2. Those Weren't Parting Words
"Mi-chan, hurry up! Akashi-kun said he wanted Kuroko-kun in the gym five minutes ago!" Momoi complained, tugging on Mia's arm as they quickly walked down the hallway of Teiko Middle School.
"I don't see why it was necessary to bring me along, though." Mia answered as they finally arrived at the faculty office in their search for the man Akashi had requested.
Quickly making her way over to the teacher, Momoi smiled brightly and finally let go of Mia's arm once they had stopped walking.
"Excuse me," she began, "we were requested to bring Kuroko Tetsuya to the gym. Do you know where we may find him?"
"I'm Kuroko Tetsuya." A voice spoke up before the teacher could answer, leaving both girls in a state of confusion as they looked around the room for the source of the voice before finally landing on a pair of clear blue eyes that weren't there before.
"Woah!" Momoi exclaimed before jumping back and hitting the teacher's desk. Mia jumped slightly at the sudden presence as well. She didn't react the same as Momoi, but she did show more expression that day than she did any other day that week.
"Nice to meet you." Kuroko continued as if people being surprised of his presence was a normal thing. Which it was.
'He's totally invisible!' Mia exclaimed in her head, 'How the hell is he supposed to play basketball like this?!'
Luckily for her, Kuroko was about to show how he managed to be accepted into the first string of the basketball team and just how worthy he was to keep that position.
"Ugh..." Mia's voice groaned in depth of her soft pillow, letting out all of the pent up frustration she had accumulated over the past few days.
She had to keep a note that when Aunt Roxy says she will make arrangements, she means that she's going to kick you out of the house with bags she packed herself and send you off to another country the next day without so much as a day of rest in between.
What's worse is that she even bought a new bed and couch for Mia's new apartment and made her deal with signatures and the rest of the work right when she walked in from her flight.
It was tiring as hell and it was only 4 o'clock.
"Why..." Mia grumbled once more before flipping over on her bed to stare up at the ceiling.
Everything was white. From the ceiling, to the walls, to the white tiled floors in the bathroom and the white countertops in the kitchen. It was a nice apartment for sure, with an extra guest room and large bathroom for herself, but Mia couldn't help but wonder if everything was moving too quickly for her.
As if to get her mind off of everything that just happened, Mia stood from her bed and began to open the boxes her aunt had packed and forced her to bring with her.
Plates cracked, hangers bent, clothes wrinkled and wires tangled.
'Does that woman not know how to pack?' Mia thought, holding up the two biggest pieces of a white china plate, 'What the hell am I supposed to do with broken plates and bent hangers?'
Her dreams crushed and her right hand throbbing lightly again for handling objects too roughly, Mia dropped the broken plate and walked out of her room to grab her keys and bag. It seemed like she had to go shopping before she did anything else.
As she stuffed her cell phone inside her bag, Mia's fingers grazed over a piece of paper. Confused, she pull it out and recognized the middle school picture of her old teammates and herself. She looked around her new apartment before her eyes landed on the large, white fireplace in the large living room.
"First decoration." Mia declared, walking over and gently placing the frameless picture in the center of the mantle. The colorful heads of the Generation of Miracles already gave the room a splash of color and Mia couldn't help but chuckle slightly at the silly thought.
With the large mirror that hung above the mantle of the fireplace, Mia was able to see her reflection. Her black eye that she had received several days ago had reduced its swelling and the nasty shade of purple had toned down to a minimal shade, making her injury merely look like a large bruise on her cheekbone.
Other than that, her long black hair had wisps coming out of the french braid she created. Her deep blue eyes were full of sleep and her pale white skin seemed to have been tanned slightly since she lived near the beach for several months.
"Ugh..." Mia moaned again before turning on her heel and walking out her front door. She was really exhausted and just wanted to sleep!
'But,' Mia thought, walking down the street in the blazing heat of Japan, 'I may as well visit someone while I'm out.'
