"Practice is over!"
Otsubo's ringing voice was quickly drowned by the happy cheers all around them. Shuutoku's basketball team members quickly shuffled off to the locker rooms and shower rooms to change. Today's training menu was harsher than usual, even the regulars were draped on the benches in fatigue. Their first year combo were the only ones left on the court, ironing out the last details of their new play. Midorima was shouting out orders at Takao who was muttering curses under his breath. It was as usual between the two of them, but lately Otsubo had noticed something different between the two.
Maybe it was because Takao wasn't teasing Midorima as often as he normally does, or maybe because Midorima wasn't reating to Takao as strongly as he usually does. Whatever it was, Otsubo was sharp enough to pick up on it. He raised the topic to Miyaji who merely gave him a level stare.
"You can't be serious?" Miyaji retorted, implying that he already knew what was going on between their underclassmen.
"What is it?" Otsubo couldn't help asking, now, even Kimura's attention was perked.
"They're going out with each other, isn't it obvious?" was the blonde's bombshell.
Silence and then a sound loud enough to attract both Midorima and Takao's attention.
"THERE'S NO FUCKING WAY THAT'S POSSIBLE!" were the words that came out of Otsubo's mouth. Kimura was merely looking pensive, most probably reviewing the changes he had seen over the last few weeks.
"Well, there is a good chance of that happening. After all, who can say no to Takao's persistence? If there's anyone who can make someone as straight-laced as Midorima bend, Takao's it."
"Nani? Nani? Are you talking about me Captain?"
Without their notice, both first-years had approached them, near enough to hear the last of Kimura's comment.
Otsubo suddenly roused himself from shock and rounded up on the two. Takao's wide grin quickly slipped off his face at the sight of their captain's face. Midorima merely adjusted his glasses, preparing for the worst.
"You two! Is it true?"
"What are you talking about... senpai?" Midorima asked in irritation. Most probably, it was something worthless again.
"Are you two really going out?!" Otsubo asked straight-out. Miyaji smacked his face in embarassment as Kimura turned his back on them, trying hard to hold in the laugh that was threatening to spill out. The blonde had been playing around with Otsubo, Kimura had quickly picked up on that and had even encouraged it. His laughter started to die though when he realized that Midorima hadn't vehemently denied the idea. Indeed, the shooting guard had been completely silent since Otsubo's question.
Kimura turned around and was struck dumb by the expression on the greenette's face. It was almost pained, as though Midorima wasn't sure how to answer the question. Miyaji noticed it too, and was having cold sweats.
"Oi, oi... Don't tell me you two really are-"
"Of course not Senpai!"
Takao's cheery voice broke through the icy silence, and suddenly all eyes were on him, even Midorima's.
"Shin-chan will NEVER go out with someone like me! I'm a guy to boot. There's a bigger chance that an apocalypse will happen before Shin-chan will go out with a guy."
"Oi..." Midorima's low voice started. The shooter had his hand out, poised to turn Takao around to face him.
"Yeah! As if that would happen!" Otsubo said in relief. "Midorima would never go out with Takao."
Miyaji merely simmered, silently cursing Otsubo's lack of tact. The blonde's eyes were on Midorima now, the shooter's face was contorted into a frown, but he still hasn't said a word to deny Otsubo's accusation. Takao on the other hand, still had that stupid grin pasted on his face and was now maneuvering the topic to safe ground.
Kimura exchanged glances with the blonde and shrugged, the two concerned can sort it out between themselves, they silently decided.
"If that's the case, then I'll just leave you two to finish up on your plays. Remember to lock up afterwards." Otsubo said with an annoyed huff and left. Miyaji and Kimura hesitated a bit but quickly ran after their captain after waving goodbye to their kouhai.
Midorima kept his mouth shut until he was sure that their sempais were out of earshot. Takao as well, was silent besides him. The greenette glanced down at his oddly silent partner and opened his mouth to speak.
"Shin-chan, what were you telling me earlier?" the brunette suddenly cut in intentionally. He sounded both cheerful and annoying to Midorima's ears that the shooter decided to let the matter go, even though it didn't sat well with him. Midorima merely sighed and decided to continue with practice, choosing to shelve that little voice telling him to dig deeper into the situation. He didn't notice the ice that glazed over Takao's usual smiling gaze. An ice that would grow colder and colder... Until it freezes them from within. And by then, he can only hope he wasn't too late.
And that's when things started to change, little things at first, stuff Midorima would usually ignore. Things like the way Takao would steal food from the taller boy's bento, the way the brunette's fingers would linger in contact whenever he gave Midorima a can of Shiruku. Those little things that both infuriate and makes the point guard adorable in the shooter's eyes... they all disappeared. At first Midorima thought it was coincidence, and he didn't think anything of it. But then, somehow things went more than a little awry.
Like that day when Takao was once again pedaling the rickshaw. Midorima was sitting in the cart, sipping on his favorite drink while reading through a novel. For once, the point guard was silent, and Midorima was fine with it. He was so engrossed with his book that he almost didn't notice that the rickshaw was running close to the edge of the river bank. When the cart began to dip, Midorima glanced up in surprise and jumped off pulling Takao with him. The wooden cart and it's attached bicycle, free of their load, quickly slipped off the bank and into the water.
The shooter saw the cart bob once before disappearing under the ice. He turned towards the point guard, ready to tell Takao's socks off. The brunette merely hanged his head, in shame or fear, Midorima did not know. He decided to keep his silence and walk the rest of the way home, the point guard still trailing after him in silence.
And that was how the two lost their means of transportation. Ever since then, Takao had walked the distance between his and Midorima's house during the mornings he came to pick the greenette up. Together, they walked towards the school, sometimes accompanied by Takao's incessant chatter and Midorima's one-worded replies, sometimes in total silence. Near the end though, whenever he and Takao were together, it was always in silence. And Midorima didn't even wonder why.
Like they say, you won't know the value of something until it's gone.