Fandom: Kuroko no Basket
Rating: T
Pairing: Aomine Daiki x Kise Ryouta (AoKise); Kagami Taiga x Kuroko Tetsuya (KagaKuro)
Warning: Boy/Boy. Possibly OOC (especially for Aomine). Cliché. Character death. Angst/Tragedy. Fluff. Vulgar language. Children (no male pregnancy). Marriage. Possible culture inaccuracies (forgive me OTL). Time skips. Repetition. Grammatical and spelling mistakes. Un-beta'd. Mediocre.
Word Count: 13870 words
A/N: AIIII I am two weeks late for this New Years fic but enjoy it anyways? OTL. If I had rushed it, I'm pretty sure it would have just been disastrous (uh, who knows; this might be bad too LOL OTL). Took me three weeks again… but it's one of my longest fics yet! :'D I'm quite proud of myself ;u; Also it took a little longer considering I had to do a little more research than 'Paper Planes'. I had a lot of insecurities while writing this fic; in fact, I didn't even want to publish it. It was extremely hard for me to write the last few scenes, but I really have to thank the people who sent me comforting words on tumblr to continue writing and publish this. I'm not even sure if they would read this but if they do, I just wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your encouraging words ;u;
Disclaimer: I do not own Kuroko no Basket, clearly belongs to Fujimaki Tadatoshi. Also I have to credit, Moments & Milestones, for the vows LOL. And special thanks to my BB, Banri, for suggesting names for me (I am horrible with names OTL).
Dedication: To all the AoKise fans out there! Please enjoy this and I swear my next AoKise fic will have a happier ending, okay? So please don't kill me ;u; (unless my next fic involves death; then yes, by all means, you can kill me, because I SWEAR ON MY LIFE, I will write a deathless fic next.)

Summary: Every year, they would walk up to the shrine, and greet the New Year with bright smiles and a warm heart. Twenty-five years later, one of them continues to walk up to the shrine, but for a different reason.

Clap! Clap!

Kise grinned brightly as he linked arms with the tall, muscular blue-haired Touou Ace; the two finished their greeting to the New Year. They began walking down the steps, cautiously taking their time to avoid slipping on the snow. However, for the past five years since they began this yearly tradition, a certain clumsy blonde idiot always managed to slip on the last step, dragging both he and his boyfriend tumbling to the floor.

And somehow, Aomine always managed to cushion his landing.

Aomine grimaced, the snow damping his clothes and having him shudder from the contact of the white, chilly fluff. "How do you always manage to trip and fall on the very last step? Always!"

A chuckle escaped out of Kise's mouth as he gazed down into the feign look of annoyance in his boyfriend's dark blue orbs. "I'm sorry, Aominecchi!"

His only response was a scoff, as he straightened to bring them both from their position on the icy, cold steps. He flicked Kise's forehead before he stood up and helped the latter with his position on the chilly, winter ground. Kise lost his balance for a second, wobbling to the side before regaining his posture and smiling brightly at Aomine, who only rolled his eyes.

All was well—it was just another part of their tradition.

- Tradition -

Aomine stood in the cold, wintery morning, waiting for a certain someone to finish his emergency meeting at work before heading up to the shrine, a yearly visit the two did since their middle school times. He glanced down at his phone again, his eyebrows furrowing when he realized he missed a text—the steady, green light flashing into his eyes.

'Sorry, the meeting ended just now! Be there in five! And don't worry, my co-worker is giving me a ride!'

He blankly looked at the message on his screen, blinking once, twice, then thrice, before roughly shoving the phone back into his pocket as he stood in the freezing cold. Couples all around passed; he could feel the occasional wandering eyes staring at his lonesome form and scowled. Really, he told Kise they could skip this year's greetings or he could even wait for him at home to finish his meeting so the two could head up together but of course, the blonde insisted to meet there, like they always did.

Knowing Kise, with his annual traditions and routines, he would have osechi-ryouri prepared while Aomine would casually wait for him in the designated area.

Aomine grinned, just imagining Kise's smiles when the two met up on New Year's brightened up his day—he was his little ball of happiness, after all, shining brighter and brighter every single day.

In fact, he remembered the first time he asked Kise to the shrine, recalling the shocked look in his brown eyes; the light red blush heating his cheeks; the strained laugh leaving his lips as he tried to decipher Aomine's motives—all the small details – all the miniscule, unconscious actions the blonde did that very day – he remembered them all.

It all started sixteen years ago, when the two were in their second year of middle school, still young and naïve to the world, where basketball was the sole activity occupying their childish minds; where they had absolutely no worries in the world; where they could aimlessly dream and hope they could spend the rest of their lives in that single gymnasium. Playing one-on-ones every day.

It was in their second year that the two met, basketball being the reason to their friendship. Almost a year had passed since the two first met in front of the gymnasium, where Aomine hit Kise in the back of his head with a basketball, and it had been almost a year since they began their one-on-ones against each other—Kise losing every day to Aomine. It was also almost a year, when Aomine began to feel his friendship with Kise was growing more and more personal; when it seemed the blonde was the only person who mattered; when it seemed like the boy was a small, lost puppy he needed to protect and cherish.

The two rarely hung outside of school, aside from a late afternoon call on a weekend when they arranged a one-on-one at a court near Aomine's apartment. Otherwise, the two would be focused on their own individual activities; Aomine focused on playing basketball or sleeping while Kise remained working at his job as a model or spending time with other friends like the social butterfly he was.

Except one day, when the two casually finished another one-on-one game – Aomine crushing Kise's hopes of winning once again – Aomine asked Kise something other than basketball.

"What are you doing on New Years?"

Kise stared at Aomine with wide, hazel-brown eyes, the bright orange basketball suddenly still in his hands as he let out a forced chuckle, straightening up from his position to throw the ball into the basket and approached Aomine. "That's really random, Aominecchi."

"Just answer the question."

The blonde blinked for a second, attempting to digest Aomine's intentions, since the two never hung outside of school grounds alone. Sure, they went out for ice cream with the rest of the Generation of Miracles after practice, but to spend time together alone? That was certainly different. Further…

Kise blushed, raising the ball to his face to cover the slight red tint growing on his cheeks. To be asked out by Aomine on New Years, a holiday typically shared between family and lovers, sent butterflies all over in his stomach and he could not help but feel giddy and joyful at the sudden question. It was silly, to be gushing like a girl going out with her crush, but he was just so shocked, because someone he admired, someone he respected, asked him to hang out.

"Oi, Kise, you alright?"

The male snapped awake, clearly he hadn't noticed Aomine had made it over towards him within the few moments he spaced out from reality, only a foot separated the two now. Startled, he threw the ball at the tanned male who effortlessly caught it with his quick reflexes, staring at the blonde perplexedly, his dark-blue orbs attempting to read through the blonde's abrupt actions but failing.

Kise shook his head before smiling at Aomine; the same hesitant laugh escaping his lips as he turned so his back was facing Aomine, leaving the latter to stare at him in confusion. "I'm fine! It's just- I was shocked for a moment. It almost sounded like you were asking me out on a date, but I'm sure Aominecchi asked all the others, right?"—Another forced chuckle—"I bet we'll lose Kurokocchi and then the whole day will just be us trying to find-"

He was interrupted when he felt a warm hand wrap around his wrist, stopping him from walking away any further from the other. He turned around, his brown-hazel orbs staring into Aomine's dark-blue, filled with nothing but aggravation and utter irritation. "Aominec-?"

"And what if I said it was just going to be the two of us?"

Kise's eyes widened, taken aback by the other's blunt response. He had to be joking, right? Aomine was simply playing with his feelings, because honestly, two boys spending time together on New Years; two boys who only ever played basketball were now spending a holiday meant for couples together? He could feel the blush returning on his cheeks, the heat rushing up as quickly as it had the first time, and he scrambled to escape out of Aomine's grasp, but the other's calloused fingers only tightened. His heart raced, the strong beats pounding against his chest that he was absolutely certain Aomine could hear from the short distance between the two.

"I'm serious, Kise. What if I said it was just the two of us going up to the shrine on New Years?"

There was a pause, and Aomine grew even more impatient, but before he could voice his irritation at the poor blonde in his hold, he heard a soft mumble from Kise, who attempted to cover his red cheeks with his free hand, but Aomine could still see bits peeking through his hand. Despite how soft his voice was, Aomine still heard it, and this time, he could feel the heat rushing up his cheeks, forcing him to release his hold on Kise so he could cover it from the blonde.

