Universe(s) KnB and DR: KnGtZnK

Disclaimer: I own nothing. Heck, I don't even own the storyline!

Warnings: Vague ending, maybe/possible PTSD, mild language, mild/possible insanity, etc.

Kuroko no Hope and Despair: Part 3

It hurts. It hurtshurtshurts, like someone has ripped a hole in his chest and is pouring acid into the raw, gaping wound. Kuroko stares at the group, playing basketball like it was no big deal, laughing and cheering and so happy. (why were they happy? Couldn't they see the world crashing down around them?)

The group, composed of players from Rakuzan, Shuutoku, Kaijou, Touou, and Seirin, Kuroko's old school, were so happy, and he can see Akashi's familiar head of ruby (blood) colored hair alongside the ever-so-familiar hair colors of the rest of them, sans Murasakibara. It hurts, sososo much, and for a moment all he can see is the darkness of the abyss that had stared into his soul before he woke up, the abyss that he had fallen so willingly into, that they had fallen into—

—and then Asahina-san is there, her warm hand on his shoulder dragging him from the darkness, and he steels his will. This had been a long—three years (and wasn't that horrifyingly incredible?)—time coming, and he will have to face them sooner or later. But…how can he? They had ripped his heart out, and he had been so broken and destroyed that for the longest time he hadn't thought anything short of permanent measures would fix him.

(He's scared.)

(So very, very scared.)

Aomine is nervous. It had been three weeks since he had seen Tet—Kuroko, and he had been keyed up ever since. Sweat dripped down his forehead, and his eyes narrow as he darts past Kagami to dunk the ball into the net.

He's an idiot, yeah, but he can't think of anything better to do with his nerves (anxiety) than to push Kagami into playing harder, faster—anything to take his mind off of the impending possible doomsday confrontation with Kuroko.

It's only as their game of streetball ends that he realizes that he may have taken it too far; he and Kagami are strong, and have plenty of stamina and can keep up with each other when they decide to push each other to the very edge and further. The rest of them? Not so much.

Aomine turns and winces at Akashi's disapproving expression. Even in their first year, before Akashi had gotten so very harsh and dangerous, to cross Akashi wasn't something one did and expect to come out of it unharmed.

And then when third year had rolled around—no. He is so not thinking of that crap.

He glances over at Kagami, who is being scolded by that girl-coach who is now in college, of all things, and wipes his forehead free of sweat. Kise laughs as he winds around Aomine sinuously, still fresh as a daisy.
"Haha, Aominecchi is really excited today, huh?" Aomine shrugs him off, blue eyes sparking with an almost playful irritation.

"Shut up, Kise," he growls.

"Mou, Aominecchi~! So mean!" Kise whines. The blond's gaze turns sly as he grins at Aomine. "It's no surprise Aominecchi doesn't have a girlfriend with that attitude~" Aomine swats at Kise, but the blond dances out of reach, laughing.

"Ne, ne, Aominecchi! One-on-one?" the blond asks, eyes lighting with excitement.

"No."

"Mou, Aominecchi is really—" the blond stops abruptly, eyes widening as he stares at something over Aomine's shoulder, and Aomine scowls at him.

"What?" he snaps, impatience snapping sharply within him, but the blond pays him no attention. His eyes are almost wondering, and Aomine turns, something in him hoping, just hoping beyond all hope

—and he's standing there, all silent and quiet and visible, of all things, baby blue eyes staring at them.

(Aomine's terrified.)

(What if they can't fix what they did?)

Kuroko feels his breath catch in his chest as he stares at all of them. There's no going back now. No stopping. (But when was stopping ever an option for them?)

Their eyes are all on him, ignoring the others all standing distances away, watching carefully. His gaze flits over the group from Seirin. Were they the ones he might have played with had he continued playing basketball? No matter—he hasn't played basketball for a very long time, has left it behind him with everything else as he stepped forward into that abyss; even now, as he turns and faces the light, he refuses to look back at the past that is now a hazy twilight to him.

Kise is the first one to speak, and Kuroko's gaze flicks to him, analyzing his former teammate. Kise's amber eyes are wide and filled with…something as he steps forward, hesitant but oh-so-hopeful.

"Ku…Kurokocchi?"

(And suddenly all he can feel is all encompassing rage.)

(What right did Kise have to call him that?!)

The world is very suddenly clear in Kuroko's eyes as he steps forward, and with a movement that has Aomine wincing from remembered pain, decks Kise.

The blond tumbles back, limbs flailing as he crashes to the ground roughly. Kuroko looks at his hand, at Kise, and then back at his hand before shaking it loosely. Just like inflicting that pain upon Aomine had been extremely satisfying, this had filled him with a sense of vindication.

He glares down at the blond, blue eyes furious.

"You have no idea how good that felt."

(And then he's left feeling so very tired.)

(Empty.)

Kise stares up at the furious baby blue eyes of his former mentor form where he lays, hurt battling with resigned acknowledgement.

