Disclaimer: The only thing I own is the story idea and only some of the witty remarks. I own so little; so please don't steal.

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Kagami found Kuroko again two years later in the middle of campus, sitting on a bench and smoking a cigarette.

He recognized the scent of a Mild Seven, as Himuro had taken to the habit his last year of high school and would often light up in between one-on-ones. "It's relaxing," Himuro had said, and smiled docilely like always. Himuro had been one of the last on Kagami's list of people he could foresee smoking. Kuroko was easily the last on that list. He recovered before Kuroko could spot him and he sat down in the empty spot beside the boy on the bench.

"Kagami," Kuroko said around the cigarette, his eyes widening. It was the only acknowledgement he offered after the two year period and Kagami quietly breathed a sigh of relief at the one instance of familiarity.

"Long time no see," Kagami grinned.

Kuroko took the cigarette out of his mouth and turned it in his fingers thoughtfully before taking another breath. "We thought you dropped out to wander the countryside."

"Nothing so dramatic. My parents thought they missed me so they pulled me out to America after I graduated and after two years they decided they didn't miss me anymore, so I'm back."

"Do you go here now?"

"Registered a week ago. Signed up for classes yesterday." Kuroko stared at him in that memorable way – blank and unreadable. "Is that a Mild Seven?"

"They're called Mevius now."

"When did you start smoking?"

"After we graduated." Kuroko pressed the cigarette onto the pavement at their feet and left it there, sitting back and looking off distantly. Kagami half-expected him to pick it up and dispose of it elsewhere and felt oddly uncomfortable when Kuroko did not. "I'm glad you're back, Kagami-kun."

"Agreed. You've changed a lot, Kuroko."

"Have I?" Kuroko raised an eyebrow and sank deeper into his autumn jacket. "Maybe you just didn't notice me enough."


The upperclassmen's reaction to his return was much more expected. Kuroko's acknowledgement of his return made him doubt he'd left in the first place, with the apathy and dispiritedness of his attitude. Kagami started to notice that the quiet, sarcastic part of Kuroko had progressed much since he last saw him. Kuroko helped himself to the gyoza in the middle of the table as Riko wrapped her arm around Kagami's neck and squeezed.

"Not telling us you left, eh?" she demanded, almost choking him. "Not even bothering to send us mail? Even after we told you our addresses and schools! Why, when even Kuroko didn't know where you were, we'd thought you'd dropped off the face of the earth or something!"

"Sorry," Kagami wheezed.

"We missed you," Kiyoshi said, beaming despite Riko's chokehold turning Kagami's face somewhat blue. "We thought we'd be able to go against you in a few games, you know~! Kuroko took it the hardest. He cried every night after you left, right?"

It was clearly teasing and Kuroko did not rise up to the bait. "Sure," he said, dipping gyoza into the small dish of sauce.

"Sorry this was all we could muster up," Riko said, finally releasing Kagami in the interest of eating. She paid no mind to how he rubbed his neck in discomfort. "We didn't all stay in Tokyo for university." They were able to fit comfortably at a four-person table. "We lost touch with the other first years, to be quite honest, and Mitobe is an enigma. Koganei was busy so we lost our interpreter right there. Izuki went to America, though! Did you see your sempai in America?"

"America isn't the size of a basketball court, coach."

"Still a nut, I see," Riko said, smirking as she pointed her chopsticks at his face. "I'm proud to see some things haven't changed." She did not seem to make this point at anyone in particular. Kagami wondered if the others knew Kuroko smoked now. "Junpei's up north in Hokkaido," she added matter-of-factly before Kagami could dwell on that.

"Junpei," Kagami said, thinking for a moment. "Coach, are you dating–"

"You're slow," Kuroko interrupted, before Riko could speak. His voice tore through their conversation. Riko was speechless for a second. "Kagami-kun has always been dense, so you shouldn't worry about it."

"That's true. I shouldn't have expected anything else."

Kuroko excused himself in the middle of the meal, after having picked at his udon and dabbing his mouth gingerly on a napkin. Kagami listened politely at the conversation between Kiyoshi and Riko about some class they were taking together before leaving the table as well. He found Kuroko standing outside the restaurant, lighting up.

