Disclaimer: I don't own 'Kuroko no Basuke'.
Her fingers ran rings around the edge of her cup, chasing the lines of coffee stains left by the morning costumers. She kept her eyes averted, either staring out the window or watching the fingers on her lap twist about the corner of her jacket. The weight of his stare wore her down, until the blood in her cheeks began to show through a faint blush. It took her a moment to realise that the pounding of her heart meant she was, incontrovertibly, very nervous.
Miyako Miyamoto wasn't used to the feeling, but it could hardly be denied. She supposed she shouldn't have been that surprised, considering the circumstances. She was, after all, sitting across from Seijuro Akashi.
It was by his invitation that she found herself in the small café in Tokyo, trying her best not to catch his gaze. Akashi had already been seated when she arrived, found it necessary to call her out on being ten minutes late. After everything that had happened between them – the promise made in the spring of their last year at middle school and the sparse contact of their first year in different high schools – Akashi had the nerve to serve her a four-word reprimand for her lateness and five minutes of chilling silence.
"Some reunion." Miyako murmured to herself, sneaking a glance across the table.
Akashi was still staring at her, unreadable as ever. "What did you expect?" he asked, surprising her.
She shrugged, pulling back her hand and dropping them both into her lap. "I don't know," she answered honestly, "Just that it's been a few months since we last saw each other."
"Interhigh." Akashi agreed, reflecting back to the time.
Miyako understood the difficulties. While Akashi attended the prestigious Rakuzan High in Kyoto, she was stuck in Tokyo, trailing after what was left of their group from Teiko Middle School. She spent most of her time with Shintaro Midorima, who was the most convenient choice given she was his team's manager at Shutoku High.
"And you're only here for the Winter Cup this time." Miyako added. She folded her hands over each other, stared at her half-empty coffee cup.
"Yes," Akashi leaned forward, elbows against the table top as he scrutinized her, "Does that bother you, Miyako?"
"I don't know which answer you'd like better."
His eyes narrowed, disliking the idea of her choices being based on his expectations. "Whatever you believe." He suggested, though the tone of his voice made it impossible to distinguish that from an order.
Miyako nodded, accepting the response quietly. "No, then. That, specifically, doesn't bother me."
Akashi didn't comment on her reply, leaving it unquestioned as the silence took up its place between them once again. She wasn't sure that she liked this new dynamic, where dead quiet felt more comfortable than conversation.
Her fingers gripped the handle of her cup, brown eyes peering up through an ebony curtain of hair. "Seijuro, why did you want to see me? Was there a reason?" Miyako doubted that the Akashi she knew, the one from Teiko, would ever visit her without an excuse. She wanted to know if there was anything about him that had changed.
"Did you have a reason for coming?" Akashi retorted.
Caught off guard, Miyako was shocked into silence. She had no answer other than that she wanted to. Was Akashi trying to say their reasons were the same? A surreptitious glance upwards caught his eye, and had she not been so accustomed to his mannerisms, she might have missed the slight nod that agreed with the question on her lips.
She pursed her lips. "Oh." It was better not to question why Akashi was giving her his time of day, she supposed.
Across the table, Akashi sipped at his coffee. He was hesitant to let his eyes leave Miyako, unwilling to miss even the smallest of movements. Her features and figure had filled out, grown more elegant and mature since he last saw her, but some things remained the same. The familiar softness in her eyes, the curve of her lips as she smiled, were what he looked for so intently. It was important that Miyako remained Miyako, just the way she had promised him to.
"Do you still play piano?"
The question came suddenly, a passing thought, but Miyako regarded it with sincerity. "Not…not as much," she admitted, "It doesn't sound the same as it used to."
Her mother had taught her how to play. Miyako had been fascinated with music since her childhood, growing up with a renowned pianist for a parent. They had worked together as teacher and student, mother and daughter, for every year except the last few. Miyako was left under the care of her grandparents after her mother passed away in middle school.
"Consider taking it up again." Akashi told her, commanding rather than asking. As if it softened the harshness, he added after a long pause, "You played well."
"Maybe if you played with me, violin in accompaniment," Miyako mimicked his pause, "I remember when you did…You played well."
"I still play well." Akashi corrected her absently.
She smiled, hid it behind her hand. "There isn't much you don't do well," She mused quietly, "Except make jokes."
If he heard, it didn't show on his face. Miyako was sure Akashi would have ignored it either way, continuing to ask, "Are you almost finished?"
