Disclaimer: I do not own anything from Kuroko no Basket.
Summary: When Tetsuya first arrives at Seirin, it's the start of something he's never had, and for the life of him, he can see no end.
Author's Notes: A series of word prompts; some in order, some not.
No idea where I'm going with this; they're really just some drabbles that pop into mind now and then. It's basically a pit stop for all my KnB muses.
"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to."
"I don't much care where-"
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go."
"-so long as I get somewhere."
"Oh, you're sure to do that, if you only walk long enough."
~ Alice and the Cheshire Cat, Alice in Wonderland
On his first day at Seirin High, Tetsuya drifts in through the school gates, slips between the throng of milling, chattering students all huddled together in excited groups, fills in an application form for the school's basketball club, and then heads to class.
The teacher misses him at roll call (he expects it; he tells her he's here; she automatically dislikes him for playing a prank), he sits on the side in group discussion, and no one approaches him and asks to be friends, either already part of their own circles or simply not noticing him and approaching the handful of other new students instead.
Tetsuya doesn't mind. He's used to it.
Later, after basketball practice, Tetsuya leaves with the knowledge that his new coach is disappointed in him, and while that fact stings a little, he ignores it because this is also something he is used to. He will prove his worth eventually.
When Taiga first meets Kuroko properly in the fast-food restaurant (because he accidentally sits at an already occupied table and doesn't even notice the guy until he's halfway through a burger), the first thing that comes to mind is that Kuroko is creepy.
It isn't just because the guy is ridiculously invisible to a degree that Taiga didn't think was possible, though that certainly contributes to it. No, it's more the fact that Taiga's never met anyone with a poker face like Kuroko's, blank and empty and completely void of emotion.
But he doesn't say anything, and they end up playing a one-on-one, and he's so disgusted by the end of it that he skips right on to outright yelling at Kuroko. How could anyone be this weak in basketball?
(Throughout it all though, Kuroko remains infuriatingly expressionless. He isn't hurt or angry or even embarrassed. He calls himself a shadow instead. That just ups the creepy factor.)
Taiga eats his words later when Kuroko helps them win the game against their senpai, and privately, he wonders how Kuroko, for all his misdirection, can call himself just a shadow when his passes shine that much on the court.
That's a somewhat creepy thought though, not to mention revoltingly poetic, so Taiga keeps it to himself.
And if Kuroko wants to be the shadow to his light, then so be it. A smile flickers at the corners of his mouth when Taiga acknowledges this, one that suddenly makes Kuroko infinitely less creepy, so he's happy enough to go along with it.
Besides, invisible or not, Taiga's one hundred percent certain that they'll both be noticed on the court when they go on to flatten the rest of the Generation of Miracles.
"Give us Kurokocchi."
Before he actually met them, the Generation of Miracles simply ranked as opponents and prodigal players in Junpei's mind. They weren't weak by any means but they weren't anything too far out of reach either.
And then Kuroko drops into their laps and Junpei is equal parts impressed and uneasy. Impressed because damn, Kuroko can pass like no one else, but also uneasy, because despite the utter impassivity, there's something brittle in Kuroko's eyes that makes Junpei think of cracked glass gone too long unfixed (if that makes any sense).
He doesn't say anything though, mostly because he doesn't really know Kuroko yet at this point, or any of the other first-years for that matter, but he also figures that being a part of Seirin might help because Kuroko always looks a little happier when he's on the court and playing with them.
But after meeting Kuroko, Junpei wonders if the rest of the Generation of Miracles are like him, on the socially-awkward side, somewhat quirky, but still surprisingly likeable.
Or at least Kise Ryouta isn't, all arrogance wrapped in a childish facade, and wearing the sort of unreliable confidence born from never losing.
Junpei could've looked past all that though if the blond didn't try to poach from their team. Even worse is the mix of complicated emotions that flickers through Kuroko's eyes when he spots Kise, and Junpei just knows that the dynamics between the Generation of Miracles were nowhere near as flawless as the rumours said.
(However, Junpei can inwardly admit to feeling smug relief when Kuroko turns Kise down point-blank. After all, compared to Kaijou, Seirin doesn't have the best reputation.)
Kuroko chose Seirin over all those other highly-regarded schools out there though, and that only makes Junpei more pleased.
So, understandably, his protective side spikes with irritation when Kise barges into the middle of their practice (bringing a gaggle of girls with him to boot) and attempts to coax Kuroko to Kaijou. That just instantly moves Kise from opponent to enemy. Kuroko's new and all but he's Seirin's now and Junpei's the captain and he isn't going to let some snot-nosed brat think he can go around flinging invitations at one of Junpei's teammates whenever he likes.
Kuroko and Kagami make Kise pay for it later in the practice match, but from that point on, Junpei draws the line between Kuroko (theirs) and the rest of the Generation of Miracles (enemies to be taken down one at a time, which was their plan all along anyway; this just gives them more incentive).
After all, if Kise is the weakest of the lot and a single loss from a practice match can make him cry, then Junpei really can't see the rest of the Generation of Miracles being any better.
(He wonders how on earth Kuroko managed to deal with them for three years.)
Rinnosuke is silent by nature and all his teammates have more or less accepted it. He can get his point across most of the time without ever having to say a word, and if need be, Koganei can translate for him.
His new kouhai range from odd to eccentric, no normal between the five of them at all, and Rinnosuke knows right away that they'll fit right in.
He zeroes in on the quietest one though, and he picks up the loneliness behind the composed face easily enough. He's got enough siblings who sometimes have fits of petulance to have learned how to be observant when it comes to what people aren't saying.
So he does his best to make Kuroko feel welcome, at first simply passing water bottles to him or keeping an extra attentive eye on him (Kuroko was hard to keep track of), and then, later, always careful with the number of bentos when he makes lunches for his teammates because Kuroko always seems somewhat taken aback at being remembered and included (which makes Rinnosuke wonder about the kind of life he had before coming to Seirin).
It doesn't really surprise Rinnosuke when he goes to school one day, walks into the gym ready for practice, and automatically places a hand on Kuroko's head and offers a small smile as he passes, just like he does with his own siblings at home. The action comes as easy as breathing, and the surprise on Kuroko's face just makes Rinnosuke's smile widen imperceptibly. The returning tentative smile – along with the typical polite good-morning – he receives instead of blank eyes and deadpan features is the icing on the cake.
Tetsuya is learning.
He's learning that the captain expects him to do his best in every practice but overdoing it will get him yelled at.
He's learning that despite Kagami getting stronger and stronger by the day and could probably blow past all of their senpai, Hyuuga, Kiyoshi, Izuki, and even Mitobe are all fully capable of – and fully willing to – reining Kagami back if he goes too far. (This comes as a heart-stopping relief for Kuroko.)
He's learning that lunches are to be spent on the rooftop with his team – friends – and he can no longer get away with drinking only a vanilla milkshake with Coach and Mitobe-senpai hovering over his shoulders.
He's learning that he isn't expected to stay in the shadows, that he's allowed to celebrate just as much as his teammates when they've struggled over another mountain and won another game.
He's learning that his team won't let him not celebrate.
And he's learning that team actually means team in Seirin, and not several individuals playing on the same side but still playing alone.
Tetsuya is learning, and he secretly thinks that he can never repay Seirin for everything they've taught him (if only because they'll never let him repay them anyway).
Please leave a review on your way out.
This probably won't be regularly updated (not that my other fics are all that regularly updated eitherT_T) but this one won't be at the top of the list when I'm picking a fic to muddle through. Like I said, it'll just be a pit stop to dump my KnB drabbles in.