In fact, it was a pretty normal afternoon, Hyūga thought. It was also the day wherein most of the first and second years were dismissed a lot earlier; subjects seemed few today compared to other weekdays. Seirin Basketball club members were given the unusual opportunity to arrive in the gym earlier than expected, with them quickly dressing up to their practice uniforms – some casual garb of tees, shorts and training shoes – and afterwards performing the stretching routines to warm up their bodies for the practice sets. Seirin's captain inwardly groaned that at their few numbers, they populated the gymnasium with their presence. He hoped that Coach Riko was correct; winning the Inter-High and Winter Cup could possibly pull in more students to the club.

However, there were some little things that caught his attention. He merely desired to shrug them off from his head, but there was just that something that drew him to observe for more. He took a peek from the sidelines to the source of the tiny curiosity which piqued him. It wasn't really that bothersome, but it alarmed him that, somehow, he was lured in with the hidden scrutiny. The source: a particularly silent freshmen duo that padded wordlessly inside the gym. Well, he should actually be glad that the redhead was mostly noiseless; a little weird but one less noise maker at least.

The two trod towards the lockers deeper inside the gym, not even greeting at those who they just passed through. Perhaps it was the thing that bothered Hyūga, he decided. He didn't mind the silence between the pair, but he was rather particular about the kouhais giving sufficient respect to the senpais. The captain did not miss to notice that they entered even without proper greeting, something that a proper Japanese student would have done out of sheer respect. A vein popped on his forehead. He soon noticed that his fist yearned for some heads to be knuckled down.

He sighed and decided to let the duo pass this time, since it was too troublesome to chase them when they just closed the lockers' door. He knew he'd have more moments to perform his teachings to the disrespectful kouhais.

o o o

Izuki was sure that it was two people who entered inside. Ever since Kuroko joined the basketball club, he always miscounted the people both inside and outside the court. Unless he had his focus on the maximum, he'd always end up on missing the shorter male. Well, at least this time, the voice of Kagami talking to someone else signaled him that, indeed, the phantom player was together with their ace. After he slipped in to his shirt, he shut the locker door close. He still kept a wary ear at the voice that drowned the room. Pretending that he was fixing some stuff in front of the locker, Izuki let his ears follow through the conversation.

"Things are going to change, huh?" The deep but rattling voice sure came from Kagami. Izuki briefly wondered if his given name, Taiga, was some sort of coincidence that appealed to his personality and looks (like a real tiger), although it may seem to appear that the choice was also likely by observation. Izuki held a silent chuckle; if the latter was true, then Kagami sure had some parents who liked to tease. "This is going to mess my mind, I guess." Izuki managed to hear. He was surprised that Kagami muttered that combination of words calmly. Yep, highlight the word 'calm.' Finally, Izuki noticed that somber aura that covered the duo. He did turn to see the pair and was stunned that the two were looking at him quizzically, as if he'd been an interesting sight to behold.

Managing to bring up a wan smile, Izuki started to scratch the back of his head, chuckling dryly at his situation. For sure, the weirdness was creeping at his body and he officially failed to react normally. "Ano… I–"

"Izuki-senpai," Kuroko cut him off, mildly startling the second year. "Hyūga-senpai looked like he was fuming or something." He said, his voice ever-cold, which was probably derived from his nonchalance. "I did want to greet him when we entered but I fear I might just annoy him more." He added, looking at Izuki with those almost unexpressive orbs. Izuki's awkward smile widened even more to a disturbing form.

"Eh… Is that so?" Izuki replied. "So it's my cue to check up on him, then?" He asked, rather rhetorical. Without any words to indicate his actions, Izuki only slithered through the gazes of the Seirin duo as he haplessly walked to ignore the solemn atmosphere that magically blanketed the locker area. Wincing at the idea of looking back at the source of the weirdness, Izuki gulped down, opening the locker door, slipping out and closing it promptly.

