Author's Note: Merry Christmas! This chapter was supposed to be really long, but I divided it into two. I can officially say that this chapter is now the beginning of Kuroko's resolution (GoM's resolution starts around Chapter 13, I think). For those who have been waiting even until today, the conclusion of this fic is almost there!
Summary: Kuroko dreams to marry his stepbrothers. As they grew up, Kuroko realized it was impossible. But it didn't stop him from loving them in a way it was forbidden. He knows it's wrong and he wants closure. But, what if his brothers were as confused as he is? GOM+Kaga/Kuro AU
It was a dreamless sleep.
It was as if he was suspended in a space of nothingness, the oppressing darkness trapping him in place. He can feel the pressure the most on his torso, making him aware of the thin line of oxygen that enters his lungs. He wanted to be free of this weight, to have his chest rise without restriction, but he can't. The voice tells him that he can't. He can't, he can't, he can't. Because you deserve it.
Kuroko wakes up with a jolt.
Six people surrounded him. None of them bore the familiar and comforting semblance of his brothers or his friends. And even so, he doesn't feel the electrifying panic that accompanies the unknown. He has surrendered himself to uncertainty.
One of them calls his name. Another came closer.
"How are you feeling? I saw you passed out at a playground earlier and you looked like you had a fever, so I brought you here," The playground? Ah, Kuroko remembered. The rain, the slap. He could feel the crushing pressure against his chest. "Ah. Your clothes were wet, so we had to change your clothes to warm you up. Hope that we didn't do something you didn't fancy."
Kuroko stared at the stranger's face; for some reason, his eyes brought comfort. "Thank you," he slurred.
One of them came closer, but unlike the rest, she was a girl. The short hair, the determined eyes – Kuroko knew he saw her before. "Hey, Kuroko-kun. Do you remember me?" Not really, he thought as he nodded. Though, it felt appropriate to nod.
"You should rest up a bit more. I think you still have a fever," she explained. She spoke slowly and carefully, a move perhaps not to overwhelm him. "If you like, you can call your brothers – "
His world stopped, his vision blurred. The figures before him turned into shapes, then rearranged themselves to the image he is all too familiar with: his brothers looking down on him. But, their faces were gone. Kuroko couldn't imagine what they look like, showing love and concern.
Kuroko whispered their name. It made the pressure heavier.
"…Can…Can you not call my brothers…or anyone…please?" he pleaded. "I just want…to be alone from them…for a moment…"
The one with kind eyes gave him a pat on the head. Kuroko relished the warmth of his hand. "Okay. Tell us if you're ready to call them, alright?"
Oh, when would he ever be ready?
The strangers before him have started to discuss among themselves. Wanting to drown the sound, he closed his eyes. But, the moment he closed his eyes, he was back at that oppressing darkness, sandwiched between the crushing pressures of guilt and loneliness.
When he opened his eyes again, the temperature of the environment has gone down. His surrounding is dark, but the door across him is ajar, letting light of the other room leak out. Because of that, Kuroko can see outlines of figures and furniture around him – all unknown and strange. Then, it clicks.
He ran away, got sick, and admitted inside a dorm of some generous students. All because he couldn't keep one forbidden secret to the grave.
His chest starts to constrict, and he coughs because he can't breathe properly. He sits up and tries to do breathing exercises to calm him down.
The door creaks, and a person peeks through the widened gap. A man with brown hair and kind features looks at him and smiles. Kuroko remembers seeing him somewhere, but he can't pinpoint where. "Hey, good morning. Feeling better?" he whispers, careful not to wake up the others.
It takes Kuroko a while to respond. "Ah, yes, I do," he answers. His shirt slides a bit; then, he realizes that he is wearing something two or three times his size.
"Good! Anyway, would you like some breakfast? One of our kouhais is good at cooking some mean omelet!"
Someone groans. "If you're going to talk, do it outside," a man sleeping next to Kuroko's bed rolls around, muttering some profanities while he's at it. The man at the door only chuckles, before turning to Kuroko.
"The others are sleeping; how about we grab some breakfast?"
As the stranger awaits for Kuroko's answer, the bluenette thinks. He knows he shouldn't. He fell asleep in an unknown place belonging to a bunch of strangers, who may or may not bear evil intentions. He doesn't have any recollection of how he got here, other than bits and scraps of hazy memories, and his clothes are nowhere seen. All of these is dubious. He should be panicking right now.
But then, being home, with the company of his brothers, of Akashi who made it clear that he doesn't want the bluenette anywhere near him – it all made him scarred, hurt, and vulnerable. Like a wound whose scab has been ripped off before the flesh healed, Kuroko is looking for something, anything that can relieve the pain.
