Title: Love Hoop
Rating: T (language warning)
DISCLAIMER: Inuyasha belongs to Rumiko Takahashi and Kuroko no Basket belongs to Tadatoshi Fujimaki. Two respected mangaka! I do not own the characters in any way nor the story plot. Only the idea of this fanfiction!
MizukixTsukiyomi's Notes: And here it is. The end. I have used all my words at my disposal to show what this story means to me, but I want to thank you all in this chapter for the support and love that was given throughout the 36 chapters. It's been a long journey.
But before the chapter begins, I want to say the decision I made for this chapter (and the whole story) is because it is how I saw it right. It is how I thought it would give a smile. And please trust me when I say I know what I am doing. Trust me. But without saying anything more, here is the final chapter.
Chapter 36: Special Smiles
"K-Kagome?" The tiger stuttered, taken back by the call. A blush crept over his cheeks as he brought the phone back down to check the caller ID. It was her. Swallowing down his nerves, he slowly brought the phone back to his ear.
"M-Moshi moshi? Are you busy?"
"Ah, no," he checked his surroundings in Maji Burger, "not really. Why? W-What's up?"
"I was checking basketball profiles – don't ask why, but I noticed that Kuroko-kun's birthday is in five days."
Taking a sip from his soft drink, Kagami's brow rose while counting his head. What day were they on again? "January thirty-first?" He asked. "Huh…wonder why he didn't tell us."
"It's not really something someone announces out there, Kagami-kun; it would make anyone sounds conceited." Then again, why did she see Kise, Murasakibara, and Aomine announcing it so easily? "I was thinking, and I know it's last minute, but we should hold a party for him."
Kagami paused mid-way from taking a bite of his burger. Staring at the empty spot in front of him with confusion, he spoke. "A party? Like a surprise party?"
"I did say it was his birthday, Kagami-kun."
"Uruse," he blushed, barely able to register his question, "you know what I meant, Kagome." Setting his food down on the tray, he gave a deep sigh. "So? What were you thinking of exactly?"
"A Generation of Miracles meet up?"
Watching the ball being released from his hands, she waited as the ball swooshed into the basket with ease. She nodded, taking a step forward as Aomine walked to retrieve the ball inside the empty gym. It was nice to see Aomine practicing again, even if it was on his own. It was better than nothing. "Yeah," Momoi nodded, "I thought it would be nice to, you know, get together again."
"And what would we do?" Aomine asked, seeing it a pain to get everyone together for just a day of nothing.
"Play basketball! What else?"
Looking at the girl over his shoulder, Aomine sighed at her determined expression to make him say 'yes'. "I guess I wouldn't mind." Preparing for another shot, he took his aim. "But why are you doing it on that day?"
"Ah," Momoi blinked, eyes slowly lowering to the floor as she felt her cheeks heat up, "well, um…it's Tetsu-kun's birthday."
Releasing the ball, Aomine did not have to look to make it in as he turned his head to see his childhood friend become giddy at the thought of the phantom player. His brow rose, confused on her embarrassed behavior. "Huh?"
"Well, it's a holiday, and I thought it would be easier for everyone to get together if they had some kind of reason." It seemed logical enough, but it was something she had thought about last minute, and it seemed like a good idea.
Placing his pinky in his ear, Aomine yawned. "Yeah, yeah. I got you." At this point, she could not hide everything from him.
"Hey, Kuroko, are you free on the thirty-first?"
Looking to her right, Kagome watched as Kuroko – who stood in the middle as they walked after school – turn his attention the tiger on the other side. With no practice today, she was thankful for it as she had last minute preparing to do. If anything, she was thankful for Kagami having brought the question up right away before she forgot.
"The thirty-first?" Kuroko repeated. "Yes, I'm free."
"Ah, good!" Kagome sighed with relief, taking the phantom player by surprise. Clapping her hands together, she stopped in her steps - along with the other two. "Kagami-kun and I were wondering if-"
A sudden ring of Kuroko's cell phone paused their conversation; eyes followed down to Kuroko digging his device from his pocket before giving an apology for the interruption. "Hai, this is Kuroko."
They waited, occasionally giving Nigou, who sat at their feet, a confused look.
"Konnichiwa, Momoi-san." Kuroko smiled. "Eh? The thirty-first?"
Kagome and Kagami gave each other look upon hearing the same date they had asked for him.
"Hai, I'm free that day." Kuroko continued, making Kagome and Kagami still. "Really? Hai! I'll look forward to it!"
Kagami quickly stopped the miko from yanking the phone away, knowing she was going to object the conversation. "C-Chotto matte!" She whispered. She had a gut feeling their plans were about to be ruined. Waiting for Kuroko to end the call, Kagami was first to come forth and question it.
"What?" Kagami blinked. "Is something happening that day?"
"I was invited to play street ball with my former Teiko teammates." Kuroko replied, turning to face them.
Surprised by the plans, Kagami and Kagome could only blink back. All of them together?
"Seriously?" Kagami spoke. "That's amazing."
"But wait," Kagome cut in, already feeling the gloom hitting her heavily, "that's on the thirty-first, right?" Sighing, the miko scratched the back of her head, unsure what to do about the whole thing. "What am I going to do…?"
Kuroko blinked back, noticing the pout on her face. Fearing he had said something to offend her, he took a step towards her. "You two mentioned the thirty-first, too. Is there something that day, too?"
"Well," Kagome sighed, knowing there was nothing she can do about it, "we were actually planning something for that day, too."
Kagami smiled, putting his hands in his pockets. "Your birthday party."
"Bakagami!" Kagome shouted, making him jolt before she gave him a light slap on his arm. "It was supposed to be a surprise party!"
"The plan has been ruined already!" He barked back, rubbing his arm. "He was bound to find out anyways!"
Kuroko could only blink in silence seeing the two exchange a few yells. A party? He looked down, realizing he had accepted an invitation when there was one waiting for him. What could he do?
There was no way around it, and as much as she wanted to give Kuroko a much-deserved birthday party, he also deserved to reunite with his old teammates. After everything he had gone through in Teiko, she was sure Kuroko was missing the old days. Kuroko's aura wavered in worry, no doubt he was regretting his choice to accept Momoi's invitation. "You should go, Kuroko-kun." She smiled, grabbing his attention. "We can make you party in the evening! We thought we could get everyone together to celebrate."
Kuroko's eyes narrowed with guilt. "But what should I do-"
"You should go." She repeated. "You wouldn't want to miss that. After all, this is a rare meeting for all of you."
A smile appeared over his features, seeing the reassuring smiles of the two. Kuroko nodded, giving his thanks. "I'm very happy that you two thought about me."
"Ma, ma," Kagami chuckled, "you're exaggerating. It's just a birthday party."
"I'm typically forgotten three hundred and sixty-four days a year."
Kagome and Kagami blinked back, realizing what he meant. The fact Kuroko said it with such a straight smile only made them feel worse each time they did not see him – their own teammate.
"You've…," Kagami's lips twitched, "got your own troubles, huh?"
Coming out of the convenience store to buy some tickets for Souta – who wanted to see a special concert – Kagome looked up at the auburn sky. Was it already sunset? With an exhale, the miko made her way down the street as it began to fill with night owls. Although the plan was to have the party all day, she guessed it was for the best to push it back until the evening. 'Some people may have plans during the day anyways…' Pouting at Momoi beating them to the punch, she promised herself to give them a lecture. At least it also gave her more time to buy a present.
Her steps came to a halt; her eyes widened in horror. 'A present!' How could she have been so stupid?! Of course a party meant giving the birthday person a present. Shaking her head to herself, she blamed her mind set still not fully back into the modern era. A bigger stress came, and now she had no idea what to get Kuroko for his birthday.
Bright lighting illuminated her face, making her turn her head to the left: Maji Burger. "A gift card for a lot of milkshakes?" She asked herself. It seemed like a good idea after Kuroko told her this was the place he visited most of the time after school. Shaking her head, a sweat drop loomed over her head. Was she seriously thinking of getting him a gift card for milkshakes?
Her stomach grumbled.
Placing a hand over her abdomen, she gave Maji Burger one last look. "I guess I can think about it over a meal."
Handing her receipt, Kagome gave the employee a smile as she received her meal. Tray in hand, the miko walked towards the dining area in search for a seat. Seeing an empty table, Kagome quickened her pace as all she wanted was to fill her empty stomach. Her steps came a complete stop the second she heard a familiar voice.
"So, the thirty-first, right?" A stretched-out yawn was given. "It will be a pain to get everyone together."
Was that…? Her eyes widened in complete horror upon seeing the blue hair and pink hair sitting across from each other. She sensed three auras- three? There was no mistake about it now. There they were: Aomine, Kise, and Momoi sitting together. Slowly turning around, she prayed to the Kamis to allow her to escape without-
"Oh?" She could practically hear the smirk. "Neko-chan?"
"Huh?" The pink haired female turned in her seat. "Ah! Kagome-chan!"
Turning around with a sheepish smile, the miko gave them a wave. "H-Hey."
"Ah! Kagomecchi is here, too!?"
Kagome jolted, taken back by the sight of Kise sitting next to Aomine having stood from his seat with excitement. What were these three doing together? Here? Right now?
"Are you going to eat, Kagome-chan?" Momoi asked. "Come sit with us!"
"Move out of the way, Kise." Aomine grumbled. "She is gonna sit here."
"Eh?!" Kise pouted, turning to face the Tōō ace. "But I want to sit with Kagomecchi!"
Placing her tray next to Momoi's seat, she gave the two a deadpanned look. Like hell she was going to sit next to them. "Ma, ma," she spoke, sitting in her seat, "I'll be right here, okay? So both of you can see me." Noticing Momoi circling something on the notebook in front of her, Kagome raised a brow upon reading the names of the Miracles. The date of Kuroko's part was written at the top, making her hum as she sipped through her straw. Damn them for taking the date. Her eyes landed at the end of the list: Akashi. With his name circled, did that mean he was coming? All the way from Kyoto?
"Tetsu-kun said it was okay!" Momoi smiled with joy. "So, all we need is Mukkun."
Noticing the circle around Midorima's name, Aomine raised a brow as he grabbed his drink. "Didn't Midorima say he would come if he felt like it?"
"He'll be fine!" She chuckled. "Midorin will definitely come! But all there is left is Mukkun. He said it sounded like a pain in the butt and hung up on me."
Giving her a suspicious look, Aomine sneaked his hand over to steal a fry from Kagome's tray. "Why are you so confident?"
"Hmm," Kise pouted, also grabbing a fry from the miko's tray without her noticing, "what should we do about him?"
The miko eyed her fries noticing the quantity less compared to when she had first got them. Shaking the suspicion away, Kagome looked at Kise who sat across Momoi. "I have been wondering; I can understand why Aomine-kun and Momoi-chan are here together, but why are you here, Kise-kun?"
"I have the same question myself." Aomine glared.
"He was at a studio in the area doing a model shoot." Momoi answered as Kise gave a nod.
Placing his hands down on the table, Kise leaned forward to catch the miko's attention. "And you, Kagomecchi?"
Kagome stopped mid-way from putting a fry in her mouth to blink at Kise's question. "What about me?"
"Why are you here?" He asked.
"Well," she whispered, unsure how to answer, "I got hungry." Was it right for her to mention the party? She did not want them to feel bad about having taken Kuroko, but she also did not want to invite them before getting Kagami's approval. After all, after much thought, it was going to be at his place. "I came here thinking I should get Kuroko-kun a gift card for Maji Burger, you know…for milkshakes."
Holding back his laugh, Aomine's lips curved into a smirk. "Pfft, for his birthday?" His brow rose again, amused by her lack of skills in gifting things. "You really have no experience in this, huh?"
She slapped his sneaky hand from her fries while giving him a glare. "Uruse."
