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Meaner than My Demons

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Miyuki hopes tofu is on sale, as he walks to the grocery store. Mentally checking off the items he needs to make dinner for the next couple of days.  He picks up a basket and casually walks up and down the aisles, looking for the best deals.  Its a little later than he usually goes to the store so he is half way through when he realizes there are more people than normal loitering around the aisles.  

The strangest part is there are a large number of them standing around blankly, not even looking at items.  Miyuki finds this weird, but who is he to tell people how to live their lives? He gets to the end of an aisle and takes a quick look at the pre made bentos the market is selling.  No way would he pay for these when he can make his own food for half the cost of that.  He does see a mushroom dish in one of the bentos that he hasn”t had in forever. That would go great with the salmon dish he was going to make as well.  He wanders off to pick up some mushrooms and other supplies when he sees a market employee come out from the back.  

Not thinking much more about it he wanders off to another part of the store.  He’s on the other side of the store when he hears a commotion, sounds like a fight broke out. But in a grocery store?  

Miyuki’s curiosity is peaked, what could it be? He looks down the aisle to see a group of high school and university aged people, fighting! Miyuki stops dead in his tracks, does one casual glance around, does anyone else see this?  He keeps a neutral face, all the other customers seem not to be bothered by this.  Looking back he watches a little longer.

These people are all out brawling, in the section between the refrigerated foods and the pre made foods.  Miyuki quickly looks at the other end of the aisle where the checkout is manned by staff.  some of the staff are watching while others look bored as they ring out customers.  No one is protesting this carnage? He turns back, and as he watches all the bentos get snatched up, the satisfied customer then walking away from the battle.  Soon no bentos are left and all the combatants are either walking away with a purchase, or picking each other up off the floor.  Miyuki watches as two of the losing combatants walk past him, one with a few scrapes and cuts, the other sporting a fat lip and a bloody nose.  

Miyuki tries not to stare, he knows it’s rude and hates being the recipient of such looks.  Show over, he collects the last of his necessary items and goes to the checkout.  He gets in a line of one of the cashiers that happened to be watching the events transpire.  He wonders what that was all about, and he wants to ask the cashier.  Yet he just moved into the neighborhood, and doesn’t want to be looked at weird because how could he not know?  Clearly they know this is going on, and clearly don’t care to stop it from happening.  But why?

He fails to ask, and politely pays for his food and takes his bags, with one last glance back at the previous brawl scene, leaves the store.  He only has to walk home to forget about the strange scene.  Baseball strategies, and school work vie for his attention instead.  

 


 

Next day sitting in the school cafeteria, Miyuki overhears something interesting.  

“... did you see him?"

“the new dog?”

“No way that guy is not a dog! He's definately a wolf!"

"I've never seen him before."

"do you think he came from another turf?"

"No way, We'd've heard of him if that was the case"

"Rumor is this is the first week he's been spotted.  He's been at the Hoki Mart three days running."

"I don't know who he is but he's definitively a force to be reckoned with!"

"Did you see how flexible he was? He dodged a punch in mid air from Growler, spun around the guy like it was nothing…"

"well I'm sure we’ll need to keep an eye out for him, I heard he goes to this school."

"Whats his name? do you know?"

"nah… i think i heard someone call him gumby, or lefty or something. think its his nom de guerre?"

Miyuki lets the rest of the conversation fade away as he clears his tray and leaves the cafeteria. Hmm, it definitively is something to mull over...

 


 

A few days later Kuramochi calls Kazuya.  “Hyahhhha”

“cant you just say moshi moshi like a normal person?"

Kazuya is rewarded with another hyenna laugh.

"I’ll take that as a no."  Miyuki rubs his temple, this conversation is going well...

Kuramochi finally gets to the point, “anything exciting happen at your school today?”

"Not that i know of…"

Kuramochi seems to deflate slightly, “really? didn’t meet the new kids yet?”

"No not yet, next week. why?"

“Oh. I just thought it would be fun, seeing all the scrawny kids, like when we were at Seido…”

"What did you expect Kuramochi? That I’ve terrorized all the new meat on day one?"

"No, not really, but your nasty personality comes out sooner or later..."

