Nighthunters: A Strange Twist of Fate

To You, 2000 Years From Now

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 Two: To You, 2000 Years From Now

"This is my story. And I'm going to make it a good one." - Kuroko Tamaki

XXXXXX

The entire kingdom had grieved for the loss of their hero when Kuroko Tamaki had passed away. There was a huge outcry when Kuroko Tamaki's death was announced. Only those villages in the remote countryside wouldn't hear of it until the soldier carrying the royal decree arrived at their village.

For certain reasons however, Shigehiro and Haizaki have told the King not to send anyone to Meiko Village. The small village that had also been their childhood home had been set through several setbacks throughout the years. The Kuroko family had always been the guardians and protectors of the village. When Tamaki's father, Lord Kuroko had passed away, the entire village had grieved—but they had gotten by as Tamaki had still been alive. If the village ever learned that Tamaki is dead, they might not be able to take it.

The streets of the Royal City seemed to have a lack of life even after a week had passed. The skies were also filled with nothing but gray clouds since the death of the Commander as well. It is like when Kuroko Tamaki had died, she had taken the sun with her.

In the Hyuuga Dojo—the official training dojo for the Defense Corps that are made up mostly of civilians, Hyuuga Junpei sat in the middle of the dojo, dressed in his training clothes, cleaning his sword absently—his cleaning materials set beside him along with a bowl of clear water and a cleaning cloth.

"Junpei? Are you still at it?" Aida Riko stepped into the dojo, a solemn look on her face. And judging by her clothes, she had just gotten off work at the palace.

"Oh. Riko." Hyuuga nodded to his fiancée, only to flinch as he cut his finger on the sharp edge of his blade by mistake. Blood immediately oozed out of the cut.

"Wait here. I'll get a first aid kit." Riko said quickly before rushing out of the dojo.

She was back within moments with a wooden first aid box—someone always gets injured every single day in the Hyuuga Dojo—thus, she has to know at least the basics of first aid. The brunette then sat beside Hyuuga as she tended to the cut on his finger, along with the several bruises and abrasions on his knuckles and under palms. It is obvious to Riko that Junpei had overdone himself in training once more.

"…How are things at the palace?" Hyuuga asked at last in a hoarse voice, staring at the ground beneath him even as Riko applied medication to his wounds.

Riko paused in her task for a moment before sighing. "Not good," she said. "Morale has dropped significantly. The soldiers are all upset—especially the members of the Royal Guard. The King too. He tries to put on a brave face for us—but those of us who worked with him every single day can tell. Ogiwara-kun is trying as the Commander—but he can barely hold them all together even with Haizaki-kun's help. The other members of the Royal Guard are trying to help the best they could, but…"

She finished wrapping the bandages around Junpei's palms and knuckles before taping it off, placing the medication and bandages back into the first aid box and closing it with a light clap.

"Damn it!" Riko jumped slightly even as Hyuuga rammed his fist into the wooden floor of his dojo, tears leaking from his eyes—not caring in the least even as he reopened his wounds. "Why…? Why did this happen? Why did Tamaki have to die?"

XXXXXX

~April 2008; Rakuzan High School~

Mayuzumi Chihiro raised his eyes to the skies above him, watching as a bird flew in circles several times above him, notes of a song dropping from its throat before it followed its brethren as a flock of them flew past him. All of them flying towards their home probably.

Home.

Mayuzumi smiled a small smile to himself before it fell away once more, leaving a blank mask behind. He wonders for a moment how Hayama, Nebuya and even Mibuchi were handling facing their former Prince—or rather, King, as the captain of their basketball team.

Clearly, reincarnation didn't work the way that Mayuzumi wished it did at times.

Of course, all of them—or at least, the ones whom Mayuzumi have met thus far have all remembered their past lives during the age of the monarch regardless of their ages. At times, Mayuzumi is grateful for it, as they could understand what he's going through. But at times, it is almost strange to see people like Hayama and even Nebuya acting like adults and war veterans when they still wore the face of a teenager.

Mayuzumi had first started remembering his past around the time when he was in grade school. As his parents are nearly never around—always working overseas, he had to care for himself. Though when he was in grade school, there is a caretaker caring for him until he had entered middle school when his parents have assumed that he's now old enough and responsible enough to care for himself with the money that they sent him every month for food and other necessities.

