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That's what friends do

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The streetlights were shining softly through the narrow space between the curtains of the young boy’s bedroom. They light wasn’t bright at all and normally he’d just continue sleeping, but this day was a very important one. Due to his nerves, the streetlights woke him up earlier than usual.

The boy groaned and rubbed his eyes, sitting up straight in his bed. With his eyes half-closed he started feeling the wall to find the light switch. It was difficult to see without his glasses, so it took him longer than it would take a normal person.

Eventually he was able to switch on the lights and he took his glasses from the small table standing beside his bed. The boy put them on, pushing them up the bridge of his nose with the slender fingers of his left hand. Now being able to actually see something, he looked at the clock hanging on the green walls of his bedroom. It read 5 in the morning. Way too early for him to rise. Knowing that there was no way he could go back to sleep, he decided to read a book until his mother would come to wake him.

Today was his first day at his new school. He was no longer an elementary school kid, from now on he’d be attending Teiko middle school. He wasn’t a child anymore, so he knew that he shouldn’t be this nervous for something as simple as a first day of school, but he’d never been good at making friends, so he was scared to end up alone. Not that he would ever tell his parents about that.

The boy pushed a stand of green hair out of his face. Another thing he was worrying about. In elementary school, older kids often bullied him because of his unusual hair color, hobbies and height. Standing 174 cm at the age of twelve was very unusual in Japan, where many full grown men barely reached that height.

You would think that people would be scared of him because of this, but because he usually spent all his free time alone reading a book, he got the image of a complete nerd. His love for horoscopes and fortune telling didn’t help either. His frowning face made him look scary and distant. Hard for the other children to approach. People saw him as a tall, obnoxious horoscope freak with no friends, which made him an easy victim to bullying.

When he eventually told his mother about this, she told him that he shouldn’t be bothered by their mean words and insults, after all, there was a certain talent that made him stand out. A talent that could lead him to great places later in his life.

Shintaro Midorima was incredibly skilled at basketball. His great knowledge in math and physics gave him the ability to quickly calculate how to release the ball so it would fall perfectly through the hoop high up in the air, gaining three points each time. That combined with his delicate touch and precision made him a deadly weapon. On top of that, his unusual height was actually helping him out in the game as well.

This talent was the exact reason why Shintaro had chosen Teiko middle school. The school was nationally famous for their strong basketball team.

‘But what if I’m not strong enough?’ Shintaro sighed absently. Having lost the focus to read his book, the green-haired boy fell back against his pillow and started staring at the ceiling.

‘I just don’t know what to do. Will they like me there?’ His mind went black with negative scenario’s floating around.

‘Better check up on today’s horoscope. I can’t let bad luck ruin everything.’ He said to himself as he walked over to the small computer standing on his desk. Shintaro turned on the device and entered his password. He put on his headphones and listened to what was to be expected from this day.

“Today will be a new start for you, Cancer. You’ll meet new people and friendships will be formed. But beware, you might meet someone that you might strongly dislike, but you mustn’t push that person away because there is a chance that this person might be the one you’ve been waiting to meet your whole life. Remember, today you rank 3rd, so don’t forget to bring your lucky item with you! Today it is a pink, stuffed animal. Good luck today!” Spoke the all too familiar voice.

‘It certainly sounds promising… maybe I will actually get some friends then.’ The green-haired boy said to himself, feeling somewhat reassured. He closed down his computer and walked over to his closet, where various weird things were stored. After searching for a little, Shintaro found what he was looking for. A little, pink stuffed lion. He took the item form the shelf and blew the little layer of dust way.

A knock sounded on his bedroom door. ‘Shintaro, sweety it’s time to wake up!’ The cheerful voice of his mother spoke to him. She was a little out of breath, but that wasn’t really strange for a woman that was now entering her 7th month of pregnancy, or at least, that was what Shintaro had read about in his books about medical studies.

He had always been an only child, but since h was very little, Shintaro had known that his parents wished for a second child. However, it just wouldn’t happen. Shintaro remembered his mother often being sad after another negative test. They had given up hope by the time Shintaro turned 10. So it was a very big surprise to him when his parents happily announced they were going to have a baby when Shintaro had just turned 12. Slowly things around the house started to change, a baby room was being decorated and baby clothes started to pile up in the house. Shintaro didn’t mind getting a little brother or sister, but he was kind of nervous, because he didn’t really know how to act around babies.

‘Yes mother, I’ll be out in a few minutes.’ He replied. He walked over to his chair where his new school uniform was stored. From now on, for the next 3 years he would wear this uniform every day. He quickly dressed himself and went to the bathroom which was connected to his room where he brushed his hair and re-taped his fingers. Another habit of his, Shintaro had been taping the fingers of his left hand ever since he started basketball. It prevented him from injuring his fingers and breaking his nails. Small things like these could completely mess up his shooting rhythm and cause him to miss his shots, which was something he could not afford.

