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Growing on You

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Growing on You

One

As the rain continued to fall heavily on the city, Kise breathed a soft sigh as he adjusted the blanket around his shoulders. Damn, he hated this type of weather. The temperature had dropped considerably, and a cold wind was blowing against the window of the living room. A loud crack of thunder shuddered the building, causing him to jump a little, the notebook which had been resting on his lap falling to the carpeted floor with a soft thud. He sighed again as he reached down to grab it, then he settled back down on the couch. He'd been making random doodles on his notebook for an hour now, in hopes of making time go by faster. He'd taken his shower already, and he was waiting for his roommate to get back home. Normally, Kise would be sleeping by now, after working and studying all day, but Midorima had sounded as if he had something that needed to be discussed.

Placing his notebook on the coffee table, Kise got up from the couch before making his way towards the large window. Pressing his forehead against it, he stared at the terrible weather outside. It was near the end of September, and the hot days of Summer had been replaced by the cold days of Winter. For the next four months, there would be nothing but rain, and that usually meant two things; the underground metro system becoming almost useless, and Teikou turning into a chaotic war zone to walk around. Well, at least, the university he went to wasn't that far from his place, so he wouldn't have to worry about getting stuck in traffic for hours.

Midorima had said he would be home before ten, but it was almost eleven. It wasn't as if Kise was too worried, he knew the older man was more than capable of handling himself, but he couldn't stop the little bubbles of anxiety in his stomach. What if something had happened to him? What if the storm had caught him? What if he was stuck in traffic? What if he'd been mugged? What if he-

The door to the apartment room slammed open with a bang, causing Kise to jump again with a small yelp. In the doorway stood his roommate, Midorima, whose bright green hair was plastered to his forehead, and he was currently trying to wipe the water off of his glasses. If he hadn't looked so irritated, Kise would've laughed.

"It seemed like God had decided to send the second flood." Midorima said with a sigh of annoyance, his hand quickly loosening the tie around his neck.

Kise nodded sympathetically. "I'm gonna get a towel for you."

"You do that." Midorima grunted, standing in the carpet in front of the door. A few seconds later, and the blond man returned with a clean towel. "Thanks." He said as he began to clean his face, then he began to dry his hair off.

"Did you eat something on the way? Or..."

"No, but I'm not hungry. I'm going to take change these clothes before I catch something..."

Kise gave another nod. "Right." While the older man went to his bedroom to change himself, the bond man sat back down on the couch. A few moments later, and Midorima emerged in the living room, wearing a pair of green pajamas and a green shirt.

"Ah, much, much better." Midorima said as he sat down on the other side of the couch. Leaning back against it, he looked at the younger man. "Uh, why you're still up? You're usually sleeping by now..."

Crossing his legs, Kise leaned slightly towards the older man, his hands on his knees as he gave him a curious, questioning look.

Midorima blinked. "Oh. That's right. I believe I told you to stay awake and wait for me to get back home, because I needed to talk to you about... something."

Kise nodded.

"Right..." Midorima sighed, glancing off to his side, before letting out another sigh. He looked more exhausted than usual. "I'm moving out."

Kise blinked. "Excuse me?"

"You heard me, I'm moving out of the city." Midorima said, looking back at the younger man. "It's just for a couple of months, though."

"But..."

"But you don't have to worry about the rent." Midorima said, cutting off the blond man. "I have someone in mind."

Kise blinked again. He knew Midorima well enough and he trusted him on a lot of things. While he wasn't interested in his personal life, he wasn't so sure if he could trust him with thrusting a stranger into their apartment for a few months.

"Listen, I know what you're thinking. I wouldn't be doing this if it wasn't important, trust me." Midorima said, sounding a little desperate. "Besides, he's not a stranger I picked up from the streets."

"And who is he?"

Midorima licked at his lips. "A... friend's friend."

"So you don't know him?"

Midorima frowned. "I do know him. I've known him for..." He trailed off, his hand scratching his chin in thought. "One, two years? I can't remember."

"And what does he do for a living?"

"Well, I don't know." Midorima said, shrugging. "He isn't employed, you see, but he, uh, he does a lot of odd jobs here and there. He's an all-around kind of guy, so whatever people ask him to do, he gets it done. But, I can say that he can pay rent just fine."

"Is he in university?"

"I don't think so. Actually, he said he hasn't been to school since he was fifteen. He's around your age, maybe two or three years older."

Kise nodded, his mouth thinning in contemplation. Even though he believed in the older man, he couldn't shake this feeling that he wasn't telling the entire story. Something seemed wrong, but he couldn't quite put his finger on what it was. Then again, maybe he was just being paranoid. He'd known him long enough to trust his judgment, anyway. He sighed and nodded again. "Okay, he can stay."

Midorima's eyes shot up at this. "Really?" He asked, sounding surprised that the blond man had agreed.

"Yeah, sure. But if he causes any trouble, I'm gonna kick him out. No buts."

"Right, right..." Midorima said as he let out a sigh of relief. "Trust me, Kagami is a nice guy. He's just as obnoxious as you are, so maybe you two could get along just fine." The older man chuckled at the blond man's glare. "Well..." He said, getting up from the couch, stretching his arms over his head and yawning. "I'm going to take a shower, then I'm going to head to bed. Good night, Kise."

"Good night, Midorima-san."

As Midorima walked into the bathroom, Kise leaned back on the couch, sighing softly. A few minutes later, and he heard a loud curse from the bathroom, and he gulped. He forgot to turn the water to cold. Again.


It was a Thursday morning when Kise woke up with his cellphone blasting loud heavy metal music in a feeble attempt to bring him from the dead and back to the world of the living. With his head still buried in his pillow, he searched around the bedside table for the little monster which had woken him, before managing to grab it. After fumbling around with it, Kise managed to find the off button, then he slammed it back down onto the table, before screaming as loud as he could into the pillow.

Being awoken at six in the morning was something that Kise would definitely never get used to to.

Turning over, Kise planted his hands on either side of the bed, then he pushed his torso off of the mattress and he groaned as his spine creaked in protest. Throwing his legs over the side of the bed, he sat there for a few seconds, his hair in a complete disarray and his eyes muggy with sleep. Stretching his arms over his head, Kise stood up, then he dragged himself towards the bathroom, yawning as he did so. Closing the door behind him, he pulled down his sweatpants along with his underwear, putting them in the laundry basket. He stepped into the small glass cubic and turned on the shower, letting out a soft moan as the water pummeled down his body.

Kise had been living in Teikou for almost two years now. He was in his second year of university, having just barely managed to survive his first year. After graduating from high school, he had decided to move away from his hometown in Kaijou and had moved to the big city, to study and to work. Needless to say, the day he told his family that he was moving out of their little house had been one of the most hectic days in his life. His mother had made a fuss about it, and even said she wouldn't be his mother anymore if he stopped visiting her. His father had just shrugged and told him to be careful. And his older brother had told him to stay the hell away from any stranger offering him a drink at a party, because he'd end up waking up in cold and dark room and without one of his lungs... so, it had been the craziest day in his life. Ever.

Turning off the shower, Kise stepped out and grabbed a towel from the cupboard under the sink. As he dried himself off, he caught a glimpse of his reflection in the mirror. His hair was a light shade of gold, and his eyes were a soft amber. He had long, delicate lashes, and his skin was pale and smooth. He had the build of an athlete, with lean, toned muscles, and because he used to play basketball when he was younger, he was quite tall. His friends and family had always told him that he should have been a model, but he simply couldn't see himself posing and smiling to a camera all day while wearing many layers of make-up. That wasn't what he wanted to do with his life. What he really wanted to do was to become a comic book artist. Despite not looking like, Kise was a huge nerd, and his dream was to see his drawings being published at a big company like Marvel or DC.

As he continued to stare at his reflection, Kise reached up with a hand and lifted the blond bangs that covered the small scar just above his left brow. He'd gotten it when he was about ten years old. His parents had brought him to the beach, and while swimming, he had hit his head against a rock. He didn't remember much from what had happened afterwards, but from what he could remember, he'd woken up in a hospital bed, with his mother crying her eyes out. Since then, he'd been afraid of getting into the ocean again.

Shrugging off these thoughts, Kise walked back into the bedroom. The apartment which he shared with Midorima was quite old and small, but it was home. The walls were painted white, with a few pieces of art strung about (which Kise had insisted in buying them because he thought the apartment looked too lifeless), and the floor was carpeted red. The living room had a single worn-out couch, with a medium-sized television, and a small coffee table stood between them. The kitchen was small and cramped, with a marble counter and a table, along with two chairs, though neither Kise and Midorima didn't do a lot of cooking so neither of them really cared about it. There was a short hall that separated the two bedrooms, with the bathroom at the end of it. The bedroom in which Kise had been using as his own was equally tiny, with a dresser, a single bed, a bookshelf, which had some books and some action figures which he had bought in an event, and a desk with some photos. The walls had several posters of popular rock bands and superheroes, along with a couple of paintings, painted by Kise himself.

Walking up to the dresser, Kise swung it open and grabbed a pair of jeans, then he stared at the many hanging shirts, before deciding to grab a long-sleeved blue t-shirt with yellow stripes, then he slipped his foot into a pair of sneakers. Kise also snatched one of his scarfs, since Teikou tended to get really cold at night. After combing his hair and putting on some deodorant, he grabbed his umbrella from the desk, then he walked into the living room to grab his keys and wallet. As he finished putting on his coat, Kise heard three sharp knocks on the front door. He glanced at the hour on his cellphone screen and rolled his eyes. There was only one person he knew who would knock on his door at this hour of the day. Walking towards it, he threw the door open and felt himself being pulled into a (rather painful) hug by a mass of black hair.

"Good morning, Ki-chan!" Takao cried gleefully, lifting the blond man and shaking him like a ragged doll.

"T-Takaocchi...!" Kise managed to choke out eventually, his head swinging back and forth. "C-Can't... breath..."

"Oops, sorry buddy!" Takao said with a cheeky grin, letting go of the blond man Kise let out a wheeze of relief "Anyway, I brought you breakfast, so let's eat it and then walk to uni together!"

