Disclaimer: Kuroko no Basuke belongs to Fujimaki Tadatoshi.

As Sweet As Vanilla Milkshakes


9. Sweeter Than Vanilla Milkshakes

"So what do we do now?" Kagami groaned, lamenting the non-existent results of his hard work as Seirin walked together down the street, dejected. He was the only one to go without a present, but surely, the basketball shoes had been the biggest deal out of them. It was something the whole team had worked together for, and losing it just like that felt like being defeated at the Interhigh all over again.

The Generation of Miracles had split up, either to prepare their own presents for Kuroko or just to wander off in search of food (read: Murasakibara), and only Momoi, Kise and Aomine remained. "I dunno, get a fountain spurting vanilla milkshakes?" The tanned power forward sulked as he matched his steps with the redhead. Their arguments had stopped for the time being, as they sympathized with each other and were crying a little on the inside, but to tell the truth Kagami was slightly disturbed by this abnormally calm attitude of his.

"Maybe I should listen to you more, Aominecchi..." Kaijou's ace sighed, causing Aomine to stop walking to whirl around and glower at him. "That vanilla milkshake fountain sure sounds good about now."

"Who was the one who sarcastically commented that my ideas were 'totally brilliant' again?" Aomine moved to threateningly grip Kise's shirt collar, but maybe it looked a bit too much like he was intending to choke the other, because Momoi yanked on his ear harshly to lead him away from the assumed murder victim. Scratch the thought from before, Aomine was only being abnormally calm towards Kagami, of all people.

Riko exhaled loudly, breath whooshing out into the chilly air in a cloud of vapours. "Kagami-kun, let's have Kuroko-kun's party at your place. We can go buy a bunch of vanilla flavoured things after we reorganize a little, most of us still need to get our presents for him after all."

Kagami raised an eyebrow, and usually he'd complain, but in dire situations like these he barely had any energy for walking, let alone argue. The only capable thing he was of doing as of now was moping, and Aomine's slumped form beside him didn't cheer the atmosphere up much at all.

"Someone call Kuroko and the rest of the team," Izuki suggested, but when no one moved Momoi took the initiative to contact everyone, her voice penetrating the glum silence that fell over the group. They had nearly reached their destination when Momoi began making the last few calls.

"...Apartment 248," the peach haired girl repeated into her cell phone, and Kagami had to stop himself from thinking about how the heck she could have gotten his address. "It will be the third door to the left when you get to the second floor. See you, Mukkun!"

"How much information did you gather about him?" Riko asked, incredulous look on her features, yet her tone was irritated. Everyone knew that the coach viewed the other girl as sort of a rival, or maybe even enemy, so it wasn't so shocking that she would be awed but annoyed at the same time at Momoi's stalker-like behaviour.

"Not a lot," Momoi hummed as she began to dial one of Seirin's player's number that she somehow had acquired. "Just what I need and then some."

"It's impressive, actually," Kiyoshi crossed his arms and nodded in approval, making the Seirin coach visibly stiffen.

"You need my address and how the hallway looks like?" Kagami squinted at the shorter girl, who responded with a bright smile as she greeted the person on the other end of the line ― who turned out to be Furihata ― and proceeded to inform him of the new plans.

"She's seen a lot more than just that," Kise helpfully added, causing terror to take over the redhead's expression. The small forward had no sense of what was considered disturbing and what was not, did he? The innocent look the model was wearing made it even worse.

He was blushing to the point where he almost began to sweat in the below-freezing temperature when Aomine snorted. "She probably has a crush on you or something."

'Waitwaitwait! I thought we were comrades for a second, you traitor!'

It seemed that the tanned ace's childhood friend had heard that sentence all too clearly, because a pale hand flew at Aomine's head so fast and hard that it resulted in Aomine stumbling when it connected with his skull. Kagami snickered when he lost his balance and flopped onto the ground blanketed with snow.

"Satsuki, what the hell?!"

