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Murasakibara carelessly flops into his chair, which squeals in protest. He groans and runs a hand through his long hair in frustration. "Kise-chin, how do I get rid of them?"  

Kise sets down his chopsticks in surprise while everyone else at the lunch table looks on in interest. It's rare that their tallest friend asks anything of anyone if it doesn't involve food, and it's usually Akashi or Kuroko that he goes to, so this is particularly strange. "Eh? You finally wanna know?! Gosh, I thought you didn't care! Okay, so I don't think shampoo is going to cut it at this point, because those split ends are bad. But don't worry! I'm pretty sure I can save at least-" 

Murasakibara growls. "No. Girls. How do I get rid of them?" 

"Girls?" Momoi repeats curiously. 

Kise's face scrunches in confusion. "Isn't your face usually scary enough?" Murasakibara scowls at him but Kise feels vindicated by the cold sweat beading on his forehead. "S-Sorry, but I thought they usually avoided you..." 

"It's the Home Economics class isn't it?" Deduces Akashi, before taking another dignified sip of his tea. 

Murasakibara grunts his confirmation but Aomine still scratches his head at the conclusion. "What's Home Ec. gotta do with it?" 

Midorima scoffs, pushing up his glasses with the finesse of any good Megane-type. "He recently transferred into that class after there was an opening, remember? That's the only obvious change in his school routine that comes to mind. Not to mention it's a predominantly female course."  

Aomine rolls his eyes. "Oh I'm sorry, I didn't realize this was all so obvious. Thanks Wattson." 

"Hey. Help." Murasakibara pokes Kise in the cheek for emphasis, which the blond bats away. 

"Okay, so what's the problem?"  

"They won't leave me alone." 

Kise sighs. "Meaning?"    

"They keep trying to cling onto me and confess, it's a bother." The giant slumps into his seat, reaching into his pocket to pull out a stick of Umaibo to eat. 

Haizaki snorts, rolling his eyes. "Oh no. What a dilemma. God, what suffering you must endure. My heart goes out to you in these trying times-" 

"Shut it Haizakicchi!...Ahem. Murasakibaracchi, what did you do to attract them anyways?" Kise laces his fingers together on the table and leans towards his friend as if to project a professional air. 

"Haaaah, I don't know. The teacher was impressed with my cooking so he had me assist some people."  

"I...I see..." Momoi mutters with a glazed look in her eyes. 

They could all see it. Murasakibara with his long hair pulled back into a ponytail, showing off his surprisingly handsome face. Him, tottering around the classroom in an apron, accidentally spewing lines out of a shoujo manga as he helps a bunch of very single and very imaginative teenage girls. No doubt they've clicked him into the trope of Jerk-With-A-Heart-Of-Gold who's both excitingly rugged and cute boyfriend material.  

"Just tell them you aren't interested." Reasons Midorima. 

"I did, but then they try harder." 

Much like an insect caught in a web, the more he struggles the worse he’s entangled. 

"Then just be meaner!" Then, as if to lead by example, Haizaki nabs a piece of sushi from Kuroko's lunch box and is quick to shove it in his mouth before anyone can object. 

Just as Aomine angers on his behalf, Kuroko says, "It's fine." He then pushes the rest of his lunch towards Haizaki to avoid further drama and focuses on reading his book. 

"Tch, don't encourage him Tetsu." Grumbles Aomine, leaning back in his seat and crossing his arms petulantly. 

"Kise-chiiiin," Whines Murasakibara. "Help." 

Kise can only shrug unsurely. "I don't know what to tell you, I usually just flirt with them a bit and excuse myself. I don't think that's really your style thought..."   

"Ugh." 

Seeing how disheartened he's becoming, Momoi thinks fast. "Hey Mukkun, sometimes I just say I'm already taken. Maybe that'll work for you too?" She suggests. 

"But what if they ask for proof?" Prods Midorima. 

"You wouldn't owe them anything." Argues Akashi, setting down his cup. 

