Thank you ever so much for clicking on the little blue letters leading to my story! I've fallen in love with the amazingness that is KNB, and I couldn't resist. I'm a sucker for plot bunnies.
Without further ado, I bring to you,
A Marshmellowtime Productions...
I do not own KNB.
Of Sweaty Socks and Orange Locks
Chapter One: So they met and left
"Nobody said it was easy. It's such a shame for us to part.
Nobody said it was easy. No one ever said it would be this hard."
-"The Scientist" Coldplay
"Don't forge to pick up the milk. And write it down, you always forget. And you need to pick up Heishi's schoolwork. The house—"
Click. A bright smile touched the girl's lips as she hung up her phone, shoving it into her pocket with a whistle. Pale ginger hair, border lining orange, fell a little pasts her shoulders as she swung the two plastic bags at her side, grinning brightly.
A single clump of dyed white hair framed her face like a fringe, and messy, unkempt bangs slid across her forehead, brushing past her eyes as she nearly skipped to the gym.
But as students of Teiko Middle strolled by, and a bird or two flutter past, chirping happily, all seemed peaceful. The sky was a bright, clear blue, and few fluffy clouds dotted the ongoing canvas. The sun was out, and a low breeze blew past, rustling the trees.
It was nice.
The girl took another step and jerked, her foot stomping on her own shoelace and sending the girl toppling to the ground with a cry of surprise.
Her knee scraped the floor first; her chin slamming into the ground after, and a few passing students flinched, wincing at the collision. After a moments pause, the girl slowly pulled herself up, rubbing her chin as she checked the bags. Seeing that the contents were alright, she shuffled around in her bag and let out a triumphant 'aha!' as she found a few bandages, patterned with different dogs.
With a pleasant smile, the gingerette slapped on two onto her knees, and checked to make sure the one on her elbow was still in place. A few students sweat dropped at the strange sight, and making sure she was well covered, the girl stood, white hoodie slumping around her shoulders as she grinned, continuing on her way.
She made it to the stairs before she tripped again, this time over the ledge.
The few students who had seen the ordeal shook their heads, praying for safety as the school safety hazard went on her merrily way.
"What's taking her so long?" Swish.
"I bet she tripped on her face again." Pound.
"Ah~ I hope she didn't get lost..." Squeak.
"I hope she got some sweets..." Growl.
"Today is a bad day for Capricorn's." Midorima pushed his glasses up his nose, setting down the lucky item for today, a yellow cat plushie. "Reason would dictate that she most likely fell far more than usual today."
"Forget reason." Aomine watched as the basketball disappeared down the hoop. Dark blue eyes turned to the green haired shooter and he snorted. "She falls on her face everyday."
"Poor Inucchi." Kise shook his head sadly, patting a towel to his face. "If she keeps falling she'll scar that beautiful face of hers!"
Kuroko watched the gym door silently, deep blue eyes staring at the double doors as he waited for his childhood friend. Akashi's eyes didn't stray once as he dribbled a ball in his hand, staring before him. "She should be fired."
"Come on! Have some faith in Inu-chan!" Momoi snapped, looking up from her clipboard with a disapproving frown. "She always shows up."
"Late." Aomine rolled his eyes, shrugging his shoulders as he took a step back to do a layup. "Besides, she probably—"
"I'm here!" The double doors slammed open and eyes turned to the huffing figure in front of the door, a triumphant smile on their face. "And the snacks are okay!"
Oroka Shiroinu proudly held up the two plastic bags, one of which Murasakibara quickly headed towards, towering over the girl as he practically pawed at the bag filled with sweets. Momoi flashed Aomine a triumphant smirk, which he simply rolled his eyes at.
Midorima pushed up his glasses once more, examining the girl for a moment. "I assume you fell five times today?"
Oroka flinched, smile still in place as she handed the bag of sweets to Murasakibara, who smiled like a child as he eagerly took the bag. The large giant patted her head in thanks. "No stairs today though!"
"Liar." Akashi watched another ball swish through the net, and Oroka slumped slightly.
"You guys are too cruel..." Oroka mumbled, holding up the other plastic bag, filled with drinks and popsicles. "At least I kept the snacks in tact this time..."