It was also around the time when he was starting his first year in middle school when all his past memories have pieced together with each other, and he could remember with clarity—instead of just some strange memories with blurred faces.

He'd seen some of the others around at the middle school basketball championships. But as he had never made it in as a regular in his old middle school team, he had never gotten the chance to talk to them. He is glad for that as well. The last time, apart from Tamaki, Shigehiro, Haizaki, Takao, Imayoshi and a few others, the others have never trusted him because of the part that he'd played during the civil war.

This time around, the only one that he still stayed in contact with had just been Imayoshi. Who even knows how in the world that guy even managed to get his cellphone number? He had messaged him less than two weeks ago, telling him that Otsubo had found Takao, Midorima and Tamaki. But apparently, the latter two couldn't remember anything about their past.

Mayuzumi was both sad and relieved at that bit of info.

Relieved because at least he wouldn't have to face Tamaki and his guilt in raising his hand against his own cousin. A very distant relation maybe, but still a cousin. And he knew that he had owed Tamaki his life the last time. If she hadn't spoken up for him and made him the King's personal bodyguard, he would have been executed like so many of the Red King's followers.

And sad because she wouldn't be the person whom he'd known and so many have idolised and respected.

Mayuzumi sighed, closing his book with a light snap, letting the wind blow through his hair even as he stared up at the blue skies with the white clouds, leaning his head against the wire fence behind him.

"…Tamaki-sama…" Mayuzumi almost whispered to himself, unconsciously reaching down and rubbing at a certain spot on the underside of his left wrist.

The door leading to the rooftop opened with a loud creak just then, but Mayuzumi ignored it, continuing staring up at the skies.

"…Are you Mayuzumi Chihiro?" asked a familiar voice.

Mayuzumi's eyes snapped towards the source of the voice just then only to see a certain redhead dressed in Rakuzan High's uniform standing there. His eyes widened a slight fraction before narrowing again. "…Seiki-sama…? No…" He realised, seeing that this redhead in front of him had two red eyes. "…Prince…?"

"Well, I'm not the Prince anymore though." Akashi Seijuro smiled wryly, having already had the same reaction from so many others. "So I take it that you remembered as well?"

Before Mayuzumi could say anything, the door to the rooftop creaked opened once more, and another voice entered the conversation. "…Seijuro, have you found him?" Mayuzumi's eyes almost bulged out of its sockets as he saw an identical redhead entering the scene. The only differences are the length of their hair and that this newcomer had one red eye and one golden eye.

"…Seiki-sama…?"

Akashi Seiki smiled wryly at Mayuzumi. "…Hey, Chihiro," he greeted. "It's been a long time."

"I was surprised at first when Mibuchi told me that you remembered as well." Seijuro replied. "I'm the current basketball captain of Rakuzan as you no doubt know—seeing as how you're in the basketball club as well. Seiki is the Student Council president though. He was in Teiko with me and Tama—but he never joined the basketball club."

"…Well, I don't really know how to face the others." Seiki admitted. "Regardless if they remembered or not. It is true that all of us knew what we were doing—and they knew what they're getting themselves into. Even still, I as good as killed them. Even if it is for the good of the kingdom…"

"Seiki…"

"Fine. Shutting up now." Seiki raised both his hands in a surrender motion—indicating that this had been a conversation that they had multiple times before. He then glanced at Mayuzumi. "…Does Tamaki know? The last time? What Ryota, Daiki and Atsushi did?

Mayuzumi nodded solemnly. "…She did. Only a few others were in the know as well. If it is ever publicised, the scandal will destroy Teiko." He admitted. "All of us knew that. That's why we kept quiet about it. Even if… Even if it is difficult for us to listen to the soldiers and the citizens talking about it. Even though we have to watch as all four of you went down in history as tyrants and traitors."

Seiki showed no reaction though Seijuro looked upset. "…We knew what we're doing," he said. "I have never regretted it. The only thing I regretted is hurting Tamaki the way I did. She is the only one that gave a damn about me—the last time and the present."

"Seiki—"

"I don't want to talk about it here, Seijuro."

