I can't even begin to apologize for how late this is. Real life caught up with me and I'm really sorry. I hope it's a good chapter for any of you who're still reading.
Enough delaying, though! Here it is.
Getting ready for work wasn't easy. They'd formed a routine together, in which neither could really step out of the house on time without the other's help, and Kuroko was reminded of it when he instinctively put his hand out for the coffee he thought should be ready, but wasn't- a surge of pain flittering through him. At the very least, he thought thankfully, Daiki didn't have the energy a thirteen-year-old threw around; having his much older body, but it was easy to forget that the boy literally knew nothing of their lifestyle. He'd walk around the flat multiple times and stare bewilderedly at his own hands as they recognized the texture of things he'd never seen once in his life. Eye contact was non-existent, and when Kuroko made breakfast for the both of them, Daiki looked like a stranger in a stranger's house (and wasn't he, really?), eating with delicacy and apparent manners he was quite sure the man didn't even posses.
Leaving for work was even harder than preparing for it; Kuroko had to account for at least thirty different things that hadn't even crossed his mind on the previous day, having had to deal with far more important and worrying circumstances. Leaving food so his charge (how he hated to call him that, but he was a thirteen year old, they didn't know each other, and Kuroko refused to taint a child's innocence with a burden as heavy as 'lover') wouldn't have to take a swing at the kitchen and possibly burn or cut half his hands off, explaining to the boy where things were, setting boundaries, calling Daiki's workplace, updating Midorima every couple of days…
He glanced at the clock to see how much time he had left, and sat down with a slump a pensive look on his face as a sudden and slightly unwelcome amount of responsibility fell on his shoulders. The two of them were, in the past and for twelve years, lovers. They held hands, shared kisses long and hot, and short and sweet; they had one bed for the two of them, and one house the same. They were the very definition of two people that were in love.
Now he had to be a parent to his lover, a figure to look up to, for as long as Daiki remained memory less, and well, that wasn't a certain amount of time at all.
Kuroko was brought out of his unpleasant thoughts as a clutter of falling utensils reached his ears. Alarmed, he rushed to the source, but soon stopped when he was met by a startled boy on the floor, forks and spoons in disarray around him.
"Are you-" Kuroko's voice failed him as Daiki flinched and quickly looked away, an apologetic slump in his frame. The teacher took the sight in, and sighed as dread for the next 'undisclosed time period' filled him.
He looked vulnerable.
It wasn't like Daiki, he realized; it just didn't sit well with him. The man barely accepted feelings as a whole, and he had a much harder time showing them. When he did, he was usually dead-drunk and was exclusively in the company of Kuroko. It was off-putting to see him in a state of such confusion, but at the same time, it just proved how much help the boy really needed.
He kneeled in front of his charge, and placed his hands on his shoulders as gently as he could. "Are you okay?" Midnight-colored eyes still not daring to look at his own, he nodded. "Since I'm gonna stay here for a while, I figured I might as well learn to get around." Kuroko chuckled lightly, standing up and forcing Daiki with him and towards the living room, where the sofa and TV sat.
The teacher handed the TV's controller to the man, explicitly told him to stay put at least ten times (of course paraphrasing, even when he was 30, he stopped listening after the first repetition, it seemed.) until in a Daiki-like manner, he rolled his eyes at Kuroko, a 'yeah yeah' soft on his tongue.
Pleased with the reaction, and late already, Kuroko went to the door, house keys in his right pocket and his phone in the other one. He glanced at the boy for a second, and spoke. "Don't be afraid to call, should you need anything." Daiki of course, waved him off, something in the television already captivating his short-spanned attention.
Just as he crossed the threshold and was out in the corridor, his phone vibrated. Kuroko fished his phone out, and answered.
"Mr. Kuroko?" It was his boss. He welcomed her voice.
"Yes, Mrs. Mayumi?" A cough on the other side of the call, and the principal continued. "How is everything working out with Mr. Aomine?"
While it was expected, it didn't mean he wanted to deal with answering. Kuroko bit his lip as he worried over how much to tell the director, but being honest was one of his most prominent life mottos, so he went for everything. She stayed silent for the five minutes the explanation took, and with a deep breath (and apparently no small amount of contained irritation -was that incredulity?) forced Kuroko to stay home.
"How can you even think of going to work when all of this-" She began, only to be cut off by an equally stressed Kuroko.
"But what about the others? We're short-staffed as it is; I need to-" It was like a game of who spoke over who, and Mrs. Mayumi being his superior, won quite easily.