"Kuroko, you will be a starter for this game."
Mia could practically feel the teenager stiffen up and start to sweat as he reacted to the coach's words. This description would seem less like an understatement if Mia wasn't standing on the opposite side of the bench, away from Kuroko.
"Y-yes, sir." Kuroko answered, slowly standing up and unzipping his Teiko jacket.
Mia had to admit that even though the kid had amazing basketball skills, he just didn't seem fit to go off and start a game. Clutching her clipboard closer to her chest, she stared at Kuroko's descending back as he made his way to the middle of the court with the rest of the starters.
'His legs are even shaking.' Mia thought. 'If he keeps going like this, he's just going to fall and give himself a nosebleed.'
As usual, the raven haired girl was correct. Within a few seconds of the first whistle, Kuroko's legs had failed him and he had fallen face first on the court, making a small trail of blood come out of his nose.
"Teiko member change!" the referee shouted, temporarily stopping the game.
"I'm sorry." Kuroko told Mia. While the coach and Momoi were busy discussing the game, Mia was in charge of dealing with the injured player before her. It seemed like it was a leftover job given to rookie newcomers such as herself. After all, She just joined the basketball club a little over a week ago.
"Why are you telling me that?" Mia responded, handing him a handkerchief to wipe his nose. "You should be apologizing to your team and your coach. Im just the assistant manager in charge of getting people drinks and helping take care of the injured."
The silence that followed made their little interaction a bit awkward for Mia. Instead of having to watch him dab at his nose while waiting for his response like a total idiot, she sat down on the bench next to him, grabbing her clipboard and looking through the numbers and percentages written on the papers it held.
"I'm sorry." Kuroko's voice spoke once more, startling the teenager.
"I told you not to say that to me!" She scolded.
"I don't think you understand the importance of your job."
Did he just ignore her?!
"Those numbers you came up with during practice when we were discussing our opponent today, they were incredible! I believe you have a real talent with observing Takagi-san. And not just with basketball, with everything else you do as well. You know just what drink to buy everyone even after meeting them for one day and you know exactly where people are injured even if they don't say anything. So, you deserve an apology as well."
Mia had to admit, she most certainly did not expect a compliment like that coming out of the invisible boy. They never even spoke once to each other ever since they met and he just had to catch her off guard like that!
"...I still think you should apologize to the others when they come back." Mia responded, keeping her composure.
Before the blue haired boy could react in time, a large, round, basketball snacked into the side of his head, sending him tumbling to the ground below him.
"Kuroko-kun!" Coach Riko's voice echoed throughout the gym as she and the captain, Hyuga, ran over the player on the ground.
"Kuroko, are you alright?" Hyuga asked. Riko had grabbed his head as he sat up and inspected for any serious damage. When there seemed to be none, she sighed in relief.
"I'm fine." Kuroko answered, rubbing the spot where the basketball had hit him.
The other team members had gathered next to their captain as Kuroko stood on his feet once more and walked over to the bench to drink some water, Riko's orders,
"Is he sure he's fine?" Koga asked their captain, a look of concern forming on his cat like face, "He's usually never zones out during practice. I wonder if the match against Aomine affected him more than it did to us."
Hyuga nodded, looking towards Kuroko with the rest of the team.
"Alright, enough standing there looking like a bunch of fools! Get back to practice or I'll make quadruple your training regimen tomorrow!" Riko shouted, blowing her pink whistle.
The boys scrambled around at her command. She had already tripled their regimen after losing, they didn't want her to add even more to it.
Meanwhile, Kuroko sat on the bench watching his senpais play against each other as they worked at Riko's command. Although the match against Touou had indeed affected him greatly, it was the conversation he had with his friend Takagi Mia several days ago that was making him zone out.
'So what was the name of the school you said you were attending, Tetsuya?' He remembered her text to him saying. It seemed quite odd for someone who had moved to America before the end of her third year of middle school to be asking him a question like that. However, he answered it nonetheless, ignoring the horrible feeling he was getting when he told her.
