Chapter 01

Chapter One

Kuroko was aware of how others saw his basketball. Everyone viewed him as weak, at first, because he didn’t possess the technical skills they did. But the one skill he did have-passing-was honed to perfection.

He’d learned in middle school that he wasn’t the kind of basketball player who could jump high and smash dunks into the basket. Or the kind with the speed to run full-tilt across the court and get a lay-up before the other team could blink.

He couldn’t do any of that. He didn’t have the build or the skills for it and wasn’t ashamed to admit it. But he loved basketball. And there was one thing he did better than anyone else. He watched people.

And he’d developed his lack of presence, turning it into a weapon. He hadn’t been born with it; it had come from years of watching other people in his life. The other people on his basketball team, his classmates, his parents and family-all of them had shown him what people paid attention to and what they ignored.

And he’d decided, when he joined Teiko Middle School, that he was going to be a shadow. Not just in basketball, but in every aspect of his life. Kuroko expected to be lonely; it was a price he was ready to pay because shadows weren’t meant to be seen.

Being seen was antithema to him. So when Kagami told him that he had no scent-neither strong nor weak-Kuroko had been so happy that he’d challenged the tall red-head before he’d even known he was doing it.

For someone like Kagami to be unable to judge his strength had been like a dream come true for him, because it meant he was becoming the shadow he dreamt of being.

Kagami, of course, hadn’t been pleased when he’d seen how technically weak Kuroko’s basketball was. But that was okay with Kuroko because he’d seen how strong Kagami was a player and it had lit a fire inside him that none of the Teiko prodigies had managed to ignite.

“You should quit basketball,” Kagami had told him. “No matter how much you practice, it’s impossible for someone with so little talent to play.”

“I don’t accept that,” Kuroko had said. “First of all, I love basketball.”

Kagami’s glare had nearly undone him then, even as he kept his face impassive. “And second of all,” Kuroko had continued, “I’m not like you. I’m a shadow.”

Kuroko hadn’t meant to say that last bit out loud. It had just slipped out. Because he wanted to play basketball with Kagami. He wanted to make the redhead shine by standing in his shadow so that the spotlight was never aimed at him.

But he had said it. And Kagami had given him a look, that, to anyone else, wouldn’t have made any sense. But it had warmed Kuroko. Because that look told him that Kagami hadn’t completely given up on him. That there was still a chance for Kuroko to prove himself. And that made him happy, because, for the first time in his life, he wanted to be seen.

And he wanted to be seen by Kagami.

Chapter Index     Chapter 2

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