The cycle has come to an end. Aomine blinks and opens his eyes (even though, really, they've been open all this time) to look at defeat for the first time in years. From the crowd, Kise traces idly the curve of his shoulders, sudden softness in his eyes, and flashes back two years ago to when he had looked up with the summer rush of cicadas in his ears and an unfamiliar emotion welling in his eyes at the firebrand of the boy on the court. He wonders if Aomine feels the same way he did. The unexpected tightening in his chest, the tremor to his hands, a sudden inhale of a breath that ached so deeply like taking the first breath of a drowning man.
Aomine back then would have grinned in the face of defeat and demanded another round. Aomine a year ago would have turned his back on Kuroko's offered hand and left with the detached disappointment of a man watching an ant burn. But Aomine here and now exchanges a few words years overdue with Kuroko and Kise watches the soft smile steady itself on Kuroko's face. It hits him then that they've changed. All of them. Kise, himself, a year ago would have stifled the selfish sting of hurt that came with the realization that in the end it was Kuroko that reached Aomine when no one else could. But he looks at Kasamatsu standing next to him, head tilted upwards, who turns to look at him with a knowing glance, and finds nothing but satisfaction.
(It's not until weeks later that he gets to speak with Aomine again. He walks out of the gym after practice, nursing a welt on his head from a well-placed ball Kasamatsu-senpai had sent wailing at his head, and sees Aomine lounging outside the locker room on his phone. And when he turns in disbelief at the strange apparition outside Kaijou high, Aomine's eyes flicker up, lips curling up in a roguish grin. "Oi Kise, long time no see.")
You're up airplanewishes!