Anemone In Sunlight

Kiyoshi is recovering from surgery and now comes the hard part: making him take it slow. In the process, Riko decides it’s time to deal with the things she and Kiyoshi and Hyuuga haven’t been talking about. Drama, Romance, I-3

Almost two months after the Winter Cup, Riko gathered her club around her at the end of practice, grim and serious. “All right, everyone, listen up. We have a problem.” Hyuuga stood at her side looking equally grim; he’d heard the news already. She didn’t honestly think she’d be able to make it through this without his support, and she was grateful for it, but that didn’t make telling the club any easier. Riko took a deep breath, meeting the suddenly worried eyes of her boys one by one.

“Teppei’s surgery was definitely a success, and he’s coming back.”

Silence fell over the court for a long moment before it was broken by the first-years, with explosive sighs and little laughs.

“Jeez, don’t try to scare us like that!” Kagami told her. “You should be smiling for good news!” He paused, looking around at the second-years, who were all frowning or biting their lips or shaking their heads. “…isn’t it?”

“Kiyoshi is impossible during rehab,” Hyuuga informed him darkly. “As soon as he sets foot on the floor-boards, he’ll be trying to do more than he should.” He snorted bitterly. “He’ll try to pass it off as ‘just demonstrating’ but if you let him get away with that he’ll be doing moves at full speed before you turn around.”

“That’s the reason none of you even met him before summer,” Izuki put in. “Hyuuga threatened to throw him out of the gym if he showed up before his rehabilitation was complete, and Kiyoshi’s therapist agreed.”

“And now,” Riko finished, “he’s sent me this.” She held up her phone to show the message she’d gotten this afternoon.

Doctor says light training OK! See you soon! ^_^b

Her year-mates contemplated the screen with dread, and even the first-years were starting to look suitably worried. Riko blew out a breath, stuffing the phone away and staring at the floor for a long moment, hands on her hips. “It would have been easier if he’d had the same therapist as he had last time. She understood what he was like. But now he’s gotten the go-ahead to come back, and it’s up to us to keep him from tearing his knee up again before it fully heals.”

“Oh man,” Koganei moaned, flopping back against the stage. “We’re supposed to stop Kiyoshi?”

“The down-side of Iron Heart,” Izuki agreed, nibbling a thumbnail.

“Which is why it’s going to take all of us!” Hyuuga rallied them. “Everyone needs to keep an eye on him, and if he tries something he’s not supposed to yet… well, do whatever you have to.”

A daunted silence fell until Kuroko broke it, stepping forward and raising a hand politely. “What is Kiyoshi-senpai allowed to do?”

Riko growled with remembered aggravation. “His therapist says that for the next two months he can do light jogging, no sprinting, no cutting, no jumping. He can do the pool exercises and stationary shooting practice, though we’ll probably have to nail his feet to the floor for that one. No squats, no lateral exercises.” And the stupid man had actually seemed to believe this would be possible to enforce when Teppei was attending practice.

“And we can do whatever is necessary to make sure Kiyoshi-senpai doesn’t over work?”

Riko blinked and looked more closely at Kuroko. He looked back, perfectly level and calm—just as calm as he’d been when, now she remembered, he downed Kagami by the ankles to keep him from punching another player and getting thrown out of the game. Riko smiled slowly. “Well, I don’t think you want to be quite as rough with him as you are with Kagami-kun,” she said thoughtfully. “But yes. Whatever is necessary.”

The other second-years were starting to grin, too.

Kuroko nodded. “Of course.” He turned to look up at his partner. “Kagami-kun.”

Kagami folded his arms, looking down at Kuroko. “You want me to help you assault our senpai.” It was a statement, if a slightly dubious one, not a question. Riko reflected with some amusement on how good Kagami had gotten at translating Kuroko’s not-quite-orders.

“Just restrain, unless it’s really necessary,” Kuroko corrected, matter-of-fact.

Kagami snorted, half laughing. “Yeah, sure, why not.”

“Good attitude there,” Hyuuga approved with a certain glint in his eye, no doubt at the thought of Kagami sitting on Teppei or some such.

Riko clapped her hands. “All right! If we can keep Teppei from doing anything too outstandingly stupid for the next six months, we might be able to have him back on the team for the Winter Cup next year. Let’s do this!”

Her club chorused back agreement, and she felt about as good as she could over the whole prospect. Which still meant a lot of worry in the back of her mind. So when Hyuuga nudged her shoulder, while they closed up, and said, “We should go see him now, and let him know he’s not getting away with anything,” she was glad.

She really didn’t think she could do this without Hyuuga. He was better at shouting than she was, and she had a feeling there would need to be shouting.

