Here it is, the continuation/side-story of "immer Sie". It took an arm, a leg and some organs to finish it, but it's finally just a note, since this is related to "immer Sie", I recommend that you read that one as well.
If "immer Sie" is Kise's side of the story, then "Tears" is Kuroko's. I don't have the time now, but I hope I can do one for Aomine and Kagami as well. Then again, I'll have to see whether it's worth my time or not because I still have the Obake-Monogatari series to conplete. At the very least, I am planning for Kagami, because his story is needed to support this one, just like what this one does for "immer Sie."
And if Kuroko's emotional rollercoaster is terribly confusing/messy, I apologize in advance.
Title is from the ending song of Koujaku's bad route in DRAMAtical Murder, sung by Itou Kanako.
Disclaimer: I do not own Kuroko no Basket and its franchise.
NOTE: This story is in Kuroko's POV
- Tears -
Stay with you
"It's been almost two months since Aomine-kun disappeared."
I spoke each word out slowly, looking straight into the eyes of the man who sat opposite from me. He is none other than Kise Ryouta, one of Japan's top models and one of the few people whom I consider an old friend.
This was perhaps the first time I have spoken to him like this in ages. However, this was not a conversation between friends, though it may seem that way. Rather, it was something close to a casual interrogation— on the disappearance of our other old friend (and love interest, I added begrudgingly) Aomine Daiki, who had gone missing two months ago.
I carefully studied his features. He did not seem the least bothered by my sudden change of topic, instead casually taking a drag from the cigarette in his right hand. He breathed out a puff of smoke and tapped some of the ash into the ashtray before speaking.
"It has been that long already?" It was a nonchalant reply, reflecting his attitude towards the manner.
It mirrored his behaviour: calm, collected, no sign of distress. It was a little unnerving for me; this wasn't how he would have reacted ages ago.
"You're awfully more calm than I had expected."
He scoffed at my statement, brushing it aside with a wave of his hand. "Did you expect me to start panicking like I would have years ago? There is no use for that; it's not like it would solve anything in the first place."
I can't deny that.
But he was too calm, and that raised my suspicions.
"True. Quite true."
He knows something. It was related to this matter; and if I had to guess he is most likely more involved in this than I had initially predicted.
What… exactly is he hiding from me?
Kise-kun, as if having read my thoughts, gave a chuckle.
"Why did you ask me out today, Kurokocchi? Do you have so much time on your hands? I've known you long enough to tell that you didn't come here to only ask me out for a cup of tea."
Well, this is getting both awkward and frustrating at the same time. So much for trying to be discreet.
A drop of sweat trickled down the side of my head.
I hope my suspicious aren't right.
Because the Kise-kun I know… or rather, knew, wouldn't do anything of that sort.
"I shall be direct, then. Where is Aomine-kun?"
"I don't know."
Smart move, Police Officer Kuroko Tetsuya; it's not like he would tell you anything at all, even if he really does know something.
"Are you sure about that?"
"Absolutely sure. Besides, how would I know where he had gone if he's missing? Kurokocchi, are you implying that I abducted him?"
"No… nothing of that sort."
Most likely, Kise-kun is the person who kidnapped Daiki-kun. I'm sure of it. But I don't have the evidence to do a proper accusation.
I should still try, though…
"But it's strange. According to reports from the witnesses that we have gathered, Aomine-kun was last seen entering your apartment slightly before midnight."
"And he left. He wasn't there for very long; around two to three hours at the most."
So he wasn't going to deny it. Well, there's no reason for him to do so.
I'll just continue asking… at least, until I can get something out of him.
"But no one else saw him leave."
"It was in the middle of the night. Few people would wander around the streets at that hour."
"What was he doing at your place?"
Uh oh. I wasn't planning on asking that, especially when I already knew. It had slipped out on the spur of the moment, but at least I hoped that it didn't reveal the fact that there's this painful feeling that was burning in my chest.
It seems like it slipped out; the grin that spread on his face sent a shiver of fright down my spine.
