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christmas lights (you & i)

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Kagami kisses Kuroko for the first time during the tail end of November, right when winter’s chill is starting to creep into the air. His mouth is a warm brand against Kuroko’s, a better balm for the cold than any jacket or blanket.

“Go out with me,” Kagami says, rubbing a thumb across Kuroko’s slightly swollen bottom lip. “Please,” he adds a second later, tacked on the end almost awkwardly, like an afterthought.

Kuroko’s cheeks are flushed pink from embarrassment or the cold, he's not quite sure which. “You got the order wrong,” he says inanely, still a little dazed from the kiss.

“What?” There's a little furrow between Kagami’s (still ridiculous, even after knowing him for so long) eyebrows that betrays his confusion. Kuroko has an urge to smooth it out that he only barely resists.

“You're supposed to ask me out before you kiss me, Bakagami,” Kuroko sighs, just a touch overdramatically. It’s difficult keeping his face stoic as usual when all his mouth seems to want to do is twitch up into a smile. “There’s an order to these kind of things.”

Kagami’s hand curls gently around Kuroko’s chin, tilting it up just the slightest amount. “Say yes, then.”

“Yes,” Kuroko breathes out before he can help himself, and then Kagami kisses him - softly, gently, endlessly - until he can’t remember what he was protesting in the first place.

As things do, word gets out quickly despite Kuroko’s best efforts to keep their relationship under wraps. He’s not ashamed of Kagami by any means, but there’s just some things better kept quiet, at least until he can tell people himself.

By the end of their first week dating, though, Kuroko has received an untold amount of well-wishes and vague (along with not-so-vague) threats against Kagami’s person from all of their friends and teammates, past and present. Everything is par for the course with Kuroko’s expectations, and none of the messages really bother him, but there is one that stands out.

Kise’s message is one of the later ones that Kuroko receives, probably due to the fact that he’s currently out of the country for a photoshoot. ٩(✿∂‿∂✿)۶ Kurokocchi!!!!! Congrats on your relationship with Kagamicchi!!!! ♡〜٩( ˃́▿˂̀ )۶〜♡

It’s standard Kise fare: too many exclamation points and an influx of unnecessary emoticons, but underneath the usual mess, there’s also a link to a website with another message ( good - no !! great!!!! date ideas!! *✲゚*。✧٩(・ิᴗ・ิ๑)۶*✲゚*。✧ ).

If pressed about it later on, Kuroko would blame a slow and boring lecture in his biology class for forcing into clicking the link instead of ignoring it like he usually would.

It’s a silly website, filled with overly dramatic and sappy date ideas for every season. There's even an endorsement from Kise himself in the right hand corner with a speech bubble popping out of his smiling mouth that says, “ Satisfaction guaranteed!! ” in sparkling letters.

The winter section of the site is decked out in blue and white with softly drifting snowflakes in the background. Christmas eve is the most romantic time for couples! ♥♥♥Take these date ideas and cement your love under the falling snow! ♥♥♥

It should be ridiculous, but there’s something strangely compelling about the ideas presented there. Kuroko rubs his thumb contemplatively over the image of a smiling couple bundled up in scarves and hats on his phone screen. Kagami and him are  dating, but the most romantic thing they’ve done so far is share a milkshake from Maji Burger, which was something they did as friends too so it doesn’t even really count.

The more time Kuroko spends on the site, the more the idea of a Christmas eve date starts to appeal to him. Walking under the lights with Kagami would be nice, Kuroko thinks,  and maybe a dinner at a good restaurant - maybe not the ones recommended on the site, but one with big enough portions for Kagami’s voracious appetite - wouldn’t be too bad either. It would be their first time spending a big holiday together, too, and a romantic memory would be just the right thing.

Energized by the website, Kuroko spends the rest of the lecture planning out a perfect Christmas eve date instead of taking notes. Even when one of the site that he visits starts playing Christmas carols, no one even looks up, and the professor just continues to drone on and one about the visual system. Misdirection is so useful even outside of basketball.

