Author's Note: And here we are at the last chapter. Thank you to everyone who's read this story. I hope you enjoy the ending.

Chapter 17

The atmosphere in our motley group has changed somewhat, I observe, the day after Christmas when Aomine, Matsuzaki, Hana, and I have decided to meet together at a local mall. For one, Hana and Matsuzaki seemed to have switched personalities . . . well, that's pretty much it. Hana seems to shine wherever she goes, throwing her words to whomever will listen to her — her boldness and sarcasm does not go amiss (it's really a wonder she could've held it all in around Matsuzaki).

As for Senpai . . . well, he's mostly quiet. Speaks when spoken to, mostly in short, startled words, like he's been called in to answer a question while sleeping in class.

And he can't stop staring at Hana.

I'm not quite sure what transpired between the two of them.

However, if I was to guess, I would say that because Hana finally got the guts up to fully confess, she is feeling more confident in herself than ever before. She's always been a bit uncomfortable around boys, especially those she likes. With Matsuzaki, I wasn't quite sure she'd ever be able to tell him . . . but she did. For me . . . and I suppose for herself, too. But I'm glad that she did, because now he can see her for who she really is. And she's amazing.

As for Matsuzaki, apparently, he's always been interested in Hana. Except he's actually really shy with girls he likes, which is why he began to get close to me as a friend first. What Hana and I interpreted as interest in me was just him stewing over his feelings. He saw Aomine and I growing closer and thought he better get a move on, but couldn't figure out how to.

What a misunderstanding.

As the four of us walk around the mall, chattering and enjoying the sights (still decorated for the holidays), I wrap my hand around Aomine's. He shoots me a smile and tightens his hand around mine. His hand is much larger; it seems to cover mine completely, swallowing it whole.

I never expected this.

I don't think any of us did.

To be where we are now, standing and laughing together . . . it's something that no one could predict.

I think of the future, of the myriad of possibilities before us . . . there are so many options and variables . . . the probability that we'll still be together in the future is very slim. But for right now, I think, it's okay. It's okay if I don't know what my future will hold. Because right now? Right now, I have my friends, and I have Aomine right by my side.

I am happy and content, and that's all that really matters.

"You've mentioned that New Year's is your favorite holiday, right?" Aomine says, leaning back on the couch in my apartment.

"Yeah," I say. "It is. Though Christmas is great, too. What's your favorite holiday?"

He ignores my question and says, "Are you doing anything tomorrow?"

I blink a few times. "Uh, no. Usually I just stay up to midnight with my parents. We watch a few movies or something . . . do you want to come over? Dad might be fixing something, though," I add as a warning.

He smirks. "No, I was actually wondering . . . if you wanted to do something. With me."

"With you? Just you?"

"Just me," he says, clarifying.

The idea sends a thrill up my spine. "Yes," I breathe out. "I'd love to. What do you have in mind? We could, like, go to a shrine or something! I mean, that's, like, so cliché, but it's really fun. I've done that with my parents a few times, but not in a long while . . . but of course, we can do whatever you want to do."

"Sheesh, take a breath, Kaminari." He rolls his eyes. "And sit down, for goodness' sake. You look like you're going to hyperventilate."

I flush, and flop down onto the couch next to him. He immediately reaches out and pulls me closer; I shiver, a still little unused to his proximity.

"I don't care what we do," he says. "Whatever you want is fine with me."

I grin. "Sounds great."

The next day, an hour before Aomine's due to pick me up, I dive into my closet to find the perfect outfit. Of course, seeing as it is winter, I'll be wearing a coat over it, but I still want to impress him. Eventually, I settle on a warm but pretty sweater dress. The dress is a light blue color, long-sleeved, and reaches down to below my knees. I pull out some brown boots and, of course, the necklace Aomine gave me. After coordinating my outfit, I start on my make-up, then do my hair up in a bun, before fixating it with a fancy pin.

Just as I'm finished, the doorbell rings. "Hang on!" I call.

I open the door.

He doesn't look that much different. Or I mean . . . even if he knows this is a date, it's obvious he hasn't bothered to dress up at all. Not that I care that much.

His eyes rake up and down my body and I blush. He says, "You look nice."

"Thanks," I say.

"You ready to go, then?"


He offers me his hand, and I take it.

"We haven't gotten any snow yet this year," I muse as we make our way to the shrine.

"Do you like snow?" he asks.

"Eh . . . not really. I mean, it's pretty. But it's so cold! I hate the cold."

"Mmm. Yeah, I kinda got that idea."

I grin. "It's great that you're so warm. I don't know what I would have done if my boyfriend had turned out to be some sort of icicle."

