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Laree's Slam Dunk Fanfiction
Family Ties
Part Fourteen

~**~

Shohoku High School
A few hours before

With the Kanagawa Regional Competition coming up in a couple of weeks, Akagi had become even more of a slave driver at practices, training sessions usually going on until long after the sun had set. So the fact that he actually dismissed the basketball club early that day, there was actually still sunlight when Rukawa walked out of the gym, puzzled everyone. Not that anyone complained. They were only too happy to be given a momentary reprieve from the flat out training that their captain had been doling out to them lately.

Now, Rukawa liked to think of himself as a dedicated athlete who was one hundred percent devoted to the sport that he loved. He had sacrificed more for basketball than he cared to think about, spare time that could have been better spent sleeping or lounging about the family room watching the Discovery Channel, which he found to be infinitely interesting.

Who didn't want to know about the mating rituals of cranes? His brother thought he was a pervert for watching such things, but who cared? Nobody knew about his secret, back up plan in the very, very improbable case that he should not succeed in basketball: he was going to be a zookeeper. That seemed to be the profession for him, since he thought animals would be a whole lot easier to get along with than people, people such as Sendoh Akira and Sakuragi Hanamichi. Still, that was only a back up plan.

He still intended to be, oh, he was aiming a little lower this time, Japan's best basketball player, being the world's best basketball player could come later. To do that, he would need practice, lots of it. And usually, he was only too happy to practice away like mad. But He didn't quite feel up to it that afternoon. He may be a star athlete with incredible potential, but he also just happened to be a lovesick teenage boy with some love problems that were very, very profound and important, in his opinion. And right then, that lovesick, teenage boy part of him was insisting that he go and lock himself in his room to brood over the dilemma that he was in and forget about his star athlete side that wanted him to go on practicing till he dropped.

His plans for an all out self-pity marathon flew completely out of his head, though, when he caught sight of a flash of red by one of the many trees lining the front lawn of Shohoku High School. Red. Red was always associated to Sakuragi in his mind. So Sakuragi was there, sitting against the tree. Once this realization hit him, he stopped in his tracks, pondering on what his next move should be.

The way he saw it, he had two options. The first was that he go and sit himself beside his teammate as though none of the Do'aho-Teme Kitsune exchanges had ever occurred in the past, and pretend that Hanamichi didn't hate him so that he could try and strike up a conversation. The second was that he just go right on back to his home and proceed to wallow in his self pity, like he had originally planned.

He would be taking a big chance if he took the first option. Worst-case scenario was that Hanamichi would cause him some sort of bodily harm for daring to come up to him, thereby rendering him incapable of playing in the Inter High. But Rukawa merely shrugged at this thought. Oh well. He had a back up plan in the case that he wasn't meant to play basketball for his living anyways. Kanagawa University offered a course on Zoology. Or he could always do what Mitsui had done and spend the rest of his miserable years in Shohoku running around with his own gang, only to make a big, incredible come back on his last year of High School once he had fully recovered.

Hanamichi was well worth the risk, in his opinion, and this was the best time to strike, while he and Sendoh weren't acting all disgustingly buddy-buddy with each other. He would be a fool if he gave this opportunity a miss.

Taking a deep breath to prepare himself, Rukawa slowly made his way to where his teammate was sitting, idly looking up into the sky as though he were searching for something within the clouds. Without a word, he dropped down onto the ground beside the redhead, leaning his back against the same tree that Hanamichi was sitting against. The notoriously hotheaded basketball player merely glanced at Rukawa, before returning to perusing the sky. But not before commenting, " This sure is sure is turning out to be a weird day…"

The fox eyed boy remained silent, not knowing what to say, or what Hanamichi might want to hear right then. Sure, he came with the intention of getting his teammate to see that he really wasn't as bad a person as he thought him to be. But that was way easier said that done. For one thing, Hanamichi hadn't given him an opening to start in on that line of conversation. He had merely made a comment on the weirdness of the day and Rukawa didn't know how he was supposed to bring up the 'hey, you know what, I'm really a pretty nice guy once you get to know me' line of conversation. He couldn't just suddenly blurt that out, could he?

