Hi everyone! I'm writing after a pretty long time, so pardon my rustiness :) Do check out my other stories! THIS IS RATED T FOR A REASON.
Exes and Oh's
Summary: Moving on from an ex-boyfriend is hard enough, without him being Kise Ryouta and suddenly gaining a weird obsession with your music so much so that he's willing to trek all the way to another school to hear you play... how is this her life again? KiseOC. T for strong language.
Kise is usually cold-hearted, according to the commentary of Fujimaki; '"In this match (Haizaki vs Kise), I wanted to depict Kise isn't necessarily a good guy. In my opinion, Kise in the Anime is little too soft compared to Kise in the Manga. I heard that when Kise used abusive words, one of the Anime staff was very in shock. I am NOT going to deny Anime AT ALL, but in my mind, Kise is a person who only affable to those he admitted & feel worthy after measuring with his own eyes. Other than that, he is usually cold-hearted. I've recognized him who has two faces. He is not completely good-boy, you know. That being said, please read Manga thinking Kise in Manga is bit different from Anime.
"Yes'n I try to ignore
All this blood on the floor
It's just this heart on my sleeve that's a bleeding."
"I'm breaking up with you," Kise says, looking away from her face. Tora wants to scream at him: look at me, look at me, have the courtesy to look me in the eye you bastard.
"Okay," she monotones; drops her gaze from his face to beyond his shoulder. Miyuki is standing near the entrance palms over mouth, shock written all over her face. Tora doesn't understand why- they'd all be leaving in a week, choosing schools away from each other. This was inevitable.
He clears his throat and steps forward. She can feel his hand reaching towards her, but she ducks away. It falls back and Tora can imagine the flickering hurt in his eyes.
"Tora…" he draws her name slowly. And she thinks that even after a year together he still hasn't suffixed the 'cchi' yet and suddenly her anger is red hot, flaming.
She lets out a short laugh and finally meets his golden eyes.
"Fuck you, Kise," she spits out and then she's walking rapidly towards Miyuki's open arms. There is warmth she understands in her best friend's arms, something she could never find with him. Golden eyes, black black heart, she thinks.
She leaves him standing in Kaijou's gym holding a basketball under his right arm staring at where she had kissed him just moments ago. It feels like she's leaving a part of herself behind.
Seirin High smells a little like a new beginning she thinks. A fresh tang, a spring in the air that has her smiling, teeth and all, at the other students milling about the campus. Miyuki bumps her shoulder into Tora's, both of them grinning stupidly at the main building.
"I did not think architecture could do things to me like this building is doing right now," she confides seriously.
Tora laughs. "Get a room," she says.
"Oh I will," she smirks. "Later though; c'mon, I heard the management's splurged on the music rooms."
They had. Tora runs her hands over the grand piano, so polished it shone in the dim lighting of the room. Miyuki squeals about some violins in the corner, but here, here was Tora's baby, her life. She carefully lifts the cover and gently presses one ivory key. Then C major, G major, D major, C major, clang.
Both their heads whip to the doorway but there's no one standing there. Tora catches Miyuki's eyes.
"I swear to god I just heard someone," she hisses. Miyuki nods profusely. Quietly Tora closes the piano and Miyuki puts the violin back into the cupboard. They listen carefully. Silence. In the distance, they can hear some shouts from the football field but that's about it.
Miyuki stares at the doorway, eyebrows furrowed. "I could've sworn…." She shakes her head. "Probably the wind or something, let's go, we still haven't seen the classrooms yet."
Tora is unconvinced but lets herself be dragged away anyway. They walk together, elbows clasped into each other, taking in the scrubbed newness of the school. Seirin was only a couple of years old so it still had a sanitary feel to it, like someone had just pulled off the plastic covering and the dust hadn't collected yet.
"It's very different from Teiko," Tora says, fingers brushing the painted walls. "Somehow feel too big for this place."
"I get that," Miyuki replies. "It's not as overwhelming as Teiko."
They were the only ones to shift to Seirin. Most of their classmates chose the bigger, brighter, older schools- schools with cases and cases full of awards and trophies. Miyuki's parents wanted her to go to Keijou for its fine arts programme; Tora couldn't think of Keijou without wanting to vomit. Miyuki insisted that leaving Tora was not an option so they both chose Seirin as the escape.
Tora feels a surge of affection for her best friend.
"Yeah…" Tora agrees. They peep into their classroom- 1B- and then the cafeteria before making their way to the grounds. School was only starting the next day and their orientation wasn't until the afternoon.
They turn around a building and Tora slows to a stop.
Miyuki follows her gaze.
"Oh Tora," she says sadly. Tora closes her eyes and she is there, throwing the basketball up into the air and his arms are looped around her waist and they are laughing, his face nuzzling her neck and then his eyes are burning into hers and-
I love you.
Someone crashes into Tora's shoulder and she lurches back to reality with a gasp.
"I'm so sorry," the attacker shouts from behind his shoulder as he runs towards the basketball court. He doesn't even pause, just keeps running. She blinks stupidly at his receding back while Miyuki steps forward and yells some choice swear words. Tora lays her hand on her shoulder to make her stop.
"Fucker," Miyuki mutters, hoisting her backpack. "Does no male species on this planet have any consideration for others anymore?"
Tora laughs, a little weakly, and quickly turns to walk in the opposite direction. Miyuki smoothly follows her. They walk in silence for a few moments before Tora breaks it, her voice thick.
"Do you think it's silly of me to still be hung up on him?"
Miyuki stops and considers her with her cool grey eyes. Before Kise and Tora started dating, Tora always thought he was trying to get to Miyuki through her; she is the prettiest girl Tora knows.
Finally: "Yes," Miyuki says bluntly. "I don't even know why you guys dated for so long; he always put basketball before you."
Tora sucks in her breath sharply. "He loved basketball; I couldn't have expected him to do that."
Miyuki takes her hand. "Yeah, Tora, I know. But," she presses it. "You put him before everything else."
Tora fiddles with her thumbs. They're long and slender: pianist's hands, but with dirty, chewed nails. She stares at them, her taped index finger from her new obsession with guitars. Miyuki's hands are more scabbed, skin almost a bleeding red. These are hands of musicians, Tora thinks, these are not hands built to hold hearts raw.
"I don't think he ever loved me," she finally tells Miyuki. It feels like a lump of iron is lifted from her chest. Once the words are out there, dissipating in the air, Tora can see the truth in them that she'd been wilfully denying for the past year.
I love you.
Miyuki doesn't say anything but they're both remembering the time Miyuki came to Tora's house in the middle of the night to tell her Kise kissed her. A dull pain.
"He didn't respect you," Miyuki says quietly. "If anything, that's what makes him a bastard."
Tora simply watches the world blur around her.
She continues. "He dated you because you were easy, because you were okay with being the second thought. He pretended to love so you'd stay and the other girls wouldn't bother him. He used you so he seemed like a man."
Every word felt like a stab. Tora blindly reaches for Miyuki's shoulder, but she catches Tora with both her hands and holds her until they make eye-contact.
"You are worth a thousand Kises," she says fiercely. "You are worth million times the value he assigned to you. You understand?"
Tora nods blearily and settles her head in the crook of Miyuki's neck and shoulder. "Thank you," she whispers into her skin and Miyuki holds onto her tighter.
