Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Kasamatsu wonders sometimes if headaches were ever an issue for him before Kise Ryota showed up in his life.

"Kise! Get back to work!" He exclaims, eye twitching in annoyance. It was always a kind of nervous habit, one that he thought he knocked in middle school. Well, nobody ever said working with a miracle would be easy, did they? Kise nods, and winks, but the vacancy in his eyes makes Kasamatsu groan under his breath. If he isn't going to listen, he doesn't need to make it so damn obvious!

"Of course, senpai!" Kise responds with a broad smile (Kasamatsu almost retches from the sweetness), inspiring his ever-present fangirls to take pictures.

Always with his head in the clouds. Kasamatsu sighs.

Dribbling absentmindedly, Kise rolls his shoulders and considers trying out a few new shooting forms; his other thoughts can be put on the back burner. It isn't like he's going to forget them. How anybody could forget anything about the miracle team is a mystery in and of itself.

"This year is sure to be fun," he hums under his breath, breaking around an invisible player before shooting. The anticipation he feels is almost unbearable. He wants to prove his worth, wants to prove his usefulness; he won't be the weakest anymore, not this time. He won't lose.

A memory boils over in his mind for a nanosecond. A girl, blue eyes decidedly blank and crystalline, clairvoyant, with hair of the same shade framing her face. It hangs around her in sweat-soaked strands. Victory isn't everything, Kise-kun. Remember that.

Kise pushes the thought under before it can fully develop. Nothing good will come from thinking about the past, after all. "I'll prove myself to you, Kurokocchi. I'll show you," he promises, shooting another ball with a gleam in his eyes.

Kasamatsu shakes his head when he sees Kise talking to himself. Just another day in paradise.

Kuroko stares at her seniors.

They have a nice setup; a folding table with cups of cool water, a few flyers rustling in the breeze. Their posture is confident but approachable. Of course, she has been watching them for a number of minutes, observing, but she's sure many others will notice their admirable recruiting attempt as well.

She hasn't introduced herself yet, doesn't really plan to; if they manage to spot her themselves, her introduction will be their reward. And if not, then there's no reason to send them into premature cardiac arrest.

"Riko, seriously, this is starting to get creepy," Hyuuga shivers, glancing around suspiciously. "I swear I feel someone watching us." Aida nods, scanning their surroundings with her sharp eyes. Nothing.

"Just ignore it, Junpei," Aida says with an air of finality. "It's probably just Izuki or Koga," she reasons, and the scowl that blooms on Hyuuga's face seems to darken the entire vicinity.

"If it is, I'll punch both of them in the head," he mutters. Kuroko remains still for another second, looking the two up and down one last time before slipping a sign up form out of the pile. There's a pen on the table, not a pencil, and there's something resolute about writing her information in permanent ink that solidifies her goal.

Middle school? Teikou. Goals? Play to the best of my ability. Why?

Why she wants to join isn't listed as a mandatory option, so Kuroko leaves the spot blank. She hopes the act is seen as modest instead of careless, but one can never be sure.

Kuroko places the pen back onto the table silently, along with her paper, which neither student seems to notice. Kuroko exhales hard, taking out her exasperation on the surrounding air.

As she walks away, a tingling feeling tugs on her spine, floods her senses with nostalgia, drags her out of her own mind.

She doesn't bother turning to face the presence; she traces back in her memory, places his characteristics with what she's seen. The red haired one, then, the one wearing a uniform two sizes too small with a frown like a scar across his face. His eyebrows were certainly something to be admired too, in her opinion.

Kuroko closes her eyes for a moment. He's an opportunity laid out in front of her. How can she possibly say no?

Aomine said he needed a rival. He left her to look for one as soon as her eyes turned to the rest of their team collapsing around her. In a way, she wishes she could be his rival, that she could be the one to drag him out of his self-made prison, but her attention is needed elsewhere. Murasakibara needs a lesson in kindness, and Akashi's arrogance borders on offensive rather than endearing.

But maybe he can cut her workload in half; give her a hand in supporting the weight of the world.

For now, Kuroko thinks she can ignore the fact that the red-haired enigma was dragging one of their seniors by the jacket.


Aida shakes her head ruefully while glancing at the papers in her hand. "Just a few more would've been nice," she comments with a sigh, before perking up. "But hey! That Kagami Taiga guy sure looks like something! A real ace in the making!"

Hyuuga nods in agreement, looking pensive. "Or a massive pain in my backside," he mutters under his breath, unwilling to be subjected to Aida's physical discipline.

