Disclaimer: Kuroko no Basuke belongs to Fujimaki Tadatoshi
The Path Fate Chooses
Basketball. That was the first thing Takao Kazunari had thought of when he stepped onto the grounds of his new school.
After all, Shuutoku was a nationally strong school in the high school basketball world, and as he scanned his surroundings, the basketball club's calls distracted him from anything else.
The boy handing out pamphlets for the club was smiling infectiously, and Takao couldn't help the grin that spread onto his own face as well. He stopped a distance away, watching as a strange, but almost familiar green haired boy stopped to snatch up an application form.
Takao watched in interest as the boy was directed to a table to hand in his form. The bespectacled boy was rather tall, bending over at almost a ninety degrees angle to fill out the papers on the short table. Takao noticed that the boy was holding a weird raccoon wearing a straw hat in his taped up left hand. No, it's not injured...
He handed the form in to the coach and captain sitting at the table, barely moving his lips to talk to them. Takao feels slight confusion when the captain gapes at the paper he was clutching, staring up at the green haired boy in awe. Nonchalantly, the boy turned away, and caught Takao's eye.
Flinching, Takao sees the boy turn and walked briskly to register for the library club. Still frozen, Takao replayed the moment over and over again in his mind, memorizing the details of his face. The boy's intense stare, the emerald green of his eyes, his solemn expression…
A wave of nostalgia washed over Takao. Who is that?
Takao stalked away to also sign up for the library club, hoping to learn more about the other boy.
The boy was gone by the time Takao had reached the library club's table, and Takao had to catch his breath before beaming at the students seated behind the desk, eyeing him happily.
"I'd like to sign up," he says, and his voice sounds hollow to him.
Nodding, one of his seniors took a sheet of paper out and set it in front of him. His contracting chest distracting him, Takao did his best to fill out his information.
"It's a disease that usually will get better by itself in a few years, but…Kazunari-san's condition seems more serious than most of the cases I've seen. It affects his lungs. It's possible that it will be damaged permanently. For now, I will suggest taking oral corticosteroid , and refraining from any strenuous physical activities."
Takao's vision blurred as he sat in a random desk in his new class, full of excited chattering. Burying his face in his arms, Takao concentrated on making his breaths even.
Life was complicated. It seemed like fate hated him.
"It is a condition that we are always uncertain about the course it would take. Keep your head up, Kazunari-san. It's not the end of the world, so keep smiling."
He doesn't know how he could smile after being told that. That he couldn't play basketball anymore. Because that fact alone was the end of his world.
Books slammed onto a desk somewhere in front of him, but Takao didn't react.
He listened to the first years around him, making plans for the future, creating dreams for the future. Yet, all he wanted was gone.
Takao heard the classroom door open then close, and all was suddenly quiet. He figured that the teacher was here.
Raising his head and pulling himself to his feet, he blearily said with the rest of the class, "good morning, Sensei!"
Then, blinking rapidly, Takao had to pinch himself to make sure that he wasn't dreaming. In front of him, stood a taller student, with bizarre, green locks.
His lips curved upwards ever so slightly. Fate was being kind to him today.
Takao wondered if he was becoming a nerd, much to his chagrin. He had begun to like the library and its pacifying atmosphere. He could sit there on one of the soft, cushioned chairs for hours on end, listening to pages of books being flipped and friends whispering to each other in quiet voices.
The best thing was the library club. It was a totally different experience from the other clubs Takao had known. It seemed more like a volunteer committee that organized the library, and was a job often done at lunch, instead of after school.
The green haired boy, Midorima Shintarou, seemed to be in the club just to be alone and away from the loud conversations in other areas of the school. He sat in a corner by himself, absorbed in his book as he ate his lunch when he was finished with his duties.
Noticing that he was always alone, Takao had ignored his pounding heart and had walked straight up to the boy as if they had known each other since forever.
