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baby, there is a crossroad ahead

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(and your home is

on the other way.)

 


 

 

The first time they meet, Akashi shakes his hand with an air of liquid fire and says, "Taka-chan," with a pleasant smile that, starting on the third millisecond, reaches his eyes so perfectly that Takao recognizes a good insult when he sees one.

 

The feisty part of him grasps an opportunity to rebound back—"A friend of Shin-chan's?"—out of spite, with squared shoulders and an equally wide smile. Another part is, however, always delighted enough to watch, to see if this is really the unwaveringly assured captain that Midorima always says he is. Sure, Akashi is comfortable enough to wear his own skin: the pale accent of his thoughts and self-sufficiency; but there are a thousand little ways his eyes shift to the space between Midorima and Takao's chair, eyes gauging with a calculative look so subtle that only point guards could identify—the really insecure ones, at that—but in the next second it is gone, because Akashi always wears his things exclusively on his back, and Takao really has no business with something so sentimental as pitying the enemy.

 

It surges up when, in the strange moment of aberrant serendipity, Midorima catches Akashi's gaze with an odd mixture of silent resignation and raw tenacity that contradicts his every point, because the Midorima that Shuutoku knows always constructs himself in linear thoughts. Takao admires him for that: no one has the strength to face Akashi with a heart, let alone an intact one, but Midorima picks up the ball and rebuilds his own every single time it is shattered into a thousand chess pieces. 

 

A pity, really, that both of them thrivedin the control tower of Teikou’s claustrophobic enmity: of knowing there isn’t so much emotional codependence as being adequate; good enough to keep up with each other, solicitous enough to solidify affection into something resembling an introspective contemplation, perpetually calibrating the idea as if it is less of an emotional urgency and more of a ball they can adjust well in their hands. And now, with Akashi now being the only one still holding it, Takao wonders if—after everything—this is about the highest peak of control one can possess before breaking down entirely.

 

Their respective teams shout from the gate and Midorima nods a wordless goodbye to the king-shaped hole in his board, while Akashi regards the whole three years of holding back summarized into a tight smile: the last thing that Takao realizes as they walk away, because really—he recognizes a painful breakup when he sees one.