Don't Let Go
Pairings: Shigehiro/Tamaki. One sided Aomine/Tamaki
Warnings: AU Universe. OOC. Gender swap. Nice Akashi. Some character bashing.
Disclaimer: I do not own Kuroko no Basuke and any of the characters
Chapter Six: Don't Let Go
"Don't let her go again." - Akashi Seijuro
"As expected, the rest of the matches in the Inter High turned out like we'd expected." Nebuya grunted as the entire Rakuzan team made their way back to the hotel that they were staying in after their match against some unknown team. Tamaki and Akashi didn't even have to play in this game, and they easily tripled their opponent's score.
"You mean, what Tamaki expected." Hayama deadpanned, playing with a basketball by spinning it on his forefinger. "Don't act like you had the brains to predict the outcome of matches, gorilla."
"What did you say?"
Somewhere in front of the arguing duo, Akashi and Tamaki sighed as one, and Shigehiro chuckled. Mayuzumi wisely said nothing but merely watched on as Mibuchi tried to calm the arguing pair down.
It had barely been a week since he had met the other regulars, and has practices with them, but he knew them well enough by now to know not to interfere whenever Nebuya and Hayama have one of their constant arguments. It'll be a cold day in Hell the day when they don't argue. Those two argued almost every day over the most trivial things to the point that most of the other members of the Rakuzan basketball club were placing bets as to what they would argue about the next.
The two were just lucky that the teachers didn't put them in the same class, or their school records would be littered with detentions.
"Seriously though, what do you think about the matches so far?" Shigehiro asked Tamaki, turning his back onto the arguing duo behind him as Mibuchi tried to break their argument up again. Keyword here: tried.
Really. You would never know that they're a year older than them, with how childish that they behave.
"Hmm?" Tamaki glanced at Shigehiro. "Well, it isn't really that much of a surprise actually." She said. "With the Generation of Miracles entering high school this year, the level of high school basketball is going to change as a result. All of us knew that. The titles of 'kings' and whatnot isn't going to mean anything with the shift in power."
The teal haired girl barely noticed the attentive looks that the entire team were giving her, or that Nebuya and Hayama have both stopped their arguing to listen to her.
"Tomorrow will be the quarter-finals of the Inter High tournament." Tamaki said, pulling out a folder from within her bag and flipping through it. Aoi, her new puppy barked happily as he walked at her heels. Tamaki finally stopped somewhere in the middle of the folder where there are two photos of two certain teams, along with the stats and the usual information on the team players. There were even graphs drawn on the pages. As always, Tamaki made impressive notes—little wonder why she is always in the top five of her grade. "And most probably, the quarter-finals tomorrow will be between Kaijo and Touou Academy."
"Ryota and Daiki, huh?" Akashi mused. "Why am I not surprised?"
"I know of Kaijo." Mibuchi frowned. "They're the top school in the Kanegawa district. And this year, they got Kise Ryota of the Generation of Miracles. As for Touou Academy, they're not exactly a very famous team, but in recent years, they've been scouting talent from all over. And this year, they've got Aomine Daiki if the rumours are to be believed. Thus, this makes them as good as any of the three kings."
"Well, with the recent shift in power, the title of king doesn't anything anymore." Nebuya grunted. "So one of the two might be our opponent in the finals, right?" He asked Tamaki.
"There is still Yosen High." Shigehiro chirped in. He then started ticking off on his fingers. "Yosen. Kaijo. And Touou. Without a doubt, one of these three will be our opponent in the finals." He then turned towards Akashi who had a small frown on his face. "What do you think, Seijuro? Our match line-up for the finals, I mean."
"Whatever the case, I won't be playing, and you know that." Tamaki sighed before Seijuro could get a word in. "You know how the coach is. As long as I'm still undergoing rehabilitation, he won't allow me to so much as touch the ball." She muttered something beneath her breath, and the rest of the regulars exchanged looks over her head.
That is true, and everyone knew it.
The entire basketball team of Rakuzan High knew about Tamaki's wrist injury, and that she is still undergoing rehabilitation for it. That incident that had happened back during her second year of Teiko had been the hot news of the year. Every single person in the middle school and high school districts that played basketball had heard of it, and how Teiko had completely demolished their opponent after that. It is only by sheer luck alone that Tamaki didn't end up crippled after that incident had crushed her left wrist.
