The morning after the ghouls had rescued Kuroko, Kise and Midorima entered Aomine's bedroom to drag the dark skinned male out.
"Aomine, if you're just going to sit here all day rather than sleep, you may as well go and help Kise and Murasakibara with work downstairs." The green head reasoned.
"Yeah Aominecchi! We could really use some help." Kise lied. Truthfully, the other two ghouls would likely be able to handle the day's customers, after all it was usually quiet on a Thursday. However both Kise and Midorima had agreed that whenever the dark-blue haired ghoul was feeling down, as he definitely was today, it was best to distract him with stuff to do rather than let him wallow in despair.
"Shut up. I need to stay up here and keep an eye on Tetsu." Aomine seemed like he was about to continue speaking when Akashi, who had been present throughout the three's conversation, interjected.
"Daiki, I will watch over him. Make yourself useful and keep busy if you're not going to sleep. You can come check on him during your breaks." The words almost seemed harsh but Aomine knew that the red head only said them to give Aomine the push to do as the others asked.
The navy head gave a sigh before conceding, knowing Akashi would keep Kuroko safe for him, and honestly wanting a change of scenery. "Fine Sei. I'll go get changed in the bathroom, I'll meet you guys downstairs in a few minutes." And with that Aomine, Kise and Midorima left.
Shortly after they had left Akashi and Kuroko alone however Midorima returned with Miyaji who had finally arrived.
The two joined Akashi who was still sat at the side of Kuroko's bed.
"Akashi-kun, I would like you to tell me everything you know about his condition whilst I check him over." The older blond said, pulling the thin blanket off of the unconscious Kuroko.
"Of course." And so the coffee shop manager described everything he knew about what had happened to Kuroko. That Kuroko had been chained, gagged and blindfolded. That he had been stabbed multiple times and had clearly taken quite the beating. That it was very likely that Hanamiya had injected some sort of drug into his system and that the bluenette seemed to have one kakugan. He also made sure to tell him of the information Himuro had given him the previous night about one-eyed ghouls.
As Miyaji assessed Kuroko's body, he noted a distinct lack of the deep stab wounds that Akashi's description would have suggested would be there. "It seems the knife wounds you detailed have almost entirely healed already, there's just a few scars here on his torso and legs." Miyaji said, pointing to some thick lines on the smaller man's body. "Apart from that, there's no other physical damage I can see Akashi-kun."
The revelation made Akashi frown. For those wounds to have healed so quickly…there's no way Tetsuya can still be one hundred percent human… He thought, his earlier suspicions now pretty much confirmed. Though he was also glad to hear that at least Kuroko should not be feeling much physical pain once he woke up.
"The effects of whatever drug was likely causing the convulsions seems to be wearing off now, however you should be aware that prolonged sensory deprivation and torture can often lead to anxiety, depression and hallucinations. It's very likely that he was blindfolded and chained for most of his time there, so just be careful with him. Try to keep him calm and make sure he feels safe."
Akashi nodded in response to the street doctor. "Thank you Miyaji-san."
"It's fine. I should also mention that, as I'm sure you've guessed by now, he is not human anymore. Well at least not entirely. I believe you are correct in suspecting he is now a half-ghoul."
Midorima, who had been present throughout Miyaji's diagnosis, then spoke up. "Is there anything else we can do for him?" He asked in a low voice.
"Physically, no. If he really is a half-ghoul, all his physical wounds shall completely heal naturally, as they almost have already. But the mental damage caused by whatever tortures he's been through will not disappear so easily. All you can do is give him time to recover and comfort him."
With that the blond said his farewells to Akashi and left the room, Midorima following closely behind him as they went to go check in with Takao.
"Kiyoshi!" The ravenette exclaimed as the two entered his room, looking up from the video he had been watching on his phone.
"Hello Kazunari-kun. How are you?"
"I'm fine. Bored though. Shin-chan keeps insisting that I stay here for another couple of days." Takao said sadly.
"It's for your own good Kazunari." Midorima stated.
Miyaji sighed. "Shintaro-kun, he's fine to go out and about if he wants to by now you idiot. His wound has healed. Of course bed rest is good, but he's already been confined to this bed for weeks! He needs exercise."
"See Shin-chan! Even Kiyoshi agrees!" The dark haired male pouted.
Whilst Midorima was still concerned about Takao's health, a part of him knew it was unfair of him to make Takao stay indoors for so long. His lover was very much an active, outdoorsy person and he should've realised that detaining him in the rather small apartment would only make him upset.
