Fragments

chasing visions of our futures

[HOSPITAL ARC]

"Uh ? Kagamicchi is not coming today ?"

How could someone be so obnixious ? Shintaro was spending too much time around Kise for his taste, he decided. Even Takao wasn't as exuberant as him.

"Taiga is not coming today nor tomorrow. Riko-san – Coach – has planned an entiere week-end schedule for math and japanese. Izuki-senpai and Kuroko-kun will be a better help for these subjects."

"Oh, I thougtht Kagamicchi would come later... But isn't Masukocchi doing great in all subjects ?"

How stupid from him to state that at the end of the tutoring session however he had a point. He saw her tutoring sessions with the two idiots and despite her unorthodox methods – the girl had lured them into learning Edo period with a cake – she had knowledge. She had to, to sucessfully pass the tests to be admitted in Seirin because he knew they were more difficult for foreign persons.

"Not really. Written japanese is still hard sometimes, since I have difficulties with kanjis and math is not my forte... Well, I'm doing good because I'm technically a year ahead but I dislike this subject."

"I see ! And did Masukocchi take an elective at school-ssu ?"

"I did or rather... As a foreigner, Seirin did a favor to me and let me study two electives."

Was that even possible ?

"Heh, is that possible ?", asked Kise out loud.

"Apparently it is in Japan as well. I've taken spanish and french litterature because I want to pass le baccalauréat during the beginning of my third year and I still want to follow french school calendar as well. I'll begin next June with french." She had funny look while talking. The same one she gave to Kagami. "And in case you didn't know, le baccaleuréat is the french diploma you have to possess at the end of highschool if you want to go to universities or simply higher education there."

"Wouldn't it be too hard ?" Mock exams and entries to university were the main occupations of the third years and to add another exam might be unreasonable.

"I planned as much as I could and I'll be doing french litterature exam at the beginning of my second year then all the other subject the year following. As long as it concerns subjects that I appreciate, I think I can do it. I don't like to leave things unfinished and not having le baccalauréat is simply unthinkable."

If anything, he loathed people who didn't do their best, so he felt somehow satisfied to hear that statement from her. He didn't exactly know why he came everyday to visit her. Maybe it was because it was because she was one of the only people he knew who wasn't loud. If anything, he enjoyed her silence. Or maybe... That was because he was still searching for the answer.

"You'll understand someday."

He still didn't understand. And he felt he needed to understand so he could say he had made everything he could. And most of all... What he heard that night, when he forgot the lucky item in her room, feeling too amazed by Curry's three pointers at the game they had watched.

That letter.

The almost panic attack she had.

He heard everything.

He casted a stealthy glance. Since then, he saw her... differently. He couldn't find another word. Differently.

"I have to go the the photoshoot-ssu."

"Oh, already ?" He looked at his phone. It was 7.30 P.M already.

"I don't want to leave but I have to or my manager will kill me !"

"It's okay Kise-kun, Midorima-kun will still be with me." Wait what ?

"I see..."

"Stop doing such stupid face, Kise." he stated with mild-annoyance. His first option was to correct the thing she just said but the face Kise was doing was just too annoying.

"Bye Masukocchi, Midorimacchi."

When he finally left the room, it became silent until – "Is something bothering Midorima-kun ?"

He slightly flinched and turned his face to look at her "Why ?"

"I couldn't help but notice you've been acting... strange since a few days."

Did she notice ? Of course she did.

"It's nothing." He didn't want to tell her he saw through her façade – he decided to call her excessive sense of politeness like that – because she probably saw through his as well.

She didn't answer back but was frowning and stood up. Stood up. "Masuko-san, what are you doing ?" He knew she couldn't correctly stand up, let alone walk. She said it to Kagami yesterday.

"I'm standing up, obviously."

Now, he could see the similitude with Kagami. "I know you're doing that but why –

He moved as quick as he could to hold her. Her face twitching in pain and his arms placed on each side of her shoulders, she had her left arm gripping his right one. "Are you stupid ?" he immediately yelled.

She was so frustrating it was infuriating. And the calm in her eyes just increased his anger "I'm just worried about a friend."

"YOU'RE NOT MY FRIEND !" he yelled. But the words that went out of his mouth left him a bitter taste. That time, these words felt so wrong and yet, he found himself unable to say something. He couldn't even look at her in the eyes anymore.

He screwed up. He screwed up, he screwed up.

Damn it.

