I do not own Kuroko no Basuke

Before you read:

An omiai is an arranged meeting between two people, often with marriage in mind. A better description is here: en. wikipedia wiki/ Miai

Haori, Hakama, and Montsuki are (in layman's terms) the coat, pants, and shoes in traditional japanese (male) garb. More information here: www. jnto. go .jp / eng/ indepth /cultural/ experience/ q. html

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On the 23rd of October, 5 days after the halfway mark on Shuutoku's glory-laden road to their second Winter Cup, Midorima Shintarou missed basketball practice. The team's captain would have been far less concerned about this had the coach not accidentally revealed that the ace had not used up one of his selfish requests to do so.

"Don't worry about it, Takao– he had a family obligation, or something like that. Figured I should let it slide when he said I could call and talk to his mother if I wanted."

Practice had not gone well after that. Takao was far too busy worrying about Shin-chan's mysterious "family obligation" to focus on mundane things like passing, shooting, or catching basketballs thrown at his face. It was fortunate that today's practice was their light schedule, and that Nakatani-sensei had to leave early to meet with several failing students. Otherwise it would have been a dark day not only for the captain, but for the team.

As soon as practiced ended, he was racing through the gym doors. Screw the rickshaw, he could pick it up later – Shin-chan had answered exactly none of the text messages he had sent discreetly during breaks, and that was a problem. True to tsundere form, he always replied promptly, even when it was a simple go die. To receive nothing now made Takao's heart fold inwards, and the lid he kept wedged over unwanted thoughts came loose. What if something happened to him? What if he's hurt, or in pain, or hates me? What will I do if I lose him? Why am I so goddamn afraid?

Takao arrived at his partner's house in record time. It wasn't until he stood at the front door with his fist raised that he realized the potential impropriety of his being her, however. The Midorima family was an old, monied, traditional one, albeit a kind one. What would they think when they saw him standing there, sweaty and out of breath? Takao took several deep breaths to slow his heart rate. He had to be calm, otherwise the Midorimas would think him even stranger than they did now, and how could he help Shin-chan then? Maybe he should send one more text, just in case. He was in the middle of typing when the door suddenly flew open.

Shin-chan, I'm at your-

"Oh, it is you. Big brother told me you would come. Would you come inside? I think he wants to see you."

Takao closed his jaw with an audible click. Shin-chan's unflappable little sister stood in the doorway, hands folded demurely in front of her. Takao shoved his cell phone back into his pocket without sending the message. "Thank you. What's going on, do you know? I was- the team was worried."

She looked back at him with equanimity, her expression something he could not read. She waited until he had toed off his shoes before responding. "I believe he would rather speak to you himself. Now, if you will excuse me, I have to play the piano quite loudly so that Mother and Father do not believe their lessons are going to waste. Please do not upset my big brother, Takao-san."

"Of- of course not. Thanks."

She spun on her heel and walked off, leaving Takao to shake off his confusion – and just why would he ever upset Shin-chan?- before running up the stairs, not even bothering to knock before thrusting Shin-chan's door open.

"Shin-chan! What's wrong-" Oh. Wow. That is a nice haori. And is that...a family crest?

Midorima adjusted his glasses, his signature aggrieved expression firmly in place. "Takao, it is customary to knock before flying into one's room, nodayo. Unless my house is on fire and I was not aware?"

He stood in the middle of his room, dressed in traditional clothes. Takao racked his brain thinking of any reason Shin-chan would be dressed like that – and damn, he even looks good in hakama how does he even do that?- and came up with nothing. Fortunately, he had plenty of practice in putting his mouth on auto-pilot. "So...is it shichi-go-san, then?" He regretted his flippancy at Shin-chan's wince. "Ahh, I'm sorry. I just- oh, is it a funeral? Shin-chan, I'm so sorry. I didn't know, and I was just kinda' worried 'cuz even Coach didn't know where you were-"

Midorima's frown leveled, and he shuffled his feet awkwardly. "Takao, stop. There is no need for such concern, nodayo. It's only an omiai. No one has died." He mumbled under his breath something that sounded suspiciously like although the night is young. "I...apologize for worrying you. I should have answered your texts, nanodayo."

Takao's mind went blank. All active neurons in his brain shut down, leaving him replaying Shin-chan's words on repeat and unable to process them. "Omiai? Isn't your sister a little young for that?"

Midorima sighed, not yet noticing that his friend had gone into shock. "It's my omiai, Takao. Or did you think I enjoyed skipping practice simply to wear traditional garb?" Seeing the blank expression on his friend's face, Midorima continued. "Neither of those statements are correct, Takao. Especially wearing these clothes. Look at the hakama, I am far too tall for-" Midorima finally realized that Takao was past comprehension, and judging by the look on his face, it wasn't pleasant. "Takao? What is wrong?"

His fingertips had gone numb. He could tell this now that feeling was creeping back into them. Yet the concern on Shin-chan's face was enough to spark his mind back into functioning. "Shin-chan. I don't understand. Why are you having an omiai?"

Midorima shuffled closer, as carefully as if he were approaching a wild animal. "My parents think it is a good idea for me to begin connecting with girls early, especially as I have not...shown interest in anyone at school. I think it's ridiculous, but-"

"Shin-chan. Why are you-" Takao choked, finally having caught up with the situation. Now that his brain was working again it was immediately apparent to him that he needed to feign nonchalance, yet he was too overpowered by his emotions to do so. It felt as if his world was crashing down, and that all the rules he had previously lived by had suddenly reversed. Shin-chan was not supposed to skip practice, look this handsome, or get married (or even date, honestly). Yet here was impossible directly in front of his eyes, and Takao could not handle it. Worst of all was his own confusion. Why the hell did he care? He was Shin-chan's friend, not his father! And of course Midorima was handsome, but why did the realization now cause his heart to turn over in his chest? What the fuck was wrong with him?

