A/N: For Kiri-senpai whose heart I destroyed. Oops? Also, this is my first time writing Nijimura and Akashi – the one fic where I wrote about mentally caged Akashi doesn't count. Written in two POVs. Beated by wonderful Kirinokisu.

There is no one else

Nijimura checks the door in front of him; there is no doorplate on it, only a small golden number '12'. According to the information from Momoi - this girl is terrifying; how she can keep track of every GoM member is almost scary – this is where Akashi lives.

It isn't like he came here for Akashi. Knowing he will be in Kyoto, he contacted Momoi and asked if Akashi still lived there; Shūzō remembers reading a few months ago that Akashi won a contest in Kyoto and the newspaper called him a resident of this city.

'Lies, lies, lies, everything is a lie…'

Shūzō stops himself from knocking on the door. Yes, he should stop lying to himself at least; he isn't visiting Kyoto by accident. Since he read that article, he was looking for a good opportunity to come here, to see Akashi. How many years have passed since their days in Teiko? How many years ago was Akashi looking at him in awe when he thought no-one could see it? It made him feel good, back then, but uncomfortable at the same time. He was only a kid then, afraid of his feelings, afraid of the fact that he wanted to kiss the younger boy, hide him and never let him go.

In the end he run away; he left Akashi and didn't contact him for years. He remembers getting that one text message, after graduation: "Good luck at your new school, Nijimura-san". Should he have answered that message then? When he was such an emotional mess because of his father and his own conflicted feelings? No, it was better to disappear.

'And then show up after ten years. Congratulations Shūzō, you coward.'

It's really not fair that even his conscience calls him a coward… and why in Haizaki's voice?

Gulping, he knocks on the door. He has no idea what to say; while sitting in the train to Kyoto, he thought about many scenarios. Maybe they could go out, drink something and talk? Because… it isn't… it isn't like he pinned after Akashi through all these years…

Shit, all right, he missed – misses – that red-head and hates himself for breaking contact with him, for changing his phone number, for not keeping in touch with him and…

All unnecessary thoughts disappear from Nijimura's head, leaving only one when he sees who opens the door. 'This isn't Akashi'

He needs to raise his head a little to see the stranger's face; he is much taller than Shūzō with red as lava eyes and hair. He looks confused, maybe a bit sleepy, like he just woke up. And judging by the bathrobe he is wearing that might be the truth.

"Taiga? Who is it?"

And here he is. He hasn't changed, not much: he is only a bit taller than Nijimura remembers, reaching to the stranger's shoulder. His features are more sharp, but still soft, skin pale as it has always been, low and pleasant to hear voice. He is everything and much more than Shūzō imagined he would be; the picture in the newspaper was a little blurred, Akashi was small on it and Nijimura couldn't see him properly. Now he wished he could, because this adult version of Akashi Seijūrō makes his knees go weak.

"Nijimura-san?" Akashi is looking at him right now, without any traces of that teenage awe, and Nijimura wants to laugh at himself. He was stupid… So stupid to think that they both would remember… "Taiga, why didn't you invite him in?"

"I just opened the door," Taiga yawns, moving back and looking at Nijimura with a small smile. "I didn't know someone was going to visit you, Seijūrō." He throws Akashi a glance, but he isn't angry; amused, if anything, and it somehow makes Shūzō mad.

"I was… I happened to be in Kyoto and I thought I might come and say 'Hi'." This sounded a lot better in his head. Gods, he really doesn't have any business to be here. "I'm sorry for interrupting your morning." It's almost noon now, but who is he to judge?

"That would be rude of us, to let you go like that. Come in." Taiga makes a welcoming gesture with his hand, but it is Akashi's smile that makes him accept the invitation.

He cannot regret it more.

They ask him to sit in the spacious kitchen while Kagami – as Nijimura learns – will be making them breakfast.

The flat isn't big, but is nicely decorated and you could swear that it's alive with all those small details indicating that yes, people live here: a mug on the table in the living room, a pile of clothes on the sofa (which Kagami took and carried away… to their bedroom, probably), a magazine on the table in the kitchen, books with recipes on one of the cupboards, pictures of both men hang up on the walls… Everything is also clean, but not overly so.

Nijimura wants to die.

