Mia

6. Teppei-nii

"Kuroko-kun!" Riko called, grabbing the attention of the phantom man. "Sub out for a moment. There's something I need to discuss with you."

"Yes?" Kuroko asked once he had made it to the bench.

"I wanted to ask you a question." The female coach stated, letting the basketball player wipe off some sweat with a towel before continuing. "Do you think you can tell me about Takagi Mia?"

"Eh?"

"That girl that came in today." Riko urged, "A week ago you two seemed like you knew each other quite well. And today she asked to become manager."

"I know." Kuroko stated. "She made a scene not that long ago."

"Eh...ummm..yeah." Riko didn't know where to start or where to end. All she knew was that the only way she was gonna know about this Mia girl was through the invisible man in front of her.

"Mia is Mia." The blue haired teen said, "She has her quirks and she may seem a little hard to handle, but she is nothing more than a friend to everyone."

Riko was surprised. She's never heard such an honest and kind praise come from the younger male.

"But, she is still pretty reckless when she can be."

"What do you mean?"

"Back in Teiko, she would get into a lot of fights with other schools who bad mouthed our team. In fact, she eventually told me that she got into plenty of fights at her school in America, resulting in her being expelled."

'Expelled?!' Riko couldn't believe her ears. Why did such a reckless teenage girl think she could easily be their manager with such a history?!

"But no matter how crazy she acted," Kuroko continued, "she always made up for it with her numbers."

"What do you mean?" The senpai asked, confused at the vague description Kuroko was giving her.

"Mia never showed as much emotion in middle school as she does now." He explained, grabbing his water bottle and drinking some of the cool beverage to keep hydrated "Because of that, she was capable of observing things more than the average person observes a day. Her observations and 'data' turned into numbers or percentages, giving Teiko the ability to easily predict their movements even before the game started."

"No way! Really?!" Riko exclaimed, looking at Kuroko as if she was waiting for him to say 'Just kidding!'.

"Yes. She would constantly tell us when it was a good time to shoot or to steal the ball or dribble down the court. Of course, she would let us do our own moves every once in a while so that it still felt like a basketball game, but even then she would tell us what moves our opponents would most likely take based on facts and percentages."

Kuroko paused to drink some more water as he sat on the bench, waiting for his coach to take in everything he just said. Based on the look she was giving him, he knew it would be a while before Mia's ability fully sunk in.

"Mia is reckless and has been hard to handle since middle school, but she is still capable of amazing things, Coach. It wouldn't surprise me if she was still able to create impressive numbers even with the way she's changed since middle school."

"..."

It was hard for Riko to accept this. It was hard for her to believe that such a loud and annoying girl was capable of something so...advanced. But she had to believe it. If even Kurokoadmits that her ability is dangerous, then she can't do anything else but believe.

"How about we make a challenge? One-on-one." Riko heard Teppei's voice say. It was loud enough for everyone in the gym to hear, but when she looked up she could tell that he was only directing that challenge towards Kagami. "Let's bet it on the ace position."

"What?! Kiyoshi?!" Izuki exclaimed before Riko could say it.

'Just what is that idiot thinking?!' She thought before running over to them.

It seemed like the conversation had come to a close.


"Riko!" Teppei called once more, finally bringing the girl back to reality.

"What?" She asked, not aware that she had been staring out the window of Maji Burger for a good five minutes.

"I try to talk with you and all I get is silence." Kiyoshi responded, taking a sip out of his water cup. "And I thought eating with you would be nice for a change."

"Hey!" Riko yelled, slamming her food on the tray as she glared at the male in front of her. She was clearly irritated by what he said.

"...what are you up to?" She suddenly asked, taking a sip from her shake.

"Hm?"

Suddenly challenging Kagami-kun to a one-on-one then letting the first hears play..." Riko explained, "In the end, Kagami-kun took the win on his own. What are you planning?"

"Why does everyone always think I'm plotting something?" Kiyoshi asked in his defense. "I just wanted to test our skills in the one-on-one, I swear. As for the game, it was...for that."

When Riko looked at him in confusion, Kiyoshi continued.

"I wanted to let Kuroko-kun know..."


Swish

Swish

Basketballs continues to go through the hoop as Hyuga threw several three pointers. A couple of them had missed their mark -a normal thing since the captain wasn't a monster like Kagami- but most of them had made it through the hoop, much to Hyuga's satisfaction.