Midorima kicked off his montsuki and came to his friend, eyes wide behind his glasses. "Takao, speak to me. You are upset with me? Because of the omiai?"

Panic. Takao's thoughts whirled behind his eyes. Yet a productive strain rose to the fore of his mind: if Shin-chan found out what he was thinking, he would be disgusted. If he were somehow able to pierce through the confusion and confirm Takao's fears, all would be over. Therefore, there was only one thing to do. Say something witty and then get the hell out of here.

"Ha. Upset? More like jealous! Shin-chan is getting set up with a hot babe, and I'll be stuck with the rest of the bozos on the team. Maybe she'll be older, too. Don't frown, Shin-chan I know it's your type! But I should get going then. Don't wanna' make you late for your date!" Takao grinned his signature 100 kilowatt smile, even going so far as to pat his friend on the shoulder. That almost proved to be too much, as his fingers momentarily curved around the muscle and then very nearly did not let go.

Even my fingertips don't want him to go.

"Takao, I-"

The smile was beginning to wear at the edges, and if he stayed any longer it would fail him completely. "Nuh uh, Shin-chan! Have a great omiai, yeah? Remember to smile a little, and wait 10 minutes before bringing up your horoscopes. Good luck!"

He spun around and was out the door before Midorima could call out to him again. If he saw Shin-chan raise his hand to him as he turned, it was shoved away into the recesses of his mind. He fled down the stairs, grabbed his shoes rather than put them on, and waved his goodbye to Shin-chan's confused mother. He heard Shin-chan's door slam on the floor above and shot out of the house, running down the street as if the house was on fire.

It was only when he had run down three streets and a boulevard that he stopped. There was no sign of being chased, and even as he suffered through this maelstrom of unexpected emotion he couldn't help but feel a little ridiculous. He felt even more so when he realized he had run through the heels of both his socks, and his left foot was bleeding. Great. Now he was heartbroken and injured. His shoes tumbled from his fingers, and he sat down next to them, determined to pick the gravel out of his foot. It was only then that he realized the reason the world was blurry and his eyes stung – he was crying.

Takao wept in the middle of the sidewalk, too stunned with the enormity of his realization to move to a private place. He was in love with Midorima fucking Shintarou. He had somehow managed to fall for his partner; the awkward, socially inept, tsundere shooting guard who had realigned his entire world – although when he thought of it that way, perhaps it made more sense. After all, defeating any of the Teikou miracles had been his middle school crusade, and when faced with Midorima's companionship, the goal had only become loftier. I'll throw you a roaring pass, he had said. Thrown him his heart, more like it.

God, and now that he knew he could think of at least 50 other instances when he should have known, or at least guessed. Like last week when he had dozed with his head on Shin-chan's stomach during their video game marathon - he'd never felt so happy and comfortable and close with anyone else before, not even his occasional girlfriends. Or the time when he'd made up a silly song about Shin-chan's shoulders, ostensibly to bother him but truthfully because he couldn't stop staring at them – who else in the entirety of Japan had shoulders that modeled perfection? Or perhaps he should have been tipped off by the way he unconsciously catalogued every one of Shin-chan's likes and dislikes, or the way just looking at a can of shiruko could make him smile.

Most likely he should have known from the very beginning – Shin-chan's shot had haunted him back in middle school, and had pushed him into working harder and achieving more than he'd ever dreamed. It had indirectly opened up a whole world of possibilities, changing his future plans-

-but what future was there in this? Being bisexual was fine, Takao had no problem with that. He'd even kind of fantasized about Miyaji-senpai last year, although never enough to impede their game. But with Shin-chan as his partner? Even if the heavens aligned and Shin-chan came to love him back, his family wouldn't stand for it. Especially if they were sending their only son to an omiai...

The thought of Midorima inevitably finding love with someone else was like a knife to the chest. Yet he couldn't stop seeing it: Shin-chan with an elegant young lady, undoubtedly of high breeding and beautiful to boot. She wouldn't mind his idiosyncrasies, and would certainly find him as attractive as he did. Eventually, they would kiss. Then they would do more. Takao choked on his tears, cutting through the image of Shin-chan touching some faceless girl. He had never dreamed of falling in love just to have his heart broken, but there was no turning back now – Shin-chan was in his blood, and he had no idea how to get him out. What the hell was he supposed to do?

When the sky had pinked and signaled the inevitable night, Takao knew he had to move on. Not emotionally – he had no idea how long that was going to take – but he had to stop crying, stand up, and go home. The only thing worse than being in love with Shin-chan was sitting on the sidewalk for the rest of his life, picking at the scab of his bloody foot. So he stood, heaving a sigh and pulling on his shoes.

It was going to be a long walk home.

For the first time in many more months than he'd ever admit, Takao did not watch the Cancer section on Oha Asa the next morning. In fact, he didn't watch it at all. Any reminder of Shin-chan was unwelcome, especially when he'd be meeting him first thing in the morning. He had hoped that - for once – Shin-chan might read the mood, and not require an escort to school. No such text had come, although there was a grim pleasure in planning minor rebellion – he wasn't bringing the rickshaw this morning, and lucky item be damned if it was too big for Shin-chan to carry.

Any hope he maintained that Shin-chan would have gone on to school without him was dashed as soon as he turned onto his street. There he stood, all 195cm of awkward glory, and Takao felt his resolve and his stomach plummet. To face him now and pretend that nothing was wrong would take all his skill. Takao only hoped he was up for the challenge.

"Morning, Shin-chan! Ahh, I see that your lucky item is quite small today. That's good, because the rickshaw is currently out of order." Unless your new girlfriend wants to cart you around in it. That would be acceptable. "Ready to go?"

