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Nighthunters: A Strange Twist of Fate

By starian_nightzz

Drama / Romance

Let's Meet Again

Summary:

Nighthunters sequel. Set in PoM/Nighthunters Universe. It had been more than 2000 years since the age of the monarch—during the time of the Teiko Kingdom when the sacrifices of five people saved an entire nation. And by some strange twist of fate, all the Royal Guard could remember their past lives and who they have been. All but two of them. Reincarnation AU. Midorima/Fem!Kuroko

Here you go—the sequel to Nighthunters and a continuation of Nighthunters: Last Words. It isn't really necessary for you to read my two other works in the Nighthunters series to get an understanding of how it works, but if you want a better understanding of the universe and what they've been through in their past lives, then yes, I would recommend that you read it first—especially if you're new to the series.

Originally, when I've started planning out the multi-chapter story for Nighthunters: Last Words, I wasn't planning to have all of them remember their past lives during the age of the monarch (the age of Teiko Kingdom). In fact, I was originally planning to have them restart their lives all over. However, it might fit the reincarnation theme better if some of them remember. And I thought it would be wholly ironic that everyone but Tamaki and Midorima remember—two of the people who have brought about so much changes and good to the Teiko Kingdom.

Anyway, the 'modern universe' will take place in the Princess of Miracles universe, only with very slight changes. Aomine will still be a bit of an asshole in this story. My apologies to all Aomine fans.

Pairings: Midorima/Tamaki

Warnings: AU Universe. OOC. Gender swap. Nice Akashi. Graphic violence. Character deaths.

Disclaimer: I do not own Kuroko no Basuke and any of the characters, but the OC characters belongs to me

Chapter One: Let's Meet Again

"We'll see each other again." - Unknown

XXXXXX

"…I see…" Akashi Seijuro, the Prince—or rather, King of Teiko Kingdom looked concerned and bothered, curling his fingers together on the table before him.

No one had known what this is about when Kuroko Tamaki, Commander of Teiko's militia had suddenly asked for a closed door session with the King and a few other trusted individuals—Mayuzumi Chihiro, Ogiwara Shigehiro, Haizaki Shogo, Takao Kazunari and Imayoshi Shoichi. Save for Mayuzumi Chihiro who had been the King's personal bodyguard (and only on the insistence of Tamaki as no one had trusted him due to the fact that he had once served the Red King during the civil war), the remaining four have been either Lieutenants, Captains or even Lance Corporals—leaders of their own teams or divisions within the Teiko militia.

As it isn't like Tamaki to call for a closed door session, the King had abided by her request, and had used the conference room usually used for militia meetings or even for a meeting with the members of the Parliament. Following that, Kuroko Tamaki had then shown them the last letter that Midorima Shintaro had left for her—hidden at the back of the photo of the both of them during their Academy graduation.

The faces of all five have paled when the implications of the actions of the four were thus made clear—the former Commanders of the Royal Guard—members of the Generation of Miracles.

Though now that they come to think of it, it all makes sense now. After all, the former Commanders of the Royal Guard have once been declared as heroes to the people of the Teiko Kingdom. Everyone loved them, and the soldiers all aspired to be like them one day. It all makes sense now why they do what they did.

To clean out the corruption that had already taken foot in Teiko Kingdom for decades, they need to play the bad guy.

Tamaki knows that better than anyone else.

Her Intelligence Division had often been tasked with jobs like that. There were several 'traitors' throughout the history of Teiko Kingdom that had been hunted down and executed as traitors that were in reality, the true heroes of the nation. The heroes that could never be publically acknowledged.

Like what Tamaki had told Himuro Tatsuya a long time ago, they won't be the first to undertake assignments like that, and they won't be the last either. It is a dirty and thankless job, but someone has to do it. All in the name for the protection and the peace of the nation.

"…It all makes sense now." Takao said, ashen faced, clenching his hands into fists before him on the table.

