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Where Light is Born

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The first time, Kuroko does it.

Maybe Kagami should have seen it coming. He doesn’t, though. Because kissing Kuroko is usually different.

Usually, Kuroko is so damn polite about everything. Even makeouts. He always asks before making a move, and he always asks permission to go further. (“May I kiss you, Kagami-kun?” “Do you like being touched like this?” “I would like to remove your shirt now, if that’s all right.”) To be honest, it’s cute, and actually kind of hot. Kagami has no clue if questions about this stuff are hot in general, or if it’s just how Kuroko does it. But it’s weirdly hot, and anyway, he doesn’t mind.

Kagami also doesn’t mind when, on the night after their match against Touou in the Winter Cup, Kuroko goes with him to his apartment… And then tackles him as soon as the door is closed.

Instantly, Kagami finds himself with his back against the wall. He drops the shoe he just took off—the other one stays on—while Kuroko grips the front of his warm-up jacket, and yanks on it until he’s nearly doubled over. Their mouths collide, hard, and Kagami’s heart lurches in his chest. Kuroko grazes his lips, then strokes them again and again, molding them against his own with feverish insistence. Soon they’re both breathing faster. Kagami’s pulse thrums in his neck.

He braces against the wall. This isn’t what kissing Kuroko is usually like. But this is exactly what he wants right now.

He lets out a groan, slow and deep. The sound is so far down in his throat that it practically comes from inside his ribcage. And Kuroko shivers, in a way that grips his whole body—Kagami could swear even his hair shivers—and he clutches Kagami’s arms, like he’s trying to steady himself. Then he jerks away, violently.

It feels like trying to separate a pair of overcharged electromagnets. Painful. More or less impossible. So why the hell were they doing it again?

Kuroko stares up at him. His lips are trembling. “I’m sorry, Kagami-kun. I—”

Kagami claps a hand over Kuroko’s mouth. (A hand big enough to stretch halfway around his head.) He leans in, and his eyes are burning.

“Don’t even,” he growls. “Idiot. I want this.”

Kuroko is wide-eyed. His mouth shifts against Kagami’s palm, and a puff of warm air slips between his fingers. Kagami lets go. And Kuroko shoves against him, and then they’re kissing furiously, their lips moving way too fast and chafing and their breath is practically steaming, and dammit Kagami doesn’t just want this, he needs this.

Because electricity is still coursing through his veins, crackling in his blood like a storm. Like a tangle of lightning, that craves a place to land. Somewhere to ground itself, to flash and blaze and burn out again.

Kuroko is that place.

And it makes sense, but it also doesn’t. Because Kagami has started to realize that Kuroko is the one who made all that lightning in the first place, who kindled it inside his chest from the very beginning. As though Kuroko took a small spark, and tended to it until it was massive and bright—brilliant enough to streak across the entire sky in one go. And then he ignited it, in the most contradictory way possible.

With tears.

(It wasn’t Kuroko alone, of course. It was their whole team. Except in a way, it was just Kuroko, because he was the one who taught Kagami to care about their teammates. More than he cared about himself.)

Kagami pants for breath. He pulls Kuroko’s face closer, again and again. His heartbeat throbs in his ears—and Kuroko’s pulse flutters against his palm, in that warm, soft dent beneath his earlobe. He has no idea how many times they’ve kissed. No clue at all. But the electricity that fires his nerves keeps on coming, as though there’s no end to it…

He hardly knows what’s happening. Is this because of the Zone? Some kind of aftereffect? Tension ripples through his body, and heat burns beneath his skin… It’s his first time experiencing it, so he doesn’t know if any of this is normal or not.

Kuroko moans, in his soft way, and holds him tighter. And Kagami doesn’t know what Kuroko is feeling right now. He has no idea whether it’s joy, or longing, or exhilaration. (Or all three.) He doesn't know if it’s coming from a place of triumph—because they won, dammit, they finally won—or gratitude, because of what happened after the match.

It doesn’t matter. Because Kagami wants all of it. He wants everything that is making Kuroko feel this way, and he wants everything he feels too.

It’s that simple.

So simple, in fact, that Kagami doesn’t question his instincts, for once. He hoists Kuroko up, gripping his skinny thighs, until Kuroko has both legs wrapped around his waist. Then Kagami holds him in place with one arm, kissing him all the while—god, that soft wet tongue, sliding over his—while he fumbles around with his free hand and removes the shoe he’s still wearing. And at some point Kuroko must start taking off his own shoes, because they drop behind Kagami’s back—thud, thud—and Kagami staggers down the hall, with Kuroko still twined around him.

