Kagami wasn't sure what kind of reaction he should expect from the villagers when he tells them the news. Cheers? Claps on his shoulder and back? High-fives?
But what he got wasn't something as simple as that.
"Huh. Would you look at that," Aomine commented as soon as the place entered their line of sight, sounding amused for some reason. Kagami stared at him in bewilderment, not understanding what he meant at first. Aomine cocked his chin ahead of them, and Kagami turned, eyebrows raised. Look at what?
And then he saw it; the battalion of villagers standing at the entrance to the village in the fading twilight. And gradually, as they walked closer, the chanting of his name could be heard. Kagami blinked uncomprehendingly. Why were they cheering before they even got the news? Why did every one of them make it look like it was all already a success before anything was even said?
Did everyone really have such high hopes on him? Kagami silently thanked whatever deity he believed in for not letting him know about this before he went off. The pressure he would have to bear would have been too much for him.
Well, anyway that was that. Hearing all those cheers for him now made him feel glad he did it. Kagami felt relieved for not letting anyone down. He could break the news to them easily, without the guilt of disappointing them.
He could proudly say he did it.
And he did. He told the villagers, with a wide grin on his face, that Akashi's plan had been a success. The village will be - and probably even has been - acknowledged. Things will be different from now on. They won't have to live with a constant fear of death anymore. They'll no longer have to rely on the Generation of Miracles to help keep them going. Families will have decent places to stay in and enough food to eat. Adults will be given a chance to work, and children will be given the appropriate education - Akashi himself personally declared to see to that.
Over the loud whoops and cheers of the villagers, a lone boy voiced his concern; "What will happen to the Miracles now?"
Kagami didn't hear it until the other villagers started repeating question among themselves, sounding increasingly agitated as the impact of it settled in. What's going to happen to them? What's going to happen to their saviors - their one ray of light - during those dark days? Are they going to be taken away? Punished for stealing? Jailed for life?
"Huh?" Kagami perked up when the topic finally got to his ears. "Oh, them? They'll be excused, so don't worry," he assured. "They'll still stay with you guys from now on."
Whatever he wanted to say after that was drowned out by cheers that were even louder than before. Kagami didn't mind. He could barely stop his own smile from spreading wider.
"This calls for a celebration!" Someone yelled, and in a split second, shouts of assent could be heard. Kagami did not even have the time to register what exactly was going on when he found himself defying the laws of gravity. The stronger of the villagers hoisted him up, and with every hearty cheer of his name, threw him upwards into the air.
Kagami would be lying if he were to claim that he didn't freak out. His first concern was him falling and hitting the ground with a probably not very heroic splat, but the people who can lift him could probably catch him too when gravity does its work. After the first few throws, Kagami allowed himself to relax. And before he realized it, he found himself laughing; from the satisfaction, the fun. From the sheer relief of being released from a burden placed upon his shoulders for the last two months.
As he was thrown upwards again, Kagami caught sight of the Generation of Miracles being treated in the same manner out of the corner of his eye. He couldn't really take in much in such a short interval of time, but he swore Kuroko was still pokerfacing despite the fact that he was being hauled up into the air like he weighted nothing.
But that's what makes him Kuroko, right?
He didn't stop to think why he would notice him first above everyone.
Slowly, the villagers got tired of flinging them up into the air. The seven of them apparently weren't as light-weighted as they looked. The people looked exhausted as they set the teens down, but when Kise asked if they were alright, they just brushed him off and claimed that they'll be fine as soon as they regain their breath.
"Go clean up first, you guys!" Kiyoshi from the kitchen crew, walked over and told them. "Dinner will be ready soon, but no hurry! We promise to save more than enough for all of you, so take your time and relax."
One of Kagami's source of motivation when he was at the Prime Minister's mansion was his want for sleep. He'd been driven to finish everything faster so he could return earlier and make up for his lack of rest the night before.
But I guess that could wait, he thought, smiling wanly to himself. He decided that some things are just better off not missed.
Kuroko wondered if the decorations were already set up earlier, or were the villagers just that efficient in their work.
Or maybe he'd just taken more time than he realized to bathe and clean himself of the grime, dust and the many kinds of stuff that had settled on his body earlier - Kuroko didn't know. What he did know was that the village square was practically a different place by the time he'd finished bathing and headed there.