"Do they know?" he asked.

The tip of the cigarette flared and Kuroko slipped the lighter back into his pocket. "It's not taboo to smoke, Kagami-kun," he said, a little exasperatedly. When Kagami stared at him, he looked away and blew a trail of smoke in the air. "Yes, they know. I'd like it if you'd stop treating it like I've killed someone."

"Sorry. But it's just different."

"Time didn't stop for you, Kagami-kun."

"I know." He shoved his hands in his pockets. "I know, but seeing you again, it's like old times, isn't it? It feels like we're back in high–"

"I really thought you left for good," Kuroko cut in again. Kagami was caught again by how before, Kuroko had only announced his presence in a silence and it had often frightened him. Now he was intimidated by how sharp Kuroko sounded, and how he did not wait to speak. Two years could not change someone so dramatically. Kagami wondered if he really did miss these parts of Kuroko's character. "It would have been fine if you told me, but you didn't. I thought you'd left me like Aomine-kun." He took a long, steady drag. "I'm a shadow, you know, it's in my nature…"

Kagami watched the cars drive by on the road and Kuroko smoke. "I'm sorry," he said after a while. "Really."

"I'd already forgiven you for it," Kuroko said, sounding much less tense. "I couldn't be upset at someone who didn't know I was upset with them for two whole years."

"I'm really sorry, I did send you a message…"

"Won't be back for a while, see you later," Kuroko recited, almost spitting the words out. His eyes were tired. "What am I supposed to think about that? You couldn't have said anything about America, could you?" Kuroko brought the cigarette back up to his lips. "I guess I shouldn't have been surprised; you are an idiot after all."

"Yes, yes." Kagami waited until Kuroko rubbed the cigarette butt into the ashtray outside the restaurant door. "Are you still mad at me?"

"No," Kuroko sighed, giving him a shrug. "I guess not. I wish I was." They stood in the light of the doorway. "Maybe I am a little different from high school. I don't think so. You just haven't been around me lately to remember."

"That's true."

Kuroko opened the door for them. "You haven't changed, though, Kagami-kun. But then again, your personality wasn't conducive to change."

"Is that a good thing?" Kagami asked as they made their way back to their table.

Kuroko thought. "It is. For me, at least."


After this, Kagami started seeing Kuroko almost everywhere on campus. He had not lost his ability to slip by the radar undetected, but after seeing Kuroko for the third time at the university bookstore, he figured the fates were telling him that they were not high school acquaintances that would drift apart in college.

"We should grab lunch together," Kagami said when he found himself next to Kuroko at the library.

"Are you sure?" Kuroko asked, flipping leisurely through the stack of notes the student librarians seemed to tote around like mini religious texts. "I'm not too different for you?"

Lunch was nice. Despite his initial shock at meeting Kuroko again - which he supposed would happen to anyone, Kuroko was a character – Kagami was pleased to see that Kuroko still ate as little and teased him for eating too much. Kuroko's study of literature fit him perfectly, and he did sort of fit, now that Kagami thought of it, the image of so-called hipsters who drank expensive coffees and read obscure novels. It fit, in a weird way. When Kagami said he was studying economics, Kuroko laughed.

"Is that so unusual?"

"Not really, on second thought," Kuroko said, covering his mouth to keep from making too much noise. The cafeteria was already full, so it wouldn't have made much difference; still, Kagami wondered what Kuroko's laugh really sounded like, not his amused chuckle or judgmental scoff. "Aomine-kun's studying philosophy, after all."

"Aomine?" Kagami asked, and before Kuroko could say I know, right like Kagami knew he would, rushed in, "Is he here?"

"Yeah. He lives a block from me."

"Wow. Small world. Does he still play basketball?"

Kuroko gave him a look. "Do you still play basketball, Kagami-kun? Stupid question." Kuroko brought Kagami to Aomine's apartment two days later. The latter rubbed his eyes sleepily and nodded in acknowledgement.