And the man before him is offering kindness.
It feels traitorous, saying that word. He has all been used to saying that word as answers to his brother's requests – when Aomine asks him to visit the park basketball court for a quick game, when Kise asks him to go to Majiba for dinner, when Midorima asks him to come with at the bookstore, when Murasakibara asks him to buy some Mauibo for him, when Akashi asks him to take a walk at the park until the stars come out. 'Okay', 'Yes', 'Gladly'.
And now he's using that word to answer a stranger's request.
It's a first, for a very long time.
It feels a bit nice.
The sun had broken into the horizon, painting the sky with gradients of blue, grey, white, and yellow. The morning air is cold, so Kuroko had been loaned with a jacket and a pair of thick socks. He wore the shoes he had brought with him, which had been thorough cleaned.
"My name is Kiyoshi, Kiyoshi Teppei," the man introduces himself as they exit the doors. Puffs of hot air exit as he spoke. "I found you unconscious in a park nearby, so I brought you to Seirin. You had a fever last night, so my team and I took care of you. I hope you're not angry that we changed your clothes without permission."
Kuroko shakes his head. "No, it's okay. I should thank you for allowing me stay. I hope that you didn't have too much trouble sneaking me in here."
He looks over the open hallway to see the entirety of Seirin's campus. The whole building looks like a rotated [ with the concave curve opening to a wide, oval field. A clock tower stands at the center of the building, which seemed to be stuck in 3:11. The campus is surrounded by trees, which act as borders against the outside world. Just a few steps away from the male dorms is another building that looked like a small apartment complex. Judging by the kanji '女' etched on the roof, Kuroko decides that's the female dorms. 'So, this is Seirin,' Kuroko thought.
Kiyoshi leads him to the staircase until they reach the second floor, where Kuroko finds a plaque with '1st years' labelled on it. They walk past some rooms until they arrive at room 120. Kiyoshi presses the doorbell, and it emits a noisy buzz. Soon, a brunette opens the door and a dog comes scampering out.
"Nigou?" the puppy barks as an answer, and tries to climb up Kuroko's legs.
"Ah, you know each other?" Kiyoshi asks.
"Kiyoshi-senpai, who are you talking to – What the-?! K-kuroko-san?!" Furihata, one of the starting players who Kuroko met during the practice game yesterday, exclaims.
"Ah, you also know each other? What a small world! Haha," Kiyoshi laughs, seemingly unaware of the strange coincidences that's happening too early in the morning.
"Good morning, Furihata-san. I'm sorry for the intrusion," Kuroko says, but Kiyoshi shakes his head.
"As I said, it's okay, right?" then, the taller brunette turns to Furihata. "Kuroko-kun is joining with us for breakfast. Do you guys have a spare plate?"
"O-of course!" the initial confusion fades away, and Furihata welcomes them, as if Kuroko has been here many times before. "Right this way, the slippers are over here – Nigou, stop that!" he says as Nigou bites onto Kuroko's pants. "Kagami-kun, can I have some help here?"
Loud footsteps cause the floor to shake. An angry red-haired teen comes out with a pan at his right, a spatula, at his left, and an apron that says: 'Kiss the Cook'. "Nigou, what the hell are you – " Their eyes meet. Kagami freezes. His mouth opens like a fish.
Kiyoshi deems that expression normal as he says. "Ah, Kagami, good morning! Kuroko is joining us for breakfast by the way! And he knows Nigou!"
The pan clatters to the floor, to which Nigou runs over. Furihata screams: "The eggs!"
Kiyoshi laughs and Kagami snaps back to reality. There is much chaos and noise for such a small room. Kuroko smiles.
For some reason, he feels right at home.
"Wow! This is delicious!"
"Thank you for the meal."
"Oh, come on, Kuroko-kun! You should eat more. Here, let me – "
"Oh, I'm already full, I – okay."
"You too, Furihata-kun!"
"Oh! Thanks, senpai!"
"How about you Kaga – what are you doing?"
"W-what's with you today?"
"I think you should watch your coffee intake, Kagami! Haha!"
"I don't drink coffee!"
"Excuse me, do you have tea – "
"I'll go buy one!"
"But, didn't you guys buy tea yesterday?"
"We're sorry, he's not always like this. Here, let me make you some tea."
"So, anyway, Kuroko-kun," Kiyoshi begins as he pushes his empty dishes to accommodate the cup of tea that Furihata sets before them. "If it's okay to ask, why were you…" Kiyoshi doesn't need to finish his sentence; Kuroko knows what he wants to ask.