The green haired ghoul gave in. "Fine. I suppose we could go out for a walk in a bit then."
Takao's face lit up at the statement. "Yay! Thank you Shin-chan!" The ravenette said as he got up and hugged his partner and kissed him on the lips.
"Gross." Miyaji said, seeing the mild act of affection, before heading towards the door. "Well, seeing as you're no longer being imprisoned here, I expect the two of you to be moving back in with me soon."
"Of course." Both Takao and Midorima said.
Downstairs, Aomine, Kise and Murasakibara were going about business as usual. No customers were currently in the shop.
"It really is a slow day." Kise whined from behind the counter.
"Kise-chin, don't worry, I'm sure they'll be more customers soon." Murasakibara replied monotonously whilst he was restocking the ingredients.
Aomine was remaining quiet as he cleaned the floor with a mop and bucket.
The blond watched him, noticing his furrowed brow and frown. "Ne, Aominecchi, do you want to go play basketball after work?" He asked, wanting to cheer his friend up. Of course, Kise had also been devastated to have seen Kuroko's state last night, but the event had impacted Aomine and Akashi far more than anyone else.
"I'm already tired Kise, no thanks." Aomine said with a disheartened tone.
"I know! I'll make Aominecchi his favourite type of coffee to cheer him up then!"
"Kise. We're working. Just shut up and-"
"But there's no-one here Aominecchi~. I'm so bored."
It was then that the sound of the bell hanging on the door rang, indicating a new customer. Kise quickly turned to look at the saviour for his boredom enthusiastically whilst Aomine simply glanced over at the door. Murasakibara did not even bother looking to acknowledge the customer.
When Aomine saw who it was he felt like his heart stopped.
"Aomine you bastard, why haven't you been replying to any of my damn texts or calls! I swear to God I'm going to kill you." Kagami growled at the navy head.
"K-Kagami?" Aomine spoke with wide eyes. Of course, it's been five weeks already dammit. He thought.
The tall red head in front of him was clearly angry, but he also seemed rather emotional and Aomine could just about make out that his eyes were puffy and tinged red as if he'd been crying.
The human began speaking again, in a slightly quieter voice. "I landed back in Japan last night, so of course the first thing I did this morning was go and see where the hell Kuroko is. Do you know what I found? His house covered in 'crime scene do not cross' tape. I thought maybe it was some sort of joke. But then his neighbour came out and told me that the guy living there had been kidnapped by ghouls."
"Please tell me it's a lie Aomine." The look Kagami gave him broke the navy haired ghoul's heart.
There was a short silence before Aomine said "I'm sorry Kagami." As he looked at the ground with a grim expression.
Aomine didn't know what to tell Kagami. He wanted so badly to tell him that the small bluenette was now out of danger and upstairs sleeping, but to do so would require so many explanations that may lead to unwanted questions such as 'how did you fight off ghouls?' and 'why didn't you take him to the hospital or the CCG?' In addition, Kuroko didn't seem to be human anymore and it could be dangerous to let Kagami see him until they fully understood what Kuroko is.
A firm punch to the face from Kagami brought Aomine out of his thoughts.
"Why didn't you call me? Why didn't you tell me?" Kagami's voice started trembling with emotion, having been given confirmation that Kuroko had been taken. As far as he was concerned, being kidnapped by ghouls was as good as a death sentence. There was no coming back from it. He'd never see his shadow again.
Aomine understood that this was probably what the red head was thinking and he realised that he couldn't just leave his best friend to think that their other best friend was dead.
"Kagami, why don't we go for a walk? I'll talk to you about what's been happening."
"Aominecchi…" Kise chirped in nervously.
"Fine then." Kagami replied.
Aomine started heading towards the exit of the café before saying "I'll be back later Kise."
And with that Aomine and Kagami left the coffee shop.
Later the same day, Akashi was still sat by Kuroko in Aomine's room.
Nigou, who had been resting in the ghoul's room, had recently moved over to Akashi's side, curling up next to his knee before falling asleep. The dog, who was usually quite playful had become rather lethargic these past few weeks as he was unable to use his front paw, though Miyaji had been able to set the bone and provided a cast to keep it in place until it had healed fully.
Lightly, the red head began petting the dog as he was reading his book. For some reason Akashi didn't quite understand, it brought him some comfort to have the furball by his side as he watched over the dog's owner.
Thoughts of the previous night were still running around inside Akashi's head. One of the things which had bothered him the most was the fact that Hanamiya had escaped, virtually unscathed. Akashi had let that monster escape alive and now he could be anywhere, plotting yet another vile scheme.
