Disclaimer : Slam Dunk is owned by Takehiko Inoue.

Note: Sentences in italics are thoughts.

I Couldn't Ask For More

Chapter 1: Place Called Home

Ah! Kanagawa. This is home.

Rukawa Kaede walked leisurely down the streets of his hometown. He was feeling the familiar cold night air around him.

After all these years, I'm home. I'm finally home...

How long has it been? He was just fresh from high school when he left for America. At 18, he was already one of the best in Japan. For the first couple of years, he was happy with his stints at the land of milk and honey. He was training with the best basketball players around the world. When he was dubbed as good enough, he was allowed to play at NBA and was getting paid for it.

Life.

Was.

Good.

He thought he already had everything he ever wanted. He had relationships but they never lasted.

Maybe things just didn't seem right. He heard someone said that if the person is right for you, you would know it just like you would know if a shoe fits you.

He continued on playing basketball. Basketball was his life, still there's something missing.

He missed Japan.

He missed Kanagawa.

He missed his people.

Then it hit him. He wanted to go home. He wanted to play for his country again. He wanted to see what it's like now.

Sure, there was glory in playing for the NBA, but there's more satisfaction playing for his country. That was when he decided to write the All Japan Team and asked them if he could join the team.

The response was positive.

The moment the plane touched down, he felt….so exhilarated.

He passed by the park. It's different now. It was remodeled but the basketball court where he used to practice a lot was still there. Then he noticed that at the other side another basketball court was made only it looked like it was intended for small children. He smiled and thought that maybe the people of Kanagawa wanted to start 'em young. He continued on walking until he realized that he was in front of Shohoku High School.

Shohoku High School.

Memories came flooding him. He recalled the pains and glories of their team.

The Interhigh Championships.

The camaraderie. He may not have shown it at that time but he was happy with them.

He recalled the people who have been a part of his life. Akagi, Kogure, Mitsui, Miyagi, Sakuragi, Ayako and Haruko.

He missed them.

The most memorable times of his life were spent with them.

In their company, he felt human even though he was cold and silent.

Cold and silent. He regretted those times when he acted so insensitive to them. He only wished it's not too late to make up for them.

It's funny how one would take things and people for granted and yet misses them when one is so far away.

He recalled his bickerings with Sakuragi. They could have been perfect brothers.

He recalled his other team mates and his fans.

Yes, he was aware of his fans. He was aware that many girls run after him but he ignored them.

Yes, he was aware of Haruko's infatuation with him. And yes, he was very much aware of Sakuragi's jealousy.

He shook his head and smiled. It's funny how people think he would be oblivious to what is going on around him. He is a basketball player for god's sake.

He could have gotten himself a girlfriend but it wouldn't be fair to her as he could not give her the attention she deserves.

He was even aware of the time when a rumor circulated around the school that he was gay simply because he would not get a girlfriend.

He didn't cared.

He was focused on his dreams.

He didn't want a distraction at that time. Having a girlfriend means having responsibility. No. He would just hurt her. He already had enough trouble juggling his studies and basketball.

Besides, he was still young at that time. He had all the time in the world. Lots of things could still happen.

I wonder how they are doing now.

I wonder if they also changed.

Like me.

He knew it. He's different now.

Although he was already talking to his team mates by the time he graduated high school, he knew he was still a lot different now.

America sure had changed him. He was alone. He had to learn the language. He had to learn how to interact with people. America is good to people who have guts.

If guts were needed to survive, he will have it.

And he did.

He paused for a while and closed his eyes. He filled his lungs with the cold Kanagawa air.

It feels so good to be back home.