Disclaimer: I don't own SlamDunk or any of its character.
There was a delay on this chapter due to some matters I had to settle here. I was hoping I am able to finish this fic before the year 2007. I know its a bit late to wish everyone Happy New Year! But anyways, Happy New Year to everyone and all the best in the year ahead of you and may all wishes come true.
Thank you very much for many readers constant support and encourangement. I know there were some reviews requesting not to end this fic so soon... I am also very sorry that I couldn't meet up to that request because I am ending the fic in only 20 chapters. This fic had been left for almost 3 years since 2004. I am actually quite happy that it finally came to an end. I am so sorry I may disappoint some readers though. Anyways, thank you so much for following this fic even I have left it for a long time
Enjoy the last chapter of Double Standards.
Chapter 20: Normal Days
My name is Sumire Kotori. My school life was never a bed of roses from the beginning. After my adventurous experience as Kanzaki Iris for a month, my school life did a turn for the better. From the most unpopular and most easily bullied student, I became the most popular girl around now. Everyone knew the story about how I managed to pull off as a super model. A clumsy girl like me could actually do it.
Iris Kanzaki, who had been this rich snobbish girl, became my best friend. It is very funny to see how everyone would react when they see us together, we look so alike. It is strange but true. We have no relation whatsoever, but somehow we could pull off as identical twins. But our characters and personalities are totally different.
After a month of being in Iris Kanzaki's shoes, I am not as clumsy anymore though I still hate high heel shoes. I no longer wear my glasses because I got used to contact lenses. The only thing that is different between me and Iris now is that I always tie my hair back into a ponytail. I never did like the long hair coming down my face. I liked my hair short actually and always thought of cutting it. Then again, I didn't dare to when I remembered that one time I did and I got lectured from my mother for the whole week. She liked my hair long. That is so troublesome…
I like my days in school now, thanks to Iris…
"Kotori-chan, I need some help with this math problem!" Sasami called. "You promised me!"
"Hai, hai…" I turned to my classmate, one of my closest friends who had always stood by me no matter how unpopular I was. Of course, there is also Yuriko. "What is it you don't understand?"
"It is this sum here…" Sasami showed me her notes.
So, I am still Sumire Kotori, the smartest girl in Shohoku High and aiming for a scholarship to Kanagawa University.
My days in Shohoku High are normal again without being harassed by Chiro. She had made a transfer to another school. I still have those pictures of Chiro with her face smashed in apple pie that Iris took. It was hilarious.
Her fan club went on as usual. Those girls went on following and idolizing the steps Rukawa took. However, I am still thinking of one person that I had met when I was in Shoyo High.
I wonder how he is doing now…
I am Kanzaki Iris, sixteen years old and a famous teen supermodel of Kanagawa. Oh wow… I am so full of myself. (Laughing to herself) I guess some things never change. I am still full of confidence of my looks and the way I am. After experiencing the life of Sumire Kotori, I realized and learnt one thing from her life, which is how to be a responsible person. It felt rather nice when people kept asking you for help. It felt like you could be depended on. I never had that kind of feeling before.
When Kotori was here in Shoyo High, she did some real changes in my life. Teachers are looking differently at me and said I had done a great job in my school work for the month. She somehow also managed to screw up my relationship with my girlfriends. That's something I am not very worried about though. After seeing what real friends are like in Shohoku High, I guess I am not so fussed up any more that those girls didn't want me around.
I am still seeing the friends I made in Shohoku High, I wonder if I should transfer over there… should I do it? Just kidding… I guess my tennis captain will freak if I decided to reassign to another school. After all, I got back into the tennis club as soon as I came back to Shoyo High.
Mitsui-sempai and I are still in contact. I had made him my personal photographer. He had accepted it. I gave him full access to the darkrooms for photo processing and a fully equipped camera from tripod to flashes and different kind of lenses. He was so excited when he saw all the equipments for the camera. I sometimes see him after school at the studio when he doesn't have basketball practice. We are still close friends even though we are now in different schools.
As for Kogure-sempai, I do meet him as well when I visit Kotori in Shohoku. He is so similar to an older brother looking over me. I am the only child, so I don't really know how it is to have a sibling. But with Kogure-sempai around, I could imagine me having a big brother now. He was always telling me not to overwork and stuff. He is such a kind sempai. I can't stop thanking him for saving me from drowning that time. Come to think about it now, I remember I fainted after that. I wondered if he did C.P.R to wake me up. That will be like kissing me! I should ask him. I can imagine him blushing. (Laughter) That will be so cute!
