Disclaimers: Kuroko no Basuke belongs to Fujimaki Tadatoshi. This is just fanwork. If you enjoy it even just a bit, I'll be happy :)
Kuroko could hear wind chimes. The sound seemed far away at first, then slowly got louder as his eyes fluttered open. Looking around him, he saw a hanging lamp with a switch at the end of its cord which was low enough for him to reach, wooden walls with matching wooden furniture, and wide open window on his right on which tiny rainbow-colored glass chimes were hung.
He sat up, not noticing a wet towel that had been placed on his forehead until it slid off and soundlessly fell on his lap. He took it and hung it on the rim of a tin basin half filled with water placed right beside the futon he was sleeping on. He took off his blanket and got off the futon, but just as he was about to head out of the room, he saw a child peeking in from the open paper sliding doors. The little boy had ruby red eyes, and the fringe that framed his fair face was also flaming crimson. He looked adorable in a sky blue yukata with cloud and bird patterns.
'He looks just like Akashi-kun.' He wondered if this was his former captain's relative, which would mean Akashi probably took him home. After all, they had been together just a while ago… however long ago that was. He had yet to ask how long he had been out.
Upon Akashi's invitation, he went to Kyoto for Obon, a festival to commemorate the dead. Today marked their third year since Akashi had asked him out. Yes, it was Summer of three years ago when Akashi had stolen a kiss from him under the breathtaking fireworks while their former teammates in Teiko were too obviously pretending to be far too distracted to notice. It was also right then and there that Akashi had asked him out. Kuroko took a moment to process what Akashi had just said. When he finally said "yes", never had he been so thankful to Midorima, who he rarely got along with, for telling them about one of the most hidden prime spots to view fireworks in Tokyo, because there was no one else there aside from their teammates who saw Akashi put his arms around Kuroko's hips and lift him up in the air. Just remembering it still made his cheeks flare up.
Kuroko walked towards the kid and crouched down in front of him.
"Hello" Kuroko greeted with a friendly smile.
The child smiled back at him, then walked away without a word.
Kuroko followed him, but the child just ran off. With his pair of tiny feet, the little one soundlessly skedaddled through the corridors while Kuroko's footsteps created a soft 'tap tap tap' rhythm. He would stop and hide behind corners, peek to look at Kuroko, and then chuckle as if telling him to hurry up and catch him.
Looks like the child wanted to play tag, so he indulged him. The chase went on for a while, but to Kuroko, whose stamina was way below that of an average person's, it felt like forever. He held on to the wall for support, panting as he tried to catch his breath. Kuroko started wondering if he ought to rethink his career choice of becoming a kindergarten teacher when he finishes school. If one child could drain his energy this much, he'd have to go through a hell lot more training to be able to handle an entire class.
As if saying break's over the kid darted off again. Heaving a big sigh, Kuroko reluctantly let go of the wall and went after him. The yukata-clad boy then stopped in front of one of the rooms, turned around and flashed his sweetest grin at Kuroko before going in. When he got to the spot where the little kid was standing, Kuroko's brows furrowed. He found it strange that the paper sliding doors were closed, he was pretty sure this was the room the child had gone into just a few seconds ago.
He gingerly reached for the handle and slid the door open, softly mumbling "Pardon me…"
Inside there was another pair of sliding doors on his left adjacent to the one he just opened. To his right there was a study table on the corner next to a rather large bookshelf against the wall that made Kuroko's eyes sparkle. And then in front of him standing against the middle wall was a curio displaying trophies, certificates and pictures.
Kuroko walked in and looked at the trophies, he easily recognized the three they had won together in junior high one after the other. On the shelf below it there were very artful wooden plaques for various children's shogi competitions.
Kuroko's eyes widened. One of them had a picture of the boy he had just met. The way he grinned without reserve and cuddled his prize like a teddy bear made Kuroko chuckle.
He looked at the closed paper sliding doors beside the one he had gone in from, and was just wondering if the child was hiding there when it opened. The one who came out had exactly the same crimson hair and eyes, except he was older than and twice as tall as the child.
"Akashi-kun…" Kuroko was momentarily taken aback.
Akashi looked just as surprised for a moment upon seeing him there before his features softened into a casual smile and sauntered over to where Kuroko was. "I'm amazed you managed to find my room in this maze of a house. How are you feeling?"
"I'm fine. Sorry for troubling you, and thank you for taking care of me." He gave his former captain a small bow.
"Not at all. Rather, I'm impressed you managed to make it up to the genkan before passing out on me. It was so hot today, you looked completely against the idea leaving Nijo* and going back out to the streets." Akashi snorted.
"I just wanted to go back to the nightingale floors one more time." Kuroko pouted.
"Hmmm… Well then, that just means you'd have to come visit more often."
Akashi swiftly leaned in and softly brushed his lips against Kuroko's, as if to wipe away the pout on the cherry blossom lips. Kuroko relaxed into Akashi's hold and let his eyes drift close, knowing the affection, slight fever and heartfelt peace he felt with each kiss showed on his face.
Akashi, on the other hand, had kept his eyes open. He wondered if Kuroko had any clue that whenever they kiss, he loves looking at Kuroko's face because that's when he sees his most beautiful smile. "Tetsuya, I…"
Whatever he was going to say was cut off when Kuroko's eyes opened wide and the shorter boy abruptly pushed the redhead away. "Akashi-kun, someone might see…"
True enough, the door to his room was open.
"What if that child… Oh, by the way." Kuroko turned towards the curio and pointed to the picture of the little boy and asked Akashi. "Who's this?"
"I killed him."
Kuroko's expression didn't change, he just looked on, wordlessly waiting for Akashi to continue. Akashi stared at Kuroko for a bit longer to no effect. He sighed, "No reaction. How disappointing."
Then with a bitter smile he went on to say "Even you couldn't tell, huh. Have I really changed that much? Growing up in this kind of environment, I was trained by my parents to never have any flaws. I wasn't allowed to laugh, I wasn't allowed to cry. To show on my face and my actions how I felt was also a sign of weakness. So I guess you can say that that's a part of me I've already left behind."
The Akashi who had so much fun playing games.
The Akashi who can laugh freely.
The Akashi who taught him everything in basketball and opened the door for him in a sport he loves but once thought was impossible to get into.
And the Akashi he now holds dear to him, more than anyone else in the world.
Kuroko touched Akashi's chest, right above the spot where he could feel his heart beating. "In here."
"What is?" Akashi asked, putting his hand over Kuroko's.
Kuroko looked up to him, looked straight into his eyes and said "You didn't kill him. He's in here."
Then, he took Akashi's hand and this time put it over his own chest as he whispered.
"And in here too."
Looking at Akashi's breathtaking smile, Kuroko wondered if this was the same smile Akashi loved looking at whenever they kissed. As he remembered the little version of Akashi he had been chasing a while ago, he wrapped his arms around the Akashi in front of him now and hugged him tight. Just then, he saw the little one peeking in from corridor. Kuroko gave him a little wink.
1. Nijo Castle in Kyoto.