Note to all those who care: This fic was a result of many late nights during which I tore my hair out in frustration- wondering how to go about continuing my other fics. The result of which, I am now a half-bald panda. Not.

Note to all those who DON'T give a rat's ass: You don't care? Well, neither do I. Please refer to above note.

Disclaimer: Yes, seeing as almost every other author writes a disclaimer, I presume I'm obligated to the same. So here it goes: SD belongs to non other than Inoue Takehiko- san. I'm just borrowing the characters. I promise to return them but it's an entirely different story if they want to stay. So sue me.

I'm just a girl



Sakuragi

My name is Hanami. Sakuragi Hanami. I'm just your normal, average sort of teenage girl- I go to school, I study, I play sports....the only problem with me is that I'm not in love with any boy in particular, and that, in itself is a MAJOR problem. Everyone else is in love. So that pretty much sets me apart from everyone else. I don't have a crush on a certain somebody nor do I have a secret admirer, much less a stalker.

Oh yes. I'm 16 years old and in my first year of high school. Today's my first day of school. I don't know anyone here and I don't plan to make any friends. My sole purpose is to get through high school and graduate from Toudai. That's all. I'm not very ambitious.

Right now though, my sole purpose is to find my classroom.





I see a group of girls ogling at something. They look harmless enough. So I approach them cautiously. One can never be too certain.

"Ano, sumimaseng," I say, "Would you happen to know where Year 1 Class 1 is?"

They ignore me. Oh well. I leave them to their brainless giggling and consult a particularly odd-looking group of boys.

"Ano ne," I begin again, "would you happen to know where Year 1 Class 1 is?"

They look me up and down. Yes, yes, I know I'm hideous. No need to look so revolted. Their eyes stop at my hair. I contain a sigh. It's always the same thing.

"It's natural," I explain.

They look like they don't believe me. Fine. I'm used to that. No one ever does anyway.

"There." One of them points over my shoulder.

I blink in confusion. "Suman?"

"Your class. Down the hallway."

Oh. How did I miss it? I'd come by that way twice. "Sank yuu." I turn to hurry.

"Matte kudasai. We're in that class too."





It finally dawned on me why they looked odd. The boys I mean. One had his hair dyed a startling yellow. Another grew a moustache and the faintest trace of a beard. The other was as round as a barrel, perhaps even more, and the last, well, there didn't seem to be anything wrong with him, but I suppose that's his flaw.

Anyhow, they're in the same class as I am, so I'll see plenty of them whether I like it or not.

Plus, they're a friendly bunch. Which is somewhat disconcerting seeing as I have no intention of making any friends while in Shohoku.

I stayed in class while everyone else went for lunch. I was alone and it felt good. I'm a lonely sort of person so silence and solitude agree with me. Unfortunately, it didn't last long enough. The 4 of them were back within minutes and they plopped themselves around me. I mean, they didn't plop down on the floor around me. They pulled up chairs and plopped on them. Yeah, erm, anyhow, they 'sneaked' in some food from the canteen and offered me some. I declined but at their insistence, I agreed to a sandwich. Then a packet of carrot juice.

As I nibbled on my sandwich, they shot me questions none of which I replied to. The chubby one was stuffing his face full with food. Fascinating. How does he do that? I always thought that our stomachs were no bigger than twice the size of our fist and nowhere near as expandable as a balloon. Now here's a specimen that just proved me wrong. A medical phenomenon. Interesting. Perhaps I could study his habitual pattern? He appears to be the ideal human vacuum, no, a black hole. With more people like him, there'll be less wastage of food and so the pressing need to contain the increasing amount of trash would be greatly reduced. I could win a Nobel prize for this. No, maybe TWO Nobel prizes- the first for a breakthrough scientific discovery, and the second for humanitarian aid and contribution. Hnnnnn....I wonder..

Oh. The normal one is kindly trying to steer the conversation away from the topic- me. Apparently, he's realized that they're not going to get anything out of me. Anyhow, I'd actually started to relax when the topic of discussion shifted to our poor, balding headmaster, Kageyama-sensei, when the bell sounded. Pity. I was starting to like them and was actually considering putting some input into the conversation. Oh well. Back to lessons then.





Mito

I've never seen a stranger girl. She's a loner, and so aloof, yet warm and friendly at the same time. How do I define her?

When the lunch bell rang, she actually REMAINED in her seat. Okusu suggested we try to talk to her. I know he wants to hit on her- he likes to prey on the weak and defenseless. But I was curious as well, so I decided, why not?

So we brought back some sandwiches that were 'generously' given to us by this puny kid who's from the same junior high as us. See, it helps to have old 'friends'. Anyhow, she refused them at first, but gave in after we practically begged her to 'sample' one. Anyhow, she accepted the packet of carrot juice readily. Just as I knew she would.

And how did I know?

Well, I could tell from her hair. After all, we are what we eat. And her hair is as red as carrots.





Sakuragi

The last class of the day! I can't believe the first day of high school is almost over! This has got to be the finest moment in the history of my pathetic existence that I call my life! A priceless KODAK moment! Where's the film for goodness sake! Never again will I, Sakuragi Hanami, relive this historic moment.....I am exactly 16 years, 2 months, 5 days, 3 hours and 21 minutes old as I say this.