Rukawa… hmmm… I wonder what he is doing. I don't see him around at all even when I go meet Kotori and other people in Shohoku High. Is he avoiding me? But I don't see Rukawa as the type to be flustered over anything. So it must be that his head is just so full of basketball he is practicing all the time.
That reminds me, I have to work harder to the international modeling level. If Rukawa is aiming for the best, I will too…
Yosh… it's time to work hard. Ganbatte yo!
I saw Fujima walking around school like a child who lost his sweets. He must be still thinking about Kotori. That do'aho… if it hurts him so much to avoid her, he should forgive her already…
"OI!" I shouted at him when I saw him again that afternoon in school. "Stop moping around the school like a zombie!"
"Leave me alone, Kanzaki-san." Fujima told me with his voice sounding rather monotonous.
"Well, you will regret it for the rest of your life if you continue to be like this." I told him with my hands on my hips. When did I become such a nag? "I know this second year boy here is seeing Kotori every single day now. He will meet her after school. What is his name now? Right… Botan-sempai… Botan Hikari…"
I could see Fujima flinch at that name. I guess I did make an impression here. He should wake up soon before he really loses Kotori…
I am not doing a favour for Fujima… but for my best friend, Sumire Kotori.
Botan turned to look at Kotori when she walked out the school one afternoon. He wasn't having baseball practice and so he had time to come over. He knew her schedule for her school activities and part time work in her father's restaurant very well. She was off and didn't have any extra curricular activities that day, so he knew that she will be out any time now. When he saw her, his eyes widened slightly with surprise.
"Kotori?" He looked at her with wide eyes when she walked up to him.
"Konichiwa, Hikari-kun…" Kotori smiled at him.
"Your hair?" Botan pointed at her head.
Kotori didn't have her hair in a high ponytail like usual. That was because her hair was no longer long but short, layered and reaching only to her chin.
"Oh…" Kotori touched her bangs slightly. "I decided to cut it. Though, I had a hard time trying to stop my mum from lecturing me. But how do I look?"
Botan was still staring at her with wide eyes with a slight blush on his face. She actually looked good in short hair. He was rather stunned for a moment and wasn't able to answer her.
"It's not nice?" Kotori asked him nervously.
"No… it's not that!" Botan quickly answered, waving both hands in front of him anxiously. "You look really cute!"
"Honto?" Kotori smiled happily. "That's a relief."
"So, where do you want to go today?" Botan asked after that. "You are free, aren't you?"
"I was thinking of heading to the national library today." Kotori told him. "There are some books I need for reference that I can't find in the school library. I heard that I could find them there."
"I will accompany you there!" Botan said enthusiastically. "After that we can go catch a movie or something?"
"Eh…" Kotori looked at him with wide eyes. "But…"
"Come on, it will be fun!" Botan persuaded her a little further. "I promise you that you would enjoy it! I am sure you love ice cream! We can have that too!"
"Eh…" Kotori was still rather wide eyed. "But… I…"
"Let's go, Kotori-chan!" Botan grabbed her hand and was pulling her down the street.
Why! Why are rich kids always so forceful? Kotori thought in dismay as she let Botan pull her away from the front gate of Shohoku High.
At that time, Sasami and Yuriko walked out and watched her walking away with a boy from another school. They turned to each other quietly. That was the boy who came to see her often nowadays.
"Are they going out?" Sasami asked.
"I don't think so," Yuriko answered. "I always thought that she liked someone else. What is that guy's name…?"
"Fuji… something I think." Sasami said thinking hard.
"Right… Fujima…" Yuriko answered.
"That baka will definitely lose Kotori one day." Another person said behind them.
They jumped and turned around to see Iris had come to their school and her arms were crossed in front of her. She looked rather annoyed and irritated.
"Tage… that Fujima!" Iris gritted her teeth. "He is really, really a DO'AHO!!!!"
"Mya…" Sasami raised both hands up and looked rather nervously at the annoyed Iris. "Maybe he just needs some time… I am sure Kotori knows it too…"
"That is why she didn't go see him or do anything either." Yuriko said and placed a hand on her own head worriedly. "But if this continues, I think they both will just end up not seeing each other anymore.