"But Inucchi," Kise tugged at the girl's jacket sleeve, pouting slightly. "I was just telling them that you need to be more careful! You can't scar that beautiful face of yours!"
Light blue eyes blinked owlishly at the blonde. A wide smile split Oroka's face and she titled her head, tapping the thin scar that curved around her eye, pale and prominent. "I already did though—so it's fine!"
"It's not!" Kise exclaimed, looking worriedly at the girl before him as his eye twitched in disbelief. "Look at all the bandages!"
"They're puppies today." Kuroko commented quietly, and Oroka and Kise jumped, turning to the light blue haired shadow in surprise. Oroka's face quickly turned bright as she registered her friend, and she locked arms with the blue haired boy.
"I also got a new box of dinosaurs," Oroka shuffled through her bag and pulled out the slightly beaten box, cartoon dinosaurs on the cover. "And I also got one with ice cream patterns—isn't that cool?"
"There's something wrong with this." Kise muttered, sweat dropping at Kuroko's blank expression and Oroka's slightly ditzy one as she showed Kuroko the different bandages.
"There's something wrong if bandage patterns are cool." Aomine's eye twitched, and Momoi simply beamed, cheeks slightly flushing at the adorable scene before her.
Tetsu-kun and Inu-chan are looking at bandages like kids~ Momoi sighed happily, putting a hand to her cheek. How cute!
"You were late." Akashi was suddenly beside the girl, hand slipping into the bag as he pulled out a can of tea, blinking down at the ginger haired girl before him. "Shintaro was getting worried."
Midorima jerked around in shock, disbelief coloring his features. "I w-wasn't—"
"Only Momoi and Tetsuya have faith in me." Oroka sighed, shaking her head sadly. "I thought we were friends! Friends are supposed to trust each other!"
"You said that last week and nearly got hit by a car." Akashi popped the lid to his tea and Oroka flinched, caught.
"But Tetsuya was there!"
"The driver didn't even notice him."
"Ah—watch! I won't fall anymore today!" Oroka vowed, eyes narrowing in determination as she turned her chin upwards, meeting Akashi's gaze. "Watch!"
The red head's eyes narrowed, darkening slight at her tone and a brow arched smoothly. "Oh?"
The ginger paled, shrinking slightly under his gaze as she chuckled nervously, rubbing the back of her already messy hair. "Y-Yeah..."
"Fall two more times and you should be fine." Midorima reached into the bag and took out a can of milk tea. "Seven is Capricorn's lucky number today."
"If you fall you owe me food." Aomine piped up and Oroka chucked the energy drink at the blue haired boy. Aomine caught it easily and Oroka grinned, pale blue eyes glimmering.
"If I win you owe me ice cream!"
"Me too." Atsushi added, smiling dreamily at the thought of free ice cream.
"You shouldn't bet on that." Kuroko advised silently, and Oroka blinked, looking at him curiously. "You'll lose this bet."
"T-Tetsuya! You're supposed to be on my side, damn it!"
"I was being honest."
"Hah! Tetsu agrees with me." Aomine laid a large hand flat on her head, ruffling the orange hair. "Better get out your change, Orokamono."
Oroka twitched at the familiar annunciation of her name and whirled around, trying in vain to swat at Aomine's hands. "I'm making you buy me a watermelon popsicle—and it's Oroka! Not Orokamono!"
Aomine's lips curled upwards in a smug smirk, and he pushed Oroka's head back, meeting her gaze for gaze as he lowered his head. "Hmm... What flavor should I get?"
"The day's still young!"
"I can help treat, if you'd like." Kuroko murmured, appearing beside the ginger haired girl, who jumped along with Aomine. "You used up your spare change at the arcade yesterday."
"Tetsuya! As my friend, you're bound by oath to keep my secrets!" Oroka cried, staring at her friend in disbelief. Kuroko blinked, glancing down at the floor and then back at her.
Kuroko's impassive face scrunched up slightly, and he titled his head to the side. "Did I sign something?"
Aomine began to laugh, holding his stomach as Oroka slumped, jacket falling over her shoulder slightly as she shut her eyes. "Tetsuya... Don't you believe in me?"
"I believe in you, Inucchi!" Kise cried, leaping forward with arms outstretched toward the forlorn girl.