Akashi is happy, there is no mistake in saying that. Shūzō heard how much Akashi changed in Teiko as well as in high-school; he remembers those whispers about the powerful, invincible Emperor who is never wrong and has never lost. But it's vain to look for the traces of that power in Akashi now. Not when he is smiling softly at Nijimura, answering his questions and asking his own in that gentle tone of his. Not when he seems to radiate happiness every time Kagami says something to him. Of course, it isn't very visible, but Nijimura knows where to look – he works with kids, he has learned how to read human's body language – and it's easy, so easy to see how Akashi's shoulders relaxed when Kagami brushed his hand with his own while they were going to the kitchen, how his eyes seem to brighten every time he looks at the other red-head.

This whole talk with Akashi hurts him in more ways that it is possible. Asking if the other man is single is fruitless; you don't have pictures of you and another man framed, and said man doesn't wander around your flat in only a bathrobe if you are single.

The only good thing is that Kagami left them alone after making them breakfast, saying he needs to call his crew or something. Like Shūzō couldn't care less what he is going to do as long as he leaves him with Akashi.

"It's been ten years if I'm not mistaken, right, Nijimura-senpai?" Akashi asks, looking at his former captain and taking a sip of coffee Kagami made for them. Seijūrō prefers tea and had actually hated coffee before Kagami Taiga appeared in his life. The ex-Seirin's ace taught him how to enjoy its taste and the fact that he makes wonderful coffee helped a lot. When Kagami stops being a firefighter – because this isn't a job you can do till old age – they think about opening a small coffee shop. "How have you been?"

Nijimura blinks slowly and Akashi is amazed, as he had always been, by the other man's dark color of eye-lashes and his eyes, like they seem to have their own shade of black. It's an unsettling thought that almost makes him choke on his coffee. Didn't he promise to himself not to think 'What if…?' ever again?

"I cannot complain, Akashi. And please, don't call me senpai. I'm not your senpai any more." There is steal in those dark eyes and if Seijūrō was a lesser man, he would be almost afraid of their owner. Almost. "I work as a teacher in middle school and I can swear," he takes a sip of his coffee too, and Akashi hates himself for noticing how his pupils widen when he tastes how good that coffee is. "that we weren't half as bad as today's teenagers."

"Tetsuya wouldn't agree with you. But he works with five and six years old kids. They are all nice to him."

It's scary to just sit here, in this sunny kitchen, with a person he used to admire so much. Maybe even love…? Because there isn't a better word to describe that feeling of pure happiness he felt every time he saw Nijimura back then, in Teiko, when they talked and just were together. And what else could have had so much power that it was able to leave him without breathless when he discovered that Nijimura had changed his phone number and hadn't notified him about it? What else could have made him almost cry at the realization that his senpai was gone… just like that, without a word?

"Shūzō…" he starts, but Nijimura raises his hand, his lips curving in a sad smile.

"Don't. Just… don't." The man looks down at his hands and Akashi is overwhelmed by his feelings. He shouldn't be. There is Kagami just in the room next to the kitchen, his Kagami, so why… Why does he keep thinking how it would be to share this flat with Nijimura? "Let's talk about something nice." There is a plea in these dark eyes, but Akashi ignores it.

"You were my first love."

"I know."

They are sitting in uncomfortable silence and Seijūrō thinks he shouldn't have said that. But he isn't the most soft person even if Kagami is working hard to stop him from, as the red-head often says it, 'being a complete jerk'. Akashi has a right to be angry at Nijimura, because he knows that the other man knew about his feelings, felt the same towards him, yet chose to run away. But even so… Nijimura is the only person Akashi cannot be angry at. He wants to, he really wants, but he cannot.

'I have Kagami now. Everything else doesn't matter,' he thinks, before cleaning his throat and causing Shūzō to look at him, giving in that silent plea.

"Tell me more about your work, please. It sounds interesting." No, it doesn't, but Akashi just doesn't have energy to do anything else beside listening to Nijimura's voice, beside imagining despite everything, and it makes him feel like the worst trash ever.

They don't talk for long. Nijimura can see that Akashi feels uncomfortable and he wants to laugh at his own stupidity again. He should ask Momoi more questions about Akashi, to see if he doesn't have a life where there is, simply, no space for his old love. If he is healing and Shūzō won't disturb that delicate process – because if there is something he has learned from Akashi's talk, from small hints and words, what the red-head probably didn't want to tell him is that Kagami is helping him, has helped him already.

So Nijimura shouldn't hate him so much, right? Doesn't he want Akashi to be happy?

