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Finding your way home

Chapter Text

Elementary school

Mackenzie ‘Mac’ Lillian Potter, a petite girl of 8 years old with long thick locks of reddish black hair and startling grass green eyes hidden behind thick-framed glasses, walked quietly into the new house they had just moved into, it was different from the one they had lived in back in Surry. For one it was only one story, so she couldn’t sleep in a cupboard under the stairs here. Also, it was…strange, she had heard her aunt Petunia say it was a traditional Japanese house. Aunt Petunia had said it with disgust, her nose in the air as she has sniffed around the house, pointing out everything she didn’t like. Mac had started to believe it was everything about the house, but she kept her mouth shut.

Mac liked the house, though, the only fault with it was that she had to live there with her aunt and uncle and cousin. But that wasn’t the house fault, now was it? She had been given the smallest room in the back of the house, and if she tried hard enough she could pretend that she lived there alone. It was the farthest away she could get from the other two bedrooms in the house where her relative had settled in. Dudley had of course gotten the largest room for all of his things, not that he used most of it.

Mac sighed as she heard the telly from the living room and the loud laugh from Dudley and moved past the room and into the kitchen where Petunia was standing by the fridge.

“It’s about time you came back, girl,” Petunia snapped at her with a glare. “Dinner isn’t cooking itself, you know.”

“I’m sorry, Aunt Petunia,” Mac said working on not rolling her eyes and keeping her calm. She walked to the counter and started to work on making dinner as Petunia left the kitchen with a last sneer. When she was sure she was alone she rolled her eyes at her aunt.

She finished dinner quickly knowing Vernon would be home from work soon and expected dinner to be on the table by the time he stepped into the kitchen. Just as she heard the front door open she placed the last pan on the table and stepped back. She grabbed the small plate she had prepared for herself and slipped out of the kitchen, hoping to avid her uncle by all means.

Even if she was only 8 years old Mac knew there was something strange about their move, and no matter how much Dudley had complained and thrown tantrums, her aunt and uncle hadn’t changed their minds. Mac knew it was the first time in both Dudley’s and her memory that they had not complied with Dudley’s demands. That in itself was…odd.

“Petunia, dear, all of our problems will be solved!” Vernon had stated one day just as Mac was leaving the kitchen and the way he smirked at her had her stopping at the door. “I have the perfect solution!”

“What is it, dear?” Petunia asked.

“I was called into the Director’s office today and he commended me for the job I do,” Vernon bragged puffing out his already large chest, “he said they’re opening a branch of Grunnings in Tokyo, and asked me if I was willing to take the position of leader at the branch!”

“Tokyo…like in Japan?” Petunia asked and Vernon nodded. “But, dear, it’s so far… and school for Dudley…”

“It’s the perfect solution, Pet,” Vernon said again and threw a meaningful look toward Mac who still was standing in the doorway. “They won’t find us there! They won’t think to look for us, for her, there!”

Mac frowned confused and saw the pensive look on her aunt's face before she had nodded and that was that.

A week later they were getting language lessons in Japanese, even Mac, and her uncle had muttered that it was because his company knew she was living with them and had included her in the lessons. Otherwise, he would have let her be on her own. Mac hadn’t minded all that much; she found the lessons fun and interesting. Somehow, though, she picked up on the language much quicker than the rest of her relatives. Dudley really struggled and whined that it was too hard and boring; he wanted to play video games.

Six months later they were on a plane and on their way to their new lives far away from England, Surry. Now their new lives in Japan, Tokyo awaited them and Mac wasn’t very hopeful that it would be much better than her old one in England.

Mac sat in her room eating her dinner as she heard the distant laughter coming from the kitchen and she scowled at the plate on her lap. She focused her mind back to the question of why they had moved. It had been so sudden, and she really doubted that Vernon and Petunia just suddenly decided that they wanted to live in Japan. Not with the snobbish and superior attitude they had shown since they landed at Narita Airport. Also, Mac had a strong suspicion that it wasn’t because of the promotion Vernon had received from Grunnings either, no matter the rise in salary. Her brows furrowed in thoughts as she tried to get to the bottom of this mystery. She couldn’t shake the feeling that it was because of her… it had something to do with her, and she knew it. The question was how?

“You’re still going to be unpopular and a freak here,” Dudley sneered at her staring down at her where she was sitting underneath a basketball hoop on an empty court. At least it had been empty until Dudley had found her. Her sketch pad was open on her lap and she looked up at her cousin. His thick blond hair and double chin made him look like a blond Vernon, the colouring was the only thing he had gotten from his mother.

“Go away, Dudley,” Mac snapped at him.

“Why are you speaking Japanese to me?!” Dudley demanded.

“Hm…Maybe because we’re in Japan?” Mac pretended to think knowing she would regret her cheek later, but she had been enjoying herself until he showed up.

“I’ll tell mum,” Dudley glared.

“Run and tell your mummy,” Mac taunted but let out an annoyed sound when the sketchpad was ripped out of her hands and Dudley waved it around. She got to her feet quickly, but she was not as tall as Dudley and he used it to his advantage, so she had trouble getting it.

“Give it back!” Mac demanded.

“Where did you get this, anyway?” Dudley asked narrowing his small beady eyes at her. “You stole it, didn’t you?”

“No!” Mac denied. “Give it back!”

“I’m telling dad you stole it!” Dudley sneered.

Mac made another grab for it, but Dudley pushed her roughly so she fell to the ground hard. She glared up at his smirking face, but before Mac could say anything and so sudden that Dudley couldn’t stop it the sketchpad was snapped out of his hands and he was left blinking before he spun around to glare at the person who had taken the pad from him.

Mac stared at the kid who had interfered and taken the pad from Dudley, she saw that he was tall and had navy blue hair that was parted on the right side, and the bangs reached just above his eyebrows, and Mac noticed that his skin was tan. He was also taller than Dudley, but she was sure he was around the same age and she quite envied the height.

“You shouldn’t tease younger girls,” he said frowning at Dudley, “it’s not nice.”

“Stay out of it,” Dudley snapped in heavily accented Japanese. The boy tilted his head a little and looked from Dudley to Mac who stared back at him with wide eyes.

“No,” the boy said. “You apologize.”

Dudley sneered at the boy and cast a furious glare at Mac before stomping away from the boy who frowned after him. Mac saw the boy open his mouth to say call after Dudley, but she also knew it was best to just let him go. She would be in enough trouble when she got home as it was.

“Its fine,” she whispered making the boy close his mouth and turned to her. She got back to her feet and started to brush off the dust from the ground. She felt his eyes on her as she did.

“It’s not,” he scowled, “he shouldn’t take something from you like this.”

Mac just shrugged and looked away from the boy who was still watching her, his eyes were the same navy blue as his hair, Mac noticed.

“I’m Aomine Daiki,” he suddenly said and sounded different from before, happy.

Mac snapped her eyes to him and found him smiling widely at her and holding out the sketchpad to her, she took it and pressed it against her chest.

“Thank you,” she whispered.

“No problem;” he grinned, “what’s your name?”

Mac looked back at him startled that he was still talking to her, normally everyone walked away when she was close. She hesitated, should she tell him? What if he walked away, like all the others? What if he didn’t want to talk to her? But…he had stood up against Dudley.

“Mackenzie Lillian Potter,” Mac finally said, “but everyone just calls me Mac.”

“That’s a strange name,” Daiki said amused.

Mac glared at him, “it’s English, so my last name comes last!”

“Oh,” Daiki blinked, “well, I’ll call you Kenzie.”

Mac blinked, “why?”

“Just because” Daiki grinned. “I like it.”

Mac scowled lightly but shook her head. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m going to play basketball,” Daiki said sounding so excited that Mac blinked. “You play?”

“Never have before,” Mac admitted and bit her lips to avoid laughing at the horrified look on his face.

“What?” he asked, “basketball is the best sport ever!”

Mac just shrugged and looked away from him not noticing his frown as he looked at her. Suddenly she felt someone grab her wrist and she flinched but he ignored it and pulled her back toward the centre of the court where she noticed that a basketball was laying, he must have dropped it when he came to help her.

“I’ll teach you,” he said seriously.

“Um…” Mac said, “I have to go home soon…”

“Just for a little while,” Daiki said and Mac found herself nodding wanting to spend some more time with the boy who was so happy and easy going.

Mac placed the sketchpad on the side of the court and caught the ball that Daiki threw her; she bounced it uncertainly and smiled when she heard the sound the ball made when it hit the concrete. She threw the ball back at Daiki who grinned and she watched in awe as he rushed toward the hoop and the effortless way he moved on the court until he finally was closer and jumped up before shooting the ball through the hoop.

“Girl!” Mac winced when she entered the house knowing it was impossible to avoid any confrontation. She entered the living room immediately spotting Dudley sitting on the sofa, smirking at her. She ignored him and looked at Vernon who was glaring at her angrily.

“What did we tell you about treating Dudley with respect?!” Vernon yelled spit flying from his mouth.

Mac kept silent, knowing that no matter what she said it would be wrong. Vernon stalked closer and she withheld the flinch, while they normally didn’t hit her she still didn’t feel safe being too close to them.

“You will treat Dudley with the respect he deserves, you hear me girl?” Vernon sneered. “You embarrassed him and that is not tolerable! And give me that!”

For the second time that day her sketchpad was snatched out of her hands, she grabbed after it, but was shoved roughly back and hit the table behind her, but didn’t fall. She looked up to see Vernon start ripping the sketchpad right there smirking at her as the paper fell to the floor with her pictures in small pieces.

Dudley’s taunting laughter was ringing in the room and Mac bit down on her trembling lower lip as she forced herself to watch without a comment. She fisted her hands at her side, digging her nails into her palms.

“Go to your room and do not expect dinner tonight!” Vernon snapped when he was done. “No, wait… clean this filthy mess up. We’ll find a proper punishment for your stealing later.”

Mac glared at them when they left the room, both laughing like they had just had a laugh. She fell to her knees as she started to gather up the pieces of paper. It was impossible to make out the pictures she had drawn from the pieces, and it hurt. The sketchpad had been a present from Mrs Figg back at Privet Drive; the old lady had been kind to her. Even if she had been overly obsessed with her cats. When she had found out that Mac loved to draw, and was good at it, she had given her the sketchpad. And now it was gone.

She refused to let her tears fall until she was in her room and the door closed behind her, the simple furnishing was a contrast to the rest of the house, but she didn’t care. She fell down on the futon she had placed in the corner of the room. Tears fell from her eyes and her small shoulders shook in sobs. Why couldn’t she be cared for? Was it normal for kids who weren’t raised by their parents to be treated like this? Like they weren’t part of the family? It was a long time since she had allowed herself to cry, she hated to show the weakness and she would never do it in front of anyone else.

Stubbornly rubbing her eyes with the back of her hand she wiped the tears away and sat up, she forced her mind to think about Daiki whose happy smiles and laughter had her smiling slightly herself. He hadn’t looked at her like she was a freak, he had been…kind. She wondered if she would see him again, he had said that she could come and play basketball with him again tomorrow or whenever she wanted to. But, she knew it was unlikely that she was allowed outside tomorrow.

A week later the day of the first day of school was there, it was strange to start school in April and not in September like they did in England. Mac was starting a local elementary school and since she was 8 years old she would start in the second year. Her aunt and uncle had decided to dump her in the public school system, while Dudley was going to an international school with other kids from other countries and he could speak English.

“Follow me,” a woman with her hair pulled back in a tight bun said and Mac followed behind her quietly, her hands clutching the straps of her bag tightly, the only outward sign of her nerves. Her mind was spinning with questions and worries, it would be the first time she would attend a school without her cousin. Would she be able to make friends? Dudley always chased off everyone else, both physically and by spreading rumours about her being a freak and strange. This time, though… could she actually make friends? Would they like her?

They stopped in front of a classroom; Mac glanced up at the sign hanging on the top right side of the door, 2 – B. She paused when the lady held up a hand before she opened the door and said something in quick Japanese to the teacher inside the room. Soon the teacher appeared in the door and Mac saw a young woman with black hair reaching to her shoulders, she was smiling warmly at Mac.

“Good morning,” she smiled, “I’m Minami Chika, but you may call me Minami-sensei. I’ll be your teacher this year. Why don’t you come inside?”

Mac nodded silently and followed the teacher inside without looking at the strict woman she had followed here. She was instantly aware of the class sitting at their desks already all looking at her. Mac didn’t turn to look at them as she heard the whispering start.

“Settle down,” Minami called out and Mac heard the instant silence and Minami smiled again, Mac was beginning to think she did that a lot.

Mac let her long reddish black hair hid her face, for once grateful for the wild thick locks of hair and glanced up at Minami who had turned to her again, smiling encouragingly.

“Why don’t you turn to the class and introduce yourself?” Minami asked kindly before kneeling down next to her and lowered her voice, “it's fine, Potter-san. Push your hair back and look at your new friends.”

Mac inhaled and nodded, she brushed her hair away from her face and turned to look at the class. The curious stares she got had her nervous and wanting to run, but she was brave. She noticed the wide smile on one face, though, and blinked when she recognised Aomine Daiki from the basketball court. She hadn’t been able to go back, her uncle had decided that she was grounded and had kept her in her room all the time since the incident. She found the courage to speak when he was grinning at her.

“I’m Potter Mackenzie,” Mac said saying her name like they would, “I’m 8 years old and just moved to Tokyo from England. Nice to meet you.”

“Wow, you talk good Japanese for just having moved,” Minami said. “Have you known the language long?”

“No, Sensei,” Mac shook her head, “I started learning when my uncle said he had a promotion to work in Tokyo. That was six months ago.”

“Then you’re a quick learner,” Minami smiled. “Now, you can sit next to Aomine Daiki, Aomine-san, hold up your hand so Potter-san knows who you are.”

Mac was already moving toward Aomine who waved at her.

“I already met her, sensei,” Daiki said.

“That’s good, then,” Minami said.

Mac sat down on the free desk and smiled shyly at Daiki who grinned back, she turned her attention back toward the front feeling a little better.

“You never came back to the court,” Daiki said looking at her when the class ended. Mac turned to see him looking at her curiously.

“I was being punished,” Mac shrugged making Daiki frown.

“Punished? For what?” Daiki asked.

“My uncle didn’t like that I talked back to Dudley, my cousin,” Mac said quietly.

“The goon that was with you when I met you?” Daiki asked and Mac nodded. “He’s your cousin?”

“Yes,” Mac said not looking at Daiki.

Mac got up and walked out of the classroom, she was startled when she noticed Daiki following her. She glanced at him and saw him smiling at her making her blink. She was not used to people following her.

“Come on,” Daiki said, “let’s go and play basketball.”

Mac didn’t say anything but she followed after him to the court in the schoolyard, there was already some kids there but they greeted Daiki when they saw him and easily passed him the ball. Mac sat down on the bench watching Daiki play with his friends. Mac, who had just been introduced to the game, could see that Daiki was better than the others. Yet, he played with them well and they all had fun.

Mac refused to join when Daiki stopped to ask her, and he frowned at her but shrugged and went back to the game. Mac found herself watching and observing the others, it came easily to her. Her senses and eyes, despite the glasses, were sharp. She took in the way they moved, the way they passed, everything. She wished she had her sketchpad, so she could make notes or draw Daiki play because it was really something.

The bell rang and they all scuffled back to the school and into their classroom, Daiki walking beside her yet again. Mac wasn’t sure why he kept coming up to her, but she wasn’t complaining. He had a happy air around him, and she longed for it, craved it, even.

Mac sat in her room working on her homework, she had made dinner when she came home from school and had eaten some rise and a small portion of fish before she had left the kitchen just as her relatives came into the room, ready for dinner. She had heard Dudley complains that the teachers at the school were strict and that he missed his friends from Surry. Mostly because he was the leader of his gang there, here he was new and it was unfamiliar to him. No one asked how her day had been or if she liked her teachers.

Working on her homework her mind drifted to Daiki who had cheerfully told her that he’d see her tomorrow before leaving school with his ever constant basketball under one arm. She had almost asked where he was going but had kept quiet. Mac stilled when she noticed that she had written something wrong and started to look for an eraser, she turned to each side and lifted the sheets but she couldn’t find it. Annoyed she wished she could just find it when something collided with her arm, she turned and stared wide-eyed at the hoovering eraser, and it was nudging her arm like it was waiting for her. Gingerly she reached out and took the eraser from the air; it fell easily into her palm as if it had never been hovering in the air at all. What was that? More strange things happening around her? Luckily no one had seen it this time… Shaking her head she focused on her homework again.

“Kenzie,” Mac turned and saw Daiki coming up to her, his bag thrown over his shoulder and he grinned at her. “You’re here early.”

“Could say the same for you,” Mac said and started to walk toward the school again, Daiki easily falling into step beside her. She had been at the school for a month now and Daiki was continuing to come up next to her. Looking at her curiously and like he was trying to figure something out.

“I’m here to practice basketball before school starts,” Daiki said, “dad had an early meeting, so he dropped me off. I didn’t think anyone would be here so early.”

“I see,” Mac said, not saying that she had left early to get away from her family.

“Come on,” Daiki said not commenting on the lack of explanation on her part. He rarely did, Mac noticed, and she liked that about him. She followed him to the court and smiled when he let out a loud excited cheer as he started to dribble the ball around the court.

“Kenzie, catch it!” Daiki yelled and Mac managed to catch the ball in last minute before it hit her.

“You’ve got good reflexes,” Daiki commented with a laugh as Mac glared at him. He just laughed as he always did, making her roll her eyes and start to dribble the ball. It didn’t feel as unfamiliar in her hand anymore and she had better control over it as she made her way to the court.

Daiki smirked and got in a defensive position and soon the battle between them was on, and Mac even found herself laughing quietly when she managed to get past Daiki who scowled before demanding one more time.

“How did you do that?” Daiki asked when they stopped, they had noticed that the schoolyard had started to fill with kids and knew that school must start soon.

“Do what?” Mac asked confused.

“Get past me like that,” Daiki frowned. “You shouldn’t have been able to… I was covering you well!”

“You always have your weight on the left foot and I used it to my advantage,” Mac shrugged and saw his incredulous look.

“Huh?” he asked dumbly.

“I’ve observed how you play and move, and I knew you would have your weight on the left leg when you were in that position,” Mac explained and he stared at her before he burst out laughing. She frowned not knowing why he was laughing at her.

“You’ve got a good eye for basketball for someone who never played before a month ago,” Daiki said.

Mac shrugged and closed her mouth as a few of their classmates came up to them and she fell back, Daiki was immediately pulled into a conversation and Mac watched from the back as he laughed and goofed around with them.

“You left,” Daiki frowned at her as he sat down on his seat next to her in the classroom. Mac didn’t look at him only doodled in one of her notebooks as she waited for the teacher to come.

“I wanted to find my seat,” Mac said not looking up so she missed the frown on his face.

“You always pull away when others come,” Daiki said, “why?”

Mac shrugged, “I’m not very social.”

“You are with me,” Daiki pointed out.

Mac stilled and knew he told the truth, she didn’t have a problem talking with him. It was strange, really. She looked over at him and saw the unnatural serious look on his face as he watched her. She looked away again. The voice in her head said she didn’t deserve friends, and that they would leave as soon they discovered that what a freak she was.

Mac was saved from having to answer when Minami came into the classroom and the class started.

Mac ran as quick her eight-year-old feet could carry her, and it was fast, but her cousin was still after her. While Dudley wasn’t too fast, his new friends were, and they were now chasing her around the neighbourhood. Mac stumbled and fell, but she pushed herself up without taking time to feel the pain from her leg as she pushed on.

“Freak!”

“Girl! Come back here!”

She heard the yells behind her, but she didn’t stop. This was something she was used to, but she had hoped that it would stop here when she wasn’t in the same school as Dudley. Yet, he still managed to target her…

Suddenly a hand grabbed her wrist and she was pulled behind a large dumpster making her startle and a hand covered her mouth to stop her scream. She stared wide-eyed up in navy blue eyes belonging to Daiki who held a finger to his lips as he stared at her. Mac forced herself to calm down and Daiki removed his hand as they listened to the footsteps coming closer and then rush past the dumpster where they were hiding.

Mac exhaled shakily and stood up taking a couple of steps away from Daiki. It was the second time he had seen how Dudley treated her, and she hated it. She didn’t want anyone, especially him, to know. She bit down on her lip trying to keep her emotions under control. Abruptly she felt someone yank at her pants leg and looked down to see Daiki try to get a look at her leg.

“What are you doing?” Mac demanded to try to pull away.

“You’re bleeding,” Daiki said sounding a cross between angry and concern.

“Eh?” Mac blinked and looked down at her leg and saw the jeans she was wearing was ripped and some blood was on it. “Oh. I didn’t realise.”

Daiki scowled and got up, he took her hand and pulled her with him. She didn’t know why she didn’t yank her hand free, but she didn’t so she followed him. Her cousin and his friends were luckily gone.

“Daiki,” an older woman with brown hair said warmly when Mac and Daiki entered the house, Mac was looking around wide-eyed as she realised that it was Daiki’s home. She had never been there before. “Oh…who’s your friend?”

Mac looked up and saw the warm smile on the woman’s face, her face was kind and she had the same happy air around her as Daiki had. Mac wanted to explain, but before she could say anything Daiki spoke up.

“She’s my friend,” Daiki said. “Kenzie, she’s in my class.”

“Oh,” the woman said with realisation and Mac wondered why she seemed to recognise the name. She glanced shyly over at Daiki. Had he talked about her to his mum? “I’m Aomine Ayano, dear.”

“Mackenzie Potter, but everyone calls me Mac,” Mac whispered. “Daiki is the only one who calls me Kenzie.”

“I see,” Ayano said sounding a little amused and glanced between them with a look Mac couldn’t read. “Are you ok, dear?”

Mac blinked startled before she hastily nodded, she didn’t want to seem weak in front of the kind woman.

“She’s hurt,” Daiki grunted and let go of the hand Mac realised he was still holding before he stomped into the house leaving a slightly panicked Mac behind.

“Oh dear,” Ayano said and looked down at her leg, “you seem to have hurt your leg. Come inside and sit down, sweetie.”

Mac followed behind her quietly and into the kitchen where she sat down on a chair watching as Daiki’s mother started to gather some things just as Daiki entered the kitchen again with a first aid kit. He placed it on the table and his mum took over, she rolled up the leg of her jeans and frowned a little as she saw the scrape.

“I’ll need to wash it,” she said and glanced up at her, “it will sting a little.”

Mac only nodded and bit her teeth together as she poured something on the wound and it stung, just like she said, but Mac refused to let out a sound. She blinked when she felt someone take her hand and looked over to see Daiki holding it and he smiled at her for the first time that morning.

A few minutes later Ayano finished and got up, and Mac looked down to a bandaged knee. She saw Ayano look at her son with a strange look on her face before she smiled warmly and shook her head a little. Mac just thought adults were weird.

“You should be fine now,” Ayano said, “you did well.”

Mac blushed a little and looked down.

“What happened?” Ayano asked looking at the kids.

“I fell,” Mac whispered before Daiki could say anything. “I was running and I fell.”

“I see,” Ayano said again and Mac wondered what she saw… did she know? She couldn’t know!

“Thank you for your help, Aomine-san,” Mac said getting to her feet and bowed politely to the woman just like the teacher who taught them Japanese back in England had told her to do.

“Think nothing of it, Mac,” Ayano smiled kindly, “and call me Ayano-Obasan.”

Mac felt her eyes widen slightly as she stared at the woman who smiled at her again, Mac nodded carefully feeling a warmth in her chest as she did.

“You’re very good in Japanese,” Ayano commented.

“I liked the studies,” Mac said shyly.

“Perhaps you can help Daiki with his homework, I tell you, that boy is only interested in basketball.”

“Basketball is important!” Daiki spoke up defensively,

Mac just nodded and smiled a little.

“Come on, Kenzie,” Daiki said and pulled her with him and outside again. Mac followed him in silence and soon they were on the basketball court. No surprise there, Mac thought amused.

“You didn’t fall,” Daiki said abruptly.

“I did;” Mac said defensively folding her arms over her chest.

“Your cousin and three other boys were chasing you!” Daiki said, “don’t tell me you just fell!”

“I tripped when they were chasing me and fell,” Mac said glaring at him, “so I did fall!”

“With help,” Daiki wouldn’t’ let go. “Why is he bullying you? Tell your aunt and uncle!”

Mac glared at him.

“You think that will do anything good?!” Mac snapped at him. “They know and they don’t care! No one cares!”

“I care,” Daiki said quietly. “Mum would care.”

“You can’t tell her, Daiki!” Mac said suddenly worried. “You can’t tell anyone!”

“Why?” Daiki asked confused and defiant at the same time as only a child could do. “She’ll help.”

“Help with what?” Mac asked, “So, my cousin doesn’t like me. It’s not something anyone can do anything about. I only have them, Daiki. If not for them I would be in an orphanage and that’s a horrible place! I have heard all about them, and I can’t go to a place like that.”

Daiki looked at her with wide eyes and Mac felt frustrated tears fill her eyes so she quickly turned away from him so he wouldn’t see and removed her glasses to rub her eyes with the back of her hand.

“Please, Daiki,” Mac said pleadingly as she turned around and stared at him, her glasses back on.

“Fine,” Daiki agreed and Mac smiled relieved at him. “Let’s play some basketball.”

Mac laughed and he blinked and stared at her before he smiled and the sombre air around them lifted as his laughter also sounded. Mac suddenly realised, she had her first friend. A happy and warm feeling filled her chest as she caught the basketball he threw at her with his usual happy smile. All tenseness from earlier forgotten and only the two of them were left on the court. She grinned happily as she rushed into the game.

Chapter Text

1st year – Teiko

 

Mac snuck out of the house, she could hear the telly so she knew Dudley was sitting in front of it like normal, and she knew Petunia was somewhere around the house. It wasn’t like she was grounded, but if her aunt saw her she would only give her more chores and Mac had worked hard to finish the ones she already had. Besides, she wanted to see Daiki.

Rounding the corner of the street she ran to the court where she normally met her best friend and only real friend. She talked to the others in her class now, but she had trouble letting them in. They had been too easily scared by Dudley when they saw him, so she remained wary about them. Daiki glared at her cousin everytime he saw him, refusing to let him intimidating him away from Mac.

“Kenzie,” Daiki grinned spotting her as he took a break in his practicing. “I thought you wouldn’t make it.”

“I almost didn’t,” Mac said, “but I managed to sneak out before aunt Petunia gave me more chores.”

“Good,” Daiki said and threw her the ball.

Mac grinned and started to dribble the ball trying to get past Daiki who guarded her more efficiently; Mac was starting to wonder that maybe giving him pointers on how she got past him wasn’t such a good idea when he stole the ball from her. She rushed after him, and managed to get a finger on the ball just as he was about to shoot causing the ball to hit the ring of the hoop and tilt the wrong way and Mac was already past Daiki and caught the ball again.

“You little…” Daiki said but he was smiling and she smiled back as she took a small step back and threw the ball up, managing to make it curve slightly with a small movement with her wrist and the ball fell through the hoop with a familiar swish.

“Ha!” Mac said and Daiki narrowed his eyes in concentration as he picked the ball up again, he crunched down and dribbled the ball as he watched Mac, who watched right back. He uses his speed to crossover the court to get away from Mac who has a little trouble following him.

 

“Are you ready to start Teiko tomorrow?” Daiki asked after taking a sip of water and glanced at her.

“It’s strange, isn’t it?” Mac asked as answer, “to be finished with Elementary School and starting Middle School.”

“Perhaps,” Daiki shrugged, “are you joining the basketball club?”

Mac glanced at him, “I don’t think so, at least not as a player.”

“As a manager then?” Daiki asked glancing at her, “You should join as a player, Kenzie. You’re good.”

Mac just shrugged, she didn’t want to explain that she didn’t want to join the basketball team because she would be placed with the girls and she didn’t want to be away from Daiki. As a manager she could still be with the Daiki and the team he was on. She heard Daiki sigh and knew he was feeling exasperated over her answer, it wasn’t the first time they’d had this conversation.

“I would think it will be unnecessary to ask what club you’re joining,” Mac said amused as she glanced over at Daiki.

“Of course,” Daiki smirked, “I’ve heard Teiko is strong, so it should be fun playing there. I feel excited.”

Mac smiled at the genuine happiness she saw on his face as he talked, it was very clear that he meant it and was truly looking forward to it. She did herself, too, but she was also a little worried. A small nagging feeling in the pit of her stomach. She did her best to push it away though, and it was easy when she saw the happiness on his face.

“I wonder if I’ll meet other strong players there,” Daiki mused out loud.

“I’m sure you will,” Mac said smiling softly. Daiki nodded and threw the ball up in the air and balanced it on his finger spinning it around with ease.

They spent the rest of the day finding others playing streetball and Mac used the new (or not so new anymore) sketchpad that Daiki had given her, to make notes and some drawings as well as she sat on the sides observing. Later she would present what she’d seen to Daiki who would use it to grow stronger, better.

 

Mac threw on her uniform, a black skirt that reached to the middle of her thigh, maybe a little closer to her knees, and a blue shirt with a white jacket over it with the school logo on the left side of the jacket. She was pleased her aunt and uncle had been forced to buy her a new one, nothing of Dudley’s could be passed as the school uniform and Mac had been given a new one. She had of course gotten a lot more chores to do as payment, her uncle called it, but at least she would not look to different than the others. She would already stand out by being English in a Japanese school.

“Daiki!” Mac called when she saw her friend standing just outside the gate, his white jacket was open showing the light blue shirt under it and tie, and his hands pushed in his black pants pockets looking lazy and bored, but he smiled when he saw her.

“Kenzie,” Daiki greeted.

“Sorry, were you waiting long?” Mac asked.

“No,” Daiki shrugged. “Let’s go.”

Mac nodded and followed him through the gates and she saw the school, she had been there once before with Daiki and his parents to look at it when they were trying to decide which school to go to. It was as large and white as she remembered; only this time the yard was filled with students both new and old. Booths were sat up and she could see people trying to recruit members for their clubs.

Mac walked and chatted with Daiki as they passed several who tried to stop them and have them join various clubs, but they declined everyone. Mac noticed a boy with dark green hair and glasses walking past them looking stoic and serious, and he was carrying a phonebook? Why would he carry that around, Mac wondered curious as she glanced at him one more time before turning her attention back at Daiki who was talking excitedly about basketball, no surprise there.

“Sorry,” a soft voice said politely making Mac blink as she hadn’t noticed anyone near them when Daiki had been bumped into.

“My bad,” Daiki said and turned around before blinking confused. Mac turned as well and noticed that there wasn’t anyone there, who had bumped into Daiki? “Wait, what?”

“Strange,” Mac mused looking around.

“Never mind,” Daiki shrugged and they started to walk again.

Mac glanced to the side when she heard someone exclaim: “wow, you’re so tall! Please, join our Volleyball-team!”

The one they were surrounding was tall, taller than Daiki, and had purple hair and looked completely bored and lazy. In a way Daiki couldn’t even manage, and she heard him say something about it sounding like a pain in the butt. She smiled slightly.

 

“Oh, sorry,” Mac apologized when she collided with someone. She felt instantly on edge, of course she would collide with someone when she had been separated from Daiki in the crowd.

“No problem,” a cool voice said and she glanced up to see two red eyes looking at her curiously and noticed the maroon coloured hair, otherwise he was wearing the same uniform as Daiki so she knew he was a student here. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” Mac blushed slightly feeling embarrassed. “I didn’t hurt you, did I?”

“I’m fine,” he said before he nodded at her shortly and walked away just as abruptly as he had appeared in front of her. She shook her head a little before she went back to looking for Daiki.

It took a moment before she spotted his head over the others in the crowd near the door and she saw his scowl as he looked around and felt warmth spreading in her chest knowing he was looking for her as well. She saw the relief in his eyes when he spotted her and rushed over to her.

“There you are!” Daiki exclaimed, “You worried me.”

Mac smiled slightly not wanting to admit that she had been worried as well, but he knew it as he put his hand on her head, she was over a head smaller than him after all, and ruffled her hair slightly. Something he had started doing when he noticed she was feeling a little overwhelmed. He knew she didn’t like crowds, or being left on her own.

They finally found the list over the classes and Mac held her breath as she looked for her name and Daiki’s, she really hoped they would end up in the same class. Finally she found Daiki’s name and she searched the list. Her pulse raced and bit down on her lip as she neared the end of the list. There. Her name.

“We’re in the same class,” Mac said and Daiki’s eyes snapped to her and then the list that before he grinned spotting their names.

“Awesome!” Daiki grinned happily. They moved away from the board just as a boy with yellow hair and yellow eyes took their spot, he gave her a happy grin and what she guessed was a charming smile but she just looked away and followed Daiki.

&nsbp;

“The try-outs for basketball is tomorrow,” Daiki told Mac excitedly and sat down next to her in the classroom, the teacher for the next class (which was English) hadn’t arrived yet, and he had slipped out right after the last class to find out. He had spoken to an upperclassman that turned out to be on the team, and he had told him about the time and place.

Mac looked up from her drawing on the sketchpad and saw the way his blue eyes shone in barely contained eagerness, and smiled slightly.

“I see,” Mac said, “it’ll be interesting to see how it goes, then. I heard someone say that no one is accepted directly into the first strings from the first test in the try-outs. Normally the best you could hope for was the second strings, but if you end up in the third strings you should just give up.”

Daiki looked at her for a moment before he snorted.

“I’ll be first string,” he said surely and Mac tilted her head slightly in agreement, she was also sure he would be in first string. He was good enough. “I never get over how you just know things.”

Mac shrugged lightly, “I observe people and listen. It’s not that hard.”

Daiki just shook his head in amusement.

 

The next day found Mac standing by the door to the gym, leaning against the wall with her sketchpad in her hand and her eyes focused on the first years trying out for the basketball team for the first time.

“Welcome to the try-outs for Teiko basketball team,” the man with brown hair and square black glasses said getting the attention from the students in the gym. “I’m assistant coach, Sanada Naoto, and I will take you through this try-out. Next to me is the coach for the third string team, Matsuoka Daigo, and before you ask; we split the club up in three strings, and it depends on your talent which string you will be assigned to. So please show us everything you’ve got today.”

Sanada continued telling them about the club and what was expected by the members of the basketball team, regardless which string they got assigned to. Mac was pleased to see that even Daiki was listening, he was known for dozing off when he found something boring and uninteresting, especially if it kept him from playing basketball.

Soon the kids were splitting into groups and started the exercises and Mac flipped open her sketchpad as she sat down and started to take notes on what she observed. Her eyes followed Daiki closely, but she didn’t overlook the others either. She wanted to know who would be his biggest rival and if there was anyone who could match him in skill.

The exercises consisted off running to check their stamina, jumping to test their agility, dribbling, defending, scoring, and going one on one against regulars from first string. From what Mac could tell Daiki was standing out the most, but there were three others who also stood out. Mac was unsure what their names were, but she had seen them the day before. The green haired with the phonebook, the purple haired with the lazy attitude and the maroon haired one who she had bumped into, all looked to be strong players. Though, there was one more that seemed interesting, but Mac knew he wouldn’t be among the first strings, she doubted he even would be among the second strings and she felt for him. Her eyes found the teal haired boy with the determined look in his light blue eyes, he looked much smaller than almost everyone there, and he was almost invisible in that large crowd. Something about him made her feel like he really loved basketball and needed to be on the first strings, she wasn’t sure what though.

“Good,” Sanada called and nodded, “we will meet again tomorrow and we will have the results ready for you then. Thank you.”

“Thank you!” they all chanted at the same time.

 

“What are you doing in here, miss?”

Mac glanced up to see an older man with thin, combed back lightly grey hair and a well-kept goatee looking down at her, he had a kind face but Mac wasn’t fooled. He could be ruthless if he wanted to. His eyes were narrowed down as he looked at her.

“I was waiting on my friend to finish the try-out,” Mac said quietly as she got to her feet feeling nervous and refused to shift on her feet in front of the older man.

“And what are you writing?” he asked curiously glancing down at the sketchpad in her hand. “I noticed you writing through the whole try-out, looking very focused.”

Just then Sanada and Matsuoka joined them both looking curiously at her making Mac feel uncomfortable and nervous, but she held her back straight and refused to look down.

“I always write down notes when Daiki plays,” Mac explained softly, “we use it so he can develop further.”

“Daiki?” the unnamed man asked.

“Aomine Daiki,” Mac nodded, “he’s my friend. I’m sorry if you didn’t want me here, I was just waiting for him and thought I would make notes like I normally do.”

The men looked at her and Mac noticed how Sanada looked at the older man with a curious look in his brown eyes.

“May I see it?” the older man asked holding out his hand.

Mac hesitated and her hand unknowingly tightened around the sketchpad, she didn’t have good experiences with handing it over and she didn’t want to lose it. The man seemed to see the hesitation in her and smiled at her.

“You’ll get it back, I promise,” he said and Mac realised she didn’t have much choice so she nodded and carefully handed it over to him.

She watched nervously, biting lightly down on her lower lip, as she waited. She saw the arched brow from the grey-haired man and the other two coaches leaned forward slightly to have a look. Sanada glanced toward her before looking back at the sketchpad.

“Kenzine!” Mac looked to the side when she heard Daiki’s voice and saw him coming toward her, he had put on his jacket and grabbed his bag so he looked ready to go to the street court they normally went to. He glanced from her to the three men and frowned when he realised they had her sketchpad. “What’s going on?!”

Mac shook her head at him and grabbed his arm when he was closer, “they just noticed that I took notes like I normally do when you play, Daiki. Calm down.”

Daiki still scowled at the watching men and the older man smiled kindly and handed the sketchpad back to Mac who grabbed it.

“What’s your name, miss?” he asked.

“Potter Mackenzie, sir,” Mac answered.

“Foreigner?” Matsuoka asked.

“I’m from England, sir,” Mac said withholding the sarcastic ‘obviously’ she wanted to say.

“Have you been in Japan long, Potter-san?” the grey-haired man asked.

“Since I was 8 year old,” Mac said frowning slightly wondering why they were asking her all these questions.

“Alright,” the man nodded, “please come tomorrow as well, Potter-san. See you then.”

The man turned and walked away with the other two following behind him. Mac blinked after them confused and looked to Daiki who also looked confused.

 

Mac winced when she heard Petunia’s loud and screeching voice the moment she stepped through the door, she was later than normal and obviously Dudley were home so that mean she was supposed to be home as well. How she was supposed to know when Dudley was home and come home before him was beyond her, but that was expected from her.

“Girl! Get in here!”

Mac walked into the kitchen where her aunt was glaring at her and had crossed her arms over her thin chest, her long neck seemed unnatural long with the way she was holding her head to look down at her.

“Yes, aunt Petunia?” Mac asked quietly.

“You know what time it is?” Petunia asked. “You should have been home hours ago! I had to cook dinner myself! It’s your job to do so!”

Mac inhaled and forced her temper down as she tried to not glare at her aunt.

“I’m sorry, aunt Petunia,” Mac said.

“Go to your room and there will be no dinner for you tonight,” Petunia snapped.

Mac did as told and was glad she had eaten over at Daiki’s house before coming home, Ayano had insisted on her joining them for dinner when she saw her and Daiki at the local park on her way back from work.

 

Mac felt nervous when she entered the gym the next day, she hadn’t been able to sleep well last night thinking about what the older man and the two coaches wanted from her, why had they asked her to come back the next day? No, it was more like an order for her to come back. Was she in trouble? But, then they would have said something then and there, wouldn’t they?

She took her position by the door like the day before and watched as the same group of students were lined up all dressed in the training clothes. She smiled slightly when she met Daiki’s eyes, he grinned back.

“I will now announce the test results!” Sanada called out, his voice carrying loudly over the silent gym. The nerves and anticipation was tangible in the gym as everyone was waiting anxiously on the results.

“We will start with the third string. If your name is called, go stand in front of the third string coach,” Sanada said before he started to list a group of names and Mac watched as one by one called out and went to stand by Matsuoka who looked stern next to Sanada. She remembered most from the test the day before and wasn’t surprised to see them called to the third string. When the last name was called, Kuroko Tetsuya, and she recognised the teal-haired boy from before that she felt had something more in him, she still wasn’t surprised but was slightly disappointed to find him with the third strings.

“Next I will announce the second string;” Sanada said brining Mac’s attention away from the stunned or was it perhaps disappointed form of Kuroko Tetsuya who still hadn’t moved. She noticed that most of the remaining players looked pleased and accepted that they had made second string before Sanada had called out the names. She realised that there would be some called to the first string with the way he phrased his statement, and she was fairly sure that Daiki would be in first string.

“Next I will announce the first string,” Sanada said and Mac smiled where she sat watching. Daiki was left standing on the floor together with the other three she had noticed before. She saw the clear shock with the others, though, and felt a little amused by it. She saw the smile on Daiki’s face, or it looked more like a small smirk, and knew he was pleased.

“No 8, Aomine Daiki.”

“No 11, Midorima Shintaro,” oh, that was the green-haired one with the phonebook, Mac realised. He didn’t betray anything of what he felt on his face as he continued to stare straight ahead.

“No 23, Murasakibara Atsushi,” that was the lazy purple haired on, he still looked bored and lazy, Mac noticed.

“No 29, Akashi Seijuro,” was the last one, Mac recognised him as the one with maroon hair and red eyes she had collided with. He looked calm and like he hadn’t expected anything else.

Mac saw the third- and second string players were staring at the new first string players with both awe and some fear, like they couldn’t believe that someone actually made it to first string right away. Mac snorted quietly, that was the reason they hadn’t made it. They settled to join the second string the moment they heard it was hard to join the first string.

“Now, the last member will be as a manager,” Sanada’s voice brought her out of her musings as her green eyes snapped to the assistant coach who was now looking straight at her. “Potter Mackenzie.”

Mac blinked as she felt everyone turn to look at her and she felt the need to escape, she bit down on her lip as she forced her legs to move forward and not turn and escape through the door like she wanted to do. Daiki smiled encouraging to her and she focused on him and found herself calming down slightly.

Sanada ended the meeting and told everyone to split into the different strings where they would be instructed further.

Mac swallowed as she still felt eyes on her, but blinked when Daiki was in front of her.

“That’s great, Kenzie!” he grinned. “I knew you would be our manager!”

 

Mac followed Daiki who was chatting constantly next to her about basketball and how happy he was that she had made manager without really signing up for it yet. She listened like she always did, but didn’t answer. He didn’t expect her to either, this was very normal for the two of them, after all.

“Attention!” Sanada called and Mac realised they had entered another gym and saw what she assumed to be the first string team already practicing. She also recognised the older grey-haired man standing by the side-line watching them.

The players stopped and turned to Sanada and the entering newcomers, Mac saw the raised eyebrow from a couple of the players and the way they exchanged looks. They quickly lined up though and looked at them curiously, Mac noticed they also looked at her in particular.

“I’m the head coach, Shirogane Kozo,” the grey-haired man from the day before said and Mac felt her eyes widen. He was the head coach? “Nijimura-san, introduce yourself.”

Mac looked over to see one of the players who had helped with the test the day before step forward, his short black hair a little sweaty after the work out he’d just been through but his grey eyes seemed kind, Mac thought from where she was observing him.

“I’m Nijimura Shuzo, Captain, and second year,” he said.

“Kubota Masaya,” the next one said his dark hair covering his eyes and most of his face, Mac wondered how he even could keep an eye on the ball with the hair in the way like that.

“Sekiguchi Toru,” the third one said, his hair a dirty blond and spiky on top while he had an intense look about it.

Mac listed as the rest introduced themselves, and made sure to notice everything she could about them. Finally it was the first years turn and Mac waited until everyone was done and found everyone looking at her. She saw Nijimura glance at his coach before looking at her again.

“Potter Mackenzie,” she said softly, “but everyone calls me Mac.”

“Um, coach?” Nijimura asked breaking the silence that followed her introduction.

“She’s our new manager,” Shirogane stated and focused his eyes on Mac who tightened her grip on her sketchpad slightly and forced her breathing to remain calm. She felt Daiki shift next to her, and it gave her the courage to stay still. “She correctly deduced who would go to which string yesterday, just from watching the try-outs and made detailed notes on the strongest players and also their weaknesses, something many will have trouble doing by just watching them play one time.”

Mac looked down unable to look at the coach and wanting to hide the blush in her cheek, no one but Daiki complimented her on her basketball analytic skills or on anything really, not that many knew about her analysing Daiki’s plays.

 

Mac sat on the bench next to Shirogane with a new notebook; Shirogane had given her one to use for the team, saying she could use the sketchpad for her own use. She was ok with that, so she took the book and started to write as she watched everyone play. The second and third years against the first years, it seemed cruel but Mac knew it was to test how the first years would work together without really knowing each other. She had been told to focus on Nijimura and Sekiguchi as well as Midorima and Akashi, so she did. It felt strange and almost wrong not to focus on Daiki.

From what she could tell from the practice match she knew that Nijimura strengths was his stamina and mental strength, he also had a nice drive that even challenged Daiki. She wrote down more details on his movements and how he could do things easier.

Sekiguchi was fast and that was his greatest strength, he also had a good combination going with Masaya, they seemed so used to playing together that they knew where the other was on the court at all times.

Midorima was calm and seemed collected through the whole game and Mac noted how hard it would be to push him out of his comfort zone. Yet, he worked well enough with the others and made shots not many could make, so she wrote down that his shooting ability was his strongest skill.

Akashi was…strong. He was calm like Midorima, and seemed content to be the playmaker of the team, the one to get the ball to the one in the best position to score, but Mac knew he had a need to win and would do anything to make it happen. He stood out as a leader, and she wrote it down.

She was barely aware that the coach was glancing at her every now and then and didn’t see the curious and yet calculating look in his grey eyes as he watched her. She was to absorbed into her bubble to pay him much attention, which was the only time she wasn’t aware about where everyone around her was.

Finally Sanada called off the game and the first year had manage to get a draw, something that was well done. Shirogane got up and spoke a few words to the players while Mac still scribbled in her notebook.

“Potter-san,” Shirogane called and Mac’s head snapped up to look at him, he was smiling kindly at her. “May you please share your observations of the four players I asked you to follow?”

There was a murmur of curious question among the team as Mac swallowed and nodded before standing up.

“Coach,” Daiki spoke up and Shirogane looked at him. “Perhaps, you should have her give the cliff-notes, because otherwise it can take a while.”

Mac huffed and Daiki grinned at her while Shirogane glanced at the notebook and noticed that several pages was used and had to admit that maybe the newcomer was right.

“Alright,” he agreed, “let’s hear the cliff-notes.”

“Um, alright,” Mac said quietly, “well, first is Nijimura-sempai who’s strength lies in his stamina and mental strength, he also has a drive that could be used more often and in better positions. Used correctly he’ll be a more dangerous weapon who can challenge the best of defences.”

Nijimura arched a brow in surprise as he heard the summed up notes she had taken by observing him and he had to admit it was correct.

“Next is Sekiguchi-sempai, who’s strength lies in his speed and combination play with Masaya-sempai,” Mac continued, “though this can be a weakness as well since the opponent will realise and do what they can to stop it and thus stopping his strength.”

Sekiguchi looked thoughtful and exchanged a look with Masaya who shrugged a little.

“Midorima-san, is calm and will be hard to get stressed to make a mistake, his strengths lies in his shooting and will be able to develop an even more accurate shooting range,” Mac said, “he works well enough with the others, but could be better at it.”

Midorima barely made a sign of having heard what she said, but his eyes narrowed a little as he stared at her.

“Akashi-san is a leader who will do whatever it takes to win,” Mac started on the last one, “he’s strong and calm like Midorima-san, but will use it to help his team around him. He’s the playmaker who makes sure the ball gets to who has the best chance to score. His strength is with his observation skills of the court and of the players around him.”

Akashi arched a brow and looked at her curiously and calculating as he nodded his head in acknowledgment to her observations.

Mac glanced over at Shirogane who smiled at her and nodded looking pleased. He turned back to the others and ended the practice and sent the boys into the locker rooms to change. Daiki ruffled Mac’s hair as he passed her giving her a thumb up before running after the others and disappearing into the locker room.

 

“Kenzie;” Daiki called when he was finished, he left the room with Seijuro and Shintaro who both looked over at her where she was tapping her pen against her lip clearly thinking. She looked up and her eyes glanced over the three boys before she got up and was about to pack her notebook when Sanada stopped in front of her.

“Potter-san,” he said, “coach asked if he could borrow your notebook tomorrow and read all of your notes on the practice match today.”

Mac just shrugged and handed the notebook over to the assistant coach not that surprised he’d asked for it.

“You’ll get it back on tomorrows practice,” Sanada nodded at her before turning and left the gym. Mac just shook her head a little and turned to Daiki who frowned slightly as he glanced after the assistant coach.

“Daiki,” Mac called softly, “are you ready to go?”

“Sure,” he said, “we’ll stop by Maji Burger.”

“You have to eat healthier than that,” Mac scolded him, “you can’t live on burgers.”

“I need to grow,” Daiki protested as they left the gym and a couple of intrigued first years behind.

Chapter Text

1st year – Teiko – August/September (right after nationals)

 

The weeks, then months, flew by with schoolwork and sports activity, and in Mac’s case chores at home, but she was thriving at school. The schoolwork was difficult, but she managed to get good grades (she just didn’t show her report card at home so they didn’t see her getting better grades than Dudley, it wasn’t like they asked anyway). She had quickly found her place among the basketball club first strings as their manager, Shirogane had her take notes on every player on first string and also join the second strings at times to see who progressed the most and had the best chance to join the first strings.

While she mostly talked to Daiki still, she would talk about basketball and their progress with the other players. They had learned that she didn’t talk much, and seemed to accept it after a few days of trying to get her to talk. Daiki had actually snapped at them at one point when Masaya and Sekiguchi had been too persistent in getting her to talk. Nijimura had intervened before Daiki could go into full protective mode, as Mac referred to it, and things had calmed down.

Right now Mac was wondering why she even bothered as she walked beside two girls from her class who also joined the basketball club as managers, but they were mostly with second string and only helped with the practical aspects with the first strings. She just wanted the conversation beside her to end as they were talking about…boys. More in particularly Daiki. Mac fought to keep the possessive scowl off her face as they gushed over the newfound Ace with Teiko basketball club. The one who had led the team to 1st place in Nationals.

“…oh, he carried the game last night…” Maki Kazuka sighed dreamingly as Yamasaki Atsuko giggled next to her.

“…hi Mac, are you Aomine-san’s girlfriend?” Maki asked bringing Mac out of her inner torture and she glanced over at the two staring girls, she saw some jealousy in their eyes but also curiosity.

“No,” Mac said shortly.

“You’re so lucky to be childhood friends with him,” Yamasaki said.

Mac didn’t say anything but she had to agree that she was lucky to be friends with Daiki, he had saved her and she would forever be grateful for that. She kept walking and soon the two girls followed with their basket with towels.

“Ohhh….” Mac turned and saw Maki trip slightly and the basket slipped out of her hands and would have fallen to the ground if not for a pair of arms that caught it and helped steady her.

“Are you ok?” the cool voice of Akashi Seijuro asked looking at Maki with polite concern.

“Y-yes,” Maki blushed and nodded.

“Good,” Seijuro said, “thank you for your effort. I appreciate your daily support.”

Mac rolled her eyes slightly at the charm from Seijuro, but she had to admit it was a good thing he did. Showing the ones helping the team that they mattered.

Seijuro glanced over at her and nodded politely before he called for Shintaro who was waiting behind him and they walked away leaving two swooning girls and one slightly amused and slightly exasperated over the new gushing they rushed into. Why her, she moaned inwardly as she started to walk again.

 

Daiki walked into his house and smiled when he smelled the food before he frowned slightly, he wished he could have brought Mac home with him so she could eat with them. He knew she sometimes was sent to her room without food and that was just wrong. His conscience told him to tell someone, tell his mum, but he had promised. If he told…then Mac would be mad at him and he didn’t want that. Scowling at himself he threw his bag by the door just as he heard footsteps coming running toward him.

“Nii-chan!” Sayuri, his little sister, yelled and came running out of the living room and Daiki smiled as he caught her.

“Hi, Sayuri-chan,” Daiki smiled.

“Where’s nee-chan?” Shiro asked from the doorway and looked around, his wide blue eyes clouding in disappointment when he didn’t see Mac.

“She’s home,” Daiki said.

Shiro frowned and turned and left without another word making Daiki shake his head slightly. Sayuri looked at Daiki from his side where she still held his hand and they started to move toward the kitchen.

“Didn’t Mac-nee-chan want to come home today?” Sayuri asked just as they reached the kitchen and Daiki saw Shiro sitting by the table and pouted.

“Welcome home, Daiki,” Ayano smiled at her son from the counter where she was making the final preparations for dinner, but also looked curious about Sayuri’s question.

Aomine Takehiro also looked over at his oldest son from where he had been looking at Shiro with a confused look and raised a brow.

“She had to go home today, Sayuri-chan,” Daiki answered his six year old sister who much like her twin brother started to pout slightly.

“But I wanted to tell her something,” Shiro muttered.

“I am sure you can tell her later,” Ayano told her son and patted his shoulder. “Mac has a home too, you know. Her family will sometimes want to see her as well.”

Daiki turned away to hid his scowl at that and missed his fathers concerned look and ignored the twins whining as he left the kitchen to go to the bathroom to wash up before dinner. If only… what should he do?

 

Mac sighed as she saw Daiki staring out of the window and on the empty basketball court in the schoolyard instead of listening and taking notes on the Social Studies class. He was to easily distracted, Mac thought before turning her attention to the front and the teacher who was going through some old Japanese history. His voice lulled on and on and Mac was writing notes the best she could.

“…and that’s it for today.”

Mac closed the notebook as the teacher ended the class and got up, she purposely knocked into Daiki who blinked and startled before looking around until he finally looked at Mac who arched a brow at him.

“Come on,” was all Mac said and turned to leave not watching as Daiki hurriedly packed his things and followed after her.

“You know, I think I could score more goals,” Daiki said as he caught up and shot her a look. “In the next match, I mean.”

Mac glanced at him and nodded, “I’m sure you could.”

Daiki nodded and grinned, “I wish classes were fun. Like basketball.”

“You wish everything was like basketball,” Mac snorted and Daiki laughed.

Mac noticed someone looking at them curiously but they looked away when they saw her looking and she turned her eyes straightforward. She didn’t like being watched.

“Shiro was real disappointed when you didn’t come home with me yesterday,” Daiki said bringing Mac out of her musings and she smiled slightly. “I tell you, he likes you more than me.”

“Shiro is cute and adorable,” Mac said.

Daiki pouted, “he’s six.”

Mac glanced at him amused, “you jealous?”

“No,” Daiki denied but Mac chuckled quietly but didn’t say anything else.

 

Mac was on her way home having talked to Shirogane and Sanada about her latest notes when she paused as she passed the third gym and frowned. She thought she had heard something, but what? Who would be there this late? She was already in trouble not being home yet. She was about to continue when she heard it again, the sound of a basketball against the parquet. Letting her curiosity take over she moved to the door and gently pushed it open and stepped into the large and seemingly empty gym.

Her eyes scanned the room when the sound again got her attention and her eyes widened when she saw Kuroko Tetsuya dribbling the ball between some cones he had put up. His light blue eyes were determined and sweat was dripping off his forehead, but he didn’t seem to care or notice as he kept dribbling the ball. She kept standing there for a moment and she took in everything she saw, like before she thought there was something different with him. He had a passion for the game unlike any other, well perhaps not unlike Daiki, but most others.

With one last look she turned away and slipped unseen out of the gym and made her way home knowing she had to or she would probably be locked out for the night. Vernon had threatened her with it often enough and she would prefer not to sleep outside.

 

“You know something, Daiki,” Mac said a few days later and it was a break between maths and English.

“Know what?” Daiki asked curiously.

“Do you believe in ghosts?” Mac asked careful to keep a straight face as she waited for his response.

“Ghosts?” Daiki asked confused, “there are no such things as ghosts.”

“Really?” Mac said pursing her lips, “I could swear I heard ghosts inside the third gym a few nights ago… Who else would be there so late? I mean, not even the first string players stays that late to practice. And I heard this used to be a burial place, I think sensei mentioned it in one of our classes.”

Mac saw how Daiki listened and seemed to think about what she said; he was frowning like he was thinking about it. She hid her smile as his eyes widen before he shook his head almost frantically.

“No, no,” he said, “there has to be another explanation.”

“If you say so,” Mac shrugged, “but I’m telling you. There’s a ghost in there and I think it’s playing basketball.”

 

Daiki grumbled at himself when he found himself walking toward the third gym later after Mac had gone home, saying she had to make dinner and couldn’t stay out tonight so he didn’t have anyone to play basketball with. He was not going to see if there was a ghost in the gym, he was just going to…to prove Mac wrong. What kind of ghost would hang out in a school anyway? If he was, well, dead, he would not spend his afterlife hanging around in a school. So boring.

He opened the door and walked inside, the gym was light and he saw noting as he entered the gym. There was no sound and no proof of anyone being in there since the third strings practice earlier that day. He snorted and thought that Mac had just been yanking his chains, when he heard it. The sound of a basketball hitting the parquet and he turned around wide eyed and saw a basketball bouncing on the parquet seemingly entering the floor out of nowhere and…

“UUUUAAAAWWWWHHHH!”

Daiki squatted down with his hand over his ears as he muttered the same phrase over and over again.

“Have mercy, have mercy, have mercy…”

He should have stayed away… what was he thinking going here by himself?

“Who are you?” A voice behind him asked and it sounded…normal?

Daiki turned and saw a teal-haired boy staring at him with light blue eyes wide in curiousness as he tilted his head slightly as he stared at him.

“Aomine-kun?” he asked dragging the name out a little like he was unsure he got it right, or just maybe was surprised to see him in there.

Daiki got up and laughed a little feeling slightly embarrassed as he looked at the boy who had said his name was Kuroko Tetsuya, a third string player, and fellow first year student.

“I heard rumours about a ghost in the gym, and I thought you were him,” Daiki explained, but inwardly he was grumbling that there never was a ghost and Mac had tricked him. She would laugh if she found out he had screamed… she could never know! He decided that then and there. It would be his secret.

“I’m just staying late to practice;” Tetsuya said.

“That’s amazing,” Daiki commented, “most of the first string guys don’t do that.”

Daiki thought back to the comment Mac had said, practically the same as he just told Kuroko. She knew he was here practicing and she had made him go and see him by himself without really telling him. He almost laughed when he realised her setting him up with someone who clearly loved basketball the same as him. She probably predicted what he would do next as well.

“Okay, I know,” Daiki said startling Kuroko slightly. “I know she’s behind this, but I’ll practice with you here everyday. One day we’ll stand on the same court!”

“Are you sure?” Tetsuya asked wide eyed and slightly disbelievingly.

“Of course,” Daiki grinned, “it’ll be fun. I might even get Kenzie to help, she’s great. Just wait and see.”

Tetsuya blinked but nodded looking a little shocked.

 

Mac smiled when she heard Daiki talk about his meeting Kuroko Tetsuya the previous day, and she knew he would be too curious and had to check if there really was a ghost in the gym. From the sound of it the meeting had gone well and Daiki had promised to practice with Tetsuya.

“Will you come and join us, Kenzie?” Daiki asked and Mac glanced at him.

“If you want,” Mac said and Daiki nodded.

“He’s got the passion for the game, but he still lacks in certain areas,” Daiki said, “I think you might be able to help him.”

Mac was not surprised by Daiki’s request, she had expected it to be honest. She grabbed her sketchpad and followed Daiki out of the gym, their practice with the first strings were over and they walked to the third gym. When they got closer they heard the sound of basketball and knew Tetsuya was inside.

“Tetsu!” Mac arched a brow, Daiki had already given him a nickname? Well, he had with her as well at their very first meeting, but not since then. So, he must really liked Tetsuya, Mac thought. She hid her frown as she pushed a strange and uncomfortable feeling in her gut away as she blinked when the teal haired boy appeared in front of them.

“Aomine-kun,” Tetsuya said before glancing over at her, “Potter-san.”

“Call me Mac,” Mac said with a small smile, “everyone does.”

“This is Kenzie,” Daiki grinned, “Kenzie, this is Kuroko Tetsuya.”

Mac nodded politely at the teal haired boy who nodded back looking shyly at her before looking at Daiki.

“I told you I would practice with you and that Kenzie would help us,” Daiki said, “she’s the best manager and analyst there is. With her help you’ll be sure to develop further!”

Tetsuya looked away from Daiki and over at Mac who saw the questions in his light blue eyes, he looked adorable, Mac thought. Like a lost puppy or something, she smiled a little.

“I’ll help you anyway I can,” Mac said, “but I’ll need to see you play and see what your strengths and weaknesses are.”

His eyes dropped but he nodded.

 

Mac sat on the bench watching Tetsuya play with Daiki a small frown on her face as she filled the pages with information. She was not sure how to go further, but she knew there was something there. Her eyes scanned the court as her pen flew over the pages.

“We’ll meet tomorrow as well,” Mac said getting up and interrupting their playing. “I have to get home before my uncle goes mad. Kuroko-kun, please don’t give you. I see it in your eyes; you’re close to giving up. You’re different from most players, but that doesn’t mean that you’re useless. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“O-okay,” Tetsuya said while Daiki frowned at her and she gave him a look that had him sighing and nod in acceptance. She waved and left the gym, her mind thinking about what she had seen. She remembered Seijuro saying something about wanting something different on the team that they needed it to be sure to win. Tetsuya would be different, but how was she going to get them to see it?

 

Daiki frowned as he looked at Tetsuya and saw the stunned look in his eyes, he had gotten better at reading the smaller boy.

“What did she mean, Tetsu?” Daiki asked and saw Tetsuya sigh.

“I…I was thinking about quitting basketball,” Tetsuya admitted.

“What?!” Daiki asked shocked, “why?!”

“I like basketball, but I can’t help the team,” Tetsuya said looking down and closed his eyes.

“There’s no such thing as a player we don’t need,” Daiki said frowning slightly.

Tetsuya’s eyes flew open as he stared at Daiki with wide eyes.

“You might not play in games, but I can’t believe someone who stays so late to practice is completely useless. I can’t guarantee you’ll make it if you don’t give up, but once you give up you’ll have nothing!” Daiki declared. “Besides, didn’t Kenzie tell you to keep playing? She’ll work with you and you’ll find your way. She’s good like that.”

Tetsuya smiled slightly and nodded.

 

“You’re late,” a voice sneered behind her in English and Mac recognised her cousins voice. She turned and saw his bulky form as he deliberately tried to seem larger to intimidate her.

“So are you;” Mac snapped back.

“I’m allowed,” Dudley sneered, “you’re not. You can’t be trusted. Always running around with that…boy of yours. Have he gotten tired of you? Is that why he’s not walking you home like a little baby?”

Mac glared at Dudley before turning and starting to walk away, his taunting voice following her but she ignored it, or she tried to.

“He’s not really friends with you, you know, he’s just feeling sorry for the poor little orphan who’s got nothing and no one who cares about you,” Dudley continued.

Mac fisted her hands, her nails digging into her palm as she pushed the words out of her mind. She knew Daiki was her friend. Her real and true friend. Nothing would change that. She just had to stop listening to Dudley who wanted to get her in trouble. Speeding up she walked away from him, she could hear him panting behind her trying to keep up but soon he gave up. They were almost at their home now and she just wanted to go to bed and sleep.

 

The next two weeks went quickly and they practiced with Tetsuya every day after their first string practice and Mac liked seeing the happy look on Daiki’s face as he played with Tetsuya, she had still not played with them but that was mostly because she didn’t want to show her hand just yet. She would play when it was only her and Daiki, and on Saturdays when they went to the street courts and play streetball with the teens and sometimes young adults there.

“Mac,” a voice called and said girl looked up to find Seijuro, Shintaro and Atsushi standing in front of her where she was sitting with her sketchpad working on her latest observations of Tetsuya and what she wanted him to do next to improve. The one calling her was of course Seijuro; he was the only one besides the Captain and Daiki who would interrupt her when she was writing in her sketchpad.

“Akashi-kun,” Mac answered with a blank look on her face.

“Where’s Aomine-kun?” Seijuro asked his red eyes never looking away from her. “He’s been disappearing right after practice every night now, and so have you.”

The curiosity as well as demand was clear in his voice and Mac pondered what to tell him, she knew where Daiki was, of course. Looking at the Vice-Captain she didn’t betray what she was thinking as she suddenly stood up and closed her sketchpad with a quiet snap.

“I’ll show you,” Mac said and turned to walk out of the gym, she knew they were following her. Seijuro curious and she suspected Shintaro also was curious about her demand. It wasn’t normal for her, after all. Normally she would give them a short reply and go back to seemingly ignoring them. She even felt Atsushi glancing at her from behind as he snacked on a bag of chips.

They walked across the yard and soon found themselves by the door to the third gym and Mac pushed the door open and led the way inside. They saw Daiki standing not that far off and at first it looked like he was talking with himself, but then they spotted the other boy he was talking to and Seijuro blinked before arching a brow.

“Aomine,” Seijuro said and said boy turned toward them.

“Akashi,” Daiki greeted.

“You’ve been disappearing from practices lately,” Seijuro said, “this is where you go?”

Mac noticed how he glanced at Tetsuya curiously before he looked over at her with a pensive look in his red eyes. She knew he was aware she had brought them here to see and meet Tetsuya, but she just met his eyes without saying anything.

“Yes, we always use this gym to practice,” Daiki shrugged glancing over at Mac.

“Hm,” Seijuro said as his eyes found Tetsuya again. “I’m interested in him.”

Mac almost smiled, but she kept her face blank and kept watching from behind. She saw Shintaro glance at Seijuro who didn’t seem to notice.

 

Mac sat down next to Tetsuya who was looking pensively at the now empty court, only Daiki was in there a few feet away twirling a ball on his finger knowing Mac was the best one to talk to Tetsuya right now.

“He can be a little blunt and harsh in his words,” Mac broke the silent, “but he’s always honest.”

Tetsuya glanced over at her and saw her looking straight forward.

“He’s right, you know,” Mac said, “I told you before. Your ability to fade into the background is your strength, you can use it to help your team. Make them stronger.”

“But how can I use my lack of presence?” Tetsuya asked slightly frustrated. “How do I do that? What can I do to help the team? All I can do is pass and assist other players…”

“Well, Akashi can’t do everything,” Daiki spoke up, “there must be something only you can do.”

Mac smiled a little and nodded as she saw how Tetsuya turned to look at him.

“Like what?”

“Like a pass that curves like crazy,” Daiki exclaimed waving his arms to make his point, “like; ‘swoosh!’”

Mac rolled her eyes at her best friend who was gesturing wildly.

“Never mind him,” Mac sighed, “look, I have some ideas but it will be best if you figure something out yourself as well. Let’s talk more tomorrow after you’ve had time to think about it.”

Tetsuya nodded and Mad got up making Daiki walk up to her and follow her out of the gym.

 

Mac grinned when Tetsuya came up with parts of the answer the next day as he presented her with the book he had found about misdirection techniques. She didn’t notice the way he blinked when she grinned or the way Daiki momentarily frowned as he looked at Tetsuya.

“I knew you could figure it out, Kuroko-kun,” Mac said. “Now, let’s get to work.”

Tetsuya nodded and she pulled out her sketchpad for him to look at her notes, Daiki hoovered close by watching but never speaking up. Mac glanced at him questioningly a few times but he didn’t say anything and she couldn’t figure out why he was quiet.

“So if…” Tetsuya said trailing off and Mac focused on him again.

“If you are to use this technique it is important that you understand fully what it is and how to fully use it,” Mac said and went on to describe what misdirection was and how to best use it.

 

The next month and a half was used to develop the technique so he was able to show it to Akashi and prove he had a place on the team. Mac and Daiki had both helped with his work and because of that he was ready much faster than if he had been working on his own, also Mac’s personal notes and analyse helped him develop further.

“I told you she’s good at it, didn’t I?” Daiki grinned at Tetsuya as they walked up to the gym where Seijuro and the rest of the first strings were practicing, Mac was already there because she had to talk to Shirogane and Sanada before practice.

“Oi, Aomine,” Nijimura called, “you’re almost late.”

“Almost isn’t being late, Captain,” Daiki quipped back and the Captain rolled his eyes before jumping when he suddenly noticed the person beside Daiki. “Oh, this is Kuroko Tetsuya. He’s here to see Akashi.”

“Ok,” Nijimura said slightly confused but he nodded politely at them before walking away.

Daiki and Tetsuya walked further into the gym and spotted Seijuro dribbling the ball but he stopped when he saw them.

“Ah, Aomine, Kuroko,” he said, “I haven’t seen you in a month and a half, I’m impressed. I expected it to take longer. Are you ready?”

Tetsuya nodded and Daiki grinned, but he remained silent.

“Ok,” Seijuro said.

“Let him show you in a match, Akashi-kun,” Mac interrupted as she joined them with Shirogane and Sanada right behind her both men looking curious.

 

Mac stood beside Shirogane and Sanada with Nijimura when the practice match started, and she saw how the others looked down at him and she hid her frown at that. She knew Tetsuya would prove them wrong.

If not for the fact that she had expected it she wouldn’t have seen it happening, but she did so she saw how Tetsuya suddenly appeared and changed the direction of the ball catching the others off guard.

“Eh?”

“What?”

Mac hear the reaction from Sanada and Nijimura who both visibly startled as they saw how the ball suddenly changed direction and a player who had not expected to get the ball suddenly had it in his hands.

“Shoot!” Tetsuya yelled and the player did and scored.

“Where did he come from?”

“When did he get there?”

“What’s this?” Nijimura asked as he stared wide eyed at the court, “his passes are surprising. But how could they lose sight of him during a game?”

“Misdirection,” Seijuro spoke up and Mac ignored his explanation of how it was used in magic tricks as she kept watching the game.

 

“Starting today, you’re on the first string basketball team,” Matsuoka said and allowed himself a small smile as he looked at Tetsuya, “this is your chance.”

“Thank you,” Tetsuya said barely containing his glee.

Mac watched from the door and smiled lightly before she made her way into the offices.

“Hi, Matsuoka-sensei,” Mac said quietly, “I’m here to get Kuroko-san.”

“Potter-san,” Matsuoka nodded, “go ahead.”

Mac nodded and gestured for Tetsuya to follow her. They walked in silence until they reached the gym, and Mac smiled a little at him as she pointed to the door and he walked through it finding himself with the attention of everyone in the first string on himself. Mac had slipped inside and away from him to take her place next to the coaches.

“Tetsu,” Daiki smiled warmly at him.

“Hey, I’ve been waiting on you,” Seijuro said, “welcome to the first string of the Teiko Middle School basketball team. Remember this, from this moment you have only one purpose. Winning.”

 

It was Saturday and Mac had finally been able to sneak out of the house without been set to do more chores, and met Daiki at the gym at school. She had told him to meet her there so they could do some homework, or more like she could help him with his homework. She was done with hers. Though, how she would be able to get him to focus long enough was a challenge.

“Daiki!” Mac snapped when he once more got distracted. “You’ll be kicked off the team if you fail your classes! So, focus!”

“But it’s so boring,” Daiki whined, “and I don’t understand it.”

“That’s why I’m helping you,” Mac said exasperated. “So, let’s do this and then we’ll play basketball. Ok?”

“Fine,” Daiki sighed and turned his attention back to the books that was spread across the floor around them.

Twenty minutes later Daiki shot up to his feet and stretched with a loud yawn, and cracking muscles. Mac shook her head but she stretched slightly herself. They were done, at least.

“Okay, let’s play!” Daiki grinned down at her showing teeth and a happy shine to his navy blue eyes. “We haven’t been able to play one on one lately.”

Mac nodded and gathered the books and was startled when some seemed to fly into her hands, she blinked and glanced at Daiki but he didn’t seem to have noticed anything. It was a long time since this had happened now, and it had taken her a little off guard. Pushing it away for later thought, she finished packing and placed the bag by the door before she caught the ball Daiki threw at her.

“Ready?” She asked.

“I’m born ready,” Daiki grinned and Mac snorted. Yes, he was. She was sure he was born with a basketball in his hands.

Mac liked the feeling of the ball in her hands again and moved quickly across the court and tried to avoid Daiki but he was fast and agile, but she knew him well so she managed to get past him by twisting when he was going to the left and she spun around to throw the ball through the hoop.

“I’ll get you next time!” Daiki smirked and Mac raised a brow at him.

“Come on,” Mac challenged and they were on.

Mac was not sure how long they had been playing, she only knew she was breathing a little harder and her forehead was sweaty, when she heard a noise causing her to still mid movement and turn to look toward the door making her freeze. Daiki stopped when he saw her stopping and saw her freezing, he followed her eyes and blinked when he saw Seijuro, Shintaro, Atsushi and Tetsuya standing right inside the door.

Mac bit down on her lower lip as she saw most of the team standing there clearly having seen her play for the first time. Shintaro and Atsushi was looking shocked, their eyes wide and mouths open like they couldn’t believe what they just saw. Tetsuya looked mildly surprised, but otherwise it was difficult to read his emotions. Though, it was the calculating and almost knowing look in Seijuro’s red eyes that made her the most uncomfortable. It was like he had been expecting this…but he couldn’t have, could he?

“What are you doing here?” Daiki demanded breaking the stunned silence that had filled the gym.

Chapter Text

1st year – Teiko – continued from last time

 

“Wha-what?”

“Mac-chin plays?”

“…”

Mac would have found the reaction from Shintaro, Atsushi and Tetsuya amusing if not for her mind spinning and pulse rising as she watched them warily.

Seijuro looked calm and collected as he spoke up to answer Daiki’s question.

“We came for an extra practice,” Seijuro said calmly finally removing his eyes from Mac and glanced over at Daiki. “I did call your house, Aomine, and your mum said you and Mac would be here playing basketball.”

Mac forced herself to relax as she told herself that the team knowing wasn’t a big deal, they wouldn’t make her quit. It was unreasonable, but for some reason she had in her mind only allowed Daiki to see her play. Well, besides the ones they played on the street court.

“I see,” Daiki said and Mac heard the unhappy note in his voice, she knew he had wanted for them to spend time together only the two of them. They didn’t have much time for it anymore, the basketball and schoolwork took up so much of their free time and she had to be home to do her chores as well.

“You never said you could play, Mac,” Seijuro commented his calculating eyes finding Mac again and she noticed the other three also, or more like still, was staring at her.

“Kenzie never said she couldn’t play either,” Daiki defended his best friend as he crossed his arms over his chest and glared at Seijuro.

“No one said she had,” Shintaro finally spoke up stoically as he got over his shock at seeing Mac play. “Akashi was only stating that she hadn’t let on that she played as well as analysing like she normally does.”

Mac glanced at Daiki and when she met his eyes she smiled a little and shrugged, letting him know it was alright. She looked back at the others and sighed.

“There’s no reason for me to say anything,” Mac said, “I only play with Daiki.”

“You’re good,” Tetsuya spoke up softly. “Why don’t you play for a team?”

“What team?” Mac asked shrugging, “I thought there would be a girls’ team here, and decided against trying out even before I started Teiko. Though, coming here I found there was no team for girls anyway.”

“And why did you decide that?” Shintaro asked his green eyes narrowing behind his glasses as he looked at her.

No one missed how her eyes glanced at Daiki but she shrugged and didn’t say anything. She saw Atsushi start eating his chips again, and Seijuro was looking like he was plotting something, setting her nerves off again, as he watched her before he smiled and picked up the ball.

“Play with us today,” he said or more like ordered.

Mac sighed but didn’t see a reason to deny his request slash order, so she nodded.

 

“You ok?” Daiki asked looking at her worriedly. “You can say no.”

Mac glanced over at the other four first year students and players, a pensive look on her face as she watched them. They hadn’t mocked her or tried to belittle her, could they be ok with her playing? With her being good? Sighing she looked back at Daiki who’s navy blue eyes were clouded with worry.

“It’s alright,” Mac said. “Should have known they would find out sometimes.”

Daiki looked at her for a moment.

“It’s not a bad thing, you know,” he said, “them finding out. They’re not your cousin.”

Mac nodded with a tight look on her face, but she didn’t say anything.

 

Mac caught the ball and dribbled her way past Shintaro who frowned as he tried to catch up, she turned on her heel and twisted around slightly so she was free from Seijuro before passing the ball to Daiki who was free and scored.

“Interesting,” she heard Seijuro mutter and she felt wary, he was plotting something.

Mac got in the defending position and soon Seijuro was in front of her with the ball in hand, she knew he was purposely going up against her, to test her. She narrowed her eyes in concentration and noticed the small movement he made to the left, but he was watching her and she knew he liked to fake and play games, so she stayed where she was and he remained standing still. He smirked before he abruptly moved to her right, taking her slightly by surprise, but by the use of her reflexes she managed to reach out and barely touch the ball with her fingers making him lose control of the ball and his drive, as Daiki was there to block him at the next move.

Mac frowned when Seijuro managed to pass the ball to Shintaro who scored using his growing ability to score from long distances.

Mac caught the pass seemingly appearing out of nowhere and smirked when she saw the way it caught Atsushi by surprise, she jumped and threw the ball and watched pleased how it went through the hoop before Atsushi managed to react.

 

“You’re good,” Seijuro stated when they finished, Seijuro and his team having won by one goal but it had been close.

Daiki and Tetsuya both were standing next to her and smiled as they breathed a little harder after their match, both drinking water from their bottles with greedy gulps.

“Thank you,” Mac said quietly not really meeting his eyes making him frown a little worried, something Daiki noticed but Mac obviously missed.

“You should play for us.”

Mac’s wide grass green eyes snapped up to stare at him and her hands fisted against her thighs.

“What?” she whispered.

“You should play for us,” Seijuro repeated calmly. “You’ll be an asset to the team.”

Mac felt a little pang of hope in her chest, but it soon vanished as she thought about her relatives and the reaction she would get from them. Her face clouded and she looked away, momentarily stunning the watching teammates as they saw the pained look on her face.

“No,” Mac said. “I can’t.”

Seijuro arched a brow. “Why?”

“I can’t,” Mac repeated and glanced at the clock making her eyes widen. “Shit. I have to go. I’m late.”

Daiki looked at her worried, “I’ll come with you.”

“No, it’ll only be worse,” Mac said, “I’ll see you on Monday.”

Daiki frowned and fisted his hands as she watched her grab her bag and run out of the gym.

 

“What was that?” Seijuro asked his voice low as he stared at Daiki.

Daiki glanced at him and sighed; he looked away again and wondered what to say. The others were watching him as well. He walked to the bench and grabbed his bag and threw it over his shoulders before he looked back at Seijuro who was watching him with narrowed eyes.

“It’s not up to me to say,” Daiki finally said still feeling conflicted.

“Something’s wrong,” Shintaro said stoically and pushed his glassed up.

Daiki almost snorted. Something was wrong. Yes, that was true.

“It’s not any of your business,” Daiki said crossly.

“What is she late to?” Seijuro asked.

“None of your business,” Daiki said boldly not caring that the other narrowed his eyes, “I will not break her confidence.”

Seijuro stared at him for a long time before he turned around and walked out of the gym without a word. The others followed and Daiki sighed and pulled a hand tiredly over his face.

 

Mac winced as she listened to her uncle shout at her, he was not happy that he had to wait for dinner when he was ready for it. She worked to keep her face blank as she stared at the man who was supposed to care about her. Wasn’t it normal to care about your family? Even if it was your wife’s blood?

“You spend too much time with that ruddy boy!” Vernon snapped at her. “Dudley has told us about him. Unnatural, the way you to are. You’re turning out just like your mother… a attention seeking brat who does anything for a boys attention…”

Mac bit the inside of her cheek to remain blank faced and continue listening without saying anything. She knew what he was trying to do, and she knew it would be worse if she responded. Yet, her temper was rising and she didn’t want to listen to him insulting Daiki or her mother.

“I will not have it, you hear me?! As long as you’re living in this house you will behave properly and with the decency we raised you with!” Vernon spat. “Go to your room. I don’t want to see you for the rest of the night!”

Mac glared at him before turning around and walking out of the room refusing to show the hurt in her eyes as she was once again pushed aside by her so called family. She could hear Dudley laughing, and caught sight of Petunia’s sneer as she past her aunt.

“Watch it, bitch,” Dudley said and bumped into her hard making her stumble slightly.

 

Was it really only hours before she had been playing basketball with Daiki and the others? She lay down on the bed and stared unseeingly up at the ceiling. Her mind was blank or she tried to keep it blank but her uncle’s words kept finding their way back into her mind.

Just like your mother….

Turning out just like your mother…

Just like your mother…an attention seeking brat…

Finally she punched the matrass in frustration and gritted her teeth trying to keep her temper under control. Vernon knew she longed for information about her parents…parents she didn’t even know the name off. What kid didn’t know who their parents were? Would they have loved her? Would they have been like Daiki’s parents? Warm, caring and there for her always?

Turning to her side she pushed the thoughts out of her mind and tried to focus on Daiki, which always worked. His happy smile and open friendship. She smiled slightly at the thought of the look on his face earlier when they played basketball; he had looked so happy and content.

Getting up she grabbed her bag and pulled out her sketchpad, she glanced at the door to make sure it was closed and kept an ear out just in case someone would make their way to her room. She didn’t want to lose this sketchpad as well.

She grabbed a pencil and started to sketch and soon another picture of Daiki playing basketball gradually became visible on the page, the happy and content look perfectly captured on his face as he was about to shoot the ball into the hoop. Her mind was blessedly blank as she drew and fingers working effortlessly as she cemented the memory to the page.

 

Mac sighed as she rested her chin on her hand as it was popped up on her elbow as she stared out of the window in proper Daiki manner. Her green eyes clouded with shadows making Daiki who was watching her worriedly frown in concern, he knew something was wrong but she wouldn’t tell him. Only gave a vague excuse.

“Kenzie,” Daiki said and she blinked and looked at him. “The class is over.”

“Oh,” Mac said and frowned, she had missed the entire class. It was so unlike her.

She followed Daiki and he noticed she seemed to close more off the closer they got to the gym and the rest of the team. He glanced at her, but didn’t say anything just nudged her shoulder making her smile slightly and her shoulders relaxed minutely.

Mac took comfort in knowing Daiki was there, and she wasn’t alone. She would deal with whatever Seijuro and the others said or did. It would be ok.

“Aomine, Mac,” Seijuro greeted them and Mac glanced at him and nodded politely before walking over to the bench and grab her notebook she used during practices disappearing behind the pages. She missed the narrowed eyes and the calculating look in said eyes as she did so.

The practice went well, and Mac managed to focus on the training and data she was writing. She frowned when she saw Haizaki Shogo. He was the same age as her and Daiki, and had joined the team a week after school started. He was good, but his attitude… he set her on edge and she didn’t like it. She wrote down something and moved along to the next player.

As the practice was finishing up Mac had almost relaxed completely as no one had mentioned her playing basketball or the way she had left on Saturday. What also helped was that they treated her normally.

 

Weeks later…

 

“…Mac.”

Mac stilled just as she was making her way through the kitchen and toward her room just as she heard her name mentioned from her aunt.

“How long do we have to stay here, Vernon?” Petunia asked sounding displeased. “I want to go home.”

“You know we can’t, Pet,” Vernon said, “they will find Mac if we do and we swore we’d keep her away from that freak-school.”

Mac frowned. Who would find her? What school?

“But she’s 13 now and she was 11 when she started that place,” Petunia said. “They might not even be looking for her anymore.”

“Do you want to take that risk?” Vernon asked, “just hang in there a little longer. We’ll figure something out.”

“Fine, but I’m really tired of this place,” Petunia said, “no one here has any class and they look down on me. Dudley’s not happy either, dear. He misses his little friends in Surrey.”

Mac almost scoffed, of course he did. His friends here actually had brains and wouldn’t let him control everything, though they seem happy enough to play Mac-hunting. So, it didn’t make much of a difference to her.

“Just trust me, Pet,” Vernon said and Mac knew the conversation was over and hurriedly walked to her room and closed the door behind her before leaning against it her mind going crazy with what she had heard.

 

“So, you say your aunt and uncle moved to Japan to keep you away from a school?” Daiki asked with a raised brow looking confused. “Why?”

“I have no idea,” Mac sighed frustrated. She had tried to work it out ever since she had overheard the conversation, but no matter what she couldn’t figure it out. She bounced the basketball a couple of times and listened as the echo through the gym. It was after school and she didn’t have to hurry home for once, since her relatives were out on something with Vernon’s work.

“It sounds very strange to me,” Daiki huffed, “who would move to another country just to keep someone away from a school?”

“They talked about some people too,” Mac said, “but I don’t know who.”

“Strange,” Daiki muttered.

“I am curious about the she aunt Petunia mentioned,” Mac admitted glancing over at Daiki, “she said; ‘she was 11 when she started that place’. I wonder who she meant?”

“Your mum, perhaps?” Daiki asked and Mac frowned, but she nodded. She had thought about that as well.

Just then the door opened and Mac looked to the door and saw Seijuro, Shintaro, Atsushi and Tetsuya enter the gym. It wasn’t that unusual anymore, and she stopped tensing everything they decided to join her and Daiki in playing basketball after school hours. She actually liked playing with them.

“You’re not playing already?” Seijuro asked slightly surprised.

“Not yet,” Daiki shrugged looking away from Mac and turned to the others. “Let’s play.”

 

“Here,” Mac glanced up and saw Atsushi holding out a small bag of chips making her blink. “You look sad.”

Mac couldn’t help the small smile that crossed her face as she accepted the chips, she glanced down at it and saw it was salted chips, her favourite. A warm feeling spread and she swallowed before looking up at the tall centre.

“Thank you,” Mac said.

Atsushi only nodded, already focused on his own snack making Mac gingerly opening her own bag and start eating the chips.

 

“Haizaki has a cold,” Nijimura grumbled as he hung up the phone looking pissed. Mac refrained from rolling her eyes. Mac didn’t believe that and neither did the Captain, by the look of it.

“Hm,” Sanada said, “then… Kuroko you’re in.”

Mac smiled, it would be the first time he would be playing in a official match, and in a tournament like this one it would be great practice. She turned to look at the teal head and frowned slightly when she saw how nervous he was.

“Calm down, Tetsu,” Mac said quietly and he looked at her. “You can do it.”

He nodded and she saw how he inhaled deeply. She walked back and pulled out her notes.

Mac frowned, this was…not going as planned. They had only played a minute and already Tetsuya had missed two passes and was now nursing a nosebleed. According to her notes and analysis this should be a good match for Tetsuya to play in…

She watched as Nijimura was subbed into the game and knew he would be calm and lead the way like the good Captain he was. She kept watching the other team and gave Sanada updates on their strategy as she noticed it, he nodded calmly at her as she pointed out how they were trying to shut down Nijimura.

Through the match she kept an eye on Tetsuya who looked depressed and in deep thought. She turned her eyes back to the game and decided she would think about Tetsuya later.

 

“I’m going to the convenience store,” Daiki said getting up having already finished the bento his mum had made him. Mac glanced over at him and got up.

“I’ll come with you,” Mac said and he grinned at her and nodded.

She glanced over at Tetsuya and saw he was distracted and wasn’t paying attention to what they were saying, she frowned.

“Get back soon, the next match is coming up,” Seijuro said and Mac nodded at him.

“I know,” she said and he allowed a small smile and nod in acknowledgment.

Mac followed Daiki and they walked in companionable silence until they heard Sanada’s voice and Nijimura.

“…It’s disappointing, but Kuroko-kun isn’t good enough,” Sanada said.

“But…” Nijimura said but Daiki was already walking forward leaving Mac to follow behind him with a small frown on her face.

“You’re demoting Tetsu?!” Daiki demanded angrily. “We still have a game this afternoon! Can’t he play one more game?”

“No. He’s not worth observing anymore,” Sanada said.

Mac scowled from where she was standing behind Daiki who was barely containing his anger as he glared at the coach. Nijimura stood silently beside the coach and watched them.

“If he fail again, you can demote me, too!” Daiki said looking slightly away from Sanada and missed the slightly widening of eyes, but Mac noticed it. “Put him in one more time! I know he’ll save us someday. I’m not sure why, but I know he will!”

Mac reached out and grabbed his arm to calm him down, she looked at Sanada who hadn’t said anything at Daiki’s outburst but she could tell he was impressed by his declaration.

“I know he missed this match,” Mac said, “but I believe it’s because he’s messing up his timing. He’s not expecting the strength behind the passes, therefor he’s missing the passes. I’ll talk to him and have him adjust. Give him one more chance, Sanada-sensei.”

 

Mac watched with a blank expression as Nijimura entered the gym with a bruised Haizaki being dragged by the collar.

“Look who decided to show up,” Nijimura said with a smile like there was nothing wrong making most sweat drop at his calmness. “A second string player found him in an arcade. He seemed pretty healthy, so I brought him here.”

Mac turned away from them and walked over to where Tetsuya was sitting by himself on the bench looking forlorn and dejected, she paused in front of him before she sat down on the seat next to him.

Sanada called attention to himself before he listed up the starting members, before he turned to Tetsuya with a calculating look.

“Kuroko-kun, you’ll play in the second half.” Sanada said. “Got it?”

Tetsuya seemed to gather all his determination and nodded.

“I know you’re good enough for this team;” Mac said quietly. “Push away your nerves, focus on keeping your emotions in check. Also, the passes are harder here than what you’re used to. It’s your timing that’s the problem, I’m sure Akashi-kun also figured it out. Didn’t you, Akashi-kun?” Mac glanced over and saw Seijuro having joining them and Tetsuya looked at him.

“Yes,” Seijuro nodded, “fix your speed on the passes and you should be fine. First string players are quick, I know you know this from our practices. Remember, we’re quicker than second or third string players. And like Mac said, you’re misdirection is most powerful when you control your lack of presence. Don’t wear your emotions on your sleeve.”

Mac nodded when Tetsuya looked to her.

Mac tapped her pen against her lip and smiled when she saw how the pass curved in a way where the only explanation was Tetsuya’s interference and changing the path of the pass. She noticed Haizaki’s shock on the bench close to her, but she ignored it. She grinned. He had made it.

Chapter Text

2nd year – Teiko – April

 

Daiki grunted annoyed when the ball rolled out of the gym and he had to run after it, Mac rolled her eyes at him on the bench where she was writing in her ever present notebook. Shintaro and Seijuro looked exasperated making him grumbled annoyed.

He easily spotted the ball and saw the blond boy holding it with a curious look on his face, Daiki knew he had seen him around but didn’t remember his name.

“Can you pass the ball?” Daiki asked and the blond did making Daiki smiled quickly at him.

“Thanks!” Daiki said before turning around and running back into the gym.

Mac arched a brow when she noticed the blond boy, Kise Ryota, she believed his name was. She thought he was the model most of the girls in school were mooning over. Mac tilted her head slightly to the side as she saw how he watched Daiki who was now jumping up and dunked the ball into the net with a delighted grin.

“Yeah!” Daiki cheered.

Mac turned her attention back on her observation of the team again just as Ryota disappeared from the door, though he would be back. Mac was sure of that.

 

“How was your spring break?” Seijuro asked making Mac glance at him to see him watching her with a searching look in his red eyes. She shrugged.

“Boring,” Mac said emotionlessly.

It had been, she had spent most of the week doing the spring cleaning at the house under Petunia’s careful watch, when she finished with the cleaning she had been set to do the garden work and Mac still felt sore from the work. Daiki had been away visiting his grandparents for most of the vacation between their first and second year of Middle School, so she hadn’t seen much of him.

“Just boring?” Seijuro pressed.

“Yeah, nothing big happening,” Mac said. “What about you, Akashi-kun?”

“It was fine,” Seijuro said, “I went with father to work and learned more about the business.”

Mac hid her frown as she nodded, she thought it was a little early to be learning about the business when he still was 13, but then again…maybe it was something they did to bond? What did she know of proper relationships between parent and child? The thought was bitter and it stunned her so much she froze where she walked beside Seijuro who noticed and stopped watching her.

“Mac?” he asked when she didn’t say anything.

“Huh?” Mac blinked before spotting the arched brow, “what?”

She sounded distracted, she knew, but her mind was still occupied with the bitterness she suddenly was hit with. She didn’t want to be bitter, she had Daiki and now also the basketball team… something she never had before. So why was she bitter?

“Are you ok?” Seijuro asked sounding concerned.

“I’m fine,” Mac said with a tight smile. “Let’s get going. We’re almost late for practice.”

Seijuro let her end the conversation, but Mac knew he wouldn’t forget it and would be watching her. Somehow that warmed her, because if he watched her like that he must care for her, right? A little, at least?

 

“Potter-san,” Sanada called when she stepped into the gym with Seijuro right behind her. She walked away from the Vice-Captain and toward the assistant coach who was looking like his normal stern self.

“Yes, Sanada-sensei?” Mac asked when she reached him.

“We have a new player and I want you to observe him and make your regular file on him,” Sanada said, “tell us if he’s good enough for our team.”

Mac nodded and listened to Sanada talk more about what he wanted her to look for before she walked to where the second strings were already practicing. She didn’t call attention to herself as she leaned against the wall already having pulled out her notebook. Her sharp green eyes easily spotted the blond who was grinning excitedly as he dribbled his way past the opposing second string players with ease.

Writing in her notebook she quickly made up a form with his physical ability, technique, and stamina and how she would predict he would develop. She would need more time to really observe him and watch him play to make sure, but she would get a rough estimate of his skill. As she wrote she arched a brow as she realised that he was good. Like really good, he was fast and agile as he moved across the court.

What had her still was the fact that he suddenly used a move she was very familiar with. It was Daiki’s move. Her pen stopped writing as she stared at Ryota who just jumped and dunked the ball just like he had seen Daiki do a few days ago. Was that possible? Her eyes narrowed as she studied him closer now. She had seen that kind of ability before, Haizaki had something that was similar, but… it was slightly different as well. She started to write again, in deeper thought than before.

