chapter ii

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i'll only stay by your side...

...i won't make you cry

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The sound of the steady dribbling echoed gently throughout the gym. Rukawa shot the ball through the air and it swept through the basketball net. He wiped a bead of sweat off his face before repeating the same routine.

He was in his school uniform; thinking perhaps the thicker set of clothes would help improve his endurance. It was lunch time and he could hear voices of students as their chattered and laughed. He wasn't like them, unlike them he knew what his goal was and the pathway to it so he was not about waste his time socializing. It wouldn't be too late to socialize once he succeeded. That is if he wanted to socialize. He never liked the mindless talking and the false enjoyment of another human's company.

Another basketball left his hand but this time, the ball bounced off the rim.

He looked at his sweaty hands for a brief moment before quickly grabbing another ball. His shot went in perfectly and he repeated it five more times just to make sure.

He dropped to the ground feeling a bit tire, maybe due to the fact he forgot to pack lunch again. And maybe that was why he was practicing, to try and forget about his hunger. His eyes slowly closed with his breathing becoming steady.
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Ayako slid the gym door opened and entered silently. It was the last location that Ryota could possibly be, and once she found him she was had a whole lecture planned out for the captain of the basketball team. How dare he skip classes? He had standard codes to keep if he planned on staying the team captain. Going around skipping classes and getting an average of 52 wasn't going make him look like captain material to the teachers.

Looking around she released a sigh, either the man was actually smart enough to skip classes outside of school or he wasn't feeling well. She couldn't help but hope it was the former.

Before she turned to leave she spotted a tall figure lying on the floor at the far side of the gym. Shaking her head like she was used to this, Ayako walked over and with quick strides she stood over him in no time.

"Wake up and get to class, we can't let tardiness help your marks go lower."

She gently but sharply nudged his ribs with the tip of her shoes. There was no response and the raven haired boy continued to sleep. This was not helping Ayako who was already slightly pissed off.

"Listen, I'm not in the mood today so if you don't get up now, I will beat you into a bloody pulp."

As she glanced down at her junior for five years straight, her eyebrows narrowed at the amount of sweat he was producing, how quickly his chest was rising and most noticeable was a grimace on his vacant features.

Falling to her knees, her hands grabbed his broad shoulders and shook them as hard as she could; she even managed to throw in a few punches to make her task easier.

Without even opening his eyes, he automatically sent his fist to chastise the person who dared to disturb his sleep. After all, it was now a know fact that messing with Rukawa Kaede's sleep was like messing with a hungry tiger's meal.

However, the person who interrupted his rest was obviously used to his robotic reaction for his fist was intercepted, and the person even dared to throw in a light jab at him. It was then he decided this person might be worth opening his eyes for before coldly sending them off. He didn't expect the older manageress to greet him with a frown and though he doubted it, concern on her face.

"Listen kid, you're burning up right now and I doubt that all that sweat is from your personal practicing. I want you to go to the office and check out and go home to get some rest."

She was telling him to skip the afternoon classes and go home? He wondered at what point her authority from the sidelines moved out to school bounds. And did she really expect him to follow her instructions like an obedient little puppy? He hated to break it to her but he wasn't their short point guard captain.

"I have class."

He didn't like the way she huffed and rolled her eyes like it was the stupidest thing she heard in her entire life. After all, she probably heard a whole lot of stupid stuff ever since that moron joined the basketball team, that guy's full of shit.

"It's not like you pay attention anyway. Other kids tell me that all you do is sleep in class."

"That red haired moron told you."

Rukawa's eyebrow raised up elegantly, the nerve of the moron to accuse him of not paying attention, as if the man himself did anything to learn in class. Not that he would know, he had better ways to spend classes.

"It'll be kind of hard to ignore it since its one of many things Sakuragi likes to point out. Regardless, you are going home."

"I'm fine."

"Like hell you are! You're going to check out at the office! You think I'm stupid or something? I know how much and how long you practice, you're pushing yourself too hard and you're not giving your body the time to recover. You're messing your body up."

Ayako's face was going red from all the yelling she did or from frustration, he wasn't sure. Yet the way her hand was set into a fist made it crystal clear she was prepared to beat him up with her bare fists, seeing how she only carried her weapon during practice.

"It's just a fever."

He was perfectly fine and there was no way she was going to force him into doing something he didn't want to do. He'll sleep during class, after all, he had a feeling his teacher was counting on him to fall asleep so the man could beat him as a form of exercise. The man has been looking healthier over the years.

"I don't care so go home. Thank goodness there's no practice today, I don't know what's with you guys not taking care of yourselves."

She got up and dusted her skirt and looked around the gym. Basketballs were lying in every parts of the gym; she shook her head as a mother would to a child before looking down at him.

"Put away all the basketballs before you leave."

He made a sound of acknowledgement though he probably would have cleaned it up even without Ayako's reminder. The sound of her footsteps paused forcing him to glance up to see what stopped her.

"And Rukawa, I mean it."

Finally he was left alone and released a sigh of relief. He considered her final reminder, or as he preferred the word threat, and shrugged it off. How was she going to know if he went home or to class? All he had to do was make sure at the end of the day; she left for home without seeing him. It didn't sound that hard, besides, he meant it too.