Met with his dark haired companion's silence, Hanamichi pressed his lips tightly together in barely controlled annoyance. The Kitsune had come to him after all, had sought him out. The least that he could do was to provide some diverting conversation, no matter how trivial. But then again, what else could you expect from Rukawa? What he wouldn't have given to be on good terms with Mitsui again. At least that guy was always willing to talk in the occasions that Hanamichi just needed something to distract himself with. Rolling his eyes, the redhead plucked a blade of grass from the ground and proceeded to twist it around his index finger. His brow was furrowed in concentration as he fought hard to keep certain thoughts about certain spiky haired basketball players with devastatingly charming smiles out of his mind.

" What's wrong?"

Hanamichi's head shot up at the sound of those two words, his hazel eyes directed towards the unexpected speaker. Rukawa stared right back at him briefly with his own cold blue eyes, then diverted his gaze quickly to his lap once he saw the confusion and the surprise within the depths of those enchanting eyes. " Kitsune…"

Thinking that he might as well continue trying to persuade his companion to share whatever it was that was bothering him since he had already started with the whole reaching out process, Rukawa doggedly repeated his previous question. " What's wrong?" He knew that something was bothering the guy. After spending countless of hours observing Hanamichi and his behavior, it wasn't very hard for him to pick up on the guy's moods. And after having overheard Kogure's conversation with Akagi just a moment before, he thought he could take a pretty good guess as to what it was that had gotten his teammate so down. But he still wanted to hear it directly from Hanamichi.

" What the hell would you care?" Being the impulsive person that he was, Hanamichi blurted out the first thing that came to mind. But after a bit of thought, he regretted having snapped at Rukawa like that. Here the guy was, trying to actually act human for once and the first thing he did was to try and quash that attempt by acting like a bastard. Sure, Rukawa gave off the impression of being a cold, heinous, standoffish snob. But if there was one thing that Hanamichi had learned from the past few weeks, first impressions weren't always right. " Look, Rukawa. I'm sure that you must be a perfectly nice guy in your own, cold little way. And I appreciate you being here and all. But, no offense or anything, you're not exactly the type of guy that I would like to have a serious discussion with…"

" Why?"

" Well…because you wouldn't understand…" How could anyone ever understand the intense, mind numbing pain that he was experiencing right then after Sendoh's cold dismissal, least of all this emotionless block of ice sitting on the grass beside him.

" Why do people always assume that I wouldn't understand?" Rukawa murmured, more to himself than to Sakuragi. That was something that had always puzzled him. Sure, he wasn't renowned when it came to his people skills, but he was human. He also had feelings, hard as that may be to believe. And though he seriously doubted that he understood all the mixed emotions within him any more than Hanamichi might understand whatever it was that was bothering him, he sincerely wanted to help. He didn't like seeing Hanamichi this way.

" Maybe because people perceive you as an emotionless block of ice?" Hanamichi answered, in spite of the fact that Rukawa hadn't been expecting any answers to his question. "Face it, Rukawa. Nothing can get a rise out of you. You don't react to anything, except maybe once in a while when I manage to piss you off. How can you expect to be taken into other people's confidence when you act like a snooty, uncaring bastard all of the time?"

" Am I acting like that now?"

" A little bit, maybe. But surprisingly enough, you're being quite decent." Hanamichi admitted reluctantly as he dug his hands into the lush grass. He risked a glance at Rukawa, who was still studiously avoiding his gaze. He could gather nothing from his facial expression, which was basically non-existent.

" See. So try me. See if I can understand after all."

" I seriously doubt that you will."

" Why?" The cool, calm questioning was beginning to get to Sakuragi. He could tell by the way that the redhead was gently banging his head against the trunk of the tree that they were both leaning against.

Finally, the head banging ceased and softly, so softly that Rukawa had to lean in close to hear him, Hanamichi whispered. " Because you've never fallen in love before, Rukawa. So don't think you can understand what I'm going through right now…"

A few moments of silence met this proclamation. In his mind, Rukawa knew exactly who it was that the object of his desire had fallen in love with, but he still stubbornly refused to believe it, still hoping against hope that maybe there was still a bit of a chance for him. After all, hadn't it been progress enough that he was actually sitting next to Hanamichi talking to him instead of exchanging insults with him? " What makes you think that?"

