Hey guys! Sorry for the enormous wait in between chapters but school is a killer :( good news is that this is going to be the last chapter of this series!
There have been some people on tumblr who have requested a spin-off story of imahanakuro as a separate oneshot of something of the like. What do you guys think? Would you like to read something like that?
Anyhow, without further ado, here is the final chapter!
Don't forget to tell me what you thought! :)
Akashi was getting ready to murder, that much was clear. All the people gathered in the living room gradually inched away from where the redhead was sat, sending a mix of pitying and amused glances to the two responsible for the pie still covering Akashi's face, neck and collar.
All but Kuroko.
The bluenette sighed, untied his apron, grabbed a handful of paper towels and handed them to Akashi to clean himself off, offering an apologetic glance to the redhead before he turned to Kise and Hara with a stern look.
"Kazuya-kun." he started, and Hara appeared to shrink in on himself at the icy tone. "What did I say would happen if you continued fighting over the pie with Kise-kun?" he asked calmly.
"Yousaiditwouldgoflying." Hara mumbled, head turned away from Kuroko, appearing to be intently studying the wallpaper.
"Pardon?" Kuroko pressed, though the Miracles and Seirin were willing to bet he'd heard the teen perfectly. Hara seemed to be aware of that too, for he pouted petulantly, but then, to the surprise of nearly everyone gathered - save for the old Kirisaki Daiichi team - repeated, a lot clearer.
"You said it would go flying, Tet-chan." he said, seemingly out of his funk when he realised the bluenette wasn't actually angry with him.
"Indeed, Kazuya-kun. But you continued nonetheless and it went all over Akashi-kun. So, what could you do to make up for it?" he asked amiably, as if he were talking about the weather.
"I could... clean up the mess?" Hara offered, grin not fading.
"Mmhm." Kuroko hummed noncommittally. "And?" he inquired.
"Finish making dinner?" the lilac haired teen added, tone more questioning than before. Kuroko nodded, but he still looked like he was expecting something more, and Hara sighed, pouted and grumbled a little to himself but continued nonetheless. "And... I could maybe apologise to carrot-boy over there." he said grumpily, pointing at Akashi, but his funk disappeared when Kuroko grinned at him and beckoned him over. He bounded over to the petit bluenette and bent down easily, as if this were a familiar routine. To everyone's surprise, Kuroko stood on his tiptoes and planted a kiss on Hara's cheek, all his previous iciness gone as if it was never there to begin with.
"Please do just that, Kazuya-kun." he acquiesced, smiling fondly at the lilac haired man. "But perhaps in reverse order, if you don't mind." Hara saluted, dropped a ridiculously loud and wet kiss on Kuroko's cheek, then sauntered over to Akashi to pull off the most ridiculous curtsey Kuroko had ever seen, but he just laughed before he turned to Kise, his stern expression back in place.
"Kise-kun," he addressed the blond, but his words seemed to unlock a dam in the copycat and words started pouring out of him at an alarming velocity.
"I'm so sorry Kurokocchi I didn't mean to it slipped out of my hands and that guy just let it go like he was doing it intentionally and Akashicchi is going to kill me -!"
"Kise-kun." Kuroko cut the blond off, though his voice was even as always, and the corner of his lips was slightly raised as if he found the situation amusing. "Stop worrying. I'm assuming you heard everything I said to Kazuya-kun?"
Kuroko's words seemed to work like a balm on Kise's frayed nerves, and he nodded obediently at the question.
"Good," Kuroko observed, allowing a tiny smile to surface. "then I'd like you to apologise to Akashi-kun, then clean up a little while Kazuya-kun finishes the dinner, and help him wash up while I go get Akashi-kun a spare shirt. Can you do that?" Kuroko's tone was gentle the whole time, his voice never raising above a pleasant decibel, yet his words sounded less like a query and more like an order, a notion which was only strengthened by Kise absentmindedly nodding along to the bluenette's every word then moving to exact them the second he finished.
Appearing not to notice that everyone's gazes were once again on him, Kuroko beckoned to Akashi and instructed him to follow him upstairs to try and find a shirt which would fit him. The second the two disappeared upstairs, the old Seirin team and the Miracles rounded on Hanamiya and his team, demanding explanations.
"Wanna explain how Tetsu just manage to singlehandedly prevent a double-homicide?" Aomine asked casually, lounging in the armchair though his eyes kept flickering from one Kirisaki member to another, a light frown pulling at his brows.