"No. You've earned yourself the right to at least hree months worth a vacation. You have a spotless record and you've come in on days you should have stayed home." With a tone that screamed authority and finality, she delivered the final blow. Kuroko stayed silent the whole time.
"I want you to stay home and tend to Aomine, and yourself. If I see you anywhere near the school, I will force you to go back home. Now," she started one last time.
"Turn around, and start walking, if you will." Quietly, Kuroko stayed put, his mouth pulling downwards as the disturbing feeling of leaving his work unattended settled in his stomach. As if sensing his hesitation, the Principal coughed. "Three months. You can come back after three months. Take care." Then, the distinctive beep of an ended call.
Kuroko walked back to his apartment, a hole forming in his chest as unease rushed through him. Stopping in front of his door, the knob remained still until he calmed down. While he really was a workaholic and actually felt terrible for a five-minute tardy, going somewhere that didn't make Daiki's condition blaringly obvious was something he needed. A distraction, and something he could throw himself into easily; smiling children and helpful coworkers were just what he needed, but he had been deprived of that, too.
The teacher felt even worse when he realized the train of thought he had allowed himself to follow. He should want to help Daiki with his recovery, to be with him and be of as much assistance as possible, but his life had seemed to derail from its usually calm and peaceful path, and it hadn't allowed him to catch his breath for even a second, being bombarded with worry and fear from the moment he got the call.
With a heavy sigh and a shake of his head, Kuroko went back into his flat and left his coat in the closet to the right of the entrance, cerulean eyes immediately tracking Daiki. He found him lying on his back comfortably, a goofy grin on his face as he snorted at whatever was playing on the TV. He couldn't help but smile, the youthful expression on Daiki's face lifting his own gloom. Suddenly, eyes like midnight met his own, and widened in embarrassed shock as the boy hurriedly lifted himself up with a blush on his face. He straightened his back and cleared his throat, seemingly expecting an explanation as to why his caretaker was back so soon.
"I'm going to be taking care of you full time." Tried the teacher. As if he didn't care, Daiki shrugged, muttering under his breath. "I'll be in your care then." He then proceeded to continue watching the TV to hide his shame, soon forgetting it in favor of the show.
Kuroko tried to speak and get him to open up, but talking to a thirty year old Daiki when he was busy was hard, and talking to a thirteen year old one proved to be far beyond Kuroko's persuasive ability, so he gave up soon. Not only were there not any subjects of mutual interest (besides basketball, but that just seemed silly), but Daiki didn't know him.
Kuroko's hands clenched tightly at the reminder.
To distract himself, the teacher looked over to the clock handing on the wall on top of Daiki, heaving a breath when he saw that it was barely half past nine. He took off his shoes and went for the kitchen, thinking a cup of coffee would hit him just fine that moment. He tried to ignore how wrong it felt when he did, as Daiki always, always told him to 'never touch the thing' since he 'couldn't use it to save his life'.
Kuroko slammed two cups down, one navy blue and one black, which scared the boy, if his yelp was any indication. "Sorry." He apologized, but the tone was bitter and unfeeling. Daiki stared at him for a couple of seconds, and then shifted his gaze to the cups. He quirked an eyebrow at the blue one. "You like your coffee, huh?" He didn't respond, but the teacher's slight glare was answer enough. "I can't drink coffee."
Kuroko nodded, and then, almost mechanically, threw the apparently offending liquid into the sink. He plopped down on the couch next to Daiki, but left as much space between them as he could.
"Mom doesn't let me." He offered as an explanation. "Says the caffeine gives me a sugar rush I don't need." Kuroko chuckled as the image of a tiny, dark-skinned ball of activity called Aomine Daiki bounced off the walls of his huge mansion, destroying everything and some more in his path popped into his head. The expression quickly turned into a scoff as he thought of Daiki's mother, and their last conversation.
"I'm not your mother." He almost spat. The tone made Daiki flinch, and in turn, Kuroko apologized again profusely, guiltily looking away from his charge. "I didn't mean it like that."
Almost shyly, the boy nodded and Kuroko could have sworn a thousand and one different thoughts passed through his head.
"Yeah, I know." Daiki placed his hand under his chin and looked towards the window, no longer paying attention to the almost white noise coming from the TV. Kuroko gingerly sipped at his coffee and stayed silent even when it burned his tongue.
It was awkward. He could see from the corner of his eyes how the boy twitched at the slightest movement Kuroko made, and how his eyes nervously darted around the room. His hands trembled and it was so incredibly wrong. Daiki was all about shouting his beliefs at the top of his lungs, setting his foot down when he disagreed and not budging an inch. He was strong and confident, brash and free to do whatever he pleased, whenever he pleased because he was Aomine Daiki and no one told him what to do.
