Kagami's house is a mess, the kitchen is an absolute disaster, and Kuroko, in true Kuroko fashion, is nowhere to be fucking seen, not a single blue hair in sight.
Well, this is shaping up to be a real problem given that Kuroko's freaking dog has just destroyed what was going to be a dinner for, like, fifty fucking people, because said dinner is now all over the (previously very clean, just mopped, new-ish) linoleum floor. You know, just your typical Saturday afternoon when your basketball partner's no-good husky puppy single-handedly ruins the ingredients you have to make Christmas dinner for all your least favourite basketball rivals.
And their entire teams.
Look, Kagami hadn't even wanted to hold a Christmas party, for god's sake. (Clearly.) He'd already made plans. Plans that maybe involved inviting Kuroko over for Christmas dinner and then giving him a Christmas present and then maybe, like. Asking him out.
If he seemed willing.
(Look, it just happened, okay? Somewhere in between Maji Burger and taking on Kuroko's asshole middle-school teammates, Kagami's brain and body decided in unison—without Kagami's permission—that the world wouldn't look right as long as Kuroko wasn't smiling, and also that Kuroko would be given the power to completely short-circuit Kagami's thoughts with said smile, and that nothing would make Kagami happier than making himself a nervous fucking wreck by asking Kuroko out, god.)
And—Kagami doesn't know, okay, details are fuzzy on the asking-out part, he was going to see how the night went and work from there, but none of it matters now because he won't be getting the chance to, will he.
"You can still do it," Tatsuya'd said once he was done laughing. (Because Tatsuya, for all his pretending to be sagely, is a little shit at heart.)
"Yeah, and then the whole bunch of them will probably start shit, and Akashi might actually murder me," Kagami'd muttered. "God knows at least three of them are weirdly obsessed with Kuroko—"
"It's going to be fine, Taiga," Tatsuya'd told him, which would've been a lot more reassuring if he didn't still look like he was barely holding in his laughter. "Just don't do it in front of everyone. Give him his present and ask him when you're alone—no one'll be able to say anything."
Tatsuya may have been taking the piss, but that doesn’t mean his advice is bad, so like, Kagami did actually still wrap Kuroko’s present so that if there is an opportunity then—well. Then he’s going to do it.
There's a bark, and Kagami surfaces from his thoughts, blinking. The fucking dog is still standing in the doorway staring at him with its big (round, deceptively innocent, positively evil) blue eyes, looking for all the world like it didn't just knock over five out of six bags of what Kagami had previously been intending to make actual food out of.
Kagami feels like he's actually about to explode.
"You don't have to shout, Kagami-kun," Kuroko's voice says from behind him, and Kagami whirls around so fast he nearly gives himself whiplash, his heart jumping in his chest.
Okay, maybe also for reasons other than fright, but those don't count.
"What the—when did you get here?"
"I have been here all along, Kagami-kun." Kuroko blinks up at him with the same eyes the goddamn dog has, and Kagami can feel his sanity draining out of him. (How are his eyes naturally that colour, the heck. When Kagami joined a Japanese basketball team he was expecting dark features all around, not blue hair and practically hypnotic sky-blue eyes, and now he's thinking about how those eyes are going to widen if Kagami does the thing and how the fuck he's supposed to give Kuroko's present to him anyway and—) "Did you need my assistance?"
"Did I need—" Kagami blinks, then realises he's staring. Kuroko's head is tilted enquiringly, those bloody blue eyes looking at him like—fuck. "Did you see what your damn dog did?" He says, and tries for a scowl. "What the hell am I supposed to cook with now?"
He glares at the puppy. (That, he doesn't need to fake.) The thing wags its tail. Kuroko walks over and scoops it up, where it pants happily in his arms, leans up to lick his face. Kagami suppresses a shudder and thinks longingly of the days where his apartment—and the Seirin basketball court—were blissfully dog-free.
(Wait, is the dog going to be present when Kagami asks Kuroko out, because shit, Kagami is capable of a lot of things, but not dealing with both Kuroko and his dog at the same time—)
"Nigou was just having fun, Kagami-kun," Kuroko says reproachfully, tearing Kagami away from that horrifying thought. "You should have closed the door if you didn't want him entering."
"Goddammit, Kuroko, keep that mutt away from me! And the kitchen!"
Kuroko makes a disappointed face at Kagami. The dog's ears droop, as if to underscore Kuroko's point. (How do they do that, what the hell.) "Nigou likes you, you know, Kagami-kun."
