The next week of school went by in a way that neither Midorima himself nor Takao would have expected. Despite the advice venture he had gone on, Midorima had not gone about using any of it. At least not yet. He had taken it upon himself to distance himself from the hawk eye so that he could consider his options.
In other words, he had asked that the two of them “go on a break”.
“Huh? A break?” Takao had asked, taken aback by the suggestion. The two had been alone in the locker room changing after practice one afternoon.
“Erm, yes. That’s right. I just think we should take some time for ourselves. You know…for some time apart.”
Takao gave him a strange look.
“It’s not a breakup, just a break,” Midorima continued, trying to reassure him.
“Oh…yeah. Okay! That’s fine with me.”
Takao said it with a half-smile on his face. He didn’t sound too sure of himself though.
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah! ‘Course, Shin-chan. Anything for you.”
He gave one of those annoying laughs of his, but this time it sounded forced. Midorima looked at him worriedly, but quickly shook off the feeling. It was only a break. Lots of couples probably did this, right? They weren’t breaking up or anything. He just needed some time to himself to think about what he should do.
A week had gone by since that conversation. School had been somewhat awkward, since Takao sat in the desk right in front of him. Takao no longer threw little balled up notes over his shoulder, hitting Midorima’s nose and enraging him. Instead, the brunette just stared straight ahead, ignoring the fact that Midorima even existed.
He knew that Takao was probably just trying to give him the space he asked for, but it still made him feel like he was upset with him. Despite the ignoring during class, Midorima had caught him multiple times sneaking glances in his direction during lunch break while he talked to friends. Of course, he would look away every time the greenhead was about to catch his eye.
Basketball practice was the worst. The two had to act like everything was completely normal and cooperate with one another like they usually did, so as not to worry the team. Afterward, they would separate once again. Takao didn’t drive him home in the rickshaw that week.
Now, May had begun. Midorima had pondered over the different things he could do to solve his dilemma. He was watching Saturday morning’s Oha-Asa broadcast when he heard something interesting.
“That’s right, Cancers. You are in the lead on the luck chart. Today, go out and spend time with that special someone. Expect a surprise. Your lucky item is: a bouquet.”
Midorima gawked at the screen. It was like the show knew exactly what was going on in his life at the moment. He sighed, adjusting his glasses. So much for taking a break. It looked like he would have to make his move today, since Oha-Asa said so.
He had already been narrowing down his options anyway. For the last few days, he had been leaning toward the date idea.
He went to his room to look in his closet for some clothes. It was then that he realized…he didn’t have anything to wear for a date. Well maybe he did, but he was going to be stubborn about it.
He suddenly felt a spark of inspiration. He would go clothes shopping for the perfect outfit. After all, today would be the day he would attempt to confess his love for the hawk eye. Luck was on his side today. Now was as good a time as any to try. He would need something new to wear for the occasion.
Oh, and he would need a bouquet since it was his lucky item. Surprisingly enough, it seemed he was going to take on that Bakagami’s advice after all.
* * *
Midorima wandered around a clothing store, picking up clothes from different racks to try on. When he couldn’t carry any more, he went to the dressing room. He found an unoccupied stall and threw all of his clothes on the chair, closing the door behind him. A big mirror covered one wall. He removed his own shirt and started trying others on. Once he put a shirt on, he would look in the mirror and turn around, checking out every angle to see if he liked how it looked…or maybe, rather, if Takao would like it…gah! What was he thinking!?
A dark blush crept onto his face as he pulled off the dark blue polo he’d had on and threw in onto the “no” pile.
Psssh. Why should I care what Takao thinks of my clothing?
…But then why am I here buying new clothes? I should have just picked something from my closet.
…But I didn’t have anything good in my closet…
“Argh! Whatever! Why is this so difficult!?”
“Sir?” a male employee said from outside the dressing room. “Is everything alright in there?”
“Oh. Er, yes. I’m just trying to decide on which shirt to buy.”
He hadn’t realized how loud he’d said that. As if his face needed any more reason to increase in temperature.
“Oh, okay. Carry on then.”
Midorima sighed heavily. Was he going to waste the whole day shopping for one outfit?
He checked his watch. 3:30pm.
This was going to take a while.
In the end, Midorima ended up buying a dark green V-neck and a grey cardigan. He would wear a nice pair of black jeans with it. He had visited several clothing shops before finally deciding on something. That alone had taken a few hours. Now he was inside a flower shop in search of a bouquet.
