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Tomorrow, I Will Still Love You

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People born and died every day. When there was a life being born with his or her unique soul as the beginning, there was also a life that reached the end following the written fate by God. That was called the life cycle.

 

Earth, the place where life and death of humans happened, varied with many kinds of human beings. Somehow though less than 1% of the population on earth, there were people born with extraordinary or special ability. Psychic Ability was not common in society, but people who have it did exist. Yes, you could say they were the gifted ones.

 

People who had these powers appeared at random, we never knew when or where they came from. Either they might have existed when the earth was created, or they appeared as part of a strange phenomenon that sometimes happened in this world. Gender, positions, ethnicity, education degree, or wealth was not a guarantee that a person could have psychic powers. Some were born from families who had a hereditary lineage with such psychic ability. Some were born without psychic ability even though one or both of their parents had it. And some were born with psychic ability even from normal parents who did not have it.

 

Long time ago, before people with psychic ability was unveiled, often encountered humans who had a high spirituality than most of other humans. They were blessed with the power of words. Like using a mantra. The spirits of words. They could usually be seen in everyday life, often in the holy and religious places where they were referred to as Spellcaster. They came from a family clan which had their own teachings about the knowledge of either forbidden or bad spell and its consequences of using such power. For the normal people, they were regarded as saints who should not be tarnished or tainted. People respected them and also sometimes asked for their help.

 

However, there was sacrifice to be paid. Using the power of words, could make the user got either mild to severe injuries outside and inside physically, depending on how great the power of the spell was. Using a spell to heal someone who has a severe illness; to make someone on the edge of death healthy again; to hurt people badly moreover cursing someone to death; to make someone fell in love with us were forbidden. There might be spells to grant impossible things such as changing fate, changing nature's law, changing the future or returning to the past. All of those impossible thing might be done with the power of words, but we never knew about anyone who was brave enough and dared to try it, because of course, the sacrifice must be very expensive or maybe those who had tried it had been already gone without a trace.

 

The more often a Spellcaster using mantras, the longer and more wounds to be healed. The more powerful the mantra was, it even could lead to death. That was why those with high spirituality did not recklessly use the power of words.

 

The power of these Spellcaster attracted the attention of the greedy people. They were competing to get the Spellcasters. In underhanded way, like threatening, kidnapping, killing, was what they might have done to get them. Of course, they did it so secretly, so then nobody was aware that one or two Spellcasters disappeared. They wanted the Spellcaster for fulfilling their ambition and their greed. At that time, Spellcaster lived not in peace indeed.

 

Then, the world war broke out. Bombs were launched anywhere. Thousands to millions of people were killed. Spellcaster was no exception. Becoming Spellcaster was inherited from one generation to the next generation, so this world war caused their population also much reduced. The ones to continue the lineage were dead. So their existence was almost diminished.

 

Nowadays if there were found people with high spirituality, they might be the descendants of Spellcasters who survived the war. But as time passed, the power of words were not often to be used like before the war. New generation to new generation were born. Some of them forgot or did not know at all about their ancestors. They forgot about their power of words. So that only a few of them that still had the knowledge of spells or mantras and the honed spirituality.

 

Until then, when there was time when the secret book record of someone from the past was founded. It explained that actually that there existed other populations on this earth. The record told that they were born with a certain power. They called themselves as Segen. It was stated in the record, that at the time when this journal had written, there was not much Segen founded. Segen were different from Spellcaster. The Spellcaster got the power of the words, then they had sacrifice to pay; but Segen could use their power as much as they liked without worrying about the sacrifice. Segen was considered as a strange human. They were regarded as someone who practiced black magic, or allied with witches, or demon worshipers, and even called them as devil incarnations because of their gifted power. The fear of human being who had special ability and was different from them—ordinary people—was hard to erase. They considered themselves weaker than the Segen. Therefore, they wanted the Segen to be exterminated immediately before the population of them increasing and could not be defeated. Hence, they instigated people to hunt the Segen with their enormous number. One by one, the Segen who was caught, was killed in public in the name of justice. So, in order not to get caught, then they—Segens—lived on the run by hiding their identity from most humans. They mingled with other humans. Hiding their ability. They pretended to be what was called a normal human like most human beings on earth.

 

Centuries had passed. Just as the laws of nature's balance and harmony; just like magnet and with positive pole negative poles, they always pull each other close; just like the sides of coin which had the front and back, could not be separated; so human's nature also had two sides—good and evil. Not all of Segens were good, precisely because they were also human beings. There were also bad and rebellious Segens who revolted and displayed their ability as they pleased, causing people to get hurt.

 

There were formed underworld organization where Spellcaster and Segen made alliances, to gather young Spellcaster or Segen any way illegally. It was like they were bad mafias with special ability. They had done experimentation, trading, enslavement on the young Segen or Spellcaster for ambition or personal greed. What they did was only evil.

 

Thus, there was also formed an organization outside of the governments that consisted of Segens and Spellcasters. This organization was formed for the purpose of regulating and punishing the Segen and Spellcaster that disturbed the world order. Using power in the public is prohibited and sanctioned by this organization's law. That's how to create peace. Saving young seed of Spellcaster and Segen was also one of the mission. This organization was confidential and only certain people knew it. Living by mingling in the society without discrimination is the motto of the organization. So their identity as Segen remained unknown to most populations in the world today. Some might ever witnessed their physic ability. Probably the stories about them was spread only ear by ear. Eventually, ordinary people tended to forget the fact of their—Segen's—existence. Although sometimes, we can found stories about Segens in children's story books. But the story was only considered as a fairy tale. There was the truth or only modification of the true story. No one bothered to find the truth. No one knows.

 

Living peacefully and happily with a loved one until getting old and death came to fetch was the dream of every human being. But life was not always according to the plan and what we expected. Fate was very strange.

 

As the saying goes, good people would generally meet another good people, so would bad people. Perhaps this was what we called destiny or God's plan, they—being the gifted one—would generally meet one and another. It was like being interconnected by red thread. We were only human, God had a plan. And perhaps this life journey that would be told was one of God's plan of destiny.


20 years ago.

 

“Stay away from him!” the woman screamed hysterically towards the man in black suit with a touch of red as his tie.

 

The woman was holding a small figure—a boy—wrapped in a black cloth from head to toe, like he was being hidden from the world. The child was not dead—from the chest movement of his breathing that was still visible—, he was just unconscious. Either by instinct or not, from the black cloth covering him, a tiny hand stuck out and was clutching the woman's shirt. Yes, she was the mother of the child who was in her arms right now.

 

The woman fell down behind the man—her husband—who was now curling up in pain. Her husband's shirt was covered in blood from a stab wound in his left upper stomach by the man who was the leader of those bunch of black clothed people. The woman was full of old and new wounds all over her body. Apparently they were trying to escape before the black clothed men finally found them.

 

“How smart you are! Finding a place like this in the woods to hide yourselves. It was so hard to find you!” said the leader man, and he applauded slowly. “Don't be like that, you know, I do not want to hurt you.” the man smirked cynically.

 

“You liar! You didn't even hesitate a second to stab him with the knife!” the woman shrieked.

 

“I actually didn't intend to, it was because you and your husband tried to escape, so I must tell you the hard way.” he replied. “I know you have it. I just ask you to give it for me, that way we can get anything we want in this world, so give your approval, then whatever you need will be given to you.” the man said as he slowly walked over to the woman and removed his left glove. The said leader man in the black suit then stuck out his hand to reach her.

 

“Crazy! You are insane! What you want is impossible!!! I did not expect you to be easily seduced by Satan's temptation. You got eaten by your own greed and ambition. You are not human! I will not ever give it to you!” The woman shouted up her voice as she brushed off the man's hand. A scratch was visible on his back hand. The man grew furious by her action.

 

“Search the entire house!” the male ordered impatiently. The leader man then tried to grab her hair when he heard she spoke.

 

O spirit of earth, hear my calling, from the ground veiling the thorns, come up to the earth and become a cage for those with dirty hearts, make them prisoners of their sinful soul” said the blue-eyed woman and hastening her embraced on her child.

