Authors Note: Hello world, first time ever posting a story online. This is a project I started a long while ago, then got hooked onto other anime and forgot about, but inspiration for it had re-ignited. Anyway, this story is very OC-centric, though the plot heavily revolves around the psycho red-head we all know and love none-the-less. It also has a slow-building start, to establish the OC's and whatnot (especially this first chapter). So beware if that's up your alley or not. I cannot make promises as to how often I update due to work and other life-obligations, but I can strive for (rough estimate) once every week or two if the story is well received.
As for the story, it takes place between the InterHigh Tournament and WinterCup Championships. I wrote it in a way so that, if one wishes, they can insert it as canon into the actual story. Despite it being very OC heavy, with Akashi being the only tie to KnB, there are loads of references to the show and many of its characters. Also, it's rated M due to some heavy language that will come in later chapters, and the...direction...the ending is planned to go. So…enjoy! (Feedback appreciated!)
TL;DR- OC heavy story, slow burn, possible erratic updates, takes place between InterHigh and WinterCup, rated M for future development.
Chapter 1- The Birthday Gala
She could see him sitting near the head of the table, denoting his importance to the host of the Gala. A graceful poise could be felt from every angle he was seen from. One couldn't help but feel he exuded an aura even superior to that of the host himself. There is a palpably enormous strength within him tamed to civility. Every action he took seethed with the confidence and precision of his own uncaring pace. Slit pupils and burning red hair decorated the chiseled features of a stone-cold expression. There was an elegance to him that was not expected of a basketball player. Akashi Seijuro was truly something else, Nakayo Hayami thought to herself.
*A few hours earlier*
Hayami's father, Nakayo Hiroshi, is a television executive for a famous network that holds many popular programs. Her mother, Nakayo Miori, is a Public Relations Spokeswoman for a fashion brand that sponsors his network, whom they advertise often in return. It was due to their successful positions that they, and their family, have received an invitation for a party to remain exclusive to Japan's elite socialites. It was to celebrate the birthday of the president and founder of a corporation owning numerous famed magazines in Japan.
Hayami's eldest sibling and sister, Yume, just graduated college, and is now an aspiring fashionista. Needless to say, she eagerly seized the opportunity to make an appearance. Kouta, the second eldest and the only son, was uninterested. Though he is in college to take over his father's position one day, he felt his talents lay elsewhere on the courts of the sports world, for which this gala held no significance to. If it wasn't for the sake of his father keeping up both an image and connections, he inevitably would not have agreed. Hayami is still in high school, pursuing various forms of dancing, especially classical ballet, as a professional hobby. She herself had neither benefits nor pressures upon her to go, but was more than willing to dance for fun and have a good time.
As Hiroshi berated Kouta for being stubborn and conceited, Hayami ignored the banter she was used to overhearing and asked Yume if she had a dress she could borrow. She wound up donning a unique outfit newly created, yet-to-be seen by the public. It was a sleeveless ballroom dress that shimmered brilliantly in the bright lights of her bedrooms vanity mirror. The center of the dress over Hayami's breast, abdomen and backside was white with imitation diamonds decorating the area. The white center softly blended into the golden fabric of the rest of the dress with sequins of gold glittering like light flashing over a cove of treasure. Yume slipped a pair of white opera gloves over her little sister's pale arms, then exclaimed "Annnd…DONE!" with a playful spank on Hayami's behind.
She gasped in both surprise and slight pain at her older sisters teasing, but soon stood stunned, staring in the mirror, marveling at how beautiful she looked even while holding her butt. She traced her body up with her eyes from the loose hem of her dress, seeing it tightening to hug her athletic figure in a style of provocative modesty, leading all the way to her sunlit tangerine hair styled with elegant curls. Finally meeting her own gaze, she drew in a deep breath as she peered into her own crystalline amber irises. The sequins and imitation diamonds reflected in her eyes and sparkled like a dazzling display of white-golden fireworks. Her heart bubbled with excitement so uncontainable that she began hopping up and down while happily squealing. She wanted to run outside and dance before the whole world. Yume just stood behind her and smiled proudly.
"With my help, Hayami-chan…" She embraced her little sister from behind with a hug to settle her down. "Let's find you a strapping, popular young man that'll make the night extra exciting. Nothing less for my star sibling!"
