After a while of re-reading the same few pages, Kuroko gave up and made his way down the stairs. It had been of couple hours since he’d eaten anything and even he had started to get a bit hungry. He reached his kitchen counter, trying to decide what he could make without burning his house to the ground. The last time he had actually tried to make something had been a disaster. In his defense, nowhere on the package was it written that they needed to take the aluminium foil off. Of course, that hadn't stopped Kagami from spending the next fifteen minutes nagging Kuroko and insisting that if he was that bad, he should take some cooking classes. He settled for something safe; tea and some left over brownies that the aforementioned red head had brought to school that day. He’d taken a few extra to enjoy at a later time. (Kagami had been freaking out; it’d been quite entertaining.)
Kuroko took out the kettle, setting it on the counter and reaching randomly for the tea leaves he kept nearby. He finally grabbed the container, knocking something over in the process. He bent down to pick it up, his eyes widening slightly in surprise when he realized what it was. It was a framed picture he normally kept in his bedroom: Takao had taken it during his birthday party some weeks ago. Kuroko stared at it for a while. He hadn’t really planned on it, but the photo made him recall the many things that had happened during his first year of high school. In the picture were, well, them: everyone he called his closest friends.
There was Kagami, the rest of the first years, the second years and last but not least, all of his Teiko teammates.
Kuroko leaned back against the counter, grasping the picture in one hand and his now-ready mug in the other. He remembered when it had been taken; they had right in the middle of eating the cake that Kagami and Himuro had baked for the occasion. Takao had all of a sudden whipped out a camera that he had hidden gods-know-where and snapped a picture of everyone mid-bite. It ended up with hilarious results, all of them had completely ridiculous faces. Takao had managed to hide the camera incredibly quickly after that, managing to salvage the shot from the attempts Midorima would've surely made to delete it. As it stood, he didn't stop searching for the device the whole evening. Kuroko couldn't blame him , Midorima had been in the middle of choking on bite of cake. It was one of the reasons why Kuroko liked the picture so much.
His eyes drifted over the various colorful spots scattered across the picture, courtesy of, at least mostly, his ex-teammates and himself. Truly, so many things had happened this last year that he almost couldn't believe. He certainly wouldn't if he hadn't been right there, in the middle of the action.
Back in middle school, the six of them had started out as friends. They used to talk, eat, and have fun together. And suddenly all that changed, with a certain person suffering from a drastic personality change. Kuroko couldn't deny that at first, he had completely given up on them ever returning to normal after he witnessed the incident with Ogiwara. He felt depressed and even quit the basketball team right after, while at the same time trying to keep as much distance as possible between himself and the five prodigies.
For some time, he grieved the old days when they all enjoyed each other’s company. However, one day, he realized that the whole situation was completely wrong. Kuroko wanted to prove them wrong. He wanted to prove to them that their actions and their attitude were not in any way acceptable.
...He wanted them to be together again. To watch Aomine bicker with Kise. To hear Murasakibara ask him for snacks. He even missed seeing Midorima with his, yet again, ridiculous lucky items.
He missed Akashi's smiles the most, as reluctant as he was to admit or dwell on it for too long.
From that day onward, he made a decision. They were all better than that. He vowed to himself that he would make them see things his way, make them remember their love for basketball. Maybe then, he thought, they would return, even if only slightly, to their days before their second national championship. And if the only way was to make them taste defeat for the first time, then so be it. He told himself he was doing this for everyone, ignoring the part of him that screamed that there was something else behind his determination.
It was on his last year of middle school when he decided to enter Seirin high. Being a recently opened school, it did not have a great record of victories and whatnot, but they'd had potential, proved by their success of entering the championship league the previous year.
They had also reminded him of how the six of them had been when they'd all first joined.
Those were the reasons Kuroko chose his current school. He would show to the Generation of Miracles that their arrogant behavior was not right by taking a new school to the top, above them.
He had made the right decision. His encounter with Kagami had proven him that. In a way, he had kind of hit the jackpot. He had found someone who could bring out his abilities. Yes, the other players in his team were good, but without Kagami, it would have been considerably harder for him to beat his former teammates. Even then, they had suffered tremendous obstacles. Kuroko never wanted to experience the same despair he felt when they lost their game against Too Academy.
His abilities as a “shadow” depended on his “light”. He had found his “light” and a close friend in Kagami, a player capable of beating even the infamous Generation of Miracles. He was extremely grateful to his friend for allowing him even if unconsciously to reach his goal, a goal he didn't even completely believe was possible: returning his Teiko teammates to their former selves.
Kuroko took a sip from his mug, grimacing a little at the thought of returning to his room and resuming his boring lecture. He pondered some more before shuffling to the living room. He sat down on the sofa and set the picture in front of him on the center table, crossing his legs.
Kuroko zoned out for a while, mulling about different things, like how the weather was nice these past few days and about how much he’d have to study for his biology exam next week. About how nice it was that the real Akashi had finally returned and that his smile hadn’t changed and that he didn’t seem to abhor the idea of renewing lost bonds, if his birthday was indication-
His eyes widened and he almost choked on his tea when he realized who he was thinking about. There went his resolve to think about the red head as least as possible. His mind was betraying again, processing thoughts he could do well without. It had been like this for quite some time now. Normally he was be able to control himself, but lately it was just like his brain was split in two, both parts contradicting each other. There was no way in the world he could miss him that much, not when he had seen him not so long ago and not when his feelings had already died down...Right?
Kuroko was startled out of his internal battle when he tried to drink some more tea and realized he had none left. He sighed, he may as well go to sleep. For some reason, Riko had decided that it would be a good idea for Seirin to have an early basketball practice the next day, a Saturday, and if he arrived late, she would surely have his head.
He finished his drink and was starting to return to his room when he heard his phone ring. Going over to pick it up, he didn’t bother checking the caller’s ID and was startled when he heard the rich, collected voice at the other end of the line. It was the person he least expected would call him, of all people, so late when they didn't have anything planned.
-Good evening, Tetsuya.
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