I'll try not to drag this out, but I do have some things to say.
Firstly, this story is looong; 160 pages in Word. That means, if you print it out on A5 format paper (as most books are printed on) you'd have a book of 320 pages. It's a book! A friggin' book!
Secondly, I've noticed that when I recieve little or no reviews on a chapter, I don't really hurry up with adding the next, and sometimes I even forget (when a new review pops into my email it's like "oh right! Someone is actually reading this!"). So if you care about speed of uploading, your review might contribute ^_^ Though no worries; I will still update even if there's no reviews... someday...
Thirdly, this thing is written mainly in Kuroko's point of view. So if you are a Kuroko fan, rejoice! And if you hate her, I suggest you don't read.
So what's up with this story?
I was re-watching Railgun for the umpteenth time, and when I reached episode 5 (the one where Uiharu and Kuroko are training for Judgment) I found myself wondering… how the heck did Kuroko go from that – in particular the part where she speaks of the students of Tokiwadai as haughty, arrogant, sheltered snobs – to what she is today?
And this is my interpretation of that.
Disclaimer: The copyrights to this thing don't belong to me…
A Certain Destined Introduction by Cun
Chapter 1: First Impressions
The long-sleeved shirt was slightly itchy.
The red ribbon around her neck was just a bit tight.
The light brown jacket was hot in the warm spring weather.
The blue checkered skirt was a bit too short for comfort.
"I am here!" Hands on her hips, the girl with reddish-brown hair in long twin pigtails declared her existence proudly. Also known as Shirai Kuroko, this girl was not trying to be deeply philosophical or pompously arrogant with her rather obvious statement, it was more like the truth of her current predicament needed to be reaffirmed: In front of her was Tokiwadai – the school's red, glistening brick walls and huge decorated windows seemingly towering over the anxious first-years.
The girls that were gathered in the school yard were throwing looks in all directions and soaking in the sight of the bronze school gates, the beautifully trimmed bushes and trees, the fountain in the middle of the open space, the beautifully layered bricks on the ground with not even a speck of dirt, and the grey stone steps leading up to a pair of double oak doors, majestically inviting its students and visitors in.
Yes, it was the fact that she was standing here in front of this elite school, amongst the top 3 of Academy City's all-girl's schools, that made such an utterance seem fitting for this girl known as Shirai Kuroko.
It was early April, and the new school year started for all of Academy City's students with the advance into the next grade. For the girls currently standing outside the renown all girl's school, it also meant stepping up to the next level in the education system; promoted from elementary students to middle schoolers. Choosing what school you would spend the next three years of your life in is a major decision; however none could doubt it was the right choice if they were granted entrance to this particular school. With less than 200 students total and with a minimum requirement of a level 3 ability, the school of Tokiwadai was so strict in its admittance of students it had even once refused an imperial daughter.
Although the school did not choose its students based on their fortunes and riches, but rather on skill and intelligence, it was still an expensive school and so it was rumored as the elite school of rich girls. The school was proud of its close co-operation with the research society, and many students from Tokiwadai later got important jobs in their field of study; though to succeed in this place, not only did you have to study hard, but you'd need to be socially smart as well. With so many noble girls divided into different factions, treading lightly could never be underestimated.
The girl with the twin pigtails gazed at the building before her as if she had to prove herself to the silent mass of brick and wood. And I will! I'll show the world and any non-believers: Shirai Kuroko belongs in a place like this!
"Entering our school is regarded a great honor," the principal's voice reverberated throughout the whole indoor gymnasium, where all the students of Tokiwadai were sitting in comfortable chairs during the traditional opening ceremony. The principal was a big man, shoulder-length, wavy hair and unkempt beard quite the contrast to his expensive businessman suit.
"The private school of Tokiwadai is ranked at the very top of the five elite girl's schools in Academy City, and thus is also one of the most sought-after for all young girls." The man continued in his booming voice. "However, we only accept those whose ability ranks level three and up, and our entrance exams are amongst the strictest. With you sitting here, it means you've succeeded and have a glorious future ahead of you. It is with much pride I welcome you all to a new year within these walls!" The man opened his arms towards them, as if embracing them all.
Elegant applause filled the gym; Kuroko joined in like a robot, busily scanning the audience. Everywhere she looked, there were girls seeming like princesses who had never set foot in the outside world, more used to confer with their maids and stewards than with those of their own age. Most likely, many of them came from some private rich girl elementary school, and had never seen anything else than their study books and walk-in closets in their life. Sheltered, pompous snobs. Her opinion of them was already quite biased, though if you asked the girl herself, Kuroko would most likely answer that with a mere huff.
