I tried to get what little sleep I could."

Hinata and Lev suddenly became very interested in their speeches on their laps.

"What?! I'm so sorry, Keiji. I'll sleep on the couch tonight, I promise. Oh, I feel so guilty! Please forgive me!"

"It's fine, Kou, you didn't mean it. I'll be fine tonight." He shot a glance towards the two interns, apparently taking pity on them. "You said that they prepared a speech, right? Well have them read it over so I can hear. I also work in business, if that wasn't clear." He said the last part addressing Lev and Hinata. "Different building than Koutarou, of course. I work in the Aoba Johsai building now."

"Bastards moved him when they found out we were dating," Bokuto muttered under his breath. Akaashi elbowed him in the side.

Hinata was caught up on something else, though. "Wait. You work in the Aoba Johsai building?"

"Uh, yes. Why do you ask?"

"Did you ever meet anyone named Kageyama Tobio? Black hair, scowls all the time, kinda tall?"

Akaashi thought it over. "I only transferred in the middle of last year, but I think I saw him around a couple of times. He followed Oikawa-san around often, right?" Hinata nodded furiously. "Ah, then yes, I know who you're referring to. He always looked miserable, in my opinion. I hope he's happier wherever he switched."

"He works at Karasuno now! We're co-interns," Hinata said, pointing a finger to his chest. "He's grumpy sometimes, but I think he likes it there."

Akaashi raised an eyebrow, the corners of his mouth turning up slightly, but he didn't say anything more on the matter. "So, your speeches..."

"Yes sir!"

Akaashi was more critical than Bokuto, for sure, chewing on his lip whenever he was about to give criticism. 

"You definitely have Koutarou's enthusiasm, Hinata," he said, and Hinata prepared himself for the "but". "Just try to keep it confident rather than excited. We're business-people. We don't experience joy, remember?" 

Hinata only realized a second later that he was joking, and gave a short laugh. Akaashi continued. "Your tone is good, though, and very consistently strong. Good job."

"Thank you, Akaashi-san!" His praise also felt better than Bokuto's, since it was more rare.

"Now Lev, let me hear you say yours again. Remember: enunciation is key."

"Got it, sir!"

"Koutarou, are you running a boot camp?"

"Of course not, Keiji sir!"

"Hilarious. Alright, let's take it from the top."

 

Back at the other room, Kuroo finally deemed Tsukishima ready to take a call. 

"Alright," he started, walking towards the real phone. Tsukishima couldn't put into words how relieved he was that he wouldn't have to use a pen again. "The next call is all yours. I told my intern - backup one, since my usual one is here - to put any calls I get through to this phone. This is real business stuff, Tsukki. Don't screw it up."

"No pressure, Kuroo-san. And call me Tsukishima, for the love of god."

"Tsukkikishima it is, to compromise!"

"On second thought, I prefer Tsukki."

Just then, the phone rang, sparing him the rest of that inane conversation. He picked up the phone, taking a deep breath.

"Nekoma paper company, how may I help you?"

"Tsukishima? Is that you?"

Tsukishima almost hung up the phone. "Did you put Daichi up to this?" he asked accusingly, glaring daggers at Kuroo. The man in question put his hands up, the picture of innocence.

"I did no such thing. Don't leave your boss waiting, though."

Tsukishima returned to the phone with a sigh. "Hello, Daichi-san. How may I be of service?"

There was a sound at the other end of the line, like Daichi was choking on something. "Uh, I wasn't aware you would be answering the phone," he said, chuckling a little. "I was just calling to make some arrangements with a shipment."

"According to Kuroo-san, I have to be put to work, so just arrange it through me, I suppose." Tsukishima sent Kuroo an imploring look, begging to be relieved of his duty, but no cigar. 

You'll be fine, he mouthed, giving Tsukishima a thumbs up. He never hated him more than in that second.

Meanwhile, Daichi was thinking it over on his end. "Alright, I suppose this is good training," he said slowly. "Get a notepad and a pen. I'll tell you what to write down."

The whole ordeal took twenty minutes, and by the end, Tsukishima was smoking from the ears.

"How was any of that supposed to help me make sales?" he asked, dropping the phone onto the receiver. 

"I dunno. You learned to deal with an uncomfortable situation, you used the hold button, you took notes. Why do anything?"

"This isn't the time for philosophy, Kuroo-san, this is training time. Hinata's probably-" He cut himself off, but it was too late. Kuroo jumped up from his seat, his eyes glinting.

"No no, don't stop talking. This is new. Interesting. Finish your sentence."

"I have nothing else to say."

"No no no, yes you do. You're bringing up Shrimpy. Why is that? Are you threatened by him or something?"

Tsukishima knew that no matter what he did, Kuroo would assume he knew everything, so he tried to remedy the situation as best as he could. "As two interns vying for a position in the same company, I'm fully aware that he is my competition. I am also aware that he has more energy than me, and can work faster. I'm just trying my best not to fall behind, sir."

Kuroo was unimpressed by this. "You're smarter than him, it's obvious. Why're you so negative?"

"I'm not negative, I'm realistic. Now can we get back to sales calls?"

"Nope! Sales calls time is over. Bokuto told me about his confidence building stuff and I called it stupid, but I'm taking it back now. We're gonna try that instead." He motioned for Tsukishima to stand up. "The quicker we do this, the quicker we'll get back to the boring stuff."

"Is that what you call your job? What a sad way to live."

"Silence! It's confidence time."

Kuroo and Tsukishima stood facing each other, hands by their sides. Kuroo was having way too much fun with this, but Tsukishima was starting to learn that he was that way with everything he did.

"Now repeat after me: I am the best intern in this damn company."

"Kuroo-san, this is so dumb-"

"Hush! I said repeat after me."

"...I am the best intern in this company," Tsukishima mumbled, staring at his toes. Kuroo was unsatisfied.

"Again! Louder! Don't forget the damn!"

"I am the best intern in this damn company."

"One more time."

"I am the best intern in this damn company!" Tsukishima's hands were balled into fists, and he was shouting just a little, but it didn't feel like it did anything anyway. What a waste of time. 

"I know what you're thinking," Kuroo said, leaning against the wall. "'Oh, this didn't do anything. What a waste of time.'"

"How did you-"

"Shush. It might not seem like anything now, but if you keep doing it, eventually you'll believe it. And that's the moment you'll reach your full potential." Kuroo was full on grinning now, and Tsukishima felt his hands unball themselves against his will. 

"You really think so?" It didn't come out half as sarcastic as he intended.

"I'm positive about it. Now sit your ass back down, it's boring time once again."

"Hooray."

"Don't sass me, young man!"

 

After dinner, Hinata and Tsukishima went back to their room. Tsukishima waited for Hinata to fall asleep, then went to the balcony, shutting the door behind him. He looked around to make sure no one else was there, then took a deep breath.

"I am the best intern in this damn company. I am the best intern in this damn company!" He grew self conscious after two and went back inside, whistling to himself. It still didn't feel like anything was happening, but it was worth trying.

The final day passed by quickest of all. Kuroo insisted on starting the day with those damned statements - affirmations, he called them - and Tsukishima adjusted to them. Hinata made it through his entire speech without so much as a waver, and Bokuto declared him ready for the outside world. Everything was looking up for the two of them.

When their stuff was packed into the car, the two of them went back into the hotel to say their goodbyes. They found Kuroo, along with the rest of his friends, hanging out in the lobby. He waved them over, sitting up on the couch.

"You guys have to be back by tomorrow, right?" he asked, pulling on his jacket. "Well you have a little time before you have to go. How about you come get drinks with us?"

