It was the end of another long and strenuous practice. With basketballs still littered about the court, Akashi assigned clean-up duty to Kise and Kuroko, allowing the rest of their teammates to pack up, get changed, and go home. Kise didn't mind, though. Well, he would have minded if he had been paired up with Midorima or Murasakibara, but not Kuroko.
Picking up one of the basketballs and passing it over to Kuroko, who was just rolling out the basketball rack, Kise perked up and said, "Hey, Kurokocchi! Christmas is coming up soon, right?"
Kuroko caught the ball, dribbling it once or twice to check its air pressure before replying, "If three weeks is soon by your definition, then yes, I suppose it is soon. Why?"
Kise sighed amusedly and shook his head. "Because I want to ask you what you want as a present, of course-ssu!" Joining Kuroko over by the rack, another basketball in hand, he added, "We've been going out for quite some time now, and I want my present for you to be perfect."
Kuroko blinked and accepted the ball, gingerly placing it next to the first one. "You've just contradicted yourself, Kise-kun."
"Eh?" Kise gasped, taken aback. "How so?"
"You just said that Christmas is soon, when it is three weeks away. Then, you said that we have been dating for a long time, when again, it has only been three weeks. Kise-kun, what exactly is your understanding of the length of time?" Kuroko, of course, was as blunt as ever.
"How cruel!" Kise whined. "Here I am, asking Kurokocchi what he wants for Christmas out of the kindness of my heart, and now he's calling me stupid! Honestly, Kurokocchi, just tell me what it is that you want for Christmas!"
Kise's eyes widened. "A dog?" he questioned in repetition. He hadn't known that Kuroko liked animals. Then again, he could vaguely remember how his teammate had lagged behind during the furry creature exhibit, when their Biology class had taken a field trip to the zoo at the beginning of the school year.
With a nod, Kuroko added, "However, I'm grateful for every gift that I receive."
Kise scratched the back of his head. He would be lying to himself if he said that he wasn't a little confused. Was Kuroko being serious just now, or was he being sarcastic? Regardless, he wasn't going to question it and decided that it would be best to finish gathering up the basketballs from practice.
Just as he was about to set out on his task, Kise heard Kuroko speak up and say, "Kise-kun."
Turning back to face him, Kise gave a small, "Hmm?" as a response.
"What do you want for Christmas?" Kuroko asked, his deadpan stare making Kise feel embarrassed for the both of them.
Piping up and pounding a fist to his chest, Kise declared, "All I could ever want for Christmas is to be able to spend it with Kurokocchi!"
"You're an idiot," Kuroko replied.
"Hey!" Kise shot back defensively. It was then that he noticed a faint smile adoring Kuroko's mouth, pulling at his lips in a fashion that was ever so rare.
With a soft chuckle, Kise couldn't help himself from smiling, too.
"Well! I'll see you tomorrow, Kurokocchi!" Kise said in parting. The two had reached the crossroads where their paths would diverge.
"See you tomorrow," Kuroko agreed, offering Kise a gentle nod.
Just as Kise was about to continue walking, he gasped. "Oh, wait-ssu! Kurokocchi, before I forget!" he quickly stated in remembrance.
Kuroko stopped. "Yes?"
"I really wasn't kidding about what I wanted for Christmas earlier. I want to spend the holiday with you, so come over to my house on Christmas Eve, okay? Don't make any other plans!"
With another curt nod, Kuroko began to walk his separate way, and after a few moments of idly watching him do so, Kise did the same.
Walking into the fresh and open air of the town, Kise took a deep breath and shook his head of the sparkles and the glitter that had settled into his hair. He had just finished a Christmas special photo shoot where the photographers were intent on making "the essence of Christmas shine as brightly as possible," or so they put it. All Kise knew was that he would be scrubbing glitter off of his body for the next three days, probably.
Kise pulled at his scarf and sighed peacefully. Just as he had suspected, the town was decorated so beautifully. Lights were wrapped around trees for as far as the eye could see, and ribbons made the buildings harbor a sense of warmth and comfort. It was no wonder that Christmas was considered to be one of the happiest times of the year.
'While I'm here,' Kise thought, 'I might as well shop for Kurokocchi's Christmas present.'
A few weeks had passed now, and Kise had put many a' night of thought into what to buy his teammate/covert boyfriend, but every time he tried to come up with something, an answer eluded him.
Gazing into the showcase window of one of the shoppes, staring at all of the hand-carved toys and porcelain dolls that were displayed just beyond his view, Kise extended his fingers and pressed them upon the glass. "What am I going to do…?" he asked himself aloud.
"Honestly, Kurokocchi, just tell me what it is that you want for Christmas!"