 

Instantly a green light appeared, and the earth trembled. From the ground came out a glimpse of wood like branch and a fairly large thorny stem that surrounded the men in black. Thorny plants were growing and wrapping its trunk around the body, legs, neck and others part of the body of those black clothed people. And they were being stabbed by thorns that grew longer and larger and larger. The leader of them also couldn't avoid the bondage of these plants.

 

“tch, this fucking witch!” The man cursed, trying to free himself from the clutch of the plants.

 

Not wasting any time given by the opportunity when they were immobilized by the plants, the woman immediately went to her husband and put her hand on the stab wound in her husband's abdomen while uttering a mantra. The woman moaned with the pain she felt instantly after using the mantra power, the inside of her body felt like burning, and then from her body even more new wounds appeared with blood gushing out.

 

“Just go... leave me here… ta-take him. a...way, save yourself… and our little angel, I'll just be a burden… ugh!” her husband was groaning caused by talking.

 

“No, don't give up,” she said wearily. She tore off her sleeve dress and put it on top of her husband's wound. “This can hold it temporary, my power only reduces the pain” she bent her body then took her husband's arm and put it on her shoulder. “We should not give up here, we must run now, that will not be able to hold them here forever” she said then rushed to get the car keys lying nearby.

 

Grabbing the car's key, they hurried out of the forest. Praying. Hoping for time to stop for a while until they could get out of there. They ran in the dark of the forest. The small paths at night made it difficult for them to see what lied ahead. Bearing the weight of her husband and son made it even harder. She hoped the path they took, leading them to where their car was.

 

Thankfully, she found their car, the woman rushed to open the car, put her husband in the front seat, then put his son in the back seat of car. Turned on the engine and stepped on car's pedal as fast and hard as possible. She prayed that no one could catch them.

 

Until finally, the car stopped. They arrived in a small house which was an orphanage. “...mnn, mom? Where are we?” awakened from his sleep the boy asked his mother who was currently at the boy's side. “Mom, why are you crying?” he asked again while rubbing the corner of his eyes.

 

“I'm sorry my angel, I'm sorry... ugh, ufh...” the woman sobbed and cough. She felt like surely soon blood would come out of her mouth.

 

“Mom?” he called with a puzzled expression. There was a bit frantic panic of the boy's voice could be heard. His small hand reached his mother's face and wiped the tears away. “Don't cry mom…” he persuaded.

 

Then he looked for his father who was laying on the front seat, he could see that his father was breathing abnormally, so painfully.

“Dad?” the boy tried to shake his dad's body that laid weakly. His dad opened his eyes then looked at his mom. Understanding the meaning of his wife's gaze, he turned to look at his son.

 

“I am sorry…, we… can not go to... the amusement park... as... I... promised you... I'm sorry?” his dad said weakly not like the usual his cheerful dad. Not like his usual hero self.

 

'Why are they sorry?' thought the boy who was more confused. “No, It's okay, da—” he stopped talking when his eyes were unintentionally caught the glimpse of the ragged clothes below his father's hand which was on the top of his stomach. There was blood seeped a lot on it. Red. He looked at his own wet and sticky hands. Red. Then he looked back at his mother. And just realizing that there was blood staining on her mother's collar. Red.

 

Panic attacked him. The boy suddenly felt tightness on his chest and began to shed tears. Blood. For such a small child he knew it was blood, indicating his parents was injured. Hurt badly. And he knew that it was a very bad sign. He realized that so many wounds marred his mom's face and hands which were hand trying to wipe away his tears. The fresh smell of iron still oozed from her mom's injuries.

 

“No...” he moaned, then he remembered what had happened before, when his parents and him tried to leave the house, then a group of black clothed men came to his house, heard his parents yelling, then his father who was stabbed by the black clothed man and blood started flowing from the knife that stuck on his father's body. “NOOO...NOOOO!!!”

 

Red. Red. RED.

 

“Honey... it's alright...” his mother told him and hugged him. Hoping his son will be calm again. Trying to wipe the tears that wet her child's cheeks.

 

Blood. Blood. BLOOD.

 

Hyperventilation. He couldn't breathe. His eyes were blank which implied fear. As if he was seeing something on the back of his mind. His little hands clutched harder onto his mother's back.

 

His mother's voice sounded very distant as if she were speaking an unknown language. He couldn't grasp any of it. The words that sounded so clear and understandable were only when the woman said “… I'm sorry...” Then, he felt the cold fingertips of her hand touched his forehead while she uttered “… Forget it all

“Aaaarrrghh!!!” the boy screamed in pain. Releasing his clutch from her mother's back and now holding his head.

 

Coughing out blood, for a while she heard her son earful screaming until then he no longer moaned and stopped like a doll. His eyes were blank and looked lifeless. The woman looked at her child and once again before finally hugged him and whispered in his ear, “Sleep, my dear son”

 

The boy slowly closed his eyes, his body then drooped limply into her arms with a low and steady breath.

 

“You have to know that i always love you, my angel” the woman kissed his forehead, stroked his hair gently while crying silently.

Chapter Text

Kuroko was on his way home. Walking through several building blocks was a routine done every day after work. This was summer. The night sky looked bright and clear without being covered by clouds. The city always looked busy. But this time, it looked busier than usual. The shops were busy being decorated with the ornaments which suited summer to attract many customers. There were also some people being busy preparing for the Summer City Festival, probably most of them were the organizers and volunteers.

 

He could see several couples and many young people in his teen with his friends passing through the city streets. There were also couples which ones were looking at the front of bikini store window which they might be interested in its clothes; and some were walking with her hands clinging over the boyfriend's arm while having conversation to each other. At the crosswalk, there was a bunch of young girls with their friends—still wearing their school uniforms—giggling about something with cheerful faces while crossing the illuminated city streets. He also saw a group of boys and girls hanging out together on the street near the city park. Maybe all of it was because the summer vacation had come.

 

Of course not only young people and couples, there also could be seen people who came home from work after their daily routines. They were men and women of all ages in their variety clothes from suits to only pants and shirts. He saw a woman passing through beside him; running in a rush to the bus stop direction while looking at her watch and then looking up ahead and kept repeating the actions. He spotted a bunch of workers who were walking towards the direction where the bar was located, probably to stop by the bar after hours from work before going home. They might be planning to get drunk. Kuroko then turned to his left, from the main road to the smaller road, and found a man whose face painted with fatigue; and maybe the mattress at home was a goal that he was currently anticipated at the moment. As Kuroko kept walking, he saw a group of teen who were chatting to each other; then hit the other's head bare-handed when the recipient only grunted a bit and responded by shouting—well with a bit harsh bad words—then they were laughing together.

 

'That must be hurt ... but well, they all are laughing together. That is what teenagers nowadays called joking with physical affection?' the thought appeared on Kuroko's mind while witnessing the scene. 'So youthful' it came to Kuroko's mind.

 

This didn't mean that Kuroko was not young anymore, in fact he was still in his twenties and with his small stature adorned with round cerulean pair of eyes and baby blue hair; people often mistake him as a teen. It was just that he was not the person who had many friends. So he did not really know about friendship or something that could be spelled out as the ignorance of youth. Many said that because of Kuroko's very little presence, people often forgot about Kuroko even when he was standing near them. If his schoolmates were asked about him, they generally answered not knowing or show confused expressions as if no one whose name was Kuroko, ever attended the same school with them. People were often surprised by the sudden presence of him despite he was already there since the beginning. Because of the least contacts and interactions with other people, Kuroko had a flat face and expressionless. How to joke and laugh with others was something alien to him. In the end of school and college times, he often spent a lot of his time in the library alone. He loved to read. Because of his weak physique, he was not compatible with activities that waste a lot of physical energy. All he knew was that he had often been diagnosed having anemia since in the middle school. His skin was so paled white. Maybe that was one of the reasons that made him to have so little air of presence.

 

Once, when he was still in first grade of high school, the school librarian was sorting the borrowed books that had been returned that day before ready to go home. She was re-checking the list of borrowed books one more time while touching the rim of her glasses and narrowing her eyes to see clearer. Knowing that the library would be closed, and he was the only student left; he took his bag and ready to rush home. He opened the library door and faced toward the librarian, he said “Well then, I go ahead first. Otsukaresama deshita, Okamoto-sensei” and after that he bowed then closed the door. The next day, the school was gossiping about Okamoto-sensei that told another teacher that she heard a voice without a figure greeted her; and also the door of the library that was opened and closed again by itself at the end of library's closing hour. So since that day, Okamoto-sensei was never alone and called the janitor that had duty at the same day to accompany her until at the closing hours of the library. So from then to today there was still a rumor on his school that the school library was haunted. Kuroko never realized that the rumor was his fault.