"Is Aominecchi… trying to ask me out?"

Even though he was free from Aomine's grasp, Kise didn't budge – didn't even move a single inch – as he gazed up at Aomine's red face, his brown-honey eyes watching and observing the miniscule features on the other's face; the redness on his cheeks, the way his eyes refused to look at him, the way his mouth constantly opened and closed as if he wanted to say something but couldn't find the courage to voice it—it was all so different from the typical cool, confident individual he saw every day.

It was only a few moments he saw Aomine's lips move, but he was in such a daze, he hadn't heard the word that escaped the other's mouth. Of course, he asked him to repeat it, in which Aomine refused until Kise pouted and whined and practically begged. Finally, he heard a soft 'yes'.

That one single word, composed of three tiny letters, made Kise's heart skip a beat before pounding madly against his chest, and for several minutes, the two were surrounded by nothing but utter silence.

What felt like an eternity but only four minutes, Aomine felt his throat close, preventing the air from entering and circulating in his body. For four minutes, he could feel his heart race with fear from rejection or worse, disgust, by the other, yet he knew the beating in his chest was also eager to hear Kise's response.

It was when the four minutes passed, with an awkward silence lingering amongst the two boys, Aomine thought it was hopeless; that Kise must have been in such shock from his direct approach in asking him out, he could not reply. To make it easier for them both – and to save him from further embarrassment – he turned to leave the gymnasium, to escape and run from this failure of a confession; this disaster.

However, he felt a tug on his shirt, preventing him from moving, and he remained still, knowing it had to be Kise who finally found the courage to reject him, to outwardly tell him that he was not interested and simply saw him as a friend, and that he was sorry he could not return his feelings. He had seen it; the numerous times Kise was dragged out by his fans to the side of the school for a love confession only to be kindly rejected by the model.

He thought he was going to be different; he thought, even though he was a guy, Kise was interested in him. After all, he had seen the way the blonde would look at him; the way he would fidget when he came close to his face; the way he would beg to play one more round despite being late to his photo shoot; the way his face would grow green with envy when Aomine had his arm around Kuroko—he had seen it all. Most importantly, he had seen the way Kise was instantly taken away by him the second they met, how the second Aomine saw the blonde from the gymnasium and aimed the ball directly at the back of his head, he knew he had already caught the attention of Kise.

And he thought with the amount of time they had spent together, the blonde liked him the same way he did.

"Aominecchi… You're not playing with my feelings, are you? Y- You're absolutely serious about this?"

He closed his eyes, knowing his pride was going to be hurt already, but decided to face the truth; Kise had to know sometime. "I'm serious."

"So… I can take this as a love confession?"

There was silence, and both could feel the anticipation emitting around the room until he answered, "Yes."

Any time now, he was certain Kise would simply give him a genuine smile, the same smile he showed the girls who confessed to him. But he didn't hear any words from the other, not even a gasp or apology, until he heard soft whimpers that soon morphed into gross sobs and then he felt warm tears on the back of his shirt.

He couldn't understand. Surely he should have been the one crying, being rejected by Kise after confessing to him, but it was the other way around. It wasn't until he had the strength to turn around, to look at the blonde's teary face and question the tears trailing down his cheeks, that he widened his eyes and remained in awe, at the words leaving the other's lips.

"T- Then on New Year's… I'll see you… by the temple… a- and we'll greet the New Year together…" There was a sudden break, so Kise could collect himself and gaze up at Aomine with his swollen, red eyes.

And it was then Aomine realized Kise, like he, also had feelings for him. The tears that were trickling down his face were obvious that the other liked him; tears that symbolized joy, pure bliss, and absolute relief.

A smile crept onto Aomine's lips, as he wiped a tear from the edge of Kise's eye, before flicking his forehead, "It's a date."

The sound of wheels approaching him broke his thoughts and he immediately glanced up from the ground and stared at the smiling blonde male approaching him, osechi-ryouri neatly placed in his lap as he rolled closer and closer to the tanned, muscular male leaning against the pole.

Aomine instantly felt his heart speed up, feeling completely warm from the other's radiating smile, clearly Kise was the only one who had the ability to make him feel such emotions; only someone that special could make his heart pound viciously against his chest. Even though they had been doing this yearly visit for sixteen years, every time he saw Kise with that smile, with the osechi-ryouri, and just seeing such a brilliant, talented male in front of him, sent his heart beating at an extremely fast pace.

Despite being in his thirties, every year on this particular date, Aomine's heart would race like a high school student confessing to their loved one for the very first time.

He snapped out of his daze, watching as Kise struggled to wheel himself over the patch of snow blocking his path towards him, and shook his head, chuckling softly before making his way over to the blonde, shortening the distance between the two. "Hey you."

Kise gazed up at him, his mouth slightly opened, as his chest rose and fell at a steady pace, like he was trying to regain his breath so he could make it up to the shrine, before greeting the taller male in front of him. "Daikicchi! Just give me a moment; I have to rest for a bit. It was tiresome, pushing myself up the ramps!"

Aomine couldn't help but furrow his eyebrows upon catching Kise's weaken form, his eyes appearing rather sorrow as he noticed the wheelchair he was currently occupied in. Unlike previous years, where crutches were sufficient enough to assist in his locomotive actions, he was now bound to the wheelchair they spent thousands of dollars to invest in, knowing Kise's legs, his body, would no longer be strong enough to provide him with the energy needed to move on their own.

However, he forced himself to smile, to wipe the despair and solemn look in his expression to face Kise. "That's why you have me, right? Come on, let's go up to the shrine before it's nightfall."

As he wheeled Kise up the ramps, hitting a few icy patches every once in a while, he couldn't help but feel a heavy weight in his heart, knowing the Kise who was once so talented, so skilled, to surpass even him in basketball, would no longer return to that state.

Ever again.

They finished their yearly routine, ending with a loud crash! as Kise fell out of his seat, launching right into Aomine's strong arms, smiling and laughing—just like good old days. It wasn't until they heard various thunderous footsteps and exasperated calls for help that the two gazed up at the crowd surrounding them.

Numerous women and men, cuddled in each other's warm arms, looked at the pair as if they were a wild circus act with wide, yet concerned eyes. A couple of the women had their hands covering their mouths, as if they were shocked at the scene in front of them while their lovers shot Aomine a look of disgust.

Of course, Aomine, with his temper, returned the glare, hoisting Kise off his body, placing him in his chair where he rightfully belonged before turning to face the crowd in front of them. "You got a problem or something?"

One of the men hesitated before he stared to either side of him, waiting for another to speak, but no one did; he mustered the courage to face an infuriated Aomine head-on. "How can you be so rude? Your handicapped friend just fell and you're saying we're the one with the problem?"

Aomine clenched his fists, withholding his anger because he knew violence was not the answer. Besides, Kise was watching his every move, the guilty look in his eyes as he remained silent, watching as everyone nodded their head in agreement at the man's words and Aomine could only side-glance at his lover before redirecting his gaze back at the stranger.

"Why don't you mind your own business?"

"If you didn't want to cause attention, why didn't you just push your friend, guiding him along, rather than walking in front of him so he could fall, you heartless jerk!"

Upon hearing such a name, Aomine flinched, looking amongst the crowd to the direction of the woman who addressed him as a 'heartless jerk' because really, how was he, of all people,considered heartless?

Would a heartless jerk care for his lover's needs? Would a heartless jerk wake up early every single day to help his lover prepare for work before dropping him off and then heading off to his own office? Would a heartless jerk quickly finish all his daily jobs so he could make it in time to pick up his lover at work? Would a heartless jerk still be in a healthy, comfortable relationship after practically sixteen years?

However, he didn't have a chance to respond because he felt a tug on the bottom of his shirt and he instantly turned around to face Kise, the rueful look in his eyes caused the fury and irritation in Aomine's system to vanish almost completely, because he knew the blonde was only blaming himself for this commotion.

Instead of commenting on the woman's rude remarks or even calming Aomine down, Kise gazed at the crowd with his hazel-brown eyes, clearly stunning the women and some of the men; he still had the flamboyant model presence from his school years which really angered Aomine because he absolutely hated it when others were bedazzled by the blonde's presence—jealousy was hard to control when it revolved around the blonde.

"I'm really sorry for the trouble we have caused. Please disregard this, and leave us alone."

