I had written this tiny, tiny sequel on Tumblr a few weeks back, at the request of an anon. I was reluctant at first, because I pretty much finished up with this story and locked it up to the 'unwanted' part of my mind (I am forever grateful to the reviews I still receive on this story, and this story does have a special place in my heart, but I cringe at my old writing and poor development). However, I knew I had to get into some writing mode to have motivation to continue writing Whispering Fireworks (which I will endeavor to update), and this is sort of a compensation for those left hanging on my other work. I was also tempted to leave this Tumblr exclusive, but many have urged me to also post on here, so here it is. I usually post all my AkaKuro drabbles on my Tumblr, but it makes sense to post it on here since it's a small continuation (sort of). Thanks for your support; I forever treasure it in my heart.
- Betrayal In Its Simplest Form -
There were days that the memories struck him from behind. When it did, it took his breath away. It stole him of his senses, and it scorched him like never before deep within his heart; and when the reminders that he desperately locked in its dungeon when the moon rose, bright and menacing, and highlighted his lonely room, threatened to slither out of his heart and burst from his chest, he bit his tongue and curled his toes, willing the rumbles of darkness to roll past and dissolve into its awaited home.
The worst nights in his rooms could not be compared to daylight, when the sun was awaiting and glaring. Because while the infliction of pain came undoubtedly so at night, the pain was shared during the day. It was shared to his family, his lover, his friends; and the pain felt so deeply within his ribs suddenly multiplied by thousands from this very thought.
Whenever it happened to his father, unmistakable anguish registered across the man's face. Kuroko could feel himself unconsciously flinch as his father's hand came toward him, and the father hesitated, fiercely battling the hurt that blossomed in his chest, knowing that this reaction was not towards him, yet inevitably feeling worse throughout the day because it washe who had caused his son to cower. His hand would shakily continue its journey and softly caress the teal strands that were so similar to that wretched woman, and his voice would waver as he finished his question:
"What would you like for dinner?"
It wasn't often. Kuroko willed that. He had made a remarkable recovery. But his mother's actions were still deeply ingrained into his body. The trauma was there; it was always there, nothing could erase a mother's betrayal and abuse, but it lied dormant, only lashing when a particular trigger came to surface, such as that fateful place of his mother's last abuse that gave him his final scars.
It wasn't often. But it happened.
It happened. And it hurt. It was agony. He chastised himself for flinching. He grieved for cowering. He apologized profusely for causing pain. Nothing would ever, however, excuse doing so with Akashi.
It would always cause Kuroko to develop a burning hatred for his mother. She caused this. She made him inflict pain on the one he cherished.
Whenever it happened, Akashi would freeze. His hand, outstretched like his father, would stiffen at Kuroko's reaction. The redhead's usual composed manner twisted, to something of grief, bitterness, and anger–but not at him, never at him, but at the one who sat behind bars. Then his hard face would melt, soften, and he would pull Kuroko firmly to his body, Kuroko's face pressed into his shoulders, as he would urgently cup the back of Kuroko's head and wrap an arm around his back. He would move his lips down to Kuroko's ear, and the tealhead would feel the tremors in Akashi's body, the stuttered breaths on his ear. Then, Akashi would swallow, and with a controlled, quiet, and soothing, but almost trembling voice, the same phrases were whispered over, and over, and over:
"I will never hurt you. I will never hurt you. No one will ever hurt you. It's alright. Everything is okay. I will never hurt you."
Kuroko would respond. His hands would claw at Akashi's shirt, his face would dig into his shoulders and neck to inhale the comforting scent of his lover. Kuroko nodded, continually, with the urgent phrases, turning his head to choke, "I know. I know," through his cracked lips.
And they would stay like that, for minutes, hours; it didn't matter. They both needed the reassurance. Kuroko Ibuki had left her mark.
Despite popular belief, however, it was not her victory. It was their victory. It was their journey. Because despite these setbacks, these quivering moments, they grew, and Kuroko conquered.
"Tetsuya? Catherine-sa–" the father stopped himself. Catherine was his wife now. "Catherine and I wanted to know if you wanted to go to this new restau–" Haru stopped mid sentence and stared at the scene before him, having pushed open the ajar door of his son's bedroom.
Kuroko was at his desk, dutifully working on his paper for his history class. On his bed, Akashi, who always finished his homework weeks before, rested casually against the headboard, reading his book quietly and answering any comments Kuroko offered him without taking his eyes off the text. Two pairs of colored eyes spared Haru a glance at his entrance.