Oroka took a step to the side, and Kise blinked in shock, ramming into a laughing Aomine. The blue and blonde fell to the floor, Aomine shooting up angrily and Kise in annoyance as the two argued. The ginger grinned, stuffing her bandaged hands into her pockets. "Tetsuya, do you want to hang out after practice?"
Kuroko glanced to up to the unofficial errand girl of the Generation of Miracles and blinked slowly. His impassive face remained...impassive, and Oroka merely stood beside him, smiling brightly as she waited for an answer.
"How nice..." Momoi sighed, putting a finger to her lips slightly enviously. "To be able to ask so easily..."
"Why don't you ask to join?" Kise had appeared beside her, fixing his jersey as Aomine grumbled, watching the light haired boy and ginger haired girl. "They won't say no."
"I don't want to be the third wheel..." Momoi slumped, looking down in defeat. "They've known each other longer."
"Oi! Tetsu, Inu, let me come. I'm hungry." Aomine sluggishly sauntered towards the two and Momoi's head shot up in disbelief, eyes wide as the other two looked over to Aomine.
"Then I want to come too~" Kise sang, headed towards the three with a model smile on his naturally bright face. "Where are we going today?"
"Are we getting snacks?" Atsushi murmured, towering over the four as they began to chat. Momoi blinked in disbelief at the scene before her, hair curling out of place at the sheer audacity these people had.
But...Her eyes began to water and she ran forward, tackling Oroka in a hug. I want to go too! "Inu-chan, let me come!"
"Midorima, are you coming too?" Oroka inquired, turning around with Momoi latched to her neck as she blinked at the dark green haired male. "It looks like everyone's going."
"I have no need." Midorima adjusted his glasses, and Oroka grinned, lips curling upwards in a crooked smirk.
"An antique shop opened up next door."
"...I'll go with you all till I reach the store."
"What about you, Akashicchi?" Kise glanced over Oroka's head where the red head stood; shuffling through papers Momoi had brought them. "Are you coming?"
"I'll leave it to you guys." Akashi waved the group off, turning around. "I want to get things done. Practice is over for today."
Oroka blinked at the red head as Momoi latched onto Kuroko, Kise following suite out the door, Atsushi munching on chips lowered his head at the door, and Midorima followed the group, yellow cat plushie in hand. The ginger haired girl watched Akashi's retreating form and tilted her head to the side.
"You're going to be left behind!" Aomine slung a heavy arm around her shoulder, causing her to stumble as he tugged her along with him. "Don't think you can run out on me."
"I wasn't." Oroka rolled her eyes, slipping her hands into her jacket pockets. The girl paused a moment, her feet moving along due to Aomine's arm. But pale blue eyes softened and she grinned at the red head's back.
"Don't work too hard!"
The doors to the gym swung shut, the gymnasium oddly silent without the large group. Akashi glanced at the papers in his hands, files and data Momoi had collected, and the corner of his lips tugged upwards.
"Melon flavor really is the best." Oroka shut her eyes in bliss, speaking around the watermelon shaped popsicle in her mouth.
"Is it?" Kuroko murmured, walking beside the girl as he ate a bit of the blue popsicle in his hands.
Oroka simply nodded, feeling sweet watermelon flavor on her tongue, crisp and sweet. Kuroko looked at his blue popsicle, the same color as his hair, and took a bite, blinking at the cold minty flavor. "I see."
Out of the group, she knew Kuroko the longest. They'd met when they were younger, and she considered him a close friend. She'd only gotten to know the others through Kuroko, though she'd met Aomine in class. Oroka glanced thoughtfully at the group around her.
She considered them all very dear friends of hers, and she'd like to think they thought the same. Kuroko had been her only friend first, but her world had expanded without her realizing it, and the rest had just filed through as if it were nothing.
"Hey." A heavy hand landed on top of her head, and the orange haired girl glanced up, meeting Aomine's dark face. "Keep spacing out and you're going to trip."
"At least it was in the snack isle." Atsushi yawned, popping two more chips into his mouth as he smiled slightly, a bag of snacks in his other hand.
"Honestly," Midorima pushed up his glasses. "Who trips over nothing?"
"Plenty of people!" Oroka snapped, pointing her slightly melted popsicle at the green haired boy, brandishing the new puppy band aids on her fingers. "It happens—and it wasn't air! My shoe laces were untied!"
