Chapter 2

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My body slides down the side of the dugout hours after out last game, tired and bruised, and refusing to budge. I want to walk home. I want to crawl home. Hell, I want to roll my way home, but I can't. My legs are too tired to support my weight. "You should quit." The voice sounds faint and tinny to my ears, so I pay it no mind. I barely manage to pull my gear together. "You should use your teammates. Not have them use you." 

Laughter bubbles past my lips, tired and sad and altogether too confused to sound completely sane. The walls feel like they're tilting. "Quit?" I speak in English instead of Japanese, grinning tiredly. "I refuse. How annoying."

"Oi, Akashicchi, I didn't understand that!" What annoying people, chattering away like I don't exist. 

"Be quiet, Kise-kun." 

"You should study more, nanodayo." I growl slightly.

"Shut up." I hiss, glaring in the direction of voices I can't seem to see clearly. "You're giving me a headache."

"Seriously, Akashicchi! Midorimacchi do you understand?" 

"Some of it, nanodayo." 

"What are you afraid of?" The near-perfect question makes me freeze. "Losing? Your coach? Teammates?" 

This time I speak in Japanese, an attempt to end the thoughts that are beginning to bubble forward. "Don't ask me things like that." I narrow my eyes and wish I could disappear. 

"I can help you. You'll fail on your own. How much do you think you can take?" My anger boils over as I stand chest to chest with Akashi. 

"Don't think you can tell me what to do." I say, my voice unusually low and angry. "I can do this any way I want. If I can go one game, I can go a million. You're just like everybody else." A pair of scissors nearly slices my cheek as I dodge. "Violence is disgusting. Stay away from me." 

What I can't explain, and trust me, I've tried to many times, is how I somehow managed to find myself attending one of the basketball team's practices. There was this little walkway above the court itself, and I stayed hidden there. My experience went something like this. 

Curses flow from my lips, but I keep it in English, unwilling to describe my displeasure in a way that the redhead could easily understand. I peek over the railing, leaning casually as the sound of squeaky sneakers and bouncing balls fills my ears. I don't understand basketball, I really don't. I know you shoot the ball through the hoops, but that's about it. I sigh with irritation. "Can I help you?" Ah, this must be the coach. I shake my head. 

"Akashi-san somehow managed to make me watch." I say tiredly. "So I am." The coach reigns in a slight smile. 

"I see." The coach smiles quietly at me. "Are you the foreign student?" 

I bristle unhappily. "Yes." 

"I didn't mean it that way." He assures me, smiling pleasantly. "I understand why Akashi-kun had you come. Tell me, what do you see?" 

I turn my gaze to the floor below, trying not to notice every little thing that jumps out at me. "They aren't quite a team. They work together, but they're all acting as individuals. Well, with the exception of Kuroko-san." I'm asked to elaborate, so in my simple, slightly childish Japanese, I do so. 

"The one with green hair plays like he's solving a math problem. There's no passion. The one with yellow hair almost has too much, and doesn't seem to concentrate well. 

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