He didn't understand why, but he truly felt horrible.

Her voice filled the heavy silence "I knew I would have probably fell..." Waiting for the end of her sentence, he casted a furtive glance, her blue eyes confusing him before watching back the window. The bright array of pink and orange outside was telling him he had indeed stayed longer than he thought.

"Then, why did you try to stand up ?" was the only thing he could say. He wanted to inquire why he was coming everyday. Why he was still here. Why she wanted to befriend him so much... So many 'why' he had in his mind but couldn't voice out loud.

She lessened the grip on his right arm without letting go neither and he felt her hand turning his face to make him look at her. What he saw was a smile, the same smile she had when talking about school, she same one she gave to Kagami everytime he was saying something idiotic and he didn't know if he should feel offended ot not.

"Because I knew you would catch me."

Did she... trust him ? How ? Why ?

He was so sure he stayed in the same position for seconds when she made a sudden small cry. He realized he had unclenched the grip on her shoulders after what she said, making her lose balance. She tried and failed to grap back his right arm, causing her to fall on him.

"Oh mon– I mean did I hurt you, Midorima-kun ?"

"... No." he managed to mutter, too stunned to even move. He was physically alright, the only thing was he couldn't see correctly, his pair of glasses not on its place.

Her hair was brushing his cheeks softly and her face was resting on his shoulder. As she laughed quietly, he felt the hot breath on his neck. She lifted her head and he saw her blurry form watching him as he felt her fingers putting back his glasses back.

"Here, it's better that way !" The first thing he saw was that smile again. That strange and warm smile.

"See, Midorima-kun did catch me here as well."

Her remark got him a small smirk, understanding what she meant. Her face went back on his shoulder and she whispered "I apologize for asking this but could you help me to lift me up, please."

It was only at that moment he fully understand the position they were in and he felt himself blushing, suddenly so aware Masuko was a female. Her breath instantly became disturbing (or maybe distracting).

"Hm...Very well."

A few seconds later, Masuko almost fell again, as he averted his eyes, distracted by the facsinating furnitures.

Yes, really fascinating. He would compliment his father about his choices in furnitures.


After what happened yesterday, Midorima-kun looked less tormented by his thoughts, mused Miyuki. She was relieved to see his calmness came back but she knew there was still something in his mind. She didn't say a word though, deciding she would wait for him to talk if he wanted to... That and also the fact he looked terribly embarrassed.

"Midorimacchi already left ?" Kise-kun's voice brought her back to reality.

"Hai. He said he had a family reunion and apologized for leaving so soon." Of course, the last part was her interpretation.

"I see..." Kise-kun's face showed he was being pensive before he went back to his usual-self "So, what are we doing today ? Repassing World's History ? English conversation ?"

"None. We'll be doing nothing during this afternoon."

"EH ?" Amazing how pretty face could show too much yet too little of his emotions sometimes.

"Kise-kun, you have worked more than enough for the exams, so for today, you can do whatever you want. Go see some friends." Of course, the thought of spending the afternoon alone wasn't something she was looking for but the only people she knew in Japan were basketball related and her family was still in France.

"Masukocchi is my friend as well so I want to spend this afternoon here !"

Uh ?

Did her tone betray her feelings ? Did he see she was feeling lonely ?

It was quite strange to explain but if anything, she liked being alone sometimes. She wasn't like part of the females in her middle school who were frightened by the lone thought of being alone because of social standards – it appeared being alone meant having no friends and also meant being labelled as 'weird' –. She didn't care about being mocked because she enjoyed staying by herself and reading books sometimes. It even made her laugh how ironically, these girls who looked so popular and full of friends were in fact the loneliest ones.

But at the end of middle school, she discovered the meaning of being lonely. Being alone and being lonely were entirely different. Being alone was a choice. Being lonely was not her choice: it was something that caused her despair and anger because she felt nobody would understand. But then, she made a new team and she met people that understood her and she had Taiga with her and a few friends in Japan. But sometimes, while she tried and failed to walk normally, she felt despair.

The fear of not being able to play football like she used to was louder when Taiga wasn't visiting her, or Kise-kun and Midorima-kun weren't there, in the morning, during her daily re-education.

Perhaps Kise-kun got it. Perhaps he was feeling lonely as well. The small yet genuine smile he had told her he lacked of true friends. She gave back a smile even if it was a bit forced like his, the loneliness haunting them.

"Then we should go outside, perhaps. I never visited the hospital's garden."