The principal continued: "Amongst our facilities is a private pool and tennis court; also, there are several services available to you outside school. Your homeroom teachers will explain to you in detail about these as well as our various rules; I'm sure you have already familiarized yourselves with many of them. And now – please welcome last year's student council president; Asanuma Reiko!"
This time the applause was much livelier, and some girls were even squealing in joy. Kuroko watched with a somber expression as an older girl entered the stage; marvelous black hair falling around her shoulders and chin held high in arrogant pride, like the star of a shampoo commercial.
The student council president, eh? That meant she was at the very top of the hierarchy, even above the most powerful factions in school; the student council was more like a state power than a mere council here, at least as far as Kuroko had understood when investigating the place before admitting.
When Asanuma Reiko turned towards the audience, several gasps of the near-fainting category rang throughout the gym.
"As we enter this new year, we seniors must welcome our first-years like we ourselves were welcomed when we first entered this school," the girl started, her voice a pleasant touch of gentleness, and her kind smile quite enthralling as she gazed upon her fellow students. The effect was hardly surprising; breathless gasps, pink cheeks and glittering eyes everywhere.
"Waaah, I wouldn't mind being held in Asanuma-san's arms for an evening!" Someone squealed.
The third-year, as if blind to the effects her presence had on the crowd, continued: "And like tender buds, we must nurture them with our words and share of our wisdom so as to help them grow into the beautiful flowers they are destined to become…"
That could have lasted two hours less. Kuroko sighed deeply.
After the ceremony ended and the second- and third-years left the hall, the first-years was divided into four different classes with 15 to 20 students in each; Kuroko ended up in class A together with a couple of girls she'd barely greeted earlier.
One of the girls smiled shyly as she greeted her. "Shirai Kuroko-san, right?" She had brown, wavy hair that reached her ears, and seemed just a tiny less uncomfortable in the short skirt than her longhaired classmate.
"Hai, that's right." Kuroko confirmed.
"My name is Awatsuki Maaya, and this is Wannai Kinuho," she gestured to the girl beside her, one sporting long, dark hair looking relatively dull in comparison to the student council president's, and a matching shy look like that of her friend. "I hope we'll do well in each other's company." Awatsuki-san smiled.
"Pleased to meet you." Kuroko felt no enthusiasm whatsoever.
"That Asanuma Reiko was really amazing, wasn't she?" The other continued, clasping her hands in front of her chest. "So beautiful! I wonder if she'll run for student council president this year too?"
Kuroko didn't really care, but she couldn't imagine that pompous third-year doing anything else; she'd seemed quite comfortable up there in the spotlight.
They left the gymnasium with the rest of their class, and the two girls walked side-by-side with Kuroko down the hall.
"Aah, but to think we're finally middle schoolers." Wannai-san said, sounding almost worried. "I feel like I need to grow up really fast all of a sudden."
"I know, when I saw all those upperclassmen I was really worried." Awatsuki-san said, sounding equally worried, but she was still smiling. "They all seemed so mature and dignified."
They passed a group of upperclassmen on their way down the hall, and Kuroko noticed the figure of a green Gekota mascot dangling from one of the school bags, and giggled silently to herself.
The day seemed to grow longer and longer as she sat in the classroom and listened to their teacher; he introduced himself as Hiraga Takahiro, but would soon be known as only Hiraga-sensei to the girls in his class.
Hiraga-sensei told them how their luggage and personal belongings had already been transported to their designated dorm (Kuroko had specifically asked for the dorm outside the Garden of Education, as she couldn't stand the thought of being stuck in that snobbish town all day long), and then they were each given the trademark Tokiwadai school bag; a small, black leather suitcase, accompanied by clear instructions that this was the only school bag regulated for use. Though it may look like any regular school bag, this one (according to their teacher) was designed by an award-winning artist, and was made from only the most exclusive materials available.
He also spent an entire hour going over different rules of the school: Always wear your uniform, obey your dorm mistress, never bring disgrace upon your school (and the list of what that included was as long as the constitution), and treat your teachers and fellow students with respect, amongst them.
At the end of the day, it seemed like this place was full of rules and restrictions, as well as a whole lot of fine ladies-to-be. Kuroko looked out the window to her left with her cheek resting on one hand, sighing to herself. How had she ended up here again?
Uiharu Kazari gave a deep sigh of relief. And it was with good reason too: She'd officially survived her first day at Sakugawa middle school.
She'd reached the school on time without getting lost, managed to introduce herself to the class without stumbling too much in her words, and had even talked a bit with some of the other girls in her class. After having dreaded this day for well over a week, she had to admit it had gone fairly well. Her spot in the classroom was okay, if not perfect; almost at the back, and one row away from the windows. The homeroom teacher seemed likeable, and the dark blue, long-sleeved sailor uniform was lovely; it made her feel truly like a middle school student. She felt lighter than she'd imagined while standing outside the main entrance, backpack on her shoulders, ready to head towards the iron gates and the street outside.