"How am I going to be able to afford to buy him a dog? Breeders don't come cheap these days…" Kise groaned miserably. He really did want to make Kuroko happy, but he just didn't see how it was going to be possible.
He continued to stroll through the town, looking into each of the windows for some sort of idea as to what he should purchase. He would also stop at a vendor here and there to buy a few festive snacks. Kise laughed at himself for that. "I feel like Murasakicchi," he would giggle after handing each of the sellers their payment.
The sun had fully set now, illuminating the town in a whole new perspective. The streets were far more crowded than they had been a few hours ago, and Kise felt as if he should just give up and head home. Kuroko liked books, right? Maybe he would just settle on getting him one and call it a day.
That's when he heard it.
Faint, high-pitched cries of whimpering and scratching coming from somewhere nearby. His heart had almost skipped a beat when a few barks were fitted into the mixture of noise.
Intent on seeking out the source of the sound, Kise poked his head above and below the focal range of most people. It was when he was ducked down to the latter that he saw a small girl, probably about eight or nine years of age, tending over a cardboard box.
"Please stop barking," she said nervously, placing her hands out as if begging.
Excusing himself from the sea of citizens, Kise walked over to where the girl stood and peeked over her shoulder. His eyes widened.
There, inside of that cardboard box, was a litter of puppies, bounding about and yapping at those that passed by.
The little girl quickly noticed that Kise was behind her and moved out of the way. "I'm sorry, sir," she apologized. "They're usually more behaved than this. All of the people must be making them excited."
Kise shook his head and squatted down to get a closer look at the lot of puppies. "There's no need to apologize for youth," he said. "They look so young."
"They are young!" the girl affirmed. "My dog gave birth to them six weeks ago. We were so surprised when she had so many…"
Quickly counting the puppies, Kise determined that there were seven of them in total.
"They're very healthy, too, sir! All of them are! Even Runt-kun," she added. "However, none of them have gotten their shots yet. My mommy told me to make sure I told the people that were interested in taking them that."
"Taking?" Kise questioned. "Are you saying that you're giving them away for free?"
The little girl nodded. "Mommy said that it wouldn't be right to sell puppies that aren't vaccinated, so that's why we're giving them to good homes and to good people that will pay for their shots."
Kise made a noise of understanding. From his knowledge, puppy vaccinations didn't come cheap, either. About 8,000 yen out of pocket, most likely. Still, he continued to gaze upon the puppies with wonder.
"What breed are they?"
"Alaskan Malamutes. They're good dogs! Mishka is the name of my doggy. She's really sweet and loves to be brushed!" the girl answered.
"Is there a reason why you're giving these puppies away, then?"
The girl nodded, this time a bit more solemn. "My mommy and I live together in a small apartment just outside of this town. Mishka is already really big, so having seven other Mishkas running around would be impossible. Our landlord wouldn't allow it."
"I see," Kise responded. His tone had been vaguely distant as he continued to watch all of the puppies squirming about. One caught his eyes more than the others, however, and that was the puppy that had been termed as the runt. Kise couldn't suppress a giggle as he watched the little guy fight against his brothers and sisters to try and peer over the box's edge.
"Do you mind if I hold one of them?" Kise questioned, figuring that he had better ask for permission before assuming that something like that would be okay.
"Go ahead! But be careful. They might try to lick your face," the little girl warned.
With a gentle nod, Kise carefully fit his hands into the box. Eager snouts began to sniff at the foreign fingers as they scooped up the runt. Kise held the puppy close to his chest, smiling at him and poking his noise. He laughed when the dog had snorted, shaking his head in disapproval of the gesture.
"You're cute," Kise cooed softly.
The puppy gazed up at him, wearing a pair of vacant blue eyes—just like a certain someone else that Kise knew. It was pointless. He was already attached and no matter how many times he told himself that he was making an impulse decision, Kise said to the girl, "Would you mind if I took this little guy home with me? I know the perfect home for him."
The girl smiled and clapped her hands together. "Oh, I'm so glad that you're going to take Runt-kun! I was afraid that no one would want to keep him, because he's a lot smaller than the others." She tilted her head to the side. "Are you going to give him as a Christmas present to somebody?"
With a swift finger pressed to his lips, Kise shushed the little girl. "Come now, it's a secret-ssu!"
The girl slapped both hands over her mouth and giggled. "Your secret is safe with me, sir!"
Readjusting the puppy within his arms, Kise waved goodbye to each of the other little dogs before thanking the girl and waving goodbye to her, as well.
Kise's mother was anything but impressed, when her son had arrived home two hours past curfew with a dog scampering around beside his feet.
