The story began underneath the blue sky, inside a very quiet library within Teikou Middle School.
Two pair of eyes clashed with one another with an unspoken intensity, a glance they thought they made when the other weren't looking had somehow escalated into a full-blown stare down between the shadow and the captain of the basketball club.
Kuroko had half of his face hidden under a classic romance-tragedy book he had been reading for the past week, right after the odd chance-encounters with the student council president became a daily occurrences. Always, from Monday to Friday right after school and before practice, Kuroko Tetsuya and Akashi Seijuurou would be sitting face to face on the desk just next to the window.
It had been Kuroko's favorite place to read, and as a member of the library committee, he got to keep the cozy area near the window. He had been sitting here ever since he still had the luxury of coming late to third-string practice late without anyone noticing, but Akashi-kun...
Now that he was in the first-string, Kuroko couldn't afford coming late to practice anymore. There was only an occurrence when he got swept away by a particularly well-written heartbreaking scene in the Tales of Hikaru Genji and came late for practice by a few minutes, Akashi-kun had asked him exactly where did he spend his time before he was supposed to come to practice.
Of course, Kuroko answered him with full honesty. Only a fool would lie to Akashi-kun, after all. But that didn't mean he expected Akashi-kun to sit on his favorite seat the day after his tardiness.
Naturally, the first question that came out of his mouth had been a simple- almost idiotic "What are you doing here, Akashi-kun?" which the redheaded captain ignored so eloquently with only a wave of his hand.
And that was how the situation came to this moment.
Blazing crimson peered on him relentlessly, almost like a hawk staring at its prey. Kuroko blinked once before subtly breaking off their eye contact and returned to his book.
There was a sigh, a sigh coming from the captain of the Generation of Miracles. And honestly, it surprised Kuroko more than he thought it would.
"I don't understand you, Kuroko." Akashi-kun spoke. He leaned back to his seat and crossed his arms. His crimson eyes still on Kuroko's face, curiosity and a hint of frustration lacing his normally calm and calculating expression. "Pardon me?" Kuroko chimed back immediately.
"I mean, I don't understand how to make you understand the reason why I'm doing this."
"I thought the reason why Akashi-kun frequents this place now is to make sure that I am never late to practice again."
Akashi-kun raised an eyebrow in silent question before shaking his head to himself. "This approach won't do, huh?" He murmured.
Kuroko sat still on his seat, trying to comprehend just what in the world was going on with the ever-mysterious Akashi-kun. He wasn't usually so vibrant with his facial expressions, after all.
"I'm not doing this so you won't ever be late to practice again, although that was bonus factor." Kuroko's eyes narrowed slightly at confusion, but his expression remained unchanged. "What I'm saying is I'm doing this for personal reasons, not for the basketball team."
But it seemed that Akashi had lost his patience with their conversation. The redheaded captain stood up, pulled the phantom to a quick kiss before pulling away and straightened his crooked tie. "I hope you understand what I mean now, Kuroko. Now come, it's time for practice."
Akashi-kun didn't wait for him to follow, so Kuroko stood there shell-shocked from their earlier exchange.
There were no words exchanged but somehow, Kuroko understood that he was now something more than just friends with his captain.
And he was undoubtedly happy about it.
The days flew like flies as Kuroko spent his days training for the upcoming inter-Middle, where he would finally meet his dearest Ogiwara-kun for the first time since he moved away. School had gotten somehow lax thanks to the days he spent reading and revising in the library before practice.
And even now, he was studying for a history quiz tomorrow along with writing his essay for the classic literature assignment. His eyes were focused on the paper underneath him while his hand absently tightened its hold on a set of fingers. Akashi-kun perked up from his own student council work and tilted his head slightly. "Tetsuya?" Akashi-kun's voice was low, lower than its usual tone and still laced with small hesitation. As if he was experimenting with the phantom's first name. Kuroko found it endearing.
"What is it, Tetsuya?" He asked, sounding much more firm this time. But it was laced with affection and lingering warmth. Kuroko shook his head and smiled the first real smile he had shown to anyone outside of his family. "Nothing, Akashi-kun."
As the intensive training started, there was barely any time for their usual escapades in the library. So Akashi-kun took the matter to his own hands and started to show something more between them during the basketball practice.
Midorima-kun had been the first one to notice, of course, but he only straightened his glasses and said that it was none of his business. Then he was followed by Murasakibara-kun, who blatantly said that he didn't care and then Momoi-san, who only smiled kindly at their gestures of affection.
Starting from the matching towels, sharing a water bottle, different training regime that somehow required them to be alone, Akashi spared no expense to let himself be with the phantom sixth man in all times.
There were times when Akashi had proposed a matching wristband, thus replacing the black one he had, but Kuroko refused and said that it was his lucky charm.