This is letting go, Tora thinks.
Kise wanders about Seirin's campus, ignoring the whispers following him. He is flattered by the attention, sure, but he just wants some time to himself right now. Especially after the whole fiasco with Kurokocchi.
He clenches his fist just thinking about it.
The school is so sparkling new. So small compared to Kaijou. He vaguely remembers something about the school, somewhere in his mind the name bounces around loosely connected to a memory. He shrugs, whatever, and stuffs his hands into his trouser pockets. The agency wouldn't be sending the car for at least half an hour so he tries to entertain himself, fights the urge to go back to that pathetic basketball gym.
He mouth curls, Kurokocchi could have done so much better than picking a school that was barely known for its basketball. There was that new Kagami guy though….
He kicks a stone roughly, scuffing his nicely polished shoes. The stone skids across the pavement and strikes the feet of a girl sitting on the grass lining the pathway. She looks up frowning. Kise stops.
Watery brown eyes meet his and then widen. He frowns and it hits him suddenly.
She cut her hair, he realises, tilting his head to take her in. Her black hair is a short bob, a stark difference from her almost waist-length hair in Teiko. Everything else is the same, her lightly glossed lips, pale cheeks, thick glasses.
"Kise," she says, stricken.
"Tora," he returns, stepping forward until he's looming over her. The last time he had seen her she was walking away from after he broke up with her. "I didn't know you were in Seirin."
She crosses her arm, a scowl fluttering past her face.
"Of course you didn't," she mutters. And then he remembers why the school name was so familiar to him.
"How are you?" He stretches his hands to touch her face, almost as a reflex. Seeing her stirs resentment in him, a reminder of Teiko, of what he left behind.
She flinches as if stung when he makes contact so he draws back his hand immediately. He frowns at her. There's something different in the air between them- expected since they broke up, but it is uncomfortable, makes him feel unwelcome.
"What are you doing here Kise?" she asks. She's avoiding his eyes and he has he irrational urge to make her look at them. There are highlights in her hair; had she always had them? Or were they new? he wonders.
"Basketball," he replies, carefully studying her.
He must have said something wrong because her face darkens and she's standing up and walking away in a matter of seconds.
"Tora!" he calls out but she just throws him the finger.
"Basketball courts are over there Kise. There's nothing else important for you here."
This is the second time she's turned her back to him like this.
"You're oddly pensive today," his sister jokes. "Stop thinking; it's bad for the world."
Kise frowns and turns to her. "Ayaka oneesan, do you remember Tora?"
His sister cocks her head at him. "The girl you dated in middle school? Yeah, I remember her."
"I met her in Seirin High today."
"And?" she asks, uncomprehending. "I thought you guys broke up."
Kise nods. "Yeah, we did, but-"
"But?" Ayaka laughs. "That girl followed you around like you hung the stars and moon in the sky. Poor thing; you barely gave her any second glances."
Kise is about to protest when Ayaka raises her hand to stop him. "It's true, little brother. Sometimes I wondered if she was even your girlfriend or just another one of your silly fangirls."
Kise chose not to reply but he frowns deeply and plays with his dinner absently. True he didn't think too much of Tora when they dated, but he was nothing but a gentleman to her. They went on all those dates and he even taught her how to play basketball. He still remembers that day, her warm body pressed against his, and then how she turned to him.
I love you.
She was stricken, immediately began to babble and tried to change the topic. With a lurch, Kise remembers how he laughed, loud and ugly, and let her go. He didn't see her for a while after that and then they went on as if the whole episode never happened.
"Why'd you date her anyway?" Ayaka asks. "She wasn't even really that cute."
Kise shrugs. "She was my tutor. She was basically the reason I passed all my classes, so I thought-"
"-you could pay her back by dating her," Ayaka completes his sentence. "Oh brother dear," she laughs. "If you weren't so pretty looking you'd be in deep shit with the opposite gender."
"I don't think she likes me very much now," Kise says petulantly. "She basically acted as if my presence was injuring her when I met her today."
Ayaka shakes her head. "Do me a favour and never date girls like Nishimura Tora."
"Why?" Kise challenges, lifting his chin. "I happen to be an amazing boyfriend."
Ayaka sighs. "Because you're a heartbreaker Ryouta and you'll only be stringing them along."
They eat the rest of their dinner in silence.
Why is he Seirin again? He wants to say he came to convince Kurokocchi to defect to Kaijou again, but truth told he didn't even glance towards the gym. Instead, he's standing inside one of the school buildings, ignoring the strange looks he was getting from the few idling students left on campus.
"Kise," he hears his name. He turns to see a girl standing at the bottom of the staircase, arms crossed, glaring at him. Why was he getting so many angry stares from girls these days?
"Hayashi." He would be able to recognise Hayashi Miyuki anywhere, her grey eyes, thick brown hair, and curves, over which he runs an appreciative eye, were the stuff of dreams for the Teiko boys. He remembers the locker room gloating about being the first to kiss her, the thrill of satisfaction. He couldn't deny that he befriended Tora initially to get closer to Miyuki, but her immense dislike of him soon turned his affections to her best friend.
"What are you doing here?" she asks in a clipped tone.
He shrugs and puts his hands in his pocket. "I was in the area," he lies easily.
She doesn't seem to believe a word he says. She walks towards him until they are eye-to-eye, and she presses a finger to his chest.
"Get out of here," she says lowly, eyes flashing. "Not only are you trespassing, but I don't know what you're after coming here. Tora hates you enough; do not worsen the situation for yourself."
Tora hates you. Tora hates you.
"No one can hate me," he sneers and then turns around, briskly walking to the exit. Miyuki watches him leave, fists clenched from almost wanting to break his perfect little nose. The audacity of him! She is so very glad Tora decided to stay back for a while longer to practice.
Kise leans against the entrance wall until he hears Hayashi's footsteps fade away. He then swings into the building and climbs the staircase. He randomly turns corners until he hears the strain of a piano and pauses. The twinkling of notes continues and he follows them until he reaches the source. The door is marginally open and the notes dance out and around him, weaving intricate melodies in the school silence. He carefully pushes the door open slightly, just enough to get a glance of the musician.
Her back is turned away from him, but Kise can recognise Tora by the wisps of her hair, escaping her high ponytail. She would tie her hair up like that during their long tutoring sessions and he would watch in fascination as she twisted the long hair into a bun. She would catch him looking and blush, a pretty red staining her cheeks and neck. When they started dating that would be the moment Kise always kissed her.
He smiles slightly. Tora continues to play obliviously. Her music is beautiful, Kise realises. He had never heard her actually play before; too often her piano recitals fell exactly during his basketball matches. He never bothered to ask for a recording.
The door creaks and abruptly the music stops. It is only Kise's superior reflex that has him narrowly escaping her sight just as she turns back. His heart pounds slightly as she calls out, "Who's there?" confusion infusing her words. A few moments of silence later the music resumes. Kise stays for a few more minutes listening before he leaves.
A message informs him that a car is waiting to take him to the Agency. Kise sighs and enters it. In the car, he wonders about Tora. He knew she was a gifted musician and was in Teiko on a music scholarship. But then Kaijou had the prefecture's best music programme and yet she had chosen to come to this unknown school instead. Curious.
