This is officially the international week of pissing me off, Taiga thinks as he throws the mobile on the sofa, only to jolt in watching it bounce and hit the floor.
He had just hung up on a phone call from his father. Yes, his father, who was across the globe and still seemed to find time – despite the different time zones – to get on his nerves. It had been the same old talk about how he was doing in college and, of course, about how long would it take for him to deal with his expenses on his own. As if the pressure at university hasn’t been tough enough. He’s been studying like a nerd for over three weeks now, not to mention he’s been looking for a part-time job. He deserved praising, not scolding, and that was pretty much what the call had been about: Chiding and getting his dander up .
To make matters worse, he hasn’t been able to play basketball, which totally contributes to his high levels of stress. As if that isn’t awful enough, the last time he actually had a chance to play, it was a one-on-one against dickhead Aomine and, crap, he had lost. Of all people he hated losing to, Aomine was on top of the list. So Taiga really wanted time to get his revenge on that bastard and show him he could beat him.
Feeling pissed about both his father and Aomine, he realizes he needs to chill before his boyfriend comes home. He was thankful that, as he woke up from a nap that was an extension to a night’s sleep, he found Tetsuya’s note on the fridge’s door . It read that his partner had gone to the nearest grocery store to the building they lived in. Tetsuya had probably noticed he was tired as hell and hadn’t wanted to wake him up, even though they had agreed they’d go shopping together. Their cupboard was almost empty; the both of them had been studying so hard on the last few weeks they barely had the time to take care of simple stuff, such as their meals. Taiga didn’t like ordering take out food, not on a daily basis anyway. Every now and then they’d go to Maji Burger, but lacking hours of sleep plus having an unbalanced diet would quickly take its toll on their bodies – on Tetsuya’s especially – so he has better cook for them. He even likes doing it, for it kinda helps him to relax. However, he can’t do it if they don’t have the ingredients. And they don’t, because they don’t have the freaking time to go to the grocery store. College life is hell; he wishes his father knew it before wasting money on an international call to suggest his son isn’t taking things seriously.
The redhead sighs and throws himself on the couch, his long legs finding support on the coffee table in front of him. He’s tired, both physical ly and mentally.
Well, if he’s lucky enough, Tetsuya will manage to bring as many stuff by himself as possible and he will finally be able to cook a decent meal for them. It’s Saturday, so they can even have a special lunch to celebrate the fact that they survived the dreadful exams week. That thought calms him down a little, which is good. He doesn’t wan t to take it out on his boyfriend; Tetsuya is one of the few people who doesn’t piss him off. Quite to the contrary, he somehow manages to help him cool his head, even if it takes cold looks and pokes on his rib for that, which sometimes it does.
Thinking about the short blue haired guy makes him smile. He’s such a fool for Kuroko Tetsuya. To think he once found that guy weird and annoying! He wouldn’t be able to explain how Kuroko became someone important to him, his most important person. Once high school ended, it had been settled that they would move in together. By then, they were still sort of hiding the fact that they were more than mere friends and partners on the basketball court. To Taiga’s utter amazement, none of their friends were surprised when they told them they were together. “Oh, finally,” some of them had commented. It hadn’t come as a shock to the former Generation of Miracles’ members either. It was like everybody knew, even before Taiga himself had been aware of his romantic feelings for Kuroko. Then, in the blink of an eye that guy, his shadow, had become Tetsuya to him. And he was there, sharing his apartment, his life, his victories and sorrows. Taiga can’t recall how things were like before Kuroko, and he doesn’t care. He’s glad he stuck around. Tetsuya helps him on being a better person, and he likes that.
The redhead doesn’t notice the hours passing by nor the fact that Tetsuya should be home by now. The grocery store i s a block away from their apartment, besides, the bluenette probably wouldn’t buy all the stuff they needed but the basics, most urgent ones.
In fact, since Taiga has been spacing out, he also fails to notice the approach of a small being. As a 3-inch latex basketball is left by his feet, he jolts and almost falls from the couch. Damn it! He’s gotten used to Tetsuya’s lack of presence, but not to that little monster who seems to take after his owner.
“What the-- dammit, you!” He yells and glares at the dog, who seems to return the displeased look.