He frowns. "So are you only dating me for my body's heating qualities?"

"Maybe," I say slyly.

He shakes his head, but smiles anyway, squeezing my hand.

The walk to the shrine is freezing, but I somehow manage to make it with him beside me. The night is dark, but all around decorative lights are shining, all different colors.

It's almost perfect — which is, of course, why they show up.

We're almost to our destination when I see them. I stop short, and Aomine gives me a quizzical look.

I haven't thought about it in so long; I thought I'd forgotten, but now that I'm seeing them again, the memory is burned into my mind, as fresh as if it was yesterday. Nothing happened, I repeat to myself. Nothing happened, so you don't have to worry about anything.

The two college boys that had once harassed me are on the same street, just a little ways ahead of us, near a stand of charms. Aomine catches me staring at them and his gaze hardens. At that moment, as we're passing, the guys choose to look up and spot me.

They haven't forgotten either.

"Hey, you're that book chick," the first one says, a grin on his face. His eyes narrow at Aomine. "Who's this?"

"I'm her boyfriend," Aomine says shortly. "And you better remember that."

I glance up at Aomine, but he's only staring at them, most likely testing if there really is something such as a "death glare."

"Oh-ho," the second one says, and his eyes glance toward me again.

Aomine lets out a noise of anger and he slings his arm around me, pulling me close to him. "I know what you did to her," he says to them, his voice rough and full of . . . protectiveness? For me? "I was there. I saw it. Don't you dare ever come close to her again."

While I'm processing the fact that my savior from long ago might've very well been Aomine Daiki, the two guys glance at each other, and begin backing away. There must be something in Aomine's eyes, something they don't care for and aren't willing to fight against, because they mutter to themselves, and finally turn away.

His arm still around my shoulder, Aomine begins leading me away from them at a brisk pace. I can feel the anger steaming off of him and I almost want to smile.

"Was that . . . another thing you did for me?" I say after a few minutes of silence and Aomine's huffing.

"Huh?" he says, squinting down at me.

"You're really quite overprotective, aren't you?" I say. "Did you . . . did you ask me to be your girlfriend because of them?"

His eyes shutter closed for a moment and our pace starts to slows (good thing, too, because my legs were starting to ache; I can't keep up with his long stride).

"Yeah," he eventually says. "I wanted to keep you safe. I liked you. And I didn't like seeing other guys hitting on you. I didn't want another guy asking you out. So I did it first."

I let out a laugh. "In a very roundabout way."

He grunts, and says nothing more, but my heart warms. With him here, I don't think I'll have any bad memories anymore.

When we reach the shrine, there are already an abundance of people there. Stands are erected at the sides, selling amazake and mochi and other assorted goods. People stroll around, whether it be families or couples or friends, waiting for the New Year. Some are already in line for the shrine.

"Would you like some food first?" I ask. "Or would you rather get in line?"

"Either is good for me."

I roll my eyes. "Well, I'm hungry, so buy me something."

He hums in response, but his hand tightens around mine as he navigates us through the thick crowd and toward the nearest food stand.

Equipped with some warm amazake and kagami mochi, we make our way to the rapidly growing line. Midnight is only half an hour away now and people are getting antsy.

As he sips his drink, Aomine turns to me and says, "So, why is this your favorite holiday?"

I consider for a few minutes before answering. "I suppose . . . I like the thought of something ending, but something beginning at the same time. I like the idea that you can look back at the past year, at all you've accomplished, but still look to the future, of all that things you can hope to achieve."

"That sounds like you."

I frown. "Is that a compliment or —?"

"It's a compliment. For sure. You are . . ." He pauses, searching for the right words. "You are one of the most amazing people I've ever met. So it makes sense to me that you think that way. You want to look back while looking ahead. You're smart in that way. Some people . . . they just dwell in the past or the future, or sometimes they just concentrate on the present. But you want to focus on both. I think that's smart. I think that's you."

I take a step back, a little awed.

A compliment indeed.

"T-thank you," I whisper.

The next few minutes pass in silence as I digest his words. Finally, though, I ask, "So what is your favorite holiday? You never answered."

"Eh? Oh. Well, Valentine's Day, then."

I start. "Valentine's Day?"

"Sure. I'll get chocolate from you, right?"

I stare at him. He stares right back. Then we both start laughing.

"Sure," I say through giggles. "I'll make you chocolate. I can't promise it'll be good, but I'll try. I'll have Hana teach me even. But you have to promise to get me loads of chocolate on White Day."

"Sure thing." He holds up a fist. "It's a promise."