Reaching out for a nearby basketball he gripped it tightly, as if he was trying to squeeze the air out of it.

Take care of his body?

The gym echoed a loud banging sound as the ball slammed across the wall. His hands were set into a fist and he could feel his short nails digging into his flesh.
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Miyagi sat on the hard cement floor leaning against the brick wall. Glancing up at the clear blue sky his lips released a small sigh; it was such a nice to be in school. So having the simple mind he preferred to have, he skipped classes. He knew Ayako most likely would be jumping up and down, suspecting he was skipping school when he didn't show up for class after ten minutes of the entry bell.

But he couldn't bear to go into school, where everyone was happy, full of life and perfectly healthy. He was still hot headed enough to blow up and beat up someone to the ground. He didn't want to be among other people...people that were healthy. He couldn't even bare to be with his family.

His family, what the hell was he supposed to tell them.

'Oh I just found out that I'm diagnosed with juvenile Huntington's disease, so I'm going to become demented.'

Huntington's disease, he knew exactly jack about it. How the hell did the doctor expect his patient to pay attention to every single word coming out of his stupid mouth, when he just freaking broke the news that one's life was about to take a nasty turn.

He was diagnosed with Huntington's disease? A disease that's genetic? His father didn't have it and his mother didn't have it, unless they were keeping something from him. But Miyagi was certain both his parents were healthy as people in their early forties could be. So how could he possibly be diseased?

Miyagi jumped up from his sitting position, and there was a glimmer of hope in his eye. There must've been a mistake. A small smile crept up to his face at the thought. There was a mistake. Some sort of error on the doctor's part, like he picked up the wrong MRI scan result

Miyagi was busy with this speculation that he failed to hear the school bell go off.

"I'm fine. Nothing wrong with me, some stupid error the doctor made."

His face was now set with a full smile and he nodded to himself in confidence. And he realized he probably wasted the whole day thinking about a fake disease. Looking down at the ground he realized he was standing nowhere near a shaded area, but had a good portion of darkness around him.

"What guts you have Miyagi Ryota, skipping school by hanging right outside school gates. I applaud you."

He turned and saw Ayako, her full red lips curled into a nasty scowl and mockingly clapping both her hands. Despite the less than attractive look he was receiving from his manageress of three years, Miyagi couldn't resist smiling at her, which was bad move on his part because her sharp chocolate brown eyes got narrower.

"Are you sure you want to be captain? Because it's not too late to change captains, if I and the other teachers find you unfitting all we have to do is talk to coach Anzai about it. And not only will you lose your position as a captain but a place as one of the starters."

Miyagi was taking slow steps back as Ayako took a stride forward with every single word she spoke. And to emphasize her point she jabbed him roughly on his chest with her index finger.

"Honestly, I don't know what Akagi, Kogure and coach Anzai were thinking when they made you captain? Do you even want to win the winter tournament? Cause you know Ryota, you can't just go off skipping school!"

Her face was flushed into a bright cherry colour and Miyagi watched as she took deep breathes to calm herself down. Taking advantage of her state, he grabbed her shoulders and pushed her against the nearest tree. Ayako's face turned into a brighter red and Miyagi interrupted her as she began to open her mouth again.

"Now Ayako, you must give me a chance to defend myself."

He playfully shook a finger in front of her face, her eyes glared threateningly at him but it was nothing Myagi wasn't used to so from his part he found the act cute.

"I do want to and stay captain. It was one of my happiest moments of my life when Akagi announced I was captain, you definitely know that Ayako so please do stop asking me that particular question."

He gave a large grin because he felt like it and Miyagi couldn't resist making Ayako turn red, especially when he had the suspicion that it necessarily wasn't anger.

"I know my position as captain is safe because Haurko would never try to take it away. And you Ayako, despite all your criticism, you defend me from all those teachers who say otherwise for my responsibilities as captain."

It was a gentle smile that graced his face at the memory of Ayako defending him from their English teacher who outwardly questioned his ability to lead in front of the whole entire class. Miyagi felt awfully tempted to punch the teacher to show how capable he was, but Ayako spoke for him, and he wasn't alone when he thought she had a tongue that would make her a brilliant lawyer.

"And you Ayako knew exactly what they were thinking because as manager you were included in the meeting. If you whole heartily disagreed with them I know they wouldn't have made me captain. And yes I want us to win the winter tournament because they Akagi would come back to kick my ass."

Ayako was glaring back at him with sharp narrowed eyes but her face was no longer red from anger, which was always a good sign. Still, Miyagi could see that her fists were clenched tightly as if she was trying to hold back from saying something.

"Consider yourself a lucky man Miyagi Ryota. If only you used half of that brain into studying instead of conniving words to your favour. Look forward to practice tomorrow."

She turned her back and swiftly walked away from him. He watched as the cold breeze played around with strands of her velvet like curly hair. Usually Miyagi would tail after her talking nonstop about meaningless nothings but today was different. A random thought entered his mind like an unwelcome intruder.

He remembered from some cheesy western movie that had the main character contract a deadly unknown disease, which limited the character's days to live. It was very sappy, demented love story and pathetic characterizations, if he recalled, no clue how he ended up watching it. One last thing he recollected was that there were stages the main character went through with the discovery of the disease.

The first stage was denial.