Warnings: One-sided KagaKise, AoKise, abusive relationship, language, angst. AU.

The thing Kagami remembers best from high school is the way Kise looks at the asshole (known as Aomine to other people). They've been friends forever, Kagami and Kise, and yet the expression Kise has around Aomine is entirely new to Kagami. Before that, Kagami had always thought that you can't really tell when someone's in love just by looking at their face.

Well, Kise proves him wrong.

The feeling is one-sided from Kise's side, though; Aomine doesn't seem to even notice his existence. Kise goes as far as joining the basketball club with no prior experience of the game just to be closer to Aomine. Thanks to his ability to be able to copy others, he plays well from the beginning – but all Aomine offers him is a gruff 'well done' every now and then.

It kills Kise, of course, to be ignored like that by the guy he's fallen head over heels in love with. Luckily he has Kagami, the ideal best friend who's always there to comfort him. That's why Kise runs to him without a fail whenever Aomine's lack of interest gets too much for him to handle alone. It's not exactly a pleasant job, but Kagami feels an odd sense of superiority every time Kise cries against his shoulder.

He feels needed. That's a nice feeling, considering his parents live in America and don't keep in touch with him that often, and he's never had any luck with girls – not that he's ever had a girl he's really liked.

When he starts thinking about it, Kise has always been such a big part of his life that he hasn't even had time to develop a crush on someone. It's weird, but Kagami doesn't mind. After all, lovers may come and go, but friendship is forever, so if Kise consumes all of his time, then so be it.

And that's why he lets Kise in even in the middle of the night if the blonde comes knocking on his door, asking to talk with Kagami. A friend in need is a friend indeed, isn't that what they say, he thinks, and allows Kise to sleep in his bed while he himself occupies the sofa.

Yes, Kagami Taiga is ready to do pretty much anything for his best friend.

Kagami isn't quite sure when exactly it happens, or if it's always been that way and he just hasn't noticed, but one day he comes to a somewhat confusing realisation: he's in love with Kise. No doubt about it.

Being the perfect friend he is, he can't tell Kise. He knows the blonde needs his support, not the awkwardness that would surely follow if he were to confess. So he keeps his mouth shut and pretends nothing's changed.

Completely oblivious of his friend's inner war, Kise keeps coming to Kagami whenever he wants to vent his frustration. All Kagami hears during the three years of high school is Aomine this, Aomine that.

It really, really hurts and Kagami finally starts to fully understand the pain Kise's been in.

That doesn't make him hurt any less, though.

High school goes by in a flash and Kise never summons the courage to confess to Aomine. On graduation day, Kagami finds Kise on the roof top, crying because Aomine gave all of his buttons to some random girls who asked for them.

"I'll give you mine, so stop crying, okay?" Kagami means it as a joke, all he's trying to do is cheer Kise up. He knows very well Kise really wanted at least one of Aomine's buttons and Kagami giving him all of his buttons wouldn't mean anything.

Still, Kise smiles through his tears and accepts Kagami's offer.

(And in that moment he looks so beautiful that Kagami can't help but wish that Kise would become his someday.)

Kise wows he'll do his best to forget about Aomine once they start their first year in university. It could be the chance Kagami's been waiting for, but it's not, as it turns out that Aomine goes to the same school.

How could there be any room for Kagami when the love of Kise's life finally acknowledges his existence?

There isn't, Kagami notices soon. Kise doesn't need a shoulder to cry on anymore, nor does he need someone who'll support him through the process of forgetting a one-sided love. In high school, Aomine dated only girls and barely noticed Kise being there; now, he's all over the blonde, showering him with ridiculous amounts of displays of affection.

Kagami can't for the life of him figure out what makes Aomine acknowledge Kise's existence so suddenly and neither can Kise. The only difference is that while Kise's ecstatic, Kagami's developing strong feelings of resentment towards Aomine.

Because he's jealous, obviously.

But he can't really say anything. It's his own fault for not confessing to Kise when he was available, so all he can do is try to pretend to be happy for his best friend and listen to hundreds of stories of how perfect a boyfriend Aomine is.

Worst of all: Kise keeps boasting about how good Aomine is in bed.

