Disclaimer: Yeah, you guessed it. I'm really not Fujimaki-sensei.
Kuroko is like a puzzle.
Not just any puzzle at that, rather one of those 1000, 2000, 3000 piece puzzles. Maybe more. One of those with so many little details, various, yet similar, that your head starts to hurt just by looking at them. One of those you spend weeks on, only to give up in the end.
Aomine doesn't give up.
He never does, so it's not really a surprise. He never gives up and it's no different with Kuroko.
People have tried to understand the quiet boy, God, he knows how many people have tried.
It's special with his kind. Those expressionless eyes, seemingly cold demeanour, that shyness many find endearing ('damn, it's not like that at all, that's not him at all') - they make people want to decipher them. They bring out that nasty, selfish side in others – the one that screams for someone special, someone who only they would be able to understand, someone who will look only at them, love only them, just because those lonely souls could never be accepted by anybody else.
They catch occasional hints of a smile on Kuroko's face and they go mad with want, with need. Lust and possessiveness cloud their minds and they don't ever want to let him smile at anyone else like that for as long as he lives. It's so fucking nauseating and Aomine is sincerely disgusted by it all.
But damn him if he isn't one of them.
He feels dirty.
He learns to live with it.
He's never been nice, he's never been generous, never kind, compassionate, understanding.
He doesn't want Kuroko to be happy. He wants him to be his.
At least he thinks so at first. But weeks, months, even years pass by. He never acts on his desires.
Instead, he watches. He watches Kuroko so intently that he's starting to feel like a stalker. He feels a bit creepy. Maybe a lot creepy. Whatever. He finds he doesn't care.
Eventually, the pieces start to fall into place. Little by little, he starts to understand the boy more.
He notices how Kuroko only smiles when he's genuinely happy. You could tell the funniest joke of all times, his lips wouldn't even twitch.
He gets that he is not shy at all; he just doesn't like to talk much.
He recognizes happiness, sadness, annoyance, amusement on Kuroko's face – it's all in his eyes. Aomine wonders how he hadn't seen it before.
But most importantly, he knows that Kuroko is by no means a cold, emotionless person so many take him for. He knows what people think of Kuroko, and the boy knows it too, Aomine can tell.
Sometimes it's almost too much to take, even when there is no more than the slightest hint of sadness, of regret in those ocean eyes. Aomine wants nothing more than to gather the boy in his arms and whisper 'shh, it's okay' for as many times as Kuroko needs him to.
It is the first time he thinks this that he realizes it – it's sudden and he's not prepared for the rush of emotions that seem to crawl up his skin, churn in his stomach and take over his brain until there's not a single coherent thought left in it but –
He's in love.
And honestly, it scares the shit out of him.
His grip on Kuroko is weakening day by day.
The boy looks more and more distant, he doesn't talk much, never seems to smile anymore.
The worst is – that coldness he had never felt before, that he would have sworn didn't even exist, now emanates from Kuroko's eyes and chills him to the bone.
Aomine knows he is the only one to blame. He and his stupid ways, he and his goddamned pride.
He can never tell what the other boy is thinking anymore, all he can see now is that same expressionless face from two years ago, the one that anyone else sees when they look at Kuroko.
It feels like all the puzzle pieces are being pulled apart and he can't hold on to any.
He hates it. Aomine doesn't think he's ever felt worse.
Kuroko leaves the club right after the Nationals. He never meets his eyes again through the rest of their third year at middle school. Never, until they meet again at the Interhigh, many months later.
Seirin is a weak team. Aomine sees the game as a waste of time.
He would never admit it out loud, but he is scared. So fucking scared of what kind of look Kuroko will have in his eyes, even more scared of not being able to identify it at all.
Kuroko's face doesn't betray much as he looks Aomine straight in the eyes. There is an evident tension between them though, one that could be cut with a knife.
Kuroko doesn't give up. Aomine is glad that at least that didn't change. His fighting spirit is still as strong as ever, still indestructible. At least he can claim to know that one thing about Kuroko.
The outcome of the match brings happiness to nobody. Aomine wishes Kuroko would just punch him.
The game at the Winter Cup is torture.
Here, for the first time, Aomine has no doubt that Kuroko is happy, genuinely happy in this new team of his. He's glad, Kuroko deserves it.
But the way Kuroko and Kagami look at each other is too much for him to handle. It's the look of complete understanding and unwavering trust, the look of sheer determination and will.
It's the bond of steel – it's what they used to have.
It's as if that cheeky bastard reaches out and grips the very last puzzle piece he's been clutching in his hand for god knows how long, mercilessly pulling it away from him 'cause – what is he to Kuroko now? Nothing. He doesn't know a thing about him anymore; he's not even worth that single damn piece of him.
Losing feels...liberating, somehow, Aomine decides. He is shocked, yes; he is completely baffled and it doesn't exactly sit well with him but in some weird, messed up way, he feels – happy, almost.
Then Kuroko says: "Aomine-kun, that time, we didn't bump fists. Don't ignore me this time."
And when he, feigning reluctance, bumps his fist against Kuroko's, for however the brief moment, everything falls back into place.
"Tetsu," Aomine calls out to the empty locker-room.
Aomine shivers. Okay, not so empty locker-room.
"You haven't done that in a while."
"You haven't been around in a while," Kuroko retorts in a matter-of-fact voice.
Aomine winces at that.
"So...you and Kagami," Aomine leaves the question hanging. He can't quite keep the bitterness out of his voice.
"It's not what you think."
Aomine can't say he's surprised by this, Kuroko has always been perceptive.
'What do you mean 'it's not what I think'?' he asks nonetheless.
Kuroko keeps the straight face: "We're friends. I don't love him. I love you," he says in one breath.
Aomine stares at him for the longest time.
"Did you just-"
"Said I love you? Yes." There is a slightest hint of smile on his lips.
"So, you know that I... I mean, towards you, I-"
Aomine stammers: 'H-h-how long have you known?'
"Oh, for quite some time now," Kuroko replies.
He really doesn't look like he's doing anything more than leading a casual conversation, Aomine notices. It's unnerving alright, but what about Kuroko isn't?
"Why didn't you say anything?!" Aomine demands angrily. God knows how much trouble it could have saved them both.
"Hmm...I don't really know," Kuroko shrugs.
Aomine would be pissed if he wasn't so damn happy.
"Figured it was long overdue."
"You're damn right it was!" Aomine yells.
Silence fills the room. There are so many things left unsaid, Aomine doesn't know where to start. The only thing going through his mind is –'
"I'm so fucking sorry, Tetsu." He realizes he said it out loud.
Kuroko doesn't say anything, but he doesn't need to. His smile is one of forgiveness.
"So, um..." Aomine starts, suddenly uncomfortable. "What now?"
Kuroko actually laughs a little: "I think we're supposed to kiss now," he supplies helpfully.
Aomine's lips spread into a wide grin before he leans down to capture Kuroko's lips with his own.
And those stupid puzzle pieces are slowly coming back together. They don't form a full picture yet, far from it, but there's time.
Aomine makes a mental note to get super strong glue. He has no intention of losing a single piece ever again.
A/N – So, all that mental anguish and emo, possibly OOC Aomine and all you get is a single, petty line in which they kiss at the end – yeah, I'm evil that way.
I have no idea how the supposedly angsty fanfiction turned out to full-blown fluff in the end. I think I'm incapable of writing sad endings.
Ahh, I'm really not sure about this. Please tell me what you think, let me out of my suffering.