oh my god
it's done it's over it's -
so this is my first long kurobas fic, and might be my last one too if every single thing i write for these basukebakas turns out to be this long and just ugh
this fic is dedicated to two lovely ladies - arisu (who is now legal and regal hurr hurr) and miss bakaputa (who just aced her sat okay shhh) you two are both perf and beautiful and i hate you as much as i love you true fact
disclaimer: don't own these basukebakas but they're still in my closet
Midnight sun is a state of mind.
Time makes no sense in this world.
You can leave your watch in your suitcase.
[This] day has no end.
It's dark when Aomine manages to make it home after a very long and rather unwelcome 'reunion' at the local bar, and all he wants to do is change, take a shower, and get to bed. His apartment is dark, save for the moonlight spilling from the crack between his curtains, and is pungent with the scent of tobacco and something sour. The lights of the city glimmer outside – muted round blurs from streetlamps and streaks from cars passing kicks off his shoes to a side before drifting towards the kitchen for a beer. The evening had been extremely awkward – bad enough that he couldn't even stomach anything while there, surrounded by his old friends who had pelted him with enough questions for it to feel like an interrogation.
"How are you coping?" Midorima's query was stony, his air and mannerisms flaunting his usual defensive display of 'I'm-pretending-like-I-don't-care'. Aomine noticed, though, how often his eyes flickered from the strong 'liquid courage' he had been nursing and Aomine's own face.
"You look better since last time," was Murasakibara's input. One had to be practically deaf to not realize that it was a pitiful, half-assed lie.
"What happened was terrible, Aomine-kun, but that's no reason to give up. You still have a life to live."
Kuroko's stare had been impassive and frozen; twin cubes of never-melting ice. Nothing about the gaze changed had changed since they were young - even ten years later, those eyes still had the power to skin him alive and make him feel like he was laying out all his cards on the table. It was a terrible power in the hands of a capable person – and Kuroko was more capable than anyone else Aomine would ever meet in his life.
But even Kuroko is wrong, this time.
(His left hand will tighten around a small pill bottle in his pocket.)
And with a soft rush, a figure that had been seated at the kitchen table looks up from a mug of hot chocolate, a familiar twinkle igniting in his cat-like eyes.
"Miss me, Daiki?"
(In the beginning, it was choppy and, quite frankly, scared the shit out of him every time.)
(Kise would appear whenever he damn well felt like it – but only ever when Aomine took the depression pills that his psychiatrist prescribed for him. He could just be sitting at the table, glancing over the newspaper, when a slim finger would reach out from someplace over his shoulder and point at a line in the text.)
(Kise would then make some offhanded comment about how he had really wanted to see that movie – that one right there, with the man getting sentenced to hell - goddamn that van.)
A high-pitched shrieking breaks the early-morning silence. It's an ugly sound - just tasteless blaring, without any particular pitch or tone to it.
An arm sneaks out from under the covers and slaps weakly at the bedside table and misses the alarm clock, let alone the snooze button, completely. He grunts, and then forces his palm up only to slam it back down again.
Nope. Still nothing. Again.
(Though on his fourth try, he will manage to knock against a small, familiarly-shaped object.)
(Something in his mind would register that it was way too early for them. And yet, the pills would still slide down his throat too fast and smooth for him to reconsider.)
"You're a lazy ass, did you know that?"
Aomine grunts against his pillow as his alarm clock stops, leaving the room in an ear-ringing, but blissful, silence. He hears a sigh from some place above him and knows instinctively to roll over onto a blissfully cool patch on his sheets, just as he feels a side of the bed dip.
"It's seven. You should get up, Daiki."
"Come on. You're going to be late for work," Kise continues with a painful prod in his ribcage. Aomine only groans in discomfort before shifting onto his back and propping his hands under his head. The white ceiling shifts into view, with the slightest glimpse of Kise's blonde head in his peripherals. Sunlight was streaming into his room again - why can't he ever remember to draw those fucking curtains?
"Make breakfast for me," Aomine retorts, and loves the look of exasperation that washes over Kise's face in response. He tucks his arms in tighter and repeats, "Make breakfast, and then I'll get up."
Kise shakes his head, and Aomine can tell that he's fighting back a smile. His shirt sits low on his collarbone, sweatpant-clad legs crossed in front of him as his fingers massage the arches of his own feet. Something about the way the early sun hits his still-damp hair and clear skin makes Aomine gulp. Before he knows it, his arm is out and he's got Kise by the waist.
"H-Hey!" Kise protests as he's tugged to fall right against Aomine's chest. He starts laughing and kicking, though, when Aomine tries to pin down Kise's legs with his own. Aomine makes sure to wrap his arms around Kise's shoulders to keep him in place, and feels the ghost of a smile cross his own lips when he feels the shaking of Kise's chuckles against his skin. "Y-You...what, stop it! I'm telling you, you don't have time for this, you need to - Daiki that is my ass, your hand doesn't belong there."
"Whatever," Aomine says. He buries his nose in Kise's hair and - ah, still the same shampoo as all those years ago. "You smell sexy."
"Am I supposed to say thanks?"
"Not really. Let's sleep."
Kise laughs again and slaps Aomine on the arm. Aomine retorts by biting down on his ear.
"That hurts, you ass!"
"Sucks. Now shut up."
Kise pulls a first, and obeys.
Aomine sleeps in till four in the afternoon. When he wakes up, Kise is nowhere to be seen.
(It scared the wits out of Aomine the first few times, but he quickly became used to it. After a while, he found that he could even control it a bit. With practice, Kise would no longer appear right by his side when he took the pills – he would walk in the room sometimes, or maybe even call at him from down the street, laughing, telling him to come and look at this pastry or that trinket. It felt more natural that way.)
(It was almost like he was actually there.)
"It smells good."
The sun is setting in the sky when Aomine finally ambles out of the bedroom, hand smothering a lazy yawn as he scratches at an itch on his lower back. Kise spares him a single glance - a small smile - before turning back to the eggs that were sizzling in the skillet. Aomine definitely wasn't lying, it did smell nice.
(Which was interesting, since Kise had always been so adamant about not cooking; he would claim that it was boring, and that the girls crushing on him always brought him enough food anyway.)