Midorima blinked at the dripping ice cream in front of him and simply pushed up his glasses, meeting pale blues. "They're puppies again."
Oroka blinked, glancing to her fingers and grinning slightly. "They're cool, right?"
"Who cares?" Aomine swooped down and bit the top of her ice cream and Oroka's eyes grew wide as he simply chomped down on the icy treat while she held it.
"Hey! That's mine!" Oroka pulled what was left of her ice cream away and Aomine yawned, licking his lips.
"You took too long."
"It's melting again." Kuroko commented quietly and Oroka jerked in surprise, licking around the treat to keep it from dripping.
Her pocket began to vibrate and she grumbled, fumbling with her free hand as she held the popsicle towards Kuroko. "Tetsuya—don't let it melt!"
The pale blue haired boy blinked, and dutifully licked around the ice cream while Oroka glanced at the caller I.D. Momoi froze, eyes wide and cheeks flushing at the sight of Kuroko licking Oroka's ice cream. The pink haired girl's eyes began to swirl in confusion.
It's Oroka's, but Aomine ate some...a three way indirect kiss?
"M-Momoicchi?" Kise exclaimed at the pink haired girl's sudden flush as she nearly fell to the ground.
Oroka stared at the caller I.D for a moment, contemplating in her head whether or not to answer to her monster of a mother. And then finally with a bright smile, she clicked the off button to her phone and returned to eating her nearly devoured popsicle. "Thanks, Tetsuya!"
"Hmm." Kuroko resumed eating his own ice cream and Kise shot upwards, having helped Momoi up.
"Why don't we go to the arcade?" The blonde model proposed, and the group blinked at him owlishly.
"I only came for the shop."
"I don't think they have snacks..."
"I'll go if Tetsu-kun does!"
"You'll only get pummeled."
"I don't particularly care."
"Come on guys!" Kise cried, tugging at Oroka's sleeve. The ginger haired girl sweat dropped, wondering why he chose her of all people. "We have to hang out! Let's play DDR again! I'm tired of just being ignored!"
"You'll just beat everyone you copy cat."
"Then a shooting game—it's the arcade!" Kise pleaded, shaking Oroka around. The girl blinked dizzily and Kuroko swiftly detached the girl from the blonde, propping Oroka up carefully as she regained her bearings. "Please!"
"I don't see...why not." Oroka murmured dazedly, eyes swirling as Kuroko blinked calmly.
"I don't mind."
"Then let's go!" Kise grabbed Kuroko's arm, pulling him forward. "To the arcade!"
"Please don't drag me."
"Ah! Be gentle with Tetsu-kun!" Momoi cried, running after the two. Atsushi glanced to his snacks and shrugged, following languidly after the three. Midorima simply grumbled under his breath, following after the four, intent on going home. Aomine yawned, tagging along, and Oroka waited as they were all before her.
Her pale blue eyes watched the group of friends for a moment, smiles and shouts coming from them—whether annoyed or joyous, there was life. Her eyes softened and she rocked back onto her heels, feeling her lids lower as a rush of affection filled her at the sight of her friends.
Her phone felt heavy in her pocket, and some part of her mind whispered that she should call back and make up an excuse, but at the moment, she didn't care. Her world wasn't perfect—rarely anyone's was, and before Kuroko it had just been her and her brothers.
But now her world was brimming with people she cared about. And that was as close to perfect as her world would get.
"Oroka." Her head snapped up, meeting Kuroko's thoughtful gaze despite his calm face. "Are you alright?"
"Ah, I just spaced out." She grinned, punching her head lightly. "Hahaha, my bad!"
"You'll get left behind!" Aomine called, and Momoi glanced back, flashing a bright smile.
"Come on, Inu-chan!"
Oroka blinked and then grinned, shoving aside all worries as she ran ahead to catch up with the group, eyes shining.
She wanted these days to last forever.
But they wouldn't.
Oroka's eyes followed the ball as Aomine dribbled it with ease, weaving in and out of the defense—one, two, three—past three players already as he headed for the net.
Her chest filled with pride at the sight of her friends, her team as they played, scoring point after point to secure the win. She glanced over to where Kuroko moved deftly through the players, unnoticed and ready. A smile graced her lips as she stood a few feet from the line, watching carefully.
