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This, Kuroko thinks yet again, is not what he expected of a Grey Warden. Not that he’s entirely sure what he was expecting when he agreed to Alex’s recruitment speech, but Kagami yelping and hiding behind her like the mabari pup he’s hiding from was definitely not it.

”Where did you get that!” Kagami squeaks. Alex glances over her shoulder, mouth twitching.

"He’s not a that," Kuroko says, adjusting his grasp so the puppy can sit more securely in his arms. "The kennel master gave him to me."

"WHY?" Kagami says plaintively. "Ugh, I hate mabari."

The puppy whines. Kuroko stares at Kagami, perplexed. “Are you quite sure you’re Fereldan?” he says. “How can you say no to this face? Look, he wants to be friends with you.”

Alex stifles a snicker. It sounds like a cough, but even though Kuroko doesn’t know her that well, they’ve spent enough time together on the road to Ostagar for him to recognize it. “He’s just as adorable as you are, Kuroko,” she says blandly.

Kagami blanches behind her. “You! Can you not just say things like that!” The puppy whines again, staring at Kagami with deep and soulful disappointment. “AND WILL YOU PUT THAT DOWN,” Kagami says.

Kuroko ignores him. “I was told there’s a chance he might be bonded to me now,” he informs Alex. “Does that mean I can keep him?”

"I’ve heard it’s a bit more like he’ll keep you," says Alex. "If he’s really bonded, he’ll follow you wherever you go for the rest of his life. Or yours."

Kagami makes a strangled noise. “Are you really certain you want to recruit this one, Alex? He’s looking shiftier by the minute,” he says desperately.

"He is not! Anyway, weren’t you the one telling me beggars can’t be choosers the other day?" says Alex. She ignores Kagami’s spluttering and leans in to inspect the puppy instead. "Wait, is this the sick hound the kennel master’s been going on about?"

"I, er, happened to find the herbs he wanted while we were out hunting darkspawn," Kuroko admits.

Alex chucks the puppy under its chin. “Looks like he’s doing better,” she says approvingly.

"Darkspawn- Is that why you kept stopping to stare at random leaves while the rest of us were collecting blood?!"

"If that’s how you feel about it, I guess you won’t need me to make any healing potions for you in the future," Kuroko says pointedly, scratching behind the puppy’s ears. Kagami scowls. Kuroko turns back to the puppy. "Do you have a name yet?"

The puppy droops.

"How do you feel about Nigou?"

The puppy- Nigou now, apparently- barks and licks his face in agreement.

"Aw, look at that. He’s yours all right," says Alex. Kagami throws up his hands and stalks away, muttering. "It could be worse, Taiga," she calls after him. "He could be bonded to you!"

Already at a fair distance, Kagami twitches and visibly increases his pace.

"Don’t worry," Kuroko tells Nigou, who’s looking depressed again. "You’ll win him over eventually."