Kuroko no Basuke: All In One

All of my Kukoko no Basuke fic, generally focused on Kuroko, Kagami, and the Miracle Generation.

The Single Akashi Seijuurou

Two different versions of how Akashi might have taken Kuroko’s resignation, and what promise he extracted from his team: one dark, one light. Character Sketch, I-2

A Side

When Akashi Seijuurou heard that Tetsuya had quit the basketball club, even before the official retirement of third years was announced, he shrugged.

“He’s only anticipating events.”

Ryouta rubbed the back of his head, looking uncertain. “Well, I suppose we’re all quitting, in a way, but…”

“That wasn’t what I meant.” Seijuurou looked around the spare classroom where he had called his team to him. Shintarou was sitting neatly at one of the empty desks, hands folded lightly, still careful of his fingers even now that the tournament season was over. Daiki was sprawled along the boxy sill of one of the windows looking out, one hand draped over his knee, open and empty and desperately wanting. Ryouta had perched on the desk whose chair Atsushi had taken, swinging his feet while Atsushi nibbled pineapple pocky and waited silently. They were the most brilliant players he’d been able to find and train; he thought they would do.

“It’s time for us to separate.”

Shintarou frowned faintly, adjusting his glasses as if that would help him understand Seijuurou more clearly. “What do you mean?”

Seijuurou leaned back against the teacher’s desk and spread his hands. “We’ve won. We are the strongest team in Japan. Where else will we find competition, now, but in each other?”

Daiki’s dangling foot, which had been tapping restlessly against the wall, stilled.

“As you choose your high schools,” Seijuurou continued, suppressing a smile, “choose separate ones. I want your words that all of you will cease to think of each other as teammates and instead play each other as opponents.” Something he had already prepared them for, after all.

They glanced at each other, and he waited patiently for the obvious logic of the thing to register with them. Atsushi was the first to shrug and nod, fishing out another stick. “If you think it would be good.”

“I suppose you have a point,” Shintarou allowed, slowly. “It would allow for more balanced competition.” He was still watching Seijuurou narrowly; of all of them, Shintarou was the one who knew him well enough that he might intuit the point of this exercise. That was all right. It wouldn’t keep him from carrying through the exact sequence of moves Seijuurou mapped out for them.

“Might even be interesting,” Daiki put in, still looking out the window as if he didn’t care, but the hand on his knee was clenched now.

Ryouta was the last, as Seijuurou had known he would be. Ryouta was the only one besides Tetsuya himself who still played by his emotions. “I’d miss the team.” He pouted briefly at the room in general, and Shintarou gave him an exasperated look. “But I guess that could be fun too, playing against you all.” His play-pout dissolved into a genuine smile, edged and glinting. “Let’s see who wins.”

Seijuurou nodded, satisfied. “Very well. Then, for the last time, the team is dismissed.”

They stood and stretched and clattered out, Ryouta already asking Daiki for a practice match while they still had the chance, Atsushi turning away down this newly named path of separation with cheerful ease, Shintarou lingering for a last long look over his shoulder before sliding the door quietly shut behind him. Seijuurou leaned back on his hands and smiled up at the ceiling through the motes of dust dancing in the air. He knew who would win, of course; it would be him. He was the one who had pushed these players to become what they were, and they had never made a move he hadn’t seen coming. The opening was concluded. Now it was time for the middle game to begin. And when the end game was reached, the rightness of all his moves would be revealed for all to see.

It would be a victory worth winning, just as he had planned, for years, that it should be.

B Side

When Akashi Seijuurou heard that Tetsuya had quit the basketball club, even before the official retirement of third years was announced, he frowned. Obviously, Tetsuya wanted to make a point of his disapproval, not that Seijuurou had missed it in the first place.

He expected tracking Tetsuya down to take a little while; it wasn’t an easy task, even for Seijuurou, when Tetsuya wanted not to be found. In the end, though, a single question to a classmate led him straight to the roof where Tetsuya was leaning against the safety rail all alone. Seijuurou contemplated this move, standing in the doorway. Tetsuya had always been the easiest to handle, of his players, but today he clearly wanted a confrontation. Very well.

“A formal resignation seems a bit overdone, considering we’re all retiring in a week.”

Tetsuya didn’t turn around. “A week is too long.”

Seijuurou came away from the door to stand at the rail beside him, watching him. “Do you really think I haven’t seen it?”

“You haven’t done anything about it.” Tetsuya’s tone was even, as always, but it was still an accusation. Seijuurou hid a smile; perhaps this pawn would reach gold after all.

“What would you have me do? Try to reduce their strength? Force them to cooperate when their talents make individual play the most natural thing?”

“I don’t know!” Tetsuya actually raised his voice, fingers a little white with the force of his grip on the rail. “I just know it’s wrong. Something’s missing.”

Seijuurou sighed. Tetsuya was the one he had the highest hopes of, in some ways, the one whose perception might let him control a game as surely Seijuurou himself did. His tactical awareness was already superb. His strategic sense, on the other hand, still had a ways to go. “Are you going to quit basketball itself?”

“I…” Tetsuya stopped there, unable, even now, to say that he wanted to leave the game, and Seijuurou let his smile show.

“Then I’ll have the same promise from you that I’ll take from the others, when we retire. Choose a high school none of the rest of the team is going to and give me your word you’ll play with all your strength for your new team.”

At last Tetsuya turned to look at him, blinking. “…you want to split up the team?”

“How else will they keep playing?”

Tetsuya was quiet for a long moment, and finally turned back to the rail and the bare trees below. “I still don’t think this was the right way to do it.”

Seijuurou felt a moment’s exasperation. Tetsuya still had yet to understand that the only way to prove a strategy or approach right was to win. Seijuurou’s methods of developing his players had won steadily, and this new strategy shape would continue to win the ultimate game, the one in which all of his players achieved ‘promotion’. This way won; therefore it, and he, were right. Sometimes Seijuurou got tired of having to point that out. Well, perhaps by the end of the game Tetsuya would see it himself. “Will you come?”

“To a school without any of you,” Tetsuya said slowly. “To… the tournaments. With a different team.”

“All of us in different teams,” Seijuurou agreed patiently. “To play against each other, now.”

Slowly, Tetsuya’s back straightened, and his gaze was level when he nodded. “Yes. I’ll do it.”

“Good. I’ll see you there, then.” Seijuurou turned briskly toward the door and the stairs down from the winter chill of the roof. He glanced back, once, before he went in. Tetsuya was standing straight and steady at the rail, one hand closed into a fist. Seijuurou smiled.

He still expected to be the one who would face Daiki, and give him back the life of his game. Ryouta had the potential to match Daiki, but he still let his emotions get in the way of his playing. Tetsuya would have to find suitable pieces of his own to work with before he had a chance, and that wouldn’t be easy. But Seijuurou wouldn’t discount them. They might do it after all.

They were, after all, his players.


Last Modified: Sep 07, 13
Posted: Jul 30, 12
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For He Has This Grace

After the match between Kaijou and Fukuda Sougou, and the aftermath with Haizaki, Kise finds Aomine in one of the side hallways. (The porn that had to happen, Y/Y?) Spoilers for anime-only fans. Porn, I-3

Character(s): Aomine Daiki, Kise Ryouta
Pairing(s): Aomine/Kise

Aomine Daiki ducked back inside the Metropolitan Gymnasium side doors and stalked down the dim hall, wincing a bit when he went to slide his hands into his pockets. Shougo had a jaw almost as hard as his thick skull, and Daiki’s knuckles were bruised and stinging. It’d had to be done, though; Shougo was the kind of idiot who would keep going until someone stopped him. Daiki’s mouth tugged up at one corner. He really was kind of like Kise, that way, actually.

He stopped at the edge of the main concourse, glancing around the thinning crowd with a bit of resignation. He’d told Satsuki to go ahead, but he knew she wouldn’t have. She worried too much about him. And okay, yeah, the year had been unspeakably boring up until just recently, but Tetsu had brought him a very nice opponent (better than chocolate any day) and Kise might just be a serious challenge the next time they played. She didn’t need to keep freaking out. He glanced indecisively between the main doors and the corner with the vending machines. Where to start?


Daiki snorted softly. It had definitely been a bad year—he’d almost gotten to miss the stupid things his teammates called him. “Kise.” He leaned against the wall as Kise eeled out of the crowd and trotted down the side hall to meet him, still flushed from the game and grinning all over his face.

“You came to watch!”

“Of course I watched. Good game.” Kise actually turned a little pink, at that, and Daiki rolled his eyes. Wasn’t like that was some huge compliment. “About time you got over your damn block about the rest of the team.”

Kise waved his hands indignantly. “Well, it was hard! All you guys are insanely talented and I’ve only been playing for three years, gimme a break!”

Daiki swatted at Kise, laughing when he ducked back. “Why should I give you a break when pushing you obviously works so much better? Isn’t that what you’ve always insisted on anyway?”

“Aominecchi is mean,” Kise accused, practically pouting at him, the way he did when he was teasing someone. Daiki rolled his eyes even harder.

Which meant he wasn’t looking and started when Kise caught his wrist in a grip that was always stronger than it seemed it should be, when you watched him clowning around.

“What did you do to your hand?” Kise demanded, frowning down at Daiki’s bruised and scraped knuckles.

“It’s nothing.” Daiki tugged against Kise’s hold; Kise didn’t let go.

“That is not nothing! I know you don’t need to be as careful with your fingers as Midorimacchi, but what are you going to do if you mess up your grip?” Kise glared up from under those ridiculously long lashes before turning Daiki’s hand more into the light from the concourse. “If you lose our next game because you let your hands get injured, I’m going to be really pissed off at you.”

“What next game?” Daiki finally twisted his wrist free. “You’re the one who still has games to play in this tournament, not me. You’re the one who has to be careful.” Which was why Daiki had gone looking for Shougo in the first place, after all.

And maybe he’d been thinking that a little too loudly, because Kise froze, staring at him. “Aominecchi,” he finally said, low and wide-eyed. “That wasn’t… Shougo-kun?” Daiki ran an exasperated hand through his hair, stifling a wince because he’d forgotten not to use his left hand.

“Quit looking at me like that. You’d better not backslide on me, Kise.” He’d done it because it was right, not for Kise’s admiration, for fuck’s sake.

Kise’s face hardened and took a long step toward Daiki, away from the bright concourse and slowing bustle there. “I can do both,” he told Daiki, chin lifted with every bit of the arrogance his sweet manners usually hid. “I can admire you and still fight you with everything I’ve got. And next time we do have a game, you’d better keep that in mind.”

Daiki smiled slowly. Those bright eyes were narrow and sharp, the way Kise always looked when he quit clowning and got serious about something. “You can, huh?” he asked softly. Kise took another step, right up in Daiki’s space where he leaned back against the wall.

“I won’t ever hold back with you again.” Kise’s mouth curved like the edge of a knife. “I promise.”

There was something hotter in his smile than Daiki had seen even during their games this year, and he wasn’t completely surprised when Kise reached up and curled a hand around the back of Daiki’s neck and pulled him down. Daiki let him, laughing against his mouth until Kise pressed up against him, biting at his lower lip just enough to jolt Daiki a little.

“Mmm.” Daiki pulled Kise harder against him, settling him snugly between Daiki’s legs, satisfied by the husky sound Kise made. “Bout time you finally decided to make a move. I was getting bored with waiting.”

Kise’s eyes glinted up at him. “You get bored so easily, Aominecchi, I guess we’d better do something about that.”

Even knowing Kise, even having watched him wind people up with his adorable-clueless-model-boy routine, even knowing that Kise and Tetsu were dead even for who had the evilest sense of humor, Daiki didn’t expect the feeling of Kise’s hand sliding down the front of his jeans. "Fuck!"

“If I’m not holding back, you’d better not be either,” Kise told him, breathless, and squeezed.

“Ryou,” Daiki growled, and kissed him hard and hot. Kise made a wanting sound into his mouth, and when his hand tightened again Daiki sucked in a quick breath. Kise’s grip was warm and strong, and made him think about the same hand wrapped around a basketball. About how Kise was, just maybe, catching up. About that promise not to hold back. He reached down to close his hands on Kise’s ass, pulling him in tighter and grinding their hips together. This time they both moaned, and Kise left off groping him to grab his shoulders with both hands and grind back against him. Hot pleasure licked straight up Daiki’s spine, and he laughed, low and husky.

“The next time we play,” he breathed against Kise’s ear, “it’ll feel like this. Only better. Look forward to it.” Kise moaned low in his throat, and Daiki pushed a knee between his legs. “Give me everything you’ve got, Ryou.”

Kise made a desperate sound and dragged Daiki’s head down again, fingers buried in his hair as he rode Daiki’s thigh shamelessly. Daiki dug his own fingers into the tight muscle of Kise’s ass with every flex of his hips, grinding him ruthlessly close, hot and wild with the hope Ryou and Tetsu had held out to him this winter. The hope put an edge on the pleasure winding his nerves taut every time he rocked against Kise’s hip, and it didn’t take long before it all spilled over. When he came, he muffled his groan in Kise’s mouth, kissing Kise like he could breathe him in and hold him that way. Kise answered him, just as open and passionate as he’d been two years ago, already relaxing against him, and that sudden sweetness made Daiki’s hands turn gentle even as his body wrung itself out.

When they’d both caught their breath, and Kise lifted his head and smiled up at him, Daiki smiled back, only a little tilted. “Next year,” he said quietly, “I’ll be waiting for you.”

“Or maybe before then.” Kise’s eyes glinted. “Come to the semi-finals and see how it goes. I have some revenge to get on Kurokocchi and Kagamicchi, after all.”

Daiki snorted, remembering how he’d been hauled to the Tokyo preliminary finals. “Doubt I’ll get out of it. Imayoshi-senpai’s being a complete bastard about that.” Even after he was supposed to be retired.

“You should have more respect for your senpai, Aominecchi,” Kise told him, contriving to look virtuous even while rumpled and flushed and straddling Daiki’s thigh. “Like me. I always do what Kasamatsu-senpai wants me to.”

“Kise!” someone yelled out in the concourse, sounding irate.

“Mostly,” Kise added with perfect aplomb.

Daiki had to laugh. He really had missed his old teammates, idiocy and all. “Go on, then.” He kissed Kise one last time, softer, and pushed him away. “I’ll be watching.”

Kise flashed a true smile, so much brighter than his model-smile. “Watch me win.” He brushed his uniform mostly straight, and trotted back around the corner calling, “Coming, senpai!”

Daiki slumped back against the wall and ran a hand through his hair, still smiling a little. That had been an impulsive thing to do, and now he had to find a bathroom and get cleaned up a little before he went looking for Satsuki. But he was glad he’d done it. Kise had spent a long time following him around, looking at his back. It was about time he started walking alongside, instead. Daiki made a pleased sound at the thought and pushed off the wall, stretching. For the first time in a long time, he was looking forward to the next game.

Maybe afterwards he’d find go find Kise again.


Last Modified: Sep 17, 13
Posted: Aug 01, 12
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Twelve Views of Summer

Twelve kisses between Kuroko, Kagami, Aomine, and Kise. Can be read as poly or as six separate timelines. Character Sketch, Light Porn, I-2

Kuroko Tetsuya

When they were together, Kagami wrapped himself around Tetsuya until Tetsuya felt like he might drown, go under the surface of all the Kagami-ness and not come back up. But he kissed gentle and hesitant, mouth moving lightly against Tetsuya’s, like he was never sure he was doing it right.

Tetsuya thought he was doing just fine, and reached up to wrap a hand around the back of Kagami’s neck and keep him there so they could do it some more.

Kise kissed the same way he looked at people, coaxing and charming, dropping tiny kisses at the corners of Tetsuya’s mouth until Tetsuya relaxed against him—relaxed into the hand on his back and arched his spine to tip his head back far enough to meet Kise straight on. Because, of course, that was the other way Kise looked at people, when he was ready to stop playing around: direct and hot. When he kissed like that, Tetsuya relaxed against him all the way.

Aomine twined around Tetsuya like a cat, until Tetsuya wondered lightly if Aomine was trying to mark him. Aomine laughed and purred against his ear until Tetsuya couldn’t stay still any longer and batted him away, and he was smiling when Aomine swooped in to catch his mouth. Aomine kissed as open as a laugh, but he tasted as wild as his game had gotten, and as they kissed he slowly pulled Tetsuya tighter and tighter against him.

Tetsuya let him, because Aomine wasn’t the only possessive one.

Kagami Taiga

It hadn’t taken Taiga very long to figure out that Kuroko’s bland expression hid something a little scary. Something unrelenting and fearless. It was still always a shock to actually see it, and it had been just as much of a shock the day Kuroko gave him a long, thoughtful look and then leaned down over the bench and kissed him. It hadn’t been an aggressive kiss, but the firm heat of Kuroko’s mouth against his had made him go still.

It was a shock every time, in a way, but he kind of liked it that way, and he was careful when he spread his hands against Kuroko’s back, careful so he’d stay close.

The first time Aomine had kissed him, Taiga had been in the middle of challenging him to a one-on-one, and now he couldn’t actually use the phrase without feeling his ears getting hot. Not around Aomine, at least. Which made Aomine smirk, which meant Taiga had no choice but to haul him closer and kiss it away. It took a little while to get to the actual game, sometimes, but that was okay. Aomine kissed just like he played, hot and wild and pushing until Taiga pushed back, pushed him against the fence or the post itself, which was when Aomine finally relaxed, tension easing away under Taiga’s hands. That was when Aomine played a lazy, wicked, drawn-out game, or a bright, fast-flying, laughing one.

Not always on the court, but that was okay too.

Kise should be a relaxing kind of guy to hang out with, as easy-going as he acted most of the time. But he really, really wasn’t, not once you saw what was on the other side of the easy-going. Taiga never really relaxed around Kise unless Kise was showing that flip side, the one where his eyes made you think of a fucking sword even when he was smiling.

Well, okay, he also relaxed when Kise was wrapped around him making soft sounds into his mouth, sounds that made Taiga go slow with him the way he never would have on the court. But kissing, he maintained no matter how much Kise teased him over it, was different. He knew he was right, because saying that made Kise’s eyes turn as soft as the sounds he made.

Aomine Daiki

The day Tetsuya let Daiki kiss him, something in Daiki that had been wound tight finally eased. It finally felt right, again. Maybe Tetsu wasn’t at his side on the court any longer, but this, it was like one of Tetsu’s passes. Something burning through the air. Something so heavy and direct it was impossible to catch, but Tetsu trusted him to catch it anyway. So he caught it and held it, held Tetsu to him, and licked at the tiny, familiar quirk in the corners of Tetsu’s mouth. The way Tetsu laced his hands around the back of Daiki’s neck told him everything was all right again.

Kise kissed like a challenge, and where they went from there was up to Daiki. If he stood firm and kissed back gently, Kise softened and leaned against him and smiled the private smile only friends got to see. If he caught Kise up, spinning him off his feet, laughing over the centimeters of advantage he still had, Kise would laugh with him, bright and happy and true. And if he held Kise hard, kissed back rough and wanting, Kise would turn wild in his arms until they were both wrung out and exhausted.

Sometimes Daiki thought Kise reflected, not a copy, but all the true bits of himself. When he thought that, he wondered a little at how much of Kise there seemed to be.

Daiki liked the way Kagami kissed, though he never said so out loud. He liked Kagami’s weight against him, liked how completely straightforward he was. No bullshit, no holding back.

Considering that, he also found it kind of funny that Kagami was so gentle about it. However wild they started, and Daiki liked wild after all, sooner or later Kagami’s mouth on his turned slow and hot and wet. And that made Daiki not miss the wildness.

Kise Ryouta

Kuroko was a godawful tease, was the thing.

It kind of got Ryouta hot, because he knew how that game was played, and Kuroko could play it right down to the hilt.

So it was a game to get kisses from Kuroko, to tease him back until he decided to finally respond. To feel him turn lightly aside until Ryouta gave in and turned serious. To feel Kuroko finally turn toward him and open his mouth under Ryouta’s.

He was never sure who won those games, but the intentness of Kuroko’s kiss made him not care.

There were times when Kagami scared Ryouta a little. Not because of his strength or his loudness or his vast social awkwardness, or any of the things that Ryouta knew probably alarmed other people. Because he never looked away. To Kagami, Ryouta’s charm for his fans and edge for his opponents and even his quietness for a friend were all the same. Kagami kissed him the same way, no matter what, always warm and steady. Ryouta loved it, and it freaked him out, and even then Kagami just held him.

What did you do with someone like that?

So far, the answer seemed to be: let him hold you and kiss you quiet.

Aomine kissed like a wind blowing through, no matter what mood he was in, always sweeping you up in itself. Bright and laughing or fierce and wild, it always swept Ryouta up. And when Aomine was holding Ryouta tight against him and whispering, between kisses, just what he was going to do to Ryouta, how hard it would be, how good…

…well, it was easy to say yes. To throw away caution and wondering about what this might do to his image and whether his agency would yell at him over it, and just kiss back. It was like swallowing fire, and he strained into Aomine’s arms for more of it.

The satisfied sound Aomine made, when he did, poured heat right down his spine.

This he had won, and he would not let it go.


Last Modified: Sep 09, 15
Posted: Aug 05, 12
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Kantoku Means I Love You

Some possible reasons Kiyoshi calls Aida "Riko" while Hyuuga calls her "Kantoku". Unabashed Fluff, I-2

Character(s): Aida Riko, Hyuuga Junpei
Pairing(s): Riko/Hyuuga

Hyuuga Junpei could feel all his muscles protesting feebly as he hauled himself up the last step to the pedestrian overpass on his way home. The pain of the killer workout they’d all been put through for the first day of the new basketball club reminded him of other annoyances, and he glanced over his shoulder at his companion.

“And why is Kiyoshi calling you ‘Riko’, anyway?” he demanded.

Riko rolled her eyes so hard she nearly missed her own first step up to the walkway. “Because he said to call him Teppei, so I said to call me Riko. It would feel weird if he were ‘Aida-san’ing me while I called him Teppei.”

“So call him Kiyoshi, like everyone else in the school,” Junpei argued. Like, for example, he did, and then it wouldn’t seem like the too-perceptive, infuriatingly-determined bastard had stolen his childhood friend.

Alarmingly, Riko grinned. “Yeah, but he gets this sad expression whenever I do. It’s kind of cute, actually.”

Junpei hitched his bag glumly up over his shoulder and stumped down the stairs on the other side. Cute. Great.

“What’s the problem with it, anyway?” Riko demanded, elbowing him as they started down the street of little shops and restaurants that led toward home. “You call me Riko, after all.”

“Yeah, but…” Junpei stifled the rest of his sentence before but you invited him to could get out of his mouth. Even in his own head, that sounded stupid and childish, and if he said it out loud Riko would probably be annoyed at him. Actually, given how annoyed at him she’d been for most of the past year, she’d probably hit him. It was bad enough that she’d taken to calling him Hyuuga-kun months ago, and still hadn’t stopped. “Never mind,” he muttered. After a long moment, broken only by Riko’s predictable distraction over the Rilakkuma phone straps being sold at the stall beside the bakery, he added, “Besides, if you’re our coach, now, the whole team should be calling you Kantoku.”

Riko laughed. “I could get used to that, maybe. After all, I’m going to be putting you all through hell like a good coach should.”

The brightness of a good challenge lit up her whole face, and Junpei’s stomach did ridiculous flip-flops just to see that. “Well then.” He cleared his throat and tried to make sure he didn’t sound breathless at all. “I’ll rely on you. Kantoku.”

She grinned up at him, and linked her arm through his for a few steps, and Junpei smiled helplessly back. He had a feeling he was going to be calling her that a lot, just to see this sparkle in her. He was clearly, completely, and totally doomed.

He was maybe kind of okay with that, though.

“So, what are you going to inflict on us tomorrow?” he asked.

The sparkle turned to a gleam, and Riko cracked her knuckles ominously. “Well, I was thinking about that…”

He listened to her planning their death from exhaustion, and nodded along agreeably, and even made a few suggestions for the footwork drills. She teased him about acting all captain-ly already, and he smiled crookedly and agreed. Captain and coach had to work together a lot, after all. No matter how big and infuriating an idiot fate had inflicted on him to drag him back to basketball, and no matter how well Kiyoshi seemed to get along with Riko, Junpei and Riko would have this. For three years, if he wasn’t stupid enough to throw it away again.

Yeah, maybe he was okay with doomed.


Last Modified: Sep 17, 13
Posted: Aug 15, 12
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Chrysanthemum Tea

Aomine reflects a bit on on the effect Kuroko’s had on him, and where Kuroko has brought him to by the season’s end. Spoilers for anime-only fans. Character Sketch with Drama and Fluff, I-3

Looking back, he’d felt it first during the Interhigh preliminaries when he’d seen, when he’d experienced, Tetsu’s fierce rejection of despair. He’d seen a whole team lock together around Tetsu’s unwillingness to give up no matter how they lost, and a flicker, just a flicker, of something like hope had brushed over that court.

It had reminded him, for an instant, of the lightness he used to feel playing with Tetsu. At least until he saw that Tetsu had understood the difference between their games, and had to wonder whether even Tetsu would be coming back after that.

When he’d been dragged to the Winter Cup preliminaries though, to see Seirin play that bastard Hanamiya, he’d remembered again. Watching Tetsu’s new senpai put their game and all their chances in Tetsu’s hands, watching them accept pass after twisting, unpredictable pass, he’d remembered doing that himself, trusting like that. Remembered a time it had seemed necessary. Remembered how good it had felt. To win, of course, when that had still been in doubt.

He missed that.

So he pushed them, pushed Satsuki to convince their captain to challenge Seirin directly, as soon as they knew the bracket for the Winter Cup. Pushed Kagami to understand what he had to do, if he really wanted to be a challenge. And if he also left Tetsu with his water bottle, well it wasn’t like he’d forgotten they were friends just because they were enemies.

And when he’d seen them on the court, he’d known he’d been right to push. Kagami had advanced, and that was enough to please him for a while right there. But he’d also felt something at the start of the game that he’d never felt before. Tetsu’s presence. Not just his determination, not just unsupported spirit, but the weight in his sense of the court created by a player who had his own strength. He wanted to taste that strength, to push against it and feel it push back, and it was a thrill just like he’d expected. Not hope, he wasn’t stupid enough to hope, he told himself firmly, but a thrill. That was the best he had, these days, and the ache of knowing that made him angry and rough, even with Tetsu.

Kagami, though, Kagami was a nice surprise.

Actually, Kagami was a shock. A delicious shock. To push and find, not air, not even just resistance, but an unmoving wall, a wall that he could strain against and still not move, a wall he had to break himself open to knock down… he felt like he needed to scream with how good that was.

Just a little, he could relax against that.

And against Tetsu’s ferocity, when he turned his presence outward like an explosion no one could ignore, not even him. Just a little.

Against Seirin’s strength, he could relax just a little, just enough to feel it again. The need that would drive him to where the game opened up. Opened up into brilliance. Into the fire of fighting to win, burning away the numb weight of too many opponents giving up, disappearing, leaving him alone on a cold court. Now he felt the heat again, now he could fight with everything in him, push himself past his limits and feel the wildness of fire, not just of rage.

When that fire burned as high as it could go and that still wasn’t enough, the shock was like glass breaking all around him. Smoked glass, and now he was squinting in sunlight. He felt like he could see again, and what he saw was Tetsu. The reason he had lost. Tetsu… and his partner, who trusted each other so much they burned like the sun.

Their assurance that it wasn’t over yet was warmth to go with the light, another shock but a different kind—not just unexpected but impossible, like landing softly after a long, long fall. Such a long fall he’d long since given himself up for dead, let himself die before he even got to the bottom. Well, here was the bottom, and thanks to those two he’d bounced. The hope he’d first felt a flicker of at the start of the year, even if he hadn’t been able to name it then, and the pain of losing that he’d never expected to feel again both itched at him after that, prodding him to repay them.

Which was, he told himself, why he agreed to coach Tetsu’s shooting. Why he didn’t want Tetsu to lose. Why it stirred something sharp in him, when he wondered whether Akashi had deliberately reduced Tetsu’s strength.

Quarter-finals, at least, he could blame on Satsuki. He had less excuse for cold-cocking that idiot Shougo, after, but at least Shougo was the only one who actually heard his reasons. And it was clearly Satsuki’s fault that he wound up bringing Kagami shoes for the semi-finals. But he couldn’t really pretend that his brief match with Kagami, then, was anything other than a deliberate teaching game; not under the calm knowing of Tetsu’s eyes, and his tiny smile. Still, he knew he owed them, and it was easy enough to tell himself that was why.

He didn’t really break until the final match. Watching them on the court, the way they held each other up and drove each other forward, he knew that he wanted to touch that again. Wanted to taste that kind of trust again. Wanted the light that his shadow brought with him. That was why he laughed, no matter how strange a look Satsuki gave him. It was Tetsu’s victory, all right, complete and inescapable.

When the match ended, maybe he’d find Tetsu and tell him so.


A/N: In hanakotoba, chrysanthemum indicate truth (saving gold chrysanthemum, which are the crest of the imperial family). In Chinese traditional medicine, chrysanthemum is also used for clarifying vision or reducing eye-strain.

Last Modified: Sep 17, 13
Posted: Aug 22, 12
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Strong as Freesia

After the finals of the Winter cup, Kuroko finds Aomine waiting for him. They finally have a long-overdue discussion about what happened in their third year. Implied spoilers for anime-only fans. Drama with Minor Angst, I-3

Kuroko Tetsuya walked the last bit of his way home alone, after Kagami turned off onto his own street, letting the quiet settle over him. As the echoes of his team’s voices, of exultation and disbelief and, really, quite a lot of screaming died away, they left one thing behind.

They had won.

He had won. Not alone, of course, but… that had been his point all along. It was Tetsuya’s game, and the team he had chosen, that had won through to the end. And it felt good, it felt… warm. Not like the icy, isolated victories of his third year. No, this reminded him of something further back—their second year, when Kise had just joined them and Aomine still laughed and bounced gleefully at winning, when Midorima’s calm had still had a little humor in it and Murasakibara’s temper had still had a playful edge. When Akashi still smiled at them like he really saw who was in front of him.

Tetsuya tipped his head back and looked up at the sky, past the intermittent glow of his neighborhood’s streetlights and door lamps. It didn’t hurt as much to think about that time, now.

When he turned in at his house and saw who was waiting, though, perched on the low front wall with his breath showing white in the chill air, it was still a shock.


“Tetsu.” He didn’t say anything more, and after a long moment Tetsuya moved to unlock the door.

“Come in. Please excuse the mess.”

Aomine kicked his shoes off in the entry, glancing around the dark lower floor. “Your mom isn’t home yet?”

“She’s traveling for work, this week.” Tetsu hung his jacket neatly, reaching out by reflex to take Aomine’s before he could toss it over the shoe rack. Then he had to take a slow breath before he could go on. “She sent me a good luck message earlier today.”

Aomine’s mouth tilted up on one side. “Yeah, that’s oba-san.” He wandered through to the living room and stood at the wide front window while Tetsuya busied himself with pouring them both water in the kitchen. Aomine didn’t like tea, even on cold nights.

“Congratulations,” Aomine called from the next room. “It was a good game.”

Tetsuya paused in the doorway, glasses in his hands, watching Aomine across the room. “Do you really think so?”

“Oh come on.” Aomine hunched his shoulders a little, hands shoved in the pockets of his jeans. “I always liked your game.” He leaned one shoulder against the window frame, still looking out. “That’s why I got so pissed off when you left.”

Tetsuya set the glasses down on the low table a bit harder than he’d meant to, water splashing up against the sides. “You were the one who left first,” he answered shortly. He sat down on the couch, closing his hands on his knees, as Aomine finally turned away from the window looking startled.

“I didn’t go anywhere! You were the one who vanished after the final match and dropped your resignation off without seeing a single one of us!”

“I’m surprised you noticed.” Tetsuya could hear his own voice turning sharp and didn’t bother to stop it. “You spent most of that year acting like I wasn’t there on the court at all. Even this year… you kept saying I was your shadow, but it was like you’d forgotten how to see me until we played at the Winter Cup.” And now, now after all this, Aomine wanted to scold him for leaving? He looked back at his old partner flatly, mouth tight.

Aomine hesitated that that, and finally sighed, coming to thump down cross-legged on the floor by the couch. “Sorry,” he said, low, reaching out to curl long fingers around one of the glasses, though he didn’t drink, just ran his fingertips through the condensation on the sides. “I just… I couldn’t, Tetsu. That whole year, it was like… like there was nothing under me any more and I was falling. Everyone just gave up, and there was nothing there, nothing to stand on or lean against, everything I loved best just gone! And when we played together… our game together is so strong, Tetsu, it just made it worse.” He took a drink and set the glass back down with a restless clack. “I hated the way you left, but I was almost glad when the rest of the team split up. Where else was I going to get a decent game any more?” He propped an elbow on the cushion beside Tetsuya, still looking down. “And even then… I figured once I’d actually played them seriously, they’d give up too, you know? Like everyone else did, and that would be it.”

One part of Tetsuya’s mind turned that over, thinking that now Aomine’s distant look during the preliminary matches in the spring, and his harshness during the the winter match, made much more sense. He’d expected Tetsuya and Kagami to give up, too, and he’d been angry over it. The bigger part of him, though, was buzzing, whiting out into the slow rise of memory and anger.

Aomine still hadn’t seen. Hadn’t understood what he’d done, that last year at Teikou.

“You didn’t give up, though,” Aomine went on, quieter. “Kise either.” He flashed a lopsided grin up at Tetsuya. “I’m glad.”

“No,” Tetsuya said softly, “we never gave up. But you did.”

Aomine blinked up at him, eyes widening a little. “What?”

“You gave up on me. You gave up on our team. You gave up on the game.” Tetsuya looked down at his old partner, recognizing his alarm at Tetsuya’s anger and not caring. “I was there to lean against. So was our team, until you turned away from them. And you turned away from me just like your opponents turned away from you. The one thing I loved most, Aomine-kun, the game I could play as part of that team. Gone, just like you said.” Feeling that simmering hurt and frustration well up again, he drove home the point with brutal bluntness. “You gave up, and you took that away from me, and you left me behind in the same place you were trying to escape. You climbed over me, trying to get out, and pushed me down deeper, and didn’t even notice.”

Aomine was pale by the time he was done, one hand clenched on the edge of the couch so tight Tetsuya wondered distantly whether the fabric would tear. “I… did that to you?” he whispered. "Really?"

Tetsuya nodded silently, waiting.

“I…” A shudder ran through Aomine, and he bent his head abruptly, pressing his forehead against Tetsuya’s leg. “I… Tetsu…” Tetsuya could see his throat move as he swallowed convulsively, see the gleam of his eyes, wide open and staring blindly at nothing. “I’m sorry,” he finally choked. “I’m sorry, Tetsu. I never…”

Tetsuya felt a little shaky himself. His mother had told him, years ago when his parents first separated, that he could let anger drive him but never rule him. He hadn’t known until now, he thought, what she’d meant.

He’d hurt, yes. For a long time. But he didn’t want to hurt Aomine in return; he wanted his friend back. That was what he’d fought for all this year. So he took another breath to loosen the tightness in his chest, and rested his hand on Aomine’s back. “It’s better now,” he said more gently. “I found a team and a partner. You came back. You saw me on the court, again. It’s all right now. Just don’t go away like that again.”

Slowly Aomine quieted, shaking tension easing back out of his shoulders and neck under Tetsuya’s hand. Finally he said, low, “You brought me back. You and Kagami.” A soft snort of laughter, a little pained. “He didn’t give up, either. Maybe he really is stronger, some ways at least.”

“Mmm.” Tetsuya rubbed his fingers over the line of Aomine’s shoulder. “I knew better, this time, how to keep him away from the edge.” How to hold his partner steady in the storm of talent and challenge and pride and frustration and eagerness that was tournament season. After a long, quiet moment, he finally added. “I bet this wasn’t why you came to see me tonight, though.” He felt Aomine wince under his hand.

“I… I was remembering. Sometimes, after a game, I’d go home with you. And we’d wind down from the match, and if your mom was here she’d listen and cheer us on, and sometimes, if it was still early, we’d go find a court and play around.” He was quiet for a long moment, and Tetsuya waited for him. Finally he said, very low, “I’d like to play with you again, some time.”

That warm feeling of a happy victory bloomed through Tetsuya again, easing the last edge of his anger, and he smiled. “Yes. I’d like that too.”

Aomine finally lifted his head, eyes dark. “Even though?”

Even though he’d done such a painful thing to Tetsuya. The very thing that had driven Aomine to such wildness.

Tetsuya thought about it, letting his hand rest where it was. “Yes,” he said finally, very sure. “Even though.”

Aomine leaned against his knees, not speaking, but relief was in every line of his body. Tetsuya finally leaned forward for his water glass, to take a drink. He felt wrung out, inside, and very in need of it. As he settled back, Aomine folded his arms on Tetsuya’s knees and rested his chin on them. “Kagami too, you think?” he asked, speculatively.

Tetsuya regarded his friend tolerantly. “Yes, you can play Kagami-kun too.”

Aomine grinned up at him, with a shadow of his old, confiding air. “You’re gonna regret saying we could.”

Tetsuya took a composed sip of his water. “If our coach and captain agree, of course,” he specified. Aomine gave him a sulky look and he added, “Momoi-san too.”

“Okay, I’ll be good about it, I give up, I give up!” Aomine declared dramatically, throwing himself back to sprawl over the couch cushion beside Tetsuya. “Except not, of course,” he added.

A familiar bubble of laughter burst in Tetsuya’s chest. “I know.”

Aomine smiled up at him, upside down and crooked. “Tetsu… I didn’t say it earlier, but… thanks.”

Tetsuya rested a hand on his shoulder again, and they sat together quietly for a long moment.

“So, hey, what’s to eat around here?” Aomine finally asked.

“You sound just like Kagami-kun,” Tetsuya told him, straight-faced. The resulting protests took them most of the way through the the instant noodles that Tetsuya made, and that Aomine ate two thirds of.

He supposed there was some justice in Aomine’s indignation. Kagami would have eaten at least three quarters of it. On the other hand, he’d probably have done the cooking himself, and made something besides just noodles.

Tetsuya watched his friend across the small kitchen table, drinking in all the little things he remembered: the wide gestures and the way Aomine talked through a mouthful of food and the flicker of light in his eyes, still fitful but getting stronger again as they talked over Seirin’s match against Rakuzan. This was what he had fought for, and the fight had brought him a new team, good senpai, a new partner, and finally his old partner back again. This had turned out to be a good road.

He would keep going down it.


A/N: In hanakotoba, freesia indicate immaturity or childishness, but also the purity of innocence.

Last Modified: Sep 17, 13
Posted: Aug 24, 12
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The Shade of Sunflowers

Upon the retirement of the third years, Kise gets a bit of a shock over his captain’s plans for his future. Drama, I-2

Kise Ryouta stood rooted to the polished floor of Kaijou’s locker room, staring at his captain and coach. “You… but…”

Kasamatsu-senpai gave him faint, tilted smile. “You think maybe Hayakawa is a better choice?”

Ryouta ran a helpless hand through his hair. “Well, no, but…”

“I told you when you joined, Kise,” Takeuchi-kantoku rumbled, “you’re going to be the core of the team. Get used to it already.”

“But making a first-year captain…! Ow,” he added, as Kasamatsu-senpai smacked him on the arm.

“Quit whining,” his captain ordered. “Now we’re retiring, you’re as good as a second-year. And Kantoku is right about this; it’s time you got serious about the club.”

“I am serious!” Ryouta protested, indignant. Hadn’t he proven that during the tournaments, this year?

“Including when you’re not having fun in a tight game,” Kasamatsu-senpai specified, and Ryouta ducked his head, cheeks a little hot. Okay, he guessed he did kind of toy with people outside of games, but it was reflex! His agency had pretty much trained the charm into him, and how else was he supposed to get any amusement out of being a public figure since middle-school, for pity’s sake?

Besides, he mostly on did it to Kasamatsu-senpai, on his own team. Kasamatsu-senpai gave him a look like he’d heard the thought, and Ryouta ducked his head further, hiding a tiny grin.

“It’s not like you can’t lead,” Takeuchi-kantoku told him heartlessly. “Time to step up and do it. Kasamatsu, you said you have the rest of this?”

Kasamatsu-senpai waved a hand. “Yeah, I’ve got it.”

“The rest of what?” Ryouta asked a bit warily, as their coach took himself out, nudging the door shut behind him. Kasamatsu-senpai sat down on one of the benches, elbows on his knees.

“Listen, Kise, you still have one serious weakness. You aren’t experienced enough.”

“That’s what I was just trying to tell you!”

Kasamatsu-senpai stuck a foot out and booted him in the thigh. “Shut up; I said listen.”

Ryouta considered cowering dramatically, but the look in Kasamatsu-senpai’s eyes was serious, so he leaned back against the lockers and listened quietly.

“You have incredible potential, and you’re developing it fast. That’s good. But you’ve still only been playing for under three years. You can’t read the situation on the court very well yet. You need to fix that.”

Ryouta bit his lip; he’d known that was why Kasamatsu-senpai had taken him to watch the Tokyo preliminaries, had brought him to every other match they could manage and talked him through every one. “Is there anyone else?” he asked, tentatively. “Anyone else in the club who knows that the way you do?”

A corner of Kasamatsu-senpai’s mouth curled up, not happily. “Not really, though I’ll tell you now that you should listen to Kataoka; he’ll probably make the best point-guard, after me, for that matter. But no. You’re going to have to learn this yourself.”

“But…!” Ryouta protested. “If it’s a matter of experience…”

“It’s patterns, Kise.” Kasamatsu-senpai leaned forward intently. “And that’s what you do best. You just need to see more of them. So here’s what you’re going to do.” He pointed to a stack of two cardboard boxes sitting by the door. “You’re going to watch recordings of as many different games as I could lay hands on. Watch them like you were looking at a new move to make your own, but don’t just watch the moves. Watch the flow of the game, see what positions people have when plays happen.”

Ryouta calculated how many DVDs those two boxes could hold and quailed. “But…!” This time it came out a little desperate.

Expecting an admonitory kick, he stilled when Kasamatsu-senpai just looked up at him instead, quiet and serious.

“You can do this, Kise. I know you can. Will you?”

Ryouta slumped back against the lockers, helpless in face of that kind of trust. “I…” Slowly he let his breath out and bowed his head. “Yes, Captain,” he said, low.

“Senpai,” Kasamatsu-senpai corrected, pushing up onto his feet. “You’re the team’s captain, now.” He reached up and rested a hand on Ryouta’s shoulder, steadying him the way he’d done for Ryouta all year.

Ryouta smiled, small and rueful. “Yeah, I guess I am. But you’re the one who put me there. In a lot of different ways,” he finished softly.

Answering softness flickered over Kasamatsu-senpai’s face for a moment. “You’re welcome. Now come on. We have time to watch the first match from that set before it’s dark.”

Ryouta made a mournful face. “Yes, senpai.” He collected a reassuringly brisk smack across the shoulder for that, and trailed along obediently as Kasamatsu-senpai rummaged out a disk and pulled Ryouta down onto the bench in front of the team’s DVD player. At least, Ryouta reassured himself, he wasn’t being thrown over the edge of captaincy alone. He had his senpai’s trust and advice to go with him.

How far those would carry him, he wasn’t sure. But he was going to hang on tight to them anyway.


A/N: In hanakotoba, sunflowers indicate love and respect.

Last Modified: Sep 17, 13
Posted: Aug 29, 12
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7 readers sent Plaudits.

Colored Like Zinnias

After the Winter Cup, Kuroko is still dealing with old anxiety about his new team, and needs to be reassured that he isn’t the only one watching over his partner. Drama, Character Sketch, I-3

The afternoon was bright and chill, and winter sunlight slanted in the high windows of the Seirin gymnasium to glow on the floor. The Winter Cup was over and Seirin’s basketball club had settled into their off-season training schedule, which was…

“Again, faster this time!”

…not actually very different. Tetsuya scrubbed his sleeve over his forehead and trotted back to the starting line for today’s sprints. The squeak of shoes and the hoarse draw of each wave’s breathing echoed off the walls, and Tetsuya settled himself into position for the next sprint with a warm sense of familiarity. The sounds, the feel of the air on his skin, the flex of muscles pushing to the limit, all of this whispered to him that he was right where he should be.

“Furihata, your ankles are wobbling all over the place, twenty scissors hops!” their coach barked, watching the dash with a predatory gleam in her eye. “Kuroko, I didn’t see your sprint at all, do another!”

A tiny smile curved Tetsuya’s mouth despite the slow burn in his calves. “Yes, Kantoku.” He liked how easily his senpai took his habit of concealment in stride, lately. He felt like he belonged, again.

“All right,” she called, when he’d finished. “That’s enough drills, let’s loosen up a little. Five against five, twenty minute match!”

The other first-years were starting to have the endurance to play for longer, mixed in among the regulars, and Tetsuya was starting to feel like he could give them harder passes. That was good. He didn’t know what the team would look like by their third year, but he was starting to hope that they wouldn’t shame their senpai’s determination, following after them. He felt a quick thrill of pressure, even here in practice, as Izuki-senpai dodged straight into his pass route, obviously knowing where the ball should go next.

“Fukuda, mark Kagami!” Izuki-senpai called, and Tetsuya could feel the shrinking possibilities of the next move, like a band tightening around his arms. Fukuda had fallen back to guard Kagami along with Mitobe-senpai, Izuki-senpai was staying between Tetsuya and Kawahara, Hyuuga-senpai was between him and the basket and Koganei-senpai wouldn’t be able to stop him from interfering if Tetsuya tried to make his own drive. Tetsuya abandoned his planned play and passed backwards to Furihata instead; if he could get further inside the defense and draw Hyuuga-senpai’s attention, he could pass to Koganei-senpai and let him shoot from up close.

Perhaps, he thought later, he had taken his senpai’s words about focusing more on his individual game a little too much to heart. For a moment, he forgot just how much it frustrated Kagami to be kept out of the action.

Even Tetsuya almost didn’t see it happen. In the moment Tetsuya passed the ball, Kagami ducked back, away from his two markers, and spun around them, impossibly graceful, deadly fast, to intercept the ball himself. He drove for the basket like there was nothing else on the court, and Hyuuga-senpai feinted around Koganei-senpai to lunge for Kagami. Kagami leaped from yards out, and Tetsuya’s breath caught; it was a beautiful move, calculated to make any attempt to stop him into a foul. It was also a big risk for a player whose accuracy was still shaky at longer ranges. Tsuchida-senpai was running to support, to catch any rebound, but Tetsuya could see he wouldn’t be in time. Neither would Tetsuya himself. Koganei-senpai had even worse accuracy than Kagami and was at a bad angle.

It was all up to Kagami.

Tetsuya felt like the court was holding its breath as the ball flew, and he let his breath out along with Kawahara’s cheer when it went in. There was a shaky feeling in his stomach, though.

“Kagami!” Hyuuga-senpai bellowed, hands on his hips. “What the hell was that? You completely outran your team, what were you thinking making a risky shot like that, unsupported, when the other side’s outside scorer was near the basket? If it hadn’t gone in, and I’d gotten the ball, you’d have been screwed!”

Kagami blinked at the lecture. “Well, I had to, didn’t I? None of you can keep up with me.”

The simple, matter-of-fact tone made Tetsuya’s hand flinch into a fist. It was true, and that was the worst part. The feeling of familiarity was back, but it wasn’t pleasant this time. It felt more like something smothering him. Was this always how it had to go, even with Kagami, even after the balance they’d found this season? Had Kise been right after all? Would Tetsuya have to go through this with every partner?

Hyuuga-senpai smacked Kagami briskly across the back of the head.


“Moron,” Hyuuga-senpai said calmly. “The whole point of being on the same team is that we know your moves and you know ours. We don’t have to be as fast as you, we just have to know what you might do so we can make coherent plays. So.” He glanced around, beckoning everyone closer. “If Kagami is double marked, we can assume he’ll get free, as long as he’s not right up against the boundary. Work with that thought in mind.” He glanced at the other first-years in particular. “Just like you keep in mind that I can make outside shots and that you watch Izuki for cues and that if the ball is suddenly in your hands you don’t bother wondering why, just assume Kuroko thinks you’re clear.” A laugh ran through the club and Hyuuga-senpai smiled faintly. “All right, then, let’s go. It’s Black side’s ball!”

Tetsuya nearly floated through the rest of practice on the warm wave of his relief.

Kagami seemed to take the whole episode in stride, and think nothing of it, either during the rest of the mini-game or during their captain’s dissection of it after. He was no more or less impatient and mannerless than always, made the usual faces at the partnered training exercises the coach heaped on him and still did exactly as she said. Tetsuya thought about that, as he rolled his towel into his bag, and decided it was a good sign.

“Hey.” Kagami nudged his shoulder as Tetsuya fished out his shoes. “Hurry up or I’m going without you.”

Just like always, when Kagami was hungry. “Go ahead, I’ll catch up,” Tetsuya told him, and smiled inwardly at the way Kagami rolled his eyes and slouched out the door on the trail of obscene amounts of food, hands jammed into his pockets. Just as always, but not quite familiar. Not yet. Maybe that was a good sign, too, for their team, that so many things about it were still unfamiliar to him. It could have been a lot worse, certainly, with a coach or captain who couldn’t handle Kagami, or who just wouldn’t; he’d seen what kind of team that made, too often this past season, and at Teikou before that. If he hadn’t chosen Seirin… if Kagami hadn’t chosen Seirin… Tetsuya remembered what the Fukuda Sougou team had become, what the Kirisaki Daiichi team had let themselves be, how wild Touou had let Aomine run, and a shudder shook his whole body. The laces of his shoe snapped as his fingers tightened hard, and he put his head down on his knees to breathe through the sick jolt of those might-have-beens, nightmares riding the remains of the scare he’d had earlier.

“You all right?” Hyuuga-senpai’s hand came down on his shoulder. “If you’ve been over-training outside of practice, you know Kantoku will skin you…”

“I’m fine,” Tetsuya said, a little breathless still. “I’m not worn out. It’s just…” He swallowed down the last of that fear, pushing it back with the memory of this captain’s steady hand on the team. “Thank you.”

“What for?” There was a bit of a laugh in Hyuuga-senpai’s voice, though he left his hand where it was as Tetsuya straightened again. “It’s my job to look after all of you, isn’t it?”

“For doing that, then,” Tetsuya said quietly to his hands as he knotted the broken lace of his shoe. “It isn’t easy, is it? Especially sometimes.” Especially for Kagami.

“Ah. That.” Hyuuga-senpai shook him a little. “First-years shouldn’t worry so much. No matter what kind of monster I wind up with on my team, I won’t let him run away with himself.” His hand tightened. “Just like I won’t let you stand still. Still going to thank me?”

Hyuuga-senpai was teasing, but Kuroko could hear that he was also serious. He meant what he said, and the thought of being pushed like that, pushed by someone of Hyuuga-senpai’s integrity, made excitement and trepidation and hope tangle together in his chest. He needed to keep finding new parts of his game, things he’d never thought he could do, things he’d never been encouraged to try; Hyuuga-senpai would make sure he kept going, the way Akashi never had.

Tetsuya knew other people had a hard time reading his expression, but he hoped that his gratitude showed at least a little, as he looked up. “Yes, Captain. I will.”

Hyuuga-senpai’s smile was crooked. “Thought you might. That’s why you belong here. Remember it.”

Tetsuya lowered his eyes and nodded. “Yes, Captain.” It wasn’t familiar, what he felt now. Not exactly. But that was all right.

He was happy.


A/N: In hanakotoba, Zinnias/Hyakunichisou indicate loyalty.

Last Modified: Sep 17, 13
Posted: Aug 31, 12
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4 readers sent Plaudits.

Bellflowers Ring Silently

Aomine is straying. Kagami is enthusiastic. Momoi has a plan. And Riko is going to make this all come out right, no matter how many basketball idiots of either gender she has to wrangle to do it. Drama with Developing Friendship, I-3

Aida Riko didn’t like Momoi Satsuki. The girl was far too presumptuous, for one thing, and for another all of Riko’s idiot boys were too busy ogling Momoi every time they met to remember that this was a scout, this was a spy, this was the enemy, with a better analytical head on her shoulders than even Teppei. It wasn’t better than Riko’s, though, which was why she had the sense to be wary. So when her phone chimed in the middle of practice, and the name at the top of the message was Momoi’s, Riko was instantly on guard.

And then she read it and was just puzzled.

Send dai-chan back pls. Captain very upset.

“Who on earth…?” Riko muttered to herself, frowning. It took a minute to connect Dai-chan with Aomine Daiki, and then she rolled her eyes.

Middle of practice. she sent back. Why would he be he

“You guys are still going? Jeez, take a break already.”

Riko glanced up at the unfamiliar voice, and her thumb skidded across her phone when she saw Aomine Daiki leaning around the outside door, eyeing Seirin’s practice with disgruntlement.

“Aomine-kun,” Kuroko greeted him, a little breathless where he was chinning himself up on the bars set into the wall, as per Riko’s orders. “Are you skipping practice again?”

“Yes, he is,” Riko snapped. “And apparently his captain is angry about it, which I can completely understand.”

Aomine just flicked his fingers carelessly, downright lounging in the door frame. “He gets pissed off over everything.” Then he paused and cocked his head at her. “How do you know?”

Riko waved her phone. “Your keeper texted, asking us to send you back.” Then she saw her screen and paused to glare at it. She’d hit send when Aomine startled her, and now Momoi had replied, Told you so.

“Satsuki’s always interfering,” Aomine said, watching her under his lashes. “No reason to do her errands for her, right?”

Riko hesitated, torn between not wanting to do Momoi’s errands and being a responsible coach, and also being annoyed that this too-tall, too-talented brat had seen exactly how she was feeling.

“Aomine!” Kagami had finally noticed their visitor, and stopped noticing anything else including the formation he was supposed to be practicing. The ball flew straight past him as he stepped toward the doors, showing his teeth. “Here for a rematch?”

“Isn’t that supposed to be for the one who lost?” Aomine shot back with a lazy, equally toothy, smile. “Last I checked, that was you.”

“Try me again!”

Riko rubbed her forehead. “Both of you shut up!” she barked. “Kagami, get back to work or I’ll triple your training drills! And you,” she rounded on Aomine, who had the good sense to look just a little uneasy as she marched towards him. “If you want a match with any of my players, you can just get your coach to set it up with me. Now out!” She body-checked him out the door, ignoring his squawk of protest. “You have your own practice to be at.”

“But the drills are boring.” He gave her a downright pleading look that nearly made her doubt her own memory of him on the court, as dark and sharp there as he was open and entreating now. “Just one match?”

She could hear Kagami, inside, asking Hyuuga the same thing, and scrubbed a hand over her face. “If you wait quietly out here and don’t interfere,” she said, irresistibly reminded of certain small cousins she’d babysat for, and negotiations over bedtime, “you can have a one-on-one after practice ends. A short one.”

He grinned at her, bright and happy and wicked around the edges. “Okay!” He hopped up to sit on the edge of the tall planters that lined the walk around the building.

Riko shook her head and went back in, closing the door firmly behind her. Maybe Momoi deserved more credit than she’d thought, if she had to manage that one every day. She looked up to see Kagami, Kagami of all people! giving her puppy-dog eyes.

“Kantoku?” he asked, hopefully.

“You really are like a pair of little kids,” she sighed. “After practice. If you pay attention.”

