"A person must remember that he must die."
It started out simple. They were all best of friends whom they had known since they were just babies. They were all connected in a way. They believed nothing could break them apart; that what they had would last for eternity.
They all had a special something in them, and that was the start of what would be known as the Generation of Miracles. The name was proposed by none other than the phantom, whom people could lose sight of, even if he were standing right in front of them.
“I think it fits you very well.” He commented as he suggested the name for the band. Naturally, they all cheered at the idea, knowing how it must have taken him hours to ponder over it. The five prodigies all had a special place for the phantom man in their hearts. He was the one man they could all trust, even if they couldn’t trust each other. He was the glue, the bond of the group. They all loved him, even though they knew he wouldn’t love them back.
So, the group proclaimed themselves as the Generation of Miracles, GoM for short, and soon began their musical career.
It was mentioned before that the five, except for the phantom man, were all prodigies. Not only were they all magnificent singers, they were all gifted with certain instruments. The leader of the group, Akashi Seijuuro, the red-headed emperor, as many nicknamed him, could wield any instrument given to him; he was easily deemed as the best of the prodigies, and even the other four couldn’t deny it.
The main guitarist, Aomine Daiki, a navy haired man whose skin tone was darker than most, had learned to play when he was only two years old.
“Our Daiki is a true prodigy.” His father, a retired rocker, once commented as he saw his baby learning all the chords on his own. He could play anything on the guitar, whether it was classic or rock, just by listening to the piece once. His popularity increased when fans realized he could improvise amazingly that they wouldn’t even know he improvised unless they had heard the original song.
The base was held by Kise Ryouta, or the Blonde Beauty, a nickname that was well deemed. At first glance, many would spot this blond haired man holding the base guitar first and would immediately call him beautiful. Not only did he learn to play the base by just copying someone he saw on TV, but he also had a knack for charming the pants off from anyone, no matter who they were.
The calmer of the group, Midorima Shintarou, a pianist, was often mistaken for classical geniuses such as Mozart or Chopin. His playing would bring anyone to tears and though he was a prodigy just like the others, he never failed to miss practice. He would play for an average of 6 hours and sometimes go over it just to make sure his fans would feel the emotion he was trying to let out. His height and eccentric hair gave more definition to his face and lovely eyes, though it was covered with his glasses most of the time. When he wore contacts though, the fans would all faint.
The drummer of the group could not sing as well as the others, but he didn’t mind because singing caused him annoyance anyways. Murasakibara Atsushi, the well known drummer, started out simple by hitting the trash cans to make a beat. He then showed his skills off at a local music shop and when the store gained popularity because of him, the manager gratefully gave him a free drum set. Their family was the poorest and his father was busy working at the factory. Having this opportunity to save his family, though he mentioned many times that this band was just a pain, was something he absolutely could not give up on. And his fans all appreciated this fact and loved him even more for it. Being the tallest of the group, towering 200 cm, he didn’t mind being at the back of the band. They could still see him clearly and his purple hair did not lessen the attention, only heightened it. When band first started, he refused to sing in any of the songs, asking why he would do such a tedious task when everyone else could sing as well, but when he was asked by the radio station to try a few measures, the audio went viral and fans just couldn’t wait for the next Murasakibara song.
And finally, the phantom sixth man, as many called him. No one noticed him when he was in the stage, and even if they did, they would forget about him immediately, taking more focus on the five at front. He was, in short, a back up. He was average at everything that was thrown to him, whether it was singing or playing instruments. When one couldn’t perform, he would take his place, but would always stay at the back. The five always tried to persuade him to take a bigger step and join them in front. He would always answer back that he belonged in the shadow.
The phantom man never thought of himself as outstanding or amazing like the others. Just like his performances, he thought of himself as average. The others never thought so, and tried desperately to show him that.
They desperately wanted to show him how much they loved him.
But he never responded back.
The Generation of Miracles, after filming a music video on their own and posting it on Youtube, got major hits and a record company soon signed them off. However, they soon ran off angry when they were told that only the five would be signed off and the phantom man would not.
“Please, do not think about me. This something you all wanted since the beginning, isn’t it?” He tried to coax. The others shook their heads vehemently.
“How can you say that, Tetsu?” Aomine responded. “This dream is yours well. If we can all be together, it’d be better to just not get into that company. Besides, if one record company called us, others can, too.” With the others agreeing with the main guitarist, the phantom man couldn’t say no any longer. He gave them a small smile, making the others’ heartbeats race faster, and finally relented.
“You are all very stubborn.” He commented and Aomine ruffled his hair.
“You are the stubborn one, Kuroko.” Midorima said afterwards, pushing his glasses up to hide his forming blush. Kuroko just smiled back, happy to have such amazing friends.
Just as Aomine foretold, a few weeks after they rejected the record company, another came in and accepted everyone for who they were. With joy written everywhere on their faces, the Generation of Miracles started their career at only the age of 16.