There was only one problem with this scene. Haru didn't remember welcoming Akashi into his house at all. The open window next to the bed explained it.
"Akashi-kun," Haru moaned tiredly. He had had this conversation hundreds of times. "We have a door."
Akashi's lips curved upwards, and he stared, amused, at Kuroko's father. He inclined his head for a small bow. "My apologies. Habit."
"It is not a habit!" Haru cried. "You're now doing this to spite me."
"I would never do so to you, Haru-san." Akashi gracefully swung his legs to the edge of the bed and set his book aside. "I'm sure Tetsuya would kick me out if I did."
"I've already tried," Kuroko muttered. His fingers were back to typing seriously on the keyboard. "Akashi-kun refuses to leave."
Even after all these months, Kuroko never got used to calling Akashi Seijuro. It was a small victory for the smaller teen.
Haru shook his head, before remembering why he even entered. "Right. Tetsuya? Do you want to go to the new restaurant? I suppose Akashi-kun can come, too." He furrowed his eyebrows at the teen. "Do your parents know you're here, Akashi-kun?"
"Father's case is in Tokyo, today, and that is why I was able to visit," Akashi answered, which meant no, they don't know.
When he realized Kuroko didn't respond, Haru glanced once more at his son. He had been at that paper for hours, and signs of tension were showing on the teen's shoulders. "Why don't you take a break, Tetsuya? We can go out for a nice dinner." Haru took the few steps toward his son and reached out to ruffle Kuroko's hair.
It was one of those moments that Kuroko wasn't aware. He was distracted, by his paper, and so when he turned his head to a familiar voice and saw a large hand coming towards his face, his body reacted. His foot pushed violently to the floor. The rolling chair rushed backwards and slammed against the foot of the bed. Haru froze in shock, his arm still outstretched to the space his son was occupying just a second ago. Kuroko had his head turned towards the ground, his eyes shut, and his fingers dug painfully into the seat of his chair. It was if he was waiting for the strike to come. Once several moments had passed, and no strike came, and Kuroko became more aware of himself, he slowly uncurled his body, fearing to meet his father's eyes after.
He'd done it again. He had done it again, and it was exhausting to feel that rush of shame, pain, and sorrow that came with the routine.
Haru swallowed. The lump in his throat stayed, but he celebrated the small victory when he managed to ask clearly and softly, "Tetsuya, would you like to take a break and go to the new restaurant with Catherine and me?"
Akashi watched the scene carefully. Careful to not make a movement before, he moved now to gently put a hand on to Kuroko's shoulder and repeated the question again quietly in his ear.
Blinking, Kuroko gradually lifted his head to meet his blue eyes to a similar pair. Haru waited patiently for his son. "Yes …Yes, I would like that," Kuroko replied faintly. "Please give me a few minutes to get ready."
"Of course. Take your time. We'll leave when you're ready." Haru smiled, though forced, and turned towards the door. He was almost out of the room until–
The father felt a light grip on his arm, and he looked down at his (still short) son. Kuroko's eyes earnestly delivered his message. "I am trying."
Haru enveloped Kuroko within his arms. Tightly, but enough to let the teen breathe, Haru rubbed a soothing hand down his back. He pressed several kisses to Kuroko's head and nuzzled his son's temple, for reassurance to whom, he did not know. "I know," Haru said. "By gods, I know. I know you're trying. You shouldn't have to be trying. But you are, and I hate the fact that Ibuki," Kuroko tensed at her name. "–caused this. But it's over. It's over. You won. You won this war, Tetsu. I am proud. You are much stronger than me. You've made incredible progress. Catherine-s–Catherine is proud. Akashi-kun is amazed. I am very lucky," he pressed another kiss to Kuroko's head. "Very lucky to have Tetsuya as my son."
"Thank you." Kuroko was muffled by his father's sweater, but it was nonetheless understood. "I'm sorry. I will–"
"No, don't apologize," Haru said fiercely. "It's natural. What your mother–no, not your mother–what that woman did is unforgettable." He paused, hesitating in what he was about to say next, but he had to ask. "Tetsuya … do–do you want to see a psychologist? I know your nightmares are still happening, and i-it might help if you talk to a professional. It's your choice, however," he rushed at the end. "I will not force you."
"It is a good idea, Tetsuya," Akashi added carefully. He was leaning against the wall and had politely turned his head to the window to give the two the illusion of privacy. "My mother would gladly pull some of her contacts to find you the best professional for a low cost."
