"What's that on your neck?" Kogure asked knowingly, as he changed for basketball practice.
"I ran into a fist." That was the lamest excuse he'd ever heard, but Rukawa wasn't too hard on himself, as he didn't have any experience with coming up with excuses. Usually he just said whatever was on his mind and that would be good enough. However, things weren't working out like he expected them to these days.
"You ran into a…?" Kogure shook his head and laughed. "Had to be a huge fist. Did the fist belong to Sakuragi?"
"You stupid pretty boy." Sakuragi had growled at him.
"You idiotic, ugly bastard." Rukawa had chosen not to growl back, because then he would have opened himself up to ridicule concerning a certain animal.
"I hate you!"
"I've always hated you"
"Then why'd you kiss me?"
"Because you kissed me first."
"I hope you sprain your ankle before tomorrow's game."
"I also equally express my hopes that something horrific happens to you before tomorrow's game."
"You threatenin' me?"
"If that's what you want to call it."
"I'm gonna beat the livin' shit out of you." Sakuragi warned, but his own menacing declarations didn't seem to have the effect they once had, not when he came up to Rukawa and kissed him on the mouth right after.
This was really weird. Rukawa thought, as he reflected back on the last some weeks and what he'd done during those weeks.
They'd just won another match, which had them that much closer to the finals. It was enough to put a skip in his step--but not really, since he didn't consider himself the skipping type…maybe Kogure could take over there. He was satisfied with their overall performance and everything seemed perfect.
He heard Sakuragi still grumbling over by the referee on how he'd completely jipped him with those foul points.
"I had a good reason for hitting that guy." Sakuragi told Akagi, and Rukawa thought it wasn't a good idea to actually admit to the team captain that you hit a guy on purpose.
"Why, did he look at you funny?" Akagi said, rolling his eyes and calling over Ayako to relieve him of idiot duty.
"Well…not me exactly." Sakuragi sounded strangely unsure of himself, and then he glanced over at Rukawa and went red in the face.
Rukawa began to put two and two together. It should have pissed him off that Sakuragi was picking fights on his behalf, but for some reason, he wasn't angered. Just…weird.
"Fox-face doesn't have an intimidating aura like me, so people probably beat him up all the time." Sakuragi yelled so everyone in the vicinity could hear him, and Rukawa instantly forgot about the not being angry and turned his glare on the redhead.
Sakuragi backtracked. "Look at his face." Sakuragi pointed at him, like no one knew who Rukawa was. "He always looks sleepy and-and he's as pale as a ghost. His skin's kinda soft too-er not that I know. But it looks soft and it probably feels really good to punch a face like that--with soft skin."
Sakuragi excused himself.
Akagi, scratching his head at a conversation that should have had him decking the boy two-ways-to-Sunday at the end of it, felt completely thrown off that he hadn't been able to direct any of his stress at the red-head.
Rukawa taking a jump shot from behind the three point line, the ball curved in a beautiful arc before touching down in the basket and swishing through like silk.
Sakuragi had to admit it was a thing of beauty.
"Hey, gimme some pointers." Sakuragi asked, when Rukawa had come down from his three-pointer, feet touching down on the ground and hair still moving.
"You're a power forward, so it's not necessary for you to master the 3-pointer. You should just leave that to the rest of us." Rukawa walked over to him and gave him the ball. "You're job is to stick to the low post and guard that area."
"Low post?" Sakuragi asked, and scratched his head, because Akagi hadn't worded it that way.
"Your territory emcompasses the entire six feet from the basket. That's the area you control. That's why Akagi designated you for rebounds." Rukawa walked back to the three point line. "This entire court is my territory, since I'm a small forward."
"So you're there." Sakuragi pointed at him, "And I'm here." Sakuragi pointed to himself.
"You could look at it that way."
"Well can't you come a little closer since you get to go wherever the hell you want." Sakuragi threw after him. Rukawa frowned and rolled his eyes. "Every small forward has a different playing style, some are straight shooters and others are "bang inside" offensive players."
"Bang inside?" Sakuragi didn't know what it was about this, but he definitely liked the sound of it.
"Stop whatever it is your thinking about." Rukawa said as he circumvented the foul line. "Your goofy face is giving you away."
"You brought it up!" Sakuragi yelled, still sticking inside his territory as Rukawa followed the three point line around him.
"Bang inside means going straight for basket, not shying away from physical contact--"
"And you call me the perv."