Kise grimaces. "Fangirls are pretty persistent Akashicchi, I've had to deal with a stalker or two." He shutters at the memory. He never did get those shirts back. 

Aomine gets a smug look on his face as he comes up with a solution. "Just pretend to date someone." 

Haizaki immediately shoots him down. "That's fucking stupid." 

Momoi cringes "He's right, fake-dating never works." 

Kise agrees, even nodding knowledgably. "Someone always gets hurt, and since Murasakibaracchi isn't interested in anyone, it'll be the other person."  

Haizaki snorts. "Who gives a shit, it's a problem solved. If they catch feelings, that's on them." 

Akashi is the only one to notice that Murasakibara has been suspiciously quiet. 

"That's not how it works Haizakicchi, haven't you watched a Rom-Com?!" Screeches Kise. 

"Pfft, I'm not a pussy. I'm not surprised you watch that garbage though-"  

Murasakibara cuts over Haizaki mid-sentence. "Hey, Kuro-chin,"  

"Yes Murasakibara-kun?" 

"Be my boyfriend." 

"Okay." Kuroko fails to even lower his book throughout the exchange. 

There's a pregnant pause where everyone but the two involved look absolutely gobsmacked. 

Momoi and Kise shriek in unison, almost as if practiced. "Heeeeh?!"  

Even Aomine is in a state of disbelief. "Wait, what?"  

"Are you fucking serious?! Why him?!"  

Calmly, as if he isn't causing total anarchy at the table, Kuroko simply shrugs and replies with, "He asked." 

Kise practically leaps from his chair and slams his hands against the tabletop with a loud smack. "Kurokocchi, be my boyfriend!" 

"I'm sorry, I'm in a committed relationship." 

"Ack! Kurokocchi stop playing with my heart!" Kise collapses back into his seat, dropping his head against the table with a sound thud. Momoi rubs his back in sympathy, a rather defeated expression on her face as well. 

"Congratulations on your relationship, you have my support." 

"Thanks Aka-chin." 

Chapter Text

 

Kuroko blinks in surprise when he notes that there is a bento placed in his usual spot at their table. Everyone else is already seated and tucking into their food, so he can't figure out who it belongs to. 

"Is someone joining us today?" He asks curiously, looking around the table for another place to squeeze in for today's lunch. 

Murasakibara shakes his head. "Kuro-chin, I made that for you." 

"Oh. You didn't need to, I already brought my own." He lifts his bag for emphasis as he takes his seat. 

"Kise-chin said we have to do couple things if I want people to believe it. And Kuro-chin doesn’t eat enough anyways." Murasakibara explains as he unpacks his lunch. 

Kuroko frowns. "This is too much." However, as to not be completely ungrateful he unwraps the bento and takes the top layer of the three-tiered lunch. He pushes the rest back to Murasakibara, who shrugs and is about take the food himself when Kise smacks his hand away. 

"Wait, wait! Let Kurokocchi feed you." He suggests excitedly. 

Murasakibara gives him a look. "Why?" 

"It's another couple-y thing, and it'll be really cute." He explains with pleading eyes. 

Momoi hums in agreement, "I'm sure some rumors will start floating around when people see." 

Murasakibara eyes them suspiciously. 

It's become quite obvious to the table that certain people have taken to dating Kuroko vicariously. 

But as he glances around the cafeteria he does notice quite a few eyes flickering in their direction. Even with their table tucked into a more isolated alcove, between the noise they make and the feathered neon atrocity around Midorima's neck today, they naturally draw attention. It's as good a place to start as any. 

He sighs. "Fine. Kuro-chin, feed me." 

"I'm reading. You could feed me though." 

"But I'm hungry." 

"And I'm reading. You should take responsibility, we're doing this for your sake after all."  

"But then how will I eat?" 

"How will I read?" 

Akashi cuts it. "It's lunch time Kuroko, you shouldn't be reading at all." 

"I thought chewing stopped the chatter Akashi-kun." Kuroko grumbles, but finally closes his book. 