“This is going to be such a nightmare,” she muttered into her coat collar as they left campus, fists jammed into her pockets. “Why couldn’t his physical therapist have seen what he’s like?”

“Because he looks all laid back and easygoing, even when he’s steam-rolling over top of you,” Hyuuga answered dryly. His hand rested on her shoulder for a few steps. “Don’t worry. The club knows what he’s like.”

“And thank goodness for that!” She snorted softly. “And for Kuroko-kun being used to dealing with difficult players, I suppose.”

It didn’t take long to get to Teppei’s house, and his grandparents were used to seeing her. Riko chatted politely, keeping an ear out for the sound she was positive they would hear soon. Sure enough, there it was—a brisk but slightly uneven step outside the little sitting room. Teppei appeared in the doorway and promptly lit up.

“Hey, I didn’t expect to see you guys until tomorrow! You didn’t need to come by just to congratulate me.”

Riko showed him her teeth, not that that ever really worked on Teppei but she wanted him to know she was serious. “Oh, it wasn’t any trouble at all. Really.”

Teppei’s grandmother smiled at them indulgently. “Here’s the person you really came to see. Run along, dear.”

Riko extracted them with a few more pleasantries, and she and Hyuuga herded Teppei down the hall to his room. She watched closely while Teppei pulled out some cushions for them and gave Hyuuga a taut nod: Teppei’s knee was still weak and he was wincing when he flexed it too far. Hyuuga sighed and thumped down cross legged on the cushion to Teppei’s left.

“You know what we’re here for, so don’t give me any innocent-idiot looks,” he ordered. “We’re going to keep you from overworking that knee if we have to tie you up and hang you from the gym rafters, understand?”

“The whole club is in agreement,” Riko put in, “so don’t think you’ll get away with anything.” Still in her uniform skirt, she folded her legs under her and gave Teppei an extra glare to make up for the demure position.

Teppei eased himself down, leg stretched out straight; she approved of that at least, if not the big simpleton smile he gave them. “I won’t give you any trouble, I promise! The surgery was a success, after all.”

Hyuuga scrubbed his hands furiously through his hair, turning it wilder than usual. “That! That! Don’t you dare give me that! Not after the bullshit you pulled during the tournament this year, and do you know how close you came to needing replacement surgery?!” He rocked up onto his knees, pointing a rigid finger at Teppei. “I’m keeping you from doing that again if I have to break your other leg, got it?!”

Riko hoped ruefully that Teppei’s grandparents wouldn’t mind the way Hyuuga’s voice was echoing down the hall. On the other hand, if Teppei’s sense of humor ran in the family, maybe they’d just be amused.

Teppei wasn’t laughing, though. He was looking up at Hyuuga with a small smile and soft eyes. “Thank you for being worried about me.”

Hyuuga’s outrage collapsed and he slumped back down, looking away. “I’m not worried, I’m pissed off,” he muttered, and Riko just had to roll her eyes. When Hyuuga looked back at Teppei, though, the pain and worry darkening his eyes were so obvious it made her breath catch, and she saw Teppei’s hand twitch, starting to reach out before he stopped himself.

Abruptly, Riko decided she’d had enough. She’d watched them dance this dance for two years now, circling around their love of the game, and the friction between their different ways of being serious, and the brilliant liquid flow of their teamwork together on the court—always partners and never saying it, Hyuuga never admitting why Teppei got under his skin, Teppei never pushing. That was more than long enough. “Okay, look,” she sighed, “you two are boys, and therefore idiots, so I’m going to help you out here.” She leaned over and gave Hyuuga a shove toward Teppei. “Just kiss him already!”

They both gaped at her. Boys; honestly.

“But I… you…” Hyuuga sputtered. “Riko, you’re…”

She scooted her cushion across the floor until she could take his shoulders. “Hyuuga-kun,” she interrupted gently. “How long have we been friends?”

“Seven years, now, I guess,” he answered slowly, frowning at her. She shook him a little.

“You don’t honestly think you’re going to lose me if you and Teppei finally make this official, do you?”

He looked down at her and asked quietly, “Just friends?”

Riko bit her lip. “I can’t be on the court with you.” And she’s always known that was what would make the critical difference, with Hyuuga, basketball idiot that he was even when he was in denial about it. It was why Teppei had reached him, two years ago, when she hadn’t been able to.

“You’re our coach, of course you’re with me on the court,” Hyuuga argued stubbornly. “Riko… you can’t tell me we aren’t sharing our thoughts, out there.”

“As captain and coach, sure, but—”

“Riko, you know I wouldn’t get in between you and Hyuuga,” Teppei cut in, so earnestly that both she and Hyuuga glared at him.

