WARNING: IF YOU ARE UNCOMFORTABLE WITH THE THEME OF SUICIDE AND DEATH, PLEASE DO NOT READ THIS!

My thanks to A Natsume Yuujinchou Lover and JumpingBeans480 for beta-ing this story.

Disclaimer: I do not own Kuroko no Basket and its franchise.


Guide:

Sample text - The boy's story


Sea of Trees

There was a deep, deep forest.

It possessed a canopy so thick, the light of the sun could not even pass through.

Always shrouded by heavy mist; a mysterious forest indeed.

It was always eerily quiet; there was no sign of life.

No humans, no insects, no birds… no one at all.

The locals called this strange forest the 'Sea of Trees'.

No one dared to venture into it, for they feared what they would find inside.

It was in this forest where our story begins.

One day, a lone traveller, who had embarked on a long journey, had wandered into this forest. Being unfamiliar with the place, he soon found himself terribly lost; he had no idea where to go.

It was already nightfall, and the mist had started to thicken.

It would do him no good if he simply wandered about aimlessly. He was probably in the deeper parts of the forest; it could be dangerous if he is not careful.

Letting out a large sigh, he slumped against the trunk of a large tree, running his hands through his messy dark-red hair.

He should get some sleep, a little bit of rest might do him good.

He let his body slide down, so that he was sitting amongst the pile of dried leaves that had fallen from the branches above.

He closed his eyes, feeling the still air around him stir up a little.

When he opened them again, he found a pair of large eyes staring straight into his own.

"UWAH!" He exclaimed, pulling his head away.

What a surprise it had been, to find someone hovering over him.

He had thought it to be a ghost of sorts, but when he took a better look, he realized that it was a boy with light blue hair and matching eyes. He was wearing a collared shirt, which was in a similar shade of blue, tucked into a pair of black pants.

"Good day," the strange boy greeted. "Pleased to meet you."

"W-Who are you? Where did you come from? How long have you been here?!"

"You ask too many questions," the boy sighed as he sat down next to the traveller. "How do you expect me to answer all of them?"

"Let's start with who you are, first."

"My name is Kuroko. Kuroko Tetsuya. Yours?"

"Kagami Taiga."

"Kagami? As in 'mirror'?"

"No. You write it with the kanji for 'fire' and 'god'. How about yours? Surely it is not the same characters that is used to write 'stage hands', is it?"

"It is."

"Seriously?"

"Putting that topic aside, for what reason are you doing here?"

"I could ask you the same question. What's a kid like you doing here?"

"I would appreciate it if you do not refer to me as a child."

"How old are you?"

"I am in my last year of Middle School."

"You aren't an adult yet, so that qualifies you as still a kid."

"That makes you an old man, then."

"Oi!"

"But I do not seem to recognise you. You are not from the nearby village, are you?"

"How'd you know?"

"The none of the adults from the village do not dare to come here at night."

"And why is that?"

"Because it is easy to get lost in this forest. And most people do not wander in forests at night anyway."

"Ah."

"Your face has the words, 'I am such an idiot' written all over it."

"I do not!"

"Really, now?"

"I just happen to be bad with directions, that's all! But wait. What are you doing here, then?"

"I came in search of something."

"What exactly are you looking for?"

"It is a secret."

"Che. Stingy."

"You are acting even more childish than I am. Are you really an adult?" The boy shook his head.

He remained silent for a long, drawn-out moment before he spoke again.

"Say… Would you listen to a story?"

"A story?"

"Yes. A story about this forest."

"I don't… particularly mind."

"Well then…"

The boy took in a deep breath and started to narrate.

This is a true story; one that had occurred twelve years ago. It takes place in the village not far from this forest where our story. There were two boys who were the best of friends. Now, one of them secretly harboured a crush on the other, but the latter had never once realized how his friend felt about him. The boy in love did not want to harm the close relationship they had shared, so he kept his feelings to himself.

Everything changed when the boys were in their second year of Middle School. A new student had transferred into their class. While the boy was wary of the stranger, his friend accepted him into their group. It was obvious, at least to the boy, that his friend was in love with him. As he watched the two of them interact with smiles and laughter, his jealousy grew with each passing day. However, since he hid this under a facade, his friend never realized this.

It was only when his friend had confessed that he and the new student had started dating that everything went downhill.

Why?

Why is it not me?

Why must it be him?

Why did you fail to notice how I feel?

Can't you see… Can't you feel how much I long for you?

Why did you have to choose that guy when the person who had always been by your side… is me?

These questions echoed endlessly in the boy's head. They plagued his thoughts, tormenting his very being and rendering him incapable of thinking of anything else.

He started to change on the inside, becoming what one could describe as obsessed and unstable. No one paid attention to this change, and it gradually grew worse. Under that always-calm demeanour lay a bomb awaiting to be triggered.

No one knew when or what would trigger it.

Until his third year of middle school, that is.

That afternoon, he saw the two of them on the school rooftop, embracing and caressing each other's bare skin.

It was a torture for him to witness that act of intimacy.

Consumed by his rage and jealousy, he took out a pair of scissors from his pocket.

He approached the two, surprised by his sudden appearance, and stabbed his friend's lover right in the heart with the scissors.