Koganei pales. "Y-Yeah," he stammers. "He was great. Really fantastic."

By some miracle of fate, one lonely form on the table catches Hyuuga's eye. He snatches it up, pausing to flip it over a few times. "Ah, Riko, there's one left... all filled out and everything," Hyuuga says slowly, handing her the paper.

Surprised, Aida scans the sheet quickly. "Kuroko... Tetsuki? Odd name," she mentions, before freezing. "Junpei," she says, breathless, "this kid went to that school. This kid went to Teikou." Immediately, the small collection of players hush. The weight of Teikou's legacy hangs heavily in the air, memories of games gone wrong forcibly retold. "I can't remember anybody from Teikou," Aida continues. "Why can't I remember them?"

Hyuuga shrugs. "I know they have a reputation, but think about it," he says. "That name doesn't belong to one of the Miracles, so the kid never even got to play in a game. They're sure to have the technical skills because... well, because of Teikou, but let's not get our hopes up."

Aida sighs, but nods in agreement after deliberating. The group walks towards the school, their swooping laughs heard from miles away.

The first practice for the Seirin High School Boy's Basketball Team begins with the newest hopefuls standing in two lines, some rigid and nervous, others confident and stretching with anticipation. Some even know each other from previous years of schooling, chatting and laughing before their inevitable evaluation.

"I always hate getting placed," one whispers, shaking his head with a frown. "Why can't we all just play equal amounts?"

His friend rolls his eyes. "Because the people who are better have to play more often to beat better teams. You think either of us stand a chance against schools like Seihou or Kaijou?"

"I guess not," the first agrees. "At least we have the manager to look at," he adds, wiggling his eyebrows. "She's pretty hot. You think she's much older than us?"

The other looks Aida up and down, then shrugs. "I don't know. And yeah, she's cute, but I wish she were a little bit... I dunno, sexier?"

Hyuuga can barely stop himself from violently reacting to their words - Aida Riko has been a fantastic friend to him, the kind of support system that kept Seirin running after they all wanted to crash. She doesn't deserve to be told that she needs to look sexier, even if her chest is a little flat. Then again, if he punches them, she'd probably hit him for 'taking care of her problems for her'.

He settles on a happy medium, and smacks the two on the head warningly.

"Shut up," he grumbles, before nodding at Aida. His friend nods back, then smiles, eyes trailing over each of the attendees. He wonders why she bothers putting up a mask of sweetness every year if she's just going to drop it every year and make the team suffer through weeks of conditioning.

"Hello!" She gives a tiny wave to the assembled group, "My name is Aida Riko, and I'm your new basketball coach! Today is more of an appraisal to see if you're tough enough for the team, so if you feel the need to give up, it's fine!" Her eyes sharpen, "...but you don't belong on this team."

"What if we really need to stop?" The first year who asks looks cocky, and Hyuuga scowls. Aida turns toward the asker.

"I'm not going to punish you for doing your best," she responds cooly, "but trust me, I will know if you quit because you don't feel like working anymore. And on this basketball team, we don't want any quitters."

A dull silence fills the gym. Aida smiles again.

"Great! Now, all of you should take off your shirts!"

The silence suddenly turns uncomfortable, most of the new students horrified simply because why should they have to strip?

Hyuuga looks and the ceiling and rubs his temples; he and the other veteran players only have the bluntness of Aida's words to be horrified by at this point.

Kagami Taiga, unlike many of those around him, has no problem with taking off his shirt. The gym is full of people, and the air is a disgusting kind of sticky that reminds him of walking through fog. Plus, he's worked hard to be as good at basketball as he is; his body shows his years of training, if that's what the coach wants to see. Why argue when he doesn't really care?

Slowly, others begin to take their shirts off, and Aida scans over their forms and numbers with keen, well trained eyes. Eyes that somehow flit straight over a certain female.

Absentmindedly, she points out a few flaws in their bodies as she always does, processing the information in her head as she relays it; one day she'll be better than her father, and be able to process people's stats better than her old man ever could. But for now it's all she can do to keep up with herself and her mind, rapidly pointing and relaying to each player what they need to do to improve.

Then she sees him.

As soon as Aida's eyes reach Kagami, her jaw drops. He's... is there anything I can really correct? This must be what they mean when they say basketball genius... everything about him is perfectly honed to the sport! It's amazing!

"Riko! How long you gonna stare!" Hyuuga shouts, breaking the sharp eyed girl out of her reverie. At least she has the decency to blush slightly, though not enough to be apologetic.