---

Shintaro went downstairs, taking the stuffed lion with him, to have breakfast with his mother. His father had already left for work. Both of his parents were well-paid doctors in a prestigious hospital and usually had to start working before dawn. But due her pregnancy, his mother was now free from work and could spend some time with her son. It was an unspoken rule in the Midorima household that Shintaro would end up working as a doctor as well.

Yes, if everything went like his parents planned, Shintaro would graduate middle school and then high school. He would later go to an international university where he’d study to become a doctor. At age 24 he should have finished all his education and he would get married to a pretty lady from a rich family at 26. They would have their firstborn when they were around 29 and maybe a second child in the future.

Shintaro didn’t really have a say in all of this, so he kept quiet about the little secret he carried with him. A secret which he would kept hidden until he could take it with him into the grave. He knew that if his secret was exposed, his parents would be furiously disappointed and devastated. All the future plans they had made for him would break into pieces. Shintaro didn’t want to hurt his parents like that. Because he loved them, even if they didn’t have much time for him. All he wanted was for them to be happy, his own happiness would have to take second place.

The thing was, that while all the other boys in his class started to get interested in girls and breasts, Shintaro realized that he didn’t feel the draw to look at girls at all, in fact he preferred to look at the other boys instead. Homosexual or gay, that is what they called it. A mental condition which causes a man to fall in love with another man. Or a woman to fall in love with another woman. Something that is not always accepted. Shintaro knew that certain countries have legalized same-sex marriage, while others, Japan included, had not. Shintaro wasn’t exactly sure what his parents would think if he were to come out. He assumed that his mother would be more or less supportive, since she’s always been open-minded. It was his father that he was most worried about. Raised in and orthodox Christian family, homosexuality was a true no-no. The green-haired boy didn’t want to risk a crack in the relationship with his father, so he wasn’t planning on telling him any time soon.

So Shintaro would just continue to study hard and get good grades, to keep his parents and future sibling happy.

‘Darling, did you sleep well?’ His mother asked, with a smile on her face. She had the same eyes as he did, the same vibrant green color. The only difference was that his mother didn’t have the need to wear glasses.

‘It could have been worse, in fact.’ He replied.

His mother sighed. ‘Oh Shintaro, don’t worry so much. They’ll like you, just believe me will you?’ She said as she ruffled his green locks. She knew her son very well, when she expected he was scared or nervous about something, she’d always try to console him.

They ate the remaining part of their breakfast in silence.

At 8 ‘O clock, Shintaro and his mother got in the car to drive to school. The green-haired boy nervously clutched his lucky item in his hands. The trip felt way to short, even if it had been over 20 minutes.

‘Well now, Shintaro. Wipe that frown of your face and go make some friends, okay? I’ll see you this afternoon. Bye and good luck!’

‘I’ll do my best. Goodbye, mother.’

---

‘Alright now newbies. Welcome to the Teiko basketball club. My name is Kōzō Shirogane. I’m the head coach of the team. Because this is a strong school, with a lot of members, we will use the first week to determine in which string you’ll be placed in. we have the first string, which is the official team, the second string, some matches will be played in there and then there’s the third string, for the people who have yet to learn more before they can play in games. Don’t let your ranking discourage you, 1st years rarely get into the second, let alone first string. We look forward to train with you.’

---

‘We have decided which string you will all be placed in.’

‘What do you think you’ll be into? I really hope the first string, but first years will never get in.’ A tall boy with dark hair whispered to a shorter boy standing next to him.

‘Yeah. Second string is the best we’ll ever get.’ Came his reply.

‘In the first string we’ll be joined by the following boys…’ Before the coach could finish his sentence, people started whispering to one another in surprise.

‘What? There will actually be first years to join the first string!?’

‘I wonder who that’ll be, he must be really strong!’

‘What! Are they for real!?’

‘Please remain silent until I have finished my announcement.’ The head coach continued. ‘As I was saying, the boys that will be playing in the first string are Aomine Daiki, Akashi Seijurou, Murasakibara Atsushi and Midorima Shintaro. We look forward to working with you.’

Shintaro felt people stare at him in awe. The green-haired boy turned his head to see who else in the room would be playing with him. He saw a tall, dark-skinned boy pumping his fist in the air, smiling brightly, a boy with flaming red hair smiling confidently and an abnormally tall boy tilting his head in some sort of lazy confusion. He recognized them from trainings the past week. All three of them were better than all the others, of the same level as Shintaro himself, maybe even better. A small smile crept onto his face, maybe Teiko junior high wasn’t all that bad after all.