Another game of repeated failed hits. Kazuya huffed, tossing his carry-on bag into the overhead bin angrily before slumping down into his usual seat.
Kazuya was sulking and he knew it, sinking even further into the cushioned seat. He had tried every avenue he could think of to shed the cloud of bad luck following him, but nothing seemed to work.
His defensive play on the field was still top notch, and he was always brought in to handle the difficult pitches during a game, but lately when it came to batting he just couldn't seem to catch a break.
It's like I'm cursed or something... as Kazuya pulled his cap down further on his head to avoid the stares of his team mates as they passed shuffling onto the plane. The normal routine between cities as they readied to leave home for a string of away games.
He was prepared for the hyena cackle laughter before it reached his row, lifting his feet quickly out of the way of his team mate as he fell purposely across his side before settling into the window seat.
"Honestly Kuramochi... I thought we were over this." Kazuya turned a disappointing pout in his seat mates direction. He knew the shortstop was just trying to lighten his mood in wake of his recent slump, but the teasing only served to deepen the scowl on his face. “It will work itself out… eventually.”
He could feel Kuramochi’s disapproving glare before he turned to meet it. “Tch, Miyuki I will do whatever it takes to get you out of this, whether by physical or mental force. You need to do something enjoyable instead of spending all your free time training, or studying play videos and not getting enough sleep. Maybe you even need to go out on a nice date…”
All Kazuya could do was roll his eyes as Kuramochi continued. He had tried multiple methods to take his mind off of the horrible slump he had been in for several weeks. Running on the treadmill until he passed out exhausted in bed. Having every batting coach watch his swings for the slightest change only to be told it was the same as always. Even last week asking one of his pretty fan girls on a date as a distraction, only to be left with a large bill after their dinner and a splitting headache from the amount of information she had bombarded him with in such a short amount of time. Nothing seemed to work and no matter how many times he explained this to his best friend on the team, he just couldn't get it through his thick skull. He let Kuramochi carry on, doing his best to hold in his irritated expressions at the gestured arms and raised voice.
Finally everyone had boarded and the flight attendants took to their normal positions of closing the overhead bins, making sure everyone’s tray tables were up, and belts securely fastened. Most of the team remembered to put away their cell phones and tablets and store bags underneath the seats, but there were always one or two that needed to be reminded.
A raised voice drew his attention away from Kuramochi still going on about different strategies he had come up with, to settle on a veteran of the team arguing loudly with one of the flight attendants.
Normally they had the same crew for every flight who already knew the players habits and tendencies to stretch the rules a bit at certain times, but this person was someone Kazuya had never seen before and would soon never forget.
“I already told you, it's IN airplane mode!” Jun’s barking voice carried from the front of the cabin, Tetsu trying to soothe his seat mate and get him to cooperate.
“IT’S A TABLET AND NEEDS TO BE STORED AWAY UNTIL AFTER TAKE-OFF!”
Wow, I didn't know a person louder than Jun even existed. Kazuya thought, trying to get a better look at the voice that had stolen his attention.
The attendant turned and all Kazuya could focus on was gold; intense eyes currently scowling at both Jun and Tetsu in turn but all he could see was the man’s beautiful features. His hair was messily spiked, almost as if he had been running his hands through the stands in frustration and the expressions passing across his face made Kazuya extremely interested.
Kazuya felt the elbow in his side as Kuramochi tried to draw his attention away, turning he saw the twitch of Kuamochi’s eyebrows. This is why it was so difficult to have Kuramochi as a best friend. Because of their close connection, Kuramochi knew immediately when something or someone in particular caught Kazuya’s interest, and the expression in the shortstop’s eyes reflected a plan already in the works.
Before Kazuya could stop Kuramochi, he saw the shortstop unbuckling his belt to stand and lean against the seat in front of him, “Jun-san, stop bothering the flight attendants! You know that's the permanent job of our resident ‘pretty-boy catcher’ here, so why don't you just cooperate and let Miyuki be the only obstinate one on the flight later?”
All he could do is shield his eyes in embarrassment, wanting to avoid the looks and comments of his team mates on the plane at that little piece of trivia. Hearing Jun muttering, “Don’t you dare compare me to Miyuki…” to cause even more red to dust his cheeks.
Looking up when he felt back in control of his expression, he was immediately drawn to the pair of golden eyes staring directly at him, pulling Kazuya slowly into their clutches before another attendant, Haruno, stole away his attention.
“Sawamura come along and help me out with the safety demonstration. Quit bothering Jun and he’ll cooperate by takeoff,” she scolded shaking her finger at him.
“I hope it hits him on the head during takeoff to prove me right,” Kazuya heard Sawamura whisper before being dragged off to the front of the cabin.
Kazuya could see the slight slump in Sawamura’s shoulders as he followed Haruno. The familiar safety announcements starting as they talked about the brochures, exits and floatation devices before Kazuya found himself fascinated by Sawamura’s lips. What they might feel like pressed against soft skin instead of watching them fold around the life preserver inflation tube, messing up his hair even further with the oxygen mask elastic as Sawamura placed it on and off his head.
Kazuya could feel his eyes going glossy, focus sharpened to the curve of Sawamura’s dazzling smile, the deep dimples of his cheeks and mesmerizing eyes. He had been drawn in so deep, he almost missed Kuramochi’s question beside him but still had to be elbowed in the ribs to draw away his attention.
“Well, it looks like the distraction you needed may have just found you instead,” Kuramochi snickered at Kazuya, a feeling of foreboding growing in the pit of his stomach with the new change in routine.
Eijun had been so excited to start the first day of his new job; legs swinging impatiently sitting with Wakana and the rest of the flight attendants for their pilots to arrive. He had been waiting in various stages of nervousness, glee, and frustration for the last month before he finally learned he was hired with the charter company of his dreams.
Of course he had been devastated when a year ago Wakana had been hired on with the company, Eijun having no idea the posting even existed. Various connections landing Wakana his dream career, although at the time at least Eijun had a current job unlike his friend who had been searching for months.
"I'm sorry Eijun! I knew it was for a charter job mainly with a specific baseball team, but when I learned exactly who it was for, I felt like I had betrayed you.”
Eijun could see the remorse in her bright eyes at having to spill the news, but he responded with nothing but enthusiasm. “I'm happy for you Wakana! You needed the job and now… you can be like my personal spy on the team!”
Her expression on the verge of tears quickly morphed into disgust. She saw through his intentions immediately scowling with, “I am not spying on Miyuki Kazuya for you!”
Eijun had used his puppy-dog eyes as a raw weapon, tears pooling at the corners, lower lip pushing up in a fierce battle against Wakana’s returned glare. The final touch of a sniffle escaping his nose before his victory was sealed, a roll of eyes and despondent sigh her only response.
“Fine… for not knowing who the job was for or telling you about it, I'll gather any interesting facts that I can. But- you have to keep them to yourself! I want to be able to keep this job and I'm sure spilling top secret tidbits and habits of top baseball players is an easy way to find yourself unemployed.”
Wakana had made him shake on it too, swear on his ever seemingly present good luck he would keep any information she unearthed to himself.
This was how he learned second-hand that Miyuki never slept on a flight. No matter how exhausted he looked, dark circles sunken under his eyes he would lie back and watch the rest of the team slumber around him. Earbuds in place to fight against his team mates snoring until they reached their destination whether at a series of away games or back to home.
Miyuki loved coffee. Always asking for it black on each flight, with double shots of espresso when he needed an extra kick. Wakana always made sure to carry the picky catcher’s favorite kind after Kuramochi dropped repeated hints, and he never gave her any further trouble or too much teasing.
And currently, what Eijun was most concerned about, was Miyuki’s current offensive slump. Wakana had shared just last week that he seemed to slowly closing in even more on himself. He used to play pranks and be quite the trickster of the team, but now that joy had subsided from the catcher’s personality. Slumping further and further into his seat after each failed attempt and barely acknowledging anything anymore as they travelled onwards to the next game.
It's almost like fate I would be hired on at a time like this, especially after the effect his playing had on me…
Eijun snapped himself out of that particular repressed spiral of ill emotions and long forgotten feelings. Fingers reaching up to trace his left shoulder out of habit, ghost pains radiating from underneath his skin that didn't really exist any longer, just old habits of twitchy fingers and a wandering mind brought suddenly back to memories from several years ago.
