This story was inspired from the line 如果有一天,我最重要的東西不見了,怎麼辦?(Translation: If there was a day, I were to lose the most important thing to me, what would happen?) from the preview video of XAIN's (pixiv ID 1625384) doujinshi. It's also modelled after another doujinshi I had read somewhere before (but can't seem to remember).

THIS STORY IS SET IN AOMINE'S POV.

A small note: For those waiting for the next parts of "Lies. Truth and Our Destiny" and "And call me, maybe?", it might have to take a while. I've been a lot busier since I thought, since it's the final year/semester of polytechnic before I start my internship in September/October. Also, I'm trying to raise my pathetic grades so I can get into University. The next thing I'm going to do is for AoKi day (7th May), so look out for that.

Disclaimer: I do not own Kuroko no Basket and its franchise.


Guide:

Sample text (Flashback)


Forget me, Forget me not

"Say, Aominecchi, what would happen if a person was to lose the most important thing in the world to them?"

I cannot recall what I had said in reply that day, but what I can remember is the sad smile that he wore on his face when he asked me that question.

Back then, I dismissed the question without a single thought. Now that I think about it, I was too young… too childish to have understood the real meaning of that question.

People do not realize the true value of something they have until it is gone.

That is what everyone says, yet we always take those things for granted.

I, too, have recently learnt the meaning of this phrase; and of his question.

However, by that time, it was far too late.

He was already gone.

Forever.

XXX

The annoying beep of the alarm clock woke me up from my sleep, just like it would every morning. Reaching my right hand over to the bedside table, I turned it off with a push of a button. I opened my eyes to the glare of the morning sun; and I had to use my arm to shield them from the blinding light.

I sat up on the bed, looking around my mess of a bedroom. The pile of unfolded laundry on the floor, the wooden floor that lost its shine, the coldness of the part of the bed next to mine. Nothing has changed; yet there was a swell of disappointment at the realization.

As if trying to distract me from my thoughts, my stomach let off a fierce growl, and I got out of bed with a grunt. Without bothering to change out of my pajamas (a pair of sweatpants and nothing else) I dragged my feet out of the bedroom.

The rest of the apartment was just as messy as the bedroom; and that was something did not change either.

I cannot recall when the last time I did any cleaning was; Ryouta was always the one who took care of the chores, no matter how busy he was.

This apartment that I used to share with him used to be so vibrant, filled with his smiles and laughter. Right now, it is nothing but bleak.

I walk over into the kitchen towards the refrigerator, paying little heed to the piles of plates and dishes that had accumulated in the sink and also the steadily growing mountain of rubbish bags that should have been taken out two months ago. I took out the orange juice and took a gulp straight from the carton, washing away the dull taste of the saliva that had built up in my mouth.

Carton still in hand, I fished a slice of bread from the bread-bin on the counter. Since I had bought the loaf several days ago, it had already gone stale, but at least there was no mould. Not like I had anything else to eat, anyway.

I took my 'breakfast' to the couch and kicked a pile of newspapers off it onto the floor. I sat down and turned on the television, taking a bite of the hardened bread. At this hour of the morning, most channels only showed the news. Not that I care about what is going on around the world and the country nowadays, but at least it was better than nothing.

I have never really done something like this until recently.

Breakfast used to more than just bread and juice; it was a proper meal. The only thing Ryouta could not do was cook; so I made our meals every morning. Sometimes we had sausages and eggs accompanied with bread and a salad; other days we had a more traditional breakfast of rice, grilled fish and miso soup.

I could have made a proper breakfast, but… Well, I just do not want to nowadays. There was no point cooking for myself, I guess.

Actually, I cannot even remember the last time I had a proper meal. Even for lunch and dinner… If I did not skip them, they would end up being food from the convenience store or cup noodles.

It was as if I was just eating for the sake of sustaining myself; just to have sufficient energy to simply survive each day.

But for what reason?

I may be alive right now, my body is functioning as it usually would; but I would rather be dead. I do not have a reason to live. At least, not anymore. There is nothing left inside of me, maybe except regrets and memories.

If that is the case, I wonder why I still bother to keep on living.

"Reduced to such a pathetic state… This isn't like you at all, Daikicchi."

My eyes widened when I heard that familiar voice.

