Fragments

of basketball and chemistry

[PRELUDE OF SUMMER TRAINING CAMP ARC]

"I still can't believe you didn't tell me you went out the other time !"

"Come on Miyuki, I already apologized !"

"I didn't even know you could go out a week before our release."

"Well, it's because I've been here for a year that they let me."

"I see." The pout remained on her face and Teppei gave her his speepish expression, not knowing what else to say at his defense. He wouldn't tell her he went to Seirin to finally meet Kuroko – because it wouldn't be fun to tell her now – and since she was good at seeing lies, he said nothing. "Well, that's our last official day at the hospital. We should celebrate it with food !"

He was surprised to see she had indeed food. A homemade sort of cake. "How did you do that ?"

She laughed, giving him some of the food she had. He never saw that kind of cake before. "It's obvious I couldn't do it here, Teppei ! That's from my best friend, Taiga, who promised me a pastry before my release. It's called profiteroles, it's not really a cake but it's a choux pastry ball filled with pastry cream."

Kagami, the new ace of Seirin's and Miyuki's best friend. One of the reasons why he didn't tell her who he was because he wanted to know more about her as a person and not as manager (it was obvious she was too professional, meaning she would have mainly talked about tactical things if he would have told her he was part of the team) and because she knew a lot about Kagami (Riko even told him they met in America when they were kids). He looked at the cake again and took a bite. "It tastes good, woah !"

"Taiga is a really good cook ! That's his main talent with basketball."

"Is that so ?"

"Yep, though... He recently had a hard defeat against one of the member of the Generation of Miracles." It was almost funny how someone who just recently arrived knew about their reputation.

"Is he okay now ?" Figures. It took him weeks, months to be okay again after his defeat against them. He wasn't even sure he was completely okay and he had been among the lucky ones.

"Not really as you can imagine, but he's getting better. I told him to go to practice even if he can't play for now because I don't want him to be alone."

"I see..." Hyuuga and Riko were right, she really was a good friend. "Do you think your best friend and the team will get over it soon ?"

"Of course they will. I knew they would lose but there's still a chance they'll become strong enough for the Winter Cup."

"Oh ?" That was something he was sure she didn't, or more like couldn't tell to Riko. It was understandable because there was no way to tell to a team (especially to the coach) as their manager they weren't strong enough to win yet. Miyuki knew it and didn't tell them to spare their feelings. She probably had tiny hopes they would won too... Because he had the same thoughts.

"I'm only here since two months so I'm probably more impartial and I saw how the Generation of Miracles play... There was no way the team could beat that for the moment."

"For the moment, uh ?"

"Yep." She wagged her head, a half smile on her face before eating again. "I never asked, but what's your position ?"

"You mean in basketball ?"

"Well of course Teppei, what did you imagine ? In football ?"

"Ah, you're right... I'm Center."

He heard her grumbling, "The only post I can't play..."

"Huh, why ?" Did she hate that post ?

"Teppei, there's a little height difference between you and I... Even in football I can't play this post."

Right. But she wasn't so tiny for a female. She was even taller than most of japanese females... but that was probably she was half french. "Wait, football and basketball have the same posts ?"

"Not really since every player in basketball do both defense and attack while in football it's different because we're eleven per team."

"That's why ! And what post did you play ?"

"Left back winger. Basically it means I was on defense. It's strange but I imagined you as point guard. Well, I can understand, I like being on attack and defense as well on football. I hope I'll be able to play again in six or eight months."

"Isn't that a bit quick ? It's the professional rhythm and it could be pretty dangerous..." What he was going to do himself was dangerous for his future career but it was his only solution to win for Seirin. It was this year or never.

She put a hand his shoulder reassuringly, an unusual smirk on her face. "Teppei, I plan to go on an international competition, so I'll be on the professional level."

"Uh ?" He couldn't even hide his shock. That was something Riko didn't tell him.

"Not many people know it here for know but I'm aiming the World's Cup. Amusingly it will be held next year in Japan and I'll play for France but that's another story I can tell you one day. Do you want to play cards again ?"

He stayed a moment silent, still agape by what she just said. There was obviously more to know behind her statement but he didn't want to intimidate her with tons of questions to answer. He had time. She was Seirin's manager and she was getting to know him. She would confide when she would feel comfortable enough, it was okay. "Of course ! Can I have some cake again ?"

"It's not a cake, Teppei, it's called profiteroles."

