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The Taming of The Generation of Miracles

Chapter Text

 

 

"Checkmate."  The proclamation of victory was uttered nonchalantly.   

Akashi maintained a passive composure as he stared down at the displeasing disposition of the chess pieces in clear disdain. Across the small table, the black haired boy stifled a silent yawn, eyes watering adorably at the corners. Takao's gesture was not of a provocative nature. The teen did not take pride in his triumph over Akashi who was deemed undefeatable nor did he sought to scorn the sullenly defeated. He was simply just. 

Scrupulous eyes viewed the chess board once again. The boy's victory was by no fluke. Takao played intricately tactical maneuvers that betrayed the carefree attitude he often adopted. Akashi could not say the male was a flawless tactician but he had praise for his incredible flexibility. His full court view allowed him to change and adapt to the slightest changes from his opponent. Before long, Akashi found himself cornered, quite literally so.   

"You know, the King isn't always the strongest. In chess, the Queen has full reign and is therefore the most powerful piece."  

The statement had been generally directed at the game, however, the impish smile and glint in his eyes revealed underlying intonations.   

Akashi looked at Takao anew. Involuntarily, his lips quirked upwards. He had truly been done in.   

"That was an enjoyable match. If you would like to join me in another match in the near future, I would not mind entertaining the notion. A game of shogi, perhaps."   

"Anytime, Sei-chan!"    

Chapter Text

By the open window they stood. The night sky was sprinkled with a thousand flickering stars and numerous more, unseen in the far-lying galaxies. Like a luminous pearl, the waxing gibbous moon glowed softly across the dark oceans of space. Ivory light shimmered through the open windows, their figures awash in its pearly radiance.

"To have and to hold from this day forward."

Midorima's soft gaze fell on the black haired man before him, his cheeks caressed by the glowing tendrils of moonlight, illuminating his face with ethereal beauty.

"For better or worse."

Takao's eyes glittered with adoration as he stared up at the man before him through the sheer veil.

"For richer, for poorer."

The taller male lifted the diaphanous fabric of the shimmering veil that shielded the dark haired man's face and swept it to the side.

"In sickness and in health."

They closed the distance between them, lacing their fingers together.

"To love and cherish."

He leaned down, the other reaching up on tiptoes to meet him halfway.

"Till death do us part," they said in unison, sealing their vow with a kiss.

Chapter Text

In the beginning, he couldn't remember his name, didn't bother himself to. The boy was just another insignificant nobody who happened to be in the same team as one of the Generation of Miracles. It meant little how well they played or how skilled they were, that person was still someone Atsushi had minimal to no regard for. At the beginning.

"It's too early for this Muro-chin," he whined, dragging his sloven body towards the court.

"As promised, I brought you the snacks, Atsushi." The black haired beauty presented him with a paper bag full of food, smiling amiably as a mother would to placate a sullen child.

He took the brown bag with a hum of appreciation and immediately opened the first packet he fished out of the bag, crunching the sugar coated confectionery absent-mindedly. Recently, the members of the Generation of Miracles and their respective teammates had taken to hosting such friendly meetings of street ball with increasing frequency. Although, personally, his interest for such boisterous gatherings were next to none, he had attended every single one of them thus far but only due to the fact that either Akashi had specifically requested his presence or Himuro promised to bring a rare snack. His unwilling attendance aside, Atsushi rarely if ever, actively participated in the game or activities held between the schools. That morning was no different and he remained seated in one spot, opening one packet after another. By afternoon however, he had depleted his abundant resources. Growing bored, he contemplated stepping out to get more – and perhaps even, leaving entirely – when the raven haired boy appeared before him.

"Murasakibara, I noticed you were running out of snacks so I got you some." The boy beamed at him, flashing his pearly whites as he held out the bag in offering.

It took him a moment to process the words beyond the initial mute shock of the person's sudden appearance.

"Thank … you." He accepted eventually, slightly weary.

The boy chuckled, sounding like a pleased bird, his silver blue eyes twinkled intelligently. "I'm Takao Kazunari by the way, from Shuutoku. We've never actually spoke even though we have a lot of mutual friends so … it's nice to meet you!"

Before Atsushi could consider forming a reply, a deep voice called out.

"Takao, did you get the oshiruko?" Midorima appeared from his peripheral, a towel around his shoulders he used to wipe up the sweat on his brow.

"Ah, sorry! Shin-chan's calling, I'll talk to you next time!" The boy ran off, waving with smile on his face.

Atsushi thought nothing of their short encounter, choosing instead to peer at the contents in the plastic bag. To his mild surprise, the brands of all his favoured snacks winked up at him in the sunlight. He took one at random, ripping it open with a satisfying pop, allowing the salty scent of seasoned potato chips to waft up into his nostrils. Slumped comfortably on his seat, he waited for the time to pass as he munched on his food. At least, today wasn’t so bad.

The next time it happened, he accepted the gift a little more gladly, a little less suspicious. Atsushi didn't see the need to talk beyond a verbalization of his gratitude for the snacks but Takao clearly did not share his sentiments and unceremoniously plopped himself down right next to him. Expecting the boy to rattle him with questions, Atsushi took a large bite full of food and pointedly looked away. Takao however, proved his expectations wrong when he went off on an account of Aomine and Kagami's recent one-on-one in great detail, narrating their play with the excitement of a five year old. The boy talked ceaselessly without pausing for breath, without waiting for any form of acknowledgement from him. He simply filled the silence with a constant, natural sort of noise and Atsushi found himself relaxing once more onto his seat.

With every gathering, Takao would consistently bring him snacks, sometimes he would stay to chat, always in a one-sided conversation, always laughing at his own jokes, never put off by his silence. As far as Atsushi was concerned, merely listening wasn't the most bothersome activity he could engage in and the raven haired male's presence wasn't the most troublesome. Besides, the time seemed to pass by quicker.

"Atsushi, there's a gathering tomorrow."

An image of Takao's smiling face flashed before his eyes, he wondered what snacks he would bring.

"I'll go."

Himuro glanced up from his phone with a knowing smile and quickly typed out a reply.

It seems he's found a new snack dispenser.

Chapter Text

One would automatically, foolishly assume a certain charismatic blond named Kise Ryouta and an energetic raven haired boy by the name Takao Kazunari would fluidly form an instant familial bond right off the bat due to their similar personalities. Like two long lost brothers.

Unfortunately, one would be inevitably, undeniably erroneous to make such a baseless surmise. The reality of it, contrary to common belief, was that the two aforementioned individuals did not get along. One glance at the other and they knew they were similar, perhaps too alike. Like two peas who reluctantly, begrudgingly shared a pod due to the cruel fate forcefully bestowed upon them.

Kise Ryouta walked through life like a chameleon, never revealing himself, never appearing not to. Emerging through chaos unscathed, with his heart and soul intact. Safely, behind a mask of theatrical caprice. He was a born actor, putting on a show for the world to see was second nature to him, like the act of breathing itself it required no labour, executed on reflex and muscle memory alone. There was nothing grand behind his hidden agenda, no wretched depression, no harrowing trauma. It was simply how he saw the world, how he believed the earth rotated on its axis. To conform to expectations was easier than to exhort individuality.