To the brightness of blue skies shining in a large stadium, smells of fresh-cut grass lingering with concession stand fares to churn the unsteadiness of Eijun’s stomach. Gaze focused on the blackness of the dirt within the diamond, wishing he could find out just what sounds it would make and how the crunch would feel satisfying underfoot.
Fingers connecting with his left shoulder, fighting off spurs of intense pain before reaching for medicine concealed in his jacket pocket. The steady ache a reminder of why the dreams he was watching in front of him would never come true for Eijun. Blackness gripped tightly around body like a shroud, swallowing up his energy to dim the sunlight falling all around him.
Eijun had wanted to leave that day, spending hours travelling to the stadium high school boys dreams were built on every spring and summer, but a presence on the field stopped his motion towards the stairs and exit; the grin of a certain catcher and the way his amused laughter drew Eijun’s attention directly to him.
He could remember asking, “Who’s that?” to his team mates and Wakana at his side, before receiving an eye roll for a response and agitated shake of her head.
“That's only Miyuki Kazuya, one of the top-rated high school catchers in the entire country,” her expression softening at Eijun’s obvious discomfort. “I know it hurts being here in more ways than one but- you need to start healing, and maybe watching a few games of the top teams in the country will help even a little to soothe some of the ache.” Wakana reaching over to card her soft hands through the unruly strands of hair tucked under his baseball cap, scratching at the short hairs at his nape before pulling away to scream a cheer into the air of the stadium.
Eijun trying his best to indulge Wakana before finding himself easily swept up in the tempo of the game, Miyuki’s plays shining brightly on the field as he lead his team to victory. It wasn't just his calls as catcher that impressed Eijun (and seemed to bring out the best in each pitcher) but he could bat fiercely, run quickly and force his opponents into a corner before the team struck for the kill.
'I wish I could have a battery partner like that… like Miyuki Kazuya…' Eijun’s thoughts drifted before responding to the firm grip at his shoulder from Wakana. Her eyes reflecting back her thoughts do clearly of, 'I know.'
Finally the pilots arrived and Wakana and Haruno stood up quickly to greet them and introduce Eijun. He had meet Haruno several times before on outings with Wakana, and was surprised with her natural clumsy tendencies to be an amazing flight attendant, but she always managed to pull it off each flight. Wakana used to joke she saved all of her bad luck for once they all reached their destination with lost luggage, late taxis and a long list of falls from the past year they had been working together. Eijun hoped their good luck on the plane would hold as he would be meeting Miyuki Kazuya truly for the first time.
They all quickly settled onto the private flight, Haruno and Wakana letting him know of any differences between the commercial flights he had been used to in the past and the specialties of their smaller flight before running through their own pre-flight checklists.
Eijun was amazed at the selection of food between and every special order pre-assigned to each player (thanking his luck he knew the team already so well from watching their games) to be able to match the face to each meal. Smirking when he came across a certain catcher’s order and the small container of coffee that was his favorite. He wanted to open the container, take a quick inhale of the aroma (even if he hated the stuff himself) but held back. Wakana would notice later and then he would be in hot water, instead working to complete his list before securing everything back within the gallery for the flight.
After checking in with Haruno and Wakana to ensure everything was completed they all waited by the hatch for the players to start arriving, Eijun distracting himself listening to the hum of the plane's electrical system and counting the lights down the row. Eijun bouncing on the balls of his feet for one face in particular to show up at the door, even as Wakana lightly chopped him in the side to calm down.
What Eijun wasn't expecting was the Miyuki Kazuya he greeted that day to be a shell of his former self. Shoulders hunched over, messy hair collected in place with his sideways cap before he lurched onto the plane ignoring Eijun’s wide smile before finding his seat. Eijun jumping at the sudden noise of Miyuki’s carry-on bag hitting the overhead bin with such a sudden force before he had disappeared into his seat, slouched down to hide his eyes from the remaining players filing on to board the plane.
He noticed Kuramochi getting on not too far behind the despondent catcher, gaze connecting with Wakana before slowly shaking his head 'no' in her direction before gazing down the plane briefly towards Miyuki. Kuramochi jerked back suddenly to stare into Eijun’s eyes, the briefest flicker of recognition flaring in their depths before the slight shake of his shoulders snapped him out of his thoughts, shifting as he began to walk down the plane taking his own seat.
Eijun heard Kuramochi’s cackling laughter before Miyuki’s yelp even from the front of the plane. Taking his eyes away from greeting everyone to notice Kuramochi and Miyuki in a heated discussion in their seats, Miyuki eye-rolling at whatever conversation was occurring between them. So distracted he felt himself pulled briefly forward to ram into a firm shoulder by accident, and faced with one scowling mug of the team’s outspoken center fielder.
“HEY! Watch where you're going, brat!” Was snarled in Eijun’s direction before Tetsu, the team captain pulled back a growling Jun from Eijun’s direction steering them towards their seats and mouthing a ‘sorry,’ in Eijun’s direction.
“Eijun…” Wakana hissed low in his ear, “be more careful! You do not want to be on the bad side of anyone on your first day!” Before she again turned away to usher on the last of their guests, Eijun nodding and forcing a smile until the very last person was through the door and it was secured behind them.
He snapped himself out of a daze, focusing to make sure everything checked out safely before Wakana brushed by them to the front of the cabin, communicating with the pilots they were clear and would be starting the safety demonstration if everything was on schedule. That is when Eijun noticed Jun playing with a large tablet in his lap just before they were about to begin.
Stalking over already in a sour mood from their earlier interaction, Eijun was determined to make him store it away before they took off on the flight. Ignoring the intense stare from Jun’s seat mate, he started off by trying to ask nicely for the tablet to be put away. “Hello Jun-san. I'm sorry we got off to the wrong foot earlier, and my name is Eijun,” he reached his hand out to try and shake Jun’s only to be once again snarled at. “I'm sorry to be so picky, but could you please store away your tablet into the holder in front of you until after takeoff. Wouldn't want any unnecessary accidents now would we?”
Eijun trying his most brilliant sunshine smile, before being shot down by the scowl on Jun’s face. “I will, but just let me finish watching this video first and then I'll be sure to put it away before we’re even close to being airborne,” Jun responded, eyes glancing back towards the tablet in his hands.
Sighing, Eijun just couldn’t let it go. It was against procedures and although he wanted to make a good impression on his first day, he would argue a point to try and prevent injuries on any flight. Even if he might deserve a slight concussion from the weight of that hitting him square in the forehead.
"I'm sorry Jun-san but it needs to be in airplane mode to avoid interfering with any of the pilot’s communications and stored away. If you have music, you can always plug in a set of headphones into it until we get underway…”
“It is already in airplane mode. Like I told you brat, I'll put it away with plenty of time to spare."
Eijun swallowing down his fury at being interrupted to bawl his fists by his sides. Trying so desperately not to yell at one of the leading players on the team. “Please Jun-san I'm trying to be reasonable here and come to a compromise…” Before Eijun was again rudely interrupted.
“I already told you, it's IN airplane mode!” Jun’s barking voice carried throughout the cabin, Tetsu trying to soothe his seat mate and get him to cooperate with Eijun’s request.
Eijun tried to calm his racing heart, counting to ten before starting over again only to be agitated once more with a growl from Jun’s pursed lips; the last straw before he lost his remaining patience and lashed out, “IT’S A TABLET AND NEEDS TO BE STORED AWAY UNTIL AFTER TAKE-OFF!”
Shit that was FAR too loud… as Eijun briefly turned before being drawn back into by the loud snarl in front of him, eyes connecting with Jun and Tetsu in a harsh staring contest, rage boiling behind his eyes at being treated so disrespectfully.
Eijun was so focused on his anger he missed the shift on his right-hand side not noticing the person standing up until they shouted at him from their seat, “Jun-san, stop bothering the flight attendants! You know that's the permanent job of our resident ‘pretty-boy catcher’ here, so why don't you just cooperate and let Miyuki be the only obstinate one on the flight later?”
Eijun turned to stare at Kuramochi before his gaze shifted to the catcher in question sinking lower into his seat with eyes shielded in embarrassment, obviously wanting to avoid the looks and comments of his team mates on the plane at Kuramochi’s words.
Jun muttering in front of Eijun, “Don’t you dare compare me to Miyuki…” to cause even more red to dust Miyuki’s cheeks.