"To start with, it doesn't make sense in the first place!" Shigehiro almost growled upon realising just how much his…friends have sacrificed just to make sure that their kingdom could live in peace. "I've wondered more than once just why they have turned against us. If Tamaki and Midorima could tell that the Red King isn't the real Prince at all after just a few weeks, then surely they could as well? We grew up together with the Prince. No one knows him better than us. No imposter can get past us. So it explains that." Shigehiro glared at his clenched fist. "They planned everything. Right down to the last detail. They were all prepared to die."

"Damn it!" Haizaki thumped the surface of the table with his fists, making everyone jump. "Why did they never talk to us about it? We would have helped them!"

Imayoshi closed his eyes briefly before opening them again and looking at Tamaki and the King. If he who had never been really close to any of the commanders save for Tamaki who had actually personally recruited and groomed him, Wakamatsu and Susa into the soldiers that they are today felt this way after listening to this, then how much worse would it be for Tamaki and the King?

Those six are childhood friends. They grew up together.

"…What are we going to do about this?" Mayuzumi asked the question that is currently on everyone's minds.

What are they going to do about this? Should they go public with this piece of information—declaring to the general public that the Generation of Miracles have never betrayed them at all? That they are true heroes in every sense of the word? Much like how the Red King had been for them?

Kuroko Tamaki shut her eyes and didn't say anything. She kept every feeling and emotion deep within her. Wishing for just a moment that the civil war had never happened—that her friends had came to her about this. Then just maybe—

Logically, much like when the Red King—Seiki had died, even though Tamaki, Shigehiro, Shogo and Seijuro knew the truth about his actions, they can't say anything. The backlash and outcry of the general public would destroy the kingdom should this get out.

Much like with Seiki, this time, they can't say anything either. They can't declare her friends—the Generation of Miracles as the true heroes of the nation. If they do, it might just be the thing that will destroy Teiko. They have to honour them as the heroes of the shadows of the nation—with the truth kept to a minimal few, with no records anywhere—

Because the world was just this fucking unfair.

XXXXXX

~Shutoku High School; April 2008~

Takao Kazunari hmmed to himself as he made his way towards his new classroom after having checked the freshmen class listings outside the teachers' lounge. The teen tugged at his collar, loosening the tie even as he made his way towards his classroom, passing by all the excited students of Shutoku High with their untucked shirts and even shorter than as permitted by the school rules skirts.

His sister had even commented at one time that Kazunari is almost like an old man with his manner of thinking at times.

…Clearly, reincarnation doesn't work the way that Takao wished it did.

There are times when he'd wished that he had never remembered his past life at all—especially during the nights when he'd woken up from some nightmare as a result of his memories from his past life. And there are also times when he wouldn't have given up his memories during his time as a soldier during the age of the monarch for anything in the world.

Like so many of the others, Takao had remembered everything that had happened. It had confused his parents in the beginning when he was a toddler and learning to speak in complete sentences. After that however, Takao knew better than to speak of his past life if he doesn't want his parents to check him into a mental hospital.

He'd met the others throughout the years as well—and ironically, all those that have remembered were just the people that were part of the rebel group Phantom during the time of the civil war. And by some strange twist of fate, all of them were basketball players.

Kind of.

He'd met Otsubo-san and the others first of all—during his first middle school basketball game. It is almost funny to see Otsubo-san with that dumbfounded look on his face as he stared at Takao as if he couldn't believe his eyes, and Miyaji-san looks as if he'd just bitten into a lemon.

And honestly, Takao had to admit that being a teenager all over again is almost strange, especially considering that all of them had the mentalities of war veterans still. But thanks to the relaxing and peaceful lifestyles that all of them now had in this new world and age where they don't have to worry about wars and battles, Takao never saw any of his old friends and comrades act like their old selves.

Takao himself had treasured his own relationship with his parents and his younger sister in this lifetime. During the time of the monarch, his parents were killed when he was barely fourteen, with him and his sister taken away by different slave traders after that. He was lucky at that time—Midorima and Tamaki have saved him and gave him a place within the Royal Guard. Takao had spent years after that searching for his missing sister only for Susa to tell him years later that his sister was sold to a brothel as a prostitute before getting murdered by some drug lord for trying to save a little girl who was sold to the same brothel by her gambler father.

