Author's Note : Sorry for the super long hiatus! I haven't been very motivated to continue this story because I have hit the dreaded writer's block. . After this chapter, you'll see more interaction with Shoko and Midorima because Harumi is out of the way – for now at least!
As you can tell from the last chapter, I'm not very good at writing 'romantic scenes'. I tried to include a little of Midorima/Shoko, but it seems to be very forced to me. OTL. I'll do better in the next few chapters!
As always, thank you for your support and enjoy reading this chapter! –helpwhatiswrong
"If you want to climb a mountain, you obviously aim for the top, but you gotta enjoy the scenery too." –Teppei Kiyoshi
"I don't like these. Do it again."
Shoko looked annoyed as the class representative handed her back her work and sauntered away. Flipping through the contents, Shoko frowned when she noticed his suggestions written on the margin.
Shoko sighed, closing her eyes as she slammed the packet on her desk. Summer vacation was over and with the school's cultural festival coming in two months, Shoko was bombarded with work as the female class representative.
Every idea she had proposed was declined by the male representative, which made her work so much harder. They were supposed to turn in their proposal to the student council later that week, but so far, they had nothing.
Momoi and Kise were currently at practice – busy preparing for the winter tournament – so Shoko was alone in the classroom. 'This is ridiculous. .' Shoko thought, reading over some of the suggestions he had written.
Shoko's phone beeped. Momoi had messaged her saying practice was over and asked her to meet her in the gym. Gathering her belongings, Shoko shuffled out of the classroom in a lethargic pace.
She felt uncomfortable every time she neared the gym. Her brother came home late every night with a triumph grin on his face. She didn't know what he was planning, but she knew he wanted revenge against the basketball players.
While she wasn't close to many of the members on the team, she couldn't sit back and let her brother ruin their passion over his bruised ego. Shoko exhaled, feeling overwhelmed by the whole situation and entered the gym.
Shoko heard the sound of a basketball hitting the courts and furrowed her eyebrows. Practice had ended an hour ago and according to Momoi's message, all of the players had left for the day.
Taking a quick peek at the basketball court, Shoko's eyes widened in surprise when she saw the green haired shooter toss the basketball into the hoop effortlessly. Each time the ball made it in, he would take a step backwards – furthering the distance.
Shoko watched as Midorima had a concentrated look on his face. He had a light coat of sweat over his skin. It was obvious he had stayed long after practice to polish his skills.
A soft beep from her phone reminded her that Momoi was still waiting for her. Shoko took once last glance at the shooter before quietly exiting the gym.
Midorima paused mid-shoot when he heard the gym's door close. Lowering the basketball, he glanced around the empty gym to see if anyone was watching him. Wiping his sweat from his brow, Midorima's eyes narrowed when he noticed a cold sports drink on the bleacher.
"Where were you?" Momoi asked as she saw Shoko hurry out of the gym. The grey haired girl had a rather flushed expression on her face as she greeted the data analyst.
"I just got caught up with something," She replied evenly, adjusting the folder of the festival plans in her arms. "I have to redo the proposals for the cultural festival."
Momoi exhaled in exasperation. She knew well what kind of person the male representative was since they often clashed in student council. "Again?!" She raked her hand through her hair. "At this rate, we're going to have something stupid as our event. ." Momoi complained, pouting as the two of them walked towards the gate.
Shoko scoffed. As if she would allow her class to be subjected to the male representative's boring ideas. "I wrote some ideas down during class." Shoko replied, gesturing to the papers in her arms. "But the problem is the class budget. ."
Momoi blinked. "You should have gotten money for the supplies." When Shoko stared at her with a blank expression, Momoi furrowed her eyebrows. "It was included in the packet."
Shoko searched her belongings and frowned when she failed to see the envelope. Sighing loudly, she massaged her temples as she closed her eyes. "I must have misplaced it somewhere."
Momoi looked concerned. "This is the first time I've seen you so stressed." Her visage darkened as she held up her fist. "If this is causing you too much trouble, I can ask the representative to back off."
