"Damn it feels good to be a gangsta," Aomine boasts after a spectacular dunk.

"Gangster." Midorima corrects, as he hikes his glasses higher up the bridge of his nose.

"Uh, no, gangsta," Aomine insists. "Haven't you ever heard of the song?"

Clearly the shooting guard hasn't when he chooses to dismiss Aomine, following the rest of the players as they regroup by the benches. Kuroko trails behind, giving Aomine a long, searching look.

"You've changed, Aomine-kun." Whether for good or bad, it's hard to tell when Kuroko wears his expression of void.

"That's A-Money to you."

"Is that a song, as well?"

"No, Tetsu, it's my rapper name," Aomine explains.

"...But I don't understand." Kuroko confesses after a moment of deliberation. "You're broke."

"Mine-chin spent the last of his allowance on that magazine Kise-chin was featured in," Murasakibara recalls from where he's been casually listening in and crunching on teriyaki-flavored chips.

"Money-chin," and as if to prove a point, he turns to Midorima. "Yo MC Shin, drop me a beat."

Midorima, who didn't know he was being addressed, merely preened his nails.

"Absent-Money," Kuroko suddenly interjects. "That's what the A stands for, right? It all makes sense now."

Aomine shakes his head sympathetically. "Look, Tetsu, after practice, I'll show you what it's all about."

Law of the universe dictates that Aomine and Kuroko's joint presences almost always necessitates Kise's own. So when he appears at Aomine's rap battle with Midorima in tow, it's hardly surprising.

"I think I'm going to catch something. These hoodlums smell unwashed." Midorima thumbed his nose haughtily up into the air and thanked fate for giving him the additional height to breathe freer air.

"But Midorimacchi, that's the charm of these things!" Kise smiles and glances around nervously, when in actuality he agreed very much with Midorima, having dragged him along for whatever protection the man could offer. He would have preferred Murasakibara but naturally the tall center lacked an interest in all things inedible and Kise lacked the credibility to bribe him when he failed to differentiate between the raspberry shortcake and the strawberry.

(What's the difference? They're both berries, and they're both red! Murasakibara had given him a severe look of disapproval for that.)

Luckily they seem to blend in with their basketball jerseys and shorts, even if their jerseys did bear the colors and name of a school that no one outside of Tokyo's basketball sphere cared for.

"Hey hey, who's Aominecchi talking to?" Aomine stood facing a seedy character in a small clearing.

"A common thug," Midorima announces darkly. "Over-sized hoodie, baggy pants, hungry, weathered look. I know one when I see one. Probably steals from his own mother and has a tattoo of two wrestling carnivores covering his torso."

Before Midorima can finish detailing the stranger's life and criminal record, Kise is tugging anxiously on his sleeve. "He's saying something, what's he saying?"

Without warning, the air erupts with OHHHHHH! and Midorima finds Kise pressed up against him in terror as air horns blare in the distance.

"Let's get closer," Midorima says, and Kise latches onto him frantically as Midorima pushes his way through to a chorus of hey watch it! and quit shovin', you jackass!

"He's talking way too fast, I can't even—wait, is he reciting Shakespeare?" Kise gapes at Aomine's opponent with new-found respect.

"No, you idiot, he's insulting Aomine's mother and insinuating his light is—Kise, what are you—!"

Akashi is far from pleased when three of his starting players report for practice the next afternoon looking scuffed up. Kuroko was the only one who emerged from yesterday's fist fight unscathed.

"But Akashicchi, I was defending Aominecchi's honor!"

"I would have preferred broken honor to broken bones. Your actions were unnecessary, Ryouta."

"It was a rap battle." Aomine shakes his head. "Rap battles are where you take turns offending each other," he further clarifies.

"My pinky's bruised." Kise whines, while everyone turns away and files out of the locker room. He tries once again to convey the severity of his condition, "Guys, I could have pinky cancer." He waves a limp pinky in Kuroko's face in hopes of garnering some sympathy.

"Don't be ridiculous," Midorima snaps, temporarily breaking his vow of never speaking to Kise again, ever.

Kuroko calmly sidesteps away from Kise's hand. "Midorima-kun seems more testy than usual."

"It's true I did not sleep well last night." Midorima doesn't quite like the way Akashi's looking at him.

"From the looks of it, you did not sleep at all. I'm keeping you out of practice today, Shintarou. Putting further strain on a fatigued body is not healthy."