"Sorry," she says with a shrug, looking at her clipboard with an unhappy face. "Has anybody seen... Kuroko Tetsuki?" She asks, looking around, and Hyuuga snaps as he recalls the significance of the name.

"Ah! You mean that kid from Teikou!" He exclaims, and many eyes in the sea of first years widen.

Kagami has to hold back a laugh after glancing around the room. Such an enormous reaction, with the mention of... what? A school? What's so scary and imposing about school? Maybe he missed something, while he was in the U.S. Not to mention the fact that if the student is coming from this 'Teikou', it's gotta be a middle school. What honestly happens in middle school that holds any significance?

"Woah, Teikou? As in the Teikou? As in the unbeatable, powerhouse driven Teikou?!" One student hisses, and another nods excitedly.

"I heard that if they lost a single game, all the regulars were to be removed and replaced! Just like that!" Another adds, and a snort is generated by another.

"Please, their regular team was made up of them. Do you think they would lose a game anyway?"

The comments stack up in Kagami's mind, each one raising his interest. A middle school so strong it's virtually worshiped throughout Japan? He wants to play them. He needs to play them. A spark of determination skips in Kagami's heart.

"Aw," Aida pouts, "I guess he couldn't make it today..." she mumbles, and suddenly, a new voice interrupts.

"No, I could make it. I am Kuroko Tetsuki," it says, and all eyes turn to the end of the first line, where Aida is absolutely sure that nobody was standing a moment before. A first year yelps, and the second years all look about ready to faint. "I apologize if I scared you. It was not my intention."

Aida blinks a few times, looking at the girl with newfound surprise. So... person... this Teikou veteran... is a girl? I heard rumors about something like this, but I chalked them up to the creative minds of children; rumors spread by the losing teams! Nobody in the audience ever reported seeing anything!

"Ah," Aida says, flipping to Kuroko's name in her organized clipboard. Well, might as well handle the situation as best she can, right? She is a professional, after all. "Can you take off your shirt, please?" She asks bluntly, and a wild blush covers everybody's faces, particularly Kagami and poor, poor, Mitobe, who looks about ready to pass out after just finally recovering from his fright.

"Riko!" Hyuuga shouts, pushing up his glasses nervously, but Kuroko just shrugs it off and strips her shirt.

Aida thanks the heavens that she's well covered (yeah, maybe she could've thought that out a little better...); she has on a sports bra, and with a tinge of jealousy she realizes that although her chest isn't that impressive (she's probably a solid c cup), it's still better than her own. Shaking her head to clear her mind of any possible jealous thoughts, she inspects the girl's body.

It's clear that she has good stamina; no, she has fantastic stamina, and her arms, though not layered with muscle upon muscle like Kagami Taiga's, are quite capable of doing some damage. Her calves are impressively well toned, her muscles are built up in a strange way, in a way not perfectly consistent with most other basketball players.

She has the correct muscles built to play basketball, for sure, and from what Aida can see, her blood pressure and blood sugar levels are perfectly healthy. However, she also has the muscles meant for gymnastics or dance, the kind of muscles that build flexibility and allow quick adaptation. It's no doubt that this girl has all the correct qualities to have been part of the legendary Teikou.

But Hyuuga's words stew in the back of her mind. If she wasn't in the Generation of Miracles, she never would've played in an actual game. Was she going to be a strong player with zero actual game experience? She can feel headache brewing. Teikou really set all of us high school coaches up with a bad situation, huh?

"You can put your shirt back on now," she mumbles, and Kuroko nods, doing so. Now isn't the time to wonder. I can tell that she's capable enough, and with these two first years... and our current team... we might be able to take the Interhigh, and the Winter Cup! No... we have to take the Interhigh and Winter Cup, for Teppei!

"Okay, everybody! Now that I've seen your stats, our official training and practices will begin tomorrow! For today, we'll just be doing a few drills, practicing dribbling, shooting forms, offense, and defense! Let's go!"

Kagami's heart races with giddy excitement as he takes a savage bite of one of his burgers, ignoring the other patrons at Maji with practiced accuracy. In the locker rooms after practice, he had approached a few of his fellow classmates, and they had explained the entirety of the Teikou debacle to him.

I didn't know people like them existed in Japan!

"What are you thinking about, Kagami-kun?" The voice manifests out of thin air, and a piece of food lodges itself in Kagami's throat as he inhales in surprise. After coughing and hacking up a lung, Kagami glares across the table in shock to see...


His eyes narrow. "Oi! You didn't have to scare me like that! Next time, announce yourself before you give me a heart attack!" He exclaims, almost defensive, but the girl's reaction isn't nearly as apologetic as it should be.