Perhaps that was the reason he admired Kuroko and Aomine so much. Because they never hid themselves behind facades. Perhaps that was why he did not wish to befriend Takao Kazunari. There was something about the boy that hit too close to home, that dragged his bare soul out under the open sun. And left his raw innards exposed for all and sundry to peruse, as one would with an exotic artefact in a museum. Takao had flashed him a flawless megawatt smile at their first greeting, the same smile Kise carelessly threw in every direction like spare change. In that smile however, he saw a part of himself reflected in aching clarity. The part of himself he despised, and yet could not live without.

They saw a kindred soul in each other, a truth hidden behind a meticulously constructed silken sheet of camp jollity. A truth that did not gravitate them together but instead, repelled them apart, just as how placing two like nodes of magnets together would cause a repulsion. Simple science in everyday life.

It wasn't as though Kise disliked the black haired teen. But he wasn't someone he could easily make a friend of either. A sentiment Takao mutely shared by the respectable distance he kept throughout their first meeting. Of course, no one else suspected a thing. They were both great actors starring in their own comedies. Nothing could be amiss. After all, the show must go on.

 

He lost to Touou. To Aomine. Again. It may had only been a practice match but that did not mean he exerted any less effort in his play. His hands shook, his legs could barely support his weight. The defeat burned him inside out, clawed angrily at his chest, left ugly red welts in his pride. Just as the pressing urge to cry was about to smoulder and devour him whole, a cold can was pressed to his cheek. The shock brought by the icy aluminium to his burning skin was enough to chase away the greedy, consuming monster brooding inside him.

"Shin-chan said your lucky item of the day is a can of pineapple juice."

Kise knew of only one person in the world who would use that ridiculous sobriquet. The boy standing before him wore no smile. His expression blank, belying his usual easy-going charm and juvenile but disarming sense of humour. The silver irises that bore into him however, spoke volumes. It reminded Kise why he couldn't get along with this person.

Takao's eyes could reveal the nugget of sorrow that happiness contained, they could point out the hidden fish of shame in a sea of glory. They turned his solid mask opaque, leaving him raw and exposed, vulnerable.

He turned away, unable to meet those eyes.

"I hope you pick yourself back up by tomorrow. We have a practice match if you haven't forgotten."

The statement caught him off guard. Their gazes meet, Takao held him there. His eyes bright and unwavering. Certain in their glaring clarity. Something clicked in his mind. And the world fell back into place.

Kise didn't want pity. Despised it. Nor did he want encouragement. Pretty laced words held no value. He wanted to be strong enough to stand on his own two feet, without help. Without relying on others.

"I don't want a victory that doesn't count." The boy continued.

His words are harsh because he knows. He knows. He's a sore loser. They both are. And for once, the shared attribute brings cooling comfort instead of burning shame.

"Well, you'll definitely be needing this more than me then." Kise raises himself onto his feet, now sure and steady, returning the can of pineapple juice to the shorter teen.

Takao looks down at the item in his hand and smiles, coyly acknowledging his sarcasm.

Chapter Text

He never realised it at first, preoccupied as he was with the game and the adrenaline pumping through his veins. He never saw it at first, busy as he was attempting to pass to his teammates from blind spots that apparently were accounted for in his field of view. He never noticed it at first, because he hadn’t gotten over the initial surprise of being perceived first.

It was only after, when the timer counted down to zero and the shrill whistle blew, slicing sharply through the palpable tension on the court. It was after they bowed and said their formalities. After the line dispersed and each one walked at their own pace. It was when he was drowning and was swept away by the collective mayhem of everyone around him that he discovered the source of the prickling sensation that rose the hair on the back of his neck the way charged static did. Looking back, it was simply the most ordinary phenomenon on earth. Though it may not have been an entirely major occurrence, it was however, a completely foreign experience for Kuroko Tetsuya. One which left him as baffled as one would with a silly conundrum whose answer was glaring at him blatantly in the eye. Kuroko turned around and for the first time, looked into the pair of blue silvery tinted irises and gleaming black pupils that were trained directly on him with an intensity worthy of his namesake, like predator eyes on prey.

Despite the constant traffic of milling humans between them, not once did Takao’s gaze waver. He did not look through Kuroko as though he was as intangible as a gust of wind in the midst of a storm. He looked at him, in the eye, and saw him, in a way nobody had ever before. Their first meeting unfortunately, was full of fleeting intentions that were over in the blink of an eye. The feeling of being watched however, never quite left him. Perhaps, Kuroko thought, he was simply too self-conscious.

Kuroko soon discovered that the hawk eye of Shuutoku High indeed had his sharp sight set upon him during their next encounter. A curious revelation it was. In those untamed but intelligent eyes, Kuroko appeared as a solid form in a sea of people. And try as he might, he found he was incapable of hiding in the umbra to escape that gaze.

The third glance found him, no, it trapped him as he was turning from the attention of one person to another. Kuroko saw and was inexplicably drawn to the silver speckles in those bright irises; it was the glisten of the sun sparkling on the clear water’s surface. Enough to reveal its obscure depths but not enough to unveil its mysteries. One thing he came to comprehend though, was that Takao saw him as a worthy rival to be wary of.

Sometimes Kuroko wondered if Takao knew. Knew that although he was inured to his universal treatment as a phantom, accepted it and used it to his benefit, it wasn’t something he liked nor wished for. As advantageous and amusing as it was in certain occasions. Kuroko was simply used to it just as one would become accustomed to a packed train during rush hour with passengers, strangers pressing in from all directions and occasionally having one’s foot stepped upon by neglectful misfortune. It would always be uncomfortable, but bearable.

 

Perhaps, he was the first to notice, even before Midorima himself. Under the balmy sun, in the oscitant atmosphere where everyone was relaxing after a vigorous joint training, Kuroko watched Shuutoku’s rumoured light and shadow pair. They sat, snug and slightly apart from the large group, conversing in soft tones heard only in close proximity, seemingly in a mellow world of their own. Then, Takao smiled, not the blindingly dazzling smile that put the stars to shame but a gentle curve of soft lips, reminiscent of the tender glow of the moon. It lasted for a fraction of a moment, the youth had caught him staring. The raven haired male placed a finger to his lips in a sign of which he knew well. Kuroko saw how the polished glean in Takao’s eyes sharpen. And for some reason that must be lunacy and stupidity or even reckless abandonment of one’s better judgement and rationale, Kuroko wanted that gaze all to himself. And him only, be it on or off the court. But even if he could steal those eyes for himself, that angel soft smile was reserved for someone else.

 

In the oppressive tension of an official match, they shook hands before the game commenced.

“Eyes on me,” Kuroko stated bluntly.

Takao blinked once, then twice, before a smile spread like sweet melted strawberry jam over his handsome features. A smile that said more than any words ever could, and that was all he needed.

Chapter Text

“I have no wish I want granted.”Master of Archer

“My wish was granted the moment you summoned me.”Servant Archer

 

When the sun descended and the night held reign, their war began.

