Like I mentioned in the summary, this is an alternate fic to 'I'll Be Waiting'.

Only the beginning part is the same, and the plot starts to branch out from there on.

PS Is it just me or are my MidoTaka oneshots getting longer and longer? O.o

Disclaimer: When Takao openly proclaims his love for Midorima in the anime.

Warning(s): Angst, boys love, character death, MidoTaka, slight OOCness…add more if you deem fit.


When Midorima heard those words fall from his partner's lips, he felt mixed emotions. It was so surprising, yet not surprising at the same time.

"Shin-chan…I like you."

Part of him wanted to deny it and pretend to misunderstand. That part won over his rational thought, and his reply was calm.

"So that's what you wanted to tell me? Isn't that what you say on a daily basis?"

Takao's face fell at that statement, as if resigning to acknowledge something he did not want to. But he just raked his hands through his hair and stared at Midorima in the eyes, full of some kind of mysterious resolve.

"No. I like you…like couples like each other. I like you and I want you to be my boyfriend. That's the kind of like I'm talking about!"

To have that information thrown directly in his face, it was rather shocking. The green-haired boy could only watch in silence as the hope in his teammate's eyes faded and he picked up his already packed bag to leave.

"You know what, let's just-"

"Takao."

He found himself saying.

"I know what you mean. I…just need some time."

Time for what, exactly? To think over this new information and decide whether or not to reject or accept his advances? Or maybe so they could slowly forget something like this ever happened between them, that things would go back to normal as long as none of them brought this up ever again?

Even as the clubroom door clicked shut, Takao's voice echoed in his ears.

"I really do mean what I said. You can reject me, or accept, but I need an answer…please."

It's been 2 whole weeks, and not a single word from the bespectacled boy.

It was hard, having to pretend that everything was normal in spite of the awkward conversation they had a few weeks back. Almost like ignoring an itch on your leg while doing a multiple-choice quiz. Midorima acted like he always did. Takao was just so jealous of the other's ability to put up such a strong and stable front.

Even in practice, his perfect shooting form never wavered, and neither did his equally perfect 3-pointers. It was painful how it seemed like he was the only one so distracted and concerned by the whole thing. Each time Takao passed the ball to Midorima, he would meet the shooting guard's eyes, and each time, he would keep searching.

Keep searching for any hint of disgust. Any hint of well…anything.

The senpai-tachi had already noticed, and it was already the fifth time in the last hour that Miyaji-san had tossed a basketball at his head to get his attention back in the game. Aside from that senior's complete disregard for his junior's safety, it was actually just his way of telling the both of them to hurry it up already. What Takao found completely unfair, was how Midorima escaped being target practice. Perhaps he used one of his whims. Damn the '3 whims a day' thing.

Midorima was unusually quiet for the day, responding in class only when needed. Usually, he would be the one bombarding three classes' worth of questions towards the teacher until the poor soul slumped down in defeat. Even as his partner played rock-paper-scissors ("That game's rigged I tell you!") with him, he never once looked up to meet those silvery-blue eyes. It was a very silent ride to the Midorima household.

"Takao."

It was murmured so silently, Takao would have missed it had he been distracted. He stopped, in the midst of mounting his bike.

"Hm?"

"I…I…its…well…"

The Shutoku number 6 had never looked as much a tomato as then, in the literal sense.

"…n-nevermind."

For some unfathomable reason, the sound of the door slamming shut seemed deafening. The raven could only attempt to calm his rapidly beating heart as he rode back home.


xXWatchingXx


Takao was jolted out of his manga reading trance by his phone's obnoxiously loud and annoying ringtone. He really should change it to something more recent. He raised an eyebrow at the caller, before picking up the call.

"Yo Shin-chan~ How may I serve you today~?"

His upbeat tone was answered by sounds of loud traffic and shouting in the background. The lack of the caller's voice make everything seem like silence.

"…Shin-chan? …Hey…hello…?"

Midorima is not the kind to make prank calls, and last Takao recalled, prank calls did not usually involve such unsettling silence or background noises. His heart rate only increases when he hears heavy breathing and the sound of someone adjusting the phone.

"…Takao."

