If Kasamatsu hadn't been feeling nostalgic, things would have gone a whole different way. He had officially retired from the Kaijou's basketball club, after leading his team to fourth place at Winter Cup. It was a bit sad, but he would play again. Just not with his current team. He'd already been scouted by a good college. But he was still a little sad and restless. That's why he went to Kaijou's gym on the Saturday morning a week after Winter Cup ended. All he wanted was to practice there one more time, even if it was just by himself.

He knew something was wrong before he even opened the door. The broken lock was a bit of a giveaway. And the smear of blood on the door handle was rather ominous. Kasamatsu scowled and wondered if he should go get someone else, or let the police know, but he really didn't know what he was dealing with, or what to tell the police. And suppose he was wrong and this wasn't as incriminating as the evidence was first making it appear? What if this was just an accident and someone inside was hurt?

That decided it for him. He kicked the door wide open and went right in, shouting, "Who's here?"

That was when he saw Kuroko Tetsuya hanging from the basketball hoop by his wrists, his skin painted with bruises, and his clothes literally shredded.

"Shit! Kuroko!" Kasamatsu looked around quickly making sure that no one was laying in wait to ambush him before rushing to help the freshman. "Somebody help!"

But nobody came to help. No one else was there, so it was left to Kasamatsu to help the boy.

It took longer to get Kuroko down that Kasamatsu would have liked. He had to get scissors and a chair from the supplies room because he wasn't tall enough, and the knots were tied too tight. But he sprinted to get them as fast as he could, and soon enough had cut the small shadow down and was holding him in his arms.

"Kuroko? Are you alright? Can you hear me?" Kasamatsu had just took Kuroko's wrist to check his pulse when he heard the boy groan. "Thank goodness. Kuroko? Are you awake?"

Kuroko's eyelids twitched a little, then his face went still again. Not truly conscious then, Kasamatsu realized. But alive.

He forced his panicking mind to slow down and figure out what to do next. The answer came to him quickly and he pulled out his phone and called for an ambulance. Then he ran and got a first aid kit to try to do what he could for Kuroko before the ambulance arrived.

The boy was bleeding from numerous cuts, some of them pretty bad. His shirt was literally soaked in blood. No major veins seemed to be damaged, but the sheer number of cuts was disheartening. Sickening even.

Especially when Kasamatsu took off Kuroko's shirt. Then he saw that a message had been carved into Kuroko's skin, using his chest and stomach as a canvas.



"What kind of sick fuck does this?" growled Kasamatsu as he set about cleaning Kuroko's cuts. He kind of hoped that the pain of the antiseptic would wake Kuroko, or get another response from him. It was scary seeing Kuroko like that, that pale, missing so much blood. And there was a large bloody spot on the side of his head that worried Kasamatsu. Even though he would be in a lot of pain, Kasamatsu thought that it would be better if he was conscious. "Kuroko? Can you hear me?"

But Kuroko didn't wake, or even groan again.

"Damn it. When I find out who did this to you . . ." Kasamatsu stopped there. As much as he wanted to pummel anyone who would do this to any kid and turn their face into hamburger, he knew that he'd get shoved out of line before he got anywhere near the bastard, because of the fact that this torture had been done to this kid. The Generation of Miracles and Seirin's team would be at each others' throats for the privilege. But maybe while they were distracted fighting each other . . . no, Kasamatsu realized. Seirin had that eagle eye guy. And Midorima had his hawk eyed sidekick. Not to mention the emperor eyed redhead. Between the three of them, no one was going to get a chance to sneak attack the bastard who did this. Kasamatsu decided to settle for doing what he could to help Kuroko now, and had to be satisfied knowing that whoever did this to the little shadow would get it back seven times worse, at least.

