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-far away, this ship is taking me far away-


In hindsight, Miyuki realises that he has no one to blame but himself for this one. It was supposed to be a bit of fun, as most of his teasing goes, except now he has Furuya staring him at him wide eyed and desperate with a sort of earnest and nervous mix; a kind of expression that he hasn't seen before on the normally stoic first year pitcher. Miyuki isn't stupid, he knows what that faint blush arising to Furuya's pale cheeks and the tense atmosphere this is ultimately leading to. Miyuki wants to say something, he should say something, but he doesn't know what to say.

"Miyuki-senpai…" the younger starts, and Miyuki spies a tremble in his hands before they're closed into fists, "I like you."

It's quiet in a Furuya-like way, but it rings loud and clear to both of them alone in his room. Miyuki lets a moment of silence pass as he watches the pitcher meet his stare back resolutely—he has to give the first year some credit for this; confessing to him of all people, now, that can't have been easy. Especially when Miyuki has a twisted personality that allows him to do things like these:

"Eh?" he mock raises his eyebrow in surprise. "Thanks. I like me too," he smirks lightly and gives Furuya a casual once over. "If you're fishing for more compliments I'm not going to give it," he says, and because he's an asshole who only knows how to dig his grave deeper, "Though, you did pitch well today, I suppose. Your ball control is improving."

It's so obvious how Furuya burns with pleasure at the praise despite only a vaguely pleased twitch to his lips. Though, the pitcher darts his eyes away, and sighs a little frustratedly.

"No, I wasn't—" he mumbles, and Miyuki hides an inward sigh of relief when he pats the other on the head absentmindedly.

"But your stamina still sucks. Are you keeping up with the menu Chris-senpai assigned to you? I don't want to catch you sleeping in the shed again, or else—"

"Miyuki-senpai," Furuya abruptly interrupts, voice louder than before.

The other's eyes gleam determinedly, leaning forward though it was most likely unconscious. Miyuki has not counted on a second try, to be honest. His hand halts a flat on the pitcher's head.

"I'm," Furuya breathes out, more resolute than ever. "I'm in love with you."

There no room to misinterpret that, no way to brush it off with a flippant comment—Miyuki swallows, and all he can think is, oh shit, what have I done?


Miyuki's first impression of Furuya is honestly, neither good nor bad. The younger pitcher had shoved himself between Sawamura and him during dinner and asked to catch his pitch. It's not like Miyuki wants to boast about this, but he does get that from time to time—he is a prominent catcher in the baseball scene after all, especially with that magazine write up when he joined Seido's first string in his first year. It's not that out of the blue to have a pitcher asking to catch his throw, however, it was the way the other had phrased it, in that low tone of his, so direct and deadpan that Miyuki couldn't tell if it was plain ignorance or arrogance that he was not going to let anyone hit his pitch in the scrimmages. It pissed off majority of the seniors in the vicinity, and there was this subtle blink of surprise like Furuya didn't know that it would—yeah, Miyuki's going for ignorance here.

It's a little cute how that makes the request all the more honest, but Miyuki doesn't agree nor disagree to his request, merely files it away as a mental note. The first year could be talking big like a lot of players do, but then it actually happens—which is kind of impressive, so it's more for his own curiosity when Furuya seeks him out after the scrimmage and he lets himself follow the younger to the hall where they have a makeshift indoor bullpen.

The ball comes faster and harder than he expects; he catches it, of course, but it's Furuya's expression that really catches his attention—it's a dense mash of emotions displayed in that shell-shocked wide-eyed gape, like Miyuki's the most amazing person he's ever seen in his life; Miyuki thinks if Furuya was a more…emotional type of personality, the younger would probably have cried.

Now that, is not something you see every day. How much did this boy want him to catch his pitch, Miyuki wonders, and his heart softens just a bit. He can indulge the other a little, he thinks, and lets the boy throw to his heart's content for the next hour.

"Miyuki-senpai, one more," Furuya says to him when he stands up, even though the first year is panting and sweating. No stamina, Miyuki shakes his head wryly. "One more, please."

