Nighthunters: A Strange Twist of Fate

For Her

Pairings: Midorima/Tamaki

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

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

Chapter Three: For Her

"People never really change. They repeat." - Sakurai Ryo

XXXXXX

The once close friendship that the Generation of Miracles—the five commanders of Teiko Kingdom's militia had once shared had dwindled down to almost nothing two years after the Red King had ascended to the throne, and after Teiko Kingdom had descended into chaos. The once adored guardians of the kingdom—the five commanders of Teiko's militia whose skill in battle had never been matched by anyone outside of the Generation of Miracles have now became so feared and hated amongst the civilians save for perhaps the only female commander.

Two years after the Red King had ascended to the throne and after the deaths and executions of hundreds, if not thousands of people, Kuroko Tamaki is just barely hanging onto the last strands of her patience and tolerance for what her once friends have done.

She had already seen it coming, to be honest.

After all, Aomine, Kise and Murasakibara are in charge of the units that mainly take them all over the kingdom. Midorima's responsibility mainly lies in the palace's security. As for Tamaki's own responsibility, as the head of Intelligence, her main responsibilities are to crack down on spies and deserters and to conduct investigations. But with rebellions occurring left, right and center for the past year, the other three could barely handle it themselves. Thus, Tamaki wasn't really that surprised when she had walked into her office on that one fine day nearly eight months ago, only to see a mission missive waiting for her in her office.

Wakamatsu had almost blown a fuse that day when Tamaki had summoned her unit into her office, and had told them what they have just been ordered to do. Shigehiro and Shogo weren't all that happy either—but orders are orders. Besides, every single one of them knew perfectly well what would happen should they disobey a direct order. They are the ones carrying out the 'will of the king' ever since the Red King had ascended to the throne after all.

And as far as Tamaki knew, Midorima had gotten the same orders too. And honestly, she doesn't even know what he's thinking these days. He had barely spoken to anyone in recent months—even her and Takao.

"Are you really okay with things like this?" Tamaki asked Midorima blandly, confronting him in his office. The green head is currently seated behind his desk, working on his paperwork in an almost robotic function. "Talk to me, Shin! Tell me what you're thinking. Tell me what you're feeling."

There was silence for a long time.

"…What do you want me to say?" Midorima asked at last, raising his tired eyes to meet Tamaki's own solemn eyes. "You know as well as I do that we don't have any choice. It is our duty as soldiers. Just like how you don't have any choice but to raze down about half the villages in the western continent a year ago."

Tamaki flinched at the reminder of that awful mission. She could almost feel the heat of the flames and smell the burning wood and even burning flesh, and even hear the screams of the villagers.

That is the reason why after that mission, she had secretly started trying to help as many people as she could to escape the gallows of the palace prison when they're slated to be executed. As most of the executions falls under her area of responsibility, she could do that without anyone being none of the wiser. And with Satsuki's skill in creating fake corpses, no one had realised that those slated to be executed are still alive and well somewhere.

Probably, that is when the people of the kingdom had started pinning their hopes on her—believing that she isn't as lost as her fellow commanders.

"…Tell me that you don't think that the King is doing the right thing!" Tamaki slammed both her hands onto Midorima's desk, thus sending several files and papers flying off his desk and onto the ground around them. Midorima said nothing, but he daren't meet Tamaki's eyes either, knowing what he'll see there. "Tell me that you don't seriously think that this is for the good of the kingdom! Tell me that you don't believe that this is just plain killing all for the sake of it! Tell me, Midorima Shintaro!"

There was a sharp knock on the door just then, and it swung opened, revealing one of the King's messengers at the door. He raised a brow, seeing the complete mess on the floor, and that the two commanders seemed to be arguing, with just a desk in between them both.

"Uh… Am I interrupting something?" he enquired politely, before Tamaki took a step backwards from the desk, facing away from Midorima.

"Is there anything that you need?" Midorima asked sharply, eyes trained on the messenger.

The messenger himself seemed to be wholly accustomed to dealing with irate soldiers who can easily lop his head off his shoulders, as he doesn't seem to be bothered by Midorima's irate tone.

"Yes sir." The messenger nodded, holding out a scroll currently clutched in his right hand and placing it on the desk. "Urgent mission missive from the King, sir. One of the surviving rebels from the last group that Commander Aomine had taken out a month ago had been found. He is supposedly in the village of Frantein. Orders from His Majesty are to eliminate the rebel and the entire village of Frantein for the crime of shielding a traitor."

Tamaki's head snapped sharply towards the messenger for this order. Another one? How many villages does this make now? Will the Red King only be satisfied once he'd wiped out every single village on the continent?

Midorima closed his eyes briefly. "…All right. Understood."

"I'll take my leave." The messenger saluted the two commanders in the room smartly before exiting from the room, closing the door shut behind him.