He heard the ambulance sirens right as he'd finished bandaging Kuroko's chest. So he carefully lifted the boy and carried him outside so that the paramedics wouldn't waste time trying to find them. Kasamatsu was small as far as basketball players went, but Kuroko was tiny too light. Kasamatsu had a bad feeling that blood loss might be partly responsible for the latter. He handed Kuroko over to the paramedics, who put him on a stretcher and began checking him over. After he told them what happened, and while the paramedics were calling the police, Kasamatsu stepped aside and made another call, that he probably should have made earlier, if he hadn't been busy patching up Kuroko.

Kise picked up immediately. "Kasamatsu-sempai! Hi! Hello! How are you? I'm surprised you're calling me! But happy! Do you want to do something today? I'm not doing anything. Are you –"

"Kise, shut up, or I'll hit you," Kasamatsu ordered.

"So mean!"

"I'm serious –"

"I know you are! You're seriously mean!"

"Kise, shut up!"

Kise was startled into silence at Kasamatsu's particularly vehement tone. He'd been shouted at by his sempai a lot, but never in that tone. Right now Kasamatsu was clearly furious in a way Kise had never seen or heard him before, and he didn't know quite how to deal with that.

"Sempai?" he asked when Kasamatsu didn't speak for several seconds. "What's wrong?"

Kasamatsu only realized now that he didn't have a clue in hell how he was supposed to break this news to Kise. Hey, kouhai, guess what? Someone's got a grudge against you and your old teammates so they took it out on your most vulnerable little friend, and carved a message for you on his torso! Nope. That would not go over well. But who was he kidding? Any way he phrased it wouldn't go over well. Nor would it change the facts or what had happened.

"Kise . . . I'm sorry . . ."

"Sempai, are you alright?" asked Kise.

No, Kasamatsu was not alright, thank you very much. He'd just found a kid who'd been beaten to hell and back hanging from a basketball hoop! And said kid had yet to regain consciousness. He was not going to be alright until he knew that Kuroko was going to be alright, and until he'd washed Kuroko's blood off his hands and clothes. If the blood would even come out of his clothes!

"Kise, it's Kuroko," Kasamatsu managed to say. "He's hurt."

"Kurokocchi's hurt?" Instead of turning on the water works as per usual, Kise seemed to realize this was far too serious for mellowdrama. "How badly? What happened? Is he going to be alright?"

"I don't know." That one answer worked for all three questions, but Kasamatsu knew he couldn't leave it at that. "He doesn't look good. The paramedics are about to take him to the hospital. I'm going with him."

"But what happened?" cried Kise, distress heavy in his voice.

"He got beat up, okay?" shouted Kasamatsu. "I don't know who did it, he was unconscious when I found him. Just . . . call your Miracle buddies and tell them. And call Seirin too."

"I'll meet you at the hospital." Kise's voice was oddly cold.

"Alright. Good. I'll see you there."

Akashi scowled when he saw the name displayed on his phone's screen. He was still coping with the consequences of Winter Cup. Namely licking his wounds and adjusting to the jarring effects that it had on his personalities. While he definitely felt better and more human than he had in a very long while, he wasn't sure he was ready to deal with Kise so soon.

Still, he answered. On the off chance that it was something important, he couldn't afford to miss it. And he ended up being glad that he did.


"Ryouta?" Akashi was surprised. Kise had dropped the –cchi suffix and his voice was cold as ice. Akashi had never heard him sound so furious before. For a moment he started to worry that he was the target of Kise's anger. "What is it?"

"Kurokocchi's hurt. Bad."

"What happened?" It was hard for Akashi to keep his voice steady but he managed to only just.

"Someone hurt him. He was beaten, badly. I don't know the details. Kasamatsu found him and is taking him to the Kanegawa Hospital. He's unconscious." Kise sounded like he was grounding his teeth in anger as he spoke. "I'm heading there now. Can you call the others?"

"Of course." Some of them, Akashi and Kise both knew, probably wouldn't answer Kise's call, expecting it to be for something frivolous and annoying. Akashi was glad that he hadn't given in to the temptation just to ignore it today.

"I'll call Kagamicchi. He can tell Seirin."

