Monster

The distance between their bodies weren't significantly large—in fact, they were within arm's length of each other. But the feelings inside wrote something else in the atmosphere—something lonely and unknown. Aomine found his reason for deciding to help Kuroko; boredom and curiosity. But was that just a mere cover up to spend some time with the Shadow? He knew that Kuroko only meant what he requested and that it had nothing else to do with the fact that he had chosen his former light out of all people.

Please stand clear of closing doors.

That was the line that had been spoken over mere couple of minutes that have not exceeded over five as the two sat silently on the bare carriages of the late train. A ball separated the space between their legs, had they been touching as a tense sensation wriggled into their bodies. Aomine, for some strange reason, felt almost obliged to start a conversation seeing as Kuroko wasn't one to ignite one but what would he say? Hey, how's it going? That was too casual and he would already know the answer to that since they spent that last couple of hours together on common ground which is the basketball courts. How's Seirin? Would that question suffice? Is that even conversational material? Aomine didn't know so for now, he decided to continue to not say a word. He felt a little stupid for getting so worked up over mere questions that he ended up not saying at all.

The Ace leaned back into the seat with his head just greeting the open window. He felt eyes follow his motion but chose not to pay any attention to them.

"You seem a little weary, Aomine-kun. Are you tired?" The Shadow casually asked, still not gaining attention, not that he really cared.
"I suppose." Aomine lied. It wasn't that he wanted to lie—he just couldn't really be bothered saying the other answer. Maybe because he didn't really want a conversation when the time called for it? Who knows for sure.
"I'm sorry." Kuroko suddenly apologized, "It's my fault that you're tired." Aomine sat upright, turning his head to face the smaller figure in sheer confusion.
"Who said you needed to apologize? What's there to apologize for?" Aomine inquired, receiving a pair of pale baby blues looking back at him.

"If I hadn't asked you to help me with my shooting skills, you wouldn't be like this." Kuroko plainly said with a tint of sincerity.
"It's not your fault I decided to help." The Ace rolled his eyes, "Besides, if you were going to be this sorry, why didn't you ask someone else?"
"Because, you're the best at shooting." Kuroko complimented with ease.
"How about Midorima?"
"We don't get along well."
"Ah."

"What if I had said no?" Aomine questioned after a short period of silence. He averted his attention through the parallel windows, not looking at anything in particular as he seemed disinterest in what Kuroko had to say. Well, he wanted to appear that way for some childish reason.
"You did say no." The Shadow blankly said in a way that made anyone feel pissed off. Aomine wasn't any different.
"We—I, you know what I mean." The Ace fumbled out, tsking in annoyance.
"Well, I supposed I would've failed Kagami."

Please stand clear of closing doors.

Aomine turned his head once more to face Kuroko, "What does Kagami have to do with this?" He couldn't hide the slight anger in his voice at the sound of that name. Kuroko sighed lightly, looking as though he's searching for the answer before replying.
"I am his shadow. He's my light. And the brighter he gets, the darker I need to be to be able to catch up with him."
"You sound like you don't want to get left behind." Aomine casually deducted, hoping that that's not what Kuroko meant.
"I don't." Kuroko replied. Even though his voice was neutral, it sounded a lot more… lonesome? Yeah, that sounded just about right. Aomine suddenly felt a wave of guilt rush through his system. The reason for it was uncertain but he had a slight clue as to why he felt this way.
"Tetsu—"

"I'm not blaming you." Kuroko spoke as though he knew what the Ace was thinking. He was, as usual, spot on as he continued, "I'm not as strong as you so I knew there's no way for me to reach the same ground as you. You're the real prodigy—I'm just a shadow." That made Aomine feel more horrible than he already did. Was this why Kuroko quit? Was it because their common ground was far from each other?
"And so you think that you'll be the same as Kagami?" Aomine asked smugly, crossing his arms over his chest.
"Of course not but as long as I'm enough to support him, then it's alright." Kuroko began to stare ahead, through the window parallel to him.

Their conversation slowly faded into silence. Kuroko said his piece so it was only natural for Aomine to speak but what was he going to say? Nothing, that's what. What could he say? If anything, Kuroko sounded as if he wanted the conversation to end there with no more questioning. Did that mean he was hiding something? Aomine, like most, read the atmosphere and decided to keep to himself. For once in a long time, the Ace was afraid to pursue. Why? He didn't know. The fear was unknown and it irritated him.

"…lous."
"Sorry?"

Kuroko averted his attention back at the Ace who mumbled something incoherent underneath his own tight breath. Aomine looked reluctant to repeat but the Shadow's intense gaze managed to squeeze a replay of words, "I can't help but… feel jealous." Now it was Kuroko's turn to receive the feeling of not being able to say a thing. But the difference was, is that he actually wanted to say something, instead of feeling obliged to. But no words could express.
"Ha! What am I saying? Me, jealous?" Aomine suddenly ran into an outburst of emotion as he covered his forehead with the palm of his hand. Kuroko couldn't help but watch, "As if!" He then broke into uncomfortable but hysterical laughter. What the hell am I doing? I look so stupid.

"Aomine-kun, do you feel… replaced?" The Shadow's voice calmed down the other's ramble of words, silencing the said teen. Aomine took a slow and steady breath, seeming as though he needed some time to prepare an answer. The Ace turned to face the smaller figure before parting his lips.
"Don't get ahead of yourself, Tetsu." Aomine warned, rising to his feet with ease, "You're the one who's hurt—not me."
"What do you mean by that?" Kuroko asked almost as if it was by reflex. The doors slid open before the Ace stepped off the train. The Shadow still planted himself onto the seat, unknowingly anticipating the answer—if Aomine ever decided say.

"Truth be told, "light and shadow" is just a convenient excuse for you. Fact of the matter is that you need me. And Kagami was just there to be the light for your shadowed heart."

Please stand clear of closing doors.

黒子のバスケ © 藤巻 忠俊
Kuroko No Basuke