That's bullshit, and Kuroko knows it. That dog launches itself at Kagami with a vengeance every time he so much as puts one foot in its direction, for crying out loud, it hates him. Which is completely fucking fine with Kagami, because that husky can take its Kuroko-blue eyes and go f—
"Kagami-kun," Kuroko says reprovingly, like he can sense Kagami thinking shit about his Number Two, and that's completely unfair, because Kuroko knew how much he hated dogs before he decided to bring the thing to Kagami's apartment in the middle of their Christmas party preparations, and he still brought it, and it's fucking up Kagami's house and now even potentially his confession, fuck Kagami's life.
Kagami takes in a long breath, pinches his nosebridge so hard it hurts. It doesn't do anything to relieve the throbbing pain behind his eyes. (Or to calm his heartbeat.) He forces himself to look away from Kuroko, focus on the mess at hand. "Well, what the hell do I do for dinner now?"
Kuroko surveys the mess on the floor. Packs of sausages are strewn about on the floor, vegetables thrown out of their plastic packaging and onto the tiles. Kagami's headache worsens. "Most of this is still useable, Kagami-kun." Kuroko bends down and starts picking up packets with one hand, using the arm that isn't full of white-and-black dog. The mutt barks at the sudden disturbance, and Kuroko releases it; it runs out of the kitchen yapping. Thank god. "We can just wash the vegetables. You would have had to do it anyway."
"Oh, easy for you to say," Kagami fires back, but he bends down with a sigh and start gathering up stray plastic bags. "I'll be standing here cooking the entire day, while you sit around doing nothing outside, drinking me out of Vanilla Coke—"
"Kagami-kun, you bought those drinks for my consumption," Kuroko points out calmly, which. Kagami kind of did. (Because Kuroko is somehow always at his place, and he won't drink anything else Kagami has in his fridge, and how do you resist that look of his, and still.) “There’s no point in you complaining.”
He's knelt on the floor picking up the rest of the packages, separating them into neat piles on the linoleum tiles. He's so ridiculously small, and his hair is hanging in his face, and Kagami swallows around the urge to reach over and smooth it back, make him look up and tell him—
Well, they are alone. And he did say he was going to try and ask him out.
(The present is sitting on the foot of his bed in his room. Maybe he can just get Kuroko to wait here while he goes and gets it or something, and then.)
"Kuroko," Kagami starts, and takes a deep breath.
"Besides, Kagami-kun, you do have the option of asking Coach for help," Kuroko says, looking up from the floor, and then Kagami is hit full force by big blue eyes and—
"What," he says, distracted. “I—”
"Asking me for help on what?" Coach's voice floats into the kitchen, sacccharine sweet, and then all Kagami has time to do is feel a lurch of inexplicable and instinctive dread before Coach herself is in the doorway of the kitchen, wearing an apron, a novelty chef's hat, and a terrifyingly innocent smile.
"Coach," Kagami manages, because if this is headed where he thinks it's headed—"where the hell did you get that hat?"
"Language," she says in dangerously honeyed tones, and it’s a testament to the mortal peril they’re in that even Kuroko freezes. "If the two of you aren't doing anything useful, Kuroko, Teppei needs some help with the Christmas decorations."
"Okay," Kuroko says immediately, and then it's all Kagami can do to helplessly watch him pad out of the kitchen and into the living room, and shit, he's missed his chance, hasn't he, fuck.
Well, he has the whole day, it's not like he's going anywhere. Kagami will just have to try again later, so—
"Kagami," Coach says, and goes to stand in front of him, and fuck, she's holding up a spatula and a cookbook, where the fuck did she get those, and she's smiling. Every hair on Kagami's arms stands on end.
"You told me you'd teach me how to cook."
Fuck is right, because it turns out that Christmas parties have the ability to seem like they’re actively trying to keep Kagami away from Kuroko, and what has Kagami done to deserve this, god.
He keeps having to run between the kitchen (where Coach, despite all Kagami’s best efforts, is watching over a pot of what looks more like a half-sentient primordial soup than a curry, he doesn’t know how that happened, okay) and the living room, where Izuki-senpai is cracking Christmas puns that get worse by the minute (does God have no mercy) and Captain is making an alarmingly long chain of paper snowflakes and Kiyoshi-senpai and Kuroko are setting up the Christmas tree—
At least, Kiyoshi and Kuroko are supposed to be setting up the Christmas tree, but that doesn’t change the fact that when Kagami next charges into the living room to prevent Captain from strangling Izuki over a particularly terrible joke involving snowmen and reindeer, Kiyoshi has disappeared and Kuroko is on his tiptoes, struggling to reach an upper branch. There’s a Christmas bauble dangling precariously over his head, what looks like a glittery glass pinecone, and Kagami’s heart lurches in his chest because that thing looks heavy and Kuroko is tiny and—
“Are you an idiot,” he says, probably too loudly, striding up to Kuroko and grabbing the ornament (a holographic snowman, where the hell did Kiyoshi-senpai buy his decorations from) from his hand. “Watch your head, asshole, or get someone taller to do this shit—” He grabs the offending pinecone from the branch above, too, just for good measure. It can’t hurt to be careful when Kuroko is this careless, Christ.