"I recall having this conversation before. And I already told you the same thing over and over again." He leaned so that his lips next to my ear; I could feel his hot breath on my skin. "We had sex. In my room. On my bed. Does that sum everything up for you?"
I knew that.
I knew that all along.
You don't have to tell me so directly.
Even if you enjoy tormenting me like this, you don't have to…
I had known a long, long time ago. That Aomine-kun had slept with many, many others. Male or female didn't matter to him; he was satisfied as long as he could… you know, fuck. I knew that, yet I still wanted to stay by his side.
'As long as he returns to me after everything, it's okay.'
That's what I thought.
'As long as he still needs me, nothing else matters.'
I thought I could be satisfied by just that.
But I knew it was not enough.
Deep down, I wasn't fine with it.
Yet… I didn't do anything about it. I could have, but I chose to delude myself.
But the thought of not being able to see him again… It's just too much. Even for me.
"Is there anything else you would like to ask?"
That tone… he's mocking me.
But I can't lose my composure. Not here. Not now. Not in front of him.
"No…" I could only answer that with my head hung low. "There isn't anything else."
"If so, I shall take my leave now." At this statement, my head shot up to look at him; I can't let him go just yet, but I have no reasons to make him sty, either. "I don't have the luxury of time to sit around. I have a little puppy at home that needs feeding."
Why mention that now…?
"… I didn't know you had a pet."
"I haven't told anyone about him yet. He's an obedient, adorable little thing. But if I don't spend enough time with him, he'll throw a temper and sulk; just like a spoilt child."
I still don't get it.
Why bother telling this to me?
And at this timing?
Was there supposed to be another meaning to that? I can't tell just yet.
I'll have to dig deeper into this entire matter and when I do, I will expose him. I'll get to the bottom of this, and bring Daiki-kun back to me.
No matter what it takes.
When I returned back to the office, there was only an hour left to the end of my shift.
I plopped on at my desk, running a hand through my hair before picking up a folder from the stack in the corner. It must have been left here while I was out. I flipped through its contents, recognising it as the small burglary that I handled several days before. I closed it and tossed it back onto the top of the pile, making a mental note to sign my acknowledgement and return it to the chief first thing tomorrow morning, along with all the others.
I closed my eyes and pinched the bridge of my nose, trying to ward off the sudden tiredness that just came upon me. Handling so any cases at one go seemed to have finally taken its toll on my body. I could always take on less work; it's not like our department is severely understaffed.
But if I don't work… if I don't keep myself busy…
"Oi, Kuroko? You okay?"
I looked up, and found my co-worker leaning over the partition between our desks. He had concern written all over his face.
"Kagami-kun, you're back."
"Yeah. But that's not answering my question. Are you really alright? Your face is pale, plus the bags under your eyes are hideous."
"Hey, what's with that cold attitude towards your good friend? I was just worried about you."
I didn't realize that I had snapped at him until I saw the scowl on his face.
"I'm sorry about that, Kagami-kun. I was tired so it just slipped out…"
"I figured as much. There's no need for you to apologize." He set himself down on his chair and wheeled it over to my little cubicle. "You shouldn't be working so hard, you know. It's like you're purposely trying to ruin yourself or forget everything else by focusing solely on your work. Keep this up and you'll collapse from exhaustion."
"I'm not trying to forget anything. Or ruin myself." I lied smoothly. "I'm just doing as much as I can so work can go smoothly."
"Liar. I know you well enough to know that that's not the case." He looked around the office to make sure no one's watching before he reached out his hand to pet my head gently, the same way he always does. "I know you're worried about Aomine, but you have to take care of yourself too. Things will get more troublesome if you collapse."
"I guess… you're right."
But I don't really want to go home. If I do… I'll just end up remembering the things that make my heart ache again.
"What is it?"
"If you don't want to go home… you can come over and stay at my place tonight."
"Oh, no, it's okay." Kagami-kun has already done so much for me for the past few years since we met in high school… I don't want to trouble him anymore. "I'll be fine on my own."
