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Since he and Kageyama are best friends—even if Kageyama flushes red and shoves him every time he says it out loud—Hinata thinks that he knows Kageyama pretty well. He knows the obvious things: Kageyama is obsessed with volleyball, Kageyama is grumpy, Kageyama is socially awkward. But he also knows other things, things that only the people closest to Kageyama know. Things like Kageyama has a secret weakness for romance mangas, that he hates mushrooms, that he snores when he sleeps, a soft, snuffling sound that Hinata lays awake some nights thinking about—that before he met Hinata, he was unbearably lonely.

So to say that Hinata is surprised when he learns that Kageyama apparently has a secret girlfriend is an understatement.

“What are you talking about? Kageyama’s not dating anyone!” Hinata exclaims as he mops up the water he spat all over the table. “He’s like way too scary and mean for girls.”

Tsukishima wipes his face with a scowl, mouth open to berate Hinata, but he’s cut off by Yamaguchi, who says, “Are you sure? Tanaka said that he saw him at a restaurant with a girl the other night. And apparently she’s really pretty.”

Hinata feels his own face scrunching up into a frown and he crosses his arms. “There’s no way Kageyama could get a pretty girl to go out with him. Tanaka must have seen someone else.”

“I don’t know,” Tsukishima drawls, a glint in his eyes. “The King isn’t all that bad looking. He gets confessions all the time. For all we know, they’ve been dating for months and he just didn’t tell you.”

Hinata’s hands clench into fists, even as his mind races at the thought. The thought of Kageyama dating someone is....weird. The idea that he’s dating someone and hasn’t told Hinata feels even weirder. He and Kageyama are best friends, right? He wouldn’t keep something like this from him. At least Hinata doesn’t think he would. But maybe he doesn’t know his best friend as well as he thought he did.

Yamaguchi, shooting a look at Tsukishima, pats Hinata on the shoulder soothingly. “Don’t listen to Tsukki, Hinata, I’m sure you’re right. Tanaka must have just misinterpreted the situation.”

Satisfied by the thought, Hinata sticks his tongue out at Tsukishima across the table, who rolls his eyes in response, resolving to put it out of his mind.

* * * * * * * * * *

Hinata manages to forget all about it until later next week when he’s confronted with the issue head on.

He’s in town to run errands for his mom, and he’s in a bad mood because Natsu had woken him up early this morning and his bike has been acting up again, meaning the journey into town has taken twice as long as normal. He’s just parking his bike, grumbling under his breath as his bike lock jams, when he hears a familiar bark of laughter from across the street.

Hinata whirls around, grin breaking out on his face as he spots a familiar tall, dark-haired figure across the street in front of the bookshop. Feeling his mood already lifting, he’s about to call out to Kageyama when a much more entertaining idea enters his mind. Kageyama almost never gives him piggyback rides (the only exception being the time Hinata hurt his ankle during practice and Kageyama carried him to the nurse’s office, worried scowl on his face despite Hinata chattering in his ear), and now is the perfect chance for a sneak attack.

He steps off the curb to stealthily cross the street when he catches sight of the person with Kageyama. He freezes with one foot still on the sidewalk, feeling his heart plummet to his shoes.

He can’t see her face, but that’s definitely a girl standing next to Kageyama, her shiny hair short but fashionably styled. She’s tall for a girl—probably even taller than Hinata, he notices with irritation—and as Hinata watches, she reaches out her hand and wraps it around Kageyama’s bicep and Kageyama does nothing.

Hinata feels his mouth drop open. It took ages for Kageyama to stop pulling away every time Hinata touched or clung to him, and even now it isn’t certain that Kageyama won’t shove him off if Hinata grabs on to him unexpectedly. Indignation wells up in him. How dare this girl touch him like that and how dare he let her!

Another insult is added to the pile when the girl says something to Kageyama and he smiles. He smiles. It’s not his scary smile but a softer, smaller one that Hinata thought belonged to only him.