"…She cried." Mayuzumi murmured, and the two bickering twins turned towards the silver haired senior. "I used to hear her all the time—Tamaki-sama—when she thought that no one was listening. I had the room next to hers in the palace. And late at night, when she thought that everyone was sleeping and no one was listening, she cried. For all the lives lost. For the sacrifices of her friends. The loss of her lover. The realisation of how…cold and cruel that the world really is. Of just what it meant to protect. I hear her cry every night." He admitted.

Seijuro looked upset, and Seiki looked guilty before he smoothed his expression out once more. "…I should go," he said at last. "Don't stay here too long, Seijuro." He then turned to leave the rooftop.

"Tamaki-sama saved me." Mayuzumi called out to Seiki before he could leave the rooftop. The former king stopped in his tracks. "She gave me a purpose after you died for the sake of the kingdom. She told me once that no matter what I've done—that I'm still family. She placed her trust in me when no one else would." He closed his eyes briefly. "Even if she doesn't remember… I want to protect her this time. That's why… I'm sorry, Seiki-sama."

Seiki said nothing for a long time before he turned and looked over his shoulder at Mayuzumi, a sad smile tugging at his lips. "…Do you remember what I've told you before I died? That I'm releasing you from my service and your vow. You're no longer a soldier. We are no longer royals." He gestured towards himself and his twin. "This isn't the age of the monarch anymore, Chihiro. Do as you wish."

XXXXXX

For several moments, she sees nothing but pitch-black darkness.

And then slowly, the darkness started gradually receding before she found herself in a peculiar place.

It is that place. The place that she always dreamt about. Back then when her 'dreams' were slowly overlapping with reality, and she could no longer differentiate between the two.

The place with the giant weeping sakura tree atop the hilltop, with the hundreds and thousands of pink petals raining down upon her like pink rain. It is nighttime there—like always. And if it is a dream, then why does she always smell the familiar scent of sakura flowers?

And within that giant weeping sakura tree—on one of the tree boughs is her.

She is cloaked in a dark cloak that concealed her face and body, seated atop one of the tree boughs halfway up the tree, looking up within the pink flowers of the tree. The first time that she had seen this cloaked figure, she couldn't even tell the gender until she had spoken.

And yet, for some reason, this lady…just feels so familiar to her. Like she should know her.

"You're back again." The cloaked lady smiled—or at least, she thought that she is smiling at least, as she moved to turn to face her. "What is it this time?"

Tamaki shrugged her shoulders, standing at the foot of the tree and leaning against the trunk. "…I have no idea," she said at last. "I have no idea if I'm doing the right thing any longer. I just…couldn't care anymore."

"Because of what happened at Teiko?"

Tamaki smiled weakly. "I guess so," she mused, staring at her feet. "You know, it's a strange thing. Things used to be so simple when we were kids. Why couldn't it stay that way? Why must things be so different now? First was Aomine-kun when he started changing when he became too strong. It is like he couldn't even care whom he hurt when he started skipping practice and being late to half our matches. Sei and the Coach only kept him on the team because I asked them to. If it's any other player, they would have kicked him out long ago. Then one by one, the rest of the team start to change. Kise-kun. Atsushi-kun… Midorima-kun had changed too. But he never disrespected our opponents at least. It came to such a point when I'm starting to wonder if I'm the cause of it all. Because I'm…the top strategist in the basketball circuit. Standing at the top… It feels lonely." She admitted. "I'm just…so lost. Sei is too. But he had Seiki with him, so I'm not worried. Even if Seiki's relationship with Aunt Yuki has been pretty strained for years now with him pretty much being ignored most of the time ever since Aunt Yuki's divorce with her ex-husband. Until Midorima-kun approached me with the pamphlet of Shutoku High four months ago, I couldn't even care less where I go."

"Do you like him?"

"…He's a good friend." Tamaki said at last after a long pause. "He has always been there for me when the club first started going to pieces, and it is taking Sei and myself everything that we had just to keep the club afloat. He is the one to keep me together as well after my parents passed away. He's…a good friend. Someone whom I could trust."

"That's not quite what I asked, but never mind." The cloaked lady sighed. "You know, I was once like you. I made quite a lot of mistakes at one time—realising too late that I've thought the worst of my best friends."