It felt that is just was so… off. Izuki thought. Kuroko, who he knew that spoke hardly, talked to him about something that was not really even related to basketball, with a total of two sentences at that. He now understood that something was fundamentally wrong, but he could not pinpoint what. He just sighed; he was mesmerized about the afternoon which he thought was supposed to be a pretty normal one.

o o o

Koganei was not really surprised when Izuki escaped from the locker room with confusion literally written on his face. He only gave a worried glance at his teammate, which accentuated that cat-like feature that marred his lips. He watched as Izuki sighed hard and fell surprised when he saw Koganei just standing in front of him. The second year merely pouted at the eerie vibes Izuki possessed at the moment, the worried look he sent now changed into that of mild annoyance. Izuki only managed to give a desiccated smile in response, in which Koganei replied with his own.

"Overall, aside from your jokes, you're weird all-throughout, Itsuki," Koganei jeered at him.

"I'm not weird," Izuki defended. "After all, it's you who looks like a cat."

"Am I a handsome cat then?" Koganei quickly replied, which ticked off Izuki.

"That's not a complement," Izuki calmly responded, still thankful that he was as composed as he appeared. He brushed his hair as he tried to straighten out his thoughts. A lone eye peeked open and dropped down at Koganei. "Besides, it isn't really me who should be noticed."

Koganei sent a regarding look, before he placed a hand under his chin. "It's Kuroko and Kagami then," he said. Izuki nodded at his guess. Of course, Koganei couldn't possibly turn a blind eye over the pair that walked along the sides of the court that sent off that menacing aura all around the vicinity. Koganei felt it in the every inch of skin, as if he was being repelled from approaching the freshmen duo. He tried to think of the possible reason as to why both Kagami and Kuroko acted that way, but he was pulled from his thoughts when he noticed that Izuki had started to walk away. "Itsuki?"

"Kuroko told me that Hyūga looks like he was going to kill somebody." Izuki answered. "I just want to confirm." He said.

"Isn't it just because the captain felt annoyed that Kagami and Kuroko barged in without greeting him?" Koganei supposed, sending his puzzled thought to Izuki.

Izuki whirled and gave Koganei an incredulous look. "Well," he did reconsider, though, "Hyūga is really the type that gets annoyed with something like that." Izuki finished, not noticing a shadow that loomed behind him. It was too late for him to realize when a fist found its way onto his head, smacking it down with an audible thud. Izuki almost jumped as he twisted to look at the assailant, while he rubbed the back of his head in pain. The narrowed look in his eyes was replaced with an apologetic one when he discovered that it was already the bespectacled captain that stood by them. Koganei yelped a whine, subtly telling the captain not to give him the same punishment.

"And what are you talking about?" Hyūga asked, an ominous gleam lacing his eyeglasses. The face he gave them told them that he was in a clutch mode, something they wished not to happen outside a basketball game.

"I thought that your violence is reserved for the freshmen?" Izuki complained, still suffering the dull pain that bore on his head.

"I'm not going to spoil any members, idiot," Hyūga replied, lashing down the objection.

"So it's true that you look like you're going to murder someone?" Izuki just said.

"Yes. By the name of Kuroko and Kagami," Hyūga responded, summoning some dark shades that made him look more dangerous. "Just what is going on with those two?" He finally voiced out his concern, a thought that even Koganei and Izuki shared.


"Kuroko, the ball!" Kagami roared as he and the rest of Seirin played a mock basketball game that afternoon. After the weird show the duo had mustered some minutes before, most of Seirin was really flabbergasted with the scene. Nevertheless, all of them were relieved when the two people in concern walked out of the locker room in their usual practice attire, their expressions showing that nothing was really wrong. The usual comedic bicker between the two players had returned, showcasing the loud and angry Kagami lines being replied with the cold and monotonous Kuroko retorts. Well, if that was the case, then Seirin could finally breathe a little easier now.

At least, in some conclusion, the power duo of their own basketball team could affect them in a subtle way as well. Team interaction was an important part of the team game called 'basketball', after all, and it was just proven that a little pinch of eccentricity actually made them a bit uncomfortable. But, at least, it subsided to the point that they played efficiently even at the practice game.

With Kagami and Kuroko paired again to counter a team of seniors, the duo practically lambasted their senpais with scores and huge gaps. It was really unlike their first practice match wherein Kagami owned the game for himself. He was indeed a scorer, but then his streak ended when the senpais triple teamed him. Now, however, was a different case. With the knowledge of their skills, both Kagami and Kuroko took advantage of their almost perfect pair play, down-turning the man defenses the senpais set-up against Kagami and piercing through the zone defenses the seniors used to halt Kuroko's passes.

