I've decided to take a detour from all the Naruto-ness and focus on something new. It is my first time writing for this anime, so please don't expect it to be perfect. I haven't watched Slam Dunk in AGES, and I've just started rewatching the episodes so bear with me if some of the people are OOC.
Anyhoo, here's my first Slam Dunk fanfic!
He felt a slight pressure on his arm followed by a light tap of his shoulder, then nothing. The last remnants of his dreams were slipping away, much to his chagrin. As Rukawa Kaede was slowly regaining consciousness from his beloved slumber, he was only aware of one thing:
Someone was trying to wake him up.
His eyes snapped open, blue irises gleaming with irritation as he grabbed the fragile wrist that was about to touch him once again. A gasp escaped from the lips of his offender and his angry gaze was directed from the bright navy hue of the sky to the source of the noise. His free hand formed a fist reflexively and he swung to hit the idiot who dared to interrupt his sleep when he caught a sight of the wrongdoer's face. His fist paused mid-air before he could deliver the blow.
Well, that was a surprise. (No sarcasm intended.)
Who was she? He'd vaguely recalled seeing her around a few times (with Sakuragi) but never really bothered to show any interest in her. If he had bothered to, he would have noticed her complete and utter devotion towards him, but seeing as three quarters of the female population was unfortunately attracted to him, so naturally he assumed that she was among them.
Tch. What an annoyance.
However, he was aware that if she was truly as rabid as the rest of his fan girls, she would have tried to pull a stunt on him - possibly an invasion of space along with some molesting (or maybe they'd try to bring back an article of his clothing as a souvenir) while he was sleeping, instead of her gentle means of attempting to rouse him from his slumber. If she was like the rest of those deranged banshees, he would have been woken up immediately by the noises of nasal squeals of how "handsome" he was instead of a voice so soft that it could almost be a whisper.
If she was like the rest of them, shouldn't she be cowering in fear of almost being struck (or maybe she would have begged him to strike her and never wash the bruised skin again)? Perhaps not. But in that case, shouldn't she then have love hearts in her eyes instead of the cerulean in her irises that looked like a darker version of the sky–
"You have basketball training now." She murmured, looking down at her lap as she was kneeling beside the once asleep teenager. Why does she care about him having training? What business is it of hers in the first place? But she was right; he did have basketball training now.
After regaining his bearings, he slowly sat up in confusion. No proclamations of love? Well, whatever. He didn't care either way. To be honest, he thought it was better that she hadn't sprouted into any nonsense about her undying love for him.
His attention was brought back to the girl, intently focused on making her uncomfortable as she cleared her throat awkwardly. What did she want? Why was she still here? Couldn't she see that he didn't want to talk to her? The sooner she left, the sooner he could get to training.
"Could you let go of my wrist, please?"
He released her immediately, as though her skin had burned his hand. How long was he holding onto her like that for? His face paled at the realisation: did he just give her the wrong message? Would she begin to stalk him like all the other mislead girls? He didn't care about her, definitely not. But he wouldn't like to tolerate her presence longer than necessary, and if she had assumed that their prolonged physical contact meant anything (like how those other females assumed that his coincidental eye-contact meant he was attracted to them, oh how wrong they were) then she might try to be more bold and do more than just wake him up next time.
He stood up from the bench he was laying so comfortably on earlier to see the girl already walking away from him, heading in the direction of the indoor basketball court. Why on earth was she heading to the basketball court? He was pretty sure that she had no reason to be there unless she was stalking him (and even then it still wasn't any of her business). Taking long strides, he easily passed her on his way to training and muttered, "What happened just now didn't mean anything."
Only to receive a bitter smile followed by a quiet, "I know."
"I see you managed to wake him up." Takenori's deep voice resonated throughout the gym. He was speaking in his typical 'big brother' voice whilst his younger sister attempted a smile. At the faint curve of her lips upwards, his eyes narrowed under his drawn eyebrows and a frown settled on his features – sibling instincts taking over, as his face adopted a look of concern.
All eyes darted to the obnoxious red head rolling on the floor whilst clutching his stomach and guffawing his guts out. Naturally, the team members would almost immediately find the source of his laughter, shrug, and resume their activities. However, nobody knew the reason for his unexpected laughter this time around and confusion spread amongst all the members of Shohoku's basketball team. All except the late Rukawa Kaede, who continued practicing his shots.