Kagami brightened up just like Aomine had. “Yes, ma’am!” He bounded back to his place on the court, and Riko exchanged a look of helpless amusement with Hyuuga.

At least Kuroko was still calmly working through his repetitions on the bars, even if there was a tiny smile playing around the corners of his mouth.

Not coming back, Riko texted Momoi. Promised 121 later to stop him interfering. Cptn should put leash on him.

Will go shopping today, came back, and even in a text message Riko could tell she was exasperated. She sympathized.

Can put him in your practice? Momoi sent, hopefully, two weeks (and three more visits) later.

Riko stabbed at her phone in aggravation. Show opponent all our tactics, sure right.

Trade. Will put kagamin in our practice when he comes.

Riko blinked at the text in disbelief. “What is this supposed to be, foreign exchange?” Why would kagami be at touou?

All Momoi sent back was:

Riko pursed her lips, looking up at her court, where Kagami and Aomine were dodging around each other, ball flashing through their hands almost faster than the eye could follow. Finally Aomine broke past Kagami and made a clean shot. “I win,” he said, as he landed. “Again.”

“Once more!” Kagami shot back, teeth bared at Aomine even though his eyes were practically sparkling.

Aomine smirked. “You’re way more than one down, you know.”

“Either say no, or gimme the damn ball.”

Aomine bounced the ball across to Kagami, laughing.

Hyuuga, the only one who had stayed late with her to watch, shook his head in disbelief. “I think I love basketball as much as the next person…”

“The next basketball idiot anyway,” she agreed, flipping her phone closed with a sigh.

He ignored that, or maybe just accepted it; Hyuuga was a smart guy sometimes. “…but those two are something else. I think Kagami has actually skipped a meal for this.”

Riko thought about that, and looked down at her phone, and turned around to bang her head against the gymnasium stage a few times. “Why does she have to be right about this?” she asked, muffled. If Kagami was willing to skip meals to play Aomine it wouldn’t take long at all before he really was sneaking off to Touou for more.

“Momoi-san predicted it?” a quiet voice asked from right beside her, and Riko jumped. Right. Of course Kuroko had also stayed behind to watch. It was her own fault for not paying attention, the way she’d learned to during practice itself. She took a long breath to slow her heart rate back down, and managed not to glare when she looked up. Kuroko was perched on the edge of the stage, looking down at her with wide, steady eyes. “Momoi-san knows Aomine-kun very well. And Kagami-kun is a lot like him.”

“I noticed.” Riko turned around again, letting her shoulders thump back against the stage, and accepted the silent support of Hyuuga’s arm pressed against hers. “So, yes, he probably will be sneaking off to Touou pretty soon, now.” How was she going to manage this? It wouldn’t be an entirely bad thing if it weren’t for Kagami’s strategic obliviousness…

“We have a leash for the dog, we can get one for Kagami too,” Hyuuga said darkly, and Riko grinned up at him. Great minds thought alike.

After a long moment, Kuroko spoke up again. “Aomine-kun is a better analyst than Kagami-kun, right now.”

Kuroko saw the real problem too. “Mm. That’s what I’m really concerned about, yes.” Riko watched Kagami finally out-leap Aomine’s guard to slam the ball home. Both of them went immediately for another point, this time, and Riko sighed, exasperated. Enough was enough, and she didn’t want Kagami to over-strain himself. “Kuroko-kun, go stop them.”

Kuroko hopped down from the stage and trotted obediently out onto the court. Riko watched him watch the flow of the match for a moment before stepping into it and effortlessly stealing the ball, holding it while both his current and previous partner protested the interruption loudly. Kuroko really did have an amazing eye for the game, and she swore by the time she graduated she and Hyuuga were going to get him to use that eye for more than his own plays. He waited out Kagami and Aomine’s complaints and said a few quiet words, pointing to the clock on the wall. Eventually, they both gave in and made for their bags against the wall by the door. Kuroko, responsible as ever, put the ball away neatly in the bin before following after. The three of them pushed through the outside door, Kagami and Aomine still arguing over their match while Kuroko, between them, listened with silent amusement.

“Momoi suggests we can just trade them off, incorporate them both into both practices, wherever they happen to be,” she said quietly, once they were gone. “But that won’t be an even trade when it comes to what they pick up about an opponent’s team. If it weren’t for that, I might consider it. It would certainly help Kagami a great deal to train against Aomine with any regularity.”

Hyuuga was looking a little alarmed. “Kantoku. You’re talking about Seirin and Touou playing tournament matches when we already know what the other team is capable of. What kind of game would that be?”

“A challenging one. You like that, right?” Riko’s mouth tilted in a crooked smile. “Momoi seems to have a lot of that information on her books already. It might be very useful to equalize that advantage.” Hyuuga paused, obviously just as caught by the notion as she’d been. If only it could work. She was almost regretting that Kagami couldn’t analyze his opponents on anything but an instinctive level, yet, not like…

Slowly Riko straightened, eyes widening.

“Kantoku?” Hyuuga asked, warily.

Riko snapped her phone open with a flick of her wrist, and her thumb danced over it as she wrote out, Kagami and kuroko both to touou and I agree.

There was a long pause before the answer came back, and when it finally did Riko let herself giggle with wicked satisfaction.

Hyuuga paled. “Kantoku, what are you going to do?”

"I’m going to send Kuroko along." She held up the phone for him to see.


It took another few days before Aomine snuck off to visit them again, and Riko couldn’t quite restrain herself from skipping now and then. Her club kept giving her nervous looks, though she was sure she had no idea why they should. She supposed, on reflection, she might have hummed a little, too.

When Aomine finally showed up, peeking in the outside doors to wave at Kagami and Kuroko, she pounced on him. “There you are! Get in here, Aomine-kun, you’re taking part in drills today!”

“Oh, she has plans for him,” Furihata whispered, in a tone of relief. “Whew!”

“Don’t relax yet, they might still be plans for us too!” Kawahara hissed back.

Riko smiled serenely. It was good to keep her boys on their toes.

“Drills?” Aomine blinked at her as she strolled up to him. “Oh come on, I came here to get away from drill–ow!”

Riko marched him into the gym, fingers locked firmly on his ear. “Too bad. You’re here. You’re practicing.” Her boys were looking at her with a bit of awe, and she gave them a sunny smile. “Now.” She let Aomine go and folded her arms. “Take off your shirt and let me get a look at you.”

“What?!” Aomine looked faintly scandalized. Hyuuga was clearly stifling a laugh as he came and patted Aomine reassuringly on the shoulder.

“She’s our trainer; she wants to get a look at what kind of condition you’re in. Go on.”

“But…” Aomine gave her a rather wide-eyed look. “No, seriously…”

“Aomine-kun.” Kuroko, in the middle of the rotating line for lay-up practice runs, looked over at them with an ever so faintly admonishing expression. He didn’t say anything else, but Aomine grimaced a little, breath sighing out. Riko chalked up another example of Kuroko’s ability to manage his teammates; she was starting to wonder if they should make him the captain, year after next.

“Oh all right.” Aomine stripped off his shirt and stood giving her a suspicious look.

Riko took a good look at his body, frowning, pushing aside her eternal amazement over his sheer strength and potential to study the whole picture instead. “Hmm.” She hadn’t been sure, just watching him slouching around, and it was hard to see very well in the middle of one of his wild matches with Kagami, but her suspicion had been right. Aomine wasn’t standing quite square. She walked around him, studying his back. “Hmmmm.” Finally, she came around in front of him again, studying the curve of his spine and ribs as she went, and nodded sharply. “All right. Get dressed.” As soon as Aomine’s head emerged from the neck of his T-shirt again, she gave him a stern look. “I’m not surprised Momoi-kun wanted me to take a look at you. You’re right on the edge of some acute injuries, especially if you keep playing the way you are with Kagami-kun.”

Aomine shot her a skeptical glance, running his hands through his hair. “You can tell that just by looking?”

“You aren’t standing square,” Riko pointed out. “You’re pulling up just a little short on your right leg, and that’s contracting your core muscles on the left, trying to compensate. Your lower back, especially, is weaker than it should be, and you’re putting extra strain on your shoulders and chest. That’s heading straight for a torn pectoral, and your knees will be in danger, too, if you don’t strengthen your hip and lower back muscles again.” Aomine’s eyes had been widening all through the lecture, turning uncertain as he tried reflexively to adjust his stance and probably felt the muscles pulling. Riko set her hands on her hips, scolding. “You can’t let yourself get out of condition like that, Aomine-kun! You should know better!”

“It’s never been a problem,” Aomine protested, looking shifty even as he said it.

Riko narrowed her eyes at him. “No excuses! You’re going to train properly whenever you’re here, and that’s final! I’m not having any injuries happening in my gym.”

“What kind of training properly?” Aomine hedged, though Riko could tell he was weakening. She smiled at him, sweet as honey.

“Oh, dreadfully boring ones.” She stepped up nose-to-nose, or at least nose-to-chest, and he edged back. “Which will keep you from having all the wonderful excitement of a serious injury, you idiot.” She folded her arms and delivered the finishing stroke. “And no games with Kagami unless I’m satisfied you’re making sufficient progress in your re-conditioning.”

He finally gave in with a sigh, shoulders slumping. “Yeah, yeah, all right.”

One last push. Riko glared at him again. “What was that, Aomine-kun? I didn’t quite catch it.”

One corner of his mouth quirked up. “Yes, Kantoku.”

“Better!” She patted his arm. “Now, don’t worry, we’ll start easy. Give me fifty side planks, twenty seconds each, and then you can join in the sprints.”

Someone on the court, where they had all been eavesdropping shamelessly, squeaked with shock. Aomine, on the other hand, just grinned, eyes lighting up with a little spark. “No problem.”

Riko smiled with satisfaction that she’d struck the right note with him, presented this training as both a benefit and a challenge. She kept an eye on him as he went to pull down a mat to work on, and took out her phone.

Could have just said you wanted evaluation of him.

Wheres the fun in that? Momoi sent back a minute later, and Riko rolled her eyes. Dai-chan okay? came a moment later.

Will be, Riko typed back. Close thing. Watch him.

Can have kagamin for bait pls? Riko could almost see Momoi batting her lashes innocently, and snorted.

Will send next week. Kuroko too. Better keep them in shape.

Been doing that for years.

For the first time since the Winter Cup, Riko thought about what it might have been like to manage a team like Teikou while the captain and coach let the whole lot of them run wild in the name of victory.

Not you alone, she texted back. Will be okay now.

It wasn’t until five minutes later that her phone chimed with a reply, and Riko fished it out while calling to Koganei to set his feet better before his next sprint.


She closed the phone again and went back to her job, and if she carried a little smile with her, well, none of the boys needed to know why.

One of the things Satsuki had most looked forward to, about Kagami and Tetsu-kun visiting Touou, was watching Wakamatsu-senpai try to deal with Tetsu-kun.

“So try to keep up!”

“Of course.” Tetsu-kun stood perfectly calm and attentive, watching Wakamatsu-senpai.

“And… and don’t get in anyone’s way!”

“Understood.” Tetsu-kun waited politely.

Wakamatsu-senpai ran a hand through his hair, clearly bewildered by all the relentless courtesy. “Yeah, well. Just… go get changed.”

Tetsu-kun bobbed an agreeable and unflappable bow and herded Kagami off to the side while Touou’s captain stalked back to practice, shaking his head. Dai-chan finally stopped laughing long enough lead them to the changing room, and came back still grinning. “That was beautiful,” he said, lounging against the edge of the stage beside her.

“Just remember, you’re supposed to train properly today or no game with Kagamin later,” she reminded him. Dai-chan made a face.

“Yeah, yeah, fine.” He muttered some further uncomplimentary things under his breath, but they were mostly directed at Riko-san, so Satsuki let him complain. If Dai-chan didn’t realize who had really started this plan, that was actually fine with her. She didn’t like having to fight with him. That reminded her, though, and she pulled out her phone to text Riko-san.

Both here. Everything fine. Have a nice day!

A minute later, the reply came back, dryness rising almost visibly off the screen. Good luck. Middle of practice here. Shoo.

Satsuki grinned to herself as she closed the phone again. She was finding that she liked teasing Riko-san, and she thought just maybe Riko-san was finding the whole thing funny too.

“Floor work!” Wakamatsu-senpai yelled as Kagami and Tetsu-kun emerged again. “Break out the mats!”

Dai-chan sighed like it was dragged up from his toes, and slouched over to follow Tetsu-kun as he led both Kagami and Dai-chan promptly over to the stack of rough, blue mats against the wall. Dai-chan and Kagami eyed each other narrowly as they grabbed the same mat, and Satsuki rolled her eyes. She did it extra hard, because she was pretty sure she was doing it for Tetsu-kun also, though he never showed it.

It was an odd day of practice, full of hesitations as people paused to watch Dai-chan breezing through every exercise, or Kagami bursting through them, or Tetsu-kun working his way patiently and sometimes awkwardly through them. It was that last that Satsuki heard murmurs starting over, among little knots of players waiting to shoot or sprint or get one of the baskets for guard practice.

“…the hell…”

“…really from Teikou?”

“…different in a game, but seriously…”

As yet another of Tetsu-kun’s lay-ups bounced off the rim, Yoshita-senpai finally said, a little more loudly, “This is a regular from the championship team?”

Yoshita-senpai should, Satsuki thought dispassionately, have remembered who he was currently on a three-man team with. Kagami made a long arm without moving from where he stood, wrapped his fingers in the front of Yoshita-senpai’s shirt, and dragged him in close.

“When you can play the way he does,” Kagami’s growl nearly echoed, “and keep going the way he does, then you can talk. Until then, shut your ignorant face.”

Yoshita-senpai, nearly hauled up off his feet, held up placating hands. “Right, sure, whatever you say.”

Tetsu-kun slipped back into line for another run, apparently oblivious to the whole thing, and to Dai-chan looming on the other side of the court with a nasty look in his eye.

“Kagami and Aomine really are two of a kind, aren’t they?” someone said in Satsuki’s ear, and she turned her head to smile ruefully up at Imayoshi-senpai.

“In some ways. Shouldn’t you be studying, senpai?”

He gave her an innocent look, leaning crossed arms on the back of her chair. “I heard you’d gotten Aomine-kun to come to practice, and wanted to witness the historic event for myself.”

“He’s complained the whole time, but he’s stayed.” Satsuki shrugged. “It’s a start. I think he took Riko-san seriously, too.”

The teasing smile slid off Imayoshi-senpai’s face. “Good. Kantoku was getting worried about that.”

“He was right to be.” Satsuki wrapped her arms around herself for a moment, pushing away the thought of how much danger Dai-chan had been putting himself in. “But I think this approach will work out.”

Out on the court, Tetsu-kun paused abruptly in the middle of shooting. “Aomine-kun. Kagami-kun,” he said, firm and clear, not taking his eyes off the hoop.

Satsuki looked around sharply, and scowled to see both Dai-chan and Kagami frozen in the act of sidling toward the outside door, Dai-chan with a ball under one arm.

“Have you got eyes in the back of your head or what?” Kagami snapped, looking guilty.

Dai-chan just sighed. “Yeah, he does,” he muttered.

Tetsu-kun finished his shot and turned to look at them expectantly. Dai-chan and Kagami gave in and trudged back toward the court. Satsuki had to bite back a giggle when Tetsu-kun smiled, small and approving, because Aomine lightened up a little and Kagami scowled off to the side, coloring faintly.

No one said a single word about Tetsu-kun’s performance in the day’s exercises after that.

“I don’t suppose we can keep him?” Imayoshi-senpai asked her, just a little wistful.

Satsuki imagined Riko-san’s reply, if she texted to ask that, and laughed some more. “Probably not. But this should be enough.” She smiled softly as Kagami and Dai-chan argued over who got to have Tetsu-kun on his side for the next mini-game, watching how Dai-chan’s eyes turned bright and alive as he leaned toward Kagami and how Tetsu-kun let them argue, tolerant and amused. “It’ll be enough, now.”

She’d been afraid, for a long time, that her boys were broken beyond repair, but she wasn’t afraid any more. Watching them catch fire off each other, she couldn’t be afraid of anything. If she’d loved Tetsu-kun before, for his kindness, it was nothing to what she felt now, knowing he’d seen what had to be done and made it happen. It was enough to inspire anyone, and she smiled secretly at the thought, because she’d finally realized something. Her plan didn’t have to stop here. Her hand snuck down to touch her phone, and her smile widened.

Riko tapped her toe, arms folded, as she waited for Momoi under the awning of Kaijou’s sports complex, feeling conspicuous in another school’s uniform. Momoi, nearly skipping up the walk, seemed to feel no such thing, arriving at Riko’s side with a bounce in her step and smiling down at her cheerily. Riko was irritated all over again by the girl’s height and finally asked what she’d been thinking for months. “Why are you hanging around the boy’s basketball team instead of playing on the girl’s like you obviously could?”

Momoi widened her eyes. “Well, I suppose could, yes, but I really think I’m just not built for it. All the jumping would make things bounce an awful lot.”

Riko wanted to be annoyed by that dig, too, but there was such a sparkle of mischief in Momoi’s eyes, so much happier than the girl had been in the spring and summer, that it tugged an unwilling smile out of her. “Speaking of the problems with natural talent,” she murmured instead, and took some satisfaction in the peal of laughter she surprised out of Momoi. “Are you sure we need to take things this far?” she asked, more seriously.

Momoi sobered and nodded. “Yes, Riko-san. I’m sure. Midorin has his new partner to look after him, and I think Himuro-san will keep an eye on Muk-kun. But the one who looked after Ki-chan was Kasamatsu-san. And he’s retired from the club, now.”

“I don’t know whether I should call you an amazing scout or an amazing stalker,” Riko sighed, and twitched her uniform cuffs down, straightening. “All right, let’s do it.”

Kaijou’s coach glowered at them as soon as they appeared in the door of the gymnasium. “You again,” he said, eyeing Riko in particular, and she couldn’t help beaming back at him, immensely cheered by the professional vote of enmity. “What do you want now? Wasn’t twice enough for you?”

“Actually, Takeuchi-kantoku, we were hoping we could offer a little help with a potential problem.” Riko smoothed her smile into something a little more serious, and opened her hand at Momoi.

Momoi nearly sparkled at the poor man. “I think we can all agree that managing an ex-regular from Teikou sometimes takes unusual measure, yes? There’s an arrangement that’s been working out very well so far…”

“This is something I never expected to see.”

Riko looked around to find Kise smiling down at her. “What are you and Satsuki-chan both doing here?” he asked, tossing sweat-soaked hair back off his face.

Riko looked him critically up and down, and nodded to herself; Momoi had been right on target. “You’ve been pushing your training too hard, Kise-kun,” she said, loud enough for Takeuchi-san to hear. “You’re going to over-train, at this rate.” She really didn’t like the twitch in his calf muscles; that suggested he’d been working far too repetitively.

“It isn’t that bad, Aida-san!” Kise waved her concern off, laughing, but she thought there was a brittle edge to it. “I haven’t been doing that much…”

“Kise,” Takeuchi-san cut him off, frowning. “Exactly how much after-hours training have you been doing?”

Now Kise definitely looked guilty. “Not that much, really,” he offered, but his eyes fell away from his coach’s.

“I think you can see our concern, Takeuchi-kantoku,” Momoi murmured, utterly unmoved by the tragically betrayed look Kise gave her.

Takeuchi-san growled under his breath, arms folded grumpily, and Riko caught, “…bad as her damn father…” That made something in her glow, warm and happy, and she waited with her best copy of Kuroko’s attentive expression while he thought it over. Finally Takeuchi-san sighed. “All right, fine. You made your point, and I suppose we can risk a little experimenting during the off-season. I’ll give you a month to convince me this isn’t as insane as it sounds.”

Riko bowed smoothly. “Thank you, Takeuchi-kantoku. We’ll contact you about scheduling.”

He harumphed and turned back to his team’s practice while Kise looked at Riko and Momoi warily. “What is this all about?”

Momoi attached herself to his arm, smiling up at him. “It’s about trading you and Dai-chan and Kagamin around, to let you play each other more. Tetsu-kun, too, mostly to make Dai-chan and Kagamin behave.”

Riko had thought Kise seemed brittle. She hadn’t realized just how well he was hiding it until he lit up at Momoi’s words, shoulders falling open and easy all at once. “Trading…? You mean, officially, we’d be allowed?”

Momoi’s smile had turned gentle, and her voice matched it. “Yes. All above-board and everything. We’ll make it work.”

Kise covered her hand on his arm with his own, taking a slow breath, just a little shaky. “Thanks, Satsuki-chan.” After a moment, he remembered Riko too and bobbed a nod to her. “Aida-san.”

“If you’re going to be showing up at my team’s practices, you should get used to calling me Aida-kantoku,” she told him wryly. “You’d better get back to your own practice, now, before your coach gets annoyed.” She held up a stern finger. “And no more than one hour extra practice after! Don’t think I won’t ask Momoi whether you’re going over time!”

Kise ducked his head, rueful. “Yes, Aida-kantoku.”

“Better.” She slung her bag over her shoulder and cocked her head at Momoi. “Ready?”

Momoi gave Kise one last hug, and joined her. “Ready.”

They were almost at the school gates before Riko said, quietly, “They’re still a unit, aren’t they? Even now they’re separated.”

“Mm.” Momoi fiddled with the strap of her phone. “They’re… special to each other. Sometimes I think they only became what they are because they were all together at Teikou, and pushed each other forward. Well,” she smiled ruefully, “you’ve seen how Dai-chan and Kagamin are.”

Always pushing each other, and loving every second of it, Riko filled in. Almost obsessed with each other, and they probably would be if Kuroko weren’t there to rein them in a little.

When she caught herself thinking that, Riko stopped dead in the middle of the sidewalk and scrubbed both hands through her hair. “Argh!”

Momoi stepped back a pace, blinking. “Riko-san…?”

What the hell was she thinking, relying on another first-year to manage her own players?! She was losing her mind, falling prey to the insanity that seemed to strike every coach who had to deal with a Miracle Generation player. Well nuts to that! Riko straightened her shoulders, glaring at the air in front of her. “Satsuki-san,” she rapped out, “I am not leaving them to muddle through this on their own. They have senpai, now, and we will take care of them.” She jammed her hands on her hips and spun on her heel to face Satsuki, seeing with new eyes the fear and stress at the corners of her teasing smiles. “And you have senpai, now, too, got that? We’re in this together, and we’ll keep them together.”

Satsuki stared at her for a long, blank moment before a different smile crept over her lips, a little shaky as it went. “Yes, Riko-san.” She was laughing a bit as she answered, but Riko didn’t miss the liquid flash of brightness in her eyes.

“Good,” she said, gentler, and held out a hand. “Don’t worry. We’ll make sure it’s all right. Right?”

Satsuki reached out and shook her hand firmly, smile steadying. “Right.”

“Let’s get going, then.”

They talked, all the way home, about how to best schedule rotations, considering that one of their problem children was a captain now, and how to handle things once tournament season started and they faced each other as opponents. It wasn’t until later that night that Riko got a text about the other things that had been said.

Thank you, Riko-senpai.

Riko smiled down at her phone, shaking her head. “Way too long without senpai, the whole lot of you,” she whispered, and tapped a text back before putting the phone away and getting ready for bed, and the next day.

You’re welcome, Satsuki-chan.


A/N: In hanakotoba, bell-flowers indicate gratitude.

Last Modified: Sep 17, 13
Posted: Sep 05, 12
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Anemone In Sunlight

Kiyoshi is recovering from surgery and now comes the hard part: making him take it slow. In the process, Riko decides it’s time to deal with the things she and Kiyoshi and Hyuuga haven’t been talking about. Drama, Romance, I-3

Almost two months after the Winter Cup, Riko gathered her club around her at the end of practice, grim and serious. “All right, everyone, listen up. We have a problem.” Hyuuga stood at her side looking equally grim; he’d heard the news already. She didn’t honestly think she’d be able to make it through this without his support, and she was grateful for it, but that didn’t make telling the club any easier. Riko took a deep breath, meeting the suddenly worried eyes of her boys one by one.

“Teppei’s surgery was definitely a success, and he’s coming back.”

Silence fell over the court for a long moment before it was broken by the first-years, with explosive sighs and little laughs.

“Jeez, don’t try to scare us like that!” Kagami told her. “You should be smiling for good news!” He paused, looking around at the second-years, who were all frowning or biting their lips or shaking their heads. “…isn’t it?”

“Kiyoshi is impossible during rehab,” Hyuuga informed him darkly. “As soon as he sets foot on the floor-boards, he’ll be trying to do more than he should.” He snorted bitterly. “He’ll try to pass it off as ‘just demonstrating’ but if you let him get away with that he’ll be doing moves at full speed before you turn around.”

“That’s the reason none of you even met him before summer,” Izuki put in. “Hyuuga threatened to throw him out of the gym if he showed up before his rehabilitation was complete, and Kiyoshi’s therapist agreed.”

“And now,” Riko finished, “he’s sent me this.” She held up her phone to show the message she’d gotten this afternoon.

Doctor says light training OK! See you soon! ^_^b

Her year-mates contemplated the screen with dread, and even the first-years were starting to look suitably worried. Riko blew out a breath, stuffing the phone away and staring at the floor for a long moment, hands on her hips. “It would have been easier if he’d had the same therapist as he had last time. She understood what he was like. But now he’s gotten the go-ahead to come back, and it’s up to us to keep him from tearing his knee up again before it fully heals.”

“Oh man,” Koganei moaned, flopping back against the stage. “We’re supposed to stop Kiyoshi?”

“The down-side of Iron Heart,” Izuki agreed, nibbling a thumbnail.

“Which is why it’s going to take all of us!” Hyuuga rallied them. “Everyone needs to keep an eye on him, and if he tries something he’s not supposed to yet… well, do whatever you have to.”

A daunted silence fell until Kuroko broke it, stepping forward and raising a hand politely. “What is Kiyoshi-senpai allowed to do?”

Riko growled with remembered aggravation. “His therapist says that for the next two months he can do light jogging, no sprinting, no cutting, no jumping. He can do the pool exercises and stationary shooting practice, though we’ll probably have to nail his feet to the floor for that one. No squats, no lateral exercises.” And the stupid man had actually seemed to believe this would be possible to enforce when Teppei was attending practice.

“And we can do whatever is necessary to make sure Kiyoshi-senpai doesn’t over work?”

Riko blinked and looked more closely at Kuroko. He looked back, perfectly level and calm—just as calm as he’d been when, now she remembered, he downed Kagami by the ankles to keep him from punching another player and getting thrown out of the game. Riko smiled slowly. “Well, I don’t think you want to be quite as rough with him as you are with Kagami-kun,” she said thoughtfully. “But yes. Whatever is necessary.”

The other second-years were starting to grin, too.

Kuroko nodded. “Of course.” He turned to look up at his partner. “Kagami-kun.”

Kagami folded his arms, looking down at Kuroko. “You want me to help you assault our senpai.” It was a statement, if a slightly dubious one, not a question. Riko reflected with some amusement on how good Kagami had gotten at translating Kuroko’s not-quite-orders.

“Just restrain, unless it’s really necessary,” Kuroko corrected, matter-of-fact.

Kagami snorted, half laughing. “Yeah, sure, why not.”

“Good attitude there,” Hyuuga approved with a certain glint in his eye, no doubt at the thought of Kagami sitting on Teppei or some such.

Riko clapped her hands. “All right! If we can keep Teppei from doing anything too outstandingly stupid for the next six months, we might be able to have him back on the team for the Winter Cup next year. Let’s do this!”

Her club chorused back agreement, and she felt about as good as she could over the whole prospect. Which still meant a lot of worry in the back of her mind. So when Hyuuga nudged her shoulder, while they closed up, and said, “We should go see him now, and let him know he’s not getting away with anything,” she was glad.

She really didn’t think she could do this without Hyuuga. He was better at shouting than she was, and she had a feeling there would need to be shouting.

“This is going to be such a nightmare,” she muttered into her coat collar as they left campus, fists jammed into her pockets. “Why couldn’t his physical therapist have seen what he’s like?”

“Because he looks all laid back and easygoing, even when he’s steam-rolling over top of you,” Hyuuga answered dryly. His hand rested on her shoulder for a few steps. “Don’t worry. The club knows what he’s like.”

“And thank goodness for that!” She snorted softly. “And for Kuroko-kun being used to dealing with difficult players, I suppose.”

It didn’t take long to get to Teppei’s house, and his grandparents were used to seeing her. Riko chatted politely, keeping an ear out for the sound she was positive they would hear soon. Sure enough, there it was—a brisk but slightly uneven step outside the little sitting room. Teppei appeared in the doorway and promptly lit up.

“Hey, I didn’t expect to see you guys until tomorrow! You didn’t need to come by just to congratulate me.”

Riko showed him her teeth, not that that ever really worked on Teppei but she wanted him to know she was serious. “Oh, it wasn’t any trouble at all. Really.”

Teppei’s grandmother smiled at them indulgently. “Here’s the person you really came to see. Run along, dear.”

Riko extracted them with a few more pleasantries, and she and Hyuuga herded Teppei down the hall to his room. She watched closely while Teppei pulled out some cushions for them and gave Hyuuga a taut nod: Teppei’s knee was still weak and he was wincing when he flexed it too far. Hyuuga sighed and thumped down cross legged on the cushion to Teppei’s left.

“You know what we’re here for, so don’t give me any innocent-idiot looks,” he ordered. “We’re going to keep you from overworking that knee if we have to tie you up and hang you from the gym rafters, understand?”

“The whole club is in agreement,” Riko put in, “so don’t think you’ll get away with anything.” Still in her uniform skirt, she folded her legs under her and gave Teppei an extra glare to make up for the demure position.

Teppei eased himself down, leg stretched out straight; she approved of that at least, if not the big simpleton smile he gave them. “I won’t give you any trouble, I promise! The surgery was a success, after all.”

Hyuuga scrubbed his hands furiously through his hair, turning it wilder than usual. “That! That! Don’t you dare give me that! Not after the bullshit you pulled during the tournament this year, and do you know how close you came to needing replacement surgery?!” He rocked up onto his knees, pointing a rigid finger at Teppei. “I’m keeping you from doing that again if I have to break your other leg, got it?!”

Riko hoped ruefully that Teppei’s grandparents wouldn’t mind the way Hyuuga’s voice was echoing down the hall. On the other hand, if Teppei’s sense of humor ran in the family, maybe they’d just be amused.

Teppei wasn’t laughing, though. He was looking up at Hyuuga with a small smile and soft eyes. “Thank you for being worried about me.”

Hyuuga’s outrage collapsed and he slumped back down, looking away. “I’m not worried, I’m pissed off,” he muttered, and Riko just had to roll her eyes. When Hyuuga looked back at Teppei, though, the pain and worry darkening his eyes were so obvious it made her breath catch, and she saw Teppei’s hand twitch, starting to reach out before he stopped himself.

Abruptly, Riko decided she’d had enough. She’d watched them dance this dance for two years now, circling around their love of the game, and the friction between their different ways of being serious, and the brilliant liquid flow of their teamwork together on the court—always partners and never saying it, Hyuuga never admitting why Teppei got under his skin, Teppei never pushing. That was more than long enough. “Okay, look,” she sighed, “you two are boys, and therefore idiots, so I’m going to help you out here.” She leaned over and gave Hyuuga a shove toward Teppei. “Just kiss him already!”

They both gaped at her. Boys; honestly.

“But I… you…” Hyuuga sputtered. “Riko, you’re…”

She scooted her cushion across the floor until she could take his shoulders. “Hyuuga-kun,” she interrupted gently. “How long have we been friends?”

“Seven years, now, I guess,” he answered slowly, frowning at her. She shook him a little.

“You don’t honestly think you’re going to lose me if you and Teppei finally make this official, do you?”

He looked down at her and asked quietly, “Just friends?”

Riko bit her lip. “I can’t be on the court with you.” And she’s always known that was what would make the critical difference, with Hyuuga, basketball idiot that he was even when he was in denial about it. It was why Teppei had reached him, two years ago, when she hadn’t been able to.

“You’re our coach, of course you’re with me on the court,” Hyuuga argued stubbornly. “Riko… you can’t tell me we aren’t sharing our thoughts, out there.”

“As captain and coach, sure, but—”

“Riko, you know I wouldn’t get in between you and Hyuuga,” Teppei cut in, so earnestly that both she and Hyuuga glared at him.

“You keep quiet!” they snapped together, and Teppei smiled and held up his hands peaceably.

“Definitely sharing your thoughts,” he murmured, though.

Riko froze, staring at him. He smiled back, calm and sunny, and she knew perfectly well that he was trying to give this to her, give Hyuuga to her. But his words made her think of something different.

Sharing. Sharing thoughts. Sharing feelings, all right, yes, she admitted she and Hyuuga had been very close for a long time, even if it always seemed to be other players who held the hottest parts of his attention. She knew they’d shared the same feelings when Teppei was hurt. If they felt the same way… If they both felt the same way…

She looked back and forth between Hyuuga and Teppei, thoughtfully. Hyuuga, who she’d known since elementary school, who was passionate about things the same way she was, who thought with her and followed her and looked at her with a hidden smile in his eyes. Teppei, who tried to fit years of living and knowing into months, who burned so bright under his easy smile that he’d drawn both Riko and Hyuuga in, who had wanted her fire, and Hyuuga’s, wanted them so much it made her heart hurt to think about. Slowly, Riko smiled.

“That could work,” she finally pronounced.

Hyuuga, with years of experience, was instantly wary. “What could work?”

Riko folded her hands demurely. “Sharing.”

Hyuuga frowned at Teppei, who blinked back at him, equally puzzled. “Sharing wha… wait.” Hyuuga’s eyes widened. “Kantoku. You’re not thinking what I think you’re thinking are you?”

He was actually blushing, and Riko grinned. “Why not?”

“Why not?” Hyuuga waved his hands as if to indicate the enormity of ‘why’, and Riko reached out to catch one.

He stilled at once.

She took a deep breath and reached out her other hand to lay it over Teppei’s. “Why not?” she asked again, softer, looking back and forth between them. The thought unfolded wider and wider in her head until it felt like it was taking over her heart, too. Something that wouldn’t make Hyuuga choose. That wouldn’t leave her out. That wouldn’t make Teppei do anything stupid like sacrificing what he wanted. Teppei turned his hand over to hold hers, and hope leaped up, only to crash headlong into his earnest, understanding smile.

“Riko, you’re the one Hyuuga wants, not me.”

Riko was pulling in a deep, deep breath to argue, or maybe to scream a bit first, when Hyuuga made an intensely aggravated sound.

“You don’t believe in yourself,” he stormed at Teppei. “You never believe in yourself! Everyone else in the whole universe, you can believe in, but never yourself! Idiot!” His free hand flashed out, catching a fistful of Teppei’s shirt, and he growled, “I told you once that I’d believe for you. Fine. I can do it again.” He hauled Teppei to him, or maybe himself to Teppei, and kissed him fiercely.

Riko had to blink back a sudden rush of tears at that, and blotted them with the back of her hand, not letting go of Teppei. “Boys,” she whispered. “Such idiots.”

She’d been right after all; she couldn’t do this without Hyuuga.

Teppei just stared as Hyuuga drew back to glare at him, which did nothing to hide how flushed he was now. “But…” Teppei started, low and hesitant. “Is it really…?” He looked over at Riko, who gave him an only slightly watery smile and scooted closer so she could lean against his shoulder.

“Yeah,” she said softly. “Really.” The careful way Teppei wrapped an arm around her, and the wonder in his eyes when he looked down at her, nearly made her cry again. So she tugged on Hyuuga’s hand, and grinned up at him. “So hey. Where’s my kiss?”

Hyuuga turned twice as red, and Teppei stifled a laugh against her hair. But after a deep breath, Hyuuga leaned in with one hand still braced on Teppei’s shoulder and kissed her very softly. The tenderness of it made her blush a little, too.

The sight of both of them flustered seemed to bring Teppei back a bit to his normal self, and he declared brightly. “Well then! Let’s have an excellent springtime of our youth!” He grinned innocently at their expressions.

Riko exchanged a look of perfect understanding and agreement with Hyuuga, and they both tackled Teppei to the floor, ticking him mercilessly. When his grandmother came to ask whether Riko and Hyuuga would stay for dinner they were in a tangle of cushions, Teppei’s hair wildly rumpled, and Hyuuga’s glasses knocked askew.

All of three them were laughing.


A/N: In hanakotoba, anemone indicate sincerity.

Last Modified: Sep 17, 13
Posted: Sep 19, 12
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7 readers sent Plaudits.

Poppies in the Wind

Sometimes, Kise just wants to feel the edge of how far he can go. Sometimes, he wants that off the court, too. Sometimes, Aomine agrees. Porn, I-4

Character(s): Aomine Daiki, Kise Ryouta
Pairing(s): Aomine/Kise

One of the things Kise Ryouta actually liked about his new responsibilities as team captain was, ironically, one of the tedious chores. At the end of every practice, he made a round through the gym and locker room, making sure everything was put away, that all the water was turned off, shoo-ing any lingering club members out and closing up. The quiet of the sports building around him was soothing, and the little clicks of lights turning off and doors closing behind him gave him a comforting sense of orderliness. It meant he went home later than almost anyone else, but that wasn’t a problem for him. His mother knew exactly what kind of stress a model’s job was, and just told him to play as hard as he wanted in his off hours, and his father had nearly burst with pride that his son had been chosen as captain for his second year, and didn’t mind anything Ryouta did for the club. He could take as long as he wanted.

And sometimes staying later meant moments like this one, meant the warm steam of the showers around him and the cool of the tile wall under his palms, and the lean weight of Aomine against his back. Moments when there was no one else in the building to hear the sound he made as Aomine pressed two fingers, slick with soap, into Ryouta’s ass and rocked them in and out.

“Is that good?” Aomine purred in his ear, flexing his fingers a little. Ryouta let the shudder of response run up his spine, moaning.

“Yeah… yeah, it’s good.” And it was. His muscles were already warm and tired and lax after the one-on-one match they’d played after practice was over. It felt just right to let Aomine work these muscles open, too, long fingers fondling him from the inside. Aomine’s tongue stroked over his shoulder, lapping at the water running over them. Ryouta tipped his head back and sighed as the soft heat of Aomine’s tongue continued up his neck. “Nnn, Aominecchi…” He shuddered when Aomine’s teeth closed on his earlobe, tugging at his earring.

“I’m going to fuck you, Ryou,” Aomine murmured in his ear, twisting his fingers slowly in Ryouta’s ass. “Right up against the wall, hard and deep. You’ll like that, yeah?”

Yes,” Ryouta agreed fervently, pushing back onto Aomine’s fingers. “Aominecchi, come on…”

The husky laugh against his ear sent a shiver through him. “Sounds like you’re ready.” Ryouta made a petulant sound as Aomine’s fingers drew back, but relaxed easily enough into the arms that wound around him as Aomine pressed up full length against him.

“Hurry up, Aominecchi.” He flexed his hips to rub against the hardness of Aomine’s cock and grinned to himself at the catch in Aomine’s breathing.

“Pushy,” Aomine said against his neck. Ryouta’s eyes fell half closed with satisfaction as Aomine’s hands wrapped around his hips and that hardness shifted, pushing into him.

“Mmm, it gets me what I want,” he pointed out, husky with the feel of his body stretching open around Aomine’s cock. And then he moaned out loud as Aomine surged against him, driving in deep.

“If that’s what you want, why don’t I just give it to you?”

Ryouta made wordless, approving sounds in answer to that velvety suggestion, to the way the whole length of Aomine’s body flexed against his back, fucking him hard. This was good, this was what he wanted, to feel the full force of Aomine’s body moving against him. Every thrust drove a moan up his throat, rocked him up on his toes, and the little growls and gasps Aomine made against his shoulder, in the same time, just made it hotter. Ryouta braced his palms against the wall and pushed back to meet him, moaning as Aomine pulled him up higher and ground his hips in tight little circles against Ryouta’s ass, working his cock in deeper.

It was wild and hard and perfect, perfect to be fucked just as hard as they played, and Ryouta was gasping in the damp air, panting for breath as Aomine’s ruthless thrusts drove wanting sounds out of him. He would have been more than happy to have it go on, to take it until his legs just gave out, but feeling Aomine’s hand slide between his legs and wrap around his cock, pumping him hard, was sweet and intense. So he let himself go. He braced his feet and bucked between Aomine’s cock and his fist as he came, and let the pleasure storm through him. The sting of Aomine’s teeth on his shoulder, the jolt as his hips snapped forward, burying himself in Ryouta, put a gleaming edge on the heat wringing Ryouta’s nerves.

He leaned against the wall, eyes closed, as the rush of sensation slowly let him down again and he could feel Aomine leaning against his back, arms wrapped around him. “Mmmm,” he said at last. “That was good.”

Aomine laughed against his shoulder. “Glad you thought so. Because you’re really damn demanding.”

Ryouta snorted, not bothering to move otherwise. “You like it when people are demanding.”

Teeth tugged gently on his earlobe again, sending a little shiver down his spine. “And you seem to like it when I’m a little rough with you, so I guess it all works out.” He pulled back slowly, and Ryouta smiled a bit at the little twinge that ran down his legs. He stretched luxuriously and pushed himself upright, turning to glance impishly up at his friend.

“Sometimes, yeah.”

It was good, sometimes, to let all his control, all his sunny charm, even the honed edge he showed on the court, rest for a while. Good to just let go and move, just feel and chase after sensation. It was one kind of rest, and it kept him from thinking too much.

Maybe some of that showed in his expression, tonight, because Aomine shook his head, smile gone crooked, and stepped close again. His hand was warm at the small of Ryouta’s back, supporting him as Aomine leaned down and kissed him, easy and slow. “Think you can sleep, now?”

Ryouta softened. “Aominecchi.” He linked his hands behind Aomine’s neck, leaning against him for a long moment. “Yeah, I think so. Thanks.”

Now Aomine’s mouth curved in a classic Aominecchi smirk. “My pleasure.”

Ryouta laughed and ducked back under the water. Aomine joined him with the soap, retrieved from the corner where it had been kicked, and they stole it back and forth from each other, snickering over their own horseplay. Ryouta relaxed into the familiarity, the old friendship worn in over years. He completely understood why Kuroko had been willing to fight for this, why he’d fought so hard to pull them all back to him. Perhaps Ryouta could learn from him, and fight to keep his new friendships here at Kaijou. After all, he had this with Aomine even though they were at different schools now. Couldn’t it happen with other teammates too?

He leaned against Aomine under the warm spray and held the thought tight.


A/N: In hanakotoba, poppies have a variety of meanings, most having to do with joy or enjoyment.

Last Modified: Sep 17, 13
Posted: Sep 24, 12
Name (optional):
Kay, Kay, Sakia and 12 other readers sent Plaudits.

Redoubled Peonies

Imayoshi decides to return Riko’s favor by throwing Aomine, Kuroko, and Kagami together in a match. It’s a different kind of revelation for each of them. Drama, Character Sketch, Romance, I-3

Aomine Daiki was a cynical sort of guy these days, so he wasn’t really surprised when Imayoshi-san started showing up at club practices as soon as the national exams were over. Imayoshi-san was a bit like Daiki, really; he got bored without a challenge. Besides, Wakamatsu seemed happy enough to have his ‘advice’, so who cared?

At least that was what Daiki thought until Imayoshi-san decided his next challenge would be Daiki.

“We’re what?” he asked, really, really hoping he’d heard that wrong.

Imayoshi-san spread his hands, smiling innocently. “It will be the best thing for everyone, don’t you think?”

“Wait, wait.” Kagami was frowning a little, but not enough yet. “Us against everyone? You mean… me and Kuroko and Aomine against the rest of the whole club?”

“Only the first string,” Imayoshi-san assured him, as if that made anything more reasonable. “Probably only ten or so. So they get to practice stopping the kind of opponents you are, and you get a bigger challenge than usual.” He had the gall to smile even wider at Daiki and finish softly, “You like challenges, right?”

Daiki very definitely wasn’t looking at Tetsu to see what he might think about playing together again after the way Daiki had left him out in the cold their third year. Just thinking about that, about Tetsu’s reasons for turning to Seirin and Kagami, made Daiki twitchy, so he’d been trying not to. So much for that plan.

“This isn’t your business,” he snarled at Imayoshi.

“Whose is it, then?” Imayoshi-san asked, head cocked as if he were genuinely curious.

“No one’s!”

Imayoshi slanted a glance to the side, where Daiki knew Tetsu was standing. “No one’s?”

The urge to violence surged up in Daiki’s veins, like it hadn’t since summer, and he took one long step forward, hands curling into fists.

“Aomine-kun.” Tetsu’s voice cut across his fury like a dash of cold water in the face. “I don’t mind.” Tetsu stepped up beside him, looking up at him quietly. “Do you?”

“It isn’t…!” Daiki took a breath with one last glare at that bastard Imayoshi for pushing them into this. “Are you sure?” Sure it was all right, sure they could even try this after so long with Daiki playing solo, sure Tetsu had forgiven him that much, sure he’d forgiven Tetsu for taking a new partner. He was going to wring Imayoshi’s fucking neck for making him ask these things in front of other people, no matter how obliquely.

“We can try.” While Daiki tried not to wince at the ruthless honesty of that answer, Tetsu looked questioningly at his current partner. “Kagami-kun?”

Kagami was watching the two of them warily. “I dunno what you two are going on about now, but yeah. We can give it a shot.” He eyed Daiki more pointedly. “As long as you’re not an asshole about hogging the ball.”

“Tetsu decides,” Daiki said flatly. Didn’t Kagami at least know that much, after playing with Tetsu this long? Well, maybe he just didn’t think Daiki had known it, because he was looking more thoughtful. Daiki supposed he couldn’t completely blame Kagami for doubting that Daiki would follow Tetsu’s passes, considering he’d never seen them play together. He was in a bad enough mood over all this to glare at Kagami anyway.

Kagami just nodded, ignoring the glare. “Okay, sounds good.”

Imayoshi-san actually clapped his fucking hands. “Excellent! May I join in for this one?” he asked, turning to Wakamatsu.

“Might as well.” Their new captain looked sardonic, like he knew perfectly well this was an Imayoshi-special bit of manipulation, which suggested he had more brain cells than Daiki usually gave him credit for. He raised his voice and yelled, “Okay, first string out on the court; if you ever wanted revenge on Aomine, today’s your lucky day!”

Tense as he was, Daiki still snorted disdainfully. As if.

“I don’t think we should allow that, if we’re playing on the same side for this game,” Tetsu said, thoughtfully but with a glint in his eye, and Kagami grinned, cracking his knuckles.

“Yeah, I’m thinking not.”

A corner of Daiki’s mouth curled up, despite it all, as that familiar merciless attitude wrapped around him like a well-worn jacket. “All right. Let’s show ’em, then.”

As the three of them strode onto the court, he tried hard to remember how it had felt to play with Tetsu before their opponents had all given up and dropped him into the dark. What he remembered most, right now, was how Tetsu had valued their combination. Their teamwork. Exactly what Daiki was out of practice with. This was going to be more than a little strange, he was pretty sure.

Taiga was getting more and more weirded out, as this odd practice game got going. It wasn’t that they had no outside at all, even with Kuroko as their sort-of-point-guard. It wasn’t that Aomine was a a ball-hog, because with at least three marks on each of them at all times even he had to pass now and then. It wasn’t that half the ‘team’ against them now knew exactly how Kuroko operated and were a lot harder for him to get past than any other players would be. It wasn’t even watching their opponents’ double size team trip over each other now and then, though that was really funny and kind of distracting when it happened.

No. It was that Aomine was stumbling.

He kept hesitating in the middle of a move, jerking up short for a split second, which was all it took to get him marked again most of the time. The more he watched, the more Taiga thought Aomine was fighting his own reflexes, hesitating because he was trying to do two things at once. His foot would shift to cut while his hand shifted to pass, and neither happened. He’d already been called twice for holding the ball too long. Touou’s pink-haired menace of a manager was chewing her lip as she watched.

And Kuroko was tense.

Taiga knew Kuroko and Aomine had a lot of history to work out. He wasn’t throwing stones, not after Kuroko had been so good about him and Tatsuya. But he was getting pretty tired of watching Aomine fight with himself instead of the opponents. When the score was flipped over to show the other side ten points up on them, he finally gave up and stalked over to Aomine.

“Do you want to win this damn game or not?” he snapped, hauling Aomine nose-to-nose by the front of his shirt. “Unless you’ve lost your mind and decided losing is actually fun get your damn head in the game and trust your team to want to win too!”

Aomine had his mouth open to snarl back, and it stayed that way for a moment. Finally, he broke Taiga’s grip absently, looking down at Kuroko. “Interesting partner you found,” he said at last, almost mild.

Kuroko was smiling. “I thought so, too.”

Aomine blew out a breath and ran a hand through his hair. “So. You want to win too, huh?”

Taiga rolled his eyes; sometimes he thought there must have been something in the water at Teikou. Asshole extract or brainless juice or something. “What the hell do you think?”

“I wasn’t asking you.”

Something dark flickered through Kuroko’s eyes as he looked up at Aomine. Quietly, he answered, “Did you think I wouldn’t?”

Aomine winced just a little. “Yeah, okay. Sorry.” After another long moment of him and Kuroko looking at each other he said softly, “Trust you to want to win. I can do that, yeah.”

Kuroko’s shoulders finally settled into their normal line, and he nodded to Aomine like they were sealing a deal.

“You guys still playing or what?” Wakamatsu called, and Aomine bared his teeth.


The word hit the air of the court like a challenge, and Taiga smiled. That was more like it. He grabbed the ball and threw it in to Kuroko as Aomine loped back down the court. Kuroko spun and the ball screamed down the court after him. Aomine caught it, feinted forward, left, passed it fluidly back to Kuroko, cut past two of his markers and caught the ball again.

All without even looking around to see if Kuroko was there.

Taiga felt a little like he had the first time he’d seen Kuroko on the court, from the sidelines. Stunned breathless just because what he saw was that fine. If this was what Kuroko had been used to, with Aomine, no wonder he’d been so furious to lose it, so determined to get it back, so tense when it had looked like Aomine might not be able to get back here himself. Almost—almost—Taiga wanted to hold back, to not break that flow between them.

But Aomine slammed the ball in and Kuroko stepped into the path of the other side’s throw in, perfect and inevitable, and it was Taiga he turned to as he spun to pass the ball. As if he’d known already exactly where Taiga would be.

Taiga laughed and ducked past Aomine’s screen to drive for the basket.

Many people saw, and remarked on, how Tetsuya supported his teammates, how their strength increased as soon as he was on the court. Tetsuya thought he might be the only one who really understood how the reverse was also true. It was subtler for him, of course, but just as absolute. Without the trust of his teammates, his game was blunted, even if, mechanically, nothing seemed to be changed. His style of play required him to be aware of everyone on the court, to hold them in his mental hands at all times, and he needed his teammates to reach back to him before he could grasp them firmly. If they didn’t, if they hesitated, his game broke.

The reverse side of that, of course, was that when they did reach back nothing could break his hold on them. Nothing at all.

He could almost feel the weight of Kagami and Aomine in his hands, the way he could the weight of the ball. This, he knew, was why his game matched so well with Aomine’s. This was how Aomine felt the court itself, the space of it and the people in it. Kagami, on the other hand, he matched with because Kagami gave trust the way he needed it, gave it as easily as breathing. Tetsuya had never been more grateful for that than he was today. He was wringing wet and his breath was rasping in his lungs, he could feel the burn in his legs that would turn to watery, trembling muscles soon, and he never wanted to stop. The ball burned through his hands, heavy with the ferocity of his partners, and he gave his own fire to it and sent it back to them. Kagami’s teeth were bared as he jumped for the basket, kicking off the grip of gravity.

Aomine was laughing.

Tetsuya didn’t want this to stop.

All games stopped some time, though, and this one was only supposed to last twenty minutes. When Touou’s coach called the end, Tetsuya braced his hands on his shaking knees, head down, gasping for breath. The corners of his mouth curved up uncontrollably.

They had won by eighteen points.

“All right, there?” Imayoshi-san asked softly, stopping beside him for a moment. Tetsuya slowly pulled himself back upright, hauling himself up by his pride.

“I know how to pace myself with players like them.”

“I’m sure you do, when you bother to,” Imayoshi-san murmured, giving him a cheerful smile completely at odds with the implied scolding.

Tetsuya lifted his chin a little. “You were the one who started this, Imayoshi-san.” He hadn’t missed that Imayoshi-san had known Aomine wouldn’t want to play like this. He didn’t have any problem with Aomine’s ex-captain looking after the development of his players, but he didn’t think it was reasonable to then object to what Tetsuya had to do to make it work.

“That’s why I’m saying something.” Imayoshi-san looked at Tetsuya for a long moment and finally shook his head, obviously amused. “More stubborn than both of them put together, aren’t you, despite all the polite words? Well, I suppose I can’t disapprove. Just use a little of it to look after yourself, too.” He patted Tetsuya’s shoulder and wandered off to where Wakamatsu-san was talking to the coach.

Just in time for Tetsuya to lose his breath and stumble a step forward under the combined impact of an arm around his neck and a hand slapping his back.


“That was fantastic!”

Tetsuya turned to see both his partners grinning, lit up with victory. More than one kind of victory, today, he thought, just as Imayoshi-san had intended. Perhaps… perhaps he could have one more for himself—for himself and for his partners. He smiled back at them, and held out both fists.

There was one frozen moment while Aomine wavered again, the way he had earlier in the game, and Kagami glanced between them with sudden hesitation, while Aomine’s eyes cut toward Kagami and away, darkening, while Tetsuya told his heart sternly that it was too soon to feel chilled, this could still work out…

The relief when Aomine and Kagami both reached out and bumped their fists against his nearly made his knees give out. He might even have showed it, because there was a flash of worry in Kagami’s expression and a flash of what might be shame in Aomine’s. Tetsuya straightened his spine, as contained and sure as possible, and let himself feel a softer wave of relief when they both relaxed. As they all turned toward the wall where bags and water bottles were tossed, Tetsuya’s gaze crossed Imayoshi-san’s, and the impressed arch of his brows added a sharper edge to Tetsuya’s satisfaction.

Whatever he and Kagami and Aomine might become to each other now, Tetsuya would make it work out.

Daiki lay on his bed, that night, arms folded behind his head, staring up at the shadows of the ceiling. Playing on a team with Tetsu again, however irregular, had been strange. Hard. It had hurt, trying to remember how they had fit together, trying to move like that again, feeling how far he’d come from that. He’d felt like he was groping for something in the dark, something that he thought should be there but wasn’t sure of. Looking at Tetsu’s shoulders drawing tighter and tighter, at Tetsu’s carefully blank expression, had made something curl up small in his chest. And then Kagami, of all people, had been the one to see it, to see what Daiki was missing, what he hadn’t remembered because he remembered too clearly why Tetsu had left.

Tetsu loved to win.

Tetsu wouldn’t hold back for any reason, during a game. He would be there.

It had been like a bone, no, like the whole world snapping back into place. And that had hurt, too, but the perfect balance of knowing Tetsu would be there on the court was stronger. It was so good to feel that. So good that, when the game ended, Daiki had wanted to keep feeling it however he could.

He’d almost kissed Tetsu right there in the middle of the gym.

He’d felt Tetsu lean into his arm, too, for one moment; he didn’t think Tetsu would have minded. But Kagami had been there, and Daiki hadn’t held on when Tetsu stepped free, and Tetsu had held out a fist to each of them. To both of them.