That’s my smile! That’s my friend!

A sick feeling he can’t identify is swirling in his stomach mixed with outrage and hurt. He’s the only one who has ever been allowed to see Kageyama like that. He’s certainly the only one who gets to hang all over him, not this girl who clearly can’t be that important to Kageyama if he never even told Hinata about her—

But clearly she is, and clearly Kageyama didn’t think it was important that he tell Hinata.

Otherwise, why would Kageyama let her do all that? Hinata thinks back to Tsukishima’s words and takes them seriously for the first time. Has Kageyama been dating someone behind Hinata’s back this whole time?

He’s so lost in this train of thought that he doesn’t notice when Kageyama and the mystery girl leave, only coming back to himself when he hears a bike bell ringing and leaps back onto the pavement to avoid being hit by a biker.

“Sorry!” he calls, heart jumping in his chest. He turns to look back at where Kageyama was standing and chews his lip. Okay, so maybe Kageyama is seeing someone. But maybe they’re just platonic! Friends can go out to eat together and touch each other. Obviously they can, since Hinata and Kageyama do all the time.

Hinata just needs to try to be sneaky and figure out if Kageyama is actually dating her. And if they are dating, he’ll confront him and find out why Kageyama would hide something like this from him. It’s a foolproof plan.

* * * * * * * * * *

Hinata attempts to enact his plan the next day at lunch.

“Hey Kageyama, we’re best friends, right?” Hinata asks as he munches on a granola bar.

Kageyama promptly chokes on his milk. Hinata pounds him on the back until he can breathe again.

“Idiot, what are you asking that for?” Kageyama sputters, face already turning red. Hinata smiles in delight; he loves making Kageyama blush.

“What? Is the question too hard for you?” Hinata rolls his eyes. “You do know what a best friend is, right, Kageyama?”

“Shut up,” Kageyama says, and pushes Hinata with his shoulder. “I’m not stupid—" he elbows Hinata before he can say anything "—of course I know what best friends are. I want to know why you would bother asking such a dumb question like that.”

“I’m just asking! Why can’t you just answer the question?” His arms cross and he glares at Kageyama, who glares back.

“Because it’s a stupid question!” Kageyama yells.

You’re a stupid question!” Hinata retorts cleverly. Kageyama scowls at him. “Do you have to be so grumpy? Why can’t you just answer it?”

“Because it’s a weird, dumb question!”

Hinata glares at him. His chest feels hot, and he turns his head to look away from Kageyama, feeling, stupidly enough, tears prick at the corners of his eyes. This wasn’t supposed to be a difficult question—it was supposed to be a neat segue into subtly asking Kageyama about dating. Of course stupid Kageyama had to ruin it.

He doesn’t even think we’re best friends, Hinata thinks. And if we’re not best friends, then maybe he really was hiding a secret girlfriend from me all along.

Because he’s refusing to look at Kageyama, he doesn’t see the expression on his face, but he hears the heavy sigh. His shoulders rise up defensively around his ears.

“Hinata,” Kageyama says. Hinata doesn’t turn. “Hinata, will you just—will you just look at me?”

Hinata responds by sticking his nose up in the air.

“God, you’re so annoying.” Kageyama sounds exasperated. “Look, why did you ask that?”

“Because!” Hinata gives up on the silent treatment and turns to face him. He has never been known for his patience, and Kageyama is just—so irritating! “Because you’re my best friend and I just wanted to know if I’m your best friend! And then you had to go and be a jerk about it, because you live to be mean to me—”

“Dumbass.” Kageyama grabs Hinata’s flailing arms by the wrists, pulling them down. “You’re really going to make me say it?”

“Yes,” Hinata says mulishly. Kageyama meets his eyes, which are shining a little bit from unshed tears, and scowls. His hands are warm around Hinata’s wrists.

“Of course you’re my best friend, okay? I’ve never had a friend like you before,” Kageyama’s voice is gruff as he pauses. “Ugh, I can’t believe you made me say it.”