Kuroko was alone. Aomine had invited him for a game that mainly consisted of splashing Kagami until he half drowns, but Kuroko had politely declined and slipped off before anyone could notice. He wasn't that fond of the water himself. Knowing the tanned boy, things were probably going to be messy, and Kuroko didn't exactly fancy being dragged in and accidentally drowned instead. Besides, it was getting dark and dangerous. Akashi would probably do something about them anyway.
So there Kuroko stood in the flickering firelight, watching the activity around him with halfhearted interest. He watched as the villagers positioned a dozen or so hollowed out tree trunks in a circle around a bonfire, raking his fingers through his still wet hair in an attempt to comb it and make it dry faster. Eventually, he deemed his action futile and chose to stop. He sighed quietly as he brought his hand down, stopping right below his face.
Kuroko stared at various lines etched on the surface his palm, submersing himself into his thoughts. He had not expected a response from Kagami when he slipped his hand into his earlier. Kuroko had just expected him to either utterly freak out or blush furiously. But Kagami didn't. The redhead had smiled at him, and squeezed back gently.
Kuroko remembered the warmth he'd felt in his heart from that gesture slowly spreading towards the rest of his body. He remembered how his chest had constricted slightly, and how he'd felt a slight flutter at the base of his stomach. He remembered how happy he'd felt when Kagami responded to his action at that moment.
And that was the problem now. He shouldn't be feeling these. He couldn't afford to. Kagami was leaving. At this rate, Kuroko might just be unable to accept that fact. He might just not want the redhead to leave for his own selfish reasons.
That can't happen. Kuroko will not let himself be the source of such problems. Kagami was going to continue his journey, and that was that. Even if it'll mean hurting himself, even if it required him to shut his feelings in a box and shove it into the depths of his heart, Kuroko will not make a fuss out of all this. He absolutely will not.
"..What am I doing.." Kuroko exhaled wearily, letting his hand fall back to his side. He wasn't used to thinking about things like this. It was strangely exhausting, with your mind contradicting your heart like that. It was a celebratory night. It was not the time to ponder over so many things that will ruin the mood. Kuroko took in another breath, and breathed out slowly. He should stop thinking.
"Kurokocchi! You were here all along?"
Kuroko closed his eyes, feeling a smile tug the side of his lips.
"Oi, Tetsu! You got nerve, ditching us like that!"
Yeah. He should stop thinking.
"Aomine, you bastard! I'll kill you for almost killing me!"
"I'd like to see you try, Bakagami!"
At least for now.
For the first time since he stumbled into the village, Kagami actually got seconds for a meal.
Really, he declined the offers at first. Since there was usually just enough for everyone, Kagami felt that some were giving up some of their dinner so that he could eat more. He didn't want that. He didn't want someone to go to bed with an unsatisfied stomach just so that he could eat a little more.
But the serving staff kept on insisting for him to have it. They kept assuring him that they'd cooked a little more that night because come on, it was a bloody celebration! Their success deserves to be rewarded with a feast! They've been saving up food for this, so its fine!
Kagami didn't really believe them. He wanted to tell them that all he did was talk and blurt out whatever he'd memorized. He didn't do anything, just kept on relying on others; in the script, in helping him memorize, in bringing him to the city, in keeping the coast clear just so he could talk to the head of the country.
He did nothing. This fame should not belong to him.
"Just let everyone else eat more, then," he tried to reason. No, he is not accepting it. He did not deserve it. "I'm used to eating this much."
And before Kagami could process the situation, his empty bowl was snatched from his hands, replaced by one filled with half eaten food. He looked up, a protest ready at the tip of his tongue, when he realized that it was Kuroko who did it.
"Kagami-kun can have mine." When the redhead opened his mouth to object, he said, "I can't finish mine."
Kuroko had a perfect excuse to make him eat more. The pale boy was famous for being an impossibly small eater.
"Kurochin will never grow if he keeps on eating less and less," Murasakibara - who was sharing a log with Kuroko - commented.
"I can only hold that much, Murasakibara-kun," Kuroko said, leaning back to his spot. "It'll only be a waste for me to leave so much behind."