Chapter Text

"This is a bad idea," Tsukishima said from the passenger seat. Hinata was driving the both of them to the bar, following Kuroo's car in the dark. It wasn't difficult, given that he drove a bright green punch buggy.

"Relax," Hinata said. "It's a few shots. You'll be nice and sober by the time we get to the office. And if you're so resistant to all of this, how about you be the designated driver?"

"Hell no. If there's one thing worse than hanging around your drunk bosses, it's hanging around your drunk bosses while sober. And you pulled the short straw fair and square." He sat in thoughtful silence for a moment. "Maybe short things are just attracted to you."

"Do you want me to drive back? I could drive us home right now. All of our bags are packed."

"Ugh, I hate how you have power now. Just take us to the bar."

"Roger that."

They made it to the place, parking near the front. It was a smallish club, dimly lit from the inside. The two of them got out of the car, following the rest of the gang to the door. 

Out of all of them, only Hinata was carded. What a surprise.

"I'm twenty one!" he insisted, showing off his driver's license. "These two are the same age as me. It's not my fault I'm short."

"Yeah, whatever, I don't need your whole backstory. Just get inside," the bouncer said tiredly. 

"Thanks!"

It wasn't hard to find everyone else, since they were such a big group. Hinata approached them, his mood souring when he saw that they were already doing shots. Ah, the sober one at a party. Guess that's my life now. 

"Hey, Shoyo," he heard someone say softly, and he turned around to find Kenma standing behind him, holding a can of coke. "You're not drinking either?"

"Designated driver," Hinata grumbled, sitting down on a stool. "What about you?"

"I'm not big on drinking. Or crowded places, or loud music, or most of the people here."

"So this must be hell for you."

"Basically." He gave Hinata a small smile, indicating that he was joking, to an extent. "So how did you find the meeting?"

"Oh, it was great! It was so fancy and big and I learned a lot!" He gave a quick recap of his few days, stopping every so often to see if Kenma was still listening. Surprisingly, he always was. 

He finished it off by saying, "Oh, give me your phone! I want to give you my number in case we ever have one of these again. It would be cool for our buildings to be in touch with each other."

"They're already in touch, through our bosses," Kenma said, but he handed his phone over anyway.

When Hinata was finished, he quickly texted himself. "There! Now we're linked."

"Yeah, now we are."

To Kenma, Hinata was an enigma. He was used to dealing with Kuroo and his shrewd humor, and Lev with his outward loudness. But Hinata had a sort of try-hard quality to him that Lev didn't have. While Lev did his work properly, Hinata viewed every assignment as something to prove to the world, and put all of his effort into it as such.

Maybe it was the short thing. Kenma was aware that statistically, short people had less of a chance of achieving things for some reason. He didn't let it bother him, as he didn't care much about doing big things.

But it didn't seem like just that. For some reason, Hinata seemed determined to be the best in everything, even things that weren't a competition, like eating or walking down the street. Every move was to make a point. It was exhausting for Kenma to watch him, or even just be near him.

Exhausting and... strangely exhilarating. 

"You're an interesting person," he said aloud. Hinata started.

"Huh? Whaddya mean?"

Just then, they heard Kuroo shout, "Kenmaaaaaaa! C'mere and do shots with us! I'm winning by like two but you c'n catch up quick!"

"I better go before he does something dumb like another shot," Kenma sighed, standing up. "It was nice seeing you again, Shoyo. We should meet up again sometime. Maybe at your office for a day. I dunno, just a thought."

"Yeah! I could show you around my cubicle and everything!" He waved goodbye, sitting back on his stool. Then he ordered himself a water and stared at the bar. 

 

"Fiiiiiiinally Kenma," Kuroo slurred as Kenma approached him. "You walk so slowly."

"I walk at a normal pace, Kuroo. How many shots have you taken?"

"I dunno, six? I havta beat Terushima, he's catching up to me."

"Yuuji's blood is literally alcoholic, you won't be able to beat him even if you drink until you pass out. Which you shouldn't, we have work tomorrow."

"Ugh, don't talk about work. I can feel a migraine coming on already just from the word." He looked up from his drink, a shit eating grin already plastered on his face. "Soooo what were you talking about with Shrimpy over there?"

Kenma stiffened instantly, and it wasn't because of the nickname. He knew that look on Kuroo's face. "Nothing. Just complaining about how everyone here is drunk. I was even more right that I originally thought."

"Nuh uh, don't lie t' me. There was more to it, I know it. I could see you give him your number all the way from here."

"I was showing him something on my phone, that's all. And I can't take you seriously when you're sipping a margarita."

"And you had that look on your face," Kuroo continued, undeterred. "Like when you realize we have a day off, or when Lev brings coffee for everyone. The really-happy-but-don't-wanna-show-it look."

"I have no idea what you're talking about."

"You do."

"I don't."

"You do." 

"I don't, Kuroo, please."

"...you do."

"Not!"

 

"Oy, Red!" Hinata looked up to find Tsukishima approaching him. Judging by the stumble in his step, he was definitely more than a little drunk. Hinata almost felt bad that his first thought was wondering how best to mess with him. Almost.

"Tsukishima. What're you doing here?" he asked, beaming at him. Tsukishima sized him up in his normal way, albeit a little bit slower.

"'m sick of doing shots and you look like a loser all by yourself, so I'm here to put you out of your misery." Mean drunks were Hinata's least favorite type of people. Why bother going out and trying to have fun when you're going to be an asshole the whole time?

"How thoughtful of you," Hinata deadpanned, all traces of a smile gone. "Is there anything else you need, or should I get Kuroo to deal with you? Not that he's any more sober than you are... Maybe I can call Suga? No, he'd probably be even madder than Daichi. I know! I'll get Kageyama. He's good at scolding people and calling them dumbasses. He'll be perfect."

Tsukishima ignored his whole monologue, resting his elbows on the bar counter and waving his phone away. "Don't want the king righ now, but yeah, you c'n help me with something. Who's this?" He pulled out his own phone, bringing up a picture of Kageyama, Yamaguchi, and...

"Oh! That's the barista from the coffee shop we always go to," Hinata explained, taking a closer look at the picture. It was from a day ago, screenshotted from Yamaguchi's snapchat.

Kageyama looked vaguely uncomfortable, as he always did around people he didn't know too well, but Yamaguchi and the barista looked... pretty cheery. "Why, you think they're dating? They look kinda cute. Maybe that's why you look all jealous and stuff."

Hinata wasn't completely oblivious. He knew that his comment would make Tsukishima annoyed, at the very least. Still, he wasn't prepared for the full on scowl he got, in addition to Tsukishima ordering another shot of tequila.

"Bull," he said, downing it in one gulp. "They can't be dating. He'd tell me 'f he was dating someone. We're fuckin' best friends for years. Don't give me that look, Tiny."

"Ok man, whatever you say," Hinata said, back in appeasing mode. Tsukishima wasn't done, though.

"An' he could do so much better than her. She's tiny, like you. He should be with someone tall. Taller'n him. Tadashi likes tall people th' best."

"What, like you?" Hinata joked, but Tsukishima was dead serious.

"Yeah, 'm like ten times hotter than her. He'd be better with me any day. And he's like super bi, so I definitely have a better chance than she does. Gimme the damn phone." He grabbed it from Hinata, squinting at the picture. "Meh. She's alright looking. Prolly super boring though. And awful at fuc-"

"Okay, I've heard way too much for a sober person!" Hinata shouted, jumping off his stool. "I'll see you when you're ready to leave, Tsukishima! I hope you know I'm holding this over you forever by the way. I couldn't delete it from my brain if I wanted to, which I sorta do right now. Thank you for the trauma."

"Whatever," Tsukishima said, waving him off. His eyes never broke away from his phone.

