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: Just a short chapter to say I might be putting this on hiatus? Not a lot of people seem to be liking it, so I'll just put this on hold on focus on some fics I haven't updated in a while (aka, my Hetalia fics). I might update this along with BFFs, but, eh, whatevs. Thanks to the people who are enjoying this, though? c:

Chapter 4: Spend the Night.

Shiny metal bells rung as I pushed through the heavy glass door covered in local ads and posters for upcoming events, and other promotional-type things. They swung against the glass gently, letting out a soft harmony. Though, it appeared as though one of them was broken and unable to create a proper sound. If the stupid music lessons my mother had put me through taught me anything, it was that they sung together in minor.

Behind a lit glass counter with little knick knacks on display ranging from weird piercings and bracelets to 'charms' and incense, a tall man with brown hair sat scrolling down his laptop. He looked away from his brightly lit screen to greet us with a friendly smile the moment we step in. Kise smiled back at him as I nodded.

There was a warm sort of aura to him, and the way he asked us how we we're doing, and if we were looking for anything in particular—even going as far as to introduce himself—made me feel like this was one of those sort of places that did not have many customers, but a few that came regularly. It was exactly how I imagined a little hole in the wall to look like.

Kise and I looked around the front of the store together. It appeared as though Kise had grown used to my hand over his own because he began to lean against me as he glanced over at a shelf, his arm pressing against mine as his head tilted to rest upon my shoulder. I stepped to the side and he stumbled a little with a yelp. Kise turned to me with furrowed brows and a little pout, an embarrassed flush against his pale face that shown a strange color of barely noticeable blue under the lights overhead.

Feeling a little daring, I leaned forwards to press my lips to his, an action which was meant unintentionally and to appear and be taken as a joke, but held more desire than I had expected for I had nearly forgotten to pull away if it weren't for the jolt of his head and nervous squeal that left his lips the moment he stepped back. "W-What's Aominecchi trying to do?" He stuttered out, eyes large and surprised, brows furrowed in confusion.

I didn't know what to say as even I had no idea, so I played it cool. "You were pouting. It looked like you wanted a kiss."

"Huh? Aominecchi's being weird! That doesn't mean I want a k-kiss!" We continued to look around the eccentric merchandise near the entrance, our fingers still interlocked; his fingers hung loosely within my possessive hold. I was irked by the fact that he didn't hold my hand back, but there wasn't much I could have done to change that.

Something caught Kise's attention, so I let go of him. The store wasn't very big. It was longer than it was wide, though, and he disappeared somewhere towards the back while I took a longer look around the front some more.

There were lots of things about luck around the store. Little charms were everywhere and scrolls hung around me with various words written—some were in kanji I could only assume were Chinese characters we did not use—there was so much, it had my head spinning round and round just trying to take it all in.

I wasn't certain whether or not this was an act out genuine sincerity or pity as he could no longer stand watching me roam around without a batshit clue, and no apparent idea as to what I was doing, but the man behind the counter stood up from his chair to offer me a smile as I stood before a bookshelf beside the clear glass. I was a little taken aback by how welcoming and friendly he was. Store workers tended to ignore scary looking guys like me. Kise was always the one given the attention.

"Looking for anything specific?" He asked me, eyes drifting towards the astrology books I had been standing in front of. "I'm guessing you're interested in astrological signs and all that?"

I shook my head and stepped over towards the counter, hands in my pockets. Kise was still somewhere in the back doing God knows what. "I'm looking for something to get my friend. His birthday is coming up. I'm not sure what to get him."

"That's nice of you. Does he really like astrology?"

I half-shrugged. "I think. I'm not sure to be honest. He says he's a Cancer…" I trailed off in uncertainty. I didn't want to look like a fool who did not know what he was talking about, but, judging by the way he hadn't done or said anything to correct me, I guessed I'd said something right. "He's really religious when it comes to luck, too."

"Hmm… So astrology and luck, huh?" He then proceeded to speak about all the sort of things in the store that might interest Midorima, but I was much too confused to remember anything other than the fact that his name was Kiyoshi Teppei, and that incense were apparently on sale because he'd accidentally ordered more than he had meant to.

It was difficult trying to weed out something Midorima would not want to immediately trash, especially with Kiyoshi distracting me with his constant talking and going off on irrelevant tangents, so I settled for a small lucky charm he could tie onto his cellphone, and lucky book for Cancer. I guessed that I had to go shop a little more for him to balance these small gifts with something bigger. When Kiyoshi rung me up, he smiled, asking if I needed anything else.

I shook my head and took the orange and white bag from his hand as he went to reach for my receipt. "No, I think I'm good. Thanks."

"Do you like incense?" I shrugged. "Here, take a look at these. You can have three packs for free."

He pulled out a box full of small incense boxes. Each were in different colored boxes and possessed odd scents. "I thought they were on sale?"

"And now they're free with any purchase," He smiled. "I need to get rid of them somehow, and I thought maybe some might interest you?"