Sometimes, it was just impossible to reason with him - Kagami found that out the hard way. It was different from Akashi's case where you're simply not allowed to argue. Kuroko's has this talent of giving answers that tend to eventually not make any sense and would just make you lose the will to do anything but accept the fact that things are going to go his way.
But all that was just trivial matter. In fact, everything seemed so normal that it hurt. Kagami recalled the many times Kuroko had offered and given him his serving of food to satisfy his bottomless hunger throughout his two months of stay. He remembered the height or growth comments the others would make whenever Kuroko did so. He remembered the nights where they would just sit together, talk about nonsense, and laugh at one another's antics.
The realization that he was going to leave the very next day weighed down upon him.
Kagami suddenly found it very hard to breathe. His chest felt constricted, his throat raw. His eyes felt wet. Eh? Wet? Kagami blinked hard, forcing the moisture back. He swallowed, trying to ease the painful feeling in his throat. He knew these symptoms. He will not cry. It was too embarrassing. People will talk. Aomine will surely tease him. It will mean that he was not willing to leave the village that he didn't even belong in.
And after so many hardships, so many memories made there, Kagami realized that he really did not want to leave. His time spent there had made him treat the place as home. He thought he'd be more than happy to disappear when everything was over, but he was not ready. He wasn't ready to leave it all behind; the familiar taste of their food, the refreshing and cooling water at the waterfall, the friendly faces and gestures of the people there, the tree he'd pick as his own personal spot.
The person that he'd somehow come to fall for.
Wait. The person he'd come to fall for?
If Kagami had wanted to ignore the nostalgia he was feeling, it was effective. He stared at the almost empty bowl in his hands. The person he fell for.. huh. Kagami unconsciously stole a glance at Kuroko through the corner of his eye. The pale boy was quietly observing the people all around, listening (or not?) to Kise's endless animated chatter. He seemed to sense that he was being watched, and glanced Kagami's way. Kagami quickly averted his gaze, hoping Kuroko did not notice. He prayed he wasn't blushing too - that would probably give everything away.
But the thought wouldn't leave him alone. Against his will, Kagami remembered the moments that'd slowly strengthened the bond between him and the short, thin, pale boy until it no longer felt like it was just a normal friendship; his first night of stay spent at Kuroko's secret spot in the forest, the night where they almost had to comfort each other, the after dark conversations on sleepless nights, the time when he'd assured Kuroko than he was there to protect him from Haizaki, the time when he'd carried the shorter up his tree to let him see what he saw up there, the smiles Kuroko would once in a while reward him with. The many times where Kuroko had held on to his hand.
That one night when Kuroko had kissed his forehead as a good luck charm.
Kagami knew he was slow, but damn. It wasn't easy to admit, but it seemed that he'd fallen pretty darn hard for the stupidly adorable, impossibly cute invisible boy.
Kagami knew just how bad the situation he got himself to was. At this rate, even if he could manage to force himself to follow his initial plans and leave, he might just want to take Kuroko along with him - to show him just how big the world is, to let him experience many things he'd probably never knew of.. and yes, to be together with him.
That can't do. Kagami couldn't possibly take Kuroko away just like that. Kuroko had a home here. A family that meant the world to him. He can't just take all these away from him.
Besides, Kagami had a promise to keep. A promise he'd made under the scorching sun, his arms soaked with soapy water.
"Kagami-kun?" A voice called him out of his reverie. Kagami blinked, realizing that he'd probably been staring at his bowl like it's the most interesting thing in the world for a while. He turned towards the source of the voice, finding a pair of large eyes gazing back at him curiously. Flecks of orange from the flames of the bonfire danced in those pools of blue.
"Yeah?" he said, successfully holding back the stutter that was threatening to make an appearance. But before Kuroko could say anything more, another voice spoke up.
"You finishing that?" Aomine drawled, walking over. Then without even bothering to wait for an answer, he plucked the bowl straight from the redhead's hands, and shoved the rest of the food into his mouth. When Kagami glared at him, he only shrugged. "What? You didn't look like you're going to finish it anyway."
Kagami wanted to be angry. Really, he did. Only he wasn't. He got this feeling that the tanned boy was right; he wasn't going to finish it. Not after all that thinking.
