Fragments

our rights and wrongs

[HOSPITAL ARC]

'We lost'

Two words, six letters she wished she never saw again. She read again and again Riko-san's message sent a few hours ago, hoping the content would magically change... Of course it wouldn't be the case.

She cursed herself for being at the hospital instead of being by their sides. If she felt like that although she knew they would lose then Seirin was feeling so much worse.

And Taiga. She was dead worried about him but she just sent a text saying 'Come when you feel like it', knowing he needed space before coming talk to her – and crying probably, like she did after the Regionals – and finally know about the situation with Tatsuya.

She sighed. Seirin had several issues to resolve before Winter Cup and difficulties to overcome but she would make sure to do her best to help them as their manager... and as their friend. With her new resolve, she finally answered to Riko-san's text with:

'We'll be stronger for Winter.'

A soft knock interrupted her thoughts as the last rays of light illuminated the room, blazing and warm orange making her slightly smile.

"You can come in."

She was surprised to find Kuroko-kun in front of the door, expecting it to be her best friend instead. She remembered what had been briefly said last week when she had dinner with Taiga, Kise-kun, Midorima-kun and him about Aomine Daiki. If Taiga's defeat against him was painful, then Kuroko-kun's was agony.

His eyes.

"Konbanwa, Kuroko-kun."

"Konbanwa, Masuko-san." His voice was still plain but his eyes reflected sadness.

"You can sit on the bed", she offered.

"Hai." He complied almost mechanically, without the usual 'I don't want to invade Mauko-san's space', making her even more worried.

"I brought to Masuko-san light novels." She took them gratefully, giving him back the previous books she borrowed from him.

"Dōmo arigatō, you really are a good friend." She truly meant what she just said and she hoped it would somehow cheer him up... but judging by his reaction, it just had the opposite effect. She deicately put a hand on his shoulders, trying to see his eyes now hidden by his hair. "Kuroko-kun, are you okay ?"

"I... I..." Of course he was not. It was just a rhetorical everyone asked but she couldn't find anything else to say. She saw him tightening the sheets, tears falling on them. "I wanted to see Aomine-kun smile again. I wanted to fullfill my promise to Momoi-san. I – I failed as a friend."

It was so much worse than she thought. Seeing how he didn't take away the hand on his shoulder, she came slowly closer to him and cupped his face in her hands. "Kuroko-kun... Tetsuya. Do you know why everytime Taiga asks me how can I always see you, I answer 'it's the eyes' ?"

He shook his head as a 'no'. "It's because I can see how much you are suffering. I... I had the same eyes last year and I sometimes wonder how could someone not see all this pain. Maybe it's because they have never been through it... or because they're too drowned in their own pain to notice."

He finally raised his head, watering blue eyes widened and she softly dried away the tears on his face with her palm. She smiled kindly before finally letting go of his face. "I'll help you, Taiga and Seirin to be stronger so we can be number one in Japan... And you know what ?" She winked, to his utter confusion. "I'll tell a secret. I'll tell you why I came to Seirin."


"What does... Masuko-san mean ?" Taiga knew it. He never asked her since he trusted Emilie but he knew she never made a decision without something really precise in her head, no matter how stupid it looked. Her 'I came to be by your sides' wasn't a lie, but it was still too vague. She knew he knew it probably, that was why he ended up listening their chat behind the door.

"What is Kagamicchi doing ?"

HOLY –

He jumped in surprise. He was a hundred percent sure his heart stopped for a second. He was even more annoyed when Kise and Midorima were the ones responsable for this. "Shhhh ! Emilie is talking to Kuroko and – Why the hell are you even here ?" No way in hell he would admit he was dying to know what was Emilie saying.

"We came to visit Masukocchi, of course."

"I just came to help my father and Kise dragged me here."

"BULL –

"I could have gone another school if I wanted to." He would call on Midorima's bullshit later. He would finally know the truth. "A few of them have been trying to recruit me over the past few months but only two highschools got my attention, Seirin and Yosen, in Akita." There was a small pause again and Kise made a weird face.

"Masuko-san's ring." What was happening ? Why is he talking about Emilie's ring ?

"There are two items I always carry to remember the two promises I made: the medal I won at the Nationals and this ring. I usually wear it around my neck but since I can't play for the momeny, I can put it on my finger. When we were younger, there were the three of us together: Taiga, Tatsuya and I."

"Tatsuya..." He gripped the necklace in his pocket. He was feeling too shitty after losing to even deserve to wear it around his neck.

"Kagami-kun owns one as well."

"You're right Tetsuya, but my ring doesn't have the same meaning. The gave it to me the day I lelt the US as a promise. The promise we'll be reunited again... unfortunately, it's going to happen very soon in a way I didn't planned."

