Actions

Work Header

Akashi And Other Animals

Chapter Text

Akashi is walking back towards the Rakuzan dorms when Tetsuya drops into his life again.

A goldfish catching game has been set up by the side of the park and Akashi wanders over. His expression gleams.

Twenty minutes later the poi is still unbroken but Akashi has cleared the field of all contenders- save the four-year old girl dabbling at the water with her fists- and has cleared all thirty-five goldish from the arena, much to the oohs and aahs of the gathering crowd.

He means to decline all his prizes, but then one lone remaining goldfish catches his eye, and the vendor sucks in a breath as Akashi leans forward because he missed one.

As he scoops it out, however, he’s struck by how unobtrusive it is. How it held itself perfectly still near the bottom, mimicking an age line in the tank’s plastic. How it stares at him, resigned and gulping faintly, when he finally flicks it into the air.

“Well, kid,” sighs the vendor. “That’s it, you’ve got them all. Want a prize?” He looks sadly at the emptied basin.

Akashi nods. “This one,” he says, still staring into its eyes. It looks rather like Tetsuya.

Yes, Akashi decides, as he’s walking back to the dorms, and signs himself in with a nod to the supervisor. That’s what he’ll name him. Tetsuya. He raises the bag to his face. Tetsuya gulps. There’s something ephemeral about Tetsuya, the way the slightly ragged edges of his fins drift in the water like mist in the air, like three-dimensional shadow.

Tetsuya bubbles at him, which is reassuring. Akashi unearths a Tupperware from somewhere, and drops Tetsuya into it. Akashi vaguely recalls fish care involves pumps and filters and nautically-themed ornaments. Tetsuya will like that. Tomorrow he will get one of those small tanks, and perhaps a plant. Tomorrow after school Akashi will procure the necessary items for Tetsuya’s care.

.0.

Tomorrow, Tetsuya is dead. His slim dark body floats on top of the water, and when Akashi cautiously prods him with the blunt eraser side of a pencil, he doesn't move.

How cruel life is, thinks Akashi distantly as he carries the container out to the common dining room, filled with basketball club members who chorus a greeting that goes unacknowledged. He gathers his breakfast and eats it with Tetsuya's dead body in front of his plate to reprimand himself. How fragile and how transient. How could he have been so careless with Tetsuya? Surely there was some way he could prevented this outcome.

Kotaro bounces up to the table with his own food, and is mid-slurp when he notices the fish. The soup goes up his nose, and he slips under the table coughing and choking. Half the room surges as one to ensure that Sempai's death throes will not upset the Captain's breakfast. Akashi regards him levelly. The weight of his failure lies heavily on him. Even Kotaro could depart at any moment. Look how close he has come now. Could Akashi have done anything to prevent it?

Kotaro heaves himself back up into his seat and puts his face right up against the clear plastic wall, staring into Tetsuya's blank eyes. Akashi grimly chokes down his miso soup.

"Good morning, Akashi-kun," says Mibuchi, surreptitiously kicking Kotaro into sitting back upright. "Did you sleep- what the hell is that and what is it doing on the breakfast table?"

Akashi sighs. "Tetsuya," he says, and then sighs again. No one at Rakuzan knows about Tetsuya, either. “I failed him,” he adds.

Mibuchi peers at the fish. “You went to a festival last night?” he says. “Oh, Akashi-kun, you know those fish never live very long.”

Akashi transfers his gaze to Mibuchi’s face.

“Don’t they?” breathes another first-year, wide-eyed.

“They get knocked around and they’re not kept very well and sometimes they just can’t take it,” explains Mibuchi. (“Reo-nee, so smart!” cheers Kotaro, in response to this motherly tone.) “You can get another one.” Then his brow furrows. “But you really shouldn’t,” he continues. “Strictly speaking we’re not allowed to have pets.”

Akashi raises his eyes to his new teammate’s face. How easy it sounds. Replace Tetsuya. “I see,” he says, politely. They finish their breakfasts in silence, and then scatter to the business of the day. Akashi places Tetsuya in the shadow of a hydrangea bush, in a shallow grave in the grounds. Let him return to the earth.

At the end of the day Kotaro is the one who brings Akashi the new fish, cradled in his hands like an offering. Nebuya looks resigned as to how he came to be carrying a tank and several boxes and containers in other bags inside it.  Akashi is on the verge of refusing it- they aren’t allowed pets, strictly speaking. Akashi doesn’t have time to be responsible for another life, no matter how tiny. But then the blank stare turns upon Akashi. The fish’s mouth opens. Closes. Tetsuya the second. Akashi reaches out and cradles the plastic baggie, warm from Kotaro’s hands. Tetsuya eyes him.