 

The summer heat at nighttime made Kuroko a bit more sweaty and sticky than usual as well as the increasing production of energy metabolism due to walking far enough. His workplace could be reached on foot because of the location of his house was close to the city where he worked at, although some people said that it was still quite far by walking. It had been already 3 years passed, Kuroko Tetsuya had been working as a therapist at small hospital in Tokyo, since getting certified as a therapist when he was still 20 years old. So he used to walking this far.

 

Today was a particularly tiring day for him especially because of what happened this afternoon. There was a patient complained about Kuroko's treatment. The complainant was an old grandfather who suffered a sprain on his back after trying to lift his wardrobe to pick up a falling lottery ticket tucked under it. He complained that Kuroko's treatment was considered unsatisfactory when treating him without giving a friendly face look and; being difficult to talk to. Kuroko felt that he had done the treatment properly according the procedure as well as his best, but because of his flat expression, the patient considered Kuroko doing his work insincerely. Apologizing to the patient was not an easy thing, it took time to make the grandfather satisfied and accept Kuroko's apology after lecturing Kuroko about the long-winded ethics, the fall of young children morals of new generation nowadays, and the supposedly manners from the older generation before. Kuroko was used to this sort of patient's behavior, and his coworkers were also used responding to such complaints about him. Kuroko's co-workers knew that Kuroko was expressionless and seemingly hard to approach, but his fast but careful and detailed works, and often helping his co-workers, making them tolerated it. Although until now, they were often still surprised by Kuroko's very sudden ghost-like presence.

 

Awakening from his reverie, Kuroko pulled out his smartphone from his sport bag, to see if there was a missed call or incoming text which unheard before because he was in his daydream. Looking at the screen he found no new notification. There was only a digital clock that showed the time was 19.23 with a background of Siberian husky puppies behind it which was set as the screen wallpaper. Kuroko waited for news from someone who promised to take him to Maji Burger and treated him a vanilla milkshake which was his favorite. Many stores offer these drink in their menu but Kuroko's most favorite Vanilla Milkshake was the one sold in Maji Burger. Vanilla milkshake surely could help Kuroko to forget the unpleasant incident that he had been experienced this afternoon. He imagined the sweetness of the vanilla milkshake touching the palate of his mouth, cool and refreshed feeling during a brief stop through the esophagus, all that made him swallowing his saliva that felt like almost spillie out while thinking about the particular drink.

 

Suddenly, Kuroko's smartphone rang. He looked at his smartphone screen and the name appearing was the name of the person he had been waiting the news from. Kuroko was immediately touched and then shifted the green handle telephone icon in the screen to the left and soon after doing it, the screen changed and showed a word 'connected' and the time to indicate the time of the conversation with the caller had started.

 

“Moshi moshi, Kagami-kun” greeted Kuroko to the caller while walking to the quieter place. He stopped infront of the closed barbershop.

 

“Ah, Kuroko? Where are you now? I am sorry, we cannot go to Maji Burger today. I'm in hospital at the moment” the voice from male caller could be heard. There was another male voice saying '--more rest, sir' could be heard coming out of Kuroko's phone. Hearing the new information from by the caller, Kuroko became a little panicked, although that still could not be seen from his expressionless face.

 

“Hospital? Why? Are you okay, Kagami-kun? What hospital? Where is it?” asked Kuroko worriedly in one breath and still sounded flat. Kagami had long known Kuroko who did not talk much and never talked long. Hearing many questions from Kuroko, although his speech sounded normal, Kagami knew instantly that Kuroko was worried about his situation.

 

“Wait, hold on. Take a breath Kuroko” Kagami said and heard the other one was taking a breath. “I am okay, Kuroko, thank you. And no, neither I am injured nor got into accident” he told Kuroko then continued “I was so surprised to find Mom fainted on the kitchen floor with blood gushing out from her the forehead. So i hurriedly brought her to hospital to get checked. And here I am now with mom and dad at the hospital where you work.” explained Kagami one by one answering Kuroko's questions.

 

“Apparently she was trying to take the new bowl that she kept in the top of the cupboard, but she lost her balance and fell when using the chair to reach it. Then, her forehead bumped the corner table. She found out that she was bleeding, and seeing the blood coming from her forehead she was panicked and fainted. Ahhh...that stupid mom!” Kagami grunted while ruffling the back of his short red hair.

 

“How is Obasan right now?” the voice came out from Kuroko was steady as usual. He wanted to hear about her current condition. Being a therapist himself, made him having a bit of medical knowledge, and after hearing the explanation from Kagami, he couldn't make sure about his aunt's condition since still, he was no expert on that field. So, he was just hoping that it was not something that threatening her life.

 

“She has just regained her consciousness. The doctor said she is okay now and nothing is wrong with her head from the outside physically, beside a scar on her forehead. She got few stitches” Kagami said while looking at her mom who is trying to act sweet to be spoiled by her husband who was now peeling the apple for her.

 

'I'm okay, Tetsuya honey~!' was the female voice said that Kuroko heard from the other side of the phone. He recognized her voice, it was his obasan's voice sounding so cheerful.


He felt relieved, he said “I'm glad she is fine. I am going there now, Kagami-kun.”

 

“Well, she is stronger than dad after all. Okay Kuroko, bye then” kagami replied.

 

“Bye Kagami-kun” said Kuroko then hung the phone off. He then made a turn at the opposite direction and once again walked down to the same path he had passed while heading home before.

Chapter Text

After walking for almost half an hour, he finally arrived in the hospital. He walked toward the elevator which happened to be opened when an old lady with a basket of fruits on her hands entered it.

 

"Please hold the elevator, I also want to go up" Kuroko asked her loudly with his accelerated steps.

 

The old lady pressed the elevator button to keep the elevator door open, taking a moment turning her head to the right and left, so she could found where the voice she heard, coming from. But she couldn't, with a puzzled expression she pressed again another different buttont to close the elevator.

 

Seeing the elevator door was closing, Kuroko rushed to the elevator and accelerated his footsteps even faster. But alas, the elevator door had already closed when he arrived right in front of it. He must wait until the elevator was open again. Yes, situation like this was a common for him. He was used to it.

 

“Ah, I still do not even know the room number where the Obasan is treated” he mumbled to himself.

 

Kuroko was sometimes a bit careless about little but important things like that, so he must go back to the reception desk which he had just been passed through. Actually he could just ask Kagami by texting, but unfortunately the smartphone battery was dead. He could not help but to ask the receptionist.

 

There was only one woman in reception table. She was wearing rounded glasses, and now was standing up while sorting out a few bundles of papers. She looked so tired that her hair was a bit disheveled. Her skinny figure made the bag around her eyes even more obvious.

 

“Ano... Sumimasen...”Kuroko greeted the woman softly, loud enough to be heard. He approached her slowly, not wanting to make her startled.

 

Hearing the voice, she moved her eyes upwards from the files—she was holding in her hand—to see her upfront. Frowning and narrowing her eyes, she searched for person who talked to her.

 

'Hmm... maybe I'm too tired... And it's night already. Too long staring at these papers, makes me hearing things' she thought then putting the papers down to take her glasses off and wiping it off with her sleeve.

 

“Ano... can you give me information where the patient named Ms. Kagami is staying?” he asked again while leaning some of his body weight on the right side of reception desk, hoping that she was aware of his presence there.

 

Once again she turned her head to the left and to the right, and was still confused where was the voice's owner. Kuroko who understood this situation—for nth times had experienced it—, inevitably stood right in front of the woman and repeated the question louder.

 

“Eeeppp!!!” she gasped. Seeing a person suddenly appeared in front of her, almost made her glasses fell off from her grip. “I'm sorry for being startled, but since when are you here?” she said with her heart still racing and tried to calm it down.

 

“Actually, I've been here since 15 minutes ago” he replied while looking at the clock hanging on the wall behind her.

