This is probably an early birthday present for me. I apologize for grammar mistakes, too.

Edit Wow. I didn't realize the dashes disappeared while putting this up. I'm so sorry; the transactions must have been hella confusing and annoying to read through.


i.

You had a dream a long time ago, back when you first heard the high pitched squeaking of basketball shoes skidding on the polished, sweaty floor, the dribbling of the ball, and the violent cheering of the crowd whenever there was a swish. Your eyes widened with awe, and that was the first time your usual expression has changed in what seemed like forever to a kid, so the first thought to have come up was to try this out for yourself.

You realize you can't do this yourself because you didn't bring a basketball, but there is a lone boy at the court you have arrived at, playing energetically and shooting after some dribbles. You're in a trance again, and he notices you. You're given a smile, and you know you made your first proper friend that day.

Ogiwara Shigehiro—you decide to call him Ogiwara-kun—teaches you everything he knows, from dribbling to shooting. You're not that good, and you don't have the talent like he does, but he's patient with you all the way and you smile (albeit small, but you're taking baby steps), thinking to yourself that you have found your happiness in life. Nothing else provided you more joy than playing with Ogiwara-kun and buying Chu Chu Pops with each and every meeting.

"We'll become the best basketball players ever!" Ogiwara-kun says every time before you two practice. And then he adds, "Together!" You nod, and believe that yourself.

In your game of pretend with your friend, you imagine your opponents marking you, and you make a pass to Ogiwara-kun, who jumps as high as possible and scores with a layup. He throws a fist in the air, and you are sure you hear the buzz that sounds when baskets are made, and you throw a fist too because that buzz sounds for you and Ogiwara-kun.

You two made the most unstoppable team. You decide from then on that you like being a part of a team more than being by yourself.

[-]

You see the pink-haired, basketball team manager staring at the boys in the convenience store eating popsicles with envy, so you decide to go up to her and hand her your winning popsicle stick. You didn't think she would have fallen for you right there and then, but you don't mind that she did.

(Her smile is cute, anyway.)

ii.

You become to be known as the sixth man, Kuroko Tetsuya. You are fourteen years old, enrolled in class 2-B, and now a member of the first string in the Teikou basketball team after much sweat and blood (and vomit) had poured out from your thin body. It's a miracle that you're in, you tell yourself, but Aomine-kun and Momoi-san had always believed in you and knew you would somehow make it to the top. Aomine-kun says that no one else deserved this more than you.

From that point on, you join the motley, dysfunctional yet familial group—the Generation of Miracles—that you have respected and admired for so long. Momoi-san is glad you did. You are glad that you did, too.

[-]

The days roll by, maybe too quickly. You realize this when you see the horrifying aura of boredom slithering into your friends, one by one. You have realized this ever since that once pure smile on Aomine-kun's face cracked, turning him into a lifeless monster that plays with no burning passion, but the truth fully hits you when you realize you can no longer exchange novel titles with Akashi-kun; when you can no longer randomly inquire Midorima-kun about Aquarius' rank; when you can no longer hand your extra snacks to Murasakibara-kun and receive a pat on the head from him; when you can no longer sit with Kise-kun and listen to his idle chatter during lunch; when you can no longer pass to Aomine-kun.

The only one person you still talk to is Momoi-san, and during practice you sit next to her on the bench and watch her lips shape into that of a sad smile.

"Fun times always come to an end." The words reflect her lonely eyes, and she continues, "It's sad, isn't it, Tetsu-kun?"

Cracks are not meant to be fixed, you think to yourself. There are tears pricking at the ends of Momoi-san's once bright pink eyes, and you feel your heart shatter at the sight.

It was the worst for Momoi-san, who has been with the Generation of Miracles from the start and has seen them coming together as this eccentric group, and who is now seeing that all crumble in front of her eyes.

She cries eventually. You squeeze her hand with false hope, but she already knows that the friendship of the Generation of Miracles is completely broken and gone. You know that she knows, and she only cries harder.

[-]

Maybe it was fate that results in you finding the ID card of one of the passing high school students. Maybe it was also fate that Momoi-san was told to go with you to the stadium where the high school matches were held so that you could return it. The two of you haven't really spoken since that day so there is only silence keeping you both company, but you walk closely to her because you have missed her clinging to your side.

When you step inside, the memory of you playing with Ogiwara-kun for the first time plays in your mind. There is a rhythmic beat of basketball shoes skidding on the stadium floor, the beat that you have missed listening to; there are teammates' names being shouted left and right, back and forth, on court; there is cheering heard when a swish of the basket is made. Your eyes widen and your mouth opens up, both clearly showing off awe, and you show the most emotion in your usual deadpan, baby blue eyes.

