Note: This fic was written in line with episode 89 (I'm not sure...) of Slam Dunk entitled "The Formidable Rukawa Kaede." So I suggest that before you read this story, try to remember what happened in that episode so you'll be able to understand this better. This is somewhat a different ending for SD...heheh!!

Disclaimer: I do not own Slam Dunk. It's Takehiko Inoue's.

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Love and Ambition

All he thinks about is basketball. All along, he never had me in his heart...

Rukawa dribbled the ball using the speed changing strategy. He imagined that Sendoh was there, trying to block him and prevent him from shooting. He did a fake move then ran towards the inner court. He jumped and slammed the ball right into the basket. BAM! Another powerful dunk from the super rookie and ace of the Shohoku Basketball Team. He wiped the sweat above his lips with the back of his hands as he panted heavily. He went to pick up the ball. He was about to go and make another shot when he saw a person sitting on a chair beside the other door of the gym.

How long has she been there? Have I been too busy here that I didn't notice her presence?

He glared at the girl who was staring at him since God-knows-when. She ignored his sharp looks and continued staring at him, as if she was in a trance. Looks like she hadn't even notice the glares she was getting from him. She looks like she was daydreaming or something. And if Rukawa hadn't seen her blue eyes following his move as he went back to the inner court, he would have thought that she was lost in her own world.

Is she alright? Why is she looking at me as if I'm a specimen she is scrutinizing? She can watch if she likes but she can do it without staring at my every move. He rolled his eyes. Oh, what the hell! What do I care anyway?

He ignored her and started playing again. He did it for a few more minutes until he felt that he couldn't continue anymore. He went beside the court where his bag was located. She was still there. He almost forgot about her.

I'm done practicing now. You can go home.

He got his things and proceeded to the locker room. He took a bath in one of the shower rooms there. When he finished freshening himself up, he got out of the locker room and walked towards the door. He noticed the girl, still in the same position as he last saw her.

Crap!

He stopped in front of her.

"Oi."

The girl looked up, surprised.

"I'm locking the gym now."

"Ah, gomen ne, Rukawa-kun." She stood up and went outside, followed by Rukawa. When they were already outside, she stopped and faced him. "I'm going now, Rukawa-kun." She bowed down to him.

Rukawa just nodded then turned his back on her. When he finished locking the gym, he rode on his bike and proceeded to go home.

He was pedaling his way out of the campus when he noticed someone walking ahead of him. He narrowed his eyes to see clearly who it was since it was already dark and the person was a bit far from him and his bike.

When he was close enough, he was able to see the person and even recognized her.

Her again? Why do I always run into her?

The girl was walking in the middle of the road. Rukawa was contemplating on seeing her again he hadn't notice that he was coming towards her. When he realized this, he quickly made a stop and was able to call her attention ("Oi!"), but too late. She turned around but was shocked to see a bicycle coming towards her. He stumbled on her and he was sent flying forward, his butt hitting the ground hard. He scratched the back of his head. Good thing there wasn't any post there or he might as well go to the hospital first. He looked at the girl. She was half-sitting, half-lying on the ground. He quickly stood up to help her get up.

"Are you alright?"

The girl looked up. "Ah, Rukawa-kun, it's you," she said lamely. She looked sick. She didn't wear that smile that he used to see her with. She also didn't have the same sparkle in her eyes that she usually has, especially when she sees him. Her eyes, staring at his cold ones, looked sad, as if she was in pain. "Gomen ne, I didn't see you. I'll go now."

She turned around and started to walk. Rukawa just stared at her, confused. What's wrong with her? And even before he could stop himself, he already called her.

"Haruko..."

Haruko looked at him. "Hai, what is it, Rukawa-kun?"

Rukawa didn't know what to say. He just stared at her. He didn't even know why he called her. Maybe because he was not used to her attitude. He knew her to be a cheerful girl. But now, as he looked at her, he could see sadness in her aura, particularly in those beautiful, blue eyes. Strange, but he felt concern for her. But he dismissed it quickly.

"Ah, n-nothing..."

He didn't know if it was just his imagination, but he thought he saw a flick of pain in her eyes after what he had just said. Nevertheless, she tried to put a smile on her face. A forced one. "Oh, okay then. I'll go now..."

"Uh..." Rukawa, not having a single clue on what to say, just nodded.

Haruko looked at him for a while, as if she was waiting for something. Then she smiled and walked away.

Rukawa followed her with his eyes. Something stirred deep inside him but before he could even know what it is, he again dismissed it quickly and rode on his bike to go home.