Even with the harsh words and looks directly in front of him, Eijun felt himself drawn to Miyuki’s embarrassed expression. Chestnut eyes hidden behind the glare of his glasses until he looked up directly into Eijun’s gaze. Trapped is all Eijun could feel, being swallowed further down in Miyuki’s intense stare until Haruno stole away his attention by tugging urgently on his arm.
“Sawamura come along and help me out with the safety demonstration. Quit bothering Jun and he’ll cooperate by takeoff,” she scolded shaking her finger at him.
“I hope it hits him on the head during takeoff to prove me right,” Eijun whispered back before being dragged off to the front of the cabin.
Eijun could feel his own shoulders slumping as he followed Haruno. Starting the familiar safety announcements as Wakana talked about the brochures, exits and floatation devices. Eijun finding himself calmed by the normal patterns, lips folding around the life preserver inflation tube to joke with the players near him, purposely messing up his hair even further with the oxygen mask elastic as Eijun placed it on and off his head.
He could see Miyuki’s stare in the corner of his eye, eyes glossy with some unknown expression before it was drawn away far too quickly by a wayward elbow from Kuramochi. A few exchanged words between the two before they were both suddenly staring directly at Eijun.
A feeling of foreboding growing in the pit of Eijun’s stomach with the new routines he was trying to meld himself into, unsure with the intensity of the stares aimed in his direction just what adventures his first flight might hold.
First off: this is way too late. Second: still far too late. Third: I'm blaming the onslaught of SASO writing for this being so late, but rest assured I haven't forgotten about our flying Sawamura ;)
Eijun strapped himself in tightly beside Haruno, sharing a collective sigh as they prepared for takeoff; lines of the adjacent tarmac accelerating as they taxied through the confusing maze of runways and biways through the airport until they ‘finally’ reached the right runway to start their ascent.
Unlike so many other people who dreaded the feeling of leaving the ground, Eijun felt the rush of exhilaration surge into his limbs with the motion of the plane’s nose leaving the solid earth, quickly followed by the feeling and rush of air under the plane’s wings.
Eijun couldn't stop watching the ground growing smaller beneath them before he heard the soft whimper at his side, looking over to see Haruno’s eyes squeezed tightly shut. A quiver running over her arms as she clung to the harness of belts strapped securely around her shoulders.
He couldn't help but smile softly, leaning over slightly into Haruno’s space before gently brushing his fingers against her clenched hand, earning a yelp of surprise before she settled herself, relief flashing through her eyes briefly before grasping Eijun’s welcoming grip.
Settling himself deeper into the seat, waiting for the plane to level out and the normal patterns of beeps and announcements to let them know they were free to start preparing to serve a gang of hungry baseball players (some like Jun likely already foaming at the mouth).
Turning to notice the blush on Haruno’s cheeks as their hands continued to touch before Eijun pulled away, not wanting to place any confusion on the situation. Just as he was about to speak to ease some of his own uneasiness, she beat him to the punch.
“I know Eijun, and it’s okay in my books. You're cute and everything, but Wakana has talked bout your crushes for far too long for me to not know,” she smiled reassuringly, “although when you do find the lucky guy, I'm going to still be jealous.”
Mind eased at Haruno’s words as they finally got the go-ahead to start moving about the cabin, Haruno’s easy laughter and laid-back nature putting Eijun more at ease in an unfamiliar plane as they crashed hips moving about from side-to-side.
"I'm going to start delivering everyone’s drink orders, but do you mind following behind to start serving meals? It's not too long of a flight and better to get the team fed so they’re less irritated and more relaxed.” Haruno smiled as she pushed out the cart into the aisle, Eijun nodding as he started to open and sort the various meals that they had smartly organized beforehand.
Eijun and Haruno moving easily as a team to get everyone fed quickly and more settled. Eijun swearing he could feel staring coming from several sections on the plane as he moved about the first several rows.
Heading back to the canteen to spot the packet of coffee sitting beside Miyuki’s meal before he realized just where the intense focus had been emanating from as he moved about the plane. He had been so focused on not screwing up he had completely forgotten about the catcher and his reactions prior to takeoff.
Starting the pot of coffee for Miyuki, he got back to work delivering meals before finally making it to the row he had been anxious about. Finding one still slightly sullen catcher seemingly absorbed with the music from his head phones, and his aisle-mate looking Eijun over studiously.
Depositing their trays before acknowledging Miyuki quickly, “Your coffee will also be out soon, Miyuki-san.” Before starting to head back to the gallery to grab the next set of trays, a hand reaching out to grab his wrist stopping Eijun in his tracks.
“Now hold on a minute- no introductions or anything? We’ve been graced by the loveliness of Wakana and Haruno for a very long time and suddenly you get thrown into the mix, with first impressions of nearly causing Jun-san to have a coronary and Yuuki needing to save your ass from being pummelled.” Kuramochi’s smirk growing as he had Eijun snared within his grasp before releasing him gently.
“I’m Sawamura Eijun, and I've known Wakana since we were in school together living in the same town, Kuramochi-san. She’s the main reason I'm here actually…” he paused to smile fondly, remembering many years of memories before turning to the snarling face of the angry shortstop.
“What do you mean by that…” Tension palpable as all the muscles in Kuramochi’s hands flexed and contracted, Eijun finally picking up confirmation of a theory Wakana had not too long ago.
“Oh nothing like that Kuramochi-san!” Waving his hands in quick defence to soothe the other’s agitation slightly. “You see we’ve been friends since we were kids, sharing secrets, delivering dares, even about crushes-“ Eijun feeling his uniform collar pulled back harshly cutting off his air momentarily, a duo of snickers coming from Miyuki and Kuramochi as Wakana cut him off mid-thought.
“Eijun! Stop goofing off and help pass out the rest of the meals to everyone! You don't want to give Jun-san any more reasons to be irritated with you…” Wakana’s finger shaking in Eijun’s direction as she made her point, Eijun not missing the deep dusting of red on her cheeks in Kuramochi’s presence.
Turning towards the row once again to wink at Kuramochi, surprise etching over Kuramochi’s face before looking between the two attendants, before Eijun felt another tug at his neck. Wakana using her hidden strength to drag him easily down the aisle back to the galley.
“Eijun- what do you think you're doing blabbing about that…” Red still present and growing deeper the more Wakana talked about Kuramochi.
“Helping to solve a problem,” Eijun tried to smile reassuringly, “and now at least he has an idea of your feelings.”
A sudden smack hitting his head as Eijun rubbed his temple gingerly, pouting face taking over as Wakana made her way back towards the back of the plane. A whispered, “I can take care of it myself,” her last words before she retreated back to safety and to take comfort with Haruno at Eijun’s actions.
Sighing loudly before he picked up the strong scent of coffee heating in the enclosed space, knowing he would have to return to the row one last time before making his way throughout the rest of the plane.
Stacking the next set of trays before pouring a large cup of coffee for Miyuki and heading down the aisle, stopping briefly again to a set of keen eyes as Eijun deposited the steaming mug on Miyuki’s tray.
Starting to make his way down the row again before being called out, “Hey Sawamura, where is my normal cream and sugar?” Miyuki’s glum face turning slightly teasing as Eijun walked back towards the row.
“Oh, but you don't take any in your coffee normally. Nice try Miyuki-san but you’ll have to do better than that,” Eijun again making his way down the aisle.
Missing the blush starting to dust Miyuki’s cheeks at being caught in what he thought to be such a clever tease. Hearing a bark of hyena-like laughter from the aisle as Kuramochi’s elbow collided swiftly with Miyuki’s side.
Missing the shocked look on Miyuki’s face with his first careful sip as he proceeded to drink down his coffee in record time.
Sunday late night, the perfect time for a new chapter in Kuramochi POV this time ;)
Gaze hardened and motivation reset, Youichi was bound and determined to set things on a smoother path for Miyuki by the end of the flight. Glossy eyes and distant expression not missing Youichi’s keen gaze before he started to set a plan into motion.
Watching as Miyuki slipped in a pair of ear buds firmly before Youichi could barely hear the chorus of some unidentifiable song- Miyuki had terrible taste, that one thing was for sure. Although, his new distraction seemed to be a very welcome change and just the thing to help ease Miyuki’s slump from continuing to wreak silent havoc within the team.
