Chapter 1: get on your feet and walk.
The last thing he remembered was lying down, staying still-- and for what felt like an eternity of many days, he doesn’t do anything.
Couldn’t do anything, really. Except cry, whimper helplessly, and wish to die.
He couldn’t even kill himself, because he couldn’t move.
From the neck down, his limbs had lost function. His fingers never twitched.
And underlying everything, the agony never ended. They called it phantom pains, even though it feels like acid is corroding through every vein and rupturing every bone-- there was nothing they could do to stop it because it was psychological.
And when he cried too hard he couldn’t even clear his sinuses on his own.
He was useless. Deadweight. A burden.
On life support.
He remembered the line of flowers by his bedside, the cards his mother would read to him each day, that he stopped listening to.
They always said the same thing, anyways. Something about missing his presence on the field. Condolences for his injury. (Injury. They’re calling this an injury?) Prayers for that miracle he needs to get well.
(Because he needs a miracle or he’ll never play again.)
Fate has a way of playing pranks on the earnest ones.
They see a star, rising up in the spotlight, basking in the cheers of his success, reveling in the fruits of his hardest efforts--
And it will bring that very spotlight down, physically shattering his cranium and rupturing his spine in what people would call a freak incident .
And that very star will remain strapped to a bed for the rest of his life, spun around every half day to avoid bedsores, rotting alive because everything below his neck was paralysed.
Fate has a way of being a total piece of shit.
Simply staring at the screen of a television that grew boring over time, he breathed, breathed, and simply, only breathed .
Maybe he still dreamed of the court. Maybe inside him, somewhere, he imagined leaping for the ball, stilling at the whistle, and cheering loudly in exhilaration when the ball shudders through the hoops. Or crying in upset when they ultimately lose a match.
Maybe something inside him wants to feel the warmth of those hugs, the love of those interlaced fingers.
Perhaps, that was why he woke up.
For a painful second, he feels his limbs again. He squeezes his fingers into a fist and curls his toes and he gets out of the bed-- and he’s standing .
Maybe his hands are a little smaller than he remembers, but he hasn’t seen them in a while, so he doesn’t think much of it.
He palms his own face, hugs himself, and he realizes this feeling on his skin is warmth . He feels the pulsing of his heart through his arteries and--
--and he drops to his knees and cries .
Runs stronger, faster than the wind, and feel the breath of winter break through his lungs almost painfully, but his heart tells him he hasn’t had enough.
Tucked into an indigo jersey he found, he ignores how his hair is much longer-- bluer -- than he remembers, and races himself across the streets that aren’t familiar.
He doesn’t recognize the towns, but somehow, he can read the language of the words-- it’s Japanese, he knows a little of it from his international games.
He’s not sure where he is, but he only wants one thing.
He yearns so deeply for only one thing right now and he’s willing to shove aside common sense just so he can go for it, go for it before this illusion breaks apart and he wakes up from a dream he will call a nightmare.
Before this-- this whatever it was, stops working.
He’s barefoot. But the pain from scrapes and blisters are nothing compared to the crescendo of agony he’s so accustomed to. This is nothing.
He scoops up a discarded basketball in an outdoor court, resting the weight in his hands just a little longer than necessary-- then he throws it down and catches it when it bounces back up. He dribbles towards the goal post on the opposing end, anchors a foot to the ground-- and he soars.
He can’t reach the hoop like he usually does, but he swings back and hurls.
It swirls around the rim, and sinks in.
He lands on the ground, and his breathing is laboured. His heart palpitates so rapidly he’s never heard it beat so quickly in years. His eyes burn with tears and the icy air almost hurts to breathe in. His hands are red, numb and shivering from the effort; his knees tremble like a newborn lamb. Yet the smile on his face is so wide.
He realizes he loves it. He misses it so much.
He misses mobility, activity, and something as simple as moving and running and-- and feeling empowering his every nerve.
Power surging through each and every shove and push, he drags his arm back, skids his feet around, turns and leaps-- and repeat.
In time he’s lying on the ground, eyes on the sky so impossibly filled with stars. His hair so long, it’s sprawled across his figure and wrapping around his lithe build.
There are friction burns between his fingers. Burning scratches under his feet.
But through it all the stars are so beautiful, the moonlight is so gentle on his skin, the sores he feels around his body feels so good and different and-- and so, so right .
If this was a spell, he would never want to wake up. Set free from the bonds of a quadriphlegic nightmare, this little nighttime excursion is like a dream come true.
He can play basketball again and it sounds so scarily impossible.
Father Lord, we pray for healing. For a miracle, that you would restore him.
He’d heard so many of those sermons. One of them told him he would stand up again. Another told him he may not-- but surely, there was another purpose for him. The skeptics blamed him for not believing enough-- that’s why he wasn’t healed yet. Another had dared to accuse him of a vital crime of sorts-- whatever she had been trying to make him repent for, the nurses chased her out before she could cause more of a ruckus.
And the last told him this.
That he would stand again, but it will not be down in the mortal world of sin and corruption.
Restoration would come after death, that one promised, but that one wasn’t sure if it would be in heaven or something else. Maybe in the waiting place, wherever it was. However it was. He didn’t claim to understand it fully-- after all, he’s never died before!
That had been the first day in years he’d cracked a chortle through the pain in his chest.
That man had been the nicest man among all those unwanted visitors. But he never came back-- maybe mother didn’t like him because he was a preacher. He was a fun guy.
After so long of just laying there, appreciating the cold cement under his skin and the throbbing ache of adrenaline in his brain, he realizes this isn’t a dream. This isn’t an illusion, nor is it temporary or a figment of his daydream--
This is life .
He sits up, and looks at his hands that aren’t just thin and malnourished-- they’re young . Couldn’t be older than six or seven years old, this was a child’s body.
His memories told him he was almost turning thirty in a few months. So what is this?
Something in him answers almost immediately.
This is a Miracle.
Chapter 2: pick your failures and write it down.
He learns his name, he learns about this world. Or, he tries to, at least.
Next that occurs is a blur.
Someone, his father apparently, shows up, frantic and concerned and so very panicked-- he wraps him in a hug, apologies spilling from his throat so consistently the tears muffle his voice.
He feels loved,and the embrace is warm and gentle and so tight and comfortable-- he leans in, closes his eyes, and takes a deep breath. His new father smells like fresh grapes and a sizzle of burnt coal. The bigger arms vibrate with heat, and he can’t help but lean in, feeling warm again.