Sighing under her breath, Momoi lowered her eyes to the notebook. "How do I get Mukkun to come, though?"
"Ah, the basketball thing, huh?" Kagome added. "Kuroko-kun told us about it."
"It's easy." Aomine scoffed, setting his cup down. "You just need to set out some bait."
"Bait?" Kagome' brow crooked up. "What the heck are you talking about?"
Leaning forward, eyes moved left and right as if checking for any eavesdroppers. "Listen closely you three. First, put a tasty snack out where he'll see it. He'll definitely go for it. Then! Lay out some more all the way down to Tokyo."
"Ah!" Kise nodded. "He will be in Tokyo before he knows it!"
"Great idea, right-?" The smirks on Aomine and Kise melted away as soon as they felt a fry being flicked on to their foreheads. Turning to their attacker, both gave the miko a 'what-did-they-say-wrong' look.
"Bakas." She shook her head. Did they seriously think laying down snacks on the floor would bring Murasakibara here? Then again, when it came to food, Murasakibara could be sold easily.
Slamming her hands on the table, Momoi's brow twitched as she sent hardened glares to the two across the booth. "Can't you two take this seriously?!" The light bulb turned on inside her head as she stared at Kagome taking a bite of her burger. She blinked; Kagome stopped chewing. Momoi blinked again; Kagome blinked back.
"W-What?" She swallowed with fear seeing a new glow in her aura.
"Here!" Handing the miko her phone, she gave her a wide smile. "Call Mukkun!"
"Huh?" Kagome choked. "Why me!? This is your thing, Momoi-chan!"
Momoi gave her a pout, knowing Kagome was the toughest one to convince when it came to these types of things. "Please~? Do it for Tetsu-kun? I know Tetsu-kun would appreciate having Mukkun there. Look, I'll even tell you what to say, yes?" She smiled seeing the miko giving it some thought. "Just tell Mukkun about this Vietnamese sweet; make the dessert sound yummy to the point where he can picture it."
It was for Kuroko, and after witnessing Kuroko's joyful expression hearing this reunion, she knew missing one person would sort of make it awkward. A sigh passed her lips as she took Momoi's phone into her hands. "Fine." She whispered. "But just this once." Clicking the button to call, Kagome brought the phone to her ear, giving mild-glares to the three as they leaned closer to eavesdrop.
Three rings passed by, giving Momoi a shrug. Maybe Murasakibara was already to his limit about Momoi calling that he could be ignoring the calls. Just when she was about to hang up, Kagome blinked hearing the groan and lazy tone on the other side.
"Sacchin…nani? I'm not going if you're calling about street ball."
"Oh? This isn't Sacchin. Who is it?"
Sighing, Kagome leaned back from the curious and waiting stares of the three surrounding her. "It's Kagome." And here it came.
"Ah…Gomecchin? What are you doing with Sacchin?"
"Well," she cleared her throat, "Momoi-chan had your number, and I wanted to tell you about a snack I found. I figured you would be interested? Um, I heard it is crispy, but doughy texture."
"Crispy but doughy?" Murasakibara repeated.
Kagome could hear him licking his lips; she caught his attention. "It's sort of Vietnamese, but it's really popular these days." Where was she even getting these ideas? A mental sigh was given; the things she did for Seirin.
"Yeah," Kagome nodded, "the secret ingredients are apparently sakura shrimp and powdered," she looked at Momoi, reading her lips, "foil…cras?"
"Foie gras!" Momoi whispered, in fear the plan was already ruined.
"A-Ah! Gomen," Kagome's nervous laughter came out, "I meant foie gras! Foie gras!"
"That sounds good~."
"Ah, well…I'll get some if you like? So um," her eyes went over to Momoi, seeing her happily nod, "come to Tokyo on the thirty-first? I promise it's really good!"
Aomine huffed, giving the miko a glare for the way she spoke to the Yosen ace. "That's not much different from my plan-mmf!" His eyes lowered to the miko's finger over his lips; she gave him a look to quiet him down before Murasakibara over heard them all.
"At least Murasakibaracchi's resolve is wavering." Kise whispered back.
"I guess I'll go."
Taking her phone back, Momoi's smile stretched further hearing Murasakibara was to come. "I'm so glad, Mukkun! Then I'll do my best to get some of the ingredients and make some!"
The three froze immediately after hearing Momoi's words. Her? Bake?
"B-Baka!" Aomine shouted as he, Kise, and Kagome felt the corner of their lips twitch with defeat.
"Sacchin will?" Murasakibara's voice cracked. "Never mind."
Momoi blinked as she heard the call end. Bringing the phone in front, she tilted her head to the side with confusion. "W-What? No way…"
The miko's head dropped down; all her effort had blown out of the window. "We almost had him…"
Squatting to pet Nigou's head as he ate his meal, Riko smiled before coming to stand next to Hyuga and Kiyoshi. Being the last ones out from practice, she had requested Kuroko to let him stay with her for the night. Nigou quickly grew hungry, so the four waited in peace as Nigou finished his food. Looking at Izuki standing on the other side, she spoke. "Did you lock the equipment, Izuki-kun?"
He nodded back, giving her a thumbs up.
Hearing a voice calling out to them, the four turned around to see Furihata running towards them. "Furihata-kun?" Riko blinked. "What are you doing here?"
"I had a question." He smiled. "Are you all free next Saturday?"
"Next Saturday?" Kiyoshi repeated. Counting in his head, he scratched the back of his head. "That's the thirty-first, right?"
Furihata nodded to his question before giving them the reason. "Hai! It's actually Kuroko's birthday that day."
"Really?" Kiyoshi's wide smile appeared. If they had never told them, they probably would have let the day pass without knowing. Shaking his head, he leaned against the wall with joy. "Ah, our kids are growing up fast, huh?"
"Eh…?" Furihata blinked back.
"Oh ignore him," Hyuga sighed, turning his attention back to the first year, "so? What's up?"
"Ah, well, Kagome-chan is planning a birthday party at Kagami's house. If you're free, we were hoping you could stop by? We're cooking and decorating ourselves. I'm sure Kuroko would be happy if you came, too!"
Nodding, Izuki hooked his fingers under his chin in thought. "A birthday party, huh? Sounds nice." Looking at the other three, he spoke. "Let's invite Koganei and the others, too."
A small bark made Kiyoshi look down to see Nigou wagging his tail. "Really? You want to go, too?"
"We will help you buy the stuff you need." Riko added.
"Then," Hyuga smirked, pushing his glasses in, "I'll help with the decorations. If we're going to do this, let's do it right. Let's help Kagome-chan make Kuroko happy together."
Izuki quickly snapped his fingers together, stopping everyone from saying anything else. "Since it's Kuroko's birthday, let's make it a mirth day. Nice!"
As the four exited Maji Burger, Kise turned around to see the miko closing the door. "Kagomecchi? Want me to walk you home? It's already late."
She gave the blonde a smile, appreciative over his concern. "It's okay, Kise-kun. You live farther; it' probably best you get home now before it does get late. My home is only ten minutes away from here, anyways."
"Ah, the shrine, right…" Aomine nodded, putting his hands into his pockets. "Should probably go visit my future mother-in-law."
"What!?" Both Kise and Kagome shouted in unison.
Taking a step forward, Kise gave his former teammate a glare. "What do you mean 'mother-in-law'?! Don't tell me you already have that kind of relationship with Higurashi-san!?"
"Of course not!" Kagome barked back, or at least she hoped. Turning her head to Momoi – who gave an innocent and amusing smile – Kagome pointed at the yawning teen across from them. "Can you control him?!" Anything at this point helped, and last time she saw, Momoi did a hell of a job to put him in his place.
Momoi shrugged, continuing to hold her innocent smile. "I think it should be the other way around." She chuckled at Kagome's confused expression. Out of all people she should have realized the others having gained an interest in her. She would enjoy the ride in the back and observed how everything turned out, after all, this were the Generation of Miracles they were talking about. Basketball idiots who would never be interested in anything beside the sport.
Sighing in defeat, Kagome shook her head knowing there was no way to win around Aomine's and Kise's bickering. Before she could say her goodbyes, she felt a gentle flick on her forehead. "Itai!" Her eyes closed, placing her hand over the tingling spot. Looking up, she got on her toes to meet Aomine eye-to-eye (the best she could). "What the heck was that for?!"
"Make sure that Bakagami and Tetsu keep practicing," Aomine spoke, retreating his hand, "because I will win next them."
"Hai. Hai." She scoffed, rubbing her forehead with her finger. "Because the only one who can beat me is me."
Both Momoi and Kise held back their snicker hearing Kagome trying to mimic Aomine's voice, but quickly sealed their lips seeing the annoyed look on his face. "Oi." Aomine called.
"Well," Momoi cut in, to stop them from fueling the tension, "you should come, too, Kagome-chan!"
"To the streetball gathering!" She clasped her hands together. "I know Tetsu-kun would be happy to have you there, and," she smirked seeing the two behind her waiting for a reply, "I'm sure the others would be, too."
Hesitant to reply with a 'no', Kagome noticed the hopeful gazes of Momoi and Kise, while Aomine was partially interested in her answer. She did not want to mention the party, at least not yet, if she had talked to Kagami about it. Scratching her cheek with her finger, the miko parted her lips to reject the invitation.
"Come on, Kagomecchi!" Kise interrupted her, coming forth to grab her hand. "It will be so much fun! And then I can show you why you should transfer over to Kaijo!"
Her expression deadpanned. "You seriously think it's that easy, huh?" She nodded with another sigh as she looked at Momoi. "I'll…think about it." Was it even right for her to go? This was a reunion between former teammates.
"Well, I hope you do come!" Momoi smiled. Grabbing Aomine's arm, she began to walk the opposite direction while giving her a wave goodbye. "Let me know or any of us if you are coming, Kagome-chan!"
"Get home safe." Kise spoke before giving her wink. "Text me when you do get home."
She chuckled, finding it nice to have friends to worry for her safety. To think back then her feudal friends were concerned about her getting attacked by a demon. 'Things have changed…' She smiled to herself. Giving herself a nod, Kagome turned the other way to walk home.
Should she even go? To say she was curious about them playing on the same court was an understatement, but as Kuroko had mentioned, it was reunion. 'But it wouldn't be a complete reunion if Murasakibara-kun doesn't go…' Kagome stopped in her steps, understanding Murasakibara's dilemma. Aside from being lazy, he did live in Akita. To just come for a basketball game was a little too much. She scratched her cheek, thinking if there was any way to convince Murasakibara. She gave herself a mental scoff. 'The only one I know he really listens to is Akashi-kun-' Her eyes widened at the sudden switch of an idea popping in her head.
Rummaging inside her school bag, Kagome pulled out her phone before looking for the contact in search. Looking at the name on the screen, she bit her lower lip in thought. Should she be meddling? Quickly pressing the call button – before she coward away – Kagome waited for the call to connect.
A small smile appeared over her lips hearing her adoptive son's greeting. "Konbanwa, Shippo."
"I am so happy you called me, okaa-san! It's been a few days since I last saw you, but I miss you already!"
She chuckled back at his words. No matter how many years passed by, her Shippo would always be a child at heart. "I miss you, too, Shippo."
"So? What can I help you with, okaa-san?"
"Well," she chucked again out of nervousness, "I was hoping you could do me a favor?"
If she went through with it, she was sure everyone else was going to hear about it sooner or later. Exhaling out her doubts, she replied. "I was wondering if you could get me a certain someone's number? I think Kouga might have it…?" It was worth a shot; Kouga should have connections here and there. She only hoped the wolf would not get any wrong ideas.
"And~ who might that be, okaa-san?"
"It was nice to get a call from Gomecchin, but it was all a trap made by Sacchin." Lazily resting his chin over the table of the dining room of their dorms, Murasakibara stared at the wrappers of his eaten maiubo. "She almost got me. Or almost killed me, actually."