Midorima hesitated before pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose. This was the pivotal moment, where he would either pretend that everything was normal (as Takao was) or would bring up Takao's strange behavior from last night. "Good morning, Takao. I trust you slept well?" He let the uncharacteristic statement hang in the air just long enough for Takao to choke on his surprised (relieved) inhale. "Wonderful. I have high expectations for today, nodayo. Oha Asa has prepared me for nothing less." He glanced at Takao from the corner of his eye, and it caused Takao to trip over his own damn feet. "As should you. Our horoscopes are ranked quite highly today."

Well, damn. Maybe he should have watched Oha Asa this morning if it was the reason Shin-chan was being so dere this early in the morning. Unless it wasn't the reason, and then Takao officially hated the entirety of existence. "They are, huh? And what about your date's? Or does she share a sign with either of us?" Oh god, what was he doing? That was petty and stupid and obvious, not to mention breaking this blessed faux-normalcy. He cursed internally. Now it was going to be awkward, and he was going to have to hear all about the one thing he did not think he could handle at the moment. Why didn't he just kill himself now, and save himself all the future aggravation?

Midorima's hesitation was swallowed up by his hitching up his messenger bag higher onto his shoulder. "I have no idea. The omiai did not progress to a point where I felt it incumbent to ask, nanodayo. Or to speak at all, really."

"Well, that's goo-wait. What? Say that again?"

"Takao, listen more closely please. I said: I have no idea. The omiai did not progress-"

Takao very nearly slapped his forehead with his palm. "No, the last part. You didn't talk to your partner? At all?"

Midorima frowned. "No. I saw no reason to. It resulted in two very long hours, I can assure you. There wasn't even tea." He shot another cautious glance over to the man at his side. "I...do not think I will have to do that again anytime soon. I do not believe she was at all pleased."

Takao exhaled in a giddy rush. Shin-chan was the best and he was foolish for even doubting him for a second. "Well of course she was annoyed! She probably thought you were being rude. You were being rude. Shin-chan, I can't believe you. That is no way to treat a lady." His admonishment was undermined by the stupidly wide grin cutting across his face. He attempted to hide it nonchalantly with a strategically placed hand, but he hadn't counted on Shin-chan's height. In a desperate move, he sucked in his cheeks, but it was too late. There was simply no disguising his glee. "Well, I guess it can't be helped. Shin-chan has too much to worry about already – being the Ace-sama of one of the best teams in Tokyo isn't easy. I guess there's just no time for girls for either of us!" The urge to skip and compose ditties was becoming somewhat hard to suppress, and Takao sternly told himself to rein it in. Just because Shin-chan was safe this time didn't mean the trend would continue. Also, prancing around for no good reason would probably give him away.

"If you say so. I will reflect on my actions later, nanodayo. For now, tell me about practice yesterday. Did that first year cretin learn to dribble the ball yet? Or does he still think he will rely solely on his height?"

"Shin-chan, Shuhei-kun is almost as tall as you! There's not going to be much opportunity for him to handle the ball. Cut him some slack, huh?"

"I'll cut him some slack when he can undergo basic ball handling drills. And what about that third year who keeps telegraphing his passes? Any improvement there…?"

"You were only gone for one day, Shin-chan, not a friggin' week-"

They fell into a comfortable conversation as captain and vice-captain, which lasted until they arrived at school. Once there Takao knew he was safe. Any chance of Shin-chan bringing up anything awkward had reduced to a near impossibility, along with anything personal. He needed to use this time to clear his head, however. The news of Shin-chan's failed omiai made him far too happy, and even his socially clueless friend would be able to pick up on such a drastic change from yesterday. So he bit his lip, and tried his hardest to act normally. It couldn't be too hard to do that, surely - after all, they'd been friends and partners for over a year now...

3 days later, Takao realized he had been hopelessly naive. If only normalcy was a realistic option! He was doing ok with Shin-chan, he thought. He hadn't had any mood swings since the night of the omiai, and Shin-chan hadn't spoken of it since. No, he had gotten his act together just in time, and his best friend probably chalked it up to stress, or nerves, or exhaustion.

The problem was himself. Now that he had realized that he was in love with his partner, he had some serious problems. Chief among them was his rampaging attraction – he had known Shin-chan was attractive before, but now he understood. There were no more sonnets for his shoulders, just clenched hands to keep from gripping them. He could no longer steal food from Shin-chan's bento, as the urge to lean over and take a bite of something else was becoming difficult to ignore. He had teased Shin-chan endlessly about his pretty green eyes, and the long, feminine eyelashes. Now, he'd do just about anything to stare at them unimpeded, and to feel his lashes flicker against his cheek in a butterfly's kiss. He wanted to touch him all over – his hands, his face, his hips – and although Takao had always been playfully in Shin-chan's airspace, now there was a hint of possession to it. He gripped his friend's arm just a little too tightly when girls passed him in the hall, smiling just a tad too brightly when Midorima looked down in concern. He found excuses to nudge him, brush against him, physically grab his attention – all the while feeling like he was slowly going crazy. It was way too obvious, and yet it wasn't enough. Basketball was slightly more manageable, as in love or no he was completely dedicated to his passion. Still, he didn't even want to know what kind of feeling was in his passes, these days.

There was also the matter of Shin-chan's…uncharacteristic behavior. Although Shuutoku's ace had become somewhat less eccentric over the past year, the last few days had been a little too normal. For one thing, Takao hadn't driven the rickshaw for days now, and Shin-chan's items had all been mercifully small.
For another, Shin-chan had been - dare he say - polite for three days running, as well as displaying unheard of levels of patience and calm. He had let Takao ramble ad nauseum, calling him an idiot only 4 times. Clearly, something was wrong.