"Really? Gee thanks." Kazuya drops it, kuramochi is just looking for nostalgia it seems, miyuki doesnt have time for that.  But then Miyuki is reminded of the conversation he heard earlier.  “Hey have you ever heard of dogs and wolves hunting in grocery stores?”

"Oh yeah! I used to do that in middle school, why you looking to save even more money you penny pincher?"

Huh what do you mean? Kazuya has Mochi explain it to him…

"Ah I get it…"


 

He usually gets back to his neighborhood by 7, unless practice runs late.  Tonight it ran late as coach decided to run the first string team hard, make them tired.  Tomorrow they have the freshmen arrive, and Miyuki thinks coach likes to make the first string tired so they don’t talk too much crap to the new kids.  Miyuki rubs the back of his neck with his palm, trying to relax the sore spot he got from practice.  

He remembers on his way home, that he needs some fresh produce items if he wants to have a balanced meal.  So after getting off the train he takes the small detour to the store.

He gets to the same grocery store and sees several uni students that he recognizes leaving.  He’s not friends with any of them, but he’s seen them around his campus.  They all seem to be in really high spirits, they high five and Miyuki overhears something about “...yeah see you tomorrow. Let’s have another successful hunt then…” Miyuki isn’t sure what to make of it, but it’s none of his business.  

When he looks around he does a double take, he sees a messy head of brown hair with sun golden skin.  Could it be?!  Sawamura? No way, not in this part of Tokyo, he’s probably back in Nagano, or at some other location… right? My minds playing tricks on me, that idiot would have told me if he was in the area anyway.  Miyuki still talks to Sawamura and Kuramochi on a regular basis, along with a couple other former teammates.  Sawamura is still the most fun to rile up, even over the phone Miyuki can just imagine the faces he makes as he yells “MIYUKI KAZUYA!!!”

But while Miyuki pondered if Sawamura would be in the area, and would he tell Miyuki, the figure in question disappears in the crowd. Oh well.

 

Next day at practice Miyuki wonders if he should play tricks on some of the freshmen, like Kuramochi would.  He isn’t living on campus, so he doesn’t dorm with any of them, so he drops the idea.  He’ll have to keep his shenanigans to time on the field.  The first string has normal morning practice, the coach reminds them that afternoon practice is  the introduction of the first years, they will play a game to see who makes it to the first string.  

Miyuki mulls it over, wondering if any of the freshmen will be interesting…

The sun is shining down at the worst angle, he can’t see all of the other students due to the glare, and his glasses aren’t helping much either. He can tell the first years are all lined up standing at attention when the first string gets to the field.  Miyuki glances over the group, some are taller and some are shorter than himself. Miyuki stops in his tracks, staring at a kid with messy brown hair in the second row of students, he’s the right height even.  Miyuki shakes himself out of his paralysis, and looks again, nope the kid is too pale, face somber, eyes are cold like ice.  Miyuki breaks out in a cold sweat from the thought of that gaze coming from his former pitcher.  He lines up with the rest of the first string players.  He continues to look over the group, there are a pair of kids in the back row wearing caps already. Its a little odd, but not unheard of, Miyuki continues his scan of the group, trying to pick out any familiar faces.  But due to the sunlight behind them, most of their faces are cast in shadow.   

 

He gives up looking back and forth, stands patiently listening to each one announcing their name and prefered positions.  Once the front row is complete they stand back, bringing the second row forward.  Miyuki is mostly bored at this point, barely breaking out of his daze when he hears a familiar name.  He snaps his head over to the left, to look at the student in question.  Miyuki squints to see despite the sunlight, It’s Kanemaru! the edge of Miyuki’s lip curves up ever so slightly, a smile to anyone that knows him.   

Miyuki starts paying attention again, listening to each player, taking an assessing glance at their build and stature.  The calculating technician already planning on how to best utilize each player.  The last two players have their faces shielded by their caps, Miyuki loses his smirk, face returning to neutral.  The sun is finally moved far enough that he can see without squinting.

The next to last student picks his head up, Miyuki holds his breath, heart rate picking up with the excitement and anticipation.  The kid smiles and Miyuki lets his breath out, he doesn’t know this kid at all.  He is halfway to loosing interest again, when the last kid picks his head up, a smile that is all confidence and sunshine beams out, suntaned skin with freckles to match and eyes that are liquid gold sets Miyuki’s blood afire! Its him, Its really…

“I am Sawamura Eijun! I am a Pitcher and Look forward to playing baseball with everyone!”