"Don't be so stubborn. It's not like you're being a bother or anything, plus it isn't going to be your first time coming over. And I bet it's been ages since you had a proper home-cooked meal, so I'll whip up something as well. I'll even make a vanilla milkshake for you, if you want me to. You still love those, don't you?"
"Yes…" I bit my bottom lip, something I usually do sub-consciously when in thought. "I suppose I'll take up your offer, then."
"Really?" An unusual gleam appeared in his eyes, like a child who was going to the zoo for the first time. "That's great. Oh, but we'll have to hit the supermarket after we're done here. The one across the street from my apartment, since the stuff there is slightly cheaper than those around here."
"Well, then," Kagami-kun stood up, a folder in hand. "I'm going to send this to the Inspector. You want me to help you with those?"
"It's fine. I need to talk to him later before I leave, so I have to go to his office anyway."
"I see. Catch ya later."
"So what did you talk to the Inspector about?" Kagami-kun asked in a casual manner, as he plopped a package of minced beef into the shopping basket he was carrying.
I eyed the large portion of meat before replying. "I just reported what happened during my little… talk with Kise-kun this afternoon."
"About that case?"
"Don't you usually write a report for that?"
"Yes, but he wanted a brief summary of it. I would have to send the recording for transcribing next week." As I said that, I fingered the recorder in my pocket, where I always leave it even when I don't need it.
"Next week? Aren't you working tomorrow?"
"The Inspector ordered me to take a few days off. I'll be back in the office on Monday. Furihata-kun and Izuki-senpai offered to help me with the paperwork so nothing will be left undone."
"What a coincidence. I happen to be on leave until Monday as well."
"Yup. I asked Kiyoshi-senpai and Mitobe-senpai to help with my share, though I cleared most of it already. Do you prefer boiled broccoli or a salad?"
"Okay. Lettuce it is, then."
Is it really a coincidence that I was given the same days off as him, I wondered to myself. Also, while it was not uncommon for two members of our department to be absent on any given day… it was still strange.
Or maybe I'm thinking too much.
After getting the groceries, we headed straight to Kagami-kun's apartment. Dinner was prepared and eaten, and after that bath ran and taken. I always had a few spare sets of clothes at his place, so I changed into one of them.
"Staying for the night?" He asked as I emerged from the hallway in a T-shirt and old sweatpants.
"Do you mind?"
"No. Not at all. In fact, I'm rather glad that you are staying over." He stood up from the couch and walked towards me.
And I know what was going to happen next.
He placed his lips by my ear, so close I could feel his warm breath tickling my skin. "Wait for me in the bedroom. I'll take a quick shower and I'll be there soon."
I pursed my lips together, and nodded twice.
He let out something like a light chuckle… in a manner I found strangely similar to Aomine-kun, and went off to the bathroom with his change of clothes.
I let out a deep sigh as I head to his room and sat myself down on the bed. The bedsprings creaked slightly under my weight. I lay down on my side, hair still damp and my legs dangling off the side of the bed.
I closed my eyes, enjoying the feeling of the smooth cotton sheets on my cheek. The air-conditioning had been turned on much earlier, so the entire room was cool and cosy. Also, the sheets had Kagami-kun's scent in them… it was making me feel relaxed and at ease.
Just like how I would feel around Kagami-kun himself.
But it was making me too relaxed; it was silent for what seemed like a few minutes until I heard the faint sound of someone calling my name.
"Tetsuya," Came the calming voice, as it floated past my ears.
I know this voice; it's one which I adore so much. But who exactly, my brain seems to be unable to work out. The way it pronounces my name, speaking out each syllable clearly… it's just so comforting.
And there was also a large hand running through my hair. It's large compared to mine, and very, very warm. Just like that little feeling that was welling up in my chest now.
Now, I felt something soft pressing against my lips, accompanied by a soft murmur.
"… lo… …u."
It's that voice again.
