Notes: Let's start the pairing off! (And by that I mean mostly side pairing, but uh, we'll get there).
Riko didn't let it hurt her, how quick the new freshmen were to assume she was the manager. It was the same with all of their opponents. She didn't feel the need to justify anything, knowing her actions would speak for her.
It was comic, the different reactions of the new freshmen. Several of them were subs, and blushed bright red at the suggestion. The Doms, Kagami among them, just shrugged and stripped.
"Um, Coach… I don't know if I…" one of the subs began.
"Don't worry," Riko said, because the submissive part of her understood his hesitation. "I'm taken."
The sub breathed out in relief and nodded. He took his shirt off, a pink flush still prominent.
Junpei bumped shoulders with her and Riko smiled briefly at him, before turning her attention back to the stats shown by the bodies in front of her. She vaguely heard Junpei explaining to the new recruits about her ability sense, but most of her attention was focused on going down the line.
Average, average, average. She murmured a couple pieces of advice to some of the freshmen as she went. And then it was Kagami's turn.
Riko stopped and stared. His numbers were off the charts, especially for a fifteen year old. She couldn't even see the end of his potential. He was… a monster.
"You're staring," Junpei called.
"Ah!" Riko jumped back. She held back a blush as she moved her gaze to the clipboard in her hands. "Was that everyone?"
"Kagami was the last," Junpei confirmed.
Riko frowned. She hadn't seen the freshmen from Teikou. "Kuroko? Is Kuroko here?"
She looked around. There was no one else. Pouting, she figured she'd better start practice, thinking he might show up later.
A hand appeared in front of her face.
Riko jumped back again as Kuroko Tetsuya introduced himself. She exchanged a glance with Junpei. She hadn't noticed Kuroko at all.
And then he took off his shirt. She was stunned by the disappointment she felt looking at his below average stats. He told them he'd played in some games, but she couldn't really believe it. Maybe in practice games, when the Generation of Miracles were taking a break. There seemed no way someone like him could hope to hold up to those five monsters.
Later, after that first practice, she walked with Junpei. He held out his hand and she took it, weaving their fingers together.
"What's your opinion on them?" he asked as they got on the train together.
"The freshmen? Most of them are nothing special."
"Still, it's nice to see interest in the club growing. The tennis team is so popular, I was worried anyone would sign up."
"True." Riko looked out the window, meeting Junpei's gaze in the reflection. "That Kagami is… he reminds me of Teppei."
"In what way?"
"His stats, I mean. They're both so strong. There's not a part of him below average."
"You'd think he was the one from Teikou, not Kuroko."
"You'd think." Riko sighed.
They got off the train and headed up familiar stairs to a familiar room. By now, the nurses and doctors knew them by name. One of them, Doctor Akitaka, stopped them outside of Teppei's room.
"How's he doing?" Junpei asked.
"Well. He should be set to attend classes, though he'll need crutches. Still, I don't want him attending basketball practice for a little while yet."
"I wouldn't let him play," Riko argued.
"I know athletes," Akitaka said. "My nephew is on the tennis team at your school, after all. Kiyoshi might not play, but the psychological stress of watching others practice may spread to physical stress. It's such a sensitive area, I'd rather not take any chances."
Riko looked at Junpei. He looked as upset as she felt, but he bowed. "Thank you, Doctor."
"I know it's hard."Akitaka waved his hand toward the door of the room. "Go cheer him up. It might help."
Riko opened the door to Teppei's room. Teppei was looking out the window, but he glanced toward them as soon as they stepped inside.
"Oh, you're here!" He smiled wide. "I didn't expect you to visit."
"We visit every day, dumbass," Junpei grumbled. He let go of Riko's hand and walked forward. Riko joined him in sitting on the side of Teppei's bed.
Teppei's smile softened. "I know." He reached forward placing one of his large hands on the back of Junpei's neck. Junpei tensed for a moment, and then relaxed into it. Riko watched as Teppei gently drew their boyfriend toward his chest. She was glad that Teppei could do that, could make Junpei relax in a way she never could. It was always too much push and pull between them. With Teppei, though, it was just so easy to submit.
Teppei pinned her with those observant eyes of his. "How was practice?"
Riko smiled and began telling him about the freshmen. Teppei, being himself, was interested in all of them—not just Kagami. Riko said all she could remember, Junpei occasionally inserting a comment of his own.
She finally got to Kuroko and before she realized it, she'd complained about how he hadn't lived up to her expectations coming from Teikou.
