the girl in a wheelchair
That was how any foreigner would describe the view of the sakura trees blossoming and the verdure that stretched out at Seirin Private High School's entrance. But the girl in front of the school's portal didn't think any of it. Because she was late.
So damn late.
She was supposed to arrive in the morning but with the strike going on, she went to another flight and finally get to Tokyo... At 1:30 P.M.
Great. What a way to start your first day here.
Fortunately for her, the school seemed to be aware of this situation, judging by the kind smile the kouchou was giving her. Maybe it was because he was happy to have a new student coming from another country who had good marks... Or maybe it was pity since she looked so tired after 17 hours of flight.
Or maybe both.
At least, she made a good first impression to the kouchou. It was hard to get used to japanese traditions but she didn't forget to put her sailor fuku before arriving there and she did bow before presenting herself and used the appropriate suffix. By the time their discussion was over, they were in front of what was gonna be her class for the rest of the year :
To say that Kagami Taiga was bored was an understatement. It was Japanese language class, the worst class of all for him and there was still an hour left. An hour. At least, he wasn't that tired anymore after the whole lunch thing Coach and the senpais organized. All he could think about now was the preliminary tournament... That and also the fact that he had to go the faculty office after classes. It wasn't his fault if his game against that damn Kise had been so intense ! Meanwhile, that bastard Kuroko didn't get caught.
Did misdirection even work on senseis ?!
He heard the door opening and at the the sight of the kouchou – he remembered his face after the lecture he gave on the roof during lunch break –, he woke up Kuroko who was still sleeping and stood up.
"You may sit down."
Having a kouchou visiting a class was quite unusual... But that only meant two thing : 1. someone was going to get expelled or 2...
"Everyone, I'm here to announce you the arrival of a new foreigner student. I do hope you will welcome her properly and help her with her condition." he said. Whispers began to fill the room. 'A girl ?' 'Do you think she's cute ?' could be heard. Silence fell again when the kouchou continued : "You can enter now." The said girl did so but everyone was suprised to see that she was on a wheelchair and that she was obviously struggling with it.
"Hajimemashite. My name is Masuko Miyuki and I'm from France. I do hope we will get along as classmates and enjoy this year together. Please take care of me," she finished before bowing on her wheelchair.
"I also came here to ask to you to have at least always one student with her until her conditions are better. I will also ask you to make arrangements and...
Taiga wasn't even listening anymore and stood frozen. Kuroko probably saw his teammate's attitude was slightly curious (because his interest towards girls was near zero).
"Masuko, please take the sit next to Kagami." said the sensei.
Masuko Miyuki... Masuko. Emilie. No it can't be.
But immediatly after looking her blue eyes and that serious yet calm look, he knew. But how ? How can she even be here, in a wheelchair.
"Well, hello Taiga", said the girl in english with a small smirk.
"YOU !" he managed to whisper "But – HOW?"
She threw him a half smile, that damn half smile she and Tatsuya used everytime they had something mischievous in their minds. He couldn't believe it but he had missed it so much "I promise, I'll will explain to you after classes. We still have an hour, right ?"
Kuroko Tetsuya was good with human observation : not only it was one of his hobby but also one of his main weapons. Which was why he found the way Masuko-san was able to shut down Kagami-kun impressive. It wasn't the fact itself that amazed him because Coach and Captain was able to do it as well. It was because unlike the other times, he wasn't boiling with anger. He seemed... worried. And he couldn't stop looking at Masuko-san. And it was obvious she noticed it too because 15 minutes later, she whispered 'Stop doing that !' as he immediately complied.
It was highly amusing to see Kagami-kun toss and turn like he wanted to go to the bathroom and looking at the clock every thirty seconds. Finally for his teammate, the bell rang and he immediately pushed Masuko-san's wheelchair to go somewhere else and talk.
"Emilie, what the hell are you doing here ! And what happened to you ?" shouted Kagami-kun in what appeared to be english. He only recognized a few words but Kagami-kun almost looked hysterical.
