for some people, they automatically know what they're good at. they know that they'll be an artist or a mathematician or a doctor. but you'd never quite figured out what you were good at, not until you moved to america.
his name was himuro tatsuya and he showed you what you were good at.
it started out as just a simple game. a quick run through of basketball and you were in love. it was easily your favorite past time and you knew it was what you wanted to be good at. you could see yourself being the best, you want to be the best.
and so you play with tatsuya as much as possible. you watch baseketball on the television and you read books about it. you don't care for your school work, not when it's a secondhand thing compared to what you want to be. you want to be famous, you want to be in the nba, you want everyone to know your name.
that's what you'll hear chanted from the stadium as you make dunk after drunk, three pointer after three pointer. you'll be the best on your team and no one is going to stop you.
her name was alexandra garcia and she took you under her wings.
she was a retired wnba player and you and tatsuya were her two little proteges, the only ones she decided to train. you loved it. you could see the spot light shining on you now, even as a young kid. you'd never wanted anything in your life but to be great.
one on one was always something you enjoyed. it helped you learn the basics and honed your skills. it didn't hurt having alex there to correct your mistakes or tatsuya to play with. you loved playing basketball, especially with them. and you wanted to win. but you never did. one on one, tatsuya was always better. he always won. it fueled your fire, your passion to play. it only made you try harder. you needed to succeed.
perhaps it was part of the issue of being the only child to a company consultant. your father was never around and your mother was always too busy with her friends to spend time with you. so you were left to your own devices, to find your own niche in an unfamiliar world where only you and tatsuya were the same. everyone else made fun of you, teased you for being different. but you connected with them on the level of basketball, in fact, you outshone them all when you played. you garnered their attention and yet, it still wasn't enough. the few people you wanted to look at you didn't and tatsuya graduated.
you were alone again.
it's not until a few years later when you run into tatsuya again, in a street game of all things. you won. it was the first time you'd ever beaten himuro and you wanted to cry. he congratulated you and asked if you wanted to play one on ones again next week. of course you agreed, you'd missed his friendship and playing basketball with him. you'd still worn the ring he gave you, a symbol of not only your friendship together, but also your brotherhood. he was like the older brother you never had and you were glad he was back in your life.
after that game, you continued one on ones with himuro, each of you winning the same amount of games that you lost. it seemed like you'd finally matched his level of play, finally achieved something you wanted. alex was proud of you both. but after 98 games, tatsuya told you that if you win the next game, you won't be brothers anymore. that the big brother is always stronger than the little brother and if you win, you won't be his little brother anymore.
you lose on purpose. you couldn't bear the idea of winning against himuro, not when his wrist was injured and he couldn't play as well as he should be able to. that resulted in a punch to your face, tatsuya mad at you for throwing the game. he said you guys will count that game as a draw and the next one would be a bet on your rings. a bet on your friendship. if you lose that one, you'll have to pretend that you were never friends.
luckily for you, your father's work brings him back to japan and you move with him. that unspoken 100th game remaining unplayed and your training with alexandra suspended.
before you can even start school, your father's work has him and your mother moving back to the states. but you want to stay. you missed japan, the little you could remember of it. you didn't want to move again. didn't want to start over.
so he gave you an apartment of your own and pays you an allowance to stay and keep out of trouble. the only thing you have to do is check in once in awhile and that's easy. you don't need a job, you don't have to do well in school, you just have to stay out of trouble and check in.
you decide to go to seirin high school, it's close and their basketball team is growing. it sounds like the perfect place. plus, it's not one of the schools that the so-called generation of miracles had chosen to go to. it gives you the opportunity to take them down.
you find one of the players during opening ceremony and make him take you to the booth. you fill out the registration paper, leaving your future goals blank. when questioned about it you reply:
"japanese basketball is easy".
and you believe that. it's nothing like the street ball that you played in america or the drills that alex ran you and tatsuya through. it's a cake walk in all regards, even at seirin.
you want to play though, nothing will deter you from playing. not even the fact that there's a generation of miracles attending seirin. but you look at him and you don't see it. how could someone like him have been considered so great. it's a little disappointing.
you always settle things with a one on one game, that's who you are. it's clear from that game that this kuroko tetsuya is nothing more than a guy who skated along the sidelines of the teikou middle school team. he's absolutely terrible at basketball. he can't dribble, he can't shoot. you quickly grow bored of the game.
until he tells you that he's a shadow.
a shadow that makes the light around him brighter and that he wants you to be his light. it's weird, frankly. you don't know what he's on about, but one thing catches your attention.
"i will make you, the light, the number one in japan".
you can't help but agree now. it's not until the first years are having a practice game against the upperclassmen that you find out kuroko's true power. his misdirection that always lands perfectly in your hands for you to score. it's simple after that.
the other teams don't see you coming. don't see the powerhouse that seirin has built upon their two starting first years.
ryouta kise sees it. he sees it when you take down his team, kaijo, in a practice match. seirin only wins by one point, but it's still a win. still a victory of the copy cat player of the generation of miracles. you were ecstatic about it.
the practice against kaijo sets the team in high spirits for the interhigh - despite finding out that their first opponent was someone two meters tall. you're not even that tall, but you're not worried. you beat a generation of miracles, you can defeat this nobody.
and you do. and you continue winning the next games, even when it's just you on the court and kuroko is benched. it's after the fourth game that things get interesting.
you meet midorima shintarou from shutoku, another miracle.
you won't play him unless you win these next few games, but you know you'll win. you'll win and you'll be coming after him. another miracle to add under your belt and you can't wait.
the phantom sixth man
you can see it now. you're sitting on the sidelines and you can actually see how great he really is.