"Now that's not fair," Teppei said. It was gentle chiding, but coming from Teppei it was enough for her to flinch back. "Not everyone is obvious about their skills."
"I… but he's so weak."
"Give him a chance to prove himself," Teppei said. "He might surprise you."
Junpei lifted his head up from Teppei's chest. "You played Teikou in middle school. Do you remember him?"
"Who knows?" Teppei smiled. Riko looked at Junpei and they both rolled their eyes. They knew their Dom enough to realize they weren't getting any more than that from him.
"So what should we do?" Riko asked.
"How should I know?" Teppei blinked. "I'm not the coach. Or the captain."
In unison, Riko and Junpei sighed. Teppei laughed.
"Maybe a game. Freshmen versus juniors," Riko thought aloud.
"It'll give us a chance to show them what we're made of, and to see what they can do," Junpei agreed.
"Sounds like fun." There was a note of wistfulness in Teppei's voice.
Riko moved to Teppei's other side and curled up against him. She met Junpei's gaze across Teppei's chest and silently they agreed it was time to distract their Dom.
Of course, Teppei knew what they were doing, but he let it happen because that was the kind of Dom he was. He would always step back and let the two Switches do what they wanted until they needed him to take control, and then he'd do so with gentle reins until they felt stable again.
It was an unconventional relationship, without a sub to balance them out, but it worked. Riko wouldn't have it any other way.
Ryoma didn't know what to think of Seigaku's tennis club at first. The regulars and the coach were apparently at a practice match, so the first practice was run by some of the juniors who spent most of their time showing off. Ryoma had nothing against showing off, but only when the person actually had something to show off. As far as he could tell, all the club members were mada mada dane.
He could only hope the regulars were at least a little interesting. Considering how boring the tennis team at MLK High had been, he wasn't too optimistic. And he didn't even have his dad to play against anymore.
That was fine, though. His old man was annoying and spending more time with Taiga was worth it anyway. Taiga was bad at tennis, but he was good at making Ryoma feel comfortable and he'd never been able to find that with anyone else.
Ryoma resisted the urge to roll his eyes as the brightly colored fellow freshmen bragged to two others about his two years of tennis experience. He was just considering going to find the basketball court so he could at least watch Taiga, when two juniors issued the freshmen a challenge.
His interest was perked slightly when he realized rocks weighed down the cans. He didn't like Doms who pushed themselves around like they were better than everyone else. Picking on the loud-mouthed freshman was fine. Ryoma could tell that he was that same kind of Dom, the one who tried to show off to impress those around him without anything to back it up. But the other two freshmen were subs like him and Ryoma didn't like how upset they looked as the juniors stared greedily at them.
Fishing his racket out of his bag, Ryoma stepped forward.
"Oh, another challenger?" The Dom with the bright green headband said. "And another sub. Like I told the other two subs, you don't have to pay." He grinned sleazily. "You just have to go on date with me or one of my friends if you lose."
"That's stupid," Ryoma stated blandly. He threw the tennis ball up and wacked it toward the can, hitting the top of it. The can fell over, revealing the rocks inside. "Senpai has to cheat to get a date." He snorted and then threw another tennis ball, hitting the can dead center. He did it again, and again.
"H-hey, that's enough," one of the other juniors said.
Ryoma paused as he felt the presence of someone else on the court. A ball flew over his shoulder and smashed the can with enough force to bend it in two. "Oh, I hit it! Lucky!"
Turning, Ryoma studied the newcomer. He was another Dom with spiky black hair and a yellow t-shirt.
The juniors were quick to back down, but the newcomer paid more attention to Ryoma. He met those purple eyes squarely, not intimidated even as the older male challenged him to a match.
The Dom was injured, he realized a step into their match. He could tell from the earlier smash that the older male was good—or at least better than the other juniors. But since he was injured, Ryoma kept to his right hand.
The match was stopped soon after. Ryoma let it go. He'd rather play someone when they were at full strength anyway.
He changed and then headed home, a little more optimistic about the tennis club now that he knew someone like that Dom was on it. His dad didn't like to do smashes, so Ryoma didn't have a lot of experience playing against that kind of raw strength. He hoped to get the chance to play against the junior again, once his ankle had healed.
Taiga waited for him at the house their parents had rented for them. Ryoma greeted him, bending down to pet Karupin. His Himalayan spotted cat purred, before bounding back to the food Taiga had already laid out for him.
"How was practice?" Taiga asked, reaching over to ruffle Ryoma's hair.
Ryoma ducked away with a scowl. "Fine."
