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He’s brought into the Emperor’s parlor not even an hour after finishing his last fight. There’s dust and grime clinging to his sweat, blood splashed on his sandals and across his arms. The chains clank on the marble flooring and weigh on him like he’s dragging them through mud. Relieved of his weapon, Kagami feels beyond vulnerable within the ring of Miracles, the Emperor’s closest guards, and even worse, he feels exposed within the decadent marble room with vaulted ceilings and gold-inlayed columns. The room echoes oddly, as it goes deep, though the half behind the throne is bathed in shadows, Kagami can see the silhouettes of motionless servants, still as statues.

The Emperor himself sat on a throne with a red cushion. He doesn’t lounge indecently as Kagami expects, but sits ramrod straight, one leg crossed over the other and splendid in his spotless white robes.

Kagami is pushed to one knee by the dark-skinned guard, Aomine, and he bows his neck with gritted teeth.

“The champion may rise.” The Emperor Akashi declares, voice vague uninterested. It doesn’t match the way his red eyes strip Kagami until he’s nothing but bones, and he bites his tongue to resist snarling like a cornered beast.

The Miracles, faces unimpressed as ever, line up beside the Emperor, two on each side, and despite the various hair colours and the height of that bastard Murasakibara, the Emperor captures all of Kagami’s attention.

“Caesar.” Kagami rasps, exhaustion lining his throat. He’s fought for near on five hours, off and on, one challenge after another. His limbs drag, his hands shake. Despite the inner will to leap forward, to pierce the smirking Emperor with something, anything, even if it cost him his life from the ring of spears in Miracle’s hands, Kagami can’t even dredge up the energy to imagine it.

“Doesn’t seem like much.” Aomine grunts, disappointed. Kagami wishes he could give the bastard something to be disappointed about, perhaps his fist in his face.

“He won eighteen fights, many of those against multiple opponents.” Kise responds lightly, blonde and sparkling as if he’s covered his cheeks in powder. “That’s worth admiration if nothing else, Aominicchi.” He teases over the Emperor’s head and Aomine sneers.

“Could crush him in a second right now though,” the tallest muses, leaning indolently on his spear. It’s a wonder the thing doesn’t snap with that weight. “Look at him, he’s swaying.”

Kagami grits his teeth and centers himself, forcing his knees to lock. He’d be damned if he passes out here, right in front of them, five tigers licking their chops.

“Hush.” Midorima snaps, pursing his lips. His wrapped fingers look odd, but Kagami’s heard of how he can send arrows into any target, at any angle, at any pace, with those fingers. “Akashi has brought him here for a reason, not to listen to you bicker.”

“Tch.” Aomine grunts, head lolling back in boredom.

“Before you choose your reward, brave gladiator,” Emperor Akashi says with the slyness of a snake, “I have a question. Perhaps you could answer it for me?” He asks it as though it’s a request, but the iron manacles around Kagami’s ankles mean something different.

He doesn’t respond.

“Hmm.” Akashi takes in his every inch, probably counting the pulses of his heart through the pulses of his jugular or something. “You left several alive. Even the last one. You had him under foot, your sword on his throat, yet you did not strike. Hanamiya would not have provided you the same decency. Why?” Akashi tilts his head.

Kagami detects a shift behind the Emperor and the Miracles, like someone made a movement. And yet, he couldn’t find anyone there.

Kagami wants to sigh. Or spit. But he also wants to live.

“Why not?” He says, trying for respectful but probably landing somewhere around disdainful. “No point in killing them if they’re still able to fight.”

“Interesting.”  Akashi’s eyes drill into him. “Perhaps it would pain you to know they’ve already been put to the sword.” There’s a flutter again, against Kagami’s senses, but he’s distracted by the swell of horror and disgust that almost takes his breath. Almost.

“What?! Why?” He snarls, making all four Miracles shift.

“They failed, and thus they are worthless.” Akashi replies smoothly, like it’s been written in stone. 

Kagami wants to scream at him, wants to drive a knife through his monstrous eye, wants to do a lot of things. The tightening grips on spears and the way the chains on his ankles dig into his bones stop him, and he chews into his tongue instead. Hatred fills him, and he knows he’s glaring.

“You have an oddly forgiving heart for a gladiator. It’s a wonder you’re still alive during these troubling times to be so giving. Nevertheless, you emerged victorious.” Akashi flicks his wrist like it doesn’t matter, like he didn't have men killed for the simple reason of being defeated by Kagami. His wins seem poisoned now.

“You have your choice of reward, brave gladiator,” Akashi was saying, but Kagami’s eyes were captured by blue.

Behind the Emperor’s throne suddenly stood a boy, perhaps a man, lithe and pale like he’s never seen the sun. Dressed in chiffon that clings to him, he’s as still as a ghost and clearly as quiet as one, since none of the Miracles nor the Emperor seem to have noticed him. Blue eyes search Kagami’s soul and he’s shocked to find some answering kindred spirit within him, some commiseration or vulnerability that strikes Kagami as genuine and heartfelt.

He looks gentle, looks harmless, like anything and everything could hurt him. And he’s staring at Kagami, something heartbreakingly like hope furrowing his brows.

“—you may pick only one.” Akashi says, and Kagami clues back in, realizing he’d completely ignored the Emperor’s words. He stares back in silence, baffled, and it dawns on them that he hadn’t been listening.

Aomine snorts, and Kise hides a chuckle behind a hand. There’s no perceptible change to Akashi, but both Midorima and Murasakibara frown at him, grips tightening on spears. Kagami takes in the amphora, set nearby filled with gold. On the opposite side was a helmet inscribed with the lion’s head, the uniform of the Empire. And a collection of chiffon-draped concubines silently kneeling to the right, ordered in a line near the columns, all with bowed heads. Were these his choices? Gold to spend on whores and in taverns while he fought as a gladiator, a uniform to don and pretend to serve the empire, or a woman to enjoy for a few hours in the night? Truly? Bitterness stained his tongue. The Emperor considered these rewards? For a captured slave, made to fight?

“Do you think he’s, you know,” Kise whispers, leaning over to Midorima, “a little slow?” Before the green haired man can snap back, Akashi uncrosses his legs so his feet both hit the floor, silencing them all.

“Your options are before you.” He says, voice final and echoing, like the god’s directives. The blue haired man behind the throne delicately reaches forward and holds the back of it, fingers slim and entirely breakable. It’s like he’s reaching for Kagami. “Choose.”

“And if I say my freedom?” Kagami rasps.

“Then you have chosen death. Enslaved, you are my champion and will continue to remain so. Being freed, you are now a Gaulish invader of the Empire, and must be exterminated. To keep the peace, of course.” Akashi replies, something like cruel amusement flickering in his lips. Not his eyes, which remain dead and empty.

“Figures.” Kagami mutters, and he lifts one weary hand to rub at his face, unwilling to choose any of them, but also unwilling to die before he returns home.