He realizes his fingers are freezing, but his father lifts him like a baby and they walk home. He whispers promises into the boy’s ears, but the boy doesn’t understand them, not knowing the language well enough. But he is held so homely and so tenderly-- so he keeps quiet and simply enjoys the ride.
He settles into his new home relatively easily.
His name is Hiroto, of the Aisaka household.
Aisaka, an indigo hill. Hiroto, to spread wide and fly.
His mother had recently passed, so his father, who has lost his stable job, now works tirelessly to provide for their livelihood.
Up until that day, he had sunk into a depressive state-- Hiroto had retreated into his room and became a shut-in with the care of his neighbour, a friendly teenage girl. Those were their living conditions for a whole year, or perhaps longer, because Hiroto’s hair is now long to his shoulders from some motherly remembrance coping mechanism.
What surprises him most is the colour of his hair. His father had common black hair, but Hiroshi had a shock of indigo locks, cascading in smooth waves before curling up at the edges. His eyes were in the same dark purple-blue hue, and he knows this isn’t normal.
As he began to rebuild his relationship with his father and learn more of the language, Hiroto learns more about the world-- this world he had reincarnated into.
And he begins to take notes.
“So this world is mostly the same,” he mutters to himself, filling in his journal with the information he has begun to learn. He tries to write in Japanese, but it wasn’t working well. He still sucks at it too much, so he scribbles in English.
“No tameable magic beasts that spew fire or thunder,” he writes that down, “no magic circles and elite academies for the talented, no flying cars and endless caves or towering dungeons. No level up notification screens either.”
Maybe he was hoping for too much. Maybe he was watching too many TV shows, because somehow, he was expecting to end up in some crazy fantasy world. Turns out it’s literally normal.
But just to make sure, “we use the same year system and calendars and horoscopes and clock cycles. Just normal modern day Japan, except some of the more recent sportsmen I know apparently don’t exist. But Shaq and Tiger Woods exists, so maybe this history redact isn’t too far away...”
Well, that certainly helps his case. He didn’t need to learn or study things he’d never known existed.
“I don’t exist either,” he had borrowed his father’s phone and searched it up. The news of a famous basketball player that became a quadriplegic was wiped clean from the slates and entirely gone from sensationalized media, never having existed.
Somehow, that’s a relief.
Throwing down his pen with a sigh, he pulls a grin on his features and in a determined way, he closes his fingers into a fist and smiles.
He can’t help but feel so excited by it all. By this aspect of a new, free, life. Starting over again with premature limbs, untrained muscles, inflexible joints.
Standing up from his desk, he pulls the most of his hair away from him, holds it as a ponytail within his fist, and brings a blade through the thick indigo locks.
His father runs in screaming bloody murder, but he’s never felt this liberated in his life.
Aisaka Jousuke has never felt this much regret in his life.
Human in his own right, he has had his fair share of major fuck-ups in life. Letting his six-year-old son live unsupervised was one. Not approaching him until he’s physically suicidal is another. Allowing him to go to his room at seven o’clock was apparently one, too.
Now he seats his little Hiroto on a bathroom stool.
Armed with a pair of scissors, he tries his utmost best to fix this crime of a haircut his son has impulsively brought upon himself. Why the heck is there a blade in his room? Ah, right, because your genius ass left him alone for ten months.
Sometimes, Jousuke wonders if this kid is worth the headache. But when Hiroto giggles at every little mistake his clumsy hands make, the smile on his face so wide and adorable-- Jousuke knows that he’s worth anything, always.
Running his fingers through the unique indigo locks, Jousuke dumps a bucketfull of water over his head, careful not to get Hiroto’s clothes wet, and drapes a dry towel over the boy’s shoulders.
“There, I’m done,” he sighs defeatedly, “much lighter now?”
“Yeap!” Hiroto bounces right up, stepping over the stool to give his father a bright, obnoxiously proud grin. “Thanks, dad!”
His hair is short. So short, it’s barely around his ears now, curled at the edges but framing his pale face tenderly.
Maybe , Jousuke thinks, this is a mark of a great change .
For both him and Hiroto.
“Are you really sure you’re fine alone? I can--”
“I’m fine, dad, just go to work already.”
Jousuke does not trust his son to take care of himself. He’s guilty enough knowing he has to leave Hiroto alone at home, after everything that’s happened.
Hiroto sits on the couch, his little feet bandaged for all the scrapes he’d suffered. Swinging his legs over the edge, he kicks out playfully and grins assuringly.
His son tells him one more time that he’s fine .
Jousuke promises to come back as early as he can, just for good measure.
As he leaves the house, he can’t shake off the feeling that something is off . Hiroto’s recovered much too quickly for a boy that’s apparently been a depressed shut in for nearly a year.
He’s acting like a normal kid now, and although Jousuke is relieved, it doesn’t feel real.
Ten months ago, his son hated him enough to shut him out of his life. His son despised him enough to yell it in his face and refuse to eat any meals.
When Jousuke decided to try and make it up to the kid, he was prepared for struggle. For rejection. For himself to be hurt further, because of how he’s hurt his own kid.
But none of that happened.
Hiroto melded back in with him and began livelihood with Jousuke anew, as if the whole incident had never occurred.
Maybe if Hiroto was an adult, Jousuke would have ignored it as a happy sign of maturity. Of a mutually bleeding wound they would let coagulate over time.
But Hiroto was a child .
Jousuke crouches down, and a part of him wonders if that’s even his Hiroto anymore.
Chapter 3: work past your leisure and find it out.
Aisaka Hiroto spends the rest of his elementary years home-schooled.
“Going for a jog, Hiroto?” his father asks from his spot on the dining table, nursing his mug of coffee.
Hiroto, dressed in a light tank top and sweatpants, nods with a hum. Crouching down to tie his shoelaces, the boy bids a quick bye to his father before setting a steady pace out the door.
Over the months of daily exercise, the boy began to sport a peachy tan over his skin. He was beginning to look more fit than his father himself was, and sometimes the man wondered where his son inherited that sporty discipline.
Hiroto rounds the route toward a shopping mall, and takes a detour on his route to pass through the streetball court. It’s a little before classes begin, so Hiroto isn’t surprised to find it in use.
He’s surprised to see hair that shade of blue.
A boy that couldn’t be much older than himself (though yeah he’s pretty short) was dribbling a basketball across the court. Another boy, brown-haired, grins widely as he shifts his limbs broad across the field, stopping his opponent in his tracks.
Hiroto’s caught staring before he really realizes he was doing it himself.
“Can we help you?”
The boy’s speaking to him. The boy’s speaking to him! Hiroto flinches away from the fence with a little squeak, and the words are caught in his throat.
