Author's Note: I have no excuse for being this late. It's been over a month since the last update for a series that should have been weekly. I'll only say that I've had a lot of personal troubles as of late and haven't gotten around to any of my projects (heck I've been sick for half of the school year already and it's only just begun). So, I'm sorry for the wait! But I got it! YAY~ I hope this rounds out your expectations for this fic, I certainly am happy with it (big surprise, lol). Thanks again to Mistress of the Words for this lovely request, I had a blast (pun intended) writing it and I'll be ever thankful for it. Thank you to all of my readers (especially my reviewers) and all of you who have put up with me for this long!

I'll take requests for one-shots or chapter stories if you'd like me to write some more! Leave it in a review or pm me. I'd love to write for all of my lovely readers~

I love you all and thank you for reading!

Seven people and a dog raced forward, each from their own business and predicaments, to aid one of their own that desperately needed their help. With one phone call, they all dropped what they were doing and rushed to the scene. It wasn't necessarily the phone call from Akashi that sent the rest of the Generation of Miracles into action. The phone call made them aware of the situation; the situation they'd all dreaded deep in their hearts. While the oath they all swore entailed their obedience to Akashi's demands, it wasn't needed for them to run to the aid of Kuroko. It was the dark memory of their past, of what was being re-enacted as their feet pounded the ground with each step, that caused them all to act.

The Generation of Miracles may have all gone to different schools. But between the five players and their special sixth man, there is a bond that no team-change could ever replace. The bond between six people who shared an undefeated reign. Six people that have been through what no other team had before. They have been isolated from the rest of the Japanese high-school basketball world in more ways than one. And in that isolation the only true bonds they still hold were with themselves. It may have been from that trauma in the past, the trauma caused by Haizaki, which brought them so close together. And emerging from that trauma was the fierce protectiveness they all held towards Kuroko Tetsuya. Even those like Murasakibara and Midorima, who claimed to never care for him, would willingly come racing when he's threatened. Despite what they say, when a true threat comes to light, protecting their team's former shadow was what absolutely needed to be done. And the Generation of Miracles will always do this for one simple reason:

They loved their teammate in the purest sense and no one was allowed to hurt him anymore.

When Kise got the phone call, he was lying in a hospital bed. Everyone had long since gone and he just wanted to be at home. He'd been a bit irked after Kagami called him, asking all of the questions about Kuroko. He wasn't sure if Kagami would get the information he was looking for, but he was happy with his decision in not telling him. It should be Kurokocchi who tells Kagami… Though if we leave it to him, Kagamicchi will probably never find out! Kise smiled morosely and leaned back in the hospital bed.

Truthfully, he could have been home right now. But the team had taken him to the hospital to make sure his knee was okay. The doctors made him stay overnight so they could run a few more tests. However, they'd said they'd do that two hours ago and no doctors had shown up since. Sighing in boredom, Kise leaned back against the bed. His phone suddenly rang, a catchy little ringtone that always made him smile no matter what. Picking it up, his smile disappeared. It was Akashi. And Akashi never called unless it was something important or drastic. Kise knew it wasn't good, and he didn't know if his heart could take what was on the other end. Regardless, it was Akashi, and he had to answer.

"Hello?" his voice was tentatively shaking.

"Get down to Maji Burger now, Ryouta. It's Tetsuya and it's happening again," Akashi's voice wavered slightly on the other line and Kise instantly felt dread fill his entire body. He felt like throwing up. Kurokocchi! How did this happen again… Tears came to Kise's eyes as he managed to choke out a yes. The dial tone rang out hollowly in his head and the phone dropped to the bed, bounced awkwardly then fell harshly to the floor, breaking open and scattering itself around the room. Kise wanted to cry. Every emotion in his body was screaming in the memory of that day. He gripped the blanket draped over his legs until his knuckles turned taut and white. The tears fell, large drops falling wetly onto his lap. Kise choked back a sob, glancing wildly around, suddenly unaware of his surroundings.