"He could, but he probably won't," Akashi pointed out. "Taiga is a hothead. After I call Daiki, Atsushi, Shintaro, and Satsuki, I'll also contact Aida-san."

"Who?" asked Kise impatiently.

"Seirin's coach."

"Fine," Kise growled.

"I'll see you at the hospital, Ryouta."

"I'll call you if he gets discharged before you arrive, Akashicchi."

It was the shortest, coldest conversation he'd ever had with Kise. Akashi didn't enjoy it one bit. Now he could only wish that Kise had been calling for something frivolous and trivial.

He hadn't said much about Kuroko's condition. Akashi knew that was because he hadn't known much. Just that Kuroko was hurt bad. And it was apparent that Kise was furious about not knowing who dared to hurt their shadow. A fury that Akashi could sympathize with. But he would control his anger for the time being. When the time came to unleash it, he would show no mercy.

Aomine picked up his call on the third ring.

"Eh, Akashi? What's going on? I'm practicing."

Aomine practicing. How things had changed, Akashi mused. Then he mentally corrected himself. How things had changed since Kuroko came back into their lives.

"I'm afraid that your practice must be put on hold, Daiki," said Akashi. "You are to go to the Kanegawa hospital and –"

"What? Is Kise alright?"

"Ryouta is fine. Tetsuya, however, is hurt."

"What? What happened?" demanded Aomine.

"We do not know yet. Ryouta only said that someone hurt Tetsuya. He does not know who."

"Why the hell doesn't he know? Who the hell would hurt Tetsu?" shouted Aomine. "I am going to fucking kill them!"

"Control yourself, Daiki."

"Someone hurt my best friend and you want me to stay calm! Fuck that –"

"Do you believe that you are of any use to Tetsuya when you are so enraged that you can't think straight, Daiki?" asked Akashi raising his voice.

"I –"

"You will collect Satsuki and meet Kise and Shintaro at Kanegawa hospital. Atsushi and I will join you as quickly as we can. Do you understand?"

"Yes," said Aomine. He didn't sound happy about it at all.

"Good. I'll see you soon."

Akashi called Midorima next. The sharpshooter's cool anger was a nice change from Aomine's furious inferno of rage. Midorima knew what had to be done, and what had to be left for later, but it was very clear that he was just as furious as Akashi and Aomine. As the call ended, he was shouting for Takao to come pull his rickshaw.

When Akashi first told Murasakibara, he thought that their call had been disconnected, because he was only met with silence at first. Then Murasakibara gave a feral scream and the sound of something breaking was heard.

"Atsushi, what are you doing?" That was Himuro. Then suddenly Akashi found himself talking to the returnee. "Hello, who is this?"

"This is Akashi. Please put Atsushi back on."

"I'm sorry, but . . . he's destroying the bleachers. Can I take a message? Actually, can I ask what is going on that's put him in this sort of state?" Himuro asked.

Akashi considered refusing but decided not to. He could use this Himuro Tatsuya after all. Murasakibara did need someone to keep him in line. Himuro would be useful in bringing him to Kanegawa. He filled Himuro in on the situation.

"Kuroko is Taiga's friend, isn't he?" asked Himuro when Akashi was done.

"He is. So. Will you escort Atsushi to Kanegawa Hospital?"

"Of course. We'll leave immediately."

Aida Riko was the last person Akashi had to call before leaving. Understandably she was distraught by what little news Akashi had for her, and immediately promised let the rest of her team know and organize them to get to Kanegawa. Not that Akashi particularly cared whether they came or not. He would almost prefer they not come, as they would only crowd the waiting room. But their absence would make them bad friends, and Kuroko would be hurt if he found out they did not come. So perhaps it was for the best that they were going.

Finally, Akashi was free to make travel arrangements for himself. As soon as he finished procuring himself a bullet train ticket, he immediately contacted one of the private detectives that his family had used for various matters in the past, as well as one of his lawyers. He would find who had hurt his friend. And then he would ruin them in every way possible.

So, what do you think? Any requests for what to have happen? Please review and let me know!