Special talent: the ability to copy the ability of others around him.

Now that she had noticed it she could see how he used the tricks and moves the others used against him, and how he turned and used it against them again. She smirked a little. This could be interesting.

 

“I would recommend promoting him to the first strings,” Mac told the two coaches who was watching her. Shirogane sat behind his desk, his fingers intertwined on top of his desk as he looked at her. Sanada stood to the right from the desk looking serious and stern like he normally did.

“Why?” the simple question came from Shirogane and Mac noticed he seemed curious, but not like he doubted her recommendation.

“He’s strong and has the speed our team need,” Mac said, “he also seems to have the ability to copy a move after only seeing it once. I know he only saw Daiki use a move once before, but he used it now. The only fault was that it wasn’t as powerful as Daiki’s.”

Mac paused and saw both coaches watching her with interest, especially Shirogane who was smiling a little.

“While he’s new to the sport and hasn’t been playing long, he still plays like he has,” Mac said, “with the proper training and introduction to the team I believe he can come up to the level Daiki, Midorima, Murasakibara and Akashi-kun is.”

The coaches exchanged looks before Shirogane nodded slightly and turned his attention back to the young girl in front of him. Her glasses pushed up and her messy hair pulled back in a messy bun, but her eyes showed determination and sincere belief in what she had just told them. He glanced down at the notes she had given him and from them could tell that Kise Ryota could be a good player. He had already decided before he asked Sanada to get her to observe the new player, but he had been curious about how her observation and analysing skills had developed and how she would judge the new player with only seeing him once.

Shirogane knew he was cold at times and ruthless when it came to his demands, and he would always be like that. He valued talent and the young girl standing in his office had talent, more talent than he had seen in someone so young before. He was curious how far she would go, if only given the chance.

“Thank you, Potter-san,” Shirogane said, “I would like you to handle his transition over to the first string and get him familiar with the way we play. Also, I would like you to tell him he’s been promoted.”

Mac arched a brow in surprise by the request but didn’t comment on it.

“Yes, sir,” Mac said.

 

“Why did you ask her to do that?” Sanada asked when Mac had left the office and the two coaches were the only two left. Shirogane didn’t answer right away as he read through her notes one more time. He glanced up at his assistant coach.

“She’s got talent,” Shirogane said, “I would like for her to get even more involved with our first strings, with their training menus and strategies for the games. As it is now she only really interacts with Aomine Daiki, but she has started to open up more to Akashi Seijuro, Midorima Shintaro, Murasakibara Atsushi and Kuroko Tetsuya. So, right now I want to give her a push to open up more and get more involved with the team.”

Sanada nodded looking thoughtful while Shirogane went back to thinking on how he could get Mac to take a larger role within the team.

 

Mac walked through the gym and felt nervous about having to approach Kise Ryota by herself, she briefly considered getting Daiki, but pushed it away. She could do it herself, and the coach had asked her to do it. She squared her shoulders and walked up to where Ryota was laughing and hanging back with three other second string players.

“Potter-san,” Kuroki Dai asked when he spotted her, the surprise in his voice was clear.

Yago Maso turned and stared at her with wide eyes before he glanced at Tanaka Jun who only watched her without really betraying any surprise at her appearance.

“Eh? Who are you?” Ryota asked looking at her.

“Idiot,” Kuroki Dai said, “she’s the manager for the first strings, Potter Mackenzie.”

“Mac,” she corrected quietly when Ryota looked at her and he smiled charmingly at her. She just arched a brow unimpressed.

“Can we help you, Potter-san?” Ryota asked.

“Coach sent me to talk to you,” Mac said pushing her uncertainty away as she watched the blond who arched a brow.

“Oh? Does he want to talk to me?” Ryota asked.

“No,” Mac frowned, “I am to tell you that you’ve been promoted to first string and from tomorrow on you’re to show up to the first string practice. Congratulations.”

She turned to go, but she saw the stunned look on his face and the resigned look on the other three. She knew they must be disappointed that they were skipped over again, but that was sport.

“Wait!” Mac yanked her arm away when Ryota tried to grab it and turned to look at him with a scowl on her face. He looked at her apologetically. “Sorry.”

“What is it?” Mac asked when he didn’t say anything.

“I’m really been promoted to the first string?” Ryota asked and Mac nodded. “Awesome! I knew I would make it! Easy!”

Mac hid her frowned as she watched him with a blank expression on her face, it was clear he had been expecting this but she wasn’t sure she liked the attitude he showed. Without another word she turned and left the gym.

 

Mac arrived at the gym early the next day for the afternoon practice, and found Nijimura standing in the middle of the gym holding a basketball. He was on his own, but that wasn’t what had Mac look at him twice. It was the sad look on his face, pained almost and like he was about to give something up that he didn’t want to. His gaze was fixed on the ball in his hands and his grey eyes shimmered with emotions.

Mac was unsure on what to do, should she sneak out or should she make herself known? She felt like she was interrupting something. She was speared the decision though when he suddenly looked up and saw her. He gave her a polite and sincere smile, like he always did.

“Nijimura-captain,” Mac greeted.

“Mac,” he nodded back, “you’re early today.”

Mac nodded and walked to the bench and placed her bag down and gathered her notebook, she looked up and saw the Captain watch her.

“I wanted to be here when the new player arrived,” Mac said quietly, “I want to see how he handles the promotion.”

“You worried?” Nijimura asked walking over to her tossing the ball lightly between his hands as he did.

Mac shrugged and didn’t answer, she wasn’t sure if worried was the right word. She was a little apprehensive after seeing his reaction the day before, but maybe it only was the instant joy of being promoted that had made him react without thinking.

Nijumura saw that she seemed to fall into deep thoughts, so he didn’t press for an answer. He smiled slightly as he watched the younger girl, she normally kept to herself and Nijimura hadn’t really talked to her that much. Only about basketball stuff and normally only when she was with either Daiki or the rest of the team was present.

“I’m sure you’ll figure it out,” Nijimura said and Mac looked at him now with more focus in her eyes.

“Are you okay, Nijimura-captain?” Mac asked and he smiled softly, like he was reminiscing about something.

“I’m fine, Mac,” he said, “I just… I’m not Captain anymore.”

“Eh?” Mac blinked honestly shocked. “Why?”

He didn’t answer right away only glanced out over the court with a faraway look in his eyes. He sighed and sat down beside Mac who remained silent as she waited for him to say something.

“My father is sick,” Nijimura finally said, “he’s been at the hospital since last spring. Right now he’s stable, but the doctors don’t know how he’ll be by the time Nationals are here and I won’t be able to focus on the team the way I should. If something happens to him, I would abandon the team and go to him.”

Mac sat still beside the now former Captain, but her mind was spinning with this new information. She could tell that Nijimura was really affected by his father being in the hospital and knew that he told the truth when he said he would abandon the team, he loved his father so of course he would. She wondered if it was her uncle Vernon or aunt Petunia who were sick, would she do the same? Mac almost scoffed out loud, not likely… and that was sad.

“I’m sorry to hear that, Nijimura-Captain,” Mac finally said softly and he snorted a laugh beside her.

“Hey, didn’t I tell you that I am not the Captain anymore?” he asked, “but thanks, Mac.”

“You’re still Captain until coach says otherwise,” Mac said, “I’m assuming Akashi-kun will take over?”

Nijimura smiled thinking that there wasn’t much that slipped past Mac.

“Yes,” he said. “From today on, Akashi will be Captain.”

Mac nodded not feeling surprised, she knew he would be the best alternative when Nijimura wasn’t there anymore.

“You won’t quit?” Mac asked realising he hadn’t said anything about that.

“I’m not quitting,” Nijimura smiled and Mac nodded and allowed a small smile to cross her lips and saw the way his smile widened when he spotted it.

 

“Kenzie!” Daiki’s voice sounded and Mac looked up from the book she had been reading while Nijimura had gone back to practicing, she saw her best friend coming inside and arched a brow.

“What?” Mac asked.

“You disappeared!” Daiki whined.

“I left when the class was over, I didn’t need to watch Yasu-san’s magazine,” Mac said dryly and he frowned. Mac had left when she saw Daiki and some of the other boys in their class looking at a certain magazine that Yukimura Yasu had brought to school.

“Why didn’t you say anything?” Daiki asked.

“I did, you just didn’t hear me,” Mac shrugged, “forget it, Daiki. It’s no big deal. Are you ready for the practice?”

“Of course,” Daiki said and grinned the earlier complaint forgotten.

The others filled the gym one by one and Mac remained on the bench waiting for Ryota to show up, soon he barged into the gym with a large grin on his face and looked around eagerly. He paused just inside and Mac saw the excitement almost buzzing in him.

“Eh?” Ryota blinked when he collided with someone and looked down to see Kuroko Tetsuya staring up at him with a blank expression on his face. “Oh, I didn’t see you there. What are you doing here? Are you lost?”

Mac who had gotten up and walked over to him to greet him and introduce him to the team heard what he said. The feeling was back again and she narrowed her eyes slightly as she watched him.

The gym had gone silent and Daiki was frowning as he looked at the new player, he didn’t like the way this newcomer talked to Tetsuya. He could see that Mac didn’t like it either and her eyes were narrowed, but he was sure he was the only one who saw how worried she was.

“He’s a player here just like you,” Mac spoke up bringing the attention over to her. “Kuroko Tetsuya.”

“Eh? Really?” Ryota asked wide eyed as he looked at Tetsuya who stared blankly back before he politely bowed.

“I’m Kuroko Tetsuya, nice to meet you,” he greeted.

“Kise Ryota, n-nice to meet you too,” Ryota said.

“Good, he’s going to be your mentor in the team,” Mac said and felt several eyes on her, but she ignored it and looked at Ryota. “He’ll be your personal instructor.”

“Eh?” Ryota stared at her.

“You didn’t hear me?” Mac arched a brow as she stared at Ryota.

“I…” Ryota looked around but didn’t find any support among the others so he swallowed and nodded.

 

“You sure about this?” Daiki asked quietly as he sat down beside her as the practice went on.

“He needs to learn that effort and passion for the sport also matters,” Mac said, “he sees this as something he is good at and is easy, overlooking those who has to work hard to get to get to where they are. He needs to see the different aspects of the sport. He’s still new to the sport, and Tetsu will be the best one to show him what he is missing.”

Daiki looked at her and a smile broke out on his face as he got a proud look on his face. He was sure he was the only one who had seen the nerves she had felt as she talked to Ryota, but he had decided against going to her side to support her or take over knowing she needed to prove to herself and also to the team that she could take care of herself.

 

Mac stood with Sanada and Nijimura at the end of the practice, she knew what was coming and felt sad about it. Her eyes found Seijuro who looked carefully blank, but she could tell he also knew what their assistant coach and Captain wanted.

“I will from today on step back as your Captain,” Nijimura spoke up breaking the silence in the room.

Mac heard the surprised gasps from the others and the frowns on their faces, only Haizaki looked uncaring and bored. She hid her frown as she turned her attention back to Nijimura. “I apologize for the inconvenience, but private reasons make it impossible for me to continue as your Captain with the responsibility that follows.”

“Who’ll be the Captain now, then?” Kubota asked.

“Are you quitting?” Sekiguchi asked at the same time.

“I’m not quitting,” Nijimura said, “and I’ve recommended Akashi as the new Captain and the coaches agreed.”

Daiki raised a brow as he looked over at Seijuro who nodded at Nijimura with a small smile on his face.

 

Daiki grabbed his bag after he had changed and moved to leave the locker room but was stopped by Ryota who was about to leave as well. Daiki rolled his eyes as he paused to let the newest player through the door before him.

“Aomine-cchi,” Ryota said and Daiki felt a twitch of annoyance at the suffix attached to his name.

“What?” Daiki grunted.

“Why is Kuroko on this team?” Ryota asked.

Daiki paused and frowned at the blond who was watching him with curious eyes.

“I mean, he’s not as strong as any of you and weak,” Ryota complained. “I don’t see why Potter-san made him my personal instructor! And why the coach let her! I’m good enough to…”

“That’s why;” Daiki interrupted him his eyes narrowed at the mention of Mac and Ryota took a step back when he saw the frown and glare directed at him from the player he looked up to the most. “Stop complaining and work hard. Tetsu is powerful, but in a different way than us. You’ve only been here for a week, so don’t talk about what you don’t understand.”

“But…” Ryota started but Daiki interrupted him again.

“Also, don’t talk about Kenzie like that in front of me,” Daiki warned before he noticed Mac standing by the door to the gym clearly waiting for him. Leaving Ryota behind he sped up and grinned at Mac who smiled softly back at him, her green eyes snapping behind him taking in Ryota who was watching them before looking back at Daiki.

“Ready?” Mac asked, “your mother will be upset if we’re late for dinner.”

“I’m ready,” Daiki grinned but knew Mac was right. He was pleased Mac was going home with him today, her relatives was going out with something with her cousin’s school so Mac could delay her return home.

 

“Mac-nee-chan!” Shiro cheered when he spotted Mac slightly behind Daiki who rolled his eyes at being ignored by his little brother. “You’re here!”

“Hi Shiro-chan,” Mac smiled at the now seven year old boy who threw his arms around her waist. “How are you?”

“I’m good,” Shiro beamed, “I won in the spelling contest today and our teacher said I was good!”

Mac smiled and ruffled his hair, “that’s great. Perhaps you can teach your big brother how to study.”

Shiro giggled and Daiki grumbled at them but Mac only met his eyes innocently.

“Mac-nee-chan’s here,” Sayuri said from her position by the door. “Did you finally come home today, nee-chan?”

“I did,” Mac smiled at the little girl, her brown hair tied in two ponytails on either side of her face.

Shiro dragged her by the hand into the living room where Ayano and Takehiro was both smiling welcoming at her and she felt the fluttering in her stomach as she did everytime she entered the Aomine household. It was the first and only place she really felt welcome and it filled her with a warm and good feeling.

“You think they would be happy to see me coming home as well, but no,” Daiki grumbled as he followed them into the room. He was smiling however, so Mac knew he wasn’t serious. “Everyone only care about Kenzie…”

“Nee-chan is nicer,” Shiro said sticking out his tongue, “and she helps me with my homework.”

“She helps me too,” Daiki said.

“Seems like she helps all my kids with their homework,” Ayano said breaking into the brothers bickering. Mac only smiled.

The afternoon went much too quick for Mac, eating dinner that Ayano had cooked and answering questions about school and basketball before helping Shiro with his homework much to the little boys pleasure. Daiki grumbled a little at them though, but Mac ignored him. She did notice that Daiki’s parents seemed to watch her closer and with a look in their eyes she couldn’t read even with the best of analysis skills.

 

Leaving the Aomine household and reluctantly entered the house she was forced to call home, the silence and coldness was a bright contrast to the home she had just left. She heard the car pulling up in the driveway and made her way to her room before she had to talk to or be talked down to by her relatives.

“You were so good, Dudders,” Petunia’s simpering voice drifted through the house and into her room. “You won!”

“Of course he won,” Vernon boomed proudly, “he’s the best! The other guy never had a chance!”

Dudley laughed sounding happy and smug. Mac knew he had begun with wrestling and had been at a competition today and from the sound of it he had won. The proud tone in his parents’ voices seemed to linger in her room and mock her.

“Is the girl back yet?” Petunia suddenly asked.

“She better,” Vernon snapped, “if she knows what’s best for her she’ll stay in her room. I don’t want her to ruin Dudley’s big day!”

Mac rolled her eyes ignoring the loneliness that settled in her stomach as she fell down on her bed and stared up at the ceiling.

 

“I want to put Kise-kun and Tetsu in a match with the second strings,” Mac told Sanada who arched a brow at her.

“Why?” Sanada asked slightly surprised.

“Kise-kun needs to see Tetsu’s worth and its best done in a match,” Mac said calmly, “I’ve talked with Akashi-kun about it and he agrees.”

Sanada nodded looking thoughtful and thought about what Shirogane had told him about her back when he gave her the responsibility to get Ryota situated with the team. So far she had done a good job.

“Fine,” Sanada agreed, “they’ll join the second strings for tomorrows match.”

 

Mac sat on the side lines with her ever present notebook and smiled slightly to herself as she saw how Tetsuya passed to Ryota who looked shocked at first and unsure about where the passes came from. She saw the moment he realised who was sending him the passes and a smirk crossed his face.

They won and Mac was pleased to see the way Ryota looked at Tetsuya now, there was a new respect in his eyes and Mac knew he now understood what she and Daiki had talked about.

“Wow that was amazing!” Ryota gushed as they made their way back from the school they had played the match in and toward Teiko. The other second strings following behind them, talking and laughing in excitement over the victory. “Kuroko-cchi, you were great! I can’t wait till we play a match together again!”

Mac rolled her eyes slightly at the complete turnover, but this was what she wanted and had hoped would happen if she arranged the match giving them a chance to play together. She glanced at Tetsuya and saw the small pleased smile on his face.

Chapter Text

2nd year – Teiko – May

 

“Come to the convenience store with us,” Daiki said looking at Mac who was packing the bag. “Everyone else is coming.”

Mac hesitated and looked at Daiki seeing his hopeful look and the way his eyes were pleading with her to say yes. She knew he and Tetsuya together with Ryota had gone to the convenience store a few times after practice. He had asked her to come as well, but she had declined stating that she needed to go home and do her chores.

“Fine,” Mac relented since the practice was cancelled that day and she had better time before she had to be back at the Dursley’s home.

“Great!” Daiki beamed and she smiled a little as she shook her head and followed him out of the classroom ignoring the jealous looks from the girls as she walked beside her best friend.

They were the last to arrive outside the school and Mac saw that even Seijuro and Shintaro had been roped into hanging out at the store, something they normally said no to. She noticed Seijuro looking at her with a sharp look when she reached them and she gave him a small smile to which he nodded and turned his attention back to Atsushi who was talking about the sweets he wanted to buy.

Mac fell into step beside Shintaro who seemed to hold himself above the childish bantering going on between Daiki, Tetsuya and Ryota in front of them. Though, Mac was sure she spotted some amusement in his eyes.

“How did your test go?” Mac asked the stoic green haired boy.

“It went good,” Shintaro said pushing his glasses up further on his nose and glanced at her, a rubber duck in his free hand his lucky item of the day, Mac was sure. “You?”

“Alright,” Mac smiled a little, the two of them had studied together in the library before the test much to Daiki’s horror. He had refused to join them though, but Mac had helped him study one day before they played basketball.

“Here,” Daiki suddenly pushed an ice cream into her hands making her blink.

“Thanks,” Mac said and Daiki grinned at her before throwing Shintaro his ice cream making the other boy grumbled a little.

 

Mac walked into the store and found the place where the drinks were being held easily enough, she tensed though when she felt someone close behind her and before she could turn around she felt herself being shoved into the wall beside the soft drink cabinets were.

“Look who it is,” Dudley sneered. “The freak.”

Mac ignored the pain in her shoulder as she glared at Dudley, but she soon realised she was in trouble. She was only one but he was with his three so called friends who had no trouble joining him in tormenting her. All four of them was boxing her in and she couldn’t see how she could get out of this one…

“She’s got fire this one, Dudley,” goon number 1 said, the name Mac had given him in her mind since she didn’t know what he was called and didn’t care.

“What are you doing here, freak?” Dudley asked, “you can’t possibly be buying anything, you’ve got no money.”

Mac just glared at him refusing to show how unsettled she felt.

“Or maybe that boy gave you money,” goon number 2 asked with a sly look, “you take money for services?”

The others laughed and Mac felt her temper rise at the insult toward Daiki.

“Shut up!” Mac snapped making them blink at her before goon 2 smirked and stepped closer forcing her to step closer to the wall. Where was the store attendant? Couldn’t he see that something was going on? “Don’t talk about him like that, you goon!”

“And what are you going to do to stop me? Huh?” he challenged and reached out to touch her.

Dudley stepped closer on the other side effectively shutting her in, and he smirked at her.

“You’re so weak, Potter,” Dudley said, “just like your filthy parents. They never wanted you, did you know that? Mum said so, she said your mum and dad never wanted a child and hated you. They’re probably glad they’re dead so they can get away from you. No one cares for you, freak, and you’re deluding yourself if you believe that boy cares for you. He’s probably only doing it out of pity and because he wants something from you.”

Mac hid her wince when Dudley grabbed her arm and squeezed hard, but she felt something build inside her like it was threatening to burst out of her. It was something she had felt before, but never so strong. It was lurking just under her skin and suddenly Dudley gasped in pain and let go of her like he had been burned. He took a step back and stared at her wide eyed filled with fear and worry.

Mac glared at him and the air around her seemed heavier and like it was buzzing with something but Mac hadn’t a clear mind to think about that, she was just so mad that she wanted him and the others to go away.

“Stay away from me, Dudley!” She snapped.

“W-what are you going to do about it?” Dudley tried to sound as confident but fear was getting clearer in his voice as the items on the shelves were shaking slightly and the metallic sound was getting louder.

“Well, I would suggest you move away from our friend before we do it for you,” a cold voice interrupted and Mac felt her heart drop as her eyes snapped to her team. All of them, and all of them looking angry but shock was underlining their anger and she knew they had seen and heard enough.

 

Daiki watched Mac walked into the store before turning back to Ryota who was also watching the store with a pensive look on his face.

“She doesn’t like me much, does she?” Ryota suddenly asked and Daiki blinked. The others also turned their attention to the newest member of the team.

“Why do you think that?” Daiki asked.

“She never really talks to me,” Ryota said, “if it isn’t related to the team. Also, how I acted in the beginning… she would look at me with those eyes and I could see that she didn’t like me. I didn’t mean anything with it and I apologized!”

Daiki sighed and glanced toward the store again, he knew Mac had been wary about Ryota at first and wanted to teach him about the sport and the way they played. Show him the different aspect of the sport. Also, he knew better than anyone that Mac had difficulties with letting new people in…

“That’s just Kenzie,” Daiki said careful to keep his voice light, “don’t think too much about it. It’s not that she doesn’t like you, she just have a hard time letting people in. She used a long time before she started talking to the others as well. It’s not just you.”

He was aware that they stared at him and Seijuro seemed to be contemplating something as he stared at Daiki with those sharp eyes of his making Daiki want to shift on his feet. Shintaro was frowning slightly behind his glasses as he watched Daiki and Atsushi had paused his eating. Tetsuya looked blank but Daiki could spot the worry in his light blue eyes.

“But…” Ryota started and Daiki sighed.

“Look, just give her time and she’ll warm up to you,” Daiki said before he frowned when he felt something and noticed that the windows started to shake lightly making the conversation stop and everyone to turn toward the store.

“What? Earthquake?” Ryota asked.

Daiki stilled when he caught sight of a very familiar figure inside the store and spotted the messy dark haired head behind the group of boys, one a certain Dudley Dursley. An angry scowl entered his face, surprising the others who spotted it.

“Shit,” Daiki cursed as he started to run toward the store barely noticing the other following behind him, everything he wanted was to reach Mac and get her away from him.

“Stay away from me, Dudley!” They heard Mac snap sounding angry and defensive. Daiki could see her glare at her cousin who was trying to stay confident while the items around him shook, Daiki couldn’t understand it but he had a feeling it had something to do with Mac. She had said that strange things happened around her sometimes.

“W-what are you going to do about it?” Dudley asked trying and failing to sound confident.

“Well, I would suggest you move away from our friend before we do it for you,” Seijuro spoke up before Daiki could say anything, but Daiki hadn’t planned on saying anything and spotting the scared and shamed look on his best friends face before she looked away from them had him shoving the large cousin of hers away from her roughly making him hit the shelf hard enough to knock a few items off it and onto the floor. He barely noticed that they shaking items stopped and everything around them seemed to calm down, he was so focused on getting him away from her.

“I know I have told you this before, but I obviously need to say it again; stay away from Kenzie!” Daiki growled at him. “I won’t warn you again.”

The other three boys pulled back seeing they were outnumbered and Dudley sneered the best he could and sent one more glare toward Mac who was not looking at him before turning to leave.

“Hi! What are you doing back there?!” The store attendant demanded finally making an appearance.

Daiki ignored him and let Seijuro with his charm handle him as he went to Mac who was standing still and holding herself together the best she could, arms wrapped around her waist. She refused to look up at anyone, and Daiki cursed her cousin inwardly as he saw the shattered look on her face. She was sure they would turn away from her now, and he hated that she felt so insecure in their friendship.

He gently placed an arm around her shoulder making her tense slightly before he felt her relax and allowed him to lead her out of the store, past the others without looking at them and finding a free chair outside. The fresh air helping her calm down slightly.

 

Mac leaned against Daiki for as long as she could before she pulled away when she was led to a chair, missing the comfort his warmth gave her instantly. He sat down close to her and took one of her hands in his larger on, giving it a comforting squeeze.

“Here,” Seijuro said and she saw a soda being held up in front of her.

She took it carefully noticing that the cap was off, the thoughtful gesture made her feel worse but at the same time warmth filled her.

“Thanks,” she whispered.

“You’re welcome,” Seijuro said and sat down on the other side of her, his eyes never leaving her as he did. The others also sat down, but compared to earlier the atmosphere was now heavy and sombre, making Mac feel on edge and shamed.

They had seen, they had seen her being cornered by her cousin and his friends… they had seen her do strange things, something even she couldn’t explain away. What must they think about her now? She was weak.. she couldn’t even get away from Dudley and his goons… She didn’t want them to know, to know this part of her. To them she was just Mac, a normal teenage girl, but now they would know… she was weak and a f-freak. A voice in her head said she was being irrational, just like when they saw her playing basketball, they hadn’t reacted badly then… so maybe they wouldn’t react badly now either?

The silence stretched and Mac felt like it was worse than they saying something, she wondered what they were thinking and thought. She would like it if they could just get it over with, tell her that they didn’t need anyone so weak as her on their team.

“Who was that?”

The question startled her out of her thoughts and she glanced up quickly at Ryota who had been the one to ask, before looking away again. She felt Daiki squeeze her hand making her realise that he still held it. She glanced up at Daiki who met her eyes with a understanding look.

“Tell them, Kenzie,” Daiki said softly, “they won’t think any less of you.”

Mac looked at him for a moment longer before inhaling deeply to calm her thoughts and pulse before gathering all of her courage and turned to her team, her…friends.

“He’s my cousin,” Mac said quietly spotting the surprise in their eyes, even Seijuro’s but his was better hidden.

“Your cousin?” Atsushi repeated before frowning, “and he treats you like that?”

Mac shrugged and looked away.

“Your cousin lives here too? I thought you were from England originally?” Ryota asked confused and Mac glanced at him.

“I am, but I live with my aunt and uncle,” Mac said her voice void of emotions as she said it. “My parents died when I was a baby. I grew up with mum’s sister and her family.”

“Oh – sorry!” Ryota said horrified and looked upset at the possibility of having upset her.

Mac shrugged and looked at the soda in her hands, she wanted to say it was okay, but something stopped her. It wasn’t okay that she had to grow up without her parents.

“You didn’t know,” she settled with to ease his guilt of asking. He still looked upset.

She was a little unsettled that Seijuro hasn’t said anything yet, only watched her with an unreadable look on his face.

“And your cousin treats you like that? I take from Aomine’s reaction that it’s not the first time,” Shintaro surprised her by speaking up and she glanced at him, he tried real hard to look stoic but there was some emotion in his eyes as he looked at her. He shifted a little uncomfortably in his seat, but didn’t say anything else or remove his eyes from her. She noticed that his hold of the rubber duck was a little tighter than normal.

“Dudley never liked me,” Mac said with an effort of a careless shrug. She knew it failed as she saw Seijuro’s eyes narrow.

“Your aunt and uncle let him act like that?” Tetsuya asked quietly, “he looked like he wanted to hurt you, and by the look of it did.”

“What?!” Daiki gasped and grabbed her arm when she tried to pull it back and he pushed up her sleeve enough to see the forming bruise on her arm. “I’ll kill him.”

“Daiki,” Mac warned, “don’t.”

“I want to crush him for hurting Mac-chin,” Atsushi growled.

“You didn’t answer Kuroko’s question,” Seijuro spoke up and Mac glanced at him tensing as she considered what to say. The look in his eyes told her that he had an idea already, but he wanted her to say it. She looked down again.

“My…aunt and uncle don’t care,” Mac admitted. “They…encourage him, actually.”

The silence stretched again and she refused to look up, she felt the stiffness in Daiki beside her and knew he was ready to spring from his seat to go after her cousin.

“What?” the low and dangerous tone in Seijuro’s voice told her just how angry she was and she flinched back out of habit. “They ever hit you?”

“N-no,” Mac shook her head.

“You don’t sound so sure,” Shintaro commented.

“They don’t hit me,” Mac said, “well, aunt Petunia tried to hit me with a frying pan once, when I burned the food, but I ducked.”

Daiki growled, even he hadn’t known that part and she saw the angry scowls on the others faces as well.

“It just happened once!” She tried to calm them down regretting saying anything, “normally they just ignore me or have me do chores. It’s not that bad.”

“Not that bad?” Ryota repeated horrified and Mac saw his eyes were filled with tears that refused to fall. “That’s abuse!”

“No…” Mac shook her head, she had to make them understand. It wasn’t like…like they hit her or did something else to her… they just didn’t like her, they never asked for her, so why should they? “They let me stay with them, and they took me in even when they never wanted me. I am just a burden to them, and they still let me stay. I owe them.”

The silence were back again and Mac wondered if they understood, she dared looking up at them and almost winced at the disbelieving eyes that looked at her, also filled with anger and sympathy. She didn’t want sympathy. She squared her shoulder and she felt her face close off as she stood up abruptly, clearly startling everyone but Seijuro who just watched her.

“Mac…” Tetsuya started but she shook her head.

“You don’t understand,” she said her voice colder than they had hear it before, “none of you do. They’re all I have. They’re all… I have no other family.”

She inhaled shakily before turning away from them fighting the tears, “Sorry. I have to go. I…I…” She trailed off unsure what to say and walked away. She ignored Daiki calling her name, she ignored the way her heart beat harshly in her chest.

 

Later, she found herself in her bed staring at the ceiling. Again. She had expected to be yelled at when she got back to the house, to find Dudley complaining about her to his parents. Telling them about the strange thing she did… but nothing. They acted like she wasn’t even there. Her aunt had even made dinner and didn’t scold her for not being back in time to make it.

What was this new attitude? Did they plan something? She strained her ears but she couldn’t hear anything other than the soft summing noise from the TV, and the occasional laugh from her cousin. A frown marred her face as she tried to figure out why they had gone to the silent treatment. Hadn’t Dudley told his parents what happened? She found that hard to believe, she had noticed the few almost scared looks in her aunt eyes as she looked at her, mixed with displeasure. No, they knew.

Though, what was that? She was sure it was her that had made the items shake and even the glass… and when Dudley grabbed her she was sure she had made him let go… he looked like he had been burned. How did she do it? What was it? Maybe she really was a freak? She had thought it had stopped happening, it hadn’t happened in ages. So, why was it back now and so much stronger than before? What if she hurt someone next time?

She groaned silently as her mind went into overdrive with questions and worries, she just wanted answers. She had a feeling that her aunt knew something, but the idea of even asking her was preposterous. Don’t ask questions! That had been drilled into her since she was little, so she knew it would be pointless even trying to ask.

Also, they knew… knew! Daiki had always known and he had been by her side all this time, he had been her strength. But she knew that even he didn’t like her decision of not saying anything, she knew he wanted to tell his parents. Yet, he didn’t because he cared about her and didn’t want to break her confidence. He just let her know he was there, and that was all she wanted. Needed. But…they hadn’t promised.

 

Daiki kept glancing at Mac the entire day at school the next day, on the outside it didn’t look like anything out of the ordinary had happened. She answered when talked to, she drew in her sketchpad during breaks like she did when he was busy looking at those magazines Yasu brought, only today he wasn’t and he knew she did it to avoid him. So, he knew she was not okay and she was hiding behind her walls. Normally he would be the one allowed inside the walls, but now she was putting them up against him to. It hurt.

He had almost told his parents last night, almost caved when his mother had asked casually how his time with Mac was and how she was. Asked him to bring her home with him again soon. But he hadn’t. The guilt and need to protect her was in constant conflict inside of him. The others hadn’t known what to do or say last night after she left, they were still stunned by what they had learned and Daiki knew that Mac hated the fact that they now knew.

He walked beside her to the gym and practice, her eyes never glancing over at him and he sighed. They entered the gym and Mac left him to go and join the coaches like she normally did, he paused as he watched her answer in a quiet voice as Sanada asked her something.

“She came?” Ryota asked startling Daiki out of his thoughts and glanced at the blond with an annoyed look. He just grunted in reply before going to get ready before the practice started.

He jogged over to stand beside Tetsuya and gave him a tight smile, before turning his attention to the coach who was talking about practicing on defence and told them to pair up two and two. He looked at Mac but found her hiding behind the notebook, he couldn’t help but feel sad and worried. He needed to talk to her, to let her know he was still there for her. He caught sight of Seijuro and found him watching Mac too, his red eyes worried and pensive.

 

“Here,” Mac stilled as a bottle of water was hovering in front of her and she recognised the voice as Seijuro’s. She took it when he nudged it against her forehead lightly. “Are your arm ok?”

Mac blinked and nodded, “yeah, it’s fine.”

“Good,” Seijuro simply said sitting down next to her. Mac wasn’t sure what he wanted, but he didn’t say anything in a long while so she went back to writing in her notebook as she watched Daiki and Ryota practice defence. “How is Kise doing?”

“He’s getting better,” Mac said relaxing a little at the normal question. “Daiki still gets past him, but he’s moving better and making it more of a challenge.”

“I’m glad;” Seijuro said and his eyes shift of to the grey haired player who are playing against Tetsuya. Mac notice the cold look in Seijuro’s red eyes and arched a brow as she looked at him.

“What are you planning on doing with Haizaki?” Mac asked quietly and Seijuro looked at her. “I’ve seen the way you observe him sometimes. Like you’re considering something.”

“I don’t know,” Seijuro admitted and Mac almost smiles at the admission, it wasn’t every day you hear the mighty Akashi Seijuro admit that he didn’t know something.

“Right now I think Kise is a better fit with the team,” Mac said and Seijuro nodded in acknowledgment to her statement.

 

Meanwhile at the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes

Suzuki Ami sighed tiredly as she took a sip of the cooling coffee and grimaced at the bad taste, the pile of paper on her desk never seemed to get any smaller and she had been reading through the rapports for hours now. She took another sip of the bad coffee, grimaced, and rolled her eyes at the note from the reversal squad that went out to fix the mistakes, stating that the child didn’t know that it was his father’s wand and had accidentally turned his friend into a toad.

She paused when she reached a file stating that there had been a weak detection of accidental magic in a local convenience store in Tokyo, and the reversal squad had gone but not found anything amiss or found any trace of magic there. What was unusual about it was the fact that they barely felt it, the detectors had barely alerted them of the accidental magic.

She skipped to the interview they had conducted with the store attendant and read his statement:

It was like an earthquake, I thought it was so I hid behind the counter. Only then I realised that the ground wasn’t shaking, only the items on shelves and the glass in the window. It stopped after two-three minutes. […] Who was in the store at the time, you ask? Just some teens, a girl and several boys. I had the impression there was a problem, but they assured me it was just a misunderstanding. Kids, you know. Well, they behaved well enough and bought what they wanted before they left. The girl, though, looked a little pale.

Suzuki frowned as she tapped the quill against her chin, the bad coffee forgotten as she pondered who this unknown magical person was. Could it be one of the teens? But then they should have been at a magic school… it was just in the beginning of the school year, after all. It seemed unlikely that it was one of the teens, but… who else could it have been?

There was no clue on who the teens were and the man had already been obliviated, so they couldn’t go back and asked more questions. Frustrated she leaned back in her chair and cursed the overly effective reversal squad, sometimes.

 

Back at Teiko

 

The week passed quickly and Mac relaxed more and more around her team, they still showed up around her and talked to her like they normally did. They never mentioned the night, and she appreciated it. They seemed to respect her silence on the matter at least for now. If they were more protective than before, she didn’t mention that either. She was used to Daiki growl at anyone who looked at her wrong, but when Atsushi stepped in when she was knocked out of the way, by accident mind you, in the hallway, she was slightly taken aback. His glowering scared the poor kid, and Mac reached out to calm the tall centre down and gave him a small smile. He smiled back and ruffled her hair.

“Kenzie…” Daiki pouted and Mac sighed and rolled her eyes. “Please.”

“Fine,” Mac said and Daiki grinned and punched the air like he had won a big victory. Mac chuckled amused and pretended not to notice how the others glanced at her when they heard her and got a relieved look on their face.

“We’re playing!” Daiki cheered and bounced the ball against the floor before jumping up and shooting it through the hoop. “I’m calling Kenzie on my team.”

Mac just shrugged and walked to join him, soon the teams were divided and looked like this: Daiki, Mac and Tetsuya against Shintaro, Atsushi, Seijuro and Ryota.

Mac had fun for the first time in what felt like forever, as she challenged Seijuro in a one on one duel almost managing to win, but smiled even as he passed to Shintaro who scored, not betraying anything as he pushed his glasses up and turned to walk back to his own hoop.

“Mac!” Daiki called and she caught the pass before passing and watched how it changed course and found Daiki who scored again grinning and fist bumping Tetsuya who was smiling slightly.

 

“Why aren’t you playing on our team?!” Ryota blurted out when they finished and Mac accepted the towel from Shintaro who nodded at her before turning back to his own.

Mac stilled before glancing at the others, she saw the curious looks on their faces, only Daiki had the familiar dark look on his face.

“I don’t need permission to be manager on the boys’ team,” Mac finally spoke up her voice tight, but also carefully blank, “but I would need permission from a guardian to play on the boys’ team, even if there aren’t any rules against it.”

They didn’t say anything else and Mac just shrugged concentrating on the water bottle, finding it very fascinating.

“Let’s go eat!” Daiki suddenly said breaking the tense silence and Mac smiled a little knowing he had done it on purpose. The others agreed and Mac decided to come.

 

Mac walked up the path to her home, it was later than normal but with the new treatment from her relatives she wasn’t sure her absence would be noticed. They seemed stuck on treating her like she didn’t exist and every space she was in was empty. It was getting kind of lonely at the same time as freeing.

She frowned when she didn’t hear anything when she stepped into the house, normally she would have heard the TV or her aunt prattling about her day from the living room. Now, it was only silence. A feeling of foreboding filled her as the house felt…different.

Mac paused outside the door into the living room before she walked inside, it was empty. Completely empty, not even any furniture was left in the room. She felt her breath catch in her throat as she frantically looked around the room, like she was seeing this wrong and that the furniture was there. Mac wasn’t sure how long she stood frozen on the floor before she moved to the kitchen and found it empty as well, she moved from room to room, even daring to step into her aunt and uncle’s room to find the same result. There was no evidence that they had ever been in the house.

“Aunt Petunia?”

“Uncle Vernon?”

No one answered, only silence filled the house and it was the most oppressing sound she had ever heard.

Mac shakily moved to her room and found for the first time furniture and her few possessions still where she left them that morning. Her mind was blank; it was like it wouldn’t process what she was seeing and what that meant. What was going on? Where… where were her aunt and uncle and cousin? Where…

She fell to her knees as tears filled her eyes and they started to fall. They had left… that was the only explanation. The only explanation that made sense. They were gone and she was left behind. It hurt surprisingly much. It was proof, she was dispensable, and she was really nothing to them. They really didn’t want her.

She felt everything inside her shatter together and every hope and longing for a family fell apart, everytime she sat in her cupboard back in Surrey and listened to the laughter and joy right outside her door, longing to join in and be a part of it, the way she heard the pride and love as her aunt and uncle talked about her cousin and prayed they would one day talk like that about her too. All of it felt like burned inside of her and she let out a loud and piercing scream!

She felt the walls in the room shake badly and heard the shattering sound of glass but it didn’t register in her mind as she fell to the floor in desperate sobs. Sobs shook her body as she realised that she was abandoned. She was…alone.

 

She didn’t know how long she stayed there, on the floor, crying. It was the cold air that seemed to bring her out of it and she pushed herself up. Rising a hand she wiped the tears away from her cheek, but she knew her eyes were red from the crying and her throat felt sore. She got to her feet and started to move around the room, her mind still blank. It was like she was moving on autopilot and she gathered her things together, not that she knew where she was going or what she was going to do next.

“Ouch;” Mac groaned and hurriedly stepped back when she felt pain in her feet and she looked down and saw the broken glass on the floor. She was surprised to see the blood on the floor as well and moved her eyes to her foot and saw blood soaking the sock. “Bugger.”

The pain actually helped her clear her mind a little as she grabbed a clean shirt and ripped it into shreds and tied it around her foot as tight as she could, only making sure the glass was out of the wound before she did so. She glanced at the window and frowned, when had it shattered? Her memory was foggy, but she thought she had made it shatter… She also noticed that it was almost morning, she had spent more time on the floor crying and probably sleeping a little as well, than she thought.

She also knew she couldn’t stay here, she knew her uncle had rented it through his work and with him and her aunt g-gone, the house would be rented out to others. Besides, she didn’t have the money to rent this place. Or any place… fear gripped her. What was she going to do? She could try and get a job, but who would hire a thirteen year old? Her pulse quickened and she felt the same strange presence inside of her rise up and pressing against her skin. She fisted her hands and forced herself to calm down. Deep breaths, she whispered to herself. In and out… in and out…

She packed her few belongings when she managed to calm down, knowing she had to leave this house before the neighbours woke up. They would find it strange if they saw her after her relatives had moved. She didn’t have much, so everything fit into her schoolbag. Just as she finished she heard something from the outside and she froze. Voices, talking in Japanese, but she couldn’t make out what they were saying was coming closer.

Her breathing quickened again and she gripped her bag and pressed it against her chest as she painfully stepped toward the broken window. She had to get out. What if it were the renters or the police? She couldn’t be caught here… how was she going to explain this?

Chapter Text

2nd year – Teiko – continued from last time

 

Mac looked around frantically for a place to hide or get away, the voices were getting closer now and she could make out a few words.

“…it happened here…”

“…who do you...?”

“….accidental ma… powerful…”

She could now make out that there were two persons out there, a male and a female, but Mac still didn’t know who they were or what they wanted. All she knew was that she had to get out, get away. Mac couldn’t find a place to hide, and if she left through the door they would see her. She ignored the painful throbbing coming from her foot, the glass on the floor was hard to avoid where she was pressed against the wall.

The fresh air hit her neck and she felt her eyes widen before she moved before really thinking, since the window was broken she could climb directly through it but she winced as the small shards left on the frame scraped her skin. Just as she was about to let herself drop from the window the door to her room was opened revealing a man with shaggy brown hair and brown eyes and a woman with dark hair and surprisingly blue eyes both staring at her in shock.

Mac fell to the ground underneath her window and winced as the wound on her right foot throbbed extra from the fall, even if it was short. She hear movement from inside and started to run, even crippled she was fast and she didn’t look back to see if she was followed. She reached the corner of the house and rushed down the path and out into the street that was barely starting to come to life again.

Luckily for Mac she was very familiar with the street, used to run through it hiding from Dudley and knew all short cuts and hidden paths that were there. She wasn’t sure how long she kept running, but soon she stopped. She couldn’t hear anyone coming after her, but also her foot hurt. Badly. She grimaced and looked down realising that she had forgotten shoes. Not that she had much chance to get them with the intruders in the house.

Just who were they? What were they doing there? They had also seemed shocked at seeing her, like they had seen something or someone they didn’t expect, but who did they expect to see then? The questions spun in her mind but she had no answers to give herself. She sighed and sat down on the ground, hidden behind a tree so she couldn’t be seen from the street. She pushed the thought of the intruders out of her mind, she had bigger worries. Like what was she going to do? She was abandoned, left behind by the people who were supposed to care about her… just what was she going to do?

Her mind was blank and everything seemed so impossible and heavy, it was like something was pressing her down and she couldn’t find the strength to get up or even move at all. She leaned against the tree and closed her eye, didn’t even open them as she felt rain soaking her hair and skin.

 

Daiki was still feeling happy about the day before, Mac had been more like herself again and actually smiled and laughed with the team and played again. He had been worried about her ever since the others had found out about her home situation, but she seemed to be getting better and that pleased him immensely.

“Morning,” Daiki greeted his parents who were seated by the kitchen table obviously having just eaten, his dad still had the paper out and coffee was still in his cup. His mother was nursing a cup of tea and was chatting to his dad who made the appropriate sounds here and there from behind the paper.

“Morning, Daiki,” Ayano smiled at her son. “You’re up early. I expected you to sleep in like you normally do on Saturdays.”

“Woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep,” Daiki shrugged.

“Are you meeting Mac today?” Ayano asked with that look she so often got when she talked about Mac, much to Daiki’s confusion.

“I don’t know,” Daiki shrugged. “I’ll see if she shows up at the court or not.”

His father looked away from his paper and frowned slightly making Daiki arch his brow at him.

“Even in this rain?” Takahiro asked.

“Rain…” Daiki blinked and looked outside and true enough, it’s raining. He feels his shoulders slump in defeat and sighs. “Oh.”

“She can come over here if she wants,” Ayano said.

“I…maybe;” Daiki said and looked at his breakfast in disappointment. He had wanted to go to the street courts with Mac later like they used to do, but didn’t have the time for much lately.

 

Daiki was in his room playing a videogame while occasional glancing out the window to still find it raining, even heavier than before. He wondered if Mac still would go to the court when it rained like that, it always varied if she did or not. Maybe he should go and check soon? Even if they couldn’t play she could come over like his mum said. It would be better than being in her house.

“Daiki! Food’s ready!” Ayano called from downstairs and Daiki blinked realising he had fallen asleep and it was already time for dinner. He sat up and rubbed his eyes as he tried to wake up more.

“Coming!” He called back realising he hadn’t answered. The rain sounded harshly against his window and he frowned at it. Getting up and leaving the room he made his way downstairs and found the rest of his family already sitting around the kitchen table and the food on the table.

He sat down and enjoyed the casual conversation around the table, Shiro was complaining about not being allowed to go outside to play football. It was totally the wrong sport, if you asked Daiki, but Shiro wouldn’t listen to him. Mac had made the mistake to tell Shiro she thought he was good football player and looked cool in his Real Madrid shirt, so of course now the only sport on Shiro’s mind was football.

After dinner Daiki was roped into playing a videogame with both Shiro and Sayuri in the living room,, and time spent with his siblings made him forget to go to the court like he had planned to do after dinner.

Suddenly the doorbell chimed and Daiki looked up and saw his mum washing the dishes in the kitchen from where he was sitting, and knew his dad was in his office working on his new novel. He paused the game and got to his feet.

“I’ll get it,” Daiki called and ruffled Shiro’s hair as he passed him making the younger boy glare at him. Daiki just smirked at him before he reached the door and opened it.

Shock and worry hit him as he recognised the person standing outside the house. Her reddish black hair, usually messy, was soaked around her pale, very pale, face. He could also see that her eyes were red even behind her glasses that was clouded with raindrop and fog coming from the rain. Also, her clothes were thoroughly soaked through, clinging to her body that was shivering in cold.

“Kenzie!” Daiki gasped. “What…”

She barely blinked at him, like she couldn’t really hear him. She opened her mouth but nothing came out.

“Mum!” Daiki called not knowing what to do and really worried for his best friend who looked like she would fall over at any second. “MUM! COME QUCK!”

Daiki heard footsteps and knew his mum was on her way, he reached out and grabbed Mac’s arm when she swayed and pulled her inside, she didn’t protest or say anything just followed him in and he shut the door with a sharp click.

“What is it, Dai…” Ayano started to asked before entering the hallway and gasped when she spotted Mac and rushed over to the girl who flinched when the older woman came close and Daiki frowned at her in worry. “Mac!”

“Honey? Daiki, what’s the yelling about?” Takehiro asked and froze when he saw Mac before frowning worried.

“Mac?” Ayano asked but Mac didn’t say anything nor did she look at her, Daiki felt her shiver and noticed the bag in her hand for the first time. She had it clutched to her chest like she was afraid to let it go. “Daiki?”

“She didn’t say anything…” Daiki said worried. “Kenzie? What’s wrong? Are you hurt?”

Takehiro shot a sharp glance at Daiki before looking back at the young girl who had so often been a visitor in their home, it was clear something was wrong.

“Sweetie,” Ayano said and tried stepping closer again and this time Mac didn’t flinch away. Ayano reached out and felt her forehead frowning when she felt how cold she was and wet. “We need to warm you up.”

Mac still didn’t answer and Daiki pulled at her a little to make her move and noticed the slight wince as she did and frowned at her and looked down. He blinked.

“Her shoes…” he mumbled making his parents follow his gaze and Ayano bent down and gently grabbed her right foot. It was wrapped in a makeshift bandage, but she could see blood on it.

“She’s bleeding,” Ayano said. “I’ll need to clean it and see if she needs to go to the hospital.”

Daiki scowled and fisted his hands as he watched his mother lead Mac away from him and toward the bathroom. He knew his mother was the best to look after Mac right now, but he wanted, no needed, to be the one to help her.

“Daiki-nii-chan?” Shiro’s voice brought him out of his thoughts and he eased the scowl on his face when he noticed his two younger siblings standing quietly in the doorway looking scared and worried. “Is Mac-nee-chan ok?”

“She’ll be fine,” Daiki said but he wasn’t sure if he said it to reassure them or himself.

Takehiro placed a hand on his son’s shoulder squeezing it comfortingly. Daiki inhaled deeply trying to calm down.

Mac felt more than she saw Daiki’s mum help her into the bathroom. Her mind was a mess, all she could think was; they’re gone, over and over again. She wasn’t even sure how she ended up at Daiki’s, but it was like her feet took over and suddenly she found herself in front of his house. She just wanted his warmth, his joy…the same things that pulled her to him when they were kids.

“Sit down, sweetie,” Ayano said her voice sounding far away but Mac sat down and helplessly allowed the older woman to undress her. She knew she should feel shame and embarrassed but she was just so tired, she couldn’t feel anything in the deep empty hole that was curved inside her chest.

Ayano stepped away for a moment leaving Mac sitting motionless on the stool she had been positioned on. She soon heard the shower being turned on and then Ayano was back and led Mac to the shower. The water felt hot and warm but after a moment it felt good against her cold skin. She allowed Ayano to help her shower, almost like Mac would imagine a mother would help their daughters. The thought made Mac’s throat thicken and the pressure on her chest to tighten painfully.

“Come on, Mac,” Ayano murmured and Mac realised she was done and soon found herself back on the stool. “I need to clean your wound and check it, ok?”

Mac barely nodded, and Ayano smiled reassuringly at her before she leaned over the wound underneath her right foot. Mac winced as she probed at it and poured something over it, letting out a low hiss as the pain hit her.

“I’m sorry, Mac,” Ayano apologized, “I had to clean it with an antibacterial ointment so it won’t get infected.”

Mac understood but she didn’t answer, she couldn’t find her words or how to say anything. It was all too much. Ayano moved around her and Mac watched her warily and tiredly. Finally she was dressed again in some clothes that belonged to Daiki, they were too big for her but at least they were dry. She snuggled into it letting the warmth comfort her and the clothes smelled a little off Daiki.

 

“Daiki?” Takehiro asked when the silence stretched in the living room. The two youngest kids had been sent to their room to play and had gone surprisingly easy, but they sensed they needed to give them some space.

“What should I do, dad?” Daiki whispered sounding broken, “I… I want…”

“You want what?” Takehiro asked calmly, he looked quite a bit like his son. His hair was dark blue and the same blue eyes as his son.

“Hurt them for hurting her,” Daiki scowled. “I…”

“You think someone hurt her?” Takehiro asked sharply his eyes scanning his son who looked down. “Daiki.”

Daiki looked up knowing the tone meant that his dad meant business and that he better answer. He also knew that he had promised Mac to stay silent and let her handle everything, but it was clear she couldn’t, and neither could he. It hurt. He wasn’t strong enough to protect his best friend and that was just wrong!

“Who do you think hurt her?” Takehiro asked his voice serious and calm, but Daiki saw the glint in his father’s eyes so he knew his dad was angry at the idea of anyone hurting Mac and that calmed Daiki a little. His dad cared for Mac as well, he would help.

“Her cousin,” Daiki admitted and saw his dad raise a brow, “he doesn’t like Kenzie.”

“Her aunt…” Takehiro started but Daiki scoffed.

“They know and does nothing,” Daiki sneered. “They…”

“Daiki,” Takehiro was in front of his son and placed his hands on his shoulders. “How long has this been going on?”

Daiki looked away ashamed. “I…I…She made me promise not to say anything… she was afraid… I… didn’t want to break her trust and… they never hit her, I asked her. She said they only had her do chores and her cousin bullies her, but… she…”

Takehiro sighed and looked tired all of the sudden, “Daiki, calm down. We’ll figure it out, ok? We’ll help her now and she’ll be fine.”

Daiki nodded and glanced toward the bathroom where his best friend was and felt guilty for telling his dad, but he knew he had to. They couldn’t handle this anymore. Not when she turned up hurt and wet and cold… He fisted his hands as anger built in his chest.

 

Mac was led to the sofa in the living room and Daiki was right there immediately and pulled her against him on the sofa, she snugged into his warmth and turned to hide her face against his shoulder. She was vaguely aware that Ayano and Takehiro had left the room, but she didn’t know what they were talking about.

“Kenzie,” Daiki whispered sounding pained. “Please, talk to me.”

Mac tightened her grip on his shirt and inhaled his scent before pulling back a little, his presence and warmth calming her down for the first time since she came home and found the house empty. His navy blue eyes were dark in worry for her and he looked so sad that it startled her a little.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “Sorry…sorry…sorry…”

Tears slipped from her eyes and Daiki froze as he saw her cry, not knowing what to do he looked around frantically and saw his parents enter the living room again. He could tell that his dad had told his mother about what he had told him, given the dark look in her normally warm brown eyes. When she saw Mac’s tears now she looked concerned again. Daiki looked at her asking with his eyes what to do. Hug her, his mother mouthed and Daiki pulled Mac into a hug and she burrowed into him again.

“Mac,” Ayano spoke softly minutes later, her and Takehiro having taken a seat only watching Daiki hugging his best friend who was crying against his shoulder. “Can you tell us what happened?”

Mac stilled and Daiki felt her tense and clutch his shirt harder. He softly rubbed her back trying to comfort her and calm her down. She didn’t pull away from him even as she turned her head slightly so she could look at his parents.

“Did someone hurt you?” Ayano asked bluntly yet softly.

Mac blinked before shaking her head.

“Mac,” Takehiro spoke up and Mac looked over at him, his eyes concerned. “You can trust us, we’ll do everything we can to help you. If…if someone hurt you, you can tell us.”

Mac frowned and glanced up at Daiki who looked guilty and wouldn’t meet her eyes. She sighed and pulled away a little, but not completely. She still needed his warmth.

“They didn’t hurt me,” Mac whispered her voice sounding hoarse and throat was sore from all the crying she had done. She hated crying.

“Your cousin…” Daiki started.

“Dudley didn’t do this,” Mac said shaking her head. “I…I broke a window and stepped on the glass…That’s all.”

“With help,” Daiki scoffed.

“No.” Mac said.

“We need to call your aunt and uncle, Mac,” Ayano said and they all saw how she flinched and the pain that crossed her face again, her lip trembled and she turned to hide her tears and pain from them, hiding against Daiki’s shoulder.

“Kenzie?” Daiki asked confused and worried when she didn’t respond to his parents.

“They’re gone,” Mac whispered. “They’re g-gone.”

“What?” Takehiro asked frowning confused.

Daiki felt her tremble against him and he tightened his hold on her, but she was still trembling, shaking like she was about to break apart. It was the first time he ever saw his strong best friend like this.

“Kenzie?” Daiki whispered.

“They’re gone,” she said again. “They…l-l-left.”

Daiki tensed and scowled as he caught her meaning and his heart broke for her, he heard his mother gasp silently and saw her hand go to her heart as she looked at Mac with wide eyes.

“Mac, sweetie, what do you mean?” Ayano asked despite knowing what she meant. “When did they leave? When will they be back?”

Mac pulled away from Daiki and instantly missed his warmth, but she needed to face this. It wasn’t any other way and she…she trusted Daiki’s parents. At least more than any other adult she knew.

“They won’t be,” Mac whispered. “They won’t be back. They’re gone, and they left me here in Japan on my own.”

“But…” Takehiro seemed unable to believe it.

“They won’t be back.” Mac repeated and bowed her head, her hands fisted against her thighs so hard her knuckles turned white. “I’m…I’m all alone.”

Her voice broke and she blinked trying to keep the traitorous tears away, but they were right there betraying her storm of emotions and hurt. Ayano saw that it was turning out to be too much for the young girl and she got to her feet drawing the attention of her son and husband while Mac didn’t even look up.

“You must be hungry, Mac,” Ayano said, “just wait a little while and I’ll have dinner ready for you.”

 

Soon Mac was fed and fallen into an exhausted sleep on their coach, Daiki pulling a blanket over her and took a seat in a nearby chair ready to keep watch over his best friend who he had failed to protect. His parents were in the kitchen and Daiki could hear their murmuring voices, no doubt discussing what to do next. He bowed his head as he remembered how scared Mac had been when she was eight years old of being left by her so called family and ending up in the system. He hadn’t understood, if her family treated her so bad then why would she want to stay with them?

“Why…” he murmured but didn’t finish as he closed his eyes and felt his shoulders slump even more.

Daiki was unsure how long he sat there or how long Mac slept for, all he knew was that it was suddenly darker outside and Shiro and Sayuri came and whispered good night. He blinked and looked at Mac who was still sleeping, her face still looked pale and troubled a small frown between her brows.

 

Mac blinked groggily and was instantly confused and struggled to remember what happened as she sat up on the sofa she had been sleeping on. Someone had covered her in a blanket and made sure she was comfortable. She quickly recognised the living room in Daiki’s home and a soft snore made her look to her side to find Daiki sleeping on the floor a blanket covering him and a pillow underneath his head. Seeing her best friend had everything rushing back at her, why she was there and how she had told them…

She frowned and took a deep breath; she had to pull herself together. She didn’t have time to break apart. She had to figure out what to do, not that she was any closer than the day before. She blushed as she remembered how she had clung to Daiki, how he had held her. She wasn’t sure why she felt butterflies in her stomach just at the memory of her falling apart in his arms and him holding her close.

She pushed the confused and strange thoughts and feelings away not knowing what they were or what they meant. She just knew she felt safe with her best friend and that was what she had needed yesterday. She had needed her anchor, he was the only thing that made whatever was going on inside of her calm down and settle enough so she felt more in control.

“Kenzie,” Daiki’s soft voice startled her out of her thoughts making her turn to look at him finding him sitting up. His hair a little messier than normal from sleep and eyes blinking blearily as he rubbed at them with the back of his hand. She also noticed that he had changed and was wearing a pair of slacks and a white singlet showing the surprisingly firm muscles on his arms. “You’re awake.”

“Yeah,” Mac whispered. “You didn’t have to sleep in here with me, you know, Daiki.”

Daiki smiled seeming relieved about something she wasn’t sure about. He shrugged and got up from the matrass on the floor.

“Are you hungry?” Daiki asked, “I’m sure we can have some cereal before mum wakes up to make breakfast.”

Mac nodded and followed Daiki into the kitchen, she sat down at the table and watched as Daiki prepared two bowls with cereal. Mac loved cereal, it might be strange and others wouldn’t understand it, but it was something she and Daiki ate together and that was reason enough for her to love it. Besides, she never got it from her…she stopped the thought a small frown on her face.

 

At the Department of Magical Accident and Catastrophes

 

Suzuki frowned as she sat down behind her desk again; this day hadn’t started like she had imagined when she came in to the office ready for a new day of reading and correcting the rapports from her workers. She raised a hand and rubbed her neck in frustration, this case was more difficult than she thought it would be.

The morning had started out normally enough with the proper greetings and of course coffee. She had then seen the rapport from the nightshift; while it wasn’t unexpected it was the fact that it was placed right on her desk with the note: ‘Lead in convenience store-case’. She had told the ones watching out for accidental magic and everything connected with it to keep an eye out and let her know if they caught anything.

Excitement built inside her and she quickly sat down and sipped her coffee as she read the rapport, it didn’t say that much. Just that there was another happening of accidental magic in the same area as the convenience store, but this time it was stronger and lasted longer. She saw that it hadn’t been followed up on and knew she had to be the one to do it, she was too curious and if she admitted it to herself, worried, about this case.

She got to her feet and told her co-workers that she would be stepping out before leaving the office to find a friend and colleague of hers that worked with Magical Child Protective Services or MCPS for short.

“Ami,” the man playing with a snitch behind his desk greeted with an easy grin when she entered his office without knocking. “What can I help you with?”

“Michi,” Suzuki said, “I need you to come with me for a house call regarding what appears to be a accidental magic incident.”

Sasaki Michi frowned and looked at his friend with a serious look, “what case is this?”

“I’m not completely sure,” Suzuki admitted and briefed him on the case and what they knew and saw how he listened and thought about what he heard.

“Alright,” he said easily enough, “you want to go now?”

“Yes,” Suzuki nodded.

Suzuki sighed as she remembered arriving at the house; she could instantly feel that this was the place, magic was resting around the house still. Sasaki had looked like he had noticed as well and nodded at her as they knocked on the door. No one opened.

“Leave or go in?” Sasaki asked.

Suzuki nodded and they entered the house, the first thing she noticed was that the hallway was empty except a pair of shoes, maybe forgotten or there was someone in there. They entered the rooms one by one and every room was empty.

“It happened here,” Suzuki said frowning.

“Yeah, I can feel it. Who do you think is behind it?” Sasaki asked.

“I don’t know, but for accidental magic to still be lingering means whoever cast it is powerful,” Suzuki said. “Come on there’s one more room.”

They had walked to the room, expecting to find it empty like the others and both froze in shock when they saw the girl halfway out of the window, and grass green eyes staring at them in horror and fear. It was the fear that had Suzuki hesitated long enough for the girl to let go of the window and drop to the ground outside.

Sasaki moved at the same time as she did and rushed to the window and only getting there in time to see the girl disappearing around the corner.

“Follow or not? Sasaki asked glancing at Suzuki who shook her head. Something had her holding back.

 

Suzuki sighed and leaned forward to rest her head in her hand popped up by her elbow. The image of the girl still flashed in her mind, her reddish black hair messy and covering most of her face, those enchanting green eyes that seemed to hold so much and yet so little. She had been pale, Suzuki thought and she also remembered the blood they had found suggesting she was hurt.

“What will you do?” Sasaki asked entering her office and leaned against her desk. He had a worried frown on his face. “She was obviously staying in that house. That empty house.”

“I would think that this is now a case for you as well as me,” Suzuki said giving him a look and he nodded his agreement, “also, I think we need to give her time to calm down and find somewhere she deems as safe before we approach her. She…she looked scared.”

“But…” Sasaki protested but she held up a hand to stop him.

“You saw the fear in her eyes, Michi,” Suzuki said, “if her fear grows she’ll be more at risk of loosing control of her magic. She’s obviously much older than we suspected and not a child under school age.”

Sasaki nodded and sighed.

The next day they found themselves outside a two story house that belonged to a muggle family, from what they could tell. They had, with the help of the Aurors, used the blood they’d found in the house to trace the girl. They couldn’t do it without the proper authorization, since blood-magic was dangerous.

Suzuki glanced at her friend and he nodded before he reached out and knocked on the door.

 

Daiki’s house

 

Mac sat curled up on the sofa with Shiro and Sayuri on each side and watched a movie with them, she enjoyed the snuggling comfort from the children while her mind was still spinning with everything. She knew she would have to talk to Ayano and Takehiro, but she appreciated that they gave her some space and time right now.

The movie was about to end when the doorbell rang and Mac tensed. She had shut the entire world outside of this house out, and the sound of the doorbell brought it right back. She swallowed thickly and noticed that Daiki glanced at her with that worried frown he had so often that day. She heard Ayano or Takehiro move from another room and move to open the door and let the world inside.

“Shiro, Sayuri, why don’t you go to your room and play?” Daiki asked them and both kids frowned but Shiro looked at Mac who was pale again and knew she needed him to do as his brother said so he nodded and took his twin sister’s hand and walked out of the room.

“We’re here for the girl living in the Dursley house,” Mac heard a male voice say and she stilled completely. She knew that voice. It was the voice from the house, belonging to the man whom she had seen before she ran away. Daiki noticed how she paled and tensed, and rushed over to her and placed an arm around her shoulder but she still remained tense and her eyes were locked on the door to the hallway.

Suddenly Ayano and Takehiro was there with two people Daiki never had seen before but he scowled when he felt Mac flinch and tense impossibly more.

“Who are you?” Daiki growled and his mum shot him a look but he ignored it.

“Calm, young man,” the man said reassuringly, “we’re not here to hurt your friend. We’re here to help.”

Daiki still scowled but he remained silent, maybe because Mac had placed her hand on his arm and calmed him down.

“You were at the house,” Mac whispered. “Both of you.”

“Yes,” the woman said looking at Mac, her blue eyes worried. “We were there looking for you.”

Mac frowned and tilted her head causing her hair to shift and uncover her forehead and revealing that particular scar. Mac felt confused when both of them suddenly gasped and gaped at her slightly.

“Wha…” the woman gasped. “How is that even possible?”

“Woah…” the man gaped and blinked and then blinked again.

“Something wrong?” Takehiro interrupted their gaping and they seemed to break out of it and shake their heads a little.

“Can I get you some tea or coffee?” Ayano offered breaking in and they both accepted coffee.

 

When they were all seated, and introduced, and the adults had their coffee the room was silent and tense, Mac felt uncomfortable with the looks they gave her and the reaction they had to her.

“May I ask why you reacted like that upon seeing Mac?” Takehiro asked breaking the silence again.

“Her scar,” Sasaki said looking at Mac with intense brown eyes.

Mac raised her hand to her forehead almost unknowingly and touched her scar feeling confused.

“My scar?” she repeated.

“You don’t know what it means?” Suzuki asked.

“Means?” Mac felt like a parrot, “it doesn’t mean anything. I got it in the car accident that killed my parents.”

Shock painted their faces as they stared at her.

“Car accident?” Sasaki asked. “You believe your parents died in a car accident?!”

Mac frowned again before she blanked her face and hid the way her heart sped up, only Daiki knew how it affected her given he felt how she clutched his hand in hers, and he also knew just how little she knew about her parents. He was shifting between looking at her concerned and glaring at those who upset her.

“You knew my parents?” Mac asked her voice so calm and cold that Ayano and Takehiro glanced at her, her head was slightly bowed and she was looking up at them between her lashes.

“No, but they’re famous,” Sasaki asked. “And so are you, Potter-san.”

Mac looked at them with her blank face but her mind and heart was spinning, she could tell they were being honest. They didn’t seem to be lying and didn’t seem to be trying to trick her, but she couldn’t trust them.

“That’s impossible,” Mac said shortly, “I don’t know what you know but aunt Petunia, mum’s sister, said mum and dad died in a car accident when I was a toddler and it happened because dad was drunk.”

Ayano and Takehiro glanced at her with worried eyes, but didn’t say anything. They saw how the two visitors exchanged shocked looks and seemed to be debating something.

“Where are your aunt, Potter-san?” Suzuki asked, “I believe it’s time we all have a talk about what is true and what is not.”

Mac flinched slightly as she was remained of her abandonment.

“About that,” Ayano spoke up when Mac remained silent and looked like she was close to breaking again. “They…they left her two nights ago.”

“Left her?” Sasaki asked with a frown, “you mean…”

“They left her behind and she, we, have no idea where they are or if they’re coming back;” Takehiro said his voice colder than how Mac was used to hearing him speak and she shivered slightly.

“They won’t be coming back;” Mac said, “they’ve been planning this for some time. I didn’t realise it until last night. They’ve been acting strange and I know they never wanted me when my parents died. Uncle Vernon liked to threaten me with throwing me out on the street or in a group home…”

Another horrified silence spread and Daiki squeezed her hand in comfort and strength.

“Well… then, we really need to find you guardians and a fill you in on your story and legacy,” Sasaki said frowning as he thought hard. He glanced at Ayano and Takehiro with a thoughtful frown.

“We haven’t been able to contact the police yet,” Ayano admitted, “we wanted to give her time and find out if it was possible for us to help her in some way.”

“We could grant the two of you temporary guardianship of her until we find other family or a better solution for her,” Sasaki said looking at the two Aomine’s.

“Yes, we’d like that if Mac agrees with it,” Ayano said and looked over at the stunned Mac who was gaping at her, tears in her eyes. “Mac, sweetie, do you want to live here? You’re always welcome here, you know that, and we’d very much like it if you would.”

Mac swallowed and felt how thick her throat was and she couldn’t get any word out, so she nodded making Ayano smile warmly and her eyes shone in happiness.

“Well, with that taken care off,” Sasaki said cheerfully he pushed some papers Mac hadn’t even realised he had in front of him toward Takehiro who quickly read through them and signed them.

Mac couldn’t help but wonder if this was the way these kinds of cases went, somehow something told her that it wasn’t. She frowned again as she watched the two strangers who looked pleased and worried at the same time.

 

“So, do you believe in magic?” Sasaki asked bringing the room into shocked silence and Mac felt her eyes widen.

Magic? What… magic couldn’t be real, could it? She thought back to everything strange thing that happened around her and thought it might explain a lot about her 13 year long life. How she suddenly was on top of the roof top at the school in Surry, how her hair grew out when aunt Petunia cut it so short she was dreading going to school the next day… how she had made the items on the shelves shake and broken the window in her room only two nights ago.

Fear gripped her as she realised that this was probably also why she was shunned by her family, a freak, nothing… what if Daiki and his parents also thought that? What if they didn’t want her here anymore?

“Magic, you say?” Takehiro asked his voice calm and not disgusted like Mac feared.

Suzuki explained about the magical communities that lived hidden around the world and Mac could only listen, the more she talked the more she felt out of place and uncomfortable. Magic sounded special, but Mac wasn’t special so it must be a mistake.

“And Mac has magic?” Ayano asked looking stunned.

“Yes,” Sasaki nodded. “She’s a witch, like Suzuki-san.”

“I can’t be,” Mac snapped out tense and on the edge of her chair. “I’m not.”

“Why do you think that?” Suzuki asked.

“I…I just aren’t. I’m not special, I’m not…” Mac shook her head and looked away from them.

“Not special?” Suzuki repeated, “Let me ask you something, Potter-san. Have you ever made something happen that you couldn’t explain? When you were scared or upset?”

Mac frowned, “that doesn’t mean anything.”

“It means everything,” Suzuki said looking at her seriously, “that’s how we found you. First the convenience store,” Mac’s eyes widened and Daiki frowned a little as he looked at them, “the items and windows shaking, but there was no earthquake. Then Friday night when you made the entire house shake and broke every window in the house?”

Mac flinched and looked down, “so they were right.”

“Right?”

“I am a freak.”

“No!” Daiki snapped speaking up for the first time in a long time. “Don’t you dare call yourself that! You’re not a freak! You’re Kenzie, my best friend and special, you’re not a freak!”

Mac nodded but she didn’t really believe him.

“And how do you know of my parents…how…why are they famous?” Mac asked changing the subject deciding she would think about it later. Also, she was burning with curiosity about her parents. “What…what are their names?”

Ayano’s eyes clouded in sadness when she realised that Mac didn’t even know her parents’ names, her heart broke even more for the young girl that was now theirs, temporarily or not, it didn’t matter to Ayano. Mac belonged to them, magic or no magic.

“James and Lily Potter,” Sasaki said even saying it like they would in England. “They married right out of school when they were 18 and had you by the time they were 20.”

“How…how do you know that if you didn’t know them?” Mac asked.

“Because the story of the bravest parents are told all over the world,” Suzuki said gently her eyes warm as she looked at Mac who looked back with her mask on, but she was burning with questions and need to know. “Also, so are the story of the girl-who-lived, the saviour of the magical world and Britain.”

Chapter Text

2nd year - Teiko - continuing from last time...

 

Silence filled the room and Mac stared blankly at Suzuki who was still looking at Mac, her eyes filled with something…something Mac had trouble reading, it was almost expectant. Like Mac was meant to know what she meant. Or something.

“The Girl Who Lived?” Mac finally asked hiding her confusion the best she could, “who’s that?”

The upset and torn glances Sasaki and Suzuki exchanged confused Mac more than she wanted to admit, why would they look upset that she didn’t know the name? Her grass green eyes looked at the two sharply waiting impatiently on their answer.

“The Girl Who Lived is a girl who lost her parents at the hand of an evil wizard, a Dark Lord, who sought to take over the magical world, starting with Britain,” Sasaki said grimly and Mac felt a lurch in her gut as he spoke. “He came to the girl’s house one Halloween Eve and killed the girl’s father, who tried to stop him from entering the house and give his wife and baby girl time to run, first. He then moved to further into the house and found the mother in the nursery. The brave mother stood in front of her baby when he killed her. The Girl Who Lived is called that because when he directed his wand at her and muttered those faithful words he failed and the girl lived when everyone who met that curse before died. She survived and brought the most fearsome Dark Lord in centuries to an end.”

Mac couldn’t explain it, but as he talked it was as if she could see it happening in her mind. She saw a woman with brilliant red hair and a blurry face she couldn’t make out, it was as if she was hidden by a fog, drop a toddler into the crib. The green eyes of the woman were the clearest feature Mac could make out and they looked wide and scared as she stared at the toddler.

“Mackenzie, momma loves you…daddy loves you…you are so loved… Mackenzie be safe…be strong…”

Her voice echoed in her mind like a distant call and filled Mac with a unexplainable sorrow and empty hole in the middle of her chest as she gripped her chest right above her heart. The images continued as a cloaked and dark figure entered the room.

“Please not Mackenzie, please not Mackenzie… have mercy…”

“Stand aside, silly girl, stand aside,” a cold voice answered.

“Not Mackenzie…I’ll do anything…have mercy…”

“Avada Kedavra.”

The woman dropped to the ground like her strings had been clipped and Mac just knew she wouldn’t get up. The cloaked figure turned to her and…a scream filled her mind before she gasped for breath and her hand fisted around the fabric of her shirt above her chest as she tried to breathe. Tears leaked down her cheeks but she wasn’t aware of them.

“It’s my fault…she’s dead because of me…” Mac whispered pained. “She could have lived. He would have let her live…”

She knew now that the girl they talked about was her and it was her mother she had seen in her mind. She was the Girl Who Lived, she was the reason her parents were dead. She was a monster. She was barely aware of the movement around her but suddenly she was drawn into a warm embrace and Ayano’s voice filled her ear.

“It’s not your fault, Mac,” Ayano sounded choked but firm, “you listen to me, Mac, your mum loved you and she protected you. A mother will stand between her child and anyone who wants to hurt her child, just like your mum did. She loved you, Mac. It’s not your fault.”

Mac cried into Ayano’s shoulder and let the woman hold her and comfort her, she felt her stroke her hair and found it very comforting. No one had ever done that before.

 

Mac wasn’t sure how long before she calmed down enough and pulled back from Ayano’s comforting arms, she didn’t look at anyone as embarrassment filled her a blush burning her cheeks. It wasn’t like her to show anyone her weakness and she had showed way to much lately. With great effort she managed to grab control over her emotions again and forced her face to blank out and stop the tears that still wanted to spill over.

She was grateful that no one spoke about her loss of control and they allowed her time to gather herself again. She looked up when she heard the thoughtful sound Sasaki made and found him looking at her with a pensive look on his face.

“What’s strange is why you don’t attend a magic school,” he said when he saw he had her attention. “You’re clearly magical, so you should have been picked up by a school. I would have imagined you having a spot at Hogwarts.”

Mac heard Daiki snort at the name and felt her lips twitch slightly herself. She glanced over at him and saw the amusement in his eyes and she felt herself relax slightly.

“Hog-what?” Takehiro asked confused after a brief fond glance at the two teenagers.

“Hogwarts,” Sasaki repeated with a smile. “IT’s a magic school located somewhere in Britain. It’s a good school and the headmaster of the school is Albus Dumbledore, a wizard who is by many regarded as the strongest wizard alive and a great leader against their fight against their Dark Lord.”

Mac fisted her hands to force the reaction to hearing about the Dark Lord again away, she felt something very similar to hate build in her chest, but she pushed it away for now. She focused on Sasaki again.

“It’s also the school your parents went to, Potter-san,” Suzuki said softly.

Mac looked down hiding her clouding eyes. Her mind was spinning and suddenly she thought back to when they first moved to Japan. It had been a long time since she had thought about the reason for their move and then her mind went to the conversation she had overheard not that long ago. Her head snapped up and she found Daiki who was staring at her with wide eyes.

“You think…?” he started and she nodded.

“Yeah,” Mac said making him scowl.

“What is it?” Ayano asked curious.

Mac looked at her before looking down at her lap again, brows furrowing as she tried to gather her thoughts again and explain.

“My uncle claimed that we moved to Japan when I was 8 years old because he got a promotion at work,” Mac started, “but I heard them talking the night he came home and he talked about someone wouldn’t be able to find us, find me, in Japan. They wouldn’t think to look there.”

Mac glanced up and saw the arched brows but she continued.

“A few weeks ago I overheard my aunt and uncle talking and aunt Petunia was complaining about being here, and that she missed England,” Mac said hiding her wince at the mention of her aunt and uncle, their abandonment still fresh even with the new information. “Uncle Vernon feared someone finding me if we went back, but aunt Petunia seemed to think it would be alright because I was 13 now. My uncle asked for time to think and that he had to figure something out first.”

Mac knew that they had likely started to think about how to leave her behind at that point, but the tripping point had been her loss of control and accidental magic in the convenience store with Dudley. That had sealed their mind, Mac knew it.

“So, you think they moved to keep you away from magic store?” Takehiro asked looking at his son’s best friend.

“Yeah,” Mac nodded.

“But that doesn’t explain why we didn’t pick up on your magical signature,” Suzuki said with a frown. “We should have been able to pick up on your accidental magic quicker and…”

She trailed off.

“I could have gone to your school?” Mac asked.

“It’s not very common that foreigners attend our magic school,” Sasaki said after a brief pause, “but it has happened before. Mahoutokoro is a good school, and it starts from the age of 7, but isn’t a boarding school until the age of 11.”

Mac felt a little curious but at the same time she didn’t think a boarding school was for her, she wouldn’t be with Daiki if she was at a boarding school.

 

Mac fell down on the bed in the room she had been given, she knew that normally it was the guest room or the room where Daiki’s grandparents stayed when they came to visit. She turned in the bed as she tried to calm down and get some rest, but her mind refused to turn off and shut out the thoughts that were spinning around.

Sasaki and Suzuki had just left, saying it was getting late and they would come back in a couple of days to talk more about what to do next. She knew there was still much to figure out and get settled, like where she was going to live. She knew that this was temporary and that Sasaki would be looking for other options. Also, Sasaki had mentioned that she needed to get her magic trained and that it was dangerous to let it be untrained like it was now. She had told them that she didn’t want to quit Teiko, and Sasaki had said they could see if they found other solutions. Like private tutoring, or something. Mac figured it would be ok, but she was unsure about what it meant.

This wasn’t what her mind was really focused on, though, her thought kept returning to her parents. She couldn’t stop thinking about them, she finally knew something about them. Lily and James, that was their names. She smiled slightly even as her throat felt thick with emotions. Lily and James Potter, parents of Mackenzie Lillian Potter. Would they be proud of her? Would they like her? Love her? Was they mad at her for dying for her? Frustrated she turned in the bed before wincing at her wounded leg was knocked against the bed frame.

“Ouch,” she muttered sitting up and gingerly touched her right foot. It was bleeding again. She quickly pushed her foot over the edge of the bed to avoid getting blood on the bed.

Pulling herself up and somehow managing to avoid resting her weight on the injured foot she paused wondering what to do. Should she go and find Ayano? Would she get annoyed if she did? She had already done so much for her, Mac frowned, she couldn’t expect her to give even more of her time as well. She did have her own kids who needed her.

Mac somehow managed to get to the bathroom before she was spotted by Shiro who came out of the bathroom at the same time. His face lit pup in a wide smile making her smile a little back despite the pain she felt in her foot.

“Mac-nee-chan!” Shiro said, “mum said you had gone to bed.”

“I had, but I just need to use the bathroom,” Mac said and Shiro nodded before he frowned.

“You’re bleeding!” He exclaimed, “you’re hurt!”

“It’s fine, Shiro-chan,” Mac tried to reassure the young boy but he was already running and yelling for his mum. Mac winced and sighed as she heard footsteps coming closer and soon Ayano and Daiki was there.

“Mac?” Ayano asked before gasping slightly seeing the new blood on the sock. “Oh no… come here, sweetie.”

Mac accepted the help from Ayano and Daiki to the bathroom and sat down at the stool Shiro came with. Mac gave the little boy a smile and ruffled his hair before he was sent out of the room by his mother.

“You should have called me, Mac,” Ayano scolded gently.

“I could handle it,” Mac shrugged not looking at her.

Daiki was scowling where he was standing by the door, arms crossed over his chest as he was staring at the wound at her feet. She glanced at him before looking away and focused on her feet and watched as Ayano removed the bandage she had put on earlier and clean away the blood before putting pressure on it to stop the bleeding. Mac bit down on her lip to stop the pained groan from escaping.

She blinked when she suddenly found her hand snatched from her lap and squeezed in a slightly larger hand and rougher. She looked up to see Daiki next to her and him giving her a reassuring smile, one of those smiles only Daiki could give. She squeezed back and tried to focus on him and not the pain from her wound.

Soon the wound was bandaged again and Ayano got up and washed her hands clean from blood. She smiled at Mac and Daiki who was now supporting Mac’s head as she rested against his shoulder. Mac blinked tiredly as she registered Ayano smiling at them and pulled away from Daiki with more reluctance than she wanted to admit to.

“Thanks,” Mac whispered.

“Anytime, Mac,” Ayano smiled, “come to me if there’s anything you need help with, ok?”

Mac nodded, knowing she would try not to bother Ayano more than she already had.

 

Daiki scowled as he made his way to basketball practice. It was the end of the day and the day had been long, much too long. His mum had told Mac to stay home today and rest, her foot was hurting her and she was still overwhelmed by all the information she had received the day before. Not that he wasn’t still reeling from all that information. He still had trouble believing magic was real and that Mac was a witch, like a magic witch. It did explain a lot about his best friend though, he thought.

So, yeah, he was scowling because he hated school without Mac. She was always there and helped him stay awake during classes and talk to about basketball or whatever during breaks. The school seemed empty without her and now he had to go to practice without her. He scowled harder. He just wanted to go home and see her, make sure she was alright. That she wasn’t blaming herself to much. He knew her; he knew she still blamed herself for what happened to her parents.

He pushes the doors to the gym open and ignores the others inside as he picks up a ball and start shooting at a nearby hoop. He tries to forget everything and just let the feel of the basketball reassure him, but it isn’t working.

“Aomine.”

Daiki looks up to find Seijuro, Shintaro, Atsushi, Ryota and Tetsuya standing right there and he notices the gym also having filled up as he had been shooting.

“Guys,” Daiki nodded shortly turning to go back to what he was doing, he didn’t feel like being polite or social today.

“Why didn’t Mac tell us she quit.” Seijuro’s words made him freeze in shooting position for a moment before he slowly lowered the ball and turned to find five pair of eyes staring at him with accusation and hurt. He tried to make sense of what Seijuro said, but it was like the words wouldn’t translate in his mind.

“What?” he asked when he found his voice.

“Why didn’t Mac tell us she quit school?” Seijuro repeated and his eyes narrowed as he looked at Daiki. “You didn’t know either?”

“What are you talking about?!” Daiki growled stepping forward. “Kenzie quit school?!”

That didn’t make sense…she was…his eyes widened and he paled. They wouldn’t…would they?

Seijuro was looking at him now with a pensive look in his red eyes, he seemed to be looking for something.

“Kise heard the coaches talk,” Seijuro said. “They said that Mac had quit school on Friday and her relatives said she would be moving away. We wondered why she didn’t tell us on Friday when we saw her.”

“Mac-chin didn’t say goodbye,” Atsushi pouted making Daiki glance at him before looking back at Seijuro.

“So she didn’t tell you either, that is…strange,” Seijuro said.

“Wait!” Daiki yelled angrily and brought the attention from the rest of the team and the coaches who had just entered the gym at him. He didn’t care. “Wait! Kenzie didn’t quit!”

Startled gasps and whispers broke out in the gym when they heard him, but he just glared at Seijuro who narrowed his eyes at him.

“Attention!” Shirogane called over the whispering and Daiki turned away from Seijuro and the others and looked at the coach who was looking at them. The whispering died down as they all looked at the coach waiting for answers.

“Is it true, coach?” Nijimura asked with a frown.

“Unfortunately it is true that Potter-san’s guardians have pulled her out of school and said they would be moving away,” Shirogane said and Daiki had gone still as the coach talked. They really did it. Those bastards…

“Why?” Ryota wailed, “she never said anything!”

“I’m not sure why she never said anything, but the fact is that she and her family has moved away from Tokyo,” Shirogane said evenly not showing the sadness he himself felt.

“Bullshit,” Daiki muttered and ignored the alarmed glance from a sad looking Tetsuya. “Kenzie’s not gone.”

“Aomine,” Shirogane warned. “I understand it’s hard to accept, especially for you, but…”

“She’s not gone!” Daiki interrupted him, “she’s at home with my mum! She’s not gone! I saw her this morning!”

The coach blinked and Daiki was aware that the others stared at him. He scowled and walked or more like stalked over to his bag and pulled out the mobile he rarely used, his parents had given it to him to have a way to get him home for dinner when he was out playing basketball.

The gym was silent as he pressed the right buttons and waited for someone to answer.

“Hello?” A questioning voice answered and Daiki recognised his best friends voice immediately. She must have been told to answer the phone, she sounded almost hesitant.

“Kenzie,” he said and saw the blank look on Seijuro’s face from the corner of his eyes.

“Daiki, why are you calling? Shouldn’t you be at practice?” Mac asked.

“I am,” Daiki said defensively, “but, Kenzie…they pulled you out of school. They said you quit and was moving away.”

Mac went quiet and Daiki wished he could see her face, to know how she reacted. He waited for her to sat something. The seconds ticked away and he swallowed.

“I didn’t think about that,” Mac finally said, “are the others mad?”

“They’re upset,” Daiki grimaced. “They thought you left without saying goodbye.”

“I see,” Mac said and Daiki heard his mother in the background. “Your mum said we’ll be there soon and figure something out.”

“Kenzie…you…they’ll know…” Daiki was unsure what to say, he knew that this meant that everyone would know she had been abandoned.

“It’ll be alright,” Mac said knowing what he meant. “See you soon, Daiki.”

She hung up and Daiki put the phone away again and turned to the watching team. He scowled again, knowing they would drag up everything for Mac again. He knew it wasn’t their fault, but he still didn’t want them to make Mac sad because they were curious or worried.

“She’ll be here soon,” Daiki said and walked to the bench and sat down making it clear he wasn’t going to say anything else.

 

Twenty minutes later the door to the too quiet gym opened and Daiki got up and was already moving toward the door when Mac and his mother entered the gym. He paused a second when he realised she was on crutches.

“Kenzie, are you alright?” He asked worried and she smiled weakly at him, she was pale and he saw the fear in her eyes she was trying to hide. He knew she must worry about how this would go.

“Mac-chhi!” Ryota wailed and Daiki managed to grab him before he threw himself at Mac who blinked at him. “You’re hurt!”

Mac shrugged, “I’m fine.”

“Potter-san;” Shirogane called and Mac looked over at the coach who was watching her with a concerned look on his face.

“Coach,” Mac said, “um…I take it my uncle pulled me out of school?”

Shirogane nodded and was looking at her with a sharp look that Mac rarely had seen on his face before.

“Why don’t we go and talk in my office?” he asked and Mac nodded. She glanced at Daiki and her other friends, she tried to give them a small smile before following Ayano and the coach into his office.

 

Mac was silent as Ayano explained the situation for Shirogane and the headmaster of the school who had been summoned. She didn’t look at anyone as Ayano explained how she had arrived home Friday night to an empty house and that her aunt and uncle had abandoned her in Japan on her own.

“…so for now, Mac is living with us.” Ayano finished her explanation.

“I see,” the headmaster, Hashimoto Arata, said looking at Mac with a thoughtful look while Shirogane looked more concerned.

“You don’t want to quit Teiko, do you Potter-san?” Hashimoto asked making Mac glance up at the older man.

“No,” Mac said, “I like Teiko.”

The man nodded, “with that being the circumstances I am sure we can cancel the withdrawal and have her re-admitted to the school.”

“That would be great,” Ayano smiled and Mac nodded but her face was blank.

Hashimoto got up from the chair he had borrowed from Shirogane and said he would be in touch later and left the office without a look back.

Mac waited for Shirogane to say something, but he was quiet and she glanced up at him to see him still watching her but now he looked older than normal and tired. She glanced at Ayano who shrugged at her.

“Could I talk to Potter-san alone for a moment?” Shirogane asked and Ayano looked at Mac who nodded quietly before she got up and left the office as well.

 

Mac fiddled with her hands waiting for Shirogane to say something, was he mad at her? Did he want her to quit the team? Maybe he didn’t want someone like her to be the manager for his team…

“I’m sorry, Potter-san,” the older man stunned her by saying and her head snapped up and she stared at him.

“What?” she asked shocked. She had not expected an apology, she had no idea why he was apologizing at all.

“I’m sorry you had to go through that and that I didn’t see that you needed help,” Shirogane said making Mac blink and look down not sure how to respond.

“It’s alright,” she whispers.

“No, it’s not,” Shirogane said heavily. “I’m glad you have the Aomine’s now, though. If you need anything I want you to feel free to ask and I’ll do what I can to help you, Potter-san.”

Mac glanced up and smiled a little to the older coach.

 

Daiki didn’t really focus on the training Sanada had set them to do, he was to occupied with the conversation going on in the office. He had seen the headmaster entering the gym before going to the office and being there for a while before leaving again. Soon after his mother had left the office and waved at Daiki before leaving as well, but Mac wasn’t coming out. Why wasn’t she coming out?

Daiki noticed that he wasn’t the only one not focusing properly, the other first years also kept glancing at the office and Daiki caught Sanada sighing a few times. Finally he gave up and ended the practice, telling them to make it up tomorrow’s morning practice.

“Aomine,” Daiki looks up and sees Nijimura standing in front of him with a worried expression on his face. He also notices the other third years standing slightly behind the former Captain.

“What?” Daiki asked gruffly.

“Is she alright?” Nijimura asked concerned.

“She will be,” Daiki said after a moment pause.

“I know she’s a private person and won’t appreciate everyone being her to crowd her when she gets out,” Nijimura said. “So we will leave, but please tell her that we’re concern for her and wishes her the best and that we’ll see her when she’s able to come back to practice.”

Daiki arched a brow surprised that the third year was that attuned to Mac and knew how she must be dreading everyone’s attention and questions. Daiki allowed a small smile to form on his lips as he nodded.

 

Mac walked out of the office feeling tired, her crutches echoed as she moved into the gym and she winced slightly. She didn’t want to bring attention to herself, knowing it was a useless wish. She blinked when she saw that the gym was almost empty, only Daiki, Seijuro, Shintaro, Atsushi, Ryota and Tetsuya were waiting for her.

“Kenzie,” Daiki hurried over to her and looked at her concerned. “Are you alright?”

“I’m fine, Daiki,” Mac smiled slightly, “just…tired.”

“Did they work it out?” Daiki asked worried. “You won’t have to quit Teiko, do you?”

Mac looked at him and glanced over at the others who was watching her with concerned looks.

“Everything is worked out and I’m not quitting,” Mac said with a small smile.

“Good,” Daiki said relieved.

“Mac-chin didn’t say goodbye,” Atsushi pouted and Mac looked over at the tall centre.

“I’m sorry, Murasakibara-san,” Mac said, “I didn’t know my uncle had pulled me out of school when they…” She trailed off and a pained expression crossed her face.

“Mac,” Seijuro looked at her concerned and Mac looked at him, “what happened? Did they hurt you?”

His eyes flashed and Mac was sure that for a moment his eyes changed colour and was yellow/orange for a second before turning back to red. She blinked, sure she imagined it.

“No, they didn’t hurt me,” Mac denied and saw the narrowing eyes from her friends, “Really, they didn’t. I stepped on a piece of glass and it cut my leg. I only have to use the crutches for a few days to give the wound time to heal. I’ll be good as new soon.”

“But…” Ryota started to wail again and Mac shoot him a look and he stopped. She inhaled and was sure they could see the hesitance and wariness in her as she looked at them, all looking concerned (even Shintaro who tried to hid it) and she made her decision.

“When I came home from our outing on Friday I found…that my relatives had left,” Mac said and looked away so she didn’t have to see their reactions.

“What do you mean?” Ryota asked. “Left? Left where?”

“I don’t know, but I would imagine back to England or something;” Mac said, “they never did like Japan.”

The silence stretches and Mac brave a glance at them to see the different variations of shock and anger and she is warmed that they react like that for her, it really hits her then that they really are her friends. Atsushi and Ryota is the most volatile in their reactions, both moving around waving arms and glaring at the air like it had offended them personally. Atsushi was muttering about wanting to crush something and Ryota was wailing and trying to hug her, but she pulled back and Daiki roughly showed him away making him sit down on the floor crying large overdramatic tears.

Shintaro was still, his glasses flashing, but he didn’t move or say anything as he remained at the same spot, but Mac could see the way his jaw tightened and shoulders tensed. Tetsuya looked upset and angry, but he was much calmer than the first two but the anger lurked in his eyes beside the worry he clearly felt.

