A/N: Covers plot from the end of the Touou/Kaijou match. If you haven't read/watched to that point, please go do so before you spoil yourself!


"Game over!"

The crowd that had been infinitely supportive of both teams, with their endless shouts and cheering, fell silent. Touou had emerged victorious after a splendid and well-fought battle with rival Kaijou, but the intensity of their aces' one-on-ones left the stadium speechless. For a while, it stayed like that.

On the court, the players were just as stunned. The Touou team, of course, had expected Aomine to take them past the finish, but the plays that had led up to it were spectacular and powerful. They seemed to think that Aomine had topped all the other former Generation of Miracles players in terms of skill, but the truth was that Aomine's fierce improvement had simply started earlier. Each of the players had now begun their monumental growth, and it became evident with Kise.

"We…won." a breathless Wakamatsu stated rather plainly.

With that phrase, the silence of the gymnasium was shattered, pierced by the thunderous applause of spectators.

Thump.

Even through the deafening noise that was emitted from the onlookers, Aomine could hear the sound of Kise collapsing. He turned.

"Kise! Are you okay?" Aomine watched as Kasamatsu immediately rushed to the blond, crouching down beside him. It was apparent that Kise was struggling to stand, as his legs quivered and his hands fumbled for balance.

Without knowing or really caring about the reason, Aomine made his way over to the two Kaijou players. He bent down and effortlessly hoisted Kise up. The Touou players, which had all been congratulating each other, noticed this odd exchange between the aces of both teams and watched them curiously. It was rare for Aomine to even give a fleeting glance to the losing team, yet he was being oddly friendly.

"You all right?" Aomine asked roughly, still holding the trembling Kise.

"…Yeah. Thanks," the small forward replied after a short pause. Aomine began to pull back his hands but extended them again just as quickly the moment he saw Kise sagging towards the ground.

"Don't lie to me," he growled. "You obviously can't stand. Idiot."

Kise stiffened. He hated being weak. He wasn't sure why Aomine was even helping him. After his transformation into the monstrous player he was now, Aomine had locked away his sense of care for other players. He should be with his team, enjoying their win, perhaps boasting on the fact that he knew he would win all along.

Don't pretend to care when you don't.

"Kise." Frustration was apparent in Aomine's tone. Kise resisted the urge to glower, the shame of loss forcing him to keep his head down and his eyes averted. What has he got to be mad about? He just won, right? It's not like I'm asking him to take care of me. This is stupid.

"What is it?" the Kaijou player prompted dully. He could feel Aomine become angrier, and before he was aware of it, he was being carried off the court.

"Aomine! Where are you going?" Kise could hear the annoyed cry of Imayoshi behind them. "Get back here! We still have to exchange finalities after the match—"

He was cut off by the furious shouting of Kasamatsu. "Aomine, you idiot! Where are you taking Kise?!"

"It's none of your business!" Aomine answered gruffly, then proceeded to exit the stadium, Kise in his arms.

He strode quickly down the hall towards the Touou locker room, emitting an energized but slightly dark aura. Passersby watched curiously, but swiftly glanced away as Aomine shot them venomous glares. Kise kept silent and bit his lip as thoughts filled his head. He was confused by the current situation, but too fatigued and humiliated to ask about it. Even if he wanted to, he had lost his chance; they had reached the locker room and Aomine violently flung open the door.

Once inside, Kise was tossed forcefully against the wall. Aomine barricaded him with his arms, and he could feel the power forward's gaze as if it seared through his skin. Still, he refused to meet those blue eyes.

"Kise."

"What?"

"Look at me."

"Why should I? It's embarrassing." Kise chuckled, but there was no humor in his tone.

Aomine scowled. It was slightly unusual for Kise to abandon his flamboyant façade, but it was expected; he had just lost, after all. Plus, it was Aomine. They had been relatively good friends during their Teikou days, and whatever bitter feelings Kise harbored for Aomine now didn't change the fact that he was able to be open and honest to the latter.

With a sigh, Aomine took a hand from the wall and used it to tilt Kise's face upwards, towards his. Kise's amber eyes that glittered and shone like the sun were dim, and glazed over. They seemed a bit moist as well, but Kise was strong enough to prevent himself from crying in front of his opponent; that would only add to his shame.