Thinking back to a conversation away from the catcher’s keen ears just last week, their captain Yuuki concerned with Miyuki’s even further deterioration off the field. The tenured players asking Youichi’s opinion if there was anything they could do to assist with the catcher’s current struggles, and even he didn't know what was truly eating away at Miyuki’s batting performance. Making a promise however to get to the bottom of it and help out his teammate in whatever way he could.
Now seemingly, the perfect distraction dropping into their closed off, baseball absorbed lives at such a convenient time. Youichi making a vow he would do anything to help ease the secret stress and pressure off his (shitty) friend’s shoulders.
Youichi making a mental note to inquire with Wakana once the flight was underway and after everyone was served dinner, about their newest flight attendant who seemed awfully closely aquatinted with her already.
Always forgetting about Miyuki’s perceptiveness as Youichi relaxed back into his seat, staring out the plane window until the ground’s landmarks faded away to blue sky. Pulling out his sketchbook from the chair pocket in front of him to start inking swirling lines, little intricate designs to calm his twitching nerves whenever Youichi was stuck on a flight.
“Don't get any ideas.”
Words that surprised Youichi as he looked over at Miyuki’s half-closed eyes, gaze focused on the swirls and lines of an intricate sun peeking through the clouds, returning his words with silence. Youichi’s pen resuming its pattern of swirls as he smirked at Miyuki knowingly before re-focusing on the doodles in his lap.
Knowing that he just had to make a move today, for his own, the team, and above all else Miyuki’s sake.
It wasn't long before the plane was well into its established flight, the attendants buzzing in the galley to serve the players food as quickly as possible to soothe any irritation from hunger after the game.
Haruno heading out first to deliver refreshments as Youichi grabbed water and a soda. Miyuki brushing off anything until Youichi mouthed for another water and shoved the offending bottle into Miyuki’s hands, the catcher grunting at him but making a show all the same of opening it and chugging down a few mouthfuls before stuffing it into the back of the seat in front of him.
I will act like your mom if I have to… shitty four-eyes… Miyuki staring right back into Youichi’s glare before grinning like a maniac, Youichi reaching to place him in an armlock before a certain attendant started to walk down the row handing out each player’s food tray.
Miyuki’s eyes shifting automatically from Youichi to watch the man deliver each tray precisely, taking note he already knew each player by name and position from addressing each person individually as he made his way down the rows. Youichi deciding to let it go as he watched the attendant make his way closer to their aisle.
Stashing away his drawings and supplies and lowering his tray table, Youichi couldn't wait to dig into his favorite post-game meal, reaching over to knock down Miyuki’s own tray to earn one last glare before a set of trays were slid lightly onto each.
“Your coffee will be out soon, Miyuki-san.” Full, bright, blinding smile hitting Youichi straight on before he noticed Miyuki’s expression; just the glimmer of hope he needed to see.
Forcing Youichi to take action, reaching out to grasp firmly around a slim but at the same time muscular wrist.
“Now hold on a minute- no introductions or anything? We’ve been graced by the loveliness of Wakana and Haruno for a very long time and suddenly you get thrown into the mix, with first impressions of nearly causing Jun-san to have a coronary and Yuuki needing to save your ass from being pummelled.” Youichi feeling his smirk growing, wrist snared within his grasp before releasing gently.
“I’m Sawamura Eijun, and I've known Wakana since we were in school together living in the same town, Kuramochi-san. She’s the main reason I'm here actually…” Sawamura pausing to smile, Youichi not able to stop the flames of jealously from fanning into a cruel sneer.
“What do you mean by that…” Tension palpable as all the muscles in Youichi’s hands flexed and contracted, Sawamura backing up slightly knowing he had touched a nerve.
“Oh nothing like that Kuramochi-san!” Sawamura waving his hands in a quick defence before continuing, “You see we’ve been friends since we were kids, sharing secrets, delivering dares, even about crushes-“ Youichi watching and holding back laughter as Wakana came to her own rescue, tugging on Sawamura’s collar and pulling back harshly. Youichi no longer able to hold back his snickering as Miyuki joined into the amusement.
“Eijun! Stop goofing off and help pass out the rest of the meals to everyone! You don't want to give Jun-san any more reasons to be irritated with you…” Wakana’s finger shaking in Sawamura’s direction as she made her point, Youichi fixated at the deep dusting of red on her cheeks.
Sawamura turning to wink at Youichi, surprise etching over his face before looking between the two attendants. Watching as Wakana used her hidden strength to drag Sawamura easily down the aisle back to the galley.
“Always nice to have a little entertainment before dinner.” Miyuki mumbled out before sinking back deeper into his seat, peeling off the cover to his meal before digging into his food slowly.
Youichi shrugging before starting on his own meal, digging his elbow lightly into Miyuki’s side to earn a snicker before they both settled down. Thinking that perhaps the food tasted just a touch better than before a certain person had appeared on the plane that day.
Finding himself jumping as a steaming mug appeared on Miyuki’s tray. Sawamura trying to retreat quickly but not even close to fast enough from one sneaky catcher.
“Hey Sawamura, where is my normal cream and sugar?” Miyuki’s face hidden as Sawamura walked back towards their row.
“Oh, but you don't take any in your coffee normally. Nice try Miyuki-san but you’ll have to do better than that,” Sawamura again making his way down the aisle, teasing smirk seemingly transferred from the person sitting rigid beside him.
Youichi unable to stop a bark of hyena-like laughter from escaping, another elbow colliding swiftly with Miyuki’s side with even more amusement.
Noticing the shocked look on Miyuki’s face with his first careful sip as he proceeded to drink down his coffee in record time.
“I swear the food tastes a little better today.”
Youichi nodding with him in silent agreement.
Once they had both eaten, meal trays left empty on both sides, Youichi felt it was the perfect chance to slip away. Miyuki already settled further into his seat relaxed, Youichi grabbing the empty trays and flipping up the tables before sneaking past one tanuki with his eyes closed.
He should have known better that Miyuki wasn't really asleep.
“Go get’em tiger.” Youichi glaring over his shoulder at one cocky smirk before the offender again shut his eyes to relax against his headrest.
Youichi could feel his heart hammering a little more steadily as he made his way towards the rear of the plane. Already noticing before he left his seat the front restroom was occupied, making a logical explanation of his choice to walk towards the back of the plane. A few knowing players giving him winks of encouragement along the way.
He heard the low whispers before he even reached the back, Wakana and Haruno in a serious conversation that he managed to catch the tail end of before they noticed his presence.
“I swear Eijun ruined everything… what if he doesn’t like me? How am I supposed to work around him knowing? It's bad enough he has a crush on that snarky catcher that he’s going to have a hard time keeping under wraps, but why did he have to drag me into it?” Wakana sounding upset, which is the last thing in the world Youichi wanted.
“Well, I don't think it was necessarily a bad thing…” Youichi leaning into the open space, tossing the garbage into the bags at the back before grinning at the two blushing attendants.
Haruno smiling shyly before retreating, making her own way towards the front of the plane hastily, a hushed, “Traitor,” escaping from Wakana’s lips.
“I'll tell you what if I get a stolen base in the next game, you have to go out with me.” Youichi throwing all caution to the wind and just putting his feelings on the line.
Wakana looking a little shocked herself before coyly answering back, “But you almost always steal a base every game.”
Youichi’s own trickster grin showing before answering back, “Well then you should just agree to go out on a date with me now and save the hassle.”
Both of them smiling before Wakana threw her hands up in defeat, “Fine, the next set of home games then, Kuramochi-san.”
Never getting enough of how his name sounded in Wakana’s cute voice, but wanting to see what he could get away with.
“You can use Mochi… only if you want to that is…” Feeling a blush rising on his own cheeks before looking back at Wakana and her cute smile. Remembering however his sense of duty towards one sullen catcher. “I did mean to ask you though just how Sawamura knew you, and the names of the team especially on why he seems to be fixated just a little on Miyuki…”
Their hushed conversation interrupted with a sudden shout near the front of the plane, Youichi and Wakana moving to see Miyuki standing in the aisle trying to brush something off of his sweats with a look of disgust. One Sawamura Eijun right in the thick of the loudness and mess.
“That Mochi-san is a question you’re going to have to ask Eijun yourself.”
Feeling a slight tug of his hair as she passed by heading towards the front of the plane to assist the others, Youichi blushing due to a new reason before escaping to the restroom.
Determined to find out, eventually, the secret one Sawamura Eijun seemed to be hiding.