Could it be…?

No, it is not possible.

"You're a grown man now; at least learn to look after yourself. Look at this place; such a terrible mess. The laundry's all over the floor, the kitchen reeks of garbage, and the newspaper. If you aren't going to read it like you used to every day, then cancel your subscription; or at least recycle it. Seriously, how can you expect me to leave you by yourself if you don't buck up?"

I turned my head to my left, eyes still widened.

That person… that face… that expression…

It cannot be anyone else but him.

"Ryou…ta…"

"…"

He said nothing in reply when I called out his name, nor did he look at me.

He was wearing his favourite coat— the snug chocolate-brown one with the fur-trimmed hood that he owned since his days in university; and a pair of black jeans tucked under a pair of of black boots. Just like he did that day.

"You've come back," I stated, swallowing the feeling that was building up in my throat.

"I didn't come to see you." The tone of his voice changed. It was light and slightly cheerful earlier, but now it seemed as if he was angry with something… or someone. "I came back for a certain thing of mine that is in your possession. Hand it over."

By instinct, my eyes narrowed.

"Never." I growled.

He returned my glare with one of equal intensity.

"It has been two months. How long are you going to keep up this silly act?"

"It's none of your business." I turned my head away, clenching my teeth. "Stop being a nag. It's not like you care about us… about me anymore, right?"

"… If you say so. It doesn't matter anyway, because I'm not going to see you anymore."

"No, wait—"

It was too late. By the time I looked towards that direction again, he had already vanished from my sight.

It has been like this between the both of us in the past two months.

I closed my eyes again and took in a deep breath. Opening them again, I decided it was time to brush my teeth, take a quick shower and after that head off somewhere. I did not have any specific place in mind, but it is a lot better than just staying here by myself.

It makes me want to suffocate.

XXX

"It's rare to see you here off-season."

I shot a glare to Kagami, who made that remark with raised eyebrows when I walked into the JABBA gymnasium reserved for the country's national players.

"Is there a rule saying that I can't be here?" I retorted, my tone a lot more harsher than I would have liked it to be.

Kagami seemed to be a little surprised by the ferocity of my reaction.

"No, not really. It's just that I thought you'll be somewhere else."

"And where, exactly?"

"I don't know," he shrugged. "What's with you today? We haven't seen each other in a while and this is the way you treat a teammate?"

"Whatever."

"Since you're here, want to go at it? I've always practiced alone, so it'll be nice to have someone to play with once in a while."

"Why don't you ask Tetsu?"

"He's working on his manuscript right now. It isn't a good idea to disturb him when he's in that mode."

"Ah."

"So, want to go at it?"

I pondered for a while before giving my answer. "Why not?"

"Did you bring your stuff? Like your shoes and all that."

"Of course not. Do I look like I have a bag right now?"

"Then why the hell did you come here for?!"

"I decided on a whim. Deal with it. Also, two or three rounds won't ruin my sneakers, so it should be fine."

I took off my scarf and jacket and tossed them onto one of the benches, allowing a large sigh to escape my lips as I walked to the center of the court.

"The one to score two baskets wins?" Kagami suggested, tossing the orange-brown ball between both his hands. "You start. And don't use Zone."

"Fine with me," I answered nonchalantly.

Kagami gave the ball a hard bounce, which sent it flying upwards. As it came back down, I caught it with my right hand and started to dribble it. He was already in position, crouched in a defensive stance in await of my attack. The look in his eyes were sharp, challenging even.

I took one step back, pressing the sole hard on the floor.

I can get past him with speed. Even if his reaction is quick, there are many ways I can slip through and get close to the basket. From below… with a fake or two… followed by a cross-over to the right… I can see it. He won't be able to stop me.

I can do this.

Kicking the ground, I broke into a full run. Everything just as planned… except for one problem.

I lost control of the ball.

"Wha—"

By the time I realized what was going on, Kagami was already dribbling the ball towards the hoop.

I chased him from behind, hoping to make a quick recovery, but it was too late. By the time I caught up to him, he was already in mid-air. He slammed the ball in with a hard dunk, the ball hitting the floor with a loud sound.

"That's one for me," he proclaimed. "My turn next."

"I'll take you on."