There was no movement in the office for several moments before Midorima got to his feet heavily, pulling on his Royal Guard coat hanging on the back of his chair and picking up his sword. He then walked towards the door, but just as his hand touched the doorknob, a voice interrupted his thoughts.

"…Are you seriously planning to go through with this?" Tamaki asked sharply, her voice trembling with emotion. "How many villages does this make now? How many people do you think have died? This is just plain murder, nothing more! Genocide! Do you seriously want to be a murderer, Shin?" Midorima didn't move or even say anything. "Answer me!"

Still with his back facing Tamaki, Midorima turned the doorknob, opening the door partially.

"If you take even one step out of that door, consider us over!" Tamaki snapped, feeling tears pricking around her eyes. Have things really come to this? There was a pause. "Have you forgotten what all of us have vowed on that day when we joined the Royal Guard and succeeded Shu-nii as the commanders of Teiko's militia and the Royal Guard? Aomine, Kise and Murasakibara set aside, have you discarded your own pride and honour as well? Does all this carnage and deaths mean nothing to you at all? Answer me, Shin!"

Midorima said nothing, but his hand was trembling as he rested it on the doorknob. Must he really choose between his duty to the kingdom and his love?

He knows Tamaki better than anyone else. She had a sense of honour and integrity stronger than anyone else, and a strong sense of justice. This is one of the reasons why the people of the kingdom have adored her even during the days when the previous king and queen were still alive. She had been one of the few high ranked soldiers that isn't possible to be bribed with money or even threatened.

A few nobles have actually tried in the past, but they got themselves tossed into jail before they even knew what's going on. Tamaki had actually made herself quite a few enemies by sticking to her guns and her morals. That is one of the reasons why the royal family and even a few of the councillors and nobles that aren't driven by power, gain and profit have trusted her so much. Or even why the soldiers—both the Royal Guard and the Royal Army have respected her so much.

But still, what choice does he have here? Even if Midorima doesn't go, the King will just send one of the others out. At the very least, if he goes, he might still be able to save a few people by pretending not to see some of the villagers escape.

"This isn't right, Shin." Tamaki pleaded. "This can't be for the good of the kingdom! Stop adding more onto your sins! How much blood has stained those hands by now? Haven't you heard those screams? We are supposed to be the guardians—the protectors! Stop this. Let's leave. I can't take it anymore."

Midorima felt a lump formed in his throat even as he opened the door wider, and turned over his shoulder, blinking away the tears already forming around his eyes.

"…I'm sorry," he murmured, feeling his heart almost breaking before he stepped through the door, not looking back—knowing that if he does, he might not be able to go through with it.

The steps of Midorima's boots were almost muffled by the carpet before a voice behind him stopped him still.

"If you are still the man that I knew when we were still in the Academy—the one that seeks to bring equality and justice to all, you will stay where you are. If you are still the same man that had saved Takao from slave traders and had brought him into the Royal Guard—even grooming him to be the soldier he is today even though you don't even have to, then you won't take a step further!" Tamaki stood in the middle of the hallway, almost glaring at Midorima's back, hands balled into fists even as she trembled with emotion. "Please… Shin… Don't make me hate you…or even myself any further!"

"I…"

"If you really intend to go through with this order—if you really intend to butcher an entire village just because they are shielding an injured man who believes that he's doing the right thing—consider us over." Tamaki's voice almost broke at the end, and it is taking Midorima everything that he could not to turn around to face his girlfriend.

He bit on his bottom lip before he forced his feet to move, even though every pore in his body is screaming at him to stay where he is—that Tamaki is right—that what he would be doing should he leave the palace on this mission is nothing more than mere genocide—nothing more than cold hearted murder.

"…Once you come back, don't even look for me." The disappointment and hurt in Tamaki's voice almost made Midorima cringe. "I never want to see you again!"

Midorima forced his feet to continue walking, even as his vision blurred as tears fell from his eyes, knowing that he'd just ruined his relationship with the one person whom he cherished more than anything else—that he'd just picked his duty over his kingdom than his duty to the one person whom he loved and cherished more than anything else in the world.

"…I'm sorry…"

Kuroko Tamaki blinked her tears away quickly, refusing to let those tears fall—refusing to let this weaken her. She had a duty to do. Tears can come later.

"…Imayoshi."

Like her own personal shadow, Imayoshi Shoichi emerged from within the shadows of the palace walls, looking solemn—having seen everything that had happened, and he couldn't help but marvel at his commander's strength.

Tamaki glanced at her adjutant—a rank below Shigehiro and Shogo in the Intelligence Division, and mainly the one in command if the top three aren't around. "You've heard everything, haven't you?" she enquired, and Imayoshi nodded solemnly. He knew what Tamaki's next order might be. The entire division have all been involved in some of Tamaki's secret schemes in saving as many people as they could from being executed over the past year. "Take Wakamatsu with you. Go by the secret routes that only the Intelligence Division knew about—take the side gates and our fastest horses. Whatever you do, get there before Midorima and his troops do." Imayoshi didn't miss the fact that Tamaki had addressed the green head by his last name. "Save that man. Save the village. Secure them underground if you have to. I'll send word to Shige."