"Sit down then, I made just enough for the both of us," Kise says, while scooping a serving of egg onto a plate nearby.
Aomine sits down obediently, but raises an eyebrow when he spots just how messy a job Kise had done at the counter – egg was spilling off the edges, leaving a small trail on the countertop. He rolls his eyes just as the plate was set in front of him. "You know, maybe if you put a little more effort in serving this stuff, then it wouldn't look as gross as it does now."
"No one's forcing you to eat it," he retorts as he settles his own plate across from Aomine's own and sits down, propping his elbow up on the table and settling his cheek in his palm. "Though you not even trying my cooking would just prove everything I've assumed about you."
"Oh? And what would that be?"
Kise's smile was too bright. "That you're an ungrateful dick."
He bursts into laughter when Aomine flings a bit of egg in his direction, and holds up his hands to block his face.
"You're cleaning up after," Aomine grumbles before digging into his plate. He can feel Kise's fond smile and chuckles before the other begins to poke at his own food, and the room lapses into a comfortable silence.
(Aomine would blink. He would look down at the empty table in front of him; then up at the neatly-lined plates and the untouched skillet by the stove.)
(He'd sigh before getting up to order take-out.)
(Before he'd realized it, he had fallen into a routine.)
(A pill, so Kise would wake up with him.)
(Two, if he wanted to cuddle.)
"Hey, that's not fair!" Kise cries, his fingers outstretched from where he had been trying to reach for the remote before Aomine snatched it up. "Why do you always get to pick the channels?"
"Because it's my house," Aomine replies effortlessly. He changes the channel to a local soccer match and settles back in the couch, folding his arms behind his head. Kise frowns at him for a good few minutes before giving up and settling down beside him.
Aomine, without thinking, slings an arm around Kise's shoulder and draws him closer.
(But Aomine would notice that his hand nearly slips into Kise's arm. Something in him will begin to panic, and he will reach forward for his pills and take one more.)
(He'd only relax when the second pill sets in, and when he's able to feel the soft sinking of his fingertips into Kise's bicep.)
Kise hums as he shifts until he's comfortable against Aomine's side, with his hair very distractingly ticking at the other's neck. "Whatever. Why don't you watch basketball? It's a lot more interesting than this boring crap."
A goal is made and the player doubles back towards his team, arms in the air in victory. The goalie sinks against a side of the goal in defeat.
"You know why I don't watch basketball anymore."
Aomine is aware of Kise sinking further against his side, and can almost feel the blonde closing his eyes. "Because it reminds you of me?"
"As if I would stop because of that," Aomine lies.
Kise pauses for a second, and Aomine thinks that he's going to drop the subject completely. Unfortunately for him, he forgets that it's Kise he's dealing with, and the other was inconveniently fearless and oblivious whenever the situation suited him.
"We were something else back in middle school, weren't we?"
Aomine is forced to grunt in agreement. A player change is called, and a new player jogs up from the bench to slap his teammate on the shoulder before taking his place on the field. A whistle, and then they're off again.
"High school was more interesting, though. We got to play with and against so many new people. Oh yeah - that was when Kagamicchi met Kurokocchi, too!"
"Kagami was annoying as hell back then," Aomine admits. Kise laughs.
"You only didn't like him because he beat you."
"Yeah, sure, but then he stole Tetsu away with him when he went to go play in America."
"Oh shut up. You just saw Kurokocchi not too many days ago. How did he seem?"
Just like that, Aomine's jaw clamps shut.
You still have a life to live.
"...He seemed fine."
"Really?" Kise sounds interested as he turns away from the television to study Aomine's face carefully. "Did he ask about me at all?"
What happened was terrible, Aomine-kun, but that's no reason to give up.
"You're dead to him, Ryou."
(The words would taste unbelievably bitter on his tongue.)
(Perhaps that would be the first time he actually said that out loud?)
But Kise didn't flinch. "I know that. Still, did he mention me?"
Something about his gaze said that he knew exactly what effect that question would have on Aomine. And yet, he seemed to expect an answer anyway.
"Just watch the game."
Kise finally turns away. "But I don't like soccer."
"Fine then, don't watch."
There was a brief moment of silence, before the warmth at Aomine's side suddenly vanishes.
The remote clatters to the floor.
No response. Cheers and groans erupt from the television as another goal was made.
"Ryou? Ryou! Where did you go? Ryouta!"
(Aomine would realize quickly that something was wrong. What was wrong? Why would he disappear? How could he even disappear? He shouldn't have that potential.)
"K-Ki - !"
(He'd choke on his words.)
(Still no? After all that time, still no?)
Aomine is up and off of the sofa, making for the doorway, when arms wrap around his neck and a smile presses against his ear.
"You idiot. If you didn't want me to go, then you shouldn't have asked me to leave."
Kise pulls both of them back to the couch.
(It wasn't like Aomine was crazy. He was too realistic and negative to actually believe that what was happening was 'real'.)
(After all, Kise would only call him 'Daiki'.)
(And he would only call Kise 'Ryou'. 'Ryouta'.)
(There was a reason, wasn't there?)
The air is cold and it feels like a hundred freezing knives diving into Aomine's nose when he breathes in. He ignores the sensation all too easily and continues through the street, hands bunched in his pockets and chin digging into a large scarf in an attempt escape the chill.
No one is out walking so early on a day so cold, and Aomine finds himself the only one on the street to the subways. All of the other sensible people were traveling by car, bus, or taxi – and all three options required him to posses either his own vehicle or money, of which he had neither.
Walking it is.
But he doesn't really mind. He squints up at the sky to see how long he can stare at the sun before blinking.
(He wouldn't last long.)
Kise shifts next to him, and Aomine can feel his confused frown on his face. "You do know you look kind of stupid right now, right?"
"Shut up, Ryou."
"Just checking." Kise rolls his eyes, but Aomine doesn't miss that ever-present laugh hidden in his voice. "You're never going to win, though, I'll spoil that for you right there."
"I said shut it, people are going to think I'm crazy if they see me talking to myself."
A small smile, and a raise of an eyebrow. "Uh-huh."