"I HAVE NEVER SEEN YOU LOOK MORE LIKE A GORILLA IN MY ENTIRE LIFE!"
Instantly, the Akagi siblings became the center of attention. As often as it was for their captain's gorilla-like features to be taunted by Hanamichi, never have they seen the idiot almost get a heart attack from seeing their center's face. Out of curiosity, the other students couldn't help but observe their captain. At the sight of Takenori's 'concerned' expression, everyone sighed and looked away (secretly agreeing with the red head's previous insult yet too frightened to voice their agreement in fear of receiving a thorough bashing).
"Haruko-san!" The loud-mouthed teenager bounced enthusiastically towards the girl who was now standing beside their captain. "Why are you late?" He spoke so loudly that everyone could hear him.
Rukawa paused from shooting hoops and went to the benches to retrieve his bottle, observing the conversation between the two using his peripherals. He had noticed how she was having a conversation with the captain earlier and wondered of their relationship. There was no way that they could be siblings, they didn't look alike at all. In fact, no feature was evident in any of their faces to suggest that they were even remotely related. The captain was dark skinned with strong protruding features while the girl called Haruko had fair skin and soft, elegant facial features…
"Imoto, I'll see you at home!" Takenori parted with the girl to resume bashing up any slacking players.
Hmmm. So maybe they were siblings after all.
One of them must have been adopted.
"I was just waking Rukawa-kun from his nap."
"WHATT? YOU WERE WITH THAT BASTARD? He didn't hurt you, did he?" Hanamichi glared at him threateningly while Haruko calmly smiled at the idiot (Was her smile always so small?).
Rukawa snorted, why would he even bother hurting a girl?
"No Sakuragi-kun, I'm fine!" The younger Akagi's eyes crinkled as her smile widened and the loser seemed to buy it, judging by the way he blushed as red as a tomato from being the receiver of her smile. Rukawa was about to look away when he noticed how she had subtly moved her left wrist – the wrist that he had grabbed, behind her back.
He also noticed a blue-black hue spreading on her wrist.
Training as usual was tiring, even more so than usual. If Rukawa was being honest, he would admit that he had slight trouble focusing on their drills and exercises since his eyes caught a glimpse of the growing bruise that he had inflicted (even if it wasn't intentionally) on the girl.
No, he wasn't concerned for her. As much as she was able to successfully hide it from her brother and that stupid idiot, it was plain obvious to him that he did injure her. It would only be a matter of time before Takenori noticed and questioned his sister about it. He wouldn't be surprised if she lied and not involve himself in the matter but on the off chance that she did tell the truth, how would Takenori react? Of course Rukawa wasn't afraid of getting into a fight, but he was slightly worried that he would get kicked off the team.
Who was he kidding?
He had nothing to worry about. He was their star player; they needed him if they even wanted to think about qualifying for nationals. They were nothing without him. Besides, any other school would gladly accept him.
Nevertheless, a small ounce of guilt had managed to work its way into him. He had never hurt a girl before, and he knew that Haruko didn't deserve it. Her intentions were innocent enough. Most of the time he was rudely woken up by students who thought they had 'authority' over him. Their main reasons for waking him up were either because he was an obstacle in their path (which they usually decide to walk around after a well-deserved beating) or because they felt like they were bad-ass enough.
Although he was annoyed at her for waking him up, at least she hadn't done it abruptly or taken advantage of his unconscious state. He had gripped her on reflex, as he would normally beat up the bastard that roused him from his sleep. But he hadn't realised how soft and fragile she was; how easy it was to bruise her. And that ugly bruise stood out on her fair skin like a sore thumb. Just looking at it made him uneasy.
Arghhh, there goes those guilty thoughts again.
That girl was getting more annoying by the second. And worst of all was that she had no idea that she was annoying him.
Snapping out of his reverie, Kaede mounted his bike and began cycling home.
"I have to get this in!"
As he turned to look at the people playing basketball his eyes widened in surprise.
Haruko was playing, alone.
'Where's that red headed idiot?' He mused, 'Wouldn't he be doing his extra training with her at this time?'
And so – behind the bushes that shrouded him from her view, he watched her play for several moments. She definitely needed practice, for sure. Her shots were not as accurate as they should be. But her technique was right and – although her actions were quite clumsy, she did possess some form of grace and her movements flowed with ease in the way a basketball player when she performed lay-ups. When taking shots, her arms naturally engaged into a shooting position that vaguely reminded him of Mitsui's style of play; but she was only half as accurate as the famous 3-pointer.