"…Yes Ma'am."

Imayoshi disappeared into the shadows once more—presumably heading towards the Intelligence's command room where his fellow Royal Guard soldiers would always be in if they aren't training or out on missions or patrol.

Tamaki then turned and headed towards the direction of her office, her brisk pace almost becoming a jog as she headed towards her office, almost tearing the door off its hinges, and entering the room—slamming the door shut behind her. She slumped against the door, leaning her weight against it—almost missing Shogo's bewildered expression—as he is currently in her office helping to sort through the documents.

Even since Tamaki had helped Shigehiro to get away six months ago, telling him to help as many of the rebels as he could, and also forming a resistance group of their own, Shogo had been her rock—her only support who knew exactly what she's feeling.

"Tamaki?"

"Send a message to Shige." Tamaki said in a hoarse voice, not bringing herself to look at Shogo. "Tell him to get ready to pick up a few more men. Protection has gone to raze down an entire village for shielding a rebel—probably a survivor from that last group that Aomine had killed a month ago."

Haizaki's eyes widened. "What? But Midorima—"

Tamaki slid down the door, landing onto the floor, wrapping her arms around her knees even as she buried her face into her knees so that her childhood friend wouldn't see her crying. "…It's over…for us…"

"…Shin… You fool…!"

XXXXXX

The first basketball practice for Shutoku High is almost awkward for those of them who had remembered their lives as soldiers during the age of the monarch—during the era of swords and guns where it is kill or be killed.

Even though Takao, Otsubo, Miyaji and Kimura knew perfectly well that Tamaki and Midorima doesn't remember the past at all, when they looked at them, they couldn't help but still see their former leaders. It still feels like them in a way. They have the same authoritative aura that they did back during the time when those two are one of the top soldiers in the Teiko Kingdom.

Nakatani, the basketball coach of Shutoku had introduced Midorima and Tamaki to the entire team at the start of practice. As the two were scouted, they were already in the team, and first stringers furthermore. And while officially, Tamaki is also a player; her main role is as Shutoku's tactician. And also that she has free reign with the first stringers' training, and she doesn't want to hear any complaints.

That had been one of her conditions when Nakatani had approached her with Otsubo months ago at Teiko. She is a tactical player, and is never the power type—even though her basketball style is pretty deadly. One doesn't get the nickname of 'Mirage' for nothing, even being known as Teiko's Number Two. Her other condition is that while she has no objections being in the first string from the start like her fellow Miracle (Midorima), she refuses to be a starter.

As Midorima and Tamaki's conditions are way less outrageous than some of their fellow Miracles (who on earth asks for a 10kg bag of sweets every single day or even the privilege to skip practice as and when he likes or even having the time to do his job?), Nakatani had agreed to it, as those are conditions that he could accept. As Teiko's coach is also Nakatani's old teammate from his days as a player during the Japan National Basketball Team, he could understand why Kuroko Tamaki, Teiko's vice captain had asked for such a thing.

Teiko's team had almost fallen into pieces during their third year because of all the school politics and restrictions due to the new implements planted by the School Board and the new headmaster of Teiko Middle. As both Kuroko Tamaki and Akashi Seijuro didn't want to make things any worse, they could only abide by those outrageous rules even as much as they doesn't like how their team had been acting. The championship league match is probably the final straw—as even Nakatani had heard of how the Generation of Miracles had parted ways after that.

The tryouts for the new members of the basketball team were held during that same practice as well, and all the current members of the basketball team have participated in said tryout as well to determine if they should be moved into a higher string or even demoted. The only ones who didn't participate in the tryouts are just the captain and their new manager slash tactician – Otsubo Taisuke and Kuroko Tamaki.

As Shutoku is also a National class team, there are a great number of students that have applied to the basketball team. Most of them are decent players, and thus, have been placed in the second string, with a mere handful going to the third string. Only three freshmen are actually good enough to be in the first string with Tamaki and Midorima—Takao Kazunari, and most surprisingly—Ogiwara Shigehiro and Haizaki Shogo.

The latter two have been childhood friends with Tamaki for two lifetimes already—and Otsubo isn't surprised to find that the three of them are still as thick as thieves, given what they've been through—though not that Tamaki remembers it. Due to his father's job however, Ogiwara actually has to move to Kyoto for middle school, much to his displeasure. And with the entire fiasco that is the championship league, Otsubo is honestly surprised that Ogiwara still wants anything to do with basketball, and being in the same team as two members of the Generation of Miracles even.