The smile on her face twitched, and Oroka paused, brows creasing slightly as she watched them play before her.
Why is it...
Kise shot past one of the players, snatching the ball and jumping upwards. The ball swished through the net and the team jogged back, preparing to defend.
Her frown deepened as confusion filled her, not sure why she was suddenly filled with so much unease. Oroka shook her head, fingers brushing over the various band aids on her hand as if for comfort.
She glanced to the scoreboard.
91 to 32.
They nearly tripled to the score.
The ginger watched the game, wiping away the frown and replacing it instead with a smile as Momoi conversed with the coach beside her. Everything was fine—the fourth quarter was nearly over and the win was for sure theirs.
"Go, Tetsuya!" Oroka cupped her hands, cheering on her friends. "Go, Akashi! You can do it, Midorima! Come on, Kise! Go—start moving Murasakibara! Go, Ao—"
"Hey, Inu!" Oroka's eyes widened as Aomine appeared beside her, dribbling the ball with one hand and blocking another player with his other. A wide grin stretched across his lips as he stood beside the line, moving to keep the ball out of the other's grip.
Disbelief filled her at the action and her eyes darted to the player trying to snatch the ball from Aomine, eyes burning as sweat dripped down his face. The struggle was clear and she jerked back to Aomine, shocked that he was taking this so casually. "Aomine! You're in the middle of a game—we can talk after—"
"Eh? Have you been watching the game?" Aomine smirked, spinning around and dribbling before her again, looking nonchalant. "There's only a few minutes left."
Oroka glanced back to the player guarding Aomine, and her eyes widened at the look of frustration and humiliation on his face, eyes burning as he struggled helplessly to steal the ball out of the dark haired boy's hands.
"What ice cream should I get today?" Aomine grinned, the player's eyes widened and his arms slumped. Oroka watched, feeling something within her twist as a dead look came into his eyes, and the struggle for the ball was weak, lifeless.
"Aominecchi!" Kise cried indignantly, and Oroka watched in disbelief as he came over, guarding his own person to talk to them. "Stop deciding things on your own!"
"Ah? Who asked you?"
"Aominecchi, you're cruel!"
Oroka froze, staring at the two before her in utter disbelief. Her eyes glanced over to Kuroko, who stood, eyes wide at the sight, and she felt something within her snap.
"Hey! You two are still in a game!" Momoi was beside her, eyes wide with shock and Oroka inwardly thanked the girl. "Get back!"
"Really..." Aomine tsked and Kise broke away from his player, setting a screen as Aomine whirled around and shot. The ball made it in with ease, adding a swish to the basket. Oroka could only stare in confusion as the dark blue haired boy turned around, smirking. "The only one who can beat me is me, you know."
Oroka was silent and the buzzer sounded, signaling the end of the game. Momoi stood stiff beside her, and the ginger felt her arms lower, hanging at her sides as she watched the other team group up.
They looked dead.
They'd been crushed.
"Let's go get some ice cream!" Kise cheered, jogging over and glancing to the red head beside him. "Can we, Akashicchi?"
"I suppose so. You guys did well today." Akashi smirked and Kise grinned, grabbing a towel and wiping his face.
Oroka stood beside the court, unable to register the team beside her as she watched the defeated team, unable to take her eyes off their broken expressions.
They didn't just lose.
Her eyes flickered back to the score.
96 to 32.
They were played with.
"Shiroinu?" Oroka blinked, glancing over to Midorima who stood a little ways from her, watching her curiously.
"Ah, my bad." The ginger grinned, tilting her head to the side. "I just spaced out, hahaha."
"You never change." Aomine scoffed, taking a sip of water as he threw a towel towards Atsushi.
"Inucchi, did you see that?" Kise grinned, latching onto her arm, and she looked up at him in confusion as he beamed. "We tripled their score!"
The image of their broken faces flickered through her mind and Oroka froze, unable to meet Kise's gaze as she stared at the floor—anything besides the people before her.
This doesn't... This seems...
"Isn't this great? We're unbeatable!" Kise continued, and Oroka felt her thoughts dissolve as images of spending time with these people came to mind. They were her friends—they made her world right, everything was fine.