Miyako glanced towards her cup, the coffee growing cold. "I guess. Is there somewhere you need to be?"
"You don't want to sit inside here for the whole day, do you?"
She was surprised at that, having been thinking that he had better things to do than spend his time with her. "Oh, ah, not really."
Akashi looked towards the door, stood up quickly. Miyako followed instinctively. She had no problem leaving her drink behind half finished – it was too cold to enjoy anyway. Given the chill that had swept through as winter dawned, Miyako's head was filled only with the wish for warm things; exactly what she didn't get upon walking outside.
A burst of biting wind cut through her clothes, despite the thickness of her jeans and the three layers of tops. Akashi caught her shiver in his peripheral, and found his fingers twitch, acting without thought.
Miyako blinked in surprise at the soft touch of something landing on her head. Glancing up, touching it tentatively, she found it to be the scarf that, while once worn by Akashi, now hung around her shoulders. The red haired man kept on walking forward, no glance afforded back to acknowledge his gesture. There was no way she could refuse, and no way she would have wanted to.
Wrapping it around her neck, Miyako found herself enveloped by his familiar smell. A content smile slipped past all her masks, all barriers. Just as Akashi began to wonder why he did what he did, thinking it stupid as he grew colder, she called out to him and interrupted his thoughts.
Miyako smiled happily. "Thank you."
He dismissed all thoughts of taking it back. "Keep walking." He ordered. It wasn't like it meant anything, anyway; it was just a scarf.
Miyako hurried to keep up with his pace, knowing that he wasn't likely to wait for her. As she matched his steps, her mind wandered on how to strike up a conversation. It had been a while since she'd last talked to Akashi face to face.
"Was there anywhere in particular you wanted to go?" she asked at last.
"Not really," he admitted, "Do you?"
At the risk of completely destroying the chance to spend the day with him, Miyako made up a quick lie. "There's a bookshop around here I'd like to visit. Do you mind?"
"No. Let's go."
With a small smile, Miyako took the lead and began weaving a path through the crowd. It wasn't hard with Akashi by her side, for the sheer force of his presence seemed to have people stepping out of his way.
"So, Seijuro, how're the rest of the old Teiko team?"
He turned to her, eyebrow raised as if he were amused. "Why do you expect me to know that?"
"Because you act like a stalker." She answered honestly.
"No I don't."
She glanced up at him, catching his gaze. "Don't look so serious, Seijuro," she warned him, teasing, "I'm surprised kids don't burst into tears when you look as scary as you do right now."
"That was a joke, right?" He asked in all seriousness.
"Right, as always Seijuro." Too clear up any lingering confusion, Miyako went on to explain, "Also, I meant that you've probably seen them all playing at the Winter Cup."
"You're there too." He pointed out.
"Yeah, but only when you or Midorima are playing, and only because I have to be."
He understood it in part, her implication being that she was the manager for the Shutoku team, but questioned the other. "I don't make you." Akashi pointed out.
"No, but you ask me to watch. And I can't say no when you look so…"
Akashi studied her profile, her eyes lowered to the ground, a soft smile that made her red cheeks all the more endearing – and was that blush from the cold, or something else?
"The bookstore!" Miyako blurted nervously, relieving them of an uncomfortable silence.
Akashi stopped a few steps behind her, spotting the shop in question to their right. It looked small and quaint, exactly the sort of place he'd expect Miyako to like. Peering through the glass, they could catch the figures of at least two other people inside.
"Is that…?" Miyako was squinting through the glass, head lowered slightly.
"Midorima." Akashi concluded for her.
"And Takao must be there with him." She added, though the name meant very little to him. Another player on the Shutoku team, he recalled. Miyako was quick to recapture his attention with a smile sent his way. "Well, we should at least go say hello."
Akashi didn't move from the spot. He wasn't particularly of the mind to talk to anyone but her that day, and Miyako could see it in his expression. Though she was usually quite cooperative with his desires, his resolve to avoid old friends left her a little impatient.
Without thinking, she had reached forward and grabbed his hand. "It's rude not to." She pointed out, oblivious to his stare and how surely her fingers slid into his.
Akashi's compliance was surely due to his surprise, a feeling he wasn't used to dealing with regularly. More than anything else, Miyako caught him off guard with her quiet refusal of his ways. Her soft smile and empathetic warmth were not usually suspected of being anything more than that; though Akashi, pulled through the bookstore's threshold, was now acutely reminded of just how easily she could use her nature to get her way.