"It's late and there's practice early tomorrow," Miyuki reminds him.

"One more," the other says again, this time head bowed. "Please."

"Your hand is shaking," Miyuki says instead. "Rest. It's not like it's the last time I'll be catching your pitch, you know?"

Furuya swallows, and a very long silence ensues. Miyuki almost breaks it to ask if the other had heard him, but the pitcher nods weakly before he can in reply. Obediently. Huh. Miyuki grins. It's kind of nice to have a junior who respects you like that.

"Besides," he begins, tossing the ball absentmindedly in the air as he walks closer. "Your ball control is trash. You need to work on that if you want me to catch more."

The younger lifts his head up, startled, and Miyuki almost smirks at the wounded flicker in his eyes.

"And your stamina. It's pathetic," he sighs, mockingly wearily. "You shouldn't be breathing this hard."

"I—"

"But," he allows as he stops right in front of the boy and taps him on the head with his knuckles. "It's a strong pitch. You will be valuable to the team."

Miyuki knows that Furuya is quiet, but somehow despite the fact that the boy speaks little or interacts little—unlike someone they know, he snorts—it's actually really easy to tell what the other is feeling; it's a bit like an aura, as weird as that sounds. Right now, the air around Furuya feels like it's warm, a happy sort of warm. It hits Miyuki startlingly clear that Furuya is beyond pleased by his comment.

That's just too easy to be that happy about something, monster rookie, Miyuki shakes his head inwardly.

This is perhaps where Miyuki should've told himself that it was going to be a bad, bad idea.


There are some things Miyuki knows or can guess from the way he observes Furuya, sometimes. It's not like he does it more than he does it to anyone else—he's always been watching people to understand them more carefully, it comes naturally to him like he does it as a catcher on the field. In practice, the younger doesn't really talk to many people, only those that come into contact with him for the necessary drills. Miyuki doesn't think he's actually seen the pitcher hang out in a circle chatting about something, often standing alone apart from where people gather. He hasn't seen Furuya smile or laugh either, come to think of it.

It's obvious that Furuya doesn't have anyone he can classify a friend, which is a rather gloomy thought. Miyuki doesn't think Furuya is anti-social per se, probably just awkward and a bit too straightforward and silent in a way that intimidates most people.

Miyuki notices it again when Furuya is standing outside of the circle that had gathered to tease Sawamura, and sees the longing glance to be in that circle. It's quickly gone but there is no doubt that the first year does feel a bit lonely with a quiet personality like that—it's not that Miyuki can sympathize fully with that, but he kind of does, because no matter how friendly or charming he acts, he knows that it is an act, has always been an act, and keeping people at arm's length is what he's always done to himself as well.

Maybe that's why he approaches Furuya.

"Can't get into their circle?" he asks with a casual air, though he's one to talk—he's out of that circle too, but he guesses that's also half out of choice. "Well, Sawamura's surprisingly always surrounded by people and you're always off doing your own thing, so you two are different."

Furuya doesn't face him, and Miyuki knows that he's hit the target right on the head.

"But…" he sighs after a while with a twitch of his lips. "I think you're fine the way you are. You lead the team with your strength. That's your style."

The silence after that is nothing like before—the air shifts like it becomes lighter. Miyuki glances over with his grin and spies the surprised look that Furuya sports, again, wide eyed and staring at him with a look like he had been hailed the saviour.

He really likes being praised, doesn't he, Miyuki notes amusedly. Too easy, too easy.

"But to be frank," he smirks. "I can't have fun if you all have the same pitching style, can I?"

"Miyuki-senpai," Furuya starts slowly as he chuckles to himself. "I've been thinking this for a while but…you have a twisted personality."

Nonetheless, there doesn't seem to be a disapproving tone in that statement and Miyuki grins. Huh, you're pretty sharp yourself, monster rookie. "Yeah, I get that quite a lot."


Furuya doesn't approach many people, but one thing is for certain—Furuya approaches him a lot. Like, a lot.

Miyuki thinks he probably brought that upon himself too, come to think of it.