The rest of the night passed in a flurry of activities; ridiculous karaoke sessions, impressive showing-offs of talents, toasts to those who had contributed their efforts. Kise proved to be a surprisingly good singer (though Kagami could hardly hear him over the squeals of nearly the entire female population of the village). Aomine's deep voice would've made lots of people blush if it wasn't for the ridiculous song he chose to sing. Even Kuroko joined in the fun, choosing to display his skills with magic tricks. Kagami knew there was no such thing as magic. It was as the name says; a trick that bluffs the human senses and makes one think that the impossible happens. But from the smiles and gasps of fascination that Kuroko could bring forth from his audience, Kagami figured that maybe it really was magic, in a way.
Even when Kagami was leaving with the excuse that he wanted to rest early, the celebration wasn't over. Loud sounds of chatter and laughter echoed behind him as he walked off. Kagami stared up towards the sky, admiring the cluster of stars that stood out brilliantly in the darkness. Resting was a lame excuse. Despite the exhaustion he'd felt earlier when he was in prison, adrenaline coursed through his veins now. He didn't want to sleep yet. He got the feeling that he were to get knocked out so early, he would regret it for the rest of his miserable life. And he was sure he still had a long life to live.
A blur of pale blue walked past him, swiftly grabbing his hand and pulling him along. Kagami yelped in surprise, returning his gaze to earth as he stumbled forward several steps. A flash of memory surfaced in his mind, a different night, different circumstance, but a similar situation.
"What-" Kagami was just about to ask when Kuroko glanced over his shoulder, his forefinger held up on his lips. Slowly, his eyes widen in realization. No words needed to be said. It was just like that night where the both of them simply wanted a quiet place to escape to, without anyone to bother them.
Kagami let himself to once again be led off into the complicated maze in the forest that served as the way to Kuroko's secret spot.
Everything was unchanged; from the peculiar patches of grass, to the image of the night reflected on the surface of the lake. Everything was still as beautiful, as breathtaking as before; as if it was enchanted to be forever unharmed and unscarred by whatever nature decides to throw against it.
Kagami sat on the same spot he'd taken the first time he was there, Kuroko settling down beside him. They stayed in silence for a long while, neither having the urge to ruin the tranquility of the moment as they gazed towards the endless moonlit horizon. Kagami folded his legs towards his chest, and hugged his knees. He was gradually beginning to regret letting himself being dragged there. The quietness around him only invited more unnecessary thoughts into his mind.
"..It's my final night here, huh?" Kagami unconsciously blurted out in a murmur. Kuroko's gaze flickered towards him from the corner of his eye, before focusing back to the view before him.
Kagami didn't care that he was heard. He hugged his knees tighter, bending his head to that his face was buried. This is bad. Now emotions are starting to take over. He had to calm down, breathe.
"Will Kagami-kun be missing us?" Kuroko mused aloud quietly. His tone was odd. Kagami couldn't quite place what's wrong.
"What are you saying?" Kagami's voice was muffled, even after he'd lifted his head a little. Then he added in a much softer voice; "Of course I will, idiot. I hate to admit it, but I'll miss you guys so much I'll probably not be able to sleep for the first few nights."
A moment of silence, followed by the sound of clothes shifting. Kagami could feel Kuroko reaching out to gently brush his fingers on his dark red hair. Just like how he did that one time before. Slowly, Kagami looked up completely, his eyes meeting his companion's.
"How about you?" he asked, keeping their gazed locked. "Will you be missing me when I'm gone?"
The seriousness in his own tone surprised him. But what stunned him more, was the soft smile that graced Kuroko's features once the question had been registered.
Kagami did not respond. He was once again captivated by the smaller boy; the affection in his small smile, the way he tilted his head slightly to the side as he looked at him, the million of unsaid things in his eyes. Kagami found himself leaning towards Kuroko, stretching out his hand. He swept back the shorter's pale colored fringe, and lightly placed a kiss on his forehead.
He immediately turned away as soon as he leaned back so he wouldn't have to proudly display the color of his face. "T-There. Revenge for what you did to me yesterday."
If he had looked back at that time, he would've had the privilege of seeing the blush rising up Kuroko's face. But Kagami obstinately kept his gaze away, unwilling to face his companion again after that embarrassing action.
"Shouldn't Kagami-kun have given me something more memorable if that was meant as a forget-me-not gift?" was all Kuroko said, followed by a restrained chuckle. Kagami turned, temporarily forgetting his mortification in a fit of indignation.