He sounds weak. Tired. Weary.

"Shin-chan? What's going on there?! Why do you sound like this?!"

The raven can feel his palms break out in cold sweat when he hears a voice in the background calling for someone to get the fire brigade.

"…I…l-like…you, Takao…"

"…"

He wants to say something, ask for the reason for the sudden confession, tease his partner about sounding so shy…but nothing comes out of his mouth.

"and…I wish…I wish…"

Midorima's breathing is labored, and speech seems like a torture to him.

"…I could have kissed you…"

Takao hears the loud sound of something heavy detaching then falling, and the other's phone dropping to the ground. The dial tone follows straight after. His worry had elevated tenfold when the unsettling background noises had come on. It couldn't have been an accident…it couldn't have! There was no way Midorima's luck would fail him, it was impossible!

The raven ends the call and stays in his room all the way until dinner, when the evening news comes on.

"There was a major road accident earlier in the evening today at 1400 hours, XXX Street, between a public bus and a goods delivery truck. Two were killed and nine badly injured. Investigations are still ongoing and the police say…"

The rice suddenly tastes staler than it already seems, and Takao no longer has any appetite after seeing the flash of green on the screen where it looked like some kind of war had taken place. The boy excuses himself from the table and runs up to his room, burying his head into the cold pillow. One sob, then another. Soon he was wailing, his rabbit-print pillow muffling his cries.

Please…please…don't let Shin-chan be dead…!

Relief could not even describe his state of mind when Ootsubo patched a chain call to all the Shutoku regulars later that night, telling them that Midorima was alive, and that they were to visit him in hospital the next day. Kimura sighed, muttering about the tall junior being lucky. Miyaji cursed and scolded the green-haired boy (not that he could hear it) for actually getting run over by a truck for real.

Takao simply whispered a small "I'm glad.", before hanging up on his captain telling their small forward that it was a crash and would he stop it with the truck thing already.

It is not like they do not know Midorima's family situation. It is obvious when the shooting guard has the air of a noble about him most hours of the day, and has expectations of himself that even the smartest third year in the current cohort would raise an eyebrow at. A top surgeon for a father, and a top lawyer for a mother. The only son gives friends and enemies alike the impression that he is a free spirit that does what he wants, but those people do not know him.

Takao has seen Midorima's lips purse in annoyance and his emerald eyes flicker with disappointment at himself when his test results are any worse than first in class. He also sees the disgust crossing Midorima kaa-san's eyes when she takes in the sight of the orange-clad and sweat-covered youths entering the ward. She hides it well, her complete disapproval of the people her son associates with, when she thanks them for coming to visit and updates them a little about his condition. Midorima tou-san has a frown etched into his slightly aged face, and he wordlessly nods when he sees them.

The shooting guard never talked much about his parents, and the other four members of the team finally understand as they watch the couple state that they have business to get back to, leaving without once looking back.

Midorima's face is relaxed in his sleep. His glasses are off and he actually looks his age.

He got hit in the back of the head with a heavy piece of metal while trying to get out of the wreckage. He suffered a broken leg and some other minor injuries, but the blow to his head is the worst, and he is now in a coma.

There was only the sound of clothes rustling filling the air, as well as the slow beep of the heart monitor. No one spoke.

No one knows for sure…if he will ever wake up…

Takao slides his palm over his face, and this time he fails to control the waterworks. Miyaji holds him close, and Kimura awkwardly places the tissue box within the raven's reach. They are all similarly affected by the current predicament of their shooting guard.

But it is probably the only other first-year starter that is feeling it deep.

"Why do you study so hard, Shin-chan? It's like you're aiming to be number one in the cohort or something!"

"Yes I am."

The shorter boy looks at the taller one in complete shock.

"You crazy?!"

"I am merely doing all I can to succeed."

Takao looked at the notebooks full of Midorima's neat script, at his scribbled extras in the textbooks, and then at the numerous borrowed books from the library. All he could do was nod dumbly and return to his own revision.

Hardworking, hardworking Midorima. It seemed like he fed on revision with the way he did it even outside exam weeks.