“Choose quickly, wretch, we all have places to be!” Midorima snaps after a few empty seconds, and Kagami grits his teeth. He looks up again, once more shocked by how his eyes are drawn directly to the blue-eyed man, who’s lips have parted, and he looks straight into Kagami’s heart. Something pangs in him, and he…he wants--  

“Him.” Kagami says, unbidden. Upon saying it, he realizes that yes, that is his answer, and he would die for it. “I choose him.” He points at the shadow behind the throne, and blue eyes shimmer.

The four Miracles on either side of the throne follow his finger and visibly startle, Kise leaping backwards at finding the blue-eyed man right there at his elbow. How is it none of them noticed him? Kagami catches Akashi’s fingers gripping his chair arms tightly, before Aomine is on him, a strong fist in his gut and forcing him over.

Kagami gasps for air, grunting when an elbow slams into his spine, sending him to his knees.

“How dare you!” Aomine shouts, “Fucking bastard, Tetsu ain’t one of your choices!”

“Kurokocchi, when did you get there?!” Kise is shouting, grasping Kuroko by the arms and shaking him a little. Murasakibara is shaking his head, saying something along the lines of “well, that’s done it. I’m bored, can we kill him now?” And Midorima already has his spearpoint pointed at Kagami’s head.

He won’t change his decision though, not even when Aomine reaches for his sword.

There’s a rustle of fabric, and just when Aomine has his sword up to strike, the blue-eyed man, Kuroko Tetsu, is between Kagami and the Miracle. A delicate hand is on his shoulder, and between gasps around a bruised stomach, Kagami realizes it’s cold and soothing against his skin.

“Tetsu, move.” Aomine grits out.

“No, Aomine-kun.” Kuroko says, and his voice is like an open blue sky in Kagami’s childhood home, where the fields roll on forever and the clouds bring the promise of rain. Nothing like the dry heat here. Despite himself, Kagami leans into the other, finding the fabric of his robes soft on his cheek. Fuck, he’s tired, and he tastes blood. Did he bite his tongue?

“Tetsuya.” Akashi says, like an owner calling his dog. “Come here.”

Kuroko doesn’t move from Kagami’s side, and Kagami can’t help it, he’s sliding sideways, leaning against a surprisingly strong leg, face leaving sweat and grime on white fabric. The hand touches his head, entering his sweaty hair, and it’s a gentle touch that would have brought Kagami to his knees if he wasn’t already.

He wraps a hand around Kuroko’s thin bare ankle, wondering within himself why this one man was bringing him such peace, even in the den of his people’s greatest enemy.

“Kuroko-kun,” Midorima says, something that could have been wariness entering his voice, “do as your Emperor bids.”

“You said his options were before him. He chose.” Kuroko answers, emotionless. Nothing read that he was frightened or upset in the lines of his body or his voice, not even his face, but his fingers gripped in Kagami’s hair tightly.

“You weren’t on offer!” Aomine snarls, “He’s a goddamn motherless Gaul, what the fuck do you think you’re doing?”

“You forget, Aomine-kun, I am also one of those goddamn motherless Gauls.” What’s amazing, is that Kuroko could make something sound so biting without an ounce of bitterness or rage in his voice.

There’s a beat of silence, and Kagami’s heart lurches in his chest.

“I rescued you from that life.” Akashi says quietly in that silence, dangerous the way an adder is before it strikes, “This is how you wish to reject that kindness?”

“Akashi-kun,” Kuroko answers, and Kagami twitches at such a flippant address to the bloody Emperor, “your champion has made his choice, and I accept it. How can that possible be rejecting your kindness?”

Akashi doesn’t reply, but the way he levels his eyes at Kuroko makes Kagami wish he still had fight in him, so he could stand in front.

“Kurokocchi,” Kise says, heartbroken and hurt, “how can you trust him? There’s no telling what he will do to you, he’s a monster.”

“No more than any of the Miracles are monsters, or do you forget how you came to your station?” Kuroko answers calmly, and all four flinch in some way. Curiosity curls in Kagami’s chest, but he’s far more concerned with the dangerous way Akashi was eyeing them both. It felt somehow, like the Emperor could see where Kagami’s hand circles Kuroko’s ankle, could see how he left a handprint of mud and flaked blood on the pale skin. Kagami grips tighter and is rewarded with cool fingers brushing the hair from his eyes.

Aomine shows his teeth at them, threatening, but is restrained by Akashi’s silence. Straightened to his full height, Kagami knew Murasakibara would have already put his spearhead through his throat if he had the chance, and both Midorima and Kise were glancing between Kuroko and Akashi, wary and concerned by turns.

“Very well.” Akashi’s voice is as cold as ice, cooling the room by several degrees by its very frigidity. “You will have one night and one day to be with your chosen champion. After that, he returns to the cells, and to his chances in the gladiator ring.” Akashi’s eyes are hard as granite, and he stands to view both Kuroko and Kagami from his dais.

“I thank you, Akashi-kun.” Kuroko bows his head, and Kagami is thankful his face is mostly hidden in the folds of his robe. He couldn’t even pretend to offer deference, not now. Not with Kuroko in such a vulnerable spot.

“You might not, when you realize his worth. Or lack of.” Akashi replies coolly, and sweeps out of the chamber, followed by a collection of servants, Murasakibara, and Midorima. Kise leans down to speak with an attendant with pink hair, a worried frown on his face. The attendant is staring at Kuroko, though, heartbroken, and Kagami wonders how many of these people have such a stake in Kuroko’s life that they would worry for him like this. He was dressed like a servant.

No, he was dressed like one of the concubines, bare shoulders, bare feet, and bare throat.

“Tetsu,” Aomine hisses, grabbing Kuroko, “are you thinking this through? Who the fuck is this guy to you?”

“I’ve never met him in my life, Aomine-kun.” Kuroko answers dully, not caring about the bruises Aomine was probably leaving.

“Tch.” Aomine sneers, before yanking Kagami up off the ground, with a harsh grip under his arm. Kise comes to Kagami’s other side, and the four of them follow the pink haired attendant. Kuroko leads, speaking lowly with the woman who seems to become increasingly fervent in her attempts to convince him out of whatever this was.

“Tetsu-kun,” she was saying lowly, “why are you doing this? What has happened to make you want to anger the Emperor so?”

“I am not doing this to anger Akashi-kun.” Kuroko answers, expressionless. Kagami wonders if anyone else notices the tension in his shoulders, in the way he held his head up straight. Proud. “Momoi-san, please do not worry for me. Kagami-kun is not the type to hurt me.”

“How do you know?!” Momoi reaches for him, holding onto his arm, the same that Aomine had bruised. Kuroko turns to glance behind, capturing Kagami’s gaze in that same way he did the first time. There’s something playing around his mouth, and it would almost be a smile if not for the situation.

“I don’t.” Blue eyes, blue, blue eyes. “But I do.”

“That doesn’t make any sense!”

“Yeah, it doesn’t make sense.” Aomine said lowly to Kagami, anger clear in his voice, “Listen here you bastard, if I find out you hurt him, at all, or did anything to him at all, I’m  going to empty your guts onto the street and then piss in them. Do you understand me?” He holds Kagami’s arm behind him painfully, overpowering him. Kagami thinks about smashing Aomine’s face in.