Miyuki actually lets his jaw drop a fraction of an inch, quickly recovering and lets a full smirk grace his face.  Kuramochi must have known, but why didn’t bakamura tell me himself? must have been tough for him to keep it a secret from Miyuki.  Although it wasn’t as hard as if he had known something was up, Miyuki  had easily dismissed Kuramochi’s question as a nostalgia thing.  Miyuki’s current teammate, Sanada Shunpei lightly elbows Miyuki.

“Isn’t he..?”

“One of the biggest Baseball idiots ever? Yes.” Miyuki replies quietly, don’t want anyone to think he’s got a soft spot for a pitcher. Especially a pitcher as dumb as this one.  But he looks back to where Sawamura is still grinning like a fool, the whole line of freshmen bowing deeply to their upperclassmen.  Miyuki could swear Sawamura winked at him, but nah, that couldn’t be.

 

The freshmen and upperclassmen didn’t get to practice together until after some field assessments by the coach, and then tomorrow they’d play an intrasquad match to see how the new meat did against the more seasoned players. Miyuki only gets a brief chance to talk to Kanemaru and Sawamura before he has to leave for his late class. He plays it cool like usual, “Oi, what is this about?! Not telling your Sempai you’re coming to his school?”

Kanemaru for his part looks slightly sheepish about it, rubbing the back of his neck.

Sawamura flashes a bright smile, Miyuki wonders if you could go blind looking at that too much.  “Surprised to see us Miyuki Kazuya?!” Hhehe, Sawamura chuckles to himself.  

“Don’t use my full name, Bakamura!” He slips into easy patterns like a well worn glove.  Its like they never left Seido for a moment.  Then Miyuki remembers the past year, without the same comforting camaraderie he was used to at Seido.  Sure he had teammates, even was friendly with a few, like Sanada, and Carlos, but none of them the same as Kuramochi or for that case Sawamura.  Miyuki wonders is this what real friendship is like? Mentally shaking off such introspective thoughts he grabs Sawamura by the collar and Noogies him.  Noticing Sawamura’s hair is slightly longer than last he saw him. Sawamura, predictable as he is off the field, fights back and slinks out of Miyuki’s grasp easily. Miyuki wonders how much stronger the idiots gotten since he left Seido.  Miyuki plasters on his fake charming smile, offers Kanemaru his hand to shake.  

“well it’s good seeing you boys, but got to run, school is calling.” With that Sawamura, still rubbing the spot on his head, makes a face. Miyuki pauses, seeing if his kohai has something to say.  Sawamura drops his hands to his sides.

Both Sawamura and Kanemaru glance at each other, Kanemaru rolls his eyes some but then nods to sawamura ever so slightly.   They both look back at Miyuki. They bow to him, saying in unison, “thank you sempai for your time! please look after us in the future!”

Blinking at them, he simply chuckles and turns with a wave over his shoulder, Mumbles “idiots” under his breath, then in a more audible voice, “Don’t embarrass the name of Seido, got it?!”

Miyuki hopes that puts enough pause into his kohai that he doesn’t have to clean up anything tomorrow when they play against each other.  

 

Miyuki quickly changes, he spent too much time with his kohai.  So by the time he leaves the locker rooms he has to run to get to class.  Once he gets into his classroom, flush and out of breath he sits down in the back.  He isn’t a bad student but he doesn’t want too much attention from the teacher or other students alike.  His late math class is easy enough for him that half way through he finds his mind wandering again.  There is this little buzz feeling in the back of his head, he’s not sure what this feeling is.  He mostly tried to ignore it. Despite its persistence, he can be equally stubborn, in ignoring it. That night though he decided to call Kuramochi, see if his suspicions were true.

Kuramochi answers on the second ring, “So I take it today was more interesting?”

“Then you did know!”

Hyenna cackles pour out of the phone. “You think I didn’t beat it out of Bakamura? I knew he was applying places, of course I had to know what school would take that idiot. Hyahah”

“I’m honestly surprised he made it in, this isn’t Seido, giving scholarships on baseball alone.”