The redhead frowns at the laughter his quip inspires, and just to cause further irritation Haizaki stage-whispers, "Oh shit, get fucked Akashi. You just gunna take that?" 

"I think you need to work off all that food you've been stealing Haizaki. Your warm-up laps have been doubled." 

Aomine mockingly echoes, "Oh shit, get fucked Haizaki. You just gunna take that?" 

The delinquent clicks his tongue in anger, but wisely keeps his mouth shut. 

Almost ten minutes into their lunch break without a bite of food, Murasakibara is starting to feel weak.   "Kuro-chin. Feed me. I'll die." He mumbles. 

Without any conscious agreement, they fall into a staring contest. A silent battle of wills as Murasakibara peers out from behind his long bangs and Kuroko meets him with a blank gaze. 

Midorima quirks a brow, "Why can't they just eat normally? I've never seen-" 

"Hush Midorin, they're concentrating." Interrupts Momoi, yet she and Kise look much more invested in this dilemma than the couple themselves. She's poised in her seat with her phone camera at the ready while Kise is muttering 'Win Kurokocchi, win Kurokocchi,' under his breath like a dark hex. 

"Jesus, this really isn't hard." Grumbles Haizaki. 

 Murasakibara sighs. He's well aware just how stubborn Kuroko can be, and it's really not worth the effort to even compete. "Fine." He grumbles, ignoring Kise's quiet cheer as he picks up his spoon. He scoops up a bit of curry and rice from his lunch and holds his other hand underneath to catch any dripping sauce. "Say aaah."  

Kuroko leans forward to meet him and does as instructed with a comically flat tone. He can't say he's even been fed by someone else before and Murasakibara couldn't remember shoving food into a mouth that wasn't his own. It's an odd experience for both of them, made even stranger by people watching and Momoi taking photos. God forbid it's a video. 

Kuroko takes his time chewing and swallowing, while Murasakibara watches with impatience. "It's good, thank you for the meal."  

Aomine gapes. "Is that all you're eating?!"  

"I still have my own lunch." 

"Kurokocchi, now you have to feed him." Reminds Kise. 

"I don't have a spoon." 

Murasakibara groans as he hands over his. "This is too slow, I'm hungry." 

Despite the whining Kuroko still moves at his own pace, refilling the spoon with more curry. "Open." 

Murasakibara does not need to be told twice. Rather than being fed, it would be more apt to say that Kuroko merely held the utensil as his 'boyfriend' helped himself to the offering. In the face of a still expectant look, Kuroko simply surrenders the spoon before turning to Kise. "This is impractical. That was enough right?"  

The blond's face pulls into a frown. "Well that was pretty quick. Even if people were watching they probably thought he was just offering you a taste or something..." 

Midorima loudly clears his throat. "As I was saying earlier-" He casts Momoi an irritated glance. "-This is far from natural. If you simply take turns like that, you won't be able to eat half of it before class." He then takes a moment to rifle through his bag. "Here, you’re lucky I brought a few extra. It’s my lucky item so please wash it before you return it." A second spoon which he offers to Kuroko. 

"Thank you Midorima-kun."  

Murasakibara gulps down his mouthful of food. "Do we still have to feed each other?" 

Akashi shakes his head. "Just eat from the same container.” 

Haizaki narrows his eyes, staring pointedly at Midorima neck. “Are we really going to ignore what green bean just implied?” 

Completely unperturbed, Kise turns to Aomine and says, “Did you hear something?

Chapter Text

“Murasakibara-senpai!” 

“Eh?” Atsushi halts his languid pace and turns around to see who called. The only other person in the hallway is a blonde-haired girl, holding a small box and an envelope. She doesn’t look familiar at all. 

Then again, it took a couple days to remember Kuro-chin’s face when he was first introduced. 

He watches as she sort of trots towards him, an awkward expression on her reddening face. She jumps to a stop right in front of him, and has to crane her neck up at what looks to be an uncomfortable angle before she takes a step back. 

