Disclaimer: Do not own.


The 20th of November always had Takao giddy with anticipation. It was no different this year.
He bothered just about anyone he was close to with endless questions that went from: "So, what am I getting tomorrow? Tell me, tell me!" to "Admit it! You guys have planned a surprise party again. I told you it was unnecessary!" all day long. He wasn't quite satisfied with the results – after years of Takao's nagging, everyone got so used to it that he couldn't get a single word, hint, sometimes even a sound out of anyone. He didn't mind though, he was sure to find out tomorrow.

What did bother him, though, was a certain bespectacled, green-haired, fingers-taping, all-too-serious and grumpy (and honestly, there were hundreds of other adjectives that came to mind) ace of the Shuutoku High School basketball team, his partner, and – at least he liked to think so – friend, Midorima Shintarou.

Now, Takao's observant eyes liked to follow Midorima – he wasn't going to lie – every second of every day. Not that he was obsessed or anything. He just thought Midorima could use some looking out for. The shooter looked so distant sometimes, Takao wondered if he was as aware of his surroundings as he should be. So yeah, it was only in his best interest to have Takao's eyes watching him so intently. He should thank him, really.

The problem was – Midorima seemed even more distant today than he usually did, so, naturally, Takao's gaze was intense enough to burn a hole in the green of his head. But, for all of his gazes, pondering looks and irritated glances, Takao couldn't figure out what was wrong with the silent teen.

"Shin-chan?" he tried.

"Shut up, Takao. I'm thinking."

And failed. He bit back the classic "don't hurt yourself" reply in favor of not pissing Midorima off any further.

Takao's eyes hurt from the intense daylong searching for any signs of what the hell could be wrong with the brooding shooter, but as soon as he heard the source of his worries rummaging through his bag in search for something, he instantly perked up.

Midorima pulled out his phone, draped the bag over his shoulder, announced: "I have to make a phone call," and then marched off without sparing Takao a glance. So, naturally, Takao followed him.

What he caught from the conversation wasn't much. He heard the name Kuroko, so he knew Midorima was talking to one of his former teammates. Not a usual thing, but nothing too surprising either, he guessed. He also heard the word 'magic'.
Now, why Midorima would be talking to Kuroko about magic, Takao could only guess. He knew the ace was superstitious (or not, considering how all seemed to work out perfectly for him), but magic wasn't something he ever took an interest in. 'Maybe he needs a supposedly magical amulet for his lucky item or something,' Takao mused.

He jumped at the first chance to try and find out more about the strange conversation:

"Oi, Shin-chan. What was that about? Something about magic and stuff?"

Midorima paled: "Err – I need a magical amulet for my lucky item," he answered quickly.

'Figures.'

He didn't notice how nervous Midorima suddenly looked, or that he actually answered his question for once instead of simply telling him to shut up like he usually did. If he had noticed, he probably would have thought there was something very fishy in the air that day.

xxx

The morning of November 21st came fresh and chilly, yet sunny. It was the kind of day Takao loved the most. He was in a good mood since he first opened his eyes, what with the weather, what with all the congratulations and hugs and kisses and presents.

He pedaled his rickshaw enthusiastically towards the ace's house, wondering if Midorima would even remember his birthday. He was planning on feigning deep emotional pain and hurt – in short – playing a drama queen, to amuse himself in case the shooter didn't acknowledge the fact that he was turning seventeen this very day – it's no small thing, mind you – it brought him a year closer to adulthood, after all.

He rang the bell several times ( a few of them completely unwarranted) and was soon met with an immaculate-looking Midorima looking at him with an unreadable expression in his eyes which looked almost as if he was trying to make an unimaginably hard decision. So, of course Takao would soon grow uncomfortable under such a scrutinizing gaze and start babbling:

"So, umm…Look, Shin-chan," he chirped, pulling out a keychain from his pocket. A small item was attached to it. Midorima leaned forward to get a closer look when a look of utter horror appeared on his face.

"Ah, sorry. I forgot. You don't like cats, right? But this is a lucky cat – maneki-neko, you know? It's my lucky item for today, you know? My sister got it for me, since it's my birthday…you know?" he finished in a small voice, hoping he hadn't just ruined Midorima's – and, consequently his own (since he couldn't really be happy when his partner wasn't) day.

"It's not really…because of that…" Midorima mumbled. "Anyway, happy birthday." He concluded before slamming the door in Takao's face.

Takao would be left standing there in complete shock, had he not caught a glimpse of something most interesting – there, just before Midorima had slammed the door, he could have sworn he saw a tip of a very catlike, white and brown ear, lying with the rest of the belonging body on the kitchen table Midorima had been carefully shielding from his view all along. And damn, it was a much bigger version than the miniature that hung on his keychain.

xxx

"Will you do the honors?" Midorima asked in a very professional tone of voice.

Takao snorted at that. 'Calling flipping a coin doing the honors – that's Shin-chan for you.'

"What's the point? You always win."

For some reason, Takao thought Midorima looked a bit anxious.

"Just do it."

"Fine, heads or tails?" Takao relented.

"Heads," came a confident response.

Takao promptly flipped the coin and covered it with his hand. He uncovered it even faster. No point in waiting. He didn't even spare it a glance.

"Let's go, Shin-chan, get into the rickshaw."

"Takao."

"Hmm?"

"You won."

"HUH?"

xxx

It was no lie, the coin on his hand really showed tails. He couldn't get over the shock. 'Impossible, I'm dreaming, no way in the universe,' were the only semi-coherent thoughts his mind seemed to be capable of forming at the moment.