On one side stood a silver knight whose form was wrapped entirely by impenetrable armour, and he leapt forth with the fierce battle cry of a vicious lion. The knight’s stomp shook the very earth, and the speed of the charge pierced through the sound barrier. The spectacle was as stunning and cataclysmic as a shooting star hurtling towards Earth. However, while the ruthless knight was not of this world, its opponent was also an existence that surpassed the limitations of mortals, a monster prancing around in the imitation of man.

The opposition was a tall man surrounded by an unusual air. He wore no armour, but a navy mantle woven of rich fibres and dark robes that reached his ankles. The man wielded a great staff of ebony. Surely with his adversary clad in metal, this man stood no chance. But that was far from the truth for he was not only a great sage, but a knight in his own right. He showed no signs of struggle, in his smile was only the thrill of joy at facing a powerful enemy.

In the first place, neither of them were supposed to exist in this day and age. They were the corporeal forms of extraordinary human beings who had left their names in history and made legends. Heroes, whose names did not disappear even after death but continued to live on in the hearts of people, they were known as Heroic Spirits. And they were the spiritual duplicates of such – Servants, who materialized in this world to serve in this war.

Between the clash of sword and magic, the destruction wrought upon the land by their impact was devastating, incinerating plant life and obliterating manmade structures. Truly, they were champions of legend. They thundered, as the stuff of demons, monsters who slaughtered foes and pierced fiends in the gilded name of heroes as they raced across the fields of warfare.

Through the course of the sacred battle between the Heroic Spirit of the Sword, Saber, and the Heroic Spirit of Spells and Sorcery, Castor, he watched from a distance. Atop a building a mile away with the aid of magic that enhanced his eyesight so as to allow his discreet observation. Not the impossible fight between the Servants, but of their Masters who stood a ways off. The fearsome Akashi Seijurou and the imposing Midorima Shintarou were locked in a vicious duel of their own.

Seven Servants and seven Masters, for the sake of their own burning desires, clashed in a battle royal until only one was left standing. Their death match was written in no texts, recorded on no images, existing not even in the minds of the people. However, it was the indisputable truth that a terrible war took place in their town, the Holy Grail War. A relic with the ability to grant any and all wishes served as a torch with which to draw the months into the killing.

The Masters, those who possessed the holy mark of a Command Spell, were mainly magi selected from the long line of reputable families who practiced thaumaturgy and magic. It enabled them to summon Servants and functioned as the crystallisation of their authority over the wilful Heroic Spirits they had summoned. The descendants of the old magical families were born and bred for this clandestine war.

Amongst those talented and fearsome magi, he had no place. A mere boy of fifteen who had up till that point, led a carefree life. The very act of summoning a Servant was a complete accident. In the dark library, the parchment containing fragmented truths regarding the Holy Grail and a paper cut, that was all he needed. Laughable. A commoner with a bit of magic, a weak third-rate magus. Even his childhood friend, Shin-chan, scorned him and vehemently refused to be associated with him.

“It’s not safe here.” A deep baritone said next to his ear.

The voice belonged to a tall man whose cloaked head hid his identity. But that was the only part of him shrouded in mystery for he wore a fitting armour crafted from a special pliable material, showing off his muscular form and left nothing to the imagination. His servant, Archer.

Commonly, holy relics were used as a catalyst in summoning a specific hero. Strictly speaking, a catalyst was not absolutely necessary. While summoning a Servant without a catalyst, a Heroic Spirit would be chosen not based on the magus’s power, but through affinity. Most magi, to ensure they summoned a most advantageous hero, wasted no effort in their acquiring of desirable catalysts.

In this hallowed war, he was an anomaly, as was his Servant. His Archer wasn’t randomly summoned according to the selection of the grail, unknowingly, Kazunari possessed in his person, the most unlikely of catalysts. The item which tied them together was his right earring. One which would eventually fall into the hands of Midorima Shintarou. His Servant was not of the past, but of time that lay ahead.

“Come, it’s late. We should return,” the mysterious man by his side urged.

“Alright. But can we stop by the convenience store to get some potato chips first?”

Strange things happen in life. Kazunari allowed himself to be held by the man who would – had, in the future – murder him. A grieving man who claimed to mourn over his death every single day. A broken man who apologised profusely for dying his hands with Kazunari’s very blood. It was difficult to wrap his head around. In the first place, Archer did not entirely resemble the Midorima he knew of in appearance. The man was taller, his features more sharp and mature, the shade of his hair more jaded than vivid. However, when Kazunari gazed into his emerald orbs, he knew. Kazunari was a prisoner to those eyes. Towards the man’s gentle gestures, passionate kisses and sweet whispers, he was easy, willing prey.

At the beginning, they easily reached a consensus to lay low. No one would suspect Kazunari was the seventh Master and the art of concealing his Command Spells was too simple a matter not to successfully pull off. Archer would appear occasionally as an observer, but always remain hooded to hide his identity. This way, they could live normally, or so he naively thought.

“I wished for nothing more than to hold you in my arms. But to maintain this wish, I must fight. I will win this war for you.”

Kazunari had his own conflicting sentiments but chose not to divulge them. The nagging voice at the back of his head constantly cautioned him, Midorima was keeping something from him. However, Kazunari had entrusted his life to the man who he knew, the Midorima who smiled kindly, who caressed his cheeks softly as though he was made of porcelain, beautiful and ever so fragile.

Even so, he had his fears, still. Dreams, nightmares that refused to go away and instead haunted him with a vengeance. The Midorima by his side always looked at the Midorima of this world with a certain animosity. A look of such hatred, it left Kazunari sick to the stomach. Kazunari loved him, loved them both for they were one and the same. The Midorima who he used to play with as children. The Midorima from a time he doesn’t know. Melting into his painfully sweet gestures, Kazunari often felt of though he was betraying the Midorima of this timeline. He knew it wasn’t love. It was something akin to attachment or lust. He never had the luxury of desires or hopes, because he had no right to.

No Servant or Master had fallen as of yet. Each posed a great threat in their own right. They would have to be extra wary of the joint alliance between Assassin and Rider, whose Masters were Kuroko and Kise respectively. So far, Kazunari had managed to slip out of Akashi’s radar but he knew for a fact Kuroko could be terrifyingly observant. Kazunari wondered how much longer he could hide in the umbra.

What would the conclusion for this formidable, bloody war be?

 

“I have no wish I want granted … I can’t have desires or hopes because I can never obtain them.”

“My wish was granted the moment you summoned me … because you are precious beyond words.”

Chapter Text

The curtains had been drawn to a conclusion of the war. But there, his story had only just begun.

It was pouring steadily, night rain, that lonely drummer practicing his roll long after the rest of the band had gone to bed. He knelt on the muddy grass, disregarding the growing stain on his trousers and the chill that had seeped into his very bones. He knelt on the wet ground, next to the lifeless body and watched as the red bled uselessly into the soil. His face was neither lifted towards the rain nor bent away from it. He neither welcomed it nor warded it off. The darkness of the surrounding vicinity had grown dense, glutinous, and gorged itself on every single morsel of light, hope and faith, until naught was left. Naught but an aching cavity.

