It was Shiga-sensei's idea.
Apparently, Coach Momoe had noticed the battery's (lack of) communication skills and had gone to Shiga-sensei for advice. After observing them closely and mulling it over for some time, Shiga-sensei had finally approached Abe and Mihashi with a suggestion. Only the suggestion came with the highly palpable implication that they would be making a very grave mistake if they didn't follow through.
According to Shiga-sensei, the first problem he had detected were their personalities. Or rather, their temperaments. Mihashi got scared too easily and Abe got angry too easily. Therefore, by doing this, they would improve the communication not only between themselves but also with their teammates thus improving the team flow and dynamic overall.
The second and more important problem Shiga-sensei had identified was that the battery had developed characteristic reactions with each other, or in other words, conditioned reflexes. Abe scared Mihashi and Mihashi irritated Abe. Therefore, just like how the team was reconditioning themselves to associate relaxation with the third base runner, the battery had to recondition themselves to associate the other with positive, calming emotions.
And therefore, Shiga-sensei had (heavily) suggested that this was the best way to solve both of those problems, especially the latter.
So that's how Abe found himself doing extra one-on-one meditation sessions with Mihashi. Before practice, after practice, during lunch, in their free time, basically whenever they had at least five minutes together; the only stipulation was that they had to do it at least once every day. So even on days when they had no school or practice, they had to meet up somewhere and meditate together.
It didn't go well at first. Not well at all. Without the distraction of their other teammates, Mihashi would get fidgety, nervous, and unnecessarily self-conscious around Abe. Oftentimes, Shiga-sensei would have to step in and start the session for them as Mihashi would get too skittish and Abe too vexed for either of them to calm down. When they were by themselves, only the thought of what Shigapo or Momokan (or both) would do if he bailed on this exercise kept Abe from biting Mihashi's ear off as usual and stomping away. Abe didn't want to admit that it upset him that Mihashi's hands never warmed up during their sessions.
Mihashi calmed down the more it became routine. His hands remained cold though.
One time, maybe about a month or so after they first started, they stayed behind after practice to do a meditation session, settling down on the benches in the dugout in a manner reminiscent of their first meeting. The nights were starting to become chilly so Abe wanted to get it over with as soon as possible in order to avoid either of them catching a cold. As the minutes and seconds counted down, however, Abe only grew more and more frustrated. Why wouldn't Mihashi's hands warm up? When a breeze blew by, causing the delicate boy to shiver, Abe finally had it. Five minutes be damned! He yanked Mihashi's hands up to his mouth, breathing on them and rubbing them furiously in an effort to force some warmth into them. Mihashi, for his part, squeaked and blushed madly, hoping Abe couldn't hear his rapidly pounding heart. Mihashi could also feel the heat from his face slowly spread throughout his body. Whether it was because of that or Abe's ministrations, the pitcher's hands gradually began to warm up.
After that, Mihashi's hands were no longer cold when they meditated. Abe couldn't help but smile a little each time.
When winter arrived and snow blanketed the ground most days, Abe moved their meditation sessions indoors, wanting to save Mihashi's fingers from the cold. On one of their rest days though, when they had neither school nor practice, Mihashi had called and quietly asked if they could go meditate in the park. Surprised at the complete lack of a single stutter, Abe had agreed. When he biked over to the deserted park a few minutes later, Mihashi was already there, sitting patiently on one of the swings, hands folded in his lap and eyes on the snow-covered ground before him. He looked up when he heard footsteps softly crunching the snow then slid his gaze to the right, silently offering the only other swing to Abe. As Abe sat, jingling the chains a little, he pointed out that in this position they could only hold one hand as opposed to the two they've been doing up till then. Mihashi nodded, replying softly that he knew. He hesitated then, blushing a faint shade of pink, before pulling off one of his gloves and extending his right hand towards Abe. The catcher looked at the pitcher for a few seconds then shrugged, deciding that if the other was okay with it then so was he. After all, what did it matter if they held one or both hands during their meditation sessions? Taking his left hand out of his coat pocket (he didn't like riding his bike with gloves), he reached out to grasp the pitcher's hand like usual. At the last moment though, Mihashi swiveled his wrist and deftly wove his fingers through Abe's, intertwining their hands. Abe jerked, taken aback by Mihashi's boldness. He shut his eyes hastily, cheeks burning while he gruffly told the other boy that they were starting. He heard a murmur in reply.