'Okay.' She had replied. Normally, the blue haired teenager wouldn't be concerned as he trusted Mia more than anyone else he knew. But since she never responded to any of his texts after that day, he slowly became aware of the fact that something dangerous was about to happen.
"Kuroko-kun, are you feeling any better?" Riko asked the phantom sixth man, bringing him back to reality, "Are you ready to play again?"
"Yes." Kuroko answered, setting down his water bottle and standing up from the bench. He decided to stretch his arms a little as Riko's blew her pink whistle at the team.
"Readjust!" She shouted, "Kuroko is back in!"
"I don't think you want to do that just yet!" Another voice shouted back, surprising everyone at the unfamiliar tone.
The only person who seemed to have identified the voice was Kuroko, who had frozen in place with his eyes widening in shock.
"How long have you been standing there?!" Hyuga shouted at the figure on the gym stage in surprise, "More importantly who are you?!"
Kuroko didn't know whether he should be happy or not when he turned around and saw the familiar black hair of his friend since middle school. It seemed like her hair reached her lower back. The last time he saw her, it only reach her mid back. He could only make out the deep blue color of one of her eyes since the other was mostly hidden by the large bruise the was placed on her cheekbone. Her arms were crossed on top of her chest and she narrowed her eyes at Kuroko, letting everyone know that she was only paying attention to him.
"Mia!" The basketball player said in the most surprised voice his teammates have ever heard him use.
As the teenage girl jumped down from the stage and made her way to Kuroko, Riko and the other team members continuously looked back and forth between the two. It seemed like no one knew exactly what to do.
"What are you doing ba-!" Before Kuroko could finish asking his question, Mia had grabbed his face with one hand and pulled him down to closer to her, stunning everyone in the room.
Kuroko wasn't particularly tall, but when it came to Mia, he felt like his height was pretty normal. If he had to say, she was probably as tall as his coach, maybe a tad bit taller.
'She grew taller.' He thought as Mia studied his face intently.
After a full minute of staring, Mia let go of Kuroko's face and let out a large sigh. As Kuroko opened his mouth to say something, thinking that she was completely finished, her hand made contact with his face.
"Kuroko!" Everyone shouted as the male fell to his knees on the gym floor, clutching his cheek which was now bright red and stung after being slapped. The girl who committed the"crime" was crouched down beside him, holding her right hand, which she had used to slap her friend, in pain. Upon closer inspection, the others noticed that there was a small splint on her middle finger, causing the unnecessary pain to be exerted on her poor hand.
'A torn ligament?!' Riko screamed in her head after using her ability as a coach and trainer to examine the girl's finger. 'And she used that hand to slap Kuroko! Is she stupid?!'
"Hello." The girl's voice spoke meekly, catching the coach's attention. "I forgot to introduce myself. I'm Takagi Mia. Nice to meet you."
The fake and forced smile that crept up on the girl's lips made Riko sigh while the other boys of the Seirin Basketball Team stared astonished by today's events.
'Yup. She an absolute moron.' Riko thought 'Lucky for me, I at least know how to deal with them...slightly.'
"Your muscles are damaged. What are you playing? Basketball? It happens sometimes, though you have a good build."
Kagami Taiga sat on the roof of a school, remembering the words his doctor had told him when he went to earlier that day while spinning a basketball on his finger.
"Actually, jumping puts a lot of stress on your feet. Your body still can't compensate for that. You need flexibility and muscle training. But before that, you need complete rest for two weeks."
"It makes me restless." Kagami said to himself, moving the basketball so that it was now spinning on his wrist.
'But the problem is what comes after. What do I do? What do I do to become stronger?!'
The redhead only hoped that some kind of miracle would be sent his way.
"So you were told not to take off this splint for six weeks because of a torn ligament, and you automatically think that slapping someone across the face is okay?!" The coach shouted at Mia while examining her hand for any further damage.
