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Laree's Slam Dunk Fanfiction
Family Ties
Part Nine

A stunned silence met this pronouncement.  Without another word, Rukawa grabbed a basketball which was lying on the floor.  He wanted to go out to the courts for some practice.  A bit of strenuous exercise always managed to calm him down, and right now, he needed that.  He couldn't believe that he had just lost all of his cool, a very rare occurrence for him, and blurted out his deepest secret to the last person that he would have wanted to know about it.  He was furious with himself, and at Sendo.

" What, you're just going to go?" Sendo demanded, watching as he gathered all of his things.  How could Rukawa act as though he had said nothing out of the ordinary and just walk away from this when they were just getting to the root of the problem?  So this was what was what  the matter was!  Rukawa had been jealous of the fact that Hanamichi had been paying more attention to him.  This was why he had said all those things and why there had been so much bad feeling between the two of them.  Now Sendo thought he was beginning to understand.

" Yes." Rukawa replied.  He just needed to get out of here as quickly as he could. He needed to get away from Sendo before he could say any more things that he could regret. Oh, God.  Had he really just revealed what he thought he had?  After all this time of keeping his feelings about the loud mouth redhead to himself, he finally just blurted it all out after a moment of sheer frustration and anger.  He couldn't believe it.  He was usually so in control.  But then things were different whenever it concerned anything with Sakuragi Hanamichi.  That guy made him so vulnerable.  So unsure of himself...

"Look, I think we should talk..."

" Why?  There's nothing to talk about."

" For one thing, we should discuss this whole Hanamichi scenario..." Sendo began.  He felt that nothing in this world would ever surprise him anymore after hearing that.  After all, Rukawa had always managed to act as though he thought Hanamichi was less than the dirt beneath his feet.  Who would have thought.

" There's nothing to discuss about Hanamichi." Rukawa snapped.  He took a while to compose himself before he went on.  Already it was pretty obvious to him what the outcome would be if the redhead was ever forced to make a choice between him and Sendo.  " It seems to me that it's pretty obvious who he wants."


" You've always managed to get the better of me in everything, Sendo." This was a very hard thing for Rukawa to admit but it was the truth.  The guy always managed to get off on top.  Always succeeded in getting everything that Rukawa longed for, and he hated it.  He couldn't stand it because it hurt his pride so badly to know that as far as many people were concerned, he was only second best to Sendo.  " You're...Better on court.  People like you better than they like me. Hanamichi likes you more.  That may be the way that things are now, but I swear on my life that I am going to get the better of you some day.  Someday, you're going to lose to me, and then you'll know how I feel."

" The two of us are not in some sort of competition, you know, Rukawa."  Sendo pointed out, slightly taken aback by all the things that he had just said.    He had known that the younger boy considered him a rival but had never realized just how badly Rukawa wanted to beat him.  "  Why can't the two of us just get along?  God knows that I've tried!  I've tried my very hardest ever since our parents got together!  I was thrilled when I found out that the two of us would be brothers.  I thought it would be great having you around all the time, that we could get to know each other more.  But you always just had to let your pride get in the way of everything.  You always just thought about  getting the best of me and you wouldn't even try.  Now you're angry at me because I fell for the greatest guy in the world, who also happens to feel the same way about me!   How could I have known about the way you felt for Hana?  You never did anything to indicate the slightest interest."

" I told you that I don't want to talk about it..." Rukawa snapped, pushing past Sendo and out of the doorway.  But the older boy followed him persistently.

" But we have to talk about it!  Otherwise, nothing will have been solved.  I'm sick of the way that you're acting, Rukawa.  Do you realize how hard you've made everything on me?  My moving here, going to a new school.  Not to mention Hanamichi." Sendo trotted down the stairs after the boy, who still did not acknowledge anything he said, choosing to act as though he couldn't hear anything at all." I've put up with you all this time.  Why can't you just give me a few minutes to talk instead of running away the moment things get a little too tough for you, hey?  Is that what you always do?  Do you always run away once things get a little messy?  That's not the way you are on court.  On court you face your problem."