Last was Seijuro who didn’t say anything, or didn’t look away from Mac, his muscles seemed so tense and he looked ready to spring into action at any time, but it was the look in his eyes that had Mac’s attention the most. They looked darker and deadlier than she had ever seen them before, and she felt a small chill go down her back just looking at them, yet she wasn’t really scared. She knew he was not going to hurt her, and that he was more likely to hurt someone because of her.

“What happens now?” Shintaro finally broke the silence pushing his glasses up as he looked at Mac.

“I don’t know,” Mac shrugged, “they are looking for other relatives though, but I don’t think they will find some. So, for now I’m living with Daiki and his family.”

“Eh?” Ryota exclaimed. “You live with Aomine-chhi?”

Mac saw that the others also were surprised, but they didn’t yell like Ryota did.

“Yes,” Mac nodded, “until they can find someone else or a better solution, they said. I don’t know.”

“So…you might move away from Tokyo?” Tetsuya asked quietly making the others frown and look at Mac who swallowed and glanced at Daiki who was silently watching them, he looked pained as he met Mac’s eyes.

“I…don’t know,” Mac admitted. “I said I didn’t want to move away from here, but…”

The statement fell into heavy air and they all realised that she had very little control over what happened next.

Chapter Text

2nd year – Teiko – a few days later

 

Mac startled awake and jolted up in bed, the covers pooling on her lap as her chest rose and sank rapidly and her breath coming out in shallow pants. She felt damp and sweaty, her reddish black hair sticking to her face in what she realised was both tears and sweat. A hand went to her chest as she tried to calm her breathing down.

“It was just a dream.” She whispered to herself trying to convince herself as the flashes from the dream, or rather nightmare, came back to her in the dim room.

She had been running through a collapsed house chasing…something, shadows and echoes but she would never get close enough to see the faces of those she was chasing, always just the backs… she would run and run, before a dark and looming shadow came behind her and reached for her with a cold laugh making her freeze in fear. Just as he was about to grab her, she woke up.

Mac felt her breathing calm down some and closed her eyes pained; she had the same dream every night since she had been told the truth about her parents and what happened to them. The need to know more, to know them only strengthened as the days passed. What were they like, what would they think about Daiki, would they like basketball, questions like that spun in her mind. She wondered if anyone would be able to answer her questions.

Sighing she got up and moved quietly around the room gathering a clean shift of clothes before moving to the bathroom down the hallway to take a shower, careful to not make to much noise with the crutches as she did.

 

Mac looked up when she heard someone enter the living room where she had been reading a book for her English class, she knew Daiki was ‘reading’ in his room (meaning he was looking at certain magazines and needed her help later). She stilled slightly when she saw Sasaki smiling at her with a cheerful smile, but she felt nerves in her gut build as she spotted him. The memories, which still plagued her at nights, from the last visit entered her mind again.

“Hello, Potter-san!” He beamed.

“Hi,” she murmured back closing the book, he glanced at it.

“Fun read?” he asked.

“Not particularly,” Mac shrugged, “it’s homework.”

“Ah,” he nodded sagely. “How are you, Potter-san?”

“I’m fine, Sasaki-san,” Mac said and he tilted his head slightly.

“I see,” was all he said.

He sat down opposite her and she watched him unable to keep from feeling wary of the cheerful man. She was curious and nervous about what he had found out, if he had found a solution for her living situation. She wasn’t really sure she wanted that, she liked living here. She blushed slightly and looked down to hide it. She fiddled with the book in her lap.

“I’m sure you’re curious about a lot of things,” Sasaki said breaking the slightly awkward silence in the room. “Have you had enough time to think about everything you learned? I know it was a lot.”

Understatement of the world, Mac thought briefly as she flipped the book open and then closed absentmindedly.

“Yeah, I…” she swallowed. “I have.”

“I’ll answer as good as I can, Potter-san,” Sasaki smiled reassuringly at her and she felt herself relax slightly.

“Just… who was he,” Mac whispered glancing up at the older man and spotted the confused look. “The Dark Lord who…k-killed my parents.” She clarified. She had thought about it a lot. She felt the need to have someone, something to direct her anger, her hate at. Right now it was only a faceless shadow with a cold laugh, and he had been lurking in her dreams.

Sasaki looked so grim suddenly, and gave her a long look before he sighed.

“I should have guessed you would want to know that,” he sighed. “Not many speak his name, Potter-san. Not even here in Japan, but its worse in Britain. He was so feared and peopled feared to even speak his name. Even 12 years after his defeat.”

Mac frowned and felt a chill go down her spine; she didn’t say anything as she looked at Sasaki who sighed again.

“Fine,” he said. “His name was… Lord Voldemort.”

“That sound like a taken name,” Mac said looking at him.

“It most likely is,” Sasaki agreed,” but his real name isn’t well known. I don’t know, I would guess that Headmaster Dumbledore is one of the few who knows.”

Mac nodded distractedly but her mind was spinning with the name, Lord Voldemort. A growing hate and anger build in her and she fisted her hands. All that anger inside of her wasn’t normal for her, she was unsure how to handle it or deal with it. It felt like something was burning under her skin all the time and it was hard to pretend it wasn’t there.

“Anything else you want to know?” Sasaki’s voice broke into her thoughts and she forced herself to focus on him. He was looking a little worried as he watched her.

“Um, yeah, my training… you said I needed to get my magic trained,” Mac said deciding to change the subject away from what made her angry.

“Yeah, you do,” Sasaki nodded. “You have a couple of options, Potter-san.”

“What are those?” Mac asked focusing more and leaning forward a little.

“You can go to Hogwarts, I am sure they still would accept you,” Sasaki said looking at her and noting the frown on her face, he moved on, “or Mahoutokoro, our school. You would be forced to start at the beginning, though.”

“No,” Mac shook her head and looked at him. “I don’t want to quit Teiko or basketball. I have my friends there… Please.”

Sasaki looked at her for a moment and sighed. “I know, but…”

“Then I won’t train my magic,” Mac interrupted him stubbornly folding her arms over her chest and glared at him, “I won’t leave my friends because I have magic and they don’t. I’ve been good so far without training it, so why can’t I continue like I have?”

“You will lose control over it,” Sasaki said with a frown, “suppressing your magic is very dangerous, Potter-san. It can even kill you.”

Mac scowled. “I’m still not leaving my friends.”

Sasaki sighed and looked at her for a long time.

“I understand,” he finally said, “there is a third option.”

Mac arched a brow, “what?”

“It will mean a lot of work and you might think it’s too much,” Sasaki said looking at her with a stern look. “You could have a private tutor, being home schooled basically.”

“And how would that fit in with my normal schooling, and basketball?” Mac asked frowning.

“We could apply for a time-turner,” Sasaki said, “I’m not sure you would get it, but…”

“Time-turner?” Mac asked confused.

“It’s a device that allows you to travel a few hours back in time,” Sasaki explained and Mac felt her eyes widened. That was possible?! She asked the same out loud and saw the amused look on Sasaki’s face. “Yes, it’s possible. It’s very controlled and dangerous magic, so we will need to apply and see if you can get one. There will be rules that must be strictly followed, Potter-san, if you do get one.”

Mac nodded and she was curious and eager to see one.

“So, I would be able to go back in time and repeat hours of the day so I could learn magic?” Mac asked barely managing to hide her eagerness in her voice.

“Correct,” Sasaki nodded.

“I want to do that,” Mac said.

“It will mean more and harder work, Potter-san,” Sasaki warned looking at her.

“I don’t care,” Mac said, “if it means I will be able to stay with my friends, then I want to do it.”

Sasaki sighed, but nodded.

They talked a little more before Sasaki got up and paused looking at her for a moment. He reached inside his pocket and pulled something out, from her position she could see it was a piece of paper that was folded in two. He held it out to her.

“What is it?” Mac asked looking at it, but didn’t take it.

“I know you never saw a picture of your parents,” Sasaki said with a gentle voice. Mac had frozen and stared at the folded paper. “I managed to find one from an old newspaper. It’s even in colour. I thought you would like to know what your parents looked like.”

Mac swallowed feeling her throat thicken as she shakily reached out and accepted the paper from the older man who squeezed her shoulder ignoring her slight flinch as he did so.

“I’ll be back soon with more information on your training and we’ll need to go to the magical district to get you your books,” Sasaki said but Mac barely heard him. Soon he was gone and she was left staring at the folded paper.

 

“Kenzie?” Daiki asked worried when she didn’t answer and sat down on the sofa next to her, she was staring at a piece of paper that was folded without really seeing it, Daiki thought. “Kenzie?”

Mac startled and looked up at him, her eyes suspiciously shiny with unshed tears, he suspected and he panicked inside for a second. He hated when she cried, he never knew what to do.

“Are you alright?” stupid question, Daiki scolded himself but he looked at her worriedly. “Did Sasaki-san upset you?”

He should have been there when the man came and talked to her, but his mum had told him to let Mac talk to the man on her own. Sasaki had asked for a moment alone with her. Daiki scowled and started to plan how to get back at the man for upsetting his best friend.

“No…” Mac said shaking her head, “not really.”

“Then what’s wrong?” Daiki asked.

Mac glanced at the paper again and then back at her best friend, she seemed to be deliberating something before she sighs softly and looked at him again.

“Sasaki-san gave it to me,” she said, “it’s a picture of my parents.”

“Oh,” Daiki said quietly realising why she had been staring at the paper. He knew she didn’t know what her parents looked like, and that was just wrong. He glanced at her and saw her eyes staring at the paper again. “You’re not going to look?”

“I’m…scared,” Mac whispered.

“Why?” Daiki asked.

“I don’t know,” Mac said a frustrating frown on her face and biting down on her lower lip. “I have always wanted to see what they look like…and now I can, but…”

Daiki nodded and let her have a moment to gather herself, “what if we open it together?”

Mac inhaled before she nodded and allowed his warm hands to join hers on the paper and together they unfolded it.

Mac felt her breath catch slightly as she was seeing her parent’s picture for the first time. She sees the man, her dad, with messy dark hair and glasses, just like her, having one arm behind the woman’s, her mum, back and the other holding her hand as they danced in front of a fountain. The woman had long red hair, the same red that was in her dark hair, Mac noticed, and the same green eyes as Mac. They were both dressed for cold weather and she could make out leaves fallen on the ground. It took her a moment to realise that they were moving. She blinked and blinked again as she registered the fact that they were dancing in the photo, actually dancing what looked to be some sort of waltz.

Shakily she reaches out and traces a finger over the picture, over her parents. She was unable to make herself look away from the scene of her parents looking so…happy, so in love. She wasn’t aware of the tear that escaped her eyes, but she didn’t really care.

“You look a lot like your dad,” Daiki commented after a while, his voice soft. “But your eyes are your mums.”

“You think?” Mac asked not looking at him and therefor missing the smile on his face.

“Yes,” Daiki said.

 

Mac is tired the next day at school and it feels like the days drags on, the picture is in her bag and she longs to pull it up to look at, to draw. She’s sure she can soon draw it from memory; so much had she looked at it since she got it only the day before. The sadness and bitterness and anger is also warring inside of her and she works hard to try to hide it from the others. She brushes off Daiki’s question if she’s fine, and ignores the way Seijuro is looking at her. She doesn’t feel like explaining herself to them, not now.

Mac walked or rather stumbles through the hallway toward the gym on her crutches, it’s still a little while to the practice, but she wants to get there early. Daiki was held back and had to talk to the teacher, so she made her way alone.

Mac sat down on the bench, only a few people had arrived but they let her sit down on her own. She knew rumours had spread about her relatives and that she lived with Daiki, but no one was confronting her with it so she could pretend they didn’t know. She appreciated the silent support she got from the rest of the first string, though. Daiki had told her what Nijimura had said and she made sure to let him know he appreciate it. The former captain had just smiled at her and nodded.

“You’re here early,” Mac looked up and saw Seijuro standing in front of her. He had that knowing, worried look in his eyes and Mac felt like he could see right through her. He had been quiet since learning about her relatives, and she had to admit it worried her a little. She would catch him watching her, but he hadn’t really approached her. Until now.

“The class finished early,” Mac shrugged with a small smile and Seijuro sat down on the bench next to her, one leg on each side of the bench so he was fully turned toward her. She moved so she was in the same position making him smile a little.

“Play a game with me,” Seijuro said and Mac arched a brow when he didn’t get up but pulled out a small board from his bag, she noticed it was a shogi board.

“I’ve never played before;” Mac said and he looked at her for a moment.

“I’ll teach you, then,” he said and Mac nodded.

Seijuro started to teach her the rules and the pieces with a patient voice, and Mac nodded here and there to show she understood. She furrowed her brows slightly as she tried to understand the meaning of the different pieces, like the pawns, lances, knights, generals, bishop, rook and of course the king.

Mac blinked when she realised that the gym was filled up and Daiki was standing next to them looking at her with an unreadable look on his face. She looked to Seijuro who smirked slightly at her probably noticing her surprise at seeing the full gym.

“Daiki,” Mac said.

“You look occupied,” Daiki said in a tone that made her frown.

“I guess,” Mac said, “Akashi-kun is teaching me Shogi.”

Daiki just nodded, but didn’t say anything as he turned and walked to the centre of the gym and started to talk to Tetsuya. Mac frowned slightly looking after him before shrugging and turned back to Seijuro who had started to gather the pieces again.

“Thank you,” Mac said and he looked up with a raised brow. “For making me think about something else for a while.”

He nodded but didn’t say anything and she didn’t either.

 

Department of Magical Child Protective Services (MCPS)

 

Sasaki Michi frowned as he stared at the large pile of news clippings on his desk. He looked over at the newspaper he had just bought and saw the latest news from England. It was…worrying. While Voldemort was gone, even Dumbledore said he was well and truly gone; there were still people loyal to him. Like this Sirius Black who had escaped Azkaban months ago, almost a year ago. He was still out there and Sasaki worried.

He hadn’t really followed the case when it first broke out; he had just been horrified that someone managed to breakout of that prison before he moved on. It wasn’t like it was covered very well in the Tokyo Daily Mail, because it wasn’t something that concerned them. It was easy to forget about something when it didn’t happen to you or in your own country. Right now though, he wished he knew more.

He had searched for old news clippings about the man, and was now in the process of reading everything he could. He even managed to get a hold of The Daily Prophet from England, but it too was very lacking in new and useful information.

em>BLACK STILL AT LARGE one of the headlines read and Sasaki saw it was published not to long after his escape.

Sirius Black, possibly the most infamous prisoner ever to be held in Azkaban fortress is still eluding capture…(Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban).

Sasaki read and frowned before reading further to where the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge had made a statement about how he had informed the muggle Prime Minister.

Black is mad. He’s dangerous to anyone who crosses him, magic or Muggle.

(…)the magical community is living in fear of a massacre like that of twelve years ago, when Black murdered thirteen people with a single curse (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban).

BLACK SIGHTED NEAR HOGWARTS!

WHAT IS HE AFTER?

A flustered Minister of Magic met the press today, he refused to let out what mass murderer Sirius Black is after, but alluded to a sinister plot against our missing saviour. Is he after Mackenzie Potter, the girl who lived, who are currently missing? Read more on page 33.

MISSING GIRL WHO LIVED

BLACK AFTER THE GIRL WHO LIVED?

It was more articles like that and it was clear that the wizarding community in Britain was scared of this man, it was like they expected him to start where his master had finished. Some articles also brought up the fact that Mac was missing and feared that Black was after her too. They feared he would find their hero and kill her like his master wanted to.

That was where Sasaki’s dilemma lay. Should he inform the British Ministry of their missing hero? He knew that if he did they would want her back, would want, no expect and demand her to attend Hogwarts. There had been a massive search for her when she didn’t turn up for Hogwarts when she should have. He sighed and leaned back in his chair.

“You look conflicted,” Sasaki looked to the door to find Suzuki leaning against the doorframe. He gave her a tired smile.

“I am,” he said.

“About?” she pressed entering his office and sat down on a free chair.

“Mackenzie Potter and if I should alert the British Ministry or Headmaster Dumbledore about her presence here,” Sasaki said.

Suzuki nodded looking thoughtful and looked at the newspapers he had on his desk.

“You worried about Sirius Black?” she asked looking up at him.

“He’s still at large, Ami,” Sasaki said grimly, “and more than one article points to him looking for Mackenzie. He wants to finish what Voldemort started, Ami. The British Ministry isn’t even close to capturing him, and if he can hide this well…then who’s to say he won’t manage to come for her if its let out that she’s in Tokyo?”

Sasaki could see his friend thinking over what he said and saw her nod grimly.

“You’re right,” she said, “right now it seems it would bring more danger to her. But what if she wants to go to Hogwarts?”

“She doesn’t,” Sasaki said, “I talked to her and she wanted to be home schooled at the same time continue with her non-magical schooling.”

“That’s a lot of work,” Suzuki said worried.

“Yeah, but she refuses to leave her friends,” Sasaki sighed, “and I don’t think it’s wise to remove her from them. She needs something stable in her life, and right now that’s her friends.”

“So, you won’t inform anyone in Britain that their hero is here,” Suzuki said giving him a knowing look. “I can tell you won’t. You want to give her what she wants and needs, and I agree with you. She needs her friends.”

“I just worry for the backlash this will bring when they eventually learn she’s here,” Sasaki said tiredly.

“It might be, but we need to put the safety and well-being of Mackenzie first,” Suzuki pointed out. “What about finding other relatives? Have you had any luck with that?”

“No,” he sighed. “I will continue to look though.”

 

Back at Teiko

Mac was sitting in the library doing her homework with Shintaro next to her reading in a comforting silence, she heard the occasional turning of page and rustling of paper, but it only worked to calm her and sooth her as she tried to keep her mind from lingering on magic and dark lords. She turned the page of her sociology book and continued to read.

Finally she let out a yawn and pushed her glasses up her nose just as Shintaro did the same next to her, she felt her lips twitch but didn’t say anything. They never talked much when they studied together, but Mac didn’t need to fill every silence with sound. She was used to the silence and sometimes found it calming.

She wasn’t stupid, she knew that her friends were deliberately showing up around her when she was at school and Daiki for some reason couldn’t be with her. They seemed to want to keep her from being alone for any period of time. It warmed her knowing they took care in showing her that they were there, without really saying anything about her situation or lack of family.

“You prepared for the test?” Mac asked breaking the silence between them.

“Yes,” Shintaro said, “are you okay for the test? Not that I really care though.”

Mac smiled a little spotting the blush on his neck.

“As ready as I can be,” Mac said, “I…keep getting distracted.”

“You’ll do fine,” Shintaro said a little awkwardly after a moment pause. “You know this stuff. You’re smarter than most of the idiots in the class.”

Mac glanced at him and saw that he was deliberately not looking at her and adjusted the lucky item for the day (a box of matches) and got to his feet. He seemed to hesitate for a moment, his body stiff before he held something out to her. She blinked and saw the butterfly strap to put on a mobile in his taped hand.

“Your lucky item for the day,” was all he said.

“Thank you,” Mac whispered and he grunted before turning to leave.

Chapter Text

2nd year – Teiko – Two weeks later

 

Nationals were getting closer and Mac was grateful for the distraction from her thoughts and messy life, there was no news about her application for a time-turner and Sasaki had not been able to find any relatives she could possible live with. She kind of hoped he wouldn’t. She knew it was a risk of having to move from Tokyo if he did, and she refused to do that. So, yeah, nationals were a welcomed distraction.

“Well, hello there,” a want to be smooth voice said making Mac shiver as she looked up and saw the grey haired team member leaning against the doorframe and looking at her with a look she didn’t like.

“Haizaki-san,” Mac said tightly.

“No need to sound so…cold, Mac,” Haizaki said with a leer, “we’re friends, aren’t we?”

“No,” Mac said squaring her shoulders, “what do you want?”

“Hm, that’s not friendly,” he smirked, “and what makes you think I want something?”

“You’re here,” Mac deadpanned.

“Perhaps I wanted to take you out for a little fun,” Haizaki said casually, “ever think about that?”

Mac just stared at him blankly but she was starting to freak out on the inside, he entered further into the room and she refused to show he intimidated her and take a step back even if she wished to do so.

“You’re rather pretty and I can show you much more fun than Aomine and Akashi can,” Haizaki smirked. “Why not come out with me?”

“No.”

He smirked again but she saw the anger in his eyes at the rejection, she had seen him with plenty girls and how they were latched onto him making her shiver in disgust. She had to hide the same shiver now, though.

“You’re no fun,” he said before shrugging like it didn’t matter.

“What do you want?” Mac repeated coldly.

“I want you to get me on the team again,” Haizaki said before narrowing his eyes looking at her.

Mac arched a brow as she looked at Haizaki and saw the annoyance in his stance and eyes, he kicked a bench making her jump slightly but he didn’t seem to notice.

“I’m better than Kise! I should play!” Haizaki snapped. “He is nothing. He comes here thinking he’s all that and just because he can copy moves doesn’t mean he’s good!”

Mac stared at him for a moment.

“Why tell me that?” Mac asked. “It’s the coach who decides the team.”

That wasn’t technically true, many times both Sanada and Shirogane had asked her to decide who would play and even decide the substitutes.

“That’s not true,” Haizaki said, “they let you decide who will play. You just choses your friends. It’s not fair.”

“I choose the ones who performs best during practice,” Mac said looking at him closely, “and I only gives the coaches my suggestions and reasoning. It’s their decision in the end who end up playing.”

“Then suggest me!” Haizaki stepped closer and Mac finally moved as if to gather her things just so she could move away from him.

“Take practice seriously and I will consider it,” Mac said. “Improve and work hard like the others do.”

Haizaki sneered before turning on the spot and leaving without another word and as soon as he was out of sight Mac sat down on the bench feeling weak in the knees. While she refused to let anyone bully her into something, she didn’t like the confrontation. It reminded her of how Dudley and his gang would gang up on her and make her feel small.

Mac gritted her teeth and straightened up, just why should she let Haizaki, anyone, make her feel small and scared? She was more than capable to make decisions on her own and the team trusted her to make the choices best for the team.

Mac tried to push the confrontation with Haizaki out of her mind, she played with the idea of telling Daiki about it but soon dismissed it. While she normally told Daiki everything and trusted him, she also knew he would most likely overreact and cause more trouble if he knew. Besides, she could handle it. She refused to be the weak little girl who had to run to her best friend everytime she was uncomfortable. She had to be stronger.

 

Magical Tokyo

 

Mac gaped as she stepped through the barrier that hid magical Tokyo from the regular Tokyo, while regular Tokyo was modern and had a lot of tall buildings and skyscrapers the magical district had not. It consisted mostly off old traditional Japanese buildings that seemed to have been kept very well over time. Mac felt a buzzing in the air that she couldn’t place, but she didn’t ask Sasaki who was walking beside her looking at her with a small smile on his face, clearly watching her reaction to seeing the magical district for the first time.

It was one of those times Mac felt like she should have eight more eyes or something like that, so she could look at everything at once. There were shops on each side of her as they made their way down the street, one shop with a sign reading Apothecary was on her left and she saw it had all kinds of herbs and things she couldn’t even tell what was inside. There was a kind of strange smell coming from it as well. She moved her eyes to the next shop and saw it was a bookstore, Saito’s books, was written in cursive above the door. It looked cosy and she wanted to go inside, but Sasaki had said they needed to go to Gringotts first.

Mac tried to look at everything as she followed the man inside a large looking building and immediately blinked when she saw the strange looking creatures inside, they must be the goblins Sasaki had told her about. She felt stupid for having expected goblins like in the Lord of the Rings books, of course they were nothing like them. She was also glad she hadn’t told anyone that.

She wished Daiki could have come, but Sasaki had been reluctant to allow it so he had stayed home. Mac really wanted to show this to Daiki as well. She sighed softly as she moved to the desk with Sasaki.

“Next!” A sharp voice called and Mac jumped slightly.

“Mackenzie Lilian Potter wishes to make a withdrawal,” Sasaki said calmly and Mac noticed how the goblin behind the high counter startled and leaned forward and suddenly she was staring straight into a sharp and bony face, his eyes were dark and slightly slanted as he stared at her sharply. She tried to look unaffected but she felt uncomfortable and wary as she met his eyes. She tried to smile, but he didn’t return it and she felt her smile fall.

“Does Mackenzie Potter have her key?” the goblin asked.

“No, that’s were our problem comes in,” Sasaki said calmly and started to explain her situation making Mac look away and tune him out, she didn’t need to hear it one more time. She saw that the hall was crowded with witches and wizards that had business in the bank; also goblins were seated at the long desks working or helping the customers. She even saw some wizards that seemed to be working in the bank.

“Mac,” she felt a hand on her shoulder and looked up to see Sasaki looking at her. “Come on.”

Mac nodded and followed him.

 

Two hours later Mac and Sasaki left the bank with a new key and a pouch with money, more money than Mac had ever had. She had even gotten some exchanged into muggle money, so she would be able to actually pay for her own drinks and food when she went out with her friends. It had been strange learning about the vault left behind by her parents.

It also was strange that even if that vault was in London, they could access it from Tokyo. Magic was strange and convenient sometimes, Mac thought. She now could buy the books and supplies she needed for her magic training, even if she wasn’t completely sure how she was going to get the training, yet. Sasaki said it was still being deliberated.

Back out in the streets she was once more captured by the beauty and magic of the place, a smile crossed her face as she looked around.

“Alright, I believe we should start by getting you a wand,” Sasaki said.

“Really?” Mac didn’t manage to keep her excitement out of her voice and Sasaki smiled and nodded.

She followed him through the crowd and made sure that she didn’t drift away from him, he had warned her that she should keep her identity hidden and told her to keep her scar hidden. While she didn’t really understood why, she did as he said and didn’t want to end up on her own where she might need to tell someone who she was.

They entered a old looking house and Mac immediately felt a warmth and buzzing feeling as she entered the building. She blinked as she felt it.

“Ah, welcome,” an old man with greying hair and grey eyes greeted them from behind the counter. “Sasaki-san, I didn’t expect seeing you here. Have problems with your wand?”

“No problems, Tsukuda-san,” Sasaki smiled cheerfully, “I’m just here to help a young girl getting her wand.”

Mac looked up to find a pair of intelligent grey eyes staring at her and she felt like he was trying to see straight though her. She glanced at Sasaki who smiled reassuringly at her.

“We can trust Tsukuda-san,” Sasaki said which earned a sharp look from the older man. “Why don’t you introduce yourself, Mac?”

Mac frowned slightly before looking at the older man who smiled at her but had a curious look in his eyes.

“Ah, um, right,” Mac faltered a bit. “I’m Mackenzie Lillian Potter, sir. Nice to meet you.”

A shocked look crossed the man’s face before his eyes turned sharp and looked to Sasaki who nodded somberly before Tsukuda looked back at Mac.

“Nice to meet you, Potter-san,” Tsukuda said after a long pause. “I would not have expected you in my shop.”

Mac shrugged and looked around. “I live in Tokyo, so this is the closest one and Sasaki-san said it was the best.”

“Well, thank you Sasaki-san for the praise,” Tsukuda said wryly, “what happened to your first wand? You’re 13 now, right?”

“I never had a wand before, Tsukuda-san;” Mac said ignoring the shocked look. “I didn’t know I had magic until a few weeks ago. My relatives didn’t like it so they pretended it didn’t exist.”

“I see,” the man said and Mac was glad he didn’t say anything else. “Well, let’s find you a wand then.”

Mac’s excitement soon fell as it wasn’t simple to find a wand. She got a wand in her hands and before she could do much it was yanked out of her hand again, before the same thing happened over and over again. She had no idea what the man was looking for as she saw the pile of boxes grow in front of her.

Tiredly she took the wand Tsukuda held out to her and suddenly warmth spread through her fingers and into her chest, she felt a wind through her hair but she didn’t pay it any attention as she stared at the wand in her hands.

“That’s it!” Tsukuda beamed. “Your wand!”

Mac smiled, “my wand?”

“Yes, young Potter,” Tsukuda smiled. “This wand is a powerful and unique wand, I made this one together with the British wandmaker, Ollivander. This is a great wand and is made of holly with a core of phoenix feather.”

He got a pensive look on his face as he looked a Mac, she looked away from her wand and looked at Tsukuda curiously.

“Something wrong, Tsukuda-san?” Mac asked.

“Not wrong,” he hedged, “it’s just…strange. You’re wand is special in another way, Potter-san. The phoenix who gave the feather to your wand gave another feather. We made two wands and the other wand, its brother, is the same wand that gave you that scar.”

Mac stilled and unconsciously reached for her scar, she saw Sasaki looking shocked but she didn’t look over at him.

“Well,” the man smiled losing the considering look on his face.

Mac glanced at the wand and smiled softly, she didn’t mind, the wand couldn’t help who its brother was any more than she could help who her cousin was. Her hand fasten around her wand and she felt content.

 

Teiko

 

Mac found that being back in Teiko was a sharp contrast to the magical district she had been to the day before, but a look at her friends around the lunch table had her smiling and happy to have chosen to stay with them. While seeing the magical district in Tokyo and buying a wand and books and supplies she would need in her magical training gave her a visual of what her life could be like, it didn’t change her mind. She would still chose her friends over magic, if she had to.

“Mac-cchi!”

Mac blinked and looked to Ryota who had whine and saw him pouting at her, she had clearly missed something.

“What?”

“You haven’t played with us in forever!” Ryota said.

“I…haven’t?” Mac frowned thinking back and realised that it was true. She hadn’t played basketball at all in weeks. She had never gone so long without playing, not since she started when she was 8. Well, a lot had happened in the last few weeks though, with the Dursley’s leaving, getting hurt, finding out about magic… but she missed basketball.

“No, you haven’t,” Shintaro said stoically pushing up his glasses.

“Oh, I see,” Mac blinked.

Daiki looked at her and she saw the understanding in his blue eyes, but it was then she realised he hadn’t asked her to go out to play as much as he normally did either. Why was that? Come to think about it, had he been out to play street ball on his own at all? She didn’t think so…

“You should play with us again,” Seijuro said, “today.”

Mac nodded and took another bite of her food while her mind was still thinking about Daiki and his sudden lack of enthusiasm for basketball. That was maybe why she missed the small smirk on Seijuro’s face as he watched her.

“Hey!”

Mac looked up at Daiki’s exclamation and saw Haizaki pushing a piece of food into his mouth before licking his thumb. Daiki looked enraged and was almost up when Tetsuya reached out and grabbed his arm to pull him back.

“It’s fine,” Tetsuya said quietly.

“It’s not fine!” Daiki raged glaring at a smirking Haizaki but he sat down like Tetsuya asked, “he can get his own food and not steal yours!”

Haizaki rolled his eyes, “what? Can’t I join you or is it a closed party?”

“You bastard…” Daiki growled.

“Whatever,” Haizaki said, “I was just here to remind Mac about our arrangement.”

The others looked at Mac who frowned at Haizaki.

“What arrangement would that be?” Mac asked calmly.

“You remember,” he said.

“I don’t remember anything of the sort,” Mac said, “I remembered telling you to show up to practices and act seriously for once and work hard like the others are. Also telling you to talk to the coach if you’re unhappy about the team.”

Haizaki narrowed his eyes at her and took a step closer but this time Daiki was up and grabbed his shoulder and pushed him back before he got close to Mac. Mac realised that Daiki wasn’t the only one on his feet, Atsushi was also towering over the grey haired player.

“Stay away from Mac-chin,” Atsushi warned.

Haizaki sneered but he turned and left the room.

“What did he mean, Kenzie?” Daiki asked turning to her. Mac sighed before telling them about how he had cornered her after the last practice and demanded to let him play.

“If he…” Daiki started looking angry and protective all at once.

“He’s just upset he’s not on the starting team during practice,” Mac said, “calm down, Daiki.”

Mac looked from Daiki to the quiet Seijuro who looked composed, but she saw the anger in his eyes. She felt something lurking underneath his mask, but she didn’t know what nor was she sure she wanted to know.

 

Mac was not paying attention as she finished her notes on the daily observation of the team. Sanada had ended the practice and Mac heard the ruffling of shoes and bags as the team moved around her. It was one of those rare occasions that both Sanada and Shirogane was out in the gym and stayed even as the end of practice. She knew it was because Nationals were getting closer, and they needed to see the team more.

“Mac.”

Mac looked up to see Seijuro standing in front of the other five all looking at her.

“Eh?” Mac blinked.

“Come on,” Seijuro said grabbing her hand and pulled her off the bench getting the attention of the others as well. “Let’s play.”

“Huh?” Mac said before realising what he said and stopped making Seijuro stop as well. “Akashi-kun…”

Seijuro turned around and looked at her.

“You promised you would play with us,” he said. “Are you going back on your word?”

Mac narrowed her eyes as she looked at him. He had planned this, and she had missed it. A wave of annoyance swept through her as she looked at her friends.

“Come on, Mac-cchi!” Ryota beamed. “I want to be on your team!”

“I’m on Kenzie’s team!” Daiki protested.

“Uh-huh, you’re always on her team!” Ryota whined. “I want to be on her team!”

Mac felt on the spot, she was very aware that the third years had paused in gathering their things and both coaches were watching with interest and calculating looks. She shifted slightly on her feet and inhaled trying to gather her thoughts and not overthink this.

“I…I thought you meant later, like always,” Mac said.

“It is after practice,” Seijuro said and Mac gave him a look, he just smirked back. “Come on, Mac. It’s not like your relatives are here to stop you anymore.”

Mac paused and frowned, that was correct. She could play like she wanted to and not need to worry about her aunt and uncle finding out. Daiki’s parents already knew she played.

“Mum and dad already know and would support you if needed,” Daiki said quietly like he knew what she was thinking.

“Fine,” she gave in.

“Great!” Ryota cheered.

 

Mac ended up playing with both Daiki and Seijuro, Ryota pouting for not being on her team but cheered up when he realised that Tetsuya would be on his team instead. She was aware that no one had left the gym, and she felt the slight pressure of having someone watching them, watching her, but she pushed it away and focused on the basketball in her hands and the feeling of finally being able to play again.

She dribbled the ball managing to getting past Shintaro before she passed the ball to Seijuro who spun around and passed Atsushi who grumbled, before he passed to a free Daiki who scored.

Mac smiled before rushing back to defend the hoop, she blinked when the ball suddenly changed course and spotted Tetsuya a second to late, causing the ball to reach Shintaro who scored effortlessly from his position.

“Come on, Kenzie,” Daiki grinned again looking happy to play basketball, “let’s show them what we got!”

Mac smirked and got ready, she moved effortlessly across the court passing and receiving the ball from and to both Seijuro and Daiki like she had done nothing else. She used her reflexes and speed to get passed the well defended goal before she jumped and dunked the ball in with a grace seldom seen on a court.

Mac grinned as the thrill went through her and the laughter from Daiki was heard and pleased smirk on Seijuro’s face.

 

Shirogane was just about to go back to his office when he spotted Seijuro stopping in front of Mac with what Shirogane could only call a mischievous smirk on his face, so he paused and watched. He must say he was surprised when he heard what the team captain said. He saw the reluctance in Mac at first and how she looked over the gym almost looking fearful for a moment before she looked suspicious.

“I wonder…” he mused out loud but it was only Sanada who heard him, but Shirogane payed him no mind as he watched Mac getting talked into playing. It was clear they had played together many times before, and he wondered why he and the rest of the team had never known. Why they had kept it from them and why they decided to let them see it now.

Mac was good at reading the game and analysing the players and their strategies, Shirogane knew this and had learned to listen to her when she said something. He had not known she could play herself, though. Perhaps, it should have been expected. He heard the rest of the first strings murmur amongst themselves as Mac stepped onto the court and watched as the second years started to argue about teams.

It was Mac who decided the teams in the end, and handled it like she had done this many times before. Shirogane was a man who didn’t get surprised many times, he counted himself to be good at analysing and reading people correctly so for him to admit that he was surprised when he saw the way Mac played…well, that was a big deal. He managed to not gape or gasp like Sanada did, but he felt like it.

“I never knew she could play like that,” Sanada said after watching Mac score yet another basket.

“Me neither,” Shirogane said pensively, he was wondering how he could use this to strengthen the team.

 

Mac breathed a little harder when they ended the match and smiled gratefully when Nijimura handed her a bottle, he had a thoughtful look on his face as he did.

“I never knew you could play like that, Mac!” Kubota exclaimed looking at her wide eyed.

Mac was grateful she was drinking water and had an excuse to not say anything, so she just shrugged.

“I have to say I am surprised,” Shirogane said calmly joining them and Mac looked at the coach hiding the worry she felt. She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand as she faced the coach and assistant coach. “You play really well, Potter-san. May I ask why you never tried out for the team?”

Mac knew that question would come and felt Daiki shift from where he was standing next to her, she reached out and placed a hand on his arm to stop him from speaking up like she knew he was about to do. He snapped his mouth shut and glowered at the floor instead. The coach speared him a brief curious glance before looking back at Mac.

“I knew that even if I were to make the team I would need permission from my uncle to play,” Mac said meeting his eyes and saw the frown on his face. “I also knew that he would never give it, so I gave up the idea of playing with Daiki. I thought that being the manager would be enough, and I like being the manager. It’s challenging.”

Mac tried hard to not show the emotions that went through her as she admitted to that out loud in front of, well, everyone. She had not really mentioned her uncle or anything about him to anyone but Daiki and other five friends in the team. It was embarrassing, and she felt ashamed for how they treated her, like it was her fault. She must have done something to make them hate her, and worried that others would see the reason and hate her too because of it.

It was irrational and wrong, Mac knew that now, but it was still hard to shake the way of thinking. So, she didn’t talk about it. Pretended that everything was as it should and she was really meant to be living with Daiki and his family.

“You would make this team stronger,” Shirogane said causing some of the others to start whispering to each other, but Mac ignored them. “Both as a manager and as a player, Potter-san.”

Mac saw that Shirogane meant it, he never said anything he didn’t mean, especially when it was about the team. He wanted the strongest team, and he would do whatever he could to make it. She felt her heart skip a beat in excitement at the thought of being able to play with her friends, to actually step out onto the court by their side.

Mac didn’t say anything as she stared at Shirogane who suddenly smiled and clasped her shoulder.

“Think about it,” he said, “and talk to your guardians. I am sure we can work something out.”

Mac nodded, shocked despite herself, “yes, sir.”

 

Mac watched stunned as Shirogane and Sanada both left the gym and disappeared into the offices in the back, she almost stumbled forward when Daiki clasped her shoulder in joy and excitement.

“We can finally play together, Kenzie!” He beamed looking much like the eight year old she had first met. She smiled back and nodded, she wasn’t sure it had sunk in yet. She could play. The coach said she would strengthen the team and she would still be the manager. It was…everything she had dreamt about.

“I must say I’m more surprised than I should be,” Nijimura commented patting her shoulder making her startled at the sudden approach and touch, she still wasn’t used to others (besides Daiki) touching her. “I hope you join us as a player, Mac. You’re good.”

“Thank you, Nijimura-san,” Mac said shyly.

He smiled kindly at her before he turned and left with his two friends who both gave her a smile and a curious look.

Mac turned to Seijuro who met her eyes calmly when the third years had left and she arched a brow at him.

“You planned that.” Mac said and it wasn’t a question.

“The team needs you and you wanted to play,” Seijuro said casually.

“You could have given me a warning, talked to me about it before springing it on me like that!” Mac said calmly and noticed how the others shifted on their feet and glanced between her and Seijuro who looked calm and unbothered by her outburst.

“I told you at lunch,” was all Seijuro said.

“That…that doesn’t count! It sounded like the kind of playing we always do,” Mac felt exasperated over the casual way he answered her. She knew he meant well and wanted to help her, but she didn’t appreciate the way he just sprung it on her. She turned and walked to the bench were her things were and grabbed them before leaving the gym without another word. She would say something she would regret if she stayed, so she walked away.

 

“Are you mad, Mac-nee-chan?” Shiro asked when she entered the house and she blinked to see Shiro and Sayuri looking up at her. Mac forced herself to breath and smile at the two twins.

“No, I’m fine,” Mac said.

“Did Daiki-nii-chan do something?” Shiro asked with a possessive frown, “do you need me to talk to him?”

Mac smiled more genuine at the offer from the little boy, six year old and looking ready to protect her from his big brother. She reached out and ruffled his hair.

“I’m not upset or angry at Daiki, Shiro-chan,” Mac promised, “but thank you for the offer. I’m really lucky to have you to look out for me.”

Shiro looked proud and his sister huffed at him but she smiled at Mac.

“Mum said dinner would be ready soon,” Sayuri informed her. “So, you should hurry and get ready before it’s ready.”

“Thank you, Sayuri-chan,” Mac said and walked up the stairs and to her room.

Chapter Text

2nd year – Teiko

 

Mac sighed and ran a hand through her hair as she pondered her next decision. She felt the excitement just thinking she would be able to play together with Daiki and the others, but especially Daiki. They had played basketball together for so long and she loved playing with him, but…would she be able to keep up with him and the others in a real match? She knew that all of them had more inside of them, they would grow even more and she knew better than anyone that it was only a matter of time before they did. So, would she be able to keep up with them when that happened or would they leave her behind?

Mac stared at the basket hoop in front of her not really seeing it, but seeing the distant hoop with her friends running ahead of her leaving her to try keeping up. Could she risk it? She really wasn’t sure she could. She was happy the way things were now, with being their manager and analyst. She helped them grow and win matches; she helped them reach farther than they could on their own. Wasn’t that enough? Did she really need to play with them to truly be part of their team?

Mac was so lost in thought that she didn’t notice when someone stopped beside her and looked at her, not until a hand was waving in front of her eyes did she blink and startle a little as she looked around for the source of the hand.

“Kenzie.”

Daiki was looking at her concerned, his deep blue eyes clouded with worry and Mac wondered why he looked so worried and what her expression had been like if he looked like that.

“Daiki,” Mac smiled slightly, “something wrong?”

“You looked upset,” Daiki said frowning, “are you really that upset with Akashi?”

Mac blinked again and her thoughts turned to Seijuro who had caused all this, and while she had been angry at him she wasn’t so much now. She knew he had tried to help and did it the way he always did, by forcing the issue and manipulate the events so it suited him. She just didn’t like the way he did it.

“No, he only tried to help,” Mac finally said looking at the hoop missing the small frown on Daiki’s face.

“Then why do you look so upset? Is it…you know?” Daiki asked and Mac knew he referred to magic and her family, but since they were outside he wouldn’t ask.

“No,” Mac shook her head, “I’m just thinking, Daiki. I…can I really play with you and the others? Is it…okay for me to play?”

Daiki looked at her surprised before understanding crossed his face.

“What are you talking about?” He asked gruffly making her look at him wide eyed. “Of course it’s okay for you to play with us! You’re good, Kenzie! We want, I want, you to play with us.”

Mac stared at him for a long time, looking for a lie in his words but seeing none. She finally smiled letting the excitement she felt burst through and Daiki grinned back. He grabbed the ball she had been holding and started to dribble it. Mac immediately got in position and they were off.

Mac reached for the ball, but Daiki quickly turned to the other side and she only hit air. Quickly following she managed to touch the ball with her fingertips just as he was about to shoot causing the ball to hit the metal of the hoop instead and tip the wrong way and down to the ground.

Mac caught the ball first and dribbled making sure to keep Daiki away from it, but she was being forced away from the hoop by a grinning Daiki letting her know he did it on purpose. She crunched down before jumping and released the ball just at the right time.

Daiki spun around and watched as the ball flew through the air and through the hoop. He grumbled but smiled at the same time. It felt good to play again, just the two of them. It was too long and it was a long time since he had enjoyed playing basketball like this.

 

Mac breathed hard when they finally stopped playing, they had given up keeping the score but Mac thought Daiki had won but it didn’t matter. Today it didn’t matter who won or who lost, it was simply…fun. The need to play and just feel the ball in her hands and her body move and work to get past Daiki’s defence and stop him from reaching the hoop.

“See, who says you can’t play with us?” Daiki huffed out between breaths.

“I’m just worried about keeping up with you all,” Mac admitted. “You’re all so good and you’ll grow even more. I…”

“You’re still a part of our team, Kenzie,” Daiki said. “We’ll always be your team.”

Mac glanced at him, a uneasy feeling settled in her gut but she pushed it away and focused on that he was right. They would always be her team, no matter what happened. She would be there with them and help them grow.

Mac grinned and met him in a high five before laughing being joined by his laugh seconds later. When was the last time she had laughed like this? Mac absently wondered, but who cared? She would just enjoy being with Daiki and knowing she could now play basketball with her friends.

 

Mac swallowed her nerves and nodded trying to look as calm as possible. What if they didn’t want to give her the permission she needed? What if they thought she wouldn’t be good enough…what if…

“Of course,” Takehiro smiled interrupting Mac’s gloomy thoughts making her blink.

“Really?” she asked while Daiki grinned.

“There’s no reason for denying you the opportunity to play with your friends, Mac,” Takehiro smiled at her, “besides, I know you’re good enough to play. I will look forward to seeing you play alongside Daiki in a match.”

“Thank you,” Mac managed to get out blinking away a tear that formed.

“Just be careful that you don’t take on too much, Mac,” Ayano spoke up and both Mac and Daiki looked at her. “You will start your magical training soon as well, and still have your original schoolwork and managing duties. Be careful that you don’t wear yourself out, sweetie.”

“I will,” Mac nodded seeing her point and knew it would be rough, but she wouldn’t back down.

 

Mac walked through the corridors and ignored the students around her like she always did, she had left Daiki and Tetsuya to their silliness, and she thought she had seen Ryota also making his way to the place where they had gathered to eat lunch. So, she was on her own for now but she was almost by the classroom where she knew she would find the person she was looking for.

She paused briefly outside the room before entering and a quick glance told her the room was empty except for Seijuro who was sitting by himself by the window, he had a knee drawn up to his chest and arm loosely wrapped around it as he stared at the shogi board in front of him. He looked…lonely, Mac realised. Was he really lonely, just like she had been and sometimes still was? She took a moment to really look at him, it wasn’t often someone could catch him unaware and really see him without the masks.

He had a small frown on his face and she noticed that he would glance out the window from time to time before looking back at the board set up as if there were two people playing. He must be playing himself, Mac thought.

“Seijuro.”

Mac wasn’t sure what had her call him by his first name, but the name was out of her mouth before she could stop it. His head snapped up and she saw the brief look of surprise before his face fell into the familiar mask not revealing what he was thinking.

“Mac,” he answered.

Mac stepped further into the room and walked over to the desk he was sitting by and sat down opposite him and glanced out of the window revealing that he had view of where Daiki was joking around with Tetsuya and Ryota. Mac noticed that Shintaro and Atsushi had joined them now as well. She turned to face Seijuro again not revealing that she knew he had been watching them from his position.

“What do you want?” Seijuro asked.

“What about a game?” Mac asked gesturing to the board in front of him. He arched a brow before he nodded and set up the board for a new game, Mac watched in silence as he placed the pieces where they were supposed to be.

“You have to continue teaching me, Seijuro,” Mac said with a small smile, “I’m not that good yet.”

“Alright,” he nodded looking pleased.

They played or rather Seijuro taught her more about the game without bringing up their argument the last time they saw each other, but Mac knew it lingered in the back of both of their minds. She glanced at him when he didn’t move a piece for a long time and found him looking at her with unreadable red eyes.

“I thought you were angry at me.” He stated sounding vulnerable in a way Mac never had heard before.

“I was,” Mac said quietly, “but…I know you only wanted to help. I just… I don’t like to be put on the spot like that.”

“You’re good and belong on the team, Mac,” Seijuro said looking at her.

“I appreciate you saying that and believing that, Seijuro,” Mac smiled slightly, “and I have decided to accept the place. I have already talked to coach Shirogane.”

Seijuro grinned and Mac smiled softly at her friend who had quickly grown to become one of her best friends, not surpassing Daiki of course.

 

“Quicker!”

Mac panted as she ran laps on the court, she wasn’t sure she enjoyed being on the team now, thought. For once she was included in the insane training regime they had, and she didn’t want to admit that she had helped develop it with Seijuro and Sanada.

“Faster! Come on!”

Mac groaned but raised her speed as she ran passing Haizaki who was panting even harder than her, she noticed the glare he sent her but ignored it in favour of keeping her pace. She felt it in her legs as she ran and ran, it felt like forever but she knew it hadn’t passed twenty minutes yet. It felt like it never was going to end until a sharp noise sounded and Mac stopped and leaned forward to rest her hands on her knees.

“You okay, Mac?” Ryota asked worriedly.

“Fine,” she smiled shakily, “just…not used to the amount of training yet. I’ll…get there.”

“Kenzie,” Daiki held up a bottle for her looking much to rested for her taste, but she saw some sweat on his forehead.

“Thanks,” she said.

It was a stupid miscalculation on her part; of course she wasn’t used to the training they were doing. She could keep up when they played for fun, but she still needed to catch up in stamina and strength. Well, she would never be as strong as they but she knew she could develop ways to keep up with them anyway. She just had to find a way to use her abilities in her favour and in a way to get the better of her opponents.

 

“You think you belong on the team?!” Haizaki sneered at her roughly shoving her making her stumbled a few steps but didn’t fall. She glared at him but didn’t say anything, she knew he was upset and mad that he seemed to be pushed even further away from the starting line.

“You’re not good enough! What can you offer the team, Mac? They just accepted you out of pity,” he continued to rant at her and she flinched slightly as he came closer, she hated that he was so close but she didn’t want to show any weakness in front of him either.

Gathering her courage she glared at him, “are you done taking your insecurities out on me?”

Mac saw the slightly surprised look in his eyes as he glared back at him, but she didn’t care. She pulled herself together and stepped forward forcing him to take a step back this time.

“I told you last time, Haizaki, that you needed to show up to the practices and actually prove you have a place on the team,” Mac said coolly, “show that you are better than the others who actually show up and care. Right now they are better, but if you really want to play then you need to actually learn how to work with the team and not against us.”

“You count yourself as one of the team already?” he sneered trying to win back some ground.

Mac hid the wince at his words, he seemed to know just what to say to hit on her vulnerable points but again she pushed it away for now. She was done with letting him intimidate her. Just why had she decided to stay behind today? She was furiously scolding herself for not joining Daiki and Tetsuya to the grocery store after practice like they asked her to. She could have finished the analyse of the practice at home…

“You…!” Haizaki stepped forward and grabbed her shoulder hard making her wince in pain, she bit her lip to stop herself from crying out.

“Mac?” a voice called and Mac blinked and looked to the door, Haizaki had frozen still holding her shoulder when Seijuro stepped through the door and froze when he saw the scene in front of him. His eyes narrowed and in front on Mac’s eyes his entire aura seemed to change, suddenly dark and threatening instead of polite and sly.

“Let her go,” Seijuro growled out and Haizaki let go as if burned and stepped several steps back looking scared.

Mac inhaled shakily not realising until now that she was shaking, she didn’t look when Haizaki ran out of the gym the door slamming shut behind him.

“Mac,” Seijuro sounded calm and worried and she looked at him. She swallowed and tried to smile at him, but it came out more as a grimace. He led her to the bench and helped her sit down before he looked at her with that unreadable look he so often got before he pulled out his phone.

Mac didn’t look up at him as she stared at her hands, now that the situation was over she couldn’t stop the words from Haizaki playing in her mind, taunting her. Was he right? She was so wrapped up in her mind that she wasn’t aware of how much time had passed and was startled when the door was roughly pushed open and footsteps came rushing in.

“Kenzie!” Daiki rushed to her and she blinked confused wondering why he was there. “Are you alright? Did he hurt you?”

Mac frowned and looked to Seijuro who looked at her with a concerned look, she realised he had called Daiki and wasn’t sure if she was grateful or annoyed.

“I’m fine,” Mac said silently. “Seijuro stopped it before it could get out of hand.”

A strange look crossed Daiki’s face before he pushed it away, “where is he?! I’ll punch him!”

“You will not!” Mac said sharply, “we do not need you to get into trouble with the school over something like this. They’ll ban you from basketball, Daiki. It’s not worth it.”

“I’ll decide what it’s worth,” Daiki said but he calmed down a little. “No one threaten or hurt you without me doing something about it, Kenzie!”

“I can take care of myself, you know,” Mac frowned at him, “I’m not some damsel in distress that needs rescuing everytime!”

She felt annoyed and weak; again someone had seen her when she was weak. Seijuro and Daiki both saw her like that too often, and she didn’t want them to think that they needed to be there and rescue her all the time.

“I know that,” Daiki said frowning at her slightly, “but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be there and help you. I know you’re strong.”

“So do I,” Seijuro added and Mac glanced between the two before sighing and nodded in acceptance. She knew that.

Daiki let her get up without offering help and she grabbed her bag that had dropped in the commotion before turning to Seijuro who looked pensive.

“Thank you for your help, Seijuro,” she said.

He nodded and with that left the gym without really saying why he had been there in the first place, Mac realised when he had left. She shook her head a little before smiling at Daiki and joined him in silence on their way out.

 

Daiki breathed out relieved when the fresh air hit him as he stepped out of the gym together with Mac who seemed to be just as relieved to be outside as he. When Seijuro had called and told him what happened and come to the gym because Mac needed him he had felt scared and angry at the same time, but he had rushed off leaving Tetsuya, Ryota, Shintaro and Atsushi behind all three letting him go with confused looks on their faces. He hadn’t calmed down before seeing Mac, but the anger was still burning inside him and he wondered how he was going to face Haizaki now without punching him like he so longed to do! It wasn’t even the first time he had approached Mac when she was alone and this time he had even turned physical, he shivered thinking about what could have happened. It kind of annoyed him that he was grateful toward Seijuro of all people for stopping Haizaki before he hurt Mac.

A scowl crossed his face as he thought about Seijuro and his frequent appearance around Mac. He hadn’t missed how she was now using his first name, and they seemed closer. That feeling he couldn’t name grew in his gut and he fisted his hands alongside his body in an attempt to not hit something.

“Daiki?” Mac asked sounding worried and Daiki glanced at her to see her wide green eyes behind her glasses looking at him. “Are you ok?”

“I’m fine,” he said smiling slightly ruffling her hair like he did when they were kids. “Just…thinking.”

“Sounds dangerous,” Mac teased and Daiki felt his lips twitch in amusement. He was happy she could tease him even when she must be rattled about what had happened.

“I don’t know… I think I have some pretty good ideas,” Daiki said playing along with her and she arched a brow in disbelief.

“Good ideas? What are those?” Mac asked feeling her mood lift a little at the familiar bantering with her best friend.

“You little…” Daiki growled but she heard the amusement in his voice. She squeaked before starting to run with him after her, she felt lighter as she ran and giggled lightly when he nearly caught her but she managed to slip away with a twist.

 

The next day Mac entered the gym next to Daiki feeling nervous but strangely calm even at the prospect of seeing Haizaki again, but she was surprised to see that he was not there. She looked around once more, but still couldn’t see him. Maybe he didn’t dare show up? He must know that Daiki and Seijuro was pissed.

“I have something to say,” Seijuro spoke up bringing the attention to him. He had a closed off expression on his face but she thought she saw underlying anger on his face, but maybe it was just because she knew he was angry? "As of today Haizaki Shogo is no longer a part of this team. He quit and no one will talk him into changing his mind. He’s no longer welcome on this team.”

Silence stretched in the gym after the statement as everyone stared at Seijuro who looked back at them with a colder mask than normal, his voice and tone suggested that he was not going to discuss it or explain it any further.

Mac looked down and ignored the look Daiki gave her. She felt torn. She felt guilty for being the reason for why Haizaki was off the team, she knew that he hadn’t quit by his own free will. Seijuro had something to do with it, probably forced him to quit somehow. She couldn’t help to feel that she was responsible, and should do something. Was it fair that he was off the team because of her? Then there was the fact that she felt relief and strangely vindictive that he was no longer a part of the team. She wouldn’t have to deal with him and he had crossed a line yesterday, she didn’t feel safe with him and that had put a damper on the thought of going to the practice today. Also, a small part of her felt he deserved it.

“Good.” Daiki said breaking the silence after a long moment, drawing some startled looks but also some suspicious. Mac noticed that Ryota glanced at her with a pensive and suspicious look before turning back to Seijuro with the same look. He, for once, held his tongue, though, something Mac was very grateful for.

The rest of the practice passed without incident and Mac had fun even as she still was behind the others, but by now she expected it and made mental notes on how she could catch up. The nationals grew closer and closer and they all wanted to win.

 

“Mac-nee-chan!”

Mac looked up from her sketchpad where she had been drawing another picture of Daiki playing basketball, she didn’t want to think about how many drawings she had off him playing but she couldn’t stop herself trying to catch the pure joy he normally showed when he played. Even if it was not so pronounced as it used to be anymore.

“Yes?” She answered closing the sketchpad and pushing herself out of the bed, she winced slightly as she felt the sore muscles from a week of hard practice and she was very glad it was now Friday, but she also knew she still had to train tomorrow.

“Sasaki-san is here to see you,” Sayuri said opening the door and looked at her. “He’s in the living room with mum.”

“Thank you, Sayuri-chan,” Mac smiled and patted her shoulder as she passed the younger girl.

So, Sasaki was back. She had almost forgotten that he would come when he had found a solution for her magical training. Or was it her living situation he was here for? Had he found something else? Nerves bubbled in her stomach as she entered the living room to find Ayano already placing tea on the table and a smiling Sasaki, but he wasn’t alone this time. Mac glanced at the other man, he was older than Sasaki and had a stern face with a small goatee that seemed well-trimmed. His hair was short and dark while his eyes were a cross between dark blue and black. Mac had a feeling his eyes would change colour with his mood.

“Ah, Potter-san,” Sasaki smiled when he spotted her frozen by the door. “Good to see you again!”

“Y-you as well, Sasaki-san,” Mac said politely trying to not look at the other man, but her gaze wandered to him anyway. She looked away when she found him looking at her calculatingly.

“Come, come,” Sasaki said happily, Mac wondered if he was always so happy, though she had seen him serious. “I want you to meet someone.”

Mac swallowed and glanced at Ayano who smiled reassuringly at her so Mac walked further into the room and stopped when she was in front of Sasaki and the other man. He was tall, Mac thought, taller than Sasaki.

“This is Sato Taichi,” Sanada introduced, “he’s a former professor at Mahoutokoro School of Magic. He’s one of my old teachers.” Sasaki winked at her. “Professor, this is Potter Mackenzie.”

“I’m not you professor anymore, Sasaki-kun,” Sato spoke up, his voice dry but there was a underline of humour there that made Mac relax slightly. “Nice to meet you, Potter-san. Sasaki has told me some of your situation and has asked me to train you in magic.”

Mac tried to smile but it felt shaky. “Nice to meet you, Sato-san.”

The man looked at her for a moment, “this is a very unusual situation, Potter-san.”

“I guess,” Mac mumbled not looking at him.

“I will tell you right now that I won’t take on students that aren’t motivated or interested in learning,” Sato said sternly making Mac look at him, he looked very strict and she fought the need to shift on her feet as she met his eyes. “If I am to agree to teach you magic I will need to know that you are 100% ready to give it your all. If not, then you’re wasting both of our time.”

“I-I want to learn,” Mac said quietly, “I want to learn how to control my magic and to learn more about the world my parents were in. I just… I don’t want to leave my friends behind to do so. They’re important.”

Sato was silent for a moment before he nodded, “as long as you remain willing and motivated to learn, I see no problem in that.”

Mac let out a relieved sigh and smiled more genuinely at the older man.

“The ministry has approved of your request for a Time-Turner,” Sasaki spoke up, “because of your unusual situation and needs. It’s few who ever get to see a Time-Turner, never less use it. It’s very important for you to understand that, Potter-san. You can never use it for personal gain, for anything other than your lessons. You understand?”

“Yes, sir,” Mac nodded seriously.

“Also, be very careful not to see yourself when you use it,” Sato added. “Horrible things happens to wizards and witches who has travelled in time and spotted themselves. They have ended up killing their past or future self and that is not good.”

Mac nodded seriously, she would imagine that was not a good thing to happen so she took note of what they told her.

“I understand,” she said again. “I’ll be careful.”

Mac spent the next hour listening to them explain more about Time-Turners and about what Sato wanted to teach her first, she felt excited that she was finally going to start learning magic. Since the trip to get her books and wand she had thought about magic a lot, she had even read a few of her books already and knew she already liked the Defence subject from what she had read. It looked interesting.

 

Daiki hummed as he listened to Mac talk about her meeting with Sasaki and Sato (who had told her to call him Professor now that he was her teacher). “Sounds interesting.”

“It does,” Mac nodded before smiling, “he wants me to start next month. He wanted me to read a bit more before we started so I have some knowledge about what he wants to teach me.”

A hand went up to the Time-Turner that was now hanging in a golden chain around her neck, it was a fascinating magical item, Mac thought. Even if she had been familiar with magical items she would have found the Time-Turner fascinating. It resembled a hourglass and Sasaki had explained that she had to turn it for how many hours she wanted to go back in time. He had also put a charm on it so that she was the only one who could see it, so she didn’t need to worry about it when she was at school or playing basketball.

“So, you’re going to be even busier…” Daiki whined making Mac blink and focus on him again. “Not fair.”

“You could do your own homework at the same time, you know,” Mac told him with a look. “And not leave it at the last moment.”

“Nah, that’s boring,” Daiki protested. “Besides, I never understand that stuff.”

“That’s because you don’t read!” Mac said exasperated.

“I don’t need to, I have you,” Daiki grinned and Mac shook her head but couldn’t help the small smile that crossed her lips at his words.

“You’re impossible,” Mac said making Daiki grin at her and she burst out laughing.

Chapter Text

2nd year – Teiko – right before Nationals

 

Daiki frowned as he stared at the basketball in his hands. The spherical orange ball still seemed to be the same as always, the leather felt rough and slightly worn against his skin, but why did it feel so much heavier? It was as if it weighed several pounds more, when did that happen? He tossed it up in the air, watching as it spun around before catching it again. The heaviness in his chest remained and it didn’t fill him with excitement anymore.

“Damn…” Daiki cursed under his breath a scowl settled on his face as he tried to push the unsettled and painful feeling away. “Why…”

He remembered so well how fun and excitable the game of basketball was when he was younger, how he could only think about playing and getting stronger. He would go out to play whenever he could, his parents getting sick of him coming back home muddy and wet after he had spent the entire day on the street court. Then he met Mac when he was 8 and he had someone to share the love of basketball with, someone who learned quickly and helped him getting stronger. It had filled him with warmth he missed now.

When did that change? When did basketball become something that made him feel…sad, pained, scared? He closed his eyes and shook his head trying to clear his mind, but the utterly defeated looks on the Harada Middle School players’ faces after the match the day before. They looked like they had completely given up, defeated, and he was the reason why they looked like that. He was the reason why they now hated basketball. He balled his hands into fists - forgetting he had the ball in his hands and making it drop to the ground and bounce a few times - his nails digging into his palms.

“-iki? Daiki?”

Daiki blinked when Mac’s voice filter through his thoughts and found her next to him looking up at him with worried green eyes, he wondered how long she had tried to reach him before he snapped out of his depressing thoughts.

“Ah, Kenzie,” Daiki said his voice shaking slightly, much to his dismay.

Mac frowned at him and he wondered what she was thinking.

“Are you ok?” she asked concerned.

“Yeah,” he shrugged looking away.

Mac narrowed her eyes and slapped his arm making him look at her startled.

“What was that for?” he asked rubbing his arm lightly and staring at her.

“Stop lying,” Mac glared at him. “You don’t need to tell me if you don’t want to, but don’t lie to me.”

“Like you don’t do the same to me,” Daiki muttered under his breath making Mac raise a brow at him and he hurriedly continued. “It’s nothing, Kenzie. I’m just thinking about some stuff.”

Mac looked at him for a moment longer before she sighed and looked away from him. It was first now he noticed the large stack of papers in her arms hold up against her chest to keep them from falling.

“Ok, but if you need to talk I’m here, ok?” Mac told him and he nodded.

“I know,” he said with a smile. “What are those?”

He pointed at the papers. She looked down at them before looking back up at him.

“Seijuro asked for data on our opponents during the Nationals,” Mac said, “this is some of what I’ve gathered.”

“All that?” Daiki asked ignoring the way his chest tightened at the mention of Seijuro’s first name from Mac.

“Yeah, he wants us to be prepared,” Mac said.

Daiki nodded and after a few more minutes of talk Mac left him alone on the court in the schoolyard to find Seijuro. Daiki sighed and turned to pick up the dropped basketball before going home.

 

Mac frowned worried when she turned her back at Daiki, something was wrong with him. She knew it. She had seen it in his eyes, they were clouded and pained. A look she didn’t want to see in her best friend. He had to be happy and cheerful, like when she met him. It must be the match the day before that forced him to have heavy thoughts. He had been on a roll lately and it wasn’t just because he scored more points. He was dribbling faster, neater and more…complexly than before. He could pass the entire court without really having to pass the ball and even she had been stunned the day before when she watched him play. He seemed like a totally different player, and she knew.

Mac sighed and rubbed a hand over her face tiredly as she thought. Daiki had grown. Bloomed, if you will, she thought to herself. He would probably grow even more in the next few matches, and she was suddenly unsure if he should even play. She saw the pain in him when he realised that he was much better than those he played against. Would it break him if he played? She wasn’t sure, but she also knew that she couldn’t stop him from playing. He would play and he would grow even more, and something would happen, but she didn’t know what.

Frustrated she rounded the corner and was almost at the room she would meet Seijuro. What should she do? Could she do anything? She felt helpless, a feeling she hated more than anything. It made her feel weak, and it reminded her to much of being with the Dursley’s. It wasn’t as if she was surprised by the change in Daiki, in the way he played. She had seen It coming, after all, just like she knew that the others also had more inside of them. They just hadn’t reached it yet. Perhaps…it would be better if they never did…

“Mac,” Seijuro greeted her breaking her out of her thought and she smiled slightly pushing her musings away for later and greeted her friend back and placed the papers on the table before sitting down opposite him.

 

“Mac-cchi!” Ryota whined looking close to tears. Mac just arched a brow at him and he calmed down slightly, but still looked at her with wide yellow eyes. “Tell Kuroko-cchi to pass to me too!”

Mac let out a long suffering sigh as she levelled him with a look, “Kise, stop whining and play!”

“But…” he continued.

“Tetsu will pass to you when he thinks you’re ready,” Mac said, “stop whining already! Interact with the others on the court and stop getting in Daiki’s way.”

“He was the one who jumped on my pass,” Ryota muttered stubbornly and Mac was wondering why she even bothered as she remembered the incident a few practices ago when both Ryota and Daiki jumped to dunk a ball when Tetsuya passed it. Of course it ended with Daiki and Ryota colliding in the air and their team losing the ball and point.

“You both miscalculated and stopped communicating!” Mac said, “and if that had been a real match we could have lost because of that!”

Ryota swallowed and nodded looking chastised enough so Mac soften her eyes slightly as she looked at him.

“You’re good, Kise, and I’m sure Tetsu will pass the ball to you as well,” Mac said.

 

Mac wiped the sweat off her forehead and made her way to the changing room she had been offered, since she couldn’t very well change in the same room with the boys. She waved at Daiki who waved back before slipping into the room and headed for the shower. The practice had been hard and long, she had come up with the training regime together with Seijuro and knew better than anyone just how hard it was. Her muscles ached and complained as she moved but she let out a soft sigh when the hot water hit her and she felt her muscles relax slightly under the hot spray.

They were ready for the qualifiers and Mac knew that Shirogane was right, they would win. She thought back to the conversation she had overheard between Sanada and Shirogane when she had gone over to them to give them her notes and analyses of the team.

"The third- and second-years have reached a level of potential far beyond typical middle school students. They're almost certainly the strongest players ever!" Sanada said.

"Reached their potential, huh?" Shirogane said before pausing slightly and Mac wondered what he was thinking. "Actually, I'd say the opposite about them. They're still developing. They haven't reached their maximum potential. They're terrifying children. Someone called them the 'Generation of Miracles'. I couldn't agree more, and most people haven’t even seen Mac play yet! There's no way they won't win. That's not resolve talking. It's certainty.

Mac heard the gasp Sanada let out and tilted her head as she observed the two coaches for a moment before walking up to them.

The Generation of Miracles, huh? It was a fitting name, she supposed, but kind of clichéd. Just who came up with the names? Didn’t people have better things to do than to think up strange and large names for other people? She shook her head clearing it from the thoughts and wondered about what Shirogane had said.

Just like her he saw that there was more in them, more potential to growth and development. He saw what was lurking underneath and she had heard the slight apprehension in his voice as he spoke, it became clear when he called them terrifying children. It was true, Mac knew. Yet, he seemed worried about something.

 

National Middle School Basketball Tournament Regional Qualifiers

 

“We’re so excited about watching you play!” Ayano beamed at Mac who smiled back at the older woman who looked to be trying to keep still. “Both of you!”

“Thank you,” Mac said quietly while Daiki shrugged with a small grunt.

“Mac-nee, we’re going to watch you play today!” Shiro grinned at her showing his missing front tooth as he did. “I’m sure you’ll be better than Daiki-nii.”

“Daiki-nii is the best!” Sayuri protested with a glare at her twin brother.

“Mac-nee is the best!” Shiro glared back.

“Calm down,” Takehiro said giving his two youngest a stern look making them both turn away with a huff and folded arms over their chests.

“They are both good,” Ayano scolded her twins gently.

“I know that,” Sayuri said and looked at Mac. “I know Mac-nee is good.”

“You…” Shiro started but stopped when Mac placed a hand on his shoulder.

“Thank you both,” Mac smiled at them, “I appreciate your support and belief in me.”

“I believe in you more,” Shiro muttered but smiled when Mac ruffled his hair and leaned down to hug him.

Daiki just rolled his eyes but he smiled slightly as he watched them. He found the whole argument amusing, but he was relieved Mac was there to calm Shiro down. She had a way to calm him without really trying, while he and his parents would often fail and he would go off into a mood.

“Mac! Aomine!” Kubota called. “Coach wants us in the locker room!”

“Okay!” Daiki called back.

“Go,” Ayano smiled. “We’ll see you after the match.”

“Good luck,” Takehiro said and waved at them.

“Good luck, Mac-nee, Daiki-nii!” the twins called beaming and waving.

Mac smiled and felt a warmth in her chest that she knew had everything to do with the fact that she actually had someone there who was watching her. That was something the Dursley would never do. Even the idea was preposterous! She snorted making Daiki glance at her curiously.

 

Mac chewed on her lower lip as she stepped onto the court. She had held the analyse of the other team at the coach’s request, it felt good to be doing that. She had been able to shove her nerves away while she talked about the other team and who they needed to look out for and what their strengths were.

Now, though, the nerves were back and Mac felt almost sick. Why did she say yes to play? She felt the eyes on her and she fought the need to shift in her feet and turn to run away. She winces slightly when she saw two of the other teams boys start to whisper to each other and look at her when they spotted the jersey she was wearing.

“..you don’t think she’s going to play, do you?”

“Looks like it, she’s wearing their jersey… who lets a girl play on a boys team?”

She heard their whispers and carefully kept her face blank as she followed the team to their bench before joining them on the court to warm up.

 

“Kenzie?” Daiki asked looking at her with a small frown.

Mac looked at him and saw the concern in his blue eyes and sighed inwardly, of course she didn’t manage to hide her nerves from him. She had hoped she would be able to hide it and not having to talk about it.

“I’m fine, Daiki,” Mac said.

“Of course you are,” Daiki said rolling his eyes. “You’re nervous.”

Mac shrugged and looked away from him, the hall was pretty full for being a Middle School basketball match, even a qualifying match. Mac knew that Teiko drew a lot of the spectators, being a top school and the team in itself was enough to make people want to see.

“Guess so,” Mac said, “I..”

Mac frowned; she was unsure how to explain it to him without sounding stupid or weak. She felt…exposed, watched. She felt…unworthy of the trust they showed her, their expectations felt heavy. What if she failed?

“You’re going to be fine, Kenzie,” Daiki said reading her correctly and she was hit with the realisation that he could read her like that. She knew she had hidden her thoughts well, but looking at him she saw the knowing smile on his face. “I know you, Kenzie. I know how you think. You are worth it, and you should keep your uncle’s voice out of your head. He’s wrong and you are worth it all.”

Mac looked down to hide the emotions in her eyes she felt a spark of warmth and something else she couldn’t name at his words and a small smile crossed her lips. She looked up and smiled making him smile his usual happy smile back at her.

 

“I can’t believe they’re actually letting a girl play,” a boy with a buzz cut said to his team who nodded.

“They must pity her or something,” another said.

“They must be looking down at us! They think we’re nothing!” A third player said with a glare at his opponents.

Mac ignored it but saw the way her friends tenses and glared at the other team, making her smiled slightly.

“Come on,” Daiki said a dark look in his eyes. “Let’s show them what Kenzie can do!”

Mac saw the other nod and resolve themselves, she felt happy as she followed them out on the floor. The nerves were gone as she was reminded that she still had her friends with her. They believed in her and wanted her to play with them.

 

Mac grinned as Daiki slung a arm over her shoulders grinning at her proudly, the way his eyes shone reminded her of old times. They had won and had showed that Mac wasn’t someone to be taken lightly. She glanced at the other team who looked defeated and felt a stirring of sympathy for them, but this was basketball. There would be winners and losers, and she couldn’t stop playing because she felt bad about it. It wasn’t respect.

“Let’s go and celebrate our win!” Ryota cheered and the others nodded in agreement.

After they had changed and said goodbye to their coaches and sempai’s they made their way to the local grocery store where they normally hung out after school. Mac talked with Shintaro who tried to seem unaffected by the game and the easy atmosphere, but Mac knew he enjoyed himself by the way he kept hiding his mouth as he pushed up his glasses.

“We showed them what we got,” Ryota said cheerfully.

“Mac-chin showed them, you mean,” Atsushi said between bites. “I still want to crush them for being rude to Mac-chin.”

“We settled it on the court, Murasakibara,” Mac reminded him, “there’s no need to carry the grudge any further than that. Besides, they apologized.”

“Hm,” Atsushi said not convinced but didn’t pursue the topic any longer.

“I still liked the way you passed the tall one and by dribbling the ball between his legs,” Ryota said. “The look on his face…”

Daiki laughed and took a bite of his ice crème.

“You did a good match, Mac-san,” Tetsuya said quietly and Mac glanced at him but didn’t jump as he appeared out of nowhere, but she noticed that Daiki and Ryota jumped. “Also, the tactic you used when it looked like they might catch up was brilliant.”

“Thank you, Tetsu,” Mac smiled feeling a small blush in her cheeks at the praise.

They spent the rest of the afternoon talking and laughing outside the store, they were really enjoying themselves as they celebrated their victory. Though, Mac couldn’t help but wonder if this happiness was on borrowed time or not. Would they be able to keep playing like this when more of them bloomed?

 

“Is…that an owl?” Ayano blinked as she stared at the black owl that was sitting on the chair in the backyard.

“Huh,” Takehiro said blinking as well. “Guess so. Is that a letter tied to its leg?”

The owl hooted sounding impatient and Mac who had been standing behind the two adults snapped out of her own shock and walked up to it.

“Mac, wait…” Ayano started to say but the owl was already holding out his leg and the letter attached to it toward Mac.

“Is that for me?” Mac asked and the owl hooted again and seemed to bob its head. “Alright.”

Mac reached and took the letter from the leg and the owl hooted once more. Mac smiled slightly and turned to look at the stunned Aomine’s.

“Sasaki-san said that owls were normal in the wizarding world,” Mac explained, “it’s how they send letters. I had forgotten about it until now. I never thought I’d see an owl this close.”

“I see,” Ayano said seeming a little breathless as she eyed the owl.

Mac smiled and opened the letter before reading it quickly.

 

Mackenzie Potter,

You’re lessons will start next Monday at 8 am. I will come and receive you from your house so be ready to go when I get there. You will need to use your time-turner after our lesson so you will repeat the day by going to your muggle school after we have had our first lessons. I will teach you how to properly use the Time-Turner then.

Please, have read through the first three chapters of introduction to magical transfiguration before our lesson.

Ah, and please feed the owl and give her some water before she leaves. She eats normal food if you have it, she’s not picky.

Sato Taichi

 

The letter was short and to the point, much like she imagined her professor to be. She quickly found a bit of toast and some water before placing it on the table for the owl to eat. Fascinated she watched the owl eating and sipping water.

“Wow,” Shiro exclaimed loudly when he came outside and saw the owl. “Pretty owl!”

“You startled it,” Sayuri scolded him nudging him roughly before she stared at the owl.

“Did not,” Shiro muttered glaring at his sister.

“It’s ok,” Mac said, “she’s fine and still eating. You didn’t do her any harm.”

“Why is there an owl here?” Daiki asked having come outside to see what the noises was all about.

“She was delivering a letter to me,” Mac said, “my lessons start next Monday.”

“Oh,” Daiki said realising what she meant.

Mac nodded and blinked when the owl hooted and flew over to her and nipped at her fingers gently. Mac stroked her feathers and marvelled at the softness and warmth she felt. The owl seemed to preen as she did and she chuckled.

“Can I pet it?” Shiro asked.

Mac glanced at the owl who was watching the six year old, almost seven year old boy, before she nodded and Mac held her arm where the owl was perched out so Shiro could pet her.

Shiro let out a excitable laugh as he felt the feathers for the first time and the look of wonder in his eyes were something Mac never would forget. Soon Sayuri also came wanting to pet the owl and Mac was impressed by the patience the owl showed as she allowed them all to pet her.

Chapter Text

2nd year – Teiko – the Nationals

 

“The National Middle School Basketball Tournament will now begin!”

The applause sounded from the spectators while Mac stood silently behind Daiki as the teams were lined up next to each other in the opening ceremony. It felt…different to stand there with her friends, she felt nervous and excited. It would be the first tournament she would play with her friends in.

“I’m hungry…” Atsushi complained and Mac smiled a little at the familiar complaint as she followed her friends. “I want my snack now.”

“The opening ceremony just ended!” Shintaro scolded him.

“I have something for you when we’re done here, Murasakibara-kun,” Mac spoke up and he beamed at her like a little kid making her shake her head a little.

She jumped slightly when they were suddenly surrounded by peopled in yellow vests and microphones pointed right at them. Mac felt her eyes widen and breathing sped up as she eyed the journalists warily.

“Can we get an interview?”

“How will your team finish this year?”

“Is it true that you have a girl on your team?”

The questions came from them all at once and Mac took a step back not wanting to be in the spot light or their attention to find her, but she saw how they looked at her. She couldn’t do this… she blinked when she felt a familiar warm hand take hers and pull, she followed without really thinking about it and found herself away from the journalists.

“Thank you, Daiki,” Mac said relieved and he smiled a little at her.

“I know you don’t like that,” he said. “You ok?”

“Yeah,” Mac nodded. “You?”

“I guess,” Daiki shrugged looking around the gym and at all the different schools that had come to the Nationals. “You think I’ll find someone to challenge me here?”

“Perhaps,” Mac said but in all honesty, she doubted it. She knew the teams here, and Daiki was better than all of them. She had done her homework well, hoping, searching for someone who had a player that would challenge Daiki. She was disappointed. “But even if they haven’t, it doesn’t mean that you’ll never find someone. There’s still High School, you know.”

“That’s a long way away,” Daiki said looking away from her.

 

“Aomine!” Both Mac and Daiki looked up when they heard someone call Daiki’s name and saw a light brown haired teen coming running toward them, he was about the same height as Daiki, Mac noticed and she recognised him as Inoue from Kamizaki Middle School. He was good, but…

“You’re here!” Inoue Tomoya said. “We’ll be playing each other again this year!”

“Yes, we will be,” Daiki grinned looking happy again. “I’m looking forward to it.”

“Eh, who’s this?” Inoue said looking at Mac. “Oh, you’re the manager from last year… but you’re wearing a jersey?”

“She’s a player this year as well as our manager,” Daiki said with a proud smile, “Potter Mackenzie.”

“Ooo-h,” Inoue said before smiling, “nice to meet you! I’m looking forward to see you play, Potter-san!”

“Thank you,” Mac said shyly as she watched the happy boy. He was similar to Daiki in many ways, she thought. She looked at him closely. Would he be able to challenge Daiki? She could see that he was strong and a good player, but… he lacked in speed and agility compared to Daiki and a strong feeling of foreboding hit her as she watched Daiki talk to the other boy with a happiness she hadn’t seen in him for a long time.

“This year I’ll win,” Inoue said bringing Mac out of her musings.

“You can’t beat me,” Daiki returned with a smile as they shook hands.

Mac just watched with a sad little smile as they parted.

 

“KUROKO!”

Mac blinked at the sudden yell and looked around until she found the source of the loud yell and saw a boy with orange-brown hair rushing to Tetsuya who smiled at seeing however that was. She tilted her head curiously as she watched the stranger as he threw an arm over Tetsuya’s shoulder and grinning at him. She noticed that the boy had rice on his face, she smiled a little.

“I wonder…” Daiki pulled her away from observing Tetsuya and his friend.

“Wonder what?” Mac asked.

“If I were to quick to write off a challenge,” Daiki said.

Mac didn’t answer as she saw the hopeful look on her best friends face, she couldn’t bring herself to say that she didn’t believe that.

 

Mac started on the bench for their match against Kamizaki Middle School and sat beside Shirogane who was watching with his narrow eyes like normal.

“Anyone we need to look out for on this team, Potter-san?” Shirogane asked.

“Uh, no not really,” Mac said quietly, “Inoue the power forward is good, but Daiki is better.”

Shirogane nodded and Mac was left to watch her friends play, it didn’t take long before they had the control of the game.

Mac was substituted into the game and high-fived Ryota as she stepped onto the court while he sat down on the bench. She caught the ball when Tetsuya passed to her and saw the narrowing eyes from the players on Kamizaki team. She dribbled the ball and moved past the Centre who looked to be in a heavy mood, she shot the ball and it went in.

As the game progressed the score widened and Mac saw how the other team started to give up, they were half-hearted in their attempt to stop them. Mac didn’t like it and narrowed her eyes as she eyed Inoue as he let Daiki pass him without even trying to stop him from scoring.

Mac felt her breath hitch when she saw the pained and hurt look on Daiki’s face when he turned to look at Inoue who had his back to Daiki but Mac could see his face. She saw the small smirk on his face, but it didn’t seem happy, but twisted. His eyes were shadowed so she couldn’t see them.

“You don’t get it,” Mac heard Inoue say as Daiki ran past him. “You’re a monster. No one can compete with you.”

Mac fisted her hands as she saw the look on Daiki’s face and how he ignored Tetsuya who looked so hopeful, the pain of the rejection on his face was too much. What was happening? Where was the happiness in playing?

 

“Inoue!” Mac called when the game was over and the two teams went to go to their own benches. Inoue hesitated, his eyes dark and Mac could see the pain he felt for losing, but she was too angry to really care right now.

“What?” he asked.

“Who do you think you are to call Daiki a monster?” Mac demanded with a sharp glare. “I get you’re upset about losing, and that you’re upset that Daiki is stronger than you, but that doesn’t excuse you to go and call him a monster!”

Inoue and his team were staring at her, but for once she didn’t care as she kept her glare on the Kamizaki player.

“He is a monster,” Inoue said quietly, “he is too strong. He shouldn’t be allowed to play…”

“Shut up,” Mac snapped, “you’re the ones who gave up! You’re the ones who stopped playing so don’t you dare blame Daiki for playing and winning! You didn’t even try!”

Inoue frowned at her, but didn’t say anything.

“Hi, you should go back to your own team,” the Captain of Kamizaki said, “stop harassing the losing team.”

Mac glanced at him her eyes narrowed, “this has nothing to do with who lost or who won, Captain-san. This is a matter of how he hurt my best friend who looked forward to play against him, because he knew he would meet someone who would fight back. I won’t let anyone call my best friend a monster! He’s not!”

With a last glare she turned and walked away and back to her own bench where her team was watching her with wide eyes. She ignored them and sat down taking a deep drink from the water bottle.

 

The atmosphere in the locker room was tense and Mac hated it, this was not what she had pictured when she was allowed to play with the team. She looked at Tetsuya who looked dejected and refused to look up. Daiki was sitting quietly next to her without saying a word while the others looked scared to say something to set them off.

A loud bang started Mac out of her thoughts and saw Daiki standing up and his fist against the locker like he had just hit it.

“Daiki!” Mac said.

“Leave me alone,” Daiki said quietly but Mac flinched back and watched in stunned silence as he left the locker room. He had never said anything like that to her before, the hurt filled her but she remained silent as the door closed behind him.

“I had a bad feeling, but I wasn’t expecting this,” Shintaro said breaking the silence that had filled the room.

“Are you ok, Mac-chin?” Atsushi asked.

“Fine,” Mac mumbled without looking at them. She knew Daiki was hurt and in pain, but was he mad at her now?

 

Mac was on her way out of the locker room when she spotted Tetsuya closing his phone looking sad, or sadder she should say. Pushing her own worries away for a moment she walked over to him.

“Tetsu?”

He jumped and started when she spoke up and she actually had to smile a little at the fact that she had managed to get him to jump when normally it was the other way around.

“Oh, it’s you, Mac-san,” Tetsuya said.

“Are you ok?” Mac asked worriedly, “you look sad. I know Daiki hurt you.”

Tetsuya looked away from her and shrugged a little, but he didn’t seem inclined to say anything and Mac sighed silently.

“You know how Daiki gets,” Mac said, “he’s not thinking. I know he values your friendship.”

“I know,” Tetsuya said, “he’s been upset for some time now, hasn’t he?”

“Yeah,” Mac sighed tiredly, “I don’t know how to fix it.”

Tetsuya looked at her for a moment before nodding, “me neither.”

They stood in silent for a moment and Mac realised that Tetsuya would be the one beside her that hurt the most over Daiki’s loss of passion for the game. Daiki had been the one to help Tetsuya the most and they were close, if not for her then Tetsuya would be Daiki’s best friend. Mac looked at Tetsuya who was staring at his phone again like he was seeing something else.

“Did something else happen?” Mac asked quietly, “to make you upset?”

He was silent for a moment longer before he put his phone back in his pocket and glanced at her with sad teal blue eyes.

“My friend lost his match,” Tetsuya said, “he’s the one who taught me about basketball when we were kids. He moved away before we started Middle School and we promised to play each other during the Nationals…we finally saw each other for the first time in over two years, but…he lost.”

Mac arched a brow in surprise, so Tetsuya had someone like that? She hadn’t known that, she realised that she didn’t really know that much about Tetsuya outside of basketball. He normally talked basketball when he was with them, but she guessed Daiki would know more since the two of them would hang out alone sometimes.

“I see,” Mac said with a small smile, “I’m sorry he lost then, it would have been interesting to play your friend.”

Tetsuya nodded.

“What team was he on?” Mac asked curiously.

“Meiko,” Tetsuya said. “Ogiwara Shigehiro.”

Mac tried to remember her notes on the teams and she had made some of Meiko, she remembered thinking they were a good team and that their Ace was good. His name was Ogiwara, she thought.

“Huh, I see,” she muttered. “There’s always next year.”

Tetsuya smiled more genuinely now and nodded in agreement.

 

Mac walked out of the building looking for Daiki, it was time to go home and she wanted to see if he was still around. She didn’t think he would leave without her, so she went looking. She found him by the pool in the back sitting by himself with a leg over the edge and the other pulled up while he rested a hand over the knee. He had a towel over his head so his face was hidden from view, but to Mac his image hit her hard. He looked so…lonely and hurt where he sat and anger toward Inoue who had placed those words in her friends mind flashed through her once more.

Mac sat down next to him without saying a word; she looked at the water that was shining slightly in the sun even as the area started to be swollen up by shadows. The silence between them seemed stifling, something it never was before. For once Mac didn’t know how to break it, she didn’t know what to say to make him come back.

“Kenzie,” Daiki’s voice sounded rough but soft at the same time.

“Mm?”

“I’m…sorry,” he said.

“Don’t think about it,” Mac said glancing at him to see him still sitting like she had found him, if not for the fact that he had spoken she would have doubted that he even knew she was there. “I understand.”

Daiki didn’t say anything and Mac looked back at the water as her mind worked, they sat in silence for a little while longer and Mac was pleased to note that it wasn’t as stifling anymore.

“He’s wrong, you know,” Mac said being the one to break the silence this time. “Inoue-san, I mean.”

“No, he’s not…” Daiki said darkly, “I am a monster.”

“You’re not!” Mac said firmly. “Daiki, you’re not a monster and he had no right to say that. You’re good and on a higher level than the others around you, but that don’t give him the right to call you that.”

Daiki looked up and the towel fell off his head and around his neck instead and Mac saw the redness in his eyes suggesting he had been crying. Her heart broke for her best friend.

“Daiki, you know that you’re better than the others,” Mac said looking at him, “you need to find out why you play and what you want from playing basketball. It will probably take time before you will be able to meet someone who’ll challenge you the way you need and want, but you can’t keep taking your disappointment out on your team.”

Daiki looked up when Mac got to her feet and stretched her arms into the air and yawned, she was tired after a long day of playing and they were finally nearing the end of the tournament. He got to his feet as well and looked at her with a concerned look.

“Are you okay, Kenzie?” he asked.

“I’m fined, Daiki,” Mac smiled at her friend glad to see him looking a little more like normal, “just tired. It’s time to go home.”

He nodded and sighed, “I don’t know what to do, Kenzie.”

“You need to find a reason for why you play, Daiki,” Mac said, “you used to find basketball fun and exciting.”

“I know,” he said, “but…”

“I know,” Mac said, “I’m not saying you have to find the answer right now because that will be impossible, but think about it. Try to have fun with us, Daiki. With your team.”

Daiki looked at her for a moment before nodding making her smile.

 

Mac knew that her words wouldn’t solve anything over night for Daiki, but she was pleased to see that he at least looked a little better during their next games. He played his best and focused on the team and not the opponents any more. While she was sad he didn’t really look at their opposing players she was happy he got a little more life back in him again.

“I did wrong,” Shirogane broke into Mac’s thoughts where she was watching her team play Kamata West in the finals; if they won they would be champions for the second year in a row.

“Eh?” she looked at the coach and was worried to see how tired he suddenly looked, he looked older than before.

“Aomine is a talented player who has more love for the game than anyone else on this team,” Shirogane said. “I knew this would happen.”

Mac looked back to the court and Daiki who just performed his formless shot scoring another point for them. She knew what the coach meant, how could she not?

“I knew that he would surpass his peers, but my desire to see his talent bloom surpassed my worries for his feelings,” Shirogane admitted. “I’m sorry about that.”

“I knew it to,” Mac whispered clenching her hands, “I…I helped…”

He glanced at her, “you both are talented and love the game. It’s natural for you to seek the path to growth and victory. It’s the adult’s job to lead you right, but… I failed you both.”

Mac felt her eyes widen as she looked at Shirogane but he wasn’t looking at her anymore, he was watching the match again with faraway eyes. She couldn’t find her words, couldn’t find the correct answer to his statement.

“But, please, don’t let the talent go to waste,” Shirogane continued. “Potter-san, I know you helped him get back after the match against Kamizaki Middle School. You can reach him still, help him continue playing. If he, or you, give up now then you’re left with nothing. That would be a waste.”

Mac could only nod but that seemed to be enough for the coach who smiled gently before couching into his hand.

 

Mac caught the ball and glare at one of the Kamata West twins whom she knew was manipulating the judges to get their way, both Daiki and Ryota had more fouls because of them and she felt annoyed. She passed the ball to Shintaro who scored another three pointers.

“We’ll stop you,” twin number 1 said.

“You can try,” Mac said.

She ran back to defend against their offense but they were stopped by Atsushi who looked bored before he passed the ball to her, she dribbled the ball across the court and passed to Seijuro who passed back to her when she got past their centre, free she jumped and dunked the ball.

The spectators cheered loudly and wildly and she could hear many shouting for Teiko to win, it was clear they had won the audience over with their playing. She saw the way Kamata West started to get desperate, but at least they didn’t give up as they just scored a basket.

She saw Daiki sitting next to Shirogane one the bench and he was watching her with a small smile making her feel lighter, and it gave her more confidence to continue with her game.

 

“We won!” Ryota cheered when the referees blew the whistle for the final time. Ryota through a arm over Tetsuya’s shoulder and grinned widely in victory.

“I’m hungry,” Atsushi predictably said, “can we eat now? Do you want any?”

The question was directed toward Shintaro who nodded, “yes, please.”

“Eh?” Atsushi looked so shocked that Mac had to laugh, “seriously?”

Seijuro was smiling, his eyes closed as he took in everything around them.

Mac grinned and stood beside Tetsuya very aware that Daiki was standing a few feet off watching them, she knew she had to let him be for now and saw Nijimura coming up behind him so she didn’t have to worry too much. She wasn’t sure what the former captain told her best friend but soon he was smiling and came to join them in their celebration.

She leaned into his side when he placed an arm around her shoulder and squeezed, this was what had her playing. For once they looked happy and enjoyed their mutual victory. Even the third years joined them in the celebration.

Mac didn’t pay to much attention to the ceremony afterwards; she was too tired and happy. The trophy in and on itself didn’t matter, but the feeling she got from winning and playing with her friends mattered. She did notice the thoughtful, almost pensive look on Shirogane’s face as he watched them, though. She worried.

 

Sato’s home – magic lessons

 

“How did your tournament go?” Sato asked looking up from where he was sitting behind his desk reading some papers when she entered the room.

She had been to a few lessons now and still found it to be interesting and new, she felt a little nervous when she port-keyed into his home. She still remembered the first time when he had come and picked her up from Daiki’s home.

Flashback…

“You ready to go?” Sato asked looking at her.

“Yes, um, how are we getting there?” Mac asked nervously, “and where are we going?”

“We’re going to my home,” Sato said, “since we need to use magic in our lessons it’s important we’ll be somewhere safe. My wife and kids are home, but they know to leave us alone. We’ll get there by port-key.”

“Port-key?” Mac asked feeling stupid but having no idea what that was.