“M-Murasakibara-senpai!” She repeats for some reason, but this time she holds both objects out in offering. 

Rather than relieving her of these items, he blinks and asks, “Who are you?” 

Her face immediately crumples, but she smooths it into a mask of determination. “I’m Yukimura Nanami, I’m one of the assistant managers for the first-string of the basketball team!” 

Oops. 

He mentally shrugs before pressing on. “Oh. What do you want?” 

She breaks eye contact to look at the walls as she scuffs her shoes. “I-I…please accept these cookies first!” 

“You’re too loud.” He says absently. He would’ve been a bit more annoyed but now he’s interested. He’s quick to take the box - red with lots of little heart stickers on the lid – and pries it open to see what flavour they are. Sugar cookies? They look good, browned around the edges in a way that promises a crisp snap and yummy caramelization. 

“A-And I wrote you…a letter...or you can forget it…” Her voice fades into to a mumble he can barely hear as she clutches the pink paper tightly. 

…If she says so. 

The cookies are good. “What’s your name again?” He mumbles around the food. He should try to remember it this time. 

“Yukimura Nanami. Look, Murasakibara-senpai. I know you have a reputation as a rather rude person, but I know you just speak your mind. I too am that kind of person!” As she really starts into what he now recognises as a long-winded speech (thanks to Mido-chin’s nagging and Kuro-chin’s preaching,) she shuts her eyes and bows her head, allowing him to notice something. 

There’s a leaf in her hair. A stark green tangled in the yellow locks on top of her head.

It kind of looks like a garnish.  

Lemon. 

That tea shop finally brought back their lemon cake. These sugar cookies are good but now he has a craving for cake and the texture is all wrong.  

He should take Kuro-chin there, he’d probably like it too. He still owes Kuro-chin after he bought him all those snacks too. Mmmmm…that moist sponge cake with the creamy custard and little bits of lemon zest…They don’t have vanilla shakes but he’s sure Kuro-chin would definitely like the vanilla bean frappuccino. They’re pretty much the same thing right? Anyways, it’s been a while since he’s visited that particular shop and now he can’t remember if that’s the place where he can pre-order entire cakes, or if it’s the other place with the big muffins…hm. Maybe Kuro-chin would agree to visiting both- 

“So please go out with me!” 

“Huh?” Oh right, Yuki-something. “I have a boyfriend. No.” 

It kind of looks like she swallowed a something sour. Lemon cake. He should text Kuro-chin about it… 

“Ah…o-okay. Th-Th-…Thank you for your time.” She whispers tightly. She gives a shallow bow at the waist and starts to speed walk away. 

“Wait.” He calls after her. 

She spins back around with something shining in her teary eyes. 

“There’s a leaf in your hair.” 

She stiffens and looks at him with disbelief before bursting into tears. 

Oops. 

Hm. Maybe he should’ve listened the last time Kuro-chin scolded him about chivalry. What was that thing he said, Sandwich Technique? End on a positive note. 

“Ah, your cookies are really good though. Thanks. See you at practice?” 

She nods her head once, then runs away. 

He’s left staring down the empty hallway, reflecting on the interaction. 

He feels that this went well. It’s definitely better than the last girl who slapped him and started making a scene before Kuro-chin calmed her down. Maybe when he sees Lemon-chin at practice he should start saying hello. 

…Now where to find some cake before warm-up starts... 

Chapter Text

Kuroko is heading towards the gym when he hears it. Someone’s crying. 

He really doesn’t have time for a detour, especially when he’s already spent so much time looking for Murasakibara, but it wouldn’t be right to ignore someone’s tears. Especially when it’s a girl, since his family raised him to be a gentleman. So without even a sigh of complaint to himself, Kuroko chooses to pass the gym doors and continues down the hall to stop in front of the custodial closet, where it sounds like the source of the crying is coming from. 

Kuroko knocks on the door. “Are you alright?” 