 

Hinata spent the next hour having on-off conversations with the random drunk business people around him. Bokuto was a sappy drunk, and wouldn't let go of Akaashi, who was a tired drunk and dozed off on his shoulder almost immediately after taking a shot. 

Yamamoto was a sad drunk, and Hinata had to console him when a girl at the bar turned him down.

"She was so mean!" he sobbed, and Hinata awkwardly patted him on the back while apologizing to the girl, who was just as uncomfortable as he was.

"He'll be fine," he assured her, giving her a big thumbs up. "Please, don't mind him."

Kuroo was a happy drunk, thank god, because Hinata couldn't deal with consoling another person.

"You enjoying yourself, Shrimpy?" he asked, sipping a fruity drink. 

"Not really, since I'm like the only sober one here, but it's nice to be able to say goodbye to everyone," Hinata answered honestly.

"Fair enough. Make sure you get to say goodbye to everyone, ya hear." Hinata didn't know what he meant, but nodded anyway. "Bartender, get me another one of these! I'm feeling rich tonight."

Kenma was around in the beginning, but he melted into the shadows, only appearing every so often. He was good for a couple of words, but too introverted for a real conversation.

Lev was also nowhere to be seen, but Yaku said that he went home with someone. 

"He always gets guys and girls. It's the height," he said bitterly, crushing a beer can. True to his nature, Yaku was an angry drunk. 

"Are you guys... something?" Hinata asked, not wanting to be too invasive. He had gotten enough personal details from Tsukishima to last him a lifetime. 

"Open relationship. Friends with benefits. It's complicated," Yaku said simply, and went to find another drink. Hinata's heart went out to him, but he couldn't dwell on it for long, because suddenly Terushima was pulling him to the dance floor.

"Tonight's about fun, shorty," he said, keeping a hand on Hinata's wrist. "Don't let the downers keep you down."

Oh, so he's a flirty drunk, Hinata thought. Not the worst kind of person. I could use a distraction, anyway.

He let himself be pulled by Terushima to the music. Hinata wasn't coordinated at all when it came to dancing, but he had a lot of energy, so hopefully it made up for his complete lack of talent.

At one point he noticed Terushima's tongue stud shining in the strobe lights.

"What does it feel like?" he shouted to be heard over the music, pointing to his tongue. Terushima leaned in closer, so their faces were only inches apart.

"Wanna feel? Mouth to mouth only, sweets."

Hinata thought it over, then shook his head. "I'm not really up for a fling," he shouted, and Terushima nodded.

"I gotchu. Just don't waste your youth waiting for one person, ya know? There's a whole world of people out there for you to try! That's my philosophy in life." He spun away to dance with someone else, and Hinata shuffled to the side, Terushima's words ruminating in his mind. He wasn't waiting for one specific person, not really. He just knew he was looking for something, and he didn't find it yet. That wasn't so wrong, right?

"Shrimpy! Your coworker's passed out at the table. Guess that's your cue to leave, right?"

"I guess." He held out a hand. "It was really nice meeting you, Kuroo-san. I hope you invite me to another one of these meetings!"

Instead of shaking the hand, Kuroo pulled him in for a hug. "No problem, shorty. Come back soon, ya hear?"

"For sure! One last thing: can you help me take Tsukishima to the car?"

The two of them hefted Tsukishima's comatose body to Hinata's car, laying him down in the back seat.

"Are you sure you'll be alright driving all night? It's probably not healthy," Kuroo said, slamming the car door behind Tsukishima. "You could stay in the hotel for one more night and leave in the morning."

"Nah, I'll be alright. I want to make it for at least one day of work this week," Hinata said, holding up a pair of five hour energies. "Thanks for everything! Tell Kenma and everyone else that I say bye."

"Will do. Safe journey!"

 

The ride back was long and arduous. Hinata had control of the radio, but he had to keep the music low as to not wake Tsukishima up. At the same time, he needed something to keep himself occupied. He briefly considered calling Kageyama, but decided against it. Even though he technically owed him one, three in the morning wasn't the right time to claim that favor from him. He opened another energy drink and hoped it would be enough.

It was, but it felt like hell itself. Don't try this at home, kids. 

When they arrived at Tsukishima's apartment, Hinata shook him awake, handing him a water bottle when he stirred. From the looks of it, he remembered everything and deeply regretted it.

"Your mouth will stay closed," he said simply, eyes narrowed as he took in Hinata's smug expression. Or maybe he was squinting from the sunlight. Either way, golden.

"Closed for what? I don't know what you're talking about."

"Fine. Be that way. I look forward to seeing what a wreck you are at work after not sleeping for a day straight." He grabbed his suitcase from the back, leaving with a quick, "Thanks for the ride."

"No problem!" Hinata shouted back, driving away. With his new information in tow, he knew it was going to be a fun day. Even if his eye bags were carrying eye bags.

Chapter Text

Kageyama's first thought when he sees Hinata sitting in his chair bright and early Friday morning is Oh, he's back!, immediately followed by and he looks like hell. He looked every minute of the hours long drive it probably was from Tokyo. His hair was mussed, his eyes were half closed, and it looked like it took far too much effort to keep his head up. 

Still, as soon as he saw Kageyama, he straightened in his chair, trying to send him a smile.

"Morning, Kageyama," he said blearily. "Work time already?"

"You look like a wreck," Kageyama said in lieu of a proper response, because he always said exactly what came to mind. "Did you sleep at all throughout the conference?"

"Ha, funny. It was a long drive last night, 'kay? Now where are the damn files we gotta do." Every sentence was punctuated with either a yawn or an eye rub. It was almost unbearable to watch. 

In a rare act of sympathy, Kageyama said, "Don't worry about the files. Take a nap or something, and you can help after lunch. It doesn't bother me." It bothers me that you came into work even though you can barely sit up straight. 

"Nah, 's alright," Hinata tried to say. "File work takes no brain power 't all. I could do it in my sleep."

"I'm serious. At least if you nap, you'll be half-useful later." Hinata was stubborn, but he was also barely conscious, and Kageyama was a far stronger arguer here. He knew he was beaten, and it wasn't like a nap would kill him.

"Thanks, 'yama," he finally said, and rested his head on his folded arms. Within a few minutes, he was gently snoring away on top of a small stack of papers, his hair flopped over his face. 

Kageyama tried to file the papers, but it was difficult when Hinata was right there, snoozing peacefully. He had a different air when he was asleep, a lot more subdued, but it was still enough to fill the room. Every so often, he would look up just to see that he was still there, because knowing that Hinata was a few feet away without hearing him was almost as unbearable as not seeing him at all.

Finally, about an hour before lunch, Hinata groaned, stretching his neck from side to side. Kageyama quickly put all of his attention to the papers, since Hinata's bedhead was the opposite of dignified, but still bright as ever.

"My neck is killing me," he said, wincing as he turned his head, but at least he seemed more alert. "You do a lot of work while I was out, Kageyama?"

"You mean while you were at the conference, or while you were asleep?" Kageyama asked, putting away another file. I won't stare at his hair, I won't stare at his hair, I won't.

"Both, I guess," Hinata concurred.

"Obviously. I probably got more done without you than with you." Ok, I'm staring. Sue me.

"And it wasn't too quiet for you?" Hinata asked, his voice taking on a teasing lilt. Oh, so that was how he wanted to play it.

"I'm sorry for calling you, obviously it was a mistake," Kageyama groaned, rolling his eyes. 

"Aw, don't be that way. You can call me any time it's too quiet. The library, the temple, if the bathroom it empty and it throws you off-"

"Your hair's a mess," Kageyama cut him off, effectively ending that line of conversation. "When's the last time you looked in a mirror?"

"Tokyo," Hinata admitted, crossing his arms. "What are you, the dress code police?"