Hinata can’t even be annoyed by that because Kageyama just admitted that Hinata is his best friend. Kageyama said that he’s never had a friend like him before. Hinata’s heart feels too big for his chest. His cheeks hurt from smiling.

“Kageyamaaaaa!” He pulls his wrists away and throws his arms around Kageyama’s neck, knocking him back a little in surprise. “You’re my best friend too!”

“Dumbass, you already said that.” Despite his annoyed tone, Kageyama settles his arms around Hinata’s back. Hinata has never felt so warm.

After a moment he pulls back a bit, and Kageyama’s hands slide down to his waist. “Kageyama,” he says, and stops. Kageyama’s shoulders feel very strong and solid under Hinata’s hands, and this close he can smell his shampoo. It’s nice, Hinata notes absently.

Kageyama’s eyes have gone wide, and his hands clench reflexively on Hinata’s waist. “Yeah?” he says.

Hinata doesn’t actually know what he was going to say. He feels a bit lost. He licks his lips, and Kageyama’s eyes follow the movement.

Feeling heated and overwhelmed, he scrambles for something to say. “Will you—will you stay late and do extra practice with me tonight?”

For a moment, disappointment flashes across Kageyama’s face, before he rolls his eyes and pushes Hinata away.

“Duh,” he says. “You need all the help you can get.”

“Hey!” And the two of them are off. It’s not until much later, when Hinata’s lying in bed, that he remembers his plan. He can’t bring himself to be too disappointed though—after all, Kageyama had admitted (to Hinata’s face!) that Hinata was his best friend. He falls asleep smiling.

* * * * * * * * * *

The high of that particular incident lasts Hinata for a couple of days before reality comes crashing back in and he remembers Kageyama’s secret girlfriend. Then, it’s all he can think about. He feels like he’s going crazy.

She probably doesn’t know anything about volleyball, he thinks grumpily as he prepares to spike the ball Kageyama has gracefully set to him.

I bet she hates milk, while watching a drop of milk slide down the side of Kageyama’s throat.

Kageyama probably never lets her see him cry, as Mufasa dies on screen and Kageyama’s eyes look suspiciously shiny. (Hinata, who’s seen this scene a million times and thus is not as impacted, resists the urge to tease and scoots closer to Kageyama so that their arms are pressed together.)

She’ll never appreciate him like I do, when Kageyama grumbles and complains but pays for Hinata’s lunch anyways.

Why did he choose her and not me? and his suddenly nerveless fingers drop the cup he was washing into the sink as he realizes. Shit.

Do I like Kageyama?

“What’s wrong with you?” Kageyama snaps, and he nudges Hinata away from the sink, taking the sponge from his hands. “Whatever, I’ll finish these before you break anything.”

Hinata knows that he’s staring, can feel the way his mouth hangs open and his eyes widen, but the absolute shock of this revelation makes him unable to move. It’s only when Kageyama clatters a plate against the side of the sink that his feet unfreeze and he can walk dazedly over to his kitchen table and sit to watch Kageyama finish the dishes.

How could he like Kageyama of all people? He was so grumpy and scary and stupid! He was always making fun of Hinata and scowling at him, and Hinata could count on one hand the number of times he’s actually complimented him.

But, a corner of his mind whispers, he’s also funny and strong and surprisingly sweet. And let’s not forget handsome too. A better question is: how couldn’t you like him?

Hinata has no answer to that, because Kageyama is all of these things and more, and somehow Hinata likes all of it, every messy bit and piece of him. Now that his gigantic crush is staring him in the face, it feels like this was inevitable. The sun rises in the east, volleyball is the best sport in the world, Hinata likes Kageyama.

A new realization strikes him as he watches Kageyama set a bowl on the drying rack. I’m jealous. I’m jealous of Kageyama’s girlfriend.

Hinata is surprised by the sharp ache that thought sends through him. Hinata likes Kageyama, but Kageyama likes someone else. And she likes him, too, and they’re dating. They probably hug and kiss and do all the things couples do and—

It hurts.

