Disclaimer: Slam Dunk & its characters © Inoue Takehiko

For Keax, who requested a SD drabble with the following: Mitsui; cactus, tea, penguin

Drabble #3
a Slam Dunk fanfiction

That evening, Mitsui finally goes home.

He stops at the door, clenches the house key in his hand. Cold hard metal bites into the soft flesh of his palm as he stares at the door, falters and looks down. He is about to turn and leave when he catches sight of the cactus plants. He remembers when he'd given them to his mother in his final year of junior high.

His mother had always shown interest in growing plants of her own, but the plants she'd tried cultivating always died not long after being bought. It was a constant source of amusement for Mitsui and as he'd presented his gift to his mother, he'd said that if even the hardy desert plants he bought died under her hands, that she really should give up on growing plants. She'd smiled then, eyes filled with pleasant surprise, before swatting him for his implied insult.

The cactus plants are still thriving, flourishing in fact, and appear to have been re-potted only recently. Mitsui thinks to himself, I'm surprised she hasn't killed them yet, and a small smile lifts his lips.

He closes his eyes and comes to a decision, inserts the key into the lock. The tumbler clicks open and he pushes the door back slightly, steps in. He tenses for a moment, then realises that no one is home and exhales noisily, tossing his bag on the floor. He steps out of his shoes, begins to bend down to line the shoes up properly -old habits die hard, he remembers his mother's constant reminders to line his shoes up properly- only to have to stop to press a hand against protesting sore ribs. He finally settles for nudging the shoes so they're crookedly lined up against each other and spots his slippers waiting next to his parents'.

Feeling a twinge start somewhere in his chest, he presses a hand to it, aware of the numerous aches that he's starting to feel all over his body. With slipper-clad feet, he moves slowly pass the living room, catching sight of the tea set in its usual place at the coffee table. He easily spots the garishly-painted teapot that he had made in art class in elementary school and given to his father, who liked tea. It was always with embarrassment and pride that Mitsui listened to his father explain about the teapot to guests who visited for the first time and enquired about it, stating calmly that it brewed the best tea and would they like a cup?

The twinge in Mitsui's chest aches further.

Mitsui reaches his bedroom door. He tests the doorknob, expecting it to be locked, but it turns easily under his hand. He blinks as the door swings fully open, sees that everything in his room is clean and dust-free, so different from the last time he was in it. Hovering uncertainly at the doorway, he spots the stuffed penguin plush toy, one of the few reminders of his childhood, on his bed, beady eyes staring at him in serene blankness. He remembers throwing it the last time he was here, taking down with it the row of sport trophies on the shelf above his bed. He remembers listening to the discordant clang of cheap metal as the trophies hit the floor with bitter satisfaction, his mother shocked into silence and his father, tall, severe and with those dark eyes flashing angrily, pointing his finger in the direction of the door, telling him to get out. He remembers making some smart remark that earned him a slap on his cheek, and walking angrily out of the house, slamming the door after him.

The trophies are now back on the shelf that his father had helped him build when they grew too many in number, glinting dully in the light that manages to spill in from the lamp-post outside.

Mitsui does not know how long he stands there, staring mutely at the trophies that he had displayed so proudly seemingly so long ago. He stays there, lost in his thoughts, until he hears the front door open and his parents' muffled voices drifting in through the half-closed door. He hears his mother say, "Are those Hisashi's shoes?" and his father answering gruffly, "If he's going to make trouble again, I'm throwing him out of the house and we're changing the locks on our door this time."

Mitsui presses a hand to his eyes wearily and takes a deep breath, steps out into the hallway. He sees the wary but hopeful expression on his mother's face, her slim hands clasped tightly together. He turns and sees the same watchful look on the tired face of his father who studies him from head to toe, then shakes his head, clearly wondering what his son has done this time to come back so bloodied and bruised, if there's going to be a re-enactment of what happened those months back.

Mitsui stills, clenching his hands into fists, and is aware of the rapid almost-painful thudding of his heart against his chest. Feeling the increasing ache from his wounds and bruises, he swallows his pride and says, eyes meeting his mother's waiting gaze, then his father's weary one, "I'm sorry," before what courage he has managed to gather fails him, forcing him to look down.

He waits, unconsciously holding his breath, and is greeted with silence which stretches too long. The silence feels unforgiving and feeling bitter, angry and tired all at once, he hunches lower, beaten, and mutters again, uselessly, "Sorry." Keeping his eyes trained to the ground, he is making his way pass the two motionless figures to the door when a pair of slim arms encircles him gently.

Mitsui chokes slightly, then turns and leans down, burying his head in the crook of his mother's neck and shoulders, ignoring the pain that flares up all over his body at his awkward position. He does not cry, only takes slow deep breaths, eyes closed, as he listens to his mother murmur words like, "It's alright." and "I'm glad you came home."

He is still waiting, feeling the weight of his father's judging gaze on his back. It seems like an eternity has passed before he feels a large hand resting hesitantly on his shoulder, before fingers clasp firmly around it and he hears his father's voice saying, "Welcome home."

Author's Notes:
If Mitsui comes across as girly/weak, tell me! Because I sure as hell did not intend him to be either, just very repentant. Yet the more I read this, the more girly he seems. And for those who reckon that Mitsui's parents seem to be too forgiving, Mitsui's parents as I have them in my head are pretty much like that, a stern & strict father but soft on the inside (like Mitsui, in a certain way, I suppose) and the sweet forgiving mother. :)