“I will have people watching you, Kagami-san,” Kise says on his other side, almost pleasant in comparison save for the daggers glinting in his eyes, “no matter what Kurokocchi says, he is far more important than your very existence.”

Kagami doesn’t reply to either of them, but he can’t help his pained grunt from the way they wrench his arms. They’re unsatisfied, but they do unshackle him when they reach the room he’d apparently ‘won’ by defeating his many opponents. Many of which were now dead. The loss of talented life still itches within him, and he wonders how the Emperor can maintain his grim games if he killed off all the defeated.

Kagami is thrown into the room, and after a few minutes of useless convincing, Kuroko is let in as well. There’s the sound of a lock turning, and they’re alone. Taking in the room, the high windows and lack of available weaponry, the table of food and a smaller washing room beyond, Kagami can’t help the way his stomach growls, loud in the sudden silence.

“Please,” Kuroko says, startling him. He’d almost forgotten he was there. “Eat.” He waves his hand at the table, laden with fruits and fresh produce and cured meats, even a roasted slab of beef. He’s starving, so he doesn’t let himself do much more than pause before tromping over and beginning to eat.

“Are you hungry?” Kagami asks, swallowing around a large chunk of meat. Kuroko had done nothing more than stand and stare at him while he gorged himself, Kagami was uncomfortable.

“Only a little.”

“Eat,” Kagami nods at the other chair, and after a moment of seeming indecision, Kuroko joins him.

Some kind of hidden instinct within Kagami was going haywire, and he found himself taking in every movement Kuroko made. Not to judge him as a threat, Kagami was pretty sure he could take the smaller man who was at best half his weight and a full foot and a half shorter than him, but to…take him in. Look at him. Swallow him whole.

Flushing, because what the fuck, Kagami stuffs a whole orange in his mouth and nearly chokes at how it tastes, eyes watering.

“Careful on the citrus fruits, if you haven’t had any recently, they may upset your stomach.”

“Ah, thanks.”  He swallows and lets his stomach settle at the sudden influx of richer foods than what they normally serve in the cells, Kagami finally turns and stares at Kuroko instead. He finds the blue-eyed man picking his way through a small cake like thing, eyes open and blue and staring back at Kagami. Again, they arrest him, and it’s like Kuroko’s telling him hundreds of things in a single look, all in a language he doesn’t understand.

“You’re a Gaul?” Kagami asks

“I was.” Kuroko answers. “I was taken by Akashi when we were both children. He is almost all I’ve ever known.”

“He’s a prick.” Kagami grunts, then his eyes flick to the doors, and into the shadows. Kuroko makes a noise, a huff, and it would probably be a laugh on anyone else. It makes Kagami stare at him, at the softness in his eyes and the way his shoulders fall under some great weight.

“He didn’t used to be. But now…” Kuroko trails off, nibbling at his cake.

Kagami eyes him for a moment, not really wanting to talk about the Emperor who had singlehandedly driven his people to near extinction. He eventually sighs, scratching at his hair and wincing at finding a new cut on his scalp. Blood flecks off under his nails.

“Would you like to bathe?” Kuroko asks suddenly, standing. He moves to the curtained door, and inside Kagami can just barely see an inset tub, in the floor, and he wonders at it. “The water will be warm.” Kuroko glances back at him, and Kagami is struck by the man once more. He’s…he’s beautiful, and it surprises Kagami to find such a thing in a place like this, the Emperor's own palace.

“Yeah, that would be good.” Kagami rises but doesn’t want to leave the food.

“It will remain. No one will enter here until this time tomorrow.” Kuroko says, tucking the curtain over a hook and waiting, patiently. “Akashi has said so, and so it will be.”

“He’s not a god.” Kagami replies but does cross the room to pass under the door, he’s almost too tall for it. The tub is inset like he guessed and fill with water that seems to nearly steam. How is that possible?

“Heated pipes, leading to a forge.” Kuroko answers his dumfounded expression. “Akashi has many talents. He is an inventor.”

“Stop talking about him.” Kagami asks, before kneeling to put his hand in the water. It is warm, and it makes something cry out in Kagami, when was the last time he had a warm bath? He was at home, with his mother and father, his brother and teacher.

“I apologize.” Kuroko says, and he’s at Kagami’s back. Stiffening, because he hasn’t let anyone get at his back in ages, he couldn’t survive like that in the ring, Kagami is surprised by tiny fingers when they reach for his jerkin.

He captures them, standing, and turning. Kuroko stares up at him, unconcerned, and Kagami knows he could reach out and kill him in an instant. There wasn’t any physical fight to the other, no evidence he knew how to attack, or maim, or kill. His throat was thin, Kagami’s hands could wrap it and it would be over in a few seconds.

But something stays him. Swallowing, Kagami lets those hands go, and Kuroko carefully reaches forward and unlaces his jerkin, stripping him of it.

Gods this was intimate.

“I…” Kagami says, perhaps only to fill the silence because he doesn’t have a sentence ready to follow it with.

“It’s alright.” Kuroko says, taking his wrist guards off too and bundling the clothing to the side where a cabinet waits. He busies himself with brushing the leather, cleaning it, and Kagami takes the chance to strip his underclothes and climb into the water, unwilling to be caught naked by this man. The water hitting his skin is almost repelled completely by the layer of grim and sweat and dust, but the heat of it makes Kagami groan involuntarily and he dunks himself in completely just to stay suspended, warmed properly for once in a long, long time.

Then he starts to scrub, and the water turns murky.

When he breeches for air, Kuroko is kneeling by the tub side, blue eyes open and expressing astonishment, the most emotion Kagami has seen yet.

“What?” He asks, almost reaching to cover himself once more, but he realizes the water has turned a disgusting brown.

“You have red hair.” Kuroko says, almost in awe. A pale hand reaches out, almost touching, before Kuroko seems to remember himself and he withdraws it.

“It’s alright.” Kagami surprises himself yet again by speaking before he thinks. Kuroko looks at him, in the eye, and reaches forward again, slowly, like he’s afraid Kagami will take it back.

He’s not entirely sure why he gave it in the first place, but he’s not one to second guess.

Kuroko touches his hair, pushing it off his forehead again like he did before. So he could see his eyes clearer. There’s a quiet painful awe in his eyes, and Kagami wonders…he wonders.

“I remember hair like this from my childhood.” Kuroko offers. He has a bar of soap in his other hand and he waves Kagami closer. Kagami wades towards him, kneeling in the tub, and lets Kuroko bring the soap to his wet hair to begin scrubbing. Kuroko works methodically, not pulling or pushing, and he does well enough to keep the suds form Kagami’s face so he can keep his eyes on him.

“Kissed by fire.” Kuroko almost smiles with it. “My mother would…she would tell me stories about the magic that people with red hair have, how they’re the closest to the fairy realm.”