Unconsciously he hums the tune she was playing throughout the shoot.
That Kagami dude is really starting to creep her out. He keeps staring at her (though it might very well be the window she's sitting next to but still). Miyuki is about to give him a piece of her mind until she notices something else startling. Something pale blue flutters past Kagami's head and she watches him snap his gaze away from her and frowning at ... her eyes focus and then widen.
She immediately nudges Tora who is asleep on the desk beside her.
"Tora," she whispers urgently. "You need to wake up now."
Tora, the utter bitch, simply mumbles something and huddles further into her arms. Miyuki rolls her eyes and whispers again, "I know why Kise Ryouta's been visiting Seirin."
That causes her to shoot up. Miyuki raises her eyebrow and Tora simply smiles sheepishly.
"What?" Tora asks and Miyuki gestures towards Kagami with a nod of her head. Tora turns to the boy confusedly, head tilted she stares until-
"Holy shit," she swears. Miyuki echoes her sentiment because seated beside Kagami Taiga is none other than Kuroko Tetsuya himself- the last secret member of the Generation of Miracles.
"Are you sure it's him?" Tora whispers. Of course Miyuki is sure, which other person had cotton candy blue hair and the ability to fade into nonexistence if you don't look hard enough?
"Should we say hi?" Tora bites the inside of her thumb, eyes transfixed on Kuroko knowing if she looked away she would lose him. Miyuki nods and gets up from her place, followed quickly by Tora. The chair scratches noisily against the floor causing their classmates to glance at them. Miyuki catches Kuroko's eyes.
"Hi," she says, raising her hand to wave at him. Kuroko just blinks at her. Kagami's eyes widen.
"You can see him?" he mouths, slack-jawed. Miyuki laughs lightly, following Tora to the two boys at the other end of the classroom.
"Kuroko-kun," Tora says, smiling. She knows him better than Miyuki since Tora spent many evenings watching him train Kise in basketball. "I didn't know you were in Seirin!"
"Tora-san," Kuroko says, bowing his head slightly. "I'm sorry I didn't speak to you earlier. I did stop by the music room though."
"You did?" Tora asks with her eyebrows furrowed. "When? How come I didn't see you?"
"Orientation day," he deadpans.
"Ah, so it was you," Miyuki says. "I thought I saw a flash of blue hair but I wasn't sure."
Kuroko nods slightly in acknowledgment. "I wanted to say hello but then something urgent came up."
"Basketball?" Tora guesses, pressing her hands to the desk and leaning forward.
"Yes," Kuroko says evenly, watching her. Tora bites her lip and glances at Kagami and back to Kuroko. Miyuki knows what her next question will be.
"Did- did Kise, um, come to see you?" she fiddles with her thumbs again, shoulders bent, as if trying to huddle into herself. Miyuki just feels so sad looking at her.
"Yes," Kuroko answers carefully. "He-"
"Wait a minute," Creepy Kagami interrupts. He leans forward, red eyes glinting at Tora. "You know that Kise fucker?"
"Yes-yeah." Tora clears her throat. "We were, um, classmates," she finishes lamely.
"You were in Teiko?"
Miyuki answers. "Yeah, Tora," she nods towards her. "Kuroko and I studied there before joining Seirin."
Kagami looks around at the three of them as if studying them to see if there was any remnant of the school in them, some brand burnt onto their skin, labelling them forever as Teiko students. Miyuki could see it in some of the gazes of their teachers, especially the music sensei, appraising them, wondering if they were as worthy as their school name suggested they were.
He stretches out his hand. "Kagami Taiga."
She shakes it firmly. His hands are rough and calloused. From basketball, she guesses.
He turns to Tora who takes his hand delicately. "Tora," she says. Kagami furrows his eyebrows. "… just Tora?" he asks.
"Just Tora," she affirms. Kagami gives her a strange look before turning to Miyuki again.
"So this Generation of Miracles thing isn't bullshit?" he asks. Miyuki sees the way he spits out the words Generation of Miracles. Most of her friends from other schools used to do that, thought Teiko's basketball team to be the scum of the earth. Perhaps they were, Miyuki thinks, head tilted. They certainly had the attitude of the scum of the earth. Maybe that's why she always tried her best to avoid being associated with them, only linked by the strand of her best friend.
She shakes her head. "No, it's real. Even though it's stupid."
"Why is it stupid?" Kuroko asks. Miyuki looks at him carefully, but his expression is annoyingly blank. Tora isn't even listening to the conversation.
"Because it's ridiculous to think that a bunch of rainbow haired teenagers somehow ruled the basketball world."
Creepy Kagami bursts out laughing.
Kise finds himself standing in front of the music again, two weeks later. He tries to convince himself that it's because the Agency finds it easier to pick him up from Seirin than Kaijou, but he knows he's only kidding himself.
He slides down next to the wall, closes his eyes and lets Tora's music wash over him. She's playing something slow today, drawing him in and settling between his breaths. The week had been tiring and somehow it feels like he is able to relax after a very long time. He's still in his basketball uniform, sweat lining his back and his forehead underneath his fringe. Why am I here again? He wonders. Maybe he wanted to prove Ayaka and Miyuki wrong, understand why Tora hates him so much.
She hates you.
He just couldn't understand it. He was hated by a lot of people, mostly his opponents in basketball, people jealous of his talent, envious of his looks, desperate for his skills. Tora was nothing like those people, seemed to hate him for just being who he is. It annoys the fuck out of him; he didn't know why the knowledge of her hatred seemed to unsettle him so much, like a constant itch underneath his skin.
The music stops. Kise frowns and opens his eyes just at the door slides open. Tora is stuffing some sheet music into her backpack, doesn't look up until her feet hit Kise's legs stretched across the corridor.
She's startled and a few sheets drop out of her hand.
"Ki-Kise?" she sputters. He gives her a lazy smile.
"Tora," he replies easily. "You play very beautifully."
"Eh, thanks?" She blinks rapidly as if confirming his presence. Then her eyes narrow and she crosses her arms defensively.
"What the fuck are you doing here?"
"Listening to your music."
"It's isn't mine-" she shakes her head. "-god, not important. Kise, why are you in Seirin, and why are you sitting outside the music room of all places?"
Kise smiles at her. "Like I said, I'm listening to you play."
Tora shuts her eyes and breathes deeply. Her arms tighten around her.
"Kise, seriously; can you please stop fucking around," she hisses. Kise smoothly stands up. He towers over Tora who only reaches his chin.
"I'm not fucking around," Kise says quietly. "How come I've never heard you play before?"
Tora's eyes snap open. They're not a dull brown like he always thought they were; at a closer look, they are a vivid, deep russet, absorbing him in.
"Because you were always too busy," she snaps. "You didn't even know I played until six months after we started dating."
She steps forward. "I don't know what your fucking deal is Kise Ryouta, but I never want to see you or your ugly face again. Please, just leave me alone."
She shoves past him, roughly grasps the strewn papers on the corridor. She storms away; her footsteps sounding like bullet shots, echoing in the silent air. Kise watches her leave, fists clenched by his side. Leave? Please. He smirks. Tora has no idea what's coming.