 

It was incident like this that made Kuroko memorized the map of any buildings that he would go in. He also already had memorized any room, corner, ward, and section in this hospital, because this was where he worked every day. He avoided asking other people, because the response he got was either shocked, frightened, or even fainted if the person was too fainthearted. Kuroko only asked when it was an emergency, but this time he did it because he forgot to asked Kagami—when he called before— about the room auntie was in.

 

“Let me see the register first.” she talked and sucking in her breath exasperatedly. Her fingers began clicking the computer keyboard to check the names of the patients who had been admitted to the hospital. “Kagami-san who was admitted this evening? She was in South Ward, Room No. 423”

 

Kuroko nodded his head, “Thank you for the information. I am sorry to interrupt your time and making you startled. Konbanwa” he thanked then he turned his back after bowing his body slightly.

 

“You're welcome” she replied with a tired smile while picking up the papers again from the table. She was ready to dwell into the bundles of papers once more when suddenly remembered “Ahh, did you know the way—… eh?” she asked only half of her question.

 

She couldn't see the young blue-haired man from before anymore. But Kuroko was still there, he was not fast-walking type to begin with. He saw her reaction that once again seemed like she couldn't feel his presence. He knew that she wanted to show the direction to the ward, but he didn't want to startle her for second time, so he decided to head back to the elevator in silence. He was already familiar with the hospital buildings anyway.

 

Arriving at his destination—the room with number '423' hanged on the door—, a familiar dark red hair was seen in the other side of the room's window. He saw Kagami and his parents was talking to each other. He couldn't hear what it was since he was outside, but he could see the lovely atmosphere was pictured inside. The warmth of a family.

 

He hesitated to knock on the door, afraid to destroy the atmosphere, but in the end, Kuroko still tried to knock. Just one at a time.

 

Knock

 

Kagami turned his head toward the window after hearing a small-but-still-audible knock from door. It took him a few moments to finally see the small figure of the man outside the room. Kuroko was standing in front of the door and staring at it with a hand gestured as if he was trying to knock for the second time. Unconsciously, a smile appeared at the corner of Kagami's lips, and he immediately opened the door.

 

“Kuroko, why are you not coming in?” asked Kagami, grabbing Kuroko's shoulder and guided him inside.

 

“Konbanwa Kagami-kun. It's so rare that you're not surprised like the usual?” he deadpanned saying to Kagami.

 

“No, I am not!! I'm not always that dense, you know? Well, since I know you're coming and I've been waiting for you ... Geez ... You took so long!—” putting his hand on top of Kuroko head and ruffled it. “—seeing my parents lovey dovey behaviour is giving me a torture, maybe that's the reason why i realize you are there faster than the usual, and because i already heard a knock beforehand too” he finished but still petting gently Kuroko's small blue head. It was the old habit of Kagami from the first time they met.

 

“It's heavy, Kagami-kun” protested Kuroko, shifted Kagami's hand off. Then he walked over to the side of Kagami-obasan's bed, ignoring Kagami's chatter. He didn't like it when Kagami ruffled his head as if mocking his lithe and short stature that was settled in the same height since high school, compared to Kagami whose body continued to grow like a giant.

 

“Tetsuya honey!! You come visiting!” Kagami-obasan exclaimed happily after seeing her another son.

 

“Konbanwa, Obasan, Ojisan” he greeted, not forgetting the ethics, he bowed his head and looked at his aunt who was on the mattress. “Are you really okay, Obasan?” Kuroko asked worrily, his look fixated at the bandage around her forehead.

 

“I'm okay, like I told you on phone before ... more like shouted at you?” she laughed trying to reassure Kuroko. “Doctor said I'm fine, and i only need to wait a day to be observed, then if there is not—and hopefully nothing—any adverse symptoms, I can go home immediately. Do not worry, honey, you little worrywart” she explained and petting Kuroko's hand while smiling at him.

 

“Told you so, Kuroko! You just do not believe me?” Kagami groaned trying to help bring the plate for his dad on the other side of his mom's bed. “And mom, stop asking dad to peel any more apples, do not waste food! Dad, do not spoil mom too much! She's old enough, so i do not think she can finish them all” he preached.

 

Kagami's mother glared at her giant son. “What did you say? OLD??? I have not even reached a half a century!”

 

“You will in 3 years! So do not hurt your aging stomach and then prolong the days you have to be hospitalized!” he replied fast and vexed.

 

“I think it's okay Taiga, do not agitate her! she's injured” Kagami's dad advised him and pat his back “I love to spoil her. And it has been so long since i made her these rabbit apples” her dad smile looking affectionate to his wife. They become lovey dovey again. Sighing again, Kagami could not help it.

 

“You heard that right, baka son?” she said while grinning for her ridiculous victory.

 

Kuroko was silently observing the scene in front of him. He could feel the warmth of a family. The scene of debating between family members, was something that he never felt. Exchanging word by word to each other. Caring for and understanding each other. Maybe that was how real family relationship like, no walls. Kuroko thought that maybe if his parents were still alive, he could experience and feel what the warmth of a family was like.

 

From his last name anyone maybe wondering why his family name was Kuroko, not Kagami. He was not either a direct descendant of Kagami family, or a son of distant relative from marrying into Kagami family. Since childhood, he was living in the apartment of Kagami's parents. Kuroko was a foster child.

 


However, that did not mean Kuroko was treated like strangers by Kagami family. He knew that Kagami's parents cared for him like their own son. But because he did not want to disappoint them, he tried so hard not to be troublesome child. As the result, there was never a moment that he complained or debated them like any other children to their parents. He was always a quiet and obedient child. And that was what made him feel there was always a wall between him and Kagami's family.

 

Since he was a small child, he never knew about his parents, and there was never a distant relative of him who came looking for him. What he knew about his parents was only from the story of Kagami's mother. He did not remember anything from his childhood time about his parents at all.

 

Looking at Kuroko was spacing out, Kagami came to sit next to him, “Kuroko? OI, Kuroko?” he spoke while waving his hand in front of Kuroko. No response. Finally, he patted Kuroko shoulder and whisper near his ear “Heyyyyy Kuroko?”

 

Suddenly awakened from his daydream, “ah, what's wrong Kagami-kun?” he asked flatly, still putting a mask of no expression.

 

“You did not hear your own stomach?” Kagami pointing at Kuroko's belly.
Kuroko was not aware that his stomach was growling. He had not eaten anything since this afternoon. He deliberately did not eat lunch, remembering his little appetite, and because later he and Kagami would meet and eat dinner together in Maji Burger. But because he got a call about Kagami's mother accident, they canceled his appointment, so Kuroko immediately went straight to the hospital.

 

“You are so hungry that you suddenly fainted while sitting for a moment??” Kagami teased, a mix of concerned painted on his face.

 

Growwwllllllll

 

“Ah, yes, Kagami-kun, it seems like my stomach needs intake, I'd better find food first, then I'll come back here again” he said, looking for an excuse to get out of the room. He rushed up to stand from the chair he was sitting on. He walked to the door and asked, “Ah, Obaasan and Ojiisan, is there something you need? I can buy it in the mini market while passing by”

 

“No Tetsuya, for now there is nothing” replied the woman with red fiery hair. He then glanced at Kagami's father and saw him gently shaking his head. And last time before he opened the door, he looked at Kagami, waiting for an answer.

 

Kagami understood that Kuroko asked the same question. “Wait Kuroko, I can go with you. I'll accompany you, because I make you starving for canceling my promise to Maji Burger after all” he reasoned.

 

“No, it's okay Kagami-kun, I can go by myse-” said Kuroko who got cut off when hearing Kagami-obaasan spoke.

 

“Tetsuya, it's better if you and Taiga go home today. It's late already. Let this fool cook for you as a punishment for breaking his promise!” the mother of the dark red haired man ordered. Kagami nodded approvingly as he looked at Kuroko. “Besides, you can come here tomorrow, you work here” she reassured Kuroko

 

“Okay, Obasan” he obeyed, a bit disappointed. He couldn't refuse his auntie's request. Still, he could hide it successfully.