But it is also an undeniable fact that her left wrist had been rather weak since then, and more prone to injuries than before. Part of the reason why Tamaki had chosen to attend Rakuzan had been due to the fact that the therapist centre that her cousin had found for her sometime during their third year of middle school had been based in Kyoto.
It is also fortunate for Tamaki that the therapy centre that she goes to for rehabilitation every week is located near the school, and thus, with a special letter written by her therapist, Tamaki is allowed to skip class and basketball practice every Friday for therapy. Even having to come to Tokyo for the Inter High tournament had taken a whole lot of begging on Tamaki's part towards her therapist who finally relented in the end as long as Tamaki keep up her therapy exercises.
"W-Well, it is only for a little longer, right?" Shigehiro said nervously. "I mean, you might be cleared for matches for the Winter Cup, right?"
"Dr. Ueda hopes so." Akashi said, glancing at his cousin.
More than anyone, he knew just how awful that Tamaki felt whenever she came to practice and saw everyone practicing. Coach Shirogane is particularly strict when it comes to Tamaki's rehabilitation. To be honest, Akashi knew that he should really feel relieved that the coach didn't dismiss Tamaki as 'useless' the moment that he'd learnt about her wrist injury, and that she couldn't play for at least a year whilst she is undergoing rehabilitation.
In fact, Shirogane was more interested in Tamaki's analytical abilities at that point in time. He did set a few conditions upon getting word that Tamaki and Akashi were both interested in taking Rakuzan's offer, and bringing 'Lionheart' Ogiwara Shigehiro with them. He will allow Tamaki to join the team in running practice and all that. But he wouldn't so much as allow her to lay a hand on a basketball until she had been cleared for matches by her therapist.
"We don't have any matches scheduled for tomorrow." Tamaki mused. "I'll be going to watch the match between Touou and Kaijo. It'll be interesting to see just how much they have improved since graduating from Teiko." She glanced at Akashi. "Do you want to come with me?"
Due to basketball practice occupying their time all morning, the Rakuzan regulars arrived at the gymnasium where the Inter High tournament was being held sometime during half time—just before the third quarter commence. And apparently, Rakuzan isn't the only team that had thought of coming to collect intel on Kaijo and Touou—two of the favourite teams to win the tournament this season.
The whisperings broke out like hissing fires the moment that the regulars of Rakuzan High all stepped in—all of them easily recognisable in their light blue and white team jackets that reminded Tamaki so much of her old Teiko jersey when she'd first received her Rakuzan jersey from the coach.
"Oi… Isn't that…?"
"Isn't that Shutoku?"
Sure enough, the orange jerseys of Shutoku High were easily noticeable as the members sat amongst the stands.
"And Kirisaki Dai Ichi?"
Both Akashi and Tamaki's left eye twitched when they heard that name. As one, the two cousins turned towards the initial direction where they could see the dark green basketball jerseys of Kirisaki Dai Ichi. And amongst their midst sat…
Akashi's jaw tightened, and a hint of murderous rage was visible in his eyes. "…Hanamiya Makoto…"
As Rakuzan's manager, Tamaki had of course started collecting intel on all the teams that pose a considerable amount of threat to them. Kirisaki Dai Ichi had been amongst the teams that had been part of Tamaki's intel, and of course, Hanamiya Makoto's name had come up.
"Sei." Tamaki clutched her cousin's arm before he could get up and start flinging his scissors at a certain Kirisaki Dai Ichi captain. "Don't." She shot Akashi a warning look. "If you really want to get back at him, do it during the Winter Cup."
Akashi frowned, but sat back down.
"Hey! Over there!"
"The Emperor… Rakuzan High!"
The Rakuzan regulars groaned as one, save for Akashi, Tamaki and Mayuzumi, palming their faces. This always happens whenever they walked out into public wearing their team jackets, and were instantly recognised as part of the basketball regulars of the ultimate school.
Tamaki glanced at the two teams currently competing only to see their former teammates staring at them, shock visible in their eyes. Aomine more so than Kise. Tamaki struggled with herself to retain her composure even as she looked back at him.
—not Aomine-kun anymore.