He does, but with him, Nijimura, not Kagami. Is he a bad person for imagining sitting with Seijūrō in this kitchen every morning, eating breakfast and talking?

"I should go now."

He stands up and Akashi does the same, not trying to stop him, but pointing out like a good host should:

"But you didn't eat anything, Shūzō. You didn't like it? Kagami…"

"Akashi, please."

Surprisingly, Akashi quiets in a second.

They just stand there, the awkward atmosphere back, and this is how Kagami finds them.

"Oh… You are going already?" He looks from Nijimura to his lover – God, how much Shūzō hates this thought, but it's true, isn't it? "I'll take you to the door." His words are polite, but voice close to growling.

Nijimura nods, throwing a last glance at Akashi, who nods a little and takes their plates with a small 'Thank you, Taiga'.

He goes after Kagami in silence, feeling that the red-head wants to say something and as soon as Nijimura opens the front door, he hears "He is mine."

"Pardon?" He stops and turns to look at the other man.

Kagami is looking down at him, radiating danger, and Nijimura is almost afraid of the sheer power hidden in the muscular body in front of him.

"Akashi, he is mine. He is happy with me and I love him." There are no traces of embarrassment in that low, husky voice. Kagami throws a glance towards the kitchen, before adding: "So don't even think about trying to steal him from me. He loves me too."

Nijimura wants to ask why Kagami is so sure about it, but he isn't stupid - after witnessing how Akashi looked and behaved in Taiga's company, with how much fondness he was speaking about his partner, there is no need to ask.

So Shūzō only smiles. A bittersweet smile like he just drank unsweetened tea.

"I wouldn't dream about it. Just… make him happy."

There is a glint of pleasant surprise in these dangerously narrowed red eyes, and their owner smiles too, a much sweeter, but slightly sad smile.

"I try to."

There is nothing else to say. Nijimura leaves Akashi's house never looking back, just like he left Teiko after graduation – never looking back, never stopping to let Akashi catch him. Never reaching for that… that thing blossoming between them that could have turned into something beautiful.

Going back to Tokyo he thinks only that the Fate is a cruel lady, making him pay for mistakes he made as a kid.

But after his father's death, hasn't he learned that the world is a cruel place?

It hurts to see Nijimura go away just like that, to leave him after only a few minutes of talk. Akashi prides himself on being a person who doesn't think much about the past, but right now looking back is painful and something cold squeezes his chest.

"You loved him, right?" Kagami stands behind him and takes him into his arms, propping his chin on Akashi's head. He sounds sad and Akashi almost hates himself for this, for making his partner upset. Kagami is the best thing that has happened to him. Him and Kuroko… No, he doesn't want to know what would have happened, if he hadn't meet them, if they hadn't taken him away from that path to madness. "Seijūrō?"

"Yes," he whispers, because Akashi Seijūrō never lies, even if the truth may hurt someone. Kagami's arms tighten around him and Akashi sighs, touching the big palm laying on his chest with his own. The gold rings on their fingers shine in morning's light. "He had his chance and now I have you, Taiga." He looks up and Kagami quickly masks his worried expression, but Akashi saw it and the cold feeling in his chest is back, ten thousand times bigger and more painful. "He surprised me with his visit, that's all. And in the end… Didn't I choose you?"

Kagami laughs then, his chest vibrating, and Akashi wants to close his eyes and listen to this pleasant sound forever. Only Kagami can make him so happy. And in this case, there is no point of thinking about the past.

He lets Kagami hug him again and listens to his sweet words with a content smile on his face. Yes, this – both of them, together, embracing each other just like that – is perfect. And if Nijimura ever visit him again, if they ever meet again, they can talk and laugh and smile and Akashi won't feel any remorse, he won't think 'What if…?' ever again, because he is too happy with his Tiger to ever think about something like that again.


A/N: I wonder how many people, after reading this, would guess I hate Akashi with burning passion of thousand suns? I'm planning to write prequel-sequel to this; how it happened that Kagami and Akashi ended together after Winter Cup. Good idea?

One more thing... To the Anon(!) who asked if I don't have too much of free time to write fics about characters I don't like... I'm not exactly sure what is your problem. It was my free time, not yours. Would you feel better if I behaved like a 11 years old girl and wrote a fic where I bash Akashi?

Sorry for being a bit more mature than that.