"Taiga... Still as brash as ever." He saw Masuko-san giving to Kagami-kun the same soft look Momoi-san had when they were discussing about them before... before everything. It was full of nostalgia and maybe even melancholia. "Calm down, I'll explain everything to you. But first, you could introduce me to your friend." she continued, finishing her sentence in japanese.
He was slightly surprised to hear he had been noticed "You can see him ? Like, right now ?"
"Of course I can see him, he's standing right here." She raised her head to watch him. No, not exactly him, he had the feeling she was watching his eyes and the brief intensity in her gaze made him unconfortable. "Don't you remember ? I'm good at observing people. Blame it on Sherlock Holmes." Hearing this, Kagami-kun sighed. Did Masuko-san like detective stories as well ? "Though I must say his eyes are really noticeable to me. I can already tell you are one of the kind."
He felt something he didn't feel since months, maybe years. Happiness ? Or maybe something else. He didn't know what but now that he was looking at her deep blue eyes, he saw something familiar yet different.
"My name is Masuko Miyuki. I'm Taiga's best friend. What about you ?" Masuko bowed and offered him her hand and he remembered it was the western Coast way to greet someone. That explained why she had a few caucasian physical traits.
He stayed silent followed for seconds before he finally answered and shook her hand back. "Gomen nasai. My name is Kuroko Tetsuya. Kagami-kun's is my teammate in the basketball team. I'm his shadow."
Masuko-san semmed confused, "Uh ?"
"Idiot, you can't just go around and tell people you're my shadow !" shouted Kagami-kun.
The blank face she had – no, not blank like him more like polite – changed into something like recognition "I see. You're Taiga's partner !"
Kagami-kun was frantic "Just tell me what's going on, damn it ! And why are you on... on –
He knew what was happening. Kagami-kun couldn't tell the rest of his sentence. He couldn't because that would mean accepting it. He knew Kagami-kun since a few weeks but he knew that would never happen. Kagami-kun, despite of his intimitating exterior was someone with a warm heart.
"Please, don't finish your sentence." Masuko-san understood that as well, that was why she stopped him. "It's not as horrible as it seems. I won't stay on this wheelchair forever, it's just a matter of weeks !" interrupted Masuko-san. She even forced a small smile on her face to reassure him. Masuko-san seemed to be a gentle person. "I was supposed to walk on crutches but the pain in my leg is too strong. My anterior cruciate ligament tears is quite serious and... I may won't be able to play sports again." she finished in a whisper.
"Emilie... You –
"Cheer up, Taiga ! I was supposed to move out here after the end of scholar year. I didn't tell you because I wanted to keep you the surprise. But with this, I'll have my surgery and my physical therapy here... Anyway," she continued, a grin appearing on her face "I don't regret having this injury, since I did it."
She revealed the thing around the neck hidden under her uniform. It was a medal. Since it was not written in Japanese, he didn't understand the exact meaning but he had the general idea... The number '1' carved on it... The golden color... It looked like the reflection of their own dream. His dream.
"I won the championship."
"Wow, amazing ! You did it, Emilie." That time, she was grinning and he wondered if one day, he could smile like her as well.
"I did it... I became #1 in France." She watched him, the grin turning into a soft smile again, "since I began to play football, I aimed this title. I tried and tried my hardest in middle school but my efforts were fruitless. I finally did it. I did it for my first year and last year of highschool in France."
"I'm glad Masuko-san could made it." Her story showed that hard training was always leading to something. He wanted to believe that again, he truly wanted. That was why what she said was somehow comforting.
Kagami-kun's mood drastically changed and he was the Kagami-kun he appreciated the most. The one so determintated to win, "Now you can watch me become the #1 player in Japan."
He allowed himself to slightly smile. "I... was wondering. Why is Kagami-kun calling Masuko-san like that ?"
"Ah, this." She wasn't exactly happy about the question but she wasn't irratated by it neither. More like tired, if he heard right the tone she had used. "I'm a mixed-race child. My parents gave me two names : Emilie Miyuki."