Her breath hitches. “Um. I-I’ll be out in a minute. Pl-Please Le-eave.” 

Kuroko blinks in surprise. “Yukimura-san?” He recognises her voice, even if distorted by sorrow and the barrier between them. She’s one of the assistant managers, usually responsible for helping Momoi and handing out fresh towels. She’s a nice girl, usually quite hearty. 

Her voice is barely audible through the door, so Kuroko has to press an ear against the surface to listen. “Ah! y-you’re- you’re on the ba-basketball team, aren’t you?”  

“Yes. I’m number eleven, Kuroko Tetsuya.” 

“...First-string?” 

“That is correct. What’s the matter Yukimura-san?” 

“...You should...g-...go. Akashi-san will give you extra laps for...for every minute you’re late.” 

A lenient punishment, since he’s not a repeat offender. Haizaki has been forced to do a whole set of sit-ups for each minute, and he came almost an hour late. “It will be worth it if I can help you feel better. If we’re late together, then they can’t be too mad right? So please tell me what’s wrong, you’re usually very enthusiastic.” He keeps his voice warm and soothing, the same tone he uses to comfort Momoi after Aomine says something stupid. 

For a while it’s silent and he’s almost convinced she won’t answer when the door clicks open. He takes a quick step back, but the door only cracks open by a sliver. “I-Its stupid. I knew it was going to happen.” He can hear her a lot clearer and it’s obvious that she’s just barely holding back more sobs.  

“It’s definitely not stupid if you’re this upset. I promise to listen without judgement Yukimura-san.” 

“...I was just...re...rejected by the boy I like.”  

She sniffles and Kuroko is suddenly reminded of the packet of tissues he carries around for Kise after he finishes his theatrics. “Here.” Kuroko offers her the whole pack and Yukimura gratefully accepts it. 

“Thank you Kuroko-senpai.” She mumbles gloomily as she cleans her face.  

“It’s only natural to feel awful when something bad happens, even if it’s expected. When Aomine-kun yelled heads-up, it still hurt when it hit my face right?” Yukimura giggles at the reminder of yesterday’s blunder and Kuroko counts that as a win. “It’s okay to be sad. It’s best to work through these feelings and move on. Only then can you give yourself to the right person whole-heartedly.” 

It’s silent again, and for a moment Kuroko is worried he said something ridiculous before the door swings fully open, revealing Yukimura’s awestruck face. 

“Oh. There’s something in your hair.” Kuroko notes rather blandly. He plucks it out with deft fingers, painlessly untangling it from its confines to hold it in front of her face. “Think of it as turning over a new leaf.” Kuroko flashes her a smile as she accepts it with trembling fingers and flaming cheeks. 

Kuroko is hit with a strange sense of déjà-vu. 

“U-Um. Thank you Kuroko-senp-” 

“Kuro-chin, there you are.” 

Yukimura squeaks at the sound of Murasakibara’s voice, and she’s glad she’s still hidden inside the dark closet. 

“Ah. Murasakibara-kun, I was looking for you as well.” 

“Aka-chin’s gunna kill us for being late.” However, as far as Murasakibara is concerned it’s worth the pocket-full of snack cakes he procured from some underclassmen. 

Kuroko looks back at Yukimura with uncertainty.  

“I’ll be there in a moment, please go ahead Kuroko-senpai. I’m feeling much better thanks to you.” She keeps her voice down to a hoarse whisper as to not be discovered by the taller male, but smiles as sweetly as she can at Kuroko in gratitude. 

Kuroko hesitates before returning the expression, lighting her whole face cherry red, which he attributes to her crying spell. “Alright. Let’s go Murasakibara-kun.” 

She ducks further back as Murasakibara passes the door, almost falling into a mop bucket in her haste, but he doesn’t even waste a moment to glance in her direction. “Hey Kuro-chin, after practice do you wanna get some cake?” 

“Did Kise-kun insist you take me on a date again? Because it’s really not necessary.” Kuroko says in exasperation. 

“No. I just like cake and Kuro-chin.” 