Nevertheless, Kise very casually slides his hand into a back pocket on Aomine's jeans to keep him close as they walk on. It takes every bit of willpower for Aomine to remember that he was in public, and that embracing 'thin air' wasn't socially acceptable.
It's after they descend into the subway, pass the turnstiles, and sit down in two empty seats that Aomine finally lets their fingers twine together. Kise's fingers are warm against his own, and the blonde taps out a melody against the back of his hand as he hums some obscure tune that had probably been popular back when he was alive. Aomine lets his eyes slide closed.
"You're getting more pills today, aren't you?" Kise asks suddenly, his humming stopping as he does so.
Aomine grunts in reply.
"So pills first, or shrink first?"
"Ah," Kise says in understanding. Aomine expects the questions to end, but god knows he should have known it was Kise and that the boy would never learn to be quiet. "What do you think she's going to say today?"
"Who knows?" Aomine sighs. Now shut up.
Kise doesn't catch the hint. "I'm sure that she'll comment on how you're not going back to work," he says, sagging against Aomine's side. "She'll think that you're still suffering from depression. Maybe she'll even say that you need to come in two times a week."
(The subway will slow to a stop, opening its doors for the steady stream of businessmen and women to get on before moving again. There will be plenty of open seats, but a beautiful woman would still make her way towards him.)
"Or she could say that you're recovering. And that you needed to start waning off of the medication."
("Is this seat taken?")
Aomine's hand clenches down hard on Kise's.
"Shut up, Ryou."
This time, Kise listens.
(Kise had to be there to torture him. He was there to taunt Aomine. A blessing in disguise.)
(Because, Aomine knew, that things could have been so different if they had just chosen to stay home that evening.)
(Or if it hadn't rained so hard.)
(Or if that van hadn't lost control.)
(Or if he had agreed to let Kise drive instead.)
Aomine leans back in the chair and makes sure to keep his stare neutral as his psychiatrist settles into the seat opposite his with a sigh, flipping through the notes on her clipboard before setting it down. She smiles.
"How are you today?"
Her voice is pacifying as always, in a way that makes Aomine want to punch a wall.
"I'm fine," he says. He catches how her eyes fixate closely on his clenched jaw, however, and reluctantly adds, "Great. Doing great. Great day."
(He will have learned, after many visits, that the best way to get in and out of that wretched office fast is to give her what she wanted.)
(Aomine would despise giving in so easily, but every second spent with her is a second spent without Kise.)
"That's good, Aomine-san. But you know that it's okay to not be 'great', right?"
Aomine focuses on a stain in the carpet when he replies, "Of course."
The scratching of pen on paper reverberates around the room as silence falls again. Just because Aomine is complying didn't mean that he had to make it easy for her. His psychiatrist doesn't seem bothered, though, and merely continues to scribble on her clipboard.
When she finishes, she looks up and asks him about his day yesterday.
He tells her that he woke up around noon and had chinese for dinner. He describes the soccer match on television.
(He will not tell her about how warm Kise felt pulled against his chest in the morning, or how his laugh managed to brighten up his whole kitchen that afternoon, or how he pinned Kise down halfway through the game and traced his lips with his tongue at night.)
She tells him that it sounds like it was fun.
(His psychiatrist only put him up for the clinical trial in the first place because no other medication was working. The new pills were supposed to be taken whenever the subject felt a hint of depression, and had been designed so there was no limit to how many a day that he could take. No minimum, no maximum. Supposedly, they were done like such so that it would be easier to wane patients off of them after they were 'cured'.)
(However, despite her job, she never guessed that no type of antidepressant would have worked on Aomine.)
(Because for that to happen, he would have needed to be depressed in the first place.)
An hour. Time is up.
Aomine stands while his psychiatrist is still writing. He's ready to book it to the door and avoid this place for another seven days when she stops him by holding up a hand.
"I'm sorry, Aomine-san, but there's one last piece of business to deal with before I can let you leave today," she says, all calm and collected like Kuroko. God, how he hates them both.
He sinks back into his chair. "What is it?" he asks reluctantly.
(Somewhere in the distant corner of his mind, he would be able to hear Kise chuckling to himself.)
"Ah..." She glances back down at her clipboard before retracting her pen and looking up. There is a grim smile on her face. "It's about the clinical trial, actually, I had been called earlier today by the company running it. I'm sorry I didn't let you know earlier."
(Goosebumps would prickle at his arms.)
"What's wrong?" (Keep calm, breathe.) "Are they calling me in for testing, again? I'm free basically any time, you can just email me what day they want me to come in and I can – "
The hand came back up, startling Aomine back into silence. Something about his psychiatrist's face was off.
"No, no, no. Actually, they won't need you to come in anymore at all."
He swallows. "What do you mean by not come in anymore? I don't want them to make house calls or anything stupid like that."
"No house calls either," she says, her eyebrows drawing together. The look that she gives him tips him off that something about his reaction wasn't what she expected.
Aomine feels his blood chilling, and suddenly the world stops turning.
Everything was very still.
He leans forward, hyper-aware of every tick of the clock and typing emanating from the other side of the door as he perches elbows on his knees and speaks low and fast, "Are you taking me off of these pills? Doctor, I can tell you right now, that is a big mistake. This was one of our last attempts, remember? They're slow to start. The company said that they'd be suspicious, but not life-threatening. You don't need to worry about me. They're the only ones that've worked perfectly so far – " ("Bullshit," Kise would whisper.) " – and I'm pretty sure they're the only ones that're going to work."
"I'm afraid I don't have much say in this, Aomine-san." She pulls up the top sheet on her clipboard and studies the one under it, squinting as she reads before continuing slowly, "They've stopped the clinical trial. Let me see if I could find that...ah...yes, there were 'too many patients that reported similar side effects after taking the antidepressant'. According to what they told me, they're dropping it to work more on eliminating that side-effect."
"What side effect?"
The doctor looks up at him through her glasses, a small frown dragging down her lips.
(Something would change.)
(Aomine would reach out for Kise's hand but only touch thin air.)
"Hallu...cina...tions." The word tastes foreign on his tongue, and suddenly it feels like cold fingers are reaching through his stomach. "What did you mean by hallucinations? Like seeing things?"