He tests it out a few more times just to be sure, but it's really apparent that Furuya likes being praised. It's actually disastrously easy to predict how the first year pitcher would react, but what's worse is the other is genuinely in cloud nine by just a simple remark like 'you pitched well today' or 'your control is getting better'. At first Miyuki thinks maybe it's special because it comes from him—the catcher—but he notices that when the team calls 'nice pitch' after an inning, Furuya also exudes that same floaty pleased aura.

That's making it even easier, Miyuki wants to groan out of sympathy for the poor boy.

He probably shouldn't prod at this revelation, because Furuya respects him a hell lot more than most of his teammates. Even if the boy does ignore his reprimanding sometimes, he knows that the other listens to his advice—he sees Furuya running at nights or early mornings, he spies the shiny gleam of nail polish on the other's fingers. Furuya doesn't deserve his teasing for his own amusement.

But of course, he does the exact opposite.

He starts out small, usually after practice, when he's listing down all the things that Furuya needs to work on—stamina and ball control are two things he repeats often enough—and spies the pitcher listening sullenly, and then he'll throw in a sigh and say 'but…you're improving' with an indulgent smile and the air around Furuya lights up like a hundred and eighty degree switch. The pitcher doesn't say anything, of course, but it's stark how thrilled the other is, like he's ready to do anything to hear those words again. Then Miyuki decides to see how Furuya would react when he pats the other on the shoulder or on the head for a job well done out of curiosity one day—he doesn't think he's ever seen Furuya stare at him in such an intense dazed blissed stupor.

Maybe it's Pavlovian conditioning or the sort, but Furuya starts to find him not only after practice to request to catch his pitch if he didn't get the chance to throw all the day, but also during break time in between their lessons. The first time Furuya appeared outside his classroom had garnered quite a lot of whispers—the junior had been starting to gain fame for his monstrous powerful pitch, and generally, there wasn't much mixing between the years. Furuya had predictably came to ask to catch his pitch before afternoon practice—to which, after a sigh and remark about how Miyuki doesn't exist just to catch his pitch you know, Miyuki agrees, but only for half an hour earlier.

The air around Furuya becomes bright at his agreement like Miyuki predicts; Miyuki tries not to get too amused at how innocent this boy is and tries to keep his facial expression neutral, at least until Furuya leaves. But Furuya lingers around like he's waiting for something in return, and an awkward minute passes when the pitcher just stands there in silence while Miyuki raises his eyebrow in confusion—until it hits him.

Oh.

"Furuya," he begins, as flippantly as he can without laughing. "You kept up with the laps around the field this morning, didn't you? I guess your stamina is getting is little bit better," he says, watching how the other beams at him without so much as a smile on the pitcher's face. "Oh," he throws in casually, after. "Can you get me a soda before we meet?"

Furuya nods obediently and takes a short bow before he leaves—Miyuki wants to face palm at how easy it is to manipulate his junior; he probably should stop this, but god, with the way Furuya is, it's just itching for it.

Kuramochi interrupts his inward pondering with an incredulous scoff. "…Are you training him?"

Miyuki glances towards his classmate seated in front of him, and he guesses that he shouldn't be too surprised—Kuramochi is very sharp despite appearances.

"What?" he says with as much hurt as he can possibly lather on in his voice. "How could you possibly suggest that? You think that would—"

Kuramochi is not convinced for a split second. "Precisely because it's you, asshole. Don't do it."

"I really don't know what you're talking about." Miyuki maintains his air of innocence, but that slight twitch at the corner of his lips tells them both everything.


When Furuya finishes the first bottle of nail polish that Miyuki gives him, the junior comes to ask for another one. Miyuki should have told the younger to go to the store and buy it himself, but he does have a spare, and so he beckons the pitcher to his room. His roommates aren't in, so it's quiet with just both of them in the room—with him digging through his drawers for that bottle while Furuya sits on his knees on the floor as he waits. When he finally finds it, he holds it out to Furuya who takes it wordlessly.

"No word of thanks? That costs money, you know," he says with a raised eyebrow.