He had voted against bringing Nigou with them when he and Tetsuya moved in. That didn’t change a thing. Before his stuff had been fully unpacked and stowed, that guy already had his own spot at the apartment, and walked around wagging his tail as if he owned the place. Eventually, Taiga gave up fighting against the ball of fur’s presence. When Number O ne wasn’t around, he’d even try and get along with the pup. He’s long overcome his fear of dogs – of Nigou, at least – but he won’t ever admit he’s no longer truly annoyed by that being Tetsuya claims to be their canine child. And even though the two of them are alone, he scoffs out of habit. Nigou whines and pushes the ball in his direction once again, not giving up. He’s as stubborn and perceptive as his owner, it seems, because if that isn’t him luring Kagami into playing with him, the redhead doesn’t know what is. It feels as though Nigou knows that he misses playing basketball. So he accedes and takes the pet’s toy, throwing the small ball into a 2 feet tall basket set in the corner of that room, near the balcony’s sliding doors. By the time the ball lands, Nigou is already close to the basket and grabs it with his mouth, like a normal dog would. Instead of bringing it back to Taiga for another throw, however, he jumps and tries to do something the power forward swears is a canine’s version of a tear drop. What no regular pet would ever do.
He takes the bait, so next thing he knows he’s playing with his so-called son. That is, until he hears the front door open.
Pulling up a front is what Taiga d oes best. Not being fooled by it even a bit is what Tetsuya has mastered at. When the latter steps into their place, he doesn’t try to hide the smile that is drawing on his face. Tetsuya knows those two have been playing together; he can tell by the way Taiga is standing awkwardly in the middle of the room, but mostly by the excited look on Nigou’s eyes as he holds the small basketball in his mouth. The dog is standing not much farther from Kagami, behind him.
“I’m back,” Tetsuya politely announces, closing the door behind him.
As if taken back from his sudden freeze, Taiga walks towards the door. He can see Tetsuya is carrying a lot of plastic bags, he could probably use some help.
The redhead is halfway to reaching his boyfriend when he stops dead in his tracks. What appears to be Nigou is standing beside Tetsuya, and is sticking its tongue out and wagging its tail slowly, hesitantly even.
How come the dog got there so fast? Taiga knows Nigou can’t be considered a regular pet; the years spent being Seirin’s basketball club number 16, as well as its spoiled mascot were probably what had taught him so many tricks. Taiga would even bet he has learned his owner’s misdirection techniques, which is creepy as hell, but not something he rules out as a possibility.
Yet, that is utterly ridiculous. There’s no way that guy managed to move so fast and unnoticed no less. Besides, something about him seems off. Like he’s suddenly gone smaller or something. Taiga blinks twice as he stares at the dog; meanwhile, Tetsuya studies his reaction closely.
The tall redhead isn’t ready for what happens next.
“I'm not mad,” he stubbornly states.
“Yes, you are. Obviously.” Tetsuya retorts .
They are still standing close to the door, surrounded by two dogs which look like twins, if that’s possible for their species. Nigou is still sniffling the newcomer, apparently deciding whether he wants to welcome him or not. Kagami has already decided he doesn’t, and that’s why he’s glaring at his blank faced boyfriend – although by now even he can see the dead serious look in those blue eyes.
He had been shocked by the realization that the dog by the door wasn’t Nigou, when Nigou himself approached them and faced his similar suspiciously. Taiga had even blinked three, four times, hoping that that was a mirage or something. It wasn’t.
“Taiga-kun, meet Sangou,” Tetsuya had introduced the little monster, looking as straight-faced as ever.
“San-- what the hell, Kuroko? Tell me you’re kidding.”
Using their family names was an indication things were about to get serious. It had taken them a while to get used to being on a first name basis, but ever since they did, the surnames would only come up in formal occasions or fights. This was definitely not a formal occasion.
“No, I’m not. Nigou has been quite lonely with all of our studying and absence, so when I found this poor stray dog who is definitely his counterpart , I knew it was time for us to increase our family,” he deadpanned.
“F-family?!” Taiga stuttered, looking from Tetsuya to the two dogs in disbelief. He regretted thinking his partner didn’t piss him off. He did. In times like this.
They had discussed for a while the reasons why they were or weren’t keeping the supposed Nigou’s sibling, when Kagami just crossed his arms in front of his chest. “We’re not keeping him. Period.”
That had led to where they stand now.
“It’s not about being pissed, Kuroko. We already discussed it before, we can’t afford having another annoying dog.”
Nigou whines as though he gets the offense.
“I have a part-time job. You ’ re getting one yourself. I suppose that means we can afford another kid, Kagami-kun.”
Taiga is pissed. Tetsuya knows how he feels about dogs, yet he shows up with that ill-natured surprise. Deep down inside, the redhead knows his anger doesn’t come only from that; thinking about the expenses of raising a pup (and he’s mad Kuroko leads him to think of those creatures as children) takes him back to the talk he had with his father that morning. Can’t anyone in his life respect his feelings and wishes for once?
“Fine. If you want so bad to keep these two, you better think about someplace else to do so. I ai n’ t sharing the place with a duo of little monsters!” H e snaps and realizes what he’s said when there’s no taking it back.
Tetsuya is eye-widely gazing at him. After the shock, the shorter boy just walks towards the coffee table, drops the bags from the grocery store on it and returns to the front door.
