pairing: Rukawa x Sakuragi
genre: romance, angst
extra notes: for the RHR mailing list theme project – theme #02: Evanescent
His dark brown eyes narrowed in defiance as he approached his opponent, his scarlet hair flickering spasmodically under the gym’s fluorescent lights. The silence within their shared space was punctuated only with short shallow breaths for air.
Rukawa winced slightly, as a quick punch that slammed into his already aching jaw, promised a beautiful bruise that would be obvious against his otherwise pale skin. He retaliated, purely on instinct, earning him an angry growl from the other. Rukawa had no more than half a minute to muse about his apparent death wish. And the usual scuffle continued, like it did not hurt either one of them.
His breath was still erratic, while his body worked to appease the adrenaline charging through his blood, as was its natural reaction after a good game. His indigo eyes were still glazed as they fixated on the emptying basketball court. Distinctly, he heard his other teammates laughing and filing out of the gym to hit the showers now that practice was over at last, for the day. It was an almost comforting clatter.
He jerked, startled, as a white fluffy towel abruptly landed atop his damp raven hair. As he reflexively reached up to clutch said towel, he glanced up to see a grinning redhead who promptly sank down onto the wooden bench beside him wordlessly.
They sat in companionable silence, the atmosphere static, a pleasant change from the customary antagonism they regularly radiated. Rukawa would remember that it was an otherwise ordinary Thursday afternoon.
Crisp yellow leaves floated in the air, almost suspended in inertia, before landing softly beneath the lethargic footsteps of incessant strangers. Dry brown leaves crackled lightly to shatter the mundane city bustle, though not loud enough to announce the onset of fall. Faceless strangers hastened ahead, time an unrelenting factor that forbade them to even appreciate this colorful magnificence.
Rukawa had always thought spring with its flourishing pink cherry blossoms, was Sakuragi’s season, until now. The side of his lips tugged upwards faintly, as he brushed a stray red leaf off the shoulder of Sakuragi, who looked surprised for a moment, a soft flush lighting up his face fleetingly.
Two tall figures clad in plain white t-shirts and black track pants strolled along the faded streets littered with discarded leaves, one with red hair illuminated by the imminent dusk, and the other with a basketball tucked contentedly under his right arm.
Autumn was their season.
It was perhaps an accurate representation of their changing relationship when ‘do aho’ was occasionally replaced by a softly uttered ‘Hanamichi’, and when ‘baka kitsune’ became synonymous with ‘Kaede’.
Basketball was still the same, a heated game pursued in exhilarated energy. Even so, the chaotic rivalry exposes itself, occasionally, as a mere façade.
He tapped his fingers against his school desk, which was empty of strange carvings unlike a certain genius obsessed with the number 1031. This uncommon sight of Rukawa awake during class revolved around his sudden decision to evoke a memory of the last time he cycled to school, despite his narcoleptic condition, while listening to random Japanese rock songs. However, only succinct vivid flashes of train stations, coffee houses, traffic lights, ramen stalls and intertwined long fingers came to mind.
The lonely drone of his Japanese History teacher was interrupted by an unexpected outburst of boisterous laughter some doors down, before the clanging of the school bell signaled the end of another period.
The wind was a typical whisper against his high school uniform. His eyes closed involuntarily, as he sat on the grey tiles warmed by the morning sun and the clear blue sky, in a shaded corner of the school’s rooftop.
The door would open, sometimes with a loud bang, sometimes creakily. And he would listen for those familiar footsteps coming towards him during the daily hour-long lunch break, like a tradition they hate to break.
The air outside was heavy with wet, a serene ambience laced with the tang of impending rain.
Sakuragi concentrated on breathing and touching those tousled raven locks so inviting against the pristine white pillow, in an unbroken fragile moment of their afterglow.
Violet skies tinged with exhausted grey once again gave way to the advent of a dim orange glow. Blue eyes, drowsy with dreamless slumber, blinked a couple of times, unused to the film of dawn painted on that familiar windowpane glazed with minimal dust that sparkled inaudibly in the daylight. Lush eyelashes lowered to exclude this image, as he inhaled, even if a little shakily. His left hand slid forward in a hesitant caress, and his slender fingers touched the cool silk sheets beneath.
He exhaled quickly, turning his head to bury that beautiful face into the soft pillow. And Rukawa Kaede imagined that he could still sense the lingering warmth and desirable scent of Sakuragi Hanamichi, and feel the glossy red strands of his vibrant hair.