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"SHOHOKUUU!!! FIGHT!"

"OH!"

Akagi faced his teammates. "You did well today. You all deserve a good rest. You can all go home now."

"Hai! Arigatou!" Everyone in the team bowed down to their captain. Then they all went to the locker room to freshen themselves up. Everyone was exhausted, but was satisfied and happy with the result of today's practice. The team now puts extra efforts during their practice sessions as a preparation for the InterHigh games. All of them are thoroughly practiced by their captain and coach. Even the usual benchwarmers are required to practice heavily.

It was noisy outside the locker room. Everyone was happy because finally, they can rest their tired bodies. One by one, they went to the shower rooms.

Rukawa turned the shower on. He lifted his face up and let the cold water fall on his body.

What is happening to her?

As much as he didn't want to admit, he is concerned about Haruko. He didn't know why, he just did. Awhile ago, when he entered the gym for practice, he didn't admit but he was looking for her. And when he didn't see her, he became more worried. He was worried about her because of what he saw last night. He thought she has a problem and was scared that something bad might happen to her, or worse, she might do something bad to herself that's why she wasn't there to watch.

And when he saw her entering the gym, his heart gave a sigh of relief, although he continued worrying because from the looks on her face, it meant she hasn't gotten over her problem yet, whatever that was. He was shocked with himself. He had never felt anything like that for a girl. Again, he decided to ignore her. But for some strange and unreasonable reasons he couldn't and wouldn't understand, he couldn't help but notice her. Everyone thought he was playing basketball, and he was, but from the corner of his eyes, he could see her. And sometimes (although he didn't want to admit to himself then), he catches glimpses of her. And although those glimpses of her were just for some brief, half seconds, it was enough for him to see that beyond that mask of cheerfulness she wears, she is sad. Well, sad would be an understatement. She looked hopeless, like all chances of happiness were taken from her. Yes, he saw her smile. She even showed her cheerfulness to the do'ahou whenever the latter brags about his oh-so-perfect moves. But her smile was fake, it didn't reach her eyes. Her cheerfulness was fake. They were all fake. Even the do'ahou Sakuragi noticed it.

"Nee, Haruko-chan, did you see the tensai do his magnificent slam dunk?"

Haruko smiled. "Hai, Sakuragi-kun. You've really improved so much. When I first saw you, I know you'd be a good basketball player, and I was right. You can even do perfect slam dunks now!"

"Really, Haruko? Well, of course, that is to be expected from a tensai like me, isn't it? NYAHAHAHAHA!"

Haruko smiled too. But Sakuragi noticed something wrong with her smile. Indeed, it didn't reach her eyes.

"Are you okay, Haruko-chan?" Sakuragi asked worriedly.

Haruko was surprised. "O-Of course, Sakuragi-kun! Why do you ask?"

"Ah, well, you don't seem so cheerful today. I just thought that maybe..."

Haruko looked the other way. Sakuragi sensed that there was really something wrong. But he thought that maybe it wasn't the right time to ask her about that now. And he was scared that she might just get hurt.

Looks like she is still hurting. Sakuragi thought.

"Ah, never mind! Nee, Haruko-chan, why don't you cheer up and watch the tensai do his amazing tensai moves, is that okay?"

Haruko looked at him and returned the smile. "Hmm, Sakuragi-kun. Ganbatte!"

"Of course, Haruko-chan, this is for you! NYAHAHAHAHA!!!"

"SAKURAGI!!!"

A fist came down on Sakuragi's head. He cringed in pain. "G-Gori..."

"What are you bragging about to my sister, huh? And practice is going on now! Go back to the court!" Akagi pushed the poor redhead towards the rest of the team.

"Do'ahou." Rukawa muttered.

"Teme, kitsune! What did you just say, huh?!"

"Do'ahou. What a deaf."

The redhead flashed with anger. "You damn fox! You'll pay for this! How dare you call the tensai a do'ahou! You, bakero!!" Sakuragi was ready to headbatt Rukawa but was held back tightly by the others. The redhead was still persistent until Akagi came and punched him again on the head.

"K'so! Gori! You did it again!"

"What? You want another one?" Akagi thundered.

"Hehehehe! I was just kidding! I'll go to practice now!" And off he went.

Rukawa sighed. "Really a do'ahou." He looked at Haruko, and he caught her staring at him. When their eyes met, their gazes locked. He's not suppose to do it but he just can't take his eyes off hers. Then she looked away, to the others practicing. He, too, looked away. He simply sneered. Why did he allow her to lock his gaze with hers just like that? That wasn't him, for goodness' sake!