'Since I didn't get a chance to play today, I'm still full of power.' He thought, sighing at how much energy he had left. 'Guess I'll double my throwing practice for today.'

"Okay." Hyuga said to himself as he grabbed another orange ball and positioned himself to throw it like the others.

Unfortunately for him, he didn't notice the unexpected guest who had walked up beside him.

"Hello." Kuroko greeted, making Hyuga freeze as he looked over to see who it was.

"WAAAAAAAA?!"

The ball didn't make its target that time.


"Right now, Kuroko's play is at its limit." Kiyoshi finished, drinking the rest of the water in his cup as Riko took in what he was telling her.

Hearing two impossible things in one day was not good for her brain.


"Huh?!" Hyuga said after Kuroko had finished telling him his problem. "L-Limit?! More importantly, why?!"

Even the glasses wearing captain was having trouble understanding what Kuroko was trying to tell him.

"Like this, I'll just drag down Seirin." Kuroko explained, his voice as monotone as ever but his words piercing Hyuga like a bullet. "Also..."

"I don't know what I'm doing, Tetsuya."

"I don't even know why I'm here anymore."

'I can't let her see that my strength is dwindling as well.'

"Therefore," the shorter male continued, "please make Kiyoshi-senpai a starter."


"Positively said, his kind of play is the 'supporting others' style. The other four get stronger or weaker accordingly."

At this point, everything else in the fast food restaurant seemed to have disappeared to Riko. The only thing on her mind right now, was Teppei and his theory.

He may be dumb, but his conclusions are nothing to sniff at.

"Speaking negatively, however, you can call it the 'leave it to the others' style. If the result had been worse than I imagined in that game, it would be the first years are less capable than the second years. With that current style, he can only hope for the others to get stronger. Since he doesn't seek big chances in his own 's needed to break down this wall, is to abandon that style."

"He needs to create a new style for himself."


"Man!" Hyuga complained, running his fingers through his black hair as he sighed at Kuroko's request. "You finally take the initiative to start talking and you end up saying this."

"DONT GET COCKY!" The captain yelled, hitting the younger classman upside the head and making him stumble.

"Remove you from the starters?! Have you ever thought about those sitting on the bench? Don't even give me that shit! If you're serious then go to the coach!"

"But..." Kuroko tried to argue, but it was really hard to do so after the captain's scolding.

"No means no!"

Sighing once more, Hyuga looked at the blue haired teen in front of him, wondering how the hell their team managed to get such morons as players.

"When we started the club," Hyuga began again, his voice much more calm "Kiyoshi's style was of the top center. He was the tallest and we were still newbies who could only rely on him. What Kiyoshi is best at is to support the other teammates, the point guard position. But for the sake of the team, he took the center position. At the same time, he felt the limit of the position he wasn't used to. Then one day, Koganei suggested he do both. Since then, Kiyoshi combined the center and point guard positions and created his own style. Thanks to that, we advanced to the final league."

"You and Kiyoshi are different, but is that really the only thing you can do?"

Kuroko looked down in thought after hearing Hyuga's story, his advice making him think about his decisions again. Seeing the look on his kohai' face made Hyuga look away and take up another basketball.

"Well, I'm not forcing you into anything so I'll stop now. But, if you really want to quit, then at least talk with Kagami. He's at the park with a ball."

The sudden use of his teammate caught Kuroko's attention, his face looking back up at his captain just as he shot another basket.

"We talked after the match today. It seems like he's done some thinking. He believes in you."

Those words caught the younger male off guard, his eyes widening at the new he had just received.

"Also," Hyuga added, grabbing yet another basketball "I'm guessing that friend of yours believes in you too. It would be a shame if you let them both down."

Remembering Mia and the state she was in yesterday, made Kuroko clutch his fists at his sides. Turning around he darted for the door, calling over his shoulder at Hyuga before he left.

"Excuse me." He said "and thank you!"

"Is that it?" Hyuga called back, bending his legs before he shot another three pointer.

"Yes!"

It was dark outside, but Kuroko felt like there was a light leading him to where he needed to be.


"Wait, Teppei, I don't understand." Riko said, "You want him to change his style?"

"Well I say abandoning, but not changing the vector."

Slight movement outside caught Kiyoshi's eye, and once he realized what it was, a smile crept up on his face.

"No..." He said "I bet he's alright already."

"Eh?" Looking out the window next to them, Riko saw Kuroko's small figure jogging down the sidewalk, a smile on his face.