"What's that supposed to-"
He trailed off when a pair of pale hands slipped up the sides of his face, tenderly pulling him close. Kagami's breathing involuntarily hitched. Wait, wait, wait. WHAT. He stopped, Kuroko's face barely an inch from his, his warm breath ghosting over his lips. Kagami suddenly found the rest of the world shut out, for he was only painfully aware of the fact that all he had to do was lean forward a little and -
Kuroko closed his eyes, and kissed him; a soft, timid, almost nonexistent kiss. Some part deep in Kagami's mind that wasn't going haywire and bombarded with mental fireworks flashed back to a similar moment some time ago, where something unintentional had made him have the same thoughts. But he hadn't had the courage to do anything then. Neither one of them had took the initiative to go any further out of hesitation, shyness, and perhaps the fear of being discovered.
There was no one else around now.
Kuroko's kiss ignited a spark in Kagami that would, without a doubt evolve into a raging fire if not controlled properly. Kagami found himself quite unwilling to stop. When Kuroko pulled back to regain his air supply, Kagami's hand made its way towards the back of the smaller boy's head, pulling him forward to engage into another kiss; more insistent, passionate. Almost desperate.
Kagami wasn't thinking. No, he did not want to think. All those crap about the both of them being the same gender and how wrong it would be if they were to think of each other as more than friends did not matter one bit. Not now when his feelings were overflowing from the container that had forcefully held it down for so long. Not now when everything was just so perfect.
Not now when it was his final chance.
Kuroko did not resist, instead choosing to respond by looping his arms around Kagami's neck, pulling them closer and closer, deepening the already deepened kiss. They broke apart only for brief gulps of air before latching their lips together again, unwilling to part just yet. It was strange, how much more emotion one action can carry compared to that in words.
Gradually, the need to breathe normally again became too much, and they had to stop. Kagami leaned his forehead against Kuroko's, slightly out of breath. His head was spinning from his lack of oxygen intake, which didn't bother him the least. He gently cupped his companion's cheek with his right hand, his thumb subconsciously rubbing circles on the soft shade of pink that had settled there. Kuroko only closed his eyes as he leaned against his touch, not saying a word.
Because there was nothing to be said. Not anymore.
"..Hey, Kuroko?" Kagami whispered after a his breathing had long calmed down and his heart had finally resumed a normal beating rate. "There's something.. I want to ask of you."
Eyelids part, revealing a pair of bright blue orbs that Kagami thought as so beautiful at that moment that it could make the skies during a sunny day jealous. "What is it?"
Kagami dropped his gaze, suddenly finding it difficult to let out his voice without the danger of it quavering. He must do this right. Or else he'll lose the chance for good. He took in a deep breath, and looked up, scarlet meeting baby blue. "Just for tonight. Stay with me."
Stay with me.
Great. His voice cracked there. Kagami bit his lip, once again hating himself for showing his weakness in front of Kuroko. Just like the last time in the flickering candle light.
But Kuroko did not tease nor mock him. Kagami was crestfallen when Kuroko removed his hand from his cheek, thinking that he'd finally went too far and messed things up. But before he could blurt out a dejected apology or anything, he felt Kuroko wrapping his arms around the back of his head and neck, slowly bringing him forward towards his chest.
"I'll be here, Kagami-kun," Kuroko assured, his voice almost inaudible as he enveloped the taller boy in an embrace. His hold was tender, as if he was afraid that Kagami would break if he went any tighter. "I'll be here."
That night, Kagami did not let go of the warmth that he'd so shamelessly longed for before. But that's okay. Because he knew Kuroko had been experiencing the same feelings too, judging from the way he'd refused to release his hand throughout the entire night.
Kuroko leaned against the wall and watched as Kagami shoved whatever belongings he had left into a canvas bag the villagers had gotten for him. His eyes followed every movement of the redhead's hand, quietly observing as the towel Kagami had always used in his stay disappeared behind a layer of rough material. It was Kagami's decision to no leave behind any signs of his existence in the place at all, not even a strand of hair.
Because Kuroko knew Kagami was aware. He was aware that any remaining hints of his stay would only bring unbearable pain to the person whom he barely had the heart to leave behind.