During the entire five minutes, Mihashi's grip never loosened (and considering that it was his pitching hand, it kind of hurt, Abe thought sourly). Even when his watch went off and Abe tried to pull his hand away, Mihashi only squeezed tighter (if that was even possible). Abe winced a little and exhaled, informing the other boy that he won't pull his hand away so please let up on the grip a little. Slowly, cautiously, the grip returned to something a little more bearable. Abe gazed at Mihashi while the blonde boy stared at the ground, his gloved left hand wrapped around the chain. Eventually, Abe exhaled again, breath puffing whitely into the air, and giving a quick squeeze back, angled his head upward to watch the rapidly darkening sky. They stayed like that long after dark, one looking up, one looking down, just sitting on the swings, hands intertwined.
From then on, they always interlocked fingers when they meditated. Even during the group sessions (but only with each other).
The weather warmed up and the snow melted away, unveiling bright green shoots of new growth. With a mild sun and refreshing breezes to cool them down, this was really the best time to play baseball. However, spring also heralded the end of the school year and consequently, much cramming and studying for final exams. Therefore, as soon as spring break began, the team started holding regular study sessions at Mihashi's house. The battery continued their private meditation sessions, usually going outside to escape the noise and commotion inside (Abe still wondered how one small person could produce enough chaos for all ten of them).
One day, after a particularly grueling practice, they had all headed over to Mihashi's house to study. Many of them complained though that they were too tired to pick up a pencil, let alone think. In his heart, Hanai held the same sentiment but since he was the captain, he felt obligated to at least go through with it. After all, they had actually planned this one in advance for once; it would be inexcusably rude to suddenly cancel on Mihashi-san like that (plus he would never hear the end of it from his own mom).
As soon as they reached Mihashi's house, Abe had immediately taken the pitcher around to the side where the pond and pitching target was. He was thinking that it would help the scatterbrained boy to focus better if they meditated first. Settling down on the soft grass, he looked up to see Mihashi fidgeting slightly, pushing his two index fingers together repeatedly and eyes darting this way and that. Abe sighed a little, thinking that even though Mihashi had improved dramatically, no amount of meditation would ever completely cure his twitchiness. Glancing back at the blonde boy, Abe felt that he would prefer if some of it remained; after all, it was part of what made Mihashi endearing. Wait, endearing? Shaking himself out of his thoughts, he asked Mihashi if he had something he wanted to say. Mihashi was silent for a couple of minutes, gaze still looking everywhere but at Abe. Talking about improvements, Abe noted with some pride that his patience had grown significantly too. Not that he ever doubted Shigapo but he had to admit that these extra meditation sessions were working. Finally, Mihashi took a deep breath and tentatively suggested that they go dip their feet in the pond as they meditated. It would feel nice and refreshing and all. The stuttering and halting speech, though still there in bits and pieces, had considerably lessened. Abe smiled and agreed, putting a hand out so that Mihashi could help him up. They then rolled up their pants as best as they could, slipped out of their shoes and socks, and arranged themselves comfortably on the rocks edging the pond. They gingerly dipped their feet in, shivering at first but then relaxing as they got used to the chilly water. Looking in, Abe judged that the depth of the water was around knee height at most. Enough to dangle their feet leisurely in the pond but nothing to worry about. Strange, he thought it was deeper the last time he came here.
Closing his eyes and intertwining their hands, Abe squeezed lightly to let Mihashi know that they were starting. Breathing in deeply and exhaling slowly, he easily slipped into the familiar relaxed, calm state of mind he had during meditation. Partway through, though, he jumped when he felt something thud heavily on his shoulder. Opening his eyes, he glanced over to find that the other boy had fallen asleep against him, his chest rising and falling steadily with his breathing. Abe frowned slightly, unsure of what he should do. He first shook him lightly and called his name a couple of times but then quickly gave up, knowing full well how Mihashi slept like the dead. It was only expected, Abe supposed, considering how hard Momokan had pushed them today. He blushed a little when he realized that Mihashi was still gripping his hand tightly. Quickly taking a couple of deep breaths, he studied the delicate pitcher, eventually concluding that he could probably carry Mihashi back inside and up to his room. He briefly considered the others still studying up there but then decided that as long as one certain clean-up was distracted (or restrained) appropriately, Mihashi wouldn't be disturbed.