He'd met the others in this new lifetime slowly over the years. Imayoshi and the others remembered too. And according to Otsubo-san, Imayoshi is as unpredictable as ever. Loyal though he may be to Tamaki, and a damn good soldier as well, but none of them have ever felt comfortable being in his presence. Probably a side effect from being an Intelligence soldier. That division had more secrets than a cheese has holes!

In fact, nearly all the people who have once been part of the rebel group Phantom had remembered. Even Kasamatsu does, though officially, he is never part of the rebel group, but much like Himuro, had became a spy for Tamaki during the civil war era. It makes Takao wonder if Tatsuya and the Seirin guys would remember—as thus far, they are the only ones whom Takao hadn't met. According to Otsubo however who had ran into them the previous year—and on a basketball court of all things, they do remember.

The shocker of starting a new life is when you met the people whom you'd once idolised on a basketball court as opponents, and they totally slaughtered you without mercy. Honestly however, Takao has no idea whether the Generation of Miracles (they are called that in this lifetime too, ironically!) even remembered. But judging by the apologetic look that the Prince—no, Akashi gave him when they left the court, they do.

Otsubo-san had come to Takao's middle school with Miyaji to scout him for their high school the moment that it came time for them to submit their high school applications. It didn't actually take much for Takao to agree.

And now, the black haired teen is making his way towards his new classroom. Finding the classroom at last, he slid the door opened, and his eyes then went wide when he saw the only two occupants in the room—with the rest of his new classmates no doubt all still lost somewhere.

"Y-You're…!"

Two pairs of eyes looked at him in confusion—a pair of emerald green eyes and a pair of equally confused blue eyes.

Sometimes, reincarnation can really be tiring.

Takao Kazunari placed his bag onto the table in front of the green head (seeing as how it's the only other seat that had a bag on the chair), grinning cheekily at the teal haired girl that is nearly a head shorter than he is sitting by the window seat, with the green head sitting atop her desk.

"Is this seat taken?"

The green head looked at Takao as if he had grown two new heads, looking utterly ridiculous with that green frog toy in his bandaged right hand—and Takao is certain that his hand isn't injured in the least.

"Do you see anyone else around apart from the both of us?"

Now, Takao is more certain than ever that this green head is indeed Midorima Shintaro—just a much younger version of him with quite a mouth on him as well. Is this what a teenage Midorima looks like the last time?

"I take that as a no then." Takao grinned before planting his butt onto his taken desk so that he could talk to the two.

In the window seat, Kuroko Tamaki managed a small amused smile as she witnessed this scene before the smile faded away once more. Takao frowned to himself as saw the expression on her face and even in her eyes.

It is eerily similar to the expression that Tamaki had on her face throughout the civil war the last time when they still believed that the Generation of Miracles were traitors and murderers to their nation and everything that they held dear.

What had happened to put that look back on her face when there is no war and no deaths to worry about this time?

Even Takao had heard a little of what had happened at Teiko, and that something had happened after that championship match. Something that had pissed off the captain and vice-captain of the Generation of Miracles so much that the infamous team split up during high school—something that had pissed them off so much that the top two basketball players of the middle school basketball circuit have almost came to blows with the rest of their team (excluding Midorima who is about the only other decent player in Teiko).

"So." Takao cleared his throat uncomfortably when Tamaki started looking at him with that look—that look that she always had whenever she's trying to figure something out. "I heard it from Otsubo-san already, but he told me that he's scouted you both for the basketball team too?" He asked, trying to make small talk. "And then again, you're both from Teiko, so I'm not surprised."

The two in front of him barely managed to refrain from cringing, and Tamaki managed to smile.

"I guess," she mused. "By the way, what's your name?"

Takao froze, and his eyes widened a slight fraction. For a moment, he scanned both of their faces, trying to determine if they truly have no idea who he is, or if they're just joking. And if it is, it is a very bad joke.

"You're joking, right?"

Tamaki only looked momentarily confused, furrowing her brows together slightly before looking at Midorima in confusion. By this time, more of their new classmates have started pouring into the classroom, and there were loud exchanges of greetings and introductions—but not so loud that Takao couldn't hear what Tamaki and Midorima were saying, and vice versa.