“Port-keys are objects made to transport us from one place to another,” Sato explained patiently. “Like this (holding up a chain with a charm on it), this will transport us to my home and back again. I have made it to activate with certain words as the trigger and it is how you’ll be travelling back and forth for your lessons.”

“Oh,” Mac said softly. She grabbed the chain and heard him say: “maho”.

Mac felt the hook behind her naval and it was like she was being pulled away and soon she reappeared in an entrance hall, coats where hanging on some hooks on the wall and she saw several pairs of shoes lined up.

“Come this way,” Sato said and had already started to walk making her follow behind him. They passed a staircase that lead to the second story of the house before coming to a door that led into a large room that had a large window stretching from the floor and all the way to the ceiling and a door next to it leading out to a garden, it was clear that they were in the back of the house. She also saw several bookcases that were filled with books and a desk that was filled with papers. She also saw anther table that seemed to have been placed there for her, it looked a little out of placed so that was why she guessed that.

… End Flashback

“We won,” Mac answered his question as she placed her bag by her desk and saw him smile a little.

“Good, congratulations,” he said.

“Thank you, professor” Mac accepted shyly.

 

“Have you read your material?” Sato asked getting back to the reason for her to being there.

“Yes, sir,” Mac nodded hiding her yawn; she had stayed up late last night to finish reading it after the celebration of their win.

They started with transfiguration today and Mac listened as he explained the magic and different theories, she took notes and answered the questions he asked. It was a very complicated subject and Mac could feel herself getting frustrated by all the theories in it, but at the same time found it interesting and fun. She looked forward to learn more about human transfigurations, but was disappointed learning that they would need to start small.

“I want you to try to change a match into a needle,” Sato said levitating a box of matches over to her.

Mac nodded looking determined as she took out her wand, and muttered the spell he gave her and frowned when nothing happened. She tried again and again, and finally she saw some results.

“Good,” Sato praised her when he saw the match had turned silver and looked like a needle, “it’s not as sharp as a normal needle, but that was very good for your first time trying.”

Mac smiled at the praise.

 

They ate lunch with Sato’s wife, Sato Kaori, a very kind and loving woman with short light hair. She had been very welcoming toward Mac and seemed to love the chance to make lunch for her even when Mac protested and said she could bring her own lunch. Kaori-san, as she demanded to be called saying it would be confusing with so many Sato’s, just waved her protests off and said she liked the chance to cook.

“Ah, the kids are home,” Kaori said looking up and Mac glanced up from her plate. She hadn’t met their kids yet.

“I see,” Sato said from his place at the table.

Soon two teens came into the kitchen but stopped when they spotted her sitting at the table with their parents. Mac wasn’t sure what she expected, but when Kaori and Sato talked about their kids she had pictured someone like Shiro or Sayuri, not the two teens that was clearly older than her.

“Oh, right,” the boy said breaking out of his shock first, “dad had his lesson today.”

He smiled at her, he looked kind of like his dad, Mac thought. Dark hair and dark eyes, but his smile was Kaori’s. It made his face warm and handsome.

“I’m Sato Daisuke,” he smiled introducing himself. “Nice to meet you.”

“I’m Sato Sachi,” the girl with long light hair and grey eyes introduced herself, “nice to meet you.”

“Potter Mackenzie,” Mac said quietly, “nice to meet you.”

She saw the widening of eyes and how they looked to her forehead, she felt like covering her scar with her hair but she remained still. They hadn’t known who she was then, she glanced at her professor who watched with a stern face.

“Not a word that I’m giving her lessons,” he told his kids who both nodded. “Come eat.”

They sat down and Mac felt them continue to give her curious looks, but she didn’t look up to meet them.

“How did your Tournament go, Mac-san?” Kaori asked breaking the silence.

“We won,” Mac said, “it’s the second year in a row we’ve taken the title now.”

“That’s amazing,” Kaori said, “you played, right?”

“Yeah,” Mac nodded shyly.

“Tournament?” Sato Daisuke asked. “Quidditch?”

Mac frowned confused, “no, basketball.”

“The muggle sport?” Sato Sachi asked with a small frown.

“I attend a muggle school,” Mac shrugged looking down, “and play basketball.”

“Why?” Sachi asked. “Why not attend a magic school? You’d go to Hogwarts, right?”

Mac just shrugged and didn’t answer, it wasn’t any of their business and she felt that the slightly older girl talked down at her and she didn’t like it. She swallowed and suddenly missed Daiki.

“Sachi,” Sato warned his daughter, “the circumstances are different and do not pry.”

Mac hears the huff from the other girl and glanced up to see her scowl at her food while Daisuke looked at her with a small smile and curious look in his dark eyes.

“I never seen basketball before,” he said, “is it fun?”

Mac nodded smiling more genuinely, “it’s fun when you play with your friends.”

He smiled, “mm, maybe I’ll come and watch you play sometimes.”

Mac fought a blush but nodded in agreement. She saw Sachi roll her eyes from the corner of her eyes, but Mac ignored her.

“Are you finished with school?” Mac asked curiously.

“I am,” Daisuke said, “I finished this year, but Sachi still got two years left.”

“I see,” Mac said, “and what’s Quidditch?”

“You don’t know Quidditch?” Daisuke asked shocked making Mac shake her head. “It’s the best sport ever and it’s played on brooms.”

Brooms, Mac blinked, that’s right she had seen brooms in the stores when she went to the magical district with Sasaki. She hadn’t really thought about it before, though. She listened as Daisuke went over the rules and how great the sport was. It was clear he really loved the game.

“We’ll play one time you’re here for a lesson,” Daisuke promised, “we have brooms you can borrow.”

Mac nodded and felt a little excited.

Chapter Text

2nd year – Teiko – after Nationals

 

Mac walked into the gym together with Daiki and Tetsuya and saw her other friends already there, Ryota waved cheerfully at them and Seijuro nodded with a small smile. Atsushi glanced over at them from his large bag of chips but didn’t say anything as he continued to eat, while Shintaro pushed his glasses further up his nose with a annoyed look at the tall centre before nodding at them when he spotted them.

“Why are we standing here?” Daiki asked looking around the gym.

Mac noticed that there was no sign of the coaches yet, and the third years weren’t there. Not that they were supposed to be, not anymore. They had quit after Nationals to concentrate on their studies, but Mac still found it strange to not see them.

“We’re waiting for the coaches,” Ryota said. “Kuroko-cchi, play with me today!”

Mac sighed and placed her bag on the floor and took out her notebook ignoring Tetsuya and Ryota talking, she started to scribble in the notebook trying to think of ways to challenge Daiki so he would find it fun to play basketball.

 

Sanada stood in his new office and looked out over the schoolyard, his hands fisted together as he heard the sound carrying from the gym. He knew the team was back and he would have to go out there and tell them the news. Yet, he didn’t move. How could he tell them something like this? His mind went back to the night before.

“The third years quit,” Sanada said, “but that’s expected.”

“Ah,” Shirogane said.

“We still have the Generation of Miracles,” Sanada continued.

There was a moment of silence before Shirogane spoke up, so quietly that he nearly missed it, “I’m not so sure about that.”

“What?” Sanada asked.

“I’m actually worried,” Shirogane said. “They’re too strong. We’ll have to help them keep the team together.”

He coughed and Sanada looked at him a little worried.

“They’ll be fine,” Sanada said, “as long as you’re around, I’m sure…”

Back in the present Sanada sighed, Shirogane wouldn’t be around anymore. He had collapsed and brought to the hospital. Sanada knew the older man had been tired lately, but he thought that now that’s the nationals were over he could relax and get better, but he had been told that he had to stay at the hospital for a long time.

He was worried about what Shirogane had told him the night before. Was the Generation of Miracles too strong? He did see the change in Aomine Daiki, it was worrisome. Would the same change also happen to the others? He had tried to tell Shirogane that Mac would help, but the older man had looked worried still as he rested in the hospital bed.

“I am sure Potter-san will try her best to keep the team together,” Shirogane said. “She will be the best one to do so, but… I worry. Aomine-san will listen to an extent to her, but his loneliness and strength will only grow and he will falter. The others will also grow, and I’m worried. It’s too much to ask any 14 year old to handle.”

Sanada knew his mentor and friend was right, but he had a hope that maybe Mac would be the one to save the team. He hoped… He sighed and moved toward the door and out of the office finding his way to the gym. He saw they had started to play a little, he saw Mac sitting at the bench with her notebook and a pen tapping against her lower lip as she had a pensive look on her face and he saw how she glanced at Daiki from time to time.

 

“Attention!” Sanada called as he entered the gym completely and they stopped what they were doing and gathered around him. “I have some bad news to tell you.”

Mac frowned as she looked at him and noticed the lack of presence of Shirogane.

“Is Coach Shirogane okay, sir?” Mac asked quietly and Sanada looked over at her slightly surprised that she asked, but then again she was good at reading the situation around her.

“He collapsed yesterday,” Sanada said bluntly and saw the widening eyes in the team and Mac seemed to pale a little. “He’ll live, but unfortunately he won’t be able to coach anymore.”

Mac looked down and fisted her hands, she had been worried about the older man.

“So from today on, I will be your head coach!” Sanada said. “We will be practicing as normal starting tomorrow. Got it?”

“Mac?” Daiki asked looking at her with a concerned look.

“I’ll catch up with you, Daiki,” Mac said and grabbed her bag. “I’ll just have to ask coach Sanada about something.”

“Ok,” Daiki said but he looked torn about something, but Mac just gave him a small smile and jogged away from him and toward the coach who was walking back toward his office.

“Coach!” Mac called and the man paused before turning to look at her.

“Potter-san,” he greeted her. “Can I help you?”

“Um, where is Shirogane-san?” Mac asked. “Is he really ok?”

“He’s going to be fine,” Sanada said, “but he needs to stay at the hospital to rest.”

Mac frowned, “do…do you think I could visit him?”

Sanada looked at her for a moment and Mac waited while he obviously was thinking about it, she worried her lip a little but didn’t say anything.

“I’m sure he would appreciate that,” Sanada finally said, “just remember that he needs the rest.”

Mac nodded and smiled a little and took the small piece of paper that Sanada gave her with the name of the hospital written on it along with a room number.

Mac was silent at dinner and ignored the worried looks from Daiki and his parents, Daiki had told them about Shirogane and she knew they worried about her. She wasn’t sure why she was so affected by the news, but the older man had been the first besides Daiki to see the potential in her and believed in her.

 

The next day after practice Mac found herself outside the hospital room Sanada had given her and took a deep breath before raising her hand to knock on the door.

“Come in,” she heard a familiar voice say and she pushed the door open.

Mac walked into the white hospital room, she noticed several flowers on a table and nightstand.

“Potter-san,” Shirogane looked a little surprised when he spotted her and Mac smiled nervously, clutching the strap of her schoolbag.

“Hi, coach,” Mac said softly, “How are you?”

“I’m not your coach anymore, Potter-san,” the older man said with a small smile, “but I’m fine.”

Mac nodded and looked at the man, he was pale and looked tired but he was smiling at her. He was wearing one of those hospital gowns, and had a book on his lap so he had obviously been reading when she came.

“Ah, I was just trying to catch up on some reading,” Shirogane said when he saw her looking at the book, “I don’t normally have time to read, so it’s nice to get a chance to read.”

Mac nodded again and felt stupid for not finding her voice, she shifted on her feet feeling out of place.

“Why don’t you sit?” Shirogane said kindly.

Mac sat down at the free chair and glanced up to meet his eyes, he smiled at her.

“How did the practice go?” Shirogane asked breaking the awkward silence.

“Like normal,” Mac said shrugging, “Daiki is bored, but the others… they seem different now too… Midorima and Murasakibara both seem to have reached another level, and while Midorima still practices like he normally does he’s distancing himself. Murasakibara is lazier than normal and not even Seijuro can get him to listen.”

Mac looked down at her lap and frowned a little, she wasn’t sure why she said that but she just found the words leaving her mouth almost on their own accord.

“I see,” Shirogane said.

“Coach, what can I do?” Mac asked quietly, “I hate seeing them like this…”

Shirogane gave her a sad smile.

“Unfortunately there’s no right answer,” Shirogane said and Mac looked up at him. “All you can do is being there for your friends, Potter-san. They will grow stronger, but they will need someone to keep them together. You may be the one to do so.”

“How?” Mac asked.

“I believe you will be the best to figure out that,” Shirogane said, “just be yourself and trust that they are your friends. Remember the memories you’ve made and how they made you feel. I won’t lie to you, Potter-san, there will be times that are difficult. There will be times where you’ll wonder if they’re even the friends you remember anymore, but trust that they’re still there somewhere.”

Mac nodded but felt confused even after listening to him talk. She stayed a few minutes longer before she left with her head filled with questions and worries about how she would keep the team together.

 

Time passed and Mac felt tired, she had to balance school, basketball and magic lessons and it was starting to get to be too much, especially when her friends were starting to break apart. She still hadn’t found an answer to how to keep them together.

That was what she was thinking as she watched Atsushi land after having used his force and overwhelmed the two defenders to dunk the ball instead of passing to Seijuro who was free and ready to get the ball. What worried her more was the way he brushed Seijuro off after, the look in his eyes. It… scared her.

“Murasakibara-cchi! That was awesome!” Ryota praised the tall centre later and Mac glanced over at them from where she was writing in her notebook with a small frown on her face as she saw the way Atsushi held his hand in front of him and stared at it like he was seeing something else.

“I just feel so powerful. If I actually tried, I could probably crush my teammates,” Atsushi said darkly and Mac glanced away and got up.

“Mac-cchi?” Ryota questioned but she ignored him and walked out of the room and away from them, her mind was spinning and she needed to get away.

 

Sato’s home

 

“It’s important that you follow the instruction on the board, today we’re making a potion that are cure for boils,” Sato lectured and Mac nodded as she looked at the board and saw the different ingredients she would need written up: dried nettles, 6 snake fangs, 4 horned slugs, 2 porcupine quills.

“Dangerous situations could happen if you don’t follow the recipe to the letter,” Sato continued, “potions isn’t a subject where you need your wand, and many don’t see it as magic. Though, the softly simmering of a cauldron with it shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through the human veins can bewitch the minds and ensnare the senses… it can save life and give glory.”

Mac nodded and wrote down what he said as she did. She worked quietly and cut the ingredients like the book said or tried to.

“Potter-san,” Sato said and she paused. “You’re distracted.”

She looked down and saw that she was finished with cutting the slugs and she blushed slightly. She bit down at her lower lip to stop her emotions.

“I’m sorry, sir,” Mac said.

He looked at her for a moment before sighed, “read the description again and then continue. Push whatever’s on your mind away and focus on what’s in front of you.”

“Yes, professor,” Mac said quietly and did as he said. It worked better now and she managed to follow the recipe and smiled a little when her potions started to look the way it was supposed to. Thirty minutes later Sato stood up from his desk and walked over to her, he glanced down at the potion and nodded.

“Good,” he said, “till next time I want you to write an essay on the potion and the dangers about making potions.”

“Yes, sir,” Mac said before she started to clean up the mess she made not seeing the considering look on her professors face.

 

The next subject they were doing that day was Defence Against the Dark Arts and it was something Mac always looked forward to. It was the best subject in her opinion and she found herself getting the hand of this subject better than the others.

“Like I have told you before,” Sato started getting Mac’s attention, “this will be a more hands on subject and you will learn how to defend yourself with practical magic. We will start with the basics, but I will focus more on the practical aspects of the subject.”

“You said it was because of my past?” Mac asked and he looked at her silently for a moment before nodding.

“Yes, Voldemort is gone,” he said, “but his followers are still out there. I don’t mean to scare you, Potter-san, but you must be aware that you are a natural target for those who followed Voldemort’s ways. They see you as the one who destroyed their master, and some might want revenge.”

Mac looked down and couldn’t deny the spark of fear she felt at his serious words, she knew he meant what he said and she also detected something else in his words. It was like he was particularly eager for her to learn how to defend herself, like he expected her to need it soon. She frowned.

“So, while we will go into the theory of the subject I will not focus on that,” Sato said, “I will be teaching you how to duel and spells and curses to use. Nothing dark, but you will need to know what to look out for.”

Mac nodded and they continued the lessons and he went through more curses and hexes for her to learn. When she were finished she felt tired and drained, but blushed slightly when she saw the contemplative look on her professor’s face.

 

“Potter-san,” Sato broke the silence and she looked at him.

“Yes, sir?” she asked.

“Are you ok?” he asked looking a little uncomfortable.

“I’m fine, sir,” Mac said, “I’m sorry for not paying attention in class. I’m just tired.”

Sato frowned a little but he nodded and dismissed her for the day. She packed her things and bid him goodbye before leaving the office and walked out.

“Mac-chan!”

Mac glanced up and saw Daisuke coming down the hall with a book in his hands, probably on his way to return it to the library. He smiled and she tried giving him a smile back.

“Hi Sato-san,” Mac said silently.

“I’ve told you, call me Daisuke,” he scolded her playfully; “Sato-san is my dad.”

“Professor Sato is your dad,” Mac shot back making the older boy blink before laughing loudly. Mac smiled a little more genuinely.

“Ha, you got me there, Mac-chan,” he said when he calmed down looking at her with a smile on his handsome face. “What’s up?”

“I’m on my way back home and then getting ready for school for the second time today,” Mac shrugged.

“Harsh,” Daisuke said, “you’re really dedicated to keep up with your muggle studies beside your magical ones.”

“I don’t want to leave my friends,” Mac said looking down with a small frown, her worries back again.

“I can respect that,” Daisuke said easily, “they’re lucky to have you as a friend, Mac-chan.”

Mac just shrugged and glanced at the clock.

“I have to go,” she said.

“Ok, have a good day…again,” Daisuke grinned and waved at her before he turned and walked toward the library in the house. Mac sighed quietly before activating her port-key taking her home.

 

Teiko

 

Mac paused in the doorway of the gym as she made her way back from the library where she had finished her homework for the next day. She was tired and ready to go home, but she had forgotten her notebook about the team in the gym and she needed it so she had to go back before going home. That’s when she heard the sounds of basketball and had her remember another time when she had heard the sound outside of school hours. Back when Daiki loved basketball with the childlike enthusiasm, and had been lured to go to check out the rumours about a ghost and discovered Tetsuya. So much had changed since then, Mac thought as she spotted Shintaro practice shooting.

Seeing Shintaro practice even when the practice was over and the school was empty made Mac smile a little, at least one of her friends still took basketball seriously. She saw how he paused looking at the ball in his hand and then raising his head to look at the hoop on the other side of the court with a considering look in his green eyes. Her eyes widened when he took the position to shoot and felt her mouth go dry when the ball flew across the court with deadly precision and into the hoop before the bouncing echoed through the silent gym.

Mac took a step back and clenched her hands as she processed what she had just witnessed. She had thought that Shintaro had reached the next level, and this proved it. He had bloomed just like Daiki, just like Atsushi. They kept getting away from her, what could she do to hold on to them?

Deciding to get the notebook the next day she left the hallway and stepped out into the fresh autumn air, the trees were changing colours and she knew winter would soon be there. Time passed like normal even when she tried to hold on to the way things were. Why did everything have to change?

 

¨

“Kenzie,” Daiki smiled when she entered the house.

“Daiki, how are you?” she asked and he shrugged. “Have you done your homework?”

“Most of it,” he said and she gave him a look making him squirm. “Well, some of it..” He amended.

Mac sighed and shook her head, “come on. I’ll help you.”

Daiki grinned at her and for a moment she saw the happy boy he used to be making her heart melt a little. She followed him up to his room and they sat by his desk and Daiki pulled out his math homework.

Finished with his homework Mac stretched in her seat and yawned covering her moth with a hand, she noticed Daiki glancing at her with a worried look on his face.

“Are you ok?” he asked.

“I’m fine,” Mac said with a tired smile, “just tired. It has been a long day.”

That was an understatement, Mac thought shaking her head a little as if to clear it.

“You’re magic studies going well?” Daiki asked.

“Yeah,” Mac smiled and thought back to the studies, “it’s interesting.”

“You like studying to much,” Daiki smirked and Mac glared at him but he only laughed at her.

“You should be happy I do,” Mac huffed, “who else would have helped you with your homework?”

Daiki shrugged unconcerned and Mac shook her head at her best friend.

“What did you do today?” Daiki asked after a pause and Mac glanced at him and saw the interest in his eyes but also something she couldn’t quite read, if she was to guess she would say he looked wary. But why would he be wary, though?

“Potions and Defence Against the Dark Arts,” Mac said. “I actually managed to make a potion correctly today, and Professor Sato said he would give it to the infirmary at Mahoutokoro!”

Daiki’s smile was proud and she smiled at him, she liked seeing the look on his face when she told him about her achievements, they might seem small but to her they were proof she could do it, and there were no one she rather share them with than Daiki.

They relaxed and stayed talking even as Ayano came up with food for them rolling her eyes at the two fondly before exiting the room.

 

Mac looked over at the bench and saw Seijuro sitting by himself, he looked lonely and she frowned. He had been keeping a distance to the team lately as well, and she knew he too was worried about the growth in his teammates. She walked over to him and sat down next to him making him glance over at her.

“You’re worried about something?” she asked and he looked away.

“No, nothing,” he said coolly and she arched a brow.

“You know, Seijuro, you’ll fool anyone but me with that mask of yours,” Mac said after a moment pause. “What’s wrong?”

She spotted the slight widening of eyes but other than that there was no sign of the surprise he felt at her words. He looked at her and she saw how his shoulders slumped slightly, it was barely noticeable but there.

“I had dinner with my father last night,” he said and she hid her frown, she still thought that his dad expected to much from him. She didn’t know what was normal in a relationship between a father and son, but watching Daiki with Takehiro lately she knew it wasn’t normal to expect your son to be an adult already. “He…was pleased with us winning the Nationals and said he would allow me to continue basketball as long as we won.”

Mac raised her brows and looked at her friend, he looked normal but there was something bothering him. He was more bothered and worried about what was happening than she realised, she saw his eyes flash at something before Daiki’s loud voice brought her attention away from the redhead and over to the navy blue haired ace.

“Don’t be ridiculous! Quit letting me past you!” Daiki snapped glaring at the poor defenders who had been completely overwhelmed by Daiki’s strength. Mac frowned and moved to get up but Daiki was already talking again. “Even if you can’t stop me, if you do nothing, you’re not helping at all!”

“I’m trying,” Yamada said, he was a second year like them and looked scared and Mac knew he just said the wrong thing. “You’re just too good. None of us can stop you…”

Mac narrowed her eyes and cursed under her breath, she saw the horror on Daiki’s face and knew he would blow. It was too much.

“Damn it!” Daiki cursed and stormed out of the gym right past Sanada who called after him, but he ignored him.

 

Seconds, minutes, hours could have passed before Mac snapped out of her thoughts and sound started to fill the gym, she heard mutterings about Daiki and how he was acting arrogant.

“What did you say?” Mac whispered but her voice reached the two players who had been whispering about Daiki. They stopped and Mac raised her eyes to look at them with a look in her eyes they hadn’t seen before. “What did you just say about Daiki?”

Her voice was cool, calm, but no one was fooled. They had all heard about how she had teared into Inou after their match in the Nationals.

“N-nothing, Mac-san,” Watanabe said.

“No, not nothing,” Mac said stepping closer. “You just called him a monster. Like the other teams do. Daiki isn’t a monster! I won’t having you call him that!”

“He is!” Yamada suddenly yelled looking pale from his confrontation with Daiki. “He’s too strong! It’s impossible to stop him!”

“That’s not true!” Mac snapped glaring at them and she felt her magic burn under her skin. She inhaled knowing she had to calm down before she lost control of her magic. “Daiki isn’t a monster just because he’s better than you at basketball!”

“Enough!” Sanada stopped the argument before it could get any farther. Mac glared at the other players and turned away from them. “Get back to practice and I will not tolerate anyone calling anyone names! You’re a team!”

A murmur of ‘yes, coach,’ went through the gym as they all went back to their own.

 

Mac grabbed her things as soon as she could; she noticed that both Tetsuya and Sanada were missing. She made her way outside to look for Daiki. It had started to rain heavily, but she ignored it not caring that she was getting wet. All she could think about was that she needed to find Daiki.

She reached the river knowing Daiki liked to watch the water when he was upset, and stopped when she saw Tetsuya already there talking to Daiki. She started to walk again and as she got closer could hear the conversation making her heart sink in dread.

“…even if I’m guaranteed to win when I play? Do I need to crush my disheartened opponents even harder?” Daiki was saying.

“I understand how you feel, but..”

“You understand?” Daiki repeated in a bitter voice Mac didn’t recognised. “What is it you understand?! Tell me! What could someone so powerless understand?!”

Mac stopped short before reaching the two friends, neither had noticed her yet. She had never thought he would say something like that to Tetsuya. Had he changed that much? Where was the boy who had been doing homework with her just a few days ago?

“Even I am jealous of you and the others sometimes,” Tetsuya said and Mac looked at him, he looked so lost and alone. “But crying about it won’t do any good! That’s why I do my best to pass –“

“Who do you pass to?” Daiki interrupted him sounding sad and bitter, “even without your passes, I could beat anyone myself.”

The two seemed to remember something and Tetsuya gasped.

“You haven’t passed to me since then,” Daiki continued. “It happened so recently , but it seems so long ago. I don’t know how to receive your passes anymore.”

The look on his face was devastating, he looked so broken and hurt that Mac felt her breath catch in her throat.

“Stop it!” Mac yelled and both boys jumped and turned to look at her startled, but she didn’t care as tears was running down her face but the rain was doing a good job hiding them from the two. “Stop it! Stop it! I can’t take this anymore! Stop acting like you’re not friends! Stop it!”

“Kenzie…” Daiki whispered but she stepped back.

“Daiki, you’re good but don’t act like the others don’t matter!” Mac said, “we’re all worried about you. I’m worried about you! I can’t fix this! I want to fix it! Tell me how to fix it, Daiki? How do I fix this for you?”

He looked stumped. She sobbed, but not wanting to let him see her cry this time she turned and ran. She ran and ran and ran. All she could think was that she wanted to get away. It was too much.

 

Daiki stared wide eyed after Mac who ran away from him, he had frozen when he heard the pained sob leaving her and knew she was crying. She was crying because of him and he was unable to follow her. His legs stopped after a few steps and he clenched his fists as he watched her getting farther and farther away.

The pain from the coach’s words was being pushed back as he realised just how much he had hurt his best friend. Again. He glanced at Tetsuya who was silently watching Mac as well, his eyes almost dead but a spark of worry was in them. It was like a fog was lifted and he saw just what his words had caused, but… he opened his mouth to say something, to take it back but nothing came out.

“Shit,” he muttered and fell down on the grass. He buried his head in his hands and fought the need to cry. “Shit, shit, shit.”

He was aware that Tetsuya was still standing next to him, but he didn’t say anything. Daiki felt even worse. He had hurt him, but he couldn’t take it back because it was true. He didn’t know how to receive the shadow’s passes anymore. It felt horrible, but that was how it was.

 

Mac stopped running when she reached a small forest, she wasn’t really sure where she was but she paused under a large tree and sank down at the base leaning against it while looking up at the clouded sky. She hadn’t meant to run away from them, but she just couldn’t handle it right now. She didn’t know how. How was she supposed to keep the team together when everyone was breaking? Even her?

Flashes of good times with her friends kept playing in her mind, almost taunting her. The younger Daiki smiled at her, calling her.

Come on, Kenzie! It’s fun! Let’s play!

She remembered how awed and happy she felt running after him, playing with him. Though, now even playing seemed to be something they had to do, not something they wanted to do.

She was so lost in her memories that she didn’t notice someone coming up beside her before a twig snapped and her head snapped up with wide eyes and spotted a old man with grey hair looking down at her, looking rather surprised at the sight of her as he exited the woods.

“O-oh, who are you?” he asked in English and Mac realised just how long it had been since she had talked in English. “What are a young girl doing sitting outside in the rain?”

She took a moment to watch him; he was tall and seemed fit for an old man. His face was wrinkly, but looked like he was used to smiling and laughing, and he had kind blue eyes behind a pair of glasses. His head was slightly tilted to the side like a curious animal as he watched her with a sharp look in his blue eyes.

Chapter Text

2nd year – Teiko – continued from last time…

 

To say that Newt was surprised when he stepped out of the forest on his way back to the lovely Inn he and Tina were staying at during their visit in Japan, and saw the young girl sitting underneath a tree, would be an understatement. He had been out to explore the magical creatures living around Tokyo, it was surprisingly many. It didn’t occurred to him that he might stumbled upon anyone this late in the afternoon, at least not a young girl who looked to be around the same age as his oldest grandson.

It was clear she was crying even if the rain was hiding the tears, he could still see the shoulders shaking and he picked up on the soft cries leaving her. Though, she was rather quiet like she had learned how to cry silently. He could tell she wasn’t aware he was there yet, so he deliberately made a noise and saw how her head snapped up and wide emerald green eyes hidden behind glasses. Her reddish dark hair was wet from the rain, and from what he could see she was wearing some sort of training clothes.

“O-oh, who are you?” he asked curiously and also worried, she looked cold and so…alone. No girl that young should look so alone and sad, it was like she had lost something. He wasn’t the best at reading human emotions, but he did believe he had gotten better over the years. “What are a young girl doing sitting outside in the rain?”

She just stared at him for another minute before looking away and getting to her feet, a hand brushing over her eyes pushing her glasses out of the way as she tried to dry her tears away. He watched her in silence for a moment trying to decide what to say, if this had been an animal he would know how to proceed but this…this needed his wife’s touch. She was the good one at handling kids, like when their son and daughter had been little or with their grandkids. He was good at showing them animals and talk about the different creatures he had but taking care of their hurts and worries…no, that was best left to his wife.

“I didn’t mean to scare you, miss,” he said deciding to tread carefully like she was a scared animal, he could see her shift and her eyes darted around like she was looking for a way out. “I was just on my way back to the Inn I stay at with my wife; I was out looking for animals. Animals here in Japan is really fascinating, they’re different from the ones I’ve studied in England or Europe or Africa. I’ve never really been much in Japan, was in China once. But that was many, many years ago.”

The girl frowned slightly like she struggled to follow his ramble, he winced slightly, he always rambled when he got nervous. You would think being retried and, well, old would have cured him of that nervous habit.

“Are you alright, miss?” he finally asked deciding to be more direct since she was yet to say a word, her eyes warily watching him.

“I’m…fine,” she said quietly, “sorry for startling you, Sir.”

He arched a bushy brow, but didn’t question her. He didn’t have the right to press her.

“I…” she startled but stopped and he noticed for the first time just how pale she was. She swayed on her feet and he was barely warned before she started to tilt and barely managed to catch her before she hit the ground.

“Miss?” he called concerned. “Miss?”

There was no response and he stood there holding her for a moment trying to decide what to do. Making a decision he levitated the girl while walking to his old trusted suitcase that he had placed it when he spotted her. He opened it and with some difficulties seeing as he was not a young man anymore managed to get her down and into the dry room of his expanded suitcase. He wasn’t sure how he would explain this, though…

“Tina!” He called into a mirror and soon his wife’s face looked back at him.

 

“She looks so pale.”

“…I hope I did the right thing…”

“…of course you did, honey, she clearly needs help…”

“…but the magic…”

Mac could hear muffled voices that seemed to be coming from far away, almost as if it was through a thick fog or something. She felt herself lying on something soft and she was warm and dry, in her mind she knew she should be wet…she had been outside in the rain. She wasn’t outside anymore, she realised and payed more attention to the voices. They talked about magic… who was it? She still hadn’t opened her eyes, not wanting to reveal that she was awake yet.

She tried to remember what happened, she had the fight with Daiki and had ran off and then…then she had met the old man coming out of the forest. She realised that he must be one of those who was talking.

Deciding she wouldn’t learn anything new by pretending to sleep she opened her eyes to look at the room she was lying in. It looked like a wooden cabin or something, she was on a sofa in the corner of the room and a bench stretched along a wall on the opposite side of the room, from what she could tell it was cluttered with different plants and small bottles from what she could see from her position on the sofa.

“Oh, you’re awake,” a woman said and Mac sat up as she looked to the woman who entered the room. She had a elegant look about her, Mac noticed, her hair was grey and cut just below her ears. Her eyes were a warm and deep brown now looking at Mac with concern. “Are you feeling better, honey?”

Mac glanced to the man behind her, she recognised him as the man she had met at the edge of the forest. He looked worried at her but smiled kindly when he saw her looking at him.

“Where am I?” Mac whispered.

“In my suitcase,” the man answered making Mac blink.

“In your…what?” Mac asked confused.

The woman rolled her eyes and shot the man a look that Mac thought was exasperation and fondness wrapped in one.

“We’ll explain everything,” she said reassuringly, “I’m Tina, and the man over there is my husband Newt Scamander. I’m sure he forgot to introduce himself earlier.”

Mac blinked. The name was familiar, she had heard it before. She frowned thoughtfully and looked at him once more. Her thoughts were running, they had talked about magic and he had talked about animals…oh, the author.

“Like the author?” she asked without really meaning too and saw the eyebrows raise and the two exchanged looks. Mac felt like cursing, she had just revealed herself as a witch. She couldn’t…

“You’re a witch,” Newt said but he didn’t sound surprised but more contemplative like he was trying to figure her out. She shifted in her seat and looked away from him. Mac suddenly reached up to her neck and let out a relieved breath when she felt the chain around her neck and the familiar weight of the time-turner against her chest. It was still hidden.

“Yes, like the author,” Tina answered her question even when it was obviously no need for it. “He studies magical creatures, he’s a Magizoologist.”

“You’re familiar,” Newt said frowning, “you look just like…”

Mac stilled and bowed her head; her hair was covering her scar like it normally did. She didn’t like showing it off since she learned what it meant and Sasaki and Sato both said that she should not reveal herself for British witches and wizards. What was she supposed to do? How could she get out of this? She wanted Daiki… Mac bit down at her lip as she thought about her best friend. She needed him.

“Newt,” Tina said a warning in her voice.

“Sorry,” he said, “you just remind me of an old friend of mine, Fleamont Potter.”

Mac’s head snapped up and stared at the man with wide eyes when she heard the last name, she had no idea who Fleamont, or whoever, was but Potter… was it possible?

“You recognise the name?” Tina asked noticing her reaction.

“Who…Fleamont Potter?” Mac whispered. “I…”

“You’re Mackenzie,” Newt said smiling softly at her. “I wondered. You look remarkably like Fleamont, but at the same time a perfect mixt of James and Lily. You’re eyes are completely Lily, but your hair and facial structure is like your dad and grandfather.”

Mac felt overwhelmed, grandfather…grandfather…

“Oh my,” Tina said staring at Mac with wide eyes. “How come you’re here?! Everyone was looking for you when you didn’t show up for Hogwarts. It was in the papers…”

“You can’t tell!” Mac pleaded looking between the two. “Please! You can’t tell!”

“What do you mean?” Newt said, “Albus will want to know, he’s worried.”

Mac shook her head and clutched her time-turner through her shirt.

“I can’t…I won’t leave Tokyo!” Mac said shaking her head, “they’ll make me leave! I won’t! They’ll give me back to my aunt and uncle, and I can’t… I can’t…”

“Shh, shh,” Newt cooed like she was a scared animal and only now did Mac realised she had stood and was pressing herself back against the wall. Her breath coming out harshly and she was sweating. “Calm down, we won’t hurt you.”

Mac swallowed and tried to calm her breathing.

“Why do you say that?” Newt said when she calmed down some.

“I don’t want to leave my friends,” Mac whispered knowing that even if they were breaking right now, and everything was changing she couldn’t, wouldn’t leave them. They were her friends and they had given her something she had longed for. Love. Acceptance. And she would be right there with them, even as they broke apart. She would be there when they came back.

“No one says anything about you leaving your friends,” Tina said carefully and Mac gave her a look.

“Like they will let me be here,” Mac said, “I know…I know they all think I’m some sort of saviour over in Britain, a hero or something. I was explained the situation a few months ago. I don’t want to go and be met like that. I’m not a saviour, or a hero. I didn’t do anything to stop Voldemort. I didn’t… it was mum who did. I’m sure it was her, not me.”

 

Newt watched the newfound Mackenzie Potter, he couldn’t believe that Fleamont and Euphemia Potter’s granddaughter was standing in front of him. He had seen her as a baby when he and Tina came to visit James and Lily before they went into hiding. She had been a cute little thing and so interested in his animals. It had broken his heart hearing James and Lily had died and how little Mackenzie was now an orphan.

He also wondered what had caused her to get so worked up, it was clear she was really scared about the aspect of being taken back to Britain and leaving her friends. He looked to Tina and saw the thoughtful look on her face as she watched Mac; he recognised the Auror look on her face.

“You attend magic school here?” Tina asked and Mac looked at her.

“Kind of,” Mac said confusing them both. Mac seemingly saw this and sighed as she shifted on her feet, it looked like she was considering something. “I…I only learned I was a witch a few months ago… my…relatives never told and we moved to Tokyo to get away from…magic. I only learned it was magic when I lost control and had a burst of accidental magic after they left.”

“Left?”

“Just learned about magic?!”

Newt looked horrified at the young girl, just what had happened to her? Mac glanced away from them again and bit down at her lower lip.

“I am living with my best friend and his family at the moment,” Mac said quietly, “and I am learning magic from a former professor at Mahoutokoro and at the same time attend Muggle School.”

Newt arched a brow at that, just how could she find the strength to do both? He knew that just doing your magical studies would be hard, and she was doing Muggle School at the same time?

“I see,” Newt said.

 

Mac glanced at the clock and felt her eyes widen. It was nearly 11 pm and she knew Daiki and his parents would be worried.

“I have to go home!” Mac said. “Daiki will be worried.”

Newt and Tina exchanged looks, “of course. I…may we meet you again, Miss Potter? We would like to talk more with you.”

Mac looked at them for a moment before nodding and turned to leave before realising she didn’t really know where to go, and Newt had said something about a suitcase.

“Wait…” Mac said and looked at them again. “Did you say something about a suitcase earlier?”

“Yeah,” Newt grinned happily. “You leave from the stairs over there. Come on.”

 

Daiki paced the living room floor and glanced out of the window, it was completely dark outside now and Mac was still not home. He had rushed inside when he got home and up to Mac’s room only to find it empty. Neither of his parents had seen her, and both were worried, they had been out looking but no luck. It was his fault, he knew that.

“You think we should contact Sato-san again?” Ayano asked worriedly.

“He would let us know if she shows up at his place,” Takehiro said, “I’m sure she’s fine.”

Daiki opened his mouth to say something when he heard the door open and he rushed out of the living room and saw Mac entering the house.

“Kenzie!” Daiki exclaimed worriedly, “where have you been? You worried me!”

Mac blinked at him before looking away, it hurt that she looked away from him, but he had seen the pain in her eyes before she did and guilt welled up inside of him making it difficult to swallow.

“Mac,” Ayano sighed in relief and rushed over to the younger girl hugging her tightly, Daiki noticed the relieved look on his father’s face as well but he remained standing just inside the room.

“I’m sorry,” Mac mumbled, “I…forgot the time.”

Ayano looked at her for a moment and opened her mouth to say something, but Takehiro spoke first interrupting whatever his wife were going to say.

“You look tired,” he said, “why don’t you go to bed? We can talk later.”

Mac bit her lower lip but nodded and without looking at Daiki who stood still beside her left the room and up the stairs.

 

Mac had just come back from her magic lessons for the day and set the Time-Turner to go back seven hours so she could make it in time for classes in Teiko. She had spent most of her day wondering if she should mention Newt Scamander or not to Sato, she had noticed that her professor had looked at her with a sharp look from time to time, but she remained silent. She wasn’t sure why, but something inside of her kept her from telling the older man about her new connection to Britain. She was very aware that neither Newt nor Tina had promised to remain silent about their knowledge of her being in Tokyo. Sato or Sasaki might be needed to help her convince them, but…they knew her parents, her grandparents. It was a chance to actually learn something new about her past for once. From someone who knew.

Daiki had already left when she came back and she hurried out of the house and toward the school, she had her bag thrown over her shoulder as she rushed to the school. She was just entering the classroom when the bell rang and she sank down on her seat next to Daiki with a soft sigh. She noticed him glance at her from his seat, but didn’t say anything.

The teacher droned on and on, and to no surprised to Mac she noticed Daiki sleeping with his head hidden in his arms leaned over his desk. She could see a small part of his face and he looked peaceful as he slept, she smiled sadly before turning back to her notes trying to concentrate on what the teacher was telling them about Japanese literature.

“Daiki,” Mac said nudging the arm and watched with faint amusement as her friend startled as he woke up. “Class is over, sleepyhead.”

Daiki glanced at her and she saw the mix of emotions in his eyes, he rubbed his eyes and yawned as he got up.

“I didn’t mean to fall asleep,” Daiki mumbled.

“I know,” Mac said, “I can help you with the homework later, ok?”

Daiki glanced at her again and gave her a small smile before turning away. Mac sighed, it wasn’t like it normally was but she refused to lose him completely. She would hang on to him any way she could, even if basketball was something they wouldn’t have together anymore. It hurt, but she had made her decision last night. She couldn’t lose her best friend.

 

Mac entered the gym on her own, Daiki had refused to go and Mac knew better than to force him. Not no, she told herself. She would give him time. Perhaps, he only needed some time away before he realised he missed the game and the team. She hoped.

She immediately spotter Tetsuya who was standing by himself and Mac realised just how…lost he looked. No one was paying him any attention and probably wasn’t even aware that he was in the room, how they overlooked him when he radiated hurt and confusion was a mystery to her. She stood there watching him for a moment taking in the paleness of skin and the shadows under his eyes signalling that he hadn’t been sleeping well lately.

Mac felt guilty, she hadn’t really thought about how Tetsuya would deal with Daiki’s change. She knew how much Daiki’s friendship meant to the shadow and Daiki had been pulling away from him, more so than with her. She saw him at home and he still sought her out outside of basketball, but she realised he had been shutting Tetsuya out completely. A frown settled on her face as she realised all this and again the guilt stirred, she should have seen it before. She should have done something…

Making up her mind she walked over to him and smiled a little when he looked at her with a concerned look in his teal blue eyes.

“You ok, Mac?” he asked reminding her that he had seen her upset and running off the day before.

“Good enough,” Mac shrugged, “you?”

“Fine,” he said and looked down.

Mac pursed her lips as she watched him. He wasn’t fine, but she didn’t confront him with the lie. Understanding why he felt the need to pretend. It was what she did most of the time lately, she thought.

“Come on, let’s play,” Mac said and passed a basketball to him making him blink as he caught the ball. “I’ll practice with you today.”

“Ok,” Tetsuya smiled and Mac smiled back.

 

“Let’s talk, Tetsu,” Mac said when practice finished, and everyone was leaving. The practice had goon well enough, but there was a certain tension in the air that Mac knew stemmed from the absence of Daiki. She had heard a few whispers about it and had glared at those who did making them shut up.

Tetsuya looked surprised and Mac felt bad, why had she not taken the time to talk to Tetsuya before? She knew how it felt to be left behind, and she hated that she might have made him feel like that. She gave him a warm smile which he returned a little hesitantly. They walked to the local convenience store where they had come many times with the team, she bought them both something to drink and sat down at one of the free tables outside.

“How are you really, Tetsu?” Mac asked after a moment.

Tetsuya looked at her and then down at the soda in his hand, she could tell he was thinking.

“I’m worried about him,” Tetsuya admitted. “I’m worried about them all.”

Mac sighed and nodded, “me too.”

“I can’t think of anything that will help,” Tetsuya sighed looking as tired as Mac felt. “I’m not strong enough to help.”

Mac realised, again, that he really did understand how she felt. She also felt too weak, helpless, to find a solution, to find a way to bring the team back together. She sighed and pulled a hand over her face.

“I know,” she whispered. “I understand, Tetsu. I don’t know how to keep us together, and maybe…maybe it’s impossible. At least right now, but I can’t do anything but be here when they find their way back.”

Tetsuya looked at her with a pensive look in his eyes, “you think they’ll come back?”

Mac shrugged, “maybe not right away, but one day. Maybe. I hope so.”

He nodded but she knew he would continue to search for a way to bring them back and she remembered something Daiki had said once. Back when Tetsuya had first joined the first stings.

I know he will save us someday. I’m not sure why, but I know he will!

Maybe…maybe he was the answer, Mac thought as she looked at the shadow. She smiled a little and felt a little better, anyway, she wasn’t alone in her quest to get them back.

They drank the rest of the drinks in silence and Mac mulled over her newest revelations, she knew it would get worse, it was obvious that Atsushi was getting more rebellious and Seijuro would react badly to his rebellion soon. Mac felt the shift in her friend more and more lately, and it worried her. She didn’t want to lose Seijuro as well as Daiki.

“I have to get back;” Mac finally said making Tetsuya look up. Mac glanced at the clock, it was time for her to meet with Newt and Tina again. She felt a spark of nervousness and apprehension stir her, but she knew she wanted to see them again too. She was curious.

“Ok,” Tetsuya said.

“Tetsu, remember you can always come talk to me,” Mac told him seriously, “I’m sorry I made you think you were alone in all this.”

Tetsuya looked surprised at her, and she looked down guiltily.

“I’m not mad at you, Mac,” Tetsuya said. “You’re hurting as well, more than me. I know that.”

Mac looked at him and saw the sincerity in his eyes, “well, we’re in this together now at least.”

He nodded and she smiled before waving and turned to walk toward the forest she had been at the day before.

 

Tetsuya smiled a little as he watched Mac walk away, he had gone to school that day feeling down and alone. He had been worried about Daiki and about Mac, she had looked so hurt and broken the day before and he knew that she took the change in Daiki the worst. Though, she seemed to have pulled herself together some, while she still looked hurt and worried, she seemed better. Like she had reached some sort of decision.

Starting to walk home he thought back to the practice and how Mac had helped him with his style, she had received his passes and pointed out how he could make them better and stronger. The talk they had after proved he wasn’t as alone like he thought. He couldn’t help but feel better, even if he had no real answer to the problems the team was up against.

 

Mac found Newt and Tina at the edge of the forest like they had agreed on and felt her stomach lurch as she neared them. Both smiled warmly in welcome and Mac tried her best to smile back. She saw the suitcase beside them and saw how worn it looked. She wondered how old it was and what adventures it had seen.

“Mackenzie,” Newt said surprising her a little by the use of her full name, no one called her by it.

“Mr Scamander,” Mac greeted.

“Call me Newt,” he told her. Mac nodded.

“Did you get a good night sleep?” Tina asked concerned.

“Yeah,” Mac smiled a little shyly and felt a little awkward, she wasn’t sure what to say or how to act.

“Did you have anything to eat before coming here?” Newt suddenly asked.

“No, I came right after school,” Mac said quietly.

“Well, then let’s get you something to eat,” Tina said and walked toward the suitcase. Newt had already opened it and Mac stared at it, she knew she had been inside the day before but it was strange to see it from this point of view. She had been unconscious last time when she had entered it.

“Come on,” Newt called startling Mac out of her thoughts.

 

She saw that she was back in the same room she had been in the day before, the sofa was still in the corner and she saw many plants and herbs on the bench, she recognised some from her potion lessons. She also saw the door at the other end and wondered what was out there, just as she thought that she heard something. It sounded like animals, but she couldn’t tell what animal.

“I’ll make us some dinner,” Tina said with a gently smile as she watched Mac look around the room with curious eyes. “Why don’t you show her around, Newt?”

“Of course,” Newt said enthusiastically. “Do you want to look around, Mackenzie?”

Mac nodded and followed the older man to the door and paused just as she stepped out of the room and outside. She blinked and blinked again as she stared at the whole new world around her with wide eyes. It really was like a whole new world, she was outside even as she knew she was still inside the suitcase.

“How…” Mac gasped as she stared at a large rock and the blue sky above.

“A complicated piece of magic,” Newt grinned, “I had it done in my younger days. It’s where I keep the magical creatures I find and rescue on my journey. I study them and then find safe homes for them if they’re endangered, some stay here for a long time.”

Mac nodded mutely as she continued to look around. She walked away from the small cabin she had just exited and watched as planes of fields came into sight. There was much room for animals to live and she could feel the hum of magic in the air, something she had been able to feel since she realised what it was.

Mac jumped slightly when she felt something bump her hand and saw…a strange creature staring at her, or she should say creatures because there were a few. They were pale grey and had long neck but didn’t reach higher than her elbows, and large round eyes.

“That’s a mooncalf,” Newt explained as Mac watched fascinated at the strange creatures.

“Oh, they’re cute,” Mac said making Newt smile.

They moved further away and Mac saw many magical creatures she had no idea existed at all, her lessons didn’t really focus on magical creatures so she had very little knowledge on them. As they walked she saw creatures that Newts called Erumpent, reminding her of a very large rhinoceros but that could glow, Murtlap.

“And this is a Bowtruckle,” Newt said and Mac stared at the small green stick-figure creature that was now hanging on Newts finger. She detected a special fondness from the older man as he held it out for her, “I used to have a Bowtruckle follow me everywhere. He would his in my jacket and refuse to go back to the trees where they live. They’re normally found in northern countries, like Scandinavia.”

“Oh,” Mac nodded and smiled as the Bowtruckle waved his small arms and seemed to be talking. She reached out gently and Newt allowed her to hold the creature. Mac smiled feeling the light weight of the Bowtruckle in her hand. “Hello.”

 

Newt smiled as he watched Mac greet the Bowtruckle like it would understand her, he liked that. He saw the wonder in her eyes as she chuckled at the little creature who seemed to have taken a liking to her. Not that it was alone in doing that, Newt thought. He had noticed that all of the animals they had met had taken a liking to the young witch who had been curious and awed everytime one of them had come up to meet her.

After a while Newt took the Bowtruckle and placed it back on the tree, much to the small creatures displeasure if the grumbling and clinging it did was any indication. Newt couldn’t help but be reminded of Pickett.

They continued to a hollow tree and Mac gave a started gasp at the sight of all the gold inside making Newt smile and soon the Niffler came into view with a curious tilt to his head. Mac was watching with wide eyes as the Niffler came closer, he had a long snout and black fluffy fur.

Before Newt could say anything the Niffler jumped at her and grabbed something she was wearing around her neck, Newt hadn’t noticed until now but he saw the gold chain as the Niffler pulled at it and a hour-glass looking device came into view.

Mac gave a startled gasp and grabbed for the chain as she tried to push the Niffler away. Newt hurriedly grabbed the Niffler and managed to force his hands or paws off the chain.

“You don’t grab things like that,” Newt scolded the little thief with a stern look. “That’s not nice.”

Mac took a step back and put the chain back underneath her shirt again so Newt couldn’t see it anymore. He placed the Niffler back in the tree and it remained watching Mac with a searching look in its amber eyes.

“It’s a Niffler,” Newt explained, “they’re attracted to everything that shines. I should have warned you.”

“It’s ok,” Mac said a little shakily not wanting to admit how much it had startled her and reminded her of her cousin who would sometimes grab her without warning. She inhaled deeply to calm down.

“You okay?” Newt asked concerned.

“I’m fine,” Mac said looking at the Niffler curiously now that she had calmed down. “I bet he can cause trouble.”

Newt laughed and nodded.

 

“I think dinner is ready,” Newt said and looked toward where Mac guessed the cabin was and nodded. She looked away from what Newt had said was a Demiguise. Resembling a ape with large brown eyes and long silky hair the Demiguise was calm and gentle. She, Mac learned it was a she, had immediately walked over to Mac and taken her hand, pulling at it and Mac had sat down on a fallen tree branch before she had a lap full of a Demiguise who started to pat Mac’s hair and make soft cooing noises.

“Um,” Mac realised it wasn’t as easy to get up with the Demiguise in her lap. “Thank you for your care, but I have to go and eat now.”

The Demiguise looked at her and for a moment she worried what the Demiguise would do but then she jumped off her lap and Mac was allowed to stand. She was a little surprised when the Demiguise took her hand and started to walk with her.

“I think she likes you,” Newt smiled and Mac blushed slightly and looked back down at the Demiguise.

They reached the cabin faster than Mac would have thought and saw Tina standing outside waiting for them, she had set up a small table with three chairs around and the food was already set.

“I see you have a fan,” Tina smiled spotting the Demiguise.

“She seems to have decided to take care of Mackenzie,” Newt said, “mothering her.”

Mac arched a brow and glanced at the Demiguise who was calm and just watched Mac. Mac smiled and reached out to pat her head.

 

“Mackenzie,” Newt voice caused her to look up from where she had been having the strangest conversation she could remember having with a Demiguise. She had just finished eating and had tried to convince the mothering Demiguise that she as full and couldn’t eat anything else.

“Yeah?” Mac asked.

“Why do you have a Time-Turner?” Newt asked bluntly and Mac reached automatically to her Time-Turner.

“I…” Mac trailed off with a frown. “I got it when I started my magic lessons. I have my magic lessons first and then I go back and attend my muggle school.”

Newt and Tina exchanged looks, “why not go to a magic school?”

Mac looked them and Newt was hit with the desperation and stubborn determination in her emerald green eyes as she stared at them.

“I was told I could go to Hogwarts or Mahoutokoro,” Mac answered, “but since I just learned about magic I would be behind everyone my age and need to start at the beginning. It didn’t tempt me, and I know from their explanations that I am…rather well-known in Britain. I don’t like it, and I want to be liked for being me and not someone else. Here I have my friends, Daiki and everyone else on my team. They helped me and accepted me for me, and… I refuse to leave them.”

Mac knew she had to explain thoroughly, it was important that they understood so they wouldn’t tell anyone that she was here. She couldn’t…

“What about those who’s worried about you?” Tina asked gently and Mac gave her a incredulous look.

“Who would that be?” Mac asked with a surprisingly sharp look in her eyes. Both Newt and Tina frowned slightly at her tone, and the Demiguise jumped up into Mac’s lap and started to sooth her.

“Well, there are several who were worried when you didn’t turn up at Hogwarts,” Newt said, “the headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, for one. Friends of your parents…”

Mac gave him a blank look, “they didn’t worry about me enough to check if I was okay with my magic hating relatives. So why should I care that they worry now? I won’t leave those who did help me for those who ignored me for 10 years.”

Mac looked away from the shocked faces of Newt and Tina and focused on the Demiguise who was trying to calm her down, Mac realised. She leaned into the touch and felt a calmness she normally didn’t feel when talking about her relatives. She wasn’t even sure why she talked about them now. Why should she tell them about the Dursley’s?

“Mackenzie…” Tina spoke up breaking the silence that filled the room. “What do you mean?”

Mac glanced at her, “I meant what I said. I don’t want to talk about it. They left, I’m free of them now. I have no intention of ever seeing them again or leaving my friends. I beg of you to not tell anyone that you’ve seen me here. I won’t go back to Britain now. I can’t.”

Newt watched her and frowned, he was thinking about what she had revealed and he knew enough to understand that she had been abused by her family. Anger filled him, the idea of anyone abusing a child was so foreign to him and filled him with a rage he normally never felt. That the child was the granddaughter of someone who had been a friend made it even worse.

“Alright,” Newt said and Mac’s eyes snapped over to him, he also noticed that Tina looked at him. “We won’t tell anyone.”

“Thank you,” Mac said looking at him gratefully.

 

Mac sat down on the ground and leaned against a tree and wriggled around a little before she became comfortable. She pulled out her sketchpad and pencil smiling a little as the familiar weight settled in her hand. She hadn’t felt like drawing in so long, but now…she felt like drawing. She looked to see the Demiguise close to her, watching her with a intense look. Newt and Tina was seated by the table talking quietly among themselves but they glanced at her from time to time. She was grateful they let her have a little time to herself, she needed it.

Mac started to draw occasionally looking up to see her motive before looking back at the sketchpad and the image that was taking form. She was unaware that Newt and Tina studied her with careful and concerned looks, so lost in the drawing was she.

“You think it’s a good idea to not tell Albus that she’s here;” Tina asked her husband. “You know how worried he was.”

“Yeah, but you heard her,” Newt said sadly, “she’s happy here. She’s right about how she’ll be treated back at Hogwarts. She’s the hero, and they won’t see the young girl needing help. They will expect her to be strong and courageous. You know it true, and I fear Albus would still place her at Hogwarts.”

“But if…”

“He’ll say it’s for the greater good, Tina,” Newt said, “that she needs to be there and show the world that the Death Eaters haven’t won. You know there’s still Death Eaters out there that would love to kill her, and right now she’s safest here in Tokyo. No one expects her to here.”

She gave him a look before frowning and looked at Mac who was absorbed in her drawing, she wondered how good it was and if Mac would let her see it when she was finished. The younger girl was sweet, Tina thought, and loyal. The way she talked about her friends…

“You seem pretty sure you know how Albus will react,” Tina said turning back to her husband and he gave her a sad smile.

“I know him well,” Newt said, “he’s a good man, but sometimes he’s too caught up in what he sees as the greater good. That was something he shared with Grindewald. Luckily they have different views on what the greater good is.”

Tina scowled at the mention of the former Dark Lord that had terrorised Europe and America, she looked up when Newt squeezed her hand making her smile softly at him realising he understood what was going through her head.

“I see,” she said and glanced at Mac again, she looked so concentrated still and Tina couldn’t help but smile at her. “She’s quite different from Rolf, don’t you think?”

“Rolf can’t sit still longer than five minutes,” Newt said fondly referring to their oldest grandson. “He’s a couple of years younger than her though.”

Tina nodded and chuckled amused, before frowning worried when she saw her husband tense and straighten up in his seat.

“Wha-?” she started to ask and turned to see what her husband was looking at. The Demiguise’s eyes had turned blue and Tina knew it meant she was foreseeing the future, she was startled when the Demiguise jumped up and settled on Newt’s lap and placed her hand on his shoulders as if to hold him down. Newt frowned at the Demiguise in confusion, but looked up and away in worry.

Tina then noticed the small fox cub that Newt had found and rescued standing at the edge of the small wooden area and was staring at Mac who was still drawing seemingly oblivious to being the target of the fox cub’s attention. Tina felt worried as well, she knew that Newt had some trouble with the little cub. He was hostile and even Newt had problems being close to him for longer than a few minutes.

The Demiguise was still holding him and Newt knew she had probably foreseen something, but he was not sure he should let the fox cub coming closer to Mac. Though, the little cub didn’t look to hostile right now… he had just found the cub, he had been the only one to survive an attack on his family and being so young he would have died if Newt didn’t rescue him. But he was still hostile toward humans and being a magical fox could actually do quite a lot of damage.

A soft growling sound filled the air and Newt tensed, but the Demiguise tightened her hold on him and he could only watch. He glanced at Tina who looked conflicted, she looked at Newt and the Demiguise before she seemed to make a decision and remain seated.

 

The soft growling sound had Mac’s head snap up and her eyes fell on the cutest little fox cub she had ever seen, not that she had actually seen any before. The fur was a reddish brown and a white spot was in the middle of his forehead. His brown eyes were staring at Mac and he growled softly, but Mac didn’t feel scared. She gently put her sketchpad down on the other side of her and just watched the fox cub back.

“Hello there,” Mac murmured softly, “shh, it’s alright. I won’t hurt you.”

The little cub still growled, but it was not hostile anymore. It took a few steps closer to Mac before stopping and looked at her. Mac remained seated where she was, patient and calm as she watched with as small smile on her face. A few more steps a softer growl that sounded more questioning in Mac’s ears. Finally the cub was just by her hand and he looked at her hand before looking up at Mac with a curious yet wary look in his brown eyes.

“Such a cute little fox you are,” Mac murmured , “good little fox.”

The cub tilted his head and looked at her for a long moment longer and surprised everyone watching when he jumped up into Mac’s lap and circled himself a few times in her lap before laying down, resting his head on his little paws. Mac watched wide eyed at the cub in her lap and carefully moved her right hand closer to the little cub. He eyed her hand warily but didn’t protest, so she gently started to pat him making him purr lowly and sounds as if he was crying escaped hitting her deep in her heart.

“Shh, shh,” Mac murmured, “it’s okay, little cub, shh, shh…”

Mac kept repeating it as she comfortingly patted the cub and after a while he stopped the crying sounds and his eyelids dropped as if falling asleep.

 

Newt watched wide-eyed as Mac comforted the little cub with a gentle touch. He had never seen anything like this before, the cub had sought her out on his own and had for the first time since Newt found him accepted touch from a human. The shock made him sink weakly back in his seat as he stared at the scene he couldn’t take his eyes off. He barely noticed that the Demiguise jump off his lap and settled close to Mac and the fox cub again.

“Oh my…” Tina whispered softly making Newt glanced at her and see the teary eyes and the hand over her mouth.

Newt felt the same and looked back at Mac and the now sleeping cub. Mac glanced up at them and arched a brow. Newt gave her a sad smile.

“I found him a few days ago,” Newt explained. “His family died in a attack by humans. He’s too young to take care of himself yet, and would have died being left alone. I found him and took him in, but’s been hostile and not allowed anyone near him. This is the first time he’s allowed anyone to come close.”

Mac felt hear heart break for the little fox and unconsciously tighten her hold on the little cub who snuggled closer to her warmth. She looked down at him and felt warmth fill her and a sad smile crossed her lips.

Newt saw this and tilted his head pensively as he watched them; he was starting to wonder what would happen when Mac left. Looking at the time he knew she would have to go soon, but…would the little cub allow it? He furrowed his bushy brows a little in worry as he looked at Mac who was again looking at the little cub with a soft look in her eyes. It was clear that she too had fallen for the little fox.

“What kind of fox is he?” Mac asked curiously still not looking away from the fox.

“He’s a Kitsune,” Newt said.

“Like in the folklores?” Mac asked remembering they had learned about them at school.

“I know they are very popular in Japanese folklores,” Newt confirmed. “Some differences are there, in the folklores it’s said that any fox that lives for a long time can turn into a Kitsune. That isn’t the case. I do believe that he is part Kitsune and part normal fox.”

“What about his tails?” Mac asked stroking down the back of the cub and touching his tail.

“I believe that he’s hiding them at the moment,” Newt explained, “he’s still a cub, but he should have a couple of tails. They can hide them with their magic, and won’t show them until they trust you.”

Mac nodded but didn’t ask anything else, only looked at the little fox.

 

“I need to go home,” Mac murmured after a while, “Daiki will worry.”

Newt nodded and got up, immediately the little cub opened his eyes and growled. Newt stopped and watched as Mac started to pet the little fox and he calmed down again but his eyes were narrowed and watching Newt.

“Hmm,” Newt looked at them contemplatively. “I think he’s adopted you.”

“Eh?” Mac’s eyes were wide and she glanced down at the cub in her lap and up at Newt.

“I think you’ll find that leaving here without him will be a bit problematic,” Newt said eyes still trained on the cub. “He seems to like you.” <&o>

“But…” Mac said weakly.

“Of course I could force him to leave you, but…” Newt frowned, he didn’t like doing that but it might be the only way.

“No,” Mac protested and looked down at the cub. “Hi, shh, look at me little one.”

The fox blinked and Mac wondered if it was normal for a fox to understand what you told them, because it seemed he did. The fox turned and blinked up at her with the cutest look, his eyes wide giving him the little pouty look that made melted her heart.

“I have to go home now,” Mac told him, “and you have to stay here.”

The growling sound was back and he nibbled at the sleeve of her shirt, she looked up at Newt and bit down at her lower lip.

“What should I do?” she asked.

Newt was quiet for a moment and seemed to be thinking while Mac was wondering how they were going to resolve this. Could she keep him? Would Ayano-san and Takehiro-san allow her to do so? She wanted him, she wanted him more than anything. Her hand stroked the foxes fur and he purred closing his eyes contently.

“Do you want to keep him?” Newt asked. “I think you will be the best one, he seems to trust you.”

Mac looked down meeting the wide brown eyes and bit her lip. What should she do?

Chapter Text

2nd year – Teiko – continued from last time…

 

“I want him.”

The words was out of Mac’s mouth before she really knew she had spoken out loud, but she didn’t regret it. It was the truth and she knew deep in her heart that it was right for her to take in the little cub that was now pressing as close as he could get to her stomach. Soft noises were coming from him and she stroked his soft fur gently to calm him.

“Ok,” Newt said, “you’ll need to learn more about how to take care of a Kitsune properly and more about them so you’ll know what to expect.”

“Ok,” Mac nodded. “Can we meet again tomorrow like we did today?”

“Of course,” Newt agreed, “you best take the little cub with you.”

Mac nodded and with some difficulties managed to stand up; she was careful not to drop the fox and cradled him in her arms like you would a baby. She smiled when the cub closed his eyes made a soft almost purring sound in contentment.

“Thanks,” Mac said taking her bag that Tina held out after having placed her sketchpad into it. Tina gave her a soft smile and glanced down at the little fox.

Newt gave her some information she needed until the next time they met, and Mac nodded seriously as she listened to the instruction. She didn’t want to mess up.

 

Mac sat down on the floor in her room, the little cub in her lap looking around curiously but refusing to leave the safety of her lap. She watched as he tilted his head and ears twitched making her smile softly and stroked him over the back. Her mind going over everything that had happened that day and how she had ended up with a Kitsune as a pet, though, she was hesitant to call him a pet.

She had told Daiki and his parents everything when she got back, how she had met Newt and his wife Tina. Daiki had looked down shamefully at that, but Mac had given him a small smile to show she didn’t blame him. She told them how they figured out who she was because they knew her grandparents when they were alive, and that they had agreed to keep her being in Japan a secret. She felt a little awkward telling them all that, but she needed to do so in order to explain her new companion and ask for permission to keep him.

Ayano had cooed over how cute he was, and had looked disappointed when he refused to let anyone but Mac touch him. He had growled at everyone and Mac had been quick to calm him down. She feared he would scare them into not accepting him as a permanent house guest, but Ayano had melted at his story and Takehiro had agreed but had her promise that she would keep an eye on him and be responsible for every part of his care and not leave it to anyone else. Mac had promised.

The growl coming from the fox, she really needed to find him a name, alerted her before the knock did that someone was outside her room. She patted the little cub calmly before answering.

“Come in.”

Daiki popped his head into her room and smiled slightly as he spotted her on the floor, he looked a little hesitant and her heart broke a little at the new tension between them. Before he would have just entered her room without any care, and she missed those days.

“Do you mind any company?” Daiki asked.

“Not at all,” Mac smiled, “come in, Daiki.”

Daiki grinned and entered the room before closing the door behind him. He went to the desk and sat down at the chair there so he was a little distance away from her with the fox.

“He’s cute,” Daiki said looking at the cub.

“Yes, he is,” Mac smiled softly and scratched him behind his ear making him purr and break in the small growling he had done since Daiki showed himself. “He’s not very trusting right now, though.”

Daiki nodded but didn’t say anything for a while. He kept watching them with a curious look in his eyes.

“Do you have a name for him yet?” Daiki asked breaking the silence between them.

Mac looked up and away from the little one in her lap for a moment and met Daiki’s eyes before looking back down. She tilted her head with a thoughtful look in her emerald green eyes.

“Hmm…” she hummed. “I don’t know…”

Daiki nodded, “he should have a name. Can’t go and call him fox all the time, it’s boring and he needs a name.”

Mac rolled her eyes at her best friend, but she agreed. But what to call him, she wanted something special, something that was him. He lifted his head and looked up at her with wide brown eyes and blinked adorably up at her.

“Nao,” Mac whispered.

Daiki made a sound that sounded like approval, but Mac didn’t look up but at the little fox in her lap. He blinked at her and tilted his head like he was pondering the name.

“Do you like it?” Mac asked, “Nao-chan? Nao means honest.”

Mac waited a few seconds before a purring sound escaped the cub, no Nao, and he bobbed his head like in acceptance. The newly named Nao nibbled at her sleeve and she started to pet him making him bark softly.

“You like it,” Mac smiled happy and another bark was her answer.

“He sounds like he understands you,” Daiki said sounding a little surprised.

“He understands,” Mac said looking up meeting Daiki’s eyes. “I’m sure all animals can understand to a certain degree, but he’s a magical fox. A Kitsune, Newt called him, so I’m sure that’s why he understands us better.”

Daiki blinked and nodded looking pensive. They talked a little longer, Daiki staying at the desk because if he tried to get closer Nao growled and narrowed his eyes at him. Mac shook her head and worked on calming the little one down again.

 

Mac blinked awake a little confused as to why she felt something on her stomach. She looked down and spotted Nao curled up on her stomach asleep with his head resting on his little paws. She smiled at the adorable image, but she found herself in a predicament. She needed to get up, but she didn’t want to wake Nao up. Furrowing her brows a little she gently reached out and started to lift Nao off her.

“Ow-wow-wow,” Nao’s eyes were open and looked at her accusingly.

“Sorry, Nao-chan,” Mac apologized, “I just have to get up.”

“Ow-wow-wow-ow,” his high pitch barks sounded scolding and Mac shook her head.

She pushed herself up and Nao jumped off the bed and followed her to the bathroom, she hesitated before accepting that he would not accept being left on his own in her bedroom. It felt awkward and strange getting ready with the little shadow but she managed.

Stepping back into her room she got dressed in her school uniform glad she didn’t have to go to Sato’s house that day seeing he had a guest lecture at Mahoutokoro.

“Let’s find you something to eat, Nao-chan,” Mac told him and he barked in agreement.

Making her way downstairs she saw she was the first one up, though glancing at the clock showed that the others would soon get up as well. She went to the fridge and found some fruits and cut it up before placing it in bowl and put it down on the floor. Nao eyed it for a second before attacking it and ate more than the day before. Mac smiled pleased.

She turned back to the fridge and took out the ingredients to make breakfast and started to prepare the meal. She would sometimes do that so Ayano wouldn’t have to. She was almost finished when she noticed that Nao tensed and the fur on his neck stood up. She then heard movement from upstairs and knew what had caused Nao to tense. She put the pan down and lowered the heat before bowing down to pick up the little cub and snuggled him against her chest.

“Shh, it’s okay,” she whispered to him. “It’s only our family.”

Our family, Mac smiled a little as she realised that they were indeed her family. She had settled with them so well and felt like she belonged there. They never acted like she wasn’t a part of their family. Nao barked, but stopped growling.

“That’s it,” Mac smiled and let him snuggled against her chest and adjusted so she supported him with one arm and somehow managed to finish breakfast with her free arm.

“Oh,” Ayano paused looking at Mac and the breakfast, a typical English breakfast, that was already on the table. She saw the fox cub in Mac’s arm growling softly and eyeing her mistrustfully. “I thought I heard someone.”

“I woke early and decided to just get up and feed Nao-chan,” Mac said.

“Nao-chan?” Ayano repeated.

“Yeah, I decided to name him Nao,” Mac nodded tightening her arm around Nao

“A cute name,” Ayano smiled. “Did he eat?”

“Yeah,” Mac nodded.

Soon the kitchen was full and Mac smiled amused at the tired looking Daiki who looked ready to fall asleep once more.

“Oooh!” Shiro gasped staring at Nao in Mac’s arm. “Is that a fox?”

He sounded so awed that Mac had to smile, Sayuri was also staring at them with wide eyes.

“Yes,” Mac said, “his name is Nao. He’s a little scared of humans right now, so don’t try to pet him, ok? Let him get to know you first.”

“Ok,” the two seven year olds nodded.

 

Another problem arrived when it was time for Mac to leave for school. She scowled at Daiki who looked amused at the scene. Mac had stepped out of the house and Nao had attached himself to her leg by biting down at the heel of her shoe.

“Nao-chan,” Mac said, “I have to go. I have school.”

Nao of course didn’t let go and Mac sighed. She looked at Daiki who shrugged not sure how to solve this. What was she going to do? She should have thought about this before, but she hadn’t. And now she was stuck with a clingy fox cub and needing to leave for school.

“Nao-chan,” she started.

“Yaaggaghhg.” The soft cry broke her heart.

“Oh, fine,” she gave up and scooped him up and carried him as she started to walk to school.

“You’re bringing him?” Daiki arched a brow.

“I don’t see any other way,” Mac frowned, “I don’t know the consequences of leaving him alone yet. He’s just a cub. I need to talk to Newt about it.”

Daiki nodded, “but what do you plan to do in class?”

Mac frowned, “he can hide in my bag.”

Daiki arched a brow but shrugged.

 

Letting out a sigh of relief when the final bell sounded and the classes of the day was over Mac grabbed her bag and made her way out of the classroom. She ignored the strange looks she got; she knew she had been acting strange with checking her bag every few minutes and taking it out every break. She had to make sure Nao got enough air and exercise as well as food.

Luckily, Nao seemed happy enough with the arrangement and even if there had been a couple of close calls they had managed to pull it off.

“What about practice?” Daiki asked looking at her.

“I’ll bring him,” Mac shrugged. “I’ll just focus on observing and analysing today. Sanada-sensei wants a new rapport soon, anyway.”

Mac didn’t ask Daiki if he was coming but was pleased when he kept pace with her and followed her to the gym. When reaching the gym he hesitated and Mac was stunned by the hesitant, almost pained expression on his face as he stared at the large double door leading into the large gym where they had spent countless hours playing basketball.

“Daiki?” Mac asked concerned.

Daiki blinked and seemed to shake himself out of whatever he was thinking, but he didn’t say anything and Mac didn’t press. She was unsure how much she could press without chasing him away. He looked like he wanted to turn around and leave, but a glance at her seemed to make him stay. She smiled at him and grabbed his hand and pulled him into the gym.

“Mac, Aomine,” Seijuro’s cool voice greeted them.

“Seijuro,” Mac smiled at her friend, “sorry we’re late.”

“Well, you’re here now,” Seijuro said and Mac noticed the considering look he gave Daiki. “Get changed and meet us on the court.”

“Yes, sir!” Mac smirked and Seijuro rolled his eyes at her.

 

“I have to focus on finishing the analyses today as well;” Mac said, “Sanada-sensei asked for it.”

Seijuro nodded and Mac looked at him for a moment, he looked tired and dejected. She frowned and knew it was likely the team that brought him down as well.

“You okay, Seijuro?” Mac asked.

He glanced at her for a moment before he sighed, “I’m not sure.”

She frowned, it was…unexpected to get that much of an admission from him. She knew he was more likely to brush it off, so for him to admit he wasn’t sure was a pretty good indicator that he wasn’t okay.

“Want to talk about it?” she asked knowing she would push back her meeting with Newt and Tina if Seijuro need her.

He was silent for a while and Mac knew he was deliberating whether or not to accept the offer, she knew better than to press him. Finally he let out a sigh and shook his head.

“Not today,” he said, “I have a meeting after practice.”

A muscle in Mac’s jaw tightened but she just nodded and gave him a smile, “just let me know and I’ll listen.”

“…thank you, Mac,” Seijuro said quietly.

Mac smiled in understanding, and turned her attention to the court and the practice going on knowing he wouldn’t want her to keep looking at him.

 

“You ok, Tetsu?” Mac asked the shadow who was quiet but seemed determined.

“I’m fine, Mac-san,” Tetsuya smiled slightly, “I see Aomine-kun came today.”

“Yeah, I have no idea why though,” Mac shrugged, “but he’s here.”

Tetsuya nodded, “that’s good.”

Mac looked at him and saw the way he smiled and looked pleased, she had to smile at his ability to see the positive in most situations. She had seen Daiki glance at Tetsuya with a torn look, like he wanted to go over to him and apologize but he kept back. She wondered if Tetsuya had noticed, or if he wanted to talk to Daiki at all.

“Perhaps he’ll show up from now on,” Tetsuya said.

Mac gave a sad smile, “I doubt it. He’ll come when he feels like it.”

She heard the sigh coming from Tetsuya and felt guilty, but she didn’t want him to get his hopes up to much. It would only hurt him in the end.

“I see,” Tetsuya said.

“Have you heard anything from your childhood friend lately?” Mac asked changing the subject away from Daiki for the time being. “The one at Meiko, was it?”

Tetsuya looked a little surprised, but if it was because of the sudden change in subject or the fact that she remembered his childhood friend she couldn’t tell.

“We text a little,” Tetsuya said, “he’s doing well with basketball and they’re getting stronger.”

Mac smiled and looked at him.

“Good.” She said. “I hope we get to play them next year at the Nationals. It’ll be interesting.”

Tetsuya smiled and nodded, “yeah.”

It was hard to get more out of him, but Mac wasn’t someone who had to fill every silence with chitchat so she enjoyed just sitting with him in silence as well. Just then Ryota and Atsushi came and joined them, Atsushi grabbing a bag of chips making Mac roll her eyes at him and forced herself to not say anything.

“Mac, you won’t play today?” Ryota asked looking at her like a puppy. “I wanted to play against you today.”

He grinned.

“Not today,” Mac said, “I have to finish this for the coach.”

“Hm,” Atsushi said, “I don’t see the point.”

Mac tensed but refused to start an argument with him, he was stubborn and she didn’t have the energy to argue with him. She saw Tetsuya narrow his eyes as he looked at the tall centre. She gently touched Tetsuya and shook her head at him making him frown deeper before he nodded and looked away from her.

 

“I need to go,” Mac said at the end of the practice, she noticed that Nao had started to become restless and made more sounds. He had been in her bag for too long, even with the extra room she had made him. She really had to find another solution for him, this wasn’t going to work.

“We’ll meet again tomorrow,” Seijuro said and Mac nodded when she caught the look he gave her. She knew he meant that he wanted to talk tomorrow so she made note to keep her time free for him then.

Daiki came and joined her and they started to walk out when Sanada came out of the office. Mac frowned when he froze at the sight of Daiki; he opened and closed his mouth before pushing up his glasses and arranging his face in his normally strict mask. Mac glanced over at Daiki who was not looking at the coach but was looking at the door like he would like to escape. What had happened?

“Potter-san,” Sanada called and Mac arched a brow feeling on edge because she felt something had happened between him and her best friend.

“Yes, coach?” Mac responded politely hiding the tension she felt.

“Do you have your rapport?” he asked.

“Yes,” Mac said and held out the notebook she had just finished writing the latest developments of her teammates in.

“Thank you,” he said and with a last glance at Daiki who was still ignoring him he turned around and left.

Mac frowned before noticing Daiki having started to walk away and she hurried to catch up to him. She bit her lip as she saw the closed off expression on Daiki’s face, a feeling of worry and fear settled in her gut and she wanted to ask him about it but something held her back. Why couldn’t she just ask him?

“Do you want to come and meet Newt and Tina?” Mac asked without really planning it, the words just left her mouth without her permission but the way his navy blue eyes lit up made her smile and feel better about asking.

“You want me to meet them?” Daiki asked.

“Of course,” Mac said and Daiki grinned.

“Then yes!” He said looking excited and Mac chuckled amused. This was a part of her friend she had missed, the part that got excited like a little kid on Christmas.

 

“Mackenzie,” Tina smiled warmly when she spotted Mac and Daiki coming walking up to the edge of the forest like she had the day before. Mac noticed how she glanced at Daiki with a curious look in her warm brown eyes. “Oh, who’s this handsome young man?”

Mac glanced at Daiki and saw him blush slightly, she knew he understood what Tina had said. She had helped him with the language and he rather good in it, but he still struggled a little. She knew that with a little effort on both sides they would be able to talk to each other without her needing to translate.

“This is my best friend Aomine Daiki,” Mac introduced just as Newt appeared from the woods with a wave and a smile. “I’m living with him and his family right now. Daiki, this is Tina and her husband Newt Scamander.”

“Nice to meet you, Aomine-san,” Tina smiled. “Mackenzie has told us about you.”

“Nice to meet you, lad,” Newt waved and looked at Mac who had Nao in her arms curled up and resting his head on her shoulder.

“Nice to meet you too, Scamander-san,” Daiki said politely if a little awkwardly.

Newt smiled at him as he looked him over, he was taller than most 14 year olds and had the strangest coloured hair. He was tempted to believe he had dyed it, but knew that some had naturally blue or even green hair. He hadn’t seen anyone with it, though, so it was fascinating to see. He also noticed how he glanced at Mac who was oblivious to the looks as she tried to calm a growling fox.

“Um, I hope it’s alright I brought Daiki with me,” Mac said.

“Of course,” Tina said welcomingly, “we love getting the chance to meet your friend.”

Mac smiled and looked a little relieved.

“Did you go to your magic lesson today?” Newt asked curiously.

“No, Sato-sensei had a guest lecture at Mahoutokoro today,” Mac shrugged, “and tomorrow so I only have self-study today and tomorrow.”

“I see,” Newt said. “And how is the little cub?”

“Clingy,” Mac said and glanced down at the cub in her arms. “I can’t get him to leave me.”

“Hm, I see,” Newt said with a thoughtful frown. “I suppose it’s because he’s still a cub and had a traumatic past. He needs stability and security, and he has decided that you’re his.”

“Yeah, but it’s a little troublesome when I have school,” Mac said frowning.

Newt nodded with a thoughtful look on his face, but he didn’t offer a solution right away. Mac sighed and stroked Nao absentmindedly over the back.

“Let’s get inside,” Tina said interrupting.

Mac grinned and turned to Daiki who was watching in silence.

“Just wait until you see the suitcase, Daiki!” Mac said, “you won’t believe it! It’s bigger on the inside and it’s like a whole new world inside it with a lot of fascinating animals! Do you remember the book I showed you?”

Daiki’s eyes were wider and he looked a little disbelieving.

“You’re joking,” he said.

“I’m not,” Mac said.

“Kenzie, you got the look in your eyes that says you’re up to something,” Daiki gave her a look.

Mac pouted, “do not.”

“Do to,” Daiki said rolling his eyes.

Neither noticed the amused looks they got from the Scamander’s or the pensive look Tina had in her eyes as she watched them bicker with a familiarity and ease that showed that they had done so many times before.

 

Daiki blinked and blinked again as he looked around the suitcase that was indeed bigger on the inside just like Mac had said. He had been very sceptical before trying to enter the case, but he had because he did trust Mac. He just knew she did enjoy pranking him from time to time, so he did hesitate to take her completely at her word right away.

“I told you so,” Mac said in a teasing voice he hadn’t really heard in a long time and he couldn’t help the smile that stretched on his lips.

“So you did,” he said.

Newt smiled, he loved showing others his suitcase. Especially when they showed so much awe and he couldn’t help but remember another muggle seeing the inside of his suitcase for the first time so many years ago. A sudden wave of grief hit him as he missed Jacob. He’s best friend and brother-in-law who had passed away only a few years ago.

“Come, I’ll show you around, “Newt said to break himself out of his thoughts.

Daiki smiled and nodded.

Mac followed them and let Daiki and Newt talk as they walked through the suitcase once more, she didn’t want to let Daiki go alone. Not that she didn’t trust Newt, but she just wanted to be there in case something happened. Daiki hadn’t really been exposed to magic that much since learning about it.

 

“What did you call him?” Tina asked when they were back and sat around the table. She glanced at the cub in Mac’s lap.

“Nao,” Mac smiled.

“A good name,” Newt nodded. “Does it have a meaning?”

“It means honest,” Mac said looking down at Nao, “I…I really hate lies and being lied to. I have been lied to far too much in my life and I wanted to give him a name that showed the values I hold high and he has honest eyes.”

Newt looked at her with a unreadable look in his eyes for a moment before he nodded with a small smile.

“I see,” was all he said.

“You said he was a Kitsune or at least part?” Mac said looking away from Nao and over at Newt.

“Yes, he is,” Newt nodded, “it means he’s highly intelligent and it will develop as he grows older. He will also show magical powers, often connected to the elements like fire. I think I mentioned that it’s not completely like in folklore, but he does have more tails and I’m sure he’ll show you when he trusts you completely.”

Mac nodded and listened intently as he spoke more about what to expect and how to take care of him, she pulled out her sketchpad and started to make notes so she wouldn’t forget anything. Daiki was silent beside her as he listened as well, he hadn’t lost the awed and stunned look on his face.

“He will as he grows be able to shift form,” Newt said and Mac blinked.

“How?” She asked.

“He might be able to change his size,” Newt explained. “When in danger he can make himself bigger or he can remain in his smaller form.”

“You mean like a cub?” Daiki asked.

“Yes and no,” Newt said, “he might also make himself looking like a cub or as a regular adult fox. It depends on how powerful he is, though.”

Mac nodded feeling stunned at the ability of her little fox, he had fallen asleep in her lap now and looked so peaceful.

“When will he be able to do this?” Mac asked.

“Not until he’s reached adulthood and probably not in a few years after that either,” Newt said. “It’s not well researched because Kitsune’s are rare and we don’t have that much information about them. So, he might not be able to do so. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

Mac nodded again, she knew that she wouldn’t care if he was able to change size or not. He would still be special to her. Newt smiled as he saw the look of adoration on Mac’s face, he felt something settled inside of him as he watched her. She would be able to care for the fox cub, no Nao he corrected himself, well.

“No, about your problem with leaving him when you have school…” Newt said and Mac looked up at him. “I could help change your bag and make another room in it, like this suitcase. That way he can be in your bag during class comfortably.”

Mac felt her eyes widen and nodded, “you can really do that?”

“Yes,” Newt smiled. “I can.”

“Thank you!” Mac said.

 

The afternoon went on and Mac watched as Newt worked on her bag and talked with Tina at the same time, Daiki joined them and Mac was pleased to see Tina make an effort to include him in the conversation.

“Can you tell me about my grandparents?” Mac asked and Tina looked at her.

“Well, Newt will be best to tell you about them,” Tina said, “I met them a few times but Newt was the one who knew them best.”

Newt looked up from his work and smiled at Mac, “he would be very proud of you, Mackenzie. He was very loyal to his friends and a little whimsical. He was sorted into Gryffindor at Hogwarts, and met your grandmother at school. It said that your father followed in his dad’s footsteps and chased after one girl from the first year at school. Like Euphemia, Lily didn’t accept your dad’s attention until they were at the end of the sixth year.”

Mac smiled a little feeling warmth in her chest learning more about her family.

“Fleamont was very much in love with his wife and they dreamed of having many children,” Newt continued, “but unfortunately they were only able to have James. They had given up hope on ever having children when James came along. I remember the joy and pure happiness in both of them when they revealed they were going to have a baby. I’m afraid that since they were old and he was a miracle they spoiled him some.”

“He really was spoiled, but he had a good heart,” Tina agreed softly. “They really adored him.”

“How…how did they die?” Mac asked quietly and saw the sad smiles on their faces. Daiki reached out and took Mac’s hand in his and squeezed it, she glanced at him and squeezed his hand back accepting the comfort from him.

“They both died shortly after James married Lily,” Newt said, “they got Dragonpox and since they were old they didn’t manage to beat it, I’m afraid. James said they were happy, though. They got to see him get married and settled down before they died. He took comfort in the knowledge that they were happy and pleased with his choice in wife.”

Mac smiled as she swallowed thickly at the emotion welling up in her. She loved hearing more about her family, but at the same time it proved what she had lost. She should have had a chance to have a family of her own, someone who would be proud and love her. She glanced at Daiki and relaxed slightly, she had him. Even with everything he was going through and struggling with, he was still there.

 

By the time they had to go Newt had finished his magic on her bag and Nao would now have a comfortable and safe place to stay while she was at school. She grinned as she saw it and knew that while she couldn’t step into her bag, Nao could and that was enough. Newt also gave her a book that explained how to do it, and she would learn when she got a little further in her magic training.

“I am sorry to say that we’re leaving tomorrow,” Tina said and Mac blinked. She hadn’t expected that, but she should have. Her shoulders slumped slightly but she gave a brave smile.

“Oh, right,” she said.

“We have really enjoyed getting to know you, Mackenzie,” Newt said fondly, “you really are your parents daughter.”

Mac smiled slightly and hesitated for a moment before pulling her sketchpad out of her bag and opened it. She was aware of the eyes watching her but she ignored them in favour of ripping the last page out and handing it over to Tina who was the closest one.

“Here,” Mac said shyly. “I…I drew it yesterday. I want you to have it. It’s not much, but I want to thank you for everything.”

Tina looked down at the page and gasped softly at the image looking up at her, she heard Newt also make a sound of appreciation next to her as he also took in the skilful drawing of her and Newt sitting at the table talking with the Demiguise sitting on the ground in front of them. Mac had managed to capture the soul of the Demiguise, Tina thought, she could practically see the magic flowing out of her. Also the way she had drawn her and Newt… it was perfect.

“Wow,” Tina said when she finally found her voice again. “This is…it’s beautiful, Mackenzie. I don’t know what to say.”

“It’s perfect,” Newt smiled, “thank you.”

Mac blushed and smiled shyly while Daiki grinned, he knew just how good her drawings were.

Chapter Text

2nd year – Teiko

 

“Come with me,” Mac more or less ordered making Seijuro arch a brow at her. She just turned around and walked out of the gym knowing he would follow, and ignored the looks she got from the others on the team that had showed up from practice that day.

They walked in silence until they reached a park not far from the school, it was a park she and Daiki had been at often at the beginning of their first year when it was only the two of them and he still loved basketball. She saw that a few older teens had already arrived and smiled.

“Mac?” Seijuro asked looking confused and Mac almost smiled.

“I thought we could play a little street ball with them,” Mac said, “it’s been a while since I’ve got to play like that and Daiki won’t anymore.”

Seijuro blinked and looked at the court behind her, he saw the older boys who were looking at them with arched brows but a few were smiling a little. He wasn’t sure why. He would guess they would be high school students at least, if not even university students.

“You want us to play them?” Seijuro asked.

Mac nodded, “it’s been a while since playing has been fun. I thought you might like to play just for fun as well. Forget about how powerful everyone is becoming, forget about playing only for victory and making the school seem good. Just…let go and have fun.”

Seijuro looked at her for a moment with a unreadable look on his face before he smiled and nodded, something seemed to lessen and his shoulders relaxed slightly.

“Alright,” he said making Mac smile wider at him and turn to walk toward the group of older teens with Seijuro following after her.

“Potter-san,” one of the boys greeted her with an easy smile, “it’s been a while since you’ve been here. Where’s Aomine-san? And who’s your friend?”

Seijuro glanced at her when he mentioned Daiki and while he was sure no one else noticed he saw the tightening of jaw as she smiled at the boy.

“I know,” Mac said, “things have been busy so I haven’t had a chance to come as often anymore. And, Daiki, is busy. But I brought another friend today, he loves basketball as well. Akashi Seijuro, he’s on my team at school.”

Mac glanced at Seijuro and smiled a little, “Seijuro, this is Nakatani Akio.”

“Nice to meet you, Akashi-san,” Nakatani Akio smiled easily and Seijuro nodded politely. “Let me introduce the others to you.”

Mac sat down at the bench and gently opened her bag making sure that everyone was paying attention elsewhere. She smiled when she spotted Nao resting and blinking blearily up at her, she was very pleased with the magical changes Newt had done to her bag. Nao was much happier with it and he had room to run around while she was in class. She closed the bag again and smiled a little, she did feel a little strange being here without Daiki. It felt different and like she was losing something, but she really wanted to find some joy in basketball again and thought that Seijuro would need to as well.

She looked up and saw Seijuro greet the last one and look toward her making her smile a little again, he was looking more relaxed but at the same time wary. He was hiding it well, though, and she was sure the others only saw a cold looking teen.

“Potter-san,” Ikeda Juro grinned down at her, “I was starting to think you’ve forgotten all about us.”

Mac chuckled and shook her head, “nah, just been busy.”

The older teen was four year older than her, so 17 and already in his second year at High School. His blond hair was reaching his shoulders and he normally fasten it in a ponytail with a rubber band when he played so it wouldn’t get in the way. His grey eyes was sharp and was looking at her with a pensive look.

The others came to greet her as well, she felt a little uncomfortable with the attention but she knew they didn’t mean her any harm. She had met them with Daiki and had used time to get used to the way they acted and therefor was more comfortable with seeking them out to find the joy in playing basketball again.

Kawaguchi Ryuu was a serious type who barely smiled and looked more comfortable with a frown on his face than a smile, but Mac knew he was a good guy and had a soft side as well. His grey hair was short and blue eyes serious. He did give a small smile when she met his eyes though.

Kimura Hayate was a cross between Ikeda and Kawaguchi, not as serious but not as cheerful either. He smiled at her and gave her a wave, his sandy blond hair had gotten a little longer since the last time she saw him and he had pale blue eyes, in contrast to Daiki’s navy blue.

Then of course there was Nakatani Akio, he was easy going and seemed to always be smiling. He was the one Mac got along with the best, and she knew he was also in his second year at High School. He had short dark hair and brown eyes that reminded her of chocolate.

Seijuro came up to her and she grinned at him, “ready to play?”

“Yes,” Seijuro said.

“Alright,” Nakatani Akio said, “I’ll join you and we’ll play the other three, ok?”

Mac nodded and dodged his hand when he reached out to ruffle her hair, he grinned at her and she scowled.

“Stop it,” she said but there was no real heat in her voice.

“Sure, sure,” he said easily.

 

Seijuro wasn’t sure what to think as he played with Mac by his side, Nakatani was easy to play with and caught his passes and had a nice shot. He had not been expected Mac to drag him with her to a street basketball court after practice. It was – different from what he expected, too. It was fun and easy, like breathing and no expectations. He passed the ball to Mac who with a elegant twist was on the other side of Kawaguchi who had been guarding her before shooting and scoring another hoop.

Nakatani high-fived Mac, and Seijuro smiled when Mac bumped his shoulder with her own happiness in her eyes and he realised that he hadn’t seen that look in her eyes in what felt like forever. He made a note to make sure she wouldn’t lose herself to the pain of their team breaking apart; they had to find some way to bind them together. He would do anything to keep a smile on her face, he promised himself.

Passing and setting up his teammates seemed easier and like breathing now as he played, he heard the banter and teasing between the others and the complete lack of…resentment and bitterness. It was refreshing, Seijuro thought as he stole the ball from Kimura and passed to Nakatani who again passed to Mac before getting the ball back.

