Kuroko sighed in relief as the final apology and informative letter was sealed. He placed the envelope against the pile of other letters before stretching his arms out. Yawning, his eyes glanced over to the digital clock upon his desk which read 6:04 PM. Rising to his feet; he smiled at Nigou who looked at him with such anticipation. With his tail wagging and his slight barks, Kuroko nodded as he walked towards the bathroom.
"Time to get ready." The shadow announced, removing his shirt in the process of entering his destination. Nigou followed his master before halting in front of the door. Kuroko couldn't care less if Nigou saw his bare self as he stripped himself of the rest his clothes before stepping into the shower.

He turned the cold and hot taps on in sync; adjusting the temperature until it just suited his body. It has approximately been two weeks since the incident at the pre-school and as the Friday night settled in, a certain gathering was being hosted around 7:30 PM. Kuroko, his Teikou Middle friends as well as his ones from Seirin, with the exception of Alex and such were all invited for a catch up, suggested by none other than Kise Ryouta. The unexpected meeting in the hospital two weeks back had gave the blond an idea to get everyone back together under better circumstances instead of unfortunate ones. After a couple minutes of when was the right time for you, they've all somehow managed to get a time and a date set up, no matter how reluctant all seemed.

Kuroko's mind entered into a deep routed thought of the events that had occurred over the past month. He never had expected that after all these years; their lives would be tied into each other somehow, someway whether it is by mere coincidence as his encounter with Murisakibara and Kise was or bounded by fate like what happened with Hyuga and Alex. Somewhere deep in his mind, he had been weary of meeting any of them once his high school life ended because a part of him was afraid of change. It happened before when Aomine abandoned him as his light and it sure as hell wasn't a pleasant feeling to go on with. But then again, there was the other part of him that was glad things turned out the way they did, although he'd have to admit they could've been a lot less dangerous.

After he had freshened up and gotten dressed, it was about 6:50 PM. Kuroko had all he needed for the gathering as well as the address. It was the cafe that his sempai, Kiyoshi had worked in as suggested by Hyuga. It was bound to be a busy Friday night for the city-suburban area which was convenient as the cafe hid silently amongst the popular destinations such as bars and clubs. Kuroko had found himself in the kitchen, setting up a bowl of water and food for Nigou to snack on while he was out. He could've asked the landlady to take the canine into her apartment for a couple of hours but he did not want to disturb her after all the events surrounding him and his... friends.

"Be a good dog, okay?" Kuroko requested, setting the two separate bowls down onto the tiled, kitchen floor. Nigou barked in response and Kuroko smiled, ruffling a hand through the soft, scented fur. "I'll be back soon." He informed, receiving yet another bark from the mammal. Satisfied with Nigou's easy behaviour, Kuroko glanced at his wrist watch that finally marked 7 PM. He thought that it was a reasonable time to head off to his allocated destination, and if any, will try to take his time getting there.
"Ja, I'll be off now." Kuroko stated as Nigou sat near the door in a gesture resembling a farewell. Kuroko closed and locked the door behind him before heading down the flight of stairs and into the foyer which then led to the outside area of his apartment. The cool but humid air brushed against his pale skin as he ventured forward through the star-lit streets.

"We're early."
"Told you we should've just walked."

Two tall, well-built figures stood idly by the café they once set foot in. They stared at the closed entrance that even had a sign saying that it was closed as the busy city-suburban life carried on with much velocity. Kagami glanced at Aomine who returned the look before sighing.
"There'll be traffic, you said." Kagami muttered, causing Aomine to roll his eyes, "We'll be late, you said. Like you're the one to be so damn punctual."
"What are you on about?" Aomine whined, "I'm always punctual." He said, crossing his arms over his chest.
"Punctual?" Kagami spat out, shaking his head. "You, always? That is a colossal mass of bull." Kagami objected.
"Oh yeah? Well, then. Name one time, just one time where I haven't been punctual." Aomine challenged, narrowing his brows.
"Are you sure just one? Cuz I can name heaps! Like that time you were late for our first basketball match back in high school—"
"Okay, that was different." Aomine quickly interrupted.
"I was sleeping."

The two of the quarrelled for a good two minutes before being cut off by a new presence from behind them, "You lovers going in or what?" The two males turned around to see a tall blonde female in fairly showy clothes.
"Alex," Kagami sighed out and in which she responded with an innocent smile, "Cool seeing you here."
"I suppose." She casually replied, flipping her hair over one of her shoulders, "So are you in or out?"
"That's what she said." Aomine mumbled causing Kagami to chuckle almost immediately.
"You guys are so damn immature." She sighed, rolling her eyes and pushing passed them both.