Carefully, he steadied Mihashi as he swung his feet out, and kneeled to pick the lighter boy up. Easing his hand loose (Mihashi's grip really was ungodly strong for such a skinny kid), Abe wrapped an arm around his shoulders and an arm under his knees to carry him bridal style. He was just standing up, carefully watching his balance, when Mihashi stirred and murmured his name. Abe jerked, startled, and caught his foot on one of the rocks, eyes widening in horror as they toppled over into the pond, splashing loudly. Propping himself up on his hands, he shook the water out of his hair and opened his eyes to come face to face with a very awake Mihashi. Abe blushed hotly when he noticed their position: The blonde pitcher was straddling him, his face mere centimeters from his own. Wide gold eyes stared into equally wide grey ones. Abe swallowed slowly. Why was his heart pounding so loudly?
Then a familiar voice was yelling down at them from Mihashi's bedroom window, asking why they were taking so long and woah, Mihashi finally made a move, before another familiar voice shouted at the first to get back inside and study. Mihashi and Abe stiffened at the interruption, and hastily separated, both avoiding each other's eyes. Abe was the first to stand up, stating that they should probably go in and dry off before they got chilled. Mihashi nodded, not trusting his voice at the moment, as Abe helped him up.
A couple of hot baths later, the two found themselves in Mihashi's bedroom, Mihashi sitting with Tajima and Nishihiro while Abe sat with Sakaeguchi and Hanai for a captain's meeting. Since Mihashi's clothes were too small, Mihashi-san had lent Abe her husband's pajamas and recommended that he stay the night as his clothes wouldn't dry by the time he has to leave. Abe had blinked, a bit taken off-guard by the hospitality, but eventually nodded, thanked her, and called his parents to let them know. He twitched when both of his parents laughed at him for doing something as silly as falling in a pond at his age.
Soon, one by one their teammates started to file out, waving good-bye and thanking Mihashi and his mother for letting them come over. Tajima was one of the last ones to leave, winking and flicking a thumbs-up at Mihashi before running out the door to pounce on Hanai. Mihashi flushed at Tajima's suggestion and secretly thanked whoever was up there that Abe was still upstairs. He closed and locked the door, bid his mother goodnight, and trudged upstairs to prepare for bed. By the time he returned to the bedroom, Abe was already fast asleep on the spare futon Mihashi-san had laid out for him. Mihashi quietly climbed into his bed and curled up on his side, gazing at Abe's sleeping face. He chewed his lip, deliberating something for a long time before finally sliding out of his bed and slipping in beside Abe. He intertwined one hand with Abe’s on top of the comforter and brought up his other hand that was grasping a baseball like always up near his head on his pillow. He smiled to himself, wondering as he fell asleep if it was okay to be this indescribably happy.
At some point during the night, the baseball slipped from Mihashi's hand but his grip on Abe's hand never loosened.
Of course, the next morning when Mihashi-san came in to wake the boys and found them like that, sleeping side by side, facing each other, and hands intertwined, she just had to take a picture. It was just too precious!
The sound and flash of the camera woke Abe up, and when he tried to groggily rub the sleep out of his eyes only to find his hand captured by Mihashi, he panicked and tried to splutter an explanation, face burning all the way to his ears. Mihashi-san just giggled and said that Mihashi was clingy like that sometimes. Though, she murmured to herself as she walked out, even though he's had friends stay over before, this was the first time she's seen him slip into someone's bed like that since he outgrew sleeping with his parents. Ears still burning, Abe studied Mihashi, his tousled hair and delicate eyelashes glowing in the morning sunlight.
He resisted the sudden urge to brush his free hand through that soft, golden hair. He did, though, let himself rub his thumb over Mihashi’s hand in slow, gentle circles.
Spring break soon ended and with finals just around the corner, everybody’s patience seemed to shorten and tempers flared at the slightest spark. Coach Momoe, in a rare act of mercy (or perhaps at the prompting of Shiga-sensei), cancelled afternoon practice for the week so that they could study. However, in return, if any of them failed . . . Well, the threat was effective enough that even Tajima and Mihashi were studying hard.
Abe was going through his notes at lunch on when Hanai tapped him on his shoulder and gestured toward the door. Glancing up, he saw Mihashi standing by the doorway, fidgeting and nervously clutching his shirt. Even with his improved patience, it was still considerably shorter than the others. And finals’ stress was not helping.