(Shin-chan had also not used any selfish requests in practice the entire week, although that was not so abnormal. He had gone for several days in a row without balking before, especially when one of their senpai would call or drop in on a practice. He claimed it was part of being vice-captain, although Takao figured he just didn't want the underclassman laughing at him.)

Oddest yet were the times when Shin-chan would simply look at him, as if he were waiting for some cue that might never come. These lingering looks would come at unexpected times - the classroom, the halls, walking to and from school, and Shin-chan's front step where they said their goodbyes. Takao entertained worrisome thoughts that Shin-chan might simply be waiting for him to snap like he had the day of the omiai. Yet his friend didn't seem worried, per se, simply expectant. As the days went by, perhaps even impatient.


Five days after his first omiai, Midorima had another one.

All had gone fairly well up until then. Takao woke Sunday afternoon convinced that Shin-chan was runner up in the Miss Japan contest, and his conviction held until he rolled over and realized that piece of nonsense was just a dream. The realization didn't keep him from laughing at his friend's expense, however - very little did. Yet his amusement was cut short when he glanced at his phone and found he had 3 new messages: one from his father, who had gone out drinking last night with some old college friends; and 2 from Midorima. Takao rolled upright, unintentionally gripping his cell phone a little too tightly. Shin-chan hadn't texted him on a Sunday in a long time! He probably wanted assistance in procuring some horrifically uncomfortable lucky item, but the principle remained. Takao's excitement grew until he flipped open the screen and selected the texts.

Another omiai tonight. Perhaps silence is not enough, after all.

And then, 10 minutes later: I require assistance.

The latter had been sent barely 20 minutes ago. Takao sent back a quick reply before dressing himself more quickly than he ever had before. He paid no attention to what he wore - and this was saying something, judging by the high fashion standards he held himself to - and took time only to fish his house key out of his messenger bag and to grab an apple from the kitchen counter.

His mother caught him on the way out. "Kazunari? Good to see you're alive, my son. Ah, but if you're heading out you should take an umbrella - it's supposed to storm in an hour or so."

Takao glanced down at his jacket, noting it had a hood. "I'm good, Mom. Thanks. Just heading over to Shin-chan's." He was practically twitching with his need to go. His heart was not prepared for this. How could Shin-chan have another omiai so soon? Were his parents trying to get rid of him or something? And was it with his previous partner? Why would anyone want another round of silent Shin-chan? Well, besides him, of course...as he was apparently a masochist.

Shin-chan why am I in love with youuuuuuuuuu?

She glanced at her son knowingly. "I see. Give our best to his parents...if you see them. Behave, Kazunari."

Takao nodded dumbly. Not for the first time, he wondered if his mother harbored suspicions as to the true nature of their friendship. She was the parent he inherited his hawkeye from, after all. It made him wonder just how long he had been in love with his ace without realizing it. Answer: A long damn time. "I...yeah, Mom. I'll behave."

"Good. We're taking your sister to little Maya-chan's house for her sleepover, and your father and I will be going out again tonight. Watch the house for us when you get back, ok? We'll be back pretty late."

Takao began shifting his weight from one foot to the other. "Watch house, got it. Ok, gotta' go, Mom, bye!" He leaned in to land a quick kiss on her cheek, deftly avoiding the loving (or so he hoped) swat she aimed at his head. He jogged out of the kitchen, slipping on his shoes at the door. Then he was running for the Midorima household, not giving a damn for the dark, hanging rain clouds that he could take, were he a superstitious man, as a bad omen.

On the way there, he gave his heart free rein to chastise. Shin-chan you dumbass! How the hell do you keep getting conned into this stupid shit? Do your parents seriously want to get rid of you? They should just give you to me! Who else can take care of you the way I do, huh? Not some prissy little girl, that's for sure. Argh, Shin-chan, are you even fighting this? Why would you keep agreeing if you don't want to do this? Stop putting my heart through agony, you stupid tsundere!

He could have gone on forever, but Shin-chan's house was in view and he had to get himself together. A repeat performance of what happened last time was not what either of them needed today. Besides, he prided himself on his control over his emotions, and to lose that control was humiliating. He simply had to put on a mask, and make damn sure it didn't come off.

He rang the doorbell, hoping that Mr. Midorima would open the door. Takao knew Shin-chan's dad liked him, largely as he had a taste for basketball (which his wife bitterly referred to as that western sport). He could never openly admit this, however, as Shin-chan's mother ruled the house with an iron fist. This wasn't the most fortunate circumstance for Takao, either. For one thing, he had to remember to say Midorima-kun instead of Shin-chan in her presence, and he was terrible at that. For another thing, he was fairly sure she didn't like him.

The door opened slowly, and a tall, attractive woman in an immaculately tied kimono opened the door. Well, damn.

"Hello, Takao-kun. I'm sorry, but Shintarou has business and cannot attend to you today. I'll tell him you came by." She bowed slightly, and Takao nearly bobbed in return before he realized Shin-chan had said nothing to his mother, leaving him to do all the work. Stupid tsunderes.

"Good afternoon, Mrs. Midorima. I know Sh-Midorima-kun is busy getting ready for his omiai, but he asked me to come over to return one of his lucky items. Apparently it is very important for today!" Takao smiled brightly, knowing that his charm had the power to blindside even middle-aged women. He continued in an undertone, hoping Mrs. Midorima would, for once in her tradition-driven life, go with the flow. "I think Midorima-kun is a bit nervous, to tell you the truth. He needs a good pep talk, to prepare his heart." And mine. Lying to Shin-chan's mother? Kazunari you are bad, bad man. "I promise I won't take long!"