"Never ?! Masukocchi has to see the flowers there, they're so pretty !"

He put her on a wheelchair and rolled it. She suspected he was enjoying it more than she was, the way he was walking – skipping would be more appropriate here – only confirmed it, as every female they met glared them with hostility. Of course, Kise-kun was completely unware of the unwanted attention – or maybe too used by it, it wasn't for nothing she nicknamed him 'pretty face' – but she pretended she saw nothing neither.

"How is your team and you are doing, Kise-kun ?"

"We got qualified for the Final League-ssu !" The softness and the fondness on his face made her feel a rush of tenderness for him.

"You look happy", she said almost absently.

"Of course, we got qualified !"

She cleared her voice, "I mean... You look happy when you're talking about your team." Kuroko-kun told her how Kise-kun was someone who loved basketball from the bottom of his heart. This moment made her fully believe it.

Kaijo was the perfect team for him. She discovered during her daily observations of the strongest teams around Tokyo – being in a hospital didn't make her forget her part as manager – that Kasamatsu Yukio was one of the best point guards of the country and also Kaijo's captain. Riko-san told her he fullfilled every qualification needed to be a good captain: responsable, strongwilled, ambitious and encouraging yet voicing his disapproval when needed. That was exactly what Kise-kun needed.

"Well..." He slowed down the pace of the wheelchair. "I love playing with Kaijo more and more." He looked absent and she figured out he was probably thinking about them.

"I see what Kise-kun means. I'm still very attached to my previous team." The fact most of them were in exam period reminded her she should send something to encourage them but since papa was still there, it would be okay. "I would have liked to see your match against Seirin. Taiga told me you're one of the best players he ever met."

He finally stopped nearby a bench "He did ?" He sat to be able to speak and look at her at the same time.

"Hai. But don't repeat that to him will you, he would get flustered." She could already see Taiga denying it with stuborness.

"Kagamicchi really is surprising."

She nodded vigorously "Taiga has always been pure and caring even if he now looks... physically intimitating." Taiga became so tall in less than two years it was becoming depressing.

"Neh, can Masukocchi tell stories about Kagamicchi !"

At least, Kise-kun wasn't being as stubborn as Taiga or Midorima-kun and willingly admitted he considered them as friends "What does Kise-kun want to know ?"

"How was Kagamicchi when he was a kid ?"

An image of a smaller Taiga came to her mind. To her, he was still that boy she met years ago and yet, he was so different. "When I met him, he looked lost because he was just coming from Japan and naïve. Really naïve. Not that it was necessarily bad, in fact I appreciate that. I still do."

No matter how hot-headed he had become, he still was so, so naïve on a few subjects.

"Masukocchi told you two know each other since third grade ! How did you met ?"

"We..." She stopped, feeling it was the moment to ask about what was in her mind since weeks. "Could I ask you a question first ?"

"Uh ? Of course."

She hesitated. Should she really ask it ? Whatever, she needed to know.

"Is... one of your former teammates part of Yosen High ?"

She didn't even need a vocal confirmation to know the answer. The face he was making was already enough. "I see. What post does he p-play ?"

"Center-ssu. He –" The changement must have been visible because she felt cold yet delicate hands on hers. "Masukocchi, are you okay ?"

"What...?"

"Your hands... they're shaking."

She looked at her hands. Kise-kun was right. She gritted her teeth. "Oh. I apologize for this, it's –

"Masukocchi, don't apologize !" He patted her right hand and she felt like crying. Thinking about Taiga and Tatsuya's broken relationship hurt and now, it just felt too real.

"Do you remember when I talked about my other best friend, Tatsuya ?" She needed to talk. Talk to forget the bad taste of their relationship's nearing end in her mouth.

"Hai."

"You probably have noticed Taiga's strange behavior that time." A nod. "That's because..." Should she really tell him ? Well, she trusted him enough now "While I consider Taiga and Tatsuya as my best friends, they considered each other as brothers."

She touched her ring and remembered the promise they made the day she left. Lies.

Despite that fact, she didn't feel angry – not at them, at least – nor betrayed. It just was bound to happen, she knew it now. She had time to think about everything rationally and it had always been obvious...

"... It has always been this way since they met."


"Are you sure you don't want to play with us, little bird ?"

She had a vivid memory of that summer day. She was hanging around with Tatsuya, their elbows linked as they walked, looking for someone for basketball.