Furuya mumbles a thanks and Miyuki sighs. He doesn't know why Furuya can be rather obedient and humble at times, but on others…he shakes his head. Furuya continues to sit with no sign of leaving even though the pitcher has gotten what he initially came for, and Miyuki vaguely realises at this point that maybe he has trained Furuya a bit too much to hang on for a word of praise.

Quiet settles in the room, but Miyuki has spent far too much time with the stoic pitcher to feel uncomfortable with it. He knows that Furuya won't say anything unless he wants to nor will he move until he gets what he wants (even unconsciously) so it's up to Miyuki to lead the interaction or else they'd just be sitting in silence for the next many minutes.

"Give me your hand," Miyuki sighs, sitting down and gesturing. "Have you been taking care of it properly?"

Furuya stretches his right hand out and Miyuki pulls it closer towards him. He inspects the nail that had bled the first time, and sees the polish that the other has applied on it—though now on a closer look, the job was haphazardly done. Yes, it covered the nail and the nail looks much tougher than before, no cracks, but the strokes of the polish are shaky under the light and there are obvious uneven layers beneath the coats. He immediately knows why that is the case. Standing up, he goes to search for some cotton swabs and nail polish remover—he should've thought about this earlier.

"You didn't take it off before applying a new coat, did you?" Miyuki asks, but he already knows the answer. "Next time, take it off with this," he instructs, giving the nail polish remover bottle to Furuya to look at it, "Just dab some on the cotton and rub the polish off. Cut your nails, and then re-paint it. Got it?" he waits for the acknowledging nod. "Your paint job is horrible by the way. Ask someone to do it for you."

Furuya glooms.

"But," he says slowly, watching Furuya. "You've been taking care of your hand like I asked you to. That's good."

The pitcher perks up immediately, eyes almost sparkling with contented gratification. And then, in a twist that Miyuki did not calculate for, Furuya flickers his gaze down for a split second and rises it again to gaze Miyuki squarely in the eyes. This time, the look is different—it still spells out the obvious pleasure, but now it feels like it's being directed at him together with mix of hesitance and nervousness he's never seen in Furuya.

Under the light of his room and the pale complexion that Furuya has, he clearly sees the blush colouring the normally stoic pitcher's face. Miyuki tenses, scrambling for something to say, but all he sees is the swallow that Furuya makes.

"Miyuki-senpai…I like you."


Furuya doesn't turn up for practice the next day, and Miyuki feels like he's just kicked a puppy in the gut. Scratch that, he feels like he kicked a puppy in the gut yesterday when Furuya left his room; today, Furuya's absence feels like an ice bucket down his back. At the end of practice, Kuramochi nudges his side.

"Where's Furuya? Sick or not, I can't believe he missed a chance to pitch," the second year snorts. "I actually thought I'd see him crawling on the ground sneezing his brain out towards the bullpen at least once."

Miyuki raises an eyebrow when everyone else on the team stares at him waiting for an answer. "Why are you asking me like I'm his keeper?"

"Aren't you?" Kuramochi teases. "He sticks to you all the time, Miyuki-senpai."

Miyuki rolls his eyes, but shrugs as easy as he can. "I don't know where he is. Sawamura?"

"How should I know?" the other pitcher exclaims.

"You're his classmate, aren't you?"

"Maybe he caught a cold. I'll stop by his room after school," the younger Kominato brother offers shyly.

The rest of the third years nod in agreement and they amble over to the main field when coach Kataoka calls them over for debrief. Miyuki follows suit with a carefully placed expression on his face, but with every step he feels guiltier, because he knows exactly why Furuya decided to ditch practice.

He hadn't exactly…expected that Furuya would actually fall for him. Like, like him.

Romantically.

All that praising to jibe good vibes from Furuya had been amusing because of that dichotomy to make such a stoic person vibrate with pleasure so easily; also, it was so easy to get Furuya to do whatever he asked, it was almost like having a willing slave, not that he made Furuya do anything that was horrifying, of course not. But to relish holding that much power over someone who wasn't even conscious of it—sometimes, Miyuki thinks there's something very wrong in his mind, but he's grown to accept that. A little bit.