I wasn't sure how to go about this. I'd only ever been around incense at temples and traditional sort of settings. Momoi would sometimes light sweet, perfume-like incense around her apartment just for the fruity smell, but I was never one to do that kind of thing. Though, it did make her home smell very nice, so I decided to take a little sniff of each he offered to see which appealed to me the most. It didn't hurt to try new things, and if I did not like it later one, there was always Momoi to dump them onto. She was sure to love them.

"Single?"

I looked up from a dark, dull green colored incense box I had sniffed at. It smelled like ginseng. "Excuse me?"

"The guy with the blonde hair," Kiyoshi motioned towards Kise, who was flipping through a small red book. Turning back to Kiyoshi, I narrowed my eyes at him. "I saw you guys walk in and hug. Are you two dating?"

"Why?"

I must have come off defensive, for he raised his as if at gunpoint. Regardless, his lips remained curled upward and retained his mirthful demeanor. "I didn't mean it like that. If you two aren't, take these ones." He put his arms down and began to rummage through the large cardboard box. He began lifting up small incense boxes and reading them before handing me one.

A faded red box came into view with a circular plastic window that revealed light pink incense. The box was a little dusty looking, but by all means new and the top and bottom appeared to be unopened, though, this didn't last for long as Kiyoshi gently opened the lid at the top to pull out one of the sticks. He held it out to me, as if to offer a quick whiff. I looked at Kiyoshi reluctantly, but he motioned towards the pink stick encouragingly; he poked my cheek, but that did nothing but irritate me.

I breathed in slowly regardless and was greeted with a light, floral sort of aroma that reminded of the garden Satsuki's mother had when we were still young; the right amount of nostalgia, with just enough of something I couldn't quite point my finger at; something unfamiliar, something new. It wasn't the best thing I had ever smelled, but it wasn't bad either. I gave it six out of ten.

"Do you like it?"

"It's okay."

"They say that when two people inhale this together, they'll fall in love." My eyes narrowed at the thought of something so unbelievably quizzical. Was he mocking me? "If you two aren't together, you can always try it. What's there to lose?"

"I don't know what you're talking about." I refused to believe he was able to read me this easily.

"He'll come around sooner or later," He dropped three packages of the floral incense into my shopping bag. "This'll help speed things up."

"I really don't know what you're talking about—"

"Good luck." Kiyoshi patted me on the shoulder with an encouraging smile.

-—-—

We did a little grocery shopping after we left Kiyoshi's shop, and Kise took the liberty of placing the food in the fridge and the snacks in the pantry, while I put away Midorima's gifts in my room and took a moment to use the bathroom. I loved the way Kise was so familiar in my apartment; it was like we were lovers already living together.

"Eh? What's Aominecchi doing?" There was the sound of plastic bags rustling and his fast-paced footsteps making their way into the living room behind me. When I was done using the bathroom, I washed my hands and made my way through the living room onto the balcony.

The sun had just finished setting, and the otherwise dark night was illuminated by the orange glow of streetlights and the pale light of the moon. The dark sky was clear, and there weren't very many stars to be seen. There were a few I saw when I squinted my eyes, though. However, I had assumed those were just airplanes passing by.

Crotched down on the floor of my balcony, I had just finished lighting the little end of my newly acquired incense and was presently watching thin smoke rise from it. I had decided to test this out on the balcony before bringing it indoors in case I grew to dislike the flowery scent. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't the very best, so it wouldn't have taken much for the scales to tip and for me to grow to hate it.

According to Kiyoshi, both people were to inhale together for it to work, so Kise couldn't have showed up at a better time. Truthfully, I felt foolish for believing in such a thing, but beggars can't be choosers, right?

Stepping onto the breezy balcony, he crouched down beside me with his hands on his knees as he stared at the incense curiously, hair blowing softly in the night air. "Eh? What's this for?" He asked.

"The guy at the store was giving them for free. These are just for scent purposes, though." I half-lied.

"Ah." I watched him breathe it in slowly, his eyes closing to focus on the light aroma. One of the things I liked most about him was how vulnerable he was capable of being around me because it really showed how comfortable he was with me, which was ultimately one of the things needed for a relationship to turn romantic, right? Because Hell if I knew.

When he breathed in, I breathed in. When he breathed out, I breathed out. We repeated this three times without him knowing, stopping only when he opened his eyes.

"It's nice." There was a peaceful tone to his sing-song voice, and he inhaled deeply once again as I watched him through my peripheral. "It's actually really nice."

"Really? You actually like it?"

"Hmm?" He turned to look at me with a tilt to his head. "What's wrong with it?"

I shrugged. "It's a little too… Old lady for me."

We shared a quick look before laughing at my odd phrasing, and got up to return inside. Trailing a step behind him, we left the balcony door open. Though I wasn't as in love with the smell as he was, we let the incense flow in with every warm breeze and shift in the gentle summer winds.

Luckily for us, we were able to figure out what to buy for Midorima. After calling up Takao, we came to an agreement that Kise and I would be responsible for bringing the cake to make up for our poor shopping ability, which was odd considering how much of a shopper Kise was. Sitting on the living room floor, leaning against the couches across from each other, we tried deciding what sort of cake to bring for him. Because we were in charge, we had decided that it would have to be something amusing with just a hint of stupidity to bring it all together and to get on Midorima's nerves just a little. After all, nothing said 'from Aomine and Kise' the best like something that was sure to make his eyes twitch.