It was my turn to block his advance; and I am rather proud of my ability to defend. No matter what he has up his sleeve, there is nothing that can get past me.

Or so I thought.

Taking advantage of my momentary distraction, Kagami zipped past me, dribbling the ball with full power.

This time, I was able to recover quickly.

"No you don't!"

With a roar, I gave chase, planning on stopping him before he could find the chance to jump. I managed to catch up with him several centimeters past the three point line.

There is no way I will let him score this time!

However, Kagami did not look the least bit fazed. In fact, he was smirking, brimming with confidence.

Just what is he planning to do?

To my surprise, he took a step backwards, the ball held at waist level in both hands. At that moment, I realized what he was doing.

"That's—"

I took a step forward and jumped, one arm outstretched to block his attack. It proved to be a terrible mistake; Kagami's feet only left the ground after mine. His ability to jump higher than other people was in his advantage. He shot the ball the moment I reached the maximum point; and it went into the net with a swift 'swish'.

"You… when did you learn that?"

Kagami picked up the ball and spun it on his index finger.

"Sometime back," he shrugged. "I never really had the chance to use it."

He shot me a look, and I returned the gesture with the raise of my eyebrows.

"What?"

"That should be my line. What happened?"

Huh? What did he mean by that?

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"The way you played just now. What was that? If that is the real standard of Japan's national players, I'd quit, move back to America and join the NBA instead! You should have seen the way you played just now! I don't know what was going on in your head, but the one thing I do know is that you weren't taking it seriously! This isn't like you at all!"

"Like I said, I don't know what you're trying to tell me!"

Kagami grabbed me by the front of my shirt.

"IF YOU JUST KEEP SILENT ABOUT IT, HOW CAN THE PEOPLE WHO WANT TO HELP YOU DO SO?"

He heaved a huge sigh and released my shirt.

"I know you've been through a lot for the past two months. It's not like I can relate to what you have gone through, but at the very least I can do is to offer a listening ear."

"Why?" My voice came out in a flat monotone, despite the mixed feelings I had at that moment.

Why go so far for a pathetic person like me?

"We're friends, aren't we? And friends help each other when they need it. Besides, it won't do you any good if you keep everything to yourself."

Friends…?

Help…?

"I don't need any of that." I muttered under my breath as I walked off, collecting my coat and scarf on my way out.

Kagami called my name twice, but not give chase. Even though I did not turn back, I knew what kind of expressionhe wore on his face. Eyebrows furrowed, lips pressed into a straight line and his eyes looking at me as if I was something to be pitied; and I do not like it one bit.

It makes me want to puke.

XXX

I spent the rest of the day wandering about the city.

Through parks and on bridges, past buildings and across roads; I went where ever I felt like going. It was as if I was searching for something.

Perhaps the path that will allow me to reach him.

I stuffed my hands into my pockets, my fingertips rubbing at the stickiness of my palms from the basketball match earlier.

The park at this hour was almost empty, since it was a weekday when most people would be at work or in school.

I found a vending machine there and got myself a can of hot chocolate instead of the black coffee I wanted. It was an instinct, perhaps. He… Ryouta always liked sweet things; and I would get his drink before my own.

I flipped the tab and opened the can, the sweet smell piercing my nose. I raised it to my lips and let the thick liquid run down my parched throat.

Sweet.

Far too sweet.

It would be better if it was bitter.

Finishing the can in one gulp, I crushed it in my hand and tossed it into the waste-bin several meters away. It hit the rim and bounced off it.

"You could have made that shot."

The monotonous voice that came from nowhere startled me.

"T-Tetsu?"

"Good day, Aomine-kun."

"What are you doing here?"

"I was just taking Nigou for his usual walk. Say hi to Aomine-kun, Nigou."

"Arf!" The mutt yipped, as if it were happy to see me.

"Besides, I should be asking you that. This park is a little far from your place, isn't it?"

"Leave it, Tetsu."

Tetsu did not say anything in reply to that, but instead sat down on the banch next to me.

"About earlier…"

Earlier?

"You mean the can?"

Tetsu nodded. "It isn't like you to miss. Did something happen?"

"No… nothing out of the ordinary."

"Is that so? I won't ask further, then."

Neither of us said anything to each other after that, but I could guess what he was thinking.

