Chapter 5 – Confession
It had been two weeks since the incident with the grey and the red haired ghouls and Kuroko was now on his way to the bookstore after work.
He had not spoken to Akashi since that Wednesday evening a fortnight ago when the good-looking red head had mentioned the book he had been recommended. Akashi really must be avoiding me thought Kuroko sadly. It was not that Akashi had been absent all this time. Kuroko had seen him working regularly in the café, however Akashi had managed to avoid ever serving or talking to Kuroko, leaving it to the other baristas. This odd behaviour only made Kuroko more suspicious that the red eyed man really was the ghoul from that night.
Kuroko understood why Akashi would be cautious of him if his suspicions were correct. Humans are scared of ghouls and fear leads people to betray others. The two barely knew each other anyway, it was perfectly reasonable that Akashi would think that Kuroko would forsake him and report him to the CCG.
Nonetheless, Akashi's behaviour confused Kuroko. The red head seemed smart and sophisticated. Surely he would realise that dodging any interaction with the human would only serve to increase Kuroko's suspicion. Kuroko could easily report him regardless of having concrete evidence anyway, so why was Akashi evading him?
Thinking about it, Kuroko wondered why he had not reported the potential ghoul. Ever since he was a kid he's been told about how monstrous and bloodthirsty ghouls were, that they were the predator of humanity and should be hunted down. Not to mention he has hated ghouls ever since the incident with his family ten years ago. Yet, that red haired ghoul had done nothing to harm Kuroko. In fact, he had saved him from certain death at the risk of his own safety.
The thought caused Kuroko to question his view on ghouls. Perhaps they were not the murderous beasts he had always been told to believe them to be. He realised now that, like humans, there may be good ghouls and bad ghouls. Obviously killing people was inherently wrong, but could he really criticise their behaviour when it was all they could do to survive? When he thought about the fact that Akashi may very well be a ghoul he began wondering whether it would really matter. As long as Akashi showed no intention of hurting him and did not demonstrate unnecessarily cruel or evil behaviour, Kuroko imagined he would want to remain friends with the manager of the coffee shop regardless.
It also occurred to Kuroko that given Aomine and Akashi were brothers, who were on fairly good terms and living together, it was even more unlikely that Akashi would seek to harm him, especially if Aomine had anything to say about it.
Kuroko looked ahead to the entrance of the bookstore which was several shops away now. His train of thought was suddenly brought to a halt when he saw the crimson headed Akashi Seijuro walking into the establishment. This is my chance…if I corner him in there I can finally talk to him, find out the truth and explain my feelings. Kuroko's walking pace increased as he hurried to the bookstore.
That morning, Akashi had finished rereading the book that Kuroko had recommended to him a couple of weeks ago. He had truly enjoyed the thrilling read but he was in search of further distraction from the dullness that was everyday life at the moment and so decided to return to the bookstore to buy a new novel.
He was now stood in front of a set of bookshelves, reading the blurb of a book when a hand grabbed his arm. He immediately tensed, looking up, expecting to see a stranger. Who he saw frightened him.
The bluenette was stood, looking into his scarlet eyes determinedly. Akashi was in a stunned silence, unsure of what to do. He made a weak attempt to pull away without saying a word, however Kuroko tightened his grip on the surprised man.
"Please do not run away from me Akashi-kun. I would like to speak with you." Kuroko said bluntly.
Akashi wondered what the best course of action was. Perhaps the best option would be to act cold, telling the man that he did not care for his company and that he wished to be left alone. Yet Akashi could not bring himself to do this, knowing it was not what he truly wanted. He just stood in silence looking at the kindergarten teacher.
Kuroko then looked down at the book in Akashi's hand. After a moment's pause Kuroko spoke again. "I think Akashi-kun would enjoy that book very much." He said with a gentle smile on his face. Akashi began to relax his muscles, realising he was in no immediate danger. Just talking to the slightly shorter male should not cause too many problems.
Akashi proceeded to buy the book, Kuroko keeping a grasp on his lower arm as he did so. The two were leaving the store when Akashi finally spoke up.
"You do not need to keep a hold of my arm, I will not run away Kuroko-kun." Akashi said softly. Kuroko loosened his grip for a second before letting go completely. The two were walking side by side on the pavement, heading towards the coffeehouse. They walked without speaking to begin with. Akashi was looking at the floor whilst Kuroko stared at the taller males face, trying to read his expression. However, Akashi was not letting his emotions show, hiding his thoughts. It was then that Kuroko really took in the red heads facial features. He noticed how defined and attractive his face was. How striking those red eyes were against his pale complexion. Kuroko immediately looked away, shaking away the thoughts. I can't go falling for Akashi-kun. There's no way he'd ever like me in that way.
In Akashi's absence Kuroko had felt a lacking in his life. Perhaps it was simply because Kagami had also left, but Kuroko had frequently found himself longing for Akashi's company. Longing in a way that he was unused to.
