Title: The Gold on His Finger.
Author: SYNdicate 930.
Summary: AU. On his finger he wore a plain gold ring. Sitting on his long finger between his pinky and middle, extravagant and glamorous as he, it was a blatant sign of sorts that screamed to me; he belonged to someone, but she was dead. Rating might go up.

Note: Wah~ Thanks for the nice feedback and for favorite-ing, reviewing, and putting this on alert! I was so nervous about doing first person! Anyway, enjoy! I will try to update every Thursday! (I can't make any promises as of now because of exams coming up OTL)

Chapter 2: Cake, a Movie, and a Dead Girl.

Bells chimed as Kise entered a step in front of me, his lips curling upward into a smile as he waved with his right hand. We had just arrived at Yousen, a modest, small bakery-café in the surrounding district near the movie theatre. These streets were closed off to cars, and I never liked how we had to park a few blocks away and then walk into the area because—let's face it—I'm lazy, and it was stupid. Even so, this was one of our favorite places in Tokyo because of its unrivaled peacefulness and surprisingly sweet community. Though as modern as other areas, everybody sort of knew each other here, which was incredulously hard to find nowadays—especially in Tokyo.

We nodded at the familiar faces and workers on our way to our usual spot in the far corner next to a large window that made up a good portion of the wall. Warm sunlight filtered through the spotless glass, making Kise's honey eyes glow extraordinarily as he looked up from under long lashes and the ends of his soft hair, glancing up from the opened and shared menu I paid little to no attention to the menu on the table between us. A smile twisted the corners of his enticing lips to reveal pearly white teeth, his question unheard as I lost myself in the way his voice carried so smoothly, flowing in one ear and out the other as I sat there, most likely in a daze with goofy, day-dreaming eyes.

"Aominecchi?" He carefully poked the hand I had let rest on the table. As always, Kise had to pull me out of whatever world I was in one way or another. "Is everything alright?"

"Yeah, I'm fine."

"Are you sure?"

"Now, it's fine. I'm just tired from work still." I reassured him. Kise looked at me skeptically, but shrugged it off.

"So what do you want?"

I tried to sound thoughtful, as if I had given all of my attention to the menu and not to him. "I'll just have coffee. I need to stay awake."

"What? When there are all these nice cakes and desserts?" Kise said, motioning to the pretty pictures on the menu of various specialty pastries and sweets Yousen was famous for. "Ne, how about I share some of the cake I'm getting with you?"

I tried to decline, but he was insistent. It was one of his best and worst traits because it ultimately fueled that 'never give up' mindset of his.

Shortly after, one of the workers came by to take our order. He was a few inches short than me, with dark hair that fell over his left eye; the pale skin of his unblemished complexion the plane in which the small beauty mark under his right eye rested as he carried himself in a calm, collected way, a small, pink notepad and mechanical pencil in hand.

"Hi, Himurocchi! Kise beamed up at him and ordered. As usual, Kise ordered a piece of cake and something sweet to drink. When he turned to me, I ordered a coffee, to which Kise pouted at, his lower lip jutting out in an unbelievably endearing manner. He was disappointed I hadn't gotten anything sweet or interesting.

"Oh, I almost forgot. Where's Murasakibaracchi? I didn't see him when I walked in." Kise looks towards the counter, past the cash register. "Did he step out or something?

According to Himuro, Murasakibara wasn't at work that day. He had come down with some sort of flu that had been going around lately, and wasn't able to make it. With the strong immune system I had inherited from my mother and father, I stood completely unaffected from colds and flus, so the mention of sickness made me stop for a second to think of when I was last bedridden with a cold. It sure had been a while. I didn't notice Himuro slip away and then return with our orders.

Cut in a small, long triangle, Kise's cake was covered in white icing and whipped cream with a strawberry on top. It was unbelievably pretty—like something out of an anime. We said our thanks, and Himuro left. I wasn't familiar with Himuro, so I always felt just a little uncomfortable around him. Kise said he went to college with Himuro and Murasakibara, and the three of them were good friends. It was odd, considering the dynamic in that friendship. Kise was so much more out-going and extroverted than the other two.

I drank my coffee quietly as Kise took little bits of his cake at a time, listening to him the way I always did, enjoying the notes in the repertoire of his lively voice, the highs, the lows, and the everything in between.

Kise was half-way through his cake when he brought his fork towards my lips, an expectant quirk of his lips as he encouraged me to have a taste. "C'mon, Aominecchi! It's really good!"