Tora holds her head in her hands, hair hiding her from Miyuki's concerned gaze.
"This is the fifth time, Miyuki. The goddamn fifth time." Her voice is muffled. "He's always just sitting outside the music room. I've been ignoring him, but he's just there, eyes shut listening to me like I'm fucking Mozart or something."
She looks up blearily. "I don't understand what this sudden obsession is. He didn't care at all about my music when we were dating; he never listened to the recordings I emailed him, he didn't come for any recitals, he barely congratulated me when I won the Hamamatsu International Junior Piano Competition!"- she runs a hand roughly through her hair- "I just- just don't fucking understand."
Miyuki sways forward, gently touching Tora's shoulder. "Calm down, he's just goading you; he wants you to react."
Tora shook her head helplessly. "I've been speaking to Kuroko-kun. He says Kise's not dropped by the gym at all since the first time. And he doesn't talk, doesn't do anything Miyuki. He just sits there, same posture every time. He doesn't greet me, just lets me walk past him. And- and-" she takes in a deep breath. "-he looks so relaxed. I don't think I've ever seen him so at ease, so calm ever." She makes a frustrated noise at the back of her throat. Miyuki pats her shoulder again, sympathetically.
"I don't know Tora. I could yell at him again if you want?"
Tora just shakes her head. "Forget it; he's eventually going to get bored and leave."
Neither of them quite believes her words but Miyuki lets it go. Tora changes the topic quickly, remembering something very particular about Miyuki.
"So," a grin slowly builds on her face and she props her head onto her palm. "What's up with you and Kagami-kun?"
Miyuki feels heat pool in her cheeks: a novelty.
"Nothing," she denies. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Sure, it wasn't like you both were having eye sex in the middle of maths class," Tora teases. "All that staring, all that sexual tension." She fans herself, mock-swooning.
Miyuki felt her face burn. "That-that didn't happen," she stutters. "He was staring at me so I decided to stare back."
"Oh, he was staring at you?" Tora's eyebrows waggle. Miyuki fidgets and turns away from Tora's knowing face.
"Shut up," she mutters. Tora cackles, head thrown back. "Hayashi Miyuki blushing, what has the world come to!"
"He's sort of cute," Miyuki says uncertainly. "He has this intensity to him."
Tora's teasing gaze softens. "He's nice guy, a little hot-headed from what Kuroko tells me. Crazy untapped potential when it comes to basketball."
"Basketball," Miyuki repeats, then her lips curls in derision. "Shit, I forgot he was a basketball junkie."
"Miyuki chan…." Tora sighs. "Not all basketball junkies are bad people."
She snorts and leans back on her chair, tilting it backward. "Could've fooled me," she mutters. Tora only sighs again and fiddles with her phone. The classroom is empty, most of the students dispersed either for after school activities or for home. Usually, the two of them would go to the music rooms for practice, but Tora didn't want to go today for obvious reasons and Miyuki just didn't feel like tainting the violin with her odd mood.
She stares out of the window at the football practice going on in the field.
"He didn't check me out," she says, watching a player expertly weave his way towards the goal. "Didn't make me feel like I needed to take fifty baths to make my body feel like my own again."
Miyuki had hit puberty the earliest and the hardest in her grade. She sprouted up seven inches, watched her shirt stretch along her chest until she couldn't wear most of her clothes anymore. It was deeply uncomfortable, her new body, transformed from an awkward pre-pubescent one to a woman's, complete with curves she despised but magazines loved. The ending of middle school was a nightmare only Tora knew about, how she clutched her as Miyuki sobbed and sobbed, felt dirty in her own skin, so ashamed and stained. She remembers how Kise kissed her in the middle of the school field, soft and gentle, but unwanted. How she scrubbed her lips multiple times after that until they were raw and bleeding, but she couldn't make the feeling go away.
Tora smiles at her sadly. "I told you, Kagami's a good guy," she says simply.
Kise opens the door for the first time. Tora startles to her feet, is about to yell at him, when the words dry up in her mouth. He looks like he's dying, face ashen and closed. His hair is plastered to his head by sweat and his jersey hangs around him. His eyes are dull and lifeless, and upon making eye-contact with her, his head drops.
"What-what happened?' she asks, watching him in shock. She had never seen him so so spiritless in her life.
"We lost," he monotones. He sways forward towards her.
Tora bites her lip. "You lost? Basketball? To whom?"
Kise laughs roughly and covers his eyes with his hand. "Seirin."
Tora can't stop the sound of disbelief leaving her mouth. That doesn't make any sense, Seirin was new, a fumbling baby, whereas Kaijou was the best school in the prefecture. She didn't know much about basketball, but even she could see the overwhelming odds against which Seirin could've won.
"Oh," she simply says instead of voicing her shock. "Is this the first time you've lost?"
Kise's head hangs even lower.
"Yes," he mumbles. Tora is incredulous; however good Kise was, she found it impossible that he had never lost.
"You've never lost?" she asks skeptically. Kise raises his head, his expression wounded; defeat, Tora realises, does not suit him very well. He straightens and takes a step forward. She does not move, just lets him get closer to her.
"I am a winner," he says heatedly. "Winners don't lose."
Tora rolls her eyes at him. "That's probably the stupidest thing I've ever heard come out of your mouth." She spins back to the piano and shuts the cover with a snap. She then shuffles her sheet music together; she had to get out now before she blows up and yells at him. She feels him get closer, the stench of his sweat washing over her.
She snaps. "Okay, so you lost. Whatever. It's just a fucking match, Kise."
"It's not just a match," he says lowly, so very close, his voice causing her to involuntarily shiver. She twists around to look at him, momentarily startled by the look of intensity in his eyes. She backs up against the piano to put some space between them.
"Yes, it's just a match. It's not even a tournament match; I know Inter-High hasn't started yet."
Kise's reaching out to her. She watches, stilled, as his hand brushes against her face. He used to do that a lot, particularly during their tutoring sessions. His eyes would go dark and invariably he'd bend forward and kiss her.
"I don't know what to do," he whispers. There's a pang in her heart, the way his eyes droop, genuinely at loss. Was this how she reacted when she first lost? Did she accost an ex in a different school and lament about the whole thing? Of course not, she went out with her parents and gorged on two tubs of chocolate ice cream.
She carefully lifts her hand, trembling, and palms his cheek. He shuts his eyes when she makes contact, leaning into her.
"From time to time/ the clouds give rest/ to the moon-beholders." Matsuo Basho was her okaasan's favourite poet. Tora nursed this Haiku close to her heart. "This feeling, like others, will pass."
There is something so very fragile in the moment, Tora is scared it will shatter if she moves even an inch. Kise is so silent, still has his eyes closed, face resting in her palm. Then-
-He bends forward. Tora deftly twists out of the way, is walking toward the door the very next second, only stops when he catches her wrist.
"I'm sorry," he says. "For everything." Is he genuine? she wonders. Or is this just fueled by the adrenaline wearing off? Kise is a smooth-talker, can use words as weapons. "Please, please forgive me."
Tora fights the urge to bite her nails. She watches him, uncertain. All she can see playing over and over, in an endless loop in her mind-
I love you.
Had she forgotten how golden his eyes were? Or did they seem brighter because of what just happened between them?