'Breakfast' turned out to be an attempt at sandwich, burned chicken breast with salad slapped two slices of bread. It tasted like coal, but it was the thought that counted (and what was left of the chicken did taste good), so Kise dug into it without complaining. Once the two were done eating, they washed the plates, then they walked out of the apartment and, after locking the door, they made their way towards the stairs. A few seconds later, and they were stepping out of the building in which Kise lived at and were making their way up the street, and about ten minutes later, they reached the bus stop.

"Alright, so..." Takao began as he pressed his back against a nearby wall, his hands behind his head. "You're coming with me to the club tonight? I know we have a lot of studying to do, but seriously, I'm gonna go insane if we don't take a break from it!"

Kise chuckled softly at his friend. "I wish I could come with you, but I can't. Um, my... my new roommate will arrive today."

"Eh? New roommate?" Takao blinked. "What happened to Midorima-san?"

"He, uh, he had to leave town for a few months. So, um, I'll be sharing his place with a... a friend of his." Kise explained. He wasn't sure of how much information he could share with his friend about his new roommate, especially since he didn't even know the guy.

"Hmm, I see." Takao said, lowering his arms and shoving his hands in his skinny jeans pockets. "By the way, I called Kuro-chan and asked him if he's coming to university today, but he said he can't yet 'cause his grandma is still in the hospital."

"I hope she gets better soon." Kise said, adjusting his bag over his shoulder. "He's missing a lot of classes, if he doesn't starts attending to them soon, he'll have a lot of catching up to do."

"Yeah, I know what you mean." Takao said. He turned his head towards the blond man with a grin. "So... this new roommate of yours. What does he looks like?"

Kise shrugged. "I don't know. I haven't met him yet."

"He isn't gay, is he?" Takao asked, batting his eyebrows suggestively.

Kise rolled his eyes. "And why should I know that? I just said I haven't met him. And why you're asking me that, anyway? Don't you have a boyfriend already?"

"Hey, I'm just asking!" Takao said, sticking his tongue out in a childish fashion. "Besides, if Ki-chan's new roommate is gay, then that means you'll finally get your chance to lose your virginity!"

"W-What are you talking about? I-I'm not a virgin!"

"No, but you're blushing and stuttering, just like one!"

Takao burst out laughing while Kise looked away, his usually pale cheeks turning several shades of pink. Well, he wasn't lying, he wasn't a virgin anymore. He'd lost his virginity way back in high school, but he was still deep, deep in the closet. He'd had a few dates with some cute boys in the past, but that was that. He wasn't like Takao, who was openly gay and had had several boyfriends. His friend's life was a rollercoaster of getting in and out of relationships, and the last guy to fall in his ever growing list of boyfriends was a guy by the name of Miyaji, whom Takao had met during one of their outings to one of the many clubs that littered the city. Kise still wondered to this day how he ended up as just his friend. As far as he could tell, he was Takao's only gay friend.

The bus arrived, and the two hopped on, quickly grabbing two empty seats for themselves. The ride to the campus was a rather uneventful one, but that Kise enjoyed anyway. Teikou was so, so different from Kaijou. It was a big, bustling city, and it had scared him at first, who had spent most of his life in a town so small that it was easy to not find on the map. The tall buildings that seemed to stretch upwards endlessly, the streets which were always packed with people, the constant movement and the noises of the cars... he still wasn't used to all of it, but at least, at this point, Kise knew the way to the university, the cinema, the library, the shopping mall. Aside from Kuroko and Takao, Kise didn't know anyone, but he didn't mind because they were two of the most amazing people he had met. Takao was loud, cheerful, and he usually cracked a joke when Kise was feeling like crap. He was a few months younger than Kise, and yet, he'd had more boyfriends than he could count on his fingers. Kuroko, his other friend, was a very calm, very quiet young man, with soft blue eyes and equally blue hair. He had this strange habit of popping out of nowhere, just like a ghost, and he'd almost managed to scare the blond man to death on their first meeting. He could read Kise like a open book, and he always had a way to cheer him up, either with a few words of encouragement, or a well-deserved (and quite painful, despite his thin arms, he was quite strong), smack over the head. Though Midorima didn't consider himself as his friend, Kise still thought of him as one, and whenever the blond man felt like crying, the older man would offer him his shoulder to cry on (though he'd later complain about Kise drenching his shirt with his tears). All in all, Kise enjoyed his new life.

When his agenda wasn't cramped with work and study, Kise would go out with his friends to watch a movie at the cinema, or to get a drink at a bar or club, or to simply take a walk around the mall or the amusement park. Midorima wasn't much of a party-goer himself, but when his own agenda wasn't full either, he'd bring some beers, chocolate and popcorn, and they'd watch movies on the TV until either of them fell asleep on the couch and the other would carry one to their bedroom. Now that his roommate was gone, there was just Takao and Kuroko, and thankfully, they wouldn't leave him in a while.

After they reached the campus, Kise gave Takao a hug, then he went about his own way towards his classroom. The campus was fairly quiet, which didn't surprise him. Because of the long holiday, most the students were still out of the city, and because the next day was going to be a Friday, they wouldn't come to university until Monday. Kise made his way down the halls, and as he walked into the large lecture hall, he found that a couple of the students were already there. Some were playing on their phones, others were making small conversation, while a few were staring into nothing. Ah, yes, the university atmosphere. Even though he was already used to it, he still couldn't help but grin to himself, then he realized that he was grinning and he kept his head lowered to hide his blush as he walked towards one of the empty seats.

Kise picked a seat that wasn't too far from the front, but not too close, either. Placing his bag under the desk, he sat down before pulling out his cellphone from his jeans pocket. He fumbled with it, answering a couple of messages from his mother, while waiting for the professor to arrive. Eventually, though, the blond man found himself glancing around, and he saw that another guy had taken the seat to his right. He had his head on the desk, his arms folded and he looked like he was sleeping. Kise quickly averted his gaze from him when the guy suddenly lifted his head to look around, then he dropped his head on the desk again.

When the professor finally arrived, Kise put his cellphone back in his pocket, then he reached down into his bag to pull out his notebook. The first class was History of Art, and as the professor began to ramble on about the ancient Greeks and Romans, Kise found himself gazing back at the guy sitting next to him. He wasn't sleeping anymore, and he was glaring at the front of the classroom. Damn, he's hot... Even with the deep scowl on his face, the blond man couldn't help but think that the guy was really gorgeous. His dark blue hair framed his sharp blue eyes, and his skin was tanned deeply. He had a tall, lanky build, with long arms and legs, and even with the loose t-shirt that he wore, Kise could still make out the lines of his strong chest. He was also wearing a pair of dark gray jeans, which tapered down into a pair of worn sneakers.

"I don't get why I have to sit and listen to this crap..." The guy muttered under his breath eventually, his voice deep and raw. "This course is supposed to be about art, not history. Just let me draw something already, goddammit!"

Kise chuckled softly at this. "I take it that you don't have a lot of patience, right?"

"You can take it whichever way you want. I just hate this boring crap." The guy glanced at Kise, then he let out a bored sigh as he extended his hand towards him. "Aomine Daiki."

Kise took the hand that was offered to him and they shook briefly. "I'm Kise Ryouta. Nice to meet you, Aomine-kun."

Aomine leaned back in his chair, letting out a yawn. "So, where you're from, anyway?"

"Kaijou."

"Hmm, never heard of it. Must be a pretty small town, ah? How you're likin' the big city so far?"

"It's... it's a bit scary, to be honest..."

Aomine chuckled. "Well, I suppose it can't be helped. Must have been a big shock when you got here, being from a small town and all."

Kise turned his chair slightly towards Aomine. "So, I take it you're from around here?"

"I think so." Aomine answered, letting out another yawn. He obviously wasn't interested in this class. "I mean, my old man moved in to Teikou when I was just six, so I've been livin' here for, like, my entire life. It's not that bad, well, if you take out the traffic and the noise and... well, everything. Why did you even move in here, anyway?"

"Well, I needed to finish my studies."

Aomine nodded. "Hmm, guess that's a good point. Teikou is known for its universities and colleges, anyway."

They chatted for a while until the class ended. Placing his notebook inside his bag, Kise got up from his seat and turned his head towards Aomine, who was busy shoving his books inside his own bag. "It was nice talking to you, Aomine-kun."

Aomine nodded. "Yeah, whatever."

On the way out of the campus, Kise met with Takao, and the two made their way up the street. Both Kise and Takao worked at a coffee shop that wasn't that far from the campus. It was a small, cozy building that was nestled comfortably between two larger buildings. You know the type of place. A bit hipster, a bit new-age, with white-washed walls, comfy, plush chairs, small, rounded wooden tables and smooth counter. There was a little room tucked in the back, with some arcade games for groups of teenagers who wanted to play instead of drinking coffee. Kise worked there as a barista, serving drinks for the customers while Takao worked behind the counter, taking their orders. All in all, it was a nice place to work at.

At around five, Kise walked out of the coffee shop and made his way towards the bus stop. After thirty minutes, he jumped out of the bus and began to make his way up the street. He had borrowed a couple of books from the nearby library for his studies, and his bag was weighing heavily on his shoulders. Even with the gray clouds signaling that a storm was approaching, the city of Teikou was still very much alive. Some kids were playing at the parks, with their parents closely watching them. Some people were walking with their dogs, waiting patiently while their animals marked their territory on lamp posts and hydrants. Some were getting out of their cars and walking inside the large apartment buildings. Kise had gotten out of work a bit early than usual, as his new roommate would be arriving today. Curiosity had gotten the best of him, and not only that, his parents had taught him some manners, and he thought that the guy might need some help in moving boxes.

The apartment block in which Kise lived at was a nine story building that was crumbling in several places. Out of all the other apartment buildings in the area, it had the cheapest rent, so he didn't complain much. Because it was so old, the elevator was broken most of the time, so he didn't even bother himself with trying it. He lived on the sixth floor, and by the time he reached it, his legs were almost collapsing and he leaned against the wall near his door, breathing heavily.

