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Love and Betrayal Chapter 2

HOW IT ALL BEGAN

{Kanagawa University – Sports Hall}

"Where is that baka redhead?!"

"Now now Akagi, you know how Sakuragi is, he’ll be here."

"But the game is about to start in an hour and he has yet to show up for his warm ups!"

Kogure just smiled at his former captain. Turning his head he asked, "Rukawa, would you know where Sakuragi is right now?"

"No." Rukawa replied with a shrug and continued practicing his already perfect 3-point shots. He did not know where the redhead is. After this morning, they’ve split up to go to their respective classes. He has not seen him since. He does not want to admit it, but he is worried that something is bothering Sakuragi after their conversation. But what?

"Don’t worry Akagi, we can win this game without that idiot anyway", Mitsui snorted.

Kanagawa team is mostly composed of former Shohoku players and Shoyo players, with Fujima as captain and Akagi as co-captain. This year, two more players from Shohoku joined them, Rukawa and Sakuragi, freshmen again.

"No, I want him to play today." Fujima admonished. "I want to see how he can match up with the other teams’ players. Maki’s team is getting stronger each year and he has most of Kainan’s former players as well as Ryonan’s. All they lack is Sendoh; we’ll have a hard time defeating them. I need to make him fit to play up to par with them. We can’t just rely on Akagi and Hanagata all the time. Besides he’s proven time and time again that he is a fast learner."

"Is that why you are giving him personal trainings, Fujima-senpai?” teased Miyagi.

"I ah...." Fujima blushing, stammered. He doesn’t know if that’s the only reason. He admits that he needs Sakuragi to improve his skills more but, is that really the only reason?

[Darn that Miyagi. Why am I blushing anyway? Ok, so maybe I do like him, but....] Cutting his thoughts, Fujima looked up and is met with a glare from eyes the coldest shade of blue. Knowing what’s behind that look, he strode towards the taller boy and said, "don’t worry Rukawa, I only want to train him, for now." Fujima can’t help but add.

As a retort, Rukawa threw the ball he is holding to his captain, which the latter caught with ease, and said "I’ll teach the `aho. Stay away from him." Rukawa turned and went to pick up another ball and return to practice. Ignoring the surprise expressions of the others.

"Hey Ayako, did anything happen after we graduate?" asked a bewildered Kogure.

"Well, we noticed that Rukawa’s attitude towards Sakuragi changed in someway at the latter part of their junior year, and I guessed things did progress to the next level after we graduated."

"Yeah, we thought that he just gave up fighting with Hanamichi. Who would have thought that he might actually like that baka?" added Miyagi. "Just imagine, sometime ago they can’t stand each other, let alone be together. But look at them now. They became each others’ shadow." He added with a chuckle.

Shaking her head in remembrance, "Sakuragi seemed to be surprised at first but later on, he accepted what was purposely thrown in his face by Rukawa. You won’t believe the gossip they generated."

"You mean to say that Rukawa made the move on Sakuragi?" asked a shocked Mitsui.

"Yes, I believe he made the first move." Ayako remarked as she watched Rukawa shot a perfect lay-up.

*** Flashback ***

"Nice work you guys, that was a great game." Tapping her juniors’ shoulders with her fan lightly.

"Ha ha ha ha ha, now you know that the Tensai is really great, Ayako-san."

"Do’aho! It was not you alone who helped the team win, you know."

Sakuragi exclaimed, “Nani, Kitsune? Do you still doubt my ability?"

"Great game, guys.”

"Sendoh, what are you doing here? Came to admit that the Tensai has finally beaten you?"

"Ma Ma Sakuragi, I just want to ask if you want to join me later for a quick drink?"

Sakuragi’s jaw dropped. So did the rest of the Shohoku team, except for a certain someone who is wearing an expression that is similar to irritation. Everyone is wondering, why Ryonan’s ace star player is asking their loudmouth redhead for a … date?

"Aah, Sendoh, are you sure you want Sakuragi here to join you for a drink?" Ayako can’t help asking.

"Why, is there a problem, Ayako-chan?" inquired Sendoh.

"No, but...."

"Well, Sakuragi, are you coming?" Sendoh said with that usual sunny smile plastered all over his face. Sensing that Sakuragi has gone zombie on him, [I am sorry Sakuragi, but I have to do this. A deal is a deal. I can’t back out now], Sendoh used the oldest trick in the book to rouse the boy.

Turning to Ayako, "I guess you won’t have any problem, Ayako-chan, Sakuragi seems to be afraid to share a drink with me anyway."

Hearing those words, Sakuragi at once has snapped, "What!? I’ll go. I am not afraid of you Sendoh Akira."

Smiling, "Yosh, let’s go then, Sakuragi. Unless anyone else wants to join us?"

"I’ll go."

Every head turned towards the source of that voice, "What are you up to kitsune?" Sakuragi asked, but all he received was a cold glare from his rival.

"Ok then, the more the merrier. Let’s go Rukawa." Sendoh cheerfully led the two juniors out of the gym, leaving a stunned crowd behind.