"No," she says. "You don't get to just waltz in here and expect everything to be okay."
Kise stands very still near the piano, shoulders drooped slightly. He's grown taller, Tora notices, taking back her hand from him. Even six months later, she's still hopelessly caught up in this boy.
"I don't know what you want me to say," Kise says softly. Tora plays with the lapels of her jacket, pulling it tighter around her frame.
"You should know what to say if you want me to forgive you," she snaps. "It's as simple as that. Give me one good reason why I should even bother with you after everything."
He clears his throat, his gaze flickers to her right, averted from her. He runs his fingers through his hair and his expression is conflicted. Tora sighs and rubs her eye with the base of her palm. Through the window she sees the sun setting, giving the room a red glow, dimming the rough edges; ethereal. Helpless, she thinks, I'm helpless. Because Kise had always taken up such a big part of her life that even after he left her broken hearted, he's still flitting around, forcing her to allow him to toy with her feelings.
"Just leave Kise, leave me the fuck alone."
"I can't do that," he shakes his head, and she cracks. "Why the fuck can't you," she cries. "Enough. You've proved your point."
"But I haven't," he says. "I haven't proved to you that I'm a better person now."
Are you? she thinks bitterly. Are you really?
"Let me set it right again," he pleads. "I swear I can do better."
She shakes her head.
Kise sighs and leans against the store wall. The ugly fluorescent white lights flickers and a couple walks out of the sliding doors, giggling, wrapped so much into each other, Kise doesn't know where one begins and the other ends. He realises he'd been rejected for the first time too. Brilliant, he thought, two new terrible experiences in a span of four hours, congratu-fucking-lations Ryouta.
Kise glances down at his phone screen. 6:45 p.m. He's in no mood to catch the bus home so he calls Ayaka instead.
"Little brother," she greets him cheerily. "What's up?"
"Can you pick me up? I'm near Seirin."
"Seirin? Seirin High School?" she asks confusedly. "Why are you there?"
"Can you please just pick me up?" he asks tiredly. "I'm sweaty and exhausted." He does not care that he sounds whiny.
"Okay," Ayaka says. "I'll be there in fifteen minutes."
He doesn't know what got over him in the music room. He is a prideful person, but something in the way Tora scorned him had him batting hard to prove her wrong. He is a good person, and just because he didn't bother to show it to most people didn't erase the fact. And he realises he was a dick to her, didn't he apologise for it?
Twenty minutes later Kise climbs into Ayaka's tiny electric car. "Hey," she says softly, watching him settle in the front seat and pulling the seatbelt across him. She reaches out and pokes his cheek.
"Why do you look like someone's just punched you and stolen all your candy?"
Kise scowls and shakes her hand away. Ayaka raises one perfectly plucked eyebrow at him, unimpressed. "Woah okay grumpypants. Have it your way."
She releases the break and reverses the car. She twiddles with the radio until some top 40 music starts playing to which she hums along. When they reach a signal, she breaks the silence.
"Your photographer will be pissed if he sees you like this tomorrow," she says. Kise groans; he had forgotten that the next day was a shoot.
"Maybe," he starts. "You can tell him I'm sick and confined to bed rest." He carefully watches his older sister. Her lips twitch and she stares straight at the road. "Maybe," she agrees. "It is flu season after all."
Kise relaxes in his seat. "Thanks sis," he says gratefully. Ayaka tilts her head in acknowledgment.
"You gonna tell me what's wrong now?"
Kise sighs. "We lost the match against Seirin today."
"Oh?" Ayaka hums, tapping her fingers on the steering wheel.
"Yeah," he says glumly.
"Okay," Ayaka replies. "What else is bothering you?"
Ayaka halts the car at another signal and turns to him, unimpressed. Kise exhales.
"Fine," he mutters. "I've been meeting Tora for a while."
"Tora your ex-girlfriend," Ayaka deadpans. "The girl you broke up with three days before her birthday."
Kise winces. "Yeah, eh, Tora."
"And?" She starts the car again.
"And I've been hanging around with her lately. Did you know she plays the piano?"
Ayaka lets out an incredulous noise and shakes her head. "Boys," she says under her breathe.
Kise continues. "So um, I've been listening to her practice for the past few weeks. She's so different now, I can't point a finger at it, but different." He finishes, gesturing helplessly. "And she hates me and I get why, but I've been trying hard to show that I'm not."
"Have you actually done that, Ryouta?" his sister asks.
"Of course I have," he replies, exasperatedly. "I have!"
She shakes her head. "Just giving her the attention you didn't when you were dating, now, doesn't count."
He falls into silence and purposely looks away from his sister. Was that all he was really doing?
Ayaka touches his arm gently. "You need to apologise properly and then get to actually know her, Ryouta. Girls don't just see your pretty face and basketball skills and think you're the greatest thing that has happened to them. You have to show her you're more than that, a bigger person than you were in Teiko."
Kise thinks he should've taken the bus.
"I kissed him."
Tora opens the door to Miyuki who's almost glowing. "I kissed him," she repeats, leaning forward, eyes shining, and Tora squeals and drags her inside. She pulls her up the staircase to her bedroom and Miyuki is laughing, head thrown back, so freely. She collapses on Tora's bed, sits up crossed legs and hugs a pillow. Tora sits down on her desk chair and looks at her best friend.
Her hair is slightly mussed up and she's panting as if she ran all the way here, and her face is lit up by a grin threatening to split across it.
"I kissed him," she says for the third time, brushing her lips with her fingers, dazed. "I kissed Kagami Taiga." Tora contemplates about how starkly different it was the last time Miyuki came to her house to tell her someone had kissed her.
"Tell me everything. Details now." Tora can barely contain her excitement.
"Well," Miyuki starts. "I was arguing with him about something petty- god I don't even remember what it was about anymore- and we were really close. His face, you know, scrunches up all adorably when he's angry-" Tora really didn't know but she still nods encouragingly. "- and I don't know what came over me. He was mid-sentence and I just leaned forward and kissed him."
Tora squeals. "How did he react? What did he do?" she demands.
Miyuki laughs. "He was completely still for a moment, from shock I guess, and then he kisses me back. He was so gentle, Tora-chan, like slow and soft. I had to actually deepen it. I'm pretty sure it was his first kiss."
And your second, Tora thinks. She smiles broadly at her friend and can't stop herself from flinging herself at her, hugging her tight.
"I'm so happy for you," she breathes into her skin.
"I'm happy for me too," Miyuki replies.
"I'm sorry," he says, sliding the door open, causing her to leap to her feet in surprise.
"What the fuck, Kise, have you never heard of the concept of knocking?" She breathes heavily. Kise ignores her and continues. "I think it's important to know that I always liked hanging out with you when we were dating, even if I didn't show it. You were important to me; made me feel normal."
Tora isn't sure what to feel, so she sticks with irritation.
"And I want to-"
She interrupts. "Are you just apologising right now because you think that I hate you and you can't stand the idea of someone not kissing the floor you walk on?"
Kise bristles. "Plenty of people don't like me," he defends.
Tora scoffs. "Sure, people don't like you for your basketball skills or looks or whatever but you know this is different."
"So tell me, tell me why you hate me," Kise raises his chin, lips curling. Tora's face flushes red, her fists clench tightly.