Shoko held up her hand in protest. "I had a lot of my mind lately." She managed a weak smile. She wasn't entirely concerned over the money – she was just worried that someone might steal her ideas that she had written on the envelope.
"But I'm fine." Shoko reassured Momoi. "Don't do anything that will make it worse." Momoi didn't look entirely convinced by Shoko's reply, but nodded anyways.
"Well, just tell me if you need help or something." Momoi said. "The festival is supposed to be a class event, you don't have to shoulder everything yourself."
Shoko closed her eyes as she felt the cool autumn air kiss her cheeks. It was almost the end of the week and she still didn't have a solid plan for the festival. She had asked her classmates for suggestions, but many said things that were already taken by the other classes.
Shoko held up the paper with the suggestions the male representative had written down. 'At this rate, we're going to have to do a card tournament.' Shoko frowned. The only reason he wanted to do one was because it was cheap and easy.
Crumpling the paper, she tossed it in the nearest trashcan and lay back down on the grassy hill. She tried remembering some of the events she had written on the envelope, but there were so many that she could only remember a handful.
'Back to square one.' Shoko thought with a deep frown.
"Hi, Shoko-chan! What's with the serious expression?" Shoko opened her eyes and saw Harumi standing in front of her with two bentos in his hands. Shoko sat up and greeted the upperclassman with a polite bow.
He handed her a box and took a seat beside her. "It's just the school festival." Shoko replied, opening the box. She smiled when she saw that it was packed with her favorites.
Harumi nodded as he slurped the noodles in his bento. "Ah, the infamous cultural festival." Since Teiko was a prestigious private middle school, the cultural festival gave the other schools a chance to explore the campus and heightened Teiko's reputation. "My class is doing a cosplay café!"
"I think I'm supposed to be dressed as a butler or something." Harumi continued, smoothing his hair back with his hand. "The class representatives are making me practice stupid lines to prepare for the event."
Shoko raised an eyebrow as she picked up a piece of fried chicken with her chopsticks. "What are they making you say?"
Shoko's eyes widened as Harumi suddenly turned towards her and tilted her chin up with his finger. "'Hello, princess. Are you enjoying the meal?'" Harumi said in a low voice. Shoko blinked as Harumi traced her jaw line.
"'Or are you enjoying the view more?'" He gave a suggestive raise of his eyebrow and licked his lips seductively.
A few moments passed before Shoko laughed. Harumi dropped his hands and resumed to his meal. "It sounds like you are in the host club." Shoko replied as she begun eating.
Harumi grinned. "Well, the third years are pretty confident that it's going to be a big hit this year." He scratched his chin thoughtfully. "The guys and I are having a competition to see who has the most 'requests' for that day."
"So you should definitely stop by! I'll give you a special discount." Shoko smiled and opened her mouth to reply, but stopped when a deep voice interrupted.
"Haisaki, I have to talk to you." Shoko turned and saw Midorima standing behind her with his arms cross His expression was unreadable as he stared at the duo.
Shoko exchanged curious glances with Harumi. The upperclassman suddenly stood up and dusted the grass off his school uniform's pants. "I have to get back to class anyways," Harumi said. "I'll see you later, Shoko-chan!"
Ducking his head, Harumi quickly scurried past Midorima – not meeting his eyes as he left. Shoko had noticed that Harumi didn't interact with many of the basketball players aside from Kise.
Midorima disregarded Harumi's strange behavior and took a step forward.
Shoko turned back around. "What do you want?" Shoko poked at her food. Suddenly, she didn't have an appetite anymore.
Momoi had always said Shoko was so perceptive of other people that it was almost frightening. She could see what other people didn't want to see and acted like a mirror that reflected all of their imperfects back at them.
However, out of all people, she couldn't properly read Midorima. She didn't know what motives he had and it was strange to her.
He would treat her as if she didn't exist one moment and the next he would treat her as a regular classmate. It was very puzzling.
She didn't know if she disliked Midorima or just hated not being able to read him. Midorima cleared his throat and held something out.
Shoko stared at the envelope blankly and met his gaze with a suspicious look. Once Midorima realized the situation, a light scowl grazed his visage. "It's not a love letter." He looked almost repulsed by the thought.