Taiga raised an eyebrow, laying out dinner for the both of them. "Anyone bother you?"
Ryoma shrugged. "Not really." He ate, until Taiga's pointed silence made him say more. "Nothing I couldn't handle." He looked away. "The regulars were gone. Practice will be better when they get back." He couldn't be sure of that, of course, but it would appease Taiga.
"I suppose." Taiga finished his dinner and put his plate in the sink. "I didn't get to play much today, so I'm going to find a nearby street court and shoot some hoops. Will you be okay?"
Taiga ruffled his hair, this time getting it before Ryoma could duck away. "Wash the dishes, okay?"
He watched Taiga change and leave. A part of him wanted to follow Taiga, maybe practice some smashes against the other side of the court, but he'd been told to do the dishes. Taiga was a little stressed, he could tell. They were all alone in an unfamiliar country. He'd wait a little bit before letting himself get on Taiga's nerves, even if but accidentally.
Karupin meowed and Ryoma smiled. "I'll play with you a bit first," he said. The dishes could wait a little while longer.
Taiga stared at the blue-haired sub. He'd wondered if Kuroko's lack of smell was something special, but after the one-on-one they'd just played… he was rethinking that. Kuroko was just plain bad at basketball. It frustrated Taiga, because he'd expected something more. He wasn't sure why, but then he never had been good at self-reflection.
"I'm a shadow," Kuroko said, stopping Taiga cold.
"I don't get you," Taiga said honestly. If Kuroko were a Dom, he'd say something along the lines of give up—because Kuroko would never be amazing at basketball. But he couldn't begrudge the boy for wanting to play, so he said nothing.
The next day, he was glad he hadn't, because he didn't like being proven wrong and Kuroko's passing skills were better than anyone he knew.
Later, at the fast food place, he sat down with Ryoma. "It's crazy," he said. "This kid, he's basically a ghost. I didn't notice him at all, until he had the ball. But when he passed, it was like nothing I'd ever seen."
Ryoma took another bite of his burger, saying nothing.
"Are you listening at all?"
Ryoma blinked and looked up. "What were you talking about?"
Taiga gave an aggravated sigh. "Ryoma."
"No you're not, brat."
Ryoma shrugged. "You were being boring. So what if that player surprised you or whatever. If he's good, he'll keep showing it, that's all."
Taiga blinked. "Ah… I guess you're right." The brat, he was listening after all.
Ryoma stood. "I'm gonna go feed Karupin."
"Yeah. I'll be home soon. I just want to throw some hoops for a bit."
Ryoma gave him a look saying he knew, obviously. Taiga supposed he wouldn't have gone to leave without him if he hadn't.
Taiga grabbed another burger. He watched Ryoma leave, and then turned his gaze back in front. Blue hair met his gaze.
"Wah!" Taiga jumped. Kuroko was sitting at the next table. He stood and walked over to that table. "How long have you been here?"
"I was here before you," Kuroko said blandly. "Who was that you were with?"
"Echizen Ryoma. He goes to Seirin too. Class 1-B." Taiga sat down across from Kuroko. "Is that yours?"
"No. I'm in C with you."
"What?" Taiga blinked. "I… didn't know."
Kuroko sipped his milkshake without saying anything in reply.
Taiga blushed suddenly, remembering he'd been talking about Kuroko for the last half hour. "Did you hear what we were saying?"
"You were speaking in English."
"Oh." Taiga supposed they had been. He and Ryoma tended to, when it was just the two of them. He grabbed a burger and tossed it at Kuroko. "I don't like weak players but you deserve it, after today."
Taiga smiled, recognizing the tone. They were different, Ryoma and Kuroko, but they had the same voice when they were surprised. Not too obvious, either of them, just a slight extra lit to their voices.
Taiga stayed silent as they both finished eating. He was used to comfortable silence. Ryoma wasn't a big talker and he only really talked when he had something on his mind.
They finished around the same time and Taiga found himself walking Kuroko out. They crossed the street together and then Kuroko turned to him, as if sensing Taiga wanted to say something.
"I've heard about the Generation of Miracles," Taiga said. "To think, Japan has players like that." He grinned. "Tell me, if I played them right now, who'd win?"
"You'd be crushed," Kuroko said. "As you are now, Kagami-san, you wouldn't even reach their feet."
Taiga almost took a step backwards from the utter conviction in Kuroko's eyes. He didn't want to, because he hadn't shown Kuroko his full power yet, but yet he still believed him.