"Because you don't give a shit about other people," she lashes out. "You only think about yourself. The only time you even consider someone worth your time is when they are good at basketball." She stabs her finger towards herself. "Anyone else, anyone who wasn't born to play that stupid game is below you, and you dismiss them."
"I never dismissed you," he says tightly. Tora lets out an incredulous laugh.
"That's all you ever did Kise," she throws her hands up. "Every fucking time I was around you, you'd either ignore me for your friends or your phone. The only time you even looked at me as if I was your girlfriend was during our tutoring sessions."
Kise at least had the courtesy to look guilty.
"Tell me Ryouta, were you ashamed of me? Did you only ask me to be your girlfriend because I tutored you?"
He remains silent. Tora raises her voice, grips the lapels of her jacket, knuckles turning white. "Answer the question, Kise. Answer the fucking question." Tora shakes, wraps her arms around herself. "Oh god," she whispers. "Oh
When he doesn't reply, Tora shakes, wraps her arms around herself. "Oh god," she whispers. "Oh god it's true. Miyuki was right" She trembles and drops to the piano bench, stares at her hands, unseeing.
"Tora..." Kise starts, but her voice cuts him off. "No, just don't- leave." He doesn't move. Tora raises her head. "Leave." louder, dripping with her anger.
He stills. Drops his head, carding his hand through his hair. This wasn't going like he wanted it to go.
Instead: "Vivaldi: Four Seasons, Schubert's Symphony No. 8, Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 14." The sudden change in the direction of the conversation has Tora confused. Kise smiles hesitatingly. "You've been practising these pieces this week. I have them recorded on my phone and that's all I listen to these days. My sister thinks I'm mad," he laughs shortly. "But I can't stand anyone else's version of them, even when the professionals play it. It's like," he pauses. "It's like there's no meaning when they play, I can't-can't imagine their fingers dancing across the keys or frowning in conversation. I can't imagine anyone playing them- except you."
"So you like me for my music," Tora deadpans. "Gee I'm so touched."
"No, fuck-" Kise rubs his forehead, frustrated. "It's not about the music. It's about you, the way you're so at ease when you're by the piano, how the world seems to fade away around you until it's just you and the music. You're-you're like another person, it's just- the only other time I ever saw you like that was when you were tutoring me in the library after school. It's like all your troubles would melt away and you'd tease me for my terrible math and patiently keep correcting my mistakes, and you always looked kind of beautiful then. That's why I asked you out, partially because you helped me with school, but mostly because I wanted to be there with you, somehow share that peacefulness you had. You made me feel normal, calm, like you were the eye in the crazy shitstorm around me, but you were always so different when we were outside, so tense, tight, somehow simpering, for the lack of a better word. It fucking pissed me off, I admit. I thought it was because of the fangirls or whatever, but you were always so unlike yourself around everyone else, and so was I, sure, but like, beyond a point I felt like I was fucking seeing two different girls, the one I liked and the other I didn't understand. But I kept it going because of the Tora I knew who tutored me-"
"-and, it's still the same even now," he says softly. "Sure, I first started coming here because I was pissed that you hated me, but then it suddenly felt I was back in the library with you, laughing over how I sucked at literally everything academic. And somehow you've changed too, you're the same in this room and in the outside world."
Tora has shut her eyes somewhere in between his mini-speech. She opens them now, shoulders dropping, suddenly feeling very tired.
"I thought you'd find someone better," she confesses quietly. "And if I didn't somehow prove to the world that I was your girlfriend, then no one would believe it. I was so caught up in you Ryouta, I just- just, I'd liked you for so long and then I was dating you and- it messed me up. I wanted so badly for you to feel the same for me, and I couldn't nudge off the notion that you were only dating me as a repayment for my tutoring help. And everyone was always constantly judging me, the number of fucking hate notes that were stuffed in my shoe cupboard every day in school-" she shakes her head. "I couldn't do it, I couldn't treat you as a normal person, not when you were so fucking perfect at everything. You had the looks, the friends, the goddamn popularity. I was just fucking desperate for even an acknowledgment that I was an equal in your eyes and you never gave it to me."
Both of them stare at each other, chests heaving. Tora had just released at least a year's worth of pent-up frustration.
Kise lets out a low laugh and looks up at the ceiling. "Fuck, why didn't we just talk about this when we were dating? We could've saved us so much trouble."
Tora sighs and shakes her head too in part-amusement. "Yeah," she says. "Fucking idiots."
Kise takes a deep breath. "Cliche, but-" he stretches out his hand. "Can we start over?"
Tora laughs. "Okay," she says. "But I'm not introducing myself. That's just too much."
His lips twitch. "Hi, I'm Kise Ryouta and I'm kind of craving ice-cream right now."
"That,' she declares. "Is the best thing that has come out of your mouth until now."
Something's different today, Kise thinks. He and Tora had struck up an acquaintanceship (from her view)/ friendship (from his view). He had come to Seirin once every couple of weeks, but recently he found himself visiting the school on all days basketball practice did not extend beyond two hours. Kasamatsu senpai wasn't very happy with him about not putting in extra practice, but Kise couldn't make himself care. He compensated by putting in more effort during team practice but for the one hour Tora stayed behind after her own music practice, that one hour was greedily Kise's.
She no longer startled when he entered the music room. In fact. she was the one who invited him in, pursed lips, muttering about how weird it was for him to sit outside all the time.
Some days they would strike up a conversation. It would flow easily as long as they avoided certain topics. But on most days, Kise would just listen to her. He would sit across the piano so he could watch her play. There was something mesmerising in the way her fingers would dance around the keys, as graceful as the best basketball plays. She clicked her teeth to the beat while playing, always roughly brushed her hair into a messy pony, wisps framing her small face. He noticed the small things about her, the way she would repeat the same page over and over again until she perfected it, the way her eyes would never leave the keys until the song was over after which she's duck her head, red cheeked, when Kise clapped. These were quirks he knew of but had never really noted. He slowly learnt Tora all over again.
"How long have you been playing the piano?" he asks. He's pressed against her on the bench, her arms brushing against him as her fingers stretched across the keyboard. A risk since the last time he was this close to her, he had to fight the urge to slam her against the piano and kiss her. But he sat down next to her, carefully gauging her reaction, and he swore she smiled slightly.
"Hmm?" She's concentrating on her music. "I started when I was seven."
"Why did you choose the piano?"
Tora's fingers slam against the keys causing a jarring sound to echo around the soundproof room. They both wince. She turns to look at him.
"Are you being serious right now?" she demands.
"Uh yes?" Kise is distracted by her eyes and the fact that she's very very very close to him.
"Okay, there was definitely only one person in the relationship," she mutters and slams her fingers on the keyboard again.
Kise begins to protest, but Tora interrupts him.
"Do you know who my parents are?" she asks.
Kise averts his eyes. "Mr and Mrs Nishimura," he says weakly.
Tora releases a short laugh. "Do you know what they do?"
"They're- uh- they're…."
"Concert pianists," she completes for him. "Currently touring Europe."
"Yeah." Tora sighs and places her fingers back to the piano to continue where she left off. Kise watches her play, feeling inordinately guilty. Every time he thinks they are making some progress, Tora throws back in his face proof of how big of a dick he was.