When the class finally lets out, Kuroko scurries out of the classroom doors as quickly as he can, ducking into the first empty alcove he can find to make a call. “Hello,” Kuroko says, when a smooth voice answers on exactly the third ring. “I’d like to make a reservation at your restaurant.”

 On Christmas eve, Kuroko wakes up feeling like death, or more accurately, like death is about to drag him down to hell and run him through a meat grinder.

He had spent the night at Kagami’s apartment yesterday instead of his dorm room in hopes of getting a head start on his Christmas eve date plans, but it’s obviously backfired on him. It’s past noon - three hours after he had planned on waking up today - and Kuroko can hear the sounds of a basketball game on TV filter in from the living room.

An itch scratches uncomfortably at the back of his throat, and somehow his nose is both completely stuffy and running at the same time. With every suppressed cough and unwanted sniffle, Kuroko feels all of his well-laid plans slipping away from him.

The click of the door opening pulls Kuroko’s attention away from his nose and throat, and he glances up just in time to see Kagami poking his head into the bedroom.

“Hey,” Kagami says, stepping into the room. He walks toward the bed and sits on the edge next to Kuroko. “I was wondering when you were going to get up.”

“I’m up,” Kuroko says, running his sleeve across the bottom of his nose. It doesn’t really help with the mucus clogging up his nostrils, but it’s something to do at least.

“You look pretty sick,” Kagami says, frowning. He brushes the back of his hand across Kuroko’s forehead and barely suppresses a wince. “You’re feeling pretty warm right now, too. Maybe we should just stay in today, Kuroko.”

“M’not sick,” Kuroko mumbles before spending the next thirty seconds trying to cough out his own lungs. He caps off the statement with a huge sneeze that has Kagami jerking away from him. “Completely healthy.”

“Of course,” Kagami says, wryly with a shake of his head. “I’m sure all that sneezing and sniffling you’ve been doing the past few days is just part of your normal behavior, right?”

“Exactly.” Kuroko sniffs haughtily, but the effect is somewhat ruined by the fact that sniffing only makes his running nose even worse. “I am totally healthy and fit, Kagami-kun.” He lifts an arm weakly and pats his bicep. “Just look at these guns.”

“They’re great,” Kagami deadpans. “Still doesn’t mean that you aren’t sick, Kuroko.”

“I can definitely still go out, though.” Kuroko disentangles himself from the blankets, which takes only slightly longer than is socially acceptable. “I don’t even feel that -” Stepping off the bed was a bad decision, Kuroko discovers, as he curls up on the ground after his shaky legs gave out on him. Kagami’s cry of shock only makes the whole thing even worse.

“...Maybe I’ll feel better later?” Kuroko tries, not even bother to hide the fact that he’s clinging to Kagami as he’s picked up and placed back on the bed. “I was really looking forward to going out…”

“Definitely,” Kagami agrees readily. He busses a rough kiss against the top of Kuroko’s head, neatly bypassing Kuroko’s wandering hands trying to pull him down for more intimate affections, before heading out of the bedroom. “I’ll make some soup and bring you some medicine, okay? Just rest up.”

By the time that the sun starts to set, Kuroko is feeling even worse than before. Like he’s been through the meat grinder and now it’s time for the trash compactor bad.

Kagami’s been in twice already - once to feed him some soup, which Kuroko is sure is delicious but tastes basically like liquid cardboard on his sick tongue and give him some medicine, and the second time to change the sheets after Kuroko had sweat through the first set.

“I wanted to see the lights with you,” Kuroko mumbles the third time Kagami comes in to check on him. He’s a little delirious from his fever and the cough that started as an itch is now a heavy sore that won’t allow him to rest comfortably. Inexplicably, he feels tears pricking his eyes.  “I wanted to go eat a nice dinner and hold hands with you.” He blinks rapidly, and the tears trickle out; he’s too tired to try and wipe them away.