She nods, and is so absorbed in reading off the page that she doesn't look up to see Aomine's face blanching. "Apparently most of the other test subjects reported seeing their dead loved ones or just random people after taking the antidepressant. One man even jumped off a building after his dead sister, or so we've heard from his wife. It's gotten so bad that...what was...hmm. Eighty-five percent of people have said they've seen 'things'. It's gotten dangerous, so they've discontinued the product." She looks up with a smile. "But that's fine, Aomine-san. We'll just dig around to find another brand of medication for you. We can look for another clinical trial if you'd like, if you still want to make some money off of this, but – "
She doesn't get to finish. Aomine is up and out of his seat.
"Thank you," he says curtly. "That won't be necessary. I'm going to contact the company myself."
Her smile dies.
("I told you it's hard to keep up a smile all the time, but you just don't like to listen to me, do you, Daiki?" Kise would murmur in his ear.)
"Aomine-san, you don't...by any chance..."
"This was a good session. Thank you for spending time with me today. I appreciate this. I'll talk with your secretary on the way out, I don't think I can come in next week."
"A-Aomine-san, you – "
Aomine is out of the room in a heartbeat. He books it to the elevator, ignoring the concerned glances of the secretary and a woman with her teenage son sitting in plush waiting chairs, and jams furiously at the down arrow until the doors slide open and he's safe in a cage of steel.
He slams the back of his head against the side of the elevator.
Kise looks up from where he had been leaning against the railing, an eyebrow arched. He's still smiling.
"Ready to go, Daiki?"
(Aomine Daiki had never been depressed, because he had been something much, much worse.)
(He had been in denial.)
(It was the only reason why he accepted Ryouta so willingly. Those pills had only been an extension of what he was already doing to himself.)
They're sitting on the subway. Aomine doesn't touch Kise this time, but is hypersensitive to every little shift the blonde makes.
Kise is humming again.
"Am I going crazy?" Aomine mutters. There are too many people on the train car, and he doesn't worry about being heard and perceived to be crazy. Those chattering schoolgirls were plenty loud enough to smother his voice. Aomine props his elbows on his knees and kneads at his temples. It doesn't help. "I didn't take the pills after I stepped foot into her office. But I heard you. How did I hear you?"
"You heard what you wanted to hear," Kise answers simply, twining the cord of his sweatshirt over a slim finger.
"But I didn't want to hear you."
"I didn't want to be crazy."
"I never asked for this."
A sigh. Kise's smile is gone. "I know."
Lights whizz by outside the windows in the train cart, and Aomine feels his fingers curling into fists as he begins to shake.
The small bottle in his right hand crumples inward with how hard he's squeezing it.
The last eight pills rattle in protest.
"...I hate you."
There's a soft rustling of cotton, inaudible to everyone in the train but the two, before Aomine feels Kise pressing his nose into the crook of his neck. Something rises in Aomine's throat at the warmth of the contact, and he has to bite down on his tongue so he doesn't scream over how completely, utterly unfair this all was.
(Every vile and conceited and broken and overwhelmed thought he's ever possessed would whirl around his head like a demented carousel, blending the people and train and world around him until they're a dark and light blur, and it's obvious where the distinction between Him and Them lies.)
But Kise only nuzzles under his ear and leans a soft cheek against his skin and breathes hot air that ghosts down his face like liquid fire.
"Okay," is his reply.
(Aomine had never wanted to cry more in his life.)
(What Aomine wanted to say:)
("I'm so sorry.")
("Please come back.")
("I'm sorry, I love you.")
"You're real, aren't you?"
The question is asked that night after they get home, when Aomine is picking at his chinese (again) and Kise is sitting across the table from him, watching him with a fond glint in his eye. The blonde raises a single eyebrow at the strange question.
"What do you mean?" he asks in response.
Aomine thinks for a second, picking at a shrimp, before lifting his chopsticks and examining them in the light. "Like…are you actually ghost or that...hallucination...like they say?"
(He would watch Kise as the other thinks. Everything about his expressions and mannerisms would appear perfect, just as he remembered them. Aomine would be doubtful that his mind could recreate something in such intricate detail, even with the assistance of that antidepressant.)
"I'm not a ghost," Kise finally says, slowly, his gaze falling down to his own hands. "I'm sure that I'm not a ghost, but I'm also sure that I come from your mind, Daiki. I suppose that means that you can argue that...I'm...only as real as you believe I am."
(So would that make him real or not?)
"So does that make me real, or not?" Kise asks, leaning forward on laced fingers. He shakes his head when Aomine lifts a snow pea towards him, and watches as the blue-haired man shrugs and bites into it himself.
Aomine's reply comes later.
"Does it even matter?"
And Kise smiles - wide and sweet and with all his feelings and thoughts laid out on his face, because that was how Kise always played his games.
"Do you think it matters?" he retorts.
This time, Aomine doesn't even need to think for the answer.
Kise's eyes slide closed, but his grin never wavers. "Then it doesn't."
(And yet, despite all that he had said, Aomine would check the bottle before he goes to sleep.)
(Only six pills would stare back at him.)
(The reply that Aomine had wanted to hear from Kise:)
It is a quiet morning.
Aomine stands, leaning against the wall of his living room as he waits for the inevitable stop of the classical music playing at the other end of the line. He's becoming skeptical about there being a stop, however, as he had already stood there in that exact spot with his phone to his ear for over thirty minutes now.
He's checking the company card again – for the umpteenth time, making sure that all of the numbers were input in correctly as he brushes his thumb across the gilded name of the pharmaceutical company – when a click sounds from the other end, and he straightens in surprise.
"Thank you for holding, my name is Kei, how can I – "
Aomine doesn't let him finish. "Great. Great, Kei, are you pretty high up on this chain of command thing?"
"...I'm sorry, sir, but I don't quite know what you're asking."
"As in, can I talk to you about the pills you guys produce?"
