Author's Note: Okay so here is the final chapter! I will post the first chapter of the Kise story tomorrow night. Thank you guys for all the wonderful support and feedback you have given on this story. I know I say that every chapter but my appreciation cannot be overstated. Also I have a poll up for who you would like to see after Kise. I already have some stuff written up for Akashi and Aomine, although I have a good idea for Midorima as well.
"Two straight matches so far without the other team getting any points. I'm really impressed with our basketball team. You looked really cool out there, too, Atsushi-kun." She grins at him as she settles down to sit on the bench where he has been resting before their next match, munching away at a stick of pocky. "Himuro-kun told me this next match might be a little difficult. I hear his friend from America is on the other team, and one of your old teammates from Teikou is there too."
Despite the mention of playing against someone he knows, Atsushi does not display any anxiety about the upcoming match. Indeed, he seems too enamored in his snacks that she almost wonders if he is even listening at all.
"Well, of course I want you to win either way. But I hope that this match can be a challenge for you."
He peers over at her, as though those words seem strange to him.
Reira grins back. "Someday I'd really like to hear you say you like basketball."
That comment is completely ignored, as expected. But they do not have much time left for idle chatter. It is about time for him to be returning to the locker room. No doubt they need to meet prior to the warm-up for the match.
"Okay, well, I'll be in the stands watching."
Just as she moves to excuse herself, he reaches up and grabs her hand. As Reira turns to face him, he stands and takes her by the shoulders. In just a moment later their lips connect and again she loses herself in the caress of his tongue. At least until she realizes that this is still in public, at which point she abruptly breaks away.
"Y-you're going a little too far, you know!" she grouches. "If you wanted something for good luck, you could just ask. Like a normal person!"
"But it tastes good."
Her mouth gapes. "L-like I said, you can't say stuff like that! It's inappropriate!"
Suddenly a large hand starts to ruffle the hair on her head, leaving the carefully groomed strands entirely disheveled. But just as she is about to spout off complaints at him for his actions, he tells her, "I'll crush them." That confidence of his is most likely not misplaced. Although she does feel that his words do not at all match his typical laid-back attitude.
As soon as he has expressed this sentiment, however, he leaves her behind to try to comb down the flyaway strands that have been left in the wake of his awkward show of affection. Reira huffs to herself as she stomps off toward the stands. But for all her irritation, she is still smiling even as the two of them walk in completely opposite directions.
It is like sitting on pins and needles waiting for this match – which is apparently highly anticipated on all sides. Even though Reira is not particularly a sports fan, even she can feel the pressure. The tension is particularly thick between Atsushi and a man that he seems to direct some words to from the opposing team. And the one that Himuro exchanges words with must be the friend that he has talked about from overseas.
The tip off turns out anticlimactic, if only because the whistle blows on Atsushi for a jumper violation. He earns a harsh rebuke from each of his teammates, evident from the glares they direct toward him. Although, as nonchalant as ever, he brushes off their criticism.
The battle between the two opposing teams escalates as the match progress. Even if she does not understand the intricacies of basketball, the score is telling as the two battle it out. It is a struggle on either side. And for the first time that she has ever seen on court, Atsushi actually ends up on the offensive. Despite how lumbering he is – which might lead one to believe he would be almost oafish – he turns out to be surprisingly agile.
No matter how impressed she is as the scores gradually change and points accumulate on either side, sometime during the fourth quarter, a timeout is called for Yosen. Reira finds herself worrying a bit, if only because the way Atsushi slumps gives her the impression that he has been completely deflated by his inability to stop the enemy team and crush them as he had promised.
Fiery words are exchanged, of which she is unable to discern any particulars. But judging by how Himuro charges up to Atsushi and swings a fist, things must be pretty heated. Her breath catches in the back of her throat as she watches.
Rather than give up as she might have feared he would do, Atsushi stands back on his feet. And this time, with his hair tied back, reenters the game with a sense of renewed determination. Reira can feel herself relax, seeing that. From this point she feels completely helpless. But seeing them, she understands how much basketball is a part of Atsushi – and how pivotal Himuro is as a best friend and teammate.
With Yosen still in the lead, they head into the last minute of the game. Everyone watches with bated breath. The tide of the game can still turn easily. It is anyone's guess as to who will walk away the winner. She chants hopefully under her breath but it is all up to those on the court by now.
At only twenty seconds remaining, the gap is closed and they sit nearly side-by-side. Unable to stand any longer, Reira takes to her feet and uncharacteristically joins in the cheering of the crowd. Below, despite Atsushi's counter and subsequent attempt to guard, the other team scores again and manages to pass Yosen in the point count. Only four seconds to go.
Himuro manages to pass the ball to Atsushi and it seems as though Yosen may narrowly take the game. But for some reason, poised to dunk the ball, Atsushi ends up unable to make the jump. This allows for a member of the other team to take a leap and knock the ball free from his hands, just as the buzzer blares throughout the building. Yosen loses by one point margin.
Atsushi seems to take the loss particularly hard, earning some reassurance from both Himuro and the team's captain, whose hand he bats away. And maybe it is just a trick of the light, but even from this distance, Reira is pretty sure she can see some tears in his eyes.
Her shoulders slump in relief as she resumes her seat. The tension is slowly leaving, and in its wake a calm overcomes her. "I'm glad," she says. "Maybe it's good for Atsushi-kun to lose sometimes, too." For someone with seemingly endless talent in basketball, perhaps a loss can bring them renewed resolve. She certainly hopes so, because Reira is convinced that despite his protests, Atsushi does not really hate basketball.
It is only a little later that she manages to catch up with him outside the locker room, after the team has had the opportunity to cool off a bit. The next match is already starting and Reira thinks that he might be interested in at least observing. But when she sees him, he does not seem particularly interested in meeting her gaze.
"Jerk," she enunciates the word slowly as she plants a fist gently against his chest. "Don't look so disheartened. I like the uncool Atsushi-kun that was out there today a lot better than the one I've seen in any of the past matches."
He furrows his brows at her, as though he isn't sure whether this is something he wants to hear or not.
"There will be more opportunities in the future, right? But I'm sure your team and Himuro-kun already told you as much. How about going to watch the next match? Ah, you probably don't have any more snacks. We can buy–"
She is interrupted mid-sentence by a sloppy and short kiss. "Next time," Atsushi tells her as he pulls away, "I'll win."
"Of course you will." She gives him a steely look before reaching for his hand and weaving their fingers. "Now where should we go?"
"I need to buy more snacks."
"Yeah, yeah, I meant besides that. When do you ever not need more snacks?"
The look that he gives her when she says that immediately makes her blush. Almost as though she can read exactly what he is thinking by his facial expression.
"Y-you better not be having perverted thoughts!"
He playfully bumps her shoulder with his arm without specifically saying anything in response. And from there on they continue their snarky teasing, with Reira always being the more verbal of the two. The whole way their hands remain connected, and the smile on her face mirrors his.