She looked at him suspiciously, but moved aside to let him in. She bowed demurely once he was inside, and he returned it to a slightly lower degree than usual. Then he was bounding up the stairs, stopping when he stood outside Midorima's door. He took a deep breath to prepare himself - Shin-chan was going to be one hundred times more attractive than usual, and needed his help for an unspecified reason. This was not the time to fantasize about pushing him down onto his bed and having his way with him and his delicious looking hakama. This was the time for serious discussions, and about Shin-chan never going on another damn omiai ever again.

He knocked as he entered, too impatient to wait. "Shin-chan? I got your text-" Even though he had prepared himself, the sight of Shin-chan in traditional clothes made his heart clench. He slit his eyes to keep them from widening, and curled his left hand - the one hidden by his body - into a fist. What were the gods thinking when they created Shin-chan? They had to be testing him, as it was painfully hard to resist this man.

"Hello, Takao. You certainly took your time, nodayo." Even with his characteristic archness and raised accusatory eyebrow, Takao could see that his partner was nervous. It was difficult to ignore someone who was six foot five and fidgeting, after all.

Right. Remember to act normally, and don't fuck it up. "Afternoon, Shin-chan! I came as soon as I got your text. So! What do you need help with?" Staying upbeat and perky was key. He had to keep up his positive energy, otherwise he may end up succumbing to the urge to hit something.

(But not Shin-chan. Never Shin-chan).

Midorima winced. "The young lady has requested another meeting. Apparently keeping silent was not entirely effective. Unfortunately, that was the extent of my ideas, nanodayo. Perhaps you have one?"

Takao nodded slowly. Although the thought of Shin-chan going through another omiai - not to mention images of him kissing and touching anyone else, ever - still caused pain and rage to rise up and choke him, he had prepared himself the best he could. It made all the difference now. "Well, there's a lot of things you could do. You could tell her all about Oha Asa...no, some girls like that. Ah, you could demand selfish requests and tell her to pull you on the rickshaw!" He recanted immediately at Midorima's unimpressed expression. "I know, I know. Don't be cruel to girls. Hmmm." Oh, hell. Why didn't he just say the most obvious thing and trust that his mask would hold? "How about this, Shin-chan - just tell her you are already seeing someone. Then she'll back off, right?"

Midorima frowned and pushed up his glasses. "Perhaps. But who am I seeing? Why wouldn't I have told my parents about them?"

He didn't say 'her.' Takao's brain stuttered over that before kicking itself back into the moment. It was just Shin-chan being grammatically correct, no doubt. "It's new. You're shy. They are even more shy. You don't want the basketball team to know as we've all sworn blood oaths of celibacy." He shrugged, an American gesture that he'd picked up from Kagami. "You can tell her whatever you want, Shin-chan. It's not like she'll know any better."

"Hmmmm." Midorima gestured to the bed, inviting his friend to sit. He then sank gracefully to the floor, sitting politely. "I see. This could possibly work. It may be more effective than my initial strategy, nodayo."

Takao stretched back on Shin-chan's bed, trying to act casual. He absolutely was not thinking about how it felt so different to lay here now that he wanted Shin-chan to lay next to him, preferably unclothed. "Well, what was that? Telling her you had dedicated your high school years to basketball?" Takao grinned, imagining a deadpan Shin-chan declaring his fervent love for the sport. He couldn't quite do it, so he settled for superimposing Shin-chan's head on Kagami's shoulders. Bwahahaha!

Midorima shifted, taped fingers picking at imaginary loose threads on his haori. Takao's sharp eyes narrowed. Shin-chan was still nervous? Or was he simply uncomfortable discussing his reasons? "I had planned-" Midorima breathed deeply, not making eye contact with his friend as he continued. "I had planned on telling her that I...had feelings for someone already, and that they would not change. My sister told me that could be seen as a challenge, however, so I think I must rely on your suggestion." His green eyes flicked up, their expression guarded by his glasses. "Especially as our ideas are compatible, nodayo."

Breathe evenly, Kazunari. In, and out. Good. Now raise your hand to your chin, and rub it thoughtfully. Even better. "Th-they are, yes. And you say that perfectly, Shin-chan. That hesitation really clinched it, you know? She'll...she'll totally believe that." Even with his mental coaching, his voice still cracked when he spoke. He could feel his control slipping away from him like grains of sand through his fingers. The despair that had overwhelmed him before was threatening to steal over him again. Did Shin-chan truly have feelings for someone? He had never intimated anything of the sort, but his reaction was way too natural to be false-

It didn't matter. If he was going to survive this without running away again, he couldn't let himself think about Shin-chan and his mysterious feelings. He simply had to help him and go. "Now you just have to tell her a couple details about them, and you're good to go. Are you going to give a name?" He laughed at Midorima's affronted expression. "I'm kidding, I'm kidding. Yeah it's better if you don't tell her anything definite. Just say a thing or two about how you met them, or why you like them. Then follow up with the shy thing, or why you want to keep it a secret. Just keep it simple, yeah?"

The patter of rain against the window drew Takao's attention for a moment. Oh, great, now his mother's warning penetrated. And from the looks of it, it wasn't going to let up anytime soon - it would only get worse. Maybe he could bum an umbrella off Shin-chan before he left? Because any minute now he had to get moving, else he was going to yell or cry or do something stupid. The thought that Shin-chan had someone he (potentially) cared for was a painful and sobering experience, and he didn't think he could keep it together much longer.

"And if she is particularly determined? Or if she doesn't believe me?"