“Fairy kin. My mother told me the same about people with blue eyes.” Kagami says, looking up at Kuroko, who rinses the soap in the water, handing it to Kagami. Drifting backwards, Kagami leans and scrubs suds out of his hair, relishing in being about to actually touch the strands and not get sand or grit or scabs from it.

Kuroko’s lips quirk just a bit, a near smile, and it’s entirely distracting.

“Is that why you said yes?” Kagami asks, bursting with it, he wants an answer. He’s rinsed, he soaps his body once more, thankful that the water was somehow still warm. Thankful too, that the wounds he’s earned are clean now and thankfully not deep. He wants to soak, but it’s cloudy with dirt and probably not worth it.

Kuroko doesn’t answer immediately. He stands and brings back a cloth to towel him dry, and allows him the privacy to do it himself, turning his back. There’s a dark robe hanging on the cabinet where Kagami’s jerkin was drying. Kuroko had even scraped it of the bloody mess on the side.

Dressed in clean clothing, clean for the first time in what must be months, Kagami is thankful his muscles seem to have relaxed into normal tiredness, rather than the helpless exhaustion he had felt in front of the Emperor.

Kuroko takes his hand, and Kagami is once again stilled by the weird connection he felt to this smaller blue haired man. Drawn by him into the room where the food table waited, and where Kagami realized the cushions and padded chaises created a decadent bed and not just a lounging parlor, Kuroko urges him to sit and pours them some wine.

Gods, Kagami hasn’t had any good wine in ages either. He misses beer.

“I don’t know.” Kuroko finally says, and Kagami has to quickly swallow his wine before he spits it everywhere.

“What do you mean you don’t know?!” Kagami asks, staring at him. Kuroko just looks back, shrugging slightly to show that he simply just…didn’t know.

“You didn’t kill your opponents. Not if you didn’t need to.” Kuroko says, pinching his robes between his fingers and letting the silky cloth slip between them. Kagami’s dirt is still present on them, and Kagami shocks himself by imagining slipping the cloth off the smaller man’s shoulders. Imagines his larger, sun darkened hands on that pale skin. Touching.

“Yeah? So?” That bitterness fills him again, thinking of all the capable men dead just because Akashi couldn’t tolerate ‘failure’.

“I admired you.” Kuroko says lowly, and he’s got his wine in his hand but hasn’t sipped it once.

“Admired me?” Kagami barks a laugh, still swimming in a weird combination of bitterness and arousal. He’s long accepted his taste for men instead of women, but it was still a shock to find himself with this man, imagining this man, small and unassuming and weaker than his typical partners. “What’s to admire of a slave?”

“Everything.” Kuroko whispers, despair clinging to the word, and it strikes Kagami right in the heart.

“What do you mean?” He asks as gently as he can, grimacing because he’s not built for careful words or soft things. Kuroko draws one leg up under himself and leans on the chaise, giving Kagami a great view of the planes of his shoulders, the way his torso bends and his hip juts out even under the thin cloth of his robes. Kagami takes another gulp of wine.

“They were great, once.” Kuroko twists his fingers together, wine forgotten. “The Miracles. Great men, great leaders. Capable, generous, kind. They found achievement thrilling, found success and innovation and the challenge of battle to be exciting and worthwhile.”

“Really? Now they seem…bored. And cruel.” Kagami says, letting himself relax a bit, with the bath and the wine and the warmth of the room…and Kuroko across from him, a vision in white and blue and delicate lips. He remembers Aomine, that even through his anger and rage at Kagami’s audacity to choose Kuroko, how his blows weren’t as strong as he expected, nor as quick.

“They grew too far, too fast, and became disillusioned. Akashi hit some kind of crisis without anyone there to help him, and he…changed, he became cruel. Empty. Endless. Absolute.” Kuroko’s eyes grew duller with each second, deadening into nothing, none of that open interest or curiosity or awe that he had been before. It rubbed Kagami the wrong way.

Standing, Kagami downs his wine, then steals a few snacks from the table, taking a slice of that weird cake Kuroko had been eating and handing it to him. Kuroko blinks, accepting it, and gazes up at Kagami.

He can almost imagine stretching out atop Kuroko, with the way he was laying, and banishes the thought before he hardens and embarrasses himself.

“He’s cruel to you?” Kagami frowns, downing the last of the beef and licking his fingers. His stomach protests, but he doesn’t know when he’ll get to eat again like this.

“Not…not truly.” Kuroko replies, and the brief hesitance makes Kagami’s eyes narrow. “I am good at being in the shadows. I watch. He doesn’t seem to understand anymore, that the death of people is wrong. That failure is a part of humanity.” There’s something hollow behind his blue eyes, and Kagami hates it. “That people aren’t pieces of a game.”  

“No.” Kagami was eyeing him, with a frightening intensity. “They’re not.” Kuroko could barely continue looking at him, choosing to drop his gaze to where Kagami’s collarbone peaked from his robe.

“How come they couldn’t tell you were there?” Kagami asks, out of the blue again. Kuroko needs to stop being surprised by the man’s curiosity. It was clear he wanted answers, about anything and everything, as a slave you don’t get to ask questions often. Ever. The world was cruel.

“I’m good at going unnoticed.” Kuroko smiles, glancing to the side, drawing Kagami’s gaze to a flickering torch hung on the wall. Kagami hummed, then glances back, and Kuroko is no longer there.

“Hello.” It’s said right at his shoulder, and Kuroko leans over, shining in the darkness and smiling, almost, when Kagami jolts in surprise.

“Gah! Where did you come from?!” Kagami cries, balking at him. Was the man a ghost? How can someone be so silent?

“I said, I am good at not being noticed. People often lose track of me, or forget I exist. I allow them to.” Kuroko says, gently taking Kagami’s glass form him, to refill. Watching, perhaps a little too closely as the chiffon clings to his sides and legs, Kagami accepts the wineglass back and follows Kuroko with his eyes as the man goes about turning everything down, dampening torches so just the oil-lights flared, covering the food from the flies, closing the curtain to the washing room.

“I saw you.” Kagami says into the low light. Kuroko pauses, a shining figure, pale skin and blue hair nearly alien. “I saw you behind the throne. Did you let me see you?”

“Only at the end. When you looked at me…” Kuroko stares at the pillow he holds in his hand as though it has all the answers. “…when you looked at me, it was like I was being seen in the light of day for the first time.”

Something hot flushes through Kagami’s body, and it wasn’t the wine. 

“I asked for you, and you said yes.” Kagami notes, sipping. It’s watered down, thankfully, he doesn’t want to be drunk in this den of snakes. Nor does he want to be drunk and miss any of this time with Kuroko. “You refused the Emperor, so you could be my reward. Do you do this often?”

“Not once.” Kuroko answers, coming back to perch on his chaise, legs stretched out towards Kagami. “You saw me, Kagami-san, and I wanted to see you too.” Despite the deadpan delivery, there’s something mischievous in his eyes, and Kagami gives a valiant attempt at not being flattered.

“Well, looks like nobody can stop you when you make a decision, huh?” Kagami says, as lightly as he can, hitching a half smile on his face.