“Sorry for startling you!” the brown-haired one panics, then slings an arm around the blue-haired boy’s shoulders, “c’mon, Kuroko, don’t do that.”
“I wasn’t doing anything.”
“Yes you were.”
Hiroto shys away hesitantly, standing still as he tries to remember how conversations went.
“I,” this was his first attempt at speaking to another human that wasn’t his father (or mother) for years , both this life and past lives. Even referring to himself with a personal pronoun felt weird.
“I, I just saw you two... playing. Basketball, I uh, was just passing by-- and, and yeah, I was a little... uh, uhm, a little interested,” he admits weakly, unable to even meet people in the eye, the discomfort too great in that gesture, “...sorry to interrupt.”
That was pathetic. What was that ridiculous excuse of a conversation? Has your famed eloquence really fallen this far, Hiroto? You weren’t like this with your dad! Get a grip, you weakling!
Okay I’m sorry you’re not a weakling why are you crying excuse me you can’t possibly be hurt by your own train of thought--
“Look what you did, Kuroko, you freaked him out.”
“It’s my fault?”
The lighter-haired boy, called Kuroko apparently, pouts, unaccepting, but maybe a little guilty nonetheless. He palms the basketball in his hand, then turns to the indigo-haired boy.
“Hey, do you play too?”
Hiroto nods quickly, “can I-” he falters, stopping his thought. Maybe he wanted to join their game, but would that be intruding? Even back then, joining a stranger’s basketball game was a strange thing to do. Would they think he was weird?
“Wanna play together?” the brown-haired boy cuts in his thought with a grin, “the more the merrier, right? C’mon, we’ve got about ten before we’ll have to run for class.”
Hiroto barely realizes he hadn’t agreed to the game before he’s bracing for a pass, and the other two run toward the goal post.
A grin crawls up his face, and with a vigor he misses, he launches.
“Hey, what’s your name?” the boy asks, arms spread out to stop his advance.
Hiroto stops cleanly, swerves back, and bounced the ball to his other hand.
“Me?” he’s surprised to get a conversation in this situation, but he entertains it anyways.
He’s not sure about Japanese just yet, but he remembers the Japanese Basketball players he’s met before, and they’d always prefer to go by their last name.
So, “Aisaka,” he says, “nice to meet you.”
Half step right, one step left-- spin back, and leap. He brings his hands up and shoots from the three-point line, leaving the two in awe.
It bounces at the rim, bumps into the backboard, and sinks into the hoop.
“My name’s Ogiwara,” the brown-haired boy looks at the goal in muted amazement before turning back to Aisaka, “you’re pretty good at this, huh?”
“You can shoot three-pointers?” Kuroko approaches, and although his eyes are wide and blank, there’s a sparkle of admiration gleaming through them.
Yeah, three-pointers are a big deal for elementary school kids. Chuckling sheepishly, Aisaka picks up the basketball and pushes it into Kuroko’s hands.
“Teach me,” Kuroko says, voice brimming impossibly with anticipation.
Ogiwara excitedly echoes.
“Which school do you go to?” Ogiwara asks, tearing off his sweaty shirt to strap on his school uniform. Kuroko did the same, buttoning his shirt on quickly.
“Me?” Aisaka asks rhetorically, “oh, I don’t go to school, not yet at least.”
Both heads perk up, alarmed.
“Then, are you planning on going to Junior High?” Kuroko asks, brushing a towel over his face, “must be nice to not have to go to school…”
“Junior High, well, maybe,” Aisaka mumbles, “but for now, we’re tight on cash…”
There’s barely a second for the two to hear the mumbling before a distant chime was heard. Ogiwara flips, “Kuroko, isn’t that your bell?”
“Huh? Ah,” Kuroko blanks out.
“Don’t ‘ah’ me, get going! Run!” Ogiwara splutters, grasping for one of the bags on the bench and right about tossing it in the direction of the boy before shoving him on his way.
Aisaka bursts into laughter, and Kuroko is reluctantly scrambling off, his oddly deadpan expression stuck on his face the entire time.
Once he was out of sight, Ogiwara sighs longsufferingly.
“I’ll see you around, then?” the boy asks, and Aisaka smiles back when a hand is offered to him. A handshake, and that’s a familiar gesture.
“Next time,” Aisaka responds, and he takes the hand in for a firm shake.
“You were certainly gone for a while,” Jousuke points out grumpily, his arms folded before him and lips pursed into a scowl, “I was worried.”
In his past life, Hiroto lived alone for the most part. It wasn’t until the incident that he moved home to the country, back to his mother, to live out the rest of his life in bed or on a chair.
So coming home to another face, and hearing a father scold him for staying out a little longer without reporting back-- as irritating as it felt, Hiroto was happy for it.
“Sorry, dad,” he manages a sheepish chortle, “I found some guys playing basketball and decided to join them.”
Jousuke pops on his shoes and leaves for work. Hiroto watches the house, and another simple afternoon begins in the quiet and peaceful Aisaka household.
Hiroto understands that this, although boring, is nothing compared to the horrors of boredom in his past life.
This new life, this new setting and all those new meetings-- they were a new beginning all set up for him to try something so much greater than he’d ever managed.
Hell if he was going to spend this time rotting in the house!
“I’ll go to a public school,” he begins, “then if I perform well, I can get a sports scholarship and get scouted, so I won’t be a financial burden.”
Because, as he’s already tested the waters, his sports capabilities have not been lost through his second life. His muscles are deteriorated and his body is still young, but that is a tiny setback. His finesse can be trained again, and this time, he has movements and plays and experience that is worth so much more.
This time, he can become so much better at basketball than he ever could before.
And the thought excites him.
“So, those two, their names were... “ he mutters, dropping to the yoga mat laid out in the living room floor and trying to lower his posture into a split. He was about a centimetre away from finally succeeding, “uh, how do you write it? Is there kanji, wait, of course there is.”
Both of them were meager at best, not the greatest but they were passionate and that was all that mattered at this age.
“But that Kuroko kinda sucked,” he folds his arms and begins talking to himself, (a perk of being stuck at home alone) “he’s like that one kid, uh, Zachary? Their muscles and bones aren’t built for stuff like this, so no matter how much he trains, he can’t get much better.”
The kind that have to give up on ever being able to catch up with their peers. The ones that will work harder and harder, but ultimately lose because fate just wasn’t on their side.
“But Kuroko definitely loves basketball,” Hiroto wonders if there’s a way to convince that kid to only ever play on the street. If he went to competitions he’d get crushed to bits.
Suddenly Hiroto jerks frozen.