“Kiyoshi-senpai had to take a call,” Kuroko says, stepping back to leave Kagami room to hang the ornament. “Everyone else is busy. I can manage on my own.”
“Like hell you can,” Kagami snaps, feeling the scowl spread across his face before he even finishes his sentence. He snags the snowman on the branch with probably more force than is necessary and then turns back to Kuroko, taking a step backwards to face him properly. “Why are you always taking on shit that’s too big for you, don’t you—”
Kuroko blinks at him, like Kagami isn’t laying into him for his ridiculous habit of jumping into fights he can’t win, then tilts his head, his eyes coming into focus on Kagami’s face. “One moment, please,” he says placidly, then reaches up a hand to Kagami’s face, and Kagami almost stops breathing because what the actual fuck is—
And then Kuroko’s thumb is brushing something off his cheek and Kuroko is stepping back from him, a look of quiet satisfaction on his face.
“There was something on your face, Kagami-kun,” Kuroko says calmly, expression melting into a slight frown as he inspects his thumb. “Is this curry?”
“Um,” Kagami says intelligently.
Kuroko looks up at Kagami’s less-than-stellar verbal performance, takes in whatever stupid look is currently on his face, and smiles, the corners of his mouth curling upwards in polite amusement. “My apologies for startling you, Kagami-kun. You were saying?”
“Nothing,” Kagami manages, because his brain feels as if it’s working in slow motion and his heart is still beating the wrong side of too fast. Goddammit, he really needs to stop doing this. “It’s, ah—”
“You have been acting slightly strangely this entire afternoon,” Kuroko says, and shit, of course Kuroko’s picked up on Kagami’s nervousness, of course. “Is something wrong, Kagami-kun?”
Kagami takes a deep breath. Behind them, Kiyoshi-senpai emerges from Kagami’s guest room, phone call apparently done with, then disappears in the direction of the bathroom; over Kuroko’s shoulder, Izuki and Captain are arguing about the best way to make paper streamers, and the dog and the rest of the team is nowhere to be found. In front of him, Kuroko’s still watching him, expression enquiring and curious. Kagami’s heart kicks into triple beat.
If they disappear for a moment now, if Kagami uses this opportunity to give Kuroko his present, they probably won’t be missed for a while.
Kagami’s mouth is dry. He licks his lips, swallows. It’s now or never. “Kuroko—”
That’s when the doorbell rings.
“Who is it,” Koganei-senpai yells out of literally nowhere, so loud Kagami nearly jumps out of his skin (fuck fuck fuck what the actual fucking hell is—) and then Izuki-senpai’s up in a flash, unlocking the door to reveal—
“Seirin,” Takao singsongs as he all but sails through the doorway in socked feet, waving a plastic bag. “Did you miss us?”
In front of Kagami, Kuroko frowns. “Did Akashi-kun not tell you you were supposed to be here at—”
“Please pardon the intrusion,” Midorima says from behind Takao in measured tones, stepping through the doorframe and into Kagami’s apartment. “We were not aware if there was any particular time we were supposed to arrive—”
“Oh, it’s Shuutoku’s first years,” Kiyoshi-senpai says cheerfully, returning from the bathroom. “You’re just in time to help us with the decorations—”
Kagami’s so flabbergasted at the sudden turn of events and the wave of déjà vu that’s sweeping over him that he barely even notices Coach poking her head around the kitchen door until she says, very tentatively, “Kagami? The curry’s turning black and, um, there’s smoke coming out of the pot, is that supposed to hap—”
That’s when Kagami gets a whiff of something acrid and burning coming from the kitchen.
“Fuck,” he swears out loud, and then he’s running before he can even realise he’s been foiled.
Sometimes, Kagami really, really hates his life.
By the time Kagami manages to save his kitchen from the literal flames of culinary incompetency and gets a new pot of Coach-free curry bubbling on the stove, the living room and the tree are halfway to being fully decorated (courtesy of Coach’s military efficiency when she isn’t attempting to cook), the chicken is defrosting on the kitchen counter, and Kagami can hear Midorima explaining Izuki’s horoscope to him even over the blaring of the TV, which—predictably—is turned to a basketball match.