Lowering the mug from his lips, Himuro blinked seeing the distress in his teammate's face. "What's going on, Atsushi?"
A heavy sigh blew out of Murasakibara's lips, blowing a few wrapped away. "Sacchin keeps asking me to go to Tokyo. Apparently the old team is playing street ball."
"Eh?" Himuro smiled, excited to hear the Teiko team having a reunion. "You mean the Generation of Miracles? That sounds fun. Why don't you want to go?"
"Going to Tokyo just for that would be a pain in the butt." He rolled his eyes.
"But…you guys don't often get the chance to get together, right?"
Humming once, Murasakibara's eyes rose slightly to his phone in front of him seeing the screen light up. Bringing it close to his face – still resting on the table – his brow crooked up lazily seeing the caller. "Huh? Akachin?"
Putting a bag of plates and cups into the shopping cart, Kagome checked off the stuff from her list. "That should be everything." Turning to her companions, she gave them a small smile. "Thanks for coming with me, senpais."
"Really, it's nothing." Riko smiled back as she organized some of the stuff on the cart. Having received the invitation from Furihata, they were excited to be throwing the celebration for Kuroko. It three days left until Kuroko's birthday, Riko, Hyuga, Kiyoshi, and Izuki had noticed the miko making a list during practice. They tagged along to the small shopping trip not wanting the miko to oversee everything. After all, they were the second years and it was their job to look after them. "Do we really have everything?"
"We would just need the food, right?" Hyuga spoke.
"Kagami-kun and the others said they would buy that tomorrow." Kagome replied. "I left Kagami-kun in charge of the menu."
Giving the miko a pout, Riko clasped her hands together. "I could have been in charge of that!"
"No, you could have not." Hyuga interrupted.
Avoiding the deadly glare of their coach onto their captain, Izuki came forth to see the list Kagome held. "You haven't crossed Kuroko's present? Do you not have one yet?" He blinked, along with the others upon seeing her sheepish smile.
Kiyoshi tilted his head to the side. "Do you need help?"
"Not really?" Kuroko was a difficult person to gift, and he was special. She could not get him just anything off the shelf. It was a person who pulled her out of the dark after all, along with many others. Not to mention Aomine had laughed at her idea about buying him a gift card to Maji Burger. "It's hard," she exhaled heavily, "to find him a gift. What does he even like besides milkshakes, dogs, and basketball?"
'You!' The four shouted in their heads staring at the girl with a deadpanned look.
Riko shook her head, seeing a few options of gifts written on the list. Nudging her side with her elbow, Riko gave the miko a smirk. "Well, be careful on what you give him, Kagome-chan." She received a blank stare. "You might make others jealous if they see you giving him a gift."
"Others?" Kagome blinked. Scoffing at the idea, she shook her head as she made her way towards the cashiers. "They can't be jealous; it's Kuroko-kun's birthday."
"But," Kiyoshi spoke, "will their friendship be okay seeing they like the same person?"
"Huh?" Kagome turned her head over her shoulder. "Same person? What are you talking about?" A loud gasp escaped her lungs. "Don't tell me they are dating people? Who would date those bakas?"
The four shared a round of blinks before staring at the miko with disbelief. Of course, the girl of the boys' attention would be the most oblivious one.
With one day left to prepare everything for the big celebration, Kagome counted the utensils she had bought as the other Seirin members packed everything in boxes and bags in her living room. Thinking it was best to meet at her home after school, she was glad Kuroko had remained busy meeting with Ogiwara while they prepared the stuff they needed. "So," she spoke, gaining the attention of the tiger coming beside her to grab a few things, "should we invite the Generation of Miracles?"
Kagami lost his balance at her question, quickly turning his head to her with wide eyes. "A-All of them?!"
"No," she rolled her eyes, "just half of one."
Putting a stop to her sarcasm, Kagami nodded understanding her question.
"Well, they did invite me…it would only be fair to do the same, don't you think?"
"They invited you to the street ball thing?" Kagami asked as he placed some of the drinks they bought in a box.
Looking over her shoulder, the miko dropped the pen to her chin. "Well, Momoi-chan did, but I told them I would think about it." She sighed, looking back down at the box at her feet as Buyo tried to get the streamers inside. "But wouldn't it be rude to go?"
Flames erupted over Riko's eyes after hearing Kagome being invited to the Generation of Miracles' reunion. Making a fist, she caught the attention of the team. "You should go!" She exclaimed with much enthusiasm. This was the harem they (more like she) had been waiting for to bloom! Love in the sport was scarce, and they were finally seeing it among the prodigies and a miko who had traveled back in time and was friends with demons! You never heard of people like that every day!
Kagome blinked back – along with the rest of the team – at her sudden excitement. What sprung her up from the floor to tell her to go? Did she even register who would be there? "R-Riko-senpai…?"
"Don't bother," Hyuga sighed, cutting a few decorations on the floor, "her reasons are different."
"I still think it would be a good thing to go." Kiyoshi spoke, grabbing Kagome's attention. Setting a bag next to the other things they gathered, he sent her a smile. "Go for Kuroko. Momoi-san is right; I think Kuroko would be happy to see you there."
"I guess…" She pouted.
"Have you found a gift for him yet?" Kagami turned to the miko before jolting at the sight of her head hanging down in defeat. "W-What? You haven't?!"
Turning to face him, Kagome dropped the plastic cups into the box. "Kuroko-kun is more difficult than he looks! What should I get him!?"
The second years shared a couple of glances at each other as they saw the clueless miko and tiger trying to figure it out themselves.
Puffing out her cheeks in thought, Kagome blinked as her grandfather came in carrying a box of shrine souvenirs into the living room. "Jii-chan," she called, pointing at the box in his hands, "do you need help?"
"Oh no." He laughed softly. "These are new souvenirs for the shrine. I just wanted to check if they came with no defects." Setting the box on top of the coffee table, Seirin became curious to see what kind of souvenirs Kagome's shrine sold or gave. "Oh ho ho," her grandfather smirked with pride, "interested are we? Well, before I show you all, let me tell you the beginning story of the Shikon no Tama-"
"No need to be telling a five-hundred-year-old story – again." Kagome laughed, quickly coming in to take the box from the coffee table. "Go ahead and rest, Jii-chan; I'll take care of this for you." Looking inside, the miko's eyes took a few blinks in silence before bringing out a familiar charm.
"Ah," her grandfather smiled, noticing the baby blue sphere at her palm, "I ordered different colors of those. I thought it would attract others because well…not everyone likes pink."
"Really?" Koganei exclaimed wanting to see the charms.
As the others swarmed to look at them, Kagome slowly took a few steps back: the Shikon no Tama.
"Coming in first is Aquarius. Look forward to fun times with your friends. Your lucky item is a chick key chain. And who's placing last on Janauary thirty-first? Aww, too bad. It's Cancer."
The shooting guard jumped at the sound of his horoscope. Stopping his actions in packing his towels and change of clothes in his sports bag, the Shutoku ace slowly turned around to face the television in the living room.
"It's dangerous outside." The horoscope news spoke, showing an animated crab with a sad face. "If you do go out, make sure you're fully prepared. Your lucky item is dried mushrooms. And there you have it! Have another great day!"
Resuming his in his task, Midorima quickly zipped his bag shut before heading out the door of his home. His body froze at the sight of a black cat across the street locking his gaze with him. Hand shaking, Midorima slowly brought his phone up to his ear, waiting for the call to connect.
"Takao." His voice became heavy. "Bring me some dried mushrooms."
Stepping out of the train, Kagome stopped after a few steps upon feeling a familiar aura also getting off. Her head turned to the right; she blinked upon seeing blonde.
Lips curling into a smile, Kagome waved back as Kise rushed through the crowd to meet with her. Out of everyone she thought she would bump into, it was him. Not that she minded, but she was slowly worrying if her choice of accepting Momoi's invitation was right.
"You decided to come!" Kise grinned before picking the girl up in his arms.
"K-Kise-kun!" She stuttered, feeling her body flame up at the glued stares of others walking by. "P-Put me down!"
"Oh," he chuckled, "gomen! I just got so excited that you decided to come. I mean, it's very rare for me to see you out on a regular day and not just on the court." He pouted, thinking about Kuroko and Kagami having most of their time spent with the miko. "I should transfer to Seirin."
Flattening out the wrinkles on her leggings and sports shirt, she gave Kise a dead-eye fish look. "That would make you look bad with Kaijo." She spoke. "I don't think Kasamatsu-senpai would be happy about that."
"Hm, you're right." He scratched his cheek. "I think he would come all the way from his college just to give me a kicking. So," he caught her attention as they scanned their train pass out of the gates, "what made you decide to come?"
Kagome gave him a shrug, taking a turn to their destination. "Don't know; I thought about what Momoi-chan said. I am only doing it for Kuroko-kun."
Fake tears streamed down Kise's cheeks. "So you aren't here for me?"
"It's Kuroko-kun birthday!" Huffing at Kise's need for attention, she adjusted the strap of her sports bag. She had left Kagami and the others in charge of the party preparations, but she wondered if it was still okay to invite the others? Then again, they were Kuroko's cherished friends. Arriving to the public court Momoi had given them direction to, Kagome looked around to see no one else around. "Guess we are early…"
"Let us stretch then!" Putting down his sports bag on the nearby bench inside the fenced basketball court, Kise began to stretch his arms.
"Ki-chan! Kagome-chan! Ohayou!"
Both turned towards the entrance of the court to see Momoi with Aomine behind.
"Momocchi, Aominecchi." Kise greeted.
Stretching out a yawn, Aomine cracked one eye open. "You two are way too early."
"No we're not." Kagome blinked, checking her watch. "We are here right on time." Feeling an arm on her shoulder, Kise gave Aomine a 'peace' sign. "O-Oi…"
"But events like these almost never happen!" Kise exclaimed. "But I think Kagomecchi and I are synced that we decided to ride the same train!" Leaning closer to the girl, he gave her a smile. "I think we are meant to be."
Sneaking out of Kise's hold the second Aomine pinched his cheek, she – one more – smoothed out her clothing before sensing another aura standing behind the blue haired male. A brow rose curiously before tilting her body slightly to the left to make sure if it was the person in mind.
From the corner of his eyes, Aomine's own eyebrow crooked up noticing the miko waving at something behind his back. What was she waving at? Slowly turning his head over his shoulder, he spoke. "Are we the only ones here-ah!"
"I'm here, too."
Kagome held back a chuckle at the jump in Aomine's aura from the fright he received. "Kuroko-kun, ohayou." She greeted as Kise added in his, too.
Blinking back at the miko, Kuroko was surprised to find her present. "Kagome-chan…you're here, too?" Did Momoi invite her for streetball as well?
"Sort of got a last-minute invitation." She chuckled before coming forward. "Happy birthday, Kuroko-kun."
A smile graced his lips before feeling another pair of arms wrapping around him.
"Tetsu-kun!" Momoi tackled him into a hug.
"I can't breathe, Momoi-san…" He chuckled nervously.
Setting him free of her hold, Momoi's cheeks blossomed in color. "Happy birthday!" As Kuroko gave her his gratitude, she took out a pink box with a white ribbon on top from her bag before handing it to the phantom player. "This is for you."
Kuroko took the gift in his hands, thanking her once again. Opening it up – as the other three leaned closer to see the gift – Kuroko took out a pink scarf: handmade.
"Oh," Aomine pointed at the accessory, "this is that thing you've been knitting lately."
"You made it yourself?" Kagome asked, a bit envious she had such skills to do something like that. "That is the one thing I never learned how to do…"
Momoi gave them a nod before grabbing the miko's hands. "I can teach you, Kagome-chan! You can teach me about cooking and I'll teach you how to sew!"
Aomine leaned closer, cupping his hand to the side of his lips to lean down to the miko's height. "That might not be a bad idea; she does need the skills to cook in the future."