Sure, it was only his lucky item. This was only supposed to take a few minutes since Oha-Asa didn’t specify what kind of flowers should be in the bouquet. However, he felt as if he should choose one that would appeal to Takao…not that it was supposed to be for him or anything…yet he had a feeling he would give it to him anyway. It seemed like a good idea. Didn’t people usually give little gifts to each other on dates? Like chocolates or flowers? If that was the case, he was sure he must be doing something right.
He walked up and down the aisles, observing the different arrangements. Red roses seemed like a little too much. He didn’t think the hawk eye would like pink all that much either.
Then, one caught his eye. It was a bouquet made up of white roses surrounded by a bunch of smaller purple flowers. The long green stems were bound tightly together with purple lace. It was perfect. Elegant, yet simple. And he knew that Takao’s favorite color was purple. He picked up the bouquet and went to the counter to pay for it.
* * *
By the time he got back to his apartment, it was almost 7pm. The first thing he did was change into his new clothes. After looking in the mirror for a few minutes, he concluded that he was satisfied with his appearance. Then he sat on his bed to stare at his phone. He realized he hadn’t actually asked Takao on the date yet. He started to wonder if he should have done that before his little shopping spree.
Normally, he would assume that Takao was busy and they would have to reschedule the date for another day. But, knowing the hawk eye, he was sure to leap at the opportunity to go on a date with Midorima, no matter how late. Especially since Midorima was the one asking. There was also the fact that going on a date would mean their “break” would end.
He scrolled through his contact list and found Takao’s. But right before he could tap the “call” option, his phone started ringing. His eyes widened in surprise when Takao’s name appeared on the screen. A whole week had gone by with no communication between them, and Takao just happened to call him right when he was about to? He didn’t mull over it too much and answered.
“…Hey, Shin-chan…I know you probably don’t wanna talk to me right now, but…”
He heard a long sigh from Takao.
“…Can you meet me at the forest in half an hour?”
Midorima tensed up. Why would he suggest meeting at the forest? And what did he want to talk about? He didn’t know if he should mention that he was just about to call him himself. Well, did it really even matter? Deciding against it, he gave a response.
“Alright. See ya.”
The call ended. It wasn’t like Takao to hang up first, and with such a brief goodbye. Midorima moved the phone away from his ear and stared at the blank screen for a few seconds before tossing it beside him on his bed.
The mere idea of going to the forest filled him with anxiety. But there was no reason he should be worried. It wasn’t even May yet. According to Oha-Asa, today was a lucky day for him as long as he went out with Takao. There had been no major arguments between them. All they had done was go on a short break.
Nothing bad is going to happen, he assured himself.
He took a deep breath and exhaled. Takao probably just wanted to talk because he couldn’t bear being without him for such a long time. Actually, for Takao, this was a pretty impressive feat. This was the longest they had ever gone without hanging out together…besides the three-year gap following their past breakup.
Takao had lots of friends since he was such a sociable person. He was just so likeable to everyone he met. However, he was almost always hanging around Midorima. Even though he could hang out and talk with basically anyone he wanted, he would rather be with the tsundere, strict, stubborn, glasses-wearing ace of the team. So it was surprising to see how he was able to resist running over to him to tell him every little detail about his day.
While everyone else avoided him and gave him weird looks, Takao had gone out of his way to befriend him. Takao didn’t care that Midorima had a reputation as “the weird guy that tapes his fingers and carries around giant stuffed animals”. In fact, the brunette found those to be the very characteristics that made him oh so captivating.
Midorima sighed. Maybe Takao just wanted to ask that they stop this “break” and go back to normal. This, of course, would work in Midorima’s favor. All he had to do was show up, listen to the hawk eye complain about how dumb this break was and laugh at him, then Midorima would ask him out on the date. Takao would probably be thrilled to hear him ask, and then things would be okay.
Midorima smiled to himself, feeling the rare emotion of happiness coursing through him. Luck was on his side. This was going to be perfect.
* * *
Midorima made his way down the path that led through the forest. He was wearing his new green shirt and cardigan and holding the bouquet. This was a small change to his original plan of meeting up at the restaurant he had chosen, but all in all, it would end up the same way. They would end the break and go on a date.
He took a deep breath and exhaled happily. He was feeling very proud of himself for finally building up the confidence to do this. There was a new spring in his step. He felt like he could do anything.
The clearing wasn’t too far away now. It would only be a few minutes until he reached it. He wondered if Takao would be there before him. Then again, the brunette was late to everything. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he didn’t show up for another ten minutes.