What the hell is she saying ? What – "Tatsuya is coming to Japan soon, and he will be part of Yosen High's basketball team."

"Shit !" It felt even worse than losing to Aomine. He didn't want to look at the other two but he felt something changed in their body language.

"They both omitted to tell me the truth for a year and a half to spare my feelings because they're them and... I was going through a hard time." He would do it again if he had to. He hated lying to her but she didn't need more at that time. "That was in part why I didn't see it immediately but Tatsuya told me everything during Christmas holidays. It was also the first argument I ever had with Tatsuya but I needed to know the truth."

Emlie and Tatsuya... had a fight because of him ? No way, they had never argued during all these years. And still, it happened because of him ?!

He felt the taste of blood in his mouth. "Shit." He had bitten his lips too hard.

"I told Taiga I'll tell him everything once the Final League would be over but it might be too much."

"Shouldn't Kagami-kun be happy ?"

"I think Taiga loves basketball more than anyone and he enjoys playing against strong opponents. But Taiga is also too caring and that's why I know he'll lose on purpose against Tatsuya... Again. In fact, Tatsuya is the only one he would lose against on purpose."

Ah. So she knew about that time. He couldn't even be surprised. "Taiga is the only one who can tell you what happened between them because it's his own story. But he can't lose on purpose again, especially during a championship. I came to Seirin to make sure he would be ready but I must admit I'm worried."

"Does Masuko-san think Kagami-kun will lose ?"

"Absolutely." Ouch. "While I'm their best friend, they consider each other as brothers. To Taiga, Tatsuya is the older brother he never had, that's why he couldn't let go of his admiration for him..."

Of course he'd lose again if it meant he could keep their bond.

How could he let go everything ? Tatsuya was the brother he never had. The one that taught him basketball. The first true friend he ever had. How could he let him go ?

"... because we were the ones to learn Taiga how to play basketball, after all."

He closed his eyes as he felt Midorima and Kise glaring at him like diots. "Tatsuya and I were best friends before we even know Taiga. When we met him, we showed him how to play basketball and we create bonds through that, especially these two and these bonds were different because he didn't feel admiration for me but for Tatsuya." That was probably one of the only times where he could say Emilie was wrong. He admired her so, so much but not in the same way. Tatsuya was the one he looked up in basketball. Emilie was the one he looked up in life and it was as important as basketball. "It's undeniable Taiga is getting stronger and stronger, but Tatsuya is even more stronger. I would even say he's on par with Midorima-kun."

Was is even possible ? Midorima was a monster. Was it Alex's training ? "Tatsuya stopped his training with Alex a year ago and he became so strong." She had the voice she was using when she was about to cry and he felt guilty. He almost forgot her too was hurt by this situation.

"I love Tatsuya. And I love Taiga as well. I love them both with all my heart because they're my best friends. They saved me when I needed to have someone to believe in me and I want to return the favor. I chose Seirin because Taiga needs me to be with him and Tatsuya understood that. I know the way Taiga had to come back to Japan had an enormous emotional impact on him." His heart ached more and more. She knew he hated being here and she came at Seirin to save his basketball. "He was becoming so... blasé. I think you know what I'm talking about, aren't you ?"

"Hai."

"I feared Taiga would begin to play by himself and feel disinterest in basketball."

"... Like Aomine-kun."

"It was a relieve when I saw it wasn't too late after the game against Shutoku. It was something in less to think about but... Kise-kun told me one of your former teammates is in Yosen High as well."

It was silent in the room and everyone in the corridor was tensed. "Hai."

"I think there's still hope. If anyone could surpass everything and everyone, it's Taiga. I'll cheer for both of them but I'll to do my best as Seirin's manager and Taiga's and Tatsuya's best friend to give Taiga an equal chance to win." He was sure she was doing that grin she did eveytime she was cheering up on him since they were kids. He always found there was something so beautiful and broken in it that made him smile as well.

"Masuko-san is really a good friend." Of course, Midorima and Kise were surprised to hear Kuroko say that with emotion but he heard the way she comforted him. He knew Kuroko was fuckin' affected after the Touou's game but he didn't know he was feeling that much.

"You truly are a good friend, Tetsuya, never doubt that and do remember we all have our rights on wrongs. I figured out why you said you wanted to beat the said 'Generation of Miracles'. It's because you want your friends back, don't you ?"

They talked about it a few days ago and he knew it too. For someone so deadpan, he had some pretty deep emotions. "Hai." The Generation of Miracles was seriously a bunch of screwed up guys.

"Then I'll help you and Seirin, so I can see you and everyone smile again."