"Kurokocchi…" just imagining what could be happening him suddenly instilled a fury inside of the blond and he bolted up, the pain from his knee almost making him collapse. But Kise grit his teeth and quickly grabbed the crutches set off to the side and began to make his way out of the door. No one would stop him from getting to Kuroko this time. He used the crutches as a type of catapult and launched himself forward so he could get the most distance out of the mobility-inhibiting object. He flung himself into the elevator and took a moment to calm himself down. Just wait, Kurokocchi. I'll get there as fast as I can! Kise breathed out slowly, his eyes closed as he awaited the ground level. Please, don't let me be too late…

Aomine and Momoi were together when they got the call. Aomine had called her when he was done with Kagami and told her that he'd revealed Kuroko's secret to him. Momoi was surprisingly angry at Aomine being such a pushover to Kagami's questions. She'd invited herself over and had been there quicker than Aomine thought possible.

"Aomine-kun, how could you tell something so personal about Tetsu-kun to him?" she demanded, looking hurt, as if Aomine had betrayed her.

"You weren't there, Satsuki!" snapped Aomine, annoyed at himself for the exact same reason she was there.

"How do you think Akashi-kun would feel if he found out you'd said that? Or even worse, Tetsu-kun? Don't you think he'd be hurt that you said such things? Were you even thinking about Tetsu-kun's feelings?" she ranted, wiping a tear from her eye. "There's a reason he hides it, you know!" she was beginning to shake, she was getting so upset. "And you had to tell Kagami-kun!"

"I didn't have to tell him, Satsuki! It's not like I sought him out just for the sole purpose of telling him!" shouted Aomine, livid that Momoi was lecturing him like this. He most definitely wasn't happy he'd told Kagami. In fact, Aomine felt sick about it all. He wasn't sure why he told Kagami, why he gave into the pressure. Maybe it was because of the situation the other was in, that he pitied him. He'd always found it odd that Kagami knew so little about Kuroko. Maybe it was simply circumstantial but it was the biggest difference between the relationship Kagami and Kuroko have and the one that Aomine and Kuroko once had. Kagami simply didn't know anything. Aomine frowned at his own thoughts and shook his head back and forth in frustration. "I regret it, okay?" said Aomine at last, glancing at his childhood friend earnestly. "Just stop bothering me about it."

Momoi was going to reply when Aomine's phone went off. Surprised, he answered.

"Daiki, come down to Maji Burger. Now," demanded Akashi over the line, his voice on edge and filled with overflowing stress.

"What's going on?"" demanded Aomine, his stomach suddenly dropping in fear.

"Tetsuya's in trouble. Just come," snapped Akashi.

"Okay, Satsuki and I are on our way," said Aomine, surprisingly calm as he closed his phone and turned to Momoi. His expression changed from confused to suddenly desperately afraid. Momoi instantly understood that one look and she fought back tears. "Come on," he threw open the door. "Keep up or I'll leave you behind, Satsuki!"

The cashier handed Murasakibara his large bag of sweets, an estranged, slightly frightened look contorting his face into a grimace. Without a care to what the cashier thought of him, Murasakibara took the bag lightly from the man's hand and exited the convenience store, already fishing out a cracker snack from the bag and plucking it into his mouth. He looked languidly out at the rest of the street, almost empty except for a few passer-bys. He let out a small, contemplative 'hmm' as he began walking in no direction in particular. His mind hadn't been on anything in particular as of late. Some days he'd think back to the match he had with Kuroko and he'd think of what the invisible player had said to him. How his basketball style had changed since that match. Kurochin is some guy… he smiled slightly to himself as he walked further.

A soft, bubbly ringing sound told the huge purple-haired teen that someone was calling him. Murasakibara furrowed his eyebrows and plucked it out of his pocket, finishing the last of the treat in order to talk semi-coherently. "Who could it be?" he thought out loud, flipping it open lazily. "Hello?" he drawled curiously.

"Atsushi? It's Akashi," answered the voice on the other end. Murasakibara's eyebrows raised in surprise.

"Akachin? What's going on?" he asked in confusion.

"We need your help. I think Tetsuya's in trouble again. The others are on their way but…" Murasakibara cut off his former captain.

"Don't worry Akachin, I'll be right there, where's Kurochin?" he asked, feeling suddenly worried. Him and Kuroko never necessarily got along but he still felt protective towards him. At least, when Kuroko wasn't his opponent.

