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Laree's Slam Dunk Fanfiction
Family Ties
Part Eleven


Without a word, Mitsui sat himself down onto the ground beside Hanamichi, his face grim. It was already very late at night but after he had promised Sendoh that he would take care of things for him, Mitsui couldn’t sleep. He had gone out for a walk, not bothering to get the permission of his parents, knowing that they wouldn’t let him go out this late what with his past and all, and had ended up at the little apartment building that Sakuragi lived in with his elder brother. He had gone up to the apartment, knowing that the Sakuragi boys tended to keep strange hours, and asked for the redheaded freshman. He had been told that Hanamichi was still out practicing, so he had gone out to the nearest street court and had found the freshman there, sitting by the side of the court and gulping down water from a bottle.

Hanamichi was, needless to say, very surprised to see him. The Mitsui household was quite a few blocks away after all and he wasn’t used to late night visits from the older boy. Therefore, that sort of gave him the impression that something was wrong, very wrong. Mitsui looked…apprehensive. As though he was about to do something that he wasn’t looking forward to. “ What are you doing here, Micchy? And don’t say that you were just in the neighborhood because I know that you would just be lying. You have no excuse to be here unless you were looking for me.”

Mitsui shrugged. “ I was.”

“ Oh.” Hanamichi pursed his lips thoughtfully as he twisted his neck to get a better view of his senior’s profile. Mitsui had his legs drawn up, his chin resting wearily on his knees. He looked worn out, so Hanamichi handed him his water bottle so that he could drink. “ Uh…could you tell me why you were looking for me? I know that this isn’t some sort of social call. It’s too late for that. Did you get into some sort of trouble with Kogure? If that’s the case, I don’t really think that I’m the best person to talk to. I don’t have much experience in the relationship front…” 

“ It’s not about me and Kogure. It’s more…about you.” Mitsui admitted, fiddling around with the lid of the water bottle. This was awkward. But he had promised. He had told Sendoh that he would take care of this for him and he always kept to his word. Always, even back when he had been a gangster. And despite of his reservations, he had also promised Sendoh that he would not anymore mention Rukawa’s involvement in things. So he wouldn’t, despite of the fact that he thought that it was important for Hanamichi to know. After all, wouldn’t it make things much easier for the freshman to accept things if he at least had a reason as to why Sendoh was giving things up this early on? It would hurt the guy bad enough for the budding relationship to be broken off like this without being left to wonder about why he had been rejected.

“ Right. Okay. So it’s about me. I sort of figured that out already, what with the way that you’re acting. To tell you the truth, you’re beginning to freak me out. I’m starting to think that I won’t like what you’re about to tell me, but it’s not going to be that bad, is it?” Hanamichi’s uneasy chuckling stopped abruptly when Mitsui made no move to reassure him that no, it wouldn’t be bad. That he had just been fooling around, trying to see how nervous he could make the redhead if he acted all weird.

Mitsui just draped an arm around the redhead’s shoulder, a small smile on his lips. “ You’re a great guy, you know that, Sakuragi? You are a really, really great guy. And of course, a guy like you only deserves the very best in everything.”

Hanamichi raised an eyebrow at this. Mitsui had never been in the habit of heaping him with compliments. He was beginning to become very, very nervous. What the hell was making the older boy act like this? It was as though Mitsui was softening him up for a big blow. As though Mitsui was telling him about all the horrible things going on in the world before he told him that he was going to die in a few days to make things seem a bit sweeter. Micchy must have known something that he didn’t. “ You know something that I don’t, don’t you? Micchy…am I…am I dying?” Hanamichi asked hesitantly.

The senior blinked. “Dying?”

“ The way you’re acting I…”

Mitsui shook his head adamantly, hurriedly calming the freshman. “ No! You’re not dying! I was just saying that you deserved the best in everything…that…well…that you deserved a guy who would love you and appreciate you. Someone like Kogure.”

“ Are you giving me Kogure?”

“ Touch my Min-kun and you die.” Mitsui growled out of reflex. He snorted at his own stupidity, shaking his head at how possessive he could get when it came to things concerning the brown-eyed vice-captain of the Shohoku basketball club. “ Um…no. Sorry for over reacting like that.”

“ That’s okay.” Hanamichi shrugged, a smirk on his lips. It really was quite sweet how the two seniors were with each other. “ I’m used to you and your fanatical obsession with keeping Kogure yours. In fact, I’m sorta surprised you haven’t tried peeing on him to mark him as your territory.” The redhead snickered. He always tended to make light of serious situations to make things easier, it was a defense mechanism that he used whenever he felt uncomfortable. That or letting his fists do the talking for him. 

“ I don’t think Kogure would let me pee on him…” Mitsui mumbled, pretending to consider the idea. “ He’s too much of a hygiene freak.”

