Chapter 6:

Chapter 6 - Game

Blondie (On Hiatus)

Ayame kept her back pressed against the bedroom door as she waited for Kuroo to leave, her hands clutching at her hair as what had happened the previous night filled her thoughts. Her heart seemed to quicken, blood rushing and boiling beneath her skin.Bookmark here

She counted and took deep breaths in and out, her chest slowly starting to fall back into a normal rhythm.Bookmark here

Trying to keep calm, she slowly began to stand, her legs wobbling. Approaching her dresser, she gathered an armful of clothes, glad she had left them there a previous time. Picking them up, she shimmied her way out the room and towards the bathroom, wanting to wash off last night's cold sweat and nightmares.Bookmark here

Ayame slipped off the hoodie Kenma had lent her, grimacing as she accidentally pulled at the bandages on her arms. The blonde stared at her reflection in the mirror, her tangled hair and dried tearstains staring right back.Bookmark here

"Did last night really happen?" She silently questioned as she turned on the water, despite fully recalling the interaction she had with the bed-headed captain.Bookmark here

Why did she have to have that awful dream last night? Now Kuroo would ask more questions- how would she handle them?Bookmark here

Rubbing the dark circles under her eyes, she finally got into the shower, washing away any grime and regrets under the warm water. Bookmark here

The girl eventually emerged from the shower, clean and refreshed. Pulling off the now-damp bandages plastering her skin, she dumped them into the trash bin before drying off, barely touching the towel to where she was injured.Bookmark here

Her stomach growled as she finally finished getting her clothes on- a simple pair of jeans with an oversized shirt tucked in, rather nice for a crisp spring day. Opening the door of the steaming bathroom, she walked out into the hallway before descending downstairs.Bookmark here

During her descent, she was alarmed to suddenly hear Kuroo's frustrated yell from the living room- something she had yet to hear from him. His hazel eyes were narrowed at the TV screen as he mashed the buttons of his controller, his knuckles pale from his intense grip on it. On the couch, Kenma sat beside him as stoically as ever, clearly winning whatever game they were playing.Bookmark here

Walking past them and into the kitchen to find something to eat, Ayame opened the fridge and spotted a plate of food. It was simply rice and an egg, with a small bowl of lettuce and miso soup from the night before. Her name was scribbled on a piece of paper next to the dishes.Bookmark here

Taking the dishes out, the girl heated up her meal before occupying a seat at the dining table, which gave her a perfect view of the two boys playing Mortal Kombat- Kuroo as Liu Kang and Kenma as Raiden- nothing new for the latter.Bookmark here

Using her chopsticks to stab the egg into the rice, she mixed it in and prayed before beginning to eat, watching the at-home entertainment unfold in front of her. Bookmark here

Kuroo muttered a curse, annoyed as the large K.O. appeared onscreen. A nearly unnoticeable smirk laced the other boy's lips- a rare sight.Bookmark here

“Okay Kenma, let's go again! But pick someone else this time!”Bookmark here

He simply complied, Scorpion appearing on his side of the screen as Kuroo selected Sub-Zero. Ayame curiously and intently watched, stuffing food into her mouth. Swallowing, she then lifted the bowl to drink the miso soup. The bashing of fists and spraying of blood was audible from the living room.Bookmark here

Kuroo suddenly sprang up from the couch and onto his feet, as if standing would help him win. Against all odds, the hits he landed allowed him to win the first round. Kenma didn’t seem to take the loss well, not even giving Kuroo the chance to block his rampaging attacks of round two.Bookmark here

“Damn..!” He muttered, button-mashing again.Bookmark here

"You know, you shouldn’t do it like that. He'll just crush you.”Bookmark here

"When did you get here, Aya-chan?!" He looked back at her for just a second, before realizing that he had given Kenma an opening to attack.Bookmark here

"K.O. Flawless victory." The announcer said.Bookmark here

Ayame shook her head at this, getting up to take her dishes to the kitchen. Washing them and putting them on the rack to dry, she returned to the living room, sitting next to Kenma, who remained calm and collected throughout the match. Bookmark here

The third round had become pretty heated as Kuroo leaned forward, concentrating and about to close in on a victory, but Kenma suddenly unleashed his special attack on Sub-Zero. K.O. flashed across the screen once more, causing the older boy to let out a defeated groan. The girl snorted, which she quickly covered with a cough.Bookmark here

“That’s it, I've had enough...” Kuroo tossed the controller onto the coffee table, falling back against the couch with a defeated sigh. Bookmark here

In one quick movement, the girl swiped it, getting comfortable and ready to show off her own skills. Kenma’s body seemed to stiffen, his back straightening as he prepared for the competition. Kuroo noticed the change, his catlike eyes darting between the two blondes. Kenma was always relaxed, if not a little careless, when they gamed together. Bookmark here

