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one two three, counseling fee

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"No way," Kagami breathes.

"Way," Aomine says. "Totally way."

Eating contest! the flyer reads. Half-price Maji dates for 1 year to the winners of our Valentine's Day Couples Maji competition!

"Ahomine," Kagami says, gripping the flyer tight in his fist. "I never thought I would say this, but... will you go out with me?"

"Don't call someone Ahomine when you're asking them out, doofus," Aomine says, too serious. "Of course I will."

###

"That's how Kagami-kun asked out his first boyfriend for his first date?" Kuroko hums. "I never believed you could be so rude or manipulative."

"It's for a good cause," Kagami says, defensive. "We're totally going to win the Couples Maji contest. Think of all the Maji discounts this will mean."

"Ah, I see," Kuroko says. "So you're only with Aomine-kun for the money, is that it?"

"It's exclusively a business arrangement," Kagami says. "As if I would really date that asshole."

"I suppose I'm reassured then," Kuroko says. "My next question would have been why you decided to date Aomine-kun, when it's clear that you and I are more like a couple."

"Gah," Kagami says, blushing.

###

It's true though, as Kagami realizes on the first of his and Aomine's how-do-we-make-ourselves-look-like-a-legitimate-couple dates. He and Aomine are nothing like a couple. Looking like a real couple will probably end up killing them.

"We're not seeing that movie, it looks boring," Aomine says. "Actually, why are we even going to a movie? I'd rather just play basketball."

"Fine, no movie," Kagami says. He crosses out movies on his list. Above it are bowling and ice skating, also stricken. "This was supposed to be a date, but want to just get a burger or something before playing?"

"Sure," Aomine says. "You're paying, because it was your idea."

"We'll split it!" Kagami says.

"What a cheapskate," Aomine says. "I should dump you."

"You need me to win," Kagami says.

"I do not!" Aomine says.

"You do too!"

###

"For some reason it feels inappropriate for me to be your couple's counselor," Kuroko says, sitting across from them in the booth. "Although thank you for the milkshake."

"Don't be ridiculous Tetsu, it couldn't be anyone else. You're the only one who can put up with this asshole," Aomine says.

"That's my line!" Kagami says. "Anyway, Kuroko, just tell this guy that he needs me to win the eating contest and everything will be fine."

"Hmm." Kuroko sips his shake, glancing impassively between the two of them. "I believe this argument might be indicative of deeper problems in your relationship," he eventually says. "How long have you been together?"

"Oh, come on Tetsu," Aomine starts, but Kagami elbows him.

"Two months," Kagami says, looking around at the nearby Maji Burger employees. "Remember?"

Aomine groans.

###

"It's hard to say, but I may have diagnosed part of the problem with your relationship," Kuroko says. "You two certainly suffer from a lack of intimacy."

Kagami isn't sure he likes where this is going.

"Where do you feel your relationship is most lacking in intimacy?" Kuroko asks blandly.

"The bedroom," Aomine drawls. His eyes are sharp on Kagami's face. This is punishment.

"With all due respect Aomine-kun, I think you should start with holding hands," Kuroko says. "Kagami-kun values his virtue."

"Kuroko goddammit—"

###

They should never have asked Kuroko to be their couple's counselor.

"How are we even supposed to play basketball like this?" Aomine groans. By this, he means where Kuroko has taped their hands together. They are stuck sitting on the same side of the Maji Burger booth, Kuroko's side empty.

"Fuck basketball, how are we supposed to go to the bathroom like this?" Kagami asks. "I do not want to see that."

"You should be so lucky to catch a glance of my dick," Aomine grunts. "I bet you're more worried about me seeing yours."

"Why would I be worried about that?" Kagami asks, probably a bit too quickly. "I have nothing to be worried about—Why are we even talking about our dicks? I have no interest in your dick."

"You're the one who brought it up," Aomine says, staring at him with... something... in his eyes.

Kagami's hand is sweating. Or maybe it's Aomine's hand that's sweating. Kagami can't tell. He feels kind of hot.

"We should go to the bathroom," Aomine says.

"Uh," says Kagami.

###

"We should never have asked you to be our couple's counselor," Kagami tells Kuroko over the phone. "I'm sorry."

His hand is sore from ripping the tape off of it. His lips are sore from a bizarre, one-handed makeout session with Aomine in the bathroom of the Maji Burger. His brain is sore from pretending none of the afternoon had actually happened.

"Nonetheless, you did ask me," Kuroko says. The tinny quality of his voice over the phone makes him sound even less impressed with this fact than he had earlier. "That means that this is a business phone call. I think you should tell me everything that happened on the rest of your date with Aomine-kun today."

"It was nothing," Kagami says. "Totally boring. Hamburgers and stuff."

"I expect my clients to be honest with me," Kuroko says. "I'm Kagami-kun's friend as well as his counselor, and I can tell when he's hiding juicy details from me."

"What makes you think there's any kind of juicy detail in my relationship with that bastard?" Kagami sputters.

"Your reluctance, obviously," Kuroko says.

Kagami chews at his lip. It's still sore from Aomine's stupid mouth.