Takao may not have seen his partner's fight to stand on the basketball and academic pedestals, but he had seen his fight to keep those places. Perhaps that is why he fell in love, knowing a side of Shutoku's number 6 that most others did not.

"Takao. About your…confession the other day."

The point guard's ball rebounded, falling ungracefully and bouncing out of the court.

"Um…yeah. What about it?"

Real smooth, Kazunari. Real smooth.

"I…I promise…"

Midorima's shot goes in.

"…that I will give you an answer by the end of the week."

He said that on Wednesday, came close to it on Friday, and finally gained the courage to do it on Saturday. At what price then? Takao was no idiot. It was obvious from the way Midorima's bus was going that he had intended to go to his house. Maybe that was his original intention, to deliver his promise like a man would.

"Do you think a perfect team play is possible for the two of us?"

"…I suppose."

"But how are we gonna achieve something like that?"

"I'll just watch you."

Midorima may not have meant anything special by that statement, but that did not stop the blood from rising up to Takao's cheeks and making the greenhead ask him if he was feverish…again.

The senpai-tachi had already left, and the raven is the only one left. There is a crumpled bag at the bedside table, and curiosity takes over his hands as he gently opens it and pulls out its contents.

…Cancers! You have the best luck for today and to keep it that way, remember to keep a basketball keychain with you at all times~!...

A basketball keychain. Of course.

It is when Takao pulls out the next item that his eyes widen and he nearly drops the bag.

…and for Scorpio! You rank seventh for today! Hm…it may be a worse than average day for you but no matter, your day will still go smoothly if you keep a green wristband with you~!...

A wristband. It is green.

Takao knows only one place that sells the brand of sports equipment printed on the lower half of the cloth. It is all the way on the other side of the city. Did Midorima get on that fateful bus ride simply because he had spent the morning obtaining something easily found within their area? Well, to be honest that particular brand does have the nicest green on their equipment.

Darn. To think the greenhead's fussiness would come back to bite him in the butt at such a time.

"Shin-chan you baka."

He pulls up his orange sleeve to reveal an identical wristband sitting on his left wrist.

"But…"

The newer wristband fits snugly on his right wrist.

"…thanks anyway."

Takao fights an internal battle before he leans down to plant a kiss on the other's pale cheek, leaving the ward with a reluctant weight in his steps.


xXWatchingXx


It was stupid, really. How could one fall even more in love with someone who was not even awake?

Visiting his Shin-chan was already an everyday routine for one Takao Kazunari. He changed the flowers, winked at the nurses, and tried to act normal. Each time the doctor would tell him there was no change in his partner's condition, and each time, he refused to let his hope falter for even a moment.

It has been a month since then. The probability of Midorima waking up dipped by the day.

"Shin-chan…practice went well today. Miyaji-san knocked me in the head twice for not passing properly, and Ootsubo-san made me run twice the number of laps to make up for it. The usual I guess."

It is lonely in the upper class ward that the Midorima family can afford, but it is probably necessary. The shooting guard does not like noise and the general presence of people close by.

"Yeah. The senpai-tachi have to study for the upcoming exams, so they told me to send their regards."

There was a time Takao wondered about how Midorima would look in his sleep. He never got a chance to see it since he always fell asleep earlier than the other boy during the training camp. Now that he had a view of it every day, it was starting to get boring. How the raven just longed to see that emerald glare again.

There is also a possibility of memory loss. There is no telling what he might forget or remember.

To be forgotten by Shin-chan. His heart clenched painfully at the mere thought of it.

The rest of the Generation of Miracles had come round to visit some time back, and just from their looks alone, it was obvious the bonds that held them together still existed. All-knowing Kuroko had patted him on the back just before he left, telling him to take it easy. Akashi's mismatched eyes had unnerved him, as they looked him right in the eyes on the redhead's way out.

"Be strong."

The redheaded captain never visited again.

"Takao! Watch out!"

The speeding car zoomed by as Midorima fell on his partner while trying to push him out of the way. The raven blushed at their close proximity.

"Idiot…suicide by daydreaming is an unrefined way to die."

He may have been scowling, but behind those clear lenses were orbs filled with worry and true relief. Takao heard the hidden question within those cutting words.

