They ran for what felt like days.
Sunlight bled into dusk and then darkness, and they grew more and more exhausted until this only thing that kept them going was fear and desperation. Eventually, when everyone was on the verge of collapse, their leader declared that it was finally safe enough to rest.
“Sorry for pushing you all so hard,” Kuroo said with a strained smile. The air was chilly, and the trees in the forest were so tall they nearly blocked the moonlight from the sky above. “Had to be sure they wouldn’t catch us.”
“Duh. You don’t need to apologize for that,” Yaku replied as he knelt on the ground and gently wiped at a streak of dried blood on Inuoka’s face. The younger man winced at the touch; the skin under the healer’s cloth was purple-green and swollen around a deep, ugly cut on the side of his forehead. “You didn’t have a choice, right? You’re just making sure we’re safe. Why would we get pissed about that?” He tucked the dirty fabric into his belt, and brought his fingers back up to Inuoka’s wound.
The entire group watched, completely mesmerized, as his hand began to glow with a soft blue light. Inuoka closed his eyes and sighed happily; the stress eased out of his shoulders as the wound began to fade, until it vanished like it had never been there at all.
“Thank you, Yaku-san!” he said with a bright smile. “I feel a lot better now!”
“Yes, isn’t Yaku-san the best?!” Lev agreed loudly, his eyes sparkling with awe and adoration.
“Seriously, shut up,” Yaku grumbled, “or we’re gonna have to start running if we get caught again.”
Kuroo smiled fondly before turning away from them. “I’m gonna scout ahead, and see if it’s safe. Get some rest while I look around, and if it’s clear, we can make camp when I get back.” He nodded towards Yaku. “Work on healing everyone up as much as you can. Kenma, get us some more potions ready, okay? I’ll see if there’s any herbs around that you might need. Yamamoto, you’re in charge of handing out rations.”
“Be careful,” Kenma said quietly in response. Kuroo just grinned, and gave him a playful salute before vanishing into the night.
Letting the change overtake him felt as natural as breathing.
Coils of magic shimmered faintly in the air, and he felt a tingle rush through his entire body as he shifted. Suddenly, his senses were much sharper, and the night no longer seemed quite so dark as his eyes took in his surroundings.
Kuroo ran forward through the forest on four legs, so quiet that he was all but impossible to detect. Every sound was amplified, sharp to his now-feline ears as he continued scouting, determined to make sure that his friends, his family -- the Nekoma clan -- were safe if they decided to make camp that night.
It was far from the best time to lose focus, yet he still couldn’t help but think about the reason they were on the run again -- they had been found at their last camp by unfriendly townsfolk. They were always found, if they stayed in one place for too long.
And the townsfolk were always unfriendly.
They’d stayed in one spot for just a little too long, desperate to collect some herbs and gems for Kenma’s potions, necessary to treat an illness that had been stifling Yaku’s magical ability for nearly a week. And while they’d gotten the supplies they sought, they also paid the price -- a sudden, hasty escape, with nowhere to go and fresh injuries to show for their trouble. It was nothing particularly new to them, but in Kuroo’s mind, that only made it even worse.
He wanted to provide safety for them, real happiness and security -- things they all more than deserved. But people in general, regardless of where they went, didn’t feel the same way at all --
Because they were shapeshifters.
Shapeshifters... scorned and reviled almost everywhere they’d gone, even though they meant no harm at all. It wasn’t fair, and it made Kuroo angry, more often than not. But there was nothing he could do about it, aside from leading them in the hopes that one day, maybe their luck would change.
The darkness of the forest blurred around him as he continued on, but then he abruptly stopped to sniff the air. It wasn’t just wildlife and plants anymore, but something else familiar and unsettling... iron, cotton...
There was a town nearby -- Kuroo was absolutely sure of it. Damn, he thought uneasily, just our luck, huh? And yet, there was something different in the scent on the wind, too, something he couldn’t quite place. It piqued his curiosity, and despite repeated bad encounters with the less magical side of humanity, he started moving again...
Right towards the town he knew was waiting nearby.
Sawamura Daichi was tired.
“Long day” was a huge understatement for what he’d experienced in the last twenty four hours. The captain of Karasuno’s knights was exhausted, and for good reason. Two of the younger trainees had spent half of their shift arguing over nothing important, several of their swords had been broken in a terrible moment of showmanship (‘Tanaka, do not juggle the swords!’ was a warning that sadly went ignored), and worst of all... his best friend was really, really sick.
Suga, the vice captain of the knights, had been absent all day, and it wasn’t until Daichi found him after the sun had set that he realized just how ill he had fallen. Suga had been fast asleep, so Daichi didn’t wake him, but even peeking into his bedroom door, he could tell from a distance that the other man’s skin was unnaturally pale and ashen, like something had drained the life out of him.
Sure would be nice if our healers weren’t out of town right now, he thought unhappily as he took off his boots. But it’s probably fine. Just a cold. Nothing magical about his illness at all, he reassured himself weakly. I’m sure the unnaturally green tinge to his skin is just... a thing that happens sometimes. He placed his shoes next to his bed, and stretched as he turned towards his open window--
And a spike of sudden adrenaline coursed through his veins as he unsheathed his sword.
I definitely didn’t leave that open this morning, he thought as he looked around the room carefully, because it’s way too cold right now. And the cleaning staff was off today, so it wasn’t them... So then who...?
Suddenly, he heard a quiet, barely audible thump, and a blur of movement in the corner of his eye caught his attention. Instinct took over, and his blade cut through the air in a smooth, graceful arc --
And quite suddenly, he found himself staring into a pair of beautiful amber eyes.
A sleek black cat balanced effortlessly on the flat of his sword, and almost seemed to smile at him as he stared in obvious surprise and confusion. The knight captain saw that it was holding a small stick of medicinal herbs in its mouth -- herbs that had been at Daichi’s desk. But the cat’s sense of amusement seemed to vanish in an instant as understanding dawned on Daichi’s face.
Kuroo wasted no time, and immediately jumped off of his sword and back to the window. Daichi was right behind him, reaching forward, helpless to match the shapeshifter’s speed in his feline form. “Wait!” Daichi called. “Just--”
But Kuroo was already gone, lost to the inky darkness of the night. For a long, long moment, Daichi stared after him, his sword too heavy in his cold and clammy hands.
“A shapeshifter,” Daichi whispered to himself. He glanced back at his desk, where half of his medicinal herbs were gone -- but in their place was a small gemstone and a note.