After he managed to catch his breath, Kise pushed himself from the wall and pulled his keys out of his jeans pocket, then he shoved them in the keyhole before twisting the doorknob around. Pushing the door open, he walked in. He didn't see any truck in the parking lot or any boxes in the hall outside, so he guessed that the guy hadn't arrived yet. He slipped his sneakers off and let his sock covered feet feel the comfort of the carpet under him. Pulling his scarf from around his neck, Kise plopped down gracelessly on the couch, one arm covering his eyes while he stretched his legs out on the couch. Damn, I'm tired...

His stomach rumbling, Kise got up from the couch and wandered into the kitchen. He threw open the fridge door to find a carton of milk that was almost empty, a half opened butter, some rice, and an unfinished, half-frozen lasagna. Taking out the lasagna, he closed the door and grabbed a spoon from one of the drawers before making his way back to the couch. Grabbing the TV remote, Kise turned it on. He dug into his lasagna while watching a very old anime about a robot boy and his human friend trying to save the world from an evil robot. When he was done with eating his meal, he set the empty plate on the coffee table, before nestling comfortably into the couch. After a few seconds, he felt his eyelids becoming heavy with sleep, and he closed them.

When Kise woke up again, it was dark. The only light in the living room was that of the TV, which was now displaying some random game show. Blinking his eyes awake, he glanced at his cellphone, checking the hour. Wow, almost midnight. He wasn't really sure what woke him up. The air was colder now so he stood up and walked over the large window to pull the blinds. As soon as he did that, Kise heard it.

Someone was knocking at the door.

Blinking, Kise glanced at the front door of his apartment with a frown, trying to figure who could be at such an hour. Still frowning and still confused, Kise slowly made his way towards the door and looked at the outside area through the peephole. There was a guy standing outside, but because it was so dark, he couldn't see his face properly. Kise's thoughts quickly jumped to serial killer, but he had a large duffel bag over one broad shoulder, so he dismissed that thought. Maybe it's him? Kise thought, his hand reaching for the doorknob hesitantly, twisting it around slowly before throwing the door open.

When he opened the door, Kise almost let out a gasp. The guy standing in front of him was really beautiful, with his dark red hair messily styled into a crown of short spikes that looked like feathers, and his eyes were a bright red, which were framed by long, split red brows. His skin was tanned nicely, a deep bronze that accentuated the beauty of his eyes and hair. His face was incredibly handsome and masculine but not blocky, with a strong jawline, sharp angles and gorgeous lips. He was dressed in a pair of baggy camo jeans which were tucked into a pair of slightly battered combat boots, and he was wearing a white tank top, with a leather jacket wrapped around his waist. He was also quite tall, even more so than Kise, and he had to look up from his chest to his face, and he had a strong, muscular body that oozed of testosterone and manliness, with huge, tanned muscles. He had a thin, silver necklace around his neck, with a small ring strapped to it, and he also had a couple of tattoos on his body.

This guy was a hunk.

"Hey there." The guy was saying, a small smile playing at the corners of his tanned lips, his voice deep and melodic. "You must be Kise Ryouta, right?"

Kise nodded silently in response. He wished he could find his own voice so he could say something to this man - this gorgeous, beautiful, handsome hunk of a man - but his mind was too busy taking in all those massive muscles of his. Dear God, his arms... his arms! His chest!

Then, the guy's smile broadened a little, and he offered his hand to the blond man. "I'm Kagami Taiga. Nice to meet ya."

Again, Kise could only nod his head, and he swallowed as he reached out, taking his broad, tanned hand, almost letting out a moan when he felt him wrapping his fingers around his own smaller, pale hand in a strong grip. He remembered Midorima saying something about him being around his age, but he gave off the impression of being much older. His eyebrows looked like they hadn't seen a pair of tweezers in years, but somehow, he made them work. Kise could see that the light coming from his TV caught his beautiful eyes, making them shine a vivid red, like two polished rubies.

"So, um..." The guy - Kagami, that was his name - muttered, a light chuckle escaping him. "Will you let me in?"

Kise blinked, and he glanced down and saw that he was still standing in the doorway, and he was still holding his hand. "Oh, s-sorry..." He stammered, finally managing to find his voice, and he quickly let go of his hand (much to his dismay) before stepping aside. "I'm sorry..."

"That's okay." Kagami said as he walked inside, his huge frame filling the doorway. "Sorry for not being able to get here sooner. The bus driver was surely taking his sweet time on the road..."

"That's fine, I'm just glad you got here safe and sound." Kise said, smiling politely at him. "So, um, where... where's your stuff? Do you need any help with moving them?"

"My friend will bring all my stuff tomorrow. I don't have much with me, so I can move 'em on my own."

"Oh, I see." Kise said. "Here, come with me. I'll show you to your room."

"Thanks."

The two walked into the short hall that separated the living room from the bedrooms, and then Kise motioned for him to walk into the bedroom to his right. "Here is the room you'll be staying in. It's a little cramped, but it's big enough for you to move around without hitting anything." He explained. "So, are you hungry? I don't have much left since I haven't stopped by the grocery store yet, but I have some leftovers I can share with you..."

Kagami nodded. "Hmm, yeah, that'd be great. I haven't eaten anything since I came here."

"Alright, let's get to the kitchen."

Walking into the kitchen, Kise took out the bowl of rice from the fridge and put it inside the microwave, heating it up while Kagami sat at the kitchen table.

"So..." Kise began as Kagami wolfed down on his meal. "You're Midorima-san's friend, right?"

"Yeah." Kagami said around a mouthful of rice. "I, uh, I met him through a friend. He's a cool guy, I guess. Pretty smart, too. Used to hang out with him, but since he began working, he stopped talking to me."

"Did he talk to you about me?"

Kagami ran a hand through his spiky red hair. "Yeah, he did. He didn't say much, though, just that you're good-looking and is in university."

Good-looking and in university. Yeah, right, Kise grimaced inwardly as he nodded. Midorima probably said something along the lines of 'If you see a dumb blond kid whose face should be on a modeling magazine, that's him'. Shrugging the thought off, Kise smiled as Kagami put his chopsticks inside the now empty bowl. "Do you want more?"

"Nah, I'm done." Kagami said with a smile as he folded his arms across his chest, leaning back in his chair.

Kise had to remind himself to not stare too much at the way the tanned muscles bulged slightly. "So, um, how old are you?"

"I'm twenty three." Kagami said. "Just turned this weekend. What about you?"

"I'm twenty two. Oh, but I will turn twenty three in November." Kise said. "What do you do? Midorima-san said you're not employed."

"Ah, yeah." Kagami said, running a hand through his spiky red hair. It seemed to be a nervous habit of his. "I, uh, I keep lots of small jobs. They don't pay much, but I can make enough to help you with the rent, though. How about you?"

"Well, I'm in university but you already knew that. I'm working a part-time job as a barista at a coffee shop near the campus." Kise answered. "Where are you from, Kagami-kun?"

"Los Angeles."

Kise's eyes shot up with surprise. "Really? You're American?"

Kagami shook his head, letting out another light chuckle of his. "Nah, I'm Japanese, just like you, but I was raised in America. I've been living there since I was five, then I moved back to Japan."

"Oh, I see."

Silence fell on the table. Kise found that he wanted to ask more, to push him, to ask him about his parents, if he had any brothers or sisters, where they were now. He also wanted to ask if he had any girlfriend or boyfriend, what he liked to do, what music he liked, he wanted to ask about his tattoos, how he got them and why he had so many of them, if he had any life goals, what they were, what he loved the most in the world, what he hated the most... in the end, Kise decided that he wasn't going to pry any further into his life.

"Well..." Kagami said eventually, sighing softly as he got up from the chair. "I'm going to take a shower, then I'm going to get some sleep. Uh, do you want me to wash this?"

"Ah, no, I can wash it for you. After all, you must be dead tired after being on the road for so long."

Kagami nodded. "Hm, thanks."

Kise smiled at him. "Sorry for all the questions."

Kagami shrugged, smiling another of his small smiles. "It's okay."

As he reached the door, Kagami looked over one broad shoulder. The light in the kitchen caught his brightly-colored eyes, and once again, it caused them to shine even brighter, and Kise found himself unable to utter a single word as he stared at those beautiful eyes of his. Then, Kagami walked out, and Kise sighed heavily as he leaned back in his chair.

This was going to be one long Winter.

Chapter Text

Growing on You

Two

Sunlight streamed through the cracks in the blinds, stretching across the carpeted floor and over the white blanket which covered the sleeping blond man. Kise moaned softly as he felt the rays of light warming up his feet, climbed up the bed sheets and assaulting his still closed eyes. He turned away from the invading light, his eyes creaking open slowly as he reached out and grabbed his cellphone which had been resting on the nightstand. He glanced at the hour, realizing he'd woken up ten minutes before his alarm went off. He thought about going back to sleep, but then he figured that doing that would only cause him to become more tired. He'd had a restless night, with strange dreams, but he supposed that was because of Kagami.

Turning off the alarm, Kise tossed his blanket away before lazily rolling out of bed. Standing up on his feet, he stretched his arms over his head, growling lowly in his throat as he did so, then he headed to the bathroom to take his shower. He didn't hear any noises coming from the other bedroom, so Kise theorized that Kagami was still sleeping. With a shrug, he stepped into the bathroom, then he dropped his towel in the sink before stepping inside the glass cubicle. He showered, shivering as the water managed to fully bring his mind into a state of awareness. As he stepped out, Kise shook his head to get the excess of water off, an habit of his that usually annoyed Midorima, then he walked back into his bedroom.

Rummaging through his drawers, Kise found a fresh underwear, then he pulled out a pair of jeans and a long-sleeved blue t-shirt, the shirt a little too big for him but he still liked it anyway, then he pulled out his scarf and one of his coats. As he finished putting on his coat, it began to rain outside. Oh, just perfect, now I'll have to walk through a pouring rain... Sighing, Kise began to search around for his umbrella. He found it lying under his bed, and he pulled it out, letting out a soft hiss when he hit his head while standing up.