"We think near Maji Burger. Hurry, or it could be like last time," Akashi disconnected without a goodbye and Murasakibara pocketed his phone.

"Hmm? Haizaki again? I'll crush him if he hurts Kurochin…" he mumbled to himself as he picked up his pace a bit and headed towards Maji Burger.

The last person Akashi called was Midorima. He was with Takao, shooting baskets in the gym like he always was. The Shuutoku point guard yawned as he threw another ball back towards Midorima. They'd been practicing for about an hour. Midorima of course, hadn't missed. Midorima caught the ball and held it, giving Takao a curious look.

"Are you done?" he asked. "You can leave if you like, I don't need you to pass me the ball," he explained, shooting it again. Takao watched lazily as the ball made it's outrageous arc into the net and bounced to the ground with a resounding thud.

"It's fine, Shin-chan, I've got nowhere to be," mumbled Takao, throwing the ball with one hand at the ace-shooter. Midorima hid a wry smile and shot the ball again. "That reminds me, the other day after Kaijou's match, you disappeared, where'd you go?" asked Takao, passing it again. Midorima frowned, the ball bouncing past him. Takao looked instantly afraid that he'd upset Midorima and he laughed uncomfortably. "B-but you don't have to tell me! I was just curious!" he waved his hands back and forth wildly. Midorima shrugged passively.

"Kise was injured and I noticed Akashi heading down to the courts," said Midorima simply, shooting the ball. It hit the rim but still bounced in. Midorima scowled and narrowed his eyes.

"Why would Akashi care?" asked Takao curiously.

"It has to do with that player, Haizaki Shougo. In middle school he was a troublesome player on our team. It was likely because of that incident that Akashi went down there. Naturally, I wanted to know what was going on," said Midorima, refusing to admit that he had wondered if Kise was okay. Takao broke into a smirk and laughed at Midorima loudly. "What?" snapped the green-haired teen, annoyed at Takao's laughter.

"You're telling me that you went down there just because of Akashi?" Takao snickered.

"I wasn't the only one! The others were there too," defended Midorima, looking flustered as he snatched a ball up, rolling it in his hands.

"Wait, all of you went down there? Why?" asked Takao, genuinely confused and surprised.

Midorima was silent for a moment. They'd all come because of their oath, the oath they all took after what happened. And they'd been right to assume that Haizaki was going to go after Kuroko again. Midorima personally found it disgusting that Haizaki would go through such measures just because he enjoyed it. He silently ground his teeth together.

"Shin-chan?" asked Takao in response to the silence. Midorima looked up and was about to speak, but his cell phone interrupted him. Not expecting any call, Midorima walked over and Akashi's name flashed in his face. Akashi? What? he narrowed his eyes and opened the phone.

"Akashi?" he asked harshly. He glanced at Takao, who looked surprised to hear the name of the caller.

"Shintarou, I need you to do something for me. Tetsuya's in trouble and we're going to help him. I need you to get the police and possibly an ambulance. I don't know where he is. I'll tell you when we find him," Akashi's voice, though calm, was filled with dread.

"It's Haizaki?" inquired Midorima.

"Yes. Head towards Maji Burger, that should be the approximate location of them both…" he trailed off and then hung up. Midorima lowered the phone and looked darkly at the wall. It felt very suspicious that just as he was talking about Kuroko and that incident, that something like this should happen. He flipped his phone open again and dialed the police.

"Shin-chan, what's going on?" asked Takao, surprised. But Midorima didn't respond, he was too busy fulfilling his part of the rescue plan.

Akashi ran through the streets, looking down the dark alleyways and around corners, anywhere that could possibly hide Kuroko and Haizaki from sight. He spotted Kagami up ahead and sprinted forward with a burst of speed. "Kagami," he said harshly, glancing darkly at the Seirin player. Kagami jumped in surprise, his eyes going wide in shock. Apparently, Akashi's sudden appearance had given him a fright.

"Who do you think you are, Kuroko?" snapped Kagami. Not humored by the ill-timed comment, Akashi glowered at him and Kagami forced himself to look away.