"Eh?! Err…" Hayami blushed, suddenly becoming shy at her unasked assistance for a male suitor.
"Yo! You know my team and I made the news the other week, right?" Kouta could be heard from the living room.
"You threw a ball into a circle, Kouta! It's hardly different from that preschool toy where you put shapes into holes!" Yume shot back, knowingly riling her younger brother up.
"HUH!? Hold up, now you listen to me…" The two sisters giggled as Kouta arrogantly tried to defend the honor of basketball, despite neither of them caring strongly for sports.
Once the Nakayo family arrived, Hayami knew she was in for quite a night. The entrance to the banquet hall gave a feeling of modern day royalty, as if Kings and Queens still existed. As soon as she and her sister stepped out, the valet and the banquet staff, initially greeting everyone, all halted what they had each been doing and turned towards the beautiful duo. Hayami bashfully locked arms with her sister as they walked into the hall. The stunning visuals and graceful atmosphere reflected the high level of creative talent that had been hired to design the room. The Nakayo sisters felt themselves become breathless at the mere sight of it all, feeling absolutely honored to have been invited to this place.
The first hour was unexpectedly overwhelming, to say the least, for Hayami. She was being passed back and forth between Yume and her parents for several introductions to strangers. The delighted reactions she received from each person were intense, but it just caused her to blush happily at the positive attention. Meanwhile, she couldn't help but compare which guys she found most interesting or attractive. She had no serious intentions behind doing it, until she found herself especially fond of one boy her age named Fujimaki Tenshin.
He was proudly introduced as the "to-be valedictorian" by his doting parents. The two smiled at each other, seeing instantly that they were both in similar positions being passed around and shown off. However, as with Hayami herself, it certainly was not unwarranted. Along with his academic achievements, he had a lean build and a models face with lively blue eyes, one covered by strands of his platinum hair, all topped off with a killer smile. Even Yume gave her a suggestive nudge at the sight of him.
The screech of a microphone adjusting itself pierced through every single conversation from a series of overhead speakers, followed by an apologetic voice. All the attendants were called to sit at the tables each family was assigned to and, in Hayami's case, feign interest in the birthday man's speech. She looked back at Tenshin and smiled while waving bye, hopefully conveying her liking of him so he felt welcome to come find her after the tedium. She would find out soon enough that it worked. While gazing out into the crowd mindlessly during the speech, she just happened to make eye contact with Tenshin. It was obvious he had been checking her out. Though rather than blushing and turning away, he replied to being caught with a humble but confident smile. Hayami felt herself blush at his boldness, seeing no fear in him admitting he found her beautiful. 'A keeper' as Yume would call it.
Through small, silent gestures they joked with each other from across the room. At one point, Tenshin pretended to nod off while pointing at the birthday man, and faked dropping his head. He smacked the table to make it seem like he face-planted hard, but the echo of his antics startled numerous people at surrounding tables. It earned him a whack across his head from his mother behind him. Hayami clutched her hand over her mouth to stifle her laughter as best as she could while her own family turned to her with questioning looks. They shared one last distant glance with a grin before surrendering themselves to the boredom they tried to escape. At long last, the speech had seemed to finally reach its end, until….
"Ah, but before we start our dinner tonight…"
'Aaaaawwwww!' Hayami groaned in her head.
"I would like to offer a grand congratulations to a prestigious young man, whom I've had the pleasure of knowing since he was but a child. This young man leads a team of high school sportsman, all with promising futures, and had recently competed in the InterHigh Basketball Championships. He is the first freshman in his school's history to have ever been designated the captain of their unconquered team, and he now carries the legacy of Rakuzan High on his shoulders. I dare say in this moment, that they could not have made a better choice. Congratulations on your victory, Akashi Seijuro!"
A mighty round of applause roared through the room. At the same time, someone stood up from a faraway table, faced the sitting crowds, and responded to their applause with a bow. It was a high school boy of similar age to Hayami. He wore a black vest over a white blouse with pants just as dark. His ivory skin accentuated his ruby-soaked hair and, from the distance Hayami sat at, it looked as if his eyes were of two different colors. Amidst the joyous praise, Hayami could hear her older brother, sitting next to her, scoff at the acknowledgement.