He let himself one sharp sigh of frustration before standing up and trudging over. Rather than struggle with words, Mihashi instead walked out, hesitantly looking over his shoulder to make sure Abe was following him. The catcher twitched, thinking that he didn’t have time for this, he really needed to study for that final—but Mihashi was waiting for him at the end of the hall and knowing the pitcher’s passive aggressive tendencies, Abe couldn’t just leave him there.
Mihashi led Abe down the hall, past the teachers’ office, up some stairs, and finally out onto the school roof. As he stepped outside, Abe shielded his eyes. It was a beautiful day with blue skies, white clouds, and a light breeze that carried a fresh, green scent.
When he turned to ask the pitcher what he wanted, Mihashi only stood there glancing anxiously between him, the ground, and the sky. Lunch would be over soon. Abe twitched some more and took a deep breath, reminding himself to wait it out, stay cool, don’t yell—
Eventually, Mihashi extended his hands, peering up at Abe through his bangs while chewing his lower lip. Abe stared for a moment as he recalled that they haven’t meditated yet that day. Then he smiled, remembering that he wasn’t the only one stressing out, and stretched out his hands.
Mihashi though, unexpectedly grabbed Abe’s hands and pulled him into a tight hug, burying his face into the catcher’s shirt. Stunned, Abe worked his throat for a few seconds, at a loss for words, before giving up and wrapping his arms around the quivering pitcher. Abe could feel their heartbeats gradually slow as their breathing relaxed and deepened. After so many months of meditating together, their breathing and heartbeats synchronized within minutes. They remained like that for a while, just letting each other’s warmth seep through their bodies. When the bell rang, they walked back to their classrooms hand-in-hand, unwilling to lose that connection.
The team noticed that in addition to sitting much closer during meditation sessions, the battery also started exchanging hugs every so often.
School ended and sighs of relief abounded when Tajima’s and Mihashi’s report cards came out without a single red mark. The battery continued with their private meditation sessions, having now become not a mandatory but a necessary part of their routine. Since they still had to participate in the warm-up group meditation, the two would wait to meditate until after they had finished practice, cool-down, and cleaning the field. The school had also finally allotted the baseball team a clubroom however not many of them used it, having become accustomed to changing and leaving all their stuff in the dugout. Thus, Abe often chose this place as their meditation spot as it offered both quiet and privacy.
Momokan had to cut practice early one day as she had an appointment or something to keep so they decided to take their time with the meditation. Settling himself comfortably on the floor, Abe patiently waited for Mihashi to join him. He frowned slightly when he noticed that Mihashi seemed a little more hesitant than usual, considering the progress they had made, but quickly shook it off when the other boy sat down.
They sat cross-legged across from each other, hands interlocked as usual, with their knees and foreheads touching. In that position, being so close together (their noses were practically brushing), he could feel every warm exhalation of Mihashi’s, each one lightly breezing across his face. Mihashi’s breath smelled faintly of lemon, most likely from the lemon slices Shinooka had put in the water cooler today. Abe briefly wondered if his smelled like lemon too.
When his watch went off, signaling the end of the five minutes, Abe slowly opened his eyes to see Mihashi smiling shyly at him. At that, for some inexplicable reason, Abe felt a deep, tranquil warmth spread throughout him, like the feeling after taking the first sip of hot tea on a cold day. He smiled in return. It was a good feeling after all.
Disentangling one hand, he stood up, pulling Mihashi up with him. When he tried to let go only for Mihashi to squeeze his hand a little, Abe turned back to ask what was wrong. He waited patiently while Mihashi glanced everywhere but at him. He noted, with a little shock, that he no longer felt as irritated by Mihashi’s wavering as before, if at all. Then again, the flighty pitcher had improved as well, his stuttering fading little by little as his answers became more confident and resolute. Despite all that, continuing to watch Mihashi dither a little more, Abe mused that his temper and Mihashi’s hesitation would never completely disappear seeing as how they’re parts of their respective personalities. Abe felt he wouldn’t mind; after all, if Mihashi completely changed, he would no longer be Mihashi, right?
Abe, however, was completely unprepared for when Mihashi suddenly darted forward, pressing his lips gently against the catcher’s cheek before grabbing his bag and dashing out the clubroom.
Speechless and numb, Abe brought a hand up to lightly brush his face. His cheek burned where Mihashi had kissed it.
April always marked new things and beginnings. Perhaps most prominent was the start of a new school year, and for the baseball team, new teammates.