"Hmph." Riko chuckled, placing her chin in the palm of her hand "Boys sure are lucky."

When Kuroko's silhouette finally disappeared from their sights, Kiyoshi looked back at Riko, still smiling.

"What?" She asked, feeling uncomfortable under his gaze.

"Let's talk about Mia-san." Kiyoshi stated, resting his chin on the backs of his hands as he placed his elbows on the table. Shocked by what the topic had changed to, Riko spit and choked on her shake.

"'Mia-san'?!" Riko exclaimed, wiping vanilla shake off her chin with the back of her hand.

"Why is it that it's so surprising to talk about her?" Teppei asked, handing Riko a napkin "Both you and Hyuga have done the same thing after I mentioned Mia-san."

"Well, why the hell do you have to mention her in the first place? And what's with the 'Mia-san'?"

"She's amazing, Riko." Kiyoshi answered, remembering what she had told him during the practice match about her percentages and data. "She has to become our manager."

Riko stared at Kiyoshi in bewilderment. She knew by the tone of his voice that he wasn't joking nor did he not car. He genuinely meant what he said.

'Does he know about her ability also?' Riko wondered.

"I agree that she has potential and can be of great use to us. But..."

"Back in Teiko, she would get into a lot of fights with other schools who bad mouthed our team. In fact, she eventually told me that she got into plenty of fights at her school in America, resulting in her being expelled."

"We don't need anyone if they are just going to be immature and reckless."

Teppei stared at Riko, thinking about her words carefully before looking down and picking up one of her fries to eat.

"I bet you're going to say that I'm making the wrong choice, huh?" Riko said, picking up a fry as well and lifting it to her mouth.

"I trust you, Riko." Kiyoshi simply answered "You are our coach. You decide what to do."

She knew his words were supposed to be encouraging, but they just made Riko feel all the more confused.


'Focus. Keep your eye on the target.' Mia thought, her arm raised, 'Visualize where you want it to go. From there...SHOOT!'

Plunk

"GODDAMN IT!" Mia screamed, kicking the dirt underneath her.

She was feeling much better than yesterday that was for sure. A few slaps after the practice match that day really woke her up from her slump, especially since they made her middle finger throb for the rest of the day. Now, however, she was trying to fling a penny at the top of a large, three tier fountain in the middle of a park she didn't know, trying to piece together Kiyoshi's words to her.

"You don't have to figure out why you wanted to come back or why you wanted to be manager, but at least know that the decisions you made weren't a mistake."

Plunk

"Mmmmmmmm..." Mia growled, biting her tongue to keep from screaming a curse again as she lost yet another penny to the second tier of the fountain instead of the third tier at the top.

Taking a deep breath she bent down and grabbed her bag before walking away from the large fountain. She didn't want to continue that same pattern until she ran out of change. Plus, she hoped that the summer breeze would clear her head as she walked home.

'So my heart knows more than my brain does, huh?' Mia thought, thinking about her senpai's words once more. 'I never thought I would see the day where something was smarter than my brain.'

It was true. With all the A's and 100's she got on her tests in middle school, it was no wonder that Mia couldn't comprehend her feelings like a normal person. She wasn't used to having to rely on her heart to make her decisions.

Walking down the sidewalk, the raven haired girl noticed a large fence appear beside her, indicating a court was held at the park. Peering inside out of curiosity, Mia saw that it was in fact a back to back basketball court.

'I really can't get away from the sport, can I?'

She continued to walk past the first court, and only slowed down when she heard the sound of dribbling coming from the court next door. Not wanting to disturb whoever was training, Mia quietly stepped past the large bush that grew in between both courts and tried to go on her way.

However, the familiar sight of dark red hair caught the young girl's eye.

"Tiger?!" Mia whispered in surprise, noticing how the male was practicing with his eyes closed.

She watched him dribble from side to side, slowing down then speeding up like he would do to pass by an opponent. He then stopped and continued these movements once more. It was like he was imagining his own one-on-one game.

"Wow." Mia breathed, totally taken aback by how Kagami moved. Now that she thought about it, she never really saw how the first years played during their practice match that day. If she knew that Kagami moved like this, she would have watched him the entire game, scanning him.

In fact, scanning him didn't seem like a bad idea right now.

