Title: Lucky Item
Summary: There's something weird about today's lucky item.
Notes: General audiences; for superhappygenki at Tumblr, to the prompt "the lucky item is something Takao owns." 1826 words. Tooth-rotting fluff ahoy!
Takao is still sleepwalking his way through his morning routine—they can roist him out of bed at an unholy hour of the morning for school, but they can't make him wake up until he's damn well ready to be awake, say around ten a.m. or so—when his phone goes off. His brain still hasn't come fully online yet, so it takes him a minute to figure out why Frank Sinatra is telling luck to be a lady—oh, right, he'd thought that would be an appropriate ringtone for Shin-chan, only Shin-chan never calls him, so yeah, the joke's on him.
He manages to answer before it goes to voicemail. "Hey, Shin-chan." He has to clear his throat to get all the sleepy rasp out of it and still yawns halfway through saying, "What's up?"
Shin-chan takes a beat or two to answer, which figures. Guy's gotta do everything in his own sweet time, even when he's the one calling at the crack of dawn. When he finally does speak up, his voice sounds funny. Kind of weirdly tense, even for Shin-chan, who lends new meaning to the word uptight. "Do you still have that headband you like to wear?"
"Huh? That headband—oh, yeah. That." Takao scratches his stomach, yawns again, and realizes that Shin-chan is still waiting for an answer. "Yeah, sure. Why?"
"I need it," Shin-chan tells him. More slowly, sounding pained about it, he adds, "It's the lucky item for Cancers today."
Oh, the lucky item. All becomes clear. Takao grins and shakes his head, since it's not like Shin-chan can see him doubting the all-knowing Oha-Asa. "Gotcha. I'll bring it with me."
"Do that." And Shin-chan hangs up just like that.
The guy just has no social graces whatsoever, Takao muses, and goes upstairs to drop the headband into his bag.
He doesn't really start waking up until halfway through morning classes, which isn't anything unusual, so it's sometime during a lecture on the history of the nineteenth century that it occurs to Takao to wonder why Shin-chan borrowed the day's lucky item from him. Headbands are cheap, goodness knows. His sister goes through the things like they're tissues or something. Surely Shin-chan could have just bought one of his own if he didn't already have one in his stash of lucky items. That's what he normally does when Oha-Asa prescribes an item he doesn't already own.
It could just be that Shin-chan's running low on pocket money at the moment, or that he just didn't have the time to run the errand. Or because he knew that Takao did have a headband of his own and decided to take advantage of the built-in curbside delivery and chauffeur service. Shin-chan does like taking advantage of those amenities, though he'll never actually own up to liking it, as is his way.
Despite that rationalization, the question remains at the back of Takao's mind, niggling at him every now and then. Either he's overthinking it or there really is something more to Shin-chan's borrowing his headband than Takao has been able to suss out. He doesn't bother himself too much with trying to figure it out, though. Most things involving Shin-chan usually become clear with the application of enough time and maybe a few pointed questions.
Practice that afternoon goes pretty much as normal. The new team is starting to take shape. It won't be like last year's team, but it'll still be Shuutoku. From a certain point of view, that's the thing that really matters. The starting players may change, senpai may retire and graduate, but the team remains.
The only thing weird about practice is that Shin-chan, for lack of anything better to do with it, just sticks the headband on top of his head. It pushes the hair back from his face and gives him a whole different look, kind of severe maybe—more severe than usual—and Tomita-san looks at him kind of funny. They're all used to Shin-chan's ways, though, so no one actually says anything about it, not even the first-years. (Takao may have had a quiet word with them during the first week of the new school year, all about the deference due to one's elders; he likes to think that Miyaji-senpai would have approved.) So things go on pretty much like normal, except that Tomita-san catches him at the end of practice and uses the pretext of rounding up stray basketballs to ask him, "Hey, isn't that your headband Midorima is wearing?"
Takao pitches a basketball into the bin across the way. "Yeah, it's the lucky item."
Tomita-san is good—really good—so the sound he makes then sounds almost like a real cough and not a laugh at all. "Is it," he says, but that's all.
It's still enough to make it pretty clear that there's something hinky in Shin-chan's lucky item for the day. Takao ponders what that means as he settles into his extra practice groove. He ends up deciding that the only way he's going to figure this out is by finding out what, exactly, Oha-Asa's lucky item of the day was supposed to be, or by asking Shin-chan what the hell is going on.
Shin-chan's willingness to be communicative is inversely proportional to how personal the topic is, and when it comes to the lucky items, everything is personal. Takao leaves him alone and just looks up the day's lucky item at the end of the night while he's waiting for Shin-chan to finish getting changed so they can walk home together.