"Tch! He didn't even play…" He muttered with a condescending laugh.
"What?" Hayami blinked in surprise. "Why? How did he win then?"
"He didn't." Kouta replied, putting extra emphasis on the word he. "He's a first-year who was made captain cuz his daddy probably bought the position for him, and now all he has to do is sit back while the 2nd and 3rd years on his team do the same hard work they've been putting in longer than he has…and now look who gets all the praise and glory!"
The Akashi family is a well-known one in the world of business elites, both in Japan and internationally. Therefore, Hayami would not have been surprised if the distinguished praise was due to his prestige and status as their heir, rather than the merit of his on-court efforts. Despite having little interest in sports, the fact is her brother is the captain of a renowned college team himself. She had to admit he carried a good weight of credibility in his remarks. She knew nothing of Akashi's skills or how difficult a high school championship could be, so she had nothing to go on to disbelieve his assertion. Except that, once the attention had been actually drawn to Akashi, she found herself unable to refuse the nagging urge to glance at him repeatedly.
Each time she would take in a little more of his presence from afar. Though it's common among the rich classes to meaninglessly praise each other for the validation of being complimented by their elite peers…something genuine about this boy stood out. It was intimidating and demanded respect without asking for it. She acquiesced in that the hosts acclaim may have just been superficial back-patting after all. Deep down though, she had a gut feeling that Akashi plays a more significant role than just a rich pretty-boy on a popular team. The aura around him left no room for doubt in that.
Once the waiters cleared the tables, a dance area was opened up with a live orchestra set up on the stage where the speech was given. What had started with an older crowd quickly morphed into a younger audience as song requests poured in. The orchestra gladly showed off what they were made of when they started playing pop songs in symphonic rendition. Hayami lit up with delight and cheered as loud as she could internally. It was the point of the night she had been waiting for since arriving, and these were her favorite types of songs. She maneuvered her way through people to the edge of the dancefloor in hopes of finding Tenshin. That is until an unfamiliar voice caught her off guard, speaking to her in such an oddly casual tone.
"This is the happiest I've seen you all night, Senpai"
Hayami turned to find a boy with a young face indicative of his age being a few years younger than her, yet towering high over herself. The more she looked up at him, the more she started to recognize him. It had been over a year since she's last seen him, so he had grown quite a bit, with a man starting to fill out his boyish features. When it had finally hit her, the hopes she had for finding Tenshin were temporarily pushed aside as she wrapped her arms around the tall young man.
"TAKUMI-CHAN! My little dance partner!"
The large boy blushed brightly at Hayami's sudden forwardness.
"Uh, hmm…I-it's good to see you again too, Hayami-senpai" He clumsily embraced her, embarrassed to express how happy he was to hold her as well.
"Ah, Akiyama-kun, you've grown up!" Hiroshi commented, unintentionally startling Takumi's hands off his daughter. "Last I remember seeing you, you were barely taller than Hayami's chest."
"Uh, um…but, …I…you saw me last year…" Takumi pointed out.
Hiroshi stood awkwardly, realizing his memory was totally off, then smiled and reached up to rub Takumi's head.
"Oh, yes, yes. But those days stand out more to me because you were both so cute. You were embarrassed when your parents bragged about how well you could dance, but Hayami encouraged you to dance with her and ever since then, you and her have been dancing at every party you meet, right?"
"Yup! My little admirer, always looking up to me. Even to this day, he still calls me senpai!" Hayami clapped her hands together happily. "Oh, but you're not so little anymore, are you? Well, to me, you'll always be my little dance partner!"
Takumi's face burned red at this, but managed to catch himself from stuttering any further. He mustered up his confidence, then leapt up into the air to do a fluidly flawless jump-and-spin that led into a graceful kneel. He extended his hand toward hers and raised an eyebrow in a challenging manner.
"So then, Hayami-senpai…shall we show them how it's done?"
His extravagant move had drew the attention of people around them and everyone looked on with anticipation. 'Who is this young man that could dance so well? And just who is that beautiful girl in the golden dress whose hand he asked for?' Hayami could feel questions like these being asked just from their looks, and decided to answer them all.
"Only if you can keep up, Takumi-chan."
She accepted his hand and allowed him to lead her into the dancing crowd, catching all but a glimpse of the smile he tried to hide from her.