"Is that why you don't like using your surname?" he asks.
"Yeah," she replies shortly and the conversation is over.
This is the second time he's sitting next to her. The past few weeks he's sat on the ground, eyes shut, listening to Mozart, to Beethoven, to Chopin, to Schubert. Today he is tired and drained. She took one look at him; lips pursed, and then patted the seat next to her.
"You lost again," she states, peering into the sheet music in her hand before settling with, Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1, the piece she could never quite master.
Kise doesn't reply. Aomine's words haunt him, stinging like antiseptic on an open wound. He had given all that he had in that match only to have it spit back in his face.
Weak, weak, weak.
Tora sighs and slumps slightly in her bench. She fleetingly touches him, her warmth presses against his frigid body, sweat cooled off. He walked in with red-rimmed eyes and that had been enough to convince her that it really wasn't just a match this time.
"I'm sorry," she whispers and then starts playing the notes. Up and down, she stretches, trying to match Tchaikovsky's genius. When she keeps stumbling over the same part, she growls in frustration and drops her hands to her sides. Kise shuffles a bit closer to her and she's about to tell him off when she freezes.
Kise's fingers dance across the keyboard playing the very part she was having trouble with. The tune she's heard so many times in videos and concerts, this boy with absolutely no training in piano, plays with almost perfection.
She isn't quite surprised.
When he finishes, he turns to her, expecting awe or at least a little admiration, but Tora only smiles sadly at him.
"Kise," she says, breaking the silence between them. "Do you know why people remember Mozart or Bach, or will remember Yiruma and Martha Argerich, but will forget my parents in twenty years?" She takes his hand and softly presses it. Kise's eyebrows furrow in confusion. She keeps a steady gaze on him, taking in his chiselled cheeks, perfect nose, golden golden eyes.
"It's because history remembers only those who create, not those who replicate."
Kise feels a stone drop in his stomach. "Toracchi..."
"And I can keep practicing this piece over and over again until I can perfectly copy it, play it even better than Tchaikovsky did, but-" she pauses and takes a deep breath. "-but I'll never ever become him."
And Kise thinks it's unfair that she doesn't realise how beautiful she looks then, can't see how her russet eyes draws him in to drown, their shining honesty. How her words twist the lump he's grown in his mind, finally throwing into the universe the words he's always known but never acknowledged. How she's taken his heart raw in her hands and the gaping hole in his chest she's left is aching aching.
"Miyuki," she whispers into her phone. "I haven't let go."
The third time he's sitting next to her, he carefully lifts her right hand, places it atop his, and inspects it.
"There's a new bandage," he says astutely, index finger stroking the 'Hello Kitty' wrapper around her ring and middle finger, joining the 'Pokemon' one on her index and 'Naruto' on her thumb.
"Yeah," she laughs sheepishly. "I was messing around with an old cello at home. The strings were pretty sharp."
Kise tsks and bends his head closer to her hand. "You should be more careful," he says. "The fingers are the most important part of the body for a pianist."
His chest feels hollow again, and he tries to take her in again, fully, from her creased forehead to her eyes to her lips. He knows he won't be able to see her again like this for a while. So he thinks, fuck it.
He caresses her hand like it is something delicate and precious. Kise brings her fingers to his lips and kisses each one of them, tantalisingly slow. Tora involuntarily shivers, warmth flooding her entire body. His tongue swirls softly around them, and he lifts her left hand up to, paying equal attention to it. He glances at her to guage her reaction, and she has her eyes shut, teeth biting lips. He smirks and gently nips her index finger.
Tora opens her eyes to meet his. They are dark and hooded, a hot, oozing brown and then he is leaning forward to meet her midway.
The kiss is fierce and overwhelming. He presses her into the piano, the notes clanging noisily when she hits it, but they don't even pause. She runs her hands through his hair, tugging him closer and closer, lips moving in tandem to Brahms' 2nd Concerto, to Chopin, to Zimmerman, music flooding her mind. He tastes of sweat and need, hands over her shoulder, her back, her thighs, burning fire trails through her clothes.
This, he thinks, this is what I've been waiting for. He deepens the kiss, tongue exploring hers, grips her hips tightly, drowning in her taste and-
-"Tora…" he draws out her name and then she suddenly lurches to reality, head spinning, lips burning. They split apart, panting heavily.
"I can't do this," she gasps, pushing him away from her. "Can't do this." He reaches for her, but she twists away. She pauses for a moment to catch her breath, then pulls the sheet music from the piano and haphazardly stuffs it in her backpack. She throws the bag over her shoulder and almost runs to the door. Kise catches hold of her wrist.
"Tora, wait..!" But she shrugs out of his grasp and stumbles out the door. Kise lets her leave, and then collapses on the piano bench, head in hands. What happened, what happened, what happened, runs in a loop in his head, again and again.
He hadn't kissed a girl like that ever in his life, never wanted to kiss someone like that until that moment. And then she bolted away.
Kise groans. There is only one person in the world who could give him any explanation.
"Sorry, Kise-kun, I don't have Hayashi-san's number."
Kurokocchi has a very blank face but Kise is sure he knows exactly why he wants Hayashi's number.
"Maybe you could ask Kagami-kun," Kuroko suggests. "They are dating."
"They're what?!" Kise sputters. "Kagami landed Hayashi Miyuki?"
Kuroko's eyes are very severe when he hands Kise Kagami's phone number. "Talking about her like that is the reason she doesn't like you very much Kise-kun."
"You wound me, Kurokocchi," Kise says, but he turns away, already dialling Kagami's number.
Miyuki crosses her arms very tightly. Her expression is close to murderous, but Kise thanks his luck that she hasn't actually murdered him yet.
"Give me one good reason why I shouldn't punch you right now," Miyuki says.
Kise is uncharacteristically nervous. He tries to flash her one of his smirks, but fails, instead slumps forward slightly.
"Have you spoken to her?"
"Yes," she replies, tightly. "What did you do to her? She was in tears."
"I kissed her."
Miyuki's mouth falls open. "You what?"
"I kissed her," he repeats.
"You fucking asshole, how could-" she breaks off and rubs her forehead, leaning against the doorframe. "What have you done Kise," she swears.
"She kissed me back," he feels obliged to say, lifting his chin challengingly.
"Of course she did, the idiot," Miyuki mutters under her breathe. Kise fidgets slightly, stuffs his hands in his pockets and watches Miyuki. He hadn't meant to land up in front of her apartment door, but her phone was engaged and she lived pretty close by to where he stayed and so-
"Okay, listen here," she says aloud. "You are irrevocably bad for her. Whatever tizzy your emotions have gotten you into right now, it's going to end and then you'll break her heart because that's who you are and Tora actually fucking-"She pauses.
"- whatever. The point is you'll go back to your basketball and modelling and doting fangirls, but Tora'll be the one left behind. Again."
Kise wants to point out that he's the one always watching Tora's receding back, wants to mention how he hasn't been able to focus properly on basketball ever since their conversation. Keeps thinking about her words, create not replicate, create, create, create- constantly, in an endless loop.
