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Laree's Slam Dunk Fanfiction
Family Ties
Part Three

From the very beginning Rukawa had hated Sendo.  First he had disliked him, seeing him as a rival on court, and now disliked him even more, if that was possible,  because of the fact that he had dared to interfere into his family life as well.  Everything about him irritated him.  It was as though the guy had been created for the express purpose of making his life miserable.  And created well.  Right now, the fact that the bastard was talking to the do'aho so intimately wasn't exactly endearing Sendo to him anymore, either.

A casual observer would have thought that Rukawa was dozing peacefully over his food, as he usually did. If you looked more closely, though, you would see that he was watching the table where the four basketball players had gathered under his thick, dark lashes.  Watching, with special interest, the red head and the spiky haired boy.

But right then, in spite of his intense, almost overpowering loathing for the guy, he would have given anything to have been Sendo.  He would have given anything at all in this world to have Hanamichi hanging onto his every word like that, to be smiling at him the way that he was doing to Sendo at that very moment.  A smile that reached even the iciest of hearts, even Rukawa's.  He longed for that smile to be directed his way, to be the one that brought it on, but he knew very well that there was pretty much no chance of that.

All because of one really stupid misunderstanding.

Other people might think that the situation he was in was funny.  But then Rukawa had never been the type who saw the funny side of a joke.  Especially not when the joke was on him.  And right now, it seemed to him as though his whole life was nothing more than just one big joke.  As if whoever was in charge up there had decided to have some fun at his expense.

It was like something that came out of those cheesy soap operas that those silly girls discussed all the time. Everyone was familiar with the scenario.  Boy likes girl, girl likes other boy.  That sort of situation.  Only in this case, the guy that the girl has a crush on, the one that the other considers his mortal enemy, is actually in love with the other guy and couldn't care less about the girl.

Things were already complicated enough like that.  Rukawa had never counted on the prospect that maybe his annoyingly charming, not to mention disturbingly handsome elder step brother might jump into the picture also.  Things just got worse and worse in his life, didn't they?

Somebody up there was having a lot of fun with him...

Of course, he may have just been reading far too much into everything.  He tended to do that in all things concerning Hanamichi.  Sendo might just be his usual, disgustingly friendly self right then.  But Rukawa didn't think so, dammit.  Not with the way Sendo sat so closely to Hanamichi, not with the way that he casually brushed some minuscule speck of dirt off the broad shoulders of the red head's uniform.

It was obvious to him that his dear, dear step brother, had the hots for Hanamichi.  And he wasn't being very discreet about it either.  Not with his braying, school-girl like laughter, not with the way he took every chance he could to have contact with the handsome red head.

He wondered if Sendo's mother would mind awfully if he went up there and clobbered the bastard to death with his lunch tray.  Deciding that maybe she would, seeing how upset she had gotten when he had stomped that stupid toy drum of Totoya's to oblivion, he contented himself with coming up with all sorts of imaginative ways that he could make Sendo's life miserable.

" Hey there, Rukawa-kun!"

Speak of the devil.  Rukawa kept his eyes tightly shut, as though Sendo would just suddenly self destruct if he chose not not to acknowledge his presence.

" Rukawa-kun?"

" I'm sleeping."

Sendo smiled at this.  The guy  looked pretty cute when he was pretending to sleep.  Too bad that his personality was a total turn off.  " No you're not.  You can't talk while you're sleeping."

" I can do a lot of things while I'm sleeping."

" So I heard."  Sendo agreed.  " But come on.  You can sleep just as well with us in our table, I think."

" No."

" No?  But why, Rukawa-kun?  Come on.  Please."  Sendo wheedled, giving his arm a few good tugs.

Rukawa's eyes flew open.  He then said the first thing that came into his mind.  " You're gay, aren't you?"

That shut him up.  Finally.  That was the first time that Rukawa had ever seen that shell shocked look on the guys face.  Sendo opened his mouth to reply.  Then opened his mouth again but still no sound came out.

" You are, aren't you?"

Sendo cleared his throat uncomfortably, an awkward half smile on his lips.  " If I said yes, would I just be giving you even more reason to hate me?"