More cackling, “That idiot is as stubborn as he is stupid. When he puts his mind to something.”

“hmm”

“What is it?” Kuramochi turns somewhat serious.

Miyuki thinks back to the other day at the store, the form he thought might have been sawamura… could very well have been the stupid pitcher after all.  Does he live near here? This isn’t close enough to be where the students living on campus would shop… Miyuki continues to wonder. “Do you know where the idiot is living?”

“What? YOu want to go visit your kohai already? wow, you two get along better than I thought…”

“NO thats not it… I’m just wondering if it was him I saw the other night at the store.”

“Huh?!” Kuramochi quiets down for Miyuki to explain. “Ah, well to tell the truth I don’t know where he’s living.  Kid was uncharacteristically closed mouth about the whole thing, the school and everything.  I had to wrestle him to get the school name out of him. HUmp, ungrateful Kohai!”

“Hmm…” Miyuki trails off into thought, maybe that niggling sensation in the back of his mind was concern? Or maybe some other more complicated emotion.  Miyuki doesn’t like complicated, he likes straightforward and simple. Clear and precise, like a good pitch, or the drive to defeat an opponent.

Kuramochi bored by Miyuki’s lack of response eventually hangs up.  Which is how these kind of conversations usually end.  Miyuki closes his phone and shakes himself awake, he has to make dinner then homework before going to bed.  

 


 

Sawamura is as boisterous as usual on the field, egging on his teammates, cheering and jeering.  Miyuki shakes his head, this kid has too much energy still by far, he gets all the freshmen riled up.  

Miyuki shakes his head at Sawamura’s antics.  Carlos side eyes the kid while he’s on the mound.

Sitting in the dugout Carlos asks “Isn’t he from your school?” during Sawamura’s second inning pitching.  Sanada is third in the batting line up this inning, but is still sitting in the dugout, turns to hear the response.  

Miyuki doesn’t betray any feelings on the surface, “we’re all at the same school, so yeah I guess so.”  

Carlos rolls his eyes at the evasion, “You know what I meant, the pitcher is from Seido. Right?”

Miyuki looks out to the person in question, he’s still relaxed, and his form looks good, he’s nothing to scoff at pitching wise. Turning his attention back to Carlos, he responds quietly, “yeah, he’s Seido’s previous ace.”

Sanada actually raises an eyebrow at Miyuki’s quiet praise of the loud idiot currently pitching the upperclassmen to no runs.  Sanada’s turn at bat saves Miyuki from the follow up question. Carlos seems satisfied with the answer.  He turns his face back to the game, watching the pitcher more carefully.  

The new kids put up a good fight, Sawamura in particular, pitching for 3 innings, and keeping the upperclassmen scoreless, not without hits, but the fielders have Sawamura’s back.  Miyuki thinks that is as he would have expected from Eijun, that would be the least of his ability, Seido’s former ace, captain and the force that brought Seido back to Koshien, and won (an angry voice says: where you couldn’t ).

 


 

Miyuki after class gets caught in a daze.  He misses the usual train back home, gets the next one 20 minutes later. He grabs an onigiri from the station store and waits.  He pulls out his history textbook to pass the time, he gets into it and blocks out the rest of the world.  He gets on the train and starts walking home. When he realizes he forgot to pick up more ginger and udon, for tonight’s meal.  He turns around and detours back to the Hoki Mart.  He shoulders his training back and quickly goes to grab his few items.  

It’s not till he is searching through the fresh ginger that he realizes there is tension in the air, almost palpable. He looks up from the produce, down the back of the store and sees a Hoki Mart employee come out of the back.  That shouldn’t be why there is this electricity in the air.  The employee is marking down the bentos prices.  Miyuki shakes off the feeling and selects his ginger before making his way to the noodle aisle.  He sees the Hoki Mart employee return to the back while he is entering the noodle aisle.  Then the chaos breaks out again!