"Someone who doesn't want you to look like an idiot, dumbass," he said simply, walking over to where Hinata was sitting. "If you're not going to fix it, then I will."

"Huh?! Stay away from my hair! I can do it myself!"

"Hold still, jackass, you're going to make it worse!"

Kageyama did his best to fix Hinata's mess of a head, but it was difficult. He had more hair than he knew what to do with, and it was mussed to all hell. Still, he didn't give up until it was at the level of messiness that it normally was.

"Thanks," Hianta said sullenly, patting his head. 

"Whatever," Kageyama responded, already over it. "Now come help me with the files, since you're finally awake."

"You're the one who told me to nap!"

"Irrelevant."

As they finished putting away the papers, Hinata suddenly gasped. "I completely forgot to tell you! I have the best news on the planet. Better than anything you'll ever hear maybe ever. But you have to swear not to tell anyone."

Kageyama is confused, but also more than a little curious. "Alright, I swear. Now what is it?"

"Tsukishima totally has a thing for Yamaguchi."

"Get out." It's not completely unbelievable, given that he doesn't bully him like he does everyone else, but Tsukishima having romantic feelings for another person? In Kageyama's mind, you had to have a soul to have romantic feelings, and even though they were now sort of friends, he still wasn't 100% sure that Tsukishima wasn't the devil.

"I'm serious. He told me and everything when he was plastered. He was all, 'He'd be so much better with me,' and 'I'm like 100 times hotter than her,'" Hinata said, trying to imitate Tsukishima's low voice. "I'm going to have this over him forever!"

Then Kageyama did something that was so shocking, it stopped Hinata's chuckles in their place: he laughed. It was a low sound, far more quiet than Hinata's boisterous laugh, but it definitely was there. Hinata wasn't sure he'd ever heard Kageyama laugh, but now he never wanted it to stop. It turned him from a grumpy coworker, to someone more... human.

Too soon, Kageyama noticed his staring. "What?"

"Nothing!" Hinata said quickly, busying himself with his work. "Did Yamaguchi say anything about Tsukishima?"

"Oh yeah, he's totally hung up on him. He sent a picture of him and the cafe girl just to make him jealous."

"I knew that was intentional! God, they're so oblivious." He paused, a devilish smile taking over his features. "You know what this means, right?"

"...we should set them up?"

"No, idiot, we have dirt on both of them! We can finally get revenge on them for messing with us that first week."

Kageyama recalled the first week that they had sat at lunch together, all the awkwardness he endured, and his grin matched Hinata's. "How do we do that?"

"Simple: we make things as awkward for them as we can. Just follow my lead, I'll show you how it's done."

When lunch rolled around, Hinata could not stop smiling. It was almost scary how devious he could be when he wanted to be.

"Alright, here it goes," he whispered to Kageyama as they sat across from Yamaguchi and Tsukishima. They looked about the same, besides for the fact that Tsukishima was wearing shades instead of his usual glasses.

"They're prescription sunglasses," he said simply. "Also can you idiots keep your voices down today? It's even more intolerable than usual."

Hinata nodded to Kageyama, who nodded back. It was go time.

"So, Tsukishima," Hinata drawled, flashing him a smile. "You and Kuroo are pretty close, huh? You hung around each other a ton the whole time."

"He was my mentor, of course we hung out a lot," Tsukishima said. His face was calm, but his tone screamed what the hell are you doing?

It took Kageyama a moment, but he caught on. "Yamaguchi, you and that cafe worker were also pretty close. Week of love, wasn't it, Hinata?"

"She has a girlfriend-" Yamaguchi started to protest, but Hinata cut him off. 

"Oh, that was the girl? I saw her from Tsukishima's phone. She's cute, Yamaguchi, you shouldn't just give up on her! Maybe she'll break up with her girlfriend and then you can try."

The two of them were having way too much fun with this. Yamaguchi was beet red in the face, stammering out excuses, and Tsukishima's mouth was pressed into a straight line. 

"He can't calculate his way out of this! This is art in the making," Hinata whispered. Kageyama could only nod and bump shoulders with him, he was grinning too hard. 

Then suddenly, Tsukishima's shoulders straightened, and his "charming" smile reappeared. It sent chills through the both of them, because they didn't know what was coming. 

"Hinata, you had a pretty big night last night too, didn't you?" he asked, smirking. 

"What do you mean?" Hinata knew exactly what he meant, but he didn't know if Tsukishima had the nerve to say.

"You and that blond guy, Terushima. It totally looked like you were going to bang him. Here, I took a picture because I thought it was funny." He pulled out his phone, all of his usual ease back in him. There they were, Hinata and Terushima, only a few feet apart. Hinata looked very intently focused on his mouth, because he was, but only because it was the first time he'd ever seen a tongue piercing in person.

"I didn't bang him though," he said, face heating up. "Also you sound really smug for someone who just admitted to taking a picture of me without consent. That's illegal, you know." He felt guilty for some reason, but he couldn't put his finger on it.

"Huh," Kageyama said simply. He didn't want to look at the picture any more than necessary, but he couldn't break his eyes away from it. He wondered if Hinata was telling the truth or if he really did bang this guy. He was pretty hot, after all. He wondered why he cared so much if he did.

"Now that we're all really uncomfortable, can we talk about something else besides love?" Yamaguchi asked, breaking the tension palpable in the air. Love? Was that what was in Hinata's eyes in that picture?

"Fine by me," Hinata said shortly, and they went back to eating. There wasn't the same ease as before, though, not for either pair.

When they left the table, cleaning up their trash, Hinata said, "Well that went well."

"Yep."

"Just so you know, I didn't sleep with that guy. I didn't even make out with him." He declined to mention the fact that Terushima offered, only because he felt like that was unnecessary information. "Tsukishima was just being an asshole as always."

"Hate that guy," Kageyama muttered with more venom than usual. He didn't know whether his wrath was completely directed towards Tsukishima, or maybe also that blond guy in the picture, but he wasn't going to think about that. "Did you see how uncomfortable he got when you mentioned Kuroo? I wish I got a picture of that."

"Right? And Yamaguchi looked like he was seconds away from a heart attack. What a golden moment."

"Absolutely beautiful." Kageyama didn't know why he felt the need to say it, but he asked, "Are we good?"

Hinata's face wrinkled in confusion. "Yeah, why wouldn't we be? We're not the ones who were totally owned just now."

"Yeah, you're right. I don't know, just checking." 

Chapter Text

There was an unspoken agreement between Hinata and Kageyama the next Monday that they wouldn't go to lunch with Tsukishima and Yamaguchi that day.

It'll make it even more awkward between them if we're not there to be diversions, Hinata figured, grinning maliciously to himself. 

I need a break from Tsukishima's bullshit, Kageyama thought tiredly.

So, when Hinata said, "Let's go out for lunch today, like a special occasion," Kageyama didn't argue. 

"Where should we go?" he asked, gathering his coat and money. "I'm craving something light."

"Soup and salad place?"

"Soup and salad place."

The soup and salad place mentioned was somewhere they passed frequently on their walks to the coffee shop every Monday, but never dared to go into. On this historic day, they dared. 

"Ten dollars for a salad? Get out of here," Hinata whispered when he saw the menu. "For that much I could buy like four loaves of bread. That's lunch for two weeks! Damn city prices, always trying to rob us."

"You eat a scary amount of sandwiches," Kageyama whispered back, buying himself a vegetable soup. "Do you need me to spot you some money or something? There's no shame in admitting you're broke..."

"I'm not broke! Excuse me, can I have three salads please? Yes, extra expensive." Only Hinata would spend thirty dollars on lunch just to prove a point, Kageyama thought, exasperated. I have to learn that he takes everything way too seriously.