He heard a clear and soft sound, almost like a music to his ears. It was Kuroko's laugh. "That's better, Tetsuya. I hope you don't bother if I call you by your first name, I've been used to that. You can do the same if you accept."

"Hai... Miyuki-san."

"I'm glad you do accept. You know, once I go back home, you should come visit us, I mean Taiga and I. We could eat dinner or even breakfast before school. And don't worry, I know Taiga told you to part away but it's only temporary as you probably guessed." Ah, yes. He wanted to become stronger, to not depend on Kuroko. He asked Emilie to help him with extra training. He didn't want to be useless to Kuroko and Seirin anymore, just like against that bastard. He wanted to become a good ace. A true ace. Just like Emilie did. "And I've been meaning to ask you, but how is Taiga doing in classes without me ?" She was number one at changing subject randomly.

"Kagami-kun always sleeps." KUROKO ! That bastard denounced him !

"When I'll be back, I'll make sure he stays awake at least half a day." He shivered since he could feel she had that stupid smirk on her face. "And if you think you're not include, I'll make sure you're awake as well." He laughed. Good !

"I do miss Masu – Miyuki-san. Math classes are less amusing without Miyuki-san's presence." He caught these two playing Sherlock Holmes like games a few times. That was seriously unfair because he was the only one caught up at sleeping with they were playing !

"I do miss it as well though I still dislike math... That makes me think some of my teammates are on exam period, poor them." That was right, Emilie even kept tutoring them on Skype.

"I'm curious to know how Miyuki-san's team is."

"They're... colorful and challenging as a captain because they can be uncontrolable but each one of them is amazing. I do hope you'll meet them soon." 'Colorful' was just a code as 'pain in the ass' to be honest, much like Kise.

"Shin-chan ! There you are !" WHAT. THE. HELL. Did everyone gave the word to go here or what ?

"Isn't that Takao-kun's voice ?" Crap, he was dead ! But first he would make sure everyone die with him.

"Huh ? What are you three doing in front of that door ?"

If Midorima wasn't going to kill that hawk eye guy, then he would do it. "What are you doing here ?"

"I should be the one asking this ! And why is your sister with you ?"

He finally saw the little girl behind him. She was around 10, probably. "Yachiru-chan wanted to see your sister so I came here to find you. You spend lots of time here after training, that's weird."

She bowed politely, "Domo, Midorima-san and his friends."

"WE'RE NOT FRIENDS !" It was at least something they all agreed on.

"Everyone ? What are you doing here ?"

"Wha – GAH KUROKO ! Don't scare us like that."

Kuroko shifted uncomfortably "Did you hear everything ?"

"I... Yeah, I did. The other didn't hear the start though. Sorrry for that, Kuroko."

"It's okay but I think you should tell that to Miyuki-san."

"I don't mind, actually."

"WHA – Emilie, stop it ! You two are going to kill me, you're becoming like Kuroko !" Seriously, how the hell could she even not be noticed with crutches.

She took this solemn look everytime she was going to apologize and whispered in english "I'm sorry you had to learn it this way, Taiga."

He bended down so he could say eye to eye "I'm so, so sorry for bringing you in the middle of our problem, Emilie."

"It's okay, it's not your fault and it wasn't Tatsuya's neither. It just had to happen." This didn't make sense but he didn't say anything when he saw the touch of sadness in her eyes nor when she let a kiss on his cheek.

"Masuko Emilie Miyuki-san ?" That clear and tiny voice interrupted his puzzled look on Emilie, surprised to hear her full name.

"That would be me, indeed." He saw a hint of surprise in her eyes as well.

"It's really you. Kami, I'm... I'm so honored to meet Masuko-san !"


"Yachiru-chan, how do you know her ?" Shintaro thought for a second it was Takao who talked to Yachiru about Masuko but it obviously wasn't the case.

"O-nii-chan, I already told you about that great captain from the team that won the Nationals after only existing a year."

"But I thought it was a guy."

"Nope, but the other members are all males."

"WHAT ?" A nurse that was walking near them was going to scold them but she didn't, probably because she saw him, the chief's son.

"Um, it would be better if you all enter in the room so we could discuss peacefully." He, along with the other followed her. He was satisfied to see she was going well with her crutches, comparing to what happened almost two weeks ago. He prefered not recalling of this confusing and embarassing event, it was better for his head.

He sat on his usual spot while Kagami and Kise were lying down like savages on the bed (like usual as well). "Yachiru-chan, isn't it ?"

She nodded. "I'm Masuko Emilie, you can call me Emilie or Miyuki if you want."

"I wouldn't... don't want to be rude towards Masuko-san."

