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look in the mirror, there go your hero

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Tetsurou stared at his reflection in the mirror, still trying to grasp what was happening in his country. He would be crowned King of Nekoma tonight, assuming that no one challenges him for the title, and those chances are looking slim to none honestly. Tetsurou knows that he is fit for the role, groomed by none other than his grandfather: the late King Nekomata.

 

 

 

Nekomata’s passing is still fresh, very present in the forefront of Tetsurou’s mind. In fact, it was only just last week when he was walking through the gardens with the old King, listening to how much Nekomata had been looking forward to Tetsurou’s upcoming marital union with a Karasuno villager.

 

It was also only just last week when Tetsurou held Nekomata in his arms, watching the life seep out of him and taking the vibranium ring Nekomata was clutching in his palm, after an attack during a United Nations conference in Austria.

 

One moment, Tetsurou was standing off to the side, in a stuffy suit, with his usually unruly hair uncharacteristically slick back, listening to Nekomata mention the history of Nekomian vibranium, how it has been stolen and sold illegally, how the ‘Avengers’ incident was unfortunate because too many Nekomian’s loss their lives, and how despite all of that, Nekoma will only continue to prosper and carry out their mission of doing their part to improve the world, working alongside the Avengers (shall they sign and agree to the Accords). Tetsurou remembers nodding along, agreeing to every single word from his King, watching as all the other representatives listened intently, until his eyes strayed to the commotion coming from the ground level, though they were stories high. He remembers running as fast as he could, yelling for everyone to get down, arms extended out to his grandfather, to his King… only to find it too late. He remembers an explosion, his body flying back, only for him to quickly scramble to his feet, running back to Nekomata’s side. He remembers, way too clearly, holding Nekomata’s lifeless body and crying, begging for help, begging for the Gods to bring him back.

 

 

Tetsurou has since grown a lot in the past week. He had a minor setback, when all that was on his mind was revenge. He had worried his own family, ignoring their calls for him to come home because he wanted one thing settled first. He wanted to get back at the Winter Solider… so he teamed up with other Avengers as they fought amongst each other, only to find out that Tetsurou’s only enemy was Zemo, who he witnessed attempt suicide before preventing it and turning him in to the proper authorities. Tetsurou wishes he could dwell and work out his feelings on everything that has happened and has drastically changed his life, but out on that ledge, preventing Zemo from using a gun to end his life, Tetsurou made a promise to himself. He he had a duty to his country, to his people, to his family’s legacy, and he was not about to let anger consume him and prevent him from completing his purpose.

 

 

 

 

He looked back at his reflection, glancing down at the vibranium ring he now proudly wore on his own hand, the ring that belonged to King before him, and the King before Nekomata, and so on. Tetsurou clenched his first, determined. “I’m ready.” he announced to no one in particular, though he knew there were servants outside his room, waiting.

“It is time to leave, my Prince.” Yamamoto Taketora, one of Nekoma’s strongest warriors, shared, opening Tetsurou’s room door, and peeking his head inside.

 

As they walked together down the corridor and to the vehicle that would transport them to the ceremony, Tetsurou looked around. Everyone was busy moving and trying to catch their own modes of transport, heading to the sacred cliff. “Where is Daichi?” Tetsurou asked Yamamoto, looking around the sea of red and black garments, with no sight of the orange and black Sawamura wore proudly to represent his home village.

“He is already traveling with Karasuno.”

“He couldn’t wait for me? Say goodbye?”

“He did leave you a message.” Yamamoto explained, rummaging through his pockets for the note. Tetsurou gladly accepted the paper, quickly unfolding it to read: King Rooster Head, I hereby pledge my loyalty to you. It made Tetsurou chuckle. If they weren’t engaged to be married and if Tetsurou didn’t have such a soft spot for the crow, he would not take the dig at his hair as lightly as he was now. “Is something funny?”

“Remind me to give Sa’amura-san less rice tonight during the celebratory dinner.”

“Your highness, I would love to follow your commands, but I have already pledged loyalty to Lord Sawamura as well. I will not allow you to starve him.”

“Oh come on! Yamamoto, you belong to my Kingdom!”

“Yes, and Karasuno is still apart of this kingdom, and Sawamura is marrying into the throne…so it is his kingdom too.” Tetsurou didn’t bother dignifying that with a response or snarky comment. Yamamoto did have a point. Ever since Tetsurou met and fell in love three years ago, he always did boast that Sawamura belonged to the Nekoma village just as much as he belonged to his home village of Karasuno. If he would have known that this would be the outcome, maybe he would have been more careful with his words…

 

 

 

 

The journey to the sacred cliff was a speedy one. They arrived in under ten minutes, with Tetsurou allowing his valet Nobuyuki to correct his appearance, paint his face, and attempt to gel down his hair. Together, they then waited for the signal that they could leave their carrier and climb the cliff.

 

This was a traditional affair. The country was divided into multiple villages, with the capital village being Nekoma (where the country is governed and represented internationally), but each village had their own characteristics that made them unique, as well as their own animal gods. For example, Nekoma worships the spirit of the cat, while Karasuno worships crows, and Fukurodani worships owls. They had their own colors and dialects. They also had their own heroes, yet the Black Cat was the most prominent and protector of all. The Black Cat gained its power from the neko-fruit, giving it him strength fit for the King.

 

It is rule that the Palace shall always reside in Nekoma’s territory, but its leader can be from any of the villages. Before a Prince is crowned King, he must partake in a challenge at the sacred cliff. There, he relinquishes the Black Cat’s strength (assuming he has already drunk from the neko-fruit) and must fight whomever from the other villages that wants to challenge him. The winner becomes King.

 

Though it is rare for anyone from the other villages to actually challenge a Nekomian Prince, it is not something that Tetsurou will take lightly nor will he rule out the possibility. Nekomata appeared to be loved by all, and therefore everyone appeared to love Tetsurou by default since he was Nekomata’s grandson. However, Tetsurou was not blind, and he preferred to be prepared.

 

He understood that everyone cannot be pleased, and Nekomata’s death was unexpected. This ceremony was rushed, set up in a panic, because the true leader left them too soon. Tetsurou had huge shoes to fill, and though sometimes he doubted himself, he believed in Nekomata. And Nekomata had believed in him. So, with that in mind, Tetsurou would gladly defend his position as Prince and future King to anyone who dare challenge him.

 

 

 

 

The cliffs were beautiful. A large waterfall stood, pooling water into a small lake, little ledges everywhere for the Kingdom as a whole to watch in the stadium made by nature. Tetsurou stood in the middle of the pool with the King’s advisor, Naoi, water coming up to his knees. He straightened his back, stretching to full height and letting his eyes roam over all of his people as Nobyuki removed his robe, leaving Tetsurou in just his black shorts. The black paw-prints tattooed on his back stood out against his skin. Everyone was wearing their traditional colors, their faces also painted with various lines and symbols: Maroon and White for Shiratorizawa, Turquoise and white for Seijoh, Teal and white for Date Tech, Black and white for Inarizaki, Gold and Black for Fukurodani, Orange and black for Karasuno, and finally Red and black for Nekoma.

 

 

 

“Today we shall crown a new King!” Naoi began, his voice echoing off the walls, “We all understand that Nekomata’s passing was unfortunate and sudden, but we must continue forward. It is the Nekomian way! Nekomata has groomed his grandson to become King, but tradition states that he must earn the title. Does anyone hereby challenge Kuroo Tetsurou, Prince of Nekoma?” Naoi turned his attention to Karasuno.

“We do not wish to challenge today.” Sawamura’s guardian Ukai Keishin announced. Tetsurou had to hide his goofy grin, seeing Sawamura dressed in such traditional attire with orange decorating his face. He could only imagine how Sawamura was probably thinking the same about him, judging by the subtle way Sawamura’s eyes raked over his appearance.

“Very well then,” Naoi turned his attention to Fukurodani.

“No way, Kuroo’s my friend! I won’t fight him!” Bokuto spat out, earning a face palm from his valet Akaashi.

“Fukurodani will not challenge today,” Bokuto’s advisor Yamiji quickly replied.

“Inarizaki will not fight.”

“Date Tech will not challenge Prince Kuroo.”

“Seijoh will decline.”

“Shiratorizawa…” Washijo began, all eyes turning to see whether or not he would force a challenge upon Ushijima. “Will challenge Nekoma today.”

“Come on, old man!” Old Ukai stated, pushing Sawamura aside gently, “Let the catboy take the thrown! We don’t have time for your dramatics. It is not written in the stars for Shiratorizawa to be in power. Even that old bat, Nekomata saw that!”

“I accept your challenge.” Tetsurou stated, nipping this argument in the bud.

 

Each village had their own Lords. If Nekoma was equivalent to Arthur, then the Lords of the other villagers were equivalent to the Knights of the Round Table. Ushijima was Shiratorizawa’s Lord and strongest warrior, and he took a step forward, his valet Tendou removing his robes, leaving Ushijima in just his shorts, with water up to his knees. Ushijima’s face was painted with streaks of maroon, mirroring the streaks of red painted on Tetsurou’s cheeks. Tetsurou took a step closer, bowing to Ushijima and the people of Shiratorizawa.

 

“And now…the strength of the black cat will be stripped from our Prince.” Naoi stated, walking over to Nekoma’s side. Fukunaga was holding a mortar and pestle, with a piece of fruit in the bowl. Naoi made quick work of crushing and grinding the fruit, extracting the juice from it and helping Kuroo drink.

 

Kuroo felt a surge of power run through his veins before momentarily feeling weaker. He inhaled sharply as a slight pain then echoed in his joints but it disappeared by the time he exhaled.

 

“It is done.” Naoi announced, “Please pay your respects to each other before you begin.” Tetsurou nodded his head, turning towards Ushijima and taking a step closer.

“Big guy, take it easy on me?” He teased, bowing to Ushijima who quickly bowed back.

“Prince Kuroo, I am sorry for your loss. Nekomata was a great King, and shall you defeat me, you will also make a great King.”

“If I win, no hard feelings right?”

“Of course not.”

“And you’ll still come to the wedding?”

“Sawamura will not allow me to miss it.”

“You have a point there.” Tetsurou agreed, as they prepared to go head-to-head.

 

Ushijima has always been an exceptional fighter. He had pure talent as well as great technique. He trained hard and seriously, not ever one to goof off. Tetsurou has had a few instances where he chose play over practice and sparring, but he also has always taken his fighting training seriously. Ushijima might have power and stamina over Tetsurou, but Tetsurou has the greater technique and speed.

