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Laree's Slam Dunk Fanfiction
Family Ties
Part 12


Something was going on. Akagi could feel it and yet, for the life of him, he couldn’t figure out what the hell the matter was with his teammates. All of them, with the exception of Ryota, himself and the non-starting members of the team, were acting strangely. He had been standing by Anzai-sensei for the past thirty minutes or so observing them, and quite frankly, he was concerned with what he saw.

Mitsui’s shots were wild and erratic, making it seem as though the scar-faced player was aiming for air and not the basket. He could tell that his fellow senior was beginning to get frustrated by the way the ex-gangster was agitatedly rubbing the scar on his chin. The source of that agitation, Akagi noticed, seemed to be Hanamichi. And Hanamichi was the one that troubled Akagi the most, quite frankly. The freshman just wasn’t acting like he usually did, and this puzzled him. 

He was usually the picture of enthusiasm at practices. He was the one who urged everybody on, taunting Mitsui or Rukawa whenever they made a wrong move. But there was none of that right then. Hanamichi was practicing his dribbling by one corner with Ayako with no complaints, no smart-ass comments. Something that Akagi and the rest of the team weren’t accustomed to. The freshman should have been at his element right then, what with the way that Mitsui, Rukawa, and not to mention Sendoh, were playing, but not a word came out of him. Even the Sakuragi Guntai members were obviously concerned as they hovered about by the open doorway of the gym. Kogure was alternately hovering between Hanamichi and Sendoh, apparently having forgotten that he had his own exercises to attend to. 

Sendoh’s attitude also worried Akagi. He had just been acting wrong the whole day. The senior could find no other way to describe him. He looked worn out and was moving sluggishly in a way that Akagi had never seen him move before. He hadn’t seen the boy smile or give an encouraging comment when needed, which was very unusual since Sendoh was usually the Prince of Pep himself, and he had even snapped at Rukawa once when the freshman had glared at him after blocking one of his fade away shots. Sendoh had just seemed to lose his cool, telling Rukawa that he couldn’t get his way in everything in life, like he seemed to think he could.

Sighing, Akagi decided that they were going to get rapidly nowhere if everything went on the way that they were. So he called for a thirty-minute break before the next half of the practice started. He made his way to the drinking fountains situated outside the gym, gesturing for Kogure to join him so that he could try and get the whole story out of his best friend.


Usually, when Akagi called for the customary break, Rukawa, unlike the rest of his teammates, utilized the time to practice his shots, not wanting to lose his momentum. Today though, he decided against doing that. He wanted to observe the people around him, more specifically; he wanted to know what was going on with the redhead because he was really acting quite strangely. Strangely enough so that even he, a not too observant person at the best of times, noticed that something was wrong. So he sat himself down on the nearby bleachers and pretended to have dozed off while he surreptitiously watched everything going on around him under his lowered dark lashes. He had found out long ago that he could discover a lot more about things if he pretended to be dead to the world while actually observing all that was going on.

It felt…strange for Hanamichi to be acting all reserved and quiet like this. And since he had been so busy watching the redhead for any signs of what the matter with him might be, Rukawa’s own performance had suffered, much to his disgust. But he noticed that it wasn’t only him that had been affected by Hanamichi’s lackluster self. Mitsui looked as though he was just about ready to kill someone and had been giving him death glares the whole day. Kogure was on hyperactive “ I-care-for-you-and-am-here-if-you-need-me” mode and had been avoiding his gaze the whole time at practice, openly snubbing him when he had been giving out drinks just a few minutes before, and Sendoh was on edge, seeming to be nervous, high-strung and easily upset.

The thing that struck Rukawa the most though, was the fact that Hanamichi, Sendoh, Mitsui and Kogure were not acting like the one, big happy family that they usually were each practice when they would all be gathered at one corner with Gori and Ayako, joking around. Usually they could all be seen, Mitsui pretending to be humping Hanamichi’s leg, Sendoh jokingly trying to pull him off, yelling that someone was going to be jealous if he went on with that. Kogure would be blushing furiously at his boyfriend’s behavior muttering excuses about Mitsui’s sanity to an amused Ayako while Akagi would just roll his eyes at their immature behavior. None of that familiar routine was going on right then though.

Mitsui, Hanamichi and Sendoh had not been speaking to each other throughout the whole time at practice. They had been avoiding each other and even now, were standing apart. Mitsui was sitting by Yasuda at the bleachers, growling about something as though he were in an incredibly bad mood, which he undoubtedly was in. Hanamichi was sitting quietly at the corner where he had been practicing his dribbling; fussing with the laces of his shoes, while Sendoh was just…sitting. Staring off into space as though he were in deep thought.

Rukawa really didn’t know what was causing all the tension, but if he had to take an educated guess, then he would have to say that it had something to do with Hanamichi and Sendoh, because they were the ones that were acting the strangest. They hadn’t spoken to each other the whole day, weren’t even looking at each other and were obviously taking great pains to ignore the presence of the other which was a weird thing to be going on for two people who were supposed to like each other a lot, like Sendoh claimed they did.