A primitive being inside of him withdrew from his body and hovered high above, observing the surrounding scene in quiet contemplation as his sudden, impossibly wise mind jabbered pointless warnings, like the screech of a fire alarm on deaf ears.

He felt no remorse, only an empty numbness. He harboured no regrets, at that time.

Those left alive after the war mourned the dead. Those left alive after the war nursed wounds that even time could not hope to heal. Those who were left alive after the war drifted apart, cradling their grief in the comfort that only solitude could provide. Those fortunate souls who survived the war yearned for abyss’s liberation. However, they had regrettably earned the gracious pardon of death.

The six emerged, victors with the knowledge to summon the Greater Grail, the true device that possessed the all-power to grant wishes. They believed that the capabilities of the Grail were omnipotent. And there they paid the price for their foolhardy scheme. In blood, and in lives that were not theirs to spend.

They emerged, six champions with souls that were cursed.

Their war had ended years ago, lost in the memories of time. Their lifespans exceeded those of the mortal world. Yet still, the Holy Grail War had persisted, despite the devastation, despite the corrupted nature of it. So long as the Greater Grail existed, there were those who were thoughtless and greedy enough to pursue it.  The true format of the ritual was simply too excellent and craftily hidden. One that Shintarou too, had once misconceived.

 

In a country poised forever between the terror of war and the horror of peace, was where he could be found. It was to do with the land and the prana it stored, and the vast amount of energy required for his study. If there was one thing Akashi was grateful for, it was the fact that his long-time friend, Midorima Shintarou, had not digressed entirely to be a complete recluse, despite the man’s off putting nature which suggested otherwise. Though, he believed, were it not for the nature of his practice, or if it so required, Shintarou would not hesitate to travel to the very edge of the living world.

Akashi knocked on the faded door of the imposing mansion he stood before. Nestled in the solitude of the woods but not distant from civilisation, the entire structure served as the aforementioned man’s workshop. The door opened a crack, he was greeted not by his companion’s tall stature but of a young boy with an equally familiar face. Though, it was one that should not exist at this time and age.

“Good evening, Takao. I see you are faring better than I last saw you.”

“H-hello,” the raven haired male answered, blinking up at him with large, innocent eyes.

“Where is Shintarou?”

“I’m sorry but Shin-chan isn’t taking any visitors.” The boy looked at him without recognition, eyebrows drawn together in puzzlement.

Ah. I see.

“Takao, it’s fine. Let him in.” At last, the one Akashi sought after came into view.

“Shintarou, pardon my unprecedented visit but I want to personally check on the progress of my order.”

Shintarou sighed, a deep exhale of exasperation at his impatience perhaps.

“It’s almost done. I had planned to send it over in a day or two.”

“Very well.”

“Is that all?”

“Why, is there no time for a chat with an old friend that you have not seen in months?” Akashi mocked in jest.

“I’m busy.”

Akashi glanced at the young male standing by his tall companion’s side, who stared at him back with open curiosity. His eyes sparkled as precious aquamarine gems would, and they shone with a bright innocence and purity. It was a face that belonged to the long list of those Akashi knew were dead. The boy caught his eyes and beamed charmingly with a smile he could only describe as angelic.

“How long did the previous one last?”

“Seven years.”

Consumption came with the act of creation. It took special measures to create homunculi. A homunculus; that was what the boy was. A creature given birth through thaumatology. The alchemy formulas used to create life were complex and flawed. Homunculi were not capable of sustaining long lives, and yet, that was the very essence of Shintarou’s practice. To create a perfect replica of life.

“I see. As always, if you are in need of assistance I would be glad to provide it.”

“I can manage on my own.” Before old wounds could be reopened, Shintarou closed the lid on the bubbling pot of words best left unspoken. “There’s nothing to worry over. I’m fine.”

“I apologise. I understand.”

The sigh that escaped his lips expressed more than his words ever could.

“No, you don’t.”

There was poignant silence. Perhaps, in the past Akashi would have found such a statement offensive and a challenge to his nature and knowledge. But the curse, and gift, of time had curious effects on the mind.

“You’re right.”

There were still things even he could not comprehend, as knowledgeable as Akashi was. Shintarou’s obsession, his laments. The storm in his mind was his alone to decipher. He did not blame Akashi for the irreversible past. Although it was his suggestion, his idea, it was Shintarou who willingly executed the plan. The fault lay on himself. If the world was fair, his deeds would have warrant the worst penance. Nothing could right his past. Nothing could pay the debt of the blood he spilled. The death of Takao Kazunari was his burden, his weight in shackles of his own design to carry. His solitary lament to someone whom he should have held precious.

The earth would not take them. Denied them of the reunion in dust and bone. That was their reward. The Grail was never capable of granting true miracles, it could only realize a will.

The true purpose for his continued creation of homunculi in the splitting image of Takao Kazunari, he knew not of. To see his endearing smile that held the power to light up the room? Perhaps, to beg for forgiveness for his deceit and murder? Or even to profess his painful love? To hold close the one person he should have cherished above all? To give him a life he could not have? Egocentric reasons. Self-righteous excuses. The homunculi he created thus far were all failures, a testament to his impure objectives. But Shintarou could never bring himself to stop.

They were made in the image of Takao, with the memories of Takao – cinematic data Shintarou had managed to collect from his blood by no easy means. However, they always differed, in appearance, in personality. He remembered the first homunculus, when he was ignorant and inadequate, the homunculus had stared at him with pale, emotionless eyes. The psychological impact of that moment stunned him with the force of a violent earthquake.

The concept of age was meaningless to homunculi. From the moment of birth, knowledge had been uploaded to their central cores. Shintarou gave each one the same memories, the same information and a will of their own. As a boy, Takao was obstreperous and bright. Then, he watched them grow. Alas, they were never quite the same in demeanour despite his effort of maintaining the purity of Takao’s memories.

In the end, all of it amounted to nothing, for however perfect a replica he could create, homunculi had one fatal flaw. Made through artificial means and alchemy, they paid the price of their unnatural existence with their short lives. Extending their lifespans was Shintarou’s most challenging goal. Better materials, improved formulas, complex magic circuits, larger consumption of prana. Again and again he tried. To create the perfect Takao.

“Shin-chan! Dinner’s served!” Takao called to him.

The boy peered through the open door, beaming up at him with a smile that stole his breath away. It was so similar to the one he knew and loved. So close. Except for one detail.

“What’s for dinner?”

“Chinese take-out.”

This Takao was wilful, so wilful he refused to cook.

Chapter Text

The most ancient and natural grounds of disputes stemmed from desire. Avarice, lust, honour, and such were simply the collateral branches of man’s pride. At the core of the divided roots was the issue of want, of greed in its purest form. A great yearning for things out of reach, and the subsequent madness that drove one to attain it. It was the very flaw of human nature, the raw hunger that the Grail used, and dangled mockingly in front of their eyes that for which they sought most. One cunning that he had fallen prey to hook, line and sinker. A folly he never forgave himself for. A mistake he learned and equipped himself with so as to ensure he would be all the wiser in the future.

