The first time they meet—in middle school, in a hallway next to the bathroom of the gymnasium—they don’t know each others’ names.
And they don’t learn them, not even after two quick games where neither of them really wins anything.
Not the King of the Court, who still can’t sense the widening rift between him and the team on his side of the net, because he’s too focused—on the game, on his tosses, on the other side’s smallest player, the one with so much wasted potential. So he thinks.
And the Small Giant hopeful, he doesn’t have enough time. Not time enough to stay on the court he’d always dreamed of, nor to learn the name of the one blocking his path.
They don’t understand one another. They move on.
They come back together.
Not by choice… when they see each other again at Karasuno, there is no feeling of kinship, only irritation. But the captains have the roster, and their names, and so they are finally introduced.
They really can’t stand each other.
Kageyama is dumb and oblivious, and wildly reassured of his own abilities. He has yet to learn that there are multiple people on a team for a reason. He’s a bastard, Hinata says, he’s my rival.
Hinata is less oblivious but just as dumb, and has no idea what to do with a volleyball, which puts an expression of permanent constipation on Kageyama’s face. Hinata wants to do everything right now. He’s a dumbass, Kageyama says, I won’t ever toss to him.
Then he does.
They remain rivals, but become partners, too.
They discover, much to their shock, that it’s occasionally very difficult not to become friends with the one person who knows them best.
It takes three years of high school for them to crumble and admit it during one incredibly embarrassing conversation shortly before Nationals that they will never tell anyone about, ever. They’re both fairly sure no one they know has ever had to make a dramatic friendship confession and would not understand. Really, this is why they are friends.
But in the interim, changes become a necessity. After spending so much time at the Hinata household, it becomes natural for Kageyama to call Shouyou by his first name… just because the alternative is confusing both him and his sister whenever Kageyama wants to talk to one of them. That’s the only reason.
And Hinata finds himself strangely obsessed with the way Kageyama’s ears and the back of his neck turn very pink when Hinata calls him by his first name, so he just keeps doing it, after the first time. Eventually, Kageyama gets used to it, and the blushing and stumbling over all his words for several minutes stops; but the fact that he is used to it becomes kind of nice, too. Only Hinata calls him Tobio.
Only Hinata has ever tried to hold Kageyama’s hand and kiss him on the walk home from school in their third year
They are friends, plus a little bit more.
Sometimes a little bit more becomes a lot.
Being on the same side of the net becomes being on the same side, always, even when they fight. Even when they make each other angry. Being rivals aiming for the world stage becomes a long journey in each others’ company. And being invincible becomes being in…
…bed together as late as possible on sleepy mornings when they don’t have practice, or aren’t traveling with the national team. Hinata always ends up taking up most of the space in the bed despite being so much smaller, unless he’s wrapped every possible limb around Kageyama, who has learned to accept his fate.
Sometimes, there is Hinata’s nose and then entire face smashed between Kageyama’s shoulder blades, rubbing insistently until Kageyama finally mumbles, “Shou… Shou, five more minutes…”
Hinata hugs him from behind, fingers splayed under Kageyama’s shirt over his chest and stomach. Kageyama is fairly sure he’s copping a feel.
“Tobi…” Hinata whines plaintively, and Kageyama’s perpetually low reserves of “resisting Shouyou” willpower evaporate. “Make me breakfast?”
The names they call each other may have gotten shorter over the years, but it seems a good exchange, for this life they have together.