“Does he never think about anything else,” Kagami mutters.
“Shin-chan?” Takao says from beside him, from where he’s chopping cabbage into bite-size pieces. He’s no Tatsuya, but he’s surprisingly handy with a knife, took pity on Kagami watching him scrape out the remains of Coach’s charred mess and offered to help. “Yeah, he’s got a pretty one-track mind when he gets fixated on something.” His tone is half-teasing, all-affectionate. “That’s just Shin-chan being Shin-chan, though.”
It takes Kagami a second to remember they’re talking about Midorima, because how is it possible for someone to hold so much fondness for Midorima.
Maybe Takao is a masochist.
“Thanks for helping, anyway,” he says, wisely instead of pointing this out. “I asked Tatsuya last time, but he said he wouldn’t be able to make it until six, and—”
Takao waves him off, magnanimous. “Nah, it’s no problem. You and Himuro did the food for Kuroko’s birthday? That was pretty awesome—”
“There’s food?” says Aomine.
Kagami jumps about five feet in the air and whips around, cursing. “What the—when did you come in?”
Aomine ducks to avoid Kagami’s flailing, scowling. (Serves him right.) “Ow—watch where you’re pointing that knife, asshole—”
Kagami bristles. “Watch who you sneak up on, bastard—”
“I didn’t fucking sneak up on you, you’re the one who didn’t hear—”
“Good afternoon, Kagamin!” Momoi says brightly from behind Aomine, pink ponytail swishing. “Oh, and Takao-kun—”
“What is going on in here?” Midorima says imperiously from the kitchen door, trademark frown on his face, and oh, great, now the whole kitchen is filled with people and nothing is getting done and Kagami can feel himself slowly going insane.
After this goddamn party, Kagami is going to lock himself up in his apartment for an entire forty-eight hours, alone, just to remember what the bliss of not having his least-favourite basketball rivals in his goddamn apartment feels like, and it’s going to be fucking amazing.
He’s just taking a deep breath to tell them all in no uncertain terms to get out of the kitchen when a flash of blue appears above Midorima’s shoulder.
“Kagami-kun, if there’s anything you need,” Kuroko says. “Coach and I are going to the supermarket.”
Momoi focuses on Kuroko with a delighted squeal, but she doesn’t launch herself at him like usual, probably because Midorima and his off-putting scowl is in the way—Kagami is almost sure this is why this is how Kuroko chooses to make an appearance, placing himself where Momoi can’t reach him. (Which, shit, that’s smart. Kagami is going to have to remember that tactic the next time he lets Alex in his apartment.) (Maybe he can use Tatsuya as a barrier.)
“Kagami-kun?” Kuroko prompts, and Kagami turns his head to look at him properly, and.
Very vaguely, he’s aware of Takao taking a step back to survey the kitchen. “Uh, unless you were gonna feed us all with a curry and one chicken—?”
“No way that’s gonna be enough food,” Aomine grumbles. “Oi, Tetsu, buy back some karaage or something—”
“It’s winter, Kagami-kun has made preparations for oden,” Kuroko says, and props his chin on Midorima’s shoulder. Midorima makes a thoroughly irritated sound and tries to shrug him off, but Kuroko is immovable when he wants to be, just gazes steadily at Kagami with calm blue eyes. “Is there anything else, Kagami-kun?”
Kagami should be answering him. That is a thing Kagami should be doing.
It’s just that Kuroko’s expression is so innocent and he’s blinking and it’s endearing and someone’s put a Santa Claus hat on him, and the white puffball on the end is hanging in his face and shit, why is this so fucking adorable, what the fuck—
Beside him, Takao is snickering. Kagami blinks and realises that Aomine is watching him through narrowed eyes; from the doorway, Midorima has zeroed in on him with a thoughtful frown. Shit.
“You know what, Kuroko, the oden’s gonna be fine if that’s what this stuff’s for,” Takao says, waving his knife with a flourish at the bags on the counter. “I thought it was a lot for curry—anyway, we probably want some finger food?”
“Karaage,” Aomine repeats, momentarily distracted from his suspicious stare. “Chicken tenders. And nuggets, Tetsu.”
“Those are three different variations of exactly the same product,” Midorima says, exasperated. “As well as being extremely unhealthy—”
“We will purchase some snacks,” Kuroko concedes. He lifts his chin off Midorima’s shoulder, the white rim of the Santa hat tilting over his eyes. He pushes it upwards, but it just falls back down, and that’s still really fucking cute. “If there’s anything else we need, please call me to let me know.”