Slowly, he sheathed his sword and stepped over to pick up the small, slightly crumpled paper into his hands. In quickly scrawled writing, there was a short, simple message --
Sorry for taking some of your herbs. We needed them badly. Here’s a rare, uncut ruby from the West for your trouble.
He took the gem into his hands, and held it between his fingers as he looked back out of the window once more.
What the hell is a cat shapeshifter doing in Karasuno? Why was he in my room?
And why did he need those herbs...?
“I was spotted,” Kuroo admitted.
Kenma gave him a flat look. “Which means there’s a town, I’m assuming.”
“Yup. Small, though. Really small and cozy. Something’s weird about it. Uh, but I’m pretty sure I was in the knight captain’s room. I saw a document addressed to him on his desk.”
“You have the worst luck in the world,” Yaku grumbled from his spot on the ground.
Kuroo grinned. “Hey, don’t worry about it. It’s not all bad. Check this out.” He reached into a pocket on his cloak, and held out the herbs he’d swiped from Daichi’s desk. “Elflight. We’ve been looking for this for ages to get rid of the silencing hex that one asshole villager cast on Fukunaga a few months ago, remember?”
“Not like he ever talks away!” Lev laughed. He yelped as Yaku elbowed him in the side. “Yaku-san, that’s mean,” he pouted.
Kenma took the bright green herbs from Kuroo’s open hand and immediately reached for his small bag of supplies. “I’ll start brewing a potion,” he mumbled. “But it’ll be easier if we don’t have to leave right away... I hate brewing stuff while we’re moving.”
Kuroo’s smile was bright with warmth. “See, that’s the thing. I don’t think we’ll have to... probably. Well, at least not right away.”
“What makes you think that?” Inuoka asked curiously.
Kuroo put his arms behind his head, and looked up at the canopy of trees. “Well, you know how I was spotted? Not only that, but I’m almost positive that knight knew that I’m a shapeshifter. But he didn’t seem mad. Actually, he asked me to wait when I made a run for it... like he wanted to talk, or something.”
“Don’t do anything stupid,” Yaku warned.
Kuroo grinned. “Don’t worry, dad. I’ll be careful. But I think that we can make camp here for at least a little while. And I can keep snooping around the town for supplies.”
Kenma sighed as he carefully crushed the elflight herbs and put them into a small clay bowl with lavender. “Just don’t get into trouble, Kuro.”
Kuroo’s smile was warm and just a little cocky. “Never fear, Kenma. I know what I’m doing.”
The next morning, Suga was still asleep when Daichi checked on him.
His skin had grown ashen, and dark circles sat under his eyes like bruises despite how much he’d slept. The green tinge was still on his cheeks, and his breathing was a little too shallow for Daichi’s comfort. The pillow beneath him was visibly damp with sweat, despite how cool the air was in his room, and something, a sense of dread, seemed to hang in the air, oppressive and unnerving.
Something’s really wrong, he thought as he grabbed a small cloth from Suga’s bathroom and dampened it in the sink. He took a small gemstone from the tub, and rubbed it over the fabric; the gem glowed a faint blue, and suddenly the cloth was much cooler to the touch.
He quietly walked back to the bed where Suga was sleeping, and gently placed the cloth on the sleeping knight’s forehead. Just hang in there, Suga. Shimizu and Yachi should be back in a few days...
He left the room to get breakfast, promising himself that Suga was fine, and he was just worrying too much.
He figured if he told himself enough, maybe he’d start to believe it.
Kuroo figured the small, cozy castle he’d met the knight in the previous day was a good place to return.
After all, aside from the handsome stranger he’d seen, maybe there were more good resources like the elflight lying around for the taking. Worth a look, right?
He balanced on one of the castle’s windows, and jumped inside the room when he felt his skin crawl. A curse? Something here is definitely... His eyes landed on the bed nearby, and he felt his whiskers curl at the sight of the man sleeping quietly.
Carefully, he stalked over and sniffed the air, and got a good look at the man’s face. Yep. Definitely cursed. If he’s a knight, maybe he got hexed on a mission or something... He took careful note of the color of his skin, his shallow breathing, and the cold sweat along his brow. Hm. Kenma will probably know more about it--
He heard footsteps beyond the door, and moved to hide beneath the bed. A familiar scent washed over him as someone walked inside, and he realized --
It’s the knight captain.
Daichi was quiet as he walked up to the bed and checked on the still, sickly man lying under the blankets. “Still out?” he asked quietly. “It’s been more than half a day, Suga... Just hang in there, okay? I know something’s wrong, but Shimizu and Yachi... they’ll be back in a few more days. Just hold on.”
He walked around a little to change the cloth on Suga’s head, and left as quietly as he’d come.
That guy doesn’t have a few more days, Kuroo thought to himself as he left his hiding spot to peer at Suga from the windowsill. Well... this captain seems like a decent guy. Let’s see what we can do.
“You want to help strangers,” Kenma repeated, his voice flat but edged with the slightest hint of disbelief.
“Look, this captain guy is pretty all right,” Kuroo said a little defensively. “C’mon, Kenma. Make him some potion and I’ll leave it there with a note.”
Kenma reached for his supplies. “He might not even give it to the guy,” he grumbled, “if he knows you’re a shapeshifter.”
“Doesn’t hurt to try,” Yaku shrugged. “If Kuroo’s right about him, maybe it’ll win us some favor, right?”
Kenma sighed. “From what you described, it sounds like he was hit with a leeching curse. Maybe from disturbing an old relic or something... doesn’t matter. Easy enough to fix,” he mumbled.
“How soon can you finish?” Kuroo asked, watching curiously as Kenma began to mix his ingredients.
“Give me twenty minutes,” he replied, and with that, Kuroo sat down to admire his handiwork.
Kuroo peeked in through Daichi’s window, and carefully opened it before jumping in when he saw the coast was clear.
It only took a moment to transform back into his human self, and remove the small knapsack from his shoulder. He opened it and carefully took out a small glass bottle, filled almost to the top with a softly glowing liquid that looked almost like an opal.
He placed it on the nearby desk, and tucked a small piece of paper under it, when suddenly, he heard the sound of the door opening.
Instinctual panic coursed through him the second that Daichi walked in and met his eyes, and before he could even think about it, Kuroo shifted back to his cat form right in front of him and jumped for the window.
“Hey, wait a second! I just want to talk--!”
But the Nekoma leader was already gone, and Daichi was alone once more.
He stared after him for a moment before turning to his desk, peering curiously at the potion that Kuroo had left there. He picked up the note and unfolded it, and began to read with a slowly growing smile.
