Fandom: Kuroko no Basket (The Basketball Which Kuroko Plays)
Characters: Kuroko Tetsuya, Aomine Daiki
Pairing: Aomine/Kuroko; Aomine/Kagami/Kuroko
Disclaimer: Fujimaki owns. I only play. You do not sue.
Length: 4000 words
Summary: In which Kuroko Tetsuya has a lot of perfectly rational thoughts but lets superstition rule the night anyway.
Beta: None. u_u
Note: This story is about a polyamorous (triad) relationship and takes place in the setting established by Softer than Before (All the Second Chances). It could maybe work as standalone, but probably not. Pairings are in order of appearance and the name order is alphabetical.
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
When Daiki came out of the shower, Tetsuya didn't glance up, not wanting to encourage him. Daiki was stubbornly refusing to discuss what had happened with Taiga, never mind what they were going to do next, so Tetsuya wasn't about to make it easy on him.
Tetsuya prepared to look his fill while Daiki went to the dresser. Four uneven groove marks on the left side of Daiki's upper back trailed up to his shoulder and vanished there. Three similar marks decorated the right side. Emptiness settled into Tetsuya's stomach like a hungry ghost.
"Dai-kun," he said quietly, unable to tear his eyes from the sight, unable to tear his mind from what it meant. Dark scarlet across flawless brown, not deep enough for blood but hard enough to linger. Strong and fierce but not cruel: an insistent lover's fingers.
"What?" Daiki asked, looking over his shoulder.
"Where were you last night?" Tetsuya's dry mouth formed the syllables, his vocal cords pushed them out, but his mind was drawing pictures to go with the marks on Daiki's back. Had it been the solicitous fellow from Daiki's civil defense class -- the one who would often approach Daiki over lunch with Tetsuya and Taiga, always with a pretext?
Daiki turned back to the dresser. "Why do you suddenly want to know? Am I worth your attention again?"
Had it been the strikingly beautiful, full-breasted teaching assistant who kept calling Daiki to "make sure he was keeping on top of his course work"?
"I'd say so," Tetsuya managed. The ghost gnawed at his insides, working its way up to his chest, hollowing it out, a macabre disembodied miner with a rusty pickaxe. Jealousy and Tetsuya were no strangers, but it had never hurt this much. "I didn't realise you had found someone new already."
Had it been the Danish girl with short-cropped blond hair and the ass that wouldn't quit?
Daiki whirled to him, staring. "How-- what do you mean?"
"Your back, Dai-- no, Aomine-kun; I guess I'll have to get used to calling you that again."
Daiki's eyes widened, and for once Tetsuya couldn't tell if his surprise was genuine or not. The pictures in his head lay over his clouded judgement like a spray of white-framed Polaroid shots over a noir crime scene: pool of blood, chalk marks around the body. Daiki slapped a hand over his left shoulder, eyes darkening.
"That was nothing, Tetsu. Please don't make that face."
"Nothing," Tetsuya echoed. He wondered what kind of face he was making. Anger dragged icy claws across his numb throat.
"Nothing," Daiki affirmed. "I swear to you. I didn't think you would care. I thought you were done with me."
Tetsuya drew the covers tighter around himself. He couldn't make the pictures go away, couldn't have this conversation with a clear head. He kept seeing someone else's hands on Daiki's back, someone else's pleasure digging fingernails deep into Daiki's skin, strong but not cruel. Done? Daiki thought they were done?
"You chased Tai-kun away," Tetsuya said dully. "You got angry because you suspected he was sleeping with Himuro-kun, and now you went to bed with someone else and you think you can make excuses?"
"I'm not making excuses," Daiki said, sitting down on the edge of the bed. "I really didn't think you would care. I thought you didn't want anything to do with me."
"Not any more I don't," someone else said in Tetsuya's voice. He wanted to take it back, to interrupt the furious stranger in his head, but Daiki's eyes had already lost their shine and his mouth turned down in a grimace.
"Okay," he said, rising. "I'll, uh-- I'll go take the dog out."
Tetsuya tried to distract himself with his summer readings, but the words of strangers would not fit in his consciousness; they drifted like flakes of burnt paper in the wake of a cyclone. Fighting video games were all that took his mind away. Tetsuya had never been very good at them -- he preferred RPGs -- but he improved quickly.