Lightly grabbing the metal fence in front of her, Mia kept her hard gaze on the moving beast as he moved left and right. Each of his movements were swift and nimble, yet she knew of a certain basketball player who would make Kagami's moves seem rough and reckless. The redhead panted heavily after several more steps, letting Mia know that he has probably been here for some time before she spotted him. Despite that, and despite the fact that he had a practice match earlier that day, he kept on practicing. Even she had to admit that that was impressive.

"All data received." Mia finally said after several minutes. This time her timing was a lot shorter than when she scanned Kiyoshi. "Scan comple-"

"Kagami-kun!" A voice suddenly called from the other side of the court.

Quickly, Mia shrunk and slammed her back against the large bush between the basketball courts, her arms outstretched and against the plant to balance herself. She began taking multiple short and shallow breaths as her heart pounded against her ears, making her feel like she just ran a marathon.

'Crap!' She thought, 'I didn't know Tetsuya was gonna come looking for Tiger!'

Hesitantly, the teenager peered over the leaves of the bush, watching as Kuroko stood in front of Kagami with his hands on his knees.

'They didn't see me did they?'

After about a minute, Kuroko stood up straight and began to talk with Kagami in a normal tone. Knowing that they most likely didn't notice her presence, Mia let out a quiet sigh of relief and properly sat down on the sidewalk.

"What's up?" She heard Kagami ask from behind the bush.

"...I'm sorry." Kuroko responded, "I haven't thought that far ahead."

"Hey!"

"Give me a minute."

"You're thinking it all up now?!"

Mia slapped a hand over her mouth to keep from laughing out loud. It wasn't like Tetsuya to not think things through. Doing something like that must have been a first for him.

The sudden slap of someone catching a basketball caught the girl's attention.

"Since you're not doing anything, let's play while you think." Kagami's voice explained, "I'll take you on."

Not wanting to miss a chance at observing other people's plays, Mia peered over the hedge again, trying to be quiet as she did so.

Almost immediately after Kuroko began bouncing the ball, Kagami stole it and dunked it through the hoop, making the headboard shake slightly. He was agile and clever and his movements never faltered. Seeing Kagami play against himself was nothing compared to him playing against someone else. It made Mia's eyes widen slightly.

"Kagami Taiga." She whispered quietly to herself, her eyes narrowing as she realized the data she had collected on the beast was similar to the other players of the Generation of Miracles "Out of 120...physical ability is at 111.235%, technique is at 99.701%, his stamina is at 98.50% mental strength is at 103.592% and his special ability, jumping, is at...115.99%..."

As the two boys continued to play against each other, Kagami obviously gaining the upper hand, Mia's deep blue eyes watched quietly. She didn't know how she should feel about finding someone almost on par with the Generation of Miracles.

"Alright!" Kagami cheered after score yet another basket, "Fourteenth point!"

"Ummm" Kuroko piped up from behind, "Please cut me some slack. I can't think like this."

"I'm already going easy! You're just too weak!"

"..."

"It reminds me of when we first played against each other. When I got to know your real power, I was shocked! ...maybe."

Smiling knowingly, Mia leaned back against the bush again. She tried to imagine how Kuroko went about teaming up with Kagami.

'He probably said something about a 'shadow' again.' She thought, chuckling softly at the idea.

Looking up at the starry sky, Mia thought, again, about Kiyoshi's words.

"If you say your body moved on its own, then doesn't that mean you know exactly why you want to become manager?"

"..."

Why she wanted to be manager? She couldn't even figure out why she wanted to come back to Japan in the first place! Or was this even a feeling of want? Although very rare, Mia didcome to have a few moments where she wanted something in the past, and they never made her feel like how she was feeling right now.

So what was it?

"Hey..." Kagami's voice spoke, making Mia listen in again "There is one thing that has been bothering me since then. Why did you choose me?"

Instead of answering immediately, Kuroko took a minute before breathing in and responding.

"I'm sorry." He said "I have to apologize."

"Huh?"

"I lied to you."

Although Mia wasn't able to fully grasp the meaning behind their conversation, even she was a little surprised by Kuroko's response. Turning her head to try and listen better, she made the bush rustle loudly, resulting her her whipping her head back to its original position to not be caught. Luckily, no one seemed to notice.

"During my time in middle school," Kuroko continued "I got my sixth man uniform."

"Yeah I know. You were the trump card of the Generation of Miracles."

'Trump card?' Mia thought 'I never heard that name before.'

"That's not quite right. That position was entrusted to me, but I wasn't trusted."

