Author's Notes: *Spoliers for the manga, probably to the current chapters, are possible.* At the beginning and through much of the fic, Kise, Aomine, and Kagami will have one-sided feelings for Kuroko. My OTP in KnB is Kagami x Kuroko, but I like Kise x Kuroko and Aomine x Kuroko as well. As I have told several people who know my love for Reborn, I see Kuroko like I see Tsuna - while I have an uber fav pairing (HibariTsuna in Reborn), Tsuna just goes with EVERYONE and Kuroko totally does too. I am leaning toward writing 3 separate endings to give each boy their HEA. Haven't decided yet. This won't be a long fic, though, just a few parts. More Notes at the end.
It started with a phone call.
The electronic, trilling ring sounded abnormally loud as it echoed through the otherwise silent room. Glimmering streams of gold peeked through the fluttering curtains, falling on the motionless form that lay swathed toe to ear in blankets on the bed. As the noise penetrated his sleep, he stirred, lifting his head groggily in momentary disorientation. At the movement, the bright, morning sunshine glinted off his pale hair, rendering the light-colored locks almost silver in the clean, pure light. Reaching out, he fumbled clumsily along his bedside table until he found the source of the annoying noise. Clicking a button, he held the phone to his ear and spoke.
"Hello," he mumbled, voice husky with drowsiness.
"Kur-o-ko-cchi!" the person on the end responded with blaring cheerfulness.
"Kise-kun," Kuroko Tetsuya acknowledged with a raspy whisper, still trying to rouse himself to complete wakefulness, "what time is it?"
"Six-thirty," Kise Ryouta answered happily. He then he paused and questioned in a slightly more subdued tone, "Were you asleep?"
"Yes," Kuroko answered while blearily looking at his own nearby alarm clock to verify that, yes, it was indeed only six-thirty. In the morning. On a Sunday. He started to politely inform Kise that his friend was calling entirely too early, but Kise spoke first.
There was an audible gulp from the other side, and Kise's breath hitched a little. The words were soft and low as he asked, "Hey, Kurokocchi, what are you wearing?"
"Goodbye, Kise-kun, I'm hanging up now," Kuroko's quite response was immediate, almost before Kise had even finished.
"Wait! Wait! I was just joking," Kise laughed, though there might have been a hint of something else under that laughter.
"You know I am not good with jokes," Kuroko admonished quietly.
"Sorry, sorry! I certainly don't want to make Kurokocchi mad at me, especially not when I am calling to ask for help."
Realizing he most likely would not be able to resume his slumber any time soon, Kuroko sat up. With one lingering, longing glance at his pillow, he pushed back his blankets and swung his bare legs over the side of his bed. Standing up, he arched his back with a satisfying stretch.
"What kind of help do you need this early on a Sunday morning?" The slight inflection he gave to the word "early" demonstrated the fact he definitely was annoyed at having been woken up before he was ready.
"Nooo, please don't be angry with me!" Kise sobbed dramatically.
Kuroko pulled the phone from his ear with a small sigh and waited for the wailing to pass. "Kise-kun," he said patiently when the crying had tapered to sniffles, "what did you need?"
The remaining tears dried up immediately, almost as if they had never been, and Kise answered eagerly, his words fairly dripping with a mixture of anticipation and mischievousness.
"Well, you see Kurokocchi, it's like this. I need…"
An hour and a half later, Kuroko made his way to a nearby park. Spring was in full bloom, painting the landscape with vivid, colorful brushstrokes. The flowers' sweet smell accompanied the lush, fresh scent of grass and drifted lazily on the gradually warming air. Birds chirped melodically from their perches in the bright, green trees, creating a harmonic duo with the insects that hummed happily around the blossoms on the ground. Kuroko stopped walking. Tilting his head back, he closed his eyes, temporarily basking in the peaceful beauty of his surroundings. This moment, with the sun bathing his face in warm, comforting light and with nature singing so sweetly in his ears, was enough to earn Kise some forgiveness for waking him up.
What Kuroko didn't know was how perfect the calm yet dazzling environment suited him. He stood there motionlessly, a small, pale and slender figure, drinking in the sun and the sounds. He might have been mistaken for a forest sprite of old were it not for his modern clothing (jeans, red and black striped shirt, with a pale blue shirt layered over it but unbuttoned). The same light breeze that carried the honeyed fragrance of the flowers suddenly washed over him. It danced through his hair and ruffled the loose, outer shirt he wore. A smile of happiness, so rare, so charming, so perfect, curved his lips. Kuroko couldn't have imagined how enchanting he appeared at that instant. He was guy after all, and one that never stood out in the crowd. However, three sets of eyes, at opposite corners of the park, noticed him. They always noticed him. And now watching this one, brief, magical moment, the owner of each pair felt varying degrees of yearning, confusion, regret, and simple joy as they gazed at the diminutive (by their standards) yet unwaveringly strong person who had changed each of their lives in ways they were still learning.