 

“You’re good as well,” Ikeda commented when they had finished, and while Seijuro and his team had won it wasn’t made a point of it. “Potter-san has talented friends.”

Mac rolled her eyes and sat down next to Seijuro, before speaking up, “of course I do.”

Nakatani smiled and looked between them, but he didn’t say anything. Seijuro frowned wondering what he was thinking. The others were also looking at them with considering looks and Ikeda had a teasing look in his grey eyes.

“Are you dating?” he asked.

Mac choked and Seijuro arched a brow at the older teen who was grinning now.

“No!” both Seijuro and Mac said at the same time which of course got some raised brows and Seijuro glanced at Mac who was looking at them blankly now.

“We’re not,” Mac said steadily, “he’s one of my best friends.”

Seijuro felt warmth fill his chest at being so easily claimed as best friend, he knew Daiki was her best friend but to be considered as one of her best friend was enough to make him feel accepted and warm. She was his best friend, without question and it was both scary and warming at the same time. Scary because being dependent on someone, to think of someone like that was a weakness and his father was always going on about how friendship would only bring him down. Warming because having someone like that was making everything in his life seem better.

“Okay,” Nakatani said interrupting Ikeda who was about to say something again, no doubt to continue teasing them. Seijuro was glad the other teen interrupted before he lost his own temper and said something stupid. “That’s enough, Juro.”

“Fine,” Ikeda said crossing his arms but his eyes showed his earlier merriment.

Nakatani shook his head before turning to Mac and Seijuro again, “you’re both playing at Teiko, right?”

Mac nodded, “yeah.”

“Oh, the Generation of Miracles,” Kimura murmured and Mac tensed on the bench next to Seijuro who felt his own shoulders tense at the mention of the moniker other schools and even their own had been giving them lately.

“We’ve even heard of you at High School.” Kawaguchi said a serious look in his eyes, “it must be hard.”

Mac glanced at him before looking away, she wasn’t about to say anything about it and she knew that Seijuro felt the same way. It was hard, but they wouldn’t talk about their team or the problems within their team with anyone else. It was none of the business.

“Well,” Nakatani said breaking the silence that fell over them, “you’re welcome to come and join us here whenever you want. It was fun playing with you both.”

Both Mac and Seijuro nodded and watched as the teens left leaving them alone on the bench watching the court as the sky was starting to get darker.

 

Seijuro blinked when Mac reached for her bag and opened it, he was about to say something but nothing came out when he saw the fox being lifted out of her bag. He blinked again and only closed his mouth when he noticed the amused look she shot him.

“What…” he started making the little fox cub growl at him and Seijuro felt like backing up but kept quiet as Mac started to pet the fox in gentle manner to calm him. He wanted to tell her it wasn’t safe, but it was clear she knew what she was doing.

“His name is Nao,” Mac said, “I just got him.”

“You got him?” Seijuro repeated.

“He’s mine now,” Mac nodded, “a friend of mine saved him after his family was killed by humans. So he is a little wary of humans, but he somehow decided I was okay and refused to let me go without him.”

Seijuro looked at the f…no, Nao, and saw the way he burrowed into her hold and had stopped growling. His reddish brown fur was only broken by the white mark on his forehead. He looked to still be quite young.

“Did you keep him in your bag?” Seijuro asked.

“Um, yeah,” Mac said looking down at Nao, “he refuses to be left at home without me and I have to go to school, so…”

She shrugged and Seijuro stared at her for a moment before shaking his head and look at Nao again not saying anything but wondering how that worked.

“Anyway,” Mac said breaking the silence, “are you okay?”

Seijuro glanced up at her again to find her looking at him with a worried look, the knowledge that she saw him as one of her best friends and had taken the time to spend the afternoon with him made up his mind. He sighed and looked out over the court, with the two hoops on each side and the worn chalk marks on the ground.

“I’m worried,” he admitted quietly not looking at her but knowing she was watching him. “I’m scared.”

Mac arched a brow at that admittance and gently placed Nao down so he could run around freely for a little while, but her eyes was on Seijuro who was looking lost and pained and…vulnerable.

“What are you scared of?” Mac asked when he didn’t say anything else. She kept her voice calm and soothing, and he glanced at her for a moment before looking back over the court.

“Myself,” he whispered. “Sometimes…I feel like I’m losing myself to…something. It’s like I’m different and I don’t know how to stop it.”

Mac knew what he talked about, she had seen the change and knew it was a legitimate concern. She was also lost on how to answer him and reassure him that everything was going to be ok. To know that he was aware and worried… it made her heart break for her friend.

“Oh, Seijuro,” she sighed, “I wish I could fix it.”

He glanced at her and saw the sincere wish in her eyes and nodded, “I know. I’m not telling you because I expect you to be able to fix it. I just… I don’t know.” He frowned frustrated, he hated feeling helpless and lost.

“Is it because of the team?” Mac asked.

“Mostly,” he sighed, “I feel like I’m losing control over them. We’re winning, but at the same time we’re losing. They’ll leave us behind.”

Mac inhaled and closed her eyes briefly and couldn’t really argue with what he was saying, he was right. She felt it too, the feeling of being left behind and the gap between them all widening. Just how could they fix it?

“I know,” she whispered ,”but, Seijuro, we also have each other. Tetsu is also feeling the loss of the team, and he’s doing his best in fighting for us all. We all have to keep fighting for us. We’re a team even when we’re falling apart.”

Seijuro looked at her for a moment before he nodded. He would try to keep her words in mind but he could feel it happening as they spoke, his grip of who he was was slipping. He would try to keep holding on for the first person who had ever claimed to be his best friend and who needed him. He was going to try.

 

Sato’s house

 

Mac shifted nervously on her feet as Sato stared at Nao in her arms, she was barely aware of Daisuke and Sachi gaping behind their father and Kaori blinking stunned next to her children as she waited for her professor to say something.

“You’ve got a fox.”

It was a statement and not a question but Mac felt the need to nod anyway. Sato shook his head a little but he smiled slightly.

“I see,” he said. “And how did you come across the fox? Is he magical?”

Mac glanced down at Nao who was growling softly as he eyed the others with wary brown eyes, she looked back up and explained meeting Newt and Tina Scamander and how she had met Nao. She explained what she knew of Kitsune’s and that Nao was one before telling them about the changes Newt had made to her bag.

“You met Newt Scamander?” Daisuke asked breaking the silence first his eyes were wide and he looked at her incredulously.

“Um, yeah,” Mac nodded.

“I’m so jealous!” he sighed before he smiled, “I love magical creatures and it was my favourite class. I really enjoy his book about magical creatures, and would have loved the chance to talk to him about it.”

Mac blinked before smiling slightly, “oh.”

“He won’t tell anyone you’re here?” Sato asked a thoughtful look in his eyes. “You know he’s a close friend of Albus Dumbledore.”

Mac nodded, “yeah, I know. He promised that he wouldn’t tell anyone, and said he understood why I wanted to stay.”

“Hm,” Sato frowned, “I guess we just have to trust that he means that.”

Mac looked a little worried but she nodded.

 

“Flipendo!”

Mac cast and the training dummy was knocked back several meters and she breathed out as she had been practicing the jinx for the last fifteen minutes.

“Enough,” Sato spoke up and she straightened and looked at him where he was seated behind his desk. “Good work. You have good power behind you jinxes and I believe you might be ready to try harder level curses and jinxes soon. It’s important to build the foundation, though, so the higher level jinxes will work better and easier. This jinx is also known as the Knockback Jinx, and has two more levels of power. The more powerful version of the Flipendo is Flipendo Duo and then Flipendo Tria. I want you to practice this for the next fifteen minutes, but first: what could defend against this jinx?”

“The shield charm,” Mac said instantly, “it will rebound the jinx to its caster, or you have to dodge it.”

Sato nodded, “and how does the knockback jinx feel to the one being hit with it?”

Mac took a moment to think before she answered, “well, like a blow to your chest and you’re being knocked back with a loud bang.”

“Good,” Sato said. “Now, let’s practice the level two and three.”

Mac nodded and focused on the training dummy.

“Flipendo Duo!”

The red light shot out of her wand and knocked into the dummy making the dummy flew even farther back than before. The dummy came forward again and Mac cast the jinx again forcing it back. She repeated this several more times until Sato told her to change to the next level.

Mac inhaled and nodded and watched as Sato conjured more training dummies making her eye them warily. She was starting to feel tired, but she kept focused on the situation in front of her.

“Flipendo Tria!”

As soon as the jinx left her lips the blue light shot out of her wand and unlike the straight line of the other two jinxes it formed a sort of tornado and moved forward faster and faster knocking the dummies back even further and only Sato’s shields hindered them from knocking into the bookcases and causing them to fall to the ground.

“Good,” Sato said but Mac noticed that he looked a little surprised as he stared at the dummies. “You’ve got real power to your spells.”

Mac smiled pleased.

 

“So, have you done your homework in Charms?” Sato asked after a lunch break and watched bemused as Nao refused to be let down from Mac’s lap.

“Yes, sir,” Mac nodded.

“Ok, so what makes charms different from transfigurations?” Sato asked.

Mac tried to remember what she had read in her Standard book of spells, grade 1 and repeat it to her professor.

“In transfiguration you will change an object into something completely different,” Mac started, “but with charms you add certain properties to an object or creature. It focuses on altering what the object does and not what it is.”

“Very good,” Sato said, and continued to give her more theory of charms and how they worked. She worked to write down list of the different charms and what they did.

At the end of the lesson she was asked to perform a cheering charm and did so nervously on Daisuke who had said himself willing to be her test subject. Mac couldn’t help but feel nervous about it, but Daisuke just smiled and reassured her that it would be ok.

 

“Good work today, Mac-san,” Sato said when the lessons were finished for the day. “I am glad to see that you’re not so distracted anymore.”

Mac nodded but didn’t say anything, she knew she had been distracted the last few weeks and it had been affecting her magic lessons. She had been grateful that they hadn’t commented on it and not pressed her about the reason why.

“Well, you should get going and start your day over again,” Sato said in a clear dismissal making Mac nod before turning and leaving the study.

 

Teiko

 

“Are you ok?” Daiki asked giving Mac a concerned look.

“Fine, just tired,” Mac yawned and gave her best friend a tired smile, “busy day.”

Daiki nodded knowing what she meant, he gave her one more concerned look before turning back to the lesson still going on. Daiki knew she was going to magic lessons as well and was a little worried that she was doing to much, but knew better than to say something about it. She would just shake it off and insist she was fine.

“Hi Mac-cchi, Aomine-cchi!” Ryota grinned when they ran into him in the hallway outside of their classroom. “Come eat lunch with me!”

Mac exchanged a look with Daiki before nodded in agreement and followed the excitable blond toward the cafeteria.

“I have a photo shoot later today,” Ryota said looking at them with a wide grin. “I barely have time for practice after school today.”

Mac knew Ryota had been hand picked by a photo magazine to be a model and she had to admit that he had the looks to be a model, but she wasn’t sure she liked how arrogant he became talking about it. Or…the fangirls he got.

And talking about fangirls… Mac winced at the loud squeals that sounded as soon as they spotted Ryota in the cafeteria. She hide her scowl as she sat down next to Daiki on the regular table. Ryota hadn’t sat down yet being surrounded by a group of girls.

Mac frowned and looked down when she saw the way Daiki was watching the girls that surrounded Ryota, she wasn’t sure why she felt a heavy lump in her stomach at the sight and why did her chest feel so heavy?

“Hello,” a quiet voice sounded making both Mac and Daiki jump and Mac looked up and saw Tetsuya sitting next to her already eating.

“You scared me, Tetsu!” Daiki exclaimed holding a hand to his heart.

“Sorry,” Tetsuya deadpanned.

Mac frowned a little, “did we just ignore you when we sat down?”

Tetsuya’s blank look was answer enough and Mac sighed feeling bad.

“I’m sorry, Tetsu,” Mac said. “I didn’t mean to ignore you.”

“It’s alright,” Tetsuya said. “Are you okay, Mac?”

“I’m fine,” Mac smiled at him, “I’m just tired.”

Tetsuya looked at her for a moment longer before nodding and accepting her explanation. Soon also Shintaro and Seijuro came and joined them before Atsushi came with a snack covered tray. Mac gave Seijuro a look and he gave her a smile making her smile back, neither noticed the dark look Daiki sent them.

“Finally,” Ryota sighed as he sat down but he was grinning.

Shintaro pushed his glasses back and gave the blond a cold look before he turned back to his food. Mac just shook her head and focused on her food. It felt a little awkward and the silence between them was…stifling.

 

“Midorima,” Mac said calling the attention from the stoic green haired player who turned to look at her. “Could you help me with something?”

He stared at her for a moment before pushing his glasses further up his nose. Mac waited for him to talk.

“Help you with what?” he asked.

“My math homework,” Mac frowned, “I can’t understand it and I’ve been so tired lately that I can’t find the extra energy to sit down and really study it. Could you help explain it to me?”

Shintaro looked at her for a moment longer before he nodded, “Ok, not that I care if you get it right or not.”

Mac felt her lips twitch and nodded.

“Thank you,” she said and he nodded again before turning around and walked toward his classroom for the next class.

Mac let out a soft sigh, she hated asking for help but she really was too tired to try to understand her latest math homework on her own and Shintaro was the only one she could think of to ask for help. Well, besides Seijuro but he had enough on his plate with basketball and his father, so Mac decided to not ask him.

Daiki stepped up next to her and gave her a look before they started to walk to their next class that was English literature.

 

“I don’t want to practice,” Atsushi said efficiently silencing the gym where the team was about to prepare for practice. Mac stilled where she was warming up and looked at the tall centre who was looking bored and mulish. “If we don’t have to practice as long as we win, then I don’t want to practice.”

Mac frowned at his wording and wondering what he meant. If they don’t have to practice as long as they win?

“Don’t be stupid,” Seijuro snapped and Mac glanced at him with a worried look in her eyes. “He’ll never allow it!”

Mac felt like she was missing something now and she really wanted to know what it was, but she didn’t really have time to think about it as the confrontation between Seijuro and Atsushi was still going on. She had a really bad feeling about this and she bit down at her lower lip as she watched the two teammates.

“Why? I won’t lose,” Atsushi whined before his voice changed slightly and he levelled a hard look on Seijuro. “Besides, I’ve only listened to you because I thought I couldn’t beat you. But lately, I think that might not be the case anymore.”

Mac inhaled sharply as the words, the challenge, registered in her mind. She knew that Seijuro wouldn’t let that go and he would respond. The bad feeling flared up and she withheld a sob as she fisted her hands wishing she could intervene somehow, but how? A look at the frown and glare at Seijuro’s face told her that interrupting would be a bad choice and he wouldn’t listen to her or anyone else now.

“Shit,” she muttered drawing the attention from Shintaro who arched a brow at her but she didn’t look away from Seijuro or Atsushi.

“I don’t want to listen to someone weaker than me,” Atsushi said and you could have heard a needle drop in the gym as everyone was now holding their breath.

 

Mac stood helplessly at the side of the court and watched as Seijuro and Atsushi was playing one on one, a lot stood to lose at this match and Mac feared it was more than just Atsushi’s attendance during practices. Tetsuya was standing silently next to her with a concerned look in his teal blue eyes, while Shintaro was on her other side not showing what he felt on his face but she knew he would be just as worried as the other two was.

“What?” Shintaro gasped when Atsushi blocked a shot from Seijuro and Mac swallowed thickly as she watched Seijuro on the ground of the gym breathing heavily with Atsushi towering over him.

“To think the game would be so one-sided,” Ryota commented somewhere beside her but she didn’t pay attention knowing that with Atsushi only one point from the victory would push Seijuro even farther.

Why couldn’t she do anything? Mac asked herself with a bitterness she didn’t know she possessed. It was almost like seeing Daiki losing his love for basketball all over again, watching how Seijuro was struggling and she knew he was struggling. Again, did she have to watch one of her best friend lose himself because of how powerful they had grown?

She dug her nails into her palm as she fisted her hands staring at the scene. She should be able to do something! Anything! She wasn’t supposed to just having to watch this happening again!

“Honestly, I’m pretty disappointed.” Atsushi said in a cold voice making Mac flinch for Seijuro who didn’t move a muscle. “I can’t listen to you anymore.”

The lost and desperate expression on Seijuro’s face hit Mac more than she could say and a tear escaped her eyes but she quickly reached up to dry it away.

“Whatever, when I make this I’m doing what I want,” Atsushi said dribbling the ball.

 

He was going to lose? He, Akashi Seijuro, was going to lose? Impossible! No way! Something was rising inside him as he stood still in front of Atsushi, and he felt his control slip. He remembered the conversation with Mac earlier that week and knew it was happening; he was losing himself to the other. But…but if that presence could keep Mac smiling and keep the team together, wouldn’t it be worth it? He had to win, no matter who his opponent was! He had to win, it was everything! Only by winning could he keep her smiling; only winners could protect those they cared about! For her! For his best friend. He had to win.

Something snapped inside of him and it was like he could sense what was happening around him, his head snapped up just as Atsushi was moving to get past him and he saw what was going to happen and he knew he would stop it.

“Because I always win, I am always right.”

Chapter Text

2nd year – Teiko – continued from last time…

 

Mac felt shaken as she noticed how Seijuro’s eyes get an almost unearthly look and a ring around his pupils shone in bright red. The aura around him changed and Mac felt a shiver go down her spine as she watched stunned and fearful as Seijuro seemingly reacted out of nowhere and stopped Atsushi on his way forward.

“!!!”

“What?”

“…”

Everyone was staring shocked at what was happening on the court and Mac could tell that even Atsushi had noticed and was now looking as shocked at the rest of them.

“What just happened?” Ryota asked confused and fearful.

“I don’t know,” Shintaro answered without taking his eyes off the court.

“He pushed him to far,” Mac whispered. “He pushed too far!”

Her eyes studied Seijuro and she knew. Something was different, that wasn’t the normal Akashi Seijuro. She was sure. It had happened, he had lost the inner battle and this was the result. She felt her shoulders slump in defeat and she wanted to look away, but she couldn’t.

“You’re pushing your luck, Atsushi,” Seijuro spoke and everyone noticed the change to his first name. “Don’t make me so angry! I’ll never forgive those who defy me.”

Atsushi watched with fearful wide eyes as Seijuro past him making him fall back and land on his bum.

Mac was not surprised when Seijuro won, nor was she surprised when everyone was stunned silent. She inhaled sharply when she noticed that his eyes had changed, he now had heterochromatic eyes, one red and one orange.

Atsushi kicked the water bottles in frustration over having lost.

“From today on there will be a change!” Seijuro said his voice cold, but demanded to be listened to. Mac could tell that the rest of the first strings were scared and was backing up slightly as the darkening aura around their Captain was stretching out. “Everyone must be at practice at least 3 times a week. I won’t tolerate absences more than that, nor any excuses. You’ll be here and you’ll participate with the practice like before. I don’t care how good you think you are, or how lazy. You’ll do it.”

Mac stared at him for a moment before looking away. What was this? While he did allow for absences, but not as much as they wanted. She could tell it was an effort to keep them together, but by ordering them to do something and just expect them to follow and not resent him for it. She had a feeling that he did this because of her.

“You may quit,” Seijuro said making Mac look at him again, “I won’t stop you. If you stay, then you accept how things are.”

 

Seijuro was standing by the door when Mac exited the locker room she normally used to change and found him waiting for her. She hid her sigh as she had hoped he would have left by the time she came out. She felt like a coward but she needed to think about all this and she wasn’t sure how to react to this new Seijuro. Was he still her Seijuro or was he completely gone? Pain hit her heart at the thought of her best friend being lost completely.

“Mac,” Seijuro greeted and she saw a spark of the old one in his eyes. “Are you avoiding me?”

She arched a brow at him, “perhaps.”

He frowned and she swallowed trying to keep calm. He looked away from her and sighed.

“I will keep the team together.”

Mac blinked before frowning slightly. “How?”

“No one will disobey me,” Seijuro said surly, “I will tell them to come to practice and we’ll be together.”

Mac studied him for a moment and could see that he really meant it; she wasn’t sure what to say to that though. In a way she understood him, and she wished the solution would be that simple. Yet…a small voice in her head whispered that it wasn’t the solution they were looking for.

She sighed and started to walk, he fell in step beside her and she could tell he was waiting for her to say something.

“I’m not sure that will work, Seijuro,” Mac finally said quietly.

“It will,” he said surely.

She looked at him and felt a loss; he was not the same anymore. The softness she always could detect underneath his mask was gone. A twist of pain hit her heart and she felt helpless. Again. She forced her emotions back and looked away from him.

 

Nao barked sadly nudging her chin and licked her softly making her smile sadly and hug the cub closer to her. He burrowed into her heath and made soft soothing noises like he was trying to comfort her. She sighed and closed her eyes but everytime she did the heterochromatic eyes flashed in her mind and she opened her eyes again.

Nao looked up at her with wide brown eyes looking at her worriedly making her smile a little but it didn’t reach her eyes. Her mind busy with what had happened earlier. Again, she couldn’t do anything but stand and watch as one more of her friends lost to the sudden growth in abilities. A stab of guilt hit her as she remembered all those hours she had spent researching, analysing and observing all in the hopes of making Daiki and later her friends stronger. Was this her fault? Had she made it possible for them to grow so much that they lost their joy for the game?

If all she did was ruining the sport for them then why did she even play? She couldn’t be the reason why they lost their love for the game, she just couldn’t. Should she continue to do her analyses for them, make them even stronger? For what reason should she continue to play with them? Would she even be able to keep up?

Her mind spun with dark thoughts and questions, questions she wasn’t sure she would be able to answer with a satisfying result. Why was she playing when all she did was laying the foundation for their growth and their growth was the reason they didn’t love the game anymore?

 

Daiki walked into the kitchen in search for food and wondered if Mac had come home yet, she had been late coming home lately and he worried. He glanced up at the ceiling wondering if he should stop by her room and check if she was home.

“Ah, Daiki,” Ayano said breaking her son out of his thoughts.

Daiki looked to see Ayano and Shiro coming into the kitchen and Daiki blinked when his little brother glared at him with his arms crossed over his chest. Daiki looked over at his mum and saw the almost amused look on her face but also the worry in her eyes as she looked at her son.

“Hi,” Daiki said almost questioningly again looking down at Shiro who was still glaring at him.

“Did you and Mac have a fight again, Daiki?” Ayano asked making Daiki still staring at her.

“No,” Daiki said thinking back, they didn’t fight now, did they?

“You always fight,” Shiro accused. “You always hurt Mac-nee!”

Daiki frowned at his brother, “no, I don’t!”

“You do!” Shiro said stubbornly, “she’s always sad because of you. You have to stop hurting Mac-nee! She’s meant to be smiling.”

Daiki felt angry at the accusation and at the small voice in his mind that said that Shiro was right, but he pushed it back. They were doing better now!

“You don’t know what you’re talking about, Shiro!” Daiki snapped at the little boy who glared harder.

“Enough,” Ayano interrupted the fighting between the two siblings. “If you didn’t fight, did something happen at school today?”

Daiki gave one more glare at Shiro before looking up at his mum with a confused look.

“Not that I’m aware,” he said, “why?”

“Mac was silent when she came home and barely had anything to eat,” Ayano said looking concerned. “She looked upset, but refused to talk about it. I thought you two might have had another fight.”

Daiki frowned concerned.

“I still think it’s your fault,” Shiro mumbled.

Daiki glared at him but ignored him.

 

Pausing outside of Mac’s room Daiki balanced the tray with food Ayano had helped him prepare and knocked on the door. A moment pause before a soft “come in” sounded and Daiki somehow managed to open the door and enter the room. He wasn’t even surprised to find her on the floor this time with Nao curled together in her arms or the soft growling that sounded when the fox spotted him.

“I thought you might be hungry,” Daiki said awkwardly, “I was about to eat and mum said you hadn’t eaten. You have to eat something, Kenzie.”

Mac blinked at him and then looked at the tray before she smiled a little, “you made it?”

“I can make some food, you know!” Daiki huffed but smiled when she chuckled and some of the shadows that had been in her eyes lifted. She leaned back a little and he put the tray down on the floor before sitting down himself making sure he wasn’t to close given the new guard dog, or fox, she had.

“Looks good,” Mac commented and Daiki smiled surprisingly pleased by the compliment.

They ate in silence and Daiki let her decided when to start talking, he knew her well enough to know not to press her to talk. She would start talking if he waited. Or at least she always had, and he hoped that it hadn’t changed even as their relationship had changed slightly. He watched as she fed a few pieces of food to Nao who bark happily and ate from her palm making her smile softly and scratch the fox behind his ear.

“Seijuro changed today,” Mac finally spoke up making Daiki blink.

“What?” he asked.

“He changed,” Mac repeated, “and…he was playing Murasakibara one on one and he was going to lose.”

“Akashi was going to lose?” Daiki asked shocked he just couldn’t see it.

“Yes, but then… he changed,” Mac whispered. “Murasakibara pushed him to far, the whole team did. He’s not…not the same Seijuro anymore.”

Daiki frowned trying to make sense of what she was saying. He wasn’t the same Seijuro anymore? How? Looking at Mac he could see the depressed air around her and how defeated she looked, a lump formed in his stomach at the look. Did she really care so much about him? About Seijuro? A frown crossed his face as his temper flared and his fisted his hands against his thighs.

“So what?” he grunted and Mac frowned at him.

“He has ordered that everyone will be at practice at least 3 times a week,” Mac told him, “he won’t allow anyone to skip practices any more than that and he’s expected to be obeyed.”

Daiki frowned but he had to admit that he was…leery about disobeying Seijuro. Even as he knew him he would think twice about disobeying an order from him.

“He said you had to be there at least three times a week,” Mac said glancing at him. “I don’t know how he will react to be ignored.”

“Hmph,” Daiki scoffed. “Who does he think he is?”

Mac sighed and held Nao closer making him nuzzle into her throat, she wasn’t sure how to answer. Daiki was lost in his own thoughts and didn’t notice the dark look returning to her eyes again. He startled when she suddenly spoke again.

“I thought you should have a warning before meeting him,” Mac said, “so you’re aware that he’ll be different than before.”

Daiki was still confused about what she meant by different, but it was clear that she wasn’t about to say anything about it. Looking at her he spotted the look in her eyes.

“Are you ok?” he asked concerned again, even if he didn’t like it he knew she was close to Seijuro. She would take his change badly, like she took his own.

“Fine,” Mac said but then she sighed and looked at Daiki.

 

Mac couldn’t help it, when she looked at her best friend she could feel something inside of her loosen and just like so many times before she couldn’t help but to talk.

“Is it my fault, Daiki?” she whispered and she knew he had trouble hearing it but he had if the widening of eyes was any indication.

“Your fault?” he asked, “how is it your fault?”

“I have thought and thought,” Mac said not looking at him, “and while I know you all have had potential and the ability to become as strong as you have even without me…but did I make it possible too soon? Before you’re ready for it? Did I make it possible with my analyses and training menus for all of you?”

Daiki stared at her shocked, but she couldn’t help but think that she was right. She had helped them develop before they were ready.

“No way!” Daiki scowled. “Do not blame yourself for this, Kenzie! It’s not your fault!”

Mac didn’t say anything and soon Daiki left but he was worried she still believed she was to blame and he wasn’t sure how to make her see it wasn’t so.

 

Mac sat down at the free seat next to where Shintaro already was seated, one look showed that the green haired player was lost in thoughts and hadn’t noticed her joining him. She wondered what he was thinking about everything, knowing he was very observant. She made a note of the cd of classical music lying next to him on the table.

“Hello.”

Shintaro startled before blanking his face and pushing his glasses up further on his nose as he noticed Mac sitting next to him with an amused look in her green eyes, but it vanished quickly. He huffed and looked away fighting the small blush at being caught unaware.

“Hi,” he grumped.

“You looked to be lost in thoughts,” Mac commented, “sorry for startling you.”

“You didn’t startle me,” Shintaro denied making her smile slightly but otherwise didn’t correct him. “Are you ready for math?”

“As ready as I can be at this time,” Mac said.

“Well, then let’s get started;” Shintaro said and she nodded and pulled out her math books. They worked through the problems and Shintaro explained the aspects she didn’t understand. Mac followed easily and nodded along as he explained, but her mind was also slightly distracted with the happenings in their team.

Shintaro glanced over at Mac who was working on a problem looking focused but he could see the underlying worry and weariness in her eyes as well. He might not know her as well as Daiki or Seijuro, but he believed he knew her well enough to spot it when something bothered her. They did study together often enough and she was the only one on the team that he found calm enough to be around over any length of time.

It wasn’t hard to guess what was on her mind, though. Shintaro knew she must be thinking about Seijuro and how he changed the day before. Shintaro would admit, grudgingly, that he was worried about her. She was barely hanging on from Daiki’s change in attitude toward basketball and now this… he worried it might be too much for her.

Pushing the glasses up again he frowned as his mind was again led back to Seijuro and how he had changed, it was like there was two of him and that scared him more than he wanted to admit. He had seen flashes of this one before, but he had always turned back to the polite yet caring teen he had met during his first days at Teiko. Now he was…colder and had a menacing streak he wasn’t sure he ever wanted to see. He was polite still, but it was like he was balancing on the edge of something and a little push would have him lash out.

Though, he was a little surprised by the order to have everyone at practice at least three days. He had noticed how he had looked toward Mac when he said it, like he was looking for something. What was that about? Shintaro was completely lost.

“Thank you for your help, Midorima-san,” Mac spoke up breaking into his thoughts and he looked at her to see her small smile.

“Don’t mention it,” he said gruffly, “um, are you ok? I’m only asking as a teammate, of course.”

He fiddled with the cd he had picked up and missed the amused smile on Mac’s face as he did so.

“I’ll be fine, Midorima-san,” she said and he was a little surprised that she didn’t dismiss him with a ‘I’m fine’ like she normally did. “Thank you for asking. It’s hard, you know.”

Shintaro nodded swallowing as he thought about what to say. “Yes.”

“Well, I guess we just have to be there when he finds his way back.”

Shintaro blinked surprised and looked at her, she really believed that Seijuro would come back? The real one?

With a last smile Mac got up and waved bye before leaving the library and a pensive Shintaro behind.

 

“Hi Tetsu,” Mac smiled at the shadow who was sitting on his own outside of the school.

“Hi Mac,” Tetsuya smiled back before blinking, “is that a fox?”

“Yes, he’s name is Nao,” Mac said looking down at Nao in her arms, she had brought him out of her bag when practice ended and he yapped happily at the fresh air.

“Um, ok,” Tetsuya said a little unsurely and Mac could see he had more questions so she gave the cliff-notes on how she got him and Tetsuya nodded. Luckily he didn’t ask where he had been the entire day at school.

“So, how are you doing, Tetsu?” Mac asked giving her friend a closer look. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” Tetsuya said.

“Really?” Mac arched a brow. “Seijuro’s change must be a shock for you too. Are you handling it ok?”

Tetsuya looked at her for a moment before sighing and giving a sad smile, “it was a shock. He…scares me a little. I don’t really know how to handle him.”

Mac nodded and she could understand what he meant, she knew that Tetsuya would be the one who would struggle the most with handling the new Seijuro. Tetsuya was sweet and gentle, but this new part of Seijuro wouldn’t handle gentle to well. She worried a little about how they would be able to get along.

“Talk to me if it gets too hard, Tetsu,” Mac said, “you’re not alone in this.”

Tetsuya nodded and smiled at her. Nao made a sound like he agreed with his owner and Mac smiled down at him noting that he hadn’t growled at Tetsuya once since their meeting.

“Nao likes you,” Mac grinned.

“Oh?”

“He growls at everyone else,” Mac explained. “I’m glad he likes you.”

 

Two weeks later

 

The next match they had was against Shoei Middle School, an elite school as well and located in Tokyo. Mac sat between Seijuro and a sulking Daiki listening to the coach talk about the match coming up the next day.

“Potter-san,” he said and Mac straightened a little. “Please, tell us about Shoei and what to expect from them.”

“Well, they’re ranked as number four in the country so they’re good,” Mac said, “their best player is Kiyoshi Teppei a third year. Even as a third year he has decided to continue to play basketball, he loves the sport and is one of the Uncrown Kings. He would be the best Centre if not for Murasakibara, and a good Ace as well.”

Mac noticed the look Sanada threw at Daiki before he ended the meeting and she frowned in thought, which was the second time she had seen the guilty look on the coach’s face when looking at Daiki. Just what was that about?

 

“Daiki!” Mac called after her friend and caught up to him when he paused. “What’s the deal between you and the coach?”

Daiki shrugged but Mac stared at him.

“Daiki…” she arched a brow, “tell me.”

“It’s nothing,” Daiki said looking away from her but she grabbed his arm and held on so he stopped again and frowned at her. “Kenzie.”

“Daiki, something is going on between you and coach,” Mac said, “you’ve got the look in your eyes when you try to find something to say that will make me forget what I’m thinking. Coach is looking guilty everytime he sees you.”

Daiki frowned and sighed knowing he couldn’t avoid it anymore and told her about the conversation he’d had with Sanada.

“He said that I didn’t have to come to practices anymore,” Daiki said trying to sound like he didn’t care that the coach allowed him to skip practices, even he was scared of the power Daiki had. Even he didn’t think he should get stronger, so Daiki skipped.

“He what?” Mac asked incredulously.

Daiki shrugged, “I suppose even he saw the monster I was becoming.”

Mac glared at Daiki, “you’re not a monster! Stop calling yourself that, Daiki. You know, that even if he said you could skip doesn’t mean you have to.”

Daiki gave a bitter laugh, “can’t anymore now, can I? Akashi made sure of that.”

Mac frowned and wondered just how she was supposed to handle this.

“I’ll show,” Daiki said turning away from Mac making her realise she was still holding his arm and she let go blushing slightly and hoping he hadn’t noticed. “Don’t worry, Kenzie.”

Mac scowled and turned toward the gym and walked a few steps before a hand was on her shoulder and she turned to see Daiki having followed her.

“Where are you going?” he asked.

“I have to tell him what I think!” Mac growled. “Telling you…no, it’s not right!”

“Kenzie, leave it,” Daiki said almost pleaded, “don’t start anything with him because of me!”

“He…” Mac started but Daiki shook his head.

“He told me what he thought,” Daiki said, “it’s between him and me. Don’t make a big deal out of it.”

Mac felt her shoulders slump but she was still feeling angry. She calmed down slightly and her temper cooled slightly and the thought of the confrontation was now making her pale slightly, she hated confronting anyone but she would if it was for Daiki.

 

The next day and the match came bringing Mac to walk into the gym of Shoei Middle School next to Seijuro with Daiki behind her looking bored. Mac tried to ignore the look and focus on the present and look around the school. It was a smaller school than Teiko, but it looked to be a good school out of first impressions.

“Hello!” A cheerful teen greeted them with a large grin.

“Hi,” Seijuro said and the teen looked at him before looking over them all, his brown eyes paused on her before looking to Seijuro.

“I’m Kiyoshi Teppei,” Kiyoshi said still grinning, “I look forward to playing you.”

“Hm,” was all Seijuro said his face blank and walked past Kiyoshi without another word, the rest of the team followed but Mac remained behind and she saw the puzzled yet calculating look on Kiyoshi’s face as he looked after them.

“Sorry about them,” Mac said quietly and he turned toward her.

“No worries,” he grinned again. “I’ll show them what I got.”

He waved at her and ran off to where his team was standing in the black jersey’s ready for the match, she saw them immediately ask Kiyoshi something but she couldn’t tell what.

“Mac!”

“Kenzie!”

Mac turned to her team and walked over to them but didn’t say anything as they got ready for their match; she kept glancing over at the cheerful grin on Kiyoshi’s face and thought he reminded her of Daiki, of how he was before.

 

Mac passed the ball to Seijuro who easily dribbled past the defender from Shoei who looked like he was barely trying by this point, and Mac frowned. She ran to her positon and was instantly guarded by Kiyoshi who was watching her with a thoughtful look on his face but grinned when she met his eyes.

“I’ll stop you,” he promised.

Mac arched a brow and smiled a little, “we’ll see.”

He nodded and she caught the ball that Seijuro threw back to her and she started to dribble it and had to admit that getting past Kiyoshi was proving to be difficult. She paused and eyed him with a speculative look in her eyes and saw the sweat on his forehead, yet he was staring at her focused and determined.

She passed the ball to Daiki and felt like she just lost something in that duel with Kiyoshi who was now working toward Daiki, she couldn’t help but notice that he was the only one on his team that seemed to give it his all. The others seem resigned and accepting that they had lost. She hated that attitude.

“Isn’t basketball fun for you?”

Mac’s head snapped around and saw Kiyoshi standing behind Atsushi and pushing him, in an attempt to guard him. The question rang in her mind but she knew that it would only annoy Atsushi and true enough she saw the familiar tick of anger on Atsushi’s face.

“Huh?” The taller Centre growled. “Fun? Basketball isn’t fun.”

“That’s too bad,” Kiyoshi said just as Atsushi got the ball, he turned but Kiyoshi refused to let go but Atsushi was stronger and managed to make the hoop with a annoyed glare at the other Centre.

“Annoying…” Mac heard Atsushi mutter as he ran back ignoring Kiyoshi who was leaned forward breathing hard.

Kiyoshi had the ball and was charging forward and Mac ran to catch up with him when Atsushi was there and easily blocked him making the tall Centre/Ace from Shoei fall to the ground. He was breathing hard now. Atsushi was looking down at him with disdain.

“It’s so displeasing that I could puke,” Atsushi sneered, “I’ll show you just how cruel this sport is.”

Mac could see how Kiyoshi’s eyes were wide and he was breathing harshly, he was losing and Mac could tell it was beginning to become too much for him. She was surprised and even impressed that he had lasted this long without showing signs of breaking. She looked to the side when she heard the familiar signal that signalled a change and saw her number up and Ryota standing ready to enter the court.

She sat down taking the towel from Tetsuya and the bottle of water as she continued to watch Kiyoshi play. He got back up even as she was sure he was done, but he refused to give up. The rest of his team had given up long ago but he still fought.

“He’s something,” Mac whispered almost to herself but she knew Tetsuya heard her.

“Yeah,” he agreed. “He’s not giving up.”

Mac nodded and looked to her own team who looked like they always did, arrogant and sure of their win. Atsushi especially looked annoyed as the match neared its end.

 

Mac sighed sadly and glanced at the other team who looked like so many other teams they had played before, broken and defeated. Even Kiyoshi looked broken, his grin was gone and that was just wrong. It was like Daiki losing his grin, and Mac didn’t want to see anyone else lose theirs because of them. She wanted to say something to him, but knew that as a member of the opposing team she had very little she could say.

“We won!” Ryota cheered the most excitable on their team and he was smiling like he normally did, but it did seem a little more strained than before.

“It’s not like it’s a surprise,” Daiki yawned and stretched as he walked past her and stopped just in front of her.

“It’s easy,” Atsushi added, “I want a snack. Can we stop by a grocery store?”

Mac tuned them out with a displeased scowl and fell behind, she didn’t feel like listening to them and knew that there was very little she could say right now. She paused outside of the gym they had been playing in and just stared at it.

The question she had heard Kiyoshi ask rang in her mind again.

Isn’t basketball fun for you?

Fun, it was a long time since basketball had just been fun for her. Fun. Fun. Fun. She wanted to have fun again and to play with her friends with smiles on their faces, but that seemed almost impossible now. Even with Seijuro’s order there was a distance between them when they played.

She was still barely holding on, but she saw that the gap between them was growing. She knew that if she wanted to continue she had to get better, but would she lose herself if she did? Like they did? Could she risk losing all joy in the game as well? But…if she didn’t would she lose her friends instead?

 

Mac snapped out of her thoughts when she felt someone walk straight into her and then strong arms caught her before she fell. She blinked and stared up into hazel brown eyes that were a little red around the edges.

“Oh.” He said and let go of her. “Sorry.”

“It’s…it’s alright,” she said quietly feeling out of her debt and shifted nervously on her feet. Suddenly feeling shy and realising that her friends had walked further down the street from here so she was alone.

He looked at her before looking away, she noticed that he had fisted his hands and was looking a little flushed. She looked away before she was caught staring. She wanted to ask how he kept coming back like he did; how he kept going when everyone around him was giving up.

“Good game,” he said.

“What?” her eyes snapped to him shocked he would say so and saw the small almost invisible smile on his face before it was gone.

“I said good game,” he said, “you played well. I was surprised.”

“Oh, um, thanks,” Mac said looking down, “you too. You played good.”

He gave a sort of smile and she wished she knew how to talk to someone she didn’t really know, she had gotten better at talking to the players on second and first string but that was because she knew them.

“You looked lost in thought,” Kiyoshi said and Mac was surprised that he seemed to want to strike up a conversation with her.

“I was,” Mac admitted and looked back at the gym. “I was thinking about your question to Murasakibara.”

He looked a little surprised and she glanced at him for a moment before explaining.

“It’s a long time since basketball has been fun,” Mac admitted, “yes; I have fun when I play with some friends on the street court but with my team… It’s been a while. We used to… we used to have fun.”

Kiyoshi looked at her and she could tell he didn’t know what to say. She wasn’t even sure why she told him, there just was something about him that called her to talk.

“I want to have fun with them again,” she whispered. “I want to let them have fun again playing, but…they’re too good. I can’t…”

“Well, you just have to let go and have fun,” Kiyoshi said, “try to forget the situations around you and focus on what you love about the game. They’re your friends, right? Then, focus on playing with them and let it solve itself.”

Mac frowned and thought about what he said, could she do that? Focus on them and let go? She looked at him.

“How did you do it?” she blurted out and he blinked confused. “How did you continue like that? Everyone always gives up. That’s part of the reason they lost their joy in the game. You didn’t.”

Kiyoshi gave her a serious look and she was starting to think he wasn’t going to answer when he opened his mouth to say something.

“I love the game and I believe that you can never know the outcome as long as someone is fighting,” Kiyoshi said. “It’s not anything particular reason for why I get up. I just don’t like the alternative.”

“Alternative?” Mac asked.

He looked at her for a long moment before giving her one of his grins, the first one she’d seen since the beginning of the match. “To give up basketball. It’s an alternative I don’t like, so I get back up. I will continue to do so.”

“Kenzie!”

Mac glanced to the side and saw that Daiki had come back for her and saw him furrow his brows when he saw Kiyoshi. Kiyoshi looked over at him before back at Mac and smiled once more before walking in the other direction.

Mac started to walk toward Daiki after a brief pause and her mind was made up. She would get back up and continue playing for her friends. She would trust in them and that one day they would have fun again, even if it was a long time before it happened she would hold her focus on that and try to have fun in the meantime. She would be ready when they were back.

Chapter Text

3rd year – Teiko

 

Magical Child Protective Services (MCPS)

 

Sasaki Michi was looking at the papers in front of him with a pensive look on his face. He had finally found family for Mac, and it had been harder than he would have thought. Yes, he could have found someone related in Britain since all British purebloods were related somehow and looking thoroughly enough you would find some link between them all. And the Potters were purebloods so they were related to the Blacks, Avery, Abbott and even Malfoy’s through marriage, but as he had researched those families he had found them…lacking in their abilities in looking after Mac. Some of them even supported Voldemort and that was not something that was favourable for someone raising the Girl-Who-Lived. So, he dismissed finding family through her father James.

Though, finding family through Lily was more difficult and challenging seeing as she a muggle-born witch and therefor getting access to papers regarding her was harder. Less was known about her and even in her famous status little was knows of her family. He suspected that someone had blocked information about her family life in the muggle world from being spread after her death. But he had searched, even going to England for a visit and had hired some muggle private detectives to find more information about her family.

And now, after months and months there had been a result for his searching. He wasn’t even sure why he tried so hard to find family for her that could take her in. Normally he wouldn’t, and couldn’t, spend so much time on one kid but something about Mac called for more effort. Even his bosses had told him to find the best suitable solution for her, and while he had other cases as well he kept returning to his search and attempt to keep Mac in the country and where she wanted to be. He suspected that the higher ups wanted Mac in their country because of her history and the promise in power that lied within her. He just saw the hurt girl when he and Suzuki first found her, and wanted to help her.

Though, given that she was now staying with her best friend and his family and seemed happy with them, he wasn’t sure if moving her again was the best choice. But the living situation was only temporary and he had said so when they made the arrangement. He sighed and pulled a hand through his shaggy brown hair messing it up even further.

Focusing back on the file in front of him he pushed his worries away for now, he had to talk to the newfound family first and see if they were ready and willing to take her in. He still couldn’t believe the luck of finding family for Mac that actually lived in Tokyo now. It turned out that Lily Potter had a half-sister that she (probably) never knew about. From what Sasaki could tell Gregory Evans had an affair shortly after Petunia was born that resulted in a daughter, and that daughter had been adopted by an American couple shortly after her birth mother had died in childbirth.

Sasaki was unsure if Gregory Evans ever learned of his daughter, but she was never brought into the Evans family. Both Gregory and his wife died during Lily’s last year at Hogwarts, in what looked like an attack by Death Eaters at a local market. Sasaki was sure it was one more reason for the bitterness Petunia felt toward her sister. Anyway, the baby girl grew up and married a man from Japan when she met him on a vacation in Tokyo. They lived the first years in Tokyo where they had a baby boy and moved to California when their son was in third grade. Unfortunately Mac’s aunt had died the year before in a car accident leaving her son and husband alone. They had stayed in America one more year and had recently moved back to Tokyo before the son started his last year of middle school.

Sasaki got up and grabbed his file ready to meet with the man at the set appointment and hoped that he would be willing to take his wife’s niece under his care.

 

Teiko

Mac grinned and laughed as she caught the ball and tried to twist around a warily looking Ryota who barely managed to get a finger on the ball causing her to lose control over the ball. She turned and rushed after the ball but Ryota managed to get control over it first, though she didn’t give up. She shared a look with Tetsuya who nodded and before Ryota could shoot he found the ball leaving his grip and Mac caught the ball again before passing to Tetsuya.

She grinned hearing Ryota curse behind her but focused on getting past Seijuro before catching the ball from Tetsuya again. She jumped and grinned happily when the ball went through the hoop.

“Great pass, Tetsu!” Mac high-fived Tetsuya and he allowed a small happy smile to cross his face.

Mac ignored the blank looks on her teammate’s faces as she did what she had promised herself she would do, to have fun playing basketball no matter what.

They were playing two on two, Ryota and Seijuro against Mac and Tetsuya. Shintaro, Atsushi and Daiki were training on the other side of the court but Mac knew that Daiki was likely to be asleep in the corner or something. They got him to come, but it was hard to make him actually participate for more than the joint training. When they split up like this he was likely to slip away and do his own thing. Seijuro allowed it, but mostly because Mac pleaded with him to let Daiki be. She knew that pressure him was a bad idea. He was there, and he tried.

Seijuro arched a brow when Mac tilted her head as she watched him dribble the ball against the parquet. Her eyes focused on him and not the ball, she had her head tilted to the side and when he moved she was already moving the right way and intercepted him. He lost control of the ball something she used to her advantage and passed to where she knew Tetsu were waiting.

She didn’t notice the shocked look on Seijuro’s face or the fact that the others had gathered to watch them finish. She was already moving, so she was free to catch the pass from Tetsuya again and stepped back when Seijuro was on her giving her room to jump and shoot the ball grinning when it went through the hoop.

“What was that?” Ryota asked Seijuro while watching Mac with sharp yellow eyes. “You never lose the ball like that.”

Seijuro didn’t say anything just sent the model a glare making him squirm as he rushed off ready to play again. Seijuro kept an eye on Mac and noticed how she seemed even more inclined to know just how they moved; reading their bodies better and he struggled with getting free from her defending her hoop. He more than once found himself forced into a corner manipulated by how she seemed to read him and his own moves.

Mac breathed heavily as she accepted the towel from Shintaro and gave him a small smile of thanks, she dried her sweat and sat down on the bench. She felt exhausted. Looking up she saw that everyone was looking at her making her frown and feel uncomfortable. She still didn’t like it when she was being stared at.

“What?” she asked shifting a little in her seat.

“What was that?” Ryota asked his eyes wide.

“What was what?” Mac asked confused.

“You played differently, Kenzie,” Daiki said a contemplative look on his face. “You intercepted them easier than before, and…it was like…”

He trailed off but she frowned.

“What are you talking about? I just read their body language and read how they were going to move,” Mac said, “I always do that.”

“Not this easy,” Shintaro pushed his glasses off. “You’ve bloomed.”

Mac blinked as she stared at him and then looked at the others. All looked at her with either a smile or a pensive look on their face, it was clear that they believed what Shintaro had said. She had developed? Bloomed? She hadn’t really felt all that different. Though, thinking about it she did feel it went a little easier during the match.

“Oh,” she said.

“You didn’t even realise, did you?” Seijuro asked with a blank look but she saw the amusement in his eyes.

Mac shrugged a little sheepishly and smiled at him. Seijuro only shook his head.

Mac couldn’t believe that she had developed, or whatever she should call it. She had tried back after the game against Shoei, but she couldn’t do it. She had been disappointed, but accepted that maybe she wouldn’t be as good as the rest of them. She would still have fun though, just like Kiyoshi had said. And now…now she had bloomed, developed. She felt a little wary afraid she would do what the others had done, but she would keep looking for what was fun with basketball.

 

Nao nudged her left leg making Mac look down at the little cub, though he wasn’t so little anymore, and raise a brow. He made a soft noise and Mac glanced at the clock. Her eyes widened, it was almost midnight and she hadn’t even noticed. She had been so lost in her magic homework that she had worked through the whole afternoon and evening.

“Ah, I didn’t realise it was so late,” Mac told Nao who yapped at her making her smile. “Thank you for making me aware, Nao.”

Mac closed her book about transfiguration and stretched as she got up. She had luckily finished her essay for Sato that had to be ready for the next day.

Mac smiled as Nao jumped into the bed with her when she lay down and snuggled to her side like he normally did. She couldn’t help the small gasp that escaped her when he suddenly glowed lightly and three extra tails appeared in addition to the one he already had as he curled up next to her.

She remembered what Newt said about Kitsune and Nao, about how he would show her the tails when he trusted her and she felt warmth fill her when she realised that her little fox finally trusted her completely and she hugged him tightly to her body. The soft barks he let out seemed comforting and adoring.

“Nao, my beautiful, wonderful little friend,” Mac whispered emotionally. “Thank you for trusting me.”

Nao opened his brown eyes and looked up at her with such trust she felt like she wasn’t worthy of it but she promised herself she was going to be the best career and friend for Nao. She completely understood the trust he put in her, having been hurt by humans before.

Nao dragged himself up to her face and licked her cheek making her laugh lightly and squirm a little as he continued to lick her.

“Nao!” Mac laughed.

“Yow-wow-yow,” Nao looked like he was laughing as well.

“Good night, Nao,” Mac smiled contently and felt Nao snuggle closer and his tails wrapping themselves around him.

 

Sato’s home

Mac couldn’t help but grin even as she sat behind the desk working on her assignment from Professor Sato. The memory of Nao showing her his tails and waking up with the fox curled up next to her with his tails still showing.

She had moved to second year Transfiguration spells and was now learning to transfigure beetles into buttons. It didn’t sound all that impressive, but it was harder than it looked. It took complete focus and actually managing to hit the beetle that seemed more interested in running around the desk trying to avoid getting turned into a button.

Nao barked lightly next to her in what she read as encouragement when the next beetle stopped moving and transformed into a round black coat button. Mac grinned and placed it in the growing pile at the corner of the desk.

She couldn’t help but sigh when Professor Sato levitated yet another beetle over at her desk and she was back to yet again try to catch the active beetle with her spell. She didn’t notice the amused smile on her professor’s face as he watched her do so.

“Nao!” Mac laughingly scolded when the fox swapped after the beetle that rushed passed where he was laying on the free space on the desk next to the one she used. “Don’t do that.”

“Yow-wow-yow,” Nao pouted.

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” Mac said, “you’ll get your fun later, ok?”

Nao nodded his head making Mac shake hers before focusing on the little beetle. She tapped her hand in a perfect motion and the beetle seemed to freeze in place before stiffening and transform into a shiny black button this time. Again placing it in the pile before looking up at Professor Sato who smiled but didn’t levitate another beetle over to her.

“Very good,” Professor Sato said, “next I want you to try to transfigure rabbits into slippers.”

Mac arched a brow, “really?”

“Yes, but…um, your fox…” Sato said and eyed Nao making Mac bit down at her lower lip as she too watched Nao.

“Nao,” Mac said and Nao looked at her. “No eating the rabbits, ok?”

Nao tilted his head watching her for a moment before barking and Mac smiled.

“Good,” she said knowing he understood. He was a smart little fox.

Professor Sato shook his head a little at the strange but fascination relationship between Mac and the Kitsune. He had never seen a fox or any animal understand their humans like Nao understood Mac. He conjured up a rabbit before levitating it over to Mac.

“How do I do it?” Mac asked not looking away from the white rabbit while Professor Sato glanced at Nao who eyed the rabbit but didn’t move to attack it.

“You twirl your wand over it,” Professor Sato said and explained the spell and how to pronounce it.

Mac nodded and got a determined look in her green eyes. She twirled her wand but all that happened was that the rabbit jumped and almost fell off the table. Mac managed to grab it before it fell, though.

“Calm and steady,” Sato said making Mac nod and her tongue stuck out between her lips in concentration.

Swirling her wand again and again and again, she kept trying until the rabbit started to shrink until a small white slipper was in its place.

“I did it!” Mac grinned and her professor allowed himself a small smile at her excitement before conjuring another rabbit and levitating it over to her as well.

“Good, now do it again,” he said.

Mac sighed but nodded and gave Nao a look when he barked scaring the rabbit. Nao just blinked but he didn’t bark again and Mac turned her attention back to the rabbit.

 

“I see you learned how to turn rabbits into slippers today,” Daichi commented looking down at the pair of slippers that was placed at her desk.

“Yes,” Mac grinned and Daichi smiled at her before blinking when a low growling sound was heard and looked to Nao who glared at the older boy.

“Looks like you have a guard dog,” Daichi said amused.

“He likes to think he is,” Mac said fondly. “How is job hunting going?”

“Very well,” Daichi said, “I’ve got an apprenticeship with Magical Sports Department here in Tokyo.”

“That’s great! Congratulations!” Mac smiled knowing that he had had worked hard to get that apprenticeship.

“Thanks,” Daichi smiled back, “I still haven’t got to show you Quidditch.”

Mac shook her head, she had been so busy with her magic lesson and basketball as well as trying to keep a hold on her friends that she hadn’t had time to watch Quidditch. She glanced at the clock and saw it was time for her to go home and set her Time-Turner back and start her day over again.

“We’ll have to set a time to do that;” Mac said making Daichi nod with a smile.

“I’ll come and watch you play basketball one day too,” he promised.

Mac forced a smile and nodded. She wasn’t sure she wanted him to come and watch her, or meet Daiki or Seijuro for that matter. They would be all overprotective and suspicious if they were to meet him.

 

 

Teiko

 

Atsushi glowered down at the boy that was collapsed by his feet, he was breathing hard and tears were leaking from his eyes but Atsushi didn’t care about it. How could anyone so weak play basketball? He couldn’t understand how they played basketball or even loved the game. It was so boring and easy, effort didn’t matter.

“Why do you play?” Atsushi asked with a sneer. “Why bother? You’ll never play in our games! You’re just wasting your energy and effort.”

The boy who Atsushi didn’t remember the name off sobbed and got shakily up to his feet and rushed out of the gym leaving the room silent and Atsushi sighed bored and moved toward the bench before stopping when he saw the glaring green eyes directed at him.

“What do you think you’re doing?!” Mac glared at him and Atsushi felt like wincing. He hated it when Mac was mad at him, but he couldn’t stop the way he thought.

“I just told him it was impossible for him to play with us,” Atsushi said lazily, “he should spear his efforts and do something that he’s better at.”

“You are not the one who decides that, Murasakibara!” Mac snapped at him, “that’s the fifth one you’ve chased off! They’re part of our team, of our club! Even if they don’t play in games doesn’t mean they’re useless! They support you, support us every match! They deserve better than being belittled and looked down on by their own teammates!”

Atsushi pouted childishly, but he shrunk back slightly affected by what Mac was saying and the cold look in her expressional green eyes. He blinked and looked down feeling slightly ashamed, but at the same time defiant in the belief he was right.

“Do you hate me, Mac-chin?” Atsushi whispered making Mac sigh and pull a hand over her face suddenly feeling really tired.

“No,” Mac said her eyes softening as the tall centre looked at her. “I’ll never hate you, Murasakibara. I just…I just wish you could understand the hurt you bring to others when you’re talking to them like that. Even if you believe it, you don’t have to tell them that. Please, just…try to keep your opinion to yourself?”

Atsushi looked at the girl on their team and his friend, he didn’t want to see her sad. She was looking at him pleadingly and he felt himself give in. He sighed and nodded getting a smile that seemed to give him a warm feeling back.

“Fine,” he mumbled.

“Thank you,” Mac said and turned to follow after the player who had rushed out of the gym. It had become part of her (self-appointed) job to find them and try to get them back to the club. She knew it was easy for the others to let their frustration out on the remaining club members, but it didn’t mean it was right.

 

“Potter-san,” a voice said making Mac blink and look up from where she was playing with Nao and look at Kiyoshi who grinned at down at her. “Where did you get that fox?”

“He’s my pet,” Mac said in lack of a better term to a muggle who didn’t know about familiars and such things. “His name is Nao.”

“He’s cute,” Kiyoshi said looking at Nao curiously while Nao looked at him suspiciously and growled slightly in warning. “He’s not very friendly, is he?”

“He’s wary of humans,” Mac grimaced slightly, “he’s still not warmed up to my team or even Daiki.”

Kiyoshi arched a brow but didn’t say anything as he watched the fox who still growled but then Mac distracted it with a toy and Nao barked happily and started to chase it. Mac leaned back where she was seated in the grass and glanced up at Kiyoshi.

“You’re going to stand there all day and give me a crick in the neck?” she asked amused.

Kiyoshi laughed and sat down next to her. He gave her a look and Mac wasn’t blind to how he seemed to try to read her. She noticed the school uniform he was wearing, black trousers and black jacket with a blue stripe around the zipper.

“You look better,” Kiyoshi broke the silence.

Mac gave him a small smile remembering the last time she’d seen him and how broken she had felt that day. She had been on the verge to give up and he said just what she needed to hear to continue. She still thought back on his question whenever she doubted that she could enjoy basketball anymore.

“Thanks to you,” Mac said making him blink.

“Huh?” he stared at her confused.

Mac looked at Nao playing on the grass in front of her without saying anything for a while, she wasn’t sure how to explain it or how much to say to the older teen.

“Thanks to you I’m able to look for the fun in playing basketball,” Mac finally said, “even with my team that struggles with enjoying it.”

Kiyoshi nodded and smiled but she could tell it was a little sad. He was no doubt remembering how they were during their match all those months ago.

“So, what High School do you attend?” Mac changed the subject.

“Seirin,” Kiyoshi answered with a knowing look but he allowed the change much to Mac’s gratitude.

“Are you on the basketball team?” Mac asked.

“I’m trying to start one,” he admitted and Mar raised her brows in surprise.

“You mean there’s no team at your school?” she asked shocked.

“No, it’s a new school,” Kiyoshi explained.

“Then why do you attend it?” Mac asked, “why not go to a school with a team. I’m sure many schools would want you on their team.”

He was a uncrown king, after all, and Mac couldn’t see any school turning him away.

“I like Seirin,” Kiyoshi said his eyes focused on Nao, “and it’s close to my grandparents’ house. They’re getting old and they need me to help around the house more often. I owe them for taking me in like they did.”

Mac swallowed her questions knowing it was likely something he wouldn’t want to talk about, just like she didn’t want to talk about her family to someone she just met. Though, she wondered if Kiyoshi would be able to understand her better than the others.

“I see,” she whispered also looking at Nao and thought that Kiyoshi was a good guy.

“I’ll start up a team though,” Kiyoshi said passionately, “and we’ll be the best in Japan!”

Mac grinned and laughed lightly at his declaration.

“I can’t wait to see it,” Mac said and he grinned at her. “Do you have anyone ready to enter?”

“I am in the process of getting one,” Kiyoshi said with a smile that made Mac think he was planning something amusing.

“Good,” was all she said even if she was curious.

They talked a little longer before Mac got up and had to leave. Mac waved back at Kiyoshi who was grinning happily and thought it wasn’t a bad thing to run into him even if it had been accidental. They even made plans to meet again later. Mac was curious to hear about the new team he was building.

 

“Well?”

Mac frowned as she studied the board ignoring Seijuro for now as she tried to see a way for her to last a little longer. She was getting rather good at Shogi, but still no match for Seijuro. Not that it stopped her from trying. She bit down on her lip as the thought.

“I lost.” She grumbled.

She rolled her eyes at the smug look on Seijuro’s face. She gave him a half-hearted glared.

“You know I always win,” he said surely.

“Perhaps,” Mac admitted, “but it will come a day when you also lose.”

“My victory is assured, Mac,” Seijuro said not bothered by her warning.

Mac looked at him for a moment before sighing and starting to clear up the pieces again, she knew that right now nothing she said or did would convince him that he wasn’t invincible. She just hoped that when it happened that she would be there to help him find his place again.

“You disappeared yesterday,” Seijuro suddenly said and Mac glanced over at him to find his intense eyes on her, she was probably the only one who could detect the worry deep in his eyes.

“I just felt like being alone,” Mac shrugged, “practice was over and everyone was going home anyway.”

He didn’t say anything but kept watching her like he was trying to see if she was lying or not. Mac didn’t say anything about meeting Kiyoshi, or that she had spent the remaining of the afternoon with the older teen. She knew Seijuro would get worked up about it, and she didn’t feel like fighting with him. She knew he liked control, but she wasn’t about to let him control her life.

“How are you doing, Seijuro?” Mac asked changing the subject slightly and looked at her friend worriedly.

“I’m fine,” Seijuro said calmly, “busy with work and basketball. Like always.”

Mac looked at him and nodded hiding her sigh at the brush off, but she didn’t push knowing it would do little good. She kept telling herself that she was just happy she still got to spend time with her friends and even if the team was changing she still got them in her life. She wasn’t losing them.

 

Sasaki – Magical Child Protective Services (MCPS)

 

Sasaki leaned forward in his chair in front of the impressive desk and looked at the tall man sitting on the other side wearing a slightly stunned expression on his face. Sasaki took the moment to study the man in front of him. Kagami Tarou was a surprisingly large man for a Japanese man, he was muscled and had an imposing presence in the room. His dark hair was short and well kept, making him look very much like the lawyer and business man he was. Sasaki could very well imagine the way he was in the courtroom, imposing and demanding. Yet, he saw the humour in his eyes as well from the start of their talk. It had been replaced with shock and overwhelming emotions now, though.

“You mean to tell me that….”Kagami Tarou swallowed before he continued, “my Sophia has, had, two half-sisters and that one of them are dead but her daughter, Sophia’s niece, are not? And she needs a home?”

Sasaki nodded, “yes, Kagami-san. Mac needs a family and she really wants to stay here in Tokyo where her friends are. I’ve kept looking for a solution and this seems to be the best one.”

A sigh and a hand pulled over a tired face before intense eyes locked onto Sasaki again making him feel like shifting in his seat.

“And…you’re saying that magic is real?” Kagami Tarou continued.

“Yes,” Sasaki nodded again.

“And…Mac,” he sounded like he tested the name to hear how it sounded, “is a witch?”

Sasaki looked at him and saw no signs of disgust or fear, a spark of hope swelled in his chest as he nodded soundlessly waiting for the man to process everything he had been told.

“Where is she staying now?” Kagami asked.

“She’s staying with her best friend and his family,” Sasaki said again having explained it before, but understood that it was a lot for the man to take in. “The Aomine’s have been good to Mac and she has been thriving under their care. Though, it was only temporary and it’s already almost been a year.”

Kagami leaned back in his seat and stared at Sasaki for a long time before speaking up again.

“Well,” he said, “I must say it’s a lot. I did not know that Sophia had family out there, and I know she would have taking Mac in without a doubt should she still be here….but…”

Sasaki could see the struggle in his eyes, sorrow and doubt as he thought. Sasaki watched as he got up from his chair and walked over to the window overlooking the city. Not breaking the silence that was filling the office.

“My son doesn’t…like staying Tokyo very much,” Kagami Tarou finally spoke up startling Sasaki a little by the change in topic. Sasaki nodded even if the man couldn’t see him, he did know that Kagami Tarou had a son named Kagami Taiga. “He misses his friends in the States.”

Sasaki nodded in understanding. Kagami Tarou turned around to face Sasaki.

“I’ll take her in,” he said, “if that’s really what she wants and needs.”

Sasaki smiled relieved. “It is what she needs. She needs family, and support.”

“I’m not good at dealing with teenagers,” Kagami Tarou grimaced, “my wife… wife was the one who knew how to handle kids and teenagers. She was…the caring one, but I will do my best for her sake. Taiga also deserves a chance to get to know his cousin.”

Sasaki nodded and smiled getting to his feet and held out a hand shaking Kagami Tarou’s hand before speaking.

“Very well,” Sasaki said, “then let’s look at the paperwork, shall we?”

Chapter Text

3rd year – Teiko

 

“Daiki,” Mac looked at her best friend from the doorway in his room, he was sitting on the bed with a magazine in his lap and she spotted the image of the girl on the page opened. She tried hard not to be disgusted and completely ignored the knot in her stomach, but she couldn’t help the small wrinkle on her nose as she noticed how little she was wearing and how revealing it all was, she thought she recognised her from one of those shows Daiki liked to watch. Looking away from the magazine she saw Daiki looking at her with a arch brow. “Do you want to come with me to the park?”

Daiki frowned and looked away making Mac sigh, she had guessed that would be his response but she couldn’t help but ask anyway.

“No,” Daiki said, “I don’t feel like it.”

“Okay;” Mac said trying to sound like she wasn’t disappointed, “I’ll see you later then, I guess.”

Mac turned to leave and didn’t see the longing in Daiki’s eyes that watched her close the door and listen as her footsteps faded away. She didn’t see him leaning back and close his eyes while fisting his hands or how he twitched like he wanted to get up and follow her.

Mac, of course, didn’t see all that and walked down the stairs feeling quite dejected. She smiled though when Shiro came bursting out of the kitchen wearing his ever fateful football jersey. He grinned when he saw her.

“Can I come with you to the park, Mac-nee?” he asked her pleadingly. “I want to play football!”

Mac relaxed her shoulders and nodded, “if your mum says it’s ok.”

“Yay! Mum!” Shiro yelled making Mac chuckle amused.

“What is it, Shiro?” Ayano’s voice sounded as Mac had followed the hyper boy out of the hallway and to the kitchen.

“Can I go with Mac-nee to the park?” he asked and Mac could hear his excitement easily and couldn’t help but remember another 8 year old boy who had the same look on his face and the same way to almost burst with excitement. He looked like he was unable to keep still, almost bouncing in his place.

Ayano glanced over at Mac who shook herself out of her memories and smiled at her with a nod.

“I was going to the park anyway, he is welcome to join me if he like,” Mac said. “I’m meeting Tetsu, but Shiro is welcome to join us if he wants.”

“I want to!” Shiro said looking at Ayano. “Please, mom!”

“Of course,” Ayano smiled amused but Mac could see something in her eyes that had her wondering what Ayano was thinking, it was almost sad.

 

Daiki paused on the top of the stairs as he watched his little brother bounce eagerly next to Mac getting ready to go out, he saw the football under his arm and heard the excited chatter about the sport from where he was watching the two. He couldn’t help but focus on Mac’s smile and the patient way she listened to Shiro, he couldn’t quite understand the sadness that was lurking behind her smile though.

He had gotten up and out of his room in search for her, regretting his refusal to join her in the park. He had stared at the door for a long couple of minutes before he got up and followed her, but now looking at her with his little brother something kept him from speaking up. He wanted to step forward and join them, but he didn’t. Instead he watched them leave the house, Shiro’s hand in hers and he wasn’t sure why he felt jealous over that.

He still hadn’t moved when Ayano suddenly was in front of him jumping slightly at the sudden sight of him.

“Daiki!” Ayano gasped, “you scared me!”

“Sorry;” Daiki muttered.

Ayano looked at him closely, “something wrong?”

Daiki just shrugged and turned walking back to his room and shutting his door with a sharp click and sank down on his bed again. The magazine laying open on the bed next to him, but he didn’t pay it any attention. He should have said yes, he thought and closed his eyes.

 

“Hi Tetsu!” Mac smiled at the shadow who was standing by the basketball court at the park waiting. He smiled and gazed over at Shiro when he heard the small surprised gasp coming from beside Mac.

“I didn’t even see you!” Shiro exclaimed, “so cool!”

Mac smiled amused and looked at Tetsuya who blinked looking adorably confused.

“Um. Hi?” Tetsuya said.

“This is Daiki’s little brother,” Mac said, “Aomine Shiro, he just turned 8. Shiro this is my friend from school, Kuroko Tetsuya.”

“Hi Shiro-kun,” Tetsuya said smiling shyly at the little boy.

“Hi, do you know my brother too?” Shiro asked curiously.

“Yes,” Tetsuya said.

“We all play basketball together, Shiro,” Mac told the boy.

“Oh,” Shiro said.

Mac exchanged an amused look with Tetsuya before shrugging.

“He asked if he could come,” Mac told Tetsuya, “hope you don’t mind. He’ll probably want to play a little football, though.”

“Do you play football, Kuroko-san?” Shiro asked eagerly.

“No, haven’t really played much football before,” Tetsuya admitted.

“Never?” Shiro asked horrified.

Mac laughed unable to not think about the first meeting with Daiki and his reaction to her ever having played basketball before. Again, she saw Daiki in Shiro and she couldn’t help but smile even as it turned sad.

“Then we’ll teach him, right Shiro?” Mac asked and Shiro nodded solemnly.

 

“Thank you,” Mac told Tetsuya after they had played football for a while and Shiro was sitting exhausted on the bench drinking from the water bottle Mac had bought him.

“No need to thank me, Mac,” Tetsuya said.

“Yes, I do,” she insisted, “I know we planned on playing basketball together today and I was supposed to help you with your misdirection. I just couldn’t say no to Shiro when he asked to come.”

“Its fine,” Tetsuya said with his usually blank expression but Mac could read him well enough to see that he meant it. She smiled and nodded.

“Good,” she said.

“I’m surprised he’s not a basketball fan like Aomine-kun,” Tetsuya commented glancing over at Shiro who still drank from the bottle.

“I know,” Mac smiled fondly, “Daiki used to complain about it. He’s tried to make Shiro love basketball as much as he did, still does, but Shiro is just as stubborn as his brother and has decided that football is his thing. Besides, he’s good.”

“He is,” Tetsuya agreed. “Just a surprise, that’s all.”

Mac laughed, “mhm. Daiki blames me.”

Tetsuya arched a brow and took in the look that said she didn’t mind that at all.

“You look really sorry about that,” he commented.

She just smiled and shrugged, “Shiro loves what he loves and he still watches basketball with me when he wants to. He’s just found his own thing.”

She cast another fond look at Shiro who looked tired and then looked at Nao who was resting on the grass beside the bench watching her with alert eyes. Mac smiled a little and looked back at Tetsuya who was silent beside her.

“Anyway, let’s play a little basketball now,” she said, “Shiro will be okay on the bench for a little while.”

“Okay,” Tetsuya agreed and picked up his basketball before throwing it at her.

Mac caught the ball and looked down at it, it felt worn and the leather was almost slippery instead of rough like it normally was. She arched a brow as she studied the ball closer and saw how faded the orange colouring of the ball was in various places. Mac couldn’t help but glance over at Tetsuya and wonder just how much time he used on practicing to make the ball this worn out. Deciding to refrain from making any comment, but filed the information away for later she started to bounce the ball and move around the court and passing the ball to Tetsuya before getting it back in different ways.

 

“We’re home,” Mac said when she stepped into the house and made sure Nao was inside the door before closing it. She heard the footsteps coming closer and looked up to see Ayano pause in the door way with a raised brow as she took in Mac with Shiro half-asleep on her back.

“He was too tired to walk home,” Mac explained with a sheepish smile. “I think we overdid it.”

“Its fine,” Ayano smiled, “let’s get him off you and get your both ready for dinner.”

Mac nodded and smiled as she moved so Ayano could take Shiro off her back, the boy mumbled something and opened his eyes blinking a few times as he did.

“We’re home?” he asked.

“Yes, sleepyhead,” Mac said, “did you rest well?”

“Mhm,” Shiro nodded, “can we go and play again soon?”

“We’ll see,” Mac promised, “now it’s time for dinner. Go and wash up.”

“Ok,” Shiro said and blinked when he spotted Ayano. “Oh, hi mum!”

Ayano shook her head and gave them both a fond smile before leaving the hallway and disappearing back into the kitchen.

Mac made her way to the bathroom and took a quick shower before changing into a comfortable pair of trousers and shirt, she paused by the mirror and looked at herself. Her hair was getting rather long, maybe she should cut it? She had little colour in her cheeks after spending a day outside, and her scar was still standing out on her forehead. She didn’t really care about the scar, but it was a unwanted reminder of her parents fate now that she knew the truth. Looking at it she wondered if her mum would have been like Ayano, caring and loving. Would she come watch Mac play basketball? Would she like her friends? Questions like that filled her mind and she had no way of knowing if she was.

 

Mac smiled as she noticed Daiki taking the free spot next to her on the sofa and saw the moment he relaxed when he meet her eyes. She turned her eyes back to the television and the show that was on, a warm feeling settled in her chest at the knowledge that Daiki was beside her. Nao opened his eyes and looked at Daiki for a moment with searching eyes before closing his eyes again content to rest on his mistress lap with Mac running a hand through his fur from time to time. They didn’t speak, but Mac didn’t care. She didn’t need to fill every silence with sound and liked just sitting beside her best friend and watch a rerun of Glee. She hadn’t really watched it before, but it was slightly catching.

“What’s this?” Daiki finally broke the silence and Mac looked at him to see him look confused and slightly disgruntled.

“It’s called Glee,” Mac said.

“Huh, all they do is sing…” Daiki said frowning.

Mac laughed at how confused he looked and knew it wasn’t something for him, really.

“Yeah, it’s kind of the point,” Mac said amused, “it’s show about a school choir.”

“Boring,” Daiki yawned, “why do you watch it?”

“It’s nothing better on,” Mac shrugged, “besides I kind of like it.”

Daiki shook his head but he didn’t get up but started to complain about the jocks in the series and how they were to full of themselves. Mac smiled and refrained from pointing out that they also were full of themselves.

 

Ayano smiled softly as she spotted Daiki bantering with Mac in the living room like they used to. It was a while since she’d seen them look so relaxed together, it was nice. She was worried they would grow apart to much, she wasn’t blind. She saw the tension between them grow over the last year and knew much of the blame was with Daiki and his detachment to basketball. She hoped they would be able to keep a hold of their friendship.

“Well, look at that;” Takehiro said startling her as she hadn’t noticed him coming up behind her, “they look like they used to.”

“Yeah,” Ayano said, “hopefully Daiki can keep from pushing her away too much.”

Takehiro nodded and pressed a soft kiss to his wife’s temple. “They’re kids. They’ll work it out with time.”

“I hope you’re right,” Ayano sighed but smiled at her husband.

Just as he was about to say something the doorbell rang and Ayano shot him a smile before going to answer it wondering who it could be since it was getting late. She opened the door and blinked when she saw the familiar man standing outside.

“Ah, Sasaki-san,” Ayano smiled even as a sinking feeling was settling in her stomach at the sight of the smiling man in front of her. She had almost forgotten about him when the time had passed and they hadn’t heard anything from him, but now he was standing there and she felt a sudden need to slam the door closed. She didn’t, of course, because that would be rude.

“Hello, Aomine-san,” Sasaki smiled, “may I come in?”

“Oh, of course,” Ayano said trying to sound cheerful and opened the door wider to let him in. She fought the blush in her oversight.

The man stepped inside with a carefree smile and nodded politely when Takehiro joined them. Ayano saw the surprise and the apprehension in her husband’s eyes as he recognised the man as well, and she was sure that he too had forgotten about Sasaki.

“Aomine-san,” Sasaki smiled at the other man, “how are you all?”

“Sasaki-san,” Takehiro smiled tightly back, “we’re fine. May I ask what you’re doing here? It’s rather late, isn’t it?”

Ayano winced slightly at the almost rude tone to his question, but Sasaki seemed unbothered and just smiled back.

“I’m sorry for the inconvenience, but I need to talk to you and to Potter-san,” Sasaki said with an apologetic look and Ayano sighed softly before nodding.

“Alright, she’s with Daiki in the living room,” Ayano said.

 

“Mac,” Mac looked away from Daiki when she heard Ayano’s voice interrupt their still going bantering about Glee. She stilled though when she spotted Sasaki behind Ayano and felt her hand that was petting Nao tighten in apprehension. What was he doing here? Daiki tensed next to her, she could feel it but he didn’t say anything.

Nao opened his eyes when he felt Mac’s tension and growled in warning, Mac could feel his fur standing up as he raised himself slightly only her hand keeping him still seated. She started stroking him again to calm him down.

The growling softened slightly but didn’t stop completely and together with the singing from Glee was the only sounds that filled the living room for a moment before Mac found her voice again.

“Hi, Sasaki-san,” she said softly at the same time as she shut the television off.

“Potter-san,” Sasaki said sounding a little breathless and she saw him staring at Nao with wide eyes. “Um, you’ve got a new pet?”

Mac smile fondly and nodded, “yeah. He’s name is Nao.”

“I see,” Sasaki said visibly shaking himself out of his shock. He smiled at Mac and Mac had to smile back, she was nervous and fearful for why he was there but it was hard to not smile back at the older man. “How are you, Potter-san?”

Mac shrugged, “I’m fine.”

“Typical teenage answer,” Sasaki said, “how’s your schooling going?”

“Muggle or magical?” Mac asked and he smiled.

“Both,” he said.

“Alright,” Mac said, “it’s a little tiresome and exhausting at times, but worth it. I’m really happy with how it’s going.”

“That’s good,” Sasaki said, “Professor Sato is very happy with you. He said you’re one of the best students he’s ever had.”

Mac looked down to hide her blush and ignored the knowing smile on Sasaki’s face.

“Why are you here?” Daiki asked rudely in Mac’s opinion and she nudged him with her leg, but the other boy just glared and crossed his arms over his chest.

“Daiki!” She hissed.

“It’s alright,” Sasaki said looking slightly amused.

Ayano and Takehiro came to join them and Mac noticed that Ayano had a tray of coffee with her that she placed on the table. Sasaki sat down in one of the chairs and Mac felt him looking at her without saying anything for a moment and she fought the need to shift in her place or ask what he was doing here, like Daiki did. Nao was tense in her lap, but he had stopped growling.

 

Sasaki took a moment to watch Mac. She had changed in the months since he last saw her, she looked more confident now and had gained a little more weight, she didn’t seem as fragile like she used to. It was clear that she had been thriving under their care and a spark of uncertainty hit him. Perhaps removing her from this home was a mistake? He pushed the thought away and inhaled before starting to speak.

“I know it’s been a while since last time I was here;” Sasaki started, “and I will admit that finding family for you that was suitable to take you in was harder than I thought it would be.”

Sasaki saw the way Mac’s shoulders tensed and how she looked down at the fox in her lap without comment. He sighed, he wished he didn’t have to upset her with his news, but he hoped that in time that it was the right decision to make for her.

“But you’ve found one?” Takehiro broke the silence that had filled the room where he had trailed off for longer that he planned to as he had been studying Mac. Sasaki glanced at the older man before looking back at Mac who looked up and met his eyes. He was slightly stunned by the steel in her eyes as he meet them, but he also saw the nerves and fear in them.

“Yes,” Sasaki nodded and raised his hands before they managed to say something, “please, just listen.”

He saw the battle going on in Mac’s eyes before her shoulders slumped and nodded and he noticed how she reached out and took Daiki’s hand in hers and seem to stop him from saying something as well. Sasaki was slightly amused to see how the other boy closed his mouth and glared at him but didn’t say anything.

“Like I said,” Sasaki started again, “it was difficult finding a suitable family for you. James Potter had a few distant cousins in England but they’re all in one way or another not suitable for you. Some followed Voldemort, while other’s has been almost wiped out in the war as well.”

Mac frowned, but didn’t say anything.

“So, I moved on to your mother’s family,” Sasaki continued and noticed that Mac looked back up at him, “it was a challenge since she was the first magical in her family and we don’t really have all that information on muggles. It took time and I had to use a private detective, but I finally found something.”

Mac listened as he explained how he had found out about her grandfather and how he’d had an affair in between Petunia and Lily. Mac didn’t like it, but she pushed the feeling away in favour of listening to him tell her about an aunt she never knew about and how she had married a man from Japan. Hope flared inside her as she heard that, maybe… he told her about her cousin being born and how they had lived in Japan for a few years before they moved to USA. Mac felt her stomach drop and felt how Daiki tensed beside her. Sasaki didn’t let her interrupt and continued to talk, and at the end Mac was left staring at the other man.

“You mean…they live here?” Mac whispered. “In Tokyo?”

“Yes,” Sasaki nodded, “Kagami Tarou and his son just moved here because of his work.”

Mac looked down at Nao giving her mind time to think and process what she had just been told. She had another uncle, a uncle married to her mum’s half-sister. That didn’t mean that he would like her or take care of her, she had learned that the hard way. Nao yapped softly nudging her hand while giving her a worried look. She didn’t respond as she was still thinking.

“Did you say that…my aunt died?” Mac asked finally glancing up to see Sasaki patiently sitting in his seat waiting for her to speak. She saw the sad smile on his face and knew it was true.

“Yes,” Sasaki said. “She was killed in a car accident a little over a year ago.”

Mac looked down again biting on her lower lip before looking back up.

“And he still…” she frowned not knowing how to word it. “He still wants me to live with them?”

“Yes,” Sasaki nodded, “he is willing to take you in. He said it is what his wife would have wanted and his son deserves to get to know his cousin.”

Daiki shifted next to her drawing her attention for a moment, his face was…bowed forward almost hidden in shadow but she saw the scowl on his face anyway. She could feel the tension in him even without touching him. She reached out and took his hand making him glance at her quickly before looking away again.

“I…” She turned her attention back to Sasaki. “I don’t know what to think…I mean…a-aunt Petunia and u-uncle Vernon both were family and they…they didn’t care for me. D-Dudley bullied me and did everything he could to make me miserable. What to say that they won’t be the same?”

She couldn’t quite believe that she actually voiced her fears, but it spilled out of her before she could hold it back. It was something she feared more than anything, she had found a safe place and just the thought of having to give it up… no, it was too much. She fisted her hand that was still in Nao’s fur making him tense again and growl as he burrowed closer to her as if trying to give her comfort.

“I’ll let you think about it,” Sasaki said getting up. “I know it’s a lot to take in, Potter-san. I will come back tomorrow and we’ll talk more, ok?”

He waited until she nodded but she didn’t say anything, she couldn’t.

“Though, I promise you, Potter-san, Mac,” Sasaki said making Mac look up at him at the use of her first name, he was looking at her intently, “I promise that it won’t be like before. Kagami-san is a good man and he was genuinely interested in meeting you. He’s not like the Dursley’s.”

Mac swallowed before she nodded slightly to show she heard him, but she wasn’t sure she believed him. Even uncle Vernon had been able to charm others when he wanted to. Who’s to say that this Kagami Tarou wasn’t the same?

 

The next day Mac woke early from a restless sleep, she smiled a little at the sight of Nao curled up protectively at her side before her smile slipped off her face as the memories of the day before rushed over her again. What was she supposed to do with the information she’d learned? What was she supposed to feel? All she could feel was a overwhelming sensation of fear and worry.

“Go to you cupboard and stay there! Freak!”

Mac winced and hurried to the cupboard before her uncle could do anything else. She winced at the loud sound as he threw the glass against the wall. She could only imagine all the small pieces of glass that spread around the kitchen. She could hear her aunts shrill shriek of ‘Vernon!’ from her cupboard.

Mac barely had time to blink before another memory hit her making her curl into herself.

Laughter and cheerful chattering sounded from the living room and Mac paused in the hallway where she had entered after scrubbing the bathroom floor with a worn toothbrush. Pushing her sweaty hair out of her face she looked at the door to the living room and heard the laughter again. She recognised it now, it was her aunt that was laughing. It sounded genuine and warmer than when she laughed at something one of the neighbourhood women said. Unable to keep from moving Mac walked to the door and looked inside.

Inside she saw her aunt seated on the sofa with Dudley in her lap, he was pointing at the television and waved his pudgy hands excitedly with a wide grin on his round face. Mac looked up to see her aunt smile so warmly and caring down at him, like he was the best thing in the world and Mac felt something in her chest that made her ache.

She had been good, so maybe her aunt would look at her that way? Maybe she would smile and say that she did a good job, that she was a good girl. Mac pushed the door open further and stepped in, hope flaring in her chest as she looked at her aunt.

“What are you doing in here, girl?” aunt Petunia’s voice were sharp and cold making Mac shrink in on herself and she felt her hope die a little more inside.

“I…I’m done with my chores, aunt Petunia,” Mac whispered looking up trying to see some sort of affection from her aunt, but all she saw was dislike and coldness in those cold blue eyes.

“Then go to your cupboard and wait there until it’s time for you to make dinner!” Aunt Petunia snapped at her harshly. “Don’t come in here and ruin my perfect little Dudders day! Always seeking attention, girl, it’s not becoming! You should know your place!”

Mac swallowed the tears away as she whispered, “yes, aunt Petunia, sorry.”

A sniff was all she heard and Mac turned and escaped to her cupboard just as the laughter picked back up and Mac lost her battle against the tears.

Jerking upright Mac rubbed a hand over her eyes ignoring the startled yelp Nao let out at her sudden movement. She hadn’t thought about any of that in a long time. She had only been around five or six when that happened and some part of her was still that little girl who just wanted someone to love her, to care for her and be proud. But another part was unable to believe that she would ever find anyone actually related to her to feel like that, she knew that Daiki and his parents cared about her. She had believed that would be enough, but now she was supposed to leave? Could she find it in her to do so?

Mac sighed; she didn’t have a choice though. Sasaki had always said this solution was only temporary, and it was not fair of her to ask (beg) Ayano and Takehiro to take her in for any longer than they already had. They had already done so much for her, she couldn’t expect anything else.

Suddenly a wet tongue licked her cheek making her blink and look at Nao who was now standing in her bed and was now level with her in height as she was seated on the edge. She smiled at him and leaned her head against his seeking his comfort.

“Yow-ow-wow,” Nao soft sound in her ear calmed her more than anything and she hugged him tighter for a moment before letting go.

“I’m sorry, Nao,” she said, “I’m fine now.”

Nao gave her a look and she chuckled ignoring that it sounded a little wet.

“Promise.”

 

“What’s wrong with you today?” Seijuro asked or more like ordered when he saw her stepping out of her changing room. Nao by her side. The team had gotten used to seeing the fox beside her now, but Mac still smiled at their shocked and slightly fearful reaction to him the first time they’d seen him.

She looked over at her friend to see his eyes narrowed and she knew he was trying to read her and find out what was wrong.

Mac looked away from him, she didn’t want to lie but she wasn’t sure she was ready to say it out loud either. She knew that Seijuro would be annoyed with her delay, but unlike with others he wouldn’t press.

“Well?”

Okay, wouldn’t press too much, Mac corrected herself with a wry smile. She sighed and looked at him again to see the annoyed look in his eyes, but it was the worry deeply hidden that had her deflate and shoulders slump in defeat. She both hated and loved that he was able to bring her defences down without really trying, just like Daiki could. Though, in different ways.

“My…social worker has found family for me,” Mac admitted almost wincing as the words left her mouth and it hit her, it was real. She was supposed to move to another family, to someone who was related to her.

She dared look up and saw Seijuro having tensed beside her, he looked so tense that she worried he would snap like a string tied to tight. She looked around and saw that it was starting to fill up but only Shintaro and Ryota had showed up who was start of the regulars that started the games. Both looked over at them with wary look, she saw that Ryota was about to come over but Shintaro grabbed him by his shoulder and pulled him back. Which was probably a good idea seeing that Seijuro looked likely to go off at any moment.

Mac yelped slightly when her wrist was grabbed and she found herself being pulled toward the door, only a hand to Nao stopped him from reacting with other than growls as he followed.

“Seijuro!” Mac gasped but he didn’t stop or say anything.

 

“What’s wrong with you?!” Mac demanded when he finally stopped outside partly hidden from the gym and let go of her wrist.

“You’re not moving!” Seijuro snapped at her his eyes flashing and he took a step toward her. “You’re not leaving the team!”

Mac blinked before taking a breath to calm down and look at Seijuro who looked angry and demanding, but also worried and Mac could see some fear in his eyes. She knew that he too was afraid of being alone.

“I never said anything about leaving the team,” Mac finally said and he looked at her sharply as if challenging her to lie to him. She rolled her eyes. “I’m not. My social worker found out that I have or had another aunt. Mum’s half-sister that no one knew about. She’s dead though, but her husband is willing to take me in. He lives in Tokyo.”

Seijuro still hadn’t moved but his eyes were locked on her and she waited until he found his voice again or decided to move.

“Oh.”

Mac almost snorted amused at the untypical response from Seijuro but she didn’t as her mind was back on her situation. She sat down on the curb and looked out over the school yard without really seeing it. She was aware that Seijuro sat down next to her and glanced over to find him looking away from her.

“You’re upset,” Seijuro broke the silence with his statement.

“I guess,” Mac sighed and leaned back leaning on her hands to keep her upright. Mac knew he wouldn’t press her to speak now that he was reassured she wasn’t going to leave, and she was grateful for the silent companionship he offered.

“We’re still here for you, Mac,” Seijuro said startling her slightly. “You’re not on your own.”

He didn’t look at her with hurt eyes or like he wanted to say something but held back, like Daiki did. She understood Daiki, though, but right now she needed someone to just reassure her that everything would be okay.

 

“I’ll meet him,” Mac said when she met Sasaki later that day and saw the proud smile on Sasaki’s face. She had made up her mind during practice, not that she really had a choice but she decided that she wasn’t going to be difficult about it. “I’ll see what he’s like, but I can’t promise anything.”

“That’s alright,” Sasaki smiled. “I’m glad you agreed to meet him.”

Mac shrugged and looked down, she wasn’t sure she really wanted to but she was going to anyway. Maybe she should allow herself one more chance at family, maybe this wouldn’t turn out as bad. She inhaled deeply and glanced over at Daiki who was silently watching her. He hadn’t said much since the day before, only watched her and she wished he would say something.

“If you’re sure, Mac,” Ayano said making Mac look away from Daiki and over at the older woman who was giving her a sad smile. “You’re always welcome here, Mac. We’ll support you in any decision you make.”

“Thank you;” Mac said trying to smile.

Daiki got up and left the room without a word. The room felt colder without her best friend there, she could only stare at the door where he had disappeared to and heard the footsteps moving up the stairs and soon the sound of his bedroom door closing.

Mac didn’t notice the looks exchanged between the adults as she stared at the door. Daiki was upset and it was her fault, she wanted to make it right and comfort him, but could she?

“Excuse me,” she whispered and got up Nao following like always.

“Of course,” Sasaki said with a soft smile. “I’ll talk with Aomine-san.”

Mac nodded once and walked out of the door.

 

“Daiki?” Mac paused outside the door to his room. There was no answer and she rested her hand on the handle waiting and deliberating what to do. Should she give him space or should she enter and force him to talk to her? She wasn’t sure what the best option right now was, but her need for her best friend pushed her hand down and opening the door without really her conscious approval of her own actions.

The room was only lit up by the light from the window and she saw the old basketball lying on the floor by the door and a few heaps with old clothes spread on the floor as well. She quickly saw him standing by the window with his back to her and shoulders slumped, slightly leaned forward as if he was leaning against the window still.

“Daiki?” She asked again in a small voice she didn’t like, but she couldn’t help it. She felt so…vulnerable and she needed her best friend. She stepped further into the room and moved almost all the way over to him, but stopped before she reached him. “I…I’m sorry.”

Daiki stiffened and she could see how his muscles tensed, but he didn’t say anything.

“I don’t know what to do,” she whispered, “I don’t…I’m scared.”

The admittance escaped her lips before she could control it, she hadn’t admitted that to anyone. Not to Seijuro earlier that day, or to Nao or even to herself. But now, with Daiki she found herself admitting to it.

“I’m scared, and…what if he’s like uncle Vernon? What if he hates me too?” Mac whispered, “what if I’m unable to have a family that loves me? What if…”

Her words were stopped when she suddenly found herself pressed against a strong chest with firm arms around her holding her surprisingly gently. She hadn’t even noticed Daiki move before she found herself in his arms and hugged like she was the most important person in the world. She relaxed into the hug after a moment and let her best friend comfort her with his warmth and secure presence. She was safe with him.

Chapter Text

3rd year – Teiko

 

Mac glanced over and saw Sasaki smiling calmly at her, reassuring. She inhaled and looked at the door to the apartment where she knew her uncle and cousin was waiting for her, waiting to meet her. She suddenly wished she had asked to meet them at Daiki’s house, but she had thought it best to separate the two places. She couldn’t allow herself to remain in her comfort zone all the time; she wouldn’t be able to move on if she did.

“You ready?” Sasaki asked.

Mac closed her eyes for a moment trying to calm herself down. She wished Daiki was there, but she had said she wanted to do it on her own. Again, she couldn’t keep hiding behind Daiki everytime something happened. She needed… she needed to do this. She was the one who had to live with these people, and having Daiki or even Ayano or Takehiro with her would allow her to hide and avoid any type of confrontation with them.

“Yeah,” she said opening her eyes and squaring her shoulders determinedly. She would face them and not show how scared she was, she thought back to the hug Daiki had given her the day before and relaxed slightly. Daiki would be there when she got back.