The next day, Daiki left the apartment early and came back late, creeping into bed while Tetsuya lay awake in his futon, his back to the bed, staring at the wall.
The previous year had been like every daydream he'd ever had. Daiki, whom Tetsuya never forgot, and Taiga, who had Tetsuya at five words and a fist bump. The first time Daiki and Taiga had kissed -- Taiga's hands in Daiki's, his back against that very wall -- was branded deeper into Tetsuya's memory than either one of his first kisses with each of them. Tetsuya had spent every day since then feeling floaty, like a pebble hurtling through space. Even when they argued.
He had feared jealousy but it never surfaced: he wanted them together as much as he wanted each of them separately. But he couldn't stand to think of either of them with someone else.
The daydream had turned into a bad fever-dream -- Taiga gone, Daiki as good as. Was it Tetsuya's fault? He hadn't fought hard enough to make Taiga stay, and now he'd broken up with Daiki without really wanting to.
The painful surprise of not seeing Taiga's face every morning had dulled over time, but Tetsuya still looked for him everywhere; he started to speak to him before realising Taiga wasn't there; he made mental notes to ask Taiga about this or that; he walked home from practice thinking about what to request for dinner.
That was bad enough. Having Daiki right there with him was worse. It would be so easy just to crawl out of the futon, take five steps across the room and climb in beside Daiki, hide his face from the world and let Daiki's warmth soothe him to sleep. But if he did that, wouldn't Daiki simply think Tetsuya was now fine with what happened?
He had never liked the way physical relationships revolved around ownership. Romantic heroes always said things like I want you to look only at me and I want to be with you for the rest of my life. Everyone thought that was so wonderful, but nearly one in three Japanese marriages ended in divorce, giving the lie to forevers and onlys.
Besides, if one viewed a partner as an object to possess or control, one would soon get tired of the person the same way one might tire of a video game. Tetsuya had never wanted to be in a relationship like that, but what was his anger at Daiki if not the seething resentment of a dog owner seeing his beloved pet lick someone else's face? Had he fallen into the trap of assuming ownership, only instead of just one person he wished to possess two?
Tetsuya's fighter was shaking his massive fists in victory when Daiki sat down next to him. "Can we talk?"
Tetsuya nodded and put the controller down. Relief didn't come close to describing how he felt. He had all but accepted that Daiki was going to pack his things up and go back to his parents' place, leaving Tetsuya alone.
He liked being alone, but being left alone wasn't the same thing as choosing to be alone.
"Are we really finished, Tetsu?" Daiki asked.
"Why are you asking me that?" Tetsuya returned. "You like deciding things for yourself, so just decide that too."
Daiki glowered. "Don't give me that shit. You said yourself you didn't want anything to do with me. Did you mean it?"
"No. I don't know," Tetsuya admitted. "Without Taiga, I-- I don't know."
"What if Taiga comes back?"
"Won't change what you did," Tetsuya said. "If you thought we were so done, why were you trying to make me jealous, showing off your scratched-up back?"
"I wasn't!" Daiki protested. "I felt the scratches in the shower but I completely forgot about them after a while. Mayumi's a good woman but I don't want to be with her."
"So what are you going to tell her if she wants to see you again?"
"I'll just tell her I'm not interested. She's not in love with me or anything, if that's what you mean."
"Did she tell you that?"
"She just likes tall guys, Tetsu. We had fun a few times before, so she called me up. It was no big deal."
"I'm sorry, but could you please stop saying it was no big deal? You keep saying that, and you keep saying Mayumi-san doesn't care, but you were wrong about me not caring. What makes you so sure you're not wrong about how she feels?"
Daiki fell back against the sofa and pressed his hands to his face. "I'm the bad guy here. I know that, Tetsu. How do I fix it?"
"Not everything is fixable," Tetsuya said. "Sometimes you've just got to let time pass."
Time did pass: days became weeks. Tetsuya and Daiki interacted little and spoke even less. Tetsuya had nothing more to say, and Daiki seemed in no hurry to apologise. Tetsuya worked at the daycare facility three days a week; the rest of his time went to video games. He had fallen behind on his readings but it wasn't bothering him. He could catch up later, and if he didn't, so what? The more time passed, the less everything mattered.
Daiki went home the night before his twentieth birthday and stayed away for three days. Tetsuya sent a mail to congratulate him and got a terse
thanksin return. He stayed up half that night re-reading the mails from Taiga that he never answered and the drafts he never sent.