"I wonder what I'll have for dinner today…" She hummed, checking her cell phone.
That's when the wind was suddenly acting very intrusive, or rather, was invited in under her skirt.
She realized why just as a voice commented: "Ooh, blue and white stripes. How nostalgic!"
Face growing beet red, she clamped her flying skirt with a screech, pulling it back down.
"Heya!" Stepping out in front of her was a smiling girl, a bit taller than herself and with long, black hair adorned by a single white flowery hairclip on the left side. From her shoulder dangled what looked like a blue gym bag.
No doubt this was the culprit of Kazari's current predicament.
"W-what are you doing all of a sudden?" Kazari shrieked, glaring at the girl furiously and embarrassed all at once. There were boys around them! She wished she could turn invisible.
"Aa-ah, I figured the best way to introduce oneself is by breaking the ice," the girl rubbed her neck with a silly grin. "Besides, I wanted to check that you were wearing your underwear properly."
"Why do you need to check that?" Kazari screeched. "And even if you are worried, couldn't you just ask?"
"Haah, but you know, girls like you tend to live in their own world, and forget important stuff like that." The girl said, totally ignoring the pursed lips and puffed cheeks in front of her. "Say," she continued, face sober as she looked at the flowery headband on top of Kazari's short, fluffy dark hair, "What's up with that? Do the flowers grow out of your head or something?"
Kazari instantly grabbed at her headband; "Of course not!"
"That'd be awesome, though." The longhaired girl grinned anew. Then she bowed slightly and announced: "My name is Saten Ruiko! You probably noticed, but we're in the same class. Nice meeting you!"
Kazari hmph'ed, looking another way stubbornly. She couldn't help feeling grumpy after being treated like that in front of so many people.
"Naw, naw, don't be like that," Saten-san grinned. "We girls need to keep together, you know? Flower power and all that!"
"That's not funny!" Kazari said, but she turned towards the girl all the same, cheeks puffed. Letting out a stubborn sigh, she eventually relented, and bowed as well. "Uiharu Kazari. It's nice meeting you." Uiharu Kazari was the kind of girl that was too nice for her own good sometimes.
"Aaah, you see? Breaking the ice sure is a good way to make friends!" The girl laughed and slapped her shoulder, and Kazari huffed again. "Now let's go celebrate our youth with some ice cream!"
Kuroko and the other girls of her dorm received a lengthy lecture from their rather scary-looking dorm mistress about the various rules of their new living quarters. The curfew time of 9 pm, pets forbidden, no use of powers within the dorm, and the no boys rule all seemed like things the dorm mistress expected them to take for granted.
She then informed them that if you broke any dorm rules, both you and your roommate would be deducted a point (making Kuroko wonder how many points they started out with, though she didn't dare ask), and for every three points deducted, they would both be put in detention. The aspect of having a shared punishment system was ridiculous in Kuroko's eyes, but she couldn't exactly do anything about it. Hopefully, she and her roommate could get along well.
Her hope was soon demolished, however. Though the room was nice, with two huge beds, two bookshelves, two desks and one shared bathroom, her first impression of the room was her rather sour companion. Her roommate was a girl from her class; though Tokiwadai did not particularly match classmates, it was inevitable to happen sometimes. The girl had black, straight hair reaching almost to her shoulders, and a permanent frown on her face.
"Shirai Kuroko. Pleased to meet you." Kuroko said, bowing her head slightly.
The girl sniffed arrogantly. "So you're the one who's going to disturb my studying this year."
Kuroko stared at her. "Haah?" She could recognize a sour tone of voice when slapped in her face so obviously, but she didn't understand the reason quite yet.
"I'll have you know I always go to bed by nine o'clock, and I expect you to follow my example. I'd like to use the bathroom first in the morning, and my bed is the one on the right. I don't like sleeping with the curtains closed, so you'll have to adjust."
Kuroko blinked, hardly believing her ears. Was she joking? But looking at that arrogant face, she realized this girl was being totally serious. Her heart fell. "Um… what was your name…?"
"You don't even remember the names of your own classmates?" The girl sighed overbearingly. "Really, this is going to be one long school year…"
Kuroko hmph'ed, but didn't have time to think of a comeback before the girl continued: "I am Sumone Nelly. Please keep that in mind."
"Gh…" she bit back the insult growing on her tongue; she'd have to survive sharing a room with this girl, after all. It's going to be a long year indeed.
"Ooh, so you went to Sakura elementary in second district?" Saten-san said, eagerly spinning the straw around in her soda drink.