"I just forgot I had it on, that's all." Mia whimpered.
The girl in front of Mia didn't seem that much taller than her. In fact, the only reason why she was able to tower over Mia was because she forced her to sit on the bench as she examined her hand. While she did this, she also took the time to look over he black eye which was healing quite nicely.
"What's with kids these days being so reckless all the time?" The girl, Riko, growled.
"You do realize that you are also considered as 'one of these kids', right?" Mia answered when Riko dropped her hand.
Choosing to ignore her statement instead of acknowledging it, Riko began to shout out commands to the boys of her team who have been playing against each other since their invisible man got slapped.
The same man who was currently sitting next to Mia on the bench with a pack of ice on his cheek. He had to admit, he wasn't expected a slap to the face when he woke up this morning. It made things even worse that she hit him with a metal splint on her hand, making the impact hurt that much more.
Kuroko glanced at his friend next to him, noticing how the large bruise on her face was much worse up close. He couldn't imagine how much it must have hurt receiving that. However,he could imagine one thing for sure...she had gotten into another fight.
Choosing to break the silence between them, Kuroko opened his mouth, only to be beaten to the punch.
"I'm sorry I hit you." Mia spoke first, making Kuroko shut his mouth quickly before anything came out.
"I wasn't expecting you to slap me when we met face to face again." He dead panned. But just as he suspected, Mia didn't falter.
"It was meant as a wake up call for you." She explained, keeping her eyes on the other team members. "It seemed like you needed something to pump you up again."
"I don't see how hitting me gets me pumped up."
"I told you it was a wake up call!"
"But you just said that you wanted to pump me up."
"Gah! You're so difficult, Tetsuya!" Mia sighed, putting her face in her hands. Kuroko smirked while keeping his eyes on his teammates.
She never changed.
"Kuroko-kun!" Riko called over, "Are you ready to play now?"
"Yes!" Kuroko answered, standing up and setting down the ice pack on the bench as started to put on his practice jersey again.
"Do you have any more complaints about him playing again?" Riko asked the girl dangerously as if challenging her to say anything else about her decisions.
"...no I'm good."
"Why did you hesitate?!"
"Well then, I'll be going." Kuroko interrupted before jogging back on to the court to play again.
Riko stood beside the strange girl who had interrupted their practice and glanced at her from the corner of her eye. The serious and calculating expression on Mia's face almost startled Riko as much as Kuroko popping up out of no where.
"Well, I guess I should get going as well." Mia spoke, standing up from the bench. "Tell Tetsuya that I'll text him later on tonight and that I'll see him tomorrow. I still need to go and buy plates. Later."
"Wait!" Riko called out before Mia could took another step away from her. "Uh, back then, why did you slap Kuroko-Kun? I mean, he's your friend right? Why would you suddenly do something like that?"
The question seemed to stun Mia for a little bit. To be quite honest, she thought it was the most obvious answer ever. But as she studied Riko's face and noticed that she really couldn't figure out her reasoning, Mia's face grew calmer.
"He has slight dark circles under his eyes." she stated "His breathing is also irregular, meaning he's pushing himself harder than usual. Even those passes that I saw earlier were made using less force than usual, and we're choppier and that was before he got hit with a basketball."
Riko couldn't believe her ears.
'D-Did this girl notice all of that within a few minutes of observing?!'
"I would go into much more detail than that, but unfortunately I'm not a part of this basketball team. In fact I'm not even fully registered into this school yet either." With that the girl turned on her heel and began walking away from Seirin's coach, "It was nice meeting all of you!"
Hyuuga and the other males slowly stopped playing to watch the raven haired girl exit their gym, her hands stuffed in the pockets of her hoodie.
'Just who is this girl?'
Kuroko looked at his friends small back until his eyes widened slightly, making him take a few steps forward despite scaring his other teammates.
"Mia!" He called over to his friend. But, it was too late...