Haizaki on the other hand had actually been in Teiko with Tamaki, but for some reason, he had never joined the basketball club there. When Otsubo had asked him when he'd approached him to join Shutoku, all that Haizaki would answer is that while he agree that Aomine, Kise and Murasakibara have done the things that they did for a good reason, it isn't good enough in his book. Haizaki had probably avoided joining the basketball club to prevent himself from smacking them in the face for upsetting his best friend the way they did the last time. Never mind the fact that they don't even remember—and Haizaki had never really gotten along with Kise in the first place as the blonde is too 'flowery' for his tastes. As far as Otsubo is aware, Haizaki is actually in the judo club of Teiko, and had actually won several awards for the school. He had even been named the judo team captain at the end of his first year.

"Let's go for it then." Tamaki mused, glancing at Otsubo above her clipboard whom nodded. "It's going to take me some time to come up with training regimes and menus for them though."

"It's no problem." Otsubo stated, taking the clipboard from Tamaki, and his eyes almost bulged as he saw just how detailed the notes are on each and every single player—ranging from the regulars down to the most insignificant third stringer.

Give Tamaki a week, and he had no doubt that she'll have every single one of their habits and even the ways they'll develop down pat. He still remembers just why everyone feared to make Kuroko Tamaki an enemy the last time—she had her ways to gather intelligence and information on anyone—even information that no one else knew.

The Shutoku captain then looked up only to see that Tamaki had joined Ogiwara, Haizaki, Midorima and Takao on the court—with the five freshmen facing off against Miyaji, Kimura and a few seniors in a mock match. Amateurs probably couldn't make head or tail of the 'messy' movements that the five freshmen are utilising—but Otsubo knew enough of basketball to know that each and every single movement is calculated and designed to counter their opponents. If Tamaki is as skilled at tactics and strategies like she is in the past, then Shutoku might just have a chance at the championship cup this year. Though it is pretty amazing that people like Ogiwara, Haizaki and Takao who have never played in a basketball match together with her in the same team could take their teamwork play to this level.

"So what do you think, Otsubo?" Nakatani asked, approaching the Shutoku captain. "Our newbies this year." He jerked his chin towards the direction of the court. He had obviously seen something that he liked, as he had a pleased smile on his face.

"Well, they're called the Generation of Miracles for a reason. All of us knew that they're going to be strong." Otsubo said slowly. "But Takao is pretty skilled too. And Ogiwara didn't gain his name as 'Lionheart' for nothing—being one of the few players out there that is on par with the Generation of Miracles. Haizaki is an unknown card though—he played a bit of basketball, as he's childhood friends with Tamaki and Ogiwara, but until he'd entered high school, he had never joined an official team."

"Things are looking up for us." Nakatani said with a pleased smile. "We might just stand a chance at winning the championship cup this year. As far as I'm aware, Seiho and Seishinkan didn't manage to get a member of the Generation of Miracles."

"…I see."

XXXXXX

Otsubo, Miyaji and Kimura have managed to catch the five freshmen at the front gates of the school after basketball practice was let out for the day, much to their relief. Neither one of the trio have managed to have a good talk with those who actually had their memories (Takao, Ogiwara and Haizaki)—as Otsubo had mainly arranged for Ogiwara's acceptance into Shutoku via a phone call to the orange haired teen, seeing as how he had lived in Kyoto.

"Hey, freshmen!" Miyaji waved to the five freshmen as the three seniors approached. "We're going to have a welcome to the team small celebration for you freshmen. Want to join us?"

"Sorry. I can't." Tamaki apologised, looking apologetic. She exchanged looks with Midorima whose eyes dawned in realisation.

"Uh… Yeah. I can't either." Midorima said quickly, turning to face his seniors. "Maybe another time."

"Both of you at the same time?" Takao said in confusion, cocking his head to one side. "Are you two…going out on a date?"

Both of them spluttered, and Midorima turned red enough to put a tomato to shame. "No!" Midorima denied. "I just have something on after this!"

"What about you three?" Kimura asked, taking pity on Midorima and turning towards a grinning Takao, Ogiwara and Haizaki—the latter whom looked very amused.

"Well, I'm free." Takao said in a sing-song voice.

"We—"

Ogiwara was about to decline, shooting Tamaki a look, but the teal head shook her head. "I'll be fine," she told her childhood friends. "Go and join them."

Ogiwara looked ready to argue, but Haizaki only looked concerned. "Well, if you're sure," he trailed off, and Tamaki nodded. "Okay. I guess it's just us then." He turned towards the seniors. "Be careful, Tamaki."

"I will." Tamaki nodded her head before bidding them farewell, and walking towards the nearby bus stop with Midorima next to her.

"What's up with that?" Miyaji asked at last after a long silence. "Do they remember or not?"

"They really don't remember." Takao said patiently, leading the way towards the nearest restaurant. "I asked them in class earlier."

"I think…maybe Tamaki is going to the hospital." Otsubo murmured, and he received odd looks for his words, and sighed. "I'll explain later."