 

Technique and stamina aside, fighting with Ushijima was not an easy task and honestly at one point Tetsurou felt like he might actually lose. Contrary to belief, these fights were not meant as an excuse to pummel each other or physically harm one another. It was supposed to be simple sparring, with the better fighter (or the luckier fighter) reigning supreme. Tetsurou made sure none of his hits would serve any lasting damage upon Ushijima, though bruising was normal. Ushijima’s hits were similar. They did hurt, but it could always be much worse. 

 

Tetsurou was able to sneak in and cleanly place a few hits here and there, but Ushijima is very aware of his body. Yet, at the same time, Tetsurou could tell he was holding back, and whatever it was that was holding Ushijima back was helping secure victory in Tetsurou’s favor. The goal was to have your opponent step back and out of ‘bounds’; bounds being the cliff’s edge.

 

Tetsurou has always witnessed the fights to end before anyone could fall over, and he made sure to keep that rule now. As Ushijima inched closer, Tetsurou threw out his hand. Ushijima had excellent balance, but now was not the time for it to fail him. “Come to the celebratory dinner, tonight?” Tetsurou requested, holding out a hand in peace, as well as to help pull Ushijima away from the cliff’s edge and back towards their spectators.

“Of course, I will be present. You will make a great king, Kuroo. I pledge my loyalty to you. ”

“Thank you, Ushijima.” Tetsurou agreed, bowing once again to his appointment, as Ushijima walked to rejoin his village. Naoi came over, lifting Tetsurou’s hand.

“Behold! Our King Kuroo Tetsurou!” Naoi announced, the crowds cheering loudly. “All hail King Kuroo!”

“All hail King Kuroo!” Everyone chorused.

“My King…” Naoi stated, kneeling down, the other villages following suit as Tetsurou remained standing. “Any first words?”

“It is an honor to stand before you today, chosen to carry the title of King of Nekoma. Although, we all wish that Nekomata was here to witness this joyous occasion, we must not let it hinder our growth. If I am the blood, then you are the veins! Together, we must flow without end! Nekoma is our heart, Nekoma is our soul. Nekoma is our brain…and we will work together to keep the oxygen moving, and our minds working… as one. As King, it is my duty to assure you that I will do everything in my power to keep Nekoma safe. Nekoma forever.”

“Nekoma forever!”

 