But Hanamiya just smirked while Seto and Yamazaki openly laughed. "He's been dating Makoto and having regular shogi games with Imayoshi for the last two years and you're wondering how he got the two idiots to listen to him?" Seto chortled, narrowly dodging the elbow to his side courtesy of Hanamiya.
"It's not so much the reaction of the 'idiots' as you so eloquently dubbed them that concerns me; rather, as loathe as I am to side with Aomine, Akashi is never as easily deterred from his goal as just now. Those two got off easy." Midorima cut in, earning a nod of approval from Aomine and a grunt from Murasakibara for his explanation.
At that, Hara's laughter reached them from the kitchen, seconds before the man poked his head into the living room, a grin on his face. "Carrot-boy still has the hots for Tet-chan, duh! You really think he'd miss a chance to be alone with him in favour of killing me and blondie?" and he popped a bubble from the omnipresent chewing gum in his mouth and disappeared back into the kitchen, mindless of the havoc he left in his wake.
"Akashi has the WHAT?!"
Upstairs, Kuroko was diligently sorting through his wardrobe while Akashi sat on his bed, quietly studying the photographs that lined the walls. He was pleased to find that there were some dating back to their time at Teiko, interspersed with photos of Kuroko with Seirin, the boy Akashi had come to know as Ogiwara, and a lot of pictures of the old Kirisaki Daiichi team, and, to the redhead's surprise, Imayoshi as well.
Four particular photos caught his eye, and he soundlessly got up to study them from up-close. One was of what seemed to be a dogpile over a meter high of bodies stacked over one single futon, and he easily found Kuroko's light blue head towards the top, splayed on top of what looked to be bodies of Furuhashi, Yamazaki and Seto, with Hara's head by his legs and Hanamiya draped over him like a blanket. It looked the oldest out of all the other photos of the bluenette with the Kirisaki group, and Akashi didn't dwell on the familiar burn deep in his chest, moving onto the next one.
It took him a few seconds to realise what was wrong with the image; at first sight, it was only Kuroko's retreating figure, light blue hair standing out against the darkness of the night and his equally black jeans, but it was what he wore on his upper half that eventually registered in Akashi's mind with no small degree of indignation: Kuroko was wearing the Kirisaki Daichi varsity jacket. And he looked good in it. (the burn in his gut was becoming harder and harder to ignore)
The third one was vaguely familiar to Akashi, as he'd seen it before – in fact, he'd had it sent to him by Hanamiya of all people, and it was what had alerted him to the fact that the raven knew of his best-kept secret. The photo itself was of Hanamiya and Kuroko, the bluenette clearly asleep on Hanamiya's lap while the raven had his arm wrapped possessively around his waist and a shit-eating smirk on his face.
The last picture was clearly a candid, and it showed Hanamiya and Kuroko in what was undoubtedly Tohokudai's training uniform, on the basketball court, in the middle of a high-five with wide grins on both of their faces.
"Makoto-kun insisted on that one." Kuroko's voice rang out from beside him, startling Akashi. "It was just after we'd successfully performed the Spider Web together. Makoto-kun wanted it here because he said that he 'likes to be reminded of his genius every morning he gets up': I didn't think we would be able to do it, you see, but he proved me wrong." When Akashi turned to face him, Kuroko offered him a plain white shirt, a reminiscent look on his face.
"You don't seem too upset by being proven wrong." Akashi remarked, quickly shrugging out of the soiled shirt and changing into the offered one.
"That's because I'm not." Kuroko remarked, an easy grin appearing on his face. "Makoto's proven me wrong about many things, yet I can't find it in myself to mind."
"You're a lot more expressive." Akashi remarked instead, unable to find a suitable response to the bluenette's claim.
"Ah." Perhaps it was a trick of the light, but Kuroko suddenly looked embarrassed. "This is… a bit silly, and definitely my fault." he finally admitted. Intrigued, Akashi raised an eyebrow, busing himself with folding his dirty shirt while the bluenette found his words.