"I WILL NOT FORGIVE THEM FOR DOING THIS!" Iris shouted.
Sasami and Yuriko leapt at her outburst and grabbed one other. They laughed rather uneasily at Iris who was still fuming.
"Do you think I should do something to help them?" Iris asked while walking out of the school with Mitsui. They were going to the studio together that day. "I can't bear to see Fujima looking like a zombie. And Kotori…"
Iris stopped talking for a while and looked down the ground.
"She looks happy on the outside, but I know her…" She continued her sentence softly while staring at the ground. "If we didn't need to switch back like that, maybe she could have explained to Fujima more carefully and…"
"What is done can't be undone." Mitsui replied rather casually.
He had both his hands behind his head and was walking in a rather relaxed sort of way. Iris looked back up at him and sighed.
"I guess you are right…" Iris paused for a while and suddenly her face lit up. "I think I have an idea…"
"Iris-chan, I think its best you don't over do something." Mitsui said suddenly looking more alert and rather worried. "Your ideas may add more fuel into a fire when you are supposed to put out that fire."
"I will get Kotori's friends to help too…" Iris continued, Mitsui's warning falling to deaf ears.
Kotori looked at Iris' mansion and hesitated. It had already been two weeks since the last time she was here. She never came back to this place after they switched places. Now seeing this big place again gave her a cold feeling. She never did like the huge empty house.
"Ah, you are here Kotori!"
She turned to see that Sasami and Yuriko had come too. She blinked and gaped slightly.
"Why are you two here?" Kotori asked.
"We are invited." Yuriko winked.
"Iris wanted to invite all her friends for a gathering." Sasami did a thumb up sign. "I am so happy to know we are also in the category of her friends."
"Eh…?" Kotori raised a brow. "What is going on?"
What she was told was totally different. Iris begged her that she needed her to come over to her house to tutor her desperately. She didn't want to fail in her exams like she always did. Kotori fumed slightly. That liar…
What is she up to? She thought furiously.
"Come on," Sasami said cheerfully and grabbed one side of Kotori's arm.
"We are going to be late." Yuriko grabbed the other side.
"Wai… WAIT!" Kotori shouted but they ignored her and dragged her in.
Remi ushered them into Iris's room and that was when they only let her go. Iris was already inside and all dressed up in a nice evening gown. She grinned when they appeared. Kotori was beyond pissed.
"What is going on?" She shouted.
"Girls, shall we?" Iris told all of them.
"Ready as can be…" Remi smiled sweetly.
Yuriko and Sasami only grinned mischievously while they stared at her.
Kotori panic and backed away when they all approached her.
"Wha…" Kotori stammered. "What are you all… wait… no… DON'T COME NEAR ME!"
The ballroom was filled with students from Shohoku High and Shoyo High. Everyone was formally dressed because Iris insisted. Mitsui was tugging on his tie slightly because he never did like the feeling of something around his neck. The last time when he was in the tux, he didn't put on the bow tie but this time, Iris made sure he wore a tie.
"I hate this…" Mitsui said softly.
Kogure, who was next to him simply smiled.
"Just bear with it, Mitsui." He said mildly.
"I am going to get some fresh air…" Mitsui muttered, irritated and walked away.
In the corner he could see Rukawa standing near one of the doors towards the balconies. He looked like he was dozing off. Mitsui saw that Rukawa just wore the black school uniform. He hadn't even bothered changing when Akagi told everyone to go take a break and come to this gathering that Iris had planned. She had invited everyone from the basketball team.
"That baka…" Mitsui said softly and headed off in another direction.
"Kenji, why are we here?" Hanagata asked when he saw that Shohoku had come to this gathering too. "Isn't that players from Shohoku? Is Kanzaki going to start some kind of dispute in her house?"
"I don't know…" Fujima was also rather irritated.
He remembered what Iris told him earlier that morning in school…
"If you don't appear Fujima Kenji, I will make sure that the Shoyo Basketball team will never see another game!"
Fujima frowned at his memory.
That girl… Fujima thought silently. How dare she threaten me like this?
But his anger soon diminished when he saw from afar, a girl wearing a long light blue satin dress. It had a 'U' neck shape and there were slight frilly sleeves. The long dress went all the way down to the floor so and flared out at the bottom. Fujima's eyes widened. She had cut her hair. Even so, she still looked beautiful.
