Kise flipped his phone shut, making some quick calculations in his mind.
It was 4 in the evening when Kagami called him, and it would take him about an hour and a half on train to reach Tokyo. Akashi and Murasakibara would need at least 4 hours. Aomine and Midorima had it easy since they live in the same prefecture.
Kise heaved a sigh. Those two at Tokyo would surely be pissed off when they barge into their apartments in the middle of the night - not that Kise cared. He was willing to do anything when his precious Kurokocchi was in question, and sacrificing his fabulous model face was not an exception. He wasn't so sure about the others though.
The blonde flipped his phone open once more, pausing his thumb over one of the speed dials. Aomine would probably yell at him for disturbing his sleep. Midorima would probably reject the call as soon as he sees whatever name he saved Kise's number as flashing on the screen of his phone. Murasakibara would maybe just blink several times in mild surprise before answering. Akashi might bring his beloved scissors (face the fact, he brings that thing everywhere) the next time they gather and threaten to cut his hair for ruining his schedule or whatnot.
For Kurokocchi, Kise tried to be optimistic. It's all worth it. Besides, what's skipping school a day or two to them? The only one who would actually mind would probably be Midorima. Kise was sure it wouldn't make a difference to the others.
He clicked the button and dialed.
Aomine was dreaming about catching cute animals with shrinkable basketballs when he felt his phone vibrating in his back pocket.
He tried to ignore it at first, but the stupid thing never stopped ringing. Finally sure that the person calling him was either on the verge of dying or something similar, Aomine decided to answer it. Groaning, he heaved himself up on his elbows and fished for the irritating device. He let himself yawn as he glanced at the name on the lit up screen.
"What?" he answered, not even bothered to hide his hostility.
"Aominecchi?" Kise's voice sounded overly hyper for some reason. "I'm coming over to your place tonight, alright?"
It took Aomine two full seconds to register what he just heard. "Wait. WHAT-"
"Anyway I'll explain everything when I get there later!" the blonde hurriedly said. "I gotta call the others before it's too late! Bye~"
The line fell dead. Aomine stared at his phone incredulously, wondering what was with that bizarre conversation. Why was Kise in such a hurry? And why the hell is he suddenly coming to Tokyo and now of all times?
And most of all, why his house of all places to spend the night in?
Aomine wasn't exactly the brightest guy around, but knowing the blonde, he guessed whatever happened had got something to do with Kuroko some way or another.
Biting back an irritated curse, he stood up and stretched his stiff muscles. Damn Kise for not telling him everything properly. He was starting to feel curious. And curiosity did not make his just-woke-up-from-sleep mood any better. Aomine felt like punching a wall, though he decided not to, since it was innocent and all. He figured punching Kise would be way better.
And with that happy thought, the tanned boy strode towards the stairs, and made his way home.
When Midorima opened his door to find a scary looking heterochromatic redhead and a snack munching giant standing at the entrance way, he was not amused.
Kise had casually sent him a message (after having his call rejected for about 20 times) to inform him about Akashi and Murasakibara coming over a few hours back, and Midorima did not remember agreeing to anything. He would've preferred his spending his nights peacefully studying alone and not entertaining his weird ex-teammates. But let's face it, the sight of Akashi smiling sweetly while swinging his scissors from finger to finger was enough to make anyone's resolve crumble and fade away.
Midorima swore he was going to hit Kise when he sees him the next morning.
Kagami thought he was late. He'd forgotten to set his alarm the night before and his self-waking instincts apparently decided to abandon him that day.
But by some weird twist of fate, he was the first one there.
Kagami guessed either Kise forgot all about his phone call, or not one of the Generation of Miracles were bothered to hear him out. He glanced at the miniature clock tower built at one corner of the court. There's still some time before school starts. Kagami was glad he brought his basketball with him. At least his morning wouldn't be wasted if none of them showed up.
Kagami was shooting his thirteenth basket when he - finally - heard people approaching. He stopped a drive midway, averting his gaze around. With their striking hair color, the Generation of Miracles were no harder to notice in the morning dimness.
"I'm so tired.." Kise yawned loudly.
"You're the one talking," Aomine hit him on the back, causing the blonde to pitch forward several steps. "I barely slept a wink thanks to you and your constant mantra about how much you love Tetsu." When Kise opened his mouth to argue, he added; "And yes, you talk in your freaking sleep."