Takao huffed. Couldn't Shin-chan think of anything for himself? "Well damn, I don't know. Tell her it's a guy or something." Both men froze at the suggestion. Yet now that he said it… "Ha, yeah. That'll stop her, right? I mean, how do you argue with that?" Shin-chan still said nothing, and Takao was struck with a crippling fear: what if Shin-chan was homophobic? Would he hate him if he discovered Takao's feelings for him? And why was he only worrying about this now? He had to get out of this - make it ridiculous, make it a joke. "Yep, that's definitely the answer. Tell her you're in a secret relationship with a guy. You can use me, if you want. Tell her you love the way I pedal you around town...on the damn...rickshaw."


Something was wrong with his voice. His face too; it felt hot and tight, as if the skin was stretched too tightly over the bone. He could tell that much, but was unable to do anything about it. All he could focus on was the growing concern in Shin-chan's eyes, and the sound the rain made as it fell in increasing droves against the windowpane.

"Takao, why do you- don't look like that."

His mask had cracked. He wasn't sure what kind of face he was even making, but if it made Shin-chan look like that then he had problems. Not that he cared about those problems, right now. He had enough to worry about with the dull ache in his chest, and the buzzing in his head, and the stinging in his eyes - oh hell. He was crying again. Now Shin-chan was going to know, and unless he could get over his (potential) homophobism, Shuutoku's light and shadow combo were fucked.

"Takao. Tell me what is wrong."

He could barely see through the swelling tears, and he blinked furiously to clear his vision. "Do you hate me now?" He dimly wondered when Shin-chan had risen, kneeling so that the men were eye to eye. "Did I wreck everything?"

Midorima's confusion was nearly as prevalent as his concern. "No, of course I don't-what are you talking about? And why are you crying? Is it because of me? Because of my…" he trailed off, sitting back on his heels. A horrified light entered his eyes. "You are crying because of your offer to be my...my fake boyfriend?"

"No! You-" Takao's helplessness and frustration turned to anger. "Shin-chan you dumbass!" Before he could stop himself he leaned forward and gripped his face. "This is why-" he pushed his lips against Midorima's, dry and inelegant and forceful, lingering just long enough to register the sensation. He closed his eyes, pretending for that one hallowed moment that this was something Shin-chan wanted. Yet he couldn't lie to himself about something like this, and he pulled back abruptly before Shin-chan could force him away. He stared into shocked eyes, wondering how he could have let it come to this.


He didn't stick around to hear the rest. Takao vaulted off the bed, and a muted part of his mind noticed that seeing as how he had forgotten to remove his shoes at the entrance, at least he wouldn't be running through the rain in his socks. "Takao!"

He tore out of Shin-chan's room and stumbled down the stairs, ignoring anything and everything in his need to escape. This was one hundred times worse than the last time - now Shin-chan knew and he had kissed him and everything was ruined-

"Takao, wait!"

And oh sweet Jesus he was chasing after him. Takao skidded in front of the door, not noticing Mrs. Midorima's shocked expression, nor her daughter's curious one. His fingers fumbled with the lock, not realizing it was open until Shin-chan was nearly upon him. He managed to open the door and slink through it just in time, however, and then he was racing through the rain hoping Shin-chan wouldn't come out in his omiai clothes.

He couldn't go home. Panic-ridden as he was, he understood that much - Shin-chan knew where he lived, after all. He had to go somewhere and hide, otherwise Shin-chan would find him and yell at him and tell him he hated him and end everything-


Oh god! He was yelling and chasing after him! Takao threw a desperate glance over his shoulder, but with the rain all he could see was a blurred outline of a man running behind him. Takao put on an extra burst of speed and nearly slipped. How was Shin-chan gaining when he was running in those stupid sandals? He had to get out of here; he had to hide…

The elementary school was up ahead on the left, and he had nearly passed it before he remembered the woods that ran up to the playground. It wasn't perfect, but it would have to do - especially as he knew the trails much better than Shin-chan, who hadn't attended that elementary school. Takao jumped over the fence, nearly falling into the mud on the other side. Jesus, he just had to get past the playground, and then he would be safe.

He was running past the tube slide when long, taped fingers fastened around his arm and yanked him back against the play structure.


"Takao, shut up!"

Midorima loomed over him, soaked to the bone and angrier than Takao could remember ever seeing him. The haori and hakama clung to him in ways Takao was sure he wasn't supposed to appreciate, not at this given moment. Beyond that he could only gape and stare, blinking the rain out of his eyes. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. It was just a joke, I didn't really...I don't...Shin-chan, please don't be mad-"

Midorima ignored his babbling, cutting right to the heart of the matter. "Why did you run? Why don't you listen to me?" Thunder rumbled in the distance yet neither boy paid it any mind. "Why did you kiss me, Takao?"

Takao struggled against Midorima's hold, knowing he stood no chance against his ace. Even the rain slicking their bodies couldn't give him enough purchase to wiggle away. "I did it...so if she asked you wouldn't lie, ok? Now you can honestly say-"

"You are lying." Midorima growled and pinned Takao's hands up above his head. Takao couldn't help the pleasure that swooped through his belly, nor his little excited gasp. Maybe it was worth the destruction of their friendship to be manhandled by Shin-chan, just this once. "You did not take my first kiss for some stupid girl at some stupid omiai. That is totally stupid, and…" Midorima trailed off, shaking his head in an effort to dislodge raindrops from his glasses. "No. I do not accept it. I want it back, if that is the case."

All Takao could hear was the rain, drumming against the inside of his skull. Nothing else made sense, yet all that mattered was what Shin-chan wanted. "Want...what...back?"

Midorima was blushing. Takao hadn't seen it earlier through the panic and the rain, but Shin-chan was extremely embarrassed. "My kiss, nanodayo! If you're not prepared to kiss someone properly, you shouldn't have done it at all!" He swallowed, and Takao's eyes tracked the movement of his adam's apple and the rain droplet that traveled with it. "So give it back. I want it back."