There were many things that would have done the trick, like ordering a cake in the shape of a pair of glasses or buy a plain cake and attempt to create his face with icing and sprinkles, the former Kise's idea, and the latter my own. We called it a night the moment our ideas got too out of hand. I can't quite remember what else we hand in mind, but they were so unconventional and strange, that it had us laughing at their absurdity on the floor holding our stomachs, tears in the corners of our eyes. In the end, we reverted to our usual night-activity of watching TV together until it was time to drop him off.

Before we knew it, the clock struck midnight and Cinderella sitting across from me was starting to grow tired; a yawn to his hand, and a few tired rubs at his weary eyes; Kise's tell-tale signs of exhaustion as he slumped into the couch, blinking rapidly as if to keep awake while we watched a movie on the basic cable channel. Curling up to lay tiredly on his side, Kise used his hands as a pillow.

Lying on my own couch opposite with my legs stretched out in front of me, I looked past the television into the dark sky outdoors. I too was feeling a little tired myself, and it appeared as though Cinderella's carriage just turned into a pumpkin for I was not up to drive him back to his house at that point.

Getting up, I raised my hands over my head and stretched, making my way past the television to close the balcony door. Kise stared up at me and grinned tiredly, eyes half-lidded in a sleepy-haze. "Ne, Aominecchi, can I sleep over? I don't want to make you drop me off at this hour since you've been doing that for me so much lately."

I quirked an eyebrow; what a suggestive thing to ask. I nodded. "Sure."

Kise got onto his feet and dragged himself down the hall past me to retrieve spare blankets so he can sleep on the couch. He sauntered by and rummaged through the closet in an endearing sort of familiarity as this was not the first time he would be spending the night, though, I was suddenly bent on making sure it was the first night he was not to sleep on that beat up old couch of mine.

Following him as he stood in the closet, looking up, down, left and right for my spare blankets, I snuck up from behind, tip-toeing ever so slightly to silence my footsteps, and wrapped my arms around his waist from behind. I rested my chin in the crook of his neck and felt his muscles stiffen as he squealed in surprise; he turned to look at me, and I fixed my eyes on the shelves in front of us. Even I didn't know where I kept the blankets.

I felt his head turn away to look at me strangely, but ignored it. Kise was the type to play along if things seemed okay, so if I acted casual, I was sure that he would adjust himself to the intimate atmosphere.

"There they are," I pointed to the fourth shelf from the top on my left. He looked over the other way, and I stop him when he made a move to reach for the white sheets that weren't there. "Just kidding."

"Eh? Then where are they?"

I stepped back and he turned around to face me. He looked so vulnerable under the dim light bulb that hung above us, dangling slowly, backwards then forwards, eyes a brilliant gold despite the exhaustion that formed dark bags below his lower lashes. I was too tired to pay my actions or the way I seemingly gravitated towards him slowly any mind and, before I knew it, Kise was left backed up against the shelf behind him and a few inches barely separated us. I wanted all of him, and the temptation had begun to get the best of me.

"A-Aominecchi, you're getting really close, you know."

I was brought to my sense the instant he brought his hands to my chest to distance myself from him, and, in that moment, I vaguely wondered if those incense were working, because the only way out of that was if he were to suddenly submit himself to me. He sounded nervous as he breathed out, "What are you doing—"

My body reacted on its own, and I reached upward to grab the blankets folded neatly on the shelf just above his head. I moved backwards to give him some space and held it out in front of me, "Got them."

We filed out of the closet and he pulled the little cord to turn off the light before closing the white door behind us. There was an uncomfortable moment of silence, and we stood there, looking everywhere but at each other as I cursed myself for going just a tad too far wordlessly. Hopefully it wasn't in vain, because I realized that he hadn't pushed my away, but simply placed his hands to my chest. No, no, I was thinking too far, and nothing good was to come from such a thing.

As always, I kept my cool and played my usual, indifferent self, pretending wasn't anywhere near uncomfortable as he was. Suddenly, there was a friendly punch to my shoulder and a nervous fit of laughter, "H-Hahaha, stupid Aominecchi doing weird things as always," The yawn that left his lips sounded forced, as if trying to remain casual, but that might've just been me. "I guess it's time to hit the hay. I'll just go lie on the couch now—"

"Ne, Kise, you shouldn't sleep on the couch. It's so uncomfortable." Instead of doing things on impulse, I was saying things on impulse now.

"Eh? Is Aominecchi offering to switch with me?" He tilted his head to the left, a smile breaking out across his tired features, lopsided but loveable in its own way. Too bad he was wrong.

"What I'm trying to say is why don't you sleep with me?"

I wondered if this 'hint' was too much because his face dropped, and he shouted a loud 'what!?' at me; his face darkening a familiar shade of red I associated with Kagami. But, come to think of it, through all the yelling, I didn't hear a 'no'.