"Great job in practice today, Hinata!”
The tiny redhead looked up from dabbing his face with a towel, sweat shining his forehead, just like the huge grin spreading across his face as he heard the words of encouragement from the upperclassman. "Thanks, Sugawara-san!" He beamed, legs drawn up to his chest as he sat on the ground outside the building.
"You've got some really strong hops in those legs of yours. I had heard you were good, but that's just impressive." Sugawara continued, pulling off the headband he used to keep his silver hair back and out of his face.
"I may not have the height for partnering, but I can jump!" Hinata said, sticking one leg up in the air, heart fluttering at the praise. Sugawara was one of the better students in the group, and had been nice to him since he had started, even if the other freshmen were less welcoming. He wasn't wrong, though. Hinata had already surpassed everyone in the club at jumps, even Kageyama, who was known to be a genius, a prodigy, a king, and any other word you could use to describe someone who was born to succeed. The taller, sour faced boy was a turner. And Hinata was a jumper. Very different worlds. But, at the same time, the same world. To succeed in ballet, you needed to be able to do both. Everything, really.
"Sugawara-senpai, your turns are amazing! You're just like whoosh! And shewwww! And you just keep going on and on! How does your à la seconde leg never get tired?? You make it look so easy but then on my third pirouette I'm like woooah and wooooop and then I have to land it..."
Sugawara chuckled and Hinata realized he had been rambling again. He clamped his mouth shut, and smiled up at Sugawara, who knelt down and said, gently, "it all comes with practice! I know you started a little later than the rest of us, and your first competition was pretty bad. But you're getting much better already, and I'm very impressed. You have it in you. We'll pull that greatness out of you." Hinata blushed. Those kind eyes always made him feel better.
Just then, Kageyama opened the door to the studio and poked his head outside. "Coach says we're starting across the floor now." He said, sounding bored. Hinata, startled by his sudden appearance, stared straight into his striking eyes. He intimidated Hinata, for sure, but also intrigued him. He had watched his variation at the competition last season, and had been very impressed.
His movements were precise, down to his hands and fingers, which always seemed to have the right amount of energy without looking stiff or forced. His turns were perfectly clean, and his leaps were good. Hinata's vow to beat him at the next competition had been dashed when he walked into the studio, brand new shoes in his hands, to see the black haired prodigy finish what must have been at least 5 pirouettes, landing gently back into fifth position like it had been a single. Their shouting had gotten them kicked out of the studio, it echoed horribly with the mirrors and hardwood, and they had to dance together to win their way back in. The duet hadn't gone badly, in fact, it had been captivating, so they were granted their way back into the team, but even after that they didn't believe that they made a good duo.
The moment ended when Sugawara stood up, and Kageyama broke Hinata's gaze to look at him, saying "Your center work is very clean" gruffly before looking down.
"Thank you, Kageyama-kun!" Sugawara beamed, clearly pleased. "Your turning is amazing, too. Very steady."
Kageyama blushed a little, still looking down, and muttering a polite thank you before turning around and disappearing into the studio again.
Hinata stared at the place that he had vanished from, eyes still wide and cheeks vaguely warm. Sugawara glanced down, holding his hand out to help Hinata up, and asked "You don't like him, do you? I see the way you look at him."
Hinata spluttered, "No, I don't like him! Why would you say I like him??" springing to his feet, face hot. Sugawara laughed. "I said 'don't like him,' Hinata-kun. Did you mishear me?"
Hinata looked down, rubbing the back of his neck. "Oh, yeah, I must have. Sorry." He grabbed the towel that had fallen to the floor, shook it out, and put it back over his shoulder. He didn't mind that his white shirt was splotchy with sweat, but he didn't really want to rub dirt on his face from a towel that had been on the ground, either.
"Heh, heh, well!! Let's go back to class!" Hinata said, bounding back towards the door of the studio, trying to avoid the topic at hand. Sugawara chuckled a little and dropped it. They walked back into the dance room, ready for their across the floor exercises.
This was Hinata's favorite part of class. Sure, they did jumps in the center exercises, but this was where he really shone. Beats and things were easy, but tour jetés and big leaps were his specialty. The air was easy to him, lifting him and placing him gently back down, almost silently, as he rolled through his feet and pliéd back to the floor. They didn't call him a bird boy for nothing. And there was nothing he loved more than the feeling of hitting the split in his grand jeté, the moment of weightlessness as his feet curved upwards to complete the arc.
