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Warning: Female Kuroko, spoilers. A ticket to an excruciatingly slow, awkward but fluffy ride.
Step I : あなたに出会った
– Meeting You –
– First Glance –
It was by Chance
A girl with light blue waist-length hair walked up a set of staircase with a recyclable plastic bag stuffed with a couple of sandwiches and a bottle of water. It was lunchtime at Teiko Junior High School. The girl was on her way to her favorite spot, a place where she could enjoy the view of the city from above. She walked past chattering students, her attention split alternated between her surroundings and the book in her hand. A male clique whizzed down toward her, forcing her to press her body against the wall to avoid the impact. None of the obnoxious males bothered to turn and apologize. She could not blame them though.
She had a very weak presence after all.
Swaths of high window glasses transmitted patches of sunlight into the corridor, drawing skewed rectangular reflections on unblemished floor tiles. Her unwavering steps climbed another set of staircase, side-stepping incoming breathing beings hurdles on her way up until she finally faced a single door. Her pale fingers wrenched the door open to rooftop.
Glaring sunlight seeped into her clear sky blue eyes, causing a momentary wince at the brightness. Slight warmth from the surface prickled her thighs as she sat down on the hard surface against the wall. She laid her book on the floor then dived for her sandwiches. Plump pink lips nipped at the tip of the triangular bread, teeth grazing its ham and fresh cucumber. She savored the flavor in small bites, occasionally drinking her water until she finished both sandwiches.
The girl reached for her abandoned book she received from fellow Library Committee's member and flipped to the page a bookmark was tucked in. The book was a popular romance novel, not particularly her preference. It gushed about first love, bitter sweet approach on the subject and the infamous happy ending. She dozed off a few times while reading walls of text.
It was boring.
Complex observation of human behaviors was within her expectation since the title was: Our Wordless Exchange. She thought it would display thorough depiction from the leading characters' visions of their surroundings, how a set of glances could send points across, and definitely not the repetitive mushy inner debates the characters went through. If there were things she picked up from the novel, it would be the six phases, first to sixth glances.
Would it happen in real life?
Considering she had a far-fetched mindset, it had a fair chance to occur in her opinion.
Who would she meet?
She did not have the answer to that question. It could be anyone. It could also be no one.
The girl came to the last line of the novel with an audible sigh to celebrate the end of the story. Lunch break was almost over. She collected her stuff and trudged down the same path she took earlier. Tips of her fingers danced along the railings in rhythm with her steps.
That was when she saw his eyes.
Blazing crimsons clashed with pools of soothing blue for a split second. Neither stopped their steps nor did they keep the eye-contact. As she descended, he kept ascending until his regal figure rounded a corner and disappeared from sight.
That was the first time a person met her eyes at first glance.
– Second Glance –
"Let's go to the gymnasium! Our school has a practice game today!"
Similar excited murmurs could be heard from her classmates, male and female alike. The girl tidied up her desk, putting her books into her dark blue bag. From what she gathered, Teiko had a long history in sports, exceptionally so in basketball. She recalled a random basketball match she watched the night before. To her surprise, it had been an interesting one. The intensity, the flip-flopping game flow and fluid movements drew her in like moths to a flame. Idly, she entertained the urge to watch a live match.
After a five-minute walk from her class, the gymnasium was in her vicinity. Not surprising, throngs of students were elbowing their ways to her destination.
The girl walked to the entrance, took a tentative step into the turbulent weaves of students and soon she was swept away by waves of pushes. It was not a pleasant experience. But since it delivered her to the foremost line of students, she had no complaint. Clutching her bag to her side, she scanned the spacious gymnasium. There were quite a number of players scattered on the courts, each donning Teiko-emblazoned jersey with a proud smile.
Her face betrayed no emotion, a contrast to her elated surroundings.
"Wow, look at them!" a boy piped up from her left.
"Aren't they the newly-appointed freshmen?" Another voice joined in. "I heard even the seniors admitted their prowess."
Her attention swiveled to the direction the boy was looking at. A group of players was finishing their warming-ups. One of them had his robust back facing her, a towel draped over his hair. His number four jersey glistened with sweat. He was noticeably shorter than the others.
Her object of focus turned to regard the crowd with unreadable expression.
Those eyes, regal posture, and distinctive aura around him screamed authority. It was the person she encountered earlier. She averted her eyes to a tanned male beside him, self-consciously aware of her rudeness for staring at a complete stranger. The girl assessed the taller male for a moment. He seemed like a friendly guy with his cheerful demeanor, a total opposite from a certain number four player.
Players began to assemble at the center of the court in unison. The long-awaited game started with a shrill blow of whistle. Spectators from both supportive and offensive teams cheered with zeal.
"That guy with red hair, isn't he a freshman? Why is he wearing number four jersey for captain?" a brunette behind her pondered aloud.
"It's because he is the current captain!" a girl from her right supplied.
She imbibed the small piece of information, eyes glued to the fierce showdown on the court. The tanned male dunked in the first basket with a wide smile, bursting yells from the crowd.
The ball bounced off the surface. A standby opposing point guard shot the ball with full force, attempting for a fast break. Their power forward had begun rushing to the other side on the first bounce and caught the ball in time.
"You're not getting away!" the scorer's long legs closed the distance rapidly.
"Nice effort but," sapphire eyes glinted with joy, "it's not that easy." He slapped the ball off the equally tall power forward's hold.
"Damn!" the player cursed darkly.
The girl watched the ongoing match with rapt attention. Excitement coursed through her body though her face was still as expressionless as ever.
"We're taking one back!" the opposition's captain instructed. He lunged to Teiko's territory. Slanted eyes darted to their shooting guard before passing over the ball.