" Because you haven't, have you?" Hanamichi asked uncertainly, unable to imagine the cold-blooded Kitsune having any other feeling towards another person other than rivalry.

" I have…" And he wished that he could just blurt out that it was him that he had fallen in love with. But he couldn't do that. Not after having gone this far. Not after he actually had Hanamichi talking to him.

" Oh. Good for you, then." And to his surprise, Hanamichi actually meant it. In his opinion, everyone should have someone to love, even emotionless blocks of ice, as he had previously described his teammate. " Well, I just hope that things are going better for you than they're going for me…"

Rukawa snorted at this comment, thinking over the pathetic excuse that was his non-existent love life. At least in Hanamichi's case, the person that he cared for actually reciprocated his feelings, though he might not have been aware of that right then.

" From that reaction, I'm guessing that things are going pretty badly for you right now too, huh?" The redhead had begun to feel a strange, and wholly unexpected sense of kinship with Rukawa. Though he still felt that the fox-eyed boy would not be able to understand the kind of situation that he was in. " But I'm telling you right now, that your love life cannot get any more depressing than mine…"

" Who are you to judge, do'aho?" Thankfully enough, Hanamichi chose to ignore his sudden lapse back into the whole name calling ritual.

" You're going to have a really hard time beating my sob story, Rukawa. I'm telling you right now…" Hanamichi smirked, before taking a deep breath and plunging right into things before he chickened out. He didn't even bother to think of the consequences of revealing all of his feelings to Rukawa like this. All he wanted was to get it all out so that he could get on with his life. He needed someone to tell him that he was being stupid; Rukawa had always been more than willing to do this in the past. He needed someone to tell him that he just had to get on with his life, whether or not Sendoh wanted him. " All right, picture this worst case scenario. This guy has had a couple of relationships before. One that was completely whacked and one that was actually quite good, but which ended with the couple deciding to just remain friends after they realized that they were just way too combustible together to ever be able to work out.

" This last one, Rukawa. That one really hit him hard, though he would never, ever admit it to Mitsui…" Realizing his slip up, Hanamichi blushed a bright red, but eventually continued after the fox-eyed boy made no visible reaction to the mention of their senior. "So anyways, he thought that he was okay with things. That he was getting on nicely with life. And then suddenly, the ex that he had really, really cared for starts going out with someone else, a friend of his. He sees how sweet the two are with each other and he gets jealous. He wanted that. Why couldn't he have had that with his old boyfriend before?

" As far as he could see, there was no one around who he would ever be able to love as much as he had loved his old boyfriend, and then suddenly, out of the blue, some guy comes along and he falls for him, slowly, but surely. Even though lots of things between them go wrong at first.

" Like for example, he had somehow deluded himself into thinking that he was in love with some girl, just so that he could take his mind off his ex. He got it into his head that the new guy was making a move on the girl that he thought he liked, and after that, he started avoiding him, ignoring him because he believed that he was angry at him for hitting on the girl that he thought that he was in love with when in truth, he was just angry that the guy was paying attention to the girl instead of him. Are you getting this?"

Rukawa nodded brusquely. Of course he was. Hadn't he been the one to set up the whole Sendoh-Haruko episode?

" But they finally managed to get past that once the guy explained everything to him and asked him out on a date with him. He accepted, of course, and he was incredibly, ecstatically happy, because after such a long, long time of waiting, it finally seemed as though he had found the one." Still finding the ability be humorous even while in the middle of telling his story, Hanamichi said the last two words in a low, hushed rather reverent tone as he had observed other people doing whenever they spoke of such things. " People always talk about finding the one, but that's really much harder to do than all of the romantic movies make it seem. But he knew. He just knew, that this was the perfect guy for him.