"Back in Teiko, even in Seirin, I didn't really bother with expressing my emotions because, well, there was always a chance that nobody would see it." Kuroko explained, not meeting Akashi's eyes. "Even with Aomine-kun or Kagami-kun – they definitely saw the most of me, yet I was always able to sneak up on them, to disappear despite standing in plain sight." He winced, as if the memories brought back a physical ache, but then he sighed and met Akashi's eyes with his own, and the redhead was stunned by the depth of emotion he saw there. "I haven't been able to 'disappear' from Makoto-kun, nor the rest of his old team for the last year. My misdirection still works, but even when I just walk into a room, or leave, they all see me. You have no idea how liberating that is for somebody who's been invisible their whole life, Akashi-kun."
Akashi stared at Kuroko with an unreadable mix of emotions in his eyes, before he, to Kuroko's great shock, smiled. "Well," he began. "in that case, I'm very glad you rejected me when I asked you out, Tetsuya."
Kuroko couldn't help himself – he spluttered. "I'm sorry?"
The redhead laughed at his expression before he explained. "I'm glad, because I'm not convinced I would have been able to offer you the same freedom, Tetsuya. Despite having known you longer, I startled just now when you walked up to me. Forgive me, for I only ever saw your lack of presence as something to take advantage of on court. I never really concerned myself with what it must be like to be invisible always. And as much as I dislike Hanamiya, he makes you genuinely happy, and for that, I can learn to tolerate his disgusting personality."
Kuroko was floored.
Coming upstairs with Akashi, he'd expected many different things; a telling-off, an attack on his relationship with Makoto, a criticism of his performance during the game, perhaps even some awkward pining from the redhead's side, but he did not expect for Akashi to sound like a father might when approving of his daughter's boyfriend. Somehow, all that Kuroko's brain seemed to be capable of controlling were his motor functions, so he decided to forgo words in favour of wrapping his arms around the redhead and burying his face in his neck, murmuring "thank you, Akashi-kun" over and over like a mantra.
Finally, he pulled away, and smiled up at his old captain, a mischievous glint in his eyes. "I reckon we've made them wait long enough, hm?"
Once the chaos had calmed a bit, Riko's eyes fell on Hanamiya, who, despite her expectations, looked the calmest out of everyone. In fact, all of the old Kirisaki Daiichi only looked awfully amused.
"I get the impression that this is somehow not news to you." She observed, eyes narrowed, and Hanamiya's smirk only grew.
"Trust me, this has already been brought to my attention and was sufficiently dealt with by Tetsuya himself." At that, Kise, who'd finally finished cleaning up the remnants of the pie, choked.
"What'd he do?" Aomine inquired, while slapping the blond on the back to get his breath back.
"Crushed him, obviously." Hanamiya replied, smirking gleefully while Seto chuckled.
"Yeah! He told Carrot-boy that his heart only belongs to me!" Hara announced, grinning, though at Hanamiya's raised eyebrow, he smiled sheepishly. "And Hana-chan, obviously."
"Whose heart, Kazuya-kun?"
All eyes snapped to the stairs, where Kuroko was coming down followed by Akashi. Hara bounded over and wrapped his arms around Kuroko's waist, hauling him over his shoulder and teasingly smacking his behind. "Yours, Tet-chan, duh!"
Kuroko appeared to be used to this sort of treatment and merely made himself comfortable on Hara's shoulder, resting his head on his folded arms despite hanging upside down. Kagami looked positively green, and, upon looking around, Riko found that only the old Kirisaki team and, to her surprise, Akashi looked nonplussed.
Suddenly, the doorbell rang, and Kuroko pinched Hara's side, murmuring "Door, Kazuya-kun." his voice muffled by his arms, and the lilac-haired man was already moving in that direction, the blunette still slung over his shoulder. Riko shot Hanamiya an amused look. "Kuroko has him wrapped around his little finger, doesn't he?"
Furuhashi smirked. "That's not quite it." He muttered, Yamazaki being more than happy to fill in, his mirth a lot more boisterous. "Hara's been waiting for Kuroko to put out for the last two years." He laughed.
Seto shot him a bemused look. "Ne, Hiro, don't put it so crudely; Kazuya is merely pining, that's all. I personally think it's adorable."
But before Yamazaki could reply, or Seirin could collect their fallen jaws off the carpet, the sound of a door opening followed by an amused; "Good afternoon, Tetsuya-kun's bottom."
Hanamiya groaned, long and deeply suffering. Curious, Seirin and the Miracles peeked into the kitchen, hoping to catch a glimpse of the corridor, but all they heard was a sound of shuffling then a grunt, followed by a surprised but pleased "Shouichi-kun!" which, upon hearing, made Aomine join in with Hanamiya, their put-upon groans harmonising into a cacophony which led the three from the corridor back to the living room.