Give this to your sick friend. Make him take two mouthfuls tonight, then one more mouthful every morning and evening until the potion is gone. He should be okay within a few days.
Daichi picked up the potion carefully, and watched the color shimmer in the milky liquid with a sense of wonder. Cat shapeshifters, huh? I wonder if he’ll come back again.
And with that, he set off towards Suga’s room with the potion in hand, and no hesitation whatsoever.
Almost immediately, some of Suga’s normal color had come back, and he looked noticeably less green and sickly.
Daichi was all smiles as he put the cork back in the potion bottle and left it on his bedside table. He got a new damp cloth for Suga’s head, and brushed the hair out of his eyes before drawing the curtains shut and leaving to go back to his room.
That shapeshifter... he really helped us out, he thought as he walked down the hallway. Even though he doesn’t know us... I have to pay him back, somehow. He took some elflight last time... I wonder if he needs more? He must be part of a clan... maybe they’re running low on some supplies? His thoughts were a maelstrom even as he shut the door of his room behind him, and sat down on his soft bed, suddenly quite exhausted.
He stared out at the sky, deep orange with the oncoming dusk, and smiled as a crow flew past his still-open window.
I have to thank him properly.
“Did he give it to his friend?!” Lev asked eagerly as soon as Kuroo made it back to their makeshift camp.
Kuroo rolled his eyes. “Like I stuck around to find out. Please. I did snag some more herbs from a small alchemist shop, though. Got some crushed quartz, too. Left ‘em a little obsidian charm.”
“I can tell you’re still worried,” Kenma said drily as Kuroo dropped the pouch of materials in front of him. “Are you going to check on him again tomorrow?”
“Shut up, and yes,” Kuroo laughed as he sat down next to his best friend. “Hey, Yamamoto, you and Shibayama should go catch us some dinner in the river nearby. I’ll start a fire.”
“Like hell you will, after you just spent all day running around. Sit down and let me do it,” Yaku said, leaving no room for argument. He pulled his cloak tight around his shoulders as he reached into his bag for flint and tinder, and dutifully ignored the way Lev watched him with eager eyes.
Kuroo smiled and stretched out on the ground, using the hood of his own tattered cloak as a makeshift pillow. Despite all the trouble they’d been in recently, he found that he wasn’t all that upset about it anymore.
Karasuno was an interesting town, with even more interesting people.
The next morning, Suga was awake when Daichi went into his room.
“...Daichi?” he asked blearily. “Oh! What time is it? Did I miss training? I’m sorry, I wasn’t feeling well and must’ve overslept--”
He paused when he saw Daichi’s rueful smile. “You’ve been asleep for a day and a half, Suga. I think you got hit with a curse when you dug that weird clay tablet out of Takeda-san’s flower garden for him.”
“A day and a half? Oh my god,” he groaned. “Ugh, I still feel terrible...”
“Here.” He plucked the potion from his nightstand, and uncorked the bottle before holding it out. “Drink a little of this. I gave you some last night, too, and you already look a lot better.”
“Oh! Thanks, Daichi.” He took it with no complaint, and wrinkled his nose a bit as he swallowed a mouthful and handed the vial back. “Tastes like really sweet milk. Where’d you get it? Aren’t Shimizu and Yachi-chan still gone?”
Daichi’s hesitation was obvious, and even in his dazed state, Suga didn’t miss it. “Um... a friend of mine gave it to me. I’ll explain... later. Some other time,” he stammered. “I’ll go get you some porridge for breakfast, okay? Just sit tight and rest up until you’re back to full health.”
“Well, if you insist. Thanks, Doctor Daichi,” Suga teased.
Daichi snorted, and a moment later, he was gone.
From the windowsill, a set of brilliant amber eyes watched the scene unfold, and seemed to twinkle with happiness.
Daichi headed straight for the alchemy room, and spent the better part of ten minutes rummaging around several of the cabinets.
I’m pretty sure he saved Suga’s life. That deserves more than just some plants he could find anywhere around the town, he thought as he peered into several labelled bottles. Hm, maybe this’ll be useful to him...
Before long, he had a small bag full of rare things they’d had excess of; sprigs of rare herbs and bits of ore and gems, some of Shimizu’s special healing ointment, dried flowers and pieces of quartz, and even a vial of blessed water.
This should be good, he thought happily. He whistled a tune to himself as he made his way back to the room, and placed the bag on his desk. For a moment, he paused in consideration, and then grabbed a spare piece of parchment and a quill to scrawl a hasty note. He left it tucked under the bag, then checked to make sure his window was unlocked before left to lead the knights’ training for the day.
Kuroo hadn’t managed to find too much around the town, but he had snagged a few loaves of fresh bread and several meat pies from a large bakery near the central square. They were wrapped up tight and safe in his bag as he stalked through the back alleys towards the castle that was quickly becoming familiar to him, and with a few easy jumps, he found himself on the knight captain’s windowsill once more.
But this time, it was wide open, and he was pretty sure it must’ve been on purpose. He sniffed the air curiously and stepped down into the room, and almost immediately noticed the little bag on the desk.
He took a look around, and after deciding it was safe, shifted back to his human form in a small gust of magic. He stretched his arms over his head and let his back crack pleasantly, then walked over to the desk to inspect what had caught his eye.
He peered at the bag, and then the note beneath it, and slipped the parchment from the table so he could read what was written there -- and suddenly, what started as a small smile quickly grew into a huge grin.
Hey. Um, I’m guessing you’ll come back... at least, I hope you’re the same shapeshifter that’s been in the castle the last couple days. That potion you left probably saved my best friend’s life, and I’m really grateful. Since you needed herbs, and I figure you must’ve been traveling a lot recently, I got some stuff from our stores that you might find useful. Let me know if you need anything else in particular, and I’ll see what I can do.
Thanks again, kind stranger.
“Sawamura,” Kuroo whispered to himself. His dark eyes crinkled with the force of his smile as he tucked the note safely into a pouch on his belt, and opened the small bag to see what Daichi had gathered for him. His joy only grew larger as he realized how useful it was, and how much of it were things the clan had been missing for months.
He tucked it inside his own bag alongside the food he’d snatched, and changed back to his cat form in mid-stride as he headed back towards the open window.
As he gracefully ran along the streets of the small town and back towards their camp in the forest, he could hardly contain the small seed of hope in his heart that had suddenly begun to blossom.
Maybe we can actually stick around for a while, if the rest of the town is as tolerant as Sawamura.