 

“Well Kuroko, let's go to the mini market first, we need to buy the ingredients for dinner food” said Kagami in high spirit. “Then Mom, me and Kuroko will go now” Kagami said.

 

“Well, Obasan, Ojisan, Oyasuminasai” Kuroko said finally opened the door of the room and exited with Kagami. Before closing the door, he saw his aunt waving her hand at him with a smile on her lips.


 

After buying some ingredients they need in the mini market, soon they arrived at the apartment. Kagami rushed kuroko to go to the dining room. Actually there was no need to go to mini market, because the ingredients in refrigerator at home was enough. But Kagami insisted on shopping with Kuroko. Kuroko did not understand why Kagami was stubborn about it. At first Kuroko did not want to, because it would consume much time, but seeing Kagami still insisted, he finally just came along.

 

“What would you like to eat?” asked kagami very enthusiastically.

 

“I'm okay with anything, Kagami-kun.” replied Kuroko not much caring about the food. He didn't have many dishes he preferred.

 

“Omelette rice then” he hummed while preparing groceries for cooking.

 

Honestly, Kuroko wanted to be alone if he could. He felt a little guilty to Kagami for being envy of his family. Yes, that was what he may be felt right now. Jealous. Feeling guilty for thinking like he did not deserve to be there even though he knew, Kagami family never thought like that of him. Kagami's family was very kind to him. They were so precious for him. And he treasured them deeply.

 

While Kagami was engrossed in cooking, Kuroko was once again swept away in his past daydream. He remembered the first time when Kagami-obasan told him about his parents. And about the letter.

Chapter Text

6 years ago.

 

It was a cold evening. Kuroko was reading a book in his room, when there was sound of a knock on the door of his room. Visible figure of the red haired woman appeared before him when he had opened the door. The woman was still in her suits from work.

 

“Ah, Kagami-obasan, what's the matter?” he asked, a little surprised because it was unusual for his Obasan coming to his room.

 

“Tetsuya, can I talk to you for a while?” she asked, smiling as she lifted a tray with cookies and two cups of warm tea on it that she brought over. Not a match with her suit, she was wearing tho.

 

“Of course, please do come in.” he gestured his hand, inviting his aunt to go in.

 

Looking at the slight restless expression mixed with sadness on her face, Kuroko certainly knew that the thing that would be talked about was something heavy and long. He still did not know about exactly what will be discussed, so his mind started to wonder if this was the time for him to leave the house?

 

If indeed it was what would be discussed, since long time Kuroko also had prepared his heart to leave home at anytime. He knew that he could not forever be freeloader in Kagami's family, he was already saving his allowance for if one day his aunt asked him to aunt leave home, seeing he had grown up.

 

They both went into the room, Kuroko immediately provided her a cushion to sit on. It was a simple room; there were only bed, bookshelf, desk, and small wardrobe. She glanced around the room while sitting, since she was seldom coming inside Kuroko's room.

 

On the top of Kuroko's bookshelf, she saw a framed photograph was being displayed. She stood again and walked over to lift the photo. Staring at the photo for a while, she smiled sadly. In the photo, depicted a baby blue-haired woman with blue eyes who were carrying a baby covered with white cloth, and a dark gray-haired man kissing the crown of his baby head while twinning his hand on his wife's shoulder.

 

Putting the photo back to where it was, she looked at Kuroko. She sat again on cushion on Kuroko's tatami room and grabbed the cup of tea, then she drank a bit.

 

“You became to resemble your mother more each day, especially your eyes and hair” she commented after putting down the cup.

 

She held Kuroko's hand with her hand and the other hand cupped his cheek. He even only ever saw his parents' face from the photo given to him from her Kagami-obasan not long after he was adopted. And that photo was the only memento that reminded Kuroko that his parents had ever existed.

 

“Tetsuya, do you miss your parents?” said the woman, staring at his face gently.

 

There was a pause. They both now was in silence. The air seemed still. She was waiting for an answer from Kuroko.

 

“I... I do not know. I don't remember anything about them, so I can not say that I miss them” Kuroko replied hesitantly.

 

He did not know whether he missed his parents or not. If missing someone was defined by wanting them to be in this world—with him—, surely it had ever crossed his mind. However, the thought was long forgotten because he was used to it. Used to living without his parents in his life. How could he feel the longing for them if he had not even met them?

 

What he remembered, he lived in an orphanage. It was before being adopted by Kagami family, when he was 4 years old. At that time, he knew that the orphanage was a place for children who did not have parents, either because they were temporary entrusted in, thrown away, abandoned or left to die. Therefore, he never asked the reason why he could be in the orphanage, because the answer must be one of them. Never once, he did ask the orphanage principal or workers about his parents.

 

“I have not told you why I adopted you. You are a quiet and obedient child, not even single question you asked me about your parents, even when I gave a picture of your parent…” she said and taking a glance to the photograph. “… I honestly feel relieved then, because I did not have to explain anything to you as a child. But I feel guilty for hiding something to you, and I think it's a good time to tell you. In two days, it will be your seventeenth birthday, and you're older enough to know the truth” she explained, looking at him straightforwardly.

 

Like a flash, he remembered all the day that passed in the orphanage ran so fast that he spent only by reading picture books and aloof. He did not play with other children. Other children did not try asking him to play with together either. He was often forgotten because of his lack of presence. Until one day, when he was playing the swings on the yard alone, there was a tall dark-haired woman who greeted him. The woman then often came and brought him the vanilla pie. The woman later adopted him. Yes, the woman was Kagami's mother.

 

“Do you want to know about your parents?” he asked Kuroko hesitantly, because maybe Kuroko didn't want to hear anything about his parents.

 

“…” Kuroko only nodded his head after being a bit hesitated for a second.

 

“You might be able to guess, that your mother and i were best friends since elementary school…” she began to tell him while she was looking back to the past with smile decorated her lips. “...your mother was a unique, courageous and tomboyish girl i've ever met in my life. People was very fond of her nature, and I am proud being her friends. She often protected me from classmates who liked to bully me, because I was the tallest girl in school. And since the first time she protected me, I made a promise to be always her aid whenever and any time. So your mother and i always attended same schools. I was always with her most of the time.”

 

Kuroko quietly listened to the story, from what he just had heard, he concluded that his mother personality was the opposite of him. How fun girl she was. He could actually see a bit of her aura from the photographs. A bright woman.

 

“Until she finally met your father when she was in third year of high school. They met in the city library, when your mother was looking for a book for school work. Your father was a college student majoring in archeology” she continued her story, trying to reminisce the past. “Kuroko Shouka, your father's name. He was a good man, though a little strange because his hobby was indulging many unknown artifacts. He was a bookworm. I didn't like him at first, but maybe fate said differently. They fell in love. I sometimes felt jealous and hate your father for taking your mother's time from me, but seeing your mother happy, I was happy too. And a year later, your mother told me that she decided to marry your father.”

 

At least now he knew from whom he became to love books. It was clearly from his late father.

 

“What about the rest of the family?” he inquired.

 

Kagami-obasan only told about how his parents met. He wondered about his mother's or father's family, because he was ended up in orphanage and was adopted by Kagami's family; Not with one of his relative. There should be a reason for this.

 

“I don't know about your father's family, he didn't talk about it. But your mother was born from a family that is quite famous, and your mother's maiden name was Hikou Ran. A daughter from Hikou branch family. She was the only child. It is a traditional religious family that has a small shrine in Tokyo. She had strict parents about tradition. The one your mother should marry, had been determined by the family, so when the main family know about her relationship with your father, they did not approve.” she explained with a bit angry grimace on her face. Trying to repress her emotion.

 

“Your mother decided to leave the family and finally married your father. She was banished from the Hikou family. I don't know if any relatives from Hikou family ever contacted her after the marriage. What i knew was that she and your father lived happily together in small house in Kyoto, and the peak of their happiness was when she was pregnant of you and ultimately gave birth to you safely.” she smiled then moving her eyes direction on the photo displayed on the bookshelf. “My husband was the one who took that photo”

 

She continued the talk and told him a bit about of her own family situation then. Kagami-obasan and her husband had to lived in America, because of work. They were busy with their lives and taking care one year old Kagami. So she only came to Japan occasionally; when there was work she had to attend in Japan, and when she went to meet Kuroko's mother who had just given birth to you. She told him that it was the last time she saw Kuroko's parents.