“Wait,” something’s off, something was strange about that sentence. Kuroko definitely loves basketball. Kuroko… there shouldn’t be anything odd about it, “I mean, no way… where have I… heard that name before?”
In those stricken moments of confusion, the only thing he was sure of was that this was a name he’s heard of in his past life . Was it from one of his games overseas? No, it wasn’t that. It was from TV. Was it a popular athlete? No, not that either. He’d stopped watching sports shows after the incident because it physically hurt him to look at them.
“Holy fuck, ” he swears, posture crumbling as he clambers to his feet, rushing to the computer. His first searches turn up null, but that confirmed it enough.
He’d tried to search for the Generation of Miracles , and apparently they didn’t exist either. That meant, at the very least, that manga doesn’t exist in this world .
Because he’s in it .
“I’m… in a bloody anime world?”
Chapter 4: know where you stand and go.
“You’ve got to be shittin’ me right now.”
He leaps, and brings his arm up strong, hooking the ball toward the rim. It goes in, and he drops to the ground, staggering off balance for two steps before he scoops the ball up, bringing it down to dribble toward the other goal.
He passes it through his feet, feints past an invisible opponent, and spins sharply before bumping up for a fadeaway.
“Not just any anime, a basketball anime ? Talk about plot convenience, please let me wake up,” he mutters under his breath, brushing aside an armful of sweat under his chin. “And heck, it’s that one anime I hated cause it made no fuckin’ sense.”
He didn’t even finish it. Why did he have to end up here, of all places? Well, at least he could play basketball here… wait.
“Ack!” The ball slips from his hold mid-throw, bounces off the hoop.
He rests his hands on his knees, and breathes heavily, trying to catch his breath.
“Crap, if I play basketball, I might mess up the story,” he realizes, “and since I didn’t finish it, I don’t know shit about it and I don’t know what to avoid.”
Alright, step one, don’t go near weirdly-coloured hair people.
“Holy crap, my hair is indigo!! ” he screams,as if he’s just realized.
This day couldn’t get any worse.
“You really need to stop playing until you collapse, Aisaka-kun.”
This isn’t the first time he’s met Kuroko out in this same court. In fact, Aisaka is here so often, Kuroko is mildly under the belief that Aisaka lives here.
Aisaka, lying flat on the ground and breathing heavily as he stares into a streetlight, groans. Kuroko frowns at his exhausted state.
“Ogiwara’s not with you today?” Aisaka asks, throwing his upper body upright. “That’s rare.”
He’s been seeing Kuroko more often, mainly because this is the only street court that isn’t always occupied by high-schoolers, and it’s near to his house. Kuroko and Ogiwara frequent this very same court, and Aisaka didn’t have the right to tell them to go away.
They were friends as much as they were neighbours. Not close at all, but they’re decently well-acquainted due to a shared interest.
“We’re not always together,” Kuroko insists, “we just meet occasionally, like you and me.”
“Is that so,” it’s not a question, but Aisaka yawns, realizes the basketball is by his feet, and scoops it up to toss at the blue-haired boy. “I’m fine. I do nothing else all day.”
“That’s still not healthy.”
“Well I have to spend my time on something , don’t I?”
“I’m rather sure ‘something’ can not include ‘play basketball until I cannot move’, Aisaka-kun.”
Aisaka stares incredulously at the boy, as if he’d just been told to stop breathing. Kuroko sighs longsufferingly, the ball rocking back and forth in his palm.
Okay, so Aisaka is in an anime. He’s currently looking at the main character of the show, but right now, he sucks in everything except scaring the living daylights of people. Ogiwara is probably in Level fifty-five of ‘you have unlocked shadow boy’s backstory’, which Aisaka has conveniently not read or watched at all, and Aisaka couldn’t give a shi-- okay, maybe he has to. Kuroko’s a nice guy.
“Okay then, I guess we’re not playing today,” the blue-haired boy decides, “let’s go get a drink or something.”
The indigo-haired boy leaps, horrified, “but why?”
“Because you’re exhausted already.”
“I’m not! I can keep going!”
Kuroko hears none of it. He walks away, basketball in hand, and he picks up his bag. “Let’s go to Maji Burger’s for a milkshake,” and he turns to leave.
Aisaka is stupefied for a horrid three seconds before he hops to his feet, scoops up a bag, and trails after the boy who took his basketball away from him. “Wait for me!”
Aisaka couldn’t remember anything of the show, but seriously, who would’ve thought that was important?
But at this point, Aisaka wonders if he needs to care. Maybe he doesn’t. He lives here now, imaginary or not and no matter how stupid this situation sounds.
This place was a basketball mania’s epitome of hell. Overpowered characters come in hordes, and what can Aisaka, a normal, do?
No, Aisaka breaks into an amused grin as he realizes-- if anything, he’s not normal. He’s the reincarnation of a basketball star that took the world by flames and earned his home some fame.
He is a basketball player , and here he was, facing the desecration of the purity of this sport. Desecration may be too strong a word, but the meaning remains.
Once upon a time, he thought his life was over.
His body was shattered and his mind was broken. His hopes were nonexistent, as if the gods themselves had given up on him.
But now he has a chance. Another chance, a dream he can finally make come true, and even if it’s in a messed up, ridiculous world like this one-- it’s enough.
It’s enough that he can even walk .
It’s enough that he can stand up, stretch, and take a deep breath that doesn’t hurt.
“Hey, Kuroko,” Aisaka sips on his own milkshake-- strawberry-- and sits across from the blue-haired boy. “Where are you going for Junior High?”
The boy seems a little taken aback to get the question.
“I haven’t decided,” Kuroko says, “Ogiwara-kun, however, is considering Meiko.”
Aisaka raises an eyebrow at that. That sounded awfully familiar, yet not at all. But he doesn’t remember seeing the name of that school around town.
“Meiko?” he asks.
“It’s in Kyoto,” Kuroko explains, “his family is moving next year, for work.”
Aisaka sputters, “ what??”
“It’s in Kyoto, and--”
“No, I heard that part!” Aisaka snaps, “he’s moving away?”
Kuroko blinks, looking up from him milkshake, a little surprised, “...we didn’t tell you?”
“No you didn’t! Give me back my last three months of friendship!”
“I’m considering it.”
“I have physically suffered damage. Please compensate for my agony.”
“I’m already paying for your strawberry milkshake.”
“Yeah, that’s enough.”
They stay in silence for a moment, before Aisaka breaks into laughter. Kuroko manages a smile at that.