Kuroko nods, solemnly.

“Not even if he’s the Emperor of Rome?” Kagami raises his eyebrow, fierce and somehow approving in the darkness.  

“I do what I want.” Kuroko sniffs imperiously, and it makes Kagami burst out in wholehearted, almost giddy laughter. It’s been months, perhaps years, since he’s laughed like this, and it hurts as much as it soothes.

“Who are you, Kuroko Tetsuya?” Kagami asks after his laughter dies down and he luxuriates for long minutes, eyes drifting closed in a rare moment of peace. Kuroko won’t kill him in his sleep, he can smell it. 

“Who I am, doesn’t matter.” Kuroko’s spellbinding voice answers, quiet and careful. “I find who you are, much more important.”

Kagami feels like he’s dreaming. His stomach is full, he’s pleasantly buzzed in a way that doesn’t impede his reaction times. He’s comfortable, he’s warm, clean, shaved, he’s got his braid in his hair again. It’s almost like he’s back at home, Kuroko at his side.

Was he? He started out opposite but here he was, lightly touching Kagami, to wake him?

“Kagami-san, this can’t be comfortable.” Kuroko was saying. “Come, to the bed. You’ll sleep better.”

Kagami grunts, but rolls to his feet, standing and casting Kuroko in shadow from the light of the lamps. Kuroko looks up at him, and something about this moment is striking Kagami in all the hidden parts of his soul. Like something great and powerful has turned its attention to him, a long-lost slave, far from home and aching for it. Kuroko’s gaze told him secrets, but Kagami just can’t read them entirely.

Kuroko tugs at his wrist, and he’s brought to where the bedding is, just a bunch of cushions on a raised kind of mattress. It’s nothing like the beds at home. And when he lays on it, Kagami groans and hates these people who live here all the more, how dare they have comfortable beds.

Kuroko huffs a noise through his nose, like a laugh, and Kagami realizes he’s been muttering all of this under his breath.

Kuroko draws out of Kagami’s sphere, only nearly, because Kagami snatches out a hand and captures his wrist. It’s small in his grip, tiny, really, bones and soft skin helpless to his strength. But he doesn’t squeeze, just cracks open an eye and urges Kuroko down to him.

“Stay.” Kagami mumbles into the pillow his head had fallen on. “Stay here. It’s comfortable.”

“It’s your bed, your reward, Kagami-san.”

You’re my reward.” Kagami replies, and it’s true in all senses. He tugs gently once more. He feels…possessive, just once, just this once, over a person. Kuroko can be his, for now, right? Hell, the Emperor of Rome had said yes…Kuroko himself had said yes. And Kagami wants him right here in his bed, close enough to touch.

“As you wish.” Kuroko whispers, and slips into the blankets and pillows like a ghost. He barely disturbs the blankets, but lies nearby, Kagami’s hand still clasping his wrist. Kagami drags his finger over the pulse point, callouses scratching, and Kuroko shudders. It catches Kagami’s attention, and he opens both his dozing eyes. They’re on fire as he looks at Kuroko, deep red and powerful. It’s like being in the sights of a beast, pinned down and trembling, waiting for swift death.

“Sleep, Kagami-san, you’ve earned it.” Kuroko whispers to him, privately, just for them, and his fingers brush over Kagami’s eyelids.

“Taiga.” Kagami grunts, “M’name’s Taiga.” And sleep takes him.

Kuroko lets out a breath when Kagami finally rests. Taiga. How apt. Before he lulls into sleep, quicker than usually, Kuroko reaches out and touches Kagami’s robed shoulder, affirmed by the warmth of him, and the muscle, that he was real, and really, really, there.

Kagami slept several hours. They were the best hours of sleep he’s ever had in his life, and when he wakes, when the night is still dark and the lamps low and feels like a new man. He’s sore, of course, aching and still fucking enslaved, but, new. Staring up at the ceiling, because somehow, he’s on his back, with a weight on his arm, Kagami blinks, turns his head and wonders if he’s still asleep.

Kuroko lies next to him.

His robe has shifted, falling to show his thigh and his clavicle. Resting his head on an ornate pillow, Kagami is amused to see the embroider has impressed itself on his pale cheek, drawing lines on the skin. His hair is mussed but he doesn’t seem to have moved much.

He’s also clasping Kagami’s arm to himself, both hands around the bicep and a knee knocked over his wrist. If he moved his hand, Kagami could have a good grip of his thigh, touching him, right there, in an intimate place.

Kagami is shocked by how much he wants to do that.

So he does.

Kuroko shifts, humming into wakefulness to find Kagami easing up onto his shoulder, looming beside him, grasping his bare thigh with his closest arm.

Unthinking, Kagami reaches out with his other hand and slips his thick fingers over Kuroko’s lips, then his chin and down his neck, pressing, just to feel the way he breathes. Blue eyes distract him, once again, and Kagami grits his teeth, removing his hand.

It doesn’t go far, Kuroko grabs it in the air and pulls it back towards himself, lips parting so a tongue can wet them. Kagami curses within his mind, body reacting and fingers gripping tighter on that pale, pale thigh. Kuroko urges him to touch him, and Kagami can only scramble the last dregs of his self-control together to remain firm.

“I won’t force you.” Kagami tells him, finality ringing in his voice. There were many horrible things in the world, most of which Kagami has seen either in the pits or the cells, and he fucking won’t stoop to that.

“I don’t mind.” Kuroko whispers, a light breeze in the heat of the dark. Kagami bites his own tongue, throbbing. Kuroko presses his palm over his thin bird-like collarbone.

“I don’t care about what you mind, I care about what you want.” Kagami barks but lets his fingers curl over the fragile curve of Kuroko’s neck and shoulder.

Kuroko looks at him, eyes huge and lips parted, due to the touch? His words? Kagami didn’t know, but it was doing serious damage to his self-control.

“I want Kagami-kun.” Kuroko says, clearly, eyes swallowing Kagami’s own like they would never let them go.

“Good.” Kagami says, because his control is broken, and he’s bodily dragging Kuroko over to him, beneath him, with one strong powerful arm. Kuroko gasps, clutching his forearm and shoulder, blinking in shock. He doesn’t have much time to recover either, because Kagami is already dipping down and sealing their mouths together.

“Hmm—” A rough moan fights its way from Kagami the instant Kuroko starts kissing back, which is almost immediately. Lips part and let Kagami in, and they move, gently, together and apart and together again. A tongue flicks out and slides over his bottom lip, and he jerks, surprised by how stimulated he was by just a gods be damned kiss.

“Kagami…kun…” Kuroko sighs as Kagami uses his grip to pull him in further, slipping a thigh between Kuroko’s.

“I told you my name…” Kagami releases his mouth so Kuroko can pant, diving to lick and kiss and bite his way over a pale throat to a pale neck, leaving scattered marks when he slips and bites too hard. “Use it.”

“Ka—” Kuroko pants into the air, arching his neck so Kagami had better room. “Kagami-kun is bold.”