"I've decided," Kuroko said then. "You can't beat them alone, but the darker the shadow, the brighter the light. I'll be your shadow, Kagami-kun. I'll make you number one in Japan. We'll beat the Generation of Miracles together."
Syuusuke was happy to return to school. The practice match had been boring, however much it was supposed to be a warm-up for the team. After all, the District Tournament was very quickly approaching.
But before then would be the Ranking Tournament. Eiji was certain none of the regulars would change, but until Syuusuke saw the freshmen he would keep his own opinion open. After all, Tetsuya was likely to become a regular on the basketball team. There was nothing saying there wasn't a similarly scary freshman for the tennis team.
Oishi set them up to start some training while Kunimitsu went over things with Ryuuzaki. The kindly vice captain as always, Oishi wasted no time in telling the freshmen they could find open courts and play for a bit.
Oishi began to lob balls in their direction. It was easy practice, just hitting the ball back into the basket. So easy, in fact, that Syuusuke put his attention on subtly observing the freshmen rather than the exercise. As such, he almost missed the ball when it was his turn.
"Fuji, you were one step too late," Oishi said.
Syuusuke nodded, knowing that already. The words were Oishi's way of reminding him to pay attention and he took the reprimand easily.
Then Oishi lobbed one too high. "Oops," he said. Syuusuke knew better, seeing the pinpoint accuracy of the ball heading toward one particular freshman. Earlier, Momo had excitedly told them about the freshmen he'd played while they were gone and Syuusuke had found himself interested. Oishi too, apparently.
Echizen looked at the ball and then set himself up. He easily smashed the ball back toward Oishi, hitting the basket.
"Ah," the sub said. "It's actually pretty easy."
Syuusuke let his smile widen. The boy was snarky.
Before anyone could say anything, Kunimitsu came on the court and got everyone in order. Syuusuke let his attention be caught back on the man he'd been entranced with since he first met him. Halfway through practice, he found himself at Kunimitsu's side, watching Eiji and Oishi do some basic doubles practice.
"Have you figured out the match ups for the Ranking Tournament?" Syuusuke asked softly.
Kunimitsu shook his head.
"You could let Echizen play."
"I will not show favor."
Syuusuke took a step closer. He saw that some of the freshmen were watching them. It was rare to see two Doms so physically close. It was so easy for it to become a territorial dispute. Doms were naturally wary of other Doms getting in their space, most seeing it as an intimidation technique.
Not Syuusuke and Kunimitsu though. Because Syuusuke had never been normal, finding it too boring, and when he'd realized the crush he was developing on Kunimitsu a year before he hadn't worried about how people would perceive him. It wasn't that he was gay, that he was a Dom who only wanted to submit to other Doms. It was just, he didn't mind the thought of submitting to Kunimitsu—but only because it was Tezuka Kunimitsu. If people didn't understand that, well it wasn't on him to correct them.
"It's not exactly showing favor. He'll have to win on his own talent."
Kunimitsu glanced at him. "He interests you."
Kunimitsu didn't talk to him again for the rest of practice. Syuusuke wondered if he was jealous. He'd pushed and pushed, of course, but Kunimitsu had never been obvious if he was interested in Syuusuke back. Syuusuke had but one more year to ensnare Kunimitsu. He wouldn't give up yet.
Practice ended officially, but Syuusuke stayed behind as Kunimitsu headed up to finalize the Ranking schedule. The regulars rarely went home when practice officially ended and some of the more determined non-regulars were the same.
Over to the side, Syuusuke noticed Arai attempting to mess with Echizen.
"Should we stop them?" Oishi asked, worried.
"Let's see how he handles it," Syuusuke said and Oishi backed down, because as much as he was the official vice-captain, everyone knew Syuusuke was the second-most alpha Dom in the club.
The wooden racket was far too old to truly play with. Syuusuke opened his eyes in interest as he saw Echizen create bounce by twisting his own body. He was smart, the boy.
Syuusuke saw out of the corner of his eye as Oishi left, likely to go get Kunimitsu to stop this. He didn't mind. Arai was pushing it with his taunts, especially against a sub.
And yet, and yet Echizen was winning. With a sly smirk on his face, the freshman hit ball after ball past Arai.
Syuusuke looked up and saw a stranger standing outside the courts. His bright red hair was similar to Eiji's, if shorter. His eyes were fixed on Echizen. Syuusuke wondered who he was.
Echizen won. Arai began to threaten the boy, only to be pulled back by some of the other juniors. Syuusuke watched the red-haired Dom glare at Arai from behind the fence.