“Oh. Then I would be delighted.” 

Yukimura hears the gym doors clunk open, and after a pause click shut. 

She feels her heart break all over again. 


 

( ╹ਊ╹)。・:*:・゚☆ OMAKE! 。・:*:・゚★

 

“I know that look.” 

Yukimura jumps in surprise as Momoi puts a hand on her shoulder.  

“It’s okay. Even Kise-kun and I were victims of his charm. Tetsu-kun is a gift that no one can have.” She says tearfully. 

“You and Kise-senpai too!?” she yells in disbelief. If such perfect people couldn’t capture Kuroko for themselves, then perhaps she shouldn’t feel so bad. 

Momoi pulls her into a tight embrace, resting Yukimura’s head atop of her chest, and begins carding her fingers gently through her hair. “It’ll be okay Yuki-chan, Momoi-senpai has you now.” 

...Perhaps Kuroko was right. 

Chapter Text

Lukewarm water is quick to meet Kuroko's open palm as he stretches his hand out from under the overhang. "Ah. It's raining."  

At his words, what had just began as a light shower morphs into a downpour of almost waterfall-like density. 

Murasakibara sighs as he watches the streets start to flood. "I didn't bring an umbrella..." 

"I have one." Says Kuroko as he digs around in his bag.  "It's not quite big enough for both of us, but we can make it to the convenience store and buy a second one." He pulls out its compact form from his bag and unfolds it, careful of the wind as he opens it up.  

“…” 

“…” 

While the idea of sharing is good in theory, the practical application turns out to have a few issues. 

"..." 

"…" 

In Kuroko's hands, the umbrella barely reaches Murasakibara's neck. From underneath it, Murasakibara’s head is completely obscured from Kuroko's view.  

"…" 

"…" 

"...Kuro-chin, you're too-" 

"Just take it." He hisses, almost jabbing the other in the eye as he lifts it in offering. Having enough experience with Akashi, Murasakibara accepts the item without further comment. Before they venture out into the storm, Kuroko tucks in close to his boyfriend's side to be as shielded as possible. 

Once more, theory and practice prove to be two very different things. 

With no regard for his companion's shorter strides, Murasakibara marches through the storm as if he's alone. For a brief moment, Kuroko is completely exposed to the elements and in those few seconds his hair is plastered to his head. He almost jogs to keep pace and he's nearly hanging onto Murasakibara by the arm to stay under cover. Unfortunately, the umbrella is raised so far above Kuroko's head it offers no real shelter. He's even forced to splash through the rapidly forming puddles Murasakibara merely steps over, thoroughly soaking his sneakers. 

In mere minutes, Kuroko would have been drier in a lake. 

"Wai- Stop!" Kuroko shouts over the howling winds. He lets out a grateful sigh when his teammate finally halts. "Could you please lower the umbrella and slow down?"  

"Oh. Sorry Kuro-chin." Per Kurooko's request, Murasakibara stoops over so that they're closer in height. However, the consequence of his hunched over form is that his back is getting rained on quite heavily in exchange. The new speed that Kuroko dictates feels like a snail's crawl as he's forced to awkwardly shuffle along. He's quite sure that from a distance, they look like a turtle. 

Murasakibara tolerates this less than perfect arrangement for about half a block, however, he has to draw a line when he back begins to ache. In a clear and decisive voice, Murasakibara says, "Forget it, I hate this." He straightens and attempts to hand the umbrella back to Kuroko, but the shadow stubbornly refuses. 

"Just keep it, I am already soaked. There's only two more blocks to the store, I'll be fine." 

Murasakibara simply holds the umbrella over him, paying no mind to the rainfall now drenching him beyond sweeping hair out of his face. Determined as ever, Kuroko simply steps out from under the flimsy protection. Murasakibara moves to bring the umbrella back to him but Kuroko also takes hold of the handle, leaving their hands laid over top of each other, cold fingers wrapped tightly together.  