" He thought that the guy cared for him. Maybe even…loved him. But he was wrong. The night before the big date, he was so excited that he couldn't keep still. So he went to a court near his home to try and work off some steam. He was there for a while, then his ex boyfriend, who had grown to be really good friends with the guy that he had fallen for, suddenly made an appearance and told him that the date was off. Just like that. He didn't even do it face to face. He just got someone else to do if for him instead of facing me on his own…" Hanamichi's words trailed off and he didn't even realize that he had stopped telling the story as though it were about someone else. Not that it mattered much anyways since he knew that Rukawa knew that he had been the guy in the story that he had just recounted. " Is that sad, or what, Kitsune?"

Rukawa shrugged. He had known pretty much everything that Hanamichi had just told him, except for the Mitsui breaking the date off with him part. " It is… Let me just ask you something though, Sakuragi." He paused, wondering briefly how the redhead would react to the following question. "How can you be so sure that Sendoh is the one?"

Hanamichi's head snapped up at the sound of the name. " Who said I was talking about Sendoh?"

" I live with him, remember. I'd be an idiot not to notice the way he fawns over you." And Sendoh was plenty loud when it came to declaring his feelings about Hanamichi while they were at home. The redhead's name was out of the guy's mouth at least every five seconds. "Humor me. Answer my question."

" You're being awfully talkative today, Rukawa. Aren't you over your day's word usage quota already?"

" I've found that not talking can sometimes be a disadvantage." Rukawa replied simply. If he didn't act so damn cold, if he was all friendly and bubbly like Sendoh was, would Hanamichi have liked him better then? But there was nothing he could do about the way he acted. He was too used to being his silent self and he felt that it was just too late for him to try and change. That it would take too much out of him to. " Now tell me."

How could he be sure that Sendoh was the one? The question seemingly repeated itself over and over in his mind. How could he be sure? Well…Hanamichi didn't know if he could ever be really sure. He just believed, as Mitsui did, that you just had to trust your gut feelings in these matters and right now, his gut feelings were telling him that Sendoh was the one. As much as he might wish for that to not be the case right then…" This is going to sound stupid, Rukawa. But I just know. I know because being without Sendoh like this…hurts me. I know that I should hate him for what he did, that gutless, spineless bastard. But I don't. I don't hate him. I just want him to change his mind. I…want to be with him… Because it hurts when I'm not. And I know this, because you don't understand just how hard it was for me to keep myself away from him that time when I thought that he was trying to make a move on Haruko… I had to struggle with myself every day then, keep reminding myself that I hated him, even though deep inside, I knew that I loved him…"

Hanamichi turned those captivating hazel eyes towards him, as though expecting something. Ridicule, some sort of comment about how no one would ever be able to love a do'aho. But Rukawa was too deep in his thoughts about what his companion had just said to notice this.

He had said that he was hurting. Hurting because of Sendoh and his sudden change of heart. He had been the one that had brought about that change in the redhead's love interest so basically, he was the one that was causing Hanamichi's suffering. And he was suffering plenty, from what Rukawa could see.

Throughout the afternoon's practice, the redhead had been despondent and had played half heartedly, a big change from his usual, flat out style of ball playing. It just didn't seem right to see Hanamichi like that. And now that his suspicions had been confirmed, and he knew the cause of the redhead's strange behavior, he was beginning to feel ashamed of himself. He hadn't known that Hanamichi had cared so deeply for Sendoh. He didn't think that anyone could love the spiky haired nuisance as much as this guy obviously did. But if he had just known, if he had just been aware of how much his annoying stepbrother had meant to Hanamichi from the start, then he wouldn't have done what he had done. He would have let things be, because he had never meant for Hanamichi to be this unhappy. He had thought that he would be doing the guy a favor by cutting things with the smiley hentai short, when apparently his actions had only hurt him. It was actually beginning to sink into his mind that Hanamichi really wanted Sendoh over him. This had seemed unbelievable to him at first. Now it was painfully obvious, from the way that the guy was pining for his rival.