It seemed so stupid to Tetsuya now: why had he done those things? Taiga wasn't psychic; how was he supposed to know what Tetsuya was thinking?
Sorry I haven't returned your mails. Can you please call me? Any time is fine.
Tetsuya stared at the message for a few moments before erasing it. What would mailing Taiga after all this time accomplish? He felt lonely because Daiki was gone. Trying to contact Taiga now meant he would have to explain himself, but he couldn't. How would he even apologise?
Please come back.
Tetsuya imagined pressing the Send button, the message travelling thousands of kilometres to reach Taiga's phone somewhere in Los Angeles. The data seemed to him a bright, shining thread, stretching across land and ocean, a link that would vanish as soon as Taiga read the message. Tetsuya lifted the phone above his head. The screen's glow was a little blob of sunlight that had wandered in confusion into the dark, empty bedroom.
It was probably sunny in Los Angeles right now. Tetsuya pictured Taiga on an outdoor basketball court full of faceless strangers, sweating, focussed, heedless of his phone. He would discover the message later, while stopping off to refuel at some American burger place.
Tetsuya couldn't think beyond that. He had no idea how Taiga would react. Would he reply? Call? Get on the next plane? Ignore it the way Tetsuya had ignored his mails? What if Taiga had already decided he didn't want to be with them? Tetsuya's insides roiled. First Taiga thought Daiki wanted him out of the picture, and then Tetsuya ignored his attempts at contact: what would any normal person think but that he was unwanted?
It had not occurred to Tetsuya that he might not see Taiga again. Taiga on the sofa, brow furrowed over a textbook. The way his expression would always soften when he opened his eyes in the morning and saw Tetsuya looking at him. Taiga on the court, chasing the ball into the paint for a layup that was part skill, part magic. Taiga's mouth pressed against Tetsuya's. His ability to fall asleep anywhere. The sadness in his voice as he walked out.
Tetsuya erased the mail and closed his phone. He couldn't bear to think any more. That night he dreamt he was a paper plane that hovered along a shiny data-link between two red dots on a map of the world. In the morning, he spent two weeks' worth of pay on the entire Planet X Fighting Tournament series.
On the day Daiki returned from Tokyo, the assistant coach called everyone summering in town for off-schedule practices in preparation for the pre-season. That was nice -- basketball was just as good a distraction as video games. Kise showed up at one of these near the start of September. Tetsuya would have enjoyed spending time with him under different circumstances, but as it was, he couldn't wait for an excuse to leave.
After parting from Kise and Daiki outside the udon restaurant and taking Nigou for a quick walk, Tetsuya had just picked up the controller when Daiki came home.
Tetsuya hadn't expected him back so soon. He had seen the looks Daiki kept giving Kise. He remembered their history. As he'd slurped his noodles, Tetsuya had felt like a man who came too late to see a ship off to sea: by the time he arrived at the pier, winded, the ship was only a far-off silhouette. Too late. He had understood that Daiki must have given up.
Tetsuya had thought Daiki would go home with Kise.
Daiki sat down next to him and proffered his phone. "Here."
Tetsuya looked at it. "What would you like me to do with this?"
"Go through the address book and delete everyone you don't want in it. Anyone you don't want me to talk to."
Tetsuya shook his head. "I'm not your parent, Aomine-kun. If there are people you don't wish to see again, you can deal with that yourself. What makes you think I want such control over your associations?"
"I just don't know how else to prove that you -- and Taiga -- are more important to me than anyone else."
"Do you think letting us decide who you talk to is going to accomplish that?"
"Well, what do you want me to do?" Daiki exploded.
"You could try to apologise."
"What good would that do? Apologising is stupid; people say I'm sorry all the time and then go and do the same things again. Apologising is just a way to let yourself off the hook quickly."
"I don't disagree that many people don't really mean it when they apologise, but that doesn't mean sincere apologies are impossible. Don't you feel bad for what you did?"
"Of course I do! I would never have done it if I'd known it would upset you even a little bit. I thought you were done with me for good, so I didn't think it would matter to you."
"Just what do you think we are to each other?" Tetsuya asked, frowning. "If I was going to break up with you, I would do it properly."
"You mean as properly as you did at Teikou?"