 

~~~

 

Kuroo wishes he could bask in his victory, but right now, he was hunched over in pain from the punch in the stomach Sawamura’s valet gave him as a congratulation. “Sorry, I guess I don’t know my own strength.” Sugawara teased and Tetsurou wanted to call him on his bluff, but thought better of it. “I hope you’re prepared for tonight’s dinner, I worked hard on Daichi’s outfit.”

“Do I finally get to see my beloved in Nekoma’s colors?” Tetsurou teased, standing straight and trying not to show that he still had a slight pain in his abdomen.

“Ha! You wish!” Sugawara laughed, patting Tetsurou on the back, really hard. “See you at the dinner, King Kuroo!” King Kuroo had a nice ring to it, but Tetsurou didn’t want to get over his head nor did he want to be too self absorbed in titles. Especially one that could so easily be taken away.

“Wait, Suga-chan, before we part ways… where is Daichi?”

“In his room, last I seen him?”

“Thanks, carry on as you wish.”

“Yes, my King.” Sugawara bowed exaggeratedly before waving goodbye and heading down the opposite direction of the hall. Tetsurou couldn’t help but chuckle to himself as he turned to make his way towards Sawamura’s bedroom.

 

When Sawamura moved to Nekoma from Karasuno, it was agreed (more like demanded by Nekomata) that he and Tetsurou would have their own separate rooms until their wedding night. Of course, that didn’t stop the two from sneaking off and having sleepovers then, but now that Tetsurou has earned his title as King, it felt a bit more scandalous.

 

He didn’t bother to knock on Sawamura’s bedroom door when he arrived, and instead barged right in. “Wow, King Rooster Head could use some manners.” Sawamura teased from where he was sitting at a desk, scrawling something down on paper.

“I can take etiquette classes later. What are you up to?”

“Writing a letter to Takeda. He was a bit too sick to travel today, and I want to tell him that I listened well and married rich.”

“I’m sure he’ll be ecstatic.” Tetsurou laughed, walking over and draping himself over Sawamura’s back, his palms flat on the desk for support.

“You okay?” Sawamura asked, looking up as Tetsurou nuzzled into his hair before burying his face in the crook of Sawamura’s neck.

“I’m nervous.”

“For what?”

“I don’t want to be a screw up. I have big shoes to fill. Nekomata was a true King… he ruled the land fair and now I have to carry on that duty.”

“You know, Tetsu, you don’t have to rule like Nekomata did. You get to decide what kind of king you want to be.” Sawamura told him quietly, “And I know you’ll be a great one.”

“Thank you.” Tetsurou stated sincerely, those simple words meant a lot to him, and he felt a bit of pressure ease from his shoulders.

“When do you get your strength back?” Sawamura then asked.

“In an hour?”

“Can I come this time?” The last time Tetsurou ate the neko-fruit, that gave him the strength of the Black Cat, was way before he and Sawamura were engaged. Ever since Sawamura moved to Nekoma, and learned of all the traditions and customs of the palace and royalty, he was curious about how the ceremony went down. Of course, it wasn’t necessary to have another strength ceremony until now. Usually, the King was the only one who possessed the strength of the Black Cat, but since Nekomata was a bit up in age, he had offered for Tetsurou to carry on the strength instead. Nekomata had his chance when he was younger, and then more mobile, so since he was already grooming Tetsurou to be King, he thought it wouldn’t hurt for Tetsurou to be the Black Cat a bit earlier. It was a strength that Tetsurou cherished, and has always been a part of him. Though he still felt like himself, it was a bit weird to not have that bond rushing through his veins.

“Yeah, I don’t see why you can’t sit in.” Tetsurou finally answered.

“What happens during it? Do you remember?”

“I drink from the fruit…and they quickly bury me. Then, the fruit makes you hallucinate, and it’s different for everyone but you do get transferred to the spirit realm for a few minutes. I’m hoping they take me back to Nekomata…”

“That sounds kind of scary.”

“It is, it’s a bit painful too.” Tetsurou recalled, “But it’s worth it. It’s so worth it.”

“After you get your strength back, we have to fetch Kenma. He’s apparently been locked up in his lab the entire day.”

“He didn’t come to the ceremony at the cliffs?”

“No, he thought you were going to lose. He bet against Yamamoto.”

“Wow… what kind of little brother is he? Betting against me?”

“A typical one?” Sawamura laughed. “I think it was really an excuse. I’m sure he probably knew you were going to win, and is busy finishing up a present for you or something.”

“You’re letting on that you know something? What do you know?”

“I can’t tell, I just know he told me to bring you there before the dinner.”

“Everyone plotting against me already, and I’ve only been King for a few hours.” Tetsurou laughed. “Move over, I want to write a letter to Takeda-san too.”

 

 

 

When it was time to attend the strength ceremony, Tetsurou led the way. He and Sawamura were headed to the sacred room where all the neko-fruits were cultivated. Usually, Tetsurou kept any public displays of affection to himself, but this time he didn’t hesitate to place an arm around Sawamura’s shoulders as they walked. “I was a teen the last time I did this, you know.”

“Really?” Sawamura was surprised, “But you didn’t go on official ‘black cat’ business until 2 years ago…when you turned 19.”

“That is true, but Nekomata had me start my training when I turned 13. He never gave me an exact reason why…and I’m hoping he can tell me when I visit him.”

“Visit him in the spirit realm? Who did you visit at 13?”

“My father. He was the black cat before I was… and then he was killed in battle. Thinking of it, he died a few days before my 13th birthday, maybe that had a factor in Nekomata’s decision.”

“I’m sure they both are extremely proud of you. I am.”

“Thanks Daichi…” Tetsurou gave his fiancée a small smile before opening the door.

 

 

“Are you ready?” Naoi asked as Kuroo and Sawamura entered the room. Kuroo was glad to have everyone he trusted inside the room with him: Naoi, Yamamoto, Nobuyuki and Nekoma’s doctor: Yaku. You were your most vulnerable during the strength ceremony.

“Yes.” Kuroo stripped down to his undergarments before lying down in a pit of dirt. He crossed his arms over his chest and closed his eyes while Naoi picked a fresh fruit from it’s stem. Naoi began to crush the fruit, making a fresh juice into a bowl. Everyone gathered around the pit, Sawamura taking a seat near Tetsurou’s head.

“And now, the strength of the Black Cat, shall be gifted back to King Kuroo Tetsurou.” Naoi announced, “Sawamura, please help me.” Sawamura nodded, helping cradle Tetsurou’s head as Naoi funneled the juice into his mouth. “Now, we must bury him quickly.” Sawamura did as he was told, helping completely cover Kuroo’s body in the dirt with the help of fellow Nekomians.

“He’ll be okay, right?”

“Yes, of course. He’s in our ancestor’s hands now.” Kai answered, a small smile on his face. “Past Kings and Queens of Nekoma, we give humbly you Kuroo Tetsurou! Please take care of him, and gift him back to us!” Naoi stated. The dirt inside the pit began to move, which startled Sawamura, but he remained still after glancing at everyone else who were patiently sitting with their heads down.

 

 

When you drank from the neko-fruit, you were usually transported to the spirit realm, but it was always a familiar place and differed from person to person. The first time, Kuroo got to sit with his father’s spirit in the comfort of the Palace’s library. This time, he’s in the throne room, sitting in the massive chair but feeling very small. “Tetsurou?” Nekomata’s voice called out to him, and he turned to see Nekomata walking towards him. “As expected, you look great sitting in that chair.”

“I don’t feel great in it.”

“And why is that?”

“It belongs to you…”

“No! It belongs to us… and all the Kings and Queens before and after us.”

“I’m afraid. What if I’m not good enough?”

“Do you know what made me such a great king?”

“You’re a natural leader, and wise, humble. Compassionate.”

“Who says you’re not all those things too?” Nekomata questioned, a smirk on his face, “Tetsurou, you cannot be the king I was, because you are not the man that I was. You are your own individual, we’ve experienced similar things, but we’ve also had different struggles. You get to decide the kind of king you shall be.”

“Sawamura said something similar to me…”

“Because that’s what his grandfather told him, and believe it or not… Ukai was my best friend. I miss that old crow bastard... but he will join me soon enough… or I’ll continue to haunt him until he does!” That made Tetsurou chuckle. “Don’t worry about impressing me or making me proud. I always have and always will be proud of the man you have become. You are the King that Nekoma needs… and you’re the Kuroneko.”

“All the Kings inherit the power of the black cat.”

“That is true, but you’re special Tetsurou. You have been chosen by the God himself. You have been given the name Kuroo, because it was written in the stars to be so. You are the glue that will keep Nekoma together. I’m honored that they allowed me to have a part in helping you see that.”

“I miss you.” Tetsurou admitted.

“And I miss you…but it was my time. There… were some moments in my rule that I was not so proud of, but there were plenty that made it worth it. Look at what Nekoma has to offer to the world! Our knowledge, our technology and our experiences are all unique. You are the catalyst to make change and begin to show everyone what we are made of! Do it your own way, not how you think I would have.”

“I understand.”

Nekomata took a step forward, engulfing Tetsurou into a hug, “All hail King Kuroo. Nekoma forever.”

 

Tetsurou sat up abruptly, gasping for breath as his soul returned to Earth. He looked around seeing all the familiar faces, Naoi, Yamamoto, Nobuyuki, Yaku and Sawamura. “How are you feeling, My King?” Naoi asked, Tetsurou’s eyes snapping to him. He could feel that familiar surge of power rushing through his veins, he could feel the Kuroneko’s  blood mix with his own, they becoming one. This was only the beginning.

 

Chapter Text

“Kenma! Have you eaten? Probably not, huh?” Tetsurou asked as soon as he and Sawamura entered Kenma’s laboratory/sacred place. The younger boy, Kuroo’s brother, enjoyed being by himself, playing games from other countries and using Nekoma’s expansive supply of vibranium to invent and perfect technology. Tetsurou worried about him quite often, afraid that Kenma would lock himself in the room and never socialize.

 

He was partly correct. Kenma found friends in Yamamoto and Fukunaga, but that was mainly because they were his appointed guards, after a failed attempt to run away from home back when they were kids. But even then Kenma preferred being left alone for majority of the day. Tetsurou was used to getting up and dragging Kenma out of bed or out of the lab to do something fun, but now he would be a little too busy to do that. It also slightly bothered Tetsurou that Kenma did not even attempt coming to the cliffs, though he knew there had to be a good reason.

 

“I’ve been working on something,” Kenma admitted from where he was seated in the room, an oversized hoodie swallowing his form, “Sawamura-san showed concern about the safety of your suit.”

“No, I didn’t.” Sawamura quickly defended, “Yamamoto did.”

“Right…” Kenma stated, “I took it upon myself to redesign it.” Kenma got up from where he was seated and entered a code on a pin pad attached to the wall. A small compartment hidden in the wall opened up and he grabbed the black suit that was inside it. “I lined it with vibranium… so it can withstand more punches without injuring you. The vibranium will absorb the impact and if hit in the same spot, it will expel that same energy.”

“Sounds cool enough! Shall we test it out?”

“Let’s put it on a mannequin.” Kenma suggested.

 

Kenma pulled a mannequin out from one of his storage closets and slipped Kuroo’s suit onto it. “Now what?” Tetsurou asked.

“Kick it.” Kenma suggested and Tetsurou sent a wink in Sawamura’s direction before turning 360, kicking his leg out and landing a nice hit against the mannequin’s abdomen, sending it flying across the room. “Not that hard, Kuro!”

“You told me to kick it.”

“Yes, kick, not destroy half my lab with it.”

“So now what?”

“Kick it again… in the exact same spot.” Kenma requested, sharing a smirk with Sawamura. Tetsurou was a little wary yet did as he was told, but this time, he was the one sent flying, bringing Sawamura and Kenma into a fit of giggles.

“Laugh it up, assholes.” He complained gathering himself off the floor. “That was pretty impressive, Kenma.”

“I’m surprised it worked that well.”

“Ha, ha.” Tetsurou laughed dryly.

“Uhm…Kuro?”

“What is it?”

“How are you holding up? I know Nekomata’s passing was hard on you… and now you’re King…” Kenma was avoiding eye contact, ducking his head so he could hide behind his long hair.