"Ahem." Rukawa continued undaunted by Sakuragi's idiocy. "Where the small forward forces himself inside and does post up plays, like slam dunks or lay-ups." Rukawa stopped in front of Sakuragi, right out on the reach on the free throw line.
"Good for you." Sakuragi snipped. "But power forwards are still cooler. They control the rebound and that decides the game."
"Three pointers can decide a close game."
"Slam dunks are cooler."
"Free throws make for a more dramatic finish." Rukawa argued, and couldn't believe he was arguing about such a thing. "Like right when the buzzer calls and someone shoots a three pointer. It's called buzzer beaters and it can keep the crowd on their feet."
"Fine, then hurry up and teach me." Sakuragi whined and stomped over to the three point line. He held the ball underhand and his back was hunched over like he was trying to intimidate it.
"It's a three pointer, not a granny shot." Rukawa said, and he chuckled to himself because Sakuragi was a dumbass. "Straighten your back. You're posture's really bad." Rukawa placed his hand on the small of Sakuragi's back and pressed so Sakuragi would stop slouching. "Now when you shoot don't force it." Rukawa simulated shooting off, his hands holding the imaginary ball in the air, before he jumped up and took the shot. "It takes power both in the arms and legs, but since you have overabundance in both those areas," you oaf, Rukawa wanted to say, "You might overshoot. It'll hit the backboard and bounce off. We lose the ball." Rukawa said in his deadpan voice. "So get open, don't try to shoot a three pointer over anyone, just pass it."
"I thought you were teaching me how to shoot a three pointer?" Sakuragi grumbled.
"I'm teaching you how not to embarrass yourself when shooting a three pointer." Rukawa grumbled back.
"Bitch." Sakuragi mumbled.
"What did you ju-"
"So, what do I do next?" Sakuragi said, cutting him off without even blinking.
Rukawa collecting himself, continued on. "After you assess the situation and you're sure, line up the shot, focus on the alignment of the ball and the basket and then release."
"Okay, okay." Sakuragi said and forgot to do every, single thing that Rukawa had just told him to do. The ball bounced off the backboard and rolled off to the sidelines.
"You're a moron." Rukawa commented as he watched the ball roll away from Sakuragi, like it was indeed trying to get away from this hopeless idiot.
"I've got this three pointer thing in the bag." Sakuragi bragged. "Haruko-channnn!" Sakuragi called when he saw the girl in the hallway. He waved the brunette over. "Hey guess what I learned?" he told her and his face lit up like a kid in a candy store. Rukawa tried to escape when Sakuragi wasn't looking, but the other boy asked him 'where're you going, you stupid fox?' right when he started to inch away.
"Oh what did you learn?" Haruko asked, her eyes lighting up just like the idiot to the side of him. It wasn't hard to tell how much a basketball fanatic this girl was.
"I learned how to do three-pointers." Sakuragi told her proudly and puffed out his chest. "I'm getting greater and greater by the day. Bow plebians!" Sakuragi shouted suddenly to a passing crowd of boys who had nothing to do with his current ego trip. "I said bow!" Sakuragi projected and the boys did so.
Haruko laughed, but Rukawa could tell the girl was distracted by something. He caught her watching him and he wondered if he had something on his face.
Her cheeks got red and Rukawa was about to suggest that it was an easy thing to get heat stroke in the summer, so it was good to carry around a water bottle. This girl was Sakuragi's friend after all, it wouldn't hurt to be friends with her too."
"Hi Rukawa-kun." She said and her face got even redder.
He didn't know what to do, so he looked at her and something in his face seemed to make her meep and blush more.
"You're face's like a cement block." Sakuragi suddenly accused him. "You're scaring away Haruko-chan. Fix your face!" Sakuragi demanded and suddenly he had his hands on his cheeks and he was trying to stretch his face into a smile.
Rukawa punched the idiot in the nose.
"Yo, earth to foxface. You're gonna get deaf if you listen to those things any louder." Sakuragi yelled and Rukawa shrugged his shoulders and pretended not to hear him over the blast of his CD-player.
They were currrently in the indoor--thankfully airconditioned--basketball court a couple of blocks away from Rukawa's house. The one that was always busy on a Saturday whenever he came, but had suddenly become empty when Sakuragi had showed up and started threatening people left and right to clear out.
Sakuragi shook him on the shoulder. "Don't fall asleep there, or I'm leaving your ass and going to the arcade."