A subdued, nervous, trembling, and polite Daiki was far more irking than anything he had ever had to live with, and it had barely been a day. It didn't make sense, either. Daiki was obnoxious and bright from day one, at the start of middle school. It felt like he was dealing with an entirely different person.
It was going to be a process; a slow and painful one, but it was something he had to do nonetheless. Kuroko wasn't one to sit around and mope; he did things the moment he set himself to them, and so, with newfound resolve (which in retrospective he still doesn't know where he pulled out of) looked at Daiki with determination burning in his eyes.
He got along fine with the boy when he first met him, and it wasn't going to be any different this time, even if there was about a twenty year age gap between them.
"If you're going to live here," he started, followed by a glance at Daiki. "-you're going to have to talk to me through more than grunts." Daiki shrunk in response, followed by a small 'hmph.' This only served to irk Kuroko, and he raised an eyebrow before clearing his throat and staring pointedly.
Seconds passed, and then minutes.
"Okay-" Internally, Kuroko was having a small victory party, until the boy finished. "-but, don't complain later." The weight those words carried was not left unnoticed. The teacher placed his hand on Daiki's much bigger head. "Didn't you hear me a while ago?"
He laughed when the kid's eyebrow's furrowed, comically slow. Kuroko's smile never faltered. "I'm not your mother." He said. Daiki barely nodded, but there was a grin forming on his face that he was very obviously trying to fight. Yet, just like everything about him, it shone through regardless.
Daiki barely spoke for the rest of the day, but there was an air of, perhaps not trust, but peace around him and his replies seemed much more mindless whenever Kuroko asked anything. Mostly in a groggy mindset, he kept himself busy with the television, and only left when the teacher asked something of him.
Once dinner time came around, though, he was quite talkative- but only if you compared it to his 'usual' self. Daiki spoke of his hobbies and of basketball. Or perhaps of basketball and his hobbies, because basketball was on an entirely different level, obviously. He talked about, if only slightly, life at his home and how his parents were, that one maid he really liked named Hanako. He also spoke about Momoi, referring to her as Satsuki, or his favorite endearment-proof one, 'that stupid girl.' Kuroko just laughed, much to Daiki's chagrin.
By the end of the meal, the he and Daiki were quite full, but they kept talking anyway. The boy's eyes lit up and Kuroko could tell- He understood it so much it hurt- how deprived the boy was. He literally had no one, no one, to talk to and the moment someone listened for even a second, it all came pouring out like the torrent of emotions and experiences it was.
One look at the teacher's indulgent and happy face had him reeling. He tensed in his seat, and his cheeks were brighter than a tomato on a good day. "I told you to not complain later."
"Then stop giving me that weird look, you-" He stopped mid-sentence, eyebrows lifting and eyes softening, as if a realization hit him. Then, he fiercely looked at Kuroko. "What should I call you?" Taken aback by Daiki's sudden intensity, (which really shouldn't surprise him anymore, Daiki could probably stare the life out of an owl) he was rooted to the spot.
"Uh, yes?" He asked smartly.
"Your name-" Daiki fumbled with his words momentarily, and then his whole body lit up in satisfaction. "Kuroko Tetsu, right?" The teacher didn't know if he should smile or be upset. 'Tetsu'. It was almost funny how, even with no memories, Daiki still managed to call him that. It was like something up there was pulling at his heart strings, and found some deep-rooted sick pleasure in seeing him suffer.
"You almost got it. My full name is Kuroko Tetsuya-" He clicked his tongue- really had to get rid of that habit. "-Aomine." Daiki nodded. "Yeah, but Kuroko makes me feel like I'm talking to someone way younger than me, and Tetsuya's a mouthful. You're Tetsu to me." He then bristled and added as an afterthought, "If it's fine with you…"
The teacher slumped in his seat and almost into his plate. Yes, someone up there definitely hated him. Nonetheless, he agreed.
"Yes, that's fine."It was worth every clench his heart did when Daiki smiled, though.
The clock chimed eight and they stood up from their seats, Kuroko to wash the dishes (he'd have his chores doubled, now that Daiki was out of commission, but then again, he also didn't have to work- not to mention his lover barely did chores) and Daiki to watch TV, for the seventeenth time in the day. His eyes lost focus by nine, and by nine fifteen he was falling asleep, the remote control slipping out of his hands slowly.
"Aomine, go to bed if you're tired." Kuroko chimed, worried for Daiki's health. Even if he had to change his bandages, but that could wait until ex-policeman needed as much sleep as he could get, and it wasn't doing him any good to watch such a pointless TV show. Regardless of it being the older man's preference, too. Kuroko always berated him for watching it- Top Gear, stupidest show on Earth, if he had any say in it.