He was quickly proven wrong as he stepped out into the clearing and noticed a shadow hunched over on the hill. When he peered more closely, he recognized the distinct posture and realized that it was definitely Takao sitting there.
Midorima walked over toward him. Takao didn't look over. It was like he didn't even notice him. As he got closer, he saw that his boyfriend was staring intently at the grass down at his feet, twirling his fingers around one another. He seemed so out-of-character. He seemed nervous.
Midorima sat down next to him placing the bouquet down quietly beside him, out of view from Takao for now. Takao suddenly looked up with widened eyes.
"O-Oh! You're here, Shin-chan. I didn't hear you coming."
"Yeah. Here I am..."
A few minutes ticked by in silence, interrupted only by the sounds of the breeze and crickets singing. Midorima didn't know if he should speak first or wait for the other to say something. Unable to bear the tension any longer, the greenhead spoke.
"Well, um...what was it you wanted to talk about?"
Takao continued to stare at his feet.
"Well, you know. It's about this break..."
"You want to end it, right?"
"Well, yeah. Of course I do...it's just that...I don't know how to put this..."
"Well it's not that hard. All we have to do is end this break."
Midorima glanced over and noticed that the hawk eye had a pained expression. He struggled to get out his next words.
"I—well—um—you see—how do I say this..."
He suddenly got to his feet and turned to look down at him.
"If you're gonna break up with me, then just do it already!"
Midorima blinked at the unexpected words. He had never heard Takao take this tone of voice with him. Takao's eyes bore into his, cold as ice. His face was contorted with rage.
"Quit making me wait around in the hope you'll come back. I can't take it anymore! Don't you even care how I feel?"
Tears were forming at the corners of his eyes. Midorima wanted to say something, but Takao wouldn't let him.
"I know why you wanted to go on a break. I know why, and I hate that I know why. But that's not fair. After all we've been through, how can you act like we're already done?"
"W-What?" Midorima managed to say.
"Don't act like you don't know. You've basically already ended this relationship your way. But 'your way' isn't acceptable. Couples aren't supposed to break up over text or under some fake excuse like 'a break'. If you don't love me, then tell me. Just end us officially."
Takao turned his face away. His fists hung at his sides, clenched tightly. Midorima stared at him, mouth agape. He was flabbergasted at the way Takao had just lashed out at him. His heart was beating rapidly, his palms clammy with sweat. He couldn't believe the past was repeating itself, albeit early and a bit different dialogue-wise. Takao had never yelled at him like this before. He didn't know Takao was even capable of getting angry.
He had to stop this. He couldn't let the past repeat itself. Thoughts of Takao leaving him flooded his mind and he found himself standing up and walking toward Takao, who was still turned away looking off into the dark forest. His body was almost moving on its own. His arms wrapped around the smaller boy's waist. He buried his chin into the crook of his neck. Takao looked around, frantically.
"H-H-Hey, what are you doing!?"
Midorima noticed that Takao's face was streaming with tears. It made him almost start crying himself, knowing that it was his fault the brunette felt this way. But he mustered up the courage to say his next line. After all, he had something very important to tell him.
He could see Takao's eyes widening. Using all of his willpower, he finally revealed his long-awaited confession.
"I love you."
He felt Takao stiffen inside his grip. Instead of waiting for a reply, he continued.
"I'm sorry I couldn't say it to you before. It's just...nobody has ever said such a thing to me. I was...overwhelmed. So I ended up pushing you away. I'm...I'm an idiot. Forgive me."
Several seconds passed by with neither of the two saying a word. Takao turned around to face him, still within his grip. A look of surprise was painted on his face.
"Do you...really mean that?" Takao whispered.
"Yes. I do," Midorima said, without a doubt in his voice or heart.
Takao's eyes started to well up even more. His voice broke as he tried to speak.
"You—so you—all this time—"
Midorima interrupted him with a long and passionate kiss on the lips. He didn't want to hear any more out of him, in fear that he would start crying himself. Takao loosened up and snaked his arms around Midorima’s neck to bring him down closer. The moon and stars shined brightly down on them. The occasional hoot of an owl could be heard along with the chirping of the crickets. But neither boy heard any of it, as they were both too immersed within their embrace.
When they pulled away, Takao took a long look at his face.
"Shintarou, you're crying."
Midorima realized that he had, in fact, started tearing up as well. He wiped at his eyes.
"Well what do you know, I guess I am."
Takao used his own fingers to wipe the tears from the emerald eyes.
"But, why are you crying?"
Midorima looked down at Takao, who was nestled against his chest. He smiled and took his hand, intertwining it with his own.
"Because I finally have you."