you remember his words before coming onto the court, his desire to win for the upperclassmen. the desire for them to have their revenge. he also mentions that he once hated basketball, you can't imagine what would've made him hate the sport that you can't live without.
but if you thought seiho was going to be easy, you were wrong. sweat drips down your face and the game has barely started. you're frustrated, you've fouled, and you were pulled out. you're furious at yourself. stupid. idiot. you repeat in your head as you sit on the sidelines and watch, your fingers clutching desperately at the hems of your shorts as your body begs you to get back into motion.
you can't. you've fouled too many times and you'd just be kicked out of the game eventually anyways. so kuroko went in for you, vowed to match tsugawa and beat him. for you.
and kuroko does. you can see his misdirection at work. you can see how fluid his passes are to your senpais and you can't believe that this is the man who claims to be just a shadow. sure, he has no presence and often you don't realize he's there until he speaks or makes himself known. but kuroko is more than just a simple shadow to your light.
you're exhausted after the seiho game, despite the fact that you didn't play the whole time. but you need to conserve your energy for midorima. you need to take him down. you want to play against kise again. you want to take the miracles down one by one.
you think you've met your match against midorima. he matches each of your shots with one of his own, but he hits three pointers and you only make two. no matter how many you score, shutoku is still ahead.
how do you fight someone who has the whole court as their range? it seems impossible. but you have a shadow by your side that won't let you lose.
you jump, expecting him to shoot, but he drops back down, faking you out. you're so stupid for falling for that. and yet the ball is falling out of midorima's hand and bouncing onto the lacquered court. you're in disbelief. it was kuroko. kuroko saved the game.
he knew you'd jump and he knew midorima knew that too, which is how he knew midorima would lower the ball once more.
another miracle that you've beaten. another one to play next.
aomine daiki. the ace of the teikou team and kuroko's former light. there's a great pride you'll earn for beating him. but even kuroko doubts you, even if he won't admit it out loud.
everyone believes that aomine's inherent skills will overpower your still growing jumping abilities. it's simply not fair for everyone to doubt you like that. you know you'll beat aomine. maybe not today, but some day. you have to if you're going to be number one in japan. there's no other way.
the nerve of aomine to not show up for the game. it's like he's taunting you after the one on one you two played. (against your better judgement and some thing that caused riko to yell at you over it. man she was scary some times.)
but you can't believe the way aomine just flippantly treats basketball. it's a sacred sport, some thing challenging and exciting and he treats it like a piece of paper to throw around. he infuriates you. he lights a fire under your skin that you can't even begin to describe. you need to beat him.
you won't admit that you're jealous. you're jealous of the bond between kuroko and aomine, that bond of the first light and shadow. you're just a replacement, you can feel it. you don't know why kuroko chose seirin over touou. why would he chose anyone besides aomine, the perfect light?
riko knows you're not fully healed from the strain on your body against shutoku, but the team can't afford to bench you the whole game. it frustrates you that she even had to substitute you out just to tape your legs. you feel weak and you never want to feel that way again.
but you do.
you continue to feel weak as aomine skillfully moves past you, making your own plays seem childish in return. making you feel as if you've just begun to play basketball instead of the countless years you have under your belt. perhaps japanese basketball isn't as easy as you thought.
at the end you realize you are weak. aomine and touou dominate the game. effectively doubling seirin's score. you're in disbelief. you can't believe the skill with which aomine plays, he's leagues away from the other miracles you've played against.
riko tries to cheer the team up with a training camp. it works, for the most part. but you're tasked with buying drinks for the team and told to run along the beach to get them. every day you're told to do this and every time you come back after the practices against shutoku are over.
you don't understand why riko won't let you play, insisting that you constantly get drinks for everyone. until one day she makes you jump. you reach just above the rim like normal, but she tells you to do it again, with your right leg, and you reach the top of the back board in one jump, the basket falling over and crashing into the pushes.
you're shocked. that was... amazing! just from running every day in the sand you've managed to strengthen your legs that much.
then midorima has to step in and tell you that he can still beat you. that there was no chance you'd get one basket out of ten. shot after shot you continued to miss as midorima defended you. it was irritating. at the end he said no matter how high you jumped, he'd be able to stop you.
simply because he knew every time that you were going to dunk.
you wouldn't be able to have an aerial battle against the generation of miracles if you couldn't do anything but dunk. midorima made you realize you had to do more, you had to improve as well. you had to work on your dexterity and your ability to handle the ball with both hands. you couldn't just rely on the skills of your right hand.
it was surprising when riko dragged the team to the interhigh quarterfinals. she always had ulterior motives for things. it was kaijo against touou, kise against aomine. you didn't know who would win, but you hoped it would be aomine. you wanted to see the asshole lose.
that dream turned out to slipping away with each basket touou scored and despite kise's follow ups, the difference in points kept growing. eventually it looked like kise had given up and you wanted to scream at him. how could he just give up so easily, just let aomine zoom by him without even trying.
if you were him you wouldn't give up until the last buzzer.
the second half of the game started and you realize kise hadn't given up. he'd copied aomine's moves. he'd copied him and put his own twist on them. and he started closing the gap. it was amazing. he was doing something that you hadn't even been able to do and that was stand on a level playing with with aomine daiki.
kise really was a great basketball player. but they were evenly matched now. it was ace against ace and sadly, aomine had the head start from the first half. no matter what kise could have done, aomine was still better. he still crushed kaijo underneath the weight of his skill.
you know that you beat kise once, but he's grown. he's stronger now, you're not sure if you can beat him. midorima has grown too, pushed you to grow yourself. you've beaten two of the generation of miracles and you know you'll have to play them again. not to mention the other two you haven't even played against. but there's one thing that you know for sure.
the generation of miracles piss you off.