But it couldn't be too late to fix things yet…

" Listen to me. Don't interrupt me. Don't punch me out until I finish with what I have to say." Rukawa instructed Hanamichi as for the first time since he had sat himself down beside him; Rukawa met the redhead's gaze steadily. Seeing the earnest look on his companion's face, Hanamichi merely nodded and kept quiet as Rukawa plunged right on with his speech. " You want to hear a sob story, listen to mine. From the very first moment that I ran into this guy, I fell in love with him. He was everything that I wasn't, my complete opposite in every way. But I thought that that was a good thing. That he would compliment me. The only problem was that, from the second that the guy first laid eyes on me he hated me. He hated the very sight of me. And there was nothing that I could do to change his impression of me. I was always the Kitsune to him. His enemy."

Hanamichi's eyes widened and Rukawa knew that his companion, who was notoriously slow on the uptake, had gotten his indirect confession. " Rukawa…"

" You promised not to interrupt." Rukawa reminded him, his tone clipped and businesslike. His eyes narrowed, daring Hanamichi to try and say anything further.

" This really isn't the time for this…"

"Shut up and listen to me, do'aho. You were the one who started me talking, so now you're the one who has to hear me through." He punched Sakuragi on the shoulder, not hard enough to really hurt but just enough to show him that he was serious and could inflict a lot more damage if he so desired. " So I just went right on acting like I felt nothing but contempt and reciprocated hatred for this guy, even though inside, I just wished that he would maybe learn to just like me one day.

" I've always been a very competitive kind of person, I think that that's a pretty good thing, though sometimes, I do admit that I get to be a little too much." Rukawa pointedly ignored the derisive snort from Hanamichi upon hearing that comment. " And I've always had some…well, competitiveness induced hatred for Sendoh Akira just because…well, he's better than me. I know that he is and I hate it, because I'm not used to being just second best in basketball. It's really the only thing that I'm good at. I suck with people. I suck in school. Basketball is the one thing that I can actually excel in. So imagine what it's like for me to know that there's someone out there who is not only better than me within my field of expertise, but in all other things. He's more sociable. He's smarter than me. He's perfect…"

" Sendoh has his faults. Like all people." If anyone had told Hanamichi that he would be comforting the hated Kitsune like this just the day before, he would have died of laughter, but then he had never thought it possible that his rival would be sharing something this personal and important like this.

" But I have more. And that's what bothers me. So I guess you can understand how horrified I was when my father met Sendoh's mother and they first started going out. Things just got worse from there and they got married so the Sendohs had to move in. I had to share a room with Sendoh and he was forced to transfer to Shohoku because Ryonan was just too far away for it to be convenient for him. Then he met you and he was able to do something that I was never able to, as usual. He managed to befriend you within just a few minutes when I had known you far longer than him and we still couldn't get past the whole insult-exchanging phase." Rukawa shrugged. He guessed that some people were just naturally blessed with social skills, while he, unfortunately, had been cursed by a lack of it. " That was the last straw for me, Sakuragi. I just couldn't believe that now, I even had to compete with him off court as well as on. And because of this, I did some pretty desperate and…mean things. After seeing how much they've affected you, I realize now that they were wrong and that I've been stupid. You'll hate me after this, but that's all right. I can live with that, I guess. After all, you've hated me all this time. Nothing would have changed. It was me and everything is my fault."

" Oh, come on, Rukawa. You had nothing to do with this…"

" It was me that put that idea into your head about Sendoh and Haruko. He was just talking to her, asking her about you and your relationship with her but I got you thinking that he was hitting on her so that you would hate him." Rukawa went on hurriedly, afraid that he would lose his nerve and be unable to continue with his confession. His gaze was fixed on his lap. He didn't think he would be able to bear seeing the hate in Hanamichi's eyes. " I told Sendoh that you were homophobic so that he would be afraid to approach you. I made him so miserable at home that I guess he just got sick of it and thought that it would just be better for him to stop things with you so that I would let up on him. I was…really being horrible, Sakuragi, not only to Sendoh, but to his little brother and sister as well. His family really means a lot to him, you know. He loves those two. So I guess that he just broke things off with you, thinking that I would be easier on them if I got what I wanted, which was you…"

" Why?"

