I made something to ease the pain of the previous chapter. I just don't know why, but the idea of a writhing Kuroko in pain gets me going~ :3

Seeing his old partner again had reminded Aomine of his past, bringing back memories of both good times and bad.

He even remembered when Tetsu's wings first came out and he had just started the changing. Aomine couldn't even remember his own clearly; just hazy pictures and impressions of the pain.

It was weird when he thought about it, how he knew his partner better than he knew himself. He knew the day when his changing began, when it ended, when his down formed, when they had started to shed. Even when his flight feathers had come out. Aomine could name them all.

He remembered when he vowed to help Kuroko leave the nest and take flight. But when he had promised, his wings were too large- still too large. It was already too late for them. Aomine was already past the point of helping Kuroko.

If he went back further, he supposed it was after Tetsu's changing that he was never the same. It put a rift between them, a constant reminder that they were different.

Back then, Aomine's wings were only average sized. They reached just past his fingertips when he stretched them to their full span.

I forgot how to be average, the tanned teen noted sadly, briefly coming out of his stash of memories. At least when I was average, I had fun pushing things to the limit.

Now that his wings were the same size, if not larger than those in the Generation of Miracles, there was no challenge, no exhilarating rush when he flew in competition.

He didn't want to think about this right now. There was nothing worse than suddenly remembering the distance between them. It really had started all that day.

It was sunny and warm, a small inviting breeze urging the tanned teen to fly away on it's back. But he couldn't leave. Not without Tetsu.

Instead, Aomine had managed to convince (a-not-so-pleased) Kuroko to skip classes with him in an offer to take a nap on the roof of the school.

It wasn't like anyone was going to look for a trouble maker and a ghost anyway.

Aomine's wings were carefully folded under him while he lay on his back, Tetsu sleeping on his chest. They lounged in the sunlight, one sleeping without a sound, the other snoring like a bear in hibernation.

Occasionally, Tetsu would move around (that was how he always ended up with his insane bedhead), and Aomine would have to wake from his slumber to re-position him into a more comfortable spot on his chest, or prevent him from falling off his front completely.

They often enough slept like this that Aomine knew his sleeping patterns.

So it came as unusual when Tetsu began to twitch in his sleep and frown with his eyebrows knit together.

Sometimes, he would get up periodically, moving his shoulders, neck and arms in weird positions, trying to relieve the mounting pain.

At first, Aomine had thought it was a small nightmare and he would have to comfort the pale avian when he woke up. But the twitches got worse, becoming borderline violent.

Soon the uncomfortable sensation grew unbearably, and Tetsu began to let out small keens of discomfort in his sleep.

Now Aomine started to worry.

His partner tried to stay still, but he was panting hard, his face pale and sweaty. His body shuddered from sudden crashing waves of pain, and he would cry out. Softly to anyone else, but harshly in Daiki's ears.

The slim boy let out a moan, and Aomine got up from where he sat cradling the smaller avian. He was ready to bring him to the infirmary in a moment's breadth.

Tetsu looked up at him with pleading eyes to make the pain go away, and Aomine froze, unsure what he could do.

Small, shaking hands reached up to him, not allowing him to move anywhere but back to the boy's side.

Scared powder blue eyes locked with his before Tetsu's body shivered and he heard a quickly muttered, Sorry, right before he bit into Aomine's shoulder and screamed.

Aomine sat shocked, his royal blue pupils dilating and contracting at the pain that shot up his neck. Panic started to mount in his stomach, but he forced himself to relax under the crushing grip of his partner's teeth.

Tetsu bit harder into his left shoulder and trembled whenever a scream tore at his throat. He could hear small whimpers and breaths of I'm sorry, in between them, making his heart squeeze painfully.

Aomine grit his teeth and let Tetsu's pain seep into him, trying to absorb whatever he was feeling and take away the majority of the agony he heard in his partner's voice.

"Testu, shit-"

The avian screamed high and piercing in Aomine's ear when a sickening rip filled the air.

Kuroko collapsed on top of him, a writhing mass of pale skin and powder blue hair dyed red with blood.

Shit, his changing had just begun.

Knowing no other action to take other than from the experience of his own changing, Aomine worked quickly and ripped the smaller boy's shirt off, covering the area of the wound, being careful to avoid the small white bones protruding from Tetsu's back.

Picking him up as best he could, Aomine half flew-half ran through the school building to the infirmary and almost kicked down the door while trying to open it.

The startled nurse tended to the unconscious Kuroko, telling the tanned teen that the worst of it was over, and his friend just needed a few bandages to staunch the blood and a bit of time to repair the broken skin on his back.

When she looked up and saw the bite marks on Daiki's skin, she grinned with a mouth full of teeth and congratulated him, telling him he was one hell of a friend to be able to hold out on the pain of someone going through the changing.

Usually, the small squeeze toys that the nurses and hospitals gave out to people going through the changing pains were crushed, broken or burst from the force of the patient's grip.

She explained all this to him while she disinfected his shoulder, and he thanked her before running off to find Akashi; sure he broke half of the school's rules and regulations as he did so.

When the red-haired flock leader wasn't in the shogi room as per usual, he gave up and sprinted back the way he came, heading to the nurse's office.

What he found when he opened the door was Tetsu sitting up and awake. Sans nurse.

"Aomine-kun," the avian started.

The tanned teen shook his head to silence him while he walked over to his bedside and plopped down on the seat waiting for him there.

"Shit Tetsu, scared me, going through the changing suddenly like that," he murmured.

Kuroko kept an impassive face while hooking his hand to cup the back of Aomine's neck, bringing him in closer.

Using a trembling hand, he pulled Aomine's collar to the side to see the red indents of his teeth marking the dark skin. Instinctively, Aomine stretched his neck to the other side, letting the smaller of the two inspect the damage he inflicted.

Running a finger over the marks, Kuroko whispered, "Sorry, did it hurt?"

"Like hell, but s'worth it. Hell, it was better than seeing you in pain and not being able to do anything about it."

Kuroko's eyes flicked up to his, and in that instant, Aomine had read all the unsaid words behind them.

I wouldn't be here if you didn't carry me.

You're the reason I was able to make it through the changing.

Thank you.

Aomine smiled and hummed softly in return, delighted with those few thoughts. He felt a tug on his good shoulder, and he licked his lips in anticipation, feeling their lips connect.

Through them, he tried to send his own message.

S'worth it.