© 2004 Copyright Himitsu Star

Disclaimer: Fanfic. By a fan. For fans. Slam Dunk created by great mangaka Takehiko Inoue. This work not at all associated with Takehiko-sama. This work not associated with anime version of Slam Dunk. This piece of fanfiction   work belongs solely to Himitsu Star (see Berne Convention and other copyright laws and international treaties).

Warning: This is a yaoi fanfic, which depicts romance and love between males. If you do not approve of homosexuality or bisexuality in any shape, size or form, please desist from reading this tale. Thank you.

Author's Notes: Minna-san, this is my first Slam Dunk work. It is, very distinctly, RuHana, and no Sendohs will be hurt during production. Likely, but unconfirmed pairings that will pop up during the course of this fic include Mitko, SenKosh and AyaMit. This prologue is filled with OCs, however, for good reason, as they are required to lay the groundwork for the rest of the story. I hope everyone will enjoy this! J

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Title: Most Likely Couple

Rating: PG-13

Prologue: The Competition

Shohoku High was holding its annual Tanabata celebration. As the town celebrations would be held much later, at night, it meant that the high school had to put aside lessons for the day in order to hold their celebrations successfully.  The student council, naturally, was overjoyed. They had been at somewhat loose ends, following Valentine's Day, White Day, April Fool's Day, Support-Shohoku-Basketball-Team-Week...and then nothing. Nothing. They had been positively bored to death. Then Tanabata had come along, a true god-send, something the council could really sink its teeth into. And this year, the Tanabata Festival at Shohoku High was going to be bigger and better than ever, so swore the student council president, Nitta Takeshi.

Takeshi, student council president and eager beaver, was in his element. Already, he had managed to get the school board's approval for the twenty or so programmes that would be part of the Festival. There was going to be a haiku competition, an exhibition three-on-three basketball match by the Shohoku team, a Kabuki-style version of the Tanabata legend, and a modern version (shamelessly inspired by the American film, Grease, right down to the tacky dance steps). There was even going to be a kendo competition with a twist, where the participants would dedicate their battles to their lady-loves. It was all going to be very exciting, and as Takeshi leaned back in his swivel chair at the head of the table in the council room, he was one big, affable beam from head to toe.

Watanabe Naohito, vice-president of the council, cleared his throat. He indicated the three large, black garbage bags sitting next to the ancient file cabinet behind the president.  "We received a record number of nominations for the Most Likely Couple Competition. Several of them were...invalid...because the nominators left no name...or because one person was just trying to get the highest number of nominations for a particular couple by nominating them over and over again, quite against the rules..."

The Most Likely Couple idea had been a brainstorm of one of the girls on the student council, one Fukada Kyoko, who was lucky enough to share the same name as the popular Japanese actress, and quite as fortunate in the looks and charm department. She had argued fervently for it, pointing out that Valentine's Day celebrations always had a Best Couple competition, so why not one for Tanabata? Of course, since it was about star-crossed lovers and couldn't ape Valentine's Day—

"We should put couples together! Get people to nominate and vote who should be the Most Likely Couple, and we'll reward them with...with a dinner for two at an expensive place in Tokyo! Maybe they'll really get together! Sooooooo romantic!!!"

Well, Kyoko hadn't been voted in for her brains. She was voluptuous. With big, bambi eyes. Her butt had a seductive way of bobbing when she wiggled her way through the school hallways, her bust jigging rhythmically in her tight school uniform. She was also undoubtedly the best judoka in the school.

Naohito himself was looking somewhat uneasy as he shifted his glasses repeatedly up and down his nose. Already there were two noticeable red dents at the side of his nose.

Takeshi tilted his head, a faint expression of surprise crossing his face. "Ne, what is it, Naohito?" He straightened in his seat, leaning forward, sharp eyes fixed on his right-hand man.

Naohito began reading almost glumly from the paper in front of him.

"Here are the names of the top ten Couples nominated: Osaka Hiiro and Matsuda Ikue..."

Takeshi nodded to himself, smiling. The two were in the school drama society; they would be playing the leads opposite each other in the enactment of the Tanabata legend. They were close friends in real life and had played opposite each other since their freshman year, but they had never dated each other, and it was popular rumour every week that they were together...though the rumour died every week and was reborn the next week.

"...Ayako and Miyagi Ryota..."

Right. Again, Takeshi nodded. Ayako was the manager of the basketball team, a feisty, pretty, determined girl, who was always armed with a fan, the tool with which she beat her disobedient basketball players into meek submission. Miyagi was on the Shohoku basketball team, and he had been pursuing Ayako for as long as anyone could remember.

"...Fukada Kyoko and...and..."

Takeshi looked up. Watanabe Naohito had gone scarlet as he stared at the paper, which shook in his hands.

"And Watanabe Naohito," purred Fukada Kyoko comfortably from the seat she had managed to snatch, right next to the tomato-red vice-president. She smiled adoringly up at the flustered vice-president. "I do like you, you know, and I've only said so every day since I first saw you." She shook her head. "But you're too shy, Naohito-kun."

Takeshi rolled his eyes. "Get on with it, and take her out for dinner tonight, Naohito," he said crossly. "Really, it's about time you two got together—"

"Takeshi—" Flushed with embarrassment, Naohito stared accusingly at his best friend, who shrugged with a nonchalant grin.

"Here." Takeshi impatiently snatched the paper from Naohito. He glanced through the names of the pairs, nodding his head and making suitable noises. "Mm-hmmm. Uh-huh. Yare, yare. Hmmmm. Hn." So far, so good. One interesting pair as well...His eyes strayed to the last pair on the list. "NANI YO?!"

In Naohito's neat handwriting at the bottom of the page:

Rukawa Kaede and Sakuragi Hanamichi.

Takeshi leapt to his feet. "Impossible! They—they're—they aren't a couple!"

Kyoko smiled up at him, fluttering long lashes. "No...they'd make a lovely couple. Most Likely Couple..."

"But they're male!!!" wailed Takeshi, sounding uncharacteristically whiny. "And do you know what those two will do to us if they find out they're on the list?! They hate each others guts! The school board is going to kill us! They're male!!!"

Kyoko buffed her nails and observed, "Well, you didn't seem quite so agitated about the all-girl pair there—me and Akagi Haruko." She made a disgusted face. "As if I would ever go for her!!!"

"But that's different," protested the treasurer of the council, one Hoshikawa Syuusuke.  "You're two girls, and both of you together would be hot! I can just see it now..." He leered at Kyoko, and retreated hastily as Watanabe Naohito clenched a fist and shot him a murderous look.

Kyoko, however, was not about to give up this easily. "I find two guys making out very hot," she declared, casting an undeniably sultry glance around the table. "Arousing, in fact." She gave a sensual little wriggle that made all the boys in the room squirm in their seats. "Positively...sexaaaaaayy." Some of the boys in the room gulped visibly, changing colour. "Takeshi...if you're going to strike the last pair out, then you ought to strike out that all-girl pair, for fairness' sake, you know."

Takeshi slammed his fist down. "Be that as it may, this must not be allowed. It is wrong. It is insupportable. They are two males!!! We cannot allow this! Naohito—replace them with the next pair who had the highest number of nominations!"

There was a chorus of agreement in the room. Next to the vice-president, Fukada Kyoko gave a single, careless shrug of her slender shoulders—she knew when she was beaten. But behind her nonchalant smile, she gritted her teeth and plotted vengeance. There was a reason, after all, why Rukawa Kaede and Sakuragi Hanamichi had been voted in...