"Why did I do those things? Because…I love you… And I was desperate. I didn't want to be beaten by Sendoh again. I wanted to prove that I could get something that he couldn't. But…Sakuragi, don't get me wrong. It wasn't just about the competition. The factor that really pushed me to do those things the most was my love for you…"

Hanamichi shook his head slowly, still trying to absorb all that the dark haired boy had just told him. " I don't mean that. I mean why are you telling me all of this now? If you wanted me to like you, then you would have been better off just keeping all of this to yourself and not letting me know. You realize now that I'm probably going to hate you for ruining something this important for me. I haven't decided yet whether I hate you or not right now because I'm still in shock and I'm still trying to understand everything. But later on, I'm probably going to end up beating you senseless…"

" I would deserve it…"

" You would. But…why, Rukawa?"

" Because I love you."

" Bull shit."

" Because I love you." Rukawa insisted stubbornly, in spite of the redhead's obvious scorn. " And seeing you hurt like that over Sendoh, seeing you hurting because of what I had done…I just don't want you to be sad. I love you, and I want you to be happy. And if being with Sendoh makes you happy… then I guess I'll have to deal with that. I can cope with that a lot better than having to cope with seeing you all miserable and depressed, the way that you were today…"

" Rukawa…"

" Yeah?"

" I've decided…" Hanamichi told him softly.

" About what?"

The redhead sighed. " I…don't hate you. I want to kick you in the ass for all the stunts that you pulled and I'm really, really angry at you right now, but I don't hate you. Who knows, maybe after I've gone over this whole, miserable mess a couple of times, I might actually forgive you and we might…well, become friends. It might be a good idea to stay out of my sight for a bit this next week or so. I've never really been known for my self control."

" I understand that. But…what about Sendoh?"

Hanamichi shrugged.

" He really does care for you, you know…"

" What he did hurt."

" But being without him hurts you even more." As much as he loathed to do this, he owed it to Hanamichi. " Are you going to be at your house later on tonight?"

" Since my big date is off, yeah." Hanamichi replied, his bitterness obvious in his tone of voice.

" Then wait there. It's time I made amends. But I'm not doing this for Sendoh. I'm doing this because of you…"

~**~

" Just because I'm letting you inside my house, doesn't mean I've forgiven you for what you've done, you jerk." Hanamichi informed the spiky haired boy that trailed after him as he made his way into the tiny living room of the apartment that he shared with his elder brother. He dropped down onto an armchair and watched with narrowed eyes as Sendoh lowered himself onto the couch across from him.

" I deserve that."

" You do!" Hanamichi agreed adamantly. " Callous bastard. Getting my ex-boyfriend to break off a date with me like that…" the redhead went on mumbling about insensitive, spiky haired idiots who he hoped were going to burn in hell.

" I admit that that was a horrible, horrible thing that I did…"

" I bet you didn't break things off with Koshino like that." Hanamichi remarked, enjoying the obvious discomfort of his companion.

" No…Hanamichi-kun. He was the one that broke it off. He pushed me off the pier while I was fishing, so just be thankful that I'm not inclined towards violence like him."

" I'd like to push you off the pier right now, and hold you down under the water until you die."

" You can do that, after you hear me out, all right, Hanamichi-kun?" And despite of himself, the redhead found himself incapable of resisting the pleading look on the older boy's face. Hanamichi simply nodded for him to go on. " That was a very cowardly thing that I did, getting Mitsui involved in all of this. I'm really, really sorry for doing that. More sorry than you could ever imagine. Hanamichi-kun, if we come out of this with you still hating me, that's all right with me as long as you forgive Mitsui-kun. It really wasn't his fault. I begged him, and begged him to do it until he just agreed. Please. Don't hold my stupidity against Mitsui-kun. You mean so much to him, and I know that he's one of your best friends too."