He had been told that he looked carefree and effortless. He never looked at himself in the mirrors, however. Something about it scared him. His gaze was always fixed upwards, following the line of his fingertips to complete the lines of his leap. They were flawless, effortless, and a wonder to behold.
The class flew by, as did Hinata. Everyone watched, eyes wide, as he leaped and bounded through the across the floors. It was plain to see, however, that he needed lots of technical work. His turns were shaky, and his musicality was sometimes off. He didn't often know where his hands were supposed to be, and he stumbled through some easy steps. He was ever as enthusiastic, though, always bouncing off the center of the floor to the edges after holding the finishing pose.
He watched like a hawk, though. Clipped crow as he was, part of Karasuno Art Academy, he had a gaze like no other. He stared, bright eyed and eager, at every other student as they made their way across the floor. His eyes changed when Kageyama went across the floor. They narrowed, and his focus zoned in. His eyes flicked across Kageyama's body, following his perfect lines as his arms raised, separated, and flowed with perfect grace through a pas de bourre, making the simple step seem glamorous and fluid. His feet pointed with every step, his toes brushing just a little longer than you would expect possible before sliding off into a flawless point. Every time. His eyes never faltered, never looked down, always followed the line of his hand, past and away, almost expressionless. Just a little bit sour, or sad, or upset. Or a mixture of the three. Melancholy.
Hinata watched Kageyama because his technique was nearly flawless, he told himself. He wanted to learn from this boy, a head and a half taller than him, stronger by far and more technically correct than he could hope to be.
But he wanted to learn from him, so badly.
At the end of the combination, Kageyama finished the triple pirouette with ease (he could have done four, Hinata thought, and still made it in time,) posed, and shook off the posture to walk off the center of the floor. As he turned and made his way to the end of the line, he caught Hinata's eye. He blushed and turned his eyes away from Kageyama's, turning to focus on the next dancer. Asahi was likely the strongest on the team, built more muscular than the rest. He was tall and strong, his turns were controlled and his leaps were powerful. He was a powerhouse, and the first choice for the lead in any piece they put on. He was the ideal partner.
Hinata was jealous. He was neither tall nor strong, and would never be a good partner. Well, a good lead. He was... Surprisingly good as the follower, very light and easy to lift. He was a good partner, in that sense.
In middle school, he had trained with the girls dance class, being that there was no male class. They had been mindful of him being a boy, making him go last and even slowing down the music for his across the floor exercises so he could jump higher and longer. He had, however, learned... Some other things.
Hinata never told anyone about the pointe shoes he had, buried at the back of his closet. They were just his size, he had been fitted with the rest of the girls, and he had trained extensively with them. His legs were powerful, and his jumps landed as quietly as they did because of the way you had to land on pointe to keep it silent. His secret was hidden well, however, and he never mentioned it, as much as he almost blurted it out on a daily basis. Pointe training was a women's world, and wearing pointe shoes was almost taboo for men. He knew he would be laughed out of the class if anyone ever found out.
Training never ended. He was always stretching, he practiced relevés at the grocery store, and he did pirouette after pirouette in his kitchen, waiting for the water to boil.
Each of the boys in the class had a strong point. Sugawara and Kageyama turned, Nishinoya had the fastest, slickest beats and footwork, Daichi's musicality made him beautiful to watch, Tanaka could lift almost as well as Asahi, Yamaguchi excelled at the barre, and Tsukishima's height and flexibility made his kicks very impressive. And then there was Hinata. Tiny, tiny Hinata. The jumper.
Asahi finished the last run across the floor, and they moved on to the center combination. Hinata watched Daichi teach the moves, talking through the terms that he saw Hinata tilt his head to. He was a very good teacher, but Hinata was still a little behind. He was, luckily, positioned behind Kageyama, and watched his feet as he followed along. Kageyama, glancing at the mirror, caught Hinata at it and turned around to snap at him "Follow someone else, moron." Hinata snapped back "I was just looking!"
The rest of the class rolled their eyes, looking to one another. Even after their performance, the two couldn't get along.