" On court.  Off court,"  Rukawa whirled around, his blue eyes blazing.  All the pent up anger within him for the last few months finally surfacing, " You're always the problem.  It was bad enough having to cope with you on the basketball courts.  Now you're even at my house, invading my space and just generally ruining my whole life..." 

Sendo was outraged. " What about you then, dammit?  What about you, Rukawa?  Who was it that tried to sabotage my chances with Hanamichi?"

Rukawa ignored this.  " You could have had any other guy that you wanted, Sendo.  Why did it have to be him?"

" For the same reason that you fell for him, Rukawa."

Rukawa fixed him in his glare for a while, before going on his way once more.  He stalked down the corridor, Sendo at his heels.  He pushed the door to the family room open.  He needed to the duffle bad which he had dumped there the day before.  The spiky haired boy slammed the door shut behind him and leaned against it, effectively trapping Rukawa inside with him, along with his sister, who was talking on the phone, and Ito, Rukawa's older brother, who was playing a game on the Play Station with Totoya. Ito looked up curiously.  His younger brother hardly ever ventured out of his bedroom whenever he was stuck and home and never liked to set foot in the family room whenever he knew that someone else was in there.

" Get out of the way."  Rukawa snarled as he stood before the door, the bag that he had come in search for finally at hand.

Sendo shook his head.  He had wanted a private conversation with Rukawa, and he obviously wouldn't be getting that with all of their siblings hanging around them, but he would be dammed if  he let the guy go right then when there were so many things that the two of them had to get out on the open." No.  We're going to talk."

" Can you guys do that somewhere else?"  Sendo Naoko demanded, placing a hand over the speaker of the phone.  She glared at the two dangerously.  " I'm on the phone, and those two are already making enough noise playing that stupid game of theirs."

Rukawa returned the glare.  " And whose house is this?"

" Kaede!" Ito exclaimed, shocked by his brother's rudeness.  His younger brother got away with a lot of things but he guessed that their father would finally have enough of this when he heard about the way that Kaede was treating their step siblings.  Rukawa Tenchi had already warned his youngest child about his behavior towards Sendo.  This would be the last straw.  " Could you quit being a bastard for a while and just try to act decent?"

Rukawa ignored him.  " Get out of my way, Sendo.  I already told you that there's nothing for the two of us to talk about."

" I want to talk to you."

" Well, I don't want to hear it."

" You can't keep on avoiding me you know."  Sendo pointed out, ignoring the curious looks that Ito and Naoko, who had finally set the phone down, were giving the two of them.  Totoya was still engrossed in the video game, completely oblivious to the tension in the room.  " We live in the same house, Rukawa.  We're brothers."

" Step-brothers."  The Shohoku player reminded him, " There's a big difference."

" Well, there shouldn't be.  ' Cos like it or not, for better or worse, the two of us are going to be stuck together for pretty much the rest of our lives.  We'll have to get all of this straight and I'd like to do that now, while things are still in their early stages."

" I don't want to talk about this right now, Sendo."

" I'm sorry about Hanamichi." He pressed on relentlessly, not minding Rukawa.  He had lowered his voice so that only the younger boy could catch what he was saying.  " I never knew that you felt that way about him.  I'm sorry if I make you feel inadequate, because you aren't.  You're a great player.  Sooner or later, you're going to end up getting as good, and even better than me at basketball.  I'm sure of that.  Also, I'm sure that people will like you more if you started acting a little less aloof, Rukawa.  I'm sorry if by being here, I'm invading your space.  But there's nothing that I can do about that.  Like I've already said, the two of us are stuck together whether we like it or not.  I've been trying to make the best that I can out of the situation even though you've been making it awfully hard for me.  I've been trying because I want this so badly to work.  I like having a complete family again.  I like your father and Ito and even you, most of the times.  Your dad makes my mother happier than I've ever seen her in a long, long time and I'm grateful to him for that. Please, can't we just try to get along?  I would do anything just to have a bit of peace between the two of us.  Anything.  This conflict about Hana...Well, I'm asking you to put it behind you.  Just try to be happy for me.  I like him a lot, Rukawa.  I really do.  I'm not sorry about the fact that Hanamichi seems to reciprocate my feelings.  In fact, I'm incredibly, giddily happy about that, but you know what, if it had been the other way around, if you had been the one that Hanamichi had chosen instead of me,  I would have been glad for you.  I wouldn't have begrudged you your happiness, like you're doing to me now."