Today's lucky item is super special~! proclaims the webpage that his search nets him. Today your lucky item should be something you borrow from the person you like!
Takao spends several seconds blinking at his phone's screen, not entirely sure that he's reading that correctly and wondering whether he has stepped sideways into an alternate dimension—one governed by the same logic that governs the plotlines of the romantic dramas his mother likes, perhaps.
The person Shin-chan likes, huh?
He hasn't even begun to process that information when Shin-chan emerges from the gym. He's still wearing the headband and other than that, he doesn't really look or act any stranger than normal. Takao asks him about the literature homework and that gets him off and running, talking about the Hyakunin Isshu. He loses Takao completely about three sentences in, but that was kind of the point. Takao just needs a little bit of space to think things through, to wonder what, exactly, Oha-Asa means by the person you like and whether that's the meaning Shin-chan, by no means a paragon of interpersonal skills, took from it. What if Shin-chan assumes they mean the person you tolerate most easily? Or maybe just the person whom you allow to cart you around because it's easier than walking?
Okay, so maybe he's getting a touch paranoid there. It's probably not that.
It leaves him with the question of what, if anything, he ought to do about it. Should he just leave it alone and not say anything about it, since Shin-chan hasn't said anything himself? That might be easiest, because if all Shin-chan is thinking is Yes, of course I like Takao, he's a perfectly decent human being—what do you mean, in a romantic sense? Don't be ridiculous. It never even occurred to me, then that could get awkward really, really fast.
Takao's invested a lot in keeping things not-awkward between him and Shin-chan. There's two whole seasons of basketball tournaments still ahead of them, and he'd like to keep it not-awkward while they focus on conquering those.
So much for that. He's so tangled up in his own thoughts that he forgets to keep track of Shin-chan. By the time Shin-chan says, aggrieved, "You're not even listening to me," it's too late for damage control.
He tries anyway, laughing and rubbing the back of his neck. "Sorry, Shin-chan! Guess I was thinking about something!"
Shin-chan frowns, looking sideways at him, and instead of complaining about his wasted breath, he asks, "What about?"
It figures that he would choose the most inconvenient time possible to deploy the social skills that Takao has been attempting to teach him.
Takao scuffs along the sidewalk, trying to figure out what he should say. Deflect some more? Try and get to the bottom of things? Something else?
Damn. Why does it have to be so confusing?
"Takao—" Shin-chan actually sounds sort of worried, which is probably why Takao finds himself blurting, "I looked up the lucky item for today."
Crap. Takao kisses the thought of a not-awkward next couple of years goodbye.
"You looked up the lucky item?" Shin-chan's voice comes out weird and kind of strangled-sounding.
"Yeah, I—yeah. I looked it up." Takao can't quite bring himself to look at Shin-chan and stuffs his hands into his pockets instead. "Mostly because I didn't know why you wouldn't have just bought a headband of your own." He'll leave Tomita-san's meddling out of it for now; no need to muddy the waters any further.
"It had to be something of yours." Shin-chan still sounds pretty strangled. Maybe kind of pained.
Takao stares straight ahead and takes a deep breath. "Because I'm the person you like, or I'm the person you like?"
That is definitely a pained sound, the kind of noise Shin-chan usually only makes after Nakatani-kantoku has put them through an entire grueling day of training. "Do I really have to answer that?"
Takao always figured it was a kind of exaggerated metaphor when people talked about their hearts leaping, but that actually makes his own heart do a funny lurching thing against the inside of his ribcage, because—there's really only one reason Shin-chan would be so reluctant to answer, right? Right. "Guess not," he says, before taking a deep breath and gathering all his courage. "But, um. I guess—if I'd needed a lucky item today, you know. I'd've had to borrow it from you."
Shin-chan doesn't say anything to that, but he kind of stumbles a little, tripping over nothing at all. Takao stops and reaches out to steady him, and they come face to face. Shin-chan's eyes are wide behind the lenses of his glasses, more uncertain than Takao's ever seen them. "You would?"
Takao is pretty much helpless to keep himself from smiling at Shin-chan, wide enough that it makes his cheeks ache. "Yeah. I would."
"I suppose that's good to know," Shin-chan says after a moment, pushing his glasses up, but Takao knows that trick by now and knows what to look for. This time it's the way Shin-chan's eyes go a touch wider and then soften, wondering.
"Yeah," Takao agrees, grinning hard. "It really is."
Slowly, almost imperceptibly, Shin-chan begins to smile back at him.
It's a long time before they resume walking home, but that's okay. They've got a lot to talk about.
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