"No." Tamaki shook her head, exchanging confused looks with Midorima before she turned back towards Takao. "Do we know you?"

Takao was speechless for several moments before he found his tongue.

"…Takao Kazunari."

"Nice to meet you." Midorima said solemnly, inclining his head to Takao politely. "It looks like we would be in the same class for the rest of the year, so let's get along with each other."

"Y-Yeah."

Honestly, what is Takao supposed to say to that?

A teacher whom Takao assumed to be their homeroom teacher entered just then, and the teen immediately scrambled off his desk, and sat at his chair instead, waiting as the babbles around him died down, and the teacher started taking roll call.

Quietly, so as to not attract the teacher's attention, Takao slipped his cellphone out from his pocket to send a group message to Otsubo, Miyaji and Kimura—the three whom numbers he had gotten when Otsubo had first scouted him for Shutoku.

To: Otsubo Taisuke | Miyaji Kiyoshi | Kimura ShinsukeFrom: Takao KazunariSubject: Problem

Behind the school at lunchtime ASAP. We got a big problem.

Honestly, this isn't what Takao had in mind when he had said that reincarnation doesn't always work the way that he wants to.

"What do you mean 'they don't remember'? We all do!"

Takao barely rolled his eyes at Miyaji's indignant squawk when the three seniors have met him at the back of the school during lunchtime.

"Yeah well. They don't."

When Takao had sent that frantic message in the middle of class to the three seniors, they have all thought for sure that the world was ending. But well, the news that Takao had brought to them might just be similar to an apocalypse.

Kimura glanced at Otsubo who was the only one out of the four of them who wasn't freaking out, and he sighed. "Otsubo, do you know about this?" he asked the basketball captain.

Three pairs of eyes immediately snapped towards Otsubo, and he sighed, trying not to show that he is uncomfortable with three pairs of eyes practically glaring daggers at him. "…Yes," he said at last. "I went to Teiko with Coach to scout the both of them for Shutoku after all." He added. "I've told Imayoshi about it a while back so it wouldn't be as great a shock for them when they end up running into Tamaki again."

The four teens fell silent once more.

"Actually, I talked to the Prince after my middle school match with Teiko last year." Takao said at last. "According to him, he is the only one out of the six of them who remembered. Not even Tamaki does." He added, remembering how Tamaki had asked him for his name earlier in the classroom.

"What?" Miyaji was dumbfounded.

Otsubo however was nodding solemnly to himself, arms folded across his chest. "I actually met Aida last year after our team's match against Seirin," he said slowly. "We talked a bit. She had a theory why some of us remembered, and some of us don't."

"And that is?"

"…There is a pattern with those who don't remember the past." Otsubo said hesitantly, simplifying what Aida Riko had told him. "Those few who don't remember—they are the ones who have given the most to the kingdom the last time—even willingly giving their lives and their honour as long as the kingdom can be protected and kept safe. At the same time however, it also caused them more pain and grief than any other." He added almost sadly.

There was silence once more.

"…You know, in certain ways, I think that it might be better if Midorima and Tamaki never remember the past." Miyaji said at last. "I don't fully know all the details, but I do know that those two have given so much up during the civil war, and even after that. The past…is too cruel and painful for them—especially during that time period—the age of swords and guns, during a time when it is kill or be killed."

No one can say anything to that, as it is after all true.

"On the other hand however, because they don't remember, they might not be our Midorima and Tamaki." Kimura said gravely.

"Regardless, it is still them." Takao shook his head from side to side. "I made Shin-chan a promise the last time when he'd died—I promised to keep Tamaki safe." His eyes darkened over when he recalled when Midorima had died. "I promised to protect her. I intend to keep that promise even in this lifetime."

"…As do we," said Otsubo heavily. "And I'm sure Imayoshi, Susa and Wakamatsu wish the same thing too. The only thing that they want…is to see their Commander smile once more. And I know that Ogiwara and Haizaki wants the same thing too."