When their food was ready, they chose a table near a window and started eating. Hinata muttered about how he could make better salad out of the leaves outside, but still ate all three of them without pause. 

Kageyama was about to make a height joke when he spotted a familiar blonde out of the corner of his eye. "Hey, there's that barista we always see. Yachi, I think." He only pointed her out as a "huh, isn't that interesting," point, but Hinata immediately stood up in his seat.

"I'm gonna go ask if she wants to sit with us," he whispered, pushing his chair in.

"What? No. We don't even know her!" Kageyama whispered furiously back. "It'll be so awkward."

"She's sitting all by herself," Hinata said with a pout. "Don't you have a soul?"

"Maybe she's choosing to sit by herself on purpose," he said, but he could feel his resolve weakening. "Fine. You can go ask. But if she says she doesn't want to, then don't push it. Some people like to be left alone."

It took Hinata only a second to return with Yachi, his victorious smile contradicting her nervous one exactly.

"Told you," he whispered to Kageyama as he sat back down. Kageyama only shrugged.

"So, Yachi, what's up?" Hinata said to break the awkward silence. Yachi almost flinched.

"Um, nothing much? I'm just taking my lunch break," she said in a high pitched voice. Kageyama was immediately suspicious.

"Did Hinata take you against your will or something?" he asked her, glaring in his direction. "If he did, you're free to go."

This got a quick laugh from her. "No, it's okay, he just asked if I wanted to eat with you guys. I just get a little nervous around people I don't know well."

"Oh, so does Kageyama!" Hinata said, elbowing him. "See, we have something in common already."

He started talking about what they do in the office, the conference he went to the week before, the recent drama between them and Tsukishima. Kageyama was afraid that Yachi would be bored out of her mind, but she seemed mostly receptive to his word vomit.

"So what about you? What do you do when you're not in a coffee shop?" he asked, and Yachi immediately looked nervous again.

"Um, I'm in college, so I go there?" Most of her sentences sounded like questions, since she always went up in tone by the end. 

"Cool! What are you majoring in?"

"I'm not really majoring in anything? I haven't decided on what I want to do yet."

"Oh." Hinata seemed stumped, since he always knew he wanted to go into business. "Well, what makes you happy?"

"My mom wants me to go into economics, like her," she continued, essentially ignoring his question. Hinata didn't like to be ignored, though, and pushed the subject further.

"But is that what you want to do?" Kageyama could see Yachi didn't want to answer, and kicked Hinata under the table.

"Sorry for him. You don't have to answer if you don't want to," he said quickly. To Hinata, he muttered, "Don't be a dumbass. You're the one who brought her here, don't make her uncomfortable."

"Really, it's okay," Yachi said just as quickly, putting her hands up in a placating manner. "I just really don't know what I want to do. I didn't have any hobbies that I loved in high school or anything, and nothing really sticks out to me."

"That's it! Me and Kageyama are gonna help you find your passion!" Hinata declared, sticking his hand out to Yachi. "We'll help you find something you like, and then after that you'll get your major and start to like your classes and stuff."

After a few seconds, Yachi shook his hand gingerly. "If you say so," she said slowly, not wanting to dampen Hinata's excitement. When he got really into something, there was no stopping him, like a freight train going full speed.

She looked at her phone, then jumped back, eyes wide. "Shoot! My lunch break ended a minute ago! I have to go, guys, but it was nice having lunch with you. We should do it again sometime."

"How about tomorrow?" Hinata suggested, also standing from his seat. "If you're not doing anything, of course."

"Um, sounds good! See you!" She ran from the restaurant, holding her coat in her arms, leaving Hinata and Kageyama standing by their seats. It only lasted a second, though.

"Crap, we have to go too!" Kageyama cursed under his breath, throwing away his garbage. "Tanaka's going to snap at us."

"Not if we run!" Hinata shouted, bolting from the restaurant. Kageyama had no choice but to sprint after him, consciously aware of the sweat stains forming on his dress shirt. Ah, it's just water, right? Not too bad. 

They made it to the building only two minutes late, completely out of breath on both of their parts. Tanaka opened his mouth to scold them, but then closed it again when he saw how tired they were. 

"Go for a jog?" he asked, and they didn't have the energy to respond with more than a shake of their heads.

As soon as he left the room, Hinata commandeered the computer, typing up a storm. He started printing sheets of who knows what, and Kageyama picked up one of them, squinting at the tiny print. "Architecture, Cinema, Graphic Design... Hinata, what are these?"

"I'm making a list of majors for Yachi to choose from!" he answered, printing out more pages. "There are loads of these. Did you know they offer library science as a major? Imagine going to college just to be a librarian. That's wack."

"You have to go to college for a lot of jobs..." Kageyama said, looking through a different page. "You're really committed to finding Yachi her major, aren't you?"

"Well yeah," Hinata said, looking straight across at Kageyama. "It sucks not to know what you like. Everyone deserves to have a job that makes them happy."

The intensity of his look was a little jarring, but Kageyama got his point. He had always wanted to go into business too, so he couldn't relate to her very much, but her predicament sounded upsetting.

"Here, let me use the computer," he said. "I'm a faster typist. We can make a document and sort the topics into categories. That is, if we don't get caught slacking off by Tanaka before we finish."

"Aw, it's not slacking off. It's helping someone find their dream, and that's a nobler cause than organizing files."

"On company time. That's slacking off."

"Whatever you say, jargon-monster."

-

The next day, they meet Yachi in the same store, Hinata presenting a seven page, color coded, list of majors, sorted both by general topic and alphabetically.

"We didn't know what you're really into, so we brought all of them," Kageyama explained. "I did all the organizing, of course."

"It was my idea though!" Hinata was quick to add. "Here, look through the packet and see if anything catches your eye."

Yachi, who was just expecting a casual lunch, was taken aback. "Oh, you shouldn't have gone through the effort," she said, eyeing the tiny letters. "I'll probably just go into economics."

"That's bull. You should choose something that you want to do, not your mom," Hinata said adamantly. Kageyama nodded in agreement.

"Alright, I'll take a look. Thank you." She gave them a rare, not-nervous smile, putting the papers in her bag, and the boys were filled with an odd sense of pride.  

You did a good thing, Kageyama communicated through his elbowing of Hinata's side. He hoped it communicated his point well. You're not such a dumbass after all.

No, we did a good thing, Hinata's responding smile seemed to say, and the air felt like springtime in winter.

They didn't make any plans with Yachi for the next day - "Your personality is too much for someone three days in a row, Hinata." "And yet you're still here." - so they eat in the park instead. The air is chilly, but both of them brought coats, so it doesn't faze them much.

"When do you think it'll be safe to eat in the cafeteria again?" Hinata asked, his words muffled as he talks with his mouth full. Kageyama waited until he swallowed before responding. 

"I don't know, never?"

"Don't be like that, Bakageyama. They're still our friends," Hinata chided. "When you're friends with someone, you mess with them. They were just giving us a little taste of our own medicine."

"Sounds like you have a lot of experience with these things."

"What, having friends? Yeah, I'd say I have a couple of years of experience," Hinata said with a laugh. It took Kageyama a moment to realize that he thought he was being sarcastic. He wasn't.

Friendship, camaraderie, it was all pretty new to him. When he was a kid, he was invited to birthday parties like everyone else, but he never knew his classmates personally. He was pretty sure he went to a party when he was in high school, but it wasn't a clear memory to him. And university was nothing but studying, cramming, and trying to achieve his end goal of getting his degree. "Friendship" was never on the itinerary.

"You in there, Kageyama? You spaced out for a bit."

"Right, sorry," Kageyama said, blinking hard. "Next week. That's when we should go back to the lunchroom. I think it's enough time."