They gained popularity incredibly fast and pushed down the veterans by staying in the Top 10 Billboard Charts from the very beginning. They sang, collaborated, appeared in movies and talk shows, and got to do everything they imagined doing in such a short amount of time.
They were getting tired with every second. Tired of the fame and fortune, tired of paparazzi and stalker fans, and most of all, tired of music.
The only one who still believed in it was Kuroko. He felt the change that the Generation of Miracles were going through and was scared for the first time in his life.
“Do you enjoy music?” He onced asked to his band mates, coughing violently afterwards. He had felt something wrong with his boy a few weeks back but never mentioned it to his friends. It must have been the lack of sleep from practicing so much. That was the only reason, wasn’t it?
As he asked, he didn’t even get a small glance from his friends.
“Akashi-kun, please answer me. Do you love music?” He whispered, finding it harder to breath. Akashi lazily looked at the phantom man and shrugged.
“Why should we love music? As long as we’re in the top 10, everything is fine.” The others nodded along. Shocked, Kuroko ran towards his best friend, Aomine, and collapsed in front of him, knees buckling and falling to the ground. He tried to grab his friend’s arm but was only met with the sofa’s leather.
“Aomine-kun, please do not tell me you feel the same way. You love music.” He said but Aomine didn’t answer. Kuroko widened his eyes in shock.
“It is taking everything within me to keep up with all of you. I’ve been losing sleep and eating less to practice more. And -” He was cut off.
“Who said you had go through that much, Tetsu? Huh? We never asked you to keep practicing. Even if you did, you’d never be able to catch up to us. We’re prodigies, you’re not.” He said coldly and that was when Earth’s burden landed on Kuroko’s shoulders.
“Aominecchi, that’s too cold.” Kise tried to intervene but Aomine glared at him.
“Really? If I recall, you were the one whining to us about how Tetsu was just an obstacle to this band.” Kise stopped short.
“I -” He tried to defend but his mouth failed to work on him. He couldn’t deny something that was true. Aomine turned back to Kuroko, who was looking at the ground in complete and utter shock.
“Even if you practiced, you could never perform with us. You’re a back up, not a main performer. You can’t even hold a guitar properly without one of us teaching you. Don’t you understand, Tetsu? It’s been so long since we’ve needed you.” Aomine stopped for a second and Kuroko slowly lifted his head to see Aomine’s hollow eyes.
“I don’t even remember your style of music anymore.”
The room was silent for what seemed like infinity. The words Aomine had uttered stayed with Kuroko and didn’t seem to let go. The others didn’t rebuff him or call him off. They stayed quiet, as if they all agreed with him.
And with that, Kuroko nodded slowly, standing up while doing so. His legs were still shaky and he found that his lungs were closing up.
“... I see.” He said simply and walked out the room. No one followed him and no one even bothered to look at the closing door. They all stayed in their places, looking at their instruments with disgust.
The next day, Kuroko was gone.
The letter came after the Generation of Miracles finished one of their many concerts. Though they were smiling while performing, they couldn’t hide their hollow eyes from the crowd, leaving many to wonder just what happened to the band.
It was a year after Kuroko left the record company. They remembered when their manager, another one of their childhood friends, Momoi Satsuki, just threw papers at their faces. Her face was in tears and left the room to the Generation of Miracles. One by one they grasped the paper and read it twice, once without care, and the next with much more focus.
‘I resign from the band. Signed, Kuroko Tetsuya.’
That was the only words that the paper had. Nothing else.
The saddest part about this was that no one even tried to find him. They had just accepted that he was gone and moved on with their lives. They were still as popular as ever and had no negative change whatsoever.
They still loved him, but that love was disguised with hate of his rejecting them for so long. They had tried to make him understand but he never did. And that made them angry. So angry that when Aomine had voiced their thoughts, seeing Kuroko mentally become broken was pleasing and soothing to them.
A broken heart was a dark, dark place to live in.
After waiting for the staff to pack up and clean the stadium, Momoi entered the room where the Generation of Miracles resided in. In her hand gripped a letter that seemed to have bold red letters printed on it. She threw it to the table that was in the middle of them and didn’t give them another glance.
A year had passed and she still had not forgiven them. They wondered if she ever would.
The five prodigies looked at the letter skeptically. The red lettered read out ‘To GoM: Please Read.’ It was nothing new for them. They had so many fan letters with the same message. They should have just ignored it and went on with their lives.
But it was Momoi herself that delivered the letter, and she had refused to even look at them since the incident.
Finally, after their curiosity all peaked, Akashi took ahold of the latter and carelessly opened it. Out tumbled sheets of paper that were stapled together and Aomine picked it up.
“Read it out loud.” Akashi ordered and Aomine nodded.
‘Generation of Miracles,
It’s been exactly one year. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then I can’t even call you humans. If you do know, then good. You need to know.