 

“Usually we phoned each other, until finally there was no longer a phone call from her. As the work kept piling up, and i was drowning in my life and family in America, i didn't try to worry about her, because i believed that she must be okay with your father guarding your mother and the baby you” acknowledged her “And when I returned to live in Japan again with my husband, I found a letter reached me, without the sender's name. An envelope that was slipped under my apartment door. You can read it.”

 

Then she handed the small envelope to Kuroko. He was hesitant to read it. He was facing the two choices, one was to know about her parents or the other choice that was just to live without knowing anything about them. It was the later. He then took the envelope and opened it. There was two papers in it a white and a blue one. He first opened the white one to read the content.

Dear my best friend,


When you read this, probably my husband and I are no longer alive. I left my baby, Kuroko Tetsuya, alone in this world. We can't see him growing up to be a fine man. I left him in a small orphanage in the suburb of Tokyo. Please, Please pick him up. I hope you can raise him and protect him like your own son, my good friend. That is my last wish. I trust you. Forgive me if this is the last letter I can give you.

Warm regards,

Ran

Thank you for always being my best friend. Hopefully we can meet again in the next life.

 

Still holding the letter, Kuroko raised his face from the letter and looked at his aunt.

 

“That was the reason why I adopted you. You are my best friend's son. After getting the letter, I keep looking for you from the scratch. I don't know why she didn't write the name of the orphanage. One year i needed to finally find you” she said feeling guilty. She took the blue paper one from the floor and gave to Kuroko. Like the previous letter, it was folded in half. When he flipped the letter, he saw his name written on it. “The blue one is for you, I never read the content. I never gave out this letter for you because you were still a small kid. So I hid it until you are old enough, forgive me”

 

With a slightly trembling hand, he started to read the letter.

Dear my love,

Forgive me and your father who left you alone. I'm sorry that i can not tell you everything on this piece of paper. To Tell you about all the truth. I just want you to know, that we never hate you or throw you away. It's just the circumstance that made me to do this. We apologize if you feel alone in this world. But one thing that you need to keep in mind, that we always love you very much. You are my son, i know you are strong. You are your father's son, you must be gentle. Therefore, even if you got you hurt in this life, i hope you still live your life to the fullest and happily. Always help the others, because kindness will bring kindness.

Love you always,

from mother and father.

 

Tears instantly dropped upon the letter that he was holding. He could no longer hold the tears from falling after reading the handwriting on a piece of blue paper. He felt a pang in his heart. Pain, but warm. Although he did not hate his parents, he had ever felt as if he was abandoned. Alone. But this letter proved the love of parents to him. Knowing that his parents were truly loved him, not merely an utterance of lip service from people that pitied him.

 

His aunt hugged him tightly. He kept sobbing, and she let him. Never once did she ever saw him crying since his childhood. Seeing his tears fell making her felt the sadness too. On other side, she was glad, that Kuroko was not totally emotionless. She stroked his back softly, trying to calm him.

 

After the tears were no longer falling, he then let go of his aunt's arms. Kuroko wiped the tears traces from both eyes and cheeks. He knew that the letter didn't explain anything about his parents' death. About why? When? Where? And What circumstances caused them to die?

 

“Do you know why my father and mother died?” he inquired curiously with his broken voices after crying.

 

“About that… I went to your home, what i saw was the abandoned house. I tried to ask to the neighborhood, but they didn't really know about the detail. They said… that your parent's had died in a car accident. I also tried asking the head of the orphanage, about your parents, and they did not know anything about them. They said that they only found you lying asleep in front of the door wrapped in a cloth with a paper that read: His name is Kuroko Tetsuya. And–” she told him.

 

Clack

 

The sound of plates hit the table, cutting off Kuroko from his daydreams of the past, and brought him back to the present reality. There were two warm and delicious omelettes laid out in front of him.

 

Kagami who had opened an apron, then sat down on the chair—the opposite of where Kuroko was sitting—, and placed it on an empty chair next to him.

 

Kuroko immediately grabbed the chopsticks and the rice bowl that had also been served. Kuroko felt like he forgot something important that was told by Kagami-obasan when he was in his daydream before, but he couldn't seem to remember what it was. His stomach rumbled again, so for now he decided to just eat the meal.

 

“Itadakimasu” Kuroko said before he started eating his omelette. Kagami followed by saying the same thing.

 

“Thank you, Kagami-kun. And sorry” Kuroko said and stopped eating for a moment. He was ashamed for being jealous of Kagami before. He was not alone. From the depth of his heart, he was very grateful to the kagami family.

 

“No prob, Kuroko” replied Kagami, as he finished his food. As if knowing what Kuroko was thinking.

Chapter Text

Lunch time, downstream of hospital staffs were alternatively taking turns in and out to the hospital or cafeteria. Time for a break. Kuroko had just gone to the cafeteria; buying a drink to reduce his thirst and hoping water could fill his stomach temporarily. This afternoon, he felt like not wanting to eat. It was not because the foods in the canteen were not his favourites, but only because his stomach still felt full due to the portion of food that Kagami made for him last night. It was a large portion for kuroko, which might be only a normal portion for Kagami who did have a tremendous appetite. Plus, with breakfast this morning, it felt like his stomach could not be filled with anything but only water until tomorrow morning.

 

On the way returning from cafeteria to his workplace, somehow, Kuroko felt the atmosphere in the hospital that was supposed to be quiet even with many people around, turned to be peculiarly noisy, dominated by the voices of females either the patients or hospital visitors who seemed to be whispering even squealing to each other with an excited facial expression. Even at a glance, he could see a woman ahead, positioning her smartphone to catch a moment, and he heard small sound of camera shutter from the smartphone, which might be forgotten to be silenced.

 

'Accident? Or is there a famous person who had just been admitted to the hospital? Politician? Celebrity?' a thought crossed his mind. After all, this was hospital, a place for people who sought for treatment for their health matter, being famous or not.

 

Humans were full of curiosity, but Kuroko then just kept walking, he didn't bother to find out.

 

THUD

 

Kuroko bumped into something when he tried to turn his way into the hallway. Precisely, his face was. Almost fell, but Kuroko could still maintain his balance. Actually it was not something, but someone. In front of him stood a tall dark blue haired man. The man whom Kuroko bumped into.

 

“Egh!” startled the dark blue haired man when he felt something touched his left arm. He looked around him. He was worried that his big body probably has crushed something. And he saw nothing.

 

“What's wrong Aominecchi?” asked a blonde man approaching the dark blue haired man behind, who was currently standing with puzzled expression.

 

“I dunno, but I feel like something bumped into me” said the dark blue haired man who was called as Aominecchi, after stroking his left arm as he turned his body to face the blonde haired man.

 

“Really? Let me see~” offered the blonde man. He stucked out his head slightly looking around Aomine's body, to find out about what had come into contact with the dark skinned man. “I don't see anything, Aominecchi~”

 

“Sorry for crashing into you” Kuroko apologized while caressing gently his face—right on his nose. He expected them to see him. Or… Not.

 

“Oi, Kise, did ya hear that??” Aomine asked the blonde haired man, feeling lost. Making sure that he was not having auditory hallucination and not the only who could hear it. “I definitely heard someone was talking, but I didn't see anyone, but you beside me”

 

“Nope, I didn't hear anything” answered Kise nonchalantly, now facing Aomine, after checking out behind Aomine's back again.

 

“Actually I'm here behind you” Kuroko said as he touched Aomine's upper back to make his presence known that he was standing behind the dark blue haired man.

 

“!??… WHOAAAA! Y-YOU! ... H-how could you appear so suddenly!??” gasped Aomine a bit stuttering, being surprised after he heard the voice once again, and when he turned round, a small figure of baby blue haired man showed up beside him suddenly.

 

“Aominecchi, now you are talking to yourself??” asked Kise as he touched the forehead of a dark skinned man with his hand, comparing their body's temperature and making sure if fever was what caused Aomine acting like that, “Definitely, not the fever i guess~”

 

“No, I am neither having fever nor talking to myself! Look closely! He's beside me!” Aomine said as he removed Kise's hand from his forehead then clapped Kise's shoulder.