Oishi returned and told them all Tezuka had assigned laps. Syuusuke wasn't surprised. He ran with Eiji, keeping an eye on Echizen several paces ahead of them. Most of the freshmen and juniors fled as soon as they'd finished their laps. Oishi and Eiji wandered away, saying something about a promised ice cream date.
The redhead remained, watching Arai. Syuusuke fell into step beside Echizen as the sub was given back his rackets from the juniors. They seemed nervous at Syuusuke's presence and apologized to Echizen profusely for the prank.
"That Dom has been watching you," Syuusuke said, nodding his head to where the redhead had corner Arai in the corner of the courts.
Echizen pulled at his cap. "Aa."
"Should I tell the captain?"
Echizen gave him a surprised look.
"We take care of our own." Syuusuke kept his smile kind.
"It's fine," Echizen said.
Syuusuke looked up as Kunimitsu came back on the court. He gestured discreetly. Kunimitsu walked toward them. "Problem?" he asked shortly.
"The Dom over there was watching our new freshmen," Syuusuke said, knowing Kunimitsu knew him well enough to hear the hint of steel in his voice.
Arai bowed and practically ran away from the redhead. The Dom scratched the back of his head, and then saw the three of them watching him. He headed over to them.
"Why are you here?" Echizen asked bluntly.
"Why do you think?" The Dom reached forward and pulled Echizen to him. Echizen didn't struggle, easily letting himself be tucked under the redhead's arms. "Only a couple days in and you're already making trouble."
"It wasn't me!" Echizen protested, sounding more animated than Syuusuke had heard him thus far.
Kunimitsu cleared his throat. "Only tennis players are allowed on the courts."
"Ah, sorry." The redhead bowed slightly. "Are you two regulars?"
"We are," Syuusuke said. "I am Fuji Syuusuke and this is our captain, Tezuka Kunimitsu."
"Kagami Taiga. I'm Ryoma's guardian."
"Not his boyfriend?" Syuusuke asked.
Kagami gave him a long look. "No."
"I wouldn't date him," Echizen protested at the same time, pulling himself away from Kagami. "You didn't have to come. I had it handled."
Kagami didn't look at Echizen, just tugged on his cap. Surprisingly, Echizen went silent. "I didn't mean to interfere, but I saw someone messing with Ryoma and I couldn't just let that go."
"I understand," Kunimitsu said. "The ones involved will be reprimanded."
"Buchou suffers no hazing on this team," Syuusuke added.
Kagami relaxed slightly. "Good." He looked to Echizen. "Come on, we should head home."
"Fine." Echizen followed after Kagami, not even sparing Syuusuke or Kunimitsu a glance.
Syuusuke looked at Kunimitsu. "He interests you too," he said, once they were out of earshot.
Kunimitsu raised an eyebrow at him. "He's all yours."
"It's not him I want to be mine, Kunimitsu."
Kunimitsu froze just briefly, but enough for Syuusuke to notice. "We are third years now, Fuji. It's time for you to stop this teasing."
Syuusuke opened his eyes, frowning. He hadn't realized Kunimitsu had misinterpreted him so much. "I'm not teasing. I want you."
"You want me to kneel for you."
"Never. I know you well enough."
Kunimitsu looked at him for a long moment. One of the things Syuusuke loved most about him was how brilliant he was. It didn't take him long to understand.
Syuusuke knelt, because he knew it was a test. And because he didn't care if all the tennis team walked back to the court and saw him kneeling for their captain. His heartbeat was so loud in his chest with the possibility he was finally, finally getting what he'd dreamed about.
Kunimitsu let out a soft breath and gently placed a hand on his head. "I was wrong."
That was all the apology Syuusuke was going to get for the year Kunimitsu had made him wait. It was more than enough.
"I would have waited longer."
Syuusuke thought maybe he did.
Kunimitsu held out a hand and Syuusuke took it, letting Kunimitsu pull him up. He swayed gently into Kunimitsu's space.
"I need to think," Kunimitsu said, even as he placed a warm hand on the back of Syuusuke's neck.
Kunimitsu continued to look at him, and then he leaned down and pressed a soft kiss to Syuusuke's lips. Syuusuke kissed him back, just as softly, with just as much wonder.
Kunimitsu pulled back. "Go home."
"I'll talk to you tomorrow?"
Syuusuke walked home with a true smile on his face.