Mac could feel Sasaki give her a look again before he nodded and saw him push the button next to the door, a faded sound of the bell going off inside the apartment was all she heard as she stared at the door. Her uncle and cousin was inside, they were just there… what were they like? Would they like her? Sasaki said he had told them about magic, so she wouldn’t have to tell them. They must be okay with it if Sasaki still brought her to meet them, right? He wouldn’t have if they were scared of it like the Dursley’s? She trusted Sasaki, but… what if they just pretended to be fine with it? What if…

Her thoughts were interrupted when the door opened and she was kind of happy they were, but at the same time it meant that the time to meet her long lost relatives was here and she wasn’t ready. She fisted her hands, her nails digging into her palm trying to keep her calm. She looked up at the tall man standing in the doorway, he was clearly Japanese but more muscled and taller than average. She had a brief thought that he would have been a good basketball player. His short dark hair was nicely cut and his eyes were a dark red that now looked curiously at her.

Mac looked down feeling shy and wished she could hide behind something, even if that made her childish, she didn’t like being studied like she knew she was right now. She was barely aware of Sasaki saying something beside her until a hand was placed on her shoulder and she jerked a little. She found herself being led inside and stopped when they reached what appeared to be the living room combined with a kitchen. The large windows gave a great view over the city and she could see a small balcony outside as well.

Mac noticed at teenager sitting on the sofa flipping through the channels on the television, even seated Mac could tell he was tall, perhaps like Daiki. His hair was a mix between dark and red, much like hers. He looked sullen but he turned the television off when the man Mac supposed was her uncle nudges his shoulder, and got up facing her. She was right, he was as tall as Daiki, she thought. She also noticed that he had the same red eyes as his father.

“Potter-san,” Sasaki smiled at her trying to calm her down, “this is your Uncle Kagami Tarou and cousin Kagami Taiga.”

Mac dared looking up at her uncle and saw him smiling slightly as he met her eyes and even if he had an intimidating aura around him she thought he looked kind, she relaxed slightly at that. Her eyes shifted briefly over at the boy, her cousin, and saw the disinterested look he gave her and the frown on his face. She hid her wince. He already didn’t like her. Mac swallowed and refused to show any reaction to his look.

“And this is Mackenzie Lily Potter,” Sasaki finished the introduction and she felt him squeeze her shoulder gently in silent comfort. Mac wished he wouldn’t, but she didn’t protest.

“Hi,” Mac said quietly remembering her decision of being brave and not hide anymore.

“Hello, Mackenzie,” Tarou said and Mac realised that it was the first time she heard his voice. He sounded calm and soothing, kind of reminded her of how Newt talked to his animals. She almost scoffed, she hope the man didn’t think she was some kind of wounded animal or something. She wasn’t.

“Mac,” she corrected glancing up at him again, “everyone calls me Mac.”

“I see,” he said smiling again, “I’ll call you Mac, then, if you prefer that?”

Mac nodded and swallowed, she still felt nervous but she could do this. She glanced over at Taiga again, but found that he had already looked away from her. She looked down, how she wished she could take Nao out of her bag and cuddle him. He would offer the comfort she needed.

“Can I get you something to drink?” Tarou asked breaking the tense silence in the room, “and sit down, Mac. Make yourself comfortable.”

“Um, sure,” Mac agreed and when he arched a brow she smiled slightly, “tea, please. Thank you.”

“One moment,” Tarou nodded.

“Thanks,” Mac said politely taking the cup from her uncle who smiled at her again before sitting down on the free seat. Sasaki was on the other side of her and Taiga had moved to a chair.

 

Tarou had been watching Mac since she entered the apartment and he could see a little of his wife in her, the eyes for one. Those green eyes were just like his Sophia’s, it had made his flinch slightly at first when he spotted them, and hopefully it had gone unnoticed by Mac. She was quiet and looked like she wanted to turn around and flee the apartment at any moment. He couldn’t really blame her for that, from what Sasaki had told him he knew she must be worried about meeting him and Taiga.

And thinking about Taiga…Tarou glanced over at his son who was sulking on the chair he had sat down on and not looking at Mac. He was still upset about moving to Tokyo and Tarou could understand him, but the sulking was not going to help. He hoped that Taiga could bond with Mac and that they could find some common ground.

“I hope you’re not to worried about meeting us,” Tarou said breaking the silence again and saw Mac glance up at him. She did that often, he noticed, before looking away again. His sharp eyes taking in everything about his new niece, it was a strange thought but he found himself quickly getting used to the idea. He knew his Sophia would have loved meeting her, she would be the first to say yes to take her in. She had always wanted to know more about the biological family, but had never been able to find them.

“I’m worried,” Mac spoke up quietly, but her voice was surprisingly calm and firm. “But I think it’s more the unknown in the situation and the fact that I’m remembering how my…other aunt and uncle were. I don’t know you. I try not to let myself be influenced by my memories of my other relatives.”

Tarou arched a brow in surprise as he stared at Mac. He had not been expecting her to say something like that, and she sounded so… mature and at the same time detached, like she was talking about someone else. He glanced over at Sasaki and saw the same trace of surprise in his eyes as he looked at her.

“Well, that’s very mature of you,” Tarou said finding his voice again. “I am sorry you had to experience what you did with your aunt and uncle, Mac. I know you don’t know me, and that I don’t know you either, but that can be easily corrected. I would like to get to know you, and hope that you’ll find a safe place here with me and Taiga. You’re family, and family is important. My wife, your aunt, Sophia would have been the first to say so.”

Mac gave him a look that seemed to be trying to look straight through him, like she was trying to catch him in a lie. He looked back calmly and saw how she frowned before looking down at her lap. He waited for her to say something, he didn’t want to push.

 

Mac felt exhausted when she finally arrived back home, she fell back on her bed and barely acknowledge Nao who burrowed into her side and whined slightly. She absentmindedly petted him while covering her eyes with the back of her arm. She felt so tired and worn out emotionally and mentally. She had spent the entire day with her uncle and cousin, even if he hadn’t said much. Her uncle had talked about his work a little, and about the place they lived before and where he had grown up just outside Tokyo, and asked her questions as well. Not really deep ones, but random things to get to know her. She liked that he hadn’t asked the deep ones, she wasn’t ready for that but the way he tried to ease her into a comfortable conversation showed that he was different from her other uncle. She allowed herself to hope.

“Kenzie?” Daiki sounded worried, “are you okay?”

Mac grunted very ladylike mind you, and she heard the amused chuckle coming from the door and she contemplated removing her arm from her eyes to give him a glare, but she was too tired. She just jerked her leg in his direction without hitting him.

“Kenzie,” Daiki said again and he sounded like he was closer now. “How did it go?”

Mac groaned and sat up making Nao yelp by her sudden movement and looked at Daiki who was wearing his concerned-but-not-sure-what-to-do-face as he watched her.

She sighed, “I’m fine, Daiki. I’m just exhausted and slightly overwhelmed.”

He looked relieved as he sat down on the edge of the bed next to her eying Nao warily as he growled softly again, Mac shook her head slightly at the growling, she couldn’t get him to stop growling at people who came close to her. He still did it, and while it was cute it was also a little annoying.

“Shh, Nao,” Mac soothed and scratched behind his ear.

“You were gone a long time,” Daiki commented.

“Mm,” Mac nodded absentmindedly, “we talked a lot. Ka-Uncle Tarou said he wanted to get to know me.”

A look of wonder crossed her face and Daiki smiled a little sadly at her, he knew her and knew she was surprised when someone seemed genuinely interested in her. He hated her relatives for making her feel like that.

“Good.” Daiki said before getting up. “You should get some rest. You’ve got a long day tomorrow.”

Mac nodded and watched Daiki walk toward the door.

“Daiki,” Mac called when he reached the door. He paused and half turned to look back at her. “Thank you for supporting me.”

He smiled a little before nodding and walked out. Mac smiled and sighed before forcing herself to get up and get ready for bed. Daiki was right. It would be a long day tomorrow.

 

Sato’s house

 

Mac was relieved she had her magic lesson the next day, it gave her something to concentrate on that wasn’t her family situation. She knew that she would have to deal with everything, but it was good to have a place to escape to. At least for now.

“Um, you like challenging Nao, don’t you?” Mac blinked as she stared at the bird placed on the perch in her professor’s office. Much to her surprise the older man started to laugh, he normally didn’t laugh much during their lessons so she was a little surprised by it.

“I’m trusting you to have control over him,” Professor Sato said when he stopped laughing.

Mac smiled and looked down at Nao who had his eyes trained on the bird but didn’t move to attack or anything.

“Ok, but why do you have a bird here?” Mac asked looking back at it.

“Todays lesson will be to learn how to transfigure animals into water goblets,” Professor Sato explained.

“Um, why?” Mac furrowed her brow.

“Why?”

“Why would anyone want to change animals into water goblets?” Mac asked frowning.

“Why would you change rabbits into slippers?” Professor Sato asked back, “it’s just what magic is capable to do, Potter-san. It won’t always make sense.”

Mac snorted softly, but she nodded and pulled out her wand making her professor smile and nod.

“Now, the incantation of the spell is: Vera Verto,” Professor Sato explained, “and it’s a fairly difficult spell to cast. If cast wrong it could be disastrous. It might take some form from the animal you’re transforming it from, like being furry or having a tail.”

Mac nodded in understanding and listened as he showed her how to do the spell. Mac watched as he tapped the bird three time as he cast the spell before the bird changed into a crystal clear goblet. It was by far the first piece of transfiguration she’d seen but it was always fascinating to see how things or animals in this case change into something else.

 

“How did your lesson go?” Daichi asked sitting down beside Mac who was just finishing lunch. She had been a little distracted through the meal, her mind going back to her uncle and cousin, so she hadn’t noticed how the others had exchanged concerned looks around her.

“Alright,” Mac said.

Daichi looked at her for a moment before deciding to speak again.

“You ok, Mac? You seem a little distracted,” he said.

“I’m a little distracted, but I’m fine,” Mac said smiling a little, “just have a lot on my mind.”

Mac looked up and saw the curious looks and sighed before she told them about her newfound family and that she was going to move in with them soon. She still wasn’t sure on when, but she saw that there really wasn’t a reason to prolong the process. She knew that they were all willing to let it go at her pace, but she didn’t want to worry anyone or be a burden on them. So, she should just pull herself together and do what she could.

“Wow,” Daichi said interrupting her thoughts. “That’s rough.”

Mac just shrugged and offered a piece of fruit to Nao who chipped happily and ate the apple from her hand.

“Why don’t you go and play some Quidditch for the remaining of your time here before you have to go back?” Professor Sato asked and Mac looked at him in surprise.

“Yes, let’s play some Quidditch, Mac!” Daichi beamed and Mac nodded.

 

“So, this is a Nimbus 2000,” Daichi said, “it’s mine but you can borrow it, if you want.”

Daichi placed it on the ground and smiled when Mac arched a brow at him. She couldn’t understand why he put it on the grass like that. She looked down at it, the handle was a dark rich brown and she could see the golden letters spelling the name Nimbus 2000 in an elegant script.

“It’s not the fastest broom out there anymore,” Daichi explained with a smile as he noticed the awed look on her face. “Both Nimbus 2001 and the Firebolt is faster, but it’s still a good broom.”

“How do you fly it?” Mac asked looking back up at him with an eager look on her face.

He laughed.

“Step up to the broom,” he said and she did as told before looking at him again, “raise your right hand over the broom and say; up.”

“Alright,” Mac shrugged and held her right hand over the broom before speaking, “up!”

The broom instantly flew up in her hand and she blinked shocked at how easy and comfortable it felt with the weight of the broom in her hand. She had expected it to weigh a little, but it felt like nothing. It was like she was holding air.

“Wow,” Daichi said drawing Mac’s attention again, but he seemed to shake himself out of whatever he was thinking and instructed her to get on the broom and keep both feet planted on the ground for now. Mac watched as he mounted his own broom and how he gently kicked up from the ground so the broom was hoovering in the air. “Now you try, Mac. Easy.”

Mac kicked off and the broom speed up into the air a little farther than what she intended, but she just laughed as the air hit her hair and she felt free. It was like she knew what to do without having Daichi to tell her, she adjusted her grip on the broom and steered it so she faced Daichi who was gaping at her.

She pulled on the broom and it flew higher and she couldn’t help but smile as the fresh air hit her face and she climbed higher and higher up in the air. She was vaguely aware of someone calling her from below but she was not paying them any attention as the feeling of finding peace and freedom rushed through her body.

Daichi stopped trying to follow her as he watched her fly, he felt his heartbeat slow down slightly as he saw the control she had over her broom. He had never seen anyone fly like that on their first try, it was like she was a natural at it. He did however feel his heart stop when she suddenly dropped to the ground before pulling back up.

“She’s trying to give me a heart attack;” he muttered.

 

“That was fun!” Mac beamed when she landed and felt the solid ground underneath her feet again. “I can’t believe I haven’t tried that before!”

“Well, you’ve been pretty busy,” Daichi said with a small smile, “but seriously, Mac! You almost gave me a heart attack!”

“Eh? Why?” Mac blinked at him confused which grew when he groaned and gave her a look that clearly said he thought she was an idiot.

“You flew like that without any training!” Daichi said. “It’s not something most people would try to do on their first time!”

“Well, I just felt like I knew what to do and did it,” Mac tried to explain. “It felt…natural.”

“I could see that,” Daichi said.

“Oh, I don’t think it’s time for a Quidditch match,” Mac realised spotting the clock. “I have to go back and get to Teiko.”

“Alright,” Daichi said, “hope the flying helped getting your mind off everything.”

“It did,” Mac said. “Thank you, Sato-san.”

“Daichi,” he corrected but she just smiled making him shake his head.

 

Teiko

 

Mac was in a better mood when she got to school and even the thought that it was probably the last week she would be arriving at school together with Daiki was not enough to bring her mood down completely. She pulled her bag further up her shoulder as she entered the classroom for the day, Ryota smiled and waved from where he was sitting by the window. He had the seat in front of her and Daiki.

“Mac-cchi! Aomine-cchi!” Ryota beamed. “You’re almost late!”

“Hi Kise-kun,” Mac said with a small smile as she sat down behind her desk. “How are you?”

“Great!” Ryota said with a smile that stretched as far as it would go. Mac was still shocked he could be so happy all the time, though, he did go to the extremes quite often. “I had a model assignment yesterday and they said I would be promoted next month and have more to do!”

“That’s great,” Mac said and the blond boy nodded before looking at Daiki who was already looking like he was about to fall asleep. Mac could see the flash of disappointment in his yellow eyes before he looked back at Mac like it never happened. She didn’t call him out on it, but she felt like hitting Daiki and tell him to pay attention to his friend.

“Did you do your homework?” Ryota asked changing the subject.

“Yes,” Mac nodded and he sighed dramatically slumping all over her desk. She arched a brow as she watched him feeling slightly amused.

“I didn’t…” he wailed, “I didn’t understand it and now I’m going to fail! I’m going to be kicked out of school and basketball and everything! Mum’s going to be so mad at me!”

Mac sighed at the dramatic sight in front of her.

“Quit whining,” she said and he blinked at her with tears in his eyes, “I’ll help you. We can look at it in the recess and I’ll explain it to you.”

Suddenly his face lit up and he was beaming again, Mac wondered if he got whiplash from the sudden mode swings he got all the time. He grabbed her hand and squeezed it tightly.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” he chanted.

“Don’t mention it,” Mac shifted uncomfortable in her seat and pulled her hand out of his. She glanced to the side to see Daiki stare at Ryota with narrow eyes from where he was resting his head on his arms over the desk. She rolled her eyes and was grateful when the teacher entered the room.

 

Helping Ryota with his homework turned out to be a small study session with Daiki, Tetsuya and Atsushi joining in as well. Seijuro and Shintaro were also there, but they let Mac do the explaining and just sat in silence playing shogi against each other.

“I’m bored,” Atsushi whined, “I want to eat.”

“You just ate, Murasakibara-kun,” Mac said, “finish your English and then you can eat.”

“Fine,” he pouted but did as she said.

“Can you look at mine, Mac?” Tetsuya asked quietly and Mac accepted his paper and looked at it. She read through it quickly and made a couple of notes before handing it back.

“Almost there, Tetsu,” she smiled, “just look at those points. The grammar isn’t the best and you might want to word it a little differently.”

He frowned but nodded and looked so focused that Mac couldn’t help but smile a little. She turned her attention over to Daiki who looked frustrated.

“Calm down, Daiki,” she told him, “it’s nothing to get so frustrated over.”

He looked at her before nodding and handed her his paper so she could read over it. She smiled a little and gave it back.

“It should be good enough,” she said and he smiled.

“Finally,” he said.

Mac just rolled her eyes and looked at Ryota who was staring at his paper with such intense eyes that she wondered what he was looking for.

“Done!” he suddenly cheered making Mac jump slightly before glaring at him.

“Quite,” Mac scolded him and he grinned sheepishly at her. “Well done.”

 

“Why did you need help, Aomine-kun?” Ryota asked when they had finished the last class for the day and was changed into the practice clothes ready for another practice. Daiki looked bored and was leaning against the wall with his arms folded over his chest. “I mean, couldn’t you have asked Mac at home?”

Mac wondered if she was the only one who noticed the way he tensed and glanced at her, though she noticed the way Seijuro narrowed his eyes as he looked at Daiki.

“She wasn’t home yesterday,” Daiki finally said, “and she was to tired when she got home.”

“Oh,” Ryota blinked and looked at Mac curiously and she sighed. “Where were you, Mac?”

Mac hesitated and used the notebook in her hand as an excuse to not having to answer right away as she flipped through it to the latest entry. Finally she looked up and saw all of them looking at her and she met Daiki’s eyes. His eyes was warm and gave her the encouragement she needed.

“I met my uncle,” she said.

“What?”

“You’re uncle?!”

“Why would you meet him?!”

The angry questions and exclamations had her blinking as she hadn’t been finished in what she was about to say before they interrupted her. Seijuro didn’t react but his eyes were locked on her, watching her and reading her reaction.

“If you let me finish I would tell you,” Mac huffed annoyed. “My social worker found out that I have another uncle and cousin. My mum had a half-sister she never knew about. She died, but husband is alive and agreed to take me in.”

They stared at her for a long moment and she let herself study the other team members that had entered the gym, they all kept a distance to where she and her friends were standing though and she felt a little sad that they felt the need to stay away from them. Though, right now it might be the tension that was flowing off them that kept the others away. They wouldn’t want to be near if another fight was about to break out.

“Oh, will you move?” Ryota asked the question Mac was sure everyone was thinking if she read the way they tensed correctly. Only Daiki and Seijuro was calm, but that was because they knew her answer.

“No, my new uncle is Japanese,” Mac said with a small smile, “he and my cousin just moved back to Tokyo, so I will stay here.”

The sigh of relief they let out at the same time was comical and warming, she felt a little warmer at the thought of them caring whether she moved or stayed. Even if they didn’t enjoy basketball anymore, they wanted her to be there and with them.

 

Mac talked with Sanada about the new recruits and their training regime, he wanted her to set something up for them and she agreed even knowing she would be tired.

“I’m sure you’ll be able to get something together that will be suitable for their level,” he said. “We have to think about next year when you guys aren’t here anymore. I would like you to try to teach someone as well about how to be a manager and analyse the games like you do.”

“But…” Mac frowned.

“I know it’s not simple,” Sanada said looking at her, “I don’t expect someone who’s at your level, Potter-san. I know you’re exceptionally talented and to find someone else like you… well, that’ll be impossible.”

Mac felt herself blush slightly and she shifted on her feet as she tried to look at something beside her coach. She was also still annoyed at him for what he had said to Daiki, she hadn’t talked to him about it yet and she wasn’t sure she ever would. But now it was lying beneath everytime she talked to him and had to listen to him. The annoyance and questions about why he would say something like that in the first place. What kind of coach told a player that they didn’t need to come to practices anymore?

“Ok, Sanada-sensei,” Mac said politely and he nodded at her. She sighed quietly as she watched him walk away and looked over the players in the gym, she noticed how they eyed her friends warily as they played at the other side of the court.

She grabbed her notebook and started to write down the observations she made of the newest players that had made the second-string. She tapped the pen against her lips as she noticed a tall boy with brown hair who was bouncing the ball with a confidence and almost cockiness she thought familiar to Ryota or Daiki, perhaps. She quickly made the note and continued to study the players as her mind was thinking about the possible training menus and how to help them develop further.

And where would she find someone who would be interested in learning more about being a manager and analyst for the team? She didn’t really know anyone else good enough, the girls that was doing the regular manager stuff was so different from herself and she had never really talked to them. She didn’t want to blame them for not talking, but she had always felt it hard to talk to them and all they asked about was Seijuro or Daiki or one of the others. They were only interested in knowing if one of the boys were her boyfriend or something, and she never had the patience to listen to their boys talk. She knew it wasn’t really their fault, she was the one who stayed by Daiki’s side and if wasn’t there she would be with Seijuro or Tetsuya or Shintaro more often than not.

Sighing she closed her eyes briefly and wondered just how she was supposed to find someone who had talent for analysing? She glanced over at Daiki and saw that he was lying on his back on the bench on the other side of the court looking like he was sleeping. She looked at Seijuro who looked focused and cold, and she knew that neither of them would have the patience for her worries. They wouldn’t see the need in what she wanted, and she knew she was probably overthinking it. But that didn’t mean that she didn’t want to talk about it.

 

“You’re dismissed!” Sanada called out and everyone started to move toward the locker room to change. Mac walked in silence to her locker room and changed quickly after checking on Nao who was sleeping in her bag. She smiled and closed her bag again and changed it so it was muggle friendly again.

Stepping out of the locker room she saw Daiki and Tetsuya standing awkwardly side by side, Shintaro was just stepping out of the locker room as well just behind Seijuro and Atsushi.

“You didn’t practice today, Mac,” Ryota commented as he jogged up beside her to catch up just as they left the gym and started to walk toward the gate.

“No, coach needed me to do something for him for the second-string,” Mac shrugged.

They all fell silent as they walked through the schoolyard and Mac couldn’t help but remember a time when they would have been joking and making plans to go to a local grocery store to hang out.

“Mac!” a cheerful voice called making Mac look to the side and a smile spread on her face as she spotted Kiyoshi standing there with a large smile on his face. She quickened her steps as she walked toward him.

“Kiyoshi-san, what are you doing here?” she asked but smiled at him all the same.

He grinned and rubbed the back of his head looking a little sheepish.

“Thought you might want to come and play some streetball with me,” he said, “I haven’t seen you in a while.”

Mac felt her cheeks heat up for some reason and ducked her head to hide it, but a smile played on her lips as well.

“Ok,” she said looking back up at the teen before her and for some reason her heart skipped a beat at the grin on his face. Had he always been so handsome? She blinked at the last thought and pushed it away, she wasn’t sure why she thought that.

“Great,” he said.

Mac smiled a little and glanced behind her suddenly remembering that her friends were watching them, she noticed Kiyoshi also looking at them and got a pensive look in his brown eyes. She noticed that Daiki and Seijuro looked suspicious and was watching with narrow eyes. Ryota was looking curious but also with a small frown, while Shintaro looked like he tried to seem uninterested but was watching rather closely as well. Atsushi looked confused but had tensed slightly. It was only Tetsuya who looked like he was unbothered by the fact that a Kiyoshi was talking to her.

Letting out a long suffering sigh she turned back to Kiyoshi and smiled a little.

“I’ll just have to let Daiki know,” she said and he nodded.

 

Mac jogged over to the others again and ignored the looks she got. She looked at Daiki who scowled at her.

“Who’s he?” Daiki asked.

Mac looked at him with a blank look for a moment, of course he didn’t remember Kiyoshi. She wondered if any of the others did.

“A friend,” Mac said simply, “I’m going with him for a while. Tell Ayano-san that I will be home later, ok?”

“But…” Daiki started.

“Bye!” Mac waved and turned to jog back to where Kiyoshi was waiting looking relaxed and unbothered by the stares or rather glares he was receiving. Mac was impressed that he managed to just ignore the fact that Seijuro and Daiki both were glaring at him, she knew that most would be affected.

“Ready?” he asked causing a swirl of butterflies move in her stomach.

“Yes,” she said hoping she didn’t sound as breathless as she thought.

 

“How are you doing?” Kiyoshi asked when they reached their park and Mac had taken Nao out of her bag, she was grateful that Kiyoshi only arched a brow but didn’t ask any questions.

“Alright,” she smiled slightly, “trying to stay positive.”

“Good,” he said, “they’re still your friends, though. I could see it in the way they kept glaring at me.”

He laughed and she shook her head a little but smiled as well.

“They’re being overprotective,” she sighed, “but, yeah, they’re my friends.”

He smiled that proud smile of his and she swallowed and looked away, not sure why she was suddenly so affected by his smiles. She wanted to make him smile more, and to be the reason why he smiled.

Again pushing her thoughts away she stole the ball he was holding making him blink before starting to chase her over the court with a loud laugh. She giggled as she twisted around to keep him from reaching the ball and bounced it between her legs as she turned and spun around with him a few steps behind.

 

“So, how is your team coming along?” Mac asked a little out of breath as she was sitting in the middle of the court with the ball lying on the ground beside Kiyoshi.

“Well, we’re six members now,” Kiyoshi grinned, “I finally managed to convince Hyuga to join us. He never wanted to play again….”

Mac frowned when Kiyoshi suddenly stopped and she glanced over at him to see him frown slightly and she frowned herself. Why did he….then her eyes widen as she recognised the name.

“Hyuga…do you mean Hyuga Junpei?” Mac asked.

He looked slightly surprised but he nodded.

“He…gave up basketball?” Mac asked in a small voice.

“Yes,” Kiyoshi said looking at her and Mac bowed her head letting her hair hide her face from him. She knew without having him say it what the reason was. Them. Her. She fisted her hands.

“I remember him,” Mac whispered, “we played them last year and…we won. They gave up playing and we…we didn’t. I…”

Mac was barely aware that Kiyoshi was moving closer to her as she felt a wave of guilt and pain hit her at the knowledge that someone had given up basketball because of her team. While she knew that some might do so, it had only been an abstract idea. This…this was real .

“I’m sorry…” she whispered.

“Hey,” Kiyoshi said, “it’s not your fault.”

“He stopped because of us,” Mac protested.

“He took a break,” Kiyoshi said. “He’s playing again now. You can’t take everything on your shoulders, Mac.”

Mac just shook her head, she couldn’t shake the guilt she felt but she knew it wouldn’t do any good dwelling on it. She glanced over at Kiyoshi who was watching her with a serious expression on his face, she nodded but could see that he didn’t believe her. He sighed, though, and smiled a little letting it go.

“Anyway, we have him and with him joined Izuki, Koganei and Mitobe joined after them again and last is Tsuchiba.” Kiyoshi continued.

“And did you get a coach?” Mac asked.

“Well,” Kiyoshi said making her raise her brow at him, “we asked a classmate named Aida Riko. She’s really good and can read the game very well. Her dad is a coach and she’s learned a lot from him.”

Mac blinked surprised at that, “wow.”

“It wasn’t easy though,” Kiyoshi grinned as he remembered it and launched into the tale of how they tried to convince a reluctant Riko to join them as their coach. How they tried to follow her around school and finally each of them made a statement on a school assembly from the rooftop shouting out their goals and what they wanted from playing basketball, even setting a punishment if they didn’t succeed.

Mac was laughing at the end of it and had to dry her eyes from tears springing out because she laughed so much. When she calmed down she looked up to see Kiyoshi look at her with something in his eyes she couldn’t read and she forced herself to look away quickly.

“She sounds interesting,” Mac said.

“She’s tough and demands the best from us,” Kiyoshi said, “but that’s what we want.”

Mac nodded and pulled a leg up so she could rest her chin on top of it and watched Nao chase a mouse or something at the edge of the court.

“Coach talked to me today,” she suddenly said.

“Oh?” Kiyoshi asked interested and curious.

“He wants me to find someone to teach analysing games to and how to be a manager like I am,” Mac said. “I don’t know if I can do it.”

Kiyoshi hummed and didn’t say anything right away making Mac wonder if he was going to answer at all. She was about to say something again when he spoke up.

“I can understand that, but I’m sure you can,” he said. “He wouldn’t ask if he didn’t trust that you could do it. You’re smart and talented, and have a way to see things others miss. All you have to do is help others learn what to look for and how to best use it in their own way. If you remember that they’re different from you and help them find out how to use their own talents I’m sure you’ll do fine.”

Mac blinked and blushed at the compliments from him while she thought about what he said, and she thought it made sense. It had helped to tell someone her worries and have them acknowledged. To have someone believe in her, it made her smile.

Chapter Text

3rd year – Teiko

 

Mac walked into the house with a smile on her face, she was still thinking about Kiyoshi and the way he smiled at her. Her stomach fluttered lightly as she and she felt a blush warm her cheeks when she remembered how he ruffled her hair when they said goodbye. She glanced down at the phone in her hand that now held his number and wondered if he really was going to call her like he said he would. He was a year older than her, so why would he want to call her?

“You’re back, nee-chan,” Sayuri said interrupting her thoughts.

Mac blinked and looked at the younger girl standing in front of her, she had a book in her hands and Mac knew she must have been in the living room reading. Sayuri really loved reading.

“Um, yeah,” Mac nodded, “what book are you reading?”

“Jane Austen,” Sayuri said, “the one you got me for my birthday.”

Mac smiled a little and put Nao down on the floor but predictably he kept close by her legs. She had given Sayuri the collected works of Jane Austen for her birthday when she turned 9 the week before when she had been wishing to read her books for a long time. Mac didn’t care that Sayuri might be a little young for the books, she loved to read and Mac wanted to encourage that love.

“You like it?” Mac asked following Sayuri back to the living room and sat down on the sofa.

“I like it,” Sayuri smiled and started to talk about the books and how much she liked it. Mac sat there listening and thought a little sadly that this would end soon. She would move and her time with Daiki and his siblings like this would come to an end. She knew she would still see them, but it wouldn’t be the same. It wouldn’t be the everyday things or moments with them anymore.

“Mac, you’re back,” Ayano smiled at her and Mac glanced to the clock, she had been back for 30 minutes already and been talking to Sayuri the whole time. She smiled at Ayano a little sheepishly.

“Yeah, got back 30 minutes ago,” Mac said, “just got distracted talking to Sayuri about her book. Sorry, forgot to tell you I was back.”

“No problem,” Ayano smiled warmly and glanced at the happy smile on Sayuri’s face. Just then Shiro and Daiki entered the living room and Shiro beamed when he saw her running over to give her a hug. Nao tensed in her lap but allowed the boy to come close enough to hug her, he had gotten better with Shiro and Sayuri.

“Where did you go?” Daiki asked making Mac look up at her best friend at the tone in his voice. She frowned when she took in his stiff posture and arms crossed over his chest.

“Did you go somewhere, Mac-nee?” Shiro asked curiously.

Sayuri was looking curiously between Daiki and Mac while Ayano sighed softly. Mac glanced down at Shiro and smiled a little at him.

“I went to the court to play some basketball with a friend of mine,” Mac said.

“He plays basketball?” Daiki asked, “who is he? He’s not one of the guys we used to play with…”

Mac looked up at him with a blank look on her face for a long moment as she deliberated what she wanted to say. It hurt slightly that Daiki didn’t even recognise Kiyoshi, but at the same time she was hesitant in telling Daiki about him. Mac frowned at her thoughts, why would she feel hesitant in telling Daiki? She told him practically everything… but this… it felt weird and almost wrong, but she couldn’t figure out why.

“You’ve met him before, Daiki,” Mac finally said.

“No, I haven’t,” Daiki protested quickly with a deep scowl.

“Daiki…” Ayano said and there was a clear warning in her voice.

“You have,” Mac said stubbornly. “Kiyoshi Teppei, he played for Shoei. We played them last autumn and he was the only one who didn’t give up playing us.”

Daiki got a look of realisation on his face before he frowned again.

“Why did he come to see you today, then?” he scowled. “It’s not like we just played them.”

“He’s my friend,” Mac said trying not to blush but knew she failed when she saw the arch brow from Ayano and the way Daiki’s eyes narrowed. “We’ve met and played basketball several times since we played him.”

“You never told me…” Daiki said sounding hurt. “And why…”

“I don’t need your permission to see my friends, Daiki,” Mac snapped getting frustrated by his constant frown and questions. She didn’t want to defend her friendship with Kiyoshi to Daiki, but it hurt to see the disapproval in his blue eyes. She got up and made sure to keep a good hold of Nao. “Besides, you don’t want to come and play streetball anymore, Daiki. I still like it, and so does he. I’m not going to stop just because you don’t want to anymore.”

Ayano sighed again as she listened to the two best friends argue, she was not lost to the jealousy she saw in her son but she wasn’t sure he was aware that what he was feeling was jealousy. She was worried he would push Mac away if he continued like this; she might have to talk to her son soon. Though, she didn’t want to rush anything either. They were after all just kids still.

 

Mac fell back on her bed and closed her eyes. The good feeling she had from her afternoon spent with Kiyoshi was almost gone. Why was Daiki so difficult? She sighed and smiled slightly when she felt Nao lick her chin. She didn’t like fighting with Daiki, she hated feeling that he was upset with her. Sighing, yet again, she sat up in her bed and looked at the stable of books on her desk. She had homework, both magical and muggle. The pile didn’t look tempting at all, but she knew she had to get started or she would not be able to sleep at all.

Working through her potion homework she was startled out of her concentration by the buzzing from her phone signalling a text coming in. She reached for her phone and opened the text.

Hi Mac! Just wanted to make sure you got home safe? You ok? – Teppei

Mac smiled a little and typed a quick reply.

Hi, I got home safe and I’m fine. Just doing my homework now. What about you? – Mac

She turned back to her homework and had written a few lines before her phone buzzed again making her stomach lurch in anticipation.

Good. I’m also doing homework, had to help grandpa with something after I got home so a little late. I’ll let you focus on your homework. I hope we can meet again soon and play some more basket or just hang out. You’re a great friend, Mac. - Teppei

The smile on her face grew and she felt her cheeks heat up slightly and was glad she was alone in her room so no one saw her blush again. Why did she blush like this just because of a text? It wasn’t like her. She couldn’t understand her feelings or why her thoughts lingered on him since she came home.

You’re a good grandson. I probably should focus on the homework, although it is boring. I would love to play more basketball with you or just hang out. –Mac

Sending the reply she put her phone down and forced herself to focus on the potion essay again, she knew Sato would not accept anything but the best she could do and being distracted by a boy wouldn’t be an excuse good enough.

 

Mac inhaled deeply as she entered the gym for the early practice, she was tired from her magic lessons and felt like just going home and sleep despite knowing it wouldn’t be possible. She hid her yawn behind her hand as she sat down on the bench waiting for the coach to show up and for the rest of the team to come.

“You look tired,” Tetsuya’s voice sounded and Mac glanced to her right to see him sitting down next to her. She hadn’t heard him come up to her.

“I am,” she admitted. “I wish I could go home to sleep.”

“Did you not sleep well?” Tetsuya asked worriedly.

“Not too well,” Mac said hating the fact she couldn’t tell him the truth. That she had been through a long lesson in magical defence and had been practicing duelling and defending herself in duels. Professor Sato had been particularly harsh during the day’s lesson and she was now too exhausted to think straight.

“Perhaps you should sit this one out,” Tetsuya said referring to the practice. “I’m sure Sanada-sensei will allow you to rest.”

“No,” Mac shook her head. “I’ll be fine, Tetsu.”

She refused to skip practices, she wasn’t going to start doing it and she would be there even if she were almost falling asleep. She saw the worry in his teal blue eyes and smiled slightly at him to reassure him that she was ok.

“There you are, Mac,” Ryota exclaimed as he barged into their conversation and sat down on the floor in front of Mac. She arched a brow at the dramatic model who was watching her with a curious look in his yellow eyes. She noticed the others following at a more sedate pace and soon sat down either on the bench or on the floor as well.

“So I am,” Mac said stoically, “what do you want?”

“Who was the boy meeting you yesterday?” Seijuro asked coldly.

Mac looked at him with a raised brow and saw the narrow eyes and the tense shoulders, she could tell he was in his overprotective possessive mood and sighed inwardly. He was almost as bad as Daiki.

“You don’t remember him?” Mac asked making them frown.

“He’s Kiyoshi-san from Shoei,” Tetsuya said calmly and Mac knew he probably had recognised him the day before. “We played him before.”

Seijuro’s eyes widened before he narrowed his eyes as he looked at Mac.

“I didn’t know you were friends,” he accused.

Mac sighed. “Like I told Daiki yesterday; you don’t decide who my friends are or who I’m going to meet. Kiyoshi is a friend and I enjoy hanging out with him.”

“I’ll crush him if he hurts Mac-chin,” Atsushi said glowering down at the floor.

Mac rolled her eyes and was relieved when she noticed that the coach was there and got to her feet. She walked passed her friends without saying anything and stood with the others to listen to the coach.

 

Mac glanced up from her book when she noticed someone sitting down opposite her and arched a brow when she saw Seijuro. He was watching her and she closed her book as he settled down. She had found a quiet table in the cafeteria wanting to read a little in between classes not feeling up to the antics from her friends at the moment.

“May I help you, Seijuro?” Mac asked breaking the silence.

After a moment he sighed and pulled out the shogi board and she smiled a little. It had been a while since they had played. She took it for what it was, an apology without really saying sorry. Seijuro wasn’t one for actually admitting that he was wrong, but she was good at reading him.

“Let’s play,” she agreed and smiled at the small smile that crossed his face.

They played in silence during their lunch break and Mac relaxed as she focused on the pieces and let the sounds from the students around her wash over her and fade into the background. She frowned as she saw him getting the advantage and tried to see a way out of it. She could practically feel the smugness rolling off him, and wanted to shake him for it but didn’t.

“Fine, I lose,” Mac sighed just as the bell rang signalling the end of their lunch break. “One day, Seijuro, I will beat you.”

“You can try,” he smirked.

 

Daiki was waiting for her when the day was over and Mac smiled slightly as she joined him as they started to walk home. He had his bag casually thrown over his shoulder and looked more relaxed than before, but there was something in him that had her worried.

“You ok, Daiki?” she asked after a while.

“I’m fine,” he shrugged, “are you ready for the weekend?”

Mac sighed and glanced over at him to see him looking at her worriedly.

“You mean ready to move?” she asked.

“Yes,” he nodded.

“I don’t think I’ll ever be ready,” Mac admitted, “but…it’s just something I have to do. I will miss living with you and your family, Daiki.”

“We’re your family too, Kenzie,” Daiki corrected her. “You’ll always be our family and it doesn’t matter that you can’t live with us anymore. You’re one of us.”

Mac blinked away tears at the honesty in his voice. He wasn’t looking at her and a small blush was in his cheeks as he stared at the road in front of them, but she didn’t doubt that he meant it.

“Thank you, Daiki,” she whispered and he grunted apparently all out of emotional talk and Mac chuckled slightly.

They reached the house and Mac noticed a car outside she hadn’t seen before, she exchanged a look with Daiki before entering the house.

“We’re home!” Daiki called out.

Mac followed her best friend into the living room and paused when she saw who was seated on the sofa talking to Takehiro just as Ayano came into the room with coffee and tea.

“Hello Mac,” her uncle smiled as he got to his feet.

“Kag…uncle Tarou,” Mac said surprised, “I didn’t know you were coming…”

“No, you wouldn’t,” he said. “I thought I wanted to meet the family you lived with up until now and see how you lived.”

Mac nodded and saw how he looked to Daiki with a curious look in his eyes.

“This is must be your best friend Aomine Daiki that you told me about” Tarou said.

“Yes,” Mac nodded. “Daiki this is my uncle Kagami Tarou.”

Daiki looked at him for a moment and Mac knew he was trying to read the older man.

“Nice to meet you,” Daiki said gruffly.

“You too,” Tarou said a little amused.

Mac sat down on the sofa next to her uncle and Daiki sat down in the chair closest to her. She knew he did it to show support and she felt warmth at the fact that he still took note to show her support even when they had argued the day before.

“Here,” Ayano said with a soft smile as she held out a cup with steaming coffee.

“Thank you, Aomine-san,” Tarou smiled accepting the cup.

They sat in silence for a little bit before Tarou looked at Mac while taking a sip of his coffee.

“How was school, Mac?” he asked.

“Alright,” Mac shrugged. “Nothing to exciting happening.”

“You almost fell asleep,” Daiki scoffed.

“You’re not one to talk, Daiki,” Mac said.

“You should have skipped practice to rest,” Daiki said giving her a look, “or just do the analysing thing and not play. Sanada-sensei would have let you do it and so would Akashi.”

“Why were you tired?” Tarou interrupted the small argument.

“Just had a long day before school with magic lessons,” Mac said casually, “I had to practice defence and duelling, and it’s tiring. So, for the rest of the day I was tired. Practice was fine, I didn’t need to skip it.”

Daiki huffed but didn’t say anything else.

“Sounds like a lot,” Tarou commented looking at her with a worried look in his eyes. “You do that every day?”

Mac nodded before telling him more about her magic lessons together with her muggle lessons, feeling better to talk about something concrete and she hadn’t really gotten into it last time.

“I must say I’m impressed,” Tarou said when she finished. “Not many kids would take on such a full schedule.”

“I didn’t want to leave my friends,” Mac admitted softly.

Tarou nodded and looked at her and over at Daiki who was smiling slightly even as he had a grumpy look on his face as he met his eyes. Amused Tarou arched a brow.

 

They talked for a while and after a while the conversation turned to the practical aspects of her moving in with Tarou and his son. Mac tensed slightly but knew it was necessary to talk about it.

“I think that Saturday might be the best day to make the move,” Tarou said. “It will give you time to settle in with us, Mac.”

Mac nodded knowing he was right, but her stomach was in knots at the idea of moving. It was suddenly so real and she couldn’t push the thoughts away any more. She fiddled with the hem of her shirt not looking up. She heard Ayano and Takehiro and Tarou start to discuss the move and make arrangements on how and when’s.

A knocking sound interrupted them and Mac blinked startled out of her thoughts and looked around.

“What is that?” Daiki asked speaking up for the first time in a while.

Mac looked down at her bag and felt her eyes widen in realisation.

“Oh,” she said and opened her bag quickly. “I’m sorry Nao!”

Nao barked a little looking unhappy and pouting, making Mac smile at the adorable sight but also felt sad for forgetting about her little fox.

“Yow-wow-ow!”

“I’m sorry, Nao, didn’t mean to forget about you,” Mac apologized. “Shh, don’t be like that.”

He huffed the way only a fox could and Mac patted him aware that the others were watching them, but ignored them. She smiled when Nao licked her hand and scratched the back of his ear.

“Um…” Tarou was staring at Nao and Mac making her realise she hadn’t told him about her pet. She held onto Nao tighter as she hoped that it wouldn’t be a problem for him.

“Oh, I forgot,” Mac said, “this is Nao. He’s mine.”

“He’s a fox,” Tarou stated.

“Yes,” Mac nodded, “he’s a magical fox, though. He was saved as a cub when his family were killed. He took a liking to me and has been with me for months now.”

Tarou looked at Nao who blinked and growled softly as he stood protectively on Mac’s lap. Mac sighed and patted him to reassure him that she was fine.

“He’s protective of me and not too fond of strangers,” Mac explained simply.

Tarou nodded still shocked at the way the fox seemed to curl up in Mac’s lap and close his eyes. He hadn’t expected her to have a pet, but knew he couldn’t refuse to let her bring him. He briefly thought that Taiga would probably protest the pet, but if what he could see was correct he wouldn’t go near anyone but Mac.

 

The rest of the week went quickly and soon it was Saturday and Mac was packed and ready to move, she was seated on the bed looking over her room that was now empty expect the furniture that had been in the room when she got it. She petted Nao absentmindedly as her mind flashed to all the good times she had in this room with Daiki or just alone.

“Kenzie, Kenzie, Kenzie,” Daiki chanted and Mac sighed looking up from her book and saw Daiki standing just inside the door with a basketball under his arm. “Kenzie.”

“What?” she asked annoyed.

“Come out and play with me,” Daiki said twirling the ball on the top of his finger. “Kenzie…”

Mac shook her head as she closed the book and scoped off the bed. “Fine.”

Daiki grinned widely.

That had been in the beginning of her stay when he still liked playing, it was strange to think that it was only a year ago since that happened. It felt much longer.

“I don’t understand this,” Daiki scoffed and pushed his book away on the floor where he was seated. Mac looked down at him and smiled slightly.

“What don’t you understand? Maybe I can help you with it,” she asked sitting down next to him and pulled the book closer again.

Daiki huffed but pointed out the math problem he didn’t understand and Mac looked at it for a moment before starting to explain it to him. He scowled but started to work on it again.

“I see you’re hard at work,” Takehiro commented from the door where he had paused on his way to his and Ayano’s room to change after getting home from work.

“We try,” Mac smiled at the glare on Daiki’s face as he looked up at his father.

“Just listen to Mac, Daiki,” Takehiro laughed, “I’m sure she’ll get you through school.”

“Whatever,” Daiki muttered but looked back at the book. Mac met Takehiro’s eyes and smiled when he mouthed ‘thank you’ to her.

Mac smiled as she remembered just one of many study session they shared in here, while Daiki always complained and dragged his feet he would come and ask for help or allow her to drag him into the room so she could be sure he did his work. Who would do that now? Mac frowned slightly at the sudden worry that sprung up in her mind. She had to find another way to make sure Daiki did his homework and actually tried to do it.

Finally getting up she put Nao on the ground and picked up her bag as she started to walk toward the door but paused and looked over the room once more with a sad smile on her face. She would miss it.

“Are you ready, sweetie?” Ayano asked from the door and Mac turned to look at the older woman. She saw the way Ayano tried to keep calm and smile for her, and Mac knew she had to do the same. Takehiro was right behind his wife and smiled a little as well but there was something sad in his eyes.

“Yeah,” Mac nodded smiling a little, “just…remembered my time here.”

“Good,” Ayano sniffled slightly before reaching out and pulling Mac into her arms hugging her tightly. Mac tensed slightly before allowing herself to hug Daiki’s mum back.

“You’re always welcome here, Mac,” Ayano said when she pulled back but kept her hands on Mac’s shoulders as she met her eyes. Right then and there Mac couldn’t help but think that Daiki resembled his mother greatly. “No matter what, you’re a part of this family and I expect frequent visits, alright?”

Mac swallowed the lump in her throat before she nodded making Ayano smile and gently push a strand of Mac’s unruly hair away from her face.

Takehiro gave Mac a quick hug as well and echoed his wife’s words and Mac could only smile and nod in acceptance and promise she would come and visit.

 

“No!” Shiro glared with his arms crossed over his chest. Sayuri was standing next to her twin and looked sad but not as angry as Shiro looked.

“Come on, Shiro,” Ayano looked at her son, “you have to say bye to Mac.”

“She can’t leave!” Shiro yelled. “She’s my sister! She lives here!”

Mac winced at the hurt and angry tone in Shiro’s voice and wished she could fix this. She blinked away tears that threatened to escape as she looked at the stubborn tilt of Shiro’s head and the way his lips trembled in withholding sobs.

“I’m going to miss you, Mac-nee,” Sayuri said quietly having moved from her brother’s side and was now standing in front of Mac. Her blue eyes were sad and tears had escaped her eyes. Mac reached out and dried her tears with her fingers before pulling the girl into a hug.

“I’m going to miss you too, Sayuri,” Mac murmured quietly in her ear, “but I’m always going to be there for you. You can call me anytime you wish, ok?”

Sayuri nodded and smiled a little as she pulled back.

Mac looked to Shiro who refused to look at her and saw the apologetic look from Ayano. Mac walked over to the little boy and put her hands on his shoulders feeling how tense he felt.

“Shiro,” Mac said quietly. “I will miss you. I’m sorry you’re sad and upset with me, but this is something I have to do. I have to move in with my uncle and cousin. But I will always miss you and be here for you when you need me. I hope we can still go out and play football together like we have before, and maybe you could come and visit me sometimes?”

She could feel the struggle inside of Shiro before he suddenly lunched himself into her arms and sobbed against her shoulder. She held him close and stroked his hair as she whispered comfortingly into his ear.

“You won’t forget me?” he whispered when he calmed down and had pulled slightly out of her arms so he could look at her.

“I’ll never forget you, Shiro,” Mac said surely. “It will be impossible to forget you.”

“Promise?” he asked.

“Promise,” she promised and reached out to dry his tears as well before pressing a soft kiss to his forehead. “I’m just a phone call away, ok?”

 

Finally it was only Daiki left and Mac already felt exhausted. He was standing leaned against the wall and had watched her say goodbye to his family in silence.

“I guess it’s my turned now, eh?” Daiki gave her a small smile and she chuckled slightly.

“Yeah, but it’s not like I won’t see you soon,” Mac said trying to put on a brave face.

He smiled slightly but she knew he saw through her, but appreciated that he didn’t called her out on the front she put up. She smiled back and suddenly he was hugging her. She hid her face against his shoulder and allowed a few tears to escape when no one could see it.

“Remember what I told you,” Daiki said quietly, “you’re a part of this family. No matter what.”

“Thank you, Daiki,” Mac said pulling herself together and smiled at him. “I’ll see you Monday, ok?”

“Of course,” he smiled but there was something sad in his smile and she felt he held something back from her but she wasn’t sure what.

 

Mac sighed as she placed her last bag on the floor of the room that was now hers, it was almost the same size that the one she’d had at Daiki’s, but a little smaller. She liked the large window that overlooked the park outside and the city in the background. There were a knock on the door and she turned around to see her cousin standing in the door looking awkward with his hands in his pockets and eyes shifting over the room before landing on Nao who was resting on her bed.

“Woah!” Taiga exclaimed loudly and took a step back.

Mac smiled slightly at the reaction and walked over to the bed and put a hand on Nao’s head when he raised his head at the loud exclamation and growled slightly.

“He won’t hurt you,” Mac said quietly, “he’s a wary of strangers so he growls a lot, but as long as you don’t try to attack him, he won’t hurt you.”

Taiga looked at her and then back at Nao.

“Why do you have a fox?” he asked.

“A friend gave him to me,” Mac shrugged with a fond smile. “He was just a cub then, and had just lost his family by the hands of humans. He liked me and wouldn’t let me leave without him, so my friend gave him to me. Said I was the best to take care of him.”

Taiga grumbled slightly and eyed Nao suspiciously but stepped back into the room. Mac couldn’t help but notice how he kept looking at Nao.

“May I help you with something?” Mac asked bringing Taiga’s attention back on her.

“Dad said to offer my help,” Taiga shrugged, “and said that dinner will be ready soon.”

Mac looked at him, she wanted to say she had it under control but something stopped the words from coming out. Her cousin looked uncomfortable and it was the first time he had talked to her directly and without his dad in the same room. Perhaps she should take this opportunity to see what he was like and try to get to know him.

“Um, alright,” Mac said a little unsurely, “I…I could use a little help with putting my books up, if you want to do that?”

Taiga nodded and Mac pointed to the box holding her books, she started to put her clothes into the dressed while he worked on the books. Nao had put his head back on his paws but kept an eye on Taiga.

“Dinner is ready,” Tarou called from the kitchen slash living room and both teens stopped what they were doing to look toward the door.

 

Mac was the first one up the next morning and padded into the kitchen in her pyjamas with Nao right behind her. She found something to eat for Nao before pausing looking at the clock. It was almost eight and she knew the others would be up soon. It felt strange not expecting Shiro or Sayuri to come into the kitchen with her and not having to wait for Daiki to finally wake up. She opened the refrigerator and started to take out the food she would need to make breakfast.

“You made breakfast.”

Mac jumped before spinning around to see Taiga standing there already dressed as he stared at the food placed on the table.

“You scared me!” Mac grumbled holding a hand over her heart. “Make some sound or something!”

“I did,” Taiga protested as he sat down at the table. “You just didn’t hear me.”

Mac shook her head and turned back to the coffee machine just as it finished dripping and she poured the coffee into three cups and placed them on the table just as her uncle entered the room and looked surprised when he saw the breakfast already finished.

“You cooked,” he said surprised. “Thank you, Mac.”

Mac smiled slightly and sat down feeling Taiga watching her. She started to eat in silence and was aware that the others did the same.

“It’s good,” Taiga commented after a while.

“Thanks,” Mac said softly.

“You like to cook?” Taiga asked.

“Sometimes,” Mac shrugged looking up and met his eyes. “I liked it better when I lived with Daiki, but not so much when I lived with the Dursley’s.”

Taiga frowned slightly, “why?”

“With Daiki and his family they would appreciate that I cooked and I could eat with them,” Mac said quietly, “I liked that. It was different with the Dursley’s.”

Mac wouldn’t say anything else about it and Taiga seemed to realise that so he didn’t press the matter, but he did frown and saw the same frown on his father’s face. Though, Tarou was also looking pleased to see the two cousin’s talk and interact.

“Can you cook?” Mac asked brining the conversation off her and over at her cousin.

“A little,” Taiga said, “but not too much.”

“I see. Do you like it?” Mac looked at him and saw him nod.

“I could show you some if you want,” Mac offered shyly.

Taiga looked startled at her before he smiled slightly.

“Sure,” he said.

Tarou smiled when he saw his son smile properly for the first time since they arrived back to Tokyo. He looked to the girl who had made it possible and saw that she was focused on her breakfast again and was slipping some pieces of fruit to Nao.

 

Mac was still trying to get the room the way she liked it when her phone rang and smiled when she saw Kiyoshi’s name on the caller-id.

“Hi Kiyoshi-san,” Mac greeted when she answered the phone.

“Hi Mac,” Kiyoshi answered. “How are you?”

“Alright,” Mac said settling on top of her bed leaned against the headboard.

“You don’t sound so sure,” Kiyoshi said a note of worry in his tone.

“I’m fine, Kiyoshi-san,” Mac smiled even if he couldn’t see it, “promise.”

“Ok,” he sighed, “are you busy?”

“I’m just settling in,” Mac said looking at the mess in her room, though it was getting better.

“Settling in?” he asked confused.

“I didn’t tell you?” Mac asked surprised, sure she had told him. “I moved in with my new uncle and cousin yesterday. I am now in the process of getting my stuff in their new places.”

“Oh, no you didn’t tell me,” Kiyoshi said, “are you ok with the move?”

“It’s strange, but… I think maybe it could be ok,” Mac admitted, “but I miss Daiki and the kids, and Ayano and Takehiro…”

“I can understand that,” Kiyoshi said. “Let me know if you need to talk, ok?”

“Ok,” Mac blushed lightly. “Tell me about your week.”

Kiyoshi laughed and complied as he started to tell her about the latest practices he’d been through and how crazy his coach was. She laughed at the antics of his team and thought they reminded her of how her team was before.

Mac looked up when there was a knock on the door and saw Taiga standing in the doorway looking at her.

“I have to go, Kiyoshi,” Mac said, “my cousin is here and looks like he wants to talk.”

“Alright,” Kiyoshi said easily and she could hear the smile in his voice, “I’ll see you soon, Mac. Take care.”

“Sure, see you,” Mac said and hung up ignoring the way her heart beat a little harder.

“Boyfriend?” Taiga asked with a arched brow.

“No!” Mac protested but wondered why it felt like someone clutched her heart. It wasn’t like she wanted him to be… She shook her head and looked at Taiga. “Did you need something?”

“I hoped you would help me make dinner,” Taiga admitted. “Dad is on the phone and I thought…um, never mind…”

He turned around and Mac smiled a little amused.

“Ok, I’ll help,” she said and Taiga turned around and smiled at her.

 

Mac had fun making food with Taiga and she couldn’t help but compare him with Dudley. While Taiga was bigger and taller than her, he was fitter than Dudley had been and stronger. He didn’t scowl everytime he saw her or sneered, which were different. He looked like he enjoyed himself too, so she relaxed a little as she worked side by side with him.

“No, don’t cut it like that,” Mac corrected him, “you should cut it in smaller pieces, they will cook better.”

“Alright,” Taiga nodded and did as she said making her nod in approval.

“So, tell me something about you,” Mac broke the silence and glanced at him. He looked at the meat he was cutting and she noticed the way his hand tightened on the knife. “Or not… I just thought it would be good to get to know you a little…”

Taiga sighed and glanced at her.

“It’s not much to tell,” he said with a shrug. “I like sports, I don’t like school.”

Mac shook her head but didn’t force him to elaborate knowing it wouldn’t do anything good, and it wasn’t like she felt like pouring her soul out for him either.

Chapter Text

3rd year – Teiko – two weeks later

 

Mac looked up from her homework when she heard the door open and the scoffing of feet against the floor. She glanced at the clock and saw that it was getting late nearly ten. Her uncle was away for a couple of days so she knew it must be her cousin who came back now. They hadn’t talked much since she moved in two weeks ago, it was like they both was shy or worried about something. She had noticed that he was looking at her more and had a curious look in his eyes sometimes. But he never initiated a conversation, and Mac worried. Did it mean he didn’t want to talk to her? Did he fear her like Dudley had?

Hesitating a moment and staring at the door she got up noticing that Nao barely lifted his head to watch her go before going back to sleep, and walked into the living room to find Taiga standing by the counter.

“There’s some dinner in the fridge for you,” Mac said smiling slightly when her cousin jumped.

“Oh,” he said, “thank you.”

Mac nodded and looked at him closer, he was wearing training clothes and looked sad. She watched as he put the plate she had prepared for him in the micro and noticed that he seemed lost in thoughts as he stared at the plate that was swirling around inside. It was the first time she’d seen him look like that and she was worried and slightly curious about what was wrong with her cousin.

Had it been Daiki she would have asked already and worked until she found out what was wrong, same with Seijuro…but she had no idea how to start with Taiga. She could read Daiki well enough that even when he didn’t talk she could find out what was wrong, with Seijuro she would be direct and blunt, but with Taiga… perhaps she should try to observe him silently for a while and try to figure out how to best approach the subject.

The micro stopped but Taiga didn’t move, and Mac frowned slightly before she moved forward and took the plate out and placed it on the table. She looked at her cousin to see him still standing where he had not giving a sign of having noticed that she had taken the food out.

“Taiga…” Mac said keeping her voice even, “it’s done.”

He started and looked around until he saw the food on the table. Without saying anything he walked to the table not looking at her at all. She hesitated for a moment longer before settling on the sofa with a book she had laying on the table from before. She didn’t want to leave her cousin alone in case he needed her, it was strange actually. She normally she felt this kind of worry for Daiki or one of her friends on the team. The fact that Taiga was her cousin shouldn’t really influence her since she was more reminded of Dudley by the title. Yet, she worried about him.

 

“Did you do your homework, Daiki?” Mac asked when she caught up with her best friend outside the school. He glanced at her and shrugged making her sigh.

“Seriously,” she muttered. “Come with me during lunch.”

“I’ll be fine, Kenzie,” Daiki said.

Mac gave him a look and he gave in and nodded, “good. You have to do your homework, or the teachers will start all kinds of trouble. Do you want them to call your parents?”

He rolled his eyes but didn’t say anything, making Mac narrow her eyes at him. She followed him inside the classroom and saw Ryota surrounded by the girl in the class looking happy and his charming self. She shook her head slightly before walking over to her desk and pulled out her sketchpad and started to sketch to make the time pass until the teacher arrived. She glanced at the half finished sketch off Kiyoshi playing basketball before closing the book when the teacher started the math lesson.

Yawning and raising her hands to the air to stretch when the teacher finally ended the two hour long lesson Mac looked over and saw Daiki rub sleep out of his eyes. She sighed again, and collected her notebook and text book before stuffing them into her bag and got to her feet.

“Ready, Daiki?” she asked and he nodded without comment.

“Ready for what?” Ryota asked.

“Homework,” Mac said shortly.

“Oh, I’ll join you!” Ryota beamed, “I still have some left. I had to work at the modelling yesterday so I couldn’t finish!”

Mac just nodded and thought that this was a very familiar situation. Soon she found herself together with her friends again helping with their homework. Didn’t she just do this? Oh, right…she did it almost every day.

 

Mac sat down next to Seijuro who was sitting by himself in the gym, he glanced over at her with a questioning look in his heterochromatic eyes but Mac just smiled and pulled out her notebook and started to write in it. She tapped her pen against her lips as she thought about what Sanada had asked her, she still hadn’t seen anyone she thought would fit to teach what she knew. The girls that were on the managing team now were more interested in getting a date with the players than basketball. She wasn’t interested in teaching anyone like that.

Seijuro glanced at Mac before looking back at the file in his hands, the same pleased feeling of acceptance and peace filled him like it always did when she without prompt or demand sought him out and found a reason to join him. He was well aware that most avoided him when they could and he liked it that way, less chance of being hurt or left behind. Yet, Mac never did and he couldn’t help the smile on his lips as she did. They worked in silent and Seijuro was aware that she seemed thoughtful about something, she had these past couple of weeks but she never told him what she was thinking about. For once he didn’t ask or demand an answer, but trusted her to come to him if she needed it.

“Do you need anything, Seijuro?” Mac asked without looking up making him realise he had been watching her for too long.

“Just thinking,” Seijuro said coolly.

“Oh?” Mac finally looked up and raised a brow at him.

He smiled a little and looked back at the file not noticing the smile on her lips or the amused light in her eyes before she went back to her notebook.

Daiki paused by the door to the gym when he spotted Mac inside, he was about to go over to her when he saw Seijuro next to her. The tightness in his chest was back as he watched the two of them working together in silence, and he wondered if Mac liked Seijuro or if she liked that Kiyoshi she talked about sometimes. And why did it bother him if she liked either of them? He really couldn’t understand why, and he kept getting these looks from his mum and all she said was that he would figure it out one day. He was getting frustrated. Turning around he left the gym deciding that he would skip practice, he didn’t want to see them right now and all he wanted to do now was sleep. Maybe he would feel better after he slept. He didn’t hold much hope for that though.

 

Sato’s house

 

“In today’s lesson you’ll learn how to make what’s called a Pepperup Potion,” Professor Sato said standing beside the cauldron and behind him was the already prepared table with the ingredients she would need to make the potion.

“That sounds like a good idea,” Mac nodded remembering what she had read about the potion.

“Now, what does it do?” he asked her.

“It cures a cold,” Mac said simply.

“Side-effects?” he asked.

“Well, you get steam coming out of your ears for hours after taking the potion,” Mac said looking a little amused as she pictured Daiki with steam coming out of his ears. She couldn’t help but find it amusing.

“That’s correct,” Professor Sato said. “The potion was created by Glover Hioworth during the late 18th century, perhaps early 19th century. It’s not known why he invented it…”

“Probably was tired of having a cold,” Mac smiled slightly and her professor allowed himself a smile.

“Probably,” he agreed. “So, can you name any ingredients?”

“Mandrake root and Bicorn Horn,” Mac said thinking hard, “but I can’t remember anything else.”

“That’s fine,” Professor Sato said and Mac listened as he listed the other ingredients and wrote it down for her to remember later. He was careful to explain the way to make it and she realised that it was a complicated potion and probably the hardest she had to make yet.

She worked in silence and was aware that Professor Sato was watching her closely to make sure she didn’t make any mistakes, but appreciated that he didn’t hoover behind her doing so. He would speak up and correct her from time to time when she was about to do something wrong.

“Ok, that was good,” Professor Sato said when she had mixed everything and it was now on low simmer. “You still need to work on your precision and how to look outside of the recipe. I want you to write a essay on how to interpret the recipe and when to stick to it and when to not.”

Mac frowned but nodded, she wasn’t sure she liked potions all that much. She could do it, but it wasn’t something she picked up like she did with Defence or charms and transfiguration. It frustrated her when she didn’t get it right and sometimes she just wanted to say enough.

 

“Potter-san,” Professor Sato said bringing Mac’s attention again and look at her professor who was now seated behind his desk.

“Yes, professor?” Mac felt a little nervous but tried to hide it.

“You’ll have tests next week where we’ll test you for second year levels in your subject,” Professor Sato said.

“Already?” Mac asked surprised.

“Yes, I believe you’re ready,” he nodded, “you show great progress and I have no doubt you’ll be ready to start the next level, Potter-san.”

“Oh, ok,” Mac said smiling slightly.

“So, on Monday you’ll have your test in Defence, Charms on Tuesday, Transfiguration on Wednesday, Potions on Thursday and Friday you’ll have off after the tests,” Professor Sato listed and Mac groaned slightly at the busy week she’d have. She was already dreading it.

 

“You look…” Daichi’s voice sounded making Mac blinked and looked at the older boy.

“Your dad is trying to kill me,” Mac groaned.

“Oh?” he sounded much too amused in Mac’s opinion.

“I have test everyday next ween besides Friday,” Mac complained. “I’ll never be able to function at my other school… Seijuro will kill me for being too tired for practice and Daiki will give me that look of his and… and we have a match as well…”

“Have you told dad it’s too much?” Daichi said sitting down on the other side of her desk. She had been studying by herself for a while until Daichi came into the room.

“No,” Mac frowned slightly and blushed a little, “sorry, I didn’t mean to complain. I’ll be fine, I just have to be organized.”

Daichi looked at her for a moment before nodding and looked down at Nao who was resting by her feet.

“He’s still sceptical toward everyone who’s not you?” he asked.

“Yes,” Mac said with a fond smile, “but now I think it’s more about protecting me than anything else. He’s fine with Shiro and Sayuri, mostly, but mainly because they’re kids.”

Daichi nodded and arched a brow when he saw Nao staring at him. He looked back at his friend and smiled when he saw her already looking back at the book in front of her, she was very focused on what she had to do.

“So, how do you like your new home?” Daichi asked a little concerned, “everything goes ok?”

“It’s alright,” Mac said glancing up at him, “different, but my uncle is…nice and seems to care. My cousin is ok, but we haven’t had the chance to talk all that much yet.”

Daichi nodded and smiled at her. She smiled and looked back at her book and he took it as a sign that she had to go back to work so he got back to his feet and walked out of the office.

 

Teiko

 

Mac hurried through the hallway and toward the gym, she was late and she could picture the look on Seijuro’s face and the questions. She had been at the library trying to get ready for the next test. She had been through the test in Defence and while hard she had managed quite well, she thought. The next one was Charms and she wanted to do well in that too. That was why she had broken one of her own rules and studied for the test even at Teiko. And now she was late.

“You’re late.”

Mac groaned and turned to look at Seijuro who was standing just inside the door with a blank look on his face. She looked around and saw that the others were already practicing even Daiki was there today.

“I know,” Mac said. “I’m sorry.”

Seijuro arched a brow, “why are you late?”

“I just forgot the time,” Mac said trying to hide the stressed fiddling with the strap off her bag. “I was studying and forgot the time. It won’t happen again.”

Seijuro nodded and turned around without much of the fuss she was sure he would make. Sighing a little she hurried to the locker room to change.

“You okay?” Daiki asked when she joined them on the floor. He looked at her a little concerned.

“Yeah, just a lot to do,” Mac shrugged glancing at him. “Tests, and all.”

He nodded in understanding; he had heard her rant about all she had to do this week. He caught the ball that Ryota threw to him and Mac grinned feeling the stress leave her for a little as she focused on trying to stop Daiki from advancing.

Dribbling the ball across the court Mac passed Ryota and then Shintaro before standing in front of Seijuro who smirked at her. She rolled her eyes at him and moved to the right but he read her and managed to get a hand on the ball making her lose control of it and cursed under her breath as she turned and started to chase the ball again.

Sanada blew his whistle and Mac stopped dribbling and leaned forward using her knees to rest her hands on as she tried to catch her breath. She had worked harder than she should have, but it was like her body just acted and she needed it. The stress she had been under was a little better, but she still felt it lying underneath.

“Kenzie,” Daiki was beside her and a hand was placed on her shoulder. “Come on.”

Mac let her best friend lead her to the bench and sat down and took the water he handed her, she drank greedily from the bottle while ignoring the concerned look in his deep blue eyes. She sat there distracted as Sanada was talking her mind already on Charms and the different charms she had learned lately.

“-ac, Mac…”

Someone gently shook her shoulder and Mac blinked to see Ryota looking at her worriedly with wide yellow eyes. Behind him was Shintaro and Seijuro while Daiki was sitting beside her and Tetsuya was on the other side of her, only Atsushi was missing, all of them looking at her worriedly.

“What?” Mac blinked.

“Coach is done,” Ryota said slowly, “you didn’t even react… did you even listen to what he said?”

Mac frowned and looked around noticing that the gym was already empty. She sighed and pulled a hand over her face.

“Oh,” she said.

“What’s wrong with you?” Shintaro asked gruffly.

“Don’t be so blunt!” Ryota exclaimed. “You’re so harsh, Midorima-cchi!”

“I am not, idiot,” Shintaro huffed pushing his glasses up and Mac let the familiar banter wash over her.

She got up and felt the others watching her with various degree of worry, she felt bad for making them worry but she didn’t have time to think about it.

“I have to go,” she said and they frowned as one and had she not been so tired and distracted she would have smiled at the sight. “Sorry, but I’ll see you tomorrow.”

She grabbed her bag and hurried to the locker room to change again and get home so she could study some more.

 

“You’re in a hurry,” Tarou said making her jump as she had been on her way to her room and not seeing him. She turned and saw her uncle sitting at the sofa reading a file, he was now looking at her.

“You scared me,” Mac gasped, “I have to study.”

“Didn’t you just come home from school?” Tarou asked.

“Yeah, but I have a test in Charms tomorrow,” Mac said.

“Well, I’ll have dinner ready in about 30 minutes, so be sure to come and eat something,” Tarou said.

“Ok, thanks uncle Tarou,” Mac said and rushed into her room.

Mac was reading in her charms book when she hear her uncle call that dinner was ready, sighing she marked the page she was at and got up. Nao yapped next to her making her smile and rub his head before going to the kitchen to have dinner with her uncle and cousin.

 

Seijuro watched Mac where she sat by herself by one of the tables in the library, she looked tired but focused on whatever she was reading. He didn’t go over to her like he wanted to, but kept standing by the window just watching her.

“Akashi,” Shintaro said and Seijuro looked to the side and saw the green-haired boy glancing from him and over to Mac.

“Shintaro,” Seijuro said coolly.

He didn’t say anything as he too looked at Mac, so Seijuro looked back at his friend who was writing something down on a notebook before frowning and shaking her head like she was trying to clear it. It was Wednesday now and for the last two days she had been in here every chance she got, and she had been practicing hard every practice but at the same time looked to be distracted. She wasn’t really stopping to talk to any of them and Seijuro worried.

Just what was she doing? There were no tests or anything that should have her so focused, really. It really frustrated him that he didn’t know what she was stressing about or why she was tiring herself out like she was. He frowned as he saw her reach for her phone that was lying next to her book, he hadn’t noticed it at first, and saw the smile that crossed her face when she read whatever message that was on it. His eyes narrowed when he spotted the blush in her cheeks. Just what was making her blush like that?

More and more questions and Seijuro didn’t like it. He couldn’t protect her or help her if he didn’t know what was going on! And she didn’t talk to him or anyone really lately, and it made him worry. Was there something wrong at her new home? Did her new uncle and cousin treat her alright? She said they did…but then again, she did defend those other animal she lived with.

“What is she hiding…” Seijuro muttered to himself.

Shintaro glanced at his Captain and well, friend if one was to be really technical about it, and saw the narrowed eyes and the calculating look in said eyes. He knew that Mac was a sore spot for Seijuro and that he was more possessive and protective over her than anyone else on the team. He could see why too, because Mac was the only one who seemed to see Seijuro and not be intimidated by his controlling issues and new personality.

“Bye!” Mac called out later after another practice and the coach had just dismissed them and she was already out the door. Seijuro frowned displeased when she left in a hurry yet again and looked over at Daiki who was lazily getting his bag and started to make for the door.

“Daiki,” Seijuro called making the taller player stop and turn around so he faced Seijuro. Seijuro could see the apprehension in his eyes as he looked at him.

“Yes?” Daiki asked with a slight challenge in his tone, but Seijuro decided to let it go for now.

“What’s up with Mac lately?” he asked.

“What do you mean?” Daiki asked trying to sound like he didn’t know what he was talking about.

“You know what I mean,” Seijuro narrowed his eyes and took a step forward. “She’s stressed and doesn’t talk to anyone. Is something wrong?”

Daiki glanced around and Seijuro saw how he tensed his shoulders when he looked back at him.

“It’s not up to me to tell you,” Daiki swallowed, “she’s fine, Akashi. She’s just busy and trying to settle in at her new home. She’ll be back to normal soon enough.”

Seijuro scowled at the defiance and wanted to press Daiki until he told him what was wrong with Mac. He saw Daiki pale slightly and felt a little vindictive at the fact that he intimidated the tall Ace, he deserved it for denying him. Seijuro always got it like he wanted.

“You should ask Kenzie,” Daiki said, “I can’t tell you.”

Seijuro glared at him before turning around and walked away, only because he knew Daiki was being loyal to Mac did he let it go. It was the only reason why, and Daiki probably knew it.

 

It was getting closer to their match; it was one of the last training matches before the qualification for the Nationals started up again. And Mac was just finished with the last test for the week and felt ready to start focusing on the basketball again. She wasn’t really sure how she had gotten through all the practices or the tests, but she had. Now she just had to wait for the results and focus on her basketball again.

“You ready for the match?” Kiyoshi asked sitting down next to her on the court where she had met him to play a little before going home for the night. She tossed the ball up in the air and caught it before looking over at him.

“I guess,” she said, “I’ve been so busy this week that I almost haven’t had time to think about it, but I’ll have time to work out a strategy before the last practice tomorrow and talk to Sanada-sensei about it.”

Kiyoshi nodded but didn’t press her about why she had been busy, he had asked once and she had dismissed it making him shrug and let it go. She liked that, she was aware that Seijuro was worried and trying to figure it out. Mac sighed lightly, not sure how to explain her stressed and distracted behaviour. Seijuro wasn’t stupid and he knew her too well, so it would be hard to dismiss him.

“So, what’s new?” Kiyoshi asked causally leaning backward and looking at her.

Mac glanced at him but before she could answer her phone rang and she sighed making Kiyoshi smile a little and motion for her to answer. She pulled it out of her bag and Nao jumped out at the same time making Kiyoshi blink but smile goofily at the fox who eyed him before starting to run around stretching his legs.

“Hello?” Mac answered the phone.

“Where are you?” Taiga asked and Mac blinked at the almost worried tone in her cousin’s voice.

“Out with a friend,” Mac said glancing at the clock, “oh, sorry I forgot to tell you that I wouldn’t be home for dinner.”

“Oh, well I thought…” Taiga stopped and she could almost picture him shuffling uncomfortable on the floor. “When are you getting back? Dad will be late.”

“Yeah, I remember he said he would be,” Mac said, “I’ll probably be back in a couple of hours…”

“Okay,” Taiga said, “I’ll see you then.”

“Yeah, see you,” Mac said but he had already hung up. Mac frowned slightly as she put her phone back and wondered why he really called. He had sounded worried and that was a first, maybe he was starting to get used to her being there…

“Aomine-san?” Kiyoshi asked making Mac remember that he was there, and saw the carefully blank look on his face. She hid her frown at the look, she wasn’t sure what he was thinking.

“No, my cousin Taiga,” Mac said.

“Oh,” he said sounding a little relieved. “How is it going with your uncle and cousin?”

“Alright,” Mac said and met his eyes. “It’s strange because I feel like they want me there, but I can’t help but wonder when they’ll start to regret taking me in. Like my other aunt and uncle did. I don’t want to be disappointed.”

Mac wasn’t sure why she said it or admitted to it, but something in his eyes told her he would understand.

“I told you,” he said softly, “I live with my grandparents. My mum died when I was born, and my dad couldn’t handle it. I lived with him for a few years before he left. If not for my grandparents, his parents, I don’t know what I would have done. Yet, I sometimes think that I’m a burden on them too and that they would leave me if they could. So I try to make it easier for them and be the best grandson I can be.”

Mac nodded and realised that Kiyoshi probably understood her best, maybe Daiki would understand just as well because he was there when it happened, but he had parents who loved him and hadn’t been left behind. Kiyoshi and she had.

“It’s hard,” Mac admitted. “But uncle Tarou is different and he’s kind. So, for now I think it’s a good place. Taiga is a little hesitant, but I think he’s getting used to the idea of me now. He’s showed a little more concern lately, so…”

Kiyoshi smiled and nodded, “It will always be a transition to move and get used to a new place, but if you’re open for it and give them a chance you might find that you like it.”

Mac felt her cheeks warm and looked away from him quickly trying to hide it and getting her thoughts back in order since she was thinking some things she normally never thought… why did she think about his lips?

“You alright?” Kiyoshi asked concerned.

“Y-yeah,” Mac nodded and he smiled again.

Mac felt Nao lick her hand and blinked but took the offered distraction and scooped the fox up in her arms to break the slight awkward tension between her and Kiyoshi. It was the first time she felt tense in his company and she couldn’t understand why.

 

Sometimes Mac wondered what it would be like to have a girl she could talk to. Someone she could talk to about boys, and how confused she felt by her own feelings. She couldn’t go to Daiki with this, because….well, he was a boy and she just couldn’t see him taking her talking about her feelings and thoughts about boys. She just couldn’t talk to him about it. Seijuro was also out, many of the same reason for why Daiki was out and the fact that he was controlling and Mac could just imagine how he would react to her trying to talk to him about what she felt for Kiyoshi.

Sighing Mac turned around in her bed and stared up at her ceiling. She was so confused, and the butterflies she felt everytime she was with Kiyoshi was only getting stronger and she caught herself thinking about him more and more… she just wasn’t sure what it meant.

“AAAAAAA!”

Mac jolted up in bed when the loud yell from the living room and felt her heart jump harshly in her chest. Before she really thought about it she was out of bed and moved toward the living room, her wand in her hand as she rushed to the room and her cousin. Fear and worry clouding her mind as she entered the living room before stopping abruptly.

The scene in front of her was…not what she had been expecting. Taiga was sitting crunched down half-way under the table and holding his arms over his head while casting cautious looks at what Mac recognised as an owl. She felt the fear and tension leave her and her shoulders slumped with the relief that everything was ok. She looked at her cousin with amused disbelief.

“Are you scared of all animals?” Mac asked stepping further into the room and putting her wand away.

“He’s staring at me!” Taiga yelped.

“He’s waiting for you to take what he’s carrying,” Mac explained, “Owls are used to deliver mail in the magical world.”

Mac walked over to the owl that hooted softly at her and held out a small package for her to take. She saw her name written in a neat scribble and when she took it she noticed that the owl seemed tired.

“Come with me,” Mac said and held out an arm making the owl fly over and landed on her arm with a hoot. Mac smiled and walked over to the kitchen where she found a cup and poured some water into it and sat it down on the counter. The owl hooted again and Mac definitely could hear the gratefulness in the hoot, while the owl drank deeply she found some food that could be appropriate for the owl and put it next to the water.

“Why are you feeding it?” Taiga asked having come out from his hiding spot and was now eyeing the owl with a distrustful look.

Nao barked softly and Taiga jumped having missed the entrance of the fox with Mac.

“He’s tired and hungry,” Mac said, “I’m not sure how far he’s flown yet, but it’s obvious it’s a long way.”

Taiga nodded, “scared me. I was just opening the door to the balcony for a little air and then suddenly the owl flew in and started to circle me. I thought he was attacking me.”

Mac nodded in understanding, she could understand that it might seem like that when someone wasn’t used to owls. She should have told him that owls could come sometimes, but she had forgotten about it.

“I see,” Mac said and even if she did she couldn’t help the amusement she felt. “I should have told you to expect owls from time to time.”

Taiga frowned but nodded.

Mac turned her attention to the package and opened it, the moment she did she could feel the magic slipping off it and the package expanded and suddenly she was holding a dark red leather book with a metallic clasp on the front holding it together. Curious and slightly apprehensive Mac noticed a letter and grabbed it before unfolding it. She had made her way to the sofa and sat down as she started to read.

 

Dear Mackenzie,

I hope this letter is finding you well and happy. We have missed you since leaving Japan and has thought a lot about you. We really appreciated the chance to get to know you and found you to be a really smart and kind young woman that your parents would have been very proud off.

We felt really bad that you didn’t have any pictures of your parents other than that news clipping, so when we got home we started to gather some pictures and put them together in an album for you. We asked some friends of their parents as well, but we didn’t tell them what they were for or that we have met you. They think it’s for our own use. So don’t worry. But you should know that there are many people here that are worried about you, Mackenzie. We’re not trying to influence you to let them know, we understand that you want to be with your friends. Just to let you know and that someday you might decide to let them get to know you.

Anyway, the album is yours and we hope you find joy in it. We would very much like the chance to correspond with you and keep up with your life, and hope you feel comfortable writing to us. Newt is also very curious about how your little Nao is doing.

Hope you’re well and happy.

Best wishes,

Newt and Tina Scamander.

 

Mac swallowed around the thickness in her throat and traced a finger over the leather. There were pictures of her parents inside there and she was not sure what she felt. Pictures of her parents and their past, a past she knew nothing about… were she ready to look at them?

Unable to keep herself from doing so she reached out and opened the clasp with a soft click and she opened the book and her eyes fell on the first page. Elegant script was covering the top of the page with the words: Potter family. Under was a picture of her and her parents. She was in her dad’s arms and he held her so she was facing the camera. Lily was holding her hand and varied between waving it at the camera and kissing the back of it.

Mac gasped slightly and gently, shakenly traced a finger first over her mum’s face and then over her dad’s. She stared at their smiles, their hands, their eyes… everything about them. She didn’t even notice the tears running down her cheeks as she stared at the little family they once had been.

Nao whined softly and nudged her hand trying to get closer to her. She allowed him to jump into her lap and he burrowed into her trying to give her comfort and she needed it. She was glad Taiga had left the room to give her privacy; she didn’t want him or anyone else watching her break apart over the album. It was something private.

She wasn’t sure how long she stared at the picture or the words on top of the page claiming them to be the Potter family before she turned the page and kept turning as picture after picture was revealed for her. There were pictures of their wedding, of graduation from Hogwarts, dates and more pictures from when she was a baby… everyone pointing toward a happy life. A perfect family.

Needing to get out, to get some fresh air Mac closed the album and got up. She still had the album in her hands as she left the apartment, not remembering to tell Taiga where she went. She walked aimlessly around and finally found herself at a park close to Teiko and where she had brought Seijuro with her to play basketball once. She sat down at a table and felt Nao lick her cheek twice making her smile a little and reach up to dry the dried tears that still was on her cheeks.

“Sorry, Nao,” she mumbled, “I’m fine now, promise.”

Nao barked softly and nudged her cheek with his snout, it felt slightly cold against her skin but she was used to it.

She allowed Nao to get down on the ground and turned her eyes back to the album and opened it once more, unable to help herself needing, wanting to see her parents once again. She couldn’t believe that Newt and Tina had thought about making this for her. That they had made the time to make this and ask for pictures even inventing reasons for why they wanted them.

She was so engrossed by the album that she didn’t notice someone coming up beside her until a familiar voice interrupted her thoughts.

“Why are the pictures moving?!”

Chapter Text

3rd year – Teiko

 

Mac’s head snapped up and her wide green eyes stared shocked at the equally shocked Seijuro who was staring at the album with wide eyes and his mouth was hanging open in surprise. Had Mac been more collected and not panicking she would have been amused of the pure surprise and shock the normally collected Seijuro was showing. Though, Mac was panicking inside as she tried to find a way to explain this away, but it was too late. He had seen her pictures move and she couldn’t talk herself out of this one.

“Seijuro…” Mac started but stopped not knowing what to say or how to explain. Could she even explain magic to him? Both Sasaki and Sato had said that no one could know that she was a witch; there were rules and all that.

“Why…what…” Seijuro frowned looked away from the moving picture and up at her with such a confused look in his heterochromatic eyes that she had to smile a little. She had never seen him so lost for words.

“I…” Mac frowned and looked down at the picture of herself as a baby in her dad’s arms. He was pressing a kiss to her head and beamed at her in a constant circle. “It’s hard to explain.”

He inhaled deeply and she could see him getting some control over himself again. She scouted over on the bench making room for him to join her and smiled slightly when he did. She inhaled and started to think on what to say and how to explain this. She really didn’t want to have him forget about everything. He was her friend, her best friend beside Daiki.

“Try,” Seijuro said, “how are the pictures moving?”

Mac sighed again and glanced at him biting down at her lower lip slightly as she did.

“I can get in trouble telling you,” Mac whispered, “no one is supposed to know… I shouldn’t have taken the album with me…I can’t…”

“Mac,” Seijuro interrupted her, “tell me. I won’t tell anyone, I promise.”

Mac inhaled deeply and looked at him for a moment. She could see the sincerity in his eyes, her mind going to all those times he had helped her and been there for her. She knew she could trust him, so she nodded.

“Magic,” she whispered. “Magic is making it possible.”

To his credit he didn’t say anything only narrowed his eyes and looked back at the photo like he was trying to make sense of it. He was quiet for so long and Mac was starting to panic again. What if he couldn’t handle it? What if he thought she was a freak like her relatives did?

“Magic,” he finally said. “You’re saying magic is real.”

“Yes,” Mac nodded and swallowed. “It is and I’m a witch.”

Seijuro looked at her and then down at the photo and Mac could see him thinking so she kept silent even as she wanted to ask what he was thinking and to say something because she was freaking out.

“Who is that?” He asked causing Mac to blink at the change of subject.

“My dad and me,” Mac said quietly making him look at her. She knew he saw her small smile and the pain in her eyes. “I just got the album today, before today I only had old news clipping of how my parents looked like. This is the first time I saw them properly.”

Her voice broke a little making her bit hard down at her lower lips to control her emotions. She refused to look up at him and kept her eyes on the photo. She turned the page and a photo of both her parents was on the centre of the page for him to see.

Seijuro felt lost for words as he listened to her talk, so he turned his attention back to the album when she turned the page and saw a new picture. He saw it was the same man from the last picture, maybe a little younger than he was there, his ruffled hair and glasses were still the same though. He was holding a woman with auburn hair in his arms and he saw the same grass green eyes in her face as those he saw in his friends face.

“My parents,” Mac murmured, “James and Lily Potter.”

“You look a lot like them,” Seijuro commented, “it’s like a perfect mix of them both.”

“You think so?” Mac asked making him glance at her and saw the small smile on her face as she stared at the photo. Her parents waved and smiled at her and Mac traced it with her finger.

“I don’t lie,” Seijuro said and Mac snorted and smiled at him.

“Of course you don’t,” Mac smiled. “I think they’re still in school here, it looks like they have school uniforms on.”

“School uniforms?” Seijuro asked looking closer and took notice of the black and what seemed to be a school crest on their chests. He had never seen anything like that before.

“Hogwarts,” Mac said absentmindedly. “It’s the magic school in Britain. It’s…where I was supposed to go.”

Seijuro’s sharp eyes snapped up at her and Mac could see the question in them as well as the worry hidden underneath. So she explained how those with magic was normally taught in magic schools from they were 11 years old, but that she hadn’t been since her relatives had moved and hidden her from the magic world somehow. She explained how she was taking private tutoring and saw the new understanding in his eyes.

“That’s why you’ve been so tired lately?” he asked.

“I knew you noticed,” Mac said making him give her a look and she smiled, “yes, it is. I had test four days in a row and it was very tiring.”

Seijuro frowned slightly trying to wrap his mind around what he was learning, he was surprisingly open to the idea of magic. He knew Mac wouldn’t lie about it and well, the photo was kind of hard to ignore.

Mac watched Seijuro silently waiting for him to say something, she relaxed slightly as she didn’t see disgust or fear on his face. Yet, she was nervous about what he would say.

He looked up and smirked at her and Mac could feel the tension leave her and she shook her head before smiling. The rest of the afternoon was spent talking about magic and Seijuro asked questions leaving Mac to answer the best she could. She couldn’t help but notice that this Seijuro was closer to the old one, the one she had first gotten close to. It warmed her heart and gave her hope that he could return.

 

Mac felt a little better when she arrived back at the apartment, but her mind was spinning with the recent event. She was pleased that Seijuro now knew her secret, well about magic, she didn’t like lying to him. But…if she told Sasaki or Sato that he knew… would they make him forget? Would they report her? She hadn’t meant to reveal magic, but…she couldn’t regret the outcome when Seijuro accepted it like he did.

Not seeing her uncle or cousin she went directly to her room and sat down at the bed glancing down at Nao who jumped into her lap right away and purred slightly in content. She started to pat him as her mind spun with decisions.

“What to do, Nao?” she whispered into the silent room.

“Yow-wow-ow,” Nao yapped barely opening his eyes.

“I wish I understood that,” Mac sighed, “I’m sure you had the perfect solution.”

The extra tails appeared like they sometimes did when Nao was relaxed and they were in private like this and Mac couldn’t help the smile that spread on her face when she saw them. She always smiled when Nao showed his tails, it was proof that he trusted her and that he was hers. She felt calmer and wondered if it was Nao’s doing, she looked at him and saw his eyes were open and met hers.

Looking at Nao she made her decision, for now she wouldn’t let anyone know that Seijuro knew about her magic. He had promised not to say anything, and she knew she could trust his word. There was few people in this world that she trusted completely, but Seijuro was one of them. She couldn’t risk him forgetting and resenting her for it later, she would deal with the fallout later, if there was one.

Nao nibbled at her finger and seemed to smile at her making her laugh.

“I’ll take this for your approval of my decision,” Mac told the little fox. “I’ll let it play out and keep it a secret for now. I won’t let them take my friend from me, I won’t take the risk. Seijuro is more important than their rules.”

Secure in her decision she moved Nao over at the bed and got up to get ready for the night. The album secured in her nightstand and the letter from Newt and Tina folded inside of it. She would answer it tomorrow.

 

“You know we could hang out without playing basketball,” Mac said looking at Daiki who was lying on his back on one of the benches in the gym. He was there but refused to play, and Mac could see that he was in a bad mood.

“Doing what?” he asked opening one eye to look at her.

“Whatever we feel like,” Mac said from her position on the floor leaning against the bench as she looked at the court where the second strings were playing a training match. Her notebook was in her lap and her pen was flying over the pages as she took notes. “We didn’t always play basketball when we hung out before, remember. Perhaps we could go and see a movie or something, or to one of those arcades. We used to want to go to one when we were kids, remember?”

Daiki was silent for a moment making Mac glance over at him and saw the small smile on his face showing that he was happy about the idea. She looked back on the court and frowned a little before scribbling something down.

“Alright,” Daiki agreed. “After practice?”

“Alright,” she echoed smiling pleased. She had missed her best friend and when they weren’t living together she feared they would grow apart, and she couldn’t let that happen.

“Mac,” the call of her name had her look up and she saw Tetsuya standing there looking at them blankly making her sigh inwardly. Tetsuya and Daiki were still not talking and she mourned the loss of friendship between them, Tetsuya had been good for Daiki and the other way around. Now they barely looked at each other and Mac knew that the biggest part of the blame lay with Daiki.

“Tetsu,” she smiled. “What’s up?”

He allowed a small smile on his blank face and she really worried about the lack of emotion he showed on his face lately. She got to her feet and looked at him.

“I was just wondering if we could practice together,” Tetsuya asked shyly, “I wish to practice my misdirection and you’re the best to help me with it.”

Mac smacked Daiki’s arm when she heard the almost silent snort from him and shot her friend a glare but he just rolled his eyes before closing them. Mac looked back at Tetsuya and smiled.

“Of course,” she agreed and put her notebook back by her bag. “Whenever you’re ready.”

“Thank you,” Tetsuya said.

Playing with Tetsuya was always fun, he was still enjoying basketball and she could really enjoy it without being reminded of the changes in her friends. They took the time to work on his misdirection and she pointed out a few places where he still needed to work on.

“Thank you, Mac,” Tetsuya said smiling a little when they finished.

Mac grinned at him and ruffled his hair making him swap her hand away with a silent glare, but she just continued to grin at him.

“You don’t need to thank me everytime, Tetsu,” Mac told him. “We’re friends and this is what friends do for each other.”

He smiled but she knew he would continue to thank her so she sighed and rolled her eyes slightly before turning to pick up her bag and get changed again.

 

“So…you ready?” Daiki asked from where he was waiting. He smiled his special smile as he shoved his hands deep into his pockets of his jeans and looked at her.

“Of course,” Mac smiled and they started to walk toward the gates and toward the bus stop.

“I saw a new arcade downtown,” Daiki said, “I was planning on going there soon. Do you want to go there now?”

“Alright,” Mac agreed and smiled as she listened to Daiki talk about the arcade as they boarded the bus and found a couple of free seats. She tried to ignore the looks Daiki got from a pair of girls seated a little behind them, from their uniform she could see that they were from one of the high schools in the area. They giggled and whispered to each other while eying Daiki who was seemingly oblivious to them. Mac frowned but pushed the feeling away and focused on her Daiki.

“Come on,” Daiki said breaking Mac out of her thoughts and she smiled as she followed him off the bus.

She saw that they were in a popular area of the town and soon saw the flashing lights marking the arcade. She could see several teens around the arcade laughing and hanging out with their friends.

They paid for the entry and was hit with the loud music when they entered the large room, she could see more game machines than she’d ever seen before. From what she could see there were several price games and in the corner she could see a staircase leading up.

“What do you want to play?” Mac asked Daiki having to raise her voice a little so he could hear her.

“Let’s try that one,” Daiki said pointing to a machine where you had to try and catch a stuffed animal. Mac arched a brow in surprise but nodded and followed Daiki to the machine. Daiki put a coin into the slot and the machine started to play music making Mac jump slightly in surprise. Daiki grinned at her having noticed and she mock glared at him.

“Come on, ladies first,” Daiki said.

“What a gentleman,” Mac deadpanned but stepped up to the machine.