He makes his way, step by dizzying step, through the living room. Until Kuroko slides his mouth around the side of Kagami’s jaw, and nips lightly at his earlobe. Then Kagami just can’t stand it anymore.

He stumbles forward, and drops Kuroko onto the padded couch. Climbing on top of him, kissing all along the side of his face and neck. Kuroko gasps softly, and arches back against the headrest. Kagami winds his arms tight around him.

“Kagami-kun,” Kuroko murmurs in his ear. “Kagami-kun.”

It’s almost like a plea, and Kagami realizes abruptly that Kuroko is tugging at the hem of his jacket. He leans back, putting some space between them. Before long Kuroko’s slender fingers are working frantically, undoing the fastenings. And Kagami does the same to Kuroko’s, until both their jackets are halfway off their shoulders. Then they’re shrugging out of them, while trying to kiss each other at the same time, because they can’t be bothered to stop long enough to do it the easy way.

Eventually they’re in their jerseys, bare arms rubbing together, as they hold each other even closer. They’re still kissing, tongues sliding in and out of mouths, teeth biting gently at each other’s lips. Kagami shudders at the heat gathering between them, pulsing in their shared breath, centering between their hips. It resonates in every place their skin touches.

He doesn’t know where this is going. But he doesn’t think about it at all. Because this isn’t thinking. This is just feeling. He doesn’t consider his next move, isn’t aware of anything except his most immediate surroundings. It’s exactly like when he was in the grip of the Zone. Except now all he can see, and feel, is Kuroko. Beneath him, and wrapped around him, thin ghostly fingers trailing along his neck and tugging him closer still.

At this point, kissing Kuroko is just instinct.

Kagami doesn’t know how many minutes pass like this, heated, frantic minutes where they’re both panting, and grabbing at anything they can reach. Then Kuroko twists around him at an odd angle. Suddenly Kagami finds himself on the floor, with Kuroko crouched on top of him. And this is even better, with Kuroko’s hands tracing down his neck and along his bare arms and slipping under the jersey to trace along the hard lines of his stomach.

Kuroko kisses him everywhere too, on his face and across his shoulders, even in the dip of his collarbone. Kagami groans, and closes his eyes. Each touch seems to fill his whole body, like Kuroko is trailing lightning along his skin, sparking on his lips and in his fingers.

And Kagami thinks again, about how all of this energy, all this heat, is something Kuroko did. He doesn’t know exactly how. All he knows is that Kuroko is the source, the center of whatever inexplicable power has taken hold of him.

But then Kuroko’s touch falls away, and Kagami opens his eyes. Kuroko is hovering over him, gaze locked on his chest. On his jersey, with the red letters of ‘Seirin’ emblazoned across the front, and below them, the number ’10.’ Kuroko’s expression softens—so subtly that Kagami feels, rather than sees, the change. He traces the numbers on Kagami’s chest.

“I can’t believe it,” he whispers, almost under his breath. “We…”

He shakes his head, mouth faltering, as though he can’t continue. Kagami reaches up to touch his trembling lips, but then Kuroko grabs his hand, and clasps it in both of his. He stares down at Kagami, as steadily as ever. But those pale blue eyes shimmer, like rain touched with sunlight. He shakes his head again.

“You’re amazing,” The words almost sound like they’re choking him. “Kagami-kun. You’re amazing.”

Kagami doesn’t know what to say. His heart leaps, and he can hardly breathe. He feels like those words were just stitched onto his skin, in bright red thread. Like he’s been waiting, ever since he was born, to hear them.

They already won the match. But suddenly, Kagami feels like he’s truly won. Like he just earned the most awesome prize in the world. He doesn’t even know what it is, exactly. Something important.

Something he’s always wanted.

Kuroko heaves a breath, loud enough to actually hear it, for once. Then he drops forward, crumples against Kagami’s chest like he just can’t hold himself up anymore. He curls up against Kagami, hides his face in his shoulder.

Kagami doesn’t know what he’s thinking, doesn’t know what he’s feeling. And he wants to know, but at the same time, he doesn’t know how to ask. So he wraps his arms around Kuroko and just holds him, there on the hard wooden floor.

Something is changing between the two of them. Kagami doesn’t really understand it. He doesn’t understand what happened during the game either. He doesn’t know why the thought of Kuroko crying sent a burst of emotion blazing through his chest, igniting a fire in his veins. A feeling so strong that it made something impossible happen. A feeling he would do anything, could do anything, to make Kuroko happy.

Completely, entirely happy.

Why is that suddenly the reason he wants to win so much?