Rukawa was about to say that he was anything but asleep, but then he realized that his face always seemed to be anything but awake.
"You should drink coffee or somethin'" And then Sakuragi was holding out a canned coffee from the vending machine towards him. "Here, drink it and maybe you'll look like a human being."
Rukawa narrowed his eyes--or narrowed them more than they already were--got up, and brushed passed the dolt. "I don't like coffee." It was like his mortal nemesis. Rukawa and coffee did not go hand in hand together.
"Geez, just drink the crap. It's not gonna kill yuh…unless you're like allergic or somethin'. Are you allergic? Cus if you are, I wanna see yuh drink it even more."
"Asshole." Rukawa said and narrowed his eyes so much that they weren't even open anymore. Hmmm. If this kept up, he was going to fall asleep on his feet…again.
However a fist to the ribs abruptly jerked him awake. "Shit. Fine let's go. Don't look like you can practice any. I'll just take you home now." Sakuragi sulked and he shoved his hands down the side of his pants and waddled away.
"You have pockets you know." Rukawa commented, because he was always dumbfounded by the idiot and his habit of shoving his hands down his pants, and was it just him or did that sound very inappropriate.
"My hands are too big for pockets." Sakuragi grumbled and he continued to waddle in self-pity at his abandoned practice game.
They walked to Rukawa's house, which was in a pretty nice neighborhood, Sakuragi pointed out, and then when he reached his house, Sakuragi had whistled and commented on how nice his house was too.
"Well I'm off." Sakuragi saluted and then marched in the other direction.
"You could come in." Rukawa said, then realized that his sleepiness was making him say stupid things. "On second thought-"
"You got anything to eat. I'm starving. I skipped breakfast." Sakuragi belted out in what seemed like one word, and before Rukawa could even turn the knob, Sakuragi had charged through.
"Are you rich or somethin?" Sakuragi asked, now inside his house. Rukawa, by the way was still outside, as he had been so offput by Sakuragi's shitty manners that he hadn't moved an inch.
"Opps, I forgot to take off my shoes. I got mud all over your carpet. Anyway I'll be gone by the time your parents come home, so they'll automatically blame you for it." Sakuragi reasoned and then he disappeared into his kitchen.
"You fuck-head." Rukawa seethed and slammed his door shut behind him. This was the first and last time he was ever going to invite someone into his house. Never again.
"Oh tempura. I got a cravin' for these." He could hear Sakuragi say from his kitchen and he walked in to see the boy devouring the leftovers.
"After your finish, get out." Rukawa warned and walked back out of the kitchen and towards his bedroom.
Five minutes later, he heard someone stomping up to his door and then yanking it open. "Hey, is this your room?" Sakuragi questioned and then plopped himself down on his bed. "Who's that bald guy?" Sakuragi asked and finished off the riceball he had been eating.
"Bald guy?" Rukawa looked over to where Sakuragi was pointing and then had to quelch the urge to knock his lights out when his eyes lighted up on his Michael Jordan poster.
"You play basketball and you don't know who Michael Jordan is?"
"Tch. You got posters of guys in your room. How gay." Sakuragi said and kicked back on his bed.
"Get out." Rukawa seethed and was about to throttle this idiot within an inch of his life. The world would be thankful to him, really.
"What got your panties in a twist? Don't like me speakin' bad 'bout your boyfriend." Sakuragi nodded at the poster again.
Then Rukawa began to choke him.
"Aw jeez, you can't take a joke boy-lover." Sakuragi teased and Rukawa just wanted him to explode, or implode, or combust or all of the above.
It was at this time that Rukawa realized that they were both on his bed and that he was practically on top of Sakuragi. Rukawa ready to fix this, started to untangled his fingers from around Sakuragi's neck, but then the red-head faster than he was ever on the basketball court leaped forward and barreled into him, successfully pinning him to the bed.
"I'm not a powerforward for nothin'" Sakuragi grinned down at him and Rukawa without another word head-butted the idiot.
"Ow, motherfucker!!" Sakuragi despite the pain to his empty head, didn't rear back like Rukawa wanted him to, but instead head-butted him back. Holy crap he forgot what a hard head this imbecile had.
Rukawa hit the mattress with a thump, his head spinning, as he felt greater weight press down on him. "You just ruined my whole schedule for tha day. I was gonna play basketball, eat some ramen, and then sleep. But you just couldn't stay awake for our match, so I think you gotta make it up to me."
"I think you need to get off of me." Rukawa warned.
