Fandom: Kuroko no Basket
Title: Value in Defeat
Pairing/characters: Midorima, Akashi, Kuroko
Summary: Midorima reflected on his defeat, and the pains of Akashi’s brutal fixation upon victory and what it could take to break the cycle.---
Midorima Shintaro would call himself a realist, rather than an optimist. The thought of obscuring reality with whatever excuses or fabrications for the purpose of concealing his own limitations had never once occurred to him. He wasn’t that weak-minded and therefore, he acknowledged Shuutoku’s loss, his loss, in the semi-finals in a dignified and decorous manner despite the inherent discontent and the tears that he couldn’t stop himself from shedding. However, much later, after a decent hot bath and meal, a wild moment of self-reflection made him realized that those tears couldn’t simply be due to defeat, as heartbreaking as it was.
“Victory is everything”
Those words left a bitter aftertaste in him, but more importantly, it reminded him of those times, of shattered crimson orbs that always peered back stridently at him under ridiculously long blood-red bangs in the half-light of Teikou’s makeshift classroom where they always employed as the meeting point for the basketball club as well as their regular shogi matches. While the room didn’t officially belong to the basketball club, Midorima and the rest of the first stringers never had any interruptions while using the room for basketball-related meetings, purely because Akashi was more than capable of silencing any objections before they could even be voiced merely by elegantly raising an eyebrow while wearing a razor-sharp smile that said nothing at all. His former captain had always known victory, never tasting defeat, and had become powerless to expect anything less than the absolutes. For some reason, Midorima couldn’t help but feel that there was something intrinsically tragic about it.
“I want to be your enemy”
There was something fractured in those conceited words, and Midorima felt something burn and break inside. Akashi hadn’t changed at all, not that he expected him to, because there was no one who could rip those endless triumphs from the “emperor” himself. As always, those inimitable eyes reflected nothingness and danger and intellect, balanced as a fine blade. He could feel an increasing distance between them, one that Akashi inserted between himself and the world, shaped by the brutal and unchanging perspective and fixation upon nothing but unquestionable victories. And once again, he wished he didn’t lose the Winter Cup semi-finals, or their last shogi match back in Teikou, not because he was sore about his defeat but because he wanted that lasting emptiness to melt away from that satirical smile and heterochromatic eyes and see what lay beneath. Because in the end, thanks to Kuroko (though he would rather carry an unlucky item than made such a graceless admission), he had come to know that there was value in defeat.
Midorima could finally understand, even just a little, why Kuroko left them during the final year of their middle school, before all the cold victories destroyed the last remnants of what remained of what used to be a contented team. He could relate, however reluctantly, why Kuroko was fighting so hard for this, to drag them all back and patched up the cracks before they shattered irreparably. Because in the end, he sorely missed the old familiarity and the times spent with his aloof red-haired friend who truly cared despite everything.
Stifling a frustrated yawn, he shot a quick glance at the clock on his desk; 11.50 pm. Well, there was still hope, one more match left for the Winter Cup tomorrow; one final chance. Seirin vs Rakuzan. He would have to listen to Oha Asa’s horoscope reading tomorrow morning and see if he could find a lucky item for Aquarius. One that could hopefully aid in overcoming crushing odds.
The next morning, before the Winter Cup finals begun, Kuroko and the whole of Seirin basketball team found themselves wondering if someone was trying to curse their invisible player, what with a voodoo doll attached to his locker door. Or maybe this was just someone’s twisted way of saying good luck.