I let him feed me, and we continued talking. I, however, was a little too distracted. My eyes fell to his enticing pair of lips and the way they parted every time he would eat away at his cake, his tongue jutting out in the most teasing manner to lick at any icing, whipped cream smearing the corner of his mouth lewdly; I couldn't focus on what he was saying at all. He pointed it out with a frown.

"What are you looking at? Is there something on my face?" Kise brought up the napkin dispenser to his face, using its reflective surface as a makeshift mirror as he dabbed around his mouth with a napkin.

I never told him what I was staring at.

When we were done eating, we tipped Himuro and Kise wished Murasakibara the best and that he would feel better soon. Himuro nodded.

I can't remember much of the walk towards the cinema. Though, the sky was painted a mixture of orange and blue with the setting sun, street lights slowly turning on one at a time as we sauntered past numerous, young couples. There was nothing like your first, high school love, I would know… Through Satsuki's experience with Tetsu. She hac been so head over heels for him, it was painful to watch her hurt herself.

They say never giving up is the best thing you can do in the face of inevitable defeat—Hah, what bullshit. I watched Satsuki hurt herself over and over because she refused to accept he was incapable of returning her feelings, and helped the little girl I still saw in her broken smile. Don't get me wrong—I tried to help her out, and even drop a few nice things about her here and there whenever Tetsu and I walked home from school together. But it was futile, and I felt guilty every time she would ask me about him. Sometimes I would wonder if she was completely over him.

Watching strangers and the way they would link arms and reach for each other's hand in adolescence chaste, stealing glances at one another in the most blatant of ways, had me restraining myself from doing the same.

In my mind, our fingers would intertwine—grasping his hand tightly within my own under the bright lights of department stores and warm glow of rusty old streetlights, shooting him a reassuring gaze after watching him through the corner of my eye critically—and then I would pull him into a darkened alley. Hidden by the shadows the buildings we find ourselves between provide, I would ravish him; starting from his lips to the most intimate of places; the parts of his body that would make him arch into my torso and bite his lip, a sinful secret deep within the abandoned alley way. Everything between the little strands of his hair that poked out when he woke up first thing in the morning down to his feet would belong to me, and my own to him.

I almost saw it; one of my many fantasies coming true.

Strolling hand in hand, a couple who looked to be in their second or third year of high school struck me as particularly interesting; their hair blonde and a familiar shade of dark blue—I had to shake my eyes to concentrate on them properly, but, by the time my vision focused, they were gone. Swearing my eyes were playing tricks on me, I rubbed at them with the back of my hand.

I had to stop spending so much time daydreaming and wandering about the endless abyss of my mind, drowning myself in the thought of him falling for me as hard as I had for him.

Though, the thought of us as teenagers and meeting then was interesting. If we had met first. I wondered if that would've changed anything.

—-—-—-—

I couldn't ignore it even if I had tried.

I had done multiple things to keep myself from staring or making a scene, though, I doubt I was capable of starting anything that wasn't a fist fight. Unlike Kise, who was so prone to the attention of strangers—surely a result of having such a vibrant aura and a face so astonishingly pretty—he was at the point where he was incapable of noticing when people were staring, whispering, or talking about him, I was typically the sort of guy to lie as low as possible, and I stole several glances with a deep frown and furrowed brows without being caught.

It was creepy, but, damnit, I couldn't help myself—for even in the darkness of the theatre, it shined brightly and mockingly in the corner of my eye. No matter how much focus was put towards the movie, my attention found its way back to that stupid ring and the fact he was so in love with someone—someone who wasn't me.

It pissed me off. It pissed me off. It pissed me off.

Now, I had accepted this unrequited love to be half of my fault, and half completely out of my control.

For one thing, I never told him, and didn't plan on confessing any time soon. How was he supposed to love me back if he didn't know how I felt, right? Normally, I didn't like to beat around the bush and if I liked you, I would have told you. But, because he was married to his beautiful wife, Alex Garcia, a blonde haired, blue-eyed bombshell that even had me doing double takes on her pictures he'd showed me in his phone he met in high school, long before I'd ever met him, I was left incredibly reluctant. Alex sounded like a wonderful woman and everything Kise wanted—though not the brightest star at night, he had depicted her as sweet, loving, and his high school sweetheart; his wife he'd always love and remain faithful to through and through. I didn't see why Kise was so bent on staying true to her, though. After all, that girl was long dead.