Seirin blanched upon seeing Imayoshi, but the raven just grinned. "Ah, my two favourite kouhai, how lovely seeing you again, Makoto-chan, Aomine-kun."
"Shut up, Shouichi, god, you're so annoying." Hanamiya whined, burying his face in one of the cushions on the sofa. Unbeknownst to Hanamiya, Imayoshi smirked and walked over, winking at Kuroko and bending down to stage-whisper in the raven's ear, loud enough that everyone in the living room heard him perfectly. "That's not what you were saying last time I came over, Makoto. I seem to recall a lot more-!" but he was cut off when Hanamiya shot up, his ears and back of his neck stained crimson with a blush, and he shoved his hand over the elder's mouth, his eyes like daggers. Kuroko was laughing, loud and full-bodied, leaning on Hara while his body shook with the force of his chuckles.
"Bit of support here, Tetsuya?" Makoto hissed, his blush slowly fading in his anger, but Kuroko merely laughed harder.
"You walked right into that one, Makoto-kun." He choked out, at the same time as Hanamiya ripped his hand away from Imayoshi's mouth, cradling it against his chest. "Bastard bit me!"
Imayoshi, not in the slightest apologetic, grinned and walked over to Kuroko to plant a light kiss on his cheek. "Honestly, Tetsuya-kun, you need to put a leash on this boyfriend of yours." Hyuga choked, but Kuroko seemed nonplussed. "We tried that last time, remember?" he shot a mischievous look at the still-indignant Makoto and added, innocent as can be. "All it did was make him talk more."
It seemed as if Kise had finally caught on to what the real subject of the conversation was, and he too choked on the piece of tofu he'd stolen from the kitchen.
"Mou, I wouldn't really call it talking, Tetsuya-kun. I'd say it was more-!"
"Ooooookay, you're leaving!" Hanamiya announced loudly, drowning out the rest of Imayoshi's words as he started pushing the raven back towards the door, furious blush back in place. "That's it, you've overstayed your welcome!" all Imayoshi did was look even more amused, and Kuroko finally collected himself enough to stop leaning on Hara and stop Hanamiya from throwing the raven out.
Suddenly, Aomine burst out laughing, pointing shakily in the direction where Midorima stood, his other hand clutching at his stomach.
"Y-your face is the same colour as your hair!"
And indeed, despite the hand that rose to obscure his face from view, everyone could still see the green tint that had taken residence in Midorima's skin, leading all others gathered to either snort at the sight or outright laugh, momentarily forgetting about the events from a few seconds ago.
"That was a lot more detail about Kuroko's private life than I ever wanted to hear." The teen in question choked out, then seemingly retched on air, adding a vehement "Ever." for good measure.
Kuroko chose that moment to return to the living room, Imayoshi and Hanamiya in tow, the latter blushing furiously and refusing to meet anyone's gaze while Imayoshi strolled in with all the satisfaction of a cat who'd finally caught the mouse.
"Kazuya-kun, Kise-kun, have you finished dinner?" the bluenette inquired, walking over to the various pots and pans and verifying their contents.
"Hai, Tet-chan/Kurokocchi!" came as his answer, and he smiled, urging everyone to take a seat at the kitchen table, which must've been set sometime during the Akashi-Kuroko fiasco and looked ready to fit a small army around it.
"Ne, Kuro-chin, do you usually have people over?" Murasakibara had, in some inexplicable way, managed to sneak up on Kuroko, as only that could explain why he didn't react quick enough to stop him from stealing a piece of meat from the pot with ramen.
"Our basketball team sometimes comes over for dinner after games, and Makoto-kun's old team is often around during weekends, why, Murasakibara-kun?" the bluenette replied, craning his neck to look up at the giant behind him.
Murasakibara chewed thoughtfully on the piece of bacon, then offered what could only be a small smirk. "You make good food." He reached down to pat Kuroko on the head, taking advantage of the fact that he appeared to be momentarily stupefied by his words. "And your table is bigger than those in a dining hall." And he walked off, taking a seat between Akashi and Aomine, leaving a shell-shocked Kuroko in his wake.
