strangers in a crowd
falling from your hand
blankets and paperwork
melody carries on
blisters and threadbare shoes
whisper of devotion
It’s early afternoon when she shows up, and he’s not sure why that seems odd to him.
Not sure why it feels like she ought to have showed up in the middle of the night. Broken down his door, flashing green lights and danger in her hands.
It’s weird to see her in the light of day, even though that’s how they met last time.
Last time she wasn’t wearing a suit and tie, lethal as a bullet
He feels underdressed in his street ball clothes.
pressure against my skull
squeezing ideas into diamonds,
ruthless bitter pills of starlight
scraping inside my throat,
swallowed down gasps
along with every little fear,
hidden beneath my skin
a map of the far flung exit.
“Congratulations,” says lightning bolt in green ink, “on Seirin’s victory, Kuroko-san,” the smile on her face as sharp and well-crafted as the suit she wears.
This is not the girl who bought a stranger a vanilla milkshake as an apology while scarfing down a sandwich and chips heedlessly. This is not the girl who told him he was too trusting, told him to beware treading into stormy waters.
This is the girl whose parlor trick can slice through metal. The girl who didn’t deny homicide as a possible–and even feasible–method of secret keeping.
The girl who could see him in a crowd when nobody else could.
A crest and a uniform and a girl who can do impossible things.
Just because they’re only meeting again now doesn’t mean that she and the others–the ones she needed to consult with, the ones who had sent her on a job in the first place–hadn’t been keeping tabs on him the entire time.
His life is not a mystery to them.
It’s not as much of a surprise as he thought it would be.
“Thank you,” he says, “It’s nice to see you again.”
The smile he gets this time is truer, but no less sharp, “You too.”
footprints in the dirt
candle at the crossroads
the devil appears
can’t trade away
what’s no longer yours
stained glass hopes
prayer books in the pews
no rest for the wicked
They go back to his house, same as before, two cups of tea.
She does not need to look around and observe the details of his life.
She already knows.
“I’ll be honest. I’m not sure why you’ve contacted me,” she says. “You’re not in any trouble, and there are plenty of people who can see you now.”
You’re not that desperate, lonely boy anymore, she doesn’t say.
They watch the steam rise from their cups, silent.
“Do you play basketball?” he asks, finally, after the lull has passed.
She shakes her head, “My choice of extracurricular activities were more individual than that. Archery and aikido,” she explains.
“Were?” he repeats.
Her mouth tightens for a moment, “I have other obligations now,” she says, and it doesn’t take a genius to understand what she’s referring to.
“I love basketball,” he says, like it’s torn out of him, like a confession, “but I don’t have a future there.”
Not like his former teammates, not like Kagami-kun. The only edges he had in games were determination and misdirection. Neither of them can sustain a career in basketball.
“Why did you ask me to meet you?” she asks, already beginning to piece it together.
He has no future in basketball. But that doesn’t mean he has no future elsewhere.
He looks at her: suit and obligations, green ink on ivory card stock.
There’s a future there, even if he’s not sure he wants it.