"The hell," Aomine explodes. "Just because he's sucking your—."

"Lollipop?" Murasakibara's suddenly offers one to Aomine, who looks momentarily stunned.

"I don't require preferential treatment," Midorima agrees, a bit pink in the face.

"Call it what you like, but my orders are absolute."

Midorima had indeed pulled an all-nighter, absorbed in the fascinating culture of underground rap and hip-hop, which was why nearly no one recognized him when he showed up at Aomine's next rap battle, drowning in an over-sized t-shirt, loose jeans, and sunglasses perched on his nose in place of his usual frames.

"Fucking hell, Midorima?"

"Word to your mother," Midorima greets, making a questionable gesture with one hand.

Kuroko takes an unconscious step away. "Midorima-kun, did you join a gang?"

Aomine tries really, really hard not to laugh, but the tears are seeping from his eyes. "My god, you're wearing a hand towel on your head," he wheezes and hides his laughter behind fits of violent coughing.

"It's called a do-rag," Midorima informs, but it's clearly a hand towel, little yellow flowers stitched along the hem. "I expected you to be more familiar with the thug life," and he looks genuinely disappointed with Aomine.

"Pretty sure the bling goes around the neck, not on the shades," Kuroko points out the rhinestones adorning Midorima's sunglasses, and Aomine dies all over again.

"I borrowed these from my mother. Personally, I think they're quite dope."

"Can we pretend we don't know him?" Kuroko whispers to Aomine when Midorima turns to approach his rap battle opponent. His face is twisted into what Aomine assumes to be a look of intimidation, but really he just looks kind of constipated.

Man proposes, God disposes
Life isn't anything like a bed of roses
Got mother screaming at me when I get B's
Got father confiscating my smartphone when I missed that piano key

It doesn't take long for the booing and jeers to drown him out.

"Is this guy fo'real?" Someone called out.

"...It was a good first attempt," Kuroko says encouragingly.

"I don't understand." Midorima frowns, deep in thought. "I thought I had adhered completely to the rules of flow."

"Maybe next time lose the Hello Kitty coin bank. I don't think it's very conducive to," Kuroko's mouth twitches, "the thug life."

"It was probably just because you were a little stiff." Actually, it was probably everything, but even Aomine's feeling a little badly for Midorima by this point. "You're too straight-laced. You need the fuck-it-all attitude."

"...I am experiencing difficulties there," Midorima admits after a pause.

"Look, how about instead of nanodayo," Aomine swings an arm around Midorima's shoulders and brings his voice down to a low purr, "you say motherfucker."

"Take your hands off of me, motherfucker."


Though the rest of the team seem a little baffled by Midorima's new-found identity, they take it in stride, used to his strange whims.

"My childhood was extremely difficult," Midorima explains while they're all sharing popsicles one evening, because one cannot be called a rapper unless one has faced tremendous hardship. "I had 99 problems," and he proceeds to recount each one.

"Didn't you grow up in a gated community, Midorimacchi?"

"Yes, but the boy next door was the devil's spawn," Midorima insisted. "He subjected me to humiliating games where I had to play his loyal steed."

"Boooring," Aomine yawns rudely. "Tell us about the bitches."

"He was the bitch." Kuroko quietly supplies.

"Doesn't Mido-chin live next door to Aka-chin?"

Everyone falls silent and stares at Midorima.

"Wow, I'm so sorry, I didn't know," Kise says at last.

"Yea, my condolences," Kuroko offers.

"Is this why you're so fucked up?"

"Aominecchi!" Kise scolds.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end.

"Too bad about Kobe's injury," Murasakibara was saying to Kise, in reference to last night's game.

"Who cares about Kobe? Where the hell's Akashi? I wanted to leave early today." Aomine pauses to glance at the gymnasium clock before sinking a shot.

"Apparently Midorima-kun called Akashi-kun a motherfucker," Kuroko informs, and Kise lets out a small gasp, though he draws in closer to absorb the gossip.

"Did he?" Aomine looks overcome with giddiness until Kuroko adds, "So then Akashi called an impromptu co-captains meeting, but when I walked past the clubroom I could hear—."

"STOP." Aomine puts out his hands to silence Kuroko, and Kise shrinks away with horror.

"So about Kobe," Aomine turns to Murasakibara.

A/N: This fic was actually supposed to be centered on Aomine, but Midorima stole the spotlight and who am I to deny him? Fic title is a reference to "Rap Battle Parody," which can be found on YouTube.