Drawing his air in through his teeth when Kuroko does a thing with his legs that makes all of him rub up pleasurably against Kagami, he retracts his face so he can look down in Kuroko’s blushing one. He’s breathing heavier, his thin robes have fallen off his shoulders and bared him further, and he’s fucking gorgeous, hidden by Kagami’s shadow like he’s always been there.

“I have you in my bed.” Kagami tells him, ignoring the fact that this was, in fact, not his bed. “I have you beneath me, by your own will. Use my name.” He whispers it, drowning in blue eyes. “Let me have this, have you, before I die.”

“Kagami-kun won’t die.” Kuroko grabs his shoulders, brows flicking together, expression going nearly concerned. He fights to spread his legs, to wrap himself entirely around Kagami, to smother him with his body. Kagami is breathless by both the movements and the look on his face. “He can’t.”

“Your Emperor will probably murder me the first chance he gets.” Kagami snorts, grim humor making him hitch a slight smile on. He drops to one elbow and lets himself grope Kuroko, who only stretches to let him touch more. “If not him, then Aomine will.”

“He’s not…my Emperor.” Kuroko bites his lip, and Kagami watches it flush pink when it releases, leaning forward to lick into that mouth and taste it for himself. Kuroko tastes like sweetness, like the cake he had been eating. Like vanilla bean, stripped and boiled in the milk used to bake it.

“Kuroko…Tet…Tetsuya, please.” Kagami whispers, eyes closed, forehead resting against the others. He just wants to hear his name.

“Taiga.” Kuroko whispers, and he’s biting into Kagami’s bottom lip, to make him open his eyes. He stares dolefully up at Kagami, a vision against the pillows of pale white and blue. “Taiga.” Lightning travels up Kagami’s spine, and he fucks forward, drawing a gasp from the slighter man.

“I feel like I know you,” Kagami confesses, drawing one thigh up to his hip so he can give in, rutting against Kuroko with helpless pushes of his hips. “I feel like I’ve known you all my life. How is that possible?”

Kuroko only gasps, eyes going hazy and half-lidded, clutching at Kagami’s shoulders and hips by turns, giving him everything he wants. Kissing him, deeper and deeper, Kagami lets himself fall further, harder, into Kuroko, heaving in air through his nose so he doesn’t have to separate their lips.

“It’s like you’re speaking to yourself, when you say my name, but it’s also like I’ve been hearing it since I was a boy. Who are you, Tetsuya?” Kagami kisses him fiercely one moment, then drawing up all his strength, pushes himself upwards and onto his knees, regretfully pulling away from the warmth of Kuroko’s body.

Staring into his eyes, Kagami starts plucking Kuroko’s robes upwards, pulling them open and off with plenty of slow motions that could let Kuroko stop him at any moment. With mussed blue hair and darkened blue eyes, Kuroko lets him strip him completely, until he’s bare and naked beneath Kagami. He’s hard, his cock straining upwards against his smooth belly, head pink and with a drop of slick at the slit.

Kuroko’s legs fall open, and his hands grasp at the pillow under his head, laying himself open for Kagami to touch as he pleases. Lust rockets through Kagami, so powerfully his hips thrust into the air, and his hand clenches tight on a boney hip. It makes Kuroko whimper, but not with pain. How is it possible this man was accepting of Kagami’s advances? Kagami wasn’t even sure anymore if he hadn’t just been killed instantly when he requested Kuroko as his for the night. Perhaps all of this was just a dream in death, perhaps Kagami was already on his way to the afterlife.

And if not, perhaps this was very much hell on earth, because Kagami can’t even imagine giving Kuroko back after the sun rose tomorrow.

“’Tsuya, how can I survive you?” Kagami whispers, almost to himself, drunk on the heady sound of Kuroko’s sweet noises. Kuroko pants, slipping his right leg up to slip his foot into Kagami’s robe and tug it open, tongue poking at the corner of his mouth like the tease he was.

Unashamed of his body, Kagami tugs his robe off and lets his large hands fall onto Kuroko’s ankles, gripping them and manipulating the joint just to feel their frailty. He pushes, bending Kuroko’s legs and baring all of him, letting those ankles go to slip over his shoulders. Kagami looms closer, his very weight forcing Kuroko’s legs back and apart, a gift from the gods themselves. His own cock hung hard, but ignored for the time being, Kagami was far more interested in putting his lips on any part of Kuroko he could reach.

“Taig-Ah!” Kuroko throws his head back when Kagami sinks his teeth into the skin of his inner thigh. He hiccups and his calf knocks against the back of Kagami’s head when Kagami releases and licks his way further down, towards his goal but slowly, slowly.

“<How could the gods have done this to me? How could they have brought me light once more, only to lose it next sunrise? How cruel, how cruel.>” Kuroko started to plead to the ceiling, speaking a language he hasn’t voiced in over a decade. Kagami squeezes his eyes shut and presses his face into the pale skin of Kuroko’s groin, shuddering at the sounds of home he thought he could never hear again.

“<’Tsuya, I’m here. The gods were kind. So kind, to give me you.>” Voicing the words felt incredible, and his throat relaxed like it had been parched for years. Kagami leans forward and licks Kuroko’s cock from base to tip in a long, slow drag. It makes the legs around his ears shiver, and Kagami found his own hands already grasping and gripping at Kuroko’s ass, hips, and waist, just to touch, just to hold him down.

“<The moment I saw you, you shone so brightly.>” Kuroko pants, fingers winding and then gripping in Kagami’s hair. Looking up the long swath of Kuroko’s body to find his blue eyes staring down in amazement and arousal, Kagami reached out his arm to slither up and touch that beautiful face. His fingers slip over abused lips, Kuroko’s been biting them so they flush large and pink and wet, and then slip over his throat like a claim, not to squeeze but to hold. Kuroko seizes hold of his arm and dances his fingers along the bones of Kagami’s wrist, over the back of his hand and down his knuckles. 

Kagami sucks Kuroko, moving his mouth around his partner’s cock until he squeals in protest, overstimulated, one hand clutching at Kagami’s thick wrist, keeping his hand up there around his neck, and the other digging somewhere in the blankets.

Half hypnotized by his own movements and the way Kuroko was responding, Kagami blinks and draws off to breathe when Kuroko knocks a tiny clay pot against his nose.

It’s oil.

Groaning, because the way Kuroko was licking his lips and spreading his knees told Kagami everything he needed to know, Kagami reached down and strangled his own cock.

“’Tsuya,” Kagami breathes, when Kuroko dips his fingers for him and draws them to his entrance.

“Taiga-kun,” Kuroko breathes back like it’s a secret, and maybe it is, “please, I have never felt…” He bites his lip. Kagami takes the moment to rub him with the oil, then push firmly, massaging the skin and entirely on fire from the fact that Kuroko wanted to be entered by him.

“What?” Kagami urges, one finger slipping in, and he’s careful, he’s gentle, and slow despite the fact that waiting feels like it will kill him worse than a sword in the stomach.

“Perhaps you are my reward also.” Kuroko says, with a light smile that brightens his face up entirely. “I have never felt like this, before, not with anyone.”