The acknowledgement wins out—he deserved that. He had been a horrible, horrible friend; a bastard, really. Not only that, but he had abandoned his teacher, his mentor when he quite possibly needed him most.

Kise lets his gaze fall away from the phantom's cold gaze, knowing that whatever he dished out, he deserved more than anything else.

(What sort of scum abandoned their friends when they really needed them?)

(Apparently him and the rest of the Kiseki no Sedai.)

Akashi speaks lowly in the silence that follows Kuroko's unexpected act of violence.

"Tetsuya." He looks up, both eyes pure red. "I am glad that you are alive."

Kuroko's cold eyes flick over, and in a rare moment of pure sass that has Aomine choking in disbelief and painpainpain, snaps "No thanks to you, Akashi."

Midorima stops where he stands, frozen in disbelief at the idea of Kuroko being sassy. And Aomine can't blame him—he (and the rest of the Kiseki no Sedai, most likely) had built up a picture of Kuroko being this saintly figure, able to put up with them at their worst until it finally became too much. For Kuroko to be sassing was like—the end of the world come upon them. It just didn't happen.

And then, of course, Kagami has to prove why he's known as Bakagami.

"Who the hell is this?"

(What can they say?)

(There's not much to say.)

Kuroko is angry. No, not angry. He's not quite sure what to call it, but that hatehatehate is burning in his throat, scalding him like acid.

He wants them to hurt, wants them to feel the pain that he had, wants them to see how they liked the feeling of their hearts being ripped out—!

But he takes a deep breath—hadn't it been that mentality that had led him to follow Enoshima, that dragged him onto this bloody path?

He won't—can't—kill again. He won't allow his ledger to swim in an even deeper sea of innocent blood.

(No matter how satisfying it would be.)

(For a moment he sees blood and death and hears screams and begs and pleas and laughter—)

It is, once again, Akashi who speaks.

"This is Kuroko Tetsuya," he explains quietly. "The Phantom Sixth Man of the Kiseki no Sedai."

(And suddenly everything is just too much and he can't—)

(He runs.)

He is a fool. An absolute, utter fool. He hides, shaking as he tries to reign in his trembling. It's nonsensical—why had he run?—but try as he might to explain it, he can't. He just couldn't be there anymore.

It is his breathing that gives him away to his pursuers, and he's shaking to much and can't think, can't breathe and there's just toomuchtoomuchtoomuchtoo much

He had been foolish to think that this was something that could maybe fix things; the hole in his chest throbs and aches and he giggles hysterically.

He's such an idiot.

(It's suffocating, and he's drowning in everything around him, but still…)

(Maybe it can be fixed.)

They don't say any words, completely silent as they stand there. They're strangers—how strange, since they were once friends—and it will take time. So much time.

Class 78 is only just beginning to come to terms with what three years meant and just what they had done.

They were broken.

But…that's all right.

As he stares at them, he sees strangers wearing the faces of people he had loved, and then hated, and now…he just feels numb. Empty and hollow, like a toy used and thrown away.

They had moved on with their lives, moving forward into the bright future that awaited them, leaving him behind in the darkness that he had willingly fallen into.

But now…they're all moving on. They can all move forward—perhaps not as friends, not yet, but…maybe as strangers.

Maybe-friends.

They had changed so much, and he could see it; they weren't the same people he had known three years ago.

But then again, he wasn't the same person they had known. They were different, like new people.

And maybe, just maybe, his fractured soul can be glued together. It would take time…but it might be possible.

And since when did Class 78, students of Hope, prisoners of Despair, quail from danger? (A lot, but they're not about to say that.)

And now…maybe there can be peace, and maybe they can move forward into that bright future that's ready to greet them.

(It doesn't last.)

(But that's okay; they have each other.)

(And suddenly…it's enough.)

/The End.\

So…yeah. That happened. Sorry about the vague ending—I'm not good at writing conflict, and it just sort of ended up being vague and maybe-feels-y. -_-'

Sorry.

I think this is the end of this one, though. It…feels ended. Like a 'The End' to a good story. Don't worry, though—I am likely to post more of this universe, but it will likely be under a separate story, as this, I think, will remain the main storyline. Horrible of me, I know.

Also, a quick note on why this story has taken me so long to update each time, and will likely continue to do so for any drabbles I may write about it in future:

This story is one that is completely driven by inspiration. If I'm not feeling any inspiration, then I don't write it. But when I do write it, I get it done in one sitting and post it. I don't do any editing, save for a brief spellcheck to make sure I haven't misspelled anything.

The second part about it is that because this story is so driven by inspiration, when I write it, I exhaust myself mentally and emotionally, since I place myself into the shoes of the characters, feel their emotions, and then write out the words that come out while trying to get them to be somewhat sensical. I probably fail at that pretty often, too.

Please do review, it makes me extremely happy when you do! And tell me what you think happened with the vague ending…I want to see what you guys think!

~Happy Camper27