"Where's the dog?" asked Akashi, looking around.

"He ran off and didn't stop!" complained Kagami in annoyance. "This is why I hate goddamn dogs," he grumbled.

"Stop complaining. We have more important things to do," explained Akashi calmly. Kagami stared at the former Teikou captain in momentary awe and wondered how someone could stay so calm in such a situation. Kagami was livid with anger and wanted to hit the next person he saw.

Akashi suddenly stopped at the intersection of a road. In front of them was the river. Next to them was a building that had been abandoned. Akashi narrowed his eyes down at the broken glass scattered on the ground.

"Akashi! Why are you stopping!?" snapped Kagami, almost wanting to hit the captain. Akashi bent down and gingerly picked up a sizable piece of broken glass, turning it in his hand. His expression was dark and angry and Kagami felt a chill go through him. Perhaps he's not as calm as I thought...

"Wait…" Akashi glanced up from the piece of glass and towards the sky, listening intently as he heard it again, a small whimper from down on the riverbed. "The dog…" he mumbled, running forward and half-sliding down the riverbank. He only had to search a moment to find the dog, trapped in a bush. He must have fallen down the side and gotten stuck. Now of all times… Akashi narrowed his eyes and released the animal, quickly carrying it up onto flat ground. Nigou barked madly.

"Akashi!" cried Aomine's voice as he ran towards the two of them. A ways behind him, Momoi was still catching up as she yelled complaints at Aomine for leaving her behind. "Hurry up Satsuki!" snapped Aomine. He turned to Akashi, looking completely worried. "Akashi, where is he? Where's Tetsu?!" he asked, winded from running so far.

"We don't know yet," grumbled Akashi in frustration. "But we know someone who does," he looked at Nigou, who barked angrily at them for taking their sweet time with it all.

"Well come on then!" shouted Aomine, his teeth grinding together. "That bastard could be… Tetsu might…" he couldn't form full sentences and he quickly gave up trying.

"Akachin!" Murasakibara rounded the corner to find the group of them. Akashi swiftly acknowledged Murasakibara's appearance. He figured Kise couldn't move very far too quickly in his state, and Midorima was getting the police.

"Let's go."

It was a considerably longer distance from Maji Burger than Kagami and Akashi had originally expected. Nigou led the group continually farther away and finally off the main road entirely. A sense of unease settled over all of the players. Why in the world would you go way out here, Tetsuya!? Akashi felt the severity of Kuroko's naivety show blatantly apparent in just this decision alone. Nigou whined as they got closer. A shiver went through Akashi as he finally saw them.

It was as chilling as it was the first time. They could clearly see the frame of Haizaki as he loomed over the ever-fragile body of Kuroko. Their fight had moved to the bridge. Haizaki had already given Kuroko quite a beating. No matter how hard Kuroko tried to fight back, he simply wasn't a match for someone who hurt people for sport.

Haizaki's eyes glinted towards the oncoming troupe of rescuers. He gritted his teeth in annoyance. So those shits really did come… Kuroko struggled, trying to make contact with Haizaki's flesh, desperately trying to make him stop. He noticed Haizaki glance to the side. And he felt instant relief and gratitude flood over him. His momentary relief however, was short lived.

"Then I'll cut this short," growled Haizaki, a darkness settling into his eyes.

"It's over, Haizaki. It's going to end like it did last time. If you stop now maybe Akashi-kun won't kill you," despite his state, Kuroko let a small smile slide onto his face. Haizaki gave Kuroko an enraged snarl and punched him in the face with a sickening smack. Kuroko felt his vision go blurry as he nearly sunk to the ground. Haizaki picked Kuroko up by his throat, his fingers crushing into Kuroko's windpipe.

"HAIZAKI!" yelled Aomine, the anger and dread settling into his face as he ran up with the rest of them. Haizaki turned towards them, his expression blank. Slowly, a smirk spread cruelly, pulling his lips up grotesquely. Kuroko swung his legs wildly, kicking Haizaki squarely in the shin. The gray-haired thug didn't even flinch though and Kuroko could feel his strength lessen in his hand.