###

"Did you seriously tell Tetsu everything?" Aomine says first, on their next what-the-fuck-is-even-happening date.

"Not everything," Kagami says, flushing.

"Why did you do that?" Aomine asks, scowling. "He's totally jealous now."

"What? That doesn't make any sense," Kagami says.

Aomine flashes his phone at Kagami. On the screen are his texts with Kuroko.

Wow Aomine-kun.

Take good care of Kagami-kun.

I'm quite jealous.

"That's just Kuroko's way of joking," Kagami says, slapping Aomine's phone away. "Don't you know him at all?"

Aomine squints. "Don't you know him at all?"

"What's that supposed to mean?" Kagami asks, confused. "Besides, who would he even be jealous of? You? Me?"

###

"Both of you, of course," Kuroko tells them.

Kagami's brain short-circuits. The world no longer makes sense.

Kuroko sips at his vanilla milkshake. "Thank you for the shake, again, but I no longer think it is a good idea for you to be clients for my couple's counseling service," he says. "There is a conflict of interest."

"Tell us that in the first place, Tetsu," Aomine complains.

"None of this makes any sense," Kagami says. "The only point of this was to win the Valentine's Day Couple's Maji Competition and get a year of half-price Maji Burger!"

"If either Aomine-kun or Kagami-kun were any good in Japanese Literature, they would know that small events always spark large consequences," Kuroko says. "If you are interested, I offer myself as a tutor."

"Study dates are boring," Aomine says. "We should play basketball or make out together instead."

"Wha—" Kagami starts.

"I would be amenable to either of those two options," says Kuroko, turning to look up at Kagami with a bland expression. "What does Kagami-kun think?"

Kagami doesn't think anything. Kagami has frozen.

###

"Um..." the Maji Burger employee says.

"Don't mind him," Aomine says, jerking a thumb at Kuroko. "He barely eats anything."

"Nevertheless, sir," the Maji Burger employee says, "the title of this contest is the Valentine's Day Couples Maji competition, and there are three of you."

"I told you this was a stupid idea," Kagami says, covering his face with his hands.

"No way," Aomine says. "It's a three-way relationship, but I'm just saying that where food is concerned, we're practically just a couple!"

The Maji Burger employee swallows, looking around as if there must be a manual for this kind of occurrence. "I'm afraid that since there are only two spaces on the entry form, I am going to have to limit your eating contest entry to just two people."

Aomine groans.

"Oh," the employee says, blinking around suddenly. "I thought—nevermind. I guess it's you two then?"

Kagami glances behind them; Kuroko has vanished to who-knows-where. He turns back to the employee and forces a smile. "Uh. Yes."

###

At the eating contest table, a mountain of burgers sits before them, slightly smaller than the one Kagami normally orders for an everyday meal. He squints at it. Behind the Maji Burger counter, a couple of employees are pointing at him and whispering nervously. Next to him, Aomine is starting to grin.

"Good luck," Kuroko says from behind them, startling a (small) shriek out of Kagami. Aomine doesn't even twitch. "And by the way, I expect to be paid back for this in free milkshakes for a full year."

"Paid back for what?" Aomine asks.

"For being the one to make sacrifices," Kuroko intones. "For sitting out of a Valentine's Day bonding event that would have been fun to participate in all together."

"Oh, come on Tetsu," Aomine says, rolling his eyes. "You seriously don't eat anything. You'd pass out before even eating two of these."

"Don't be such a dick," Kagami says. "Kuroko is the only reason we're really dating! If anyone should be participating in a Valentine's Day whatever-the-fuck, it's him."

Aomine stares at him like he's crazy. Kuroko lets out a wistful-sounding sigh, and says, "Kagami-kun is excused from purchasing the milkshakes."

"What the fuck?!" Aomine says.

"On your mark," says the Maji Burger employee at the front, through a weirdly echoing megaphone. "Get set."

"This is favoritism!" Aomine says. "I want a new couple's counselor. Kagami!"

"Huh?" says Kagami. He's got his eye on the top burger of the pile, waiting to be unwrapped.

"GO!"

###

Kagami is most of the way through his third platter of burgers, and is not quite full yet, by the time the eating contest is called. A rain of pink heart-shaped confetti falls down on them and a somewhat green-looking reporter comes forward to take his picture.

Afterward, Kagami says, "Hey did you even eat anything? You were fighting with Kuroko the whole time."

"I had two or three," Aomine says. "You looked like you had it covered."

Kagami glances between the two of them. Both Aomine and Kuroko seem pretty chill. "So, did you guys work everything out?"

"I'm gonna make out with Kuroko until he gets over whatever was bugging him," Aomine says.

"I'm looking forward to Aomine-kun's attempt, but will ultimately have my way," Kuroko says.

"Okay..." Kagami says slowly. "Then... uh... what do you guys want to do now? A date or something?"

"Let's go to the movie theater," Kuroko says. "You and I can watch a movie, and Aomine-kun can take a nap next to us."

"Sounds cool," Aomine says. "Kagami can pay for the popcorn."

"Sure, whatever," Kagami mutters. When Kuroko smiles at him, he blushes.