After the last run of the combination, the class bowed, clapped, and walked off to the edges of the room to stretch and change shoes. There was no time for extra practice today, so they had to pack up and go immediately. Usually they stuck around to practice whatever it was they needed to, but today they were actually, for once, leaving when the sun was still up.
Kageyama sat down by his bag to pull off his ballet flats and slip on street shoes to go back to his dorm. Class was over for the day, and he was headed home. Hinata dropped his bag down next to Kageyama, and flopped down to grab his own shoes. Kageyama looked up at him, eyes icy, but Hinata kept his eyes down as he laced his tennis shoes and shoved his flats into his bag. He stood up, and felt like Kageyama wanted to say something to him, but he just turned on his heel and walked away. The two had to walk the same path to get to the dorms, but it seemed like Kageyama didn't want to walk with Hinata.
Until he walked outside, and Hinata, conveniently fiddling with his laces and watching the door of the studio, blushed. When Kageyama appeared, Hinata shot up and started to walk, hurriedly, towards the road. Noticing that Kageyama wasn't following, Hinata faltered and turned back, looking at him with a confused, hurt expression.
"You're not coming?" He asked, the cool facade faltering as he stared back, not shying away from the eye contact this time. They always walked to the dorms together. Their rooms were in the same hall, so it only made sense to walk together.
Kageyama rolled his eyes and started walking towards Hinata. As he caught up to Hinata, he jumped into the air and started to babble on about class and how Sugawara had said nice things and how amazing Asahi's jumps were, as always. The walk always went like this.
When Hinata and Kageyama reached Hinata's door, he opened the door to see his suitemate, Kenma, parked on the couch with their friend Kuroo next to them, drawing on their tablets as always. They were both part of the art conservatory, and even though Kuroo lived down the hall, he always seemed to be over.
"See you tomorrow, Kageyama!" Hinata said, watching over his shoulder as Kageyama waved and walked off to his own room. "Don't you have your own room, Kuroo?" Hinata asked, jokingly, and Kuroo answered, without taking his eyes off his screen, "Bo is at a late rehearsal, something about fixing the lighting so Oikawa will stop walking out of his spots, and I need to finish this design."
Hinata laughed, eyes bright, and pranced off to the shower.
After his shower, Hinata retreated to his room to escape the ranting Bokuto, who was shouting about Oikawa who had apparently decided Bokuto's best set piece was "not his color" and "washed him out" and was trying to get the director to make Bo repaint it. He closed his door on Bokuto's shouts of "Such! A diva!" and, after locking it securely, made his way to his closet to pull out his prized drawstring bag.
Unloading the toe pads and cut-off transition tights to the floor, he gingerly pulled out his pointe shoes, placing them in the floor in front of him. He was always careful to sit with his back to the door, so he was at least blocking the evidence with his body. Since the boys didn't wear transition tights in class, most of the time opting for just leggings and the standard white shirt, Hinata had cut off an old pair from middle school to make what were basically knee high socks. He needed the "transition" part of the toes to keep his toe pads from being destroyed, but the rest was unnecessary, really.
He rolled on the tights and took the toes off to put on his toe pads, wiggling them around until they covered the necessary parts of his foot. Then he slid his feet into his shoes, wrapping the laces around his ankles and tucking them securely under themselves to keep them from coming apart as he danced. When he had started, he hadn't known how to tie them (he tied them up his legs like ballerina dolls did, and was laughed at by everyone in he class) but at this point, he was an expert. He stood up, checking that his door was locked one more time, and grabbed the doorknob to use it as a rudimentary barre. He did this almost every day, but he still feared that Kenma would come in suddenly (had they ever come into Hinata's room? No) or that someone would be outside the window and see him (his window backed the dumpsters. Nobody would see inside.) and he was ... Scared.
He started with a gentle warmup, rolling through his feet into an elevé and pliéing over to a forced arch. His ankles were still warm from class, and his muscles felt loose and pliant from the hot shower. He continued to warm up his feet and ankles, then moved to more complicated moves, pushing the rug out of the way to practice turns in the center of the floor. His turns were getting better, but he needed help. And he knew just who he needed to help him.
If only he could get up the nerve to ask him.