"Excuse me," Midorima pushed his glasses up his nose with his carefully bandaged hand, huffing indignantly. "But I believe I am the real victim here since I have two freeloaders in my house. And I was barely given any notice about it earlier."
"..Mido-chin doesn't have enough snacks in his home," Murasakibara merely mumbled as the others started bickering, nomming on a piece of giant Pocky.
"Really, Shintaro," Akashi's tone was cold and deadly. "I didn't know you hate us that much that you aren't even willing to let us spend one night at your place."
The noise stopped at once. Midorima paled, a bead of sweat making its way down the side of his face. Kise and Aomine shifted their weight uncomfortably. Only Murasakibara seemed to be oblivious to the redhead's death threat.
Kagami cleared his throat - reluctantly. "Err.. guys?"
He couldn't very well say that he liked the attention he gained. Five pairs of colorful eyes trained on him, as if noticing him for the first time. Kagami unconsciously cringed under their gaze. Despite all his talk about surpassing each and every one of them, he was still slightly afraid of them. Rather, he was particularly at unease around a certain midget with the name of Akashi Seijuuro.
"..right," Kise seemed to have just remembered something. "We came here because there's something about Kurokocchi that Kagamicchi wanted to talk about."
Kagami decided to not bother with Kise's habit. "Yeah, about that.."
"This better be worth my effort of waking up so early," Aomine mumbled, yawning like a cat. The rest of the group remained silent, waiting for Kagami to continue.
The redhead went straight to the point. "Please tell me how to make Kuroko laugh."
Kise and Aomine stared at him wide-eyed. Midorima stopped fiddling with his bandages, his eyebrows disappearing under his neatly trimmed fringe. Murasakibara stopped chewing. Akashi looked calm as ever, though his eyes showed an amused twinkle.
"And why do you want to know that, if I might ask?" Akashi broke the silence that was starting to form.
Kagami reluctantly explained his situation. He was careful to make it sound as if he dreaded the idea of running that ten rounds and not because he personally wanted to see and hear Kuroko's laugh. He paused for a breath once he finished, waiting for their reactions.
"Tetsu laughing?" Aomine scoffed at last. "Meh. Impossible."
"Kurokocchi can do that?" Kise breathed. "How come I never knew?"
Kagami's patience with those two idiots was wearing out. "I'm not asking if you ever knew. I'm just asking if you guys have any ideas to make him laugh or something like that."
"And why should we help you?" Midorima asked, once again pushing his glasses back into place.
"Well..you're all here, aren't you?" Kagami wasn't even sure if that was an answer, but that seemed to be able to shut the bespectacled shooter up.
"What do we get in return?" Murasakibara was asking saying something decent for once.
"Does the sight of Kuroko being happy interest you?"
Kagami was never really the religious kind, but he prayed for that to work. He knew every member of the Generation of Miracles had a soft spot for Kuroko, no matter what they do to deny it.
They seemed to exchange a silent conversation among themselves for several minutes. Kagami waited, counting the seconds passed. Fifty-one. Fifty-two. Fifty-three..
"Beat me 1-on-1 and we'll-"
"I see no harm to it," Akashi spoke up, cutting Aomine off midsentence. Kagami let out a breath he didn't realize he was holding.
"But if this just ends up being a waste of time," Akashi smiled sadistically, snapping his scissors. "We'll know just who to torture - not that I expect what I have in mind to fail."
Kagami stared at the shorter redhead and gulped.
What had he got himself into?
The training session for Seirin's basketball team was especially entertaining that evening.
Riko was in the middle of drilling her boys with footwork exercises when she heard the doors open. Curious for they had full attendance that day with no late comers, the young coach turned, wondering who it might be. She couldn't make out the details at first courtesy of the blinding sunlight that streamed in, but she could see a single figure.
A human missile launched himself at Kuroko, ignoring all the weird stares he was getting from the rest of the team. Kuroko, as usual, barely gave any visible reaction.
"..Please get off me, Kise-kun," he said calmly, as if he got tackled into a hug on a daily basis. Then again, he probably did back in the days.
"Ehhh," Kise whined childishly. "But I came all the way here to see you.."
"You're disturbing other people."
The blonde pouted, but otherwise obediently did what he was told and pulled back. Kuroko blinked at the full view of his blond friend, and for once, could barely believe what he saw. Kise was wearing a normal t-shirt on top, but when he shifted his gaze downwards..