“Well—”

“I’m going to give you two a moment alone. I have to go over the menu with Inuoka anyway.” Sawamura excused himself, taking the cue that maybe Kenma wanted this to be a more private conversation. Kenma reached into his hoodie pocket, pulling out one of his many gaming systems, and he began to fiddle with it.

“I’m doing okay, Kenma. I… just spoke to Nekomata, in the spirit world, and he reassured me a bit that I won’t screw this up.”

“You were always fit to be King… that’s why Nekomata spent so much time working with you.”

“Thanks, Kenma, that means a lot to me.” This wasn’t very like them. They had a more unspoken way of communicating, and they barely breeched the subject of feelings. However, with the whirlwind that Tetsurou was trapped in, and Kenma’s observant skills, this is exactly what they both needed, which was to just say what was on their minds, and remind each other how much they meant to the other.

 

Tetsurou always worried that something bad would happen, and there would be no one to take care of Kenma, even if Kenma is independent and can take care of himself. It’s something Tetsurou always struggled with, because he still sees Kenma as the fragile baby brother that he had to persaude to play with him, and read bedtimes stories to. Now that he was King, he promised to do everything in his power to protect Kenma, to protect his people, and help his country thrive.

 

He sat around with Kenma in the lab for two full hours, asking the occasional question or two, but otherwise staying quiet and just gracing Kenma with his presence. It was comforting, and familiar, and he wanted to cherish these moments while he still could share them with Kenma.

 

 

 

 

Tetsurou was slightly nervous about the ceremony dinner, so he was glad to have Sawamura on his arm. It was different now, passing his people and having them bow their heads in respect for him. Part of himself, wanted to tell them that it was unnecessary, but he also had to remind himself that this was his new life. He was now King of Nekoma. “I’ve never been escorted to a party by a King,” Sawamura teased, catching Tetsurou's attention and trying to lighten up the mood and ease his tension. It was working.  

“That makes two of us.”

“Why are you so nervous? You’ve won fair and square… everyone witnessed the outcome we’ve all wanted. The outcome Nekomata wanted too.”

“I just want to make him proud…this all is happening so fast.”

“I know… it’s hard to accept his passing, but it wasn’t your fault. It was his time and now it’s your time to pass on what you’ve learned.”

“I’m experiencing this weird sense of déjà vu. First, you remind me that I get to choose the type of King I want to be, and then Nekomata said the same thing. Then Nekoma mentioned how I’m the catalyst, and I have to show everyone what Nekoma has to offer, and you are essentially saying the same thing… did old man Ukai tell you that too?”

“Of course he did. In fact, he actually hoped that when I became of age, I would challenge you for the crown, win and then a crow could finally take the throne. I kinda cheated my way in by marrying into the throne, but I’m sure he can settle for that much.”

“I feel bad that I haven’t met him long enough to have a deep conversation with him.”

“You’ll have time to, he’s not going to croak anytime soon… trust me.”

“Nekomata told me that they were best friends…”

“The old man used to constantly trash talk Nekomata, but they really brought the best out of his each other. He used to always tell me stories from when they fought in one of the wars together, side by side. He was hit in the leg once, it was pretty bad, partly why he has to use a cane now, and he begged for Nekomata to just leave him to die from infection and continue fighting, because he was obviously not strong enough. He told me he cried, thinking that the crow spirit would be disappointed… but then he said Nekomata told him ‘get up, you punk,’ and promised not to leave him behind.”

“Nekomata mentioned how there were plenty of moments that made his rule worth it… and I’m starting to wonder how many of those moments included Ukai.”

“He still weeps for him, you know? We all do, really. You’re not alone in your grief, Kuroo.”

“I’m getting soft, Sa'amura. I’ve talked about my feelings all day, it’s exhausting.”

Sawamura chuckled, “Good thing we’re here to have fun.”

 

And fun they did have. Tetsurou was glad to have such immense support from his fellow Nekomians, and the lords of other villages. He made sure to speak with Ushijima, thanking him again for the challenge and good sportsmanship, while also briefly mentioning how he wouldn’t mind talking about setting up a program to allow Shiratorizawa access to Nekoma’s supplies and training equipment for their armies. Tetsurou shared a drink with Kita and Moniwa, played a quick game on his phone with Bokuto, and had a dance Oikawa. The night was overall great, and Tetsurou was exhausted by the end of it. He escorted Sawamura to his room, sneaking a few goodnight kisses in before bidding him farewell and retiring to his own bedroom, passing out once his head hit the pillows.

 

 

 

 

The next morning, while Tetsurou was attempting to enjoy his breakfast, Naoi entered the dining hall, bending over in a bow once Tetsurou acknowledged his presence. “My King, it is time to start fulfilling your duties.”

“I haven’t even finished my breakfast, Naoi-san. Can’t it wait?”

“I’m afraid not. Now that you are king…there are some issues you must handle.” Naoi began, “Do you remember the Nohebi tribe?”

“Nohebi?” Tetsurou took a sip of his tea, trying to think of where he heard that name before, “They were wiped from existence during the war…”

“Actually, they were not.” Naoi grimaced, “It is time you learn the truth… Nekomata has been hiding a few details from you... and all of Nekoma…”

 

 

 

“Are you okay?” Sawamura questioned that night as they walked to the dining hall together. Tetsurou had been busy all morning and afternoon, listening to Naoi tell him about all the things he knew and didn’t know about their country.

“I don’t know…” Tetsurou answered, not sure how to feel right now. It was a constant influx of information, with no time to process or sort it. It just fell onto his lap like a ton of bricks, all at once, all on his first day as Nekoma’s King.

“What do you mean?” Sawamura questioned, grabbing Tetsurou by the arm, and forcing him to halt.

Tetsurou turned towards Sawamura, a frown upon his face, “All this time… I’ve been lied to.”

“By who?”

“The late king. He was causing people to suffer. They still are suffering! I thought Nohebi was exterminated by an enemy, but we’re the enemy. Nekomata has been lessening their rations and supplies to the point that they earn no aid from us. He’s holding a grudge against the entire village over one Lord’s mistakes. Mistakes that Lord paid for in the form of his life, by the hands of my own father. Nohebi soldiers attacked my father in retaliation, thinking that he was the enemy… and they weren’t exactly wrong.”

“You are King now, you can make this right.” Sawamura informed, but Tetsurou shook his head in disbelief.

“I don’t know if I can do enough to repay them for years of being outcast, but I do want to pay a visit to Nohebi. They’re probably out of touch, they deserve to know who their new king is. I owe them that, and an apology.”

“I’ll go with you. We can spend all tomorrow amongst them.” Sawamura reassured, lifting his hand to cup Tetsurou’s cheek tenderly, making the King smile fondly.

“That sounds great. Thank you, Daichi.”

“We can tell Naoi our plans during dinner. You’ve had quite the first day, huh?”

“It really did my head in. I hope we’re having mackerel for dinner. I could use a pick-me-up.”

 

 

 

The ride to Nohebi was spent in silence, but Tetsurou was beyond thankful towards Sawamura, Yamamoto and Nobuyuki for coming along as support. Naoi could be there also, not physically, but in holographic form thanks to technology invented by Kenma. Tetsurou just needed to push a few buttons on his watch, and Naoi would be there via some live stream. Tetsurou had no real plans on using the device to contact Naoi, but it was comforting that he would be prepared to answer at any given moment. “What are the first orders, my King?” Yamamoto asked as they neared the outskirts of Nohebi’s territory. The entrance into Nohebi was hidden behind thick bushes, and none of the Nekomian’s were sure what they would find beyond the wall of green. Tetsurou was determined to find out, however.

“We mingle, and ask questions. I want to know how the people feel, how they are handling everything and how they think we can help.” Tetsurou explained, “I think we should split up.”

“I’m not sure if that would be a great idea, yes, we are here to support you, but it is also my duty to protect you.” Yamamoto reminded.

“It will be fine, Yamamoto. Go with Nobuyuki and head east, Sawamura and I will head west. We meet back here, outside the borders, in an hour and review our progress and findings.”

“Your highness? Please… if you feel like you are in any form of danger, use your strength.”

“I’m not unleashing the power of the Kuroneko on my people, Yamamoto. I refuse to.”

“Nohebi is not out 'people', I don't trust them as far as I can throw them, and if anything bad happens to you--”

“Nothing will. You have your orders, Yamamoto-san, and I not asking you nicely, because I expect you to follow them.” Tetsurou reprimanded, Yamamoto giving up the fight and nodding in acceptance.

"I do apologize, my King."

"You are dismissed."

 

 

Tetsurou feels on the edge for sure. He's not entirely positive what he was expecting to see when they arrived within the Nohebi borders, nor did he really know how the people of Nohebi would even receive him. He was a little sorry that he had spoke to Yamamoto in such a way, but he was now the King, meaning his decisions needed to be carried through. Even if he disagreed with Nekomata's decisions, he never outright said anything about it to his face, preferring to keep silent and keep the peace. He hoped Yamamoto and his friendship wouldn't suffer at a time like this. Tetsurou was new at ruling, and he needed his friends more than anything, but it also was not the time for them to question his motives.

He walked with Sawamura for about five minutes, looking around the village and surprised with what they found. Nohebi was thriving, bustling with people in fashionable clothes, using fancy technology, driving flashy cars. “It appears like Nohebi is better off than we assumed.” Sawamura stated, trying to make some type of conversation to ease the tension that was starting to form in the air.

“It’s as if nothing ever happened to them… it was like this before the war. The people were always lively, and Nohebi was always well off financially. I don’t understand how they managed to keep it up without aid from us.” Tetsurou explained, remembering brief stories from his father about Nohebi as a kid. 

“What about trade systems? Hidden funds? There has to be answers somewhere.”

“Prince Kuroo? What brings you here?” Tetsurou turned to the voice speaking to him, grabbing Sawamura by the hand to halt his steps.

“M-Mika?” He's definitely surprised that he ran into her. Tetsurou has known Yamaka Mika since childhood, and has since lost touch with her when the war began.

“You don’t belong here.” Mika stated. 

“Mika-chan, look—”

“Don't call me that! Your beloved King abandoned us! He’s made it very clear that Nohebi is unwanted in his circles, so why are you here?”

“Because there are some changes… I’m now King. Nekomata has passed, and I have won the title as King in a fair challenge. I had no idea that you, that Nohebi, all were outcast by him. I want to make it right.”

“You? Make things right? There’s nothing to make right! Look around you, Nohebi is fine without help from Nekoma.”

“But how? What has been going on? Yamaka-san, I have a lot of questions.”

“Take your questions and leave!” Yamaka stated.

"We come in peace, Yamaka-san." Sawamura tried to assure, but that only seemed to anger her more.

“Citizens of Nohebi!” Yamaka called out, gathering attention from everyone around them. “I’ve just received news that King Nekomata is deceased!” The shouts and cries from the crowd angered Tetsurou. Nohebi was glad to see his grandfather fall, and it wasn’t fair. Everyone makes mistakes, and the way Nekomata dealt with Nohebi was a mistake, a solution fueled by the grief of a lost son, which led to the suffering of their friends. Nohebi was no longer suffering, but they were also no longer friends of Nekoma. In fact... did Nohebi ever suffer from this misfortune? Or was Nekoma the butt of some joke?

“Behold their new ruler, King Kuroo!” Yamaka continued, “He thinks he can waltz into Nohebi territory, say he’s sorry and have us crawling back to them. Laughable right?” The crowds started to laugh with Yamaka, and Tetsurou knew this was going to end badly. He reached towards Sawamura, stepping out to shield him. 

