Chapter 02

Chapter Two

Kuroko was treating himself to a vanilla shake for a job well done during the practice match against the upper classmen when Kagami slid into the booth across from him, carrying a tray laden with burgers.

He took another sip of his shake, waiting for the redhead to notice him. When it happened, Kuroko had to fight not to laugh at the shock on Kagami’s face. “What are you doing here?”

“I was sitting here first,” Kuroko said.

“Go somewhere else,” Kagami said. “I don’t want people to see us and think we’re friends.” He unwrapped a hamburger and bit into it.

“I don’t want to,” Kuoko said. “Besides, this is my usual hangout.” For once, his impassive expression served its purpose. Kagami’s words had hurt a little, but Kuroko was used to brushing stuff like that off.

Besides, he’d done what he’d wanted to earlier. Kagami could no longer ignore the fact that he had skills, even if they were of a completely different kind.

Kagami sighed and tossed a burger at him. “Here,” he said, “you earned that.”

Kuroko blinked. “Thank you,” he said. It seemed Kagami wasn’t as tough as he tried to appear. Kuroko hid a smile as he bit into the burger.

They ate in silence and left together. Kuroko wasn’t really sure how they’d come to an unspoken agreement to walk together, but he wasn’t complaining. It gave him a chance to get to know more about the fiery redhead.

“I heard about them,” Kagami said. “The Generation of Miracles.”

“Ah.” So that’s what it was. Kagami was just going to pump him for information. Kuroko couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed that the redhead didn’t want to know more about him, but he couldn’t blame him. Not really. After all, all he’d shown Kagami so far was that he could fool people with his passes. There was more to him than that, of course, but it took time for a shadow to reveal itself.

“They’re strong, right? How would I do if I went up against them as I am now?” Kagami asked, the excitement in his voice almost tangible.

Kuroko considered the question for a moment, before he said, “From what I’ve seen, you wouldn’t even reach their feet.”

“That’s harsh,” Kagami said.

Kuroko shrugged. “Each of the five prodigies have gone on to play for their own schools. And they all have a unique ability.”

“I’ve decided,” Kagami said, pulling up short. “I’m going to defeat the Generation of Miracles and become the best in Japan.”

Kuroko smiled. Kagami’s determination was what had won him over. He’d come to Seirin, expecting to find something different than Teiko. Not necessarily better, but Kagami had surpassed all of his expectations. He hopped across the street in front of Kagami onto the sidewalk. “I’ve also decided,” he said. “I’m a shadow. But the stronger the light, the darker the shadow, and the more it accentuates the brightness of the light. I will be the shadow to your light and make you the best player in Japan.”

Kagami eyed him a moment. “Do what you want,” he said.

“Mm.” The two split at the next intersection and Kuroko walked home alone, humming out of tune. It had been a good day, especially as it had ended with him finding a new goal to reach towards.

He’d already become a shadow. Now it was time to prove to himself and to Kagami that he could make them the best in Japan through the special skill-set he’d honed to perfection.

When Kise showed up during pratice, Kuroko wasn’t surprised. The model had always liked to involve himself in other’s business. But the two of them had gone to middle school together, so Kuroko couldn’t find it in him to be rude to the guy. “It’s good to see you,” he said, even though he didn’t really feel it.

“It’s good to see you, too,” Kise replied, before asking his fangirls to give him five minutes. His popularity never phased him.

Kuroko, on the other hand, would hate to be that popular. It would undermine his entire lifestyle. He shot a sidelong glance towards Kagami. No, there was only one person he wanted to have notice him. And it wasn’t Kise.

“What are you doing here?” One of the Seirin upperclassmen asked. Kuroko hadn’t been part of the team long enough to memorize everyone’s name.

“I heard we were having a practice match against Seirin and I remembered Kurokocchi came here. We were the best of friends in middle school,” Kise said.

Kuroko blinked. “Not more so than anyone else,” he said. At Teiko, he’d made it a point not to get too close to anyone. Doing so would have made it impossible for him to become the player he was. Focusing on his own abilities, the way Teiko’s coach insisted they all did, was the reason he’d become strong.

Kise didn’t appreciate the words. “So mean, Kurokocchi!” he said, overplaying the comment to make it seem crueler than it had been.

“Kise Ryota. Started playing in his second year of middle school and is a rapidly improving all-rounder.” It was another of the upperclassmen, who’d been reading the interviews done of the Generation of Miracles just last year.

Kise shook his head. “That interview plays thing up quite a bit. Out of all five of us, I’m the weakest of the bunch. Kurocchi and I got made fun of for it in middle school.”

“I don’t remember it like that,” Kuroko said. None of the members of the Generation of Miracles had made fun of him or looked down at him after he’d shown them what he could do when it came to passing the ball.

“What, it was just me?” Kise asked, but before he could say anything else a ball came flying from the side of the court at him and he caught it. “Ow, what was that for?”

Kagami grinned from where he’d thrown the ball. “Come play with me, little man,” he said.

Kuroko managed not to laugh, but it was a close thing. Kagami’s intense desire to beat the Generation of Miracles was impressive, but it was a bit scary sometimes, too. He frowned. He didn’t know if it was a good idea for the two of them to go one-on-one right now, what with Kise’s ability to copy nearly any move.

Kise accepted the challenge and scored an easy basket against Kagami with the move he’d seen Kagami do before he’d approached Kuroko. He stared in contempt at the man on the floor in front of him before walking over to Kuroko. “After seeing something so pathetic, I can’t stay silent,” he said. He held out his hands toward Kuroko. “Give us Kurokocchi.”

A collective gasp came from the Seirin basketball team.

Kuroko’s eyes tracked Kise across the court. He’d expected the model to try to oust him from Seirin sooner. That it had taken him this long to get up the nerve said a lot about how much Kuroko’s decision had affected him.

“Come play with us,” Kise said. “Your talent is wasted on a team like this.”

Kuroko shook his head. “I’m sorry, but I must respectfully decline your offer,” he said.

“What?” Kise asked. “Why? Winning was everything!”

“Teiko was strong,” Kuroko agreed. “But it wasn’t a team. Besides, I’ve already made a promise with Kagami.”

“What promise?”

“To help him beat the Generation of Miracles,” Kuroko said. And while he’d made the promise pretty carelessly the other night, he was finding that he really wanted to put his old teammates in their place. He wanted to show them that individual strength wasn’t enough to win on the courts-not all the time. That winning wasn’t what made a team strong.

Kise stared at him. “You’re joking, right?”

Kagami laughed from where he’d fallen on the court. “Kuroko, I was going to say that.”

Kise’s gaze flickered between the two of them.

Kuroko spoke, then. “I still have no sense of humor,” he said. “I’m serious.”

Chapter 1     Chapter Index

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