She was sure the deadpanned look on her face was going to remain forever if his comments continue, but she knew he meant well. Sighing under her breath, their focus was pulled away from the scarf after hearing a bell coming closer to them. Turning their heads over their shoulders, the five of them blinked in unison at the sight of the bicycle pulling the wooden wagon behind.
"Hey, hey, hey! Thanks for waiting!" Pressing the heels of his shoes on the ground to stop the cart, a wide smile was given with two fingers giving a salute.
"Takao-kun?" Kagome blinked. "And…" All of them tilted their heads to side to get a better look at the person inside the wagon.
"Midorin!" Momoi shouted with glee.
With crossed arms, Midorima refrained from looking back at his old teammates. "Takao," he grumbled, "I only told you to buy me my lucky item, nanodayo."
A sweat drop loomed over the miko's head as she heard Takao sigh in defeat and take out the said item from the front basket. Did he have Takao bring him here in that? Why did they even have it in the first place? Walking to the back of the cart, Kagome gave Midorima a smirk. "So you did end up coming."
Midorima jolted in his seat the second he saw Kagome appear. "Higurashi, what are you doing here?" Pushing his glasses in, he made sure it was her. He did not receive the memo of the miko coming to join the said 'party'. Not that he was coming; he was brought by force.
"Dragged here as well." She smiled. "But I am glad you came."
"As promised," Takao smile, watching the shooting guard come out of the cart, "I brought him here."
"Arigatou, Takao-kun!" Momoi spoke, surprising the others of their exchange gratitude.
Taking the dried mushroom package from Takao's hands, Midorima's eyes narrowed putting two and two together. "Momoi, did you…"
"Yeah." She nodded without any embarrassment. "Takao-kun called me."
As his brow twitched with the news, Midorima sent a glare to his teammate. "Why do you have Momoi's number?"
"Not just, Momoi-chan's!" Takao grinned. "I also have Kagome-chan's! Right?"
Nodding to his question, Kagome quickly shook her head before turning to the point guard. "Wait, what? How does everyone have my number?!" Much to her disappointment, she watched Takao quickly get back on the bike and wave them goodbye before she could interrogate him. Her guesses were down to Momoi having everyone's information. Nodding to herself, she gave another look to Midorima, still amazed to see him present. 'I guess Takao-kun was the only one who could do the job to bring him…'
Midorima pushed his glasses in again before turning to face the phantom player. "Well, as long as I'm here, I suppose I must participate."
"You're a difficult one, aren't you?" Aomine sighed, looking at the shooting guard up and down: he was fully prepared.
Choosing to ignore Aomine's words, Midorima pulled out a little baby chick keychain up to Kuroko's eye level. "Kuroko." He called.
Kuroko blinked at the item between his bandages fingers before letting it fall onto his palm. "What is this?"
"It's Aquarius' lucky item for the day." He replied. "It wouldn't be any fun if something happened to you on your birthday."
"Ah, hai." Kuroko smiled back, accepting the gift. "Arigatou gozaimasu."
"He meant to come all along." Kise sighed with a smile, standing next to the miko.
Having to agree with him, Kagome and Aomine nodded. To think they had the definition of a tsundere with them. Keeping their chuckles inside, Momoi's gasp made their attention glide to the back. Smiles and snickered were paused as they saw the emperor walking towards them with a smile of his own. They had known about him 'accepting' Momoi's invitation to come, but they never thought he would do so seeing he would be coming all the way from Kyoto.
The miko's lips pressed together to form a small smile of her own as Kuroko greeted his former captain to the group.
"Miina," he spoke, "thanks for waiting."
"Akashicchi," Kise took a step forward, "you came all the way from Kyoto?"
"Yeah. Kuroko, happy birthday." Akashi nodded back; eyes fell on the miko standing beside the phantom player. "I'm glad you decided to come, Higurashi-san."
"Eh?" The group sent their confused blinks to the miko. Watching her shrug, she scratched her cheek knowing the others wanted answers.
Before any of them could start with a flood of questions, Kagome decided to shift the conversation to something more light hearted seeing as almost everyone was together now. "Well, it's been a while since all of you have come together, right? Not since middle school, huh?"
"Yeah," Akashi smiled, looking at each of his former members, "you're right."
"But," Kise scratched the back of his head, "that's five of us here, though."
Midorima sighed, looking around for any sign of the sweet-eater. "Murasakibara, huh?"
Not missing Momoi's worried expression, Akashi chuckled. "Murasakibara should be getting here soon."
The rustling of brushes made their heads turn to the left. Eyes blinked simultaneously at the sight of the tall center appearing behind a tree as he brushed the branches away from his eyes.
"Mukkun!" Momoi exclaimed, surprised by his appearance.
"Sugee," Aomine blinked, "Akashi was right."
"But, Murasakibaracchi, you really didn't want to come…" Kise tilted his head to the side. He had heard the conversation, and he was sure he had been set on his decision.
Stepping over a few more bushes in his way, Murasakibara groaned while finishing the last bites of his pocky stick in his mouth. "I just stopped by since I was already in Tokyo."
"What?" Momoi blinked. "You were?"
"I scheduled a practice game between Rakuzan and Yosen." Akashi cut in, turning to face the others. "Since we're located far away from each other, we decided to meet in the middle, but...," his eyes dropped to the miko giving him the 'x' with her fingers, "it was Higurashi-san's idea for me to set the practice game."
"Huh?" The group's eyes fell on the said girl.
Frozen at their stares, the corner of her lips slowly curved into a smile. "Hey…"
"Your idea?!" Aomine exclaimed. "When did this happen?"
"Well," she sighed, looking away to avoid their interrogating stares, "when Murasakibara-kun didn't agree to come, I thought about who he actually listens to and," her eyes landed on the emperor, "I thought of Akashi-kun."
"Tch," Aomine crossed his arms, "you think of him, but not me?"
"This is not the time, baka." She glared. It was no lie; she seriously thought about who would be the only person Murasakibara would listen to. With the help of Shippou and Kouga, she received Akashi's number and call him up. "I called Akashi-kun about the whole thing, and we said the only way Murasakibara would be dragged here is if it had to do with practice. It took a while, but Akashi-kun helped with most of it." Her eyes landed on Kuroko – who watched her with astonishment at her quick thinking. "I know it wouldn't be a reunion if one person was missing."
Slowly, a smile made its way onto Kuroko's lips one more; she had done it for him. He was aware of her avoidance to call the others, but she had done it to bring everyone together even if it was not her initial job. "Arigatou gozaimasu, Kagome-chan."
She returned the smile before a sudden hug held her captive.
"Arigatou, Kagoem-chan!" Momoi grinned. "You really saved the day! Now everyone is here!"
"Hai. Hai." She chuckled, deciding to let the hug pass.
A rare smile of his own appeared as the miko was surrounded by his former teammates. Having received the call in the first place from an unknown number had him curious, and the moment he answered, he was taken back to hear the familiar sassy voice he had come to appreciate.
The voice that saved him.
"Well," Akashi spoke, "shall we get started?"
"Here, Kagome-chan." Handing the miko three yellow cropped jerseys, Momoi sent her a smile while pulling out the ball from Aomine's bag. "Can you hand them out to one of the teams?"
Nodding to her request, Kagome walked over to the boys only to stop as soon as she saw them draw sticks to decide who would be with who. Those who pulled out the three short sticks ended up being on the same side, but to her, it did not seem they were pleased with the results.
"Looks like we are on the same team, Tetsu." Aomine grinned, seeing the glare on Kise's face.
"You're right." Kuroko nodded back.
"We won't lose, though!" Kise pointed a finger at them. "Next time I'll be sure to be with Kurokocchi!"
Murasakibara looked down at the emperor who walked towards the miko who held the yellow jerseys in her hands. "You won't beat me, Akachin."
"Or me." Midorima added from behind.
Chuckling at their determination to beat him, Akashi nodded before turning to the silent miko. "Thank you." He spoke, grabbing one for himself, Aomine, and Kuroko.
"Midorima-kun, Murasakibara-kun, and Kise-kun…" Kagome whispered under her breath for Akashi to hear. "Something tells me this combination can be a little troublesome…"
"Well, maybe when they aren't playing, but their skills do go well together." Akashi added.
Hearing Midorima and Murasakibara already arguing, with Kise yelling Aomine for stealing Kuroko, Kagome's sweat drop loomed over her head. To think these six used to be on a team together and won three consecutive championships.
"Alright!" Momoi called, holding the ball between her hands as she came to the middle of the court. "We're playing three-on-three, but we will play full court like it's five man teams. But each game is ten minutes, okay? Now," throwing the ball up in the air, she began the game, "let's tip off!"
Moving back with Momoi, Kagome blinked as soon as Murasakibara stole the tip off from Aomine and pushed it perfectly into Midorima's hands. Without letting another second pass, Midorima easily released the ball up in the air as everyone's eyes followed the arc down into the basket: point made.
A vein popped out of Aomine's forehead as he turned to the shooting guard. "Oi! Midorima! Don't finish the play with a single shot!"
"Yeah," Kise agreed for once, "that wouldn't be a game."
"Fools," he pushed his glasses in, "whoever strikes first wins, nanodayo."
Chuckling at Midorima's comeback, the miko made her way to the bench to sit beside Momoi. As the game went on, her eyes followed each of their fluid and precise movements. Despite it being a fun street ball game, they were still serious. Her eyes widened slightly the second Midorima made a quick pass to Kise, surprising her and everyone else.
"Everyone has changed…" Momoi whispered.
"Huh?" Kagome blinked, turning her focus to the girl beside her. "Changed?"
"Not in a bad way," she shook her head, "and I'm not saying they were bad people before, but…I think those broken bonds have been healed. This was the way it was at first; this was how they use to play."
Kagome noticed the tears clinging at the corner of her eyes, making her wonder if things were finally good between the Generation of Miracles. Her eyes landed back on Aomine and Kuroko working together to make a shot before giving each other a fist bump. It had to be. As a smile decorated the miko's lips, her expression softened. Even if all of them were sometimes a pain in her butt, she could not deny one thing.
She was grateful to them for accepting her.
"This isn't good. I have no idea where I'm going." Looking down at the drawn map in his hands to the map outside the train station, the Yosen shooting guard hooked his fingers under his chin in thought. "Couldn't you have drawn a better map, Taiga?"
Screeching his tires to a full stop, Takao blinked as he saw the teen standing in front of the map. "Huh?" He blinked. "I knew you looked familiar. You're Yosen's Himuro-san, aren't you?"
Turning to his name, Himuro looked over his shoulder to see Takao riding his bike and a…wooden wagon? "You're Shutoku's Takao-kun, right?"
Takao nodded back before realizing seeing Himuro in Tokyo was a bit odd considering Yosen was nowhere near. "What's a guy from Akita doing out here?"
"As you can see," he sighed, "I'm lost."
"Lost?" Takao laughed.
"What are you doing with that thing?" Himuro pointed at the cart.
"Ah, this? I had a delivery to make! But if you're lost, want me to show you the way? I know this area pretty well."
"Thanks," Himuro sighed, "Taiga's explanation was a bit rough." Showing Himuro the vague drawing of directions Kagami had made for him, he understood Takao's sweat drop.
"I-It certainly is…"
"I'm not on Kurokocchi's team again…" Kise whined, pouting at the sight of the phantom player giving Akashi's and Aomine's yellow jerseys to Midorima and Murasakibara. Switching teams at the end of the first game, Kagome was given the task to make them pick the sticks once again. To see their faces was probably the best part for the miko, but as soon as Murasakibara and Midorima got paired again, she decided to avoid the group.
"Eh~," Murasakibara groaned, "I have to play with Midochin again?"
"We drew lots." Kuroko added, hoping to ease the tension.