“You keep quiet!” they snapped together, and Teppei smiled and held up his hands peaceably.

“Definitely sharing your thoughts,” he murmured, though.

Riko froze, staring at him. He smiled back, calm and sunny, and she knew perfectly well that he was trying to give this to her, give Hyuuga to her. But his words made her think of something different.

Sharing. Sharing thoughts. Sharing feelings, all right, yes, she admitted she and Hyuuga had been very close for a long time, even if it always seemed to be other players who held the hottest parts of his attention. She knew they’d shared the same feelings when Teppei was hurt. If they felt the same way… If they both felt the same way…

She looked back and forth between Hyuuga and Teppei, thoughtfully. Hyuuga, who she’d known since elementary school, who was passionate about things the same way she was, who thought with her and followed her and looked at her with a hidden smile in his eyes. Teppei, who tried to fit years of living and knowing into months, who burned so bright under his easy smile that he’d drawn both Riko and Hyuuga in, who had wanted her fire, and Hyuuga’s, wanted them so much it made her heart hurt to think about. Slowly, Riko smiled.

“That could work,” she finally pronounced.

Hyuuga, with years of experience, was instantly wary. “What could work?”

Riko folded her hands demurely. “Sharing.”

Hyuuga frowned at Teppei, who blinked back at him, equally puzzled. “Sharing wha… wait.” Hyuuga’s eyes widened. “Kantoku. You’re not thinking what I think you’re thinking are you?”

He was actually blushing, and Riko grinned. “Why not?”

“Why not?” Hyuuga waved his hands as if to indicate the enormity of ‘why’, and Riko reached out to catch one.

He stilled at once.

She took a deep breath and reached out her other hand to lay it over Teppei’s. “Why not?” she asked again, softer, looking back and forth between them. The thought unfolded wider and wider in her head until it felt like it was taking over her heart, too. Something that wouldn’t make Hyuuga choose. That wouldn’t leave her out. That wouldn’t make Teppei do anything stupid like sacrificing what he wanted. Teppei turned his hand over to hold hers, and hope leaped up, only to crash headlong into his earnest, understanding smile.

“Riko, you’re the one Hyuuga wants, not me.”

Riko was pulling in a deep, deep breath to argue, or maybe to scream a bit first, when Hyuuga made an intensely aggravated sound.

“You don’t believe in yourself,” he stormed at Teppei. “You never believe in yourself! Everyone else in the whole universe, you can believe in, but never yourself! Idiot!” His free hand flashed out, catching a fistful of Teppei’s shirt, and he growled, “I told you once that I’d believe for you. Fine. I can do it again.” He hauled Teppei to him, or maybe himself to Teppei, and kissed him fiercely.

Riko had to blink back a sudden rush of tears at that, and blotted them with the back of her hand, not letting go of Teppei. “Boys,” she whispered. “Such idiots.”

She’d been right after all; she couldn’t do this without Hyuuga.

Teppei just stared as Hyuuga drew back to glare at him, which did nothing to hide how flushed he was now. “But…” Teppei started, low and hesitant. “Is it really…?” He looked over at Riko, who gave him an only slightly watery smile and scooted closer so she could lean against his shoulder.

“Yeah,” she said softly. “Really.” The careful way Teppei wrapped an arm around her, and the wonder in his eyes when he looked down at her, nearly made her cry again. So she tugged on Hyuuga’s hand, and grinned up at him. “So hey. Where’s my kiss?”

Hyuuga turned twice as red, and Teppei stifled a laugh against her hair. But after a deep breath, Hyuuga leaned in with one hand still braced on Teppei’s shoulder and kissed her very softly. The tenderness of it made her blush a little, too.

The sight of both of them flustered seemed to bring Teppei back a bit to his normal self, and he declared brightly. “Well then! Let’s have an excellent springtime of our youth!” He grinned innocently at their expressions.

Riko exchanged a look of perfect understanding and agreement with Hyuuga, and they both tackled Teppei to the floor, ticking him mercilessly. When his grandmother came to ask whether Riko and Hyuuga would stay for dinner they were in a tangle of cushions, Teppei’s hair wildly rumpled, and Hyuuga’s glasses knocked askew.

All of three them were laughing.


A/N: In hanakotoba, anemone indicate sincerity.

Last Modified: Sep 17, 13
Posted: Sep 19, 12
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    1. Icon for BranchBranch Post author

      Exactly! They are made to be together! (Because otherwise, I’m convinced, Riko would run right over Kiyoshi, and Kiyoshi would tease Hyuuga into killing him.)

  1. Lys

    I’ve always struggled with which pair to root for with these three… this really does make sense. You map things out so well!
    Also loved the little Kagami/Kuroko snippet 🙂