"Kotori…" He muttered her name unconsciously.
"Kenji?" Hanagata called when Fujima started walking into the crowd. "Where are you heading to?"
Fujima didn't answer. His eyes were only on that girl that he had been thinking about all this time. In two miserable weeks, he couldn't make himself to go to her. He had walked away that day when the truth came out. Now that he thought about it, he regretted it terribly and wasn't able to face her again. But now seeing her once more, his body reacted on its own and was heading towards her. She looked like she was talking to someone, with a pleasant smile on her face.
When he was near enough, the person she was talking to came to view. It turned out to be Botan; they looked rather close while they chatted. Fujima stopped on his tracks. That's right. Botan had stayed while he walked away from her. If only he was the one who stayed, everything will be fine with Kotori now. Iris had told him that Botan had been seeing her. What if… what if…
"So Hikari-kun, how is practice coming along?" Kotori asked.
"Well, after you left, everyone seems gloomy…" Botan replied. "How I wish you are in Shoyo High instead, Kotori-chan."
Fujima felt his heart shatter. So they were on a first name basis now? When did they get so close? Fujima turned away from them and started walking off.
At that time Kotori turned and saw him. Her eyes widened.
"Fujima…?" She muttered, staring at his departing figure.
"He hasn't been himself since you left." Botan told her.
"Eh?" Kotori turned back to him.
"You haven't been as cheerful too… Kotori-chan." Botan continued with a sad smile. "As much as I want you here with me, I can tell that the person that will truly make you happy…"
He stopped his sentence then. Then he sighed and placed a hand on top of Kotori's head.
"Don't you think you should go after him?" Botan finally said.
Kotori blinked and smiled. She stood on her toes, leaned up towards him and pecked him on his cheek gently.
"Arigatou, Hikari-kun." She told him. "It has been fun with you."
Gathering her long skirt in her hands, Kotori ran towards the direction Fujima went. She looked around the crowd anxiously. When she spotted him heading towards the exit door, she ran towards him. He was leaving!
"Fujima…" Kotori called him.
He didn't stop but instead, opened the door and disappeared through it. Kotori sped up and ran after him. She didn't stop even when she was outside Iris' house at the front porch where Fujima was walking down the driveway.
"Fujima!" She shouted again.
This time he stopped in mid-stride, but didn't turn around. Kotori was out of breath when she reached him. Still he didn't turn around to face her.
"How can you call him Hikari and me Fujima?"
"Eh?" Kotori blinked with surprise.
"That is so unfair!" Fujima flared and turned around. "Why…? You…"
"You want me to call you Kenji?" Kotori asked in amazement.
Suddenly everything Fujima wanted to tell her - he had wanted to shout at her for being close to another boy - flew out of his head when Kotori said his name. He stared at her and blushed slightly. Kotori was still rather flabbergasted so she remained quiet.
"You and Botan…" Fujima asked uncertainly.
"We are friends…" Kotori said quietly.
"You aren't dating?"
"I told him that I like someone else."
Fujima was silent but he couldn't help but felt slightly relieved when he heard that Botan was rejected. But she didn't exactly say that who she liked. Fujima looked at her anxiously.
Kotori smiled slightly.
"Gomen…" She said to him softly. "For deceiving you from the start… I thought you will start to hate me if I am not Iris. I am afraid to think the person I like most will start hating me."
Fujima just shook his head slightly and smiled finally.
"I like you for who you are…" Fujima said. "Not because you were Kanzaki-san. You were so different from her, I should have noticed it. However, I guess liking you so much must have sidetracked me from my sanity.
Kotori giggled slightly.
"By the way, you ran pretty quickly earlier." Fujima said rather curiously. "I never knew you got the hang of high heel shoes."
"I didn't," Kotori grinned cheekily and pulled up her long skirt to reveal her feet. "Iris and my friends managed to force me into this dress this evening but they didn't succeed in changing my shoes."
Fujima looked down and saw her wearing a pair of white sneakers. He started chuckling softly. Kotori was rather happy to hear that everything was finally cleared and an idea came up. So the next thing that Kotori did surprised Fujima slightly. She held up her right hand towards him.