"Miyuki is in fact her middle name !"
"I thought it would be easier to use this name here since I can't see people pronounce properly Emilie. It was the same when I was in France or in America with Miyuki."
"She's right you know. Even I can't say Emilie in the french way... This language is too hard to learn.", completed Kagami-kun.
"Wha – Well, I guess it's true.", she marked a pause before continuing "I wanted to ask... Are club activities after classes really obligatory in Japan ? I read that before coming here."
"Hai, they –
Wait. Club activities... After classes... Sports... Basket... Training... Training session ! We're late for the training session.
Kagami-kun was shaking with fear, "Kuroko ! Coach and Captain are going to kill us." He felt the same though he wasn't as vocal as him about it. Coach's wrath was truly terrible.
Masuko-san looked at them, puzzled "What are you –
She didn't even have the time to finish her sentence that Kagami-kun was running and rolling her wheelchair like crazy "Taiga, slow doooown !"
He was now sure Masuko-san would make this year even more unique.
"...If we lose, we're out We can't let our guard down for a single game. We were only one step away from reaching last year, but we'll definitly –
Hearing the sound of hurried steps, Junpei stopped.
These idiots ! Arriving late at a training. A training to prepare them for the preliminaries of the Inter High on top of that !
They wouldn't die because Riko wasn't here but they would suffer because he was here "YOU ARE GONNA PAY FO –
He finally laid his eyes on them like the rest of the team did and he stopped.
Why is there is girl in a wheelchair with them ? was the question in his mind. In everyone's mind probably.
"Gomen nasai. It's my fault, I was talking to them", she apologized, bowing. She looked cute and really polite as well. And not totally japanese... Was she an international student ? "Hajimemashite, my name is Masuko Miyuki, I'm a new student. I'm Taiga's best friend !" she continued, showing Kagami with her head at her last sentence.
Tai...ga, uh ?
Wait, like in Kagami Taiga ? "UUUH ! How did you manage to be friend with her ?"
Kagami was offended. "Oi ! What's that supposed to mean ?!... Sir" He didn't even care.
The girl on the wheelchair with them sighed, "It means it's strange that someone lacking delicacy and understanding in women could have one as best friend."
Kagami's face was burning with horror and embarrassment and he thought he never laughed this hard.
This is the best thing that ever happened !
"Kagami-kun's face is really red."
"SHUT UP !" Hahahahahahaha, how could Kuroko say something like that with that face ? And Kagami's face.
Trying to stop to laugh, he finally managed to say "I like her ! I'll forgive you for this time." It was the first time the team saw Kagami being that embarrassed.
Being serious again, Junpei continued his interrupted speech "Anyway. We've got three weeks until the Inter High preliminaries. We'll be facing a lot of strong schools in this district, especially... The biggest and strongest opponent in the district, Shutoku High. They were in the top eight last year... On top of that, just like Kaijo they recruited a player of the Generation of Miracles. If we can't defeat that super strong school, we won't get a ticket to the Nationals !"
"Kuroko... You know what kind of guy he is, right ?" He was curious about it as well.
"This is probably not something you can believe with just words... But... Just like Kise-kun said in the beginning, the other four are on a different class. If he has improved even more since then... I cannot imagine his level now."
He had no doubt about it. And this Masuko raised her eyebrows. She looked like she didn't know what they were talking about. But it was strange, wasn't it ? She was Kagami's best friend, right ?
"In order to challenge Shutoku, we have to start by winning our first match ! Let's fire up and go for it !"
"Speaking of which, where's the Coach ?" Riko always arrived her first so that was strange.
"Well.. It seems our opponent in the first match is having a training match nearby so she went to check on them."
He heard the door of the gym and he didn't even need to turn his back to know it was her. "Speak of the devil."
"I'm back..." Riko said before noticing Masuko "Um... Who are you ?"
"Could you tell us more about you ?"
"Do you have embarrassing stories of Kagami ?"
