Day 3 - Flowers/You’re beautiful, you know that?
Summary: Riko has self-doubts. There’s nothing Hyuuga has ever doubted about her (besides her cooking).
Relationship: Aida Riko/Hyuuga Junpei
Author’s Note: I know I’m late, but my fics wanted to cause trouble and end up longer than I intended, so I’m hecticly trying to get through them. This is the first one I was able to finish, and my first time ever posting a fic for Kuroko no Basket. Hope you guys like it!
Hyuuga is worried.
It’s not a particularly new feeling. He was worried when Kiyoshi got injured. He was worried they wouldn’t get any new recruits when their second year started. He’s been in a non-stop state of worry over losing his damn mind since they did get new recruits, and they all turned out to be little shits he regularly wants to beat the crap out of.
He’s never been worried about Aida Riko.
The toxic waste she calls food, yes, (Kagami’s been helping in that regard, so maybe he won’t have to risk dying just to spare her feelings anymore) but never Riko herself. Riko has only ever been strong, it’s one thing he’s always been able to count on, but earlier today she looked…frail.
Not pale, not ill, not malnourished. Hyuuga has seen her be all of those things at one point or another, but her resolve never once wavered. The strength of her mind, her character, everything that makes up the Riko he fears, admires, and lo—respects, seemed to have vanished. The Riko of today looked as if saying one wrong thing to her could shatter her into pieces.
So yeah, he’s worried. Even more so when he walks into their fifth class—ten minutes late because he had to speak with another teacher about a failed assignment—to find her usual seat empty. He gets scolded by their English teacher, and informed of what pages of grammar exercises to complete for the first half of class, before taking his usual seat by Koganei and Mitobe.
“Where’s Riko?” Hyuuga asks gruffly.
Koganei shrugs, brows furrowed in concentration. English has always been his worst subject.
Hyuuga clenches his jaw. He doesn’t know how to deal with things like this. It’s one of those situations that makes him wish he were more like Kiyoshi.
Kiyoshi’s an instigating bastard that likes to pretend he’s an airhead, but he always seems to know what people need. Hyuuga has never been good with other people—he’s not even sure how he’s managed to keep Izuki as a friend for so many years. He doesn’t even know how to ask someone what’s wrong without sounding like a dick.
Should he make an excuse to leave class and go find her?
What does Riko do when she’s upset? Where would she go?
Kiyoshi probably knows stuff like that.
He’s spent so much time trying to avoid certain aspects of his relationship with Riko that he’s realizing he may have neglected some very important other ones.
Koganei’s distraught voice breaks him out of his downward spiral.
“Rinn, for the last time, I don’t need your help. I’m gonna figure it—what?” Hyuuga leans over, catching Mitobe as he cuts Koga off with a serious of flustered gestures and a melancholy expression. “Oh.Oh.”
Koganei turns to him then, eyes somber.
Hyuuga feels a twinge of panic crawl up his spine. “What?”
“Mitobe says he might know where Riko is.”
He gives Koganei a ‘go on’ look, but the cat-mouthed boy just looks uncomfortable, shifting in his seat. Hyuuga promptly loses his patience.
“Am I gonna have to beat it out of you?”
He can tell Koganei wants to roll his eyes, but meets him with a serious expression instead.
“He said she’s probably at her mom’s grave.”
Hyuuga is silent and still for what feels like an impossibly long time. “Her mom’s…dead?”
Koganei turns to Mitobe, translating his ‘sign language’. “Yeah, a few years ago today.”
Hyuuga…doesn’t understand. Why wouldn’t he know something like this?
“She told you this?”
“No, he was looking up Kagetora-san and found articles from that year.”
Hyuuga leans back in his seat, mind wandering. He hasn’t opened his workbook, hasn’t even unzipped his bag.
He’s never asked Riko about her family. They’ve talked about her dad, of course, ever since Hyuuga found out who he was, but she’s never mentioned her mother.
Kiyoshi would know about Riko’s mom, because he would have asked. He’d know where to find her. He’d know how to console her.
“Fuck,” he curses under his breath, quickly gathering his bag. Mitobe and Koganei peer up at him, startled.
He ignores them, and their teacher’s disgruntled call of “Hyuuga-san!”, rushing out of the classroom. He doesn’t stop for anyone who calls out to him on his way out of the building, his thoughts swirling around and taunting him.
If Kiyoshi were here, he wouldn’t have let her out of his sight until he figured out the problem, and tried one of his patented Kiyoshi fix-it disasters that somehow always end up working.
If Kiyoshi were here, she wouldn’t have had to deal with this on her own.
If Kiyoshi were here…Hyuuga clenches his fists.
Sometimes, he feels like he’s the one who should’ve gone to America.
Sometimes, he wishes Kiyoshi was the one in love with Riko.
“Romantic feelings toward Riko? Oh no, not at all. Don’t get me wrong, I love her. I love you. You guys are my best friends.”
“Oh. Thanks, I guess?”
“Also, I’m very gay.”
Hyuuga spits out his drink. Kiyoshi just laughs, clapping him on the back and handing him a napkin.