"I tried…really hard," Kise managed to get out, his voice hoarse and uncooperative. I'm so weak, he thought. Have I really become stronger?

"I know."

"What do you know? You've only ever won."

Turmoil stirred in Aomine. Just what did he feel for Kise that compelled him to be so concerned? He had won, and he should have left Kise in the dust. There was no need to strengthen bonds or build friendly rivalry; that was back in Teikou. The method of improving himself and using his strength with others to win was what mattered now. Why did he even need to feel? It was so pointless.

Am I lying to myself? Aomine wondered. I don't understand this anymore.

"Call my name, Kise."

"No."

"Do you hate me?"

"Stop asking me questions. Let me go; I need to go find Kasamatsu-senpai and the others." Kise attempted an escape, but his legs betrayed him and he found himself still barred by the tanned male.

"Kise."

A mix of anger and confusion began to overcome the blond. "What do you want?" he asked sharply. "You don't even care anymore, right? You've won, right? Go and be happy already."

"Kise—"

"You're really powerful now, you know? So strong that I can't even overtake you anymore. Even with my Perfect Copy, I'm always second to you. Isn't that enough? Just let me—"

"Ryouta."

Kise's eyes widened. Even when they had been close, Aomine had never called him by his first name. Entitling people by their first names was an exclusive right for their old captain, Akashi. Then, it had sent chills down his spine. Now, it made him feverish.

Aomine, having finally countered, leaned close to the smaller male.

"I've thought about this for a while, and I think I finally understand," he proclaimed, a smirk turning the corners of his mouth upward.

"…What are you talking about—"

The blond was cut off as Aomine inched closer and closer, until finally their lips met. It wasn't a rough, or even deep kiss, as one would expect from Touou's ace, but instead a chaste and gentle one. As they parted, Kise felt himself heat up. His cheeks surged with a red tint that he did not understand the reason for, and his heart thumped loudly in his chest.

"Aominecchi…" he whispered, out of breath and flustered.

"You finally called my name."

"I—!"

"I think… I think I like you." Aomine confessed bluntly. "It's kind of stupid, and you're not a girl or anything, but I don't think there's any other reason that would explain this." He glanced down rather sheepishly. Aomine, the skilled player of a prestigious high school, had finally found an area where he had no confidence in himself at all.

"Aominecchi likes me?"

"I said that, didn't I?"

"…Why?" Kise lifted his arms to cover his face with his hands. He didn't want Aomine to see the embarrassment in his face, the confusion, the ache in his chest.

It wasn't the reaction Aomine had expected, but he hadn't really been prepared for anything in particular. I thought I had guessed correctly, he thought to himself. Was I wrong? Are you angry? I don't get it. He felt a flicker of annoyance. He was aware of his lesser intellect, but he hated to be as stupid as he was now. I don't understand anything. Say something already, dammit.

Droplets of unwanted tears formed at Kise's eyes. They accumulated until they overflowed, and began to run down his face. It was so humiliating to be so weak, to be like this. His face was a vibrant shade of scarlet as he tried desperately to wipe away the tears.

"I…I think I might…like you too," he choked out between gasps and short sobs. "This is so stupid…I feel so shaken up inside… Stupid, stupid Aominecchi!"

Aomine allowed himself a small laugh. He brushed away the salty drops from Kise's eyes with his fingers, then leaned in once more. With more ease and tenderness he kissed Kise's eyelids, one at a time.

"I guess I was dumb for trying to be cool, huh?" Aomine grinned. "I guess it's not bad to care a little, at least. Besides, you're so troublesome it's not like I have a choice." He enveloped Kise in strong arms and brought him close until the sound of their heartbeats could be heard echoing each other.

For Kise, the tears refused to stop, but Aomine wouldn't allow them to tarnish his model face. Each time they escaped from the corners of his eyes, Aomine would sweep them away, pressing soft kisses to Kise's forehead, mouth, and neck, and rocking ever so slightly to soothe the weeping boy.

They stayed like that for a while. Wrapped in each other's scent, the missing piece of their heart they thought they didn't need was slowly put back in place.