Rubbing at the back of his head while cursing under his breath, Kise walked out of his bedroom. As he reached the living room, Kagami stepped out of the kitchen, wearing only his old, faded jeans, his white tank top hanging over one shoulder. He was drinking milk straight from the carton, and instead of raging at the other man for not grabbing a glass to pour the milk in, Kise found himself unable to speak as he let his eyes wander lustfully across the tanned muscles in the red-haired man's body. He was actually glad that Kagami liked to wear mostly tank tops, since they barely left anything for the imagination, because if he didn't, dear Lord, Kise wouldn't be able to endure seeing him without a shirt. He clearly looked like he worked out a lot, if the size of his massive muscles was anything to go by. While the blond man himself was naturally blessed with the body of an athlete, with lean, toned muscles, Kagami, with his perfect body, easily put Kise to shame.

"Yo." Kagami greeted him with a smile when he looked up and saw the blond man.

Kise had to remind himself to keep breathing, because this guy was literally taking his breath away from him. "Good morning..." The blond man answered eventually, swallowing.

"Uh, I went outside to do some mornin' run, but then it started rainin', so I headed back."

Kise nodded. He glanced at the carton in the other man's hand.

"Ah, sorry, I was feeling a bit thirsty after runnin', and I found this in the fridge." Kagami said, giving the blond man a cheeky grin before taking another gulp from the carton. "This one's half-empty. I hope you don't mind me drinking what's left inside."

Kise shook his head. "No, it's okay."

They stood there for a good minute, with the red-haired man drinking what was left of the milk inside the carton, while the blond man found himself eyeing the tattoos on his body. Which were actually two tattoos. There was one of a ferocious Chinese tiger which covered his entire right arm, and then his entire upper body was covered in what looked like a piece of armor, like from those ancient gladiators. He looks like Spartacus... Kise thought, remembering the historical gladiator from the History books, and he felt a light blush covering his cheeks. There was the shoulder-pad on his left shoulder, the iron scales on his left arm, the iron chains and leather strips which held the armor together, the iron breastplate which covered his strong pectorals, and he saw that the tattoo artist even went as far as to add small details to the armor, like the small cross on the shoulder-pad, and the dragon head on his right pectoral. Only his abs weren't inked, but literally every other curve and dip of tanned muscle on his upper body was inked.

"So, uh..." Kagami began after he was done drinking the milk. "You headin' out already?"

Kise nodded.

Kagami nodded back at him. "Hmm, alright then. Got an umbrella with you?"

Kise lifted his umbrella, holding it up. "Got one right here with me."

"Okay, be careful. Ah, that's right, my friend called me and he said he'll arrive this afternoon with my stuff."

"Oh, do you need my help? I could get out of work sooner to..."

Kagami chuckled, shaking his head. "Nah, man, I don't want you to skip work because of me. Besides, it's not like I've got much stuff with me, so it's gonna be easy. Thanks for the offer, though."

"Okay..."

Kagami smiled. "Take care, dude."

Kise nodded. "Right..." As he turned around and began to walk back into the kitchen, presumably to throw the carton in the trash bin, the blond man saw that his broad back was covered with the picture of two large angel wings, their white feathers falling apart, and the blond man couldn't help but stare at the way the muscles of his broad back shifted slightly as he walked.

Shaking his head, Kise checked if he had his keys and his wallet with him, then he walked out of his apartment for the day.


"Ki-chan? Earth to Ki-chan!"

Kise snapped out of his trance-like state in which he had been staring out of the window of the small fast food shop, and refocused his gaze on Takao, who was staring at him oddly, as though he'd sprouted another head and it was speaking gibberish. His big, expressive black eyes blinked at him, and the blond man gave a sheepish laugh as he rubbed the back of his head.

"Sorry..." Kise muttered, smiling awkwardly at his friend.

"You okay, buddy?"

Kise nodded. "Yeah, I'm okay. I was just thinking about, you know, stuff."

Takao nodded. "Okay, if you say so." He said, quickly taking a bite from his cheese burger before swallowing it down with soda.

Kise glanced down at his choice of food, salad, and he grimaced slightly at it. Because he couldn't cook anything decent for the life of him, he had been eating nothing but junk food from the grocery store, and he was starting to earn weight, and the blond man had decided to start a diet. He sighed softly as he speared the healthy green food with his fork, before putting it in his mouth. He wished he had enough money to pay for a membership at the local gym, so he could work out and keep his body in shape. For now, though, he had settled down with eating light food and doing morning runs (when it wasn't raining).

After he'd struggled with the traffic jam for a good hour, Kise had finally managed to reach the campus of his university. The morning had proceeded like the same, as always, and after classes, Kise met up with Takao and they went to work at the coffee shop just down the street. While they worked there, his friend had bombarded him with questions about his new roommate. He'd asked him how old he was, where was he from, what he did do for a living, how he looked, if he was hot, if he was still in university, and the most important question of them all; if he was gay. Kise had rolled his eyes at this. They had just met, and apart from that first conversation that they had had in the kitchen, they hadn't done much talking.

"Ki-chan? Ki-chan!"

Kise blinked, looking up at his friend. "H-Huh?"

"Will you quit spacing out, already?" Takao said, laughing while Kise blushed. "Seriously, even Akashi-sensei seemed a little worried with you today."

Kise snorted at this. "I don't think Akashi-sensei cares all that much." He glanced at his cellphone, then he let out a soft sigh as he reached down and snatched his bag which had been resting on the floor beside him, before standing up. "Sorry, Takaocchi, I gotta go."

"Yeah, yeah..." Takao said with a roll of eyes, waving his hand at the blond man before he was out the door.

God, I hate this weather... Kise thought as he emerged into the rain-soaked city of Teikou, one hand clutching his umbrella and the other hand holding the front of his coat. The bite of the cold wind was nearly painful on his sensitive skin as he made his way through the crowded streets. As he had predicted it, the city had been turned into a war zone to walk around, and he had to dodge the pedestrians who raved at him whenever he brushed their shoulders slightly. It was one of the things about Teikou that Kise found he'd never get used to, no matter how many years he'd spend living there.

In his hometown of Kaijou, it was always warm and sunny, while Teikou was always dull and cold, even in the warmest days. Sometimes, Kise wondered why the hell he'd traded the tranquility of his small town for the hubbub of the big city, but he knew better than anyone why he couldn't stay in the same place he'd grown up in. Besides studying and working, Kise wanted to live as he wanted, do as he please, and meet another man to make him happy. His parents and his big brother had always been insistent that he should find a girlfriend, and well, Kise could never break it to them that he was gay. He didn't think they would have minded if he did tell them though, but still, he didn't really fee like confessing to them that he liked boys. Because he loved his parents and his brother very much, Kise would still visit them from time to time. He only wished he had more money to see them more often, though.

Kise sat in silence, at the back of the bus, soft music blaring through his earphones as he drummed his fingers gently against his thighs. After a couple of minutes, he jumped out of the bus, then he made his way towards his apartment building. The neighborhood he lived in was a dump, but at least, there wasn't much trouble going on, maybe your occasional drug pusher looking to hook you up with something. Okay, so it wasn't that better, but it was still much better than where he had been living in, before he'd moved in with Midorima. Every single day the news up on the TV, announcing that this or that corpse was found in some dirty alleyway or in the river, or that some woman had been raped and beaten brutally afterwards. Kise seriously regretted ever choosing that neighborhood as his first place to live in, and while it wasn't all that good, at least the police tried to do their job to keep the area around safe. Unfortunately, not all places in the city were safe to walk around, as Kise had learned.

As he reached the front of the apartment block he lived in, Kise saw that there was a small moving truck stationed at the parking lot. He paid it no mind though as he entered the building, shaking himself a little to get rid of the water, then he marched up the stairwell. As he walked down the short hall, Kise saw that the door to his apartment room was open. Walking inside the living room, Kise saw Kagami's white tank top resting over the couch, along with a blue blouse, since it was far too small for him. Blinking at this, the blond man cautiously stepped inside the kitchen.

"Oh, hey there." Kagami said with a small smile. He was (again) wearing nothing but a pair of jeans. "I, uh, I stopped by the grocery and got some food for the fridge. I saw there wasn't much in the fridge when I opened it this morning, so I got enough for at least a week."

Kise nodded. "Okay, thank you."

"You hungry? I can make somethin' for you, if you want."

Even though he'd eaten already, Kise's stomach still gave a loud, deep rumble at the prospect of eating again and he blushed. He lowered his head, his blush deepening when he heard the other man chuckling lightly, and he nodded. "Um, sure..."

"Alright then, take a seat."

Giving another nod, Kise went to take a seat in the kitchen table. While the red-haired man went about preparing something for him to eat, he found himself once again staring at the armor-like tattoo and the tiger tattoo on his body. He wanted to ask where he had gotten them (he'd once heard that every member from the Yakuza had their bodies covered in tattoos, but Kagami didn't look like he was from the Yakuza), and why he had them. Even though he wasn't much of a tattoo fan himself, Kise still admired the other man for getting them.

"Here you go." Kagami said with a smile, placing a plate in front of the blond man; fried bacon, eggs, and some rice. "Uh, I forgot to ask, but you're not on diet or somethin' like that, are you?"

"Well, as a matter of fact, I am. But I suppose I can cheat every once in a while."

"Hmm, I see. Well, thanks for letting me know. Next time, I'll make sure to prepare something lighter for you."

With a nod, Kise grabbed a fork and a knife, cutting off a piece of the bacon, before bringing it to his mouth along with the eggs and the rice. "Hmm!" The blond man moaned softly, a smile spreading across his pale lips as the delicious flavor spread through his mouth. "This is so... delicious!"

Kagami smiled. "Thanks."

As he munched down on his food, the door to the kitchen swung open and the blond man glanced over his shoulder. There was a tall woman standing in the doorway, and she looked like she had just gotten out of her shower. She seemed to be in her late twenties and she had long blond hair which was styled into a messy ponytail. Her skin was a pale, creamy white, and Kise noticed that she, just like Kagami, had a couple of tattoos on her shoulders. She was wearing a pair of thick glasses and her eyes were a deep blue. She was dressed in a pair of loose faded blue jeans, and she was wearing the same blouse that the blond man had seen in the living room, which barely covered her large breast. Kise guessed that she was either European or American, judging from her looks.