Kuroko kept on watching as Kagami finished his last minute packing up, feeling numb. It was as if all the emotions had just been drained out of him now that it was time. He felt no sadness, no unwillingness, and no squeezes in his chest.
Only a certain emptiness, as if all that was left of him was merely a shell of his being.
"Shall we go?" Kagami asked once he was done, walking up to the pale boy. Kuroko gazed at his face, remembering the times when he'd marveled at just how strong of a person he looked. Stable. Brave. Now those strangely shaped eyebrows were slightly drawn, those scarlet eyes glinting suspiciously. A smile that didn't quite reach his eyes was plastered on his face.
Kuroko nodded, moving from his spot and towards the taller. He slipped his hand into his, and together, they made their way outside towards where everyone was waiting to see the redhead off.
And all the while, Kuroko remained silent. His face might be naturally neutral, but he was sure his voice would be his downfall, despite the lack of feelings he was experiencing at the moment.
The farewells from the villagers was informal, and perhaps a little too lively, but it was sincere. In fact, it almost made Kagami lose his self control and break down. Adults cheered his name, thanking him again and again for his efforts and promised that they'll not let it all go to waste. The kitchen staff gathered around him and took turns slapping his back, telling him not to forget them anytime soon. Momoi gave him a hug. The children who'd often came over to Kuroko's place while Kagami was bemoaning the amount of script he had to memorize, crowded at his feet, many with tears in their eyes, telling him that they'd miss him and asking if he will visit again some time to see if their doing well and tell them more about his adventures. The girl who had been saved by him and Kuroko hugged his leg tight and refused to let go without much coaxing.
Really, if Kagami were to have a little less willpower, he would've been shedding not so manly tears by then. But he bit the corner of his lip, and managed to hold it all in. No, he wasn't going to cry.
I'm not going to cry.
"So. This is goodbye," Akashi said when Kagami turned towards him and the rest of the gang. The villagers had finished bidding their farewells and with many waves, decided to go back to their activities. Kagami shrugged, trying a little too hard to look indifferent.
"Don't mess up and get yourself killed somewhere on the way okay, Bakagami?" Aomine said with a grin, tackling the redhead into a headlock and pressing his knuckle against his temple.
"Didn't know you'd care so much about me, Ahomine," he remarked, successfully freeing himself from the tanned boy's hold. For once, he didn't mind what he did to him. When Aomine rewarded him with a sneer, he added, "But thanks. I'll make sure I won't die any time soon."
"Hmph." Aomine crossed his arms and looked away, but the amused smile did not leave his features.
I am not sad.
"Bring us some souvenirs the next time you come to visit, Kagamicchi!" chirped Kise as he pulled Kagami into a hasty hug. When he released him, Kagami was surprised to see moisture in the blonde's eyes.
"Why the heck are you crying?" he asked, managing to laugh. Frankly, he wasn't very sure how to react.
"Oh, shut up." Kise smiled a watery smile, sniffling as he reached up to wipe his eyes before it could be too obvious.
It'll be fine.
"You cry too much, Kise," Midorima scoffed, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose with his bandaged hand. When Kagami glanced at him, he muttered, "Don't expect to do something as cheesy as wishing you a safe journey, Kagami."
Kagami found himself smiling wryly at the statement for no apparent reason. "Yeah. Nice to have met you too, Midorima."
I have to leave.
"I hope Kaga-chin likes the food I picked for you," Murasakibara said, sleepily chewing on some sweets. Kagami turned to stare up at him, blinking in surprise. Murasakibara packing his food? They weren't particularly close or anything, so why? Kagami couldn't help feeling this slight suspicion that the giant only volunteered to do it because it granted him extra time in the kitchen for him to have extra snacks, but who knows? Maybe Murasakibara did eventually come to take a liking to him or something.
"Thanks," Kagami said evenly. "It's not like I have a choice if I want to survive out there, now do I?"
"Hm." Murasakibara only smiled faintly as a response.
"Take care of yourself, Taiga." Akashi's touch on his shoulder made Kagami jolt violently. The shorter redhead only chuckled casually at his reaction, seemingly amused, before retracting his hand, and crossing his arms.
It was a split second decision. Kagami turned towards them, took a step back, and bowed low. "Thank you all for everything."
Or else I'll..
