It doesn't start off as anything big. For the most part, Furuya hardly notices it, pushes it to the back off his mind with all the other things unrelated to baseball.
When he is on the mound, all the world dims until it is nothing more than background scenery; when he pitches, all he sees is the mitt waiting on him, the batter standing just barely in his line of sight. His entire being constricts into his windup, and the ball explodes from his fingertips in that familiar rush he has come to love. When this last pitch makes contact with the catcher's mitt, the sound is the most gorgeous of all things in life.
Until Miyuki smiles at him.
(His heart stutters, and the sensation is strange enough that he almost trips over his own feet--)
But then Kuramochi is there, slapping him on the back, and then Kominato-senpai, and then the captain, and before he realises it, Furuya has pushed Miyuki to the back of his mind, along with all the other things not baseball, and thinks no more of it.
Except. It keeps happening.
Miyuki's smiles are not a rare sight. The older boy gives them away as freely as he breathes. Everyone receives them, and no one thinks anything of it. Neither does Furuya.
It feels strange. Sometimes. The flip-flop in his chest, the way his thoughts get jumbled together when the other boy is near. It's weird and distracting and Furuya doesn't know what to do about it.
So he keeps ignoring it, and hopes it will go away.
Except it only gets worse. Slowly. Gradually. And the most irritating part of it is that he doesn't even realise it until he's zoning out in the middle of a criticism session, unwittingly tuning Chris out in order to stare at the way Miyuki sits, legs apart, chin propped up on one hand.
There is something agonising about the whole picture, he thinks, snapping his gaze to the floor. It's weirdly fascinating; the line of his jaw, the curve of his ear, peeking out between strands of hair.
He's so lost in thought, trying to figure out why his stomach is churning violently, that it takes Sawamura jabbing an elbow into his side to catch his attention.
Furuya coughs, clutching the wounded area, and looks up to meet Chris' not-so-pleased stare. "Are you alright, Furuya?"
"Ah." He's fumbling for words, can feel the tips of his ears burn. "Yes. I'm sorry."
Chris pauses for a beat, and says, "Try to focus. We're almost done."
"Yes, senpai." Furuya rolls his shoulders, directs his attention to the older boy's voice.
(Out of the corner of his eyes, he sees Miyuki smirk, wide and unrestrained.)
(The lump in his chest clenches a little more.)
Weeks go by, each day more frustrating than the last. Furuya tries to work it off through practice, but the heat and fatigue and sheer mental exhaustion is just too much. He ends up crouched over in the dugout, a cool wet towel draped over his head, his breathing ragged.
"Furuya," Miyuki says, his voice suddenly very close, and Furuya jerks upright so fast that the towel slips off entirely, landing on the floor somewhere behind him.
Miyuki laughs at his reaction, and Furuya's ears burn hotter than summer itself. He turns away, huffing angrily.
"Jumpy, aren't we?" Miyuki chuckles. "Guess you're alright then. You really do need to work on your stamina, though. How are you gonna keep up with practice like this?"
The older boy walks away then, yelling something at someone Furuya cannot see. His heart is pounding, and his fingers are shaking, and all he can think is this:
'He came to check on me.'
It takes a little longer for him to piece it together properly.
A few more days, a few more nights.
And then, during dinner, while he's chewing on a mouthful of rice, trying to work up the courage to swallow, he hears Sawamura's shout from across the hall. The pitcher is shaking his fist at Miyuki, obviously angered by whatever it is they're arguing about. And Miyuki--
Miyuki tosses his head back. And laughs.
Furuya stops breathing.
And he thinks,