"Don't you dare look down on us, first-years!" The shooting guard quickly switched to his shooting stance after getting hold of the ball.
Someone tapped the ball away from his grasp. "Wha–!?" He looked down to find a blur of red ran pass his right side with ease.
"Defense!" the captain howled frantically. Two players set up a defensive combo immediately.
"Out of my way," a flat voice commanded, his long fingers never stopped dribbling the ball. He shifted the ball to his left hand and pivoted on his right ankle to plough forward.
"Why you–!" a much taller player blocked his peripheral. His height towered over the shorter male, much to the number four's irritation.
"I said, out of my way." Bending down, he applied more force to his fingertips, angled the ball slightly to the right and bounced it off the floor. His body slipped under the big center player's left arm as the ball provided a distraction. His arm stretched out for the ball and leaped to score another basket for Teiko, earning another explosive yell from thrilled spectators. His scarlet-streaked white sneakers landed back on the polished floor with a miniscule thump.
But that was not what intrigued her. It was the sidelong glance he sent her as he walked to his marked victim.
One brief exchange…
Two silent seconds…
And his eyes diverted back to the game.
That was the second time their gaze locked.
Was it really by chance?
– Third Glance –
It could not be a Coincidence
The match was awesome. Teiko practically annihilated the opposing team with the score of 81-35. She did not stay long after the match was over since there was hardly anything interesting left to observe. She admitted the regulars were an interesting bunch. But it was not wise to stay and ogle at them.
Not if that number four were aware of my presence.
Thinking of him, she wondered how he could spot her among the crowd. Her weak presence should have prevented him from detecting her. Perhaps he identified her when he was scanning the crowd before the game started? Still, that did not explain the sidelong glance…
"Yesterday's match was unbelievable! I never knew our school had such a good team!" a nearby bespectacled boy said to his companions.
"Of course they're good! They're our regulars!"
"Heh…" another boy drawled. "Didn't they usually use second and third stings for those games?"
A girl drilled her forefinger into the boy's upper arm. "Who cares about that, as long as we get to see them play then it's all good." She sighed dreamily. "Aomine Daiki's so cool… I could watch him play all day long…"
"Aomine?" the boy furrowed his brows. "Ah! The tanned one? He's amazing!"
The blunette stared at her classmates. They were busy discussing the matter without realizing she was situated at their back.
"I think jersey number four was amazing," she dropped her two cents, shocking her classmates out of their shells.
"Woahhh! Where did you come from?!"
She eyed her classmates accordingly. "I have been here for a while."
"You could've at least said something if you'd been here!" her female classmate chastised.
"Kuroko, why did you say that number four was amazing?" the glasses boy asked.
She gave them a blank look. "He controlled the game well with his swift ball-handlings and passes. His play style was calm and carefully designed to draw the best out of his teammates without overexerting himself throughout the game."
Like an emperor with pawns to toy with…
Her classmates blinked dumbly at the explanation. "I didn't know you're a basketball junkie, Kuroko…"
Kuroko blinked back owlishly at her wavy-haired female classmate. "I am not a basketball junkie. That was simply a portion of my observation."
Her reply rendered four of her classmates speechless for a few seconds.
"A-Anyway, that number four's their captain. It's a given he's able to control the game flow."
Kuroko vocalized her agreement with a single "yes," ending the group's conversation efficiently as their teacher entered the class.
She could feel drowsiness lulling her to deep slumber. She almost regretted her decision to stay up late to finish reading a collection of poems. Her initial plan had been to pay the library a visit after class yesterday. The basketball match did a good job trashing her plan out the window. Additionally, it was impossible to visit the library today because she had to restock her dwindling groceries.
Well, there is always tomorrow…
"That's all for today. Prepare yourselves for pop quizzes."
The class groaned miserably at their Math teacher's warning. Not only did he faithfully give out tons of homework but also love to surprise students with advanced problems, effectively ushering the poor students to cram more than necessary.
Kuroko bid her fellow classmates goodbye and walked out the class. As she went down to first floor, she checked her shopping list to make sure she did not miss anything important. She was getting used to doing this ever since her parents were tasked to go on extensive business trips, leaving her to tend to herself most of the time.
Kuroko's steps stopped at her locker. Faintly, she could hear voices ringing louder as steady thumps of shoes headed her way. Her corner of eyes caught a sight of three tall males and a… average-height male.
… Isn't he the one from yesterday?
"Akashi, are you sure about taking in Haizaki?" the green-haired boy directed his question to the person in front of him.
"I make no mistake, Midorima. We have a vacant position." Akashi stated matter-of-factly, hauling his sneakers out of his locker.
"But that attitude of his…"
"When that time comes," Akashi interrupted, "I will deal with him personally. It would be a waste to let go of someone with such a skill."
Midorima found no valid point to counter his captain's perception. As long as Haizaki behaved himself, there should be no problem. It would leave a nasty remark on their team if that delinquent went overboard. "Fine. We'll see how long he'll last then."
Kuroko inconspicuously eavesdropped the small conversation. In her defense, it was totally unintentional. She bent down to retrieve her indoor shoes. Strands of straight light blue hair parted at the nape of her neck, revealing a smooth column of pale skin to a certain red-haired captain who had been very much aware of her presence from the beginning.
"Akashi?" Midorima called out to the static point guard.
Kuroko straightened up, spontaneously whipping her head to the boys' direction out of curiosity.
Captivating crimsons trailed to her blue-hued orbs, ensnaring her whole being.
One surprised second…
Two enraptured souls…
Three enchanted a heart-skip…
This… could not be a coincidence…
Author's OTL Note: Continue? :O