There was silence, as if they were all digesting Kise's confident presence before a woman timidly spoke out from the crowd, "B- But are you all right?"

Kise only offered the woman a kind, reassuring smile, nodding his head, "Yes. Thank you for your concern, but I am quite fine. The fall was nothing."

Everyone stared at each other, hesitant to withdraw from the disturbance in their New Year celebration, as if they were concerned for the blonde's well-being but then couple by couple, they left the scene, some casually glancing back at Kise who simply offered them a small smile before gazing up at Aomine.

Speaking of the latter, he was slowly emitting his dark aura, hoping to scare off the rest of the remaining crowd because his mind continued to repeat the woman's harsh remark over and over. It was until he heard a soft laugh erupt beside him that his eyes immediately diverted from the disbanding strangers to Kise. He felt the blonde wrap his hands around Aomine's, smiling affectionately at the latter, "I love you, Daiki."

Tightening his hold on the blonde's hands, he could feel the frustration from before slowly evaporating, "Me too."

Instead of hearing Kise whine about how Aomine should say an actual 'I love you too' rather than a simple, easy 'me too', he saw the blonde's eyes were no longer focused on him. He noticed the former was passionately trailing his fingers on the silver band located on his fourth finger and nibbling on the inside of his mouth, as if he was hesitant to look at Aomine directly in the eyes.

Aomine addressed this, of course, in which the blonde simply shook his head and said, "Nothing. I just- I just think it is amazing Daikicchi is still with me after all these years—after all… this." He could hear the disappointed tone in Kise's voice, as the other gazed down at his fingers, twirling his thumbs around and around in tiny circles to avoid looking into his eyes. The blonde knew how Aomine always felt whenever he brought up topics such as 'commitment' or 'dedication'; he knew – oh he knew – the other was annoyed, furious even, at his lack of faith and optimism in their relationship.

But Aomine knew Kise constantly thought back to the past, thought back to the bright, youthful days when they would play one-on-ones or even that one two-on-twos match with Kagami and Kuroko, and then his eyes would drift down at his bounded legs. Tears would accumulate in the blonde's eyes, as he bit his lower lip, refusing to let them fall, refusing to let Aomine see his devastated face because he knew, he knew, how the other felt when he was crestfallen, when he was feeling utterly hopeless.

He knew the heavy weight in Aomine's heart would only ache more each time his tears fell.

It had been seven, long years since he had last shed a single water droplet. But at this very moment, after witnessing such a commotion by random strangers, who immediately judged Aomine for his inconsiderate attitude – despite the fall really be on purpose and part of their tradition and honestly they jumped to conclusions far too quickly – he couldn't help but cry.

At first, Aomine disregarded his cries—or, it was the fact that the latter hadn't even heard his sobs, but then it started to get louder and louder until Kise practically started wailing in the middle of public. However, Aomine didn't care; sure, it was irritating to see bystanders watch them but for now, for now all he could focus on was how to stop Kise's tears from falling any further.

They were making a scene, both of them knew they were, but Kise couldn't stop the tears and Aomine—well, he tried; he tried consoling Kise, rubbing his back in small circles at a steady pace, like he used to do in the past back when Kise was such a crybaby. He would sit beside him, looking nonchalantly at the side while his hand rubbed Kise's back gently, before he sighed and then he would bury the blonde's tear-stained face into his chest while comforting him with kind, light-hearted words of reassurance.

And that was exactly what he did. He bent down, pulled Kise's face into his chest and with a hushed, low voice said the soothing words he knew would calm the blonde down. Unfortunately, this only solved the situation temporarily. By temporarily, Kise's wails only paused before he looked back into Aomine's eyes. The tears began to well back in his eyes and then he felt the miserable blonde grasp onto both sides of his arms, releasing those gross sobs once again.

It was until Aomine grew sick, tired, and utterly helpless when he saw how his efforts were rendered useless at the blonde. Immediately, he pushed back, allowing his dark, navy blue eyes to send a piercing glare towards his lover. However, his glare faltered into a remorseful expression when he saw how shocked and frightened Kise looked upon his glare. "Sorry. I didn't mean to scare you."

He gently caressed the blonde's hair, where the other nuzzled into his hand, the tears continued to fall but at least he wasn't bawling anymore. Aomine brushed back a tear before staring at Kise affectionately, "What's wrong? You haven't cried like this in ages."

"I- I'm sorry, Daikicchi…" Kise wiped a tear before speaking once again. This time, his attention reverted back to the ring located on his left hand, as he twirled it around and around on his finger, "It's just- I feel I'm holding you back… W- When I die…"

"Oi, who said you're going to die?" Aomine leaned closer, as if to question Kise, question his will and motivation to live and whether this was the same person he loved many years ago.

"But I will. We all know I don't have much longer, Daikicchi, and I feel like I'm a hindrance, a barrier even. I wish I could just- I could just…" He took a breather, gathering his thoughts before speaking once again, "…could just die…"

Aomine could only widen his dark blue eyes in shock before the emotion quickly transformed to vicious anger; Kise could only shrink back into his chair, afraid of feeling Aomine's wrath but he knew he overstepped his boundaries—that he should have never brought up that five-letter word.

"Don't ever call yourself a hindrance again; you're not. I love you, and I'm willing to do anything for you." His face wavered to a look of disappointment, a look of sheer misery, before he grasped Kise's left hand and directed the ring right smack into his other's face. "I didn't ask you to marry me five years ago so you could just mope around and call yourself a nuisance in my life. I asked you to marry me because I love you. If you really want to call yourself something, call yourself Aomine Ryouta."

Suddenly, the only reaction Kise had was pure silence, as heat rushed up to his cheeks upon hearing Aomine's passionate and loving words; his heart racing too quickly and beating too loudly against his chest as he opened and closed his mouth in an attempt to retaliate but fell short. He remembered the day Aomine had crouched down on one knee, their friends around them, as he opened up a box with a beautiful silver band and said those four small words; he remembered the day of the wedding, where it was filled with nothing but absolute joy; he remembered the vows they exchanged that afternoon, with his fingers trembling with fright as he slid the ring around Aomine's finger; he remembered the first kiss they shared as an official married couple.

Finally, after much deep thought, he beamed regretfully up at Aomine, a comforting warm aura around him and Aomine could only breathe in relief. The worst was over with, for now.

Kise entwined his fingers with Aomine's, swinging their hands back and forth as he muttered a soft apology, and Aomine could only grin at his lover's innocent, quiet response.

He planted a kiss on Kise's forehead, tightening his hold, and then rested his forehead against Kise's, "It's alright. Just don't do it again."

Once the blonde reassured the other he wouldn't do it again, Aomine leaned in to brush his lips against his own.

It was when Kise's right leg began to lose feeling, at the age of twenty-five, that Aomine decided to propose. The faithful day was August 30th, a day before Aomine's birthday, but it was far more significant than that. For both males, August 30th marked a day of promise, a promise from Kise – who in their second year of middle school – pierced his left ear to mark his devotion to Aomine.

At first, Aomine chuckled at the thought of the male piercing his ear with a small blue hoop; the hoop symbolizing Aomine with his dark navy hair matched with his sharp eyes. But then he realized just how sexy the earring looked on Kise, and eventually, it grew on him. As they grew older, when Aomine began to show his feelings towards Kise more openly, he would trace his finger down Kise's hoop earring and a smile would make its way on his lips, because he would remember the reason as to why the earring was there in the very first place; and that thought made him grin childishly.

When Aomine brought up marriage and the proposal date suggestions to his childhood friend, Momoi, along with Kagami and Kuroko, married for two years already, they all looked at him as if the answer was obvious.

Eleven years ago, Kise made his promise of always loving Aomine. Now it was his turn.

So that day, gathered around the old Generation of Miracles and their significant others, Aomine, dressed in a black suit courtesy of Kagami since the male didn't own a proper suit, crouched down on one knee, and gazed into Kise's brown widened eyes, before presenting him with the black, elegant box containing a silver band, along with the words, "Will you marry me?"

Kise, tears beginning to well up in the edges of his eyes, looked down at Aomine, but instead of seeing that bright smile Aomine was accustomed to seeing almost every day, he saw nothing but a look of despair in the blonde's hazel eyes. Then the tears began to fall, but rather than happy, relieved tears, Aomine noticed the watery droplets trickling down the other's face matched the sorrow in his eyes.

