Chapter Six
~"I Can't. I'm Sorry."~

~Kuroko no Basuke is not mine!~

In the dreamless peace of his mind, Kuroko felt something gentle touch his face and twitched, disrupting the tranquility of his unconscious state. His body tingled as it began to awaken, making him panic, and Kuroko struggled to stay in his mind's darkness without success.

"...ko..." He heard a faint voice, sleepy and low, and his heart pattered at the thought of his finance for the briefest moment. Was it Taiga? Had this been just some terrible dream after all? Kuroko smiled as his eyes began to wake up, his mind and body synchronizing and knitting back together. He had separated for the night, his mind too tormented for sleep to be reasonable, and now he let the fibres of his mind reattach to his limbs and nerves. A minimal connection had maintained his body functions -breathing, beating, heating- and now it was all coming back under his control. "..uroko...?"

"Mmm..." Kuroko turned into the fingertips tracing his cheek lazily, more relaxed than he had been in a long time, and sighed. "Yes, Taiga?"

"Kurokocchi!" Kuroko jumped, his eyes shooting open, and he rolled away from the touch with a flinch and a flash of pain across his stomach. He fell backwards, the floor meeting his shoulders heavily, and Kuroko cried out quietly as it caused him pain. As he cracked his eyes open again, shifting into a more comfortable position, Kise's tousled blond head poked over the side of the bed with terror in his eyes. "Are you alright?!" He squeaked, biting his lip.

"..." Kuroko looked around faintly, his mind dazed for a moment, before his stomach flexed and the sharp pains in his abdomen returned. When he glanced down, there were speckles of red on the front of his borrowed sleep shirt. "I'm fine."

"Are you sure?" Kise pressed, sitting up and crawling closer. "You look pale, Kurokocchi! Do you feel-"

"It's the stitches from last night." Kuroko admitted bluntly. "They are bleeding again." He got to his feet with a faint grunt, making Kise rise with him anxiously, and peeled the shirt away from his sticky skin. "Quite a bit, actually."

Before Kuroko could blow it of any further, Kise had scooping him up into his arms and whisked him back onto the bed. Kuroko blinked at the blond's agility, reminded of their school days on the court, and looked up at Kise blankly.

"I-I'll get bandages!" Kise blurted, fisting his hands in his hair. "Don't move! Moving is bad, you'll just make them worse! You're hurt and I'll take care of you, Kurokocchi!" Kise kept standing there, one knee on the bed, and fretting over the blue-haired man until Kuroko spoke and broke his stupor.

"If you're doing all that, why are you still standing here?" He asked quietly, not meaning to be so cutting, and Kise shrunk back like a struck woman.

"I- oh- right." Kise mumbled, wincing as he hurried out, but Kuroko couldn't pull himself together enough to care and apologize; he felt hollow, sore, and utterly alone.

No gentle treatment or kind words could fill that hollowness. Not right now.

Kuroko laid there limply and stared after him, his mind strangely blank and uninterested in thought. He let this blankness wash over him in waves, the absence of thought breaking against him as static until Kise's voice parted the silent seas.

"Kurokocchi! What's wrong?!"

Blanking rapidly and rising out of his own thoughts, Kuroko found himself cradled in the circle of his blond friend's arms. Kise was looking down at him, the tears in his eyes threatening to break free, and holding his upper body close to him.

"Kise?" Kuroko spoke but couldn't believe that what he heard was his own voice. It croaked out of his throat and suddenly he noticed the wetness on his throat- his face. He raised his hands to his cheeks -were they shaking?- and wiped it away so that more could take its place. Kuroko barely responded to the tightening of Kise's grip, blinded and baffled by the reluctant tears, until a tear hit him from above.

"Why are you crying?" Kuroko whispered, trying to pull away and compose himself. He couldn't stop shaking enough to use his hands and, unfortunately, the tremors were spreading through his entire body. "Is something wrong?" Kuroko refused to acknowledge his own tears; admitting to them made them real as well as his grief.

"I-I just- you're-" "it's fine," Kuroko said flatly, brushing the concerns away. "I'm just a little shaken. Don't worry."

"You're lying." Kise said firmly, sniffling and rubbing at one teary eye. "You... when I saw you like that, Kurokocchi, you looked so dead inside! Like someone had hollowed you out!" Kise shook too; Kuroko could feel it as the blond hugging him close and pressed his picture-perfect face into Kuroko's blue hair. "I thought I'd lost you... th-that you were going to die."

Kuroko listened to Kise as he poured out his heart, whimpering and snuffling like a child afraid of a storm, and soon the tables had turned. Kise had slipped down, losing the protective stance on the bed, and Kuroko was forced to play comforting friend as Kise buried his face in his shirt.

"Didn't they?" Kuroko asked quietly, resting a hand over top of his healing wound. He tried to continue, but his tongue felt thick and heavy. He kept quiet and felt Kise watching him intently.

"Could you..." Kise tried to form questions but he fumbled. "Did it kick?"

"She kicked." Kuroko told him quietly. "We talked; she loved to listen to people speak." He fisted his hands in his borrowed shirt and ground his teeth together. "She knew who we were... She was aware, and alive, and so brig-" Kuroko choked on his words as his throat closed, a small 'urk!' finishing his sentence, and jerked. He surprised himself with it -with how much he was hurt- and Kise whispered softly to him as he petted his blue hair.

"Shhh... Shhh..." He said hesitantly, rocking Kuroko as best he could. "What do you mean 'talked'?"

"We talked. Had conversations." Kuroko replied tightly.

"About what?"

"Life." Kuroko murmured, "Death... People. The Earth." He clenched and unclenched his hands, trying to breathe calmly with the motions and keep himself under control. "She was so curious... I told her about everything."

"How?" Kise asked, brushing Kuroko's bangs away from his distant azure eyes. Kuroko knew now that Kise had simply been humoring his tangent -that he didn't believe his daughter could hear and be heard- and he sighed shakily.

"Kise..." Kuroko turned to face the blond, serious and unimpressed by his doubt. "I'm not human. We..." How could he explain the vast network of lives that glittered like stars? Or the way in which Kuroko and the spark of his precious child spoke so intimately?

Could he?

"It's different than a human mother and fetus. Our minds..." How could he make Kise understand? "everyone is just..." Kuroko locked eyes with Kise, unable to overcome his failing attempts at explaining the ability to him, and sighed helplessly.

"Show me." Kise suggested charismatically, sitting forward and staring down at Kuroko eagerly. "You know I'm a visual leaner. I can take it, whatever it is," He grinned cheekily, tilting his head to one side, and his blond bangs fell in his eyes for a photo-worthy model pose. Kuroko considered it for a moment, staring blankly at the blond until his smile faded, but he cast the idea aside.

His mind was sacred, and he had no idea how much or how little Kise would see, no idea how close they would come on the inside where there was nothing to stand between them.

"I can't." Kuroko said steadily, and he looked away from Kise's charming face as he got up again. He left Kise alone, more than physically, and couldn't miss the dimming of his smile and star. "I'm sorry."

~Kuroko no Basuke is not mine!~