He’ll do.

.0.

“He just looked so… happy,” says Kotaro. “Peaceful.”

“Who would have thought Teikou’s Akashi would feel homesick,” marvels Mibuchi. “But of course he would! It’s so cute. Look at him. Talking to his little fishie. Which he’s named. He wasn’t going to be some freak like you two.”

“He’s talking to a fish,” Nebuya points out. He stares at the slightly open door meditatively. “You know he’ll get in trouble if they find out he’s keeping an illegal pet.”

“I can’t imagine Akashi-kun getting into trouble,” says Mibuchi, which is true. More to the point, maybe, he can’t imagine Akashi doing anything which would get him into trouble. “Anyway you eat in your room all the time, and that’s against the rules.”

“Prove it,” says Nebuya.

“We can smell it you-“

“I don’t think we would have known it of it him in junior high,” says Kotaro, ignoring all this.

Mibuchi sniffs. “He’s an animal lover,” their shooting guard says. Kotaro doesn’t have to remind them of those years of despair, of being on the other side of Teikou’s unbeatable starting squad. “That’s sweet.”

.0.

It is a possible Tetsuya the Fourth who first catches Akashi’s eye. There’s a whole rack of them: little, darting, very confused fishes in sealed plastic sachets. He almost passes them by, thinking they’re just whimsical, if realistic, keychains. Then one of them moves, and Akashi pauses. Crosses the street towards them. The small crowd of girls gather to the side, parting way for him. Naturally.

He inspects the packets, frowning. There surely cannot be enough air inside these things to support life for- Akashi glances sideways- up to two months, as the placard promises. A handful of girls are cooing over the fishes, and Akashi suppresses the urge to tell them to refrain from inadvertent animal cruelty.

Then Akashi sees the other half of the peddler’s wares. Little turtle versions of the keychains. FOR LUCK proclaims this sign, along with the repeated claim that the ornaments will live for two months. There’s only one left, an extremely phlegmatic-looking reptile with an icy stare. It moves its tiny feet against the plastic, which is barely big enough for it. It isn’t even a turtle. It’s a tortoise. Akashi feels offended on the behalf of all mislabeled wildlife everywhere. It’s perfectly clear that the animal is in fact a land-dwelling- sigh.

He picks up the tortoise gently and fixes the peddler with a glare.

Akashi doesn’t have to pay for the tortoise, and marches back to the dorm indignantly. A few minutes work with scissors takes care of that, and he lets the tortoise walk all over a wad of tissues to dry off.

Akashi puts the tortoise on his desk while he unearths a suitable box to arrange as habitat; he will need to have someone look up tortoise care. Perhaps Kotaro will be useful again in this regard. Perhaps-

Tetsuya the Third swims down to inspect the tortoise. It cranes its tiny head up to the fish. Tetsuya’s fins flare, threateningly.

Akashi looks up Oha-Asa on his phone, just to check. He’s changed his phone since graduation, but the bookmark remains intact.

.0.

“Oh,” coos Mibuchi. “That’s- how cruel. How cute. Of course you had to rescue it!” He makes a motion to pet Akashi on the head; hastily aborts it. Kotaro has somehow escaped Akashi’s summons today.

“What do they eat?” says Nebuya, interestedly. “You know, if you grow them a bit, there’s good eating on one of-“

Akashi turns his head, very slightly.

“Er, yeah, of course you had to rescue him,” says Nebuya. “Good on you. Poor little thing.”

“His name is Shintarou,” says Akashi. His finger moves under the tiny head, which refuses to waver from its proud arch.

“It was very lucky for him,” offers Mibuchi, “That you came along.”

“Yes,” says Akashi,  then adds, apparently apropos of absolutely nothing, “His lucky item was a cellphone charm.”

After he leaves- having carefully fed Shintarou some leaves of lettuce taken from Nebuya’s permanent stock of take-out bentos, carefully washed- Mibuchi leans over to his teammate.

“That seems familiar,” he says. “Shintarou. Shintarou. Hmm.”

Nebuya shrugs. “I dunno,” he says. “It’s a cute tortoise. Where’s he going to keep it, though? A box? Chuck it out into the garden?”

“Never mind,” says Mibuchi, huffily. “It’s not important.”