Minutes later, the six of them were standing in front of an establishment that had the words 'Rising Sun' across the signboard. None of the other Shutoku players noticed the troubled looks that Ogiwara and Haizaki exchanged between themselves even as they stepped in into the half full restaurant.

"Sorry for the interruption. Is there room for six?" Miyaji called out.

"Just one moment!" A voice called out somewhere before a redhead woman wearing a simple dress with an apron over her clothes approached them, her red hair did up in a bun, and she had a warm smile on her face.

Excluding Ogiwara and Haizaki, the remaining four Shutoku players looked as if they've just bitten into an extremely sour lemon.

"Welcome to Rising Sun!" Kuroko Yuki greeted, a warm smile tugging at the ends of her lips. "Table for six? Ah! Shige-kun! Shogo-kun! It's been a while! Is this your team?"

"Yes…" Ogiwara smiled weakly, trying to ignore the glares from Otsubo and Miyaji on his person. "We're having a team celebration. It's been quite some time, Yuki-san."

"Likewise." Haizaki grunted.

Takao's eyes were as wide as saucers as he stared at the woman in front of him.

("If anything happens to me, please… Take care of my son—my children… Take care of Tamaki too. I've wronged them too much. Do for me what I couldn't do for them.")

"…Your Majesty…?" Takao murmured beneath his breath.

XXXXXX

"So are there any changes from last time?" Dr. Kunishiro Kyoya, the top psychiatrist in the Midorima Municipal Hospital asked his patient, smiling at Kuroko Tamaki who is sitting across him—with just a desk separating them both. And he just knew that just outside his door, he would find Midorima Shintaro—the son of the head of the hospital and also an aspiring doctor himself.

Dr. Midorima Shuji—the head of the hospital had referred the teenage girl to himself just two short years ago when she'd started getting several strange and disturbing dreams that had started affecting her life. She had even started saying weird things when she just woke from a dream—according to her friends when they were at summer camp together, but when they'd asked her to clarify, it is like Tamaki doesn't even remember or know what she's talking about. And apparently, Tamaki herself can't really remember what those dreams are as well. Hence why Dr. Midorima had referred the girl to him.

The usual therapy sessions that Dr. Kunishiro had done for his usual patients with problems like this doesn't seem to work on Tamaki however, and he had finally resorted to a relatively new treatment just finalised by US doctors—'dream therapy' in a way by using cutting edge technology. The Midorima Municipal Hospital is actually the first to get technology like that, as Dr. Midorima had actually gained his doctor training and license overseas.

In other words, Kuroko Tamaki is kind of the guinea pig for the technology—but thus far, it had been working quite well. The only setback is that Tamaki had to come for regular once a month sessions.

"It's happening again." Tamaki managed a weak smile, handing over the familiar black leather journal that Dr. Kunishiro had given her when she'd first started seeing the psychiatrist—telling her to write whatever comes to mind when she wakes up.

The psychiatrist flipped through the pages, reading whatever that Tamaki had written in there. As usual, he can never understand what she wrote in there—it seems like some foreign language—a language that he had never seen before, and he understood about seven different languages. When he'd asked Tamaki about it once, she had seemed confused before actually asking Dr. Kunishiro if those words are actually written by her.

"…I see." Dr. Kunishiro smiled, handing the journal back to the teal head. "I did tell you that this might happen during your last visit, didn't I? What with everything that had happened last year, and then with the sudden transition to high school—in an unfamiliar environment. Your dreams might act up once more—I told you that last month."

Tamaki nodded.

Dr. Kunishiro then got to his feet, pulling on his white doctor coat. "Come on, Kuroko-chan. Let's get Midorima-kun outside, and let's go. You know what to do," he said teasingly, laughing internally at the light flush on his patient's face. Hell, the entire hospital probably already knew of their hospital director's son's not-so-secret-crush on the teal head. The nurses are probably already placing bets on just when Midorima-kun would ask the girl out.

Midorima was seated in one of the visitor seats outside the psychiatrist's office, reading a book of some sort, only to jump up and stuff his book back into his bag when the two emerged.

The two teens knew the drill by now.

Every session that Tamaki had with the psychiatrist usually starts with her having a talk with Dr. Kunishiro. Depending on whatever had happened during that month, that talk could last up to thirty minutes to an hour. Following that, the psychiatrist would then take Tamaki to a hospital room in the restricted part of the hospital where they housed the machine for dream therapy that can usually last up to two hours. Hence, whenever Tamaki is due for a session with her psychiatrist, she can't go to sleep at all the previous night, as she needs to be asleep to use the dream therapy machine.

Midorima politely turned around with his back facing Tamaki as Dr. Kunishiro pulled the privacy curtains around Tamaki to allow her to change into the hospital gown before she emerged once more.