"Did Kagami tell you anything?"

Apparently, Tetsu seemed to know what I was thinking as well.

"Taiga-kun? No, he didn't."

"I see."

"Is he supposed to tell me something?"

"No, nothing at all."

"Hmm… That's fine, then."

Another long pause of awkward silence, at least on my part, descended between us.

"So… how's that new book coming along?"

"Not as good as I want it to be. I'm having writer's block now."

That's rare.

"What are you writing this time? Another mystery novel?"

"No, not this time. The publishing company wanted to publish an anthology of short stories on romance and they approached me to write one. It sounded interesting, so I decided to give it a try. It's a bit more difficult than expected, but I can tell that it will turn out well."

"Oh? What's it about?"

"The theme revolves around flowers; and also the language of flowers."

"You have the word 'flower' in your pen-name."

"I don't think there is any relation to that."

"So what kind of story are you writing?"

"The title is 'Forget-Me-Not', based on the flower of the same name. It's a historical romance about two lovers who had to part because one of them has to fight in a war. The other waits for him to come back to her side; but he never did. Instead, the man fell in love with another and got married without even telling her. The woman, upset by her lover's betrayal, kills herself; but not before leaving a last letter for him. The man, after reading the letter, regrets what he has done."

"Such a dark story… as expected of something that you write, huh."

"Forget-me-not… what does that flower represent?"

"It represents three things. The first meaning is true friendship. The second meaning is sincere love. The third is…"

Tetsu flinched and did not finish his sentence.

It was as if he did not want to tell me; possibly because he is afraid of how I might react?

What is it that could possible be so sensitive? And i really wish they— Kagami, Tetsu, everyone; would all stop treating me like some fragile thing.

"Is…?"

"The third meaning is… 'Don't forget me'."

Ah.

I see.

'Don't forget me'… huh…

"Aomine-kun?"

"Huh? What?"

"That expression on your face… Are you still thinking about Kise-kun?"

I turned my head away.

I had thought I successfully managed to mask my expressions… Did it just slip out?

"Aomine-kun, don't avoid the topic. Please."

"I… don't want to talk about it, Tetsu."

"But if you don't, how long are you going to lament like this? Even though Kise-kun is…"

"Shut up, Tetsu. Don't speak anymore."

"As much as I am aware than you don't want to talk about it, let me say what I have to. I know you miss him, but you have to accept the truth. You can't live like this forever. The longer you remain like this, the more you will hurt yourself. Open your eyes, Aomine-kun; and move forward. It isn't the end of everything."

"Yeah. I know."

I was not even in the mood to get mad. I simply stood up and walked away from him, from that park.

I know Tetsu meant well, but I… just do not know what to do. Despite all tht he had said, I just cannot let go.

Of the past, of the memories, of him…

"Damn it," I muttered under my breath.

Maybe I should just return home. I do not want to run into another person whom I know. Just listening to them talk about things, just seeing their faces, just having them lecture me like this made a knot in my stomach.

"Why did you walk away like that? Kagamicchi and Kurokocchi are worried about you, you know?"

I paused in my steps.

Without turning, I knew who it was behind me.

And here I was thinking that there was no one but me walking along this small, secluded road.

"I thought you said you weren't going to appear before me ever again?"

"That was the plan, but you still have that thing with you; and I really want it back."

"I told you I'm not willing to give it up," The hand in my left pocket was balled into a fist, inside it was a small metal object. "How long have you been around?"

"Why should I tell you?"

"I would think that you witnessed that thing with Kagami."

"Indeed, I did. It was utterly pathetic. I don't recall your play-style being so sloppy. It was not even close to your usual standard, is it now?"

"…"

I could not say anything to retort that. Even I knew that what he was saying is the truth.

"The Daikicchi I know always looks his best when he plays basketball. Unparalleled in power, speed and technique; lighting up the court with radiance brighter than any sun or star. That… is the person whom I had fallen so deeply in love with. But the person I see standing in front of me now is not him. I can't see any of that in him; all I can see is a pathetic, sentimental bastard who refuses to let go of the past. Even though he was the most precious person in the world to me, I don't know this person named Aomine Daiki. Not anymore."

"Is… that so?" My comment obviously went ignored.