" That's only easy for you to say, Sendo, because that isn't the case right now, is it?  Had it been the other way around, I'm sure that you wouldn't be any more pleasant than I'm being at this moment."

" Rukawa..."

" Now let me go.  You got what you want. I listened to you didn't I?"

Realizing that he could do no more, Sendo stepped out of the way and allowed the younger boy to pass.


" Hello, Hiro-kun..."  Sendo made a pathetic attempt at a smile as the front door to the large, well appointed house was thrown open and Koshino appeared before the open doorway.

" Kira-kun?"  Koshino peered out at him quizzically, noting his rather disheveled state and the fact that he was all sweaty and panting for breath.

" Ne, Hiro-kun. I'm sorry that I appeared here all of the sudden without a warning or anything.  I was gonna call you and tell you that I was coming but I sorta forgot.  And then I thought that I would just call you on my way here but then it turned out that I left my cell phone at home.  I guess that I could have used one of those pay phones but then I wasn't really thinking and...and..." Realizing that he was blabbing nonsense, Sendo took a deep breath and went on, somewhat more calm.  "I just needed to see you.  I hope I'm not being a bother."

" Don't tell me you were stupid enough to walk all the way here..."

" Um...Well...Yeah.  I walked.  I think.  I don't really remember.  I was going over a few things..." Sendo stammered, rather flustered.  He ran the back of his hand across his flushed face in order to wipe off the sweat.  " I...well.  Something sort of just happened and I needed someone to talk to...At first I thought that maybe I could go to Kogure but then I realized that he and Mitsui were probably out on a date so then I thought I could go to you..."

" You better get inside then.  You look like shit."  Koshino told him, as blunt as he ever was before.  " Anyways, you can stay here for the night.  Or I can get the driver to bring you home later on, if you like.  It'd be no bother..." He added quickly, as Sendo began to protest about this.  Koshino led him into the luxuriously furnished home, calling out to his mother that Sendo had come over for a visit.  When Mrs.  Koshino had finished telling him how glad she was to him again, they went into Koshino's bedroom, Sendo flopping down onto the large bed while Koshino pulled over a chair beside him.

The Ryonan player listened carefully, once in a while asking questions about the situation, as Sendo poured his whole heart out about everything.  He told his best friend and former lover all about how miserable Rukawa was making everything for him, how he had tried to sabotage things between him and the redhead.  And then how it had eventually come out that Rukawa was actually in love with Hanamichi too.

" I don't know what to do..." Sendo finally concluded, one hand absently massaging his throbbing temple.  " Hanamichi means so much to me.  The moment that I first saw him, Hiro, that very first moment that I first laid eyes on him in the practice game that we played against them before, I already knew that there was something in him that I've always looked for.  When I eventually got to know him, I became even more sure that he was the one that was meant for me.  I know that sounds so cliché and everything, but that's the way I felt.  I felt as though I could spend the rest of my life with him without getting sick of him.  The more I got to know him, the more things I found out about him that made him even more precious in my eyes.  But then again, there's my new family.  You should see my mom now, Hiro.  She's so happy!  I've never seen her like this before.  Not since my dad died.  Tenchi-san is a great guy, he treats me, Totoya and Naoko like his very own children.  Hell, Totoya's even started to call him daddy!  Ito is the big brother that I've always wanted.  Bottom line is, the only thing that's ruining everything is the fact that until now, Kaede hasn't seemed to be able to accept us.  That's the thing that's causing so much tension at home. It bothers my mom and Tenchi and I can't help feeling guilty.  And now, things sure aren't going to get any better between me and Kaede as long as this thing with Hanamichi is still hanging between the two of us..."

" So what are you saying?"

" I'm saying that I can't have a nice, conflict free relationship with Kaede as long as there's still Hanamichi at the side." Sendo heaved a loud sigh. " But the problem is, that I want both.  The perfect family and my dream guy.  Selfish of me, huh?"

