Disclaimer: I was NOT, am NOT and will NOT be claiming any right over "SLAM DUNK" the gorgeous comic series by Mr. Inoue Takehiko. Yet, Micchy is mine, for always. Bwahahahahah~

A Dream Not for Sale

Summary: AU or not, one thing has never changed. The game, the dream. Mitsui loves basketball, heart and soul.

Notation: Anything non-English, romaji for example, is in italics. My darling's full name is the only exception (as I reckon the name universal rather than Japanese).

With abundant onstage experiences gained through restless interviews, fan meetings, national live tours and other marketing schedules, he had been honed fearless and skillful in front of a large audience, although it was for the first time that he presented the grand traditional NHK Red and White Year-end Song Festival.

Mitsui Hisashi, 13 years old, was leading the "Shota CLUB", the most popular teen group of the day.

He was spotted by the talent agency at the Kanagawa Juvenile Basketball Camp at the age of 12. He was then packaged up with other five boys around the same age, under the name of a 6-member music assembly, now well known nationwide, with the notion of healthy, sunny, quality idols.

"I'm a genius." pondered little Mitsui. "I'll make it! No matter what!"

The group was an instant success. Since omnipresent female fans, ranging from 8 to 88, were unanimously prone to the terrible imported practice of fruit-pitching flirtation, where blueberries, cherries, peaches, apples, and even watermelons served as tokens of admiration for their dearest superstar singers, the charming team leader in most cases, there was a guaranteed harvest wherever these buddies went through. In fact, suggestions had been proposed for many times to drive the starry sweeties in a lorry rather than a limo.

Exposure, permeation, fandom, contract prices… day by day, positive statistics were all showing up, almost, apart from one thing. The happiness index, of a certain basketball boy, was in the downturn.

Time was a constant. The more consumed by broadcasts, radios, televisions, commercials and events alike, the less remained for his basketball.

Mitsui Hisashi, 14 years old, announced his retirement from the national idol sextet after 2 years.

Reasons did you say? Split for personal development? No. Hopping for another generous label holder? Nope. Expansion into dramas? Or movies? Nah, nah, nah…

Merely a farewell, official, to the entire entertainment industry.

Yet –

"We'll meet again, for sure! Thank all of you people! Please keep on, with your continuous support!" He responded calmly amongst the chaos of the press conference.

"…I was born a basketballer. The best ever of Japan!" was his excuse.

He took his time, at his pace, beams of sunlight shed on his face. In the shadow behind, his former boss leaned against the office door, waving upon the small disappearing figure, with a wetted handkerchief in the fist and an old rusty heart refreshed.

"Janaa, sportsman." (Translation: Ciao, sportsman.)

Mitsui's dream was off the market. Mitsui's dream was on the court.

Mitsui Hisashi, 15 years old, was the champion of Kanagawa Junior Basketball League, the Most Valuable Player, the captain of Takeishi Junior High.

While national competitions as called Inter-High were held among seniors, juniors only combated within the same prefecture. Yet, he was progressing, on his road, towards his goal –

To become the best basketball player of Japan!

"Zenkoku Seiha!" (Translation: To top the nation!)

In the season of cherry blossoms, he grew into a senior high student. Every time thinking of the glowing gateway in the front, the one directed to the Inter-High, he could not help getting excited in each and every fiber.

Shohoku Koukou, a nameless public high school.

He turned out to be no Kainan, Shoyo or Ryonan. He refused to exchange what basketball had entitled him to for a special consideration.

He joined Shohoku instead, sitting the general entrance exam. Here, he was no other than Mitsui Hisashi.

Neither was his luggage, the medal nor the glory MVP title. All he carried along was his happiness. The happiness derived from his basketball.

Mitsui Hisashi, 17 years old, was on no wheels but his feet, steady planted on the ground of Hiroshima.

Dribbling, scratching, wraparound. The ball was bouncing against the wooden floor. His Asics were giving hearty smacks on his beloved field. However exhausted, he revived himself at the sound of inspiration.

Facing him was Sannoh, the crack force they say.

Matsumoto, Ichinokura, Kitazawa or Sawakita… whoever it was, no difference.

Heavily guarded, he cut in the paint, with a variety of faking in the approach to the basket, jumping off, hanging in the midair, right-handed to left-handed in a back pass, and to finish, feeding with a reverse finger-roll.

The ball gently floated through the air, circled around the hoop, screwed in with a flutter of the net and then surrendered to gravity. Scored.

Three-pointer was among his invincible weapons. Yet remember, he was a great rebounder as well as a high FG% shooter.

No sooner had his basketball missed the shot, spinning off the rim, just about to give away the possession… than he made the offensive rebound, recovering his play, his life.

The life related to basketball. The life referred to basketball.

"Ba…baske ga shitai desu." (Translation: I…I'd love to play basketball.)

He who grips the rebound, decides the game. The life of Mitsui Hisashi is at his grasp, as always.

The 2 years, between 15 and 17, was not an air ball. It hit the backboard, the failure assumption of Mitsui Hisashi without basketball, and reset the shot clock. During the overtime, Mitsui broke the deadlock, eventually with a costly victory, trophy being his basketball.

Mitsui Hisashi, going on 18, is now working hard under the lamplight for the sake of the impending college entrance exam, just like any other final-year student. Discount admission offers have all been declined.

He plays basketball out of his own interest. Recognition is a pleasure. But enough for now. Fondness and appreciation do not necessarily have to be quantified onto a meaningful paper.

Here comes the punch line. In fantasy and the real world, MITSUI HISASHI is made of BASKETBALL, a DREAM not for sale.

~owari~