"See you in a bit, Midorima-kun." Tamaki said with a small smile even as she pulled on her jacket and climbed into the hospital bed, with Dr. Kunishiro lowering the helmet-like object onto her head, with said machine being hooked up to several large monitors that surveys her brain waves and activity.

"Yeah." Midorima nodded even as he watched Dr. Kunishiro placed the machine to work once more and settled down into the visitor chair by Tamaki's bedside like how he usually do every single time he came with Tamaki on her doctor visits.

"Call for me once she's awake." Dr. Kunishiro told Midorima. "It might take longer than usual today though."

"…I understand." Midorima nodded even as the psychiatrist exited the room. He glanced over at the hospital bed that Tamaki is occupying, with the silver helmet-like object covering most of her head and face before pulling out his book and continuing from where he'd left off. He'd barely moved past the first line before he felt his eyes drooped and he fell asleep.

He found himself in that place once more—the place with that large weeping sakura tree that seems so familiar to him, and yet, he knew that he had never seen this place before in his life before he'd started dreaming about this place and him.

"So you're back again," said a voice, and Midorima glanced at the foot of the tree where the cloaked figure stood. "What do you need this time?"

Sighing, Midorima was silent for several moments before he opened his mouth and begun to speak.

XXXXXX

Imayoshi Shoichi pressed his cellphone against his ear as he listened to what his fellow captain from Shutoku had to say, even as Wakamatsu, Susa and Sakurai walked on either side of him.

"So she really doesn't remember?" Imayoshi stated more than asked, as he already knew that his former commander doesn't remember her past life from what Otsubo had told him months ago when he'd extended an invitation to Kuroko Tamaki.

Of course, Wakamatsu was pretty annoyed that Shutoku managed to get their former commander, and not them. But he'd shut up pretty soon when Imayoshi told them who their coach had gotten from the Generation of Miracles.

None other than Aomine Daiki himself.

They've also gotten Momoi Satsuki, and they honestly still have no idea whether their new manager remembers or not. But whatever the case, be it last time or now, Aomine had hurt their former commander a lot, and whatever his reason is, Wakamatsu had been itching for a reason to have a go at him for some time now.

"Yeah. I'm sorry." Otsubo sighed.

"There's nothing for you to be sorry about." Imayoshi shook his head. "In a way, it might be better for her if she doesn't remember."

"Yeah. Miyaji has said the same thing." Otsubo chuckled.

Imayoshi was silent for a long time. "…Otsubo, take care of her."

"…I will." Click.

"Is that Otsubo?" Susa asked, and Imayoshi nodded. "Is it…the Commander?"

Imayoshi said nothing, but his silence answered everything.

"…Commander?" Imayoshi knocked on the door to announce his presence, using his body to push the door opened before depositing a stack of papers onto Tamaki's desk that is already nearly overflowing with papers and documents of every kind. "These are the reports and lists for the new recruits from the Academy. Also…" Imayoshi plucked the top document off the pile and handed it to Tamaki. "Hyuuga's annual report for the Defense Corps."

Tamaki almost groaned at the additional paperwork that she now has to sort through when she is nearly done with her previous pile. "I really have to look into hiring an administrator for the Royal Guard—with the level of sensitivity for our missions and assignments." Tamaki grumbled, much to Imayoshi's amusement as she looked through the report. She sighed. "…To destroy an era—it's easy. To build a new one—it's exhausting like Hell."

"Commander…"

Tamaki glanced at Imayoshi behind the piece of paper that she is reading. "And since when did you ever bother with all the formality, Imayoshi?" she asked with a quirked brow. "It's just us both here. Cease with the formalities."

Imayoshi sighed, glancing at his old classmate with a light smirk on his lips. "Very well," he said. "Don't you think that you're dealing with a little too much? At least let us handle some of it."

"I'll manage. And this is until we can get all the mess sorted out, and until Riko can find a competent administrator to handle the paperwork instead of drowning me in papers." Tamaki grumbled. "And it comes with being Commander, Imayoshi. You know that."

Imayoshi sighed, but said nothing. If truth be told, back when there were five commanders, they have divided the workload between the five of them. It had worked perfectly as they still have time to themselves and still have time to train their individual units and themselves. Now with Tamaki being the current commander due to the all the paranoia at having five commanders again, she is practically drowning in work.

"Say Imayoshi?" Tamaki spoke once more, and Imayoshi made a noise in his throat to show that he's listening. "If anything ever happens to me, I want you to help Shige-kun." She placed down the paper that she had been reading, looking at Imayoshi gravely. "I want you and the others to show him the same loyalty and respect that you've shown me."

"What are you talking about?" Imayoshi was really uncomfortable with these ominous words.

"Can you promise me this?"

Imayoshi closed his eyes briefly and nodded. "…Yes, I promise."

Imayoshi sighed to himself, pinching the bridge of his nose as he recalled the last conversation that he had with his old classmate and his commander—the one whom he'd swore fealty to outside of the Prince and the royal family—just a mere two days before Tamaki had died. Sometimes, he wonders if Tamaki had even foreseen her death—as she had been more talkative than she had been that day.