"ACK!" Riko exclaimed, covering her eyes as though the sight burned them. "WHY THE HECK ARE YOU WEARING A SKIRT?"
Kise wearing a miniskirt certainly was not the prettiest sight in the world. Sure, he was a model and had near perfect body parts and all, but he was also an athlete. And athletes meant muscles. And muscles meant temporary blindness to those who witness them combined with feminine clothing. And with teddy bear boxers present and visible, to make things worse.
"Kise-kun," Kuroko had a slight twitch in his expression. "Do me a favor."
Kise perked up. "Sure~"
"Please pretend you don't know me and leave."
"I do not know any exhibitionist that has a fetish in wearing female clothing."
"Okay, okay I'll change!" Kise said, eyes brimming with tears. "I'll be right back!"
He was about to reach for the door handles when someone pushed - or kicked - them open from the other side, slamming Kise's face head on.
"Oops," Aomine peeked in. "Sorry 'bout that, Kise."
Kise was on the floor, unmoving. Aomine stepped right past him, and to the surprise of everyone, so did the rest of the Generation of Miracles.
Seirin's basketball team had never been so uniformed in their lives. Roughly a dozen jaws dropped at the same time at the sight of them standing casually in their gym. Too stunned to speak, Riko turned her gaze at Kuroko, expecting him to provide an answer. But Kuroko looked just as bewildered as the rest of them. Kagami tried to keep his face as neutral as possible.
"Please don't mind us," Akashi spoke up, his tone making some of them cringe. "We'll just be borrowing Tetsuya for a while. Please carry on with your training."
Riko was about to argue, but something about Akashi's heterochromatic eyes made her decide otherwise. The bastard did not expect to be defied, and those who dare do so shall suffer painful consequences. Riko heaved an inaudible sigh.
"Go on, Kuroko-kun," she said loud enough for the boy in question to hear. "But don't take too long."
Kuroko seemed hesitant about it, but he did as told. He stepped towards his group of old friends, wondering what made them want to see him. Midorima and Akashi must be really pissed off, since it was a school day and all.
"..Yes?" Kuroko stood about a meter apart from them, feeling slightly disturbed by the strange glint in their eyes.
Akashi snapped his fingers. "Atsushi, Shintaro."
Kuroko felt two pairs of strong arms winding around his own, holding him in place. He blinked uncomprehendingly. "Um.."
Akashi crossed his arms and leaned backwards, smiling as if he was going to enjoy what he would see. "Daiki."
Aomine came forward, cracking his knuckles. "I'm sorry, Tetsu. But I have to do this."
Kuroko might be physically weak in many ways, but when it comes to struggling free when he was tickled, it was as if he'd taken steroids of things of that sort. Aomine's nimble fingers tickled his sides mercilessly. Both Murasakibara and Midorima had a firm grip on him, but with Kuroko struggling so wildly, they were ready to let him go anytime for they were worried he might sprain himself or something.
A minute passed. Kuroko was still not laughing - much to Akashi's (and Seirin's basketball team's) irritation. Riko was too busy watching them to even yell at her boys to continue with their training. Despite Aomine's attempts to find Kuroko's most ticklish spots, Kuroko did not let even a single giggle escape his lips. Everyone was sure he was holding back. For what reason though, they do not know.
"Whoop," Murasakibara loosened his grip very suddenly, letting Kuroko slip his arm out and almost hitting him on the chest. He lost his bag of chips as a price. Midorima dodged another wild fling of the pale boy's arm, only to be elbowed on the face by Murasakibara, who was bending down to retrieve his precious snacks.
Midorima's glasses flew off his face in the process. For a very short moment, he panicked. He was known to be practically blind without his specs, and nothing would describe his situation better than the emoticon "3 A 3". His figured asking for help wasn't of much use either, considering the situation.
Sure enough, he wasn't taken any notice of.
"..Aomine-kun," Kuroko said as he regained his composure, a little breathless from struggling. His cheeks were slightly flushed. Aomine flinched at his steely tone, sweatdropping. Angry Kuroko was as scary as Akashi in some ways. Maybe even scarier.
It was an instinctive act. Aomine ducked behind Akashi, his fear for Kuroko's fury overwhelming his fear for his ex team captain. The shorter boy only raised an eyebrow.