The rest of the afternoon they spent in the arcade and Mac had more fun than she’d had in a long time. They played many of the games and would compete with each other in some of the car games, and had even gathered some spectators when they played.

 

“Mac-nee!” Shiro yelled and before Mac could really brace herself she had a eager boy colliding with her and hugging her around the waist. She stumbled slightly but smiled and patted him on the head.

“Hi Shiro,” Mac said, “how are you?”

“I’m good,” Shiro said smiling up at her still holding her around the waist. “I missed you!”

“I missed you too,” Mac smiled softly at him. “Did you have a good football practice yesterday?”

“Yeah!” Shiro beamed.

“Mac-nee,” Sayuri said having come downstairs having heard her brother’s yell and wanting to see Mac as well. “You’re here.”

“Hi Sayuri,” Mac hugged her and smiled at her. “You alright?”

“Yes,” Sayuri nodded. “You’re here for dinner?”

“Daiki asked me,” Mac smiled.

She followed them into the living room and Nao who had been let out of her bag was walking by her looking pleased to be back here as well. It was strange yet good to be back in the house, she hadn’t been here since she moved.

Both Shiro and Sayuri started to talk at the same time to tell her about their classes and friends wanting to update her on everything that had happened since they’d last seen her. Mac just listened and commented here and there, having missed them as well and wanting to hear what they had to say.

“How are things going with your uncle?” Takehiro asked during dinner.

“Good,” Mac smiled a little, “he’s been good.”

“That’s nice,” Ayano said giving her a concerned look. “Remember that you can come here anytime you want. You’re always welcome here.”

“Thank you,” Mac said feeling a little emotional and noticed that Daiki was smiling at her.

 

Mac waved at Daiki who had walked her to the bus stop and waited on the bus with her when she stepped on the bus. He waved back before pushing his hands in his pocket again as he watched her board the bus. She sat down and looked out to see him still standing there watching her, he had a strange look on his face and Mac couldn’t read it. When he saw her looking he smiled her smile and she couldn’t help but smile back feeling warm and hopeful again. The day had been good, it had felt like before when they could just hang out without having any conflict hanging over them.

The bus started to drive again and she waved one last time to Daiki who waved back and soon she couldn’t see him anymore. She leaned back in her seat and thought back at her day, and couldn’t help the smile on her face. She just wished he could still enjoy basketball, and that she could help him with the pain she knew he still felt over the game he loved so much. But…she couldn’t keep pushing him without losing him and she didn’t want to lose him. She couldn’t.

Getting off the bus and walking toward her new home she was still pondering how to help her best friend. She freed Nao from her bag and put him down so he could walk beside her. They were just passing the park near the apartment building when she heard the familiar sound of a basketball bouncing on the asphalt. She turned and looked over at the court before she stopped and blinked.

“Whoa…” Mac whispered surprised when she recognised her cousin Taiga playing by himself, he was bouncing the ball over the court before he jumped up to dunk the ball with a force that surprised her and had her watch him more closely.

She couldn’t help the analytic eye she got as she watched him play without him noticing her, she took in his movements and how his body was built. She had thought that he had the right build for basketball, but she hadn’t thought he played. She had never asked, and now she was wondering why. It was clear that he was good and had a talent for it.

Did he know she played? Had he even heard of her? Of her friends? If he played for his middle school team, then he should have. Yet, he had never let on that he knew she played or anything like that. Did he not want her to know?

She could feel herself start to work on the profile on his skills, he was still not on top of his physically skill, but with the right amount of training he would be there. Even just briefly watching him she could tell he could be really good. Even as good as them…one day.

With a loud yell he jumped higher and dunked the ball hard into the net causing the ball to roll so it landed in front of her feet. She looked from the ball and over at Taiga who had stopped when he spotted her, his mouth were opened slightly in surprise at seeing her.

“Hi,” Mac said and picked up the ball. “I didn’t know you played.”

Taiga shrugged, “I learned in the States. I like it.”

“Me too,” Mac nodded and threw the ball in the air before catching it again. She saw how his red eyes followed the ball. “You’re good.”

“You play?” he asked looking at her curiously.

“I do,” Mac smiled a little. “I’m a manager for my team as well, though.”

The look of surprise had her convinced that her cousin didn’t know who she was, but then again…most schools seemed surprised when she took her place on the court. Even now when she had played for about a year. They seemed to believe that it was only rumours that Teiko had a girl on their team.

“You any good?” He asked looking at her.

Mac snorted and rolled her eyes at the almost sceptical look in his eyes, though he didn’t seem to dismissive over her playing as she had expected.

“Why don’t we play and you can see for yourself?” Mac challenged and he smirked.

She bounced the ball and watched as he crunched down to defend the basket. She smiled at the right stance he had taken before she moved to one side before the other watching as he adjusted his position, she knew she shouldn’t do it but she couldn’t help but test him and play to see how he would react.

She spun around and pulled back enough to make room for herself and jumped up before releasing the ball and watched as it flew through the air and into the net with a sharp swish. She landed effortlessly and saw the stunned look in Taiga’s eyes as he looked between the ball and her. He met her eyes and got a determined look in his eyes and she smirked at the challenge she saw in his red eyes.

Taiga had the ball and Mac guarded the basket with a concentrated look on her face and saw how he started to move to the right and took notice of the small change in his body language before he suddenly was in her left and managed to snap the ball out of his hands and turned the situation around. She twirled around and saw the focused look in his eyes. Good. She rushed to the left and toward the basket and he was on her the whole time, but he didn’t come close enough to stop her from getting free and managing to score.

 

Breathing hard Taiga leaned forward and rested his hands on his knees as he tried to catch his breath. He couldn’t believe it. He had been crushed by his cousin who didn’t even look to be too bothered by the match. She was barely breathing any harder or sweating where she was petting Nao who looked content and had closed his eyes as she petted him. Just who was she? Alex wasn’t this good, and he had thought that Alex was the best player he’d known.

“Where did you learn to play like that?” Taiga asked when he had caught his breath.

Mac glanced up and blinked at him, but she didn’t say anything for a moment as she stared at him. He felt like shifting on his feet under her searching eyes, eyes that resembled his mum’s so much that he often felt his breath catch seeing them. Even hidden behind glasses. He wasn’t sure what she was looking for. Finally she tilted her head slightly and smiled.

“Here and there,” she shrugged. “I used to play with my best friend on street courts, he loved basketball so much and would use every free opportunity to play. Usually he would drag me with him and I learned from him.”

Taiga stared at her for a moment longer and smiled slightly.

“You play with him on your school team?” he asked but frowned when her eyes shadowed slightly and she looked away from him.

“Yes,” she said quietly. “I first joined as a manager though, I love analysing and are good at helping others grow in the talents. I was… tricked into joining them as a player last year after the Dursley’s left and our Captain decided that the team needed me as a player and had the coaches see me play.”

Taiga frowned but didn’t say anything. He hadn’t really heard her mention her other aunt and uncle, well he guess they would be his aunt and uncle too. Though, he wasn’t upset that he hadn’t met them. He felt anger at the thought of what they had put Mac through, he knew he didn’t know her that well yet. Not knowing that she loved basketball as much as he did, was proof enough of that. But he didn’t like the idea of her in pain.

“You think you’ll be able to teach me?” he asked and he could see the surprise in her eyes as she snapped her head toward him. He was also a little confused at the apprehensiveness he saw in her eyes, he couldn’t understand it. She bit down on her lower lip watching him before she looked at Nao.

“I guess I could,” Mac agreed.

“Great!” Taiga beamed and Mac smiled a little with softening eyes. He felt again the similarities to his mum and looked away from her feeling his throat thicken with unwanted emotions. He had to get over it.

 

Mac yawned and fell back on her bed, she was so tired. The day had been so long and busy, she wasn’t even sure how she had managed through it without falling asleep. But she wouldn’t be without that day for anything. It had been a really good day and she had even had a breakthrough with her cousin who seemed much more at ease around her now, but there was still something that had him look away awkward and tense.

Her phone rang making her open her eyes again and groan slightly as she stretched for the phone. She smiled when she saw Kiyoshi’s name on the caller id.

“Hi,” she greeted and heard the chuckle at the other end.

“Hello, Mac,” he said. “How are you?”

“Good,” Mac smiled, “very good.”

“Oh? Anything particularly good happen today?” Kiyoshi asked and she could hear the smile in his voice. She sat up in bed and leaned against the headboard and patted Nao who snuggled closer to her.

“Yeah,” Mac said, “I spent the day with Daiki, just hanging out like we used to and had fun. He was more like before and not so depressed. Then I went home with him and had dinner with his family again. I missed them.” She continued to tell him about her day.

“That sounds like a good day,” he said but his voice was a little tight making her frown slightly wondering why he sounded like that. “So your cousin plays basketball as well?”

“Yeah,” Mac said making her decide that she was just imagine how his voice were tighter. “I was surprised, I didn’t think he played.”

“That’s good,” Kiyoshi said.

“Yeah, it is,” Mac said frowning slightly at how tense she suddenly felt, she wasn’t sure why she felt that way. Normally she felt relaxed and at ease talking with Kiyoshi, he was someone who could understand her and was great at making her smile.

“Look,” Kiyoshi said, “I have to go, grandma is calling me. I…Do you want to meet up tomorrow?”

Mac blinked at the question, she felt there was something more in it than just a question on meeting to hang out. She swallowed and felt butterflies in her stomach. He couldn’t mean as a date, right? It wasn’t possible…was it? Even if it was…did she want it to be?

“Sure,” she said swallowing again her throat felt dry. “That would be nice. Where and when?”

“What about meeting at the court we met last time? After school?” Kiyoshi asked his voice lighter again.

“Ok,” Mac agreed.

“Good,” he said. “Good night, Mac. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Good night,” Mac breathed and blinked when the phone went silent and she slowly lowered the phone. What had just happened?

 

Sato’s house

 

Mac finished frowned as she flipped through the pages in her charms book and didn’t notice the amused look she got from her professor.

“You looking for something, Potter-san?” Professor Sato finally asked when Mac sighed for the fifth time.

“I wanted to see if there was a charm that could make pictured stay still for a while?” Mac asked looking at him.

“There is,” Professor Sato said slightly surprised. “Why are you looking for it?”

Mac pulled out her new album before looking at Professor Sato. He raised a brow.

“I got this from Newt and Tina,” Mac said, “two days ago. I just wanted to have the option to be able to show the pictures to my friends who doesn’t know about magic.”

She didn’t say anything about Seijuro and the fact that he knew about magic now, she would stick with her decision. She didn’t feel to bad about it, but she did wonder if her professor would have allowed him to know. But she couldn’t risk it. Not with Seijuro.

“I see,” Professor Sato said. “Well, the charm is immobulus. That reminds me that it’s a charm I should have taught you already. So, let’s do it now.”

Mac smiled and nodded she repeated the charm and did as he told her, she had to try a couple of times before she had it right and she saw how the picture of her parents dancing still and look like a normal muggle picture. She missed the movements from her parents when she saw them looking so still, but she knew that she could now show it to her friends if she wanted to. Also, it might be a good spell to know if she wanted to take it out of the house. She couldn’t have another mishap like the one she just had where she revealed magic to Seijuro.

Mac smiled pleased when she had it and Professor Sato praised her before telling her to put it away and that they needed to move on with the lesson. She did as asked knowing it would be a bad idea to protest.

 

Teiko

 

Mac rolled her eyes when she saw Shintaro and Atsushi argue again, but she ignored them. She didn’t have the energy to worry about them now that she was almost finished with her muggle school day and soon was going to see Kiyoshi. The nerves from last night were back and she kept wondering why she felt like this was a date and not a normal hang out between friends. He hadn’t really said anything different from before, but there was something in the way he said it that had her feeling that way.

Should she ask him? Wouldn’t that be awkward? What if she ruined the friendship? She looked over at Seijuro who was talking with the coach about something, and sighed. She wondered if she could ask him, but the idea had her wince and shake her head even to herself. She couldn’t ask him, that would be…catastrophic. She could just imagine the overprotective mode he would go into and rope the rest of her friends with him to protect her. That was just….a big no. Daiki had left for the day, having decided that this was a practice he would skip; it was within Seijuro’s limitations so no one said anything about it.

“Mac-chin is being quiet,” Atsushi commented making Mac realise that the others were watching her now while she had let her mind wander and worry. “Are you hungry?”

“No,” Mac shook her head. “Sorry, just thinking.”

She saw the narrowed eyes from both Seijuro and Shintaro, though Shintaro quickly blanked his face when he saw her looking. He was carrying a correction pen today as a lucky item she noticed. She smiled at the quirk. Something didn’t change at least.

“What are you thinking about?” Seijuro asked.

“Just this and that,” Mac shrugged, “I have it handled.”

He frowned but didn’t press her. She knew he was curious, but was pleased that he was able to let it go.

“Nationals are coming up,” Shintaro said pushing his glasses up on his nose. Mac was secretly glad for the change of subject.

“We have to get through the preliminaries first, though,” Tetsuya spoke up making Atsushi and Shintaro jump slightly.

“We’ll win,” Seijuro said confidently. “Easy.”

Mac had to admit that it was very likely. She couldn’t see who would be good enough to challenge them. Not yet and not from Tokyo. Perhaps someone from one of the schools outside of Tokyo? That reminded her that she had to start looking at the challengers soon.

 

Mac was the first to arrive on the court and saw a few older boys playing at the far end. Mac ignored them and sat down on a bench to wait for Kiyoshi. She had managed to sneak away from her friends who seemed determined to keep her for as long as they could at the school. She wasn’t sure why, but it was like they could smell the fact that she was going to meet Kiyoshi and trying to stop it. But they couldn’t know, right?

She sighed and rubbed her eyes tiredly as she waited. She looked up when she saw a pair of feet stop in front of her, but the greeting stopped at her lips when it wasn’t Kiyoshi standing in front of her but a teen she had never seen before. It was one of the boys who had been playing at the far end and he was smirking down at her looking at her with a look she didn’t like and felt her heartbeat sped up.

“Well, what is a pretty thing like you doing here?” he asked stepping closer.

“I’m waiting for someone,” Mac said hiding the nerves and uncomfortable she was feeling, but she stood up and took a step to the side trying to escape him.

He smirked again when he noticed her movements and took a step toward her. He was looking her up and down and she swallowed wondering what to do. She could hit him, but she was sure his friends that were laughing behind him would come to their friends aid if she did. She couldn’t fight them all at once. She hadn’t felt like this since her cousin Dudley would corner her.

“What about you come and have some fun with us instead?” he leered at her.

“No,” Mac shook her head.

“Come on, don’t be such a pain,” he said, “you’ll have fun with us…I promise.”

She couldn’t see how to get out of this, she just wanted to disappear, she just wanted…

“I suggest you walk away,” Kiyoshi’s voice sounded and he sounded angry. It was the first time she had ever heard him angry, but she relaxed the moment she heard him. Soon his arm was placed over her shoulder and she felt him pull her close to his body. “Before I make you.”

“And who are you to make me?” the older teen sneered. He was older than Kiyoshi, Mac was sure, but Kiyoshi was taller and had more muscles and the other teen seemed a little intimidated.

“I’m her boyfriend,” Kiyoshi said making Mac still and heart to skip a beat at how easy he claimed the title. “So, I suggest you leave. Now.”

The boy narrowed his eyes and looked between her and Kiyoshi before he sneered and turned around and walked away. His friends looking like they were disappointed, but also amused at their friends defeat.

 

Mac wasn’t sure what just happened, it felt like she was frozen in place as Kiyoshi still had his arm over her shoulder and she was still held close to his body. She could feel the heat coming from him and she felt her face blush red.

Suddenly it as like the sound and movement was back and she quickly stepped away not really lingering on the feeling that missed the weight of his arm over her shoulders or the warmth from his body. She turned so she couldn’t see him and hid her red face from him.

“Mac…” his voice was quiet and unsure. “Are you ok?”

“I’m fine,” she mumbled.

“They didn’t hurt you, did they?” he asked worried.

“No…” Mac shook her head. “They didn’t.”

Silence fell between them and Mac could hear him shift on his feet a few times, but she didn’t turn around. She wasn’t sure what to think or do. He had claimed to be her boyfriend, but that was only because he wanted to make that boy leave. She wasn’t sure if she could face him and listen to him say that it was only a way to get her away from the situation. She wanted… but she couldn’t do this either. She felt weak and like a coward, and she hated feeling like that.

“Are you mad at me, Mac?” Kiyoshi asked before she could find her voice.

“Why would I be mad at you?” Mac asked.

“I said I was your boyfriend when…when I hadn’t even asked you yet,” he said sounding more vulnerable than she’d heard him before.

Yet, he said, like he had planned to… She turned around and saw his honest brown eyes looking at her and he was looking nervous and worried at the same time. He took a step closer to her and looked down at her.

“You…you want…” Mac frowned at her inability to form the question but she saw him understand and smile softly at her. He reached out and placed his hands on her shoulders as if to hold her in place.

“I like you,” he said, “I have for a long time now and I wanted to ask you if you wanted to be my girlfriend. I want to make you smile; I want to make you happy. I believe I can make you happy, Mac.”

Mac stared at him at loss of words, he was saying things she had only hoped for but not really thought he would ever say. She knew she had a crush on him, but could he really like her to? She realised that she hadn’t said anything yet and he was starting to look sad and she reached out and grabbed his shirt. He blinked and looked back at her with hope in his eyes.

“I…I like you to,” Mac managed to say and the smile she got in return was wide and happy and she couldn’t help but smile back at him as he pulled her into a hug.

Chapter Text

3rd year – Teiko

 

“Where have you been?”

Mac paused and looked to the sofa where she now noticed her cousin seated; she had been so lost in her own thoughts that she hadn’t even noticed him sitting there. The fact that Kiyoshi liked her, that he wanted to be her boyfriend was still making her smile and feel giddy and unable to stop smiling. He had walked her home and given her another hug before letting her go up the apartment. His smile when he watched her had butterflies going off in her stomach.

“Taiga,” Mac blinked. “I didn’t see you.”

“No, you looked like you were lost in cloud nine,” he smirked. It was the first time he had teased her and she felt stumped for a moment before she rolled her eyes and moved toward the kitchen to make herself some tea. “So, where were you?”

“Out,” Mac shrugged trying to sound nonchalant but by his crocked brow she knew she failed. She bit down at her lower lip to stop smiling not wanting to give anything away.

“Out where?” Taiga pressed making Mac give him a look.

“Playing basketball with a friend,” Mac said not looking at him. She wasn’t ready to tell him yet, and it wasn’t him she wanted to tell first. It was so new and fresh, and she just wanted to curl up in her bed with Nao cuddled close and think and maybe then it would seem real for her.

The water boiled and she prepared a cup before pouring water into it, she glanced over at Taiga who was still looking at her.

“Do you want some tea?” she asked.

“No…thank you,” he said adding the thank you in what Mac guessed was his way of being polite. She smiled a little before nodding.

“Well, I’m tired,” she said, “and have some homework to finish before bed…so, good night, Taiga.”

“Alright,” he said, “but I will figure out who your friend is.”

Mac rolled her eyes but smiled at her cousin as she passed him and walked to her room. She gently closed the door. She put the cup on her nightstand before walking to the desk and picked up her sketchpad, she felt like drawing a little before bed. She would do her homework tomorrow; she couldn’t focus on that now.

Mac sat down on the bed and smiled when Nao cuddled close next to her, and started to draw. She wanted to catch the moment where Kiyoshi had claimed her as her girlfriend forever; she wanted to be able to remember how safe and happy she felt at that moment when she looked back at it later.

 

Daiki frowned slightly as he stared at Mac who was sketching, she normally would have been working on her homework right about now because she had a busy schedule and with the magic on top of the Teiko work she barely had time to do it. Not if she wanted any free time when they were finished at school. Yet, she was sketching. Sketching and smiling, something was up and he was not in the know. She smiled at odd times like she remembered something that made her happy and he was sure he even heard her giggle when she read a text on her phone. Mac didn’t giggle. Not like that.

“Daiki,” Seijuro broke his thoughts and Daiki glared at the Captain who arched a brow making Daiki look away uncomfortable.

“Akashi,” Daiki said and glanced behind him to see Shintaro and Ryota standing there as well. “Guys.”

“What are you doing?” Seijuro asked or demanded.

“Just…trying to figure out what Kenzie is up to,” Daiki grudgingly admitted knowing better than to lie to him.

“Oh?” Seijuro raised his brows in surprise and looked over at Mac who was focused on the sketch and seemingly was unaware of being watched. He frowned slightly when he spotted the almost dreamy smile on her face. What was that about? “Hm, I see.”

“She looks…un-Mac-like,” Ryota said, “what happened?”

“Shh!” Daiki snapped at him. “She’ll hear you!”

“And we’re spying on her…why?” Shintaro asked stoically but he too looked curious even as he tried to hide it.

“Not spying…just…observing,” Daiki snapped. “It’s strange. She’s not acting like herself.”

Daiki looked back at his best friend to see her check her phone and smile before typing something on it and placing it back in her bag.

“You know,” Mac suddenly said loud enough for them to hear her and her grass green eyes snapped over to them with a look that was a cross between amused and exasperated. “I can hear you. You’re not doing a very good job at spying on me.”

She placed her sketchbook in her bag and got up adjusting the bag over her shoulder and waved at them before leaving through the other door. Daiki sighed and shook his head before glaring at the others. It was their fault she discovered them, he wouldn’t have been discovered.

 

Mac rolled her eyes at the obviousness of her boys, it was hilarious that they thought they were so sneaky and that she didn’t know they were staring at her. She’d known since Daiki first started, but ignored him and then them in favour of her sketching and chatting with Kiyoshi over texts. He had been sharing the latest stunts from his team with her and she had smiled and laughed at the antics they got up to. She kind of wanted to meet them, but was unsure if Kiyoshi would like that. Maybe he didn’t want them to know he had a girlfriend, not one that was a year younger than him. She frowned a little as the uncertainty suddenly hit her. What did he want with someone like her? She wasn’t…

“Ouch!” Mac grumbled as she suddenly collided with someone and stumbled back. The sound of a something crashing to the floor and a pained groaned hit her and she looked to see a girl with light pink hair wearing the school uniform sitting ungraciously on the floor and a basket lying next to her tipped over with the towels spread around.

“Shit,” Mac muttered before rubbing her chest where the basket had collided with her. “I’m so sorry. Are you ok?”

The girl looked up at her and she saw the matching pink eyes and Mac felt a stab of guilt when spotting the tears starting to form in her eyes. Hurriedly Mac sat down next to her and put a hand on her shoulder.

“Are you hurt? Did I hurt you?” Mac asked quickly. “I’m so sorry. I wasn’t watching where I was going…and then… well, I wasn’t paying attention and it’s my fault. Are you hurt?”

The girl blinked trying to follow her ramble, Mac was sure, and then she smiled shyly at her.

“I’m fine,” she said sitting up more properly and started to gather the towels she had dropped. Mac reached out and grabbed one close to her and placed it in the basket. She helped the girl gather them all before standing up. She brushed her clothes off taking notice that they were on their own in the hallway.

“Thank you for helping me, Potter-san,” the girl said making Mac look at her again.

Mac tilted her head as she observed the other girl. She was pretty with her pink hair and pink eyes, she looked a little flushed but Mac guessed that was because of the fall and embarrassment. She did look a little familiar, but Mac couldn’t place her.

“It was my fault, so of course I should help picking it up,” Mac finally said. “Are you sure you’re fine?”

“I’m sure,” she said smiling at Mac, “I have to get going. Bye.”

“Alright,” Mac said pensively. “See you around.”

The girl looked at her for a moment before rushing off again leaving a thoughtful Mac behind. There was something about that girl that Mac wanted to learn more about. It was something about the way she looked at her, like the girl had been trying to read her. Mac shook her head and started to move toward the gym and what she supposed would be very suspicious teammates.

Given the spying from earlier Mac didn’t really feel like telling them anything, so she decided to wait. She would tell them about Kiyoshi, eventually, but right now they deserved to stew. She felt a little vindictive today, so she would let them guess and try to figure her out. If they asked directly, then maybe…maybe she would tell them.

 

Mac sat beside Tetsuya who glanced at her questionably from time to time, but she ignored it and wrote in her notebook as the second strings were practicing. It wasn’t like it was anything to exciting, but it was part of what she had to do. She was still thinking about what Sanada had asked her to, and she knew she had to decide who would be the one she would teach. She just hadn’t seen anyone who seemed to get it.

“Are you avoiding the others?” Tetsuya asked.

Mac glanced at him for a second before looking back at the court.

“Maybe,” she said.

“Why?” Tetsuya asked her sounding confused.

“Just feel like it,” she shrugged. “When they decide to ask me directly I’ll talk to them, but trying to spy on me and find out what they want to know…I won’ talk to them.”

He frowned, “spy?”

She shrugged and smiled at him, “don’t worry about it, Tetsu. They’ll find out eventually. I just feel like teaching them a lesson. Don’t warn them, please?”

“Alright,” he said confused.

“Thanks.” Mac said before blinking when she saw the girl from earlier just stepping inside the gym with another basket with towels. So this was where she had seen her before. Mac felt bad and annoyed at herself for not recognise someone who was working with the team. She thought she was better than this… was she really so hung up on her own life and her friends that she didn’t even remember those who helped the team?

“Sorry, Tetsu, I have to talk to someone,” Mac said and got up.

“Ok,” Tetsuya said agreeably like always.

 

“Hi,” Mac said making the pink-haired girl look up and Mac saw the surprise in her eyes when she saw Mac.

“Hi, Potter-san,” she said, “can I help you with something?”

“You ok from before?” Mac asked still a little worried.

“Of course,” the girl said looking a little surprised.

“What’s your name?” Mac asked. “I’m sorry, I can’t remember if I’ve ever heard it before…”

“You probably haven’t.” the girl answered with a shy smile, “It’s my first year, so it’s not that long ago since I started this school.”

“Ok,” Mac said feeling a little better, but not a lot. “So, your name?”

“Momoi Satsuki,” Momoi said.

“Nice to meet you, Momoi-san,” Mac said, “I’m Mackenzie Potter.”

“I know,” she said, “I heard of you even before starting the school. Who hasn’t heard of the Generation of Miracles?”

Mac snorted amused. “I suppose.”

Momoi smiled and went back to folding the towels, and Mac reached out to help.

“What are you doing?” Momoi asked.

“What does it look like?” Mac smirked at her, “helping.”

“But…” Momoi frowned.

“Look, I’m a manager too,” Mac said, “and while I normally deals with the analysing and technical aspects of it beside the playing, I used to do this as well.”

Momoi smiled and nodded and they worked in silence for a little while. Mac kept observing her, she was curious. While she still felt a little uncomfortable and unsure on how to interact with her, she wasn’t used to dealing with other girls. They normally kept a distance from her, or was it her that kept a distance from them? Well, anyway, she wasn’t sure how to talk to her and get her talking. But she was curious about her and wanted to see what she could do. She saw how Momoi looked toward the court and watched the players, and Mac saw the look in her eyes. She wasn’t looking for a cute boy, but she was studying the way they played.

“You always wanted to join the basketball club?” Mac asked after a while.

“I suppose,” Momoi said, “I like basketball. I’m not a good player, but I like working on making someone good. I saw you once, I was with my older brother to watch him play and they played you when you were in first year. You weren’t playing then, but I saw how the team relied on you and how you kept telling them what to do. Almost more than your coach did. He relied on you too…You were the reason they were so good. I wanted…I wanted that.”

Mac looked down and her hair fell to shield her face from view so Momoi couldn’t see the shadow of guilt in her eyes. She was the reason…she was the reason they became like this. She fisted her hands and tried to focus on what Momoi said. She knew that the other girl didn’t mean it like this.

“You won and my brother was disappointed, but he was also admiring how you and your team worked,” Momoi said. “I want to be able to do that, so I joined the basketball club when I joined High School. I decided to join Teiko, and…”

Mac glanced up and looked at the shy girl who looked down, she saw the blush in her cheeks.

“And?” Mac asked quietly.

“Nothing,” Momoi said seemingly realising she had said more than she planned to. Mac let her drop the subject and tried to process what she heard.

Mac heard the whistle and saw Sanada walk back toward his office and the practice was over, she saw her friends looking over at her and rolled her eyes when she saw the speculative looks from them.

“Please come to practice tomorrow from the beginning, ok?” Mac said as she put the last of the towels down and took a step back.

“Sure, but why?” Momoi asked confused.

Mac smiled at her and waved, “just be there.”

Momoi nodded and Mac turned to walk toward the bag she had left standing by the bench before going to the locker room to change.

 

“Hi uncle Tarou,” Mac smiled when she saw her uncle seated in the sofa when she got home. Nao was already running toward her room wanting to find a spot to sleep, but she paused as her uncle looked up from the file he was reading and gave her a smile. Again she was reminded of the difference between the Dursley’s and Tarou. He seemed genuinely happy to see her.

“Mac,” he smiled, “how are you?”

“I’m fine,” Mac smiled. “Just a little tired and has a lot of homework to do.”

“Magic or normal?” he asked putting the file down and focused on her.

“Both,” Mac shrugged walking over to the sofa and sat down when he motioned for her to do so.

“How are you handling your studies, Mac?” he asked. “It can’t be easy to have both kind of studies and still have time for basketball.” He smiled when he saw the surprised look in her eyes. “Taiga told me you both played. I wanted to thank you for that; it was the first time I saw Taiga looking remotely happy since we moved.”

“Nothing to thank me for,” Mac said confused. “I like basketball and had fun playing with Taiga.”

Tarou smiled and Mac felt a little embarrassed and shifted in her seat.

“And I’m handling my studies alright,” Mac said, “I’ve passed the second year level; Professor Sato gave me the result today. Since I’m studies on my own like I do he can adjust the pace only after me. I like it even if it is hard sometimes.”

Tarou nodded looking at her thoughtfully, “you’re a very dedicated young girl, Mac.”

Mac shrugged and looked away from her uncle a faint blush in her cheeks at the praise from someone who was a guardian.

“Where is Taiga?” Mac asked changing the subject.

“He went out to play some basketball,” Tarou said. “I’m sure he’ll be back soon.”

“Ok,” Mac said and got back to her feet. “I should get started on the homework.”

“Ok,” Tarou smiled and went back to his file.

 

Mac stretched as she leaned back in her chair and yawned widely as she felt the tiredness settle over her. She glanced at the clock and saw that it was already eleven at night and she had to get to sleep soon. Her stomach grumbled reminding her that she hadn’t eaten for a long time, sighing she got up as she closed her potion book and placed it back in the bag so she knew where it was for her lesson on Monday.

Nao blinked at her when she moved toward the door before getting to his feet and jumped off the bed to follow her out of her room. He padded after her and barked softly when she reached the kitchen.

“You’ll get something to eat as well, Nao,” Mac told him, “I’m sorry I forgot to eat and getting you some food, Nao.”

“You talk like he understands you,” Taiga said making her jump slightly and spin around to see her cousin entering the room looking a little ruffled, his hair was wilder and he was clearly ready for bed.

“Make a sound or something!” Mac gasped and glared at him when he looked amused. “And yeah, Nao understands me.”

Taiga shook his head and looked at Nao growled softly and eyed the large teen. He hadn’t gotten used to the new addition to her family yet, but he didn’t growl as hard anymore. That was something, she supposed. She saw Taiga eye Nao warily as he stepped closer to the counter and eyed the food Mac was preparing.

Mac having noticed snorted amused at the way his eyes followed the food. He was very much like Daiki when it came to food it seemed.

“Want something to eat?” Mac asked amused.

“Sure!” Taiga said and Mac chuckled before going back to prepared the food.

Soon it was finished and placed on the table, she had planned on taking it back to her room but with Taiga there she guessed she could eat with him. The new understanding and bond between them as cousin was still new and fragile, but Mac wanted to see if she could maybe have a friendship with her cousin.

Mac was feeding Nao a piece of her food when she noticed that Taiga was looking at her, she glanced over at him and he looked away like he hadn’t been looking at all. She mentally shrugged and went back to watch Nao eat with his adorable concentration, it was fascinating.

Again she felt Taiga looking at her and she looked at him, this time he didn’t look away but he looked uncomfortable and unsure. There was a faint blush in his cheeks and she wondered what had him so uncomfortable now.

“Something wrong, Taiga?” Mac asked breaking the silence that filled the room.

“Um…no….um,” Taiga stumbled making Mac tilt her head slightly as she watched him. He seemed to inhale deeply and calm himself before he looked at her with a more determined look. “Can you help me with my basketball?” He rushed out.

Mac’s eyebrow went up as she stared at her cousin. She hadn’t expected that, but perhaps she should have. She looked at him and let her mind think about it for a moment. Was she ready to help someone else to play? Would the same thing happen again? Would he become like her friends, like Daiki if she did?

She gave him a serious look as her heart filled with apprehension and hesitation, she couldn’t help but think it might be a mistake…but maybe it wouldn’t be? Maybe….her eyes narrowed as she looked at him as a new idea was starting to form in her mind. Maybe, just maybe, this was the answer… she knew that Taiga was good and could reach far, so maybe…maybe he was what was missing.

“Ok,” Mac said deciding to take the chance. “I’ll help you.”

“Great,” Taiga said relieved.

 

“Morning,” Kiyoshi’s voice sounded and Mac grinned as her heart sped up a little at the sound of his voice through the phone.

“Morning,” she answered.

“What do you have planned today?” Kiyoshi asked easily and she smiled.

“I’m at school,” Mac said looking at the slowly filling gym. She was on her own for now by the benches having just arrived and changed ready for their practice. She briefly wondered if Momoi would show up or not.

“Why? It’s Saturday,” Kiyoshi sounded confused.

“Morning practice,” Mac explained, “we do that sometimes.”

“No wonder you’re so good,” he muttered and she wasn’t sure he meant for her to hear him or not so she didn’t comment on it. “Want to meet up when you’re finished with practice?”

“That would be nice,” Mac said not noticing that both Seijuro and Daiki had entered the gym and had paused just inside the door and was watching her. She was too preoccupied with her conversation. “I’m guessing we’re finished in about two hours, but I might be a little late because I’m going to start training a new manager.”

“Oh? You’ve found someone you want to teach?” Kiyoshi asked curiously.

“Yes, I’ll tell you about her later today,” Mac said and blinked when she saw her two friends within earshot and clearly having heard her last comment given the identical frowns on their faces. “I have to go. I’m being stared at by two idiots, but talk to you later.”

“Ah, ok,” Kiyoshi laughed. “See you soon, Mac.”

She hung up and arched a brow at them, “something you want?”

“Who was that?” Seijuro asked his eyes narrowed as he stared at her. “Tell me who you’re going to meet after practice.”

Daiki nodded but didn’t say anything next to him, and Mac stared at them for a moment. She felt a little disappointed at the demanding tone, and she saw that they really believed they had a right to the answer.

Spotting Momoi hesitating just inside the door behind her two boys she pushed past them making them scowl at her, but she ignored them as she made her way over to the younger girl.

 

“Hi Momoi-san,” Mac smiled a little feeling a little tense as she stepped up to the girl. “You made it.”

“Hi Potter-san,” Momoi smiled shyly. “You told me to be here, but I don’t know why…”

Mac chuckled, but before she could answer they were interrupted by a certain blond who threw himself at Mac making her stumble a little.

“Mac!” Ryota wailed. “Midorima-cchi is mean to me!”

Mac pushed him away and gave him a blank look before looking behind him to see an exasperated Shintaro staring at them. He pushed his glasses up on his nose with his free hand and she saw the leather notebook in his other hand.

“Indoor voices, Kise!” Mac scolded the blond, “and don’t lunge for me like that.”

“Okay,” Ryota mumbled looking chastised before brightening again when he noticed Momoi staring at them with wide eyes. “Who are you?”

“She’s a manager,” Mac answered before Momoi could say anything, “and she’s here because I asked her to, so please, would you go and get ready for practice while I finish explaining for Momoi-san why I asked her to come.”

“Alright,” Ryota beamed and waved before rushing toward the locker room. Shintaro followed in a more sedate pace and only after giving Mac a searching look to which she smiled back. Only because she knew him so well did she detect the relief in his green eyes before he walked away.

“So, with the interruption out of the way, let’s finish the talk,” Mac said turning back to Momoi who was still watching her curiously. Mac blinked. “What?”

“Nothing…I just, I didn’t realise just how close you were with them,” Momoi said.

Mac furrowed her brows a little and rubbed the back of her neck, she looked to the other side and saw both Daiki and Seijuro still watching them from where she had left them, Atsushi had just exited the locker room and was munching on a bag of chips. Tetsuya was talking with a second string player looking thoughtful and Mac wondered what they were talking about.

“Well, yeah, I supposed so,” Mac said looking back at Momoi, “they’re my best friends. Though, they can be a handful at times.”

Momoi nodded with a smile, but didn’t say anything else.

“I wanted to ask you if you were interested in learning more about analysing games and players,” Mac said bringing the conversation back to the original topic. She saw the surprise in Momoi’s eyes as she stared at Mac.

“What? Really?” Momoi asked when Mac hadn’t said anything else.

“Yes,” Mac nodded looking at Momoi closely, she wanted to see if she really were interested. “Sanada-sensei asked me to find someone to teach what I do. I’m in my last year here and he has to think about how the team can remain strong even after we leave. So, he asked me to teach someone how I analyse the games and players.”

“But why me?” Momoi asked confused.

“Because you showed an interest,” Mac said simply. “You actually like it and you focus on the way they play and not if the guy is hot or not.” Mac smiled wryly and Momoi giggled. “So, you interested?”

“Yes!” Momoi said a wide smile breaking out on her face. Mac nodded and looked around to find Sanada who had just left his office and noticed Mac looking at him so he changed his course so he walked toward her.

“Potter-san,” Sanada greeted when he joined them and looked curiously at Momoi.

“This is Momoi Satsuki,” Mac introduced, “she’s one of the managers for second string.” She told him that because she knew that he most likely didn’t know everyone who was in the managing team, especially if they didn’t deal with the first strings. It wasn’t good, but it was how it was, especially now after Shirogane wasn’t the coach anymore.

Sanada greeted her before looking back at Mac who repressed a sigh. She was still not to happy with him given what he had said to Daiki, she wanted to ask him why he had said it but given that Daiki had told her to let it go she hadn’t. Didn’t mean she wouldn’t at one point though, but not now. She instead filled him in on what she had decided and saw the new interested look in his eyes as he looked at Momoi.

“Ok,” Sanada said when Mac finished. “Good, why don’t you sit together today and show her your notes and go through it?”

 

Momoi listened as Mac talked and read her notes and she couldn’t believe how detailed and thorough it all was. There was barely a detail missing in her observation of the players, naturally the first string players were best documented, but there was also quite a lot on the second strings even a few third strings.

“Wow,” Momoi said when the practice ended and Mac glanced over at her. Momoi could barely read the expression on Mac’s face when she looked at her, but she thought she saw a little nervousness under the carefully arranged mask of a friendly smile. It was hard to look through the mask she put up, she would guess that most wouldn’t even see that it was a mask in the first place. “You’ve put a lot of work into this.”

“I guess I have,” Mac shrugged looking over at the court. “I love the game ever since I started playing when I was 8. It was what Daiki and I did together, he would barely be away from a basketball court back then.”

Momoi didn’t miss the nostalgic tone in her voice and looked over at where Daiki was walking toward the locker room. He was yawing and looked like he had been asleep. It was kind of hard to picture someone who loved basketball by watching him. She glanced at Mac who was picking up her notebooks not paying attention to her friends.

“I like being detailed,” Mac continued seemingly unaware of Momoi’s thoughts. “It helps and you’ll learn how to read the game better if you know the players. You learn how they think and what their talents are, and you can predict what they’ll do.”

“Sounds good,” Momoi said and Mac nodded.

There was a buzzing sound coming from Mac’s bag and Mac reached to pull up her phone, Momoi blinked at the genuine smile that spread on her face as she read the text on her phone. Momoi didn’t miss the small blush in the older girl’s cheeks and arched a brow surprised.

Mac placed her phone back and blinked when she saw Momoi look at her making Momoi smile, her intuition going off as she looked at Mac who blushed under Momoi’s stare.

“What?” Mac asked a little gruffly.

“Your boyfriend?” Momoi asked with an arched brow neither noticing Atsushi close by who stiffened at the word.

“Um, yeah,” Mac said sounding shy and happy.

“Really? How long have you been together?” Momoi asked curiously.

“Not long,” Mac said getting up and Momoi could see that she wasn’t about to say much more. “I have to go, but we’ll talk more later Momoi-san. You did good today.”

“Thank you,” Momoi smiled pleased and couldn’t wait until she got home and tell her brother about her day. He would be happy for her, she knew it.

 

“Mac-chin has a boyfriend!”

Daiki’s head snapped up from where he had been tying his shoelace in the locker room. Atsushi’s voice echoed in the almost empty room and he heard the sharp sound of a locker being slammed shut somewhere to his side but his eyes were locked on Atsushi who was scowling looking larger than normal.

“Wh-what?” Ryota was the first to find his voice. His eyes were comically wide as he stared at Atsushi in horror.

“Explain,” Seijuro’s cold voice sounded. It wasn’t loud but even then it was as if it was echoing through the room. Daiki glanced over at him and saw his eyes narrowed with a hard look in his heterochromatic eyes and hands fisted, it had been him that had slammed the locker door shut. His hand still fisted against the door.

Atsushi seemed to feel the pressure from Seijuro’s look and swallowed a little as he looked at the Captain who was close to do something, even though Daiki didn’t know what. He pushed the thoughts about Seijuro away and focused on Mac. She had a boyfriend? How? Who? And why hadn’t she told him… he frowned at the tightness he felt in his chest but pushed it away, he couldn’t worry about what that was right now.

“I heard that new girl with Mac-chin ask Mac if the text she got was her boyfriend and Mac said yes,” Atsushi explained hurriedly.

“Who?” Seijuro asked or demanded.

“I-I don’t know,” Atsushi scowled. “She didn’t say.”

“Did she see you?” Shintaro asked calmly but there was a glint in his eyes that showed how he felt.

“No,” Atsushi shook his head. “They didn’t.”

“Mac-cchi can’t have a boyfriend! She’s too young, too innocent!” Ryota wailed dramatically in the background. “He’ll corrupt her! We have to stop her!”

Daiki scowled and secretly agreed with Ryota. Who could her boyfriend be? It was obvious that this was the reason for her changed behaviour lately, her dreamy smiles and the way she avoided them. She was already being pulled away from them, he ignored the small voice in his mind that said him.

“Where is she?” Seijuro asked with a forced calm voice.

“She was still talking with the new girl when I left to find you,” Atsushi said still scowling. “I don’t like it, Aka-chin. We need to protect Mac-chin. Mac-chin is ours.”

Seijuro nodded and walked toward the door, Daiki got up to follow and noticed that the others did the same. Even Tetsuya even if he looked doubtful and pensive as he looked at them all.

 

They found the new girl by herself gathering her things when they left the locker room and Daiki scowled. He followed Seijuro over to her and saw her eyes widen when she saw them all standing in front of her. She took a small step back picking up on their scowls and tense manner.

“What is it?” she asked.

“Where is Mac?” Seijuro asked without any form of greeting.

The girl, Momoi, blinked and looked around at them all before looking back at a impatient Seijuro. Daiki briefly thought she should answer soon before Seijuro lashed out at her for disobeying him.

“She left,” Momoi said and Daiki groaned.

“Where?” Daiki asked and Momoi looked over at him.

“She didn’t say,” Momoi said.

Seijuro looked at her for a moment before he walked passed her without another look, Daiki followed him since he seemed to have an idea of what to do while he was still reeling over the fact that Mac had a boyfriend. He wasn’t even aware that she was hanging out with boys that wasn’t on the team… wait… no, it couldn’t be…

“Akashi-san, where are we going?” Of course Tetsuya was the one brave enough to ask something from Seijuro when he as in one of his moods.

“We’re going to find her,” Seijuro said so surely that he had no doubt that they would find their missing friend.

 

Mac smiled when she saw her boyfriend standing there waiting for her. She saw him smile when he saw her and waved at her looking like she had made his day just showing up. It made her heart beat faster just thinking that she was important enough for someone to react like that.

“Mac!” Kiyoshi grinned.

“Kiyoshi,” Mac smiled back feeling a little shy but also happy.

“Teppei,” he corrected her, “call me Teppei.”

“Okay, Teppei,” Mac said trying the name and he grinned so wide that she couldn’t help but laugh.

“Hungry?” he asked her.

“Yeah,” Mac said. “just finished practice so haven’t had a chance to eat yet.”

“Let’s go and find something to eat then,” Kiyoshi said and grabbed her hand. Mac smiled and looked down hiding the small blush she was sure was in her cheek. She squeezed his hand lightly and he squeezed back.

They talked on their way to the closest Maji Burger where they were going to have lunch. Despite her protests he paid for her lunch before finding a free table by the windows. They sat across of each other as they ate.

“How was practice?” Kiyoshi asked.

“Good,” Mac glanced at him. “I spent it showing Momoi-san my notes and observations.”

“And Momoi-san is the girl you’re going to teach like your coach asked you to?” Kiyoshi asked.

“Yeah,” Mac said, “I only met her yesterday but she shows promise and she’s interested. I think she’ll be a very good analyst and manager for the team when I leave.”

Kiyoshi nodded and smiled at her. He arched a brow when Mac reached over and grabbed some of his fries.

“Something wrong with yours?” he asked amused.

“No, not really,” Mac shrugged as she took a bit of his fried making him laugh and shake his head.

They talked and laughed having a good time not paying attention to the others in the place or the looks they got, some amused and some jealous.

“Mac-nee!” Suddenly a voice sounded interrupting Mac and Kiyoshi debating the latest book they had read. She turned around in her seat just in time before a small body collided with hers and she saw Ayano looking amused from a few feet away. “Mum took me to eat after football practice. I didn’t know you would be here too!”

“Shiro,” Mac said hugging him back. “Careful or I’ll lose my ability to breath.”

Shiro giggled and pulled back, he then frowned when he noticed Kiyoshi and Mac sighed. She knew that Shiro could be very possessive.

“Who’s that?” Shiro asked rudely and Mac sighed.

“Shiro,” Ayano scolded behind him having come up to the table. She smiled apologetically to both Mac and Kiyoshi, “don’t be rude.”

Shiro frowned but didn’t say anything.

Mac glanced at Kiyoshi who looked curious and smiled warmly at her. She inhaled deeply and looked at Shiro and Ayano, Ayano seemed to have an idea of what was going on and was smiling.

“Teppei, this is my little brother Shiro and his mother Aomine Ayano,” Mac said gently, “and this is my boyfriend, Kiyoshi Teppei.”

“Hi,” Kiyoshi smiled waving at the two. “Nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you too, Kiyoshi-san.” Ayano smiled as she glanced between him and Mac. “I think we’re interrupting a date.”

Mac blushed but smiled. “It’s alright.”

“Boyfriend?” Shiro frowned and looked at Kiyoshi who met his eyes calmly. “Mac-nee is mine.”

“I’ll always be your sister, Shiro,” Mac told him gently, “nothing will change that.”

Shiro glared at Kiyoshi but it lessened when Mac nudged him good-heartedly.

“You better treat my sister right,” Shiro told him.

“I promise,” Kiyoshi nodded and Shiro nodded but scowled a little. He pulled away from Mac and went to stand beside his mother who was smiling still.

“We’ll leave you be,” Ayano said, “please stop by sometime soon, Mac. We miss you at home.”

Mac knew she wanted to talk to her about Kiyoshi so she nodded and waved when the two left. She turned back to Kiyoshi who was still smiling at her.

“Sorry about that,” Mac said.

“Nothing to apologize for,” he said and she could tell he meant it.

 

They went to a small amusement park when they finished eating and Mac told him about one time Daiki had taken her there, Kiyoshi was laughing at the story but she missed the small frown on his face when she wasn’t looking. He did however push it away and held her hand tightly in his as they walked between the stands.

“Oh, we have to try this one!” Mac said when she saw the basketball challenge.

“You don’t think it’s cheating?” Kiyoshi smiled as he watched some other boy try to impress a girl by shooting a small basketball through the hoop. He missed.

“Why?” Mac blinked innocently, “it’s not a rule against a basketball player to try.”

Kiyoshi laughed and nodded and allowed her to pull him over to the stand where the boy and girl just left. The teenager in the stand smiled at them and asked if they wanted to try. Kiyoshi paid for their five tries and exchanged a look with Mac who was smiling looking relaxed.

“Come on,” Mac said.

Kiyoshi chuckled and took his position, he made the five shots and won the prize a medium size teddy-bear.

“Here,” he said handing it over to her.

“Aw, so cute!” Mac beamed and hugged the teddy-bear close. Kiyoshi laughed and took her hand again as they started to walk again.

 

“There they are!” Ryota said staring at Mac who was just receiving a teddy-bear from who he recognised as Kiyoshi Teppei. The player from Shoei who was now in High School, they had seen him once before when he had been waiting for her outside the school.

Seijuro frowned as he recognised Kiyoshi Teppei. He was holding Mac’s hand and she was holding a teddy-bear in her other arm. He must be her boyfriend, but for how long? Since that day outside the school when he was waiting for her? Mac had said he was only a friend… did she lie? He narrowed his eyes as he looked at them from their hiding spot. He ignored the strange looks they gathered from peopled that passed by.

Daiki felt his heart drop when his concern was proven right. Her boyfriend was Kiyoshi Teppei, he couldn’t understand the feelings going through him as he watched them. The smile on Mac’s face or the easy way she seemed to laugh. He fisted his hands as he stared at them, barely aware of his friends around him.

Mac closed her eyes and inhaled for a moment as she caught sight of movement from the corner of her eyes and she recognized her friends who were trying to hide. She should have known that they would show up, and she could only hope they didn’t scare Kiyoshi off with their reaction. She was sure it wouldn’t be pretty.

“I think I should apologize to you now,” Mac said making Kiyoshi arch a brow at her. “My friends seems to have decided to spy and follow me here.”

“Ah,” Kiyoshi said. “They didn’t know?”

“No, because they decided to spy on me instead of asking me,” Mac said sighing, “I just wanted to be happy and not have to deal with their overprotectiveness right away. I would have told them if they’d talked to me, but they kept trying to figure it out without talking to me so… I decided to teach them a lesson. Seems like it backfired.”

“Come let’s talk to your friends,” Teppei smiled and pushed a strand of her hair out of her face as he said it making her smile back at him.

They didn’t give away that they had spotted her friends as they walked down the path until they reached the stall where they were hiding and Mac stopped and looked directly at them. If she hadn’t been so annoyed she would have found their shock and guilty looks at being discovered amusing.

“Something fascinating behind there?” Mac asked with a raised brow.

“You never told us you had a boyfriend,” Seijuro said coolly stepping out from the hiding place without any trace of shame or embarrassment. His cold eyes landed on Kiyoshi who met his eyes calmly even if he felt a little uncomfortable under the cold glare.

“Kenzie, why didn’t you say anything…” Daiki said looking like a lost puppy at her but glared at Kiyoshi when he glanced over at him. “You said he was a friend.”

Mac sighed and tried to ignore the stab at her heart when she picked up the hurt under both Daiki and Seijuro’s words.

“When I said he was a friend then he was a friend,” Mac explained, “he’s only been my boyfriend for a couple of days.”

They looked at her and she met their eyes.

“Hello,” Kiyoshi decided to speak up and bring the attention back at him. He smiled easily at them and waved good-heartedly even as they glared; only Tetsuya smiled a little back at him. “Its nice meeting you all again, Mac has told me a lot about you all.”

Seijuro glanced between them for a moment before stepping out and looked at him even with the difference in height he managed to look intimidating but Kiyoshi didn't seem bothered by it all as he looked down at Seijuro with a polite smile on his face. Mac saw the contemplative look in her boyfriend’s brown eyes though and knew he was thinking about something.

“You’re rather short aren’t you?” Kiyoshi suddenly said and Mac stilled next to him while the others looked shocked and paled dramatically while they could practically see the aura around Seijuro darken. Mac wasn’t the only one who looked worried for Kiyoshi’s safety now, even the rest of the team looked like they might fear for his life now.

“What did you say?” Seijuro low voice sounded menacing and dangerous and Mac was starting t o worry that this would end even worse than she had originally thought. <(p>

“Teppei,” Mac warned and squeezed his hand in hers. “Seijuro, he didn’t mean it like you think…”

“Eh? No, of course not,” Kiyoshi blinked, “I just meant that it’s impressive that you’ve gotten so good at basketball given that basketball normally is a sport that favours tall players.”

Mac snorted and ignored the looks she got from her friends. She relaxed slightly as Seijuro’s expressions calmed somewhat as he gave the taller Centre a considering look. Mac looked at Seijuro and then at Daiki, she knew that those were the two who would be the hardest to convince and if being honest with herself also the two she really wanted to accept this.

Mac looked at Daiki who hadn’t said much and was looking back at her with a look she couldn’t read before looking over at Kiyoshi and frowned a little.

“If you hurt Kenzie I will hurt you,” Daiki suddenly said and stepped in front of Kiyoshi so he was in his personal space and Mac noticed that Daiki was a little shorter than Kiyoshi, but he glared at him all the same. Kiyoshi looked at him before nodding in understanding. Mac smiled a little, but Daiki look away and turned around before walking away. She frowned but let him go, she supposed that this was the closest she would get to an acceptance for right now. She would talk to him later when he’d had time to think and process everything.

“That goes for the rest of us to,” Seijuro spoke up with a calm voice and a smirk played on his lips. “Hurt her and we’ll deal with you.”

“Ok! Stop threatening my boyfriend,” Mac interrupted.

“It’s our job as your friends to threaten your boyfriend,” Seijuro said looking at her. “So, stop complaining.”

Mac frowned but Kiyoshi just laughed and squeezed her hand.

Chapter Text

3rd year – Teiko

 

“Overprotective idiots,” Mac muttered to herself as she closed the door to her bedroom a little harder than necessary and walked to the bed and fell down on it. “Spying, overprotective idiots who thinks they can do whatever they want… argh…”

She had just arrived back home after Kiyoshi had walked her back and with a quick hug and a warm smile had thanked her for a good day and that he would call her the next day, before turning around and walked back the street they came from. He had taken the interruption of their date better than she’d dared to hope, but still… would he put up with her when her friends would interrupt and threaten him like that? Why would he?

The touch of a tongue against her cheek had her smiling and turned her head to look into concerned brown eyes. Nao pressed his nose against her cheek and purred comfortingly making her smile again and reached out to scratch his ear. He mewled and whined slightly.

“Sorry, Nao,” Mac muttered, “didn’t mean to upset you. I just… why do they do that?”

Mac sighed again wishing that Nao could answer her and actually tell her what she wanted, needed, to know.

“I mean, I know I’m their friend and that they care about me,” Mac said and couldn’t help the small smile on her face, because she knew it was the truth. They cared about her and that was something she still couldn’t help smiling about. If it were someone she believed truly cared about her, it was them. “But that doesn’t give them the right to interrupt my date like that! I mean…if it hadn’t been Teppei…”

Sighing again she threw her head back against the pillow and left the sentence hanging in the air. She thought back and had to admit that Kiyoshi had handled it and hadn’t seemed to be intimidated by them. She knew he could handle them, but she had wanted to have them somewhat used to the idea of her having a boyfriend before they met him.

“Argh,” she groaned as her mind spun and she was back at the same place again. She was so confused and angry at her friends but at the same time she knew that much of this was her own fault. She should have told them, but she had decided to be childish and punish them for spying on her at school. Thinking about it… she had been acting different from what they were used to… so perhaps it wasn’t so strange that they decided to spy on her. She wished though that they would have talked to her first though, given her a chance to tell them herself.

Sitting up determined to push her thoughts away she got off the bed and moved to the bathroom to take a shower, but before she got there she ran into Taiga who looked a little awkwardly at her. She arched a brow.

“Do you want to come outside and play some basketball with me?” Taiga asked hurriedly.

Mac thought for a moment before nodding agreeing to his request. Some basketball might be exactly what she needed right about now.

“Just let me change first,” she said making him nod and smile at her. She smiled back and turned to go back into her room to change.

 

“I’ll beat you this time,” Taiga said when they faced each other on the court. “I won’t be taken by surprise again.”

Mac smirked at him, “you’re still not on a level where you can beat me.”

He narrowed his eyes and she raised a brow at the challenge she saw in his eyes before she smirked wider and felt the anticipation fill her. She liked the look in his eyes, he was by no means dejected by her words but instead he let it fill him with a sense of determination and challenge.

“I’ll do it!” he swore.

“We’ll see,” was all she said before she lunged forward and stole the ball from him making him blink in surprise. “but first…don’t be distracted. Expect the unexpected at all times, Taiga.”

He frowned but his eyes burned with a will to prove himself and she bounced the ball playfully around her and moved across the court while avoiding him at the same time. She held back from going toward the hoop wanting to see how he dealt with being on the defensive. She knew his power was more in the offence department, and that he needed to work on his defence.

She attacked and got past him with a quick twist and correct read on what he would do next so she found herself in front of the hoop alone and easily put the ball through the hoop. She heard the annoyed curse behind her and turned to see Taiga mutter to himself and look a little worn out.

“Again!” he barked.

“Alright,” Mac said throwing the ball to him and got in her position.

Her sharp eyes took in how he moved and what positions he favoured, it was all going into the file she was working on in her mind and would write when they finished the practice. She matched his movements and saw the growing frustration in his red eyes, but he kept going and with narrow eyes tried to work his way past her.

She blinked when he suddenly found an opening and turned around quickly to catch up with him. She used her speed to catch up to him, but he was already jumping up to dunk the ball. She barely managed to jump in time and stop him from making the dunk and made the ball fall back to the ground.

Landing she breathed a little harder and looked at her cousin with a raised brow, that had been unexpected. He was looking frustrated that his chance had been stopped, not seeing that he had almost done it and with a little more speed and timing his jumping he would have scored. She smiled as she picked up the ball and a small flame of hope started to burn in her chest, a hope she would keep close to her chest for now but he might just be what they needed.

“Good work,” Mac said making him look at her.

“You won,” he said wiping sweat off his forehead, “again.”

“Yes, but you were good,” Mac said tilting her head slightly as she watched him. “You didn’t give up.”

“Of course not!” He looked so indignant that she couldn’t help the smile that broke out on her face in both amusement and wonder as she saw his reaction. “You’ll never win if you give up! One day I will beat you!”

Mac stared at him for a moment her face had gone blank as she stared at him. If only everyone had that attitude toward basketball… everything would have been different if those they played against would think like that.

“Mac?” Taiga waved a hand in front of her eyes breaking her out of her thought and she blinked at him before shaking herself out of her musings.

“Oh, sorry,” she said smiling slightly.

“You okay, Mac?” Taiga asked a little awkwardly but she saw real concern in his eyes as he looked at her. “You looked…sad.”

Mac bent down to pick up Nao who had come over to her from where he had been resting near the bench, and scratched his ear as she straightened up and looked over at Taiga again. He was still watching her but was frowning now.

“Just thought that it would be nice if more thought like you,” Mac admitted quietly. “Come on, let’s go home.”

Taiga nodded and looked confused but much to Mac’s relief didn’t ask her anything else. She was tired and just wanted to change into her pyjamas and curl up in her bed. Playing had released the pent up frustration she felt and now she was just tired and ready to sleep.

 

Sato’s house

 

“Potter-san, can you tell me what is the difference between a werewolf and an animagi?” Professor Sato asked.

Mac thought for a moment before remembering having read about this a few days ago.

“Um, a werewolf is someone who’s forced into transition into a wolf every full moon, it’s a painful transition,” Mac said looking at her professor who was nodding his head as she spoke. “While an animagi is someone who have learned how to transition into a animal. Unlike a werewolf their animal isn’t decided and will wary from person to person. Some say it will reflect your personality in some way.”

“Very good,” Professor Sato said and got up to write something on the board behind him. She started to write it down immediately. “There is no cure for a werewolf bite…”

“But isn’t there a potion that will help the wizard/witch to keep their minds during the change? I thought I read something about it…” Mac interrupted.

“Yes, there is,” Professor Sato said looking slightly surprised as he looked at her. “That’s not really in the curriculum until sixth year though.”

“I found it interesting and wanted to know if there was something that could be done for the werewolves,” Mac explained at the question in his eyes, she blushed slightly at the attention. “I…I just wanted to see if there was a way to help…”

Professor Sato looked at her for a long moment making her feel a little uncomfortable before he smiled at her.

“There is a potion called the Wolfsbane Potion,” Professor Sato explained as the name was magical written on the board. “It’s not a cure, but it relieves the symptoms of lycanthropy.”

“How do you make it?” Mac asked curiously.

“With very much difficulty” Professor Sato said. “The main ingredient is wolfsbane, also known as aconite or monkshood.”

“That’s a plant, right?” Mac frowned trying to remember.

“That’s right,” Professor Sato nodded. “The plant is also very poisonous and therefor makes the potion very difficult to make. If not made correctly it will be dangerous. The potion will be needed to be taken everyday in the preceding week of the full moon.”

“It’s expensive?” Mac asked frowning slightly.

“Yes,” Professor Sato nodded looking at her curiously when he saw the frown on her face.

“But…I read that werewolves are often discriminated against and has a harder time getting a job,” Mac said. “How will they afford the potion?”

“Many don’t,” Professor Sato said and saw the flash of anger in her eyes and raised a brow.

“Then how can they be blamed for the full moon if they’re denied the chance at the potion that can help them?” Mac asked or rather demanded.

“I am afraid I can’t give you a good answer to your question, Potter-san,” Professor Sato admitted. “It’s not much talked about and most will rather pretend that the problem doesn’t exist.”

Mac leaned back in her seat and scowled at the desk at the unfairness of it all.

“There will be many things in this world you will find unfair and difficult,” Professor Sato said when he saw the reaction in her. “It’s good that you care, and perhaps you will one day find a way to help. You’ll never know.”

Mac nodded but didn’t say anything more, she wasn’t sure what to say so she just focused on the lesson as he continued to explain the animagi to her. She felt curious about the ability and wondered if she could possibly learn how to be on one day. She would have to look into it later.

 

Teiko

 

Mac walked into the gym and immediately saw her friends standing together, she paused just because it was not usual to see them all together before a practice these days. They were whispering together and looking intense, she could tell that they hadn’t spotted her yet. She looked at them and wondered what they were talking about so intensely and almost walked over to them, but something held her back. While she wasn’t as angry anymore she still felt upset and was more disappointed that they decided to go behind her back like that, and that stopped her from walking over to them.

She turned and walked to where she saw Momoi standing looking a little worried and curious all the same. She smiled when she saw Mac coming toward her.

“Hi Potter-san,” Momoi said.

“Hi Momoi,” Mac nodded at her, “you can call me Mac, you know, like everyone else.”

Momoi smiled and nodded.

“How was your date?” Momoi asked a little unsurely like she was overstepping a line.

Mac glanced at her and then glanced over at her friends who were now looking at her, she huffed and turned back toward Momoi.

“It went well,” Mac said with a smile. “Teppei was…wonderful.”

Momoi smiled and looked a little dreamy making Mac smile at her as she glanced over at her friends again. She met Seijuro’s eyes for a moment before looking away from him and rolled her shoulders a little trying to clear her mind. She listened to Momoi talk until Sanada entered the gym and started the practice.

Mac split her time during the practice with participate and show Momoi how to work on her observing skills and how to take the best notes. While practicing she kept her conversation with her friends short and to the point, ignoring the way they looked at her. Or trying to ignore it, the looks they gave her was like they had lost their puppy and it was her fault, she could feel herself softening and cursing herself for doing so already.

 

“Kenzie!” Daiki stopped in front of her before she could escape from the gym when the practice was over. His eyes a little darker than normal and his hair ruffled as if he had pulled a hand through it a few times. Something he did when he was stressed.

“Mac-cchi!” Ryota looked at her with wide teary eyes and a small pout on his face.

“Mac-chin are you mad at us?” Atsushi asked childishly. Seijuro, Shintaro and Tetsuya were all standing there looking at her as well.

Mac barely noticed that they were now the only ones left in the gym as she looked at her friends who were all looking at her like she was keeping something from them. She huffed and crossed her arms over her chest trying to remind herself that she was angry at them. They had overstepped their boundaries and she wasn’t going to forgive them this easily….or at least that was what she kept telling herself.

“Mac,” Seijuro said his voice cool and eyes sharp but she saw the slight hesitation in him that he hid very well. “Are you going to ignore us for the rest of your life?”

“What?!” Ryota wailed. “You can’t ignore us, Mac-cchi! Please! Talk to us, please!”

“Shut up, Kise!” Shintaro snapped glaring at the blond before pushing his glasses back up his nose as he looked at Mac. She saw the flash of worry in his eyes as he looked at her. “You’re annoying, Kise.”

“So mean,” Ryota mumbled but he quietened down slightly.

“We’re sorry, Mac-san,” Tetsuya said quietly and Mac glanced at him. He looked really remorseful and she knew that the spying hadn’t been his idea and that he was more than likely been dragged along without really wanting to.

“Kenzie…” Daiki stepped forward and Mac narrowed her eyes at him. “Please.”

The small word was enough to break her and she sighed.

“Seriously,” Mac muttered to herself. “Did you really have to spy on me?”

“Well…” Daiki frowned, “you were acting strange and all…giggly, we were worried.”

The others nodded.

“Mac-chin has a boyfriend and we have to protect Mac-chin from getting hurt,” Atsushi added like it was a common fact.

“Ever thought to just ask me?” Mac arched a brow at them deciding to ignore Atsushi’s comment for now. “I would have told you if you asked me.”

“Why didn’t you tell us?” Seijuro asked with narrow eyes staring at her. “You were trying to hide it from us, and we’re your friends!”

She could hear the betrayal he felt in his voice and she frowned, she wasn’t sure she thought he had a reason to feel betrayed. She looked at him for a moment and realised that he had felt hurt that she hadn’t told him.

“Well, I was going to,” Mac said giving them all a look, “but then I spotted you spying on me and instead of asking you continued to spy and speculate. I was going to tell you the next day instead.”

They all looked a little shameful and she knew them well enough to know that they were sorry for it.

“And why did you have to interrupt my date like that?” Mac asked feeling hurt again. The anger was gone but the hurt remained, “were you trying to ruin it?”

“We must make sure he’s good enough for you,” Seijuro said calmly. “No one will get the chance to break your heart and we will make sure of it.”

Mac sighed and turned away from them. She knew and understood that they just wanted to protect her, but she didn’t need it. She could take care of herself, though a part of her was grateful and warmed over the fact that they wanted to protect her. She looked over at them again and their wide eyes or concerned looks had her give in and she smiled slightly.

“Fine, I’ll forgive you,” Mac said ignoring the way Ryota cheered. “But please, don’t do it again. Teppei is a good guy and even if he was to hurt me, you can’t protect me from everything. I might be the one to hurt him, or we might make it. We don’t know and for now I just… I want to give it, give him a chance. “

She looked at them and saw the torn expressions and noticed that Daiki looked sad but he nodded when she met his eyes and gave her a small smile. She looked over at Seijuro knowing that he was the one who had to agree for the others to follow suit.

“If he hurts you I will deal with him,” Seijuro said and she took it for what it was, an agreement to behave. It was the best she could get, so she would take it.

“Thank you,” Mac said and smiled more genuinely before laughing when Ryota shouted group hug and somehow managed to get everyone in a large hug. She really wouldn’t know what she’d do without them.

“Let’s go to the grocery store like old time!” Ryota suggested.

Mac nodded agreeing with the rest of them before grabbing her bag and letting Nao out of it before following the others to the grocery store. She laughed and felt warmth fill her as she was surrounded by her friends again.

 

“Mac-nee!” Sayuri smiled when she saw Mac enter the house behind Daiki.

“Hi Sayuri,” Mac smiled and hugged the girl when she rushed to her. “How are you?”

“I’m fine,” Sayuri smiled, “is it true?”

“Is what true?” Mac asked confused.

“Do you really have a boyfriend? Shiro said so,” Sayuri said looking at Mac with wide eyes and an expectant look in her eyes.

“Yes, let’s hear about this boyfriend of yours,” Takehiro said having entered the house right behind her and Daiki and heard the last comment from his daughter. Mac blushed and rubbed her neck self-consciously.

“Now, stop tease Mac, dear,” Ayano scolded from the doorway to the living room. “Come inside, Mac.”

Mac followed and was very aware of the looks she was getting from the others. Shiro grinned and hugged her when he saw her before going back to the game he was playing on his iPad.

“So, you didn’t answer!” Sayuri said when they had finished dinner and Mac had wondered when she would bring it up again. She glanced at Daiki who had a carefully blank look on his face, but smiled slightly when he saw her looking. She was a little confused to the sudden change in him, but pushed it away for later.

“Um, yes I do have a boyfriend,” Mac admitted.

“What’s his name?” Sayuri asked, “How did you meet? Does he go to your school?”

“Calm down,” Ayano told her daughter amused, “she can’t answer if you don’t let her.”

Mac smiled a little, “well, his name is Kiyoshi Teppei and I met him when we played against him last year. We met again a few weeks after the game and kept meeting to play basketball. He’s in High School now.”

“Oh, so romantic,” Sayuri cooed making Mac blush a little but didn’t comment. She thought she saw a slightly worried look in Takehiro’s eyes but Ayano was squeezing his hand and it was gone. He smiled at her instead.

“He will behave or I will deal with him,” Shiro said, “I warned him.”

Mac shook her head slightly and gave Daiki a look, “yeah, you and everyone else.”

“Oh? Daiki warned him too?” Takehiro asked with a teasing look in his eyes. “Good for you.”

Mac sighed again and met Ayano’s sympathetic eyes. “He seemed like a nice young man.”

Mac nodded and smiled making Ayano smile a little. Mac missed the look she shot Daiki who had been quiet since the conversation started.

 

“You’re spending the night?” Daiki asked when he saw Mac settling in on the sofa with a book. The twins were in bed and he could hear his parents in the kitchen talking softly with each other. He sat down on the edge of the sofa and looked at her.

“Yeah,” Mac nodded, “your mum said I could and I already asked uncle Tarou. He said it was ok.”

“Good,” Daiki smiled a little and Mac looked at him.

“Are you ok, Daiki?” Mac asked.

“I’m fine, Kenzie,” Daiki said.

“You sure? You seem sad….” Mac said worried.

Daiki looked away knowing it was pointless to deny it since Mac could read him like an open book most days. He was not really sure why he felt sad or worried, but he felt like he was losing his best friend. It was hard to feel like that and he acted out without really thinking, and ended up hurting her. He sighed a little.

“It’s nothing…” Daiki said smiling slightly at her, “just… everything is changing.”

Mac looked at him for a moment and he felt like she saw right through him and before he could say anything she was reaching out and took his hand in hers squeezing it comfortingly.

“I’m still your best friend and you’re mine,” Mac said meeting his eyes. “That will never change.”

He looked at her for a moment before he nodded and smiled, but there was still something almost sad in his eyes. She frowned a little, but didn’t press him. She put her book on the table and curled her feet under her.

“Let’s watch a movie,” she said.

 

“Preliminaries for Nationals start next week,” Mac said throwing a ball through the hoop effortlessly and watched as it bounced on the asphalt underneath it.

“I think asking if you’re ready for it will be unnecessary, but I’ll ask anyway,” Kiyoshi said picking up the ball and looked at her. “So, are you?”

“I have every confidence that we’ll win,” Mac said knowing it was very likely, “I just… I worry. I have a bad feeling for this.”

Kiyoshi looked at her and asked, “your team?”

“They’ve grown even more,” Mac admitted, “and…and I fear they will hurt others with their play. I can’t…I don’t know how to make them play seriously and not make others feel like giving up at the same time…”

She had thought about that a lot, ever since Kiyoshi had told her about his friend on his team who had stopped playing basketball because of them. She still felt guilty and had reservation against playing and hurt others. What right had they to ruin their dreams?

“Hi,” Kiyoshi said grabbing her shoulder. “You can only be responsible for your own actions, Mac. Not your teams or anyone else. You go out and play the best you can and show respect that way, you have a right to play basketball just as much as anyone else. Remember that.”

Mac nodded but still felt wary and guilty, but it was better.

“What about you? Are you and your team ready for the preliminaries?” Mac asked changing the subject slightly at least getting the focus off herself.

“Yes, we’re getting there,” Kiyoshi grinned. “Riko is putting us through a lot of hard training.”

Mac smiled and listened to him tell her about the training she put them through and she felt her respect for the girl she never met grow. She would like to meet her one day and compare notes. That would be interesting.

“Care to join me for dinner?” Kiyoshi asked making Mac blink at the sudden formal tone in his voice.

“Um, sure,” Mac said and he grinned.

“Great! Because grandma said to invite you home for dinner today!” Kiyoshi said.

Mac felt her eyes widen. “What? You mean…you want me to meet your grandparents?”

“Of course,” Kiyoshi smiled. “They also wants to meet you. You’ll come, right?”

Mac inhaled deeply before she nodded feeling insecure and weary, but who could say no when Kiyoshi was looking at her like that? She smiled and he positively beamed back at her and grabbed her hand before starting to drag her with him. She couldn’t help laughing as she followed him and heard Nao disgruntle bark behind her as he ran to catch up to them.

 

“Ah, you must be the young girl our Teppei is so captured with,” a woman with grey hair and a warm kind smile said when Mac followed Kiyoshi into the house. Mac blushed, but smiled at her feeling butterflies in her stomach as she felt the sharp brown eyes on her.

“Um, yeah,” Mac stumbled slightly and glanced to Kiyoshi who was still grinning and back to the woman she was sure was Kiyoshi’s grandmother. “I’m Potter Mackenzie. Nice to meet you, ma’am.”

“I’m Kiyoshi Miyako,” the older woman smiled and stepped forward surprising Mac by hugging her. “I’m so pleased to meet you, Mac. Can I call you Mac? Teppei talks so much about you, so I feel like I already know you.”

“Sure,” Mac blinked but smiled.

“Dear! Come meet the wonderful girl Teppei brought home!” Kiyoshi Miyako called and soon an older man with a cane came into the living room. He smiled when he spotted Mac and Kiyoshi next to his wife.

“Ah, Mac,” he said, “I’m Kiyoshi Haru. Nice to finally meet you.”

“You too,” Mac smiled nervously and glanced at Kiyoshi who smiled pleased.

“About time you brought her home with you, son,” Kiyoshi Haru said looking at his grandson. “We’ve been hearing a lot about you.”

“Grandpa,” Kiyoshi said sounding a little embarrassed.

Mac smiled feeling more relaxed as she sat down next to her boyfriend who took her hand in his. She glanced over at his grandparents and saw their pleased smiles when they noticed the connected hands.

“How long have you been in Japan, Mac?” Kiyoshi Haru asked after dinner and they were back in the living room. She was seated beside Kiyoshi who had taken her hand again making her smile up at him.

“Well, I think its about six years now,” Mac said before blinking as she realised just how long she had been in Japan. “I moved here when I were 8 years old with my aunt and uncle and cousin.”

She grimaced slightly at the mention of her former family and missed the looks the older Kiyoshi’s shared.

“Teppei says you’re a good basketball player,” Kiyoshi Miyako said changing the subject.

“I’m…alright,” Mac said shyly and glanced at Kiyoshi when he snorted.

“Come on, Mac,” he said, “you’re better than alright. You’re very good.”

Mac shrugged but didn’t protest his words.

“Have you played long?” Kiyoshi Haru asked.

“I started to play with Daiki when I met him when I were 8,” Mac shrugged. “At first it was only the two of us. We would go to street courts and play together or find someone to play against. It was fun. Then we started Teiko and he joined the basketball team. I only joined as a manager at first.”

“Why?” Kiyoshi asked having not heard how she joined the team before.

“My uncle wouldn’t have let me play,” Mac shrugged, “but I would play Daiki after practices most days and on the weekends. Then the others found out and joined us. We had fun and the playing didn’t mean anything… we just…enjoyed basketball…”

Mac paused and Kiyoshi understood the longing in her eyes as she talked about the past, he knew she missed that part of her friends.

“I joined the team last year after my aunt and uncle left and Daiki’s parents were my temporary guardians,” Mac continued. “Seijuro decided that I was needed on the team and…well, tricked me into playing in front of the coach. He hadn’t seen me play before, so…”

“Tricked you?” Kiyoshi Miyako asked.

“When Seijuro decides that he wants something, he makes sure it happens,” Mac rolled her eyes. “It’s just the way he is. He didn’t mean anything by it, other than that he knew I wouldn’t do anything on my own and I needed the push.”

Mac shared some stories of the better days on her team and they smiled amused as she told them how they would bicker and just have fun. Kiyoshi saw another side to the team he knew to be practically invincible and the happiness in Mac as she shared some of her fonder memories of them with him and his grandparents. In return he shared stories from his childhood with the help from his grandparents.

By the time she had to leave Mac felt relaxed and accepted by the older couple and she could see how much Kiyoshi cared about them. He was so gentle and kind toward them and it had her smiling as she watched him talk to his grandfather for a moment before he was going to walk her home.

“Please, stop by anytime, Mac,” Kiyoshi Miyako told her bringing Mac’s attention back to her. “You’re always welcome here.”

“Thank you,” Mac said feeling the warmth that came with acceptance fill her. “I will. It was very nice meeting you.”

“You as well,” the woman smiled.

 

“They liked you,” Kiyoshi said when they walked toward the bus stop.

“I liked them as well,” Mac smiled at him. “They’re very kind and warm.”

“I know,” he nodded. “They’re great.”

She smiled a little hearing the warmth in his voice and obvious affection. She wished she had someone like that, she would never have talked about the Dursley’s like that and while she had a better relationship with the Kagami’s she wasn’t quite there yet where she could let herself care like that for them.

“Teppei…” Mac said quietly when they were waiting for the bus.

“Yes?” he looked at her with a raised brow.

“I’m sorry for how my friends acted last time,” Mac finally managed to say. She had been reluctant to bring it up, afraid that he would be angry or something.

“Why?” Kiyoshi looked surprised.

“They…”

“I don’t think you have anything to apologize for, Mac,” Kiyoshi said. “They’re just looking out for you, and I can handle it. So, don’t worry about it.”

Mac smiled and felt the weight lift from her shoulders as she saw the sincerity in his eyes. She should have known he would be unbothered by the action of her friends. He wasn’t the type to let something like that bother him.

Chapter Text

3rd year – Teiko – preliminaries

 

“Something wrong?”

Mac looked away from the opposing players and over at Seijuro who stood in front of her with a searching look in his eyes. She frowned and looked over at the other team getting ready for their match. She could see the nerves and almost dejected looks in their eyes. Was it there or did she just see what she feared?

“Nothing,” Mac said dismissively.

She knew that her team was better than Dojimazaki Junior High; she had researched them very well and knew all of their players, their strengths and their weaknesses. She knew that her friends would walk over them if Dojimazaki didn’t manage to muster up the will to fight. Looking at them, she couldn’t see it. They looked nervous and she felt her shoulders slump slightly.

“What?” She asked when she saw Seijuro still looking at her.

“You’re upset,” he frowned. “Why?”

She shrugged and stood up from the bench, she didn’t want to say anything because she knew that Seijuro didn’t share her worries. Not anymore. Tetsuya would be the only one who would see what she was worried about, but she didn’t want to burden him either with her worries. He had enough to deal with, she had noticed that during the preliminaries he had barely smiled and looked more depressed than normal. Glancing over at him now she barely saw him, it was like was trying to disappear. But she saw him standing by himself looking at the basketball in his hands with a look she couldn’t read.

“Mac…” Seijuro’s tone was a warning and she knew he was frustrated that she wouldn’t tell him.

“It’s nothing, Seijuro,” Mac said shortly. “Just thinking about the game.”

He looked at her before shaking his head and turned back to the preparations to the game and let Mac to her own devices. She felt both relieved and disappointed that he did as her mind went back to worrying and she didn’t really want to.

“Mac?” Momoi asked stepping up to her and she gave the other girl a small smile.

“Hi Momoi,” Mac said, “you ready to take a place on the bench as a manager?”

“I think so,” Momoi said looking nervous, “but I am a little nervous.”

“You’ll do fine,” Mac smiled at her. “Just remember what we talked about and I won’t be playing the whole game, so we can talk during the match.”

Momoi nodded and Mac looked back at the court. The game was almost ready to start and the gym was filled with people already. She sighed and forced herself to focus on the match.

 

Mac had a carefully blank look on her face as Atsushi forcefully dunked a ball through the hoop even with tree marks on him, all three fell to the ground with wide fearful eyes as an almost scared gasp went through the team and the crowd watching. She knew with one look that her fear was coming true. They were not able to put up the fight they needed, and because of that…her team was getting bored.

She looked at Atsushi and saw no joy or anything that resembled happiness over having just scored another goal making sure they just won their game a 109 to 5. It was like they didn’t know how to show emotions anymore over their basketball and that pained her. This was….this wasn’t what she wanted. She looked at her friends again and sighed before turning away from them just as the final buzzer went off.

“What…” Momoi gasped making Mac glance over at the younger girl who was staring at the court like she had no idea what she just witnessed. Mac realised that she probably hadn’t really seen just how good they had become before now.

“You’ve never seen them play a match since that time with your brother, have you?” Mac asked as she took a swipe of her water.

“I…no, but…” Momoi stammered. “What was that?”

Mac sighed and looked away from the girl who looked so shocked; she felt another weigh settled over her. She couldn’t hide what her friends were capable off, but she didn’t really want Momoi to see this side of them. It was one thing to see them at practice where they would at least try and could challenge each other, but to see them like this…

“That was the difference in level between the other schools and us,” Mac said before walking to the locker room leaving a stunned Momoi behind.

 

“Games are kind of boring, aren’t they?” Atsushi asked when they were seated together in the locker room waiting for the game of the day to start.

Momoi looked at the tall centre while Mac kept her eyes on the book she had brought while trying to keep her mind of the defeated looks she’d seen on the Dojimazaki Junior High players’ faces. She could understand the frustrated tears of a loss, but this went beyond that. This was the loss of a dream and she could see the dream slip from their eyes as they stared at her and her friends.

“Eh?” Daiki glanced over at Atsushi with a bored expression on his face. “Our opponents have been too weak to offer real competition for a long time.”

“What do they call those five decent guys?” Atsushi asked.

“Nah, you mean the Uncrowned something?” Ryota asked.

Mac glanced up at the mention of the group Kiyoshi was a part of and saw the mildly curious expressions on her team faces.

“Yeah, them;” Atsushi said lazily. “They were tough, but they’re all gone this year, right?”

“Mac-cchi’s boyfriend was one of them, wasn’t he?” Ryota wondered looking over at Mac who met his eyes with a blank look on her face.

“Teppei was one of them, yeah,” Mac nodded.

“Oh… the Centre,” Atsushi said with a frown. “I crushed him.”

Mac narrowed her eyes at the purple haired centre. “He got back up and never gave up fighting.”

“Whatever,” the lazy response had Mac fisting her hands in annoyance and grit her teeth together to keep from starting an argument in the locker room. She saw the concerned look from Momoi and knew she was worried never having seen them like this before. She forced herself to calm down and looked over at Seijuro who was seemingly not paying attention to them as he was leaned over his knees with a small smirk on his face.

“It’s so easy; I don’t have any desire to play.”

Mac shook her head and turned away from him not wanting to go into the argument again. She did notice that Shintaro turned slightly and frowned as he heard Atsushi’s statement. The tension was high in the locker room and Mac didn’t know how to deal with it. She got up and walked out of the room wanting to be by herself for a bit before the game. She could feel everyone’s eyes on her but she ignored them.

 

Leaning against the wall outside the large hall she took a moment to just observe the people swarming around, most entering the hall but some just hanging out waiting for their friends. She could see the different team jerseys and recognized a few from her research. She couldn’t help but wonder what they thought about her and the so called Generation of Miracles. Did they even dare hope to win or were they resigned on getting the spots behind Teiko in their dream of entering Nationals?

“Did you see Teiko playing Dojimazaki Junior High yesterday?”

Mac stilled as she heard a voice close by and slowly turned her head to take a look at who was speaking. She saw two girls standing a few steps beside her, she was partly hidden by a door that was opened but she could see them perfectly.

“Yes,” the other girl nodded, “I couldn’t believe it. To think that one team can be that good…”

“It’s unfair,” her friend said with a scowl. “They shouldn’t be allowed to play. I mean… who has a chance against them? My boyfriend said that everyone fears them and knows they’re going to lose even before they play. Shouldn’t someone in the committee or something stop them?”

Mac knew she should just walk away, stop listening, but she couldn’t move. It was like she was glued to the wall. Perhaps she was just determined to torture herself with listening to others saying just what she herself was thinking.

“How could they stop them?”

“I don’t know,” the girl shrugged. “Perhaps they should limit how many of those Generation of Miracles could play in a match at the same time? Maybe the other teams would have a chance then?”

“I don’t know…” the other girl looked sceptical. “They all look really strong. It looked like just one of them could have beaten Dojimazaki yesterday…”

Mac winced knowing it was the truth, especially with the way Dojimazaki had played. Looking over at the girls again she saw the way they leaned close like they were sharing secrets not caring that anyone could hear them.

“They even have a girl on their team, did you notice?”

“I know! I thought that was just a rumour.”

“They must be sure of themselves if they let a girl play with them.”

“Do you think she’s one of their girlfriend?”

“Maybe.”

“I bet that is the only reason they let her play. I wonder what they did to make their coach agree.”

“I think perhaps you should stop talking about things you don’t understand and walk away,” a very familiar cool voice interrupted the girls who paled and stared wide eyed at a angry looking Seijuro. “Before I decide to show you just why people fear me.”

“We…”

“Um…”

“Walk. Away. Now.” He glared at them harshly taking a step closer and they both scrambled off.

&nbso;

“Mac?” Seijuro sounded worried and Mac glanced at him to see the warmth in his heterochromatic eyes that normally were cold and calculating. “You ok?”

Mac swallowed before she nodded and tried to smile at her friend. He frowned and grabbed her hand to pull her with him, but she resisted and he frowned at her but stopped trying to pull her with him.

“What are you doing out here?” he asked.

“Nothing…” Mac muttered.

“That’s the second time you try to dismiss me with a ‘nothing’,” Seijuro scowled at her. “Tell me, Mac. What’s wrong? Why were you just standing there listening to what those two were saying?”

Mac looked away from him and let her eyes scan over the crowd again, she could tell that they were not on anyone’s radar and that she and Seijuro was undiscovered or so to speak.

“I was just thinking about how everything has changed,” Mac admitted quietly.

“Changed?”

“Everything has changed, Seijuro,” Mac looked at him. “You can’t deny it. You’ve changed, Daiki has…changed. Everyone has changed and… I hate it. I hate it.”

He looked at her, but didn’t speak and she felt frustrated.

“I don’t know if I can do this anymore,” she whispered.

“You want to quit?!” his tone was low and sharp. She saw his eyes shine dangerously as he stared at her. “Because of what those girls said? Because you can’t handle change? Mac, you’re on this team and you can’t quit. You have a right to play basketball just as much as anyone and you’re on our team because you’re good. Don’t let what others say influence you. You are the best and they should know that.”

Mac could hear the anger in his voice and felt the possessiveness almost roll off him as he stared at her with a hard look in his eyes, but there was something hidden behind his eyes that had her wonder just what he was thinking. He almost looked….scared. But scared off what?

“Don’t you dare even think about quitting, I will not allow it,” he warned before turning around and walked away from her. She was left staring after him filled with mixed emotions.

 

“Aaaaa!” Ryota exclaimed horrified as the ball left his hand and Mac could tell even from where she was seated on the bench that he would miss.

“Mine,” Atsushi claimed lazily as he finished the shot by jumping up and dunking it into the basket.

“That was my basket!” Ryota cried as he ran beside Atsushi a glower on his face.

“Your fault for missing,” Atsushi said with a lazy look on his face as he glanced over at Ryota.

“Either way,” Daiki said as he too joined in, “you’re dead last.”

“I’ll catch up!” Ryota declared fisting a hand as he angrily looked at Daiki who had already ran past him.

Mac shook her head as she felt her eyes travel to the opposing team who was looking shaken and defeated, but one player was looking more angry than anything else. He was glaring at the backs of her team.

“Shit…” he cursed and Mac barely heard him. “They’re competing to see who can score the most points!”

She narrowed her eyes as she looked back at her friends and wondered what they were thinking, well, she could see why they were doing what they were doing. They needed the challenge, but… it made her stomach clench as she realised just how…open they were in doing so. A almost inaudible sound had her look to her side and she saw Tetsuya looking shocked and disturbed as he was staring at the court.

She frowned as she observed her friend and realised that he was struggling even more than she had thought, she could see it in his eyes. He was close to losing against the overpowering strengths in the team and the change in their friends. She couldn’t bare to see that look in the eyes of one of her closest friends. She needed to fix it. She had to.

“Member change, Teiko!” The referee called and Mac got up with and pushed her thoughts and worried behind her blank mask as she gave Momoi a nod when she saw the wide pink eyes look at her. She squared her shoulders and entered the court just as Ryota sat down at the bench with a pout. He didn’t like being taken off the court.

Mac caught the ball when Daiki passed to her and she saw that the angry one was in front of her, she saw a small flicker of a challenge in his eyes as he stared at her. She could see that he was tired and was close to giving up. Could she push him and be the reason he gave up?

A small resentful voice in her mind asked her what right she had to even play with the boys, and she almost unwillingly glanced to where Seijuro was watching her with narrowed eyes. She remembered his words and she knew that he didn’t believe that she didn’t have a right to play. Her mind went to Teppei and she felt a new determination fill her. He would tell her to have fun and just play.

She knew she hadn’t hesitated for long and bounced the ball to the side and the defender followed making her smile. She saw the shock in his eyes when he saw the smile and he almost stumbled before he got a pensive look in his eyes. She used her speed and ability to read his body language in her favour to pass him and avoid the hand that almost managed to steel the ball from her before she passed the ball to Shintaro who took the shot and scored.

 

They won. It was a clear victory and Mac could tell that her friends didn’t think much of the game or the team they had just played. She, however, thought they had potential. She grabbed her bag (where Nao was) and put it over her shoulder as she thought that she had to get Nao up soon so he could run around outside and not just insider her magical enchanted bag.

She followed her team when they left the gym and ended up walking beside Tetsuya who was silent and looked very thoughtful. Mac glanced at him wondering what she could do to help him, she knew he struggled with what had happened in the match and while she didn’t like it either she could understand what made them do it. She hated that she did, though.

“Why did you do that during today’s game?” Tetsuya finally spoke up breaking the silence that had been among them.

“What are you talking about, Kurokocchi?” Ryota asked in his normal cheerful way, his complaints from the match already forgotten. “We’re just playing around.”

“I think its rude to the other team,” Tetsuya said.

“You’re the one who said we shouldn’t slack off,” Daiki pointed out as he glanced behind him and looked at Tetsuya. “We’re playing a game to motivate us against weaklings.”

“Right, Midorima?” Daiki threw a arm over Shintaro’s shoulders.

“Shut up,” Shintaro huffed annoyed, “I want no part of your games.”

Tetsuya stopped abruptly with wide struck eyes as the rest of the team continued to walk, but Mac stopped when she realised that Tetsuya had stopped. She turned slightly and looked at him in silence. She felt her heart break for him knowing that he was truly bothered by the response. She wanted to hit Daiki over the head for his choice of words knowing that Tetsuya was sensitive to the word and often struggled to not see himself as someone ‘weak’ in comparison to the rest of the team. For Daiki to throw the word at him like that…well, Mac would have a word with him about that later.

 

Kiyoshi walked with his friends and team toward the hall where they were going to play for their spot in Inter High, and he was wondering if Mac had finished her game yet. He would think so, since there were a lot of people outside.

“Wow,” Kiyoshi exclaimed. “There are a lot of people.”

He knew why there were a lot of people but he liked commenting like that just to annoy Hyuga who sighed and looked to a board where a few notices were hanging.

“Looks like they’re playing the middle school qualifiers today,” Hyuga said.

Just then Kiyoshi noticed the group exiting the hall walking right passed them without a glance in their direction. He could hear his team comment on them as he watched them with a pensive look on his face.

“What?”

“Teiko Middle School…”

“They’re more imposing than we are!” Koganei said almost awed. “Aren’t they middle school students?”

Kiyoshi looked for Mac and found her in the back looking serious and like something was bothering her, he frowned worried as he wanted to call out to her but something held him back. Suddenly she looked toward them and met his eyes. She slowed her pace slightly as she smiled at him and nodded to both him and his team respectfully.

“Mac! Hurry up!” Kiyoshi heard her captain call for her and she rolled her eyes before shooting Kiyoshi a last smile and walked away.

“Eh?” Koganei blinked. “Did the girl smile at us? And…did she wear a jersey? She’s a player?”

“She looked like she knew us…” Izuki commented. “Strange.”

“Let’s go!” Hyuga interrupted and started to walk toward the hall again but not before shooting Kiyoshi a suspicious look to which he just grinned and followed behind even as he thought about what they had just witnessed. He didn’t like the heavy air that seemed to be around Mac and her team, he suddenly wished he had been able to take the time to go an watch her match before their own. That way he would have known if something had happened during the match that could have upset her.

 

Mac smiled slightly as she thought about her boyfriend she had seen the warmth in his eyes when she had met his eyes earlier and had wanted to stop and talk to him, but she hadn’t. She remembered the people around him and knew that it must have been his team, she had still not met them. She wondered what they would think about her.

She suddenly stopped as all the stories that Kiyoshi had told her about his team came back to her and she realised something. They were a team that fought and never gave up, just like Kiyoshi. They were strong and had a will to win that was stronger than most and she knew that even without watching them play that they would be a team that she liked. But what she realised now was that she had her answer for how to help Tetsuya.