"Hey there, Daiki. Nice to see you've come," chuckled Haizaki. "I guess you've been looking for this…" he trailed off and turned to Kuroko, squirming and struggling to breathe. "Too late…" with a flick of his wrist he let go, the palm of his hand pushing against Kuroko, causing the small boy to tip over the edge of the bridge.

It was as if everything was going in slow motion. Kuroko's eyes widened and he grasped wildly, only clutching the thin nothingness of the air. Haizaki simply watched with a gleeful simper. Aomine, finally reaching the commotion, watched in horror as Kuroko slipped away and plummeted into the shadowy water below.

"TETSU!" he shouted. Without a moment's hesitation he leaped in after his former partner. There was a distant, horrified scream of terror from Momoi but he didn't even hear it. He hit the water hard, the coldness of the river making him go into momentary shock. The river moved quicker than Aomine had expected, and as he surfaced, all he could see was blackness. Immediate fear swept over him. He was a good swimmer, he knew that. But he wasn't afraid for himself. He was afraid for Kuroko. How bad of state is he in? Will he be able to stay afloat? he fretted. A small ways ahead of him he suddenly spotted a bright blue mop of hair, bobbing up and down and away from him. "Tetsu!" he yelled, coughing out water.

Aomine put all of his strength into swimming and he finally caught up to Kuroko. The small boy's pale frame seemed to glow in the dark water. Aomine grabbed onto him and Kuroko's eyes opened partially. He couldn't see for the darkness but he could make out Aomine's voice. He didn't have it in him to try and struggle, to even try and tread water. The damage inflicted by Haizaki accompanied by the bone-chilling cold of the water had completely drained all the strength in his body. His mind then went as black as the water.

Aomine felt Kuroko's weight become heavier. "Wake up, Tetsu," he urged, tightening his grip on him and slowly treading back to the shore. Exhaustion setting in, Aomine struggled to beat the current. His feet finally met the sandy shoreline and he nearly collapsed right into the water. Kuroko drifted in the embrace of Aomine's arm. The dark skinned teenager then used his remaining strength to pull his friend up onto the shore.

"Aomine-kun!" cried Momoi, rushing down the hillside, eyes wide in fear and tears forming. Aomine fell to his knees, breathing heavily, his entire body was freezing. "Aomine-kun, Tetsu-kun…" Momoi wasn't able to form comprehensible words. Aomine glanced at her then down at Kuroko. The teal-haired boy's eyes were still closed and he was still ghostly pale. "Is Tetsu-kun okay… Aomine-kun are you okay?" Momoi was overwhelmed with worry as she looked between her two precious friends.

"Don't worry, Satsuki. I'm fine," Aomine leaned down and listened for Kuroko's breathing. While it was soft and shallow, he was still breathing and Aomine was thankful for that. Momoi sat down next to Kuroko, not looking fully convinced that he was okay. She brushed Kuroko's hair away from his eyes, fighting back tears. She could already see some of the bruises forming, especially on Kuroko's neck. It had turned out just as awful this time around as well. Overcome with a surplus of bottled-in emotion she burst into tears. She brought her hands to her eyes, trying to wipe away the tears but they were forming quicker than she could wipe. She felt a light touch on her hand. Expecting it to be Aomine, she looked up in shock. But Aomine wasn't even looking at her. Tears still falling from her face Momoi followed the hand on hers and found the owner, Kuroko, staring at her, a small smile on his face.

"There's no need to cry, Momoi-san. I'm all right," he said, his voice airy and strained. This just made Momoi tear up even more and she grasped Kuroko's hand tightly and wailed, hugging him full force.

"Satsuki!" cried Aomine in annoyance.

"I can't breathe," Kuroko gave a pleading look towards Momoi. The pink haired girl flew off of him with just those words and looked guilty of committing a horrible crime.

"Tetsu, are you really okay?" implored Aomine, looking wary. He noticed Kuroko's eyelids flutter as he tried to make sense of Aomine's question. His eyes then closed and he was unconscious again.

"We need to get him to a hospital," said Momoi worriedly, less panicked.