"It's only for a week, Mom," Kise assured her. "Just until Christmas Eve!"
"I don't know, Ryouta-kun…" she sighed. "You know that I have allergies."
"I know, I know, but Mom, he's not for me! He's for Kurokocchi!"
Kise's mother blinked in surprise. "Kuroko-kun?"
Kise nodded and said, "Kurokocchi said that he wanted a dog for Christmas, and when I was roaming around the town after my photo shoot, I saw this little girl that was giving away all of these puppies for free! She said that they still need to get their shots and stuff, but with the money that I made from the shoot, I can pay for it myself-ssu! I promise, Mom, please. This is very important to me…"
Kise's mother had known that her son was always very passionate about certain things, but she had never seen him this passionate about anything other than basketball and his modeling jobs. "Are you sure that this is what you want to do, Ryouta-kun? I know you've told me that you and Kuroko-kun have started dating, but don't you think it's a little early to be giving him something so—"
"I love him, Mom," Kise interrupted. The strength in his voice had startled even himself. "I just want to make him happy…"
Silence loomed in the air for quite some time. It was during that time that Kise's mother could vaguely recall her own husband declaring his love for her at an early stage of their dating, as well. Such a memory forced a small smile to spread across her lips. "You're just like your father, you know that, Ryouta-kun?"
Kise scratched the back of his head modestly and said, "Is that so-ssu? Haha…"
Watching the perky puppy as it continued to race about, Kise's mother crossed her arms and inhaled a deep breath. "If it's only for a week, then I guess I don't have a problem with it. You're going to have to take care of scheduling a veterinary appointment by yourself, though. You're also going to have to buy his food for the week and make sure that you take him outside frequently, because I hardly doubt that he's trained yet. Also, you'll have to keep him in your room at all times, because of my allergies. And—"
"Oh, thank you, Mom!" Kise cheered, wrapping his arms tightly around his mother's shoulders. This had excited the little puppy even more and he barked happily up at the two of them.
Closing her eyes and returning the embrace, Kise's mother concluded, "And make sure you tell Kuroko-kun to have a Merry Christmas from me, okay?"
"Okay, I promise! Thank you so much, Mom! Thank you, thank you! Come on, little guy, let's go up to my room!" Kise chirped, waving his hand for the little puppy to jump into his arms.
Just as Kise was ascending the stairs, his father was descending them.
"Ryouta-kun, is that what I think it—"
"Can't talk now, Dad! Ask Mom!" Kise replied as he hurriedly made his way to his bedroom.
At the bottom of the stairs, Kise's father wore a rather perplexed expression, much to his wife's amusement.
"Why does our son have a dog?" he asked.
Stepping forward, Kise's mother extended her arms to rub at her husband's shoulders, saying, "Let's just say that Ryouta-kun is very much in love, right now."
For the remainder of the week, Kise went about making sure that the puppy didn't have too many accidents in his bedroom and that he was eating properly. Everything about the situation was just so exciting that Kise had almost blurted out his surprise for Kuroko during one of their basketball practices, but luckily he was able to refrain.
It was the afternoon before Christmas Eve that Kise had brought the puppy to the vet. He knew that the little guy wouldn't like getting his shots, but when he began to whimper and whine, Kise couldn't help but feel bad for him.
"Do I have to do anything special now that he's gotten the shots-ssu?" Kise asked. "Is he going to need extra rest, or something like that?"
"Nope! He'll be as fit as a fiddle in a few minutes. Right now, he's just a little angry at me for poking him with sharp things," the doctor chuckled.
Kise was happy to hear that. After all, tomorrow was the day that he would be handing the dog over into Kuroko's care. He wouldn't have wanted to give him a puppy that was under the weather.
On the night of Christmas Eve, Kise waved goodbye to his parents as they pulled out of the drive way and drove off down the street. Christmas Eve was one of the only nights that both of his parents had off from work, so of course they would grasp the opportunity to have a special date night together. Kise wasn't complaining, of course. After all, he had a date tonight, too.
Cleaning up the living room and making his house look a tad more presentable, Kise cleared away magazines and stacked pillows on top of pillows to make the sofa appear more luscious.
It was then that the soft knocking on his front door made Kise jump with excitement. Rushing over to the entryway, he called out, "Who is it?"
A gentle, "It's me," was the response he was given.
Opening the door, Kise didn't even hesitate to throw his arms around Kuroko, hugging him tightly and cheering, "Merry Christmas, Kurokocchi!"
Kuroko shifted uncomfortably in Kise's hold and said, "Merry Christmas, but you're hurting me, Kise-kun."
Backing away and apologizing, Kise said, "I'm sorry-ssu. I've just missed you so much!"