They haven’t known each other for long at all-- less than a year with only basketball to talk about, and yet-- they thoroughly enjoyed their friendship with each other.
“Let’s go to the same Junior High,” Aisaka decides, a shot in the wild. Because he was new to this world and, as far as Kuroko knew, he was new to the concept of school . It would make sense if he wanted a guide to lead him through his experience.
He doesn’t expect it when Kuroko agrees.
Chapter 5: love what you get and live.
“Aisaka!” Ogiwara throws his voice, “come on out and play!”
The indigo-haired boy whirls out of his bed, throwing off the covers as he just, very confusedly, blinks for a long moment.
Fresh out of a dream, his sleep-muddled mind is equal parts exhausted and confused. It takes him a second to remember his own name, then he turns to the clock just to make sure it’s actually morning this time.
Last time he woke up, it was in the middle of the night and his father really wanted to know why he was making breakfast at three am.
Yeah, that didn’t end well.
He jerks out of his spot, knocking over a lamp post.
Wait, that wasn’t part of his dream?? Actually, he couldn’t remember much of that dream except that for some reason, Kuroko had bandages around his head? Or was that a scarf...
He throws his window open and screams into the world, “shut up!”
“Yay, you’re awake!”
“It’s five bloody am you oversized fucking idiot!”
“He’s swearing, oops!”
Aisaka takes a moment to appreciate the view of Ogiwara Shigehiro scampering away, basketball tucked under his arm. He slings half of his body over the ledge of his window and groans, limbs sore and headache burning in his skull.
If this was his past life, he would’ve broken a few skulls if anyone dared yell him awake at this ungodly hour. It was probably the most common reaction, to be honest.
Instead, he crawls out of his bed, pulls off his pyjama top, and picks out a decent T-shirt before going to look for shorts in the drawer.
“Seriously, those punks have too much energy,” he grumbles, “who the hell willingly wakes up at five am to play basketball before school, every day?”
He’s not that young anymore… okay, maybe he’s twelve now, but he’s mentally like thirty so cut him some slack.
He puts a hand at the back of his neck as he yawns, trying to walk the sleepiness out of him. His fingers prod against the slightly raised, red birthmark across his nape.
In his last life, his head injury was somewhere around here, too. So that was creepy.
He muffs up his hair, knowing it’s decently presentable even without a comb. He was never one to have much of a bedhead, anyways… He steals his father’s hoodie and drags it over his head.
He gets dressed and leaves the room, snatching the house keys off the side while he wriggles in a shooting glove on his dominant hand. His door is open before his shoes are fully on.
He swings over the balcony of the third floor, grabbing onto the ledge of the second. Using the wall as a leverage, he hops to the radio pole beside the building, and slides down to the roof of a car before bouncing off a rain-drenched stool and landing cleanly on the ground.
A few squirrels scatter at the movement, but he pays it no mind.
He stretches until a satisfying joint pops, then he breaks into a dash.
“Do you really have to call me out like that every time you don’t see Kuroko around?” Aisaka asks, exasperation evident in his tone.
Ogiwara has the cheek to grin like he was proud of it. He pants heavily, hands on his knees as he catches his breath, “but playing alone is boring,” he says, like it’s obvious, “and you’re free anyways, right?”
Aisaka pulls his hoodie over his head and grimaces at the sweaty fabric.
“Well yes, I am free...” He tosses it aside and reaches for Ogiwara’s water bottle, giving a shoulder shrug at the boy as a silent request for permission, “but I’ve also got chores.”
Ogiwara waves his hands dismissively, to say go ahead . “Well, you don’t reject me,” he points out, as if that’s a valid argument, “and you’re good at basketball.”
“My skills in basketball are irrelevant,” Aisaka retorts instinctively, but he’s smiling anyways, giving the boy a rough play-shove in retaliation. He raises the water bottle and takes a large, quenching gulp, gasping in satisfaction after.
Ogiwara snorts out a laugh, and he shoved back. The bottle jumps in Aisaka’s hands and the water spills all over. They crumble into unsalvageable guffaws as Ogiwara shakily tries to salvage his school uniform.
“Once summer break comes around, let’s go mountain biking! All three of us,” Ogiwara suggests, standing his water bottle up beside the bench.
“Mountain biking? Y’sure?”
He remembers going on those-- maybe once? In his past life. Those bikes were hella heavy, though.
“Of course! I dragged Kuroko out with me last year, too!” he says, “that guy, he’s got crazy low stamina, y’know? The uphills with him were hilarious, I think at some point I had to carry him and two bikes at the same time.”
Don’t call your friend’s suffering hilarious, Aisaka doesn’t point out. Instead, he rolls his eyes and says, “don’t compare him to you, Ogiwara, you’ve probably got enough stamina to run a 10k.”
“Huh? How’d you know?”
“Holy crap, you can ?”
“Isn’t that what pacing is all about?”
“You’re twelve years old, stop being a bloody cheat !”
“I don’t know what that is but I don’t like how it sounds!”
Ogiwara squawks when Aisaka lunges on, shoving him to the ground by the shoulders. His knees buckle and they collapse in a pile. Aisaka runs his hands through the boy’s hair with every intent to mess it up.
Ogiwara screeches like a gremlin got to him, clambering up but being unable to throw off the slightly smaller male from his neck.
“Why do you have no flaws? You need one!”
“Get off me! My hair! I have class in two minutes, Aisaka, don’t!!”
“I’m gonna make this look like Kuroko’s bedhead if I can!”
“No, anything but that, please!!”
Aisaka spends the rest of his year at home and in the public library to study up on the basics again, if only for his father’s assurance.
His father’s job dwells to stable work hours. Learning strongly from mistakes, he scrounges through every loophole to come home in time for his son. Much more than anything, he loved his child and Aisaka almost found it miserable how he could never enjoy this love fully. He may be Hiroto now, but his heart will always think otherwise.
He sits on the dinner table with his father, and his mind brings him back to times with his mother-- his roommates-- and he would so starkly realize that in the end he is not and will never fully be Aisaka Hiroto.
He was just a ghost, possessing this body and using it to live his dream one more time, one more time-- until the spell inevitable shatters and hope is lost once again.
But maybe that’s fine, too.
“Goodnight, Hiroto,” his father whispers to him, brushing back his bangs and planting a gentle kiss on his forehead-- it’s an intimacy that they both think is too childish and cheesy, but they do it anyways. They wouldn’t give it up for the sake of the world.
“Sleep tight. Love you.”
Even if this love doesn’t truly belong to him--
Maybe he was put here to enjoy it anyways.
Chapter 6: when one leaves, another comes.