Murasakibara, who had been seconds behind Aomine, ran up giving Haizaki a deadly stare. "What're you gonna do, Atsushi? Heh, it looks like I-" Haizaki's taunt was cut off as Murasakibara grabbed him by the head, his entire hand encompassing his scalp, and with one hand threw him to the ground.

"Bastard!" shouted Kagami, picking Haizaki up and holding him by the collar of his shirt, considering pushing him over like he had done to Kuroko.

"Out of my way," Akashi forced Kagami to step to the side, causing the fiery redhead to stumble and glare at the oppressive teenager angrily. Akashi simply stared at Haizaki for a few moments. His mind, which usually was a number of steps ahead of everyone else, was still catching up with the situation. Haizaki's expression had changed from one of defiance and taunting to genuine fear and dread in almost an instant. Akashi looked to the side, his eyes narrowing and then he turned back to Haizaki. "Give me one reason not to drown you," he said in a deadpan, his fury slowly building.

"You wouldn't do that," Haizaki laughed uncomfortably, as if trying to convince himself of this fact. "You only threaten. You wouldn't actually do it," he said with more confidence.

"I've only been known to threaten because no one has dared to push me this far," explained Akashi briskly. "Who knows… Maybe I would do it," Akashi's eyes glinted dangerously. He smirked, his fingers sliding over the edges of the piece of glass in his hand. He chuckled. "But unlike the others I'm not as easily moved by my emotions," he glanced at Kagami. "No matter how mad I am, I don't see why the police can't find a just punishment for you…" he trailed off and frowned. "Never mind that, I made a promise, didn't I?" he breathed, as if he was talking to himself.

Haizaki didn't even have time to react before Akashi moved, his speed being nearly instantaneous. The next moment, the shard of glass was lodged between his shoulder blade and neck. Akashi watched emotionlessly as Haizaki cried out in pain and fell to the ground, attempting to grab at the shard. Blood began to pour from the wound, soaking through his shirt.

"You damn bastard!" hissed Haizaki in pain.

"Akachin you usually don't hurt people," mumbled Murasakibara, seemingly satisfied now that Haizaki had been sufficiently punished.

"No I don't," replied Akashi vaguely. He glanced at Kagami who was restlessly glaring at them. He wasn't sure what he should be doing but he had pent up anger and he now didn't have anyone to deal it to. "My, you look angry," observed Akashi with almost a hint of humor. "Understand that this was a personal vendetta between Haizaki and us. Should someone threaten Kuroko again, by all means, you do what you want. We won't get involved unless you mess it up," he said blandly. Kagami couldn't quite understand what Akashi had said and just stared at him blankly in anger. He was aware that he had been insulted but he couldn't do anything about it.

"Fine…" he mumbled, coming up with no other answer.

"Akashi!" called Midorima, arriving with the police. Akashi had told him the exact location of the ordeal. He'd left Murasakibara with Haizaki to make sure he didn't run away and went to make sure Kuroko and Aomine were all right. Kuroko was still unconscious by the time he had gotten there but from what Aomine and Momoi told him, he was all right. However, the cold was setting in, and he could tell that if Kuroko and Aomine were out much longer they could fall seriously ill, especially Kuroko with the state he was in.

Kuroko and Aomine were taken to the hospital. The drivers of the ambulance had wanted Haizaki to be treated as well but no one was going to allow them all to be in the same car together and overruled them. Haizaki was loaded into the police car, who were to drive to the hospital and watch over him until he was treated. He'd then be taken to jail for assault along with other charges. As Kuroko was being loaded onto the ambulance, there was a shout from down the road.

"K-KUROKOCCHI!" the others turned to see Kise, wobbly on his crutches as he stumbled up to them, looking worried and exhausted at the same time. "Is Kurokocchi all right? Am I too late?" he panted.

"You're extraordinarily late," said Midorima.

"Kisechin is so slow," mumbled Murasakibara.

"Ki-chan was a bit slow…" admitted Momoi.

Kise cried out indignantly to their ganging up on him. He saw Kuroko being loaded onto the ambulance and went quiet. "Is he really okay?" he asked seriously.