Things were more or less chaos after that - with Kuroko chasing Aomine around to give him an Ignite Pass Kai in the face and Aomine running for dear life and casually trampling on Kise who was still on the floor. Midorima searched blindly (and desperately) for his glasses. Murasakibara resumed his constant munching of snacks, offering some to Akashi. Akashi nibbled on a potato chip as he watched the two boys running around the gym as though they owned it. Aomine was screaming for all he was worth, completely ignoring the helpless grins and snorts of barely contained laughter from their spectators. It was a shame no one caught it on camera. It could've been Twitter's next top trending topic.
It was difficult with Kuroko chasing Aomine at a speed no one knew he could achieve combined with his misdirection skills, but for a brief moment, Akashi's sharp eyes saw it. He knew he was never wrong. His record was yet to be broken.
"That's enough, Daiki," he spoke, his voice ringing loud and clear across the gym. Aomine automatically stopped, only to find the palm of Kuroko's right hand connected to his face. For one second, he couldn't feel the ground under his feet.
And then he hit the floor. Hard. Right next to Kise.
"That's enough," Akashi repeated as he picked up Midorima's glasses to return it to the poor guy. Murasakibara knelt down, promptly taking joy in poking the two on the floor until they woke. "We're done here."
As if coming back from the dead, Kise looked up from his face-flat-on-ground position. "You mean..?"
Akashi had a triumphant sparkle (yes, sparkle) in his eyes. "Yes."
"I never want to face Tetsu's passes again," Aomine mumbled onto the wooden flooring. "But I guess it was worth it."
"I saw it," Murasakibara nommed on a piece of candy stick next. "Though only barely."
"Aww mannn," Kise sounded like he was about to face-floor all over again. "I just had to pass out and miss it."
"Shut up, Kise. You weren't the only one," Midorima sounded calm (and pouty) for someone who was on the verge freaking out a minute ago.
"At any rate," Akashi said before Kise could start bawling and flood the gym. He glanced at Kagami through the corner of his eye. "Our work here is done. Let's not interfere with Tetsuya's training any more than we already did."
With lots of groans and cusses, they managed to coax Kise and Aomine back on their legs to leave. They were starting to feel comfortable lying on the floor like that. Seirin's basketball team watched speechlessly as the strange group made their strategic retreat, as if they barged into gyms of unknown schools every day. Riko turned to Kuroko as soon as the doors snapped shut.
"How come we've never seen you run that fast before?"
Kagami was starting to feel lucky. Until he heard the dog barking.
First off, he had not been skinned alive and given a new haircut the day before, which was pretty much a miracle. Heck, he'd only asked them to suggest some ways to make Kuroko laugh. He never thought they would decide to personally give it a try. And he'd never actually expected them to succeed either, even if no one had seen or heard the results of their display of embarrassment.
Akashi was scary. That was all he could say.
And there was the main problem. Kuroko had laughed. And no one saw him other than the Generation of Miracles. Kagami felt like banging his head against a wall. He threw away his bloody pride for nothing.
Kagami sighed, and flinched. Was that a bark he heard?
It had been months since the husky was adopted and made their team mascot, but Kagami still failed to overcome his fear towards animals of its kind. He reached towards the door handles with shaky fingers, and tentatively pushed them open, bracing himself for a sudden furry ambush.
To his relief, #2 was sitting obediently at a corner, making occasional enthusiastic barks whenever someone scored a point and all that. Kagami was careful to not cross its path as he went to do his warm ups.
Riko happily pushed them to their limits that day. Maybe it was because it's the final day of their game and since no one in the team had succeeded just yet, she was bringing forward their punishment or something. By the 30-minute mark, the whole basketball team was drenched in sweat.
Kagami had never appreciated breaks so much in his life.
He collapsed onto the polished wooden floor right next to the benches, breathing hard as he took a swig from his water bottle. Hearing a set of footsteps approaching, he looked up.
Kuroko sat on one of the benches, his towel hanging over his head. Sweat beaded his face. He'd almost passed out twice from Riko's sudden extreme drill, but it was an improvement. Months ago, he would've already been sent to the infirmary.
"Hey," Kagami greeted, taking another gulp of water.
Kuroko glanced at him sideways. "Hello."
"I wonder what's gotten into the coach today," Kagami said with a loud exhale, not caring whether or not he was heard. Riko was gonna kill them anyway.