I grin, and bump my fist against his. "Any chocolate's fine with me. White chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, red chocolate . . ."

"Red chocolate? Is that even a thing?"

"Sure. It's dyed."

He stares at me like I'm crazy.

The line inches forward, moving as slowly as midnight seems to be. But as midnight gets closer and the line gets shorter, I find my pulse quickening.

I'm here with Aomine. I'm about to start a new year with him — what a better time to spend with someone you love?

Someone I love. I almost laugh. Who would have ever thought?

I love Aomine Daiki.

I should tell someone.

I should tell him.

So I do.

I stand on my tiptoes, until my lips are right near his ears, and I whisper only to him, "I love you."

Just then, everyone begins to cheer, and I jump back. I trip over the ground, almost falling over, but his hand darts out and catches me. His eyes stare into mine, blank.

For a moment, some insane part of me wonders if they all heard me and are entertained by the fact that I just confessed my love to him. But then my rational side catches up, and I realize that . . . it's January the First. It's a New Year.

And I just told Aomine Daiki I loved him.

He's still staring at me, so intently I can do nothing but look back. His arm is around me, too, and gently he pulls me back up so I'm straight and facing him. Then he leans in and says, his voice low and gentle, "I love you, too. Kaminari." His lips brush the edge of my ear, then trail down my check before finding my lips. They hover there for a few moments before he moves them away.

I gaze at him, eyes wide. He smirks and says, "We're blocking the line."

I start, and realize that the line has, indeed, moved quite a bit up in front of us. Flushing hard as I realize that everyone probably just saw us kiss, I scurry forward. Aomine saunters after me, hands in his pocket, not a care in the world.

When it's our turn to face the shrine, we both bow twice, clap twice, then bow again. I wonder what Aomine is thinking.

My mind is still a little frazzled from the kiss, but I manage to say a hurried prayer about hoping to have a good year . . . with him. And that's all I can really think of.

After we leave the shrine, we pass the fortune stands. Aomine snorts at them (something about an old teammate at his middle school), but I manage to convince him to get some.

"Aha, look!" I say as I open mine. "I got great blessing! That's the first time I've ever gotten one. What did you get?"

Aomine sends me a sideways look, then just sighs and hands his over.

Great curse.

I start laughing before I can help myself. He shoots me a glare and I promptly shut up.

"I get some degree of curse each time," he mutters. "Somehow Midorima always gets a blessing . . . Kuroko, too . . . I just have rotten luck with these type of things."

I laugh again, despite myself, and hand it back to him. "Look, mine says that I'll have a productive year, make many new acquaintances, and where my love life is concerned, have a steady and happy relationship. That sounds all great to me! What does yours say?"

He half grumbles as he reads off his fortune of losing a money investment, being betrayed by a coworker, and running into a storm of personal hurdles.

"But look," I say, "if we stick together, it will all be good. If I'm super lucky, then I'll balance out your bad misfortune."

When he stares at me, clearly not understanding, I take his fortune back from him, and then tie mine and his together. "See?" I say. "Now they balance each other out. Maybe we'll just have an ordinary year now, but that's fine with me." I grin. "'Sides, losing money, being betrayed, and personal problems really are no fun. Especially if you're alone. So I'll stick with you. And things'll work out."

I hold out the two fortunes tied together in a knot toward him. For several seconds, he just stares at them. Then he says, "You keep it."


"I feel better knowing my fate's in your hands."

"That's almost . . . poetic."

He rolls his eyes and sticks his hands back in his pockets. "Well, then, the day's a'wasting. You still got places to go? I mean, I got money to spend. Provided I don't lose it all in some investment."

I let out a laugh. "Sure, sure. I mean, it's after midnight, but why not?"

I loop my arm through his, and we head off.

To what, I have no idea, but there's a certain charm to that, too.

And so, as we walk through the night, the two opposites, luck and misfortune, thunder and lightning, I wonder . . . maybe that's not so bad either.

Maybe there are some things that are meant to be together, no matter the original friction or subsequent outcome. But maybe, if you never know if it's okay — for you to be together, for you to create a storm together — that's all right, too.

After all, a thunderstorm is kind of beautiful.

A/N: So, basically, some things get explained. And then, more fluff. New Year's Day, yay! Once again, thank you to everyone who has read, favorited, followed, or left a review! They all mean the world to me. Now that I'm finished with this story, I'll be posting a Kagami/OC next. Also upcoming will be a Kise/OC and then Akashi/OC, so look forward to those, too. (After that, I should be done with KnB stories, lol.) Thanks once again for reading! You're the best.

~ J. Dominique