"Yamaka..."

"And let's not forget King Kuroo's precious consort Sawamura, also known as Karasuno's bastard child that weaseled his way into royalty."

"Don't speak of him that way!" Tetsurou demanded.

"It's okay, Kuroo." Sawamura tried to relax him, and it made Yamaka chuckle.

"Yeah... it's okay, Kuroo. In fact, let’s all give Kuroo a warm Nohebi welcome! Shall we?" 

 

Nohebi’s version of a warm welcome wasn’t very warm at all. People threw produce, yelled nasty words, spit at him and Sawamura. Tetsurou was outraged, but he refused to let it show, instead, he kept his head held high. “Come on, Sawamura. It is obvious that we are not welcomed here, and it would be best for us to take our leave.”

“But… aren’t you going to try and reach out to them?” Sawamura whispered, and Tetsurou shook his head. 

“They do not want my help, nor does it seem like they need it. If I’m going to carry the title as King, I will have to learn how to fight my battles. I have lost this one before it began, and I must accept that outcome.” Tetsurou stated with finality, “Let’s go. I’m calling Yamamoto and Nobuyuki to meet us at the gates.” Sawamura followed, dutifully, though he wanted to prod more and more. Why did Tetsurou give up so easily?, he had wondered. But out of respect for Tetsurou, and the Kingdom, Sawamura kept his mouth shut.  

 

 

The ride back to Nekoma was silent. No one really knew what to say, and Tetsurou was quiet as well, his mind replaying the events. Nohebi ridiculed him… hated his grandfather, insulted Sawamura, preferred to be on their own. He really thought he would be able to bring some closure to this, to treat them right and be forgiven for his grandfather’s mistakes. He was so very wrong. But, like he told Sawamura, if he loss the battle before it began, so be it.

 

“My king!” Tetsurou was shocked out of his thoughts by the call from Naoi. He looked down at his watch, seeing a tiny holographic Naoi project itself into the air.

“What is it?”

“There is someone here demanding he speak with you.”

“I’m on my way back, please tell him to be patient and treat him to some food.”

“It’s Daishou, sire.”

“I am on my way, Naoi-san.” Tetsurou reiterated, trying to stomp out the annoyance that was threatening to choke him at the mention of that snake.

 

Daishou was never a name Tetsurou was happy to hear come up. They were rivals as children, their fathers always sparring against each other, Tetsurou’s always winning, and Daishou’s would claim that he was cheating, claiming Tetsurou's father was using the strength the black cat gave him besides his own. It was always a false accusation, one Tetsurou’s father took seriously. Tetsurou had no clue why Daishou suddenly would want to make an appearance, or yet alone speak to him.

 

 

Once they arrived back in Nekoma, Tetsurou was immediately escorted to the dining hall by Fukunaga, dismissing Yamamoto and Nobuyuki. He tried to dismiss Sawamura as well, but he insisited on going with him. Entering the dining hall, and seeing Daishou Suguru sit at the head of the table, sipping wine like he owned the damn place, had Tetsurou momentarily see red. He clinched his fists, blunt nails digging into his palms, “What brings you here?”

“A little birdie told me about Nekomata’s death… I’ve been away and halted my travels to come and see myself. What a lovely grave. What a lovely chair…”

“Have you no respect?”

“I have plenty of respect, Kuroo-san. Just none for your slain King.”

“Watch your tongue in my presence.” Tetsurou spit out.

“Do you know, Kuroo-san—”

“It’s King Kuroo.” Sawamura correcterd.

Kuroo-san, did you know the moment Nekomata claimed that my father betrayed the Kingdom by selling vibranium to some Europeans, our entirely family was immediately outcast, mistreated, and exiled. Nekomata didn’t even give my father a chance to explain his motives before he was slain by the hands of your own father.”

“Nohebi guards then killed my father in retaliation!”

“An eye for an eye.” Daishou stated, “But your precious grandfather made it worse by punishing my entire village. That wasn’t very nice of him, now was it?”

“What do you want? What is your point?”

“I’ve come to collect my apology.”

“I owe you nothing.”

“That’s where you’re incredibly wrong, Kuroo-san. Look, I come baring gifts.” Daishou smirked, Tetsurou’s skin crawling at the sight. “Here…” Daishou hefted a box from the ground and onto the table. “It’s the head of the actual vibranium mole.”

“Why am I supposed to believe you? This can be anyone from the streets.”

“Because… karma is a bitch, and you know that you owe me a hell of a lot. Your grandfather isn’t here to right his wrongs, your father isn't here to right his wrongs, but you are, and you’ll do it for the both of them.”

What do you want, Daishou?” Tetsurou repeated.

“I missed the challenge to become King due to this little side quest. Therefore, I, Daishou Suguru of Nohebi village, hereby challenge crown Prince Kuroo Tetsurou for the title: King of Nekoma.”

“You’re too late—” Sawamura started to inform, but Tetsurou reached out to stop him. Tradition states that Tetsurou must honor the challenge.

“I accept your challenge.”

 

 

Tetsurou was far from thrilled about this turn of events. He also felt horrible that his people had to pretty much drop everything and make their way for the cliffs that evening to witness the challenge. Tetsurou wanted to believe that the odds were in his favor, that his karma was good enough to have him keep the title, but this Daishou was pretty much a stranger. Tetsurou had no idea what Daishou was capable of, and it pains him that he has to go into a challenge so blindly. Naoi, full of regret, began his speech. “People of Nekoma, though Nohebi has not participated in many of our gatherings over the years, even if they were exiled by our late King, they are still a part of Nekoma as much as you and I. Their lord, Daishou Suguru, has challenged King Kuroo Tetsurou for the throne, and it is tradition to accept the challenge.” Naoi then turned to Tetsurou. Fukunaga came over, handing Naoi a mortar and pestle. “And now, I will strip the strength of the black cat away from this man.” He helped Tetsurou drink from the bowl, “I’m so sorry it has come to this… let the challenge begin!”

 

 

 

This challenge was definitely different from the previous one. Tetsurou was a lot more nervous, a lot more was riding on this than previously. If he would have lost to Ushijima, it would have been fair, and the kingdom would have fell into great hands. This time, it’s different. Tetsurou cannot fail. He cannot allow the kingdom to fall within the grasp of Daishou, even if Daishou claims that his father was innocent and therefore killed unjustly. Daishou did not care for the wellbeing of Nekoma, he only cared about his vengeance. Tetsurou had a legacy to protect, a kingdom to protect, a grandfather to make proud. 

 

 

 

“Just like old times, huh?” Daishou questioned as they started to circle each other, like a predator would stalk its prey. “The cats versus snakes, two natural enemies. Both quick, stealthy… viscous.” Daishou smirked, his tongue poking out the corner of his mouth. He lunged forward, but Tetsurou saw it coming, quickly ducking, swinging his feet and knocking Daishou to the ground. Daishou laughed, quickly standing back up. “Do that again, and you’ll anger me. You don’t want to see me when I’m angry.” Instead of dignifying that with a response, Tetsurou lunged forward himself, performing a series of kicks, and punches, trying to throw Daishou off balance.

 

Daishou was a lot better at fighting than Tetsurou remembered, dodging with ease, taking Tetsurou’s hits and delivering ones that hurt. However… it hurt a little too much. Tetsurou didn’t understand how Daishou’s punches could pack so much strength. It had been years since he last sparred with Daishou, and there's no doubt that Daishou has grown since then, his hits more powerful, but these were almost too powerful. As if there was something else helping him? It was forbidden to use spirtual aid in a challenge, which is why Tetsurou always had to have the power of the black cat stripped away from him. The black cat was the only spirit that they worshiped that gifted their rulers strength, so Tetsurou doesn't know where Daishou could be getting help from.

 

Tetsurou stood tall, his arms in stance, ready to ward off whatever Daishou would throw at him. “Your grandfather was a disgrace! Your father was a murderer! Vibranium is a gift to Nekoma, one that should be shared with the world! However, because someone unleashed it’s secret before Nekomata could, he concocted a plan! He framed my father! Nohebi is on the outskirts of Nekoma… it would be easier to cast us aside, and that's exactly what Nekomata did.”

“You talk too much!” Tetsurou was getting annoyed now, throwing fast punches and landing a good one against Daishou’s face, his nose bleeding immediately.

“All of Nekoma must know what monsters they have placed on pedestals and worship!” Daishou argued. “All of Nekoma must know that your father killed mine over something as dumb as vibranium, something we have abundance of, and now you must repent for their sins!” Daishou launched his own punch, hitting Tetsurou right across the jaw, forcing Tetsurou staggering back and falling to the ground. He doesn’t understand, there has to be more to this…

“Wait!” Naoi called out, causing all attention to shift towards him. “If these are your reasons, you are going amongst them the wrong way! I am also to blame for the death of your father.”

“Naoi, stay out of this.” Tetsurou demanded.

“No! I was there! I was the one who stabbed Lord Daishou… Lord Kuroo had nothing to do with it.” Naoi explained. Tetsurou was shocked at this sudden confession, but his focus remained on Daishou, who’s eyes seemed to glow yellow in the setting sun.

“Then you shall repent as well!” Daishou’s hand shot out, two fingers piercing into Naoi’s stomach, and causing the older gentleman to fall over in pain.

“Naoi!” Tetsurou called out in disbelief. He charged towards Daishou, throwing mindless punches and kicks though he could barely see through his tears.

 

There had to be something off about Daishou, had to be something aiding him in this fight, but Tetsurou could not figure out what it was. No matter how many punches he threw, Daishou found a way to evade them or maneuver his body to lessen the blow. Then, Daishou would retaliate and the hits were so powerful, Tetsurou was quickly losing steam. “Is this your King?” Daishou questioned, giving Tetsurou one more punch to the face, Tetsurou’s lip now gushing blood, “The one that is supposed to protect you? If Nekomata, your beloved late King, couldn’t protect the people of Nohebi, what makes you think his successor can?” Daishou reached out, grabbing hold of Tetsurou by the neck, his grip definitely cutting off airflow, and Tetsurou was fighting not to pass out, his body fatigued and quickly shutting down on him. “If only your precious Nekomata could see you now.” Daishou whispered to him, pushing forward so that Tetsurou would back his way closer to the cliff’s edge, he could hear the collective gasp from the people, and Tetsurou glanced over at Nekoma with watery eyes.

 

Kenma, who was surprisingly there, refused to look at him, while Nobuyuki was holding back Yaku, and Yamamoto was crying. Naoi was still on the ground, hunched over in agony. Tetsurou’s eyes then drifted to Sawamura, who was standing amongst Karasuno, his heart breaking immediately. This wasn’t supposed to happen. He tried to hit Daishou, to somehow break free from his chokehold, but his sight was starting to fail him. Tetsurou reached out a hand towards Sawamura’s person, quickly looking away before he could see Sawamura’s reaction. “…If Nekomata would have never outcast my people, then he would have known… we have our own key to strength. You have your black cat… we have our precious cobra…” It all made sense. The reason why Daishou was so strong…  he did have his own supernatural strength aiding him. Strength that Tetsurou had stripped away, leaving him weaker and more vunerable. Strength Daishou would have had stripped away, if everyone had known he even possessed it. “Long live the King, right?” Daishou laughed, two fingers jutting into Tetsurou’s abdomen, just like he did to Naoi… Tetsurou had never felt such immense pain, almost like he was just bitten by the most venomous snake, his blood burning hot within his veins. Daishou pushed Tetsurou back, closer and closer to the cliff’s edge, his hand tightening around Tetsurou’s neck for a second. “Karma came for you…” Daishou pushed Tetsurou off the cliff, and Tetsurou could hear the crowd’s cry of despair as he began to free fall. He failed his duty to the throne. He failed to protect his Kingdom. He failed to protect his legacy. Nekomata will be disappointed in him. He failed…  

 

 