It didn’t matter which life it was, his passion was always for basketball.
He feels the rough of the ball grind through his palm, release from his hold-- he leaps higher than ever before, and slams it down the hoop.
He hangs heavily on the hoop, listening to the creak of the rusted steel for a bitingly long moment-- and he releases, distributing his weight to land on both his hands and feet. That was too high of a drop for hm to not injure his legs, after all.
He lifts his head, and the next breath is liberating . Accomplished. So impossibly sweet and for a moment, it’s like he’s won the world.
Almost two years since his first day here, and he finally manages to dunk.
Beside him, Ogiwara cheers and, like the mood-killing lump of energy he always is, he dives Aisaka into the ground, laughter coming out like a half snort, half sobs.
“You’ve grown so much,” he sobs fakely and Aisaka bonks him over the head, “I remember like yesterday, you couldn’t even speak a straight sentence to Kuroko!”
Aisaka flushes. “It’s not that big of a deal!” He was the type to only manage speaking well once he was comfortable. He did not like it being pointed out so clearly. Was he that obvious? Okay maybe but--
“You were flying,” Kuroko enters the conversation, everything and awe in his voice. There’s a look in his eyes, a mix of horror and surprise and bafflement that wasn’t going anywhere else anytime soon. “You were flying ,” he says again, because it apparently needs to be repeated.
With the three of them, there is no better trio. Aisaka is solid in the rear, Kuroko sticks them together, and Ogiwara continues to drag their pace forward. It’s an easy push and pull, gentle and as natural as water in a river.
Aisaka enjoys that. It’s a little dull compared to his old endeavours, but it’s nice too.
It’s awesome, the feeling of slowly, surely, building your body back up. Watching yourself grow like a new sprout, and feeling a rush of joy when a new leaf sets into shape. Aisaka loves progress. He’s trained youths in his past, he can never get over the exhilaration of documenting every moment of new talent.
You were flying, Kuroko says.
And he’ll keep flying, higher and higher, forever.
At least, he wanted to.
“Send letters, alright?” Aisaka nudges the brown-haired boy in the arm, “or an email, cause y’know your handwriting’s way too awful for the life of both of us.”
Ogiwara pulls Aisaka’s neck into a rough hold, mussling up his hair with a low growl, then pulling on the boy’s cheeks and stretching them wide, “why are you never cute? Is this mouth the one that’s being cheeky? Kuroko, bring the duct tape.”
“Ahbooze, abuuoooze!” Aisaka protests, weakly patting at the taller boy’s wrists. He was probably trying to say ‘abuse’, but Kuroko could only guess.
“I look forward to seeing you again, Ogiwara-kun,” Kuroko’s words are in their usual monotone, much less taunting and even itching with a hint of a smile as he gives a very polite, “have a safe trip.”
“There!” Ogiwara gestures dramatically at Kuroko, like he’s worthy of the greatest gems, “that’s how you’re supposed to do it, Aisaka. Learn from him!”
Aisaka pouts, not acknowledging the tiny smile Kuroko gives in response, as if he was proving his point with a snarky, haha-I’m-the-favourite-child look. Aisaka snorts against it.
Their fists join in a center, and they smile.
“The next time we meet, it’ll be me against the two of you!” Ogiwara whines half-heartedly, like it’s not fair but he loves the thought of it.
It’ll probably be just Ogiwara and Aisaka, though. Kuroko was weak in comparison and they all knew it-- but nothing felt forced about the way they said it. Kuroko wasn’t a burden-- he was the advantage both of them wanted desperately to have. Ogiwara just drew the short straw.
“See ya, Ogiwara.”
It’s late into sixth grade when Ogiwara leaves. The court feels a little emptier from then, the noisiest of them vanished-- and games were always a little quieter.
But that didn’t make it less fun.
Kuroko watches Aisaka grow, get better, and improve-- but he advances too. He trains and they practice. They work their hardest. They play streetball, not just with each other, but with strangers they come across on their days, and with new friends they make once in a while.
It’s a little lonelier, but they manage.
After all, they promised. They exchanged letters and huddled around to read and write back. It was dumb, childish, but enjoyable.
It’s on a day when Kuroko has remedial classes.
Aisaka, ditching self study, wanders away from the court he usually frequents. If he went there, he’d get absorbed and wouldn’t be able to stop himself from grinding till sundown-- so he wanders to the playground instead, and finds something else.
Deja vu bites him in the ass.
The bounce of a basketball against pavement, and a sharp shuttle of a hoop as the ball goes through-- he finds himself staring before he knows it.
Basketball had that sort of magic to him. He sees it and it’s a beauty that never fades, but only grows more magnificent with time.
Today, he watches a fellow twelve-year-old score the most beautiful dunk he’s ever seen, and the breath is gone from him.
It’s not a steel basketball stand, but it stood at the right height. There’s that crackle and that sharp shriek of strained nails as his weight drags the hoop down. It clutters and bounces back up when he lets go-- and he lands, staggering in his steps as an evident cringe shoots up his feet from the high drop.
“You did it, you did it!”
That’s when Aisaka notices the pink-haired girl beside them, sitting at the swings and watching with bated expectations. At the score, she jumps and actually throws herself onto the boy, who yelps but doesn’t topple over.
“Oh c’mon, Satsuki, it’s not that big of a deal,” the boy groans, trying to shove her off of him but she was solid there, “off. Off.”
“But you’ve been trying for ages to get a dunk!” the girl whines, and is she crying? Oh my god, “you jumped so high!!”
Aisaka catches the basketball before it rolls too far away, picking it up. That’s when the two notice him watching.
“Who’re you?” the boy looks at him weirdly.
Aisaka almost laughs, but he settles on a smile. Maybe it is weird to be staring at a boy playing basketball in this world. In the old world, it wasn’t exactly uncommon to have an audience when you play outside. This was one weird world.
“That was a cool dunk!” Aisaka says, and it strikes him how easily the words come.
It’s only been a year since he actually began to re learn Japanese, but he could speak it normally now. He’s more open than he was a few months back when he first met Kuroko.
It’s like Aisaka is slowly, but surely, assimilating into this body, and taking in what this body used to know and growing out of the flaws in his system.
Who was this body before he invaded it?
“Hey, you,” he passes the ball back to them, “wanna play a one-on-one?”
The boy snorts. Maybe it’s the fact that Aisaka doesn’t have a lot of bulk in him. He doesn’t look like he’ll be much-- but that isn’t underestimation in his eyes. Those are sheerly excited glances as he looks Aisaka up and down, trying to figure out how to get through him before they even begin.