Withdrawing the tiny case in his hand, he brought his free one to brush away the tears in his lover's eyes before cupping his hand around Kise's cheek, "So… I'm taking this silence means no." It wasn't a question, or an attempt for clarification, but a simple statement filled with resentment that was so harsh, all the bystanders watching winced.

However, the one who took it the hardest was Kise, as he shook his head, holding onto Aomine's hand tightly before mumbling, "I don't want to say yes… because… I don't want to keep dragging this on any further… I still love you…"—his hold tightened as he bit back his tears, refusing to let them fall—"But you need to move on. Find a proper lover. Someone you can start a family with, someone you don't have to treat as a child, someone who can actually walk, someone who…" Kise hesitated, biting back the words as if he knew the moment he said them, anger would immediately start to boil in his significant other's system, but still, he continued, muttering out the couple words so only the two of them could hear, "…will live longer than ten years…"

Instead of being angry with the blonde, Aomine's face only wavered to a look of concern and regret. His eyes wandered over to the side where Momoi, Kuroko, and Kagami were – the hosts of this gathering – and the three nodded their heads, reading Aomine's mind. They rushed everyone outside of the room, giving the couple privacy; Aomine watched them leave his line of vision before redirecting his attention to Kise, entangling his fingers with his.

"Ki- No, Ryouta, you know how I feel towards you; it won't change. Besides, I don't care if you can't walk, I don't care if we can't have kids, but fuck…" Aomine gritted his teeth, refusing to spit out the numerous vulgar words lingering in his mind at the one he loved most, but he really disliked it when Kise brought up the limited time he had left. He held Kise's fingers tighter, to the point where it caused the male to flinch upon the strength. Immediately, he loosened. "I refuse to believe what the doctors say—that you'll only live for another ten years before your whole body shuts down; I just refuse to believe it."


"If that is what's keeping you from saying yes to my proposal, then you better damn well take that back and say you'll marry me because none of those excuses are acceptable." He held the ring out again, looking at Kise's eyes once again, and waited; waited until the blonde finally shook his head, but this time with a smile and Aomine could feel a relieved grin forming on his lips too, as Kise wrapped his hands around the one holding the tiny box. Tears streamed down his face, and within seconds, the blue-haired male knew the tears were far different from before—full of bliss and love.

"Then yes—yes, I will marry you, Daiki…"

As Aomine leaned over to peck his new fiancé on the lips, he muttered, "Guess it's time to start planning the big day, huh?"

Kise's smile only brightened, as he nodded his head enthusiastically, watching as Aomine slipped the ring around his finger before gazing into the eyes of his future husband, "Definitely!"

It was in the beginning of January when the big day finally arrived. The ceremony was small, where it was set in the apartment of Kagami's friend in America. Unlike Japan, the two could actually marry legally in the country; thankfully, they could return as a married couple. However, it was unfortunate that they had to leave their home country to wed, but Kagami's childhood friend, as well as Murasakibara's boyfriend, had his own apartment where they could hold the ceremony rather than at a church. Although most were not pleased with having to pay for their own plane ticket, under the orders of Akashi, who claimed they all had to celebrate this wonderful occasion, they doubtingly complied.

Aomine and Kise invited their parents as well. Although both sides acknowledged their marriage, they agreed to have a simple dinner as congratulations rather than intruding in a gathering amongst friends. Further, they knew better than to add more of a burden on the soon-to-be newlyweds, knowing that if they were to attend, the couple would pay for their flights—and that was far too much. They had enough troubles with Kise's medical bill.

Later that afternoon, a wedding minister arrived to go through the routine of declaring one another as partners for life, signing papers, and the most anticipated, exchanging vows.

Everyone watched, as a rare sight in front of them unfolded, for Aomine Daiki, the Aomine Daiki, was finally exchanging vows; a sight they never thought they would ever experience. They were happy for the couple, really they were, but it was strange seeing such a man of his calibre, someone who never expected to wed.

When Kagami and Kuroko announced their engagement, Aomine had laughed, wrapping his arm around Kise and saying weddings were for fools; that they were simply a waste of money; that he would never ever marry; that he was positively content with his love life thus far. But perhaps seeing Kise, the romantic he was, always dazing off and dreaming for a perfect wedding changed his mind. Upon hearing Kagami and Kuroko's engagement, he was constantly talking about how wonderful it would be to marry but then his face would falter into nothing but utter sadness and disappointment. Maybe after witnessing various occasions of the blonde dreaming for the fantasy he craved for and with the limited time the two had left, the tanned male decided it was time to wed.

Still, seeing the serious yet passionate expression on his face as he held the ring on the edge of Kise's fourth finger, was so different from the usual scowl on his face, they couldn't help but chuckle. Of course he heard their muffled giggles and sent them piercing daggers towards their direction before sighing deeply and diverting his attention back to the person who actually mattered, offering a small, soft smile down at the male situated in his wheelchair.

He exhaled loudly, before muttering the vow Kise yearned to hear for years. "I, Aomine Daiki, promise you, Kise Ryouta, that I will be your husband from this day forward, to be faithful and honest in every way, to honour the faith and trust you place in me, to love and respect you in your successes and in your failures, to make you laugh and to be there when you cry, to care for you in sickness and in health, to softly kiss you when you are hurting, and to be your companion and your friend, on this journey that we make together. I give you this ring as a symbol of my love for you. Let it be a reminder that I am always by your side and that I will always be a faithful partner to you."

Kise's heart skipped a beat momentarily, as the wedding minister motioned Aomine to slid the ring down his finger, and he watched as the silver band occupied his once naked finger, mesmerized in its beauty—at its meaning. He couldn't help but squeal in glee at the sight of the ring before smiling up at Aomine, gazing into his dark-blue orbs lovingly.

He held the ring, in a similar gesture Aomine did only moments before, and said the words he repeatedly multiple times this day, anticipating this long perfect and special day he fantasized for years. "I Kise Ryouta, take you Aomine Daiki to be my husband, my partner in life and my one true love. I will cherish our union and love you more each day than I did the day before. I will trust you and respect you, laugh with you and cry with you, loving you faithfully through good times and bad, regardless of the obstacles we may face together. I give you my hand, my heart, and my love, from this day forward for as long as we both shall live." He paused for a second before continuing, "This ring is a token of my love. I marry you with this ring, with all that I have and all that I am."

Once he slid the matching ring around Aomine's finger, the wedding minister smiled at the new wedded couple, finishing the ceremony with a few words of his own. "By the power vested in me, I hereby pronounce you husband and husband. You may now kiss."

The two looked at each other with large, silly grins that seemed to affect even the audience watching them, for everyone was smiling widely as Aomine leaned down, kissing Kise's soft lips; their fingers entwined with one another's.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you for the first time, Aomine Daiki and Ryouta."

Despite not being able to stand side by side with his new husband on his own two legs, Kise continued to smile as bright as the sun, his smile radiating all over the room as everyone knew that even though it was not the wedding he imagined, he was still as happy as he ever was.

For he was no longer Kise Ryouta, but Aomine Ryouta.

Five years passed since the incident up at the shrine, both Aomine and Kise were dreading the day that was slowly approaching, in which doctors predicted it would be Kise's last. However, on that one faithful day, as the two were returning home after their yearly tradition, Kise seemed to forget about the horrible fate his body would soon greet him with; a bright smile on his face as if things were finally returning back to how it was in middle school.

Perhaps it was from that visit to Kagami and Kuroko's apartment that very day.

Despite the day being full of laughter, the two couldn't help but be reminded that this was the year; this was the year that Kise's body was deemed to weaken and crumble, paralyzing his body and essentially stopping his heart. Crestfallen, both made their way towards the couple's apartment, before Kagami greeted them at the door—with a small baby in his broad, muscular arms.

Immediately, their moods changed. Aomine was dumbstruck, before bursting out in loud laughter, pointing at the two-toned-haired male in front of him, a baby in his arms. However, there was a different reaction from the blonde below him, staring in awe before sparkles were in his eyes, bedazzled by the small infant that was currently cradled by Kagami.

He grinned childishly, widely even, before reaching up, as an attempt to hold the baby—of course, Kagami looked uncertain, contemplating whether it was safe to hand Kise a child but hesitantly placed the child in his arms as Aomine wheeled him into the room; Kuroko greeting them in the living room with a bow.