She takes a long sip of whatever drink she seems to be enjoying so much. "Sorry. I didn't mean to startle you; I was merely curious, Kagami-kun. My name is Kuroko Tetsuki."

She's an odd one, Kagami can tell already. Even if their current interaction wasn't so compromising, he'd seen enough of her during the Seirin practice to know that there was something fundamentally strange about her in general.

He'd kept a watchful eye on her after she declared herself present to the coach, not liking the idea that some kid could sneak past his defenses so easily. It's not arrogance making him worried, either, or even skepticism. Just the idea that his instincts won't alert him to the presence of another person is slightly nauseating.

As if that isn't enough, she doesn't smell like anything. There's no strength or power, but no trace of weakness either. Only crisp, clean blankness.

Kagami snorts, playing his ruffled feathers off as annoyance.

"Being sorry doesn't excuse you from almost killing me," he grunts, pointing at her with his eyebrows raised. Her facial expression shows no sign of discontent or fear, though, and his respect (when did he start measuring that for her?) rises minutely. His face lights up. "Hey, can you hang around for a bit after this?" He asks, gesturing at his tray, and Kuroko nods slowly.

He grins. Maybe basketball in Japan won't be so bad after all.


Kuroko really can't say she didn't see his challenge coming.

The darkness of the night around them isn't yet overwhelming, and she feels herself slinking into the shadows out of instinct. After all, for most of her basketball career, her motto has been out of sight, out of mind, in the clear. Sometimes she wonders if she made the right choice by taking the high road.

"I came to Japan to play basketball, and I can honestly say that I've been appalled by the level most people consider decent so far," Kagami speaks passionately, and Kuroko breaks from her reverie, acting like she heard the beginning of his spiel. Oh, well. At any rate, she doubts he'll expect her to memorize his words for later use. "But I can tell that you're different. You don't smell strong or weak; you don't smell like anything at all. But I saw you at practice! You're good."

"Thank you, Kagami-kun. I think that every girl likes to be told that they don't smell," Kuroko responds, and a tiny smile works its way onto Kagami's face. He tosses her the ball, which she catches easily with one hand.

"A one-on-one," Kagami announces. "First person to ten points wins, alright?" He asks, and Kuroko nods in confirmation. She briefly contemplates what to do; she's measured his strength. He wasn't the only one who could make observations. And if she plays him now, most paths lead to his destruction.

Kuroko Tetsuki has had enough of bringing players down.

She dribbles the ball steadily, slowly, at a measured rate. Stable. Kagami's eyes zone in on the rhythm she creates, and Kuroko walks forward with perfectly paced steps, carrying the same rhythm. Her wide, observant blue eyes continually track her opponent. There's an easy way to tell when people get caught in her trap, all she has to do is look in their eyes - the maddening focus in their expression is enough to tell that they've narrowed their perspective enough for her to break away, unstoppable.

There are other ways to tell too, of course, but the eyes are the fastest.

Kagami has already been caught up in her easy pace. She'll need to work with him on that.

After practicing with the team of monsters from the school Teikou, it seems childishly easy to trap others in her web.

With easy fluidity that most others expect only from Aomine Daiki (his partner needs to be just as good, invisible or not), she spins, pushing the basketball in her hand with her middle finger, keeping it airborne for just the right amount of time.

When she's playing against such an enthusiastic competitor, it's easy to forget her conflicted feelings for her once beloved sport. Almost too easy. But the rushing sound of blood in her ears and the chill running just past her shoulders as she breaks away is a simple thing to get caught up in; it's only later that regret and realization will catch up to her.

She finds herself enjoying the game anyway, despite such knowledge.


Kagami's eyes widen as he reaches out to grab the ball. Kuroko pushes it down with an easy flick of her finger, before running forward with unwarranted speed. Kagami pushes his legs, eyes wide. Dammit, she's fast!

She grabs the ball with her right hand, swinging her arm wildly, and Kagami slides to a stop after seeing her 'shooting' form for the first time. He's seen her doing normal threes, sure, and she was already astounding. But... how the hell...

"How the hell did you do that?" Kagami asks in wonder, and Kuroko pivots to face him.

She hadn't changed her body at all, simply flung the ball in a seemingly random way, directing the ball in the general direction of the hoop. "Practice," she says simply, "...and dedication," she adds on as an afterthought, and Kagami is reminded of the tough yet somehow half-assed coaching style of Alex Garcia. He feels his shoulders jump in a sudden chuckle.