It hurts to imagine Kageyama with someone else. Hinata may have just realized his feelings for him, but that doesn’t make the pain less real. If anything, it hurts more, knowing that maybe, just maybe, if Hinata had realized his feelings earlier, he might have had a chance with Kageyama.

But maybe that’s wishful thinking, too. Kageyama has never shown any signs of liking Hinata, has always been nothing more than a friend to him.

“Hinata? You okay?” Kageyama’s standing in front of him, and Hinata starts. He has no idea how long he’s been zoning out for.

“I’m fine!” Hinata puts as much cheer as he can into his voice. “C’mon—I think Natsu’s finally asleep, so we can go play video games in the living room without being interrupted!” He leaps out of his chair and darts out of the kitchen as quickly as possible, hoping that if he just moves fast enough he can escape these feelings.

He knows it won’t work, knows it as Kageyama settles on the floor next to him, knows it as the two of them whisper-shout at each other as they play, knows it as he stares up at the ceiling listening to Kageyama’s soft snores later that night.

Okay, so he has feelings for Kageyama. But even if he can’t be with him, he can still be a good friend. Part of that includes being nice to the person your friend is dating.

I’m going to be the most supportive friend ever, he thinks as he rolls over onto his side. I just gotta show him that he can tell me anything.

* * * * * * * * * *

“You know you can tell me anything, right?”

Kageyama stops walking for a moment, pork bun halfway to his mouth. They’re on their way home from school, just the two of them, and Hinata is trying to be sneaky. “Uh,” Kageyama says. Hinata smiles at him winningly. “Okay.” He takes a bite of his bun and starts walking again, conversation apparently over.

Hm. Maybe he’s going to have to be more subtle.

“Do you like anyone?” he asks as innocently as he can.

Luckily Kageyama has just swallowed because he inhales sharply and again stops in his tracks. Hinata is interested to notice his ears turning bright red. He leads his bike off the road to lean it against a tree and stands so that he’s facing Kageyama.

“Uh,” Kageyama says.

“Because if you do, you should definitely tell me! That’s what best friends are for, right?”

“Uh,” Kageyama says again.

“I mean, I guess you’re pretty good looking—” Shit, he didn’t mean to say that. “So it wouldn’t be too surprising if you started going out with someone!”

“You—you think I’m good looking?” Kageyama is blinking very rapidly. This conversation feels like it’s starting to veer wildly out of Hinata’s control.

Hinata waves his hand dismissively, a contrast to the way his heart is pounding in his chest. “Of course, you’re Kageyama, everyone knows you’re like, super attractive. But, anyways, if you did start dating someone—“

“You’re attractive, too.”

Hinata stops. It was mumbled, but coherent. He gapes a little at Kageyama, who’s staring determinedly at the ground, his flush spreading from his ears to his entire face. Hinata feels his own face start to heat up in response.

“W-well, we’re not talking about me, we’re talking about you, and obviously I can’t compete with your tallness and your eyes and—” Oh god, Hinata needs to stop talking now. Kageyama’s aforementioned eyes have gotten even wider, if possible, as he flicks them up to look at Hinata. “—and not to mention your abs—” Why is he still talking? Why hasn’t someone taken mercy and struck him down with lightning to shut him up? “—and ANYWAYS we were talking about your secret girlfriend and how you totally should have told me—”

“My what?” Hinata has never seen Kageyama so red before. He looks like a tomato. “I don’t have a secret girlfriend!”

At least they stopped talking about how attractive Kageyama is. “It’s okay, I’m not actually mad you didn’t tell me, but that’s so rude to your girlfriend, Kageyama! She’s going to think you’re ashamed of her or something.”

“Hinata,” Kageyama says slowly, confusion overtaking his features. “I have no idea what you’re talking about. I’m not dating anyone.”

“What?” Hinata tilts his head. “You’re not?”

