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There was excited chatter as students milled around outside the Shohoku High School gym. Rumor has it that the basketball club was going to get their pictures taken for the yearbook. It was also rumored that, aside from the group photo of the entire team, individual photos would also be taken of each member.

You can probably guess that most of the students outside the gym were girls waiting for the opportunity to see their idol, Rukawa. There was even a bet going around to see whether he would smile for the birdie or not. Of course, the Rukawa fan club was outraged by the bet. But all of them were secretly hoping that he WOULD smile.

Inside the gym, most of the team members were happy for the break and for the attention they were receiving. However, there were some who were just about ready to snap. For example, Akagi was annoyed that, not only was practice cancelled because of the picture-taking session, his precious gym floor was also getting scuffed in the process. (Apparently, the photographer and his assistants were wearing street shoes.)

On the other hand, Ayako was miffed because Miyagi was paying more attention to one of the photographer’s assistants. (Of course, she won’t admit this.) Kogure was also losing his patience because Mitsui kept pestering the photographer about solo pictures of himself. (Kogure had to pull him away when the photographer “accidentally” dropped a heavy metal tripod towards Mitsui.)

Hanamichi was one of the happy people in the gym. He was wearing a goofy grin because, as he said, the Tensai’s image will finally be immortalized. Rukawa, as usual, was asleep on the team bench.

Finally, the photographer announced that he and his assistants were done with the set-up. He requested Anzai-sensei that the basketball team form several lines in front of the camera. A mad scramble ensued as members searched for the best spot. In the end, however, Ayako had to use her fan to get them to line up properly, with the tallest players (which of course included Akagi, Hanamichi and Rukawa) crouching down in front of the shorter ones.

As the photographer held up three fingers and folded them down one by one as a silent countdown, the students waiting outside held their collective breaths. Now it would be revealed. Would Rukawa smile or not? As the last finger folded, a bright flash emerged as well as a collective sigh of disappointment. Yup, you guessed it. Rukawa did NOT smile at all. In fact, he looked half-asleep.

But his fan club did not lose hope. After all, they reasoned among themselves, there’s still the solo shots to be taken later on.

Now, it is common knowledge that solo shots, especially really good solo shots, are notoriously difficult to take. Why is that, you may ask? Well, imagine yourself, sitting or standing in front of the camera, trying to look either serious or cute, when suddenly, people standing behind the photographer start making funny faces at you? I rest my case.

Anyway, as expected, the session for the solo shots was scene to a series of comedic acts performed both behind and in front of the camera. No one was safe from the clownish antics set loose by the presence of a camera. Even Akagi, serious as he always is, twitched just as the shutter opened. Of course, everyone laughed uproariously, especially the so-called Tensai.

Now came the ultimate test. It was Rukawa’s turn. Would he smile? Would he react at all? Or better yet, could he stay awake?

The whole gym, including the people outside, was feverish with anticipation. The other players, especially Mitsui, Miyagi and Hanamichi were preparing themselves for the show of a lifetime. In fact, the three rascals had made a bet; whoever makes the Iceman crack a smile would be treated to lunch for a week.

As our three mischievous players warmed up their facial muscles, the photographer motioned for the next member to sit down. Akagi had to wake Rukawa up because no one else wanted to. Rukawa woke up swinging, muttering his usual “no-one-disturbs-my-sleep” mantra. Fortunately, Akagi was prepared for this.

Finally, Rukawa took his place in front of the camera. As expected, his fan club immediately launched into a “RU-KA-WA! RU-KA-WA! L-O-V-E RU-KA-WA!” cheer. Rukawa ignored them. He stared blankly at a point somewhere behind the camera where the other members of the basketball club were standing.

While the photographer fiddled with some dials to adjust the focus, the trio started their assault. They took their turns, one by one, to make sure that it was indeed that person who cracked the Iceman’s façade. They had almost given up hope as the photographer had already counted down to one and Rukawa was still staring blankly at them. When suddenly, on Hanamichi’s turn, Lo and Behold! Rukawa actually SMILED!!! And what’s more, the camera was actually able to capture this stupendous moment.

A collective gasp rose up from the crowd followed by the sound of jaws hitting the floor. No one could believe it. Rukawa smiled! Many of the girls outside the gym fell to the floor in a swoon, silly grins on their faces. Mitsui and Miyagi recovered quickly, aided by Hanamichi’s loud raucous laughter about having free lunch for a week. Rukawa stood up and left the gym.


>Somewhere in the grounds of Shohoku High School<

“Aho. That wasn’t funny.”

“Of course it was! You should’ve seen Micchy’s and Ryochin’s faces. Nyahahaha!”


“And I get free lunch for a week too.”

“Did you mean it??”

“Mean what?”

“Don’t play with me, aho. Did you mean what you said back there?”

“Oh, that. Nah! I just wanted you to smile so I could win our bet!”

“I see.” (turns to leave)

“Wait!” (grabs arm before person could leave) “You give up too easily, kitsune.”


(blush) “Yeah. I meant it.”

(affectionately) “Aho. Love you too.”




Smile! © 2002 Glacier

SDFA © 2002 fgg

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