.0.

With Daiki, things are much more simple. (But then, Daiki always is.) It’s raining. There’s a kitten, and there’s a box.

His brothers and sisters are dead or gone already, but when Akashi puts his hand into the box, Daiki opens eyes of the deepest, purest blue. He is black to the tips, except for his little pink mouth, which closes on Akashi’s finger, drawing blood.

The kitten wiggles out of Akashi’s jacket during class, to an explosion of female squeals. Shirogane-sensei just sighs.

.0.

Akashi has some kind of appointment to get to after school, so they’re left with a little black ball of fuzz- a murderous, bloodthirsty fiend from hell little black ball of fuzz- deposited in the club room wrapped in Akashi’s jersey with Akashi’s earnest and hurried instructions to take care of Daiki.

“This is getting a little out of hand,” says Mibuchi, once they’ve discovered that Daiki turns up sweet as pie the second a girl bends over him cooing as she cuddles him to her chest, and thrown the monster across the locker room at one. Thank goodness for managers.

“Cute, you said,” says Nebuya, sucking at his fingers. “Normal for a kid living away from home for the first time, you said. If we have an elephant by the time the Interhigh starts, I’m going to blame you.”

“Tetsuya was cute,” says Mibuchi. “Tetsuya was normal. Shintarou was just basic human kindness. And now Daiki is... Daiki. Kittens in a box by the roadside. It’s like we’re living in manga.” Daiki is handsome, though. Mibuchi could look into those eyes forever.

 “Daiki,” says Nebuya, thoughtfully. “Are we talking Aomine Daiki?”

“What?” says Mibuchi. “You mean Teikou’s ace? You mean-“ As one, they look at Akashi’s locker. They’re not even sure why they do it. “Aomine Daiki?”

"You said his tortoise’s Shintarou," says Kotaro, who is looking up cat tips on his phone. "...Midorima Shintarou?"

There's a pause. Mibuchi, like all the Uncrowned, like all of Japanese high school basketball, has the names of the Generation of Miracles burned into his brain. It's not like they wouldn't know who Midorima was, anyway. Akashi occasionally mentions him, though usually in the context of how many games of online shogi they managed to play on their one free night before Midorima has to go to sleep. For the months between their final Nationals win and their junior high school graduation, speculation was everywhere: surely they would all come to Rakuzan. Where else would the champions go, but to the emperors? Maybe one or two of them would decide to go elsewhere, but by and large they had imagined that Teikou’s elite would become Rakuzan’s elite with very little fuss.

Instead they scattered across the landscape of high school basketball and turned to face each other as worthy foes. Akashi might name one animal for his vice-captain, as a private joke. But now there’s another.

Now there’s a Daiki. As in, Aomine Daiki. His name is burned into all their minds, all that sleek supremacy, Teikou’s unstoppable Ace. “Was there a Tetsuya at Teikou?” he asks the air. They’re all thinking it, he’s sure. All of them. Maybe some of the non-regulars, more obsessed with Teikou’s Generation of Miracles, have already noticed the connection, and not just chalked it up to their captain’s perennial and all-encompassing weirdness or his clear generosity of character with regards to small helpless animals.

You ask him,” says Nebuya. “I have to take this little monster to the vet later. You can throw yourself on that sword.”

.0.

Even Akashi is willing to admit that perhaps he has overreached himself with Daiki. But whenever he thinks that, Momoi-san’s face swims before his eyes. Her reproachful stare. Her efficient voice. Her magnificent- well. Her dedicated and caring heart. What can he say to that? I have Tetsuya the fourth and they are starting to live longer than a week now, I have Shintarou and I think he is close to achieving shogi sentience, I had Daiki and I threw him out into the street.

Even Tetsuya’s tank, with the fronds of the water-plants drifting back and forth, reproaches Akashi. He has not given up there. How can he give up on Daiki, stalking back and forth on Akashi’s desk, yowling and bothering Shintarou?

Shintarou, with quiet dignity, folds up into his shell and stays in there until Akashi has taken Daiki away and scolds him. Daiki- much like his namesake- utterly refuses to listen to Akashi's improving lecture, rolling on his back and batting the air while Akashi tries to impress upon him the severity of his actions. Shintarou stalks back under the tent of history textbooks and fumes when Akashi gives into Daiki's advances and rubs his tummy, pressing on his soft ears. This is Daiki, too, this unexpected sweetness.

