Now that we were sure that he could shoot under the basket with a similar accuracy he possessed prior to his back injury, we moved on to mid-range shots.

Well, he failed pretty much as expected, but this time he was armed with even more determination that ever since I arranged for his Guntai to come watch and support him fro well. (Akagi Haruko was strictly not allowed as I felt that she was a distraction to him.)

But his hopes were high, and his accuracy, nil, so it wasn¡¯t surprising that he began to feel depressed.

He squatted near the basket, his shoulders hunched with the burden of a deflated ego and the knowledge of failure.

I squatted down next to him, not knowing what to do otherwise.

The Sakuragi Guntai moved towards him, concern etched on their features. Sure seems like they¡¯ve never seen Hanamichi this sad before.

Takamiya¡¯s half-eaten Oreos caught my eye¡

¡®Umm, Hanamichi¡ an online friend once told me that Oreos taste best when eaten with peanut butter¡ ¡¯

Apparently, Takamiya got the message and offered him his Oreos, ¡®Hana, take one. Never mind the peanut butter.¡¯

Hanamichi lifted his head, realisation shining in his eyes. He took the cookie Takamiya offered gratefully, his eyes still fixed on me.

Then it hit me like a bucket of slush in my face.

Damn. I just blew my cover.

He stood up.

Everything seemed to move in slow motion; soundless, like the silent movies of the 1940s (a/n: sorry, I¡¯m not really sure =P.

¡®You like sunny days¡ ¡¯, he said, a slow smile spreading across his tear-stained face.

¡®And you like rainy days, with raindrops falling like pearls.¡¯

His smile widened. A warm and sincere one.

¡®So, we¡¯ve been pals all this while.¡¯

One year later¡

Miyagi-sempai stood up and cleared his throat loudly in an attempt to get everyone¡¯s attention. When he was sure all eyes were on him, he spoke, ¡®It is my pleasure today to introduce your new captains for the new season. They are: Rukawa Kaede and¡ Sakuragi Hanamichi! Now under their leadership, you will repeat history and clinch the Prefecture title for Shohoku once again, won¡¯t you?¡¯

Then, letting a hint of sadness creep into his voice, he spoke, ¡®Me, Aya-chan, Yasu, Shiozaki and Kakuta will be retiring today, but we will always come back to support and help you whenever we can. Oh, and Haruko will have a new manager to help her out.¡¯

A petite girl who bore a striking resemblance to Ayako-sempai stood up. ¡®I¡¯m Akiko, Aya-neechan¡¯s younger sister. I will be helping Haruko-sempai in the management of your team. ¡®

Hmm, she looks so sweet¡ especially when she smiles¡

After Hanamichi and I told the team of our goals to win the National Title, we dismissed the team and headed for the showers.

When we were done, me, Hana and the rest of the Guntai [I¡¯m a part of the Sakuragi Guntai now! =)] headed for the nearest mall to play Pachinko in celebration of us being chosen as the captains of the team.

We walked together, shoulder to shoulder, laughing and bickering as we wemnt, ever the Sakuragi Guntai¡


A/n: Yay. I¡¯ve finished the fic! I can¡¯t believe it. I mean, like doing the fic has become part of my routine and now it¡¯s like a part of my routine is gone. Hee hee. Sorry this chapter was so short. =P Well, I really appreciate your reviews and your support. Thanks so much to all of you. =)