She made a grimace he already saw when she was scolding Kagami was sleeping. "Fine, but if you feel more confortable later, do so."

"Hai... Masuko-san." To see such an energic child like Yachiru holding all this respect for someone was almost abnormal.

"Great. And to answer to Takao-kun's question, I was indeed in a male team and I was their captain."

"But... how ?"

"I used to think being female is difficult because not matter how, you're not recognized as an equal but... I met people that made me change my mind and this team was part of these people. They knew I was a female but still wanted to me as their captain and as their teammate so I played... as a male to be with them."

"Masukocchi really is amazing."

"I got France Football's last issue with me, Masuko-san's team is on the first page."

Masuko grinned to everyone's puzzlement, "I never got to see it, can I ?"

"Of course ! Here !"

He gave a look at the cover and saw Masuko in the middle of the cover with her teammates celebrating their victory. "They chose a good picture."

"Masukocchi is photogenic ! Did you already thought about being model ?"

"Um, well, it's not really my thing. I prefer to be the one behing the camera or the pen." She only made one photoshoot for another magazine during the Nationals (when she was still playing as a male) and it was tiring.

"And the articles were well written here !"

"Yachiru-chan can read french as well ?"

"Most of it", she stated proudly.

"That's really good", she said while patting Yachiru's head.

"Let me read it, what does it say ?"

He raised his eyebrows "You can read french ?"

"Are you trying to get a fight, bastard ? I've got this smartass as best friend."

"You..." But then, he remembered the time where he read that letter. It was probably written in France and Shintaro was midly impressed by the fact he could translate french text in japanese.

"Taiga, vocabulary, please."

"Hmf... Hey, that's us !" Kagami was pointing out a picture with Masuko, him and that other man who was Masuko's best friend during their chilhood.

"They really made a biography about me..."

"I bet it was uncle who gave them most of the pictures..." He paused, a grimace on his face. "Tsk, I can't believe these guys choose to put this though."

"They asked me and I accepted Taiga, don't worry."

"What... is it, Masukocchi, Kagamicchi ?" The atmosphere was becoming awkward though they didn't know why.

"It's... complicated. My last year in middle school was quite eventful and it ended up on a trial."

"..." Nobody dared to speak. Kagami put his hand around her shoulders. "You don't have to talk about it if you don't want to."

"It's okay, Taiga. The whole country knew so my friends in Japan can know about it as well." She said nothing for seconds but he never saw her so melancholic. "My last year in middle school had been very hard because we had a new coach who... didn't treat us equally. He took away my captainship and attacked a few teammates and I morally. Emotional abuse, they called it. It took me months to realize it was abuse. I made in sort to denounce him without any contestation possible, especially after the championship." She had something feral in her eyes than he had only seen once when they met, when she told him not to underestimate Seirin. "But know that I moved on so it's okay. I still want to see my teammates from middle school again and I'll do it !"

"Are the rumors true, Masuko-san ?"

Masuko smirked and asked, "Which one ?"

"About the national team ?"

"That one is true", she replied, winking at Yachiru.

What was that ? It seemed everyone had the same question except Kagami.

"That's amazing and... there is a recent rumor about Durant-san being selected for the U18 National team next year."

"Knowing Jean's talent, it will happen very soon, believe me."

"That guy, on an National team. Tsk."

"Taiga..." She hit him with her elbow but he didn't shout. He grumbled things in english, the only understanble were: Emilie... Guy... Jerk...

"But Durant-san is so dreamy and strong and he has beautiful eyes and he's the new captain of the team."

"You named HIM as new captain ?"

"Come on Taiga, you're biased about him, you know he was the best among us."

"No, you were."

"Maybe, maybe not but admit he's a great player at least."

"Never."

Even him knew their little quarrel wasn't going anywhere. "Is Masuko-san having a relationship with Durant-san ?" He turned his face to look at Yachiru before looking back Masuko.

Kagami was chocking with his own saliva while Masuko was uncharacteristically flustered as all eyes were on her. "We're not romantically together... Anymore."

"I knew it ! But why aren't you together anymore, you looked so good together."

"As if..."

"Taiga, I told you there was no need to beat him up, we broke up on a mutual agreement." She told Yachiru to come closer with her hand and she shyly complied.

It was the first time he could qualify someone in Takao's family as shy.

Masuko ruffled Yachiru's hair and giggled "Yachiru-chan, the end of something always means the beginning of something else and the fact I'm not with him doesn't mean I don't love him anymore. What we have now is different than what we used to have but it's still strong. Do you understand ?"