You don’t need to know who I am. Frankly, I’d be perfectly fine if you never knew, but my favor to you forbids me to do that. I’ll keep my introduction simple: I’m a friend of Kuroko Tetsuya.’
Everyone in the room sucked in their breaths, shocked as to hearing the forbidden name again. Aomine, startled, instinctively looked at Akashi. He, however, was just as stunned as they were. There was a silence before Akashi told Aomine to read again. The letter was the center of attention now.
‘Do you remember who he is? If not, I’ll remind you.
He was your childhood friend, the glue and bond to your friendship. He thought and still thinks of himself as an average person, even though he’s not. He’s stubborn as a bull, invisible as a ghost, and has the biggest heart anyone has ever seen. He always thinks about others and as a result, he neglects both himself and his body. Instead of worrying about himself, he worries about others. Not even when his breath is obviously growing shorter, or when his body becomes weaker and weaker every second. Not when he can’t eat anymore because his body rejects it, or when he suddenly collapses and doesn’t wake up for three whole days.
Do you remember now?
I hope you do because here comes the favor I mentioned before.’
Aomine stopped short after reading the description of Kuroko and looked around. Midorima was holding his lucky item - a frog plush - so tightly it looked like it was going to burst, Murasakibara had stopped chewing and looked like he was going to vomit, Kise was pale as a sheet, and Akashi stayed frozen like a rock. The emperor gazed at the navy-haired man and Aomine gulped. Just what did he mean with Kuroko? Where was this letter going?
‘I need you guys to see Kuroko one more time.
I should explain this a bit more clearly since I know you guys don’t care enough to find out for yourselves. Or did the manager tell you? No, I’m assuming not, since she’s been talking to me, saying that she can’t even look at you guys without thinking about ‘her beloved Tetsu-kun.’
Did you know that she’s been crying every night for the past year?
Apparently she knew that you guys wouldn’t really care about him anymore, so she came to me, a friend who had helped Kuroko since elementary school, when you five were already popular and he was still in the shadow.
I was the one who contacted her, actually. I had still believed that you were all best friends. When I first told her about Kuroko and asked for the Generation of Miracles, she burst into tears, telling me in sobs that you guys broke it off in the most horrible way possible. I then told her everything that had happened in the weeks after he resigned from the band, beginning from when I got a call from Kuroko himself to when I found Kuroko unconscious on the sidewalk while coming home. From then on, the manager and I’ve been talking to each other every day.
But that’s irrelevant to what I’m trying to say, and it is terribly difficult for me, even though I’ve accepted this fate.
Kuroko is dying of cancer and doctors say he only has a few months left to live.’
“What?” Kise yelled in absolute horror and Aomine almost dropped the letter from the shock. It wasn’t possible, was it? Kuroko dying? It couldn’t have been.
“Akashicchi, tell me it’s not true!” Kise begged as he fell to his knees. Akashi stayed quiet the entire time but he finally looked at Aomine.
“Keep reading.” Aomine’s throat felt extremely dry.
“I don’t think I can.” He responded.
“Tetsu’s not dying. It’s a prank. It has to be. We’ve known Tetsu since we were practically babies. He’s healthy!”
“Daiki, I’m not going to repeat myself. Keep reading.” With one last looked at the main vocalist and the rest of the group, Aomine nodded and swallowed to try and regain his voice.
‘The doctors are doing all they can to help him but it’s a rare type, one that they’ve never seen before. It wasn’t something that could easily be detected because the symptoms don’t show until time comes. The doctors theorized that his symptoms occurred due to immense stress in such a small amount of time. I theorized that he got that stress because of his resignation and the causes that led up to that particular action.
I don’t know what you guys did to him and Kuroko won’t tell me anything that’s remotely relevant to the GoM, but I know that you guys are what triggered his cancer. Sure, the symptoms would have arisen sooner or later but doctors explained that Kuroko would have been able to live longer than the age of 23.
Guess what? If you didn’t understand by the tone of this letter or what I just wrote now, I’m blaming you for Kuroko’s illness. You could at least have the decency to see him one more time. Even though doctors predicted his time of death, they pre-cautioned us that any day could be his last.
If you have any heart, any heart at all, you’ll come see him. He doesn’t say anything about you five, but I know from his eyes that he regrets what happened. It probably wasn’t his fault in the first place, but if we know him, we can all agree that he takes things to heart and even imagines everything to be his fault when it’s not.
Attached to this letter is not only the address of the hospital where he’s staying at, but a recent photo we took. If you even remember Kuroko at all, you’ll see just how much he’s changed in just a year.
I really do hope you take into consideration this one favor of mine because I can see the light in his eyes dim every day.
I really hate to say this but here goes: Kuroko once told me he missed you guys. And he told me that he was sorry he was ever a burden, whatever that means. Come here and at least tell him that that’s not true, not true at all.
