To Know You
Chapter 3

Rukawa didn't even bother to unlock his bike as he ran out of the Kogure residence. He was angry. He was so angry. He had never felt so much anger since... since...

"Baka oyaji!" he hissed.

The image of newspaper clipping kept returning to his mind, becoming clearer every passing moment. He had memorized the headlines and everything that was said in the article under it like the back of his hand:

Japan's Finest Died In Plane Crash.
NEW YORK, Twenty of Japan's basketball players on flight 119 to America on JAL are confirmed dead. The plane was suspected to have engine failure and had crashed thirty minutes after take-off. Among the twenty dead are.... Rukawa Taniki, age 32, from Kanagawa...

He remembered himself screaming at the man that come to their house, asking his mother to identify the corpse. He refused to believe his father - his idol - had died. That his father was gone, never to return again. Never to teach him how to play basketball again. Never smile at him again.

He had stubbornly followed his mother to see his father. How he wished he hadn't! That body wasn't his father. It was a mutilated stranger. His father had been a fine and strong man not a black and barely recognizable corpse!

He had torn the paper into pieces only to put it back together again. And once he had done so, he had broken down and cried.

He hated his father then. Hated him so much.

Rukawa didn't know where he was going. He only knew when he stopped running that he was at a basketball court. His own place for sanctity. And he was more than glad to see a familiar person there.

"Sendoh."

The newly appointed Ryonan Basketball team captain turned around at the mention of his name. "Rukawa, fancy meeting you here."

Not one for small talk, Rukawa merely said, "One on one."

"Now?"

"Now."

"All right."

The ball was thrown to Rukawa who caught it with practiced ease. He weighed the ball in his hand; staring at it; sharing a quiet short moment with his long time friend.
To hell with the tests.

*~*~*~*

Three days passed since Kogure had last seen Rukawa. The raven-haired boy didn't go to class nor did he go to the gym. Mrs. Rukawa said Rukawa didn't want to see him when he had gone to his house and Rukawa refused to answer the phone when he had tried calling. It was so frustrating.

All he wanted to do was apologize for what he said. He paused in this current train of thought. Was that really what he wanted to do?

His junior had suddenly stepped into his life a week ago. A week... It seemed longer than that. He felt closer to the raven-haired boy.

It was as if he was seeing him for the first time. Not as a teammate but as a friend, no, more than that! He wanted to know more about Rukawa. He wanted to see if he was all right. He wanted to cheer him up.

He had seen the hurt in Rukawa's eyes - even if it was one brief glimpse - it was there when he mentioned his father's name.

He sighed, looking at the bike he was wheeling along with him.

The metal was rusty and dented when he had seen it left outside his house. So, as to make up to Rukawa, he saw to it that it was repainted and fixed. Even though it cost him his allowance (he's not an expert in fixing bikes), he thought it was worth it.

Kogure took a deep breath as the Rukawa residence came into view. It was time to pay the piper.

*~*~*~*

Rukawa stepped out of his house, closing the door behind him and kneeling down to tie his shoelace. His basketball, which he had laid down on the ground, stubbornly left its spot to roll towards the front gate, causing Rukawa to look up to follow its progress.

Kogure was looking at him with an unreadable expression on his face.

"Rukawa-kun."

"Sempai..."

Rukawa had the option to go back inside and ignore him but for some reason, he didn't. Maybe it was because he saw Kogure wheeling his bike along, or maybe because Kogure had asked in that soft sweet voice of his, "May I come in?"
For no apparent reason-at least to HIM, Rukawa walked over to the gate and let Kogure in.

*~*~*~*

"Irrashai, Kogure-kun." Mrs. Rukawa smiled when Kogure entered the house.

"Ah, konnichiwa, obasan. I'm sorry to bother."

"It's all right. Make yourself at home." The elderly woman was more than happy to see Kogure again. She had grown to be very fond of the bespectacled boy. She smiled at him once more then headed back to the kitchen.

Kogure found himself left with the raven-haired boy who had switched on the television and was currently flipping the channels, more than eager to ignore his senior.

Kogure sighed. This was going to be tougher than he thought.

"Rukawa-"

"Shut up."

The bespectacled boy froze. He had not expected that.

"I don't want to hear another word from you."

It was like being stabbed in the heart with a knife.

When had Rukawa's words become so important to him?

"Is that clear?"

Those blue eyes. Those piercing and icy blue eyes.

Why was he suddenly so cold?