"This is the surprise? He's adorable!" Kise squealed, cradling the child before bringing the child up to his face, nuzzling his nose against the baby's tiny one, making soft bubble sounds and chuckling at the child's stunned yet later comical facial expressions. "What's his name?"

Kuroko, a tiny smile creeping on his lips, said straightforwardly, "Toru."

As Kise squealed even louder upon hearing such a fitting name for the child, Aomine looked at Kagami, gesturing to the baby, "What brought this on suddenly? Actually, how did you get the baby?"

Kagami simply shrugged, "Tetsuya wanted a kid; I wanted a kid—I guess you can say it was a mutual decision that spontaneously happened. Pretty nice New Year surprise, huh?" The male smirked, before leaning against the wall across where Aomine stood, observing the shock in the other's face. "As for how, well, the answer is obvious, isn't it?" A smirk made its way on his lips, one side motioning upwards. "Tetsuya can't exactly give birth so I went through surrogacy."

Aomine widened his dark-navy orbs before staring at the child and then directed his attention back to Kagami, "And Tetsu was all right with this?"

Again, a shrug. "How else were we supposed to have a child?"


"No, Tetsuya wanted the child to resemble us somehow."

Before Aomine could comment any further, he heard Kise call him over and instantly, he walked over to the side, thinking his husband was in trouble or in some sort of pain but then he saw a baby's face right in front of him and backed away. A frown was on his face but it quickly morphed to a smile as he gazed into the brown-hazel eyes that affectionately cradled the baby.

"He's so beautiful. Look at his eyes; they are exactly the same as Taigacchi's back in high school." There was a tender expression in Kise's eyes, resembling a mother with her newborn baby and Aomine couldn't help but snort. Who knew Kise had such a motherly touch in him?

Kuroko kneeled down, brushing his baby's hair away from his face, "I thought so too. He really resembles Taiga's wildness and strength. Perhaps he will turn out to be a basketball freak like his father."

"You mean like his fathers?" Aomine cocked up an eyebrow, smirking at the light blue-haired male in front of him before wrapping his arms around Kise, peering over his head to catch a better glimpse at the baby. "He sure is chubby, don't you think?"

"Daikicchi, all babies are chubby. Besides, I think Toru-chan looks adorable with his baby fat!"

Aomine had no time to retaliate, considering Kagami yanked Toru away from Kise, snapping the teasing couple's attention away from their conversation to the baby that was in Kise's arms only seconds before. Kagami, resembling a protective father, glared at the two, transferring Toru to Kuroko's arms and then focused his eyes back to the couple in front of him, "Don't call my child fat!"

Kise whined, pouting his light pink lips and gazing up at Kagami with his puppy-dog eyes, where it closely looked as if he was going to start crying, for tears were beginning to accumulate in the edges of his eyes, causing Kagami's 'playful' anger to falter slightly. Luckily he handed Toru back to Kuroko, otherwise he was certain with the other's convincing puppy look, he would have returned his child back to Kise's arms instantly.

"But Taigacchi, it's true; all babies have fat on them! Now let me hold cute Toru-chan again!"

"That doesn't give you two the excuse to call him-" Kagami stopped talking when he noticed Kuroko walk past him, passing his baby to Kise once again where the blonde cuddled the petite child, smiling dotingly, tracing his finger on the side of Toru's tiny head. "Oi, Tetsuya!"

Kuroko stared at Kagami, his usual deadpan expression on his face as he said, "Taiga, like Ryouta-kun said, all babies have fat."


"Papa Taigacchi is really mean to Uncle Ryouta, isn't he, Toru-chan?" Toru looked at Kise with his bright, joyful eyes before his arms shot upward, attempting to reach Kise's face; a wide smile forming on his lips as a giggle escaped from the tiny opening. Toru's smile was contagious, since Kise felt his smile widen upon seeing Toru's.

He poked his little nose before bringing the child's face close to his, nuzzling his own nose against Toru's, "You're too cute, Toru-chan! I really wish I had a child too—a son, of course! Since I want him to play against Daikicchi like you will with Taigacchi and Tetsucchi!" Kise lowered Toru, so the baby could rest on his lap as he stared at his legs, sorrow and despair replacing the gleeful emotion resonating within his chest only moments before. "I would name him Naoki, and he'll have bottomless talent for basketball, just like his father."

Suddenly, the room grew rather quiet, the silence almost suffocating the four males, engulfing them in the tense and uncomfortable atmosphere left by Kise. No one knew how to respond. With so little time left, Aomine didn't want to have a child, knowing full well it would be meaningless if Kise—if Kise disappeared one day from this world before ever seeing the baby. It wasn't until Toru began to cry, that the tension seemed to break, with Kuroko rushing to his child's wails and Kise fidgeting, uncertain of how to react.

"Ah. I- I'm sorry..." Kuroko muttered, struggling to control his baby's cries as Kagami rushed over to help, attempting to make silly faces to stop Toru's tears. "I don't know why he suddenly started-"—Another cry—"Just give us a moment to calm Toru-"

"It's all right, Tetsucchi, Taigacchi... We have to start heading home anyway." The tone in Kise's voice was full of nothing but absolute regret, for he was certain the sole cause for Toru's tears was from his sudden change of attitude moments before; babies in general had a strong talent for sensing moods. He looked up at Aomine, motioning the other that it was time to leave, in which he obliged, grabbing the handles on Kise's wheelchair, as they headed towards the direction of the door.

"Ah yeah, it's been a long day for both of us; you know, the visit up to the shrine. Pretty exhausted."

Of course both Kuroko and Kagami caught their lie, but due to Toru's loud wails, they could do nothing but watch as the couple left their view, their home, shutting the door quietly behind them. Not looking back even once.

On their way home, Aomine continued to push Kise back to their apartment, but instead of talking like usual, silence overcame them, engulfing them in nothing but the footsteps left by the crowds passing by. No words were exchanged, but both knew the topic that lingered in their thoughts, the first words that would escape out of each other's mouths.

It wasn't until they returned home, when there was only the two of them present with no bystanders around to eavesdrop, Kise muttered a barely audible, "Sorry."

Aomine, who had been hanging up both of their jackets on the hanger, walked into the living room so he could face Kise. There was a distressed look in his eyes as he crouched down to hold Kise's hand in his; he could feel the blonde trembling, shaking viciously as he clenched his eyes shut, refusing to look at Aomine directly in his dark-blue, mesmerizing eyes. "Ryouta, look at me."

Kise shook his head, tightening his hold on Aomine.

"Please. I want to know why you're apologizing."

"Daikicchi… Isn't it obvious?" Kise's honey-brown eyes were revealed then, wet tears began to form but none began to make its way down his face yet. The tears Aomine hadn't seen in a while, the tears he refused to see, were slowly returning and it was frustrating, to see someone he cherished put himself down all the time, to spend the last few months of their life together filled with nothing but regret and pessimism.

Aomine never replied to Kise's rhetorical question; answering would be useless. Instead he simply kept a steady gaze on his husband, watching, as his body would shake in fear, anxious and dreading to say the words on his mind. Kise knew his next words would bring nothing but tension and disappointment to his other – his better – half—and Aomine knew this. Oh, he knew, and he braced himself for the worst, braced himself and mentally prepared his emotions so he would not lash out at Kise for his thinking. Kise wanted – what he wanted most – was support and patience.

There was silence for another few moments, but soon it became unbearable for both sides of the party and Kise grew nervous, anxious even, caving under those dark-blue eyes that constantly kept a steady watch over him, observing his every move. He felt Aomine's hand tighten, urging him to go on, that he will stay by his side, that he will always be there to comfort him. For a moment, Kise only embraced Aomine's compassion, keeping his eyes shut and enjoyed the silence. Having him by his side, having him caress his fingers with his own calloused ones, having him mentally send motivational support was reassuring enough but the silence could not be dragged on any further.

"Earlier, the reason Toru-chan started crying… we all knew it was caused by me," Kise muttered, his hand gripping Aomine's tightly, causing the other to furrow his eyebrows in concern over his husband's anxiety. "I'm sorry… I said too much, didn't I…?"

Aomine's expression softened, as he used his free hand to trail his fingers down Kise's face, before letting it rest on the other's lap. He leaned over, covering his husband's face, his cheeks, his forehead, even the edges of his eyes, with quick, light pecks that sent butterflies scattering in various directions in the blonde's heavy chest. As their lips brushed against one another's, Aomine mumbled, "You couldn't help it."