All in all, she was no basketball genius. But she had potential.
After realising that he had been watching for longer than necessary, he turned around abruptly and continued cycling home.
It was her again. How annoying. Hadn't she learned her lesson from the first time? He decided to ignore her and pretend to sleep until she went away. To his dismay, she was quite persistent.
"Please, wake up?"
Please? She was asking him? Why didn't she just shake him awake or scream in his ear? Now that he thought of it, she didn't strike him as a violent person. Actually, from the other day she seemed like quite a soft-spoken person. But he could be wrong; he didn't actually know her after all.
"Rukawa-kun?" her voice sounded a lot closer, as though she was speaking directly into his ear. He could feel her breath tickling the side of his ear and face like a feather. The wind blew over them and he was immediately enveloped in her scent. He continued to lay motionless within the embrace of the girl's soothing fragrance. For some odd reason, he didn't know what she smelled like. But whatever it was, it was oddly pleasant enough for him to just curl up and sleep agai–
"Okay then." A breathy sigh left her lips as she stood to leave.
Rukawa's nose twitched, irritated at the loss of the pacifying fragrance and on instinct (yet again) his hand shot out to grab her wrist. Before he realised what he had done she whimpered quietly. Yet not quite enough to escape his ears. He had grabbed her bruised wrist again.
Standing up lethargically, he gently released her wrist and in response she held her injured hand to her chest, as though protecting herself.
'Tch. Did she think I would stoop so low as to hit a girl?'
"I'm sorry for bothering you." She mumbled self-consciously, "you're late for basketball practice so…"
"Why do you even bother?" Her eyes shot up to him, shocked. Although he wasn't sure if she was shocked at his words or at the fact that he had bothered to even talk to her. At least if he was rude and cold to her, she may get the message and back off instead of trying to pull such a crazy stunt like waking him up. Didn't she learn her lesson?
"I-it's just that, everyone else is already at the court. But you're one of our best players… we need you there so our team can practice properly with every member present."
'Hmph. What a liar, she probably just wanted an excuse to see me like all the other girls.'
He strode passed her towards the gym.
Yet again, training had taken its share of energy from his system and he couldn't help but notice how he was in fact the latest into the court. Perhaps that Haruko girl was being honest. Perhaps she wasn't a fan-girl like the rest of them, but it was obvious that she liked him. Normally this revelation wouldn't even be deemed important enough to irk any feelings from him. But she was the captain's sister! She should know better. She should be aware that he wouldn't reciprocate her feelings. The fact that she chose to like him irritated him to no end.
What's more, that bruise looked absolutely disgusting.
How on earth did nobody else notice it?
If nobody else was going to bother about it, neither should he.
Surprisingly, the next time he noticed her didn't wasn't after a period of slumber.
They were both seated on the wooden chairs of the plainly furnished classroom. Whilst he chose the most inconspicuous seat in the back row right beside the window and was bored out of his mind, Haruko sat a row ahead and two chairs to the right working diligently on the exercise sheets their teacher gave them.
(Did she always have Thursday's morning classes with him?)
"Haruko! What happened to your wrist?"
He would have frozen up at the question like a deer caught in the headlights, but he was Rukawa Kaede. So instead, he slowly began to fold his arms out on his desk, his head resting on them as he listened in on their conversation. Would she say the truth?
"It's nothing! Don't worry about it," Haruko mumbled curiously
"What do you mean 'don't worry about it'? It's swelling and I swear, what colour is that?"
Out of mild curiosity, he spared a glance at her wrist and immediately regretted doing so. Yes, what colour was that? It looked like a repulsive shade of maroon mixed with blue with some yellow added in as well. No artist in the world would be capable of forming such a ghastly hue with any combination of colours on their palette. What's more, on her creamy skin it looked like an infectious disease that would slowly spread like a poison throughout the rest of her body.
In other words, that bruise looked mutated.
"How long have you had that bruise for?"
"Just a couple of days. Nobody's seemed to notice yet so I thought it wasn't really as bad as it looked."
Just before her friend could argue and berate her for being so foolish, the bell rang signalling the end of their morning lesson and the start of break. Haruko – seeing this as her chance to escape unwanted attention, dashed towards the classroom door after calling out a cheerful "Bye Himiko-chan!"