Hyuuga finds her fairly easily. He always does.
It took less five minutes to find an article that mentioned which cemetery Riko’s mom is buried in, and with only one stop on the way, the trip was only about forty minutes in total. Upon arriving to the ornate cemetery gates, he’d spotted a head of short, caramel colored hair and their school uniform almost immediately, way up on one of the highest points of the lot.
He scales the hill, approaching a large, grey marble headstone cautiously, making just enough noise to alert Riko of his presence. He stops a few feet away from where she’s sitting with her knees hugged to her chest.
She doesn’t turn to face him, but addresses him all the same. “Hi Hyuuga.”
“How’d you know it was me?” He responds, softly for once.
“I saw you walking up to the gate.” Riko’s voice sounds thick with emotion. Grief.
He nods. Without another word, he bends down to gingerly place the bundle of flowers against the stone. He sits himself down down by Riko, close enough for comfort, but far enough not to crowd her space.
“Ah. Thank you.”
Hyuuga shakes his head. “I’m sorry I didn’t know.”
Riko laughs weakly. “How could you have? It’s not like I go around broadcasting it.”
He wants to argue that he could’ve paid better attention, even done the slightest bit of research on her father like Mitobe apparently did, but this isn’t about him.
“She was a beautiful woman.” He acknowledges the photo resting against the stone. It’s of Riko’s father and a short-haired woman smiling with a smaller Riko in her arms.
“She was, wasn’t she? She was an amazing mom. Always there for me, encouraging me to do or be whatever made me feel best. Driven, too. She was well on her way to becoming one of the best family lawyers in Tokyo. My dad was obsessed with her.” Riko laughs. Hyuuga can definitely imagine that. “It was always such a nice thing to witness, two people loving each other as much as they did.”
They sit in silence for a few moments. There’s a gentle breeze in the air, and the wafting smell of the lilies he brought permeates the air around them.
“Sometimes I think I’ll never have what they had.”
“Most guys are afraid of girls like me, like my mom. Ones who are intelligent, ambitious, headstrong,” Riko plucks at her t-shirt. “Who look like thirteen year old boys without a skirt and hair clip. And the boys who aren’t afraid of girls like me are usually weirdos like my dad.” She shivers, wrapping her arms around her legs again.
Hyuuga gazes at her side profile. There’s so many things he wants to say, but he’s not sure if he should say any of them at all, if he even can.
He thinks about how they met. How she helped them form the team that changed all of their lives for the better. He thinks of Saturday afternoons spent shopping, after school study sessions, her father’s knowing glare.
How she trusts him to cut her hair.
Of ordering food and knowing each other’s preferences.
Shared smiles, lingering eye contact, brief touches.
He thinks of everything he knows about her, everything he doesn’t, and how he’s going to bring that gap. He thinks and thinks and thinks, but he isn’t saying anything, and he knows that he has to say something.
His heart races. “I’m not afraid of you.”
Riko scoffs. “Are too.”
Hyuuga nods, because yeah, he is, but that’s not what he meant. “Well yeah, obviously I’m afraid of you. You’re a scary ass coach, but,” He takes a deep, shaky breath, and decides to follow through. “I’m more afraid of losing you as a friend than anything else. Any guy worth a damn would feel the same.”
Riko looks at him then, really looks at him. As if she’s doing one of her scans. He tries not to swallow nervously. He’s getting closer and closer to confession territory. After a painfully long and intense stare down, she gives him a small, barely there smile.
“You don’t have to be afraid of that.” Riko stands, brushing the dirt and grass off of her knee high socks and skirt. “Thank you, for bringing the flowers. And for being here.”
There’s no place I’d rather be.
On the walk home, there’s a river bank with stone ledges. Riko trots ahead of him, climbing up on the ledge to walk across like a tightrope.
The sun is setting, and it casts a brilliant light around them, dancing off of the water. Riko leans her head back as she walks, smiling softly with the sunlight shining behind her like a halo. Hyuuga blushes.
He isn’t Kiyoshi. He never will be, doesn’t want to be, but there are certain things he can appreciate about the sneaky bastard.
Kiyoshi would tell her how he feels.
“For the record, I don’t think you look like a thirteen year old boy, ever.” He’s ashamed to say he mumbles the last part, cheeks flaming and facing away from Riko. “I think you’re beautiful.”
It’s still not a confession, but it’s about as much as he can take for the day, and piggybacking off of her feelings over her deceased mother just feels wrong. It’s enough for him to try and assuage any lingering doubts she has about herself.
When he finally works up the courage to face her again, Riko is peering at him with a curious expression. He’s more interested in the tinted color of her cheeks, though, and how her eyes seem to say what neither of them could probably ever manage.
But when she hops down from the ledge, fitting herself into his personal space and letting their hands graze each other lightly, he knows that nothing really needs to be said.
(Except maybe a thank you to Kiyoshi, for entangling himself into Hyuuga’s life so thoroughly that he can use him as a comforting standard, but he’ll die before ever letting Kiyoshi know about that.)