After a brief pause, I allowed those words to slip out. "So does that mean… that you don't love me anymore?"

"…" He did not offer an answer, but instead repeated the same thing he had been saying for the past two months. "Let's end this already."

After that, there was only silence.

I turned around and, as expected, he was no longer there.

Really, now.

Coming and going, like the wind… here one moment and gone the next… tormenting me with his presence… with mocks and insults… with both sweet and bitter words… I do not know how much longer I can take this.

It makes me wish I was really going insane.

XXX

The sun had set earlier than usual today; and the house was pitch black when I returned in the early evening. I headed straight to the kitchen. I had to replace the stale bread with the fresh loaf I just bought from Murasakibara's.

Unlike Kagami and Tetsu, he did not mention anything, but instead gave me two slices of his special homemade quiche.

"Something to make you feel better." He had answered in his usual lazy manner when I asked him why. "When you're feeling terrible, it helps if you eat something really tasty."

I searched for a clean fork and brought the cardboard box to the dining table. I dug into the treat of custard, cheese and crust and popped it into my mouth.

I never knew there was such a thing as quiche made with teriyaki chicken, but it was delicious. I finished the two slices and when I was done, tossed the box into the bin for burnable garbage and the metal fork into the sink.

With a now-filled stomach and nothing better to do, I decided to head straight to bed, despite not being tired at all.

I closed my eyes and buried myself under the soft covers, tossing occasionally from side to side and shifting about to get comfortable. Ever since that day two months ago, I have not been able to sleep well. There were even nights when I did not get any sleep at all.

That day is one which I would never forget; it remains vivid, clear, detailed in my head…

"I'm going to be late!" That was the first thing I heard from Ryouta as he rushed about. "Daikicchi, why didn't you wake me up?! My manager is coming in ten minutes and I'm not ready yet!"

"Well, you looked so blissful in your sleep; I didn't have to heart to wake you."

"What kind of nonsense is that? I told you I had a recording for a television programme at nine; and it's almost eight o'clock! I should've been awake an hour ago!"

"Well, you did mention that you were tired last night… Plus we stayed up really late, too…"

"That's no excuse!"

"Said the one being all clingy with me last night."

"That…!"

I chuckled as Ryouta went red.

"A-Anyway! I'll be going! My manager's already downstairs waiting for me!"

"Want me to walk you downstairs?"

"No, it's fine. I can't afford to waste even a second now."

I hugged him from behind and sighed.

"Must be hard being Japan's top idol. Even though it's off-season for me, you can't even spare a little bit of time for me in the mornings."

"I'll make up to you tonight, okay?"

"We're supposed to be at Tetsu and Kagami's for dinner."

"There's still plenty of time after that. Plus, I don't have anything on tomorrow morning, so we can do anything you want to, okay?"

How many times before did I hear him say that? It is nothing but an empty promise, yet I could not help but feel a little happy about it.

"Nmm." I hummed in acknowledgement.

He pried himself free from my grasp and gave me a small, apologetic smile. "I really need to go now, so…"

I said nothing in reply. Instead, I simply watched him with a frown as he zipped up his boots and collected his bag, supporting the strap on his shoulder.

"Well, I'll be going."

"Hey…" He was about to close the door behind him when I spoke. "Promise me you'll come back soon?"

He flashed me his usual grin.

"Of course."

Little did I know, that would be the last time I would be able to see that smile…

My eyes opened with a start. Looking around me, I realized that I had fallen asleep.

I glanced towards the clock on the beside table. It was half an hour past midnight; which I must have slept for at least three hours. Well, that is an improvement.

But that dream… no, it was more like a nightmare. Why did I have to see it now?

Allowing me to recall such a sweet memory… so sweet I just wanted to forget all about it.

All about him.

I sat up, pulling my legs up close to my chest. Balancing my arms on top of my knees, I buried my head in the make-shift nest.

"Ryouta…"

Fate is cruel.

If only I could forget, I would. But there is a part of me that is holding on, refusing to let go.

Of the memories, of every little moment we spent together.

Of the joy and happiness, of every smile and all the laughter shared between us.

Of the sorrow and anguish, of the tears we have shed when we had unintentionally hurt each other.

Of him… and of me.