It was saying something, but I didn't catch it.
Those words… they must be important. I don't really know why, but I can tell they are. If only I could muster the strength to open my eyes… I might be able to find out.
You have to…
I felt like I was underwater, slowly rising from the bottom to the surface. My consciousness was slowly coming back to me, but before it fully did, I heard what seemed like a gasp, and when I was almost fully conscious I opened my eyes slowly. I blinked them a few times to get them to focus, and caught a glimpse of red in the corner of my eye. Without even seeing or knowing who the person is, I whispered out a name, the first one that came to my mind.
And when my vision cleared, I found him standing next to me. His position was quite awkward, as if he was pulling himself away from… me?
"Y-You were awake?"
Did I… fall asleep?
"W-When I came in, I saw you lying there, so I just assumed…" Kagami-kun's face seemed a little red, and he didn't finish his sentence. "How long have you been awake?"
"I just woke up."
"I see… so you didn't hear that?"
"Oh, it's nothing." He sat down on the bed by my thighs. "I just… wanted to check if you were asleep, that's all. I didn't mean to wake you."
"No, it's fine. I didn't plan to fall asleep either." I sat up and moved closer to him, crossing my legs so I was sitting Indian-style. "How long was I out?"
"Not very long, if I had to guess."
"Is that so?"
I guess it was true… since Kagami-kun's usually spiky hair was still damp and tousled from the shower. It was rather… cute, if I have to say so. Well, not like it's the first time that I'm seeing it, but is was perhaps due to my exhaustion it seemed that way.
"What is it?"
"Can we… you know… do it? Tonight?"
I figured he was going to ask that soon enough. "Hmm… I wasn't exactly in the mood…"
"Oh. Never mind, then."
"Let me finish, you idiot." I sighed. "I was going to say that if you really want it, then it's fine with me."
"You really won't mind?"
"Not a single bit."
He's hesitating, as usual, and it's a little annoying. Kagami-kun is too considerate for his own good. That shy-boy naiveté that he possesses was something that is different from the impression people would have of a big man like him. Guess that is what they said about some people looking hard on the outside but soft on the inside, huh?
"If you're going to hesitate, I might change my mind."
"I-I'm not hesitating! It's just that I'm worried that I'm forcing you to do something that you wouldn't want to… even though we've done something like this before."
"Good you know."
"What is it?"
"May I hold you?"
"Yes… you may."
As you may have guessed by now, Kagami-kun and I aren't just normal friends. In fact, we are sex friends, and we have been like this for as long as I remember.
It started during our days in University… on my 20th birthday. That day, that guy… Daiki-kun had gone out and didn't return until the next day, despite promising to spend the day with me. Not only that, he came back to our shared apartment smelling… rather, reeking of a woman's perfume. And it wasn't the first time this has happened; it was merely one of the many, many times that he did something like this.
I couldn't say anything about it… I didn't have the heart to. I don't know what compelled me to, but I ran out of while he was in the shower. I didn't have anywhere in mind to go; I just didn't want to stay in that place. Being in there was nothing but suffocating then… and perhaps even now.
And by instinct, I went to the first place I could think of: Kagami-kun's home.
I could still remember the face he made when he found me crouching at his doorstep, with an expression that looked like I was about to cry. And I did, when he invited me in and asked me what had happened. That afternoon I cried myself to sleep for the first time since I was a child. I stayed at his apartment for dinner, but I had no memories of what happened that night.
It was Kagami-kun told me everything that had happened the next morning: when I found myself waking up next to him on his bed, naked.
Apparently, I had gotten drunk on my first time I drank beer. While I was under the influence of my intoxicated state, I did all sorts of things… including having sex with Kagami-kun.
As he explained what had happened between the both of us, Kagami-kun seemed regretful, pained even. For something like that to happen between two people who are close friends, especially when one of them already had a lover… it was understandable.
But I didn't blame him for what he did… because I don't. I didn't even feel sort of negativity towards both him and what we did.