Kuroko stayed silent for a moment. His toes curled into the carpet. Yet after another moment of hesitation, he pulled away from his father's arms and nodded. "I want to try."
Haru smiled gratefully. "How about this? Why don't you invite your Teiko teammates for dinner, too? Murasakibara-kun is in Kanagawa right now for his camp, right? You haven't seen them in awhile."
Kuroko twisted his body to look questioningly at Akashi. The redhead, who was a little disgruntled that it would not be just Kuroko and him (Catherine and Haru didn't count), reluctantly nodded in agreement.
"I will gather them, I suppose," Akashi almost sulked, but didn't, because years of upbringing from his mother taught him not to. Kuroko bit his lip from smiling.
"Thank you, Otou-san. Now please leave so I may get ready," the tealhead requested.
Haru scowled, but turned to head out anyway. "Oh, and Akashi-kun gets to see you get ready? You better not bare yourself to him, Tetsuya. Akashi-kun is too devious … " he continued his childish murmurings out of the room, closing the door behind him.
The minute the door closed, Akashi was in front of him, gentle hands holding his face. Kuroko loosely held onto Akashi's right wrist. Their lips brushed for a second. "I am very glad you are willing to seek professional help," the Rakuzan player murmured, lovingly stroking Kuroko's cheek. "You are out in the world, progressing and living and healthy, while that woman is rotting behind bars."
Kuroko leaned in to connect their lips again. It took them about several months into their relationship for Kuroko to initiate contact like that. He grabbed one of Akashi's hand in his, relishing the molding of their hands, and deliberately placed them on Akashi's hard chest. "I know it causes Akashi-kun and Otou-san pain when I react that way," Kuroko said gingerly. "I don't want that."
Akashi gave way to a half smile and covered Kuroko's hand with his. "I am strong, Tetsuya. Your motives should be for yourself."
"Yes, Akashi-kun, because those words will definitely convince me."
A red eyebrow raised. "Did Tetsuya just use sarcasm?"
"No." Kuroko brought his lips once more to Akashi's familiar ones. They didn't separate immediately, this time. Kuroko found himself pressed, gently, against a wall, Akashi's hand braced above his head as their kiss continued deeply and tenderly. Kuroko's hand clawed at Akashi's chest, and Akashi's hold on Kuroko's chin tightened. They pressed their bodies close as mouths danced slowly with one another. It was never a sexual kiss; they never took it one more step. It was only long, tender, and tentatively innocent.
"Tetsuya-kun!" Catherine shouted from downstairs. "Please remember to use a condom!"
It was a joke, of course, but Kuroko didn't fail to blush. His clawed hand flattened against Akashi's chest, but their lips hovered over each other briefly before giving in to a final, chaste kiss. Akashi had to pull away first with laughing eyes. He gave a last kiss to his partner's forehead before slipping from Kuroko's arms and reaching across the desk to grab his phone.
"I will contact the others now," Akashi said, unruffled and gave a smirk. "It has been awhile since the last gathering."
"Yes," Kuroko murmured, pushing off the wall to adjust his collar. "We've all been busy preparing for the next Winter Cup." He gave a sly glance to Akashi. "Which Seirin will win. Again."
"The last Winter Cup was your win," Akashi agreed. "However, our defeat against you has come to an end. Rakuzan will win the Winter Cup this year, Tetsuya."
"If that is what Akashi-kun needs to say to peacefully sleep, then I will have to agree." Kuroko nimbly avoided a playful hand that tried to snatch at his clothes. Akashi narrowed his eyes at the small teenager–hypocritical, since he was not much bigger–and shook his head. His mother, and quite possibly his father, would be laughing at how bold Kuroko had become with him.
Kuroko drifted to his closet to find a more formal attire than his pajamas, but he had to press his lips together to stop the threat of a smile. Despite declaring their status, the two, several months back, had still been exploring blindly on the boundaries and new concepts that came with a relationship. Kuroko, with his struggles to recover physically and mentally, began to learn to become more daring, resolute, and unafraid to ask for help. He realized his cooperation and participation were needed for them to progress forward. For example, obliging to one of Akashi's ridiculous health meals went a long way when Akashi grudgingly bought Kuroko ten vanilla milk shakes on his birthday.