She placed her hand against the front door of the café, feeling it move inwards. She then looked over her shoulder at the tall, childish males.
"Didn't know it was opened…" Kagami muttered under his breath as Aomine seemed surprised.
"Yeah, well…" Alex sighed out, "Come in when you've cooled that head of yours. And by cooled I mean when you guys are actually mature enough to enter the adult life." And with that, she went inside the café that was lighted inside. The curtains covering the large windows prevented the two from actually seeing that there were actually people inside already.

Kagami shrugged as Aomine spoke, "Well I guess twenty-five's an alright number to get into the groove of things."
"You seriously did not just say that right?" Kagami questioned.
"Let's go in now, kay?" Aomine ignored, walking towards the front door but soon halted as he felt that Kagami did not follow his pursuit, "What..?" he turned around to see Kagami stare off into the distance, "Oi, Taiga? What are you doing..?" Aomine followed Kagami's line of sight which led his eyes to a small, blue haired male.


"This 'get-together-under-better-circumstances' party is now officially underway!" Kise announced as he stood shamelessly atop the bar as Kiyoshi shook his head whilst taking out glasses to hold beverages in.

Hyuga and Aida had just entered with their daughter, Asami as it was a family friendly get together. Cheers, light music and a warm atmosphere was what greeted the married couple as all the tables were pushed together to from a large table that everyone could fit in. After Hyuga, Aida and Asami entered, Alex locked the door so no customers who heard the noise inside would come in. The small café was filled with familiar faces from high school—the main cast as one would say. It was a very comfortable place to be in—all would just say hey with no means of awkward air. Even Kuroko, who had barely kept in touch with his high school classmates, had it easy as he struck up a conversation with Kagami.

"Pre-school, huh?" Kagami commented, taking a sip out of his glass as Kuroko nodded.
"It's fun. Children are very fun to teach, especially when they don't know things." The Shadow remarked, popping a chip in his mouth.
"I probably couldn't handle all the kids. I mean, yeah they're cute and all, but I don't think I'm the type to be able to take care of them."
"Well, you save lives so I don't see how not being able to take care of one would be much of a challenge for you." Kuroko said. Kagami nodded slightly.
"I guess… But after you save their life, it's up to them to take care of themselves better." Kagami sighed as he began munching on peanuts, "I get what you're saying though. But I can't even take care of myself let alone another person." Kagami then let out a fake chuckle in which Kuroko caught on.

"I heard you're living with Aomine-kun." Kuroko started, "How is it?" He asked, genuinely curious.
"It's tough. It's like… Living with yourself— talking to yourself." Kagami unknowingly confessed as his eyebrow twitched. Kuroko saw that and laughed.
"I see. Who would've known you both would end up together." Kuroko commented innocently. Kagami choked a little on the peanuts he consumed.
"No, Kuroko. We're not together." Kagami frantically said, punching his own chest. Kuroko naturally rubbed the red-head's back, "We just live in the same place. For now. That's it. We're not—"
"You're panicking, Kagami-kun." Kuroko pointed out as Kagami calmed down.
"You say weird things." Kagami mumbled. The two then laughed.

The night soon dawned into the eleventh hour as almost everyone's mind became intoxicated with alcohol. Time really flew by from when it started till this point as the café was soon trashed with empty snack packets, serviettes, spilt drinks and crumbs. The booths on the side of the café were also filled with empty pizza boxes, soft drink cans and alcohol beverages. The atmosphere was stuffy and hot due to the use of lights and the body heat that everyone emitted to the point where people even removed a couple of layers of their clothing. Some had to even step outside for a breather—even if it was a warm night, it was still cooler outside than in.

Kuroko sat on top of a spare table booth with his legs crossed as Momoi accompanied him, with her feet on the booth's seat. She leaned on him slightly as Kuroko faced the crowd of people conversing with one another. The two of them had completely changed throughout the course of the night—Kuroko spoke quietly and formally to those who wanted to speak to him as Momoi shy-ed herself away from Kuroko but now they're talking casually. It may be the cause of the alcohol they both consumed or just the fact that the environment was one that replicated a family.

The pink head and the blue head shared a packet of snake lollies between them before they got to talking.

Momoi sighed, "I thought we would have all changed by now." Kuroko took a piece of lolly from the packet before chewing off the head.
"What do you mean?" He then asked with his eyes glancing around. The less drunk people all sat on one booth, talking in what seemed like a sophisticated manner as the kouhais of the cast played with the food. Aomine and Kise had a battle on who can throw and catch food in their mouth the most as Kagami and Takao threw food at each other—Midorima, being the safe bystander he is stood well away from them. Alex just laughed at how serious the boys all looked. Akashi and Murisakibara did not end up coming to the get together as Akashi found no need to come whereas Murisakibara just wanted to follow the red head.