Rather, I accepted it. I mean, even if I did deny it, it did happen; Kagami-kun would never lie to me. He never had any reason to.
We both decided that it was going to be a one-time thing, but…
"Kuroko… May I kiss you?"
"Of course you may."
For some reason, the times that I escaped to his place… they steadily increased, just like how Daiki-kun's activities had. I would go to Kagami-kun, broken and hurt, but he would heal me, put me together again. Soon, I was only capable of finding solace in Kagami-kun's arms.
One time became many, and somehow we ended up at where we are now. Of course, somewhere along the way, we had decided to set rules between the both of us.
The first, of course, is that we will have no regrets.
The second, is that this aspect of our relationship is purely physical. We were only going to have sex, and that is all.
The third and last rule… is that we will not develop feelings for one another. It was a rule we felt was needed, because we both know that nothing good would come out of it. We would only end up hurting each other and ourselves as well.
That was the last thing either of us wanted.
Now's not the time to think about things like this.
"I'm fine. Just continue."
"Yeah… I was just thinking about some things, that's all."
"…" Kagami-kun's lips pressed together; he looked like he had something to say.
"Is… something the matter?"
"No, not really."
There must be something, judging by that displeased look on his face. But I wasn't going to pry about that; it would probably do nothing but ruin the mood.
We brought our lips together again, and this time for a deeper, more passionate kiss. Kagami-kun leaned forward, and I soon my back was on the bed with him hovering over me.
I always wondered why… or rather, how Kagami-kun is able to become such a good kisser; even more so than Daiki-kun ever was.
For all these years I've known him… Kagami-kun I mean, he didn't go out with anyone, much less have a lover. Even he himself mentioned that I was the first (and only) person he had ever slept with. Maybe he's a natural, but who knows, really.
But I like it when Kagami-kun kisses me. He's never too forceful, and never too sloppy. He knows when and how to use his tongue, and how to deepen the kiss in a pleasant way. And most of all, he isn't forceful and lets me do whatever I want as well; I like them so much more than Daiki-kun's.
The kiss was soon broken, and Kagami-kun placed his lips next to my ear, still breathing heavily. "Let's take it slow today. I want try something different today."
I nodded my approval, and soon I felt something wet started to run along my earlobe…most likely his tongue. It moved from there down the side of my face, down my neck and to my collarbone.
He can't be thinking of…!
A sharp burst of pain erupted as he sunk his teeth into my skin, hard enough to leave a bruise. I let out a small cry, which showed surprise more than anything else.
It was a familiar yet foreign sensation; Daiki-kun used to do it all the time, but this was the first time for Taiga-kun. He never tried to anything like this before… and there was a good reason why. If he did, Daiki-kun might have found out about what we were doing.
Kagami-kun was now sucking on the bite mark tenderly, occasionally swirling his tongue over the bruise. It has been a while since I've gotten something like this, but unlike what I had known before this could be considered as pleasant, even though it still hurt a little.
And when I thought I was starting to get used to the stinging of the several bites he was placing over my neck and collar bone, a shiver ran down my spine when I felt his hands slip under my T-shirt. He pressed them against the sides of my waist and moved them up slowly, carefully caressing every inch of my skin. They stopped at my chest, where they were brought to the front. His fingers— I can't tell which ones, swept lightly over my nipples, and started playing with them.
"Feeling good?" He whispered huskily, his warm breath tickling the skin where he had bitten.
"Um hmm," I hummed my reply.
Everyone I know always say that Kagami-kun and Daiki-kun are similar. However, I know that they are more different than not.
Daiki-kun is always rough, forceful, wild. With him there is no such thing as being gentle, or taking it slow. It was always rushed, fast-paced; it was always about him and only about him. I could only let him do what I pleased, though I cannot deny that I got to feel good too in the end.
Kagami-kun is not like that. He knows how to keep a balance between being rough and gentle, sometimes more than the other but is never too much of either. He accommodates to me, and never thinks of himself first. He prefers to take things at a certain pace that suits us both, which is something I greatly appreciate.
