Pairings: Shigehiro/Tamaki. One sided Aomine/Tamaki.
Warnings: AU Universe. OOC. Gender swap. Nice Akashi. Humble sibling Rakuzan. Some character bashing.
Disclaimer: I do not own Kuroko no Basuke and any of the characters, but the OC characters belongs to me
Chapter Nine: Emperor's Might
"There is a reason why Teiko accepted those two as our leaders right from the start—and in certain ways, they still are our leaders." - Momoi Satsuki
Rakuzan crashed into Touou like a fist right from the very beginning when the first whistle went off—signalling the start of the game.
Rakuzan's level is way above that of Touou's—since they're basically the high school version of Teiko Middle School, especially this year when they've gained the first and second-in-commands of the Generation of Miracles, and had also gained a player who is equivalent to one of the Generation of Miracles.
Hence, no one is really surprised that Rakuzan found it so easy to run circles around them. However, Touou is beyond frustrated that they couldn't so much as make it through their guard.
It is obvious right from the beginning what Rakuzan's strategy had been. Akashi and Shigehiro were everywhere at once—being the central players to Rakuzan's strategy and creating countless opportunities for their teammates to score and to run circles around the Touou players.
One time, Aomine got frustrated and tried to face Shigehiro in an one-on-one—like how Tamaki had predicted, but all that the orange haired teen did is to pass a backwards pass towards Mibuchi who scored a three pointer from where he is, despite Wakamatsu's best attempts to stop him.
Three minutes into the first quarter when all of Touou was starting to get used to Rakuzan's fast paced play and strategy, only Momoi's sharp eyes caught sight of Tamaki making a signal from Rakuzan's bench. Akashi and Shigehiro have nodded back to her, and then in the blink of an eye, Rakuzan's strategy totally changed hands, much to Touou's confusion.
The players on the court didn't notice a thing, but the bystanders did.
"Isn't the game getting faster?" A very confused Kise asked his captain—all of Kaijo are currently seated amongst the stands, along with nearly every single basketball team in Japan who are all interested to see who would come out on top in the Inter High finals. While Rakuzan had been the reigning champion at the three major basketball tournaments for the past decade, Touou had been a particularly dangerous team this year due to the addition of Aomine Daiki and even Momoi Satsuki.
"Run-and-Gun." Kasamatsu stated grimly, eyes fixated on the fast paced game going on below him as the ball changed hands several times before landing into Shigehiro's possession. As predicted, Aomine was nearly on top of him almost immediately, with both players having fierce scowls on their faces, and there is even a look of extreme dislike on Shigehiro's face. "Rakuzan had always been an offensive team, but this year, their style had been a little different with the additions of the first and second-in-commands of the Generation of Miracles, and even Lionheart."
"A team's style always changes with the additions of new players." Moriyama pointed out. "Especially if they have more than one new player to their usual line-up. It's the same for Kaijo too when Kise joined. Remember? We have to work on our formations and play styles for nearly a month before it is stable enough for us to use it in an actual match."
"They can switch from offense to defense in a heartbeat." Kobori noted even as Shigehiro broke past Aomine and passed the ball towards a waiting Hayama who gleefully took that chance to break past three Touou players and earned Rakuzan another two points. "But they haven't shown much of anything yet. They're called the Emperor for a reason. This isn't all that they're capable of."
Kise narrowed his eyes as he glanced at Tamaki who is seated on the Rakuzan bench, eyes focused on the match happening in front of her, a clipboard resting on her knees, with her notebook atop it, a pen in one hand.
Just what did Aomine do to piss her off? It is very difficult to piss off Kuroko Tamaki. He only remembers one time when an opponent did piss off Tamaki. The poor guy is probably still traumatised with what Tamaki had done to him.
"They're not doing anything that much different from Touou." Moriyama remarked carefully. "Yet they are still managing to keep ahead of Touou in terms of points. Why?"
"Probably…it's their strategist." Kasamatsu stated, eyes flickering towards Kuroko Tamaki on the Rakuzan bench. "The middle school basketball circuit's best strategist."
Kise smiled even as his teammates looked at him even as the whistle rang out as Aomine racked up a foul by pushing Shigehiro to the ground—much to Touou's annoyance. "There is a reason why Teiko could gain the reputation that they had in just under a year under the lead and guidance of those two," he remarked. "Tamacchi and Akashi-cchi… Those two are undeniably the two pillars of Teiko Middle School—our leaders. Under their lead and guidance, we brought Teiko victory after victory, thus cementing our reputation and name amongst the middle school basketball circuit as the ultimate team." He looked from the court to the Rakuzan bench, a fond smile on his lips. "Midorima-cchi once said it as well. Where Akashi-cchi pulls us, Tamacchi pushes us. The secret to our countless victories—especially during our first two years when we were still finding our feet… It is due to Tamacchi and her uncanny talent as a strategist. No one had been able to figure out what she is thinking, as she turns the basic common sense of sports and basketball upside down."