“ On the other hand, it’s always the quiet ones that are the kinkiest in bed…” Hanamichi pointed out, winking suggestively.

“ How would you know, Virgin?” Mitsui taunted him, digging his elbow into the redhead’s ribs playfully.

“ Oh, yeah. This coming from the guy who hasn’t even managed to convince his boyfriend of four months to let him slip him a bit of tongue.” Hanamichi retorted, sticking his own tongue out at a grinning Mitsui.

“ I’ve gone a lot further with Kogure than you think!”

Hanamichi gasped. “ You mean he finally let you hold his hand?”

“ Idiot.” Mitsui snorted, pulling on a handful of Hanamichi’s thick red hair in a gesture of affection.

“ Seriously though, Micchy. I hope you know just how lucky you are with the Megane-kun even if the guy is a bit of a prude.”

“ You don’t have to remind me.” Mitsui agreed. He thought about that every day, every time that he laid eyes on Kogure or saw him smiling. With every second that he spent with Kogure, he was reminded of just how lucky he was to have found him. He didn’t need Hanamichi telling him how lucky he was to have found something that many people spent most of their lives searching for this early on. He already knew, and he understood the value of his Kimi-kun.

“ Man…” Hanamichi shook his head. “ I’ve been thinking lately, you know. About when I’ll be able to find someone that I can be with. Sendoh was talking about it just this afternoon…when he…when he asked me out…” The freshman’s face flushed attractively at the memory. Mitsui liked this less and less. He had never seen Hanamichi like this. He was…happier than he could ever remember seeing him, more contented with things. As though he had finally found something that he had been longing for. Mitsui could take a pretty educated guess as to what this thing was. “ I think I might have. I hope I have. My gut is telling me so…”

“ Gut feelings can sometimes be wrong…” Mitsui interjected, hating to burst the freshman’s bubble but knowing that he had to do so. He didn’t think he would ever forget the look of surprise and hurt that flashed across Hanamichi’s face. He had expected Mitsui to be more supportive. After all, the guy was his friend. “ You…can’t possibly know something like that this early on. I mean, don’t you think you’re rushing things a little, assuming that Sendoh is the one for you? There’s a big chance that this whole thing won’t work out. That this is just a passing thing.” After having this conversation with Hanamichi, Mitsui wouldn’t at all have been surprised if the redhead ended up hating him. He was even starting to hate himself for all of the things that was coming out of his mouth. This was unfair. Hanamichi and Sendoh should be left alone, not torn apart just so that Sendoh could win the favor of some guy. Mitsui used to respect Rukawa because of his prowess on court, but he couldn’t say that much of that respect was still left now, after seeing the younger boy’s blatant disregard for Sendoh’s feelings, not to mention Hanamichi’s own. The guy was not only succeeding in making his stepbrother’s life miserable. He was also affecting Hanamichi’s own happiness.
“ I don’t get you, Micchy.” Hanamichi told him, scratching his head in his puzzlement. “ Just a few hours before, you were one of the people that encouraged me to try things with Sendoh out. Why this sudden change? If I didn’t know any better, I would think that you were trying to turn me off the guy for some really weird reason.”

“ Hanamichi-”

The redhead interrupted him before he could continue. “ I don’t understand why you would want to do that. Sendoh…he’s a great guy. I…think I might see a future in him. I know that that sounds a bit weird…I’m only sixteen years old, it’s far too early for me to think about such things, right? But remember when we were talking about you and Kogure before? When you were telling me about how you just knew, without any reason at all, that this was the one? This was the guy that you were going to hold onto for as long as you possibly could? I asked you how you could just jump to that sort of conclusion, and you told me that you just had to trust your gut feeling. You had to trust your first impulse. You said that that’s what I should do too, if the time should eventually come, that you would support me wholeheartedly if ever that does happen. That’s what I’m doing now. And I’m sure you must know how scary this is for me, how much I need your support right now…”

“ I’m sorry. I know…and I’m sorry.”

Hanamichi tipped his head thoughtfully to one side as he examined his teammate’s bowed head closely. Mitsui must have some sort of reason to act like this. Micchy was his friend, one of the closest that he had ever made and one that he would cherish for life, despite of their constant disagreements and scuffles. “ You know something that I don’t, don’t you? Otherwise, I don’t think that you would act this way. I mean, hell, Micchy! You were one of the Sendoh for Hanamichi fan boys a while back, weren’t you? Just spit it out! What’s you’re problem? I know that you’re not trying to break Sendoh and I up because you want to get back together with me. It would be just plain lunacy if you left Kogure for that! I’m telling you right now! Kogure is the one for you, no questions about that.”

“ Hanamichi, there are a lot of things going on with Sendoh that you don’t even know anything about.”