Aisaka instantly knows this will be a fun game.
Chapter 7: find something new and carry on.
Their first meeting was strange. Aomine was entirely convinced he was rude, Momoi feared a street brawl, and Aisaka actually lost.
“This is bullshit,” he spits, breathing so heavily he can’t make a proper vowel.
Aomine laughs, “you’re weak!” he teases, spinning the basketball on his finger as he crouches down beside the shorter boy.
“I’m not!” Aisaka argues sharply, “you play rough!”
“You just don’t hold the ball strong enough,” Aomine makes a swinging motion with his hand, “I can hit the ball right outta your hand, easy.”
“I thought my fingers were going to rip off!”
“At some point I think I was just running away and you were cackling like a vampire.”
“I was not!”
“Yes you were!”
That continued for a while. They bark each other’s heads off until both were simply gasping for breath at the sheer stupidity of the situation.
They sit down, Aisaka on the bench and Aomine beside it on the ground.
That was too much yelling for the rest of his life, Aisaka decides. He actually manages to laugh at it.
“So, what’s your name?” Aisaka asks finally once he’s caught his breath. He sees Aomine and his sweat-drenched state, so he pulls a fresh towel from his bag and tosses it at the boy.
“Me? I’m Aomine,” he says, then adds a second later, “Daiki.”
He contemplates returning the towel, but uses it with a soft word of gratitude because it’s already touched him. Giving it back now would be nasty.
“And I’m Momoi Satsuki,” suddenly the girl is there again, and Aisaka realizes she’s been gone for a second. She holds two cans of Pocari in their direction, and that smile suggests he take it. “Here, I bought drinks.”
“Ah, thanks, Satsuki,” Aomine takes one without even thinking, but Aisaka freezes.
When the girl nudges it further in his direction, Aisaka blurts, “me too?”
Momoi giggles, pushing it into Aisaka’s hands before he can ask again, “of course! Thanks for playing with Dai-chan. Not many people like playing with him cause he gets way too into it sometimes.”
Aisaka looks at the Pocari like it’s a blessing from the gods above.
“They just get tired way too easily,” Aomine scoffs, taking a big, refreshing gulp, “I haven’t been this exhausted in ages! What are you made of?”
Aisaka shifts, offended, “I’m normal, thank you very much, you’re just a monster,” he says, “ah, and, I’m Aisaka! Aisaka Hiroto. Nice to meet you two.”
That was probably when things really began.
Aisaka meets Kuroko every few days before his classes, and he finds Aomine on every other day. For some reason or the other, they never meet, not even by coincidence. Aisaka tries to tell Kuroko about his other friend, but conversations would get interrupted somehow.
It was like some divine power was at work, so Aisaka stopped trying. They’ll meet soon, anyways. Might as well not try to speed it up.
Aisaka knows that soon, he’ll have to go to school each day. The empty, nonchalant days of just running and playing basketball would soon end, and he’ll churn back into the hell of daily schooling. He isn’t sure if he’s happy about that, but at this point everything beats this dullness.
“Are you sure you want to go with me?” Kuroko asks, not for the first time, about Aisaka’s choice of junior high, “the school I’m going to has standards for academics, so you might find it difficult to keep up.”
Aisaka laughs heartily, “is that coming from the boy that needs my help in his homework?”
Aisaka taps his pencil on Kuroko’s papers, and the boy promptly flushes. For a moment he seems to want to kick back his chair and bolt from this room, but Aisaka is standing within vicinity of the door.
“You’re just better at English than I am,” Kuroko insists.
“Sure,” Aisaka shrugs, “we have like, five subjects and you’re uncomfortably bad at four of them.”
“You are brutal.”
“It was not a compliment.”
“That wasn’t a-- nevermind.”
It’s the first time Kuroko’s gone as far as come into Aisaka’s house. Entrance exams are a month away, and Kuroko finally admits to his awful grades.
No, they aren’t awful , but for someone aiming for a high-end school like Teiko, they may be tottering at the edge. In short, they’re a little too slightly below average.
Aomine is an idiot too, but at least he’s getting in with a sports recommendation from his grade-school principal. Kuroko can’t do the same.
It isn’t as if Aisaka is smart, either-- this school maybe high end, but they’re lenient and big. As long as you aren’t entirely hopeless, you can still get in.
Which is why Kuroko is here,on a sleepover, with his textbooks and a will to live in tow. No basketball until it’s over.
Aisaka-kun is mean.
S. O. S. Ogiwara-kun, save me.
Fight-o! (ﾉ´ヮ`)ﾉ*: ･ﾟ
I’ll remember to scatter
Ur ashes from a mountain so
You’ll always feel super tall.
Why are we friends
Aisaka slams his hand on the table,and Kuroko’s phone jumps out of his hand. AIsaka scoops in to catch it while it’s in the air.
“Answer this next test, and you’ll get a break,” Aisaka says, and Kuroko finds a sheet of paper with math questions before him.
“Y- Yes… sir.”
Kuroko regrets everything.
“So you’re the Kuroko I’ve been hearing about,” his father looks at the small boy, “you’re smaller than Hiroto.”
Kuroko straightens at that, and Aisaka laughs, swinging an arm around the boys shoulders.
“Uh- Nice to meet you, I’m Kuroko Tetsuya.”
“And much more polite.”
Aisaka Jousuke, unlike his son, had black hair.
Proof that he’s not a main character. He’s got boring hair.
He also stood much taller than the average man. Hiroto would soon inherit that height, but for now and because of his period of not-eating-properly, he stood somewhere slightly below average. Even Aomine was taller than him.
It’s amazing to realize that Kuroko is still shorter. Or maybe he’s just normal and everyone else in this world is weirder. Even last time, Aisaka didn’t break the 150s until he was fifteen or something.
“Don’t eat him,” he says, and Jousuke does a double take.
“I don’t eat children!”
“Yeah, you just grab them and don’t let go.”
“That was a hug!”
They sit around the dinner table, and Kuroko is, once again, surprised. He had been doing a test while it happened, so he isn’t too sure where all this food came from. He feels oddly out of place on the table, as all sleepover dinner were-- but this was just the slightest bit uncomfortable for a different reason.
Aisaka hasn’t taken a seat yet. He makes sure his father got three portions set out before taking his own. He wore an apron that looked unsettlingly good on him. What in the world.
Aisaka could cook. And he’s good at it, dear lord this was the best nikujaga he’s had in his life. How could someone be so great at everything. He’s such a cheat.
“I don’t want to be called a cheat by you of all people, Kuroko,” Aisaka leans over his chair, pointing at the boy with his chopsticks.