After acting all supportive and shit at school Kagami often cries himself to sleep.

Starting to date someone whose existence you barely noticed just weeks earlier is enough to make Kagami feel confused, but he's even more baffled when Aomine asks Kise to move in with him. Isn't a bit rushed to move in with someone you've dated for only a few weeks?

Of course the blonde agrees, what else would he do when the love of his life wants to live with him? Kise's all over the place, buying things, throwing this and that away, packing clothes, looking for cheap flats.

There really is no room for his best and most loyal friend in his mind.

No matter how hard he wishes for it, Kagami can't seem to be able to summon a force to break the love birds apart. They really seem to be doing just fine, no dark clouds in the horizon whatsoever. In fact for the two of them everything's so perfect it seems like a relationship out of those stupid dramas Kagami's always been forced to watch with Kise.

(Except he can't really bring himself to say that anything Kise likes is stupid.)

It's annoying that Kagami has to see Aomine as well every time he goes to visit Kise, but he puts up with it. He has to, the asshole's treated Kise well, after all; he hasn't cheated on him, beaten him or done anything else that would give Kagami an excuse to ask Kise to break up with him.

Unfortunately Kagami not liking Aomine doesn't count as a reason for the blonde to dump his boyfriend. Nor does the fact Kagami's utterly and hopelessly in love with his best friend.

Especially since Kise's completely oblivious of his feelings.

Even if it's exactly what he's hoped for (something bad happening between Kise and Aomine), Kagami is stunned when one night Kise shows up at Kagami's place and begs Kagami to let him sleep there. The request itself isn't what stuns Kagami, it's the blood dripping from his cut lip and the colourful bruise the blonde's sporting on his otherwise perfect face.

Kise doesn't want to talk about it which, in addition to the fact that instead of being at home, he's at Kagami's place, tells Kagami that Aomine's responsible for the injuries.

Kise has to call the police, tell them his boyfriend hit him, he has to do it now – but no, of course not. 'It wasn't Aominecchi's fault, I just ran into a door.' And so on.

God, Kagami wants to punch something. Or rather someone.

Okay, if Aomine loses his temper and hits Kise once and Kise swears it won't happen again (he never even admits it was Aomine though) then maybe, just maybe, he can let them stay together without interfering.

If it ever happens again, he will call the police and tell them about Aomine's violent tendency, no matter what Kise says.

Except he won't, apparently, since Kise comes to him again, all bruised and battered, and refuses to go to the police. Kagami wants to shake Kise and force him to change his mind, but he already knows that would amount to nothing, so he drops it.

All he can do is wish there won't be a third time. But when have any of his wishes been granted?

Never, that's when. This time is no exception.

In high school Kise would come crying to his best friend whenever he needed a shoulder to cry on; now the blonde keeps coming to Kagami's place whenever he's had a fight with Aomine. After the first time Kise's face stays safe, but the rest of his body sustains even worse damage. The bruises come and go, sometimes there are scars, burn marks and at times even broken bones. Kagami can't even visit Kise anymore in fear of losing it and attacking the cause of Kise's suffering, the worthless excuse of a human whom Kise still calls his boyfriend.

Despite the abuse he goes through, Kise adamantly refuses to go to the police.

He claims he's fine while his face looks horrible with the old, still not completely healed bruise and the rest of his body is decorated with all kinds of marks. The only consolation Kagami has is that after the first time Kise doesn't even try to tell him he fell or anything like that (but he doesn't exactly admit it's Aomine either).

He doesn't really need to; Kagami's known him long enough to see through him when he needs to.

Kagami begs Kise to leave Aomine, he could accommodate the blonde until he finds a new place, he would do anything for his best friend.

(As it happens, his best friend is also the person he loves. But that isn't necessary for Kise to know.)

Kise says he sees no reason to leave Aomine. After all, 'Aominecchi is so much more than what I deserve'.

Kagami wants to scream.

The mere thought makes him grit his teeth, but for the sake of Kise's health, he has to talk to Aomine.

The asshole has the guts to tell him that he has no idea what he's talking about. Oh, and even if he was beating Kise, it surely wouldn't be Kagami's business, would it? And then he slams the door in Kagami's face.