“I’ll come with you, Tetsu-kun,” Momoi chirps.
Kagami doesn’t even realise he’s staring after them until he looks up to find everyone else gazing at him with varying levels of interest.
“What,” he says.
Takao’s the first one to react, ducking further into Kagami’s line of vision with a smirk that’s full of enough humour for Kagami to feel a sense of apprehension. The knife in his hand isn’t helping matters, either. “So,” he drawls.
Kagami squints, suspicious, looks from Takao to Midorima and then Aomine, but none of their expressions are really giving anything away. “Yeah?” He hazards.
Takao’s grin widens. “You and Kuroko, huh?”
What the fuck—
Kagami doesn’t know what his face is doing, but it feels like it’s on fire, and that’s never a good fucking indication of anything. From the gleeful look on Takao’s face, there’s no way his cheeks aren’t some kind of firetruck red, and that.
“How did you know?” He blurts out.
Takao just smirks at him. “Are you kidding me?” He gestures to all of Kagami like it’s an answer, waving his knife with a flourish. Behind him, Midorima suppresses what looks like a very pained wince. “The way you act, the way you look at him, it’s—”
The doorbell rings, cutting him off. There’s a rustling of what sounds like an awful lot of construction paper from the living room before Captain’s voice bellows, “Someone answer the door!”
Everyone ignores him.
“I’m just saying, maybe you should do something about it,” Takao says. Something in Kagami’s expression must convey some kind of helplessness, because then he backtracks, eyebrows raising in surprised amusement. “Or, wait—you’re going to do something about—”
The doorbell rings again. Takao flinches like he can hear Captain building up to another ear-splitting yell and salutes Kagami with the knife. “I’m gonna go answer the door before we all go deaf, but we are not done with—”
“Aye aye, Captain,” Takao mutters under his breath, then makes his way out of the kitchen, brushing a hand over Midorima’s shoulder as he passes him in the doorway. “Coming!”
There’s a second of silence.
“What,” says Kagami.
Aomine has been glowering at him throughout his entire exchange with Takao, eyebrows down and features schooled into a scowl. Kagami watches him shift, hands in his pockets, before finally looking away.
Kagami grits his teeth. “What.”
“Aomine,” Midorima says, frowning. It’s not a question, but Aomine lifts a hand without lifting his head. The Generation of Miracles are all a bunch of goddamn weirdos. “Kuroko—you cannot still be—”
“I’m not, okay? Jesus, Midorima.” Aomine’s shoulders rise as he takes a breath. “I dunno what the bunch of you thought, but we were always just friends, for fuck’s sake.”
What the hell is going on.
Midorima frowns harder, if that’s even possible. Does he ever smile? (How is Takao friends with this guy, what the hell.) (More than friends? More than—fuck if Kagami knows, but their interactions have never looked just friendly.) “Then I’m not sure why you’re hesitating.”
“I’m not—Jesus, this isn’t about me, Midorima,” Aomine snaps, and that’s unbelievable in and of itself because when has anything not been about Aomine whenever Aomine is involved. “I’m worried about Satsuki, how’s she going to react—”
And oh. Oh. Momoi. Kagami feels himself wince. When Kagami does the thing—if Kagami does the thing, prospects are looking worse and worse, shit—how is he going to explain it to Momoi?
Midorima lets out a loud, long-suffering sigh. “Momoi-san will face the situation like a mature adult,” he says pointedly, which does make Kagami feel a bit better. (Wait, hell has frozen over, why is he being comforted by something Midorima has said—) “I have a considerable amount of faith in her. More so than, for example, in your ability to not act like a child if someone you were fond of—”
“Kindly refrain from interrupting me—”
“Whatever,” Aomine says tersely. His shoulders bunch up, tense, and it takes Kagami a while to realise he’s even speaking to him at all. “If you do do something, make sure you and Tetsu account to her, right?”
“And if you dare hurt Tetsu,” Aomine says, ignoring him. He’s been staring moodily at the kitchen tiles, but he lifts his head to address Kagami now, fixes him with a harsh stare. “I will personally rip your balls off.”
This is coming from the guy who basically abandoned Kuroko to go mope in a cloud of oh-no-the-only-one-who-can-beat-me-is-me-basketball-is-ruined-forever, so if Kagami glares at Aomine for the rest of the day and also trounces his ass in a one-on-one later, he completely deserves what’s coming to him.