"Tetsu, seriously, I have lecture at three and you wake me two hours before, not cool…"

"Aomine!" Kagami said, cheerfully because rival or not, Aomine was a kindred soul. Aomine allowed Kagami to clap him around the back before shaking himself free and grumbling to himself.

"I'll make coffee," Kuroko offered, slipping between the two and squeezing through the door and striding into the apartment authoritatively. Aomine closed the door behind Kagami and shuffled back to his room and threw himself back onto his bed. Kagami followed him and stared at him.

"Go 'way, I'm not talking until I have coffee."

"Not even a 'welcome back'? I thought more of you, Aomine. Did Kuroko tell you?"

Aomine groaned into his pillow. Kagami sank down onto the side of the bed, making it dip and Aomine to drift downward toward him. "I can't believe we're in university together! I mean, I thought Kuroko was strange enough to bump into, but you too…"

"Did you know Kuroko started smoking after you left?" Aomine mumbled into the pillow. Kagami stared at the back of his head. "If he dies of lung cancer, it'll be your fault. I'll kill you for killing Tetsu." He rolled over and yawned sloppily, opening his mouth wide. Kagami could see his uvula. "That said, it's an eyesore to see you again." He sneered.

"Philosophy," Kagami said, and Aomine made a face. "Who would have thought that crude, roughhousing Aomine Daiki would have such a deep, thoughtful streak in him?"

"I think about gender equality and what it means to have society," Aomine sniffed, bringing his knee up to hit Kagami square on the back. "Tetsu!" Kuroko's voice floated into the room as a noncommittal sound. "Where's the coffee?"

"I'm not serving you in your own house," Kuroko called back.

They had two cups of coffee each and Aomine finally got himself ready and presentable for lecture. They followed him to the curb, where he went his separate way to campus and left Kagami and Kuroko in the residential suburbs surrounding the university. "Let me beat you on the court again sometime soon," Aomine called.

"If you're not too busy thinking about Plato," Kagami scoffed. They stood for a moment, watching Aomine's receding figure.

"You could come over, if you'd like," Kuroko suggested.


"You know, for a bit in high school, I had a crush on you."

Kuroko's book dropped out of his hands.

"Funny, right," Kagami continued, his back to the boy as he made sure the margins were correct. "I mean, it's strange, isn't it? Having a crush on a teammate. I thought it would be awkward so I never brought it up. Sorry, wow, I just realized how awkward it is now. But it happened back in high school, so don't worry about it…"

"Are you making fun of me?"

"No?" Kagami turned at accusatory tone. Kuroko was glaring at him, his face pink. "What's wrong?"

"You're meaning to say…all this time…you thought…"

Kagami gaped at him, before making a face and running a hand through his hair. "I really didn't mean to make things awkward, especially since we're friends again, but it was really just a high school thing, Kuroko, don't worry about it, I don't think that way about–"

"So you like the high school me," Kuroko shortened, his tone suddenly icy.

"Uh, if you put it that way…I mean, you could put it that way…"

"Who are you really attracted to? The innocent me you thought you knew in high school who spent all my time in the library and went home with you or the dirty me now, because I smoke and swear more than before just because you never bothered to really consider me at all?"

"Kuroko, settle down. What are you so upset about? I never said I was attracted to you now–"

"Get out of my apartment!" Kagami had been the target of several flurries of Kuroko's belongings before, but there was a sudden urgency that made him rise in hurry. Sweeping his computer and computer cord up in his arms, he ducked his head to avoid the corner of a hardcover book and swerved to avoid crashing into the table. "I should have known. You, who never give up on something, would never look at me the same. Get out!"

"Sure," Kagami said, frantic and tripping as the cord wrapped around his leg as he hopped his way toward the door. "Are we still on for dinner, though?"


The door slammed behind him with finality and there was the sound of something hard hitting it on the other side. Kagami had only seen Kuroko mad a select number of times, and he could count each time on one hand. This had to be the most terrifying. He did not understand one bit.

"You didn't know Tetsu liked you in high school?" Aomine asked incredulously when Kagami called him out for an emergency meeting. Aomine was currently treating him to packaged ramen at his place. Kagami was eating it gratefully on the floor, cross-legged, because Aomine had managed to break his only dining table after hosting a party a few weekends before. Aomine, being Aomine, had neglected replacing it.