The first week of school, the baseball team and affiliated members went around advertising the team and when and where tryouts would be held, etc. Shinooka handed everyone sign-up sheets to collect names and contact information though Izumi commented dryly that it was unlikely any of them would remember to use the sheets. Tajima, of course, jumped on that remark and declared that they compete to see who could bring the most people to the tryouts. It was a good motivator, Abe had to admit, and everyone tried to a certain extent, some more than others.
Hanai and Tajima tied, surprisingly (or maybe not so much).
Tryouts started the following week, during afternoon practice. In order to minimize how much the trials would cut into practice time, Coach Momoe had spread them over the whole week, testing different components and positions each day. She also had the captains accompany her for their opinions.
The first day was going over the basics. Coach and the captains briefly interviewed each of the players, asking about prior experience, positions played, strengths, weaknesses, etc., with Shinooka dutifully and meticulously recording everything. Then they moved on to physical fitness. Setting up “stations” that the recruits could rotate through, Coach Momoe and Abe observed their batting skills in the cages, Sakaeguchi and Hanai played catch ball to check their basic throwing skills, and Shiga-sensei and Shinooka timed their running speed.
At some point, Abe felt like he was being watched and checking over his shoulder, he caught Mihashi staring at him. As soon as their eyes met, the pitcher blinked and quickly returned to practicing with Tajima. Abe kept watching though, and sure enough, Mihashi’s eyes started sidling sidelong at him again. When their eyes connected a second time, he jumped and dropped the ball. Abe scowled. There was something bothering the pitcher but Abe had his hands full evaluating the recruits. Making a mental note to check in with Tajima later, he pushed it out of his head and returned to analyzing the current recruit’s batting style.
Tajima approached him first, right after the last recruit had left. He immediately said that Mihashi had seemed off today, in a different way than usual. When Abe asked him to elaborate, the short cleanup replied that the blonde’s pitching was spot on like always, speed was even improving, yet he seemed distracted. Here, Tajima gave Abe a pointed look. Abe knew that Mihashi had been watching him yet he couldn’t shake the feeling that he was missing whatever Tajima was implying. Mihashi’s kiss on his cheek abruptly flashed through his mind, making him blush hotly. Tajima narrowed his eyes before adding one last thought: To him, it seemed almost as if Mihashi was sulking. And with that, the freckled boy ran off to pester Hanai.
Abe stood there bewildered for a couple of moments (Mihashi, sulking?) before shaking it off and calling the pitcher over for one of their meditation sessions.
Mihashi’s grip seemed a little tighter than usual, Abe noted.
The following day, Coach Momoe wanted Abe to scout potential pitchers. From behind the plate, Abe would analyze the recruit’s speed, power, and control. Sometimes, he would have Hanai (power swinger), Sakaeguchi (bunter), or Oki (lefty) play in the batter’s box to see what they thought from a batter’s point of view. Another, more underlying motive was to observe how cooperative the recruit was in different situations. The majority of the newbies were what he expected, stronger in some areas than others, but mostly average skill and fairly cooperative overall. They shook their heads sometimes but not often. There were a couple that reminded him far too much of his former pitcher – no control, all power, cocky, and full of themselves. There was no one like his current pitcher. Abe would have been extremely surprised if there was. And not all that pleased, he realized; he was happy with their battery despite its dysfunctions. Another pitcher like Mihashi would have only complicated matters in more ways than Abe cared to think about.
Halfway through the tryout/practice, Tajima suddenly yelled. Surprised, Abe accidentally fumbled the pitch. He hurriedly stood up and yanked off his mask, apologizing to the newbie before quickly looking over to the source of the interruption. Tajima, in his catcher’s gear, was yelling something at Mihashi and Mihashi, though his voice was quiter, was shouting something back just as determinedly. Abe was stunned; this was the most aggressive he had ever seen him. It stung a little actually: Why wasn’t Mihashi this confident around him? Then he frowned: Why was Mihashi wearing his batting helmet and gloves? Didn’t he tell him to work on pitching? He was about to move when Coach Momoe stormed over to demand what was going on. Gesticulating wildly, Tajima spewed off a long explanation while Mihashi stood there sullenly, wringing his shirt. Abe couldn’t quite make out their words, which frustrated him greatly. He was about to try walking over a second time when Coach Momoe suddenly glance at him, eyes narrowed in thought. Abe balked: What did he do?! Slowly, she turned back to face Tajima who had finally gone silent. Then she looked over at Mihashi whose gaze was still focused at the ground. After a moment, Abe could see her saying something to the both of them and they nodding in response. When she left, Mihashi grabbed a bat and walked over to the batting cages while Tajima stripped off his catcher’s gear. Grabbing his helmet, gloves, and bat, he dashed back to the pitcher, giving him what appeared to be batting advice. Thoroughly perplexed but satisfied that things have resolved themselves for the moment, he sat down and pulled his mask, apologizing once again for the interruption. He ignored the bitterness he felt that those two could make up so quickly.