And Aomine knew Kise couldn't; that the moment his eyes laid on Toru, his world immediately brightened, almost back to the colourful world he once was in. Deep down, Kise wanted a child; he desperately craved to have that wonderful family memory—Aomine instantly knew from the longing look in the honey-brown eyes that stared into Toru's; the look of a future parent who would cherish his child and spoil him with endless amounts of love.

For once, he could not accept Kise's demands, could not grant his lover the wish he currently dreamed for, and it broke his heart, but his husband had to understand—that if something were to happen before the baby was born, if something were to happen to him specifically, Aomine would be left utterly alone. And honestly, he did not have the right qualifications like Kise, did not have the amount of dedication or passion to raise a child on his own—without the help of his other half.

However, Kise refused to believe his argument. Instead, the blonde lashed out at Aomine, breaking away from Aomine's hold, despite the reassuring, comforting feelings he had flying in his chest only moments before. The tanned male looked at his husband with shocked eyes before standing up and suddenly, hot anger boiled deep within his blood, flowing viciously to his brain as he countered his husband's words.

"What do you mean this whole marriage has been a joke?!"

"Face it, you only married me out of pity, didn't you?! That day, you – and everyone else there – all pitied me, knowing 'Oh, poor Ryouta, because of his injury, he probably won't ever find another lover like Daiki again'." The tone in Kise's voice was filled with absolute hostility, causing Aomine to flinch at the sudden harshness of his tone; the lack of the ending suffix of '-cchi' forgotten, in which Aomine instinctively knew that after all those years of being together, Kise was nothing but furious.

Unfortunately for him, Aomine was also losing his patience and temper, unable to sustain being the loving, caring husband for Kise. All he could do was bite his tongue, forcing himself to swallow those bitter, hateful words he wanted to spew at his lover, before storming into his office, leaving Kise in complete solitude in the dark, grey hallway of their apartment.

Their relationship was not as peaceful or perfect as others believed it was.

Even before Kise's injury back in the Winter Cup – the lack of feeling in his left leg that began this tragic experience, the horrid fate he would soon be facing of paralysis, causing his body to shut down completely – they had a rough journey. In fact, it started after their path together in middle school separated into two, where one showed a path towards Kaijou, a route Kise followed be willingly. Then there was Aomine, who grew tired of the same old winning streak, slowly losing the sport that originally brought them together as one, took the other—the road to Touou.

And Kise was aware that his partner's interest in basketball was lacking; the child who once enjoyed basketball, who was so engulfed in the sport that he would continue playing till nightfall before walking Kise home, grabbing ice cream as they headed past the convenience store to his house, was slowly disappearing. The insecurity in his chest began in their last year of middle school and Kise wanted to break it off before they headed to different schools, for a new beginning, because he knew the two were no longer the same immature, basketball-obsessed children they once were.

However, after graduation, Kise didn't bring up the break-up; he couldn't bear leaving Aomine behind. After spending practically a year glued to his side, his heart forbade him to suddenly just leave the other. It pained Kise, every day to watch his partner slowly lose interest in the one sport that connected them, because if Aomine grew tired and stopped, would he stop loving Kise too? The thought of him caused his heart to ache more and more as time passed, as more worries and anxieties increased, but he accepted the fact that if Aomine wanted to separate, he would respect his decisions.

Deep down, he knew their relationship was going downhill, that if the other refused to put any effort in the relationship and suggested ending it, he would quietly accept. The longer their relationship, the heavy feeling in Kise's chest increased; their casual dates involved less talking, less passionate, loving moments, replaced with more intense physical attraction, lacking any form of devotion, of cherishment.

Even after their match in the Inter-High tournament, Aomine spared Kise only a single glance, before turning to walk away from the blonde, as he sat there, trembling with despair with hot, wet tears slid down his disheartened face. To the audience, even to his teammates, they all thought his tears were from the loss of the game, the feeling of regret for letting his teammates down taking over when in fact, the blonde felt a sense of betrayal; betrayal from his love—Aomine Daiki.

He had said it. During the match, he had said he would stop admiring him, that he would stop viewing him as someone higher than him – someone more talented – but as an equal. Despite his loss, despite his words, he still expected Aomine to console him, to pamper him with compliments, or even embrace him, letting Kise whine about how he was still an amateur—he wanted Aomine to at least, at least, offer him a hand.

After a brief meeting in the Kaijou locker room, Kise asked Aomine to meet him outside of the stadium; his heart pounded fiercely against his chest, each beat getting stronger and stronger. Once Aomine arrived, with that lazy tone like he could care less that Kise's eyes were still swollen red from the tears earlier, like he wasn't even his boyfriend anymore, Kise closed his eyes, clenching his fists before muttering out the words he dreaded to hear leave his lips.

"Let's break up."

Aomine stared at him with shock then confusion, which later morphed into some emotion that resembled both fury and melancholy. "What?"

"I said let's break up." Kise looked straight into Aomine's blue orbs then, recognizing the anger in the latter's eyes once he repeated his words, but he couldn't back down; not after coming this far. "It's useless staying together. I've thought about this for a while, but Aominecchi... You've changed, and until you return back to your old self, until you find joy in basketball, in me, I think it's better if we broke up."

There was no response, not a single word escaped out of Aomine's mouth, which was shocking because Kise honestly expected the male to lash out at him; call him pathetic, or demanding, or the chicks who expected too much from their boyfriend—and maybe he was. Maybe he was all of those traits, but this was what he thought was the best for both. And then he heard it, the second set of words he dreaded to hear but expected it for practically a year already. His heart was prepared, his mind, too; yes, he was mentally prepared to hear those six words.

"Fine, I don't give a shit." And then he watched Aomine's back retreat from his vision; watched as the one who initiated the relationship, the one who introduced a challenging sport to him, the one who spoiled him with plenty of love and treated him like he was the only person who ever mattered, left.

Suddenly, his heart felt rather hollow.

Until the Winter Cup arrived, Kise dedicated his time to basketball or modeling, occasionally looking at his phone before shaking his head, shaking the high hopes and dreams for that one special person to call, or even text, with the words: 'I'm sorry'. But he knew the chances of that ever happening would be little to none; Aomine was too prideful to initiate the call.

However, he was relieved Seirin had beaten Touou in the first round, seeing Aomine disheartened as the final buzzer sounded with the score as 101-100, in favour of Seirin, was a wake-up call for the tanned male. Seeing Aomine's face glance around the stadium in shock before coming across the scoreboard, realization finally hit him in that thick head of his; that distant, childish look resembled the old Aomine—the Aomine who strived for first place, who sent a high bar for accomplishments, who brought both fun and challenges to the game.

For a second, Kise felt his heart skip a beat, the old school boy crush returning; the little blonde boy back in Teikou, trailing after a basketball-obsessed boy, begging for another one-on-one lingered in his mind, as he left the stadium.

It wasn't until he left the stadium doors that he bumped into Aomine, who was dressed in his Touou uniform, fatigue and crestfallen. Smiling feebly, he hesitantly raised a hand to offer the latter a small wave. "Aominecchi."

The said male glanced up, clearly the loss or shock continued to occupy his mind, "Kise."

"You didn't go home with Momoicchi?"

"Told her to leave before me."

Kise's heart skipped a beat and his eyes shifted away from Aomine's intense stare, as if he could look through him and hear the loud heartbeats from his chest—he was certain everyone could hear it. It was like his state of mind knew what Aomine's next set of words would be.

"Let's get back together."

Yet he still couldn't believe the words that left his lips.


Aomine's eyes refused to look into Kise's wide, honey-brown ones, his hand attempted to cover the slight blush surfacing on his cheeks, similar to the day he asked Kise out. "I mean it. You said if I returned back to my old self..."

Kise stared at the male in bewilderment, before grinning brightly, his smile radiating miles away that he dazzled everyone around. That was one of the best traits of Kise; his big, sweet, playful smile that cheered even Aomine up. "I did say that, didn't I?"

There wasn't a clear indication the two were back together, but judging from Kise's smile and his teasing self, like the romantic fool he was whenever Aomine was around, the male had a hunch the blonde missed him as much as he did. Still, he couldn't help but ask, "So... is that a yes?"

Kise pondered on the thought for a second, before smirking cheekily, "I don't know. Why don't we see in the New Year?"