"Well," Akashi smiled, "let's get game two started, shall we?"
Kagome's eyes followed back and forth as the ball was passed, thrown, and dunked by the smiles of the basketball bakas. Even as Kuroko failed his shot, she could not help but chuckle while Momoi prepared her camera at the other side of the bench. 'I see now why they are labeled as the best players of this generation.' Closing her eyes, a gentle bump at her feet made her look down. She blinked at the orange ball having rolled to her shoes.
"You're in," Akashi spoke, making her look up, "Higurashi-san."
"Huh?" She pointed at herself. "Me?" Tilting her head to the side, she noticed the other basketball boys waiting for her to come in; her head turned towards Momoi's direction, seeing her smile and wave her hand up and down signaling for her to go. "Are…," her focus returned to the emperor, "you sure?"
He nodded back before replying. "Of course. Everyone is waiting for you."
Grabbing the ball from her feet, she slowly stood up to see Kuroko in front of the group. "Join us, Kagome-chan."
"Kagomecchi, hurry up!"
"Gomechin, you can come to my team~."
"Baka," Midorima sighed, "we have to re-do teams, nanodayo."
"Tch," Aomine smirked, watching her hold the ball, "don't think I'll hold back just because you are Seirin's manager."
Smirking back, Kagome shook her head as she spun the ball over her finger – earning her a few blank stares from the boys. "Wouldn't dream of it." She chuckled, walking past the smiling emperor.
Akashi followed her with his eyes, holding back his own snicker as soon as she lost balance of the ball and hitting Aomine's chin. Akashi caught Momoi staring at him with a closed-eye smile that only made him shake his head with a sigh. Even as Kagome apologized, the others laughed (or smirked) at Aomine's and Kagome's bickering. She was definitely a person far stronger than they were. 'I'm looking forward to the next game.'
"Kawahara, move those letters up a little." Izuki instructed, seeing the first-years trying their best to decorate the living room in Kagami's apartment. "There you go! That's it! And Furihata," he called, "why don't you add a red ribbon there?" Hearing the scissoring of another behind him, Izuki raised a brow to see his captain fidgeting with construction paper and a pair of scissors. "How are you doing, Hyuga?"
"Well," he turned around, showing him the connected paper art he made, "that should do it!"
As a sweat drop loomed over Izuki's head to see Hyuga's proud smile, Kagami came from behind, amazed at the artwork. "Captain! That's amazing!" The doorbell to his apartment rung, making him walk to check on the guest. Opening the door, Kagami blinked before a smile made its way on his lips.
"Tatsuya!" Kagami sighed with relief. "I was worried since you were late."
"I got lost because of you." Himuro shook his head, making his way into the genkan. "Fortunately, someone came along and saved me." Moving to the side, he presented his tour guide.
Kagami blinked, taking a step back. "T-Takao!?"
"I have delivered your lost child to you." He grinned.
Eyes scrunching in thought, Kagami's head pictured Himuro riding the wooden wagon they recognized. "Delivered? You don't mean…?"
"Since he's here, would it be all right if he joined us?" Himuro asked.
Seeing no problem with the extra person, Kagami nodded. "Yeah, it's no problem at all."
With the given permission to stay, Takao gave him a salute while taking off his shoes. "Excuse the intrusion, then!"
"Taiga," Himuro spoke, showing him a bag of omiyage, "this is for you: kiritanpo."
As Takao entered the main room, he greeted those present. "Hello, Seirin!"
Izuki and Hyuga blinked in unison at Takao's sudden appearance before asking the question at the same time. "Takao? Why?"
"Excuse me." Himuro came in, giving them a warm smile.
"Himuro, too?" Hyuga questioned. "Now that's a surprise."
"Taiga invited us." Himuro explained before being given a blue apron from his childhood friend. "By the way," he spoke, "how's Alex?"
Putting on the apron on himself, Kagami blinked before bringing out his phone from his pocket. "She really seems to have taken a liking to Japan." Bringing up a picture of her on his screen, he sighed to show Himuro of her having taken a selfie in the hot springs – bare. "Kouga-san, Kagome's friend, became her tour guide."
Whistling at the picture with amazement and boldness their master had, both were quickly ambushed by the others trying to get a view of the said selfie.
"What?!" Izuki exclaimed, cheeks burning at the sight.
"What a body!" Hyuga added.
Takao's own curiosity got the best of him seeing the blonde. "Who's that beautiful lady?!"
Walking over to the kitchen to help with the preparations, Himuro was surprised to see the list of things the miko had written on a piece of paper for the menu. "She really is well prepared, huh?"
Shrugging with a smile, Kagami was able to give the phone to them to avoid their tackling. "Well, she said it's for a special someone, so I couldn't argue with her on that."
Groaning after taking a sip of his water bottle, Aomine looked at the emperor standing beside him. "Isn't Akashi the only one who didn't lose today?" In all games, Akashi had won no matter which team he had been placed in. In the end, Akashi, Kagome, Kuroko, and Kise were teamed together and most of the time, Aomine was busy teasing Kagome to make her concentration break.
"Is that right?" Akashi replied, lowering his water bottle from his hands.
Kise nodded, handing another water bottle to Momoi – who had joined in the last game. "You always get the best deal for yourself."
"It may be a game, but it's still irritating, nanodayo." Midorima added, giving the emperor a mild glare.
Sighing out of tiredness and feeling his stomach grumble, Murasakibara squatted down. "I'm hungry~."
"Then, shall we call it, then?" Akashi asked, looking at Momoi and Kagome who sat on the bench.
Having heard Murasakibara being hungry, Kagome gave Kuroko a look before looking at everyone else. She knew she would be giving Seirin a heart attack. "Actually, if none of you are busy after this, Seirin and I have a party for Kuroko-kun later at Kagami-kun's place. All of you are more than welcome to come."
"A party!?" Kise exclaimed. "I'm there!"
"I wouldn't mind." Aomine smirked. "I am quite curious what that baka's place looks like."
"There better be a lot of food, Gomechin…"
"Why not?" Akashi turned his head to the miko. "Sounds like fun."
"Ah, chotto matte!" Standing from her seat, Momoi walked over to her camera on the tripod before pointing at everyone to stand in the middle of the court. "Before that, why don't we take a picture together?"
As everyone agreed with the idea, although they complained about it at first, Kagome stood up and walked over to Momoi. "You want me to take it, Momoi-chan?"
"Huh?" Momoi tilted her head to the side. "Well, I was thinking of taking two pictures: one of Teiko together, and the new addition!"
'New…addition?' Kagome blinked back. Was she the new addition?
"Hurry up, Satsuki." Aomine groaned as Kise and him pushed each other for the spot they wanted.
"Give me a second!" She shouted. "You first, Kagome-chan!"
Feeling the push behind her back, Kagome stumbled a few feet before coming face-to-face with Kuroko's smile and Akashi's. Her eyes scanned the looks of the others looking down at her, making her cheeks reddened. Realization hit her hard, making her turn away from them and coming to stand between the phantom player and emperor. "L-Let's just take the picture, then!"
"Eh~," Kise pouted, "I want to be next to Kagomecchi!"
"I'll carry Gomechin." Murasakibara took a step forward only to be stopped by Midorima.
"You aren't carrying anyone here."
Momoi blinked back as the timer ticked on its own to take the picture, but seeing as everyone was occupied with their fighting who would stand next to Kagome, she could only smile. She would let them do their own thing.
The flash popped out; no one realized when the picture was taken except for the emperor.
With the doorbell ringing again, Furihata turned away from placing the plate of kaarage on the table. Walking to the door, Furihata smiled, hoping to see Riko and the others. "Ah! Good evening-!" He froze immediately at the sight before him.
"Hey, Furihata-kun, right?"
Kagome sighed, peering her head out from behind the emperor – who he and everyone had changed out of their basketball gear. With an apologetic smile, she saw Furihata's legs shake noticing the rest of the Miracles present. "Gomen, Furihata-kun, but I brought Kuroko-kun's friends over. Hope you don't mind."
The shout from the genkan caught everyone's attention from the living room. Looking towards the entrance, Kagami stood up from the floor to greet his senpais. "You're late, senpai-!"
"Eh, you live in a pretty nice place, don't you?"
"Aomine!?" Kagami shouted. "What the hell are you doing here!?"
One by one, the rest popped into the living room, surprising Seirin, Himuro, and Takao who waited for Riko and the others to arrive. The last to enter, while pushing an unconscious Furihata into the room, Kagome sighed tiredly knowing Seirin wanted answers to the sudden guests.
"Hey!" Kise smiled, greeting everyone in the room.
"Captain," Kuroko turned to his teammates, "Izuki-senpai. I'm surprised you're here, too."
"We're the ones surprised, too…" Hyuga whispered. "You brought the Generation of Miracles with you?"
Coming forth, Akashi gave them a bow. "Excuse the intrusion. I'm Rakuzan's Akashi."
"We know who you are!" Izuki exclaimed.
"Takao," Midorima called out, seeing his teammate watching TV, "what are you doing here?"
"Shin-chan! I should be asking you the same thing! Boy! This got exciting!"
Himuro blinked, seeing Murasakibara already eyeing the table full of food. "Atsushi."
"Huh?" Murasakibara spoke. "Murochin, is this where you've been?"
Sighing under her breath, Kagome took a step forward to remove her coat only to notice Aomine rummaging through the shelves of the TV stand, then in a book shelf, and moving to the coffee table shelves itself. "Aomine-kun," she spoke, "what are you doing?"
"Well, this baka is no fun." He groaned with distaste. "He doesn't have a single dirty magazine."
"I'm not like you!" Kagami shouted.
With the corner of her lips twitching, Kagome shook her head. What kind of person went into another person's home in search for that? Deciding to ignore him, she made her way forward to place her coat on one of the stools. She stopped as soon as she heard Mirodima taking a seat between Murasakibara and Himuro.
"Don't start eating snacks as soon as you arrive." Midorima spoke, stopping the said center from eating the chips. "It's rude." His eyes caught Murasakibara putting down the bag of chips and heading for the bag of kiritanpo Himuro brought. "Don't eat the kiritanpo, either."
"Atsushi," Himuro called, leaning back to look at his teammate, "you have to wash your hands first."
With a stretched-out mouth, Murasakibara nodded lazily. "Hai~."
Following Murasakibara walking over to the kitchen to wash his hands, Kagome shook her head again seeing all the Miracles being handled like children. Although they were a heavy bunch, they definitely brought a different light into the room. She set her coat down on the stool beside the door frame, only to hear the doorbell ring. "I'll get it." She whispered, noticing no one having paid attention to her. Making her way to the door, she opened it to see the rest of the Seirin members giving her warm smiles. "Hi, senpais!" A light bark caught her attention to Mitobe's arms. "Nigou! You came, too!"
Hearing the noise from the other room, Riko titled her head to the side. "Why does it sound like there are twenty people in there?"
"Because," she grabbed Nigou, "with them it does seem like there are twenty people."
Giving the miko questionable looks, Seirin went ahead as Kagome closed the door behind them. Arriving to the living room, they immediately stopped at the sight of the Generation of Miracles, Momoi, Takao, and Himuro having joined the celebration.
"W-What's going on here?" Riko stuttered. "What is everyone doing here?"
Kiyoshi's eyes went over to the sink, seeing the familiar purple hair. "Oh! Murasakibara! You're here, too?"
"Geh," his brow twitch at the familiar voice, "Kiyoshi…"
"Ma, ma," Kagome came in, giving Murasakibara a wave of her hand, "Murasakibara-kun. Don't make that face to your seniors."
A bark from Kagome's arms quickly made Kagami jolt from his spot; he quickly sprung up on his feet and backed away seeing the pet in her arms. His eyes narrowed with shock as Kagome lifted him up for him to see. "N-Nigou!?"
"What?" Kagome smirked. "You thought you would be free of him? He is part of the team, you know?"
