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Jun 25, 2017 - 01:52 AM

Who I Am (13) ~ Dream Again

"My home is at the end of the street, I can walk it on my own."

"If it is that near, then it doesn't matter anyway."

It feels safe to have Rukawa around. Not because the street is dark, but because his presence makes me feel nobody can hurt me. Who has ever thought that the Super Rookie would become my best friend?

"Here it is. Thanks for bringing me home. And thank you for listening."

As I'm looking for the right key on my key chain, the door opens. Brother looks right into my eyes and his view quickly focuses on Rukawa.

"Senpai."

Brother responds with a nod and turns to me. "Are you okay? Your eyes look swollen... Is Rukawa...?"

Before he can finish the question the cold rookie says: "She has something she needs to tell you, about us." He then glances at me and walks away.

I know Rukawa means I should at least clarify our relationship to brother, which I hadn't done because of my wish to keep his secret. "Thank you Rukawa." I say without speaking.

Brother sits down on the couch and looks at me. In the dim light of the room he looks so handsome and I can only wish he is just my brother. I don't want to break his trust and I don't know how to let him accept a sister like me. Every day I wish I would be cured from this curse.

I recall Rukawa's words. Love is indeed a strange thing and I'm not sure anymore if my feelings are romantic or just very close family bond… How thin are the borderlines? Did I cross the lines or am I only very confused?

"So, you still want to tell me?"

"Yes, I've always wanted to," I smile. I wish I wouldn't have to keep any secrets from him anymore. So I tell him everything, everything but one thing...

He listens to every word I speak up. "I'm sorry I didn't understand. I should have let you explain..."

I hate to see the disappointment on his face. He should be happy all the time, or at least that's what I hope for.

"Brother, you couldn't have known. Don't feel bad about it okay?"

He finally smiles again. Where did I lose track of our relationship, our relationship as brother and sister?

"Hey come here," he taps on the seat on the couch next to him. Although my mind hesitates my legs are already moving to him. As I sit down I see brother glances at me and then frowns:

"You didn't mean that, did you?"

"What?"

"When you said that you.. wish I wasn't your brother..."

Many consider him as proud or even arrogant, but to me he's just my sweet brother who has insecure moments as well. I lay my head on his lap and turn on my back. I look upon him and smile: "You'll always be my beloved brother, always."

The hallways are crowded as today's last bell rings. I stand outside classroom no.10 and wait for the tall rookie. He is the last one who leaves the classroom, totally drowsy. He yawns and I shake my head and sigh.

"Waking up yet?"

"Hmn?" He rubs his eyes and then yawns again, "Did you have a good talk with senpai?"

I nod at him and reply with a smile: "Yes. Thank you. Thanks for..."

"Don't bother."

He pauses and then asks me: "Do you have time?"

"Sure, what's up?"

"I want to play one-on-one."

I know he doesn't mean he wants play against me, but I have no clue what he has in mind. He changes in the rest rooms while I wait outside and look away embarrassed whenever someone walks by. We take our bikes from the shed and I follow him to a court near the beach I've never been before.

We chain our bikes to the fence around the court. I already hear the bounces of the basketball and the sound of the metal net. I'm surprised to see the tall player with spiky hair shooting balls. My heart pounds faster and I try not to think how red my face must be.

"What is this?" I whisper to Rukawa.

"I want to beat him." He walks ahead and shouts to the Ryonan ace: "Hey!"

The spiky-haired stops dribbling and looks over his shoulder. I think he was not expecting either of us here, but he soon puts his disarming smile on his handsome face again.

"Rukawa? I didn't expect to see you here." I'm not sure but I think he took a quick glance at me when he said the word 'you'.

"Wanna play one-on-one?"

Sendoh doesn't show too much of his amazement and replies: "Sure."

"She is our referee."

I think I haven't seen such an exciting one-on-one, not even in the States. Or is it because I care about these two guys? Either way, these players are each other's rivals for sure. And the most exciting thing about this match is the way they play each other: with full dedication but also with the utter most respect for each other.

I'm sure they would have become friends if they attended the same school. I wonder how it would be if Sendoh attended Shohoku as well. Then I would probably see him every day, and maybe I would be able to learn more about him.