Signed, Ogiwara Shigehiro’
As Aomine finished reading the person’s name, Kise stood up from his crouching position and took the letter away from him.
“Oi!” Aomine but didn’t force him to give it back. Kise hurriedly flipped the page that uncovered the address of the hospital and analysed it.
“It’s about an hour away from where we are. Akashicchi, we need to see him!” Kise said as he began to take a picture, just in case they lost the paper
“Our next concert begins in three hours, Kise. How do you expect us to -” Midorima started to say but Kise cut him off.
“I don’t care about the stupid concert! We need to see Kurokoc - ” Just as he was about to finish Kuroko’s name, he flipped to the last page and gasped audibly. The letter then fell from his trembling hands and everyone was exposed to the next photo.
It was Kuroko lying in bed, eyes barely open. Next to him was a man with orange-brown hair, smiling sadly as he put his arms around the almost skeleton-like phantom. He no longer had any hair and there were oxygen tubes grasping his nose and arm. His face was hollow and dark bags covered the bottom of his eyes.
He didn’t even look like himself anymore.
Machines surrounded them and his heart rate was barely fluctuating. Kuroko looked tired, so tired. But even so, he lifted the ends of his mouth slightly to smile as much as he could.
The orange haired man looked like he was about to cry.
Murasakibara was the first to react. He stood up abruptly and headed for the bathroom behind them. They could hear him vomit what he had ingested a few minutes back. Midorima ripped the plush without meaning to, its cotton remains scattering on the ground. Kise was still frozen except the hand that had grasped the letter. It was trembling so badly, people might have thought he was having a seizure. Aomine looked like he couldn’t even breath. Staring at the photo that had the man who had once been his best friend, he admitted that even he couldn’t recognize him that well anymore. If it weren’t for those flash of baby blue eyes, he would have deemed this person a stranger, and that angered him to no end. Akashi stared at the photo silently, but his eyes said differently. His heterochromatic eye flickered, and maybe it was the trick of the light, but for a second, the orange colored eye seemed red, just like his other eye color.
“A-Akashicchi…” Kise whispered as he fell to the ground, next to the photo. With his still trembling hand, he tried to caressed the face that was Kuroko and he felt his eyes grow wet. Murasakibara came back from the bathroom but looked green with sickness. He held his stomach that grumbled angrily and looked at Akashi with puppy eyes.
“We have to see Kuro-chin.” He said simply and sat next to Kise, not taking his eyes off the picture, though he looked like desperately wanted to. Midorima looked at the two people and lifted his head up, not wanting the people to see his own eyes watering.
“Akashi, we can make it. If it’s only an hour’s way, we can see Kuroko for about 30 minutes and come back before the concert starts.” He proposed.
Aomine was doing nothing but whispering Kuroko’s name continuously. He seemed to be in an internal chaos, and it looked like no one but himself could take him out of it. Akashi gazed at the four before landing his eyes once more on the photo.
Then, he made his decision.
Akashi ordered Tsukiyama, his personal driver, to get to the hospital as fast as he could. As a result, they arrived in just 45 minutes. The rushed to the doors of the hospital and Kise asked the nurse at the reception hurriedly where Kuroko Tetsuya resided at.
The nurse just shook her head, not at all charmed by the presence of the Generation of Miracles, and told them that Kuroko Tetsuya was not accepting visitors at this time. Aomine protested fervently, demanding her to give them the room number but the nurse was relentless. Time was ticking and Akashi was just about to the enter the commotion when a man peered from the corner and asked what all the ruckus was about. The nurse gestured to the five and the man’s eyes widened.
“So, you came.” He said simply and it was then that the GoM figured out who he was.
“Ogiwara Shigehiro?” Midorima asked and the man nodded slowly, though there was a grim expression on his face.
“We came just as soon as we read the letter. Is - Is Kurokocchi really…” Kise started to say but Ogiwara was nodding halfway through, already knowing what he was going to ask. Kise, in turn, turned around to not let anyone see his crumbling face.
“We want to see him.” Aomine demanded and Ogiwara narrowed his eyes at the tanned man.
“You’re Kuroko’s best friend, I’m guessing?” He asked skeptically and Aomine felt a huge blow to his heart.
“I -” He tried to defend himself but failed to do so. Ogiwara cringed slightly at Aomine’s dejected face and gestured them to follow him.
“I never would have told you all this if it weren’t for Kuroko’s wanting to see you guys. I’ll keep this simple: You never deserved someone like him.” Ogiwara commented before he stopped in front of a newly painted door. The Generation of Miracles couldn’t even counter his words because they all knew it was true.
They really didn’t deserve someone like him.
Before Ogiwara opened the door, he turned around and looked at the five with sad eyes.
“The picture I attached to the letter was taken just a few weeks ago. Don’t be surprised on what you see, ok? Just… Just be there for him.” His voice cracked at the end and the five all nodded, fearing the worst.
