Izuki finds Takao sitting by the edge of the pool, mindlessly playing with the water with his fingers and wearing a bored expression.
Hasn’t he noticed me yet? For someone whose eyes are better than Izuki’s, he sure is less perceptive of his surroundings.
There he goes again, proving me wrong in the most unexpected ways.
Takao turns his head to Izuki’s direction and stands up, looking at him with slightly wide eyes. Izuki raises a hand in greeting and walks over to Takao.
“How did you find me?” Takao asks.
“I asked around, and someone told me you were here.”
“Oh, is that so?” Takao raises an eyebrow. “Do you have any business with me?”
Izuki’s heartbeat starts to pick up a quicker pace. I have to calm down.
He already got the support of his friends, he practiced his lines in the mirror over and over again—what could possibly go wrong?
Everything might be broken after this—their friendship, the way Takao will look at him.)
“Yes, I do,” he says lowly, hoping that Takao won’t notice the slight quiver on it.
He swallows audibly. Never did he feel this nervous in life since he faced Akashi in the last year’s finals. The calmness in him was the unsettling thing before; now, it was his heartbeat.
He lets his eyes wander, somewhat afraid to look at Takao in the eyes, but miserably fails in doing so. For the first time in his life, he curses his eagle eye for being able to see Takao’s face when he was trying hard not to look at him.
He takes a deep breath and prepares himself for the worst.
“You see, you’re a really great player. Your point guard skills are on point, and the way you synchronize with your teammates, especially with Midorima, is astounding. I’m really jealous of it, in fact, and it might have gotten into my head too much were it not for Hyuuga snapping some sense back to me.”
He clears his throat. “Anyway, that’s not the point. The thing is, I’ve had had my eyes on you for some time, and well, not just as a player, but as a person.”
He takes a deep breath and looks at Takao in the eyes. This is the last chance he might say this, for he will be graduating this year. The least he can do about these damned feelings is to tell it to him. “Your jersey’s certainly not red or green, and you are certainly not an expensive smartphone or tablet, but you know, you have always been the apple of my eye.”
Izuki hands Takao a small blue pouch containing his precious second button. It may not be grand, but his feelings—the longing, the admiration, the awe (he still can’t say it’s love)—are there.
He averts his gaze from the younger player. He certainly can’t look at Takao in the eye now, not when he spouted some cheesy nonsense in front of him. His eyes linger in Takao’s shirt, which has a messily scribbled “Takao <3 Suzuki” on it.
With slightly wide eyes, he looks at Takao, who wore a pained look on his face.
For once in his life, Izuki was speechless. He tried to speak out, but no words came out of his mouth. His throat suddenly got parched, and he could feel the tears welling up in his eyes, though nothing came out of them.
Should I say “I’m happy for you”? Because I’m not. Should I say “Congratulations”? Congratulations for what? For successfully breaking my heart?
He settles with patting him on the right shoulder, and with a forced smile, he says, “So you’ve got yourself a girlfriend, huh? Must be really nice for you.”
He attempted to make a pun or two, just to hide the hurt, but he didn’t succeed. All that filled his mind was the hurt. He only pats him on the same shoulder once more and turns his back on him.
As he was about to leave, he slipped down the pool, drenching his clothes and his body in cold water. He smiled bitterly despite himself. Sure, it hurts to land his ass on the tile ground of the pool, but hell, it didn’t match the ache in his heart right now.
He remained in his position, looking like he was defeated in a basketball match. His tears then slowly cascaded down like rain in his eyes. He probably looked like those guys in the sappy movies who were drenched in the rain after running for the love of their lives, but it didn’t matter now. Well, what else mattered, anyway?
(Certainly not his feelings.)
Takao offers a hand to him, but Izuki chooses to ignore it. He can’t accept it, not like this.
Instead, he stands up, albeit slightly wobbling, until he is back on his feet and walks towards the edge of the pool. Despite his now shaky limbs, he succeeds to lift himself out of the pool. Once again he congratulates Takao with his new relationship, mustering the best fake smile he could pull off, and finally turns his back to Takao. His steps were small and shaky, but at least he managed not to stumble this time.
“Izuki-san, are you alright?” Takao asks.
But he won’t tell him that. Instead, he raises his thumb to him, hoping to affirm that he’s alright despite not being so, and does not look back.
A few steps later, his arm falls back into place. He covers his crying face with his hands and strides away, past his friends who, upon seeing Izuki’s head down and shoulders slumped, wore forlorn looks on their faces. All his surroundings were but a haze as he passed by the hallway, not noticing the students who were either too busy chattering to care that he passed by or gave him strange looks because he was soaking wet. They did not matter, anyway.