However, as meticulously as he swept away the remains of his error, the glass vase was broken and he could never hope to piece it back to its original form. Nothing could bring back a life lost. No price or bargain he could strike worthy enough for the profound value of a soul. It may had been the blade of Midorima Shintarou that Takao Kazunari fell victim to, but it was at his suggestion. It was he who inveigled the man to commit such an act. Taking a life, without dirtying his own hands made him all the more vindictive. The bounty for destroying two lives lay on his head.

The blame could have been placed upon the Grail. Upon the war that ripped asunder that which was humane and replaced it with cold, hard calculations. Killing the master was easier, consumed less resources, and swifter to deal with. People died, even servants died. Things such as good people getting caught up in something unreasonable and meeting a tragic end were everyday occurrences.  Young and trusting, naïve he had believed – Takao, the lonely boy who sought friendship and camaraderie could effortlessly be lured into a well devised trap. However, a belated realization that came years later, Seijuurou came to understand Takao was not of the Pollyanna attitude of the unthinking, rather, he possessed such a fierce belief that he would willingly walk unguarded into a dungeon knowing it was a ploy.

Bygones, nevertheless, were simply that – things, events of the irreversible time before. The past could not be altered, their deeds could not be undone. The life of Takao Kazunari, who he failed to value, was dead.

If only, he remained dead.

A curiosity it was, how sometimes the memory of death lived on for far longer than the memory of the life it purloined from. As the memory of life faded, the lost grew robust. It was ever present, an almost taunting phantasm. Takao, but not quite Takao, existed in his future. A homunculus to be precise, fashioned in the spitting image of the boy who lost his life in the war so many years ago. With a smattering of its predecessor’s memory, their initial resemblance conjured up slumbering reminiscence and unwanted contrition much past their expiry date.

Lacking intimate knowledge – and general interest – of the black haired boy apart from his status as a master while he walked amongst the living, Seijuurou had not seen the many disparities that fuelled Midorima’s woes. It was only he who knew of the sort of person Takao was long before the onset of the war. But even a fool could tell, after recovering from the mute stun of appearances, that that was a thing which lacked a soul. Seijuurou viewed it as little more than a puppet, a mere imitation. He accepted and played along with Midorima’s farce, thinking nothing of it. In life, though, no matter the years, the score of knowledge, and the wisdom of age, there was without a doubt, always something new to learn. To be surprised by. To be confounded by.

He watched the puppet, the ageless boy change, not in the figurative but of the literal sense. Homunculi, beings that existed outside of the natural order of the universe, however great or magnificently made, possessed transient lives. It was the very price of their artificial existence. And so he observed, year by year, one after the other, the puppet, the ageless boy who became increasingly human.

Until that very point. That pivotal moment. He came only to check on Midorima but there, found a boy he never took notice of.

“Why, is there no time for a chat with a friend you have not seen in months?” He mocked, amused.

“I’m busy.”

The very subject of Midorima’s work stood next to the tall man. It was at first, the eyes that drew him in, like a shimmering lake under the gentle sun, and then, it was the smile that captured his heart. Surely, he thought, there had to be more than a few measly months of memories ensnared within the raven haired boy’s smile, because it was such a beautiful smile. Before Seijuurou could make anything of it, he took his leave.

“I apologise. I understand.”

“No, you don’t,” Midorima had refuted in a heartbeat.

Seijuurou found he could not disagree. He left the large, lonely mansion, pondering without comprehending Midorima’s grief and laments.

The process was gradual, it snuck upon him without his knowledge, outside his peripheral, curling itself around him, and by the time he registered its presence, it had already burrowed deep into his conscience. His visits to Midorima’s workshop grew in frequency over the months. Without solid reason, or for the most trifling excuses he would take the path down the gloomy, barren trail to the ivy covered house.

As the homunculus grew, Seijuurou was present and occasionally involved, teaching him subjects he was well-versed in. Although the boy’s intelligence was to be expected of due to his excellent magical circuits, Takao’s sapience evolved to an extent even outside of Midorima’s calculations. In many ways, he resembled the genuine Takao, in many ways, he was his own person. There was the lucid behaviour and wilfulness befitting a fifteen year old. But there was also an insight on other’s expectations of him – especially that of Midorima’s – that transcended his base logic frame. There were times he responded exactly as Takao would have. There were also times he exuded a certain individuality.

But through careful observation, Seijuurou found the similarities were simply performances. There was a fraction of a second of difference between an honest reply and a calculated reply. They were acts, so diligently constructed, and assiduous in details. Certainly, it was an abnormality even Midorima had noticed.

“He can’t be who you want him to be,” Seijuurou said, one day.

The wilful flare, the distinct intelligence, the kind consideration, they were traits that translated into an individual personality. A soul, unique and independent.

“I know.”

“Even if you are his creator, he is alive. He should be free to live the way he wants.”

“What does it matter to you?”

The question brought his line of thought to a sudden halt, as though someone had pulled the emergency brakes on the bullet train. Why indeed? When had he begun to consider the puppet as an individual? When had the boy become something of his concern? It was an inquiry Seijuurou himself held no answer to, thus he excused himself.

He found the source of his troubles sitting idle on the couch by the hearth, a heavy leather bound book upon his lap. Its title read, ‘A History on the Trojan Wars’.

“Oh, would you like some tea? Or are you taking your leave?” Ever amiable, the boy inquired.

“I’d be glad of some tea.”

Seijuurou took a seat, the very spot the boy had occupied before he left for the kitchen, brewing Earl Grey no doubt, for the boy was fastidious in such things, noting his favoured type of beverage by his third visit. Before long, Takao returned, holding a tray laden with biscuits and a steaming pot of tea. He uttered a polite gratitude as the drink was poured and served along with the titbits.

Comfortable silence, they settled into once all was done and well. The imposing grandfather clock ticked, the only sound in the room apart from the occasional rustle of paper as Takao turned the pages of his book.

“I do not understand the reasoning behind Shintarou’s actions,” he stated aloud his inner monologue, half an accident, half a curiosity to delve into the boy’s thoughts.

“The same reason you keep coming here.”

It took him back, the answer, the unwavering amber eyes, the certainty in voice as the words were articulated. For all his years of amassing information, intelligence and knowledge, he was shamed by the simplicity of this youth.

The seed of interest he had sown the moment Seijuurou was dazzled by the homunculus’s winsome smile had bloomed into a beautiful flower of affection. He held a certain fondness for the boy whose curiosity sparkled in his wide, innocent but clever eyes. Attachment, infatuation – those were peculiar things. Cunning, he would call it. A beauty, Takao was, in a way exquisite to the perfection of a homunculus. Takao was bright, confounding despite his youth. Takao was inquisitive, and perhaps adventurous. Takao was eager to learn, to explore, but he was also shackled by the duty of playing as Takao for his master. He was like a caged bird who sang of the sky without knowing its vastness, the infinity of it. And Seijuurou, more than anything, wanted to be the one to set him free. To unlock his cage, and to be the hand that would guide him on his first flight.

It did not take long for him to act on his revelations. It would be shameful had he not. It did not take much to persuade Midorima either, mayhap, the tall man had already known from the beginning that this boy was not meant to be his, or, for simpler reasons, he wanted Takao to be happy.