Takao's ears pricked up at the mere mention of Tamaki's childhood best friends. "They're here too?"

"Yes. I scouted them myself." Otsubo nodded. "They agreed after I told them that Tamaki had accepted our offer."

Miyaji then glanced at Takao, a small frown on his lips. "…Takao, do you still like Tamaki?" he asked bluntly.

Takao was taken aback by that question. "O-Of course I like her! I mean—"

Miyaji sighed loudly. "Let me rephrase that question," he said irritably, "do you still love her?"

Takao was silent for a long time before he managed a small sad smile. "…We can never be," he said sadly. "I knew that right from the start. There is only room for one person in her heart, and that person is not me."

"It is also possible that Tamaki not remembering the past could be due to how she'd died." Kimura mused, bringing them back to the topic at hand. "So…" He looked from face to face. "Does anyone know how Tamaki had died?" He enquired with a frown.

Kimura had actually gotten married about two years after the civil war had ended, having met a civilian girl who is also a seamstress in a small town out in the countryside during one of his missions there. He had then requested to leave the Royal Guard after that, telling Tamaki that he had met the love of his life, and had decided to marry her. As he doesn't want to worry his new wife about his safety and well being every single time that he is sent out on a mission, he had decided to retire from being a soldier, becoming a hunter instead.

Miyaji had actually died when his squad is on border patrol duty about a year or so after the civil war. This is when the Kamata West Kingdom had been posing a danger to their lands, and border patrols were increased as a result. Unfortunately for Miyaji however, his squad had the unfortunate luck to run into an entire squad of Kamata West soldiers.

Having been the leader of the squad, Miyaji had ordered his men to make haste for the Royal City of Teiko Kingdom as quickly as they could to give Tamaki the information that Kamata West had infiltrated their borders whilst he took care of the soldiers to protect his men. Miyaji had succeeded in repelling every single enemy soldier, but he had paid for it with his life. A second war against the Kamata West Kingdom had actually broken out after that, and Otsubo had died in said war.

Out of Midorima's original squad, Takao was actually the only one to survive before succumbing to severe pneumonia when he was thirty-three—at that time, pneumonia was a relatively new illness, and most doctors doesn't know how to treat it. And coupled with dengue fever—which again, is also a relatively new illness during the time of the monarch, no one could figure out how to save Takao.

Even still, Takao had actually outlived Tamaki by a few years, as the teal haired female Commander had actually died when she was twenty-five. The entire kingdom had grieved for her when they'd heard. Shigehiro had actually succeeded her as the next Commander, and he had done a pretty good job. Even still, the orange head had actually confided in him and Haizaki once that he could never live up to the work that Tamaki had done as Commander.

Takao was silent for a long time. "…She was protecting the Prince," he answered at last heavily, remembering Shigehiro and Haizaki's screams when it had happened, and the Prince's desperate pleas for his cousin not to leave him as well. "A straggler—one of those believers of the Old Ways whom we thought we had either exiled or executed came seeking revenge because of how we've changed the kingdom. More specifically, he was after the Prince. Mayuzumi was away at that time—he was investigating something for Tamaki in the underground. Tamaki took the blow meant for the Prince. She died at the age of twenty-five—just a mere month before she would have turned twenty-six. Shigehiro took over as Commander after that."

XXXXXX

The splatter of blood could be heard in the cold echoes of the throne room of Teiko Kingdom, along with the crimson red of the life liquid as it splattered onto the red carpets of the throne room—thus staining it red even further as all those present in the throne room – Ogiwara, Haizaki, Mayuzumi and even the King himself watched in almost fascinated horror as Kuroko Tamaki, Commander of Teiko Kingdom's militia threw herself before her cousin—acting as a shield between the King and the assassin even as the sword went through her body like a hot knife through butter.

Kuroko Tamaki coughed out crimson blood, with the red of blood staining the front of her coat, making the material look darker than it already is.

"Tamaki!"

The Commander of Teiko's militia didn't miss a beat as she drew out her blade and struck it straight into the throat of the assassin who couldn't avoid it in time due to his shock at having Tamaki intercept his sword with her own body. Swinging her right foot around, she nailed him straight in the face and sent him flying across the room.