You can't just learn to do something like that with practice. She's a prodigy. She's a member of that little prodigy clubhouse, isn't she? She wasn't even trying, and she blew me away! Kagami puts up a hand before meeting Kuroko's eyes with his own, and he sees that her blue gems have dulled down to something akin to worry.

"That's all. We don't even need to play to ten points. I think I know how this is going to end anyway. Kuroko... if I played the rest of your old teammates right now, what would happen?"

"You would have no chance of winning," she says bluntly, and Kagami sighs, picking up the rolling basketball to place in Kuroko's hands. He walks towards her, a wild smile on his face.

"I like your honesty, but I'm not a huge fan of that answer," he admits, placing the ball in her outstretched hand. She in turn places the ball in the corner of the court, where it can't roll away. "But I have a new goal. Kuroko, I'm gonna beat every single one of your old teammates. Including you, one day."

Kuroko pauses, her face more expressive than he's ever seen it. He can clearly read the emotion on her face, and as she glances at him, he feels like he's being scanned. Appraised. He wasn't even this nervous when Aida was looking him over, and that was for the actual team.

"I can tell you that it's going to be a lot of work, Kagami-kun," Kuroko warns, and Kagami raises an eyebrow.

"What, you think I can't handle it?" He asks, and Kuroko shakes her head.

"No. I only want to present you with a warning. If you start now, you can't back out before you finish what you begin," she explains, and he places a large hand on her shoulder, pushing the sincerest look he can muster upon his face.

"I get it, don't worry. And Kuroko... you have a talent with basketball that others can only wish for. Take advantage of that," he says almost pleadingly, and Kuroko nods to acknowledge the compliment.

"I have been planning to do so anyway, Kagami-kun, but it makes me comforted to see what a good person you are. You too are a basketball genius. It is simply the fact that the others and myself are prodigies, and we did nothing but win for three years, honing our skills to perfection with almost military level practices. That is why you are a few steps behind."

"Do you mean that I'm gonna need to do military training?" Kagami asks, almost looking excited, and Kuroko sighs, shaking his arm off of her shoulder before pinching said arm. Kagami whimpers.

"No. What I am saying is that you need to work hard, Kagami-kun, probably harder than you've worked in your entire life," she says. Kagami smiles again, just as stupidly wide as before.

"That won't be a problem!"

As they walk home (Kagami insisted, saying that no lady should walk themselves home) together, Kuroko finds herself lost in her own thoughts. I know it won't be, Kagami-kun. Not for somebody like you. But when the time comes, and you do join us just over the line... which direction will you travel? Each of us followed our own path, and none of us chose to walk the path of victory together. She looks in his direction and sighs.

She can't help but hope that he'll stick with her. But loyalty has never seemed to been a high point of any of her partners.

The next day, Kuroko falls asleep in class. She had been up a good deal of the night sending messages back and forth with Midorima, who insisted he was only contacting her because he needed to vent and she was the 'least idiotic of his old acquaintances'. She chose to take it as a compliment, and allowed him to text his frustrations out (his team was stifling him and his new 'partner' was absolutely abhorrent), giving advice when asked.

She had underestimated just how long he could text.

Luckily, she's borderline invisible, and she sits behind Kagami anyway. He always gets caught for sleeping in class, but never her. Delving deeper into such reasoning, Kuroko can't really complain. She's never been one to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Basketball practice couldn't have come sooner, and after changing in the supplies closet (she was banned from the locker room by both a sheepish Aida Riko and flushed Hyuuga Junpei), Kuroko stands next to Kagami, stretching her arms and shoulders. Today is a defense day, because she doesn't need to prove herself as much as the other first years in the room. Stealing their limelight would be shameful.

With Kagami, she won't need to anyway. She can be just as useful using her other talents, and allow others to shine. Some base part of her is still opposed to being a primarily offensive player, holding Akashi's words close to her heart next to her fear of her own ego.

"What do you think of the practice plan today, Kagami-kun?" Kuroko asks, and Kagami jumps before sighing and shrugging.

"I dunno. Maybe it could be fun, but I don't really want to do a game with the other first years. Hey, you think that Seirin practices will be as difficult as the Teikou ones?" He asks idly, and Kuroko ponders that for a few seconds before shaking her head.

"I do not know. Teikou was extremely harsh about training, but this is high school now, so I can't be too sure about the change in standards," she explains, and Kagami sighs again, somehow both childlike and angsty.