But then again, if Kagami ever hurts Kuroko, he probably deserves his ass handed to him, and Aomine could probably actually pose him a threat in a fistfight, so like, fine, fair.
Wait a second.
“You’ve all been talking like Kuroko’s gonna say yes,” Kagami says.
Midorima and Aomine both turn to look at him with identical incredulous expressions.
“Yes,” Midorima says slowly, like he can’t believe how stupid Kagami is being (which, Kagami is not, it’s a perfectly legitimate concern). “Because—”
“Have we finally found the one person denser than you,” Aomine says rhetorically in Midorima’s direction. Midorima reddens.
“I am not dense.”
“Oh, yeah?” Aomine’s sullen expression lightens into a smirk. “How long did you take?”
To which Midorima turns even redder and sputters out something incoherent, and Aomine just laughs at him until Takao comes back with Kise in tow, which for some reason makes Aomine laugh even harder and say something about the compatibility of Scorpios and Cancers that makes Midorima turn almost maroon—
Look, whatever else Kagami might say about the Generation of Miracles, it is first and foremost that they are all a bunch of fucking weirdos.
For some reason, Akashi and Murasakibara show up along with the rest of the first strings of all five other schools at exactly six o’clock, which means that there is absolute chaos in Kagami’s living room for about twenty minutes (“Where do we all sit,” Murasakibara gripes, and Kagami has to resist the urge to punch him in the face) until Akashi, to his (growing) credit, manages to take control of the situation by suggesting they put chairs along the outside corridor, which is a good idea, even if it’s probably going to piss the neighbours off.
Somehow, Kagami can’t bring himself to care very much.
This also means that everyone who is terrified of Akashi hides in the kitchen while Akashi directs everyone else from the living room, which means that Furihata keeps trying to blend in with the wall closest to Kagami’s chopping board, and Kagami is slowly losing it. Again. For the hundredth time this goddamn party.
(Not least because Kuroko keeps disappearing, or being pounced on alternately by Kise and Momoi and the dog, and anyway, Kagami is too rushed off his feet with the oden and the roast chicken and the heating up of the five bags of fucking karaage that Coach dumped on the kitchen counter to even think about finding the time to confess.)
Thank god Tatsuya and Takao are both helping.
“That smells good, Kagamicchi,” Kise says at one point, sticking his head into the kitchen with a grin (Kagami is resigned to the fact that his kitchen is going to be filled with irritating Miracles at any and all points in time today, there is absolutely no getting rid of them). He has reindeer antlers on his head, some novelty headband he dug up from somewhere or possibly brought with him, which makes the sight of him doubly annoying. “When do we get to—”
Kagami just raises his knife threateningly in response. Kise wails dramatically, spinning on his heel and whining about how mean Kagamicchi is and how he’s so hungry and where is Kurokocchi—
Honestly, it’s enough to drive Kagami over the edge.
At least it’s all worth it, when the food is ready and everyone goes for seconds. (Aomine goes for thirds and fourths and fifths until Momoi stops him, but Aomine doesn’t count because Aomine’s stomach is a bottomless trash can and he will eat anything and everything.) Because despite everything—Kagami does like it when his cooking is appreciated, even when said appreciation comes in the form of Murasakibara basically eating half of the log cake he baked in the morning.
(“It means he thinks it’s amazing,” Tatsuya tells Kagami in between mouthfuls of curry, “so take it as a compliment, Taiga.”)
(Kagami will take it as a compliment when Murasakibara stops insulting Kagami’s taste in snacks when he shouldn’t have been looking in Kagami’s fridge in the first place and how did he even find that bag of marshmallows anyway, it was in the bottom of the fridge drawer.)
The party is a success, anyhow, from what Kagami can tell. He’s not quite sure what differentiates a Christmas party from any other kind of party, at least in Japan where no one really celebrates Christmas like they do in America, apart from the very lopsided tree in the corner of his apartment and the paper snowflakes Captain’s strung up all over the walls (shit, he stuck them up there with tape, that shit is going to be an absolute pain to get off the walls later). But everyone looks like they’re having a good time, which is—good?
Still, there’s really only one person Kagami cares about enjoying himself, and said person seems to have vanished from the living room. Which is incredibly frustrating because it’s Kagami’s apartment, and he should know Kuroko well enough to be able to spot him miles away by now and…
“Kagami Taiga,” Akashi says from behind Kagami, and Jesus Christ is he a cat because how else could he manage to sneak up so soundlessly behind him—“this has been rather successful.”