Fuming, the pink haired girl stepped over the sprawled out limbs of the power forward, and accidentally putting her weight on one of his hands, earning a yelp from Aomine.

"EEK! Wait, Momoicchi! Aominecchi can't play basketball if you hurt his hands!" Kise cried, rushing forward to pull the Touou manager away from what had become a full out let's-break-Aomine's-hand event. The blond tripped over one of Aomine's long legs, and ended up shoving Momoi away harshly, as he toppled over, falling down towards Aomine's chest. Panicking and trying to somehow catch himself, he reflexively shielded his face (as illogical as it is in this kind of situation, his face is pretty important to him, therefore needing all the protection it could get), and his elbow caught the other in the rib cage, and soon the air was filled with screams of agony.

"Kise, you little―!" A sharp exhalation of breath cut him off as Kise put all his weight on the elbow that had just jabbed Aomine. He clenched his teeth as the sharp bone ground into his ribs. "Is this how you plan to beat me in basketball? Killing me doesn't work! My ghost will still come back, and―ouch!"

Kise unceremoniously flopped down again when he realized he had been digging into Aomine's other rib cage in the process of getting up.

Momoi tumbled backwards, bracing herself for the hard impact of the concrete sidewalk against her back, but instead landed in a flurry of fabric. However, her saviour began to also fall from the sudden force of her weight, and before she knew it she was lying atop of another body. Her cheeks heated up as she scrambled around trying to get back up, limbs flailing desperately and socking the other's jaw by accident. "I'm sorry! I'm sorry!"

"You―ow, my other rib!" Aomine's loud voice was quivering as Kise rolled off to the side and finally struggled to his feet, face flushed bright crimson. He bowed at a ninety degree angle, and Seirin watched with disbelief the model transformed into Touou's shooting guard, his apologies blending in with Momoi's.

"Ah! It's Kagamin I landed on! I'm sorry!"

"Aominecchi! I'm sorry! I'm sorry, really! Sorry for puncturing your lungs and I'm sorry for not listening to your ideas for Kurokocchi's present, and for that one time I pied you in the face in middle school! And for being more popular than you, and for that time in summer training camps when I drew those mustaches and uni-brows―"

"So that was you!" The dark skinned boy sat up abruptly, wincing as his arms wrapped around his midsection and a menacing glare appeared on his features, promising revenge once he was well enough to carry it out. "And that wasn't even an apology anymore!"

"Um...excuse me?"

The soft spoken voice interrupted the chaos that had been bound to happen with such a huge gathering of people (a huge gathering of competitive rivals could work too), and everyone turned to the voice in surprise. The boy stood with his head tilted to the side, and though half of his face was concealed by a woolen scarf, those clear azure eyes as well as his powder blue hair betrayed his identity.

"Kuroko! When were you here?" Kagami shrieked as he staggered backwards away from the passing expert, in precaution as he was expecting for Tetsuya #2 to be present as well.

However, Kuroko seemed to be alone and sent him a strange glance before replying with a sentence that he was probably repeating for the umpteenth time, "I was here since the beginning. When Kise-kun and Momoi-san fell down, anyways."

Momoi flung herself into the other's body, nuzzling her head against his chest while wailing, "it's not what it looks like, Tetsu-kun! I only like Tetsu-kun, it's not that kind of relationship with Kagamin!"

Before the teal haired boy even had a chance to respond to whatever confusing misapprehension Momoi had just described, the Kaijou ace also launched himself at Kuroko, effectively landing the trio on the ground and causing a flurry of snow to shower down on them. "Me too, Kurokocchi! I don't like Aominecchi at all! It's a misunderstanding, I swear!"

"Kise-kun, you're heavy," the boy monotonously uttered from beneath both the peach haired girl and the blond's weight, his voice slightly muffled. "Please get off."