She looked around for Tetsuya and found him behind her having stopped again, but this time he was holding up a wallet. She jogged back to join him and looked at the wallet in his hands.

“Tetsu?” Mac asked.

“I found it on the ground,” Tetsuya said glancing up at her and showed it to her.

Mac arched a brow when she read the name on the id and saw the picture on it as well, Hyuga Junpei. That was the Captain on Kiyoshi’s team and even though Kiyoshi denied it, Kiyoshi’s best friend. It must be fate, Mac smiled to herself as she looked over at Tetsuya. He still wasn’t smiling and looked sad. Glancing to the rest of the team who was now a far distance away from them, she looked back at Tetsuya.

“Come on,” she said starting to walk back toward the hall where they had just left.

“Huh?” Tetsuya blinked at her seemingly getting out of the haze he had been in.

“Come on,” Mac repeated, “we should return the wallet.”

“Where? I thought we should stop by a police station or something,” Tetsuya said confused but he did start to follow her.

“I know who lost it,” Mac said, “and he’s playing right now.”

“You do?” Tetsuya asked and Mac nodded.

They walked in silence for a moment and Mac took the time to think about what she wanted to say and how she hoped that showing how Seirin played would help her friend. Seirin was a team that would fit Tetsuya completely, and one day when the time came for them to start High School she knew that Seirin would be the place for Tetsuya. She briefly wondered if it would be the place for her as well before she pushed the thought away.

 

The entered the gym and looked down onto the court where the game had already started. She spotted Kiyoshi right away and smiled a little as she saw the determination on his face as he jumped up to block a shot from the other team. He really gave his all when he played.

“Mac?” Tetsuya brought her out of her thoughts and glanced over at him. “Isn’t that your boyfriend?”

“Yes,” Mac nodded, “this is Teppei’s team. He founded this team this year. He attends a new High School named Seirin. They didn’t have a team when he started, so he started one.”

Tetsuya arched a brow and looked back down at the court. He got a thoughtful look on his normally blank face as he observed the team and Mac let him to his observations. She looked back at the game herself and watched with a frown on her face.

Seirin was playing like she expected them to, by fighting together and covering for each other like a good team should. She felt proud as she watched Kiyoshi high five his team and cheer with them. He looked so happy and content that she couldn’t help the smile that crossed her face.

“They’re a good team,” Mac said softly to herself.

“Yes,” Tetsuya answered from beside her. “They probably love the game and give everything they have.”

Mac smiled and nodded. It was the most emotion she had heard from Tetsuya in a long time. She put her focus back on the court again and immediately frowned when she realised that Kiyoshi was struggling. She leaned forward a little as if trying to get closer to get a better read on him when she noticed that his left knee was shaking slightly.

“No…” she whispered ignoring Tetsuya’s searching look. She glanced at the timer and saw that they only had about 3 minutes left to play and was leading with 10 points. She reassured herself with the thought that it soon would be over and she could go and find him and get him treatment for his knee. If his coach didn’t do it before she could, of course.

“Huh, member change…” Mac mumbled before eyes widening when she recognised the player that was entering the court, Hanamiya Makoto – one of the uncrowned kings. That was…bad. She knew he was a particularly bad kind of player, he was known for his dirty tricks and mind games. Even Seijuro and Daiki realised that Hanamiya was a player they should be wary off.

“I remember him…” Tetsuya said sounding worried. “He almost injured you when…”

Mac nodded shortly and pushed the memory away. She held her focus on him and Kiyoshi not daring to look away. She could feel her pulse raising as she stared at the match. Nibbling at her lower lip she watched as Hanamiya seemed to study Kiyoshi and she knew he too spotted his struggling knee. She fisted her hands as wondered what he was planning. She heard someone in the crowd cheer when Seirin used their speed in their offence and Koganei took the shot. Mac could tell it was going to miss and with Kiyoshi standing just under the basket knew he would jump to try to force the ball in. He had a man at his back though and Mac stilled for a moment when she realised that he wasn’t paying attention to the ball… he was looking at Hanamiya….

Kiyoshi jumped and the defender jumped as well but he was to close to Kiyoshi, and Mac realised what was going to happen before it did. She could read the change in aura around Hanamiya like someone had flipped a switch.

“NO! TEPPEI GET AWAY!” Mac yelled her voice echoing in the hall and she was not sure if anyone actually heard her down at the court as she was so focused on Kiyoshi to see if anyone reacted to her voice.

It was too late, Kiyoshi landed and Mac could tell he tried to move away from the Kirisaki Daiichi player but he was already landing and hitting the back of Kiyoshi knee, leg at the same time. Mac felt her heart stop for a beat when she saw the pain in Kiyoshi’s eyes before he fell to the ground.

“No,” Mac muttered and started to run out of the spectator places and toward the entrance to the court, she had to get to him. She was barely aware that Tetsuya was right behind her as she pushed past everyone in her way not stopping to apologize for pushing them.

Kiyoshi’s painful cries filled her ears as she entered the side of the court, Tetsuya reached her just then and grabbed her to stop her from entering the court. His team was filling around him looking scared and angry at the same time. She was aware that Hyuga had grabbed Hanamiya’s jersey, but right now she could only focus on Kiyoshi that was lying on the ground in pain.

“Let go of me, Tetsu,” Mac said hoarsely and jerked away from him.

Ignoring the startled sounds at her sudden appearance she knelt down next to Kiyoshi who was now being looked at by a medic.

“Teppei….” Mac whispered.

“Mac?” Kiyoshi blinked hazily and his pained brown eyes searched her out until he spotted her. “You’re here?”

“Yes, I’m here,” Mac said trying to smile. “I… I decided that I wanted to watch you play.”

“I’m glad…” Kiyoshi said smiling even through his pain. “I thought I heard your voice.”

“You did…I was too late,” Mac admitted. “I saw what was going to happen too late.”

“It’s alright,” Kiyoshi reassured her. “It’s not your fault.”

He knew her too well, he knew she was blaming herself for not seeing it soon enough.

“We need to take him now,” a man said but he looked sympathetic at her and she let go of the hand she had taken a hold of. After a moment of hesitation she reached out and pushed his sweaty hair out of his forehead before pulling back and let the men place him onto the stretcher. She kept a close eye on them as they did.

She watched as he gave a few parting words to his team before he was taken away. She had stopped one of the men and asked where he was being taken and he answered Sasaki General Hospital.

“Mac,” Tetsuya said gently pulling her off the court and to the side. They were both ignoring the looks from both teams as they moved and Mac was still mulling over what had happened in her mind, she couldn’t get the pained look in Kiyoshi’s eyes or cries out of her mind. She could tell that it was serious, and she felt anger fill her but right now she couldn’t do anything. She stared at the game that was still going on, and could tell that Seirin was deeply affected by the loss of Kiyoshi like this. But they fought and they managed to win even if it was only by one point.

Tetsuya stood quietly beside her and tried to offer her support. She took comfort from him, but she couldn’t stop the anger that filled her as she stared at Hanamiya Makoto as he talked to Hyuga. Hyuga looked angry and Mac could see one of his teammates holding him back, she thought it was Izuki but couldn’t be sure.

 

“Hanamiya Makoto!” Mac spoke barely above a whisper but both Seirin and Kirisaki Daiichi stopped when they heard her and looked at her. She focused her flashing green eyes on the Uncrowned King, and ignored everyone around them. He was staring at her with slightly wide eyes and she could tell he recognised her.

“Well, well, well,” he drawled with more confidence than he felt, she was sure. “If it isn’t the little bitch from Teiko…What do I owe the pleasure of seeing you here? A little…young, aren’t you, for a High School match?”

“You don’t scare me, Hanamiya.” Mac practically growled. “You’re nothing but a pathetic little bully who can’t play proper basketball without dirty little tricks.”

He sneered at her, “you have no proof that I play dirty or had anything to do with Kiyoshi’s injury. It was just a tragic little accident. Almost like the one you almost had last year, remember? Accidents happen.”

“I might not have any proof,” Mac said her voice was deadly calm as she took a step closer so she entered his personal space and saw the way his eyes widened slightly and how he swallowed nervously. “I might not have proof, but I know what I saw and what you did. I also know that this isn’t the first time you’ve done so. I know a lot about you, Hanamiya Makoto. Things you never wanted anyone to know. Things about your family, about your brother who is a few years older than you…”

“You…!” Hanamiya snarled and raised a hand but before anyone could react Mac reached out and grabbed his wrist stopping him from doing what he wanted.

“Like I said,” she continued calmly, “I know you and you just made a huge mistake in angering me! If you ever hurt my boyfriend or any other basketball player ever again I will make you regret ever starting to play basketball in the first place. I will destroy you, make no mistake in that. You won’t be able to show your face at any place where basketball is involved. You will burn.”

He tried to snarl at her but she tightened her grip on his wrist and narrowed her eyes on him. The court was completely silence as both team was staring at her and Hanamiya wide eyed and open mothed.

“Do you understand?” Mac asked in a demanding tone she had heard Seijuro use many times.

He just glared at her and she narrowed her eyes again before he nodded shortly and she pushed him away from her like she was touching something disgusting and watched almost satisfied that he rushed out of the gym, but still…he got off to easily.

 

Mac left the gym before she could be cornered by Kiyoshi’s team, she didn’t feel like being interrogated by them now. She just wanted to find a cab and make her way to the hospital so she could find Kiyoshi. She needed to see him and see that he was okay. She glanced to her side and realised that Tetsuya was still beside her.

“Tetsu…” Mac said.

“I’m not leaving you,” Tetsuya said knowing what she was about to say. “Come on, let’s find a cab and get to the hospital. I’m sure you want to see Kiyoshi-san.”

Mac smiled a little even when it was the last thing she felt like doing, but she felt grateful that she had Tetsuya there with her. She wasn’t sure how she would hold herself together without him. She nodded and they spotted a cab and Mac waved it down (it would be useless to have Tetsuya do it, no one saw him anyway).

“Thank you,” Mac whispered when they were on their way to the hospital.

“You’re welcome,” Tetsuya said quietly before allowing Mac to gaze out of the car window and drift away in her own thoughts. She was very grateful that he didn’t insist on making her talk, because she wasn’t sure she could keep up with a conversation right now.

 

After talking to a nurse they were directed to the room Kiyoshi was staying in and Mac walked with quick pace toward the room. She barely paused to knock on the door before opening it and saw her boyfriend sitting up in a bed by the window and was looking out of it with a faraway look on his face.

He turned just as she had opened the door and smiled warmly when he saw her.

“Mac,” he smiled.

“Teppei…” Mac rushed over to the bed and without thinking threw her arms around his neck and hugged him. He barely grunted as he wrapped his own arms around her and held her as she clung to him. He rubbed her back and she felt herself give in to the emotion that had run through her since seeing him get hurt and let the tears escape.

“Shh…” Kiyoshi soothed as he rubbed her back and tried to calm her down.

She wasn’t sure how long she stayed like that before she pulled away from him.

Kiyoshi smiled gently at her and spotted the soft blush in her cheeks as she pulled away. He wanted to protest and keep her in his arms, but allowed her to pull back. He could still feel the warmth from her body against him and he wanted to feel it again. He took her hand in his and squeezed it gently smiling when she looked up at him again with searching eyes. She was relaxed when she saw his smile and smiled back at him.

Mac couldn’t believe she had thrown herself into his arms, he must think she was… her stomach clenched slightly as she remembered the warmth and strength of his arms around her holding her close and rubbing her back. She blushed just remembering it and ducked her face to hide it from him. She was scared of what he must think, of what she would see in his eyes if she looked up. She felt him take her hand and give it a reassuring squeeze making her look up trying to see what he was thinking. She almost sighed in relief when he was smiling warmly at her and she saw only warmth and something she couldn’t read in his eyes. But there was no disgust or judgment.

“Are you ok?” Mac asked.

“I’m fine, Mac,” Kiyoshi said with a reassuring smile.

Mac narrowed her eyes as she stared at him, his smile seemed off and his tone was slightly tense.

“You’re lying,” Mac accused. “You’re lying…”

“Mac…” Kiyoshi started.

“I saw…I saw how he hit you, Teppei,” Mac said quietly, “please, don’t lie to me.”

Kiyoshi was silent for a moment and Mac felt him watching her before he smiled a little and she felt how he tightened his grip on her hand.

“My knee is badly hurt,” Kiyoshi admitted looking down on his lap. “I will need surgery and rehabilitation, and I will be fine…. But…”

“But?” Mac asked scared of what he would say.

“I might not be back in time to play anymore in High School,” Kiyoshi admitted quietly and pained. “All I want is to play with my team, Mac. I have to find a way to get back, so I can play with them… I want to have fun with my friends.”

Mac bit down on her lip to stop the gasp she wanted to let out, but she knew that it wasn’t what Kiyoshi needed. Not now. She could see the desperate need in his eyes and couldn’t stop herself from reaching out and dry away a tear that had escaped from his eyes with her thumb and felt the soft skin under her thumb as she did. She allowed her hand to rest against his cheek and he leaned against her hand seeking the comfort. She opened her mouth to say something when there was a knock on the door and the door opened again. She pulled her hand back just as she heard the surprised gasp from the door.

“EH?”

Seirin High School basketball club was staring at them open mouthed and wide eyed.

 

Tetsuya sighed as he watched Mac enter the hospital room where her boyfriend was resting and decided to stay outside and give them time by themselves. He knew that Mac needed time with Kiyoshi and that she was hurting right now. He wished he knew what to do to help her, but he wasn’t sure how to. She needed… He pulled up his phone and hesitated for a moment before finding the right contact and hitting the call button.

Ring….Ring…Ring…

“Hello? Tetsuya?” A cool voice answered. “Want to tell me where you and Mac disappeared to after the match today?”

Chapter Text

3rd year – Teiko

 

“Eh?!”

“What?”

The shocked exclamations seemed to be going around from one to the other as they all stared at Mac who was shifting uncomfortable at her seat on the side of Kiyoshi’s bed. She felt like fleeing as their eyes were trained on her. She felt her mouth go dry and her palms were sweaty as she so suddenly found herself in the focus of all of Kiyoshi’s team. She knew that they were his closest friends and she really wanted them to like her. A flash of her friends meeting Kiyoshi crossed her mind and she almost winced. Would they react the same way to her?

“Kiyoshi Teppei,” the only female in the group said as she stepped closer and her eyes narrowed in annoyance, or so Mac would guess. “Just what is going on here? Who is she and why is she wearing the Teiko jersey?”

Mac winced slightly at the way Riko, she was sure that it must be the coach Kiyoshi had talked about, said ‘Teiko’. It was almost like it was a bad word. Though, anger was also lurking underneath the nerves and worries. She didn’t like to hear others talk badly about her friends, they might be a little…um, intimidating and unsociable but they were her friends and she owed them more than anyone.

“Oh!” A loud voice interrupted Riko in her glaring at a still silent Kiyoshi and Mac glanced up when she suddenly had a figure right in front of her and blinked two times as she stared up at the boy who had held Hyuga back. She felt weary as he grinned looking like he had figured something out. “I know! I know!”

“What do you know?” Hyuga snapped annoyed with a glare that had Mac wish to hide but she kept seated at the same place without moving. She too was curious about what the teen knew.

“I know who you are!” He said triumphantly. “You’re the girl that was with the Generation of Miracles earlier! You smiled at us!”

Mac opened and then closed her mouth before turning her head to look at Kiyoshi who was looking amused. He smiled when he met her eyes and she realised that he hadn’t said anything because he enjoyed watching his friends freak out as they tried to guess.

“Um…I guess so,” Mac said quietly honestly feeling confused.

“You’re a player?” one of the others asked looking eager and almost like he was about to start bouncing. Only a hand from the tall quiet one seemed to keep him in place.

“I am,” Mac said dragging the words out before glancing at Kiyoshi urging him to take over. She felt stupid for not having better answers but it was like her mind had shut down and she could only hope that her boyfriend would step in soon.

“Guys,” Kiyoshi said with a smile as he squeezed Mac’s hand in his. “This is Mackenzie Potter, third year at Teiko and a part of their basketball team as well as my girlfriend.”

Again shocked silence filled the hospital room as the team gaped at them. It was amusing the way they looked from Kiyoshi and over at Mac and back again. Mac noticed how their eyes seemed to stop momentarily at their joined hands as well. She would have laughed if she wasn’t so nervous about how they would react.

“Eh?”

“What?”

And there, they were back to where they started. Mac stood up from where she was seated and felt with a loss that Kiyoshi’s hand slipped out of her own. She wished to take it again, but right now she thought she should try to be polite as she faced Kiyoshi’s friends.

“Girlfriend?”

“You have a girlfriend?”

“I never knew you had a girlfriend…”

Mac wasn’t sure what she felt when she realised that he had never told them about her. Was he ashamed of her? She was younger than him, and a part of Teiko… maybe he didn’t really want her to meet his friends? Was it a mistake to come here?

“Hello,” Mac spoke up as she pushed her inner worries away for now and bowed politely to them. “It’s very nice to meet you all. Teppei has told me a lot about you.”

The stammering and gaping stopped as they were again all focused on her; she kept her small smile on her face as she waited for someone to say something. She saw the way Riko’s eyebrows had arched as if surprised, and the way Hyuga stared at her.

“I knew he was hiding something,” Riko broke the silence and shot Kiyoshi a look. “Hello, Potter-san. I’m Aida Riko, Kiyoshi’s coach.”

Riko smiled as she stepped closer to Mac and held out a hand for her to take. Mac shook it quickly feeling herself relax a little, as they one by one started to introduce themselves and shake her hand. Finally she found herself in front of Hyuga who was not smiling but watching her with a critical eye and she could see the distrust in his dark eyes. She swallowed and felt herself tense again.

She remembered clearly that Kiyoshi had told her that Hyuga had given up on basketball because of her and her friends. Of course he would have a problem with his friend dating one of them. He must hate her for all the pain they had put him through. She remembered him from when they played against his team. She remembered how enthusiastic he had been about basketball and how his eyes shone with the love of the game. She also remembered the broken look in his eyes when they were done.

Her chest felt tight and throat dry as she tried to find a way to face him, but all she could think was that he had been driven from his dream because of them. She fisted her hands and the feeling of her nails digging into her palms calmed her down slightly.

“I remember you now,” Hyuga suddenly said. “You played the last quarter when our team played Teiko.”

“Oh…I had forgotten…” Izuki said wide eyed. “How could I forget that I’ve played you before?”

Mac shrugged, “some do.”

“Because we were focusing on the others and how…how they trampled right over us,” Hyuga grumbled but he didn’t seem to focus on her the same way anymore.

“Oh, I suppose so,” Izuki said and looked at her curiously.

“Mac is both a player and the manager for the team,” Kiyoshi explained casually making Mac wondering if he was completely unaware of the way she was feeling right now. She glanced over at him and saw the warm and reassuring smile he gave her and she felt herself smile back and relax. Of course he wasn’t, he was just trying to keep her calm.

“Manager, huh?” Koganei asked with a grin. “I would guess that taking care of those guys is a challenge.”

Mac snorted and shot him a grin missing the way Kiyoshi smiled at her at the same time, “you have no idea.”

Mac sat down again but this time on a chair between the window and the bed smiling when Kiyoshi reached out and took her hand back in his giving it a small squeeze. She felt bad for doubting him, she knew he was the best and was only trying to help her.

 

“Anyway,” Hyuga said shaking his head a little, “the distraction aside… how’s your injury?”

The air in the room turned sombre again as the team looked at Kiyoshi with worried eyes and seemed to be holding their breaths. Mac glanced over at Kiyoshi and saw him blink a few times as he looked at his friends. She felt him tighten his hold on her hand as he looked away from them.

“Sorry,” Kiyoshi said, “but about that… I’m completely fine!”

He grinned and Mac could practically see the rainbow colouring behind him as he did. She kept her face carefully blank as she observed the relieved reactions from his team. She understood the need to protect them from the truth of his injury, but she also knew that there was no way for him to hide it forever. Mac looked up and met Hyuga’s eyes and knew that there was one on his team that didn’t buy the lie. She gave a small nod and saw the pain that crossed his face before he looked away. She waited for him to say something, but he didn’t. He let Kiyoshi keep reassure the others that he was fine and that it was only a sprain.

Just when they had all calmed down and Kiyoshi’s team were reassured that their friend was going to be ok the door opened again and Mac could feel how the tension got back.

“What are you doing here?” Hyuga snapped glaring.

Mac leaned forward a little so she could see who was standing in the doorway and felt her eyes widen when she saw her Captain standing there looking calm and imposing. His heterochromatic eyes snapped to her before looking at Kiyoshi who was looking surprised on the bed.

“That is none of your concern,” Seijuro dismissed coolly as he stepped into the room and closed the door behind him. “Mac.”

“Seijuro,” Mac frowned at him as she stood up and rounded the bed. “How did you know….Oh, Tetsu.”

“Yes, Tetsuya called me,” Seijuro said not looking away from her. “He thought you might need….some help.”

Mac rolled her eyes a little but she did feel a little better with him there, not as exposed. She knew that only he or Daiki could make her feel like that, but Tetsuya wouldn’t call Daiki. Not with the rift between them.

Seijuro was watching her keenly and she knew he was watching out for signs of her discomfort and pain. Mac could easily see the way a muscle in his jaw jumped and the worried look in his eyes.

 

Riko was watching the scene with curiosity and wondered why the Captain of the Generation of Miracles had come all the way here. He looked cold and intimidating, and she was slightly worried over the fact that a 14 year old boy could take up so much room. He was staring at Mac, at Kiyoshi’s girlfriend (boy was that a strange thought), and while she couldn’t say that there was anything romantic in the way he looked at her…there definitely was something.

“Nice to see you again, Akashi-san,” Kiyoshi said with his easy smile.

“Kiyoshi,” Seijuro said calmly. “How’s the knee?”

“I’m fine,” Kiyoshi grinned.

Riko furrowed her brows as Kiyoshi yet again assured he was fine, but her gut said differently. She looked at Seijuro and while his face didn’t betray anything of what he was thinking he was staring at Kiyoshi before glancing over at Mac with a small twitch of eyebrows. Mac just shrugged and leaned against the bed again.

“Why are you here?” Hyuga asked again taking threatening step forward and grabbed Seijuro’s shirt. “Come to gloat? You don’t care about Kiyoshi. So, why are you here?”

Riko felt her eyes widen in slight fear as her team Captain grabbed the Captain of the Generation of Miracles by the shirt. She might not have met him before or even really watched him play, but she had heard enough to know that he would not take being treated like this. Before she could react Mac had moved from her side at the bed and over to her friend.

“Seijuro…” Mac said her voice calm and Riko saw the way she put a hand on Seijuro’s shoulder before turning to Hyuga. “Let go of him, Hyuga-san.”

Hyuga glanced at her before he did as she asked and Seijuro straightened his shirt without saying a word. Riko noticed that Mac stood tense beside him and her eyes alert and slightly worried. Riko had no idea what to expect but she felt herself tense even more.

“Seijuro,” Mac said again and Riko thought her tone was almost pleading. Riko watched as the two exchanged another look and then Mac looked relieved making Riko wonder what she had seen in the cold mask on her friends face.

“I did not come to gloat,” Seijuro’s voice was quiet and cold. “You’re right about one thing; I don’t especially care for Kiyoshi. But Mac does, so I’m here. And…I don’t need to explain myself to you.”

Riko frowned as the well-known cold Teiko Captain openly admitted that he was there because of Mac. She looked over at Mac and saw the small smile on her face and noticed that she did seem more relaxed than she had since Riko met her.

 

Mac felt relieved when she managed to calm the situation down and make Seijuro step down, she had seen the need to retaliate and knew it would prove disastrous if she didn’t stop her friend. He would not be kind or gentle in proving that he was ‘better’ than Hyuga. She really didn’t need him to make them more sceptical toward her.

“I guess it’s time to go home,” Riko said breaking the tense silence that filled the room.

Mac looked around and saw the wary looks and slight relief in their eyes. She sighed a little; the first meeting with Kiyoshi’s friends hadn’t gone quite as she wanted it to. She looked at Kiyoshi who was watching her and Seijuro with a thoughtful look on his face, but he smiled when he met her eyes before turning back to his team.

“Ok, bye guys,” Kiyoshi waved.

“Bye! We’re so happy you’re okay!” Koganei said waving with Mitobe nodding along behind him. “Mitobe also thinks so!”

“See you at school,” Tsuchiba said quietly with a genuine smile.

“Yeah,” Kiyoshi nodded and waved at them. Soon everyone from Seirin had left the room leaving Mac and Seijuro alone with him.

“You came down here for Mac?” Kiyoshi asked Seijuro whose face didn’t betray anything.

“Yes,” Seijuro said. “We all would have come if necessary.”

Kiyoshi frowned a little before he smiled like he realised something. Mac wondered what it was.

“Well, thank you,” Kiyoshi said. “I appreciate it.”

Seijuro looked slightly surprised before he schooled his face again and nodded. He glanced at Mac before looking back at Kiyoshi.

“She’s ours,” Seijuro simply said and Mac wasn’t the only one who heard the possessive note in his voice. She said nothing.

“Will you please make sure she gets home alright?” Kiyoshi asked. “She’s tired and should get home to rest.”

Seijuro nodded sharply before turning around and walked to the door where he paused clearly waiting for her. Mac walked over to the bed and took Kiyoshi’s hand in hers.

“Are you going to be fine?” she asked looking at him.

“I’ll be fine, Mac,” Kiyoshi smiled at her. “You should go and get some rest.”

“But…” Mac frowned unwilling to leave her boyfriend.

“It’s okay,” Kiyoshi said.

“Ok, but I’ll be back tomorrow,” Mac said. “And I’ll text you tonight.”

 

Mac stepped out of the car outside of her apartment and turned to see Seijuro also step out behind her. She looked at him confused and he gave her a small smile and she tried to smile back, but the day’s events came back at her and she could see Kiyoshi lying in pain on the court and Hanamiya’s cruel smirk taunting her.

“Mac?” Seijuro sounded worried and he was suddenly much closer than before. Mac blinked at him trying to figure out how he got so much closer. “You’re pale.”

“Oh,” was all she said.

“Come,” Seijuro said and lead her to a bench across the street and sat her down. She followed without much thought and thankfully accepted the help from her friend. “Are you ok?”

“I…” Mac started to say she was fine, but the words didn’t come out. She remembered the pain in Kiyoshi’s eyes, the news that his knee wouldn’t be okay like he said. She remembered the hurt in Hyuga’s eyes knowing that she was a part of the reason why Kiyoshi’s friend had been in pain. She remembered that despite knowing that they had reasons for thinking badly about her friends, her team she still felt angry hearing the tone of how they talked about them. “I don’t know.”

Seijuro looked at her for a moment before he placed a hand on her shoulder. She accepted the comfort for what it was and slightly leaned into the touch. She knew he didn’t offer comfort to many beside her, and not like this often.

“How is his knee really?” Seijuro asked after a moment and Mac sighed. She looked over at Seijuro as she pulled away from him and saw the serious look in his eyes. She knew he hadn’t bought Kiyoshi’s lie about being alright.

“It’s…bad,” Mac admitted quietly. “He needs surgery and then therapy. He won’t be able to play anymore during High School.”

Seijuro nodded and Mac could tell he was thinking hard about something.

“Can’t magic do anything for him?” Seijuro asked surprising Mac slightly. He hadn’t really talked about magic that much since learning about it; she had wondered when he would bring it up.

“I don’t know,” Mac said with a heavy air around her. “I don’t know much or anything about magical medicine. I need to ask my professor… perhaps there is something? But…muggles aren’t supposed to know about magic and I can’t see them allowing me to tell him the truth…”

Seijuro nodded in understanding, but didn’t say anything else. Soon he got up and told her to get inside and that he would see her at school the next day. Mac nodded and waved at him as he stepped into the waiting car again and drove off.

 

Mac stepped into the apartment and instantly heard the sound of the television from the living room. She made her way inside and saw both her uncle and cousin seated in the sofa. A basketball match was on the television and Taiga was watching while Tarou was reading a book.

“You’re late getting back,” Tarou commented when he spotted her.

Mac glanced at the clock and saw that it was past nine and remembered now that she had said she would be back by six. She had completely forgotten during everything that had been going on. She looked back at her uncle who was watching her. He frowned and put his book down as he leaned forward slightly.

“Mac? Something wrong?” Tarou asked making Taiga look away from the match for the first time and over at her as well.

“I’m sorry,” Mac said trying to smile. “I just…”

She trailed off unsure on what to say or if she should tell them the truth. Something inside her held her back from telling them about Kiyoshi and the trouble he was now in. The faces of Vernon and Petunia flashed in her mind, their sneers and taunting laughs filling her ears. They wouldn’t wish to be burdened with her problems. Why would Tarou be any different?

“Mac, come and sit down,” Tarou said and Mac moved to the chair and sat down like her uncle said. She was still not sure about what to say or if she wanted to tell them. She hadn’t actually told them that she had a boyfriend either.

“Mac, what’s wrong?” Tarou asked when she didn’t continued and Mac looked up and saw the worried look in his eyes. Did he really care?

“My boyfriend got hurt and is in the hospital,” Mac said quietly looking down at her lap waiting for her uncle’s response. She heard the sharp intake of breath, but otherwise no other reaction. She dared to look up and saw the concerned look in Tarou’s eyes.

“How did he get hurt?” Tarou asked making a mental note to himself to ask about the boyfriend part later.

“He was hurt during his basketball match,” Mac said and a dark look entered her eyes just remembering it. “He was jumping up to dunk a ball and the opponent landed on his knee…”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Tarou said, “will his knee be alright?”

Mac shook her head and she fisted her hands. Tarou sighed and nodded.

“Who is he?” Taiga asked speaking up for the first time.

Mac looked at him and saw the frown on his face; she also noticed that Tarou gave his son a look that Taiga ignored.

“Kiyoshi Teppei,” Mac said.

“I’ve never heard that name before,” Taiga said. “He’s not one of your friends from your team?”

“No,” Mac shook her head. “He’s in High School.”

Taiga scowled but didn’t say anything when his father put a hand on his shoulder. Mac was grateful for it because she couldn’t deal with the overprotective cousin right now.

“We’ll talk more about it later, Mac,” Tarou said. “You should get ready for bed. You must be exhausted.”

Mac nodded and got up.

 

After a quick shower and changing into her pyjamas she was curled up on her bed with Nao safely curled up close to her. She allowed Nao to comfort her and calm her down as she pulled out her phone and texted Kiyoshi.

Hi, how are you feeling? – Mac

A minute later the response came.

Hi Mac. I’m feeling ok. Did you get home alright? – Teppei

Mac narrowed her eyes as she read the text and shook her head. Looking at Nao who blinked up at her she sighed.

“Boys…”

Feeling ok? Sure you’re not in pain? And yeah, I got home alright. Seijuro had his driver drive me back. I would have texted you earlier but my uncle was home and he asked me what was wrong. I had to tell him. Hope you don’t mind? – Mac

She waited nervously for him to respond, she hoped he wouldn’t be upset with her for telling her uncle about him or his injury. She was also wondering if she could have her uncle do something about Hanamiya. He was a lawyer after all.

I really am feeling ok, Mac. Don’t worry too much. I got some medicine for the pain that helps and right now I don’t feel the pain too much. Good Akashi-san got you home safe. Thank him for coming to see me for me, ok? I am still surprised that he did. But it was fun watching the others reaction to him entering the room. ;) Of course I don’t mind you telling your uncle about it. – Teppei

Mac snorted and Nao yapped at the sudden sound. Mac patted him in an apology.

Of course you would find that amusing. And of course I’m going to worry, Teppei. I don’t want to see you in pain. I know how much basketball means for you. I will tell him. Seijuro has another side to him, but he doesn’t normally allow anyone see it. – M.

I know. I think my friends liked you; Hyuga came back after you left. He knew I was lying about the injury. I had to tell him. – T.

Mac sighed sadly and cuddled Nao closer to her chest wishing that she had been quicker and read the situation faster so she could have prevented the entire thing. If she had her boyfriend would be fine and his team wouldn’t be going through this now.

I thought he might. He looks to be sharp and he knows you. Your team will support you, Teppei. They will need to know at some point. – M.

I know. I just want to protect them for a little bit longer. I don’t want to see pity in their eyes, Mac. I don’t think I can handle that… - T.

Mac felt her throat go dry and tears in her eyes as she read the vulnerable admission and she could tell it was something he normally never would admit to. She wished she was with him right now so she could reassure him in person and not over the phone.

I know. I understand why you did it, and I will support you in whatever you decide to do. But I think you should put your trust in your team, Teppei. They might surprise you. –M.

They continued to text for the next hour before they finished and Mac let her exhaustion pull her into a restless sleep.

 

Sato’s house

Sato observed his young student who was sitting quietly at her desk reading and doing what he had told her to do. She had been quiet ever since she arrived and had barely spoken a word. The shadows under her eyes showed that she hadn’t been sleeping well and he felt a little worried about her.

She had glanced at him several times and had shifted in her seat like she was nervous more times than he could count. His own curiosity and worry had him almost asking what was wrong, but his wife’s words from when he’d talked to her about it during lunch held him back. She had told him to allow Mac decide if she wanted to tell him or not. That if she wanted to she would ask.

He almost wished Daisuke was there, he seemed to be able to get Mac to talk. He had been surprised when he saw Mac and Daisuke fall into an easy friendship. If he were honest with himself he would have thought his daughter, Sachi, would be the one to befriend Mac. But it was Daisuke who had been the one to befriend the girl. Sachi had teased her brother saying he liked Mac, but Daisuke had only shrugged and said he did. He liked her as a friend and almost like a little sister, he said she looked kind of lonely and he just wanted to look out for her. Sachi had rolled her eyes but hadn’t teased him anymore.

“Professor Sato?” Mac interrupted his thoughts and he looked over at her to see her green eyes watch him closely from behind her glasses.

“Yes, Potter-san?” Sato answered.

“Can magical healing help muggles?” Mac asked sounding nervous and he could tell she was biting down at her lower lips as she watched him closely. He took a moment to watch her, it was clear that it wasn’t just curiosity that had her asking. No, there was a reason for her question that hadn’t anything to do with academics.

“Not all magical healing, no,” Sato answered after a pause and saw how her shoulders slumped.

“Why?” she asked.

“It’s a complicated matter,” Sato started deciding to answer her fully. “Magical healing is complex and many thinks it’s an easy solution, a quick fix to your injury or sickness. That’s not true. It takes a lot of the body to be healed like that, and magical healing draws on the patient’s own magic to heal.”

“So it’s because muggles doesn’t have any magic that they can’t be healed with it?” Mac asked.

“Yes,” Sato nodded.

“So, there’s not anything that can help muggles?” Mac asked almost desperately.

“Potter-san?” Sato asked seeing the desperation in her eyes.

“I… my boyfriend hurt his knee during a basketball matches yesterday,” Mac said quietly, “he needs surgery and…”

Sato sighed as he realised why she was so distracted and upset. He wished he could have a better answer.

“I’m sorry, Potter-san,” Sato said. “There isn’t anything that will help with that. There might be a few potions that can help with pain and speed the healing up a little, but not completely.”

“What kind of potions?” Mac asked.

Sato looked at her and frowned. “You know you can’t tell him about magic, Potter-san.”

Mac nodded, “but I don’t need to tell him that it’s magic. There’s plenty of muggles that believes in herbs and medicine coming from nature. I could use that as an explanation.”

Sato arched a brow, he hadn’t known that. Muggles kept surprising him. He looked at her again and thought for a moment before getting up. He walked to the bookshelf and after a moment he pulled out a book and levitated it over to her.

“Read that and see if you can find something that can work;” Sato said. “However, before you attempt to make it I want you to write an essay on it to me and convince me that you know how to make it and how it is used. I do not want to learn that you’ve done something without my knowledge. Potions is dangerous and made wrong could hurt your boyfriend more than help him. Do you understand?”

Mac nodded quickly as she looked away from the book and over at Sato.

 

Teiko

Mac stepped into the gym for the morning practice before school started. She was tired having just finished her magical lessons and was now starting her day for the second time. The potion book Sato had given her was lying in her bag ready to be read, she wished she could skip practice and just read but she knew she couldn’t.

“Mac-cchi!” Ryota wailed as soon as she stepped into the gym. “Midorima-cchi is mean to me!”

“Stop whining!” Shintaro snapped annoyance clear in both his voice and his face. He pushed his glasses up his nose as he glared at Ryota.

“I just want to borrow it!” Ryota wailed.

Mac shook her head and ignored them as she walked to the bench and sat down. She missed the way both Ryota and Shintaro stopped their bickering and stared after her. She placed her bag by the bench and pulled out her phone. She sent a quick text to Kiyoshi where she asked him how he was.

Daiki stepped into the gym annoyed at Seijuro who had ordered him to come to practice today; he had planned on skipping it. He had been there enough and should be allowed to do so, but no! Come to practice and don’t even think about skipping. That had been the message Seijuro had texted him. He scoffed. As soon as he stepped into the gym he looked around and found her at the bench by herself. He frowned when he saw the tense shoulders and how she seemed to be in her own little world.

He looked to see Seijuro enter the gym and he arched a brow at the Captain. Seijuro met his eyes and he saw him look toward Mac. Perhaps Seijuro had a reason for ordering Daiki to practice. He walked toward Mac with quick steps as he tried to figure out what was bothering her.

“Kenzie.”

Mac looked up and he was hit with the worry in her eyes, her green eyes were darker than normal with it. She tried to smile at him, but it fell flat. He sat down next to her and grabbed her hand trying to give her comfort.

“Kenzie?” Daiki asked again. “What’s wrong?”

Mac shrugged and looked away from him to see the rest of the Miracles having gathered around her too. She sighed and tightened her hold on Daiki’s hand making him frown at her.

“Kiyoshi Teppei was injured yesterday,” Seijuro spoke up and Daiki stilled.

“Eh?” Ryota asked shocked. “How?”

“Hanamiya Makoto,” Mac said quietly.

Daiki glared at the floor as the name called forth memories he rather forget. Mac had almost been injured when they had played him and only her quick reflexes had saved her from getting an elbow in her ribs. He could still see the elbow aiming for her ribs knowing he couldn’t do anything to stop it.

“I dealt with him,” Mac said and Daiki glanced at her. He could see the storm of emotion in her eyes and knew she was more rattled by the meeting with the one who had been out to get her in that match than she had let on.

Daiki watched as the team offered support to Mac in their own way and how she accepted it. Then Sanada entered the gym and started practice.

 

“Kenzie,” Daiki sat down in his regular seat in the classroom that was beside hers, but instead of going to sleep he looked at her with a worried look in his eyes. She looked up from her notebook and met his eyes.

“Daiki?” She asked looking confused.

“How are you feeling?” Daiki asked.

“I’m fine,” Mac said looking back at her notebook.

Daiki scowled and suddenly stood up and grabbed her hand and with his other hand grabbed her bag (knowing Nao was inside) before pulling her out of the classroom. He ignored the protests she gave as he dragged her with him. He knew she could have gotten free from his grip if she really wanted to.

They only stopped when they reached the park where they had played basketball together during their first years at Teiko. Mac pulled her wrist free and frowned at Daiki.

“What are you doing, Daiki? We have class!” Mac snapped.

“You’re hiding what you’re feeling! And don’t pretend that you care about missing a class,” Daiki said. “You know your classes better than anyone!”

“Yeah, because I show up and pay attention,” Mac said glaring at him.

Daiki rolled his eyes making Mac sigh exasperatedly. She looked away from Daiki and pulled Nao out from her bag giving him time to run free around her on the court. She smiled slightly at the happy yapps from her little fox.

“Now, tell me the truth,” Daiki said. “How are you feeling?”

Mac glanced at him before looking away. “I told you. I’m fine.”

“You forget that I know you,” Daiki said. “I know you’re not fine. Seeing him again and then Kiyoshi getting hurt…”

Mac didn’t say anything. It was true that she wasn’t fine, but… she didn’t want to admit it. Daiki stood close beside her and put a hand on her shoulder. She felt her lip quiver a little.

“I have to be fine,” Mac said. “Teppei needs me.”

Daiki fisted his hands but kept his comment to himself as he watched her. She was looking determined and he knew she was doing her best to support Kiyoshi. He felt the same unsettled feeling in his stomach that said he was losing her, but he pushed it back.

“That doesn’t mean you should ignore your own needs, Kenzie,” Daiki said. “Let us help you.”

He had wanted to say let him help her, but the word wouldn’t get out. He felt the barrier between them and he hated it. She looked at him and suddenly he saw the little girl he had met back when he was 8 years old. The same vulnerable and fragile girl he had wanted to protect.

“I was too late, Daiki,” Mac whispered. “I couldn’t stop it.”

“It wasn’t your fault, Kenzie,” Daiki said frowning. “You had no power to stop it.”

“Perhaps,” Mac allowed, “but…”

“But nothing!” Daiki interrupted her. “You can’t blame yourself for everything, Mac! You are not the one who hurt him! You tried to stop it, you did everything you could.”

“I still should have stopped it,” Mac said stubbornly.

Daiki grabbed both her shoulders and looked her straight in the eyes.

“Your aunt and uncle were wrong, Kenzie,” Daiki said. “You are not the reason everything goes wrong. You are not to blame when accidents happen. You don’t control everyone else’s actions. You have to stop blaming yourself for everything, Kenzie.”

Daiki knew that this need to blame herself came from her relatives and he hated that she felt like that. He hated that they still had the power over her to make her believe that she was at fault when things went wrong.

“I just feel so helpless, Daiki,” Mac admitted looking down. “And…”

“And?” Daiki pressed.

“Do you think Teppei is ashamed of me?”

“What?” Daiki asked shocked. “Where did you get an idea like that?”

“He didn’t tell his friends about me,” Mac said. “They didn’t even know he had a girlfriend…”

Daiki scowled as he saw the hurt in her eyes and he swore that if Kiyoshi hurt his friend he wouldn’t know what hit him.

“Why wouldn’t he tell them?” Mac asked.

“You didn’t tell us either,” Daiki pointed out hating that he had to do so. He wanted to show her that Kiyoshi wasn’t right for her, but he hated to see the pain in her eyes.

“That’s different…” Mac said.

“How?” Daiki asked.

“It just is,” Mac mumbled. “Anyway, I was going to tell you. I would have told you by now.”

“Perhaps,” Daiki allowed, “but maybe he was waiting for the preliminaries was over so he wouldn’t take the focus off their practice. You said they are very focused on their basketball and a new team. He might have waited until he could introduce you to them himself.”

Mac frowned as she thought about what Daiki was saying. She knew that Daiki had a point. She sighed and nodded.

“I didn’t think about that,” Mac said.

Daiki’s heart felt heavy as he watched his best friend. He knew he hadn’t been a good friend to her lately, and that she deserved better. He knew that, but it hurt when it looked like better was not with him. He didn’t know how to keep close to her and not argue about the time she spent with him.

“Perhaps you should give him a chance to prove he isn’t ashamed of you. I am sure he isn’t.”

“How can you know?”

“Who could ever be ashamed of you, Kenzie?” Daiki smiled at her and Mac smiled back and without any further warning hugged him. Daiki stilled in her arms before relaxing into her taking comfort from her when he could.

“Thank you,” Mac whispered. “Thank you, Daiki.”

Mac missed the sad smile on his face.

Chapter Text

3rd year – Teiko

 

Mac raised her hand and knocked on the door before looking around the small yard and noticed that the lawn was look like it needed to be mowed and she guessed that it was normally Kiyoshi who would do that. She swallowed just as the door opened revealing Kiyoshi Miyako.

“Mac, dear,” Kiyoshi Miyako smiled when she saw he, but Mac thought she looked tired. “Come in.”

“Thank you, Kiyoshi-san,” Mac smiled and stepped inside the house. It felt strange being back here without Kiyoshi there. Entering the kitchen she noticed Kiyoshi’s grandfather seated by the table looking over some papers with a worried look on his face.

“Dear, Mac is here,” Kiyoshi Miyako said making the older man look up and smile welcomingly at Mac. She noticed that he gathered the papers together rather quickly and she pretended not to notice the financial look of the papers. She felt bad knowing they were thinking about affording the surgery Kiyoshi needed.

“Hello, Mac,” Haru smiled. “How are you?”

“I’m fine, sir,” Mac said.

“Sit down, sweetie,” Kiyoshi Miyako said, “can I get you some tea?”

“Thank you,” Mac smiled shyly as she sat down.

“Have you been to see Teppei?” Kiyoshi Haru asked breaking the silence in the room.

“I’m going there after I’ve been here,” Mac answered looking at him. She had talked to Kiyoshi on the phone before going to bed the night before and her boyfriend asked if she could go and visit his grandparents to check in on them. He worried about them when he couldn’t be there and take care of the practical things. She knew he worried that his grandfather would try to do too much in his absence.

“I see,” Kiyoshi Haru nodded. “He’s lucky to have you.”

Mac blushed and tried to ignore the knowing smile on the older man’s face. She smiled gratefully when Kiyoshi Miyako put the tea cup in front of her.

“How is he?” Kiyoshi Miyako asked. “He tries showing a brave face in front of us and says he’s okay.”

Mac looked between the older couple and felt her throat thicken a little as she saw the worry in their eyes over their grandson. They were right about him trying to put up a brave face, he did that to everyone. Even her, but she saw through it and made him tell her the truth. She was torn about what to tell them, she didn’t want to lie but at the same time… she didn’t want to betray his trust either.

“He says he is fine and that he’s going to come back,” Mac ended up saying. “I think he’s just trying to keep himself together. He doesn’t want to see the pity in everyone’s eyes when they look at him.”

“I see,” Kiyoshi Miyako sighed.

Mac shifted a little in her seat not knowing what to say to comfort them or make it seem better, but there wasn’t anything she could say. She wasn’t good at this. She drank the rest of her tea as she tried to think of something to ease the worry she saw in their eyes.

Mac stood up and saw the surprise in their eyes. “I thought I would mow the lawn for you while I’m here.”

“Oh, but…” Kiyoshi Miyako protested.

“You don’t have to do that…” her husband added.

“I know,” Mac smiled, “but I want to.”

They exchanged looks before they nodded and gave her a smile. Mac smiled and walked outside to find the mower.

 

“Thank you, Mac,” Kiyoshi smiled at her later as she had found her place in a comfortable chair between his bed and the window.

“No problem,” Mac smiled at him. “I was happy to help. I’ll go and help your grandmother with her groceries tomorrow. You don’t need to worry about them, Teppei. I’ll help.”

He looked at her gratefully and Mac blushed lightly and looked away from him. He smiled before changing the subject toward basketball and they discussed her upcoming Nationals and how her team was preparing.

“Sounds like you’re ready,” Kiyoshi said looking at her.

“I guess,” Mac sighed. “I just wish I could see someone who would be able to challenge them. I mean…”

“You never know, Mac,” Kiyoshi interrupted her making her look at him, “just because a team doesn’t seem as strong on paper doesn’t mean they can’t be a challenge. Just look at us, Mac. Seirin is a new team and we don’t have known strong players like Shutoku or Rakuzan or even Kaijo. But we made it to Inter High during our first year as a team.”

Mac fell silent for a little while as she thought about what Kiyoshi had said and she had to admit that there was some truth to it. Though…she would have done her research on them anyway and would have discovered their strengths that lay with Kiyoshi and Hyuga especially. She would have discovered their teamwork was their strength and worked to counter it. So, would that still be true for them if she had been in the league, if the Generation of Miracles had been there? Wouldn’t she have prepared them for Seirin’s strengths? Would Seirin still have been able to surprise them?

“I guess you have a point,” Mac admitted.

“So, perhaps you should wait and see if someone out there can surprise you,” Kiyoshi said.

Mac nodded but she still didn’t feel convinced, she had researched everyone who had made it to the Nationals and…well, they’d played most of them before. Her mind was going over all of the details she had gathered as the door was pulled open and noise interrupted her thoughts.

“Hi guys!” Kiyoshi’s cheerful greeting met his teammates who loudly said their own greetings to their friend who was sitting up in the bed with his legs stretched out in front of him his knee covered in a bandage. Mac still felt saddened when she saw the bandage, like a painful reminder that her boyfriend’s dream had been altered forever.

“Oh, Potter-san is here,” Koganei said when he spotted her curled up in the chair on the other side of the bed from them. She smiled slightly at them and gave them a wave.

“Are we interrupting?” Riko asked glancing between the two with a small uncertain frown. “We could...”

“No, no,” Kiyoshi waved her off, “come in.”

Mac nodded, but didn’t say anything as she observed them taking their seats in the room and she thought it was good that Kiyoshi didn’t share a room with anyone at the moment. They would most definitely have been bothered by all these visitors.

Mac was content to observe them interact with each other and she was convinced that this was a good team, and she longed for the happiness she saw in them. It reminded her so much of her friends from before the change and it were almost painful to watch them. Though, the happiness was marred by the fact that one of their own was in a hospital bed. She saw the looks they gave Kiyoshi from time to time.

Mac had pulled out her sketchbook when the doctor came to collect Kiyoshi for another x-ray. She hid behind her sketchpad as she listened to Kiyoshi’s friends talk. Her pen moved across the page in precise strokes and she could clearly see the contours of Kiyoshi standing on the court becoming visible on the formerly blank page. The comfort of her drawing had her calm down a little and pulled her into her own bubble not noticing the curious stares she attracted from the other occupants in the room.

 

“What do you think she’s doing?” Izuki asked quietly as he watched the girl that was Kiyoshi’s girlfriend. She had been quiet ever since they entered the room and he wondered if she was always so quiet or if she just didn’t like them. He had to admit that he was curious about her, and given that he was better at observing than the others saw the concerned looks she gave Kiyoshi from time to time as well as the sharp eyes that watched them interact with Kiyoshi. He had also seen the sadness along with the nostalgia in her eyes and he wondered what brought it there.

“Who knows,” Hyuga grunted. Izuki frowned at his friend but didn’t say anything; he knew he had the hardest time accepting that Kiyoshi was dating one of the Generation of Miracles. While he was playing again he hadn’t completely gotten over the trauma they had given him. Izuki couldn’t really blame him either.

“You think Kiyoshi will be okay?” Riko asked worriedly.

“He has to be,” Koganei whined as he flopped down at the chair he had previously occupied and looked uncharacteristically depressed. Mitobe was nodding quietly beside him echoing his friend perfectly like normal.

Izuki nodded and glanced over at Mac who was still drawing and not looking at them, she looked so focused that he couldn’t help but admire the ability to focus like that. He blinked when Tsuchiba passed him and walked toward Mac making them all fall silent as they seemed to realise as one what he intended. He paused just in front of Mac whose pen stilled before she looked up.

“How are you doing, Potter-san?” Tsuchiba asked with a gentle smile. Izuki blinked and looked at Mac in time to see the slight surprise in her green eyes before her face blanked into a perfect mask.

“I’m fine, Tsuchiba-san,” Mac answered in a perfectly even voice without any trace of lie. Izuki would have believed her if not for the slight trembling of hand around the sketchpad.

“Kiyoshi really cares about you,” Tsuchiba commented. “He looks happy with you.”

“I care about him too,” Mac said quietly.

Izuki could see Hyuga watch her closely as if trying to detect a lie in her words but Izuki also knew that there was no lie to be found. He smiled.

“I don’t think we’re over the shock of seeing Kiyoshi with you,” Izuki laughed joining them. Mac looked over at him and smiled a little.

“Oh?” she arched a brow.

“No,” Riko joined in. “He has been secretive and smiling a lot lately, but he would only deflect the questions and say he would tell us later. I’m sure he wanted to surprise us.”

Mac nodded thinking back at what Daiki had told her and let his words reassure her that Kiyoshi wasn’t ashamed of her.

“I take it your friends know about him,” Hyuga said making the room tense slightly as he watched her with narrow eyes. Izuki glanced at him worriedly but he didn’t seem hostile, only…curious.

“They do,” Mac said simply.

“And they’re okay with it?” Koganei asked, “I mean, your Captain even came here…”

Mac shrugged, “they’re dealing. They can be a little…um, overprotective of me.”

“I smell a story there,” Koganei grinned looking more like his normal self as he leaned forward looking at her. Mac hesitated a moment before she told them about the interrupted date extracting laughs from the others.

“Ouch,” Izuki laughed. “Kiyoshi really has a death wish.”

“Well, I think Seijuro actually respects him a little more for it,” Mac admitted, “not that he will admit to it. He’s not used to people actually daring to tell him like that.”

Even Hyuga snorted at that.

 

Mac entered the gym and saw that she was once again the last one there. She sighed and quickly put her bag down and joined Momoi by the bench giving her a small smile.

“You okay, Mac?” Momoi asked.

“Just tired,” Mac said yawning. She had been up late the night before trying to read more about healing potions and how she could use it to help Kiyoshi. Then she’d had a rather tiring magic lesson before Sato had allowed her to go for the day.

“You look a little pale,” Momoi said still looking worried.

Mac just smiled and grabbed the basketball that was lying beside Momoi unused and ready for someone to grab it. She needed to relax and just disconnect from her thoughts for a moment; her mind was going over everything that had happened the last few days. It was strange to think that so much had happened since the preliminaries had ended.

“How is Kiyoshi-san?” Tetsuya asked stepping up beside her and caught the ball as she passed it to him.

“He’s doing alright,” Mac said. “He’s very brave and putting up a good front.”

Tetsuya nodded as he looked at her, “and his knee?”

“He needs surgery,” Mac said dribbling the ball before jumping up and shooting it through the hoop. The echo of the ball bouncing against the parquet was muzzled out by the sound of the practice going on around them. “I don’t know if he’s going to do it or not.”

“Why wouldn’t he?” Tetsuya asked as he passed her the ball making her smile as she registered the strength in it.

“He wants to keep playing basketball with his team,” Mac sighed, “so he says he wants to train up his knee again, but by doing that he will only be able to play a short period before his knee gives out again and then he won’t be able to play again. Ever.”

Tetsuya looked concerned and Mac sighed again before mindlessly throwing the ball to the hoop and watched as it bounced on the iron around the hoop before falling through it. She walked over and picked up the ball not really caring to make it look like she made an effort.

“I see,” Tetsuya said quietly.

Mac smiled slightly but didn’t say anything else; she wasn’t sure why she had told Tetsuya that. She hadn’t told Daiki or Seijuro and didn’t plan to. Though, the honest concern in Tetsuya’s eyes had her blurting it out before her mind caught up to her mouth.

“So, have you talked to your friend lately?” Mac asked changing the subject.

“No,” Tetsuya shook his head. “I’ll see him at the opening ceremony like last year. We both have been busy so we haven’t been able to actually talk.”

Mac nodded in understanding, “I’m sure he’s looking forward to seeing you again too.”

She knew Tetsuya well enough to see the excitement in his eyes as he nodded.

“You’ll have to introduce me to him,” Mac told her friend. “I would like to meet the person who made you love basketball like this.”

“Really?” Tetsuya asked.

“Of course,” Mac said feeling slightly surprised. “Why wouldn’t I?”

Tetsuya shrugged making Mac frowned a little, did he really think that she wouldn’t want to meet his friends? Did he think that she or the team didn’t care about him?

“Tetsu…” Mac started but they were interrupted by Ryota who came crashing into them making Mac stumble to keep her balance.

“Kuroko-cchi! Mac-cchi!” Ryota exclaimed. “Hide me!”

“Ouch…Kise!” Mac groaned. “Get off!”

“Hide me,” he pleaded and while he pulled back he positioned himself so they were shielding him from whoever was coming. Mac glanced to the side and spotted Daiki coming scowling toward them.

“What did you do?” Mac asked exasperatedly.

“N-nothing,” Ryota said trying to sound innocent.

“Kise?” Mac warned with a look and the blond sunk while Tetsuya hid an amused smile.

“I, um, might have, accidentally I promise, woken Aomine-cchi from his nap?” Ryota mumbled looking scared as the scowling form of their Ace came closer with long steps.

Mac groaned and wondered how she would remain sane with friends like these. She turned toward Daiki who was now by her side and moved to get around her to where Ryota was hiding.

“Daiki,” Mac greeted her best friend. “Care to tell me what you’re doing?”

“I’m going to kill him!” Daiki growled and narrowed his eyes when Mac moved to stop him from getting past her. “Kenzie…”

“Daiki,” she said right back with an arched brow.

“Move,” he said but didn’t make a move to get past her anymore instead he was glaring over her shoulder at where Ryota was cowering.

“No, calm down and stop trying to kill your friend,” Mac said and glared when he opened his mouth making him snap it close. “Now, you know very well that you weren’t supposed to be sleeping during practice anyway so you can’t blame anyone for waking you up. Go and actually do the work you’re supposed to do! We’re only a few days away from Nationals.”

Mac almost laughed as a pout crossed Daiki’s face as he turned around and walked away with his shoulders slumped in defeat and muttering to himself. Something about a great dream, but Mac turned back to Ryota who was looking at her with awe.

“You saved me!” he beamed with puppy eyes.

“Next time I won’t,” Mac said knowing it wasn’t true and so did he. He just grinned and nodded before skipping off to join Shintaro and Atsushi who was practicing a little bit away, both having witnessed the scene if the exasperated looks Shintaro gave Ryota was anything to judge by.

“You really have him handled,” Tetsuya commented drawing Mac’s eyes to him.

“Who?” she snorted.

“Both of them;” Tetsuya smiled.

 

“That’s quite the file,” Riko commented making Mac look up from said file to find both Riko and Hyuga standing in front of her. Mac blinked as she hadn’t heard them enter the hospital room.

“Um, I guess,” Mac said a little unsurely.

“Where’s Kiyoshi?” Hyuga asked looking at the empty bed.

“He’s talking with the doctor with his grandparents,” Mac said quietly as a worried frown crossed her face.

“Oh,” Riko said also looking worried while Hyuga grunted and sat down at the edge of the bed. Mac felt like squirming as his dark eyes watched her; she knew he was the one who was the most sceptical of her. Riko pulled a chair a little closer to where Mac was seated before sitting down herself. “You’re here a lot.”

Mac looked at Riko who had a blank look on her face but Mac sensed the curiosity in her voice.

“Yeah?” Mac looked confused, “Teppei is here, so…”

Riko smiled and nodded while Hyuga looked like he was thinking hard about something, Mac found it best to try to ignore him.

“So, what file is that?” Riko asked bringing the topic back to the file in Mac’s lap. Mac glanced down at it before looking back at Riko; she saw only curiosity in her brown eyes.

“It’s some of my research for the other teams that we’re meeting at Nationals,” Mac finally answered.

“Some of your research?” Riko asked wide eyed.

“Um, yeah?” Mac hated how unsure she felt in the presence of the two older teens. She had become more confident, but it was like it had flown away now. She wanted Daiki or Kiyoshi there to get the attention off her, well maybe not Daiki… he would probably only start a fight. She almost snorted at the thought.

“Why do you need that much research?” Hyuga asked speaking up.

“I like to know who we’re playing against and it’s kind of my job,” Mac said, “I always do the research on our opponents and note who we need to look out for. Coach will take it into account before working out the strategy for the game. “

“But why?” Hyuga asked again. “It’s not like you need it.”

Mac stilled before looking at him, she noticed Riko glance between the two of them with a worried look on her face. He didn’t look like he was accusing her, Mac realised. No, just curious and confused. Like he was trying to make sense of her.

“You’re right,” Mac admitted softly easily spotting the surprise in his eyes. “But… It wasn’t always like this; we didn’t always know that we were better than everyone. Before…before we had to work hard for our victories and we earned it. Then…then they grew in their abilities and everything changed. You’re right, we, they don’t need it that much now, but I do. I need to know who we’re playing, I need to know who they are and hope that they’re strong enough to keep going even after they played them, us.”

Mac looked him straight in the eyes as she said it and saw the surprise, the shock in them before they turned pensive.

“You did it with my team as well?” Hyuga asked shocking her.

“Well, yes,” Mac nodded looking at him warily.

“And what did you think about me?” he asked or rather challenged.

“That you’re a strong shooting guard that could challenge us well,” Mac said instantly, “and that you love basketball more than most. I also noted that you carried your team well and when Teppei told me that he made you be the Captain for Seirin I knew he had made the right choice. You fight with everything you’ve got. You’re a good leader.”

Mac pretended not to notice the moistening eyes or the way he swallowed as she looked back at the file to give him a moment to gather himself.

 

Kiyoshi was looking thoughtful and Mac waited for the moment he would voice his thoughts both Hyuga and Riko was watching him curiously but didn’t press. He had been quiet since coming back from the talk with the doctor with his grandparents. The older couple had given them a smile and in Mac case a hug before telling them goodbye and left to go home. Mac promised that she would be there the next day to help with some of the chores Kiyoshi normally did.

“There’s a doctor who believes that he can do my surgery and still have me ready to play next year,” Kiyoshi suddenly said breaking Mac out of her thoughts. “He’s a well-known doctor for athletes; he works a lot with our National athletes in both basketball and football.”

“Really?” Riko asked eagerly leaning forward slightly.

“Yes,” Kiyoshi nodded. “He says that I will need to stay in a rehabilitation centre for a while, so I’ll need to study from there if I’m not going to fall behind.”

“That’s great,” Hyuga said.

Mac could see that something was bothering Kiyoshi and when he looked at her she had a feeling he was about to say something about it. She wasn’t sure what, but this seemed to be exactly the kind of surgery that he wouldn’t afford and that was why it hadn’t been an option before.

“You know anything about it, Mac?” Kiyoshi asked.

“What?” Mac asked.

“Well, I’m not sure how a doctor like him even knows I exist,” Kiyoshi said dryly. “I mean, I’m just a high school kid and not very well-known. How does he even know to take a notice of me when we haven’t asked for him? And then there’s the fact that they must have adjusted the cost for the surgery. When grandpa asked what it cost it wasn’t as expensive as we would believe. Especially with a surgeon like that.”

Mac frowned as she thought as the nagging sensation in the back of her mind grew. That did sound suspicious, but she didn’t understand why he thought she would know anything about it. It wasn’t like she had managed to actually do anything to help… she was still working on finding something magical, but not magical enough to help.

“I don’t know…” Mac frowned confused. “I haven’t…”

“The Doctor willing to do it is named Midorima,” Kiyoshi said making Mac’s eyes widen.

Midorima? Like….Shintaro? Oh…. Oh…. Oh…

Mac swallowed and looked to see all three Seirin players stare at her.

“Oh,” was all she managed to get out. Of course she knew that Shintaro’s father was a doctor, and a well-known one that often worked with athletes. She was actually a little surprised that she hadn’t thought about it before, she would have sought him out herself if she had.

“Why would he care about my knee?” Kiyoshi asked.

“Midorima, um, Shintaro must have talked to him,” Mac said quietly. “He…”

“Your teammate?” Riko asked.

“Yeah,” Mac nodded swallowing. “I didn’t ask him, Teppei. I forgot actually… I’ve never met Midorima’s father before.”

“He didn’t tell you he would talk to his dad?” Hyuga asked.

“No, he didn’t,” Mac said. “Though, that’s not surprising. He is not one who will seek the attention or gratitude of others. He’ll pretend that he doesn’t care or even know what you’re talking about if you bring it up.”

“Why would he do that?” Kiyoshi asked a blank look on his face, but his eyes were sharp as they looked at her. She felt a little stunned for a moment as her mind was still trying to catch up to what he was saying. Midorima had talked to his dad. He had asked his dad to help Kiyoshi. Hadn’t he? Or was it just a coincidence? No, she pushed that thought away immediately. She didn’t believe in that kind of coincidences.

“I don’t…” Mac started, but trailed off.

“He didn’t mention it to you?” Riko asked.

“No, he didn’t say anything at practice today,” Mac shook her head.

Mac looked at Kiyoshi who looked calm but there was something in his eyes that made her frown. She reached out and took his hand in hers making him look at her again.

“Are you angry?” Mac asked worriedly. “I’m sure Midorima only wanted to help…”

Kiyoshi sighed and looked at Riko and Hyuga who seemed to understand what he wanted and both got up muttering something about getting a coffee or something. Mac didn’t really pay attention as she stared at her boyfriend.

“Mac,” Kiyoshi said, “I’m not mad at you.”

“But you are angry…” she whispered.

“No, not really…I just…” Kiyoshi sighed. “Mac, the surgery is expensive and not to forget the rehabilitation that’s needed after. I just… I don’t know how it’s possible for it to be something we can afford! How can I repay them?”

Mac could understand the pride he felt, about the wariness to accept something he knew was expensive and something they normally couldn’t afford. She understood, but she hoped that he would look past it.

“Teppei… I get it,” Mac said quietly, “really, I do. But… it’s a solution too, you know. It’s a way for you to keep your dream and you’ll be able to play with your friends. Without it… I fear you’re just going to ruin your knee forever and lose your dream completely.”

Kiyoshi nodded. “I get it, Mac. But I need to think…”

Mac nodded and gave him a small smile, “that’s all I can ask.”

 

“Thank you,” Mac was the first thing Mac said when she saw Shintaro the next day. She had waited impatiently for her magic lessons to end so she could go and find Shintaro and talk to him. She still couldn’t get over Kiyoshi’s news from the day before.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Shintaro huffed pushing up his glasses as he clutched the stuffed animal in his hand. She could also see the small blush in his cheek as he tried to seem stoic and uncaring like normal.

“I know you know what I’m talking about, but I’ll let you pretend you don’t,” Mac said with a smile, “you didn’t have to talk to your dad, but you did. So, thank you. Teppei is a little hesitant about the cost of the surgery and the fact that they can afford it. He knows that normally they wouldn’t be able to.”

Shintaro shrugged a little, “dad only promised he would look into the case. I never made him do it. As of the cost, I know nothing about that.”

Mac just smiled and reached out to take his free hand watching as his eyes widened slightly in shock.

“Midorima, I know you did it for me and I appreciate it,” Mac said squeezing his hand before letting go. “You’re a good friend.”

He only nodded swiftly before walking past her and toward the classroom. She smiled to herself before heading toward the classroom herself.

 

It was time for Nationals and Mac wished that it wasn’t. She had a deep sense of dread deep in her stomach and she had to force herself to breathe calmly as she followed her team past the press. The flashing of cameras along with the soft murmuring from the journalists and other teams that were watching had her feeling uncomfortable.

“It’s Teiko…”

“They’re as imposing as professionals…”

“They don’t seem like Middle Schoolers…”

Mac heard the whispers but ignored them from where she was walking beside Daiki. She kept her eyes forward ignoring the need to glance around the large room to get a look of her surroundings. She thought she heard someone call for Tetsuya, but she wasn’t sure. She glanced at Tetsuya and saw the serious look on his face.

“Hi,” she murmured nudging him slightly. “You ok?”

“Yeah,” Tetsuya nodded. “Just…thinking.”

Mac nodded and kept walking.

 

“Hi Kuroko!”

Mac noticed that Tetsuya turned and a smile crossed his face so she paused letting the rest of the team continue without them. She took a closer look at the teen rushing toward Tetsuya, he had orange-brownish hair and a large goofy smile on his face as he grasped Tetsuya’s shoulder tightly.

“Ogiwara-kun!” Tetsuya smiled looking relieved.

So this was the friend, Mac thought. She had been curious about him ever since she heard about him last year. It was clear that he was important to Tetsuya. She also knew that he was a strong player and that his team was a good one. She watched as they talked, or rather Ogiwara talked, a mile a minute seemingly ignorant to the world around them. She smiled slightly.

“Ogiwara-kun, this is my friend Potter Mackenzie,” Tetsuya voice broke into her thoughts and she found both boys looking at her. Ogiwara smiled at her and held out his hand which she shook before letting go. “Mac, this is the friend I was telling you about, Ogiwara Shigehiro.”

“Hello, Ogiwara-san,” Mac smiled politely. “I’m glad to finally meet you. Tetsu has told me a lot about you.”

“Nice to meet you, Potter-san,” Ogiwara said after a glance at Tetsuya.

“I’m sorry, but we need to go and find the others again,” Mac said giving Tetsuya a concerned look before looking back at Ogiwara, “but you’re playing Kyoizumi soon, right?”

“Y-yeah, how did you know?” he asked surprised.

“Mac always knows,” Tetsuya said with a small laugh. Mac didn’t miss the relieved look that crossed Ogiwara’s face at the laugh and she gave him a pensive look.

“Good luck and I hope we’ll get to play you like you promised,” Mac told him making him nod with a curious look on his face.

“See you later, Kuroko!” Ogiwara beamed and waved at his friend. “Potter-san.”

Mac looked at Tetsuya and his eyes met hers. She could see the nerves and apprehension in the teal coloured eyes and she was sure it was echoed in her own. He gave a small smile and she nodded at him. It was time. One way or another, they would have their answer for Nationals and how their team would manage to stand up against the competition or lack there off.

Chapter Text

3rd year – Teiko - Nationals

 

“Listen here,” Sanada said standing in the locker room before their first match. He was looking at them all with a serious look on his face and Mac nudged Daiki who looked ready to doze off. He startled slightly but seemed a little more awake so she focused back on the coach. “I want you all to go out there and give it your all. I do not want anyone of you slacking off just because you think you’re the best!”

“We understand,” Seijuro said coolly.

Mac was worried but she pushed it back as she stood up next to Daiki. He rolled a shoulder before starting to walk out of the gym. Mac glanced at Sanada who was watching them with a pensive look on his face, when he noticed her watching him he gave her a tight smile before heading out. She briefly wondered what he was thinking.

“Ok,” she muttered to herself. “Remember what Teppei said… just focus on having fun. Playing basketball is fun.”

She inhaled deeply as she repeated the mantra to herself in her mind one more time.

“Kenzie?” Daiki reappeared in the door looking at her curiously. “You coming?”

“Yeah…” Mac nodded and joined him. He nodded and walked beside her with a bored look on his face. She glanced at him and wondered when the last time she had seen him bouncing in excitement before a match was. It seemed like a lifetime ago. She shook her head pushing out the brooding thoughts; she couldn’t start thinking about that again.

They entered the court and saw the other team Hiramine Junior High was already there warming up. Mac knew each player on the team from her research and she also knew that they were a hard working team when they were at their best. She could only hope that they would manage to bring it for this match.

Mac started on the bench and had to watch as her team completely trampled over Hiramine who faltered quickly. She realised as she sat there watching that it was the first time she’d ever seen them play in full power all at once. They hadn’t gone all out together before, and if she thought the result was bad then… now it was a disaster.

“Oh my,” Sanada muttered next to her and Mac glanced at him to see him looking pale and shocked like he had seen something really unexpected. Not that Mac really knew what was so unexpected about this. This was what she had been waiting for. “They’re too good… It’s like the pressure doesn’t even register with them anymore. Is their talent really that overwhelming?”

Mac wasn’t sure he meant her for hearing him as he was staring at the match. She could only start to imagine what he must be feeling watching the Generation of Miracles waltzing over their opponents. Though, he had seen it before but not with this kind of overpowering force and not with this kind of setting. The nerves that had still been in the team a year ago was completely gone.

“I think your request before the game had them all face Hiramine more seriously than before,” Mac spoke up quietly not taking her eyes off the game. “They’re showing off.”

“I see,” Sanada said. “You knew they…they could do this?”

Mac didn’t say anything for a moment before she sighed and nodded.

“I knew it was a possibility,” Mac admitted.

He frowned but nodded looking dejected but also resigned. She wasn’t sure what he was thinking and he offered no more insight into this thoughts.

It was over and Teiko won 198 – 8. It was their largest victory yet and all Mac felt was dread twisting in her stomach as she watched her friends’ line up. Hiramine’s players looked broken and she forced her eyes away.

 

“Looks like we took them too seriously,” Ryota moaned as he sat down at the bench in the locker room, sweat was dripping from his forehead and he raised his hand to wipe it off.

“See…” Atsushi yawned widely.

“As expected, they’re not worth shit…” Daiki commented. “Should we do that again starting from the next game?”

“Hmph!” Shintaro grunted turning away from them and toward the locker.

Seijuro was silently watching them with a small smirk on his lips.

Mac noticed that Tetsuya was sitting silently with his head bowed and hands clenched tightly making his knuckles turn almost ghostly white. She could spot the tense shoulders and how he winced as he heard them talk.

“What was that?” Mac demanded quietly.

They blinked at her almost as one.

“Eh?” Ryota broke the confused silence that filled the locker room. “What do you mean, Mac-cchi?”

“You trashed them,” Mac said. “You treated them like they weren’t even worth being there, that their effort to qualifying to the Nationals was nothing. Why did you do that?”

“Coach asked us to not slack off,” Daiki shrugged.

“Yeah, he did,” Mac nodded. “But…”

It was hard, because technically they hadn’t done anything wrong. They won because they were better than the others and asking them to not play with their all was wrong as well. Yet… yet… she didn’t feel good.

“Who cares?” Atsushi asked through another yawn. “We won. Like always. What does it matter how we did it?”

“It matters because we’re trashing other’s dreams as we do it!” Mac snapped. “Respect isn’t just giving it our all, it’s acknowledging that their effort also matter despite that they lost! It’s treating them with respect and not talking badly about them afterwards and during the match!”

They were silent as she snapped at them her frustration bursting through, but before she could say anything else she shook her head and turned her back to them. She looked at Tetsuya who was staring at her with such wide eyes that had her calm down slightly. He gave a small smile but didn’t say anything.

 

Mac was playing in their next game, it was clear that they had heard their result from their last match and Mac sighed. They looked scared, and she couldn’t really blame them. Not anymore. It hurt to admit that to herself.

“Have fun,” she whispered. “Have fun.”

“Mac-chin?” Atsushi blinked confused at her.

“Nothing,” Mac said with a small smile. He just shrugged and turned toward the match again.

Mac passed the ball and ran past the defending opponent who she noticed had a torn look between defeat and anger on his face. She pushed the observation out of her mind as she caught the pass from Tetsuya and jumped up and released the ball in mid-air before watching as it flew through the net just as she landed on the parquet floors again. The rush of cheers from the spectators did nothing to the lack of celebration in her team.

“I’m getting the next goal,” Ryota said from beside her and she rolled her eyes but didn’t comment. She saw the tension in Tetsuya’s shoulders and knew he had heard the comment as well; she gave him a small pat on the shoulder in support as she passed him.

Mac passed, shot and then passed the ball some more as the match continued. It was easy to see through the other team’s strategy or almost lack there off. She glanced at the coach on the other team and saw the blank look on the older man’s face. It was like he was bored and would rather be home or something than there with his team. She glanced at the players on the bench and noticed how quiet they were; one even had his phone up and seemed to be texting. What was with that?

Mac sighed and focused on the match again just as the referee called for a member change and she saw Shintaro standing ready. Mac knows she’s the one who’s supposed to change so she moves across the court and to the bench.

“Do they have anything to come with?” Sanada asked glancing at her.

Mac took one last look at the other team and felt her stomach clench as she saw the all to familiar sight of disappointment and defeat on the other teams face. She couldn’t see anyone who seemed even the littlest bit interested in trying to challenge them.

“No,” Mac sighed, “they’ve given up.”

They won. Mac smiled a little and did the regular line up, she ignored the tears in the other teams eyes knowing it was not the time to point it out or show any kind of sympathy.

 

They had easily won the first two days full of matches and was now ready for the semi-finals against Kamata West the next day. The finals would take place later the same day so for better or worse there was only one more day of Nationals before it was over. Before…before they would know and Mac would know what was left of her team. Mac sighed and hesitated outside the door to the hospital room where her boyfriend was staying, and from where she stood she could hear the cheerful voices and laughter coming from the room. She supposed that his team was there again visiting. She almost turned around and left, but the door opened and Izuki blinked at her before smiling wide.

“Potter-san!” he greeted.

“Oh, is Potter-san here?”

“Let her in, Izuki!”

Mac plastered on a smile as she stepped into the room and found the entire Seirin team already there surrounding Kiyoshi who was sitting propped up on the bed wearing a large smile on his face, he looked happy and she felt the knot in her stomach lessen a little.

“Mac,” Kiyoshi smiled, “you’re here? I thought you wouldn’t be able to visit during Nationals?”

“I thought I’d check in,” Mac said smiling a little but it felt forced. “We just finished our games for today.”

Kiyoshi looked at her with a worried look and she was careful to not show how confused and hurt she felt. She gave him a smile to show him that she was alright and he relaxed slightly, but there were still traces of worry in his brown eyes.

“Oh, I take it would be a stupid question to ask how it went?” Koganei grinned.

There wasn’t anything maliciousness hidden in his statement but Mac still had to hide a wince, she hated that there wasn’t even anyone who would genuinely ask how they did and not already expect the answer. They all saw it as impossible for them to lose.

“We won,” was all she said. She saw the concerned look from Kiyoshi but she didn’t betray what she felt or what she thought.

“Hm,” Hyuga looked thoughtful, “I see. That’s good. You look forward to tomorrow?”

Mac shrugged, “I suppose.”

Mac watched them feeling strangely detached from the others as she did, it was like there was a wall between them and she struggled to see a way past it to join them on their side. Their happy smiles and free laughter was foreign for her, but at the same time she longed for it. She wanted it, but she was unable to get it. How could she get it and not only her but her team as well? They tried so hard, but… it was like it was always out of reach. She knew that no one else would understand what she felt, they would see a team winning their games and playing well. They didn’t see the team struggling underneath and only wanting to be together and play. They didn’t see how it tore them all apart.

“Mac?” Kiyoshi broke into her thought making her realise that she had been quiet for a little too long.

“Sorry,” Mac said and faked a yawn, “tired. I think I should get back home.”

“Ok,” He said looking a little concerned but not overly so. His friends smiled and waved at her, some wished her luck for the games tomorrow.

“Bye, see you tomorrow or the next day,” Mac said.

“Sure,” Kiyoshi grinned. “I’ll text you.”

Mac nodded and with a last smile and wave left the room and closed the door behind her separating her from her boyfriend and Seirin. As soon as the door was closed she exhaled and leaned against it for a moment feeling her mask fell away and tension leave her shoulders. She had made it without being called on her act. She had for the first time since meeting them felt uncomfortable around them, she knew that if she told them about what had happened during the days matches they would judge and she didn’t want to see it in their eyes. She liked them, but they wouldn’t understand this. She wasn’t even sure Kiyoshi would understand.

 

Walking aimlessly she didn’t realise that she ended up in front of Daiki’s house until she stared at the house that had been her home for a long time, even before she officially moved in when the Dursley’s left. It had been the place where she felt safe and home, still did if she was honest with herself. She wasn’t sure why she had ended up there now, though.

“Mac-nee?” Shiro’s voice sounded breaking into her thoughts and she blinked realising that the boy was standing right in front of her. He was dressed in his football gear suggesting that he had just come back from his practice. “Are you ok?”

“Hi Shiro,” Mac forced a smile for him. “I’m good.”

He looked worried still but nodded and grabbed her hand and pulled at it, “come on! Don’t just stand there and stare at the house.”

Mac followed him inside and felt warmth fill her when Ayano greeted her with a hug and kind smile and without questioning why she was there. She glanced at the stairs and Ayano smiled kindly at her and nudged her toward the stairs seemingly knowing just who she was looking for.

“Tell him dinner is ready soon,” Ayano said.

Mac nodded and ruffled Shiro’s hair as she passed him and felt a spark of amusement when he complained.

She pushed the door to Daiki’s room open like she had so many times before and soon spotted her best friend lying flat on the bed staring at the ceiling looking peaceful. He glanced at the door when it opened and she saw the surprise in his navy blue eyes when he spotted her, but his face soon broke out into a smile and he sat up.

“Kenzie,” he said. “I didn’t know you were coming over.”

“I didn’t plan to,” Mac shrugged and walked over to the bed and sat down at the edge of it.

He looked at her for a moment and his searching eyes swept over her like he was looking for something. He sighed a little and gave a sad smile before reaching out and pulled her into a hug. She felt a moment of surprise before relaxing into the comfort he offered her. He didn’t say anything just held her and let her take the comfort she needed.

“You’re mum said dinner is ready,” Mac said pulling back feeling a little better.

“Ok,” Daiki said standing up and grabbed her hand to pull her off the bed before letting go of her hand. “Ready?”

“Yeah,” Mac said.

She ate dinner with them and felt the familiarity of the situation calm her even more and even cracked a smile at the bantering between the family. Shiro and Sayuri seemed to both try to cheer her up even when they didn’t know what upset her in the first place.

Mac was very much aware that both Ayano and Takehiro looked at her a little worriedly, but neither seemed inclined to bring it up. She appreciated it.

“I’ll walk you home,” Daiki said when Mac said it was time to go. He waved off her protests so she gave up and nodded her acceptance. He grinned at her and like she had with Shiro earlier ruffled her hair.

 

They walked in silence for a while and Mac glanced up at the starry sky, the full moon was lightning the evening up nicely. She felt Nao nudge her leg from where he was walking beside her and she glanced down to see her little fox friend look up at her with worried eyes. She smiled and leant down to pat his head before straightening again and continued to walk.

“I know your upset,” Daiki said quietly. “I know and I try to… but…”

Mac sighed as she heard the conflicting emotion in her friend.

“I know,” she whispered not looking at him.

Daiki sighed silently at himself and wondered if he would ever find out how to not hurt his best friend. He always ended up doing something that hurt her, and he hated that. He just couldn’t seem to stop. He glanced down at her there she walked beside him with a lost look on her face. Her eyes were directed upward as she watched the stars and he thought that she looked pretty. He frowned at his thoughts, why did he suddenly think that she was pretty?

“I went to see Teppei,” Mac said and Daiki shook the thoughts from his mind.

“Oh,” he said.

“I couldn’t…” Mac frowned looking like she was searching for words. “I couldn’t tell him or his friends that we won with a 190 point difference.”

“Why?” Daiki asked.

“They wouldn’t understand,” Mac sighed. “This part of basketball is a part they don’t understand.”

Daiki nodded and refrained from saying anything as he glanced at her. He did understand what she meant. It was something no one but them understood. The burden, in lack of a better word, of winning with such clear margin was not easy. Daiki could still not get the horror of their opponents out of his mind or the echoes of the word ‘monster’ out of his mind. Everytime he touched a ball it rang in his ear and he lost the will to show excitement or joy in the game. Yet, they won and he couldn’t remember what it felt like losing anymore.

“I didn’t want to see the shock or horror on their face,” Mac admitted. “Not directed at me.”

Daiki glanced at her again, “I’m sure they wouldn’t look at you like that.”

“They would,” Mac said meeting his eyes. “I’m one of you and…and they would only see how much better we are. I know we’re not monsters, Daiki. I know that, but all the others out there… they seem to think that we are and…I don’t think I can handle seeing Teppei and his friends look at me like that.”

Daiki sighed and placed a arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer as they continued to walk. They were almost to the bus stop now Daiki noticed briefly as he tried to figure out how to help her.

“Kiyoshi already knows,” Daiki pointed out feeling the slight tremble going through her body. “He played us, remember? But… if they do look at you like that, if he does…then he’s not good enough for you, Kenzie. There’s nothing bad about you, you’re not a monster. You could never be seen as a monster.”

Daiki blushed slightly as he said it and refused to look at her, but he felt how she leaned against him and squeezed her shoulders. He knew it was true, Mac was not a monster. She was too good, too…perfect.

“Thank you, Daiki,” she whispered.

 

Later Mac was curled up in bed with Nao snugged into her and she felt lighter as she thought back at Daiki’s words. She still found comfort from him even when he also was part of the reason why she needed comfort in the first place. She frowned; no she couldn’t blame him or the others. They didn’t know what to do with the kind of talent they had and lack of competition. It wasn’t that strange that they developed an superiority complex toward the other teams.

She felt her phone buzz and she lazily grabbed it off her nightstand, Nao whined softly in protest, and smiled a little when she saw the text from Kiyoshi.

Thank you for coming to see me today, Mac. I know you have a lot on your plate with Nationals and everything, but I don’t want you to worry about me right now, Mac. I have decided to take the surgery. It’s scheduled in a week. Good luck tomorrow and remember: just have fun! –T.

Mac smiled in relief that he was going to take the surgery, it lessened the worry she felt for him and she was sure he would come back and be even better than before.

Good! I’m happy you decided to take the surgery. Thank you, I will try. –M.

She felt too tired to expand on the text and sank down on the bed closing her eyes and patting Nao distractedly when he adjusted his position due to her moving around. He purred a little and she let his soft fur and purrs lull her into sleep.

 

“Hi Tetsu,” Mac said joining Tetsuya who was on his way into the gym. He glanced at her and barely smiled making her feel a little worried. “You ok?”

“I’m fine,” he deadpanned.

Mac nodded not sure how to make him open up. “I see. Well, if you need to talk you know you can come to me, right?”

He glanced at her before nodding and she knew that was all she could hope for so she let it go.

“I see Meiko is also making their way through,” Mac commented. “Your friend is very good.”

Tetsuya nodded with a determined look on his face. “Yes.”

Mac glanced at him again and sighed, “you’re not very talkative today.”

“Sorry, Mac,” Tetsuya apologized. “I’m just tired and have a lot on my mind.”

“I understand, Tetsu,” Mac said, “I just wished you would stop taking everything onto yourself. I’m here if you need me.”

“I know,” Tetsuya nodded.

“Do you?” she murmured to herself as she watched him go to the locker room and she had to go to the one she was using to change into her jersey. She worried about him even more than the others, right now they were not on the edge of breaking but she knew that Tetsuya was close. So very close to break.

 

“Coach,” Tetsuya spoke up efficiently silencing the others as he normally was quiet during these talks before matches. He had a determined look on his face and Mac arched a brow in slight surprise. “Can I start today?”

Sanada’s eyebrows rose as he stared at the shadow of the team, he also noted the determined look on his face and how he seemed set on something.

“You want to play from the start?” Sanada asked.

“Yes,” Tetsuya said.

“You’re suddenly fired up, huh?” Ryota commented surprised.

“This is unlike you, Kuroko,” Shintaro said.

Sanada glanced at Mac who shrugged a little; she didn’t see a reason for not letting Tetsuya start the match. She knew Sanada planned on spearing a few of their players from start this match anyway, so Tetsuya was a good choice.

“Understood,” Sanada said looking at Tetsuya. “Either way, I was planning on preserving some of the players today in preparation of the finals. I am benching Murasakibara, Midorima and Aomine from the start in the days match. So for the day’s line up we have: Akashi, Potter, Kise and Kuroko.”

They stepped onto the court ready to face Kamata West Junior High and a pair of twins smirked at them as they did. Mac remembered them from last year and she was curious about how much of a challenge they would be now. Last year they had managed to challenge them a little, so she had a little bit of hope.

“We’ll take revenge from last time,” twin one said with a smirk.

“We’ll drag those other three from the bench before you know it,” twin two added with a identical smirk.

Mac rolled her eyes but smirked back, “let’s see you do it.”

They looked at her a little curious, but didn’t lose their smirk. Mac could tell that they were confident and mainly because that they had three of the supposed strongest members of the Generation of Miracles on the bench. They seemed to be underestimating them and Mac almost felt bad for them.

“They are underestimating us;” Seijuro spoke up coldly next to her. His eyes flashed as he stared at them. “They think they have a shot at this.”

“Well, it’s better than not believing at all,” Mac shrugged, “but I’ll admit… it’s annoying how much they seem to be underestimating us.” She frowned as she heard the players of Kamata West discuss how easy it would be to win with the three Miracles on the bench.

Seijuro smirked at her, “let’s show them how wrong they are, shall we?”

“We shall,” Mac nodded. Okay, so maybe she was a little used to being feared and didn’t like being underestimated either. But…come on, who would think that even with three of five official Miracles on the bench that they would take the victory easily? Didn’t they do their research? And what was with the same surprise she saw in their eyes when they spotted her playing? She wasn’t a shadow like Tetsuya, yet they seemed to block out playing her all the time. She just didn’t understand people sometimes.

 

Mac passed the ball and moved around the defending player with ease before catching the ball again, she heard the surprised gasp around her as they didn’t understand where the pass came from. She jumped and released the ball in the air watching as it flew through the hoop.

The match continued much the same way and Mac noticed how the desperation grew in Kamata West’s players as they game continued. She felt a flare of disappointment as the resignation and defeat emerged in their opponents.

Ryota caught a pass from Tetsuya who looked determined still and she squared her shoulders for the rest of the match.

The twins combined well together and Mac suddenly found herself on two against one with them, they glared at her as they passed the ball between each other with quick movements and they moved on each side of her. She saw their plan, and she had to admit that it was a good one. She could see why they had reached this far with this combination play. When she moved to stop one he passed the ball to his twin without having to look at where he was.

Mac observed them closely and noticed how twin one’s eyes briefly flickered to the side when she moved closer and she anticipated the move before he did it and when he passed the ball she was there and caught it instead. She heard the curse leaving twin two’s mouth as she passed the ball to Tetsuya who again passed to a Ryota who was completely free and scored.

“No way…” Mac heard some of the Kamata West players mutter as they stared.

“They weren’t supposed to be that good without half of the Miracles,” one of them mutter. “How can they all be that good?!”

Ryota dribbled the ball over the court before passing it to Mac who was free. She caught the ball and easily made the shot.

Mac panted and dried her sweat off her forehead as she watched the other team. They were in the last quarter now and she knew that they were close to breaking point or well past it really. They had given up; she saw it in their eyes.

They were once again on their way forward when suddenly a loud scream filled the court.

“AAAAGH!” Twin two yelled.

Mac felt her eyes widen as she saw the elbow closing in on Tetsuya with a force she knew was meant to harm, she moved but she knew she was to late. Again, she was too late. The elbow connected to Tetsuya’s head and he went down hard. The crash on the floor sounded unnatural high even around the cheering from the spectators and running feet against the parquet.

“No,” Mac muttered as she skidded down next to an unmoving Tetsuya. She reached out and touched his shoulder gently. “Tetsu?”

He didn’t answer and she felt her stomach tighten in fear. She was unaware of the surrounding around her as she carefully moved her friend. His eyes were closed and a small stream of blood came from his temple from where the elbow had hit.

“Tetsu?” she asked again. “Come on, Tetsu. Wake up!”

Medics came and someone pulled her away from him, but she didn’t look to see who it was as she stared at her unconscious friend. Why couldn’t she have stopped it? Why was she too late again? She wasn’t good enough…

“Kenzie…” Daiki whispered in her ear and she realised that he was the one who had pulled her back. “He’ll be alright.”

She nodded mutely as she watched the medics get Tetsuya over on a stretcher and carried him off the court. Mac saw Momoi stand from the bench and follow the medics looking pale and worried.

Mac turned toward the twin who was looking a little shocked at himself and she glared at him as she started to make her way toward him. She pushed at Daiki who tried to hold her back.

“You little….” Mac glared at the twin who balked at being in the focus of her glare. “You did that on purpose!”

“N-no, I d-d-didn’t,” he protested. “I-I d-didn’t see him!”

“Like hell you didn’t!” Mac growled stepping closer to him. She was so angry that she felt like her skin was burning. She had only been this angry at Hanamiya before when he injured Kiyoshi. “You saw him and took your frustration out on him!”

“N-no….” he shook his head looking pale and scared.

“Potter-san,” Sanada interrupted with a sharp tone. “Take a seat.”

Mac debated the pro and cons of ignoring the order from the coach, but when both Seijuro and Daiki pulled at her she allowed them to get her to the bench and away from the trembling twin who was now being comforted by his brother. Mac didn’t care. She saw Seijuro say something to them and saw the worried look on their faces, but she didn’t care. She wanted them to feel scared. They deserved if for hurting Tetsuya.

 

Mac looked down at Tetsuya who was looking small on the bed they had placed him to rest. He had a bandage around his head making him look even smaller. She sat down on a chair next to the bed ready to keep watch on Tetsuya who was still unconscious. She had asked if he shouldn’t be taken to the hospital, but they said he would be fine. So she decided to keep watch to make sure.

She heard some noise from outside and glanced at the door; she hesitated for a moment before getting up and walked to the door. She opened it and saw Momoi standing there as well as Ogiwara, Tetsuya’s friend.

“How is Kuroko?” Ogiwara asked as soon as he saw her.

“He’s still unconscious, but the doctor said he should be fine,” Mac said. “But he’ll probably miss the match later today.”

“Oh,” Ogiwara looked disappointed, “but he’ll be ok?”

“Yes,” Mac nodded.

“That’s great,” Ogiwara said relieved. “I think I forgot to breathe when he was hit…”

Mac nodded in understanding. She felt the same way.

“Um… I… I apologize if I ask something I shouldn’t, but…” Ogiwara shifted nervously on his feet and glanced up at her before looking away again quickly. Mac arched a brow as she noticed how nervous he suddenly became.

“What is it?” Mac asked.

“Why isn’t he smiling anymore?” Ogiwara rushed out and Mac froze. “He always smiled when he played. Always. But now… he didn’t even smile once! What happened to him?”

Mac glanced through the door and to her sleeping friend before closing it softly and turning back to Ogiwara. Momoi was watching concerned as well.

“A lot has happened since last year, Ogiwara-kun,” Mac said. “Tetsu... Tetsu is trying, but basketball isn’t always kind to all.”

Ogiwara looked pensive as he looked at her, but before he could say anything footsteps came closer and Mac glanced to the side and saw Seijuro coming up to them. She saw the curious glint in his eyes as he met hers before he masked his face into a cold expression as he turned his eyes to Ogiwara.

“Who are you?” Seijuro asked.

“I’m Ogiwara Shigehiro of Meiko,” Ogiwara said bravely. Mac arched a brow in surprise at the even voice and unfaltering eyes, not many could face Seijuro like that. Not when Seijuro was wearing that cold mask of his.

“Ah, you’re the reason Tetsuya worked so hard during the game,” Seijuro said almost to himself. He gave Ogiwara a curious look.

“Have you heard of me?” Ogiwara asked.

“I’ve heard of you once talking to Tetsuya,” Seijuro said with a casual shrug. “However, since he doesn’t like talking about his past I think it’s likely that it’s only me and Mac that knows about you.”

“It looks like both of us awaited the next game,