Tetsuya wanted to be surprised to see Kise at Seirin's practice—but he wasn't. He and Kise had been not exactly allies, but along with Momoi they'd certainly banded together against the domineering ways of the other Miracles on more than one occasion. Still, he was a member of Seigaku now, not Teikou.
Like always, with Kise came his fans. Doms, Switches, and subs all loved him—either because of a fantasy of him kneeling at their feet or because he was a role model. Beautiful, smart, athletic, and not afraid to show his emotions, Kise was the perfect sub.
Tetsuya also knew that Kise hated that distinction, but while he would turn Doms away he never failed to sign autographs for the subs who looked up to him.
Kise finished signing autographs and hopped off the stage. He wore a light grey suit, making Tetsuya think he'd just come from a modeling meeting. He wondered how Kise was doing at his new school, if they teased him for being a model as much as Aomine used to.
"Kise Ryouta," he introduced to the team. One of the other freshmen began to read aloud from an article. As he talked, Tetsuya remembered those early days, when he was Kise's mentor in basketball.
"We'll show them together, right Kurokochhi?" Kise had said. "We'll show them that subs can be just as good, no, that we can be better at basketball!"
Except Kise had forgotten like promise, like Aomine, like Akashi. He'd left Kuroko behind. Left their old way of basketball behind.
When Kise said that they'd been best friends, Tetsuya couldn't help but say, "No more than anyone else," because he had been, in the end.
"So mean, Kurokocchi!" Kise fake-cried.
Tetsuya just stared at him, silently demanding Kise get to the point, except one of the freshmen, Furihata was his name Tetsuya thought, stepped forward.
"I just want to say, Kise-san, I really admire you! You're the reason I knew I could do basketball, even though I'm a sub!"
"Ah." Kise looked embarrassed. "Don't let anyone say you can't be anything you want. If they do, you just have to prove them wrong." He laughed, breaking the suddenly serious mood. "I mean, the others used to tease me and Kurokocchi for being subs all the time."
"That never happened to me."
"What? It was just me?" Kise fake-cried again.
Kagami interjected then, taunting Kise into some one-on-one. Tetsuya watched them, surprised despite himself when Kise copied the move Kagami had done just a few minutes before he'd interrupted their practice.
"I don't know that person," he said, and he meant it. He thought he'd known Kise once, but he'd learned over the last few months that perhaps he never really knew the Generation of Miracles at all.
"Give us Kurokocchi," Kise said. He held out his hand. "Come play with me again."
"No," Tetsuya said, strong and sure even in the face of someone who didn't question what he could do, who already knew how to utilize his skills. "Besides, I promised Kagami-kun that we'd defeat the Generation of Miracles together."
And maybe he'd added the –kun to Kagami's name on purpose, because he'd known Kise would get it. In one look, a challenge, a plea, and the beginning of an apology was place. Tetsuya wouldn't, couldn't accept it. Not yet.
Not until he beat Kise. Until he showed Kise what it felt like to lose. What he'd started to feel every time their opponents crumbled before the terrifying force of the Generation of Miracles.
After Kise left, Hyuuga stepped forward. "I'm glad to see you our freshmen getting along," he said. "But you won't defeat the Generation of Miracles alone." He put his hand forward, palm up. "We're with you."
"Together, we'll be the best in Japan," Riko said, placing her hand on top of Hyuuga's.
Tetsuya thought, in that moment, as they all stepped forward and put their hands on top of each other, that he'd made the right decision in choosing Seirin.
Later that night, he knocked on Syuusuke's door.
"Something wrong, Tetsuya?" Syuusuke asked.
"Kise came to Seirin's practice today."
Syuusuke opened his eyes, the look in them was dark. "What did he do?"
Tetsuya shrugged. "Asked for me to play with him again." He looked away. "Syuusuke, I made a promise with Kagami."
"Ah, he's another freshman. He wanted to defeat the Generation of Miracles. I promised him I'd help him become the best in Japan."
"The team promised too. We're going to defeat them together. At least, we're going to try." He fixed his gaze on the floor. "I know you didn't want me interacting with the Miracles much again but… I think I can fix things. Maybe. If I try. For some of them, at least."
Syuusuke watched him for a moment, before nodding. "I'll trust you in this. But Tetsuya, if it gets too much I'm stepping in. I won't let you be hurt again."
Tetsuya smiled. "Thanks for trusting me."
Later, Tetsuya mused, he would ask why Syuusuke had looked so happy throughout dinner. He might also ask about why Syuusuke's eyes had flickered when he'd mentioned Kagami. But for now, he was content with his new determination, and with the knowledge that he was among a team who could make a difference.