Life in Technicolor
Disclaimer: I don't own Coldplay's "Life in Technicolor II" or Fujimaki Tadatoshi's Kuroko no Basuke.
Author's Note: This is a sequel to "Last Night on Earth" but hopefully it stands alone okay.
The apartment across from him is still lit up, but a shadowy figure moves over to the wall and then even that light is out. The streetlights are glowing, but nothing else is out there. No lightning bugs, no lightning, no lights. No bicyclists ride by with dancing headlights; no cars pull over. He's alone. The noise of the main streets seems distant and unimportant. He cracks open the window, and then the screen and hoists himself up so that he sits on the sill and his bare feet dangle onto the fire escape. It's a cool night in early autumn. He can't really see through the reflections in the glass so he slides outside and dangles his feet through the bars.
He's still clutching his phone in his right hand. His left is empty. He absentmindedly rubs the scar he got from being careless when Taiga first tried to teach him cooking, and when he got distracted by Taiga's graceful moves and forgot he was cutting something. It had bled like a motherfucker and he'd cringed and apologized and done a shit job of bandaging himself up and Taiga had sighed and wondered how the hell Aomine could mess up a simple thing like cutting a vegetable. It wasn't like he was uncoordinated. And Aomine had blushed and shrugged and kissed Taiga, who was still exasperated but totally used to Aomine by now.
The scar is stark and white and stands out on his dark, otherwise-unblemished skin. It doesn't hurt anymore. The hurt is somewhere else.
He presses and holds the "1" key on his phone, listens as the automated voice tells him he has five saved messages, deletes the one from his mother from last month, and listens again to the familiar voice.
"Hey, Daiki, it's me. Listen…I won't be home until late tonight. I have to cover for Honda; his wife's having a baby…"
He mouths the words along with the recording, has heard it so many times, has pressed "repeat" over a hundred times. Each time he hears it, Taiga feels farther away from him. He has idly wondered if this is all some sick, twisted dream and one day he'll wake up and he'll be back on the roof in middle school and Satsuki will shake him awake and tell him he's about to miss class, and he'll regale her with all the crazy shit that happened in his dream.
But this feels too real. This better not be a dream, because the ache in his heart and his stomach and his hands is too great to be artificial. It is too sharp and full of clarity to be made up by his mind. Of this, he is completely sure. He knows fake from real, has faked the easy, confident smile for a while now.
He does not press "repeat" this time. He simply lets go of the phone, lets it sail five stories down and hears it shatter against the pavement. They tell him that moving on is okay, that he'll still have his memories. And he trusts his memories more than any machine. Even houses cannot be trusted; even houses implode and collapse and bury things.
They should have gotten married. Taiga had an updated will, had willed everything to him anyway, but there's still something different, some relationship upgrade they hadn't had. They'd been so careful and forward-thinking yet they still thought they had all the time in the world to get married.
But what is time? Does time matter? Aomine can count the days since Taiga died, since he heard that voice in his ear for real and not on a phone line. But it doesn't matter how many there are because there is an insurmountable distance from here to there. His memories are slipping, even if they are still there somewhere. He knows he has to make peace with them before they disappear into the fog that is his brain. He read somewhere that the more you recall a memory, the more distant it becomes.
Is his head now as empty as his hands? Not quite. He can picture that face, every expression. He can conjure up his voice, his happy tone, his sad one, his angry one. It's all still there, somewhere. He's thought about them so much lately. He's only thought in the concrete was, happened, did. But what would happen? What if Taiga were to burst through the window and sit down beside him and tell him that dinner was ready?
Aomine double-checks, and sure enough there's no one beside him. He's still alone, without even the light of his cell phone for company. Dropping it was so dramatic, and getting a new one will be such a pain. His was beat-up and battered, anyway, though, and he didn't really need an excuse to get a new one in the first place. He'd probably get a lecture on how wasteful he was being to not stretch the last few months of life out of that phone from Taiga if he were here, actually. And he'd half listen, and nod and smile and keep on being wasteful and Taiga would know he was only half-listening but he'd keep talking.
Aomine kind of wishes he was fully listening because then he'd remember more words.
But he cannot stay here in the past forever. The world is moving on without him. There is only a finite number of tomorrows lying out before him. He knows that now more than ever. And he has begun to carry the loneliness with him, has adjusted to the weight, can now move on while shouldering a larger burden, that of whatever Taiga's legacy may be.
At the funeral, several people came to express their condolences to him personally. Some of them were people who Taiga had rescued, carried from a burning building. They all made him immensely proud and at the same time shaken. It was talking with them that he almost broke down and cried, hearing how amazingly brave he was from people who knew it as well as Aomine did. Their grief was not as raw or as deep as Aomine's but it was cut in a similar shape.
He held it together, somehow, until the funeral was over and everyone had left, even their closest friends. He assured them that he just needed some time on his own right now. He pretended not to see their worried glances and hurried them all out and lay down on the bed and heaved dry sobs for the next hour and a half.
But they'd been prepared for this. They'd had everything set up so it all went smoothly, and little by little Kagami Taiga is weaving his way out of the world, leaving behind only memories and blank spaces. How could a life that impacted his so heavily be reduced to nothing in less than a year?
Aomine shivers, remembers he is only wearing a short-sleeved shirt. No one is here to wrap his arms around Aomine and keep him warm, or to distract him from the cold. With a sigh, he climbs back in through the window and closes the screen and the glass behind him. The apartment is fairly warm, even in the darkness.
He does not dream on this night. He has not dreamed for a very long time.