There is a faint clicking from the other end of the line, and Aomine can hear papers shifting as Kei searches frantically for something. He comes back, breathless, and asks, "I'm sorry, sir, but which pills? Our company produces many pills annually, it's going to be hard to pinpoint a certain medication unless you – "
"The antidepressants," Aomine butts in again. Something about Kei pisses him off, and reminds him a little bit about someone that he knew once back in high school, and whose name he had forgotten long ago.
"Oh!" The clicking starts with renewed fervor. "Ah, yes, I know what medication you're referring to. Unfortunately, I'm sorry to let you know that this medication was only a clinical trial, and we've happened to cancel it."
"I know about that, I was on it."
"...Oh then...is there...did you not receive the final paycheck in the mail or...?"
Aomine grits his teeth and clenches down harder on the telephone. He hasn't seen Kise all morning and maybe that was doing something funny to his head, because he can't see or think quite clearly. He slaps a palm against the wall and is alarmed when he sees that his hand is shaking with his effort to stay calm and not have a complete breakdown with poor Kei still on the line.
"I did." He turns and slams the back of his head against the wall. The spots in his vision help his mind clear a bit, and he continues his preplanned plea, "I was actually asking if it was possible for me to obtain any more of the pills. I didn't show any of the side effects that you guys were recalling them for, any of the hallucination and stuff. To be frank, I tried many pills before yours and none of them did anything to make me feel better. And you guys had the only one that was working really well for me. Do you think you can continue with my trial?"
There is a strange silence at the other end before Kei stutters into the phone, "I-I'm sorry, but please hold."
Aomine glares at the phone and contemplates murder, but patiently stands there for another ten minutes.
When the line is picked up again, it's no longer Kei on the other side, but someone much different.
He can tell by the pacifying tone of voice that something was off.
"Hello there, could you please give me your name?" the voice asks pleasantly.
"...Aomine is fine."
"Ah, it's nice to meet you, Aomine-san. So I heard that you asked for more of our cancelled antidepressants from the clinical trial?"
His hands begin to shake again. "Yes, I did."
The voice makes a soft 'hmm' sound before pausing and continuing, "Did you know, curiously enough, Aomine-san, that we've already had many people calling us, asking us for extensions to their trial or locations to buy the pills elsewhere?"
"...I didn't know."
"Yes, it is curious, isn't it? Do you know what's even more curious?"
"What?" he asks obediently, something sour settling into his stomach.
"All those people that called were the ones that overdosed on the medication, to the point of hallucination."
He is speechless.
"Aomine-san, you're not alone. We're trying to draw together a grief support group from the people that had been taking the same medication you did and saw the same things that you did. I can promise you that I can help you find the help that you des – "
Aomine pulls the phone away from him and slams his thumb down on the red 'end' key. He promptly tosses it to the far wall, where the cheap touch screen shatters and snaps the whole body of the phone in half.
He stands there, hands balled at his side, as his mouth searches for something, anything, that would make sense with what was going through his mind, and that he could scream and shout to everybody and nobody just for the slightest bit of comfort.
And, slowly, the quiet morning leaks into a quiet afternoon.
(Sometimes Kise frightened Aomine.)
(Because his presence was proof of just how desperate Aomine had become.)
The quiet afternoon does not last long.
Aomine blinks down at the short visitor standing at his doorway and wonders at a back corner of his mind if maybe he should have put on a shirt to greet this one. The silence drags on until it becomes relatively uncomfortable, and eventually Aomine's attention is even turned from his rather shirt-less state to his unexpected guest.
At a loss of what to say, he mechanically finds himself commenting, "It's been a while."
Kuroko Tetsuya, who had been studying the ceiling in his entranceway as if he could magically seal the cracks by staring, raises an eyebrow. "It's been two days," he replies.
Aomine finds his mind thrown in a loop, as the response genuinely surprises him. He quickly thinks back through the past few days and nights after that reunion at the bar, and is surprised when he realizes that the time really does tally up to only around 48 hours.
(Which would feel funny, because Aomine felt like he had trekked across hell in those two days. His logic would tell him that would be impossible – it would take over two days to get across hell.)
(More accurately, he had been at it for nearly a year and he still couldn't see the other side.)
"Huh," is the only thing he manages to voice.
He doesn't miss how Kuroko's eyes narrow slightly and the set of his mouth strains.
"Is there anything that happened that would make you think otherwise?"
Aomine shrugs helplessly.
"It's been a while," he confesses.
This time, Kuroko doesn't question him.
(Was there a difference between 'the' world and 'his' world?)
"So what're you still doing here? That night was supposed to be your last in Japan, right?"
The two of them are seated on Aomine's couch, Kuroko warming his fingers around a hot mug of tea as Aomine leans back against the cushions, head tilted back and eyes closed. It felt nice, sitting there with Kuroko again. If he kept his eyes closed, it almost felt like the old times.
"I stayed behind because I was worried about you," Kuroko replies, with no preamble like always. He seems unfazed by how Aomine stiffens and continues, "I told Taiga that I would be back a few days later, and he said that he doesn't really mind. Also, he sends you his best and wanted me to let you know that if you ever come to visit us in America, he wants you to stay on top of your game so the two of you can play together."
Aomine snorts at the typical Kagami-type greeting, but finds himself frowning when Kuroko finishes. "You didn't tell him that I stopped?"
He doesn't need to open his eyes to sense Kuroko's softest sigh. "I believe that you'll overcome this hurdle and start playing again, so no, I didn't let him know that you're taking a break."
Ah, Kuroko really hasn't changed.
"It's not just a break, Tetsu, you should understand that."
"Tet – "
"It's been nearly a year now. Aomine-kun, you need to at least start trying."
Aomine's eyes open. The fantasy of talking as younger high-school kids that still believed in a 'happily ever after' would never have lasted anyway.
Kuroko isn't fooled. "Your psychiatrist says that you were taking medication. She told me that something about you seemed off when compared to other grieving patients. She had wanted to take you off the medicine ages ago because it was only making you behave stranger and stranger, but it sounds like it was recalled anyway."
"You talked to my psychiatrist?" Aomine asks, flabbergasted. Kuroko ignores him as easily as one breathes air.
"She also told me why they were recalled."
Aomine groans and hits the back of his head against the wall with a concerning-sounding thud. That's it. The entire world was out to get him.