"But still, that Aomine…!" Wakamatsu grumbled, recalling their first meeting with a certain arrogant ace earlier that afternoon. If they didn't want to kill the Panther during the time of the monarch during the age of the civil war, then they definitely want to kill him earlier. In fact, it had taken Susa, Imayoshi and even Sakurai to restrain Wakamatsu from strangling Aomine earlier in the gym. "Why do we have to put up with him?" He complained loudly, still pissed at the Generation of Miracles for what they have put their commander through during the civil war.

Imayoshi gave Wakamatsu a look.

It is the same look that he always uses when he knew something about Tamaki that the others in her unit don't, and stopped them from asking any further questions. It is the same look that he uses when Tamaki had passed away, and he had managed to motivate half the soldiers in the Royal Guard to use that fury and sadness in their hearts to continue Tamaki's work, and to give that same respect and loyalty that they've once shown Kuroko Tamaki to Ogiwara Shigehiro.

"…Do it for the Commander," said Imayoshi at last.

There was silence for several moments.

"…Yes sir."

"Imayoshi-san?" Sakurai spoke up, and Imayoshi glanced at the only freshman amongst their group. The once timid and constantly apologising teen from the time of the monarch when Tamaki had rescued him from being executed had come a long way since. "Is it possible for us to meet with…Tamaki-san?" He flushed at all the stares on his person. "It's just… I know that she may never remember, but I owed her my life the last time." He admitted. "If she hadn't saved me, I would likely end up dead in the dungeons. I understand now what the Generation of Miracles were doing, and what the Red King's intentions are, but regardless…" He trailed off slowly before shaking his head. "I want to meet her once more." Sakurai said again. "'People never really change. They repeat'. Tamaki-san said that once. You want to meet her too, don't you?"

The other three fell silent. "Well true. I want to meet the Commander too." Wakamatsu admitted. "But if she doesn't remember, isn't it better to leave her alone? I mean…" He trailed off slowly.

Sakurai looked expectantly at Imayoshi who sighed. "…I'll arrange a practice match with Otsubo," he said.

XXXXXX

Kuroko Tamaki kept her word for more than two months after Midorima had returned from his 'mission'—she didn't speak a single word to him, and even when she passed by him in the hallways, she just simply walked past him as if he doesn't even exist.

At least until one day when she'd returned from a reconnaissance mission that had taken her up to two weeks on the field, only to be met with a grave looking Imayoshi in her office—with the man telling her that Takao had apparently shot his mouth off due to a recent mission that Midorima had undertaken, and he was thus arrested and chucked into the dungeons—slated to be executed for treason against the Crown.

Tamaki had made her way down to the dungeons immediately the moment that Imayoshi had given her this piece of news. Takao was chained to the dungeon walls, and while Tamaki isn't pleased to see this, she is relieved that he is alive at least.

"Why did you shoot your mouth off?" Tamaki asked Takao blandly through the bars of his cell. "You know what would happen if you did. How many times have we seen it happen?"

Takao grinned weakly at her, almost fearful of his impending death. "I'm sorry," he apologised. "But… I just couldn't take it anymore!" He met Tamaki's eyes. "The missions that the Red King had been forcing Shin-chan to go on of late is killing him from the inside out! If it carries on for much longer, Shin-chan will…" He trailed off.

Tamaki's eyes softened slightly when she heard Midorima's name for the first time in two months. "…Is he doing well?" she asked at last, taking one step closer to the cell, wrapping the fingers of her right hand around the bars.

Takao shook his head sadly. "He's not doing all that great," he admitted. "I don't know what happened between you both, but I do know that it is adding onto his bad mood. He's been in a royally pissed off mood lately." Tamaki said nothing, and Takao leaned back against the wall behind him. "Hey Tamaki. Am I really going to die?" He asked.

Tamaki didn't know what to say. She can probably do something to get Takao out—but it is going to take some luck, and it also depends on who is going to be the one doing the execution.

"…Tamaki!"

Tamaki's eyes widened and she turned only to see a panting and frantic looking Midorima Shintaro standing behind her, his hair dishevelled and his glasses askew—looking as if he'd just ran the entire way here.

"Shin-chan!"

Tamaki's eyes rested on Midorima for several moments. "…Midorima-kun."

Midorima almost flinched at the formal form of address that Tamaki uses—back when they were still in the Academy, and before they have started dating.

"I… I heard from Imayoshi that you've just returned from your recon mission," he started, catching his breath back, and fixing his glasses on his face. "I…" He gulped, listening for any spies, but couldn't sense or hear any. "Please Tamaki…! Help Takao!"