"Aye aye, cap," Hinata said with a little salute. "For tomorrow I think we should eat here again. It has a nice vibe."

"Mmm, I agree," Kageyama said. Something about being outside with just Hinata and the open air let him breathe a little easier.

For the rest of the week, it was just the two of them. It could get quiet sometimes, but the fresh air was nice, and it got them out of the building, which was always a plus.

"I always feel like I bump into Ennoshita at the weirdest times," Hinata said, gesturing with his hand. "Like I was walking into the bathroom right when he was walking out and it was just so off."

"He has an uncomfortable air around him," Kageyama agreed. "We never got him coffee from the place, did we?"

"Nope. He always refuses our offer. Shame too, since it's on the company dime." He thought about it, then said, "We should get something for him next time. He probably feels awkward asking after all this time, but nobody hates free coffee, right?"

"How would you even know what he likes?" Kageyama asked.

"I'll ask Tanaka. They're friends, I think, or at least acquaintances."

"Whatever you say, dumbass. As long as we're not the ones who have to pay for it, it doesn't make a difference to me."

Kageyama would never say it out loud - Hinata's ego didn't need any more bolstering - but he admired him for all of his selflessness. He was always trying to help someone, regardless of how much they refused. It could get annoying at times, but it was a noble pursuit. Kageyama could never be that considerate.

Monday came, and Hinata arrived at the coffee counter with an extra order on his list. 

"Did you get an extra one this time?" Yachi asked, ringing up their total.

"Yep! One extra mocha latte for a guy in our office. How'd you guess?" Hinata asked, starting to fill his tray while Kageyama paid.

"Your total is the same every week. I just noticed it was different today." She paused for a second, her face lighting up. "Oh, I didn't get to tell you guys! I decided what I want to major in."

Hinata and Kageyama paused in their packing, turning to face her. "What did you decide?" Kageyama asked.

"I want to be a psychiatrist, so I'll major in biology and minor in psychology," she said, bouncing on her toes. "I like talking to people and helping them, and I want to help people with anxiety like me among other things."

"That's awesome! What did your mom say about it?" Hinata asked, looking just as excited as her.

"She's just happy that I found something I want to do. She always used to call me out on being indecisive, but I'm done with that." Yachi looked more resolute in this decision than anything they'd seen before. "So thank you guys for helping me pick!"

"My pleasure!" Hinata exclaimed, and Kageyama gave her a quick smile. It wasn't really him, anyway, mostly Hinata's work. 

When they got to the office, Hinata gave Kageyama the job of giving Ennoshita his coffee.

"He's quiet and you're quiet, so it's perfect," he said, but Kageyama knew that Ennoshita just gave him the heebie jeebies. With a sigh, he knocked on Ennoshita's door, glaring daggers back at Hinata, who made a quick getaway.

The door immediately opened, and Ennoshita looked surprised to see him standing there. "Oh, I didn't order anything," he said, staring at the coffee cup.

"Um, I know. It's from the office, you don't have to pay for it." Kageyama didn't know who was more awkward, him or Ennoshita. "Just take it, it's a mocha latte."

They both stared at the coffee, then at each other. Kageyama was just as determined that Ennoshita take the coffee as Ennoshita was not to take it. 

"I don't know if you know this, but I quit the company a year ago," Ennoshita finally said, not moving to take the cup. It didn't seem relevant in the slightest, but Kageyama let him continue, since that was what considerate people did. 

"I was tired of all of the paperwork, tired of all of it, so one day I just didn't show up. I used up all of my vacation days, then my sick days, until I had no more excuses left. I just didn't have the motivation to come to work. My boss called me a bunch of times, telling me that I was running out of time, but I didn't know what to do."

"That must've sucked," Kageyama said, with nothing else to say.

"Yeah, it did," Ennoshita said with a short laugh.

"So why did you end up coming back?" Take the damn coffee.

"Eventually I realized that my life wasn't any better when I was at home than here. I like my work, that's why I chose it, and the homeless life wasn't for me. So, I came back. My boss was nice enough not to fire me, although he did deduct a ton of pay, and here I am. So you don't need to get me coffee. The company did enough for me."

He moved to shut the door, presuming that the conversation was done, but Kageyama wasn't finished with him. What would Hinata do in this situation? Probably either verbally abuse him or try and motivate him. Either way, he'd get him to take the damn coffee.

"Your actions then don't reflect on your worth as a human being," he decided on saying. "You may have left, but you came back, and that makes you strong. So take the damn coffee, because you deserve it just for being here."

Ennoshita stared at him, and Kageyama regretted going for the whole motivational speech thing, as it definitely wasn't his strong suit. He started making a 180 to verbal abuse - that would always work, right? - when Ennoshita took the coffee from his hand and took a sip.

"Thank you," he said. "I really appreciate it."

"It's just coffee," Kageyama said, shutting the door behind him, but he felt a little bit of a glowing feeling. Sort of like when he completed a really long project, or when Oikawa complimented his work all those months ago. Maybe that was why Hinata did all of those good things.

"Took you long enough!" Hinata said when he got to their cubicle. "Did you wait for him to drink the whole thing or something?"

"No, dumbass, he just had a whole sob story before he took it," Kageyama said, glad to finally be back in his element. "Let's actually get some work done today, alright?"

"We always get work done. You're too hard on us."

"I'm not hard on us, I'm hard on you."

"Kinky."

"Shut up."

They had a short meeting between them before lunch, just to reassess what they'd say.

"Ok, let's ease up on the whole 'making them uncomfortable' thing," Hinata said, pounding his fists together. 

"You think?" Kageyama said dryly. "Let's just pretend the whole thing didn't happen."

Of course, that was hard to do, since as soon as they walked in, they saw Tsukishima and Yamaguchi holding hands.

"Oh yeah, we're dating now," Tsukishima said evenly, and Yamaguchi went a pleasant pink. "You would've known if you had come to lunch the past week."

"You- You-" Hinata said, gaping at them. "You're dating? After all that?"

"Yeah. Like emotionally stable adults, we talked about our feelings and decided to date," Yamaguchi said, beaming at the two confounded interns. "That's what you wanted, right?"

"Hypothetically, I guess, but now our whole group dynamic is thrown off," Hinata said. 

"Who'll be the annoying, pining, emotionally constipated ones in our group now?" Kageyama added.

Yamaguchi and Tsukishima exchanged a look that was so full of mutual-snark, it was almost painful to be around.

"I guess we'll have to find someone else to fill that spot," Tsukishima finally said, biting back a smile.

"Gee, I wonder who it could be?" Yamaguchi said, taking a long sip of water. 

Hinata and Kageyama exchanged their own annoyed look, and silently agreed never to leave Tsukishima and Yamaguchi alone together again. They were too dangerous without anyone else to buffer them.

As soon as they got back to the room, equally soured by the whole experience but also relieved that the awkwardness was over, a notice was waiting for them.

Hello interns! it read in Sugawara's cheery scrawl. I'm leaving this note for you since you're at lunch right now, so hopefully you read it before you leave for the day. We're getting an intern from a different company tomorrow, just for the day so they can get a sense of how we do our work here. They'll also be reporting back to their boss, so be on your best behavior. All the best, Sugawara.

"A new intern?" Hinata asked.

"Just visiting, idiot, read what he wrote," Kageyama said with a scowl. "They're trying to tell us not to fight or cause trouble tomorrow, since we're being reviewed."

"Ohhhhhhhh okay." He read over the note again, his forehead crinkling. "I wonder who the intern's gonna be."

"I guess we'll find out tomorrow." Kageyama had a bad feeling about this, but he didn't know why. He hoped it would settle when the intern came.