Yachiru frantically shook her head "If it's still makes you sad, know that we broke up after the Regionals and it obviously didn't affect our way of playing." He saw the glance she gave to Kagami before looking back at Yachiru. "He's the man that made me fall in love with football again. I don't know how to describe it but once you've hated something you used to love so much, your love becomes even stronger once you gain it back. I don't know if you understand but –"

"I do !" He almost snapped his neck to see how Takao was now covering his mouth with his hand.

"I guess Yachiru-chan plays football as well." He knew what Masuko was doing but he send a look to Takao to tell him they would have to talk.

"Hai."

"What post do you play ?"

"Left back winger."

"We have the same post, that's amazing. You know, once I'll be able to play back, I'll show you some tricks if you want."

"For real ?"

"Of course, you can even bring your friends. It will be in a few months since I'm still injured but I'll tell Midorima-kun who'll tell your brother."

"Midorima-kun ?"

"Midorima-kun is one of my friends." Their eyes finally met and she smiled but he said nothing.

"That's... Awesome ! Come on, o-nii-chan, we gotta go back home, I have to tell all of this to Sayu-chan." Sayuri ? His sister ? Oh, they were in the same club.

"But I thought you wanted to see her."

"It's getting too late so I'll just phone her."

He looked at his watch. Why was it always happening with Masuko ? "I'm coming with you, Takao."

"Are you sure, Shin-chan... But you know –"

"I said I'm coming."


Kazunari knew he was screwed. So, so screwed. He could feel Midorima's eyes on him since he accidentally let out he had hated basketball and he knew he would have to explain himself. So he did what he knew best: rambling and rambling again. "Masuko-san really is something, isn't she ?"

Yachiru-chan nodded "Of course o-nii-chan, Masuko-san is nice and so pretty and her football style is unique."

He pouted, "I never heard you praise someone like that, not even me."

"O-nii-chan is o-nii-chan but Masuko-san is what I aspire to be when I'll be older."

"But how do you even know her, I mean she played in France, right ?"

"I discovered her when they asked at school a presentation on social inequalities. I got paired with Sayu-chan and we saw a very cool text published in french and japanese by her." Yachiru-chan was a very energic kid who was also very clever, a fact he was proud to show off to eveyone, including Midorima.

"Huh ?"

"Don't you know ? Masuko-san is from the deprived areas of her city."

"Is that so ?"

"Yep, that's also why her team is getting so famous."

They finally reached home and he took off his shoes as he shouted "Tadaima !"

"Okaeri !" Okaa-san came and immediately saw Midorima (he was a giant, after all) "Midorima-kun, I didn't expect you here."

"Domo, Takao-san."

"So polite, as ever ! Just come and eat with us, it's already ready." Midorima just nodded and followed them. It happened frequently since they ended practice pretty late and it was sometimes him who came at Midorima's place to eat dinner.

He thought it was weird to see him leave practice sooner than usual during the two weeks... Now he got his answer since he was obviously off visiting Masuko-san. He sure would ask about that matter after their talk.

While okaa-san put the plates on the tables, Yachiru-chan said "Okaa-san, I met Masuko-san today, can you believe it ?"

"Oh, how was it ?"

"Okaa-san, you know her as well ?"

"Well, your sister can't stop talking about her, especially two months ago and she showed me some videos. She's also beautiful, you should totally go out with her, Kazunari."

He almost died because of the food stucked in his throat. "WHAT ? I don't even really know her. One of the only things I know is that she's Seirin's manager. You should ask Shin-chan if you want to know more about her", he finished slyly. If he was going to die, then he would die for a good reason.

He got the 'Takao...' angry glance but answered "What do you want to know about her, nanodayo ?"

He looked at him, shocked that he had replied. It was probably because it was okaasan and Yachiru-chan "How is she doing at school ?"

"Good. She even had the capacity to tutor Kagami and Kise, these idiots."

"You mean Kaijo's Kise ?"

"Hm." He totally needed to catch up.

"How did you two become friend ?"

Midorima's shoulders tensed up and he wanted to laugh "We... bonded during her stay at the hospital."

"So, how is she ? I mean, to be Kagami's best friend, she must be something."

"She's... confusing to say the last but she's patient enough to even be able to be near Kagami and Kise and academically well as I said. She also has the tendancy to be too kind and polite with anyone, nanodayo."

He stared at him, not knowing what to say. It was seriously the closest thing to a praise coming from his mouth and it was about Masuko-san. There were obviously things between them he didn't say about. Like who the hell could consider him as a friend ? "Looks like someone has a crush", he continued to tease him.

"As if ! Masuko-san is a... friend, nanodayo." He didn't know which thing sounded the most weird in his mouth: the suffix 'san' (because he never used suffixes, except for adults) or the word 'friend'. Even to Midorima, 'friend' looked weird in his own mouth.

