Disclaimer : Slam Dunk is owned by Takehiko Inoue.
Note: Sentences in italics are thoughts.
Author's Note: I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those readers who reviewed my three one-shot fics: Christmas Gift, Shogatsu and Unreachable.
Rukawa Kaede froze at the sound of a female voice behind him. Darn that voice, why does it hold so much power to stun him so? Wasn't it just yesterday when he made a vow that no girl, no girl would thaw that frigid, frozen heart of his?
Don't turn around, Rukawa Kaede. Because if you do, you will gaze upon that innocent, angelic face, those smiling eyes that you can only dream of having and that… that feminine body that you wanted so much to run your hands on.
She is temptation personified. She is Venus, she is Aphrodite and she is Helen all rolled into one. She has a face that could launch a thousand ships err… a face that could score a thousand baskets, the kind of girl that threatened his resolve. What's even more disturbing is that she doesn't seem to know how much of a temptress she is. Sinful, in fact! Just one look at her and it felt like he was already committing a sin!
Why? Why must there be a girl like Haruko Akagi? He couldn't help it. He is just human after all. His fans always thought of him as a god. Stupid as he was, he believed them until he fell down to earth. Hard. And ever since Haruko joined the basketball team as co-manageress, his hormones just wouldn't stop bugging him. Before he fell in love, he had a dozen reasons why he wouldn't fall in love, only to see them all shatter right before his very eyes.
He is in love and no philosophy could ever save him. His palms started to get sweaty that if he didn't have a firm grip on that ball, it would have slipped from his hands and make a fool of himself in front of her.
No. No way, Jose! He will never show his feelings. He wouldn't say how hot he thought she was. He couldn't afford to show it, right? No, no, no, no, no! He will ignore her as he always did!
"What is it?" He mentally rolled his eyes at himself. So much for will power.
Haruko virtually froze in front of him, her lips slightly parted, big, round eyes looking up at him like she wanted him. Or maybe, he was just imagining too much! He groaned under his breath as that manly urge started to swell up inside of him. Darn that Haruko. What could she be doing there standing in front of him? What does she think she's doing? The more that she stays there, the more that he is going to lose it!
Arghhhh! The thought irritated him. He is Rukawa Kaede for crying out loud, he cannot and will not lose it!
"Anou… ah… I…"
Pink cheeks, gentle blue eyes, and lips that looked so soft to kiss mmm…
"I… like you, Rukawa-kun."
His eyes grew wide. Did he really hear what he thought he heard? She likes him? Oh wow! Haruko Akagi? The former Captain's sister, the dream girl of the do'aho, the muse of the Sakuragi gundam, the object of fantasy of many Shohoku boys like him?
Finally, it sank into that basketball-corrupted brain of his. She likes him too!
Rukawa Kaede wanted to shout with joy but of course he didn't. Duh! He has to remain cool. Cooool….
Remember not to show too much emotion, Kaede, he told to himself. There… be cool. Better yet, release all those pent up emotions by slamming a ball onto the ring instead. Impress her, yeah!
So without really thinking, he turned his back on her and started to dribble the ball, charging towards the basket area. He leapt up and did a one-hand dunk.
A loud echo was heard throughout the gym. Wooohooo! It felt so good he felt like he was flying. Heh, Haruko was probably so impressed she was already whispering his name.
He landed softly on the floor. If it were a movie, it would have been in slow motion with his bangs flying about his head, his sweat like diamonds swirling all around him, fitting for a so-called god like him, all the more impressing Haruko.
So he turned to where Haruko was standing but… what is this? Haruko was already walking fifteen feet away from him. His eyes became dotted and all he could do was scratch his head. Why'd she leave?
Somewhere in the heavens, a frustrated cupid just broke his bow in half.
"Grrrrrrrrrrr… what the heck is wrong with this guy?" A cherub with strawberry blonde curly hair spewed as he was just about to straighten his hair up by pulling it out of irritation.
A cherub with curly black hair floated towards him, bow in his hand, a quiver of arrows hanging behind his back.
"Erm…what are you doing?" asked the black haired cherub, dangling the arrow on his hand playfully.