If only… I had met Kagami-kun before Daiki-kun…
What am I thinking?
Kagami-kun is my friend. And we already agreed that we won't… for each other…
No; it must be a mistake. I must have interpreted it in a wrong way. We are only friends, doing things like this for our own benefits. Nothing more. Nothing in between. Nothing else. It was just as simple as that.
Besides… the person that I love… is Daiki-kun. After all, we've been together for so long… he's the first only person I would and could love.
But is that what you believe, really?
To be honest, I don't know.
I love him.
That's what I thought, I suppose. Or at least, that's what I had made myself believe all these years.
But what does it mean to be in love? I have long forgotten.
Is it the fluttery feeling made cliché in shoujo manga? Or is it the burning passion that comes with overflowing pleasure? Or the tightening of the chest and the breathlessness that one experiences at the sight of their beloved? Perhaps it is all of them combined; perhaps it is none of them at all.
I… don't know.
At least, not anymore.
I only have recollections I have about love… about being in love was of our early days in of Middle School; when we were still young and innocent.
I could still remember the time that we had spent together, back during the days when we did almost everything together. Studying in the library, eating lunch on the rooftop, stopping by a convenience store for ice cream on our way home, playing our favourite sport… those where the days that we thought would last forever. Along the way, however, I realized that I had fallen for him… I had come to love him not as a friend, but as another man.
I didn't plan to confess to him; maybe it was because I was afraid of destroying our relationship. However, I was able to muster the courage to do so, during the month of June of our second year of Middle School. He was surprised by my confession, but he accepted it. Back then it felt like it was the best thing that could ever happen in my life. But I was wrong. There was nothing good about it; it only served as a signal for everything to start crumbling down; slowly, but surely.
Before I realized it, it was already too late.
No matter how hard I try to hold it together, or to repair it… nothing seems to be working.
And maybe… after some time, I guess I got tired.
Of trying and trying and trying and yet achieving nothing at all.
The terrible, anguished feelings of not being able to accomplish anything despite putting so much effort into it… I hate that the most.
"O-Oi, Kuroko, are you okay? Did that hurt?"
It took me a while to realize what Kagami-kun was referring to, but when I felt something warm… a tear, trickle down my cheek…
"S-Sorry! I'll take them out now!"
That was when I also became aware of what Kagami-kun was doing. While I had been lost in thought, we had shed all our clothes. Now he already had three fingers in me, and his other hand around the base of my hardened shaft.
"N-No, it's fine. It doesn't hurt."
Kagami-kun looks so worried… but why does it always make me happy, relieved even, to know that he cares so much about me?
Don't tell me… I really…
"I'm… fine, I guess. I just thought of something and got carried away with it. You can continue with what you're doing; it really doesn't hurt."
I expected some sort of reply from him, but I received none. In fact, he barely reacted to that, except for the lowering of his head.
"Don't tell me you're thinking of Aomine again."
He… could tell?
Don't tell me it can be seen from the expression of my face?
"Kagami-kun… I…" It was difficult to face him now, let alone look at him in the eye.
I tried to turn my head away, but he caught my chin to prevent me from doing so. Holding it between his thumb and forefinger, he forced our eyes to remain in contact, and in his I could see something strange stirring up.
"Don't avoid my question like you used to, Kuroko. I want to hear your answer. Were you thinking of Aomine, while we were doing this? Again?" The hand that was wrapped around me tightened roughly, to the extent that I could not hold back my cry of pain. "Tell me, Kuroko Tetsuya. Were you or were you not?"
I recognize this tone.
It's the one Kagami-kun uses when he's interrogating a criminal who refuses to cooperate with him. Fierce, stern and in every sense dangerous, it never fails to send shivers of fear down the spine of those subjected to it.
It even works on the me who is not easily frightened or threatened.
I can't bring myself to say it.
What is this feeling?
Shame? Not exactly.
Or perhaps… guilt.