"Need a hand?" Came Furuhashi's quiet voice, and Kuroko yet again startled, too hung up on Murasakibara's bizarre compliment to notice the teen coming up to him until he felt a hand on the small of his back and his breath on his ear.
"A-ah, if you wouldn't mind, Koujiro-kun, yes please." He replied, shaking himself out of the stupor and delegating which dishes needed to be taken to the table to the rest of the old Kirisaki team, while his two old teams sat around the table, engaged in idle chit-chat while shooting longing or impressed glances at the food being brought in.
Finally, the last dish had been set down, and Kuroko finally sat at the table, sandwiched between Hanamiya and Kagami, staring round the table in obvious fondness:
Midorima looked to be in deep discussion with Furuhashi about some book they'd both read, gesturing rather animatedly (for Midorima, anyway) with the hand not holding his chopsticks. Seto and Murasakibara were lazily slurping on their ramen, while arguing about what time is best for a nap – pre-food or after having eaten. Hyuga, Yamazaki and Riko were discussing when is the best time for a three-pointer as well as its purpose – morale booster, as argued by Hyuga, or morale destroyer for the other team, according to Yamazaki, while Riko pointed out pros and cons of both. Hara, Kise, and Izuki were having a similar argument, but regarding dunks. The rest of Seirin would occasionally add their own comments to somebody's conversation, but most were watching bemusedly as Kagami and Aomine consumed their body weight in food, receiving smacks and reprimands of 'manners, bakas!' from Nijimura who looked ready to tear his hair out.
Yet the most surprising of all was perhaps Hanamiya – he'd swapped seats at some point, so that Imayoshi now sat by Kuroko's side, while Makoto sat next to Akashi, of all people. At first, Kuroko had been worried that he'd have to step in and prevent a bloodbath, but soon it became clear that the two had found a common ground; they were having a rather heated argument about the best shogi strategies.
"Enjoying yourself, Tetsuya-kun?" Kuroko didn't even flinch, used as he was to Imayoshi's sudden comments. As it was, he turned to face the older teen, a small smile on his face. "I'm glad everyone is getting along." He murmured, curious when the other chuckled.
"All they needed to unite them was a shared interest. You provided that, Tetsuya-kun." When Kuroko continued staring at him with a blank expression, Imayoshi elaborated, grin on his face. "Everybody who's here is here because of you."
"You think too highly of me, Shouichi-kun." Kuroko waved the comment off, moving to pile some more rice on his plate.
"Or perhaps you still think too lowly of youself, hm, Tetsuya?" admittedly, the remark made him pause, and his hesitation was all that Imayoshi needed to smirk victoriously and lean down to peck his cheek. "You have everybody wrapped around your little finger and you don't even realise it." He breathed in the bluenette's ear, and Kuroko blushed.
"Oi, Hana-chan!" Hara's shout made Kuroko and Imayoshi look up, only to see almost everyone staring at them. "You might wanna stop being a nerd with carrot-boy and claim your boyfriend back, otherwise someone might just try and steal him!"
Before Kuroko even realised what was going on, Imayoshi was being yanked out of his seat and shoved in the direction of Akashi, laughing all the while, and Hanamiya was once again by his side, a possessive arm slung around his shoulders, glaring at everyone who dared meet eyes with him.
Kuroko sighed, aware that there was only one way to get Makoto to stop: he grabbed the raven by the back of his neck and brought their lips together, only letting go when he was satisfied that he'd gotten his point across and Makoto was rendered speechless.
He drew back and was greeted with laughs and cheers and cat-calls, a stark contrast to the stupefied looks and grimaces he'd gotten even earlier on in the day, and he was suddenly grateful he'd extended the dinner invitation to his two old teams: before Teiko, Kuroko's family was only his grandma and Ogiwara. In middle school, the Generation of Miracles had semi-acquired that position. Then that had been destroyed, and Seirin had taken the place of Kuroko's family, then Makoto and his team, and one-by-one he fought back the right to be able to call his old teammates his family again. On top of that, he could now also add his Tohokudai team to the group.
When he looked around, eyes falling on the faces of everyone gathered, drinking in the happiness, the comfort, the positive interaction, he momentarily met eyes with Akashi, who sent him a small smile, then Hanamiya, who was looking at him with a knowing look in his eyes and the closest he'd ever seen to a fond smile on the raven's face.
Slowly, a similar smile broke out on Kuroko's face.
He was home.