When Aomine-kun started to play hooky on the practices, Kuroko had been the first one to try and go look for him, even disregarding Akashi-kun's stern instructions to just continue on the practice. But the redheaded captain eventually let Kuroko go and try to find him, despite the unusually agitated expression on Akashi-kun's face.
Kuroko didn't find him, though, so he returned to practice anyways.
After the phone call with Ogiwara-kun, Kuroko somehow managed to find Aomine-kun and convince him to return to practice. The tealhead was overjoyed by Aomine-kun's newly-regained enthusiasm, though. So he followed the practice with much vigor.
Even when he collapsed, Akashi-kun didn't help him up. But that's alright, he knew that he had to go through this if he wanted to play against Ogiwara-kun with everyone.
After the match with Kamizaki Middle school, Aomine-kun had... changed.
No longer bumping fists, no longer laughing, no longer having fun... and the fact that Kuroko might have lost his partner was also coupled by the fact that Ogiwara-kun's team had lost against Kamata West Middle school.
Kuroko didn't cry, didn't even shed a tear. He just stood, shell-shocked as Ogiwara-kun apologized again and again for not being able to fulfill their promise. He asked his childhood friend to not cry before hanging up his phone and sat down, hugging his knees as he tried to hold back his tears.
Suddenly, he could feel warm arms enveloping him on a gentle embrace. Kuroko didn't need to look up to know that it was Akashi-kun who comforted him.
During the final with Kamata West middle school, Kuroko got to play with Aomine-kun again.
Even if it was only a moment, it was a truly happy moment for all the members of the Generation of Miracles. It had been the last victory they achieved with any kind of trouble at all...
And it was also the last moment before everything went downhill.
It had been one of their long-awaited 'alone time' in the library when the news of Coach Shirogane's collapse reached both of them.
Of course, Kuroko and Akashi both went to the sudden meeting all the regulars had. And of course they had been there when Coach Sanada said that he would be the new head coach. And they were there when they sensed that something was going to be really wrong in their team... but none of them said anything, unsure of what to say.
When Aomine-kun stormed out from the practice, Akashi-kun had been the one to order Kuroko to follow him.
Charging relentlessly through the rain, Kuroko went to each and every place he knew Aomine-kun liked to spend his time at. And finally, he found him under the bridge just by the river.
As expected, Aomine-kun was soaked through and through. And even though Kuroko hadn't say anything yet, he greeted him with a simple "Tetsu, huh?".
Kuroko nodded, even when Aomine-kun wasn't facing him. "Why aren't you in at practice?" He asked, although Kuroko knew that he really didn't care about it. "I came after receiving permission from Akashi-kun." The pitter-patter sound of rain filled their silence before Kuroko took a deep breath and asked Aomine-kun to return to practice.
"Why should I practice? Why, when I'll win matches even if I don't want to?" Kuroko's heart pounded louder and louder, as if Aomine-kun's words were made of sharp led. "Should I play at full strength like you told me to? Just so I can thoroughly crush my opponents who have lost their will to fight?" Kuroko exhaled before trying to his best to answer his best friend. "I understand," he really did. After all, he'd seen people Aomine-kun had defeated.
"Understand? Ha!" Aomine-kun's voice was shaking in despair. "What could you possible understand?!" Aomine-kun demanded harshly. "Tell me, what can a guy like you, who can't do anything by himself understand?!" Kuroko's eyes widened, clearly caught off guard that Aomine-kun would even say such a thing.
"You know, I wish I could have been born like you, Tetsu. I could've had much more goal in my life." Kuroko bit his lower lip before muttering his words loud enough for them to hear. "I'm also envious... of Aomine-kun and the others..."
"I want to try dunking, I want to make three-pointers, I want to dribble past opponents... but it's no use lamenting over thing I can't do! So I'm putting all I have into my passes-!"
"Passes? To who?"
Kuroko could feel his own heart crumbling down as he heard Aomine-kun spelling out, brutally and honestly about how nobody needed his passes anymore. Especially Aomine-kun, because, ever since their match against Kamata West Middle school, Aomine-kun hadn't received any passes from him.
"Even though it was only a little while ago, it feels like it's been so long..."
No, no, please, no...
"I don't even remember... how to receive your passes anymore."
Nice pass, Tetsu!
There's no such thing as a useless player in a team!
"Kuroko, you're the shadow to Aomine's light. My phantom sixth man."
"Aomine-kun!" Kuroko screamed as he saw his friend walking away. "Aomine-kun!" But his voice cracked in the middle as he screamed and screamed.
He... he wanted to see Akashi-kun. He wanted to hear that it wasn't true, that he was needed by the team. He'd be find as soon as he found Akashi-kun...
The gym was dark already when Kuroko entered.
His steps were wobbled and somehow unsure. He was drenched from head to toe and frankly, his head was pounding really hard. When he saw someone as tall as himself in the dark, Kuroko wasted no time to ran and hug him from behind.