"But that's hard to say."

"Then I'd learn you some french."

Miyuki really made the end of his rehab a lot more fun.


"I must deeply thank Osawa-sensei and Midorima-san once again for the operation and also for permitting me to get release me of the hospital and let me persue my reeducation by my own choice and methods." She bowed as much as the crutches in her hands permitted her to. She knew they could have said no. Most people would have said no with what was at stake but she didn't want to sacrifice everything to make it to the World's Cup, her education at school and Taiga were more important. "I can assure to Osawa-sensei and Midorima-san I will come here for the appointments to continue and strengthen my reeducation."

Osawa-sensei allowed himself a rare smile, the strict look he had smoothen by the expression he was making. "Masuko-san, there's no need to thank me again, I did my work here."

"We are honored you entrusted such important elements for your future career to our hospital." Midorima-san bowed as well. It was almost strange to see such man as Midorima's father bowing. She saw the similarities in father and son, both on physical and moral characteristics. He wasn't as tall as his son but had the same green hair and eyes and the seriousness known as Midorima-kun's main characteristic was striking when she saw his father as well.

"I should leave you, I have another operation planned in fifteen minutes."

"Do so, Osawa-sensei." Midorima-san gave a nod to Osawa-sensei before turning back to her. "I heard from my son you are also a basketball manager."

"Hai, I'm Seirin's manager."

She read slight surprise in his eyes. "Isn't that the team that beat Shintaro ?"

"Hai."

"And you became friends after ?"

"Indeed, Midorima-san."

"Interesting", he paused before saying "My daughter admires you greatly, Masuko-san."

"Is that so ?", she answered not knowing how to react. Such thing was new to her but it wasn't necessarily bad. It was good to have someone to look up to as a young girl, especially when it was another female. She would have liked to have a female football to look up to when she was younger because it might have been easier for her to believe she could be considered by everyone as good as a male. "Then I'm honored she considers me as good enough to be followed as an example."

"Such modesty, Masuko-san. My daughter showed me some video and I must say you do have the potential to become a full professional. Have you thought about it ? Because it could change important elements of your reeeudcation."

Of course she would have to answer to this question. It would be one of the main questions she would have to answer next year during the World's Cup "I... considered the possibility but finally decided against."

"Oh." She knew he wanted to know why but didn't ask by politeness and she was grateful. "Well, I shall leave you for now, Masuko-san. Do not forget your next appointment."

"Of course." She finally left the room after giving a last look at it. She could finally return to her apartment and Seirin after these three weeks. Taiga was waiting for her in front of the exit of the hospital, her lugage in his hands.

"Took you long enough, Emilie. Bet you spent all this time thanking them."

"Oh come on, Taiga I owe them a lot."

"Maybe but you're always being too polite. Anyway, let's just go home."

"You're right."

She was relieved the ride wasn't long as she finally finally went back to home. "You did water the flowers, Taiga, I'm surprised !"

"Don't underestimate me !"

"Anyway, did you make food already ?"

"Oi !" he shouted, while she ignored his last remark. "Yeah, it's in the fridge."

"Great."

She sat down while Taiga brought the food. "Here."

"Thanks."

They never did the japanese tradition between them before eating, being too used to directly eat and she didn't mind because it was between them.

She looked around. Coming back to the apartment made her noticed how empty it looked. "I should seriously begin to fill the rooms."

"Why ? I think it looks fine."

"It's because you have no decoration at home, that's why."

"Meh, I don't really care."

"I can see... By the way, how did practice go while I wasn't here ?"

"I couldn't play so..." She hit him on the elbow. "Ouch ! I was joking, I'll play tomorrow so that's – No don't hit me again ! I know what you mean and yeah, you were right they're not okay." He wasn't as well. But at least, he talked to her about it.

She sighed. "It's normal, after all everyone tried their best. Well, I'll try to do something with Riko-san ! And when you'll work up your differences with Tetsuya, I'll make you the additional training you wanted. And don't lie to me, I know you still haven't talk with him about it."

"I know ! But I'm not the kind to make the discussion."

"But neither is Tetsuya..."

"Yeah."

"But you'll have to talk if you want to fix your issues."

"I know ! I'll do it after the practice matches, okay."

"Fine." She smiled, knowing it took him great efforts to accept it. Taiga was skeptical about coming to practice even if he couldn't play but finally went with a smile to tell her it was great to see the team was here for him too. Talking about team. "I forgot to tell you the three of them have the bac !"