*** End Flashback ***

"Definitely, Rukawa." Ayako ended. “I wonder if that night had changed him…?”

Listening to Ayako, Fujima can’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy shot through him, but if Hana-chan is happy, then so be it. [I don’t think I have a chance anyway. Why of all people do I have to fall for someone already taken?] Shaking his head to clear his thoughts, suddenly he heard someone exclaimed, "Unbelievable!"

"Hikoichi!!"

"Hello." A smiling Hikoichi greeted them. Obviously overhearing what the group was just talking about.

Slightly irritated with the "soon-to-be-reporter" player, Fujima gave a nod to the newcomer and said, "You are still as nosy as ever, Hikoichi. So where’re your team mates?"

"Maki-san and the other players are in the changing room. We met Hanagata- san on the way here and he showed us were we could change", supplied Hikoichi.

"Darn, he is late!"

"Well Akagi, it seems that you and Hanagata have to play the first half and then see if Hana-chan can play in the second. Ok people hustle up, we have less than 30 minutes till game time."

Hearing their captain, the players changed into their respective jerseys. Minutes later, the sports hall is filled with players on both sides, trying out different shots and doing their warm ups. 10 minutes till game time, still no redhead.

******************************

Resting on the bench, Rukawa is trying to think of any plausible reason for the lateness of his redhead. It is not that he’s never been late. But after they’ve been assigned captain and co-captain of Shohoku in their final year, Sakuragi has never missed a practice or a game, let alone be late! He has gotten serious with basketball. Both of them would normally stay a little later than the rest of the team to continue practice. Sometimes he would teach his Hana some new moves or just play a game of one- on-one. He hates to admit it, but Hana is definitely improving. If it had not been for his rigorous training during summer at the all Japan team training camp, he thinks that the self-proclaimed ‘tensai’ might actually equal or surpass him someday.

Smiling a little, he remembered the last summer that he had to go, before entering the university;

*** Flashback ***

[Kaede’s apartment]

The living room is bathe with a romantic glow, lights dimmed, soft music in the background and two bodies entwined together can be seen lying on the couch. The taller of the two is cradling his dark haired lover on top of him, arms protectively wrapped around the other like a blanket.

"Kaede, next summer, I’ll make sure to accompany you to that all Japan team training. You’ve been going there since our freshman years. What have you been doing there anyway?" Sakuragi whispered in his ear, which makes him feel all tingly inside.

"Training what else? Do‘aho." Kaede can’t help the warm feeling inside his heart with the knowledge that his Hana wants to go with him. He’ll miss him for sure. He has been going there for 3 consecutive years. The first time was bearable since he was still oblivious to what he’s feeling for his "hated" rival. The second time, he was reluctant to go but forced by circumstances, he needed to. Besides he has not yet garnered the courage to confess his "new found feelings", for fear of being rejected. Bu this time, if not for Anzai-sensei’s advice that he needs to finish this to improve himself, he would not leave his ‘new’ adorable ‘boyfriend’ behind. Rukawa took Hana’s hands in his and entwined their fingers. Bringing one close to his mouth, he gently nipped one finger after the other. Wanting more, he slowly shifted his weight, turned himself so that he is face to face with the guy beneath him and gave him a smile, which made the latter catch his breath for the sheer beauty of it.

“Well you better be, don’t go smiling at anyone else but me ok? Give them the famous cold stare that is Rukawa Kaede instead”. Hanamichi said with a slight smile, while slowly trailing a finger along those smiling lips. But his expressive brown eyes convey his fears of being left behind, of missing his kitsune for the whole summer. [What if he finds somebody else? What if he won’t miss me?]

Rukawa, not being as dense as his ‘aho, knows what’s really worrying his boyfriend. Deep blue eyes stared straight into brown inquisitive ones and said in all seriousness, “I WILL miss YOU Hana. I WILL come back. To YOU. Promise”, and ever so tenderly, he assured his worried lover with a kiss, meant to seal that promise. Sometime that night, two figures can be seen heading towards the bedroom, still in lip lock, to share a wonderful and passionate night together, finally consummating their newfound relationship.

*** End Flashback ***

Still engrossed in his happy memories, he missed seeing the knowing smiles Mitsui and Kogure exchanged. "I guess Ayako and Miyagi were right, he did change."

"An improvement. Just to see his face turn from that cold mask he usually wears to this soft and thoughtful expression he now has is enough proof. I guess, under that cold exterior is a person also capable of caring for someone. Even if it’s that baka."

"Sashi-kun, others also said the same thing to me when I fell for you, you know." Kogure playfully answered.

Mitsui almost did a double take and would have answered something when suddenly; he noticed a deafening silence fell inside the sports hall. Turning towards the direction of almost everyone’s eyesight. He heard someone shouted, "Sendoh-san!"

Rukawa’s head jerked up at the mention of that name. He was totally unaware of his surroundings until someone mentioned that name. [No, this can’t be. I am not yet ready.]

******************************

SDFA © 2002 fgg



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