"Akashi-kun..." he called tiredly, basking in the warmth that was his captain. "You are still here? The others have gone to change quite some time ago." Kuroko buried his face on the captain's t-shirt, wanting to hide his tears. "Dry yourself, it will be troublesome if you catch a cold." Kuroko reluctantly let go of his lover as he was handed a white towel.
As he dried himself, Akashi-kun's voice pierced through the silence with absolute certainty. "Judging from your expression, it didn't work, yes?" A simple nod. "That's right..."
"I see..." Kuroko didn't move, his mind taking him back to the conversation he shared with his light. "Then there is nothing we can do."
"Give up on Aomine."
"Eh?" Kuroko looked up from the floor, surprised that Akashi-kun would say that. "But the one who tells me to chase after him is Akashi-kun yourself…!" No, no, no, no, no...! He didn't want to lose Aomine-kun! No! "Yes, that is the last chance. But no matter how much we try to repair a broken porcelain, it will never be like how it was before. Although it can still be used. I'll definitely use him to my best capabilities…" His voice sounded like he was just calculating, not talking about a person. Much less Kuroko's best friend.
"However, there's no need. We'll use him as he is now." Kuroko trembled on his place. No, this couldn't be Akashi-kun! "That's why, my dear, it must have been hard on you…" He stepped closer to the phantom player, but Kuroko took a step back. "A-Akashi… kun?" He called.
"Wha… what are you saying, Akashi-kun…?" Another step forward, another step back. No, no, there was no way that Akashi-kun would dispose of Aomine-kun like that! He... he must be... "No…" Kuroko stopped his steps and braved himself to meet his lover's eyes. "Who… are you?"
A wide smile made its way to Akashi-kun's face, further reassuring him that this was not his Akashi-kun. "I am obviously Akashi Seijuurou, Tetsuya." Kuroko could feel himself sinking down to his knees as Akashi-kun's voice sounded so... so wrong. He couldn't hear any of the lingering warmth and hesitation. He could still hear the affection, but it was so so wrong...!
But he could feel himself being embraced by those arms once more, and it felt so foreign that Kuroko had to look up to see if it really was Akashi-kun who was holding him.
"Shhh, shhh, dear Tetsuya, you don't need to think about it Aomine anymore. He's broken now. We don't need him anymore."
But before Akashi could say anything else, Kuroko broke away from his embrace and bolted out from the gymnasium.
The following year flew fast. After Akashi-kun utterly and completely destroyed Ogiwara-kun's self-esteem and love for basketball, Kuroko had disappeared from Teikou basketball club almost immediately.
He returned back to his usual place, the place he would stay at before practice, the place he had shared with his Akashi-kun, the library...
But on that particular day of graduation, Kuroko had skipped immediately after his name was being called. Nobody even knew that he left the premises, though, so it was all fine. But he went back to the library, to the very spot where Akashi-kun had kissed him.
Kuroko sat down on his usual seat, opening a book he had read that day. This would be the last time. He wouldn't be able to return here anymore. He had to say goodbye to his memories here...
Suddenly, he could feel cold fingers grasping his chin and forced him into a kiss.
Kuroko yelped in surprise as he saw the blazing red hair he so desperately loved. Akashi-kun pulled back and looked at him with a somehow satisfied smirk across his face. "Long time no see, Tetsuya." He said as he sat on his Akashi-kun's usual seat. "I have been missing you." The suffocating pleasantry that didn't suit his Akashi-kun came out from the other Akashi-kun's lips. The use of 'boku' instead of 'ore' also made a shiver ran down his spine.
"What do you want, Akashi-kun?" Kuroko nearly hissed. The heterochromatic orbs clashed with Kuroko's own azure ones in a somehow nostalgic stare down. Kuroko clenched his fists, although his face showed no emotion whatsoever. "Simple and clear, Tetsuya. I want you to come to Rakuzan with me."
"And what did you say?" Mayuzumi asked, his voice sounding utterly emotionless.
"I said no, of course." Kuroko replied, his hands still clenching hard against Mayuzumi's own. He seemed to struggle in telling his story, so Mayuzumi had held his hands and hadn't let it go. "He had... destroyed my friendship, our relationship... how could I stand to follow him again knowing that he wasn't my Akashi-kun?"
Mayuzumi fell silent, but he eventually stood up and embraced his lover in a hug they've never shared before.
"Um, Mayuzumi-san...?" Kuroko asked, sounding unsure of their sudden intimate contact. "Just be quiet, Kuroko. I'm comforting you." He could feel Kuroko's sigh of relief as the tealhead buried his face on Mayuzumi's chest.
The past had gone and now there was only the future for them.
Akashi had wasted his relationship with Kuroko, but Mayuzumi wasn't about to make the same mistake.