“Kuroo, this is dangerous,” Yaku scolded. “I’m not gonna tell you what to do, but try not to fall into a lethal trap or anything, okay?”
“C’mon, give me a break. It’s fine.” He reclined on a log near the small fire they had in the middle of their tiny camp as Kenma examined every item in the bag Sawamura had left for him. “I mean, look at all this stuff he left for us. Good, right?”
“It is really good,” Kenma admitted quietly. “Some of these are materials I’ve been missing for months now...”
Inuoka grinned and leaned forward. “Didn’t you say he was hot, too?”
Kuroo flushed a little. “I was just stating a fact, okay?”
“Leave it to Kuroo to fall in love with a non-magical stranger,” Yaku groaned.
“Whoa, whoa whoa whoa, who said anything about falling in love?” Kuroo objected. “Get off my case, Yaku. He’s just being nice, and I appreciate that, all right?”
“Just remember,” Kenma said sternly, his voice still low and barely audible, “that we’re always on the run for a reason.”
Kuroo’s jaw clenched. Like I could forget all our years of pain and suffering. Yeah, right. “I know,” he said, “and I’ll keep you all from harm as much as I can. Like I’ve always done.”
A crow flew overhead, and Kenma glanced at it with a curious expression before he turned back to his work wordlessly, and before long, the daylight bled away into dusk.
Another token of appreciation wouldn’t hurt, right?
Kuroo repeated the thought to himself a few times, and it was frighteningly easy to justify going back to Sawamura’s room yet again. I’ll just leave him a gift of thanks... for his generosity, he thought. And check on his friend, if I can. No harm in that, right? I’ll be careful.
He hopped through the now-familiar, open window with ease and grace, equal parts relieved and disappointed that Sawamura was nowhere to be seen. He shifted back into his human form with a sigh, and left a small pouch on his desk with a smile before changing back into his feline form and leaving through the window.
A quick circle around the perimeter brought him to another room, and through the glass, his eyes sparkled with satisfaction as he saw Suga sitting in bed with a book, looking much healthier than he had before. Kenma’s potion did the trick. Good. He shook his head, and sighed as he jumped from the windowsill down to the ground.
Maybe I’m being foolish, he thought wryly. But Sawamura’s a hell of a charmer.
Daichi was only a little surprised when he saw a small bag in the center of his desk.
He was already smiling as he walked over and opened it, and the expression flooded with warmth as he picked out several small, carefully wrapped candies and a little note.
One of our clan members is a pretty good cook, and a couple of us really like sweets... maybe you do too. Have a good night, Sawamura.
Daichi grinned and popped one of the candies in his mouth, pleased at the sweet cinnamon taste on his tongue. I’ve gotta talk to this guy face to face at some point, instead of through notes and gifts, he thought as he sat on his bed and stretched out. Maybe I can catch him on my day off...
And that was when he got an idea.
Yeah... Yeah, that’ll probably work. I don’t have anything to do tomorrow, so I’ll try it then. He laughed to himself as he stared up at the canopy of his bed. Suga would laugh himself silly if he knew about all of this... but knowing him, he’ll find out before too long. Well, he’s teased me for worse...
Before long, he’d dozed off without meaning to, his dreams full of amber cat eyes and a crooked smile.
Kuroo bounded up to Daichi’s windowsill like he’d done numerous times before, cocky and confident as he stepped down into the room and shifted to his human form.
He didn’t even bother to glance around as he reached down to his belt for a small bag -- another gift for the knight captain that he’d been so suddenly charmed by. I’m sure he’ll like these--
Kuroo spun around, startled and defensive as Daichi stepped out of the shadows in the corner of the room. Daichi immediately put his hands up in a placating gesture, but took several steps closer. “Whoa, easy. I just wanna talk to you, is all. Didn’t mean to scare you.”
“More like terrified, but all right. Uh... hi?” Kuroo said awkwardly, as he tossed the small bag he was holding onto Daichi’s desk. “That’s another gift. Don’t look at it until I leave, I’ll get embarrassed, and I have an image to maintain.”
Daichi smiled, and raised an eyebrow as he stopped, and crossed his arms. “An image, huh?”
“Well, obviously,” he replied with a grin and a playful wink. “I’m a smooth, debonair stranger, mysterious and suave, not to mention devastatingly handsome, right?”
“Not so smooth, since this is the second time I’ve caught you off guard,” Daichi smirked.
Kuroo put a hand on his hips and sighed. “Well, aren’t you a knight captain, or something? Nobody else has caught me, so give me some credit -- hey, wait a minute. You didn’t say I wasn’t any of those other things,” he smiled. “Like devastatingly handsome.”
His attempt at flirting just made Daichi seem amused. “Well, why would I? You are pretty easy on the eyes.”
Evidently, Kuroo had expected Daichi to get flustered, instead of effortlessly flirting back -- his cheeks turned a little rosy, and he scratched the back of his head with an awkward laugh. “Oh, uh -- thanks, Sawamura. You too.”
“If you’re gonna talk sweet and bring me presents like you’re courting me, shouldn’t you at least tell me your name?” Daichi asked. “So that I don’t have to think of you as ‘the hot, mysterious cat shapeshifter’.”
“Hot-- wow. I’m Kuroo, and you’re smoother than I thought you’d be,” he grinned, cheeks still flushed. “So, Sawamura, do you hit on every random shapeshifter that shows up in your room?”
“You’re the first,” Daichi laughed, “to show up, or that I’ve flirted with.”
Kuroo’s expression got a little more serious then, and he leaned against the wall and crossed his arms, his eyes never leaving Daichi’s. “So, my next question is: why haven’t you attacked me? Why haven’t you tried hunting my people down?”
Daichi’s face fell, but he let his arms fall to his sides as he stepped closer once again. “Because I don’t think you’re dangerous, and as long as you don’t want to hurt us, I have no desire to hurt you either. Makes sense, right?”
“Yeah, sure.” Kuroo laughed, but there was no mirth in it. “But that’s never been good enough for anyone else. So what makes you so different, Sawamura? What if someone else in this town finds out about us? Are we gonna find a bunch of villagers with torches and swords at our camp in the middle of the night?”
Daichi looked strained. “No. Nobody in Karasuno is going to come after your clan, I can guarantee it.”
“Then why do you look so upset?” Kuroo shot back.
Daichi looked him right in the eyes, and was so close that Kuroo feel his warm breath ghosting against his face. “Because I can tell it’s happened to you before.”