He straightened, a for a brief moment, his eyes met Kuroko's. A small smile tugged the corner of his lips, and he reached out.
"I'll see you again, Kuroko," he said, ruffling the shorter boy's soft, unruly, pale blue hair. He slipped his hand down the side of his face, his fingertips barely touching Kuroko's alabaster skin. He ignored the stares a certain trio was giving him. Kuroko stared up at him, his face a deadpanned mask. Kagami did not notice the silent dilemma he was facing.
I won't want him to go.
"Well." Kagami huffed, letting his hand fall back to his side. "I'll be going then."
Now. Before it's too late.
Kagami turned, and seemed to hesitate for a second. He took in a deep breath, clenching the his fists to stop them from shaking. He shrugged, adjusting the strap of the bag over his shoulder, and willed his legs to move, taking him towards the direction that would lead him out of the forest as pointed out by Akashi earlier. He did not look back. Not once.
He could not bring himself to do so.
There was a brief moment of silence at the group watched the figure of the redhead disappear behind the thick growth of trees. And then Aomine spoke up.
"I guess it's going to be quiet here again now that he's gone, huh-" He stopped short as soon as he turned towards his pale friend. "Tetsu..?"
Kuroko blinked. "Eh?"
"K-Kurokocchi?" Kise sounded panicked. Kuroko didn't understand why. "You're.. crying?"
Kuroko lifted his hands to his face, feeling wetness on his cheeks. He sniffled as he wiped the stray tears with the back of his hands. "..Eh?" The tears won't stop! What should he do? The more he tried to keep them at bay, the more he felt them overflowing from his eyes. What happened? Why couldn't he stop? It's not like he's sad or anything!
Or was he? Without realizing it?
Kuroko didn't want to confirm it. He got the feeling he would only cry harder if he put more thought into the matter.
So he concentrated on stopping. He inhaled deep breaths, swallowed to ease the painful rawness in his throat, fisting the hem of his shirt to stop the quaking of his body. He had to stop. Or else it could only trouble the people around him more.
And amid his efforts, Kuroko felt his hands being slowly pried away from his face. He looked up, and took a quick glance around, noticing the strange expressions of his friends. It made him uneasy. It gave him the vibes that something would happen. Something that would hurt each and every one of them a lot.
Aomine reached out, and brushed away the trails of tears on Kuroko's cheeks with the back of his well calloused fingers. He muttered something under his breath as he did so, something Kuroko couldn't hear. Except for one word.
Promise? What promise? To whom? For what? Questions - millions of them, swirled in his mind. Why are they looking like that? Why is everyone looking so hurt? What's wrong? Was it because he'd failed to control himself and broke down a little? Did his eyes betray him, letting them see the pain in them?
Kuroko didn't know anymore. He was so confused. And the feeling was only added when Aomine suddenly bent down, and gave him a soft peck on his cheek.
"Go," he whispered, and pulled back. Kuroko stared at him in stunned silence. Aomine grinned back bravely at him, though Kuroko noticed the slight waver in his feat.
And then before he could find his voice to say anything, Kise walked over, and kissed his other cheek. "And Kagamicchi promised too," he said, not bothered to hide the quaver in his voice. This time, he was the one Kuroko stared at.
"Follow your heart, Kurochin," Murasakibara said, bending down to place a kiss on the top of the pale boy's head. "Before it's too late."
I don't understand..
Midorima pressed the tip of the nose of the bunny plushie he was holding on Kuroko's chin. "Here's your lucky item for the day." When Kuroko looked at him with that bewildered expression, the set of his features softened a little. "The horoscopes say that today's the best day for Aquariuses to do something they'd always wanted to do."
Why does this sound like another goodbye?
Akashi took Kuroko's hands in his and leaned forward, pressing a light kiss on his nose. "Your home will always be here, Tetsuya. You'll always be welcomed to come back whenever you want." He pulled back, and stared into his eyes. "Go on. Taiga probably hasn't made it too far yet. You'll still be able to catch up if you hurry now."
Understanding slowly dawned him, and Kuroko widened his eyes. "But.."
"Even if it means we have to part from Kurokocchi," Kise pulled him into a hug, cutting off whatever he'd wanted to say. "If that's what it takes to make you happy, then we're okay with it, you know."