Kuroko shrugged in response. "PMS?"
"Maybe," Kagami smiled crookedly. He never thought Kuroko of all people would make such jokes.
Kagami tensed visibly. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a black and white furball running towards them.
He hadn't even the time to react when #2 playfully jumped on him. Kagami yelled once in uncharacteristic panic before falling on his back. The puppy licked his face as if it was a very delicious steak cuisine.
At first, Kagami was too busy trying not to scream and making a big commotion to notice. But pass #2's furry coat, he could see Kuroko's shoulder shaking. Was this it? Quite forgetting his fear for dogs at the moment, Kagami lay very still, straining to hear.
There was a moment of awkward silence. And then he heard it; soft and restrained. It gradually grew louder.
Kuroko's laugh was more like a string of chuckles; helpless and amused. And very contagious. Kagami's mouth hung agape as his first reaction. He had no idea what made him laugh. And then he himself started to smile. And before he knew it, he was laughing along. Unlike the Kuroko's polite giggles, his was an uproar - which, attracted the attention of everyone in the gym.
They couldn't decide which was more surprising; Kuroko laughing or Kagami being so calm with #2 on top of him.
Koganei let out a loud whoop. Teppei clapped loudly. All this while they'd been trying so hard to see Kuroko's laugh, and there he was now, chuckling helplessly. With his lips turned upwards and eyebrows arched, Kuroko seemed like a different person altogether.
They did it. They completed the challenge right on the day of the deadline. Their miserable lives were saved!
Even #2 seemed to understand the situation. Seeing its master's happy face, it leaped off Kagami and jumped on Kuroko's lap instead. It stood on its hind legs, and licked the tip of Kuroko's nose. Kuroko ruffled its head fondly.
"Finally!" Kagami huffed when the excitement had passed. Kuroko stared at him, his expression back to normal.
Kagami glanced at his teammates, silently asking if he should tell Kuroko exactly what was going on.
"I suppose it's only fair that he knows," Riko muttered with a sigh. "You see, Kuroko, for the pass week, we've been trying to make you laugh."
"I suggested the idea," Koganei chirped in, feeling responsible for once. "And I accidentally got everyone in deep shit."
"What deep shit?" Riko demanded. "It was for your sakes too, you know!"
"Anyway," Hyuuga cut in before Riko could launch herself into one of her hour-long sermons. "Coach made it a bet. We had to make you laugh within a week or we'll have to run ten rounds around the school perimeter."
"Which explains why some of us took desperate measures," Izuki summed it up, glaring at Hyuuga. "And that was also the reason why we had been acting strangely."
"Come to think of it," Teppei wondered aloud. "How did the Generation of Miracles know about this anyway?"
Kagami hesitated a little before he tentatively raised his hand slightly. "That? That was me."
He earned himself some stares.
"What?" he said, feeling blush tinting his cheeks. "I was just as desperate as you guys!"
No one had any comments to make.
They turned their attention back to the pale boy who spoke.
"I knew you were all trying to make me laugh," Kuroko's smile reminded them a little of Akashi. "That's why I held back."
There was a moment of silence, and then realization sank in.
Despite their success in completing the challenge, Riko still made them carry out her punishment.
"Technically, it was #2 who did it," was her excuse. "And he wasn't part of the deal."
All that hard work and happiness for nothing. Koganei learnt to never open his mouth again when Riko was around. He was forced to triple his number of rounds, as what he'd expected Hyuuga would make him do.
Kuroko trailed behind as usual, doing his best to keep up. He unconsciously reviewed the memory of the past week in his mind. It had been fun seeing them try so hard. It made him.. happy. Wanted. He felt stupid thinking that they left him out at the first place.
A smile graced his features as he ran, unseen by his teammates running in front. His laughter wasn't entirely caused by #2 after all.
Who expected the ending? lol /shot
I sincerely hope that that wasn't too bad ;w;
Thank you to those of you who suggested your ideas! You guys saved my life. Seriously. And thank you to kolachess, for (indirectly) giving me inspiration with her fic: "Cheese for the Paparazzi!" She's just awesome ;;w;;
Thanks so much for the responses everyone! I'm sorry if it turned out to be another disappointment OTL I'll try harder to improve ;A;
Excuse my mistakes. Kuroko no Basuke is not mine. Thank you so much for reading!