"So in the end, Kaijo lost, huh?" Shigehiro mused as they moved through the crowded hallway, with the rest of the team somewhere in front of them. "But they'll be a dangerous team to face should we ever wind up facing them in the Winter Cup."
"Yeah." Tamaki agreed, recalling the match between Touou and Kaijo earlier.
Kise's new skill was especially surprising. She had known all along the potential that he has, and his genius skill in copying moves—she had been his instructor after all when he was just starting basketball. And even after her role as his instructor was over, she had still kept practicing with him, especially during their third year when Aomine had all but skipped out on basketball practice.
But throughout their time in Teiko, Kise has never been able to copy the special moves of the Generation of Miracles, especially Aomine's. The fact that he could perform that feat earlier only proves just how far he had came when he'd first entered the first gym of Teiko with shining eyes, asking to sign up for the basketball team.
"If Kise-kun managed to harness that 'Perfect Copy' and utilise it as a weapon…" Tamaki trailed off slowly, glancing at a solemn Shigehiro who understood what she's saying. "We have to be careful should we ever wind up facing Kaijo in the Winter Cup." She sighed. "Anyway, the semi-finals two days from now will be Rakuzan versus Yosen. Touou will be playing Tsubakikawa. We need to make a game plan for the finals in five days. I'm pretty sure that we'll be meeting Touou in the finals." Tamaki frowned. "Touou is an attack orientated team—just like us. We need a good strategy for the match against them. If we underestimate them, we're going to be in for a tough match."
"Well, any plan that you come up with will work wonders." Shigehiro grinned, having complete faith and trust in Tamaki's tactics and plans. "I trust your planning. And I'm sure that the rest of the team feels the same way too."
Tamaki smiled at Shigehiro, before she felt her shoulder getting jostled by a tall redhead wearing an unfamiliar black and white team jersey coming from the other direction. "Oh. Sorry." The redhead apologised, looking at her curiously.
"No harm done." Tamaki inclined her head towards him politely.
"Tama! Shige! Come on! We're leaving you behind!" Akashi's voice rang out from somewhere amongst the sea of people.
Kagami Taiga watched curiously as the girl whom he'd bumped into left with the dark haired boy next to her. His eyes then widened slightly as he saw the team jackets that they both have on. That must make them a member of a high school basketball team—probably going to be one of their opponents in the future.
'Ra…ku…zan?' Kagami mused to himself, reading the name of their team and school on the back of their light blue and white team jackets.
"So Rakuzan is interested in Kaijo and Touou too, huh?" A voice spoke up from behind Kagami, and the redhead turned only to see his team captain standing behind him. "Kagami, come on. We're leaving you behind otherwise." Hyuuga ordered. "And I think that I need to explain something to you and the other first years. Come on."
Kuroko Yuki was beyond delighted to see her son and niece after who knows how long in her restaurant.
Thankfully for the Rakuzan team, there is a free table, despite the peak hour, and after placing their orders (with Nebuya scaring the poor waitress with the insane number of items that he had ordered), the team then settled down to wait for their food.
"All right, Tama. What did you find out?" Akashi was the first one to set the ball rolling, knowing that his cousin would have collected the information that she needs by now. "We will have no problem in our match against Yosen in two days—Atsushi wouldn't play against us. And you already have a game plan for that, don't you?" Tamaki nodded. "At Yosen's level without Atsushi, we can tear their defense apart like tissue paper."
The Uncrowned Generals winced at the beating that Yosen had coming in two days. Poor Yosen. They would never even see it coming.
Tamaki looked at Shigehiro before beginning to tell the team what she had concluded from the match between Touou and Kaijo earlier.
"That team from earlier…" Hyuuga said slowly whilst chewing on his food in Maji Burger, looking from face to face. "They're the Number One school in Japan for basketball currently. The Emperor, Rakuzan High School!" He announced.
Save for Kagami who literally didn't know anything about high school basketball prior to entering Seirin, the other first years and even the second years have all heard about Rakuzan High School. They're basically the high school version of Teiko Middle School.
"They'll be participating in the Winter Cup too, and if we continue winning all our matches, then without a doubt, we'll wind up facing them sooner or later." Riko said grimly. "And at our current level, let's just say that we'll be lucky if they don't triple our score."
"Are they really that good?" Kagami asked doubtfully. "Are they really that dangerous?"