Kuroko turns towards him, setting his mug down on the coffee table before fixating Aomine with those horrible, all-seeing eyes. "Aomine-kun, I think we both know who you're hallucinating about when you take those pills. And I came to let you know that even if you think that what you're doing may be working, it's unhealthy and unnatural. You need to learn how to move on normally."
Aomine can't help but scoff.
(" 'Move on normally'. Is there even a 'normal' way to move on? Tetsu, don't fucking talk to me about 'normally' anything when none of this shit that's happening to me is 'normal'.")
"How's Kagami doing?" he asks suddenly. His gaze is fixed on the ceiling, so he doesn't accidentally glance at Tetsuya and lose all his fight.
"You haven't been in contact with any of us for the longest time," Kuroko brushes on, unaffected, "We all suffered afterwards, and although he was very special to you in particular, we were all affected by his death as well. You're not the only one, okay? You have to understand that being around us will help you feel better. You need to rejoin the world, Aomine-kun."
("Bullshit. Being around you guys make it worse.")
"Akashi-kun is flying in from Paris. We're all going to dinner together. Then I think they said we were going to see if that convenience store was still there – that one that we always stopped off by after practice for popsicles. We were also thinking if we could persuade the current Teikou coaches to let us borrow a court that night, just for fun. If we have time after, we could even visit that arcade again."
Aomine closes his eyes again and his jaw tightens.
"...Aomine-kun, please open your eyes."
"Get away from me."
"Aomi – "
Something changes – Aomine can feel something changing – because suddenly Kuroko's not sitting at a safe distance away anymore and there's a click as he sets down his tea on the coffee table and moves away from the couch and towards his jacket and the room feels so much colder without his presence nearby. When Kuroko next speaks, he sounds very distant and frigid.
"I understand, Aomine-kun. Take all the time you need, I suppose. You will just have to learn to trust us, because we're not going to sit around and wait for you if you keep refusing to accept what's happened and deal with it. You're only trapping yourself in the past, and it's painful to watch. Kise-kun – "
And everything that Kuroko said after that sounded like white noise as the world slowly ground to a halt.
(It would be amazing how one name can end everything.)
Aomine doesn't notice when Kuroko stops talking or leaves, taking what little warmth was in his apartment with him, but he doesn't snap out of it until he's in his bedroom and the white pill bottle is back in his hands.
He cradles it in his fingers and stares at it, waiting for answers.
(Aomine found it amusing that he only felt comfortable calling him 'Ryouta' or 'Ryou' out loud.)
(If you asked him why, he would reply that he honestly didn't know. Only a small, miniscule part of that statement would be a lie.)
(Because only a small, miniscule part of him wondered if maybe the reason he had developed a personal vendetta with that four-lettered name was because Kise hadn't responded to it that rainy night, no matter how many times and how loud and how desperately Aomine had repeated it.)
(To be honest, that was the first time Kise had ever disappointed him.)
Aomine caves in the evening.
(He would hate himself for it, but still be unable to stop himself from twisting open the cap and shaking out two of his precious supply.)
(It would be the first time Aomine realizes he's an addict.)
Aomine sits on his bed, back pressed against Kise's as he watches the sunset outside the window. Kise is facing the inside of the room, and has one of Aomine's hands in his own as he plays aimlessly with his fingers. Neither of them had spoken since Kise walked out of the bathroom, and so it's only natural that the silence breaks soon.
"You don't hate Kurokocchi for what he said," Kise notes. It's not a question, and Aomine is grateful for it.
"Could I ever hate him?" Aomine mutters.
There's a soft chuckle and Kise's shoulders quiver with the movement. He pinches playfully at the skin between Aomine's fingers and laughs harder when Aomine jerks and curses in surprise.
"Rather, you don't completely disagree with what Kurokocchi said, either."
Being with Kise in his room at sunset – with no noise around him except for their breathing and clothes rustling and Kise's humming as the world soaks in amber light and dust motes waltz around them, and when everything just looks and feels so picturesque and peaceful – clears Aomine's head of the cobwebs that had been gathering there and makes it easier to think. He realizes that Kise is right.
"Are you saying that I should give up?"
Kise doesn't reply immediately. He leans back until his head is resting on Aomine's shoulder and Aomine looks down to see eyes the color of the sky outside fixed on his ceiling.
He looks up too, wondering what it is that Kise was looking at.
They stay like that for a very long time, with the world changing and darkening around them until the lights from the city form little, uniform blocks and towers that do their best to replace the sun. Their apartment isn't too far from the city, and he can hear, very faintly, the cacophonous sounds of life and people.
"Tomorrow is the last day," Aomine finally says. He doesn't have to say more than that, because he knows that he would have been understood even if he didn't speak.
(Speaking would make it easier, though, and Aomine knew that. With all the effort it would take to open his mouth and pick words and speak them, he would be able to spend less time actually thinking about what he's saying.)
"You're thinking of taking four pills at a time? If it wasn't you, I'd be worried," Kise murmurs.
This time Aomine is the one that turns and taps his head against Kise's. He kisses Kise on the nose, and feels something in his heart lighten when the blonde squirms and mumbles something unintelligible before tucking his face in Aomine's neck to hide his flush. "You said it yourself, didn't you? I'm playing along with you and Tetsu and all those other assholes, I thought you'd be happier."
Kise's response is garbled by how he's speaking into Aomine's skin, but when nudged he turns his head to the side and repeats, "Yeah, yeah, fine."
Kise, bless him, doesn't need any more of an initiative. "It's always Kurokocchi, isn't it?" he demands, but something in his voice is too playful and all-knowing to be serious.
"That kid has a way with words," Aomine admits.
"He only got angry at you, even I could have done that much. Besides, it's not like I'm bad with words."
"Oh what bullshit, I remember that poem you wrote back in junior high."
"Shut up, I don't remember yours being much better."
"The bird on my windowsill is black. Look at its wings. It's like – "
Kise stops him by pushing him off the bed and that starts a whole new battle as Aomine drags him down too and they bicker and tease and laugh until the sun peeks back over the horizon and the citylights are dimmed for another day.