"If it isn't nearly as hard, how the hell am I supposed to catch up to your ex-teammates?" Kagami pouts, whining slightly, and Kuroko jabs him in the side with her elbow before shaking her head. Ignoring the breathless gasp that follows her attack, she responds in turn.

"I will help you with that in our free time, Kagami-kun. As for right now, it would be best just to focus on your normal basketball routine. After observing you, I will write up a training menu to help you with all the ways you need to improve," she says, and Kagami grins victoriously.

"Hey! Everyone, pay attention!" Hyuuga yells, sending a glare at the now slumping Kagami. Aida scrunches up her nose while inspecting her clipboard, then smiles at everyone.

"Okay! Today, we're going to do a little activity to help us all to test our own skills, strengths, and weaknesses. We're having a First Year vs. Second Year game!" Aida declares. A general whimper flows through the first years, and Kagami frowns. Don't be pathetic!

"A-Are you kidding?! Didn't you guys make it to the Interhigh last year? Like, the second years you have now?" One asks, and another gapes, sweat gathering on his brow.

"Seriously? Oh man, we're in way over our heads..." he mutters, and Kagami grunts in annoyance.

He grabs the backs of both of their shirts and tugs on them roughly, causing the two to stumble. They look at his shining red eyes in fear, and Kagami smiles widely. "Is that all the fighting spirit you've got? You're just going to give up after hearing the stakes? Having a difficult match ahead of you should make you more excited to play, not discouraged," he argues, and they all look awed at his confidence.

Kuroko glances at Kagami approvingly; the guy's more intelligent than he lets on. Unless, of course, the speech really was just frustration and not intended to inspire their teammates. In that case, she still has respect for his dedication. The rest of the first years silence their complaints, looking flushed and vaguely ashamed.

Kagami walks out toward the center of the court, power rolling off of him in waves, and Kawahara, Fukuda, and Furihata follow behind, slightly more cautious. Kuroko chooses to follow in Furihata's footprints, admiring his stance. He may not be anything spectacular, but he certainly hasn't been slacking for the past few years. She wonders why she's never heard his name before.

Almost immediately, she shoves that thought away.

Kuroko rolls her lip between her teeth imperceptibly, feeling concerned once again about a certain thought that has plagued her for days.

Her invisibility, although amazing in its own sense, isn't an unlimited resource. There are certain circumstances in which it will not be as effective as it would be in others. And, while it's only the first of many play styles she's developed, it's also her most used and practiced style. If she wants to stand a chance in Akashi's twisted game, she's going to need to practice her other styles.

Though few and far between, there were instances of her scoring during her Teikou years, so of course she has a record, it's just that nobody ever cared enough to look her up. Why? Because of the overwhelming presence the rest of her teammates presented. If she brings any style but misdirection to the court with Kagami, she isn't so naive to think she'll be ignored any longer.

Kagami will need to practice to beat all of the opponents barring his pathway to greatness, and so will she, although considerably less.

"Yo, Kuroko, you awake?" Kagami asks, knocking her from her stupor. His voice is softer than she's ever heard it, and she looks up to see that he looks concerned. She nods, tightening her lips.

"I am fine, Kagami-kun. Thank you."

Aida walks to the very center of the court, whistle in her mouth and ball in her hand. She blows a sharp note from her whistle, to gather everybody's attention, before letting it fall loose around her neck. "Okay everybody! This is just a mini game, alright? Like I explained earlier, it's to test skills. So don't take it too hard if you lose, and try your best so we can see all your skills and improve!"

With that, she blows on the whistle once more and tosses the ball in the air, backing up quickly.

Kagami jumps up, and Kuroko's eyes narrow when she sees his reaction time and height. It doesn't make sense. Normally, she could assume that he just has amazing reflexes and leave the subject alone, but if that were so, he would not have jumped to such a height first try. Unless he trained himself to do so, but he didn't seem particularly focused on jumping. Just on reaching the ball.

Using his height and arm length, Kagami reaches the ball first with a smirk. Growling, he pushes it back toward their side of he court, and Fukuda grabs it quickly, dribbling toward the second years' hoop. In a flash, Izuki is in front of him, and Fukuda's eyes widen.

"Oi!" Without hesitation, he sends the ball to Kagami, who runs forward and makes a dunk. The score is 2-0, with the first years somehow taking the first point.

Aida's eyes widen on the sidelines. I knew he was going to be good, but this... is this what an untrained prodigy looks like? Meanwhile, Hyuuga's eye twitches, and he scowls. He'll need to teach the kid to respect his senpais.

The game progresses in a similar manner for awhile, leaving the score at 11-8, the first years still holding a lead.