But that was just a little part of his strange weirdness. Awhile ago, when he saw the do'ahou talk to Haruko, he felt something stung in his heart. He was surprised with himself, by how far this certain girl can change him in just a span of one night. A strange feeling was finding its way to him. It was a strange feeling, but somehow, it felt good. But it was also scary. He didn't waste time to find out what it is. He just ignored it and went back to practice.

And until now, he is still unsure of himself. In the serenity of the falling water on his body, he contemplated on his thoughts and worries. After some time of useless thinking (useless because he hadn't come up with anything at all), he turned the shower off. He dried himself with his towel and got dressed. Some of his teammates were still in the locker room. He went outside. His eyes simply searched for her, and when he saw her, his heart leapt for joy.

Without even thinking, he walked towards her. The do'ahou, seeing where he was headed, yelled at him and went in a haywire.

"Teme, kitsune! What do you think you're doing, huh? Why are you walking towards Haruko-chan? Huh?!"

Everyone in the gym looked at Rukawa. Even the ones in the locker room went outside to see for themselves if what they heard from Sakuragi's loud voice is true. They were all surprised. But they doubt if he was really to approach the captain's younger sister since they couldn't think of a reason why he would approach her.

Rukawa, seeing what the redhead had caused, sighed. "Do'ahou."

Haruko, hearing what Sakuragi had said, looked up and was surprised to see Rukawa walking towards her.

Why?

She simply looked behind her and found no door. The door was far from where she was seated. There wasn't anyone there except her so she is really the one Rukawa is approaching. She was confused, but her heart beat faster at the sight of him.

Rukawa, to everyone's amazement and Sakuragi's anger, stopped in front of Haruko. She stood up from her seat and faced him. She was really confused by his action. She wanted to think that Rukawa feels the same for her but decided against it. It was very impossible for him to love her. He only has one thing in his life: basketball. He wants nothing but to play and become the best. From the start, he never had his eyes on her. And he never will. She just has to accept the fact that she can only see him from afar, together with his other admirers, coz whether she admit it or not, she is just one of them. An admirer. A fan. Nothing more. She couldn't be more than that to him, because that's how he sees her, if he even does. He cannot love her back. She stuck that to her mind, and her heart. Yes, she can continue loving him, but she just has to stop hoping, hoping that someday, he would reciprocate her love for him. Yes, she loves him. So much. But she just has to admit that hers is just a one-sided love affair, and nothing more. She shouldn't expect more than that, or she would just end up getting hurt, all over again...

"Hai, what is it, Rukawa-kun?" She asked him.

"What's wrong?"

Haruko's eyes widened. How did he know there's something wrong? He didn't care about others' business. Was it just too obvious that she wasn't okay that even Rukawa noticed it?

"Ah... What do you mean?"

"I know you have a problem."

Haruko couldn't believe her ears. Rukawa knew, and was concerned about her. Her heart overflowed with joy. But she stopped herself. She had to guard herself, or she would have to face the bitter consequences of her actions later on.

"I'm alright, Rukawa-kun. It's nothing, really." She looked down at her feet.

She breathed deeply. She tried to control it, but failed. Tears fall down from her eyes. She felt embarrassed. She couldn't cry in front of Rukawa, and with the whole team watching, but she just couldn't stop herself. She covered her face with her hands as a loud sob came out of her lips.

Rukawa looked at her, his own pain eating him as he stood in front of this girl watching her cry her heart out. When he saw the first tear fell from her eyes, he suddenly had this strong urge to protect her, from all that was causing her to feel this way. Back then, he didn't pay any attention to her. He didn't care about her. But now, he sees her crying, he wanted to do nothing but to hug her tight, to hold her close to him till she feels that she is safe in his arms. That from this day onwards, he wouldn't let those innocent eyes of hers to shed anymore tears of pain. He wouldn't let anybody hurt her again.

Then he, without thinking (again), pulled her closer to him and locked her in his arms, to everyone's surprise. Haruko, above all, was shocked. Her tears stopped falling at once. She couldn't believe what was happening. Rukawa pulled her closer to him and wrapped his arms around her. Could she be dreaming?

And when things started sinking in her thoughts, her tears abruptly began to fall again as abruptly as it had stopped. She cried, but this time, not because of pain, but because from too much almost unbearable pain, she finally found solace under his warm embrace. She can't say she's totally happy now, because she didn't know what his motive for doing that is. But she was relieved, and contented. Even though he didn't speak, she can tell that he really cares, and she is not alone now. She knows that she has him now, maybe not as a lover, but probably as a friend. She wasn't miserable anymore. And right now, she couldn't ask for anything more.