"No. No more."

My voice was cracked and dry, filled with the overwhelming emotion that I could no longer contain in my broken heart.

I picked up my cell-phone from the bedside table and dialled his number, placing the device next to my ear.

I did my best to stay strong; but the harder I try, the more I feel my prided sense of self-control wearing away, like a stone statue over the course of time. With each thought, each mention of him, another bit is being chipped away.

"The number you have dialled is no longer in service. Please check that you have dialled the correct number—"

It makes me wish I could just break down completely and cry my heart out.

XXX

It may be late into the night, but I found myself walking up the hill, towards the outlook that offers a breath-taking view of the city. It was a place of many memories for me.

We… Me and Ryouta had come here on our first date, and many others as well.

It was not a well-known place, so there were not many people around. At this hour, the place was deserted. If it was not for the street lamps illuminating the way, the entire area would have been pitch-black.

Along the edge of the cliff I stood, with my arms balanced on the wooden railings that prevented people from falling down from it. My gaze was directed forward, into the scenery the area had to offer. The stars above shone, like little fragments of a crushed jewel under the light.

"Beautiful…" I whispered under my breath.

"Isn't it?" As I had expected, he was standing right next to me. "What are you doing here at this time of night?"

Again, I did not turn my head to face him. "I could ask you the same thing."

"I can go wherever I want to. You, on the other hand, should be asleep. An professional athlete needs his rest more than anything else."

"I couldn't sleep. That's why I'm here."

"Hmm…" He hummed, not saying anything else in reply.

A thought then occurred to me.

"Say…" I turned slowly to face him. Even in the darkness I can see each of his features in perfect detail. "What if I were to jump off this cliff, right now?"

He spun to face me, evidently shocked.

"You wouldn't dare."

"You'll never know." I shrugged. "It was just a thought and nothing more; don't get so worked up over it."

His shoulders relaxed, and he let out a sigh as he shook his head at me.

"You always come up with such crazy ideas. You're really silly, you know that?"

"Yeah, I know. But I feel kind of… relieved, I guess?"

"Why is that so?"

"Because you got angry with me."

"Huh? I don't get what you're trying to tell me."

"When you get angry at me, it makes me feel as if you still care about me."

"I do care about you. Who said I didn't?"

I snapped. "Then why did you have to have to leave my side?! Do you know how terrible it is without you here?! Just having to be alone… without you around… is enough to make me lose my mind."

He looked down, his expression was one of guilt.

"I'm… sorry."

"Don't apologize. It wasn't your fault, anyway. It was an accident; no one could have predicted something like that to happen. It should be my fault instead for yelling at you so unreasonably."

"Hah… Oh yes, how is Sakaki-san?"

"Your manager? He just woke up from his coma; I heard from his wife earlier this week."

"I see… that's relief."

"Why? Why do you feel relieved? It's unfair!"

Ryouta raised his arms and cupped my face in his gloved palms. His expression was soft, yet it looked so pained.

"That Sakaki-san is still alive… and I'm the one who's dead?"

"Exactly! Why couldn't the two of you survive? Why couldn't both of you be dead instead? It's really unfair, isn't it, that one could live and the other can't?"

"Don't be so mean, Daikicchi! Think about how sad Sakaki-san's wife and children would be! Besides… the truck slammed into the left side of the car; there's no way I could have survived."

"What about me, then? Are you saying that I'll be fine without you around?"

"You still have Kagamicchi and Kurokocchi and everyone else by your side, right?"

"It isn't the same! None of them can ever replace you!"

He withdrew his hands from my face, and placed them loosely around my neck instead.

"What is it that is bugging you, Daikicchi?"

As expected of Ryouta; he knows me the best.

"You know… Since that day… even though I don't eat as much as I used to, I still have my meals. Even though it's difficult and lonely, I still get a little bit of sleep every day. Even though I haven't touched my motorbike since that day, I still go on long walks as I usually do instead of staying cooped up at home. Slowly but surely, life seems to be getting back to normal… except for one thing: that you aren't around with me anymore. And that I can't stand the most."

"I see… It must have been really tough for you, hasn't it? I'm sorry."

"Like I said, don't apologize."

"Do you remember that question I had asked you, during our last year of middle school?"