"Awww, that's so cute, Shin-chan."

"Shut up, Takao."

"Boys, please. Not here."

"Hai." They continued to eat while okaa-san asked about trivial things like the review test and practice before they finished their meal.

"You can both go upstairs while I finish preparing the dessert."

"Let's talk, Takao." That was it. He was going to die.

"Okay... Let's just go upstairs." She did so and the lack of chatting (from him) was making it weird. Midorima didn't even comment on how messed up his bedroom was. "So..."

"Stop fooling around and tell me."

"Tell you what, Shin-chan ?"

"I said stop fooling around, Takao !"

Well he tried. "Okay, I get it ! Remember what I told that time in the gymnasium, about how I played and lost against you in middle school." He nodded. "I sait I continued to practice even after I retired." He nodded again. "I lied. I resigned, just like the rest of the team."

"I don't find it amusing, Takao."

"I'm not kidding." Midorima finally saw he wasn't kidding, so he continued. "Look, Midorima..." It was the closest thing to schock he ever got from Midorima now. "To be honest, every game you played, every people you played in these games were left pretty heart-broken. Most of them joined other clubs than basketball this year."

"B – But I... we didn't..." Seeing Midorima feeling so shitty just felt horrible. The fact itself he was stuttering was abnormal and it was also disturbing because he looks like he was about run away and Midorima was anything but a coward.

"When I told you I don't hold a grudge against you anymore, that was the truth. We're teammates now.".

It took a moment for Midorima to finally become himself again and he gave him a rare smile (well, it was more like a smirk but that was close enough). "Right."

"You know, you could've told me you befriended with Masuko-san. That girl looks interesting. Sneaky and kinda cute too." He knew she was more or less the one that helped Kuroko figuring out how to fight against his eyes though she didn't say anything and that was weird like how did she do it ?

"... 'Cute' ?" Midorima obviously didn't hear about the 'sneaky' part.

Why did he looked so puzzled ? It was one of the first thing someone would notice about her. "Well yeah, she's got pretty eyes and a nice face. Plus, she knows about basketball and plays another sport, so that's cool." And she also knew how it felt like to hate the sport she loved so much and still became champion and he really wanted to do that too. "But Shin-chan doesn't think she's cute ?" He saw Midorima slightly blushing. He stared at him, speechless. "You do find her cute, don't you ?"

He made that strangled noice he was making everytime he didn't want to admit something. "..."

He put a hand on his shoulder, trying and failing not to laugh, "It's okay Shin-chan, she's cute ! I mean, it's like your former manager, is it like a thing to be cute and badass to be able to be manager ?"


Riiiiiing.

"Hm." Shintaro groped around the bedside table to turn off the alarm clock and put his glasses on, like he did every morning (or else, he wouldn't see a thing).

7:30 A.M.

He brushed his teeth while listening to Oha Asa. Cancer was number one today and he had his lucky item, meaning his day couldn't go bad... but he couldn't stop thinking about what Takao said. He knew Teiko's way was wrong and although he never played these stupid games about who would score the most, he did nothing about it. That was his sin. That was probably the reaon why he came to see Kuroko's game against Kaijo...

Because he knew Kuroko had been emotionnally drained by last year... which happenned just four months ago. He also knew his defeat against Aomine had been painful. Even him felt uneasy just by watching the game.

He didn't understand what Kuroko wanted to do yet but it was a relieve he found Seirin and Kagami. Despite his stupidity, Kagami had potential and most importantly took a different path than them. It was certainly because of her. Masuko. Strange girl but really mature. He didn't know much about friendship but it was obvious to anyone's eyes she was a good friend. She was even enough stubborn to try to learn him what friendship was.

He put his white shirt and the rest of his uniform, butonned the top way to his neck and bandaged his left hand. Taking his bag and his lucky item, he went downstairs. Surprisingly, he saw his sister was already sitting, waiting for breakfast.

"Ohayo, okaa-san, otoo-san, Sayuri."

His parents greeted him back and Sayuri was looking at him accusingly.

Why accusingly ?

"Nii-san, why didn't you tell me Masuko-san was one of your friends ?"

"Shintaro, you have a lady friend ? Or maybe girlfriend ?"

He looked at okaa-san, speechless by such assumption, "she's not my – Nevermind." Correcting her was useless.

Otoo-san's head titled slightly and Shintaro looked at him, puzzlement on his face, "do you mean Masuko Miyuki-san ?"

Sayuri asked, "Does otoo-san know her as well ?"

Why does everyone know her ?