“Of course not, stupid! I don’t even know any girls. Plus, why would I want to date anyone who isn’t—” He cuts himself off, looking flustered.

“You know some girls! Like Yachi, and Natsu, and—“

“Yeah, I don’t think your little sister counts.” Kageyama rolls his eyes. “Where’d you even get a dumb idea like that anyways?”

“Hey! It’s not dumb!” Hinata pokes his finger at him. “Tanaka saw you on a date with a girl at a restaurant, and the other day I was downtown and you were with this girl and you smiled at her.” He says the last bit as if it’s all the evidence he needs, which, to be fair, it kind of is.

“What? I never went on any date with—oh.” He slaps himself on the forehead, frustration brimming out of him. “That wasn’t my girlfriend, you idiot, that was my sister! She’s in town visiting for a while.”

“Your sister?” Now it’s Hinata’s turn to blink rapidly at him. His world feels like it’s been turned upside down. “Oh. I thought…”

“You really think I would get a girlfriend? And not tell you?” Kageyama huffs. “We’re supposed to be best friends, aren’t we?”

“Well, yeah! That’s what I didn’t get. I thought you would tell me that kind of thing.” A grin is spreading across Hinata’s face. It feels like a weight has lifted off his shoulders, and he feels so light he’s worried he might float away. There is no secret girlfriend. Kageyama isn’t dating anybody.

“I would.” Kageyama, on the other hand, looks pissed, which isn’t necessarily an indication of how he actually feels—many of Kageyama’s emotions are expressed as anger. He hunches his shoulders. “I can’t believe you thought I had a girlfriend and didn’t tell you. Do you even know me?”

“Of course I do!” Hinata says indignantly. “I told Yamaguchi it must have been a mistake when he first told me. But then when I saw you with her I got…” He trails off.

“What?” Kageyama demands.

Hinata flaps his hand. “Nothing.”

Kageyama crosses his arms. “You got what?”

Hinata refuses to make eye contact with him. “I got jealous,” he says in a small voice.

“Oh.” Kageyama’s anger visibly deflates as he drops his arms to his sides, looking surprised.

Hinata scuffs his shoe on the ground. “Yeah.”

“Why?”

“What do you mean?”

“Why were you jealous?”

“Oh. Well.” Hinata swallows. “I’d never seen you smile like that at anyone else before. Besides me, I mean.”

“Oh,” Kageyama says again. His expression is open, vulnerable, and it tugs at something in Hinata’s chest. He feels a surge of courage.

“And um, I realized something.” He forces himself to meet Kageyama’s eyes. Might as well go for broke here. “I don’t really want you to get a girlfriend.”

Kageyama doesn’t say anything. His eyes dart back and forth over Hinata’s face, as if trying to determine if this is going to be a trick or not.

“N-not because you don’t deserve one or anything, it’s just that…” Hinata is many things, but he has never been a coward. He squeezes his eyes shut so he won’t have to look at Kageyama’s face. “I like you! I want to be the one to date you, not some random girl!”

After several endless moments of silence, Hinata peeks his eyes open to look at Kageyama, who looks stunned. Hinata distantly wonders if he also looks that stupid with his mouth hanging open.

“It’s okay if you don’t like me back,” Hinata says firmly, when the silence goes on for too long. His insides shrivel up at the thought.

His words seem to reanimate Kageyama, who shakes his head. Hinata feels his face fall. He suddenly feels very stupid.

Kageyama’s eyes widen. “No no!” he says. “Dumbass—”

“Hey! Don’t call me a dumbass when I’m confessing to you!” Good, this is good, indignation is much easier to deal with than the crushing feeling in his chest.

“Dumbass,” Kageyama says again, and Hinata balls up a fist to punch him, but then he says, “I like you too.”

Hinata drops his fist. “You do?”

Kageyama nods once, seemingly unable to say it again, lips pressed tightly together. Hinata doesn’t mind. Kageyama doesn’t say things he doesn’t mean. If he says he likes Hinata, then that must really mean...