Kuroo was visibly stunned, and tried to press himself closer to the wall. “Why should that matter to you?”
“Look,” Daichi said simply. He took another step forward, and placed one hand on the wall beside Kuroo’s head. “I don’t care if you’re a shapeshifter or not. You don’t deserve to be put through hell just because you can turn into a cat.”
“You make it sound so simple,” Kuroo laughed, equal parts surprised and pleased.
“Because it is,” Daichi insisted.
Kuroo was quiet for a moment as he thought about everything the captain had said, and took the opportunity to study his features. “You’re full of surprises.”
“You have to be, when you’re training a bunch of rowdy teenagers,” he chuckled. “Look, I know it’s easier said than done, but you don’t have to worry about me, or anyone else around here. All right? Come visit me when you can, and stop trying to run away before I get a chance to actually talk to you.”
A genuine, warm smile curved at the edges of Kuroo’s lips. “Are you still flirting with me, Sawamura? You barely even know me.”
Daichi laughed. “I’m being welcoming, but I’d like to get to know you better so I feel less weird about the flirting. Since I do plan to continue, unless you turn out to be less of a charming dork than you actually seem to be.”
Kuroo’s blush spilled across his nose and all the way to the tops of his ears. “Charming... dork? Hey, wait--”
Daichi’s laughter was warm, and the sound made Kuroo’s stomach flutter with delight. “It’s a compliment. Tell me, are there any other supplies you need or want? Maybe I can get them for you.”
“You’re so helpful,” Kuroo grinned. “Well... any spare metals you have would be nice. Our weapons are in pretty bad shape. Arrows... Fresh fruit. We haven’t had that in a while.”
“I’ll see what I can do,” Daichi assured him. “Come back tomorrow, around the same time? And stick around for a while. I’d ask you to stay now, but I’m sure your people would get worried if you were gone for too long, right?”
“And so thoughtful, too,” Kuroo chuckled. “Sounds good, Sawamura. Is there anything you’d like me to bring for you?”
Daichi shook his head as he leaned back, and Kuroo found that he almost irrationally missed the warmth of the other man’s hand beside his head. “Just some of your time. I really want to talk with you more.”
“You make it impossible to refuse,” Kuroo said with another playful wink. “See you tomorrow, then.”
He reached forward suddenly, and touched Daichi on the tip of his nose. “Boop.” With a lazy salute, a sudden swirl of magic engulfed him. Daichi watched as the sleek cat jumped back up to the window and disappeared. Curiosity piqued, he moved over to his desk to see what Kuroo had left for him this time -- a bag of more candies, along with a little note.
I had him make these just for you, this time. Thanks for not, well, trying to kill me or anything.
Daichi unwrapped one of the candies and popped it in his mouth, humming happily at the warm caramel flavor. I’ll have to get him something special. I wonder if I can win his trust? He sat in his chair, and tapped thoughtfully at his chin. It feels strange to admit, but... he already has mine.
Daichi was piling ripened peaches into a sack alongside several apples when he was struck with an idea.
I can carve! I’ll make him a bracelet! He smiled to himself as he filled the bag with more food. It has to be meaningful, though. Maybe... I could ask Shimizu about certain stones... He didn’t even bring the sack of fruits back to his room; instead, he went straight to the alchemy ward, where Shimizu and her assistant, Yachi, were working on making a new batch of healing salve.
“Hey, sorry to barge in,” Daichi greeted sheepishly. “I need some advice, and maybe some supplies.”
“Sure,” Shimizu replied as she tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. “What is it?”
“I’m making a bracelet for someone. Or... I want to, anyway. I was hoping you could give me some ideas for what stones to use. Something black, maybe?”
She tapped at her chin thoughtfully. “Black stones. Okay. Are there certain healing properties you want the stones to have?”
Daichi shifted his weight from one foot to the other. “Huh. Maybe something to help emotional suffering? Something like that?”
He was treated to one of Shimizu’s rare, soft smiles. “Don’t worry, I have just the thing.”
He didn’t mean to stay up quite as late as he did, but once he’d started working, he could hardly stop until he was done.
Daichi had never really considered himself an artist, though Suga would always roll his eyes and insist that his carvings were second to none. But when he looked down at the finished bracelet, he couldn’t help but feel pride in his work.
I think he’ll like it. Or at least, I hope so. He put it next to the bag of food, and peeked out of the window; it was still dark, but he knew that dawn wasn’t that far off. I better get some rest, he thought with a yawn. I’m off tomorrow again, but I don’t want to sleep too late...
As comfortable as his large, extravagant bed was, it didn’t take long at all for him to fall into slumber, his dreams bright and warm with Kuroo’s dark eyes and charming smile.
Kuroo could barely contain himself in the morning.
Kenma looked at him suspiciously as he toweled his hair off after his trip to the nearby river. “You’re never awake this early,” he pointed out as he rubbed blearily at his eyes.
“Huh? Yeah, I guess. Sawamura wants to see me today, though, and he might have fruit for us. Fresh fruit! Grown in a garden, that I won’t have to steal.” He sighed, and stretched out on the bedroll he’d dragged near the fire pit. “Maybe some metal that Shibayama can mold to our swords with his magic... And some arrows for hunting, since we’re running low, and the ones we’ve got left really suck.”
“Wow! You really like this guy, don’t you?” Lev asked brightly. “Do you have a crush on him, Kuroo-san?”
“Why does everyone keep asking me that?” Kuroo grumbled. “Shut up.”
“Whoa!” Lev smiled. “That wasn’t a no-- ow! What was that for, Yaku-san?” he pouted.
Yaku rolled his eyes. “It’s way too early for this. Go back to sleep or be quiet.”
Kuroo hummed to himself as he went through his morning stretches, waking up more and more with each movement. I’ll stop by a little early, and bring some more of Kai’s candies. Oh damn, I should wear my nice coat, too... Gotta look impressive, right? He sighed, and smiled ruefully as he stretched his arms over his head. Damn, I haven’t felt like this about anyone in a while. I just hope I’m not making a huge mistake.
Daichi put together the final button at the collar of his deep red tunic, the finest piece of casual clothing that he owned. He checked his reflection in the mirror one more time, and gave the food he’d piled high onto two plates another glance before he sat at his desk, resisting the urge to touch the bracelet while he read a book on training advice.
It wasn’t long before he heard the soft, almost silent step of Kuroo at his window, and he turned with a smile just as he shifted into his human form.
“Fancy meeting you here,” Kuroo grinned cheekily.