"Of course Sayuri, Masuko-san is one of the hospital's patient after all. I got reports about the complications on her surgery and on her reeducation. She's making remarkable progresses." It was true. She was now walking with her crutches without major difficulties anymore.

"Yachiru-chan called me last night ! I didn't know nii-san visited Masuko-san almost everyday." How did they even come to be in the same class ? Of all people she could had chosen to always be with, it had to be Takao's sister, Yachiru. At least, Yachiru despite having some traits Takao had was more polite and didn't tend to laugh for nothing stupindly.

Otoo-san smirked to his utter confusion. "That explains many things."

"..." Saying nothing was the best option. His father was someone really serious, meaning a smirk was never something good. "I should go to school."

"Do so, Shintaro. I'll probably see you at the hospital after your basketball training."

"Hm." Kami, he hated that patronizing look he gave himself sometimes.

As usual, classes ended 4 P.M and he went to practice, staying an hour after it officialy ended to shoot, Takao still in the gymnasium with him.

"Shin-chan, you're going to visit Masuko-san, right ?"

He watched him in suspicion "Why are you asking that ?"

"Then I'm going with you, Shin-chan."

"WHAT ?"

"Come on Shin-chan, hurry up ! I know you can't wait to see her."

There were days... Everyday would be more fitting to say, where he wanted to stranggle him. There was nothing to do against this decision since he knew he would come no matter what he said. "Just ride the rickshaw, Takao."


"For the last time Zahi, 'kun' is generally used for males like colleagues or classmates and 'chan' is used in an affective way for females and sometimes for childhood friends. And yes, they almost always use last name to call other people, japanese are almost too polite." She sighed. Zahi though being a really good friend was also hard to handle as a captain... She could feel Jean's pain who was just behind him.

It was one of the only moments in June where they had time to talk on Skype, part of the team being on intense working sessions for le baccalauréat. She helped them through phone calls or Skype, reading them History book or analysis of french texts she made on extra time and after two hours today, she chatted about Japan.

"Too polite like you !"

"But I wanna call you Emilie-kun !"

"Zahi, there's no need to change the way you call me. It's already enough to have learn japanese for me. All of you. Fadel, once you finish your meal, three laps for you." Laps really were useful when she wanted to get revenge or punish one of the guys.

"WHA... But whyyyyy ?" She ignored him on purpose or he wouldn't stop whining.

"Emilie-kun kinda fits you, I'm sure the ladies will agree."

She rolled her eyes, "Jean please, not you too as well."

She heard a firm yet polite knock. It was Midorima-kun of course, on time as always. "You can come in, Midorima-kun."

"Did I hear a 'kun' ? Is he one of your classmates ? Or a new basketball friends of yours ? I wanna know." Ignoring Zahi, yes. That was always good to do but it was fascinating to see how he could be even more energic than Kise-kun after working for two hours.

"Is it Taiga ? TAIGA, FIGHT ME !"

"Taiga will probably come later." She told him to go and assist practice everyday although she knew he didn't want to go. Of course, Taiga was wrong: he was worthy to be called Seirin's ace that was why she promised in exchange detailed datas about Tatsuya, to be by Seirin's sides and not alone.

"Oh." All Taiga and Jean were doing everytime they saw each other was arguing and screaming 'fight me !' in french or english or even both and yet, they were disappointed when they didn't get to see each other.

Males and friendship.

She was surprised to see Takao-kun accompanying Midorima-kun, a grin on his face, contrasting with Midorima-kun's grim face. "Yo, Masuko-san !"

"Midorima-kun took Takao-kun with him as well, what a surprise." She turned back to her computer to say "Well, I shall let you eat your lunch guys. Do work well and if you need any help, send me something. See you at the results for APB !"

"Say Taiga to better be champion as well !"

"Hey, Emilie's new friends ! We can't see you on the screen but know that Emilie is one hell of a scary girl."

"Scary as fuck."

"Sadistic captain who loves giving laps."

Oh God, why. "Guys, please."

"But she's also like the coolest girl so treat her well."

"GIRLFRIEND MATERIAL !"

"For heaven's sake Jean, not again."

"What ? Just stating the truth because I, her ex, could attest you of that fact and –

"Okay, now I should leave you." She closed the laptop to ignore whatever idiocy they would tell. She coughed slightly before finally properly greet them. "Domo, Midorima-kun, Takao-kun. I do apologize for... my teammates remarks."

"No worries, they look cool."

"Takao-kun is right though handling all of them was exhausting sometimes." She couldn't believe she named Jean as the new captain... Well, he was probably the most serious among them even if it didn't seem to be the case (sometimes even herself doubted it).

"Wait, I didn't know Masuko-san had glasses."