In fact, they were on their way to a crushing victory but abruptly stopped when Kuroko instantly stilled on his movement, standing on his current spot, the ball in his hand. Everyone seemed to notice Kuroko's lack of action and gradually ceased from their strides to form up another defense against the pair. Coach Riko was curious enough for her to whistle down the timer and observe from a distance as to why their phantom player suddenly stopped playing. Seirin member exchanged some glances, and then most eyes fell down to Kagami. The redhead cringed; he knew that he would be the one pushed to check on Kuroko.

Reluctantly, Kagami approached Kuroko, wearing a feral grin. "Kuroko," he called out. "Stopping in the middle of court is not going to help us crush the Generation of Miracles," he said, indirectly chiding the shorter male but adding a tone of motivation by the mention of the renowned basketball players.

Kuroko's head whipped precariously at Kagami. The redhead looked so surprised when the usually calm and impassive orbs were glaring daggers against him. He swore that Kuroko's pupils narrowed into some slits, making him appear so… dangerous. "Who are you?" It was Kuroko's reply to him, the menacing glare evident at the generally deadpan expression. "And who are you to say that the Generation of Miracles will be crushed?" He asked, his tone icy and laced with the sound of protectiveness.

"W-What are you saying, Kuroko?" Kagami pursued, clearly confused by those words. "We're going to beat up the Generation with your basketball!"

"Who are you?" Kuroko only repeated, signs of minute aggression now altering his countenance. He then thrashed his head, side to side, seeing the perplexed expression of the basketball players who watched the ordeal. He began to take a step back, Kuroko appearing to be really confused with the surrounding.

"Kuroko," Kagami garnered his attention again, the redhead now walking forward towards the phantom player. Just when he was two steps away from the shorter male, a ball suddenly bashed him in his face, the force of the hit almost as strong as a knuckled punch. Kagami Taiga was sent back by the ball, his legs wobbling as he made an effort to remain standing. However, he finally lost control and balance, which made Kagami fell flat on his back. Seirin instantly went over to Kagami's side, not noticing that certain phantom player vanished as soon as the ball was thrown against the taller player.

o o o

Kuroko sped out of the gym. He quickly found his way out, noticing that the place was not as big as he expected. Meandering through people and objects, Kuroko sprinted as fast as he could, away from the strange place that he had just been into. He sucked in some air as he ran, realizing that he was already sore when he just started to run. But, immediately, he was quick to remember that he had been in that court, playing some basketball with some strangers. His eyes widened when he recalled that tall red-haired man calling him by his name. He did not know that person, so how on earth did he get acquainted with him? Kuroko shook his head. Running and thinking at the same time tasked his body more than it could help him. The teal-haired male decided that he was already far enough. He bent down, using his knees to support his hands, as he panted so hard that he felt all traces of oxygen left his lungs.

Kuroko looked by the sides of his eyes, scanning his surroundings. Clearly, he was not supposed to be there. He was supposed to be training for basketball. Well, he realized he played basketball back at that gym, but it was not the gym he was supposed to be in. Confusion chanted in his head again, the sense of unfamiliarity making his system shot up some adrenaline into his body. Anxiety and nervousness weren't really a good combination at all, since it cut his reasoning down to half. Just like what happened back at the gym. He was sorry that he used the ball to stop that man. It was an impulse, not a choice. But he was still, sorry, nonetheless.

Not Teikō, he said in his mind, concluding that the place was not the middle school he attended at. Few students now littered the school; perhaps it was already dismissal and club activities remained. Kuroko sent worried glances everywhere, the strangeness overcoming his senses. What am I doing here? He asked himself. Although his remained impassive, Kuroko could not deny the brimming unease in his chest. Who are those people? Why am I playing with them?

The questions remained in his head. But an idea quickly flashed in his mind: he needed to find the Generation of Miracles, his teammates. For sure, with their help, he'd know what was happening right now.

Kuroko Tetsuya wondered. He was a regular in Teikō Middle School, but he was just playing with some strangers back at that gym, and, yet, he did not know why.

- End of Prelude -

Oh yeah, another trial fic. Let's see how this one goes as well.

Confused? You should be... *smirk*

Thanks for reading!

Edited: 01/16/2013 - messed up with some formatting. Fixed. :D