Takao stared at him in wide-eyed wonder, and a feeling of invincibility settled over his bones. He could be so, so wrong. Yet there was nothing that could stop the words that came out of his mouth. "If you want it...then take it back."

For a long moment, nothing moved save the rain. Then, with a trepidatious yet determined look in his eyes, Midorima bent low and kissed him.

"Mmmm." Takao couldn't help but whimper quietly. This was so far from Midorima hating him because he liked him - this was bliss. Shin-chan's lips were thin and cold and clearly had no idea what they were doing, but that was ok because they were there. Takao began kissing him back earnestly, head spinning. He had never kissed a guy before, and doing it Shin-chan was so many levels of terrifying and euphoric all at once. Yet his heart was now ruling his head, and it demanded more - so he began plying Midorima's lips with his own, tacitly teaching him what to do. Slowly, Midorima got the hang of it. Then he took charge.

He pulled back slowly, giving Takao just enough space to whine helplessly and lean forward, attempting to rekindle the kiss. He was rendered helpless by Midorima's hold on his wrists, however. "Shin-chan, come back-"

"Are you going to run again, Takao?" His words were a whisper against his lips, and Takao's eyelids fluttered shut in appreciation. Shin-chan was so hot like this; dominant and bossy and Shin-chan.

But it wouldn't do to swoon like some sort of princess, no matter how hard it turned him on to be restrained by his partner. "I won't if you don't want me to." Takao thought that maybe the rain was driving them both mad, because how else could he think even the beads of water on Shin-chan's glasses were sexy? "I won't if you keep on kissing me."

"Takao-" Midorima growled as he reclaimed his lips, mouth opening naturally. He finally released Takao's wrists in order to embrace him, and Takao enthusiastically returned the favor; first reaching for and removing the glasses that threatened to cut into his face when Midorima angled just so. He had just enough presence of mind to slip them into his pocket before giving in to Midorima's ardor. Then, he tangled his hands into Midorima's hair and kissed him back fiercely, dragging his tongue along his partner's lips.

Judging by how tightly Shin-chan gripped him it was the right thing to do. In a surprisingly bold move Shin-chan wasted no time in returning the gesture, slipping his tongue past Takao's lips. Takao groaned into his mouth, emboldened by the cover of the wind and the rain. His fingers trailed descending lines on soaked skin, eventually coming to rest on Shin-chan's broad shoulders. It was here that he gripped, gaining purchase when he instinctively bucked his hips forward.

The wet friction made his eyes roll back in his head. Dear lord, did he have to become a stumbling virgin around Shin-chan? Especially when Shin-chan himself seemed to be taking this all in stride? Yet there was no time to berate himself, as Shin-chan was pressing him back against the slide and at this angle Takao was very aware of his partner's erection that was trapped between them. Dizzying thoughts of what he could do with that froze him, and so once again Midorima took the lead, slipping his left hand down Takao's stomache.

Midorima's intent was obvious - although the angle was awkward and the rainfall further obscured his vision, Takao's belt was undone and Midorima was currently struggling with the clasp on his jeans. Although Takao had no personal complaints, he knew this was moving way too fast for his partner, unexpected dominance aside. "Shin-chan, wait-"

Midorima cut him off by taking Takao's lower lip between his teeth, and sucking on it. "Is this too much for you?"

He gasped as Shin-chan finally thumbed open his jeans, and pulled the zipper all the way down. Midorima yanked at his pants but the waterlogged jean had molded to his skin. Takao cursed his fashionably tight pants, even as he attempted to slow things down. "No, but it's fast - I mean you've never-"

Midorima growled and then used both hands to tug Takao's pants down past his hips. He swallowed Takao's surprise with a passionate kiss before responding. "I have wanted you for too long, Takao. Unless you don't want this, shut up."

Then his mouth was occupied again, and all restraint was lost. The heat of their kiss contrasted deliciously with the cool rain drumming against the skin. In Takao's case the contrast went further as Midorima ran his fingers up and down Takao's barely clothed erection, finally freeing it from his boxer briefs. Then he was completely exposed, and the compulsion to seek warmth was so strong that he arced into Midorima's hands, seeking to shield his cock from the rain.

His fingers closed around him, and both men groaned. The angle was awkward and it was far more slippery than either was used to, but the moment was so desperately sexual that neither cared. Midorima caressed Takao in long, slow strokes, and Takao did his best to accept that tempo. The urge to buck and rut until he was sated was strong, but not overpowering. Mixed with the rain, Shin-chan's kisses, and the hidden allure of Shin-chan's erection pressing against his thigh, however, Takao wasn't sure how well his control would hold.

The question was answered for him when Midorima broke the kiss and abruptly dropped to his knees. Interestingly enough, Takao's initial reaction was to pull him back up, sure he had fallen. The next was a stray thought on the condition of his hakama. By the time Midorima had leaned in close enough to bestow a preemptive lick to the head of his cock, however, Takao had caught up.


This was beyond his wildest dreams. For Midorima Shintarou to be sucking on his cock in the middle of a rainstorm Takao expected nothing less than the end of the world. Yet if this was how the world ended, he wouldn't complain. He would simply tangle his fingers into Shin-chan's hair, dually shielding it from the spatter of rain and so he could get the best view of the eyes shut in concentration, the lips pressing kisses against the head of his cock, and the tongue licking him up and down like a lollipop.

Midorima grew bold with practice - soon he was lathing his lover's manhood with his tongue, and taking it deeply into his mouth to suck. It was fortunate he was a fast learner, as the pleasure was proving to be too much for Takao. He began to thrust forward, little juts of his hips that were not enough to choke Midorima but enough to signal his intent. Yet watching became akin to sensory overload and his head fell back against the slide, raindrops stinging his eyes until he shut them. In this state the immense pleasure caused the entire world to shrink until all that existed was Shin-chan's mouth and the sound of rain. Shin-chan's sucks and kisses and licks were redefining his existence, and so when he felt the familiar surge building low in his stomach he knew to warn his partner.