Maybe Hanamichi had cold feet, Rukawa decided, unable to come up with any other hypothesis since he was not one of the most imaginative people around. Why should he bother to think over such a thing though? All that should matter to him was that Sendoh had backed off from Hanamichi, for now at least.

The dark haired super rookie of the Shohoku basketball club was getting rather light headed after all of that practice. He pushed himself up to his feet, ignoring Mitsui’s glares as he passed by where the scar-faced senior was sitting. He needed a drink. 

He was just about to round the corner of the gym to where the water fountains were located, when he heard Kogure’s familiar voice. He sounded troubled, so Rukawa stopped in his tracks, staying out of view. 

“ I don’t really know if it’s wise telling you about this, Akagi. It’s Sendoh and Rukawa’s personal matter…” The bespectacled boy insisted, looking incredibly frail and small when compared to their hulking captain, who towered over him, glaring at him in a way that Rukawa had never seen him do when it came to Kogure. At the sound of his name, Rukawa stiffened. He knew that it was morally wrong to eavesdrop but since the two were 
talking about him, shouldn’t he have the right to listen in on their conversation?


“ What’s the matter, Akagi? What did you want to talk to me about?” Kogure Kiminobu asked him as he came to as stand still beside his best friend. He ran a hand through his brown hair as he heaved a tired sigh. He couldn’t, in his six years of playing basketball, ever remember a practice more stressful that this one, not in physical terms, but emotionally and mentally.

He had had to keep Mitsui from confronting Rukawa outright, he thought that it would be better if Sendoh were the one to do that, if the poor guy ever worked up the guts to do so, and even now Kogure was worried that his scar-faced lover might get it in his head to do just that in his absence. Therefore, he was quite anxious to get his little talk with Akagi over so that he could get back to watching over his rather hotheaded loved one.

“ Let’s go get a drink outside, shall we?”

“ Uh…no thanks, Akagi-kun. I have my water bottle with Hisashi-kun and if you don’t mind…” with a nervous little laugh, Kogure tried vainly to extricate his wrist from Akagi’s tight grasp. He sent a pleading look over to Mitsui who, strangely enough, didn’t seem to notice it and just went on glaring at a sleeping Rukawa as though he would somehow be able to get the younger boy to roll over and die just by the strength of his will. It was strange how Mitsui always managed to be around to remind people that Min-kun was his when Kogure did not welcome his interruptions and yet never seemed to be around when he needed him to bail him out from something. Unable to do anything against the strength of Akagi short of screaming bloody murder to attract the attention of his other team mates in the hopes that they would prevent him from being dragged bodily outside, he meekly allowed himself to be led outside, cursing genetics and the fact that his family line just wasn’t built as sturdily as the Akagis were.

Once they got to the cluster of drinking fountains by one side of the gym, Akagi finally let go of him. He stood at his full height, glaring down at the now rather alarmed Kogure, who was not used to such treatment from his best friend. He was used to being adored by everyone after all. He was Kogure Kiminobu, for god’s sake! The darling of Shohoku High! The one who had the title as “ The Most Likable Senior” at the yearbook polls in the bag. Being under the evil eye that Akagi usually only used on the less than cooperative members of the basketball club made him feel rather awkward and so, he smiled in the hopes of the smile that the girls in the third year class had unanimously voted most beautiful and genuine, would clear the air somewhat. “ What seems to be the matter, Akagi-kun?”

The Captain of the Shohoku basketball club smirked, knowing full well what his fellow senior was thinking. “ Kogure, I’m not Mitsui. You can’t melt me into a quivering puddle of lovesick goo with just your smile. You should know that by now.”

“ I wasn’t-”

Akagi pressed on, fixing the much shorter boy under a stern gaze. Kogure squirmed, nervously taking off his glasses and proceeding to polish the lenses vigorously against his shirt. “ You know something that I don’t Kogure, and as the captain of the team, I think I have a right to know about whatever it is that is causing my players to play this damn bad!”

“ They’re…not playing that badly…” Kogure lied outright.

“ Not playing badly my ass, Kogure. I think we would be better off recruiting their mothers to play for us in the Inter High, at this rate!”

The bespectacled boy stopped his frantic polishing of his glasses, tipping his head thoughtfully to one side. “ But Akagi-kun! Hanamichi-kun’s mother is in Tokyo with his father and Sendoh-kun’s mother has a seven-year-old to take care of. I don’t think she would have the time to practice.”

Akagi sighed. Kogure was one of them now. He was now officially one of the blundering idiots that seemed to abound in the Shohoku basketball club. He should have known that it would only be a matter of time before his best friend would succumb to all the bad influence around him. “ That was only a joke, Kogure. You know, caustic wit and all?”

“ Oh yes! Of course!” Kogure agreed, nodding his head eagerly. “ I see. I see.”