"How mean!" Kise whined, but nonetheless the heaviness vanished soon after Kuroko had voiced his objection out loud. Momoi blushed and also got up, dusting snowflakes off her jacket, never mind that most of the snow was actually on the wan boy still on the ground. When he sat upright, he took in his surroundings, eyeing his high school team along with the trio from Teikou that had tagged along.

"If you don't mind me asking, what are you all doing here?" He inquired, and seeming to silently add with the look he gave them, 'together, no less.'

"Uh..." Hyuuga started, but was cut off by Riko's awkward shout of "happy birthday!", and he ogled her before turning back to the first-year. "Ahaha... happy birthday?"

Kuroko looked fixedly at everyone present as Kise and the others threw their arms up in nervous chuckles of "happy birthday"'s, following the Seirin coach's lead. An expression of puzzlement slowly emerged on his features, and he stared curiously at his friends. "...thank you," the end of his sentence came up in a lilt, resulting in something that sounded more like a question than anything.

Riko cringed, and it didn't miss the short boy's ever observant eyes, but before the latter could speak, the brunette spun around and started running in the direction of the next intersection. "I'm getting some stuff, I'll be back soon! Go buy cake or something, Bakagami-kun!"

"Wha―" Kagami stuttered, watching Kiyoshi and Hyuuga follow, before Izuki's eyes lit up, striding off after the other Seirin basketball club members, muttering something under his breath and taking out that familiar notebook of his.

"Oh, yeah! We'll see you, Kurokocchi! We forgot things as well!" Kise waved, and looped his arms through Aomine's elbows, skipping away with Momoi at their heels. The blond's voice lowered significantly as he continued to outline a backup plan for Kuroko's gift, but his sharp exclamation cut through the air like a knife. "What about a coupon for vanilla milkshakes? No? Don't be bratty, Aominecchi, it's not like you have that many choices. Oh, yeah? Then come up with one that's better. I'll kiss you if you do! Wait! But..."

The small forward's chattering faded as the three crossed a street and disappeared among a throng of people. Kagami could only gape after them, a little perplexed about how he was left alone with his 'shadow' so quickly. He felt those slightly unsettling pair of eternally blue eyes scrutinizing the side of his face.

"Kagami-kun," Kuroko addressed monotonously, voice as flat as ever and making the Seirin ace snap out of his stupor.

"I... I'm sorry," Kagami bowed his head, and scratched his scalp sheepishly while grimacing. "I couldn't get you a present. You see, there... was this scavenger hunt for a pair of basketball shoes, and..." The taller boy trailed off, still feeling Kuroko's unnerving gaze, before taking a shuddering breath to steel himself. "Just... I'm sorry, but I'll find you a gift some other day."

For a moment, the other didn't utter a word, and Kagami lifted his face to meet a twin set of cerulean orbs examining the former's expressions. At the uncomfortable stare, the redhead lowered his eyes again.

Kagami could sense that Kuroko had parted his lips to speak even before his voice sounded out, seeming to echo in the silence. "I see. That's why you've been so busy these past few weeks."

Blinking a snowflake from his lashes, Kagami nodded. The teal haired boy hesitated, but informed him, as blunt as per usual, "I thought you were ignoring me on purpose. That's what Aomine-kun started doing in our third year of middle school."

Now that was pretty unexpected, and Kagami flinched at the words, dripping with a subtle hurt and just a bit of accusation. "No! Why would you..." Kagami exhaled through his nose, attempting to slow his pounding heart down. Kuroko couldn't have thought that lowly of him, could he? Though now that he recalled some of the instances where he had to make excuses to go buy an item or meet up with the rest of the basketball team members, it did seem like he was avoiding the teal haired boy. " I'm... really sorry about that, though. I wouldn't ever do that. But don't just go assuming things, stupid!"

Feeling heat creeping up upon his cheeks, Kagami ruffled the other's locks roughly, pushing Kuroko's head down while he was at it so his blush couldn't be seen. Judging from the lack of usual resistance, Kagami deemed that his words were a sort of relief to the shorter boy, and when his face finally calmed down enough to not betray his embarrassment, he let go of Kuroko, who had a small smile playing about his lips.