"'m not tired."
Kuroko stared at him. "Of course you're not; that yawn isn't an indication at all." A grin was his only response, and the boy stood up to stretch as far as he could, popping his bones into place.
"You win this time, Tetsu." Daiki shuffled towards the bedroom, but then stopped and looked from Kuroko, to the sofa, to the bedroom. "Where're you gonna sleep?" He half-slurred.
"Hmmm?" The dishes were done, and he took off his gloves to look at the boy. "In the sofa, just like yesterday." Daiki stared, and Kuroko did th same.
"Isn't this- your house?"
The teacher heaved a sigh and walked over to Daiki. "First of all- our house." He pointed to the both of them with a finger. "You are living here now, am I wrong?"
"Well, no, but-"
Kuroko interrupted. "No buts." He shook his head. "The sick get priority in this household, and so, off to bed, now." Daiki pouted the moment Kuroko mentioned 'sick', but didn't really say anything to defend his healthiness.
"The bed's huge. That's not really a good point." The teen huffed out. Kuroko just side-glanced him, eyebrows taking on the shape of slight annoyance, but on the inside he was at a loss of what to do. He was worried. The teacher snuggled up to the man in his sleep instinctively, and just the thought of having him at his side but not being able to touch him had him reeling.
It was also true that injured and sick people were of his utmost concern, and Daiki moved plenty while he was asleep- He was going to do enough damage to himself without Kuroko there to help him, and so it was decided.
"No." Kuroko crossed his arms, sternly staring at the boy, until he clicked his tongue and shied his eyes away from the intense look. Once again, silence befell the cozy apartment, and Daiki returned himself to the television as a means for distraction from the other, his sleepiness fading from the squabble.
Since he wasn't going to sleep, anyway, Kuroko decided to clean and rewrap the bandages around the big lump on his charge's partly shaven head. It was an exercise in patience, as the boy was restless and wouldn't sit still, but even more so his neck was moving in an effort to throw skittering glances at him, not used to the kind and tender hands.
As Kuroko finished, he lightly patted Daiki's head while his eyes swept over the room towards the big clock on the wall reading five minutes to ten. It was just a matter of seconds before it became a glaring contest.
It was like they were fourteen all over again- Kuroko and his best friend at three in the morning, with a stern expression decorating his face and a feeling in the back of his head that predicted the black bags that would sit under his eyes next morning. Daiki would hold a challenging scoff, screaming 'you're not my mother', 'I do what I want', morphing slowly into 'Come on, Tetsu' and just a smidgen of very manly puppy eyes.
It was always five in the morning by the time they were done, in between pillow fights and just passing a ball while they spoke of big dreams and small worries, and half an hour later after wriggling into bed (not to sleep, of course; just to poke each other in the stomach with whichever extremities got there faster in a competition based on don't-giggle-and-wake-the-team-up- and Akashi always made them run ten extra laps when they eventually lost.)
And just like back then, Kuroko couldn't help the tiny smile that formed on his lips; already having lost the moment he looked at the clock. Sighing, he nodded once and his lips quirk again at the jump and pump Daiki does before running concernedly at his side as he sits back down, clutching his head.
"Just dizzy- Shouldn't have done that." Kuroko agrees in his head, but he doesn't say anything because it's been a long day for the boy already, there's no need to make it worse.
He settled down to watch TV with the now ex-policeman, and decides on some boring cooking show that neither he nor Daiki are watching. He got the results he had expected, or hoped for soon enough, a weight falling on his shoulder and the distinctive sound of Daiki sleeping filled the living room.
Looking over, the teacher stared at the relaxed expression, Daiki's cheekbones, his short hair (and those two gray ones, one and a half, if you asked the man), his eyebrows, the curve of his chin and his nose, dark skin marred by tiny scars he had gotten over the years and the need to run pale hands through midnight-blue hair overtook him. Daiki's asleep; guilt rose in him like a backwards waterfall, but Kuroko gave in. Every inch his hands got closer to the tired face, his shame rose.
But it became a need, almost.
He placed his right hand on Daiki's cheek, relearning the warmth and feel of his skin in a split second, slowly moving the offending limb towards his hair and twirling his fingers with enough care to leave his already injured head as it is. Kuroko left his hand like that for minutes, and ran his hand down the taller one's nose, against his eyelashes and eyelids, turning his body to see the face of the man he fell in love with clearly.