But I did not need to speak out my answer for Kagami-kun to know what it was.
"You were thinking of him, weren't you?" It was a statement, not so much of a question.
His voice was softer now, but it was still harsh with emotions. At least, it didn't seem like he was angry with me. In fact… it sounded as if he was about to cry.
"Don't. I'm not all right, if that's what you're asking." He sighed, long and heavy.
He pulled his fingers out of me, and let go of my hardened shaft. He withdrew himself from me, moving to the far end of the bed to put some distance between us.
I opened my mouth to ask, but I don't know what I should say. But there wasn't a need for me to do so, not when Kagami-kun already beat me to it.
"Kuroko, let's… let's just stop."
"Yeah… Let's not do this anymore." He looked right into my eyes for a moment before turning them away again. "If you want a reason… I guess it's because I can't bring myself to do this anymore."
"I… don't understand. Is this my fault?"
"No, it's not! You are not to blame; no one is. It's just that… if you still think of Aomine every time we do this, I don't know if I still can continue with this. If I can't fill your head with only thoughts of me, I'll feel like my heart's being torn out while it's still beating. When I hold you in my arms, every single time I thrust deep into you… do you know what that does to me?"
"I don't know what you are saying."
"I'm trying to say that I don't see you as a friend anymore."
"Are you saying that you despise me now? Or that you have felt this way from the start? Do you hate me so much that you can't stand having me around you, or me being in your vicinity, or even breathing the same—!"
My sentence was cut off with a loud, sharp slap. My fingers instantly moved to touch the tender, reddened skin of my left cheek. My breath was caught in my throat, and tears started to well up in my eyes again; this time for a different reason.
He… hit me?
Kagami-kun… he actually…
My tears started to overflow, and flowed down my cheeks as I let out a choked sob, which was followed by more. I was going to hold it in but…
Suddenly, a pair of large arms wrapped around me and pulled me into a warm embrace.
"Don't speak. If you want to cry, go ahead. You can let it all out."
And with that reassurance I did.
Years of things, feelings… everything that had been held in was finally able to come out. As I poured my heart out for the first time I could remember, I could feel Kagami-kun patting my back.
"Feeling better?" He asked moments later, after I had calmed down.
I nodded my response without looking up at him.
"Sheesh, stop jumping to conclusions without asking for an explanation." Kagami-kun let out his usual, mildly-annoyed sigh as he stroked my head gently. "I never said I hated you or anything like that. Like I could do that in the first place, even."
"But you said that you don't think of me as a friend… anymore…"
"There are many meanings to that."
"So which one is it? What were you trying to imply when you said that you don't see it as a friend anymore."
"I don't… know how to tell you this. But I guess I could say that I broke our promise."
"Yes… I wasn't planning on telling you this at all, but… I love you, Kuroko."
"…" For some reason, his confession was a lot less of a shock to me than it should have been. "Since when?"
"For a really, really long time. Since our days in high school, perhaps."
"That long ago…?"
"Yeah. I always wanted to tell you sooner, but I couldn't find a way or a chance to do it. Especially when you already have Aomine…" As his voice trailed off, his arms tightened around me, just by a bit.
I pressed my lips together, not saying anything.
Truth to be told, I wasn't completely obvious of Kagami-kun's affections. I had realized them quite early, maybe even before he himself had realized them. But back then, I made sure that he was aware that I was going out with Daiki-kun, which was probably why he was always so careful… cautious, rather, when he's around me.
But that was so long ago.
Things are different now.
Daiki-kun's missing. But our relationship for the past few years was definitely nothing close to good. Things between us had become so strained that it was beyond repair. Even if we manage to find him… will things remain the same? Or will it change? But for the better or a worse?
I don't know.
And I'm afraid to find out.
But… is there a need for me to keep a relationship that cannot be salvaged?
I know I can no longer run away from the truth, or remain in denial.
It's painful, but I have to face the truth.
I know that I have the same feelings for Kagami-kun that he does for me, and it's similar, yet different from what I had for Dai… Aomine-kun.