Kise was the first to reach him. After all, he had been expecting Kuroko and had known from which direction the other teen would arrive.
"Kurokocchi!" he yelled enthusiastically, his already handsome face lit with affection and pleasure as he ran up to Kuroko. Throwing his arms around the smaller male, he hugged Kuroko with happy exuberance. Breathing in the oh-so-familiar scent, he closed his eyes and wished he could keep Kuroko to himself like this forever. For all his playfulness, Kise Ryouta actually turned quite serious when it came to three things: basketball, his job, and Kuroko Tetsuya. Not that Kuroko ever got the hint, and Kise was too scared to really push the boundaries to open his former teammate's eyes. He didn't want to risk losing Kuroko completely. Better to remain a friend than to be cut out of his life forever. Besides, there were also two other, very large hindrances in the way. One who knew both his own and Kise's true feelings, but never stepped over the line to talk about it. The other was just as dense and clueless as Kuroko, both about his own emotions and everyone else's.
For his part, Kuroko found it a bit hard to breathe with his nose smashed into Kise's chest.
"Kise-kun," he tried to get the other's attention, but his voice was muffled by Kise's body.
"I'm so happy you came!" Kise continued excitedly. "It has been ages since the last time I saw you."
That was an exaggeration, but Kuroko couldn't point it with his mouth covered as it was. He started tapping on Kise's shoulder, hoping the taller man would get the hint, but he needn't have worried because he was abruptly separated from Kise.
"Bastard, can't you see Tetsu doesn't like that," Aomine Daiki growled angrily. He had been the one to pull Kise away, and now he held the blond by the scruff of the expensive blue shirt he wore. Aomine glared into Kise's honey-colored eyes and shook him for good measure.
"Aominecchi, so mean!" Kise whined and tried to pull away from Aomine's vice-like grip.
"You're annoying. Shut up," Aomine grunted and flung Kise away with a quick flick of his hand. "Yo, Tetsu," he walked closer and smiled down at Kuroko, "how you been?"
"Hello, Aomine-kun," Kuroko replied, his blue eyes wide and clear while he spoke, "I have been well, thank you for asking. And you, have you been doing well? "
For an instant, Aomine was lost in those crystal blue depths, but he quickly flashed a smile and lifted a shoulder nonchalantly, "Eh, other than Satsuki annoying the crap out of me, everything's okay."
Kuroko's mouth tilted up ever so slightly. "Momoi-san would be sad to hear you say that about her."
Aomine just shrugged again, "She'd get over it. I have said worse to her face."
"That's not very nice," Kuroko admonished.
Aomine couldn't rebut that statement because Kise appeared beside Kuroko and draped his arm over the shorter male's shoulder.
"Hey, I'm still here you know. It's not nice to just ignore me," Kise smiled pleasantly but his eyes were issuing a challenge as they locked with Aomine's.
Darting a glance to where Kise's hand was resting casually against Kuroko's chest, Aomine's own eyes narrowed ever so slightly. Meeting Kise's gaze again, he acknowledged the challenge but the fierce look he shot the blond declared this was one fight he didn't intend to lose. Ever. Through his mistaken pride, arrogance, and unwillingness to let Kuroko help him when he had been at that low, low point, he had already lost what was important to him once. He would be damned if he let it happen again. Kuroko might not recognize or even welcome romantic attention right now, especially from a male friend, but Aomine sure as hell wasn't going to let Kise slip in with his harmless, cheerful flirting and make a move. There was already one pain-in-the-ass taking the spot next to Kuroko that used to belong to him.
Though it was his fault, Aomine still couldn't help but seethe with jealous rage and unquenchable envy every time he saw Kuroko with that red-headed idiot, Kagami. What was even more worrisome, Aomine had the uneasy feeling Kagami had started to develop the same sort of feelings for Kuroko that he had. The only consolation Aomine could take was that the dumb ass was too stupid to realize it, and probably wouldn't as long as nothing (or no one) triggered his awareness. Still, Kagami was the biggest threat to Aomine because of the simple fact he got to be with Kuroko day in and out. More than anyone, Aomine knew how kind, compassionate, and loyal Kuroko was. If Kagami did recognize his own feelings and confessed, would Kuroko's very nature cause him to respond in kind? The thought sat like a stone in the pit of his stomach.
"Aomine-kun?" Kuroko's soft voice questioning, causing Aomine to snap out of his depressing thoughts. He was afraid that he might have been making some sort of odd expression, so he smiled yet again.
"It's nothing, I just wondered why you called me here this morning, especially since Kise is here. You said you needed my help with something, so I came, but you didn't say what you needed."
Kuroko hesitated and actually looked a bit guilty. Most people might not recognize that Kuroko's expression had changed at all, the movement was so subtle, but Aomine hadn't been by his side for three years without learning how to read his friend.