"Jesus, Tiger, you didn't even tell me where the soap was. I had to search for it for a good..." The woman was saying as she walked into the kitchen, but then she stopped herself in her tracks as she took in the blond man sitting at the table. "My, my, who is this hottie, and why is he not in bed with me?"

Kise blushed hotly at this. "I - um... what?"

"Oh my God, aren't you the cutest thing ever, too!" The woman exclaimed as she gushed over his blush. "Shit, I can kiss you right now." As she was saying this, she walked towards the blond man and Kise jumped from his seat with a small yelp as she moved in to kiss him, but then Kagami grabbed her by her shoulders and gently dragged her away from him.

"Sorry, she's a bit... eccentric." Kagami said with a nervous smile, seemingly unfazed when the woman punched him in the gut. "Kise, this is Alex. She's the friend I was talking about. Alex, this is Kise. He's my roommate."

"Oh-ho! Now I see!" The woman - Alex - said with a sly, knowing smirk. "My, my, Tiger, I didn't know you could swing that way..."

Kagami narrowed his eyes. "Alex..."

"I'm just playing with you, you over-sensitive brute." Alex said, giggling softly at the red-haired man's glare. She smiled at Kise. "I'm so sorry you have to live with this guy. I hope he hasn't caused any trouble to you?"

"No, he hasn't, ma'am." Kise said politely at her and the woman gushed at him even more.

"Such a polite young man, you are! Unlike that brute over there." Alex said and Kagami rolled his eyes. "I'm Alexandra, by the way, but call me Alex for short."

"I'm Kise Ryouta."

"Tiger!" Alex hissed abruptly, her hands on her hips as she glared at the red-haired man in a motherly fashion. "Where are your damn manners? At least, if you're going to cook up something for him, make something for him to drink as well!"

Kagami didn't seem to mind being scolded by her, and he let out a light chuckle as he ran his hand through his hair. "Yeah, you're right. Do you want some coffee? Or..."

"Oh, yeah! Lemme get you some!" Alex said, quickly walking up to where the coffee mugs were located (Kagami probably told her where they were), bustling herself around as if she were his host and he was her guest, instead of the other way around. While she did that, Kagami went over to make some coffee. Kise tried to not think too much of the glow that surrounded his roommate and the woman, and he vaguely wondered if they were a couple, but she hadn't introduced herself as his girlfriend.

"There you go, sweetie." Alex said with a smile and a wink as she handed him a steamy mug filled with black coffee.

Kise nodded, taking a small sip from the coffee. "Thanks, Alex-san."

Alex chuckled. "Oh my, the Japanese really love using that nickname, don't they?"

"How many times do I have to tell you? It's not a nickname..." Kagami said with a soft sigh. "It's an honorific we use to address people with respect."

Alex glared at the red-haired man. "Then why don't you start adding that to my name?" She hissed. "You may lack any manners, but at least, treat your mother with some respect, you damn brat!"

"W-Wait a minute!" Kise said, nearly dropping his mug. "Y-You two are related?!" He blurted out with a small gasp, eyes wide as he pictured the two being in an incestuous relationship between son and mother.

Then, Alex burst out laughing while Kagami looked away, trying to hide his laughter by faking a cough. "No, of course not!" She said between her hysterical giggles. "I mean, do I even look like I could be his mother? Please. I'll admit that he'd make a fine-looking son, though."

Kise blinked, still confused with all of this. "Then, why you..."

"Well, I'm not related to her, if that's what you're thinkin'..." Kagami explained, letting out a nervous laugh as he rubbed at the back of his neck. "I mean, she's not my real mother, but she's been takin' care of me since I was just a kid. She's not even that much older than me or you, but she keeps tellin' me to call her mother."

"Not when we're in bed, though." Alex said teasingly, and Kise could see a light blush covering the red-haired man's cheeks; at least he had the decency to look embarrassed. "I mean, it wouldn't be right, to you call me mother while we're..."

"Alright, alright. Enough with that, please." Kagami said loudly as he pushed her towards the kitchen while she hissed at him.

"Ouch, ouch! Stop pushing me, you damn brat!"

Kise couldn't help the chuckle that escaped him as Alex, despite being much smaller than Kagami, who was a walking mountain of muscles, somehow managed to pull the red-haired man into an arm lock, and the other man laughed as she ruffled his hair playfully. That was the first time that Kise had heard Kagami laughing, and it was so loud and alive and instantly filled the blond man's heart. He's got such a cute laugh... The blond man thought, feeling his cheeks warming up as he watched them banter with each other.

"Alright, so..." Alex said as she let of the red-haired man, smiling at the blond man. "Take care of my son, will you? Bye." She said, laughing loudly as she walked away.

"Listen, um..." Kagami began when they heard the front door closing. "I'm not, you know, I'm not... related to her or anything, really. That's... that's just how she is, but we're not... we're not, you know..."

Kise shrugged. "I understand."

Kagami nodded. "Okay, cool. But really, I don't wanna give you the impression that I'm... yeah. So, uh, you done eating?" He asked, nodding at the blond man's plate. Kise nodded in response, and he took it away and began to wash it in the sink.

With his stomach full, Kise decided to take his shower, so he walked out of the kitchen. Walking into his bedroom, he pulled his shirt over his head, his pale skin practically singing and he breathed a soft sigh of relief, then he dropped himself on the bed with a groan. God, I'm so tired... Shaking his head, he rolled out of bed, then he went over to his desk to grab his towel, before heading towards the bathroom to take his shower. Closing the door behind him, Kise turned on the shower and moaned softly as the water began to not only wash the sweat off him, but the stress and worries of the day as well. This feels so good... Pushing his blond bangs out of his eyes, he reached out for the shampoo.

After taking a long, nice shower, Kise stepped out and rummaged through his drawers, finding a fresh underwear, then he pulled out a pair of blue shorts and a short-sleeved yellow t-shirt with the Batman logo on it. That was a lame color, alright, but he liked it anyway because it matched with his hair. Grabbing his old sketchbook from the shelf near the desk, Kise sat back down on his bed, then he reached into his bag and fished out a pencil and an eraser. He was in the middle of finishing the outlines of Captain America's face, when he heard some knocking on his door and he looked up.

"Enter."

"Sorry 'bout Alex." Kagami said as he stepped into the room. "She's crazy, but she means well."

"It's okay."

"Whoa, what the hell is that?" Kagami asked with a laugh as he looked down at the drawing on the sketchbook. "You an artist or somethin'?"

"Um..." Kise said, rubbing at the back of his head, feeling a little embarrassed now that his 'secret' had been discovered. "Yeah, I am. I, um, I want to become a comic book artist someday."

"You got more like this?"

Kise nodded. "Um, sure, they're in the dresser, in the bottom drawer, if you wanna see them." He watched as the red-haired man walked up to the dresser. He threw it open, then he was squatting down (while giving the blond man a nice view of his ass) before fishing out another sketchbook.

"Damn, these are all impressive." Kagami said under his breath, clearly amused with the blond man's drawings. "Y'know, your style reminds a bit of Fujimaki's drawings."

Kise blinked at this. "You know Fujimaki-sensei?"

Kagami snorted. "Dude, everyone who's into comic books knows who Fujimaki is."

"Oh, so you read comic books, too?"

"Yep. Used to read 'em when I was a kid." Kagami said. He carefully put the drawings back in their place in the dresser, then he looked at the blond man with a smirk. "Y'know, I wasn't expectin' you to be into stuff like comic books, dude. I was kinda expectin' you to be into fashion magazines and stuff like that, y'know?"

Kise rolled his eyes. "Yes, everyone I know tells me that."

"That you should be a..."

"A model." Kise said, sighing softly. "But, I don't really think I could ever stand and pose in front of a camera all day. I mean, the pay may be good, but it just sounds so boring!"

Kagami chuckled softly. "You're not your typical nerd, are you?"

Kise frowned at him. "So what? Do I need to look like one?"

"I guess not." Kagami said with a smile. He looked down at himself, then he looked back at him with a smirk. "Then again, maybe I'm not one to talk..."

"Sure you aren't." Kise said, his frown dropping, an equally amused smirk playing at his pale lips. "You just said you're into comic books, and yet you're telling me how I should look like? Oh, please, the hypocrisy is strong with this one."

Kagami threw up his hands, laughing. "Okay, okay! I'm sorry! Just... don't make me upset, please."

Kise didn't let go of his smirk. "So what? Your hair is going to get all spiky and gold and you're gonna start bulking up?"

Kagami smirked back at the other man. "Yeah, somethin' like that. I'd go with blue, though. Power up and everything..."

Now it was Kise's turn to laugh. "Well..." The blond man said, after recovering from his laugh. "I think you just need to change your hair color, then, 'cause you're already quite big."

It seemed like Kagami liked it when people commented on his physique, which didn't surprise the blond man. After all, who wouldn't, with a body like his? "I get that a lot, but thanks." He said, grinning at the blond man.

"So, which comic books did you read?"

"Well..." Kagami said as he sat down in the chair at the desk. He leaned against it, his biceps bulging as he grasped his hands behind his head. "Lots of 'em, actually. Spider-man was my favorite, though, always liked the guy's sense of humor and witty comebacks. Back then, my mother - my real mother - used to bring me lots of comic books when she came home from work. Since I didn't have lots of friends when I was a kid, I spent my time after school reading 'em in my bedroom."

There was a slight hint of sadness in his voice when he said that, and Kise briefly wondered if something had happened to his mother. He decided he wasn't going to be a jerk to the other man and ask him that question. There was a question that he needed to ask him, though. "Um, Kagami-kun?"

Kagami looked up at him with a raised eyebrow. "Yeah?"

"Can I ask you something?"

"Sure, go on."

"Did it hurt?"

Kagami blinked. "What?"

"The tattoos..." Kise said, motioning for the tattoo of the tiger on the red-haired man's arm. "Did it hurt when you...?"