"Shin-chan! You look lonely! Can I eat with you? Wait! Can I call you Shin-chan? You don't mind right? Alright then! Shin-chan it is!" And with that, Takao had plopped himself down in a chair beside Midorima and proceeded to munch on his lunch.
At first, Midorima had rejected him, and moved spots. He gave up when Takao persistently followed him.
"You're annoying," Midorima told him one day, and Takao laughed so hard that he began to choke on his tamagoyaki.
Midorima's blunt words made Takao's heart swell up, and filled it with warmth, because he would have been what people referred to as a tsundere, and it proved it even further when Midorima reluctantly patted Takao on the back, trying to stop his loud coughing.
Takao swallowed a big gulp of water, trying to calm the dry cough that racked his chest painfully.
Midorima's eyes narrowed. It was obvious that he had noticed something wrong with the raven haired boy's respiratory system, but he never said a word. After all, it seemed like a sensitive subject, and besides, the other had never commented on his strange lucky items.
Takao had discovered that Midorima was a horoscope freak, who faithfully watched Oha Asa's horoscope telling every single morning, and followed their instructions without fail. At first Takao had teased him about it, but Midorima just buried his nose in a book as Takao talked and talked.
"Why is your fingers all taped up?" Takao questioned curiously one lunch break, and Midorima pushed up his glasses, almost proudly. Midorima had that arrogant air to him, but Takao liked him, knowing how he really was on the inside. That was all that mattered.
"I like to take care of my fingers. It helps me shoot," Midorima explained, all high and mighty. After a while, he added, "in basketball."
Takao froze, and that word echoed in his brain. Basketball.
Again, Takao felt extremely nostalgic. Almost to the point where he thought his heart would burst from how tight his chest was.
For a moment, it was silent. Then Takao forced a smile to crack on his lips. "Basketball? Shin-chan plays basketball? I want to watch!"
Groaning, Midorima sipped from a can of cold red bean soup. "No, you don't."
"Aw! Why not? Shin-chan is embarrassed, isn't he?" Takao teased. He wondered about Midorima's thoughts on basketball. Did he think it was fun? After all, the first years most likely never got to play in any games, even practice games. This was Shuutoku, one of the strongest schools in the country.
"No, I'm not," Midorima grumbled. "If you want to watch, fine. We have a practice match against Seirin today."
Takao's eyes sparkled. A basketball game! But as he let out another cough, he feels his chest tighten once again, until he was struggling to breathe normally.
Midorima doesn't seem to notice, and chucks his can at a trash bin by the entrance of the library, too many paces away to be called close. Takao raised an eyebrow. Is Shin-chan showing off or something? He watched the graceful arc of the can, doubting that it will land in its target.
It dropped perfectly in the centre of the opening, and his mouth fell open.
"It's my resignation letter. I'm sorry."
Midorima was definitely amazing. Takao thought back to the first day at the basketball club's registration as he watched yet another perfect three-pointer swish through the hoop. The admiration on the captain's face…
Seirin was strong, and they were holding up against Shuutoku quite well for a relatively new school. Takao watched intently, feeling his heart jump up and down. The redhead from Seirin was jumping almost twice his own height, and Takao is positive that it was only raw talent. He had potential, and Takao felt happy thinking about how much he could improve in the future.
Takao watched as the ball was stolen from Shuutoku numerous times, and Midorima was looking frustrated. His eyes focused on #11, who had a blank face. Even so, Takao could see the way his eyes sparkled. But he looks really familiar...
#11 had a small build, and was huffing like crazy, though he already had a whole ten minutes of rest. The boy had a brilliant light blue mess of hair, yet he was almost unnoticeable during the match. He was intriguing. Takao watched as he stole even more balls. What confused him, though, was the way Seirin had the ball being passed. It went from one place to another, changing directions almost magically.
After some careful observing, Takao sees #11 appearing and disappearing without warning, and grins, knowing that it was his handiwork.