Daiki scowled up at the ceiling. He wanted to keep feeling that bond with Tetsu, but Kagami obviously had to be taken into account. This might take some thinking about.

Taiga watched Kuroko out of the corner of his eye, on the ride home, wondering.

Thinking about it now, he was stunned by how Aomine had opened up in the second half of their game. At the time, in the heat of the moment, it has seemed perfectly natural, but he’d looked so different like that. Not innocent, Taiga nearly snorted at the very thought, but… open. Lit up and laughing, and yeah there’d been an edge of wildness in it but hell, it wasn’t any more than Taiga felt in himself when a game heated up. What there hadn’t been was the desperation that he remembered from the spring and winter, or the cold containment he remembered seeing off the court. When they’d both pounced on Kuroko after the match ended, Taiga had almost expected that open, grinning Aomine to pull Kuroko all the way against him and mess up his hair or something. And then, again, Taiga had had a moment of wondering whether he should step back a little.

When Kuroko had turned and held out his fists to them, and Aomine had checked so abruptly… then Taiga had very nearly stepped forward instead, to catch his partner. He hadn’t quite realized how good he’d gotten at reading Kuroko until he’d seen the hope in Kuroko’s small smile, the fear and determination in his eyes at Aomine’s hesitation. He’d wanted to whack Aomine one for being such an idiot. He’d wanted…

He’d wanted to hold Kuroko.

Alex had teased him before about being overprotective. He supposed she’d been right. But wasn’t it only fair? Didn’t Kuroko protect him, all of the team really but Taiga especially, protect his game and his heart from whatever the hell had happened to Aomine?

Now he was wondering. Would Kuroko let Taiga protect him in return?

Tetsuya parted from Kagami with a quiet nod and continued on his way home, thoughtful.

He knew both his partners well, had to know them to play the way he did with them, and it wasn’t as though either of them was being especially subtle right now. The way their shoulders had pressed against his as they’d all sat on the sidelines drinking and cooling down before the next drill, the way Aomine had returned again and again to drape an arm around his neck, the way Kagami had stayed close all the way home… it wasn’t something Tetsuya had thought much about before, because Kagami was so casual and rough and Aomine had been separated from him. But he thought about it now, about the new layer to his awareness of their bodies next to his. About Taiga’s warmth and Daiki’s intensity.

Perhaps… yes. Perhaps he would like to hold that part of them, too.

The lights were on when he got home, and he called as he toed off his shoes, “I’m home!”

“Welcome back,” his mother’s voice answered from the living room, cheerful despite the worn edge.

Tetsuya looked in to see his mother, still in a tailored business suit, leaning back in her arm chair with her slippered feet resting on the table. “Did you just get home?”

She smiled, small and soft and weary, the way she only ever did when they were alone. “Just half an hour ago, yes. My flight out of Shanghai was delayed.”

Tetsuya nodded and padded through to the kitchen to pour two glasses of water and a smaller glass of her Yamazaki whisky. His mother laughed softly when he brought the tray out to the table and handed her the small glass. “I have the best son in the world.” She ran her fingers gently through his hair. “And you’re smiling. Did something good happen today?”

Tetsuya let the smile grow, just for her, looking up from where he knelt beside the table. “Yes. I think it did.”

“Aomine-kun?” she guessed. “Today was a Touou day, wasn’t it?”

“Aomine-kun… and Kagami-kun,” he agreed softly, looking down at his fingers wound around his water glass.

His mother was silent for a long moment. Finally, she touched his cheek, fingers light. “Be careful with yourself, Tetsuya.”

He’d known for a long time that he had learned to read people from his mother.

“I will be,” he promised, looking up again. “I found them for each other, but… they’re both my partners.” Personally, he couldn’t see any good reason to let either of them go.

A sparkle lit her eyes, at that. “That’s my boy.” She leaned down and kissed his forehead. “Hold on to what’s yours, and never mind the ones who say you shouldn’t.”

He nodded and slid up onto the couch beside her chair. “So how did your trip go? Your texts had a lot of grimace-faces in them.”

She flung herself back in her chair and took a substantial swallow of her whisky. “Every time I have to deal with one of Guotai Junan, it’s the same…!”

Tetsuya leaned his chin on his hand and listened. Not that he knew a thing about investment banking or corporate contract law, but this was what he and his mother did—listened for each other. It was also, now he thought about it, what he and Kagami did. Perhaps it was what he and Aomine could learn to do properly, now.

The thought made him smile.


A/N: In hanakotoba, peonies indicate courage.

Last Modified: Sep 17, 13
Posted: Sep 23, 12
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5 readers sent Plaudits.

White Camellias Turning Red

Aomine decides that, if Kagami isn’t going anywhere, he has to be included. This gives Kuroko a moment of uncertainty, but the direct approach might be the best one after all. Porn, Romance, Fluff, I-4

Aomine Daiki loved a really good game of basketball. As far as he was concerned, it was the best thing in the world, even better than sex.

He actually spoke from knowledge, there. Some people got all starry eyed over anyone with talent, and some people got turned on by anything that looked dangerous. So there had been kisses and groping with girls in school who giggled over it, and there had been hand jobs in the locker room with other boys who weren’t sure whether they idolized him or feared him, and there’d been a few women out on the streets who made speculative comments about his height, and there’d been that one guy on a street court who bet a good fuck on their game and he’d been a man and anted up when he lost, even though he’d had to tell Daiki what to do.

Daiki felt he had some basis for saying good basketball was better than sex, but hell, it had been something to try so he had.

What he hadn’t thought about until recently was that it might be possible to combine good basketball with sex. He hadn’t thought it until the night he’d come to Kaijou to play Kise and stayed so late they were the only ones in the shower. He’d watched the stream of water running down Kise’s back and reached out to follow it with his fingers, and Kise had turned and looked at him with eyes still hot and focused from their game. He figured, afterwards, that Kise’s experience probably came from a lot the same places his did. It was easy with Kise, and neither of them took the sex for anything but was it was: a way to stay in the place they found when they played.

Tetsu and Kagami, though… that was harder to figure out.

Daiki knew he felt a little differently about Tetsu, his oldest friend after Satsuki, his partner, the one who’d left and come back all to pull him out of the hole he’d fallen down. Tetsu had come back even after Daiki had pushed him down that hole too, something that still made him flinch when he thought about it. Tetsu was… special.

Tetsu, who had a new partner, now.

Tetsu, who welcomed Daiki wherever they met, who smiled at him again, who rested his hand against Daiki’s back when Daiki flopped down across his lap during practice. Who scolded him for slacking off in a way that was so familiar it made Daiki’s chest clench, made him trail along after Tetsu just to hear more of it. Who smiled at and scolded Kagami just the same way.

And Daiki couldn’t damn well strangle Kagami for it, because Kagami was one of his best rivals these days, one of the painfully few who could even begin to call himself that. Daiki thought it might just kill him to lose Kagami again after finally, finally finding someone like him to play. So there was really only one thing to do, and Daiki had decided to do it tonight.

He laughed as he slammed the ball in past Kagami one last time. “Ten! Another game to me, and you pay for food!” He touched down on the cracked asphalt of the little park court and grinned at Kagami, taunting. Tetsu had left them to it half an hour ago, after reminding Kagami of their test the next day with an edge of resignation that said he didn’t expect Kagami to listen.

Kagami caught his balance and straightened up, breathing hard, eyes still bright with challenge. “Fuck you! One more time!”

Daiki thought he really might be just a little in love. Well, that made it easier.

“One more time to fuck you?” he purred, showing his teeth. “Yeah, we could do that too.”

Kagami paused for a long moment, blinking at him. “…wait, what?”

And it was too easy, really. Too easy to take one long stride that brought him right up against Kagami, close enough to feel the heat radiating from him after their game tonight, and wind his fingers in Kagami’s shirt, and catch his mouth fast and hard. The sound Kagami made was startled, but his hands found Daiki right away, spreading against his ribs sure and easy. Daiki made an interested noise at that.

When he finally let Kagami go, Kagami stared at him with disbelief, though he still hadn’t backed off either. “What the hell was that?”

Daiki shrugged easily. “Seemed like a logical next step.” He watched, entertained, while Kagami opened and closed his mouth a few times, and finally kissed him again to stop him.

“Mmm… Mm! Wait, wait, wait.” Kagami pushed him back a little, frowning. “What about Kuroko? I mean, you’re… with him… well, it’s obvious okay?”

Daiki gave him an aggravated look. Why couldn’t Kagami just shut up and get down to the screwing, like everyone else? “That’s why, idiot. He’s not going to be happy leaving you out of it, so I’m fucking stuck with you. Might as well make the best of it.” Grudgingly, he added, “And also it gets pretty heated up when we play like this, though I gotta say you’re wasting all of that by talking.”

Kagami stared at him for a long, silent moment, and Daiki watched his expression slowly change, through confusion, disbelief, exasperation, sneaking pleasure. Eventually, it settled on a tilted kind of amusement. “What the hell. This I’ve gotta see.” His hands tightened, and he pulled Daiki back against him, tipping his chin up a bit to catch Daiki’s mouth in turn.

That was better, and Daiki cheerfully wound himself around Kagami, sucking on his tongue. The feel of Kagami’s arms locking around him made him purr, and he slid his hands down Kagami’s back, groping his ass. It was a nice handful. He laughed into Kagami’s mouth when Kagami growled and pushed a leg between his thighs.

“God, you’re pushy,” Kagami muttered.

“You’re surprised?” Daiki mocked, and smiled when Kagami snorted.

“Fuck no.”

Daiki laughed outright at that, amused by the way Kagami’s language was sliding even further down the scale than usual, and bent his head to bite at the taut line of tendon running down Kagami’s neck. That got him a satisfying thrust of hips against his. Satisfying for now, but not enough, so he closed his mouth and sucked.


Daiki smiled, eyes half lidded, at the feel of Kagami’s hold on him tightening, hard enough to drive his breath out. Yeah. This was what he wanted. He relaxed into it, flowing with the flex of Kagami’s muscles like he’d flow with a game, biting back up Kagami’s neck until he found his mouth again, hot and intent against Daiki’s. He laughed low in his throat when Kagami turned to push him against the the pole under the basket. He leaning back against it and hooking a leg around Kagami to pull him in tight. The breath Kagami sucked in when Daiki slid a hand down the back of his shorts to grip bare skin was plenty of compensation for the press of the pole’s plastic padding against his spine. He slid his fingers between Kagami’s cheeks and made a pleased sound when Kagami jerked against him.

“Did you plan this, or was it spur of the moment thing?” Kagami asked against his ear, fingers digging into Daiki’s back.

“Mm, pretty spur of the moment,” Daiki admitted, rubbing slowly.

Kagami’s hips ground against him. “Then that’s as far as you go,” he gritted between his teeth.

Daiki’s brows rose. Kagami knew what he was doing, here. That was good to know.

Knowing didn’t keep him from bucking a little with the surprise when Kagami yanked down the waistband of Daiki’s shorts, dragging his underwear down with them, and wrapped his fingers around Daiki’s cock. “Shit,” he gasped, “Kagami…” The pole padding was cold against his bare ass, and he squirmed a little.

It was Kagami’s turn to laugh, low and breathless, fingers tightening. “More later, maybe, yeah?” He kissed Daiki again, slower this time, deliberate like his hand was deliberate, stroking up and down Daiki’s cock.

A spark of challenge danced up Daiki’s spine, hot and excited, and he plunged his other hand into Kagami’s shorts too, fondling him from the front and back at once. The way Kagami moaned into his mouth tasted good, and Kagami’s fingers felt good wrapped around him, warm in the cool night air and strong in a way that made Daiki’s excitement burn hotter.

But no matter how Daiki touched him, dragging his fist up and down Kagami’s cock, rubbing his fingers in ruthlessly hard circles over Kagami’s entrance, those slow kisses didn’t speed up. They just got deeper. It wasn’t what Daiki was used to, but it felt good. It felt like Kagami was really paying attention to him. He liked that thought a lot.

Daiki hung on as long as he could, but when Kagami bucked into his fist, when Kagami moaned into his mouth, pressed up full length against him, when Kagami’s fingers tightened and stroked down him like Kagami wanted to memorize the texture of him… well, he dared anyone to hold steady through that. He pulled roughly away from the kiss and buried his head against Kagami’s shoulder as pleasure wrung out his whole body.

The weight of Kagami leaning against him was actually kind of nice, too, he decided in the floating daze after.

“Hope you have an extra towel,” Kagami mumbled against his neck. “Mine’s back in the locker room.”

Daiki laughed.

Kagami wouldn’t quite look at him while they got cleaned up, which had Daiki smirking. “Shy?” he finally prodded.

“Oh shut up.” Kagami threw the towel at him, scowling, and added, “You get to explain your own insanity to Kuroko, if that’s what the point of this is.”

“Won’t have to.” Daiki balled up his towel and stuffed it into the bottom of his bag, concentrating on his hands instead of what he was admitting. “He knows me. Knows you too, now. He’ll see it.” And then he’d know he didn’t have to choose.

Kagami heaved a vast sigh, and he had his hands on his hips when Daiki looked up. “Yeah, maybe he will, and then what’s he going to think? Unless you actually open your idiot mouth and tell him that this is all for his sake and not just you and me hooking up, which is what I’m saying you should do.” Not completely under his breath, he muttered, “Miracles my ass, the lot of you are total morons off the court.”

“Says the guy getting twelves on his tests?” Daiki shot back, having been at Seirin the day their coach saw some of Kagami’s exam papers that he’d stuffed into the bottom of his locker.

“That was in History!” Kagami snapped. “It’s different here, how the hell am I supposed to catch up all at once?”

“I dunno, actually knowing how to read, maybe?”

The deflection worked, and they bickered all the way down the road to Daiki’s turn-off toward the station. But Kagami’s words stayed with him. Maybe, Daiki admitted grudgingly, he was good for something besides basketball.



So what was he going to say to Tetsu?

Daiki had about a week to think about it, and then he had Seirin’s practice hours during which he didn’t have much time to think about it, because Aida Riko was a demon in girl-shape.

“Footwork drills?” Okay, he admitted it, he was whining a little.

She folded her arms forbiddingly. “With your style, in particular, you absolutely cannot afford to slack off on exercises to strengthen your lateral movement muscles.” She pointed an imperious finger at the tapes set up on one side of the gym, looking like an insane cross between an obstacle course and a hopscotch grid. “Go! Kagami, you could stand to run this one too, but if I catch you trying to do it at Aomine’s speed you’ll wish you’d never been born.”

Kagami closed his mouth on whatever he’d been about to argue, and muttered, “Yes, Kantoku.”

The footwork drill was challenging, enough to actually keep his attention, and he had a good laugh when Aida-kantoku scolded Kagami for jumping bits of it, despite his argument that he was practicing his best skill. But all the while, in the back of his head, he was aware of Tetsu’s eyes on them, measuring. When official practice was over, and they were waiting for Tetsu’s senpai to finish their individual training so Daiki and Kagami could play, he wandered over to hop up beside Tetsu on the stage and sprawled across his knees as usual.

Tetsu hesitated a moment before he rested his hand in its usual place on Daiki’s back.

Kagami ostentatiously scooped up Tetsu’s water bottle along with his own and sauntered toward the east doors and the sinks to refill them. Daiki sighed; yeah, he got the point already. He was talking. “So, about Kagami,” he started.

Tetsu’s hand lightened, as if to lift at any moment. “The two of you settled something.”

“Well, he’s your partner now,” Daiki muttered under the smack of balls against hardwood and the echo of Aida-kantoku’s orders, resting his chin on his folded arms. “You wouldn’t like it if I tried to cut him out. So.”

“So?” Tetsu prodded after a long moment. “So… this?”

“So there was nothing to do but include him, if I want to be with you,” Daiki said, a little annoyed at having to state the obvious.

After a long, still moment that kind of wore on Daiki’s nerves, Tetsu let out a small huff of laughter. His hand rested on Daiki’s back firmly, again, and Daiki settled at that. That was better. He watched Kagami coming back with the water bottles with half closed eyes, finally feeling properly lazy again. Kagami leaned against the side of the stage, eyeing them, and shook his head.

“You’re both crazy. But, what the hell. Always seemed like it was the crazy ones this kind of thing worked best for.” He took a long drink from his own water.

Tetsu cocked his head at his new partner, not minding while Daiki stole his bottle for a drink of his own. “Does that mean you’re crazy too, Kagami-kun?”

Kagami’s mouth curled up at the corner as he leaned back on his elbows, watching their senpai out on the floor. “Yeah. Guess I might be.”

“Thank you,” Tetsu said softly, and Daiki watched with a certain glee as Kagami instantly got flustered, looking off to the side with his ears turning red.

Really, it was no wonder Tetsu handled Kagami so easily, if he responded like this every time Tetsu got all earnest.

“Not like it’s a favor or something,” Kagami grumbled. “You don’t have to say thanks.”

Tetsu smiled, tiny and obviously amused. “It’s something you chose to do that makes me very happy. Shouldn’t I thank you for that?”

Kagami turned redder, and Daiki laughed. “Give it up, Kagami. Tetsu always gets his way sooner or later; best to save time and just agree now.”

Kagami glowered at him. “Aren’t you supposed to be morally opposed to that kind of thinking?”

“Kagami-kun,” Tetsu said quietly, hand pressing a little more firmly against Daiki’s back, and Daiki had to agree with the pained look Kagami gave Tetsu.

“If you’re going to make me be nice to him, we’re going to have problems,” Kagami pointed out.

“I wouldn’t try to do that.”

Daiki always knew Tetsu was smart.

“But I don’t want to argue about that.”

That silenced both of them, and Daiki shifted off Tetsu’s legs, sitting up to drape against his back instead. Kagami half turned, one elbow still braced on the stage, and leaned against Tetsu’s knees. Daiki could feel Tetsu’s shoulders ease under their silent attempts at reassurance.

“So, hey.” Kagami nudged Tetsu’s leg. “You want to play too, tonight?”

“Hey,” Daiki objected. Kagami was getting better, and Tetsu would be a decisive advantage for either of them, now.

Kagami rolled his eyes. “I didn’t say ‘pick sides’. You remember that one Saturday Kise showed up and we played one-on-one-on-one?”

“And you played so long Kantoku yelled at us all the next day.” Tetsu looked down at him, smiling a little. “I couldn’t play the way Kise-kun does.”

“No, but that could be good,” Daiki said, thoughtfully, resting his chin on Tetsu’s shoulder. “For us to keep a look out for you, and try to keep the ball. For you to track the game and try to take it while we’re distracted with each other.” Even as he said it, he could hear the parallels with how they acted toward each other off the court, and Kagami looked satisfied.

“Yeah, like that.”

Tetsu nodded slowly. “That does sound like fun.” He wasn’t smiling this time, but his whole expression lightened at the assurance that, even in matches like these, he had a part.

Daiki exchanged what he was pretty sure was a look of complete understanding with Kagami. Maybe he was still a little jealous, and maybe Kagami still thought he was a jerk, but they both wanted to please their partner, to have those fierce, fearless eyes look at them and approve. Kagami agreed on that, at least.

He supposed there could be worse people to be sharing Tetsu with.

Later, on the way home, Daiki leaned his head back against the vibrating window of the train and stared up at the ceiling, thinking.

Tetsu and Kagami had gone with him as far as the little park Daiki and Kagami had played each other in a week ago. And, at the turn-off toward the station, Tetsu had reached up to curve a hand around the back of Daiki’s neck, and tugged him down and kissed him. He could almost feel it again, just thinking about it, the warm, firm pressure of Tetsu’s mouth against his. It felt like the way he remembered being Tetsu’s friend felt—like support he could lean against, like a demand made quietly.

And then, of course, because Tetsu was Tetsu, he’d given Daiki a perfectly bland, purely evil look and pushed him toward Kagami.

Kagami had been caught just as flat-footed, at least, and they’d stared at each other for a long, frozen moment. Tetsu had just stood there looking calm and expectant. It had been Kagami who’d broken first, scrubbing his hands through his hair with an aggravated sound. “Oh god, fine, just…” The look on his face when he’d closed the distance between them made Daiki expect something like their last kiss, something hard, but when Kagami caught his shoulder and leaned in his mouth had been light, almost hesitant. The word that came to mind, now, staring up at the lights running along the roof of the train, was gentle.

Daiki didn’t know whether to be charmed or outraged.

But he thought… he thought there might have been a time when he’d have kissed like that, too.

He didn’t know quite yet whether this was the right way to get back to what he’d had, with Tetsu, with his game, with his friends. But as he listened to the hum and clack of wheels on the tracks, he thought he was glad he’d reached out to include Kagami in it.


Tetsuya walked beside Taiga, smiling quietly. On reflection, he was glad Daiki had done what he had. Knowing he and Taiga had been together had given Tetsuya a bad moment, wondering whether he would be excluded from that the way he was from their one-on-one matches. Apparently, though, it had just been Daiki’s way of not making Tetsuya choose between them, and in the end Taiga had found a way to close the circle all the way and include Tetsuya in the matches too. It was the happy warmth of being with them like that that had made Tetsuya reach for Daiki when they parted, wanting to give the warmth back again.

It was that warmth that made him pause at the turn-off to Taiga’s street and look up at him, head tilted invitingly. It was hard to tell, in the dark, but he thought Taiga was blushing a little, and he had to smile. He reached out to rest a hand against his partner’s chest, feeling the quick rise of his breath. "Taiga."

Taiga made a quiet sound, reaching out to close his hands lightly on Tetsuya’s shoulders. "I miss hearing people say my name, you know. Nobody does, here."

"No one would take that liberty unless they were very close friends," Tetsuya agreed, and took a step closer. "Intimate friends." Yes, Taiga was definitely blushing, he noted with amusement. When one of Taiga’s hands slid up to cup his cheek lightly, he had to smile. "I’m not that breakable, you know."

"I know that," Taiga protested indignantly, though his hands didn’t tighten. "It’s just…" He huffed, looking aside for a moment. "This… it’s something people should take care, when they do."

Tetsuya softened at that. He wouldn’t have thought Taiga would be a romantic, but maybe it made sense. He was so pure-hearted; it was why Tetsuya had chosen him, after all. "It is," he agreed quietly, winding his arms comfortably around Taiga’s waist. Taiga relaxed and looked at him again, smiling back a little. When Taiga leaned down to him and carefully, gently tipped Tetsuya’s head back, Tetsuya let him, let himself rest against the warm support of Taiga’s arm around him, let himself kiss back softly.

The wonder in Taiga’s eyes, at the corners of his smile when they parted, made Tetsuya reach up, gentle in his turn, to brush back the wild mess of Taiga’s hair. The softness in Taiga’s voice when he said, "Tetsuya," made something catch in his chest. They stood wrapped up in each other for a long moment.

Finally, though, something occurred to Tetsuya and he cocked his head up at Taiga. "I doubt Daiki let you be careful."

Taiga growled. "He sure as hell didn’t. And, okay fine, it’s fun that way too, but it’s not like this!" His arms tightened around Tetsuya.

"Do you think it should be?" Tetsuya liked that thought; he wanted to see Daiki looking at him, at them, the way Taiga just had.

"Of course it should be!" Taiga was getting indignant again. "Otherwise it’s not special, it’s just fuck-buddies."

Tetsuya blinked a bit at that, but a smile spread over his lips. "I’m glad he thought of this at all, though."

Taiga looked down at him, quiet for a moment. "He wants you to be happy."

Tetsuya reached up and pulled Taiga down to another soft kiss. "I am."

And he’d be sure to tell Daiki so, too.


A/N: In hanakotoba, camellias indicate love and longing. In particular, white camellia indicates waiting for a beloved while red indicates current love.

Last Modified: Sep 17, 13
Posted: Oct 03, 12
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Edainwen and 9 other readers sent Plaudits.

The Tang of Hibiscus

It’s the end of the year, and Kise gets another shock from his captain, this one considerably more pleasant. Fluff, Romance, Porn, I-4

Pairing(s): Kasamatsu/Kise

Kise Ryouta was feeling absolutely pathetic.

What else did you call a team captain who, instead of going directly to practice when classes ended, loitered around the doors waiting for one particular senpai so that they could walk to the school gates together, before the captain in question sprinted back to make practice on time? At the beginning, Ryouta had had excuses: a question about the mountain of DVDs Kasamatsu-senpai had left him to watch, a question about club policies, about how to handle this or that club member. It was all perfectly plausible; he was still a first-year, after all! Over the weeks of January and February, though, he’d gradually run out of excuses and just showed up, two or three times a week, and hoped that Kasamatsu-senpai wouldn’t tell him to get lost.

Kasamatsu-senpai never had yet, and Ryouta was grateful for that. Grateful that the one person he’d had the most support, the most guidance, from was still there for him, at least a little. So he still waited, and still walked to the gates with Kasamatsu-senpai, and now they talked more about exams and college fees and whether the B-Corsairs would make it into the bj League play-offs this year.

Today Ryouta waited by one of the clumps of trees that edged the main walk, as unobtrusively as he could manage, and fell in quietly beside Kasamatsu-senpai when he finally emerged from the classroom building. “So,” he said after a few steps. “Enrollment lists came out today, right? Did you find anyone to go look at Toukai’s?”

Kasamatsu-senpai shuddered. “No. In fact, I turned my phone off all during class. I don’t think I could stand to get that news and then have to pretend to pay attention to history review.” He hunched one shoulder under the strap of his bag. “I’m going to go see for myself now.”

“I’m sure you’ll make it in,” Ryouta said encouragingly, and ducked as Kasamatsu-senpai swatted at his head.

“As if you know anything about it, yet. Toukai is a top school; even these days they can afford to be choosy.” They were nearly at the gates, and Kasamatsu-senpai straightened up and took a deep breath. “All right. Here I go.”

“Good luck, senpai.” Ryouta waved him out and watched for a little while before he had to sprint for practice to keep the coach from yelling at him. University, he thought as he dashed down the campus walks. It was March, and Kasamatsu-senpai was heading for university, was almost gone.

He pushed the faint panic of that thought aside and ran faster.

Ryouta worked hard, that practice, pushing himself harder than he had for a while. Their coach had kept an eye on him ever since Aida-san started throwing words like “overstrain” and “bone damage” around. Today, though, he needed this, needed to work until his muscles and nerves had the tension worn out of them.

Which meant he only jumped a little when someone spoke from behind him, as he was closing the outer door of the sports complex.

“Do you always stay this late?”

Ryouta spun around, startled. “Kasamatsu-senpai!” It took him a moment to realize he’d been asked a question and shrug sheepishly. “Not always.”

Kasamatsu-senpai pushed away from the wall where he’d been leaning, with an unimpressed grunt. “Maybe I should have been keeping a little closer eye on you.”

“You don’t really have to,” Kise mumbled, perfectly well aware this was a social denial, not a real one, and probably sounded like it; then he remembered and perked up. “Hey, did you get in?”

Kasamatsu-senpai grinned at that. “Yeah, I thought I’d come tell you instead of making you wait for tomorrow. I got in.”

“That’s fantastic, congratulations!” And Ryouta meant it, really he did, he just couldn’t help the little twist inside at the thought that it was really real. Kasamatsu-senpai was leaving.

Kasamatsu-senpai cocked his head, looking up at Ryouta steadily. “That wasn’t the only thing I figured I should tell you, now,” he said, finally, and jerked his head down the walk. “Come on, before we get locked on campus.”

Ryouta trailed along, curious. Surely there wasn’t anything left to tell him about the club; his various excuses earlier in the year had covered everything he could imagine, sooner or later. They turned toward the little shopping district Ryouta passed through every day on the way to school, quiet and dark at this time of night, except for a restaurant here and there.

“So,” he finally said, unsure what to do with all this quiet and searching for something to fill it with, “I guess you won’t be my senpai for much longer.”

Of course, there was never a guarantee that what he found would be any better than the quiet.

But Kasamatsu-senpai sounded genuinely amused when he snorted. “Just because I’m graduating before you?” He had his eyes fixed on the sidewalk in front of them. “Didn’t stop me last time.”

Ryouta blinked, trying to make sense of that a couple different ways before he gave up. “Um. It… didn’t?”

“You entered the middle-school club your second year,” Kasamatsu-senpai said quietly, almost musing to himself. “And it’s not like I played every game. No reason for you to remember, and I don’t think we ever even met.” He heaved in a breath. “I was at Teikou too, though.”

It wasn’t until Kasamatsu-senpai looked back and turned around that Ryouta realized he’d stopped walking. “You…” He couldn’t quite get past that first word.

“Mm.” Kasamatsu-senpai shoved his hands into his pockets, watching Ryouta with dark eyes. “First string. So I met Akashi, his first year. That’s… kind of why I didn’t say anything.”

“But…” Ryouta seemed to be stuck with single words today.

Kasamatsu-senpai sighed and came to grab Ryouta’s arm. “Here. Get out of the middle of the sidewalk.” He pulled Ryouta over to the concrete planters beside the sweets shop on the corner and pushed him down to sit on the edge. He thumped down beside Ryouta, looking down at his crossed arms. “I could see it, even then,” he said, low. “Akashi… he was different. And he kept pushing the captain and coach for more reckless policies. Perfectly polite about it, but… you could see he didn’t really think about the idea of losing. After the Cup this year, I’m pretty sure of it—he didn’t understand losing, or what it does to people, or how losing is part of the game itself. So he didn’t care.” He glanced up at Ryouta, mouth tilted ruefully. “In case you ever wondered just why I was so pissed off when you said that practice match with Seirin was the first time you ever lost.”

“It… I… the first time I’d lost a game,” Ryouta specified, dazed. "I lost all the time to Aominecchi." Kasamatsu-senpai’s smile un-tilted, and he nudged Ryouta’s shoulder with his.

“Yeah, when we played Touou I got that part.” He leaned forward, elbows on his knees, clasping his hands between them. “So. I didn’t like what I saw of Akashi, and I didn’t like what I heard after I graduated. When Kaijou recruited you, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But I knew I wanted to show you something different. Something I didn’t think you’d be able to associate with the name ‘Teikou’.”

“Something different…?” Ryouta echoed softly, still a little lost in the idea that he’d had a… a… a double-senpai at Kaijou.

Kasamatsu-senpai was quiet for a long moment. “It’s not like Teikou wasn’t always strict. It was. Screwing up bad enough always got you dropped down a rank. Competition to actually play was always fierce. But all that was so we could win. Not so we could win, if that makes sense.” He glanced sidelong at Ryouta. “Even if I hadn’t met you, you were still my kouhai. I wanted you to see what that was like.”

Ryouta felt like he couldn’t quite catch his breath. “I have,” he said, husky. “I really have.” Because, yes, what Kasamatsu-senpai said made perfect sense. And, no, Ryouta probably wouldn’t have understood before this year, before his new team, his new captain. “Thank you,” he finished, finally.

And then it hit him all over again, that he was about to lose this, and he pulled one knee up to his chest, leaning his chin against it so he could bite his tongue without being obvious about it. If he concentrated on that little pain he could push back the bigger one.

“Oh, not the puppy-dog eyes, come on,” Kasamatsu-senpai groaned, and pummeled his shoulder. “I told you already, graduating ahead of you didn’t stop me from looking after my kouhai last time, and it isn’t going to stop me this time either!”

“But… you’ll be gone.” Ryouta’s voice was unsteadier than he’d wanted it to be, and he looked away, embarrassed. He heard Kasamatsu-senpai heave a put-upon sigh.

“Idiot. Why do you think I waited to tell you this until I knew I was in at Toukai? The Physical Education program is based on the Shounan campus. I’ll be right next door.”

Ryouta stared down the empty street, not seeing it. That sounded… like Kasamatsu-senpai thought he might visit. That would be something, at least. "Okay."

Another sigh, softer this time, and Kasamatsu-senpai’s hand settled on his hair, much more gently than usual. His voice was gentler, too, when he repeated, “Why do you think I waited to tell you? After you spent nearly three months trying to keep me from really leaving the club, I didn’t want to say anything unless I was sure I wouldn’t just be leaving the city right after.”

Ryouta’s face was hot, and he was inescapably aware that, yes, he really had been that pathetic.

“Hey.” Kasamatsu-senpai’s hand slid down to his nape and shook him a little. “Didn’t say I minded.”

Ryouta peeked at him sidelong, positive that he was completely red. “…really?”

Kasamatsu-senpai was watching him with a faint smile. “Come here.” He tugged Ryouta down to him, and Ryouta’s breath drew in quick and shaky as Kasamatsu-senpai kissed him. “Really.”

Ryouta leaned against him, feeling how wide his own eyes were. “Senpai.”

“Twice,” Kasamatsu-senpai agreed, mouth quirking. “So relax a little, okay? I’m not leaving.”

Ryouta swallowed, a little shocked by how relieved he felt to hear that. How much he’d wound himself up in Kasamatsu-senpai without admitting it to himself. He managed a tiny smile, still feeling the warmth of that brief kiss on his lips, and agreed softly, “Yes, senpai.”

Kasamatsu-senpai’s hand tightened on his nape for a moment, perfectly reassuring. “Good.” And then he stood, pulling Ryouta with him. “So let’s go get some food. I was too freaked out to eat before I went and looked at the admission lists.”

On cue, Ryouta’s stomach growled, and he laughed. “Yeah. Okay.” He ducked his head and gave Kasamatsu-senpai his best winsome look as they started walking again. “Senpai pay for their kouhai, right?” It probably said something about them, that getting kicked for that settled his nerves.

“Of course they do, so quit looking at me like I’m one of your damn fanclub!”

It took a few moments for Ryouta to realize that Kasamatsu-senpai had actually agreed, and then he couldn’t help the way his grin softened, how shy the sidelong look he gave his senpai was.

Or how red he turned when Kasamatsu-senpai told him, eyes gleaming, “And that look you should save for somewhere more private.”

Ryouta floated through the next day in a bit of a daze, forgot all the answers on the History test, and started rumor galloping through his fanclub when someone spotted him doodling versions of the first characters of Kasamatsu-senpai’s name and his own in the fanciest style he could manage.

Kasamatsu-senpai was rolling his eyes and trying to keep a smile under control when Ryouta met him after classes. “It’s a good thing it is almost the end of the year, or you’d have the whole school in a panic.” This said with the cheerfulness of a captain who would never have to deal with Ryouta’s fanclub during practice again. “I could hear the shrieking two floors up.”

Ryouta ran a hand through his hair and sighed. “I’ll have to figure out how to let Ryuu-chan down easy. She’s the front-runner in the rumors.”

“You’re way too nice.”

“I was trained to be!” Ryouta protested, remembering the constant murmurs from agency minders about Smile, now, Kise-kun, nice and bright. “It’s just for show, and most of them know it too. You know I wouldn’t—”

That was when the memory of something he hadn’t thought about at all last night, or today, dropped on his head, feeling very much like a brick.

“Of course I know, don’t be ridiculous,” Kasamatsu-senpai was scoffing, but he paused when he glanced over at Ryouta. “Kise?”

“I should have said before, I just didn’t think of it.” Ryouta resisted the urge to chew on his lip, something else he’d been pretty strenuously trained out of and hadn’t even felt the urge to do in years. “Aominecchi… we… it’s…” He made a frustrated sound at his inability to find good words for what was between them.

Kasamatsu-senpai was wearing a tiny smile. “Aomine, hm? I like the fact that he didn’t occur to you sooner, actually.”

Ryouta was coming to the conclusion that Kasamatsu-senpai enjoyed making him blush. “It’s just… well, after Aida-san and Momocchi set it up so we could get some matches in, it just… spills over sometimes.”

“Since I’m not actually blind, and have in fact seen you two play,” Kasamatsu-senpai said dryly, “that doesn’t surprise me at all.”

Ryouta took a deep breath. “It’s just… today is one of the days Aominecchi is allowed to come here for a match after practice is officially over.”

They stopped by the school gates, and Kasamatsu-senpai looked up at Ryouta thoughtfully. “So do you need me to warn him off, or do you need me to tell you it’s all right?”

Ryouta gave him an indignant look. “I don’t need anyone to warn anyone off, I can do that perfectly well myself!”

“So you want it to be all right,” Kasamatsu-senpai said softly, watching him, ignoring the slowing stream of other students walking past just a meter or two away. One of the things that drew Ryouta to Kasamatsu-senpai was the way he could see past some of the faces Ryouta wore, some of the things he didn’t say. But sometimes Ryouta wished he couldn’t.

Ryouta bent his head, studying his toes. “I know it’s a selfish thing to want,” he said, low. “I know… what that’s usually called. I just… when we play one-on-one, there’s so much, and it’s Aominecchi, he’s the one who opened this whole world up for me, and he’s coming back to us now, and…” He trailed off because Kasamatsu-senpai’s hand was on his wrist, light and warm.

“He’s important to you. I can understand that.” Kasamatsu-senpai’s hand tightened for a moment and let go. “All right. Play Aomine as much as you want. Even,” a corner of his mouth curled up, “if it spills over.”

Ryouta knew he was staring and couldn’t help himself. “It’s really all right?”

Kasamatsu-senpai’s crooked smile became a smirk. “Aomine isn’t the one you just spent three months trailing around after.”

Kasamatsu-senpai definitely liked to make him blush.

“I’ll make you a deal,” he continued, lower. “Go ahead and play with Aomine tonight. Come home with me tomorrow.”

There was not, Ryouta thought, enough air out here. At least, it didn’t seem to be doing him any good at the moment, because he couldn’t quite catch his breath. “Yes, senpai,” he said, husky, feeling how wide his eyes had gone.

Kasamatsu-senpai smiled. “I’ve seen the two of you play,” he repeated, “and you don’t look at him like this, even then. It’s fine, Kise.” And then he hitched his bag up over his shoulder and strolled out the school gates, leaving Ryouta wondering how on earth he was supposed to keep his mind on practice, now.

“Come on in.”

Ryouta stepped into the small, quiet house after Kasamatsu-senpai, toeing off his shoes and glancing around at the dimness. “Your parents aren’t home yet either?”

“Tou-san works late a lot.” Kasamatsu-senpai shot a small smile over his shoulder as he led the way up the stairs. “And this is Kaa-san’s mahjong night with her friends.”

Definite anticipation curled in Ryouta’s stomach, shivery and warm, as he followed Kasamatsu-senpai up to his room. His own mother, of course, had understood immediately why he wanted to stay over at his senpai’s house, and that it had nothing to do with watching match videos. She’d stood on tip-toe to kiss his forehead and told him to enjoy himself. Ryouta had smiled and nodded reassurance to the shadow of a question in those bright eyes so much like his. She’d relaxed, then, and said how good it was that he had a proper senpai to take care of him, and they’d giggled together while his father just shook his head indulgently over how flighty they could be.

Kasamatsu-senpai’s room was very like he was himself—spare and compact and stuffed with basketball. There were rows of magazines and videos on the book case, several shoe boxes stacked neatly in the corner, and he dropped his bag in what was clearly its proper place, beside the desk next to a larger bag that had one end rounded around a basketball.

“Going to stand there all night?”

Ryouta started a little, realizing he was still in the doorway. Kasamatsu-senpai was sitting on the edge of his bed, watching him. “I… no, of course not.”

Kasamatsu-senpai held out a hand, looking rather amused. “Come here, then.”

Unaccustomed nerves fluttered in Ryouta’s stomach as he stepped slowly across the room. Kasamatsu-senpai’s brows rose, but his smile softened. He caught Ryouta’s wrists and tugged him down until he was kneeling between Kasamatsu-senpai’s legs, and gathered him close. “Sure you’ve done this before?”

Ryouta leaned against him, enjoying the hand running up and down his back. Softly, not looking up, he said, “I have. It’s just never been quite like this.”

“Is that good?” Kasamatsu-senpai’s hand slid up into his hair, and Ryouta let his head drop to rest on Kasamatsu-senpai’s shoulder, hands linked behind his back.

“It is. I… hope it is.” After a moment, putting his words together carefully, he went on. “You don’t like how I have to be for work. I mean, it was kind of obvious. So I was mostly serious, for you, unless I just forgot. Or unless I was trying to wind you up,” he admitted, and laughed at his senpai’s growl. The fingers cradling his head stayed gentle, though, and he relaxed under them. “This isn’t just being serious, though.” Serious was pretty easy, actually, especially in the middle of a game. Being not-serious and also not-joking made him a little nervous, uncertain how he should be acting. It felt good, though, being held like this.

Kasamatsu-senpai’s breath gusted against Ryouta’s neck as he sighed. Instead of the briskness Ryouta was used to from his captain, though, his voice was quiet when he said, “It’s okay. I’m your senpai, right? That means I’ll take care of you. So quit worrying so much.”

Ryouta shivered a little at that assurance, at the reminder of how clearly Kasamatsu-senpai saw him and understood him. “Even like this?” he asked, a bit hesitant. It wasn’t like he had much basis for comparison, never having had many senpai except in the technical sense, but this seemed a little above and beyond the usual call.

A huff of laughter was warm against his neck. “Like this is special. But I’ll still take care of you.”

Ryouta was laughing a little himself, with nerves and happiness. “Okay.” He lifted his head and leaned in, parting his lips willingly when Kasamatsu-senpai caught his mouth. The warm slide of a tongue over his made things easier, easier to just feel instead of worrying. The question of how to act would answer itself, like it always did, as a reflection of the world around him.

…he just hadn’t expected it to answer itself quite this way. With each kiss, with each button Kasamatsu-senpai undid, with each slide of fingers over skin, Kasamatsu-senpai’s touch turned gentler. Instead of holding Ryouta harder, he held him more carefully. By the time he’d gotten rid of the last of their clothes and tugged Ryouta up onto the bed and settled over him, he was cradling Ryouta’s face in his hands, kissing him slow and coaxing.

And Ryouta felt himself answering the only way that felt right, by relaxing more for every gentled touch until he was lying under Kasamatsu-senpai flushed and open and shaking a little with it. He didn’t do this, didn’t let his games and smiles and teasing all fall away. Never before, at least. It had never felt so right to do it, but now Kasamatsu-senpai’s careful touch was brushing those things away and Ryouta was letting it happen. “Senpai,” he whispered against Kasamatsu-senpai’s mouth, husky.

Kasamatsu-senpai raised his head and looked down at him with a little smile. “Under the circumstances, I think you can use my given name if you want.”

Ryouta swallowed, looking aside from those clear, dark eyes, shy in face of their steadiness. He felt exposed and sheltered at the same time, and the combination made him dizzy. “Yukio-san,” he said softly.

Kasamatsu-senpai turned Ryouta’s face back to him and kissed him, soft and easy. “Ryouta.”

The intimacy of his name, spoken like that, made Ryouta’s breath catch hard. “Senpai,” he gasped, a little pleading, and Yukio-san gathered him up tight.

“Shh, it’s okay.” A hand settled, warm, on the back of his neck, rubbing slowly. “It’s okay. We’ll go slow.”

Ryouta turned his head into Yukio-san’s shoulder, face a little hot. What he’d said earlier was turning out to be truer than he’d known. He never had done it like this before. Not with someone who saw him.

Not with someone he let see him, opened himself up for and offered himself to.

The irreverent corner of his mind observed that it was a good thing Yukio-san was prepared to treat him like a virgin. He seemed to be one after all, in a way he hadn’t even known. Somehow, the thought made it easier; easier to understand why he felt so shaky. He took a slow breath and looked up at his senpai. “Thank you, Yukio-san.”

Yukio-san brushed his thumb over Ryouta’s lips, looking down at him seriously. “I told you I’d take care of you.”

Ryouta closed his eyes for a moment at the rush of warmth that sent through him, and turned his head to kiss Yukio-san’s palm. Against it, he murmured. “Thank you, senpai.”

Yukio-san’s weight over him was comforting, and when he caught Ryouta’s chin and kissed him again, Ryouta let himself relax into the rising heat without resistance. Kiss after kiss, as Yukio-san’s hands stroked down his body, over his ribs, cupping his ass, Ryouta let himself answer openly, let his arms wind tight around Yukio-san to anchor himself against the way those gentle, steady hands on him made him shake. “Yukio-san,” he gasped at last, husky. “Please…” He felt Yukio-san’s mouth curve against his.

“Yeah. Now is good, I think.” Yukio-san’s weight eased off him and he nudged Ryouta’s hip. “Here.”

Ryouta let Yukio-san turn him over, heat and want curling together as he stretched out on his stomach and Yukio-san leaned over him to rummage in the small, square set of drawers beside the bed, where the alarm stood. The feel of slick, cool fingers pushing into him made him moan against the sheets. It was the slide of Yukio-san’s mouth against his nape that made him shudder with a rush of hot response, though. “Please…”

“Shhh.” Yukio-san’s lips brushed his skin. “I’ve got you, Ryouta. Easy.”

That care, that support, the quiet, serious warmth of Yukio-san’s voice, pulled a whimper out of him. The words worked his heart open the way Yukio-san’s fingers opened his body, and it felt so good, so very good. When Yukio-san finally pulled him up onto his knees, Ryouta was panting and hard and more than ready. He would have pushed back into the slow stretch of Yukio-san’s cock pressing in, would have taken him in faster, if Yukio-san hadn’t held him firmly. “Yukio-san!”

There was a flash of Yukio-san’s usual temper in his voice, softened by amusement. “I’m not letting you hurt yourself, and damn you’re tight, Ryouta. Do what your senpai says, already!”

Ryouta laughed, breathless and unsteady with the slide and stretch of Yukio-san pushing in. “Yes, senpai.” But he still wriggled in Yukio-san’s grip and moaned openly when he sank all the way home. Softly he pleaded, “I can take it harder than that, please, senpai…”

Yukio-san snorted, and his voice was getting husky too. “Pushy aren’t you? All right, then.”

When he pulled back and thrust into Ryouta hard and deep, heat poured down Ryouta’s spine like lava and he couldn’t be embarrassed by the sound he made. His hands closed into fists on the sheets as Yukio-san fucked him breathlessly hard, holding him steady for every stroke. It was so good to let himself fall down into the pure sensation, and his whole body flexed wantonly in Yukio-san’s hands, eager for this, for more. Good as that was, though, it was the sound of Yukio-san’s voice that wrapped heat around him until he was a little crazy with it. That voice, softened for him, whispering things like Easy, I’ve got you and I’ll take care of it all, just let me and Let go, Ryouta, it’s okay.

It was that last one that undid him.

He moaned out loud as pleasure burst through him, shaking him senseless with the thought that he was safe, it was all right to let himself go, to feel this as much as he wanted. The hoarse gasp above him assured him that Yukio-san was with him, felt this as much as he did, but those hands were still holding him steady. Not letting go. When the heat finally faded a little and Yukio-san let him down to the bed again, he kept on holding Ryouta close and steady, and Ryouta turned and clung to him shamelessly.

“Shh.” Yukio-san’s hand spread against his back, warm and sure. “It’s still okay.”

Ryouta nodded wordlessly where his head was buried in Yukio-san’s shoulder. He hadn’t felt like this even when it really was the first time he’d had sex. He’d never felt like this before. Never let anyone open him up like this. “You’re really staying,” he said, low, just to say it out loud and reassure himself.

“Yeah, I am.” There was maybe a smile in Yukio-san’s voice when he said, “So are you, after all.” His hand slid over the arms Ryouta had locked around him. Ryouta looked up at him, still flushed and shaky, more open than he remembered being in years.

“Yes, Yukio-san.”

Because Yukio-san brushed aside all the charm Ryouta met the world with and still wanted him, saw Ryouta’s selfishness and wanting and still sheltered him, because of these things Ryouta would stay here in Yukio-san’s hands. The gentleness of those hands when Yukio-san tipped up Ryouta’s chin and kissed him said that this was where Ryouta belonged.

More than anywhere else, right here.


A/N: When Aomine calls Kasamatsu "senpai" during the Kaijou v Touou game, it’s pretty clear that’s just Aomine offering a typically sarcastic token of respect for Kasamatsu’s guts in setting Aomine up for a foul. But I couldn’t help thinking, what if it had meant something more, what if Kasamatsu had been at Teikou and seen the beginning of all that craziness? I couldn’t resist using the idea.

In hanakotoba, hibiscus indicate gentleness or delicacy.

Last Modified: Sep 17, 13
Posted: Oct 10, 12
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Aomine always seems to be searching for his boundaries. Kuroko decides it’s time to give him one. D/s, Porn with Characterization, I-4

Aomine Daiki dropped a couple cans of soda on the low table and threw himself down on the scruffy couch in the apartment he shared with his dad, sprawling comfortably. He was still grinning. He hadn’t stopped grinning since Tetsu, acting as their referee, had declared that his last shot counted and he’d won.

Kagami was getting good enough to push him, one-on-one, and Daiki loved it.

“That,” he declared, stretching luxuriously, “was fantastic.”

Kagami snorted into his drink. “You would think so, yeah.”

“Don’t give me that.” Daiki prodded Kagami’s knee with a foot and laughed when Kagami swatted at him and scooted further around the table. “You wouldn’t keep coming up here if you didn’t think so too.” And, yeah, so Daiki had started it, coming down to Seirin to catch Kagami and Tetsu after practice and goad Kagami into matches. But it hadn’t taken more than a month or two before Kagami had gotten Tetsu to lead him to Daiki’s door and demanded (yet another) rematch. “Isn’t it the best thing ever?” Daiki asked, letting his head fall back against the couch and baring his teeth at the ceiling. “Going all the way to the edge, and then pushing against it? Getting pushed back?”

He could almost hear Kagami rolling his eyes. “You and your—”


Daiki blinked and lifted his head. Tetsu had been quiet all the way back here from the court down by the overpass, a thinking kind of quiet. He hadn’t joined them yet, either, just leaned against the sliding door out to the tiny balcony and watched them. Now that he’d finally spoken (and since when did he call Kagami by name like that?), there was something serious in his voice. Kagami obviously thought so too; he was looking up at Tetsu, where he stood over them, with a silent question in his raised brows.

Tetsu didn’t answer him, though. Just rested his hand on the wild mess of Kagami’s hair for a moment as he stepped past him toward Daiki. “What is it?” Daiki asked those steady eyes resting on him.

“That’s what’s most important to you.” It was a statement, not a question. “Having something to push against that can stop you.”

Daiki’s mouth crooked up at one corner. “Not like that’s a secret. It’s what you went looking for, wasn’t it? When you left.”

“One of the things,” Tetsu agreed. “To make you see me again. To bring you back. But Kagami-kun has his own reasons for playing you; we’re partners, but it isn’t right to use his game for my own purposes. I think it’s time I was more direct.”

Daiki blinked, puzzled. Tetsu couldn’t be thinking of playing him one-on-one; Tetsu’s game had expanded, yes, he wasn’t a pure supporting player any more. But still…

Abruptly, Tetsu was more present, locking Daiki’s attention like a magnet. “Tetsu, what…?” he asked, startled. It was always a bit of a shock when Tetsu did that. And then Tetsu leaned over him, sliding a knee onto the couch and resting a hand on the back of it. His other hand caught Daiki’s chin firmly, and Daiki couldn’t do anything but stare. He knew Tetsu was far more forceful than his polite words and self-effacing habits led people to expect, but this… this was…

This was different.

The part of his mind that wasn’t blank with startlement was expecting a kiss, but Tetsu just stayed where he was, leaning over Daiki, holding him, not letting his attention move anywhere else. And, Daiki thought slowly, letting him realize that. “Tetsu,” he said again, husky with the sudden curl of heat low in his stomach. “What are you doing?” He slid his hands up to close on Tetsu’s hips, not to steady Tetsu but to steady himself.

“Giving you what you want,” Tetsu told him quietly, and now he leaned down and kissed Daiki. It was slow and wet and demanding, and Daiki wondered hazily where Tetsu had learned to kiss, because he sure as hell knew what he was doing. When he started to lean up into it, though, Tetsu’s hand on his jaw tightened, holding him still. The heat in his groin tightened too, answering that grip. Tetsu finished kissing him, taking his time about it while Daiki sat, stunned.

Tetsu was…

“Be still, Aomine-kun,” Tetsu said as he drew back, and his voice was quiet and even and so utterly sure things would be the way he said that Daiki nearly shuddered just to hear it. He let Tetsu lift his chin, fingers tightening on Tetsu’s hips as his head was tipped all the way back against the couch cushions and held there.

“Fuck, Tetsu…” he gasped, feeling his spine pull taut with something he didn’t have a name for, anticipation or resistance or maybe both.

“Something that will stop you,” Tetsu said, soft and musing, not letting him go. “Someone that will stop you.” The heat of his mouth on Daiki’s bared throat, wet and slow, made Daiki jerk tauter, and oh god he was hard from this, from the things Tetsu was implying. Tetsu sucked sharply, just under the point of Daiki’s jaw, and he groaned with the hot almost-pain. There would be a mark there. The realization made him dizzy, or maybe that was just the way he was panting for breath now.

Tetsu lifted his head and relaxed his grip on Daiki’s chin, stroking the line of his jaw gently. Daiki just looked up at him, dazed. “When we’re together like this,” Tetsu said in that low, even, relentless voice, “you will only do what I allow you to do.” He touched Daiki’s cheek softly. “Yes or no?”

Daiki sat, still caged under the arch of Tetsu’s body, head spinning. This was crazy. He was crazy, he didn’t even know why this was making him so hot. Except… it was Tetsu, who he had never, ever been able to overwhelm or budge from his position on any subject, in any game. Tetsu always stood firm, always came back, never backed down, was the one thing Daiki could count on without doubts. Tetsu was the one immoveable thing he could lean against.

But… like this?

“I…” He had to clear his throat and try again. “Tetsu, this is… I’m not…”

Tetsu touched a finger to Daiki’s lips, eyes steady and calm. “Yes or no? That’s the only choice you have.”

Daiki swallowed hard at the spike of heat those words put up his spine, but…

Tetsu smiled, small and private, just between them, and closed his hands around Daiki’s face, resting their foreheads together. “I’ll take care of you, Daiki. You know that.”

The heat in him turned molten, spreading until Daiki wondered if he was going to come from that assurance alone. Because he did know it. Tetsu had always taken care of him, held him steady, brought him back.

And, fuck it, he wanted that, not just in the game but here too.

“Yes,” he whispered, closing his eyes.

“Good,” Tetsu murmured to him, sliding one hand down to his throat, thumb stroking the tender spot where he’d marked Daiki. It made Daiki shiver, hands flexing against Tetsu’s hips. Tetsu’s hands slid over his shoulders, down his arms, and closed on Daiki’s wrists. “Not there,” Tetsu murmured, pulling Daiki’s hands away and guiding them up and back until they were pressed against the back of the couch, behind Daiki’s head. Tetsu smiled down at him, and now there was a glint in his eyes. “Here.”

Daiki’s breath was coming short again with how it felt to be spread out under Tetsu like this, hands gripping the couch frame behind his head, legs spread. “Okay.”

“Don’t move until I tell you you may,” Tetsu ordered, cool and level, and Daiki nearly moaned. He did moan when Tetsu reached down to unfasten his jeans and tug down his underwear just far enough to free his cock.

Tetsu stayed right where he was, kneeling over Daiki, not touching him anywhere except for his hand wrapped around Daiki’s cock and fondling him slowly. Daiki’s whole body pulled tighter and tighter, under him, until he was clinging to the frame of the couch, trembling with the need to rock up into Tetsu’s hand. Nothing but Tetsu’s word held him back, nothing but Tetsu’s eyes on him, steady and unmoving, but that was enough. Daiki had said yes, given himself up to the one will that had always stood firmer than his. He did as Tetsu said.