But he didn't anticipate it arising into an honest romantic crush, and devastating someone's feelings that he had purposely cultivated—that, probably crossed a line.

Moreover it's Furuya—the socially awkward boy who most likely never had a girl—or boy—friend, Miyuki winces whenever he thinks about how he had rubbed the back of his neck and told the other quite plainly:

"Well, I don't see you like that."

Maybe he had panicked, to be honest, it feels like a blur when Miyuki tries to remember amidst the dawning realisation of fuck, I shouldn't have done this but knows he also said this:

"Is this going to affect your pitching?"

He didn't mean for it to sound the way it came out—but the damage had been done; a flash of hurt and humiliation had sunk into Furuya's eyes, and the younger had stood up quickly with his head bowed.

"I'm sorry for bothering you, Miyuki-senpai," Furuya had uttered very softly before taking his leave.

Miyuki hadn't gone after him, because it was probably better that way—for Furuya to get over him as quickly as possible—and instead lied back on the floor with inward groan. The bottle of polish, remover and cotton swabs remained next to him. Wow, he never had thought he'd ever sink to this new low.


Furuya doesn't show up for afternoon practice, but he comes back the next day—Haruichi says he found Furuya sleeping in his room when he had popped over, and Furuya doesn't correct him, so everyone assumes that the heat had caught the pitcher into a fatigue slumber. Miyuki knows better, but he keeps his mouth shut and acts as he usually does, though he gives more glances to the younger to see how he's faring.

Oddly enough, Furuya behaves like nothing has happened; not that Miyuki wants him to be depressed but well, it's a bit unsettling when he remembers the way Furuya had looked at him then, and the concentrated look that the other stares him down with now after a solid powerful pitch into his mitt.

"Nice ball," he calls absentmindedly before tossing it back to the other.

Now that Miyuki is aware of how Furuya feels about him, it's suddenly scarily how automatic his eyes take in the faint blush on the other's cheeks and the pleased subtle bite onto the lower lip. It's gone when Furuya gets ready to toss the next ball, and it lands perfect into where Miyuki calls for again.

Miyuki doesn't really know what to make of this, especially when Furuya finds him after practice.

"Miyuki-senpai," Furuya calls out to him after the rest leave. "Can you catch my pitch for a bit more?"

Miyuki blinks. "Furuya," he starts as neutral as he can. "I'm not going to like you even if you do this."

The pitcher freezes like Miyuki just slapped him, and instantly Miyuki knows he's been reading too much into this whole thing.

"…I…I know that," the first year says eventually in that quiet tone of his. "I just wanted to…pitch. I'm sorry."

Furuya gives a bow and turns away, clutching the ball in his hands tightly as he walks off the field. Miyuki releases a shaky breath and ruffles up the back of his hair in frustration. He doesn't know if he should just let this be or do something—he's definitely more comfortable with people and baseball techniques than with people and feelings.

It's a good thing he isn't captain or anything like that; ha, that would be such a pain in the ass.


It hits Miyuki that everyone thinks he's the closest to Furuya when the first year pitcher approaches another catcher during practice when they're in the bullpen. By habit Miyuki had gravitated towards Furuya when coach Kataoka instructs them to pair up for pitching practice; Sawamura is usually with Chris, and Tanba with Miyauchi, but this time Furuya walks in front of Sawamura and stares squarely at Chris.

"Will you catch my pitch, Chris-senpai?" Furuya asks, either ignoring or oblivious to the external turmoil that Sawamura exudes at that.

The disgruntled exclaim is loud enough to catch everyone's attention in the vicinity—Miyuki mentally prepares himself for whatever's coming next when all eyes shift between him and Furuya and the beginnings of low murmuring.

Chris likewise looks at Furuya and then at Miyuki with a concerned eye, and then back again. "I can, next time. Miyuki is waiting for you," he says carefully.

Furuya turns to look at Miyuki as though he's never considered that Miyuki would ever catch his pitch—which is ridiculous, considering that they've been a battery for quite a number of games now.

