Contrary to what everyone thought, Aomine did in fact practice basketball, almost every day. Just not with his team, because there was no fun in practicing with people like them.
He often picked an abandoned gym where none of the second or third strings were practicing, like he did in his Teikou days, and just ran around, playing the sport he loved to his heart's content. Which is why it made him angry when the rest of his ex-teammates made it seem as if he had somehow begun to hate basketball. Aomine Daiki lived and breathed basketball; he could never hate it.
He made his way to the almost always abandoned third gym; a run-down old place that desperately needed repairs, but no one cared enough to make them, since the first two gyms were huge and state-of-the-art.
So it came as a surprise when Aomine saw that the light was already on in the gym, and there were noises coming from inside. Checking the time, he saw it was almost 7pm, way past any team practices.
He peered into the gym, a basketball under his arm, and saw a boy in a wheelchair throw a ball towards the basket. The ball missed, and the boy proceeded to chase it across the gym, leaning down to pick it up with considerable difficulty. Aomine watched the same scenario unfold about six more times before he walked into the gym. On closer inspection he noticed that the boy was wearing a Touou uniform, except instead of the customary slacks, he was wearing shorts of the same colour, as his legs ended just before his knees.
Trying not to stare at his legs and be rude, Aomine walked towards the boy. "Why are you trying so hard?" he asked, picking up the basketball and putting it on his lap.
"Oh, Aomine-san?" the boy said, looking at him quizzically, as if to ask what he was doing there. "I'm sorry, am I getting in the way of your practice?" His voice was oddly melodious. Like liquid chocolate, Aomine decided, shaking his head after the thought.
"Nah, I just come here for a bit of fun. Practice is boring. What are you doing?"
The boy smiled brightly. "Playing basketball. Or rather trying to. I never thought that it would be this hard to shoot from down here. I can't seem to do it at all. It's my first time trying to play from a wheelchair."
"Oh, so you used to play…before…?"
The boy looked at Aomine, his smile faltering only slightly. He doesn't remember me… "Yeah. You could say that. You could probably shoot from a wheelchair, right, Aomine-san? Why don't you teach me?" His smile was brighter than ever; Aomine thought that he might have imagined the falter before.
"You can't even get one basket in. I'm not gonna teach someone who sucks so bad," he said, tossing his ball towards the basket with one hand, obviously making the shot perfectly.
"Fine, if I can get one shot in in the next 20 minutes, will you teach me?" he asked, suddenly determined.
Aomine was surprised. The boy looked really…fragile, and it wasn't just because he was confined to a wheelchair. He had a thin build, thinner than even Tetsu, and his jawline was sharp and defined, with high cheekbones to match. His eyes were a light sort of grey, but the oddest thing about his appearance was definitely his hair. It was a dark black and long, longer than even Murasakibara's, tied back into a ponytail, and long bangs covered his forehead, framing his face. Like some Edo era samurai from a manga, Aomine thought.
"Whatever. Like you could do that after failing so many times."
And Aomine was right. The boy missed every shot he took after that, though nothing could put a damper on his determination, and he chased the ball around all over the gym.
"It's been almost half an hour, dude. I'm leaving," Aomine said, yawning.
Just as Aomine put one foot out of the door, he heard the familiar swish of a ball going through the basket.
The boy looked towards Aomine, a radiant smile on his face.
Aomine grunted. "What's your name?"
"Sato Ren," the boy replied, brushing the hair out of his face with a grin.
"Well, Sato Ren. I don't take kindly to slackers. So you had better be here 5pm sharp, tomorrow and every day after that. Seeya." Aomine slung his bag over his shoulder and walked out of the gym doors.
"Thank you Aomine-san!" Ren called out, all grins. I'll make you remember me this time. Don't forget it!