Ogiwara knocked on the door slightly.
“Kuroko? It’s me, Shige. I have some friends who want to see you. Can we come in?” He asked and they all to strain their ears for a response. After a minute or so, Ogiwara nodded and opened the door.
“Did you hear anything?” Kise asked Aomine and he shook his head. They looked at Akashi and he nodded, signifying that there was, in fact, an answer, and that it was very, very weak.
As Ogiwara carefully opened the door, they peered in and saw the machines that were in the photo surrounding the single bed.
“Hey, Kuroko. You hanging in there?” Ogiwara asked as he slowly walked up to the person lying on the bed. Kuroko opened his eyes, which looked like a lot of effort to him, and tilted his head to Ogiwara, acknowledging his presence.
“Hello, Ogiwara-kun.” He whispered and Ogiwara was quick to detect the dryness in his voice. He took the kettle that was on the table next to him and poured warm water into the cup. He then rushed over to Kuroko’s side and lifted his head up slightly. Kuroko, in turn, opened his mouth and let the water pour. He relished the feeling and made great efforts to swallow.
It was then that he noticed the other people in the room.
There was an impenetrable silence as the man lying on the bed looked at each and one of the Generation of Miracles with an unreadable expression in his eyes. The five, in turn, either averted their eyes in guilt or stared head on, still feeling guilt but also an unmeasurable amount pain in their hearts.
And then, he spoke.
“I believe I am already on my last breath, Ogiwara-kun. Surely, they can’t be who I think they are.” He said to Ogiwara, monotone as always but with slight shock mixing his voice. Ogiwara shook his head and patted his head.
“You’re not dying just yet, Kuroko. And you’re not hallucinating either. They’re really here, in the flesh.” He responded and Kuroko diverted his attention back to the five who were standing awkwardly in front of the door. He then lifted his hand with much effort and gestured them to come closer, to where he was. The five were hesitant at first but with the approval of the orange-haired man, they walked up to the dying phantom.
Silently, in the midst of this happening, Ogiwara walked to the corner of the room, picked up a cam recorder from the table and pressed record. The red button flashed at the edge of the screen and he started filming the scenery in front of him.
Kuroko waited patiently for them to approach and when they did, he looked at Aomine, his best friend. Aomine’s breath hitched as Kuroko again made the gesture for him to come closer. Haltingly, the tanned man leaned in closer to Kuroko and Kuroko gently put his hand on his cheek, caressing it slightly.
Kuroko’s breath stopped for a moment, alarming everyone in the room, but then he sighed and closed his eyes. When he opened them again, there were tears trailing down his cheeks.
“Everyone… It really is you.” He whispered and, as if a spell had been broken, the five simultaneously started crying with him, immense woe and grief that stored in their hearts pouring out all at once.
The Generation of Miracles embraced the skeleton-like phantom and all murmured that they were so, so sorry. In return, Kuroko only smiled at them and told them that it was ok.
“You’re like this because of us.” Kise hiccuped and Kuroko patted him on the head.
“I am like this because of my disease. It has nothing to do with you.” He answered back, making Kise spill more tears than before.
“When were you diagnosed?” Midorima had to ask.
“I refuse to answer that, Midorima-kun.” Kuroko said, but gave him a sympathetic glance, making Midorima cough to hold back any more tears he had.
“Kuro-chin, are you eating?I brought some Pocky if you want some.” Murasakibara said, all traces of his childness gone. Kuroko shook his head.
“I am not hungry, but thank you, Murasakibara-kun.”
“But Kuro-chin, you’re too skinny.” He whined, wanting so badly to make Kuroko eat something.
“My body refuses to take in any food now. Even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t be able to digest it. I would end up vomiting it all, and I don’t want to do that, especially with something you have offered kindly to me.” Kuroko replied and Murasakibara lowered his head onto the bed. Kuroko patted him on the head softly, making Murasakibara lean in to his touch.
He then looked at the remaining people of the Generation of Miracles, Aomine and Akashi, who didn’t seem to budge from their places. Their faces were also marred with tears but none had the tendency to move. Aomine had moved away after Kuroko finally realized that he wasn’t dreaming, but wanted nothing more but to go back to that same spot. Akashi, on the other hand, didn’t know what to do. He was one to know everything, to know how to deal with even the most difficult situations with ease, but here he was, having no idea what to do.
You couldn’t cure cancer. Not yet. Especially not cancer as rare as this one.
It make Akashi so angry. He didn’t know what to do anymore. He just didn’t know.
Ogiwara looked at the two and sighed. It was obvious that they were having severe conflicts inside of them. Quietly, he snuck up on them and with a loud “Heave, ho!”, he pushed the two with all his strength. They, not expecting the push, stumbled and stopped right beside Kuroko. The others had moved away, knowing that it was their time to apologize.
Aomine’s mouth seemed to be glued shut. He begged Kuroko to help him with his eyes and Kuroko caught the look. He smiled tenderly and shook his head.