“Okay. I’ll take my leave, then.”
“No, wait! Tetsuya...!”
The two dogs – who seem to have acknowledged each other – follow Kuroko as he walks past the door and closes it right on Kagami’s face.
Nothing like a street ball match and a shower afterwards to make him refreshed. Taiga feels like he’s cooled his mind off a little, well, not just a little, but enough to even consider living under the same roof as two – and that number reverberates on his brain – dogs. He went out not much after Tetsuya left, knowing nothing but basketball would be able to help him chill. He needed to burn off some of that irritation before he and Tetsuya could talk and make up.
Luckily, he met some guys from college down on the court, some guys he knew would put up a good game. It was no versus Generation of miracles kind of good game, but still... Enough for him to de-stress .
After that and the cold shower he’s just taken, he feels like he’s ready to patch things up. That is, after he takes care of his growling stomach.
Taiga is midway to finishing his cooking task when the solitude of the apartment proves itself unbearable. He had been about to ask Tetsuya to help him, and then realized what he’d been about to do and scowled at himself.
No matter how he looked at it, t hat argument had been pointless and Kuroko leaving because of that was ridiculous. There was no need to be so extreme!
After giving it some thought, Taiga realizes the bluenette hasn’t come to get his stuff – as he’s supposed to do if he’s really decided to move out or to sleep at a friend’s, as his reply to a message Taiga sent him earlier suggested. Since that’s not their first argument (but probably the first that includes him suggesting that Tetsuya leaves), he knows where the stubborn shortie must be seeking shelter in for the time being. It’s not far from their place, in fact, it’s not even outside the building.
It’s two floors above, where somebody who should have Taiga’s back – but ends up taking Kuroko’s side every time – lives.
Somewhere pets are gladly accepted.
“Oh, it’s you.”
The uninterested remark comes from a giant who’s annoyingly looking down on Taiga, and who has just opened the door, holding a pack of potato chips in his hand. He seems to think it was a waste of time coming all the way to the doorstep, so he only stares at the visitor whilst feeding himself a handful of chips.
“Oi, what’s with that reception!? You’re not inviting me in?”
“Don’t wanna, actually.”
Taiga flinches, a vein twitching in his forehead. It takes a deep inhale for him not to lose it and punch that troll. He wonders what his brother even sees in that guy.
“What a pain in the ass,” he grunts to himself. “Fine, whatever. Is Kuroko there?”
“Why should I tell you that?”
That's too much for him.
“Because if you don’t, I don’t care about your ridiculous height or if you’re any stronger than me, I swear I’m gonna kick your fucking lazy ass!”
“Oh?” As though he wasn’t in the slightest impressed by the threat, the purple haired giant just closes the door. It’s the second time a door is slammed on his face in less than twelve hours. That sucks. Big time.
“Oi! Murasakibara, you bastard! Open up that fucki--” he’s punching the door, and almost stumbles and hits the guy that opens it on the chest. “Yo, Tatsuya.”
“Please stop making a fuss in the corridor and come in, Taiga.” Is the rather cold welcome from his brother.
As expected, Tetsuya is indeed by their living room, a joystick in his hand as he apparently plays Sengoku Basara with Murasakibara. The dogs are there as well and appear to be making themselves at home. The smaller one – Sangou, it seems – is throwing desperate looks at the purple haired host, probably hoping that will grant him a bite on whatever snack Murasakibara is having.
“Oh, so that’s what you meant by ‘I’m looking for a place for me and the dogs, so I can’t talk now’,” Taiga snipes and receives glares from both his boyfriend and his brother.
“No, it isn’t. I was doing as I wrote,” Kuroko replies, attention back on the TV screen. “And thanks to Himuro-san, I’ve already found it, so now I’m trying to beat Murasakibara-kun’s player up so that I won’t beat you instead.”
“Sorry, Kuro-chin, but you’re gonna be crushed. I can crush Kaga-chin, too, just say it.”
“Oi, are you guys trying to piss me off?”
He i s about to go all out with a fist raised to punch Murasakibara when Himuro h olds him by the shoulder.
“Come with me, Taiga.”
“Eh? No way, Tatsuya, I have to teach your goddamn boyfriend a lesson!”
Not daring to defy his brother, not when he sounds that icy, he scowls and follows Tatsuya to the kitchen. He’s gone through that before, so he knows he’s gonna get scolded by the older one. Since Kuroko and Himuro became good friends, they are always teaming up against him. It’s infuriating , and it’s reached a whole new level, as apparently Tatsuya is now helping Kuroko leave him. What the hell?
“Seriously, Taiga. I know you can be stupid sometimes, but kicking Kuroko out because he’s gotten a new dog ? Are you out of your mind?”
“I didn’t mean it, okay?!”