Rukawa knows that she really has a problem, but he didn't know what it is. He wished he knew, because he really wants to be there for her. He wants to share her sorrow and her pain. He wants to share his warmth to her because he knows she is cold. He wants to dry her tears, to kiss her worries away. He wants to hug her tight and make her feel that she is not alone. He wants to do everything for her, because right now, as he holds her in his arms, everything becomes clear to him. He loves her...so much. He doesn't know why. All he knows is he wants to protect her. With his life. With all of him. She used to be so cheerful and she always cheered him up whenever he was lonely. And now that she's the one who's lonely, he would be the one do it for her. He'll bring back the happiness and spark in her life. Right now, all he knows is he is willing to give everything to her, at any cost. If she needs his life, he would gladly give it.

Everyone smiled at the scene in front of them. They didn't know, and didn't expect, that Rukawa has a romantic bone in his body. They didn't know he could care for a girl. Everyone seemed so happy, except for one.

"Ahh! Kitsune!! What do you think you're doing to her, you pervert!! Let go of her, k'so! Ahh!! Let me go!!" Sakuragi went in a haywire again and had to be held again by the others.

Rukawa let go of Haruko, then looked at the lashing redhead. "Do'ahou."

"Nani?!" Sakuragi flared with anger. But he was stopped when Akagi's fist came down on his head once again.

"Shut up, you idiot!"

"Ouch, Gori! That hurts!"

Akagi ignored him and looked back at Rukawa and his sister. Rukawa didn't say anything to her that could be an assurance that he loves her. But he knows the truth, and he is happy for Haruko. He, as her brother, knows of course what her problem is. Rukawa and his love for basketball was bothering her. He didn't talk to her about that, but he was just there for her. Now, he can see that she's alright. She is still uncertain about some things but she's not hurting anymore. He is happy, because she finally found the right man. One who would love her truly and unconditionally...

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Rukawa and Haruko were sitting on a stone bench near a tree. They were enjoying the view below from the top of the hill where they were at. Haruko noticed that Rukawa was quiet (he is still a quiet person but he talks more now than he used to before).

"Kaede-kun, are you okay?" She asked him.

Rukawa looked at her and smiled. "Of course. Why do you ask?"

"Nothing. You just don't talk today so I thought there's something bothering you?" Haruko asked, concern evident in her face and voice.

Rukawa looked away. For a while, he didn't speak. Then after some time, he looked at her. He breathed deeply before speaking. "Haruko..."

"Hmm?"

"...Will you wait for me?"

"Huh?"

He breathed deeply again. "You know that I have always wanted to go to America and play, right?"

Haruko stared at him for a while, then looked away when Rukawa turned to face her.

Rukawa saw the sudden sadness in her eyes which she tried to hide, but failed. He sighed.

This is going to be more difficult than I've thought.

He looked at the direction where she was looking. "Since I was a kid, my dream is to become a professional basketball player and someday, to be able to play in NBA. When we were in freshman, I told Anzai-sensei that I would like to go and play there. He objected at my decision. He said that before I could play in America, I should be the no. 1 player in Japan first. Now, we are in our senior year, I feel that I am ready to go and fulfill my dreams..."

Haruko couldn't stand it anymore. She stood up before she could cry in front of him. She breathed deeply, hoping her tears won't fall. Rukawa stood up and went beside her.

"R-Really?" She tried to hide the trembling of her voice. She forced herself to stay strong in front of him, though inside, she was breaking into pieces. "That's great! At last, you can fulfill your dreams. If you really want it, then go for it. I'll support you..."

There was a moment of silence. "Will you wait for me then?"

Haruko didn't know what to say. "W-Why do you want me to wait for you?"

"I want you to wait for me. When I go back, I want to see you waiting for me..." He held her hand. "...because I love you..."

Haruko's eyes widened. It seemed like her heart stopped beating for a second. And when it beat again, it was very fast. Did she hear him right? Were her ears playing a trick on her? Or was he playing with her? But as she looked in his blue eyes, she saw sincerity in them and she could also see the love he is talking about.

"K-Kaede-kun..."