"Was it obvious?" Kagami asked, slurping his ramen.

"It was damn obvious. Everyone knew. We thought you did too." Aomine snorted, and took a moment to try and compose himself. "So you just told him you only liked the high school him. Ouch. Don't you have any tact?" He burst out in laughter.

"Shut up. How was I supposed to know? It wasn't even a legitimate thought; I just ran the idea past you because I have no idea how Kuroko thinks now. How was I supposed to know that was it?"

Aomine wiped at his eyes. "Tetsu thinks the same way he always does. It's you who thinks he's really different. So you had feelings for him in high school. How do you feel about him now?"

Kagami choked.

"Listen, man," Aomine said, smacking his back and handing him a bottled water, "as much as I hate you, don't go dying in my place, okay? Can I take that as an affirmative? You still need to answer to Kuroko; he won't let you rest in peace."

"It's just," Kagami said, feeling it was a very vulnerable thing to tell Aomine, but seeing no alternative since he had no one else to consult and Aomine was an expert on the source. "It's just…it was a high school thing. I was embarrassed at the time. I never intended to act on it, ever. I was actually relieved when my parents pulled me out to America because I thought I could finally think things through. I mean, Kuroko's a friend. I didn't want to make things uncomfortable and ruin how well we work together just because I wanted to kiss him sometimes. I don't know now; I never really thought about it. I'm suppressing thinking about it."

"What do you have against smoking? Tetsu says you treat his habit like the plague."

"It's bad for you, isn't it," Kagami said, after swallowing half the bottle of water in one gulp. "And – call me childish, but I was taught that smoking is not only bad for your health, but if you do sports…I feel like Kuroko's just turned his back on basketball, and that was the thing he really loved…"

"He quit basketball and started smoking when you left." Aomine let it sink in. "Don't be an idiot, get those gears in your head working."

"Oh." Then, "Oh." He let the ramen fall out of his mouth as he grabbed his bags. "I need to fix this."

"I genuinely did not know you liked me," Kagami said, bowing kowtow in front of Kuroko when the boy finally opened his apartment door after five minutes of straight, steady knocking. He heard Kuroko sigh and risked a look up. Kuroko was looking down at him with a troubled face. "I apologize for being so insensitive."

"Don't be formal. It grosses me out." He gently nudged Kagami's shoulder with his foot. "Get up, you're embarrassing."

"If I'd known you liked me once, I wouldn't have said it like that," Kagami assured him, standing and dusting himself off, his knees cracking.

"You say it like I don't like you anymore." Kagami blinked. Kuroko flushed and looked away. Kagami was certain the door was going to slam in his face. It did not.

"Oh," he said.

"So you see the dilemma," said Kuroko.

"Yeah," said Kagami.

"There's no way you'd like me back, is there?"

"Uh," Kagami managed. "It's…not like it's beyond the realm of possibility. They say you never forget your first love. It's like knowing how to ride a bike."

Kuroko looked at him with pursed lips. "Please keep in mind, Kagami-kun, that you find my smoking habit disgusting and are actually enamored with the person you thought I used to be." His hands were trembling. "You're going to have to learn to like who I am right in front of you."

"Kuroko," Kagami cut in, "I'd like to think that the faces you showed me back in high school when we played basketball together were your true faces."

Kuroko bit his lip. "I hope for a positive answer in the future, then."


Despite attending university an hour way, Momoi faithfully visited every weekend to check up on Aomine and did his laundry and cooked him actual meals. It was a habit she had since high school and she reasoned that as a philosopher, he'd be more uninclined to actually take care of himself. After she threw a load of his clothes in the washer, she paid Kagami a visit in the dorms.

"I heard about everything," she said, her first words to him after two years when he came downstairs to let her in.

"I figured," he said, not at all looking fazed to have received a text from someone he did not ordinarily have much contact with to begin with. He signed her in and led her to the elevators. "How's Aomine?"