"Ah! Kawaii!" Momoi jumped up, coming to 'bop' Nigou's nose.
Kagome smiled as Aomine, Kise, and Akashi joined in to pet their mascot. "You said his name is 'Nigou'?" Akashi asked, grabbing her attention. "Does that mean there is a number one?"
"Huh?" She blinked. Realizing what he meant, Kagome pointed at the phantom player standing beside her. "Right here."
"Domo." He spoke. "I'm number one."
"Don't they look alike?" Kagome asked, comparing Nigou and Kuroko side by side.
Nodding to the comparison, Akashi placed his fingers under his chin. "Indeed."
As Nigou was taken by Momoi to play with, she scooted over to sit on the chair between Kuroko and Kagami. Her eyes softened as everyone seemed to be getting along quiet well.
"This…is quite the crowd." Kagami whispered.
"Sumimazen," Kuroko apologized, "I should have made sure it was okay with you first."
Shaking his head, Kagami did not mind the extra company. After all, it was his birthday and he was free to enjoy it with whoever he wanted. "Don't apologize." He spoke. "The more the merrier, right?"
"Nee, Kagome-chan?" Furihata called, watching the miko take a sip of orange juice. "Did Sesshomaru-sama say anything else about us? You know…knowing the secret and all."
Everyone froze; Kagome choked on her drink.
Looking back and forth from the almost dying miko and the frozen first year (who caught his mistake), Akashi lifted a brow. "Sesshomaru-sama?" He repeated. Eyes landed on Kagome, seeing her grab a napkin. "You know, I had my doubts, but to me it seemed you knew him. Do you, Higurashi-san?"
"Um…," she chuckled nervously, "sort of?" If Sesshomaru had any kind of spies near them, she was sure they were all dead and she could not promise their heads to stay attached to their bodies. "Very complicated to explain!"
Izuki and Hyuga quickly tackled Furihata on the ground, already fearing the inu youkai, but Furihata had spilled the beans! They were going to die young!
"I see." Akashi nodded. Giving everyone time to calm down, his focus returned to the miko taking another sip to ease her worries. "And this secret?"
Kagome spitted out the drink; eyes widened at Akashi's curiosity. If they could tell him anything, it was best not to know the threat they received from certain demons.
"Would it be bad to tell him? Kiyoshi added, quickly feeling a light slap on the back of his head from his coach.
"Of course it is! Sesshomaru-sama warned us and Kagome-chan! Remember? We aren't to tell anyone!"
The miko exhaled – heavily exhaled. Shoulders slumped, there was no hiding it or sugar coating any of it. Knowing Akashi, he probably would continue to ask her or the others about the 'secret'. If he were to know, it was best she told him the story. With a pout, Kagome set her cup down on the table. She would have to have another talk with Sesshomaru and the others. "Akashi-kun," she cleared her throat, "I am telling you this because well…if Kuroko-kun and the others trust and respect you, then I am sure you can keep a secret."
He blinked, wondering what this secret was about. Waiting for her to continue, he noticed the others having fallen silent while Hyuga, Kogenai, and Izuki shook in fear.
"I…," she took a deep breath in, "am a miko."
Everyone waited to hear something out of him – anything. Was he surprised? Angry? Thinking they were crazy?
Feeling more nervous herself, Kagome's palms began to sweat seeing his eyes glued on hers. She told him everything. Everything. Even saying Sesshomau and the others they met were demons from the feudal era. "Akashi-kun…?" She whispered, hoping to pull him back to reality.
"Ah," he blinked, "sumimazen. I am just…shocked." If it had been all of them hearing this story for the first time, he was sure everyone would be denying it, but after hearing Kise adding in about her healing his injury caused by Haizaki, Kouga and Shippo showing everyone their true identities in person, and Kagome's family backing her up on this, he was believing it. But to hear she had been able to read all their auras since the beginning, it would explain her knowing his distress during the final match. He smiled, setting down his cup on the table. "I always knew there was something special about you."
The miko blinked, taken back by his compliment; the others looked at him as if a second head had grown out of his neck.
"It's…amazing to think you went through such hardships yourself, and endured it all," he continued, "but it's more amazing to think that such a special person graced us with her presence."
"Oi," Aomine glared, "if you are trying to be smooth about this, back off, Akashi."
"I, for once, agree with him." Kagami crossed his arms.
"I am only saying the truth." Akashi's smile matched his closed eyes.
Hearing Hyuga and the others sigh in relief over Akashi's easy acceptance of her story, Kagome looked around. Did they really believe her? That she had been able to travel five hundred years in the past and fight off demons to protect the innocent? Her heart warmed up; her eyes watered. Shaking the emotions away, she caught everyone's attention. It was time to move forward. If everyone was accepting her and her story, then that was all she needed.
"Then, let's start!" Holding a plate, she handed to the birthday bot. "It's your special day, Kuroko-kun." Waiting for everyone gather around the table, Kagome smiled at the sight of everyone enjoying the day with rivalries set aside. Past conflicts and troubles had flown out of the window, and the auras of everyone calmed her down. She chuckled at the sight of Kise and Momoi trying to fill Kuroko's plate with everything offered on the table while Kagami and Aomine battled it out on who can eat the most kaarage. To see Midorima in complete horror in losing his lucky item due to Himuro using them to add flavor to the hotpot in front of them only made her smile. It was rare for these kinds of interactions to occur, but they were a gift she was sure Kuroko was cherishing. The rarest sight was to see a smiling emperor interacting with the other Seirin first years, while the second years tried to feed Nigou all kinds of foods.
A weird, but special group of friends.
Then again, her past friends were never normal neither.
Looking at the black sky lighted with flickers of plane lights and a full moon, Kuroko smiled hearing the laughter and enjoyment behind him. Having come out for some fresh air on the balcony, Kuroko smiled as he saw Nigou drinking some water out of his bowl. Today had been filled of nothing but fun and smiles. A day he would not trade for anything.
He blinked out of his staring before turning his head over his shoulder. Smiling at the miko stepping out to join him, he helped her by offering his hand to her.
"Arigatou." She smiled sheepishly as she jumped over the small hose Kagami had forgotten to roll away. She had seen Kuroko standing outside, and although his aura read peace, she wondered what was in his mind. "Are you okay, Kuroko-kun?"
"Of course." He nodded. "Why the question, Kagome-chan?"
She shrugged back, joining to enjoy the view and cool breeze. "Did you enjoy your day?" Hearing no reply after three seconds, the miko looked at the phantom player from the corner of her eyes. Her lips parted; her eyebrows lifted slightly seeing the soft expression on his face. She did not need a vocal answer. His expression was enough to say it all.
Nodding to herself, Kagome rubbed her arms as she felt a cool breeze dance through. Despite the coat on her, she was surprised how quick the temperature dropped from the afternoon to night. Remembering she had not given Kuroko's present – wanting to wait until the end – Kagome dug her hand into the pocket of her coat to bring out a small white box with a small light blue ribbon on top. "Here."
Kuroko blinked, turning her way to see the box in her hand. "What's this?"
"Your present, silly." She chuckled. "Your birthday present."
Not expecting to get a physical present from the miko, Kuroko let the present come onto his palms. Having her throughout the whole day to enjoy his time with the others was enough, and the party she planned was the icing on a cake. She had done so much already – throughout the whole tournament. Slowly opening the box, his eyes widened slightly at the blue sphere attached to the charm with his surname.
"That's the Shikon no Tama," she spoke, "well, a replica that my grandfather sells at the shrine. He decided to get different colored ones to attract kids and such, but…to me, the Shikon no Tama was what changed my life." Giving him a smile, she tilted her head to the side. "The Shikon no Tama grants any wish, but in reality, the Shikon no Tama only brought me friends and created memories far worthier than any grand wish I had in the past. I just wanted to give you one since, well you know, you accepted me into your world while also accepting mine."
Touched by the gift, Kuroko's lips curved into a genuine smile as he brought out the charm to his eyes. If the Shikon no Tama was like this in real life, he could see why demons were mesmerized by it. "Arigatou gozaimasu, Kagome-chan."
The smile on her lips stretched only to see Aomine and Kise leaning over Kuroko's body to see his present. "O-Oi…"
"So this is what you got him?" Aomine asked, grabbing it. "Eh~ it has his name? At least you didn't go with the milkshake idea."
"Ahomine!" She shouted. The last thing she wanted was for Kuroko to know what she wanted to gift him at first.
"I want one." Kise pouted, grabbing the charm from Aomine's hands. "Hey! Kagome-chan! Is there a yellow one?"
"Why are we all here?" Murasakibara yawned, coming out to join the group out on the balcony. "It's cold."
Glaring at the tall teen over his shoulders, Aomine shooed him away. "Then go back inside."
Curious about the charm itself, Midorima grabbed it from Kise's hands – ignoring his whine. "Charms, huh? Higurashi."
"Are there different kinds of charms for luck at your shrine?" He asked.
"I believe so?"
"Oi! That's Kuroko's gifts!" Kagami added in, taking the charm away. "And don't be asking Kagome for them! You all don't deserve it from her!"
Akashi, joining in, chuckled as he saw the Shikon no Tama attached at the end. So that was the jewel the miko had been talking about. To think this whole time Seirin's manager had traveled five hundred years back in time and fought against demons. Walking to stand beside the girl, Akashi kept his eyes on the guys. For a small balcony, he was surprised they all fit – a bit squished – but they fit. "You might be the main reason everyone was brought back together."
"Huh?" She turned her head to him. "What?"
"Nothing," he smiled again, "nothing at all."
Watching Akashi wanting to see the charm for himself, Kagome was left observing the boys who had made her gone crazy over the months. Guys she never thought she would befriend. They ended up giving her the normal life she wanted without forcing her to change or hide herself. Letting out a soft exhale, she stopped the tears threatening to drop. She only hoped she would never be in charge of taking care of them all at once.
"Yes!" Riko shouted, watching the balcony show from inside. As others joined in to observe from a far, they grabbed some chips and popcorn from the bowls to make the entertainment tasteful. "This is heating up!"
"You make it sound like it's some competition…" Hyuga's sweat drop appeared.
"It might as well be." Himuro chuckled. "It's what…a harem of sorts?"
"Man," Takao shook his head while clicking his tongue, "Shin-chan needs to step up his game for sure."
"Well then!" Riko stood from her spot, turning to the others while holding a mischievous grin. "Who wants to make bets?"
The winter vacation had its end, but to everyone else, it meant a goodbye. As the first day back to school ended, eyes widening at the message on her screen. Kagome quickly pushed her phone back into her school bag while packing the rest of her things. Skipping her goodbyes, the miko sprinted out the door of her class as soon as the bell rung.
A curse blew out of her lips while dodging collisions with other students who exited the school. Practice would matter another day, but right now her friend mattered more.
'Bakas!' Her eyes narrowed with impatience. 'Why didn't they tell me!?'
"Hey!" Opening the gym doors, Kagami blinked at the sight of only the first years – minus Kuroko and Kagome – practicing. "Huh? Where are the senpais?"
"Baka," Fukuda sighed, turning to see the tall ace coming in, "did you already forget? They're sending Kiyoshi-senpai off."
"Oh, shit! That was today?" Placing his hand over his head, Kagami was shocked at his small space of memory to have forgotten an important date. Scratching the back of his neck, he took another look around the gym. "Huh? Kagome and Kuroko aren't here neither…"
"You really are forgetful." Kawahara snickered. "Well, Kiyoshi-senpai and the others said we didn't need to go, but…I saw Kagome-chan running off the moment the bell rung."
Grabbing the ball from the floor, Furihata came forth as he saw Nigou running around the stage up ahead. "The coach and the others left an hour early from school to catch up with Kiyoshi-senpai at the airport, so I think Kagome-chan must have heard or something. As for Kuroko, hm, we aren't sure where he is."