"You'll always like basketball, then? You'll always like playing basketball with everyone?"

The redhead snorted, and started to head towards a crosswalk. "You don't even need to ask, idiot," Kagami rolled his eyes as he waited for signal to change, knowing that his 'shadow' would be following him even without looking. The other reason was if he looked too directly at the other, he just might start blushing again. "But if it makes you feel better, I promise."

Kagami noticed Kuroko studying him with that same enchanting grin, as subtle as ever, from the peripherals of his vision. "Where are we going?"

"There's a Maji Burger not too far from here," he replied as he tread across the road. "We can come back after everyone's done... organizing."

At that, a quiet chuckle of amusement escaped from Kuroko, a foreign sound to the power forward as they turned a corner to see the restaurant of their destination. As usual, Kagami had to order for the blue haired boy to prevent holding up the line as the cashier promptly looked past Kuroko to the other customers.

"Kagami-kun's having a milkshake too?" Kuroko blinked, sending the ace a quizzical look.

Kagami only shrugged as he carried a tray to a table by the window, so that the two could watch people hurry by like they always did at the Maji Burger near their school (although that did sound kind of creepy now that he thought about it). "Trying something new, I guess. Aomine's doing that too, didn't think he swung that way."

The passing expert's brows furrowed in even greater confusion. "Aomine-kun?" Kuroko inquired, but Kagami decided to drop the subject, which wasn't very relevant to what he had really wanted to say to the other boy.

"Uh, no, never mind about that. But seriously, just trust me on this. I won't ever come to hate basketball, or whatever crap Aomine had going for him before we beat his egoistic ass, so..." Kagami paused, trying to form grammatically correct sentences in his brain, because in the heat of the moment he had forgotten to think, so now he was lost for words in addition to the fact that usually he'd have to do just a little bit of translation from English to Japanese in his head before speaking. But to be fair, his Japanese was getting quite fluent.

Kuroko decided to save him from whatever awkwardness he could have dragged himself into and cut in before the other could start stammering like an idiot. "I believe you, Kagami-kun."

The teal haired boy sipped from his straw, and Kagami felt blood rushing up onto his face as he digested the information, so he whipped his head to peer out of the window. Kuroko had promised to make him, make Seirin number one, and he did. Now it was his turn to keep that promise, however simple it may be.

Slowly, he took a sip of the drink as well, and although it was too artificially saccharine for his personal preferences, Kuroko's words left behind a pleasant sweetness that left a tingling warmth where his heart should be.

'So maybe I do like sweet things.'


LOL I've been neglecting this story for who knows how long now.. x'D the truth is the writing block/wall I ran into had glue on it, so I'm stuck on the wall with suckish ideas. and i'm so so sorry i didn't include Akashi and Murasakibara except for a few mentions here and there but i honestly just can't write those two though the teikou arc in the manga's gonna be helpful..i'm really sorry for any OOC-ness btw!

(omg and have you noticed how kuroko pretty much only shows blank/angry faces and then his happy ones are just... kind of half there? xDD I'm slow, yeah. and AHHHH Ray of Shine was so sweet i started sobbing when the chorus started i can't aghjakgklh FEELS ;A;)

Well, it's done now, and I'm sorry for the lame-ish ending? (idk do you think it's lame I sorta think it's lame LOL sorry I had no good ideas, besides, I sound like Sakurai now) But I'm so glad it's done agh I was wondering the whole spring break if I could even finish it at all haha :')

Thanks for your great suggestions though! But I'm so sorry I couldn't work them in somehow, I'm kind of brain dead these days and all I can think about is tea for some reason so gomen! orz

Well, thank you for staying with me until now, thanks for the faves and follows and for taking your time to read! I hoped you liked it!