Chapter Text

The next day, Hinata and Kageyama were halfway through their morning paperwork when they heard a knock.

"Interns, I come bearing another one of you," Tanaka said, spreading his arms out, and in walked...

"Kenma!" Hinata shouted, jumping from his chair. "What're you doing here?"

"I did tell you I'd come visit your building, right Shouyou?" the bleached blond in the doorway said quietly. Kageyama stayed in his seat, scrutinizing the interaction from there. Shouyou? Nobody calls him Shouyou. How long has he even known this guy? "Plus, Kuroo wanted to send someone to check you guys out anyway, so I volunteered."

"Why didn't you text me or something?" Hinata said, putting a hand on his hip.

"I wanted it to be a surprise." Kenma looked past him, meeting eyes with Kageyama. "Is this the coworker you told me about?" he asked, expression unreadable. What did Hinata say about me? And what the hell's this guy's deal?

"Yeah, that's Kageyama, my co-intern," Hinata said, waving his hand in his general direction. "Kageyama, this is Kenma. I met him when I went to the conference two weeks ago. He's also an intern, but he works at the Nekoma building in Tokyo."

"Nice to meet you," Kageyama said stiffly. He didn't like it when random new people entered his space unexpectedly.

"Yeah, you too," Kenma said softly, but his eyes were sharp as he shook Kageyama's hand. They didn't match the rest of his shy and quiet demeanor at all, and it was quite off-putting. 

"So this is my cubicle," Hinata said, unaware of the tension around him. "It's annoying sometimes that I have to share one, but it's big enough for both of us, right Kageyama?"

"Uh, yeah." He was still a little out of it from the earlier staring match. "We each have our own chairs and stuff."

Hinata laughed at that, although Kageyama wasn't trying to be funny. Kenma had a small smile on his face, but Kageyama had the feeling that it wasn't for the same reason. It was more like a cat's grin as it stared down its prey.

Hinata showed Kenma around their small cubicle, pointing out the filing cabinet and desktop as if they were unique to this cubicle only. He showed Kenma his first powerpoint, the one on penguins, and Kenma commented that it was cute. Kageyama went back to filing the papers after enduring a little bit of this, grumbling that they should be working.

When every nook and cranny of the cubicle had been explored, Hinata asked, "Kenma, did Tanaka or somebody else give you a tour of the building?"

"Not yet, why?"

"Here, I can show you around! This place has loads of cool rooms and stuff and a cafeteria downstairs." He spun around to Kageyama. "Can you handle the paperwork by yourself for the morning? I want to give Kenma the grand tour since he's never been here before."

"Sure," Kageyama said. "I did it while you were at that conference, right? I'll be fine. Enjoy ditching work."

"Thanks, grump," Hinata said. Kenma gave him another unreadable look, and the two of them exited the cubicle. Once they were gone, Kageyama let out a breath he didn't know he was holding.

"Time to get back to the work," he said to himself, but somehow it was ten times harder alone. 

Just before lunchtime, Hinata and Kenma returned, deep in conversation. 

"And the look Tsukishima gave you when you asked if his hair's really blond? Priceless," Hinata wheezed. "He was so weirdly offended by it."

"What can I say? I didn't mean to aggravate him. There just aren't a lot of natural blonds in Japan," Kenma said, but he looked pleased with himself. Too pleased, in Kageyama's opinion. He cleared his throat loudly enough for Hinata to hear.

"Work's done," he said, motioning to the clean desk. "Ready for lunch?"

"Aaaaaaaaactually I wanted to show Kenma around, so I'm taking him to the soup and salad place we went to last week," Hinata said, shifting from foot to foot. "Wanna come with? It's been too long since I bought an overpriced salad."

"Uh, I'm just gonna eat in the cafeteria," Kageyama said, pointing to his packed lunch. "Be ready to work when you get back, though."

"Got it! I'm just gonna run to the bathroom, Kenma, and then we'll go." He ran from the room, leaving Kenma and Kageyama to awkwardly wait for him to come back.

"You can tell Hinata I went for lunch," Kageyama said, grabbing his bag. He didn't want to wait around any longer just to watch Hinata leave to lunch without him. Before he could leave, however, Kenma trained his cat eyes on him.

"What's your relationship with Shouyou?" he asked, and though his voice was soft, his tone was not.

"My relationship?" Kageyama asked, thrown off. "Uh, coworkers? Friends, in a loose sense? Why do you want to know?"

"No reason," he replied smoothly. "Just curious. You do seem to do a lot of staring when he's around."

"Staring," Kageyama repeated with a frown. "Open staring?"

"Basically." Kenma leaned against the wall, playing with a strand of hair. "I hope you figure out what your relationship with Shouyou is before it's too late. He has a lot of eyes on him, you know."

Kageyama wanted to ask if this is about Terushima, or if Kenma himself was among those eyes, but Hinata returns before he can say a word. 

"All done! Let's go before the seats fill up, I don't want to have to stand again," Hinata said, pulling on Kenma's arm. "Oh Kageyama, you're still here. See you when I get back!"

"Right." Kageyama sent Kenma an unreadable glance of his own as he left the cubicle. Before it's too late? He sounds like an ominous witch or something. At least he's only visiting for the day.

He made the walk to the cafeteria alone, scowling to himself. People with dyed blond hair give off bad vibes. And who dyes their hair in a professional work environment? He should just cut all of it off. 

"Oof, somebody's bringing a storm cloud with him today," Yamaguchi commented as Kageyama dropped his lunch on the table. 

"Doesn't have anything to do with that guy Kenma, does it?" Tsukishima added. 

"You guys have only been dating for like a week. It's too soon for you to be finishing each other's thoughts," Kageyama grumbled. 

"Don't be silly. We've been doing it for years," Tsukishima said with a smirk. "And don't take your bad mood out on us. We were having quite a pleasant lunch before you got here."

"Then you can continue eating pleasantly," Kageyama said, grabbing his lunch. "I'll just eat upstairs. At least then I won't have to deal with your cheshire cat looks the whole time."

"Nooooooo, stay," Yamaguchi insisted. "You can tell us why you're in a bad mood, we won't judge."

"He won't judge. I won't let you off so easy."

"Tsukki, this is supportive friend time. We've talked about this."

"Fine." Tsukishima wiped his smirk off, replacing it with a friendly grin - definitely fake - that threw Kageyama off at once. "How can we help you, dear friend?"

Kageyama watched this whole exchange, weighed the pros and cons in his head, and ultimately sat back down. "It's that guy Kenma," he affirmed. "He just weirds me out, and it weirds me out even more that Hinata doesn't notice how weird he is."

"He does have a quiet air around him," Yamaguchi agreed, while Tsukishima said, "Who asks someone if their hair is dyed? Especially with a dye job that bad. He shouldn't be talking about hair at all."

"And you know what he said to me?" Kageyama lowered his voice, checking the room for any Nekoma spies. Not that he would be able to recognize them, but it seemed like the right thing to do. "He told me to 'figure out what my relationship with Shouyou is before it's too late'. Who says that?"

"Ooh, he called him Shouyou. That makes it personal," Tsukishima commented. "Is that why you're so butthurt about all of this? Hinata has other friends. Besides, he's only here for one day. You can unglue yourself from his side for one day."

"I'm not glued to Hinata's side, and you're focusing on the wrong thing," Kageyama said with a huff. "What does he mean, figure out my relationship with him?"

Yamaguchi pursed his lips, then said, "Maybe you need to ask Hinata what your relationship is. You seem to be pretty sure, but maybe he's not and he was talking to Kenma about it."

"It can't be that easy." For some reason, Kageyama assumed he would have to go on some sort of big quest to figure out what he meant. But then again, maybe that was the weird witch vibes talking. 