"Is something the matter?" Chris prods gently, and Furuya shakes his head slowly.

"It's just…I thought…Miyuki-senpai didn't want to…" the other trails off, sounding lost.

Chris gives Miyuki another look and Miyuki resists the urge to cover his face with his hands. Shit, now he has to think of trying to explain how this came about later. He sighs and walks over the short distance to tug Furuya away as the third year calls for Sawamura to get ready for pitching—the rest of the team slowly shuffles back into practice mode but Miyuki still feels some eyes curiously lingering on them.

"Furuya, I didn't say I wouldn't catch your pitch," he says plainly in their own private corner.

Furuya stares at him resolutely. "But yesterday…"

"You misunderstood me," Miyuki frowns a bit, and taps him on the head in what he hopes is an affectionate gesture. "Pitching and catching has nothing to do with…with…" he fumbles for a way to phrase whatever's between them. "With the other thing," he settles on. "Okay? I'll catch as long as you want to pitch."

Miyuki doesn't know why he's being so indulgent by saying something like that—Furuya might just hold that to him and he'd never be able to sleep if the younger wants to pitch every day through the night or something. Maybe he feels really bad that Furuya likes him, maybe he feels bad that he accidentally said things a bit too harshly, or maybe he still relishes that he has worked Furuya out so well that he knows exactly how to lift the air around the other into a brighter colour at his command.

"Now, don't make me regret my words—give me your best pitch."

Furuya nods after him, not that Miyuki can see as he walks to the other side of the bullpen, but he can feel the answer glowing behind him anyway.


Miyuki has conceded that he is kind of an asshole, which is why he's not really surprised that he still continues to throw out words of praise when he knows exactly how much Furuya likes it. He really shouldn't, but he does; he may blame it on habit, but deep down he knows that he is a terrible person to wait for that contented glazed look in Furuya's eyes directed at him—once, it had even drawn out an obvious dark blush, and Miyuki had immediately halted his hand that was ruffling up Furuya's hair as guilt churned deep in his gut.

Miyuki isn't sure if Furuya knows that he's doing it on purpose, maybe Furuya would hate him if the other knew, but for now the younger leeches on to it with twice the intensity as before. That only makes Miyuki want to do it even more, which leads to a vicious cycle that ultimately has Furuya seeking him out constantly—even if Furuya was doing his own practice from the other end of the field from Miyuki, the younger would somehow make way towards him before he left just for Miyuki to say something nice to him—

And Miyuki does. He does a lot more than he should.

Miyuki is a terrible, terrible person.


It's about two months after the…confession when Furuya waits for him outside the training hall next to the vending machines. It's late and most of the players had retired to the dorms; Miyuki had held back discussing something with Chris, and he's a bit—or not really—surprised to see the first year waiting for him. With Furuya, he doesn't have much things to be surprised at, now.

"I am not going to catch your pitch at this hour," he says with a teasing tone in his voice, careful keep it obvious because he doesn't want Furuya to get another misunderstanding—they're in high school, he doesn't need this to escalate into some embarrassing middle school scandal.

Furuya doesn't react to the jibe, instead, he holds his right hand out.

"It's starting to hurt," he says.

Miyuki abruptly remembers that Furuya didn't take the new bottle of polish with him the other time, and it's also his fault that he hadn't given it to the other after, either. Miyuki catches the hand and tries to look at the nail on the pointer finger, but it's too dim to see anything. With a sigh he starts walking and drags Furuya along towards his room at the dorms.

"Say something sooner," he chides. "Why didn't you just buy the polish?"

"I don't remember the brand," Furuya's voice replies from behind him.

"It doesn't matter what brand it is," he shakes his head. "As long as it's for strengthening your nails, it's fine. Don't you dare crack another nail—I will make sure you don't get to stand on the mound for the next game."

It's quiet behind him but Miyuki knows he got the point across, though, he doesn't have the power to keep Furuya off the mound per se, but Furuya doesn't have to know that. Still, he wants a form of acknowledgement from the younger.