"Oh, they have it ! And where are they going next year ?"

The bac or baccalauréat was the equivalent of US's highschool 'Graduation' that every student in last year want to have to continue after highschool. "Blaise is going to the Faculty of Medicine in the city, Tahani is going to STAPs and Etienne will be working for the social center."

"That's amazing !"

"I'm so proud of them. I bet they're celebrated since they got the results."

"Having that thing is a miracle."

"You're saying that because you're too lazy to work, if you thought I forgot the term tests, you're wrong. I hope you'll put at least some efforts, Taiga."

Ugh, tests again. "No need to say it, I don't want laps again."

"Good", she said, a sly look on her face. "By the way Taiga, don't wait for me after classes tomorrow, I have to go somewhere before joining you to practice." She already informed Riko-san about the possible lateness but said she would catch it up by spending a few hours at Aida Sports Gym for her reeducation to Riko-san's elation.

"I have to give to Midorima-kun his gift since he couldn't come to visit this week." She texted him a 'Happy Birthday' though and she recieved a short yet polite 'Arigatō gozaimasu, Masuko-san.', which was better than the 'Go die' Kise-kun had (he had complained to her through texts full of sad emojis).

"Crap, it was last week, I forgot – I mean, yeah just go see that bastard."

"Of course." These two were unbelievable. Why were they so stubborn to admit they were friends ? Or maybe it was their way to show they were friends (...kinda friends at least).

"Wait, how will you do when you'll have french classes ? Spanish is already taking you two hours every week."

"Don't worry about it Taiga, I'll just arrive late once per week at practice and begin at 8 A.M instead of 9 A.M on tuesday."

"Is that enough hours for you ?"

Taiga was right. She used to have four hours per week but now had only two. "No but it'll work for this year. I'll see what to do for next year, but I think it'll be easier without math !"

"Stop grinning like an idiot everytime you think about stopping math."

"Well, stop sleeping everytime we have class."

"Okay, you won that one."

"Then I would ask you to make for Tetsuya and I breakfast tomorrow."

"No matter what I would've done it already", he grumbled though the tone he was using made it obvious he enjoyed spending time with Tetsuya and her outside of school even if he had to cook. She invited him a few days ago to eat breakfast with them the morning after her release from hospital to celebrate eat (celebrating and eating was the same thing, anyway).

Taiga took her plate to wash it "Come sooner tomorrow to actually tell me what do you want to eat and prepare."

"I will."


She did not come sooner. Taiga wanted to go and see if she was still sleeping but Kuroko was supposed to come in a few minutes. She was still probably sleeping for once, which was good. She must have been really tired not to come sooner for food. FOOD. She LOVED food. Almost as much as himself loved food (but didn't eat as much as him though she ate a lot for a girl).

The doorbell interrupted his thought. It was probably her, finally. "Took you long enough, Emi – GAH Kuroko, it's you !" Oh right, she had the keys, she would have never knock the door.

"Domo."

"What's with the hair ?" It was a mess (he couldn't think about another word to describe it).

"It's just this way the morning." Oddly enough, his voice was the most expressive when he was still more or less asleep.

"Wait, every morning ?"

"Hai."

"How did I never saw that ?"

"Kagami-kun is always sleeping during classes the morning... And also the rest of the day."

"Bastard, I didn't forget you told it to Emilie last time."

"Miyuki-san would have known it anyway."

True...

Kuroko saying someone's first name was so weird but kinda good too. Hearing Emilie's last name everytime and everywhere was not a thing in the US nor in France when he went to see her. "Yeah, right." She knew him too much and she had like a super-power when it was about him doing something bad. "Come in."

He let in him and went directly to the kitchen. "You can sit here while I begin to prepare food. Oi Kuroko, what is it ?"

He was just staring at him dumbly and said "Kagami-kun's house... is really big."

"I was supposed to live here with the oldman but he had to stay in America. Emilie's coming here everytime so she kinda lives here too." She even planned to custom his house for whatever reasons she had.

The sound of keys opening the door finally announced Emilie's arrival. "Hello Taiga." She rubbed her eyes and she saw Kuroko (she still was really sleepy). "Ohayō Tetsuya ! I apologize for my current state, I'm still not used to wake up at this hour." To think she was still sleeping while he was having class at 8 (well, he was sleeping too but that's another thing).

