To Know You
Ever since they retired from the basketball team, Akagi and Kogure have always
stopped by the gym occasionally to watch the team play. Akagi had stopped
yelling at the team whenever he noticed some mistakes. Instead, he talked to
Miyagi about it. Akagi missed basketball like hell. And Kogure figured it was
why they always frequented visiting the others in the gym.
The bespectacled boy smiled. Akagi would never admit to anyone how much he loved
basketball and how much he missed his new team he had found just months ago. The
team that helped fulfill his dream in the InterHigh match.
The team was going fine. Even without Akagi, they were still able to maintain
But today, something was different. No, *someone* was missing.
Ryota wiped the sweat from his forehead, "I don't know. He didn't show up
yesterday either. Haruko said she saw him in school though."
"That's strange. Rukawa never misses practice."
The new team captain shrugged. "Who knows?" He groaned when Mitsui and Sakuragi
began their daily fights again.
"Excuse me." With that said, he marched over to the two boys to stop the fight
from getting worse. However, it *did* end up getting worse with Ryota joining
the fight after being insulted by Sakuragi.
Akagi shook his head in defeat, "They never change."
"Ah." Kogure replied. His mind wandering to Rukawa. What could happen that would
make Shohoku's ace player miss practice?
Rukawa exhaled deeply, staring mournfully at the large red letter written on his
He slumped on the table, defeated. There was no way he could pass this way. And
each passing day being restrained from practicing made his agony worse. He
couldn't open his mouth to his classmates or others to ask for help in his
studies. His pride wouldn't allow it. But then it was time to choose which was
more important. His pride or basketball?
The answer was painfully obvious.
Now the problem was who to ask for help?
Well, guess he found the right guy. Correction, the right guy found him.
"So you'll have to pass four out of the ten tests he gives you or he'll kick you
out of the basketball team?"
"That's unfair!" Kogure exclaimed. "What are you having tomorrow?"
Kogure scratched his cheek thoughtfully, "It's not exactly my forte, but I
think I'll be able to give you a hand. I could come over to your place now if
Rukawa blinked. He had yet to ask Kogure to tutor him but his senior seemed to
have volunteered himself instead.
The bespectacled boy only smiled. "I'll have a quick run through your lessons as
we go. That is, if you don't mind wheeling your bike to walk with me."
"You can ride with me."
It was Kogure's turn to blink. "Are you sure?" Rukawa's reputation for falling
asleep while riding his bike gave the other boy several things to consider.
"Okay..." Maybe he won't fall asleep this time. He *does* have a passenger.
Kogure tried to reassure himself.
"Rukawa! Watch out!" Kogure yelled. Panicking, he shook Rukawa awake just in
time to swerve violently towards the left before they suffered a head-on
collision with a truck. The next thing they knew, they rammed right into a
garbage can, sending both of them flying in the air and landing on the ground
just a few feet from where the bike lay. Kogure groaned and rubbed his head. He
did not want to know how Rukawa survived this every day...
He watched Rukawa pick himself up and move to get his bike. A sense of doom
befelled the bespectacled boy.
Ten minutes later...
Rukawa blinked . . . no reply, and it was only then when he noticed that he was
having a rather difficult time breathing.
"Sempai, you can let go now."
"Hai..." Came the shaky response.
Rukawa looked at his senior, confused. What was Kogure so scared about? They
didn't exactly collide with the last three trucks they had come across....
"Okaeri, Kaede." Mrs. Rukawa smiled at her son. She was a woman in her
mid-thirties with long, shiny raven-black hair. "Oh. A friend?"
Kogure immediately bowed, albeit nervously, when Mrs. Rukawa smiled at him.
"Watashi wa Kogure Kiminobu desu."
"Ah. Kogure-kun. Now don't just stand there. Come in. Come in. Any friend of
Kaede's is welcomed here." Kogure then wondered if Rukawa's coldness came from
his father seeing how sweet his mother seemed to be.
With a thoughtful frown, he shook the thought from his head and stepped into the
large house -- large as it's not common to see a three-storey house in Kanagawa.
He left his shoes at the front door step.
"Kogure-kun-" Rukawa's mother began.
"We're going to my room." Rukawa cut in. Kogure was surprised at Rukawa's
coldness towards his own mother.
"Sou desu ka? I'll bring some snacks up later."
Kogure watched Rukawa head up the stairs without another word.
Feeling uneasy with the tension left by Rukawa's remark, he gave an apologetic
look to Mrs. Rukawa.