The blue haired human decided to speak up once more.
"Akashi-kun, I know you have been avoiding me and purposely not speaking to me. I can only think of one good reason you would do this. Surely you realise that I will only become surer that it really was you that night?" Kuroko spoke confidently though not loudly, deciding to be blunt about the topic. It was clear that something had changed between them after that night. Previously, Akashi was eager to become closer with him, yet after the incident, he would not even look Kuroko in the eye, let alone talk to him. Whilst Kuroko could have simply given up on him, he wanted to know if he really was his saviour and whether he truly did want to be his friend.
Kuroko's words had terrified Akashi. The blue haired man was being somewhat vague but it was clear to the both of them what he was talking about. Is it even worth playing ignorant at this point? What could I possibly say that would make Kuroko-kun believe me?
Akashi decided to try his luck. Putting on his best confused expression, he replied "What are you talking about? I know I've been busy lately but it's not like I was purposely avoidi-"
"Don't pretend to be oblivious Akashi-kun. I'm good at reading people, and it's clear you are lying even if you are good at hiding your emotions." Kuroko stopped walking and looked at Akashi's face. He was hurt that Akashi was so blatantly lying to him, yet he understood. He knew that a ghoul could not so easily reveal their identity. The red head stopped avoiding Kuroko's gaze and finally looked into Kuroko's eyes. He was torn. He could not just give in and admit to being a ghoul but he couldn't lie to this man either. However, Kuroko continued before Akashi could reply.
"I want you to know, whether or not that really was you, I don't care. I still wish to be friends with you Akashi-kun. I've missed talking to you these past few weeks, so please stop avoiding me." Kuroko was looking at Akashi with more emotion than Akashi had seen on the man's face before. It was somewhere between a look of hurt, pleading and hope. "And just so we're clear, I trust you and I would never betray a friend."
Little did Kuroko know that his words meant a great deal to Akashi.
Akashi looked at Kuroko in disbelief. Would this man really forgive him for being a ghoul? Would he really accept that? Would he really accept him? All his life he has had to hide a part of himself from every human he's ever come across. He has had to live with the monstrous hunger for human flesh. It made him hate himself sometimes, he could hardly imagine someone else accepting that side of him.
Just then, Kuroko began walking again, pulling Akashi along by the arm. They were nearing the café now. A moment of quiet passed before Kuroko continued.
"Akashi-kun, please be honest with me. I know you have little reason to be, but please tell me: What are you?"
The two now stood outside the window of the café. Kuroko looked up to the taller man with a determined look in his eye. Akashi finally decided to give in to his own wants. He wanted to be honest with Kuroko, regardless of the risks, regardless of the fact that Kuroko could easily be pretending to accept him and that at any moment this illusion of friendship could be shattered. He wanted to be trustworthy. To be his friend.
Akashi's next sentence was barely audible, but Kuroko caught it. "I am a ghoul." Akashi said looking directly into Kuroko's sky blue eyes. The teal head's reaction confused Akashi. Instead of disgust or fear, a wide, understanding smile spread across his face and the shorter moved in to hug the red haired man.
The next thing Akashi knew was Kuroko's arms wrapping tightly around his chest pulling him into an embrace. "Thank you Akashi-kun." Kuroko whispered.
The hug lasted only a few seconds before Kuroko pulled away. Akashi had been too shocked to return the embrace, though he now regretted not returning the smaller man's affection.
"B-but…how can you be okay with that? I've…I've killed people. I'm a monster" Akashi said quietly, filled with self-disgust.
Kuroko stared at Akashi with an expression of sympathy. "Have you ever killed or hurt anyone when you did not need to?"
Akashi hesitated for a moment, trying to think of a situation where he had killed anyone where it was not necessary. Truthfully, he had killed very few. A handful of ghouls had tried to attack him and his family over his life-time and he was forced to kill them in self-defence. Only on two occasions did he himself have to kill humans: the ghouls at the coffeehouse had run out of food and there was none to be found at the cliff. They were on the verge of starvation and Akashi decided he would take one for the team and do the killing. He made sure to look into the humans' pasts. They were cruel people, with no family to miss them. However Akashi still felt guilty for having taken their lives.
Kuroko was relieved by the answer. "Then you only did what you had to in order to survive. I would also like to thank you for saving me from that grey haired ghoul."
Akashi sighed, not sure how he felt about Kuroko's overly accepting reply. "You should be more careful, if I had not been there…Just don't go out in the dark again, okay?"
"Is Akashi-kun worried about my safety?" Kuroko teased. Akashi blushed slightly but before he could reply Kuroko continued. "I better be going, it'll be getting dark soon. I hope that you'll let me talk to you tomorrow Akashi-kun."