On the way home Kagami kicks a lamp post, wishing from the bottom of his heart it was Aomine.

Friday night. Streets are filling with people on their way to meet their lovers, friends, anyone who's willing to spend time with them. Kagami isn't one of them; instead of going out to have fun, he's at home.

With a bleeding Kise.

Kagami squeezes the glass he's holding so hard it almost breaks. He wants to fucking help, not just sit there and watch while Kise slowly dies inside.

"Why do you love him?" Kise looks up, surprise in his eyes. His lip is cut, again, and his cheek is slowly swelling. The sight of his beautiful face in such a mess makes Kagami cringe. The asshole's hit Kise in the face only once before this… why did he do it again?

(The best alternative would be that Aomine would never hit Kise anywhere again, of course, but Kagami knows that's way too much to ask for.)

"Why wouldn't I? Aominecchi is really nice, it's just…" Kise trails off and turns to stare out of the window.

"It's just that he beats the living shit out of you every once in a while," Kagami offers, keeping his eyes fixed on Kise. The blonde flinches and tears well in his eyes.

"I'm really happy with him. For real, I thought he would never return my feelings, so being with him, after so many years, I… it's way more than what I should have. He's a good man, you know, and even if he doesn't always treat me so well, it's only because I deserve it."

Kagami nearly chokes on his water. "Deserve it?! Do you even hear yourself, Kise? What kind of a person deserves to be hit? Wait, don't answer. I'll tell you. No one deserves to be in an abusive relationship, no matter what they do. No one, okay? So please promise me that when you go home, it'll only be to get your stuff and to tell him you're leaving."

Kise doesn't say anything. He fiddles with the ice pack he's been pressing against his cheek to stop the swelling and keeps his eyes to the floor. Kagami waits.

He already knows what Kise is going to say, but he still hopes. In vain, it turns out, when the blonde finally meets his gaze with a defiant 'I'm not going to leave Aominecchi'.

Why do you want to stay with someone who's hurt you so much so many times?

The words die on Kagami's lips. He can't start a fight with Kise, he needs to be there to support the blonde, not tell him he's wrong (even though he is) and right now Kagami could end up hitting the other man himself if he said one more word to defend the abusive asshole and degrade himself.

He needs to cool down and wait until Kise's already sleeping so that they can't fight. Maybe he'll go for a short walk, just to let off some steam.

Kagami gets up and feels Kise's curious eyes on him.

"There's food in the fridge, so if you're hungry, feel free to eat."

The door slams shut, probably leaving a confused Kise to wonder what he said or did wrong.

When they were in middle school, Kise and Kagami kissed. Just once, as a joke. Neither of them thought about it afterwards.

At least not until Kagami fell in love with Kise. Kise, who had probably forgotten all about the kiss a long time ago. Two stupid teenage boys, fooling around, doing all kinds of crazy things when provoked enough; what's the meaning of a kiss under circumstances like that?

Now, Kagami often thinks about that kiss. He's pretty sure it's just a false recollection, but he always thinks how much Kise's lips tasted like strawberry.

Was it some chap stick that had a strawberry flavour? Or had they eaten strawberries that day, moments before their lips met? Would Kise still taste like strawberries if they kissed now, years later?

After wandering around for a bit, lost in thought, Kagami ends up coming out of the nearby convenience store with a box of strawberries.

How silly. Not to mention pointless. Nevertheless, he leaves the berries in the fridge when he gets back home, hoping that Kise will have them for breakfast.

And then what? Eating them will magically make him want to kiss you and dump that violent fucker or something? Stop dreaming, idiot. You're way too old for that.

In the morning Kise's gone. So is the box of strawberries.

Kagami's pretty sure the blonde's taken them home to share with the pathetic excuse of a boyfriend he has.

See? Life is no fairy tale where berries can make miracles happen.

Kagami really wishes he could find a way to get away with murder. But first he needs to stop crying.

A/N: I originally planned to write a one-shot but somewhere along the way I started thinking it'd be better to split it into at least two chapters. So yeah, there'll be more.

This was also supposed to be more about the abusive relationship between Aomine and Kise and less about Kagami's feelings towards Kise, but what do you know… I'm sorry I fail OTL

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