It all started after Hinata showed a small sliver of self doubt.
He hadn't missed a spike, nor cost the team any big points. He wasn't in a win-or-lose situation and lost, he hadn't ruined anything. And yet, he felt like maybe he wasn't being as great as his teammates. He saw them as bright as stars, each emitting his own beam of light and drive and passion and skill, and him as a star still, but dimmer, smaller.
"You guys were great!" He said, jumping up to high five Tanaka. He smiled widely.
"We. We were great." Kageyama said from behind him. He grabbed the shorter boy's head, much to his annoyance, and turned him to have them face to face. Hinata looked up, to be met with Kageyama's forehead against his own.
"What's your problem you-"
"We. Do not forget that." He lifted his forehead from Hinata's and stood straight again, exiting the gym with everyone else. Tsukishima let out a snort from behind him, but Hinata was to happy to be annoyed. He didn't know why, but somehow Kageyama had really cheered him.
Most of the time Kageyama preferred to leave people to their own devices and let them work out their problems on their own, but sometimes, most rarely, he let his observant abilities lend a hand. This was one of those times. If Hinata got too caught up in his teammates, he would lose himself, and Kageyama couldn't let his spiker go just like that. He needed him to spike his tosses, even if Hinata could spike just fine without him. So he decided to help him, even if it wasn't in the most conventional of ways. After he did it he regretted it to a point, the fact that he had shown a potential softer side to himself to Hinata. Which was weird. He shrugged it off.
Since then, Kageyama would do it after almost every game, no matter the result or the score. Whether it was encouraging words or silence, it became a routine. Hinata looked forward to it just because he felt empowered afterword, and Kageyama liked it because he could show something, be a part of what kept Hinata going.
He had missed a spike, as well as some minor points. He wasn't in a win-or-lose situation and lost, and he hadn't ruined much. But Hinata still felt severely behind the rest of his teammates, they're brightness almost blinding him. If he couldn't do even half as well, how would they ever become a pulsing star himself? He shook away his thoughts and cheered on the side with everyone else, thinking no one noticed. Kageyama noticed.
Kageyama noticed a lot of things. He noticed when Hinata was feeling his best, when he was feeling his worst, when he needed a spike, when he needed to be a fake front, when he was ready, when he wasn't, and when Hinata needed some fuel to his ever burning fire. His words, or lack thereof, were that fuel. He didn't think of it of affectionate, or not at this time, but as mere encouragement to a weaker person.
"I need to practice more, or I'll never get any of this right!" Hinata said, mostly to himself, as they began back to the school. Kageyama stopped him for a moment for their classic forehead touch, holding Hinata still.
"Don't give up, stupid." He said, lifting away and acting as if it never happened. His voice was always soft when he did this, he noticed, but he didn't think much of it. Hinata did a lot to him that he didn't question. And if he did, he didn't want to know the true answer.
He had missed two spikes, as well as cost the team some big points. He was in a win-or-lose situation and lost. He ruined everything. He knew he wasn't being as great as his teammates, and that his light, if he ever had it, was fading. No "We'll get them next time, for sure!"'s could reassure him, and he exited the gym without a word. He was ahead of the team, the rest still inside crying and laughing and trying to get over the lose. He felt a cool hand on his shoulder.
"Not today, Kageyama! Don't you see? Word's can't change that I'm not a star!" He felt a tear but didn't sob or try to wipe it off.
"You are a star."
"You are." They stood in silence as the rest of the team arrived.
Not a star? He was the brightest star around. The sun, if Kageyama was to compare to anything. He may not see his own brightness, but everyone else could. He wanted to wring Hinata by his neck, to tell him how good he really was, how bright, almost annoyingly so, but he figured now may be the time where he was to step back and let him work through this on his own, like he did with everyone else. So he took a step back.
The forehead touches stopped.
After a week, Hinata figured Kageyama had just forgotten. After two weeks, he figured Kageyama had just thought Hinata didn't need them anymore. After three weeks, he figured Kageyama had lost hope in him. After a month, he felt faded to a speck of dust. And on the walk to his bike with Kageyama on Friday, he burst.
"Even you lost hope in me, huh Kageyama?" He said. He laughed a little.
"You stopped trying to help me even. I don't blame you though." Kageyama stopped walking, Hinata stopping as well.
"What do you mean, stupid? You're the best spiker I've had." Kageyama said.
"Am I? I'm not, stop lying to me!"
"I'm telling you the truth!"
"You just don't want to tell me how bad I am do you? How I've let you down?"
"What the hell are you talking about?!"
"The forehead things you used to do! You stopped doing them! Or do you even remember?!" Hinata said. He was a mixture of sadness and anger, angry tears forming at the corners of his eyes. He bit his bottom lip to stop from crying.
"Of coarse I remember, and I stopped doing them because-"
"Because I'll never be the star you want me to be!" Hinata shouted. Kageyama looked down at him, with his rustled ginger hair sticking up every which way and tears down his cheeks. To Kageyama, he still shone like the sun.
"You are a star! The brightest one! You are invincible!" Kageyama said, lightly touching his forehead with Hinata's.
"You may not be a star like them, but you are the brightest shining one that shines no matter what. Through everything, you always shine down on everyone!" When he parted his head again, Hinata was looking straight at him. They held eye contact, and while staring straight into the sun could blind a person, Kageyama did it anyway.