Domineering, and arrogant, and demanding, those traits accumulated within Akashi chipped away as time passed. His features softened around Kuroko, he learned to become playful, and most importantly, he learned (tried to, at least) to comply (or at least compromise) to some of Kuroko's wishes, despite some actions that made his inner self cringe (such as the time Kuroko thought it would be brilliant to continue practice even with a 38.2 degree fever … although he did force Kuroko home when he saw the tealhead stumble once). Another time was when Kuroko, still recovering from a cold, ignored Akashi's suggestions and went on Seirin's basketball camp trip anyway. That time Akashi had to furiously throw himself into tedious work at his father's office to suppress the urge of retrieving Kuroko himself.
Kuroko always felt this guilty pleasure of being the only one to see Akashi like this; relaxed, exasperated, joking, and openly concerned.
"I wonder if the restaurant is formal?" Kuroko carefully stripped himself of his shirt. A rush of embarrassment and shame flowed through him for his scars on his back and chest, but quickly banished the feelings. It was now only a reflex reaction, not something he truly felt. Those scars were not his fault. "I still don't have the proper attire for these events." Kuroko frowned and hastily took two vests from his closet. "Will these be alright?"
Akashi looked at the two shirts before him. "Yes. I doubt your father would pick something too formal, though."
It was true. Haru hated the stuffiness of formal events.
Kuroko looked down at the clothes. "We barely eat out, so it must be a nice restaurant, Akashi-kun."
"Yes," Akashi murmured under his breath. "It could be so." In truth, he wasn't paying much attention to the conversation. Instead, his red eyes were fixed on a particular scar on Kuroko's pale body; a nasty, jagged pink line that ran from Kuroko's right shoulder to his abdomen. It trailed slowly down Kuroko's body, like a vicious, lazy river, and cut off painfully a few inches above his belly button. The scar showed the wound to have been deep and particularly memorable–and it was. The events leading up to that scar brought a lump to Akashi's chest.
Akashi's fingers touched hesitantly at the start of the scar. Kuroko's body tensed, at first at the coldness of his partner's fingertips, then at the fact Akashi was touching a place Kuroko tried hard to lock away. Though he didn't stop Akashi, when the fingers brushed across his skin and followed the path of the pink line and paused at the end of it. It stayed there for a minute, while Akashi burned a bitter gaze at the scar. This was his failure.
Kuroko clasped the redhead's hand in his before bringing it up to his cheek. "I know what you're thinking, Akashi-kun."
"Oh?" Akashi gave half a smile. "Do you, Tetsuya?"
"I do," he continued firmly. "But I won't say anything because it will always end up the same. Let's just get ready because Otou-san is waiting."
There was a brief flash of hesitation; very brief, and then it was gone. Akashi squeezed the hands that held his and stood up to place a swift kiss on Kuroko's head. "Yes. The others responded they were available and would come to the restaurant in an hour."
Dinner was an exciting affair. The minute Kise spotted Kuroko, he wailed and grabbed his former teammate into a tight hug, exclaiming that it was Kurokocchi's fault for never visiting.The blonde got a pretty nasty glare from a certain redhead after. Murasakibara had come with Kise and mumbled something about skipping practice to attend, but affectionately gave Kuroko a bag of snacks as a gift.
"How come Murasakicchi doesn't give me snacks?"
"Kise-chin doesn't deserve them."
Aomine was next. He sulked his way into the restaurant, shivering and cursing at the harsh winters of Tokyo. "Yo," he greeted grumpily. "You look good, Tetsu."
"What else would I look like, Aomine-kun?" Kuroko asked bluntly.
Aomine gave him a soft push on the shoulder. "Oi." He spared a glance at Akashi, who stood behind Kuroko with a slight, daring tilt with his head. Aomine scoffed before looking away. "Yeah, good to see you, too, Akashi," he grumbled.
"Don't be bitter, idiot." Midorima came up from behind and, as usual, gripped onto his lucky item for the day. It was a frog, this time. "If anything, I should be the one on estranged terms with Akashi."
There was an unmistakeable twitch on Akashi's lips, which Kuroko caught and 'subtly' elbowed his partner in the ribs. It didn't hurt, but Akashi received the message.
"Midorimacchi! I missed yo–ugh," Kise doubled over. He gripped his stomach where Midorima assaulted him to stop the incoming hug.
Aomine snorted. "Idiot." But he still wrapped an arm around the blonde's waist and not too roughly shoved him into his seat..
"Is everyone here?" Haru fretted, trying to count the colorful heads of the Generation of Miracles. "All eight? Or, err, seven? Nine?"
