A.N. This was kind of a rush project inspired partially by a short comic I read a long time ago. No idea why I suddenly started thinking about it again, slipped in my OTP, and bam, it turned into this. Do enjoy~ Reviews welcome.

Takao was restless, anyone sitting around him in the classroom would have noticed. Be it his eyes constantly shifting between staring at the classroom clock and the back exit, or his feet tapping incessantly under his desk. He couldn't wait to get out of the classroom, and fellow students made a subtle note to avoid the entire stretch of space between his desk and the door.

The teacher too seemed to notice, but dismissed it and turned back to the blackboard with a disapproving click of his tongue. The boy's bag was packed and everything, it wasn't even the last period of the day yet.

When the bell on the final class finally rang crisp through the corridors, Takao was out the back door in a blur of black as fast as his basketballer legs would carry him. He strictly kept his feet at a brisk walking pace; getting caught running in the hallways would've wasted even more time after all. Shoes were changed in record time and he slammed his shoe locker shut, ignoring the large note pasted on the locker door from Miyaji senpai, promising him hell if he dared be late for practice.

Whatever, he huffed, sprinting out the school gates just as the guard pushed it open. Anything Miyaji could've dished out would not have stopped the raven-haired boy from attaining his current goal. He ran, past red lights, jumping fences and through back yards, only one thing in his mind: the manga store he worked at during his holidays. The familiar route he'd always used when he was late for work did seem to come in very handy at times like this.

The boy finally came to a screeching stop right outside the store, barely breaking a sweat as he pushed the door open and headed straight into the shounen section.

"Here here here, it's gotta be somewhere here..." He wasn't looking for titles, for dates or issues even. He'd been staring at the magazine cover for long enough to recognize it by the cover image. It was, however, alarmingly missing. Panic grew as he started branching over into the seinen section, shoujo even, and then the Taiwanese manhwa section. After a trip around the entire store, he eventually circled back to the shounen magazines and started flipping through entire piles of other magazines and in forgotten corners.

"NO WAY IT'S GONE?! ALREADY!?" He shrieked after all the nooks and crannies had been searched to no avail. Immediately, just as people were startled into looking up from their browsing, they heard another loud "Ow!" as the shop owner pummeled Takao over the head with a yellow pages.

Rubbing his head, the boy looked up at the store owner, tears leaking from his eyes as he massaged his sore. "Ow ow ow oww... Masaoka san, you don't need to hit me THAT hard, you didn't even flinch when that guy was reading manga dialogue out loud last time!" He wailed, though this time a bit more careful to keep his volume under check.

The store owner straightened his back with a click of his tongue, turning back to the front counter. "He doesn't work here." Done with nursing his head, Takao too sprang up from his crouch and looked tentatively towards the section he'd been searching.

"Say Masaoka-san, did the latest volume of Shounen-JXMP come in yet? The one with the limited edition trading card insert?"

Part of him was hoping that it hadn't yet, working part-time here however taught him that it was unlikely. It was a popular magazine, and the store was usually quite fast with their shippings...

"Yeah it's in, but it's sold out."


Customers started to giggle at the commotion, but just then the door swung open, and people started shifting their attention to the person who'd just come walking in through the door.

"Ahh, welcome." Masaoka brimmed cheerfully and headed over to the front counter, just as Takao picked himself back up again from his second blow to the head. The moment he turned to see what all the fuss at the front of the shop was however, he had to physically slap his hands over his mouth.

Takao just stopped himself from having another outburst when he realized who that tall, bespectacled figure with emerald green hair had to be.

He stayed hidden behind a shelf as Midorima exchanged a few words with the owner, who didn't seem the least bit surprised that someone who looked this uptight would enter a manga store. What was that, they were talking about something, a reservation? Midorima never seemed to be the kind to want a manga enough to make specially a reservation of it...

"Right, the one you ordered, it's right here."

For the fourth time within those five minutes, Takao was about to do a violent double-take when he saw the cover image of what Midorima had reserved... It was the one he'd been staring at for days on end.

"WAI-WAIT JUST A MINUTE!" He blurted out, stifling his voice the moment Masaoka turned to him with a murderous glare, reaching for the yellow pages lying at a side for emphasis. Midorima looked up, seemingly surprised to see his classmate in the store.

"Takao, what are you doing here?" The tall shooting guard immediately demanded, brows raised incredulously as Takao hobbled closer, carefully making a wide berth around the store owner and approaching the front counter.

"That's what I wanna ask you Shin chan!" He yelped, staring longingly at the volume. Midorima seemed to notice this, holding it slightly further from Takao as the smaller boy whined. Soon though the exasperated teen turned to his boss. "Oi, Masaoka-san, that's not fair, why didn't you let me reserve?"

"Cause you still owe me money brat." He replied from behind the counter, taking out a piece of paper with Takao's messy signature on the bottom. The smaller teen scowled, staring at his classmate while Midorima dug into his pocket for his wallet.

"But but but, THAT'S JUST 1500 yen! Our holidays start the day after tomorrow, I'm gonna be working here, gimme a break!" Takao whimpered, turning next to his classmate. "Na, Shin chan, you're probably just gonna use it as a lucky item or something right? Can I have it after? I'll buy it from you?"

Midorima gave a snort, flicking through his wallet for the right amount. "Absolutely not. The condition of my lucky items is key to their potency."

"Whaaat, I'll take really good care of it! Besides, it's the magazine you want right? Can I have the insert then? Please please please?" He begged, eyeing the trading card image on the magazine cover again with intense envy.