"I won't," he says quietly. "I won't-can't break her heart, please Hayashi just-"
"You already have!" Miyuki lashes. "You broke it and stepped on it for good measure. You laughed Kise, fucking laughed when she told she loved you. Maybe she actually didn't but you were a terrible horrible person-"
"You think I don't know it?" he interrupts, cutting across her condemnation. "You think I don't go back to that moment again and again trying to stop myself from being an utter bastard? I know I was bad to her, I've learnt that, so can you please stop fucking looking at me like I'm still the same person I was in Teiko?"
Miyuki closes her mouth and stares at him.
"We were reckless and stupid, so drunk off constantly winning, genuinely thought we were the best in the world. I did like Tora, I did respect her and treat her right, don't you dare say otherwise, but obviously I didn't get to actually know her like I do now, appreciate her the way I do now."
His chest heaves. Miyuki doesn't say a word, just watches him. He's oh so very tired.
"I have a basketball tournament in three months," he says quietly. "I'll have practise every day so I won't be able to see her. Just- just tell her that if she feels anything, anything towards me, she should come to watch me play during the first match."
"And what if she doesn't?" Miyuki asks, grey eyes ever so slightly softer.
He exhales. "If she doesn't, then I'll never bother her again."
"I don't think you should go," Miyuki says, watching Tora brush her hair into a ponytail.
Tora sighs. "I know you don't want me to, but I need to know Miyuki."
"I don't understand why you're putting yourself through this again. You've already given up so much to him."
"It's different now," she protests weakly. "I'm not the same girl who'll drop everything for one of his smiles. I've learnt to put myself first. And-" she hesitates. "- he called me Toracchi."
Miyuki steps forward and places her hand on Tora's shoulder. She looks at her reflection in the mirror.
"You might have changed, but what about him? He's still going to choose basketball over you."
"And I still think that's alright, because I would put the piano before him. It's just-" Tora turns in the chair to face Miyuki. "He's there, he's in my music, settled atop my knuckles when I play. Guess what all my compositions are called now?" She lets out a short laugh, "Sunshine, Golden, even Basketball. He's right here, Miyuki," she gestures to her hands. "And it's not going to be easy to dislodge him again. I need to know if I've done the same for his basketball, if there's even some little part of me in his game."
"Oh Tora," Miyuki says, and buries her face in her hair. "You're building yourself up for pain."
Tora shrugs. "It's been three months; if he still even remembers me I'd be shocked. But this will be a closure, Miyuki. A final final parting; I'd finally be able to move on."
Miyuki just hugs her tighter.
The madding crowd is deafening. Most of them are in the Kajou uniform, excitedly waiting for their team to enter the court. To Tora's absolute shock, Lady Luck smiles upon her and she gets a seat in the first row, just off Kaijou's team bench.
She bites the inside of her thumb nervously. The girl she's sitting next smiles broadly her her.
"Nervous? "You shouldn't be. Keijou will crush it," she says confidently. "Kasamatsu senpai is amazing." Tora nods weakly. Kasamatsu senpai? When her interlocutor notices her blank look, she narrows her eyes. "Kasamatsu senpai... the team captain," she stresses. Tora does not have time for this, but she makes a noise as if she comprehends her words. The girl rolls her eyes and looks back at the court. "Fucking fangirls," she mutters under her breathe, much to Tora's indignation, but she decides not to react. The anticipation is killing her; everything around her is just a whirlwind of noise and lights, and she grips the sides of her chair tightly to keep her bearings. The crowd surges to its feet when the Kaijou team walks in, loud screaming and chanting.
Tora feels as if her heart is in her throat, hammering loudly, skin itchy and sweaty. She scans the blue jerseys emerging onto the court and her sight lands on the only golden haired boy on the team, the last in the line. He stands head held high, a proud jut to his chin. Her breath gets caught in her lungs as he and his team face their opponents. After the customary bowing, the referee states the rules of the game and the captains shake hands. Kise is jumping up and down, stretches his limbs, warming himself up. When the ball is brought in, he smirks, eyes alighting on the player guarding him.
He doesn't even glance towards the bleachers.
This is not the sound of my heart breaking, she tells herself. This is the sound of a seal stamped on what I expected.
The whistle blows and the game starts but she can barely keep track of it, watches her vision blur, the lights and players coalescing into each other, and she clamps her eyes shut, taking deep breathes in. Maybe she should have allowed Miyuki come with her, god knows she needs someone to cry on right now.
The first quarter is a haze, she watches blankly as Keijou racks up the points, the girl jumping up and down beside her, screaming her throat raw.
Why was she fucking crying? Stop fucking crying, this is your fault, she thinks. He was just fucking with you. The team huddles near the bench, Kise laughing about something and Kasamatsu whacks him across the head. The referee signals the match to begin again and he strides out, once again not even glancing towards the crowd. Tora rubs her eyes roughly and glares at the figure running across the court, dribbling the ball maniacally. Three months, just three months. It's not fair, she thinks.
The girl beside her frowns and leans forward. "What the fuck is Kise doing?" she mutters. Tora follows her gaze. He's dribbling the ball, weaving his way through his opponents but there's something different in the play he's making the play, she notices. She sees his opponents scatter, trying to stop him, but focuses on his teammates who are all frozen in their spot, staring at Kise, slack-jawed.
That's when it hits her. It's his own play, completely his own creation. Slight warmth fills her body; at least she played a small role in his basketball, but it's not enough to make her want to stay for any longer. She quickly fires a text to Miyuki and stands up, smiling sadly towards the court, and then she's stepping away, eyes turned towards the entrance. She can't do this.
The buzzer sounds and the crowd surges to their feet. Tora decides to give herself one more glance to see him celebrate, see his growth into a bigger person. She turns to the court. Kise spins from where he is standing, ball under arm, ignoring all his teammates. He's scanning the bleachers, his lips turned down, eyes desperate, as if searching for something... for someone? Tora lets a little hope flutter in her chest.
He finally reaches her row. She stills as he gets closer. Three, two, one, his eyes meet hers.
A wide grin, brighter than anything she's ever seen, spreads across his face, lighting it up. Sunshine, she thinks.
Did you see that? he gestures to the court.
She nods. Yeah, yeah I did.
He hesitates for a second, then mouths. Staying?
She bites her lip, then lets a small smile build on her face. Yeah.
This, she thinks. This is enough.
WHOOOHOOO I'M BACK BITCHES. :D
I wrote this in one adrenaline-fuelled day, instead of studying for my exams (obviously) so if it feels disjointed or odd or weird at parts, it's very likely I just glossed over the scene to get to the end. Sorry :P Also first Hot&Heavy kiss ;) I might go on to write a short Miyuki/Kagami accompanying piece, but I don't think I'll honestly have the time for that.
I haven't seen KnB in ages but I'm honestly such Kise trash that I couldn't help myself. This story started off completely differently but then I read that commentary by Fujimaki in Kise's wiki page (which I admit I had to completely depend on because I remember so little about the anime :P) and completely chnaged tracks. So if you think he's OOC, it's because I've written him differently from Anime! (though when have I ever written Kise in character lol) I've also been fairly liberal with canon to suit my interests. I argue artistic freedom.
I hoped you liked the one-shot, If you did, please leave a review because I'll love you eternally if you did *hearts*
Lots of Love,
Disclaimer: Don't own anything. Lyrics on top are from 'Burn' by Ray Lamontagne.