More questions by the team were asked. He sighed again but he didn't say anything. He would not admit outloud he wanted to hear Kagami's embarrassing stories (not in Riko's presence at least or she would smack his head).
After training, Taiga insisted to take her back home. Even if she said she could handle herself – and she meant it –, Miyuki was more than delighted to spend time with her best friend again. Rolling her wheelchair, he listened to her instructions to take her back home and was surprised to find out that she lived very close to his apartment...Very, very close.
Looking at the map given to her, she smiled. "It seems like it's here !" She remembered the pictures papa took.
Silence was her only answer until Taiga shouted "Your home is in front of mine ! You just could've said that !"
She quietly answered to defend herself "I didn't know, I arrived this afternoon. I was supposed to arrive in the morning but -
"There's a strike going on ?!..."
"There is a strike going on."
She gave the keys to Taiga so he could open the door, her leg still too painful to even slightly move it. She saw her suitcases in the hallway, already there since months, papa putting them there when visiting the appartment to buy it. "Where is everyone else ?"
Ah yes, her family... It was strange for her to come come and not having her loud sister greeting her or her little brother inviting her to play with him. Taiga probably wanted to see them again, especially papa.
"Still in France. School there ends at the beginning of July, so I think they'll come at the end of August, just to be sure to finish their businesses there." ... and to go to the beach, certainly.
"I almost forgot Japan has a weird school calendar."
Ah, yes. He lived here since two years already so he was getting used to it "Exactly. Why Japan had to make the start of the academic year now ? I wanted to have a taste of two month holidays for once last time," she ended sheepishly.
"Uh ? But you like school !"
"Yes." As strange as it was for certain people, she did liked it. "But who doesn't love holidays ?"
"Ah... I guess you're right."
"So, what are you waiting for ? Come in."
Rolling to the living room, Miyuki took a look of her new apartment. Because it was planned for her family – and not only her –, it was quite spacious. There were five bedrooms and she was the only one present: that meant she would get to choose the one with the best view. But right now, she was so tired she would sleep anywhere.
At the same time, she was just so happy to see him and she had plenty to say "You're really tall now. I remember we had same height 4 years ago." She said it last year when he went to see her and she said it again. How in the world did little Taiga became this tall, strong young man ?
"That's right ! Weren't you always mocking me for that ?"
Okay, he's still the same inside, she thought, moping.
Her height was still a sensible subject, since she thought of herself as not tall enough (everyone on her team was so tall it was unfair). "It's weird to see each other face to face again. I mean, we still talked a lot through e-mails but... it's not the same, you know."
She smiled, understanding what he meant "I know. It's good to see your face for real again."
Taiga blushed and looked away. "Geez, why are you and Kuroko always say such embarrassing things ?"
That time, she giggled "You're still the same. Talking about feelings still embarrass you ! I don't understand why, it's okay to voice your feelings", she replied, amused to see him getting even more embarrassed. She changed topic to save him from embarrassment, "I see you got yourself an interesting partner." She remembered him talking about "a weird guy who looks weak". It was probably Kuroko Tetsuya... An interesting person.
"This guy's really strange sometimes but... we made a promise."
"Number one player in Japan, uh ?"
"I'll make it !" A growl interrupted their discussion. It was from Taiga's stomach (of course...). "Emilie... Do you have food ?"
"Taiga ! I told you I just moved out and you expect me to have food here. You really only think about basketball and food."
"Food is important ! You need to eat a lot everyday."
"I love food and you know it but I'm just tired, that's all." She didn't truly had the opportunity to sleep in the plane or during class – she wasn't Taiga –
She accentuated her pout. She knew what he was thinking, it was written all over his face. 'How could someone so mature could be so childish sometimes.' He told her that everything she pouted like this. But for once, he didn't say it (but she was convinced he thought that) "Geez, I'll bring you breakfast tomorrow... And you better eat everything !"
She smiled at this sentence. Taiga would never admit it outloud but he was really caring towards his friends in his own awkward way. "Sure."