Training was as vigorous as usual thanks to Coach Anzai but still didn't deter him from what he was about to do. He knew it was very out of character on his part, but it seemed as though he wasn't the only one that wasn't acting the way they normally would. He was appalled at the fact that Takenori hadn't even noticed his own little sister's injury and that Hanamichi obviously didn't pay as much attention to his crush as he used to.
Nevertheless, for the sake of his own guilty conscious, he would be the one to fix the damage he had done. He was probably overreacting about hurting Haruko, but it was a genuine accident. She shouldn't be walking around showing her bruise to the world and rubbing it in his face that he had actually hurt a girl. It was nothing more than that; he simply wanted to clear his guilt-ridden head so he can focus on more important things like basketball and sleeping.
Yes. That disgusting bruise was getting worse and he wouldn't have done anything about it until he realised that she was left-handed.
She wrote with her left hand in class that day and upon closer inspection he noticed that she reaches out to pick everything up with her left hand. This consequently resulted in her swollen left wrist constantly bumping into everything (probably the reason for why it got worse over time) and as much as she manage to hide her suffering from others, he could still hear her almost inaudible whimpers and took note of the slight winces she made.
Rukawa could be extremely observant if he needed to be, why else (other than his skill and athleticism) was he Shohoku's ace?
Now many might find his behaviour odd and out of character, but so was physically hurting a girl. Besides, she was not responding to it the way he expected her to. She hadn't bandaged it up and tried to draw any attention to it like he assumed she would; if anything she was doing the complete opposite. At least if she reacted the way he expected her to, all he would feel is irritation at her for being an attention seeker, the annoyance would counteract the guilt and he'd be able to act like he had no part in it and go about his daily routine.
But no. She just had to make him feel guilty.
Well whatever. After this he would be able to resume his normal activities and pretend it never happened.
He found her playing basketball alone again and silently called Hanamichi an even bigger idiot than he thought. Wasn't he supposed to be playing with her? A girl like her shouldn't be out here at this time in the evening alone…
After watching her successfully attempt a lay-up he approached her with bandages held tightly in his right hand. She turned around and stiffened upon recognising the teenager who was advancing towards her with haste.
"Can I help you, Rukawa-kun?"
Wordlessly he presented her with the rolled up white strip of first aid and gestured for her to take it. Cautiously, she stretched out her trembling right hand to receive the bandages and he couldn't help feeling annoyed at the wariness in her actions, (did she think that he was going to hurt her?) yet gave it to her nonetheless.
"Thank you Rukawa-kun…" her dark navy eyes pierced his own with blatant happiness but her smile was strained; she hadn't finished talking yet. "…but I can't use this or else my family and friends will notice and be worried–"
The teenager rolled his eyes and sighed impatiently, snatching the object from her with his left hand and held her arm with the bruise with his right. Ignoring her words of protest, Rukawa placed the end of the bandage on her wrist, his eyes flitting to meet hers in a silent request. She pursed her lips uneasily, and tucked her chestnut coloured locks behind her ear before managing a small nod.
Taking her gesture as a silent affirmation, he proceeded to wrap the bandage around her swollen wrist; his eyes often shifted their gaze from her damaged arm to her face to search for any signs of discomfort as he tended to her wrist as gently as he was possibly capable of, every bone in his body willing him to ensure he didn't hurt the fragile girl any further. He was confused as to how someone like him (violent, detached, cold) was capable of being so… soft. It was odd for him, having to treat someone like a fragile little flower when he was used to handling things roughly.
After finally managing to patch up her injured hand (taking a lot longer and a lot more effort than he realised), he looked up to check (once again) for any signs of pain but instead found himself staring into clearly confused azure irises. She seemed to be even more baffled than he was at his actions (did he appear that heartless to her? Was that how everyone saw him?). She bit her lip, uncertain what to do next with his sapphire eyes staring so intently into her own. All of a sudden her eyes crinkled and her lips curved into a beatific smile, happiness radiating off her being as she whispered sincerely, "Thank you, Rukawa-kun." before leaving the basketball court, the smile secretly never leaving her face.
5 minutes had passed since her departure and he had yet to move a muscle. Her smile was imprinted into his mind and his face felt oddly warm. His nose twitched from some unknown source of irritation and his hand automatically brushed against the button of his nose. (How odd, he's never had the desire to scratch his nose before…). As he walked towards his bicycle, he could feel his heart beat gradually slowing down (when did his heart rate speed up?).
Rukawa cycled home, more confused than he'd ever been in his entire life.
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