Note 1: This is will be the last story I will be publishing under this pen-name. I'm planning to change it soon, and for a good reason.
Note 2: The title of this story comes from the character song of the same title sung by Aoi Shouta (as Minazuki Rui) for the Tsuki-uta series.
Disclaimer: I don't own Kuroko no Basket and its franchise.
Thirty years-old and single once again, Kuroko Tetsuna has had enough. Everyone around her knows that she has bad luck with men and now, six ruined relationships later, she decides it's time to give up hope.
Her first was her childhood friend Ogiwara Shigehiro, whom she confessed to early in her second year of middle school. It ended slightly less than three years later, when they realized that they were better off as friends than lovers, since the relationship would have gotten nowhere if they had continued. The man was now married to his girlfriend from university and were expecting their first child in a few months time.
After that came Akashi Seijuurou, who was the captain of the opponent basketball team that her high school was playing against. She was only the manager of the team, but it seemed that she had caught his attention. He had boldly confessed to her after the Winter Cup of her second year… attaining victory against her team, of course. This relationship ended rather quickly, in two months actually, when his father caught wind of their relationship. The head of the Akashi conglomerate was certainly not pleased when he heard that his son was associating with commoners and forced the couple apart. She hasn't heard from him ever since.
She didn't have another boyfriend until the year after that, when her classmate and son of a baker Murasakibara Atsushi confessed to her after their graduation ceremony. Their relationship went well… until they realized that they could not get along at all. They went their separate ways after the fifth date (she was surprised it even lasted that long). He is now working at his parents' bakery and bakes delicious cakes and treats everyday. She still relies on him when she needs to throw birthday parties for the children at the kindergarten where she now works.
After she entered university, she got herself a part-time job as a student journalist, which kept her busy. It was also through this job that she met her next partner, Kise Ryouta. She met the blonde model while covering a small event for her tabloid, where he approached her in a manner that resembled a lost puppy. They went out for almost six years (in secret of course), and she had to admit that she had been the happiest with him. However, those happy days had to come to an end, which it did when she learned that he was involved in a large scandal: he was having a relationship with one of Japan's most famous actresses. Fueled by the anger of his betrayal and disloyalty, she broke up with him, but not before personally writing the article detailing his rise to shame. Since then, she avoided all contact with him, even going as far as quitting her ideal job as a journalist to get away from him. Rumour has it that he fled overseas, but it's any of her concern.
In her attempt to forget about her previous love, she got involved with Midorima Shintarou, a young doctor who worked at a clinic near the kindergarten. Even though she was quite fond of him, this relationship didn't even make it past the second date; especially after how he kept on going on and on about their horoscopes and blood types and all that being incompatible and such. What the hell. Safe to say, this doctor was dumbfounded when she had walked out on their dinner date after having a cup of ice water splashed onto his face. Who could blame her, when he kept implying the entire time that they weren't meant to be together?
As of this moment, her last relationship was with Aomine Daiki, a professional basketball player and her former classmate from middle school. And as always, things started out well. However, their relationship became strained as time passed. It hurt, a lot, when she realized that he was getting tired of her. She did her best to kept it going, but her efforts were futile. She tried to hold onto him, hoping that he would change for the better, but no matter what she did or tried, nothing worked.
And here she is now, walking alone along a quiet street, just minutes after he had dumped her.
The sky above was dark, with clouds ao thick and heavy, it looked like it could explode at anytime, which it did. Large droplets of water started to fall, going drip, drop, drip, drop onto the concrete path.
People around started to run for cover or take out their umbrellas, but not her. She continued down the lane, even as the rain started to get heavier. Nearing the corner that leads to the main street, she stopped and tilted her head upwards to look at the grey skies above.
Now that she recalls, it was always on days like these that things happened. The time she ended her relationship with Shige-kun, and when she broke up with Akashi-kun, had her biggest argument with Murasakibara-kun, caught Ryouta-kun in bed with that woman, walked out on Midorima-kun… and now dumped by Daiki-kun.
Nothing good ever happens on rainy days like this. Yet it is on days like this that makes her feel so nostalgic. The rain always makes her recall those good times… no matter how long or short they are. But when the rain stops, they would disappear, leaving her only the bad, the sad and the painful memories.
"Wish it won't stop…" she muttered to herself, ignoring the feeling of her soaked clothes clinging onto her skin.
Perhaps that is why she also loves the month of June the most. The month was known for its plentiful bouts of rainfall, and she would spend her off days huddled on her favourite chair by the window watching the rain fall.
"Oi! What are you doing?!"
She heard a deep voice yell from a distance, and she turned her head towards the direction of the call.
Standing under the awning of a café she never noticed was there till now, was a man with dark red hair and a tanned complexion who had an apron donned over his clothes. His brows were… forked and furrowed, but rather than being angry like she expected, he appeared worried more than anything else. And he was looking straight at her.