Finally catching onto his subtle hints, Aomine followed suit in his smirk before lighting tapping Kise's forehead with his fist, his mouth inches away from the other's soft lips, "Fine. New Year. Same place as before."

"Don't bail on me."

Aomine scoffed, before leaning in to peck his lips against the soft ones he missed for weeks, "You know I won't."

A knock sounded on the other side of the door, but Aomine refused to respond. It had been two days, too many silent, lonely hours had passed since they arrived home from Kagami and Kuroko's; at least forty-eight hours since the time of the argument, the first argument they engaged in years. There was a heavy weight in his stomach, because he knew Kise was behind that wooden door, the door that blocked the two from coming in contact. He knew that the second he opened that door, Kise would show that regretful, guilty look on his face, which would disintegrate his anger to the point where he would cave in, and just embrace Kise in his muscular, warm arms.


He didn't bother answering. Whether or not he did, Kise would continue speaking through the very obstacle blocking them.

"Daikicchi, you don't have to talk, but I- I just want you to know I'm really sorry. I didn't mean what I said..."

Aomine bit back his tongue; part of him missed seeing Kise, pampering him with gentle kisses that would surely send the other squealing in glee. But the other part knew their argument could not be solved with a simple apology, that he needed Kise to realize just how precious time he had left—that he couldn't continue dreaming in that far away world.

"But you don't understand, Daikicchi. You don't realize how much I want us to have a child, how much I want that child to be spoiled by your love and..." There was silence, and Aomine thought Kise had a change of heart, that he turned around to rethink his thoughts, but then he heard the other's sobs, the strained voice as if he was biting back the tears. "...I want someone to continue being by your side, after I- I-"

The door knob clicked that instant, interrupting Kise's sentence as the door jolted open, revealing the crestfallen blonde as the tears trickled down his cheeks; his hands quickly rushed up to hide the wet droplets. Aomine gazed down at his husband before leaning to kiss him directly on the lips, his lips brushed against the soft, plump ones that belonged to no one other than Kise.

For a moment, there was only silence, Aomine comforting Kise with light pecks, starting from his lips before making his way up to his tear-stained eyes, kissing the edges. "Don't say anything else." His lips shifted over to Kise's ear, nibbling and catching a soft giggle from the other's lips—his ears were the most sensitive part of his body, after all.

A smile made its way on Aomine's lips, accomplished and relieved to finally hear the laughter of the one he loved most. He backed away, staring at Kise with stern, dark-blue orbs, "A child isn't going to replace you, Ryouta. I meant what I said two days ago; I can't imagine raising a child without you."

"I know but..." Kise grasped Aomine's shirt in his pale fingers, trembling as the tears continued to trickle down his cheeks. He loosened his hold, his shaking fingers making their way up Aomine's eyes, tracing all his facial features, from his eyes to his lips to his jawline. A tiny smile formed on his lips as he said, "I want to see the child who will bear the same features as you, Daikicchi."

The dark, navy-haired male shook his head, "I can't. I'm sorry, Ryouta."

His smile faltered but still, the brightness remained, "I understand... I was being selfish. Let's just make the best of the little time we have left together."

Seeing the smile – the disappointed yet gleeful smile – caused Aomine to wince; his mind could only think about the little time he had left together with his one special person. This time, instead of Kise crying, it was Aomine, and he just couldn't stop the tears from falling.

They said he didn't have long to live, that the year he turned thirty-five, sometime in the summer, it would be his time to go, but Aomine refused to lose hope. It was when Kise passed the age of thirty-six, a year past the designated age, he began to feel optimistic. It was also when Kise appeared to be improving rather than losing to the paralysis, where the blonde was not only feeling more energetic, but happier, returning back to his middle school self. Perhaps it was because he finally decided to view life as a glass half full rather than empty, perhaps it was from Aomine's endless support and love, perhaps it was from—no, Aomine knew the true reason to Kise's positivity, and it barely had anything to do with him.

A high-pitched giggle erupted from the other room, followed by a louder, lower chuckle, "Naoki-chan, that's not how you say it. Say it with me now. Pah-Pah."

Aomine entered the room, watching Kise gaze lovingly at their four-month-old son, poking a slender finger against the child's forehead, causing the latter to tumble backwards and giggle. He stared from the doorway, watching Kise's facial expression change from a teasing smile to a small pout, upset with the child's lack of understanding. It wasn't until the child's eyes locked into contact with the toned, blue-haired male that he cried, "Pah-pah!"

Kise snapped out of his daze then, his wide, honey-brown eyes instantaneously focused on Aomine before a bright smile shown on his face. "See! That's how you say it, Naoki-chan. Now let's go see Papa." He bent forward into the crib to pick up his child, the young four-month child cradled in his left arm as his right slowly wheeled his chair towards Aomine.

"Look at how big he's gotten, Daikicchi!"

Dark-blue eyes gazed down into blue wide, puppy eyes that sparkled upon seeing him, reaching upwards towards Aomine, craving for the other's touch. Kise looked at him fondly before raising Naoki towards him, also begging him with his own puppy eyes knowing that Aomine was weak against his stare. Shaking his head disapprovingly, he scooped up Naoki, watching the baby's face turn from a look of confusion and astonishment before brightening into a big smile and laughing, which caused a small smile to form on his lips.

As he cradled Naoki in his muscular arms, he glanced at Kise who grinned, noticing the smile creeping on his face and it instantly vanished, a scowl soon replaced it, but he could feel heat rushing up his cheeks, "What is it?"

"Nothing. I just thought Daikicchi suits the fatherly image."

Before Aomine could respond, Kise added softly, "And I'm glad I'm still alive to see such an image unfold with my very own eyes." He gripped the bottom of Aomine's shirt, lowering his head to hide the expression on his face, but from the wet droplets landing on his lap, Aomine knew he was crying. "Thank you, Daikicchi… Really, t- thank you…"

There was a mixture of emotions running through Aomine's body then. He didn't know whether to feel relieved that Kise was finally returning back to his old self prior to the disease; to comfort his husband from crying his tears out once again; or to watch and listen to Kise ramble on about how grateful he was for everything and how Aomine spoiled him to bits. But he let his body decide what action to take, and that was a simple embrace, hugging Kise with his free arm as the other rocked Naoki; his lips traced Kise's face, starting from his forehead before making their way down to his eyes and kissing away his tears.

Aomine never expected he would be a father; even after Kise practically begged him for a child a year ago, he refused. He didn't want to raise a child on his own, concerned that if Kise died before, his efforts for the child would have been futile.

However, it was last year in December, he changed his mind, asking Momoi to be the surrogated mother for their child—even though she outwardly refused at first because she didn't enjoy being pregnant before so why would she do it again? But then Aomine begged her, practically on his knees, and said it was for Kise's sake; that he had to give him the child Kise dreamed for because he was finally improving and everything seemed to be turning for the better. Eventually, she caved, claiming that Aomine was forever in her debt, and became the carrier for their child.

So on September 24th, a beautiful child named Aomine Naoki was born, surprisingly a certain blonde that one autumn afternoon.

Four months passed since that moment, and their lives couldn't have been any better. According to doctors, Kise's condition was at a standstill; he wasn't improving, but his body wasn't giving up the fight to lose against death either. The two were viewing life in a positive perspective, starting a family they never imagined they would ever do.

The symptoms to Kise's disease started back in the Winter Cup, interrupting Kaijou's match against Seirin in the semi-finals when Kise fell to the floor unexpectedly, shocking the whole crowd but mainly Aomine, who instantly ran to his boyfriend's side. He followed the paramedics, holding Kise's hand throughout the ride to the hospital as the blonde cried, mumbling out apologies to everyone—to Kaijou, to Kuroko and Kagami, to him. His eyes grew wary, when he saw the lack of reaction Kise had when the paramedics lifted his leg to observe the damage.

Who knew that this was the start of an unavoidable, disastrous future?

On that very day, Kise's basketball career ended. The one-on-ones he promised to play against with Aomine shattered, the very sport that brought them together now crumbled in his life, but Aomine refused to leave him again—he refused to leave the one person who could pose as a challenge to him; who he considered an equal rival; who made his world shine brighter than the sun just from the sight of his smile. He refused to lose that all for the second time.

The next few months had been difficult. Kise was forced into crutches, for his left knee lost all feeling, a form of paralysis the doctors knew would be incurable. Fortunately, Aomine was there to stay by his side throughout the whole time, even taking the time and effort to travel to Kanagawa – a one-hour trip from Tokyo by public transit – to visit him.