"What am I doing? What am I doing?" The blonde haired cherub was ready to dig his claws on a human with jet black hair, shaking in exasperation. "I am trying to make this… this," he pointed to the still confused Rukawa, "this pathetic human come to his senses and make a move!"
"A move?" The other cherub asked as a question mark appeared on top of his head.
The cherub with the strawberry blond curly hair rolled his eyes. "Yes, a move! He wanted this particular girl for months and he isn't doing anything about it!"
"Well, just give it time. You know how humans are. They're slow," advised the black haired cherub.
"Slow is an understatement! The girl just confessed to him! And you know what he did?
"He played basketball!" The strawberry blond cherub was clenching his fists in frustration, gritting his teeth and smokes were coming out of his ears.
"Have you tried our secret weapon?"
The blond cherub raised an eyebrow.
"You know… ," The black haired cherub raised his bow in the air, "this!"
"I already hit that human with an arrow and he didn't even flinch!"
"But he made some improvement, right? He followed his 'gut feelings' about going to the same school. And you said he started to talk to her already."
"That is not enough! I am running out of time here!"
"There's still time, you still have seven days before Valentine's Day," the other cherub said calmly.
"Seven days? Se-ven days? Oh no!" The paranoid cherub started to panic. Without thinking, he grabbed the bow from the other cherub and started shooting arrows at the basketball player's 'frozen' heart. "Take that! You insufferable human!" the strawberry blond-haired cherub screamed.
The black curly-haired cherub sweatdropped. "You are not supposed to do that, remember?"
At his apartment, Rukawa got up from his slumber. He even shook his head to make himself awake as he headed to his table. He sat down, grabbed a pen and paper and started scribbling.
I love you.
What. Is. Love? Love is a many-splendored thing… It's the April rose that only grows, in the early spring… Ahh…how apt for the child of spring. Oh for…
The paper was crumpled and thrown away.
I like you.
Nah! Too common. Rukawa Kaede has to be original. Besides it is more than liking. He grabbed another paper and began writing again.
Let's have sex.
Somewhere in loveland, two cherubs sweatdropped.
Rukawa blinked on what he just wrote. Sex? Well, she said she likes him so maybe…right, maybe he would earn a big, fat slap on his face. He crumpled the paper and threw it behind him.
I'm gay. I need to be converted.
Rukawa sweatdropped at his own handwriting.
Tok! A bow landed on another cherub's head. "See what you did? You turned him into a maniac!"
"Give the guy a break, will you? This is the first time he's doing it."
Rukawa continued on writing. He's almost buried in a pile of crumpled papers around his desk.
Want to breed?
The strawberry blonde cherub smacked his forehead.
"Breed…" the black haired cherub placed an index finger on its chin as if thinking innocently. "Isn't that the reason why we have a job? So humans could breed?"
After two days:
It's ok, Rukawa Kaede. Calm down, it is normal. After all, you are a hot-blooded male who also needs a girl, right? Right. Just calm your nerves down and for crying out loud, control your trembling hands! How can you possibly insert that god-forsaken paper if you don't keep your hand steady?
Finally, he was able to slip the piece of paper inside the locker.
There. What could be so hard? He did it!
Somewhere in the invisible world, two cherubs gave each other a high five.
"What's on that paper anyway?" asked the black haired cupid.
"Well, uh…be… my Valentine…," the strawberry blond-haired cupid answered, a bit embarrassed that all he could do was try to join his two forefingers together.
Yeah. Now, that's what Rukawa Kaede calls an original. After all, he's never heard of anyone saying 'Be my Valentine' to anyone. It's not that he's been oblivious to the world. It's not that he doesn't have a life. Of course, he has. He has a basketball life. By the time he was done and decided on those 'original words', he had a mountain of garbage bags outside his house, all filled with papers. Why, he even lost track of how many reams of paper he used!
"Hahahahaha!" The black haired cherub was laughing, clutching his stomach as the blond-haired cherub was throwing dagger looks at him. "Oh, wow… original… hahahaha!"
He studied the metal door of the locker. He thought, nice, really secured locker. Sorry, no, it was not what he was thinking. He was studying the metal door of the locker because he wanted to make sure that no part of his 'love note' would be peeking out lest someone other than Haruko would see it and get a hold of it.