Once inside, their hands fell away from each other out of habit. There was reason to hold onto him any longer, although Miyako did consider some worn-out excuses to prolong the contact just a little longer. She was always seeking something – a minute, a second, a moment – that allowed her that small hope, the indulgence of imagining her feelings would be reciprocated.
As they rounded the corner of the shelves, it was actually Takao who greeted them first with an exclamation of, "Miyamoto!" That, in turn, was enough reason for Midorima to look up from the book in his hand.
Miyako smiled at the two of them, ignoring all surprise and stares for the man behind her. "I didn't think you two would like a place like this." She confessed.
Takao, as was typical, smiled back down at his manager. "Neither, but Midorima insisted."
"I needed to get my Lucky Item," Midorima explained coolly, eyes flashing curiously, "And it's not like the same couldn't be said of you two."
"Why? Because Seijuro is with me?" Miyako asked. She could feel his presence, however silent, standing over her shoulder. Remembering how tenuous their relationship had been in the past, she was a little apprehensive to see what sort of an expression Akashi would be wearing right now.
Midorima probably did the smart thing in declining to answer, instead allowing Takao to dominate the conversation. "So," the black haired man asked, "Are you two on a date?"
Although in hindsight, it probably wasn't such a smart move to let him speak. Midorima glared at Takao, snapping quickly, "Of course they're not."
"Jealous, then, are we? Did you want Miyamoto all to yourself, Midorima?"
"It's not a date!" Miyako interrupted the argument before it escalated any further. Her voice, louder than usual, caught them all off guard. Her cheeks were redder than usual, but she still forced a smile. "Two people can hang out and be just friends, Takao – or do you mean to suggest that since that's what you and Midorima do all the time, that you're on a date as well?"
Takao ignored the question, his typical wide grin plastered onto his face. "As well? Is that a confession, Manager-chan?"
Akashi's hand landed on Miyako's shoulder the moment she opened her mouth to answer, silencing her in a moment. "If it were," Akashi began, not in least bit intimidated by the insinuations, "It still wouldn't be any of your business."
"Akashi's right." Midorima agreed, readjusting his glasses. The two of them seemed to be measuring each other up.
Miyako turned to the side, so that she could observe them both at her leisure. It would be easier to mediate that way, if she ever had to. She hoped not – there were sides to Akashi that, though they never frightened her, were still better left undisturbed.
"What's the Lucky Item you're here for?" she asked Midorima suddenly.
The tall, green haired man handed her the book in his hands, face down. The pages were well worn and watermarked, which was almost a clue in itself as to just what it was. Miyako's grimace betrayed her thoughts as she looked at the cover and quickly handed it back to Midorima.
"Gothic erotica is really not my thing." She muttered.
"It's not mine either." Midorima replied.
Takao chimed in cheerly, "But you're still going to buy the book."
"It's the Lucky Item."
Less playfully, but with a smile that was Miyako's equivalent, she added, "Imagine all the rumours when they see Midorima carrying it around at school."
"Maybe we can convince the coach to let us skip practice tomorrow to have Midorima re-enact some of the scenes."
"Not likely, Takao. This is the Winter Cup, not some practise game," Miyako matched his joke with a stern look, before recovering her polite smile, "Seijuro, aren't Rakuzan and Shutoku going to play each other soon?"
"Yes." Akashi confirmed, but elaborated no further. It didn't show in any other way, but he was beginning to grow a little impatient. He had never agreed to share his few hours to be alone with Miyako with anyone else.
"Your point being?" Midorima interjected.
"Well, which team I should cheer for. Yours," Miyako looked to Akashi, before back to Midorima, "Or ours."
Akashi stiffened, crossed his arms, and she knew immediately that he was unsatisfied with the answer. "We won't lose." He announced firmly, and it could hardly be doubted. Tenacity, resolve and history were on Akashi's side.
"Neither will we." Midorima pointed out.
Akashi's eyes seemed to grow brighter, the spark of competition. Miyako could feel a dawning worry approach, but all that came of it was Akashi turning to her and saying, "Let's go."
She opened her mouth to utter a reply, argument or agreement, but he wouldn't have heard it anyway. No sooner had he spoken than he was on his way out; and where Akashi went, Miyako was bound to follow.