"You'll never know until you try." Yamaguchi was being supportive and helpful, which was atypical of him while in Tsukishima's presence, but even Tsukishima was holding back on the snarky comments. Hinata might've been right about the friends thing. Not that I'll tell him.

"Alright, thanks." Kageyama took a big bite of his lunch, then asked, "So what have you guys been up to?"

Tsukishima openly stared at him. "You've never asked about us peasants," he said in fake shock, but there was some real surprise under all of it.

"I don't know, it seemed like the right thing to do," Kageyama said, equally bewildered. Self reflection was rare for him, and he tried to think of the last time he had asked about someone else besides Hinata. Probably a while, if this was any indication. 

"Me and Tsukki went on the best date yesterday!" Yamaguchi said, launching into detail despite Tsukishima's repeated pleas for him not to. Kageyama listened along, finishing his lunch, and in the end agreed that going to a museum was a nice date (not that he would ever pick it for himself; the last time he went to a museum was in middle school, and he wanted to keep it that way.)

When lunch ended, Kageyama dragged his feet all the way back to his cubicle, waiting for Hinata to tell him that he was giving Kenma another tour, or that they were both going to an amusement park for the rest of the day. But instead, he found them both already waiting for him, Kenma sitting in his chair.

"Kenma's gonna review our work now," Hinata explained, spinning around once. "So we just have to do what we normally do."

"Just pretend I'm not here," Kenma said, taking out a handheld game from his pocket. "You just have paperwork to do, right?"

"It's not all we do," Kageyama muttered. "Just so happens that today we don't have anything else."

"Alright then. Carry on."

It was hard to pretend that Kenma wasn't there, especially since he refused to move from Kageyama's chair, ignoring several very pointed looks his way. Plus, his game still had the volume on, so there was tinny background music playing the entire time. Kageyama kept his shoulders hunched, working on his paperwork in a borrowed folding chair.

At one point, Kenma asked, "You organize your files alphabetically?"

Hinata and Kageyama both looked up, exchanging a glance. "Is that bad?" Hinata asked, already in the middle of putting a file away.

"I mean, it's fine, but wouldn't it be easier to first order them by category, then alphabetically?" He said all of this with the indifferent air of someone who didn't care either way, but Kageyama took it personally. 

"Tanaka told us to do it like this," he said, making a point to put his next file in extra hard. "We wouldn't want to go against his orders, right Hinata?"

The redhead in question looked uncertain. "I mean, he won't yell at us for it... Maybe we should do it like Kenma said."

"It's not that big a deal," Kenma said with a shrug. "That's just how we do it back at Nekoma. Your own system probably works fine for you."

But now it felt like he was comparing Nekoma to Karasuno, which was where Kageyama drew the line. He could make his suggestions, he could interrupt their flow, he could steal his damn chair. But once he brought his Tokyo cockiness into their own office, that was too far.

"And what does Nekoma say about playing video games full volume during work hours?" he asked, eyes narrowed. "Or is that also to be more efficient?"

Kenma didn't rise to his bait, which was oh so typical for him. He merely raised an eyebrow, clicked his tongue, and returned to his game, turning down the volume as he did. Hinata did, though, and he jumped from his chair, dragging Kageyama out the doorway by his wrist. 

"We'll be right back, Kenma," he shouted over his shoulder lightly, but the full power of his glare was targeted at Kageyama. He had never seen him so angry before.

When they made it to a safe distance, Hinata started his tirade. "What the hell was that?" he asked, drilling a hole in his head with the force of his stare. "We have someone from a company bigger than us coming to review us for a day and you're so completely rude to him! What did he ever do to you?"

"He's ruining our flow," Kageyama said, but even to him it sounded feeble. "Why does he have to critique us if he's just visiting?"

"He's trying to make us more efficient. It's not a crime, dumbass." He takes a deep breath, trying to smooth out his eyebrows. "Are you feeling okay today? You seem to be pissier than usual."

"I'm fine," Kageyama said in a voice that he hoped was the opposite of pissy. Then, since he was already in deep water, he decided it was the perfect time to ask, "What's our relationship like?"

Hinata stared at him for a solid minute, all of the rage draining out and being replaced with pure confusion. "Are you sure you're not sick?" he asked, to which Kageyama gave a resounding 'probably not'. "We're friends, dummy. You're my best friend in the office, which isn't saying much considering our company, and at times like this I question it myself, but we are." 

He exhales loudly, pushing himself from the wall. "Are we good now? Can you stop antagonizing Kenma please? For me?"

"Yeah, whatever," Kageyama replies, following Hinata back. "But tell him to leave my chair!"

"I will do no such thing. It's too funny to watch you struggle on that folding chair."

"And you call yourself my best friend..."

"Don't abuse it!"

The rest of the day passed smoothly. Kenma offered no more advice, instead whispering any suggestions he had to Hinata, which was even more annoying than saying them out loud. But Kageyama controlled himself, if only so he wouldn't be called out again. Just for today. Just another hour and he'll be gone.

Right before they checked out at the end of the day, Kenma said, "It was nice seeing you, Shouyou. Your office building is interesting." Kageyama fought the urge to call out that direct blow, instead focusing on his breathing. 

"You too, Kenma!" Hinata exclaimed, bumping fists with him. "You should come again sometime! Kageyama will behave better, I promise." 

Kenma smirked at this, merely nodding. Then he turned his attention to Kageyama. "Can I have a word with you for a second?"

Never in Kageyama's life had he been so anxious as when he followed Kenma to the hallway, sending Hinata a desperate glance. Hinata sent an equally confused what the hell is happening look back.

"I heard you and Shouyou talking," he started in an undertone, making Kageyama jump.

"Uh, sorry," he said, though he didn't know what he was apologizing for, and judging by his raised eyebrows, neither did Kenma. 

"I'm not here to call you out on it. I'm just telling you that Shouyou values you very highly, but he's very dense, and if you ever want a chance with him, you'll have to be the one to ask." He looked down at his hands, then back up to Kageyama. "The fact that you've gotten this far without even acknowledging your feelings means that you're the same way, so I'm spelling it out for you here. Just ask him out. What's the worst that can happen?"

Kageyama stared at the witch in front of him, digesting his information piece by piece. "What happened to you saying that everybody has their eyes on him?" he asked, the first of many questions. 

"They do, but you have the best chance with Shouyou," Kenma said. His voice never rose, but it grew sharper than its usual softness. "I didn't know your relationship beyong what Shouyou told me, but I'm more aware now. If he'll date anyone, it's you."

It took Kageyama a hot second to realize what he was trying to say. "Oh, I'm sorry," he said, scratching his head in mild discomfort. "Did you ask him out, or..."

"I didn't have to," Kenma said with no visible embarrassment. He just looked the slightest bit unsettled, but that might've just been because he had to have this conversation with Kageyama in the first place. "Regardless, I want him to be happy. And that seems to be with you, so... don't screw it up."

And now they were addressing the second matter of his whole speech, the one that Kageyama was pointedly not addressing. "Ah, right. About that..."

"You can save your excuses, I don't have time for them," Kenma said, checking his watch. "You can stay as deep in denial as you want, but all I'm saying is that there's no way you'll end up with him like that. It's futile for you to wait for him to ask you out, because he never will. He's too deep in denial as well."

He picked up his bag, waving over his shoulder. "This is your one and only wake up call. I don't like you enough to give you another one."

Kageyama was too thrown off to answer, and he watched him enter the elevator in mute discomfort, only leaving once the doors shut.

"What did he say?" Hinata asked when he came back, already packed to leave.

"Nothing important," Kageyama replied, but one thing was for sure. He definitely didn't need that second wake up call.