Daichi snorted, and gestured at the second chair he’d borrowed from the library. “Come on, this food isn’t just for me, you know.”
“Oho?” Kuroo plopped down into the chair with easy grace, and leaned forward, his dark eyes glittering with delight. “Dinner, just the two of us? Sawamura, that’s pretty bold.”
Daichi rolled his eyes. “It doesn’t have to be romantic, you know.”
“Does that mean you want it to be?” Kuroo shot back.
“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” he asked with a grin. His smile grew wider as Kuroo’s cheeks turned a faint shade of pink. “You try to act smooth, but you’re so easily flustered. It’s cute.”
Kuroo picked up his fork, and glanced down at his plate in a weak attempt at hiding his embarrassment and changing the subject. But a moment later, his eyes widened in genuine delight. “Is this salted mackerel pike?”
“Huh? Oh, yeah. Grilled, with some sliced up carrots and rice. What, are you allergic or something?”
“No, it’s my favorite food,” Kuroo smiled as he eagerly cut into it. “I never get tired of it, but I haven’t had it from an actual kitchen in ages.”
“Have you been hunting around the area for your food?” Daichi asked curiously. “Mackerel is pretty plentiful in the river.”
Kuroo finished chewing his bite before replying. “Yeah. Actually, we’ve been sticking to the river since we got here, for the most part. Our fishing spears and fishing rods are in way better shape than our shitty arrows.”
Daichi took a sip of the wine in his goblet. “I got a bunch of those for you, by the way. A hundred in that quiver next to the window, right from the blacksmith.”
Kuroo glanced at the quiver, then back to Daichi. “I don’t get it, Sawamura. Why are you being so nice to me? It’s weird.”
Daichi looked vaguely annoyed, but the irritation quickly vanished, dampened with pity and understanding. “Being nice to people isn’t weird, but I feel bad that you’ve been through enough that you seem to think it is.”
Kuroo was silent for a moment as he sipped at his wine, and he didn’t meet Daichi’s eyes. “You’re the first regular person not to get pissed at us in years now. That’s why we’re always on the move.”
“That doesn’t surprise me,” he replied, his voice full of regret. “People in general have never been accepting of shapeshifter clans. Old, stupid prejudice. But,” he said warmly, “I’m serious when I say Karasuno is different. Don’t worry about having to run off or anything. You’re welcome to stay as long as you want, and we’re not gonna chase you off.” He grinned from behind his wine. “Honestly, you don’t even need to sneak around like you have been. I could tell the guards about you, and you could use the front door instead of my bedroom window.”
“Where’s the fun in that?” Kuroo smiled coyly. “...Thanks, though. You’re as good on the inside as you are on the outside.”
“What a convoluted way to tell me I’m attractive,” Daichi laughed. “You’re pretty good yourself. I’ve never seen anyone pull of bedhead like that before.”
Kuroo blushed and pouted simultaneously. “I tried to brush it down, but it never stays,” he mumbled. “Why is it so easy for you to embarrass me, but I can’t fluster you at all? It’s not fair.”
“Like I said, you try to act smooth, but you’re just a dork. A charming dork, but still,” Daichi grinned. “What, has nobody else ever told you that before?”
“Nobody outside of the Nekoma clan,” he admitted with a bashful smile. “Everyone else just takes me at face value. You know, the whole suave and mysterious thing.”
Daichi snorted, and took another sip of his wine. “Mysterious, sure. Crafty, even -- you’d have to be, to be the leader of a shapeshifter clan. But you, trying to be suave? As if.”
Kuroo put a hand to his chest in mock offense. “Sawamura. You wound me,” he said theatrically. “But hey, maybe I won’t be so mysterious forever, right?”
Daichi smiled back at him. “What, you mean I’ll get to know you better? Well, yeah, I sure hope so. I figured having dinner together would be a good start.”
Kuroo almost choked on his mackerel. “Wait, is this a date?”
Daichi’s warm laughter made the shapeshifter’s heart skip a beat. “Well, I don’t exactly have dinner with guys alone in my room every day. But it doesn’t have to be one, if you don’t want it to be.”
“I do want it to be,” Kuroo answered quickly. “I do.”
“Well, that settles it,” Daichi laughed. “Let’s enjoy our food, and then I’ll show you the supplies I managed to gather for you.”
Their conversation flowed easy and smooth, and the more Daichi talked -- about everything from his duties to stories about the town -- the more Kuroo found himself captivated by the knight captain. Likewise, Daichi found Kuroo to be charming and interesting, adorable in his slight awkwardness and attempts to impress him.
Before long, they’d finished their dinner, and Daichi grabbed the large sack of food sitting at the edge of his desk. “Here,” he said as he handed it over, “there’s a lot of fruit in there... peaches, a few different kinds of apples, some oranges and apricots... All in different bags and containers, of course.”
Kuroo looked into the bag with stunned eyes, then back up at Daichi. “Sawamura, this is amazing. And you got arrows, too?”
“And some ore tomorrow, if you want to come back. It wasn’t ready today, unfortunately.”
Kuroo took a deep breath as he tied the bag shut. “Have you told anyone about us? My clan and I, I mean.”
“No,” Daichi replied immediately. “They’re curious as to why I need the materials, but they’ve all respected my desire to not tell them. I really believe nobody in this town is a threat to you, but I want your presence to be known about on your own terms.”
Surprise and gratitude were both clear in Kuroo’s expression. “...Thanks, Sawamura. I appreciate it a lot. Hey, it’s getting late, though -- I should go back, before the clan starts to worry about me.”
“Sure. First... I have something else to give you, though.” He felt his heart start to beat a little faster with nervousness as he reached into his pocket. “I made you something last night... I wanted to give you something a bit more personal than some food and arrows.”
He held the bracelet out to Kuroo in the palm of his hand, and the shapeshifter’s breath caught in his throat.
It was on a thin silver chain, with tiny beads of tigers eye and small onyx crow charms -- charms that Daichi had carved himself the night before. “I made this last night... the onyx is a defense against negativity, and helps to ease grief and sorrow. The tigers eye is for good luck and protection. Ah... A lot of people consider crows to be bad omens. But there are... a lot of crows around Karasuno, and we consider them guardians. They’re very loyal and intelligent.”
“You -- you made this?” Kuroo asked quietly, voice laced with awe. “For me?”
“You deserve something nice,” Daichi replied a little bashfully. “Do you like it?”
“Are you kidding? Of course I do,” Kuroo said as he slipped it over his wrist. “Sawamura... if you’re trying to make me fall for you, it’s working,” he grinned.