And then Akashi notices. Tetsuya the fourth is gone. Eventually Akashi finds his desiccated body in the space between the desk and the wall, and concludes that the world may have been too much for Tetsuya the fourth. He adds a little basketball to the tank, which bobs on the current of the pump. Tetsuya loves basketball. Basketball must make Tetsuya’s life worth living.

.0.

Tetsuya the fifth is never found.

.0.

With Tetsuya the sixth, he imagines even Shintarou mourns, munching his lettuce with more solemnity than usual. Kotaro complains about Daiki being sick in the common room, so Daiki must suffer too. 

The pet shop proprietor seems perplexed when Akashi demands more mental stability in his Tetsuyas, as though this is a thing that has never occurred to him. How can anyone keep fish like this? Some people are just not cut out to be animal lovers.

.0.

When it comes to Tetsuya the seventh, Akashi catches Daiki in the act of consuming his poor little corpse, and the shock of it makes him sag against the doorpost.

He should have expected this, he thinks, after Daiki has been caught and spanked and someone is looking for a tank with a lid. Outside, one of the more impressionable freshmen in charge of Tetsuya’s daily care is weeping into Kotaro’s shoulder. Akashi sympathises. Poor Tetsuya. How could Akashi ever have expected Daiki to act against his nature?

Ludicrous.

.0.

Daiki solves all their problems at once when he decides to be an outside cat, returning only to be fed, petted and sleep. Very like the actual Daiki. Akashi makes a note of this. At least Daiki still has his handsome red collar with all Akashi’s information, and will return whenever he wants to.

He doesn’t appear to want to very often, admittedly. Whenever he does stalk in, he paws unhappily at the fish tank before choosing Akashi’s pillow to nap on, hissing whenever he is disturbed.

“You’re right,” says Akashi to Shintarou, retreating to the common room while a group of second-stringers sally forth to give Daiki a much needed bath, carrying the tortoise under his arm. “This is very typical of him.”

Shintarou sets off to explore the common room, and promptly gets stuck under a table, scrabbling noisily until Akashi shifts several sets of furniture to let him loose, straining to lift the sofa. Unfortunately, this is typical too.

.0.

Since the Daiki incident, Akashi has gained something of a reputation among the girls of Rakuzan as an animal lover. He’s so perfect, they sigh as he walks past. So responsible and so kind.

Some girl, desperate, has brought her baby hamsters to school and is giving them away by the school gate, targeting impressionable first-year girls who all light up when they see Akashi walking past them.

A third-string member crashes into the shoe lockers in his haste to alert a regular of their captain’s trajectory. Mibuchi throws caution to the winds, and just runs.

It is too late. Akashi arrows in on their tiny cage, eyes shining, and the girl is cooing up into his face about how sweet they are, how cute with their mouth pouches full of food-

"Atsushi," pronounces Akashi with satisfaction, and hands the informative hamster care flyer to Reo by the end of the day.

.0.

Akashi develops a disconcerting habit of carrying Shintarou around with him, most particularly whenever he plays shogi- which seems to be most of the time.

“Is it boring to play by yourself all the time?” asks Kotaro. 

“I was playing against Shintarou,” says Akashi, absently.

“Er,” says Kotaro.

Akashi looks up at Shintarou eating berries out of Reo’s hand, and the careful gaze of the first-string players. “Midorima Shintarou,” he explains. “We used to play frequently. I am playing against myself playing as he would play.”

There’s a collective oooh of understanding. Several nods. Akashi-san is intellectual. Smart people do things like that. Which look crazy. But never mind.

“Why don’t you just play with him, then?” says Nebuya, tactlessly. Mibuchi kicks him, swiftly.

Akashi looks down. “Shintarou’s school is preparing for his summer training camp,” he says. “He has no access to a computer. Reo, I think Shintarou has had enough.”

Kotaro tries to lighten the mood. “But you have Shintarou now, so that’s alright!” he says, grabbing the tortoise and setting him on the other side of the shogi board.

This, Mibuchi realises, is possibly the saddest thing he has ever heard in his life.

“Yes,” says Akashi, and grabs Shintarou before he can charge the shogi board and upset all the pieces again.

.0.

Summer marches in. Rakuzan is moving towards national supremacy as usual, and without hiccup. They won’t be playing Shintarou’s namesake this tournament, but the match-ups are causing excitement among any of the club members who fancy themselves experts on high school basketball, all those who believe implicitly that Akashi Seijuuro has come to them to secure victory against his former teammates. The addition of a single player to all of these teams has changed the landscape immeasurably.