"I never thought it was." The grey haired girl simply replied as she grabbed the envelope. "I was just wondering why you have it." It was the envelope that she had misplaced a couple of days ago.
"I found it." Shoko gave him a deadpanned look. "I found it near the basketball courts." Midorima clarified, pushing his glasses up his nose.
Shoko remained silent as she safely tucked the envelope into her pocket. "I don't like owing people." Midorima suddenly said. "I heard that your class still haven't agreed on an event to do."
Shoko sighed softly. She had heard all of the other second year classes had agreed on an event and had already begun planning for the festival. Shoko vaguely remembered that Midorima and Akashi's class were going to set up a crepe stand.
"In exchange for the drink you left, I think the first idea you wrote on the envelope is acceptable." Pursing her lips, Shoko took out the envelope and read what she had written.
Shoko looked up and noticed that Midorima had left without saying another word. Midorima was involved on the student council, so if he approved of the idea, the male class representative would most likely agree to it as well.
'Did he just help me?' Shoko wondered. She never thought that she would receive help from Midorima. While he had said it was for exchange for the drink, she wasn't entirely convinced.
Shoko shook her head, dismissing the thought from her mind. Perhaps she was just overthinking the situation.
The next few weeks were hectic. From juggling her duties as class representative and helping Momoi with the basketball team, Shoko felt mentally and physically drained by the time she got home.
Luckily, Teiko's basketball team had lived up to their standards and they secured a spot at the Winter tournament. Momoi had been ecstatic at their placing, but also stressed out because Akashi had proclaimed Teiko would take the crown for the second year in a row.
Momoi had a lot of pressure on her shoulders and Shoko thought it was her duty to help her best friend with the paperwork so Momoi could concentrate with strengthening the players' weaknesses.
The preparations for the school's festival were going smoothly as well. After Midorima had given her the green light on one of her ideas, the male class representative finally agreed with her proposal and they were slowly making progress.
While most of the second year classes' were doing cafes or plays, Shoko thought it was appropriate to go in a different direction and decided to sell roses instead. Each rose color symbolized a different meaning – love or friendship – and tied in with Christmas, which was quickly approaching.
Her class was excited once they heard about the event and word quickly spread throughout the school. While Shoko was pleased with the positive response, her workload doubled because she would need more roses to accommodate the demand.
Shoko felt her eyelids grow heavy as her history teacher continued lecturing about the Heian time period. She couldn't remember the last time she had a proper night of rest. Resisting the urge of yawn, she propped up her textbook and placed her head on her desk.
'I have to help Momoi set up for practice today,' Shoko made a mental note not to forget about the mandatory basketball practice after school. Closing her eyes, she slipped into a dreamless sleep.
"Shoko-chan~ Wake up!" A soft voice sang as the person twirled a strand of her grey hair with his finger. Taking a deep breath, Shoko slowly began to stir and opened her eyes.
Covering her mouth as she yawned, Shoko sat up in her chair and looked around. The classroom was empty. Shoko groaned as she glanced at the clock – school was already over. She slept through half of her classes.
Shoko turned her attention to the person sitting in front of her. Harumi grinned and held out a note to her. "Momoi-chan asked me to give this to you!" Shoko took the note and quickly read the contents.
Don't worry about basketball practice today! I have things taken care of – you should have told me that you were tired! I have the notes from the lectures you missed today, so don't worry about schoolwork either. Just go home and take a long rest – you deserve it!
"You shouldn't overwork yourself, Shoko-chan! It can't be good for your health." Harumi looked genuinely concerned and his eyebrows were furrowed. Slipping the note in her pocket, Shoko shook her head.
"Don't worry about it. I'm fine." Shoko replied as she began to place her books in her schoolbag. Taking note of the time, Shoko continued. "Shouldn't you be at practice?"
Shoko immediately noticed the crease between Harumi's eyebrows as she mentioned practice, but remained quiet as Harumi gave her a strained smile. "I'm actually not going to attend practices anymore. ." Harumi admitted, scratching his cheek.