Tetsuya looked away. "I was fifteen, Aomine-kun."
"I wish you wouldn't call me that. That really makes it seem like it's all over."
"Who said it wasn't?"
"Now you're just being cruel."
"That's not true. I'm being honest. I don't want us to break up but I can't look at you without remembering what you did."
Tetsuya patted Daiki's leg. "That's a start. I decided I'm going to bring Tai-kun back if I can."
"How are you going to do that?"
"I went to the landlord and found out his address. I'll go to America."
"Where will you find the money?"
"I had a little emergency cash saved up."
"Why don't you just call him?"
"I need to see him."
"So you're leaving me behind."
"Not if you come with me."
"He doesn't ever want to see my face again, remember?"
"Sometimes people say things they don't mean when they're really upset."
"There are things you shouldn't say even if you're really upset."
"You have no right to be all high and mighty. When you slept with Mayumi-san, you betrayed Tai-kun too."
"You think I don't know that?"
"Then why are you so angry?"
"Wouldn't you be? You're willing to cross the ocean for Taiga but you can't even forgive me once."
"Do I really need to remind you that you're the reason Tai-kun's across the ocean in the first place?"
"Yeah, yeah, everything's my fucking fault, as usual."
"If the shoe fits."
"Then why are you even bothering with me? Just tell me clearly that we're finished; I'll get my shit packed and move home. Then you and Taiga can come back here and have yourselves a perfect little relationship without any fucking complications."
So that was what Daiki really worried about. Tetsuya had suspected as much. "If you're so desperate for us to be finished, why don't you go ahead and end it? Why am I supposed to do it for you?"
"Because that's not what I want! I want you back. I want Taiga back. But you keep acting like I'm a nuisance, and Taiga thinks I consider him a nuisance."
"You're not a nuisance. I asked you to come with me to America and you changed the subject."
Daiki glowered at him and turned away. Tetsuya put his hand back on Daiki's thigh. "Don't be so stubborn. I want to see you and Tai-kun making love again."
"What about you and me?"
"We're not a couple, Aomine-kun. There are three people in this relationship."
"Just me and Taiga isn't three."
"It is if I'm watching."
Daiki gave him a look that tried to be nonchalant, but the fire in his eyes was anything but. Whenever he looked like that, Tetsuya just wanted to climb him like a tree, and Daiki knew it. His warm, heavy hand covered Tetsuya's hand atop his thigh, squeezed Tetsuya's fingers. Daiki wouldn't move first, not in these circumstances, but he lingered on the edge of movement, barely restrained. All of Tetsuya's longings, bottled up for days and days, now tried to burst through, destroy his calm, present him to Daiki like a living offering.
He released a tremulous breath and shook his head. A few times before, they had resolved their differences in bed -- and on the sofa, and on the floor, and in the shower; only the kitchen was off-limits -- but Taiga had been there too. Without Taiga, it would have no meaning.
"I'm going to get a glass of water," Tetsuya announced, freeing his hand and rising. He needed to put some distance between them. "Do you have work tonight?"
"Yeah," Daiki said. "I gotta leave in a bit; I promised one of the brats I'd give him some extra shooting practice."
When Daiki got back from work that night, Tetsuya was already in his futon, having spent the afternoon catching up on his readings. Making the decision to go after Taiga had unburdened his mind so much that the compulsion to lose himself in pixel wars vanished.
"I thought you would come back to bed," Daiki said on his way out of the shower. His pyjama bottoms were slack around his hips, exposing the thick upper band of his boxers. Tetsuya wanted to peel them off with his teeth.
"Good night, Aomine-kun," he said, pulling the covers up over his face so only his eyes were exposed.
Daiki sighed. "I won't try anything," he said. "I get that you don't want to."
Tetsuya stared at him without a word until Daiki sighed again, heavier this time, and went to bed. Tetsuya listened to him rustle about until he got comfortable and wished they hadn't banned Nigou from the bedroom. Another living being's warmth would have been a great comfort right then.
But if he moved the futon to the living room so Nigou could sleep on top of his covers like he used to before they got the bed, Daiki would take it personally.
Besides, it wasn't just the warmth of another body he wanted. He wanted to fall asleep with Daiki and Taiga next to him; Daiki sprawled out on his stomach, his fingers curled around Tetsuya's hand, and Taiga pressed snugly against Tetsuya's back.