"He hasn't left his room in five hours to try and finish a paper due in three hours, so he's doing pretty well comparatively." They rode up to the fifth floor in silence and Momoi ignored the way the underclassmen on the floor gaped at her as they walked past to Kagami's room. "I'm surprised you decided to live in the dorms as a third year."

"It was easier than worrying about finding a place," Kagami shrugged, letting her into his room. He nodded toward the other closed door in the suite. "I don't think my roommate lives here much anyway. It's no big deal."

"So what're you doing about everything?" she asked as she sat on his bed, after shoving a pile of clothes off to give herself space. "Oh, I suppose it's more polite to ask how you're doing first."

"Alright," Kagami shrugged, feeling awkward sitting next to Momoi but feeling it too conspicuous to cross the room to the desk. He settled for standing broodingly at the door. "I'll cut right to the point since you probably don't care anyway."

"You're perceptive, Kagamin!"

Kagami smiled crookedly. "It's weird. You know how it is with people you know who like you. I didn't lie by telling him I could like him back, but it would be a lie to say I didn't feel a little distant from Kuroko now." He watched as Momoi tested the springiness of the bed and bounced up and down thoughtfully.

"Hmm," she hummed after a bit. "To be honest, I don't think any of them have really changed that much since high school. I dated Tetsu-kun for a bit during freshman year, you know." She giggled at his incredulous look. "I know! Me, finally being his girlfriend! It was a really good five months. He was very attentive to me, as you'd expect. I broke up with him, before you get any ideas, because while it was all so nice and domestic it was – too domestic, you know? It was very average."

"What's the point of telling me this?"

"Because, Kagamin," Momoi said, sighing exasperatedly, "I want you to know I can help you! If you need courting advice, I'm totally here to give it! I know about what Tetsu-kun likes and what he doesn't like…"

"That's not really the issue–"

"It is," Momoi insisted, her girlish tone becoming serious. "Because if you can't see past Tetsu-kun smoking, you really don't know him at all."

"You saw it coming?"

"No, but I don't think of him less for that. I don't see it as much of a change from who he is, but more of a development. Tetsu-kun is a complex man, you know."

"Yes," said Kagami, "but I don't know where to start unraveling his complexities. I thought I knew their extent in high school but they're never-ending with him. I feel like I ought to in order to…you know…date him."

"But you don't have to," Momoi smiled. "That's the greatest thing about Tetsu-kun. If you wait to figure out everything about him, you'll have to wait your entire life and then some. He won't show you everything at first. If you learn little things about him as time passes, isn't that more rewarding?" She cocked her head quizzically. "Anyway, don't you have the home field advantage, Kagamin? You've known Tetsu-kun from before."

Kagami shrugged. "I guess. It doesn't stop us from having awkward moments about the whole thing, though."

"Oh? Do tell!"


"There's this book by this old British author," Kuroko said one night at his apartment after dinner that Kagami volunteered to make during his visit in which he intended to finish a midterm paper for Kuroko to edit afterwards, "called Persuasion where this girl falls in love with this guy who falls in love with her but convinces herself that they shouldn't marry and spends the rest of the book regretting it while they do a convoluted dance around each other when they meet up later in their lives."

"That's cool," Kagami said noncommittally, backspacing a line of nonsense at the table. Kuroko continued reading the book in his hands on the lumpy recliner he found on a street corner and had Aomine help lug into his apartment. Kagami started a new paragraph when Kuroko announced he was going out to the balcony for a smoke and shut the sliding balcony door behind him. Kagami typed on for about a minute or so before joining him out in the night cool air.

"That was my attempt to bring up the subject of us," Kuroko said, after Kagami closed the door behind them. He was leaning against the railing, his elbows resting precariously.

"I got that after you came out here." Kuroko took another long drag of his cigarette. "We can talk about it now, if you want."

"I don't want to talk about it anymore." Kuroko was trembling slightly in the thin shirt he was wearing. He hadn't bothered to get a jacket before going outside. Kagami shrugged off his sweatshirt and put it around Kuroko's shoulders. Kuroko brought the cigarette up to his lips again, his fingers still shaking, and brought it away again before bringing his head down to his hands, the ember at the tip of the cigarette still glowing. "You're killing me, Kagami-kun."