"They've been the champions at the three major basketball tournaments for the past ten years." Izuki answered for Riko, pointing one of his fries at Kagami. "They are also the reigning champion for the Winter Cup tournament last year. They're not known as the Emperor for nothing, Kagami." He warned. "And this year, Rakuzan is said to have the strongest line-up."
The rest of the team was confused, but Riko was nodding grimly. After Seirin had a run-in with Kise Ryota of the Generation of Miracles (though it is more like Kise barging in on one of their practices), Riko had made it a point to research thoroughly the schools that the Generation of Miracles attends. Seirin's meeting with Momoi and Aomine only cemented Riko's determination.
"This year, Rakuzan got the captain and vice-captain of the Generation of Miracles!" Riko announced, much to everyone's shock, and Koganei choked on his burger, thus causing Mitobe to thump him hard on his back. "And if rumours are to be believed, they also got 'Lionheart' Ogiwara Shigehiro of Meiko Middle! He is one of the few players out there that can play on equal footing with the Generation of Miracles."
"In other words, we need to step up our game plan, and we also need to get stronger if we hope to be Number One in Japan." Hyuuga sighed. "We need to step up on our training…"
No one noticed the glint in their coach's eyes.
Oh Hyuuga, what have you done?
"This time, our match against Touou Academy in the finals can't be won by brute force alone." Tamaki was saying. "They're like us—an attack orientated team." She looked from face to face. "And from what I've seen of their match with Kaijo, it seems like they relied heavily on the plans and tactics of their manager."
"Their manager?" Hayama frowned even as he leaned over to take a piece of the okonomiyaki that is currently cooking in front of them. Beside him, Nebuya had his mouth stuffed full of squid balls—with his cheeks bulging like a squirrel. Mibuchi who is sitting on Hayama's other side seemed to be a tad bit embarrassed at his teammate's table manners, or lack thereof. "That pink haired girl? She's pretty cute though." He almost drooled as he remembered the Touou manager. "Of course, not as cute as Tama-chan!" He added hastily.
"Is that supposed to make me feel better?" Tamaki sighed.
"Do you know her?" Mayuzumi who had been extremely quiet, merely listening to his mentor explain what she knew about Touou, spoke up just then. There is something in Tamaki's voice that told the quiet senior that she might know the Touou manager on a personal basis.
Akashi, Tamaki and Shigehiro exchanged looks between themselves before turning their attention back to their teammates. "Momoi Satsuki, the former first string manager of Teiko Middle School." Akashi said, shocking their Rakuzan teammates that weren't aware of this small fact. "And in ways, they might have miscalculated the number of 'Miracles' that had came out of Teiko Middle School." He exchanged looks with Tamaki. "Back when Tama was still a player for Teiko, and back when we were still finding our own feet, Satsuki had helped us out countless times with her tactics and precognitive abilities."
"In certain ways, she might be better than me at intelligence collecting." Tamaki sighed. "Originally, I've learned how to research opponents and such at Teiko anyway. Satsuki learned the same way that I did. But when it comes to tactics and planning…" Her eyes glinted. "I won't lose to anyone else."
"We all could see that Touou is good, just from that match earlier." Shigehiro added, shoving a piece of okonomiyaki into his mouth. "Especially that Aomine." His eye twitched slightly, remembering how that ganguro bastard had humiliated his middle school team at the final championship game.
Mibuchi agreed. "Touou's strength is completely different from last year's," he said. "They're still a good team last year, but not that dangerous. With the addition of Aomine Daiki, it is almost like their level had completely changed overnight. And that Shooting Guard of theirs isn't to be underestimated either." He added, recalling the small first year that Touou had as their Shooting Guard. "He's got some skills."
"Well, he's no Midorima-kun, but his shooting range is indeed wider than most." Tamaki said slowly, taking one of the octopus balls in front of her. "If so, all that we have to do is to force him out of his comfort zone. Same goes for the others. That's all that it will take to stop them." She said, much to Rakuzan's surprise.
Akashi however, was nodding slowly. At times, the best plan is the simplest plan. "As you can see from the match earlier, Touou doesn't focus so much on team play, unlike Kaijo," he said. "Each member attacks and score individually. Basically, they're like a team of individuals—believing in their abilities and power." He chewed on his food before swallowing it. "Much like how Rakuzan had been months ago before we have conducted that two week teamwork training exercise early on in May."