Rukawa wiped the tears that fell from her eyes. "It's true. Since that day in the gym, when we first became close to each other, I'm sure that I love you. But I wasn't able to tell you because I was scared then. I didn't know how to handle that kind of feeling. It was my first time to fall in love. I was also scared that you might just get hurt when I wouldn't be able to spend more time on you since I am busy playing. Of course, since that day, you became my priority, above all things. But still, I was scared that you'll get hurt. And besides, you were contented on our relationship as friends. But I also knew that someday, when the time has come and when I am ready, I'll be able to tell you how much you mean to me. Only it has taken me too long to tell you, and wrong timing coz I am ready to go to America. But I'm ready. I'm sure about myself now. It'll be a bit difficult for me coz it's my first, but I know you'll be there to guide me. We'll make it through somehow coz we have each other. I love you so much, Haruko. Please say you love me too..."

Haruko, despite the tears, smiled. She rushed to him and hugged him tightly. And if Rukawa hadn't had his feet firm on the ground, they would have fall.

"I love you too, Kaede-kun. And yes, I'll wait for you..."

He was surprised at first but when he recovered, he hugged her tightly too, a smile appearing on his lips. They hugged each other for some time, then Rukawa let go of her and faced her. He looked at her for a while, then sighed.

"But I think I can stay..."

"Huh?" Haruko was shocked and confused at the same time.

"I can just stay here if you like. I won't go to America."

"But why?"

"Well, I just thought that our relationship is just new. Wouldn't it be a little rude of me if I leave my girl when our relationship didn't even reach a week? If I am to go, I'll be off by the day after tomorrow."

"Already?" Haruko was shocked.

Rukawa nodded. "Sorry, I just told you now." He shrugged his shoulders. "But if you would ask me to stay, I would stay."

"Kaede-kun..."

"I love you so much, you know that, right? I also love basket ball. Always have and always will. But now that I already have you, I'm willing to sacrifice my dream, because you are the most important thing to me now..."

Haruko smiled at him. She touched his cheeks and made him look at her in the eyes. "I know, and I'm very grateful for that. I love you so much too. I don't want to be a hypocrite. Of course I don't want you to go. Our relationship is still new. I'll surely miss you. But I don't want to go between you and your dream. I know you're doing this for me, thank you for that. But I don't want you to sacrifice your dream because of me. I know you love basketball so much. It's your first love. I don't want you to forget it because of me. Let it be that way. You love me, and that's enough. You just don't know how happy I am. It is more than I could ever wish for. Thanks for that. And thanks for considering my feelings. You go. It'll be hard but we can handle it. Our love for each other will be our strength. Go and fulfill your dreams. I'm happy for you. Do your best, Rukawa-kun!"

Rukawa smiled and hugged her tightly. "Thanks for understanding. I'm so lucky to have you."

Haruko laughed softly, then buried her face in his chest. "I'll wait for you, you can count on me. I love you so much..."

"I love you too..." more than anything else in the world...

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Haruko was walking fast down the streets of Kanagawa. She is supposed to meet her friends Matsui and Fujii in the coffee shop at 4:30PM. It was already 4:35 in her wristwatch and it would take fifteen minutes of walking from her condo unit to the shop. She was late because when she was about to go, a client of hers came to her unit to discuss some matters regarding the case she was holding.

"Ugh, I'm late again!" She panted as she turned to the next street. Her phone rang. She got it from her bag and answered the call.

"Moshimoshi?" She listened to the voice on the other line. "Hai, gomenasai Fujii-chan. My current client came to my unit and I just can't send her away... Hmm... Hai. Arigatou, Fujii-chan. Bye!" She turned off her phone and put it back inside the bag, when something urged her to look up. Her eyes widened as she recognized the person standing a few meters away from her.

The man looked at her direction. At first, his eyebrows pulled together, then after some time, recognition showed in his face. His eyes, too, widened at the sight of her. "Haruko..."

Haruko's vision suddenly blurred. She noticed that there were tears in her eyes when they started to fall. A small smile appeared on her lips, then it grew wider. Her lips muttered the name that was being whispered in her heart.

"Kaede..."

And with tears falling uncontrollably from her eyes, she ran up to him and wrapped her arms tightly around him. Finally, after five long years, she can be with the man that she had ever loved...

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Author's Notes: Heheheh..that was long, isn't it? Sorry, It's my first time to write a oneshot,,didn't know it would be sooo long!! Anywayz,,I was really inspired to write a "continuation" for that episode. I was really touched by it. I was saddened and I really feel for Haruko. I really hope Rukawa will notice her,,and someday, know that she is more important to him than basketball. I hope that I was able to impart to you the same feeling I feel regarding the episode. So that's it! Hope u like it! Pls review..thnx!! ^_^