"I'm fine with being referee." Thinking about her past self's obvious fake smile almost made her want to laugh.

Of course, she remembered how Tatsuya made this frown he had everytime she was lying to him. "Miyuki..."

This memory made her realize how far she came from. "I know ! Fine, I'll play a one-on-one against you after."

"Hey, little bird." He held her hand tightly but softly like he always did whenever she needed reassurance. "I'm not angry at you. I just want you to be happy and play freely." The smile he made at that moment was still one of her warmest memories. It was the thing that made her believe freedom might exist.

She almost could feel the wind the seven year old version of herself had on her face while she was running "Come on, we need to find someone, everyone is waiting." They only used japanese when they were only. It was still the case thought english sometimes got mixed in.

"Miyuki, slow down or we will miss out people."

"You're no fun, Tatsuya."

"I know."

Taiga immediately caught her attention with his red hair and the gloomy and lost look he was wearing. He was in fact her classmate but he never talked to anyone (she had thought he was too shy when at that time but it was in fact because he didn't really know english yet). Tatsuya saw she was watching him and ran towards him.

"Hey. We're short-handed, want to come and join us for a game of basketball ?"

"What ? Y-yeah... Great." His eyes widened. "You speak japanese ?"

"I thought you might be japanese too ! I came last year."

Taiga finally noticed her "Hey, I know you ! You're from my class, aren't you ?"

"Hai. My name is Masuko Miyuki, I live here since two years."

"Your name is... ?"

"Kagami Taiga."

"I'm Himuro Tatsuya. Nice to meet you." She had always been amazed about how Tatsuya could look so cool and so serious while he was in fact one of the biggest dork she knew (the fact he was now 16 accentuated that thing... not that it bothered her. She could be so much worse when people knew her enough).

"Tatsuya is from the same school as well but he's a year above us."

"Really ?"

Tatsuya nodded "You know basketball ?" Tatsuya had kept the habbit of spinning the ball with his finger. She found it almost fascinating since she only managed to do it at ten years old.

"Yeah, a little from sports class..."

"Tatsuya, Miyuki, you found someone to join ?"

"Yeah, his name's Taiga !"

"Great, Taiga will play on Tatsuya's side then !"

Before meeting Tatsuya, she didn't enjoy being referee. She loved playing but her fear came over that love and she just watched. Tatsuya changed that – to a certain degree because the changement mostly came from herself –. Although she still wanted to play, she came to love looking games.

The way Tatsuya dribbled smoothly and full of confidence was the definition of beauty.

"Did you make the teams ?"

"Yeah."

"Okay. Let's begin."

And she saw the way Taiga watched Tatsuya. It was the same way – no it was slightly different from the way she looked at him. While she looked at Tatsuya with affection, he watched at him with admiration. That was why their relationship with Tatasuya was different. It was obvious since that day he was worthshipping him and the discussion they had after only confirmed it.

"Why ? You're asking me how to make friends ?"

"Himuro-kun looks like a brooder and yet everyone hangs around with you !"

She laughed. He was right. "That was uncalled for..."

She was sure she had whispered something among the line "Kagami-kun is right..." to tease him.

"I talked with people, but somehow they don't feel like close friends to me ! Like, there's some distance ! Is it because of racial dis... Ah... !?"

"Ahaha. I think it's nothing of that sort !"

"Don't worry Kagami-kun, it has nothing to do with your situation."

"I think you didn't 'appeal' enough."

"Appeal ?"

"What are you good at, what do you like... You need to show something that makes people understand who you are. For me, it's basketball !"

"Tatsuya is right. Having a passion in common makes it easier to make bonds." It was also what brought her – them – trouble but she didn't regret it.

"You need to know yourself before trying to make people understand who you are ! If you're strong, people will repute you for that !"

"I have nothing of the sorts..."

She had always found Tatsuya's kindness as his best quality "...Then why don't you try basketball ?"

"Eh ?"

"I'll teach you !"

"This is a good idea. Kagami-kun is good at sports and Tatsuya is a good teacher."

"I'm sure you'll play well !"

"... Basketball." It was clear he never considered this possibility yet he wasn't unhappy. Just surprised.

"Sure, I'll do my best !"


"They spent weeks, months... even years playing basketball together. Ironically, basketball was also the thing that has caused them to part away." She tried to smile but she was sure Kise-kun was not fooled by this laughable attempt. "The odds to have Yosen High as opponent for the Winter Cup are high and because of the relationship they used to have, I fear Taiga would unconsciously... hold himself back." It was probably already too late but she would try to help him.