It felt incredible.

Tetsu’s fingers were gentle on him, gentle and slow, until Daiki was arched taut under him, gasping helplessly for breath, spread out and begging with every inch of his body. “Tetsu…”

“Good,” Tetsu told him, warm and quiet. “That’s good, Daiki. Now come for me.” His hand wrapped tighter around Daiki’s cock, pumping slow and sure, and Daiki made a hoarse sound as pleasure ripped through him, wrung out his whole body wild and hard, blinded him to everything but raw sensation and the sound of Tetsu’s voice reassuring him.

As he came back down, slow and dazed, he felt Tetsu’s hands sliding over his arms, gently loosening the grip of his hands and guiding them back down, stroking over his neck and shoulders and cradling the back of his head as Tetsu kissed him. Daiki finally pried his eyes back open and looked up at Tetsu, dazed. “Wow.”

Tetsu laughed quietly. “You can move, now.”

“Oh sure,” Daiki murmured, completely wrung out. “Now that I don’t think I can any more…”

Tetsu smiled and leaned down to kiss his forehead. “So, was it good?” he asked.

“Yeah.” Daiki took a long breath, trying to fit what had just happened into his head in some kind of sensible way. It didn’t work very well, but one thing was clear; Tetsu was unreasonably good at finding what Daiki needed. “I… thanks.”

There was a definite glint of satisfaction in Tetsu’s eyes. “My pleasure.” One hand slipped down to knead the nape of Daiki’s neck, slow and easy, and he raised his voice a little. “What did you think, Taiga?”


Daiki froze at the question and the husky reply. He’d forgotten Kagami was there. Tetsu had locked his attention so tight, he’d forgotten. Tetsu’s hand tightened on his nape, now, and he murmured, “Only what I allow, remember.”

How did that make sense of Kagami still being here?!

Kagami’s voice was a little shaky. “You know, you say you’re not a sadist, but every now and then I really wonder. I also think you really like making me come without touching me. God.” A huff of breath, and then he spoke again, voice softer. “Aomine. It’s okay, really. We’re… Tetsuya and I… we’re like this, too.”

“Taiga won’t touch you unless I say,” Tetsu told him quietly. “But he’s part of this too, don’t you think?”

Daiki could nearly hear the fizzle as his brain’s ability to make sense of things gave out, like a fuse blowing. What was left was something hot, knowing that Tetsu had taken him like that in front of someone else. In front of Tetsu’s other lover. In front of the other person he held this way. Something hot and wanting curled through him, thinking about that. Daiki wrapped his arms around Tetsu and buried his head against Tetsu’s shoulder with a breathless sound.

“Good,” Tetsu whispered to him, fingers stroking his hair gently. And a little louder, “Taiga, come here.”

It was the same quiet, utterly inflexible command that Tetsu had pinned Daiki down with, and it put a little twist of heat through him to hear it addressed to someone else. Daiki took a good breath in and out, as the couch compressed beside him, and raised his head to look at Kagami. Who was very flushed and definitely looked like he’d done his clothes back up in a hurry. And who bent his head under Tetsu’s hand when Tetsu reached over to run his fingers gently through Kagami’s hair. Daiki had to swallow, watching that, and suddenly it made a lot more sense how just watching him and Tetsu could have gotten Kagami off.

“Daiki. Taiga. Do the two of you want to be together, in this?” Tetsu asked. “I can keep it separate, if not, but it does seem like a sensible extension of how you two are about the game.”

Kagami snorted, mouth curled in obvious amusement as he looked up. “What, you mean both of us completely in your hands, both on the court and off?”

“Taiga,” Tetsu chided, tugging gently on his hair. “I’m not Akashi-kun, and no one is in my control, on the court.”

“I know.” Kagami smiled as he caught Tetsu’s hand and twined their fingers together. “But you hold us, don’t you?”

There was something unspoken there, in the way they looked at each other, some reference to another conversation, and Daiki didn’t even realize his arms had tightened around Tetsu until Tetsu looked down at him, eyes soft and clear, stroking his hair again. “I do hold you,” he said, as if it were an answer to Daiki and not Kagami. “No matter which side we’re on.”

Maybe it was an answer for him after all, because hearing that settled the flare of jealousy. “I guess we can try it.” Daiki shrugged. “Together.” He slid a glance at Kagami, who nodded agreement and promptly held out his other hand to Daiki.

Daiki curled his lip and glanced aside. “What are you, a girl?” He let one hand drop to meet Kagami’s though.

“At least I’m not an asshole,” Kagami retorted, but his fingers were almost as gentle as Tetsu’s, wrapping around Daiki’s.

“The two of you,” Tetsu sighed, but there was a tiny smile on his lips when Daiki looked up, and his touch was proprietary when he reached out to rest his hands on their shoulders. It made something in Daiki relax, just to feel that, and he gave up attempting to get his sensibleness back on line.

Tetsu’s hand on him was its own kind of sense, and Daiki thought he liked that better.


Last Modified: Sep 17, 13
Posted: Oct 17, 12
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Reach Out and Touch Yourself

After a tournament match, Aomine calls Kuroko to blow off some steam and Kuroko thinks this has some fascinating possibilities. D/s Phonesex, I-4

Daiki had thought it might be weird, the first time he played Kagami and Tetsu in a tournament match after the three of them started sleeping together. More precisely, after he’d started taking orders from Tetsu, in bed. Would it spill over? Would any of them hesitate? Would Tetsu look at him the way he did when he had Daiki down on the bed and begging?

It had taken a few turns around the arena in the cool spring air before Daiki had been able to get his mind back where it belonged, after starting to think that, but that just made his point.

And when Touou and Seirin met on the court, when he and Tetsu and Kagami all looked at each other under the bright overhead floodlights, Tetsu had given them an order. But that order was, “No holding back. We all play with everything we have.”

Kagami and Daiki had bared their teeth at each other. “Obviously,” Daiki purred, feeling exhilaration rise, light in his chest.

And they’d hammered at each other, on the court, clawing tooth and nail for the ball, even fiercer than they’d played when they’d met in the Cup last year. It was Touou who won this time, and Daiki still felt drunk on the wild glee of it, hours later, and who cared if it was just a preliminary match?

It was Tetsu who’d brought that feeling back to him, and maybe that was why he found his fingers wandering toward his phone as he sprawled on his bed that evening, tapping up Tetsu’s number.

“Are you calling to gloat?” Tetsu asked, when he answered, but he sounded amused.

Daiki laughed. “Well, I could if you want.”

He could almost hear Tetsu rolling his eyes.

“But no. I called…” he hesitated for a long moment, but finally let the words flow. “I called to thank you. I didn’t, last year.”

“I didn’t expect you to,” Tetsu said gently. “You’d just lost.”

“I’d just woken up,” Daiki corrected, staring up at the slightly warped plaster of his ceiling. “I knew I should thank you for that, even then. And now…” He rolled over with a bounce and leaned on his elbows, unable to be still. “Now it’s so incredible! We won, and it feels so good again, Tetsu!”

“I knew there would be gloating,” Tetsu teased, deadpan, but he relented when Daiki growled. “I’m glad for you. That was what I wanted for you, again.”

“I have it.” Daiki softened, stretching out on one side, phone against his ear. “So thank you. I’d forgotten how amazing it feels.”

And maybe his voice had gotten a little husky, and maybe it wasn’t a surprise when Tetsu’s voice lowered too, and turned level and intent. “How does it feel, Aomine-kun?”

Just that tone was enough to put a shiver through him, these days, and Daiki swallowed to hear it. “Really good, Tetsu,” he murmured. “Like I’m flying.”

“Do you want more?”

Anticipation tightened his body, flicking his nerves with heat. “Yes, Tetsu,” he said, husky, “please.”

“Take off your clothes and set your phone on speaker,” Tetsu ordered softly, “and tell me when you have.”

It only took a few seconds to strip off the shirt and shorts he wore around the house, and Daiki lay back down, hypersensitive to the cool folds of the sheets and blankets under him, the brush of air over his skin. He switched his phone over to speaker and laid it by his head. “I have.”

“Good. Then wrap your hand around your cock and stroke yourself. Slowly.”

Daiki did as he was told, breath catching at the warmth of his own fingers wrapped around him. A shudder ran through him at the slow drag of his palm over his cock. “Tetsu…”

“Slowly, Daiki.” The firm command, and the intimacy of his given name, pulled a soft whine out of him as heat shot up his spine in response.

“Yes, Tetsu,” he whispered, closing his eyes and stroking the hard length of his cock slowly, teeth set in his lower lip.

“Good,” Tetsu praised him gently, and Daiki nearly whimpered. Every now and then he remembered that this was crazy, that he had no actual idea why giving himself up to Tetsu felt so good, but the thought always drowned in the sweetness of Tetsu’s approval, the heat of his control. “You’re getting close, aren’t you?” Tetsu asked. “I can hear it in how you breathe.”

“Yes…” Daiki was panting for breath all right, taut with the effort of not rocking up into his own hand. He buried his other hand in the softness of his pillow, fingers working around it.

“Not yet.” It wasn’t even an order, more a statement of fact, and Daiki moaned. “Hold yourself, Daiki,” Tetsu told him. “Just hold your cock and rub your thumb over your head. Slowly.”

This time, Daiki definitely whimpered, shuddering with the licks of pleasure snapping through him, not quite enough to bring him off. “Tetsu, please…” He circled his thumb over the head of his cock, gasping at the hot ripple of sensation.

“Put two fingers of your other hand in your mouth.” There was a smile in Tetsu’s voice, the slow intent smile he got when one of his lovers started begging. “Suck on them like they were mine.”

Daiki sucked two fingers down, light-headed with want, with anticipation, with the heat of being held back by Tetsu’s voice alone. The sensation of his tongue around his own fingers braided together with the sensation of his fingers around his own cock until he was moaning softly.

“Very good,” Tetsu told him voice turning gentle again, even tender. “I’m going to use your fingers to fuck you, Daiki. Push them deep into your ass.”

Daiki moaned out loud, reaching under himself to do as Tetsu said. The stretch of his fingers made his hand tighten on his cock, and his hips bucked, sharp and involuntary. “Tetsu, please,” he gasped, “please let me…”

“Don’t move your other hand,” Tetsu ordered, perfectly even, perfectly confident of being obeyed. “Nothing but what I allow you, Daiki. Just rub your thumb over your head and fuck yourself.”

Little whines of pleasure and wanting worked their way out of Daiki’s throat as he thrust his fingers into his ass and fondled the head of his cock, trembling with the way sensation built and built, hot and thrilled by Tetsu’s relentless control.

“Now,” Tetsu finally said, voice soft over the phone. “Now you can move your hand. Fuck yourself hard, Daiki.”

Daiki groaned, finally freed to pump his cock hard and fast, to let his hips snap up and down between his hands, driving himself up and up until he fell over the edge and the entire bed shuddered with him as he came. “Tetsuya!”

It took him a minute, in the aftermath, to remember that his hands did actually belong to him, and retrieve them, breath catching as his fingers slid free.

“There.” Tetsu’s voice was warm. “Feel more relaxed now?”

Daiki laughed, rolling over on his side toward the phone. “Yeah. A lot.” He felt downright limp, after that.

“Then sleep well, Daiki,” Tetsuya told him softly. “We’ll see you soon.”

“You too.” Daiki smiled as he turned off his phone and groped for a handful of kleenex to mop up with before burrowing under his covers.

Tetsu really did take good care of him, he thought sleepily, as he turned out the light.

Tetsuya switched his own phone off speaker and smiled. “I have very demanding lovers.”

Naked and hard and spread out on the bed beside him, Taiga moaned. “God, Tetsuya, please…”

Tetsuya leaned back on one elbow, his other hand working slowly over his own cock, and watched Taiga, the way he’d watched him all through that phone call, watched how he’d flushed at the sounds Daiki made and the orders Tetsuya gave. Watched how his eyes turned dark as Tetsuya touched himself, and how he’d gotten breathless when Tetsuya shook his head, forbidding Taiga to do anything but watch. “Tell me what you want,” Tetsuya said now, softly.

“You,” Taiga said, husky. “Let me taste you, Tetsuya…”

“Mm, that does sound good.” Tetsuya settled back against the pillows and held out a hand to Taiga. “Come here, Taiga.”

Familiar satisfaction curled warm in his chest as Taiga came to him at once, sliding between Tetsuya’s spread legs and leaning over him. His hands slid eagerly up Tetsuya’s body, but he let himself be pressed down by a hand on the back of his head and wrapped his mouth around Tetsuya’s cock softly. It felt good, very good, to feel Taiga settle under his hand as he wove his fingers through Taiga’s hair. The slick, wet heat of Taiga’s mouth slid over him, slow and sure, following every flex of his fingers, and Tetsuya let himself lie back, supported by Taiga’s hands, let himself moan openly and listened to how Taiga’s breath hitched each time.

When one of Taiga’s hands slid down between his own legs, and the quick rhythm of Taiga’s breath turned quicker, Tetsuya smiled and let himself go, thrusting up into Taiga’s mouth until pleasure broke through him, fast and bright. The deep moan that answered him made his breath catch in a soft laugh. He stroked his hands through Taiga’s hair as he lay, catching his breath, eyes closed. When Taiga gasped and shuddered between his legs, he made a contented sound, sliding his fingers down to rub over Taiga’s nape gently, feeling his lover relax. Taiga finally turned his head to rest against Tetsuya’s hip and Tetsuya murmured, “Come up here.”

When they were settled again and Taiga was wrapped around him, quiet and smiling, Tetsuya asked, “Good?”

Taiga laughed, a soft huff of breath against his shoulder. “It’s always good when you finally stop teasing me.”

Tetsuya ran his fingers slowly through Taiga’s hair. “Should I tease you less?” He already knew Taiga needed to be held and ruled more gently than Daiki.

“No,” Taiga said softly. “I like it. I like it when you let yourself be a little silly and a little evil.” He curled closer around Tetsuya. “I like how it isn’t that different from how you hold me all the time.”

“All the time,” Tetsuya agreed, sure and quiet, pleased with the way Taiga relaxed. Some day Taiga would believe, all the way down, that Tetsuya would never deny him, would not open his hands and let go. Some day. For now, he just held his lover, his partner, closer, savoring the trust they already had.

It was enough.


Last Modified: Sep 17, 13
Posted: Oct 24, 12
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Trust in the Palm of Your Hand

The story of how Kagami wound up willing to be submissive for Kuroko. D/s, Porn with Characterization, I-4

“So, I know how I got here,” Aomine remarked thoughtfully, shifting a little against the bed. “But how did Tetsu talk you into this?”

Taiga grumbled against his bare shoulder. “You pick the weirdest times for long, meaningful talks.”

Aomine flexed his arms a bit, where they were draped against the pillows over his head, emphasizing the soft cuffs around his wrists. “Got nothing better to do until Tetsu decides what he’s going to do with me.”

Tetsuya smiled a little and dropped a kiss on the soft skin of Aomine’s inner arm, sending a faint shiver through him. “You’re fine where you are.”

“So, there you go.” Aomine nudged Taiga with his hip. “What’s the story?”

Taiga sighed and wrapped himself a little more snugly around Aomine’s perfectly relaxed sprawl. “He didn’t talk me into it. It… just kind of happened. I guess, really, it’d been happening pretty much since we met.” After a moment’s though, he smiled against Aomine’s shoulder. “I think the first time I knew about it was after the Cup final last year. Tatsuya waited, after, to talk to me. And Tetsuya was waiting for me after that.”

Taiga stopped short on the steps of the Metropolitan Gymnasium, startled. It was late. Almost everyone who’d come to watch the Winter Cup finals was gone, including the teams who’d played. But Kuroko was still sitting on the steps, bundled in his coat. “What are you doing here?”

“Waiting for you.”

Taiga opened his mouth and closed it again. When Kuroko sounded that matter-of-fact there was no getting anything else out of him. “Fine, come on, then.” He stuffed his hands in his pockets and turned toward the subway station. Kuroko fell in quietly beside him. He didn’t say another word except ‘excuse me’ until they were on the train.

“Is it all right?” he asked, at last, low enough that the neighboring passengers three seats down wouldn’t hear.

“It’s… yeah, it’s… okay.” Taiga still wasn’t quite sure what to make of the things Tatsuya had said, the apology for being jealous, the scolding for ever holding back, the assurance they were friends. The insistence that he was not, now, and could not be any kind of role model or guide to Taiga. Taiga touched the ring he still wore, a tiny weight on its chain, remembering what might have been the line of a matching chain under the neck of Tatsuya’s sweater. Or might not.

“I see.” That was all Kuroko said, but when he shifted with the curve of the tracks, his arm pressed against Taiga’s and stayed there.

It helped. It settled Taiga, to know Kuroko was there, made the part of him that still felt raw and strained relax a little. It was… comforting.

And that was the first time that Taiga thought, all the way up in the front of his head, that he might be thinking of his partner as more than just his partner. Well. They were friends, of course. They did… friend things. Ate lunch together, studied together. Walked home together. Went for dinner together. Stayed out late and slept at each other’s houses. Called old friends up for loans of clothing…

Okay, maybe not just friend things, now he thought about it.

By the time they got to their own station, Taiga was wondering whether he was really a complete idiot, and whether he could excuse himself by Kuroko not having noticed either. Or had he? Taiga could read Kuroko’s game like book, by now, but other things were still harder to figure out. He studied Kuroko sidelong as they climbed the stairs to the street, until Kuroko glanced over and raised his brows questioningly, apparently perfectly at ease and not concerned in the least by having possibly acquired a boyfriend without noticing. Taiga shook his head vigorously to dislodge that thought, which just made Kuroko look amused.

“What is it?”

“Nothing.” Taiga held out for almost a block before he finally gave in and added, “Hey. Do you… I mean, are we… Um.”

Kuroko waited patiently.

Taiga raked a hand through his hair with an aggravated sound. Screw it. It wasn’t like the two of them used words all that much in the first place. He stopped on the sidewalk, in the shadow between street lights and reached out to touch Kuroko’s cheek. “Do you… ever think about this? For us?” he asked, low.

Kuroko’s eyes widened a little, and for a long moment Taiga had a sinking feeling that he’d just embarrassed himself. But then Kuroko’s lips turned up in a faint smile, and he lifted a hand to rest over Taiga’s, turning his head just a little into the touch. “You’ve been thinking a lot, tonight.”

Okay, so maybe Taiga had been the only completely oblivious one, fine, whatever. “I was just… thinking, yeah,” he finished a bit lamely.

That tiny smile was laughing at him. “I like Kagami-kun, too.”

Heat rushed to Taiga’s face and he tugged his hand away again. “You just come out and say things like that!” he complained.

Kuroko held him for a second. “How else are people going to know, if you don’t say?” He smiled a little wider when Taiga stilled, unable to argue with the justice of that one, and finally let him go.

They were quiet until they reached Taiga’s turn-off, and then he hesitated, looking down at Kuroko. “So. Um.”

Kuroko was laughing at him from behind that little smile again. “Come here, Kagami-kun.” He reached up to thread his fingers into Taiga’s hair, and Taiga, rather relieved, leaned down to a light kiss, just a brush of lips against each other. “Good night,” Kuroko murmured.

“Yeah,” Taiga answered, finding his voice just a bit husky. “See you tomorrow.”

There was an extra bit of warmth wrapped around the raw places inside him, as he walked the rest of the way home.

It didn’t take Taiga long to realize that that first kiss was part of a pattern. For someone whose strengths were strategy and timing, Kuroko was very aggressive. He was always the one who rested a hand on Taiga’s shoulder while they were changing for practice; the one who was suddenly watching Taiga thoughtfully in the showers; the one who pulled Taiga down to increasingly thorough kisses when they met or parted by the park court at night. Even when he was completely wrapped up in Taiga’s arms, head tipped back to meet his mouth, it was Kuroko who was setting their pace.

Eventually it got obvious enough for Taiga to say something, one night they’d stayed so late practicing that even the captain had given up and gone ahead, and told them to just turn off all the lights behind them. Kuroko came to him while Taiga was sitting on the bench to tie his shoes and stepped lightly between Taiga’s knees, sliding his fingers into Taiga’s hair to tip his head back for a kiss. The slow, soft force of it made Taiga’s breath catch, and he looked up at Kuroko after, hands linked behind his legs. “You seem different, when we’re like this.”

Kuroko cocked his head, fingers still running through Taiga’s hair. “I don’t think it’s that different,” he said thoughtfully.

Taiga shook his head a little. “You’re a lot more… well, I can’t say more forceful.” This being the same guy who had slugged Taiga one to get his head back in the game. “Just… you lead a lot more, like this. Well," honesty forced him to add, "a lot more openly anyway.”

“Do you mind it?” Kuroko asked after a long, quiet moment, eyes steady on Taiga. Taiga blinked.

“I… don’t exactly mind it, no. It was just kind of noticeable.”

Kuroko sighed and leaned against him, arms sliding around Taiga’s shoulders and resting there. “I think this is something I need,” he said softly against Taiga’s hair. “To lead, like you say.”

Taiga was quiet himself for a moment, wondering. “Why?” he finally asked, resting his forehead against Kuroko’s chest. “I mean… yeah, you’re the one who leads already in a lot of ways. You’re the one who kept me away from whatever the hell hole it was that Aomine fell down. You’re the one who doesn’t quit. But we’ve always been partners. Part of why I needed to be stronger was so you could rely on me, back.”

“I’ve always relied on you,” Kuroko said, very softly. “You’re why I could stand on my own, and find my own game. But I’m still me; I play with people, not alone, it’s what I do. That’s why I need to know you trust me, even more like this than when we’re on the court. I need to know you trust me completely.”

Taiga went still at that. “Completely?” he echoed, cautiously. Kuroko laughed a little against his hair, fingers stroking through it again.

“Completely,” he agreed. “You’re my partner. You trust me. I trust you. That’s how we play the way we do, and I love that, but this is more personal.” There was still that touch of rueful amusement hovering in his voice. “For one thing, there aren’t any other teammates or opponents; just us. So it’s more intense. Can you trust me that much, Kagami-kun?” He pulled away from Taiga gently, until only his hands were still resting on Taiga’s shoulders. “Or should we just stay partners?”

The jolt of protest in Taiga’s gut answered part of that question for him right away, but he still hesitated. He knew Kuroko pretty well, at least he’d thought he did, but there were ways ‘complete trust’ could go in a personal relationship that he really wasn’t into. “What do you want me to trust you to do?”

Kuroko’s hands were back in his hair, gentle and soothing. “Nothing that would hurt you. Nothing you don’t want. Just… to lead you.”

Taiga looked up at him, leaning into Kuroko’s hands without even thinking, but still hesitating. The last person he had trusted to lead him… He touched the chain around his neck and took a breath. “Let me take it slow,” he said quietly, meeting Kuroko’s eyes. “The last time I trusted someone like that… didn’t end real well.”

A spark of rare anger lit in Kuroko’s eyes and he stepped close again, arms closing around Taiga’s shoulders. “I’m not Himuro-san. We’re partners. Whether you can do this or not, that won’t change.” His hands drew Taiga’s head back and Kuroko kissed him again, deep and possessive. It made something hot flare down Taiga’s veins, feeling the fierceness in Kuroko’s mouth on his, in the arms wrapped around him, supporting him. When Kuroko finally drew back, he said, softly, “Go as slowly as you need.”

The perfectly earnest words, set against that fierce kiss, made Taiga laugh, wrap his arms tight around Kuroko and laugh himself breathless. “Yeah,” he said at last. “Yeah, let’s try it.”

The pleasure lighting up Kuroko’s face, when Taiga looked up, made the warmth in Taiga’s chest settle in deeper.

There was, Taiga learned, a particular way Kuroko touched him, when he wanted to have control. It was slower, more deliberate than their casual touches, a flex of fingers that let Taiga feel some of Kuroko’s strength of grip. Never bruising, but very… definite. When Kuroko touched him like that, hand sliding down Taiga’s neck or up his arm, he wanted Taiga to give way to him, to let himself be directed. Taiga found he didn’t mind.

Actually, it was pretty damn hot.

Which was why he was currently stretched out naked across his bed with Kuroko kneeling between his legs, watching him intently while he fondled Taiga’s cock until Taiga was panting for breath, hands clenched in the pillows over his head.

He was harder than he thought he’d ever been in his life.

It wasn’t just Kuroko’s hand on his cock. It also wasn’t just that he was spread out wide for Kuroko to handle. It was the way Kuroko was watching him, so closely, so carefully. Every time some particular stroke of his fingers drove a gasp out of Taiga, he noticed and did it again. Every time Taiga’s body started to pull taut, Kuroko’s grip softened, easing him back down a little. Kuroko was paying attention to him the way Taiga had only ever felt in the middle of an especially intense game, when Kuroko’s awareness of the team, and of Taiga in particular, started to seem like magic. The attention felt like being fondled inside. Kuroko ran his thumb up the underside of Taiga’s cock, slow and firm, and Taiga bucked up, gasping.


His partner smiled faintly. “Under the circumstances,” he rubbed his thumb gently over Taiga’s head, illustrative, “I think you can call me by my given name.”

“I…” Taiga wasn’t a formal kind of guy, not nearly as much as Kuroko, who was still calling him ‘Kagami-kun’ for god’s sake. But he hadn’t wanted to use Kuroko’s name. It was too close to Tatsuya’s name, and wouldn’t that feel weird? Kuroko’s other hand slid up his thigh to fondle his balls gently, and Taiga shuddered, hands clenching tighter in his pillow as the name was nearly pulled out of him. “Tetsuya!”

And it wasn’t weird. He wasn’t thinking of Himuro, of anything at all that wasn’t his partner’s eyes and hands on him, sure and intent and melting his brain out his ears. His partner, smiling and pleased and scraping the edge of his nail very delicately behind Taiga’s balls. “Fuck, Tetsuya!” Taiga came undone all at once, bucking wildly against the bed while heat wrung him like a rag, over and over. Tetsuya’s hands stroked him firmly through it, until Taiga dropped back against the twisted up sheets, panting and dazed.

Tetsuya leaned over him and kissed his forehead softly. “Taiga.” The simple sound of his name sent another shudder through Taiga. It sounded intimate. It sounded like Tetsuya laying a claim on him.

“How the hell do you do that?” he asked, husky, finally unclenching one hand to reach up and run it through Tetsuya’s soft, rumpled hair. “It’s like you put a mark on me just by looking at me, when we’re in bed. It almost feels like we’re on the court, only…” he snorted with some amusement, waving a hand at their current naked, sweaty, sticky condition, “different.”

Tetsuya settled on one elbow beside him, resting a hand on his chest. “It’s similar, I suppose,” he agreed quietly. “I… reach out to know who I’m playing with and against. To find you, especially. I suppose it’s a mental trick a little like Izuki-senpai’s, but for me it’s all about who’s paying attention to who, who’s looking where, where each player’s body says they’re going to turn next. So I can move behind or around the thing they’ll be looking at.” He was silent for a long, thoughtful moment, stroking Taiga’s chest slowly. “It’s a mental trick, but… how you respond matters too. If know you trust me, if you reach back to me, it’s easier to find you. Easier to keep holding you as the game moves. And you’re easier to hold than anyone else. I like that.” He leaned down and kissed Taiga, slow and deep and so rawly possessive Taiga’s breath caught in his chest. “I want to hold you this way, too.”

“Tetsuya…” Taiga reached up and wound his arms around Tetsuya, pulling him down and wrapping himself around his partner. Tetsuya let him, relaxed against him in a way that made Taiga have to swallow hard. It wasn’t one-sided trust he was giving Tetsuya. He closed his eyes and took a slow breath. “I trust you,” he said softly. “Completely. Whatever you want to do.”

And if that thought made heat tingle along his nerves again… well, that was nobody’s business but his. And Tetsuya’s.

The pleased sound Tetsuya made put a little curl of anticipation down Taiga’s spine, and he smiled up at the ceiling.

Sometimes, Taiga wondered exactly how he’d gotten himself into his current situation. And then, sometimes, he remembered it was Tetsuya and didn’t actually have to wonder.

“So what is this idea you said you had?” he asked Tetsuya, wrapping his arms comfortably around him as Tetsuya slid down to straddle his lap on Taiga’s tiny couch, forearms resting over Taiga’s shoulders. “And, incidentally, that was a really evil thing to say to me right before practice.”

Tetsuya’s smile was tiny and secretive. “Was it?” The smile widened when Taiga growled, and he slid his fingers into Taiga’s hair, pulling his head back so Tetsuya could nip delicately down his throat. Between quick, soft bites, he explained, “I want to tease you for a while, tonight.”

Eyes half closed, breath hitching with each sharp little nip, Taiga managed, “Tease me how?” He shivered as Tetsuya’s tongue stroked up the line of bites, wondering if there were going to be marks there later. Tetsuya had only marked him once before, but it had been very distracting having the whole team stare at his neck during practice. Distracting and arousing, to know he was walking around with the mark of Tetsuya’s mouth on his skin, which might have been the point. That had been the day Tetsuya had jerked him off in the shower, eyes heavy and hot on him as they listened to the rest of the team’s horseplay over drying off, just across the hall. Taiga shivered, remembering, and tipped his head back further.

Tetsuya drew back and ran his hands down Taiga’s neck and over his chest, slow and firm. “I want you to watch me. And not do anything else, until I say you can.”

Taiga’s face turned rather hot. “Watch you?”

That tiny planning-something smile flickered over Tetsuya’s face again. “Yes.”

Tetsuya obviously had something in mind, which… actually did more to convince Taiga than anything else. Tetsuya was the strategist, after all. He laced his fingers with Tetsuya’s. “Okay.”

Tetsuya looked pleased and pushed up off the couch, tugging Taiga with him toward the bedroom. “Come here, then.”

It was a little weird, Taiga thought as he followed along, how much this felt like their partnership on the court. On the face of it, the two were totally different. On the court, they both made their own choices, for all they watched each other and worked together. Here, he gave the choices to Tetsuya, let Tetsuya’s word be the one that moved him or held him still. And yet… maybe Tetsuya was right, and it really all came down to trust, for the two of them. He trusted Tetsuya to play his own strengths, on the court, and to choose well for the team. Here, undressing at Tetsuya’s soft prompting, lying back against the head of his bed as Tetsuya’s hands urged him down, here he trusted Tetsuya to be with him all the way, and to choose well for the two of them. He trusted Tetsuya to hold him, even closer than he did on the court, and the feeling of being held like this was hot and secure. And that was something he wanted.

He watched as Tetsuya undressed and folded his clothes neatly on Taiga’s desk. It was easy to overlook, on a high-powered sports team, but Tetsuya was solidly built. Compact, yes, but leanly muscled, and those muscles sharply defined. The flex of them as Tetsuya slid up onto the bed and knelt there, facing Taiga, held his gaze.

And then Tetsuya reached down and wrapped a hand around his own cock, and Taiga had to swallow. He hadn’t really thought it would do much for him, just to watch, but… the slow, deliberate stroke of Tetsuya’s fingers up and down his cock, coaxing himself harder, made him think about that hand on him.

Tetsuya smiled and closed his eyes. “Taiga,” he said softly. He slid a thumb up to circle over his head, and his breath pulled in, and he tipped his head back a little. “Taiga…”

A husky sound caught in Taiga’s own throat. Tetsuya sounded… he sounded like it was Taiga who was touching him. When Tetsuya moaned, faint and breathless, it sent something hot through Taiga’s chest and down into his guts. He didn’t think he could have looked away from Tetsuya’s hand working over himself, from the way Tetsuya spread his knees wider against the bed, if he’d tried. Without thinking, he started to press one hand between his own legs.

“I didn’t say you could move.” The words caught Taiga like a hand on his wrist, and he swallowed and curled his fingers in the rumpled sheets under him. Tetsuya smiled, slow and clear, head still tipped back. “That’s good.”

Taiga was breathing faster himself, now, flushed from watching the way Tetsuya touched himself, listening to the sounds he made, all the while pinned down by Tetsuya’s order to stay still. The stillness made the rest of it twice as hot.

There was something wicked at the corners of Tetsuya’s smile, now, and he rocked forward to take Taiga’s little bottle of lube from where it lived tucked against the blinds on the window ledge above his bed. Taiga was prepared for Tetsuya to squeeze some into his palm, for the sheen of it as Tetsuya stroked a hand down his cock. What shocked him, and sent a jolt of blinding heat through him, was seeing Tetsuya turn one shoulder to him, seeing him slide slick fingers down behind himself to press between his cheeks. “Tetsuya,” he gasped, hoarse.

“Mmm. Taiga.” Tetsuya’s wrist flexed, pushing a finger into himself, and a flush climbed up his throat. He drew a slow breath, fingers sliding back and forth over his cock, and murmured, “Be still.”

Taiga thought he could almost feel the grip of Tetsuya’s will on him, like another hand, and he shivered under it. When Tetsuya pressed another finger into himself, a little moan tugged free from Taiga. “Tetsuya…”

“Shhh.” Tetsuya’s voice was gentle, even as his body pulled taut between his own hands. “Watch, Taiga. Think about it being your hands, here.”

He pressed in another finger, slow and careful, and Taiga swallowed hard. His cock was standing hard and flushed against his stomach, now, and his clenched fingers were about to put holes through his sheets. “Tetsuya… please.” Just saying it put another shiver through him. He’d never begged for anything in bed, never been pushed far enough that he wanted to. He hadn’t expected how hot it would be to beg Tetsuya, and trust that Tetsuya would allow what he needed.

Tetsuya finally looked over at him, eyes bright and hot. “Yes. I think we’re both ready.” He drew his hands back slowly, a husky little sound catching his his throat as he slid his fingers free, and Taiga nearly moaned.

“God, yes Tetsuya, please…” He reached out as Tetsuya slid up the bed to him, and relief made him dizzy when Tetsuya let him, let Taiga gather him close and hold him tight. When Tetsuya’s fingers wrapped around his cock, still slick, and slid down him, Taiga shuddered. When Tetsuya shifted up on his knees and pressed Taiga’s cock against his ass, slowly sinking down onto him, Taiga couldn’t do anything but cling to Tetsuya’s hips and pant for breath. Leaning back against the headboard like this, with Tetsuya’s weight over him, he couldn’t push up much; how fast or slow that brain-melting tightness closed around him was up to Tetsuya.

He almost came just from realizing that.

Tetsuya was panting against his shoulder as he settled all the way down, and when he said Taiga’s name the breathless note in his voice made Taiga close his eyes. He wanted so many things. He wanted to let go and just feel Tetsuya ride him. He wanted to wrap himself around Tetsuya and fuck him. He wanted to hear more breathless sounds like that, because he was inside Tetsuya. “Tetsuya,” he managed, low, “some time… let me do this. Please.”

Tetsuya leaned in, making Taiga gasp with the shift of muscles around him, and kissed him soft and open. “Some time, yes,” he promised, and there was a glint in his eyes. “But not tonight.”

Taiga moaned out loud with that combined promise and denial as Tetsuya rocked up and back down, and he gave himself up to whatever Tetsuya chose for them. “Yes.”

“Mmm. Yes.” Tetsuya smiled and did it again, slower, more deliberate, grinding down onto Taiga. Pleasure climbed up Taiga’s spine, twist after twist of it as Tetsuya moved over him, hands braced on Taiga’s shoulders. Half of it was the pure rush of sensation every time Tetsuya’s body shifted, but half of it was something else completely. Something that wrung out parts of him that weren’t his body, left him warm and shaking—the knowledge that Tetsuya wanted him this much, this way.

When it all spilled over, he just let it, let Tetsuya have him however Tetsuya wanted him.

Tetsuya gasped as Taiga bucked up under him, one hand sliding down to wrap around his cock again. And just when the rush of heat was easing, his body tightened hard around Taiga and raked another wave of pleasure through him.

They leaned against each other for a while, after. “Thank you,” Tetsuya finally said, straightening up a little to look down at Taiga, touching his cheek lightly. Taiga caught his hand and turned to press his mouth to Tetsuya’s fingers.

“What for? Isn’t this what I agreed to?” To let Tetsuya lead him when they were together like this.

Tetsuya smiled softly. “Yes.” He traced Taiga’s lips with his fingertips. “That’s why I’m saying thank you.”

Taiga looked aside and finally said, low, “It’s what I want, too.”

Tetsuya’s kiss caught him by surprise, hot and sudden and ruthless enough to make him gasp for breath. “Then even more,” Tetsuya murmured. “Thank you.”

“Yeah. Okay,” Taiga whispered back and they stayed where they were for a while longer, wrapped around each other quietly.

Most of life went on the way it always had. There were classes, which were still half incomprehensible but only half, which was an improvement; there was practice, which was satisfyingly grueling; there was shopping for groceries and cooking for himself, and increasingly cooking enough that he’d still get a full meal when his senpai begged or snitched bits of his dinner; there was fielding occasional visits from Aomine, when he got too fed up with his new captain’s hovering watchfulness and skipped to visit Seirin, just to show he could.

But now there was also this. There was lying on Tetsuya’s bed, draped over a pile of pillows that raised his hips high enough in the air to make him blush, feeling Tetsuya’s hands kneading slowly down his back and over his ass. “Tetsuya…”

“Shh.” Tetsuya’s thumbs spread his cheeks open slow and firm, wide enough to make him gasp for lost breath at how exposed he felt. “It’s all right.”

Just the fact that Tetsuya was telling him, not asking, put a complex little shiver down his spine. It felt good, good to relax and trust that Tetsuya had things in hand; but there was always that adrenaline-edge of letting someone else say what would happen. Especially when what was happening was Tetsuya’s fingers rubbing against him, slick with lube, making slow, hard circles against the muscles of his ass until he felt warm and relaxed back there.

“That’s better,” Tetsuya said softly, dropping a kiss at the small of his back. “I’ll make sure it doesn’t hurt, Taiga. That’s why I wanted to go first, after all.”

And there it was, the care that Tetsuya took that undid him every time. Taiga closed his eyes and took a slow breath as Tetsuya’s fingers pressed into him. It felt good—completely unfamiliar, but every bit like Tetsuya touching him always felt, slow and intimate and sure. “Tetsuya…” He could hear how husky his own voice was.

“Be still,” Tetsuya told him, gentle and firm. “Just feel.” He slid his other hand down Taiga’s back, kneading those muscles loose too as he worked his fingers in and out of Taiga’s ass until he was panting, breath catching every time the press of Tetsuya’s knuckles stretched him a little more open. That was what he felt most, right now, spread ass-up over Tetsuya’s pillows with his muscles going lax—so very open for Tetsuya. Open, and sure he’d be taken care of.

His own protective streak nagged at him, sometimes, to take care of Tetsuya instead. But… he did a lot of that. It was good to turn it around, to have someone else do it for him. And Tetsuya had been doing it from the first match they played in together. Tetsuya was good at it.

He trusted himself in Tetsuya’s hands.

Those hands shifted on him, strong fingers twisting slowly inside him, and Taiga’s thoughts unraveled again in the wash of sensation down his nerves. Tetsuya’s fingertips rubbed slowly inside him, and he moaned with the surge of pleasure that answered.

“Mm. That sounds good,” Tetsuya murmured to him, free hand stroking Taiga’s ass.

“Tetsuya…” A shudder stroked down Taiga’s spine as Tetsuya’s fingers slid free.

“Be still, Taiga,” Tetsuya said again, low and soothing. His hands closed on Taiga’s hips, and there was a blunt pressure against Taiga’s entrance that made him hot with anticipation.

“Yes, Tetsuya,” he said, husky, lying still and lax in Tetsuya’s hands, waiting. Tetsuya pushed harder against him and Taiga’s hands closed on the sheets, tight with the breathless pressure of Tetsuya’s cock pushing slowly, slowly into him. He gasped at the sudden easing and the slide of Tetsuya inside him, thick and hard, holding him stretched open. “God…”

Tetsuya’s voice was breathless, too, as he leaned against Taiga, holding still. “Relax, Taiga; relax for me.”

“I…” Taiga’s breath shuddered in his chest. “I… yes…” He let the sheets go and let his breath go and nearly moaned with how it felt as his body eased more around the hardness of Tetsuya’s cock. “Fuck…”

A soft, husky laugh answered him. “Yes. But slowly.”

Taiga moaned openly as Tetsuya slid a little back and in again, a little further, and in again, slow and easy. The sensation stroked down his nerves, soft and intense. “Yes, Tetsuya,” he whispered. Slow was just fine, yeah.

He’d always had a good opinion of Tetsuya’s control, but it was getting better now as Tetsuya fucked him slow and sure. Tetsuya’s hands worked gently over Taiga’s back, easing him into the pleasure that was rising through him like a tide coming in. He trusted that control now, like he’d trusted it for almost a year, and let Tetsuya’s hands guide him. He moaned against the sheets with the heat of Tetsuya’s cock working in and out of him—did as Tetsuya said and just felt the heat curling tighter and tighter inside him. When Tetsuya’s hand slid under his hip to wrap around his cock and stroke him firmly, he gasped and bucked, taken by surprise by the fresh twist of pleasure. “Tetsuya!”

Tetsuya’s fingers tightened, and there was a smile in his voice. “Just feel, Taiga.”

He couldn’t do anything else, spread out like this with no leverage, and he shuddered as Tetsuya shifted over him, fucking him harder, hand working around him slow and demanding. It was so good, Tetsuya had made it so good for him, and he surrendered to Tetsuya’s control, moaning as Tetsuya drove him higher and higher, and finally drove him right over the edge. Pleasure raked down his nerves and wrung him out around the hardness of Tetsuya’s cock. The way Tetsuya gasped and pushed deeper sent an extra shudder through him.

When he finally came back down, muscles limp, throat dry from panting for breath, Tetsuya was leaning against him. His hands stroked over Taiga’s back and shoulders gently, carefully, and a soft sound caught in Taiga’s throat. This. This was why he gave himself to Tetsuya, gave Tetsuya control—so that he could feel this care. So he could do nothing but feel it, just like Tetsuya said.

He’d believed for a long time that his partner knew what he needed, after all.

So he lay quiet and let Tetsuya clean them up, let Tetsuya ease him down to the bed and wrapped his arms around Tetsuya, and bent his head under the gentle slide of Tetsuya’s fingers through his hair.

He trusted Tetsuya’s choices.

Taiga knew perfectly well why Aomine had started descending on Seirin after practice was officially over. He wasn’t actually complaining, either; he loved the fast, wild matches they played, one-on-one with each other. That did not, of course, stop him from calling Aomine a needy bastard or asking whether Touou was boring him, just like it didn’t stop Aomine from calling him a one-trick jumping idiot. That was just the kind of relationship they had.

Besides, it made Tetsuya look like he wanted to laugh at them.

Aomine waved casually over his shoulder as he turned toward the station, and Taiga stood with Tetsuya for a minute, watching him go. At least, Tetsuya watched him go, and Taiga watched Tetsuya, and the wistful look in his partner’s eyes. “You guys okay, these days?” he finally asked, quietly.

Tetsuya turned back, beside him, and started on their way home. “Better than we have been in a long time.”

That wasn’t exactly a yes, but Taiga knew things were a little complicated between Tetsuya and his old partner.

“He’s better, now he has people he has to work against,” Tetsuya added, eyes distant under the slow shift of the streetlights as they walked. “You. Kise-kun. I always knew that was important to him, to have someone to push him. Sometimes I wonder…”

“What?” Taiga asked, as the silence drew out.

Tetsuya still hesitated. “I’ll tell you later,” he finally said.

“Sure,” Taiga agreed easily, making a mental note to ask, if ‘later’ took too long. Sometimes, Tetsuya got a little too quiet about things that bugged him. “Oh, hey, food.” The lights of the convenience store down from the park called to him, reminding him that he hadn’t had his evening snack yet.

Tetsuya’s eyes were laughing again as he followed along, and Taiga nodded to himself with satisfaction. Whatever Tetsuya was thinking about, whatever ‘later’ involved, it didn’t look like it could be too serious.

‘Later’ arrived the next evening, just when Taiga was considering bringing it up again. They’d ended up at Tetsuya’s house after practice, ears still ringing with the coach’s orders to study for the year end exams. Taiga studied infuriatingly complex kanji for as long as he could stand before he gave up and stalked downstairs to get them both drinks just so he could move something besides his pencil. When he got back, Tetsuya smiled at him from where he sat on the edge of his bed, and held out his hands. “Leave those for a second and come here, Taiga.”

Taiga set the two cans on the desk and came to him, curious. Tetsuya never called him by his given name unless they were both alone and intimate. He hadn’t expected that so soon, tonight. Tetsuya caught his hands and tugged Taiga down until he was kneeling between Tetsuya’s legs, close enough to wrap his arms around Tetsuya. Which, of course, he did. “What is it?”

“What I was thinking about, yesterday…” Tetsuya ran his fingers slowly through Taiga’s hair, eyes searching his face. “I was wondering whether I should have held Aomine-kun tighter; whether that would have been what he needed.” His hand drifted down to touch Taiga’s cheek. “You make him feel normal again. I was wondering what I might be able to do for him, now.”

“It’s already you who did that.” Taiga looked down, trying to put what he saw between them into words. “You’re the one who knew what he needed, along with what you needed, and didn’t stop until you got it.” A corner of his mouth curled up. “Or after.”

“And you were the one who believed I could,” Tetsuya said softly, arms sliding around Taiga’s shoulders. “It all connects.”

True enough, but weren’t they getting off topic? They’d started with Tetsuya saying he’d been thinking about holding Aomine tighter. Like he held Taiga now, Taiga supposed. And then he went very still, staring past Tetsuya’s shoulder as those thoughts settled together.

All connected.

“You want to hold him, too,” he said, low. “Like this. Hold him like this now.”

Tetsuya gathered him closer. “Not if it will upset you,” he said firmly. “Not if you don’t want him to be with us like this.”

With us. All connected. And Tetsuya had said Taiga was the one who made Aomine feel normal. Slowly, Taiga leaned against Tetsuya, wrapping himself tighter around him. “You really think it could work?” he asked against Tetsuya’s shoulder. “Aomine’s pretty possessive of you whenever he gets the chance.” Of course, all the damn Miracle-types were possessive of Tetsuya, but Aomine was the one who still showed it, even after getting his ass kicked by Seirin.

Tetsuya’s hand slid gently up his back and closed hard on his nape, holding him in a grip like steel. “Possessing me isn’t a choice I would give him.”

Taiga made a breathless sound, head bent against Tetsuya’s shoulder, reminded of exactly what kind of relationship they were talking about and very hard from the reminder. “Yeah… okay.” He’d been thinking something else, too, before Tetsuya turned his brain to mush… ah, right. “You think Aomine will want this that much?”

Tetsuya’s hold gentled, stroking Taiga’s nape until he shivered, head still bowed. “Aomine-kun always kept going until someone stopped him. Sometimes that person was Momoi-san, but the longer we worked as partners the more it was me. When he said we didn’t agree on anything but basketball, it was because he always pushed until I told him to stop. And then he did, at least until he lost faith in the game and I couldn’t make him stay serious. Or, at least, I didn’t. I think I just didn’t go as far as he needed me to, to make him.”

Taiga thought about the kind of partner Tetsuya had been to him, right from the start. Demanding and fearless and very strict about Taiga’s attitude toward their team and the game. He remembered Tetsuya clotheslining him repeatedly, with a perfectly immoveable look each time that said he refused to let his partner screw himself up. And he laughed against Tetsuya’s neck. “I don’t think that will be a problem any more.”

He could feel how Tetsuya’s lips were curved when Tetsuya dropped a kiss under his ear. “I don’t think so either.”

Taiga was quiet for a moment, thinking about Aomine, his most annoying and brilliant rival, his partner’s ex-partner, the one whose edge made his fists itch sometimes. The one who always came back to him, as well as to Tetsuya. “Yeah,” he finally said, quietly. “Yeah, let’s try.”

The way Tetsuya’s arms tightened around him made him smile and hold Tetsuya closer.

“…and that got us here.” Taiga paused and poked Aomine lightly in the ribs. “And why do you want to know so much, anyway?”

Aomine squirmed away until Tetsuya, laughing, rested more weight over him. “Hey, you were right here for it when Tetsu caught me, and you got to see the whole thing. Fair is fair.”

Taiga thought about the things Tetsuya had said to him, about Aomine, and snorted. “I think Tetsuya caught you a long time before that. He just didn’t make you know it until now.”

Aomine stilled at that, eyes turning dark and heated as he looked up at Tetsuya. “Yeah, I guess he did.”

Tetsuya stroked Aomine’s hair back, smiling faintly. “I didn’t realize myself until you,” he told Taiga. “But… yes. Maybe so.” He looked down at Aomine, fingers tracing down his jaw as Tetsuya tipped Aomine’s head back and nipped lightly at his throat. “Maybe things would have been different, if I’d known sooner.”

“Some things,” Aomine said, soft and husky with the arch of his neck. “But some I think we’d still have needed Tai for.”

Taiga found himself caught between sputtering over the nickname and turning red over Aomine, of all people, actually admitting that. And then he found himself just plain caught by the brightness in Tetsuya’s eyes as he reached over to touch Taiga’s cheek.

“Yes,” Tetsuya agreed, eyes holding Taiga’s. “We would.”

Taiga gave way to that perfect assurance and turned his head into Tetsuya’s hand, pressing his mouth to Tetsuya’s palm. “Guess things turned out pretty well, then,” he said, glancing down at Aomine’s—at Daiki’s—smirk, and watching how the edge of it softened.

“So there’s that taken care of,” Daiki murmured, slanting a sidelong look at Tetsuya, deliberately provoking. “Now. Thought of anything interesting to do with me, yet?”

Tetsuya had the gleam in his eye that always made Taiga look for something to hold on to. “Maybe I have.” He stroked a hand up Daiki’s arm to finger the cuffs, and slowly, deliberately, unsnapped them. Daiki’s brows rose. “Taiga,” Tetsuya said, quiet and firm, not looking away from Daiki, “hold Daiki down for me.”

Taiga nearly moaned with a completely unexpected rush of heat, and he could see the way Daiki flushed, eyes widening. “Yes, Tetsuya.” He could feel the tension in Daiki’s arms as Taiga ran his hands up to grip his wrists and pin him down, the way Daiki never let himself be pinned on the court, the way Tetsuya demanded he submit to now. Daiki’s eyes were already a little glazed.

“Kagami,” Daiki breathed. “Tai…”

Taiga smiled wryly, a little breathless himself. “Only what Tetsuya allows, right?”

“Fuck,” Daiki moaned as Tetsuya held his hips against the bed and leaned down to lap at his cock, light and teasing. “Yes.”

Taiga leaned on Daiki’s arms, holding him for Tetsuya to drive half out of his mind, and thought that he’d never been more right than he had been when he gave Tetsuya his trust. Tetsuya had seen how they fit together, how they could all have a place with each other, and Taiga didn’t think this was a place he would outgrow. So maybe this was someplace he could stay.

When he leaned down and kissed Daiki, soft and questioning, Daiki kissed back.


Last Modified: Sep 17, 13
Posted: Oct 31, 12
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3 readers sent Plaudits.

A Good, Free, and Unconstrained Will

Kuroko wants a tangible marker of his committment to Kagami and Aomine, and of how they belong to him, and that’s when other people start noticing what’s going on. D/s, Romance, Porn, Drama, I-4


It was Daiki who mentioned it first, stroking his thumb along the line of Taiga’s collarbone one afternoon when they were all tangled together in Tetsuya’s bed, still a little sticky but catching their breaths again.

“You’ve stopped wearing that necklace all the time.”

“Mm.” Taiga shrugged a little, trying not to shove anyone off the bed, or scrape his shoulder blades against the wall, or show how the observation made him twitch. “I still have it. Just seemed like it was maybe time to take it off and put it away.”

Tetsuya turned, where he was lying between them, unfairly graceful and not elbowing anyone in the stomach. Taiga concentrated on that, and not the question in Tetsuya’s eyes. “Did something else happen between you and Himuro-san?” Tetsuya asked quietly.

Taiga sighed, giving in; he obviously wasn’t getting out of this conversation, especially since he was the one up against the wall and couldn’t make easy excuses to get up. “Nothing new,” he said, low. “Just, the more I thought about it, the more I realized Tatsuya was right. He’s not my nii-san any more.”

“Yousen’s Himuro Tatsuya?” Aomine asked, sliding a hand up to drape over Taiga’s hip, casual in contrast to the way he was watching Taiga.

“I knew him back in the States. He was the one who got me into basketball.” Taiga snorted at the way Daiki perked up. “The rings… it was a little kid’s pledge, I guess; he didn’t… he’s not…” He sighed and turned his head into the curve of Tetsuya’s shoulder, frustration bubbling up fresh. “I can understand if he doesn’t want to claim something he doesn’t feel like he can hold up his end of. But basketball wasn’t the reason he was my big brother! It didn’t have to be the only thing between us!”

Tetsuya’s fingers threaded through his hair, holding him closer. “He took care of you.” Taiga nodded silently. Yes, Tetsuya understood that.

“And now that you’re a better player than he is,” Daiki said slowly, thumb rubbing over Taiga’s hip, “he doesn’t think he can any more. What a moron,” he added, thoughtful.

Taiga snorted a pained laugh against Tetsuya’s shoulder. Yeah, Daiki, with his passion for people who didn’t give up, wouldn’t think much of Tatsuya’s choices. “I’m not mad at him. Not really. It… doesn’t change how he did take care of me, back then. It’s just different now.” If Tatsuya wouldn’t see that he could still be Taiga’s nii-san, no matter who won on the court, then it was time to put the ring away with the rest of his memories.

“Hmm.” Tetsuya’s fingers rubbed slowly over his bare nape. “Taiga. If you’ve taken off that necklace, would you let me replace it?” he said at last.

Taiga lifted his head and blinked down at Tetsuya. “Replace it?”

Tetsuya smiled and squirmed out from between them, sliding off the foot of the bed. “Here.” He padded across the room and took a small box out of his desk drawer, sliding back up onto the bed as he opened it. He laid the open box between Taiga and Daiki and sat back on his heels, watching them.

There were two slim, dark necklaces in the box, just a little longer than choker length, much shorter than the chain Taiga had kept his ring on. He fished one out, curious, and ran it through his fingers; it was finished leather cord, soft under his fingertips. He glanced up at Tetsuya. “You want to…”


This couldn’t be a simple pledge among the three of them, like the rings. There were only two necklaces, not three. And Tetsuya had set them very precisely in between Taiga and Daiki. Taiga could feel his face turning hot at the implication, and his voice was a little more strangled when he corrected himself. “You want us to wear…?”

Tetsuya was watching them quietly, not demanding anything, but there was a glint in his eyes that made Taiga hot in a different way.

Daiki lifted the second necklace, running it through his fingers and glancing back and forth between them. “You want the two of us to wear these?” he asked, toying with the slim cord. “For you?” When Tetsuya nodded, Daiki gave Taiga a thoughtful look and smiled slowly. “I will if you will.”

Taiga glared. That was playing dirty.

The corners of Tetsuya’s mouth were curled up in a silent laugh as he leaned forward and laid a hand on each of their wrists. “Only if you want to,” he said firmly. And then his fingers stroked the back of Taiga’s hand gently. “But I would like very much to be able to replace that necklace, for you.”

To replace the necklace. To replace what it meant. To take care of him. Taiga felt the curl of warmth through his chest that was becoming very familiar; it happened whenever Tetsuya made it clear how close he held them. And Tetsuya would never, ever give up his hold on someone just because they were stronger. Taiga had a year and more worth of proof of that.