Doctors had no idea what Kise was diagnosed with; all they knew was that his leg was paralyzed for life, and there was absolutely no chance for recovery. However, what they didn't know was that his other leg would soon lose feeling as well, leading them to conclude a very unfortunate diagnosis on Kise's health.

"Kise-san, you probably won't live past thirty-five."

Those words shocked the couple as the doctor solemnly read off the status report of Kise's undiagnosed medical condition. All they knew was that the blonde faced a threat of complete paralysis, where his whole body would soon lose feeling, thus resulting in his system shutting down shortly after his limbs lost the ability to move; unable to circulate the blood.

Kise sat in the wheelchair he and Aomine recently spent thousands of dollars investing in, knowing that this would be his only method of locomotion, as he stared bewilderedly at the doctor in front of him. Shock, despair, anxiety, and fear rushed in his body as he trembled in his seat, his hand shaking intensely against Aomine's, causing the other to stare at his partner in grief.

Aomine felt hopeless, felt incompetent for being unable to cheer Kise up, but this, too, was shocking for him. He couldn't believe losing the blonde again; just the thought sent cold shivers down his spine.

If he couldn't reassure himself that Kise would be all right, that the doctor was simply being overly dramatic and scaring the two of them with the worst possibility ever, how could he console his lover?

They were both twenty-five at the time; Aomine working as a police officer while Kise worked in the airport attending to customer service. His dream of becoming a pilot shattered the day the doctors announced his basketball career would have to come to an end, so he settled down with landing a job at the airport—at least he was somewhere close to his dream job.

However, Aomine refused to lose faith in Kise's ambition to live; he knew the blonde's optimism would surely overcome the doctor's prediction, and the two could remain in their peaceful, perfect relationship. He squeezed Kise's hand reassuringly.

He absolutely refused to lose hope.

Three years later, Aomine found himself in the very hospital he frequented with his husband for the past twenty-three years, Naoki's tiny hand in his grasp as the two headed to a room Aomine recently found himself visiting often these days. On his way, a doctor passed by the pair, immediately recognizing him and greeted him with a woeful smile.

"Aomine-san, here to visit again?"


There was silence, the three of them awkwardly listening to the beats of the heart monitors in the surrounding rooms; the loud, steady beep, beep echoed in their eardrums. Aomine's feet couldn't move, wouldn't even budge a muscle, and he was left to wonder if maybe hearing those consistent thumps would drive him to insanity. Just thinking that Kise's would one day stop beating—he shook his head, clearly the very thought out of his mind.

He couldn't think of that as a possibility; he had to believe.

Suddenly, Aomine felt a small tug on the edge of his shirt, his eyes immediately gazing down to see Naoki's teary eyes.

It was strange; seeing those tears, despite Naoki's eyes resembling his own, he could only see Kise in those wide, blue orbs.

"Daddy." At first he thought Naoki was referring to him, but then he remembered who Naoki addressed as 'Daddy' and his eyes only widened once he heard the words that followed. The words his own mind tried to send to his locomotive organs where the signals failed, but upon hearing Naoki's voice break through his thoughts and his very own child managed to muster the courage to say the very words he was thinking about, it seemed his whole body regained consciousness. "I want to see Daddy, Papa."

"Naoki-chan! It's Dah-Dah! Daikicchi is 'Pah-Pah'. Come on; say it with me now. Dah-"

A sound resembling a laugh interrupted Kise's sentence as Aomine entered the room, wrapping his arm around the other's shoulder while staring at Naoki's bright, teasing eyes, "Naoki, be a good boy. You know you can say it." He pointed a finger at Kise, a wide smile on his face, "Who is this dork here?"

Naoki's innocent giggle echoed in their ears, bringing pure joy and glee in their minds as they stared lovingly at the child in the crib, while the child returned the stare, pointing at Kise, "Dah-Dah!"

Aomine smirked, patting the infant's head before standing, making his way over to the couch as Kise squealed in delight, reaching down to cradle Naoki in his slender arms, "Exactly! Good boy, Naoki-chan!"

Quickly, the boy's naïve look in his eyes morphed into something of a teasing glint, pointing at Kise with his short, stubby finger before saying, "Pah-Pah!"

Kise's face faltered into a surprised look before pouting and crying to Aomine who only chuckled at the boy's cunningness, which the boy followed suit by giggling softly, causing the pout on the blonde's face to widen as he sighed in defeat.

"Not only did Naoki-chan inherit your looks, but he has your horrible, mischievous personality." Which only made Aomine laugh louder.

"Papa, I want to see-"

"Yeah, yeah, I heard you the first time. Come, Naoki." The two resumed their way to Kise's room, but was stopped when the doctor announced the news Aomine dreaded to hear from the very start of this whole unfortunate event.

"Aomine-san, he doesn't… he doesn't have much time left…" There was silence, in which Aomine figured the doctor was gathering his thoughts so he could phrase his sentences properly to prevent the tanned male to erupt in nothing but utter rage. "…We give it another day—two at most. He's incredibly weak now, and his pulse—it's gotten frail and rather slow."

Instead of anger boiling in his blood, Aomine felt content, perhaps even relief, because Kise had survived the battle for so long. For nearly twenty-five years, the two were able to accomplish so much—from the beginning of their relationship to marriage to even starting a family. Aomine couldn't be more grateful.

However, he had one more request, one more promise to fulfill to Kise, and it was something only the hospital could grant him.

Kise never made it to see the New Year. This time, the doctor's prediction about the amount of time he had left was accurate; and that night, when Aomine took him home so he could properly pass away in the sanctuary of his own home, his heart stopped.

At the age of thirty-nine, Aomine Ryouta passed away on December 31st, where he parted from his loving family. That day, there was a warm party hosted by their friends; Naoki putting a façade on in front of Toru and the rest of the Generation of Miracles' children, as they happily celebrated for the new year, while Aomine could only observe from afar, smiling dimly.

While the rest of the party remained indoors, Aomine stepped out onto the balcony, staring into the cold, winter night as snowflakes fell from the sky. His first holiday without Kise; and he felt no remorse.

Of course, there was an empty feeling in his chest, knowing that he would no longer see the smile that sent butterflies in his stomach; those hazel-brown eyes that looked at him as if he was the only one who mattered; those long eyelashes that battered innocently when he desperately craved for ice cream at the convenience store; or the slender body that would instantly cuddle with his the moment they tucked Naoki in and settled down—none of that existed anymore.

Perhaps it was because he knew this was coming – that it had been time for Kise to go, that the blonde had suffered enough these past few years, that his body had grown fatigue with each day that passed – but he also knew he wasn't alone. That the blonde left him a parting gift.

And that was the son they both raised together.

I guess tomorrow's visit to the shrine will be different…

With that thought in mind, a small, serene smile formed on his lips, as he leaned on the pole, watching the snow gracefully fall to the ground.

Happy New Year, Ryouta.

Ryouta, did you know, during our yearly visit to the shrine, my one wish was to see your smile for another year. I only wanted you to greet me with that radiating smile of yours every single morning.

Aomine clapped twice, looking at the shrine before he felt a small tug on his jacket gazing down to see Naoki grinning up at him, the same bright, dazzling smile that Kise once had on his lips, "Papa, look! It's snowing!"

The male looked up, noticing the tiny flurries of white fluff fall from the sky and a smirk instantly formed on his lips as he only shook his head; his smirk growing wider and wider as he mentally chuckled at the sudden thought in his head.

This snowfall just now… It better not be your tears, got that, Ryouta?

"Come on, Naoki, let's go home."

However, as the two made their way down the steps, on the very last one, Naoki slipped, causing him to tumble backwards where he headed straight for Aomine's arms. The taller, older male reached forward immediately, grabbing his son with both his arms, his eyes widened with fear and shock at the sudden fall from his son.

"Naoki, you okay?!"

The boy looked absolutely frightened; Aomine could feel his child's heart race at the sudden fall, but then Naoki did something unusual. He wrapped his little arms around Aomine's neck, as he grinned toothily at his father, "I'm fine! Daddy used to do this all the time with Papa, right? So instead of Daddy doing it, I will!"

Shocked, Aomine stared at his son, speechless at the perception a child at such a young age could have. But then he smiled faintly, before embracing his son tightly, tears trickling down his face.

Hey, Ryouta, some things just don't change, huh?