She returned his stare with her own, questioning both his intentions and the reason for his yell.
Fortunately, he seemed to get the message.
"Ahh!" He let out a heavy, exasperated sigh and marched towards her, grabbing her by the arm. "Come with me!"
She had been planning on resisting, but she had no reason to. She felt no ill will coming from this stranger, and she let him drag her towards the café, the very same one which he emerged from.
The wooden door was slammed open, and the bell attached to it gave a sharp jingle.
A young man with dark hair, dressed in a waiter's attire, turned his head to the sound. "Taiga, the least you can do is open the door gently— who's this?"
"She was standing in the storm, and got all soaked. Couldn't leave her out there to catch pneumonia, so I brought her in. Is Alex around?"
"If you're looking for her, she's in the backroom. Hold on a minute while I'll go grab a towel."
The waiter disappeared for a short while and emerged with a large bath towel. The red-haired man placed it around her shoulders and wrapped it around her.
"Take a seat over there in the corner where it's warm. I'll make something warm for you."
In reply to this she could only nod, apparently still not having a grasp of her current situation. She looked around the cafe, noting its homely feel and simple interior. It was then she also noticed that it was empty.
"Here," The waiter appeared to her, this time a stack of clothes in hand. "Here's a change of clothes from the owner. Her house is right behind this cafe, so you can wear these while we put your wet ones through the dryer."
"… Thank you."
Tetsuna had to admit that she was a little baffled. Why were these people being so nice to her? But she wasn't one to refuse kindness that is offered to her, so she would accept it and return the favour later.
The waiter ushered her into the changing room, where she donned the loose T-shirt and oversized sweatpants after drying off. After that she was brought back to the cafe, where she was given a blanket to keep warm.
The red-haired man approached from the counter just as she snuggled up, a large mug in hand.
"Drink this," he offered it to her, "It'll warm you up."
She thanked him, and took the ceramic mug in both hands. Already she could feel the heat of the drink warming up her cold hands. She peered at its contents, and was a little surprised to see that it was milk. What was more surprising was that when she sipped it, it tasted of…
"Vanilla?" Her favourite.
She looked up, still sipping the warm beverage, to see the red-haired man sitting opposite her, with his chin propped on one hand. He caught her glance, and responded with the raise of his eyebrows.
"How is it?"
"Oh? That's good, then."
Somehow… the atmosphere was getting a little awkward. Especially when it appears that he looks like the kind of person doesn't seem to talk much. Or maybe he was feeling as awkward as she was about this.
As much as she wanted to say something, she didn't know what exactly to say. But before she could find those words, he spoke.
"That's my name. Kagami Taiga. What's yours?"
"Kuroko. Kuroko Tetsuna."
"That's a nice name."
"Are you a university student?"
"No, I'm working. As a kindergarten teacher."
"Really? Wait. How old are you exactly?"
"You do know that you shouldn't ask a woman her age, do you?" She sighed. "I just turned thirty in January."
"S-Seriously? So you're about the same age as me?"
"Why do you seem so surprised?"
"I thought you were a lot younger…" He admitted sheepishly, scratching the side of his head. "But why were you standing out there in the rain? I mean, you don't have to tell me if you're uncomfortable, but I'm just a little curious to know. Did you get dumped by a guy or something?"
"What if I was?"
"You seem to use that word quite often."
"But I didn't think I was right. I was just making a random guess."
"I can tell."
The two continued their conversation for a while, since the rain was still pouring outside and the café was still empty. Somewhere along, the waiter, whose name she learnt was Himuro Tatsuya, came by to return her clothes which were now dry. The owner of the café, Alexandra "Alex" Garcia, also came in to join in their little chat, though she disappeared after a few minutes.
It was strange, she thought. She had only met this man… Kagami-kun earlier this day, but yet she felt as if she had known him for a long, long time.
How long has it been since she felt so much at ease just by talking to someone? Even she couldn't remember.
And after what seemed like a long time, the rain finally stopped.
"I should be going."
After changing back to her clothes, she gave her newly made acquaintance her thanks.
"Thank you so much for everything." She gave him a bow after he had sent her off at the door. "I will be sure to return the favour soon."
"There's no need for you to do so. But if you insist…" He paused for a moment, but he did not make eye contact with her the entire time he spoke. "Why not visit here sometime again? This time, I'll make something delicious for you."
At his shy invitation, she could not help but to giggle. "Sure, no problem at all."
"Really?" His eyes lit up. "You'll come again?"
"Of course. I don't see why I shouldn't, plus I think I'm starting to like this place." It wasn't a lie; she loved warm and homely places like that. "I'll drop by again when I have some time."
"Well then, I'll be going."
"Have a safe trip back! See you again!"
And as she walked away, from that cafe in the corner of the street, she had a smile on her face.
Perhaps she could give herself just one more chance.
And this time, she will be sure to find her happiness.