"It's not a problem." Was that surprise in Kuroko's voice ? Well, he was probably one of the only person who saw her like this, with her Pjs and still half-asleep. It must change from the usual oh so neat Emilie with her uniform impeccably worn and her politeness.

"Your clothes are still in the room." She put one of her three uniform here and he did the same in her apartment.

"Thanks man." She went to his room to put her uniform, leaving her shoes and her bag on the doorstep.

Kuroko look at him with his stupid face, waiting for an explanation, "Emilie speaks french or english when she's tired or angry."

"I understand now."

He looked at the fridge and took the milk, orange juice and some eggs. "What do you wanna eat ?"

"I'm not really hungry, Kagami-kun."

"If Emilie hears that, she'll kill you. Come on, I'll make you something." Emilie was such a worry mom sometimes, especially about food. Talking about her... he shouted to Emilie. "What do you wanna eat, sleeping beauty ?"

"Do you still have pancake batter ?"

"Yep."

"Then I'll take some, please. I'll make my hot cocoa myself."

"Got it." He prepared that for her and made some for Kuroko too. He felt like he was the kind of guy who loved more sweet than salty. He was pretty sure the thing he ate the most was vanilla milkshake and that wasn't even really food.

"I'm still sore from yesterday's session." She took longer than usual to get ready so yeah, she was still sleepy. She continued to complain while making for herself the hot cocoa she took every morning. "I have a little too forced on abdominal crunches yesterday." Ah yes, she was making exercices to keep her in shape too. She was a good athlete, maybe even better at him. "I missed my sweet cocoa ! Tetsuya, do you want one as well ?"

"Hai."

"It's a cinnamon hot chocolate, I hope you don't mind."

"No..." Kuroko was probably used to traditional japanese breakfast because he looked lost or something like that (his face was too hard to read in the morning and the hair was distracting).

"You're making dinner tonight, Emilie, I don't care."

"Don't worry, I will. I bet it's because you're tired to make food for us during for weeks, especially for Midorima-kun and Kise-kun."

The little shit ! She was... totally right. "Shut up. They just eat too much."

"Of course, and you don't at all." He sulked, not knowing how to reply. She pinched his nose like she always did. "Oh come on, don't sulk, I'll make home-made cheeseburger tonight for you."

He smirked, happy to have what he wanted. Emilie's cheeseburger were seriously the best.

"Miyuki-san and Kagami-kun look like a family."

They turned their head at the same time, "We get that a lot."

"Usually people call us 'platonic married couple' or 'brother and sister' but they're not really right. I just consider my best friends as my another family but they're not my brothers." That was how he considered Emilie, yeah, except he didn't know how to say it with words. She joined Kuroko and he took everything on a tray because she couldn't take a thing with a crutch in each hand.

Kuroko accepted the cup and Emilie was waiting for a reaction. "It tastes... Really good !"

Was that... a HALF-SMILE ? FROM KUROKO ?! "Then I'll make it everytime you come for breakfast."


Shintaro looked again the content of this text. He had read it correctly the first time. "What is it, Shin-chan ?"

"Nothing." It was Masuko. She sent him a curious text this morning (and he still didn't answer because he didn't know what to write).

'Domo, Midorima-kun, I hope you are well. Could I see you after classes ? I can come to Shutoku at 4.20 P.M if it doesn't bother you.'

"That's Masuko-san !"

He jumped in surprise. How annoying. "Oi ! Don't look at my phone, Takao."

"But I called you outloud three times and you didn't answered... So why does she want to see you ?"

"I don't know." What was the purpose of her visit ?... The thing that bothered him even more the the reason of her visit was the fact she was still in crutches. Did she really think she could go here with crutches now ? She was just released yesterday from the hospital !

"You can answer, you know."

"Shut up", he automatically replied while indeed responding her.

'aren't you on crutches Masuko-san ?' A rhetoric question both knew the answer.

'...Inded, I am.'

"What an idiot." He said outloud before standing up.

"What are you doing, Shin-chan ?"

"I'm going to Seirin, nanodayo."

"Shin-chan, we have practise in an hour."

"I'll be back on time."

"Okay !" What ? No 'I'm coming with you, Shin-chan' or any stupidity ? He has probably something else to do.

"Hm." It took him fifteen minutes to arrive at Seirin. It was small compared to Shutoku but the buildings were new, with trees and flowers everywhere. He saw Masuko, with her two crutches and her bag on her shoulder, without the usual blue vest she wore.