With Naoi down, and rendered speechless, his duty fell upon Fukunaga. Though Fukunaga was his young and inexperienced, he had been training to be Naoi’s successor as the King’s adviser for years. Kuroo’s defeat shocked them all, but he had a duty to the kingdom that he must fulfill. “I present to you… the new King of Nekoma, Daishou Suguru.” Fukunaga announced, a grim expression on his face as Daishou smiled and bowed to the people who were still in shock from Kuroo’s defeat. “My King…” Fukunaga kneeled down before Daishou.

“First things first, the kingdom will immediately be renamed after my village, Nohebi, and my people will no long suffer such harsh treatment.” Daishou announced, “Now you all may kneel.” With hesitation, the rest of the Kingdom began to kneel, paying their respects to their new King, all except for Sawamura. Daishou grinned, snaking his way over to where Karasuno were situated.

“Sawamura-san~ you must bow to your new King.” Daishou stated sweetly. Instead, Sawamura stood straighter, looking Daishou directly into the eyes.

“No.”

“Excuse me? Lord Sawamura, fiancé to the now defeated and presumably dead Prince Kuroo… I command you to bow to me.” Daishou’s voice boomed, echoing off the walls of the cliff and surrounding area, but Sawamura did not even flinch.

“You are no King, but you are a snake… and I refuse to bow to you.”

Ah, wrong answer.” Daishou pouted, raising his hand and placing a hard smack against Sawamura’s cheek, “People of this Kingdom, behold! We have our first insubordinate! Now, that I am King, we will do things a bit different. Sawamura’s lack of respect has now landed him a jail sentencing.” Daishou gripped Sawamura by his clothing, throwing him to the ground, his foot coming up to pin Daichi down. “Will someone so kindly escort Sawamura-san to the nearest dungeon?”

 

Chapter Text

“King Daishou… do you not believe you are being too harsh? Sawamura has just witnessed the death of his fiancé, he is not in his right mind. Please, allow us to take him home.” Ukai Keishin tried to argue, holding on tightly to his husband Takeda Ittetsu’s hand.

Daishou laughed, “Lord Ukai, your ‘son’ is now an enemy to my kingdom, he shall be dealt with accordingly. Please say your goodbyes. Guards?~ Please get this traitor from under my feet and out of my sight.” Regretfully, Yamamoto quickly shuffled over, grabbing Sawamura by the arms and helping him to his feet before carrying him off.

“We’re sorry, Sawamura-san…” Yamamoto whispered.

“Let this be a lesson to everyone! We will not tolerate disrespect in the Nohebi Kingdom! Now, everyone to your villages where you will wait for further instruction! I will retire to my new palace and get acquainted with my living quarters.” Daishou announced, “Fukunaga, come with me.”

“King Daishou?” Keishin called out, not giving up, “I ask that you allow my family a few moments with Sawamura.”

“Ahh… you see, Lord Ukai…. I’d love to do that, but I’ve just created a new law. Only blood relatives shall be allowed visiting privileges to prisoners… and seeing as you aren’t Sawamura’s biological father… I’m going to just say no. Safe travels.”

“How dare you--” Keishin began, outraged, but Takeda held him back.

“Lord Ukai, I expect you to set an example for your village. If you talk back to me, there will be consequences. I don’t want to have to punish all of Karasuno, you’re not my enemy.” Daishou began, “Now… out of my sight.”

 

 

Together with his new advisor, Daishou began to walk the palace halls, “Fukunaga, now that I am King… I must eat the sacred fruit and gain the strength of the Black Cat, correct?”

“Technically yes, although since your origins are from Nohebi, and the Kingdom is now named after Nohebi, I would assume you will gain strength from the Great Snake.” Fukunaga explained, “The power has mostly been under native Nekomians, so the Black Cat has always been our protector. We can only assume until we observe your abilities afterward.”

“You know the story of the Great Cobra, huh? I guess they did teach you a thing or two in school, or Naoi-san knew a lot more than he lead on. Well, it doesn't matter too much, a lot of things are going to change, Fukunaga-kun.” Daishou shared, “For example, I’m not going to bother eating one of the sacred fruits because I already possess the power of the Great Cobra. However, I do want you to burn the entire supply.”

Burn it? But your grace, it is a tradition--”

“It’s a Nekomian tradition, and I stopped practicing the Nekoma Kingdom’s traditions the minute Nekomata exiled my village. Face it, Fukunaga. Your precious chosen heir is dead, the Kingdom no longer lies within the hands of a native Nekomian… it lies in Nohebi’s hands, so we will rule the Nohebi way. Burn the fruits. End of discussion.” Daishou smiled, patting Fukunaga on the cheek. “I expect orders to be followed within the next three hours.”

“I… will relay the message.”

“Very well then… carry on to your duties.”

 

 

Fukunaga swiftly made his way to Yamamoto’s quarters, knocking once before opening the door and letting himself inside. “Shouhei? What brings you here?” Yamamoto asked from where he was seated on his bed. Fukunaga’s eyes quickly swept the room, stopping on Kenma, who was curled up on a daybed near the window, eyes focused on a hand held gaming system. “Don’t mind him, he’s thinking.” Yamamoto said, noticing Fukunaga’s gaze.

“Daishou wants to destroy all the Neko fruits.”

“What do you mean?”

“He wants the entire supply to burn… within the next three hours.”

“He can’t do that!”

“He can, he is King now.”

“Kuroo would never allow this.” Yamamoto complained.

“King Kuroo is dead.”

“No, he’s not.” Kenma argued, surprising both Yamamoto and Fukunaga. “Nekomata always told me that Kuroo was special, that he was the true Kuroneko. He’s not dead, he can’t be.”

“Kenma, the Kuroneko, is a story we were told of as kids. This is reality.” Fukunaga frowned, “Even if the Kuroneko was real, and his spirit was planted in someone, we can’t be sure that it was Kuroo. Even if it was actually planted in Kuroo, we can’t just assume he lived through a fall that high.”

“I believe that he’s still alive.” Kenma shared, “And I’m sure Sawamura does too. The Kuroneko is Nekoma’s protector… he wouldn’t abandon us.”

“Kenma… you’re grieving. It’s understandable, we all are… but Daishou is now our King, and as his advisor, I must do my duty to our country and obey his orders. I’m sorry… I have to burn the fruits.”

“Can you save one? Just for me?” Kenma questioned. “The plant dies if it’s not consumed within a couple of hours anyway… it’s not like it’ll do anything.”

“Fine… I’ll pick one and save if for you. I’ll put it in your room within the next hour.” Fukunaga promised, “I have to return to my duties now. I just wanted to tell you all the plans. A lot of things are changing around here… and I’m the one who has to facilitate that change. Just because I’m doing something doesn’t mean I’m turning my back on Nekoma, but I must do what he tells me to.”

“We understand, Shouhei. We don’t think you’re a traitor.” Yamamoto shared, giving Fukunaga a small, hopeful smile.

“Then why do I feel like one?”

 

 

Upon Sawamura’s arrest, his valet Sugawara, along with any other accompanying Karasuno members, were sentenced to return to their home village. The idea did not sit well with Sugawara, and he wanted to be allowed to at least say goodbye to his friend. Daishou disapproved of the idea, but Sugawara was determined to see Sawamura one last time. As day began to slowly fade to night, Sugawara snuck his way into the dungeons.

 

 

Sawamura was in the cell furthest from the entrance, and Sugawara wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not. He quietly made his way over to his friend, the darkness of the dungeons making it easy for him to do so. “Daichi?” he whispered, coming up to the cell and peering inside. Sawamura was sitting on the ground, his back against the wall and his head in his hands. Sugawara hated seeing him like this, “Are you okay?”

“I’m in a dungeon, Suga. I’m just peachy.”

“What were you thinking? Mouthing off like that to Daishou? You’re so lucky he didn't do anything worse to you!”

“What are you talking about? He did do something worse! He took Kuroo away from us.”

“I… I know Kuroo meant a lot to you, and I know it’s all really fresh and hurts a lot, but it’s not the end of the world. You’re stuck in a prison! Maybe I can convince Daishou to release you… and you can come back to Karasuno with us.”

“Come back to Karasuno?”

“Yes… we’re no longer welcomed here… especially since Karasuno isn’t merging with Nekoma…you know, since you’re not marrying Kuroo… and your father had a slight outburst, one that Daishou didn't take well.”

“I’m not leaving.”

“Daichi…”

“I’m. Not. Leaving.” Sawamura emphasized.

“Why are you doing this, Daichi? Just accept the outcome and return to your family.”

“I can’t do that.”

“And why not?” Sugawara frowned.

“Because I have a family here too! Kuroo, and Kenma, Yamamoto… Yaku… Kai! Bokuto is the Lord of Fukurodani, but he’s family too! I belong here! I’ve spent the past year preparing for a wedding, learning Nekoma’s traditions, learning the history of all the rulers before us, learning the story of the Kuroneko… and I believe in it all, okay? I believe in the Kuroneko. I believe that we’ll get through this. I believe in him …. and I know he’ll come back to me. I believe in the King that Kuroo Tetsurou, my future husband… can and will be. I love him, Suga, and I’m not giving up on that love.” Sawamura admitted, tears silently rolling down his cheeks.

“Daichi…we all saw it… Kuroo’s gone.”

“I know he’s not really gone…” Sawamura bit down on his bottom lip, and Sugawara’s heart broke at the sight of his dear friend trying and failing to hold back the tears. “Do you know how hard it was to psychically stand there and just watch Kuroo lose? How hard it was to not do something? To not stop Daishou? Right before Daishou pushed Kuroo off the cliff, Kuroo looked at me. He looked right at me, and held out a hand to me… and I heard someone, I don’t know who, tell me that it’ll all work out in the end. That this was all just a minor setback, and Kuroo would return to me. I’m not going anywhere until that happens.”

With Sawamura’s mind clearly made up, Sugawara had no choice but to accept this outcome. He didn’t like it one bit, but he accepted it, “I’ll miss you.”

“I’ll miss you too… all of you, but I have to do this for me, and for Nekoma.”

“Is there anything I can do for you before I leave?”

“… I want to see my dad.” Sawamura revealed, “I know it’s not allowed, but I really want to see him.”

“I can try to arrange that.”

 

 

Kenma slowly exited his room, ignoring all the greetings he received from the royal staff, his eyes instead focused on his handheld device, fingers tapping away at the screen, and playing a game mindlessly. He was headed towards the servant’s corner, trying to catch Sugawara before he left the village. It was risky, Kenma could probably easily be stopped and questioned by Daishou, but he had to do this.

 

 

Arriving there, he quickly sought out Sugawara’s room, finding the fair-hair lad packing his bags. “Kenma? What are you doing here?” Sugawara asked.

“You’re leaving for Karasuno soon?”

“Yes… once I finish packing. Why do you ask?”

“I know it’s a bit out of the way…but would you be able to stop by Fukurodani village and deliver something to Akaashi for me?”

“Uh…sure, I guess I can do that.”

“It’s really important… he needs it tonight, the sooner the better.”

“Yes, of course.” Sugawara agreed. Kenma put down his game and sneakily pulled something out of his pockets. It was wrapped tightly in paper, so Sugawara had no clue what it could be. “Is there anything else you need from me, Kenma?”

“No…thank you. It was nice having you here, in Nekoma. I’m sure Kuroo would agree.”

“Yes, it was nice being here.” Sugawara smiled, “Please, take care Kenma.”

“Okay.”

“And… even though Daichi is in a dungeon, please try and take care of him too.”

“Okay.” Kenma agreed, “I should probably go.”

“Be careful.”

 

 

Before Sugawara and all of Karasuno could leave, Sugawara had to sneak Ukai into the dungeon to see Sawamura one last time. It was just as easy as earlier, and Sugawara promised to be on the lookout. “I’ll come fetch you in five minutes.” Sugawara promised before disappearing down the hall, giving father and son alone time.

“Thanks Suga.” Sawamura replied before turning to his father, “I’m sorry.”

“For?”

“Acting out, and ending up here.”

“You don’t have to say sorry.” Keishin replied, reaching out through the cell to grab hold of Daichi’s hand. “Daishou forbid me from visiting you, and I even asked for him to let you go and allow for your return to Karasuno. I don’t know how…but he knows that I’m not your biological father, and he’s using that against us.”

“He can’t do that.”

“Yes, he can.” Keishin shared, sadly, “I wish he couldn’t, but he very well can.” Keishin sighed, “I don’t like seeing you in here, one bit, Daichi, and it breaks my heart to not only see you here, but also to see you hurting. I know Kuroo meant a lot to you, and I’m sorry you had to witness his death. I know it’s not easy.”