“ I’m not claiming to know his whole life history, Micchy. That’s the whole point of going out on a date. So that I can get to know more about him.” Hanamichi pointed out breezily.

“ There isn’t going to be a date.”

The redheaded freshman blinked, a strange half smile on his face. “ What are you talking about, Micchy? Sendoh asked me out just this afternoon.” He frowned. “ Don’t tell me he’s gotten sick or anything! He hasn’t, has he?”

“ No. He’s not sick…”

“ So this is your idea of a joke?”

“ I’m not joking. Do you really think that I would joke about something that is so important to you? I mean, sure. I’ve played plenty of tricks on you before, but you know me well enough to know that hitting below the belt like this is just not my style.” After the redhead had examined Mitsui’s dead serious face for a few seconds, he came to terms with the fact that Mitsui really and truly had not been joking. He had been hoping to see the older boy’s face breaking out into a smile, for Mitsui to tell him that he had just been fooling around, but he was disappointed.

Hanamichi’s face fell, but he quickly schooled his expression into a carefree one, so as not to show just how deeply hurt he was. “ Why? Did something come up?”

“ You could say so…”

“ What?”

Mitsui shrugged, avoiding Hanamichi’s blazing brown eyes. He felt so sorry for the younger boy. It was obvious from the way that he had talked that he had really been looking forward to being with Sendoh, with spending more time with him and getting to know him better. “ As I said, he has a lot of things going on with his life right now, Hanamichi. He’s not having the easiest time adjusting to living with a whole new family and all…”

“ Hey, Micchy. I think I deserve to know why the hell he’s backing out.” Hanamichi snapped, his hands clenching into fists by his side. He had been so stupid. He had actually thought for a while there that something might actually come out of this whole thing with Sendoh. He had obviously been wrong. “ I want to know why. Why would he build me up like this just to forget everything like that? Is this his idea of fun? Is fooling around with someone’s feelings how he amuses himself?”

Though right now, he was also feeling pretty down on Sendoh, Mitsui couldn’t resist the urge to defend his friend. “ Sendoh isn’t like that. You know that as well as I do!”

“ What the fuck do we really know about Sendoh, hey Micchy? Can you tell me that? I thought he was a nice guy. I thought he was great. I thought I might actually get to love him if I got to know him better but obviously, I was wrong…This is just…It’s just bad what he’s doing…” Hanamichi shouted, unable to suppress the anger and hurt that he was feeling, he got to his feet, glowering down at the still seated Mitsui. “ He shouldn’t…he shouldn’t mess around with someone like this! He had me hoping, all right? I admit that. I was a fool and I actually thought that maybe Sendoh could be the one. He shouldn’t start something that he doesn’t plan on following up on! It’s just cruel!”

“ He has his reasons!”

“ And I want to know what those reasons are! Tell me! Fuck it, Mitsui!” Hanamichi was taken by the sudden desire to pound the senior into pulp but he settled for kicking at a pebble by his feet, a poor substitute. “ I don’t like the way that he’s handling this at all, Mitsui! Not at all! I could have accepted him breaking things off, really. But did he have to do it through you? Couldn’t the bastard have faced me himself so that he could do some explaining? Did he think that he would be let off a lot easier if you were the one to do the job for him?”

“ Hanamichi-”

“ No Mitsui! Do you know how embarrassing this is for me? Being told like this? Knowing that you, of all people, have been dragged into the whole mess? That you probably know more about Sendoh and his reasons than I do?” Hanamichi looked at his friend pleadingly. “ Please. Just tell me why. Please.”

Mitsui closed his eyes. In his mind, he could see the friendship with Hanamichi that he had worked so hard to build up suddenly crumbling to the ground. “ I’m sorry, Hanamichi. I can’t.”

“ Like hell you can’t! You’ve got a mouth! Use it, damn you!”

“ Try to understand Sendoh…”

“ Try to understand Sendoh?” Hanamichi repeated disbelievingly, wondering how much more insensitive Mitsui could be. “ Why should I? Why should I make an effort to try and understand that bastard when it seems as though he didn’t even spare a single thought to think about how I would react to his doing this? Tell me what the hell you want me to do! Do you want me to go to Sendoh and tell him that everything is okay? That I wasn’t hurt by what he did? Because I can’t do that, Mitsui! I’m not Rukawa. I can’t bottle up all my feelings inside. I am hurt. I am hurting like hell right now because I cared. I really did.”

“ Sendoh did too…” Mitsui said softly, hoping that this would console him. This was the wrong thing to say though. It only succeeded in infuriating the freshman even more.

“ He sure has a funny way of showing how much he cares, huh?” Hanamichi commented, grabbing his things and walking away briskly, paying no attention whatsoever to Mitsui’s pleas for him to slow down and wait for him.

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