"…H-How could you…possess so much strength?"

Tamaki coughed out more blood, barely able to stand on her own feet even as she tug out the sword from within her body, letting it clatter to the ground with a dull thud.

"…My clan…was trained to be the shields and the weapons for the royal family. We were taught to protect them, no matter what—at the expense of our lives if necessary. You're only strong when you have something to protect. But then again, you can't imagine what that's like, can you?"

Tamaki stumbled backwards, no longer able to stay on her feet. But before she could even hit the ground, Shigehiro caught her.

"Tamaki!"

Haizaki was by her side almost immediately, pressing his hands down onto the sword wound, but was horrified to see that blood was continuously flowing from it like a fountain.

"Doctor…! We need a doctor!" Haizaki almost screamed, even as the palace guards came rushing in due to all the commotion, almost stumbling over the dead body of the assassin at the doorway. "Get Sakurai!"

"Tsuyu! Why did you shield me? Why did you protect me?" Seijuro almost had tears brimming around his eyes. "I… I'm his target! Not you!"

Tamaki smiled weakly up at her cousin, coughing out more of the crimson liquid that spilled from the sides of her lips. "…It's…my duty…to be the shield…and sword of the royal family…" she rasped. "I…told you that before… Just like Shin…and all the others…before me… I will protect you…at the expense of my life…if necessary…"

"It's not stopping!" Shigehiro cried out in frustration, trying to use his coat to stop the bleeding, but to no avail. "It's not stopping!"

"Where's Sakurai?" Haizaki roared. "Please…!" The tough as nails soldier was almost surprised to find that his vision is blurry, with tears brimming around his eyes even as he had to watch his long time friend die in front of him, and he couldn't do anything at all. "Please… Tamaki… Save Tamaki…!"

"That's okay…" Tamaki rasped, smiling up at them weakly. "Enough… I…can go the way that I want to. That alone…makes me happy." She coughed harshly. "I wonder… If this is what Shin and all the others…feel like just before…they die… Is this…what Death feels like?"

"Tsuyu…! No…!" Seijuro was almost in tears by this point of time—a first in his life ever since he'd cried in the chambers of his own room when his brother had died. "Don't leave me alone! Don't die!"

Tamaki coughed harshly before smiling up at her cousin weakly. "…Sei…" she rasped. "…The meadow… The place where…we used to go…when we were kids… I want to see it for the last time…"

Seijuro blinked his tears away before turning towards the double doors of the throne room only to see an extremely pale Takao standing there, along with Imayoshi, Susa, Wakamatsu and Sakurai. "Takao! Imayoshi! Get a carriage!"

It seemed to take almost an eternity before a carriage could be prepared to take them to the meadow that Tamaki had loved—the place where Seijuro and Tamaki have often sneaked away to when they were younger—a place where they could just forget that they're a soldier and a prince for just a few hours. A place where Midorima, Kise, Aomine and even Murasakibara have often spent time together with Tamaki and Seijuro when they were apprentices.

The place where the stone monument honouring them is enshrined.

Shigehiro had carried Tamaki to the carriage himself, with Sakurai close to him, trying to stop the bleeding as much as he could, and to try to keep Tamaki alive long enough. The brunette Royal Healer had dealt with enough injuries during the civil war to know that it's fatal, and that he could no longer do anything. The Prince and Haizaki have rode in the carriage alongside Shigehiro, Sakurai and even Tamaki. Imayoshi and Takao have rode the horses pulling the carriage, making them run as fast as they could whilst Susa and Wakamatsu have followed on their own horses.

It was evening, with the sun almost setting when they've arrived at the meadow, and Shigehiro laid Tamaki down on the sweet smelling grass, with Takao, Imayoshi, Susa and Wakamatsu standing not too far away from them.

"…Tamaki…" Shigehiro murmured, brushing the teal hair out of Tamaki's eyes. "…We're here…"

Tamaki barely managed to open her eyes with much difficulty, barely noticing the fact that Sakurai is trying to stop the bleeding, and that Haizaki and Seijuro were both by her sides as well.