Water keeps running down Kuroko's face, dripping from his short hair and into his eyes as he tries to stare down Murasakibara. Rain water has soaked through his sweater and his skin is starting to feel chilled, but he also feels Murasakibara starting to shiver in his T-shirt as his hand lightly trembles beneath his grasp. 

They both feel like idiots, holding a perfectly good umbrella over nothing right between them, but it's a matter of pride now. 

"Please use the umbrella." Kuroko politely requests as he lets go, leaving it in the other's possesion. 

Before Murasakibara can respond, the choice is - quite literally - taken from their hands. 

A particularly strong gust of wind snatches it from his loose hold, the angle of the umbrella allowing for maximum lift. Which essentially means that they can only watch as the umbrella flies down the street faster than either of them can comprehend what had just occurred. They idly trace its path as it's blown into a rather tall tree, where it tangles and gets flipped inside-out ensuring that even if they retrieved it, it would serve no purpose. 

All is quiet but the drum of raindrops and the distant rumble of thunder. 

They slowly tear their gazes away from the tree and their eyes meet. 

"…Well," Kuroko mutters over the gurgle of a nearby storm drain. "I suppose that solves our dilemma." 

Murasakibara hums in agreement. 

They stand there, both lost in their own thoughts. 

"Wanna get some hot chocolate?" 

"Okay...If anyone asks, we had no umbrella." 

"Yeah." 

Kuroko is the one to close the distance and wraps his arm around Murasakibara's waist in a loose hug, huddling close for warmth. In return, Murasakibara slings an arm over Kuroko's shoulders where it rests at a comfortable height.  

 

Chapter Text

The gentle thrum of the seat is almost like a soothing massage against Murasakibara's sore muscles. It's been a long day of practice match after practice match and he's glad he can finally relax. He has the window seat at the very back of the bus, and unlike the ride there, everyone has gone quiet. They’re keeping their voices down to low murmurs that almost meld into the rumble of the engine. 

Usually, he would only be sharing a seat with his snacks. With the amount of space he alone takes up, there wouldn't be much leg room for anyone else, but Kuroko is unsurprisingly compact. Earlier he had been reading one of his books, content to let Murasakibara eat chips and ignore everyone, but now he's starting to nod off. Out of the corner of his eye, Murasakibara watches as Kuroko's eyes droop closed and his book begins to lower before he jolts back to awareness and re-secures his grip, only to do it all over again. He takes silent amusement from Kuroko's determination, but he doesn't understand why Kuroko won't just go to sleep if he's this tired. Murasakibara himself can feel a nap coming on just observing his fitful struggle. 

Kuroko frowns and sighs, marking his page and setting the book down on his lap, finally leaning back to give in to his exhaustion. It takes a minute, and the change from dozing to sleeping isn't very obvious, but Murasakibara can tell when Kuroko is comfortably unconscious. The way his blank mask slowly shifts to a relaxed expression; the minute tension around his eyes, between his brows, and pinching his mouth disappears to reveal the gentle person that’s always underneath. 

 The sunset glazes everything a honey gold, and Kuroko is peacefully glowing in the evening sunlight. 

A sudden corner almost sends Murasakibara bumping against the window but he manages to right himself in time, however it seems that Kuroko can't do the same while sleeping. He slides into Murasakibara's side, causing Murasakibara to grimace to himself. 

Very carefully, he slips a hand between them and tries to push Kuroko back upright without waking him. Once it looks like Kuroko is back in place, he slowly draws back with all the care of a Jenga player. 

Just as he congratulates himself on a job well done and today's act of chivalry, Kuroko begins to lean back towards him. Murasakibara growls under his breath as he puts out an arm to hold Kuroko at bay. He tries to slowly remove it in hopes that the phantom will stay in place but unfortunately he follows, completely leaning on the center’s arm now. Frowning, he tries leaning Kuroko a little more in the other direction in hopes he’ll stay in place over there. 

He doesn’t seem to be sliding anymore. 