Alas, the school bell tolls and I must tarry on home! Mother awaits my company and I must not disappoint! Farewell dear school! Till we but meet again, be it chanced or fated! For now my love, let us part our ways....





Mito

I rest my case. I don't understand her and probably never will. For one, why is there a goofy, lopsided grin on her face? For another, why is she skipping every half a step?

Is she so glad school's over?





Rukawa

*yawn*

Well, today went relatively smoothly. I don't see what the big deal about high school is about. They say the transition from junior high to senior high is tough....but what about it? It's no different from junior high.....

.....except maybe I wasn't rudely awakened so often.

*snore*







The next day...

Sakuragi

We're supposed to sign up for club activities today. Maybe I'll just walk around and survey the booths. If there's anything to my fancy, I suppose I might consider joining.

Of course, I never counted on the 4 of them to tag along.

What is up with those guys? What do they want from me? They follow me around incessantly like the plague, but far worse than the plague itself. But I wouldn't know. I've never had a plague looming all over me.

Perhaps I may be able to shake them off somehow.





Mito

So she thinks she can lose us, eh? We'll see about that.





Sakuragi

They're not going to give up are they? Fine then. Neither will I.

*SMACK*





Rukawa

What's this?



Sakuragi

I have to crank my neck all the way up just to take in his full height. Oh my, what have we here?







Rukawa

*stare* stare*







Sakuragi

Yes yes, I'm a toad.... aren't we all? Well maybe you won't agree seeing as you're so pretty.

Well whad'dya know? I'm a poet and I don't even know it.

*grin*

Hmmmmm....maybe he can help me here...







Rukawa

She's using me as a shield. Or, to be more precise, a hiding place. Apparently, she's hiding from someone.

Matte.

I never said I agreed.

Ah hell. I'll just pretend she isn't really behind me, tripping on my shoes every so often.

More importantly, where's the basketball club?







Mito

K'so. We lost her. Aha! I see a speck of red! It has to be her, the sly creature!







Sakuragi

They're following a trail. A false trail. I'm going the other way, the cleaner with the red stained mop, the other. Thank goodness for vandals.

Girls are turning red as they see me. Erm, I know I'm ugly, but I still pass for a girl don't I?

Oh. Wait a minute. They're blushing cos of HIM.

Well, that's a relief.







Rukawa

"Rukawa? Rukawa Kaede?" the senior with glasses asked, staring first at me, then at the piece of paper, then at me again.

"Hai." What is it with everyone? Is it so hard to believe that my name is Rukawa Kaede? I mean, what's so spectacular about my name? It's very plain if you ask me.

"Akagi! Rukawa Kaede's in Shohoku and he's just signed up for basketball!"

I resist the urge to roll my eyes. Why the fuss?

A monstrous boy emerged from behind the half-closed gym doors. I wanted to gasp, but I didn't.







Sakuragi

What a monstrosity! A giant of epic proportions! A- -

"A humongous gorilla!"

For some reason, I had just said that last comment out loud. Oops.





Rukawa

She called him a gorilla. The very girl who was using me as refuge called Shohoku's basketball captain a gorilla. Some nerve she's got there. He's probably thrice her weight and size and more than a half meter taller.

Still, my sentiments exactly.







Sakuragi

Oh dear. I think I made him mad.





Kogure

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Akagi's using every ounce of his self-control not to strangle the girl.

I guess it's my cue to intervene and prevent any bloodshed.

"Maa maa, Akagi," I tell him, "she's a girl."

He glares at me as if I were the one who had called him a gorilla.

"She didn't mean it, did you now?" I ask kindly. The girl shakes her head vigorously. "See?"

"Humph." Akagi turns away.

"Are you here to sign up as well?" I ask her again. I take a liking to her immediately- she looks so helpless and vulnerable that I feel obliged to protect her.

"Ara?" she blinked.







Sakuragi

Am I here to sign up for basketball? Who are you kidding pal? Do I look like I can play basketball to you?

I blink at his amazing perception.







Kogure

Awwwwww.... she looks so lost...

"Onamae wa nan desu ka?" I smile at her, " Kotira wa Akagi Takenori san desu. Watashi no namae wa Kogure Kiminobu desu."

Akagi nodded stiffly. Obviously, he hasn't forgiven her yet.

The girl offers the shadow of a smile, still half-hidden behind Rukawa.

"Ano..." I begin, "are you a friend of Rukawa's?"







Rukawa

Her? My friend?







Sakuragi

Me? His friend?







Both

You have got to be kidding.







Kogure

Both of them exchange glances before turning back to look blankly at me. Ooooookkayyyy...

"I'll take that as a 'yes' then."

No reply.

"Erm, so what's your name?" I venture again.

She made no move to answer. Finally, just as I was about to give up waiting for a reply, she opened her mouth.

"Sakuragi Hanami."

"Sakuragi Hanami?" I repeated stupidly.

She nodded.

"Well, Sakuragi-chan, would you like to join the basketball club?"







Sakuragi

I looked at him. I mean, I really LOOKED at him.

"Okay," I said.

He smiled at me.

So I'm now a member of the basketball club. I suppose it's no better nor any worse than any other club. I mean, its just another club right?