" Mitsui's always been an idiot…"

" Please forgive me for the crude way that I broke our date off…" Sendoh winced, running his hands agitatedly though his gelled up hair as he was reminded of what had probably been the stupidest move he had ever made in his life. " It must have made you think that I cared for you so little that I couldn't have even bothered to tell you face to face that things were off. It was stupid of me to give you no reason. But Hanamichi-kun, you would be wrong to think that. The reason why I didn't want to break things off personally was because I was afraid that I would give in to myself with you in front of me and fail to do what I had come to do once I was faced with you…

" As for the reason…you have to understand that my family is very important to me. Ever since my father…killed himself, I've sworn to make things as easy for Naoko-chan and Totoya-chan as I could and when we came to the Rukawa household, things just went badly with Kaede. They got even worse when I got involved with you, I think you're already aware of Rukawa's feelings for you by now, and I just wanted it all to stop. I wanted my mother to stop worrying about my relationship with Kaede. I just wanted some peace at the house, and I thought that I would get some if I broke things off with you because then Kaede would be happy." Sendoh's voice lowered, his warm blue eyes fixed hesitantly onto Hanamichi's. " But what is peace without you around to liven things up? I've talked to Kaede. He still doesn't like me. But I think that he's more willing to accept the idea of me with you now. I don't know what it was that made him come around like this, but I thank God that he did. Because after sampling life with you not around, I've found that it's pure misery. I couldn't do anything without thinking of you."

Hesitantly, Hanamichi admitted, " Same here…" And upon hearing those words, one of Sendoh's mega watt smiles magically bloomed onto his face.

" So what I basically came here to ask you, Hanamichi-kun," His tone of voice was considerably perkier now, more like the old Sendoh that the redhead knew and yes, loved. "Is if you would consider maybe going out on a date with me. Right now. God forbid that there be any delays after I've been waiting so long! I realize that it's sort of late and that we're not exactly dressed for the fancy restaurant that I booked a reservation for, but what the hell! There's always the fine cuisine at Danny's! What do you say, Hana-kun?" Sendoh bounded to his feet and offered his hand to Hanamichi, who took it willingly.

" I say that that sounds gre-" Before he could even finish, Sendoh had already pulled him against him for a deep, passionate kiss where they let out all of their pent up longing and frustration of the past few days, and celebrated the long awaited coming together of two people who, just moments before, had thought it was all over for them.

Eventually, Sendoh broke the kiss, breathless though he still did not let go of his hold on Hanamichi. " I've been waiting a long time to do that…"

" Hmm…me too…" Hanamichi murmured, nuzzling up against Sendoh and wrinkling his nose in disgust as he caught a whiff of the guy he was cuddling up to. " God, Sen-chan. Have you even showered since we had practice? You stink."

" You're ruining the moment here…" Sendoh muttered, slightly put out by the untimely comment. Trust Hanamichi to be blunt even at a romantic time like this… " I was distracted, all right?"

" Well, we're not going out until I spray some cologne on you…"

" Do whatever you like with me Hana-kun…But…I have to ask you something…"Sendoh placed a gentle kiss against Hanamichi's lips before pulling back so that he could look into the redhead's eyes as he spoke. " Do you remember the day when I asked you out and I told you that I had fallen in love with the sweetest, most amusing person that I had ever had the pleasure of knowing? That I had found the person that I wanted to share the rest of my life with, no matter how ridiculous that may sound since I'm only seventeen…" [1]

" Yeah…" Hanamichi vaguely recalled Sendoh saying something like that.

" You wanted to know who it was that I was talking about, and I told you that I would tell you when the right time comes. Well, now's the right time…" Sendoh's grin widened as his arms around Hanamichi tightened their hold even more. He leaned in close so as to whisper his next words into the redhead's ear. " It's you Hanamichi. And if you haven't figured that out yet until now, then there has just got to be something wrong with you…"

~**~ The End ~**~

I've been waiting to write 'The End' for a long, long time at the end of this ficcy…Heehee.

Wow. I can't believe this. I finally finished this fic T___T The longest that I've ever written. And It took me nearly a year too… *wipes away tears of joy* Heehee…This was, I believe, the fourth Slam Dunk fic that I've written and though there are some parts that I would like to maybe re-write later on, I'm very proud of this and the fact that I've managed to finish it…Heehee. ^_____^ anyway, tell me what you think of the ending. ^___^ Next mission is to finish The Matchmaker @__@ Heehee…



[1] This happened at Part Seven. One of my favorite Hana acting dumb chapters…Heehee…

Concluded June 13, 2002
5:34 A.M

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