Daichi looked right into his eyes and grinned. “Good.”
Kuroo’s blush was becoming increasingly familiar, but no less pleasant. “A-anyway, I’ve gotta get going. But I’ll bring you something special tomorrow, too!”
“You don’t have to,” Daichi smiled.
Kuroo looked happy back as he stood up. “Yeah, I know. But I want to. Same time tomorrow?”
“Sure,” Daichi replied. “I’ll have more materials for you.”
“We barely know each other,” Kuroo said suddenly. “Are you sure about all this?”
Daichi sighed with fond exasperation. “Of course I’m sure. And after having dinner, we know each other a little better. And I like you even more than I did before, so this is going well so far, wouldn’t you say?”
Kuroo laughed, bashful and delighted as he took a step closer. “Is that so? Do you want to make this a real date, then? Can I have a goodnight kiss, Sawamura?”
Daichi didn’t hesitate to step forward and close the distance between them; he leaned in, and placed a quick, soft kiss against Kuroo’s cheek. “Don’t see why not,” he smiled playfully.
Stunned, Kuroo brought a hand up to his cheek, the skin still warm and pleasantly tingling where Daichi’s lips had been just a moment before. “I... was just kidding,” he said dreamily, “not that I mind. I didn’t think...”
“That I’d actually do it?” Daichi laughed. “You’re not the only one full of surprises. Take care, Kuroo. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Yeah,” Kuroo smiled. In a swirl of magic, he shifted back to his feline form, and a moment later, he was gone.
“I can’t believe you’re dating a regular human,” Kenma said with a wry smile.
“I can totally believe it,” Yaku added with a roll of his eyes.
Kuroo groaned, and flopped back onto his bedroll. “Give me a break. He didn’t actually ask me out, you know.”
“Um, but you’re carving him a bracelet now too, and you had dinner and kissed?” Inuoka asked innocently. “Sorry, Kuroo-san, but that definitely sounds like dating to me!”
Kuroo covered his face with his hands as Lev began to laugh. “Hey, I’m the leader,” he pouted. “Show me a little respect?”
“We can respect you and tease you!” Lev said brightly.
“You’re all terrible,” Kuroo grumbled without malice as he sat up and continued working on his gift for Daichi.
Daichi had more food on his desk when Kuroo showed up again the following evening.
“Hey there, handsome,” Kuroo purred after he changed back into his human form. “Another fine dinner? You’re going to spoil me, you know.”
“What a tragedy,” Daichi laughed. “I got that ore for you, by the way. It’s in a bag next to the window, by another bag of fruit.”
“You’re a good man,” Kuroo said quietly, smiling as he walked closer. “Too good for the likes of me.”
“Let me be the one to decide that,” Daichi replied. He blinked in surprise as Kuroo put his hand into his coat, and held it out, palm open. “What--?”
Kuroo looked unusually unsure of himself. “So, the bracelet you made me... I can carve, too. So I made you one, sort of like what you did for me.” It was on a silver chain, similar to the one Daichi had used for his own creation, with little beads and cat charms, all of a shining black stone. “It’s obsidian -- volcanic rock we picked up on our travels. Powerful protection against curses and negativity.” Daichi reached out to touch it, but Kuroo gently took hold of his hand and slipped it over his fingers. “It looks good on you,” he murmured appreciatively.
“...Thanks,” Daichi said quietly as he stared down at the cat charms. He looked up to meet Kuroo’s eyes, openly grateful and happy. He leaned forward, and kissed him softly, just on the corner of the shapeshifter’s mouth. “I like it a lot.”
Kuroo blushed, and Daichi’s smile grew wider, though his cheeks were a faint shade of pink as well. “Come on,” the knight captain said softly, “let’s have dinner and talk some more.”
And again, they had a quiet date between the two of them, their conversation just as easy and comfortable as it had been the night before. When Kuroo left several hours later, Daichi thought the room felt just a little colder -- but Kuroo’s promise to come back and walk in the gardens with him the following night was fresh in his mind, his cheek warm from a shy kiss the shapeshifter had given him just before he vanished.
The night sky was dark, a canvas painted with infinite stars as Kuroo walked to the small stone bench Daichi was seated at. Fireflies glowed among the roses surrounding them; Karasuno’s castle gardens were colorful and lively, clearly well loved and cared for.
The shapeshifter knelt at Daichi’s feet; he brought the knight’s hand up to his lips, and placed a gentle kiss to his fingers while staring into his eyes. For once, Daichi was the first to blush as Kuroo stood up with a smile; he sat beside the captain, their knees gently knocking against one another as they both looked up at the stars.
“There are clouds moving in from the northwest,” Kuroo said conversationally. “It might rain.”
“Yeah, I can feel them,” Daichi said a little cryptically. “If it does, we can just go back to my room, and come back to the gardens another night. They’re not going anywhere. Will your clan be okay?”
“We’ve got some makeshift shelters, and our mages are good with their weather protection magic. Years of moving around in the wild made that kind of a necessity,” Kuroo replied. “Does it rain a lot around here?”
Daichi shrugged. “Well, we never have to worry about droughts, but we don’t have trouble with flooding, either. A good medium, I’d say.”
“Do you like the rain?” Kuroo asked.
“Well, as long as I’m not in it,” Daichi laughed. “It’s soothing. What about you? Cats hate rain, right?”
Kuroo rolled his eyes. “You know I’m not an actual cat, right? I just shapeshift.”
“Hm,” Daichi smiled. “But you like eating, and you try to be cool but just make yourself look adorable in the process... yet you’re powerful, independent and easily respected... sounds pretty catlike to me.” He laughed as Kuroo’s ears turned pink, and leaned in so their shoulders brushed against each other. “So easily flustered.”
“Ugh,” Kuroo smiled into his hands. “Stop being so hot. I can’t get mad at you when you look so good.”
“Sorry, no can do,” Daichi grinned. “But thanks for the compliment.”
“It’s not even a compliment, it’s just the truth. I’m pretty sure your forearms are a gift from the gods,” Kuroo insisted.
The sky stayed mercifully clear for another hour and a half; they sat and talked, and then took a quiet stroll through the gardens, alone in their own little world together. Eventually, Kuroo noted that the rainclouds had drawn closer, and he bid Daichi goodbye with a quick kiss to the captain’s cheek.
Daichi watched him shift and bound away into the darkness as a cat, an idea forming in the back of his mind. This time, he didn’t go back to his room and get ready for bed like he had the previous nights.