“Yeah,” he said, a little husky. “Yeah, I’d like that too.”

“Good,” Tetsuya said softly, and lifted the necklace out of his hand. “Lift your chin.”

Taiga had to swallow against a sudden flutter of response low in his stomach as Tetsuya slid up the bed to straddle him, leaning in as he wrapped the slim cord around Taiga’s neck. The tiny snick of the clasp fastening, more felt than heard, sent a spike of heat right down Taiga’s spine. The delicate stroke of Tetsuya’s fingers over the cool line of leather made him shudder. “Tetsuya…” God, was he ever going to get used to the way it made him feel, when Tetsuya took control?

Daiki laughed beside him, husky. “Hey, no getting ahead of yourself. It’s my turn.”

Taiga opened half closed eyes to see Daiki hand Tetsuya the other length of cord, smiling. He turned over, bending his head down against Taiga’s shoulder, offering Tetsuya his bared nape, and Taiga wound an arm around him more or less by reflex. Daiki looked so vulnerable like this.

“Yes, it’s your turn,” Tetsuya agreed, voice gentle, and passed the soft leather carefully around Daiki’s throat and closed the catch firmly. Taiga felt a little shiver run through Daiki. He thought Tetsuya did, too, because he leaned down and pressed a kiss to Daiki’s nape, just over the clasp. Daiki practically purred, relaxing against Taiga, and Tetsuya leaned against them looking satisfied.

A thought nudged at Taiga, one that made his face heat a little once again, but he wasn’t going to lie to himself. He knew perfectly well what they were doing, what it meant that Tetsuya had put this on him rather than let him do it himself. It wasn’t like he objected, but that kind of meant he should ask Tetsuya about taking it off, too, right?

“I don’t think we should wear these on the court,” he said, touching the necklace. “They aren’t very heavy; they could get broken too easily.”

Tetsuya smiled, reaching up to stroke his cheek. “Of course. I want you to be sensible about them. Whatever you think is necessary.”

Taiga turned into that touch, mouth tilted ruefully as he acknowledged how it relaxed him to have Tetsuya’s agreement on that. His permission. Daiki stirred against his shoulder, looking up.

“I think I might be a little not-sensible.” Daiki’s eyes were dark, on Tetsuya, and Tetsuya’s smile turned darker as he met them.

“That’s fine too,” he said softly, reaching out to hook a finger under the thin cord and pull it taut. “I’ll put one of these back around your neck as many times as it takes.”

The sound Daiki made, husky and wanting, sent Taiga’s blood rushing to his cock. Tetsuya, still straddling him, laughed. “Come here, Daiki. Take care of Taiga for me.” He slid to the side, nudging Taiga into the middle of the bed, and pulled Daiki down by his necklace—his collar—until he was kneeling between Taiga’s legs, bent over to nuzzle against Taiga’s cock. “Yes. Like that.”

Taiga slid his hands down Daiki’s arms and over his shoulders, hands working against the sleek muscle there as Daiki licked his cock teasingly. “Daiki…” He loved the way Tetsuya drew them to each other, and it never stopped getting him hot, watching Daiki submit to Tetsuya, but Daiki could be a little disconcerting in bed. He teased even more than Tetsuya. Daiki glanced up at him, smirking a little but gently, and wound his arms around Taiga’s hips, long fingers spreading against his back.

“Shut up and enjoy it, Tai,” he murmured, and closed his mouth around Taiga, hot and slick and sure. Pleasure tightened on Taiga like a knot closing, and he gasped, trying not to rock up too hard while Daiki’s tongue stroked over him enticingly.

And then Daiki gasped around him, abruptly flushed, hands tightening on Taiga’s back. Taiga looked up and realized Tetsuya had settled behind Daiki, hands kneading over his raised ass. Tetsuya smiled just a little as he spread Daiki’s cheeks wide and rubbed slow fingers over his entrance. Tetsuya had not, Taiga realized, flushing a bit himself, reached for the lube yet. He knew Daiki liked Tetsuya to be rougher with him than he ever was with Taiga, but was Tetsuya really…? Tetsuya pushed a finger in, and the way Daiki moaned around Taiga sent a shudder of pleasure right up his spine.

“Tetsu,” Daiki gasped, head tipping back as he arched on his knees to push his ass up higher.

Tetsuya smiled slowly. “I told you to take care of Taiga,” he reminded Daiki, working his finger in and out of Daiki’s ass with short little thrusts. Taiga could watch it, from where he lay, and see how Daiki’s eyes went darker at the quiet command in Tetsuya’s voice.

“Yes, Tetsu,” he murmured, and lowered his head again, wrapping his lips around Taiga’s cock and lapping at him quick and firm, just like the movement of Tetsuya’s hand. When Tetsuya pushed two dry fingers into him, Daiki shuddered and sucked on Taiga like he could coax Tetsuya’s fingers deeper that way. It felt incredible, like Taiga was part of what Tetsuya was doing to their lover, and maybe that was why he whispered, “Tetsuya, please…”

Tetsuya looked up, holding Taiga’s eyes as he twisted his fingers deep in Daiki’s ass. “You think I should give him more?”

Taiga shuddered softly with the vibration of Daiki’s moan. “Yes!”

Tetsuya laughed softly, drawing his fingers back and reaching for the bottle still tangled in Taiga’s sheets. “Very well.”

Taiga swallowed, throat dry as he watched. He knew how it felt, knew so well how it felt to have Tetsuya’s hands wrapped around his hips, holding him while Tetsuya’s cock pushed in slowly, slowly, opening him up. So he knew exactly why Daiki was making those husky sounds and why his hands were clutching at Taiga’s back and why Daiki’s mouth was desperate against him. He was pleading for both of them when he moaned, “Please, Tetsuya, harder…”

And when Tetsuya shifted, leaning over Daiki and driving in deep and hard, it was Taiga who came undone under the slide of Daiki’s mouth all the way down his cock. He lost track of watching Tetsuya, but he could feel everything Tetsuya was doing in the pressure of Daiki’s mouth on him as he clutched at Daiki’s shoulders, gasping with the pleasure wringing him out. “Tetsuya…! God, Tetsuya, please!”

By the time he came back down, Daiki was sprawled across him, just as messy and breathless as he was. Tetsuya was arched taut behind him, buried deep inside Daiki, flushed and gasping softly. The sight wrung another moan out of him, and when he looked down Daiki’s eyes were fixed on him. “I can see it,” Daiki told him, husky. “I can see how he looks in how you look right now.”

“Mmm.” Tetsuya slowly opened his eyes again and released Daiki’s hips to stroke down his back. “Yes. Just like Taiga could tell what I was doing and what you needed.” He eased free of Daiki and pushed him gently down against Taiga, keeping a hand on Daiki’s back as he settled beside them. “We’re doing this together, and there’s no competition between you. Remember that, all right?”

Daiki froze, staring at Tetsuya with wide eyes. “I…”

Tetsuya smiled and cupped his cheek, stroking a thumb over the sharp line of his cheekbone. “You think I wouldn’t see it, when you were my partner for so long and you’re my lover now? I want both of you,” he told Daiki softly, touching the cord of leather around his neck. “Never doubt that.”

Slowly, Daiki nodded, relaxing against Taiga, eyes lowered. “Yes, Tetsu,” he said, more subdued by Tetsuya’s quiet words than Taiga had ever seen him, even when he was tied up. Taiga wrapped his arms around Daiki, holding him close. He knew how that felt, too. It was, he thought, exactly why both of them were willing to walk around wearing the delicate collars Tetsuya had clasped around their necks, and he smiled against Daiki’s hair.

They were all together in this, all right.


Izuki Shun had always watched the people around him; it was one of the habits that made him a good point guard. And his teammates were always worth watching, for the amusement value if nothing else. So he’d noticed a few months ago that Kagami had stopped wearing the ring on a chain around his neck that used to always be there, even during practice. And he’d noticed about a week ago that Kagami had started wearing a simple leather necklace, the kind that you could find at any accessory stall in any shopping district. That, though, he carefully removed and tucked away whenever he changed for practice or a match.

Which was, perhaps, why it took so long for anyone else to notice. Shun had laid a tiny bet with himself on who it would be, and he won it the evening Koganei looked up from tying his shoes and suddenly grinned.

“Hey, Kagami.” Koganei’s tone was as good as a knowing nudge in the ribs. “You’ve got a new necklace these days. Is there someone who wants you to wear her present, instead of your old girlfriend’s?”

Kagami promptly turned red and sputtered. “It’s not like that!” Shun had expected that kind of response, because Kagami really was awfully innocent in some ways. The surprising part was the way Kagami hesitated as he fastened the necklace, looking aside, and added, “Not exactly.”

Of course, that was as good as waving a feather in front of a cat. “Not exactly?” Koganei pressed, sidling up to throw an arm around Kagami’s shoulders despite the height difference. “So there really is a girl, isn’t there? Come on, you can tell senpai all about it…”

Kagami was sputtering again, and Shun was preparing to take pity on the poor guy and intervene when Kuroko beat him to it.

“Koganei-senpai,” he said, sharper than Shun had ever heard him speak to any of his seniors, “that’s private. You shouldn’t tease Kagami-kun about it.”

The entire club fell quiet for a moment, staring. Kuroko tugged down his cuffs and stood, looking back levelly. It wasn’t quite the way Shun had seen him stare down opponents, but it was close. He didn’t blame Koganei for stepping away from Kagami, hands raised.

“Just kidding around.”

And quick as that, Kuroko was back to his usual self, calm and at ease, giving Koganei a very proper little bow. “Of course, senpai. Excuse us, please.” He slung his bag over his shoulder and led the way out, and Kagami followed him.

There was, Shun noted, predictable relief at being rescued on Kagami’s face, but there was also something soft along with it. As unusually soft as Kuroko had just been sharp. He considered that thoughtfully, as he pulled on his jacket.

Maybe this was something he’d keep a particular eye on.

Junpei had separated from the rest of the team in the wake of the first winter preliminaries, and was walking home beside Riko and Teppei, when Riko finally spoke up.

“So. Did you see Aomine when we passed Touou, on our way out?”

Junpei winced. He’d foolishly hoped she hadn’t noticed. “It’s none of our business,” he said firmly.

“What isn’t?” Teppei blinked at them.

“Teppei!” Riko huffed, obviously exasperated. “Didn’t you notice that Aomine was wearing a necklace just like the one Kagami wears these days?”

“Well sure,” Teppei said calmly. “I’m glad those two seem to be getting along so well.”

Junpei buried his face in his hands, groaning. As if Riko wasn’t bad enough! “It is none of our business,” he repeated hopelessly.

“I wonder if Kuroko set the two of them up,” Riko speculated with gleaming eyes, completely ignoring him. “Maybe that’s why he was so defensive when Koganei was teasing Kagami.”

Teppei made a thoughtful sound. “I have to admit, I always expected all three of them to be together, but maybe you’re right. At any rate, he doesn’t seem to feel left out, and that’s good.”

Junpei wondered wistfully if putting his hands over his ears would drown them out.

“Oooo, if they are all together, maybe that’s what it is!” Riko clasped her hands in front of her mouth, eyes dancing. “Maybe those are actually Kuroko’s necklaces they’re wearing.”

“Kantoku!” Junpei finally yelled. “Quit talking about our players’ love lives!”

From the way she broke down giggling, he figured she’d just been trying to get a rise out of him anyway, and sighed. And swatted at Teppei’s hand when it landed on his head and rumpled his hair ‘comfortingly’.

“Oh, don’t worry.” Riko bumped her shoulder against his arm and grinned up at him. “It’s not like I’d say any of this in front of them.”

“Although, you know, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kuroko had it in him,” Teppei started, and Junpei cut him off sternly.

“Both of you shut up about this, or so help me I’m going home alone tonight.” Which, since his was the only house at which the three of them could reasonably spend an evening together out of reach of paternal death-threats or grand-parental ears, was a significant enough threat to make them stop.

That didn’t stop him from remembering the conversation, every time he saw Kuroko smile while Kagami fastened that necklace on after practice, but he’d already become resigned to the fact that being a boyfriend to Riko and Teppei did bad things to a man’s brain. He figured it was worth it.

Takao Kazunari had never really been surprised by how often Shintarou wanted to visit his ex-teammates in Tokyo. For all his quirks, Shin-chan was pretty much born to be a team player, and Kazunari actually had no trouble believing he’d been the voice of reason on the Teikou team.

Considering who else had been on that team, after all.

So, even before Kagami and Aomine started sneaking out to see each other, Kazunari had been driving his partner back and forth across central Tokyo at least once a month to give Kise or Kagami or Kuroko very backhanded advice, or to trade insults with Aomine. It was unquestionably good muscular and cardiovascular training, and some days, like today, it was good entertainment, too.

“The two of you have no discipline whatsoever,” Shintarou sniffed, adjusting his glasses as he gave Aomine and Kagami unimpressed looks. Admittedly, they both looked pretty scruffy at the moment, wringing wet and gasping for breath.

“Oh, come on Shin-chan,” Kazunari called, bouncing the ball easily and keeping a sharp eye on Kuroko. “How long were they been playing for before we got there?”

“That,” Shintarou said in arctic tones, “is exactly my point. Both of them should have the strength to go for longer, if they ever bothered to pace themselves properly.” He swept back his hair, sweat-soaked for all his breathing was still disgustingly easy, and gave the two other aces a thoroughly disgruntled look.

Kazunari was hard-pressed not to laugh at the way both Kagami and Aomine seemed torn between glaring at each other and glaring at Shintarou. “Give ’em a break, Shin-chan. We can go bug Kise, if you want more of a work-out.” That suggestion focused both glares firmly on him, and he smirked back at them. He was pretty sure they’d be pacing themselves more carefully, after having to hear something like that from him; never let it be said he didn’t look after his partner’s interests.

“Midorima-kun is right, that’s enough for today,” Kuroko put in, and Kazunari blinked, finding his hand abruptly empty of the ball. Kuroko was getting sneakier every month, he swore. But that little coup seemed to be enough to settle Kuroko’s own partners, and they all trouped off the court together. Kazunari stretched his calves thoughtfully as they fished out water and towels, wondering if he’d really make it to Kaijou and back without his legs giving out. Which wasn’t a problem in and of itself, but Shin-chan would lecture him just as mercilessly as he did his ex-teammates. From the look in his partner’s eye, though, Kazunari really didn’t think Shintarou would be satisfied with this game alone, today. He’d been restless all morning, and looking forward to a hard game.

Sure enough, Shintarou was tetchy enough that even watching Kagami fasten a plain and unassuming necklace on was enough to rouse his ire. “You’ve always been careless, Aomine,” he snapped. “I notice you didn’t even bother taking your frivolous decorations off while you played.”

Huh. Now Shin-chan mentioned it, Aomine did have on a necklace a lot like Kagami’s, a plain leather cord number. In fact… it looked almost exactly alike. More to defuse Shintarou’s temper than anything else, Kazunari grinned and asked, “What, are you two married now, as well as rivals?”

He blinked when they both turned red and sputtered.

“It’s not…”

“Definitely not…”

“I mean, not like that…”

“Seriously, well okay, not exactly like that, but seriously…”

Kazunari’s eyes widened with delight at every jumbled denial. “You are, oh that’s so beautiful.” They nearly gargled at him, at that, reduced to non-verbal protests, and he laughed.

He’d never claimed that he didn’t have an evil sense of humor.

Before he could wind them up any more, though, Kuroko straightened up from zipping his bag and said firmly, “Enough.”

The command in his tone was a little startling, but Kazunari had seen Kuroko play hot, and he’d seen Kuroko angry once or twice. He knew Kuroko had a cutting edge under that smooth expression. What was a lot more startling was the way both Kagami and Aomine fell quiet at that one word.

At that order.

It all fell together at once, the matching leather necklaces, the way Aomine kept his on and Kagami had flushed just a little deeper putting his back on, the way that one word had pulled them up short. Kazunari pursed his lips and whistled quietly. “Well, well. Congratulations, then,” he told Kuroko, perfectly in earnest. He was impressed.

When Kuroko just dipped his head, accepting it as his due, Kazunari had to grin.

“In that case, we’ll just be off and let you three get on with things,” he said cheerily, slinging an arm, or at least a hand, around Shin-chan’s shoulder and tugging him toward the corner of the court where he’d left the bike and cart.

Shintarou frowned down at him in obvious puzzlement. “Takao, what–?”

“Shh.” Kazunari laughed under his breath. “Tell you later.” Aomine and Kagami were both red in the face. “Not that I’m actually all that surprised,” he added as he unlocked the bike and wheeled it around. “I mean, it’s always the ones you wouldn’t expect, right?” He paused, struck by an enticing thought as Shintarou gave him an exasperated look. “Hm. Speaking of which, what would you say to going straight home instead of visiting Kise?”

Shintarou looked down his nose. “And why would I agree to that, when Aomine and Kagami were barely a challenge today?”

Kazunari leaned against the seat of the bike, crossing his legs, and fished a coin out of his pocket. “I was thinking there might be a form of exercise you’d like more, today.” He tossed the coin lightly from hand to hand, smiling up at Shintarou. “What do you say, Shin-chan? Heads, you let me suck your fingers while I fuck you. Tails, I let you fuck me wherever and however you please.” The corners of his mouth curled a little higher as Shin-chan’s eyes widened behind his glasses. “How’s your fortune looking today?” he purred, and flipped the coin into the air for Shin-chan to call. Past the flash of metal, his partner’s eyes gleamed.

It was always the ones you wouldn’t expect.

Himuro Tatsuya was not expecting to hear his name called. He’d put his back against a nice, sturdy brick wall and was just keeping out of the way as the howling packs of shoppers swept past. But when someone called, “Tatsuya!”, he recognized the voice and looked up with a smile. A tilted smile, because he expected Taiga to give him a certain amount of hell for his current errand, but a smile.


Taiga forged awkwardly through the crush, obviously still not used to how close people pressed. His clothes fit into the crowd down here well enough; the sneakers weren’t exactly stylish, but when you were built like Taiga a pair of jeans and a shirt thrown on over a tee were all you needed to make people look around for the photo-shoot. No one did, though, because Taiga was so completely unconscious and uncaring of how he looked in the middle of crowds bent on buying things to look prettier. He always had been, and Tatsuya had shaken his head over the fact for years. The only hint of fashion on Taiga, as far as he could see, was the necklace Taiga wore, no longer the chain and ring Tatsuya had gotten him but a leather cord. Even that probably wasn’t on purpose. He wondered, a little wryly, whether Taiga had just gotten that used to wearing something around his neck.

Taiga finally fetched up against the wall, a little breathless. “You didn’t say you’d be in town this weekend.”

“I didn’t know I was going to be until extremely early this morning,” Tatsuya said, dry. “Atsushi wanted to come buy some new kind of candy that’s being sold starting today.” He waved at one of the mammoth lines down the street, where one very tall figure could be seen looming over the competition. “First time I’ve ever seen him get up early.” He cocked his head up at Taiga. “So what are you in for?” He’d never known Taiga to willingly go out shopping for anything but groceries.

“New shoes.”

Tatsuya started at that quiet voice right at his elbow, and eyed Kuroko, who had appeared there. He was starting to suspect that Teikou’s old ‘invisible man’ got a kick out of doing that to people.

“At least this time I know they’ve actually got my size,” Taiga added, unsurprised. Maybe he’d gotten used to the jack-in-the-box act. “This time I ordered them ahead of time.”

Tatsuya could sympathize, especially after the coach put him in charge of ordering Atsushi’s supplies. No one stocked shoes that size. He’d finally resorted to online stores with direct shipping. Some of the other team members made jokes about baby-sitting, but Tatsuya didn’t actually mind. God knew Atsushi was pretty much at sea anywhere except a basketball court. Someone had to look after him.

Taiga had never needed looking after that way. Not really. He’d always had a solid core in him that held him steady. If it seemed weird for someone to be anchored by wild enthusiasm for life, well it had also been fun to be around. At least, it had been fun until he’d realized that Taiga didn’t need him. That Taiga had grown so much that he’d started trying to protect Tatsuya. That… that had been more than he could take.

That wasn’t something they could really talk about, though. It wasn’t something a person like Taiga would ever understand. So instead he laughed. “First time I’ve even seen you laying plans to get any kind of clothing, even for the game.” He added, teasing, “Though maybe you’re getting stylish in your old age.” He lifted a finger to flick at the cord necklace that had replaced his chain. Taiga rocked back from the gesture, almost a flinch, and a moment of remorse nipped at Tatsuya. There was no need to be cruel, just because Taiga had grown beyond him.

That wasn’t what stopped the gesture, though.

Tatsuya’s brows lifted as he looked down at Kuroko, who was abruptly standing between him and Taiga with an iron grip on Tatsuya’s wrist. “You have no right to touch that,” Kuroko said softly, every polite ending sharpened to a cutting edge.

“I think that’s Taiga’s to say, don’t you?” Tatsuya wasn’t going to stand for Kuroko trying to protect Taiga when Tatsuya couldn’t. It was ridiculous to imagine.

Kuroko’s gaze didn’t so much as flicker, and his voice was as hard as his grip. “This is mine to say. And you will keep your hands off it.” He nearly threw Tatsuya’s hand aside.

Tatsuya snorted. “Taiga, are you seriously going to tell me…” he trailed off, staring at Taiga. Taiga, who was watching Kuroko with suddenly wide eyes, whose hand lifted to touch that necklace lightly. Taiga who glanced briefly at him and then aside, color sneaking over his cheekbones.

“This is Tetsuya’s to say,” Taiga admitted.

For a long breath, Tatsuya’s brain flatly refused to put the pieces together, but they fit so very clearly that he couldn’t hold it off for long. That wasn’t just a necklace.

And if this was something Taiga wanted, then maybe… maybe they could have…

“Muro-chin?” Atsushi loomed out of the crowd, brightly colored candy bag already open in his hand. “And Kuro-chin.”

Tatsuya took a slow breath. No. Maybe if he’d known sooner, but it certainly wouldn’t work now. He had Atsushi to take care of, and judging by the narrow look Kuroko was still giving him he didn’t think Kuroko was the sharing type. “Well, good luck with those shoes, then,” he said, as easily as if nothing had happened. “I’d better get Atsushi back up to Akita before anyone misses us.”

“Probably wise, yes,” Kuroko murmured, and Tatsuya’s mouth quirked. Yeah, that was one possessive little bastard.

“We’ll see you at semi-finals, then,” Taiga added quietly, watching Tatsuya with shadowed eyes.

“Quit looking like that, Taiga,” Tatsuya told him easily. “It’ll be fun.” Probably more fun for Taiga than for him, but he was used to that. “Come on Atsushi, be thinking about what kind of station bento you want to get; if we miss another train because you couldn’t decide, I’m taking the cost of changing tickets out of your wallet.” He waved goodbye and led his teammate back out into the crush.

He was used to wanting things he couldn’t have. It was always best to just set it aside.


Daiki pretty much took Tai’s apartment as an extra home, these days, so he didn’t bother knocking before breezing in the unlocked door. “Hey, guys, up for a…” he trailed off, startled. Tetsu and Tai were on the couch; well, Tetsu was a least. Tai was on his knees, head buried in Tetsu’s lap, holding on to Tetsu like the last branch in a flood. Tetsu had his fingers buried in Tai’s hair, stroking it slowly, while his other arm stayed wrapped around Tai’s shoulders. He looked up at Daiki, eyes serious but not dark, and beckoned Daiki closer with a tilt of his head.

Daiki came and knelt behind Tai, pressing close against his back, and wound his arms around Tai. “Hey,” he said again, quieter. Tai made an acknowledging sound, but didn’t move, and Daiki looked up at Tetsu, questioning. “What happened?”

True anger sparked in Tetsu’s eyes, though his hands stayed gentle, stroking Tai’s hair. “We ran into Himuro-san today. He took notice of Taiga’s collar.”

“He let go so easy; he lets everything go so easy,” Tai finally said, voice rough and muffled against Tetsu’s lap.

Daiki thought about that. “Well,” he said at last, “it’s a good thing you’re with Tetsu, then.”

Tai finally lifted his head to blink at Daiki over his shoulder. “…huh?”

“That went by a little fast.” Tetsu was smiling, though, and he set his other hand in Daiki’s hair.

“Well, think about it,” Daiki pointed out, leaning into Tetsu’s fingers with pleasure. “Tetsu doesn’t let anything go. I mean, I’m here aren’t I?”

Tai blinked a few more times and finally looked up at Tetsu. “Not anything?” His voice was still husky, but it was starting to sound like Tai again.

There was fire behind Tetsu’s calm smile, the fire that Daiki had always seen in him, always loved in him. “Not anything,” he confirmed with absolute certainty. “Not Daiki. Not you.” He trailed his fingers down Tai’s neck to rest on the leather cord of his collar. “Not ever.”

Tai took a slow, shaky breath and let it out. “Okay.”

Daiki could feel Tai relaxing, between them, and pulled him closer with a little smile buried in Tai’s wild red hair. That was better. It just didn’t feel right when Tai freaked out; he was the steady one.

Tetsu slid his fingers through their hair, slow and gentle. “I don’t let go of what’s mine,” he said softly, and Daiki made a satisfied sound against Tai’s shoulder. That was the way it should be. He brushed his lips over the cord of Tai’s collar and purred at the feel of Tai relaxing some more.

They were together in this, and that was enough.


Last Modified: Sep 17, 13
Posted: Nov 07, 12
Name (optional):
anehan and 6 other readers sent Plaudits.

Wrapped in Honeysuckle

Aomine, Kuroko, and Kagami finally all wind up in bed together. Aomine thinks he knows how this will work, but when there are actual emotions at stake he’s probably the one with the least idea what’s going on. Romance, Porn with Characterization, I-4

“So.” Daiki flexed his foot and stretched his leg over the length of Seirin’s changing room bench, working the threatening cramp out of his calf. “New school year. Seems like the kind of thing we could stand to celebrate a little.”

Tetsu hesitated for a moment before he finished scrubbing his towel over his hair and nodded. “I suppose we could.” Daiki softened into a smile. Tetsu was the one of them who went at the most deliberate pace. If he agreed, then he was sure of himself, and a Tetsu who was sure of himself was unstoppable. It was something Daiki really wanted to get to see, in bed.

Kagami, on the other hand, was just looking resigned. “I knew this would happen once I let on I was living alone,” he grumbled. “First the senpai, now you. Fine, but if you spill any beer on the floor, you’re the one cleaning it up.”

Daiki blinked. For a perceptive guy, Kagami could be stunningly oblivious sometimes.

“Actually, I think it would be better to do this at my house,” Tetsu said, so calm and earnest that Daiki was instantly suspicious.

“Why?” Kagami asked, looking puzzled as he finished buttoning his shirt and scooped up his water bottle. “Your place is further from the station, isn’t it? More carpets to clean afterward, too.”

“Because we have enough spare futons to spread a double bed that all of us will fit in,” Tetsu explained, perfectly matter-of-fact.

The mouthful of water Kagami had just taken nearly hit the opposite wall and Daiki flopped back across the bench, laughing. Also a little flushed, because Tetsu had gotten to him with that mental image, too, but mostly laughing his ass off.

After a few seconds of coughing into his towel, Kagami rasped, “You know, when I came back they told me I’d have to adjust to how much more reserved everyone was in Japan.”

“Don’t tell me you’re just now figuring out Tetsu is evil,” Daiki snickered.

“Oh, I knew that as soon as he came after me with that damn dog.” Kagami glowered at Tetsu for a second before light suddenly dawned. “Hey, wait. Are you serious?”

Tetsu wore a tiny smile, now. “Yes.”


Daiki felt an urge to wave his hand in front of Kagami’s face just to see if that would break the way he was staring at Tetsu. He suspected it might not, which was kind of cute and also a little embarrassing to watch. “Stop blushing and say ‘Yes, Tetsu’,” he prompted.

“If you want to,” Tetsu added firmly.

“He’s upright and breathing,” Daiki felt called upon to point out. “You expect him to say he doesn’t want to have sex?” Then he had to duck as Kagami swatted at him, glowering.

“I don’t know why he puts up with you,” Kagami growled. “I don’t know why I do, either.”

“Because I’m just that good.” Daiki lounged back on the bench, smirking. “Don’t forget to actually give us an answer, here.”

Kagami glowered at him some more, but it softened when he looked back at Tetsu. “Yeah,” he finally said, quietly. “I’d like that.”

Daiki grinned. Now they were getting somewhere.

Four days later, Daiki sprawled in Tetsu’s desk chair and considered their set-up. There was a double futon spread on the floor, taking up most of the open space in Tetsu’s room, with enough pillows for everyone. There was a pump-top bottle set neatly by the top of the bedding that Daiki was pretty sure he recognized the brand of, even though half the lettering was worn off the white plastic; that wear sent his mind down very distracting paths, thinking about Tetsu lying in the bed under the windows, strong slim fingers moving over himself.

The room was also furnished with Kagami, still a little damp from the shower and just about clutching a towel around his hips. Daiki was deeply tempted to tease him over acting like a nervous virgin, but before he got any further than smirking across the futon the faint sound of running water across the hall shut off. They were both looking at the door when Tetsu came in, rubbing a towel through his hair. Like Daiki, he hadn’t bothered with another, and Daiki grinned, anticipation curling through him. “So,” he pushed up out of Tetsu’s chair, “how are we going to do this?”

He had some ideas, of course, but he figured it was polite to at least ask.

Tetsu made a thoughtful sound, letting the towel drop. “There do seem to be some ways for three people at once,” he mused, “but they looked complicated for beginners.”

Daiki snickered helplessly while Kagami flushed from that towel right up to his hairline. “Of course you looked into the options.”

Tetsu gave him a reproving look. “I want this to work.”

Daiki softened at that and came to rest his hands on Tetsu’s hips, leaning down to kiss him. “I do too,” he admitted, low. He smiled wryly as he straightened, looking down at Tetsu. “So? Who gets to be first?” He didn’t think either he or Kagami was dumb enough to think that was anything but Tetsu’s call.

Tetsu’s brows quirked up a little and his eyes got the glint that made Daiki wary. In the same perfectly polite forms he used for everything from fighting with his teammates to answering questions in class, Tetsu told him, “I’m sure Kagami-kun wouldn’t mind if you’d like me to fuck you first.”

Daiki froze.

“You didn’t even think about it, did you?” Kagami asked, leaning back against the wall and finally letting go of his towel to cross his arms.

“Oh, like you did,” Daiki snapped, because it was a lot easier to glare at Kagami than at Tetsu right now. He actually hadn’t thought about it at all, he’d just… well everyone else let him do what he wanted… this wasn’t actually sounding very good even inside his own head.

Kagami just snorted and gave Tetsu a sidelong look. “Actually, considering the number of falls I’ve taken from him, yeah I did think about it.”

Daiki blinked and stared back down at Tetsu, startled.

“It was necessary,” Tetsu said firmly, as if they were talking about keeping up a training regimen instead of him downing his own partner. He’d thought what Tetsu had done during the match against Hanamiya was the exception, not the rule!

“So,” Daiki said slowly, “when you said, that one time, that you’d learned how to keep your partner away from the edge…”

Tetsu just looked back at him, calm and level, with such world-bending determination that Daiki nearly took a step back. “Okay, maybe I see why you thought about it,” he told Kagami, ruefully.

Kagami smiled, a bit crooked, and came away from the wall to stand at Tetsu’s back, arms wound lightly around his waist, above Daiki’s hands. “It’s Tetsuya,” he said quietly against Tetsu’s hair. “So why are you so surprised?”

Daiki winced slightly; he had to admit that he probably shouldn’t be, and he sighed, pulling his thoughts together. “Give me a little while to get used to the idea?” he asked Tetsu, running a thumb along his cheekbone. Tetsu smiled, small and warm.

“Of course. If it’s really something you don’t like, that’s different of course.”

But he didn’t get to get away with just assuming, Daiki finished the thought wryly. Yeah, he got it.

“So how are we going to do this?” Kagami asked, and Tetsu laughed softly.

“I don’t actually mind receiving.” He leaned back against Kagami and ran his hands up Daiki’s chest, slow and exploratory. “This time, anyway.”

Daiki and Kagami glanced at each other; Kagami’s eyes were dark and serious, and Daiki felt knocked for enough of a loop right then that he said, quick and impulsive, “Let Kagami.”

Kagami’s brows jerked up. “Are you sure?”

Daiki drew himself up. “Of course I’m sure.” Not like he was insecure about Tetsu or anything. Much. He caught Tetsu’s hand and lifted it to press his lips to the inside of Tetsu’s wrist, murmuring to his old partner, “But let me get you ready?”

Tetsu’s eyes were half closed. “Yes. I’d like that.”

Kagami shifted forward to support him at the same moment Daiki pressed closer, and they both stilled for a moment, eyeing each other over Tetsu’s head. But the way Tetsu relaxed between them, the soft, pleased sound he made, drew both their eyes right back down. Daiki was just a little careful as he bent his head to kiss Tetsu again, careful not to knock into Kagami’s shoulder, and they both slid their arms more firmly around Tetsu. This had been a lot easier to deal with when he’d only had to think about one of them at a time; then he hadn’t had to worry about how it would look if he ragged on Kagami to settle his nerves or let Tetsu pet his hair until he was just about purring. But both of them was obviously what Tetsu wanted. It wasn’t like Daiki disliked Kagami at all, just… they were too alike.

Alike in wanting Tetsu, in responding to him, to the warmth of his mouth against Daiki’s. Alike in being what Tetsu wanted, apparently.

On the bright side, Daiki realized as Tetsu wound his arms around Daiki’s shoulders and pulled him down more firmly, that meant Tetsu probably wouldn’t want one of them over the other, wouldn’t favor his current partner over his ex-partner who’d screwed up so thoroughly by breaking their game. Probably.


Daiki pressed closer, kissing Tetsu deeper, hot and wanting. And maybe Tetsu understood, because he kissed back just as hard, hands kneading over Daiki’s shoulders until he quieted a little, soothed by the feeling that Tetsu wasn’t going to let go. “Bed?” he asked softly.

“Bed,” Tetsu agreed, a little flushed.

It took a little arranging, but finally they were all stretched out on the futon pretty much the same way they’d been standing, back to front to front, with Kagami pressed up against Tetsu’s back and Tetsu’s leg sliding up to hook over Daiki’s hip and pull him closer. “At this rate, maybe we didn’t need the double futon after all,” Daiki laughed against Tetsu’s neck.

“I don’t think it would make anyone any less nervous to be worrying about falling off the edge of the bed,” Kagami said a little dryly.

“What’s to be nervous about?” Daiki asked softly, reaching for Tetsu’s bottle of lube, gaze fixed on the way Tetsu closed his eyes as he leaned his head back against Kagami’s shoulder. He glanced up at Kagami’s silence to find Kagami watching him as Daiki squeezed cool, thick gel into his palm. Kagami’s eyes were dark and thoughtful.

“No reason,” he said, finally, gathering Tetsu closer against him.

Daiki relaxed a little; at least Kagami had the good sense not to spook Tetsu with his own nerves. He kept holding Tetsu close as Daiki slid slick fingers down between Tetsu’s cheeks, but that was all right. Daiki wanted Tetsu to relax. He wanted Tetsu to keep making the soft, pleased sounds he was making right now, as Daiki’s fingers pressed slowly into him, and if having his current partner holding him helped, then that was how they’d do this. Because he didn’t want to have to stop touching Tetsu like this, feeling the heat of Tetsu’s body and the shift of his muscles around Daiki’s fingers, seeing the way Tetsu’s pale skin turned flushed and his lips parted.

“Daiki,” Tetsu sighed, tugging Daiki down to a kiss, and the sound of his bare name from Tetsu sent a little shiver of response up his spine. He kissed Tetsu slow and deep, fingers working inside him, and swallowed the little hitches of Tetsu’s breath. Part of him suddenly wanted to pull Tetsu closer, away from Kagami, say that, no, Tetsu was his, only his, but… he knew that wasn’t what Tetsu wanted now. He knew, it was just… He buried his head against Tetsu’s shoulder, touching him slow and careful. So careful.

He started a little when a large, warm hand settled gently on the back of his neck. “Easy,” Kagami told him, low and quiet. “It’s okay, right? No one’s going anywhere.”

Daiki had a hard time not lifting his head to stare at Kagami; how the hell had he known? The goal here, though, was to not spook Tetsu, so he just took a breath and nodded a little. “Yeah.” He kissed Tetsu’s bare shoulder and murmured, “Think you’re ready?”

Tetsu’s hand on his cheek coaxed his head up again, and Tetsu met his eyes with a thoughtful look for a long moment before he smiled. “Yes,” he said softly, like it was the answer to more questions than Daiki had actually asked, and kissed Daiki again. It was a gentle kiss but with a hint of fierceness; it was so much Tetsu it made him shiver. With that taste of fierceness in his mouth and Kagami’s hand still resting warm and steady against his back, it was easy to reach for more lube, to stroke it over Kagami’s cock and make a pleased sound that Kagami was hard for Tetsu already. Daiki fondled him, considering. He was definitely a nice handful, too.

“Fuck,” Kagami gasped against Tetsu’s hair, rocking up a little into Daiki’s hand, and Daiki had to laugh at the slow smile on Tetsu’s face, the glint in his eyes.

Tetsu wound his arms around Daiki’s shoulders and pressed up against him, murmuring, “Taiga. Come on.”

Kagami’s eyes were dark. “Yeah,” he said, husky, “all right.” He slid up tighter against Tetsu’s back and let Daiki guide him against Tetsu’s entrance. As he started to press in, Tetsu’s breath caught against Daiki’s shoulder, and Daiki had an unexpected flash of panic. Would this be all right, would Tetsu be all right, was this going to work? He pressed an open-mouthed kiss to the curve of Tetsu’s neck, hands sliding up to knead against Tetsu’s back, and whispered, “Relax, just relax, it’s okay…”

And then Kagami made a low, husky sound in his throat, and Tetsu did relax with a slow sigh, and a little shiver ran over Daiki as he stared at them. Tetsu slowly leaned his head back against Kagami’s shoulder, flushed, lips parted. Kagami was curled around him, eyes half closed with obvious concentration, big hands spread against Tetsu’s stomach. They were gorgeous together, and it wasn’t making Daiki jealous right now. It was making him hard.

“Daiki,” Tetsu murmured, tugging at his shoulders, and Daiki swallowed.

“Yeah. Yeah, okay.” When Kagami looked up at him with a smile, Daiki remembered that was almost exactly what Kagami had said to Tetsu, and couldn’t help smiling back, crooked. Yeah, maybe Kagami was on to something when he’d thought about Tetsu being on top. Daiki ran his hands slowly down Tetsu’s body, tracing the sleek hard lines of his muscles, and thought seriously about tracing them with his tongue too. That would be awkward right now, though, so maybe later. Instead he caught Tetsu’s mouth and slid his tongue between those parted lips, and wrapped still-slick fingers around Tetsu’s cock. The way Tetsu moaned into his mouth, low and breathless, rocking against him with the flex of Kagami’s body, pulled a wordless answering sound out of Daiki.

It turned hoarse and half-shocked when one of Kagami’s hands wrapped around Daiki’s cock. He looked up to see Kagami watching him with hot, hungry eyes as he moved against Tetsu. “Come on,” Kagami said, husky, tightening his other arm around Tetsu and rocking in deeper if the way Tetsu gasped was any clue. And then Kagami smiled, a little challenging and a little laughing, and finished, “Daiki.”

Tetsu laughed, between them, pulling Daiki closer, and a little shudder of want and nerves and excitement ran through him. Tetsu wanted this. It seemed like Kagami wanted this. So maybe it was okay. “Kagami…”

Kagami’s fingers on him were slow and coaxing, flexing a little in time with the way Kagami rocked against Tetsu.

Daiki took a breath and tried the name out on his tongue. “Taiga.” The way Kagami’s smile softened startled Daiki a little, and he responded to it without thinking, reaching up to bury his free hand in that wild red hair. “Tai.”

Kagami… Taiga closed his eyes, leaning into Daiki’s hand a little. “Yeah.”

Heat was starting to unravel Daiki’s brain, the heat of all of Tetsu’s skin up against him and Taiga’s hand on his cock and Tetsu’s arms around him tightening when Daiki stroked Tetsu’s cock harder. In the middle of all that heat, it made perfect sense to lean in and kiss Tai, and perfect sense to let Tai’s tongue fill his mouth slowly, so slow and thorough and wet that he had to moan with how good it felt.

When Tetsu bucked between them, gasping, cock pulsing in Daiki’s hand, it made Daiki’s own body tighten, sudden and hot.

“Fuck, Tetsuya,” Taiga groaned into Daiki’s mouth, and Daiki could feel how he shuddered, how his thrust drove Tetsu harder against Daiki. Just thinking about that made the pleasure building low in Daiki’s stomach tighten sharply, and feeling it happen was hotter than he’d thought it possibly could be. He wrapped his sticky hand around Tai’s fist and held it tight around him as he rocked into Tai’s grip hard and fast.

One panting breath, another, and Tai tore his mouth away from Daiki’s and buried his head against Tetsu’s shoulder as his whole body jerked taut. Tetsu gasped again, soft, and pulled Daiki down ruthlessly against his mouth, kissing him hot and hard. Daiki moaned as Tai’s grip tightened a little more and one last thrust spilled him over the edge, breath cutting short and sharp as pleasure burst through him.

In the dazed, sticky warmth after, before any of them started to try to untangle themselves, Daiki thought about how unexpected most of that had been. How unexpected it was that Tai’s hand was still on him, just as easy resting there as Tetsu’s arms were around his shoulders. Or his hand in Tai’s hair.

Daiki hadn’t really thought he’d be a part of them being together. Not like this. He’d thought it would be him and Tetsu, and Kagami and Tetsu, and maybe him and Kagami too when they were warmed up by a good game. He hadn’t thought about something like Taiga kissing him and fucking Tetsu and Tetsu holding him and Daiki fisting off Tetsu and Tai’s hand tightening around him. It was a thought to make a person dizzy trying to follow it around. Dizzy and warm.

Tetsu’s fingers stroked the back of his neck, and Daiki realized Tetsu had been watching him all this time. “Is this what you want?” Tetsu asked quietly.

Daiki opened his mouth and closed it again. “It is now,” he finally said. Now that it was a possibility in his head.

Tetsu’s brows creased just faintly at that, but Taiga looked up with dark, thoughtful eyes. His hand finally loosened from around Daiki, slid out from under the grip Daiki hadn’t let go yet, and rested on his shoulder. “Hey,” he said softly, “come here for a second.” When he tugged, Daiki leaned in, only a little wary, and let Tai kiss him again. This one was a quiet kiss, slow and gentle, and it almost made Daiki twitch with not knowing what to do about it. “It’s okay,” Tai told him, thumb rubbing along the muscle of his shoulder. Tai’s mouth quirked. “You’re a complete idiot sometimes. It’s okay.”

Daiki glared a little at that, though he couldn’t get much force behind it because Taiga did seem to know what to do with all this. He looked back down at Tetsu, instead. “It’s what I want now,” he said again, low, and Tetsu’s whole expression softened and lightened. He leaned up to kiss Daiki, warm and open.


Daiki wound his arms tight around Tetsu, head pressed against his shoulder again, and didn’t protest when Tai’s fingers ran gently through his hair. It felt good, in a way that made his stomach a little shaky with unfamiliar warmth deep enough to close over his head. Maybe, he decided, sex could be better than basketball, after all.

Some of it, anyway.

In hanakotoba, honeysuckle indicates generosity or devotion.


Last Modified: Sep 17, 13
Posted: Nov 14, 12
Name (optional):
4 readers sent Plaudits.

This Moment to Arise – Departures and Arrivals

Kuroko hauls Aomine to Seirin, and Momoi comes with them. The team is delighted, if a little taken aback by Kuroko’s unnoticeability and Aomine’s lack of condition. Kuroko is all the more convinced he’s brought them to the right place after he meets Kagami, and sees the challenge he has the potential to offer Aomine. Drama, I-3

The door of Tetsuya’s classroom slammed open and Aomine stood glowering in the doorway. “Tetsu!”

Ah. He’d finally heard. Tetsuya put down his sandwich and waited while Aomine stalked through his scattering classmates to slam a piece of paper down on Tetsuya’s desk. The header, as much of it as was visible under Aomine’s hand, said Sei. “What the hell is this?” Aomine demanded.

“A letter,” he observed, just to get things rolling properly.

“Damn it, Tetsu, what did you say to my parents?” Aomine ran a rough hand through his hair, throwing himself down backward into the desk in front of Tetsuya’s. “They went and registered me with this place already, without even asking me!”

“You’ve rejected four top schools already, left to yourself,” Tetsuya pointed out, as he had pointed out to Aomine’s parents. “Seirin has a good reputation, but they don’t chase after athletes with recruiters. Your parents feel they’ll be less likely to indulge you too much.”

Aomine glowered at him. “You want to drag me off to some no-name school that doesn’t care about their sports programs? Tetsu, what the hell?”

“Their basketball club just formed last year, but they advanced to the finals of the Kantou preliminaries,” Tetsuya offered. He hadn’t chosen Seirin on a whim, after all. He’d looked carefully for a school that might help him reach Aomine again.

Aomine flicked dismissive fingers. “Yeah, I looked up their record, too. They got trashed by the high-school bracket’s top three. And then got trashed some more in winter. It was a decent start, but either it was a fluke or they don’t have any staying power. They aren’t in our range at all.”

“Then won’t it be a challenge?” Aomine hesitated at that, and Tetsuya felt the first real tingle of hope that this would work. “Isn’t that what you want?”

“Mm.” Aomine looked out the window, face still. “…you’re coming?”

“Of course.” Tetsuya made himself smile a little; if it was painful to do it after the tournament season they’d just had, no one else had to know that. Aomine did still want him there, and that was another grain of hope after the way the whole team had turned away from him on the court. And if doing this ran against the parting orders Akashi had given them… well it wasn’t as though Tetsuya was feeling either obedient or charitable toward his ex-captain these days. Besides, Tetsuya was a supporting player. Akashi had said so himself, repeatedly. As long as the light was divided, it shouldn’t matter where the shadow went. At least, that would be Tetsuya’s story if anyone asked.

Tetsuya wasn’t giving up his partner, or his game, without a fight.

Finally, Aomine snorted and wadded up the letter to stuff it into his pocket. “Guess it’s too late to be complaining anyway, since my parents already signed me up. Fine. We’ll see what this newbie club looks like.” He stood and stretched, mouth twisted into a half smile. “Maybe you’ll be right, and it’ll be a challenge to face the rest of the guys with a half-assed team.”

Tetsuya thought about the match footage he’d asked Momoi-san to find for him, and the straight, unbowed shoulders of Seirin’s players leaving the court, even after defeat. This time, he smile was truer.

“Yes,” he said quietly. “Let’s see.”

Aomine slouched against the side of the school message board as Tetsuya ran a finger down the map of club tables. “So? Where are we going?”

“Further down on the right.” Tetsuya turned and looked through the sway and shuffle of other new students, and older students talking up their personal clubs. Yes, there was the table they wanted, down in a quiet corner as one might expect for a small, new club. There was a student at it signing up already, though, which was encouraging. “There,” he pointed.

Aomine glanced over the top of the crowd and didn’t move. “Already got someone, huh? Well, at least it won’t be just us. Satsuki, go grab us some forms.”

Momoi swung her bag briskly and whacked him in the side. “I’m not your manager again until we get joined up. Get your own.”

Aomine pouted at her, and that was familiar enough to make Tetsuya smile. “Come with me, Momoi-san, and I’ll get them while you talk to the senpai. Aomine-kun can be left out if he wants.”


Momoi giggled and linked her arm with his as they slipped through the crowd, leaving Aomine looking indignant by the message board. He steered them through the press with a light hand on her elbow and let her take the seat the tall red-head was just vacating. “Hello!” she nearly sparkled at the slight girl and the boy with glasses sitting behind the table, and the second boy hanging over the end of it looking like he’d just gotten off some kind of hair-raising amusement park ride. “We’d like to sign up for the basketball club!”

The girl smiled, open and pleased, and passed over a paper form. “Would you like to manage the club? That’s wonderful, we haven’t been able to find a manager before this!”

Momoi smiled her having-secrets smile and plucked a pencil out of the cup on the table. “Yes. I think I’ll be able to help out a lot.”

Tetsuya took two forms and two pencils and made his way back to Aomine, handing him one. “Fill it out properly,” he added, firmly, “or I won’t take it back for you.”

Aomine sniffed. “Why should I care whether I have to drop it off on the way past?” He ran a quick eye down the form and paused. “Ah.”

Tetsuya enjoyed the small moment of triumph as he meticulously filled in his name and his reason for joining. And his previous experience. Momoi could probably pass through without causing too much excitement, if only because so few people knew what she’d really done for Teikou. But two Teikou starting players? There would almost certainly be a fuss, unless Tetsuya was the one to slip the forms unnoticeably back onto the table. He nodded, satisfied, as Aomine heaved a sigh and scribbled down all his information, holding the paper against the back of the message board.

They picked Momoi up on the way past, and she waved her fingers at the girl, who was looking a little exasperated, and the boy, who was looking a little disheveled, like maybe he’d been smacked by his companion at some point. Momoi-san was grinning as they walked away.

“What did you do, Satsuki?” Aomine wanted to know, eyeing her sidelong.

She clasped her hands behind her, wide-eyed. “Nothing much. It’s just that Riko-kantoku is really easy to tease.”

“Kantoku?” Aomine echoed, looking back at the table, startled. “Wait. You mean… that girl is the coach around here?” He glared at Tetsuya. “I told you this school was half-assed!”

“Aida Riko,” Momoi murmured as they climbed the low steps to the school’s front doors. “Daughter of Aida Kagetora, who played center for the Japanese national team for five years. He retired to work as a very successful trainer in his own sports gym, and his daughter is following in those footsteps.”

“It will never not be creepy, the way you know this stuff,” Aomine grumbled, but he didn’t complain about their new team any more. Momoi winked at Tetsuya behind his back as they went in and started looking for their shoe lockers. Tetsuya gave her a tiny nod back; they would make this work.

And at least, this way, Aomine was forewarned and didn’t do more than sigh when their new coach ordered all the first year recruits to strip, at practice that afternoon. He did roll his eyes when Momoi, standing on the sidelines with a fresh pad of paper in her clipboard, made an interested Oohhhh sound and the entire club blushed as one. Tetsuya was mildly amused, himself, until the coach looked right past him and asked where he was. Then he sighed a little. He’d forgotten the occasional drawbacks of breaking in a new team.

When Aomine and Momoi chorused, “He’s right there,” and pointed to him, though, he smiled. They were still together. They would make this work.

He felt another flash of hope when Aida-san got to Aomine and paused, frowning. “Aomine-kun,” she finally said, hands on her hips. “Why are you in such bad shape?”

“Bad shape?” their new captain echoed, startled. “What do you mean?”

Their coach knelt, one hand lightly on Aomine’s knee, studying his legs more closely while Aomine looked a bit flustered. “His figures are incredible. Off the chart, really. But there’s a lot more muscle deterioration than I’d expect for just the off-season.” She stood and frowned at him more fiercely. “You haven’t been keeping up your training at all!”

Aomine shrugged one shoulder. “I win without it.”

“That isn’t the point!” Aida-san shook a finger at him. “You’re going to injure yourself if you keep playing the way your team did without keeping your motion drills up. I’m not having one of my players injuring himself through sheer idiocy! You’re barred from full-speed plays and any practice matches we have until you’ve built up your joint strength again.”

“I’m what?” Aomine stared at her in absolute disbelief. Tetsuya exchanged a quick glance with Momoi, who was wide-eyed and looked impressed. Their old coach and captain had set limits on Aomine when he practiced against the rest of the starting team, but no one had ever barred him from matches.

“Don’t argue with the coach about training,” Hyuuga-san told him flatly. “If she says you’re in danger of injury, that’s all there is to it. You keep her training schedule or I’ll pull you out of the official matches, too.”

Aomine stiffened at that, and Tetsuya let his breath out, a little wondering at how easy it had been. That was the one threat that would work. The one Akashi would never have allowed. And Hyuuga-san had delivered it without blinking, clearly in earnest.

“All right,” Aida-san clapped her hands. “Let’s get started! Today you can get a taste of the kind of training we do!”

Aomine sulked through the drills, and Tetsuya stayed close to him. Aomine ignored him, though, obviously remembering exactly who was responsible for him being here. When practice was over, and they met Momoi at the doors, Aomine said, “I’ll walk you home today, Satsuki.” He still wasn’t looking at Tetsuya.

Momoi glanced between them, worried, but Tetsuya nodded silently. He wouldn’t put up with being ignored for too much longer, but it suited him well enough to be on his own tonight.

There was someone else he’d been watching, today. He made a guess at where someone like Kagami, who was almost as impatient with the endless drills as Aomine had been, would go after a practice like today’s. Sure enough, he found Kagami shooting basket after basket in the little court at one end of the park between school and the nearest station. He opened the gate and greeted his new teammate quietly. “Kagami-kun.”

Kagami jumped and yelped, and Tetsuya waited for him to collect himself again. “You.” Kagami shook back sweat-damp hair, tucking his ball into the crook of one arm. “Well, I guess that works; I wanted to talk to one of you. I keep hearing about this ‘Generation of Miracles’, but when I came back from the States last year the level of all the middle school basketball I saw was pathetic. So, you’re from that team, right? Are you really that good?”

Tetsuya nodded to himself; Kagami had reminded him of Aomine, earlier, throwing himself into even drills like he was throwing himself over the edge of something, dissatisfied only because it wasn’t enough for him. Kagami was the type who played for intense games.


“Teikou never lost,” he said plainly. “Not once, the whole three years Aomine-kun and the rest played.”

Kagami made a disgruntled sound. “That doesn’t tell me anything. Maybe your opponents were all just weak.” He caught the ball again, bouncing it fluidly. “Play me. I want to see for myself.”

Tetsuya shrugged and agreed. It would be a good chance for him to measure Kagami’s game and get a sense of his nature.

They made it for about five minutes before Kagami blew up at him.

“Of course I’m not going to win,” Tetsuya told him absently, turning over in his mind what he’d seen. “That’s not the kind of player I am.” Kagami’s game burned hot; Kagami obviously loved it, and gave all of himself to it. That was good. But he was still unfocused. Tetsuya guessed that he played by responding to his opponents, shaping his game to against theirs. He’d ask Momoi, after she’d seen him play, to be sure. That kind of reactive play meant Kagami was only as strong as the opponents he’d met so far. It meant Kagami couldn’t match any of Tetsuya’s old team right now, but it might also mean he could grow to do so.

Kagami stopped yelling and sighed, slinging his uniform jacket over his shoulders. “Never mind. Just… look, take some advice and quit basketball. However much team effort you try to put in, the fact is it takes talent to play and win. You don’t have any.”

That jarred Tetsuya out of his thoughts, sent his mind flashing back to the day he’d said almost exactly the same thing of himself. Said it to Aomine, and had Aomine convince him to stay, convince him that his love of the game was the only crucial part to being a good player.

If he said those words to Aomine today, Aomine would probably agree, just like Kagami was right now.