"I'm sorry." Kogure's voice was barely a whisper. "I didn't know you would get so angry-" He took a look at Rukawa's eyes and said no more. He knew when his presence wasn't wanted. "I'm sorry to bother you."

"Oi."

Kogure stopped. He looked over his shoulder to see Rukawa disappear up the stairs and emerge minutes later with a stack of papers and books in his hands.

Rukawa shoved them into Kogure's.

"I don't need these or you anymore."

Those eyes.

"Souka..."

Rukawa didn't say another word as he headed back to his room.

Kogure only stared blankly at the stack of papers he now held in his hand, a strange aching pain in his chest.

*~*~*~*

Rukawa gingerly got off his bike. He looked at it. Fresh new paint, a new bell, no more rusty metal... The bike was as good as new and he knew who to thank for it.

Sighing softly, he wheeled his bike over to the bicycle shed.

Suddenly there was a loud shout, "Get out of the way!!!!"

Rukawa looked up. The next thing he knew he was lying flat on his back, a growing ache in his side and his head-which had hit the pavement-and a very heavy object pressing down on his belly.

The raven-haired boy did the only thing he could do at the moment. He glared.

The poor student gulped, "Gomen nasai. I lost control of my bike! I didn't mean any harm! Honest!!" He quickly got up and tried to disentangle his bike from Rukawa's.

But as fate has designed it, not only did the other boy manage to trip, causing both bikes plus human to fall on top of Rukawa *again*, the klutz of a student had also managed to scratch off the new paint from Rukawa's bike. And *that* was definitely not a good thing.

Noticing the scratched-off paint and also the new dents on his bike, the last of Rukawa's patience wore out.

It took the strength of four male teachers and twenty minutes to pry Rukawa off the other junior.

*~*~*~*

"What did you think you were doing? Attacking a fellow student-one who's physically weaker than you at that-just because he dented your bike! Do you know what would happen if the boy's parents decide to press charges?!"

"Gomen, sensei," Rukawa replied. He never meant what he said. After all, he's been in worse predicaments than this ever since primary school.

The teacher nearly snapped the pencil he was holding in half. He never could stand Rukawa's attitude. "If you don't pass the finals for this year, I'll ask the school to ban you from the basketball club. We can't have a student with marks as poor as yours. You'll get extra classes during spring break as well. And if you haven't forgotten our agreement, you still have one more test to pass before you can go back to your team. To be truthful, I'm quite surprised you did so well in your last three tests."

"..." Rukawa said nothing. He knew he won't get that good a result any longer.

"Oh Rukawa-kun." The sensei added as an afterthought, "I hope you don't do anything else that would force the school to take action on your activities. You may go now."

"Hai, sensei." Rukawa bowed then turned to leave when the sensei stopped him.

"Oh yes, I just remembered. You can go back to the gym today."

Rukawa turned, eyes wide with surprise.

"Your sempai came and vouched for you a few days ago. He said you'll be able to pass with flying colors." There was a small smile on the sensei's face. "I doubt you will but he seemed to have a lot of confidence in you..." There was a short pause. "Ah, go back to class, Rukawa."

"Hai, sensei."

As Rukawa walked back to his class, a feeling of guilt washed over him.

Kogure-sempai...

*~*~*~*

"I'd have expected this from the others but you? Kogure, how could you have not started on your assignment?"

"Gomen nasai, sensei. I had some trouble finding information for my assignment." Kogure bowed low in apology.

He had completely forgotten about the assignment ever since Rukawa's unexpected show of anger.

His sensei sighed. "I'll give you one more week to complete it."

"Hai! Arigatou sensei." Kogure bowed again.

"Go back to your seat." It was obvious she wasn't too pleased.

Kogure sighed and went back to his seat. He knew hed have to explain to Akagi about this later. His mind strayed to Rukawa. The pain was still there whenever he thought of him.

I don't need these or you anymore...

The bespectacled boy felt so used. After all he had done... He shook the thought away. It was his own fault after all. No one asked him to care about Rukawa. If he was hurt, it was his own doing.

But...

How much he wished for Rukawa not to be mad at him.

A few rows away, Akagi frowned when he saw his best friend take off his glasses to rub his eyes. The frown deepened when he saw the glittering substance on the back of Kogure's hand. Tears...

End chapter 3
*~*~*~*
How was it? a little too sappy? too dramatic? Too emotional?! Tell me!! C&Cs!!!