I'm free from SASO and have a bit of spare time before Con prep for YCon in a couple weeks, so have another chapter ;)
All Kazuya wanted to do was relax and try to ease his nagging thoughts about just what the source of his recent misfortunes appeared to stem from; glowing golden eyes seeming to do the trick. Sawamura making quick work delivering all meals to the plane full of ravenous players before retreating out of sight once again.
He could feel the pull deep within his chest, soothing his nagging worries and insecurities, just with the thought of those eyes focused on him for any length of time. Drowning in their depths and getting sucked further down, until he would be permanently lost.
Ultimately deciding he could no longer sit still any further. Hiding his iPod away in the seat back in front of him before pushing his way onto unsteady feet. Missing the flash of movement from the corner of his eye until one solid mass of Sawamura collided with his chest, and the cold wetness of the drinks he was carrying splashed down Kazuya’s legs.
Looking into a set of eyes filled with fear and regret, Kazuya couldn't hold back a scream of frustration from escaping his throat. Feet stomping of their own accord, opening the overhead bin by his head to find his carry-on and (thankfully) an extra pair of dry sweatpants before marching towards the washroom at the front of the plane.
Sawamura’s apologies falling on Kazuya’s deaf ears, clouded with a tinge of rage he worked his absolute hardest to keep any ill thoughts buried down. It was hardly Sawamura’s fault everything horrible seemed to accumulate at that moment, waging a sea of doubts and escalating worries that Kazuya just had to escape from any prying eyes to lock himself away in the small, confined washroom before letting everything lose; silent tears and shuddering unable to be detected by those outside.
It took awhile for Kazuya to come back to himself and the present, for the repeated knocks and Wakana’s piercing cries to overshadow his lingering doubts. Only when Kuramochi’s voice could clearly be heard joining into the chorus did Kazuya open the door a crack to see his best friend’s nervous expression, widening the door just enough to grab the towel handed over before shutting himself in once again.
Focusing on his breathing to try and calm his still racing heart. Slow inhales of air and holding before letting all of the tension out. Trying not to worry about factors outside of his control… words still burned into his thoughts that he was never meant to see with memories of hastily stashing a letter back into its hiding place.
Guilt curling in his gut at being able to play the sport he truly loved, while a pillar in his life suffered in self-induced silence. Kazuya just wanting to throw his season on hold to find out the real story behind those terrifying words discovered late one night.
Still, he slowly brought himself back from the brink. Hands fumbling as he pulled off the wet material clinging to his legs, towel bringing back some warmth and comfort before he worked his way back to a calm state. Changing quickly before wringing out his pants as best he could in the tiny sink.
Opening the door carefully as he peered around the other side to see one pacing shortstop and one obviously worried flight attendant, both turning their attentions towards him as he exited into the aisle.
“Are you okay, Miyuki?” Kuramochi trying (and failing) to hide the hint of nervousness in his voice.
Kazuya gulping down a breath filled with embarrassment. Knowing it was hardly Sawamura’s fault he had been distracted by a frustration-filled day, emotions boiling over into a storm he was unable to control until he was forced to face the damage head-on in its wake.
“I've been off my game today, and that whole incident was entirely my fault,” Kazuya pausing to look around the galley and then down the entire aircraft aisle, before focusing back on the two in front of him.
“He’s… hiding.” Kazuya watching as Wakana guiltily engaged in a staring contest with the floor, refusing to meet his gaze. “I think I made him feel badly about the whole situation and was a little too harsh with him…” Pausing as she suddenly looked up straight into Kazuya’s gaze, “but he really looks up to you a lot Miyuki-san. You're the last person he would want to disappoint.”
Continuing to stare open-mouthed at the red blush on Wakana’s cheeks until Kuramochi ushered her gently away, mission clear to do some apologizing on Kazuya’s behalf. Feeling a firm tug as he was dragged back to the aisle and his own seat.
“Seriously though Miyuki, you are okay now, yes?” Half-glaring right back at Kuramochi’s intimidating gaze.
He was far too busy thinking of how to make up his brash reactions and behavior to respond, before receiving one more shake from Kuramochi – seeming to knock an idea loose in the process.
“Kuramochi- you did manage to get Wakana’s number earlier before everything was thrown into chaos, yes?” He wished hopefully.
A growl escaping his aisle mates lips before responding, “Of course, even with your episode scarring a poor flight attendant for life…”
“Good. I'm going to need it later.”
Kazuya settling back comfortably into his seat before grabbing his headphones and listening to soothing music for the rest of the flight. Avoiding as best he could the judging scowls thrown his way by a calculating shortstop.
Relief hitting Kazuya’s heart once the plane’s wheels landed back on solid ground, the runway flashing in the open window at his left. Trying his best to hold down any guilt that Wakana had moved to the front of the plane for landing, obviously not able to convince Sawamura he was truly sorry for his earlier outburst.
Well if he’s any ounce a baseball fanatic, I know just the thing to cool any tension.
Snagging his bag from the overhead bin before forcefully tossing Kuramochi’s at him once they were stationary and able to move around the cabin, Kazuya stretched out his legs from sitting to throw a wide smile towards Wakana at the front.
Making a show out of opening his bag and pretending to search for something as Kuramochi became even more agitated at his side. A swift chop to his ribs the ammunition needed to start moving once the plane was almost empty to walk towards the exit. Stopping briefly once he reached Wakana and Haruno.
“So, Kuramochi let me know you have his number from earlier…” Avoiding another jab to the side from the angry shortstop, “And I have a favor to ask too, a little peace offering for being such a jerk earlier I’d like you to pass along for me.” Kazuya using his most sincere grin to watch Wakana’s expression turn to puzzlement. “I know you’re all in town until we fly out again so, how about if I get some of the best tickets at the diamond right above our bench for you to cheer us on? I have a feeling Sawamura likes baseball… and of course my treat?”
Watching as Haruno’s eyes glowed and Wakana being won over slowly, finally giving in with a slump to her shoulders and a deep sigh of defeat. “Fine, but I’m not the one you need to apologize too,” she responded staring down the aisle to the back of the plane.
Kazuya just catching the sight of Sawamura leaning out, Kazuya throwing him a dazzling grin before the attendant disappeared once again.
“Excellent. We’ll grab your hotel and room number later so we can have them dropped off,” Kuramochi growling at his side before starting to exit, Kazuya turning to Wakana once more, “And I really am sorry for all the mess.”
Wakana’s soft smile coming out to soothe a little of the guilt still latched within his chest, “It's the first step along the way, but I’ll let the idiot know and drag him there if I have to, although I'm sure it won't come to that.”
Sending them off with a wink as Kazuya and Kuramochi hurried to catch up to the others. Kazuya’s heart a little lighter with Wakana’s change of tone.
Pulse beating just a little faster at the thought of Sawamura’s watchful gaze following his play in tomorrow’s game.
Sorry for the long delay! Call it SASO recovery time before easing back into project planning and writing time (plus a Supernatural watching/catch-up binge) but slowly getting back into it.
Short chapter, but next one will be longer!
Eijun didn't know whether to give in to his emotions of being too excited to sit still, or to make a run to the washroom just in case his stomach decided to void the lump that had been steadily rising in his throat all afternoon.
It had been far too long since he had seen a stadium slowly appear on the horizon like magic in front of his eager eyes. The sounds of the crowd making their way forward in tightly packed lines. The overwhelming smells of hot dogs, popcorn, and cotton candy flooding his senses as he trudged along to find their assigned seats. The sights of the perfectly manicured diamond, quickly becoming trudged over by the two opposing teams and their enthusiastic warm up.
Taking in everything so familiar and yet still so distant from recent memories, Eijun could feel his eyes blinking normally, heart beating solid and steady in his chest even as his muscles seemed to freeze in place. Feeling the soft brush of Wakana's fingers before she left for refreshments.
It’s still overwhelming... I miss everything so terribly.
"Sawamura, HEADS UP!" the sudden shout causing Eijun's head to snap towards the field, stepping sideways just in time to make a swiping catch where his face had been only moments before.
Wide eyes panning across the field to the team gaping up him with open mouths, stomach fluttering as Eijun’s gaze fell on one particular player. One set of glinting glasses paired with the most unexpected expression on one Miyuki Kazuya’s face.