“Ah, did I say that out loud?” he wonders rhetorically, then a second later, “I’m not a cheat.”
“Sure you aren’t.”
Beside them, Jousuke smiles at the sight.
Chapter 8: come together and don't give up.
“Are you excited to go to school?”
When his father asks that, Aisaka actually laughs. If he’d been asked that back in the other world, he would’ve rolled his eyes and scowled, saying something sarcastic.
He’s surprised to find his heart telling him to say yes .
Yes, I’m excited to go back to school .
It’s kind of stupid, really.
He jumps, leans back, and lobs the ball in the direction of the net. The mobile hoop in the apartment building’s garden isn’t quite the right height, but it works. He hears the swish as it goes in, and he breathes in the serenity of it.
He feels sonder, loving every bit of the excitement, the disappointment, and the thrill of the game. So long ago these wouldn’t have come to him so easily.
Now it’s different. He’s Aisaka Hiroto now.
And he’ll fulfill that dream this time.
“Ai-kun, you passed the test too? That’s amazing!”
Momoi’s very generous amount of female chest buries into his arm, so Aisaka stills, but doesn’t panic. No adult gets flustered by a barely-thirteen’s bosom, even if he’s physically thirteen now.
“Yep!” Aisaka holds up the letter of acceptance in one hand, a V on the other, “with flying colours. Now I’ll get to play with you on a team!”
Aomine stares dubiously at the letter, as if he can’t believe that one plus one equals one.
“Me, a team with you?” he can’t hold back the excitement in his tone, so he rushes forward and pumps a fist, beaming, “that sounds incredible. We’d never lose!”
Aisaka tries not to beam right back. He fails.
“We can conquer the whole world if wars were fought with basketball!” he boasts, overexcited, “now that we’re a team, we’re unstoppable!”
Momoi nods with an audible hum, still attached to Aisaka’s arm.
There’s a freeze. Then a dry laugh.
“But of course, first, we’ll have to actually get in…” Aisaka realizes, a little embarrassed. He takes a step back a shrinks, “and, y’know, I heard their club’s really big so we’ll have to work our way up to first string…”
In a world as illogical as this one, surely it’s not that easy to break the first string barrier, especially alongside a handful of other complete cheats.
Aomine stares at him like he’s acting like a fool. Aisaka shuffles under the look.
“Don’t be dumb,” he actually says it, knocking Aisaka once over the head with a sharp knock of knuckle against temple. “Of course we’re getting into first string. It’ll be easy for both of us!”
The way Aomine says it makes it seem so simple, it makes his worries seem so trivial and needless.
Aisaka smiles, and somehow, he thinks that maybe it’ll all go well after all.
“You’re not allowed to lose to anyone else, now that I’m with you!” Aisaka grabs Aomine by the wrist, grin toothy, “I’m the only one allowed to beat you!”
Aomine yells loudly, “I’m not going to be beat, not even by you!”
“Oh, wanna go?”
“I sure as hell do!”
Kuroko turns the corner-- and is instantly engulfed by a big mass of indigo.
Aisaka throws his whole weight on the boy, a hug rough and violent and so very warm. Kuroko’s knees buckle and they land painfully on the ground, in a mess of limbs and pained yelps.
“I’m so proud of you!” Aisaka sobs with exaggerated waterworks into the smaller boy’s shoulder, “You actually got through with your absolute shit grades---”
“You’re rude,” Kuroko murmured, “ow.”
Aisaka laughs at that. He clambers up, hand out as an offer to the shorter boy. Kuroko takes it, and Aisaka pulls him to his feet.
“Congratulations, Kuroko!” Aisaka throws his arms around the boy in a hug, “we’ll be going to school together! Oh, we need to tell Ogi about this. C’mon, let’s go to Maji Burger’s! My treat!”
“Calm down…” Kuroko feels himself pulled forward by the wrist as Aisaka leads him through their usual road. He fails to stifle a smile, “I’m really happy. Thank you so much for helping me study, Aisaka-kun.”
Aisaka looks back with a grin like he’s just won the world, and Kuroko’s mirroring it before he even realizes. There was something so honestly beautiful about him-- it makes Kuroko feel warm inside-- it amazes him how Aisaka can live so honestly, and be so happy over something that barely involved himself.
It was precious.
＼（Ｔ∇Ｔ）／ KUROKO PASSED
HE IS A CHILD OF HOPE AND DREAMS
HE CAN TAKE OVER THE WORLD NOW
WOOOOOOOOO ⤴︎ ε=ε=(ง ˃̶͈̀ᗨ˂̶͈́)۶ ⤴︎
GIVE THAT MAN A VANILLA MILKSHAKE
Camera03.jpg View Image
Already on it boss ヾ(･ω･｡)ｼ
Thank you very much, Ogiwara-kun.
“You and Ogiwara-kun have been calling each other ‘Ogi’ and ‘Saka’,” Kuroko mentions, “when did this happen?”
It’s strange to call your friends out for fast food and end up talking to each other on your phones, so Kuroko looks up and actually verbally offers the inquiry.
Aisaka raises an eyebrow at that, “ when , you ask, well… it kinda just did? We were tired of typing up full names all the time, so we just started and it stuck.”
Kuroko blinks as if that doesn’t make sense. He stops drinking his milkshake, and he stares. He stares, and stares, and stares.
Aisaka looks back.
And Kuroko stares even more.
“Okay, okay, I get it!” Aisaka shoots back, waving his arms around in a down boy motion, averting his eyes and bringing his arms up to shield himself from that gaze, “you can call me that too, if you want! I really don’t mind.”
Kuroko’s shoulders ease. There’s a visible sag of relief in his next smile, and he only hopes Aisaka didn’t see it. It’s embarrassing that he’s getting worked up over what they call each other-- wait, is he jealous? Surely not.
“Wait, first names?”
“Count it as part of your congratulatory present for me.”
“You mean the milkshake wasn’t enough?”
“I also want a new book.”
“Is today spoil-you-rotten day?”
Kuroko enjoys this. It’s a humorous, mutually understanding relationship they have. It’s friendship, brotherhood, or maybe it’s something more or something different.
If Ogiwara was an assuring and gentle younger brother, Aisaka was probably a dependable and strict older brother. Ironic, because the truth was the exact opposite.
Aisaka doubles over with laughter. He lifts his hand in a fist, hovering over the center of the table. Kuroko sees it and smiles, raising his own and bumping their knuckles together.
“To become number one in Japan?” Aisaka asks.
“Of course,” Kuroko agrees.