People hop and fly out of all the aisles to the back of the store, fighting like crazy.  Miyuki stands stock still in the Aisle he is in, too close to the action, he’s afraid that if he moves someone will start to attack him.  He watches and takes it all in, there is a big guy, with a huge gut that is smashing his way through the others, there is a bald guy that seems to be quick enough to avoid getting hit and punching others in return.  Miyuki tries to follow all the action, but there are so many of them that it’s hard to catch all of it at once.  There is a kid that is really flexible and light on his feet, he’s dodging impossibly close calls, making movements with his body that just don’t seem normal.  He jumps around and dodges most of the blows directed at him, occasionally blocking with an elbow or throwing a right hook.  The brown hair looks familiar, almost shaggy, his bangs hang down covering Miyuki’s view of his eyes, as he quickly moves around the combatants.  Miyuki is suddenly up close to those eyes, they are golden, and alive with a fire that Miyuki’s seen in only one person.

The eyes blink once, Miyuki refocuses to see the rest of the person, it is him!

“Miyuki Sempai?” It’s like time stood still, Sawamura is right here in front of him again. It seems so improbable that Miyuki takes a moment to adjust to this scenario.  

In that fraction of time, Sawamura has been distracted long enough that suddenly there is a fist colliding with the left side of his face. The surprise knocks him to the ground momentarily.

Miyuki  snaps out of his trance like state, he stands in front of Sawamura’s combatant, a guy he’s never seen before.  Thankful its not one of his classmates catching this scene.  The guy doesn’t seem to understand that Miyuki is not his new target.  He growls in Miyuki’s face then starts to throw another punch.

The lightning fast reflexes come in handy when Sawamura swivels around Miyuki’s legs, wrapping his opponents legs up. Sawamura exerts enough forward force to unbalance the guy and although Miyuki feels Sawamura’s legs touch his shins, the assailant is falling away from him.  Falling Back and hitting the floor hard.  He moans but doesn’t get up to attack again.  Sawamura, satisfied that he isn’t in danger from this guy, untangles himself from the guys legs and stands back up.  Chipper as ever.

“Miyuki Kazuya, fancy meeting you here!”

“Same to you Sawamura…” Before he can finish the thought Sawamura is off again, hurdling over other groups of brawlers and to the stand of bentos.  He snatches one lightnig fast and is back next to Miyuki before he can so much as bat an eye.  Sawamura grabs Miyuki by the elbow and turns him around, starts him walking down the aisle towards the checkouts.

The contact is slightly intoxicating, Sawamura’s warmth radiating through his jacket sleeve.  I didn’t realize he was so concienous. “Sorry about that Miyuki.  But unless you want to attack back you shouldn’t get so close.”  They walk several paces before he lets Miyuki’s arm go.  Miyuki is still stunned and immediately stops when he is released from Sawamura’s grasp.  Sawamura takes a couple more steps before he stops too, turning to Miyuki.  A look of confusion crossing his face, “What’s up Miyuki?”

Miyuki thinks over what just happened, and thinks he might miss the contact, but that is no reason to freak out this idiot, who probably did it without thinking.  Not liking the pause and silence that falls between them, Sawamura looking confused and a bit concerned.  Miyuki luaghs it off. “haha, wow didn’t know you had fighting skills Bakamura! ahhahaha” it sounds a bit like a nervous laugh to Miyuki’s ears.

Sawamura stands there looking at Miyuki, quirks an eyebrow at him before he seems to relax and lets out a nervous chuckle of his own.  Miyuki calming down takes another look at Sawamura.  It looks like he’s got a small cut across his left cheek where that guy punched him, its starting to turn pink, probably going to swell. Miyuki’s new found concern replaces his other mix of emotions. “Uh, Sawamura did you want an ice pack for that scrape?” He points towards the younger boys face.

“huh? Oh don’t worry about it.”

“Really, looks like it could swell. Coach might bench you if he thinks you’re a troublemaker…” thats right, this is a teammate thing, always about baseball, even idiots understand that… “You live close by?”  Miyuki finds himself stepping forward again, the movement helps calm his mind, which is suddenly a jumbled mess.  

“Oh, Uh… I’m 10 minute walk or so from here,” Sawamura is blushing slightly, making the bruise forming on his cheek turn even redder. He rubs the back of his neck with his free hand, the other holding his half priced bento.

“My place is closer, um if you, uh wanted to stop by for an ice pack, unless you have some?”

“haha, no I haven’t picked up any normal ones yet… should have thought of that…” Sawamura is now following Miyuki to the checkouts.