'I hope his boyish grin will never change' She thought to herself.
A few minutes in and it became clear that Takumi had improved much since their last dance. They would glide and spin in unison to the music, and Hayami would feel even more eyes turn onto them. Deep inside, she was hoping that Tenshin could see her and was watching, wishing to impress the model-faced, "to-be" valedictorian. Compliments of her beauty and refinement echoed in whispers around her. This was her forte after all, and she was going to shine in it.
"I see you've gotten better, Takumi-chan"
"Oooh, you haven't seen nuthin' yet." He replied with a childish smile again.
Years of tiring effort and sweaty practice were awarded once again with applauds from the surrounding crowd. She was happy that Takumi could match her ever-increasing vigor. In the flash of a moment, she recognized the heart-throbbing smile underneath a set of blue eyes and platinum hair facing her in admiration. To this she could feel a smile helplessly break apart the professional façade she was so used to keeping.
"Glad I can keep up? I never forgot how much you reeeally love dancing!"
She looked up at him and giggled in response, feeling as if her soul itself was sparkling with light. Using his height to his advantage, he held her hand above her head and allowed her to do one of her famous ballet twirls. The faces around them blurred into an inseparable wall of eyes and mouths, all glued to the dancing pair in awe and gasping in amazement. However, in the middle of her spin, amidst the blurry faces, one face stood out from the rest in stark contrast. Their eyes met by chance, through a break in the crowd, but his demanding presence snapped her focus to him. Time was forced to slow down and move at his own pace, as with everything else he graced with his attention. His mouth betrayed no hints of thoughts or emotions, and his bi-colored eyes held a gaze too overwhelming to read. She was caught off guard by the split-second exchange and lost her balance while on the ball of her foot.
With a quick shriek she slipped out of Takumi's hands and fell onto the floor, much to her embarrassment. Takumi knelt immediately to assist her up while everyone gathered closer in concern. The blood rushing to Hayami's cheeks boiled at a searing temperature with all these people closing in.
"A-are you ok Hayami!?" He asked in a panic, forgetting the formality of senpai, as she was finally brought to her feet.
"Yes, I'm fine" She assured him, seeing him anxiously taking the blame for her fall. She wanted to reassure him, but got distracted though when an older woman placed her hand on her shoulder.
"My dear, you were dancing so beautifully! But on that last spin your body moved faster than your head. What were you looking at?"
"I…uh…" The burning in her cheeks, a clear indicator of her awkwardness, now exploded across her face.
'Something distracted me…say that! But what? What distracted me?' Hayami quickly scanned her surroundings mid-thought. 'What could have possibly distracted me!?' She panicked in her head. 'No way am I gonna tell them that looking at Akashi made me fall! It's so embarrass-'
Just then, the voice of her brother peaked above all other conversations for a moment, and conveniently was located in the area her balance-losing glance was directed.
"My brother…distracted me. I…I thought he was making fun of me." She stated clearly but with poor certainty, covering her stutters with seemingly intentional pauses.
The elder couples around her chuckled light-heartedly and seemed to return to their business. She sighed and looked up at Takumi, only to meet a worried gaze.
"I'm sooo sorry, Hayami-senpai! I didn't mean to drop you like that!" He immediately apologized with his hands clasped together, praying for forgiveness.
"Takumi-chan, you did nothing wrong. It was all me…" She cringed with shame when she admitted that out loud. "I assure you, you were doing just fine."
His look of shock finally melted into an empathetic laughter.
"Ok, ok. I get it" He agreed. "Let me get you a drink. You must be thirsty after all that."
Hayami's mind was too scattered to deny his offer so she gave a small nod in return. She exhaled and turned around to where her brother was. He was surrounded by people of college and high school ages, plus a few adults. Definitely all fans of basketball. Just as she enjoyed to show off and be recognized for her dancing, Kouta enjoyed basking in the recognition of his basketball skills…though unlike Hayami, he had no shame in his overconfident gloating. Unfortunately, with the long line of victories and trophies he has worked for since childhood, his over-confidence isn't undeserved, making his ego even harder to tame. As she stared in his direction, the topic of their conversation reached her ears. As if it just wouldn't leave her alone.