"Masuko-san."

"Midorima-kun ! I promise it won't be too long but could we go somewhere where I could sit, please ?" He nodded and she led them under one of the sakura trees where benches were installed.

"I got you a present for your birthday."

"Masuko-san, you didn't need to –

"I promised you a gift, so a gift you shall have." She opened her bag and took something neatly wrapped out of her bag. Before he could say something, she put her lips on his left cheek. It wasn't like the pecks she made as greetings that lasted merely a second. It felt... warm and sweet. He remembered Kagami saying Masuko was someone really affectionate towards her friends despite being initially cold and reserved. He had to agree with him. It probably also felt like this because he was blushing.

"Happy belated birthday, Midorima-kun", she said, her hand still laying on his shoulder.

He watched the smile that was spreading on her face before looking at what he was now holding. "Arigatō gozaimasu."

"Open it." The gift in his hands had the shape of the book. Unsurprising, knowing she had a fondness for books. He opened it carefully and discorevered a notebook, with a brown and golden cover. He looked at the first page and saw the inscription in kanjis saying: 'Biology and Chemistry notes' with a few sentences in english below.

"Wha –"

"Turn the pages."

He did so and read things that he had learnt a month ago and even things he didn't know yet. "I transcribed the notes I took during classes in my former highschool in japanese. I know these are your favorite subjects and since you want to become a doctor, I thought it could be useful for you because I know you think most of gifts are just useless and we're still not friends enough for things like jewelry."

He didn't even ask how she knew all these things but it was surely something she had deduced by herself. He turned the pages and noticed how the notes were detailed yet organized, sometimes explained with drawings. "You didn't have to do this, Masuko-san."

"It was something that permitted me to progress with kanjis and remembering everything I saw in classes again. I even added notes of my friends who were in classes above mine. It can be good for you, especially since one of them is going to the Faculty of Medicine next year."

It was strange to see how much she wrote since it wasn't her favorite subjects. "I thought you appreciate literary subjects."

"I do prefer literary subjects but I appreciate biology and chemistry as well, I was even second in my classes in these two subjects. Math is the only subject I hate."

Masuko really had an aversion for math.

"I shall leave Midorima-kun now. I have to go to practice and you as well."

Practice, right. "Goodbye, Masuko-san."

"'Masuko' is fine, you know. And if you didn't understand something in the notes, text me."

Did she knew using 'san' was not usual for him ? Porbably again. "Hai... Masuko." He stood up, and began to walk before stopping. "You can... call me 'Midorima' as well."

She stood up as well and whispered, "Fine, Midorima." She smirked and it was becoming more and more usual for him to see such expression from her.

He allowed himself to smile to Masuko's surprise who stopped. "Smiling suits you", she told him before going to the gymnasium (probably).


She tried to enter in the gymnasium as discreetly as possible. Obviously it didn't work. "Oi, Masuko, come here !"

"Took you long enough, Emilie."

"Captain !" Was it her or Hyuuga-senpai was more irritated than usual ?

"Welcome back, Masuko-chan !" Furihata-kun came once a week to visit her at the hospital, sometimes bringing with him books from the library.

"Arigatō, Furihata-kun." Everyone came around her to welcome her back and she thanked them, grateful for their kindness.

She saw one more person was with them. Brown hair, really tall... "Teppei ?"

He waved at her casually, "Yo, Miyuki." Casually ? How ?

"What..."

"Masuko-chan, you know Kiyoshi-senpai ?"

She laughed, laughed at herself. There were many clues. The smirk when she said her name, the fact he knew she prefered using first name or the lack of the mention of his highschool's name... That was where he went last time ! "You're good, Teppei, really to have been able to fool me. But... Riko-san knew it as well, am I right ?" She took it as a challenge. To have someone of the same kind as her in the same team...

Teppei made his goofy smile and it was obvious Hyuuga-senpai didn't believe it as well. "Haha, about that... I asked Riko not to tell you, to make you a surprise."

"Well, you did surprise me." But if Riko-san accepted, there was a good reason for it.

He stopped smiling and she knew he was going to say something stupid. "Wait, can you still be Seirin's manager and train for the World Cup at the same time ?"

She stared at him agape while everyone looked at her. He. did. it. on. purpose. "Well..."

"What is it about, Masuko-chan ?"

"Wait what ?"

"You're going to participate to a World Cup ?"