"Hey, we actually stand a chance!" Kawahara says, smiling, and Furihata gives him a high five. On the other side of the quart, Hyuuga scoffs.

"Okay guys, we're gonna get serious now," he mutters, and Izuki chuckles.

"Entering clutch mode so easily, captain?" He teases, but his eyes flash eagerly, ready to be put to good use.

The next time Kagami has the ball, he finds himself cornered by Koganei and Mitobe. Sometimes he can break from two marks, but just barely, and for some reason, Mitobe is disturbingly hard to lose.

"Tch!" Kagami scowls, passing the ball in the general direction of Furihata, only to be intercepted by Izuki, who passes to Hyuuga. The captain makes an impressive three pointer, eyebrows set in an almost menacing look.

"Don't underestimate us, you cocky first years!" Hyuuga growls.

From that point on, the second years don't relent. They eagerly take offensive positions, and double team Kagami constantly, even when he doesn't have the ball. Finally, Riko blows the whistle, signifying the halfway point and break time of their mini-game.

Fukuda pants, drooping. "We were wrong; we're on the path of loss," he says, gesturing to the scoreboard, which reads 15-31, no longer in their favor. Kagami seems particularly angered by this, and he snarls.

"Are you serious?! You're going to give up now? This isn't the end! A basketball game doesn't end until it's over!" He says, sounding stupid yet intriguingly inspirational. Kuroko wonders if that's a particular talent of his before intervening.

Kagami is pulled from his rage when a cool, smooth hand smacks him across the face. Whirling around, he grabs the closest person, who just happens to be Kuroko. She doesn't argue when she's picked up off the ground, seeing that he really doesn't have control over his temper at all.

"Wha-? Kuroko? What the hell! Why'd you hit me?! And... how long have you been playing?" He exclaims, and Kuroko responds by looking pointedly at his hand. He drops her.

"I have been playing the entire time, Kagami-kun. Remember what I spoke to you about yesterday; about training. I need to see you play too. I have simply been staying out of the way up to this point. I will play now, but you need to cool down," she says stoically, and Kagami growls.

"I'm totally calm!" He lies, clenching his fists, and Izuki whistles on the opposite side of the gym.

"Looks like there's a heavy debate going on over there," he comments lightly, and Hyuuga nods in agreement. Aida goes to do the same, but hesitates when she sees who's arguing. Instead, she gasps.

How long has she been playing? I've been watching the game attentively, and I didn't see her once... has she really been in the entire time? How did I lose sight of her for so long?

Aida has always had good eyes. She's certainly no Izuki, but she still doesn't just lose people when there's only 10 out there in the first place.

"L-Let's start again!" Aida yells, stammering the smallest amount due to her recent revelation.

All of the players walk out again, and when the ball is thrown, Kagami reaches it first yet again. But instead of sending it down randomly, he pushes it toward someone. Toward Kuroko. Aida leans forward, wanting to see the Teikou alumni in an actual game.

She runs forward, dribbling neatly, weaving easily under Hyuuga's arms by leaning sideways. She's flexible. I knew it. There's something strange about this one! She continues running, not stopping even when Mitobe appears in front of her. She keep running straight forward until...

...until she runs straight through him. How had she done that? Mitobe's own eyes widen, a rare show of true shock on his face. Right on the three point line, Kuroko throws the ball generally toward the hoop, and turns back to defend her side of the court as the ball falls straight through the hoop, missing the rim altogether.

Kuroko supports Kagami for the rest of the game, confident enough that Aida sees her worth and will recommend her as a starting member.

With a score of 38-37, the first years win by a hair.

The next day, Kuroko proceeds to meet Aida and the rest of the first years in front of the school due to a request by the coach herself. Kagami follows soon after, and Aida claps her hands excitedly.

"Great! We're all here!" She exclaims, and Kagami sighs.

"Why are we here, actually?" He asks, looking tired. Aida smiles widely.

"Well, the thing is, to actually be a member of this team, you need something more than just skill," she explains. "You need determination. So right now, you're going to do the initiation! We all did it last year, so you're all gonna do it this year! Just so you know, after you do this, if you break your promise, I'll make you confess to your love interest naked," she says.

Kawahara frowns worriedly, looking at his watch. "Aida-san, classes begin in ten minutes," he says hurriedly, and Aida nods.

"That's why we're going to need to get going! Now follow me; to the roof!"

They all follow their coach, although Furihata and Fukuda look concerned about the 'confessing naked' conundrum. Kuroko just brushes it off; initiation can't possibly be as bad as what it was in Teikou, right? With a small shiver, she looks up to the cloud covered sun.