"You. Being nice to me. Acting like you always do. It hurts." Kagami looked at him but he kept his head down. "I feel so awkward each time we talk. But I don't want to stop." Kuroko had always been a man of few words. Kagami breathed in the cool Tokyo air and stared out at the quiet suburban area around them.

"I'm sorry," he said.

"Don't apologize," Kuroko mumbled, a little irritated. "There's nothing to be apologizing about and you're apologizing all the time." He turned his head slightly, though he still was looking obstinately not at Kagami. "Don't treat me like something fragile. It's insulting."

Kagami bit back an apology. "I take it back; you've changed." Kuroko was facing him now, a wane smile on his face. "You're still oblivious, but you're sensitive. You're more aware of taking responsibility for a lot of things. Maybe you don't run recklessly headlong into things like you used to. What do you have to say to that?"

Kagami shrugged. The wind was starting to bite at his arms a bit. He didn't think he'd notice, but Kuroko moved closer to him somewhat. Admittedly, the sweater around his shoulders probably didn't help much. "Teenage attitude," he suggested. "The feeling that you've above it all. Or at least more than you thought you were." He dwelled a bit on the comforting weight of Kuroko against his arm. It was warm. "That everything was like basketball, or nearly as reassuring."

Kuroko laughed. It was a real laugh; not one full of volume, because it was Kuroko after all – but one that came from the stomach and bubbled up his throat. It was satisfying to know he had caused that. There was a slight pause and Kagami felt Kuroko rest his head against his shoulder, briefly, anxiously. Then, "This isn't weird or anything, is it?"

"No, not really."

Kuroko's cigarette had long gone out.


"It's not every day you come over to my place and clean it for me, Tetsu. It's a nice surprise."

"Shut it, Aomine-kun."

"Don't move those books, they're there for a reason…"

"To cover up your gravure magazines? I'm happy to see some things haven't changed."

"Is Mako-chan on one of those? I was looking for that issue for a while."

"Does Mako-chan look like someone we both know to hold you in good favor and your admission to favoring her photos indicates some sort of Freudian slip?"

"On second thought, don't bother cleaning at all. Why are you even here, Tetsu? You never come without a reason."

"My place is clean already."

"Are you a compulsive cleaner when you're stressed? No wonder you dated Satsuki. Why don't you clean Kagami's place?"

"Please don't mention that, Aomine-kun."

"Yo, I was just testing the waters…wait, Tetsu, where're you going?"

"Just a smoking break. I'll be back in ten."

"You've been smoking a lot more often, Tetsu. I've noticed. And frequently when Kagami's mentioned."

"Those aren't related at all."


"Yes. Now if you'll excuse me, unless you'd like me to smoke in your kitchen."


"Kagami-kun, can I put my hand down your pants?"

Kagami spent most of his time at Kuroko's because it was damn convenient. Dorm life was pleasant, but noisy and intrusive. Kuroko's provided a quieter place to buckle down and cram and a kitchen he used to feed himself better than the dining halls. Aomine joked once casually it was as if they lived together, which was not far from the truth, if one looked at it objectively. Kagami put the pile of dishes in his hands in the sink and turned to look at Kuroko.


"I said," Kuroko said, as he advanced and smoothly turned Kagami so his back was against the counter, "can I put my hand down your pants?" There didn't seem to be an actual option; Kuroko had unbuttoned and unzipped Kagami's fly before he could offer a word of protest.

"Look, Kuroko, this is hasty…"

"I want to do it," Kuroko said, hesitation covered by the dead determination Kagami had seen on his face many times before. "Just…just close your eyes if you don't want to see me…" His fingers were gentle and timid at first, exploring the length of Kagami's cock with slow, methodical movements before he gave it a resolute jerk and Kagami hissed.

Kuroko did not look up the entire time he was jerking Kagami off, settling to stare steadfastly at the job at hand. Kagami wondered if it would be rude to tilt Kuroko's face upward, as he could see the boy's ears were obstinately red, but just as he was thinking it – and wincing at the wonderful way Kuroko had with his hands – Kuroko dropped down to his knees.