"Just how good is she, Kise?" Kobori asked with concern. After all, chances are that they might end up facing Rakuzan during the Winter Cup tournament.
"If you're talking about her skills as a strategist, she has no equal. Not even Momocchi could match her skills as a tactician." Kise said immediately. "But if you're talking about her skills as a player…" He trailed off slowly. "She's the Number Two player of the Generation of Miracles for a reason. Tamacchi's strong. If we ever end up facing Rakuzan, we have to be careful."
There was silence for several moments.
"Generation of Miracles…" Kobori murmured at last. "They are a fearsome team."
The buzzer that signalled the end of the first half of the game rang out just then, with Touou Academy only managing to gain a miserable twenty three points, with Rakuzan in the lead by at least twenty points.
"So far, they're acting like we expected." Shirogane remarked in Rakuzan's locker room as the regulars took the ten minutes break to quench their thirst and rest their muscles, with the regulars passing around the honey lemons to replenish their energy. Nebuya was currently going through his third banana. Hayama couldn't resist making a dig at the large teen, stating that he looked like a gorilla eating bananas. "Tamaki, changes?"
As one, all the regulars glanced over at their manager and vice-captain who is sitting in a corner next to her cousin, flipping through the pages of her notebook and comparing it to the notes that she'd written on the clipboard on her lap.
Tamaki glanced at the regulars before meeting Mayuzumi's eyes. "Mayuzumi-sempai, what did you notice?"
The silver haired senior blinked at being spoken to suddenly, but he answered promptly. "If I have Touou's personality right, they're probably going to put up a more solid defense, seeing as how they're nearly twenty points behind us. Probably, they're going to focus their play around Aomine."
"Well, that too." Tamaki smiled wryly. Throughout the duration of Mayuzumi's training, she had also been trying to teach him to observe and analyse and also to strategise, so that Rakuzan could have another game maker apart from herself and Akashi. "But it is true that it is most probably going to be Touou's plan. They're going to focus on defense for the second half. But I know Aomine, and he will never agree to play defense."
Next to her, Akashi nodded. The Generation of Miracles had been an aggressive team, and while they are all-rounders during their first two years, Teiko's style had changed drastically starting from the latter half of their second year when one after the other, their talents have blossomed suddenly.
"But I don't remember Touou being much of a defensive team." Mibuchi frowned, trying to remember if Touou had ever played defense before.
They're a pure offense team. And while Rakuzan mainly plays offense in matches as no team had ever pushed them enough into a corner to force them to switch to defense, they do tend to play a defensive style every now and then. Tamaki had placed all of them through the grinder, making them get used to every single style and formation that she had made up.
"You got that right." Tamaki said, pointing her pen at Mibuchi, a small smile on her face. "They've probably made the same mistake that so many teams with a member of the Generation of Miracles had made—they've relied too much on their Generation of Miracles' member. Probably with our former ace in their team, they thought that they don't have to bother with defense any longer. That is going to be their undoing in this match." Tamaki's grin is almost evil.
"What do you think they will do, Tamaki?" Shirogane asked quietly, watching the scene with interest. He is more convinced than ever that he didn't make the wrong choice in making two freshmen the leaders of the basketball team.
"One on one full court defense." Both Tamaki and Akashi said at the same moment. "That is what they are going to do, because they have no other option. Shige-kun, without a doubt, Aomine is going to stick to you like glue, as you're one of our main scorers. We're going to use that formation." Tamaki looked from face to face.
Mibuchi blinked, realising what formation that Tamaki is talking about. It is the new formation that she had came up with less than a month ago, and that the entire team is still working on, especially with Mayuzumi's recent addition. "We haven't gotten it down fully yet," he protested. "It's too risky to use it in a match like this."
"It's the best chance that we got." Akashi interrupted with a shake of his head. "Besides…" He glanced at Tamaki who nodded.
"Nebuya-sempai, you're out for the third quarter at least." Tamaki told Nebuya bluntly, much to his surprise, but he knew better than to argue. "Mayuzumi-sempai, you're in."
Mayuzumi blinked in surprise, and the looks on the faces of the other Rakuzan regulars were almost comical.
"It's too risky!" Mibuchi protested. "I know that you're been training him, but he hasn't been in a real match yet! Furthermore, the tactics and strategies that we've been practicing with our formations—"
"We're going to have to test it out in a real match anyway sooner or later." Shigehiro interrupted, a thoughtful look on his face. "Besides, the formation that Tamaki is talking about works best when Seijuro, myself and Tamaki are playing. But since she isn't playing, and Mayuzumi-sempai had learned much of his current style and techniques from Tamaki, I say that we give it a go. And I don't know about you, but I will also like to have Touou experience their first loss this season." Shigehiro's eyes glinted dangerously.
Mibuchi still looked ready to argue, but Shirogane looked thoughtful. Whenever Kuroko Tamaki makes a suggestion like that, she usually had something in mind. And most of the time, those gambles paid off—just like the time when she had entered his office, announcing to him that she wanted to train Mayuzumi Chihiro and make him a regular.