"Now watch and learn, rooster.” Ayame smirked, leaning forward. Bookmark here

They returned to the character selection screen, with Kenma locking onto Raiden once more. Ayame was quick to move to Sonya, selecting her. Randomizing the battle grounds, the game soon began.Bookmark here

"Round one- FIGHT!” The announcer boomed. Kuroo watched as his friend's jaw clenched, the two pressing buttons with precision and impact. Ayame's eyes held a determined glow as she brawled.Bookmark here

Sonya Blade, the military operative with blonde hair that resembled her own, was one of the only characters without powers, only relying on her own strength- something she seemed to admire. The girl had often struggled to fight back, but in a video game, she seemed to be able to do it without fear nor hesitation.Bookmark here

It was freeing.Bookmark here

Kenma was now the one starting to button mash, his commitment to win evident as the girl continued to beat Raiden down, never letting him land a hit on her fighter. The energy in her power bar quickly increased, allowing her to use her ultimate move and defeat Kenma with a flawless victory. Bookmark here

"Sonya wins.” Bookmark here

Ayame's arms excitedly went up in the air, a huge grin on her face. Kenma huffed a bit, bringing his controller closer to his curled up body. Kuroo, who was now invested in the game, continued to watch as it progressed.Bookmark here

"Round two- FIGHT!” Bookmark here

Kenma narrowed his eyes as Ayame's character started to advance on him, throwing kicks and punches his way.Bookmark here

"You've got this, Aya-chan!" Kuroo cheered her on.Bookmark here

"You're supposed to be rooting for me..." Kenma muttered quietly.Bookmark here

Shaking her head with warmth stinging her cheeks, Ayame continued the fight of intense skill, and soon defeated Raiden.Bookmark here

"Sonya wins.” Bookmark here

Kenma had lost- a rather confusing and rare occasion. Bookmark here

"Nice job beating him." Kuroo smiled slyly. "Kenma tends to lose sight of his surroundings when he's fired up."Bookmark here

"I wasn't fired up..." The boy seemed annoyed, scowling up at him before turning his face away.Bookmark here

"Yes you were."Bookmark here

"Was not..."Bookmark here

"Were too."Bookmark here

"Was not..."Bookmark here

Laughing, Ayame dropped her controller, wrapping an arm around his shoulder.Bookmark here

"Aw Kenma, don’t be like that. It’s just a game~” She teased, the boy only pushing her arm away as she giggled.Bookmark here

It was then that a lightbulb seemed to appear above Kuroo's deformed hair. Bookmark here

"Speaking of games, let’s go outside." The older boy got to his feet, ignoring Kenma's reluctant facial expression. "We can practice doing sets in the park." Bookmark here

He turned to Ayame.Bookmark here

"You should come with us too. You look like you need the fresh air.”Bookmark here

His concern seemed almost genuine to her. The girl nodded slightly, standing up and stretching her arms. Bookmark here

"I could probably get some drawing done, so I guess I will."Bookmark here

Something then dawned on her.Bookmark here

"I don't have my sketchbook with me.”Bookmark here

"There's one in your room somewhere.” Kenma spoke, looking up at the girl.Bookmark here

"Really? I don't remember leaving one, but I'll look.” She walked away and headed upstairs, pulling up her jeans in the process.Bookmark here

Kuroo watched her retreating form, getting kicked in the back of the knee when Kenma noticed. The taller male stumbled but caught himself, glaring down at him.Bookmark here

"Idiot.” The blond stared at the TV screen, pretending to be innocent.Bookmark here

"Am not!"Bookmark here

"Are too."Bookmark here

"Am not!"Bookmark here

"Are too."Bookmark here

Once upstairs and in the guest bedroom, Ayame began to search for the sketchbook Kenma had spoke of. Opening the drawer of the bedside table, she found a small multimedia sketchbook. Next to it was a mechanical pencil and eraser.Bookmark here

When she opened the cover, Ayame saw her name neatly written in kanji, along with a short note.Bookmark here

"Let your creativity bloom as much as you do."Bookmark here

Ayame ran her fingers over it and smiled, recognizing the handwriting. The girl hugged the sketchbook to her chest, before hopping downstairs, the pencil and eraser tucked into her pocket. Bookmark here

She’d have to thank Mrs. Kozume later.Bookmark here

Kuroo and Kenma were waiting by the door for her, wearing sneakers. A volleyball was tucked under the taller boy's arm, the other holding his phone.Bookmark here

Ignoring Kuroo, she excitedly bounced up to Kenma, shoving the note in his face.Bookmark here

"Look! Your mom’s so nice, I love her!" Bookmark here

"I'm glad you like it..." Kenma allowed a small smile to show on his stoic face. It made him glad that she had some sort of maternal figure in her life, even if it was just his own mother. Bookmark here

"Let us be off then, my loyal companions.” Kuroo opened the front door, heading outside.Bookmark here