So… now's the time.
To finally make the next move.
Stay with Aomine Daiki, or accept Kagami Taiga.
The choice is yours to make.
But once that decision is made, you cannot return.
Even if it brings you pain. Even if you drown in regret. Even if it kills you. Even if it means not being able to see the other person again.
My choice is…
"… K-Kuroko?" Kagami-kun let out a surprised sound as I wrapped my own arms around him.
"Kagami-kun, you made a mistake. I had Aomine-kun. But now I don't. And I won't. Never again."
"Does that mean…"
"I have given up on Aomine-kun. I don't love him, not anymore." I looked up at him, into his crimson-red eyes. "I have you now. If I have to be honest… I probably love you too. Not for as long as you have, but perhaps for a while now."
"It's just that I didn't really notice… or paid any heed to it, until now." I admitted sheepishly.
"A-Are you sure you're okay with me? I mean, what if we manage to find Aomine…"
"Nothing will change even if that happens. My mind is already made up." I took a deep breath before I continued. "I was thinking… that it's about time I stop hurting myself. I have let myself fall into delusion for too long, and finally I realize that what everyone… especially you, Kagami-kun, had been telling me about Aomine-kun. It's a bit too late, though; I should have realized it a lot earlier."
"Better late than never."
"So… it's about time I moved on. No use staying in a relationship that brings nothing but pain, right?"
"But… you'll still miss Aomine, right? I mean, you guys have been together for so long, after all…"
"…" Well, that is something that I cannot deny… "Then make me forget."
"Make me forget about him, and all the pain, the hurt, the tears… Replace them with your love for me, with happiness… with you."
I leaned upwards, and he understood.
Our lips locked, in a sweet, tender kiss. Our first, proper kiss, unlike those we had always had.
Our first kiss as a couple.
We broke the kiss a while later, panting for air.
"Shall we continue from we left off?" Kagami-kun asked, with his teasing grin plastered onto his face. "Not as sex friends, but as lovers."
I smiled, for the first time in years as I nodded my reply.
"I love you, Kuroko…"
"I love you too, Kagami-kun…"
The sky was still dark when I awoke from my sleep.
I turned to my right, and let out a small sigh of relief when I found Kagami-kun sleeping next to me. In the past, it was always him who got out of bed first; it makes me a little proud of myself that this was the first time I managed to wake up before him.
His sleeping face… it's been a while since I got to see it. I was always fond of it, because Kagami-kun always looks like an angel when he sleeps. But if I told him that he looks cute, he'd probably get flustered and say that he'd never do it in front of me again.
Ahh, the list of things that make Kagami-kun so adorable never seems to end.
I took a glance towards the bed-side table. It was almost 6.30 in the morning. Kagami-kun always wakes up at 7, so maybe I could take a quick shower and start making breakfast.
And besides, it's a rare off-day for the both of us… I should let him rest.
I shifted my body, despite the throbbing ache in my lower half, to get off the bed. But before I could get too far, I felt something grab my wrist.
For a moment, I thought that he had woken up, but it looks like he was just moving and talking in his sleep.
I gently eased his loose grip off my wrist, and quietly grabbed a set of clean clothes before slipping out of the room.
A little while later, and I finally could enjoy the feeling of the warm spray of the shower against my sticky body. It was refreshing, and really comfortable; a great way to start the morning.
Today's the start of a new day, and a new period of time in my life.
Everything's going to be different from today onwards.
The thought of it makes me excited, but…
Even though I have decided to give up on him, to stop loving him, to forget about Aomine-kun… it still hurts.
The thought of not being able to see him again… not being able to be by his side… it makes my heart wrench.
I may have Kagami-kun now by my side, but still… perhaps that this is the proof that I had truly loved him, maybe until now. Despite convincing myself that I decided and will be able to completely let him go, there's still a little lingering feeling in my heart.
If only… I could just see him.
Just one, last time.
So I can say goodbye…
And be finally able to move on.