I always believed that if I had met him in high school instead of her, things would have been different, but I guess I would never know.

Kise turns his head and my eyes drop to feign sleep. I waited a good minute or two before slowly opening my eyes. He didn't catch me, and I was safe. I repressed s sigh.

It was common sense that regardless as to how much a person may struggle or suffer there was an indefinite result; a good or bad ending with cruel little twists that added a sharp edge to the already pointed knife, the blow sharper and deep, the unknown positive or negative conclusion, if you will. And I settled for lingering in between struggling and submitting to the world and its cruel, unfair ways—a strange state of helplessness and cluelessness, wallowing around blindly for some answer or map around the obstacle that was Kise's refusal to let her go in masked melancholy.

Death was hard, and it always was.

But time healed all wounds, didn't it? I'd heard something like that from a movie before, but, by the looks of it, there were some things that time couldn't heal.

When our friendship had grown, Kise told me about Alex and how she died the winter before we met. I was surprised at how calmly and plainly he explained to me the way her eyes went lifeless, and her cold hand slipped out of his own.

They'd been skating together on the river that ran through a park just a train ride or two away from his house. Lights and decorations lined the trees and fences as music played on loud speakers, lovers holding hands tightly and some children with their parents.

This happened every year, and it was the year that Alex decided to check it out after years of passing by but never really trying. Kise was never much of a skater, so he had her teach him until he was capable of moving on his own when suddenly, they went too far from the main area and hovered over thin patches they'd been warned about and bam—the ice cracked and he nearly drowned. Kise had tried to save her, Alex unable to swim and in all of her beauty trying to stay afloat, the arms of her jacket frozen and soaked, but it was too late. Alex blacked out and went still.

She was already too far down and the water was too cold when Kise came to his senses and began to reach for her, his limbs freezing over as he cried for assistance, helplessly watching her unconscious body sink deeper and deeper as two men pulled him out. The river was evacuated. Fortunately, they were able to retrieve her body.

That was where his story ended. He never spoke much of her funeral, or what he'd gone through or felt or anything. I tried watching over the boundaries he'd established after I came to learn how sensitive a topic Alex was to him. He never talked about her death, or the time he spent mourning over her much or at all, just the happy moments of when her breath mingled with his and the heat of her body kept him warm on cold nights. It was always all smiles for him. It was only around winter that he would seem to grow more and more introverted. Alex's death pushed and tugged on his emotions in every way., and I'll never forget that one night.

With these thoughts, I became increasingly aware of him sitting beside me and his gentle crunching of popcorn. Taking a few buttery pieces, he would cram them into his mouth at a time, gold eyes glued to the large theatre screen attentively. His breathing was calm, and he would laugh every now and then over something funny, or stupid— the way the leading actor's eyes were 'too far apart.' Though, they were rather distanced when you looked at him at the right angle. Lifting his other hand to reach for his drink on the other side of him, I caught a glimpse of that ring again.

To lose someone dear to you, abruptly while you watch powerless— I could have only imagined what kind of hell it must have been for him. Never too emotional and never quite invested, things came and went in my life, and it'd become normal practice that I never really noticed when people left me. My past lovers were sluts and clingy men I could've sworn were little boys holding onto their beloved mothers in disguise—for all I cared, they could've walked out on me, and I wouldn't have even batted a lash or noticed.

But I guess it was different. After all, these were people I picked up at bars and parties to spend the night with, while Alex was someone Kise cared enough about to marry.

Pretending to jolt awake, I pulled my phone out to check the time. Kise looked over to smile at me. Sipping my pop silently, I was more than just a little annoyed at this. Technically, he was single, but in denial that he no longer had a lover, petulantly rejecting the prospect of even attempting to let go of her.

But, you know what? I liked challenges, and I guessed the first step to winning him over and bringing him out of this miserable state was to tell him how I feel. The only downside was that I didn't like being honest about my feelings. It was stupid, and I wanted to vomit.

Just how does one covey feelings properly, without any misunderstandings, anyway?

I hated where I stood, and I was fed up with this dead-end sort of affection, but I couldn't bring myself to ever telling him truthfully. This one-sided love was my fault because I didn't do anything to make him feel it back. After all, emotions were messy—and I had no intention in creating a mess I couldn't clean myself, or at all.

