It Was The Dark

It was the dark.

Winter was coming soon; which meant trudging home in the dark, a warm scarf wrapped around the neck. It meant girls hugging their boyfriends tight, hands entwined under woollen gloves. It meant caf├ęs were filled with customers demanding hot chocolate, dark as sin and oozing with warmth.

Mitsui Hisashi's lips curled. How positively nauseating.

He shared this with his friends, who snickered as they raised beer bottles to their lips. Now that was a better way to stay warm.

He went home with a wonderfully light head, the shadows of sleep consuming him soon after.

It was the dark.

Mitsui woke up late, just as the sun had sunk into its own slumber. He grabbed a light coat, muttering a terse goodbye to his tight-lipped mother as he slammed the front door. Then he went looking for his friends.

He came across them at the beach, aiming their trash at a dustbin. He watched them with an unreadable expression as they failed to make the shots; either falling short or going long. The rubbish that did go in was out of sheer dumb luck.

He kicked the trashcan over before they left on roaring motorbikes.

It was the dark.

Mitsui was stumbling home when he found he was in front of Shohoku High. He hadn't been to school in ages. Despite himself, he went in.

The gymasium was strangely quiet at night. No feet pumping the floor, no basketballs swishing through the net. Mitsui wandered the expanse of the basketball court; walked a path that consisted of the painted white lines that once told him where he belonged on court. And then he abruptly left, the sight of the place stirring a strange ache in his chest.

But he came back the next night and the next; a ghost haunting the place of his past. He cleaned the basketballs one night. Mopped the floor the next. He tidied the locker room, threw out the rubbish, scrubbed the grime away.

It was the dark when he came across a tall, young boy playing basketball in the gym.

Mitsui's hands clenched as shoes squeaked on the floor. "Hey! I just cleaned it yesterday!" He wished Tetsuo was here to help him punch in the little punk's face. But then Mitsui would have to explain why he was here himself.

The pale boy looked over his shoulder at Mitsui. Then he shrugged and went back to shooting hoops.

Mitsui grudgingly had to admit that the boy was good; really good.

It was the dark.

Every other night, Mitsui watched the boy play. There was no acknowledgement of each other's presence. It was just a matter of who happened to be there first.

The younger boy broke the silence.

"Do you want to play?"

The basketball was being held out to Mitsui.

The long-haired boy stared at the orange sphere, battling longing and resentment.

Then he looked away. "No."

It was the dark.

"I haven't seen you around. You're a student here?"

The boy paused, twirling the basketball on a long finger.

"I will be, when I finish junior high."

Mitsui cocked his head. "So you're going to be a freshman next year. What's your name?"

The pale boy met Mitsui's gaze head on.

"Rukawa. Rukawa Kaede."

It was the dark.

Rukawa watched the flare of Mitsui's cigarette glow orange in the dark.

Mitsui sighed in satisfaction, gushing a meandering river of grey in the still night air.

"You wanna try?"

The innocuous white stick was offered to Rukawa.

He grimaced. "No."

Mitsui observed the expression of distaste on Rukawa's face.

He put out the cigarette.

It was the dark.

"You like basketball."

Mitsui snarled at the off-hand remark. It wasn't so simple.

Rukawa's eyebrows arched. The basketball in his hand came hurtling towards Mitsui.

The blue-haired boy caught it easily.

"Show me what you got." The challenge was temptingly uttered.

Mitsui glared at Rukawa. The basketball fell from his hands and rolled away.

It was the dark; cold and unfeeling.

Struck with lonesomeness, Mitsui stared at the bight lights as they sat on the rooftop side by side.

Rukawa's eyes were heavy as he yawned. "Why do you come here?"

They were so close.

Mitsui glanced at him. "Why do you?"

He could feel the heat from Rukawa's plain blue shirt.

Rukawa shrugged. "I live nearby. No one at home, so I come here."

Rukawa squinted at Mitsui's blank face. "You didn't answer me. Why do you come here?"

Mitsui glared. "I don't know."

And then, he was leaning towards Rukawa's startled mouth.

The punch came all of a sudden, and Mitsui fell backwards.

Rukawa glared. "I don't even know your name."

Mitsui smirked; the situation feeling oddly surreal.

"You don't need to know. Come here, pretty boy."

It was the dark; empty and lonely.

It was the dark that disguised the two figures writhing on the cold, cold floor. It obscured the faces; two nameless faces of two nameless people. In the dark, no one had names. They had gasps and screams, groans and grunts. There was never the need for names when all that was needed was the sounds of encouragement and pleading. Desperation, even.

It would be the first and last time.

It was the dark.

Mitsui lay awake, watching the soft moonlight filtering in through the hospital blinds.

His tongue swept his mouth, checking the gap where his front teeth were supposed to be.

Mitsui scowled as he remembered Miyagi's assault. For a little man, his punches sure hurt.

He hadn't been to the gym for a while. He couldn't.

At least he would be skipping school for a few weeks.

Oh, and the basketball team got suspended from competing.


Spring was coming.

He briefly wondered if Rukawa would join the basketball club.

It was the dark.

"Mit-su-i Hi-sa-shi. So that's your name."

It was dragged out, syllable by syllable.

Mitsui turned to find Rukawa's silhouette in the door frame. "Hey. Haven't seen you around in a while."

Rukawa's eyes glinted. "Well, apparently you've been in hospital for quite some time. Our point guard took you out."

Little punk.

"Yes, he did," Mitsui replied evenly, watching as Rukawa's figure advanced towards him.

"So you play basketball. You're a good long-range shooter. You're a former MVP. You got the team suspended last year; tried to do the same this year just because you used to have a bum knee and you didn't want anyone else to play. How selfish," Rukawa drawled. "Is there anything else I should know?"

Mitsui's smile was weak. "Erm, I missed you, too?"

"Don't you give me that." Rukawa's voice was like a whip cracking in the air. "My head still hurts, no thanks to you. You set that idiot on me."

Mitsui glanced at the bandage around Rukawa's head. "I'm sorry. I didn't expect Ryu to really hit you with the mop; he's always been the meek one."

Rukawa's lips curled. "So you have to go around pretending to be all macho and shite just because you're a wannabe gangster? How stupid. Thank god I managed to punch you."

"It wouldn't be the first time you have," Mitsui recalled, grinning wickedly. "I think we rather enjoyed it too, didn't we?"

Rukawa snorted. "Please, spare me. I don't want to remember."

Mitsui shrugged. "So we'll be team-mates now, huh? That will be a little weird." His voice softened. "I really did miss you, you know."

Rukawa's shoulders slumped. "We can't," he said feebly as Mitsui closed in.

"No, we can't," Mitsui agreed, even as he leaned in for a kiss.

It was the dark.

AN: I have gone mad. I don't get how my mind managed to even come up with this/