"Geez go ta sleep then. You big kangaroo." Well this was a new development. He was no longer a fox, but a kangaroo. How the hell did Sakuragi connect those two things together, Rukawa thougth he would never know. And neither did he care to know. "You don't need to be awake for this anyway." Sakuragi said and the way he said it, someone could easily pass it on as a completely innocent sentence, however…
"Get off me!" Rukawa hissed, and it was now time to panic because Sakuragi was a horny idiot.
"You're such a pansy." Sakuragi challenged, then he got him in some kind of headlock-bear-hug-thing and Rukawa thought that this was not the way you went about trying to have sex with someone.
Rukawa rolled over and took the redhead with him, the idiot now under him as his back was to Sakuragi's front. He tried to get out off the headlock, chokehold-whatever, Sakuragi had on him, but then the wrestling maniac--he watched wrestmania, Rukawa suspected he did--rolled back over so Rukawa was now on his stomach with a heavy Sakuragi on top of him.
"I'm going to call the police." Rukawa said and his voice was muffled by the sheets. "This is rape."
"If you can face the cops and tell them you got manhandled by another guy, by all means." Sakuragi said evilly and then began to pull off his pants.
Eh…he did have a point. Pride was on the line here.
Rukawa threw out his elbow and it connected with Sakuragi's jaw. "Ow, I bit my tongue!"
Heh. If Sakuragi could take all the abuse he planned for him, by all means try it. Rukawa thought with his own sense of justice.
Rukawa threw out his elbow again and nearly laughed outloud when Sakuragi said that he'd bitten his tongue again. Fucker deserved it.
"Cut it out!" Sakuragi whinned and rubbed his now swollen cheek.
Rukawa flung his head back and it connected with Sakuragi's nose. The teen coughing loudly and trying to keep his hold on the other boy.
"This is harder than I thought." Sakuragi admitted and Rukawa never said he wasn't going to put up a fight.
"It'll get harder if you don't get off me." Rukawa warned.
It was silent for a while. "Naw, it's already pretty hard." Sakuragi said and Rukawa suddenly had a sinking feeling that Sakuragi and him weren't talking about the same thing.
Rukawa suddenly felt his track pants yanked off of him and he frowned.
"I will kill you." Rukawa said.
"I'll kill you right back." Sakuragi answered and Rukawa could hear the other boy yanking off his T-shirt and shorts.
"I will kill you and bury you someplace where no one can find the remains."
"Not before I get to you." Sakuragi retorted and lowered himself on Rukawa.
"Ha, you're limping you stupid fox." Sakuragi said when Rukawa had stopped to tie his shoelaces, but actually really stopped to rest his legs.
"I'm still better at basketball than you." Rukawa retorted and it was the only thing that came to mind that could really get Sakuragi riled up. And let's just admit it, it was true. He was the more skilled player here.
"No you're not!" Sakuragi yelled and some birds squawked away by the echo that his shouting ensued. "I'm a genius. I'm the great Hanamichi Sakuragi and you should know that already." Sakuragi said and shoved his chest out, bragging like the idiot he was. "And you can't say I'm not great with the performance of a lifetime I gave yesterday." Sakuragi had an unholy glint in his eyes that told Rukawa he was recalling the horrible atrocity of daterape that had happened yesterday.
"I hate you." Rukawa found himself saying.
"So can I come over again?" Sakuragi asked out of the blue, twisting his pinky finger in his ear.
"You come within seventy feet of my house and I have the right to use self-defense." Rukawa had a taser in his room that he was especially saving for Sakuragi. Plus he just wanted to try it out for the hell of it. He'd also heard brass knuckles were the in thing this fall.
Sakuragi, sitting on the floor, sweat beading down his face from the afternoon sun and the previous match looked up at the sky. "I can't wait to reach the finals." Sakuragi said and punched his hand. "I'm gonna slam dunk so many points that the score boards are gonna have problems catching up."
Rukawa also sitting down next to Sakuragi and looking over at the redhead, noticing that optimistic grin on his face and the focus driven into those eyes found himself also internally agreeing with the infectious optimism that Sakuragi had.
Yeah. They were going to the nationals to wipe out the competition. It was a pact that had been made between Akagi, made between coach Anzai, between Kogure, between Ayako, between Miyagi and between Mitsui. And more importantly, it was a promise between the two of them, and the last thing they would ever do was back down from a pact, as either would never let the other live it down if he did.