His friend, shocked by his sudden display of hostility, tried to grab him in an attempt to stop him. It was a rough struggle, but the boy managed to break free and wounded his friend. Even though the original intention was to kill his friend as well, he had hesitated and only left a deep wound in his left shoulder.

After this, the boy fled from the scene and into the forest.

He was never seen alive again.

As the boy finished the story, the traveller started to realize how quiet and still everything was. Not to mention that the mist seemed to have grown thicker than it had been before.

"So…" He gulped a mouthful of saliva, feeling the hair on his skin stand. "What happened to the boy in the story?"

"The boy escaped deep, deep into the forest, where no one would be able to find him easily. There, by the largest tree in the entire forest, he raised his blade to the left side of his neck. Despite his mixed feelings of guilt and glee, he made up his mind. With one, quick flick of the wrist, he took his own life. Blood gushed out from the wound, staining the white blazer and light blue collar of his shirt a fresh red."

"S-Seriously?" The traveller stuttered, his hand covering his mouth in slight nausea.

"It is the truth. In fact, this tree here," The boy stood up and pressed one hand onto the trunk. "Is where it had all happened.

"But how…"

"How did I know all about this? That is a rather ridiculous question. Have you not noticed by now?"

"What?" The traveller got onto his feet, taking a cautious step backwards.

The boy cocked his head to one side, as if questioning his body language.

"Your face shows me that you are confused."

"Of course I am! How would you expect me to notice something that isn't noticeable?!"

But something was indeed strange, the traveller noticed, especially in the way the story was told.

Sure, the boy might have heard of it from someone else, but is it possible to tell it in that much details?

Either he had added extra details to the story, which seemed rather unlikely or…

He looked straight into the boy's eyes, and his stare was returned with a cold one. He felt a shiver run down his spine.

It can't be… can it?

That this boy in front of him is…?

"So… have you figured it out yet?" The boy asked, a chilling smile creeping onto his face as he spoke out those words.

"That's… not possible."

"But what if it is?"

"It's not! There's no way someone dead can return back to the living!"

"No one said anything about a person coming back to life."

"Then…" The traveller's face paled. "A-A ghost?"

"Ghost? Please do not make me laugh. I would prefer if you would use the term 'spirit' instead of that degrading word."

"B-But that means…"

"Yes… It is just as you have thought…"

The boy raised his left hand and grabbed the collar of his shirt, pulling it open to reveal a long gash across the left side of his throat.

The traveller gasped. His body shook with fear as he backed away slowly.

He had to get out of here.

He turned on his heel to escape, but was shocked to find the boy standing in front of him, blocking his path.

"Where do you think you're going?"

"Out of here, of course?"

"You must be joking."

"What?"

"Do you really think you can escape from here?"

"I believe I can if I try."

"No matter how hard you try, your efforts will only be in vain. You will never be able to escape from this forest."

"Why are you so sure about that?"

"Because you cannot. You are already a part of this forest."

"What do you mean by that?"

"Look."

The boy pointed his finger upwards, to one of the branches above them.

The traveller squinted to get a better view of what was above. He could only make out the vague silhouette of something, no; someone hanging from above.

"A… corpse?"

"Not just any corpse. Yours."

"W-W-What are you saying? T-T-There's no way…"

"I only speak the truth, my friend."

"B-But it's not possible. I'm… still here, alive…"

"Alive? You are already dead. But it seems that you yourself have not accepted that fact yet. Perhaps it is because you had killed yourself without a firm resolution."

"I… committed suicide?"

"You hung yourself from the branch of a tree. Just like many others had done before you."

"So you…"

"Do not put me in the same category as you. I am very much different from people like you who come here to take your own life."

"Hah?"

"Hey…" The boy walked up to the man, wrapping his arms around him.

He looked up and gave him a sweet smile, one that made him feel an intense jolt of fear like none other.

"Stay. Keep me company."

"No…"

The man tried to pull away from the boy, but he could not move.

"You will not leave here… I will never let you…"

"No…"

The man protested, but the strength that he had in him started to fade. Slowly, but surely.

"Stay with me. Forever and ever and ever…"

XXX

"How many has this been this year?" A policeman sighed, taking off his cap.

Having grown up in the nearby village, he had taken up the responsibility of leading the local search team through this forest to search and collect the bodies of those who had ended their lives in the 'Sea of Trees'.

The place never failed to make him put up his guard: there was always the feeling of something creeping about.

"Officer Aomine!" The policeman turned towards one of the volunteers. "We have taken down the body. We will send it to the morgue immediately. And here are his personal effects, including his identification documents."

"Oh. Thanks for your hard work." The policeman took the zip-lock bag that contained the items.

Opening it, he took out the identification card, scanning through it.

"Kagami Taiga, aged 25. He's about the same age as me… huh…"

The policeman watched solemnly as the volunteers carried the body away.

"Taking his life at this age… what a fool he is."

Raising his right hand, he placed it on the left side of his chest near his shoulder. He had a scar from a deep wound there, given to him by an old friend who had, too, taken his life in this very forest.

Every time he had to come here, he was reminded of him; and how he had obtained this scar.

"How many more will you take with you before you are satisfied… Tetsu?"

Sea of Trees – END


Some extra notes:

- The forest in this story is directly based off Aokigahara, a forest in Japan and a famous suicide spot.

- The story itself is inspired from the vocaloid song 'Murasaki no Mori'.