The thought stiffened Tetsuya’s spine. “No,” he answered calmly. “I love the game, and I’m not leaving it. Besides, like I said, that’s not the kind of player I am. I’m a shadow. In a game, you’ll see.” Kagami frowned at him, puzzled, and Tetsuya tipped his head, considering his new teammate. He thought he knew what he needed to do, now, to make use of the strength Kagami did have. “You asked about how good the Generation of Miracles is. Now I’ve seen you play up close, I can tell you this. With your current game, you couldn’t even reach their feet.”

Kagami bristled. “What?”

“If you play Aomine-kun, you’ll see.” If they were lucky, Kagami’s fire would start Aomine’s again. If Kagami was the kind of player who loved hard games, who grew against tough opponents, this would be good for him, too. And Tetsuya might finally get his partner and his game back. If Aomine had someone to play against who didn’t give up easily, maybe he would start to come out of the dark again. “If you’re strong enough,” Tetsuya added, “you’ll have all the challenging games you might want. And when we play together, you’ll understand how I was part of that team.”

He had his own pride, after all. He would make them all understand, his old teammates and his new ones, that his game was strong in its own right. He hadn’t chosen Seirin only for Aomine’s benefit; this was a place that suited him. Seirin was a team that could use and would value the way Tetsuya could make them stronger, far more than Teikou had valued it by the end. And Kagami had potential. He had… light. He might become strong enough to be a real partner to Tetsuya.

Aomine wouldn’t like it, if that happened.

Tetsuya’s eyes narrowed as he pulled his uniform jacket back on. If Aomine didn’t like it, then maybe he’d stop acting like such an ass and act like a partner again.

Yes, this might be a place that suited Tetsuya perfectly.

Last Modified: Sep 17, 13
Posted: Nov 21, 12
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This Moment to Arise – Introductions

Aomine is increasingly annoyed by the attention Kuroko is paying Kagami, and for that matter everyone else on the team, and annoyed by the restraints Aida puts on him, but Kagami does pique his interest a little. Drama, I-3

Daiki had thought he’d gotten used to just how ridiculous it was that Tetsu had dragged him to this no-name school and dropped him into a basketball club that apparently had nothing going for it but enthusiasm. But this was where he put his foot down. The very idea of ‘announcing his intentions’ during morning assembly in order to ‘prove’ himself for this new team was laughable. He was the ace of Teikou, he didn’t have a damn thing to prove to a team that couldn’t even get to the Interhigh.

On the other hand, good entertainment was hard to come by, and he didn’t have any objections to watching other people make fools of themselves, so he’d let Tetsu haul him up to the roof to watch the fun. Watching the other first years was good for a snicker as they stepped up to the rail, one after another, and managed to stammer and shout at the same time. He wondered idly if it would be more of the same when the red-head he’d noticed yesterday stepped up for his turn. He was the only one of the club here that actually looked like he might be worth something on the court, tall and powerful. Good reflexes, too, Daiki thought, watching him jump up to balance on the rail.

And then the guy pulled in a lungful of air and yelled, loud enough that it echoed off the school buildings, “Class 1-B, seat 8, Kagami Taiga! I will defeat the Generation of Miracles and become the number one in Japan!”

That was when it stopped being funny.

That was when Daiki stepped in front of Tetsu, as he stirred toward the edge, stepped up and braced a foot against the rail and leaned out into the morning wind. “I’m Aomine Daiki,” he called over the lines of assembled students. “And I am number one in Japan.” He pushed back and turned on his heel to meet Kagami’s hot eyes. “And if you think you’re good enough, then come on,” he finished.

For a few seconds he thought he might have some light entertainment for the morning, because Kagami looked more than willing, but then the door slammed open and teachers spilled onto the roof. The lecture they made everyone sit for broke the mood. By the time they got to practice that afternoon, he was bored again, and when their little slip of a coach divided the players for a mini-game, he volunteered to be the first-year who sat out.

“Won’t be much use in it, otherwise,” he pointed out, which was only the truth. She’d said she wanted to evaluate the new players. If he was in, the only one she’d see was him.

“We’ll do two games,” she decided. “You’ll sit out the first one. Kagami will sit out the second.”

Annoyance flicked at him again, being equated with that guy, but he shrugged and slid down cross-legged on the side-lines. At least he could watch Tetsu.

It wasn’t long, though, before he was frowning a little. “Tetsu, what the hell?” he muttered as Tetsu went to dribble and promptly had the ball stolen by the second-years’ point guard. Kagami was the only one scoring, and he was pretty much playing solo. The moment the second-years got serious and put three men on marking him, the other two blew past whole rest of the first-year team. Including Tetsu.

He couldn’t actually blame Aida-san that much when she asked Satsuki, “He was a Teikou starter? Really?”

Satsuki gave Tetsu a positively doting look. “Tetsu-kun is so responsible,” she cooed. “You said you wanted to evaluate everyone, Riko-kantoku. Tetsu-kun is a specialist; this isn’t how he normally plays. But he’s showing you everything, so you know.”

“So I know how bad he is at every move?” Aida-san muttered. Before Satsuki could sing more of Tetsu’s praises, though, there was a scuffle on the court where Kagami was yelling at one of the other first-years. Daiki felt a sneaking bit of sympathy, because the other guys were exactly the kind of losers who kept giving up on him. They deserved a bit of yelling.

And then Tetsu stepped up behind Kagami and knocked his knees out, facing the resulting snarling without turning a hair and gesturing back down the court. Daiki sat up straighter, eyes narrowing. He knew that expression on Tetsu’s face. He recognized that action.

Tetsu liked this Kagami guy. He was treating him like a teammate.

And when the first-year team spread back out, Tetsu started passing. He’d obviously been watching everyone, himself, evaluating who could do what, because even with this team of losers he always got the ball to the one who was open enough to gather up his guts for a few seconds and take a shot. As the second-years pulled back from their triple-mark on Kagami, Tetsu shot the ball to him, and in three plays the points were almost level again.

Okay, Kagami wasn’t terrible, Daiki admitted grudgingly. He shouldn’t be mouthing off about beating Teikou’s first string, but he wasn’t bad. That still didn’t give him any right to be getting chummy with Daiki’s partner! He watched like a hawk as Tetsu got the ball for a final play and moved it down the court himself. He couldn’t really be meaning to shoot…

Daiki’s jaw tightened as Kagami started to move.

Tetsu tossed the ball up, with almost as little regard for form as Daiki had, and Daiki gritted his teeth as Kagami dunked it with perfect timing. But, as much as it pissed him off to see satisfaction flicker over Tetsu’s face, there was also a little tingle of excitement. Kagami might just be good enough to be interesting. For a little while, at least. So, while the first-years were cheering over actually winning against their senpai, Daiki went and picked up one of the balls out of the cart, tossing it a little in his hand to get the feel of it.

“Hey, Kagami,” he called, bouncing the ball a few times, and bared his teeth when Kagami turned around. “Let’s see what you’re really made of.”

Kagami’s eyes lit instantly in answer, which was nice. They’d see how long it lasted. Daiki slid down the court, weaving casually around the rest of the bodies on it, too fast for any of them move. Kagami moved, at least, came to meet him with a sharp, sure step that didn’t waver even when Daiki cut around him, past him, leaped to drop the ball in. He looked back, as he landed, to see Kagami frozen and shocked, and sighed. Fuck. Another one. He scooped up the ball on the bounce and turned away, reaching for the familiar blanket of boredom to throw over the disappointment.

“Where the hell do you think you’re going!?”

Daiki blinked and turned back. Kagami was pointing at him, indignant. “Get your ass back here and do that again!”

Daiki blinked some more. “…what, you like losing or something?”

Kagami snorted kind of impressively, folding his arms. “Don’t be an idiot. Do it again, so I can figure out how to beat you.”

Daiki was trying to put words to his feeling that he was not the idiot in this equation, when an earsplitting blast of the whistle made them both wince.

“Aomine-kun!” Aida-kantoku glowered from right next to them. “I told you no full speed plays!”

“That wasn’t full speed!” Daiki protested, stung by the injustice. Not that he’d actually been thinking about her orders at the time, but he still hadn’t broken them!

Everyone fell silent, staring, and Daiki huffed out an annoyed breath; did these people honestly not know what they’d signed up for their own damn club?

“How much of your top speed was that, then?” Aida-san asked at last, quietly, folding her arms.

Daiki considered. “Seventy percent, maybe.” Kagami made an outraged sound, beside him, and Daiki paused to smirk at him. “What was that about beating the Generation of Miracles?” he needled.

“Cut that out, you two,” the coach directed absently. “All right. Don’t go above sixty until I tell you you can. Your style puts even more strain on your body than I’d realized, and we’re going to have to make sure to build up your lateral movement muscles. And you!” she added, turning on Kagami. “Don’t you go along with him like that! You can train together when I say you can!”

“Yes, Kantoku,” Kagami agreed, glumly, giving Daiki a look that said he was pissed off over being held back like that. That he wanted to play again.

Daiki smiled slowly, spinning the ball lightly on his fingers. Lighter than he’d felt for a while, now. “We can take our time, I guess, yeah,” he purred.

Maybe there was some fun to be had, here, after all.

Of course, then she made them play another mini-game with Daiki switched in for Kagami. But at least Tetsu had stopped demonstrating his weaknesses. Daiki didn’t actually object to the chance to show Kagami how a real partnership with Tetsu looked, and even holding down his speed to sixty percent the ball sang between them and scorched down the court. The second-years weren’t total slouches, either. They gave up on defense after about four minutes of total disbelief and concentrated on offense to even the score.

And they were staying close, because Tetsu kept passing to the other first years. Daiki finally straightened up from blocking yet another shot from Hyuuga-san, who really was a pretty good outside shooter, and jammed his hands on his hips. “Tetsu, what the hell are you doing?”

Tetsu got the set to his jaw that meant he was feeling stubborn. “This isn’t a tournament match, Aomine-kun. It’s practice. It’s training.”

Daiki ran an unimpressed eye over their panting ‘teammates’. “You telling me you think you can train them up to win with a few passes? Don’t be ridiculous, Tetsu. You’re a shadow. You make any player stronger, yeah, but your own strength depends on the strength of your light.” Quieter, he finished, “No one else here can make you stronger than me. There’s no one here you can make shine brighter than me.”

Tetsu looked deliberately over at Kagami, fidgeting on the sidelines. “I think there is.”

It took Daiki a few seconds to put his jaw back where it belonged. “What the fuck, are you serious?” Tetsu’s eyes narrowed, and Daiki rocked back a step. Tetsu really was serious. “Tetsu…”

“Why should I settle for being the shadow of someone who’s given up, Aomine-kun?” Tetsu asked, low enough that Daiki didn’t think anyone else heard.

Daiki set his own teeth and spun back to the game. He knew Tetsu was right, in absolute terms. But what else was he supposed to do?!

They won the game, just like they always won, no matter what else happened. And the stunned look on Kagami’s face was satisfying. But the walk home that night was almost as silent as they’d been yesterday. And when Daiki came in to his classroom the next morning and saw everyone at the windows, chattering, and looked out to see what was written on the assembly ground in boundary chalk, he knew who had put it there.

My strength will make my team number one.

Satsuki slipped up beside him and leaned against his arm. “You know, Tetsu-kun has a point. He’s as strong as any of you, in his own way. He deserves a partner who will work for his game.”

Daiki turned away sharply from the window. He didn’t go to practice that day, either, retreating up to the roof instead, to think. Tetsu had caught him in the trap of this school, this team. If Daiki didn’t work hard enough for him, and maybe for the coach, Daiki wouldn’t be able to play. Even if he could, he’d still have to watch Tetsu working with Kagami unless he agreed to keep hoping, keep pushing for nothing. And he couldn’t do that any more. Part of him wanted to say fuck it all and just let the game go; it usually only hurt, these days, going out to play and having every opponent give up and turn away. But…

Well. There was still that ‘but’.

And there was Kagami himself.

And there was Tetsu.

Daiki rolled over onto his stomach, chin on his crossed arms, and sighed. No. He knew he wouldn’t actually leave. He supposed he’d just have to hang in there until he could play a team one of the others had gone to. That thought was a pleasant one, and he smiled, contemplating it until he dozed off in the spring sunlight.

Last Modified: Sep 17, 13
Posted: Nov 28, 12
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This Moment to Arise – Clarifications

Kagami is pleased with his new team and his new challenge, though puzzled by the tension between Kuroko and Aomine. A practice match against Kaijou tells him at least a little of what the tension is over, and also gives him his first taste of working with Kuroko in a real game. Drama, I-3

Taiga swatted his alarm clock into silence, rolled over, and smiled up at the ceiling. He woke up with a smile a lot, lately.

Okay, so his strongest teammate was a total jerk, and he honestly thought Kuroko liked scaring the liver out of people by popping up out of nowhere, and their coach was clearly some kind of demon. He could deal with all of that and more, because basketball was interesting again. A challenge again, and more than a challenge. A bone-cracking, tendon-snapping, nerve-burning hurdle to get over, like it hadn’t been for over a year since he came back to this country.

Aomine said he was the best, but Kuroko said the rest of them weren’t actually much weaker. And a few of them were in nearby schools. Taiga couldn’t wait for the tournaments to start.

And in the meantime, there was Aomine, who might be a deadbeat when he was sulking but was like fire on the court when he did show up. And he was training often enough that Kantoku was starting to let the two of them play opposite each other in the club’s practice games. Taiga sometimes caught himself humming as he put together his dinner bento, for evening practice. Aomine was impossible. The shots he could make were insane; it was like the ball and the basket were his two hands and he brought them together easy as that.

But, then, most of the team already said Taiga’s own jumps were impossible. And he was pushing his height further and further because it was the one advantage he had on Aomine. So Taiga didn’t pay much attention to what was possible or not, only to what he saw in front of him. Right now, that was Aomine.

Aomine… and Kuroko.

Taiga wasn’t always sure what to make of Kuroko. He thought about it today, on his way to school, hands stuffed in his pockets, looking out over a landscape of the tops of people’s heads. In his own way, Kuroko was almost as impossible as Aomine. The things he could do with the ball, the way he could move over the court unseen, straight through any defense, the way he always, always knew who was open and where… it was amazing. When Aomine and Kuroko played together in a practice game, they went through the other side like it wasn’t even there. Even, Taiga admitted, through him, because the speed and precision of their combination was frankly appalling. It was going to be an incredible weapon for Seirin, when the tournaments started.

But Kuroko refused to play with Aomine like that very often. He kept passing to other team members, deferring to Izuki-senpai’s plays, concentrating his passes on Taiga himself, if anyone. And when Taiga asked why, all he would say was that his game with Taiga could become stronger than his game with Aomine, and the way Aomine responded if he heard that tended to distract Taiga. The one time he had tried to press for more detail, the teacher had yelled at him for talking during class—at him, but not at Kuroko, because life with Kuroko was just like that.

Eventually Taiga intended to find out why Kuroko kept setting him and Aomine against each other. In the meantime, though, there were other things to think about. Things like failing English class, because the things they tried to teach here were utterly ridiculous and nonsensical. Things like hanging on to the counter during the rush at the cafeteria long enough to get a decent sized lunch, because he swore no one in this country ate enough to keep a squirrel alive. Things like defending his dinner from Aomine.

That last one was giving him some trouble.

Taiga slapped Aomine’s thieving fingers away from his box of stir-fry and slid further down the bench. Of course, that just gave Aomine a chance to try to snag one of the sandwiches out of the stack on Taiga’s other side; the man really was unfairly fast. Taiga swallowed and growled at his teammate. “What is with you? Bring your own damn dinner!”

“My cooking sucks,” Aomine said easily, eyeing Taiga’s other box, the one with the cookies, greedily. “So does Satsuki’s. And Kaa-san’s way too busy.”

Taiga pinned down his cookies under his toe, glaring. “So go snitch from Mitobe-senpai!”

From his seat against the stage, carefully out of reach, Mitobe-senpai gave them both a reproachful look.

“That’s not a very respectful thing to suggest, Kagami-kun,” Kuroko murmured from where he sat on the edge of the stage, finishing a can of Pocari and watching. And laughing at them from behind that straight face, Taiga swore.

“See? Even Tetsu agrees.” Aomine feinted for the sandwiches again and got a foot around the cookie box when Taiga shifted his weight, smirking with his success. Taiga decided finishing the rest of his food was more important than defending his dessert, and hurried up. If he finished fast enough, he’d damn well tackle Aomine and wrestle him for the damn cookies.

“Don’t you think you should stop them before Kagami chokes on his food some night?” Izuki-senpai asked Hyuuga-senpai in an undertone.

Their captain shrugged with perfect fatalism. “Kantoku thinks it’s good training for Kagami’s speed, to play keep-away with Aomine. I don’t argue with her about training.”

Izuki-senpai looked torn between amusement and worry, but he didn’t argue either. Taiga growled under his breath, biting into his last sandwich ferociously. Fine, then. If he had to teach Aomine some manners on his own, he’d do it.


“We’ll just come with you for your snack after practice,” Momoi offered, leaning on his shoulder and plucking the now empty cookie box out of Aomine’s grip. “And you can make Aomine-kun buy you dessert then.”

“He can what?” Aomine asked, brows going up.

“That sounds fair,” Kuroko put in, and calmly ignored Aomine’s protests. At least he ragged on them both equally, Taiga reflected.

“As long as there are absolutely no full-speed one-on-ones after,” Kantoku specified, looming suddenly behind them. “I’m relying on you, Satsuki-chan.”

Momoi pursed her lips dubiously. “I’ll do my best, Riko-kantoku, but these two…”

Kantoku sighed. “At least you can report it.” She glared down at them forbiddingly. “And then I can take it out of their hides.”

Taiga exchanged a look with Aomine, for once in perfect agreement. “After we eat,” Taiga muttered, as Aida-san moved off with Momoi, talking about individual training for the second-years.

“You’re on.” Aomine’s smirk was annoyingly lazy and casual, but he’d never once turned Taiga down.

“You really are going to get in trouble with the coach,” Kuroko noted, but not as if he expected that to stop them. Just an observation.

The weird part was, that seemed to be as good as a flat no to Aomine. “Oh come on, Tetsu,” he groaned, flopping back to sprawl on the floor. “I’m going to die of boredom if I don’t get to do something besides drills.”

“Kantoku is right about needing to be back in condition before you push harder than you have been,” Kuroko told him, even and relentless, and Aomine hauled himself upright to slump against the bench scowling.

“Like I’ll have to push harder.”

“You will in matches. That’s why you agreed to Seirin.”

Aomine hesitated at that, and finally sighed extravagantly. “Oh fine.” He glanced up at Taiga and waved a hand at Kuroko. “Argue with him about it.”

Of course, Taiga didn’t. One, because it was time to get back to practice, and two, because he was still trying to figure out what was going on with Aomine and Kuroko. Aomine listened to Kuroko like he didn’t to anyone else, up to and including the coach and captain. But there was something else Kuroko wanted, and Taiga could only think it was that something that kept Kuroko turning toward him instead of Aomine. He just had no fucking clue what it was.

He didn’t have much time tonight to think about it, either, because Kantoku put Aomine on the opposite side of the practice game from Taiga and Kuroko, and Taiga still had to fight to get passes to and from Kuroko without Aomine being right there in the way. It was annoying as all hell.

Aomine was annoying as hell about it, too. “Are you guys done yet?” he asked, smirking over the ball cradled easily in his grip halfway to Taiga’s hands.

“No,” Taiga snapped and jerked his head at Kuroko, holding up his hand. They’d find a way around Aomine, because this was exactly the caliber of player who was waiting for the team at the tournaments. Kuroko nodded back firmly, shoulders settling out of the tense line they always seemed to get when Aomine was on the other side.

It really did make Taiga wonder. If Kuroko got this tense about being separated from his old partner, why did he seem so bound and determined to make a new one out of Taiga?

There had to be something he was missing.

When the coach had said she’d gotten them a practice match with one of the other schools that had taken in one of the Generation of Miracles, Taiga had been excited. But he had to say, his first look at Kise Ryouta was not impressing him.

“Kise,” Aomine groaned, hand over his eyes, “will you get rid of your damn fangirls?” Once Kise had finished smiling and apologizing and generally dumping pretty-boy charm all over the landscape, and all the squealing girls had been herded out, he added, “What are you doing here, anyway?”

“I heard we’d be having a practice match with Seirin, and I thought I remembered this was where you and Kurokocchi came, so I had to come say hello didn’t I?”

“Hello, then,” Kuroko said from behind two of the second-years, making them jump and yelp. “But if that was all, then we should get back to practice.”

Okay, Taiga decided, as Kise downright pouted, Kuroko just liked to wind everyone up, is what it was.

“Kurokocchi is so mean, and after I was the one closest to you at Teikou, too!” Kise actually had tears in his eyes, and Kagami was starting to wonder if this guy was for real.

“I don’t remember that,” Kuroko said thoughtfully, and Aomine rolled his eyes.

“Do the comedy routine on your own time, you two. Seriously, Kise, why are you here?”

Kise’s overdone mournfulness evaporated, and his eyes glinted at Aomine. “I just wanted to make sure you were ready to be playing on opposing teams, Aominecchi.”

Aomine bared his teeth, shedding his usual lazy slouch as fast and completely as Kise had wiped away those fake tears, and something in Taiga leaped up like a fire catching. That. That look was the one he wanted to see in Aomine’s eyes, when they played.

Which was when he realized that neither Aomine nor Kise was paying any attention at all to the rest of the team.

“Ki-chan!” Momoi appeared in the doors of the gym, bags of drinks swinging from her fingers, laughing. “Tell me you didn’t come all the way up here to challenge Aomine-kun! The match is already set up, you know, you’ll play him soon enough.”

“Momocchi!” Kise brightened up and laughed along with her. “I just wanted to make sure I remembered right, that this was Aominecchi’s school!” He paused, looking back and forth between Kuroko and Momoi. “Wait a minute… Momocchi too? That’s no fair!” He crossed his arms and huffed at Aomine. “You should give us Kurokocchi, then.”

“Dream on,” Aomine told him dryly. “He’s not going anywhere.”

“That isn’t actually up to either of you,” Kuroko pointed out, and the flickers of guilt and something like panic on both Aomine’s and Kise’s faces almost made Taiga laugh.

Almost. Because watching the four of them, it was blindingly clear that they were still a team. Even broken up and competing as opponents, they still acted like a team—thoughtlessly close and knowing each other like right and left hand. Even Kuroko, who was standing a little back from the other three.

Fuck that. Aomine and Kuroko, and Momoi too, were part of Seirin now. They were Taiga’s team. He scooped up the ball he’d been drilling with, strolling into Kise’s peripheral vision, and heaved it straight for him, fast and hard as if it was a pass he was trying to get past Aomine.

Kise’s head whipped around and his hand came up to catch the ball, eyes wide and startled. “What was that for?” he asked, on a breath of a surprised laugh.

“Kind of doubt Kantoku will let you have Aomine, today,” Taiga told him, strolling closer, close enough to break the group as Kuroko stepped back further and Momoi rolled her eyes and hopped up onto the stage, off the court. “So let’s make sure you didn’t waste your time. Play me.”

“Kagami,” Aomine growled, truly pissed off if Taiga was any judge. He just raised his brows and jerked a thumb at the coach, who was tapping her foot and glaring at all of them.

“Fine,” Aomine snarled after a steaming moment. “Get your ass kicked. Maybe it’ll finally teach you something.” He whirled and stalked out of the way.

“Well.” Kise blinked after him before turning a sharp smile on Taiga. “Just a point or two couldn’t hurt.” He shrugged out of his uniform jacket, ball passing lightly from hand to hand as he did, never leaving his possession. Taiga smirked, pleased, and felt for his footing against the polished court.

Taiga was prepared for the speed, after playing with and against Aomine. He was even prepared for the pure assurance of Kise’s moves, the easy, natural grace. What blew him back was the sudden mirror of his own moves, the cut and turn that made his muscles stutter because they knew that shape and this was the wrong end of it. He stared up at Kise from flat on his ass on the court, and just had to laugh, leaning back on his palms. They were obviously all monsters, all of Teikou’s starters.


“Do that again,” he grinned, hauling himself to his feet.

Kise gave him a startled look that turned thoughtful as he glanced over at Aomine, simmering on the sidelines. “Maybe I see why Kurokocchi brought him here, after all.” He spread his feet, balanced on his toes, and gave Taiga back his grin. “Maybe a few more, then.”

“No more,” Momoi declared, jumping down lightly to step between them, palms held out. “You’ve had your look, Ki-chan. I’m not letting you take more of a handicap than that.”

“But…!” Taiga started to protest, running together with Kise’s, “Aw, Momocchi…” She shook her head firmly, looking past them to speak to the coach.

“No more. Letting Ki-chan see more of Kagami-kun would be dangerous.”

Kantoku nodded slowly. “I remember what you said. All right, then.” She stepped forward, gesturing Taiga back. “We’ll see you next week, Kise-kun.”

Kise sighed mournfully. “Yes, ma’am.” He paused to stick out his tongue at Momoi, and collected his jacket to toss over his shoulder on his way out. “I’ll look forward to it, Aominecchi!” floated back as the doors closed behind him.

“Mm,” Aomine grunted in answer. He was looking at Taiga, not his ex-teammate.

“What?” Taiga prodded. Aomine would brood on shit for days if you let him.

“You’re getting better,” was the startling answer. Aomine stood up and stretched. “A little.” And in a flash, he was across the court, blowing past Taiga and stealing the ball. Pure reflex spun Taiga around to follow his cut, and he leaped to block the shot he knew was coming. Aomine’s teeth were bared as he slung the ball around at a crazy angle and made the shot as surely as always. “A little,” he said again, as the coach yelled at them to knock it off and get back to their drills. “Just not enough.” He turned away to pick up the ball again, and Taiga turned to see Kuroko watching them with something dark in his eyes.

The more he saw of the Generation of Miracles, the more Taiga wondered what the hell had happened to all of them.

The practice match against Kaijou ran into trouble as soon as they’d all gotten changed. Taiga couldn’t say he was all that surprised.

“All right,” Aomine said, dropping his bag behind the bench and turning toward the court with a gleam in his eye, “let’s get this show on the hghk!”

Their coach had reached up for a grip on the back of his shirt and expertly yanked him down onto the bench. “Not you. You’re sitting this one out.”

He surged back up to his feet, towering over her. “What?!”

“You’ve missed almost a week’s worth of practice in the past month,” she snapped back, hands on her hips, perfectly uncowed. “You know the rules. You don’t practice, you don’t play.”

Kuroko’s voice cut over the start of his protest, cool and level. “Good.”

Aomine whipped around to stare at him. “Tetsu? What the hell?”

Kuroko looked up at him, and suddenly there was an edge on the usual calm of his expression. “All you’re interested in, here, is Kise-kun. If that’s the case, you might as well just ask him for a one-on-one match later, and leave the team out of it. That was what you were going to do anyway, isn’t it?”

Taiga found himself edging back, along with everyone else, shocked by actually seeing Kuroko angry, no matter how quietly. And… his voice was quiet, yeah, but also hard. Even Aomine seemed startled, staring at Kuroko with his hands loose at his sides.

“You heard what the captain said, the first day,” Kuroko went on. “If you want to play in matches with the team, then you have to be part of the team. If you can’t do that, then you might as well leave the game!” He gestured sharply at the club members around them. “I’m glad Seirin is this way. Akashi-kun and our old coach spoiled you, Aomine-kun. They let you turn your game into something that isn’t basketball any longer.” He jerked his wrist-warmers into place, motions sharp, and turned away. “If you want to remember what it is, what it was, then sit down and watch.”

Taiga watched Kuroko stalk onto the court, and Hyuuga-senpai going after him to catch his shoulder with a few low words about keeping his temper. Kuroko ducked his head, apologetic, back to being as deferential as usual to their senpai. The rest of the starting team looked at each other and shrugged, and followed them out.

And Aomine slowly sank back down to the bench, eyes still wide, looking like he’d been sucker-punched.

Taiga glanced over at Momoi, questioning, only to find her biting her lip, brows knitted with concentration like she was watching the team practice some really difficult play. When she saw him looking, though, she just shook her head, shooing him out to the court.

Once again, Taiga wondered exactly what had happened to them all.

“Kagami-kun,” Kuroko said softly, as Taiga came up beside him, “will you help me? Without Aomine-kun, there’s no one on the team who can beat Kise-kun alone. But you and I might do it together.” When he looked up, there was something burning in his eyes. Something Taiga recognized, and he grinned back.

“Let’s do it.”

Kuroko smiled just a little.

“What was that all about, Kurokocchi?” Kise asked, slipping across the center.

“Something I would have said a year ago, if I thought Akashi-kun would let me,” Kuroko said levelly.

Kise quailed back, hands lifted. “Don’t involve me if you’re getting into another argument with the captain!”

“Which captain was that?” Kasamatsu asked dryly from behind Kise’s shoulder, and, while Kise was stammering, turned him back toward his own team and hurried him on his way with a very literal kick in the butt.

“I’m glad Kise-kun found a team he can get along so well with,” Kuroko said, to all appearances perfectly serious.

They were all crazy. Every. Single. One.

But being crazy didn’t stop Kise from being crazy-good, and Kaijou matched them speed for speed right from tip-off. Within the first few minutes, Taiga thought he might be going to give himself a headache trying to keep one eye on Kise and one on Kuroko. Kise wasn’t like Aomine, he didn’t seem to feel in his bones where Kuroko’s passes would be, but he was fast and powerful and every move Taiga threw at him was thrown back with bruising force. Keeping track of Kuroko so they could actually get the ball to one another was an edge of concentration Taiga couldn’t afford to take away from Kise.

Kuroko knew it too. After the third ball they lost, just when Taiga swore he was starting to feel his jersey singe from the force of Aomine’s mounting glare, Kuroko touched his arm. “Don’t look for me,” he said quietly. “Can you do that? Don’t watch for me. Just go. I’ll be there.”

Taiga sucked in a quick breath. The thought made his spine crinkle; it would be almost like playing blind. And… he’d have to trust Kuroko blindly too. But Kuroko’s gaze on his, perfectly steady, perfectly calm, still had that will and determination to win burning behind it.

That, Taiga could trust.

“Okay.” He nodded shortly, turning to focus on Kise and nothing else. And it was weird. He’d have expected to have to fight to even remember Kuroko was on the court with him. But every time he needed to pass the ball, or found a place to break past Kaijou, Kuroko was right there in of the corner of his eye. Again and again, Kuroko was there.

He was also paying for it, running with sweat, breath rasping in his throat. “Can you keep this up?” Taiga asked as the first quarter ended, frowning a little.

“I can keep it up for as long as I’ll be effective,” Kuroko gasped, swiping away the sweat running down his jaw with the back of his wrist. “Just go.”

This time, the words put a different kind of shiver down Taiga’s spine, a feeling more like awe. He knew Kuroko was hopelessly weak outside his specialization, but he couldn’t listen to Kuroko, couldn’t look at him, and think his determination was pointless or futile. So, as the second quarter got started, Taiga took a deep breath and didn’t hold back.

Kuroko was paying hard to keep up. But he was also smiling just a little.

By the time they hit the middle of the second quarter, and Kantoku signaled for a player change, as planned, Kuroko was swaying a little on his feet. His grip on Taiga’s arm was hard, though. “Don’t let them get too far ahead,” he gasped.

“Obviously,” Taiga snapped, irritated, glaring down at him. And then he let out his breath and pushed Kuroko toward the sidelines where Koganei-senpai was waiting. “Now it’s your turn. Just go.”

Kuroko blinked up at him for a moment before it seemed to click, and a real smiled flashed over his face for a breath. “All right.”

Kagami watched him off, where the coach pushed him down onto the bench and dropped a towel on his head, crouching down to work on his legs. He watched Aomine watching Kuroko with one of the strangest expressions Taiga had ever seen—pissed off and somehow lost at the same time. He watched until Momoi stepped up to the sideline and signaled him sharply to pay attention to the game, and then he shook himself, getting ready to block Kise as completely as he could.

It was ridiculous to feel a little lost, himself, just because Kuroko wasn’t beside him.

Taiga took a couple deep breaths and sank himself back into the game, into the place where ‘speed’ and ‘power’ had no meaning. The only thing with meaning, there, was ‘more’. His more wasn’t enough yet; he couldn’t keep up with Kise, not all the way. Couldn’t stop him every time. Couldn’t take his attention off Kise to help with the rest of the team. Couldn’t pay attention to the score, only hope that his senpai could stop the rest of Kaijou. Half time barely registered with him except as a blur of cool water and Momoi’s quiet voice talking to Izuki-senpai about how to get past Kasamatsu.

When they got to the fourth quarter, though, they were only eleven points down. There was a glint in Kuroko’s eyes when he joined Taiga on the court again, and both Kantoku and Momoi were grinning like sharks beside the bench. “Ready to go?” Taiga asked him, gulping air.

“Of course.” In fact, Kuroko looked annoyingly cool and composed, and he eyed Taiga up and down, critically. “Are you?”

“Hey,” Taiga growled, and then rolled his eyes when he caught the faint curl at the corners of Kuroko’s mouth. “You’re just as much of a jerk as Aomine is sometimes, you know that?” He straightened up and swiped his hair back off his forehead. “And what did I tell you earlier?”

Kuroko looked up at him and nodded.

Just go.

Taiga sucked in another breath and took hold of the thought, sinking himself into it like he sank himself into the game, letting go of all the rest. Kuroko would be there. He believed it.

Their first play blazed past Kise.

When the throw-in hit Kise’s hands, he blew back through them like they weren’t even there, every movement sharp as a knife, and there was a look in his eyes Taiga was more used to seeing in the mirror.

“Right.” Taiga rolled his shoulders and jerked his head at Kuroko. “If that’s how we’re doing it, let’s go.”

The last quarter was a crazy back-and-forth scramble of offense, of fighting against the weight of Kise’s focus, and Taiga knew he was only keeping up because Kuroko was with him, because half their plays were something even Kise couldn’t grasp and copy. And even so, they were barely keeping up, and the score was always on the ragged edge of dropping them down too far to get back. Taiga felt the air of the court against his bared teeth.

He loved it.

He didn’t know if Kuroko did. Kuroko didn’t laugh with him; his face was quiet and intent the whole time. But that was okay. He was there, always there, perfectly in place to catch the bounce of Taiga’s passes and send them scorching back, edging Seirin’s score up and up, and that was enough.

Kise kept pushing, though, always meeting every drive Taiga made, always passing him, and the last minutes were ticking down. There had to be something Kise couldn’t just turn back on him!

“Kagami-kun.” He’d gotten so used to knowing Kuroko would be with him that this time he didn’t jump, even when he hadn’t actually seen him. “There’s one thing Kise-kun won’t ever be able to return.” He looked up at Taiga, measuring. “A buzzer-beater.”

“Mm. We’d have to fake him out somehow, and he’s getting better at predicting me.”

Kuroko nodded, matter-of-fact. “We can do that. You already know my timing, for it. You got it the first time we played.”

Taiga’s lips slowly drew back off his teeth again.

And when they got to the basket, it worked. Kise obviously knew exactly how bad a shot Kuroko was and turned toward Taiga, only to whip back in shock when Kuroko tossed the ball up in a gentle, completely inaccurate, curve. Kuroko was right, too; Taiga knew just when he had to go up to complete the shot. It was like the flip side of knowing Kuroko would be there for him on a drive. He slammed the ball in and the whistle blew as his feet found the floor again.

They’d won.

Taiga laughed and reached out to slap palms with Kuroko. They’d done it! This time, Kuroko’s steady concentration brightened into a real smile and his hand met Taiga’s firmly.

That smile stayed with Taiga for a while. So did the absolute stillness of Aomine’s face when the team came off the court. For a moment, he wondered whether this was the answer to what had happened to them. But it couldn’t be; he’d seen Aomine and Kuroko play together, and Aomine still had that perfect awareness of where Kuroko would be, the trust that he’d be there, the belief in Kuroko that let him just go without holding back or thinking about his partner.

Didn’t he?

Last Modified: Sep 17, 13
Posted: Dec 05, 12
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This Moment to Arise – Preparations

Momoi knows that the problems between Aomine and Kuroko and Kagami have to be ironed out before they start the Interhigh preliminaries, and she has a plan. That doesn’t make it easy, though. Drama, Angst, I-3

Momoi Satsuki liked Seirin. They were a challenge, and she liked a challenge to her skills just as much as any of the boys did. Seirin had a coach she could talk with about skin care and cute mascot animals, and Riko-san blushed kind of adorably whenever Satsuki teased her over the captain. (Who totally was her boyfriend, even if neither of them admitted it.) And their captain paid close attention to her, listened to her analysis of what teams were strongest, asked her to scout upcoming competition.

The results of her first scouting expedition after she’d gotten ahold of the Tokyo preliminary bracket, had made him look pained. Her tentative solution had made him look downright dyspeptic. He’d agreed to her plan, though, and she liked the feeling of that trust.

“Gather up!” Hyuuga-san called across the gym, as the club filtered in from the locker room. “Briefing time for the Interhigh preliminaries!”

All the boys perked up and promptly gathered around, watching her attentively, and Satsuki sparkled at them just a little, enjoying the thread of excitement and tension in the air. It was the start of tournament season, and Seirin was about to put her analysis and their skills to the test. “The preliminary bracket is oddly shaped for us, this year,” she started, tapping a finger on the edge of her clipboard. “For the most part, we shouldn’t have trouble until we get to the final match of our block, where we’ll most likely face Shinsenkan. Our very first match, though, has something unexpected.” She turned the board around to show them her stats sheet on Shinkyou’s new player. “Shinkyou has a foreign student playing this season. Papa Mbaye Siki of Senegal.”

There was a moment of silence.

“…Momoi-chan, are those figures real?” Koganei-senpai finally asked weakly.

“Two hundred centimeters,” she confirmed. “His arms add almost another meter.”

“He won’t even have to jump for the basket,” Izuki-senpai said, appalled.

“Which is why Mitobe-san will be the key of the defense,” Satsuki agreed, and smiled a little as all the second-years relaxed. She liked this about Seirin, too, that they knew each other’s strengths and trusted each other so well. “If he manages to break away from Mitobe-san, the second line of defense will be Kagami-kun, to block the shot, or Aomine-kun to steal the ball. Be ready, you two.”

Those two exchanged curled lips over Tetsu-kun’s head and Satsuki exchanged a resigned look with Riko-kantoku. They’d talked about the edginess between Kagamin and Dai-chan, and about how to bring the boys around. Riko-kantoku had made even worse faces than Hyuuga-san over Satsuki’s plan, but in the end she’d agreed also. It was Satsuki, after all, who knew Dai-chan and Tetsu-kun the best, and could project their responses most accurately.

The trust warmed her, but the responsibility made adrenaline tingle through her veins.

“Offense will actually have much the same problem,” she went on. “Siki-san is tall enough to block many of Aomine-kun’s shots, and even Hyuuga-san’s, and catch Kagami-kun’s dunks if he just stays under the basket. We have to count on Shikyou’s coach and captain spotting that. So!” She clasped her board to her chest and smiled sweetly at Kagamin and Dai-chan. “The two of you will need to work as a pair. Whoever doesn’t have the ball will need to screen whoever does and keep Siki-san away from the basket. Let Tetsu-kun decide who takes the ball,” she added warningly as Kagamin and Dai-chan eyed each other with an instant flare of competitiveness. She swore it was spinal reflex for both of them. “He has a better sense of the flow of the game than either of you will probably ever have.”

Tetsu-kun nodded calm agreement, completely ignoring the way both his current partners shifted their glowers to him. Satsuki stifled a sigh. She couldn’t exactly blame Tetsu-kun for using Kagamin to make Dai-chan jealous. It seemed to be the only way to get Dai-chan’s attention at all, lately. But the unspoken competition over Tetsu-kun was starting to get serious. It had been heating up ever since the Kaijou game, when Tetsu-kun had come off the court with that little smile on his face, head cocked up to listen to Kagamin with the tolerant affection Tetsu-kun always showed his partners—and no one but his partners. He didn’t look like that at anyone who didn’t understand and value his style, who couldn’t play with him. By that measure, Kagamin was overtaking Dai-chan fast, and Satsuki thought Dai-chan knew it even if Kagamin maybe didn’t quite yet. He’d certainly noticed the fresh edge on Dai-chan’s jibes at him, though. The tension was starting to interfere with their play.

Which was why the next thing she said was, “In order to help the two of you work as a team, you’re going to be spending time together outside training. You’ll go for late dinner together every night after practice, from now on, along with Tetsu-kun and me.”


Satsuki wondered ruefully if she should consider it progress that they yelped that in perfect unison.

“I am damn well not—” Dai-chan started, heatedly, and Satsuki gave him her sweetest smile and cut him off.

Dai-chan,” she lilted, and he shut up at once, eyeing her warily. He knew what that tone meant, and had ever since they were seven and she’d hit him over the head with a toy train when he wouldn’t stop stealing her barrettes.

“We don’t really need…” Kagamin tried in turn, looking appealingly at Riko-kantoku. She gave him a gleaming smile back.

“Quadruple drills?” she suggested, and Kagamin gulped and shut up too.

Satsuki wasn’t particularly surprised, though, that that evening’s Battle of the Bento was especially fierce. Dai-chan came away with skinned knuckles but also with three of Kagamin’s meatballs while Kagamin clutched the remainder to his chest and held his chopsticks like he’d stab the next hand that came close. She’d have to remember to make Dai-chan buy Kagamin an extra hamburger tonight.

Tetsu-kun nibbled on the last of his vegetables and watched Dai-chan smirk over his spoils with a distance in his eyes that Satsuki didn’t like. They weren’t doing this a moment too soon. In fact, she was starting to hope they weren’t too late. If Tetsu-kun ever really did turn away from Dai-chan to partner with Kagamin alone, she didn’t want to think what that would do to Dai-chan.

Or to Tetsu-kun.

Dai-chan leaned his chin in his hands, watching with some fascination as Kagamin decimated a tray full of hamburgers. “How have you not exploded yet, seriously?” He reached over to poke at Kagamin’s stomach, and Satsuki slapped his hand.

“Be nice,” she ordered sternly. “This is a team bonding exercise. Besides, it’s your fault if Kagamin is extra hungry tonight.”

“I’ve always stolen my teammates food,” Dai-chan defended himself. “So if the point is team bonding then you shouldn’t stop me.”

“The point is for you and Kagami-kun to work together and support each other,” Tetsu-kun put in while Satsuki was making frustrated sounds over Dai-chan’s personal version of logic. “Maybe you should just ask if Kagami-kun will make extra for you.”

Kagamin paused in the process of inhaling another burger and glared at both Tetsu-kun and Dai-chan. “Like hell I will.”

Dai-chan leaned back in his chair, hooking an arm over the back, mouth twisted in a sardonic smile. “Yeah, seriously Tetsu, that was kind of obvious.”

Tetsu-kun took another sip of the shake he’d been working on, eyes level on Dai-chan, and Satsuki winced. She’d seen that look too often in the past week, and it wasn’t one Tetsu-kun gave people he was happy with.

“Then it looks like the way you usually act with teammates doesn’t work very well.”

Dai-chan’s face darkened. “Tetsu…”

“Stop,” Satsuki said flatly, and sighed when all three of them looked at her. This was exactly why she’d made sure Tetsu-kun came along; they needed to get all the problems out in the open before they blew up, and these problems were rooted too far in the past for their new captain or coach to deal with easily. So it was down to her. “Tetsu-kun. I know you’re angry over what happened last year. You have a right to be. But it’s affecting your teamwork with Dai-chan badly enough that I’m not sure we can actually put the two of you in as partners in a demanding game. Is that what you want?” She clasped her hands tight, under the table, hoping the answer was still ‘no’.

“Oh for god’s sake, Tetsu,” Dai-chan exploded before Tetsu-kun could answer. “I told you, didn’t I? Yes, you’re right! You’re the one in the right! But I can’t do it, I can’t play all out, not when it just makes people give up!” He jerked his head away to scowl out the window.

“Then don’t,” Tetsu-kun told him, soft and harsh. “If you want to break your own game, fine. Do it. But don’t break mine!”

Satsuki was biting her lip hard, fingers wound white-knuckled around each other; she’d seen the problem and she’d brought them here, and now the very most she could do to help was to nudge them. The rest, they had to do for themselves. It was the one thing she hated about her own speciality. “Is that why you’ve been working more with Kagamin, Tetsu-kun?”

“Of course.” Tetsu-kun set his cup down and sat back with sharp, precise movements. “Kagami-kun trusts me. Aomine-kun doesn’t.”

Dai-chan jerked back at that, eyes wide, and whatever he’d been about to say cut off. Kagamin made a startled sound, one hand full of hamburger still halfway to his mouth where he’d stopped short to stare at the sudden argument.

“What… what do you mean I don’t trust you?” Dai-chan asked, half laughing and unsettled. “You’re my shadow, of course I trust you. Our combination is still tighter than what you have with Kagami.”

“That’s practice, not trust,” Tetsu-kun said sharply. “You play on your own and just assume I’ll follow, if you think about it at all. You don’t care any more what choices I might make for the game. If we were in a tight situation again, you’d do what you did last year and keep the ball yourself instead of trusting me with it.”

“So you’d rather play with him?” Dai-chan demanded, pointing at Kagamin, who was watching them intently, now, like they were a question he couldn’t quite remember the answer to. “If I’m not trusting you enough, then he’s leaning on you too much! He won’t be able to advance, that way, and then where are you? You’re a shadow, Tetsu; to be strong you need a strong light. He won’t make you strong enough!”

Finally, Kagamin spoke up. “Don’t go making decisions for other people. How strong I can get is up to me. And how strong Kuroko can get is up to him.” He finished off his burger and folded his arms, eyeing them.

Tetsu-kun’s shoulders fell a little out of their fiercely straight line. “That’s why,” he said quietly, looking up at Dai-chan. “Didn’t you think that, too, when you told me I should stay in the club, in middle school?” He looked down at the table, jaw tight. “I want my partner back, Aomine-kun. But I’m your partner, not your equipment.”

Dai-chan opened his mouth and closed it again, eyes dark. Finally, he pushed up from the table and stalked out the doors, head down.

“You okay with just letting him go?” Kagamin asked, dubious.

Satsuki had to take a deep breath to keep her voice from shaking, but she was smiling. “Yes. I think so. When Dai-chan stalks off in a huff like that, it usually means you got him to think and now he wants to do it in private.”

“Hm.” Kagamin made another burger disappear. “Seems like it’s their teamwork you want to work on, not his and mine.”

Satsuki pulled herself together and shook a finger at him. “We’ll get to yours, don’t worry. The two of you really do need to figure out how to work together, or what use is it to the team to have both of you around?” She shot a look at Tetsu-kun, who was staring at his half-melted shake and not drinking. “But it’s true that a lot of the problems between you come out of the problems between Tetsu-kun and Dai-chan.”

Tetsu-kun looked up at her, brows pinched in a little, and she reached over to rest her hand on his. “I think he heard you, this time, Tetsu-kun. It’ll be all right.”

Kagamin snorted, standing up with his empty tray. "So that’s why you’ve been pushing us against each other." He looked down at Tetsu-kun, steadily. "You could have just said so, instead of hoping I’d rub off on him or something." He went back to the counter for another five burgers while Tetsu-kun winced faintly.

When he came back, he dumped a fresh shake in front of Tetsu-kun and wouldn’t look at either of them while he finished off the rest of his snack. Tetsu-kun watched him for a long moment, eyes just that bit wider than usual that meant he was startled, and finally took the shake. "Thank you," he said, low, sipping quietly.

"Mm," Kagami acknowledged around a full mouth, still not looking at them.

Satsuki was starting to think that they’d all gotten luckier than they deserved, finding Kagamin at Seirin.

Dai-chan stalked through practice the next day, silent and preoccupied, constantly watching Tetsu-kun out of the corner of his eye.

“Do I need to keep those two separated?” Riko-kantoku asked quietly.

Satsuki shook her head. “No, I think we actually got somewhere. Let Aomine-kun play with Tetsu-kun in today’s mini-game, and we’ll know for sure.”

Riko-kantoku patted her shoulder. “Good work. I’ll see to it.”

Sure enough, Riko-kantoku had a quiet word with Hyuuga-san, and when they divided up players for a mini-game Dai-chan and Tetsu-kun were on the same team. Satsuki watched Tetsu-kun stop in front of Dai-chan, looking up at him without speaking. After a long moment, Dai-chan closed his eyes and nodded. They turned away to their positions, still without speaking, and Satsuki noted ruefully how wary Tsuchida and Furihata seemed of their current teammates. She couldn’t entirely blame them; there’d practically been a storm cloud hanging over Dai-chan’s head all day. She was having to restrain herself strenuously from biting her nails, or possibly her clipboard, waiting for this game to start.

When they did, her breath caught.

Dai-chan moved like she hadn’t seen him move in over a year. Like he and Tetsu-kun were thinking the same thoughts, breathing the same breath. Tetsu-kun didn’t need to signal, barely needed to glance at Dai-chan, for Dai-chan to be in motion. Again and again, he hit the perfect mark to receive Tetsu-kun’s passes, so cleanly no one could break the route. Again and again, Tetsu-kun sent the perfect pass to match Dai-chan’s movement. At the end of twenty minutes, the score was fifty to thirty, in favor of Dai-chan and Tetsu-kun’s side.

When they all finished tossing their numbers back in the basket, Tetsu-kun stopped and stood looking at Dai-chan with a smile on his face, faint and true, and Dai-chan smiled back, a little tilted. He held out his fist casually, and after a very still moment Tetsu reached out and touched it with his own, light as though he thought it was an illusion that might burst on contact. Satsuki thought about how long it had been since the last time she had seen them do that, and had to swallow hard to get the lump out of her throat, and nearly lost it anyway when Riko-san wrapped an arm around her shoulders. “Shh, it’s okay,” Riko-san told her softly. “They’re okay, now, aren’t they?” Satsuki nodded wordlessly, blinking back tears.

“Aomine, you asshole,” Kagamin panted, swiping back sweat-soaked hair. “You’ve been holding out on me.” Dai-chan started to smirk, and then both he and Kagamin yelped as Hyuuga-san fetched them brisk, matching swats across the back of the head.

“Okay,” he snapped, giving Dai-chan a hard look, “what the hell kind of play was that? I have never seen anyone hog the ball that badly in my life!”

Tetsu-kun looked abashed and bobbed a bow. “I apologize, senpai. I should have paid more attention to that.”

Dai-chan looked back and forth between them, utterly blank. “Why should you? I mean, there’s no one else here strong enough to deal with him,” he jerked his thumb at Kagamin, “obviously you’d get the ball to me. What?” he added, as everyone stared at him.

Tetsu-kun sighed, shoulders slumping a bit, even though his smile still hovered around the corners of his mouth. Hyuuga-san just rubbed his forehead and muttered under his breath, “Why did I let that guy talk me into running this team, again?” He stabbed a finger at Dai-chan. “We are going to talk about why there are other players on a team. Later. Right now, we have shooting drills to get through; everyone get to it!”

Dai-chan gave their captain a baffled look and shrugged at Tetsu-kun before going to fetch them both balls from the bin.

Satsuki couldn’t help herself. She turned and buried her head against Riko-san’s shoulder, giggling helplessly and as silently as she could manage. Riko-san patted her back with a rueful sigh. “I guess we still have a ways to go, huh?”

Satsuki finally got a hold of herself and straightened up, brushing back her hair and smiling encouragingly for her coach. “Yes, but at least it’s a start. If we can get him to work with Kagamin, that will be another step.”

Listening to the conversation over late dinner that night, though, Satsuki thought that it might be kind of a big step from Kagamin to everyone else.

“I mean!” Dai-chan gestured vigorously with his cup of soda. “It’s just the plain truth, isn’t it? It’s not like I’m saying they’re totally weak, but none of them is up to our level. I think Hyuuga-senpai is the only one who even starts to come close.”

She smacked his shoulder with the back of her hand. “Quit being such a snob, Dai-chan. Hyuuga-senpai would probably have been first-string at Teikou.”

“Yeah, but there’s first-string, and then there’s us, is all I’m saying.” He shrugged and sucked on his straw.

“And every single one of you is annoying as all fuck.” Kagamin unwrapped another burger, giving Dai-chan a dark look. “Kise isn’t as bad, and Kuroko’s fine when he’s not scaring the life out of you for fun, but it’s been too damn long since you lost, is what.”

Satsuki winced as Dai-chan’s face turned still and distant. “No one can beat me,” he stated, flat and harsh. “No one but myself.”

“Aomine-kun,” Tetsu-kun said quietly, with a shadow of something entreating in the way he looked at his partner. Dai-chan sighed and shook the moment off.

“I know, Tetsu, but facts are facts. The best I can hope for is people like him,” he flicked his fingers at Kagamin, “who are at least a little entertaining and don’t give up too fast.” Kagamin growled around a mouthful of food, and Dai-chan smirked at him, humor restored. “So quit letting Tetsu pull your nuts out of the fire for you; it’ll make you soft.”

“Kagami-kun is my partner also.” Tetsu-kun’s tone made Dai-chan hold up his hands in surrender and Kagamin settle back in his chair, though his glare still promised the argument wasn’t over yet. Just postponed. Satsuki quite deliberately sparkled at them and leaned her chin delicately on her laced hands.

“You can be so commanding when you want to be, Tetsu-kun.”

That, at least, got Dai-chan and Kagamin snickering together, and the amused glance Tetsu-kun gave her over his shake suggested he knew why she’d said it. But Satsuki couldn’t help worrying that it wouldn’t be enough. They only had four days left before the first match of preliminaries, and Kagamin and Dai-chan were still treating each other far more like rivals than like teammates.


Satsuki gave Tetsu-kun a considering look; he had already set them on track to competing with each other. She didn’t think Kagamin understood all of why, yet, but she did. She knew already that Kagamin could grow strong enough to make it work, to make Dai-chan respect him and break through that bleak core in his game. He was closing in on Dai-chan already, and all her projections said he could do it. That was yet to happen, though. Maybe, for now, instead of trying to make them work together the best thing to do was to make use of their competition.

Four days later, Riko-kantoku winced a little as Kagamin nearly ran Siki down trying to slam in another dunk. Not because Seirin was behind in points, which they weren’t. No, it was because Kagamin was two baskets behind Dai-chan in their personal contest. “Are you sure this was a good idea, Satsuki-chan?”

“I’m afraid it’s the best we’re going to get for now,” Satsuki murmured, watching the second-years and weighing her captain’s fast eroding patience. Hyuuga-san was going to smack both of them any moment now, unless… yes, Izuki-senpai saw it too and sent the ball to the outside to let both the team’s aces settle down a bit. Satsuki sighed. “I’ll keep working on it.”

“We’ll all keep working on it,” Riko-san corrected firmly. “If both of them were raised by wolves before now, it’s up to us to civilize them.”

Satsuki smiled down at her coach, sweet and warm with the unaccustomed feeling of a senpai’s support. “Yes, Kantoku.”

She really did like being at Seirin very much.

A/N: So, here’s the thing. Fujimaki’s Interhigh tournament brackets are incredibly screwed up. The only preliminary we see, for Interhigh, is prefect-level. This is made very clear by the fact that Kaijou, the Kanagawa champions, do not appear in the preliminary finals. Kanagawa is a prefect of the Kantou region, just like Tokyo is, and if the preliminary had been regional (as Kiyoshi suggests it is much later in the series by calling it the Kantou tournament) then Kaijou would have been in the finals. So, apparently the regional preliminary doesn’t exist, fine, whatever. But on top of that, Fujimaki puts two of the three Kings into the same block of preliminaries. This is completely counter to usual practice in any kind of preliminary elimination; three schools as widely geographically divided as those are shown to be should not be in the same block. Over and above that, though, these three are said to always be the three who win the preliminary finals, which means they must never have shared a block before or one of them would have eliminated the other before the finals. In short, Fujimaki decided that Drama > Logic. Fine, whatever, but I’m a little allergic to that kind of thing, and hereby declare that the three Kings are each in a different block, and that Shinsenkan is the only one in Seirin’s block. The preliminary finals will, therefore, feature Seirin, Seihou, Shuutoku, and Touou.