She took them off and detached her ponytail. "I only wear them to rest my eyes when I read since my eyes are my main tool to play. So, how did practice go ?" Midorima-kun bent down to allow her to put the usual peck on his cheeks as greeting.

"It went well as usual."

"That's great and how – Um, is Takao-kun... blushing ?"

"No way, no !" It could have been convincing if his voice didn't went an octave higher.

It took a moment to understand the reason. Of course, it was the differences between France and Japan. It was always that. "I tend to forget how french and japanese cultures are different so I do apologize if this kind of thing makes you uncomfortable. It's just the way we usually greet friends or at least aquaintances in France."

"It's okay... That's just... kinda unusual to me, I guess." Maman wasn't kidding when she said physical contact between two people, even in relationship was limited in public.

"I see. Midorima-kun had the same reaction the first time we greeted this way as well."

Her last sentence visibly erased the discomfort he was feeling to her own relieve, "I bet Shin-chan was blushing pffffff –"

"Shut up Takao !"

"I found it cute, somehow."

"I AM NOT CUTE !"

She raised her eyebrows. "It's almost amusing how I always get such strong reaction from males whenever I associate them with the word 'cute'... Anyway, if you want to stay here to eat, Taiga will arrive soon."

"Hm."

"Wait, Kagami knows how to cook ?"

"Of course he does since he lives alone. We're cooking together when we're not eating at Maji Burger."

"Masuko-san live alone as well ?"

"My family is still in France because academic year isn't over yet and there are many things to adjust and resolve before coming here. I was supposed to come in August as well but with this injury..."

"Yo, Emilie, Midorima, what's – Why the hell Takao's here ?"

"Yo !"

"Come on Taiga, if you could get along with Midorima-kun, you can do it with Takao-kun as well."

"... Fine. Wanna eat ?" Taiga sat down on the bed and planted a kiss on her cheek. She looked at the food he brought. American, as usual.

"Yeah, I'd eat anything after the practice we had !"

"Taiga, the team greet you and wish you to become champion as well."

"Was that from that bastard ? Did he pick a fight again ?"

"Jean and you are unbelievable, how could you even pick a fight even when being thousands miles apart ?"

"But he's more annoying than Kise and Midorima puttogether !"

Taiga was visibly unaware Jean and him had the same attitude "Oi ! Don't compare me to Kise."

"You all have such strange way to show affection between you, especially Jean and you."

"Like hell, he's not my friend."

"Of course. In case you want to know how is Mr. 'not' your friend, he's working hard for french exams and he's preparing the preliminaries for next month at the same time." She knew he could make it though.

"Oh yeah, Junior Years are having exams too there. They're preparing for the European, right ?"

"That's right." Leading her team to the European was supposed to be her last goal but her injury prevented her from doing that but she didn't leave with regrets. Leaving with the Nationals won was more than enough.

"Wait, that guy was your senpai ?"

"Jean is a year above I, Takao-kun, but he's not my senpai because such thing doesn't exist in France. I think the senpai/kouhai system only exists here."

"Yeah, I still don't understand that thing."

"I must say it can be a confusing system sometimes but we were partners so we considered each other as equals." Trust and equality were the most important elements that made their partnership on the field work.

"I still can't believe who named him captain."

"Come on Taiga, do you think I would chose Zahi ? Or Fadel ?"

"You got a point... But what about him ?"

It was true Theo would do a good captain but Jean and her decided to give it time. "He's not mature enough yet but he's the new vice-captain."

"I see." She knew Taiga had a fondness for him, knowing he had been through the same thing as her.

"I always wanted to know how captains choose their successor ?" Takao-kun looked genuinely curious about that matter.

"The captain isn't always the best player but is always the main pillar of the team and knows the team and its members, their strengths and weaknesses. I don't think there is a precise type of captain because it depends of how the team is and wants to be but a captain must assume the result of the match, whether victory or defeat. You can say it's both a blessing and a burden but the most important thing is to believe in each member no matter how naturally gifted they are. If someone has all these qualifications or at least most of them, then the post is granted."

Silence was the last thing she expected, knowing how reactive they were. Taiga finally filled the silence. "You sure you're fifteen, Emilie ?"

"Watch your mouth, Taiga."

"Ouch !" He was fortunate the pillow was the closest thing to her hand because she should have thrown her book in his face. "It wasn't an insult, it's just you're saying amazing words and all."

"Yeah, Masuko-san is awesome."

"Oh." She blushed, embarrassed by such compliments from Taiga and Takao-kun. "You know, Taiga can say amazing speeches as well, once he made a speech about –

"DON'T, YOU BASTARD !"

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