"It wouldn't be fair" She could hear Kouta brag. "Akashi-kun is a first year in high school. Yes they call him a prodigy, but that kind of status is relative. If a child can effortlessly run 100 yards in record time, is he not a prodigy among all children athletes throughout Japan? Yet how well do you suppose that child will fair against a talented man who has been doing the same thing but much longer? It would be utterly unfair! Perhaps one day, in decades to come, the young Akashi heir will surpass me…but it is wishful foolishness to think that he stands a chance against a more experienced player. And I'm considering whatever record he's achieved."
Although most of his listeners agreed with him, at least outwardly, Hayami rolled her eyes in response. This was a braggart's tirade she had heard many times over the years. To him, anyone could be beaten if the right cards were played. Since childhood, he would watch professional NBA matches from America and develop theoretical strategies he would implement to defeat even the most highly regarded players. After years of inflating his ego from the praise of his methods for victory, he developed a superiority complex which amounts to: "If you breathe and walk the same way I do, then I know I can beat you."
Even in the event of a loss he endured, he always had a limitless pool of excuses to pull from. Whatever was needed to fool himself into maintaining his supreme status, in his own mind, he was sure to have. It was the drive behind this mentality that landed him the position of Captain, after all. Unfortunately, it made him arrogant and even discouraging to younger players whom he subconsciously deemed as potential threats to himself. As if he couldn't handle the fact that some people may be born with talents greater than his own skills. Hayami herself wasn't even sure when this hard reality of life became one he weasels around with a steel-hard conviction.
Once Kouta was finished with his speech, he turned his head to a specific area, followed by the rest of his fans. She followed their eyes too and, sure enough, there was Akashi. He was standing with his father as the birthday man spoke to them both. Though his back was almost fully turned, the edge of a smile was visible from the angle which she looked at him. His father put a hand on his son's shoulder and made a remark, presumably an expression of pride. The host followed by placing his hands under Akashi's jawline and tilted his head upwards like he was inspecting the face of a DaVinci sculpture. When Akashi spoke, despite the distance between them, she could still feel the palpable confidence drip off the visible corner of his mouth. The effects of such strong qualities bared up close were as clear as day on the birthday hosts face. He was so impressed with the young man that he found himself helplessly chuckling in subconscious futility.
"My my, Akashi-kun is quite the talk of the town, eh?" Hayami overheard a ladies familiar voice, the one that asked what made her fall. She turned to see that it was her mother the lady was conversing with. A simple thought popped into her mind, and before she had a chance to question why she cared, her mouth moved on its own.
"Um…" She spoke up, getting the attention of the lady and Miori. 'No turning back now.' "Are the Akashi family related to the host?"
"No, but I do know that he is an enthusiastic sponsor of the Akashi business. That is why they were sat so close to him." She explained.
"Is that so?" Hayami replied with an empty air to her voice. 'Seriously, why am I so curious about it?'
"I do believe he's single!" The ladies voice brought Hayami back to the present.
"Huh?" Her words sunk in. "No…" and she blushed again. "I wasn't…"
Hayami stuttered nervously as the lady lowered herself eye level with a mischievous smirk. Miori just laughed as the lady teased her, but it helped Hayami brush it off.
"It's not like that, really Miss. But…" She thought carefully before picking her words. "Don't you think there's something rather mysterious about Akashi-kun?"
"Heterochromia Iridum." She answered.
"Huh?" Hayami had not the slightest idea of what the heck she said.
"It is a harmless condition where a person has two separately colored eyes."
Hayami wanted to roll hers in reply.
"That's….not what I meant." She mumbled, slightly irritated.
Seeing that she wasn't going to change this ladies conviction, she decided to bail altogether.
"Well, I'm going to find Taku…I mean, Akiyama-kun. He's probably waiting for me with my drink." She said this, but her true intentions were to break away from the crowded area and look for Tenshin.
The lady suddenly perked her head up and looked intently in another direction. Just as Hayami was going to use that moment to sneak away, a thrilling smile lit up her face, immediately covered by her hand in disbelief. Miori did the same thing too. Hayami curiously held her position, until she heard Yume's distinct voice cheerfully call her out with her infamous playful tone.
"Hayami-chan! There is a lovely young man here who would love to meet your acquaintance!"