Narrowing his eyes suspiciously over at the dog, Kagami's guard increased having the feeling Kuroko would appear behind him at any moment. 'Hmm, where did they go?'
Gasping for any ounce of breath she could get, Kagome checked the departures left and right. The trains and buses she took could have not taken any longer, and she was beginning to fear Kiyoshi had left by the time she found the gate. Quickly checking the screens for the flight number, her eyes widened. 'I have twenty-five minutes!'
Kagome resumed her run around the airport, easily dodging baggage and people along the way. Since when were airports this big? As much as she wanted to take another five second break to catch her breath, she could not let another second pass by.
Seconds were a treasure at this point.
"I told them they didn't have to come, but I can't believe they really didn't…" Laughing whole heartedly, Kiyoshi gave a smile at his own reflection through the window seeing his plane ready to board.
"So you did want them to come!" Koganei exclaimed.
Riko sighed, looking over her shoulder to see the rest of the second years standing behind her. "Well, they're just doing what you told them. I am sure they wanted to come, too."
"They're probably sad, too." Tsuchida spoke, reassuring Kiyoshi's regret not seeing the first years one last time.
"You take care, Kiyoshi." Izuki cut in, giving him a pat on his shoulder.
"After surgery, depending on how rehab goes, he could recover quickly." Alex spoke, appearing from behind the brunette. After hearing Kagami's explanation about Kiyoshi's injury, she offered herself to help him around America seeing he had taken care of her own student. It was the least she could do. Not to mention, Kiyoshi had given everything in his last game; she was sure his injury was close to no repair. "Don't worry," she spoke, turning to the center, "you'll see the guys who couldn't come today soon."
Kiyoshi nodded back before noticing someone coming up to him from the corner of his eyes. Turning his head, he gave the captain a smile. It was harder on him; it was difficult for him to say goodbye.
"We'll be waiting." Hyuga whispered, giving him a genuine smile.
All second years, and Alex turned around at the shout. Hyuga's eyes widened, taken back by the sight of their manager running towards them. "K-Kagome-chan?"
"Kagome-chan?" Riko spoke, turning to face the girl. "W-What are you doing here?"
Hands at her knees, Kagome's eyes closed to take a moment to organize her thoughts. "I…I read your message right after the bell rung." She gulped, trying to hydrate her now dry throat. "I thought you said none of us were going to accompany Kiyoshi-senpai to the airport, Riko-senpai?"
"Well," she chuckled, "Hyuga-kun was going to cry if I didn't bring him."
Finally feeling her breathing normalize and her head clearing of the dizziness, the miko slowly straightened herself out to stare at the tall center standing on the other side of the group. While Hyuga tried to stop the teasing from his teammates, she came forth to stand before her senpai. She tilted her head up, chuckling at herself for barely realize just how tall he really was.
"Are you sure, Kiyoshi-senpai?" She whispered, not wanting the others to hear her.
Kiyoshi's smile remained, but his eyes narrowed worriedly seeing the tears clinging at the corner of her eyes. Perhaps this was the reason why he asked the first years to stay; it was hard enough to say goodbye to the second years. But her question meant more. She wanted to help him, but he could not allow it. It would only prove he was not strong enough to recover on his own. For now, she had to take care of the two she was put in charge of, and take care of the group of prodigies she had been given. He felt honored to have heard her story first, and to believe the girl in front of him had gone through deaths, battles, and seen what many cannot believe was amazing to him.
Kagome had proven herself and everyone around she was strong – stronger than them.
The miko blinked, seeing his eyes close to match his smile: no. Eyes slowly wandered down, trying her best to pull a smile of her own. "I see…"
"Don't worry, Kagome-chan," he whispered, "I'll be back before you know it."
Before she could say anything else, her senses picked up a familiar aura coming from the side. Her head turned before her eyes widened slightly at the sight of the silver haired youkai holding a briefcase while two assistants stood behind him. "Sesshomaru-sama?"
The name quickly made the second years turn to the direction of her voice and to the receiver. Eyes mimicked hers seeing the inuyoukai they feared. His eyes remained narrowed, and if they were not mistaken, they could see his claws almost poking out of his human nails. Was this expression glued to his face? They glanced at the miko's ability to remain unfazed and brave facing the inuyoukai. How did she even do it?
"Sesshomaru-sama," Kagome spoke again, turning to face him, "what are you doing here?" She checked the plane from the window over her shoulder seeing it was large, but she had always picture someone like him to be taking a private jet or something.
Whispering to his assistants – Kagome felt that were demons – to get him set up, he sighed, adjusting his coat. "I have a business trip in America."
"Business trip?" She repeated.
"A contract I have to look over in person." He replied. His eyes landed over the team – who jolted at the same time – before seeing the unfazed smile of the center. He overheard; he knew the situation. Sighing under his breath, his focus returned to the miko. "Miko," he called, gaining a confused look from Alex, "people need to get stronger on their own," her eyes widened slightly, "just like you did."
Silent, Kagome was unsure what to think. Had she been selfish to think helping Kiyoshi with her powers would make him stay? Scoffing at herself with a smile, her eyes dropped once more. She sure was selfish not even considering what Kiyoshi wanted. A hand resting on her head made the thoughts disappear before bringing her gaze upwards.
Gently ruffling her hair, Kiyoshi could only continue to smile even as he saw the tears on her face fall one by one and curve over her cheeks. "Look after the team, Kagome-chan, and everyone else. Everyone still needs you; don't change, Miko-chan." And it occurred to him she still had no idea the huge impact she left with the others, especially the Generation of Miracles.
Chuckling at the nickname, Kagome gave him a nod.
"Ah!" Kiyoshi spoke, turning to face the inuyoukai. "I don't think I have formally introduced myself, Sesshomaru-sama: Kiyoshi Teppei."
Kagome's lip twitched, along with the others seeing the carefree personality of their teammate as he faced the demon. Leave it to him to forget the danger he was standing before. Kagome chuckled lightly as she saw the confused and annoyed look on Sesshomaru. And leave it to him to not say anything back. People changed over the years, but Sesshomaru was the only one to show he had not.
"Be nice, Sesshomaru-sama." She whispered, receiving a mild glare.
"Sesshomaru-sama, first class is prepared for you." One of his assistants came forth, bowing down as she extended her arm out to guide him towards the gate.
Sesshomaru handed her his briefcase before giving the miko and the others one final glance. The others blinked in unison, not really expecting a vocal 'goodbye' from a man like him. The second years released a sigh together, making Kagome turn around to see find their auras slowly calming down.
"What?" She smiled. "Don't tell me he still makes you nervous?"
"I just hope we don't come face-to-face again." Koganei breathed out, placing his hand over his beating heart. "That man can kill with one gaze."
"Oh, he isn't so bad." Alex chuckled.
"He seems like a nice guy." Kiyoshi laughed, receiving a glare from the captain. Was he really going to be okay in America?
America. That was far – very far. Hyuga's shoulders dropped as his eyes wandered to his feet. His closest friend was leaving, and although it was for the best, it meant an empty year without the founder of their team. The one who started it all and dragged him into this.
"Well," Kiyoshi spoke, "this is it."
"He is in safe hands." Alex added. "I'll keep Taiga updated on everything to tell you all."
"Safe travels, Alex-san. Kiyoshi-senpai." Kagome whispered, seeing the two turning around to line up for boarding. She held the rest of her tears back; she wanted to send Kiyoshi off with a strong smile.
"This isn't the end." Riko whispered, coming to rest her head over the miko's shoulder. "It's barely starting."
Nodding back, Kagome looked out the window.
Life was just starting for all of them.
"That was an amazing game, Kuroko! I had goosebumps the whole time!" Kuroko smiled as he heard his childhood friend talk about their final game against Rakuzan over the phone. Waiting on a bench in a nearby park, Kuroko was surprised he had received the call from Ogiwara in the first place. But was nice to hear his voice once more.
"Monthly Basketball had a huge article on Seirin, too." Ogiwara continued. "Kuroko, I've decided. Next year, I'll play you guys. I promise that."
"Hai. I look forward to it." Lowering his phone to hang up, he smiled at the phone charm of the light blue Shikon no Tama the miko had gifted him with. A present he very much treasured.
"Tetsu-kun! Were you waiting long?"
"No," he smiled, standing up from his seat, "it's okay, Momoi-san."
Coming up to the phantom player, Momoi greeted him with a huge smile before digging her hand into her purse. "Here's the thing you asked for."
Taking the pink envelope from her hands, Kuroko opened it up and smiled brightly at the picture he was given. "Arigatou, Momoi-san."
A slam of a hand over the locker of his shoes made Kobori jolt as he walked towards the exit of the school building. He blinked, seeing the gloom pushing his captain down with no energy to change his shoes. "W-Wha…what's wrong with you, Kasamatsu?" He asked, seeing Moriyama patting his back.
"Ah," Moriyama's sweat drop loomed over his head, "you see, Kasamatsu and I have the same first choice school. I chose the school based off its high percentage of cute girls, but Kasamatsu wasn't so happy hearing that and hated how I wasn't taking the exams seriously." He guessed his motive only irked Kasamatsu further the moment he found out the results. Showing Kobori his results, he sighed. "I passed with a 'B', but…"
Both turned their heads to Kasamatsu's now quivering shoulders.
"He got a 'C'." Moriyama smiled nervously, knowing that would only push Kasamatsu down further.
"Well, that's a bit…" Unsure what to say, Kobori was left with the words dying off at the tip of his tongue.
"Kobori," Moriyama spoke, turning to his teammate, "you're applying there, too, right?"
Kasamatsu felt his entire body freeze up hearing Kobori's words. Did hard work even pay off? With his shoulders becoming heavier, he slowly closed the door to his locker before sluggishly walking out of the building.
"A-Ah!" Kobori laugh cracked as he tried to make his captain forget about exams. "I know. Let's go check out the gym! You'll feel better once you knock Kise around!"
"Isn't that an awful thing to say!?" Moriyama exclaimed.
Although he had no energy to go, Kasamatsu's curiosity got the best of him. Third years were to concentrate on their studies at this point, and all seniority over the team was to be transferred over. To leave a team he had taken care of for at least two years was a difficult thing to do, but he had faith in Kaijo.
He had faith in his team.
Kasamatsu stood at the door frame as the other two came beside him to see Hayakawa shouting to direct his teammates during practice.
"Look around you, Kise!" He shouted. "That won't work against Seirin!"
"Yeah, I know!" Kise shouted back, wiping the sweat from his chin.
As the team shouted to Hayakawa's command, Kasamatsu sighed with a small smile. Kaijo was in good hands, and he was happy to see Kise practicing harder than ever before. "Oh, well." He scratched the back of his head, turning his back to the gym. "Time to go back and study." Walking away, he had a flashback to Kise's pompous way of practicing in the beginning of the year.
Things had certainly changed.
'Or more like someone changed him.'
"Isn't this pretty bad?" Takao pouted as he gently dribbled the ball in front of him. His eyes wandered upwards as his mind began to jumble up with the thoughts that popped in his head.
"What's bad, nanodayo?"
With a heavy sigh, Takao's eyes lowered to see the shooting guard release the ball in his hands. "Otsubo-san, Miyaji-san, Kimura-san. They're all third years. You and I will be the only ones left. Everyone else is keeping at least three of their core players." Sighing again – for what seemed like the tenth time today – Takao closed his eyes. "Won't we be pretty far behind-oomf!"
"You don't think much of me, do you?" Their new captain scoffed as he saw the point guard rubbing the back of his head from the hit of the ball he threw.
Turning around, Takao and Midorima blinked at the sight of Miyaji's younger brother holding another ball with an irritated expression. "M-Miyaji-san!" Takao stuttered.