Mrs. Rukawa shook her head. "I should be apologizing for my son's behavior.
Don't worry. He's always like that."
"Ah." Kogure nodded, as if he understood everything then followed Rukawa to his
room. The raven-haired boy didn't even wait for him to show up and Kogure had to
guess which room was Rukawa's for a full minute before getting it right.
He looked at the state of the room and sighed. It was going to take them... he
glanced at the sleepy-looking Rukawa and sighed heavily. Correction. It was
going to take *him* a long while to clean up the table before they could even
start studying anything there.
"And this is-" The bespectacled boy buried his face in his arms on the table,
groaning, "Rukawa, *please* stop falling asleep."
Kogure managed to tutor Rukawa on two chapters during the first three hours of
their studying--which was a miracle. But it seemed that the miracle wasn't
strong enough for when they started with the third chapter, the raven-haired
boy's old habits began kicking in.
In the past half-hour, Rukawa had dozed off five times already and Kogure was,
by no means, willing to risk another wake-up call.
"Sa, I suppose he deserves some sleep." He murmured softly, watching the
raven-haired boy as he slept. He looks... more like a sixteen-year-old when he's
There was a knock on the door. Kogure looked up to see Mrs. Rukawa walk in with
"Oh." She said, seeing Rukawa asleep. She placed the tray on the table. "Do you
need me to wake him up for you?" She asked softly.
"Iie." Kogure replied, wondering how Rukawa could have such a sweet mother. Then
mentally slapping himself for thinking that way. "He deserves some rest."
"Sou ne." Mrs. Rukawa whispered, gently caressing her son's hair. "Basketball
means a lot to Kaede. He's so much like his father." She looked at Kogure. "My
husband died in a plane crash. He was on the way to America for his very first
match and also the last match there before his retirement." She sighed, "Kaede
was only eight years old then. He never forgave his father for leaving us like
Kogure was speechless. He wondered why Mrs. Rukawa bothered to tell him all
this. He felt like he was prying in Rukawa's private life but Mrs. Rukawa
continued to speak. "That's why he wanted so much to go there. To prove to
everyone he could do what his father could not."
"Ano, obasan, why are you telling me all this?"
Mrs. Rukawa laughed softly, "My son needs a friend. And you're the first one
he'd ever brought home since Junior High. I get carried away sometimes worrying
about him. Sa, I won't bother you anymore. Feel free to stay here for the night.
The phone is downstairs if you want to use it."
"Hai. Arigatou gozaimasu, obasan."
"Ganbatte ne." The door closed. Kogure exhaled deeply as he looked at the
sleeping figure. It was ten o'clock. He'll wake Rukawa up later. Stifling a
yawn, he took out his own book and started his studies. But he couldn't
concentrate. He was busy thinking about what Mrs. Rukawa had said.
I wonder what his father's name was, Kogure thought, tapping the blunt end of
his pencil against his chin.
"Have you been sleeping well?"
Kogure snapped to attention, blinking rapidly to keep awake. He looked up to see
Akagi standing beside him. "Ah, hai."
Akagi quirked his eyebrow then handed a piece of paper over to Kogure. "Sensei
gave us an assignment. I haven't read yours but we'll have to finish it by next
"Arigatou, Akagi." Kogure took the paper and read it. He stared at the tittle:
'Do a complete biography on your person of choice.'
His first thought was Rukawa's father.
"You want to ask about my husband?" Mrs. Rukawa asked in surprise.
Kogure nodded earnestly. He had taken the chance when Rukawa was asleep to go
downstairs. "Hai. I'm doing an assignment and I thought about what you told me
last night. And I was wondering if I could do a biography on Rukawa-ojisan. With
your ermission, of course."
Mrs. Rukawa sighed.
"My husband's name is Rukawa Taniki." She ended her sentence abruptly, making
Kogure wait for her to continue only to realize she wasn't going to do so.
"Arigatou gozaimasu, obasan. I'm sorry to have bothered you." With a polite bow,
Kogure went back upstairs to Rukawa's room, chiding himself silently, I
shouldn't have pried in their family matter.
But curiosity was growing in him. Who was Rukawa Taniki?
End chapter 1
Ne! My first RuKo!! WAI! ^__^ Someone congratulate me! hehe So what do you
think? Hee! C&Cs please! *sees Micchy running after her with eyes that scream
murder* Oops. Gotta run! *runs*