"Shin-chan, stop, I'm gonna come-"

The excitement spiked rapidly, and Midorima pulled back just in time. After that, Takao knew nothing more - not the rain, nor where he came - only the selfish, blinding knowledge of his orgasm. He would have fallen to his knees had Midorima not caught him.

"We need to get home, Takao." Midorima had to say it three times before Takao heard, blinking his eyes groggily. He had to say it once more before it registered.

"No, it's your turn now…" Takao reached for the waistline of Midorima's hakama but was denied.

"Not in the rain, nodayo. Otherwise we'll both get sick. Perhaps we could continue this at your house?"

Takao shivered and nodded as he pulled up his pants. Shin-chan must be really impatient if he was suggesting they continue without knowing whether the Takao family was home or not. Feeling wasted but still a bit naughty, he cupped Midorima's crotch and squeezed before responding.

"Good idea, Shin-chan. My house is empty anyways...we can do whatever we'd like…"

Midorima's response was strangled and terse, given as fished his glasses out of Takao's pocket. "Good. Let's go. Now."

"Yes, sir."

By the time they reached Takao's house the urge for each other had been partially replaced with the urge to be warm, dry, and fed. Takao in particular was a little unsteady on his feet, and Shin-chan's ardor had been dampened by the rain and the run.

Their passion returned when they realized the efficacy of showering together, however. Midorima took his virginity with agonizing slowness; pushing him up against the wall of the shower and stretching him out with untaped fingers. Takao thought he should protest more- after all, he was the one who'd had sex before, albeit only with females - but he couldn't resist being smothered and filled with Shin-chan. Besides, after the initial pain had passed, it had felt better than he could have imagined - Shin-chan's hand on his cock augmented the pleasure-pain inside of him, and when his ace began murmuring words of encouragement, appreciation and even of love his orgasm came suddenly and exquisitely.

Afterwards, Shin-chan called his parents while Takao prepared a simple dinner. He was a little afraid of the outcome of the conversation, and he was sure Shin-chan was far more so. They had agreed to keep their relationship a secret, as it would likely damage their rapport with the basketball team, not mention the situation with the Midorimas. Eventually they would have this discussion with his parents, hand in hand and prepared for the worst. Yet that day was not tonight, and whatever excuse Shin-chan made - and it seemed effective, as he announced his father had allowed him to spend the night - would have to do for now.

Dinner was quiet, even for Midorima's standards. The point guard's natural ebullience was dimmed enough to make him worry until Takao abandoned the rest of his meal in favor of dining on something far more delicious. Then, both meals were discarded in their desire for each other, and the boys made their way to the bed, where they remained for the rest of the night.

Hours later, when the storm of their desire had broken they lay in bed, speaking in hushed tones with long breaks to caress and kiss, and tried to make sense of everything. Midorima was somewhat displeased that it had taken the failed omiai to make Takao realize that he was in love with him, especially when he had been in love with his point guard since directly after their first Winter Cup.

("So...how long?"

"How long have I harbored these feelings for you? Long enough, nodayo. You were most unobservant and made me wait excessively. You have a lot to make up to me, nanodayo.")

Likewise, Takao was miffed that he had been unable to recognize the change in Midorima's demeanor, and that his friend had handled falling in love way better than he had. Even worse was the realization that Shin-chan had suspected this entire week and not doing anything about it.

("I only began to hope a week ago. I didn't know for sure, but I thought it might be so. Although you have certainly raised my hopes in the past."

"Ehh? Like when?"

"...Takao you fell asleep on my stomach. Nuzzling was involved."

"That's not so bad…"

"You were nuzzling my erection."


Inevitably, their thoughts turned to the future.

("You know, Shin-chan, someday I'm going to top you. Just you wait."

"You are welcome to try. But I believe in this regard, I have put far more effort into preparation, nanodayo. Regardless, you would have to demonstrate your knowledge of safe sex before I allowed you to do so."

"That's my Shin-chan, always prepared. Do you think you'd like it? I mean, if I was good at it?"

"I...do not know. Perhaps. But would it not be disgusting for a man as big as I to be...penetrated?"

"Are you kidding me? You're super cute! And incredibly sexy and you know it, Shin-chan. You are just looking for compliments. You will have to stop as it is way too cute."

"Do not be stupid, Takao. Additionally, are you going to persist in calling me that silly nickname now that we are...what we are?"

"How about this: I'll call you Shintarou when you call me Kazunari."

"...don't be stupid, Takao…")

On the 29th of October, Takao woke up in a stranglehold, sweating and stuck and uncomfortable. If he didn't know better, he would have assumed there was some sort of smooth-skinned monster clutching him. Judging by the depth and volume of the snores, it was a large one.

Takao smiled against the broad chest his head was pulled so tightly against. He should have guessed Shin-chan was as bossy in his sleep as he was when awake; he simply wouldn't be his Shin-chan, otherwise. So, Takao snuggled even closer to his beloved tsundere. He wasn't a betting man, but he'd place his money on this: there were worse things than waking up in the embrace of the one you loved. And as long as one of those things wasn't his mother - or, (heaven forbid) Shin-chan's mother - knocking down his door, he was going to let this situation continue.

...although he may be tempted to invest in a good pair of earplugs, later.


A few notes:

Hakama are traditional pants, Haori is the overcoat, and Monstsuki are the uncomfortable looking sandals.

I refuse to name either of their little sisters. I just couldn't do it.

I hope you enjoyed it! R&R if you did :)