"I mean, sure we all have stable jobs and such… And one would think that we would all change because of those jobs… But looking at them all now… We're still the same." Momoi explained, reaching over to munch on a snake lolly.
"It's the environment, I think that changes everything." Kuroko said, causing Momoi to heave herself off the Shadow and look at him.
"What do you mean?" she asked with the snake lolly hanging out of her mouth.
"I mean… No one's on duty—or on the job. Anything that happens outside this café is none of our fault—no one here is made accountable to anything that happens out there… Since middle school, everyone's been so focused on basketball that we really didn't have much time to have fun. I mean, true fun. Since Aomine changed, and our team fell apart, fun never really meant anything but victory. Winning was our fun." Kuroko spoke lightly, facing her as Momoi couldn't help but find truth in his words. He continued, "Then we all officially parted ways when high school came. We all had our teams, we all had or differences. The only way we could push our beliefs that winning isn't everything was to win against each other, ironic as it seems. But it did seem to work. And when one of us generations lost, it was only then did we all truly had fun, even if it did hurt to lose."

"Well put, Kurokocchi~" A voice coming from Kuroko's right side spoke. Both Kuroko and Momoi turned to look at him.
"Eh? When did you get here?" Momoi asked, surprised. Kise leaned over the seats from the adjacent booth he was in.
"Just a moment ago," He said, "When you guys are done with your deep and meaningful convo, we should play a game." Kise informed.
"What kind of game did you have in mind?" Kuroko asked for the sake of asking. The blond smirked before standing up on the chair booth.

"Everybody!" He called out, clapping his hands before flailing them around, "Hey everybody!" He called out again to hush the crowd. When all eyes were on him, he cleared his throat and spoke up, "Hey, let's play spin the bottle!"

Silence filled the air as a certain red head circled the table with the tip of his finger. He sat with a bored expression on the dining table as the only light in the place came from the kitchen which was occupied by a larger male. His elbow rested against the table as his other hand continued to circle the table, causing finger marks to emerge. He then let out a small yawn which was caught by the larger male.

The two of them were currently at Murisakibara's one bedroom apartment. Akashi took it upon himself to invite himself in in which Murisakibara had no objection to. After the many mails, text messages and calls they got from Kise, they finally had a peaceful night after a long period of pestering from the blond. Murisakibara wasn't sure why Akashi didn't want to head over to the get-together-under-better-circumstances (whatever that meant; both Murisakibara and Akashi had no idea what the blond meant by that) but he did not dare ask. He just went with whatever the red head wanted, even after years out of high school.

"Akachin…" Murisakibara called out but it did not catch the attention of the said male. The response he did get though from the red head as a light tsk. He wasn't sure if it was in annoyance or something which made the taller male worried. Akashi sighed, glancing quickly at Murisakibara before wrapping his arms around his head and laying it atop the table. He seemed really tired which sparked a strange interest in Murisakibara. Wiping his hands on his pants, Murisakibara brought over the homemade sushi he had prepared for the red head before setting it on the table near Akashi's head. Murisakibara then took a seat next to him, tapping his shoulder lightly.

"Akachin… I made something for you to eat." He informed but again received no response. With his mouth twitching to the side, Murisakibara continued to tap Akashi's shoulder before moving onto shaking the male lightly. He then heard a groan.
"What do you want, Atsushi?" Akashi asked, not lifting his head to speak.
"You should eat something." He said, showing concern for the younger male's health.
"What is it?" Akashi asked.
"Why don't you take a look?"

Sighing, the red head decided to lift his head. He looked at the plate of somewhat appetizing sushi before looking at the male who prepared it, "So you can make other things apart from pastry delicacies." Akashi smirked and let out a small chuckle causing Murisakibara to raise a brow.
"Of course—it's simple." Murisakibara replied, pushing the dish closer towards Akashi.

The red head stared at the dish for an uncomfortably long time before looking back at Murisakibara. His lips them parted to speak, "Feed me." Murisakibara looked at Akashi in disbelief of what he had just heard before Akashi raised a brow as if to confirm what he said was true.
"Are you incapable of feeding yourself after six pm?" Murisakibara asked boldly. He usually would've just done so, but it was late and he, like most, had no energy to bother obliging to other's request so fast.
"Just do it." Akashi sighed, opening his mouth a little—exposing his perfect teeth and pink tongue.

Rolling his eyes, Murisakibara picked up a bite size sushi between his pointer finger and thumb before navigating the piece of food towards Akashi's mouth. Suddenly, the red head closed his mouth and grasped the hand that the sushi was held in before pulling Murisakibara forward with immense strength. The sushi fell onto the table as Akashi smashed his lips against Murisakibara's. The taller male was shocked but did not show any signs of rejecting the kiss. It was soon broken though after what seemed like hours as Akashi licked his lips.

"You're right," the red head began, "I should eat something… but not that."

黒子のバスケ © 藤巻 忠俊
Kuroko No Basuke