"Did you hear me?" he cocks his head back.

Only, Furuya isn't looking at him; the pitcher is staring at the ground, and Miyuki stops in their tracks along the corridor of the dorms. It's better lit where they are now than before, three doors away from his room. Miyuki realises that he's been holding Furuya's hand along the whole way. And Furuya is gripping back with a faint tremble, unwilling to let go.

The flustered red on the normally pale face hits Miyuki in the gut again with the sense of dawning guilt—Furuya doesn't manage to meet his eyes, resolutely staring at his feet.

"Furuya—"

"We're not there yet."

Miyuki blinks when the other interrupts.

"Your room," Furuya clarifies.

Miyuki stares, and then he takes a deep breath. He tugs Furuya along past the three doors, and digs into his pocket for his keys. All this while, Furuya refuses to let go of his hand. His roommates aren't in as usual—sometimes he wonders where the hell they actually are at this time of the night—but he's grateful for the privacy right now when he pulls Furuya in and shuts the door.

As promised, Furuya lets go of his grip and stands back.

Miyuki opens his mouth to begin iterating the boundaries that they need to abide by to the younger, but the other beats him to it with an honest question.

"Miyuki-senpai, why do you do that?"

"…Do what?" he asks, confused.

"Indulge me," Furuya says in a sort of matter of fact. "You always say things I like to hear. You're always there when I want you to be. Always."

The emphasis that Furuya gives on that last word is what shuts Miyuki up from the counter that he's just taking care of a junior, what do you mean by indulging, because when he looks back at Furuya, the younger looks startlingly calm, like Furuya's stating a factual observation. Like Furuya's been coming to him frequently on purpose over the past two months. Like Furuya's been the one watching him while he's been doling out out for the compliments and affectionate gestures that he thinks he's been giving to watch Furuya react to that.

"What are you talking about?" Miyuki manages smoothly despite the growing tightening feeling in his gut that he's been labelling as guilt—now that it's expanding, it doesn't feel like it anymore. It feels like something worse.

Furuya takes his hand in reply and rests it on the top of his head. Miyuki's fingers unconsciously twitch to ruffle it up, and stills immediately when he realises what he's just done.

"I like that," Furuya states, with his fingers still around Miyuki's wrists top of his head, and Miyuki knows that.

He knows that so desperately because he's been doing it because he knows Furuya likes it.

And Furuya knows that too.

"I," Miyuki begins, and then halts. "I—I."

He's honestly speechless. His mind is a mess—he's sick and twisted and he wanted to do it because he likes having Furuya purring at every word he says, because he likes watching that stoic face look at him with awe and adoration, because he really likes the pitcher's near devotional attention to him. Pavlovian conditioning; did Miyuki say once about Furuya's behaviour before? Perhaps he has been pretending that he's been conditioning Furuya to like him, when in actual fact, he has been conditioning himself to like Furuya.

A very long silence passes between them both and eventually Miyuki retracts his hand back, and Furuya lets him. Miyuki lowers himself down to sit on the floor, and he barks a defeatist laugh, one that he's never let anyone hear before. Furuya squats so that he's on the same level and waits quietly.

There's a reason why Miyuki acts the way he does in public—easy going, charming, bordering on the smug—because if it's enough for people to feel like they know him, yet not enough to make him feel uncomfortable about actually knowing him. Right now he's the most uneasy with Furuya observing him looking at the wall and taking slow breaths while his mind scrambles for the next course of action. He feels the control he thought he's always had slipping far too quickly past his fingertips. He needs time to reconsolidate this, to decide if he really wants to push Furuya away while it's becoming apparent that it appears he wants the exact opposite.

"…I honestly don't know what you expect from me." Miyuki says finally.

Furuya looks at him. "One more."

"Huh?"

Furuya reaches forward to hold Miyuki's hand again, only the faint tremble in the younger's fingers betrays how nervous he feels about all this.

"One more," the other says. Indulge me. One more.

It's like he always does when he pitches to Miyuki. "Please."


-I just wanted to hold-


Fin.