"Kuroko," Kagami started. Kuroko took him in his mouth and put an end to that.

"Oh god, I'm sorry," Kagami said quickly, a moment after pure rapture when he realized he'd came in Kuroko's mouth. He reached behind him for a towel – or anything – for Kuroko to spit in, but when he turned around, Kuroko had straightened up and with the way he was licking the side of his mouth, he had swallowed. Kagami put it upon himself to wipe Kuroko's face anyway out of ceremony and Kuroko allowed his face to be pat down gently. "Where did you learn that kind of stuff?"

"Momoi taught me," Kuroko mumbled, his cheeks pink. "And I thought about how I'd like it. I'm sorry, Kagami-kun, that was sudden and irrational of me, please don't think badly of me…" His eyes were downcast, and even with Kagami wiping the same spot on his face over and over for lack of something better to preoccupy himself with, there was a gentle shame on Kuroko's face that did not sit right with Kagami.

"Here," Kagami said, reaching behind and pulling Kuroko closer. "Let me return the favor."

"You don't have to!" Kuroko insisted. "You're not obligated, you don't need to at all…"

"Oh hush," Kagami grumbled, reaching down to undo Kuroko's fly with the same tenacity that Kuroko had done to him not too earlier before. "'I want to do it', to quote someone's famous words."

"That's mean," Kuroko protested, before gasping and gripping Kagami's arm as Kagami probed. His chin rested comfortably on Kagami's shoulder; Kagami could hear each breath and sigh Kuroko made as he touched him. He leaned back against the counter to allow Kuroko to lean against him, as it was clear Kuroko was not going to do well standing on his own if his trembling knees were any indication. Before he came, Kuroko let out a shuddering breath and Kagami swore he heard his name.

Kuroko leaned across Kagami's broad chest, a warm movement, to grab for the towel Kagami had previously discarded, only to see Kagami bring his hand up to his mouth and lick at it. "An eye for an eye, as they say."


"So all that happened," Himuro said, looking quite satisfied like a cat that got in the cream and beaming rather too condescendingly through the screen. Not a bit of the smug appreciation of Kagami's awkwardness and hardships escaped the wireless transmission from the webcam. Kagami had wanted to consult someone distant from the situation about – well, the situation – but he was starting to think it might have been the wrong idea to contact Himuro, and by extension, Alex.

"So are you two a couple yet or what?" Alex drawled, shifting into the picture. Both had moved back to America after Himuro graduated high school and were sharing a place for financial purposes. She spooned a healthy serving of yogurt in her mouth. "Did you guys tie the knot after you two did the nasty?"

"We…" Kagami muttered, feeling the need to speak very softly despite being in the dorm, behind his room door in the suite at three in the afternoon when most students in the dorm were usually out. "…never did it…and…I thought maybe…"

"It was self-implied you were dating because he sucked your dick?" Himuro suggested helpfully.

"And you jerked him off?" Alex added, pointing the spoon at him.

"Be polite," Kagami huffed. "This is Kuroko we're talking about. Both of you know him."

"We were trying to be frank," Alex shrugged.

"Didn't you have a thing for him even back in high school?" Himuro asked, not innocently in the slightest. Now even Alex's eyes were back to him eagerly, although Kagami was pretty sure they both already knew the answer. This machine-gun approach to dealing with this issue was not good for his heart.


"Then what's the problem? I thought you two were already together for the longest time until you came back here after high school and you barely talked about him at all. Don't you think so, Alex?"

"Thought they were fucking since the moment I saw them. Though, I guess, it was all really just fucking with the eyes." She leered at him through the screen. Kagami made a face. "But in all seriousness, what's with that 'but'?"

"It's…" Kagami leaned back for a moment and scratched his head. "…just that those thoughts didn't come with a lot of consideration, that's all."

"You? Consideration?" They grinned cheekily back at him but gratefully declined from making more comments.

"It was a very rash decision I made. He liked basketball and he played well with me and he's a little cute. So I thought I liked him. It was good at first, but a little scary since…you know me…once I know something, I have to tell everyone…"

"Ain't that the truth."