“You do?”

“You know, I loved your mother more than anything, and finding out she was expecting a child made me the happiest guy in Karasuno. After finding out about the affair, and how you weren’t my son, I was very upset and angry. The end of your mother’s and I’s relationship was like a death to me. I took it hard, turned to drinking and smoking as coping mechanisms. And then you were born, and she gave me custody because her new husband didn’t want anything to do with you.” Keishin frowned. "They got married you know? Had twins together."

“How come you never gave me your name? I’m a Sawamura…instead of a Ukai. If he wanted nothing to do with me, why do I still have his name?”

“There were so many times where I asked myself the same thing…when I entered a relationship with Ittetsu, he asked me the same thing. I then realized that no matter how angry I was at your mother and how carelessly she threw away our relationship… I couldn't just erase those memories. It was a reminder of what happened and how I grew from it. The Sawamura name is just that, a name, but it was given to you by your mother, prior to her knowledge that her love wanted nothing to do with you. I might have been angry, but I loved her enough to respect that decision. I picked out the name Daichi, I gave it to you, and I use that name. That’s the name that matters to me. Just because you don’t carry the name Ukai, doesn’t make you any less my son. No matter what Daishou says.”

“Thanks dad, I love you, and I'll miss you."

“I love you, Daichi, and I really do hate that you’re in here.” Keishin smiled softly, " I also heard that you feel like Kuroo will come back.”

“He will… I believe it.”

“How come?”

“He’s the Kuroneko.”

“You’ve studied the Kuroneko while you were here? Did you learn about the Great Crow too?”

“No…”

“Each village has their very own protector, though the Kuroneko is the leader, and protects us all. Karasuno, has the Great Crow, Fukurodani has the Great Horned Owl, Shiratorizawa has the Great Eagle and so on.”

“What’s so great about our crow?”

“He’s our protector… he’s said to also be the true companion of the Kuroneko.”

“Companion?”

“They can be friends, allies, lovers… For the longest time, we thought Nekomata and Old Ukai were the Kuroneko and Karasu.”

“Really?”

“Yes, because when they were younger, they started as rivals but there was an undeniable chemistry, and the war helped solidify their relationship and is why Karasuno and Nekoma are in such good relationships. But then…”

“What?”

“What is your earliest memory of Kuroo?”

“When we were thirteen and attended his father’s funeral out of respect for the Nekoma kingdom. We didn’t get to talk then, but I remember seeing him for the first time.”

“Actually, when you were three, we were invited to the palace by Nekomata for Kenma’s birth. You met Kuroo then, and you both hit it off immediately. You wouldn’t stop talking about him on the journey back home. Old man joked that you two were the real reincarnations, but then the war began and threw everything off.”

“I don’t feel very ‘Great Crow’ like.”

“Maybe not now…but soon.” Before Sawamura could question his father more, Sugawara came to warn them that time was not on their side. The two hated to say goodbye to each other, but Keishin had firm belief that they wouldn’t be apart for long.

 

 

As Karasuno made their departure, Sugawara shared with Ukai that they needed to make a quick stop to Fukurodani so he could fulfil his promise to Kenma. Of course the Lord of Karasuno didn’t mind.

 

 

Their meeting was quick, and to the point, Sugawara delivered the miscellaneous gift to Akaashi, and then they were on their way. Akaashi thanked them wholeheartedly, and made his way to Fukurodani’s own palace, towards Bokuto’s quarters.

 

 

Bokuto was Fukurodani’s Lord and leader, and also one of Kuroo’s most treasured friends. He was heartbroken to see his dear friend lose a battle, but he immediately sent his troops on a search party. They were able to retrieve Kuroo’s body, and Bokuto quickly had it sent to his quarters. Akaashi entered, holding the gift from Kenma. “Is that it?”

“Yes… we have to move him quickly. I’m sure we are running low on time.”

“Of course! Do you know how to perform the ritual?”

“Kenma sent me the instructions. We must find a place to bury him.”

“Bury him?? That’s what we’ve been trying to avoid.”

“It’s part of the ritual. We must hurry.”

This was definitely a gamble, Kuroo was barely hanging onto life when they found him, and they’ve been doing their best to preserve him that way as they waited for Kenma’s gift. Bokuto called his guards Konoha and Komi to help them move Kuroo to a more suitable location.

 

 

They lowered Kuroo into a patch of dirt, and Akaashi began to crush the neko fruit into a bowl. “I need you to support his head.” Akaashi shared with Bokuto. “And now, the strength of the Black Cat, shall be gifted back to Kuroo Tetsurou.” Akaashi announced, before funneling the crushed fruit juice into Kuroo’s mouth. “Now, we must bury him. Cover his entire body.” The Fukurodani men began to push the dirt, covering Kuroo’s body completely. “Past Kings and Queens of Nekoma, we humbly give you Kuroo Tetsurou! Please take care of him, and gift him back to us!” Akaashi read, staring down at the dirt. “Now we wait…”

“How will we know if it worked?”

“He’ll pop up from the dirt.”

“And if it doesn’t work?”

“…He won’t pop up from the dirt?”

“How long is it supposed to take?”

“I’m not sure.”

"I hate waiting!" Bokuto wailed.

 

 

When Tetsurou opened his eyes, he was standing in front of Nekomata, like his previous visit, but this time at an altar, it left him confused. “Does this mean I’m dead?”

“No, you aren’t dead.” Nekomata chuckled, opening his palm and beckoning Tetsurou closer.

“Then why am I back in the spirit realm?”

“Your body is weak. I see your challenge has not fared well. You were cheated.”

“It happens.”

“You’re taking this loss quite well. The black cat is deciding whether or not to lend you strength once more." Nekomata began before shrugging it off, "Well, come on, there’s some people I would like for you to meet.”

“I’m not staying here.”

“I’m sorry?”

“I can’t stay here. I won’t allow it.”

“You speak as if it is your choice. It’s not up to, it’s up to the Kuroneko. You’ve been host to them twice, what makes you so sure they will lend you strength again, a third time?”

“I was poisoned near the end. Daishou was using some abilities.”

“It appears that Nohebi has found their own source of strength, and Daishou possesses the power of the Great Cobra. He used it to his advantage to fight against you while you were at your weakest.”

“I cannot rest while he sits on the throne. I must right these wrongs.”

“I have a question for you, Tetsurou.”

“Yes?”

“If Daishou wouldn’t have cheated, and you were to win and keep your title as King, how would you have treated him?”

“I’m not sure how you want me to answer that. Nohebi wants nothing to do with Nekoma, and I agreed to keep the peace. It’s a battle that I’ve lost, and I’ve already accepted that.”

“Do you know why Nohebi refuses to accept you?”

“They feel injustice for their treatment. They have convinced themselves that Nekoma is the enemy. For a village that has prospered from the unfortunate treatment they were given, they are holding quite the grudge.”

“Would you have punished Daishou for attempting to challenge you?”

“No, of course not. I didn’t punish Ushijima, so I wouldn’t punish Daishou, no matter how much I might dislike him. You were the one in the wrong, and I’ve already accepted responsibility for that. We created this monster and I must stop him. I cannot stay here with you. I cannot hide from these mistakes anymore.”

“You don’t think I regret my mistakes?”

“I never said that.” Tetsurou shared, “Look, I have to do what’s right, I never got my fair shot at being King, and I want to go back and give myself that. I want to prove not only to you, our ancestors, and the Kuroneko, but to all of Nekoma, that they made a wise choice in their King, and I did not abandon them in their time of need.”

“I am truly proud of you, Tetsurou. The Kuroneko agrees with you and will once again lend you his strength. You deserve it Kuroo. You’re the true reincarnation, you always have been.”

“How do you know?”

“I knew when your name, Kuroo Tetsurou, came to me in a dream before you were born. I knew when you looked over Kenma so protectively after he was born. I knew when you stepped up and showed immense maturity after your father’s death. I knew when you were given the strength of the black cat and exuded an aura just like the Kuroneko. I know now, because the spirit of the Kuroneko is reflected in your eyes.”

“Really?”

“Did you know the black cat was reincarnated inside me until you were born, and he told me you were special and you were destined for great things. You are the Kuroneko, Tetsurou, the King and Protector for Nekoma. This was a minor setback, a small inconvenience in the bigger picture. You have the well being of Nekoma as your focus, while Daishou only cares about Nohebi. Nekoma is more than just Nekoma--”

“It’s all the territories together.” Tetsurou finished for Nekomata, everything starting to click and connect, “I just have to get Daishou to see that! To understand that. Thank you. You are terribly missed.”

“You are missed more. Take care, my grandson, my King.”

 

 

When Tetsurou sat up, his eyes took in the sight of a startled Akaashi, Konoha and Komi, and then a beaming Bokuto. “Welcome back, my friend.” Bokuto exclaimed, “I can’t believe that actually worked. We seriously thought we lost you.”

“I’m not dead yet, my friend.” Tetsurou teased, extending out a hand to Bokuto who eagerly helped him out the patch of dirt. “What’s going on so far?”

“All of Karasuno has been sent back to their home village, Sawamura is in prison, and Nekoma territory is now called Nohebi.”

“Why is Sawamura in prison?”

“I’ll let him tell you when we bust him out.”

“How’s Kenma?”

“He’s the one that helped us bring you back. I don’t know how, but he somehow managed to smuggle one of the nekofruits to Sugawara, who delivered it before heading to Karasuno.” Akaashi explained, “We are happy to have you back, King Kuroo.”

“Oh, you don’t have to address me under such title. I’m no King right now.” Tetsurou replied, “We need a plan. I can’t just waltz back into the palace and demand a rematch.”  

“I can get you back to the palace and help you release Sawamura. We can come up with a plan then.” Bokuto promised.

 

 

The journey back to the palace was a tough one for Tetsurou, and that was mainly because of the anger plaguing him and threatening to cloud his thoughts. It was similar to what he felt after Nekomata’s death, and how vengeance had consumed him so easily, rushing through his veins with every pump of his heart. He tried to keep his emotions under control, tried to lock them away so not to cloud his head but it was hard. Daishou was wrong for the throne, wrong for Nekoma. He cheated in a tradition that was supposed to be pure and honest. He had thrown his love into jail, and banished a group of people that were always welcomed with open arms. He had to be stopped and Tetsurou wanted nothing more than to be the one who stopped him. He had to remind Daishou of the good Nekoma stemmed from.

 


He was unsure how he would exactly punish Daishou. The challenge is supposed to be over, but Tetsurou also had the right to re-challenge Daishou. However, now that Daishou was King, he also had the right to change the circumstances. Everything was happening so fast, and it was a little overwhelming. Tetsurou really needed to just calm down and think things out rationally.

 



Once within Nekoma village territory, Tetsurou had to be a lot sneakier. He couldn’t risk being seen, and he couldn't risk giving away his arrival before he was ready to deal with Daishou.  Bokuto was able to quickly sneak him in, and to the dungeons, offering to be lookout as Tetsurou searched for the cell Sawamura was in.

 

 

His heart was beating fast, wondering how his love would react, but the need to see Sawamura was more powerful than any nerves or worry. As he neared the final cell, he saw Sawamura resting with his back against the wall, his head in his hands, and Tetsurou frowned, never seeing his fiancé so down. “Daichi?” he whispered out, shocked when a tear-stained face snapped up at the sound of his voice.

“Tetsurou?” Daichi whispered back, slowly making his way towards the bars holding him in. “You’re alive? You’re here?”

“Yes, I’m here.” Tetsurou replied, suddenly feeling a bit choked up, “I’m here.”

“So… did you come to rescue me?”

“Maybe.”

“I don’t suppose you have a key…do you?”

“No, I don’t, but that’s fine. I have something better.” Tetsurou smiled, standing to his full height, “I have my strength.”

“So…what are you doing to do? Break the bars?”