 

“...hmm... Wow! I can see him now, is he a ghost~??” commented Kise after focusing his eyes for a while.

 

“No, I am not. I am human.” Kuroko replied deadpan and turned his face to look at Aomine “... I apologize for crashing into you. I was not looking ahead carefully when walking before. Are you okay?”

 

“I'm okay, but not my heart, I guess?” sighed Aomine, taking a breath as he glanced to the pale white man.

 

“If everything is fine, I will excuse myself. And… I am sorry for making you startled.” concluded Kuroko with no expression, “Well then, Excuse me”

 

Kuroko bowed his head then left. They kept staring as Kuroko walked into the hallway.

 

“I've never met someone who has no presence like him” Kise commented, holding his chin between his toe and forefinger. “Is he really a human?”

 

“Yeah, true. But if he said he is human, then he is” Aomine agreed, then started walking again to the opposite direction from Kuroko toward the hospital exit door. “Stop staring, or I'll leave you here.”

 

“Wait, Aominecchi~!” Kise begged and then chased after Aomine.



Meantime, in the restroom, Kuroko was checking out his face in the mirror. It fairly hurt, right in the nose. He wanted to make sure if it wasn't bleeding or bruising. With an anemic body like his, he sometimes got bruise even if only because of a light collision. And it wasn't funny if he got back to his workplace with blue colour decorated his nose like a clown. And he was obviously not.

 

Kuroko washed his face with the cold water and wiped his face with his small pocketed towel. He was reminded of the two men who had accidentally met just then.

 

'If I wasn't misheard, the blonde guy called the other guy Aominecchi? What a weird last name that is!' thought kuroko when he remembered the blue-haired man who bumped into him.

 

It was the first that Kuroko met another big man besides Kagami. Dark skinned and unruly hair. Just like Kagami. Even their body structure was almost the same except for the few centimeters tall and the skin colour. Kagami's skin tone color was on the lighter side.

 

The other of the two, the blonde one, also had a tall height but with more slender body. He had bright air around him. Flashy appearance with earrings on his ears and both of his hair and eyes are golden, making him easily caught by many eyes.'So, the blonde one who caused the commotion just then?' Kuroko acknowledged, still standing in front of restroom's mirror.

 

Both men wore untidy white shirt without a tie beneath their black suits. Kuroko guessed that they were definitely not the patient. Visitor?

 

Instinctively, Kuroko felt that there was a different aura from those two people. He just thought so. They had unusual auras. Kuroko did not understand why.


 

Kuroko cleaned up the tools he had been using during therapy, when the work time was over. After finishing, he greeted his coworkers before going out of his work station. Before going home, he planned to visit Kagami-obasan first.

 

Closing the door, he ran into a bespectacled man with green hair in a white suit—doctor suit. He was a doctor then. Kuroko never saw him wandering in the hospital area. But well, Kuroko's job was often making him occupied in the same room, so maybe it was just him who had never crossed way with the doctor before.

 

Kuroko wanted to greet the doctor, but before opening his mouth, he sensed the air around the doctor was very serious. The doctor walked so fast while putting his hands in the pocket of his doctor suit. Perhaps, there was something important or emergency happening. So Kuroko would not bother him then.
He decided to just walk away to his aunt's room.

 

Arriving at the ward where Kagami-obasaan stayed, Kuroko saw Kagami was standing outside the room as he looked at his smartphone. Kuroko approached Kagami then greeted “Konnichiwa, Kagami-kun”

 

“WHOAA! Kuroko!” gasped Kagami as he caught his smartphone that almost falling down.

 

“Same as usual, Kagami-kun” deadpanned Kuroko looking at the terrified expression on Kagami's facial muscles.

 

“You!! ... Haaahh” sighed Kagami, knowing that he could never protest because even for many times Kuroko sneaked beside him, he never realized and got used to it. Signaling with the hand for Kuroko to go inside while opening the room's door, he said “Do you want me to get a heart attack?”

 

“....” Kuroko ignored Kagami's question as he entered the room. No need to answer since that was the familiar response came from Kagami.

 

“Tetsuya honey, you've come picking me home, right??” greeted Kagami-obasan cheerfully as she saw Kuroko came into the room.

 

“Obasan, you are allowed to go home now?” asked Kuroko when he saw his auntie was ready to go. Even the blanket of the bed was already folded neatly.

 

“Yes, I am as healthy as before! Doctor said that i just need to come here a week later to see if the scar is completely healed, so he can remove the stitches.” she smiled brightly as she pointed her hand to the bandaged on her forehead, slightly tapping on it.

 

“Where is Ojisan?” asked Kuroko, after looking around and seeing no sign of Kagami-ojisan's presence.

 

“He's just left. You know, usual stuff, work. He will come home tomorrow, I guess” he answered lazily as he put his smartphone he was looking since before to his pocket and picked his sporty sling bag from the sofa.

 

“Geez! Really…. He got the phone call from work. At first, he stubbornly insisted on staying here, so i just send him off. I am fine now, he should know that” pouted Kagami-obasan while folding her hands. “Being spoiled while in sick is nice, but using me as reason because he is too lazy to work, is non sense!!”

 

“Kuroko, can you accompany my mother to get the drugs on the prescription in the hospital pharmacy? All the admissions fees have been taken care by dad before he left” Kagami sighed, putting on his parka while listening his mother still mumbling something “I need to go”

 

“Okay, Kagami-kun” answered Kuroko. He wondered where Kagami was going. Not wanting to pry, Kuroko didn't ask.

 

“Thanks a lot, Kuroko” said Kagami as he ruffled Kuroko tiny head once, Kagami exited the room after adjusting his bag on his shoulder, and before closing the door he said “Then I'm going now”

 

After seeing Kagami left the room, then Kuroko looked back to his aunt who was now smoothing out her dress by her hands. Tidying her outfit so she was ready to go.

 

“So, Tetsuya-kun, should we go too?” asked Kagami-obasan as she walked to where her bag was.

 

“Hai, obasan” Kuroko replied, readily took his aunt's bag since where he stood was near to the bag, so he could bring it for her. “Let me help you”

 

They walked out the room to the elevator and then went inside. When it reached the ground floor, they stepped out of the elevator to the direction where pharmacy was. They needed to get the prescription first before going home.

 

Hospital pharmacy was so crowded with other patients who queued up to get the medication. The seats in front of the pharmacy counter were already occupied. Together with his aunt, they went to the nearest spot, looking for an empty seat. There, he found an empty seat near the hospital patient register booth.

 

“Obasan, you can wait here, I'll go queuing up there to get your medicines” said Kuroko as he gestured his hand to the pharmacy direction.

 

“Okay, thank you, Tetsuya-kun.” she agreed and sat down. She then pulled Kuroko's upper arm when he turned to his back before he went to pharmacy, still bringing his aunt bag, “Oh, could you please take my purse out? It's in my bag. I want to buy something to drink.”

 

“Then, I will buy it for you, Kagami-obasan” Kuroko offered, not wanting his aunt to get exhausted just after being released from hospital.

 

“No, I'll buy it myself.” she emphasised as she glanced at the drinks vending machine across the hall from her current seat “I'm not that sick, Tetsuya-kun. You can just go getting the drugs. We should just share our job”

 

“... Okay, obasan. Please, do not push yourself” said Kuroko hesitantly, a bit worry, as he handed the purse from inside the bag to his aunt.

 

Standing up from her seat, she then walked toward the vending machine. Looking at his aunt could walk away stably, Kuroko rushed to the pharmacy. He did not want his aunt to wait for him too long.



She was now in front of the drinks vending machine after stopping to the restroom briefly. Taking out her money, she was contemplating between two different drinks vending machines; one selling hot drinks, and the other selling cold drinks. She noticed variety of drinks written above the buttons on each machine; Cola, milk, chocolate, coffees, juices and mineral water. Even inside of the fully air-conditioned hospital, this hot summer weather made her craving something cold to rejuvenate her. Putting the money into the cold drinks vending machine, she pressed a button that belongs to lemon juice.