Mia flinched slightly hearing her friend's words. Her fingers curled into fists on the warm concrete beneath her and her knees were moved up for her to tuck her chin in. Not once did she think that someone else would say out loud the words she had been thinking.

"No, more precisely, I lost their trust."

"Micchi!"

"Takagi."

"Oi, Mia!"

"Taka-chin~!"

"Takagi-san."

"Mi-chan!"

"At the time, I think they still trusted me. But everyone evolved like Aomine-kun, and their trust decreased."

"I'm sorry."

"I don't think you should speak with me today."

"Shut up!"

"..."

"You don't have to do that anymore."

"Mi-chan..."

"So the truth is, it didn't have to be you. I just wanted them to acknowledge my way of basketball, by using you."

Looking down at the ground, Mia thought carefully about what Kuroko said.

"Using..." Mia whispered quietly to herself. As if something finally started moving in Mia's head, her eyes slowly few wider and her mouth opened as a silent gasp left her lips.

'So that's it!'

"Man. And here I was wondering what you would say. Turns out to be that shit." Kagami said "I always felt it. Besides, "they" and I are the same."

Turning his back on the phantom player, he walked over to the basketball laying on the ground. There was still other business he had to attend to after talking with Kuroko.

"I've always wondered why you who denied them and quit Teiko, would pair up with me. Or rather I accepted it. Everyone has his or her reason to play basketball. I'm not really-"

"No!" Kuroko shouted, making The girl behind the bush gulp. She hadn't heard Kuroko be that loud in a while.

"You're already wrong!" He said, lowering his voice "In all the games until now, you always believed in me. Also, your imaginative training I looked at earlier, was for the purpose of playing together with everyone."

Mia had to stifle a laugh when she heard Kagami cough in his hand out of embarrassment.

"Your words after our loss weren't words of farewell, but words of short separation to gradually grow stronger individually. So, let me correct myself. I'm glad I came to Seirin. All the seniors are nice. My classmates, who try hard together, are also nice. You believed in me. I am no longer the Kuroko Tetsuya of Teiko Middle School...I am the Kuroko Tetsuya of Seirin High School!"

As the wind picked up, it made Mia's black hair blow away from her face. Her breathing was steady and her eyes were fixed ahead of her. Although she wasn't really staring at anything, her deep blue orbs were filled with only one thing. Determination.

"I want to become, together with you, with everyone, Japan's number one. For that purpose, I'll get stronger, and defeat the Generation of Miracles."

The fire in Mia's eyes never burned as bright as it did that night.

"I had that goal from the beginning." Kagami finally got to say, pretty damn happy about his partner's resolve "And it's not "want". We will become the number one in Japan!"

Smiling, Kuroko nodded "yes."

The smaller male stared at Kagami in confusion when the beast sighed heavily.

"Now then." He said, lifting his arm and aiming the orange basketball at the fence in front of him. Using only half of his strength, he threw the ball, making it collide with metal and scaring the girl right next to it who was hiding behind the bush.

"KYAAA!" Mia screamed, realizing only too late that she had yelled out loud. It was pretty loud too.

"How long are you going to hid behind there?" Kagami demanded, watching with Kuroko as Mia poked her head from behind the large plant into their view.

"Oh!" Mia said "So you knew I was hiding?"

"It was hard not to notice when you kept making all that noise!"

"And you just let me listen?"

"I had no choice. I didn't want to interrupt Kuroko."

"Aww. You do have manners after all."

"Shut up!"

Laughing, Mia picked up her bag and lightly jogged from her spot on the ground to the entrance of the basketball court. Once she made it past the tall entrance gates, she tossed her bag aside on the ground and held up her hands for the ball. Raising his eyebrow at the girl, Kagami tossed her to basketball, watching as she dribbled it in front of her.

"I didn't mean to eavesdrop on you guys." Mia explained, "But to be quite honest, I'm really glad that I did."

Bouncing the ball several more times, the raven haired girl looked up at the basketball hoop before stopping and taking the position to throw it.

Or so Kagami thought.

Instead of doing a normal toss to the hoop like he expected her to do, Mia just looked up at the hoop before using all of her strength to pound the ball on the ground. Flying recklessly, the Orange sphere managed to hit the backboard, then the ring of the hoop, before slowly falling into the basket with a swoosh.

"What?!" Kagami exclaimed, unaware of Mia's peace sign of victory "HOW?!"