Names in white print over a black background scrolled down the wide screen slowly with humorous pop music in the background. Silhouettes from the strangers in the rows ahead of us came into view, their arms above their heads as they stretched, heads rolling from shoulder to shoulder in a restless sort of manner that had me doing the same. Kise got up and I followed, speechless and stumbling over my words for I had no clue as to what in the world happened in the movie Kise couldn't shut his trap about. We walked up the stairs of the theatre into the long hallway towards the lobby.

"Ne, what time is it?"

I looked down to my phone. "7:13 PM."

"Huh," He hummed thoughtfully, his eyes flickering around the theatre lobby with his index finger pressed against his lips. "What should we do now? Does Aominecchi wanna go home?"

I played it cool with a yawn. "Kind of."

I was about to invite him over, but, thankfully, my desire to spend more of the evening with him went unnoticed as Kise inquired cheerfully, "Is it okay if I come over?"

It was hard to resist shaking my head free from any sort of double meaning behind such innocent words. He wanted to spend more time with me the same way I would with Tetsu, and nothing more. Though, that didn't stop me from hoping maybe Kise wanted to do a little more than sit around and watch TV for an hour or two. "Why not? You better not drop any more of my plates, though."

"What? That was by accident, I swear! I thought you were over it, you said you weren't mad!"

"I'm not," I retorted truthfully, pushing the cold metal theatre door and holding it out for him. It was too funny to get over. I began to walk towards the exit. "But that doesn't mean it isn't fun to make fun of you for it."

Kise caught up and began to lean his weight against my arm with a whine. "Wow, how mean of Aominecchi! Maybe I'll go straight for your other dishes and break them, too!"

"Oh no, God, save my bowls." Words practically oozing with sarcasm, I snorted.

Back at my apartment, I watched him walk through the unlit hall into my living room and drop lifelessly onto my comfy couch, an arm hanging off the edge of the cushions and his legs hanging on one of the couch arms. "Wah, I'm so tired!"

"Oi, don't fall asleep. I don't want to have to carry you to from the couch to my car and then up the stairs of your apartment." I turned on only the light of the kitchen. The kitchen was open to the living room, and I watched him roll over onto his back lazily to reach for the TV remote.

"Aominecchi is a strong police offer; you should be able to carry me like I'm a feather."

"You have two feet of your own, walk." He always had a tendency of falling asleep here, and then leaving me with the responsibility of carrying him like a little boy and dropping him off home. My ceiling would be the last thing he would see before he passed out, and the sight of the ceiling fan atop the bed at his place would be the first the following morning. I checked the house phone beside the fridge for any missed calls. I had missed one, but, judging by the unfamiliar digits, I guessed it could have only been a wrong number.

"But it's so much fun to baby me like that!"

"What are you talking about? It's only fun for you."

We didn't do anything interesting when we together, really. We just sat around, watched TV, and ate. Moving from the counter to the other couch across the low, wooden coffee table from him, we talked for a little longer before he was unable to keep up with me and resist the urge to fall asleep as we fell silent to watch a marathon of one of our favorite sitcoms together; his blonde eyes slowly shutting, hidden beneath his pale eyelids, long lashes resting just above his cheek.

This was how a typical evening together would go; we would go eat, go out to a movie or walk or do something else, and then return home to hang around at one another's house before one of us returns home. Whenever he came over, I would drive him back to his apartment. I never trusted a face as pretty as his this late at night to go unnoticed.

Moments after Kise had fallen asleep, I fell asleep as well, upright in a sitting position, only to be jolted awake by my cellphone vibrating widely in the back pocket of my jeans. LOW BATTERY flashed across the small screen. I silently excused myself from the sleeping man to go charge my phone in my bedroom, rethinking the things that went on in my head during the movie.

I was unhappy with where I stood, but I didn't do anything to make things better. If I wanted him, I would have to do something about it.

I would have to think of what I could do some more. Maybe Kagami would know—after all, he was capable of swooning Tetsu. I had known Tetsu all of my life, and I swore that man had no emotions until they met.

When I returned, I was awake as ever, and, while I tried to sit and enjoy the still-going marathon, being in Kise's presence made doing so difficult.

In the darkness weakly illuminated by the flashing screen of my TV, Kise's lips were turned downward in a frown, and his eyebrows were forward. In a state of unconsciousness, unconscious words found their way to the surface. He mumbled words I could barely make out under his breath, low, tired, and difficult to piece together every time he would chop his sentence into little bits at a time. But I could hear the only thing that mattered amongst the incoherent grumbling.

"Alex, 'm s'sorry…" was the apology he gave over and over.