‘No, you do not need to apologize. It is not your fault.’ Kuroko seemed to say with his body and Aomine fell to his knees. Akashi took that moment to finally move for himself and stood in front of Kuroko.
“Why didn’t you tell us?” He demanded, crying while doing so.
“I do not know what you mean.” Kuroko replied simply.
“This.” Akashi gestured to the whole room. “Why didn’t you tell us the moment you were admitted to the hospital and was diagnosed? Were we not important to you enough?” He said out of impulse and immediately regretted it. Kuroko was silent for a moment before answering.
“I had believed that you would have not minded either way.” Even with that plain response, everyone could hear the hurt. He had not told them because he believed that they didn’t care about him enough to let them know.
They all felt daggers stab their hearts.
“But what is done is done, Akashi-kun. It is all in the past. There is nothing to worry about anymore.” Kuroko added and Akashi touched Kuroko’s hollow cheek delicately.
“I am so sorry for what we did to you, Tetsuya.”
“You did nothing at all. You have no blame.”
Aomine, who was still on the ground, found himself standing up all of a sudden, and his face looked tortured.
“Why? Why you? Why did this happen to you?” He demanded, looking upwards, and clenched his fists so tightly it was a surprise he didn’t draw blood. He looked back down and choked on his tears as he saw Kuroko gesturing him to come forward again. He complied immediately and Kuroko touched his cheek once more.
“Life is cruel, Aomine-kun.” He said softly and Aomine nodded without hesitation.
“It is, Tetsu. It really is.” Kuroko’s hand stopped moving and Aomine glanced at the smaller man to see why he stopped. Kuroko stared back at him and one more single tear escaped his eye.
“Can you… Can you say my name again?” He whispered and Aomine’s heart shattered.
“Tetsu, Tetsu, Tetsu. I’ll say it as many times as I can.” He said as he hugged the phantom man whose breath was subtly getting shallower.
The maximum time they could be in the hospital was one hour. After that, the Generation of Miracles needed to go back and get ready for their next concert. However, even as the minutes started ticking, the five didn’t seem to look like they wanted to budge from their place.
After the heartfelt reunion, the five cuddled up to Kuroko and started telling him all kinds of stories, such as when Kise had his whole attire ripped off by rabid fans and how Midorima was late to a concert trying to search for his lucky item. Kuroko listened throughout their experiences and more times than not, he laughed with his former companions. They then showed him a funny act, a short comedic musical, and even a stupidly coordinated dance number.
They laughed to no end and they all held a part of Kuroko to make sure he was still breathing and alive.
They didn’t want this day to end.
But the dream shattered when Kise got a call from their other manager, not Momoi, telling them they had to come back fast.
“Can’t we stay a bit longer?” He begged but the manager seemed relentless.
“The concert is only 45 minutes away. You’ve overstayed. We need to do your makeup and make sure the mics are working and everything. We need you to come now.”
“Come back now!” The manager roared and ended the call. Kise looked helplessly at the others and Akashi started dialing the manager’s number. However, Kuroko grasped Akashi’s wrist at the last second, preventing him to call.
“Go. Your fans need you, after all.” He said.
“But we want to be with you.” Akashi replied sorrowfully. Kuroko shook his head and gave him a small smile.
“I am not leaving anytime soon. Go.” He persuaded and though the five looked immensely reluctant, they started to slowly walk away.
“Don’t you dare leave us again, do you understand me?” Aomine said before leaving the room. Kuroko nodded and waved goodbye, a smile still on his face.
“Promise me.” He ordered. Kuroko then turned his head to face straightforward, the strain on his neck too much for him now, and nodded once more.
“I promise, Aomine-kun. I will never leave you all again.” He said and with one last glance, Aomine closed the door behind him. Silence ensured.
Ogiwara stepped up and walked over to Kuroko who was slowly closing his eyes again. The camera still recording, he sat on the bed next to him and directed the camera to him.
“Are you ok?” He asked and Kuroko nodded, eyes still closed.
“I am. Just a bit tired.” He responded.
“I can imagine. It must have been surprising to see your friends again.”
“Yes, it was. How did you get them to come here?” He asked and Ogiwara laughed awkwardly.
“Nothing escapes you, does it, Kuroko?”
“I know you do what you can to help me, Ogiwara-kun.”
“Yeah, looks like it.” He smiled tenderly at Kuroko and Ogiwara hummed through his nose.
“It was nice, seeing them again. I wondered how they were doing.” Kuroko said.
“Are they doing ok?” Ogiwara asked and Kuroko nodded.
“They are. But I do not know for sure. Do you think they’re loving music again?” He asked and Ogiwara tilted his head.
“I don’t know. It seemed like it, though, seeing as they made all those goofy performances for you.” Kuroko smiled and laughed for a bit before coughing violently. Ogiwara, startled, stood up and rushed over to the kettle. He put the camera which was still recording on the table, where it could still see the phantom, and quickly poured water.