Thereby, Seijuurou lead Kazunari away from his birthplace, the only place he knew of and showed him the vast landscape of the world. He was his guardian, his mentor, his companion, and his loved one, for Kazunari had long fallen for his intellectual charm. They had much to do, to see, to experience. Kazunari, like a little sun of his own by his side, cast rays of joy into his life. Seijuurou saw the once dull world through a different light and found beauty in it.

Every second of everyday was precious and treasured. Homunculi, wondrous beings given life through formula and magic, beautiful in appearance, brilliant in mind, were perfect. They were the epitome of an ideal magus. But with perfection came a heavy price. Homunculi were cursed with the shortest lifespans. Seijuurou could guess, Kazunari only had a few, short years left in his carefully constructed body. A time too fleeting to enjoy everything the world had to offer, but Kazunari thought otherwise.

It had been three years since they began travelling together. Often they returned to Seijuurou’s mansion for respite, and it was on one such afternoon, the raven haired youth on his lap, lethargic and content as Seijuurou stroked his silky hair when he ventured to voice his concerns regarding Kazunari’s limited time on earth. Kazunari, naturally, had his own opinions.

“Like this, I have no regrets. Thank you.”

He smiled, that charming curve of smooth lips that could disarm his cautious heart.

Here, Seijuurou finally understood, it was always harder to be left behind, than to be the one to go.

Chapter Text

It happened on a sultry evening in early June, a very interesting incident with a tinge of dramatic. At that time, he was fresh out of police school, without a title to call his own. In his first week on the force, Daiki was charged with an arduous task, one that carried great importance for the reputation of the Second Investigation Division. It was related to the recent insoluble homicide case. There was no oversight by the police, and the witnesses’ testimonies were sound, yet not a scrap of clue had been left behind. Even the motive of the cruel murder was lost in the tumbling sea of inexplicable questions.

The methods of the perpetrator were truly ingenious, with a touch of spectral about it. For weeks they couldn’t found any new leads, it was a perplexing case even the famed ‘greatest detective of our time’, Sir. X, was baffled by.

Yet, Aomine Daiki, rookie Law Enforcer was entrusted with the duty of collecting information that could potentially crack the case. It was as though a golden egg had conveniently fallen out of the sky and into his hands to help kick start his career with. If everything played out smoothly, he’d be recognized as someone who played an essential role in his first big case.

Yet, Aomine Daiki, rookie Law Enforcer simply wished he could trash the idiots back at headquarters for putting on that solemn show when they saddled him with that impossible job.

“We’re counting on you Daiki.”

“The fate of this case rests in your hands!”

And there he found himself, during the hottest time of the day, in summer no less, waiting in a long queue for CHEESE TARTS from a famous confectionary shop in Ikebukuro. Standing in line with the sun glaring over his head, giggly high school girls left, right, front and back, on the receiving end of curious glances, Daiki could only curse his misfortune. Daiki stood with his back straight, sweating buckets under his stiff uniform, and forced on an air of grim importance to salvage whatever little dignity he had left in such a predicament.  

Why am I here?

Apparently, it was a condition set by the information broker whom he was supposed to deliver the tarts to. For Christ sake, wasn’t this the twenty-first century where they could order these things online? Daiki ground his teeth, trying in vain to remain calm as he waited for his turn.

It took him an hour, the slowest, most agonizing hour of his life. And that wasn’t the end of it.

He had to take the train, which on a godforsaken weekend, was packed tight like a sardine can of perspiring bodies marinated with the foul stench of sweat, all the way to Roppongi, a good half hour away from Ikebukuro.

At long last, close to his wits –and temper’s – end, he arrived. Daiki squinted his eyes up at the posh fifty storey high-end apartment building fully equipped with sliding glass doors and a security check. After taking the lift up to the thirty-third floor, he reached his final destination, glaring at the door of room three-zero-six. There was a signboard on the door that spelled out a row of mystifying English words.

‘It’s the only NEET thing to do.’

By then, his mind had already gone numb after the events he had to endure since morning. Daiki pressed on the electric bell, the side camera flashed blue and the door clicked open. It all happened in under a second; its swiftness startled him. Cautiously, he pushed the door open to reveal a dimly lit corridor. The door closed behind him the moment he entered, lock clicking back into place. He glanced back and saw various mechanism attached to the back of the door. The curiously out of place tech made him wonder just what sort of lazy hikkikomori installed an automated door lock.

Speaking of which, the guy was probably an ugly fatso who couldn’t face life head on and choose to lock themselves indoors, away from the society they were rejected by. They must have thrived off some weird satisfaction from making him run ridiculous errands.

There was one thing Daiki was thankful for though. The air conditioning was going strong, the temperature low enough to cause a shiver to run down his spine, but it was a welcomed sensation after his afternoon date with the blazing hot sun.

Carefully, Daiki thread through the dark hall, surprised the place was cleaner than he expected, with a mild tinge of fresh blossoms in the air. When he finally arrived at what he assumed was the living room, Daiki had to pause and took a step back to view the room better. Two thirds of the space was filled with unknown machines, liquid plasma monitors and electric cables. The wall to his right was lined with bookshelves that reached towards the ceiling, but even that, was not enough, for the books spilled out of the shelves and were stacked up precariously high like a mountain. The only space left – the floor in the middle of the room – was a large bed, like an island floating in some eccentric cyberspace.

As though he was buried softly in plushies, the silhouette clad in loose pyjamas turned around. He looked like a doll, a child of the ages between eleven and thirteen, Daiki surmised. The boy had a small face, a pair of unnaturally coloured eyes, unbelievably white skin, thin limbs, and sleek, ebony hair. He was sporting a pale green pyjama top littered with cartoon frog prints on it. He wore similarly coloured shorts and white thigh-high stockings. Completely out of his initial assumptions, Daiki stared at the child with open curiosity.

“What are you standing there for? Are you pretending to be a statue? Well, you certainly aren’t convincing anyone.” The child giggled, his silvery voice laced with mirth.

“I’m not! … You … are you the informant ‘Nameless’?”

“Well, I can certainly understand why you’re nicknamed Ahomine. Do you see anyone else in this room?”

“Brat! Don’t joke with me.”

“The question of your IQ aside, I’m sure you can make yourself useful by reheating those cheese tarts in the oven. Assuming you can figure out how to use an oven, Aomine-san.” The black haired child smiled sweetly, metallic blue eyes glinting like a cat’s, full of mischief.

Silently grumbling to himself, he stalked to the kitchen. It only occurred to him as he was slamming the oven door close, and rushed back to the room. Daiki recalled, his Section Head had not informed the broker as to whom would be going to collect the information and therefore made a grandeur gesture of delegating the task to Daiki.

“How do you know my name?” He voiced the question as he would in an interrogation.

“Aomine Daiki, age twenty-two, male, with a height of 192 centimetres and weighting 85 kilograms. Plays basketball as a power forward, graduated from Touou High ….” He spoke fluently of all his personal information, current address, phone number, educational background and family background.

Daiki could only stare, his body confined by speechlessness. The shock eventually wore off and gave way to suspicion.