"Well, yeah." Kagami said, and the blond man blinked at his honesty. "I mean, yeah, they do hurt a little, but you get used to it. Depends also on where you wanna get inked, too. Like your chest, or your back." The red-haired man cocked his head to the side, a small smirk on his lips. "Why? You interested?"

"Um, I don't know. I mean, I've never thought about it..."

"Well, I've got an appointment in a few days, so if you want to, you could at least see how it's done."

"I'll think about it."

Kagami nodded. They chatted for a while, talking mostly about random stuff like work and university, movies and comic books. Kagami revealed that he had quite the knowledge of comic books, which didn't come across as a surprise to the blond man since he said he used to read lots of them when he was a kid. He also knew a lot about movies, especially the older ones, like Star Wars and even Akira Kurosawa's works, impressing him with tidbits about the movies he'd watched. But, despite coming across as a decent guy, Kise still couldn't help but think that the red-haired man was more than what he was showing, and that he was hiding something from him.

Maybe it's just my imagination... Kise thought, quickly brushing the thought off. Kagami was a good person, and he didn't want to ruin his budding friendship with the other man by making wrong assumptions about him.

"Well..." Kagami said with a soft sigh, snapping the blond man out of his thoughts. "I have to get out for a while. You don't mind if I come home a bit late?"

"Ah, no."

"Alright."

Kagami got up, and once again, as he was at the door, he looked over his shoulder. Once again, Kise found himself unable to speak as he drowned himself in those gorgeous eyes of his, and he could swear that he saw something shining in them, besides the light... was it sadness, or loneliness? Whatever it was, it caused his heart to wrench itself a little.

Then, Kagami walked out, leaving a speechless and confused Kise behind. That was... unexpected...


That same night, a few hours after he'd told the blond man he'd go outside for a little while, Kagami had returned to Kise's place, after getting a few drinks at the local pub. Breathing a soft sigh, he reached into the pockets of his jeans and fished out the keys which Kise had given to him. Throwing the door open, he stepped inside, kicking his boots off and placing them beside the door. Since it was past midnight, Kise was already sleeping, so he quietly made his way to his bedroom.

Pulling his tank top over his head, Kagami wandered over his bed and dropped himself on it with a groan. After a few seconds, he rolled over, then he was lifting a hand, his fingers gently gripping the small ring attached to the necklace around his neck.

"Aniki!"

Closing his eyes, Kagami's grip on the ring tightened slightly.

Shige...

Chapter Text

Growing on You

Three

"Ah, there you are. I was beginning to get worried that you might have run away from the party like last time."

Kise blinked and he looked up, and he felt a smile tugging at the corners of his lips as he watched Kasamatsu entering the small, dimly-lit bedroom in which the blond boy had been hiding in for the past thirty minutes. He had a can in each hand, and as Kasamatsu walked over to stand at his side in the small balcony of the room, Kise realized that they were beer cans.

"You want some of this? I know you're not of age to drink yet, but you look like you need some."

"Um..." Kise pondered, his eyes lingering on the beer can for a few seconds. He could hear the loud music coming from the party below, and he gave a curt nod and a smile. "Sure."

Kasamatsu cracked open one of the cans and handed it to the blond boy. "Cheers."

Kise took a sip, lips puckering as he tasted the alcohol for the first time in his life. "Gross..."

"So, what's up with you? Why you're up here?" Kasamatsu asked as he leaned against the balcony, taking a gulp from his own beer can.

"I just wanted to get some fresh air, that's all."

Kasamatsu nodded. "So, pretty tough game today, ah?"

Kise nodded, taking another sip from his beer. "Yeah."

"But we've finally made it to the finals." Kasamatsu smiled as he looked at the blond boy. "All thanks to you, Kise."

Kise felt his cheeks warming up slightly, and he looked away from the other boy's gaze. "Um, thanks, I guess. But I'm not the only one who worked hard, you guys did great, too."

"Yeah, well..." Kasamatsu ran a hand through his spiky black hair, his fingers pressing at the back of his neck. "I guess it's about time I told you this, so... you know I'm graduating this year, don't you?"

Kise nodded. "Yes."

"I've been thinking it over, and I've decided that I'm not going to a university."

Kise's eyes widened at this. "Eh? You're going to stay here in Kaijou?"

Kasamatsu shrugged, nodding. "Yeah, I guess I have no better option than that. I mean, I can't afford to pay for any university, and even if I got accepted, I'd have to get a damn scholarship. But..." He went on, sighing softly as he did so. "I'm fine with living here. I mean, I can get a job somewhere, maybe at the police station, I don't know, but I'll make things work out just fine. And besides, you're a lot smarter than me, so you could get a free ride at some university. Didn't you say you wanted to graduate so you could get into Arts or somethin' like that?"

"Um, well, yeah. That's the plan, but..." Kise trailed off, his fingers squeezing the beer can lightly as he stared down at it. "I don't know..."

Kasamatsu glanced at him, then he let out another sigh as he pushed himself away from the balcony. "Do what you think is right to you, man. It's your life to make."

Kise didn't say anything, just watching as the older boy walked out of the bedroom. He stared down at the front of the large house as some boys walked out, laughing loudly at each other, though his gaze wasn't really focused on them as he continued to unconsciously sip at his beer. He had befriend Kasamatsu not too long ago, in fact, the older boy had hated him throughout middle school and Kise's first year of high school, but now, he was an invaluable friend to him. Kise had forgiven Kasamatsu, because that was what his mother had taught him; that he should not hold a grudge against anyone, no matter how troublesome they had been in the past. That's what he believed in, and throughout the years Kise had built his morals upon that belief.

Shaking his head, Kise pushed himself from the balcony, then he walked into the bathroom to dump the rest of the beer into the sink before dropping the can in the trash bin. He walked back into the bedroom and sat down on the bed. In just a year, he was going to graduate, and though he'd always wanted to move out of town and go to a university, now that he and Kasamatsu were friends, Kise couldn't help but wonder what his life would have looked like if they had moved in together? Well, now that the older boy had told him that he was going to stay in Kaijou, that reality was practically gone.

Sighing, Kise turned over, burying his face into the pillow and closing his eyes, figuring he'd wake up and go home later. He was finding it incredibly hard to believe that in a year, he was going to live on his own in an entirely different city. He still didn't know how he was going to tell that to his mother, though.


The sky was dark, the wind was cold. The temperature had dropped considerably after the heavy rain, and a cold breeze blew through the streets, rustling little pieces of junk and chasing anyone with plans of spending their night outside back into the warmth of their homes. Every house and apartment had their doors and windows shut tightly, keeping as much of the warmth inside their homes and keeping the cold, intruding weather outside. Only in one little apartment, almost in the center of the city, was the window of the bedroom opened slightly.

The only audible sound in the bedroom was the hesitant, sometimes irritated scribbling of a pencil. A tall, young man with bright blond hair sat at the desk, his head bowed till he was only inches away from the surface. A lamp on the desk was positioned so that it lit the piece of paper he was currently writing on. A second young man who was considerably shorter, with soft blue hair and equally soft blue eyes sat on the blond man's bed, his overall behavior much more relaxed than him as he scanned the many pages of the book he was reading with ease. Finally, a third young man with short black hair was lying on his stomach on the carpeted floor of the room, but unlike the others, he wasn't studying as he was typing something on his cellphone. The blond man sitting at the desk was becoming slightly more agitated as the seconds passed by, the moving of his pencil becoming more hastily and less accurate, until he tossed it on the desk and let out a dramatic whine of frustration.

"Mou! I can't do this anymore! Oi, Kurokocchi, Takaocchi, help me out with this, please?"

Both Kuroko and Takao heaved a sigh of exasperation as they lifted their gazes towards the blond man at the desk, and it was the shorter man who spoke up. "Kise-kun, try harder, will you?"

"I'm trying! But this is impossible, I tell you!"

"I don't know why it's impossible..." Kuroko said, rolling his eyes at his friend. Kise could be such a drama queen, that he was beginning to think that he should've taken a course in acting rather than arts. "Honestly, if you can't answer a few question about an artist you're supposed to know about, then you might as well get back to drawing circles and lines and call it a day."

"Are you calling me dumb?!"

"No, I'm saying you're stupid."

"Oh, I see - hey, that's the same thing! You're so mean, Kurokocchi!"

"Seriously, man..." Takao said, looking up at the blond man with a frown. "You're an university student for Christ's sake. Be smart!"

"Oh, if you're so smart, Takaocchi, can you answer these questions to me?"

"Oh, I wish I could do that, but..." Takao said as he held up his cellphone with a grin. "I'm currently busy enjoying myself by watching some naked pictures of my sweet Miyaji-san."

Kise's nose scrunched up in disgust. "Ew, gross."

Takao rolled his eyes, smirking at the blond man. "Crybaby."

"Jerk."

"Drama queen."

"Shorty."

"Uke."

"Hey, don't get into this, Kurokocchi!" Kise said, glaring at the shorter man. "Seriously, you gotta stop using those yaoi terms of yours. They sound ridiculous."

"I think you should read one of these one day." Kuroko said, pulling out one of his yaoi mangas from his backpack. "You could get some useful tips in seducing men."

Kise snorted. "Like what? Drug them up and rape them? No, thanks."

"Man, what a bunch of freaks..." Takao said, shaking his head in exasperation. "I can't believe I'm friends with a closeted gay nerd and a yaoi fanboy. I think I'm the only gay man here who is normal."

"Well, technically, you are not normal. At least, not in society's eyes, anyway."

"Fuck society." Takao growled and Kise chuckled.

"But seriously, can you any of you two please help me with this?"

Knowing that the blond man wouldn't stop asking them to help him, Kuroko gently closed the book he'd been reading, then he slowly got up from his comfortable position and walked over to his desk. "This is a fairly simple exercise, which is something, considering it's from Akashi-sensei." He looked at the blond man. "Are you sure you've been studying properly, Kise-kun?"