And with that the teal haired human left, leaving Akashi stood, stunned, outside of his café. His heart felt so warm and light after speaking with the shorter man, particularly after the embrace. He felt like a massive weight had been lifted from his chest, allowing him to breathe again. Yet at the same time he was terrified. A human knew he was a ghoul, which was dangerous enough for him, but Kuroko also considered him a friend which may put Kuroko in danger. Humans should not get involved in the world of ghouls after all.
Akashi took a moment to regain his composure, before walking into the coffee shop, where he would inevitably be teased by the blond working the counter today who likely witnessed Akashi's interactions with Kuroko.
However, no-one had noticed the dark haired ghoul watching from across the street.
Akashi walked into the coffee shop. There were currently very few customers and as expected the excitable blond bounded up to him.
"Akashicchi! I just saw you with Kurokocchi! Did you two start talking again? I saw him give you a hug, it was so adorable Akashicchi!"
"Heh, seems like you couldn't keep avoiding Tetsu after all Sei." Aomine walked up behind Kise to join the conversation.
Akashi continued walking through their café, closely followed by the blond and bluenette. "He wanted to talk to me about what happened a fortnight ago. He knows." Akashi said matter-of-factly.
Kise looked at Akashi in shock. "Wait…you mean…he knows what you are? And he still hugged you? That's even better Akashicchi!"
"Keep your voice down Ryouta. I'm going out back, so please return to working. That is what I pay you for after all."
Akashi walked out back, hoping to avoid any questioning from the ghouls, however Aomine followed him into the small room.
"Hey, Sei. If he knows about you, do you reckon he'll get suspicious about me…I don't think he'll believe me if I just say I had no idea you were a ghoul…."
Akashi looked up to Aomine. "It's probably best if you tell him that you knew I was a ghoul at least. Whether you want to tell him about yourself or not is your own decision to make Daiki. I must get back to my work now, you should do the same."
There was a small hesitation before the navy head continued. "You would never hurt him right? Even if he knows?" Aomine was looking at him with a stern expression. He could not bear the thought of his own brother hurting Kuroko. Whilst he knew Akashi was not one to support unnecessary violence, this type of situation had never occurred in their makeshift family. He wanted to be sure.
Akashi looked at Aomine with knowing eyes. "Of course not. Besides, I…trust him."
Aomine gave a nod and started to walk out of the room when Akashi continued, with a whisper. "And I do not think I could bring myself to hurt him regardless of what he does." He said looking at the ceiling absentmindedly.
Aomine gave a small smile to his adopted brother, understanding his feelings.
"See you later Sei." He said as he left the red head alone in the backroom.
The whole way home, Kuroko could not stop thinking about Akashi's confession. Akashi had been honest with him. Kuroko smiled at that thought. Truthfully, Kuroko was surprised at how little convincing he had to do to get Akashi to verify his suspicions and a part of Kuroko wondered whether he should be worried. Perhaps the ghoul simply told the truth, safe in the knowledge that he could easily kill Kuroko at any time. Yet Kuroko was not concerned. He did not believe Akashi would be malicious. Not only had he never been given the impression that Akashi was a cruel guy, but Aomine was his brother. There's no way Aomine would let Kuroko talk to Akashi if he believed he posed a threat to Kuroko.
Speaking of which. Aomine-kun…Kuroko thought in dismay. Is it possible that Aomine-kun did not know about Akashi-kun being a ghoul? It seemed unlikely, but not entirely impossible. Kuroko made a mental note to invite Aomine out soon so they could talk about it.
That night Akashi lay in bed reflecting on Kuroko's reaction to his revelation. Akashi had managed to distract himself for most of the evening, burying himself in his work and reading. But now, as he lay in bed trying to sleep, his mind was left to think. It refused to sleep, still lost in thoughts about Kuroko. He wanted to talk to him. Yeah, just show up at his house in the middle of the night. That wouldn't be creepy. He laughed internally to himself. It was rare that he found himself unable to sleep, but when he did he found that a walk around the block usually helped clear his head.
He got out of his double-bed and threw on some casual clothes before leaving the apartment.
Whilst he walked the streets on the cloudy night he thought about his feelings for Kuroko. There was something about the man that was so different, yet Akashi could not place it. From all he could tell, Kuroko was fairly plain and average, yet the crimson eyed ghoul was always happy and subtly excited to see him. Even when he was avoiding contact with Kuroko, he had yearned to talk to him.
A thought flitted through Akashi's mind.
You love him.
He tried to shake the thought away, insisting that it was only a passing feeling of affection, yet it made so much sense to him. But how could he accept that? He could not love Kuroko, it was dangerous enough to be friends, let alone anything more.
It was at that moment that he saw a figure standing a dozen metres ahead.
The person ahead started walking towards him. Within seconds Akashi could make out his face and he realised who it was. His thoughts turned to those of anger and disgust.
"Well, well Aka-shi-kun. Long-time, no see." The man smirked.
END OF CHAPTER