"Thank you…I'm fine…"

Takao had to be helped up after that, and it was only by sheer will that his flaming cheeks came under control.

Stupid, stupid tsundere. Always trying to deny helping other people, always trying to deny worrying for them. There was no shame in being kind, no shame in being concerned for someone you care about. Maybe it was Midorima's way of trying to protect himself from the harsh world, a world who would take advantage of his pure kindness and his gentle and fragile heart.

Lonely.

Afraid.

Caged.

Despite the expectations of his parents, the expectations of school, the expectations of his basketball team, the expectations of life and his own expectations of himself, he still stood strong. Why could no one see Midorima Shintarou for him, and not that rude and arrogant shooter of the Generation of Miracles? And why, just why…

…did Takao have to fall for such a person?

Shutoku's basketball team had to find a temporary shooting guard to take the bespectacled boy's place until he woke up and was back in shape to get back onto the courts. It felt so out of place having to work with a shooter that was barely half as good as Shin-chan, but that 3rd year was the best the team had to offer. Takao did not mean to look down on his senpai, he really was good at teamwork and shooting from both the inside and the outside, but it was just not the same.

The five-member team was breaking apart slowly. They were still holding on, but such strength would not last.

Three months had passed. Not a single flicker of an eyelid.

"Shin-chan…you're so selfish. Sleeping here while everyone is out there fighting to keep our crown."

The number 10 traced the long, slim digits of his unconscious teammate, feeling his heart hurt a little more at how unresponsive they were. The doctors were already giving up hope. Midorima's brain activity was so subdued, it was as if all he was doing was to sleep his time away.

"Then again…I'm selfish too. Because I am here today only to tell you something."

The soft rise and fall of that wide chest was so deceiving. If only he was simply asleep and not possibly condemned to be a vegetable for the rest of his life.

"Stop it already. Stop giving us hope if there isn't any. Stop ignoring me and the senpai-tachi. Stop distancing yourself from us and…and…"

He breathes in.

"…STOP MAKING ME FALL DEEPER AND DEEPER IN LOVE WITH YOU!"

Takao's distressed yell bounces off the whitewashed walls, and he is thankful none of the nurses come rushing in to find out if something is wrong. The walls are probably soundproof, and he is grateful for that. It just really hurts how someone so important to him lays there unmoving, as good as dead. Even so, all the raven can do is grip Midorima's hand tight and hope something might happen.

"…so decide already. I know you're suffering too…"

The patient's hair has grown longer, but it is just as soft as before. Takao has tried ruffling the taller boy's hair once, and it was surprising how soft it was despite its carefully styled appearance. He threaded his fingers through those green locks, marveling at its condition.

"...wake up. Please wake up. Or if that is no longer possible…"

Such a sin it was, falling in love with someone of the same gender.

"…then go. Leave. It will be easier for all of us."

The point guard can feel the cold fingers curl a little around his own, but after months of expectation and a brutal practice session, it must be his imagination. He sounds so evil, so ungrateful and so…wrong. But what else could he say? What else could he do to ease everyone's suffering? Takao takes the larger hand into his own and gently pecks each individual knuckle.

He hesitates for a bit, then leans down to capture Midorima's lips. Capture them in the longest, most sincere, most loving kiss he has ever had. It takes a few seconds before he pulls back, but the feeling of it has long been embedded in his memories.

"…I wish…I could have kissed you…"

"I love you, Midorima Shintarou. I honestly don't want to say goodbye."

Funny. Why was everything starting to blur? And why were his eyes so wet?

The heart monitor slows down, the pattern resembling gentle waves instead of mountains and hills. Takao takes in the sight of those beautiful long eyelashes, the high bridge of the other's nose, the evenness of his partner's fair skin tone, and just how relaxed he looks. It is hard when the raven starts gasping for air and hiccuping because all the sadness and longing he had accumulated for the past months just come rushing out in one emotional wave.

By the time the line stops jumping and Midorima's chest no longer moves, Takao is breathing normally again.

"…goodbye, Shin-chan."

He presses the call button for a nurse and then leaves. There is no longer a reason for him to stay.


xXWatchingXx


It has been ten years. Ten long years since Midorima had left.