"I came back to Japan without clearly understanding why I wanted to do so in the first place." Mia said, ignoring the redhead's questions.

"OI!"

"Because of that I became easily confused and I blame myself for that. I thought I changed since middle school. I thought I knew why I came back here . I also thought I knew why I wanted to become Seirin's manager. In the end, I just did exactly what I did at Teiko. I kept moving forward without fully grasping my feelings. I don't want to do that anymore."

Although totally unaware of what the girl was talking about, Kagami looked at Mia with a serious expression. Thinking back to how she had acted during the practice match that day, he couldn't help but listen to her closely.

'Don't tell me she's been thinking about that all day!' Kagami thought, glancing over at Kuroko who seemed to have a similar expression as he did.

"Teppei-nii told me earlier today that the reason I came back to Japan was because my heart knew what I wanted before my brain did."

'Teppei-nii?!'

"I was able to understand a little more since then, but since I never really used my heart to make my decisions in the past before, I still needed to piece together a lot of things by myself. It wasn't until I heard what you said, Tetsuya, that made me clearly understand everything."

Now knowing that he became a part of Mia reasoning, his face softened. The serious expression from before had vanished and was now replaced by a look of curiosity.

"I want to help you. That's why I insisted on being manager. It's a natural instinct that humans have that even I could understand from a mile away. When your friends are in trouble or have difficult obstacles in their path, you automatically make it your duty to help them. But even though that's my purpose of becoming manger, that's not why I came back. You said that you planned on using Tiger to defeat the others from Teiko. Well, that reminded me of how I thought everyone relied on me back then. I thought that they trusted me too. But it was actually me who was being used."

Kuroko and Kagami stared at Mia as they took everything in. One male knew exactly where she was coming from while the other was oblivious to what she was trying to tell them. However, both of them were still able to clearly understand her words.

Opening his mouth, Kuroko tried to say something to Mia, thinking that what she was telling them was hurting her. But, before he could do anything, the girl looked up and waved her hand in front of her face.

"Don't get me wrong. I'm not angry or sad about that!" She said, dismissing the idea like she knew exactly what he was thinking.

"I understood my role and accepted it back in Teiko, just like you Tetsuya. I also don't plan on changing my role at Seirin. That's why I want to be manager."

"So what?" Kagami questioned "Are you saying that you felt you were needed back here in Japan so you came back to help?"

"No." Mia answered "I didn't come back to Japan because I wanted to. I also didn't come back to Japan because I needed to. I believe I could have helped Tetsuya if I stayed in America. But like a computer, I work best when I'm used in the place I was created in. I belong here. That's why I came back."

Satisfied with her words, she looked at Kuroko, a smile on her face. It was then that the real haired teen saw the slight glimmer in her deep blue eyes. The small fire of determination that he hadn't seen in years.

'Computer, huh?' Kagami thought, smirking at the thought before picking up the basketball from the ground again and tossing it to Kuroko.

As if he could read his mind, Kuroko tossed the round ball in the air just as Kagami ran up to it. Jumping, he grabbed the airborne ball and slammed it into the basketball hoop.

'Interesting.'

As for Mia, she merely stared at Kagami's form, her blue eyes wide with awe.

"I am no longer the Kuroko Tetsuya of Teiko Middle School...I am the Kuroko Tetsuya of Seirin High School!"

'And I'm the Takagi Mia of Seirin High School!' She thought a smile on her face 'Yeah. I like the sound of that.'


"But what will you do to get stronger, Kuroko?" Kagami asked suddenly. The three teenagers were walking down the street to their respective homes, Mia bouncing the redhead's basketball as they went.

"...I don't know." Kuroko answered. Both Kagami and Mia whipped their heads at their friend next to them in surprise.

"What?!"

"It's okay, Tetsuya." Mia comforted, placing a hand on his shoulder.

"But I will definitely find out." Kuroko reaffirmed "Before the winter cup."

Hearing the male's strong goal and determination made both Kagami and Mia smile. Trying to spin the basketball on her finger, Mia glanced next to her to see Kagami raise his fist at Kuroko, the smaller teenager looking at it in surprise.

"Idiot." Kagami said "Saying stupid stuff like that. I'll get stronger too. I'm gonna leave you behind of you slack off."

As their fists bumped together, Mia's smile widened, making her cheeks hurt. It was times like these when she wished she would have expressed her happiness more in Teiko. In fact she was surprised that she kept it in at all.