“Then you shouldn’t have said it,” Himuro retorts.
“Tch. I know, dammit. And what’s with you? You’re always taking his side!”
“Because you’re usually the one in the wrong.”
The redhead sulks. He knows his brother is right and that upsets him even more. Besides, why is everyone suddenly stepping on his toes ? Okay, so he is an idiot sometimes, but that doesn’t give them the right to throw it in his face.
When Himuro speaks again, he’s switched to English, “Listen up. It’s true I suggested a couple of places for Kuroko to stay at, but I know he’s not leaving you that easily. I wouldn’t have suggested them in the first place if I believed he would.”
“That doesn’t make you the brother of the year, okay?” He replicates, also in a rusty English.
Tatsuya smiles, that typical unreadable smile of his. Then he gives Taiga a warm glance. “Instead of wasting your time complaining about me, why don’t you go make up with him? I’m sure he’s waiting for that.”
They are about to leave the small kitchen when the dark haired one calls, back in their mother language, “And Taiga...”
“Promise me you won’t be an idiot, okay?”
“Shut up! Of course I won’t!”
The moment he walks into the living room again, he knows Kuroko will come along.
“Let’s go home, Kuroko.”
“Nigou and Sangou are coming, too,” the bluenette highlights.
“I know. Come on.”
“Himuro-san, Murasakibara-kun, thanks for having me and sorry for intruding,” Tetsuya bows and follows his lover to the front door.
Their walk back to the sixth floor is a silent one.
Apologizing is the worst. It’s not the part of admitting he’s wrong that sucks; he knows he’s wrong, he knew it the moment he blurted out those words he didn’t really mean. What’s awful about apologies is that you’re supposed to pick the right words, you’re supposed to think before you say them, you have to show you mean them. It makes Taiga feel awkward and truly uncomfortable. He knows Tetsuya will know he’s sorry either he says it or not. He also knows he expects him to say it either way.
And that look on his face shows he’s waiting for Taiga to say it as in... Now.
Postponing it doesn’t look like an option .
“About what I said before,” he starts. It seems a good way to start.
“That made me sad. And angry, I must say.”
“I know! I get it, okay? I’m... I’m sorry for that.” He hopes his face shows just how much he regrets what he’s said. Of course he’d never really consider kicking Kuroko out over such silly matter. Even if the silly matter in question has four legs and barks annoyingly. Even so.
However, Tetsuya doesn’t look convinced. Or so his deep stare and his silence say.
“I mean it, alright?! I... I’m okay with you keeping that little demon as well. As long as you’re around, it’s fine.”
He’s blushing and looking away because, goddammit, Kuroko should know that by now. He would never want him anywhere but here. Home.
“This must mean you really love me, Kagami-kun. Either that, or you actually like dogs. Or maybe... Both?”
“What!? Of course it’s the first, idiot!”
“Oh... Is that so?”
“Of course,” he hisses, annoyed. He’s being played by little demon N umber O ne, yet he can’t find it in him to be truly mad at Tetsuya.
“Fine. Then, as a proof of your love, please take Sangou in your arms. He’s our new baby, after all. You have to acknowledge him.” Tetsuya looks around, searching for the small dog, who appears to be learning from Nigou the house rules.
“Like hell I will do that!” Taiga snarls.
Tetsuya then gives him the look. That’s a dirty trick, even for him.
“You know it’s impossible, right?”
“You could try to at least pat him on the head,” Tetsuya offers.
“Oi, what’s with that insistence?”
And that’s when the devilish newcomer makes his move.
They hear a soft bark, one that sounds piercingly unfamiliar. They are standing close to the balcony, so Taiga looks down, only to find that the little blue - eyed dog is by his feet... And has just left the basketball dog toy there. That guy sure learns fast.
“Well, it seems he’s accepted you, Taiga-kun.”
Sighing, he kneels down and takes the ball. He even attempts to touch that furry creature o n the head, but retreats. As expected, it’s impossible.
Then he stands up, looks at both Sangou and Nigou, who definitely seems to be the one tutoring the newcomer, and strides to the basket, being attentively followed by the duo. He dunks – or rather, inserts the miniball through the ring – and watches as the two pets playfully fight for the falling toy.
“So... Will that do?” He grins at Tetsuya.
“Not really,” he replies with a smile. “But it’s a start.”
B efore they know it, the four of them are playing in the living room, barks and laughter filling the air. The stubborn pair doesn’t care about the argument anymore. It never lasts, anyway.
“You know, that guy could have a jersey as well,” he says, absentmindedly, and stops as he notices Tetsuya’s smirk. “What!?”
The blue - eyed young man takes the newcomer in his arms and throws a glance at his lover, before he explains, “Well, it seems your dad has accepted you, too, Sangou.”
Time proves Tetsuya unquestionably right.