Aomine falls asleep with his head in Kise's lap, to the sensation of fingers in his hair and the sound of humming settling the room.
("You still have a life to live.")
Aomine certainly doesn't waste his last day.
He is up early, taking a shower and brushing his teeth and combing his hair and throwing on clothes and cramming food into his mouth and grabbing his wallet and pills and before he knows it, he's already out the door and down the street and on his way to the bus stop.
It's only about an hour long of a ride before he's standing back in familiar territory. Kise, who steps up to his side after Aomine swallows two of his remaining pills, is ecstatic when he spots the building of Teikou Middle School looming before them. Giggling like children, they hop the gates and sneak over to the courts, which are unfortunately locked, and find the exact spot where Kise had first been hit in the head with Aomine's basketball. Aomine even suggests that they recreate the scene, to which Kise vehemently refuses before declaring that if Aomine wanted to do it so badly, they should switch places so he could have experienced both sides.
The doors of the school are locked as well, so the two of them are left leaning against the wall of the gym and laughing and reminiscing about the time that they had to find a Peruvian girlfriend for Midorima because he needed one as his 'lucky item' on the day of an important match, or the time where they all had that sleepover and Kuroko thought it would be funny to slide clear plastic wrap over the toilet bowl, or when Akashi, after seeing Aomine's collection of magazines and the way that Momoi was staring at Kuroko, decided to collect all of the basketball club members in the largest gym to give the most detailed and persuasive explanation about how sex was bad and how they would get pregnant and die, nevermind the fact that the only girl in the room at the time was Momoi.
Without thinking, Aomine and Kise turn out of Teikou and begin to start down a familiar path that they haven't walked for years, and only realize where they are when they round the hill and find the convenience store tucked on the left side of the road. They each buy their own popsicle despite the chilly weather, and it's blue and freezing and sweeter than either of them remember it to be. Aomine finishes his first and is checking the stick to see if he won when Kise presses his popsicle against his cheek and Aomine swears to the high heavens, resulting in a kind-looking old lady in front of them to whip around and scream at him about how he was contaminating the ears of the children with his slander and would certainly descend to the lowest level of hell. Kise laughs himself to tears and has to push Aomine to keep him walking.
The arcade closed down. Aomine and Kise stand in front of it, looking into the Chinese restaurant that had replaced it with undisguised disgust.
"Well, some things had to have changed," Kise says dismissively.
They head back to the apartment.
Aomine steps out of the stairwell and onto the roof of his apartment building. He walks to the edge and leans against the railing, staring straight across at the setting sun.
The entire day had been spent running around the old places of his childhood with Kise, revisiting memories and promises forgotten and broken and people that have stepped out of their lives as easily as they had entered it. Aomine's head hurt with how much he remembered of those old days, but Kise's hand in his had made it more bearable.
Aomine had run those two pills to the very end, until he could only see Kise out of the corner of his eye and not when he was looking at him head on. That was fine with him though – he just pooled all his remaining attention onto the fingers tangled with his own.
He mindlessly digs a hand into his pocket and pulls out the pill bottle and studies it – truly studies it this time. It's white, small, and tucks itself easily into his palm. The label had been peeled off long ago, and even the sticky residue had been rubbed off with the amount of times Aomine handled it. The pills themselves were circular, and had a diameter of only the length of his smallest fingernail. He shakes the last two out onto his palm, and crumples the bottle with an air of finality and lets it drop into the alley below. He could hardly hear the echo of it clattering onto the ground.
He sits the pills on his tongue and lets the bitter taste fill his mouth.
(That's the taste of death, he would tell himself, of death and of unfairness and deceit and you will never force yourself to taste this again.)
Aomine closes his eyes and swallows.
The effect is instantaneous.
He opens his eyes. "People often tell you that your life is just some unimportant blip on the passage of time, right? How the world was spinning before you came around, and how it's going to keep turning after? And they're telling you all this because they're trying to convince you that you're unimportant, and that in the grand scheme of things, you won't matter?"
Kise's eyebrows rise in surprise, at the same time that his lips twitch up in that familiar half-smile. "Ah, is this the part where I reassure you that even after you die, you'll still live on in my memories?" he teases.
"But you won't," Aomine says. He's direct enough to surprise the grin off of Kise's face. "You're a part of me. When I go, you disappear too, Kise."
("That's why it has to be the other way around.")
They're silent for a few moments before Kise snorts softly and leans as far over the railing of the rooftop, looking straight down at the dingy alley beneath them. Aomine makes no move to stop him, and they stand like that until Kise sighs and closes his eyes, tilting his face into the wind.
"You're right," he finally admits, words sliding out as a quiet breath. "You're completely, absolutely right."
"I know," Aomine says. He sounds so blunt saying it that Kise can't help but laugh, shoulders shaking in his mirth. And it feels so natural for him to exhale and lean over the railing as well, looking straight down at the alley that Kise had always seen.
Trash cans spill their waste under the brims of their lids, and the bits and pieces of rotten fruit and once-loved toys litter the ground. Off in the darkest corner a fiery, yellow pair of eyes glinted once before slinking off. Aomine could understand why no one turned into the alley. After all, it was so inhospitable and unwelcoming that he was amazed the cat could even survive.
"But it does," Kise mumbles, so quiet that Aomine almost misses it. "It finds a way. Scraping by on whatever it can find, that stupid cat stubbornly clings onto the shadows because it doesn't want to be burned by all the lights outside...right?"
After all, there is no sign of life in the alley, but all he has to do is turn his head and Aomine can spot a young girl walking home with her friends on a school day, swinging her bags as she chitters excitedly to her friends about gossip and couples and celebrities. Her life is probably simple. It begins with the moment, and would end when the final exam that she was secretly worrying about ends. After that, something else would happen – perhaps a confession, or an upcoming holiday – that would spur on another 'life'.
She was exactly the type of person that Aomine had grown to hate. Shallow and talentless, someone who would live out a meaningless life of pleasing and being pleased. But watching as the girl and her friends turn the corner and disappear from his vision, he realizes that his head doesn't hurt nearly as much when he looks at her smile now.
He knew what the feeling was. It was the pull of the other world.