For his sake and for Seirin's sake. She knew Tatsuya would agree as well, knowing he wanted to face him at full strengh.

"But... What about Inter High ?"

"Tatsuya will not make it in time for Inter High, I think he'll come just after Inter High and... Taiga doesn't know about Tatsuya coming yet nor the fact he will be at Yosen High."

"Why don't you tell him !" She heard a hint of anger in his voice and she found it perfectly understandable.

She felt angry at herself for hiding Taiga all of this "Because I want to tell him after the Final League !" Her voice went higher but she wasn't screaming neither, "I know Seirin will loose but I don't want him to lose focus !"

"Oh."

She tried to calm herself, "I know Seirin is becoming good but it's still not enough. Especially with Aomine Daiki as opponent."

"How –

"Kise-kun, I'm Seirin's manager. Being in the hospital doesn't mean I forgot what I have to do." She knew her tone was harsh but it was apparent Aomine Daiki was a sensible subject for all of them – Kuroko-kun, Kise-kun and even Midorima-kun – and it caused her to feel a certain animosity towards him.

"I see..."

Kise-kun's still pretty face never look so unpretty and she wished she never saw this again.

"Kise-kun... If you want to talk, I'm here and I'll listen to you just like you're listening to me." It wasn't that much but she knew how hearing these words could change things.

"Masukocchi..."

"I do have a favor to ask to Kise-kun." Kise-kun's face reflected his surprise and a hint of relief about the change of subject. "Obviously, I can't ask to Taiga so could you send the letter I wrote to Tatsuya for me, please."

"Of course."


"Next reeducation session tomorrow at 9 A.M, Masuko-san."

"Duly noted." For the first time of her reeducation, she felt satisfied with how her session went. She only tripped twice and she could walk more or less normally while holding the guard rails.

A knock stopped her thoughts. "Come in." It must probably be one of the nurses again...

"Hey !"

...Or not. "Ohayō gozaimasu."

"You're the girl from the other time, aren't you ?"

"Indeed." It was that very tall young man that helped her last time when she was about to fall.

"Since the old man in my room left the hospital, I'm looking for someone to play hanafuda with me. Do you wanna play ?"

It almost looked like her prayers had been fullfilled. Something was telling her boresome will only be a memory from now. "I... don't know this game, but you could learn me."

"Sure !"

"May I ask you what's your name ?"

"You don't need to be so formal." He smiled kindly and closed the door. "I'm Kiyoshi Teppei, how about you ?"

"Masuko Miyuki."

She might be mistaken but for a second, she was certain he had a smirk on his face. "You went here recently, right ?"

"Hai. I had my operation a few days ago and I will probably stay here for two weeks or three. How about you, Kiyoshi-san ?"

"I said you don't need to be so formal, you know. Call me Teppei since you're probably used to call people by their first name."

"How does Kiyoshi-san... how do you know that ?"

"You said something that was not japanese like the other time." He was right. Thankfully, he didn't seem to understand she said 'shit' in french.

"You're right. I'm french as well." He was definitely more than he let on to remember that kind of detail.

"I always wanted to go there ! French basketball looks amazing."

"Absolutely. We have one of the best national teams in the world." They were not as good as the US but they were easily the second or third best team and though football would always be her favorite sport, watching basketball games was almost as enjoyable as watching football games. "Did you made that injury during a championship ?" She was curious about it, since he was the first person around her age who could understand her since he too had an injury. She hoped it wasn't inconsiderate from her... But it was too late, anyway.

"During last year's preliminaries... You ?"

"Anterior cruciate ligament tears, during the championship's finale. I did a 'pretty stupid thing' according to everyone by continuating the game but I don't regret it since we won."

"You did ?"

"Hai, we became France's highschool champions and I couldn't be happier though it might... have consequences on my future." She scratched her head, ending sheepishly "Saying it outloud makes it like it was stupid."

"It's not." His goofy look was gone, leaving her surprised and almost puzzled. "There's nothing wrong about wanting to win with your team."

So he did understand, after all. Then his team was lucky to have someone like him. "You're right. I was glad they let me do it... I think did so because they knew I didn't want to leave with regrets."

Teppei stayed silent and she felt how her words had an importance for him and whatever he had been through. He finally spoke again but his voice was like a whisper "How long will your reeducation last ?"