Just the blinding awe on Miyuki’s face that Eijun would lock away in his memories to keep safe and secure, a rare pure expression that had been missing for so long from the hours upon hours of footage Eijun had watched of recent games.
An expression Eijun returned with a blinding grin, switching the caught ball to his left hand. Stitches firm against now soft fingertips, calluses faded with time and unutilized skills that were just itching to show themselves once again.
Once isn’t going to hurt anything… I guess.
The curl of the ball against his palm, calm and soothing where at one point in time only brought pain and regret. Deciding in that one moment to let the past slip away, just for a second, as Eijun’s resolve grew stronger and grin grew even wider.
“Just be more careful next time, Miyuki Kazuya,” his shout carried easily towards its intended target.
Silence stretching as Eijun’s arm raised back, not bothering with a full wind up before throwing the ball steadily toward’s Miyuki’s chest guard. Knowing he wouldn’t see it coming until the last moment (just what he deserved after their last chaotic incident).
Watching as it flew from his fingertips and drew closer and closer, a flash of brilliant yellow reaching out at the last moment- ball still appearing to smoke as it settled firmly in the worn leather. Spell broken as a firm shake to the shoulder and a drink landed in front of Eijun’s vision.
Eijun turning to look at Wakana and Haruno’s surprised expressions, before a wolf whistle drew his attention back to the field.
“Nice throw Sawamura! Never know, we might even be able to use that on the team!” Kuramochi’s cackling ringing out from the field.
Another amused peel of laughter drawing Eijun’s attention back to the field, a flash of yellow leather clutching the returned ball, shaking shoulders and sides as Miyuki appeared to be keeping himself together until he collapsed to a knee. Amusement taking over as Miyuki failed to keep his emotions in check, irritation bubbling under Eijun’s skin until the forgotten drink was forced against his lips.
“Drink. Cool down a bit before you let him get to you all over again.” Wakana warned.
Eijun taking her advice to gulp down the offered beer greedily before turning his attention back to the diamond, just in time to see Kuramochi delivering a solid kick to Miyuki’s side to knock some sense back into the catcher still caught within a giggling fit. Just a little surprised by the wink aimed his way from the outspoken shortstop before Miyuki was hauled up and dragged further back onto the field.
“It’s too late for that Wakana, far, far too late for me to get away now.”
Settling down into his seat as the crowd filled in all around them. Eijun keeping a close eye on the team as they went through pre-game drills and rituals until the start of the game, praying and hoping for a turn around in one particular player’s streak of bad luck.
He was going to kill Kuramochi later for that wayward throw, hurt him even worse for the slight bruise blossoming on Kazuya’s side from the well-placed kick, and unsure which was more embarrassing between Sawamura’s wide disarming grin or the team’s all-knowing looks on the way back to the dugout.
Heart racing, palms sweating, fingers slightly shaking at the mere thought of that ball thrown squarely at his chest. Frozen until the last possible second; hand responding on instinct to protect his face, and at the same time hiding his own wide grin.
Kazuya felt different this game underneath the low rumble of the away crowd. Kuramochi sending him a look from across the dugout, raised eyebrow in question before Kazuya just answered back with a cheeky grin. A roll of eyes and dismissing click Kuramochi’s only answer before turning back towards the field where the team would be batting first.
Watching as the shortstop’s back disappeared onto the field, bold number six growing smaller until Kuramochi was locked into the batter’s box to face the first pitch of the night.
Vision hazy as Kuramochi took the first walk of the game. Ryousuke batting boldly as always on the first pitch to score a double. Yuki topping it off with a single to first base.
Bases loaded as Kazuya stood up from the on-deck circle. A situation he was familiar with but still shocked the coach continued to leave him in the clean-up spot game after game with his recent performance. Faith that Kazuya very urgently needed to repay and break his running streak of bad luck.
Slowly moving towards the plate from beside the dugout, Kazuya tried to resist the urge to look up at the stands one final time, resistance against seeking out one last comforting glance before he just gave in for one quick peek above the dugout. Almost losing all of his composure on the spot with Sawamura’s enthusiastic waves, shouts, and batting imitations before Wakana did the group beside him a small favor to corral Sawamura’s flailing arms from inflicting any further damage.
Instead, Kazuya melted with the disarming grin aimed in his direction. Deciding to smile right back in an honest and genuine way before turning back towards the field, missing the look of shock on Sawamura’s face as Kazuya made his way to the plate.
Feeling his heart pounding steadily in his chest, Kazuya adjusted his batting gloves one last time before sending a silent prayer skyward- a set of copper eyes swimming behind his closed lids before he refocused to stare down the pitcher in front of him. Grip loose and relaxed, shoulders square and steady, and taking in one last deep breath as the catcher signed behind Kazuya’s back.
Opposing pitcher taking quick peeks over his shoulder at the runners on base before sliding his focus back to Kazuya in an instant. A gamble that he was in a hurry to get a first pitch strike in Kazuya’s favor as he took a guess with a change up pitch, timing his swing late and hitting the ball at the perfect spot on his bat.
Watching the ball climb higher, and higher, before his gaze came back down to the field and the grins of his teammates. The soft throw of the bat before Kazuya took his time rounding the bases, almost swept away by the shocked faces staring back at him from the opposing fans (and a few very loud cheers coming from the direction of the dugout).
Pulled into a group hug as soon as his foot stepped on home plate, Kazuya meeting the captain’s praise and small smile before a firm shake to the shoulders, “Congratulations Miyuki.”
“About time you stopped sucking. Maybe you should allow a drink to get spilled on you more often...” Ryousuke’s rare praise putting Kazuya on edge before swerving to avoid both a leg kick and arm chop from the second baseman.
Kuramochi having no words, just letting out a piercing hyena cackle before snaking an arm around Kazuya’s neck to drag him back towards the dugout. A hand firmly gripping Kazuya’s chin to make him look back into the stands, straight at the jumping ball of energy that Wakana and Haruno could no longer control.
“Seems we found your good luck charm after all, huh Miyuki?” Kuramochi being especially annoying throwing in a wink for good measure before retreating to the dugout.
Sawamura’s wide grin and limitless energy driving Kazuya on through the remainder of the game, and helping the team (and himself) cruise to an easy victory.
After a hard fought game, Kazuya had been ravenous putting away a full plate of food before he even started to notice Kuramochi acting strangely beside him. Spending far too much time staring at his phone, fingers flying across the keys and obviously trying to hold back bouts of laughter before Kazuya grabbed it away.
“Here’s a rarity when I'm done eating far ahead of you. Just what has you so distracted, hmm?” Kazuya teased purposely leaning away from Kuramochi’s sharp elbows and tight fists to catch the word ‘Wakana’ on the screen before giving up on his fun. “Didn't know you two had gotten that close-”
“Stop being a snoop bakayuki!” Kuramochi whispered threateningly under his breath, fingers returning to their mad dash over the screen as he replied to another text message. “It takes a lot of work to put a surprise together flawlessly-“
Kazuya arching an eyebrow at Kuramochi’s held tongue and sudden silence. Not one to ever let such an advantage slip away. “Now who's the one who found a good luck charm?”
Enjoying the blush staining Kuramochi’s cheeks as the shortstop threw up a middle finger, finally stopping his typing to look Kazuya squarely in the eyes.
“It involves you too you know. I found a way to give the crew a little tour of the stadium early during our practice, which you could also take advantage of at the same time.” Pausing to wink, waiting impatiently for Kazuya’s reaction.
“I swore to help out Kawakami tomorrow with his pitches, and you know I don’t go back on my promises.” Kazuya’s smirk coming to his quick defence to hide his true feelings, knowing he couldn’t throw off Kuramochi without a fight.
“Your loss Miyuki. A chance for a bit of a break… to get to know a particular flight attendant a little better-“ Kazuya interrupting before Kuramochi could go any further.
“You know I keep my promises, plus I'm sure you'll keep everyone entertained. Just, no killing any of the tourists along the way, eh? I'm sure Sawamura doesn't want to deal with any of your wrestling moves if he starts shouting too loudly again like earlier.” Kazuya’s eyes pleading with Kuramochi not to say or do anything too embarrassing for the both of them.
“No promises.” He growled out, Kuramochi shifting his focus back to food and re-fuelling for the game the following day.
Kazuya disheartened he would have to miss the mini-tour, but not sure how his heart would hold up again in close proximity to Sawamura’s dazzling smile. Knowing he would have to face it again on the flight home, but hoping he had a stronger game plan this time on how to deal with his quickly changing emotions.