When was the last time your team has played like this? Was this always how basketball games sounded? It has been so long, so you have genuinely forgotten.

"They look like they're having fun," Momoi-san whispers, and you turn to her to see if she's awestruck too.

She isn't much, but there is a small smile on her face. This time the smile is real, you notice.

"Yes, they do," you agree wholeheartedly.

You are reminded once again of your love for basketball. There is now a small glimmer of hope flickering in your heart, saying that there is still time for Teikou to play a true match once again. You hope it continues to remain and not die down, and you think that maybe you will get to play as a team with the Generation of Miracles again.

Momoi-san shyly takes your hand on the way back. Your hands are still connected when the two of you return to your teammates.

[-]

You were dead wrong, and you will never be able to forget the shattered expression on Ogiwara-kun's face when he looked at you with those tearful eyes. You know it will haunt you.

You cry openly that day, and you decide to quit the sport you have loved for so long and now have come to hate.

[-]

You reminisce of your time with Ogiwara-kun in bed that night, and you realize that he had stopped adding "together" to the pre-practice sentence a week before you entered Teikou. Ogiwara-kun had always known that the most fun activities always came with a price, you also realize. You proved that just fine at the finals when the last face you see of your childhood friend is his tear-covered one. Your forearm slaps your eyes and you try so hard to clear the image from your mind. It doesn't go away.

Momoi-san's words repeat in your mind: "Fun times always come to an end; it's sad, isn't it, Tetsu-kun?"

You try calling Ogiwara-kun to apologize (you finally have the courage to do so), and it's the first time you ever do call him first. He doesn't answer, and he never does.

[-]

(You understand Momoi-san's feelings now. She's scared that the most precious times she has had with you, Aomine-kun, Kise-kun, Midorima-kun, Murasakibara-kun, and Akashi-kun will disappear for good. She has been scared the most, and you added onto her pain by lying to her.

You still remember the tears that fell from her once bright eyes freshly in your mind. They prevent you from sleeping, and you know you deserve it. No popsicle stick is going to fix this. Way to go, Tetsu-kun, you tell yourself. Even crying doesn't allow you to sleep.)

iii.

You silently hope that she would follow you to the high school you picked, but she had a stupid childhood friend to take care of, yet you still looked around the Seirin's entrance ceremony hoping to catch a glimpse of pink hair anywhere. You know it was the worst for her because she had to see it—her joyous memories with you and the Generation of Miracles—all crumble in front of her eyes, and she wished the most that everything would return to those cherishing times when the downfall hit, and you know your quitting the basketball team for the remainder of the year after the tournament took a toll on her.

Because she saw the team play in the high school division alongside you, you thought she would choose Seirin High and experience the teamwork she longed to see and be a part of again. You thought she would come with you, and you could apologize for hurting her like that and avoiding her when she didn't deserve your selfishness.

But Momoi-san didn't, but you do see her again in one of your training days. She still is cheery and outgoing, but that was now a facade and you notice the sentiment in her current smile, the smile that you have seen many times back from middle school, was long gone.

[-]

Kagami-kun is the most proud when you change your goal from making him to best to being the best with him and the rest of your most precious teammates. You're proud of yourself, too, because sharing the victory with everyone reminded you of that game of pretend you and Ogiwara-kun imagined up so long ago, and you ascertain that a victory should be shared as a team, just like how you and Ogiwara-kun had tag-teamed and won in every pretend match.

Aomine-kun reverts to his former self—you can see it in his eyes—and you finally get that fist bump you longed for and gain your friendship with him once more. (Though he returned it looking reluctant, you know he wasn't at all.) The Generation of Miracles is slowly returning, and you're becoming proud of your work—proud of your work with Seirin.

Momoi-san has tears in her eyes and her hands are clasped on her mouth when you look at her. She's crying, and she runs to you after the match is over. You're forcefully detached from Kagami-kun who was supporting your weak body, and you fall on the basketball court floor with Momoi-san on top of you but you notice that the fall didn't hurt at all.

"Thank you," she whispers, burying her head into the crook of your neck, and you smile despite her being unable to see it and affectionately pat her on the head. She keeps whispering the same two words for a while, and you continue to give her physical comfort.

No other words needed to be exchanged. She finally got to see the teamwork you share with your fated team, and she couldn't be happier for you and more proud of you.

The two of you were no longer wounded by the changed, individual play of Teikou, and instead blessed by the team play you both longed for since middle school. Your dream was granted through Seirin, and her dream was soon to be granted with Touhou.

"I will defeat the others, too," you promise her, "and everything will patch up."

She looks up at you and doesn't say anything, but you know she believes that you will in the end. You curl your pinky around hers to cement the promise, and she returns to you the smile that she seemed to have lost in the middle school days. It still suits her perfectly.