They play on and on without a decisive play yet. They are both just stunning. I already knew how good Rukawa was, but Sendoh is also unbelievably good. His charming smile and friendly attitude made place for a proud winner's look. Although it's a complete tie I get the impression that he's in control of the game.

It's getting dark and the two amazing guys have no intention to stop, so I speak up: "Hey, we can barely see the basket anymore. I think it's time to go, Rukawa."

They pause and look at me. I feel so tiny among these tall players, even at this distance. Sendoh smiles at me and says to Rukawa: "We should listen to the lady."

He walks upon the rookie but I can't hear what he's saying. He smiles as always and Rukawa doesn't respond, as always. When I see these two extraordinary people side by side I somehow feel very peaceful inside.

I recall Sendoh's smile at me of a few moments ago. Although it wasn't the first time that the handsome ace player smiled at me, it felt different. He smiled, but it was more like a facial movement rather than an expression.

Rukawa picks up his bag and flings it over his shoulder. I quickly grab my bag from the bench and walk after him, as Sendoh calls me: "Mitsui. Hey, Mitsui Shizuri."

We turn around and see the Ryonan ace standing with one hand in his side and the other holding the basketball.

"You know him already?"

"We met before."

"I'll wait at the bikes."

"You don't have to. I'll be okay."

"And so will I. I'll wait."

I smile at his coolness that was still all around him although he clearly had changed his attitude. Rukawa will always be Rukawa.

I turn to Sendoh and walk upon him with a frown.

"Did you like our show?"

I put on my cool voice: "Is that all you want to ask me?" and I slowly turn away.

"Wait! Come on, okay." I can't believe I'm getting the Genius nervous and I suppress a smirk. "I did not expect you to be Mitsui Hisashi's sister."

He's got my attention now as he mentions my brother's name. "He's a great player. Nice shooting technique." He quickly adds. I watch how his muscular arms tense every time he wipes the little sweat drops from his forehead with a towel.

"I know." I have no idea why, but I can't help but being so cold to him. "I should go now."

"Hey, have you remembered yet?"

"I did not expect to see you here. Rukawa didn't tell." Then I raise an eyebrow: "You said I would not need to return it, but yet you keep asking about it. If you wanted it back all along, you should have said it."

Sendoh smiles an irresistible smile and shrugs. "I thought it would be kind of inappropriate for you to keep it." He nods at the fence as if he would be able to see through it to point at the Super Rookie.

"Why does everyone think I'm having a relationship with Rukawa?!" I think to myself. As I look at this handsome ace player I really want to explain everything so he would not mistake me.

I hesitate for a moment and before I can reply, he says: "You guys look cute together."

In a sudden rush I really want to slap him in the face, or at least kick his shins. Why are guys so stupid? I try hard to suppress the boiling anger and finally manage to say calmly:

"I really don't know why you're called the Genius. Rukawa is my schoolmate, my training partner and my best friend." That said I turn around and walk to the exit. I didn't even take the effort to check his reaction.

Rukawa sits on his bike leaning on the fence half asleep. "Come on, let's go."

"You okay?" His sleepy voice says.

We unchain the bikes and take off. I don't want to look back, as I'm still too pissed to see his damn handsome face. However, I'm probably more afraid to see nothing but an empty spot, no-one standing there.

"How was the match up?" I ask while the fresh evening breezes brush through my hair.

"It was good." Rukawa's voice is ever calm and cold, but I can clearly hear the appreciation and probably even respect in it.

"Hey, what did he say to you after the game?"

"A lot of trash talks."

I'm glad to see Rukawa recovering from his grief. There's still a lot of sadness in his cold eyes, but the fire within is slowly burning the cold away and a stronger Rukawa will rise with even greater determination. He will make their dream come true. I smile at the thought that Shiori is still somewhere near us and supporting us.

As I quietly look aside Rukawa is only focusing on the road. His mind is probably already on the IH championships, on which his star will shine brightly I'm very sure. I think there are only few in Japan who can withstand the offensive abilities of Rukawa. And the same goes for Sendoh. The Genius.


~~ Like a river flowing to the sea, you'll be miles away and I will know. I know I can deal with the pain... No reason to cry. ~~



--> To Chapter 14.