She had already stepped on her untied shoelace.
"Kya!" Mia cried out, falling flat on her face in front of everyone, making them all wince at her sudden clumsiness.
'A total moron, that's what she is.'
'Why the hell do I have to keep hurting myself whenever I try to look cool?' Mia questioned herself, filing through the different beverages of the convenience store. She had decided it was too dangerous for her to be buying brand new breakable plates when she was still exhausted from her unplanned trip. After all, she almost broke her nose today, she didn't want to break anything else.
"Hey." A rough voice sounded from behind her, startling her. When she turned around and came face to face with a broad chest, she couldn't help but gulp. Anyone would be terrified if the only way you could see a person's face was to crane your neck. Mia, however, used her skills from middle school and kept her composure.
"You're in the way." The teenager (or at least she hoped he was a teenager) continued. No matter what angle Mia saw him from, she could've sworn he was scowling at her. "Can you move...please?"
"Oh! Sorry 'bout that!" Mia responded, jumping out of the way so that the red headed man in front of her could grab his sports drink.
"Thanks." He said to her as he walked passed, making Mia hold her breath in until he turned the corner to the cash register. It was like his entire presence put her on the edge, like she had to watch out for his movements.
'He's like a freaking beast!'
"What! It's 550¥?!" The same rough voice cried out at the front. As if he was yelling at her and was threatening to rob her, Mia grabbed all of her food she had stocked up and held it against any harm. However, once she realized that he wasn't in fact yelling at her, she couldn't help but poke her head around the corner to see what was going on.
"I'm sorry sir, but the prices on this particular sports drink have been risen because of the amount of people buying them." The cashier explained, bowing in apology, "It seems that because of a certain tournament these kinds of drinks have become more valuable these days."
"Shit! I only brought 300¥ with me!" The wild beast growled, scratching the back of his head.
"Here I'll pay." Mia suddenly piped up, scaring both men in front of her.
"Woah! When did you get there?!" The beast asked as she set her items on the counter as well. Mia and the cashier payed him no mind and continued with the process of checking out the few items plus the beast's drink.
"1080¥." The cashier stated. Mia quickly pulled out the right amount of money from her wallet and grabbed the two bags in front of her, ignoring the slight pain she felt in her right hand.
The redhead whom Mia just helped out continued to stare at her gesture until he realized that she had already open the convenience store doors and left the building.
"H-Hey!" He called, quickly following her in an attempt to catch up. "Where are you go-"
"What did you think I would just take your drink and leave?"
"Whoa!" He cried out almost toppling over her small body which was planted firmly on the ground in front of the store. It was much closer than he thought it would be.
"Here." Was the only thing Mia said as she handed the stranger his blue colored sports drink from one of the bags.
'Shit. My hand is really starting to hurt now.' Mia cursed. She tried to adjust the bag so that she wouldn't be putting as much pressure on her middle finger, but it was hopeless 'I wonder if I can make it to the apartment before it kills me. It should be close by, but still.'
"Thanks..." The beast in front of her responded, taking the drink from her. When he didn't turn and walk away like Mia had planned and just continued to stare at her suspiciously, she started to feel a little nervous. She almost felt like Kuroko during his first game.
"Are you okay?" The man asked, surprising the teenage girl.
"Oh I'm perfectly fine. Why do you ask?"
The tension grew between them as the guy in front of her narrowed his eyes and pointed on his face where her black eye was, indicating that he was talking about her injuries.
"Oh, this?" Mia asked, reaching up with her left hand to feel her cheek. "Ya I got it a few days ago in a fight at my school. This too!" Emphasizing her torn ligament, she lifted her right arm and showed the stranger her metal splint. It was a bad idea if she did say so herself, because now her hand hurt twice as more as it did before. "My eye should be all healed up in about another week or so, so I'm okay."
"What about the other one?"
"Your hand. How long until that is healed up?"
