Helping Out
Part Ten

Rukawa looked down pensively at the sidewalk, his hand in his pockets, thinking of everything that Mitsui had told him just a while before.  This was all so crazy!  Never in his life had he thought that Kogure, Kogure of all people, would harbor such feelings for him.  Maybe Mitsui was just kidding...He shook his head.  No.  He didn't think the guy would joke about such a thing, and besides, he had looked so dead serious!

He kicked at a pebble on the ground, frowning.  He had had a horrible practice that afternoon.  He could feel Mitsui's angry gaze on him at all times, making him rather nervous.  Besides that, this incredibly guilty feeling had hung around him, making him want to just dash out of the gym and run full speed to Kogure's house to apologize.  Of course, he hadn't been able to do that.  Akagi would have killed him.

He would have gone now, after practice, but he really couldn't.  He had an appointment with Akira.  Couldn't miss that after everything that he had had to go through, now could he?  Rukawa glanced at his watch.  Five minutes to four.  He was running a little late but what the hell?  He would let Sendo stew for a while, let him wonder whether he was coming or not.  He went on in his leisurely pace, humming softly under his breath all the while.

Sendo Akira was going to be his again!  Rukawa reminded himself, trying to feel a surge of happiness at that piece of news but most of that happiness had been dampened somewhat at the realization of what he had done to the best friend that he had ever had just to get something that he wanted.  Mitsui, everyone was right.  He was a bastard.  An uncaring, unfeeling bastard that wouldn't know what love was if it touched him with a ten foot pole.

He winced slightly when he thought about what he had done only the day before.  Now he knew why the guy had reacted the way that he had.  Now he understood.  He was going to fix that, as soon as he possible could.  He had to go and talk to Kogure and tell him that his feelings for him were appreciated, it was always nice when you find out that somebody loved you, but...But what?

Should he tell him that his feelings were appreciated but unreciprocated?  That he cared only for one person, that being Sendo Akira.  That he only wanted to remain friends, if he could bear that, and had really not meant to hurt him so much.

The first thing to consider here was what he really felt about Kogure Kiminobu.  He stopped in his tracks at this thought, a frown darkening his handsome features.  That was stupid.  He already knew how he felt about Kogure.  He loved the guy as one would love a very precious friend.  There was nothing more to it, nothing less.  His feelings for Kogure and the sort that he had for Akira were completely different things.  For Akira he felt desire, desire for his body, that perfectly formed athletes body rivaled by nobody else's.  But then, once in a while he did feel sort of attracted to the vice captain of the Shohuku team.  He liked the way that he Kogure looked while on the court, so graceful, so sure of his movements, he liked the way that he looked when he had just stepped out of the locker room shower, his dark hair plastered against his head, a towel wrapped around his slim waist...

He shook his head to try and get the image off his mind.  " I always check everybody out!"  he pointed out to himself, resuming his walk, " Hell, there was that one disgusting time when I even checked out that do'aho!  He's an idiot, but he's an idiot with a great body..."  This brought a small smile to his lips.

So he was a pervert.  That was a nice thing to know...

Mitsui's words ran incessantly through his mind...It's just...Incredible the way he makes you feel about everything.  About yourself.  The world in general...Maybe that was a much better question to ask himself.  How did those two guys make him feel respectively?

Akira.  Akira was his first love.  The one that had inspired him to try and be the best that he could possibly be on court and off.  He was the one that spurred him on to be bigger and better than he had ever thought he could be.  There had always been a friendly sort of competition between the two of them but that had always just urged him on to try and do better.

The thing that he didn't like about the guy though, was his constant attempts to make him socialize with his friends and team mates.  Akira knew that he absolutely detested that loudmouth Hikoichi and the always sullen Koshino, and yet he insisted in constantly throwing the lot of them together, despite of his protests.  He was always trying to get Rukawa to mix with people, to talk to him about his feelings and crap like that, which made him even more stoic in his silence anyways.  He had always felt a bit inadequate in his time with Akira.  As though he would never be able to please the guy by being himself.  As though he needed to change.

Then there was the quiet, thoughtful Kogure.  As Mitsui had pointed out, the guy was good at making you feel like you were the most important person in the world to him.  He guessed that this was why he had become the confidante of most of the team.  He didn't push you into revealing anything, preferring to wait until you eventually broached the subject yourself and he always succeeded in making you feel at ease.