"Well, see you both tomorrow at training." Miyako bade, bowing her head as she backed away.
"Promise to bring something good to eat?" Takao asked flippantly.
She nodded, smiling behind the scarf wrapped around her. "Promise."
Miyako's prompt exit led her back into the freezing cold outside. Akashi, as she had expected, was waiting for her by the door. He offered not a single word, no reproach or conversation, before turning away and continuing to walk on down the street. Miyako's cheeks stung when hit with a chilly breeze, but it was a pain she ignored for the indignation of Akashi's mysterious moodiness.
"Seijuro?" Miyako asked, catching up to him at last.
He glanced her way, if only to reassure himself that she still looked as cute as before when wearing his scarf. It was a little too big, and locks of her hair spilled out over the top, framing reddening cheeks.
"This isn't about the team thing, is it?" she speculated, "Because you know that in the end, I always end up rooting for whoever's winning."
He didn't answer her question in so many words, though he did grab her arm and jerk her sideways. "This way." Akashi ordered, pulling her along with him.
Miyako had no choice but to go along with it as he dragged her by the hand. He was leading her off the main street, down a small, narrow alleyway that would have been ominous on any other occasion. Perhaps the safety she felt around Akashi was a little too excessive, to the point where it was blinding. They stopped so quickly that she stumbled against the pavement, the shift in her balance preluding an impending fall.
Miyako expected to land on the pavement, only to find herself wrapped up in a sudden warmth. It was an arm around her waist that had stopped her, she realised, while Akashi's other hand was wound about her wrist and pulling her back onto her feet.
"…Thanks." Miyako didn't even have to be looking at him for her heart to start racing now.
It was a gentle command. Where one Akashi was a winter of ice, of frozen words and chilling glances, there was another side that promised her warmth, who was the peace of rain against windows in the dead of night and a soft embrace in the cool dark. It was strange, Miyako realised, to not care which of them she would see when she looked up next.
What she came across was a glimpse of red, of misted breath warming her nose, and lips so incalculably close that there really didn't seem to be any other way for this to end – and so, Akashi kissed her. He kissed her long and sweet and softly, short and rough and bitterly. He kissed her once, and then again because he still had a bit of breath left to spend on her. The third time was just for fun, for no other reason than he could. If he was going to kiss Miyako Miyamoto, Akashi was not going to hold back.
"Shutoku is not your team," Akashi declared after they broke away, "I am your team."
Miyako understood then that this was about, at least in part, her promise to him in middle school. She remembered the moment vividly, springtime in contrast to this frozen winter. At the time, she had said it as a friend, but now came her chance to reiterate with a new meaning.
"Obviously, Seijuro," she agreed quietly, "I told you before; you won't lose me."
His eyes grew wide at the words, but not from the shock. They both knew what it was they had just done, even if the true implications of it just occurred to them.
Akashi's reply was spoken collectedly, contrary to the jump in his heart. "Of course I won't. I don't like losing."
His hands fell away from her waist, slipping back around her hips. In a moment, their closeness had been replaced with distance. Miyako wanted to say something, but her words were swallowed up by the deep pit opening up around her. All of a sudden, she was beginning to doubt whether that kiss had been as real as it felt.
"Walk with me to the station." Akashi ordered.
Miyako nodded quietly, staring down at her feet. She had to wait until he walked around her before she could even think to move, wiping away the few tears in her eyes. She hated to cry in front of people, even if it was just Akashi, but she hated the thought of him leaving just as much.
Taking a deep breath, Miyako settled her nerves and steeled herself for the ten minute walk to the train station.
Following Akashi, the two of them emerged back out onto the streets as if nothing had happened. They walked in silence, side by side, but companionability had been replaced with awkwardness. Miyako really wasn't used to feeling uncomfortable around Akashi, which only made her fidget even more from the feeling.
"Seijuro?" He glanced at her, and that single look had her cheeks turning pink. "…Never mind." Miyako muttered, when nothing helpful came to mind to say.
"You shouldn't have said anything in the first place, then."
Miyako glanced away haughtily, refusing to even look at his back. "…Rude." She muttered, so low he couldn't hear.
Akashi shot a look back over his shoulder while she wasn't looking, studying her expression, noting her irritation, and smiled at the sight. No matter what the problems where between them, the silence and refusal to talk, it still wouldn't change how he thought of her. Miyako had the dignity to refuse anything she felt was beneath her, and he had enough respect for her judgement to allow it.