Mia didn't want to say. Not only because this man was a stranger who she just met, but also because she was afraid that she was going to get a lecture from said stranger about how she shouldn't be pushing herself and using her hand too much when it should be resting.
"Oi!" The guy repeated, slightly frustrated at how long she was taking to answer him.
"...six weeks." Mia finally answered, turning on her heel quickly so that she could tell the man a nice goodbye before leaving him in the dust.
It seemed like he beat her to it. Before she could even take one step from her spot, the bag that was in Mia's right hand was snatched away and was now in the possession of the red haired beast.
"Wha-!" Mia was speechless, "Hey! Those are mine! I payed for your drink, the least you can do is, I don't know, not rob me of my only dinner tonight!"
"Shut up! I'm just walking you home, geez!" The beast defended himself, moving backwards in time before the small girl's foot came in contact with his shin in a swift kick. "You should live close by right? Where do we turn? Left or right?"
Too surprised to say anything, Mia closed her mouth and just stared at the man in front of her. It seemed like he noticed this and became quite flustered as he asked her again, this time much rougher.
"Oi! Answer me! Do we turn left or right from here?"
"...left." Mia finally answered keeping her eyes on him.
"Alright." He responded before turning on his heels and walking in the opposite direction she answered with.
"My left not yours!" Mia yelled, catching the man before he went any further.
As the redhead froze in place and turned to walk in the correct direction this time, Mis couldn't help but notice the small tint of pink on his cheeks under the street light.
'Ha! He embarrassed himself!' Mia laughed in her head, stifling a giggle from coming out of her mouth.
"Thank you." Mia said, catching up with the tall human being as he trudged beside her with her bag of goodies in his hand. "But, my apartment is literally around this corner so I could have handled this myself."
"Well you did my my drink for me. I don't have enough money to pay you back so this is the least I can do. Besides, who the hell carries bags with a broken hand."
"It's just torn ligament and it's only in my middle finger."
"Torn ligament?! That's even worse!"
"Not really. You get a cast with a broken bone and you know what you're restricted to do with that limb. I only get a splint and have to find out on my own what I can handle and what I can't."
"So you've broken a bone too?"
"Yup!" Mia answered too cheerfully, making her companion look at her with a weird face.
"I don't get women." Was all he said before they both continued walking towards Mia's apartment in comfortable silence.
Once they finally turned the corner and spotted the huge apartment complex where Mia lived in, she jogged up ahead and waited for the beast on the front steps of the entrance.
"This is it. I can carry everything from here." Mia said, grabbing her bag from the man's grasp before he could protest. "Thank you again...um..."
"Kagami." The rough voice responded as she searched for a name "Kagami Taiga."
"Tiger?" Mia asked, curious of his name.
"Taiga." Mia could tell that Kagami was getting passed off at her purposefully getting his name wrong as she noticed the small veins on his neck popping out. This just made her smirk as she paused before answering again.
"Whatever! Just shut up already!" Kagami yelled, making Mis laugh out loud.
"I'm sorry! It's just that Tiger suits you a lot better in my opinion. You give off this kind of presence of a beast, ya know?"
"What?" He asked, looking at Mia confused. She saw that look before. It was the same look that others gave her when they thought she was crazy.
"Nothing. Don't worry about it, Tiger."
Before he could start yelling at her again, Mia stuck her good hand out, the plastic bag still around her wrist.
"I'm Takagi Mia. It was nice meeting you...Tiger."
Kagami glared at her again for using that nickname with him. However, he knew that he wouldn't be able to stop her since this was most likely the last time they would meet. Instead, he just raised his hand and grabbed her hand, enveloping her tiny hand with his warmth, making Mia realize how cold she felt before.
"Yeah. Nice knowing ya." The redhead answered before finally letting go and walking down the steps of the building. "Thanks again for the drink."
It was a strange thing Mia felt, but as Kagami's back disappeared from her sight, she couldn't help but feel like those weren't parting words.