Yuyu's glare tightened, annoyed the two were looking down on him just because the third years had left the team. "I fell one step short of my brother, but this year I'll surpass him. As your captain, I'll prove it to you with results. I'm not as gentle as Otsubo-senpai. Prepare yourselves! And next year, Kimura-senpai's brother is joining, too."
"S-Seriously?" Takao blinked. Was Shutoku full of relatives now?
"We still have first and second years with potential, and the new first years are promising, too. It's not as simple as who has how many guys left."
Giving him a nod, Takao scratched his cheek as he felt the guilt for having spoken without thinking. "You're right. Sumimazen."
"Come to think of it," Yuya hummed, hooking his fingers under his chin, "Otsubo-senpai has a younger sibling who wants to play basketball, too."
"What!?" Takao exclaimed. "Just how many brothers do we have on the team!?"
"Wait, I've got a picture." Taking out his phone from his pocket, Yuya searched through his gallery before turning his phone to the two. "Her name is Otsubo Tae-chan."
"A girl!? She looks nothing like him!" His eyes took a peek of the Miracle beside him before a smirk crawled over his lips. "Well, if things don't go well with Kagome-chan, you can always try to make things work with our possible new manager~."
"Uruse, Takao." Midorima scoffed. "Why wouldn't things go well, nanodayo."
Takao blinked, taken back by his words. Wait, did that mean he was admitting his feelings? Holding back his laugh, the smirk on his lips stretched before nudging his side with his elbow. "Oh? Does that mean you are going to go for it and win Kagome-chan's heart? This will turn into a forbidden love story: Shutoku and Seirin!" He gave the shooting guard a thumbs up. "You have my blessing, Shin-chan!"
"You can't be serious."
"Hm? What do you mean, Atsushi?" Himuro asked, hearing the Miracle's steps becoming heavier as they walked on the path covered in snow.
Murasakibara sighs puffed out visibly, making him a bit irritated. "It snows too much in Akita."
"Ah, well, yeah, I agree." Himuro laughed at himself, seeing the mountains of snow with only a path shoveled for them to the train station. "I thought it was a natural disaster at first, too."
"I would understand if this were dried wheat cakes…also," Murasakibara sighed, "I've been wondering…" Looking over his shoulder, he noticed his two third year teammates following behind him. "But why are you here?"
"Of course we're here!" Fukui shouted back. "We just finished school!"
"We haven't graduated yet!" Okamura defended. "Did you think school ended when the season ended?"
Sighing, knowing Murasakibara cared for none of that, Fukui gave him a gentle smile. "We will be missing a few days starting next week for entrance exams. Our first choice schools are in Tokyo, after all."
"I thought you couldn't get into college without studying."
"That's why we are studying!" Fukui shouted again. Did anything go into his skull? "Quit messing with me!"
Nodding twice to move on the conversation, Muraskibara noticed the open school bag Fukui held with four notebooks filled of sticky notes. "Eh…" He whispered. "Then," he dug into his own bag, "you can have this." Placing a katsu curry maiubo on each of their hands, Murasakibara waved them goodbye as he walked away with Himuro. "Study hard."
"Yeah." Okamura nodded, looking at the snack in his hands. "They're just snacks, but he means well. Whoever controls him, I will want to meet that person one day."
Scoffing, Fukui shook his head. "Agreed."
"Practice~ practice~." Humming the word to herself as she skipped to the gym, Momoi stopped as she met with Hojo at the end of the outside hall leading to the basketball club. "Ah, Hojo-kun!"
"Konnichiwa, Momoi-san." He took a bow with his head. "You've been smiling more lately. Is it because Aomine-san started attending practice?"
"You think so?" She chuckled. Aside from practice, life for the airhead had been getting more interesting, and she was excited to see where it headed – for all of them. As Hojo opened the door for her to enter first, she immediately froze as she heard Wakamatsu voice echo with anger.
"Aomine's late!? That idiot!"
Dropping her notebooks, Momoi slowly made her way to the angered male. "C-Captain…"
"Oi, Momoi. Could you do that again?"
Nodding slowly to his request, Momoi slowly took out her phone and began to send a picture message to the 'idiot'. They waited five minutes in silence before hearing the doors slamming open and revealing an angered ace.
"Give me back my Mai-chan!" Aomine shouted, having received a threat from Momoi they would burn his magazines if he continued to skip. How dare they touch his precious magazines!?
"Ah," Wakamatsu spoke, grabbing a ball from the cart, "you're here."
"That's one underhanded way to-" Catching the ball in his hands, Aomine blinked, eyeing it as if it were a foreign object.
"You just have to show up." Wakamatsu interrupted him, turning his back to him. "You don't have to play. Just watch. But don't blame me if you run out of steam before Kagami at the end of a game. It'll just end like it did last time." Grabbing another ball, he took his aim. "And last time I saw, Higurashi won't be following you if you keep losing."
Brows furrowing at his words, Aomine quickly loosened his tie and took off his sweater uniform. "Just watching is boring!"
"Huh?" Wakamatsu blinked.
"I'm saying I'll play!"
With a big yawn, Nebuya stretched out his arms. "I'm hungry." His eyes landed on his other two Uncrowned King teammates walking in front of him. "Are you sure we don't need to practice since we lost?"
"What are you talking about?" Reo raised a brow. "Today is special. The third years retire from the team."
Sighing under his breath, Hayama rested his hands clasped his fingers behind his head as he looked up at the sky. "They're leaving, huh? I wonder if that was all right, though." Thinking back to the end of the tournament, Hayama regretted not having said anything to their own phantom player after everything that had occurred. "He never showed up."
Breaking his focus from the book, Mayuzumi looked up from his seat on the ceiling. Not surprised by his sudden visitor, his eyes fell back on the book at hand. "It's you, Akashi." He scoffed, hearing the formalities. "And honorifics? I thought we were equals."
"Only when I'm your captain during practice." He replied stopping in his steps. "Now…we're just a first year and a third year." Akashi's expression softened, seeing Mayuzumi's eyes return to looking back at him. After everything he had pushed Mayuzumi to do, he felt bad leaving on a bad note. He had given everything for Rakuzan, and he had not returned the favor. "Thanks for your hard work."
Scoffing again, Mayuzumi nodded with a smile of his own. "Sure."
"Are you sure you didn't want to attend the retirement ceremony?" Akashi asked, wondering himself why he had not appeared.
Mayuzumi stood up, stretching his arms as he looked down at the people exiting the school. "Yeah. That's not really my thing, and I'm not that attached to the team. It's not like I've got great memories from being on it, but…," turning to face the emperor, he gave him a smirk, "last wasn't so bad. Thanks to you."
He chuckled himself. "Hai."
"Anyway," Mayuzumi sighed, "just leave me be until graduation. It would be lame if we kept talking after today."
Eyes on Nigou chasing after his own tail, Furihata pouted in thought. "What are we going to do about practice?"
"Huh?" Fukuda spoke. "You haven't heard from anyone?" With no coach or captain, their routine was off balance. They needed at least one person to guide them through. A big smile appeared on all their faces as they spoke in unison. "Do we have the day off-?!"
Punching them both from behind, Hyuga narrowed his eyes at the first years thinking they were free. "Of course not, daho."
"C-Captain!" They stuttered, already regretting having raised their hopes for freedom. Coming forth, Furihata blinked looking around for any sign of their center. "D-Did you all send him off?"
"I'm here because I already did." The captain sighed, scratching the back of his head. Walking over to the stage, he set his school bag down. "These days you can e-mail guys in foreign countries, and it's not that hard to get there. It's not the last time we'll see each other, so I made it quick."
Coming from behind, Izuki held to the strap of his school bag while observing the way Hyuga's shoulders sulked. "You seemed more hurt and quiet than anyone else, though."
The others quickly turned to Izuki, knowing their captain would snap at his words.
"Ma, ma," Kagome walked in, greeting everyone with a smile, "at least we know Kiyoshi-senpai is in good hands and will get the recovery he needs. Knowing him, he probably would have joined next year without getting checked just to have fun."
With everyone agreeing to her words, Riko's own lips curved upwards as her eyes closed to give an innocent expression. "More importantly," she cleared her throat, "I can't ignore what you just said." The boys quickly jumped back as they saw the coldness in her eyes. "You think we don't have practice? The Kanto Inter-High qualifies start right after the newbie matches end." Grabbing the first years from the collar of their shirts, one vein at a time popped from her forehead. "When did you get too good to care, huh, you little brats?! At this rate, you're not getting out of a buck-naked confession!"
"E-Eh?" The three blinked, having hoped that confession thing would be forgotten.
"And now it's reset!"
Noticing Tsuchida flinch, Kagome chuckled. Of course there was no way around Riko's schedule. With Kiyoshi now gone, they needed to form new strategies to remain at the top.
"When the new semester starts and new players join the team, we'll do it again." Riko smiled innocently. "And we will aim higher this time."
"Doesn't that mean another championship!?" They all shouted in unison, including the miko.
With crossed arms, Riko's lips formed a smirk. "Of course." If they thought one championship was enough, they were wrong. They needed to aim higher. "Everyone else is practicing with their new lineups and reaching out to players to strength their teams. If we just sit around, we'll fall behind. Come on." Grabbing her whistle from her bag, she looked at her team. "Let's start practice."
"But," Tsuchida interrupted, "Kuroko is still not here."
With a sweat drop falling over the miko's head seeing Riko lose her balance, she jolted as soon as she met Riko's finger pointing straight at her.
"Kagome-chan! Go get him!" Her finger glided to the tiger stretching his arms. "Go, too!"
Groaning under his breath, Kagami walked beside the miko as they made their way to the club room with their lockers. He never understood why they send Kagome and himself to get him. He was a big boy to walk himself. "Oi, Kuroko!" He called, hoping he would come out of the room before they arrived. "What's taking so long?"
Kagome's eyes snapped behind them, making her stop having sensed his aura.
Kagami peeked into the club room, seeing his locker slightly open, but no sign of their shadow. "Huh? Where did he go?"
"He's right here."
Turning around, Kagami jumped at the sight of Kuroko standing beside the miko. "W-Wah! Oi! I told you to stop doing that! And you!" He pointed at Kagome, who gave him a harmless glare. "I told you to tell me when he is around!"
"I just did…" She huffed.
"Sumimazen," Kuroko bowed with his head, "I was getting a photo from Momoi-san."
"A photo?" Kagome repeated. Before she could ask further, her eyes blinked at the pink envelope being handed to her. "What's this?"
"Momoi-san told me to give this to you." He smiled. "It's from the street ball game we all had recently."
Sighing, Kagami nodded before looking at the phantom player. "Well, now that you are here, we are waiting for you to start practice. Let's go!"
As they ran towards the gym, Kagome was left staring at the envelope in her hands. Slowly, she opened the envelop before taking out the picture behind it. Her eyes widened slightly at the sight of her smile while being surrounded by the other Generation of Miracles, despite them arguing in the background. She noticed another picture resting behind the other. Flipping it to the next one, she smiled seeing it was the picture they had taken at the championship after their win. Kagome chuckled, loving the small present Momoi sent her. Smiling to hide the tears clinging at the corner of her eyes, she heard a small soft clank at her school bag. Her eyes dropped to see Inuyasha's necklace she had wrapped around one of the straps.
"Kagome-chan?" Kuroko called.
Pulling her focus away from the necklace and pictures, she saw both Kuroko and Kagami waiting for her.
With a big smile decorating her lips, she ran to them. She prayed these moments would last a while longer – just a bit more.
MizukixTsukiyomi's Notes: I literally cried writing the end. The whole chapter. I remember starting this story one day after work because I had been done with all school work for the week and decided to play with the idea. Didn't think I would become this attached. But again, it's all because of you. You all made this story special
Thank you so much and sending love to all of you!
If it isn't too much trouble, a review would be very much appreciated, but to all who reviewed throughout the last 35 chapters, you are all the true heroes.