Kogure was the ideal friend.  Someone that each person should have and somebody that he just couldn't do without, he realized now.  Kogure had come to mean more to him than he had even thought possible.  It was a pity that he had only found that out now when he was faced with the prospect of losing him.  " I have to fix things with Kogure..."  He muttered to himself as he walked on, the basketball court where he was supposed to meet Akira finally coming into sight.  "Afterwards, I'll do anything I have to for him to forgive me..."

" Hey."

" Hey."  Rukawa muttered awkwardly, his gaze darting nervously from the boy before him to his surroundings.  He cleared his throat before speaking again.  " How've you been?"

" I've been better."

" So have I..."  Rukawa admitted softly, pushing his dark hair out of his forehead.  " These past few weeks have been hell for me.  I've been doing the stupidest thing!"

" Really?"

" Yeah, really.  A really stupid, stupid thing that I'm not very proud of."

" Everybody does something stupid once in a while, Kaede.  I have, you have.  Don't feel too bad about it..."

" But I do, because I've been wasting a lot of time lately.  Time that could have been better spent with the guy that I love..."

" Look, Kaede, I don't really feel like talking about that...Please.  I just don't need to hear about-"

" Well, this is strange."  Rukawa commented, " You've always been the one that urged me to talk to you!  Now you're asking me to shut up.  You're getting what you want and you ask me to shut up!"

" I never seem to get what I want."

" Well, now you are.  That is, if you still want me."  There were a few seconds of tense silence as Rukawa awaited his answer nervously, though none of his anxiety showed on his face.

" Was there ever any doubt of that?"

And for the first time ever since Kogure had first encountered him, Rukawa's face broke out into one of his full blown smiles, a sight that Kogure knew he would keep in his heart forever.  " Think I could give you a real kiss this time?  Nobody is around to see us anymore or anything..."

" I wouldn't really care even if the whole basketball teams of Ryonan, Kainan and Shoyo were here with us..."  Kogure said, his own smile rivaling even Rukawa's.  Suddenly, he began to laugh.  " Wait, actually, let's get out of sight, shall we?  It wouldn't do for my parents to just look out the window and see me making out with some guy!"

" Some guy?  Is that all I am?"  Rukawa asked, pretending to be miffed.

" No.  You're the person that bloody well nearly broke my heart." Kogure told him softly as he led Rukawa behind the tool shed.  He leaned his back against the wall.  There was a smile on his face now but Rukawa could still see how puffy his eyes were from crying.  " And now, you're the person that's just made me the happiest guy in the world!"

" Good then.  I'm glad.  Would you mind now if I kissed you?"  He asked softly.

In response, Kogure took his face between his hands and smiled softly as his eyes met Rukawa's.
" What do you think?  But I it's my turn now, I reckon..." He leaned forward and tenderly placed his mouth over Rukawa's.

After a while, Kogure pulled away, the younger boy's arms still securely wrapped around his waist.  " Do you know how long I've been waiting for this, Kaede-kun?"

" Too long.  I've been really stupid.  I wouldn't even have figured out anything if it wasn't for Mitsui."

" Mitsui, huh?"  Kogure chuckled, dropping a kiss on Rukawa's soft, silky hair.  " I guess he gave you one of his ' I'll kill you for daring to hurt Kogure' speeches.

" Yeah, I'll tell you the truth."  Rukawa lowered his voice to an exaggerated whisper.  " I'm only here because Mitsui scared me into it!"

" Really?  And what about Mr.  Sendo?  How do you think he'll react to this?"

" Sendo...I was supposed to go and meet him, you know.  Right at this moment I should be at that basketball court, with my arms around him and not you."

" So what happened?"

" You happened."  Rukawa shrugged, resting his head against Kogure's shoulder with a soft sigh.  " I got to thinking about you and everything that you ever did for me, the way that you make me feel whenever I was with you, and I realized that you were the one for me.  Not Akira.  You were the one that I could picture myself with for the rest of my life and not him.  Are you scared yet?"

" Why should I be?  I was thinking the same thing..." Kogure admitted with a grin.

" Hey, look.  You even got me talking and emoting like this!" Rukawa laughed softly, " Oh, you're good, Kogure Kiminobu.  You're really good!"

" I like hearing you laugh, " Kogure told him.  He felt as though his heart would burst from all the joy that he was feeling .  " You should do it more often..."

" I will be," Rukawa reassured him, tilting his face up towards him for another kiss.  " As long as you're here with me..."

~*~ The End ~*~