"Pleased to meet you…" She said. "I am Sumire Kotori."
"Fujima Kenji," Fujima replied and took her hand in his. "It is a pleasure to meet you."
Without letting go of her hand, he pulled her towards him and embraced her tightly. It surprised Kotori slightly but soon she placed her arms around him too.
"I am glad I met you, Kotori…" Fujima whispered to her.
That was the first time she heard him call her by her name. She smiled...
"Uwah, this is great!" Iris exclaimed.
She was spying on Kotori and Fujima with a pair of binoculars over her eyes outside on one of the balconies that overlooked the driveway, Iris bent far over the rail, still spying on the couple. She was grinning and pretty proud on her own work.
"Mission accomplished." Iris smiled and lowered the binoculars.
Kogure and Mitsui were watching Iris without her knowledge. They were sniggering slightly to see her so anxious to bring Kotori and Fujima together. That she was so happy that they were back together. She acted almost like a little kid, which was so unlike the sophisticated Iris they always knew and saw in the front covers of the teen magazine.
"She should be worried more about her own love life, don't you think?" Mitsui said to Kogure.
"I don't think she will realize it now," Kogure smiled gently. "She is more involved in her work than anything. For someone like her, she will not see anything else but her goal to succeed in her dreams."
"Like that baka?" Mitsui said pointing at a certain someone who was still snoozing at the corner of the ballroom.
Kogure turned to where Mitsui had jabbed his thumb towards Rukawa's direction. He laughed heartily.
"That guy will take another few more decades to be interested in his love life." Kogure said, still laughing.
"Yosh…" Iris cheered and raised both her arms up into the air. "It's time for fireworks!"
She made a signal towards her house keepers in the garden waiting for her sign from the balcony. Soon after she waved her signal, fireworks were fired up into the dark sky, filling it with attractive colours.
"You like fireworks a lot."
Iris turned around to see that Rukawa had come out to the balcony she was on. She smiled and winked.
"They are beautiful, aren't they?" She said enthusiastically. "Besides, it is also a form of celebration for my successful mission!"
"What mission?" Rukawa asked shortly.
He had been jolted awake by the loud crashing sounds of the fireworks. He saw lots of Iris's guests were walking out of the ballroom to the garden to get a better look of the fireworks. When he saw Iris standing outside on one of the balconies, he went over to her instead of following the others.
"That, is a secret." Iris grinned impishly.
"Your parents let you do all this all the time, don't they?" Rukawa said, looking up the sky.
"I only have a mother now…" Iris said also looking up the sky. "She is always away."
Rukawa turned back to her. So her father…?
"My father died in an accident when I was seven." Iris told him, even he didn't ask. "We were on our way home from an amusement park that was in town that weekend. The chauffeur lost control of the car because it was raining very heavily at that time. Before our car hit into a tree, my father threw himself over me and I was hidden in a small dark corner."
Rukawa's eyes were wide when Iris told him the story. She had her eyes on the fireworks when she related her sad tale to him. That day, during the day of the storm when she was locked in that small dark storeroom, he still remembered how she shivered. No wonder she was afraid of darkness.
"Otosan died on the spot…" Iris continued. "After that, I just didn't want to talk to anyone anymore. Okasan is never home. She is a famous international model. One day I saw her work and I got so fascinated. So I worked towards this path. I am still working hard to be like her one day! Okasan is very popular even in America."
"I want to go to America one day." Rukawa told her and looked back up the sky.
Iris turned to him, slightly surprised.
"To become the best…" Rukawa told her.
"Let's see who reaches there first." Iris grinned. "Let's make a promise. We will go to America!"
Iris held up her pinky finger towards Rukawa. He turned back to her. He could look at her with such wide eyes but still remain so nonchalant. Very slowly, he raised his last finger and locked their fingers to seal the promise...
Fujima and Kotori stood side by side, with Fujima's arm across Kotori's shoulders and Kotori's over his waist. The contented couple looked up at the sky quietly as the fireworks lit up the dark sky. Their hearts were already as one and there wasn't any need for words anymore. They understood one another clearly. It was only now that their future had just begun.
Everyone else that had gone to the garden was looking up the sky filled with fireworks, indicating a bright future for all of them…
Thank you so much for reading! & Thank you very much to Jace who had proof read this chapter for me. Her hard work and time are greatly appreciated.