Kagami brushes them away instead, fingers gentle against his cheek. Pushing Kuroko’s sweaty bangs away from his forehead, Kagami tell him, “Go to sleep, Kuroko. The lights and the restaurant will still be there when you get better, too.”

“Mmnh,” Kuroko says, burrowing his head underneath the covers. Maybe it’s the illness making everything seem worse than it really is, but he feels so sad right now, like his despair is going to swallow him whole. It’s disappointment compounded by a bone-sore weariness, and Kuroko’s definitely not in the mood for comfort or rational arguments.

Kagami’s quiet for a moment before he sighs quietly. “I’ll come back later with some more soup, okay? Just try to get some rest.” A soft touch against the crown of Kuroko’s head through the blanket is the last thing he feels before he drifts off to an uneasy and restless sleep.

When Kuroko wakes up again, it’s already pitch dark outside; the only light in the bedroom is the barely there stripe that peeks through the bottom of the door. It’s too late to do anything tonight, and a glance at the alarm clock on the night stand confirms his belief.

“Kagami?” Kuroko calls, voice a little raspy from sleep and disuse. Clearing his throat only leads to a coughing fit, smaller now and less painful, but still annoying enough that he scrunches up his nose in distaste.

There’s no response, though Kuroko can hear sounds in the living room, the TV or maybe music, so he knows that Kagami’s somewhere in the house at least. Bundling the blanket up around him, Kuroko tentatively places a foot on the bare floor, testing his weight. When it holds, he pulls himself out of bed, the blanket trailing behind him like a cape.

The trip to the door goes smoothly, and Kuroko sighs ruefully. If only he had felt better earlier. When he steps out into the hallway, it’s darker than he thought it would be. The only light he can see is at the end, shining dimly.

“Oh, Kuroko!” Kagami says when he sees him standing in the hallway. He rushes over to Kuroko and tucks an arm around his waist to steady him. It's unnecessary, really, but Kuroko feigns weakness and leans into the touch anyway. “You're up! Ah, but I'm not done yet…”

“What did you do?” Kuroko asks, trying and failing to peek around Kagami’s large frame to see into the living room.

Kagami sighs a little, but tugs him along out of the hallway anyway. “I was trying to get this all done before you woke up, but since you’re already awake... “

The living room lights are darkened, and in their place are strings upon strings of glowing lights. Some gleam brightly white like little stars, while others are a myriad of colors that blink on and off in time to the music playing softly in the background. There are lights shaped like snowflakes, and lights with strings that are nearly invisible so it looks like they’re floating in mid-air.

The lights are a little haphazardly placed - some are heavily overlapped with one another, creating a strange bundle of lights, and there seems to be more than a few piles of tangled ones littered across the coffee table - but Kuroko’s sure he’s never seen anything more beautiful.

“It’s not much,” Kagami says, fidgeting a little bit. The hand he has around Kuroko’s waist tugs idly at the fabric there.  “But I know you were really looking forward to going out to see the lights in the city today so I did my best.”

“It’s perfect,” Kuroko says quietly, awe coloring his voice. He can feel tears building at the corner of his eyes already and twists a little so he can wipe them on a corner of the blanket. “This is - this is so much better than going out, Kagami-kun.”

Kuroko feels more than hears Kagami’s sigh of relief. “I’m glad,” Kagami says. “I know you’ve been really excited about going out today so I was worried…”

“Thank you.” Kuroko twists around in Kagami’s hold so he can pull him into a firm hug, cheek pressed against the fabric of Kagami’s sweater. “Thank you so much, Kagami-kun.” More quietly, Kuroko whispers, nearly silent,  “I love you.”

Kagami hears him anyway. “I l-love you too,” Kagami stutters out, returning the hug just as tightly. After a few moments, he gentles their embrace and presses a soft kiss against Kuroko’s temple. “Merry Christmas, Kuroko.”

“Merry Christmas,” Kuroko says, sighing happily. It’s the best he’s felt all day long.