The team was asking tons of questions and she didn't what to say first. The fact they knew didn't bother her because she intended to tell them but it wasn't how she planned it. Damn that Teppei.She would get a revenge one day.

"EVERYONE STOP !" Silence. Riko-san really was her savior ! Meanwhile Taiga was enjoying it too much, that bastard (he would pay it as well for sure).

"Masuko-chan chose to continue her reeducation with I to play football again..."

"And I'll be part of the french national team for the U17 Women's World Cup that will be held in a year here but be at ease everyone, I will still keep help you to become number one", she finished, apprehensive to see their reaction.

"That's..."

"AWESOME ! Masuko-chan is so awesome !"

"We're so going to be number one in Japan with Masuko-chan and Coach with us."

She blushed, so happy and so relieved to see how enthusiastic they all were. It changed from reactions she used to have everytime she said she played football.

'You're a girl.' 'You can't beat boys.' 'Females will always be less known than boys.' 'Why football ?' 'Yeah, you're just showing off to look cool with boys.'

Why was she always always compared males ? Why did people think comparing to males was something that would make her feel inferior ?

She wasn't seven anymore, the fear of being less competent than a male in football was erased now. Of course she knew males have the advantage of being taken more seriously as a player, that was a fact. But she knew she was as strong as them, if not more sometimes (because most of them were incompetent when it came to tactics).

And she was just so happy papa saw it, the team saw it as well and didn't care she was a female, she was a player first. Seirin didn't care neither...

Taiga went to the good team. They went to the good highschool.

"I hope you'll accept to help me as well since I'll be having practice with you from tomorrow."

"Of course !"

"We'll talk about it tomorrow ! Everyone, split into two teams, you're playing two games of thirty minutes. Teppei, go with the blue team." Riko-san was visibly as curious as her about how would Teppei play with Taiga. She also noticed Riko-san didn't put Taiga and Tetsuya in the same team, probably knowing they didn't fix their issues yet.

"Hai !"

Taiga played like usual, like he did since he was with Seirin. He was full of energy and even smiling. It was a relieve. Perhaps her words had an effect on him. He didn't need to talk to make her know how he felt but she knew the fact that Tatsuya was coming soon and play against Seirin made him want to be the best ace Seirin could have and seeing how he worked well with them was such a nice sight. He played really well with Teppei. "Teppei is really good though I'm sure he isn't playing at his best."

"How do you know that, Masuko-chan ?"

"Well, he's... wearing indoor shoes, Riko-san."

Teppei might be really clever but tended to have his head in the clouds, honestly (maybe her old team was doing fine compared to him). Riko-san dropped her whistle.

"Masuko-chan, give me my paper fan please."

"How much credit are you going to give them ? Right Shin-chan ? I guess you wouldn't know, huh ?"

Shintaro made the shot before turning his head to answer to Takao. "I know him." Kiyoshi Teppei, Iron Heart. Of course he knew him.

"What ?"

"From middle school. We only played him once, but I remember him. Kuroko had not join yet, so he likely doesn't know about him." He was the captain of his team and their point guard. He was good.

"What kind of guy is he ?"

"It was similar to the recent Touou game. In the face of overwhelming odds, just like Kuroko, he refused to give up until the very end."

"Wait a second... That doesn't make any sense." Huh ? "You ended up going to see the championship league ! 'I don't want to see it,' my ass !"

He didn't go to see it because he felt concerned about Kuroko nor Kagami's well being, no it was because... "I simply live nearby."

"You live far away ! And in the opposite direction ! I know it !"

"..." Adding something would only make it worse.

"By the way, how did it go with Masuko-san ?" It was the tone Takao was using everytime he wanted to say something, something that would irritate him. Coincidentally or not, he was using it everytime Masuko was referred.

"Good."

"Oh, come one Shin-chan, tell me, I've been dying to knooow ! What did she want ? Did she ask you something ? Was it –"

"She gave me a belated birthday present."

"What is it ? Do you love it ?"

"I'm going to the locker room, Takao."

"Shin-chaaaan, come on ! That means she gave you a good gift, right ?"

He stopped his steps and sighed, knowing Takao wouldn't give up on this. "Indeed."

He was wrong about even saying a word because while he drove the rickshaw, Takao asked even more questions. After going back home and eating dinner, he went to his bedroom to look at the notebook Masuko gave him.