Kagami holds Kuroko even tighter, and raises one hand to bury his fingers in his hair. Sometimes he kind of wonders how Kuroko hasn’t broken apart yet. His partner is so much stronger than he looks, he knows that. But at times, these matches feel like enough to tear him apart. To say nothing of a guy who’s way smaller than him, and slighter, and who cares so damn much about everything. So much that all those feelings have begun to break through his naturally calm exterior.

And this is only the start. Only the first match of the Winter Cup.

Kagami stares up at the ceiling, at the faint glow from the entry hall, as it casts a beam across his half-lit apartment. He doesn’t know what’s happening, to either of them. But for now, they’re caught up in the storm. This miraculous storm of fire and color, too chaotic to see anything around them clearly.

Maybe, when it’s all over, Kagami will understand.

Kagami is the one who does it, the last time. (The last time during the Winter Cup, anyway.)

It takes a while. After the last match of the tournament, Seirin’s team celebrates their championship victory together. It goes on for hours into the night, until they’re all light-headed and bleary-eyed and wobbly on their feet. And then when it’s over, Kuroko goes home with his family. Which is probably a good thing, because Kagami collapses on his couch almost as soon as he enters his apartment.

But the next day, when the only thing they should want to do is rest, and maybe spend time with their families, the members of Seirin’s basketball team all meet up for an early dinner at Maji Burger. And then they talk over the match again. Because they can’t help it, apparently.

And the whole time, Kagami can’t stop staring at Kuroko. (Who’s drinking a milkshake in the dead of winter, because of course he is.) Kagami’s never felt quite this way before. It’s the exact opposite of how things usually are between them. Like he’s aware of every small movement Kuroko makes, of his breathing and even the way he blinks.

And Kagami could swear it’s because of an invisible energy that still pulses between them, an energy that threads around the whole team, like some kind of ebbing aura. Every now and then, he thinks he can even see it, a golden glow that lines all their faces. (But maybe that’s just the fading winter sunlight, as it streams through the windows of the restaurant.)

Whatever the reason, Kagami can sense every inch of Kuroko today, even from across the table. So when their teammates start to leave, one by one, Kagami can’t help blurting out an invitation to him, to hang out at his apartment for the evening. An invitation that Kuroko accepts, with a ready smile that squeezes its way between Kagami’s ribs and pounds there.

They walk to his apartment, side by side. Kagami keeps stealing glances at Kuroko. His partner looks different, he suddenly realizes. His eyes are more open than they used to be, and they catch the light more often. He keeps gazing at the sky.

He looks content, Kagami realizes. Like he’s finished what he set out to do, and now he’s at peace with the world.

Kagami swallows, as his heart gives a painful throb. He thinks back to when they met, and how Kuroko looked then. His whole face has changed, somehow. Kagami almost can’t believe this is the same person, as that blank-faced phantom he saw at his first practice, all those long months ago.

He doesn’t know when it happened. Maybe the change took place gradually, over the course of all those heart-stopping matches. Or maybe it just was the sheer joy of last night’s win, that made the shift permanent. Either way, Kagami can’t get enough, of that tranquil look on his partner’s face.

He wonders if his face has changed too, over the course of this unbelievable year. He wouldn’t be surprised.

And the closer they get to his apartment, the more Kagami can’t stop thinking about what he wants to do. About how he wants to reach across the narrow space between them, to grab Kuroko by the elbow and clasp his face and bury a kiss in the soft wispy hair on the top of his partner’s head. How he wants to catch up Kuroko in both arms and wind their bodies together and lock mouths until they can’t freaking breathe.

But he doesn’t. Even when they’re halfway up the stairs, and no one is around, Kagami doesn’t. Even though his palms tingle and his heart hammers with the urge, and he can sense Kuroko’s every movement.

Because even now, when he can sense him this strongly, Kuroko still looks so transparent. So damn invisible. He always has, but the contrast is even more obvious now, between what Kagami feels and what he sees. Kuroko looks like he’s barely there, with that clear pale skin of his, and the ghostly hair, and those shoulders that look kind of small, even when they’re covered up with a heavy winter coat. And the thought stabs Kagami deep in his chest, and he doesn’t know why.

He’s afraid to reach out and touch him. Afraid the urge he feels is so powerful that it will be enough to make Kuroko disappear, like a softly glowing illusion, the instant he tries to grab onto him.

They reach the landing. Kuroko waits beside the door, and Kagami fumbles with his keys. He tries not to let on that his fingers are shaking. He has no idea why they’re doing that. The door creaks open, and Kagami hesitates for a moment. Kuroko smiles, and steps over the threshold first. Leading the way. Kagami shadows him.