Ayame rolled her eyes, slipping on her shoes and following him out of the house, annoyed that he had ruined the mood. Bookmark here

Why couldn't life be as simple as a game?Bookmark here

In her garden across the street, Kuroo's mother saw the trio leave together. The older woman crossed her arms, leaning against the gate. For a moment, she watched with a smile on her face. Bookmark here

With his eyes glued to the game he was playing on his phone, Kenma didn't seem to pay much attention to his surroundings as they walked to the nearby park. He suddenly let out a huff of surprise as a pair of younger kids ran into him- a boy and girl.Bookmark here

"Watch where you're going, Kenma!" Ayame scolded. "I told you that you'd crash into something one day!"Bookmark here

"They ran into me." Kenma retorted monotonously.Bookmark here

"S-Sorry! We're re-really s-sorry!" The two frantically apologized, crying and clutching the other's hand. Bookmark here

Shooting him a glare, Ayame was quick to shove her sketchbook into Kenma's arms, startling and confusing the blond as she bent to the children's level.Bookmark here

"Hey, are you two lost?” She asked in a soft voice.Bookmark here

The boy nodded, furiously wiping his eyes. Bookmark here

“W-We lost Papa and-and-!“ He hiccupped, the little girl in a similar state of distress.Bookmark here

"Take deep breaths." Ayame instructed, shushing them gently.Bookmark here

The two males behind her watched curiously. Kenma seemed uncomfortable, just standing there and staring. Shaking his head, Kuroo decided to intervene, handing the ball to Kenma as he approached the children.Bookmark here

"What am I? A bag?" The blond thought, tucking the volleyball under his arm. Bookmark here

"We’ll help you find your dad.” Kuroo stepped forward to assure them. Bookmark here

"Th-Thank you..." The two tried to smile up at them. Bookmark here

Ayame turned back to the siblings, wanting to help them relax a little.Bookmark here

“What are your names and how old are you?” Bookmark here

“Mimi, four...” She quietly spoke up first, holding up her fingers to show her age.Bookmark here

"And I’m Kazusa, I-I’m seven.” Her brother rubbed away tears from his eyes. Bookmark here

"Let's go find your papa, Kazusa." Ayame reached down to take the boy's hand, leading the way. The little girl was eager to hold Kuroo's hand, following them. Kenma lagged behind, glancing up from his phone to see them resembling a young family.Bookmark here

He opened his camera app, snapping a picture for future blackmail use. The others didn't seem to notice the click as he followed them.Bookmark here

The two young siblings finally seemed to calm down, ceasing their crying. Ayame made mild conversation with the boy, who had increasingly come out of his shell around her. Kuroo glanced down at the shy and quiet little girl, giving her a gentle smile. Bookmark here

They made it deeper into the park, where the two children seemed happy again. With how large it was, the little ones still couldn’t see where their father was. Kenma had seemingly vanished, finding a seat on a bench.Bookmark here

Kuroo disconnected his hand from the little girl. Ayame was confused by this as he turned to Kazusa.Bookmark here

“C'mere, kid.”Bookmark here

The boy obeyed, letting go of her hand approaching Kuroo. The male bent to pick up Mimi, placing her on his shoulders. With his other arm, he lifted Kazusa up.Bookmark here

“Wheeee! Uppy-up!” The little girl giggled, grabbing onto Kuroo's hair, making him wince and Ayame giggle. The endearing scene caused her heart to skip a beat, as she found it quite cute.Bookmark here

Wait, what was she thinking? Shaking her head, she discarded the thought.Bookmark here

"There he is! Papa!” The boy suddenly shouted, pointing in his direction. He wiggled out of Kuroo's grip, running off before he could even react.Bookmark here

"Hey, wait!” Kuroo held onto Mimi and quickly followed, with Ayame not far behind.Bookmark here

"Papa!" Kazusa had grabbed on a man's arm, tugging it and laughing, telling him of his adventure with his sister.Bookmark here

"We got lost, but these nice people found us! I protected Mimi like you said, and the tall man picked us up really high!"Bookmark here

"Oh really now?"Bookmark here

Kuroo then set the little girl down, who ran to her father. Ayame stood a bit behind Kuroo, but the little kids soon grabbed her arms to pull her front and center.Bookmark here

"Thank you!" They said in unison. She smiled, ruffling their hair. Bookmark here

“I’m just glad I could help two adorable little things like you.” Bookmark here

“They are adorable, aren’t they?” Their father turned to her. His low voice caused her to go rigid, locking her in place. A stunned look of recognition briefly flashed across his face.Bookmark here

Ayame slowly met his dark eyes. They were those of a monster, just as they were all those years ago.Bookmark here

“You...” She breathed, her heart pounding.Bookmark here

”Why hello, little miss Ayame-chan. It’s been so long!”Bookmark here

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