Koshino did not comment on this last question.  He scratched his chin absently as he tried to grasp everything that Sendo had just told him.  This was a rather messy situation that his old friend was in and he was suddenly damn glad that his mother had not yet remarried after she had separated from his father and that his father lived far, far away in England so he didn't have to deal with psychotic young step brothers like Rukawa Kaede.  " First of all, Sendo, I don't think that's selfish at all.  You of all people deserve both those things after all that hell that you went through after your father's death..." That had been a particularly difficult time in Sendo's life, he knew, even though they hadn't even met each other back then.  Sendo, who had always been expressive about his feelings, had told Koshino all about it when the two of them had still been going out.  The spiky haired boy had only been twelve years old when his father had gotten involved in a scandal about some discrepancies in the accounting of the bank that he had been the President of.  Stressed out, tired of all of the legalities and thinking that his career would never survive the scandal, Sendo Akito had gone  into  the bathroom of their home one day, just as Akira had been readying himself for school, and had used his revolver to commit suicide.  It had been Akira who had first discovered the body of his father.  " But I can see why you're feeling confused.  You feel that you have to choose.  That you can't get both of these things at the same time.  I tend to agree with you, because from the way that you describe Rukawa Kaede, he seems to me to be a vindictive little bastard who wont rest until he makes everyone around him as miserable as he is.  So on one hand, there's Sakuragi Hanamichi.  The guy that you feel could possibly be your soul mate.  I don't think  I have to tell you how hard it is to find someone like that these days.  Hell, look at me.  I'm still searching,  goddamit.  You, the Hentai King, somehow managed to beat me to it.  On the other hand, you also want to have the family that you've always longed for.  But Rukawa just won't give you any peace because of poor, Sakuragi who is unwittingly the cause of all of your troubles."

" That's it exactly!"

" Have you tried talking to Rukawa?  Telling him that Hanamichi seems to care for you too and that his meddling wouldn't even do him any good because as far as you can tell, Hanamichi has no feelings for him other than sheer loathing?"

" I wouldn't include that sheer loathing part.  That's just mean, reminding him of that."

" Oh, yeah, Sendo.  As if you should worry about being mean to the poor, defenseless Rukawa.

" Even the Ice Prince has feelings!"  Sendo pointed out.

" As do you!  So he should just quit being such a damn bastard and let you be.  You shouldn't have to be asked to make such a choice."

" But I have to..." Sendo shut his eyes tightly as though this would somehow help his thinking get clearer.  " I have to.  And I don't know what the hell I'm supposed to do.  Do I give it a go with Hanamichi?  Or do I just let go of him, let Rukawa have him if Hanamichi would want that, and hope that the guy comes around when he gets what he wants and gives me a bit of peace at home."

" Either way, you would be losing something."

" Which is more important, Koshino?  My family or my love life?"

" You shouldn't be asking me.  You should be making this decision on your own."  Koshino didn't want to meddle too much.  He didn't want to be blamed if Sendo made the wrong choice because of him.  He wanted the guy to be happy.  Why couldn't Rukawa Kaede just let him be?

" If it were you, Koshino-kun, what would you do?"

Koshino shrugged, thinking this over.  " You're stuck with your family for the rest of your life, Sendo.  And you're going to be miserable if you have a bad relationship with your family members.  On the other hand, with a boyfriend, you're taking a big risk.  You never know how long the guy will be with you.  Or if he's worth it."

" So you would choose to put your family first?"

" If I were in the same position, yes.  Isn't that the way that the Japanese and Chinese culture are?  Family first before yourself.  Of course, the times are different now.  Values have changed and what I stand for may be considered a concept that is a bit out of date..."

" I don't think it's out of date..." Sendo sighed, his next course of action suddenly becoming crystal clear. " Family first before yourself.  That makes perfect sense.  That was always what they said at school.  Never bring dishonor to the family name...That was what pushed my dad to kill himself, I think.  The fact that he thought he had shamed out family with his mistakes...I wouldn't have cared about the shame.  I could have lived with all of that if he had still been with us...Always do what is best for the family...That's what mom always used to say.  I guess I just have to be a good boy and listen to my mother then, don't I?  That way, maybe I can have some peace...I'm just so tired of the constant fighting with Rukawa, Koshino-kun.  So tired.  I just want all of this over with..."

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