"Great job, guys!" Oroka flashed a grin at Kise, reaching up on her tip toes to pat his head. "You were amazing!"
"Of course!" Aomine smirked, taking the towel Momoi offered him.
"These games are getting easier." Atsushi yawned and Oroka froze at the statement.
A head of pale blue hair passed her and Oroka turned, a smile touching her lips as she opened her mouth to congratulate her friend. But as Kuroko walked past, she felt the words die on her lips as he moved swiftly past, not a word leaving him.
Her eyes followed her friend, something cold settling into her stomach as her body became numb. This wasn't right... Something about all of this seemed wrong, and she suddenly realized—
"Let's go!" Kise tugged Oroka along and the girl blinked as he grinned, the rest of the team following after. "I heard there's a new flavor this time!"
Oroka felt a grin touch her lips and she followed after the group, beaming as they left the court and the losing team behind without a second thought.
She suddenly realized that she hadn't seen Kuroko smile in a long time.
"Wow! This is Teiko!"
"These kids—these guys are monsters!"
"This game was theirs from the start!"
The crowds cheering filled her ears, buzzing and thrumming with excitement. There was the squeak of basketball shoes, the thump of the ball, the noise echoing throughout the stadium. Shouts followed by, but Oroka remained rooted to her spot beside the bench, unable to move.
Kuroko wasn't beside her to share her thoughts; he'd been sent to the infirmary after the injury the other team had given him.
But at that moment she wanted him more than ever.
111 to 11.
The scores match. A voice in her mind whispered, and she felt herself slipping as everything fell into place. What a coincidence.
They'd controlled this game from the start.
Oroka glanced to her teammates as they walked off the court, barely even affected. She stiffened and she whirled around to the other team, knowing one of the players from years back, when it was just her and Kuroko. He'd been so positive even though they lost—so he must be...
She froze, eyes growing wide at the sight of her old friend and his teammates. Something within her quietly slipped away at their broken faces. These weren't the faces of losers.
They'd given up completely.
The crowd was cheering, and she heard a voice go over the speakers, announcing the win.
They're all are so strong now.
"We even set it up for them," Aomine walked past her, flashing her a smirk. "Man, what a disappointment."
"That was barely anything!" Kise chuckled, and Oroka let a grin touch her lips as she beamed at her teammates, letting them walk past.
"We won!" Oroka grinned, and Midorima scoffed.
I'm so proud of them.
"Hurry up when you're done." Akashi said, walking swiftly past without a single glance back.
Oroka stood there, smiling brightly as the sound of their footsteps faded past. But that was long gone from her mind now, and she could only struggle with so many thoughts at once.
She'd felt the familiar words rest on her lips, but for some reason, they wouldn't leave. It was as if all feeling had left her as they strolled by, her friends, now such great and talented players.
"Eh?" Oroka blinked, smiling in confusion as she reached up with bandaged finger tips, brushing her face and feeling the water drip down. "I'm... Why would I be—"
The tears came freely now, streaming down her face as Oroka's smile broke, her face contorting into one of confusion and pain as she felt her hands shake as she tried to wipe them away. "Everyone tried their best, so I shouldn't..."
A sob escaped her lips, and she felt her legs begin to shake as she threatened to fall over. A pain struck her, fierce and deep and she hugged herself, unable to stop the tears spilling over and hitting the floor.
"Why?" She held her hands to her chest, clutching it as the images flashed by, over and over.
"It wasn't even a game."
"The only one who can beat me is me."
"Ah, what a bore."
"I don't..." Oroka sobbed, wanting nothing more than to crawl away and hide, forget she'd ever seen any of this. These were her friends—the ones she'd grown to love, how could they change—
This isn't right.
Her eyes snapped open and she shot up at the familiar voice, looking through tear stained eyes at the pale haired boy before her. She blinked, tears falling from the corners as Kuroko stood before her, a look of agony on his face.
Oroka froze, remembering what was on the line with this game. The promise Kuroko had made to his friend, to their friend from so long ago.
And she remembered the look of agony on Ogiwari's face.
Her heart broke and she stumbled forward, Kuroko met her halfway, wrapping his arms around her tightly, and Oroka sobbed, feeling her friend's shoulders shake with his own cries.
