Title: Just Ask
Fandom: Kuroko no Basket
Characters: Kise, Kuroko
Rating: G
Words: (+/-) 1314
Summary: Kise and Kuroko decide to have some after-practice bonding time. Or more accurately, Kise decides it.

Kuroko was picking up basketballs when it happened.

For the first time, he was startled by someone - instead of the other way around. It didn't show on his face, but the orange ball in his hands had fallen to the floor and bounced off during that fleeting moment of shock.

Someone had just breathed in his ear.

"Ah, sorry, did I scare you?" The teasing quality of that voice didn't go unnoticed, but Kuroko didn't acknowledge it. No, like a good team player, he went after the wayward ball. "Don't ignore me," insisted the person, snatching the ball before Kuroko could reach it. "How about a little one-on-one, Kurokocchi?"

With that, Kuroko turned his attention to Kise Ryota and considered it. He didn't like to pass up opportunities to play, but this time merited an objective standpoint. Kise had been trying to get him alone for weeks now, and he had finally succeeded.

While Kuroko wasn't adverse to being alone with the newest member of the team, Aomine had been adamant that it never happen. He valued Aomine's opinion a great deal, but even he thought that was going overboard. Kise was nice, fun to be around, and not exactly the fear-inducing kind of person. Surely nothing could go wrong, right?

"Okay," accepted Kuroko. Then he pushed the basketball cart aside and stripped out of his jersey.

It would be hot enough playing in his uniform, let alone the extra layer, and Kise had the advantage of gym clothes. Not that Kise needed another advantage, given how fast the other player was improving, but for some reason the other boy hadn't been in the changing room earlier.

A few minutes into the game and it was already clear who was winning. Kuroko had yet to score, while Kise kept making one amazing shot after another.

Despite that, Kuroko was enjoying himself. Practice like this helped him learn how to properly mark a player and it improved his footwork. It wasn't wasted effort and he refused to think of it as such. In fact, it was Aomine that had drilled that into his head.

When Kise made it to twenty points, Kuroko grabbed the ball out from under the net and held it securely under one arm. "Thanks for the game, Kise-kun, but I have to get home soon." He tossed the ball to Kise and then picked up his jersey. "We can play again tomorrow," he suggested off-handedly, once he had straightened and noticed the dejected look Kise was giving him.

"Promise?" Kise was all smiles in an instant. Kuroko nodded before pulling on his jacket and getting back to his abandoned clean-up duty. He still had the cart to put away. Everything else had been taken care of by the third-string players. When he returned from the equipment room, he wasn't expecting the blonde to still be there - in uniform, at last, but very much still in the gym and waiting.

"Is something wrong, Kise-kun?" It couldn't hurt to ask.

"I was hoping I could walk you home," Kise admitted sheepishly, rubbing at the back of his neck and he seemed - embarrassed, maybe? "If that's not too weird, or anything."

"Sure," Kuroko shrugged. He didn't need the details and didn't ask for them. Aomine would chide him for that later ("The idiot has a girlfriend, don't you think it's weird he wants to walk you home?"), but it didn't matter. It wasn't like anyone else had offered to walk him home and it would be nice to do something normal - with someone that actually knew he existed, too.

The blonde haired boy beside him lit up. "Great, we can spend more time together!" Kise's smile was infectious; Kuroko couldn't help but let slip a small smile of his own. "Aominecchi's pretty protective of you, ya know?" No, Kuroko did not know and he furrowed his brows together in thought. What did that mean?

He didn't dwell on it, though, because by then they were outside and he had to lock up.

A split second after, Kise's arm was around his shoulders and leading him down the dirt path to the sidewalk. Kuroko started to pull away from the overly affectionate gesture, uncomfortable, but that disappointed look appeared again and Kuroko stopped. It wasn't that bad, he supposed, receiving this kind of friendly attention. Though he drew the line at that.

If Kise leaned a little more on him than necessary, Kuroko ignored it. If blonde hair suddenly brushed against his cheek, he ignored it. If there was suddenly a thumb stroking the back of his neck, Kuroko commented flippantly that it tickled and please stop, but nothing more. It wasn't until a few blocks down that Kise removed his arm.

Kuroko thought that was the end of it and relaxed. A mistake, because not a minute later Kise had grabbed his hand and intertwined their fingers.

He looked to the blonde for an answer, his gaze pointedly shifting from their interlocked hands to Kise, but the response he got was simply, "You have to hold hands when crossing the street."

True, they were at a crosswalk, but that didn't explain why they had to hold hands to get across. Unless Kise was implying he was a child. Kuroko didn't take too kindly to that. As soon as that comparison came to mind, he pulled his hand away and crossed the street while the light was still green. Kise followed after, at a more subdued pace.

A short walk later and Kise admitted aloud, "I'm sorry."

Kuroko shrugged the apologize off like he did most things of that nature. There was nothing to be sorry about, as far as he was concerned. Kise was free to treat him any way he wished, but that didn't mean Kuroko had to reciprocate or even acknowledge it.

But there was one thing he had to make clear. "Please don't treat me like a kid again, Kise-kun. I'm fourteen, not four."

"I know." Kise's head was bowed, blonde bangs obscuring his expression. "I just ... I wanted to ..."

"You made up a stupid reason, when all you had to do was ask?" suggested Kuroko wearily, holding out his hand. "I don't care if you hold my hand, Kise-kun, if it makes you happy." He liked seeing Kise happy and they were teammates. Why shouldn't he trust his teammate not to break his hand?

Kise hesitated and raised his gaze to meet Kuroko's, as if afraid it was some kind of joke. Kuroko wondered what was so surprising about it. He would have let Kise continue with the action before, if not for the tasteless comment. And now that Kise had apologized, it was only fair to make peace as well.

"Kurokocchi ..." Kise trailed off, clearly at a lost. "Are you doing this on purpose?"

Kuroko let his hand fall, the moment gone, and started walking again. "If that's what you think."

"So you are messing with me," accused the blonde, matching Kuroko stride for stride. "Look, what I did was … stupid … and I'm sorry if I offended you, but please don't tease me like that."

"Then don't treat me like a kid," Kuroko replied without missing a beat. "Does that sound like a fair trade, Kise-kun?"

"Sure," agreed Kise, though the playful smile he was sporting could have meant anything.

"Oh, and Kise-kun?"


"I don't joke."