As the two of them rounded a corner, the station came into view in the distance. Miyako could feel her heartbeat quicken ever so slightly, as the urgency to say something became that much more pressing. But what was there to say? It still felt so unlikely, so unreal, that Akashi would even kiss her in the first place. Should she ask why? Maybe he had brought her to the station to say something else; or maybe he had just been afraid of getting lost on the way.
"…What are you laughing at?"
Miyako glanced up, hiding her smile behind her hand. "Nothing, Seijuro. You wouldn't care about it, anyway." There was no way she could admit to him that she was laughing at the thought of him, wandering like a child without a parent in the middle of Tokyo.
In a second, he had turned to face her and Miyako had almost walked into him for a second time. He stared down at her, and the situation began to feel vaguely familiar to the kiss from before.
"How would you know what I do and don't care about?" he asked, voice quiet and intense.
Miyako could feel her words slipping out reach, catching in the dryness of her throat. She knew what she wanted to say, and she understood the invitation Akashi was offering out to her. If she wanted to say something about what had happened, now would have been the perfect chance to bring it up. But when she tried, she found she couldn't do anything at all – she had nothing but silence to offer.
"I see." Akashi declared suddenly, before turning around and continuing walking away as if it were nothing, as if he hadn't had to consciously stop himself from reaching out towards her.
Miyako felt terrible. That silence had been a mistake, and they both knew it.
She didn't move as he kept walking up the stairs and onto the platform. The train would be coming soon, stopping; she could hear it in the distance. Miyako didn't really like the idea of leaving things like that between them, which was, in itself, enough motivation to get her to climb the steps behind him and close half the distance between them. Akashi was careful not to get caught stealing glimpses at her in his peripheral vision as he waited on the platform.
A whistle blew in the near distance, the train pulling up in the station. Miyako took only a moment to decide, and at that point, it became more a matter of time than anything else. It wasn't like Akashi could waste all his time on her when he had a team to meet up with and train.
She closed the distance between them, her hair thrown behind her like a midnight river, a midnight reflection in crystal waters. He was halfway onto boarding when he heard the call of his name and stopped to listen to what followed.
"I know," Miyako declared loudly, "That what I have to say might be a waste of your time and that I shouldn't be saying this in the first place-"
Their gazes clashed against each other, a cool red against the resolution of her murky brown. If the first answer was a mistake, Miyako thought, then this second one needed to be perfect.
"-But I love you, Seijuro."
His eyes grew wide, his heart stilled, his lungs were empty of air. Akashi's feet were at the edge of the train carriage, having stepped inside earlier, and now he teetered there in his own indecision. Movement flickered in the corner of his eyes, the doors beginning to close; and suddenly, he understood just how it was to be Miyako, hesitating on the bottom stair, wondering if she'd make it all the way.
If there were one difference between them, it was that Akashi didn't fear the possibility of loss – he didn't even consider it an option. If he took that step, he knew what would happen. And he proved it, in a moment, a flash of movement, stepping out from the closing doors of the train and back onto the platform.
His timing was perfect. The doors closed behind him, and Akashi stood exactly where he wanted to be. Now in front of Miyako, who stared at him in amazement, he was able to smile softly and brush back her hair from her cheeks. When he leaned in, she thought he might kiss her, but Akashi moved past that and lowered himself to her ear.
Two things happened at once; the train lurched forward, whistle blowing, calling forward a huge breath of wind as it sped up. The second was the lips pressed against her cheek, the breath brushing past her ear, whispering words only she could hear – an answer that was, incontrovertibly, the right one.
Miyako broke into a wide smile. "Seijuro," she murmured, reaching up to touch the hand he still pressed to her cheek, "…The next train isn't until an hour. You're going to be so late meeting up with your team."
Akashi didn't look to bothered by it, and didn't seem to have much to say in the way of commenting on it. His attention was fixed far too entirely on her, and on nothing else but the thought of kissing her again. Tilting her head upwards, he pressed their lips together once more. This kiss was sweet in the way those first few hadn't been, but warm enough that Miyako felt the cold wind in full, frozen force once he pulled away.
"Don't make me regret it." He ordered.
Her answering smile was hidden behind the folds of his scarf, still wrapped around her neck, keeping winter at bay with a spring of promises.
This was about two thousand words longer than I expected - thanks for sticking through it all!