Akashi doesn’t play. He trains, but he doesn’t look to be put in, doesn’t hunger for the court and ball the way they’d expect a genius to. He doesn’t need to. Rakuzan expects no competition.

When Touou Gakuen doesn’t field Aomine Daiki among their starters, Rakuzan think that their captain may be disappointed. Maybe. Just maybe.

Akashi’s quote gets put up on the school notice board, published across Japan. It’s the simple truth, though Touou Gakuen must gnash their teeth to hear it.

Victory, thankfully, doesn’t particularly involve having fun.

.0.

Akashi is bored, which is not unusual. Though he rarely attends the interminable house parties of his parents’ circles, certain events are unavoidable, no matter how repetitive the conversation or close they are to the Interhigh. He wanders the estate, managing somehow to stumble upon their host, who has abandoned his guests to play with his dog and her new puppies.

Somehow, Akashi doesn’t blame him the slightest. While dogs are not as relaxing as Tetsuya, or as dignified as Shintarou, Akashi deeply empathises with the desire for animal companionship. Even as Suoh-san invites him in, eager to show off his lovely puppies, Akashi thinks of his own companions. They will have been fed by now. Perhaps they are tucking up to sleep. Akashi sighs.

Suoh-san offers him a puppy with a glittering smile and sparkling eyes and shining hair- to say nothing of the dog, a mass of golden fur and happiness. Most of the puppies are already spoken for, he explains- to be distributed to what Akashi knows to be some of the biggest families and conglomerates in Japan. People who, Suoh-san explains, will really appreciate Antoinette’s puppies.

Looking at Suoh-san, Akashi rather thinks they will.

Except for one, explains Suoh-san. Like that one. That one right there that Akashi-kun is holding. He has no home yet. He’s homeless. He could do with someone to love him.

Akashi’s grip tightens on miniaturised happiness before he can stop himself.

"What will you name him?" says Suoh-san, in hushed tones.

"Ryouta," says Akashi without thinking. But no, he cannot take Ryouta. Tetsuya and Shintarou and Atsushi he hides under his bed as unobtrusive, and even Daiki he can pass off as a stray, fed by the generosity of the building as a whole. But Rakuzan's dorms, strictly speaking, do not allow large pets, or in fact any pets at all. And Ryouta will be large, and troublesome. Ryouta will take a lot of time, thinks Akashi, looking at his mother sitting proudly with her litter. Antoinette is long-haired and long-limbed and beautiful. Can he truly justify taking Ryouta if he will have sit alone at the estate for months? No, he cannot. He carefully tries to ease Ryouta back into Suoh-san's arms, explains all this. There is no place in Akashi's life for him. (Ryouta fought well, at the Interhigh, Ryouta has faced Daiki at last-)

Ryouta whimpers.

Suoh-san's face falls.

Well, Akashi amends. There is no place at Akashi's school.

One new sports complex later, there is space enough at Rakuzan's dorms for Ryouta to accompany the basketball team on their laps, barking joyfully at every turn. Ryouta rests his adoring head on Akashi's lap and sheds gold all over the brown blazers and is perennially kidnapped by the girl's dormitory for ribbons and sweaters, but he is by far the greatest success with Akashi’s teammates, some of whom are beginning to form into factions, arguing for Shintarou’s quiet dignity over Daiki’s swaggering insouciance. Akashi is unsurprised.

Daiki and Shintarou and Atsushi and Tetsuya look on with polite disbelief at an animal who actually obeys commands like 'sit' and 'stay' and 'do not climb on my face'. Ryouta's two great loves- to Akashi’s mild amusement- are Daiki and Tetsuya, but Daiki is capricious, as likely to send Ryouta whimpering as he is to cuddle and play, and Akashi has learned enough about fish-keeping to keep Tetsuya the twelfth well out of reach, so Ryouta is reduced to staring at the tank, lying on his back entranced by Tetsuya's unhurried passage back and forth. Akashi tickles his stomach with his socked foot.

He’s such a good dog.

.0.

“Kaijou’s Kise Ryouta,” reports Nebuya, confirming what they already know. Kotaro and the fifth of their starting squad are playing tag with a boisterous Ryouta, a basketball and no regard whatsoever for the clear and encroaching mental breakdown of Rakuzan’s genius captain.