Kagami takes in the scene: Shuutoku’s Miyaji yelling something about pineapples in Midorima’s direction, Touou’s Imayoshi holding a conversation with a terrified-looking Furihata, everyone else riveted by the basketball match on screen (wait, shit, that dunk is amazing, can he record this?). In the corner, Murasakibara is quietly making his way through the remainder of the log cake.
There’s still no Kuroko in sight.
“I guess,” Kagami says dubiously.
Akashi chuckles. It’s still jarring to see him with calm red eyes, rather than with one glowing gold. (Not that Kagami doesn’t vastly prefer the calmness, because he really, really does, but.) “It was a delicious meal, at the very least. The curry was very flavourful.”
“Thanks?” Kagami doesn’t know what to say to that. He ruffles the hair on the back of his neck self-consciously. “I had help.”
“Himuro and Takao are extremely capable,” Akashi agrees. “Anyway, it’s a lovely party. I rather enjoy the decorations on the walls. Kudos to Seirin.”
“Yeah, Captain did that,” Kagami says. He forces a grin onto his face, hopes that he hasn’t been too obvious in craning his neck to look for Kuroko. (Akashi might be relatively less terrifying now than he was before, but who knows if not properly engaging in conversation with him will result in full-on ankle-break mode, Kagami isn’t taking any chances.) “Sorry to interrupt, but I gotta—”
“I see,” Akashi says, sounding far too amused. Kagami focuses back on his face just in time to see his eyes glint with humour. “If you’re looking for Tetsuya, I believe he’s on your balcony.”
Kagami should probably be surprised at Akashi’s mind-reading skills, but frankly, he’s had too much of the Generation of Miracles and Company for a day to be surprised by anything anymore.
“Thanks,” he says, hoping his gratitude is apparent enough, and escapes.
Kuroko is on Kagami’s balcony, which makes Kagami wonder if Akashi is actually psychic. Kagami didn’t see Kuroko slip out, and he was actually actively looking.
He’s leaning on the railing with a contemplative look on his face, arms folded across the metal surface, watching the moon like it holds answers to unspoken questions or—something like that, Kagami isn’t a fucking poet, he’s staring at the moon, that’s all.
(He’d grabbed Kuroko’s present from his room before he braved the balcony. Was that presumptuous? Fuck, maybe it was. He should’ve thought this through properly before he even came onto the balcony, shit, what is he going to—)
Kuroko’s noticed him standing in the shadows and turned to face him. In this light, he looks paler than normal, his eyes reflecting moonlight in a way that makes them look even bluer than usual, and.
Kagami does not go weak at the knees. He doesn’t.
(It’s just that—there’s snow falling outside, and it’s kind of chilly, and Kuroko’s cheeks and nose are tinged pink from the cold, and he’s wearing the pastel scarf Momoi made him for his birthday, and across the street there are lights shining yellow and cheerful and someone in the living room has decided to play Christmas songs on their phone and it all looks and feels like a goddamn Hallmark Christmas card, and if Kagami is a little bit caught up in the moment, well. No one will know it but him.)
“Uh, merry Christmas,” he says lamely, and then immediately wants to kick himself. (Merry Christmas, really, is that all he’s capable of, it’s just Kuroko, for god’s sake, can’t he—)
But then Kuroko’s mouth is doing that thing where it curls up at the edges whenever he thinks Kagami’s being an idiot, and he’s smiling. “Merry Christmas, Kagami-kun.”
“I was wondering where you went,” Kagami blurts, and then instantly regrets the words once they’re out of his mouth. Kuroko does not need to know that Kagami has literally spent the entire day trying to get Kuroko alone to confess to him.
Kuroko just tilts his head at him, blinking. “Did you want to ask me something?”
Inside the living room, someone laughs. There’s a clinking of glasses, the low murmur of chatter muted by the glass sliding door of the balcony. Kagami’s fingers close tighter around the soft package in his hand, the dry smoothness of the wrapping paper crinkling at his touch.
Soft flakes of snow have somehow caught in Kuroko’s hair. They must’ve been blown there by the wind, Kagami thinks vaguely. He automatically reaches out a hand to brush them away, then catches himself and stops, feeling the flush spread up the back of his neck.
Kuroko’s still watching him intently, eyes a fraction curious. “Kagami-kun?”
Fuck fuck fuck—
Kagami swallows. It’s now or never.