It was during these thoughts that Kuroko once again began murmuring in his sleep. He'd done it multiple times throughout the past night and day and each time it broke Akashi's heart to hear how afraid or saddened Kuroko sounded as he mumbled.
The shorter man was quivering as he slept and Akashi noticed how distressed he seemed to be as Kuroko's brow furrowed deeply and his eyes scrunched up.
"No…Please don't…" He pleaded in his sleep, whimpering like a kicked puppy.
Akashi moved closer to the bed, careful as to not disturb Nigou, in order to sit on the edge of it. He ever-so-gently began combing his hand through Kuroko's hair, which was still bloodied and dirty from Kuroko's time in that wretched cell. They had thought it best to wait until he woke up to bath him and clean him.
The baby blue haired male seemed to be more active than he usually was when he began to stir like this, speaking more clearly and shuffling where he lay. The older ghoul decided to try and talk to his partner in an attempt to provide comfort.
"Tetsuya, it's okay. I'm here now. I won't let them hurt you again. I promise." He said, hoping that his voice would reach Kuroko's consciousness.
When the sleeping man actually stopped whimpering and shaking in his sleep, Akashi wondered if perhaps Kuroko had heard his words and whether Kuroko was maybe beginning to wake.
"Please Tetsuya, please wake up." He whispered to him, desperate for the man to regain consciousness.
And then Kuroko cracked his eyes open, keeping them squinted as they adjusted to the bright room. Akashi was so relieved to see his boyfriend finally begin to wake up that he felt as if he were going to cry. "Tetsuya." He said quietly and hopefully.
Kuroko's eyes immediately looked in the direction of his voice, trying to focus on the man in front of him. "S-Seijuro-kun?" He asked with a raspy voice.
That did it. For the second time since they had brought Kuroko home, hot tears began to fall from Akashi's eyes. He leant in to hug the man lying in Aomine's bed.
"Tetsuya, I'm so sorry." He said, holding the bluenette tightly and resting his chin on Kuroko's shoulder.
Finally Kuroko could start to take in his surroundings. He was lying in a soft, plush bed and all the piercing agony he remembered was now gone, leaving only a dull ache throughout his body.
"Where are we?" He asked, wanting to know the situation.
"We're in my apartment. More specifically, Daiki's room."
"Is everyone okay?" He questioned worriedly.
It fascinated Akashi that Kuroko, who had been screaming in agony upon their finding him, almost instantly asked about whether everyone else were okay. His caring nature would never cease to amaze Akashi. "Everyone is fine Tetsuya."
On hearing this news Kuroko's body completely relaxed.
They lay there simply embracing each other and enjoying the comfort and warmth of the other's body for a few seconds in silence.
"Tetsuya…I'm sorry. I'm so sorry this happened to you." Akashi spoke, his voice almost shivering with emotion.
"It's okay Seijuro-kun. It's not your fault." Kuroko said bluntly.
Akashi wondered whether Kuroko perhaps did not understand the reason he had been taken and tortured so brutally. He pulled back a bit at the teal head's words so he could look into Kuroko's eyes. The sky blue eyes which were now glistening with tears as Kuroko began to cry, a small smile gracing his lips.
"Thank you Seijuro-kun. For saving me again and being here for me." He whispered.
Akashi felt so light seeing the sight. He moved in to press a kiss to Kuroko's forehead. He held it for a moment before moving back to stare into cerulean orbs. "I love you Tetsuya." The red head said, tears still spilling from his eyes as he smiled at the man in front of him.
He meant it. He'd felt drawn to this man ever since he'd first met him. From his good looks to his intriguing personality and kind nature, Akashi had quickly found himself infatuated with the man. He would never have thought it possible that he could fall for someone as fast or hard as he'd fallen for Kuroko Tetsuya, but he had. And whilst he regretted the things which had happened to the beautiful man in front of him, he knew that he would never regret saying those four words to Kuroko.
Kuroko had not expected to hear those words from the ghoul but it warmed his heart to have had Akashi say them to him. To realise that perhaps he really was special and important to the red head, just as Akashi was special and important to him. "I love you too Seijuro-kun." He said as he moved to sit up, so their faces were centimetres apart.
The cardinal haired ghoul then pulled him into a kiss. He poured all of his emotions into that one, passionate kiss. His love and fear and relief all converging and Kuroko reciprocated all of those feelings in returning the kiss, moving a hand to cup the other's face as both clung to each other, not wanting to ever let go.
END OF CHAPTER