we were young for too soon - 愛は長くて、青春短くて

Kise meets with Aomine again, after so many years, on his wedding day in Azabu. Kise weds a man—but of course, wasn't he so queer—Kasamatsu's cousin, and everyone except for his father seems the least bit surprised. His groom's parents rented an old summerhouse in downtown Azabu, the splitting sort of architecture described in Murakami's decade-old shelf-topper, 1Q84, as the Willow House. The author's dead now, and Japan has not changed but so much. The ceremony is a tiny affair, for the country has only newly embraced the ideology and conceptual meekness of basic human rights. They embellish the place in a European garden wedding set-up, an arch here and there, dwindled up in vines of roses red, lilies yellow, and round tables with sheets white everywhere. It's pretty, Kise thinks, and his groom finds him endearing.

Aomine shows up after divorcee Midorima, clad in a blue shirt, a midnight blue tie, his vest unbuttoned and his blazer taken off, most indubitably wrinkled rolled up and slung over his right wrist. His wife, fashioning a blue houmongi, pays no heed, more interested in the party set up and their fair-skinned son dressed in matching blue. Aomine reminds him of his middle school days with the blue shirt transparent enough to be Teikou-chuu summer uniform, when Aomine didn't believe in marriage and wanted to be a police officer. Both didn't work out. Aomine marries a Kyushu woman and works as a firearm trade manager, which, according to everybody else, is way more profiting and cooler than the average Joe of a drab policeman. Kise thinks it's only fair, because he is also not a pilot soaring the Mediterranean skies, but a movie director, and people harbour the same sentiment to his present as they do to Aomine's.

Aomine says, congratulations, ever so sincerely on the mock-altar Kise's mother requested for in the vestibule of the summerhouse, even if it's exceedingly clear that the salute holds a double entendre for I thought so. The words, simple as it is, nudges a blade to Kise's chest. It hurts him, the mutual telepathy between them indissoluble, wounds him and claws open all the stitched-up scars Aomine has marred on Kise many, many years ago, when they were wide eyed schoolboys in Tokyo, who fished for dreams in the Tama River, and who were lost in the heat of it all. I thought so, derisive, cynical, pitying, as if Aomine was a spectator who foretells everything, holding an expecting, conceited I thought so. You'll end up just like this.

But I won't.

(So congratulations to that.)

Kise loathes him, loathes him with all his heart the same way he loathed the boy with bushy hair and slouched spine who sat right in front of him in third year of middle school, the boy whose collars were always rumpled, creased, and damp either with sheens of sweat or melted snow. Kise loathes that boy, and, congratulations, loves him all over again. He loves the boy like summer, like the cicadas droning somewhere outside of Teikou's gymnasium, humming in a chorus, like the simple vow of I'll catch them, that'll shut 'em up. Kise remembers that. It strikes him like a blow, a bolt: a faraway, crackling, cassette-tape voice of the PA announcing final dismissal, a Spitz's Sora mo Toberu Hazu that played discreetly seven minutes after, and then Cherry, Cherry that the boy sang along to, took Kise's hands and sang along to. Kise sat on his lap, palm on his chest—and oh, that chest used to be so small, so narrow, he could feel the sturdy bone on the tips of his fingers—said something along the lines of I want to kiss you. Aomine smiled, grinned sheepishly drunk on Cherry, and kissed him first, and it wasn't anything close to shy, it was daring and full on his lips, and only then did Aomine say let's try it out. Then they kissed once more, and once more. Then Aomine wrenched open a water bottle, and for some reason it was cold, chilled, and poured it over their heads, to seep inside their basketball shirts and down the bend of Kise's spine. Then they kissed once more. They kissed too much, yet still couldn't get enough.

In the same time, the same beat of his heart, Kise remembers that he loves the boy like winter as well, like the February short of March, like the bittersweet Belgian chocolates and the craggy candy wrappers below his desk, below the boy's desk, and the scribbles of nonsense on top of the desk, the scribbles of something more than nonsense underneath. Winter crumpled Aomine and the daring, honey-lipped boy whom seized him by the wrist and led him through the warped, zigzag maze. The boy who uttered, who promised, everything's going to be all right. Winter degraded him into a coward, and Kise into a crybaby. Even now Kise wouldn't forget, their exchange of words a suppressed groan of a shout, the frost below their eyelids, how it melted away and looked like tears. Aomine walked away between the black trees wading through the ankle-deep snow. Didn't even say sorry. Kise stood, like all his nerves were thumbtacked to the air, his feet impaled to the ground. His chest had hurt so much, and he felt like he had swallowed a chicken bone whole and was unable to choke it out. Ah, he couldn't even breathe. It hurt, it hurt, it hurt. It hurt so much he couldn't even cry, the tears dried and desiccated. It hurt so much he wished he could drive a blade into it just to stop it all. The coming spring was so cold.

Then after that time just blurred away, a flurry of sakura petals white and pink, a whirlwind of springtime sadness, stole him away inescapable. He sat behind the boy for a couple of weeks, and then never again. Those weeks were torture. The boy was unreachable, as though if Kise had stretched his arm, he'd still be miles away. They sang Spitz's Kaede on graduation day. Midorima played the piano and Murasakibara didn't arrive until late. Momoi pinched his cheeks and was not dare to inquire why he cried. They all sang; it ricocheted inside Kise's head like the whirlwind. Sayonara, kimi no koe wo daite aruiteyuku.

'Boku no mama de, doko made todoku darou.'

Aomine kissed him behind the auditorium and left his second button in Kise's blazer pocket.

Eighteen years later Kise keeps the button stacked along with all the small trinkets, like Aomine's eraser, inside his box of memories (which was Kuroko's first birthday present to him). Someday his husband will find it and snickers at him jokingly, and his children will bombard him with question marks, and Kise will bubble his mouth with lies. In the mean time, Kise ignores it. Because now is eighteen years later and he kisses his groom instead of Aomine, and his groom, nine centimetres shorter than him, has a pair of thinner lips and wider eyes. It's nothing like Aomine's. Kise is through with the past and the past, merciful, is through with him. The ceremony lasts a bit longer than his graduation's. Instead of tea they drink champagne and instead of robes they wear suits. He waves at Kuroko and his daughter, then Akashi in his kimono, then Momoi and her pretty pearl earrings. Midorima tells him to close his eyes for a second, and see if they look like the kids in Teikou summer uniform, yelling school names in basketball courts eating popsicles from the nearby convenience store. Before Kise gets a chance, Midorima says he's remarrying.

'To whom?'



'She sat in front of me in third year.'

Kise bites his lips and cackles. He can see Momoi in her Teikou skirt too long compared to her Touou skirt too short. She had placed an offering of jagariko on Murasakibara's desk and diagnosed the whole of Teikou with a disease of falling in love with classmate's back. Midorima murmurs a line from a movie that runs almost longer than middle school. We may be through with the past, but the past ain't through with us. Kise throws a glance at Aomine and gives a smile like all his smiles back then, a split second one whenever Aomine peeked behind.

His groom catches him with the same smile when they are alone in the dressing room, taking off each other's necktie in a jest and paving past tenses about their first love. His groom's first love was a classmate during primary school, whose name and face he'd kill to remember. Kise says his first love is his first man in middle school, the one with the blue shirt and a wife in a lovely houmongi. Aomine, Kise says. It's funny how our last names both have colour.

'What happened?'

'I don't know. I loved him for so long, and we were young for so soon.'

A/N: This was agonizingly slow and short.