 

The sound of a bottle falling down could be heard before finally the bottle came out of the machine. She bent over to take out her drinks. Dizzy. She felt a little dizzy in her head. Staying still for a moment, then the dizzy spell was gone away. She steadily stood back after taking her drink. Not waiting for another second, she opened the bright yellow bottle cup and swallowed the lemon water. Too cold. But, the fresh cold lemon taste made her felt refreshed. Carrying the bottle and occasionally sipping from it, she walked back to where she promised to wait for Kuroko.

 

Another pain struck her head. She cupped her temporal with her palm and waited for the pain to be gone, just like before. Is this pain because of the effect from drinking too cold drinks? Or because of the stitches on her head? The aftereffect of the impact on her head? Has the previous drug effect been over?

 

She couldn't think about what causing her pain, with her currently pounding head. It might be because either one or all of them. Trying to keep her posture from falling, she leaned on the nearest wall. When the pain starting to subside, she started to walk again. But only for few steps, the pain was coming back again. Her vision now was blurry with everything seemed to be spinning. No longer could maintain her balance, unconsciously her body was falling backward.

 

THUD

 

She didn't feel the pain from hitting the floor. Someone already caught her just before she knocked onto the floor. It was a man she saw when she glanced upwards. The man supported her with his sturdy arm—she could feel on her back—, in a half-kneeling position on his right foot. The man had the matching hair color to his eyes. Crimson red.

 

“Are you okay, Ma'am?” he asked worriedly while still holding the woman. Later, the man helped her to stand again and picked up the lemon juice bottle near her. Assuming it was hers, he then gave it back to her.

 

“Oh! I'm sorry. It was just a headache. I think the effect of the drug is wearing off” replied Kagami-obasan, pointing out the temporal part of her bandaged head. The pain was not completely gone, but it wasn't spinning like before. “I'm alright now”

 

“Where do you want to go, ma'am? I'll take you there” the man volunteered as he took back his cane which fell from his grip when he tried to help Kagami-obasan.

 

“I need to go to the registration section but since I can stand up now, so I can walk by myself ...” she replied, not wanting to bother the man who kindly helped her even when he was injured himself, after she saw the man in front of him using a walking cane on his left side.

“No, I insist.” said the man firmly as he looking at the woman in front of him. “I'd be dangerous if the headache attacks again, when there is nobody keeping you from falling and hit the ground. You would get injured again, Ma'am.”

 

“Oh my, such a young gentleman. Okay then, thank you for your kindness” praised Kagami-obasan taking his offer with pleasure. Looking at his eyes, she knew instinctively that the man could not be denied. “And I'm sorry for the inconvenience, even though you are injured yourself”

 

He only smiled as a reply, trying to tell her that he was fine. The man accompanied her by walking slowly until they arrived to the empty seat near the registration booth—her destination. She looked around the area, but there were no presence of Kuroko waiting nearby.

 

“Are you looking for someone here?” he asked, looking at Kagami-obasan's behavior.

 

“Oh yes, I am waiting for my son getting the prescribed medicines. I thought he was already here, but I guess not.” explained Kagami-obasan as she sat down.

 

“Probably, he's still lining up” the man reasoned as he moved his arm to look at his feathered luxury watch. A spark of gold could be seen from the hands of the watch “well, ma'am, I think I must go now. I hope your son will be here soon”

 

“Oh yes, once again, thank you, young man” she thanked the man.

 

“Not at all. And actually it was me who insisted on helping you, Ma'am” he smiled and said goodbye while slightly bending head “Sayonara, Ma'am”

 

“Sayonara” replied Kagami-obasan, bowed slightly as the response. The crimson haired man turned his heels and walked away. She kept staring at figure of the man getting far until he was not on her field of view anymore. Nowadays, it was rare to find such a young but refined man like him; she could sense it from his aura and mannerism. His outfit was definitely high class, although he walked a little limp on his left side. But still, you could see how expensive must be the walking cane he was using—a black sturdy wood with gold lion head carved on its handle. Rather than a walking cane for patient, it was more like a cane to that noblemen carried in 17th Century to show off his wealth status.

 

Moments later, Kuroko finally came, carrying a small white paper bag containing the medicines from the pharmacy. He saw his aunt sitting down and waiting for him in the exact seat before she left to the vending machine. Her vision was like being frozen to one spot. So, his eyes followed the direction of his aunt's eyes looking. It was straight to aisle of exit hall where many people were passing by.

 

“Kagami-obasan, are you alright? Do you feel any pain?” inquired Kuroko, as he approached his aunt who was being astonished to whatever she was looking at. He asked to make sure if his aunt was really okay and in the good condition to leave the hospital.

 

“I'm alright now. I just felt a bit headache then, almost making me fall, but fortunately there was a kind gentleman who helped me. Ah, you just missed out seeing him“ explained Kagami-obasan as she pointed her finger out to the exit hall, after realizing Kuroko was beside her when she heard him asking about her condition.

 

“I should thank him if only he was not already gone…” acknowledged Kuroko. “But obasan, I think we should see the doctor to make sure if there is something wrong or not from your injury. Just once again before going home”

 

“No need, Tetsuya-kun. Doctor explained that there will be headaches as the aftereffect of the injury, but it was only temporary” she explained. If she could, she did not want to be in hospital any longer. The reek of sterile air in the hospital rooms was not something she was fond of. “Okay, Lets just go home now”

 

“Hai, oba—” his sentence got cut off when Kuroko heard his aunt voice sounded confused.

 

“Wait, where is my purse?” dumbfounded Kagami-obasan as she moved her eyes from her hands to the chair she had occupied. Expecting that her purse was falling on it.

 

“Did you lose your purse?” questioned Kuroko as he helped to look under the chair. Still, the object which he was looking for was not visible, only the lemon juice bottle. “Kagami-obasan, did you maybe forget it somewhere else?”

 

“No, I am sure i brought it back here after I bought my drink” she pointed out, after trying to remember the chronology. “I stopped at the restroom, but only for seconds. It was before I bought my drink, my purse was with me when I took out the money.”

 

Suddenly, Kuroko remembered what he accidentally heard from his coworkers about the recent incident, in another hospital. It was about a man who pretended to help a patient and then stole a valuable item from the person whom he helped. It was pickpocket's modus operandi. The news about the occurrence of pick pocketing in this hospital had never been heard. However, of all possibilities, it might be what his aunt was experiencing right now. It clicked when Kuroko realised that his aunt told him that someone helped her to get back.

 

“Can you describe the one who helped you before, obasan?” Kuroko asked hurriedly, not wanting to waste any seconds.

 

“Well, he was a man with crimson red hair and eyes, using a walking cane on his left side… But why do you ask about it, Tetsuya-kun?” asked Kagami-obasan back. Puzzled.

 

“I think I know where your purse is” acknowledged Kuroko confidently. Putting off his and his aunt bag on the seat before Kuroko rushed toward the exit hallway where his aunt said the man was going “Obasan, I'm sorry, but please wait here”

 

Sitting on the seat next to their bag, Kagami-obasan still couldn't comprehend what was just happened. It was the first time she saw Kuroko was looking furious like this.



Running with all of his might as he looked around, he hoped to find the man whom his aunt had described. Too many people were passing by in front of him, but Kuroko would not give up. He wanted to catch the criminal who tricked his aunt and took his aunt's purse. A man with red hair and using a walking cane, it should be easy to find. However, it could be that Kuroko had just lost the chance to catch him because the man had already run away.

 

As he stopped to catch his breath, Kuroko was still trying to find the man, looking left and right. Just near the hospital exit door, he saw a red-haired guy using a walking cane on his left side. The red haired man was going toward the hospital door, and suddenly stopped his feet. He was standing by the wall behind the tall pillar of the building as he pulled out his smartphone and talked to someone across the line.

 

Kuroko started to run again, even though when running was not his forte because of his weak physics, he still tried to quicken his pace. When he saw the red haired man seemed to start moving again toward the exit, Kuroko was adding more acceleration to his steps, although it seemed not making any differences. He was now racing with himself so that he didn't lose the targeted man. The distance between them was now decreasing more and more. A few meters, Kuroko almost got to where the man was. A little bit more. Almost. He would catch the man.

 

The red haired man kept talking on his phone as he wasn't aware that someone was approaching him quickly. He only realized the other prescence when he felt a tug on his clothes.

 

"I got you!!"