He skipped the ten first pages since he already saw in classes these things. He stopped at the page talking about potassium permanganate. "KMnO4 can be used to determine the quantity of total oxidisable organic material in aqueous samples : permanganate value. In this experiment (here drawn), its aqueous shape was used as an oxidizing titrant for redox titrations (color change). Redox is explained on the two next pages. Below the drawing, KmnO4 is represented with the Lewis structures."

He hesitated. The 'Lewis structures' seemed obvious to her because she already studied it but he new saw it at middle school. Well, she said to text her if needed and he decided to do so.

'Masuko, I hope I'm not bothering you. Can you tell me more about the 'Lewis Represention' ?'

He sent it but then thought it might not be the good time to text someone. She might be even sleeping. Fortunately he recieved a quick answer that confirmed she was still awake.

'You're not bothering me, Midorima. I'm still outside with Taiga for his additional training, so we can text. I made what you can call 'ressource' pages at the end explaining things such as Lewis Representation and elementary experimental procedures you need to know to do and represent with drawings.'

He went to the last pages and saw more drawings to explain how to use volumetric pipette for example and also what he was looking for. The mention of an additional training for Kagami in her text intrigued him slightly. Was she simply watching or coaching him ?

'Arigatō, Masuko. Isn't it late for training ?'

He closed the notebook, noticing it was almost midnight but remembered the sentences in english he didn't have time to read when Masuko gave him the notebook. He went back to the first page and he could read the words 'General knowledge' written in a feminine and neat writing. If she wrote it in english, then it meant she knew he could read it and it wasn't related to the content... not directly, at least. He slowly read the text outloud, to be sure to understand everything.

"Amusingly, chesmistry in english is also used as a metaphor to describe a relationship between two people (mostly romantic but can apply to platonic). Like in a chemical reaction, if two people react well together, a positive reaction will be created, on the contrary, a bad reaction can be created, just like potassium and water."

When Shintaro said she was confusing, this was just an example of what he had stated. He saw a little asterisk saying : *it was in my original notebook (for a work in english) and I chose to still retranscribe it because I thought it could be interesting to know.

He recalled the time where Masuko talked about how french tests worked. Unlike their test where he could learn and pass the test without necessarily understanding the content, it seemed theirs needed more reflexions about a precise subject. It was probably why Masuko used anecdotes while tutoring Kise and Kagami (strangely, it worked with them since these anecdotes made them understand what they were studying).

He recieved a new text cutting his thoughts.

'Taiga loves playing basketball after diner so he always goes here and Tetsuya sometimes joins us. Taiga asked me to train him after the defeats so starting tonight I'm doing this !'

He knew she had something in mind. She always had. Unlike Kagami, she probably knew jumping was not enough against them. Especially against Aomine because he wasn't even at his strongest against Seirin and they still had lost with a wide gape. Kagami was also still not used to restrict his power and injured himself, how foolish.

'I see. Let's hope your training will get Seirin to the Winter Cup.'

If the whole team improved, they could have another match during the Final League, or even the Winter Cup. He wanted... no needed a revenge. Losing was an experiment that awakened his desire to play but to avenge. Winning against Seirin was something he longed for. His phone signalized a new message.

'I don't think you need to worry, Midorima, not only him but Seirin will be stronger. I can even tell you something useful for you and your team.'

Masuko was really intriguing. Did Seirin have new a technique ? No, there was no way she would reaveal something of this nature to another team as Seirin's manager. She was professional, no matter how friends she was with persons of a rival team.

'What is it, Masuko ?'

'Kiyoshi Teppei. He has returned to practice today and will be part of the new Seirin.'

He stared at his phone, unsure he read the information correctly. Iron Heart. So he was really back, huh. He smirked. Interesting.

'You can even tell to your coach if you want ;)'

He slowly chuckled. Winter Cup would really be interesting.


"Great, Taiga !"

After minutes or hours of juggling a soccer ball (Emilie would kill him if she heard the word 'soccer') with his feet, she finally let him play basketball. She didn't explained why she did that weird training (usually he would touch a soccer ball because she wanted to play with someone but it wasn't the case with her injury, duh !) and he didn't asked because she always had a reason.

Yep, her methods made this bunch of idiots back in France better and they became champions so whatever she would tell him to do was good. She would explain at one point anyway. He closed his eyes to concentrate and replayed the practice game they had. It wasn't enough. If he wanted to beat all of them, he had to survive a one-on-one. 'Them' included Tatsuya too. Emilie gave him his datas and it was as ridiculous as the Generation of Miracles and she didn't even write about his ultimate technique. 'You won't believe me until you see it by yourself', she said and she looked pretty scared.