"It's only been a day, Kise-kun. We had classes together yesterday," Kuroko replied, inviting himself into Kise's home. Slipping off his shoes and carefully placing them off to the side, Kuroko then went about taking off his coat and unwinding his scarf.
Closing the door and locking it tight, Kise asked, "Has it really only been a day? It feels much longer than that, to me." He guided Kuroko into the living room where the two of them sat down onto the sofa.
Kise placed his hands onto his knees, and Kuroko merely sat with his arms by his side. Somehow, this seemed more awkward than Kise had intended for it to be.
"Do you want anything to eat or drink, Kurokocchi?" Kise asked, looking over to his teammate with an expectant expression.
"No, thank you. I ate dinner before I came here."
"Oh, I see." Again, there was silence.
Surprisingly, Kuroko was the one to break it.
Perking up instantly, Kise said, "Y-yeah?"
"If you don't mind, I'd like to give you your present now."
Kise blinked in confusion. "My what? But I told you, Kurokocchi, that all I wanted for Christmas was—"
"That's hardly a gift, Kise-kun," Kuroko interrupted. He got up from the couch and walked back toward the entryway. Fishing his hand into the pocket of his coat, Kuroko pulled out a small box that was wrapped somewhat sloppily.
Walking it back over to Kise, Kuroko extended his hand forward, instructing for him to take the gift.
Kise looked at the size of the box with devious eyes. "What is this, Kurokocchi?" he purred. "Is it an engagement ring?"
"Don't say things like that, Kise-kun. It's bothersome."
"Fine," Kise sighed in defeat. He unwrapped the paper carefully, making sure not to seem too excited, even though, really, he was brimming with the emotion. Crumpling up and throwing the paper off to the side, Kise carefully lifted the top lid of the box to reveal a thin bed of cotton. Lifting that as well, Kise gasped.
"Oh, Kurokocchi…" he breathed, looking up to his teammate in utter shock. "You really didn't have to do this…"
Kuroko had bought him a brand new, sterling silver hoop earring. Kise had been complaining how the earring that he wore now was made of nickel and that it was itchy and irritable, so for Kuroko to have taken his discomfort into consideration, Kise really couldn't put his gratitude into words.
"I wanted to, Kise-kun," Kuroko said. "Now, your ear will feel better."
Placing the box down beside his leg, Kise reached over to give Kuroko a quick hug. "Thank you, Kurokocchi. Really, thank you so much-ssu."
Kuroko's eyes diverted downward as he patted Kise's shoulder. "You're welcome."
Pulling away, Kise's own eyes lit up with pure excitement. "I have my present for you, too! Let me go get it! Hold on!"
Kuroko gave Kise an unsure expression, but nodded nevertheless. Something about the high level of Kise's happiness made Kuroko feel a bit uneasy.
Trotting off into the other room, Kise quickly grabbed a box, this one being larger than Kuroko's, but still small in comparison to most box sizes. His mother had helped him wrap it the night before by holding down the paper where it needed to be taped and sticking her thumb onto the ribbon for tying.
Carrying the box back over to Kuroko, Kise wore the brightest of smiles as he held it out for Kuroko to take. "Here you go! Merry Christmas, Kurokocchi!"
Kuroko felt a bit nervous holding such a beautifully wrapped box. It had put his present's appearance to shame. With careful fingers, he slowly began to undo the ribbon, allowing it to fall limply at all sides of the box. Next came the paper. Finding where tape met tape, Kuroko began to rip it, again slowly, but this time with a bit more vigor.
Once fully unwrapped, Kuroko noticed that the box resembled a gift box for clothing. Did Kise buy him…clothes? Lifting up the thin lid of the box, Kuroko was presented with layers of vibrantly colored tissue paper. Digging through, his fingers brushed up against something hard. Grabbing the mysterious object, he pulled it free from its rainbow paradise.
"Dog ears…?" Kuroko asked, as he inspected them. They looked hand-made, like two pieces of folded up felt had been glued to the top of a girl's headband.
"That's right-ssu!" Kise giggled. "You said that you wanted a dog for Christmas, so I'm going to be your dog!"
"Kise-kun, I don't—"
"Come on, Kurokocchi! Put them on me!" Kise insisted.
Kuroko sighed amusedly, doing as he was told. He placed the headband carefully onto Kise's head, and before he knew it, he was tackled down onto the couch with pinned wrists.
"Kise-kun, what are you doing—?"
"Ruff, ruff-ssu!" Kise barked, panting playfully. "I'm your dog-ssu! Ruff!" He began to sniff Kuroko's face, much like a dog would, and licked at his cheeks.