Last Modified: Sep 17, 13
Posted: Dec 12, 12
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This Moment to Arise – Revelations

Aomine plays against Seihou, and the team that surprises him the most is his own. He watches Kagami and Kuroko play against Shuutoku, and understands some of what went wrong the previous year. Drama, Action, I-3

On the second day of the Tokyo preliminary finals, Daiki’s heartfelt comment was, “About damn time.” He shrugged off Satsuki’s admonishing look. “Oh, come on, I’ve been bored out of my mind. Shinsenkan was pathetic, and even those Touou guys weren’t exactly a challenge.” Which had been a great disappointment, after he’d hauled himself through the whole month of A-block matches on the hope that the ‘Kings of the West’ would be at least a bit of fun. Or at least that their first match in the final block would be. But no, not so you’d notice. If it hadn’t been ridiculous to imagine, he’d actually have thought Touou was holding back against him. So he had to hope that Seihou would be better; they had Tsugawa, at least, and he might be good for a bit of fun, if Daiki was remembering right.

“Be sure you don’t get careless,” Hyuuga-senpai ordered sternly, folding his shirt into the locker he’d claimed in the changing room. “All you first-years should be prepared. Seihou has the toughest defense in Tokyo; last year, they trashed us badly enough that we actually hated the game for a while. Badly enough we nearly quit.” He banged the locked shut with more force than was necessary.

Daiki’s lip curled a little. “Yeah, you and everyone else.” He said it quietly, though, because Tetsu was giving him a Look. More loudly he added, “Of course you lost, you didn’t have me or Tetsu. Or Satsuki. Or even Kagami, I suppose.” He ducked Kagami’s annoyed swipe, grinning.

“That doesn’t matter.”

Daiki paused in the middle of grappling with Kagami, startled by just how level Hyuuga-senpai’s voice was. And when their captain turned away from the lockers, Daiki straightened up in pure reflex. Hyuuga-senpai’s eyes were gleaming like light off steel.

“It wouldn’t matter who we had or didn’t have, this year. Because we didn’t quit. And we’re going to win.” He opened his hand to Satsuki, and she stepped forward with a demure, bloodthirsty smile.

“Yes, Captain. We’ll be using Aomine-kun and Tetsu-kun in this match, and saving Kagami-kun for the match against Shuutoku. Tetsu-kun, please.”

The start of Daiki’s protest was promptly cut short by a sharp jab in the ribs. As he turned, gasping, to glare at his partner, he saw Kagami bent over on Tetsu’s other side, rubbing his ribs and glaring to match. Tetsu met both glares with a perfectly bland look, just as if he hadn’t essentially sucker-punched both his partners. Satsuki was still smiling, sweet and alarming.

“Thank you. It’s necessary, Dai-chan, so shut up. Midorin knows you too well, and you don’t have the height Kagami-kun does. He’s the only one here who might block Midorin’s shots. You, on the other hand, are better at getting past defense.” She gave Kagami a pointed look while she said it, and he subsided sulkily.

The door of the changing room clicked open and everyone looked around to see their coach standing with her hands on her hips. “It’s time,” she said, eyes gleaming to match Hyuuga-senpai’s. “We have a year’s worth of interest to pay Seihou back on our loss last year. It’s a big debt. Are you ready?”

The snap of the second-years’ agreement made Daiki’s ears perk up. That… that was a good sound. He liked hearing it.

As they filed out into the hall, Kagami glanced down at Tetsu. “Something wrong?”

Daiki looked around sharply; sure enough, Tetsu was looking up at the darkening glass ceiling of the main concourse as he walked, eyes distant. “Have you ever hated basketball, Kagami-kun?” he asked quietly.

Kagami blinked. “Not really.”

“I have.”

Daiki jerked up short in the hall, and Tetsu stopped too. When he glanced at Daiki, those pale eyes were flat and shadowed. “It wasn’t for the same reasons as our senpai. But I know that feeling.”

“Tetsu, what,” Daiki started, chest suddenly tight. “You didn’t…”

“It’s a painful feeling, to hate what you love,” Tetsu said quietly, holding his eyes.

Daiki flinched back from talking about this here, in front of Kagami again. “I don’t…”

“I think this is an important game,” Tetsu continued as if he hadn’t spoken. “For our senpai to get beyond the past. And maybe for us, too.”

Daiki just stared back, wordless. It was Kagami who snorted, hands jammed in his jacket pockets. “I don’t know what all you’re talking about. But if it’s an important game, let’s go win it.”

A slow smile tugged at the corners of Tetsu’s mouth, and the flatness faded out of his eyes. “Sometimes maybe it’s good to be uncomplicated," he said blandly.

“Of course it is.” Kagami frowned. “Hey, wait a minute.”

Tetsu looked back up at Daiki. “Well?” he asked softly. “Shall we go win it?”

Daiki still wasn’t sure he understood everything Tetsu was asking, but there was only one answer to that question. “Yeah.”

And then they were out under the lights and there was no need to think about anything except the ball and the court, which was a relief after all the uncomfortable things he’d had to think about lately. He relaxed into the start of the game, the familiarity of other uniforms lined up across from them, the sound of the first whistle. The absolute presence of the boundary lines closed around him, and the basket was a weight in his awareness, pulling in the ball.

Or at least it would be, as soon as he could shake off Tsugawa, the persistent little bastard.

What Satsuki and Kantoku had said during the week they prepared for this match was true enough. Seihou were only human; they weren’t miracles. And it wasn’t like Daiki objected to having strong opponents, quite the opposite. But it still just annoyed him to see that creepy smile on Tsugawa’s face, and the guy was even interrupting some of the pass combinations between him and Tetsu. It would be satisfying to grind him into paste, no question, but it wasn’t being much fun. Tsugawa was strong, but the weight of him in the game was spiteful; it was like playing a shadow of Murasakibara or something, and Daiki hadn’t liked doing that either, good training or not. He reminded himself he didn’t have to enjoy someone’s game to beat them, and pushed his pace faster, cutting sharper, skimming past his marker no matter how smoothly Tsugawa moved.

Or, at least, that was the plan.

Daiki scowled as he was called for charging again, and Tsugawa grinned.

“Aomine-kun,” Tetsu said at his elbow, a whole paragraph of scolding about keeping his temper in just two little words.

“I know,” Daiki snapped, irritated that he couldn’t really open up his game without getting yet another damn foul. “We’re still winning.” Just not by as much as he’d gotten used to, and not in a way he especially liked. Well, it wasn’t like that second part was actually anything new. He rolled his shoulders and focused. Ignore how annoying Tsugawa was, and the fact that none of Seihou’s players really excited him, and it really didn’t feel like he should have to work this hard against them. Ignore that this wasn’t even as fun as teasing Kagami. All there was was the ball and the court and him, sliding around the stiffness of the other players to throw and let the ball drop into the basket like rolling down a hill.

And even Seihou had the same expression on their faces as everyone else did, who watched him or played him. Disbelief. Fear. He turned away, back to their own defense, feeling ruffled up and weighed down all at once. He’d had fun doing this, once, he knew he had, but it was getting hard to remember the feeling of it. Hard to remember what interesting opponents even looked like.

“Good.” Izuki-senpai clapped him on the shoulder in passing, and Daiki looked up, startled. There was no relief in his voice, no smugness, nothing to say that what Daiki had done was anything out of the ordinary, no comments on how Seirin would depend on him. Just a moment of approval in passing. Just what any of his old team might have said. If Murasakibara had stopped intimidating the other team long enough to notice, or Midorima had stopped snarking long enough to say something so straightforward, or Akashi had, for some reason, stopped taking it for granted.

Okay, maybe not what any of them would have said, but… the same feeling.

“Stop sulking and come with me,” Tetsu said quietly, at his elbow. “We’ll take the ball back.”

Daiki grinned wryly at Tetsu’s familiar snippiness and shook himself back into the game. “Yeah, okay.” Seihou was fast, but he was faster, and he liked their sheer indignation when he proved it. Their passing game was strong and smooth, and it probably worked against most people. But he was Tetsu’s partner. Seihou’s smoothness was nothing to that.

The smack of the ball square against his palm was a good feeling. Tsugawa’s grimace when Daiki gave the ball to Tetsu and spun cleanly past to take it again floated a little bubble of laughter through his chest. And the sweep of the ball through the air into the net was always its own moment of perfect balance, where nothing else mattered.

Which made his annoyance all the sharper, when Tsugawa tried to walk through Tetsu and then freaked out over not having seen him. His oh-so-bubbly chatter about how many points down Seirin had been by this time last year made Daiki growl. He knew it was on purpose. He knew the kind of player Tsugawa was; this was a classic psychological attack. But the sudden darkness in Tetsu’s eyes and the tightening of the second-years’ jaws all across the court kind of pissed him off.

And, okay, he would admit that the pure arrogance of saying all that to a team that contained Aomine Daiki really pissed him off.

He probably should have thought about that more. Should have kept a closer eye on Tsugawa on his next drive down the court, should have realized that those weirdly smooth movements would throw his sense of velocity off, when he jumped to shoot. But he didn’t, until he felt impact against his shoulder and heard the whistle and realized that Tsugawa had suckered him into yet another foul. His fourth.

He wasn’t surprised when the coach called him off, but that didn’t mean he was happy about it. He wanted to grind Tsugawa into the court himself. That would be really satisfying, right about now.

Hearing Tetsu called off, too, and seeing Koganei-senpai and Tsuchida-senpai waiting for them… now that surprised him. “Shouldn’t it be Kagami?” he asked, startled. “He’s the only other one who can really work with Tetsu.”

Hyuuga-senpai shook his head, eyes distant. “No. We’re already ahead by twelve points, that’s enough. We decided this before the game started. We’re only using any of the first-years in the first half.”

Beside Daiki, Tetsu suddenly relaxed, and Daiki shot him a questioning look. Seirin wanted to win. He knew they wanted to win, as badly as anyone he’d ever seen. So why were they benching their two best scorers and their strongest supporting player?

“Why?” he finally asked.

Hyuuga-senpai snorted. “Think about it, Aomine. We’ll need Kuroko against Shuutoku, no question; we need to conserve his strength. Same goes for Kagami. Seihou is already starting to be able to track Kuroko anyway. And you,” he gave Daiki a brief glare, “have four fouls already. With Kuroko off, there’s no one left you’ll actually listen to about keeping your temper. You think I’m going to risk you on the court like that?”

That stopped Daiki short. It was true, he didn’t really bother listening to anyone else, here, except maybe Satsuki. This was the first time he’d felt uncomfortable about it.

“I understand,” Tetsu said quietly, and bowed. “We’ll leave it in your hands.”

Hyuuga-senpai’s mouth quirked up and he rested a hand on Tetsu’s shoulder. “Yeah.”

“Tetsu, what…” Daiki started as his partner took his elbow and started to haul him off. Tetsu was smiling faintly.

“Our senpai have their own determination.” Tetsu tagged Koganei-senpai, and Daiki absently held out his hand to do the same with Tsuchida-senpai.

Daiki frowned, but didn’t ask again. When Tetsu was in a close-mouthed mood, you just had to watch and wait. So he watched as the game started up again. As Hyuuga-senpai and Mitobe-senpai scored with a very smooth combination. As Tsuchida-senpai slid in easily to screen. As the whole team drew in tight around Izuki-senpai’s plays.

Seirin was holding the lead.

“They’re better than I thought they’d be,” Kagami muttered on the other side of Tetsu, only to collect a swat from the coach.

“Their pride is on the line,” she snapped. “This is a revenge game, and it’s one we’ve spent a year training toward. So shut up and watch.”

Was that what Tetsu had meant? That their senpai wanted to win with their own strength? Daiki supposed he could respect that. If they could really do it. He frowned as Seihou’s captain stole the ball from Tsuchida-senpai and sent it back down the court for a shot Hyuuga-senpai barely managed to block. Minutes ticked by as he watched, frown deepening. Seirin was pushing harder, wearing down. Seihou had taken six of their twelve point lead away. If they lost this game because of the second-years’ pride, that would be incredibly stupid.

He meant to say so during the quarter break. If he went back in for the fourth quarter, there’d be no problem. He was used to Seihou’s movement now, having watched from inside and outside the game. Tsugawa wouldn’t catch him out again. But when he opened his mouth to say so to Hyuuga-senpai, the look in his captain’s eye stopped him cold. It wasn’t anger. It wasn’t desperation, despite the pressure they were obviously under. Tetsu had said the senpai were determined but that was too pale a word for what Daiki was seeing. The force of it held Daiki silent while the second-years went back out again.

And somehow, even through they were wringing wet with sweat and panting for breath, they seemed to be pushing even harder. First Hyuuga-senpai and then Mitobe-senpai and then even Izuki-senpai broke past Seihou’s blocks. At the end of the bench, Satsuki made a pleased sound.

“They’ve got it,” she said, eyes intent on the game. “They’ve grasped Seihou’s movements, Kantoku. I think we’re clear.”

Their coach blew out a long, relieved breath. “Good. I was worried for a while, there.”

Satsuki flashed a bright smile down the bench. “It’s always easier to see it than to do something about it in the middle of a game. But our DVD player didn’t die in vain.”

That was weird enough to pull Daiki’s attention off the game for a moment. “Didn’t what?” he asked Satsuki.

“It wasn’t enough for me to analyze Seihou’s habits and report them,” she told him, matter-of-fact. “Their techniques are woven into every part of their game; no pre-made strategy would keep up. Our players had to be able to see the way I do, at least for this opponent. So all the second-years have been studying all the match videos we could find. It was Hyuuga-senpai’s idea.”

Studying Seihou, long and hard enough to burn out one of the DVD players, Daiki filled in, a little shocked. No wonder Hyuuga-san’s focus had felt so heavy, had such a deadly edge.

And, slowly, Seirin was pulling ahead again. A lay-up that Izuki-senpai broke through for. A hook-shot from Mitobe-senpai, answered by one of those long, soft shots by Seihou’s point guard. Seirin was seven points ahead and still pushing like they were behind.

On the other hand, maybe that was wise. Daiki watched Seihou’s captain drive straight through a two-man defense to slam the ball in, and he could feel his shoulders pulling tenser. Only five points ahead and over three minutes to go. Seirin could still lose this. “Kantoku,” he said, low, “you should send me back in.”

“Have a little faith in your senpai, Aomine,” she told him, but her voice was husky and a quick look showed her knuckles white on the edge of the bench.

“If you’re worried about the fouls, send me in,” Kagami said just as Daiki was opening his mouth to argue.

“I’m not going to risk breaking their momentum now,” Riko-san snapped, not looking away from the court.

“Kagami-kun,” Tetsu said quietly, “Aomine-kun. Just watch.”

“Watch what?” Kagami growled, but a brief cheer from the onlookers snapped both their heads around toward the game before Tetsu could answer. Hyuuga-senpai was slapping palms with Izuki-senpai and the score was eight points ahead. Seihou’s point guard went for another shot, but Mitobe-senpai was there this time, pressing him back, off balance, and Izuki-senpai stole the ball and gave it to Hyuuga-san for another of those rock-steady three-pointers. Seihou passed the throw-in around, just as fast and smooth as ever, and Daiki stiffened as he saw the pattern; the ball was going to come back to Iwamura, and no one on the court right now could stop a full power drive from him. The clock was ticking down, though, they would still be safe…

Tsuchida-senpai lunged for the ball like it was the last chance Seirin had and slapped it into Izuki-senpai’s hands. Izuki-senpai to Hyuuga-san, well outside the three-point line, while Mitobe-senpai slid into Tsugawa’s path. And, as the last seconds ran out, the ball sailed in a long, graceful arc and swished through the basket as cleanly as one of Midorima’s shots.

Seirin won by fourteen points. Two more than the lead Daiki had left them with.

“Kantoku said it, didn’t she?” Tetsu murmured at his shoulder. “Our senpai had their pride on the line.”

“I guess so,” Daiki muttered, still a little stunned that the second-years had gone that far to take their game back after a loss like the one Tsugawa had taunted them over. They could have kept him in and won easily, maybe even crushed Seihou as badly as Seihou had done to them if Daiki had kept his pace up once he’d found it. But they hadn’t; they’d been that determined to prove their game to Seihou and to themselves. He’d never seen anyone else do something like that. Not his own team, who’d never had to go that far, and never had a loss to come back from anyway. Certainly no one he’d ever played against, no matter how much he’d wanted it and even, for the last few desperate months before he gave up on the hope, prayed for it.

Which was probably why the first words out of his mouth when everyone came back to the bench were not congratulations but rather, “Where the hell were you for the last three years?!”

Hyuuga-san slowly adjusted his glasses, eyes glinting, and Daiki resigned himself to a brisk cuff which, okay, he probably deserved for that. But Hyuuga-san’s mouth crooked up at one corner and the hand that landed on Daiki’s head was only a little rough, messing up his hair. “Learning how not to give up,” Hyuuga-san told him. “It’s something you could stand to do, too, obnoxious brat.”

Daiki started to protest that, but his captain’s eyes were still bright and hard with the thing that had driven the team so intensely to win in every way possible, and in face of it Daiki fell silent again.

“That’s better,” Hyuuga-san said quietly. “You need to learn how to gauge other players more accurately, Aomine. You make too many assumptions.”

Daiki was unsettled enough to stop and think about what Hyuuga-san meant. About what might happen if he had been on the other side, playing against that diamond focus and drive he saw in Seirin today—if he’d been as slow to understand Seirin as he had been to come to grips with Tsugawa’s tactics, today. It was a thought that unsettled him, made him think of a time when he’d paid a whole lot more attention to his opponents that he had been lately. The discomfort of that thought made him look away from his captain’s level gaze.

Hyuuga-san squeezed his shoulder once and let him go, turning back to gather up the rest of the team and harry them off to the changing room. When Daiki turned to follow, he found Tetsu at his side again.

There was satisfaction in his partner’s eyes.

Another day, another game, and Daiki was on the bench again. He slouched down with a sigh.

“Quit sulking,” Riko-san told him, exasperated. “You knew you’d be out for this game. You’re not ready to play hard for two consecutive days, yet.”

“I’ll sulk if I want to,” he grumbled. “You gave Midorima to Kagami. That’s so unfair.” He’d really been looking forward to playing the others from Teikou. Midorima had had some fairly cutting things to say about the starting line-up, too, and Daiki frankly thought he was right. Riko-kantoku and Hyuuga-san were gambling by using Kagami alone with Tetsu.

Sure enough, Tetsu got the ball through to Kagami for the first shot only to have Midorima block it. Well, at least Hyuuga-san blocked the return shot. It wasn’t a start to make Daiki feel confident, though. The slow minutes that went by while both teams fought for the ball and neither scored didn’t make him any more relaxed, either.

He was more than half expecting it, when Shuutoku’s point guard feinted hard for the basket only to pass the ball back to Midorima, well behind the three-point line. The basket that followed was a foregone conclusion, though Riko-kantoku’s choked sound of disbelief made it clear that no one else had really understood what Midorima could do. Daiki kept his eyes on Tetsu, though, because he knew what his partner could do, also.

And he knew Tetsu’s temper.

Sure enough, Tetsu was sending Kagami back toward Shuutoku’s basket, and Daiki smiled slow and toothy as Tetsu caught Midorima’s ball under Seirin’s basket, stepped over the line and spun hard on one heel to fire the ball back down the full length of the court. He didn’t even mind too much that it was Kagami who was there to catch it, since the resulting basket showcased Tetsu so beautifully. Daiki leaned back on his hands, smirking as players and audience made shocked sounds all around him. “Shuutoku’s going to be in trouble if Midorima doesn’t pull his head out of his ass and remember who he’s playing,” he told Satsuki.

“Stop gloating, Dai-chan, it’s unbecoming,” she told him, just as if she wasn’t doting over Tetsu with hearts in her eyes. The next minute, though, her smile turned sharp again. “They’ll set Takao Kazunari on Tetsu-kun, now.”

Riko-san frowned at the court, fingers tapping against her folded arms. “How soon, do you think?”

“One more play,” Satsuki said, serene in the surety of her predictions.

Sure enough, after one more basket for Seirin, the point guard moved to mark Tetsu. Daiki narrowed his eyes at the way the guy was grinning, all bright-eyed. He liked it when other players appreciated Tetsu, but not when they got pushy about it. Though he supposed this would make the counter Tetsu had suggested more effective, if Takao was that focused on him.

The rest of the first-years winced as Shuutoku scored again. “Are the senpai really going to be able to keep up with Shuutoku long enough?” Furihata asked Riko-kantoku.

She smiled, and it reminded Daiki so much of Satsuki when she’d lost her temper and was about to make someone regret the day he’d been born, that he edged away down the bench. Just to be on the safe side.

“Don’t worry.” Riko-san flicked a little bit of painted wood absently through her fingers. “I trained Hyuuga-kun very thoroughly in how to shoot under pressure.”

“Who cares about this this ‘King’ bullshit?” Hyuuga-kun yelled, out on the court. “Die!”

“Though it maybe did some bad things to his personality,” she finished quite calmly as the ball swished through the net.

Satsuki clasped her clipboard to her chest and sparkled. “Riko-kantoku is such a good trainer.” The women smiled at each other in a happily bloodthirsty way.

“Why did I let Tetsu drag me here?” Daiki muttered. As if Satsuki wasn’t scary enough on her own.

“It’s about time for Midorin to try a longer shot,” Satsuki murmured, ignoring him, eyes on the players again. “Tetsu-kun hasn’t left him any choice, if he wants to avoid those long passes. I hope everyone remembers what I said about that.”

“It’s hard to really believe, but they’ll remember.” Riko-san rocked a step forward as Midorima got the ball again. “Here it comes.”

Midorima shot from the center line, and Daiki nodded as the ball arced up. “It’s in.” And he’d give his senpai this much credit; despite the disbelief on every face but Tetsu’s when Midorima went up to shoot, that was their only flinch. Izuki-senpai got the ball to Kagami fast, after the throw-in, and Daiki rolled his eyes as the jumping idiot shot from the outside and ran to dunk it himself when it missed. “His accuracy sucks,” he muttered.

“So does yours, from the outside,” Satsuki scolded, hitting him lightly over the head with her clipboard. “You shouldn’t… there!” She went up on her toes, focused on Midorima like a predator. “It’s coming! Kagamin challenged him, it’s the end of the quarter, he’ll use a full-court shot now!”

“Unbelievable,” Riko-san whispered as they watched Midorima take a shooting stance under Shuutoku’s basket. “You think he can really…?”

“He’ll be able to do it, by now,” Satsuki said, positive. The ball arced achingly high over the court and down, down, to drive cleanly through Seirin’s net. And the buzzer sounded while everyone stood frozen.

Daiki frowned as he followed the rest of the team back to the changing room and watched them, during the half time break. Everyone but Kuroko and Kagami were shaken. He didn’t think that would stop the second-years for long, not after what he’d seen them do against Seihou. But none of them were fast enough to stop Midorima before he could shoot. “You should put me in,” he said flatly.

“You’d have to use too much of your speed to stop him on the ground, Dai-chan,” Satsuki said, laying a hesitant hand on his shoulder. “Kantoku says you’re not back in good enough condition. It has to be Kagamin, this game.”

Daiki fired up at that; Kagami, to take his place against one of his own ex-team? “Kagami isn’t good enough to sto—” he broke off with an oof as Kagami stopped scrubbing a towel over his face and rammed an elbow into Daiki’s side.

“Don’t make decisions for other people! God you’re an asshole when you don’t get to play.” Kagami look a contemplative swallow from his water bottle. “And when you do, now I think about it. Quit worrying so much, I can do it.”

“I wasn’t worrying you…” Daiki glowered, aware that the rest of the team was stifling laughter. Even Tetsu, who was perfectly straight-faced.

Hyuuga-san clapped Daiki and Kagami both on the shoulders and said, with a toothy smile, “Good, keep on not worrying. And stop arguing like toddlers, you brats, before I knock your damn heads together.”

Both Kagami and Daiki hunched down a little and muttered agreement.

But maybe Daiki’s remark really had gotten to Kagami, because when he went back out onto the court he focused on Midorima like Satsuki focused on her player-data. He jumped to block Midorima’s shots again and again, and he was starting to actually do it, starting to pull Midorima back down the court so he didn’t have to take so long to set up for the shot. Satsuki hissed with satisfaction the first time Kagami actually blocked a shot, and Daiki had to admit that Kagami was tipping the balance of the game. Every shot he blocked, the second-years were there to catch and make a come-back play with. And those jumps were getting higher. Watching Kagami advance like that in the course of a single game tugged at something in Daiki; he remembered how it felt, to do that. Riko-kantoku was starting to make disapproving sounds as she watched him, though, running and jumping and not stopping. She swore out loud when Kagami went to take the ball down the court again and stumbled on one of those jumps, losing the ball to Shuutoku.

Daiki, personally, kind of liked how Kagami wasn’t stopping for anything. So he rolled his eyes over the scolding Hyuuga-san gave Kagami during the third quarter break for not paying attention to the rest of the team. Right now, he didn’t even care if he was showing sympathy for a rival; he liked how Kagami was playing.

“This is the only way to do it,” Kagami argued back, “I’m the only one who can—” Abruptly he stopped talking, so frozen Daiki wasn’t sure he was still breathing, and the whole team blinked at him. Slowly, stiffly, Kagami turned his head to stare at Daiki and then at Tetsu, who was standing beside the bench with that shadowed look in his eyes again. As they looked at each other silently, though, Tetsu’s shoulders eased and fell out of their tight line, and the crease between his brows smoothed out again. Daiki straightened out of his slouch on the bench; he hadn’t realized how tense his partner’s silence was until just now.

“Was that… how it happened?” Kagami asked, a little hoarse.

Tetsu nodded. “It’s all right, Kagami-kun. I won’t let you play like that,” he answered quietly, a quiet that Daiki recognized. That was Tetsu making a promise, and his gut clenched hearing Tetsu speak to Kagami that way.

“Yeah. Yeah, okay.” Kagami took a slow breath and shook his head, hard. “Thanks.” He gave Daiki a frankly disturbed look, and Daiki realized abruptly that Kagami and Tetsu had been talking about him, somehow. Before he could ask or protest, though, Riko-kantoku was standing in front of them and calling for attention.

“Okay, Kuroko’s had a break, so it’s about time to spring the trap on Takao. Also, we’ll use the accelerated pass this quarter We’re eleven points behind, people, it’s time to push.” She gave Kagami a narrow, measuring look. “You… you can block Midorima twice more, I think. After that stumble, though, they won’t think you can do it again at all. We’re going to bluff. Block his first shot in the fourth quarter, and then save your last jump in case you need to block a critical ball and turn the momentum. And then you’re done, and you leave it to the rest of the team, got that?” Her glare intensified when Kagami flexed his legs thoughtfully, and he ducked his head.

“Yes, Kantoku.”

“All right. Get out there, then.”

Daiki grabbed Tetsu’s shoulder as he stripped off his t-shirt and turned toward the court. “Tetsu, what the hell did you mean? You won’t like Kagami play like what?”

Tetsu gave him a level look. “Aomine-kun. If you win with a team that still can’t trust each other, if you win but no one’s happy about it… is that really victory?” He shrugged out from under Daiki’s hand, tugging his wrist-warmers up. “I don’t think so.”

Daiki watched him walk out onto the court, silent while the words echoed in his head. It was true enough that none of his wins had felt like a real victory for months. Maybe a year, by now. He wasn’t even sure it would have felt like a real victory if he’d been the one out there playing Midorima. It wasn’t a real victory if you didn’t have to fight for it, and he didn’t think Midorima could really make him fight.

Except… that wasn’t what Tetsu had said, was it? He hadn’t said “fight”. He’d said “trust”. And “happy about it”. Daiki froze, staring blindly out at the court. Were those thing things Tetsu hadn’t felt for a year? Tetsu’s words, back before the start of preliminaries, when they’d fought that one night over dinner, echoed in his head.

Trust… if that was Tetsu’s real victory…

“Fuck,” Daiki whispered to himself, scrubbing a hand over his face. “No wonder he’s pissed off.”

He started when Satsuki hit him very lightly over the head with her clipboard, looking up to find her smiling down at him. “Now you’re getting it.”

Daiki hunched his shoulders a little. “Yeah, yeah.” Satsuki had always been the one who saw what was in his own blind spots; she didn’t need to rub it in.

And then the crowd roared, and he looked back at the game and smiled to see the ball canon into Kagami’s hand from Tetsu’s. In fact, he smirked, because as much as he had blind spots, so did Satsuki, and telling Kagami to save a play was like telling a glutton to save some of dinner. He watched Kagami jump to dunk the ball right past Midorima’s block, and laughed.

Satsuki hit him harder this time.

“Oh, come on.” Daiki rubbed his head, grinning up at her. “Tetsu will take care of things. And you can’t say that wasn’t a fantastic expression on Midorima’s face.” Riko-kantoku growled from his other side, and he subsided, still grinning.

The last two minutes turned the grin to a frown, though. Most of Shuutoku fell back to defend, and Seirin was still one basket short. Even Hyuuga-san’s shots were only keeping even with Midorima’s. Tension crawled up Daiki’s spine as the score hovered, deadlocked, and the seconds ticked down. He wasn’t the only one who let out a relieved breath when Hyuuga-san finally broke free and sank one more three-pointer to turn over the score in Seirin’s favor.

Only he and Satsuki cursed, though, when the ball fell, because what the hell was the rest of the team thinking, why wasn’t anyone guarding Midorima?! The ball was in Midorima’s hands, Kagami and Tetsu were both closing on him, but if Kagami was past his limit already…

Kagami!” Riko-kantoku yelled, loud enough to make Daiki’s ears ring, up on her feet with her hands clenched. “Don’t…!

Kagami was already jumping, though, as high as any of his blocks during the game, and Daiki held his breath.

“It’s a fake!” Satsuki shouted, on his other side, furious, and sure enough Midorima brought the ball back down and set his feet for another jump with a serene calm that ignored that last seconds slipping away. Kagami wouldn’t even land soon enough to jump for this shot, never mind whether he actually could or not.

Daiki was still holding his breath, though. There was one person who could stop Midorima, still.

And there, Tetsu was there, striking the ball out of Midorima’s hands, and the buzzer sounded just as Kagami’s feet hit the court again, one second after the ball. Daiki breathed out.

And when the rest of the team came off the court to be piled on by everyone else and, in Kagami’s case, shoved down onto the bench for a fast examination by a furious coach, Daiki just looked down at Tetsu. “I knew you’d be there,” he said quietly.

Tetsu cocked his head, still panting for breath. “Did you know Kagami-kun would? Midorima-kun knew.”

“Midorima believes in a lot of things I don’t.” Daiki’s mouth twisted and he sighed. “I’ve only played with him for a few months, Tetsu, give me a little time.” He folded his arms, looking down at them, and offered, “Knew Hyuuga-san would make the last shot we needed, though.”

Tetsu laid a hand on his arm, and when Daiki looked up he was smiling. “We’ll just keep playing until you know for everyone, then.”

“Okay,” Daiki agreed, low. For Tetsu, he would try. And maybe for that tug of familiarity Kagami’s game had given him today.

“I can’t believe you!” Riko-kantoku was sputtering over Kagami. “Just look at this! Definitely muscle strain, maybe even torn muscles! I’m taking you to the hospital immediately, and who knows whether you’ll be able to play against Kaijou next week?! Basketball idiots!”

Satsuki came to drape her arms over Tetsu’s shoulders from behind and murmur, “And now he says…”

“I’ll be fine, I can still play!”

She mouthed the words along with Kagami, and Daiki had to laugh.

Maybe he was a little glad Tetsu had dragged him to this school, after all. Just a little.

Last Modified: Sep 17, 13
Posted: Dec 19, 12
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This Moment to Arise – Stumbles

Kuroko gets a chance to play the way he wants to, again, with Aomine against Kaijou. When he has to play without his partners against Touou, though, he finds himself hitting a wall. Drama, Action, Angst, I-3

Tetsuya was starting to feel that it was somehow fate: if one of his partners wasn’t sulking, the other would be. Kagami had been sulking for a solid week, in fact, starting from the moment the doctor had informed him he had put micro-tears in the muscle of his calves and strictly forbidden him from playing for two weeks. He wasn’t even allowed to practice, only to do very gentle stretches up on the stage, glowering at thin air under the coach’s stern eye. Like the other end of a see-saw coming up, Aomine had become cheerful again. In fact, he was grinning as they lined up to board the train out to the arena hosting this year’s Interhigh tournament.

Aomine would be the only ace who got to play against Kaijou, for their first round.

He was so cheerful he was nearly whistling, and he took the seat next to Kagami’s, most likely so that he could keep waving his cheerfulness in Kagami’s face. Tetsuya rolled his eyes a little and took a seat against the back of theirs so he didn’t have to watch it. They were like a couple of little kids sometimes.

Momoi settled next to him, humming to herself, which was a better sign. “You’re confident?” he asked quietly.

She smiled, the distant, calculating smile she wore during matches. “Ki-chan is always the hardest to predict because his progress depends so much on who else he’s played recently. But Dai-chan is back in condition, now, and he’ll be playing his best since it’s against Ki-chan.” Her smile turned rueful as Kagami and Aomine’s muttered exchange devolved into a brief wrestling match, behind them. “And Kagamin and Dai-chan still distract each other sometimes, when they play together. Maybe it’s best, for this match, that it’s only Dai-chan.” She leaned against his shoulder. “And you.”

He gave her the tiny smile that only his teammates ever seemed to learned how to spot. “And you.”

On the way to a match, she was in a serious enough mood to not indulge in any over-the-top public affection, and just looked back at him, eyes sparkling with the wicked edge of her own determination. “Of course.”

This year’s venue was down the coast, a town that catered to beach-goers, and a brisk breeze off the water blew through the open streets and snapped the pennons that marched up the steps to the arena. Tetsuya breathed it in, tasting the electric edge in the atmosphere. Knots of other students in school uniforms ignored the gathering crowd around them, aware only of each other. Everyone was here to win, and everyone knew they might lose, and the eyes of the players were bright with that tension every time glances crossed.

Tetsuya loved this. He loved the uncertainty and need and excitement. He knew exactly what it was that drove Kagami against Tetsuya’s old team. He knew what it was that Aomine missed so desperately it turned his eyes dark and dull. And even though he’d ignored Akashi’s plans and orders for the two of them, and followed his own judgement instead, he hoped that Aomine would find what he needed again today, facing Kise as an opponent. Aomine was smiling, which he really hadn’t, yet, through all the preliminaries. There was a manic edge in that smile that made Tetsuya’s spine crinkle, though. He thought he wasn’t the only one to notice, because Kagami watched Aomine from the corner of his eye as the team got changed, not sulky any more but frowning just a little.

“All right,” Hyuuga-san called, waving them to gather close. “We’ve played Kaijou once, but don’t let that make you overconfident. I doubt they were going all out, not in a practice match, and Kasamatsu knows what we can do, now. Stay sharp.” He nodded as everyone chorused agreement, and then reached up to wrap a hand around the back of Aomine’s neck. “Except for you,” he added. “You need to calm down.” He shook Aomine a little, holding his rather startled gaze. “Kaijou isn’t running away, and you don’t need to hunt them down for pity’s sake. Breathe.”

Tetsuya was actually the one who followed that order, breathing out as one thread of tension uncoiled down his back. He had been right, so right, to bring Aomine to Seirin.

Even if Aomine was currently looking at their captain with that manic edge fading back into shadows. “They probably will, after this,” he said, low and so matter-of-fact it made something twist in Tetsuya’s chest.

Out of that tight twist, he said, “Kise-kun never runs away. Especially not from you.”

Aomine hesitated, and finally lowered his chin. “Yeah. He doesn’t.”

Hyuuga-san shook his head at them, mouth quirked. “And now the we’ve had the moment of brooding that seems absolutely required for you two, get out on the damn court and play!” He gave Aomine a little push.

“Yes, Captain,” Tetsuya agreed blandly over Aomine’s indignant sound, and gave his partner a much firmer shove toward the door with a hand in the small of his back. Aomine pouted at him but went, and Kagami followed after them, rolling his eyes. Fortunately it only took a few steps for Aomine to remember that Kise was waiting for them, and then he picked up his pace.

Momoi touched Tetsuya’s shoulder, just before the team went out onto the court. “Tetsu-kun. Are you all right with this, too?” She glanced over at Kaijou, at Kise, who was already smiling that sharp little smile he wore when he let the rest of the world fall away and just played. The one he only ever wore when he played Aomine. Tetsuya watched Aomine’s smile start to sharpen in answer and sighed softly.

“Being unnoticed is my specialty, Momoi-san.”

She bit her lip at that, and he touched her hand lightly, shaking his head. He couldn’t say he didn’t mind; sometimes he got really tired of it. But the fact remained, this was his specialty. His strength. So he stepped out onto the court in Aomine’s shadow, and took what amusement he could in watching Aomine and Kise exchange jabs, and didn’t interject to mention that, even if Kise could beat Aomine this time, Kaijou would not defeat Seirin.

Because Tetsuya was here, also.

Kaijou clearly intended to test that, though. Kise got the ball at once, and only Aomine’s raw speed struck the ball out of his hands and into Hyuuga-san’s for the first basket. Just as Momoi has predicted, Kasamatsu-san gave Kise the ball again, and Hyuuga-san growled audibly when his own three-point form was repeated. Aomine was there again to deflect it, and Mitobe-senpai got the rebound, but Kasamatsu-san stole the ball from Izuki-senpai as soon as he went to pass it and took a basket of his own with beautiful speed and precision.

"Don’t think we’re nice enough to just let you take control of the game," Kasamatsu-san told Izuki-senpai with a tight smile.

Tetsuya nodded to himself, watching. Momoi was right; Kaijou believed that Kise could stop Aomine, and were covering for him while he tried.

They might be right.

He watched Aomine and Kise bare their teeth at each other and scuffle back and forth with cuts almost too fast to follow. He could hear Izuki-senpai’s hiss of indrawn breath when Kise leaped to block Aomine’s shot cleanly. Kise was developing his game fast, at Kaijou, maybe even faster than he had at Teikou. And he had a team prepared to support him, a team led by someone who made Momoi’s eyes burn brighter when she talked about his strength and how to oppose him.

But that was all right, because the more Kise and Aomine drew the eye, the stronger Tetsuya’s own counter-move would be.

Tetsuya flexed his knees, watching his marker out of the corner of his eye. They’d chosen the hyperactive one, the one who went up for all the rebounds. This one would respond fast when he lost sight of Tetsuya. He hadn’t been part of the practice game, though, and would be surprised the first time he experienced it. As soon as Aomine closed again to mark Kise, Tetsuya took the moment of distraction when his own marker glanced at his captain for direction to fade to the side, behind, around, each step smooth and easy, sliding one step ahead of the path of the other player’s gaze as he jerked around, looking for Tetsuya. Who, of course, was now in exactly the opposite direction, closing on Kasamatsu-san. He caught up just as Kasamatsu-san spun to the side to evade Izuki-senpai, and tapped the ball out of his hands, sending it singing back down the court to Mitobe-senpai to take the next basket.

“I’m sorry,” he murmured in answer to Kasamatsu-san’s ferocious glare, “but we’re not nice enough to let you have control of the game, either.”

Kasamatsu-san snorted, eyes glinting as he straightened. “Uppity first-year brats everywhere,” he declared, and spun back to re-deploy his team.

Tetsuya bent his head for a breath, storing up the satisfaction of having such a strong player count him in with Kise and Aomine, to hold back the bitter edge of watching Kise and Aomine focus on nothing but each other. Of watching Aomine forget, again, that he had a partner on this court. He’d known it would probably happen, after all.

By the end of the first quarter, Kaijou was ahead and his senpai were getting tense. But Tetsuya could see Aomine’s focus tightening on the challenge Kise presented. When Aomine stood back up from the bench, the weight of his focus was heavy in the air, and Kagami snorted softly, leaning back on his hands. “Nothing to worry about, huh?” he asked.

Aomine didn’t look around. “Of course not.”

Tetsuya looked over at Momoi, questioning, and, at her nod, sat back down himself.

“Tsuchida,” Kantoku called, “you’re in. Make sure you get the rebounds, because that Hayakawa they’ve put in for the tournament games has way too good a record at that. Watch everyone’s backs!”

Beside Tetsuya, Kagami made a startled sound, looking down at Tetsuya with raised brows. “But aren’t you more of an advantage than him, while the misdirection lasts? Why are they pulling you out already?”

“Because Dai-chan is getting serious,” Momoi said softly, behind them. “If we need to bring Tetsu-kun in at the end, he’s going to need all the rest he can get now, to keep up with how fast Dai-chan will be going by then.”

Kagami looked a little skeptical, but turned back to the court, elbows on his knees as he watched the game start up again.

By half-time, he wasn’t looking skeptical any more. Aomine was moving faster and faster, pushing against every advance Kise made, sliding around him like water, blocking his shots. Most of Kaijou’s baskets were coming from Kasamatsu-san, now, while Seirin had both Hyuuga-san and Aomine making points. They were pulling ahead.

“All right,” Kantoku said, hands on her hips as she stood in front of the bench. “This is the breaking point. Either they’ll go with Kise or they won’t. Aomine-kun, will you be ready, if Kise can really complete his copy of you?”

Aomine’s lips peeled back from his teeth, and his eyes were fixed on the empty court. “Of course I will.”

Riko-kantoku sighed and leaned forward to grab him by the ear. “You will not enter the Zone, understand? You’re back in reasonable condition, but that would put too much strain on your body, still. Now use your brain to actually think and answer me: if Kise can complete his copy of your techniques, can you still deal with him?”

“Ow, shit, okay already!” Aomine rubbed his ear, nearly pouting up at their couch. “Yeah, I’ll be okay; Kise isn’t as fast as me.”

Kantoku raised an eyebrow at Momoi, and her shoulders straightened in response to Momoi’s firm nod. “All right, then, no player changes yet. You all know the strategy, if they don’t go with Kise: Mitobe will join in to double mark Kasamatsu. Now get out there and play!”

When play started again, it was tense. Kaijou was pushing hard, but Kise always passed the ball when it came to him. “You were right,” Kantoku murmured to Momoi. “Look at how Kise-kun is always on Aomine-kun. He’s not just marking tightly, is he?”

“No,” Momoi agreed softly, clipboard clasped tight to her chest. “He’s going to try it.”

“Will it really work, even if he sees it?” Kagami wanted to know, glancing up at her. “I mean, Aomine’s kind of a freak, just physically; can Kise copy his moves?”

Riko-kantoku hummed absently, eyes on the game. “Kise’s physical condition is at least as good, and his potential is equal to Aomine-kun’s. He might not have quite the edge of speed, but he comes very close.” She glowered down at Kagami in a forbidding manner. “You’re still working up to that level, and you’ll be working harder as soon as your legs are healed, believe me.”

Kagami snorted, apparently unconcerned by the ‘triple drills’ glint in her eyes. “Of course. That’s why I’m still with Seirin.”

Momoi caught Tetsuya’s eye and they smiled at each other, wry and tilted. Kagami really was a great deal like Aomine used to be.

And Aomine was looking a little more like himself, as he watched Kise watching him, teeth glinting in a sharp, eager smile every time Kise broke away to try one of Aomine’s moves against another player. He started up on his toes every time that happened, and his return baskets came fast and hard. “Aomine-kun wants Kise-kun to do it,” Tetsuya noted, quietly.

“Well of course he does,” Kagami answered, at the same moment Koganei-senpai said, “Aomine is weird.” Koganei-senpai grinned a little, and added, “Kagami, too.”

“It is not weird,” Kagami insisted, indignant. “I’m not saying he’s not an asshole, but he just wants a game worth playing, that’s not weird.” And then he frowned at Momoi and Tetsuya. “Why are you laughing?”

Momoi wiped her eyes, still giggling. “This is why Dai-chan loves Kagamin.”

Tetsuya smiled faintly out at the court while Kagami turned red and sputtered. The shift in Aomine’s stance pulled him forward on the bench, though. Aomine had been making more and more daring formless shots—daring for anyone who wasn’t Aomine, at least—but he’d just fallen completely out of stance, ball in one hand, other hand planted on his hip. He slung the ball over Kise, careless and hard, and it smacked off the backboard and through the net, leaving silence behind it. They could hear him on the bench when he said, “Quit screwing around, Kise. If you don’t hurry up it’ll all be over. I’m not patient enough to wait until you’re all ready.”

Hyuuga-san dragged a hand over his face. “Aomine, you little brat…”

Kasamatsu-san barked a laugh. “You think that matters? Who the hell cares about your patience?” The throw-in smacked into his hands and he spun free of Izuki-senpai, and sent a three-point shot sailing through the hoop. "Know your place, first-year. You’re not the only player on this court!"

Tetsuya shivered a little, watching. Kaijou seemed to take those words as inspiration, tightening up their defense even more. The next time Hyuuga-san shot, Moriyama was there to block it. The team pulled in around Kise, guarding the score unwaveringly while he prepared. And Tetsuya saw the moment Kise understood what his team was doing, saw the tiny, true smile that curved his lips before he sank into a taut, familiar stance, facing Aomine.

And broke past him like lightning.

The whole bench were on their feet as Aomine gave chase, Momoi shouting a warning just as his feet left the ground that bit too forcefully, driving him into Kise’s back. And Kise completed the shot with a hook behind both of them that sank through the net as though rolling downhill.

“He did it!” Kagami yelled, pounding on Tetsuya’s shoulder, wonder and excitement in his voice just as though it wasn’t the opponent’s ace he was talking about.

“Yes,” Tetsuya agreed, fingers curling tight. Aomine was standing under the basket, blank and shocked by the actual experience of being passed, but the blankness was slowly fading into a burning focus Tetsuya hadn’t seen in over a year. It made his chest tighten, seeing it again, but there was a chill settling around him as well. This was what Aomine wanted, needed, but would he forget the progress they’d made this year, now he had it? Would he forget Tetsuya completely again?

The next ball was stolen when Tsuchida-senpai passed it back to Hyuuga-san, and Kise cut past Aomine again only to have Aomine slap the ball out of his hands, right at the hoop, so hard it landed in the stands.

The other first-years were making shocked sounds, but Tetsuya just nodded to himself. This was more like Aomine, far more like him than all the lazy slouching and drawled complaints of the past year. Aomine blazed through the Kaijou team and faded back almost parallel to the floor to make his shot over Kise’s block.

“He really likes that one,” Kagami grumbled, and Tetsuya smiled a little. Kagami had been on the receiving end of that move more than once, to be sure. It was one of the things that made him think Kagami might be the answer for both Aomine and himself.

Kise’s next shot was the one Aomine had just used, and the ball went in just as smoothly.

Momoi whistled softly. “Ki-chan really has done it. He isn’t as fast, but he’s adjusted his movement for that. His change of pace has just as much impact, and his flexibility is already equal.” She frowned. “Riko-kantoku, this might be a problem.”

“Mm.” Kantoku shot a glance at the scoreboard, where Seirin was only two points ahead. “I was hoping to have more of a lead, yes, but… Kaijou is a very strong team, under Kasamatsu-san. Kuroko. Make sure you’re warmed up.”

Tetsuya nodded quietly. “Yes, Kantoku.” He started stretching his legs out, eyes steady on the flow of the game. Or, perhaps, the rocking of the game, back and forth between Kise and Aomine, basket after basket. They raced furiously after each other, up and down the court, teeth bared, burning fiercer than Tetsuya had ever seen them, before.

Of course, there was a reason he’d never seen them stretched all-out against each other.

There were only a few minutes left to go in the last quarter when Kise faltered and the whole court froze, watching his ball circle the rim, around and around, before it finally fell in.

“That’s it,” Riko-kantoku snapped, and signaled for a time-out. As the players came in, she clapped Tsuchida-senpai on the shoulder. “All right, Kise-kun’s finally reaching the limit of his endurance. We’re putting Kuroko-kun in. Aomine.” She latched onto his ear again, hauling him down eye to eye. “You and Kuroko will double-team Kise to get the ball away from him or past him. We need to open up the lead, because Kaijou won’t just let us go.” She nodded toward the other bench, where, sure enough, the Kaijou players were gathered around Kasamatsu-san, still focused and intent.

“Not like you have to tell me,” Aomine complained, rubbing his ear, and then he slanted a sharp, wild grin at Tetsuya. “You ready?”

The tightness in Tetsuya’s chest loosened all at once, and he smiled back, tugging his wrist-warmers to settle them just as he liked. “Of course.”

He was better than all right. He wanted to laugh. He felt relief sparkling through his veins. This was the partner he remembered.

And when they stepped onto the court, it was the combination he remembered, his partner’s casual, perfect awareness of him as Tetsuya slid into the path of the ball and struck it back towards Aomine, turning his movement jagged and unpredictable. They shook Kise loose once, twice, and Kise caught them the third time but faltered again, stumbling on his landing from blocking Aomine’s shot. Tetsuya caught the wild-flying ball, spun, sent it scorching back to his partner, and Aomine slammed it home. It was hot, fast, incredible play, and Tetsuya gloried in it. Kaijou wasn’t giving way against it, though. Kasamatsu-san stole the ball back for a three-pointer, hauling Seirin’s lead back down to three points, and Aomine bared his teeth.

“Full court, Tetsu,” he breathed. “You can do it for me, can’t you?” And he was gone without waiting for an answer, sprinting down the court toward Kaijou’s basket.

That was all right. Aomine obviously knew what the answer was already. Tetsuya stepped over the boundary line, took the ball, and whirled the weight of it around himself until he could fire it back down the court, hard and heavy.

“Kurokocchi!” Kise yelled, and he was already nearly on top of Aomine; he’d known it was coming, too. Despite the danger of having the last ball they’d have time for stolen, Tetsuya smiled a little. Aomine. Kise. They both knew what he could do.

It was such a good feeling to have again.

Both Aomine and Kise went up, Aomine to dunk and Kise to block it, struggling against each other, each with a hand on the ball. For a long second, they seemed to hang there, perfectly balanced against each other, but then the balance tipped, broke, and Kise’s hand slipped as Aomine slammed the ball into the net.

The buzzer sounded.

Tetsuya’s mouth tightened as Kise stumbled again on landing and went down. Playing so hard against each other, the way they’d never been permitted to do before… he wasn’t surprised. Nor was he surprised when Aomine hesitated, standing over Kise, hand twitching uncertainly at his side. In that hesitation, it was Kise’s new captain who shouldered past Aomine and bent over Kise to give him a hand up. To lift him, when his legs gave out. Aomine turned away quietly to meet Tetsuya and the rest of his own team.

“You sure you don’t want to say anything?” Hyuuga-san asked, mopping his face as they went to line up. “I mean, it’s not like you have to forget you knew each other, even if you’re opponents, now.”

“There’s nothing the winner can say to the loser that would do any good,” Aomine said, low, and Tetsuya stepped up to his partner’s side, brushing his shoulder in passing.

He’d always wondered if maybe Aomine hadn’t really thought through the consequences of splitting the team the way Akashi had demanded (and Tetsuya had re-interpreted for his own purposes). If Aomine really did keep winning, he would have to face his teammates after they’d taken a true loss at his hands. He’d have to see Kise’s face twisted with the tears he was trying, for once, to hold back, and see someone else’s hand ruffling Kise’s hair, steadying him. It wasn’t in Aomine’s nature to think ahead like that, not like it was in Tetsuya’s. Tetsuya met Kasamatsu-san’s eyes as Kaijou’s captain supported Kise to face them, and bowed soberly.

He had known this was coming, and resolved himself to it months ago. It still hurt a little.

It wasn’t until they were leaving, until Aomine stubbed his toe on the stairs down from the arena and almost tripped, and Kantoku’s voice sharpened with concern, that he realized there were implications he hadn’t thought through enough either. Or maybe just hadn’t believed. When Kantoku and Aomine came back from the hospital, though, Kantoku’s face set and Aomine’s dark, he felt the true weight of those implications land like a rock in the pit of his stomach. A chill ran through him, like a cloud had crossed the sun and cut off the light.

“A week and a half off the court,” Kantoku told them, flat and grim.

“Are we going to use Kagami next week, then?” Hyuuga-san asked.

Riko-kantoku’s hands clenched hard for a moment. “No,” she ground out.

Kagami jerked upright from where he’d been leaning against the stage. “But…!”

“I said no!” Kantoku barked, rounding on him. “The doctor said two weeks, and it will be two weeks! I’m not letting anyone who’s injured set foot on the court!”

Kagami stepped back, eyes a little wide, hands raised, and Hyuuga-san rested a hand on Kantoku’s shoulder for a moment. “We’ll deal with it,” he said firmly.

Tetsuya took a slow breath and held on to the firmness of his captain’s words, to steady himself. They would deal with it. As a team.

Even if it was a team that didn’t include either of his partners.

Both Tetsuya’s partners were sulking when the team got to the Interhigh venue a week later. At least they were doing it quietly now, since Riko-kantoku had shown no tolerance for whining and actually made Koganei-senpai bring her a paper fan to smack both Kagami and Aomine with whenever they complained out loud. Momoi had looked enchanted with the idea, and it had been a lighter moment in the middle of the week’s frantic training toward today’s match.

Momoi was looking a lot more serious, now, as she did last-minute briefing while everyone got changed. “…so all of Touou’s players are strong, this year, and they have a real reputation for individual play, but you absolutely must keep your eye on their captain. Imayoshi-san is unquestionably the one who’s shaped Touou’s recent play style, and all of my sources agree that he’s frighteningly good at grasping the one thing you least want him to figure out.” She flipped her notes closed and finished, “Tetsu-kun. If he targets anyone, it’s most likely to be you.”

Tetsuya shrugged to settle his shirt over his shoulders. “There’s nothing to do but deal with it, if it happens.”

A hand landed on his head, ruffling his hair firmly. “Quit stealing my lines,” Hyuuga-san told him. “You can panic a little if you want to, you know. All four of you are way too calm to be first-years.”

“Yes, Captain,” Tetsuya agreed, calmly. All his senpai rolled their eyes, which amused him; someone, some time, had taught his current team how to tell when someone was teasing with a straight face. He wondered who it had been.

“All right, people,” Hyuuga-san said, louder. “Don’t lose your focus just because there isn’t a Miracle on the other side. Let’s go!”

It was so familiar, stepping out under the weight of the lights, week after week, to meet whoever faced them. Familiar and also not, because this time, every time, victory was uncertain. The uncertainly pulled Tetsuya’s nerves tight and made his breath faster.

It was part of what he played for.

Touou’s captain, Imayoshi, smiled as he shook Hyuuga-san’s hand, running an eye over the team. “Leaving both your aces on the bench? That’s a little overconfident, don’t you think?” Without changing his pleasant expression in the slightest, he added, “Or maybe just careless. I suppose you’re still a young captain. Perhaps you’ll learn, today, to take better care of them for the winter.”