"Six months probably. I aim for one last title so I'm preparing myself as much as I could. You didn't have your operation, did you ?"

He didn't even asked how she knew it and answered "I've been on rehab since practically a year so I'll be leaving in three weeks."

"Is that so ? Well, I hope in that time, I'll be able to learn you some card games as well."

"You play card games too ?"

"I had to occupy myself during bus trips."

"I heard about a game where..."


Teppei and she had played for hours at hanafuda and she even was able to learn him how to play la bataille. He was a delightful person to be with, especially in this place and he made her feel at ease though she felt he could be someone as sly as her. He had left the room twenty minutes ago for his daily reeducation.

And now, there she was, waiting for the results of the review test with apprehension. Well, she knew she did well but she was worried about Taiga and Kise-kun. She hoped she had helped them enough, especially Taiga.

"Masuko-chan, how are you ?"

She smiled. Riko-san went to see her almost every night, sometimes with Hyuuga-senpai to discuss about training schedule for the team and her reeducation and it was in fact an efficient system because she did most of the video observation.

"Riko-san, you came sooner today."

"Hyuuga-kun is leading the training. I'm here to bring your results as Vice-President of the School Committee."

"I see. What about Taiga, did he do well ?"

"He said he wanted to tell you personally after training, but he'll be able to play with us."

"That's a relief." She knew he could do it and she even hoped he did more than average. Riko-san's smile was a good sign.

"Here. Open it."

She took the envelope and read its content with Riko-san eyeing with as much, if not more impatience "Fourth ?!"

"Kami, that's amazing Masuko-chan ! I knew you were perfect as my manager !"

"I'm not as good as you, Riko-san..." She good reading and re-reading her marks, "I GOT 89 AT THE MATH TEST ?"

"Masuko-chan... You got 100 at english."

"But I got 89 at the math test. MATH TEST, RIKO-SAN, ISN'T IT AMAZING !"

Riko-san patted her head "Of course, Masuko-chan, of course."

She felt so proud about her 89 at math, she could jump "I'm extremely satisfied with it, especially with this 82 in Japanese."

"I'm impressed a first year could make 100 in half of all subjects."

"I don't think it's that impressive, you know I'm just a year above them after all and I think french tests are harder."

"Are french test different ?"

"MCQs are not frequent unlike here, we have to be capable of writing dissertations with three parts and several arguments each time."

"You seem to enjoy that."

She nodded "I like writing so it helps."

"Oh, do you write stories ?"

She played with the ring around her finger, something Riko-san probably noticed. "It's not exactly what you can call a story. Before you ask, it's not a diary." Not really. It had her most intimate thoughts although it wasn't mainly about her. And it was written not day by day but like a book. "I might... lend it to you one day."

Riko-san's eyes softening before she felt a light kiss on her forehead "I have to go before the boys do something stupid. Take care, Masuko-chan."

Her mouth quirked at the corners as Riko-san left. Her phone buzzed, telling her she got a next text.

'Hello Masukocchi (◕‿◕✿) !

I will come to see you later than usual today since the senpais wanted to celebrate my good results at the review test at the place where we usually go (▰˘◡˘▰) I won't tell you my results because I want to show you personally. See you 。◕‿◕。'

"He sure loves emojis..." It was almost refreshing to see this compared to the very short answers she got from her friends. Boys. To 'how are you ?' they answered 'Good. You ?'. To 'tell me what you do you think about the training' she recieved five 'Meh' and eight 'Cool'.

At least they always answered quickly. She was the opposite. She wrote like she was speaking (ironically though she didn't speak a lot, her texts looked really long) but answered very slowly.

"Well, time to occupy myself with tapes from old games." In parallel of her part as manager, she prepared her personal goal and looked at game from this year, from both male and female championship with a pencil and a notebook in her hands.

It felt both painful and nostalgic to watch her middle school teammates playing because while they had highly improved, most of them were seperated (and sometimes it was better this way). She still hadn't watched the finale game Tina's letter was referring to, feeling not ready yet, knowing how a slaughter it was.

"Let's watch... the Departementals."

She was rather fond of the memory of the Departementals, the fact it was the first step to the Nationals only made it better. It felt it hadn't been four months ago...

Four months ago, her team was still considered as 'losers', their school's reputation following them. Four months ago, her hair was still short. Four months ago, she even had a boyfriend but above all, she knew this team was the one. The one that would make her laugh and dream and even win.

"Amazing how things have changed." She giggled before playing the video.