How to deal with Sawamura and his subtle, yet effective methods of disarming Kazuya’s barriers every time they met.
“Nice pitch Kawakami! Your slider is really starting to come together and you’re in prime condition for today’s game, just keep focusing on that last throw!” Kazuya showing rare praise at the normally nervous pitcher, enjoying the soft smile gracing his features before he walked away.
Kazuya retreating into the vistor’s locker room, quickly taking off his catcher’s gear before relaxing back on the bench. Sweat sticking uncomfortably from his brow to his neck, a feeling he was all too familiar with playing baseball day in and day out. Taking a few deep, refreshing gulps of water from his bottle before closing his eyes to lean back against his cubby. Enjoying the remaining silence before the sounds of cracking bats and the crowd started to file into the stadium later in the afternoon.
So still in silence, he nearly missed the rushed steps leading up to the locker room’s door until it rebounded loudly off the chipped plaster.
“Miyuki! Get your ass out here NOW!” Kuramochi’s voice wavering trying to force oxygen back into his lungs before racing back down the hall. Kazuya swearing under his breath with the broken silence as he ran to catch up down the hall.
Feet pushing into the worn-down, stained carpet as Kazuya followed behind the grumbling shortstop. Wondering just what had gotten Kuramochi so worked up into a frenzy in such a hurry. Shielding his eyes against the bright midday sunshine hitting his eyes as he walked out into the dugout.
Vision returning to stare at the line of players frozen leaning over the railing. At Kuramochi standing in awe with Wakana and Haruno just as shocked at his side. The arc of the rosin bag falling back into a solid heap on the mound; the sounds of Ono’s glove clenching at home plate, along with his feet wearing into the freshly raked diamond.
Glimmering smile taking Kazuya’s breath away as he too was frozen in its wake. Leg lifting skyward, arm reaching far back with a baseball clutched in slender fingers, golden eyes searching out the glove behind home plate to throw the best pitch possible.
Kazuya grinning despite his fluttering heartbeat. Fingers itching to throw on his catching gear; muscles aching to be crouching behind home plate. Wishing he could be the one staring down those glowing eyes as one fierce Sawamura Eijun fell back down to earth. The roar of the ball landing solidly into the barrier behind a shocked catcher’s face.
I've been battling a nasty cold all week, but knew I had to pull through and get the next chapter up for everyone who has been so patient! Thank you for all the comments and kind words!
Eijun still had a hard time believing all of this was real, surrounded regularly by a major league team (even if he was playing a far different role from the one he imagined growing up). Choking on the bite of food in his mouth as Wakana showed him the texts from Kuramochi, excitement building as she agreed to the tour of the visitor’s stadium the following day. Haruno agreeing ecstatically right along with Wakana’s steadily darkening face.
"It’s amazing of him for thinking of us, and I've always wanted to tour their stadium every time we’ve passed through…”Wakana laughing freely as her fingers continued to fly over the keys, pausing to stare intensely at Eijun for a moment before continuing, “Kuramochi’s asking about you too and if you're coming along-“ Her voice fading as memories began to flood Eijun’s senses from what now seemed like ages ago.
Sights, sounds, and smells of the diamond with the roar of the crowd taking over his senses until Eijun swore he could feel the crunch of the dirt and clay under his feet on the mound. The roar of a stadium filled with people, fans and foes alike as they cheered on the players competing on the field; the feeling of sharp pain and sounds of tearing muscle the only thing left he could hear ringing in his ears. The way that solid earth changed into sinking quicksand as he fell down to his knees from strain, panicked shouting and nervous whispers filling his ears over the hush of the crowd.
Concerns clogging his judgement over any future returns to a stadium, especially with any familiar back hallways and team rooms causing Eijun to break out in a nervous sweat.
“Eijun… Eijun can you still hear me okay?” Wakana shaking his shoulder firmly until he snapped out of his dazed state. “You don't have to go if you don't feel up to it. I know it might still be far too much to process compared to just sitting in the stands as a spectator watching a game.” Eyes and tone carefully evaluating him and trying to soothe any worries showing clearly in the tension of Eijun’s shoulders.
“It's- it’s still hard for me to think back on that day and not be nervous when I get anywhere close to the locker rooms, and especially the field but- I truly think it's time I at least tried to conquer a few of my demons.” Eijun rubbing his hands together before reaching for his shoulder, nervous habits showing themselves to Wakana’s keen eyes.
“I know Kuramochi will be excited you’re coming, and who knows who else might tag along tomorrow to give you a hard time,” Eijun jumping slightly at Wakana’s firm grip on his right shoulder, “but you know, I'll never make fun of you or blame you if you need to escape part way through. I think it will be good for you to at least try to face the familiar situations again, but if you need to escape just remember- a couple taps on the shoulder will do.”
Fighting to control any lingering fear shaking in the pit of his stomach with slow, controlled breaths until Eijun nodded once again at both of the girls, now excitedly talking about the planned events to take place the next day.
Eijun still pushing down any misgivings clawing at the edges of his worry until thoughts of Miyuki started to pierce their way through the darkness, wondering again just how a laugh so annoying could be so comforting at the same time.
Breakfast was a blur of overdone eggs, undercooked bacon, and trying to soothe an already irritated stomach with sweet coffee before following Wakana and Haruno in a daze into a waiting cab. One moment tuning out small talk between the driver and his friends, only to be pulled from the warmth inside into the even more blistering sunshine outside of the stadium. Haze momentarily lifted by a hyena-like cackle announcing the arrival of one already far-too-excited shortstop.
“Hyahyahya!” Causing goosebumps to rise on Eijun’s skin as a hand gripped Wakana’s shoulder lightly in greeting. “Everyone ready for the exciting tour?” Kuramochi not even paying him any mind as a flush broke out on his cheeks blatantly staring at Wakana.
“Sure, not like I wouldn't know anything about the stadium already-“ A sharp jab at his side shutting Eijun up immediately before demanding fingers latched on to his arm to pull him towards the entrance.
“Well then you can help Kuramochi give the tour,” she barked. Wakana’s grip lessening only to pinch Eijun’s cheeks firmly in reminder. An anytime mouthed before she turned to grab onto Kuramochi’s arm instead, Haruno laughing in and joining in the fun before Eijun trudged along grudgingly behind.
Walking down hallways filled with trophies and memorabilia that Kuramochi had no trouble pointing out (even if it wasn't his own team), before leading the group into one of the open sky boxes to ooh and awe over the gorgeous view of the diamond below.
“So why does the home team always have the third base side dugout?” Haruno pressing her forehead against the glass, watching the teams out stretching and just catching the last part of batting practice.
“Well there’s an interesting story about that…” Kuramochi waiting until he had both Wakana and Haruno in tow before starting off towards the hall once again, Eijun lingering behind to stare out through the glass at one far away figure in particular.
A silhouette he would recognize from any distance just finishing up behind the plate; swirls of dust coming from the mound with the pitcher’s final throw. How deep down, Eijun wished he could be the one staring directly at Miyuki from the mound.
Watching as the figures retreated one-by-one into the dugout before Eijun felt the urge to move again, letting his feet carry him from the far side of the stadium until he was right beside the dugouts. The rest of the group no where to be seen as he stepped slowly down the concrete stairs to lean out over the diamond.
Hearing distant sounds of a few players shouts; the far away flapping of a birds wings as a flock flew high above the stadium. Eijun’s focus so captivated in the sky, he missed the shuffles of dirt from steady feet until a voice sounded close to his ear, “You look like you’ve seen this sight before.”
Eijun jumping a foot in the air before settling back onto the solid concrete. Heart racing as he came face-to-face with one of the backup catchers from the team.
“MWAH! You scared me! My heart is beating so fast…” Eijun clutching his chest to try and get back some sense of calm. “What are you still doing hiding on the field? I thought the batting and pitching practices were already over?” Leaning even further over the railing to get a good look at the catcher.
“I like a few minutes of quiet reflection while everyone else is back in the locker rooms. It's nice to enjoy the silence when the fans haven't yet entered the stadium, and take a few last breaths before the craziness begins prior to a game.”
Eijun tilted his head, trying desperately to remember the name of the catcher in front of him. Letting his feet naturally take him onto the field to lean back against the dugout divider. Sighing before giving in to his inquisitive nature.