"I just…don't know what to do." Tamaki admitted.

"…Keep an open mind." The cloaked lady said, and Tamaki looked up into the tree boughs. "Trust your instincts and those around you. It will help you better than you think. You can't take on everything by yourself. Talk to Midorima-kun especially about your problems if you're having any."

"I…"

"Tamaki. Don't make the same mistakes that I did."

XXXXXX

("…You lost the person whom you pledged allegiance to. No one but a scant few trusted you here. But yet, you never let it get to you, but carried out your duties as a Royal Guard soldier magnificently. Everyone respected you for that.")

("…I just…miss him, that's all…")

("…Why did Shin have to die…?!")

("…Do you think that…my weak little brother…could save *****? I didn't think so.")

("…Tell me the truth.")

("…I think…that maybe…you would have made a great king…")

("…I think…that the path…this kingdom…would take in the end…will be your path…")

("…Heroes aren't always good people. They are heroes because they kill the bad guys.")

("…You won't be the first…and you won't be the last. And then maybe, someday in the future… Maybe…")

Someday…

XXXXXX

~Shutoku High School~

Kuroko Tamaki mumbled something beneath her breath even as she rested her head onto her desk, seemingly dead to the world even as the rest of her classmates chattered on like no tomorrow—enjoying the chance of a free period as it's the first day of school.

Midorima who had the window seat in front of hers frowned as he turned in his chair to survey his sleeping classmate and not-so-secret-crush as she mumbled several things beneath her breath. He sighed to himself.

Is it starting once more? And here he thought that she's doing so well lately too.

Takao who had the seat beside them raised a brow behind the manga that he was reading, glancing from Midorima to Tamaki and back again. "Should we wake her?" he asked Midorima. "Sounds like she's having a really bad dream."

Midorima glanced at Tamaki's sleeping form before turning back towards Takao, closing the book that he's reading with a light snap. He then shook his head, resting his arm against the back of her chair. "No, we can't," he said solemnly. "She has to wake on her own, or her condition will get worse."

Takao raised a confused brow. "Pardon?"

Midorima sighed. Why is he telling this to someone whom he had barely known for a day? And then again, there is something that tells him that he can trust Takao.

Tamaki's 'condition'—while not exactly life threatening can be quite serious if not treated and taken seriously. It had gotten really bad and had nearly gotten out of hand during their second year of Teiko that Tamaki had to start seeing a psychiatrist regularly for 'dream sessions' to get her 'condition' under control. As far as Midorima is aware, only the entire Generation of Miracles outside of their coach, Tamaki's aunt, Akashi's older twin brother and their two childhood friends were aware of her 'condition'.

The green head then glanced around only to see that half of their classmates were gone from the classroom—probably to get an early start on lunch, and the other half were too busy gossiping with each other to even pay them the slightest ounce of attention.

Midorima then turned around in his chair so that he is facing Takao, making a hand gesture with his fingers for Takao to come closer. The raven haired teen compiled by dragging his chair closer to Midorima's table.

"…It's not exactly a complete secret—and the coach as well as the captain knew as well. Tamaki has to tell them when she had first accepted the invitation to enrol into Shutoku months ago." Midorima begun, only adding to Takao's confusion. "Don't go spreading it around—Tamaki doesn't want anyone to pity her or even think that she's not right in the head just because she's been seeing a psychiatrist for regular sessions."

Takao's eyes widened. "A psychiatrist?" Midorima frowned at Takao before he chuckled nervously and raised his hands up in a surrender notion. "S-Sorry. Please continue." He said nervously.

Midorima sighed. Why is he telling this to Takao again? And why does this guy feel so familiar to him? "It's not anything very serious," he said at last. "When Tamaki was younger, she tends to have lots of disturbing and strange dreams." He missed the widening of Takao's eyes. "It came to such a point that it started affecting her in real life, and pretty soon, she could barely differentiate between her dreams and reality. It got especially bad during our second year, particularly during our summer training camp." He glanced at Tamaki's sleeping form. "There were several times when she actually started asking the whereabouts of a prince, and if Haizaki and Ogiwara have made it back all right from the surface, or something like that. And when we asked her what she's talking about, she looked as if she is about to answer before she looked confused—wondering what she's talking about or even what we're talking about. None of us understood what's going on at that time. Our coach even got worried—wondering if it is stress that is getting to her. Her aunt later sent Tamaki to the psychiatrist working in my father's hospital to help her. She has been going for regular sessions since, and it seems to help her a lot."