It was just three words! Three words, jiminy cripes! But it took him the whole weekend to write it down to perfection. Now that that's done, he could probably sneak for some nap before the school bell ring.
Suddenly, about fifty Rukawa-hungry girls who seemed like they didn't have breakfast threw their bodies over him. By the time the girls were done kissing and touching him like an icon of a saint, his school uniform was as messy as his black hair.
Ah… stupid girls. Heh. The things that he would do for lovely Haruko. Heck, scoring 55 points in one game was like a walk in the park compared to this.
So… because of lack of creativity, all he could do was place a note with the same message on Haruko's locker every morning. Ah… stupid love, what has it done to him? Waking up very early in the morning just so he could get to the hallway where her locker was located, just so he could avoid being seen and become the breakfast meal of his fangirls.
Just like the days before, he tried to steady his hand as he tries to insert the note. Yawnnnnnnnnn… Darn, he's so damned sleepy.
"So it was you all along, Rukawa-kun."
"Uh." Opps… caught in the act!
Suddenly, his fingers became stiff and the note almost fell if not for his presence of mind to catch it halfway to the ground. He actually looked like a clown, juggling the note on his hands to Haruko's amusement.
Yup, for a while, he lost it.
His spine straightened up and conditioned himself mentally. Cool… be cool, Rukawa Kaede. He turned around and saw Haruko smiling gently at him.
Apparently, Haruko was intrigued by who it was who kept on placing notes on her locker room for five days in a row, so she decided to go to school real early on that Valentine's Day morning.
"You can give it to me personally, Rukawa-kun."
"…" Embarrassed, speechless and hesitant, he slowly raised his hand and stretched his arm to hand the note to her.
Haruko took it but didn't open it. Instead, she moved her hands to her back and replied, "Yes."
"I said yes, I can be your Valentine, Rukawa-kun."
"As her out, darn it!" An annoyed cupid taunted. "The suspense is killing me!"
To the cupid's dismay, Rukawa just stood there, stiff like the statue of Adonis, couldn't move, couldn't talk. So what else is new?
"Argh! I couldn't take this anymore!" The poor cherub wailed.
The frustrated cherub floated higher. The other cherub sensed what he was going to do and rushed to him. "No!" He shouted as he tried to stop him.
Too late. The blonde cherub already gathered enough energy to propel them towards the speech-challenged high school boy.
Faster than an arrow, two cherubs landed on Rukawa.
"What the-" Before he could finish what he was going to say, more so figure out what happened, he clumsily tried to get up when he realized that he was on top of Haruko.
"Look what you did!" the black-haired cherub complained.
The strawberry-haired cherub ignored him. Instead, he lay down on his stomach and propped his knuckles on his chin, sighing dreamily at Rukawa and Haruko staring at each other. "Ah! Isn't love lovely?"
Rukawa finally managed to get himself up after a falling down on her a couple of times because of his nervousness. He was surprised at himself when he offered his hand to Haruko to help her get up. He straightened his shirt up before he said to the blushing girl, "Ah…it was an accident."
"…it's… okay…" Haruko uttered shyly before digging into a paper bag which they barely missed when they landed beside it. She took out a box and handed it to him.
"This is for you, Rukawa-kun. Happy Valentines!"
"Arigato," he said as he received the box of chocolates from her hand.
They stood in front of each other for god knows how long before, "Uh…"
Jeepers! His hands were actually sweating and he couldn't stop himself from rubbing them against the sides of his school uniform.
Haruko looked up at him and waited patiently.
"Ah… um… you said…"
Haruko smiled at the sight of Rukawa. How often does one see a nervous and fidgeting Rukawa Kaede, anyway?
"You said…" Great, he thought to himself as he knew he was making a fool of himself. "Does that mean that we're… that we're… you know…"
Being the oblivious girl that she is, Haruko frowned and asked, "I know…?"
"… that … you're… my… girl?" Rukawa's voice became softer at the end of his sentence.
"Rukawa-kun!" Haruko jumped and hugged him tight. He, on the other hand became as stiff as a board.
"Gomen nasai, Rukawa-kun… I guess I got carried away."
"Where are we going, Rukawa-kun?" Haruko asked as soon as they stepped out of the school.