Kuroko gratefully took the cup and drank all of it slowly, as if he were savoring each sip.
“Thank you Ogiwara-kun.”
“No problem. Are you sure you’re ok?” Ogiwara asked, worry evident in his tone and Kuroko nodded.
“Yes, I am fine. Just tired.” He answered again and Ogiwara nodded hesitantly. Silence surrounded them once more and Ogiwara looked at Kuroko with uncertainty. Then, Kuroko spoke.
“I really wish their love for music would come back.”
“Well, I’m sure it will.” Ogiwara answered and Kuroko nodded. He then closed his eyes once more and sighed deeply.
“Memento Mori.” He suddenly said and Ogiwara looked at him in confusion.
“Memento Mori. I have read about it once. It apparently means that a person must remember that he will die.” He explained and Ogiwara felt something sink in his gut.
“Kuroko?” He asked uncertainly but
Kuroko didn’t seem to be listening.
“‘Do not forget that you will die someday, and as such, that is all the more reason to live now.’” He continued and he suddenly began to cry with tears streaming down his face. Ogiwara stood up immediately, shocked at what was happening, and quickly moved closer to Kuroko.
“Kuroko, what’s wrong? Do you feel pain? Are you hurt?” He bombarded but didn’t get a response. Instead, Kuroko opened his eyes to reveal grief and sorrow.
“I am so sorry, Ogiwara-kun. It seems I cannot keep my promise anymore.” He whispered.
“Wait, what? What are you talking about? Hey, Kuroko, stay with me here! Nurse! Nurse!” Ogiwara yelled to the top of his lungs and cradled Kuroko’s head as he started crying as well.
“Kuroko? Oi, Kuroko! Answer me, dammit! Answer me!” Ogiwara begged but he got no response.
Kuroko just wasn’t opening his eyes.
“Ogiwara-kun?” He then heard Kuroko whisper and whipped his head to look at the man whose baby blue eyes seem to dull even further.
“Kuroko, just hang in there, ok? The doctors will be here any second, ok? Just… Just hang in there!” Ogiwara pleaded but Kuroko looked distant, as if Ogiwara’s words were lost in the wind.
“Can you… Can you please tell them… That I loved them as well? Please?” Kuroko asked softly while some of his tears landed on Ogiwara’s hands. Ogiwara didn’t answer Kuroko, only looked at him with horrified eyes.
This could not be happening. Not now. Not when they weren’t here to see what was happening to their most cherished friend.
He cried out once more for the nurses and they barged into the room in disarray. He begged them to help the man that was in his arms.
But it was too late.
The machine that contained the beating of Kuroko’s heart converted to a straight line and the battery from the camera died as the red blinking light that signified its life dimmed away.
The Generation of Miracles never imagined to have finished a concert in such a short time. Normally, it would last about 2 to 3 hours with fans screaming for encores and the five giving it to them freely. Today, however, was not the time. The five finished their ordered songs as quickly as they could, not thinking for a second to have a rest or to sing more after their limit was done. The fans were all disappointed but the five didn’t have a care in the world.
They had a special someone they had to revisit after all.
The Generation of Miracles waved their fans goodbye as the curtains closed and they went backstage, wiping the sweat off their necks with the towels given to them as they entered. They all swifty changed back into their casual clothes and didn’t bother erasing the makeup. Time was precious and they wanted - no, needed - to go and see Kuroko again.
Just as Akashi was about to call for Tsukiyama, the pink-haired manager barged into their dressing room with tears running down her face. The five looked at each other with worried eyes.
Something was wrong.
She had her phone clutched to her right and ran to Aomine’s arms. He looked shocked as he took her in and patted her back awkwardly. It must have been years since she did this kind of thing.
“Satsuki, what’s wrong?” He whispered to her, confused as to what was happening.
“Dai-chan, what are we going to do?” Momoi sobbed as she pushed her phone into Aomine’s grip. He lifted it up to see what the screen had and it showed a text message from none other than Ogiwara.
He then gasped loudly and the phone dropped to the floor. Unconsciously, he curled his back and started to sob on Momoi’s shoulder. Akashi then reached for the phone and read the message once before falling to the ground.
The others took their time to do the same once they read what was written on the screen.
Momoi was right.
What were they going to do?
‘Kuroko passed away. I’m so sorry.’ - Ogiwara Shigehiro
The crowd started to shout and cheer as five shadows entered the scene. They took their places and the main singer of the group, the red-haired emperor, greeted the audience with open arms, making the people below the stage go wild. The lights from above turned on, showing the Generation of Miracles clearly. They all waved at their fans and in turn, the fans all clapped with joy. The background music that was playing lowered significantly and the four who were behind Akashi stepped up to be in line with him. As they did, Akashi took the microphone again.