" I don't need any reasons for that.  I just do."

" Then in that case, I am."  He admitted, watching Rukawa's face closely for any signs of his reaction to this.  Not that there were any.  " Does that disgust you?"

" No.  Your personality does, though."

The older boy had to fight hard to keep his temper at this.  Here he was, trying his best to get on with the ungrateful little spoiled brat and he was getting rapidly nowhere.  His mother had told him to try and bear with the youngest of the Rukawa children, saying that Kaede was just being difficult because he was upset by all the changes that had suddenly occurred in his life.  But Sendo rather thought that Rukawa was just being a bastard out of force of habit.  " What is it exactly that you don't like about my personality?"

Rukawa shrugged.  " You smile too much."

" Well, I'm sorry if that's offensive to you."

" You're too cheerful.  Just like that do'aho."

" Do'aho?"  Sendo repeated quizzically.

" Hanamichi.  The guy that you were just flirting with."  Rukawa told him, his eyes narrowing slightly at this.  If it hadn't been for the fact that Hanamichi hated his guts all because of that Haruko Akagi, he would have confronted him by now and told him about all the things that he made him feel.  That wasn't an option right at that moment though.  Hanamichi considered him to be his mortal enemy and would probably laugh his head off if he told him about all of that.

" Flirting with?"  Sendo tried to cover his surprise.  He didn't think Rukawa was that observant!  Hell, he hadn't even thought the guy was awake!  And what was he doing watching them in the first place anyways?  " Is being friendly to someone considered flirting now?"

" You weren't just being friendly.  You were being a shameless flirt." Rukawa corrected him.

" And this should matter to you because...?"

Because I love Hanamichi and I don't want anybody messing with him,  Rukawa thought inwardly.  Instead, he said out loud.  " Because I don't like him."  He wondered if Sendo could see that this was an outright lie.

" That's really no concern of mine, Rukawa-kun.  Why should it matter to me if you dislike him?"  Sendo shrugged.  " As Ito said before, it seems as though you dislike everybody.  No offense or anything.  But really, if you bothered to get to know Hana-kun a bit better, you would see what a charming guy he is!"

Oh, I know perfectly well about that do'aho's charms, Rukawa thought miserably to himself, cursing Haruko Akagi inwardly for being the cause of the bad feeling between him and Hanamichi.  Haruko Akagi...A thought struck him.  " Besides, he's straight.  He has a crush on Haruko Akagi."

Well, this was an unexpected setback.  He had never even considered the possibility that there might already be another person in Hanamichi's heart.  He could handle the whole straight thing.  After all, Koshino had been straight until Sendo had confronted him with his feelings but it might be a little more awkward if another person was involved.  " Haruko Akagi, huh?  Is she pretty?"

" I guess so."

" Does she like Hana-kun too?"

Hana-kun?  Sendo was already close enough to Hanamichi to call him Hana-kun after only a few minutes of knowing each other?  Rukawa's stomach twisted into a tight knot at this.  He wasn't about to encourage Sendo by telling him that Haruko felt absolutely nothing for the redhead.  " She does.  Very much."

" So, why are they still not together?"

" Haruko is the shy type."

Sendo's smile brightened at this.  " You know what they say though, right, younger brother?"

" No..."

" All is fair in love and war."

Rukawa cursed Sendo inwardly.  Damn.  The guy was more persistent than he had ever thought possible.  But then, come to think of it, so was he.  Just holding on every day, hoping against hope that the person who absolutely detested him would just suddenly wake up one day, thinking that maybe he wasn't so bad after all and give him a chance.  " This whole Hanamichi thing is not a good idea."

" Why?"

" It just isn't.  Not very good for a do'aho to get it on with another do'aho.  You know what they say..."

" What?"

" Never underestimate the power of very stupid people in groups."

Sendo shook his head.  " You know what, Rukawa.  I used to think that there was no person out there that I could dislike.  I'm beginning to think differently."

" I'm honored to be the one who is changing your views."  Rukawa retorted.

" If you want to continue being your usual lonesome self right here, then be my guest." Sendo declared turning to walk away.  " I guess they were all right in saying that you're a lost case."

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