"What do you think, Akashi?" Shirogane asked his captain who looked thoughtful.
"…I'm with Tama." Akashi sided with his cousin. "It might be risky and a big gamble here, but basketball matches always are. Besides, all of us know the tactics and formations by heart by now. Let's do it like we practiced."
The tense atmosphere surrounding the court for the second half of the game could almost be cut through with a knife as the players from both Rakuzan and Touou entered once more. As Mayuzumi is pretty much an unknown entity to everyone, Touou was understandably confused when he was sent out with the Rakuzan players for the second half of the game whilst Nebuya had taken Mayuzumi's seat next to Tamaki on the bench, munching on his banana.
"What are you playing at?" Aomine demanded as he faced Shigehiro once more, with the tanned player almost towering over Shigehiro by a head and a half. "Who is that guy?"
"I don't think that you really should be worrying about Mayuzumi-sempai when you should be worrying about yourself and your team's chances of victory." A very annoyed Shigehiro stated.
"No one can beat me." Aomine proclaimed as the whistle went off for the start of the second half of the Rakuzan versus Touou match. "The only one who can beat me is me alone."
Shigehiro's eye twitched with annoyance even as Akashi passed the ball to him, and he caught it deftly in between his hands. "…I'll make you eat your words," he promised darkly.
Tamaki had been right about Touou being nervous and playing defense for the second half of the game due to how Rakuzan had trampled all over them during the first half of the game. Unknown to Touou however, that had all been part of Tamaki's plan—to unsettle them.
As Touou had never played defense even once the entire season, their defense had been full of holes, and all Rakuzan players found it extremely easy to slip past their defense. Shigehiro for instance even managed to blow past three players—Aomine included when he'd gained possession of the ball, and passed the ball towards Mibuchi who scored another three pointer despite Sakurai's best efforts to stop the taller and older Shooting Guard.
The formation that Tamaki had been talking about during the interval isn't very complicated. It had even been jokingly christened by Hayama as the 'Switch Formation' when Tamaki had first started teaching Rakuzan how to utilise it with her tactics. It basically involves a person breaking free from a full court defense, and another person acting as a screen almost immediately. It actually took weeks of practice before the Rakuzan players have stopped tripping each other up.
If Rakuzan had been a fist during the first half of the game, they became a hammer during the second half.
Shigehiro and Akashi were everywhere at once—circulating the ball in between themselves and even amongst the other players of their team—with not a single player holding the ball longer than a few seconds. It became a constant annoyance to Touou, as they wouldn't be able to stop Rakuzan if they don't know which player is going to score.
"I'm not going to let you have her." Shigehiro told Aomine frostily, becoming a screen for Akashi as the Rakuzan captain broke free from Imayoshi and Aomine and scored another two points for Rakuzan. "I've let her go once before, and it is the worst thing that I could have ever done. I'm not going to lose to you—whether it is basketball or the girl I love."
The applause could have taken the roof off as the officials announced that the champion of the Inter High tournament is Rakuzan High School, though it is almost predictable, especially as Touou could barely score during the second half of the game. In the end, Rakuzan had almost tripled Touou's score, much to Satsuki's dismay.
Tamaki on the other hand had gotten some good data in, and Rakuzan will be ready for them once more once winter comes.
Reporters have swarmed the Rakuzan players almost immediately after Akashi had received the championship trophy from the officials, and each member of Rakuzan had received the gold championship medal. Tamaki had easily dodged the excited reporters, thus sacrificing her cousin to the vultures, much to her teammates' amusement.
Shigehiro couldn't help grinning as he saw Akashi's annoyed look at them as excited reporters thrust their microphones into the face of the Rakuzan captain, recognising that look as Akashi's promise of a training session filled with pain once they'd returned to Kyoto.
"It's not over yet." Tamaki murmured even as Shigehiro stuck close by her side so that they don't get separated, eyes flickering towards where the Touou players have stood, all looking depressed, with some looking as if they're about to cry. "There is still the Winter Cup. The National High School Tournament."
Shigehiro nodded slowly, his eyes meeting Aomine's fury filled ones. Only the presence of Momoi Satsuki kept the tanned teen calm, and prevented him from doing anything stupid.
"We'll wait until the Winter Cup." Shigehiro promised. "We'll settle everything there."
It didn't matter how fiercely Aomine had glared at him or even at Shigehiro and Tamaki's intertwined hands as they left the Tokyo Gymnasium. He's fulfilled his childhood dream—he had the girl he had been crushing on since early childhood as his girlfriend, and he isn't going to lose her again.
A/N: Gah! I suck at writing original basketball scenes! The ending is so damn awkward! Next chapter will have a chance meeting between Tamaki and Shigehiro with Seirin and a certain Yosen player. Someone had asked about Kuroko's replacement in Seirin, as he had been the catalyst for everything that had happened in Seirin. You'll see in a few chapters.
Anyway, I hope that you like this chapter, and please read and review! Reviews give me inspiration to update!