"You mean the one about losing the most important thing to you?"

"Oh, you still remember?"

"I do. What about it?"

"Do you recall what you have told me back then?"

"That I don't recall."

"You told me that… if a person was to lose the most important thing in the world to him… he would just have to keep on living."

I was surprised. "Did I really say that?"

"Yup. You said no matter how important that thing is to him, his own life is more important."

"I was really a stupid brat back then, wasn't I? I didn't really understand the meaning behind that question of yours… until I lost you."

Kise laughed. "Do you think you'll be fine from now on? You always make people worry for you, you know."

"Funny, Tetsu said the same thing last week." A smile crept onto my face. "I think I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself from now on. It'll be hard, but I'll be fine. I'll keep on living, no matter what."

"I'm glad to hear that."

He gave me that familiar grin… the one I hadn't seen since that day.

We both closed our eyes, and leaned in for one last kiss. To be honest, it lacked the warmth and softness that I remembered, but it felt as wonderful as always. It was nostalgic, yet so foreign.

Moments later, Kise pulled away from me and held out his hand. "Could you give it back to me now? If you don't, I can't go in peace."

"Fine." From the pocket of my coat, I took out the small object— a blood-stained earring, and placed it in his outstretched palm.

"Thank you," He clenched it in his fist, which he now held over his heart. A small smile graced his thin lips. "You have no idea how precious this is to me."

"Of course I would know, stupid. After all, it's the first gift I had ever given to you. How could I ever forget that?" I swallowed a mouthful of saliva. "Say… Is it okay if I ask you one last question?"

"Sure… Go ahead."

"Would you rather… Would it be better if I forgot all about you?"

He seemed to be perplexed by that question, but only showed it in the raise of his eyebrows.

"Well, if thinking of me causes Daikicchi to get hurt, then I would rather if he forgets all about me…"

"!" At this answer I gasped in surprise.

"… But if I had a choice, I would never want Daikicchi to forget about me. Because that would mean that he would forget about everything we have been through together, all those wonderful times we have spent with each other… and all the radiant smiles that he had shown me. I don't want that to happen. Ever."

"I see…"

"I love you, Daikicchi."

"Yeah… I know."

And the next thing I knew, I was all alone.

A single tear escaped from the corner of my eye and rolled down my face. "I love you too."

Those words may not reach him anymore, but in my heart, I know it would.

I tucked my hands into my empty pockets and heaved a sigh. "I guess I should be heading home…"

I have to get ready by nine and head to the training center for a meeting that starts at ten. After that, meet Satsuki, Sakurai and their brats for lunch at that new restaurant at Shinjuku. At night, Kagami, Tetsu and some of the guys are going out for dinner and drinks at Himuro's bar. I also need to take out the garbage; tomorrow's the day for non-combustable trash, if I'm not mistaken. I should buy some cleaning supplies and start uncluttering the apartment; maybe get Tetsu to teach me on how to do the chores when he is done with his new story… I can ask Kagami too. And also…

I took a long walk home, making a list of what I needed to do in my head.

And for the first time in two months, I felt perfectly fine.

- END -


End notes:

1. JABBA is the abbreviation for the Japan Basketball Association.

2. The technique Kagami used, in case you didn't recognize it, is Hyuuga's "Barrier Jumper".

3. Kuroko's pen-name, in my stories where he ends up being a novelist instead of a kindergarten teacher, is Kogami Karoku (Kanji: 古賀実 花禄). I messed up the kana of "Kagami" and "Kuroko" and that was the best thing I could come up with. Though it wasn't intentional, I think I made an unconcious reference to Karoku of Mikanagi Touya-sensei's KARNEVAL, who is my favourite character in the series (and voiced by Kasamatsu's seiyuu, Hoshi Soichiro-san, too.)

4. The language-of-flowers (hanakotoba) I used for the Forget-Me-Not flower (also known as Wasurenaga) follows the Japanese Hanakotoba instead of the western version.

5. I don't know if there's such thing as Teriyaki Chicken Quiche. I made it up. If it exists (or if you have tried to make one) please let me know how it tastes like. I'm curious to know; and don't tell me it tastes like Teriyaki Chicken (well, duh).

6. I hope nobody cried…?

THANK YOU FOR READING!