"Kagami-kun !"

This was definitly not Emilie. He turned his head to see his teammate out of breath. "Kuroko..."

"Tetsuya."

"Can I talk to Kagami-kun for a minute ?"

"If you want privacy, I can go somewhere else", she screamed, still sitting on the bench.

"Miyuki-san can stay as well."

He waved at Emilie because he needed some water and she threw the bottle. After driking half of the water, he asked, "What did you want to talk about ?"

"I apologize. The truth is, I haven't gotten all my thoughts together yet."

"Oi !" How did that guy can come here and say that ?

"I don't know where to start. Please give me a minute."

"From now ? Sheesh." He threw the ball at Kuroko and he read surprise on his face. "I've got nothing to do while I wait."

"Why not –

He didn't even need to turn his head to reply "No Emilie, not juggling again." She was probably pouting again.

"You're no fun, Taiga." Yep, definitely pouting.

"Play against me. You can think while you play."

"Taiga, you can't even think while playing, so that's rich coming from you" There were moments where she acted like a child on purpose like now, grumbling not so discreetly shit with her so polite fake tone. Why were they best friends again ?

"As if !"

"Don't fool yourself, Taiga."

"All right, my fourtheenth point !"

"Um, please go easier on me today. I can't think like this." Okay, maybe Emilie was right. But like hell he would admit. She would make that annoying face everytime she was right.

"I am going easy on you ! You're just too weak !" He stopped boucing the ball, remembering with a smile their first one-on-one on the same place. "The first time we played was a lot like this, too. When I later found out what you could really do, I was blown away. Not only that but..." He remembered perfectly Kuroko's word about him becoming his shadow. "Hey, I've been wondering about something since then. Why did you choose me ?"

He just had this odd feeling. He could've asked to Emilie but even her couldn't be a hundred percent sure. "Sumimasen. I have to apologize to you. I lied. In middle school, I recieved an uniform as the team's sixth man."

"I know that. You were the trump card of the Generation of Miracles." (though he didn't know that much about his time in middle school but it must be as fucked up as Emilie's middle school)

"That's not quite right. They may have believed in me, but they did not trust me. I may be more accurate to say they stopped being able to trust me. When a was a first-year, I was an unreamarkable player. I joined the bench as the sixth man in my second year. Back then, I believe they still trusted me. But as their talents began blossoming like Aomine-kun, they lost their faith in me. The Generation of Miracles began placing their trust in themselves over everything else. If we were one point behind with only a few seconds in the game, they could not pass. They had to do it themselves. The truth is, it didn't have to be you. I simply to use you to force the Generation of Miracles to recognize my style of basketball."

That was a long ass speech from Kuroko. Well, he was used to this kind of thing with Emilie but Kuroko was saying all these things for this ? "I was wondering what you might say. I had a feeling it would be this." Kuroko's made his midly surprised face and he continued. "I've always felt it. I'm just like them. Even though you had supposedly quit the Teiko basketball team because you rejected the style of the Generation of Miracles, I knew why you chose to work with me. Everyone plays basketball for their own reasons. I'm not any different –

"No. Kagami-kun, you are different." Kuroko the ever so polite guy, interrupted him ? But how was he different ? "In all of our games so far, you trusted were not parting words, but words meant to make us stop relying on each other and become even stronger." He was talking about that time after they lost at the Final League in the lockeroom. Emilie knew without even being there it was just temporary and said it to Kuroko but he must have probably guessed himself too. "So we could combine even greater strength to win. Allow me to correct myself. I am glad I go to Seirin. All our senpais are wonderful people, our classmates who work alongside us are great as well, Miyuki-san is not only a good manager but also a great friend and you trusted me. I'm not Teiko Middle School's sixth man, Kuroko Tetsuya. I'm Seirin High first-year, Kuroko Tetsuya. I don't want to make someone else the best player in Japan. With you, and everyone else, I want to become the best in Japan ! That's why I'll become even stronger and defeat the Generation of Miracles."

"That's what I've been meaning to do all along. And you got it wrong again !" He passed the ball to Kuroko who gave him back to make a dunk. "You don't want to be the best. You're going to be the best !"

"Hai."

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