Instead, he waited a moment, and followed after Kuroo with a small hope blooming in his heart.
The moon was covered in dark clouds by the time Kuroo returned to the camp.
“Still have about an hour before the rain hits,” Yaku said conversationally as the leader sat next to the fire. “I’ve got all my wards in place around the camp perimeter, both to keep our stuff dry and keep enemies out.”
“Nice work,” Kuroo grinned. “Did I miss anything while I was gone?”
“Yamamoto burned his tongue on one of Kai’s candies because he didn’t wait for it to cool,” Kenma mumbled from where he was mixing a potion. “Same as usual.”
Yamamoto was mid-protest when a bright blue flash erupted in the distance, and Yaku’s head immediately snapped up. “Something tripped one of the protective wards,” he said quickly. “A... person. Just one, I think.” He was already on his feet, reaching for the sword sheathed on his back; Kuroo and the rest of the camp quickly followed suit, ready for whatever might be coming to face them.
A moment later, Daichi emerged from the trees, looking sheepish and apologetic.
“Hey. Uh, sorry about the ward -- my mistake. I walked right over it on accident. Hi, Kuroo.” He held his hands up in a placating gesture. “And the rest of you are the Nekoma clan, right? Nice to meet you. I’m knight captain Sawamura Daichi, from the nearby town.”
Half of the camp, Yaku included, didn’t relax much. Kuroo sheathed his sword, though, and walked forward cautiously. “...How the hell did you find us, Sawamura? Those wards should’ve hidden us from normal eyes. They’d hurt a regular person.”
“I’m just full of surprises,” Daichi said with a wry smile. “Sorry for following you all of a sudden. I just had an idea...”
“How did you follow me?” Kuroo asked. “I’m fast. Really fast. You’re not... Nobody wants us to leave, right? You said the town wouldn’t care--”
“Nobody wants you gone, I promise. Nobody even knows about you yet, or if they do, they haven’t said anything,” he reassured him. “Look -- I haven’t been entirely straightforward with you.”
Kuroo looked strained. “About what? I still don’t even get why nobody else would care -- I don’t get why you don’t care, honestly. There’s a reason our clan has always been alone. Aren’t you worried we’re gonna turn you into frogs and steal your crops or something?”
To all of Nekoma’s surprise, Daichi started laughing.
“What’s so funny?” Kuroo asked, clearly confused.
“Sorry -- sorry,” Daichi smiled as he wiped a tear from his eye. “Frogs, oh my god. That’s some truly basic, arrogant superstition right there. You’re brilliant, Kuroo, but you’re kind of dense in some ways, too. But I like you anyway.”
Kuroo relaxed a little, obviously curious. “...What do you mean?”
“I assumed you’d figure it out at any moment, which is the only reason I didn’t already tell you.” Daichi spread his arms with a serene smile, and tilted his head up towards the sky, where the moonlight struggled to break through the thick canopy of trees. “You’re not as alone as you think you are, you know.”
All of Nekoma watched, eyes wide with surprise, as tendrils of orange magic swirled through the air around Daichi, curling around his form in a familiar and beautiful light. In the span of a just a moment, he changed -- and a giant, beautiful crow was where he’d been a moment before, its eyes glittering with mirth.
“Holy shit,” Kuroo whispered.
Daichi shifted back, and looked a little bashful at all of the surprised stares focused on him. “Uh, so yeah. About half of our town are crow shapeshifters... We live with a lot of regular folks, too. So you’re nothing strange or threatening to us.”
“I can’t believe you accidentally started dating another shapeshifter without realizing it,” Yaku grumbled from behind Kuroo’s back.
The leader ignored him, and took several steps closer to Daichi. “You’re -- you’re a shapeshifter,” he said, voice quiet with awe. “Seriously?”
“Well, I’d say me shapeshifting into a crow in front of you would make me a shapeshifter, yes,” he said sarcastically. “But seriously. I came here because I wanted to tell all of you... you don’t have to keep sleeping in the woods and living in fear of us, if you don’t want to. There’s plenty of room in the town for your clan, too. You’re more than welcome to be a part of us.” He spread his arms out, his stance open and accepting. “We’re all family, right? We’re all in this together. You don’t have to run anymore, if you don’t want to.”
Kuroo stared, mouth slightly open in shock; a moment later, Yaku smacked him on the back. “Give him an answer,” the smaller man said gruffly.
The leader turned towards the rest of his clan, searching over their faces. “What do you all think?” he asked. “You wanna live in Karasuno?”
Each and every one of them nodded. “Anyone good enough for you is good enough for us,” Fukunaga said quietly.
“It’d be nice,” Kenma admitted quietly. “I want to try it...”
“Let’s do it!” Lev cheered. “Can we?!”
Kuroo smiled, warm and genuine as he turned back to face Daichi once more. “Well... I guess that settles it. Count us in.”
Daichi’s eyes crinkled at the corners as he returned the smile, and he held out his hand. “All right. Let’s go.”
Without hesitation, Kuroo took his hand, twining their fingers together like it was as natural as breathing.
“Lead the way.”
Two weeks later, the stars were bright, the sky clear of any clouds as Kuroo and Daichi sat in the castle gardens together.
“Thanks for everything,” Kuroo said suddenly, his voice quiet and unusually serious.
Daichi looked over at him, a thoughtful smile on his face as he laced their fingers together, their matching bracelets clinking quietly as they touched. “I didn’t do much, really. But you’re welcome.”
Kuroo laughed. “Don’t sell yourself short, Sawamura. You gave us a home. You let our family become part of yours. You gave us safety, and security, and acceptance. That’s all priceless, you know.” He smiled, and leaned in a little closer, his dark eyes almost glowing with affection. “And being here with you, right now, is no small gift either.”
Daichi leaned in, and their noses brushed together. “You can call me Daichi, if you want.”
“Daichi,” Kuroo repeated. “And you can call me Tetsurou...”
“Tetsurou,” he said. “Sounds good. Do you... want to go out with me, Tetsurou?”
Kuroo closed the last distance between them. The kiss was warm and sweet, slow and tender as their breath brushed against each other’s skin. He pulled away several moments later, and leaned his forehead against Daichi’s with a quiet chuckle.
“Sign me up,” he smiled.
They stayed there for a while, watching the stars hand in hand, enjoying their newfound closeness. In the distance, they heard the hooting of owls in the darkness, and despite the slight chill in the air, Kuroo had never felt so warm.
Nekoma had found a new family, and a place that welcomed them with open arms.
They’d finally found a home.
the bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life. --richard bach