“I'm going to apologize in advance, but I didn't catch your name on the flight.”
“Ono Hiroshi. Nice to meet you Sawamura.” Ono’s easy going smile putting Eijun at ease as they both shook hands, his back meeting the cool metal of the dugout as Eijun’s gaze fell on the mound.
Looking up again briefly to see the same flock circle and swoop in a large swathe in the sky; a single bird dropping to land lightly on the mound. Wings flapping gently to bring up a cloud of dust before it ascended back into the sky.
“Everyone always so greedy for the mound, even a little bird it would seem.” Ono chuckling while Eijun continued to contemplate, watching the flock disappear into the distance.
“I wish I could be that greedy once again…” Eijun holding back tears, wiping the moisture gently from the corners of his eyes.
“You used to play?” Ono holding his breath for Eijun’s response.
“Everyday in high school, so often the mound was like my second home,” Eijun sighing, shifting to look at the catcher playing with a spare ball near his side.
“Well, I don't mind catching for a while longer,” Ono putting back on his glove before tossing up the stray ball, “if you're up to it that is.”
That's really the question isn't it; am I up to it? Concentration focused on the mound in front of him like it contained all of the answers. So focused on his decision, he missed Zono stepping closer until a glove was dangling in front of his far-away eyes. The smell of well-worn leather breaking the spell of his wayward thoughts.
“I noticed from before you're a southpaw, and it just so happens I have a left-handed back up glove from another team mate. So- what do you say?”
What could he say when his breakfast was threatening to make a re-appearance. Tremors hitting so suddenly, he was unprepared for the weakness threatening to buckle his knees straight to the diamond’s fresh-cut grass. But- this was also an opportunity to put his fears behind even if for a brief few minutes. The chance to feel the crunch of the dirt underneath his feet once again as he launched from the mound to throw that one perfect pitch.
“Here,” Ono lightly grabbing onto his shoulder to ground him back to the present, “let me help you stretch and you can think about it. You can also let me know what you're comfortable with pitching at the same time.”
Eijun allowing the catcher to guide him beside the dugout, shudders easing as his muscles were put through familiar paces. Shoulders lightly aching as they were stretched to old limits under Ono’s careful hands. Time flying by until Eijun’s blinking eyes found Ono’s outstretched mitt for a game of warm-up catch, until a very particular cackle drew his attention back to the dugout.
Watching as Kuramochi lead Wakana and Haruno at his side through the dugout, the group’s laughter lighting a fire in Eijun’s chest that he would prove (even if it was just a sliver) he was still his former self.
Turning back to Ono to nod before approaching the mound to feel the familiar dirt and clay beneath his feet… only to feel the ache once again radiate to his heart.
Feet stuck like heavy cement as he tried desperately to pull his memories and emotions from out of the fog, from a much darker time where he had almost given up any hope for the future.
“EIJUN! You can do it!” The one clear voice ringing true to pull him out of the haze, Wakana’s love and trust showing earnestly as he shifted to look into the dugout. Gazing at the varied expressions of his friends and now gathered baseball players alike as he took in the steadily growing crowd.
Instead deciding to shut every distraction out; eyes closing, breath deepening, focus returning from a past of pain and fear to turn back towards the plate. Only opening his eyes again once Eijun had his emotions more firmly under control; Ono waiting patiently before crouching and signalling to him confidently behind the plate for a fastball.
Taking a deep steadying breath before starting his windup, letting the past fade away to focus on the present and the wide target of the welcoming catcher’s mitt. Putting all of his fears, ambition, pride, and love into the spin of the ball leaving his fingertips- only to watch it swerve wildly in its moving nature past Ono’s glove; sound echoing off the protective netting behind the plate with a passed ball.
Eijun wouldn't let it get to him… not again like the last time he tried to return to the mound and felt the solid earth crumble all around him. Watching from the corner of his eye as Kuramochi frantically ran from the dugout into the locker room, making a scene loud enough for everyone to turn their heads in brief distraction, just enough time for Eijun to clear his own thoughts once again.
Turning back to see the call for a change-up. Deep breaths steadying his movements as Eijun took his time before sending the ball towards the plate- only again to watch it curve at the last possible moment before colliding with the dirt.
Feeling the shame and fear creep into the corners of his psyche that he still wasn't good enough, had never fully healed from his previous injury and the months of surgery and recovery he had put his body through in the hope of one day returning to the field; to the cheers of the crowd that he loved.
Fog once again consuming Eijun as his gaze narrowed to his feet, tears threatening to dampen the dirt below him before a familiar voice rang out, “Care to try that again?”
Eijun looking up to see Miyuki confidently sliding into place behind home plate, mask lowered and glove outstretched in welcome; grin just inviting a challenge of ‘one more time.’
I promise you, this fic isn't dead. It may take me a while between chapters and other writing to find motivation, but misawa will always be in my heart (and these two darn idiots need to find their way together eventually!)
I apologize for it being short, but better something than nothing and to the start of moving forward (and the beginning of Eijun's future).
He couldn't resist the pull, the calling that an interesting, talented pitcher lured out in his catcher personality. The fact that Sawamura was a southpaw making the challenge of catching for him all the more difficult (and appealing) to Kazuya.
Hands automatically putting on his catching gear left behind in the dugout from his earlier practice, not even trying to hide the shaking in his fingers tying up the last of his straps as the sound of Sawamura’s pitch rang off the fencing behind the plate.
“Don't mess this up Miyuki. I think as much as he's helped you thus far, you could do some good in returning the favor.” Kuramochi pushing him onto the field after checking Kazuya’s leg straps one last time.
Kazuya unable to stop the grin from spreading on his face, easily dodging the additional kick Kuramochi aimed his way before hastily making his way to the plate. Sawamura’s back turned as Kazuya gripped Ono’s shoulder tightly once he reached the plate, the ball landing solidly in his mitt with its weight as Ono made his own way back to the dugout.
He watched as Sawamura turned back around, eyes downcast towards the dirt as his foot scuffed roughly against the mound. Kazuya used to the easy to read body language of a pitcher trying to keep his composure together, and quickly failing. Knowing he had to step in before it was too late.
“Care to try that again?”
Five little words. Five words, but the way Kazuya froze when the pitcher turned his attention towards him changed absolutely everything. The way Sawamura’s eyes lit up as Kazuya crouched behind home plate. The way Kazuya couldn't stop grinning back even wider by the sadness melting away to be replaced with excitement the longer he stared right back into those golden eyes.
Flexing his mitt in front of him to settle nerves; watching as Sawamura answered by squaring his body to the plate. A black glove clenching and loosening at the pitcher’s side before his body shifted, eyes shaded away from Kazuya’s view.
He did the only thing he knew felt right, crouching down to stretch briefly before settling into place – arm outstretched with his familiar yellow catching mitt aimed squarely to his body to deal with any pitch Sawamura could throw.
Thinking he was prepared for the sight unfolding before his eyes, a pitch just like the thousands upon thousands he had fought to catch at the plate, wrestled from the dirt’s grasp before throwing out a sprinting runner between the bases.
Yet, with Sawamura’s windup, the normally routine motion of catching a pitch seemed new and somehow fresh… the way his arm disappeared from view as his left shoulder wound up at the start of the pitch; eyes glinting dangerously as he connected with Kazuya’s once again.
A warning, a plea to pull back before it was too late – the snap of an arm so late the ball was near Kazuya’s face in the blink of an eye. No wonder why Ono was having such a hard time catching this pitch.
Kazuya refusing to give in to the pressure, managing to see the ball’s break at the last possible second to be in the perfect spot to close his mitt solidly around the twisting mass – swearing he could see, even if for the briefest moment, a whirl of smoke before it settled in his mitt. Jumping to his feet before he even realized it, mitt held high in the air as… as Sawamura let loose the most dazzling smile Kazuya had ever seen.
“I've seen enough!”
Both men jumping at the gruff voice coming from the dugout, Kazuya immediately recognizing that commanding tone that had him silent and still at a moment’s notice.
“Kazuya – cool down, stretch, and get yourself prepared for today’s game. And you, Sawamura was it? Come take a walk with me please.”
Coach Kataoka staring down Kazuya until he jumped into action, moving swiftly back towards the dressing room. Chancing a glance back to see the nervous look on the pitcher’s face but shockingly, the barest sliver of a grin on his coach’s face before he disappeared from sight.