"Yes…" Kazari said, red-cheeked and very aware of the fact that she was sitting at a public café with the weirdest person she'd ever met. When the other girl had asked, she hadn't managed to refuse, and was dragged here before she could anyway. At least she hadn't flipped her skirt again.
"That's a very nice school, isn't it?" Saten-san said, grinning from ear to ear. "A friend of my friend's friend went there, apparently."
"…" Kazari sipped her soda silently.
"I went to Kasoku elementary," the longhaired girl continued, as if she didn't even notice the lack of an answer. "It was really boring!" Saying that with a smile somehow removed the need to feel sympathy. Then her voice turned solemn. "Still, it kind of sucks entering a new class with none of your old classmates."
Kazari brought her glass down. "Why did you come to Sakugawa, Saten-san?"
Saten-san looked up at her in surprise, as if she hadn't expected her to say anything. Then she smiled again. "Ah, you know, everyone says this and that school is the best and so on, and I figured 'what the heck' and just tried for everyone I could. Sakugawa was the first to accept me, so I didn't bother thinking so hard about it. How about you, Uiharu?"
Kazari gazed down into her soda, feeling her stomach knit. "I was going to come here with my best friend."
"Really?" Saten-san exclaimed. "Is she in our class? You should have invited her as well!" She looked around the café, as if she might be standing in a corner. Kazari's grip tightened around her glass.
"No, she… she ended up going to a school in district nine instead."
Saten-san's gaze fell back to her, and she hmm'ed, for once sporting a solemn expression. Kazari glared at the glass in her hand, waiting for the question; Why?
"That sucks." The other girl said. Kazari looked up in surprise. Saten-san was looking out the window, hands behind her head. "But, I mean, that's not much of a friend either way, if she chooses another district over her best friend."
She noticed Kazari's astonished gaze and looked back at her. "What?"
Kazari hurriedly looked down into her soda. "No, nothing…" But her chest felt better; lighter, somehow, and her lips turned upwards into a gentle smile.
Saten-san grinned again. "No worries; I'll be your friend from now on, neh?"
"Mhm." She smiled.
"Really, that school is weird through and through!" Kuroko was sitting at her desk at Judgment 177th branch; safely out of danger from her roommate or anyone else hearing her complain. The temperature outside was moderate, and her jacket was hanging over the chair; at least she'd take that off whenever she could. With the strict rules of always to be wearing their school uniforms, she'd have to get used to it, though. However, that was the least of her worries.
"You wouldn't think the other girls in the class are my age; they act like they are eighty!" She spat. "And my roommate – you would do well to find another like her in the whole of Japan, if not the whole world."
Konori Mii, the disgruntled girl's senior, looked up from her computer screen and smiled. "Are you sure you're not just nervous?"
Kuroko puffed her cheeks out stubbornly. "What a ridiculous conception."
"Still, I was sure you wouldn't have time to drop by today. Don't you have a lot of things to pack out and organize?"
"Things like that takes no time with my ability." She said confidently. She'd teleported her goods into place when Sumone-san went to the bathroom, not wanting a deduction point on her very first day for misusing her powers inside the dorm.
"Ah, I guess that's true…" Konori-senpai continued to smile. "Then, why did you choose to go to such a weird school? It's not too late to change you know; some schools are still accepting new entries."
"I will not! I have chosen this school because of its unrivaled study program, every single graduate who continue on to similar high school programs is ensured a high quality job."
"Aren't you quite wealthy already to afford attending there?" The older girl asked.
"Honestly, why do people only think about money?" Kuroko sighed deeply. "Unlike you, I do not think of the profit when doing my choices in life."
"Oh, that's harsh." Konori said, and chuckled. "Still, I've heard a lot of good things about that school. Apparently they have a really good student society, and their dorms are absolutely fantastic! I'm sure you'll have a great time there once you get to know your classmates a bit better." She gave a light-hearted sigh.
Kuroko glanced at her senior with a small smirk. "Did I just hear your equivalent of a squeal, Konori-senpai?"
Konori spluttered, pushing her glasses up her nose. "Of course not! Get to work, Shirai!"
Kuroko looked back at her computer screen, and sighed again. "Well, perhaps I ought to give it a chance before I judge it too harshly." She muttered. Though she doubted anything could make her think otherwise of the school and its pupils. Being indecisive or unsure of her own opinions was not the kind of person Shirai Kuroko was.
Asanuma Reiko's name. Asanuma: Shallow, superficial. Reiko: 麗子 "lovely child."
Also, if you're not familiar with honorifics (-chan, -san, -senpai etc) I suggest you try Wikipediaing "Japanese honorifics" ;)
Oh, and this story is not beta-read at all. If you find any mistakes, please point them out!
PS: If you for some reason are confused about the names, I'm writing them using the Japanese order; meaning, last name comes first, given name comes after.