"Alright, Tetsu, spill. Why did you call me out this morning?" there was a whiff of warning in his tone that the answer better be one he liked.
"That's what I want to know," a new voice, deep and brimming with aggravation, spoke from behind Aomine's right shoulder. Normally, no one would have been able to sneak up on him like that, but with his mind all scattered as it had been, he hadn't heard or felt the other's approach.
Whipping his head around, he eyed the newcomer with thinly veiled hostility, "What are you doing here?"
"Bastard, don't be stealing my lines. What are you and Pretty Boy over there doing here? Kuroko didn't tell me you guys would be here when he called me this morning."
"Kagami-kun," Kuroko slipped out from under Kise's arm and approached the tall, red-head with an almost apologetic air. "I'm sorry for making you get out so early. Thank you for coming."
Kuroko gave a light bow when finished. Kagami Taiga, Kuroko's current partner, his current light, glanced at the scene before him and his right eyebrow twitched as a threatening smile cracked his face. Thrusting out one large, powerful hand, he gripped Kuroko's head at the crown and squeezed.
"If apologizes were enough, we wouldn't need the police," he rumbled.
"Ow, that hurts," Kuroko complained quietly.
Kagami eased up on his grip, but kept his hand on Kuroko's hair. Exerting just enough gentle force to tilt the other teen's head back, he captured those Husky-like eyes and demanded answers with his own.
"Well, care to tell me what's going on and why I need to be here in some park at such an ungodly hour on a Sunday morning?"
He could see Kuroko weighing what to say. That only angered him more, though admittedly his curiosity was intrigued a little. Kagami didn't know why he had agreed to meet Kuroko instead of telling his teammate to shove it after Kuroko woke him up from a pretty awesome dream where he had been standing at the top of the NBA finals. For some odd reason he couldn't pinpoint, Kagami had experienced a quick stab of happiness when Kuroko said he needed Kagami's help. Kuroko seemed so aloof at times, and while Kagami wasn't one for trite sentimentality, it was actually kind of nice to think Kuroko wanted to rely on him for something. Because, hadn't Kuroko been propping him up and helping him succeed all this time? Kagami had almost gagged at his own, cloying thoughts but he swept them away. While he wouldn't admit it out loud, he considered Kuroko a friend. A good one. It was only natural to help friends in need. And, if his eyes lingered too long on the white expanse of Kuroko's neck, the slim bend of his thigh, the round and slender curve of his backside, well Kagami had told himself that he was just looking over Kuroko's body to ensure he stayed healthy. The short teen didn't eat enough, not nearly enough, to keep a bird alive. It was like wind could just up and blow the guy away if Kagami didn't keep his eyes on Kuroko all the time.
"Kagami-kun, could you let go of my head, please? My neck is starting to ache," Kuroko's calm, clear voice made Kagami realize he had been slowly pushing Kuroko's head back while he had been leaning over Kuroko's smaller form.
Jerking his hand back like it had caught fire, Kagami felt his face heat and knew the flush on it was probably visible. Damn his red-head's complexion! He glanced over to find Kise and Aomine now standing side by side, both giving him dark, speculative looks. What the hell was their problem? Man, they really knew how to get on his nerves, these Generation of Miracles bastards. Glaring back, he refused to back down from whatever fight they were trying to start. Let them bring it. He had beaten them both before, he could do it again. Besides, Kuroko had chosen him, came the smug thought. Then he winced inwardly and wondered where the thought had come from and why it even mattered. Damn, getting up this early on a Sunday really was screwing with his brain.
Taking a step back, he crossed his arms and arranged a scowl on his face. "Enough, what the hell is going on here, Kuroko? Spit it out."
Kuroko seemed to steel himself for something. He straightened and took a deep breath.
"Kagami-kun, Aomine-kun," he darted a glance over at the dark-haired young man who had been watching their exchange with anger and jealousy, "I called you both here because I, well, Kise-kun that is needs help and I—."
"What Kurokocchi is trying to say," Kise jumped in with a wide, bright smile, "is that my agency is doing a photo-shoot for a name brand sneaker and it's going to be in this park today. At the basketball court at the other end, to be exact. They asked me to find a few guys to wear the shoes and play a little game. So, I asked Kurokocchi to come and I also persuaded him to call you two. "
"Huh?" Kagami and Aomine blurted out in unison.
Kise glanced back and forth between them, and his grin took on a hint of deviltry. Opening his arms wide, he gave a little giggle and said, "Congratulations, you are both professional models for the day."
Author's Note Extended: Per usual, unbeta'd. If you find mistakes, kindly, gently point them out and I will fix them. Thank you for reading my first attempt at KnB. Hope it doesn't suck. I was hesitant about posting this here b/c of the changes (or rather the enforcement of) the M policy that was always kind of vague. I haven't updated my other stories both for this reason and because for the last few months I was really ill and then I tore my calf muscle and was on crutches. None of that has been conducive to writing. Oh, well. We will see what happens.