"Six, and everyone is here," Kuroko assured as he took his seat next to Akashi and Midorima. The Generation of Miracles sat in a cluster on one side, while Haru and Catherine had their own small table, connected to theirs.
"Oi, did you guys hear about that American team that came over to Japan just a few days ago?" Aomine mentioned, looking over at the fancy menu in hunger. "They beat the shit out of the seniors who graduated last year."
"Yes. They're savages, really." Midorima offered, disgusted. "They don't display any respect."
"Didn't they declare to beat the strongest team in Japan?" Murasakibara lazily asked.
Kise shrugged out of disinterest. He had watched part of the match the other day, but didn't get to the whole footage. "I don't see how they can. They're foreigners, and I don't think they know of us, yet. Right, Akashicchi?"
"It would be best to avoid conflict at this point in time," Akashi answered in a composed tone. He, too, had watched the game, and knew Kuroko had too. There was no mistaking the anger that burned in the Generation of Miracles' chests that came from the foreign team's attitude. "They seem to think with their bodies rather than their mind. A confrontation or challenge would not bring us the benefit right now … that means no confrontations at all." Five pairs of eyes, including Akashi's, snapped to the seemingly innocent, short basketball player.
Kuroko, who hadn't spoken a word about the team, felt the gazes and looked up, confused. He realized they were expecting him to confront the foreigners. "I would never …" The eyes narrowed. "I mean, if my teammates in Seirin were provo …" The gazes became more menacing. "I can take care of my …" Out of the corner of Kuroko's eye, he saw Akashi's lips press firmly together and a hint of yellow start to resurface in his left eye. Feeling his partner's irritation, Kuroko slumped into his seat and hid his face behind the menu. "I will not confront them," he said, defeated.
Haru and Catherine listened casually to the chatter and shook their heads at the teens.
"You know, Haru," Catherine smiled. "When I suggested a dinner, I was thinking of a small, quiet one, with just the three of us,"
Haru instantly became anxious. "I'm sorry," he apologized immediately. "I just–I thought it would be better for Tetsuya. He keeps suffering from–"
"Don't worry." Catherine placed her hand on top of his. "I understand."
Kuroko would always come first to Haru. Catherine had no doubt Haru would cast her aside for his son, and the woman didn't blame him. She would also do anything for the boy who suffered more than most adults in their lives.
The rest of dinner continued smoothly. Midorima and Kise were discussing heatedly on which basket was better; the three pointer or the dunk. Murasakibara spent the majority of the time picking off of Aomine's plate, who protested loudly and threw his foot forward to crash into Murasakibara's leg. Most of the time it would hit Midorima, though, and the greenhead would become furious and strike back harder. During one of those times, Aomine's long legs somehow managed to connect with Akashi's leg. The cold look Aomine received from said teen had the ganguro cowering in his seat for almost the rest of dinner to avoid a one-sided confrontation.
Throughout the ordeal, Kuroko softly chatted with everyone. Midorima asked to see the burn he got from sliding against the gym floor a few weeks back, but it was mostly healed and barely left a mark. Aomine managed to set up a one on one with Kagami through Kuroko some time during the meal, but Kuroko couldn't remember how because the day's events were catching up to him. The desire to sleep was slowly settling into his bones. Akashi rubbed soothing circles on the back of his hand.
The rest of the time was a blur to Kuroko. He knew he had managed to offer sincere good-byes to his former teammates and gratitude for coming. He knew that, somehow, he had fallen asleep on the car ride back home because he was jostled awake when he felt strong arms, possibly his father, carry him up the stairs. He knew that he was set on his feet, and he miraculously and drunkenly stripped off his clothes and shoved a night shirt on. The bed was soon underneath him, and he felt someone draw the covers over him. In his near unconscious state, he heard someone state it was too late to go back to Kyoto, and then a warm body joined him on his bed.
Kuroko instinctively turned and pressed closer to the body. His nose found the connection between the body's shoulder and neck, and he inhaled, knowing immediately it was Akashi from his scent. A comforting arm wrapped around his body, and his head felt a light pressure on top. A whisper came from the body, but Kuroko couldn't interpret it all the way as he fell deep into darkness.
"Sleep … nightmares … no more."
Kuroko Ibuki had left her mark. The scars she was responsible for would always remain. Her betrayal as a mother would always be a part of Kuroko's heart. But it wasn't her win. Because despite those scars, the wounds, and the vicious nightmares, they were growing–thriving–and Kuroko was conquering.