Takao's eyes widened from where he is in his cell, as Midorima had nearly gotten down on his knees with those words, the sheer desperation in his voice obvious to all. Miyaji had managed to sneak down to the dungeons a week after he was thrown into the jail, telling him that Midorima had been pleading with the King every single day to release Takao—using every single excuse ever known to mankind.

Takao can only assume that asking Tamaki is the last resort.

Tamaki looked at Midorima, recalling the report of the 'genocide' that Midorima had gone on two months ago that Shogo had given to her. The entire village had gone up in flames, and a little over two hundred people have died, despite Imayoshi and Wakamatsu having rode on ahead to warn them. Those people have loved their village and their home, and would rather go down fighting for their home than flee. According to Imayoshi, they have also told him that even if they die, they will die knowing that they'd helped a man who had at least tried to protect the common citizens from the tyranny of the King.

"And pray tell, why should I help you?" Tamaki looked at Midorima with something akin to disgust in her eyes.

"If not for me, then for Takao!" Midorima pleaded. "Please…! He's never done anything wrong in his life! I know that you have your ways! Please… I've never begged you for anything in my life. So please, Tamaki! Save Takao!"

Tamaki closed her eyes briefly before opening them again. "…I'll try my best," she said at last. "Whether I can save him or not will depend on which unit is slated to execute him. And mark my words, Midorima-kun, it won't be you."

Midorima nodded—he of course already knew this. But right now, all that he can do is to hope.

"Besides—" Midorima gave a start as Tamaki spoke again, and he looked into her eyes, with the flame torches on the walls illuminating her eyes. "You can't keep ignoring everything around you as no business of your own, Midorima-kun. By the time that you realised it, and wanted to do something to stop it, it might already be too late. And maybe someday…" She trailed off slowly before turning to leave, clapping Midorima on the shoulder, but pausing before she could leave the dungeon. "But get this straight: I'm not doing this for you, but for Takao. He's my friend too."

It was nearly a week after that when Takao heard the doors to the dungeon leading to his cell swinging opened once more, and he looked up from where he had buried his face into his knees.

What time is it? Is it nearly midnight?

Takao was mildly surprised and even a tad bit bewildered to see Tamaki walking into the dungeon with Imayoshi by her side, a dark cloak draped over her arm. "Takao, are you all right?" Imayoshi asked even as Tamaki handed him a ring of keys and he inserted a key into the lock of the cell, unlocking it.

The chains binding Takao's wrists and ankles to the wall behind him were soon off, and the raven head rubbed at his wrists. "Why…?" Takao barely managed to ask his question before a dark cloak was handed to him by Tamaki.

"Put this on, and hurry." Tamaki told Takao urgently, careful to keep her voice low, looking around her every now and then. "We're getting you out of here tonight."

"Wait, what will happen to you if I do this?" Takao asked Tamaki even as he pulled on the dark cloak over his body, pulling the hood over his head.

"Nothing." Tamaki said simply. "We're supposed to be the ones to kill you tonight. I'm sorry that it took this long, but we can only break you out on the day of your execution so as to not arouse any suspicions."

"What will you do if the King demands to see my corpse?" Takao demanded, not wanting to be the cause of Tamaki and maybe even her entire unit's deaths. He is no fool; if Tamaki is involved in breaking him out, chances are that the rest of her unit are involved too.

"Momoi is preparing a fake corpse for us at this instant." Imayoshi answered. "Come on! We don't have time!"

It is probably pretty late into the night, as they met no one as Tamaki led the way towards one of the side gates leading out of the Royal City. It isn't one that Takao knew about, so chances are that this is probably one of the secret side gates known only to the Intelligence Division.

A horse is already waiting at the side gates, already tethered and harnessed. With much difficulty, Takao hoisted himself atop the horse who let out a low neigh. "Head straight on the side road, and wait by the side of a dead pine tree." Tamaki told Takao seriously. "Shige-kun will come for you. Good luck, Takao."

"Tamaki, I—"

"We'll meet again." Tamaki said. "I'm leaving the palace soon. This isn't goodbye. Not for a long shot."

Imayoshi then smacked the hide of the horse who let out an indignant neigh before galloping off into the night, with Takao clinging onto the reins. He kept looking back over his shoulder at Tamaki and Imayoshi who disappeared back into the blackness of the night.

"Please… Keep them safe…" Takao murmured a prayer beneath his breath.

He wonders for a wonder why he couldn't believe in it himself.

A/N: Geez, pretty long chapter this time around. And on a side note, I know that I can't really judge how well a story is doing based on the number of reviews, but I'll really appreciate some feedback for this story, as this reincarnation AU is based on a fantasy based reality story in the Kuroko no Basuke fandom, and I'm not even sure if my readers find it interesting or boring.

To answer a question that I've received some time ago, while basketball will still play a part in this story, it won't be the focal point of this story. This story will mainly be about acceptance, their memories and their bonds. Because even though they've already reincarnated, due to what had happened in their past life, all those that have remembered are still clinging onto their old memories.

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

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