“I was informed a rookie would be coming, so I just did a little investigation. There is so much information stored in headquarters’ database, yet it lacks a great deal of protective measures. You should tell the Head of Department to work a little harder on that.”

“You … lil’ brat. You’re a hacker! And that’s an infringement of the law.”

Merrily, Nameless laughed, hugging a green stuffed rabbit – that wore spectacles and a cute frown – to his chest.

“Aren’t you a naïve one? I may be young but-“ There, his honeyed voice spoke eloquently, “even I know the world is full of deceit. Or have you already forgotten your purpose for coming here?”

“I haven’t! They probably don’t …. or they ...” His words died faltered as realisation dawned on him, the waves of a crashing tide carrying away his denies. The predicament he found himself a victim to was obviously a setup, his superiors seemed familiar with Nameless’s nature. Likely, they had dealt with him on several occasions.

“Do you finally understand Aomine-san? A truly undetectable crime should be impossible. In the case of a practical problem, theoretically speaking, there’s no such thing as a crime a detective can’t solve. It’s just that there’s no detective on the police force great enough to solve it.”

Unable to fully grasp the meaning behind the boy’s words, Daiki clung to the framework of his professional training as he formed a reply.

“Just what are you trying to imply?”

Shaking his head from side to side, Nameless’s parted lips were smiling over some secret of their own.

“You really can’t teach a dog how to climb a tree.”

“Hey! Who are you calling a dog!?”

“Ahaha, I never once mentioned you but if you admit that your intelligence is equivalent to that of a foolish animal then I shan’t deny your claim.” Nameless hugged his knees to his chest, he innocently cocked his head to the side and looked at Daiki as though he was looking at an idiot.

“Don’t test my patience, brat.”

“You probably think I’m just a hikkikomori who’s overly reliant on the internet.”

“You obviously are. Not just that, but a NEET to boot.” He pointed out in a scalding tone.

“The term NEET refers to neither ‘useless people’ nor ‘lazy people’. The only difference lies in the rules. While everybody uses the board to play checkers, we play chess instead.”

“No matter how many metaphors you use, the fact that you’re in the way is the main point.”

“I suppose it would seem that way to those who just want to blindly rush ahead. I understand that society wishes to group us together and label us; flinging us out into the rubbish dump. I also understand they wish to point and laugh at us mockingly to feed their own despairing egos’. Let them laugh all they want. No matter how you argue it, the fact that we are a negative influence on society at large is undeniable.”

The words that left his cherry lips were protected with the barb wire of rebarbative prose, prickly with forbidding jargon and headache inducing abstraction. There was no all-encompassing reason why some people remained jobless or failed to attend school. Daiki had never thought deeply about it, and assumed the usual vacuous conclusion. Now, he strained to discover something from among the senseless jumble of irresponsible statements. It was the way Nameless stared at him as he spoke; his pale eyes did not belong to a child, but someone who had seen a page in God’s notebook and knew of things of terrible things, things he could never tell a soul.

“No need to strain that shrivelled up brain of yours,” Nameless sing-songed.

“You just.” Daiki felt the anger creep into his voice and paused to breathe deeply. “If you admit all that, why are you still a hikkiNEET?”

This time, his smile was not of sarcasm or mock – but one that was comparable to the rays of sunlight on a freezing day of winter. Before Daiki could utter a word though, the ‘ping’ of the oven’s timer went off, dispelling the delicate haze which had wrapped their silken tendrils around his mind.

“Ah! The cheese tarts are ready! What are you waiting for? Go get them!”

“Tsk, can’t you get them yourself? Damn brat.”

Daiki muttered to himself but left without much resistance. He found Nameless a rather overwhelming enigma. He needed time to digest the rush of events and conversations that day that had lead him to that specific point.

Eventually, he returned to the room with the cheese tarts and placed the china plate onto the first clear surface he found on the cluttered table. Silently, Nameless stared at it, blinking.

“What now?”

“Honestly, how do you expect me to eat this? With my hands? And get them all dirty?”

“Wha- argh!” Groaning in frustration, he stalked back to the kitchen.

Never mind the curiosities that enveloped the ebony haired child in a misty veil, he was tired simply being ordered around like a lackey by him.

Finally, Nameless took a bite out of the accursed tart. His cheeks glowed, expression one of blissful enjoyment. He actually looked his age, like a young boy, naïve to the ways of the world.

“Mn, tis is truly the best! Well then, both payments have been duly received. There’s what you came for.” He pointed to a thin portfolio near the edge of the bed.

Daiki rushed to skim through it and found it was a report regarding one of the witnesses involved in the case. Finding nothing out of particular order, he glanced back at the boy sceptically.

“Sometimes.” Nameless paused to swallow. “You have to ask the right questions to gain the right answers.” Nameless stretched his slim legs out of the blanket and smiled sweetly.

 

Upon Daiki’s return to headquarters, he was immediately approached by Detective X. The older man’s conduct was incredibly arrogant and self-righteous, failing to regard Daiki as a fellow cop serving for the same purpose.

“Did you get it?”

“Yes, Sir.”

Detective X snatched the folder from his hands even before it was presented to him. Flipping through the pages, he abruptly stopped at one, his pupils widened as a grim expression took over his gaunt features.

“What did he say?”

“Something about asking the right question to get the right answer.”

“Very well. You may return to your division.” Detective X walked away, head held high, heels clacking loudly down the corridor.

Two days later, the tabloids, written in their usual sensational fashion, praised Detective X for solving yet another mind boggling case. There was a statement by the detective himself and several comments by the reporter, yet not once was Nameless mentioned, or even a hint of his involvement in the case. All the glory had been collected and claimed by Detective X’s ever stunning crown.

“Is it always like this?” Looking up from the paper, Daiki questioned his Section Head.

“Well, the truth is harder to accept sometimes… Nameless once told me adults are casually despicable. We strive to prove ourselves to the world, seeking fame and recognition. We despair over our own fates, mocking others while festering our envy. We act like a patriarch to feed our self-satisfaction by looking down on others.”

“To say these things … just how old is he?”

“Who knows? It’s a part of the contract. No questions about his self. Well, I know he’s a difficult one. Nobody can handle him well, you don’t have to go every time, I’ll just get another-“

Daiki recalled the young boy closed in in that strange room. He thought of how he saw his own reflection in those silver eyes, pale as a glass bead.

“No … I’m fine.”

“Hm?”

“Meeting that kid again, I don’t mind it…”

Chapter Text

Year 20XX

The world had finally eradicated the armed forces of war.

However, the greed for power, authority, and dominion in humans never ceased.

Therefore, in place of fire arms, a special microphone that had the power to interfere with human brain waves was created.

Its name, ‘Hypnosis Mic’.

Lyrics sung through that microphone effected the electrical impulses in the brain, capable of creating various states of emotions in the listener.

Those with Hypnosis Mic used rap to decide upon superiority or inferiority.

People gathered, and split into seven divisions.

Ikebukuro Division.

Roppongi Division.

Shibuya Division.

Shinjuku Division.

Yokohama Division.

Ueno Division.

 

Each division had a team that represented their territory.