But something wasn't right.

"Hey, why aren't you surprised?" he pointed at Midorima accusingly.

"Well, it is your birthday. And you have your lucky item with you for a change. Maybe the luck is on your side today, " Midorima reasoned.

"Maybe…" Takao was still at loss for words.

"Come on, Takao, get in. We don't have all day."

Takao looked at the shooter with wide eyes. He just now realized what this actually meant. He wasn't driving today. He was being driven to school – by freaking Midorima Shintarou, Shuutoku's ace and the best shooter of the generation for that matter. A sentence "life is good" came to mind.

So , when Takao finally did get into the rickshaw and when Midorima actually did start pedaling, Takao couldn't, for the life of him, stop the grin from appearing on his face. And staying there, for that matter, the entire way to school.

xxx

The day passed in usual fashion. Sure, there were congratulations, patting on back and an occasional hug, but they didn't make Takao feel any better than he had already felt.

What did make him happy though, was staring at Midorima nonstop since the minute they arrived at school. Something was off with the shooter these past few days and Takao was determined to get to the bottom of it.

How he managed to stay in high spirits even after the whole day had passed and he hadn't gotten any closer to unlocking the mystery that was Midorima was beyond everyone Takao knew, including Takao himself.

Soon the time came to go home, which also meant another round of coin flipping that Takao was destined to lose. Even if, by some miracle, Lady Luck decided to smile upon him this morning, he seriously doubted she would stay as generous throughout the day.

When the coin showed tails yet again (Midorima was sticking with heads) Takao thought he was ready to faint.

"Oh, for God's sake, Takao, don't dramatize. Luck's obviously on your side today, so make the most of it while you can," Midorima groaned.

'Make the most of it…'

Takao's mind was forming and multiplying ideas for making use of his miraculous luck for the day (strangely, many of those seemed to involve the bespectacled teen in one way or the other) when something caught his well-trained eye.

Midorima lifted the coin off his hand – and he was sure of it – he was now facing its other side – which was - tails. But the other side was also tails. 'HUH?'

"That coin – "he started.

Midorima froze, then promptly put the coin into his pocket and feigned ignorance: "It's just an ordinary coin Takao."

"Ah," Takao mumbled.

'Huh?'

And then it clicked.

xxx

Fact one: Midorima had called Kuroko the day before. Fact two: Kuroko was good at small magic tricks ( something that Takao knew, but didn't think of before) – hence all the talk about magic. Fact three: The coin had two same sides. Conclusion: He had been flipping a double-sided coin – of course he would win if Midorima wanted him to.

'Wait…Shin-chan wanted him to win?!'

It didn't take him too long to understand. In his very special, very tsundere, very Midorima way, he was giving Takao a birthday present. It was thoughtful and sweet and it was all Takao could ever ask for and more. But Takao was never the most humble person and so wanted even more.

Who was it that told him to make the most of it while it lasted, after all?

xxx

"Shiiin-chan," Takao drew out in a sing-song voice that was widely known to mean nothing but trouble for the person at the other end of the conversation.

"What is it, Takao?"

Takao smirked: "I propose a bet."

Midorima's face remained perfectly still as he waited for Takao to continue speaking.

"It's simple. We flip a coin – if it's your win, the previous flipping gets cancelled and I have to pedal home."

"And if you win?" the shooter asked cautiously.

Takao fidgeted: "youhavetokissme"

Midorima looked all but amused: "I didn't quite catch that," he sighed.

Takao blushed a very deep shade of red – 'No backing out now.'

He took a deep breath: "Kiss me."

Midorima stared at him intently.

"Fine."

Takao thought his heart might burst out of his chest.

"I'll do it," he stated.

'This is it. Just choose tails.' But – there is always a but – he couldn't. Midorima wasn't backing out of a bet – of course he wasn't – he was Midorima, after all. Although why he had agreed in the first place was beyond Takao – he supposed it was just a spur-of-the-moment thing. But what was done was done.
The thing is, as much as Takao wanted this – to just say 'tails', flip the damn coin and proceed to devour Midorima's mouth like there's no tomorrow ('cause, really, there kind of wouldn't be), Midorima didn't feel the same. It wouldn't be right. As much as he wanted this, it wasn't right. So, he didn't even think it before he said it, the stupid word leaving his lips on its own accord. He flipped the coin:

"Hea-"

"Wait, Takao!"

Takao looked at Midorima expectantly. He was visibly struggling to get the words out:

"You see, even if it is your birthday, I can't let you go first."

"Eh?"

"I said – even if – "

"No, no – I heard what you said. But why?" Takao questioned. To say he was confused would be an understatement.

" I win more often if I go first. I'm not willing to risk it," he stated bluntly.

"You always win," Takao mumbled, more to himself. "Fine, one more time."

'Ah, I could have at least gotten a ride back. Why do I always have to be so stupid?' Takao's mind was throwing him a pity-party.

He flipped the coin.

"Heads."

Takao's head shot up.

He was so happy he could cry. He opted to take his reward for winning the bet instead. Or let the said reward take him. Both were more than fine.


A/N - I found out it was Takao's birthday today (maybe it already passed, it's already 22th here, time zones confuse me...) and I just had to. I only had a few hours to write this, but I think it turned out pretty cute. I'm sorry for any mistakes - there shouldn't be many, but I only reread it once and it's 1 am here so - yeah.
Hope you like it.