Kise huffed out, folding his arms across his slender chest and looking away, a cute pout adorning his pale lips. Okay, so he hadn't been studying that much, since he'd been busy with work and stuff, but still, it wasn't his fault that their professor was a bipolar sadist. While Akashi was sweet and caring when he was teaching, he'd become cruel and ruthless if his students didn't match his expectations... which happened every year. The only one who had managed to escape his wrath so far was Kuroko.

"I know. But still... they're too hard, okay?"

Kuroko rolled his eyes at the desperate, pleading look on the blond man's face. If he were Takao, he'd have smacked him over the head already while telling him to keep trying, but he also knew it wouldn't have effect on Takao. Hitting Kise now probably would have some effect, but still, he also was aware that it would work for just a few seconds. So instead, Kuroko picked up Kise's textbook, flipped a couple of pages before returning it to the table. "Read this again." He said, before turning his back and making his way back to the blond man's bed.

Taking in a deep breath, Kise flipped another page on his notebook, then he began to formulate his answer to the question, the pencil still moving rapidly but his mind was much more calmer now while Kuroko was back at his bed, with the book in his hands. Takao looked at the blond man for a moment, then he shook his head, laughing quietly to himself as he returned to his cellphone. The three remained like that for a while, and the peace was only disturbed when they heard the front door of the blond man's apartment opening.

"Is that who I think it is?" Takao asked, breaking the silence as he glanced at the bedroom door.

"Well, who other than Kise-kun would have opened the door without the key?" Kuroko deadpanned, his eyes still on the book.

"Oh!" Takao grinned. "Ne, ne, Ki-chan, tell him to get over here! I wanna see him!"

"Takao-kun, behave."

"Hey, Kuro-chan, you're not my mom! Come on, Ki-chan, lemme see him!"

Kise sighed loudly, closing both the notebook and the textbook, figuring that now that Kagami had finally gotten home, Takao wouldn't stop asking him to see the other man. Since he'd been studying for an hour, he also figured that this was a good opportunity to take a break from his studies. Getting up from his chair, he walked out of his bedroom, and as he wandered into the living room, he saw Kagami walking out of the kitchen, a glass filled with milk in one hand, a carton in the other hand.

"Yo." Kagami said with a smile. "You're home early."

"Yeah." Kise said, smiling back at the other man. "I didn't have work today, so I figured I could use some of the extra hour to do some catching up on my studies."

Kagami lifted an eyebrow. "You've been studying all afternoon?"

"What? Oh, no, not at all. Well, I'm with some of my friends, so there was more playing and joking around than..."

"Hi there!" Kise was suddenly interrupted by Takao's cheerful, loud greeting and he went very still as the raven-haired, shorter man walked out of his bedroom, with Kuroko following him closely behind. "You must be Ki-chan's new roommate, right? I'm Takao Kazunari, his best friend! The guy standing behind me is Kuroko Tetsuya, his other best friend! We're both pleased to meet you!"

Kagami chuckled lightly as he took the hand that was offered to him. "I'm Kagami Taiga. Nice to meet you too, Takao. Kuroko, it's good to see you again."

Kuroko nodded. "Same here, Kagami-kun."

"Wait, you guys know each other?" Kise asked, his eyes widening at the revelation that his friend knew the red-haired man.

"Well, sort of. I was fixin' his mother's car and I saw him walkin' inside the house..."

"Holy shit, you're tall." Takao said as he eyed the taller man up and down, cutting off his conversation with the blond man. "I thought Ki-chan here was tall, you know, but you're taller than him! And hotter - ouch, what the hell was that for?!" He cried when he felt Kuroko elbowing him sharply on his side.

"Please, ignore him and continue." Kuroko said, smiling as if nothing had happened.

"Well, as I was sayin'..." Kagami said, chuckling lightly. "I met him while I was doin' some work for his mother. I didn't know he was your friend, though."

"And I didn't know you were Kise-kun's roommate." Kuroko said in a deadpan. "But that's a relief, actually, knowing that he has someone as reliable as you, since he's so useless when he's alone..."

"I can agree with that." Takao piped up, rubbing at his side with a hand.

"Hey!"

"So, you guys are doin' the same course?" Kagami asked as he sat down on the couch.

"Um, yes and no. I mean, me and Kise-kun are doing Arts, while Takao-kun here is doing Photography." Kuroko explained. "What about you, Kagami-kun? Are you in university, too?"

"Ah, no..." Kagami said as he ran a hand through his red hair. "I dropped out of school when I was... fifteen, I think? So I haven't picked up a textbook in a while. Anyway..." He sighed softly as he got up from the couch. "You guys are hungry?"

Takao lifted a hand. "I am."

"Thank you for asking, but I'm not hungry." Kuroko said, smiling politely at the taller man. When the blond man didn't answer, he blinked at him. "Kise-kun?"

Kise blinked, and he looked back at his friend. "Huh?"

"Stop spacing out, man!" Takao said, laughing.

"Ah, sorry... yes, I'd like to eat something, please..."

Kagami nodded, and as he walked into the kitchen, Takao turned his head towards his two friends. "Holy shit, that's one hot dude! Jesus, did you see the size of those muscles?"

Kuroko nodded in agreement. "I can agree with that, Kagami-kun is indeed one handsome man. If Kise-kun wasn't so shy about his own sexuality, I believe he'd be flirting with him by now."

"I don't think he's into other guys..."

Takao raised an eyebrow at the blond man. "Oh, so he's straight?"

"I think so. You see, a few days back, I saw him talking to this woman and they were..." Kise trailed off, feeling a blush rising to his cheeks as he recalled his first encounter with Kagami's 'mother', Alex. He shook his head, shaking the memories off. "A-Anyway, I don't think he's gay at all..."

"Oh, damn, that's lame."

That same night, after eating and after both Kuroko and Takao left his apartment, Kise lay in his bed, unable to fall asleep. His amber-colored eyes stared at the ceiling above him, while listening to the sounds of the silent building - the groaning of the old foundations, the drip of the leaky tap in the bathroom, which neither he or Midorima had never managed to fix (he was going to ask if Kagami could do that for him). After a couple of minutes of turning over and over in the mattress, he decided to drink some water, and so he threw his blanket aside and rolled out of bed. As he walked into the living room, Kise saw that Kagami was still awake. He was standing outside, in the little balcony overlooking the street below, his back turned to him. A cloud of smoke lingered around him, and the blond man realized that the other man was smoking. Ignoring the strong smell of nicotine, Kise walked up to him.

"Hey." Kise said as he approached the other man.

Kagami looked over his shoulder and smiled at him. "Hey yourself. Can't sleep?"

Kise shook his head. "Yeah. You?"

Kagami nodded, taking a long drag from his cigarette. "Yeah. Same here..."

"Sorry about Takao. He's an idiot..."

Kagami chuckled, shaking his head. "Nah, he's kind of cool. You've got some really nice friends, ah?"

"Ah, yes, they're good people." Kise said, leaning against the balcony, watching the traffic jam. Even though it was close to midnight, the city of Teikou was still very much alive. "What about you? Do you have friends? I mean, aside from Alex-san, do have other friends?"

"Yeah. Let's see..." Kagami drawled, blowing out another cloud of smoke. "Well, most of 'em don't live here in Teikou, but there's Alex, and then there's Himuro, and he also happens to be my tattoo artist."

"Oh, so this Himuro-san is the guy behind all these awesome-looking tattoos on you?"

Kagami chuckled. "Yeah. But don't say that in front of him, please, he's got a rather big ego."

Kise chuckled softly at that. "I'll keep that in mind."

They remained silent for a while, the two just enjoying the cool breeze blowing around them and the view of the city. It was the first time that Kise was this close to Kagami, and despite the awkwardness between them, he felt oddly comfortable with his presence. He couldn't explain why, but the blond man also felt oddly warm with the other man. It was also the first time that Kise noticed a few, minor details in the red-haired man that he hadn't noticed before, like the small tattoo of the number 10 at the back of his neck. Kise blinked when his eyes wandered towards his hands, and he saw what looked like small scars marring Kagami's fingers.

After a few minutes of silence, Kise decided to speak up. "Um, can I ask you something?"

Kagami glanced at the blond man, then he glanced back at the city. "... Yeah."

"Do you have a family?"

Kagami snorted. "Dude, I'm not that old to be married, you know."

"No, I mean... do you have parents? What are they like?"

"Dead." Kagami said, taking another drag. "My father left my mother when I was two, so he's dead to me. My mother... well, my mother died from overworking when I was six. Used to live on my own until Alex took me in."

"Oh... I'm so sorry..."

"Don't be sorry. How 'bout you?"

"Oh, um... my parents are still alive. I have a big brother, too."

"Do you visit 'em?"

"Yes. Whenever I have enough money for a train ride."

"Hmm..."

Silence again. It lasted for a good minute, and then Kise spoke up again. "Can I ask you one more question?"

"Sure. Go on."

"Why did you drop out of school?"

The cigarette nearly slipped from Kagami's fingers.

"Sorry, is it... is it personal?"

Kagami nodded. "Well... yeah."

"Um..." Kise swallowed, glancing away. "... Sorry."

"No, that's... that's okay." Kagami said, taking a deep breath. "It's just... it's not somethin' I wanna talk about. So, if you don't mind..."

Kise nodded and murmured. "No, it's fine..."

Then, Kagami walked out of the balcony. Kise sighed heavily as he heard the door to the red-haired man's bedroom closing. Stupid, stupid Ryouta...


When Kise woke up in the next morning, he found that he had fallen asleep with his notebook in one hand, his pencil in the other. Yawning, he shoved both of them back in his backpack which had been resting on the bedside table, then he got up from his bed and slowly trudged his way through his bedroom floor. He threw the blinds open before leaning over the window and staring at the scenery outside. The rain was pattering gently on the cold morning asphalt, running down the widescreens of the moving cars, sliding along the gutters of the buildings and bouncing off from the passers-by's umbrellas.

Pushing himself from the window, Kise grabbed his towel from the desk, then he headed towards the bathroom to take his shower. Stepping inside, he closed the door, then he turned on the shower and, while waiting for the water to warm up slightly, he hung his towel on the hook by the door and pulled his underwear down, putting it in the laundry basket. He wandered over to the sink and braced his arms on the counter, looking at his reflection in the mirror.