“I feel the same.” Kagami replies, stretching forward, leaving his finger inside, just to kiss him. Kuroko frames his face with his hands, rubbing fingertips over his eyebrows and eyelids and down his nose. Kagami can’t help his charmed smile, even as he’s working a second finger into the man, and Kuroko investigates the tips of his teeth too.

Two fingers take longer to stretch, but eventually Kagami has him writhing under his motions, one surprisingly strong but delicate hand reaching down to capture him, and blue eyes like the pits of flames telling him now.

He slicks himself, and nearly bursts right there. Gods be good, if he doesn’t last long enough for Kuroko to climax around him, Kagami’s going to scream. He’s set to enter Kuroko, lifting his hips and holding him with his knees, crouching over him to share air, and Kagami stills like an eclipse over the sun. A heartbeat of a second.  

“I can’t believe…I…” He stutters, dripping oil and pre-slick to mar the blankets forever. Good. Let them know, let everyone know Kagami was getting this, was gifted with this.

A gift from Kuroko himself. Not the Emperor, fuck that guy.

“I want you to take me, Taiga-kun, like this.” Kuroko tells him like he needs to be told. And yet some pacing animal within Kagami is stilled, and he’s centered by those blue eyes, the same eyes that had arrested him so completely there in the Emperor’s chamber. Something mischievous enters his face.

“<Take me to the fairy realm.>” Kuroko says with a straight face, like he wasn’t being folded in half with a cock kissing his hole and Kagami, hulking and large, looming over him like a giant. Gaping, because somehow Kagami was still attracted to this asshole despite his horrible sense of humor, Kagami blinks at him.

“<You’re actually a little shit, aren’t you?>” Kagami whispers like he’s discovered the secrets of the gods, unable to quell his chuckles. Kuroko’s eyes sparkle back at him, essentially his version of grinning that Kagami could tell. He kisses him, forcefully, gratified to feel a puff of air come from his nose and hands grasping in his hair.

“I’ll take you, just watch me…” Kagami whispers hotly, body lighting up as he begins to push forward, entering Kuroko as carefully as he can. By the time he’s nearly completely inside, Kagami is convinced he’s either dead or dying.

There’s no way he can survive this. And it’s not even about the way Kuroko feels around his cock. It’s more the way Kuroko reaches up and puts his arms around his neck. More the way Kuroko makes soft noises, mostly huffs of air or hums. The way his eyes close and his eyebrows pinch in concentration. The way his fingers sift through the hair on the nape of Kagami’s neck, how his lithe but strong arms and shoulders bunch to pull him closer.

How when he opens his eyes, Kagami feels like he’s drowning in the sky.

“<You’re fairy folk, aren’t you?>” Kagami gasps, almost accusing. “<You’ve entrapped me.>” Sweat is sticking his hair down, and Kuroko takes the moment, while Kagami is balls deep inside him, to brush it sweetly off his forehead.

“It’s good.” Kuroko sighs, easing into the pressure and letting his hips move, just a bit.

Kagami groans, fucking forward automatically, before stilling himself. He rubs where his hands are, around hips and on that narrow waist. Kuroko lifts one of his legs and urges Kagami forward with his heel, biting his lip and sighing again when Kagami shifts inside him. Tentatively drawing back so he can push forward again, working his way deeper, making sure Kuroko was stretched, Kagami groans when Kuroko hitches his breath and jerks.

“That’s your spot?” Kagami whispers, hot breath fanning over Kuroko’s lips. He’s hunched and it’s hurting his back but gods be willing, he’d do it forever.

“Y-yes, right there, T-Taig-gah, Ah!” Kuroko answers him, and mid-name Kagami lets himself push forward harder, thrusting properly, and is rewarded with a breathy moan.

Kagami feels like he’s on fire, like he could do anything. He’d take on the Legion if he had to, just to hear that noise one more time.

He starts to fuck his smaller lover the right way, every nerve in his body hunting down more and more of Kuroko’s sounds, his little breaths, his moans, the way he twitches when Kagami’s got a good angle. He’s sweating, shining a beautiful gold in the low lamp light, bewitching Kagami with the white stretch of his form.

“Taiga, more.” Kuroko asks of him, politely. Well, Kagami’s not fucking him well enough if he’s still being polite.

He fucks in a surprise quick thrust, knocking Kuroko up the bedding a little. He gasps, surprised, and Kagami can’t help his grin. Kuroko smiles back, reaching for him, urging him closer, thighs widening even more to hold Kagami perfectly between them. And Kuroko strains, leaning up to kiss Kagami’s chin even while being fucked through the blankets, the oil making a mess between their bodies. His blue eyes are bottomless, and while they flick over Kagami even down to where they connect in the most intimate way, they always return to Kagami’s own eyes, capturing him once more. Kuroko throws his head back, moaning with a good thrust, and there’s a flash of his teeth as he smiles, happy in this moment, happy to be with Kagami.

Kagami has the terrifying thought that he’ll never get to see Kuroko again. Which should be concerning, because he met this man a handful of hours ago.

He falls forward, kissing him messily, and fucking him with two powerful thrusts before the clutch of Kuroko’s body takes his breath away. He pushes instead, churning his cock into Kuroko like if he tries hard enough, he’ll fuck a space that will remain in Kuroko forever. 

Hands scrabble at his head, through his hair. Kuroko’s voice trails in his ears, falling like a pearl necklace around his neck.

“Tsuya, Tetsuya, fuck, you’re too gorgeous.” Kagami pants, gritting his teeth.

“Harder…Harder—” Kuroko chokes out, digging his blunt nails into the skin of Kagami’s shoulders, voice louder than Kagami has heard him yet. He’s demanding, he’s commanding, he’s expecting the world of Kagami and not letting him give anything less than everything.

“Fuck, fuck, Tet-Tsuya,” Kagami snarls, gritting his teeth and shuffling his knees for one instant to get better leverage, one arm wrapping around Kuroko’s shoulders to pin him and buried his face into Kuroko’s hair, finally fucking him as hard as he possibly can, tugging him downwards each time to meet his thrusts. Kuroko grunts out air each time Kagami bottoms out, hips slapping quick to the back of thin thighs and ass with a dirty noise that filled the chamber.

Absently, perhaps a little hysterically, Kagami wonders if there’s guards outside the door, and if they can hear this. If in some remote part of the palace, a Miracle or all five are being woken to the knowledge that Kagami was defiling their favorite, their little invisible boy, filling him to the brim with his cock and making him cry with it. He expects a spear in his spine at any moment, and that makes fucking Kuroko until he comes apart around him of paramount importance.

Kagami licks at the tears on Kuroko’s overwhelmed cheeks, gripping the side of his face with one large hand.

“Tai-Taiga,” Kuroko stutters, hands starting to pull on him urgently. Kagami considered it a privilege, no a fucking honor to be able to see Kuroko’s face so expressive, his eyes wide with shocked pleasure, cheeks pink, hair mussed, and Kagami’s thumb creeping into the corner of his open, panting mouth, welcomed with a quick flick of a clever tongue.