It was his dream to become a doctor one day, just so he could help people. Takao knew it was stupid to try and become the doctor Shin-chan would have become, but he tried anyway. There were so many others vying for a chance to study medicine, and each one of them were better than he. It was a journey through hell and back just to enter the coveted course.

Then, it was being sold into slavery for the next six years until he got his license.

The raven did not graduate at the top of his class, nor did he graduate with first-class honours, but he did do decently. He is good enough to be accepted into the hospital of his choice, the one where Midorima had slept his time away until the very end. The kids all love him, and he never makes a round in the wards without needing the nurses' help to pull the persistent ones off his back. It is as if he has some sort of charm that makes any child like him at first glance. The innocence and determination Takao sees in their eyes just spurs him on to do his job the best he can.

Thus it perks his interest one day when a quiet kid comes under his charge one day, his hair the softest shade of silver and his eyes a curious forest green. This boy has this…sad look in his eyes, like he has forsaken all the hope in the world. His folder states that he has Stage 2 leukemia. But that is not a reason for the hauntingly empty look in the little one's orbs.

Name: Fukumoto Shinya

Age: 10

"Hm…I guess I'll call you Shinya-kun then^^ Hello Shinya-kun, my name is Takao Kazunari and you can all me Takao-sensei!"

A pin drops as the man freezes in his ridiculous pose for a few seconds before realizing he was not going to get the expected reaction.

"Weird."

And so the child speaks. His voice is neither high-pitched nor deep, but somewhere in the middle range. His mouth is also quirked up into a tiny smile, and that shows Takao that his attempt was successful…somewhat.

Shinya does not have that empty look without a reason. The only son of an influential family, he failed their expectations and they had abandoned him, for lack of a better word to use. It was only because he was already affiliated with friends from a welfare foundation that he could even be admitted into hospital. At such a young age, the poor boy had already experienced what it was like to have nothing to live for left in the world. Takao had to spend a week trying to convince him that it would be worth living on, that it was cowardly to choose a quick death.

It was almost comical how Shinya immediately perked up the moment he heard the word 'coward' and refused to back down from Takao's sly challenge of going through treatment. A large portion of the cost came from the raven's own pocket, but he did not need to know that.

Months went by. The silveret's eyes filled up with more hope with each cycle of treatment

The bone marrow transplant was a success, and a thorough check had confirmed that Shinya had now fully recovered from his fight against the blood disease. Interestingly enough, he had not lost any of his hair despite the harsh foreign substances entering his body. Takao sighed as he sat down beside the boy's bed, waiting for him to wake up, and ultimately say goodbye to a patient he had come to care for more than he should.

It brings back memories from a decade ago, how he is helpless to the situation as he simply sits there and waits. The pediatrician smiles as Shinya opens his eyes and tries to sit up, only managing to with his help.

"Neh, Shinya-kun…how are you feeling?"

The silver-haired boy says nothing as he opens his mouth to speak only to start coughing and Takao quickly gets a glass of water and offers it to him. The boy accepts and drinks, but remains silent even after he is done, not even looking at the puzzled doctor.

"Is something wrong?"

The patient brings up two fingers to brush against his lips, as if immersed in deep thought. It is seriously starting to scare the raven, how out-of-character his charge is acting and how it could possibly be the result of the complicated operation that he had no part to play in. Takao stands up to get a wet towel.

"…Takao…"

The silveret has never once called him by that name without the '-sensei' attached to the back of it. That is why, the raven stops in his tracks and turns back around.

"…you fulfilled my…wish…"

The boy brings his fingers from his lips and instead stares at the knuckles of his left hand.

"…nanodayo."

Takao freezes and stares at the child. His legs move by themselves and before he knows it he's sitting on the empty part of the bed. There is trembling, and the doctor realizes it is his sweaty palms that are doing it. He clenches them and swallows the lump in his throat.

"...Shintarou…Shin-chan?"

At this point the young patient finally looks up with his emerald green eyes…

…and smiles.


"I'll just watch you."


You may now throw basketballs at me for putting my OTP through another round of dramatic angst.

Posted: 05/02/2013 (dd/mm/yyyy)