She hadn't wanted to run for the rest of her life.

They all trek up to the roof, and once they're there, Aida closes the door slowly. "Okay! Now, I want you all to stand up on the edge, yell your name, class, and your goals! Go!" She exclaims, and Furihata stands up, quickly shaking his head.

"What do you mean, our 'goals'?! This is crazy!" He yells, looking scared. Kagami cracks his neck, and walks toward the edge. Furihata continues rambling off everything that could go wrong, but stops when Fukuda pulls on his sleeve, pointing toward the redhead.

"Kagami Taiga! Class 1-C! I'll defeat the Generation of Miracles and bring Seirin to be the best team in all of Japan!" He yells, and on the ground, Hyuuga smirks, chuckling.

"Doing it again this year, huh?" He mutters, shaking his head. Koganei cackles, remembering how much trouble they got into, and on the roof, the door suddenly slams open again.

"You! The basketball team, again?!"


"That was ridiculous," Kagami complains to himself, stuffing his face with food at Maji's.

"It certainly was; I hadn't even said anything yet, but I still got yelled at," a voice says suddenly, and although Kagami jumps, he doesn't choke like last time. He had a feeling she would show up, and by now, he recognizes her voice and acknowledges her disappearing act.

"Hey, I mean, at least we did the initiation," he shrugs, and Kuroko almost seems to deflate at that.

"Actually, Kagami-kun, I was worried about that. We all got disciplined together, but you were technically the only one who carried out the initiation. What if I an unable to join the team for real?" She asks, and Kagami purses his lips.

"I dunno, actually. You'll figure it out, I'm sure. Hey, I just wanna ask... you were part of that Miracle team, right? Why aren't you with one of them?" He asks, and Kuroko meets his eyes solemnly.

"It wouldn't be very fair if we all went to the same school. Even two of us in one place would make an overwhelming team to beat. The others want a challenge, and the best way to ensure that is by splitting up and hoping that when they fight each other, they will be satisfied," she says, and Kagami tilts his head to the side.

"Not you?" He asks, and Kuroko wonders again if Kagami is really as idiotic as he presents himself.

"I want a challenge," she says carefully, not that it's easy to tell. "But I don't particularly want to play against any of them. I love basketball too much to give up, but the way they play makes me sad, Kagami-kun. You will meet them, I'm sure, and trust me when I say you probably won't like them. Still, I hold them close to my heart. We were friends before they became what they are now."

"You don't want to fight against them?" Kagami looks stumped, and Kuroko shrugs.

"No, not really."

"Wouldn't it be better to seek them out? Don't you want to show them that you're mad at them?" Kuroko takes a sharp breath; she isn't mad, not really. Or is she? She hasn't taken much time to think about them. She ignores them, ignores the memories they corrupted with their actions, and throws herself into practicing. "Don't you want to prove to them that basketball is a fun sport?"

Kuroko doesn't respond right away, which prompts Kagami to continue.

"Look, I don't know much about what happened with Teikou. All I know comes from our teammates, and all they'll say is that you were really good. But if these people are ruining something that's fun for you, why don't you show them that they're wrong?"

An odd expression flits across Kuroko's face, and for moment, Kagami think's he's overstepped a boundary. Then she looks up, face solid stone. "You know, Kagami-kun, you may be right." She looks out the window into the darkening afternoon sky. "Maybe what they need is to be taken down from their pedestal."

"So, you'll stand with me to take Seirin to the top, then? Even if we need to face your old teammates?"

Kuroko meets Kagami's eyes, and a chill runs down his spine at the sparks that light up her irises. "Especially if we need to face them."


Kagami enters his classroom the next morning to see his fellow classmates (except for that weird guy that sleeps in the back of the room) staring out the windows. "Dude, do you think it was a ghost? There's no signature!"

He looks out too, then smirks.


The handwriting is impeccable, but whoever wrote it seems to have forgotten to sign their little message.

But nonetheless, Kagami knows who it's from. And he's certain that Aida will too.

A/N: Okay. I've decided to write a multichaptered KnB fanfiction, which is pretty ding dang exciting. I have a bad habit of rushing through things, so I apologize for that, but I just wanted to get through the first episode or so in one chapter to avoid dragging it out. I introduced Kuroko a little, showed Kagami's good and bad sides, etc.

I want to get to the good stuff as soon as possible! Leave a review, tell me if I should continue, whatever you have to say. I welcome criticism, if you have any, so I'm fine with 'flames'.