It should feel strange. Ironic, maybe. Oddly enough, for now it just feels right.

Kuroko takes off his shoes, and Kagami mirrors him. Neither of them says anything—apart from Kuroko’s usual greeting, asking pardon for the intrusion. At this point, it sounds out of place in Kagami’s ears. He doesn’t know what Kuroko should say instead, when he enters his apartment. But he never feels like Kuroko’s an intrusion.

Kuroko slips off his thick coat, too, and hangs it up. He wanders into the front room. Kagami hangs back and watches from the hallway, as his partner steps up beside the porch window. The curtains are drawn back, and the setting sun falls onto Kuroko’s shoulders, beams of gold that glow on that light-colored sweater he’s wearing, and shine in his pale hair.

Kagami’s heart beats faster. Because he suddenly remembers the last time he saw Kuroko looking like this. It was an image that appeared inside his mind, only one night ago. Of Kuroko standing in a wide-open doorway, all lit up with golden light.

Kuroko looks over his shoulder. He says something to Kagami, but Kagami doesn’t hear it. Because now he’s stumbling toward him, over the space in the room that separates them. He’s still afraid to touch Kuroko, still convinced that he’ll vanish into a shining wisp of light, at the slightest pressure from him. But he reaches out, and pulls him into his arms anyway.

He doesn’t have a choice anymore. At this point, it’s just gravity.

And then his lips are pressed against Kuroko’s, and somehow he can feel Kuroko’s mouth, soft and warm against his. Somehow Kuroko is still there, wrapped in his arms. Leaning into him, like he’s been waiting for this. Like he expected it, and welcomed it. And he kisses Kagami back. Just simply, slowly. But Kagami could swear that Kuroko’s lips are filling him with light, until that glowing aura surrounds them both, warming his insides like melting gold.

Kissing Kuroko has never felt like more to him, than it does in this moment.

The minutes start to pass in a blur, slipping away with the fading sun. Kagami can’t stop touching Kuroko, and kissing him, and Kuroko keeps kissing him back. At some point they’re kneeling on the floor, still locked in each other’s arms. Kagami’s pulse pounds, in his hands and his throat, keeping steady time with his lips.

And he understands now. What’s changed, about the way he feels about Kuroko.

He used to think that Kuroko was just a regular guy, more or less. He was odd, sure, and hard to read. But he had developed his skills in basketball, as unique and impressive as they were, because he was ordinary. Because he couldn’t fight alongside his former teammates, the infamous Generation of Miracles, otherwise.

Now, after everything that’s happened, all the victories and the shared struggles, Kagami couldn’t feel more differently. About all of that.

Kuroko is the most miraculous person he knows. Somehow he makes every door, every barrier, every limit, seem like nothing more than an illusion. A trick of the eye. He redefines everything. Everything that people say is possible, and impossible.

Because he is the door, Kagami realizes. Because he is the light.

And something inside him wants to shout, “It was him the whole time, you idiots. The whole damn time. You thought he was nothing, so you left him behind and went off to shine by yourselves, but he was the light all along.”

But the truth is, when he says “idiots,” Kagami means himself too. Because he thought Kuroko was just a shadow, nothing more. That’s what Kuroko told him. But that’s exactly where every light begins, right? In darkness, in shadows and deep silent spaces, that pulse with gathering strength. And he should have known that. They all should have.

Maybe they all do, now.

Kagami kisses Kuroko again, harder this time. Then he pulls back, to catch his breath. Kuroko lies beneath him on the floor. His hair is a rumpled mess, and even in the fading sunset Kagami can see the flush in his cheeks, and on his lips. He reaches up and brushes the hair out of Kagami’s eyes.

“Kagami-kun, are you all right?” he says, in his soft way. “You’ve hardly said a word since we left the restaurant.”

“I’m fine,” Kagami says, a little gruffly. He shakes his head. “It’s just…”

Kuroko blinks up at him, and he swallows. There’s so much he could say. So much he should say, eventually. But right now, there’s only one thing that matters most.

So he leans down, and murmurs it in Kuroko’s ear.

“You’re amazing,” he says. “Kuroko. You’re amazing.”

Kuroko gazes up at him, blue eyes widening slightly. As though this was the last thing he expected to hear. Maybe it was, Kagami thought. Even though he knew people had told him that before. Maybe he didn’t understand just how true it was.

Well, maybe Kagami would just have to make it his job from now on, to remind him.

He slips his arms around Kuroko, and lifts him off the floor, until he’s in a sitting position with Kuroko in his lap. And they kiss until the stars come out, as those tiny lights ignite in the shadows of the sky, that powerful space where light is born.