Tetsuya had been a light sleeper all his life until they started sharing the bed. With them, he was out like a featherweight loser; even the alarm clock didn't wake him.
He missed that so much his throat ached.
Then Tetsuya thought of another thing he did all his life: testing fate.
If the light at a crosswalk started flashing before he made it across, his wish wouldn't come true. If he cleared the road while the light was still green, his wish would come true.
If he could count ten out-of-town license plates on his walk home from school, his wish would come true. If he couldn't, it wouldn't.
If Tetsuya could observe it, it was fair for this little game. It didn't work sometimes, but Tetsuya assumed it was because the wish had been too lofty. It was silly to wish for the sun to rise on the wrong side of the world.
No one would ever believe that Kuroko Tetsuya was one for silly superstitions, but he had always thought there was more to life than cause, effect, and coincidence. It wasn't that he believed in things like the paranormal. He just didn't rule them out.
I'll join him in bed. If he tries anything sexual, we'll never be together like we used to be. If he doesn't, then we'll fix this somehow.
It wasn't really a fair condition. Sex came as naturally to Daiki as breathing did to most people. Nine times out of ten, Daiki would forgo sleep for sex no matter how tired he was or how early he had to wake up. He would postpone meals and risk being late to classes or to work if sex was in the offing. If Tetsuya climbed into that bed, chances were high they would be fucking within three minutes.
But Daiki had just said he wouldn't do anything: he knew how Tetsuya felt about doing it with Taiga gone. That understanding should temper his urges, changing the odds in a way that the outcome became uncertain, which was enough for Tetsuya.
He left the futon and padded to the bed. He lifted the covers and rolled close to Daiki, tugging the second pillow out from under Daiki's elbow. Daiki stirred, and his eyes opened a little.
"Tetsu," he breathed, reaching out, and Tetsuya let him.
Daiki pulled him so close, Tetsuya could barely breathe. He had wanted this for so long that finally experiencing it gave him a few blessed seconds of forgetting about everything that had gone wrong. Head tucked under Daiki's chin, Tetsuya waited for Daiki's arms to slacken and hands begin to wander, but Daiki just held him very close, chest rising as he breathed, his heart beating steady and sure against Tetsuya's cheek.
Tetsuya wanted him so badly that he regretted the condition he'd set. He wanted Daiki's hands to start wandering, to strip off Tetsuya's night clothes and his own. He wanted Daiki's mouth, the sweet wet warmth of Daiki's tongue on his. He wanted them to make a mess of the bedding, and then do it again and again until neither of them could move.
But there was an empty space in this bed that needed filling before those things could happen. Tetsuya ignored his aching lower belly and focussed on Daiki's breaths -- deep: too deep to be anything but valiant attempts at self-restraint. Daiki was keeping his word. Tetsuya counted as Daiki's chest rose and fell.
"You're still angry," Daiki mumbled into Tetsuya's hair.
"Perceptive," Tetsuya replied.
"Change your mind?"
"After I bring Tai-kun back."
"I'm going with you."
Three breaths. "Still mad?"
"How about now?"
"Go to sleep, Dai-kun."
What Daiki had said earlier in the day -- that Tetsuya was willing to cross an ocean for one of them while refusing to forgive the other for a one-night stand -- had bothered him more than he'd realised at the time. He had thought that his feelings for both Daiki and Taiga were the same, but Daiki had a point: why was it so difficult for Tetsuya to forgive Daiki? Was it because he just didn't want to get back together without Taiga or was it because he loved Daiki less?
Tetsuya shut his eyes and tried to imagine what he would feel like if Taiga's and Daiki's roles were reversed. What if Taiga had been the one to offend Daiki badly enough to make him leave? What if Taiga had gone and had sex with some strange man while claiming he still wanted to be with Daiki and Tetsuya?
A familiar helpless fury sent its spider-threads through Tetsuya's guts. No, it wasn't that he loved Daiki less. He simply couldn't stop blaming Daiki for losing Taiga. He couldn't forgive him because forgiving him would not bring Taiga back. And Tetsuya didn't know if Taiga would want to come back if he knew what Daiki had done. He wouldn't forgive Daiki until Taiga did.
If Daiki snores even once before I fall asleep, Taiga will forgive him. If not, then he won't.
Daiki started snoring softly.
Tetsuya slept, dreaming of paper airplanes.