The Crownless Generals winced as one. They definitely remembered that training exercise, since Tamaki refuses to let them out of the gym until they've completed their quota. And she had been particularly insistent on teamwork training before they even start on anything else.
"Are all of us starting this time?" Nebuya grunted, looking from face to face. "Akashi, you too?"
"I think that this time, for the match against Touou, we indeed need five regulars out on the court." Akashi mused, his fingers clasped together below his chin. "Me, the three of you—" He glanced at the three Crownless Generals. "And…"
"Shige-kun." Tamaki said solemnly. "Touou is probably going to be one of the teams that will be tough enough for us to at least go at half power. Just don't underestimate them, or you will be in for a world of pain." She warned. "There is a reason why Aomine Daiki is the ace of the Generation of Miracles after all."
Akashi walked out of the attached bathroom in the hotel room that he shared with Shigehiro, towelling his hair dry, only to see Shigehiro lying on his front on his bed, playing his game console.
"You can use the shower now." Akashi told his best friend who had looked up mere moments after the redhead had exited from the bathroom, bringing with him a strong smell of lilacs.
"Oh. Thanks." Shigehiro said with a grin even as he sat up on his bed, rubbing at the back of his neck. "I could use a hot bath right now." He admitted.
Akashi said nothing for several moments even as he towelled his hair dry, staring at Shigehiro. He finally sighed, deciding to take the blunt path, especially when it comes to his best friend. Hell, the guy is a genius at basketball and all, but he is absolutely dense when it comes to his own feelings, like a certain someone whom he knew.
"When are you going to tell her?" Akashi asked at last, slight exasperation creeping into his tone. Shigehiro looked at him in curiosity and slight confusion. "You like Tama, don't you?" He asked, resisting the urge to throttle Shigehiro. He is just one step away from locking both his best friend and his cousin into a closet and not letting them out until they've made out with each other. "Why don't you tell her already?"
Shigehiro sighed. Why is everyone trying to convince him of late to say 'I love you' to Tamaki? "Not you too," he almost groaned. "She only sees me as a friend." Shigehiro missed the 'who are you kidding?' look that Akashi was giving him. "I'm happy with things as they are now. I don't want to ruin our friendship." He admitted.
Akashi had never felt like hitting someone more than he had ever felt in his entire life. Finally, he settled on the rational approach. "Shige, I'm going to give you a piece of advice as your friend," he finally said. "Because we are childhood friends—you, Tama and me—that whatever that you wanted to convey to Tama, you have to make things clear to her. She wouldn't understand otherwise. However much that you and the others seem to think that Tama and I could read minds, we couldn't." He said semi-sarcastically. "I'm no mind reader. And even if I was, I wouldn't waste my powers reading yours." Shigehiro grinned in amusement. "We're simply good at reading people. And you know Tama. She wouldn't act on her own desires and feelings even if you killed her. You have to make things clear to her." He looked at Shigehiro seriously. "You've let her go once before, Shige. Don't let her go again. This time, you'd better hold onto her tight and never let go, or you'll regret it for the rest of your life."
"But…" Shigehiro looked at Akashi with mild confusion, and slight hope visible in his eyes. "Tamaki… She only sees me as a friend." He protested.
Akashi smirked. "Who say that she does?" he said, only adding onto Shigehiro's confusion. He then draped his towel over the back of the chair in the hotel room before picking up the hotel key card on the table, along with his phone and a folder on the night table on his side of the bed. "I'm going to see the coach." He told his best friend. "We have a late night strategy meeting with Tama for our match against Touou for the finals, as well as going over the plan that we got for our match against Yosen in two days, so don't wait up for me. Get some sleep. We have another long day at training tomorrow." He then waved to Shigehiro and left the hotel room.
"W-Wait! Seijuro! What do you mean by that?" Shigehiro almost cried. "Come back and explain it to me!"
A/N: Now, aren't they infuriating? I feel like socking Shigehiro one too. Next chapter will have some Shigehiro versus Aomine action for those who wanted to see those two go at each other. As you might imagine, Aomine won't be portrayed in a very positive light in this story, as compared to Princess of Miracles.
Anyway, I hope that you like this chapter, and please read and review! Reviews give me inspiration to update!