For the first time since he had gotten to know Kogure, Akagi was taken by the sudden urge to Gori Punch him, just to see if that would bring him back to his old senses. “ Kogure, will you please just tell me what the hell is going on with these guys? I have never seen Hanamichi and Sendoh this quiet! Usually those two cause more of a ruckus in practice than the whole Shoyo Cheering Squad! And Mitsui. God…Mitsui.” Akagi shook his head unable to find the words to express his disgust at the three-pointer’s suddenly lack luster performance. “His shooting today…quite frankly, sucks. What did you do? Use up all his stamina last night when the two of you went out on a date?”

Kogure’s cheeks reddened. “ Akagi!”

The Shohoku captain shrugged. “ Well, that guy isn’t very well known for his longevity, is he?”

“ It’s nothing like that. It’s just that…” Kogure sighed. He and Akagi were both unaware of the dark haired freshman listening in quietly to their conversation. “ I don’t really know if it’s wise telling you about this, Akagi. It’s Sendoh and Rukawa’s personal matter…”

“ Not anymore if it affects the whole performance of the team.” Akagi corrected him.

“ Akagi, those two have problems. Rukawa isn’t exactly making this whole family thing easy on Sendoh…”

“ Sendoh’s a big boy. He can handle what that freshman can dish out for him, I think.”

Kogure shook his head, his disgust evident in his voice as he went on with his explanation. “ You just wouldn’t believe what a spoilt brat Rukawa is. You know me, Akagi. I don’t usually go around slagging people off. But when someone hurts a perfectly nice guys like Sendoh and Hanamichi in such a way…”

Akagi frowned. Kogure was right. He knew that his best friend was just not the type to talk about a person like this if he didn’t have some sort of reason. And Rukawa must have done something really bad to get mild mannered Kogure all worked up like this. Rukawa had always been one of the bespectacled senior’s pet projects. Kogure had believed that someday, he would be able to bring the boy out of his sullen shell with some effort. But to hear him talking about the freshman now, one would have thought that he was the scum of the earth.

The third, and hidden party of their conversation stiffened at this. All right, so he wasn’t exactly being an angel when it came to things concerning Sendoh, but when had he ever done anything to hurt Hanamichi? So he called him names sometimes and even fought with him once in a while, but he liked Hanamichi. He would never really seriously hurt the guy.

“ So, do you want the long version, or the short one?”

Akagi shrugged. “ The short one then. We don’t really have that much time before we have to go back to practice.”

“ What if I were to tell you that Rukawa doesn’t really hate Hanamichi like he seems to? That he actually likes the guy?”

Rukawa stiffened at this. He didn’t like having his deepest feeling broadcast to the whole world like this, but what could he do? It wasn’t as though he could just jump out of his hiding place and demand that his Kogure-sempai take shut the hell up and mind his own business for once in his miserable little life.

The Captain of the Shohoku Basketball club smirked. “ I would tell you that you were crazy. That those two together would be like throwing a lighted match into a roomful of gunpowder…”

“ And Sendoh and Hanamichi? Your impression of them?”

Akagi scratched his head, suddenly wondering what Kogure was getting to, pairing that idiotic redhead up with his fellow teammates. “ Somewhat better, I guess. Sendoh seems to have a lot of patience for that redhead’s idiocy. He can…bear Hanamichi and his stupidity, I guess.”

Kogure nodded, this had been his sentiment exactly. The reason why Mitsui’s relationship with the redhead had not worked out was because the scar-faced boy had not had enough patience to try and understand Hanamichi and his ways, but Sendoh seemed to have an infinite well of it, which made Kogure think that he would be the redhead’s match. It took quite a lot to be able to handle the rather wild freshman after all, and the last thing that Hanamichi needed would be to be paired up with someone with a temper that was just as combustible as his own, such as Rukawa.

So Kogure began to recount the whole story of how the fox eyed boy had meddled into Sendoh and Hanamichi’s affairs. He told Akagi about everything leading up to what Mitsui had told him about what had happened the night before, when he had gone to break off the date with Hanamichi at Sendoh’s request.

Rukawa listened, his face stony, not giving any indication as to the turmoil of feeling within him that were suddenly overwhelming him. He listened as Kogure went on about how Sendoh had meant so much to Hanamichi, how disappointed the redheaded freshman had been.

The fox eyed freshman suddenly couldn’t take any more when Kogure began to go on and on about how it was just wrong for Rukawa to tear two people apart who were so obviously meant to be together. He just couldn’t accept it. There was no way that Hanamichi could possibly care that deeply for someone like Sendoh! There was just no way. He tried to push aside the sudden feeling of guilt that assuaged him as he remembered the miserable look on Hanamichi’s face when he had first walked into the Shohoku gym and laid eyes on Sendoh. 

He hadn’t done anything to upset the redhead, Rukawa reassured himself as he made his way back to the gym, it was all Sendoh’s fault if he had decided to just give everything up like this at the slightest sign of trouble. Hanamichi’s misery was entirely the spiky haired players fault. He had had nothing to do with it whatsoever.

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