"It hurts..." Kuroko murmured, clutching tighter onto her, and Oroka gripped his shirt, feeling drops of water hit her as Kuroko shook. "What is this...? This isn't... This isn't victory, is it?"
It hurt her to hear her friend so broken, so beaten. Kuroko was steady, he'd always been. But now her foundations were shaking along with him, and the world she'd struggled so hard to keep together began to fall apart.
Kuroko held onto her as she cried. She felt so stupid though, not even knowing what she was crying about.
They're not the same.
A hole tore open in her chest, deeper than she could've ever imagined, and she held onto Kuroko as if he were the only thing keeping her rooted to this world. She cried for the first time in years—she didn't like crying, she was better at keeping up a happy face, after all these years, it was the only thing she could do.
But now that didn't even matter.
"I don't know anymore." Kuroko whispered, and she felt his shoulders shake as he hugged her tighter. "What is victory then, Oroka? This can't be it..."
No. She thanked all the blessings she had, which weren't many, that Kuroko was here—that he was still Kuroko. Her Tetsuya. Because if he'd been the same as those five—those friends of theirs—then her world would have really fallen apart. He was still the same boy with no presence, practically able to disappear...
"I don't get it either." Oroka felt something stir in her mind. She couldn't stand here and watch them all fall, she couldn't see the same thing that happened to her before happen again.
She couldn't watch a repeat of her family happen to her friends.
Oroka felt the sobs die away, but she still felt tears streak down her face. She stared hard at the ground, all those days after school, the practices, everything—them, kept running through her mind, and her heart was slowly breaking as her mind came to a decision.
She couldn't watch.
"Hey, Tetsuya." Kuroko paused and Oroka turned her head upwards. Kuroko's body went rigid and his eyes wide as Oroka offered him a sad smile, a lost smile as tears fell down her face and onto the floor.
"Help me disappear."
I didn't get to tell them good job.
"I won't be gone long, I promise."
Oroka shuffled through her bag, pulling out several papers, as well as her new phone number, and handed them to Kuroko, who took them silently, shuffling through. "Hiro said he'd take me in—honestly, he doesn't know when to stop."
"Your brother is very kind." Kuroko offered, and Oroka smiled, setting her bag in her lap as she gazed out at the school before her.
They sat, looking out at Teiko's campus. Class had already started, but the two had both stopped worrying about that long ago. It was empty, leaving them free to mull over their thoughts. One conflicted, the other worried.
"He said he'll take me all around." Oroka added, a grin brightening her face. "And mom and dad can't say a thing. I feel bad about leaving Heishi though." Her eyes lowered, and she leaned against her friend, shutting her eyes.
"I feel even worse about leaving you."
Kuroko paused, staring down at the papers in his hands—her flight schedule out of Japan and to where her older brother was traveling at the moment. They were the papers that would take away a person he'd kept dear to him for a long time, the ones that would take away his friend, and the only other person who stood a chance with him to get the others to see again.
"Tetsuya, help me disappear."
Kuroko though silent, was a lot of things. At times he could consider himself selfish, and as much as he wanted someone else to stand beside him, to have someone to lean on—someone he knew wouldn't change, he couldn't keep her here. That would be too cruel to make her see the same thing happen twice, only to different people.
She was too important for him to be selfish.
No matter how much he was hurting.
Oroka didn't want to leave. She felt cruel, selfish leaving her closest friend behind, but it was all she could do. Kuroko had been the rock she needed when she realized that the perfect world she had finally constructed had fallen apart at the seams, and the rainbow that seemed to always be over her disappeared.
She was a coward.
Yeah, Aomine is right. Her eyes shut and she gritted her teeth. I am a fool.
"I understand." Kuroko placed a hand on her head, and Oroka glanced up to her friend, feeling her heart clench as he gazed back at her, smiling softly, the way Kuroko could, the faintest twitch of his lips. "I will miss you though."
"Me too." Oroka shut her eyes and wrapped her arms around Kuroko, feeling his arms slowly wrap around her as well. "I'll be back when the new year starts—keep in touch with me, alright?"
Kuroko nodded, and Oroka smiled, the weight on her chest a little lighter as she sat back and began rifling through her bag. "Do me a favor, would you?"
Kuroko blinked and Oroka set a box in his hands, cartoon puppies and orange stars on the band aid patterns. He glanced up and she smiled, cupping her hands over his. "Hang onto these for me. When I get back I think I'll need a few."