If Hinata thought he was happy before, it’s nothing compared to the joy that lights up every nerve in his body, sending him forward.

“Hinata—wait —” Kageyama starts to say, recognizing the glint in his eyes, but it’s too late. Hinata leaps at him.

Despite his protests, Kageyama catches him, arms wrapping around his back as Hinata clings with all four of his limbs to Kageyama’s torso. Hinata buries his face in the space where Kageyama’s neck meets his shoulder, and to his delight, after a moment of hesitation, Kageyama leans his cheek against his head. Hinata feels his heart melt.

“Kageyamaaa,” he whines into Kageyama’s hoodie. “I like you so much!”

He can actually feel Kageyama swallow, and Hinata turns his head to press his smile into Kageyama’s throat. After a moment though, all he really wants is to see Kageyama’s face, so he pulls back, grinning when he sees how red Kageyama’s ears are.

“So,” he says, and wraps his arms more firmly around Kageyama’s neck. Kageyama shifts his arms so his hands are supporting Hinata under his thighs. “Should we like, kiss now?”

“Dumbass! Way to kill the mood.” Kageyama is trying to sound annoyed, but he’s failing pretty miserably. Hinata can see the happiness lurking in his eyes, at the corner of his mouth.

“I’ll take that as a yes then,” he declares, and quickly leans in to peck Kageyama on the lips. It’s his first kiss.

It’s not bad, and certainly it’s enjoyable to see the expression that crosses Kageyama’s face, but Hinata can’t help but feel like it could be better.

“I think it’s supposed to last a little longer than that,” Kageyama croaks out, echoing Hinata’s thoughts. Hinata is all too happy to oblige.

This time, he leans in more slowly, and Kageyama tilts his head slightly to the side so that their noses don’t bump into each other. There’s a moment right before their lips touch that Hinata hesitates. He feels the puff of Kageyama’s breath on his skin, then Kageyama is crossing the last few centimeters and they’re kissing.

At first it’s a little awkward, just standing there with their lips mushed together, but then Hinata opens his mouth a little to complain about how stiffly Kageyama is holding himself and something shifts and they’re both moving their lips against each other and it feels so, so good.

Hinata has a feeling that their technique could use a little work, and their teeth do clack together a few times, but he still would be hard pressed to describe it as anything other than perfect. Kageyama’s hands are like hot brands on his thighs, and Hinata runs his fingers through the silky hair on the back of Kageyama’s head. He lets out a tiny, pleased sigh into Kageyama’s mouth.

They both pull back and just stare at each other for a moment. Hinata can feel himself grinning widely.

“You have some spit on your face,” he says helpfully.

Kageyama huffs in annoyance and abruptly drops his arms, forcing Hinata to drop his legs so he can stand on his own two feet again. He refuses to remove his arms from Kageyama’s neck though, even if it does mean he has to strain a bit to fully reach.

“Aww, don’t be like that!” Hinata says as sweetly as he can. “That was the best kiss ever, Kageyama!”

Kageyama rolls his eyes, but there’s a smile tugging at the corner of his lips.

“I don’t know, I think we can do better,” he says, and Hinata is about to squawk in indignation when Kageyama leans down to kiss him again and he gets it.

“Kageyama! That was so smooth!” he says when they break apart. Kageyama rolls his eyes again, but Hinata can tell he’s pleased.

Happiness is ballooning in his chest as he lets his arms fall from Kageyama’s shoulders, stepping away to grab his bike. Kageyama tries to hide his look of disappointment, but Hinata sees it anyway. He smiles and grabs Kageyama’s hand in his free hand, lacing their fingers together and tugging Kageyama back to the road.

“You’re the best,” he says happily, swinging their hands between them. “I like you so much.”

Kageyama knocks his shoulder into Hinata, who uses their linked hands to right himself. “Shut up,” he grumbles, and Hinata is about to tease him for being so flustered when he says quietly, “I like you so much, too.”

Hinata beams.