"I shouldn't have pried in his life like that..." Kise mumbled to himself, pushing himself away from the sink and climbing in the shower, letting out a small yelp - the water was hotter than he thought. Not having time to complain about such things like temperature, he gritted his teeth and stuck his head under the boiling stream, letting out a curse as he did so. As he washed his hair, Kise decided that he was going to apologize to Kagami for intruding in his life. Whenever he talked about his past, the red-haired man always talked vaguely about it, never giving too much information, and the blond man guessed that something must have happened to him in the past. Whatever it was, Kise felt that he didn't deserve to pry into his life. After all, he didn't even know the other man.

Rinsing the shampoo out, Kise ran some conditioner through his hair, soaping hismelf up and then letting the water blast the suds off of him and rising his hair out before turning the water off, then he climbed out of the shower. Grabbing his towel from the hook, he dried himself off quickly before the cold hit him, and after brushing his teeth, he wrapped the towel about his waist and stepped out of the bathroom. Walking back into his bedroom, he pulled out some faded baggy jeans, then he pulled on a red t-shirt before stepping out of the room.

Wandering into the kitchen, Kise prepared a bowl of milk, then he opened one of the cabinets and took out a box of chocolate cereals. He poured the cereal in the bowl, watching with interest the white liquid slowly turning into a light brown color as he mixed it with a spoon, then he took a seat in the kitchen table. As he ate his cereal and milk, Kise began to send a few messages to his older brother, telling him that he'd come home for Christmas. After he finished eating, he stood up, then he washed the bowl in the sink before turning the water off and walking out of the kitchen.

"Oh, good morning..." Kise said, smiling nervously as Kagami walked out of his own bedroom.

Kagami yawned, before nodding and smiling back at the blond man. "Mornin'."

If he hadn't had better control, Kise would have laughed at his roommate's disheveled appearance. Kagami had a serious case of bedhead (though not as serious as Kuroko's), and one of his cheeks had a rather large red mark, as if he'd fallen asleep with his hand pressed against his face, and he noticed that the baggy pants that he had on him were lower on one hip than the other.

"Did you sleep okay?"

"Yeah." Kagami answered, letting out another yawn. "Uh, I'm gonna do some mornin' run, then I'm gonna head out for work."

"Sounds good." The red-haired man nodded, then he turned around, and as he began to walk back into his room, Kise called out to him. "Um, Kagami-kun?"

Kagami looked over one broad shoulder and cocked an eyebrow at him. "Yeah?"

"Can we talk, after we both get back home?"

"Yeah, sure."

As the door to the other man's bedroom closed, Kise breathed a soft sigh, then he walked over to the couch where he had left his backpack, before heading out for the day.

It was a calm Friday afternoon, and since Kise didn't have work on that day, he had invited Kuroko to come with him to the public library after classes. Much to the blond man's surprise, he found that Aomine was already there, and he was even more surprised when the tanned man asked him if he could join them. That had come out as a surprise to him because Aomine had said once that he hated group studies since they were a waste of his time. He was also a hard-working student, despite the fact that he never paid attention to any of his classes and he usually slept throughout most of them. When Kise asked him about his lack of attention, he just shrugged and told him that they were boring and stupid.

As Kuroko's voice droned on, speaking to them about the classes they had, Kise found himself glancing at the tanned man sitting on the opposite side of the small, round table. He'd never paid much attention to him while they were in classroom, since he couldn't afford to fail Modern Arts, which was Akashi's class, but now that they weren't in classroom, he found himself stealing quick glances at him. He had to admit, even with the permanent scowl on his tanned face, Aomine was gorgeous to look at. He had a nice, sharp, strong jawline, which accentuated the rest of his chiseled look. His lips were full, and for the first time, the blond man noticed the small, black metal ball just under his bottom lip. His nose was nicely shaped, and his eyes were sharp, with a mysterious blue glow in them. Even though he looked like he was about to fall asleep at any second, he was incessantly scribbling down nearly every word Kuroko was saying.

"I think we're due for a break." Kuroko announced, snapping the blond man out of his thoughts.

"Finally, my ass was startin' to get sore from sittin' for too long." Aomine muttered, and Kise couldn't help the chuckle that escaped him. The tanned man looked at him and glared, and the blond man quickly swallowed his chuckle.

The three walked out of the library, then they went over to one of the nearby grocery stores to buy something for them to eat. Kise got himself an orange juice, while Kuroko bought a vanilla milkshake. As Aomine stepped in the line to pay for his own lunch, Kise turned his head towards Kuroko and said. "Hey, Kurokocchi, can we go outside? I wanna talk to you about something."

"Sure." Kuroko said, giving the taller man a curt nod. As they stepped on the pavement outside the cafe, the shorter man began. "So, what is it?"

"You live next to Aomine-kun, right?"

Kuroko nodded. "Um, yes, I do. Why?"

"Well..." Kise shifted on his feet. "What do you think of him?"

Kuroko blinked, taking a sip from his frozen drink, before saying. "Well, he's nice to have around, I guess. A bit noisy, though."

"No, I mean... what do you think of him as a person? As in, his personality and his looks?"

"Oh." Kuroko blinked again, his pale lips slowly curving into a small, knowing smile. "Why, that's interesting."

"Please, don't tease me now." Kise said with a frown and the smaller man chuckled.

"Well, in terms of looks, he's quite the looker, even with the bags under his eyes. In terms of personality, for a lack of a better word, he's an idiot." The blond man winced slightly at the bluntness in his words, but Kuroko paid it no mind as he continued. "He's also surprisingly cool and polite, though he's also short-tempered and gets easily irritated with anything. He's also a bit of a pervert."

"So..." Kise sighed, disappointed. "I guess I have no chance with him too, huh?"

Kuroko shrugged. "Who knows? Maybe you do, maybe you don't." He shook his head, smiling. "You know, Kise-kun, if you're that desperate to get a boyfriend, you know I'll always be available."

Kise couldn't help but roll his eyes at that. "Yeah, right. I know you don't do relationships."

"I certainly do not. But, if you're so desperate to get laid, I could help you with that. I'm seme, though."

Kise gasped, blushing. "Kurokocchi!"

"Thank fuck, I finally got out of that shithole."

Aomine's deep, rough voice interrupted them as the tanned man stepped out of the grocery store. He jabbed his middle finger at the clerk working behind the counter before the glass door slid shut, and then he turned towards the two of them, a deep scowl on his tanned face.

"The son of a bitch didn't want to give my change 'cause it was just five cents. Can you believe that shit?"

"I have to go now." Kuroko said, chuckling lightly. "Aomine-kun, can you do me a favor and walk Kise-kun back home? He isn't feeling too well, and his place isn't that far from here."

Kise glared at his friend. Kuroko merely smiled at him.

"Uh, sure." Aomine grumbled while unwrapping his burger.

That Kurokocchi, seriously... Kise thought, sighing softly as he walked up the streets, with the tanned man walking right next to him. As they rounded the corner, it began to rain and the blond man reached into his backpack to pull out his umbrella, and then he let out a groan of frustration when he realized he hadn't brought it with him. He blinked though, when the rain suddenly stopped falling on him and he looked up and realized that Aomine had opened his own umbrella, and was sharing it with him.

"Aomine-kun...?"

"Yeah, it's stupid, I know." Aomine drawled, taking a bite from his burger. "Shit, this is just like some stupid, cliche-filled teen romance. But, I suppose that since you're not feeling well, and since it looks like you forgot to bring your umbrella with you, I don't mind sharing mine. Besides, you can't risk catching a cold right now, we've got some tests coming up."

"I-I see..." Kise stuttered, smiling timidly at the tanned man. "... Thank you." As he continued to walk down the street, the blond man looked down at his feet, his cheeks turning several shades of pink as he thought how Aomine of all people sharing his umbrella with him was incredibly... cute. God, this is so ridiculous...

"So, why did you get into Arts, anyway?"

Kise shrugged, shoving his hands in his jeans pockets. "Well, I've always liked to draw, so I guess it was just natural for me to get into it."

"I see."

"What about you?"

Aomine adjusted his grip on the umbrella, then he shrugged. "To be honest, I don't even know why I'm doin' it, y'know? What I really wanted to do though, was to be a police officer, but... ah, I can't do that."

Kise blinked. "Eh? Why not?"

"Mostly bad stuff I did for a livin' when I was a kid, like stealin'. When you're a nobody livin' in the streets and you're starvin' and nobody gives a shit to you, you just can't help yourself."

Kise nodded slowly. "Um, I... I guess I can understand that." He glanced away, blinking. Hmm, his story is incredibly similar to Kagami-kun's... is this just a coincidence?

"So..." Aomine began after a moment. "How long you've been drawin'?"

"Um, since I was little. I... I never thought I was good at it, but then I met a friend at middle school. His name's Kasamatsu, and he's the one who encouraged me to keep drawing."

"Hmm, that's kinda cool. Where's he at the moment? Do you guys still hang out?"

Kise swallowed, shaking his head. "Um, no, we don't hang out anymore. He... he's dead."

"Oh, fuck! I'm so sorry!"

Kise shook his head again. "It's okay..."

"Hey, I mean it, really." The sudden gentleness in the tanned man's voice surprised the blond man, and he lifted his eyes to look up at Aomine, who was smiling down at him. "I'm very sorry to hear that."

Kise didn't say anything in response, but he gave the other man a small, weak smile. He's... surprisingly kind, too.

They didn't talk much after that, and about five minutes later, they reached the blond man's apartment block, and Aomine cleared his throat and looked at Kise. "So, uh, you'll be okay?"

Kise nodded. "Yeah, I'll be fine. Thank you for asking, though."

"Yeah..."

Kise smiled at him. "You're really nice, Aominecchi. I hope I'll get to know you more."

"Uh, yeah, sure. Whatever you say." Aomine said, smiling back at the blond man, before turning and walking away. As he reached a nearby bus stop, he raised his eyebrows. Aomine... -cchi?