Miyuki purchases his ginger and scallions, waits for Sawamura to pay for his bento, then starts walking out of the store without saying anything. Miyuki doesn’t understand this nervousness, this unforeseen anxiety between them.  He clears his throat, “Uh, come by my place, I’ll give you one of my spare ice packs.”

“uh, yeah.” Sawamura seems to return to himself at that. Bowing deeply at the corner before they cross the street, “Thank you very much Miyuki Kazuya!”

“Don’t call me by my full name, especially out in public. You’re so loud, it’s embarrassing.” Once again safe territory for them both, cracking jokes and bantering.

“Sorry.” Sawamura Mumbles.  But he follows Miyuki, they share small talk about school. How does Sawamura like his classes, the practice fields are nice here too, How close the school is to so many parks, and other attractions the country kid hasn’t seen, miyuki gives him some tips as they climb the four flights to his apartment.  

Unlocking the apartment never seems like such  a production before.  But he gets in and drops his training bag on the floor, takes his shoes off in the genkan, bringing his shopping bag with him into the kitchen. Sawamura waits in his entryway, holding his bag, looking kinds small and sheepish, as he takes in the view of Miyuki’s apartment from the front door.

Miyuki rushes from the kitchen down the dark hallway. Sawamura hears a door slide open, a few steps and then the returning steps. Miyuki is back, he has a washcloth wrapped around the ice pack, “Here, borrow these.” he hands both items to Sawamura, how bows after accepting. “You can keep the ice pack, I have others.  Uh, bring the washcloth back at some point though, if its not too much trouble…”

Bowing even more deeply, “Thank you very much Miyuki-Sempai!”

“oh” escapes Miyuki’s lips unbidden. Sawamura snaps up, question written all over his face, “Don’t worry so much about it…” Miyuki tries straightening his shoes with his toes to avoid eye contact, lest sawamura see the blush he started sporting being called ‘sempai’ by the idiot.

“Ah, well, I uh, best get home. My roommates might wonder where i’ve gone.” his voice soft and more timid that his usual self. Bringing back the boisterousness “Thanks,” He does another half bow and waves with the ice pack hand, “see you tomorrow at practice Miyuki!”

With that he rushes out the door and stairs, the door slowly closing behind him, Miyuki hears him descend the first set of step before the door clicks shut.  Miyuki exhales the breath he was holding.  He locks the door, then heads back into his empty kitchen.  The apartment never felt so empty as it does now that Sawamura has graced it but once.  Miyuki scolds himself mentally, what is going on with you? Knock off the stupid thoughts about the stupid kid already. He goes back to his usual routine to clear his mind. He pulls out the ginger and scallions, and finally realizes he didn’t  pick up the udon he meant to buy. “Oh crap.”

 


 

Kazuya looks for Sawamura on the train into school the next morning.  Why he can’t figure out, not like he made a plan with the kid, but still he looks. He thinks if he lives close enough to the Hoki Mart then he must take this train in, unless he takes a different time. Knowing that kid he probably takes the first train of the morning to run before morning practice, that baka.

Miyuki is a little late to practice because he spent so much time looking for that idiot on his way in.  He rushes through the locker room and gets out to the field just in time for the coach to announce another intrasquad practice game, fewer innings this time.  

“Miyuki-kun,” coach addresses him as he stands up from attaching his shin guards.

“Yes Coach?”

“You’ve caught for the new kid before yes?” Miyuki looks at the direction the coach is pointing, its Sawamura standing on the mound tossing the rosin bag, cap hiding his face from view. But Miyuki knows that lanky frame anywhere.

“Yes Coach.” is his only response.

“Good, you’ll catch for him.  Let me see what he’s got in that unusual form of his.”

“Yes Coach!” Miyuki responds enthusiastically, which catches his other teammates by surprise. This early in the morning nothing ever gets Miyuki that pumped up. He is still effective on the field but having pep or energy in the dugout is unheard of. Most of the upperclassmen would be bummed out being told to play on the freshman squad, but an opportunity to play with his old partner, is something Miyuki wouldn’t, no couldn’t pass up.

“Alright then. Play Ball!” Coach shouts and the rest of the freshman fielders take their places.  