Furihata smiles before he lays Kuroko's cup of tea. "Well, I'm going to get Kagami-kun before he does something embarrassing again. I'll leave you two." He bids the both of them goodbye before catching up to Kagami.
When the door clicks shut, Kuroko holds his cup tightly. It doesn't even matter to him when it burns his skin. "I ran away…" he answers. "Conditions at home have turned…sour."
"I see, I'm sorry to hear that," Kiyoshi replies. "Do you have some other place to stay?"
The bluenette shakes his head. "But, I can always stay with my other friends." If he has one.
Kiyoshi takes a long look at him, then shrugs. "Well, if you say so. But, you don't have to leave right now. Riko – I think you've met her already – told us that you can stay here for three days. I think that's enough time for you to sort out things with the friend you plan to stay with."
Kuroko breathes a sigh of relief. Though, at the back of his head, he now has a deadline to find his next step – to go home or to go somewhere else. Those two options don't sound really good for him, if he has to be honest.
"Thank you. I can't express how grateful I am for your help and hospitality. But, I don't want to cause anymore trouble."
Kiyoshi looks a bit disappointed at his answer, but he still beams at him. "That's okay, I understand. Though, if I'm allowed to say something, I hope that whatever's happening with you right now turns okay in the end."
Kiyoshi reaches out to hold his hands, as if to share a little bit of his wisdom and guidance. But, when Kuroko looks through the older man's eyes, he sees tenderness and compassion. As if saying, I know what you're going through, believe me, I've been there. Kiyoshi gently pries his smaller hands off the hot cup, letting him see the raw, pinkish hands that's been damaged by cup.
"I know I'm a stranger, but I'm always here if you need someone to talk to," the bruenette says. "That's how I met my friends!"
"I see," Kuroko feels a tingling, slightly painful sensation on his throat. As if the words are pushing back against the imaginary cork. He swallows, but the pain is still there. "Thank you so much. I'll keep that in mind."
Just then, the door opens. "Hey Kiyoshi, are you in here – " Hyuuga, the captain of Seirin's basketball team, stops. His left eye twitches.
"Oh, good morning! Kuroko and I were – "
"No, no, I've seen enough," the bespectacled teen says, breathing deeply. "And from what I see, you're flirting with the runaway!"
Kiyoshi frowns. "What?"
Kuroko blushes. "What?" Then, he looks at his hands, and pulls away.
"I should've seen this coming," Hyuuga says, pinching the bridge of his nose. Then, he gently grabs Kuroko by the shoulders and makes the most apologetic face he can do. "I'm so sorry if he told you weird things, he's just weird."
"Yo, I heard Kagami made eggs – oh, morning, Kuroko!" From the door, Izuki comes in, pushing Hyuuga away the doorway. "Oh, I see you've eaten an eggsquisite breakfast!"
Everyone stares at him.
Hyuuga turns to Kuroko. "I'm sorry about him, too."
"Why is it so noisy here? What's going on?" Rikos annoyed expression turns to a surprise as she rushes forward to the bluenette. "Oh, Kuroko-kun! Are you okay? Do you feel any better?"
"Stop making a fuss, Riko. You're the one who's noisy." Hyuuga says.
Izuki comes forward. "Yeah, Riko. You're getting too eggcited."
Riko turns to them with cold eyes. "If you guys don't shut it, I'm doubling your training menu."
Izuki contemplates Riko's words, before he perks up to say a pun related to that. Hyuuga slaps a hand on the other's mouth before it is said. Kuroko sweat drops at the scene while Kiyoshi laughs at the three of them.
It's a scene that he and his brothers did once. Kuroko wonders if his brothers can even smile like that anymore, after what he has done. He purses his lips and clenches the cloth under his fingers.
His thought is disrupted when a foot kicks the door open, revealing a sweaty Kagami carrying bags of tea. The whole crowd turns to him as he breathes. "I…Got…The…Tea…Kuroko!"
"Kagami!" Furihata calls, panting from running after the red-haired teen. "I told you – we already have tea!"
"What?! You could've told me before!"
"I already told you before!"
Riko, Hyuuga, and Izuki all end up laughing, while Kagami grows a shade of tomato. A chuckle escapes from Kuroko's lips, and for a moment he forgets what he was all worrying about.
It feels good.
Unknown to the bluenette, Kiyoshi watches him with pensive eyes. A smile grows to his lips when he turns his sights to the arguing red-haired, whose hand still carries the tea bag that Kuroko asked.
It's not in Kiyoshi's place, but he really can't stand how lonely Kuroko's eyes are.
(Reminds him of his, years ago).
Author's Note: You can see my attempt to humour. Lol.