Takao didn't know what to say—it sounds awfully like what had happened to him and to all of them when they have first started regaining their memories—only ten times as worse as none of them ever had their life in this time and the last time mixed up to the point where they barely knew where they are or even who they are.

Tamaki mumbled something before sitting up slowly, rubbing at her eyes.

"Tamaki—"

Midorima held out a hand to stop Takao, shaking his head wordlessly. Without a word, the two boys watched as Tamaki reached into her bag and drew out a black leather journal, opening it to a blank page before writing something in it for several moments. Finally, Tamaki turned to face the two boys.

"…Sorry," she murmured, still sounding half asleep. "What did I miss?"

"Nothing much," said Midorima, shooting Takao a warning glance. "But is it happening again?" He asked with concern. "It hasn't happened for a long time, right? Those dreams?"

"Yeah." Tamaki nodded, stifling a yawn.

"…Tamaki? What were you dreaming about?" Takao asked carefully, keeping his eyes on the face of the teal head. "You were talking in your sleep earlier. Were you having some bad dream? A nightmare?"

"It's nothing like that." Tamaki shook her head. "It's just…" She paused, closing her mouth, looking momentarily confused. "Huh…" She shook her head. "It always happens." She said with a small wry smile. "I can never remember what I dreamt about after I woke up. That's why the psychiatrist always told me to write what immediately comes to mind when I woke up."

Takao gave Midorima a startled look who is stubbornly looking ahead of him. So that's why the green head told him not to disturb Tamaki earlier when she had just woken up. He must be well aware of her 'sleeping habits'.

"What's wrong, Takao-kun?" Tamaki asked with confusion even as she placed the black leather journal back into her bag.

"…No." Takao shook his head, closing his eyes momentarily. "Nothing's the matter. I'm fine."

XXXXXX

('So much has happened in just two years. I know I'll just keep changing and getting stronger—just like the rest of us. This is my story. And I'm going to make it a good one.')

Ogiwara Shigehiro stood in front of the elegant gravestone made out of white marble—the finest that the King could find, and had their best craftsman make it for his beloved cousin, putting her to rest in the graveyard—beside her parents.

"Rest in peace, Tamaki," he murmured. "I'll do my part for you—I'll protect the kingdom and the King in your stead. Leave it to us. We'll see you again in the next life—if there is one."

Haizaki stepped up next to him—both young men dressed in civilian clothes as they're technically off duty right now. "…I wish that you could have given us some of your strength, Tamaki," he murmured. "We could really use it right now. I never knew that your job is so difficult. 'The militia is only as strong as the Commander is'. How true it is."

Shigehiro smiled a small sad smile as he gave a sideways glance at his only remaining childhood friend who is still alive, turning his gaze back towards the gravestone. "…Hey, do you think that Tamaki had managed to meet Midorima and all the others up there?" he asked, turning his eyes skywards at the blue skies.

"Probably." Haizaki managed to crack a small smile. "If she did, she is probably chasing Aomine, Kise and even Murasakibara around right now. I wonder…" He tightened his hands into fists, "if she had managed to meet the…Red King too?"

Silence fell between the two for a long time. Finally, Shigehiro turned away from the gravestone, the sounds of dried leaves crackling beneath his boots being the only sounds that could be heard. "Let's go. We still have to make it back to the Royal City by tonight."

Haizaki nodded before falling into step with Shigehiro, heading towards where they've left their horses who are both waiting patiently for their masters. It wasn't long before they were riding out of the graveyard and through the gates of the Royal City, heading towards the direction of Meiko Village.

The distance between the Royal City and Meiko Village is large, and it was mid afternoon by the time that the two have arrived at their hometown, being welcomed by nearly the entire village who were all delighted to see their heroes back.

"Welcome back!"

"Will you be staying long this time?"

"Hey look! Our heroes are back!"