Murasakibara sighs in relief. As he settles back into his earlier position he idly wonders how heavy a sleeper Kuroko normally is. He sees a slight movement in the corner of his eye and is quick to use his long arms to grab Kuroko before he falls out of his seat and tumbles into the aisle. Not roughly enough to wake him but enough to make him shift in his sleep. 

Murasakibara sure there’s a solution somewhere. 

He tries to think about what Akashi would do, but all he can imagine is their captain draping his jacket over Kuroko like a blanket and glaring at anyone who raises their voice to a rowdy decibel. It’s not his favourite plan, but at this rate it’s less work to let Kuroko lean against him than continue this balancing game. With a sigh, he tries to straighten Kuroko one last time, but doesn’t bother fighting it when he predictably ends up being used as a pillow again.  

With Kuroko pressed firmly against his side, his range of movement has been severely limited without waking him. Murasakibara is very disgruntled to notice that the zipper to his backpack full of snacks sitting on the ground has now been rendered inaccessible. 

In his limited experience with non-familial human relations, caring about other people’s wellbeing is truly showing to be the greatest inconvenience. He would dump his older siblings onto the floor without hesitation. 

Ah well. He managed to eat a lot of snacks before getting pinned down, so there wasn’t anything he was dying to get his hands on. Instead he makes himself as comfortable as he’s able and rests his head back against the seat and closes his eyes. 

If he’s also asleep, whatever happens to Kuroko is out of his hands. 

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“Kise, please refrain from using flash, the light will wake them up,” advises Akashi. 

Kise sighs as he carefully crouches lower in the aisle. The sun has long set by the time they got back to Teikou, so the lighting is far from ideal but he recognises the truth in Akashi’s words. It’s better to get a few dark pictures than to lose the shot completely. 

“I think that’s enough Ki-chan. Now get a few more pictures from the front,” instructs Momoi as she watches him work. Nodding his agreement, Kise slips into the row in front of the couple, and kneels on the seats to get a closer image. 

“Why are you guys doing this again?” grumbles Aomine at a normal volume as he watches them work. Momoi is quick to elbow him into silence the moment Kuroko’s face scrunches in displeasure in response to the disturbance. Even Midorima freezes in place until he settles back down, nuzzling deeper into Murasakibara’s side. 

Kise has to bite his fist to keep his enamoured squeal quiet as he takes photos with twice the intensity of before. Even Momoi is smiling again when she says, “because this is the cutest thing ever, that’s why. We’re going to make a scrapbook,” she gushes joyously. 

“What for? Neither of them really seem like photo album kind of guys,” Aomine notes in a much quieter voice. 

Kise laughs to himself. “Who said it was for them?” 

“...you guys get creepier every day.”  

Unfortunately for them, the tranquil scene is ruined when Haizaki comes stomping back onto the emptied bus. Without even taking in what they’re doing all huddled up and whispering in the back, he shouts, “OI, COACH SAID GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE BUS!” 

Murasakibara is the one to immediately jolt awake but it’s clear that Kuroko has been roused into wakefulness as well. Before either of them have a chance to understand just what’s going on, Momoi has already thrown someone’s basketball shoes at his head and sent him stumbling back out. 

Kise is quick to hide his phone. “U-Uh, hey guys,” he nervously begins. “Have a good nap? Sorry, we didn’t know how to wake you and stuff. Anyways we’re back at school and my sister is here to pick me up so I should go, bye guys!”  

As Kise escapes with his phone in his clutches, Kuroko has a strong suspicion of what was going on, but he chooses to focus on gathering his things anyways. “I apologize for dozing off on you Murasakibara-kun. I hope you weren’t uncomfortable.” 

The giant has to yawn into his hand before he can answer. “Whatever. Kuro-chin's small and light, I stopped noticing you were there.” 

Kuroko pouts at the description, but ultimately decides not to pay it any mind. “Well, I apologize for the inconvenience regardless.” 

“Then next time Kuro-chin can be my pillow.” 

“I’ll suffocate.”