"Oh yeah, and you!" Kagami said, referring to Mia. Once the female noticed that she was being called out she froze, catching the spinning basketball in her hands as she looked at Kagami in surprise.

"This has been bugging me ever since you said it, but what the hell is with this 'Teppei-nii' crap?!"

"Oh that." Mia responded, a little confused as to why it was such a big deal.


"Takagi-San!" Kyoshi called, running to the small girl before she left. He noticed her get up before the others did after the practice match was over, fully intended to leave before she was stopped. However, the senior had something to say to her and he was determined to say it before she left.

"Yes?" Mia answered, looking at Kiyoshi curiously.

"I had an idea!" He said, lightly panting "To fix your problem with calling me 'Kiyoshi' instead of 'Kiyoshi-senpai', how about you just call me 'Teppei-nii' instead?"

"Eh?"

"It's shorter than 'Kiyoshi-senpai' so it should be easier to remember, right?"

"But, Kiyoshi-senpai" Mia responded "it's really not a problem for me to call you 'Senpai'."

"Teppei-nii." Kiyoshi insisted, his hands on his hips

"But-"

"Teppei-nii."

The girl stared at the tall basketball player for a minute before giggling at his childlike behavior.

"Ok! I guess if that's what you prefer, I don't see why not."

"There we go! Oh! It's fine if I call you Mia-san now, right?"

"Sure! I don't mind."


"And that's what happened." Mia said, concluding her story.

The two males in front of her stared at her in disbelief, neither one wanting to believe that what they just heard was true.

"What the hell?!" Kagami exclaimed, startling Mia "Just what exactly goes on in that brain of his?!"

"Mia, you really shouldn't easily accept a nickname someone made for themselves." Kuroko lightly scolded, patting the girl's head.

"Eh?"

After a couple of minutes of scolding and arguing, the three teenagers finally continued walking down the path to go home, each one refusing to talk to one another for a bit.

"Oi." Kagami finally said, making Mia flinched. In the midst of arguing, the two someone ended up walking next to each other while Kuroko stood on the other side of Mia.

"Hmm." Mia replied, still pouting as she looked ahead of her. Thinking that he wanted his basketball back, she clutched it to her chest, arms wrapping around it tightly.

"What are you gonna do if you don't get to be manager?"

Surprised that such a normal question came out of Kagami's mouth, Mia stared up at the beast. Her blue eyes widened but then slowly relaxed as she smiled at him then at the road ahead of her.

"Unfortunately, that's not an option." She answered, confidently "But even if it was, I would still find ways to help you guys become number one."

Kagami grinned at Mia's answer, somehow feeling like he already knew her answer before she even said it.

"Takagi Mia!" He called.

"Yes?" Mia answered, looking up at him confused.

"If you're going to help us, I might as well call you by your name for once." Kagami explained, looking down at Mia as she took in his words.

Realizing that this was, in fact, the first time Kagami has used her name, Mia smiled.

She liked the feeling of her name being called like that.


"Takagi Mia!"

She did not, however, like the feeling of her name being called like that.

Outside of classroom 1-B stood Seirin's basketball coach, her pink whistle already around her neck even though it was only the lunch period.

"Coach?!" Kagami exclaimed behind Mia. The raven haired girl was on her way to sit with both the redhead and Kuroko before she was suddenly stopped by the brown haired second year.

Looking over her shoulder, Mia saw Riko gesture for her to walk over to her. Slightly nervous after what happened two days ago, Mia set her small bento on top of Kuroko's desk, letting the invisible man 'guard' it as she left to talk with the coach.

"Yes?" Mia answered, stepping outside the classroom and in front of Riko.

Instead of answering immediately like Mia was prepared for, the female second year stared at the girl intently. Her brown eyes never moving from Mia's. The situation seemed like an intense staring contest, with neither female blinking or breaking. Eventually, Riko sighed and shoved s small piece of paper at Mia.

"Here." She said, not looking as Mia carefully accepted the parchment.

"What's this?"

"The basketball team is gonna hold a summer training camp over the break to get ready for the Winter Cup." Riko explained, her hands crossed over in front of her chest. "Although we haven't decided officially on where it's going to be, those dates written down are of when we will be gone."

"So this means..."

"If you prove to me during the summer training camp that you are true to your word and that you are worthy enough, then I will accept you as our team's manager."

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