Tetsuya could almost see the moment Hyuuga-san’s temper, always chancy during a game, snapped. He smiled back at Imayoshi, toothy. “I don’t need some snake-eyed bastard on the other side telling me that.” He turned on his heel and stalked to his position, glaring the shortest Touou player out of his way, and barked at his team, “Let’s go!”

Imayoshi actually clutched a hand to his chest. “So cruel!” Tetsuya saw the way he looked after Hyuuga-san, though. Measuring. Calculating. Perfectly cool. A little shiver went through him. Momoi had been exactly on target, as usual; this was their most dangerous opponent.

Indeed, even though Momoi had warned them to be on guard, Imayoshi still managed to intercept the tip-off and, when Hyuuga-san blocked him, passed the ball too high for Tetsuya to catch. It went to Touou’s outside shooter and left his hands again almost as fast as the one of Tetsuya’s own redirections. The first basket was Touou’s, and it was a three-pointer. Tetsuya’s team exchanged grim looks. This was going to be every bit as hard as Momoi and Riko-kantoku had projected.

Touou was fast and strong. The center who guarded their net on defense wrestled with Tsuchida-senpai for every ball. Their shooting guard looked even slighter than Tetsuya, but he shot fast enough that, even warned, Hyuuga-san had to fight to block even some of his balls. Their captain, their point guard, had a sharp eye for the flow of the game and always sent the ball toward a weak spot—the extra moment Izuki-senpai needed to get turned around, the instant Hyuuga-san was distracted by the threat of a pass to Sakurai, the opening behind Mitobe-senpai’s back the moment he stepped forward to screen.

Tetsuya took a breath and sank himself into that flow also, hearing the murmur of Momoi’s analysis in the back of his head. Their center had good accuracy up close but not at any distance; when he was away from the net, he always passed. Tetsuya slid into the path of the ball and turned it toward Hyuuga-san’s hands. Touou’s shooting guard was blindingly fast but that meant he never had as firm a grip on the ball as another player might. Tetsuya faded away from his marker and sprinted to strike the ball out of Sakurai’s hands. He could feel his team settling around him, settling in for a long fight, but always poised to receive the ball. Poised because Tetsuya was on the court, and they expected it of him, trusted him to intervene. Part of him basked in that feeling, in the reliance of his team.

But part of him was aware of Imayoshi’s eyes catching him, over and over again, like an unexpected hand dropping onto his shoulder from behind.

Still, they were holding on. By the middle of the second quarter, when the rest of Touou started being able to find him, too, Seirin was eight points ahead. Tetsuya tagged Koganei-senpai at the side-lines and dropped onto the bench between Aomine and Kagami, breathing hard.

“I will never get how you can be so calm in the middle of such a hot game,” Kagami told him, shaking his head.

“Tetsu? Calm?” Aomine stared at Kagami like he was crazy. “Tetsu’s never calm, he just doesn’t actually, you know, yell about things.”

Tetsuya huffed into the towel he was scrubbing over his face. “I can’t keep track of the game if I’m one of the ones yelling,” he pointed out, hanging it around his neck and reaching for his water. It was true; he had to pay close attention to what was happening to keep up with everyone else, to be in the right place for his passes. However much passion he brought to the game, he had to observe everything carefully, even himself.

He knew that wasn’t how his partners played. But he wasn’t like his partners. He wondered, sometimes, what it would be like to play hot and thoughtless the way they did. He knew it wasn’t how his game, his strength, would ever work, but sometimes he wondered.

The second-years were playing pretty hot, themselves, now, pushing to keep Seirin’s lead. Touou was pushing back, though, and Momoi made an annoyed sound between her teeth as Imayoshi feinted around Izuki-senpai and faded back for another three-pointer. “That man is entirely too good at faking opponents out,” she declared, clearly offended that even her scouting beforehand wasn’t quite enough of an edge to close Imayoshi down.

“He’s the one who’s making their individual plays work, too,” Kantoku agreed, mouth a little tight. “We’ll just have to tighten up our own coordination to stop them.”

Aomine had been watching the game with his elbows on his knees, head cocked a little as Kantoku moved down the bench a little, tracking play with a frown of concentration. “There’s something a little weird about Seirin that way, don’t you think?” He glanced over at Tetsuya and then back at Momoi. “About the second-years. I mean, they’re tight, yeah. Really tight. But, being as tight as that, shouldn’t they be able to make more advanced plays?”

Tetsuya made a thoughtful noise, considering his senpai’s play. Touou’s center back-cut around Mitobe-senpai. Hyuuga-san wasn’t quite close enough to interfere properly, and the center threw one of those ferocious passes to their shooting guard. “Mmm.” He had to agree; even knowing Seirin wasn’t a defensive team, he’d have expected someone as experienced as Hyuuga-san to catch that.

Momoi was nibbling her lower lip. “It’s…” She hesitated, which was uncharacteristic enough to make Tetsuya brows rise.

“Shut up, Aomine.” Kantoku didn’t look away from the court. “I know already, you don’t have to rub it in.”

“It isn’t your fault, Kantoku,” Momoi said softly, while Aomine was blinking.

“No, but it’s my responsibility, now.” Their coach took a slow breath and glanced down the bench at the suddenly questioning looks of every first-year on it. “I’m this team’s coach, yes, but my experience is in training, not strategy. Our strategist is… away right now.” Her hand clenched on her knee, and her voice fell. “Just a little longer. If we can just hold on a little longer; he’s almost ready to come back.”

Tetsuya tucked this new information away; it sounded like their team would be bolstered even more than he’d thought, if they could just win this round. He looked back at the game, focusing like he was out there himself, watching the pattern of the second-years’ plays. This was where he put his own fire, where almost no one ever really saw it, into his focus on his team and opponents. This was what he had to strengthen, to support, to make shine—the absolute solidity of Hyuuga-san’s outside shots, Mitobe-senpai’s steady judgement under the basket, Izuki-senpai’s grasp of position.

He could do it.

The second-years were wringing wet and panting when they came in for half-time, and fell on Mitobe-senpai’s honeyed lemons like wolves. Tetsuya was absently grateful that Kagami had brought a batch of his own, and offered them around to the first-years. Even, reluctantly, Aomine, though they got into a brief wrestling match over it when Aomine smirked and tried to take four at once.

“You know, I’m not even sure I’m joking about Dai-chan liking Kagamin,” Momoi said to Tetsuya, not all that quietly. “He acts just like a little boy pulling a little girl’s hair because he likes her.”

That had the effect Tetsuya had no doubt she’d intended, as both Aomine and Kagami broke off fighting with each other to protest. He smiled back, faintly, at her tiny grin, but most of his attention was still on the game—on what he’d seen, and how he’d need to play in the last quarter.

It was, he thought, a good thing he had stayed focused, because when they got to the fourth quarter, Seirin was down twelve points. Kuroko took a breath as he stepped out under the lights of the court and slid straight into the game as though he’d never left; in a way, after all, he hadn’t. He shadowed Izuki-senpai, following the quick signals of his glances to take the ball at unexpected angles and relay it to its true target. He stole passes to Touou’s Sakurai and fired them to Mitobe-senpai instead, in the moment no one was watching. He could hear the shouts from Seirin’s bench, hear the enthusiasm of both his partners. And he could feel his team shifting around him, pushing into a higher gear.

This was what he lived for, this feeling, this triumph of his game, of the strength he gave his teammates, over the opposing team. When the score turned over again, he thought the lightness of the moment might lift him off his feet.

When Imayoshi stepped up to mark him, he felt a chill cut through that glow.

“Will you listen to that?” Touou’s captain said, conversationally, waving a hand at the stands. “‘Can we stop Seirin’s energy’ indeed. You think they’d know better.” Imayoshi smiled, slow and predatory. “Did you know? There are some things you can only see in a mirror.”

Tetsuya frowned to himself and waited for the ball to go to Izuki-senpai, for Imayoshi’s attention to split so he could fade away and cut free. But Imayoshi stayed on him, close up, close enough to…

…close enough to watch his eyes.

Tetsuya pulled in a hard breath. Every time he glanced at Izuki-senpai, Imayoshi looked away from him. Looked at Izuki-senpai, too.

…only see in a mirror.

It happened again when Tetsuya tried to move to relay a pass between Hyuuga-san and Mitobe-senpai. Again, when he went to screen Hyuuga-san’s next outside shot. He couldn’t shake Imayoshi off, and the clock was ticking down. The score turned over in Touou’s favor. Again in Seirin’s favor. And Tetsuya didn’t have anything to do with any of it. He was blocked at every pass, and he could feel the team stumbling; it was worse than if he hadn’t been on the court at all, because they kept starting to rely on him and having to pull up short.

“It’s a double-edged sword, isn’t it?” Imayoshi murmured, still smiling. “The way you strengthen them. The way they rely on you. Very double-edged indeed.”

Tetsuya’s mouth tightened hard, and he met Imayoshi’s eyes, direct and intent. This time, he didn’t look away, stayed focused on his opponent and just moved. He had to hope Izuki-senpai would see and understand. And, sure enough, there was a flicker of movement at the corner of his eye, and Tetsuya spun away at the last moment to reach for the ball coming toward them.

Imayoshi’s hand slid in front of his, and he cut between them, fading back and back and finally going up for a three-pointer neither Izuki-senpai nor Tetsuya were in place to block. The ball arched through the air, slow and high, over the heads of the frozen players, and swished through the basket, giving Touou a two-point lead.

The final buzzer sounded.

Imayoshi looked back at Tetsuya again. “It was obvious they’d rely on you at the last,” he said, almost gently. “Seirin is a young team, and your strength conceals your weaknesses. Too bad, hm?” He turned away toward his team.

Cold slid through Tetsuya like a knife. Was he actually bad for his team, when Aomine or Kagami couldn’t be on the court? Had he led them to overestimate him, just because he wanted so badly to be acknowledged as a useful player? He went through line-up and the retreat to the changing room in a chill fog of wondering what he could possibly do now.

Everyone was silent in the wake of their loss, and the silence plucked at Tetsuya’s nerves. He was almost grateful for the metallic bang when Aomine punched one of the lockers.

“What the fuck good is it being a genius and all that shit, when I can’t use it?!”

Momoi roused at that, though her voice was quiet. “Dai-chan, you know why. None of you are developed enough to use your full strength for too long.”

Aomine growled.

“Don’t be silly, Satsuki-chan.” Aida-kantoku stood briskly from testing Hyuuga-san’s calves and ankles, and put her hands on her hips. “Now that I have a better gauge for just how much strain it does put on you, you bet your ass you’re going to be training to use your full strength for a full match, Aomine-kun.”

Aomine blinked at her like she’d suddenly turned on all the lights in a dim room. “…I am?”

“Of course you are!”

“But Riko-kantoku,” Momoi started, half hopeful and half alarmed.

Kantoku waved an impatient hand. “In middle-school, of course their bodies couldn’t sustain that kind of play for long! And it would have been crazy to try to train them up to it while they were still growing. But now…” she eyed Aomine thoughtfully, “now, I think you have all but an inch or two of your height, and that’s the important part. Now that your muscles and tendons aren’t constantly under the strain of growing longer, we can take all that effort and energy and pain and put it toward your training.” She gave Aomine a sunny, ruthless smile, and he grinned back the way Tetsuya hadn’t seen in a while, bright and excited.

Tetsuya started a little when that smile was turned on him.

“Hear that, Tetsu?” Aomine reached out and mussed his hair, through Tetsuya’s towel. “I won’t leave you alone out there again. You’ll have all the light you need.”

Tetsuya stilled, caught between relief and a twist of fear. This was what he’d wanted, what he’d worked for, but was it really enough? For the first time, he doubted it. Aomine promised him light. As much light as he needed, to play the way he always had. Enough light to bring out his strength.

Enough light to conceal his weakness?

Kagami’s snort broke the circle of his thoughts. “What makes you think someone like Kuroko, the one who hauled your ass to Seirin and dragged your head out of it too, will be satisfied with stopping there?” He tied his shoe with a rather ferocious jerk, set both feet firmly on the floor, and braced his hands on his knees, elbows stuck out aggressively. “We need to be stronger, yeah. So Kuroko can rely on us, the same way we rely on him.”

“I told you you rely on him too heavily,” Aomine jibed at Kagami. “I, on the other hand, have the perfect balance already.”

Momoi coughed meaningfully into her fist, and Aomine added, “Back again.”

“Oh, nice save.” Kagami applauded sarcastically, and Aomine jumped him, and their corner dissolved into wrestling again. The second-years groaned and rolled their eyes, and the whole room lightened a little.

Tetsuya just sat, not quite seeing what was in front of him, while Kagami’s words rolled through his head. Kagami, his other partner, thought he wouldn’t stop with the goal he’d just barely regained. Thought he’d keep going, keep building up his game. The idea unfolded slowly, like a flower opening up, until his chest felt full and tight with it. To be more, to want more… could he? Could he really? The memory of a hundred quiet moments of irritation or resignation, playing as Teikou’s shadow, came back to him.

Hadn’t he always wanted more?

Tetsuya took a long, shaky breath, feeling like he was looking up after staring at the ground for so long he’d forgotten there was anything else to see.

“Tetsu-kun?” Momoi’s hand was on his shoulder, and she was looking down at him with a shade of worry behind her smile. “Is everything all right?”

“Yes.” Tetsuya shook himself and looked up at her. “I think Kagami-kun is right,” he told her. “I… I need to be more, too. Will you help me?”

Her eyes turned wide and surprised. He supposed that wasn’t something she’d been in the habit of thinking, either. The surprise melted slowly into familiar determination, though. “Tetsu-kun. Of course I will.” She smiled, bright and fierce, the way she hadn’t since they’d come off the court today. “I’m Seirin’s analyst, aren’t I? I’ll find a way.”

Tetsuya nodded back firmly, feeling that determination settle into his thoughts and bones, heavy but comfortable. Yes. They’d find a way around his weaknesses, until his team could rely on him without danger.

He wouldn’t let his game end like this.

The new thoughts tugged at him, as Seirin gathered themselves up and started for home. He’d thought he came to Seirin, and brought Aomine with him, to prove the worth of the way he played the game. He had a team, here, that needed him and knew how he strengthened them. He had a team that wouldn’t let Aomine molder in apathy, that demanded he train properly and play properly. There was even Kagami, to spur Aomine out of his slump, to remind him that there were other strong players, to show him how a decent partner acted.

He’d thought that was all he wanted.

But when Kagami had spoken, so confident that Tetsuya wouldn’t be content with just that, wanting had flared up instantly. So instantly that Tetsuya knew it had to have been lying in his heart all this time, waiting for a spark. It had taken Kagami to make him see, to make him remember his old hopes from before Akashi had found him and told him his strength was a shadow’s strength, from before he’d gotten used to shadow victories.

Maybe it wasn’t just Aomine that Kagami could show how to play again. And when Tetsuya remembered how deliberately he’d set out to use Kagami to make Aomine jealous enough to wake up, he wondered, with a twinge of guilt, whether it wasn’t just Aomine that needed Kagami to show him how to play again.

When he and Kagami waved good night to Aomine and Momoi, and parted ways at the station, his thoughts finally spilled over into words.

“I’m sorry.”

Kagami glanced down at him, brows raised. “What for?”

“I used you for my own ends, to make Aomine-kun remember how to be a partner. And even so, you still have that much faith in me.”

“What, that?” Kagami snorted, stuffing his hands further into his pockets. “Don’t worry so much about it. Everyone plays for their own reasons; it’s not like you made me play the way I do. That’s just me.” He gave Tetsuya a sidelong look. “As for you, are you going to tell me you will let it end like this? Your game? Seirin’s game?”

Tetsuya’s response to the mere question straightened his spine in a rush of hot denial. “Of course not," he said firmly.

Kagami was grinning a little. “Thought not.”

“Being smug makes you look like Aomine-kun,” Tetsuya observed, and smiled just a tiny bit as Kagami’s vociferous objections echoed off the yard walls around them.

He walked on through the warm spring night, dwelling on the old, faint taste of playing for himself.

Last Modified: Sep 17, 13
Posted: Jan 30, 13
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Heads or Tails

Comes in the middle of "A Good, Free, and Unconstrained Will". Takao won the coin toss. Midorima doesn’t actually mind that. D/s, Porn, Fluff, I-4

It never stopped amazing Kazunari how easily Shintarou relaxed for him, in bed. All right, so he colored up adorably when Kazunari started unbuttoning his shirt, and tended to fall into flustered silence when he noticed Kazunari watching him slide his pants off and fold them neatly. But all the upright reserve that saw Shintarou through the day and let him ignore as unworthy of notice the strange looks his lucky items invariably drew eased out of him as he lay back against the sheets. As soon as Kazunari’s hands touched his skin, Shintarou seemed to let all that go, and by the time Kazunari’s fingers started working him open he was ready to spread his legs with perfect, unconscious wantonness and rock down onto Kazunari’s hand. Kazunari loved seeing him like this.

Of course, Shintarou did tend to keep an arm thrown over his face, but that was all right. For now.

“Ready?” he murmured, curling his fingers a little to rub Shintarou inside until he gasped, hips bucking up. “Mm, looks like it.”

“Yes,” Shintarou agreed, husky, wetting lips that were already bitten red. The sight made heat tighten through Kazunari, made his own voice rougher.

“Good.” He slid his fingers slowly free, savoring the tiny sound Shintarou made, and squeezed out a little more lube to slick over his cock. Shintarou lay waiting for him, breathing deep and quick, but still not looking. And that was why Kazunari let him keep that arm over his face for a while; he was, after all, a point guard, and no one should be surprised if he liked to be in control. The way Shintarou’s breath caught when Kazunari’s hands slid down his thighs to spread him wider, the open way he moaned when Kazunari’s cock pushed into him, the way he relaxed into Kazunari’s hands so easily, Kazunari loved all of those.

But after a few slow, rocking strokes to settle himself it was time for more.

“Shintarou,” he said softly, “give me your hand.”

No matter how many times they did this, that still made Shintarou gasp and tense a little. “Kazunari…”

“Shhh.” He reached up to rest a hand against Shintarou’s chest, steady and reassuring. “Give me your hand,” he repeated lower.

Slowly, Shintarou let the arm across his face fall and held out his bare fingers, unwrapped earlier at the same time he’d set aside his glasses.

Kazunari cradled Shintarou’s hand in both of his, holding those wide, uncertain eyes as he lifted it. The sudden flush in Shintarou’s face when Kazunari wrapped his lips around one finger and sucked, the soft moan Shintarou tried to catch back, nearly made him moan himself. Well, no, he lied; it was the things he knew were behind that flush and that moan. It was the fact that Shintarou guarded his hands so jealously and yet would trust them to Kazunari, even when uncertainty made the fingers in Kazunari’s hold tremble. It was the fact that the way Shintarou responded to having those sensitive fingers sucked was one of the few things that truly made him blush, in bed, but he would let Kazunari do it anyway. That was what made him so hard as he drove deeper into Shintarou, fucking him steadily while he played his tongue over Shintarou’s fingers just as slow and wet and dirty as possible. He fucked the tight heat of his partner’s ass hard and sure, and slid his lips and tongue over Shintarou’s shaking fingers until Shintarou was gasping, breath cut into quick little jerks. Until he was making a soft sound, almost a whimper, at the end of every thrust. Until he closed his eyes and whispered, “Kazunari,” with an edge of pleading in that low, controlled voice.

“Mmm.” Kazunari smiled, licking one last time down Shintarou’s fingers before he guided Shintarou’s hand down to wrap those wet fingers around his own cock. “Yeah. Show me. Let me see you, Shin-chan.” He closed both hands around his partner’s hips, lifting him up a little so Kazunari could fuck him harder, and the first thrust drove home just as long, talented fingers stroked hard down Shintarou’s cock.

Kazunari tried not to use cliches, but if Shintarou’s open moan wasn’t music it was still a sound that put a burst of heat down Kazunari’s spine. Shintarou was gorgeous like this, spread out and undone, lips parted around low gasps, fingers sliding with desperate hunger up and down the long, hard line of his own cock. Kazunari bit down hard on his lip to keep himself from coming immediately when Shintarou arched hard, head tipped back, and his body wrung itself out around Kazunari’s cock. He wanted to watch this. The velvety depth of Shintarou’s moan did him in, though, and he slid helplessly over the edge after him, hips jerking hard against the curve of Shintarou’s ass while the rush of pleasure made the world hazy.

The sight of Shintarou sprawled out afterwards, though, lax and flushed, was just as good.

Kazunari eased Shintarou’s legs back down and stretched out to settle against him, winding an arm around Shintarou’s ribs. “Good?” he asked softly. Shintarou nodded quietly and rested his bare fingers on Kazunari’s shoulder, lightly. Kazunari smiled and snuggled closer, satisfied with the sure knowledge that Shintarou would say yes the next time he suggested this.


Last Modified: Apr 11, 14
Posted: Apr 11, 14
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Evening of Primroses

Three moments in the developing relationship of Kagami, Aomine, and Kuroko as they all try to find a balance with each other. Romance, Fluff, I-3


Taiga had resisted for a long time, because there was such a thing as going down fighting, but the plain fact was that Aomine was cute when he was snitching food off someone.  Taiga wouldn’t have believed it if he hadn’t seen it, but Aomine did that thing where his eyes got brighter and he laughed while he made grabby hands at his target’s bento.  The thing was, he let himself be elbowed off, and only sidled back in for another try when he knew his target was watching.  It was a game.  At first Taiga had thought it was just to make Tetsuya pay attention to him, but then he’d started doing it to Taiga too, and that look Taiga kept seeing on Aomine’s face when he went to snitch another of Taiga’s meatballs was… 

Okay, fine, so he was probably just a sucker; Taiga admitted it.  He sighed as he forked noodles into the extra layer of bento boxes that he’d gotten new this week.  He was starting to have a lot more sympathy for Momoi, lately, seriously. And if this had only been more of Aomine’s competitive streak then he’d have been more than happy to fight it out to the death over the last croquette.  It was just…

The way Daiki looked at him, sidelong and uncertain under the laugh, made his chest ache.


Daiki liked sitting against Tetsu’s knees.  He liked being able to rest his head in Tetsu’s lap and feel Tetsu’s fingers run lightly through his hair.  And this way he could feel Tetsu laughing silently whenever Daiki made disparaging remarks at the television.

(Seriously, not even Daiki took risks that dumb; none of these guys should last ten minutes, let alone the whole hour and a half of an action movie.)

What was still a little stranger was to feel Kagami’s arm draped over his other shoulder from where he was sprawled out on the couch behind Tetsu like some kind of extra pillow.  Kagami was actually the one who’d suggested movie night in the first place, and he just seemed to take it for granted that there was no reason for him not to lean against Daiki, or smack him on the shoulder when he talked over the dialog, or stroke a warm hand down Daiki’s neck when he got up to get more drinks.

It felt… good.  

And if, sometimes, Daiki pressed back a little into Taiga’s arm and maybe even purred a little at the way Taiga’s thumb rubbed over his nape, well that was just a natural reaction, wasn’t it?  Really, Tetsu had no reason to be smiling down at them so softly.

He turned his head a little further into Tetsu’s lap and tried not to think too hard about why the warmth of Taiga’s hand made his shoulders relax.


Tetsuya would never admit it out loud, but he actually kind of liked how big his partners were, how completely he was enclosed when they both held him. It felt warm and secure, and he was more than willing to cuddle shamelessly down into that feeling.

Though he did have to roll his eyes, sometimes, at the way they bickered over his head.

"We are totally going to win this round, and you’re going down," Taiga declared firmly, at complete odds with the gentle way his hands were kneading up Daiki’s back.

"Already did that once today," Daiki smirked back.  "That’s all you’re getting."  The smirk was lazy, though, and he leaned into Taiga’s hands, snuggling Tetsuya closer into the curve of his body.

If it wasn’t so cute, Tetsuya might give them both a good jab in the ribs to remind them that they weren’t just playing a one-on-one, this weekend.  But it really was that cute, so he reached up to slide his fingers into Taiga’s hair and tug him down to a kiss, instead.  It worked just as well, in the end, and Daiki made a soft sound and bent his head to press a kiss to Tetsuya’s shoulder.  When Tetsuya reached back to stroke his fingers through Daiki’s hair as well, Daiki settled comfortably against his back, and Tetsuya smiled softly against Taiga’s mouth.  This was good, having both of them here, solid and warm, wrapped around him as close as it was possible to get.

He wouldn’t let this go.


A/N: In ikebana, primrose is used to indicate hope.

Last Modified: Aug 02, 15
Posted: Jun 07, 14
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Ring Led

Kuroko decides to push Aomine a little further, and offers to spank him for breaking his collar (again). Aomine is perfectly pleased, but Kagami needs a bit more reassurance. D/s, Porn, I-4

Daiki remembered that he’d asked Tetsu once, years ago after actually meeting Tetsu’s mom, whether he minded that his mom was away so often, traveling for work. He’d been curious. She’d seemed like the kind of parent a person could actually miss having around. He remembered that Tetsu had smiled and said that she was such a good mother when she was there that it lasted him through the times she wasn’t. At the time, Daiki had wondered if it could actually work that way, but he knew kind of what Tetsu had meant, now. Daiki’s collar was like that for him. (Even though he’d nearly sprained his neck trying to shake the idea out of his head when it first occurred to him, because he really didn’t want to be thinking about any parents at all in connection with collar-stuff.)

In any case, he was glad that Tetsu’s mom was off traveling tonight, because that meant that he and Tetsu and Taiga were all staying over at Tetsu’s house, and he needed that more than usual tonight.

Daiki fidgeted a little, on the walk from the station to Tetsu’s
house, the way he’d been fidgeting all day, having to hold himself back to keep from walking faster the closer they got. He didn’t think the other two had noticed that, but as
soon as they hung up their coats in the front hall Tetsu’s eyes
narrowed at him. Daiki wasn’t surprised; whenever the three of them were together, their necks
were the first place Tetsu’s eyes went to.

“Where is your collar?”

Daiki fished it out of his front pocket and held it up, snapped ends
dangling. “The chain broke.”

“Again,” Tai muttered, scuffing his house slippers on more firmly.

“It’s not my fault if they’re flimsy enough to break during practice,”
Daiki pointed out, looking down his nose. “I like having it on all the
time.” He really liked it a lot, which did mean a lot of wear and tear, he’d admit.

Tetsu would be rolling his eyes, if he were the sort to do that, Daiki
was pretty sure. “It’s a good thing I keep spares for you.” He plucked
the broken necklace out of Daiki’s fingers. “Come on.” He led the way
up the stairs to his room. Daiki grinned a bit, to see that two spare
futons were already spread on the floor; fitting the three of them into
a regular bed meant a lot of being careful not to elbow anyone in the
stomach, and sometimes it was nice to do something more energetic. He
could do with something energetic, after having the broken collar
itching at him all day. Tai promptly claimed the bed as a seat,
stretching his legs out and bunching the pillows up at his back, so
Daiki leaned in the doorway while Tetsu rummaged in the lower drawer of
his desk. Finally, he straightened, a new necklace of slim leather cord
just like the old one hanging from his hand.

“Come here.” Tetsu crooked a finger at Daiki and then pointed to the
floor before him. Familiar heat locked around Daiki, the heat of being
with Tetsu like this. He took two long steps away from the door and
sank to his knees at Tetsu’s feet, lifting his chin to bare his throat.
Tetsu smiled, and his fingers slid briefly through Daiki’s hair.
“Good.” The cool of the leather settling lightly around Daiki’s throat
made him shiver, and he had to close his eyes for a moment.

“You know,” Tetsu murmured, fingers stroking over the line of Daiki’s
new collar, “sometimes I think you let them break just so I’ll put
another on you.”

Daiki looked up at him, relaxed by the feeling of being collared again.
“You did say that you would, as often as necessary.”

The corners of Tetsu’s mouth curled up faintly, and he set his fingers
under Daiki’s chin, keeping his head tipped back. “I did, and I will.
Though I’m starting to wonder if I should punish you, when you break
another one, for putting me to the trouble.”

Daiki’s eyes widened at the sharp thrill of heat that sang through him.
He liked it when Tetsu pushed him, and also when Tetsu showed him a
limit and made him mind it. He had to swallow, and when he spoke his
voice was husky. “Punish me how?”

Tetsu made a thoughtful sound and was quiet for long enough that Daiki
bit his lip, starting to be a shade nervous. There were things Tetsu
could do that really would hurt, but… he didn’t think Tetsu would do
them. He didn’t think. Tetsu pushed him physically, but never
denied him, never pushed him away. When he felt Tetsu’s thumb sliding
along his lower lip, coaxing it free of his teeth, his breath caught
and he looked up to see that Tetsu’s eyes had turned gentle. He relaxed
again on a flood of warm relief and settled on his knees, waiting.

“Perhaps I should spank you,” Tetsu murmured. “Do you think that would
punish you suitably, Daiki? If I put you on your hands and knees and spanked you
until your ass was hot under my hand?”

Heat rushed through Daiki again, and he was sure he was flushed. That
was exactly the kind of thing he loved to take from Tetsu, and
something more intense than they’d tried yet. “Yes, Tetsu,” he managed.

Tetsu smiled slowly, thumb brushing back and forth over Daiki’s mouth.
“Then maybe I’ll give you your first spanking tonight, while Taiga

Daiki nearly moaned at that thought, at the idea of being watched while
Tetsu punished him. At least until a strangled sound from the bed made
them both look around. Tai’s hands were locked tight in the blankets
and his shoulders were taut.

“Tetsuya,” Tai started, sounding a little strained, “I don’t think I… I

“Taiga.” Tetsu squeezed Daiki’s shoulder and murmured to him, “Come.”
He went to Tai and straddled his lap, wrapping his arms tight around
Tai. Daiki did as he was told and stretched out beside Tai while Tetsu
held him, fingers stroking through that wild red hair. “It’s all
right,” Tetsu told their lover softly. “If you don’t want to watch, or
be present, that’s fine.” He leaned back just a little and cradled
Tai’s face in his hands as Tai looked up at him, uncertain. “But if
you’re worried, perhaps it would be better if you did stay. So you can
see for sure that I would never do anything to hurt either of you.”

Daiki could feel the shudder that ran through Tai, and the way he
slumped back against the headboard with a faint sigh. “Hey.” He nudged
Tai’s ribs, gentler than usual. “You were watching all of that, weren’t
you? I want it, Tai.” He smiled, slow and dark, and leaned in to nibble
on Tai’s earlobe and murmur, “I want it a lot. I want Tetsu to push me
to the edge and hold me up against it.”

Tetsu reached out and tugged Daiki’s collar taut with a finger hooked
under it, eyes dark and sharp. “I will hold you there. I’ll hold you

This time, Daiki felt Tai gasp and relax at exactly the same time he
did, and he’d bet money that Tai felt the same wave of want and
security. It was just the way Tetsu made them both feel. Tetsu smiled
and tipped Tai’s chin up with a finger under it. “Just think of it,” he
said softly. “The sounds Daiki will make, the way his breathing will
hitch with every stroke. The way he’ll spread his legs wider when his
ass starts to turn red under my hand. The way he’ll beg for more.”

Daiki moaned against Tai’s shoulder. “Fuck, Tetsu, you don’t have to
wait for that. Please spank me, spank me hard…” His cock
was hard already, just listening to this.

A quick glance down showed that Tai’s was, too.

“So.” Tetsu leaned in and kissed Tai’s forehead gently. “Do you want to
watch it, or would you rather not?”

“I…” Tai swallowed and took a breath. “I think I want to stay.”

“All right. Tell me if you need to stop.”

Tai nodded, shoulders finally softened into their usual line when they
were with Tetsu this way, relaxed and trusting. That was better; Daiki
liked seeing how Taiga trusted Tetsu. It made things feel right.

Tetsu tugged on Daiki’s collar again, making him shiver. “If you
need to stop, beg me for it.”

That would come easy, if he really did need it, and Daiki leaned
bonelessly against Tai, smiling. “Yes, Tetsu.”

“Good.” Tetsu eased back down the bed and pulled his shirt off, swift
and easy. “Take your pants off, then.”

While Daiki hopped off the bed to strip off his jeans, and socks and
underwear because anything else would just feel silly, Tetsu pulled Tai
to his feet and led him to one corner of the futons.

“Here.” Tetsu laid his hands on Tai’s shoulders and pushed him down,
following to kiss him slowly. In the middle of the kiss, he reached
down and undid Tai’s jeans, and Daiki made an appreciative sound. Tai
was definitely hard. Tetsu laughed low in his throat as he pulled away,
leaving Tai breathless, and looks back at Daiki. “As for you…” He scooted into the middle of
the futons and pointed in front of him. “Down on your knees and bend

Daiki did as he was told, cock jumping a little at hearing such a brisk
order from Tetsu, something that made it very clear who was in charge.
He spread his knees wide against the cotton blanket and bent down,
feeling his tank top, the only thing he was still wearing, slide up his
back a little. Tetsu’s hand stroked over his bared ass, slow and warm,
until Daiki sighed and rested his forehead on his crossed arms,

“That’s better,” Tetsu murmured. “There’s no reason to be tense, Daiki.
You’re all mine, and I’m going to spank you until you don’t have any
questions at all about who you belong to.”

Daiki moaned soft and wanting, and arched his back a little to offer Tetsu
his ass. “Yes, Tetsu…”

Tetsu’s hand lifted and came down again firmly, spanking him across one
cheek and then the other. One and then the other. Again and again, firm
and steady. The feeling of it set Daiki gasping. The smack of
every stroke was sharp in the room, and Tetsu’s hand on his ass stung
every time, but it felt good too. His ass felt warm and full,
and the knowledge that it was Tetsu spanking him, Tetsu’s hand
punishing him, made Daiki’s cock throb.

“Your skin is turning red and hot,” Tetsu murmured to him, pausing to
rub his palm over Daiki’s stinging bottom. “Do you like that, Daiki?”
He slapped Daiki’s ass again, sharply.

“Yes, Tetsu!” Daiki gasped, fingers closing in the sheets under them.

“Good.” Tetsu’s hand turned a little heavier as he started spanking
Daiki again. “Remember that this will be your punishment whenever I
have to put a new collar on you.”

Daiki moaned into the sheets, panting for breath with the heat building
under Tetsu’s hand, making his ass throb in time with his cock. It
almost really hurt, now, except that Tetsu’s hand lingered, giving his
ass a little rub after every sharp blow, easing the bite of it into a
slow burn, deep and intense. “Yes Tetsu, please,” he gasped, spreading
his legs wider, arms thrown out along the futon. It was so good,
feeling Tetsu’s control of him, Tetsu’s control of what he would feel
and how. And knowing he was being punished made him hard and

“You definitely like this, don’t you?” There was a smile in Tetsu’s
voice, and his other hand slid between Daiki’s legs to stroke his cock.
He spread Daiki’s burning cheeks apart and rubbed a finger over his
entrance. Daiki nearly came right then and there.

“Fuck, please Tetsu!” He whined when Tetsu rubbed his entrance a little
harder, and then gasped when Tetsu drew back and gave his ass a ringing
smack. “Tetsu!” It was good, so good, like being fucked really hard.
Tetsu’s other hand stayed wrapped around Daiki’s cock, fondling him as
Tetsu spanked him hard and sure, every stroke making Daiki jerk on his
knees and moan with the burst of sharp heat across his ass. “Tetsu,
Tetsu fuck, please!” Tetsu’s hand tightened on his cock and one last
punishing stroke across his ass sent fireworks down Daiki’s nerves. He
groaned as he came, shuddering in Tetsu’s hands.

Taiga hadn’t been entirely sure about this, at first, even though Daiki
had sounded so turned on by the idea. It was no secret Daiki was into
more extreme things than he was, after all. But he did trust
Tetsuya, and seeing Daiki spread out waiting for Tetsuya was undeniably

And… it sure didn’t sound like Daiki was in pain.

By the time Tetsuya was spanking Daiki hard enough to have made Taiga
wince before this he was also fondling Daiki’s very hard cock, and God
the sounds Daiki was making. He sounded, he looked like he
was being fucked. Fucked hard. And really liking it. Watching Daiki’s
ass turn red under Tetsuya’s hand and hearing Daiki begging hoarsely
for more was enough to set Taiga panting himself. It was hot, just as
hot to watch Daiki being taken this way as it was to watch Tetsuya
drive Daiki out of his head any other way. To watch Tetsuya so focused
on Daiki, so in control of his body and responses.

Even in the middle of that intent focus, though, Tetsuya gave Taiga a
warm little glance every now and then, checking on him, checking that
he was all right. That alone was enough to ease Taiga down into the
familiar heat of following Tetsuya’s lead. And that was what kept
Taiga’s hand off his own cock, even when Daiki finally came, sprawled
open under Tetsuya’s hands, so perfectly, wantonly sensual that Taiga
had to curl his fingers into the cotton under his knees. Tetsuya hadn’t
said he could touch himself yet.

So he watched, breathless and hot and really hard, as Tetsuya eased
Daiki down to the futon, murmuring to him that he was very good, that
everything was all right, that he’d done just as he should. Daiki
relaxed under those words, curling up on his side and watching Tetsuya
and Taiga with dark, sleepy eyes, flushed and smiling. Tetsuya leaned
down and pressed a kiss to his temple.

And then he rose and came to Taiga.

Taiga looked up at his lover, lips parted with how quickly he was
breathing. “Tetsuya…”

Tetsuya smiled for him and ran slow fingers through Taiga’s hair.
“Yes.” He knelt between Taiga’s spread knees and pulled Taiga down to a
kiss. Taiga moaned into his mouth as Tetsuya’s hand closed on his cock,
wrapping his arms tight around Tetsuya and holding on.

“That’s good,” Tetsuya told him, voice soft and sure, hand working
slowly up and down. That hand was warm, far warmer than skin-heat, and
Taiga’s breath caught as he realized. That was the hand Tetsuya had
been spanking Daiki with—but it was gentle on him, so gentle, and Taiga
had to bury his head against Tetsuya’s shoulder, moaning.

“Shh.” The fingers of Tetsuya’s other hand slid through his hair,
cradling his head. “I have you, Taiga, I have you safe. It’s all right.
Just feel.”

Heat swept him down, deep, so deep he couldn’t do anything but shudder
as long waves of pleasure raked through him. That soft assurance that
Tetsuya saw the differences between Taiga and Daiki, would hold Taiga
the way he needed to be held, undid him so completely he was
almost sobbing for breath against Tetsuya’s shoulder. Tetsuya held him
until he quieted, fondling him gently until Taiga was wrung dry.

When Tetsuya finally coaxed Taiga down to the bedding, he willingly
settled against Daiki, lying quiet as Tetsuya sat by them and petted
them gently. It was Daiki who finally stirred and looked up at Tetsuya.

“You haven’t…” he started, suggestively, and Tetsuya laughed and set
a light finger against his lips.

“I’ve had both of you trust me and give yourselves up to me completely,
tonight. I have what I want.”

Daiki colored a little and ducked down against Taiga’s shoulder, and
Taiga huffed a bit of a laugh, holding him closer. Daiki was the one
who would try anything, who loved the edge, who wanted to be pushed,
but he got all shy whenever Tetsuya laid out the emotional
stakes in so many words. Taiga rested his head on Tetsuya’s knees,
reassured that Tetsuya knew how completely he held them both.

Tonight had reminded Taiga of why he did.

He let his eyes fall closed and relaxed against the futon with Daiki in
his arms, feeling the slow slide of Tetsuya’s fingers through his hair.
This was where he belonged.

When Tetsuya’s fingers stroked lightly over the slim cord of his
collar, Taiga smiled.


Last Modified: Apr 15, 14
Posted: Apr 15, 14
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Kagami and Aomine have a quiet moment together–so quiet that Kagami wonders a little how they got to be like this. Fluff, I-2

Character(s): Aomine Daiki, Kagami Taiga
Pairing(s): Kagami/Aomine

One of the things that had come as a surprise to Taiga—and this was saying something considering that he’d never, ever expected to be in a B&D relationship, let alone a threesome of the same—one of the things was that Daiki was a cuddler when they were together.  At first, he’d used the couch as an excuse; it was a good excuse, because Taiga’s couch was only two cushions while Daiki’s couch sagged in the middle.  But it hadn’t taken long before the only excuse Daiki needed was for Taiga to be in arm’s reach, and pretty soon he’d be wrapped around Taiga like a blanket.

Taiga liked it.  It was just unexpected.

If he’d expected anything, it was that they’d be kind of like they were on the court, where they pushed each other until they were both swaying on their feet and gasping for air.  It was wild and hot and intense, which seemed to be what Daiki liked best.  That was how they were in bed, a lot of the time.  It was out of bed and off the court that Daiki turned quiet and cuddly like this.

Taiga stared up at the ceiling of Daiki’s room, running his fingers slowly through Daiki’s short, sleek hair, and finally decided he would ask.  “Hey.”  He spoke softly in the afternoon quiet of the room.  

Daiki stirred, only to wind tighter around him, like a cat who wanted to keep Taiga right where he was, and made an inquiring noise against his shoulder.

Taiga smiled a little helplessly and cuddled Daiki closer, breathing out a sigh at the warm weight of him.  “I never thought you’d be this relaxed around me,” he murmured against Daiki’s hair.

Daiki shrugged a lazy shoulder.  “Easy to relax.  You didn’t let me down.”

Taiga’s smile turned wry.  “Yeah, but you usually relax by dragging me onto the nearest court and trying to beat me until we’re both falling over.”

Daiki roused long enough to poke him in the chest.  “Hey.  What do you mean ‘try’?”  He flopped back down heavily, driving Taiga’s breath out, and wrapped back around him.  After a moment, he added, “You’re Tetsu’s.”

Well, okay, yeah, that made some sense.  Taiga settled under Daiki, hand sliding up to rub his back.  “Anything he wants, hm?”

"Well, that too."  Daiki tilted his head back to look at Taiga, so perfectly serene that Taiga’s breath caught.  "Tetsu makes things happen right.  Whatever it takes."

"Yeah," Taiga said quietly after a few seconds.  "Yeah, he does."  As Daiki curled back up with a satisfied sound, Taiga held him close, deliberately setting down his doubts and expectations and just accepting Daiki’s warmth against him.  He had his answer, and it was a good one.

Tetsuya did make things happen right.  But maybe he also needed his partners to help him do it.

Taiga smiled up at the ceiling and held Daiki closer.


Last Modified: Apr 25, 14
Posted: Apr 25, 14
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Fitting to the Crime

Kasamatsu and Kise play bed games, and Kise gets the punishment he deserves. (And, more importantly, the spanking he wants.) D/s, Porn, I-4

Pairing(s): Kasamatsu/Kise

Kasamatsu Yukio liked to think that he was a straightforward kind of guy. He could blindside opponents as well as any other point guard, and better than most in fact, but that was different. That was just good strategy. Friends and classmates and, for that matter, lovers, weren’t a matter for strategy. So it took him a few minutes, especially in the afterglow of pretty damn good sex, to realize what Ryouta’s little sidelong glances meant. When he did, he couldn’t help laughing, pulling Ryouta tighter against him and ruffling his already rumpled gold hair. “You’re just insatiable, aren’t you?”

Ryouta’s cheek heated against Yukio’s shoulder as he ducked his head, but he was smiling, shy and hopeful. And since Yukio didn’t have to be Ryouta’s captain any more, and it wasn’t one of Ryouta’s infuriating pretend ploys, Yukio let fond indulgence curl warmly through him and cuddled Ryouta comfortably against him. He didn’t mind playing their other game, today, if Ryouta wanted it. “So,” he murmured, carding his fingers through that bright hair, “were you good for your senpai at practice today?”

Ryouta made a tiny, gleeful sound at the question, and the offer in it, before composing himself appropriately. “I’m afraid not, senpai.” The way he bent his head would have looked genuinely contrite except for the sparkle of his eyes as he looked up under his lashes.

“No?” Yukio gave him a stern look, setting his fingers under Ryouta’s chin to tip his head up and meet Yukio’s eyes. “What did you do, Ryouta?”

“Well, Hayakawa-senpai was trying to beat his own record for successful passes after a rebound.” Ryouta already sounded a little breathless, eyes wide under Yukio’s steady gaze. “And I just mentioned that maybe it would help if he kept his energy up longer, and that I had a spare bottle of Yunker Fanti. Nakamura-senpai said that really wasn’t the problem, but Hayakawa-senpai had already drunk the whole bottle.”

Yukio had to bite his tongue hard to keep from bursting out laughing; he suspected Ryouta deliberately thought up answers to that question that would make him laugh, and Yukio just hoped he wasn’t actually putting them into practice. Honestly, if Ryouta was really doing half the things he said he did when they played like this it was a wonder Nakamura hadn’t strangled him yet. The thought of Hayakawa after even one slug of an energy drink didn’t bear thinking on, and a whole bottle was downright terrifying to contemplate. When he thought he could control his voice again, he frowned at Ryouta. “That definitely wasn’t being good for your senpai. You know what it means when you misbehave, don’t you?”

Ryouta lowered his eyes and wet his lips as a flush slid up his fair skin. “Yes, senpai,” he said, soft and husky.

Yukio sat up, sliding back until he could ball up a pillow against the headboard at his back, and tapped his outstretched thigh meaningfully. “Get in position, then, and take what’s coming to you.”

Ryouta was a little breathless with anticipation by the time he’d laid himself down over Yukio-san’s lap. Sometimes they did it differently; sometimes Yukio-san made him bend over with his hands on the wall, or kneel on the seat of the desk chair and hold on to its back. This was how he liked it best, though, so that he could relax with Yukio-san’s hand on his back steadying him while the other hand rubbed his obediently presented ass slow and sure. Yukio-san was always careful about preparing him for a spanking, and that always made Ryouta hard, feeling the slow slide of Yukio-san’s palm and not knowing when his punishment would start.

In fact, sometimes Yukio-san took long enough for Ryouta to get a little impatient.

“Senpai,” he lilted, and then yelped when Yukio-san smacked his ass once, sharply.

“Be quiet, Ryouta,” Yukio-san told him sternly, squeezing the faintly stinging spot.

Ryouta shivered and subsided as he was told, waiting while anticipation wound tighter. And tighter. When Yukio-san finally lifted his hand and brought it down firmly, he yelped and jumped even though it didn’t hurt very much at all. This time, though, Yukio-san wasn’t stopping, and each smack of his palm against Ryouta’s bare ass was a little harder than the last. Ryouta’s breath came shorter as the slowly growing sting of the blows built to a hot burn across his bottom. He was gasping with each firm stroke, and still Yukio-san held Ryouta down over his lap and spanked him steadily, until he lost count of the strokes, until he felt like his whole body was suspended from that slow burn, all his attention focused on how briskly Yukio-san’s hand met his upturned ass. He was moaning a little by the time Yukio-san paused, running his warm hand up and down Ryouta’s thigh.

“Are you sorry for what you did, yet?” Yukio-san asked sternly, and Ryouta blushed against the cool sheets under his cheek. Most of him was swept up in the heat of being punished by Senpai, but part of him was also warmed that Yukio-san was so good to him, so careful with him.

He didn’t want it to end yet, though, so he answered with perfect truthfulness, “No, Senpai.”

“Tch. Of course not.”

Ryouta bucked, eyes widening as Yukio-san spanked him ten times, fast and hard. By the end of it he was draped over Yukio-san’s lap, legs spread, panting for breath against the sharp burn throbbing in his ass. And also in his cock.

“You are naughty today,” Yukio-san murmured, and that hint of a purr in his voice as his hand rubbed circles over Ryouta’s bottom made Ryouta moan.

“Yes, Senpai,” he agreed, breathless, forehead pressed to the sheets, eager for his punishment to continue.

He didn’t have to wait long. Yukio-san’s hand on his back spread, holding him down, and the hand on his ass lifted. When it fell again, it came down with a crack of skin against skin and a fierce, hard sting across his burning cheeks. And again. And again. Ryouta whimpered, hungry for the intensity of those blows, for the certainty of being punished by Senpai.

“Look at you,” Yukio-san told him softly. Crack. Ryouta bucked over his lap at the sharp bite of Senpai’s hand on his ass.

“This is how a naughty boy should look.” Crack. Ryouta’s toes were curling up with every stroke.

“Bent over his senpai’s knee with his ass turning red from getting the spanking he deserves.” Crack. Ryouta whined, mouth open as he gasped for breath. His ass was on fire, and he was so hard, hard from the things Yukio-san was saying, hard from how much he was feeling. Two more of those punishing strokes, though, and he could feel his shoulders tightening, feel himself pressing up against the edge of too much. “Please, Senpai!” he gasped out.

Yukio-san brought his hand down one more time, hard and merciless. It was perfect, the perfect reminder that Yukio-san was the one in charge, the one who would choose how Ryouta was punished. All in a breath, Ryouta was over the edge, coming hard as he shuddered over Yukio-san’s lap and Yukio-san squeezed his burning bottom, slow and firm. For long, endless moments, Ryouta’s whole body was wringing out with the heat Yukio-san had spanked into his ass, and Ryouta just clutched at the sheets and moaned with it.

When he finally relaxed, draped across Yukio-san’s lap and dazed, Yukio-san told him softly, “Good, Ryouta. That was good.” His hands were gentle, now, as he rubbed Ryouta’s back slow and sure, grounding him again, and Ryouta sighed a little, eyes closed. Those words reminded him there would be arms to catch him and hold him as he came back down, so he let himself drift.

Yukio watched Ryouta carefully as he rubbed Ryouta’s back slow and easy, and nodded when Ryouta finally stirred and stretched a little. “Come here, Ryouta,” he coaxed quietly, guiding Ryouta up off his lap and back into his arms. “That’s right. Everything’s all right.” He leaned back against his pillows, ignoring the mess across the sheets and his thighs for now, and drawing Ryouta down against his chest so he could lie without any pressure on his rear. He held Ryouta close, running slow fingers through his hair, until Ryouta finally sighed and looked up, smiling. “All right?” Yukio asked, touching his cheek.

Ryouta nodded and snuggled closer. “It’s good. Thank you, Yukio-san.”

Yukio kissed his forehead gently. “My pleasure. You know that.”

“I meant…” Ryouta started, and Yukio laid a finger over his lips.

“All of it is my pleasure,” he said, firmly. “Including watching over you and taking care of you.”

Ryouta turned pink and ducked his head against Yukio’s shoulder. Yukio smiled softly, stroking his hair again. It was true; he liked knowing Ryouta would submit to punishment from him, and he liked just as much knowing that he could take care of Ryouta.

This care, this charge, this responsibility, he had succeeded in. Without question.

He cradled Ryouta closer, satisfied.


Last Modified: May 08, 14
Posted: May 08, 14
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Flirting With…

Imayoshi may have a bit of an exhibitionist streak, and Kasamatsu may be incapable of turning down a challenge, and this may eventually get them both in trouble. They should probably stop–but maybe not just yet. Porn, I-4

Imayoshi Shouichi was enjoying himself.

So was his current partner, to judge by the sounds Kasamatsu was making, and Shouichi leaned closer, pressing Kasamatsu more firmly up against the wall to purr in his ear, “Careful, now.  You don’t want anyone looking down here, do you?”

Kasamatsu pushed him back far enough to glare at him in the dimness of the arena service hall they were currently taking advantage of.  “Like you’d care,” he hissed.  “You like doing this practically in public.”

Shouichi smiled charmingly at his favorite rival, mostly to hear the way it made Kasamatsu growl.  “So do you,” he pointed out, sliding a hand down to cup Kasamatsu’s cock, which was very definitely hard by now.  Kasamatsu bucked into his hand with a stifled gasp before catching his breath.

"I," he told Shouichi in a dire, if very hushed, tone, "need to learn to duck faster every time I see you off the damn court."  

Of course, he immediately undercut the pronouncement by tangling his fingers back in Shouichi’s hair and pulling him down to another kiss, hot and fierce.  Shouichi laughed into his mouth; he loved playing with Kasamatsu, both on the court and off.  “So what,” he murmured against Kasamatsu’s mouth, “would you think if I turned you around and fucked you just like this?”

"I’d think you were dreaming."  Kasamatsu’s voice was amazingly dry for a whisper.  There was a glint in his eyes, though, one Shouichi recognized, and a grin curled his lips as he waited for the next part.  "If you wanted to put that mouth of yours to another use, though, I might just let you."

Shouichi laughed at that challenge.  He loved how sharp Kasamatsu’s edges could get, and how subtle they could be.  “That might be fun, yeah.”  He slid down to his knees on the dusty tile floor, grinning up at Kasamatsu as he hooked his fingers in Kasamatsu’s waistband and pulled it down.  “Let’s find out.  And see how quiet you can be while I’m making that ‘better use’ of my mouth.”

Kasamatsu’s eyes on him turned hot and dark, and he slid his fingers through Shouichi’s hair, tugging him closer.  “Yeah, let’s.”

Shouichi wrapped his mouth around Kasamatsu’s cock and purred a bit at the very satisfying way he moaned.  That was a good start, and so was the way Kasamatsu’s fingers tightened in his hair.  He sucked hard, reaching up to pin Kasamatsu’s hips to the wall when they bucked forward.

"You are such a bastard," Kasamatsu gasped.  "I don’t know why I keep agreeing to this."

Shouichi’s brows rose and he drew back long enough to murmur, “What, really?”

Kasamatsu bared his teeth, laughing low and breathless.  “Well, maybe I do.”  

Shouichi smiled back, sharp, and let Kasamatsu pull him back in, sucking down the thickness of his cock and humming around it.  He liked it when Kasamatsu admitted just how wicked his edge could be.

He also liked the sounds Kasamatsu was making, husky and low, louder whenever Shouichi tongued him, but then caught back at once.  It was hot, hearing how conscious Kasamatsu was that they were in a public place, that this might be a service hall but it wasn’t that far from the changing rooms teams had been assigned, thinking about what they would look like if anyone happened to pass by and glance down this side hall.

Kasamatsu was starting to arch taut under his hands when Shouichi heard footsteps.

Kasamatsu’s fingers tightened in his hair, and his moan had a desperate edge.  He was too close to hold back now.  Maybe he didn’t even want to.  Shouichi sucked on him harder, fingers digging into the lean muscle of Kasamatsu’s thighs, and Kasamatsu shuddered against the wall, making hoarse, stifled sounds as he came.  Shouichi licked at him, half his attention on the footsteps tapping and scuffing down the hall.  Closer.  

Past the service hall they were in.

Shouichi closed his eyes and let himself feel the hot thrill of how close they were to being seen, being discovered like this, let it run through him and pull him right down after Kasamatsu.  He clutched Kasamatsu’s thighs, swaying against him as heat wrung him out hard, pulsing through him sweet and wild.  When it finally ebbed again, he leaned his forehead against Kasamatsu’s hip, panting.

Kasamatsu’s fingers combed through Shouichi’s hair and he murmured, “Pervert.”  There was a laugh under the softness of his voice, though, and Shouichi looked up to flash him a smirk.  They both knew Kasamatsu didn’t actually have any room to talk.

"So."  He levered himself back to his feet.  "Think that’ll take the edge off until we actually play tomorrow?"

Kasamatsu pulled his pants back up and stretched against the wall, lazy and satisfied.  “I suppose so.  Probably.”  He laughed at the mock-indignant look Shouichi gave him and leaned in to nip at Shouichi’s lower lip.  “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Shouichi caught him close for long enough to kiss him, hot and intent; a teaser for the next day.  “Until then.”

He stored away the flash of Kasamatsu’s eyes to tide him over until they could meet on the court.

And maybe after.


Last Modified: Aug 02, 15
Posted: May 02, 15
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