"Shigehiro! Shogo! It's been a while!"

"Shige-nii! Shogo-nii! Play with us!"

"Hey, where's Tamaki-nee?"

Shigehiro and Shogo barely restrained their flinches at the last question asked by an innocent eight-year-old little boy who had two of his front teeth missing, clutching at the skirts of his mother.

"Well…"

"Everyone, stop crowding around them like that." The village elder, Takeda approached just then, walking with his walking stick in hand, hand trembling. It seems like he has to pick a new leader for the village soon, as it won't be long before he will be bedridden permanently or even dead. Takeda smiled warmly at the two young men. "It's been a long time, you two. Come with me. Kyo can take care of your horses."

"Anything for our heroes." A teenager of about eighteen grinned, stepping up and taking hold of their horses' harnesses, leading them towards the village's stables.

Shigehiro and Haizaki exchanged looks with each other before following Takeda into his house, with Haizaki closing the door behind him. Takeda dropped himself into his rocking chair with a sigh, rubbing at his knees, even as Shigehiro and Haizaki sat on the chairs by his table.

"These old bones won't last for much longer." Takeda murmured. "I will have to find a successor soon—someone whom I can trust to lead the village." He then glanced at the two young men. "Where's Tamaki-sama? Isn't she with you? I never did see you both without her as well."

Shigehiro and Haizaki exchanged uncomfortable glances with each other before turning back towards Takeda. "…Well, she's kind of tied up at the Royal City." Shigehiro said at last, managing a small smile.

Takeda eyed them both curiously for several moments before he smiled. "…I see. I guess that being Commander is a tough job," he commented. "Be sure to tell her to take care of herself. Also, she's not getting any younger, so she should really start looking for a husband. Lord Kuroko would have wanted that."

"I-I'll tell her that." Haizaki managed to say, barely managing to keep himself composed.

He can't break down now. Not now. He can't bring himself to say it. Can't bring himself to tell the man who had been like a grandfather to all of them—himself, Shigehiro and even Tamaki that the teal head had already been dead for nearly a month.

"So what brings you both here?" Takeda asked curiously. "I'm sure that you both must be very busy."

"Actually, we heard that the village had been suffering from some financial difficulties lately—what with the recent drought." Shigehiro said, grateful for the change in topic. He pulled off the bag hanging by one strap from his shoulder and removed a large cloth sack from within, struggling to drag it out from his bag, setting it onto the table with a loud clink. Takeda's eyes widened in surprise when he heard the sound of what is obviously coins clinking together.

"This is from all of us." Haizaki said, opening the neck of the sack, showing that it is almost bursting to the brim with golden coins. "We've also brought these." He brought out another sack from within his bag, placing it on the table beside the sack of gold coins. "These are seeds—for grains, potatoes and everything that the village will need to store for the winter. We're from this village as well. Let us do our part." He said quickly, seeing Takeda about to argue.

Takeda sighed. "Very well," he said at last. "I see that there's no use arguing with you both. Will you both be staying the night?" He got shakes of the head for this, and he sighed. "Come back every now and then, both of you. Bring Tamaki-sama with you too. Stay longer next time. We'll welcome you home the next time with an extravagant celebration."

Shigehiro tried to force a smile. "Y-Yeah." He then got to his feet. "We should go. We still have to make it back to the Royal City by nightfall. We'll stay longer the next time."

"I see." Takeda sighed. "Very well. Have a safe trip home."

"We will." Haizaki promised before they made their way out of Takeda's house, retrieving their horses from the stables, and leading their horses out of the village amidst the waves from the villagers. "How long must we continue hiding it from them, Shige? We can't hide it for long. When are you going to tell them that Tamaki is dead?"

Shigehiro looked tormented. "…I don't know how to tell them," he said at last. "You saw how happy they are when we came back. When that kid asked where Tamaki is, I don't know what to tell him. I don't know anything anymore, Shogo." He admitted.

A/N: I hope that this answers some of your questions from the previous chapter. I know that you still have lots of questions—but fear not, this will all be addressed in future chapters. Those of you who are familiar with my works will know that I like to take things slowly. Anyway, this is an early Christmas present for you guys. Merry Christmas, everyone!

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

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