“No, I’m going to break the lock. I might be the kuroneko, but I’m not an animal, Daichi.”

“Just hurry up and get me out of here.”

“Do I get a reward? A kiss perhaps something more?”

“I’m saving myself for marriage, thank you kind sir.” Daichi teased, “So what’s the plan?”

“I don’t have one.”

“You’re setting me free, I’m assuming before you’ve done anything to Daishou… and you don’t have a plan?”

“No… I had priorites.”

“Priorities.”

“Yes, you. you’re my priority.”

“I hate to break up this reunion, but we’re running out of time… hi Sawamura-kun!” Bokuto greeted.

“Hi Bokuto!”

“I’m glad to see that you’re okay, Sawamura! You had us all worried, mouthing off to Daishou like that.”

“Someone had to.” Sawamura stated.

“Bo, do you have a pin or something?”

“Uh… I have this?” Bokuto unclipped a safety pin from his shirt, “I had burst my zipper on the way here when I fell, and Akaashi gave me this.”

“Eh…. It should work.”

“Why do you need a pin if you’re just going to break the lock?”

“For appearances.” Tetsurou explained, sticking the safety in the keyhole before using his hands to break the lock. “See, it looks like I broke the lock with this mere makeshift key, but we know the truth.”

“I’m so glad that’s what makes you feel accomplished.” Sawamura laughed as the cell was finally opened and he was free to escape.

“Now we have to find Kenma and figure out our next step then.”

 

 

Finding Kenma was easy, thanks to Akaashi. He had sent a message to Kenma once Bokuto and Kuroo left Fukurodani, so Kenma was expecting them. He showed the way to his lab and allowed their entry. “Welcome back.” Kenma greeted Tetsurou, “You’re going to need this.” He then stated giving Tetsurou the necklace that hid his suit.

“What are Daishou’s plans?”

“He’s already burned the supply of nekofruit, and now he’s talking to Yamamoto about our vibranium supply. He wants to use it to make weapons. Apparently, that’s how Nohebi has been able to prosper without our aide, they were using their minimal vibranium supply, and now their resources have run out. Nekoma has the most, so it’s no wonder Daishou challenged you for the throne.”

“Is he moving vibranium to Nohebi? Or moving Nohebi here?”

“Both. Some Nohebi troops have already settled in our village, and he’s sending some to Nohebi’s weapons factory, as well as overseas.”

“We have to stop him.”

“How do you plan on doing that?”

“Easy, attacking his shipments.”

“That’ll just start a fight, a war, a civil war specifically.” Sawamura pointed out, “Can we afford that? It's only been like what, a week?, since your last civil war anyway.”

“Can we afford Daishou getting more powerful? No. We have no choice.” Kuroo explained.

“Kuroo, we’re a team with limited numbers, we can’t be thrown into a war without proper resources.” 

“And how do we get that? The first signal we send to anyone else, it’ll raise red flags and then Daishou will know something is up. We have to move quickly, efficiently, and the timing has to be pretty damn impeccable.”

“But, Sawamura is right. We’ll need backup.” Bokuto shared, “I’ve… already took the liberty and contacted Ushijima secretly, and he’s willing to rally troops and be here first thing tomorrow.”

“Do you have a way to stay in contact with Ushijima without getting news back to Daishou?” 

“Of course. We have these secret phones that Reon invented.”

“Okay, fine… I think i can work something out. Here’s the plan…”

 

 

Daishou stretched as he entered the courtyard, where helicopters were preparing and loading up. “What a beautiful sight.” He sighed, “Fukunaga? What’s the estimated time of departure?”

“Ten minutes, my King.”

“Excellent. Nohebi is awaiting our gifts, so I want the best pilots only.”

“Of course, my King.”

“… Shall we do a test?” Daishou suggested, “I need a plane in the air now!” Daishou requested, watching one start up and slowly ascend into the air.

 

 

The copter made it a few yards before suddenly being shot down, crashing into an open field and immediately setting on fire. “What just happened?” Daishou demanded running closer to see. Everyone’s eyes were on the plane, waiting for any movement, presumably from the pilot, but instead a masked figure came out. Daishou saw red.

“He lives…” Fukunaga gasped.

“Daishou! You thought you have gotten rid of me, but as you can see, I am not dead!” Tetsurou began, his mask falling away into his suit as he made his way closer. “Come on, don’t you have something to say? Or what? Ghost got your tongue?”

“I thought I got rid of you! Whatever, it doesn’t even matter. The challenge is over! I’m the King now, prepare to bow to me, or we can just get a replay from yesterday.” Daishou smiled. “And your suit? That’s cute and all, but I have one of my own.” Daishou lifted his arms as a suit morphed over his body, similar to Tetsurou’s black cat suit but with dark green accents, a pair of fangs etched onto the back.

 

 

 

Daishou stormed towards Tetsurou, intimidating and powerful, but Tetsurou held his ground, waiting for the ‘King’ to come to him. “That challenge should be null and void, you cheated. Is there a reason you didn’t want to admit that you had some of your own supernatural strength? Afraid you weren’t going to beat me if you were truthful and had it stripped away?”

“I could easily beat you, without my strength, you are the one who needs the divine intervention.” Daishou teased, throwing the first punch that Tetsurou easily dodged. “How’s your future husband? Still rotting away in prison I presume.”

“Daichi is doing great, I set him free last night. He’s helping me overthrow you as we speak.”

“And how does he plan to do that? He’s just a bastard child from Karasuno, he has no talents or skill.”

“That’s where you are very wrong, my ‘King’.”

 

 

Meanwhile, Sawamura was with Kenma in the lab, making quick work of using the vibranium to create a replica of one of Daishou’s unoccupied planes, giving Sawamura virtual control of it, so he could pilot it while in the lab. “The first round of helicopters have already left, do you think you can catch them before they get to the border?” Kenma asked, finishing up the simulation and making a few tweaks of his own. 

“I am from Karasuno, some of Nekoma’s best pilots stem from there. Have faith, Kenma.” Sawamura teased, getting comfortable in the virtual cockpit. He reached forward, switching on some controls and pulling the seat to access the foot petals. After a few more tweaks, he placed his hand on the joystick and began to do his thing. Kenma stayed to the sidelines, overseeing whatever Sawamura was seeing, as well as breaking into the camera he had planted on both Kuroo’s and Daishou’s suits.

“Wait for the signal, Sawamura. I think Daishou’s about to release the first wave.” Kenma stated.

 

 

 

“Get those planes in the air, now! Carry out the mission as I get rid of your King.” Daishou demanded, “Yamamoto! Send troops to find Sawamura and whoever else might be helping out Kuroo! I want them captured immediately.”

“And then what shall we do with them upon capture?”

“Bring them to me and I will deal with them.” Yamamoto nodded in confirmation before turning around and starting to give his troops orders.

“I don’t understand you, Daishou. You’re greedy and want all this power for what?” Tetsurou questioned, remaining calm.

“I told you already. I’m giving Nohebi the justice they deserve.”

“But are you really? How is selling vibranium and gifting other countries weapons helping Nohebi?”

“How do you think we remained prosperous? Our technology and weapons can be used around the world, and there are a lot of Warlords who are willing to pay a hefty price for these to be placed in their arsenals.”

“Nekoma is not a country for war, we are a country for peace.”

“Peace is a fairytale! One that your grandfather destroyed for my people the minute he turned against his own and when he murdered my father, our Lord and leader.”

“What do you think you’re doing now? You’re not exactly being King of the year. You’ve already banished a group of people, thrown a higher up in prison, and now you’re sending weapons to our enemies.”

“I’m not sending weapons to our enemies. I’m sending them to fellow Nohebians, who live on foreign soils. I’m just giving them access to technology they deserve.”

“For what? It’s not necessary , you’re asking for war.”

“If Nohebi was to go to war, we will be successful. We have the resources to turn whatever is thrown at us in our favor.”

“At what cost?”

“If we spare a few lives, it’s all for the cause.”

“Do you ever listen to yourself when you speak? You’re willing to let your people fight in a fruitless war, over nothing? What are you trying to prove? That Nohebi is superior? They’re not! That’s not what Nekoma is about. You don’t deserve to be King if you can’t understand that we are all equal and no village is better than the other.”

“You all abandoned us! You left us to suffer and the only way we didn’t starve was by using vibranium to make weapons for trade. How is that not superior? You left us to become extinct, and we survived. That’s a grade A example of survival of the fittest.”

“Look, what Nekomata did was wrong! I told you that many of times. I can’t change the past, but I’m trying to change the future. Let me do my job. I can help Nohebi!”

“I’m done dealing with empty promises, you can’t help us because you can barely help yourself.” Daishou snarled, “Yamamoto, do me a favor and get rid of this clown once and for all.” Yamamoto turned away from his troops and slowly began to advance towards Kuroo.

“Yamamoto, stand down!” Tetsurou commanded, using a tone that had Yamamoto stopping in his tracks. It was something Yamamoto had never witnessed or heard, and he was quick to drop to his knee, head bent down and silently asking for forgiveness. Kuroo waved him off, “Daishou, stop this foolishness. You are blinded by rage, and I understand you.”

“No, you don’t. You’ve had a silver spoon in your mouth, ever since we were kids. You could never understand.”

“That’s where you’re wrong. You do realize that I witnessed the murder of my grandfather? I held him as he took his last breath! I spent days hunting down the Winter Soldier for vengeance, only to find out that he was not my true target. Revenge… destroys the mind, makes you do things you otherwise would not do. People can let it consume them, and it only makes things worse. It always makes things worse. Don’t let it get the best of you. Daishou, let me help you.”

“Fuck off.” Daishou growled, sprinting forward and knocking Kuroo off his feet.

 

 

 

A short scuffle began, Daishou throwing his best punches at Kuroo, but Kuroo dodging them and not really fighting back, “It’s just not fair!” Daishou complained, “Fight me back, you coward!”

“I don’t want to hurt you, Daishou.”

“Shut up!” Daishou landed one punch to Tetsurou’s stomach, “You had everything you could ever want! All I wanted was to be happy, to have my family happy, but yours screwed that up for me!”

“You have Mika.”

“And that’s supposed to be enough?” Daishou questioned, throwing another punch, this time Tetsurou caught Daishou’s fist.

“You have all of Nohebi. They listen to you. They look up to you, but look at what you’re teaching them.”

“I’m teaching them what my father taught me. If you want something done, you have to do it yourself.”

“By cheating? Do you remember what we learned in school? It was a pledge that we repeated every day. Nekoma is more than just Nekoma, it’s all the territories together . That included Nohebi. It still can.” Tetsurou let go of his hold on Daishou.

“So you expect me to just back down from my cause? Just let you become King again and control what Nohebi does? You’ll probably just punish us, ostracize us again.”

“I wouldn’t do that.” Tetsurou revealed, and Daishou gave up the fight for a second, stepping back to collect his breath.

 

It was silent for a few seconds before a muffled stomping began. Tetsurou turned around to survey what was making that noise.

“It’s the Nohebi troops. You really want me to send them home? Tell them that I surrender and you’re the King again?” Daishou questioned, a smirk falling upon his face. “There’s no way in hell I’m letting that happen. If you want to become King, Kuroo… you’ll have to pry the title from my cold dead hands.”

“I didn’t want this to end in a fight.” Tetsurou admitted, “But it seems you have left me no choice.” Tetsurou lifted his hand up towards his ear, pressing at an earpiece that you would have never noticed was even there. “Now, Kenma.” Daishou narrowed his eyes in confusion, but clarity coming soon after as he saw one of his helicopters zoom off towards the direction of the others, shooting them down from quite a distance with great accuracy. “By the way… do you still think Sawamura is just a ‘bastard child from Karasuno, with no talent or skill’?”

 

Instead of dignifying that question with a response, Daishou let his mask fall back over his head, covering his face and held out his hands, extended the claws embedded in his suit. Kuroo did the same, preparing himself for a battle.