Each respective representatives battle it out, and the winning district can acquire a certain amount of territory and prestige.

 

Now, in a world where words, not weapons, have power.

The territory battle where their honours are put on the line, the war begins.

 


 

 

Year 20XX, Spring

Shintarou believed he had moved on for the better. But fate had other plans for him.

 When his team disbanded in middle school, Shintarou ceased his activities as a rapper and chose to focus on his studies instead. The members of his team each scattered in opposite directions, never once looking back. Neither did he.

 The past was the past.

 So he fooled himself into believing.

 

The greatest misfortune of his life was the day he reunited with Kuroko Tetsuya one fine morning while he was in Shinjuku looking for his lucky item. Although he was neither close to the teen, nor was he a total stranger, Kuroko deemed it fine to drag him to a division battle.

“You should come. You shouldn’t hold yourself back.”

“Hmph. This is a waste of time.”

“Come and watch. If you prove me wrong, then I won’t bother you again. But… I’m sure you’ll come back. I know how passionate you are about this.” Kuroko’s light blue eyes shone with a certainty that grated on his nerves.

And reignited a fire he once thought he doused. But only briefly. The light flickered, but disappeared just as quickly.

“Very well.”

 

He was once a member of the much acclaimed ‘Miracle Generation’. A unit that consisted of the 7 most talented youths the world had seen and heard. They were also the youngest in history to wield the Hypnosis Mic. Once in a blue moon, Shintarou fondly recalled the memories of his experience on the stage.

The thrill.

The energy.

The audience.

Everything rang. Made his ears throb. His heart soar.

But it all came to an abrupt, bitter end. A recollection he buried with the finality of a closed coffin.

 

He did not expect much from their little excursion to Shibuya. Nothing good would come out of it.

 

The Shibuya division was lead by a group known as Fling Posse. He only knew that much.

“We got stuck with a real headache this time,” the one called Hyuga Teppei mumbled.

 Kuroko had introduced him as his senior, and one of the members of Mentarou. Aside from him there was also the grouchy looking fellow with blazing red hair, Kagami Taiga. The three of them were the current representatives of Shinjuku, and they were on their way to Shibuya to hold a friendly battle with Fling Posse.

 “Why would you say that?” Kagami questioned.

“One of Fling Posse’s members… is an old acquaintance of mine… Izuki Shun. His puns are downright nefarious. And when he raps…. I don’t even want to go there…”

“Ahh… I just know the leader is called Imayoshi… but there was one more guy…”

“Takao Kazunari.” Kuroko interjected.

“Ah yeah him! But I don’t remember hearing him much. He doesn’t seem to do any one on one.”

“Well, all the guys there are walking disasters. That Takao, I don’t know much bout him either, he’s pretty normal from what I see,” Hyuuga said in a thoughtful manner.

 

The stage brought him back in time. As though he was still in middle school.

 The actors had gathered. But he was not one of them. Still, he felt it, a slight chill that ran down his back.

 Hyuuga was pitted against Imayoshi. Kuroko with Izuki. And lastly, Kagami’s turn came.

The boy who walked onto the stage carried himself with a strange air. He wore an orange rabbit eared hoodie and black shorts that ended a little above his knees. His sneakers were the same shade of orange and tied up with green laces. The first impression he gave Shintarou was odd.

 

“Welcome my homies! Mad Rabbit in the house!” The voice that greeted the crowd was energetic, youthful, and mellifluous.

 A battle, under normal circumstances, allowed for each rapper to take turns. However, what unfolded before his eyes astounded him so much he became transfixed.

 

I will tell you only, the story of my past

 

The boy sang, ending the line with a wink.

 

I was born on a cold day, in a distant, snowy country

Even the breath exhaled is tinted with white, under the curtain of the winter night

They picked up an abandoned child

It was an old couple with shakey steps

 

The story began, reminiscent of a rakugo performance. His voice, eyes, the gestures of his hands, the posture which he held himself in, everything conjured up images in his mind of the story he told.

 

In a life that cannot be called “rich”

I grew up under a modest but definite love

 

Grandpa’s stories were silly tall tales

It was funny and I loved it a lot

 

10 years after that winter night

They said, “whatever you want - we’ll give you”

Glimmering, luxurious things, in the showcase at the street corner

There were so many toys that caught all children’s eyes

 

Towards the old couple looking for gifts

I felt gratitude beyond words

 

“There’s nothing I want”

 

That was my first lie

 

The whisper of his voice sent chills down his spine.

 

Tragic hero

A liar’s scenario liar

A nonsensical story

 

In due time, I worked plenty in order to go to school

Laboured from morning ‘till night to make a living  

Even so I managed to go to school, Grandpa

Fed me many words of encouragements

 

School life was a battle against loneliness

Criticism was harsh and merciless for an adopted child  

Before I knew it, my heart was closed

Not talking to anyone, passing my days in darkness

 

Shintarou could clearly see the events happening in his head, as though he was there to witness them for himself.

 

One day, I saw an unexpected light

Being alone in the corner of that classroom as I was used to

 

Some boy came to talk to me

The only thing he said was, simply, “let’s be friends”

 

What’s the use of such an unpopular person?

What can you get from such a twisted person?

The anger, the outrage. It felt so real.

 

“I don’t need friends”

 

That was my second lie

 

There was a pause, the boy looked at Kagami expectantly. However, he too, alike Shintarou, stood frozen like a statue.

 

A few days after the boy got sick

How unfair it is that it was such a sunny summer day

 

The moment I arrived, the boy opened his eyes

Surprised by my visit, he laughed happily

It seemed to be a long battle against the illness

Still I wanted to repay the light that was given to me on that day

 

Day after day I snuggled close to my one and only, irreplaceable friend

And to entertain the bedridden boy

 

Strong emotions swelled within him, and left his throat parched. It was the first time Shintarou felt such emotions just by listening to someone rap.

 

I wrote a lot of stories to tell him

At that time, he laughed; perhaps because

My stories were truly too fake to be real

 

Until now I’m still collecting lies on this endless journey

 

If it’d make you smile

 

I’ll lie, no matter how many times  

 

At that moment, Shintarou wasn’t sure if he imagined it or not, but their eyes made contact. The silver eyes speckled with unspeakable mischief. The smile that curved those sinful lips was devilish.

 

“Well, it’s all a lie though.”

 

On the way back to Shinjuku…

“BAKAGAMI!” Hyuuga roared, ferocious as lion.

“Ow! You didn’t have to hit me that hard!”

“You better be thankful that was just a friendly face off or else we would have lost!”

“I don’t think you should put all the blame on Kagami-kun,” Kuroko interjected.

“Well… I hadn’t expected that either. I couldn’t move at all. So they’ve been hiding this trump card the entire time,” the black haired male mused.

“Midorima-kun, what did you think?”

“Foolishness.”

 

Or so he said.

 

In truth, a truth he admitted only to himself, he was enraptured by Takao Kazunari. The raven haired youth had stirred up the slumbering beast inside him. Now, that beast was pacing impatiently within its cage.

 

He wanted to rap.

 

He wanted to battle against Takao Kazunari.

 

“The war has only just begun.”