"But then I really thought about it and how sudden it was and how bad it would be if I told him I liked him in that way because it would complicate a lot of things. Dating wouldn't be a problem, since…oy, I've dated before, stop laughing…anyway, if we broke up, wouldn't that be problematic? We were just high school students, we didn't know what we were doing. What if it was a mistake and one or both of us lost steam in the middle? It would affect the entire team. I wasn't above thinking that it might have been a phase or it was just a whim and I didn't care that much about Kuroko after all. He doesn't deserve that, you know." He nodded, agreeing with his thoughts. "He was someone who was disregarded by his friends before and he deserves someone who will really value him for who he is."

There was a long silence on both ends. "That is really the most eloquent I've ever heard you been, Taiga," Alex said, wiping her eyes dramatically, although her voice sounded touched. "You're making me cry, really."

"Doesn't you thinking that way," Himuro said softly, "mean you already care about him a lot as it is?"

"Yeah," Kagami said. "I guess so."

"I'm going to tell this to you, Taiga Kagami," Himuro said, authoritatively in his crisp American English. Speaking in English in the dorm was not much a protective measure against eavesdroppers, since the majority of the dorm knew enough English to ascertain the contents of their discussion – not that anyone, Kagami thought, cared enough about him to eavesdrop – but it just felt natural to do so with Himuro and Alex. "You are to go to Kuroko and tell him that you wish to date him. All relationships have the risk of breaking up eventually; I trust Kuroko is – and has been – mature enough to know this. Everyone has a chance to argue and disagree with each other. You shouldn't be so concerned about those kinds of things hindering any sort of relationship you want. Therefore, if you want it now, you should take it without second guessing yourself."

"What are you, Taiga?" Alex shouted gleefully. Kagami worried for their neighbors. "The Taiga I knew wasn't such a pussy!"

"I'll think about it," Kagami sighed, feeling exhausted from the talk.

"Don't think about it! We're your relationship coaches!"


One of the rare times Kuroko came to the dorms, Kagami took him out to the back alley behind the building when Kuroko wanted a smoke, as it was against dorm policy to smoke inside. They sat down on the steps of the back doors as Kuroko lit up and took a satisfying puff. "Hey, we should date."

For the first time since Kagami had seen him smoke, Kuroko coughed.

"I'm serious. Let's date. I want to be your boyfriend." Kagami stopped in his asking out to rub Kuroko's back as the boy continued sputtering. The cigarette had dropped out of Kuroko's hands and was laying, smoldering, at his feet.

"But I smoke," he gasped, after catching his breath.

"Yes, I am aware," Kagami said. "And I still want to date you."

"I'm nothing like I was in high school."

"Let me be the judge of that. Unless you're trying to say you don't want to date me?"

"No, I do!" Kuroko looked away quickly to cover his quick answer. "I do. You know I do. But I'm meaner now, and I smoke and read a lot and I don't play basketball anymore, really. I can get really angry at you and be cruel and…you're sure you want to date me?"

"Taking all of that into consideration, I still want to date you," Kagami insisted. "If you'll have me."

"Of course I'll have you, you stupid meathead," Kuroko huffed, grabbing Kagami's face with his hands. "I want to kiss you now. Can I?" He didn't wait for Kagami to approve and crushed Kagami's lips with his own. His force propelled Kagami against the dumpsters against the wall and they fell upon them with a noisy clang. Kuroko's tongue snaked in while Kagami was busy being surprised and attempting to rebalance himself and he tasted the sharp taste of smoke with a faint hint of mint somewhere in the back. He couldn't really tell that well anymore. He was too busy keeping Kuroko against him because the boy was squirming far too much. He heard the inconsequential sound of Kuroko's lighter dropping out of his back pocket but couldn't be tossed to care much about either of them catching fire.

"I can't even remember how long I've been waiting to do that," Kuroko practically sang when they were done and sprawled sloppily across the stairs. He slipped his lighter back into his pocket as Kagami adjusted his shirt. "You've got me to deal with now, Kagami-kun."

"I'll do my best to keep up with the force that is Kuroko Tetsuya."


Note: sorry for such a long hiatus...i hope this was to your liking