Kuroko gazed down at the box and inclined his head, setting it down. "I will."
"Thank you, Tetsuya." Oroka murmured. "For everything."
Kuroko paused for a moment, and slowly, he turned to look at his friend before him. "Can we make a promise?"
Oroka blinked in surprise, not used to hearing words like that from Kuroko. But the look on his face kept her from saying anything else, besides, she owed him. "Of course."
"When you get back, let's promise to make them see."
Oroka froze and Kuroko met her gaze with his own, and she suddenly realized the difference between her and her friend. Kuroko had found his own way—and he believed this was what he had to do to fix them. Maybe not yet, but surely he would.
She simply chose to turn tail and run.
Her lips trembled, but a smile graced her lips and Oroka nodded, clasping his hands in her own. "I promise."
The ginger haired girl stood, pale blue eyes ablaze as she slung her bag over her shoulder. Kuroko gazed at her for a moment and she turned, flashing him a bright smile. "I won't say goodbye because we'll see each other again. So just bye, okay?"
Kuroko's lips turned upwards, the slightest bit. "Yes."
Oroka froze, feeling her eyes threaten to water, and she turned her head away, gazing ahead of her. "Bye, Tetsuya."
"Hmm? Inucchi isn't here today again?" Kise blinked at the empty seat, throwing a smile to the girls crowding the door before slipping into his desk, next to the empty one. "She must be sick..."
"Ah, probably finally tripped and really hurt herself." Aomine scoffed, glancing to the seat and away. She'd be back the next day, as happy and clumsy as ever.
Kuroko was silent, gazing at the desk for a moment as well. Oroka wasn't sick, but she was far away by now, most likely out of the country. And she'd texted him the other night saying that she and her brother were headed to Europe first.
"We should visit her." Kise proposed offhandedly, looking up at the ceiling. "I don't think Akashi would mind if we missed practice today."
"Who needs it anymore?" Aomine yawned, and his eyes flickered to the seat once more before looking away, he had other things on his mind. "Satsuki hasn't heard from her either."
Kuroko stared hard at his desk, staying silent.
It wasn't until a week later that the group found out that their errand girl was more than sick, and no matter how hard they tried, they couldn't get her to answer.
It wasn't till a few weeks before graduation, around the time that Kuroko started skipping school that they realized she had disappeared without a word to any of them.
Seirin Private Academy...
"Join the Shogi club!"
"The literature club is supreme! Come join!"
"Baseball is the number one sport!"
Students crowded about, chatter and shouts and laughter filling the air as the opening day for the school came to life. Students of all sorts advertised for their clubs, promoting things from cooking to paranormal investigation.
Friends reunited, new bonds were made, and the air was alive.
So this is Seirin. Scuffed up sneakers hit the cement as pale blues gazed around in wonderment. It's bigger than Tetsuya described.
Phone in hand in case her friend called, the young girl wove her way in and out of the crowds, being careful not to step on any shoes in case she'd trip and get trampled. Squeezing through one particular bunch, she let out a sigh of relief, gazing around.
"I can't wait."
The text would've been read far more enthusiastic for anyone else, but this was Kuroko, and her friend wasn't the type. A grin touched her lips and pale blue eyes narrowed in determination as she placed her hands on her hips, eyes alight with a fire she hadn't possessed before.
No more, right?
"I'M BACK JAPAN!"
The few students that had been around flinched, looking at the bright orange haired girl with wide eyes. Thoughts of the strange girl floated around, but she was oblivious. A huge grin plastered itself on her face as she walked on, headed to where Kuroko had said to meet when she finally got here.
I won't run away anymore.
Oroka's eyes shone and her grin widened.
"Time to fulfill my promise, Tetsuya."
And thus, she took her first step forward.
And stepped on her other shoe lace, causing her to trip and fall over, face slamming into the ground as she let out a low groan.
One way to start.
Hope you all enjoyed the first chapter! I at first wanted this to be during Teiko, but decided to save that for a later date. But nonetheless, I hope you've all enjoyed the first chapter of SSAOL! It means a lot that you checked it out, and I hope that it was nice to read!
If you'd like, leave a review and tell me what you think!