And gosh, she missed the smell of grass around her, the feeling of studs on the field, everything that made football so enjoyable.

Without knowing it, she watched one, two videos then the finale was on her computer's screen. The way they had improved between the Departementals and the Nationals was impressive. It was one of their best games, not on a technical level but on an emotional one. This victory felt their dream was not impossible if they truly wanted.

Everyone thought they were the broken kids from the deprived area except their coach... Papa.

She missed everyone at home so much. Taiga said it was normal to feel homesick at the beginning, the void in you and she understood what he meant.

"Cheer up Emilie, it's not the time to be like this", she recalled to herself, her voice echoing in the empty room. She sighed when somone slammed the door abruptly, making her jump in surprise.

"MASUKOCCHI !"

"Oi, get out of here Kise, I'm first !"

"Kagami-kun and Kise-kun should both stop."

"Idiots."

She looked at the colorful heads entering her room: red, yellow green and blue, Kuroko-kun being an unusual addition. "Hum... Would you please tell me what's happening ?" She looked on her computer: it had already been almost four hours since Riko-san left.

"The review test results, Emilie !"

"Ah yes, you're right. So, I heard from Riko-san you did good. Show me your results, Taiga."

She saw Kise-kun pouting, "why is Kagamicchi first ?"

"I wanna know if I should punish or not my best friend with laps", she smiked and he gave her the piece of paper, a speepish look on his face. "Wow, Taiga that's amazing." 80th. He was 80th ! She almost couldn't believe it.

"Wait, you got 98 on Japanese ? How is that possible ?" The 'you suck in japanese' was clear for everyone.

"I don't even wanna talk about it !"She raised his eyebrows and looked at Kuroko-kun for an explanation.

"Kagami-kun has –

"It's Kise's turn now !" Was it that terrible ? Or it might be because Kise-kun and Midorima were here. Males and their pride.

"Alright Masukocchi, look !" He showed the piece of paper in his hands proudly and she smiled.

"Kise-kun really is amazing !"88th in a prestigious highschool like Kaijo was more than honorable, it was even good.

"It's all thanks to Masukocchi."

"No Kise-kun, it's because you worked hard for this."

"So Emilie, Coach gave you your results, right ?" Taiga sat on her bed as usual and looked at the notes she took. "Still doing this, uh ?"

She dropped the pencil she was holding to look for the paper in the middle of what was beginning to be a mess. "I'm spending hours watching basketball matches and football matches everyday and as you can see, I'm taking notes."

"Aren't you a good manager...", Taiga teased her while reading part of her notes. "What's that ?"

His eyes widened and she saw the reason of it in his hands. Oh. "Your stats and Tatsuya's."

"But how is that..." She took it back and put it somewhere else. "It's only mere estimation but I can assure you this is the truth", Tatsuya is stronger than you. That was the truth. "Like I said, I'll tell you everything after the Final League."

Kuroko-kun's cryptic look and Kise-kun almost sad one were almost as obvious as Taiga's mixed feelings but she ignored them. She was almost grateful for Midorima-kun's apparent uninterest since he at least pretended nothing was happening.

It wasn't the fact two on three of them were from rival teams that bothered her, it was the subject in itself.

"I see", said Taiga after the heavy silence.

Finally finding the results of the review test, she showed it to him. "Here you go !"

Taiga found back his smile and she would have been satisfied if the sadness left his eyes "I can't even say I'm surprised but... YOU GOT 89 AT MATH ?"

"I know right, isn't it amazing !"Was her desire to erase these feelings even for a moment as good as lying to herself ? Probably. But she felt an temporary relieve from this.

"Masukocchi got fourth ?"

"Indeed." Neither of them looked surprised.

"Masuko-san really is clever."

"Maybe... but I think it's mostly because I'm technically a year above you so I already know most of these things we got at the tests. What about Midorima-kun and Kuroko-kun ?"

"I did good."

"I got my lucky item so of course I had good marks."

Part of the tension on her shoulders left. "Then I'm glad."

"I'm hungry, let's just go to the cafeteria."

"Fine Taiga, but you're paying for me."

"What, but..."

She sighed, "I'll pay next time we go to Maji Burger"

"Deal."

It was the calm before the storm, she thought. The five of them eating rather loudly with Kise-kun, Midorima-kun and Taiga arguing was paradoxically relaxing.

It was lively, it was lovely, it was everything she loved about being with friends.

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