With Kise still keeping his hold on him, Akashi slipped his arms around Kuroko's waist, followed by Aomine - who wrapped his arms over the three of them, then Midorima (with much reluctance), and or course, Murasakibara who could envelope the whole group in a bearhug without barely even trying. Oh dear. Kuroko could feel those stupid tears welling up again.
"Everyone.." Kuroko had to bite his lip to stop himself from giving in to the urge to break down again. It was difficult, but he managed.
"Feel free to tell me if Kagami does not treat you the way he should," Aomine said as he and the rest unwound themselves from the pale boy. "I'll bash him up for you."
"Now, now, Daiki," Akashi said calmly. "I'm sure Taiga wouldn't dare." His mismatched eyes gleamed dangerously for a second. But when he faced Kuroko, the look was gone. "There's no time to do anything more, Tetsuya. You'll have to rely on Taiga for some things, but I'm sure it could be settled without much problems."
Despite himself and the situation he was in , Kuroko could feel a smile slowly spreading across his face. It was typical of the Generation of Miracles to bully Kagami like that, even when he was no longer involving himself with them.
"Thank you all so much," Kuroko said, running the back of his hand over his eyes one last time to wipe away the gathering tears. They weren't needed anymore. "And I'm sorry."
"Be careful, Kurokocchi!" Kise called out once Kuroko had started running towards the path where Kagami was to take. "We won't be there for you anymore, so take care of yourself!"
Kuroko glanced over his shoulder, and with a smile on his face, nodded.
And then he was gone.
Kise turned away, and choked back a sob. He thought he had been prepared for this. He knew this would happen, sooner or later. He knew that the moment he noticed how Kuroko gazed at Kagami. Yet, it still hurt too much. It was too sudden.
"Oi, Kise," Aomine's voice sounded behind him. "You crying there?"
Kise turned a little so he was looking at the tanned boy from the corner of his eye, and a wry smile found its way to his features. "I could ask the same to you, Aominecchi."
Aomine sniffled, and grinned, his eyes unusually wet. "Meh."
He ran and ran, forcing himself to not think about what he'd just done. It hadn't been easy for them to make that decision, Kuroko knew. And that was why he was determined make the best out of the chance his family had given him. He had to find Kagami.
Trees and greenery blurred past him as he sprinted through the forest. How long had it been since Kagami set out? Ten minutes? Twenty minutes? If he was walking at a normal pace, he wouldn't have made it far. Kuroko's eyes darted around, looking for anything that could be used to distinguish the redhead's figure from all these trees. He mustn't miss him and let it all end up as a meaningless game of tag.
Kuroko stumbled out of the thick growth of trees and into another path. He turned his head from left to right, right to left. And just when he was about to start running again, something caught his eye.
There was a silhouette walking in the distance to his right - around a hundred meters from where he stood, perhaps? - heading further and further away from him. There was no mistaking the person; that untamed mop of dark red hair, that sturdy built. He had to stop him now. He had to let him know.
Kuroko took in a deep breath, cupped his hands around his mouth, and in the loudest voice he'd ever used in his life, shouted the person's name.
He watched as the figure stopped in his steps, feeling a new sense of hope, excitement gradually well up within him. This is it, he thought. The start of a new life, a new adventure, a new journey.
And slowly, Kagami turned back.
So.. this is the end ouo. Disappointment much? ahaha I don't know ;u;. I can proudly say that I did my best TuT. but if there's anything you guys think I can improve in or fix, then feel free to tell me ouo. especially the uhh.. KagaKuro bonding part lol.
And well, confession time. If you'd ever questioned the originality of this story, then I congratulate you lol. I'll admit that I got the general thief rebelling government idea from another awesome manga/anime, Magi. If you've read it, then you'll probably know what I mean. If you haven't, then give it a try :D. ITS AWESOME I TELL YOU. AWESOME.
on the side note, Happy Birthday to our dear Kurokocchi! I couldn't specially write anything for his birthday, so I made do with this ;;u;;.
ah well. Thank you all so so much for all the responses you've given throughout this story! It meant a lot to me. I mean, a lot. Words cannot describe these feels. Just. Thank you. I love you guys so much.
Anyway, I guess I'll see you guys in my other fics :D KuroBasu isn't mine. Thank you all so much again for reading!