"Kise-kun, stop that," Kuroko protested, but it was hardly a struggle, seeing as a humored smile was brimming at his lips.
"Ruff! I'm not listening-ssu! Ruff, ruff!" Kise laughed, licking the tip of Kuroko's nose.
Kise and Kuroko froze in unison.
"That bark just now, it sounded very real."
With a soft smile, Kise sighed and stood up from the couch. He helped Kuroko get up, as well. "Follow me, Kurokocchi," he instructed and grabbed Kuroko's hand.
Guiding his teammate up the steps toward his bedroom was like one of the most thrilling, yet bone-chilling things that he had ever felt. Of course he was excited to give Kuroko his official present, but what if Kise was playing with fire here and Kuroko really hadn't wanted a dog for Christmas. Well, he was about to find out.
Standing before his bedroom door, Kise swallowed at the back of his throat and placed his hand onto the doorknob. Twisting it and pushing the door open, it was a matter of moments before Kise knew that he had made the right decision.
The look of absolute shock that plastered Kuroko's face as the bouncy little puppy began jumping at his legs for attention was so priceless that Kise had wished he could have taken a picture of it.
"That bark sounded real, because it was real," Kise chuckled, leaning a hand onto his doorframe. "Merry Christmas, Kurokocchi."
Kise had never seen Kuroko like this before. He was so stunned that it was as if his body had frozen in time. That phase soon passed, however, and Kuroko was now looking at Kise with an expression of blissful expectation.
"Kise-kun, are you saying that this dog is mine?"
"One-hundred percent-ssu! It's what you wanted, right?"
Kuroko had been caught in such unawares that he couldn't even manage a response. Instead, he bent down and lifted the puppy into his arms.
"Does she have a name?"
"It's a boy-ssu, and no, of course not! That would be mean of me to name your present, Kurokocchi! This entire week, I've refrained from calling the little guy anything, so that he wouldn't get used to one particular thing."
"You've had him for a week?" Kuroko asked.
Kise scratched the back of his head. "Well, yeah! I had to keep it a secret, though, so that's why I didn't tell you."
Kuroko looked down at the puppy in his arms, jolting a bit when it began to lick his cheek just like Kise had.
"See, Kurokocchi? I was being authentic!" he joked.
Kuroko, as not-so-rare as it was this evening, smiled and sighed, "You were being ridiculous."
Folding his arms, Kise pouted and turned his gaze away from Kuroko in a pretend way of being angry. Again, this amused Kuroko thoroughly. Placing the dog back down onto its hunches, Kuroko stepped over to where Kise stood and pressed a light kiss to his cheek.
"Thank you, Kise-kun. I never in a million years would have thought that you would actually give me a dog for Christmas."
Kise's eyes were wide and bubbling with happy tears. "That's what makes Christmas so special, right? You get things that you're not expecting and it makes you so happy." Pulling Kuroko into a warm embrace, Kise burrowed his face into Kuroko's shoulder before adding, "Kurokocchi, you make me so happy."
It took Kuroko a short while to submit into the hug, but once he did, he wrapped his arms around the base of Kise's back and whole-heartedly leaned into the embrace. "Even though Kise-kun can be annoying sometimes, he makes me happy, too. And tonight, he's made me the happiest person in the world."
"Why did you choose this one instead of the others?" Kuroko asked, taking a small sip of his vanilla eggnog. He was referring to the puppy that running rampant around the household, as they spoke.
With a nervous chuckle, Kise said, "Because I thought he reminded me of you, Kurokocchi. His eyes look a lot like yours do."
With another sip, this one a bit more generous, Kuroko questioned, "If you could name him anything in the world, what would you name the puppy?"
Kise hadn't given much thought into his answer, before replying, "I would name him 'Kurokocchi Number Two'!"
Kuroko shook his head. "That's a bit long."
Kise puckered out his lip pensively, and said, "How about just 'Nigou,' then?"
It was then that the puppy's ears perked up considerably and he barreled over toward Kise. He sat down pleasantly and looked up to both him and Kuroko with an obedient expression.
Exchanging looks of absolute agreement, Kise and Kuroko nodded and spoke their words in unison.
"Nigou it is."
Hello there! Chappy here! :D
Today is a very, very special day! It is my friend Kirei's birthday! :D
Happy birthday, Kirei!
Seeing as KiKuro is one of our mutual OTPs, I was all, "Must...write... KiKuro fluff...for Kirei!"
So this happened. :D
I hope you like it, Kirei! Happy, happy birthday! :D
And as always, thank you to everyone for taking the time to read! This is the longest thing that I have written in quite a while, so I hope you all enjoyed it. :D