"Is that all of them," says Reo, with feeling. The Winter Cup is coming along, and while Rakuzan has no shortage of members, it seems something of a waste to deploy them on pet care. Also, it’s increasingly unnerving to watch match videos of the former Teikou regulars, mostly because Akashi always considered it perfectly clear if he was talking about the human or animal version, even when it patently was not. "That's all of them, right? We're done? It's over?" Even Sei-chan won’t pull team members out of thin air, will he?” They still don’t even know who this Tetsuya is, beyond that his twelfth incarnation is swimming in Akashi’s dorm room, pushing a tiny basketball around with his nose.

.0.

After the final, they know who Tetsuya is.

.0.

Reo moves quickly and ambushes Midorima Shintarou- the real one, not the tortoise one, which Akashi had to be dissuaded from bringing to the stadium with them to attend the closing ceremony. It takes only a few minutes to explain the situation as it stands to him. Certain recent emails and remarks become suddenly explicated, judging from the look on Midorima’s face before he launches into a lecture to rival Sei-chan’s.

By the sound of it, they've been managing Sei-chan all wrong, down to the fact that they have let him turn the dormitory into a menagerie and probably also that they have failed to keep Akashi sufficiently occupied enough to not turn the dorm into a menagerie. Reo wants to protest to this. It's not like Sei-chan came with instructions like 'don't let him go off to a festival unsupervised' or 'if you do, take away all his winnings immediately'.

"Murasakibara always does," Midorima informs them. "He flushes the fish and eats the consumables and disposes of everything in perfect order."

Sorry we're not you, is on the tip of Reo's tongue. Sorry we're not enough for him. Sorry he misses you so much he talks to a tortoise. Maybe if any of you ever bothered to call to see how he's doing-  “He talks to them,” he tries to explain. “He’s constantly talking to- Shintarou. Tetsuya. He lectures the hamster and Ryouta and Daiki even when they don’t listen to him. He never talks to us.”

There’s silence. The adorable point guard from Shuutoku is literally convulsed over by the wall, laughing so hard that he doesn’t even have the breath for audible laughter, just wheezing for breath between bouts of silent hilarity.

“That doesn’t sound like Akashi-kun,” comes a new voice.

Reo jumps and shrieks. Midorima drops his mint container.

“I’ve been here the whole time,” says Kuroko Tetsuya. Reo just stares at him. The latest Tetsuya is a handsome black beta with silver accents, flashing them when he flared his fins in display at faces, food, Shintarou, glints of light in the air. Mibuchi doesn’t see the resemblance. “Pets, you say.”

“One for each of you,” Reo explains. He lets them flick through the album again. He does feel, personally, that the one of Ryouta and Daiki napping in a pool of sunlight is adorable, if insipid. He crosses his arms and waits.

Midorima and Kuroko share a speaking look. Reo doesn’t have to have amazing eyes to see what they are saying to each other. Better them than us, it says, clearly.

“I’m sorry we couldn’t be of more help,” says Kuroko Tetsuya, politely. Midorima Shintarou just adjusts his glasses, thinking.

Reo stomps off, or tries to.

Shuutoku’s point guard chases after him. “Wait, wait,” he said. “Can you send me the picture of that tortoise? Have you ever thought of wrapping him up in bandages? Can I get a picture of that?”

.0.

A day later, after free time in Tokyo, Akashi returns to the inn with a plant, which he passes to Nebuya.

“What’s this?” he says.

“It’s for all of you,” says Akashi, and unwinds his scarf.

“It’s a money plant,” someone volunteers. “They bring luck.” Akashi’s eyebrows hit his hairline, and he turns his gaze to the plant.

“It's from Midorima-kun," says Reo, reading the attached tag. "He says it is a gift to the whole club. For luck. We're going to need it, he says."

Akashi stares doubtfully at it. “Luck,” he says.

"What's its name?" inquires Kotaro, who can never let a good thing rest.

The entire room swivels to look at Akashi, but he appears baffled. He can't have already have run out of teammates- of rivals, of comrades. Admittedly, it doesn't look like a Taiga. Or a Teppei. Well, maybe a Teppei. Kiyoshi hasn’t gotten any less annoying since Junior High.

"We're calling it Sei-chan," announces Reo. "And we're keeping it in the club room. Conversation is good for plants, you know.”

Akashi pauses in the act of smoothing down his hair. “Sei-chan,” he says, flatly.

Kotaro pinches off a leaf and offers it to Shintarou, who inspects it carefully before chomping down. “I think that’s a nice name.”