"You should go back," Kise finally says, and Aomine turns to see cat-like brown eyes staring into his own, with an intricacy of colors and patterns that he had never noticed before.
(Perhaps he had never bothered to picture Kise as so complex all this time – he hadn't needed Kise, he just needed a Kise.)
Aomine turns – away from the one person that matters most to him, and away from all the rotting lies that he'd spun to protect himself – to watch as cars drive by on the street and couples turn into restaurants and friends drag each other to the karaoke bar.
It's amazing how easily the answer comes to him now.
"Yeah, I should," he replies.
And as usual, he can feel Kise's smile before he even sees it.
"Well, alright then," Kise says. There's a pause, where Kise tilts his head back and lets his mouth fall slack, enough to where small clouds of crystals rise from his mouth and dissipate in the air. Aomine watches him for the first time in a long time, and is completely mesmerized by how the wind had bitten his lips red, and how his eyelashes flutter erratically when he opens his eyes again.
"See me off?"
Aomine doesn't reply – he doesn't have to. He helps Kise onto the railing, keeping a light hand at his hip as the blonde slowly forces himself to straighten, a bit at a time, to make sure that he doesn't topple back and over into the alley. When he stands up straight and seems steady enough, Aomine removes his grip from Kise's side and laces their fingers together, keeping their locked hands between them so he could feel the slightest pressure of Kise leaning on him.
"Are you good?"
"Yeah," is Kise's reply. He sounds breathless, cheeks flushed from the effort and the cold. "I'm okay now, really. It's your turn."
This time he catches Aomine off guard.
But Kise's smile doesn't falter. His fingers press down on Aomine's own, and the corner of his eyes crinkle. "You said that you'd send me off, go on."
It takes a while, but as the implication of what Kise was telling him begins to set in, Aomine feels his mouth running dry. The roof begins to spin, and he almost takes a step back. Kise keeps him in place though.
"No, no more running. Come on, Aominecchi, it's time."
The name burns in his chest, and he freezes in place. It hurt more than he had ever thought it would, hearing that name again, but he closes his eyes for the briefest moment and tries to get his racing heart back under control. He can feel Kise's fingertips rubbing at the dips between his knuckles to comfort him, and it works.
"What should I do?" The question is directed towards the ground. It's so uncharacteristic of him that he would have said 'fuck it' right then and there and stomped away – if it hadn't been Kise, perched precariously on a rooftop, holding onto his hands.
Kise pulls their clasped hands higher, and Aomine is forced to look up again. "Well, you didn't get a chance the first time, right?"
"To do what?"
His laugh is strangely comforting.
"Say goodbye, of course."
(The wind picked up, whipping chills down Aomine's spine.)
(It was the most alive he'd felt for a long time.)
Aomine stood on the rooftop for what felt like an hour.
Words spill out of his mouth like water.
At the end, he will hardly be able to recall what he himself had said.
I...want to thank you.
For saving my life, of course.
But also for putting up with my bullshit.
I didn't ask you to turn the steering wheel like that, and if I had another chance, I would do everything in my power to stop you from making that same stupid mistake. Probably punch you in the face if I had known what you were thinking.
Because you weren't. You weren't fucking thinking. You were selfish and stupid and had probably gotten too many ideas from those chick flicks where the guy goes out and sacrifices his life for the girl at the end of the movie...but you're a dick if you thought that's how it worked in real life, too.
That's not how you protect someone, Kise.
You know what the hell you did to me, right? Did you see me? I'd like to say that I didn't cry, but this is my last chance to say this to your face, so I want to tell you that I locked myself in the bathroom and screamed and screamed and screamed for hours and hours because of what you did.
I told you to stop this bullshit and come back to me.
I told you that I hated you.
I told you that I wish, more than anything else in the fucking world, that you would have seen that truck after me, and that I would have at least made an attempt to steer us out of the way. Maybe then I wouldn't feel so helpless and so angry.
You're a dumbass, Kise, you know that? King dumbass of all the dumbasses.
...But it worked. Actually fucking worked. Our car turned, that truck hit. I was fine. You were not.
And I cannot...I cannot fucking believe God let you get away with that one.
I'm not...I hate you for what you did, don't get me wrong, but at the same time I'm not going to keep holding a grudge.
I've done that for the past year, and look at where that's gotten me. Unemployed for months, living in my own dirt, locking myself away from humanity – all for bottles and bottles of pills that could stop the clock for a few hours so I could see you again.
And I'm sorry for that.
I really am.
But...I'm not going to keep you trapped here for much longer. After all that shit that you went through, you deserve at least this much. I promise I'm not going to insult your memory this way anymore, and that I'm going to turn around today and walk away.
Even though it's your own fucking fault, and I'm never going to let up on that, okay?
Above all, though, I wish I could just see you one last time. I want to say this to your face. Not Ryouta's face, but Kise's face.
I know that you'd probably cry.
You'd hug me like you always did, in your own stupid bone-crushing way.
I'd get to kiss you again.
It really sucks I won't be able to do that anymore.
That's okay, though.
Like Tetsu said, I still have a life to live.
Thank you for giving me that.
("You were the first person I loved.")
When he finishes, Aomine is left shuddering and shaking and holding back the prickling at his eyes. Kise smiles at him and leans down to press kisses on his eyelids before moving to whisper something in his ear.
("You are the last person I'll love.")
He doesn't say any more.
He will never need to again.
Aomine lets go.
(Kise fell backwards, eyes closed and a soft smile on his face as his arms stretched out to his sides. His blonde hair fanned out around his head like a halo.)
(Aomine's final coherent thought is that Kise is beautiful.)
okay in my defense the pagebreaks weren't that annoying when i was writing it in a word doc uwu
especially there at the end, dear god
anyway i was actually in such a rush to post this and just get it away from me for good that i haven't really read it over yet. feel free to take that as my apology for the grammatical errors and continuity errors that're lurking around in there. i'll probably get on that tomorrow or something, after my unnie glances it over for me, and then i promise it won't be nearly as bad okay
long story short sorry you had to read that hahahaha feel free to ban me from writing aokise now i have to do homework since i've finally tried to contribute to the fandom ciao ciao xx