“I—yeah,” he manages. “Uh, I had a question, but—first, I got you a Christmas present, it’s not much, just.” He brings the package out from behind his back, holds it out to Kuroko, hopes the shaking of his hands isn’t visible (because god, if it is)—
Kuroko blinks at him again, looking slightly confused, but he does reach out with both hands to take the present, polite to the core. “I was not aware we were doing a gift exchange, Kagami-kun. I hadn’t—”
“No, no,” Kagami says. He’s babbling. (Why is he babbling, it’s just Kuroko.) “I, ah, I just saw it and thought of you. It was a last-minute thing, uh, don’t worry about giving me back anything—”
“Thank you,” Kuroko says, still bemused. His fingers press soft indents into the light-blue wrapping paper (the one Kagami’d been drawn to because it’s the colour of Kuroko’s fucking eyes, fuck, he is so gone for him it’s not even funny) as he turns it around, examining it. “May I open it?”
“Uh, yeah, okay,” Kagami says, and then shuts his mouth because if he can’t say anything useful he might as well not say anything at all, and saying anything useful is basically impossible when Kuroko is standing right in front of him opening his gift, so like.
Kuroko smiles at him—an honest-to-goodness smile, his eyes crinkling into crescent moons—and then sets about unwrapping the present, fingers careful on the tape like he’s trying not to damage it. It takes him a few tries; the cold must be getting to him, Kagami can see his own breath in the air when he speaks, and all Kuroko is in is a light jacket and a scarf. Kagami holds his breath, heart jumping each time he nearly succeeds, then stops breathing altogether when Kuroko finally manages to open the package and draw out a light-blue beanie.
“Kagami-kun,” Kuroko says, and his face lights up as he holds the beanie up, wrapping paper still carefully held in one hand, and Kagami did that, he made him smile like that, and shit, Kagami can actually feel his own face softening into a grin in response to Kuroko, and this is terrible and terrifying and amazing all at once and—
And then Kuroko takes a step towards him and takes his hand.
Kagami’s brain blanks out.
Kuroko slots his fingers through Kagami’s, curls his hand around his, then looks back up at Kagami, head tilted. He’s still smiling and god, he’s adorable, and Kagami still has no idea what’s happening because what is happening and—
“I hope that answers the question you were going to ask,” Kuroko says, and his smile turns a little mischievous at the corners.
What the hell.
Kagami gapes at him. “You knew—?”
“You were fairly obvious, Kagami-kun,” Kuroko says, and he’s definitely amused now, the little shit. “It is very hard not to notice when you keep staring and stuttering. You are generally very confident.”
“And the stuttering was even worse today, so I thought it was only a matter of time.” Kuroko has a look on his face like he’s trying not to laugh, the corners of his mouth twitching. “But yes, Kagami-kun. I would have thought my answer was obvious. It has been for a few months at least.”
“I—what the hell,” Kagami says, finally finding his voice. Kuroko’s fingers are a little cold, chilled from the wind, and Kagami is very aware of the press of them against his own. “You could’ve said something, asshole—”
“My apologies,” Kuroko says, not sounding very sorry at all. “You are very endearing when embarrassed, Kagami-kun.”
That makes Kagami’s face flame, he can feel the heat in his cheeks, but Kuroko is smiling at him again and squeezing his hand, and there’s a feeling in Kagami’s chest he can’t really describe, warm and surging and disbelievingly happy, and the smile on his face is probably desperately besotted, but somehow, he can’t bring himself to care.
“D’you want to have lunch tomorrow?” He says, and Kuroko laughs, eyes bright and happy.
“You didn’t even have to ask, Kagami-kun.”
They make their way back inside, Kuroko letting go of Kagami’s hand to tug the beanie over his hair (which seems counterintuitive since Kagami has the heater on inside, but whatever, his brain has already kind of shut off because it should be illegal to look that fucking cute in a beanie).
Most of the guests are still riveted by the basketball match on the TV (even the dog), but Takao looks up at the sound of the sliding door opening, blinking and alert where he’s sitting close to Midorima. Kagami doesn’t know what kind of ridiculous expression he currently has on his face, but it must show at least some of his elation, because Takao grins and nudges Midorima, who looks up and nods, as though satisfied.
Weirdos, all of them.
“I’m glad we had this party,” Kuroko says, warm against his side, and it’s only because he isn’t looking that Kagami lets himself grin, wide and soft, looking around the room at all his friends and basketball rivals, the paper decorations on the walls, the lopsided Christmas tree with its chipped gold star balanced precariously on top.
Inside his apartment, it’s warm and very cosy. White Christmas is playing on somebody’s phone in the corner, soft and slow. Kagami lets himself turn his head to catch a glimpse of the falling snow outside.
“Yeah,” he agrees, and squeezes Kuroko’s hand. “I’m glad, too.”