"Sadly for you, my lucky item for tomorrow is that trading card. So, no again." Takao released a long, strangled groan, growling to himself as the owner calmly took the payment from Midorima and handed him the magazine.

There was a final wince of hope that drowned in his throat when Midorima calmly slotted the magazine into his school bag.

"Masaoka-san, I kinda really hate you now..."

"Hah? What was that? Don't want a job during the hols do you?"

"Nothing sir."

Grumbling the entire way, Takao walked out of the store, Midorima by his side as they both turned towards the direction of their school. They still needed to go back for basketball practice after all, at that moment Takao suddenly remembered the note Miyaji stuck to his shoe locker door.

"Oi Shin chan, we better hurry or Miya chan's gonna give us hell."

"You go ahead. I have my selfish requests."

"... Oh, right. Tch, lucky guy you are." He sighed, starting up a running pace back to Shuutoku highschool. "Seeya back in the gym!" He shouted back after a bit, the usual grin on his face.

Midorima was thankful Takao had already gone aways ahead, but it was rather hard to hide the shade of red on his face from random passers by.

That night at home, Takao sat in the bathtub releasing sigh after sigh into the stuffy steam-filled air around him. He'd been sighing enough the entire afternoon for his sister to ask if he'd been dumped, which of course the raven-haired boy vehemently denied. Some dramatic part of him did feel like that though, the empty feeling of missing out on something incredible just because some jerk wanted it for stupid reasons. Well, sure he didn't really duel with those cards anymore, but wouldn't the card have been so much happier with a bunch of friends?

Realizing he was beginning to lose it, Takao heaved another sigh and snapped that trail of thought. Teeth clenched he sank further into the hot water, eyes narrowing as he started counting all the things he'd done for Midorima, that prissy, arrogant Prima Donna. He hadn't even been asking to have it right away, knowing how much Midorima needed, or claimed he needed his lucky items.

Even so, with all the favors he'd given, this one little request was promptly denied by their team ace.

He hammered a fist against the water, getting out immediately after and toweling himself down.

The next day was the last day of school in the entire semester, and most of the students were excited, making plans for the holidays, groaning over holiday homework and barely able to stay put in class. Basically behaving much like Takao had been the entire afternoon on the previous day. However, that morning made everyone in the class wonder if Takao was feeling ill. He was chewing on the end of his pen, stagnating in his seat and flipping blindly through textbooks during class, sighing and mumbling things like "He won't even use it" or "It'd be so much better off with me" under his breath.

Midorima too seemed a touch off that day, taking special care of whatever he did, double checking his surroundings every time he made a move to go someplace, staying put in his seat whenever he could help it, and taking photos of the teachers' notes as well as taking them down on paper. Though, amidst all his caution, classmates did notice that he seemed to be throwing glances in his teammate's direction ever so often.

The class dismissed it as something bad that had happened during basketball practice the previous day.

The last period of the semester finally came, the homeroom teacher having visible difficulties trying to maintain control over the rowdy class who seemed well ready for holidays already.

"Alright, class, CLASS, be quiet, GET BACK TO YOUR SEATS. I want everyone to remember to clear their desks out before going home, your shoe lockers have to be cleared out too. Everyone who's participating in sports club activities must have cleared their lockers too in the gym. No complaints!" With that, the teacher gathered his things to leave the classroom. "I'll be right back before this period ends, so don't even think of sneaking out early!"

Takao whined. He knew he was going to be one of those people who needed to clear out a lot of things by the holidays, being both a rather messy person by nature and involved in a sports club to boot. Thankfully he'd cleared out his gym locker the day before after practice, and only needed to empty the contents of his desk. He leaned down to pull things out as the rest of the class did, and to his surprise, he pulled out an unfamiliar looking envelope.

"... The hell is this." He wondered, looking around the class as classmates heaved out piles of books, random papers, bits of paper, stationery etc from their desks. He flipped it over, over again, peering at it against the light. No sender, no note, nothing.

Shrugging he tore it open, and choked on his next breath the moment he saw what was lying innocently inside the envelope.

Slotted carefully into a card holder, was the limited edition trading card he'd been brooding over the whole day, in impeccable mint-condition. Hand slapped over his mouth fast enough to sting, he immediately turned, wide-eyed, towards Midorima; the taller boy was focusing intently on arranging his books according to size into a stack on his desk.

Though, the shooting guard had a rather impressive blush on his face. Something about that had Takao suspecting Midorima was just faking his neurosis.

Chuckling to himself with an inexplicable warm feeling in his chest, Takao removed the card, holder and all, from the envelope, waving it at Midorima to get the emerald-haired boy's attention. "Oi, Shin chan, thanks for this!"

The effect was immediate. Midorima snapped his focus onto his teammate, immediately scrambling up from his seat, blush intensifying and stuttering. "B-Baka! Takao, don't wave it around like that!"


The teacher had already left, it wasn't like there was anyone to confiscate the card. The hell was with that reaction? Several girls sitting near to Takao started giggling, some were even pointing and whispering among themselves.

Confused, Takao brought the card back down to eye level, inspecting it closely... Nothing wrong with it, he didn't draw a funny face or anything on the transparent front cover, so what the hell was all that?

Still wondering to himself, he flipped the card over.

Written on the back cover was a line of neat handwriting that couldn't have been from anyone else but Shin chan.

I like you.




"... … … Damn."