The extra weight that fell on him as he turned was unexpected if not unwelcome, and Kuroko found himself leaning on the couch to support it as Daiki's head now rested on his chest instead of his shoulders. As he looked down, one last surge of guilt hit him, together with the faintest traces of shamelessness lighting up in him once again.
Slowly, making sure that his companion was by no means awake or close to consciousness, the teacher rested his chin in between tufts of hair- the smell of aftershave, mint, leather and a touch of him, and not for the last time, it was like he was ripped in half over and over again. The tears came and they went, together with the ticking of the clock, the kisses to the crown of his head with barely audible 'I love you's.
(He wanted to stop, right then and there. It was wrong, it was wrong but he also didn't care anymore because he was madly in love and everything had been taken away from him- all of it. And damn him if he couldn't even tell Daiki how much he loved him when the man couldn't even hear the words to begin with.)
The morning came as suddenly as sleep had caught him some time after five because his own salted water kept him awake; his muscles ached and so did his head, his eyes were irritated and swollen and his throat felt like he had eaten a pile of wood. There was also a shirt, one he recognized as Daiki's on him, but the owner was somewhere out of his sight.
Tiredly, Kuroko groaned as he sat up and removed the shirt, his bones creaking and popping as he remembered belatedly that Daiki was heavy. Very heavy.
Rubbing his eyes to wake up, mental alarms flared up in his mind when he came to the full understanding of his charge not being there. The boy was noisy and destructive, and it didn't usually take more than two seconds for Kuroko to find him, as he was always doing something that garnered attention.
Daiki wasn't in the kitchen, or in their room, or in the bathroom or anywhere within reason. It was barely eleven in the morning, and he was already up and running like a madman was chasing him, five minutes after cracking his eyes open.
The last choice he had was the 'room', but neither of them ever went in there, eventually turning into a storage room, instead of what it was originally intended for; Daiki was never there. Of course, Kuroko was nothing if not thorough, so just to make sure, he checked it for any sign of the man.
Not all that surprised, after what seemed like three hours with worry at the top of his lungs, he found him precisely where he had least expected him to be, in front of the piano (that no one had touched in years; the thing was just collecting dust) perched on the seat in front, the tap lifted and his fingers hovering over the white keys , the outside world blocked.
"Good morning." Kuroko tried. Daiki jumped and screamed, almost bodily swerving to look at him. As a reaction, his body fell when he tripped over literally nothing and together with a loud thump that shook the floor and his limbs all over the place, he was on his butt in a split second.
Kuroko stopped himself at the last moment from laughing, not too worried for Daiki's behind or well being; more preoccupied for his pride, and also interested in the reason he was in the room in the first place. When he asked after his charge stood up rubbing his back and groaning, he shrugged.
"It's been ages since I've tried the piano. I can tell." Daiki looked towards his fingers with a small amount of contempt. "I can feel how stiff my fingers are when I even try to do anything." He grunted. "Can't even play." He clenched and unclenched them, testing out the flexibility and mobility before huffing angrily.
Kuroko humored him. "Maybe if you start practicing again you'll get better." Smiling at him in an effort to give him a light push, Kuroko soon frowned when Daiki turned to look at him with an expression full of disdain. Like he was stupid, or didn't understand anything.
How he hated that expression- It was hard to control the hurt from showing on his face, but he managed somehow, feeling dumb afterwards because the ex-policeman wouldn't have been able to tell from the barely noticeable changes in his face, anyway.
Daiki caught onto it, though.
"I mean-" He stuttered. His hands flapped everywhere as he gesticulated in an attempt to apologize and explain while not making things worse, and he finally settled with a bright red blush when Kuroko raised an eyebrow at him.
"It's not coming to me naturally." Daiki offered.
"Ah." Was all he could say in response. Apparently, that wasn't enough for the boy, because right after, his cheeks puffed up and his eyebrows furrowed angrily, like he had been expecting something else.
Kuroko opened his mouth to say something, anything, but Daiki beat him to it.
The good mood surrounding them fell apart in an instant, making it feel like a distant illusion. It was a bit painful to see his face scrunch up in disappointment, but Kuroko had seen enough of that in his life to have much of a reaction. What truly surprised him was the quick and acute slam of the piano's top back into place, followed shortly by Daiki storming out of the room like a teenager in a mood.
He didn't even try to follow the boy; instead he sat down on the piano's stool, letting his head fall on the wooden surface.
"What do I do?" He cried pitifully, but Daiki was far out of earshot by then.
"What do I do?" He repeated.
More drama and more crying, but he's gonna be done with it soon. Also OOC Aomine creeps the hell out of me, but it's necessary for now. I'm sorry. Don't have a lot to say on this chapter.
Once again, I apologize for the lateness.