Apparently, when he asked Tajima later what happened, Mihashi had refused to pitch with the cleanup, saying that he would practice batting till the recruits had left and Abe was free to practice with him. And that was pretty much the start of the fight. Abe had to turn away for a couple of seconds and cover his mouth to hide his slight blush and tiny grin. He couldn’t help it; it made him inexplicably happy that Mihashi would want him that badly. Regaining his composure, he thanked Tajima and told him he would talk to Mihashi about that. The short cleanup looked at him skeptically before bluntly telling him to stop being so goddamn oblivious. With that, he left.
Abe blinked. Oblivious to what? Shrugging it off as another one of the cleanup’s pranks, he turned around to find Mihashi only to bump straight into him. Immediately, the pitcher wrapped his arms around the catcher, burying his face into the other’s shirt. Abe could feel Mihashi’s tears soak into his shirt. He only burbled one word – battery.
Suddenly understanding, Abe squeezed the delicate boy, reassuring him that their battery won’t change even if new pitchers came in, that Mihashi would still be the ace and he the ace’s catcher.
They were still hugging long after Mihashi’s tears had dried.
On Wednesday, Coach Momoe told the team to play in their usual defensive positions so that they could assess each recruit’s offensive skills.
From the very start, Abe knew that Mihashi was off. He was very still and withdrawn with a strange brooding look in his eyes, very unlike his usual nervous and twitchy self. He wasn’t at all like the Mihashi he knew. And that’s what truly unnerved Abe. It didn't help either that they had no time for a private meditation session before starting.
So it was with a sinking stomach that Abe sat down behind the plate for the first newbie. When he glanced up though, Mihashi’s eyes were back to normal so he let it slide as his own over-imagination. If his pitching is fine, why should it matter? Except Abe still felt concerned. He shook his head, telling himself he would worry about it later, and analyzed the batter before giving his first sign.
In the beginning, Mihashi pitched as usual but as time went on, Abe started noticing that he was shaking his head more and more often. They had long ago resolved that misunderstanding (expedited by Coach Momoe), so Abe wasn’t as bothered by it as before. Nevertheless, even with his improved patience, his temper was starting to boil dangerously when Mihashi was shaking his head at three to four signs in a row.
Near the end of the tryout, Abe, fed-up, gave the sign for a fastball, full power, straight down the center. Mihashi’s control and speed on this pitch had improved significantly but still needed more work so Abe rarely signaled it outside of the bullpen. Therefore, this was the first time he signaled it during this tryout.
Mihashi’s eyes suddenly clouded over, stopping Abe’s heart for a beat, and before he even threw, Abe already knew that it was going to be way out of his range of catching.
Abe was up, mask off, and striding over before the ball had even hit the fence. The recruit currently standing in the batter’s box edged away hesitantly, unsure of what was going on. All the other recruits edged closer, eager to see what would happen.
Grabbing Mihashi’s shirt, Abe opened his mouth, ready to unleash his first explosive rant in months.
In one fluid motion, Mihashi dropped his glove, wrapped one arm around Abe’s waist, another up his back, and captured his open mouth before a single word could come out.
For once, there was absolute silence across the field. A familiar voice whistled and yelled out ‘finally’ before whistling some more. Another familiar voice hushed him, embarrassed and torn about what to do. On the one hand, the whole team has seen this coming for months. On the other hand, did it really have to be so public and in front of the recruits, no less? Someone else started clapping and gradually, each of the Nishiura players and affiliated members started clapping and cheering until only the recruits were left dumbfounded into silence.
Mihashi’s hands felt pleasantly warm, his heartbeat a comforting rhythm beating in tandem with Abe’s. His mouth tasted faintly of citrus and his kiss was gentle and tender.
When they separated, they were both flushed a light pink. Seeing Mihashi’s smiling, pink face, feeling his warm hand interlaced with his, Abe finally understood. He finally understood everything.
He smiled and kissed Mihashi again.