He attended his teams' games, every one of them. Each time that they would huddle together on the sidelines, his heart skipped a beat, and it would hurt until his chest pains were a mere bother compared to it.
When they lost against Teikou Middle School, Takao watched as they stood in a line at the end of the game, saw the way they unconsciously clutched onto each others' hands, and he wished that he could be there too, to comfort each and every one of them.
When he looked at the winning team, he instantly felt sorry for a small, short boy with a shock of pale, blue hair, standing alone, separated from the team. He was watching as his teammate gulped water from their bottles. Takao watched as he held a fist out to be bumped by the ace of the team, and was ignored.
As the buzzer rang for the final half, Takao looked up at the scoreboard to be surprised by the outcome. Shuutoku had lost. He had been too distracted thinking about the past to watch the game happening in the present.
He sees # 11 with a bright smile on his face, holding out his fist for a fist bump, and Takao's breath hitched, recognizing the movement. The fiery red haired boy, #10, touches his own fist to the other, before bringing the boy into a headlock.
All this time, Takao watched #11's facial expression. He was different from back then. His eyes shone, and there was no doubt. He loved basketball, and his team. He treasured it like no one else on the court.
It was true what they said. You treasure something the most once it's gone.
Takao dashed outside into the rain to find Midorima standing by himself, looking at the sky wistfully, drops of water streaming down his face.
"Shin-chan! You'll catch a cold!"
Midorima ignored him, and Takao brought out an umbrella. "Shin-chan! You can't play basketball if you're sick!"
Finally, the boy turned to him, his expression unreadable. "Are you my mother?"
Takao took that as permission to be his mother, and held the clear, see through umbrella over Midorima's head, shielding his friend from the rain. "Shin-chan, are you ok?"
"Why wouldn't I be?" Midorima replied, though the usual anger was lacking from his tone of voice.
Takao used the sleeve of his sweater to wipe away the fog on Midorima's glasses, and recoiled when he saw how red Midorima's eyes were.
Water dripped from Takao's midnight black hair, and his eyes blurred.
He watched as the infamous "Generation of Miracles" got their bags and headed out the door. He remembered a green haired boy, carrying a large stuffed teddy bear in his freshly taped hand. He remembered the talented shooting guard ruffling the smallest member's sky blue hair gruffly as he passed by. He remembered the way he had shot an annoyed glance at Teikou's ace, who had been picking something out of his ear, as he strode past him.
"Does Shin-chan like basketball? Shin-chan was awesome! Those shots were out of this world!" Takao commented cheerfully, walking to a restaurant together as the sky got darker. It hadn't stopped raining, and both boys were soaking wet. Midorima had refused Takao's umbrella, and had threatened to throw it into the middle of the road until Takao gave in and put it back into his bag, not wanting to only cover himself out of politeness.
The other doesn't answer. A pained smile appeared on black haired boy's face.
Takao's heart ached to play again, to pass the ball to a teammate, to stand in a circle with their arms slung over each others' shoulders, listening to the coach instruct a play. But he was reminded of the state of his lungs, when Midorima sped up his pace, and he was forced to run to catch up.
"Shin-chan doesn't have to be so mean!" he wailed, already out of breath. "Slow down, jeez!"
Midorima stopped abruptly, making Takao cross his arms in dissatisfaction. "What's wrong with you today?" Takao whined. Maybe fate wasn't being nice today, even though he had done everything he could, but he still lost...
The shooting guard turned with a weary smile. "Let's go into that restaurant there."
"I want to play basketball again."
The restaurant was crowded, every available table taken up. Apologizing, the owner had asked if anyone had wanted to share a seat. The whole Seirin team was present at the restaurant, and Takao spots another boy whom he had recognized from a magazine.
"You're from Basketball Monthly! Kasamatsu-san, was it? You're nationally famous as a point guard! Can I talk with you?" Takao's natural bubbly personality leaked out, earning a grin from the blonde beside Kasamatsu. Takao knows that he had seen that boy before too. Seirin's first year duo also sat together there, making Takao beam. "How about we move to that table?"