“That’s right, Tetsuya,” Kagami growls, suddenly focused, suddenly barely aware of his own pleasure, fucking deeper, sweeping his hips to hit that spot within his littler lover every, single, time, his very sense of purpose reduced to making Kuroko climax on his cock. The one hand on Kuroko’s face regretfully left, trailing down Kuroko’s side to slip over his hip, and grasp his red, weeping cock. There’s barely room for a few tugs, before Kagami is treated to the sight of Kuroko coming undone, driven mad by Kagami and his touch.

Kuroko seizes up, ankles knocking behind Kagami’s back, spine arching, and comes with a silent gasp, air frozen in his lungs and eyes almost rolling with it, disbelieving. Smug certainty quietly makes a home in the dark parts of Kagami’s soul, he feels powerful, he feels like the only man to ever make Kuroko come this hard, this powerful. Should Kagami die in moments, perhaps with a Miracle’s spear in his back, he would die happy just to know that Kuroko would never feel like this again, not the way Kagami makes him feel.

Then Kuroko is gasping in air, clenching his legs tight to drive Kagami into him harder, shivering, leaving scratches in his back, blue eyes capturing him once more, and Kagami is falling into orgasm unprepared.

“Fu-ck-k,” he chokes out, eyes squeezing shut as his body forces all it’s attention towards jetting out come in huge bursts, as far into Kuroko as it can reach. He’ll be leaking. And that fills Kagami with a savage sort of satisfaction.

Kuroko lets out a little moan, obviously feeling the wetter slide from where Kagami is still pumping, slower, and slower, until he remains deep and lets his head fall forward to Kuroko’s sweaty shoulder.

Clever fingers work up and down his back, drawing Kagami to the real world slowly. He wonders if an orgasm has ever left his fingers tingling like this or felt such a deep satiation before being within another, or in giving pleasure to another person.

Kuroko slips his hand over his head, through his hair, and Kagami lets his legs down, massaging the muscles that must ache from being pressed apart for so long. Leaving heavy, slow kisses everywhere he went, Kagami drew himself carefully from Kuroko’s hole, slipping a finger over it, looking for hurts he might have caused. It was red, sweltering with heat, and puffy, but no harm that he could detect. And Kagami’s come leaving a shine much different from the oil.

Kuroko urges him up, and Kagami goes, drunk with it, and kisses him back when lips find his. Clinging, Kuroko follows when Kagami collapses to the side, and Kagami welcomes his weight, cuddling him close and making sure every inch of them was touching, despite the tacky feeling of sweat. They’re wordless, even the eloquent shadow, and perhaps that was alright.

A kiss lingers on his lips, dripping onto his cheek, dragging down to his chin and his neck, and Kuroko lets his head rest heavily on his shoulder. His fingers move, absently, but he’s focusing on breathing, and Kagami merely puts his hands on him, holding him close, and closing his eyes to relish it.

Several hours later, the sun was beginning to lighten the sky they could see through the high, open windows. As the chamber brightens, they lose more time. Less than a day together before the real world breaks down the door.

Kagami’s fingers trailed over Kuroko’s bare hip, touching him like he was made of either glass, or diamond. Kuroko trembled, and Kagami frowns at it, was he cold? Before he can grab the blankets and somehow cocoon Kuroko within them, the blue haired man slips his leg over Kagami’s hip and climbs atop him, eyes dark with promise.

Their second coupling is slower, gentler, but somehow just as meaningful. Holding Kuroko’s hips, Kagami can barely control himself, staring up at this vision of a man and giving him all that parts of his heart left.

When he comes, Kuroko flings his head back, and Kagami can climax with the knowledge of his pleasure laden smile afterwards, directed down at him like he was the special one.

At the end of it, Kuroko collapses onto his chest. They kiss for long minutes, eyebrows furrowing at the absent feeling that this might be the last time. Eventually, Kagami rises to eat the rest of the food on the table, again nudging food towards Kuroko and by the time midday rolls around, Kagami has no desire to do anything more than lay next to Kuroko and soak him in.

“Run away with me.” Kagami says with a sad smile, knowing every word he was saying was impossible and a lie. “We can live in our home country again. Raise some sheep. Keep a homestead. Be thankful for the rain.” It’s a beautiful image, and one he will never live to see, but perhaps he could dream of it if he was lucky.

Kuroko doesn’t give him a yes, and Kagami doesn’t mind. Instead, the blue haired man leans up on his elbow to hover over Kagami’s face, giving him a light, gentle smile and a lighter kiss on his brow. Kagami sighs.

“Yeah, I know.” He lets his hand grope over Kuroko’s behind, touching what he can touch until he’s made to stop. “It’s likely I’ll be killed today, you know. You could give me a going away present.” It’s in bad taste, but Kuroko only tilts his head, eyeing him.

“No, I won’t let that happen. Despite themselves, they don’t really want to make me upset. And killing Kagami-kun will make me very, very upset.”

“Back to Kagami-kun, huh?” Kagami muses, middle finger investigating the wet mess between cheeks. Kuroko is probably sore, but he doesn’t smack him away. He shivers, instead, and that’s attractive. “I can’t really call you Tetsu in front of them, that Aomine bastard will slice my throat before I can blink.”

“Kagami-kun can beat Aomine-kun, I believe in him.” Kuroko tells him like he’s telling a stranger, using that odd formal voice once more. Was this a sign Kagami had to stop touching him? Drawing his fingers back to himself, Kagami is pleasantly rewarded when Kuroko frowns at him disapprovingly, moving to rest against him, cheek on shoulder, arm and leg thrown across his middle, one hand pushing Kagami’s back to where it rested on his ass. Kagami appreciated clear communication.

“Tsuya.” Kagami whispers. “I’ll call you Tsuya where they can’t hear. That’s for you. Not for those tyrannical bastards.”

“Yes.” Kuroko leaves a kiss on his shoulder, and Kagami wants to scar it into his skin.

“I can’t help but have hope for them. They could be so much better than they are. I cannot give up.” Kuroko tells him, and he’s resolute, unstoppable, incredible. Kagami is exhausted, both from yesterday’s fights but also from fucking Kuroko the way he likes, twice, but even he feels inspired. He doesn’t want to be, because fuck those guys, but Kuroko looks beautiful like this, solemn and proud and filled with hope.

“Ugh,” Kagami grumbles, because he hates the sun for rising, “I don’t suppose they just need a good kick in the ass?” He doesn’t truly believe it, the Miracles are assholes and cruel monsters, is there really anything to save within them?

“Well…” Kuroko pushes his bottom lip out in thought, raising his eyebrows and soulfully looking up at Kagami like he’s holding the last slice of cake. He’s cajoling the way that Kuroko can. It would only be better if he batted his eyelashes. Kagami looks down at him, comfortably nestled into his shoulder, naked and perfect, and despairs.

“There’s no way, absolutely not.” He starts to protest, and Kuroko somehow becomes even more cute. “I said no!”

Kuroko, obviously, got his way.