"Why?" Shoko asked. "Did you quit?"
Harumi looked uncomfortable and shifted in his seat. It was obvious he didn't really want to talk about it, but when Harumi made eye contact with Shoko, he felt ashamed for hiding his secret from her. "I just. ." The older boy began. "I just don't see the point of playing basketball anymore."
Shoko narrowed her eyes. "How childish. If you really felt that way, you would have quit the team."
He had heard rumors about Shoko before he had even met in person. With her brother as the ex-violent member of the basketball team, he was a bit apprehensive about approaching his sister and the rumors that surrounded her convinced Harumi to avoid Shoko for a while.
People had said that she was too perceptive. She reflected the things that people didn't want to see with such clarity that looking into her eyes was like looking into a mirror. He hated it.
He hated how he was so jealous and insecure. Harumi hated how he blamed his lack of talent in basketball on the Generation of Miracles. He hated being overshadowed.
He was weak.
Rather than accepting his weakness, he pushed the blame to the basketball team.
The look in Shoko's eyes reflected his exact thoughts and suddenly a burst of rage consumed the older classman. Shoko barely batted an eyelid as Harumi rose to his feet and flipped over her desk.
"Stop. . stop looking me like that!" Harumi yelled, kicking the desk in frustration. He was angry that he never got to play in Teiko's matches. While he was proud to belong on such a prestigious team, what was the point if he never got to participate in matches?
How was he supposed to be proud of his team when he barely got to step on the courts? The Generation of Miracles established a standard so high that stepping onto the courts with them would be like scaling an iron wall. "You don't understand anything!"
"You're right. I don't understand." Shoko answered, much to Harumi's surprise. "I don't understand the troubles the basketball has, but I do know that the Generation of Miracles are hard working individuals."
Shoko stood up and bent over to pick up her book bag. "They put twice as much effort into their practices because they have a passion for basketball." The girl straightened her back and locked eyes with Harumi.
"You're too weak, senpai. Rather than placing your blame on the members, why don't you invest your time on the courts instead of wasting your time?"
Shoko's head was turned to the side and the strands that had escaped from her ponytail hung in front of her face. Her eyes widened slightly as she gingerly touched her swollen cheek.
Turning her attention back to Harumi, the boy's hands were clenched on his sides. Swallowing a lump in his throat, his voice was quiet. "I thought out of all people you would have understood."
"But just like all other things, I guess I was wrong." Harumi forced a laugh and shook his head. "You're just like the rest of them." Turning on his heels, Harumi walked out of the room without another word.
Shoko stood there in stunned silence for a moment before lifting the desk back up and rearranging it back to its proper position. She stared at the wooden surface of her desk with such concentration that she didn't notice Midorima enter the classroom a few minutes later.
"Haisaki, I saw Harumi leave the building. Momoi said that he was supposed to take you home." The green haired shooter narrowed his eyes when Shoko barely acknowledged his presence and walked towards the girl.
"Normally, I wouldn't agree to escorting you home, but since it is supposed to be good luck to do a good deed for Cancers today." Midorima said, sliding his glasses up his nose with his index finger.
"So don't get used to this." Midorima said, "This is only a-" The green haired shooter stopped talking when Shoko finally lifted her head and his eyes were drawn to the large red handprint on her cheek. The redness was fading and a bruise was beginning to form.
A trace of concern flashed in his eyes. While Midorima didn't have a particular care for Shoko, the bruise looked like it hurt. "Haisaki, what-?"
"I went too far." Shoko replied easily, brushing her hair out of her face as she readjusted her book bag's strap on her shoulder. She didn't seem the least bit affected by the forming bruise on her delicate cheek.
"I said too much." Midorima furrowed his eyebrows in confusion, but said nothing as Shoko closed her eyes and exhaled softly. "Let's go." Shoko took even strides towards the door, not taking a second glance behind her to see if Midorima was following her.
Midorima blinked, wondering what could have been the cause of Shoko's strange behavior. Midorima's eyes narrowed when he noticed two small water droplets on the surface of her desk and a small frown formed on his lips.