"Eh?" was the only word Kasamatsu could utter before being dragged by Takao to a table where the bench warmers of Seirin sat. Takao beamed at Midorima, who seemed reluctant to sit with #10 and #11 from Seirin.
From his seat across from Kasamatsu, he hears Midorima's angry voice. "What do you know about basketball?! Don't talk as if you know everything!"
Takao pretends to not hear and continued displaying his horrible okonomiyaki making skills to his idol, who watched in amusement as it spun away from control and landed on Midorima's head.
"Ah! Shin-chan, sorry!"
Whether he was truly sorry or not, Midorima didn't need to know.
Fate was cruel. The thing it had taken away from him was the thing most important to him.
"What do you want to be when you grow up, Shin-chan?" Takao wondered aloud at lunch one day, as he arranged the returned books onto the shelves.
Without hesitation, Midorima spoke. "A doctor."
"Eh?! Huh? Wow! Shin-chan's so smart!" Takao laughed, but it felt like invisible hands squeezed his chest, and all the air out of his lungs. "But why? Why a doctor out of all things?"
Clearing his throat, he declared, "human anatomy is very interesting." A pause. "Especially the pulmonary and respiratory departments." His voice had lowered to a mumble.
Attempting to peer at Midorima's face, Takao knocked over several stacks of books, earning a disgruntled complaint from the Shuutoku ace, his words mixing in with Takao's mirthful giggles. As the shooter bent down to rearrange the books, Takao saw that his ears were a brilliant red.
Takao's laughter faded, and a wide smile spread on his face. Shin-chan noticed, huh…
He just wanted to be a part of a team again. He wanted to feel that joy as they stood together as one, feel that sense of belonging. He was sure that he couldn't be happier anywhere else in the world. He loved seeing the smiles on his teammates' faces, knowing he was part of the reason why they were smiling like that.
He went to Shuutoku's every game, every match, every practice. He sat on the benches, watching Midorima's perfect shots.
Takao had no doubts that Midorima loved basketball, as much as the other boy didn't like to admit it.
He listened to the complaints of some of the players, even the regulars on the team, about how arrogant and selfish Midorima was, how he probably didn't even care about basketball, even if it was just a half-hearted comment. Takao grinned, because sure, Midorima could be self-centered at times, but the rest couldn't be more wrong. And one day, Midorima would prove it to them.
Midorima Shintarou never once hated basketball. Because Takao Kazunari could see through him, because he watched every day as his new friend carefully wrapped tape around his fingers, because he watched him file his nails to perfection, because he knew how dedicated the boy was to Oha Asa's horoscopes, because he knew how his Shin-chan did these things solely for basketball.
And every time he watched the ball travel through the net and bounce onto the floor, Takao's heart shattered just a bit more.
I wish I could play basketball with Shin-chan.
/SHOT. OK. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE HECK I JUST WROTE. I missed out on sleep last night so really I don't think this makes sense at all to anyone else but me. Actually when I was editing it I didn't understand what I was thinking either.
And heheheh forgive me for any wrong information and mistakes, I'm not a doctor and have like, almost no medical knowledge other than the fact that I probably should call 911 if I'm having a heart attack (and a bit more than that, but you get the point)
So the story's pretty much about Takao getting sick, seeing this dude he thinks he recognizes, makes friends with him cuz he remembers that he was really interesting or something, and then all this stuff happens, so at the end he's like "hahaha Shin-chan's my best friend yay" and "I hope Shin-chan will always have fun in basketball because I can't play it anymore" and the whole time he's just depressed since he can't play basketball anymore. But now I think about it, I actually don't think that's the story at all o-o'
But MidoTaka things are really cute and everytime I see or hear "Shin-chan" it's just jhaglaghlkh I can't even handle it ok ;A;
So yeah, thanks for reading ^-^; (just ignore me from now on)