“So, you may have all been wondering where we’ve been for the past 2 years or so, and well, we’ve been through some very rough times.” Akashi started. “Not necessarily having bad times with the rest of the group, because, contrary to popular belief, we’ve been closer than ever.
“There was a big reason on why the Generation of Miracles was put on hiatus, and that reason is that we lost someone very important to us back then. He was the bond and glue to our group, and he was even the one who named us.But, like complete idiots, we ended up losing our way and as a result, he ended up resigning, to get away from the monsters we had become.
“Turns out, he had a rare type of cancer that couldn’t be cured. It affected him horribly and by the time we got to see him again, it was too late. He passed away during the last concert before our halt, and we’ve been a wreck since.”
Akashi took this time to pause, recalling all the horrible memories of Kuroko’s funeral, the cruel fight that happened among the five which began with harsh words, involved fist fights, and ended with the big mirror in the dressing room shattering to pieces, and the absolute unwillingness to move forward. He closed his eyes and bit his lip, trying to refrain himself from crying in front of his fans. The others seemed to do the same, as Kise choked on his almost revealed tears, Midorima looked away, Murasakibara held his stomach while clenching his other hand, and Aomine just straight out glaring at the sky.
The audience and the paparazzi, who were listening intently at Akashi’s words, looked like they were tearing up as well, as if the five’s anguish was directly portrayed to them. Akashi then took a deep breath and started again.
“After a year without even touching our instruments, our manager, Momoi Satsuki, came to us with a package by someone we never thought we’d see since that terrible day. We opened it and it turns out that it was a DVD with the words, ‘Memento Mori.’ When we hit play, the DVD contained our last day with our beloved friend in the hospital, where we made fools of ourselves and relieved all our happy memories with each other. We didn’t know we were being recorded but I can’t thank the person enough for doing so. We’ve been through so much together and there isn’t a day when we don’t regret what we did that day when we blurted out words we never even meant. This song is in memory of Kuroko Tetsuya, who will never leave our hearts until the day we die. When we do, we hope to see him again in the afterlife.
“This is Memento Mori. Please enjoy.” And with that, the Murasakibara headed to the drums and let out the first beat. Kise immediately picked on the melody with his base as well as did Midorima on the piano. Aomine waited a few more beats before he strummed the first note on the classical guitar and Akashi placed the microphone back on the stand.
Behind them, a screen was lowered and started projecting the beginning of the hospital visit two years back, when Kuroko motioned Aomine to come closer to touch his cheek and then cried, saying that it was really them.
“Everyone… It really is you.”
Akashi closed his eyes and poured his heart out into the lyrics they made together after a weeks in receiving the DVD.
‘Can you hear this song, Tetsuya? It’s for you.’ He thought as the video kept playing and the five sang along with him.
The mass of people took their time in watching the video instead of the five who were playing. It was not their choice, really. The song was so beautifully made, something they haven’t heard of since their debut as the Generation of Miracles, that they just needed to know how and what happened to make them change so drastically. However, as they kept watching the video on the big screen, most couldn’t help but tear up whenever they saw the thin man laugh and smile as he saw the five really make fools of themselves.
And almost all started to cry fiercely when the Generation of Miracles were forced to leave to start their next concert.
“ I will never leave you all again.”
Aomine closed his eyes in hopes that he wouldn’t show his own tears. That promise they made was supposed to last forever. He wasn’t supposed to leave so early, not when they had just begun on the right path again.
‘Life really is cruel, Tetsu.’ He thought bitterly and took the final verse of the song.
The video shifted to only Ogiwara and Kuroko now, Kuroko closing his eyes and telling his orange-haired friend that he was tired and the overall healthy looking man gazing at him with sad eyes.
“I really wish their love for music would come back.”
‘Your wish came true.’ The five thought simultaneously as the song was coming to an end. Akashi slowly stepped away from the microphone and the only people playing was Aomine with his skills on the classical guitar, Midorima playing saddening melodies on his grand piano, and Murasakibara decreasing his sound on the drums.
“Memento Mori. I have read about it once. It apparently means that a person must remember that he will die.”
“‘Do not forget that you will die someday, and as such, that is all the more reason to live now.’”
“Kuroko, what’s wrong? Do you feel pain? Are you hurt?”
“I am so sorry, Ogiwara-kun. It seems I cannot keep my promise anymore.”
“Wait, what? What are you talking about? Hey, Kuroko, stay with me here! Nurse! Nurse! Kuroko? Oi, Kuroko! Answer me, dammit! Answer me!”
“Kuroko, just hang in there, ok? The doctors will be here any second, ok? Just… Just hang in there!”
“Can you… Can you please tell them… That I loved them as well? Please?”
“And I will await you
Until I close my eyes
Let life never die.”
The song came to an end, the video faded into blackness, the whole stadium was in tears, and Aomine let out his last words before the curtains fell.
“We love you too, Tetsu.”