 

Sawamura is still fiddling with the rosin when Miyuki Crouches down in his spot behind home plate.  Sawamura finally drops the rosin. runs his left hand over the brim of his cap, he’s still facing first base, just his right eye fixed on Miyuki.  The fire in that one eye is so intense it gives miyuki chills, reminding his body of days playing while at Seido, of moving fastball pitches that set his blood afire.  

Noting the batter, Miyuki makes a call for an outside pitch, start off relaxed.  Sawamura nods, as he exhales then brings his right leg up high, turning his lower body first, showing how flexible he is.  His torso twisting in to the motion next and finally his shoulders and face come into full view.  That is when Miyuki sees it.  Sawamura has not only a bruise high on his cheek, but a decent black eye.  This is a test of Sawamura as a player and his ability to work past a minor injury.  Miyuki is amazed at the intensity of the pitchers gaze, even with the impediment to his dominant side he still glares down the batter.  The pitch is a little higher than Miyuki wanted, but still within the strike zone, and the glare gives the batter enough pause that its in Miyuki’s mit before they had a chance to react to the pitch.  “Strike!” Coach acting as ump shouts from behind the batter.

Miyuki loves this feeling, the focus and intensity cranked to 11 and nothing but the game play riding on it, no victory but in the plays they make together as a battery.  He curls his lips into a smirk, that has the batter sweating as he returns the ball to Sawamura.  “Nice pitch!”

Sawamura tips his cap brim, keeping quiet it seems.  That is okay, if he can keep catching pitches this fun it doesn’t matter.  They strike out the first batter, apparently still rattled by the glare burning down on him from the mound.  The next batter is taken aback by the glare, but not put off as thoroughly, and gets a hit, but the fielders catch it, sending him back to the dugout.  Miyuki watches as he talks to the rest of the upperclassmen team, probably giving them tips on Sawamura’s glare.  Its the last piece of the pitching arsenal that Miyuki hasn’t witnessed firsthand from Sawamura.  He had the pitches, the unexpected timing and hard to see release, the change of speed and control.  But he never had this sharp a gaze, Furuya was the natural at that, Sawamura’s learned something since Miyuk left Seido.  He can’t help but smile at this baseball idiot, always surprises to be had.

 


 

After the practice game (which sawamura allowed one run in 4 innings, not bad) Sawamura catches Miyuki in the locker room before he rushes to class. “Miyuki-sempai!”

Avoiding eye contact, he stops in his tracks, swallows to buy time. “Yea?”

There is a wash cloth being shoved into his face. “Your washcloth, returned.” Miyuki grabs it, then Sawamura Bows deeply to him, “Thank you very much!”  Some of the teammates raise an eyebrow at this exchange, one or two gape at it openly, some others like Kanemaru ignore it all together.

“Don’t worry about it.” Miyuki quickly shoves the towel into his school bag, and rushes out the door, no time to get flustered over stupid pitchers, classes to attend to.  

During class Miyuki’s phone vibrates, wondering who would message him during the day he slips it open.  There is a message from Sawamura of all people.

--MIYUKI KAZUYA!!--

--You ran out before I could OFFER to repay you!--

--so rude--

Miyuki sees these rapid fire texts, and looks around, he’s not drawing any attention to himself it seems.  He messages back.

=Class Baka=

--SO?! No need to be rude!--

Miyuki ignores that. goes back to paying attention to his teacher. Another 20 minutes go by.

--What do you want as repayment?--

Miyuki rolls his eyes at his phone. About ready to say nothing, when an idea pops into his head.

=udon noodles=

-fresh or from the store?-

Only a country bumpkin would even think to ask that.

=Hoki Mart, I’ll share them if you want to stop by my place= Was that just an invitation for the idiot to come over to his apartment again? Well if he is going to cook it’s easier for two than one. Besides he would hate to see Sawamura get another needless injury fighting for super market food, when he could just eat with Miyuki without endangering his career.

There is another long pause.

-is there some catch to this?-

=no catch, udon and dinner without bodily injury. can you manage that?=

-of course I can!- Miyuki reads it, and wonders what is going to come of this. This could be the best or worst choice of his life.  He’s not surprised that not long after he gets a message from Chris-sempai.

~Are you playing some kind of trick on Sawamura?~

He should have expected  this, actually he’s just glad it wasn’t from Kuramochi, he’d never hear the end of that.