"The paramedics said he'd be fine," assured Akashi. "Aomine too, though both came close to hypothermia." Kise blinked at Akashi. It was the first time he'd heard him talk that entire night. The captain of the Generation of Miracles had been silent since he'd stabbed Haizaki.

Kagami stood off to the side. He felt as if he hadn't done anything at all. Momoi walked up to him. "Kagami-kun, you don't have to look so down. Tetsu-kun will be fine!" she said with a smile. Kagami grimaced at her and stared at the ground, not keen on talking to her at all. "And it's thanks to you that we knew where to go!" Kagami looked back up at her in shock. She saw small tears in her eyes as she smiled at him, though it was a pained smile. "Without you it would have been much worse, so thank you!" she bowed deeply. Flustered, Kagami rubbed the back of his head.

"No problem…" he muttered.

Kuroko opened his eyes to a bright hospital room. He squinted as his sight adjusted and became clearer. He sat up slowly, looking around. He noticed that Aomine was sleeping on his bed, his arms making a pillow for his head. He was sleeping soundly. On the other side, Momoi was in the exact same position. On her side, Kagami was asleep in a chair. Midorima was reading intently on the other side of the room. He was trying to ignore Kise leaning on his shoulder in the chair next to him, sleeping heavily. Kuroko's vision blurred again and he wondered if he'd hit his head. He felt the bandage the covered the heavy bruises on his neck and all the memories of the other night suddenly flooded back. He lowered his eyes to his lap in shame. In the end they had all come to his rescue. I really couldn't save myself… he thought in shame.

The doors opened and Akashi and Murasakibara walked in together, carrying armfuls of treats and food. Akashi's gaze seemed to brighten when he noticed Kuroko was awake.

"Ah~ Kurochin's awake," commented Murasakibara, smiling at Kuroko. "How are you feeling, Kurochin?" Kuroko smiled weakly in response. At the sound of voices, Midorima looked up and Momoi lifted her head from Kuroko's bed drowsily.

"Tetsu-kun! You're awake!" she squealed, waking everyone in the room.

"Tetsu! Are you okay?" demanded Aomine.

"Kuroko? Are you all right?" asked Kagami.

"You don't know how to make things easy, do you?" sighed Midorima.

"Kurokocchi!" cried Kise, struggling to grab his crutches so he could join in.

The room quieted and Akashi walked up to Kuroko, his gaze stern but caring. "You gave us a scare, Tetsuya," he said calmly.

"Yes…" said Kuroko, meeting Akashi's gaze directly.

"That shouldn't happen again," ordered Akashi, his eyes lowering seriously.

"I'm sorry…" Kuroko gripped the sheets tightly in his fists. "I was naive, going off alone. I had to depend on you all again. I wasn't strong enough to help myself," he looked disappointedly at his hands. "I'm sorry for inconveniencing you all. Making you worry…" he trailed off, looking pensively at the white sheets again.

"There is nothing to be sorry about. You held your ground the entire time. Haizaki threw you off of a bridge," said Akashi almost angrily. "You fought as hard as you possibly could. That is incredibly strong, Tetsuya."

"Besides, Haizaki got what he deserved," laughed Murasakibara lightly. "Akachin stabbed him with a shard of glass," Murasakibara grinned softly, as if it was funny. Kuroko's eyes widened. He hadn't known this fact for it had happened after he was unconscious. He turned to Akashi, eyes still wide in shock. The red haired captain was staring blankly forward, his face frozen in discontent. There was even a hint of a grimace on his lips.

"That's not good, Akashi-kun!" said Kuroko harshly. "What if Haizaki presses charges? You could be in trouble!" The faintest hint of a pout made its way onto Akashi's face. He blinked languidly.

"No need to worry. I'm always right," he smirked.

Kuroko smiled at his former captain. The familiar phrase more comforting than anything in the current context. Despite the past repeating itself, despite being hurt again by an unfriendly past adversary, the situation turned out for the best. Kuroko, despite the cuts and the bruises, was all right. The unbreakable bond that the six former teammates felt for each other still existed. It proved to be stronger than ever. And this time, it was sure to be the last.

"Haizaki won't bother you ever again," assured Akashi, nodding his head and smiling. "It's finally over."