"This smell…" she murmured before a small smile appeared on her face. "I've…always loved this place…" Tamaki struggled to breathe. "…Sei, continue our Eternal Peace. Build a peaceful kingdom…without anymore bloodshed."

"I promise." Seijuro promised immediately, trying to hold back his tears.

Tamaki smiled weakly at her cousin before turning towards her two childhood friends. "…Help the King," she rasped. "Promise me. Protect the kingdom. Shige-kun, continue on for me. You'll…be the next Commander."

"…No…!" Shigehiro choked, barely managing to hold in his tears. "…Tamaki…! Don't die…!"

Tamaki coughed harshly and smiled weakly. "…Hey, show me your mark," she rasped, holding out a shaking hand towards her childhood best friends. "The crest of the Royal Guard."

Shigehiro and Haizaki wiped away their tears with the back of their hands before they pulled down the sleeves of their Royal Guard coats as one—showing the small black crest of a fleur-de-lis tattooed on the underside of their left wrists. It is something that every single Royal Guard member has on them. The crest is to remind them continuously to uphold their pride and honour as a soldier, and to always serve and protect the kingdom and the people with integrity.

Tamaki smiled to herself sadly even as tears started brimming around her eyes as she raised her left hand and touched the Royal Guard crest on Shigehiro's wrist, revealing her own Royal Guard crest, with blood covering her wrist.

"…Tamaki…!"

By the side, Takao covered his quivering lips with his hand, trying to look away, but yet couldn't bring himself to.

Tamaki smiled as she touched the crest on Shigehiro's wrist, with Haizaki holding her left hand.

("Tamaki, look! We got into the Royal Guard too! We'll be working together from now on!")

Tamaki smiled weakly, with tears brimming around her eyes. Is this how Shin had felt when he'd died? How Kise-kun and all the others have felt when they have prepared themselves to die on that fateful day—knowing that Tamaki and all their friends have believed them to be traitors and tyrants to their own kingdom?

"The sunset is beautiful…" Tamaki rasped, eyes looking at the far distance behind her best friends—seeing a flock of birds being illuminated by the beautiful setting sun as they flew home. "…I'm glad…that I can get…to see a sight like this…for the last time…"

Seijuro's lips trembled with emotion. "It really is," he forced a smile on his face, holding his cousin's hand, almost cringing at how cold it feels now in his hold. "It is beautiful, Tsuyu."

Tamaki coughed harshly, spilling more blood from the edges of her lips before she rested her head back onto the ground, filling her nostrils with the sweet smelling grass of the meadow as her eyes alternated between closing and opening. "…I…could really go…for one of those…apples…" she whispered, coughing harshly. "I wanted to…have more…time…"

("This is an apple plucked from the largest apple tree planted in the apple orchard of Meiko Village. It is our pride and joy. That is the only place in the whole world where you can find white apples.")

Tamaki's left hand slipped out of Haizaki's grasp as her eyes slid shut, and her breathing stilled.

"Protect…the future…"

Takao stumbled, covering his mouth with his right hand, tears brimming around his eyes.

"I'm sorry, Shin-chan," he whispered to himself. "I'm sorry. I…couldn't fulfil my promise…!"

("…Protect Tamaki.")

"Don't look away, Takao." Susa said in a rough voice. Startled, Takao looked at the three other soldiers with him only to see that their eyes are unnaturally bright, and their right hands are in the traditional salute—with it crossed over their chests, with their fist against the heart. "The only time when a soldier can cry…is when it's all over."

XXXXXX

"We'll see each other again."

"Yeah. 2000 years from now."

A/N: This chapter is more from Takao's perspective rather than Tamaki and Midorima only to give you a brief insight of what this story is going to be like, and a little insight in the Past Arc. But yeah, the final part of this chapter is full of angst, and I'm not going to lie—the Past Arcs are going to be full of that, as the original time period that they have hailed from isn't exactly bright and cheerful.

Anyway, I hope that you like this story and chapter, and please read and review! Reviews give me inspiration to update!

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